1. says

    Looks like The Infinite Thread is ready to start again at comment #1, having racked up 500 comments in the previous chapter.

    For the convenience of readers, here a few links back to that previous chapter.

    A Republican told my teen daughter working the polls she should ‘get run over by a bus’
    Ukraine Update: Action along the Dnipro is becoming more serious, by Mark Sumner
    Good news: voters in Ohio protected abortion rights in their state constitution [and other good news!]

  2. says

    NBC News:

    It has been a month since the surprise Hamas terrorist attack that Israel says killed 1,400 people and left 240 still held hostage in the Gaza Strip. More than 1.5 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and health officials there say more than 10,000 have been killed as Israel bombards the Palestinian enclave from the air and assaults it on the ground.

    NBC News:

    Israel will have ‘overall security responsibility’ for Gaza for ‘an indefinite period’ after this war with Hamas ends, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.

  3. says

    NBC News:

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday indicated it would uphold a federal law that prohibits people under domestic violence restraining orders from owning firearms, potentially limiting the scope of its own major gun rights ruling from last year.

  4. says

    New York Times:

    House Republicans on Tuesday grasped for a way to avert a government shutdown amid deep divides in their ranks over federal spending, debating how to strike a compromise with the Democratic-led Senate and President Biden just 10 days away from the funding deadline.

    Yeah, I don’t think they are really “grasping” for a way to avert a shutdown. Instead, the Republicans in the House, under Mike Johnson’s leadership as the new Speaker, are busy burying poison pills in every funding proposal. They want to hold funding hostage by insisting that various ignorant and ineffective Republican priorities be included.

  5. says

    […] The upshot here? Democrats are continuing a pattern of beating expectations in off-year elections, likely due to a concentration of highly engaged, educated voters in their coalition. We may be looking at a new era of off-year Democratic overperformance.


  6. says

    Followup to comment 4.

    […] Today, Johnson held a press conference asking the public to “trust us” as he offered scant details about his supposed plan — that’s unlikely to pass the Senate — to keep the government from shutting down in 11 days.

    “I’m not going to tell you when we will bring it to the floor, but it will be in time, how about that? Trust us: We’re working through the process in a way that I think that people will be proud of,” Johnson told reporters, adding that “many options … are on the table and we’ll be revealing what our plan is in short order.”

    He’s likely alluding to a strategy he’s been suggesting for the past week, which involves funding the government incrementally.

    The Senate, which has already approved three bipartisan spending bills, is unlikely to jump on Johnson’s messy grenade, putting him in the same position that doomed Kevin McCarthy’s speakership: work with the Senate and risk angering the far-right flank or appease the hardliners and shut down the government. Until Johnson faces that impending reality, he’s nothing more than a projection of unity at the helm of a circus caucus.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    Democrats win in several states on abortion rights and other highlights from Tuesday’s elections

    Democrats had plenty of good news to celebrate in Tuesday’s off-year elections and more evidence that they can win races centered on the national debate over abortion.

    Abortion rights supporters won an Ohio ballot measure and the Democratic governor of beet-red Kentucky held onto his office by campaigning on reproductive rights and painting his opponent as extremist. A Democrat won an open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after campaigning on his pledge to uphold abortion rights. And Democrats took full control of the Virginia statehouse, blocking Republicans from being able to pass new abortion restrictions and delivering a defeat to Gov. Glenn Youngkin that may douse any buzz about a late entry into the GOP presidential primary…

  8. says

    Followup to a previous comment noting Andy Beshear’s win in Kentucky:

    Ahead of Election Day 2023, Donald Trump focused most of his electoral energies on one specific statewide candidate: Daniel Cameron, the Republican attorney general in Kentucky, and the GOP’s highly touted gubernatorial candidate.

    For months, Cameron was trailing, but as polls showed a narrowing race at the finish line, the former president published an item to his social-media platform over the weekend, eagerly taking credit for the candidate’s position. Cameron “has made a huge surge, now that [voters] see my strong Endorsement,” Trump wrote, adding that the candidate has a “great future.” [Ha! So nice to add some schadenfreude sauce to the good news.]

    In hindsight, “great” might not have been the best choice of words.

    […] As Teri Carter, a political columnist in central Kentucky, wrote for MSNBC overnight, “Kentucky is a deep-red state. Republicans have a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature. In addition to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, we send hard-line firebrands like Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Thomas Massie and Rep. James Comer to represent us in Washington, D.C.”

    We are, after all, talking about a state Donald Trump won in 2020 by roughly 26 points. When Beshear was elected four years ago, he barely eked a narrow victory against a troubled Republican incumbent — and at the time, the Democrat failed to reach 50% of the vote.

    Success, in other words, was hardly assured.

    But Beshear prevailed anyway, in part thanks to steady and effective leadership over four years, and in part by running on abortion rights. This ad, which the governor’s campaign began airing in late-September, remains one of the most memorable spots of 2023. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Two days after the ad began airing, Politico reported, “It was once unthinkable for a Democrat running statewide in a red state like Kentucky to win on abortion. Now, in the final stretch of a campaign to defend the governor’s mansion, Democrats are betting hard that they can ride it to victory.”

    That bet paid off.

    “Just look at what we were up against,” Beshear told supporters after the race was called. “Five super PACs. My opponent’s super PAC, Mitch McConnell’s super PAC. Rand Paul’s super PAC, the Club for Growth, the Republican Governors Association, all running ads full of hate and division. And you know what? We beat them all at the same time.”


  9. says

    Republicans are licking their wounds and surveying the carnage from yesterday’s election, but there’s no sign that it will break Donald Trump’s grip on the GOP.

    You probably remember Trump’s immortal line from 2016: “We’re going to win so much, you may even get tired of winning.” The next line in that riff is the pièce de résistance: “Please, please, it’s too much winning. We can’t take it any more.”

    Here’s how all that winning is looking right now 😭😭😭 …

    Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) on Newsmax: “It was a secret sauce for disaster in Ohio. I don’t know what they were thinking. Thank goodness that most of the states in this country don’t allow you to put everything on the ballot because pure democracies are not the way to run a country.”

    Sean Hannity on Fox News: “Democrats are trying to scare women into thinking Republicans don’t want abortion legal under any circumstances.”

    Newsmax anchor: “It does seem like the Republican Party generally has a real problem with winning.” […]

    Video snippets are available at the link.

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    Florida CFO suggests public funding for Trump’s legal defense to fight ‘liberal prosecutors’

    Florida’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, suggested providing public funding for former President Trump’s legal defense to fight “liberal prosecutors” as he battles fraud allegations.

    Patronis floated the proposal on Monday amid Trump’s civil fraud trial that stemmed from a lawsuit brought against him, his family and his businesses by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

    “Why not provide public funding for a Presidential nominee (who’s a Floridian) when DOJ is after them?” Patronis posted on X. “Are we really going to deny one of our own a fair shot against a witch hunt? We didn’t start this, Biden and liberal prosecutors did. They’re ones trying to deny a fair election.” …

  11. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 15

    There is never going to be a moment of realization on the part of Republicans because their right-wing ideology won’t allow them that. They assume that their opponent’s ideology is so evil or absurd that no one beyond the depraved supports it; therefore, the left can only win when they resort to fraud. That’s why the whole “election fraud/stolen election” conspiracies resonate so well with them.

  12. says

    I support Rashida Tlaib here too.

    There is a limit to language sympathy and river and sea references aren’t enough to ignore anything here. There is libel and slander being made about Rashida Tlaib. Anyone sensitive to a Hamas reference should be able to see the intent.

    As an American who called out child concentration camps here I have no problem describing the Palestinian living conditions as Isreal’s concentration camp.

    And due to the clear power asymmetry I choose not to care about complaints of anti-Semitic tone. Hamas doesn’t own the reference and complaints distract from genocide.

  13. says

    I can acknowledge the association between Israel and concentration camps will feel uniquely awful. But then it’s awful that the associations can be made to Israel. I would have thought that such things could be avoided by Israel, but we are very irrational beings.

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    This Ivanka Trump Email Could Undo Her Family’s Entire Defense

    Ivanka Trump was forced Wednesday, during her family’s New York business fraud trial, to explain an email exchange that could undo their entire defense.

    Donald Trump’s oldest daughter took the stand to testify about the Trump Organization’s business practices. Ivanka Trump was presented with an email conversation she had with one of the company’s lawyers.

    The lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, was worried about a 2012 deal with Deutsche Bank for the purchase of the Doral golf club in Miami, which required Donald Trump to maintain a minimum net worth of $3 billion. This requirement “would seem to me to be a problem?” he asked Ivanka.

    Ivanka replied this was something they “have known from day one. We wanted to get a great rate and the only way to get the proceeds/term and principle where we want them is to guarantee the deal.”

    Another email related to the Doral deal makes clear that her father’s financials were a big part of securing the purchase. “My father will also send you his most recent financial statement by hard mail,” she wrote in an email with the subject line “Doral.”

    This exchange speaks directly to New York Attorney General Letitia James’s main accusation that Trump and his allies fraudulently inflated the value of their real estate assets to get more favorable terms on bank loans. Greenblatt was concerned that Trump would struggle to prove and maintain a net worth of at least $3 billion. But Ivanka didn’t seem worried.

    In the Doral deal, Ivanka eventually got the requirement for Trump’s net worth lowered to $2.5 billion, but that’s still far higher than what James estimates Trump’s net worth actually was at the time of the purchase in 2012…

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    Right to Life, GOP lawmakers sue over Michigan’s voter-approved abortion amendment

    Anti-abortion organizations and Republican lawmakers have filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging the legality of the voter-approved constitutional amendment enshrining abortion access in Michigan.

    A group of organizations, led by Right to Life of Michigan, filed a complaint against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state leaders in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan Wednesday, asking a judge to issue a permanent injunction against Proposal 3. In 2022, nearly 57% of voters approved the proposal, which enshrined in the state constitution the “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” which includes − but is not limited to − the right to seek abortion. It also protects a right to contraception and infertility care, for instance.

    The lawsuit also lists Republican lawmakers Sen. Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe, and Reps. Gina Johnsen, R-Lake Odessa, and Luke Meerman, R-Coopersville, as plaintiffs. In the complaint, attorneys write Proposal 3 is unconstitutional because it creates a “super-right” to abortion access.

    “At no time in our nation’s history has such a super-right, immune from all legislative action, ever been created by a popular vote outside of the checks and balances of a republican form of government,” the complaint states. It also states the proposal violates the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution…

  16. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    OHIO (The Borowitz Report)—Irate Republican officials in Ohio have been crying foul over Tuesday night’s election results, claiming that there were “widespread cases” of women voting across the state.

    Harland Dorrinson, a G.O.P. operative in Lake County, said that he had “eyewitness accounts” of “swarms of women” standing in long lines outside of polling places.

    “Many of our poll workers spotted women going into voting booths and literally casting votes,” he said. “These were not isolated incidents.”

    Dorrinson said the “nightmare scenario” that unfolded on Tuesday has dire implications for both Ohio and the nation.

    “There is every indication that women meddled in this election,” he said. “What’s to stop them from doing it again in 2024?”

    New Yorker link

  17. says

    Followup to comment 14.

    […] there was another statewide contest in the Bluegrass State this year that drew national interest, and for good reason. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported:

    Kentucky voters on Tuesday gave Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams a second term as the state’s top elections official. … Having survived a three-way GOP primary challenge in May, Adams campaigned as a moderate Republican willing to expand ballot access and square off against election deniers in his own political party.

    I’m mindful of the fact that the vast majority of Americans outside of Kentucky probably have no idea who Michael Adams is. […]

    Adams stood out as an interesting figure in Republican politics because of his forceful rejection of the election deniers in his midst. In fact, he’s been rather unapologetic about it, running a campaign that told voters that his success would mean “closing the door on the clown show.”

    He sat down with Semafor’s Dave Weigel in May and was surprisingly candid on this point.

    “Misinformation is on the ballot — whether we’re going to be a fact- and rationality-based government, when it comes to elections, or whether we’re gonna let conspiracy theorists run the show,” Adams said. “It’s important that we have free and fair elections in a legitimate system. It’s also important for the image of our state and for our business environment that we’re not seen as a bunch of nut jobs, putting some kook into this very critical office.”

    In case this isn’t obvious, in context, he was referring to extremists in his own party.

    Not surprisingly, this led Adams to face primary rivals, whom he defeated. As the dust settled on his re-election bid, the incumbent appears to have prevailed with over 60% of the vote.

    The point is not that Adams should be seen as a progressive voice in Kentucky. He really isn’t. On the contrary, Kentucky’s secretary of state is a conservative Republican whom most Democrats would disagree with on a wide range of issues.

    But Adams also has a problem with misinformation, conspiracy theorists, “nut jobs” and “kooks.”

    Will his win “close the door on the clown show”? Probably not, but when Republicans opposed to their party’s election deniers win big, it helps send a signal to the rest of the GOP.


  18. Reginald Selkirk says

    @24: “super” rights”

    I remember when Bob Dole referred to protections for gay people as “special rights” (1988?). Someone called him out on it during an appearance, asking how having the same protections as other people was in any way “special.” To his credit, he actually stopped using the term.

    That doesn’t happen nowadays. They keep telling the same lies no matter how many times they get called out.

  19. says

    They’re just rights. They get compared to one another when the come into conflict but even “ultra maga” is just political language that may help divide a conquer a bit, but the fascism is better to focus on. Now that some have embraced ultra maga do we get to single them out in law with it? No, but it might be a fun point at some time.

  20. says

    Ivanka, the fraud trial in NYC … some details:

    […] This is the key takeaway from the morning session. The state brought out evidence that, again and again, Trump was turned down in attempting to obtain financing for Doral, with most of those efforts not even getting to the point of banks setting a rate. And that was despite Ivanka providing those banks with both her package on Doral and Trump’s financial statements.

    Then Deutsche Bank not only agreed to make the deal, but gave Trump a sweetheart rate, handing him cash 6% lower than the going commercial rate. All of that was completely dependent on Trump’s statement of financial condition which covered his assets and his liquidity. […]

    On Monday, Trump argued that those statements weren’t important, that the banks didn’t care, and that he would have received the loans without them. Ivanka’s testimony, and the documents the state produced during that testimony, showed that this was not the case.

    Trump’s loan rates were a gift provided to him based on his statement of financial condition, and the statement of financial condition was a lie. [The lie was Trump saying would maintain a minimum net worth of $2 to $3 billion.]

    […] Engoron talked with Kise and work out some limits to the spousal defense over lunch. Because it’s clear that Kushner was involved in connecting Ivanka with Rosemary Vrablic at Deutsche Bank, and that he helped review proposals on the Old Post Office.

    There’s also the possibility that this could connect with a company called Bergel 715 Associates, partially owned by Kushner, that sold Vrablican an apartment in 2013 while she was still involved in arranging loans for Trump. There appears to have been a lot of mutual hand-washing going on among these “friends.”

    Engoron indicates that because both Ivanka and Kushner used work emails to communicate, they were doing business, not engaged in private discussions as spouses. And that seems to be where this is going to stand for now.

    […] Solomon is once again showing Ivanka documents from Deutsche Bank. Ivanka is hauling out another series of “I don’t recall” responses. Her memory seems to be declining as the day goes on.


    Questioning turns to Ivanka Trump’s penthouse at Trump Park Avenue.

    Side trivia: The property was once an historic hotel where Bob Dylan reportedly introduced the Beatles to cannabis by smoking a joint with them.

    [Hmmm. Remember all those outlandish claims Trump made about “brand value”?] Ivanka views a proposal with the following Covenant: “Guarantor shall maintain a Minimum Net Worth of $3.0 billion excluding any value related to the Guarantor’s brand value.”

    What we’ve seen so far is that three banks, including Deutsche Bank, turned down financing for Doral. In fact, they turned it down before even getting far into negotiations. And it seems that those banks had Trump’s financial statements.

    But then Rosemary Vrablic at the special section of Deutsche for ultra-wealthy clients made the deal after a nudge from Jared and Ivanka and after Trump sent in a set of guarantees about his personal wealth and liquid assets. In other words: It was all heavily dependent on the statement of financial condition that Trump testified didn’t matter.

    […] t’s hard to overestimate how important this connection to Vrablic became for Trump. Through the connection to Jared and Ivanka, he managed to get financing at just 2% (2%!) at a time when Deutshe’s rate for commercial loans was 8%. This was through the special section of the bank devoted to making extremely wealthy people happy. Which … yeah, how nice that super-rich people get an enormously better rate. […]


  21. says

    bDemocrats had a great night. The media remains obsessed with Democratic doom narratives

    […] Not to be outdone by the Times touting its own polls, CNN ran with a poll analysis that appears to have been written before the elections with the assumption that they would signal trouble for Democrats. It seems like it was then hastily tweaked. It opens: “A big night for Democrats Tuesday in state races only highlighted the struggles Joe Biden faces in 2024 following polls suggesting he’s far less popular than his party.” A few paragraphs later, the article’s author, Stephen Collinson, details some of Tuesday’s big wins and offers up this skeptical admission: “This could mean polls are underplaying Democrats’ resilience under Biden, as they did in last year’s midterms when a Republican red wave was averted.”

    But you know there’s a “but” coming. It is of course a classic traditional media piece, swinging from but to but and always landing most decisively where it started, which is with the bad news for Democrats the morning after a set of big wins. […]

  22. says

    Guys. This is getting serious.

    President Joe Biden traveled to an Amtrak maintenance warehouse in Bear, Delaware, Monday to talk up the jobs and economic growth resulting from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that he signed in 2021. In particular, he touted the release of $16 billion in BIL funding for rail projects in the Northwest Corridor spanning Boston to Washington DC. He noted the good union jobs being created by the infrastructure law, emphasizing as he always does that “The middle class built America, but unions built the middle class.”

    It was kind of a big deal, he said, since the BIL included “the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak was created 50 years ago: $66 billion for world-class rail right here at home.” Biden noted that the fully electrified passenger trains running through the Northwest corridor aren’t just fast and convenient for commuters, but clean, since they “emit 83 percent less greenhouses gases, by the way, than driving your car, 72 percent less greenhouse gases than taking a plane.” Unfortunately, we won’t be getting intercity Shinkansen service just yet. High-speed train nerds will have to settle for Japanese travel channels on YouTube for some time to come.

    And of course Biden called attention to the urgent need to repair parts of US infrastructure that previous administrations and Congress allowed to degrade. (Fun fact: BIL fully funds Amtrak’s long maintenance backlog, and that’ll improve both efficiency and safety.)

    All pretty good stuff, and the New York Times covered the story (gift link) and Biden’s main points. But instead of a straight news story, the Paper of Record wondered why on earth Biden was talking about infrastructure at a time like this, when that one Times-Siena College poll shows he’ll absolutely lose to Donald Trump in a year, except for how nothing of the sort is certain. (Remember, the poll also showed Trump losing bigly if he’s convicted in one or more of his criminal cases, which seems just possible.)

    So we got this weird lede on the infrastructure story, obsessing about the poll in both the first and second paragraphs:

    President Biden, perhaps Amtrak’s most famous advocate, announced $16.4 billion in funding for rail projects on Monday, exhibiting a business-as-usual approach as polls show him trailing former President Donald J. Trump one year before Election Day.

    Speaking at a maintenance warehouse where Amtrak trains are serviced in Bear, Del., Mr. Biden made no mention of the polling from The New York Times and Siena College polls.

    Dang, Joe, where are your priorities? Why won’t you dance for the New York Times?

    The story went on like that, alternating between brief mentions of the infrastructure event and extended grumping about Biden’s failure to acknowledge that this one poll says he’s doomed, doomed, portraying the Amtrak event as so much train-whistling past the graveyard.

    Democratic strategists said Mr. Biden is making a point to stay on message, despite polling that showed voters in battleground states said they trusted Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden on the economy, foreign policy and immigration.

    The White House has brushed off the polls, saying Mr. Biden still has a year to campaign and that polls have historically failed to predict the results of elections when taken a year ahead of time.

    “It’s fine he’s doing an Amtrak event; it’s very on brand,” said Jennifer Palmieri, who served as White House communications director for President Barack Obama.

    “What they have to do is stick with the drumbeat on economic gains,” Ms. Palmieri said. “You need to spend time telling people: ‘We have gotten a lot done. We will get more done.’”

    A couple paragraphs later, the story switches back to the infrastructure event, although we suppose the Times might have preferred those sections have ominous music under them. There’s also a brief note that Biden “also slammed Republicans on Monday for seeking to cut funding for infrastructure and other administration priorities,” but no details on what he said, which was,

    “Folks, meanwhile, our MAGA Republican friends in Congress are proposing to slash Amtrak’s budget.

    “We’re trying to make train travel easier, faster, safer, more reliable. They’re trying to make it slower, harder, and less safe. You can’t make this stuff up.

    “But that’s okay. We’re not going to let them stop the progress we’re making. And it’s — I promise you that.”

    He’s right, of course. Even after trying to score points against Biden following the derailment and chemical pollution in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year, Republicans really do want to slash railroad safety funding, as well as most of the administration’s infrastructure and climate policies.

    And as Evan has already noted today, on top of the weird angle on the infrastructure story Monday, the Times even managed to find bad news for Joe Biden in its story on yesterday’s very good election results, insisting in a subhed that “President Biden is unpopular, but the winning streak for his party and its policies has been extended through another election night,” and following that by proclaiming in the story’s lede that

    The political potency of abortion rights proved more powerful than the drag of President Biden’s approval ratings in Tuesday’s off-year elections …

    Hell, at this rate, if Biden is reelected, the Times story on his second inauguration will most likely begin, “Joe Biden was sworn in for a second term today, although his second inaugural address made no mention of recent polling showing he’d lose a rematch against Donald Trump if the 2024 election were held all over again.”

    Amazingly bad journalism on the part of the New York Times. What is wrong with them?

  23. says

    Marjorie Taylor Greene … having a bad time and making sure everyone else has a bad time too:

    Last night, Marjorie Taylor Greene advanced an amendment to reduce Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s salary to a dollar. Why? Because she’s a vile homophobic piece of dogshit. She might have had other reasons, but they don’t matter, because she doesn’t matter. It passed by voice vote, but it’s DOA in the Senate, obviously, if it gets there. The full House didn’t vote on the budget package that included it last night.

    Republicans did this to several officials last night. Greene did it in September to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. None of it will never become law, and it will never matter. It will be just one more wasted moment in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s life, which seems to consist only of such moments.

    […] She’s alienated the House Freedom Caucus, which kicked her out a long time ago. The “normal” Republicans don’t like her, because God, she’s embarrassing.

    She tried to get Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib censured last week, but 23 Republicans were like no fuck you, we aren’t voting for your stinky resolution, it has poop on it, fuck your resolution, we hate it and we hate you. They voted for a different member’s resolution to censure Tlaib last night (with some Democratic support), and Greene had to pull hers this morning.

    She was so mad […]

    Chip Roy responded: “Tell her to focus on chasing so-called Jewish space lasers if she wishes to spend her time on such matters.” LMAO.

    Greene responded: “Oh shut up Colonel Sanders, you’re not even from Texas, more like the DMV.” Which kind of sounds like maybe the lady is having a stroke.

    Petrizzo’s reporting includes more of the back-and-forth from that fight, which shockingly got stupid because Republicans are uninteresting and humorless people. For example, this quote from Byron Donalds, doing some friendly ribbing at Chip Roy: “Honestly, I joked with him and said, ‘Hey man, let me get a three-piece.’” GET IT, GET IT, GET IT? Because MTG called him Colonel Sanders. GET IT? A THREE-PIECE!

    We hate everybody in this article and we hope their power goes out while they’re cooking something they love.

  24. says

    Republicans Debate For Second Place On Heels Of Nationwide Walloping

    With some votes from the 2023 election still being tallied, the top Republican candidates not named Donald Trump are preparing for their third, smallest-yet debate in Miami.

    Democrats are celebrating nationwide wins in states (and commonwealths) from Ohio to Kentucky to Virginia to Pennsylvania. These Republicans are taking one of their last chances to make the case that only they atop the 2024 ticket can stem the bleeding.

    Viewership Keeps Dropping […]

    In this mostly useless exercise of gauging who is the least far behind Trump, Haley has recently seen her numbers rise a bit. Expect her to go after DeSantis to solidify that placement, and the rest of the crowd to attack her more. I, for one, am most eager to see what new heights of utter disdain she can reach in her ongoing contempt for Ramaswamy. […]

  25. Reginald Selkirk says

    Antonin Scalia’s Daughter Loses School Board Race to Mother of LGBTQ+ Child

    In another Election Day victory over right-wing forces, a progressive mother of an LGBTQ+ child has beaten the daughter of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a Virginia school board race.

    LGBTQ-supportive mom Allison Spillman defeated Meg Bryce by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent for an open at-large seat on the Albemarle County School Board, local newspaper The Daily Progress reports…

  26. Reginald Selkirk says


    Bryce, Scalia’s daughter, has four children, all of whom attend private schools…

    WTF is someone with no stake doing asking to run the public schools? Apparently “parental rights” means “the right to control other people’s children.”

  27. Reginald Selkirk says

    Minnesota Supreme Court dismisses ‘insurrection clause’ challenge and allows Trump on primary ballot

    Former President Donald Trump will stay on the Minnesota primary ballot after the state supreme court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking end his candidacy under a rarely-used constitutional provision that forbids those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.

    The Minnesota Supreme Court declined to become the first in history to use Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to prevent someone from running for the presidency. The court dodged the central question of the lawsuit — does Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualify him from the presidency — by ruling that state law allows parties to put whomever they want on the primary ballot.

    “There is no state statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office,” Chief Justice Natalie Hudson ruled…

  28. says

    NBC News:

    The United States is discussing with Israel and Qatar a proposal for a pause in fighting in Gaza of up to three days that would allow for the delivery of more humanitarian aid and the possible release of some hostages held by Hamas, according to two foreign diplomats and a U.S. official.

  29. says

    Followup to comment 34.

    It was a debate heavily focused on foreign policy, with little conversation about how to recalibrate the party after Tuesday’s electoral shellacking. Nikki Haley’s “you’re just scum” to Vivek Ramaswamy may have been the only moment of the night that sticks — to the extent that it matters.

    […] ‘NB Snooze Republican Presidential Debate’ … NBC News anchor and debate moderator Kristen Welker clearly meant to say “NBC News” but the slip, it was Freudian.

    […] And so concludes our third exercise in seeing who’ll lose to Trump the least handily.

    Yes, they talked about a 15-week abortion ban nationally … and that’s after losing so bigly yesterday because they are total doofuses when it comes to abortion.

  30. says

    Ukraine Update: Ukraine crossing the Dnipro River in force is no fantasy. It’s also not easy

    Yesterday, Daily Kos’ Mark Sumner wrote about the increased action in Kherson oblast, as Ukrainian units cross the Dnipro River and begin to threaten Russian control of the region. Today, we’ll take a closer look at what we know about those activities.

    Here’s where things stand. On Oct. 30, Ukrainian forces (reportedly elements of the 35th Marine Brigade) launched a raid across the Dnipro River, about 30 kilometers east of the city of Kherson. This appeared at first to be one of many raids Ukrainian forces had launched on the left bank of the Dnipro. (Ukraine refers to the right and left banks by looking downstream. In this case, that’s the eastern and southern banks of the Dnipro.) [map at the link]

    Ukraine currently controls or contests a narrow strip of land that extends at most 2 to 3 kilometers from the Dnipro riverbank. A series of small islands and marshy lowlands cover much of the area directly south of the river in this area, along with small tributary streams that split off and remerge with the main river.

    The Dnipro River itself varies between a width of 800 to 1,200 meters in this area—wide enough that crossing the river poses a significant challenge. Even after crossing the river, Ukrainian forces must contend with watery marshland, outside of a few paved roads around Antonivka (near Kherson) and around where the Kakhovka Dam used to be located further upstream.

    There is also an inoperable railroad line that runs through the marsh from the remains of the destroyed Antonivka rail bridge, but no paved roads. [map at the link]

    Ukraine can bring over light infantry, all-terrain vehicles, and even heavy equipment at different landing sites. A secure river crossing is vital to supply any large mechanized force. And capturing a few villages near the riverbank won’t permit Ukrainian operations deeper into Kherson Oblast without first securing an inland road—and that means either capturing Oleshky (south of the Antonivskyi Bridge site) or Nova Kakhovka—the only two places where roads lead inland from the riverbank. There is no other way to supply any march toward Crimea or Melitopol with the fuel, ammunition, spare parts, food, water, and other equipment necessary to feed an advancing army.

    As such, I doubt Ukraine has crossed the Dnipro in a serious operational or strategic sense. That is, they’re not ready to liberate the rest of Kherson oblast or march on Crimea. The marshlands and small villages Ukraine has liberated will gain broader significance only if they serve as a springboard for the liberation of key supply routes. [map at the link]

    In addition to an inland supply route, Ukraine also needs a secure way to move supplies across the river.

    Currently, all three bridges over the Dnipro River in Kherson are out of commission, fully disabled by the Russians after their retreat from the northern part of Kherson last November. Here’s recent satellite data of all three. [images at the link]

    Daily Kos’ own Mark Sumner used Sentinel satellite imagery to estimate the smaller gaps in the bridge to be at least 40-45 meters, but the large gap in the collapsed center section spans at least 110 meters, and possibly a few hundred meters.

    Currently, Ukraine is using Soviet-era PTS-2 Amphibious transports to ferry supplies across the river. [Tweet and image at the link]

    The PTS-2 is a tracked amphibious vehicle that can carry up to 12 tons of supplies over water. It is large enough to transport lighter Ukrainian armored vehicles or Humvees. On Nov. 7, images of an abandoned and burning Ukrainian armored Humvee struck by a Russian drone were posted on social media, confirming that Ukraine has already been moving vehicles across the river.

    In addition to the PTS-2, Ukraine also has some Western amphibious transportation options:

    Ukraine has received numerous M3 Amphibious Bridging Vehicles and PFM Motorized Bridge Sections. These bridging vehicles can be linked together to create bridges, but they can also be used as military ferries. For example, just three M3 ABVs can be linked together to create a ferry that can carry 2 western MBTs. The PFM motorized bridge sections can be used similarly. Much of this bridging equipment began to be delivered this spring, as Ukrainian allies began playing weapon deliveries closer to the vest. Ukraine received at least 6 German-made M3 ABVs from the Netherlands, but there are rumors that they received more. Germany’s Bundeswehr also uses the M3 ABV in its engineering corps, and it provided undisclosed “light and heavy bridging assets” that may include some M3 ABVs. The UK, Sweden, Latvia, and the Netherlands all use the M3 ABV, thus it would not be surprising if Ukraine had as many as a dozen or two M3 ABVs.

    There are likely to be fairly limited numbers of these precious amphibious supply vessels. So to sustain any significant force, Ukraine needs a bridge.

    One option is to do what Russia did when Ukraine knocked out the bridges over the Dnipro River: build a pontoon bridge. U.S. Army pontoon bridges can be both extremely lengthy and have a hefty carrying capacity. They are capable of supporting M1 Abrams Tanks weighing over 70 tons.

    For example, the U.S. Army built a pontoon bridge crossing the Sava River into Bosnia to support NATO peacekeeping operations. The temporary bridge supplied over 20,000 NATO troops, the bulk of which was the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division—with logistically demanding M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

    Russia built their pontoon bridge alongside the former Antonivskyi Bridge in 24 hours. If Ukraine were to attempt the same, the process might be expected to take about a single day. For example, the 10th Operational Corps of Ukraine that conducted the Ukrainian offensive toward Tokmak around Robotyne was estimated at around 20,000 soldiers, so a single pontoon bridge would likely be enough to support a major Ukrainian offensive into Kherson oblast—if the bridge could be kept intact.

    As the Russians have repeatedly discovered, keeping a pontoon bridge within enemy artillery range operation is no easy task. Remember this video? [video at the link]

    Two Russian attempts to construct a pontoon bridge across the Siverskyi Donets River resulted in that famous Russian catastrophe at Bilohorivka. [video at the link]

    Ukraine similarly struck and destroyed Russian pontoons across the Dnipro near Kherson on multiple occasions, such as in August and October 2022. Ukraine used a combination of precision-guided artillery mentions and HIMARS GMLRS guided rockets to target these Russian logistical routes with pinpoint accuracy from as much as 40+ kilometers away.

    If not pontoon bridges, what then?

    The U.S. Army has the rapidly deployable WFEL dry support bridge that can span up to 46 meters, falling short of what would be needed for that larger gap.

    The Mabey Logistics Bridge system used by the British Corps of Engineers as well as the U.S. Army can span up to 50 meters of open space, but more importantly, can span hundreds of meters with support struts anchored to the ground.

    […] While Ukraine has systematically targeted bridges to disrupt Russian supply routes, Russia has taken a different approach. Russia still has a substantial arsenal of cruise and ballistic missiles like the Iskander and Kalibr missiles, yet Russian strikes on bridges have been quite rare.

    In April 2022, Russia set its sights on destroying the Zatoka Bridge south of Odesa, a key civilian trade route with Moldova. Hundreds of kilometers behind any front lines, Russia had to rely on long-range missile strikes to hit the target.

    In 2022, Russia launched unimpeded missile salvos on Apr. 26, Apr. 27, May 2, May 17, and July 19, before Western air defense systems had arrived—yet failed to take the bridge out of commission. Russia simply couldn’t score a direct hit. As such, the bridge remained operational until February 2023, when Russia finally managed to put the bridge out of commission … using a naval drone.

    This may explain why Russia has relied predominantly on tube artillery to take out bridges in Ukrainian-held territory.

    […] Faced with Ukrainian bridging of the Dnipro, Russia could potentially deploy its FAB1500-M54 glide bombs, just recently entering battle in September. These bombs are massive, weighing in at 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds), far larger than the 227 kilogram (500 pounds) JDAM GPS-guided glide bombs that Ukraine typically uses, or the 500 kilogram (1,100 pounds) glide bombs Russia has been using since February 2023. Using a lobbed trajectory, these glide bombs can reportedly be deployed as far as 40 kilometers away, allowing Russian aircraft to strike front-line targets without coming suicidally close to Ukrainian air defense systems.

    Russia claims these bombs have an accuracy of […] strike within a circle with a radius of 15 meters. Western analysts almost uniformly believe these claims to be exaggerated.

    Russian glide bombs rely on the GLOSNAST constellation of coordinate guidance, which is more than a generation behind the U.S. GPS system. The UMPK guidance module attached to these bombs were highly improvised and rushed into production—and from recovered copies almost completely built with Western electronic components. The CEP of these weapons are more likely to be two or three times greater than the claimed CEP accuracy—meaning 30-45 meters.

    A standard U.S. Army pontoon bridge is just 5.7 meters wide. A direct hit from a Russian glide bomb is extremely unlikely, although the sheer power of a 3,300-pound bomb can do a great deal of damage within a broad radius. Still, when striking floating targets, the concussive effect of the bomb is partially absorbed by the water, and a low-lying flexible structure is least likely to be affected by shockwaves from a powerful but distant explosion.

    […] the most advanced Western air defense systems have proved highly effective at deterring glide-bombing attacks on key targets. After a series of glide-bombing strikes on Ukrainian positions near Krynky on Nov. 4 and 5, Russian military blogger Romanov noted that Ukraine shifted Iris-T air defense systems within a few kilometers of the village on the opposite side of the river, now protecting the area from slow-flying glide bombs.

    Given the success of Western air defense systems in intercepting Russian planes, cruise missiles, glide bombs, and drones, a concentrated and layered Ukrainian air defense near a bridge site could be reasonably expected to protect it from Russian air strikes. Control of the waterways would protect against the kind of water drones that destroyed the Zatoka Bridge. That means Ukraine’s final challenge would be to protect any new bridge from Russian artillery.

    […] Ukraine’s current methodical advances in this area are creating the conditions where all of this might be possible. Russia clearly sees Ukrainian gains as a serious threat.

    […] If Ukraine can secure a supply route across the river, Ukraine could threaten Russian defenses around Melitopol and the Surovikin line from behind. From there, it would be just a little over 100 kilometers (60 miles) to Crimea.

    But the challenge of securing that initial bridgehead is immense. Amphibious assaults are considered among the most difficult operations in war. Ukraine may need to rely on predominantly light infantry forces supported by smaller numbers of heavy armored vehicles to secure a safe bridgehead.

    The coming weeks will show if this is merely a Ukrainian fixing operation—designed to force Russia to weaken other fronts by reinforcing this one—or the real deal.

  31. Reginald Selkirk says

    Vatican says transgender people can be baptized

    Vatican officials said Wednesday that transgender people can be baptized in the Catholic church…

    Vatican officials also concluded that transgender people can be godparents and witnesses at religious weddings. They added that an individual in a same-sex relationship can also be a witness in Catholic weddings.

    The document appeared to suggest that children either adopted by same-sex couples or conceived through surrogacy cannot be baptized. It also implied that people in same-sex relationships should not be godparents to baptized children…

    Wow, it’s almost like they are real people!

  32. Reginald Selkirk says

    Conservatives’ Favorite Legal Doctrine Crashes Into Reality

    Last year, when it struck down New York’s concealed-carry law, the Supreme Court upended how the courts scrutinize gun regulations by creating an unusual new test for them: Their constitutionality must be weighed by whether or not similar laws existed when the Second Amendment was ratified all the way back in 1791.

    “When the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court in New York State Pistol and Rifle Association v. Bruen. “The government must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only then may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’”

    Originalism—which asserts that the Constitution must be interpreted based on its original public meaning—has been in ascendance on the right for years, but the Bruen ruling may have been the most brazen application yet of the legal doctrine. It may also have been the sloppiest, as the justices seemed to implicitly acknowledge in oral arguments on Tuesday in a separate gun case.

    It fell to Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, arguing on behalf of the federal government in United States v. Rahimi, to explicitly poke holes in the “historical tradition” test. She didn’t ask the court to overturn Bruen outright—likely a tactical decision, given that she urged the justices not to strike down the New York concealed-carry law last year—and instead asked the justices to “clarify” some aspects of this new historical test for gun laws…

    However reasonable this test sounded in theory—and it apparently sounded reasonable enough for five other justices to join Thomas’s opinion—it has been something entirely else in practice…

    What counts as “historical evidence” or a “historical analogue” is open to interpretation. A federal judge in New Jersey, for example, struck down a ban on carrying firearms in casinos even though there were no casinos in the Thirteen Colonies and therefore no historical analogues to be found. She instead noted that French Louisiana had a casino in 1753, there was no evidence that it had banned firearms, and therefore neither could New Jersey…

    Another problem with the Bruen test is that American society is fundamentally different than it was in 1791. When defending some restrictions, particularly those involving dangerousness and possession, the government and some judges have cited founding-era laws that disarmed enslaved persons, free Black Americans, and members of Native American tribes. This has led to no shortage of awkwardness in the lower courts, as one might imagine…

    Jackson used the opportunity to point out that this required the courts to engage in historical cherry-picking, which would cut against Bruen’s validity…

    … a clear majority of the justices, at least from the way they approached oral arguments on Tuesday, apparently do not want to arm domestic abusers with Bruen. How they “clarify” their test without admitting it was a mistake will be a formidable challenge.

  33. StevoR says

    @44. Reginald Selkirk : Vatican says transgender people can be baptized

    When the Vatican – the fucking Vatican – is less bigoted and more living in the current eon than the Repugs and other far reichwing political parties.. Fucking hell. Wow.

  34. says

    I know it is a ‘hot topic’, but I hope people will read this article by Prof. Juan Cole. He is likely the leading expert and a thoughtful and objective commenter on the middle east. I have expressed my sorrow over the obscene loss of Palestinian and Israeli lives and my anger at the obvious genocide of Netanyahoo as aided and abetted by the u.s. Professor Cole points out a lot of facts overlooked by the ignorant and zealots:

  35. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 44, 46

    Ever since Franny got to the position of High Exalted Pedophile Enabler, the press has been falling over themselves anytime he makes these vaguely positive statements. EACH AND EVERY TIME, there is a “clarification” from the Vatican that walks back Franny’s statement that never get’s picked up by the MSM.

    Remember kids, this is the same shitfucker who compared arguments for trans rights to nuclear weapons. This is just PR. Stop letting the religious justify their existence by falling for this crap.

  36. says

    […] If his social-media efforts were any indication, the race the former president cared about most was the gubernatorial contest in Kentucky, where Trump invested time and effort into supporting the state’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron. As recently as Saturday, Trump published an item taking credit for Cameron’s possible success, explaining that the GOP nominee was “not really ‘a McConnell guy,” in reference to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    The morning after Cameron lost, Trump returned to his platform and wrote, “Daniel Cameron lost because he couldn’t alleviate the stench of Mitch McConnell. I told him early that’s a big burden to overcome. McConnell and Romney are Kryptonite for Republican Candidates. I moved him up 25 Points, but the McConnell relationship was ‘too much to bear.’”

    First, McConnell won re-election in Kentucky a few years ago by nearly 20 points. Second, Cameron based much of his candidacy on his affiliation to Trump but lost anyway. And third, the contradiction between what he wrote on Saturday and his follow-up message four days later seemed pretty obvious.

    But Trump took matters in an even uglier direction soon after. NBC News reported:

    One day after the election losses, Trump also quickly turned to unfounded conclusions that there were “irregularities” that caused Republicans to lose Tuesday night. “We have very, very third world elections. You see that up in Connecticut this weekend, the last few days,” Trump said Wednesday on “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show.” “They found a lot of improprieties, to use a nice word.”

    [bullshit and lies, same old trumpian nonsense]

    Democrats racked up a series of impressive wins in the 2023 elections, and Trump’s next-day response was decidedly Trumpian: People should chalk up GOP defeats, not to the will of voters, but to election “irregularities.”

    Or put another way, the Republican leader did what he always does: Trump responded to election results he didn’t like by encouraging the public not to trust the integrity of the nation’s democracy.

    In the same interview, the former president went on to falsely claim that he defeated President Joe Biden “by a tremendous amount,” adding, “We have proof of it. We’re releasing the proof. And you’ll see that proof, it’ll come up a lot in the next few months.” [JFC!]


  37. says

    Republican candidates held a debate in Florida on Wednesday night. So Donald Trump held a rally at the same time in the same state, because that’s exactly the sort of kicking-people-when-they’re-down that Trump most enjoys.

    At this rally, Trump delivered a speech riddled with nonsense, nonsequiturs, and plain old lies. He also made errors of a scale that show he has little grasp on the threats America faces, the solutions to the nation’s issues, or reality.

    But the most shocking thing about the massive errors Trump made in this rally is that you have to come to Daily Kos or scour social media to find out about it. Because the national media, when they bothered to report on Trump’s rally at all, was so fixated on Trump upstaging his Republican opponents that they didn’t bother to mention how Trump’s speech completely jumped the rails.

    At his South Florida rally, Trump once again praised the authoritarian leader of Hungary, Viktor Orban. [video at the link]

    To Trump’s credit, he was at least correct about the country that Orban leads this time. When he brought up Orban two weeks ago, Trump called him the leader of Turkey.

    However, Trump still seems to believe that Hungary shares a border with Russia. It does not. Orban has all of Ukraine acting as a buffer between his country and Vladimir Putin, which is very handy for someone who wants to scoff at the Russian threat.

    But Trump didn’t stop with just expressing his admiration for right-wing authoritarian leaders who were elected. He also went dreamy over dictators who inherited their power in a government that doesn’t even pretend to represent its citizens. [video at the link]

    The population of North Korea is only 26 million, but that’s not the worst part of this statement. Since when is being an absolute tyrant worthy of praise? The whole focus of this section of Trump’s speech appears to be that people who have taken power over others deserve acclaim, no matter how that power was obtained and no matter how brutally it is used.

    As for Kim Jong Un and his 1.4 billion thralls, Trump may have mistaken Kim for Xi Jinping. He may have simply grabbed for a number that sounded good. After all, it’s not as if anyone is going to call him on it.

    […] here’s CNN devoting 500 words to Biden incorrectly naming an Irish rugby team. And another article on this same flub from The Guardian. And one from USA Today. There are plenty more, even though Biden almost immediately corrected himself.

    But if you search for Trump’s claims that Hungary borders Russia or his confusion over Kim Jong Un, you’ll find … crickets.

    Actually, that’s not quite true. In a running report on the Republican debate, one commentator at The Washington Post mentions in passing that Trump once again extended the Russian border to Hungary. That seems to be all the space that paper, or any other national paper, devoted to Trump’s mistakes. CNN didn’t mention it. USA Today discussed how Trump was holding a rally to tweak his opponents, but didn’t report on what he said.

    The New York Times did cover Trump’s rally. That included reporting on how it was “a kind of Make America Great Again festival,” talking about the food trucks and T-shirts, and explaining how Trump compared President Joe Biden to Fidel Castro in an outreach to Cuban voters. Trump’s praise for Kim and Orban, along with his mistakes on the size of North Korea or Hungary’s geography, got not a single word. Neither did any of the obscene weirdness, like the moment when Trump reported his parents were looking down to praise him for being indicted.

    It’s not like any of this is new. Allowing Trump to spout nonsense, hate, and unchecked calls for violence is what the national media does. So is clutching pearls over every slip of the tongue—or foot—by Biden.

    They want their horserace, and they’re going to get it no matter how hard they have to press their thumb on the scale, or what risk it generates for the nation.


  38. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Reginald Selkirk #36:

    Andre Costopoulos (U of Alberta anthro dept chair) – There is no new evidence that Gunung Padang is a 24000 year old pyramid

    In fall 2022, an episode of Graham Hancock’s Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse heavily featured the impressive archaeological site of Gunung Padang in Indonesia. […] Hancock claimed that the site was in fact not a natural volcanic hill, but a pyramid built by an ancient lost civilization […] Other archaeologists who work in the region, including Indonesian archaeologists, consider the terraces at Gunung Padang to be about 2000 years old.
    I see a massive disconnect between the claims made, especially in the conclusion, and the evidence presented in the body of this latest article. The title of the article, and the resulting media headlines do not match the evidence.
    no evidence is presented of any sculpting of the stone core of the hill. The authors don’t present tool marks, and they don’t claim to have recovered any archaeological tools […] If I am told of “meticulous sculpting”, I would expect it to be measurable in some way.
    The second problem is that this kind of andesite outcrop is common in the region. […] no effort to tell us why Gunung Padang is different from any of the surrounding andesite outcrops. […] Presumably, the sculpting into a pyramid would have made it look different and remarkable.
    Soils have an organic component that can be dated […] A radiocarbon date does not an archaeological site make. […] The authors here present no evidence that the soil they are dating is related to human activity.
    The speed at which these unsupported (as opposed to false or impossible) claims spread through the media is stunning.

  39. says

    Schadenfreude moment: House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s Democratic colleagues have some questions following a report on some Comer family loans.

    House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s crusade against President Joe Biden has struggled mightily all year, but Republicans’ hopes were buoyed last month by a new revelation.

    “We have found a $200,000 DIRECT payment to Joe Biden,” the Kentucky Republican’s panel declared in a message via social media.

    The facts proved to be far less interesting than the GOP hoped. Based on the information Republicans uncovered, Joe Biden — in his personal capacity, two years after serving as vice president — loaned his brother James Biden some money. Then, his brother paid him back. In case there were any ambiguities about the purpose of the no-interest repayment, James Biden literally wrote on the check itself, “Loan repayment.”

    As we discussed soon after, this just wasn’t that interesting. Indeed, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell on California noted online soon after, “[Comer] proves Joe Biden generously loaned his family money and they responsibly paid him back. Nice work, detective!”

    […] the President was not involved in and did not profit from his family members’ business ventures.

    […] after seeing this Daily Beast report, the GOP’s line of attack suddenly looks worse.

    According to Kentucky property records, Comer and his own brother have engaged in land swaps related to their family farming business. In one deal—also involving $200,000, as well as a shell company—the more powerful and influential Comer channeled extra money to his brother, seemingly from nothing. Other recent land swaps were quickly followed with new applications for special tax breaks, state records show. All of this, perplexingly, related to the dealings of a family company that appears to have never existed on paper. But unlike with the Bidens, Comer’s own history actually borders a conflict of interest between his official government role and his private family business—and it’s been going on for decades.

    The Daily Beast added, if Comer genuinely believes the Biden family’s transactions clear the “shady business practices” bar, “he might want to consider a parallel inquiry into his own family.”

    […] it appears that some of Comer’s Democratic colleagues have taken a keen interest in the allegations. Swalwell asked online, for example, “Why did lead MAGA investigator James Comer channel $200,000 to his brother? What is going on? Will he answer questions and turn over documents?”

    Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida, another Democratic member of the Oversight panel, raised related points and suggested that the committee “subpoena the records“ related to Comer’s deals.

  40. says

    There’s a report out there which claims that reporters from AP, Reuters and stringers for CNN, NYT et al were actually embedded with the Hamas death squads that swept into southern Israel on October 7th. If they were embedded they had some foreknowledge of the operation. They might even have been able to stop it.

    I first saw this story posted by a writer for The National Review and I read the report. I was highly skeptical but I was curious to see what the argument or evidence was.

    In short, the whole ‘report’ was a crock. I wouldn’t even say it contains false information per se. It’s really just a matter of a pile of leading questions or questions framed as leading inevitably to very dark conclusions when that’s not the case at all. It basically amounts to saying, hey there were photos and video of Hamas fighters with hostages or streaming through the barrier fence. […]

  41. says

    Followup to comment 55.

    Rep. James Comer’s family business is shadier than anything involving Joe Biden, by Mark Sumner

    n the last two weeks, Rep. James Comer has claimed that President Joe Biden “laundered China money,” accused Biden of “influence peddling,” and issued subpoenas to members of Biden’s family. Comer has based these actions on the “discovery” of transactions that Biden made no effort to disguise, including a $200,000 loan Biden extended to his brother and which his brother later repaid.

    However, as The Daily Beast reports, Comer was engaged in a series of business dealings with his own brother. Those dealings, which included a $200,000 payment, were nowhere near as straightforward as the dealings between Joe and James Biden. Comer’s deal involved not only a big payment but multiple land swamps, shell companies, and requests for special tax breaks.

    As members of the Biden family were being accused of “shady business practices,” it seems that Comer has a forest’s worth of shade.

    […] Comer’s family has for years been identified in news accounts as owning “Comer Land & Cattle.” As of 2018, Comer listed this as an asset worth $3 million.

    However, no such entity appears to exist in business filings. It reportedly did at one time, but there’s been no such business for years. At least, not legally. It’s not registered as a business in Kentucky. It’s not registered anywhere else. A past press release showed him as the owner of “James Comer Jr. Farms,” which also doesn’t appear on paper to be a business entity. Comer’s Facebook page also lists him as the owner of “Comer Family Farms,” which isn’t listed as a business entity in Kentucky, according to the secretary of state’s website.

    Much of Comer’s business activity seems to follow inheriting land in Kentucky following his father’s death in 2019. But exactly what happened with that land is the opposite of transparent. In one case, Comer reportedly sold his interest in a piece of land to his brother, then bought it back five months later, slipping his brother $18,000 in the process. That purchase ran through a shell company owned by Comer, the value of which doubled in two years. That company appears to have dealt exclusively with agricultural land deals at a time when Comer was on the House Agriculture Committee.

    Comer’s family also swapped large tracts of land in Tennessee. That includes handing his brother one tract valued at $175,000 as a “gift.” In exchange, Comer reportedly got another tract that The Daily Beast describes as “apparently more valuable” without recording the cost of that land. The value of these transactions appears to be larger than even the largest loan that Biden gave to his brother.

    Comer also seems to have benefited directly from a “tobacco buyout” of land he purchased while serving on the Kentucky legislature’s Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee. This means that he helped set the rate for the purchase of his own property.

    Much of Comer’s story seems to be a more rural version of the Donald Trump story. He started out making small land purchases with the help of his father and brother, inherited larger tracts of land when his father died, and has made millions engaging in land speculation. The difference is that for much of this time, Comer was either involved in the Kentucky legislature or the House Agriculture Committee in positions that gave him insider knowledge and a direct advantage.

    Comer also has his own Trump-style bank connection. When he sought a line of credit up to $1 million, he found it at South Central Bank—the same bank where Comer had been on the board of directors for 12 years.

    If all of this makes Comer look like a country mini-Trump, that’s probably a description that would make him proud. But it would also seem to make his family finances much more worthy of scrutiny than anything he’s claimed about Joe Biden.

  42. says

    Followup to comment 57.

    Posted by a reader of the article:

    Well, well. What have we here? Shell companies, land swaps, and businesses that don’t exist outside of Comer’s claims that they do, A lot of smoke there, so by Republican reasoning, there must be a huge conflagration.

  43. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Reginald Selkirk #36, adding to #53:
    Carl Feagans (archaeologist) – Gunung Padang: What Archaeology Really Says

    I’ve accused Natawidjaja [the article’s lead author] and others of arriving at Gunung Padang with a conclusion to which they seek only those data that fit. […] And to underscore Danny Hilman Natawidjaja’s expectations […] look no further than his 2013 book Plato Never Lied: Atlantis is in Indonesia.
    Gunung Padang is an absolutely wonderful site and it may possibly be one of the earliest known examples of a punden berundak, a stepped or terraced temple for worship of ancestors in Austronesia. It’s true significance is clouded by the pseudoarchaeological approach of a legitimate geologist and his colleagues who are afflicted by one or both of two problematic biases: 1) a belief that Atlantis was a genuine advanced culture in existence prior to 12,800 years ago; 2) a nationalist desire to elevate this and other sites as a point of nationalist pride.

  44. says

    You might think that with another government shutdown looming due to the inability of House Republicans to do even the most basic of their assigned tasks, they might at some point stop throwing pies, towel off a bit, and get to that. Nope. Not going to happen. But there’s always time for little performative stunts, which is what we got on Thursday. Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney introduced an amendment to their budget plan that would reduce the salary of Biden administration press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to $1.

    It’s obviously not meant to become law. This is one of the stunts that’s now a go-to move for any House Republican who has a bone to pick with any government official. “Defund” them all! That’ll show them!

    So far, House Republicans have attempted to defund the office of the vice president and reduce Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s salary to $1, while simultaneously:

    The Pentagon’s director of diversity and inclusion, the head of the department’s equity and inclusion office, the military’s chief diversity officer, and the assistant secretary of defense for readiness — a transgender woman — were all targeted with amendments that would trim their annual salary to less than $1.

    House Republicans also approved a measure to reduce Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s salary to $1.

    If you’re noticing a trend here, House Republicans seem to focus this move on Black and LGBTQ+ members of government, both top-level and not. But they’ve also threatened to use similar mechanisms to defund the prosecutors who have indicted Donald Trump, the Department of Justice and FBI, the FBI again, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and take-your-pick.

    […] And no, the House didn’t put forward the appropriations bill that they had planned on voting on. And they are now heading out for a long weekend. The countdown to government shutdown continues.


  45. says

    Last night, Washington Post editors decided that they needed 12 reporters live-blogging the Republican non-event. Twelve! In addition, five of their right-leaning columnists ran a separate live-blog, bringing the total number of writers devoted to the irrelevant gathering to 17. And today brings (so far) eight articles about last night’s meaningless get-together with more probably in the works.

    Why? The five candidates on the stage last night are going nowhere. They are all down 40 to 50 points to Trump, and even this deep into the campaign, none of them — including Chris Christie — would go hard at Trump in the debate. Glancing blows, perhaps, but no candidate went after Trump directly and repeatedly.

    In short, these “debates” are a joke.

    How many reporters does the Post have digging into Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the House, who, according to his financial disclosure report, has no savings? He has no bank account, no checking account, no cash, no stocks or bonds and he owes a ton of money on his home including a mortgage, a home equity a loan and a sizable personal loan. Mike Johnson’s financial straits make him a serious security risk. Plus, he has publicly stated that he believes the Bible supersedes the Constitution when it comes to governing the country. He is anti-democracy and pro-fascist theocracy — and he’s second in line for the presidency!

    Is the Post putting 12 reporters on that story? What do you think?

    And today, they add an investigative story on Joe Biden joining a country club in the early 2000s. Seriously.

    The Post’s slogan is,”Democracy dies in the darkness.”

    Maybe they should try shedding some damn light on something that actually matters to our democracy. Post subscribers expect journalism, not a blow-by-blow of who insulted who at some non-event.

    What a pathetic showing from the Post. Expected, perhaps, but just horrible.


  46. says

    The New York Times did a poll and it found that Joe Biden is old, and then the Democrats won every election in the world Tuesday night, and the New York Times was like WUHHHHH and wrote every article about the election results like “Even though Joe Biden is very stinky and ate the last bowl of Jell-O at the nursing home where he lives with my grandmother, who is 50 years younger than him, Democrats did good last night.”

    And now that tyrant among men has the gall to go to Belvidere, Illinois, to celebrate the United Auto Workers (UAW) agreement that’s bringing jobs back to that town, like he’s some kind of American president who supports labor.

    Pretty sure the New York Times is still mad at him, and it’s like he doesn’t even care.

    Ungrateful motherfucker.

  47. says

    Israel agrees to daily 4-hour fighting pauses in northern Gaza, White House says

    Washington Post link

    srael has agreed to daily, four-hour pauses in operations inside Gaza to allow more civilians to leave the northern part of the enclave and facilitate an increase in humanitarian aid entering from Egypt, the White House said Thursday. The pauses are to begin “today,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, though Israel had offered similar windows for civilians to evacuate earlier in the week. The Israel Defense Forces’ statements Thursday did not mention an agreement for daily pauses, and did not offer specifics about their length; instead, they said the IDF would conduct “tactical, local pauses for humanitarian aid” that were “limited in time and area.” Asked to respond to the subsequent White House description, Elyon Levy, spokesman for office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, confirmed that Israel would continue to allow a “window” for the evacuation of civilians along a specific corridor. […]

    President Biden had asked Netanyahu for a three-day pause.

  48. says

    Lynna @56: Also, why would Hamas embed reporters in a unit carrying out a surprise attack? To show how tough a terrorist’s job was or something?

  49. says

    Delhi’s air quality hits extremely unsafe levels

    Washington Post link

    Seasonal fires and a slew of air pollutants are obscuring skies across northern India, registering “very unhealthy” air quality in New Delhi and causing schools to shut down. Advisories recommend residents avoid spending time outside in the city, which has experienced toxic smog from around the beginning of November.

    […] The air quality index in New Delhi for PM2.5 — a particularly hazardous pollutant known as particulate matter 2.5 — reached 285 or “very unhealthy” on Thursday, which is the second most severe level, according to data from the U.S. Embassy. These tiny pollutants, spanning one-thirtieth of the width of a human hair, can travel into our lungs and bloodstream to cause heart disease or lung cancer.

    This dip in air quality, especially around New Delhi, occurs every year in the months ahead of winter. Every November, farmers in northwestern India burn off excess paddy straw after rice harvest to clear the land for the next crop — a practice known as stubble burning. The smoke spreads across the region, including the country’s biggest city New Delhi, which is home to almost 35 million people.

    The level of smoke pollution is due to “farm fires in the northwest, particularly two states in Punjab and Haryana,” said Jethva, although he said fire activity in Haryana is less this year. “It happens every year.”

    The crop fires add to a mix of other hazardous pollution sources in the area, including vehicles, industrial activities and fires for heating and cooking. Dust coming from the Thar Desert to the west can also pollute skies. […]

  50. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Puts Trump in a box”: Experts say Judge Chutkan just forced Trump to “put up or shut up” on defense

    U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Wednesday ordered former President Donald Trump to formally declare whether he plans to argue that he was acting on the advice of his lawyers in his D.C. election subversion case.

    Chutkan partially granted a motion from special counsel Jack Smith’s team asking her to require Trump to declare whether he plans to use the advice-of-counsel defense, in which a defendant argues that he relied in good faith on the advice of his attorneys…

    “When a defendant invokes such a defense in court,” Smith’s office argued, “he waives attorney-client privilege for all communications concerning that defense, and the government is entitled to additional discovery and may conduct further investigation, both of which may require further litigation and briefing.” …

  51. says

    It’s eight days until the government funding expires, and the House of Representatives has quit work for the week. That’s after Speaker Mike Johnson had to yank another appropriations bill from the floor because it was too radical for one bloc of his conference to pass and not radical enough for the Freedom Caucus.

    If this sounds all too familiar, it’s because we lived through it a couple of months ago. Congress is exactly where it was the week before the previous government-funding cliff, at the end of September: hostage to the House Republican chaos. Then it was former Speaker Kevin McCarthy struggling to pass the defense and agriculture appropriations bills. Now it’s Johnson having to pull the transportation spending bill off the floor Tuesday and yanking the Financial Services and general government funding bill on Thursday.

    The problem then and now is that leadership is letting the maniacs run the show. In the case of Thursday’s failure, it’s an abortion fight. The bill funds Washington, D.C., and has a provision that repeals the city’s policy that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who get abortions or use birth control. That’s too much for the non-maniacs in the House GOP who are “just sick of every appropriations bill being a vehicle for some off the wall abortion policy,” according to California Republican Rep. John Duarte. Once again, Johnson doesn’t have the votes to pass that bill.

    While all those fights are continuing and the shutdown clock is ticking, Johnson still hasn’t presented a continuing resolution to fund the government after next Friday. It really is a replay of the chaos of September. The only differences are that the maniacs don’t have knives out for Johnson, and that someone with no leadership experience whatsoever is in the top job. Johnson seems to not have a clue how to do any of this, and to be listening to the worst people.

    […] In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer started the ball rolling on a CR in the Senate, getting ready to jam the House if necessary. “The only way, the only way—let me say it a third time—the only way we avoid a shutdown is with bipartisan cooperation,” Schumer said Thursday. “Just as it was true in September and it will be true in the future.”

    “I implore Speaker Johnson and our House Republican colleagues to learn from the fiasco of a month ago,” he continued. “Hard-right proposals, hard-right slashing cuts, hard-right poison pills that have zero support from Democrats will only make a shutdown more likely.” It’s not likely Schumer’s words can penetrate the bubble in which Johnson operates, but he’s got to try.


  52. says

    Say what now?

    GOP presidential candidates are threatening to deport international students who they accuse of sympathizing with anti-Israel terrorists. “If you are here on a student visa as a foreign national, and you’re making common cause with Hamas, I’m canceling your visa and I’m sending you home, no questions asked,” vowed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during Wednesday night’s debate.

    “To every student who has come to our country on a visa to a college campus, your visa is a privilege, not a right,” South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said during the same event. “To all the students on visas who are encouraging Jewish genocide, I would deport you.”

    […] It’s a trend that is setting off alarm bells for civil liberties advocates, who warn that these proposals risk conflating support for Palestinian rights or criticism of the Israeli government with an endorsement of terrorism. Moreover, they argue, threats of deportation could have a severely chilling effect on free speech and the right to protest.

    “It’s a really dangerous rhetoric,” says Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director of Project South, an activist group that focuses on immigrants’ rights. “This seems to be just another measure that is targeting a particular group of people, in this case immigrants, and using vulnerability in terms of immigration status to try to force people to stay quiet.”

    The Republican demands have already gone far beyond typical campaign-trail bluster. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) urged the Biden administration to “immediately deport any foreign national—including and especially any alien on a student visa—that has expressed support for Hamas and its murderous attacks on Israel.” A week after the October 7 attack, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) introduced a resolution calling on President Biden to “revoke visas and initiate deportation proceedings for any foreign national who has endorsed or espoused the terrorist activities of Hamas” or other anti-Israel terrorist organizations. […]

    Multiple GOP presidential candidates say the US should reject Palestinian refugees, citing purported concerns about terrorism. In a speech on Saturday, Donald Trump vowed that, if elected, he would implement a new version of his infamous travel ban and mandate “ideological screenings” for immigrants. “If you want to abolish Israel, if you sympathize with jihadists,” he said, “you’re not coming into our country.” […]


  53. birgerjohansson says

    Of course, for the Republicans, any criticism of Netanyahu and his government = sympathizing with terrorists.

    Today was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a real manifestation of anti-semitism.

  54. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—Ivanka Trump raised eyebrows during her testimony in a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday when she appeared unable to remember her father’s name.

    Responding to a question from Judge Arthur F. Engoron about Donald J. Trump’s business dealings, Ms. Trump stared blankly and said, “I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with that person.”

    Reminded that Donald J. Trump was, in fact, her father, she replied, “Huh. O.K., if you say so. I have to say that the name isn’t ringing a bell for me right now.”

    As for the inner workings of her father’s business, Ms. Trump testified that she had been too busy driving her own company into the ground to recall anything about his.

    According to one observer at the trial, Ms. Trump’s memory lapses were “concerning,” but “she still seemed sharper than Eric.”

    New Yorker link

    So far, Ivanka has used the phrase, “I do not recall,” or something similar 47 times during her testimony.

  55. Rob Grigjanis says

    Akira @54:

    I’m adding the media to the industries that need to be nationalized.

    You know that ‘nationalized’ means ‘state-run’, right? Maybe you mean ‘nationalized if I approve of the government’?

  56. says

    I just heard Putin’s bestie Jill Stein is running for President again.

    Funny how she makes this announcement right after Democrats win some important elections…

  57. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 73

    I’m well aware what it means. If you have an another way we can make the media tell the truth for a change, I’d like to hear it.

  58. says

    You know that ‘nationalized’ means ‘state-run’, right?

    Well, first, a lot of state-run media outlets aren’t really that bad, and often cover US issues better than our own “competitive” corporate media.

    And second, state-run media like Al Jazeera are far better than a media-run state, like any country run by people who let Fox set their agenda.

  59. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Patently Absurd’ Conspiracy Theory In Kentucky Election Shot Down By Officials

    Officials are refuting online claims that a gas leak at one polling place in Kentucky’s largest county was election rigging that helped Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear win reelection.

    The claims amassed thousands of shares on social media Tuesday after reports of a gas leak at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville caused polls there to close for about 30 minutes while Louisville Gas & Electric investigated the issue. The delay prompted a judge to extend voting at the church until 6:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. EST…

  60. says

    Ukraine Update: Ukraine is surprisingly close to securing a pontoon bridge site

    In yesterday’s Ukraine Update, I wrote about the premise that any Ukrainian pontoon bridge would have to connect to the road network on the other side of the river. I thought this meant that Ukraine needed to secure the area immediately opposite Antonivka (around Oleshky) or the Nova Kakhovka area.

    I was wrong.

    Daily Kos community user jeagerca pointed out in the comments that Ukraine conducted pontoon bridge construction exercises upstream from Krynky in 2016 and 2020. [map at the link]

    Defence Blog described how in joint exercises with the British Army in 2016, Ukrainian engineers were able to build a 560 meter span in two hours. The article was vague about the exact location of the pontoon bridge, noting only that it spanned the Dnipro River near Kherson City.

    Jeagerca also referenced a recent video by Denys Davydov noting that the Armed Forces of Ukraine conducted two pontoon-building exercises in 2020 near this exact point and suggests that this is where Ukraine will cross the Dnipro. (Section begins at 1:31.) [video at the link]

    I was intrigued.
    – Assuming Davydov was correct about the location of the exercises, why would Ukraine choose this location?
    – What was the exact location of the pontoon bridge that was constructed?
    – Would Ukraine have any way to bring supplies further inland?

    I began by looking at the terrain on the riverbank near Krynky. Northeast of Krynky and north of Korsunka, there was a bit of brown smudge of terrain that looked a little different than the marshes that lay along most of the riverbank. [map at the link]

    Zooming in on that spit of land and … “holy **** is that a road?” [image at the link]

    Yes, there’s definitely a road. [more images at the link. There are homes on this road. This is solid dry land.

    The road leads north out of Korsunka, next to the Korsun Monastery, then winds through flat dirt terrain along the riverbank to just south of the town of L’vove on the right bank of the Dnipro. The road is around 3 kilometers long, give or take. [Image at the link]

    The path is bisected by a small stream that runs north-south, around 20-25 meters wide, bridged by a small bridge or culvert. The bridge point is just 15 meters long, short enough to be spanned by any number of rapidly deployable bridge structures. [image at the link]

    This certainly looked like the right place. All that was left was to geo-confirm the location of the past trainings.

    There were three distinctive high-power electrical-line structures in the background of one of the photographs of the 2016 exercises. I was able to find the same structure along the Korsunka riverbank road.

    That puts the pontoon crossing right here: [image at the link]

    Everything matches up: the structures, the roads, and the width of the river. This is exactly where Ukraine twice practiced bridging.

    Zooming out, we see that the value of this pontoon crossing becomes crystal clear. [map at the link]

    L’vove, directly across the river is a short drive from the P47 highway. Thus, when Ukraine liberates Korsunka, they’ll be able to link it, through the crossing, through L’vove, and through the P47 highway straight to the city of Kherson.

    Heading south of Korsunka, the T2206 highway connects to key towns to the west and the south toward Crimea. And heading it east, it’s a direct straight shot to Melitopol and would cut off the Russian garrison in Nova Kakhovka from its supply routes. The presence of the road and the homes along the river indicate that the terrain is dry and habitable—not swampland. There’s a reason this location was chosen for these military exercises. It couldn’t be practically and strategically more perfect. [map at the link]

    Yesterday, we discussed Russia’s difficulties taking down bridges with missiles and rockets, given their poor accuracy. As such, tube artillery will be any bridge’s bigger danger.

    Securing the pontoon crossing from artillery fire would merely require Ukraine to secure a handful of villages. Krynky, Korsunka, Novi Lahore, Pishchane. Korsunka is by far the largest of these, and had a pre-war population of just 1,400. These are fairly tiny villages. [map at the link]

    For comparison, the town of Oleshky (south of Antonivka) has a population of over 24,000. Clearing these small villages should be dramatically easier than trying to clear a larger town, like Oleshky or Nova Kakhovka. Furthermore, with more of the combat taking place in rural settings, Ukraine can make better use of its DPICM cluster munitions that have been so integral to its firepower.

    Lay the same circle over Andrew Perpetua’s control map in this area, and you can see what Ukraine is aiming to secure. It doesn’t look like a coincidence. [map at the link]

    Ukraine still has a lot to do to secure a pontoon crossing north of Korsunka, but this is a far more manageable task than going through Oleshky or Nova Kakhovka.

    Now you might be thinking, “Why are you talking about all of this? You might be giving valuable information away to incompetent Russians!” We were originally reluctant as well. The chances that the Russians would be unaware of this potential landing spot was extremely remote, but they weren’t zero. Even the tiniest risk would be unacceptable.

    Unfortunately, it appears the Russians are aware of the significance of this location. [maps showing that Russia has fortified the landing spot.]

    There are relatively fewer fortifications constructed on the left bank, but Russia still took the time to dig trenches and build fortifications along the Korsunka riverbed road, with a secondary line of fortifications blocking the roads to the strategic highway south of Korsunka. Russia is already well aware of the importance of this location. That explains why both sides are pouring resources into this area, rushing heavy equipment to secure this area.

    If Ukraine can wrest four small villages from the Russians’ grasp, Ukraine may have the bridgehead it needs to build a pontoon crossing that can serve as a logistical hub for further advances into lightly fortified Kherson Oblast and toward either Crimea or Melitopol (or both).

  61. says

    Followup to comment 80:

    The right bank’s about 50m above sea level, the left bank’s 0-5m, so it’s about 150-160feet higher. That’s enough of an elevation difference that for combat taking place relatively close to the river, that can be helpful for Ukraine.

    The artillery guns aren’t lining up right on the river though, modern artillery fires at least 10+km from their targets. So the artillery guns themselves are a good 5-10km from the river.

    What the height advbantage helps with is spotting the enemy, as well as using laser sites to mark targets for laser guided munitions.

  62. says

    NBC News:

    The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating a series of letters containing suspicious powder that were sent to election workers in multiple states in recent days, law enforcement officials told NBC News.

  63. says


    The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating a series of letters containing suspicious powder that were sent to election workers in multiple states in recent days, law enforcement officials told NBC News.

  64. says

    NBC News:

    SAG-AFTRA, the union representing more than 150,000 film and television performers, reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the entertainment world’s top studios Wednesday — a major step that would revive an industry that has been virtually paralyzed for months.

  65. says

    Huffington Post:

    President Joe Biden hit a milestone on Tuesday that he’ll certainly be touting on the campaign trail: He’s put 150 people into lifetime federal judgeships — and of those, 100 are women and 98 are people of color.

  66. KG says

    You know that ‘nationalized’ means ‘state-run’, right? Maybe you mean ‘nationalized if I approve of the government’? – Rob Grigjanis@73

    The BBC is “nationalized” in the sense of being publicly owned, but it’s not “state run” in the sense that the government tells it what to say – at least not in any direct fashion. And while it’s far from perfect, it’s a fuck of lot better than Fox News or its recent UK imitators. Its governance could be improved by direct election of the board of governors by licence payers, or pehaps better, their appointment by lot. In any case, we’ve seen the outcome of allowing ownership by oligarchs.

  67. KG says

    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain@53, 59,
    Thanks for this. What I struggle to understand is why Danny Hilman Natawidjaja identifies Gunung Padang with Atlantis rather than Mu, which at least according to James Churchward was located close to modern Indonesia!

  68. Reginald Selkirk says

    Rep. Elise Stefanik files ethics complaint against judge in Trump’s civil fraud trial

    Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair, has filed a judicial ethics complaint against the judge presiding over the New York civil fraud case against Donald Trump, accusing Judge Arthur Engoron of “weaponized law fare” against the former president, and calling on the judge to recuse himself…

    She seems extremely for her own turn under the bus.

  69. Reginald Selkirk says

    China’s ICBC, the world’s biggest bank, hit by cyberattack that reportedly disrupted Treasury markets

    The U.S. financial services division of Chinese bank ICBC was hit with a cyberattack that reportedly disrupted the trading of Treasurys.

    Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest lender by assets, said Thursday that its financial services arm, called ICBC Financial Services, experienced a ransomware attack “that resulted in disruption to certain” systems…

  70. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mike Johnson Sends House Home Early So He Can Hobnob With Paris Elitists

    Despite having little more than a week to avert a government shutdown, House Speaker Mike Johnson seems to have sent representatives home early so he could catch a flight to Paris to attend a far-right conference…

    Johnson’s early dismissal on Thursday may have been because he needed to rush across the Atlantic Ocean to appear at the Worldwide Freedom Initiative. The inaugural conference was organized by the groups Republicans Overseas Worldwide and Republicans Overseas France, with the goal of bringing together “the world’s like-minded conservative, patriotic and center right leaders.” …

  71. Reginald Selkirk says

    Alabama can’t prosecute people who help women leave the state for abortions, Justice Department says

    The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday said Alabama cannot use conspiracy laws to prosecute people and groups who help women leave the state to obtain abortions.

    The Justice Department filed a statement of its position in consolidated lawsuits against Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, arguing that such prosecutions would be unconstitutional. The lawsuits, filed by an abortion fund and former providers, seek a court ruling clarifying the state can’t use conspiracy statutes to prosecute people who help Alabama women travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion. Marshall has not prosecuted anyone for providing such assistance, but he has made statements saying that his office would “look at” groups that provide abortion help.

    The Justice Department argued in the filing that the U.S. Constitution protects the right to travel. The department said that just as Marshall cannot stop women from crossing state lines to obtain a legal abortion, “neither can he seek to achieve the same result by threatening to prosecute anyone who assists that individual in their travel.” …

  72. says

    Conservative justices could take steps to reassure the public that the Supreme Court is a neutral arbiter worthy of trust. They keep doing the opposite.

    A year ago this week, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito received a standing ovation at a Federalist Society event, where the jurist praised the conservative group and its impact. “Boy,” the far-right justice said, “is your work needed today.”

    Alito wasn’t alone: Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, each of whom were nominated by Donald Trump, were also in attendance.

    Almost exactly a year later, the Federalist Society held another celebration in the nation’s capital, and the identical lineup of four sitting Supreme Court justices were again on hand to join in the organization’s festivities. This time, however, it was a different conservative receiving an ovation. The Washington Post reported:

    Justice Amy Coney Barrett received a standing ovation Thursday night at a black-tie gala for the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group that played a key role in her 2020 nomination and in helping former president Donald Trump transform the federal judiciary.

    To be sure, Barrett’s comments at the event were rather anodyne. She talked about her schedule, her family, and the “collegial” relationships she enjoys with her contemporaries on the high court.

    But her appearance was notable in its own right, independent of her remarks.

    It’s one thing when Supreme Court justices appear at universities or legal symposiums; it’s something else when they extend their imprimatur to ideological causes. Politico, for example, has described the Federalist Society as a “right-leaning lawyers’ group that has become instrumental in grooming and vetting candidates to be nominated to the federal judiciary by Republican presidents.”

    When a sitting justice — or more to the point, when the same four sitting justices — repeatedly help celebrate such an organization, they necessarily give the impression that they’re part of a broader political movement.

    What’s more, Barrett’s appearance came against a backdrop in which the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating Supreme Court ethics controversies, as part of its probe, the panel has questions for conservative activist Leonard Leo — one of the Federalist Society’s longtime leaders, who was also in attendance last night.

    None of this does the court any favors. Gallup polling has found public trust in the Supreme Court deteriorating to historical lows, and a national Grinnell College/Selzer survey last year that found that nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that politics drives the justices’ rulings.

    Members of the court’s far-right majority could take steps to reassure the public that the Supreme Court is a neutral arbiter worthy of trust and respect. They keep doing the opposite.

    A couple of years ago, Barrett tried to defend the Supreme Court’s political impartiality — while speaking alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who rushed her onto the bench during the 2020 presidential election as part of a brazenly political display.

    “My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” the justice said at the time.

    Is it any wonder why some find her assurances hard to believe?

  73. says

    FRIDAY 11/10 Good News Roundup

    Not only are there millions more of us, but we are gaining voters while the other side loses them steadily, by mostly normal death among their elderly, and quite unusual loss of a third of their Gen Z children to us. Also women upset about abortion, and a whole lot of other people upset about the other side’s increasing nastiness and paskudnyakery. […]

    [CaliGamer posted] “Do Seniors know that trump is going to cut #SocialSecurity? Do those on #Disability know that trump is planning to cut their benefits? Someone should tell them”

    [Kevin Standee posted] “I expect that older trumpistias assume that he won’t cut THEIR Social Security, only those Bad People’s payments.”

    We also have majorities, larger than just Democratic numbers, on all of the issues. […]

    Simply losing Joe Manchin’s seat would leave us with control of the Senate, at 50-50 plus VP Harris. There will be plenty of Doom&Gloom, and plenty of real analysis to come. Remember, the 2024 elections are literally a year away, an eternity in politics.

    […] Manchin is hallucinating about running for President against Joe Biden.

    […] I love the smell of snark in the morning. It smells of…victory.

    I’m so tired of all the winning! Make it stop!!!
    – New Jersey Republicans got demolished. How bad did it get? A Trump district +35 in NJ was flipped by a Democrat! [True! LOL]
    – Ohio voted to protect abortion rights!
    – Ohio voted to legalize recreational marijuana!
    – Virginia flipped the state house blue!!
    – Virginia also held the state senate to control the legislature!! (RIP Glen Youngkin’s WH dreams.)
    – Democrat Andy Beshear won in deep red KY! He even won in deep red Letcher county, a county that went to Trump by 60 points last time! [Again, true! Yay!]

    BREAKING: Democratic Judge Dan McCaffery WINS the open seat on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, ending Republican dreams of stealing the 2024 election for Trump by seating a Big Liar on Pennsylvania’s top Court.
    Another huge loss for Republicans, and a massive win for Democrats!

    […] more at the link

  74. says

    Yes, Mike Johnson has a Checking Account.

    There’s been a lot of speculation about how House Speaker Mike Johnson gets paid. He apparently has not reported any income in recent congressional filings, leading people to guess that he is paid in Rubles, Cash, Ameros, Dogecoin, or some other questionable way. However, Catherine Rampell at WASHINGTON POST has answers. Let’s start with the questions:

    Johnson’s recent launch from obscure congressional backbencher to one of the most powerful people in the country has come with a wave of scrutiny. Reporters are combing through his past and finding weird stuff — his curious arrangement with his son to monitor each others’ digital devices for porn, for instance.

    One less salacious but perhaps more consequential discovery involves his finances. In his most recent annual financial disclosures, released last year, Johnson (R-La.) reports no assets at all


    Very suspicious. […] he’s apparently never reported an account or any income at all since 2016. That’s fucking weird.

    The guy makes six figures, after all.

    maybe he had bank balances so low that they’re below the required reporting threshold — which is $1,000 for any given account […]

    This would suggest that the speaker was living hand to mouth. That is, whatever money comes in might be going right out the door.

    Luckily people, including Catherine Rampell are on the story:

    […] Johnson does indeed have a bank account. His account does not pay interest, though, which makes it exempt from House disclosure rules.

    Holding your family’s entire savings in a non-interest-bearing account is a strange choice for a high-income household, particularly during a period of high inflation. But more important, this arrangement still leaves voters in the dark about Johnson’s financial well-being. Whatever Johnson’s motivation for managing his money this way, the effect is to obscure what his resources actually look like and whether he’s under the kind of financial strain that other parts of his disclosures might suggest.

    So it sounds like Mike found a way to keep his assets a secret, by foregoing interest on money in his account. It’s a strange choice, and I’m guessing whatever shenanigans he’s up to is worth losing out on interest on his account. I’ll leave the last word to Catherine:

    This is why we have financial disclosures in the first place: so Americans can judge whether public servants are truly serving the public interest or their own. Yes, a loophole allows Johnson to keep secret the value of his financial assets. If Johnson wants to prove he’s worthy of his unexpected promotion, though, he should release more information about what’s really happening with his finances.

  75. says

    New York Times blasts Cotton [Senator Tom Cotton] for ‘harvesting disinformation’ about journalists in Middle East

    The New York Times sent a scathing rebuke in response to a letter from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) demanding more information from the outlet on its news-gathering process as it covers the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

    In a letter to Times leadership dated Thursday, Cotton cited “reports” that suggested journalists working on its behalf were embedded with Hamas around the time of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and “knew about the attack.”

    “If your employees, as part of their work, participated in terrorist activities or if your organization or employees provided material support (including any funding) to Hamas, the leadership of your organization may also face criminal penalties under federal law,” he said.

    […] In its response to Cotton, the Times wrote that his letter “exacerbates” the “spread of disinformation and incendiary rhetoric” around journalists covering the war.

    “You are merely parroting disinformation harvested form the internet based on a website that has conceded it had no evidence for its claims,” the Times said.

    Cotton separately wrote a letter to the Department of Justice on Thursday asking it to probe whether or journalists working for the international news outlets “committed federal crimes by supporting Hamas terrorists.”

  76. says

    Don’t get too excited. This is only good news for now. That could change.

    Judge denies Trump bid to delay classified documents trial

    A federal judge in Florida, for now, declined to delay the start of former President Trump’s criminal case over his handling of classified documents, though she did push back several pretrial deadlines in the case.

    U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon ruled Friday that she would dismiss the motion from Trump’s legal team “without prejudice” against taking it up again in the future. The trial’s start date could be reconsidered at a scheduling conference March 1, she wrote.

    […] Trump’s classified documents trial is scheduled to begin May 20, a little over two months after his D.C.-based trial on charges linked to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election is set to begin, on March 4. Trump’s criminal case in New York over a hush-money payment is set to head to trial on March 25, and a trial in Trump’s fourth criminal case, linked to his actions in Georgia after the 2020 election, has not yet been scheduled. […]

  77. Akira MacKenzie says

    …, with the goal of bringing together “the world’s like-minded conservative, patriotic and center right leaders.” …

    So, in in other words, “fascists.”

  78. says

    Trump Told ‘Hot Johnny’ To Go Ahead And Pull The Troops From Literally Everywhere In Last Few Weeks Before Refusing Peaceful Transfer Of Power

    Remember Johnny McEntee, the poster boy for the Trump administration’s vast wasteland of unqualified morons nudging President Brainworms to tear himself away from “Fox & Friends” long enough to sign orders with insane goals […] The twentysomething body man for Trump who got perp-walked out of the White House because he turned out to be a degenerate gambler, then got hired back to oversee a political purge of the executive branch?

    ABC’s chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl two years ago published a bugfuck insane book about the bugfuck insane last few weeks of the Trump administration. McEntee was a major character, and Karl portrayed him as a sociopathic student […] who decides to spend the end of his high school career pulling hilarious pranks like murdering the principal and setting the school on fire.

    Now Karl has returned with yet another bugfuck insane book chronicling those weeks, with the proviso that McEntee’s role “was even greater than I had realized.” Really? What could be greater than a 29-year-old former college football quarterback with zero legal training or experience in foreign policy getting the secretary of Defense fired and writing legal memos assuring the actual lawyers on Mike Pence’s staff that contrary to what literally all the case law and common sense suggested, the vice president did indeed have the power to unilaterally overturn the election?

    Axios had previously reported that it was McEntee who gave Douglas Macgregor, a right-wing loon McEntee hired to be the chief adviser to Defense Sec Esper’s replacement Christopher Miller, four bullet points to accomplish in the last few weeks before Trump left office:
    · Pull American forces out of Afghanistan.
    · Pull American forces out of Iraq and Syria.
    · Complete the withdrawal of American forces from Germany (!).
    · Pull American forces out of Africa.

    Sure, nothing major, just re-orient American foreign policy in two months with no input from anyone else in government. Great idea.

    In his new book, Karl gives the heretofore-unpublished account of what happened next:

    Three days after Macgregor arrived at the Pentagon, he called McEntee and told him he couldn’t accomplish any of the items on their handwritten to-do list without a signed order from the president.

    “Hey, they’re not going to do anything we want, or the president wants, without a directive,” Macgregor told him, emphasizing the need for an official White House order signed by Trump. The Pentagon’s stonewalling made sense, of course: You don’t make major changes to America’s global defense posture based on a glorified Post-it note from the president’s body guy.

    […] Macgregor told McEntee to write up an order focusing on just the first bullet point — withdrawal from Afghanistan — but of course any order more high-level than “bring Donald Trump 187 Diet Cokes a day” was more than McEntee was qualified to write:

    “I was called on the phone by one of McEntee’s staffers who was having trouble formatting the order and getting the language straight,” Macgregor recalled. The retired colonel told the thirty-year-old staffer to open a cabinet, find an old presidential decision memorandum, and copy it.

    Easy enough. The duo wrote up the order, had the president sign it, and sent it over to Kash Patel, the new acting defense secretary’s chief of staff.

    What followed was various high-level officials — Miller, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, low-level functionaries of that nature — getting together to ask each other, basically, What the fuck? They even briefly entertained the possibility that McEntee had forged Trump’s signature on the order using an autopen.

    So the officials went looking for Trump and found him where he was spending all his time after the election: his private dining room, watching Fox and throwing ketchup against the walls. After explaining that an order abandoning Afghanistan could not be executed without a lot more input and legal advice from across the government, Trump rescinded the order, presumably because doing all that legalistic voodoo sounded like work […]

    No, really:

    [T]he episode demonstrated once again that the president of the United States couldn’t get the people he appointed to carry out his policies because he couldn’t be bothered to learn how to implement them. As soon as he realized an Afghanistan withdrawal would require more work than having McEntee scribble up a note, he dropped it entirely.

    Johnny McEntee has since landed at Project 2025, the organization dedicated to staffing the next Trump administration with thousands upon thousands of Johnny McEntees who will carry out Trump’s orders without questioning minor details like their legality.

    We apologize for writing something earnest, but, you know, Jesus hopped-up Christ.

  79. says

    Akira @102, correct. :-)

    In other news related to American doofuses traveling overseas to meet with fascists:

    Hey remember when Jill Stein was in that picture with Michael Flynn and Vladimir Putin at the RT gala in Russia in 2015 […] How you say LOL in Russian?

    Anyway, that fucking psycho woman is throwing her giant furry Russian ushanka hat in the ring again […]

    Stein would like to be the Green Party nominee […] We imagine she’s as nutbag crazy as she was back in 2016 when she received more than the difference of votes in Michigan and Wisconsin between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. [Yep. Painfully true.]

    Would America’s last several years have gone differently if Jill Stein hadn’t been there to con those people? Would innumerable people whose lives were ruined or even ended as a result of the Trump administration be better off, or perhaps not dead now if Jill Stein didn’t have an inflated sense of her own relevance on this planet? Who can say!

    She is so stupid. We remember this one memorable interview in 2017 where we wanted to throw things at our TV when she started complaining that the North Korean government was being demonized. Poor North Korea! […]

    Oh, and she was so mad about the US sanctioning Russia for attacking our election in 2016. How could you even prove Russia had done that, except for how it was proven one million times in one million ways?

    But anyway, um, yeah, she’s fucking here.

    Words, she is still making words:

    “The political system is broken,” Stein said in a video posted on social media, announcing her bid for the nomination. “The bipartisan establishment failed us, and we need a party that serves the people.”


    “Democrats have betrayed their promises for working people, youth and the climate again and again, while Republicans don’t even make such promises in the first place,” Stein said in her announcement video. “And both parties are a danger to our democracy — expanding censorship, criminalizing protests, throwing competitors off the ballot, suppressing debates, rigging their primaries.”

    Oh fuck off.

    But won’t Stein be running against fellow idiot Cornel West for the Green Party nom? No, you forgot that Cornel West is running as an independent now because you’ve been playing hooky from giving a fuck what Cornel West is doing for your entire life.

    The Washington Post does remind us, though, that before West decided to quit Green Partying, Stein was helping with his campaign, and said he was “the right person for America.” Don’t know what changed there. We’d wildly speculate but oh my God, again, nobody has the bandwidth for “Jill Stein” anymore.

    Fuck that. Declined. […]

  80. says

    Washington Post:

    On Thursday morning, Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) … appeared on CNN to discuss subpoenas issued by Comer’s Oversight Committee. … Murphy was asked by host John Berman whether he would vote to hold the Bidens in contempt should they not comply with the subpoena. “Absolutely,” Murphy replied.


    The trouble, of course, was that the North Carolina Republican had a different set of standards in the recent past: When Steve Bannon blew off a subpoena from the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee, Murphy did not vote to hold him in contempt for failing to comply.

    When the CNN host reminded the congressman about this, Murphy responded, “It’s a little bit different of standards, John, when you have somebody who’s in elected office, versus somebody who’s not in elected office.”

    He apparently hadn’t thought this through. When the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed Bannon, he was a private citizen who used to hold an influential position in the White House. The Oversight Committee has now subpoenaed Hunter Biden, who is also a private citizen, and who has never held any public office at any level.

    […] House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan also ignored a congressional subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee — and by Murphy’s standards, the Ohio Republican should “absolutely” face a contempt vote.

    The Post’s analysis added, “Both Berman and Murphy know the real answer, of course: Bannon is on the Republican ‘team’ and Hunter Biden is on the Democratic side, and that’s the difference.” […]


  81. says

    Surreal week in the House shows just how broken the GOP is

    Some things you just can’t make up. The federal government is one week away from a shutdown, and the Republican-led House wasted another (short) week failing to pass appropriations bills. The kicker? New House Speaker “MAGA” Mike Johnson has swanned off to Paris for the inaugural Republicans Overseas Worldwide Freedom Initiative conference, where he’s a star speaker.

    The first two weeks of Johnson’s sparkly new speakership not only have nothing to show for the time, but have contained real disasters like having to pull major funding bills off of the floor at the last minute. The lowest bar for competence in a speaker is putting bills on the floor with enough votes to pass. Only a notch or two above that bar is the ability to avoid shutting down the government. That’s where this week gets even more preposterous: “MAGA Mike” has no plan for how to do that. Oh, excuse me—no “real” plan.

    House Approps Chair Granger says “we’ve got a plan” to avoid a shutdown. “But I can’t tell you until it’s a real plan.”

    As far as anyone knows, Johnson is still wedded to the wacky idea of a “laddered” continuing resolution, which would stagger funding expiration dates (and their related threats of government shutdown). […] even House leadership doesn’t know whether that’s the plan. It likely means Johnson has been spending more time polishing up his speech for Paris than he’s spent trying to avoid the impending catastrophe.

    By all accounts, Johnson is sold on the laddered CR and is trying to win support for it. Right now only the Freedom Caucus likes it; after all, they came up with it. He’s trying to allay fears that having multiple shutdown deadlines for various government agencies somehow won’t be a problem, because he’s talking about only two steps on the ladder. That is to say, some programs would have a December deadline and others a January deadline. That means he essentially wants to double the shutdown threat. Comforting.

    […] “That’s the craziest, stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Sen. Patty Murray told reporters this week. The Washington Democrat leads the Senate Appropriations Committee. Her Republican counterpart, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, attempted to be charitable to the GOP speaker, saying, “I have a lot of reservations. I don’t see how that would work, and it seems unnecessarily complex,” but added she’s “willing to hear more about it.”

    Johnson better enjoy Paris while he can. It’s the only honeymoon he’s getting, and the clock is ticking. […]

  82. beholder says

    @74 Raging Bee

    …Jill Stein is running for President again.

    Good. I’m relieved that there’s a decent probability there will be a principled antiwar candidate on the ballot in November. I voted for her twice before, and I’ll vote for her again.

  83. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 104


    blockquote>”Democrats have betrayed their promises for working people, youth and the climate again and again, while Republicans don’t even make such promises in the first place,” Stein said in her announcement video.”



    She’s not wrong. The Democrats have only paid lip service to the needs of the working class and the poor right before they eventually side with capital. I just don’t think Stein and her hippie-dippie loons are the ones to do it.

  84. Jean says

    While the two Jill Stein quotes might be true statements, the way you correct that is not through a third party presidential candidate. That only makes sure you get an even worse result. You need to go from the bottom up instead of the top down. But that’s a whole lot of hard work and time and organization and doesn’t lend itself to easy foreign interference and pumping up egos of meaningless individuals. So you won’t see any such proposal from the likes of Jill Stein and other potential (loser) presidential candidates.

  85. says

    New York Times reporter shows how hard he was rooting for Democrats to lose on Tuesday

    Since Democrats outperformed expectations on another Election Day, the traditional media has been looking for ways to manage its grief and lock down the narrative that Democrats are in big trouble. New York Times reporter Peter Baker dug into the Virginia election results and really went for it on Thursday:

    A reminder of how closely divided some of this week’s elections really were: a change of just 830 votes in a single Va. House district and 1,923 in a single Va. Senate district would have kept Democrats from taking full control of the legislature and changed the narrative.

    Has this professional political reporter never encountered a close election before? Or familiarized himself with the concept that winning a close election is still winning? Nah, Baker just can’t handle the fact that voters created a narrative he didn’t control, a narrative very different from the one he and the Times have been pushing.

    Consider this, too: It’s true that Democrats had a couple of narrow wins in Virginia on Tuesday. But so did Republicans. As Baker points out, one Democratic victory in the state House was by just 830 votes. That was in the 21st District, where Democrat Josh Thomas beat Republican John Stirrup by 51.48% to 48.33%—not razor-thin when you consider percentages. Meanwhile, unremarked on by Baker, in the 82nd District, Republican Kim Taylor defeated Democrat Kimberly Pope Adams by 228 votes, 50.32% to 49.51%. In the 57th District, Republican David Owen beat Democrat Susanna Gibson by 966 votes, but with a tighter percentage spread than Thomas’ win: 51.16% to 48.4%. (And that was the race where Republicans had to send thousands of revenge porn-themed mailers to pull out a win.)

    Similarly, in the Virginia Senate, where Baker noted that 1,923 votes in a single district would have reversed a Democratic win, there were districts where Republicans won by 1,684 votes and 1,528 votes.

    Baker’s take is that Democrats almost didn’t win and it would have changed the narrative dramatically if a small number of votes had flipped. But it’s equally true to say that Democrats were remarkably close to an even bigger win—and it’s obvious that Baker went looking for close races won by Democrats to further his preferred narrative, ignoring data that didn’t fit his case.

    Baker isn’t alone in continuing to frantically push the “Democrats are still in big trouble” narrative. NBC News used a series of unnamed Democratic operatives to push the favored narrative that Democrats may have won but Biden is still in huge trouble, with the added twist that those unnamed Democrats are annoyed that the Biden campaign “wants to own” Tuesday’s good results. Former White House chief of staff Ron Klain pushed back:

    We took the heat when we lost VA in 2021, and we were going to get run out of town if the red wave hit in 2022, so the biden-skeptics shouldn’t get it both ways. [in response to: Sahil Kapur posting: Plenty of Democrats are “irritated by the chest-thumping and celebrating” from the Biden campaign after Tuesday night, said one Democratic operative, who argued that “last night wasn’t a win for Biden.” Operative says Dems like Beshear won despite Biden.]

    Having it both ways is exactly what the media demands, though.

  86. says

    Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., on Thursday continued to derail the advancement of military promotions he has held up since mid-February as Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., attempted to move the more than 300 nominations on the Senate floor. … Kaine noted that Thursday is “Military Day” in Alabama, which Gov. Kay Ivey set in a proclamation last week.


    […] Seemingly indifferent to irony, Tuberville tried to justify his ongoing, months-long blockade by declaring on the Senate floor that he couldn’t sit idly by while the “Biden administration injects politics into our military.”

    No, really, that’s what he said.

    The developments came on the heels of Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, telling Punchbowl News, “The idea that somehow this isn’t impacting readiness and morale in one of the most dangerous times we’ve faced in decades — nobody’s buying that.”

    Even Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News that she’s not on board with Tuberville’s radical tactics. […]


  87. says

    Sandworm Hackers Caused Another Blackout in Ukraine—During a Missile Strike

    WIRED link

    Russia’s most notorious military hackers successfully sabotaged Ukraine’s power grid for the third time last year. And in this case, the blackout coincided with a physical attack.

    The notorious unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency known as Sandworm remains the only team of hackers to have ever triggered blackouts with their cyberattacks, turning off the lights for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians not once, but twice within the past decade. Now it appears that in the midst of Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine, the group has achieved another dubious distinction in the history of cyberwar: It targeted civilians with a blackout attack at the same time missile strikes hit their city, an unprecedented and brutal combination of digital and physical warfare.

    Cybersecurity firm Mandiant today revealed that Sandworm, a cybersecurity industry name for Unit 74455 of Russia’s GRU spy agency, carried out a third successful power grid attack targeting a Ukrainian electric utility in October of last year, causing a blackout for an unknown number of Ukrainian civilians. In this case, unlike any previous hacker-induced blackouts, Mandiant says the cyberattack coincided with the start of a series of missile strikes targeting Ukrainian critical infrastructure across the country, which included victims in the same city as the utility where Sandworm triggered its power outage. Two days after the blackout, the hackers also used a piece of data-destroying “wiper” malware to erase the contents of computers across the utility’s network, perhaps in an attempt to destroy evidence that could be used to analyze their intrusion.

    Mandiant, which has worked closely with the Ukrainian government on digital defense and investigations of network breaches since the start of the Russian invasion in February of 2022, declined to name the targeted electric utility or the city where it was located. Nor would it offer information like the length of the resulting power loss or the number of civilians affected.

    Mandiant does note in its report on the incident that as early as two weeks before the blackout, Sandworm’s hackers appear to have already possessed all the access and capabilities necessary to hijack the industrial control system software that oversees the flow of power at the utility’s electrical substations. Yet it appears to have waited to carry out the cyberattack until the day of Russia’s missile strikes. While that timing may be coincidental, it more likely suggests coordinated cyber and physical attacks, perhaps designed to sow chaos ahead of those air strikes, complicate any defense against them, or add to their psychological effect on civilians.

    “The cyber incident exacerbates the impact of the physical attack,” says John Hultquist, Mandiant’s head of threat intelligence, who has tracked Sandworm for nearly a decade and named the group in 2014. “Without seeing their actual orders, it’s really hard on our side to make a determination of whether or not that was on purpose. I will say that this was carried out by a military actor and coincided with another military attack. If it was a coincidence, it was a terribly interesting coincidence.”

    The Ukrainian government’s cybersecurity agency, SSSCIP, declined to fully confirm Mandiant’s findings in response to a request from WIRED, but it didn’t dispute them. SSSCIP’s deputy chair, Viktor Zhora, wrote in a statement that the agency responded to the breach last year, working with the victim to “minimize and localize the impact.” In an investigation over the two days following the near-simultaneous blackout and missile strikes, he says, the agency confirmed that the hackers had found a “bridge” from the utility’s IT network to its industrial control systems and planted malware there capable of manipulating the grid.

    Mandiant’s more detailed breakdown of the intrusion shows how the GRU’s grid hacking has evolved over time to become far more stealthy and nimble. In this latest blackout attack, the group used a “living off the land” approach that has become more common among state-sponsored hackers seeking to avoid detection. Instead of deploying their own custom malware, they exploited the legitimate tools already present on the network to spread from machine to machine before finally running an automated script that used their access to the facility’s industrial control system software, known as MicroSCADA, to cause the blackout. […]

  88. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 109

    The Dems have promised progress and reneged (e.g. national health care) so many times. They have played the hypocrite (e.g. talked about peace, votes for Bush’s wars and increasing the military’s budget) so many times. They think capitalism can be “fixed” through regulation when it is an irremeably evil and exploitative system. They ignore the threat of religion in the name of “diversity” and “religious tolerance”

    I don’t trust them.

  89. Reginald Selkirk says

    How Sen. Sinema could finally snap Sen. Tuberville’s stranglehold on military promotions

    Enter Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

    Last week it was reported that a resolution was proposed that would temporarily change the Senate’s process and solve the Tuberville problem.

    There are so many military nominees awaiting confirmation that confirming them one at a time would take months. The proposal would allow for nominees to be voted on all at once. But it requires the support of all Democrats and independents and at least nine Republicans…

    She is deadset against getting rid of the filibuster; but temporarily suspending it whenever you need to is different – how?

  90. says

    Ukraine update: East and west, the war continues on two distinct fronts, by Mark Sumner

    It’s probably not a coincidence that just as everyone—including the commander in chief of the Ukrainian army—began admitting that progress on the southern front in Zaporizhzhia had ground to a near halt, that action along the Dnipro River intensified. What had been a handful of special forces holding a small position near the foot of the Antonivskyi Bridge has expanded to at least four distinct landing positions. There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of Ukrainian forces, ordinary troops in addition to special forces, across the Dnipro.

    Ukraine has successfully secured a long stretch of riverfront and pressed east at the town of Kyrnky. They are still hampered by a shortage of armored vehicles, mortars, and the level of supplies that can be provided only by constructing a pontoon bridge. However, Russia relied on the kilometer width of the Dnipro to be all the buffer they needed on the west, so this part of Kherson is not overrun with the kind of defensive structures seen throughout Zaporizhzhia. Even with a limited force on the ground, Ukraine is making progress and is surely making Russia sweat.

    Meanwhile, Russia is continuing its attack on Avdiivka. After weeks of losing an incredible number of tanks and armored vehicles, Russian commanders have been adopting a strategy of throwing unsupported infantry at the area in their effort to encircle the city. The result has been a lot of videos that won’t be shown on Daily Kos as those infantry are mowed down in scores. However, by throwing enough of those troops forward, Russia has managed to advance their area of control and is placing Avdiivka at serious risk.

    East and west, two very different conflicts are now underway.


    The Ukrainian military warns that Russia has now positioned over 40,000 troops at Avdiivka in its effort to encircle and capture the town. In addition to infantry, Russia is also trying to flood the field with drones. Those drones represent a huge threat to the Ukrainian artillery that, so far, has been able to prevent Russia from moving down from the north to reach shelter in an industrial site or move troops from the south to cut Ukraine’s supply lines to Avdiivka. [map at the link]

    The red circles with white plane symbols spread across the map represent airstrikes against Ukrainian positions by Russian planes operating out of Donetsk. The Ukraine General Staff reported 10 such strikes on Friday.

    Russia’s advances have not been large in scale, but some are at critical locations. This is open-source analyst Deep State’s view of the area to the northwest of Avdiivka. [map at the link]

    Russia continues to attempt to cross the gap between the Terrikon hill of mining debris and the industrial complex where coal was turned into coke for making steel. From those buildings, Russia could fight the same kind of block-by-block advance it made at Bakhmut.

    So far, Ukraine has kept them from reaching those positions, but as the Deep State map shows, Russia has been able to take and hold territory across the rail line as well as occupy fields northeast of Stepove. These are not good developments when it comes to maintaining Ukrainian control in this area.

    Russia’s losses around Avdiivka continue to be extremely high, and unlike in the later weeks of the struggle over Bakhmut, or some other areas where Russia has launched an offensive, the ratio of losses is also extremely high. For the most part, Ukrainian forces are sitting back and using artillery, drones, and precision weapons to hold open the gap west of Avdiivka. As a result, Russia is reportedly losing between six and 10 troops for every loss by Ukraine. Equipment losses are similarly lopsided.

    As Reuters notes, it’s now Russia complaining about “wet ground” and promising that they will make advances when it gets drier. On the other hand, Ukraine says its defensive positions are “solid” and the public affairs officer for the 3rd Assault Brigade, which is fighting in the area, tied Russia’s actions to an attempt to make a quick gain while the world is distracted. “All this started after the events in Israel,” he said. “Perhaps they believe it is the best time to advance, but they have no serious successes.”

    Russia is paying an extremely high price for very small gains in this area. But then, Russia has demonstrated again and again that it’s willing to make this deal every day of the week and twice on Sunday. To hold Avdiivka, Ukraine doesn’t just have to bleed Russia. It has to maintain a level of fire that prevents Russia from advancing at any cost.


    Three hundred kilometers to the west, Ukraine’s move across the Dnipro River is looking more serious every day. [map at the link]

    For weeks, Deep State had been unwilling to classify any of this area as more than “in dispute.” But on Friday they finally conceded that Ukraine has solidified its control over at least 15 kilometers of waterfront centered around the Antonivskyi highway bridge and the rail bridge at Prydniprovske.

    In the last two days, Ukraine has moved additional forces across the river at Antonivskyi, across from Kherson, at Prydniprovske, 6 kilometers to the north, at another point about 5 kilometers north near the Russian-occupied town of Kozachi Laheri, and finally another 20 kilometers north near Krynky.

    Both the Krynky and Antonivskyi groups reportedly have over 300 troops and at least some number of armored vehicles. They’ve also been supported by drones and artillery, some of it from across the river. [map at the link]

    On Friday, fighting is reportedly continuing southwest of Krynky in a forested area. Russia has some prepared defensive positions in this area, but they are nothing like Zaporizhzhia’s multiple trench lines and minefields. Ukraine is driving toward the T2206 highway, which would give them the option of moving south to connect with the bridgehead at Antonivskyi Bridge (potentially cutting off Russian forces closer to the river), moving north toward what could be a high-value position at Korsunka, or driving east into territory that is only lightly garrisoned by Russian forces.

    This push fits nicely into RO37s image from yesterday’s update, showing the area that Ukraine needs to liberate in order to push Russian artillery out of range of its most likely bridging location. [map at the link]

    On Friday, fighting has reportedly continued southwest of Krynky in a forested area. Russia has some prepared defensive positions in this area, but they are nothing like Zaporizhzhia’s multiple trench lines and minefields. Ukraine is driving toward the T2206 highway, which would give them the option of moving south to connect with the bridgehead at Antonivskyi Bridge (potentially cutting off Russian forces closer to the river), moving north toward what could be a high-value position at Korsunka, or driving east into territory that is only lightly garrisoned by Russian forces.

    One key difference in this area is that Russia has reportedly lost its air defense systems. Without advanced S-300 and S-400 systems nearby, Russia has tried to fill the gap with the short-range SA-15 Tor system, but it reportedly lost one of those systems in the area this week. Russia has continued to use glide bombs to strike Ukraine’s crossing points along the river, but there are reports that Ukraine has moved its air defenses close to the position at Kyrnky, forcing Russia to maintain a longer standoff distance for its aircraft and reducing the accuracy of the glide bombs.

    The more success that Ukraine has in this area, the more reason they have to bring additional forces across. New imagery out today from the Sentinel-2 satellite doesn’t show any obvious buildup of forces along the river or any pontoon bridge underway. It could be that Ukraine is waiting until it holds a longer stretch of riverfront, providing more options. Or, considering that Sentinel has produced sharp images of the area on its last three passes, Ukraine may just be waiting for a few back-to-back cloudy days.
    It’s been a bad week for Russian Tor systems, and a good week for Ukrainian FPV drones. Not only was one reportedly lost near Krynky, but reportedly another Tor near Kupyansk. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Based on the last sale of these systems, they go for about $24 million each. That’s not a bad return on a $1,000 drone.
    But wait! That loss in Kupyansk doesn’t represent Russia’s biggest-ticket item in the last few days. Overnight, Ukraine once again reminded Russia that the Black Sea Fleet has become little more than a costly target. This strike was made by some of Ukraine’s increasingly sophisticated aquatic drones. [Tweet, image, and video at the link]

    Some descriptions of this attack refer to the two Russian craft that were damaged as “speed boats,” but that gives a completely incorrect impression. These boats are 25 meters long. One of them has a displacement of over 100 tons. [tweet and image at the link]

    Each is capable of carrying a couple of main battle tanks, or four armored vehicles, in addition to infantry. They can also carry supplies in the case Ukraine cuts supply lines to Crimea from the north and the Kerch Bridge. As it happens, these two ships were not empty when Ukraine struck. Onboard one of them was reportedly … a Tor air defense system.

    Russian ships aren’t safe in the water. They’re not safe in dry dock. They’re not safe anywhere near Ukraine. Russian ships are costly, inviting targets, but they no longer represent a serious threat.

  91. says

    Jack Poso posted:

    Republicans still haven’t internalized that the Left promotes abortion as a pro-feminism issue. They aren’t voting to kill babies, they’re voting bc of feminist movies like Barbie and pop stars like Taylor Swift influencing an army of voters


    […] Got that? These silly little girls aren’t voting to protect their lives, their freedoms, and their inalienable right to choose whether or not to be parents. They’re doing it because of the “Barbie” movie. Take that and Taylor Swift’s Instagram away, and those same voters will instantly be mesmerized by Donald Trump’s numerous scintillating “whale-murdering windmills” speeches.

    And in case his first comment wasn’t subtle enough, Posobiec also posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, an all-caps newsflash, accompanied by a 58-minute episode of his show on Real America’s Voice that none of us shall watch.


    […] Of course, while Swift is and will no doubt continue to be an electoral force to be reckoned with—remember her 2020 anti-Trump anthem?—these inveterate right-wing whiners appear to be missing the forest for the Swifties. Swift’s fans are not being brainwashed—just galvanized. They understand what’s at stake, and to suggest otherwise is pretty condescending.

    But that won’t stop these wee “wise” men from mansplaining the human uterus. For instance, there was this, from conservative grumblepuss Mark Levin.

    The truth about yesterday’s off year election. Once dark red Virginia has moved blue because immigrants and federal bureaucrats have flooded into Northern Virginia, which has changed the state politically. In Kentucky, Cameron lost not because Trump endorsed him, as obsessively stupid Trump-hater Chris Christie claims, but because he is a Mitch McConnell protege (McConnell is a Gerald Ford protege) who was not a forceful advocate of conservative principles and Biden’s failures. This should be a lesson for Republicans, i.e., RINOs have no winnable message. Republicans will continue to lose on the abortion issue because the Democrat Party and their surrogates spend for more on TV ads than the GOP spends on this issue, and the Democrats use those funds to lie about their true policy, which is abortion until birth, no parental notification, and virtually no regulation at all, and lie about their opponents hating women. The point is people are voting on the propaganda they are being fed not the actual issue.

    [What an enormous trough of hogwash.]

    Okay, Mark, let’s go with that! Also, paragraph breaks are your friend. Keep that in mind.

    Remember former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker? He ran for president in 2016 with sky-high hopes after steering his state hard right. His campaign then proceeded to collapse like a poorly crafted cheese curd souffle. […]

    Anyway, Walker has his own theory: Democrats are raising much more money than Republicans! Gee, wonder why.

    Money drove the losses last night. Liberals had the advantage in every scenario but one. That’s the one we won. Like it or not, money matters as it helps set the terms of the debate. Conservatives need to wake the base up to raise equal amounts or we’re in big trouble.

    Golly, what could possibly be behind all these gaudy fundraising numbers? Could it be that Americans are a bit freaked out about losing a right they’d taken for granted for 50 years? Nah, that can’t be it. Must be that “Barbie” movie.

    Meanwhile, those bubble-headed Barbie-bots actually showed some human agency in response to conservatives’ latest histrionics. As Insider noted, political activist Olivia Julianna, who has more than 645,000 TikTok followers, posted an excerpt of Charlie Kirk’s rant and followed it up with “Swifties … you know what to do.”

    Yes, the Swifties do know what to do. And, fortunately for this country, conservatives still haven’t fully woken to the fact […]

    So please proceed, Republicans. You’re doing a heckuva job alienating vast swaths of voters. It’s what you do best, honestly.


  92. says

    NBC News:

    Israeli troops fighting Hamas pushed deeper into Gaza City, with local health officials and residents reporting intense bombardment and the presence of military vehicles in the vicinity of a number of hospitals.

  93. says

    NBC News:

    A former New Jersey National Guard police sergeant [Gregory Yetman] accused of pepper-spraying officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack turned himself in to authorities in New Jersey on Friday following a 48-hour manhunt.

  94. says

    NBC News:

    A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the Biden administration lacked authority to adopt a regulation aimed at reining in privately made firearms called ‘ghost guns’ that are difficult for law enforcement to trace.

    The three judges on the 5th Circuit panel were all Trump appointees.

  95. whheydt says

    UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 23:55

    The Icelandic Met Office reports that a dike formation has likely formed beneath the town of Grindavík. With the magma intrusion possible extending beneath the town with a population of 3,700 a mandatory evacuation has been ordered.

    Part of the met office’s update on the matter is below:

    The seismic activity has moved south towards Grindavík. Based on how the seismic activity has evolved since 6 PM today, along with results from GPS measurements, there is a likelihood that a magma intrusion has extended beneath Grindavík.

    The Department of Civil Protection has raised their alert level to an Emergency/Distress Phase (Neyðarstig). Here is what that means:

    Emergency phase is characterized by an event which has already begun and could lead, or already has led to, harm to people, communities, properties or the environment. At this stage, immediate measure are taken to ensure security, save lives and prevent casualties, damage and or loss.

    Mobile phone alerts. In the case of disasters or emergencies the Civil Protection sends out alerts to mobile phones in the affected area using cell broadcasting via cell towers. The alert will be broadcast to areas affected by serious disasters. Most capable devices entering the area during the cell broadcast should receive the alert. If your phone is on, capable and inside the targeted location, you should get the alerts. You don’t have to download an app or subscribe to a service, just ensure your phone is capable and updated. You will not be able to respond to the message. In case of an emergency please call 112.

  96. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Reuters – At SpaceX, worker injuries soar in Elon Musk’s rush to Mars

    at least 600 previously unreported workplace injuries at Musk’s rocket company: crushed limbs, amputations, electrocutions, head and eye wounds and one death.
    injuries Reuters documented represent only a portion […] OSHA has required companies to report their total number of injuries annually since 2016, but SpaceX facilities failed to […] for most of those years. About two-thirds of the injuries Reuters uncovered came in years when SpaceX did not report
    Reuters […] found no sanctions for its data-reporting failures. For safety violations that inspectors found […] regulators levied only small fines, typically ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
    For years, Musk and his deputies found it “hilarious” to wave [a novelty] flamethrower around, firing it near other people and giggling […] in close-quarters office settings
    Musk also became known […] for ordering machinery that was painted in industrial safety yellow to be repainted black or blue because of his aversion to bright colors […] Managers also sometimes told workers to avoid wearing safety-yellow vests

  97. KG says

    …Jill Stein is running for President again.

    Good. I’m relieved that there’s a decent probability there will be a principled antiwar candidate on the ballot in November. I voted for her twice before, and I’ll vote for her again. – beholder@107

    By “principled antiwar candidate” beholder of course means “Putin stooge”.

  98. says

    […] Yes, Team Democracy is Good, Actually (Also We Are Not Maniacs) notched wins all over the place, from the Kentucky governorship to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to the New Jersey legislature. Don’t forget the abortion rights ballot measure in Ohio, though of course Republicans have not yet abandoned hope of concocting some trickery or other to nullify the electorate’s clearly expressed will.

    […] as everyone knows, every time a wingnut loses an election, an angel gets a donut, but when a community rejects a Moms For Liberty school board candidate, it’s a maple-glazed long john with a big ol’ slab of bacon on top. I figure it’s probably best if folks who call the cops on librarians aren’t consulted on what our children are taught. Plus, it’s okay, angels don’t have arteries to harden.

    Well now I want a donut. And a beer.

  99. lumipuna says


    I’ve been gradually dropping out from reading Pharyngula, and this thread in particular. I was late to notice this recent post on urban turkeys in NYC area:

    Comments from birgerjohansson at 5:

    Quick, GM them to have proper claws! And get back the fangs. Soon, you will not have problems with coyotes or raccoons anymore…

    From Cyborg at 16:

    One day around the time the first Jurassic Park movie came out, I was driving on a dirt road in Oklahoma heading straight into the sunrise. As I crested a small hill, I saw some ‘Raptors’ running away from me. Between the sunrise, the hill and perspective(?) They looked 6-10 feet tall and just like dinosaurs. (I know they are dinosaurs, but you know what I mean)

    Coincidentally, not long ago on Twitter, I saw some discussion on how around the 90s it was all the rage to portray dromaeosaurs (mainly Velociraptor/Deinonychus) as ninja-like superpredators. You know; jumping on the sides/backs of large herbivores and slashing them open with the sickle claws. The Jurassic Park novel and movie were the peak of this portrayal, but they weren’t alone. AFAIK in the modern view, these raptors hunted more like, well, modern raptors, except stalking on the ground. They used their sickle claws to pin down prey their own size or smaller, while eating it alive.

    Then, with regard to ninja dromaeosaurs, I had this instant mental connection to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve read some of the original TMNT comic. It was all kinds of over-the-top silly and nonsensical, while also being kind of dark and gritty, but I always found it particularly nonsensical that turtles, of all animals, would be able to become proficient in “ninjitsu” thanks to some “mutations” in their juvenile development.

    But what if, instead of baby box turtles, the four protagonists had started their lives as newly hatched turkey chicks? Probably domestic turkey chicks, who somehow got abandoned on the streets of New York. Then they’d be exposed to the mutagenic “green ooze”, while also being washed into sewers and being adopted by an escaped Japanese pet rat, who is also exposed to the mutagen. Feeding on pizza leftovers, they’d all grow into a roughly human-sized bipedal form. Perhaps the young turkeys would have atavistic developmental anomalies, like long balancing tails, functional hands and sharp teeth. And of course sickle claws. They’d be agile and fast, with some in-built weaponry of their own. Perfectly predisposed to learn ninjitsu from their rat sensei, they’d become Teenage Mutant Ninja Turkeys.

    It’d make perfect sense that way.

  100. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @lumipuna #132:
    I’d been keeping up via RSS, and I’d missed that post too. Thanks.

    So, the ooze and training turn them into cassowaries!

  101. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Reginald Selkirk #133:
    Cool. Oh, clarification…

    Scientists are taking major steps towards completing the world’s first synthetic yeast.

    A UK-based team […] completed construction of a synthetic chromosome as part of a major international project to build the […] genome. […] a 15-year project […] (UK, US, China, Singapore, UK, France and Australia) […] Alongside this paper, another 9 publications are also released today from other teams describing their synthetic chromosomes. The final completion of the genome project […] is expected next year.
    The [UK] synthetic chromosome has replaced one of the natural chromosomes of a yeast cell and […] allows the cell to grow with the same fitness level as a natural cell.

  102. lumipuna says

    Just today, I encountered a fellow baby-eating atheist on Twitter:

    Why do people accuse atheists of wanting to abort all the babies? Why would we cut off our own food supply?

    My reply:

    The persistent framing of fetuses as “unborn babies” has led people to assume atheists might as well just eat aborted fetuses. It’s not the same.

  103. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Study reveals location of starfish’s head

    Sea stars begin life as fertilized eggs that hatch into a free-floating larva. The larvae bob in the ocean in a plankton form for weeks to months before settling to the ocean floor to perform a magic trick of sorts—transforming from a bilateral […] body plan into an adult with a five-point star shape
    “The problem with starfish is there is nothing on a starfish anatomically that you can relate to a vertebrate,” said Lowe. “There is just nothing there.”
    The team used a group of well-studied molecular markers (Hox genes are an example) that act as blueprints for an organism’s body plan by “telling” each cell which body region it belongs to. […] “So, we ignored the anatomy and asked: Is there a molecular axis hidden under all this weird anatomy and what is its role in a starfish forming a pentaradial body plan?”
    The research revealed that sea stars have a headlike territory in the center of each “arm” and a tail-like region along the perimeter. In an unexpected twist, no part of the sea star ectoderm expresses a “trunk” genetic patterning program, suggesting that sea stars are mostly headlike.

  104. Rob Grigjanis says

    Last couple of days, every time I click on an FtB site, I’ve received an alert from my AVG Web Shield, saying it has blocked a threat from https:/…

    Don’t get it from any other web sites. Anyone else seen this? I’m guessing it’s something buried in my settings somewhere.

  105. says

    Ukrainian military officer coordinated Nord Stream pipeline attack

    Link to Washington Post exclusive

    Roman Chervinsky, a colonel in Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces, was integral to last year’s brazen sabotage operation of the Russia-Germany pipeline, according to people familiar with planning.

    A senior Ukrainian military officer with deep ties to the country’s intelligence services played a central role in the bombing of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline last year, according to officials in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe, as well as other people knowledgeable about the details of the covert operation.

    The officer’s role provides the most direct evidence to date tying Ukraine’s military and security leadership to a controversial act of sabotage that has spawned multiple criminal investigations and that U.S. and Western officials have called a dangerous attack on Europe’s energy infrastructure.

    Roman Chervinsky, a decorated 48-year-old colonel who served in Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces, was the “coordinator” of the Nord Stream operation, people familiar with his role said, managing logistics and support for a six-person team that rented a sailboat under false identities and used deep-sea diving equipment to place explosive charges on the gas pipelines. On Sept. 26, 2022, three explosions caused massive leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The attack left only one of the four gas links in the network intact as winter approached.

    Chervinsky did not act alone and he did not plan the operation, according to the people familiar with his role, which has not been previously reported. The officer took orders from more senior Ukrainian officials, who ultimately reported to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s highest-ranking military officer, said people familiar with how the operation was carried out. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details about the bombing, which has strained diplomatic relations with Ukraine and drawn objections from U.S. officials.

    Ukraine has launched many daring and secretive operations against Russian forces. But the Nord Stream attack targeted civilian infrastructure built to provide energy to millions of people in Europe. While Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas conglomerate, owns 51 percent of Nord Stream, Western energy companies, including from Germany, France and the Netherlands, are partners and invested billions in the project. Ukraine had long complained that Nord Stream would allow Russia to bypass Ukrainian pipes, depriving Kyiv of huge transit revenue.

    Through his attorney, Chervinsky denied any role in the sabotage of the pipelines. “All speculations about my involvement in the attack on Nord Stream are being spread by Russian propaganda without any basis,” Chervinsky said in a written statement to The Washington Post and Der Spiegel, which conducted a joint investigation of his role.

    […] Chervinsky’s role illustrates the complex dynamics and internal rivalries of the wartime government in Kyiv, where Ukraine’s intelligence and military establishment is often in tension with its political leadership.

    Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Chervinsky had been serving in a unit of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces and was focused on resistance activity in areas of the country occupied by Russia, people familiar with his assignments said. He reported to Maj. Gen. Viktor Hanushchak, a seasoned and respected officer, who communicated directly with Zaluzhny.

    […] Chervinsky is being held in a Kyiv jail on charges that he abused his power stemming from a plot to lure a Russian pilot to defect to Ukraine in July 2022. Authorities allege that Chervinsky, who was arrested in April, acted without permission and that the operation gave away the coordinates of a Ukrainian airfield, prompting a Russian rocket attack that killed a soldier and injured 17 others.

    […] Hanushchak, who is no longer serving in the Special Operations Forces, has said publicly that the operation was approved by the Armed Forces, and declined to comment for this article.

    Chervinsky has said he was not responsible for the Russian attack and that in trying to persuade the pilot to fly to Ukraine and hand over his aircraft, he was acting on orders. He calls his arrest and prosecution political retribution for his criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his administration. Chervinsky has said publicly that he suspects Andriy Yermak, one of Zelensky’s closest advisers, of spying for Russia. He has also accused the Zelensky administration of failing to sufficiently prepare the country for Russia’s invasion.

    “The operation to recruit the Russian pilot involved units of the SBU, the Air Force, and the Special Operations Forces,” Chervinsky said in his written statement to The Post and Der Spiegel. “The operation was approved by the commander in chief Valery Zaluzhny.”

    Chervinsky’s participation in the Nord Stream bombing contradicts Zelensky’s public denials that his country was involved. “I am president and I give orders accordingly,” Zelensky said in press interview in June, responding to a report by The Post that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had learned of Ukraine’s plans before the attack.

    “Nothing of the sort has been done by Ukraine. I would never act that way,” Zelensky said.

    But the Nord Stream operation was designed to keep Zelensky out of the loop, people familiar with the operation said.

    “All of those involved in planning and execution reported directly to [chief of defense] Zaluzhnyy, so Zelensky wouldn’t have known about it,” according to intelligence reporting obtained by the CIA that was allegedly shared by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, on the Discord chat platform. Officials in multiple countries have said privately they were confident that Zelensky didn’t personally approve the Nord Stream attack.

    Other secret Ukrainian operations targeting Russian forces, including the operation involving the Russian airplane, also were designed to bypass the Ukrainian president, people familiar with their planning said.

    […] In June 2022, the Dutch military intelligence agency, the MIVD, obtained information that Ukraine might be planning to attack Nord Stream. Officials at the CIA relayed to Zaluzhny through an intermediary that the United States opposed such an operation, according to people familiar with those conversations.

    U.S. officials believed the attack had been called off. But it turned out only to have been postponed to three months later, using a different point of departure than originally planned. Key elements of the plan, including the number of people on the bombing team, as well as the use of a rented boat, diving equipment and fake identities remained the same.

    Zaluzhny suggested in the interview that Russian propagandists had tried to tie him and the Ukrainian military to the operation.

    The Dutch military intelligence service also reported to the Americans that the Ukrainians planned an attack on another pipeline in the Black Sea, called TurkStream. It’s not clear why that operation was never carried out. In October 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country’s security services had prevented a Ukrainian attack on TurkStream. But Russian authorities have provided few details and are not known to have charged anyone in the alleged plot.

    The Russian news agency Tass reported, “It is known that the attack was planned by an agent of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on orders from the Ukrainian special services.”

    Some of those who described Chervinsky’s participation in the Nord Stream attack defended the veteran intelligence officer as acting in Ukraine’s best interests. They argued that bombing the pipelines helped to keep Russia from filling its coffers from natural gas sales and deprived Putin of a means to use the flow of natural gas for political leverage.

    The Russian leader had demonstrated that he was willing to use energy as a tool of retaliation. Nearly a month before the explosions, Gazprom stopped flows on Nord Stream 1, hours after the Group of Seven industrialized nations announced a forthcoming price cap on Russian oil, a move intended to put a dent in the Kremlin’s treasury. […]

    Details in the article do not seem to be as certain as the headline indicates.

  106. says

    Gaza’s biggest hospital ‘out of service’

    NBC News link

    Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, says a second child in the nursery of the Al-Shifa medical complex has died after the electrical generator stopped and the complex went out of service.

    Al-Qudra earlier told a news conference that the complex was effectively out of service due to heavy bombardment. He said the intensive care and pediatric departments were hit with power outages.

    […] A senior Israeli security official said that at least one strike on the Al-Shifa hospital was from a failed projectile launched by a militant group, though he did not say which one. This is the second time Israel has claimed a misfired rocket hit a hospital. The official did not confirm whether Israel had launched any strikes on hospitals.

    […] Doctors Without Borders called for an immediate cease-fire and said the “attacks against hospitals must STOP” following a night of heavy bombardment.

    “The hostilities around the hospital have not stopped,” the charity said in a statement.

    It currently has teams staffed at the Al-Shifa hospital complex, which it said has been hit several times, including the maternity and outpatient departments. There have been multiple deaths and injuries, the group said.

    “We are being killed here, please do something,” one nurse texted as he hid in the basement of the hospital with his family, according to the charity. “Four or five families are sheltering now in the basement, the shelling is so close, my kids are crying and screaming in fear.”

    Doctors Without Borders denounced what it said is a “death warrant on civilians currently trapped in Al-Shifa Hospital signed by the Israeli military.”

    “There needs to be an urgent and unconditional ceasefire between all warring parties; humanitarian aid must be supplied to the entirety of Gaza now,” the charity said.

    […] Israeli tanks are attacking the Al-Quds hospital, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said. In a post on X, the society said tanks were shooting directly at the hospital, “creating a state of extreme panic and fear among 14,000 displaced people.”

    In another post, the society pleaded to the “international community and humanitarian institutions to intervene immediately.”

    “Our crews are trapped inside the hospital, Israeli tanks and military vehicles surround the hospital from all sides, artillery shelling and intense shooting at the hospital and a number of injuries is not yet known,” the post read.

  107. says

    Ukraine Update: Remembering the liberation of Kherson one year ago

    Before the war, Yurii Hlodan was a baker in Odesa. When a Russian missile hit a residential building on April 23, 2022, Yurii’s wife, 3-month-old daughter, and mother-in-law were all killed. That missile, said Yurii, “killed the whole world.” He left his bakery and joined the military, fighting at multiple locations along the front line over the past year. Last week, Yurii rejoined his family while fighting on the front lines in the east.

    That kind of tragedy has been so terribly common since Vladimir Putin began his illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. There has been so much loss. So much grief. So much destruction. So much needless pain. Hospitals of expectant mothers, train stations filled with evacuees, and theaters where terrified children sheltered in the dark … all have been destroyed. […]

    But that’s not where we’re going today. Today, we’re going to look at something else. We’re going to Kherson exactly one year ago, because in the middle of 625 days of war, there are still some days that shine bright. And none may be brighter than this.

    For nine months, Kherson was occupied by Russian forces. They raised Russian flags, installed Russian leaders, and forced children to attend schools where a Russian curriculum was taught in Russian by pro-Russian teachers. On the front lines west of the city, positions seemed even more fixed than they have over the last four months at Robotyne or Bakhmut.

    Towns like Snihurivka and Vysokopillya appeared in the Ukraine updates dozens of times, and no matter what happened around them, these Russian “fortress towns” seemed to withstand everything Ukraine could throw at them. Even when it started to become clear over the summer that Ukrainian attacks on the bridges across the Dnipro River were depriving Russian forces of supplies, any sign of progress was delayed over long months. Every day in which Ukraine advanced at a location like Davydiv Brid seemed to be followed by reports that Russian forces had reinforced the area, stalling any movement. Some small villages along the front lines traded back and forth six times or more.

    Even after it became clear that Russia really was withdrawing from the area west of the Dnipro River, the extent of that retreat was unclear. Russian soldiers might abandon one village while continuing to hold another only a kilometer away. In some areas, Ukrainian soldiers strolled for hours across the empty countryside, while in others, Ukrainian forces continued to square off with Russian troops at the same line that had held for months.

    Finally, finally, came Russia’s hurried and complete retreat. Large amounts of Russian equipment were left in the fields. More was destroyed at muster points as they prepared to cross the river. But in large part, Ukraine was content to sit back and let them retreat, more concerned about the danger to civilians in Kherson than the possibility of destroying a few more vehicles.

    And it all led up to this. [videos at the link]

    One day this will be Mariupol. One day it will be Sevastopol. We don’t know when those days will come, only that they will.

  108. says

    […] As he faces the end of his fourth decade in the Senate, Mitch McConnell’s unwavering advocacy for Ukraine has set him apart from many of his GOP colleagues, many of whom are deeply skeptical or outright opposed to U.S. involvement abroad — particularly in Ukraine. It’s an increasingly prevalent view in the Republican Party, shaped under the influence of former President Donald Trump, who has railed against “forever wars” and praised Putin.

    […] He called the Ukraine aid, which Biden has asked Congress to pass as part of a $105 billion request for Israel and other countries, a “no brainer.”

    The Republican dissension has created a pivotal political moment, one that could forever shape the fate of Ukraine and the strength of American influence abroad. Stressing urgency, the White House has pushed Congress to approve the massive foreign aid package, which would also aid Israel in its war with Hamas and replenish American military stockpiles at home, by the end of the year.

    But while earlier rounds of assistance passed Congress easily, the path for aiding Ukraine has grown perilous as the war enters its second brutal winter.

    Almost more than any other issue, the debate over Ukraine divides the GOP along generational and ideological lines — especially as Trump is the leading candidate for the GOP nomination next year.

    Cutting off assistance from Ukraine would be “a huge setback for the United States,” and the country’s reputation as the leader of the free world, McConnell said.

    […] It is also a uniquely vulnerable moment for McConnell, who rarely ventures far from the views of his GOP conference. While his position is unequivocal on sending Ukraine more assistance, and several colleagues are behind him, many are hesitant to speak in strong terms about the need to keep Putin at bay.

    Others are outright opposed to the aid, and they have begun to directly challenge the Republican leader’s support for it in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

    “One of the things I worry about is we have leadership negotiating with the president,” said Ohio GOP Sen. J.D. Vance, who is in the first year of his term, of McConnell’s recent talks with the White House and the leader’s support for tying Ukraine and Israel aid together. “I want to make sure that leadership is actually being representative of the views of the conference.”

    Vance, who has pushed to separate the aid for the two countries, says his views are closer to new House Speaker Mike Johnson and Republicans in the House, which passed legislation last week that would aid Israel but not Ukraine. Vance argues the United States does not have enough of a plan for winning the Ukraine war.

    […] Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who has also criticized the Ukraine aid, said that “nationally, the Republican leader right now is the speaker of the House of Representatives.”

    […] The Republican schism in the Senate was most pronounced on Sept, 30, as the House and Senate scrambled in a rare Saturday session to keep the government open before funding expired at midnight on Oct. 1. McConnell was insistent that short-term aid to Ukraine would have to be in the deal, but relented when several of his colleagues, even some of those who were like-minded, endorsed a House plan that would not include it.

    McConnell walked out of a private conference meeting and declared that the Republicans would vote against advancing a bipartisan Senate bill that included the aid — a rare public reversal for the leader. His move made the House bill the only funding option left, and it easily passed the Senate. The government stayed open but the Ukraine aid was left unresolved.

    McConnell downplays the decision, arguing that “the most important thing at that particular moment was to avoid a government shutdown. The rest of it was sort of incidental.”

    The development also wasn’t unexpected. A week before the government funding deadline, McConnell told Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, on a call that it “would be impossible” for Congress to pass the full package with Ukraine money included, according to a person familiar with the situation who granted anonymity to discuss it.

    Republicans supportive of the aid have laid blame for the delay generally on Biden and congressional Democrats, saying that they need to articulate the importance of helping Ukraine and provide a detailed plan.

    As he continues to push for the aid, McConnell’s style is not to strong-arm his colleagues, or the Republican-led House. […]

    Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, a McConnell ally who has spoken out in favor of the Ukraine aid, says he thinks McConnell has managed to stem his losses so far.

    “There’s a number of us who feel strong and certain about the rightness of this cause, others are more persuadable,” Moran said. “And I think the leader has done a really good job of keeping the two sets of senators together.”

    One way McConnell is managing the challenge is by endorsing a push from GOP senators to include border policy in the aid package for Israel and Ukraine — a gambit that introduces difficult immigration issues and could threaten its ultimate passage, but appears essential to winning Republican support. Bipartisan talks are underway to try and find consensus around changes on that issue.

    McConnell has also drawn from the lessons of history, emphasizing the connections between the two wars as he urges an unflinching defense of democracy and the West.

    […] Failing to pass the aid would be “a disaster for Ukraine and disaster for us,” McConnell said. He questions what has happened to the belief in America’s global leadership.

    “For myself, I’m still a Reagan Republican,” McConnell said. “And I think that’s the best path for us in the future. But look, in our democracy, the voters make that decision.”


  109. says

    Followup to comment 143.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    The problem is, in our “democracy” the only way Republicans get power is through extreme gerrymandering in the House, which netted them barely enough seats to claim majority, or in the Senate, which is inherently undemocratic with Wyoming getting as many Senators as California. Even in the Senate, they only have a minority. Every election, millions more vote for democrats but we end up with gridlock or worse. McConnell may be claiming to have a principled position here, but remember, if it comes to Party or Country, he will always choose Party.
    Another part is that Trump seems to in general have warm feelings towards authoritarian dictators. And perhaps the biggest piece is that Trump resents Ukraine for not caving to his blackmail attempt, and probably blames Ukraine for his subsequent impeachment over it.

    As for most of the rest of the Republican Party, that’s simple: whatever Trump wants, they’ll fall in line with. Because that’s what cults do.
    Had McConnell supported impeachment in January 2021 things would likely be very different right now with respect to aid for Ukraine (among other things). I wish some intrepid reporter(s) would ask him if he now regrets that decision. I’m sure he will say he doesn’t (even if he does) but he should never be allowed to forget that he stood in the way of moving on from Trump and all that comes with him, which includes serving Putin’s interests over America’s interests.

  110. says

    Fine Here Is Your Bloody Kurt Vonnegut, On An Armistice Day When There’s No Armistice In Sight

    It’s November 11, which is Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, and also it’s Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday — his 101st! As ever, we’ll start with this wonderful quote about the holiday, from Vonnegut’s 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions:

    So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen hundred and twenty-two.

    I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

    Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

    So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

    What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

    And all music is.

    It’s just such a wonderfully Vonnegut-y quote, for all the terrific reasons there are to love Vonnegut: The short, clipped sentences. The backwards time travel. The affectation of spelling out the year. The “men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind” — Jesus, that’s a lovely line!

    This year, I’m going to try to use Vonnegut’s writings about war, particularly his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) as a lens to think about Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza — with of course the caution that he’s not here to say anything about it himself, so the best we can do is extrapolate, and that can be risky.

    I can tell you at the outset that we can’t look to Vonnegut for a solution, sorry.

    A month and four days ago, Hamas terrorists killed about 1,200 people in Israel (a downward revision announced today, from 1,400, as if that makes the slaughter any less horrifying). Among the victims were entire families, babies, and young people attending a hippie music festival and dancing all night.

    Since Vonnegut remains popular worldwide, maybe some of those killed or dragged away as hostages were fans of Vonnegut’s famously playful dictum, “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.” It came from a 1996 essay in which he also said, a bit less famously, “We’re dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go do something.”

    It’s a beautiful thought until someone brings AK-47s and grenades to the dance.

    In response to that horrific attack, Israel blockaded all of Gaza, cut off electricity and water, and set to work shelling and bombing the hell out of the tiny strip of land, with the intent of eliminating Hamas altogether. The Israeli government justifies the incredible death toll — more than 11,000 and constantly climbing — by pointing out that Hamas hides its fighters and tunnel networks in densely populated civilian areas.

    U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently called Gaza “a graveyard for children;” at least 4,100 children had died when he said that five days ago. Palestinian civilians were told to evacuate northern Gaza for the south, which Israeli forces also bombed relentlessly. We can only imagine what Kurt Vonnegut would say about that.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others point to WWII, when the allies made no bones about wiping out entire German and Japanese cities that had any kind of military significance at all. After the war, Gen. Curtis LeMay said of Allied strategy,

    There are no innocent civilians. It is their government and you are fighting a people, you are not trying to fight an armed force anymore. So it doesn’t bother me so much to be killing the so-called innocent bystanders.

    Robert McNamara later said, in the Erroll Morris documentary The Fog of War, that LeMay had confided to him that “if we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he’s right.”

    Slaughterhouse-Five is Vonnegut’s attempt to reckon with his own war, when he survived the British firebombing of Dresden in February 1945, an attack officially justified because Dresden was a rail hub and therefore a military target. Incendiary bombs created a vast firestorm, wiping out the city and killing between 25,000 and over 100,000 civilians. No one knows. Vonnegut and some other American GIs captured by the Germans survived only because they were locked underground in Schlachthof-Fünf, a former slaughterhouse for pigs.

    Vonnegut throws in a lot of science fictiony tropes, like how his protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, occasionally comes “unstuck in time,” which may be literal time travel or a perfect metaphor for PTSD, or both. But as Salman Rushdie wrote to mark the novel’s 50th anniversary, Slaughterhouse-Five

    is a great realist novel. Its first sentence is “All this happened, more or less.” In that nonfictional first chapter, Vonnegut tells us how hard the book was to write, how hard it was for him to deal with war.

    Vonnegut tells us in that chapter how Mary O’Hare, the wife of one of his war buddies, exploded at him when he mentioned he was working on a book about his wartime experiences, exclaiming, “You were just babies then!” and predicting Vonnegut would just ignore that and write a novel that could become another heroic war movie that would make war seem “just wonderful, so we’ll have a lot more of them. And they’ll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs.”

    So I held up my right hand and I made her a promise: “Mary,” I said, “I don’t think this book of mine will ever be finished. I must have written five thousand pages by now, and thrown them all away. If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won’t be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.

    “I tell you what,” I said, “I’ll call it ‘The Children’s Crusade.'”

    She was my friend after that.

    And yet the massacres go on. In other writings, Vonnegut said that the United States and its allies had to go war against Germany and Japan, but that too was tragic in its own way, as he noted in an interview a year after 9/11. He noted that US drones — “our unmanned kamikazes” — were inflicting horrifying casualties,

    “But this has become quite acceptable in modern warfare apparently — to kill a hell of a lot of innocent people in the process of getting one bad guy. And also I think this war is a very bad idea because it will never stop.”

    One of the great American tragedies is to have participated in a just war. It’s been possible for politicians and movie-makers to encourage us we’re always good guys. The Second World War absolutely had to be fought. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. But we never talk about the people we kill. This is never spoken of.

    The Afghanistan war lasted until August 2021, outliving Vonnegut by 14 years, three presidents, and tens of thousands of civilian deaths. When you’re right, you’re right.

    Vonnegut also worried, following the first Gulf War in 1991, about how attitudes toward war have evolved in frightening directions since the war he lived through:

    “We have become such a pitiless people,” Vonnegut lamented. “And I think it’s TV that’s done it to us. When I went to war in World War II, we had two fears. One was we would be killed. The other was that we might have to kill somebody. And now killing is Whoopee. It does not seem much anymore. To my generation, it still seemed like an extraordinary thing to do, to kill.”

    The Hamas terrorists, however young they may have been, don’t seem to have had any doubts about the justice of their slaughter of Israelis, including children. The IDF, operating so far mostly at a distance like civilized technological nations prefer, seems more coldly unaffected by empathy for the civilians its munitions land on.

    Slaughterhouse-Five closes with the end of WWII; the German army heads east to fight the Russians. “And somewhere in there it was springtime,” Vonnegut writes, and one day the war is over, all the guards gone. Birds again can be heard, asking, “Poo-tee-weet?”

    But Vonnegut has no answers, really, except perhaps Eliot Rosewater’s advice to newborn twins in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:

    Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies- “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

    Perhaps some Palestinian or Israeli teenager will survive to write the great novel about the horror and stupidity of this war in another 20 years. Wars are often as good for literature as they are for innovations in the technology of killing and the technology of healing, though the latter always runs well behind the former. There are far more ways to destroy the human body than to repair it.

    Vonnegut was as mystified as any of us about how to actually get humans to treat each other decently and with justice, but seeing the humanity in other people has to be a starting point. Vonnegut thought that humanism and democratic socialism might be good starts, and maybe he was on to something there.

    Too many babies have died for no good reason. As Israelis mourn the worst mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust, and as the IDF daily converts more and more parts of Gaza into Dresden, we’ll close with one last quote, this time from Jailbird (1979):

    I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool.

  111. says

    […] At an event Saturday in Muscatine, Iowa, Ron DeSantis got his warhawk on, and, as usual, made it weird.

    “What are you supposed to do?” he asked. ‘I mean, I used to say even when they would just fire the normal rockets because they’ve been firing these rockets for years and years. And I thought to myself like if the Bahamas were firing rockets into Fort Lauderdale, like we would not accept that for like one minute. I mean, we would just level it. We would never be willing to live like that as Americans.”

    Personally, I’d like to think that we’d find a way to deal with that issue other than leveling the Bahamas, which would result in the deaths of 407,906 people. I would hope that regardless of what side people are on, we can all agree that being that blasé about killing 407,906 people is just a tad on the sociopathic side. It is odd that the first thing he thought to himself “Hey, I’d just kill 400,000 people, no big!”

    It is also only fair to point out that the US would not accept what Israel has done to Palestine, either (especially given that the death toll on the Palestinian side has been significantly higher over the years). Florida in particular, which has both Stand Your Ground Laws and Castle Doctrine laws that allow people to use lethal force on someone coming onto their property, might have a problem with that.

    So like, if people from the Bahamas decided that they would like to annex Fort Lauderdale and just started moving into random people’s houses while they were out at the grocery store, I don’t think that would go over too well either. Especially if it had ramped up in recent years because Putin decided that it was the official policy of Russia that it is 100 percent fine for them to do that.

    I do not think it is possible, truly, for Ron DeSantis to discuss a single subject without going right off the deep end, and the more I think about it, the more it is clear that this is just what he does in every possible situation. Everything is always taken to a point of sadistic absurdity. He can’t just hate gay people like a normal Republican, he has to insist that all the LGBTQ+ people are pedophiles and trying to force kindergarteners to be drag queens. He can’t even just censor books like a regular conservative, he has to go right to the point of throwing teachers in jail. He can’t just eat pudding with a spoon, he’s gotta dip the whole hand in.

    Something is not right with this man.

  112. says

    Jacob Angeli-Chansley, better known as the QAnon Shaman (though he prefers to be called America’s Shaman, thank you very much), filed paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday announcing his intent to run as a Libertarian (natch) in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.

    Chansley was released into a halfway house this past March after serving 27 months of his 41-month sentence for his part in the January 6 insurrection, and has since been very vocal about the fact that all of his contrition over his actions that day were total bullshit, especially the part where his lawyer made him blame Trump for what he did.

    He now claims that, actually, the January 6 insurrection he was literally filmed participating in, shirtless and wearing a large fur hat with horns, was a psyop by the FBI to make Trump and his supporters look bad. Don’t think about that one too hard, because it will get you nowhere.

    Rep. Debbie Lesko, who currently represents the reliably Republican district, has said she will not be seeking reelection, and Chansley is just one of a number of very exciting candidates vying for the seat — including haunted Victorian doll Blake Masters, Trent “The Female Body Has Ways To Shut That Whole Thing Down” Franks — who resigned in disgrace from that very seat in 2017 following a sexual harassment scandal involving his inability to stop talking about his and his wife’s surrogacy plans, Chansley’s fellow January 6 participant Sen. Anthony Kern of Glendale, along with Seth Coates, Isiah Gallegos, Jimmy Rodriguez, Rollie Stevens, and Brandon Urness.

    Candidate Rollie Stevens, I very desperately need to point out, is a country and western singer who has promised to perform a full concert with every speech he gives. […] I have decided to share with you the one titled “Beer Drinking Women.”

    He says he wants to “bulldoze bad government” and is also “building a tourism destination in Wickenburg AZ, Gold Mine Experience!” […]

    But back to the Shaman.

    What I find interesting about him these days is that, while at one point all of the QAnon people were very certain that he, himself, was a CIA or FBI plant on a mission to make them all look bad, the consensus now seems to be that he is “part of the plan,” or at least on the side of the “white hats.” [Screenshot of QAnon postings online]

    Look, Debbie Lesko won that seat with 96.5 percent of the vote. A Democrat is not winning that seat. Clearly, the best we can hope for is someone who is hilarious, ineffective and largely embarrassing for the GOP — and that someone seems like it’s gonna be Chansley. Or the singing guy. One of the two.

  113. says

    Sigh. More details emerge concerning Trump’s plans:

    Former President Donald J. Trump is planning an extreme expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration if he returns to power in 2025 — including preparing to round up undocumented people already in the United States on a vast scale and detain them in sprawling camps while they wait to be expelled.

    The plans would sharply restrict both legal and illegal immigration in a multitude of ways.

    Mr. Trump wants to revive his first-term border policies, including banning entry by people from certain Muslim-majority nations and reimposing a Covid 19-era policy of refusing asylum claims — though this time he would base that refusal on assertions that migrants carry other infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

    He plans to scour the country for unauthorized immigrants and deport people by the millions per year.

    To help speed mass deportations, Mr. Trump is preparing an enormous expansion of a form of removal that does not require due process hearings. To help Immigration and Customs Enforcement carry out sweeping raids, he plans to reassign other federal agents and deputize local police officers and National Guard soldiers voluntarily contributed by Republican-run states.

    To ease the strain on ICE detention facilities, Mr. Trump wants to build huge camps to detain people while their cases are processed and they await deportation flights. And to get around any refusal by Congress to appropriate the necessary funds, Mr. Trump would redirect money in the military budget, as he did in his first term to spend more on a border wall than Congress had authorized.

    In a public reference to his plans, Mr. Trump told a crowd in Iowa in September: “Following the Eisenhower model, we will carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” The reference was to a 1954 campaign to round up and expel Mexican immigrants that was named for an ethnic slur — “Operation Wetback.”

    The constellation of Mr. Trump’s 2025 plans amounts to an assault on immigration on a scale unseen in modern American history. Millions of undocumented immigrants would be barred from the country or uprooted from it years or even decades after settling here.

    Such a scale of planned removals would raise logistical, financial and diplomatic challenges and would be vigorously challenged in court. But there is no mistaking the breadth and ambition of the shift Mr. Trump is eyeing.

    […] numerous people who have been allowed to live in the country temporarily for humanitarian reasons would also lose that status and be kicked out, including tens of thousands of the Afghans who were evacuated amid the 2021 Taliban takeover and allowed to enter the United States. Afghans holding special visas granted to people who helped U.S. forces would be revetted to see if they really did.

    And Mr. Trump would try to end birthright citizenship for babies born in the United States to undocumented parents — by proclaiming that policy to be the new position of the government and by ordering agencies to cease issuing citizenship-affirming documents like Social Security cards and passports to them. […]

    “Any activists who doubt President Trump’s resolve in the slightest are making a drastic error: Trump will unleash the vast arsenal of federal powers to implement the most spectacular migration crackdown,” Mr. Miller said, adding, “The immigration legal activists won’t know what’s happening.”

    […] Mr. Miller said Mr. Trump would try again to end DACA. And the 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court that blocked the last attempt no longer exists: A few months after the DACA ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and Mr. Trump replaced her with a sixth conservative, Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

    […] As he has campaigned for the party’s third straight presidential nomination, his anti-immigrant tone has only grown harsher. In a recent interview with a right-wing website, Mr. Trump claimed without evidence that foreign leaders were deliberately emptying their “insane asylums” to send the patients across America’s southern border as migrants. He said migrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” And at a rally on Wednesday in Florida, he compared them to the fictional serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter, saying, “That’s what’s coming into our country right now.”

    […] While a law known as the Posse Comitatus Act generally forbids the use of the armed forces for law enforcement purposes, another law called the Insurrection Act creates an exception. Mr. Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act at the border, enabling the use of federal troops to apprehend migrants, Mr. Miller said.

    “Bottom line,” he said, “President Trump will do whatever it takes.”

    New York Times link

  114. says

    Followup to comment 148.

    If Americans choose to reelect Donald Trump next year, they will be voting for what can fairly be described as a police state, the likes of which has seldom been contemplated in this country, and of a scale probably unimaginable to anyone who currently lives here. It will be a place quite literally redolent of Germany in the 1930s, in which millions of people considered “undesirable” are routinely rounded up and placed in camps by a government weaponized to serve a racist, authoritarian regime.

    As hard as it may be to process, this is not some hyperbolic fantasy. It is an existing, actual plan that has been carefully and meticulously crafted by Trump with the help of his white supremacist former aide, Stephen Miller. Its implementation would begin on day one of Trump’s second term, which would begin in January 2025.

    The ensuing social and economic upheaval would be staggering and unprecedented, as the country that we know will have effectively ceased to exist.

    […] Camps to house millions of immigrants prior to their deportation will be constructed, according to Miller, “on open land in Texas near the border.” Funding for such camps and deportation measures will be diverted from existing military appropriations, the authors note, to “get around” Congressional objections. According to Miller, Trump would also weaponize the Centers for Disease Control to declare the arrival of immigrants at the southern border a “public health emergency,” citing the flu, tuberculosis, and other “threats” posed by allegedly disease-carrying immigrants. Deportation would be “fast-tracked” and due process virtually eliminated.

    […] Trump and his minions, who exist primarily within a belief system propagated within the right-wing universe, clearly believe public opinion will support these measures, and they promise to figure strongly in his 2024 reelection campaign. What remains to be seen is whether American voters will be sufficiently horrified or repelled by these plans enough to deny Trump the opportunity to impose them.


  115. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tennessee man says he conspired with Jan. 6 defendant to kill FBI agents

    An associate of a Jan. 6 defendant pleaded guilty this week to charges that the two men plotted “to murder employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

    Austin Carter, who was a 26-year-old security officer and a member of the Army Reserves at the time of his arrest in December 2022, admitted in a plea agreement that he “unlawfully and knowingly combined, conspired, and agreed with his co-defendant,” Edward Kelley, to kill FBI personnel.

    Carter admitted that he provided a cooperating witness “with a list of FBI employees that CARTER received from KELLEY” on or about Dec. 13, 2022, and that Carter instructed the cooperating witness “to memorize the FBI employees identified on the list and then burn the list.” Kelley and Carter “discussed plans to attack the FBI Field Office in Knoxville, Tennessee” and that the purpose of the conspiracy was “to retaliate against government conduct,” Carter admitted…

  116. says

    States still block Native water rights

    One hundred fifteen years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Winters v. United States that American Indian tribes had an inherent right to water because treaties were written with the idea that tribes would become self-sufficient, and without water they couldn’t be. It was one of the most important recognitions of Native sovereignty that ever emerged from the high court. Unfortunately, for most of the tribes of the basin, the 1908 promise in Winters has yet to be fulfilled.

    The ruling was ignored in the 1922 Colorado River Compact that divvied up the shares of water each of the seven upper and lower basin states would get. The tribes were expected to beg their water from each state’s share, a losing prospect given the racist hostility toward Natives found among government officials of that era. Meanwhile, the federal government, in the midst of terminating 100 reservations and tribes in the 1950s and ‘60s, grabbed pieces of Native land for massive water projects, with paltry compensation and no guarantee the tribes would themselves benefit from the dams and reservoirs built on land taken from them.

    Anna V. Smith and Mark Olalde at High Country News and ProPublica recently collaborated on a lengthy investigative story on how Indigenous Americans in the Colorado River Basin were left out of their share of the river’s water 100 years ago, and that the seven states in the basin, most particularly Arizona, have ever since aggressively fought to keep the tribes from securing their share. Thus, to this day, the Navajo Nation—with the geographically largest reservation in the country and, as of June 2023, the second largest tribally enrolled population (closely behind the Cherokee Nation)—has not secured rights to its share of the water, and neither have 22 other basin tribes, including eight in Arizona.

    It’s not easy to condense their excellent reporting, but here goes anyway.

    Because the states battled among themselves over water shares, a case arose that came to be known as Arizona v. California. It provided an opportunity to settle the rights of the tribes of the basin, but state officials figured the prevailing attitude at all levels of government would stop that.

    Smith and Olalde write:

    So it was a shock to states when, in November 1953, Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. and the Department of Justice moved to intervene in the states’ water fight and aggressively staked a claim on behalf of tribes. Tribal water rights were “prior and superior” to all other water users in the basin, even states, the federal government argued.

    Western states were apoplectic.

    Arizona Gov. John Howard Pyle quickly called a meeting with Brownell to complain, and Western politicians hurried to Washington, D.C. Under political pressure, the Department of Justice removed the document four days after filing it. When Pyle wrote to thank the attorney general, he requested that federal solicitors work with the state on an amended version. “To have left it as it was would have been calamitous,” Pyle said.

    The federal government refiled its petition a month later. It no longer asserted that tribes’ water rights were “prior and superior.” […]

    In 1956, W.H. Flanery, the associate solicitor of Indian Affairs, wrote to an Interior Department official that Arizona and California “are the Indians’ enemies and they will be united in their efforts to defeat any superior or prior right which we may seek to establish on behalf of the Indians. They have spared and will continue to spare no expense in their efforts to defeat the claims of the Indians.”

    It took until 1964 before the Supreme Court quantified the water rights of the Lower Basin states— California, Arizona and Nevada—and five tribes whose lands abut the river. While the ruling defended tribes’ right to water, it did little to help them access it. By excluding all other basin tribes from the case, the court missed a chance to bring their rights into line with Winters once and for all.

    Six decades later, the Supreme Court stepped in again this past summer to rule in Arizona v. Navajo Nation that the 1868 Treaty of Bosque Redondo did not require the government to ensure access to water for the tribe. Neil Gorsuch dissented and was joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. The justice is noted for his stance favoring an affirmative approach on American Indian rights. […] He wrote:

    Today, the Court rejects a request the Navajo Nation never made. This case is not about compelling the federal government to take “affirmative steps to secure water for the Navajos.” […] Respectfully, the relief the Tribe seeks is far more modest. Everyone agrees the Navajo received enforceable water rights by treaty. Everyone agrees the United States holds some of those water rights in trust on the Tribe’s behalf. And everyone agrees the extent of those rights has never been assessed. Adding those pieces together, the Navajo have a simple ask: They want the United States to identify the water rights it holds for them. And if the United States has misappropriated the Navajo’s water rights, the Tribe asks it to formulate a plan to stop doing so prospectively. Because there is nothing remarkable about any of this, I would affirm the Ninth Circuit’s judgment and allow the Navajos’ case to proceed.

    Understanding this lawsuit requires at least three pieces of context the Court’s opinion neglects. It requires some understanding of the history that led to the Treaty of 1868 establishing the Navajo Reservation. It requires some insight into the discussions that surrounded that Treaty. Finally, it requires an appreciation of the many steps the Navajo took to avoid this litigation.

    Smith and Olalde point out that eight tribal nations still haven’t been able to reach an agreement about how much water they have rights to in Arizona. Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has vowed to resolve the matter, and the Navajo Nation began negotiating with the state last month. But, the pair writes, the tribes and their representatives wonder if the state will bring a new approach. Jay Weiner, an attorney who represents several tribes’ water claims in Arizona, told them, “It’s not clear to me Arizona’s changed a whole lot since the 1950s.”

  117. says

    Infuriating! You have a right to know why a health insurer denies a claim. Some still refuse

    Health insurers reject millions of claims for treatment every year in America. Corporate insiders, recordings and internal emails expose the system and its harm.

    Just outside public view, the American health insurance industry’s algorithms, employees and executives process tens of millions of claims for people seeking medical care.

    Sometimes, as ProPublica has reported, insurers base decisions on what’s good for the company’s bottom line rather than what’s good for the patient’s health. Sometimes, insurers make mistakes. In one case we learned about, a company denied a child’s treatment because it based its judgment on adult guidelines instead of pediatric ones. In another, an internal reviewer misread what type of surgery the patient sought and denied coverage based on that error.

    At first, these patients had no idea why they were denied treatment. But in each instance, insurance employees left a paper trail — in notes, emails or recordings of phone calls — explaining what happened. Patients and advocates used what they found in those records to craft appeals and ultimately receive the care they needed.

    Federal law and regulations require insurers to hand over exactly this sort of information in response to a written request. And they have to do it fast: Most people who get insurance through an employer should get the records, called claim files, within 30 days.

    There’s just one catch: Some insurers aren’t turning files over like they’re supposed to. We followed ProPublica readers through the process with five different insurers. Several companies only shared documents with patients after we reached out.

    Our team discovered how useful claim files can be after a patient shared internal notes and calculations that a health insurer had made about his case. But few health insurers advertise this service or offer clear instructions for getting these records. To help fill that gap, we published a guide explaining how to submit a claim file request. We also shared resources with health care providers and patient advocates nationwide, including request letter templates.

    More than 120 people have told us that they have since requested or intend to request their claim files. Though a handful say they received information that helped them understand why their health insurer denied coverage, many more have been running into challenges. They’ve told us about insurers blowing past deadlines, wrongly requiring subpoenas and — in several cases — misinterpreting their request entirely.

    We shared a summary of these examples with Tim Hauser, a deputy assistant secretary with the Department of Labor. His office oversees claim file laws that cover more than 131 million people. He said insurers who fail to provide records are breaking the law. “The claimant really needs to be able to see what the relevant evidence is so that they can respond to it,” he said.

    We brought our findings to five insurance companies. We presented them with details about the requests patients had made and how the company had responded, and we asked for an explanation of what happened in each case.

    All of the insurers acknowledged that the patients were entitled to the material they’d asked for. Four began sending the files after our inquiry. Two, spokespeople told us, are updating policies to handle future requests. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Michael Bowman said the company needed to better train staff on the rules “to close any gaps to prevent this from occurring in the future.” Cigna spokesperson Justine Sessions admitted that patients do not need a subpoena to access their records, contrary to what the insurer had told a member. She said the company would update its “policies and communications to reflect that for future requests. We regret that we did not make these updates sooner and apologize for any frustration or confusion this has caused our customers.”

    By crowdsourcing people’s experiences, we identified some patterns in health insurers’ behavior. Here are some of the most common issues people encountered — and what to watch out for if you submit your own request.

    Insurers Asking for Unnecessary Subpoenas or Court Orders

    Cigna and Anthem told members that they would need to obtain a court order or subpoena to access their claim file records.

    “This is completely unheard of,” said Wells Wilkinson, a senior attorney with the nonprofit legal group Public Health Advocates who regularly files these requests. “It also sounds completely illegal. The consumer has the right to any information used by the health plan in the context of the denial.”

    On July 12, Lisa Kays, a Maryland resident, asked Cigna for phone call records related to its decision to deny coverage for her 4-year-old son’s speech therapy. “We couldn’t afford to just give up,” Kays said.

    In September, Cigna sent her a letter saying she would need to submit a subpoena to get any transcripts or recordings.

    After ProPublica inquired, the company sent Kays partial transcripts of the calls. It also reimbursed her for some of the previously denied coverage. She is still waiting for the recordings.

    We asked Anthem about a similar case. On July 19, a call center agent told Pamela Tsigdinos she would need a subpoena to receive her claim file records. Tsigdinos had submitted the request 50 days earlier.

    Bowman, the Anthem spokesperson, told us the response was an error and apologized. The company compiled the claim file and sent it to Tsigdinos.

    Insurers Confusing Claim File Requests With Appeals

    At least five people told ProPublica that, after submitting a request for a claim file, their health insurer mistook the request for an appeal.

    We brought three cases to UnitedHealthcare. S.J. Farris requested her claim file from the company on May 10. Five days later, she received a response stating that her request for an appeal had been received. Farris sent a clarifying letter but was met with a call from an appeals agent based in Ireland. “I asked her to send the claim files,” Farris said. “She had no idea what I was talking about.”

    After ProPublica sent the company questions, Farris received a call from UnitedHealth in October. They told her that the insurer was working on her claim file and that she should expect it soon. In a statement to ProPublica, UnitedHealth spokesperson Maria Gordon Shydlo said: “We take our responsibility to provide members access to their records seriously and have processes in place to comply with the law. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”

    After Beth Tolley sent Anthem a claim file request on behalf of her granddaughter, she received a letter from the health insurer stating, “We’ve received a request from Beth Tolley for an appeal.” This left Tolley confused since, in its last communication, Anthem had said all avenues of appeal with its office had been exhausted.

    In early October, Anthem sent the Tolley family a check for the amount it had initially declined to cover. Bowman told ProPublica that the company would be sending the records soon.

    Insurers Blowing Past the 30-Day Deadline

    For most people who get insurance through their employers, insurers are required to send claim files back within 30 days, according to federal law.

    Twelve of the people whose requests ProPublica followed did not receive their records within that time frame even though they had these types of plans. Five of those had been waiting for responses from their insurers for more than 70 days before ProPublica contacted the companies with questions.

    Isabella Gonzalez submitted a claim file request via certified mail on Aug. 8. When she called Aetna to get an update, a representative told her they did not see it in the system and advised her to upload it onto the insurer’s online portal, which she did. She called back a few days later. A different customer service employee told her Aetna would respond in 45 days.

    Alex Kepnes, the executive director of communications for Aetna, said the company at first did not recognize what Gonzalez was asking for and therefore did not respond to it.

    Kepnes declined to respond to follow-up questions about why staff failed to correctly identify the request and whether the company would be taking action to ensure this does not happen again.

    Other companies that failed to follow the 30-day timeline include UnitedHealth, Anthem and Cigna.

    “It’s really important that these responses be timely,” said Hauser, the Department of Labor official. “If that’s not happening, it’s really contrary to the regulation.”

  118. lumipuna says

    Finnish media is currently making hay about a new press release from the border authorities, on illegal migration via Russia. Here’s an English version:

    In short, until a few months ago, the Russian border authorities wouldn’t usually let people enter the Finnish border without the documents necessary for crossing into Finland/Schengen area. This was a diplomatic convention that made things easy for the Finnish authorities, as it kept the number of third country asylum seekers trying to enter Europe via Russia/Finland at near zero. In principle, you can always seek asylum, even without documents, if you can physically get to the border. Thus far, very few people have bothered trying to cross from Russia past the official checkpoints (this is illegal border crossing, in addition to “illegal” migration without documents), and those who do try often get caught before the border.

    Thus far, there’s been only a small trickle of third country asylum seekers entering from Russia without required visa (not counting Ukrainians, who don’t need a visa). I think the numbers can be expected to increase, as unscrupulous Russian entrepreneurs exploiting Middle Eastern migrants get their business organized and advertised. I also think we can expect freakouts from Finnish media and racist populace at any modest “waves” of asylum seekers.

    In a worse-case scenario, there will be a large machinated migration event similar to what happened at the Polish-Belarusian border two years ago, resulting in a humanitarian crisis (in part thanks to Finnish racism) which can be then exploited in Russian propaganda.

  119. says

    Lumipuna @155, thanks for the update. Sounds all too similar to some of the problems the USA has on the border with Mexico … and with American racism. It’s interesting to hear that more people are attempting to flee via crossing the border into Finland.

  120. says

    RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel tries to appear ‘moderate’ on abortion, fails miserably [plus coverage of other topics]

    Last week at this time we were all fretting over a fresh (and rather fragrant) New York Times poll suggesting Donald Trump had pulled ahead of President Joe Biden in several key swing states. This Sunday, we have some actual election results to digest, and we’re all presumably feeling better. Or at least marginally less nauseated.

    Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, on the other hand, will be forced to explain how Republicans can possibly thread the needle on abortion when the current House Speaker Mike Johnson is promising a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and a fetus in every womb. [LOL]

    […] Meanwhile, this should be the righteous response of any Democrat whose Republican opponent attempts to bullshit their way around their party’s decades-old, exhaustively documented fetus fetish: [video clip from movie, showing "Ain't Talking Your Way Out" moment.]

    Republicans! Just admit this has always been about controlling women and cynically trolling for votes. At least that would be honest. But enough un-appetizers. On to the main course! Let’s dig in, shall we?

    McDaniel appeared on two Sunday shows—NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” During these appearances, she tried to explain why voters should trust Republicans, who’ve spent years staking out the most draconian and extreme abortion positions they could possibly imagine on the abortion issue.

    She cited Virginia Senate candidate Danny Diggs, who won his race as a forced-birther who would graciously allow abortions up to 15 weeks. McDaniel appears to think that position—the same one Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin staked his future on before discovering on Tuesday that he has no future—is the Republican secret sauce going forward. Meanwhile, she distorted the ever-living fuck out of Democrats’ positions on abortion. [video at the link]

    MCDANIEL: “Why can’t the Democrats come to that? Why can’t they say, listen, we now know through science … a baby feels pain as its life is being taken at 15 weeks. Can’t you at least come here? Why are Democrats continuing to double down on 39 weeks, 38 weeks? What is an abortion they’re against?”

    BASH: “Ronna, you know that there are, most Democrats don’t support abortions until the end …”

    MCDANIEL: “But why don’t they say it? But don’t say that.”

    BASH: “… and if something like that happens that far along, it means something is really wrong. And you know that.”

    MCDANIEL: “Yes, and that’s life of the mother, which is an exception. But there are states, five or six, that have it till 39 weeks, so why don’t you say, you know, if we don’t support that, let’s come to a consensus position? And that’s what this candidate in Virginia did, and he did an excellent job and he won the race.”

    First of all, it’s not at all clear that 15-week-old fetuses feel pain. But that’s neither here nor there, because the prevailing GOP position on abortion has always been that it’s murder, no matter when it’s performed. Remember that “moment of conception” shtick we’ve heard ad nauseam ever since Jerry Falwell started trying to convince us that, even if he didn’t have a soul, a 16-cell embryo most certainly did? So it’s now okay to murder “unborn babies” if they’re really small and don’t yet respond to noxious stimuli like three-martini lunches and Donald Trump’s voice?

    Also, as Bash noted (if only she’d done so a bit more forcefully), Democrats are not clamoring for ninth-month abortions. No one is. If an abortion is performed that late in a pregnancy, it means something has gone horribly wrong.

    But what else can McDaniel say? Her party has been extreme on this issue for decades, and now it’s attempting to do an about-face, because for some reason women prefer to make personal health care decisions in consultation with their doctors […]

    Oh, and don’t think Republicans won’t pursue a federal abortion ban if they take control of Congress and the White House at some point in the future. In response to a direct question about a federal ban, McDaniel said, “I don’t think that you can just say it’s a states’ issue. I think we’re going to have to talk about this.”

    Sorry about the quality of this video, but it’s important to grok what she’s actually proposing: [video at the link]

    […] Luckily, Democrats don’t have to rifle through the couch cushions to find examples of positive election outcomes. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner joined host Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” to discuss Tuesday’s elections, whose results elicited cheers among Democrats and thousand-mile stares into a dark, pitiless, yawning void among Republicans. We Democrats have a great story to tell going into 2024, and it’s high time we tell it.

    Take it away, Sen. Warner. [video at the link]

    BRENNAN: “The Democrats were celebrating what happened in Virginia this past week with your elections. You told the White House what happened in Virginia was the first election of the 2024 national election cycle. What do you mean by that?”

    WARNER: “Well, I meant that while there was a lot of focus on the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, the Ohio abortion question, in Virginia, a purple state, where not only abortion, gun rights, voting rights were all on the ballot in terms of Democrats’ positions versus the Republicans, and I think it sets the stage well for the president.

    And I think one of the things that has not gotten into the analysis—I mean, clearly abortion was a big issue—but I also think Virginia, very reliant on the federal government, on a lot of defense establishment, a lot of federal workers, I think the overall craziness that’s come out of the House of Representatives left a message that, even when the Republicans in Virginia would try to appear moderate, I think Virginians were afraid if they got total control of the state government, it would be the extremists, the MAGA crowd, that would drive the bus the same way that’s happening, unfortunately, at the national level.

    I think that played into the Democrats’ taking back the House, keeping the Senate, and stopping some of that agenda.”

    In other words, we’re in decent shape going into 2024, so everyone just chill. All we have to do is paint Republicans as extremists […] and the rest should work itself out naturally. (Note: That doesn’t mean we don’t have our work cut out for us, so let’s leave it all on the field, eh?)

    Vulgarly racist See ‘n Say Donald Trump isn’t exactly a fount of original ideas. My mom, a lifelong Republican, once had a book called “The Wit & Humor of Richard Nixon.” You could open it to literally any page, plop your finger down on a random passage, and your eyes would start to age exponentially faster than the rest of your body before molderiing into dust and tumbling into your lap. Who knows what was in the book? I never got past the first “witticism.”

    That said, Nixon was a regular Voltaire compared to Trump. Someday, someone may release a book called “The Wit & Humor of Donald Trump.” It would likely include bons mots like “And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”

    Well, former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen recently discovered that there’s actually a method to Trump’s merde-ness. During an appearance on “The Katie Phang Show,” Cohen revealed that Trump puts about as much thought into his rants and insults as he does his “policies.” [video at the link]

    PHANG: “So there’s an old, tired page in the Trump playbook, which is blame everybody else, which we just talked about. But there’s also this plug-and-play that can happen. And you recently discovered a handwritten note, written by Donald Trump, and we’re going to put it up on the screen for our viewers. It basically shows, Michael, that you can plug in somebody else’s name and that person ends up being the bad guy. So you can take Obama, which is on the note that we see on the screen right now. You can put Biden in, you can put Comey in. You can put, you know, anybody else’s name in, including Michael Cohen’s name, right? But it shows it’s the same repetitive attacks that are made by Donald Trump. So what does that tell you then, Michael, about the nature of the Donald Trump defense over and over and over again over the years.”

    COHEN: “He’s the victim all the time. He’s always using somebody else as the reason why he’s in these troubles. Always the victim, it’s always somebody else’s fault. You know, I said when I was testifying before the House Oversight Committee—and I don’t want people to lose track, that was only one hearing out of seven that I gave testimony to—that Donald always plays the victim. It’s always somebody else’s fault, and he’s never to blame for anything. In fact, none of us have seen [him] over the four-year period when he was president take accountability for anything. This playbook is easy to understand if you look at Donald’s history. Plain and simple.“

    […] So, yeah, as you may have suspected, Trump’s scintillating put-downs are mostly just cut-and-paste jobs.

    Trump attorney Alina Habba, whose law office is about 10 months away from being converted into a Spirit Halloween store, appeared on Fox News’ How the Hell Does Maria Bartiromo Still Have a Show? Show.

    Trump’s goose is so thoroughly cooked in the New York civil fraud trial against his eponymous real estate company that AG Letitia James may start showing up to court every day with a gravy boat and a Fiat-load of cranberry compote.

    In fact, he’s so screwed, even his lawyers can see it, so they’ve been poking at Judge Arthur Engoron and his law clerk with irrelevant nonsense in a clumsy attempt to force a mistrial. [video at the link]

    BARTIROMO: “You have been complaining about the judge’s clerk. And you say that the judge is compromised and the clerk appears compromised. Tell me why.”

    HABBA: “Well, I actually can’t tell you why because I’m gagged. I can tell you that, you know, we’ll be filing papers to address all of those issues, but the fact that, frankly, Maria, I can’t even discuss it with you and I’m his spokeswoman, I’m his attorney, says a lot about … the state of our judicial system right now.”

    BARTIROMO: “I think I did see that there were donations that the clerk had given very supportive to the Democrats, that was one issue. Are you going to file to get a mistrial?”

    HABBA: “Yes.”

    BARTIROMO: “When will you do that?”

    HABBA: “Soon. Very soon.”

    Breaking news! Trump’s legal team, such as it is, is going to ask for a mistrial! Because the judge’s assistant keeps passing notes to him. Which is ostensibly her job. Which she’s entitled to do without getting violent threats from devil-may-care fascists. But never mind any of that. As we all know, Trump is very special, and so the usual laws and social graces don’t apply to him. Or so he thinks, anyway.

  121. says

    Ukraine Update: How Ukraine is overcoming the disadvantages of an amphibious landing

    Contested river crossings have been considered some of the toughest operations in the military. Simply gaining control of the waterway to permit a safe crossing can often be a challenge. Once across the river, a small force will immediately isolated, surrounded by hostiles on three sides with their backs to the river.

    Historically, major contested landing operations required one of two things:
    – Massive superiority of forces (quantitative and/or qualitative)
    – Air superiority

    The former presumably requires little explanation. The latter can be a major equalizer by limiting the ability of the enemy to bring reinforcements or supplies against the landing site—helping the equalize the logistical challenges faced by the landing force.

    A big part of the challenge for Ukraine is the fact that it doesn’t have either of the ingredients of a successful amphibious landing operation.

    Despite lacking overwhelming force or air superiority, Ukraine has managed just that—a successful river crossing and the establishing of a beachhead […] How did they do that? And why has Ukraine held on to that beachhead and expanded it despite the arrival of Russian T-90M and T-72 tank tanks, mechanized infantry, and Russia’s precious few remaining airborne (VDV) forces?

    It appears that Ukraine is leveraging two advantages it DOES have to simulate the effects of these two “traditional” factors—its hard-earned artillery advantage, and its drones. [map at the link]

    The first, and arguably most important factor in Ukraine’s current Kherson operation is its hard-earned artillery advantage. Russian sources have warned of a growing Ukrainian advantage in the artillery war since early Summer, and Kherson has been no exception.

    Russian military blogger/propagandist Romanov describes how Russian forces in Kherson have been struggling with Ukrainian artillery and counterbattery fire.

    This is Kherson oblast. The situation is dire. [The Ukrainians] are striking with artillery, striking with FPV drones, right now shelling is x4 what it was before. We’re holding but we need to think well and strengthen the defense near the bridge.

    For this we need proper [electronic warfare], support of artillery for quick destruction of enemy targets. There’s none of that here.

    [Ukrainians] figure this out and now they’re launching FPV drones at us without punishment killing our best soldiers for nothing.

    This Ukrainian artillery advantage has been built on three advantages:
    – Superior counterbattery radars: radar units that track where artillery and mortars fire from based on their shells’ trajectories.
    – Superior precision munitions: Russians have highly limited quantities of Krasnodar laser-guided shells. Ukraine has the Excalibur GPS shell, BONUS 155mm antitank guided munitions, GMLRS guided rockets, and more for counterbattery fire.
    – Superior range: Russian artillery maxes out at around 25 kilometers. Ukrainian GPS guided shells and rockets can strike as far as 50-70 kilometers. Even unguided shells like Rocket Assisted Projective shells (RAP shells) or base bleed shells like the M864 DPICM cluster munition shells have a 30+ kilometer range, far outranging Russian artillery.

    Each of these elements allow Ukrainian artillery to strike and destroy Russian artillery more frequently, with far lower corresponding risks of destruction. Currently, it is estimated that Russia loses three to four guns for every Ukrainian gun lost.

    Why does this artillery advantage matter, particularly in Ukraine’s river crossing operations?

    Because Ukraine can provide much of its necessary firepower from it’s own side of the river, without needing to worry about shifting huge quantities of supplies to the opposing bank.

    Ukrainian artillery generally operates around 10 kilometers from the front lines, so operating a similar distance from the front, Ukraine can still strike deep behind the river. [map at the link]

    With the river being about 1 kilometer wide in most places, Ukrainian artillery should be able to lay down barrages as far as 20-25 kilometers from the river using standard shells. If Ukraine continues to operate its artillery 10 kilometers behind the front lines, its beachhead can advance another 15 kilometers deeper into Russian lines before it needs to worry about crossing its guns south of the river, with all the attendant supplies challenges that will create.

    Ukraine has dispatched the 35th Marine Brigade Krynky—some of Ukraine’s finest light infantry soldiers.

    Equipped with relatively few tanks, the Marines are trained to fight on foot, rather than riding into battle on heavily armored infantry fighting vehicles.

    This focus on small unit dismounted infantry tactics makes the Marines’s logistical needs extremely light, especially when it can leave its supporting artillery units on the opposite side of the river.

    Supplying food, water, small arms ammunition, and a few mortar or anti-tank missile rounds to a marine unit would be far less demanding than trying to operate the fuel-hungry Bradleys or BMP1 infantry fighting vehicles that equip Ukraine’s strongest heavy mechanized infantry brigades—let alone fuel devouring monsters like the Abrams tank (which burns around 2 gallons per mile).

    When encountering heavy Russian armor, the Marines will have to rely on shoulder-fired anti-tank guided munitions like the Javelin missile, or upon precision anti-tank munitions from the rear, such as the 155 BONUS anti-tank shell fired from a standard 155mm howitzer, which deploys two radar-homing anti-tank munitions in midair that blast into enemy tanks and armor.

    The Ukrainian beachhead would struggle against a massive Russian armored counterattack, but thus far none has materialized. This may be due to Ukrainian strikes that have severely depleted Russian equipment reserves and stockpiles.

    Specifically, Ukraine has targeted Russian air defenses, supply depots and troop concentrations, and electronic warfare units. As such, Russian supply lines are unprotected from Ukrainian drone strikes. Russian units along the Dnipro, such as the 205th Brigade, have been repeatedly complained of supply depletion since as early as August 2023.

    Numerous videos of Ukrainian drones intercepting Russian supply trucks attempting to move fuel, food, or ammunition to the front lines have shown the effectiveness of Ukrainian drone interdiction. [video at the link]

    Russian air defense is so deteriorated that Ukraine has begun launching attack helicopter raids, flying in at low altitude before lobbing a salvo of unguided rockets at a target and then pulling back.

    These factors explain Russia’s ineffective response to the growing Ukrainian beachhead. A Nov. 6 Russian armored counterattack was quickly dispatched by Ukrainian drones, with at least three tanks destroyed. Ukraine lost no ground. [video at the link]

    Next up for Ukraine: expand its beachhead to allow for the establishment of a pontoon crossing—most likely around Krynky and Korsunka, from which they can then push east toward Nova Kakhovka, and Melitopol beyond, south to Crimea, or west to clear space around the Antonivskyi Bridge for perhaps a second river crossing. [map at the link]

    A pontoon bridge from L’vove to Korsunka would give Ukrainian supply trucks a series of small roads through which to drive supplies. I wrote a whole story on this potential river crossing point here. But these are small roads, thus Ukraine would need to liberate a place like Nova Kakhovka to truly unlock strong logistical routes for further advance. [map at the link]

    With this dense network of highways, as many supply trucks and troops as Ukraine can bring across by pontoon bridges can be brought forward.

    So a Ukrainian campaign would likely take the steps of
    – Secure Korsunka or another pontoon bridge site.
    – Keep the fighting within 10-15km of the riverbank so the artillery on the right bank can provide the bulk of the firepower.
    – Leverage the supplies from this crossing to expand the bridgehead force, and advance to capture a larger logistical hub (Nova Kakhovka ideally, or Oleshky, which would allow Ukraine to bridge around the destroyed Antonivskyi Bridge).
    – Use supplies from this logistical hub to bring a mechanized force to the left bank–begin advancing on Russian positions deeper in Kherson.

    After that? Ukraine can look east toward Zaporizhzhia and Melitopol, or south to Kherson, forcing Russia to make some difficult decisions about how and where to deploy its forces.

  122. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Reginald Selkirk #160:
    Home remedy listicle slideshows of irrelevant images. Reflects a lax approach to content creation and fact checking.

    1) Repellent: ~Fruit attracts unspecified insects. Bait traps.~ I mean… okay?

    2) Why You Shouldn’t Use a Banana Peel as Fertilizer for Houseplants
    Misspelling ‘compost’ as ‘composite’ was another red flag.

    3) Lifehacker retracted a similar post: “This may be unsafe. Instead of using a banana peel, follow the dermatologist-approved instructions in this video to remove the splinter with tweezers and a needle.” (Peels aren’t sterile.)

    4) I’m not familiar with meat tenderizing. Certain fruit juice marinades have suitable enzymes to break down meat at the right temps. There’s protease in banana peels, but I fail to imagine how a solid peel would penetrate a hunk of meat.

    5) Are Banana Peels Good for Your Skin?: “There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that rubbing a banana peel on your face is going to help.”

  123. says

    Followup to comments 148 and 150.

    Under Donald Trump’s post-election vision, the government would actually round up immigrants and put them in camps. That’s not hyperbole; that’s the plan.

    In 2018, when Donald Trump initiated his family-separation policy at the U.S./Mexico border, the then-president initially responded to the uproar by saying his tactics weren’t his fault. “We have to break up families,” the Republican said at a White House event. “The Democrats gave us that law. It’s a horrible thing. We have to break up families. … It’s terrible.”

    Trump was, of course, brazenly lying. There was no such law requiring him to engage in such cruelty. He was right to describe his own policy as “horrible” and “terrible,” but the responsibilities rested entirely on his shoulders.

    Five years later, the former president no longer bothers with the pretense. Indeed, in a Univision interview last week, he defended his efforts by insisting that he’d created a disincentive for desperate families. “We did family separation. A lot of people didn’t come,” Trump said. “It stopped people from coming by their hundreds of thousands because when they hear family separation, they say ‘Well, we better not go.’”

    […] Trump’s claims were dubious: As my MSNBC colleague Ja’han Jones explained, “[D]ata suggests the family separation policy did little to actually deter migrants from seeking entry into the United States.”

    But as relevant as those details are, the former president’s rhetoric raised a related question: If he’s convinced himself that family separations were wise and effective in 2018, should Americans expect to see a sequel if Trump is given a second term?

    […] Trump’s post-election plans related to immigration are taking shape — and they’re breathtaking.

    Former President Donald J. Trump is planning an extreme expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration if he returns to power in 2025 — including preparing to round up undocumented people already in the United States on a vast scale and detain them in sprawling camps while they wait to be expelled. The plans would sharply restrict both legal and illegal immigration in a multitude of ways.

    When it comes to the Republican frontrunner and immigration policy, I’m mindful about the importance of avoiding exaggeration. But if the Times’ article is accurate […] Trump envisions a governing model in which the government actually rounds up people and puts them in camps.

    That’s not hyperbole; that’s the plan.

    What’s more, if lawmakers balked at the idea of paying for such camps, Trump would reportedly “redirect money” away from the Pentagon, regardless of Congress’ wishes, just as he did in his first term in order to finance border barriers.

    The same vision also includes another Muslim ban, the end of automatic citizenship for those born in the United States, and a campaign that would “scour the country for unauthorized immigrants” and direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to “carry out sweeping raids.”

    This, of course, is the same Trump who also said last month that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

    What’s more, the Times spoke to Stephen Miller, a top aide to the former president, who shed additional light on the post-2024 vision.

    While a law known as the Posse Comitatus Act generally forbids the use of the armed forces for law enforcement purposes, another law called the Insurrection Act creates an exception. Mr. Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act at the border, enabling the use of federal troops to apprehend migrants, Mr. Miller said.

    It was just last week when The Washington Post reported that Trump his allies were “drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office.” This element of the post-election plans is reportedly being overseen by Jeffrey Clark, who also raised the specter of invoking the Insurrection Act after Trump’s 2020 defeat as part of a scheme to keep the Republican in power by deploying the military against Americans.

    “Mass detention camps, attempts to deny children born here citizenship, uprooting families with mass deportations — this is the horrifying reality that awaits the American people if Donald Trump is allowed anywhere near the Oval Office again,” President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign said in a written statement. “These extreme, racist, cruel policies dreamed up by him and his henchman Stephen Miller are meant to stoke fear […]

  124. Reginald Selkirk says

    Daycare TB case exposes over 500 babies, children; emergency declared

    Health officials in Omaha, Nebraska, are wasting no time in testing over 500 infants, toddlers, and children who may have been exposed to an active tuberculosis case at a local daycare. The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) declared a public health emergency Friday…

    Look for more of this in the future as anti-vax has become a form of political expression.

  125. says

    Hitler and Mussolini dehumanized people in their own countries by calling them “vermin.” Donald Trump is now using identical rhetoric.

    As Veterans Day got underway, President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign unveiled a new minute-long television ad, titled “Proud,” highlighting the Democrat having signed the PACT Act, which expanded benefits for veterans [and their families] exposed to toxic chemicals.

    A few hours later, the president delivered remarks at the memorial amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. “[…] Too often, the sacrifices go without thanks or without acknowledgment. We must remember only 1% of our society today protects 99% of us.”

    Around the same time, his predecessor and likely 2024 rival issued a related message of his own. Of course, Donald Trump’s approach to Veterans’ Day was a little different. Here, for example, is the message Trump published to his social-media platform on Saturday afternoon:

    “In honor of our great Veterans on Veteran’s Day [sic], we pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave, than the threat from within.”

    The former president echoed the message soon after at an event in New Hampshire. “The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within,” Trump told an audience in Claremont, N.H.

    […] once in a while, Trump pushes the envelope in ways that warrant attention. Pouncing on every stray social-media message is unwise, but so too is looking the other way when the frontrunner for the GOP nomination crosses radical lines with broader implications.

    Part of the problem with Trump’s Veterans Day message was the peek into a twisted perspective. The former president believes he’s identified the United States’ biggest problem: Americans he doesn’t like.

    […] Trump has gone from describing many Americans as “evil“ to condemning them as “vermin.”

    Just as importantly, his choice of words has historical antecedents. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an NYU historian, told The Washington Post that “calling people ‘vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanize people and encourage their followers to engage in violence.”

    […] as Trump removes all subtlety from his authoritarian vision, it’s now a new normal for the GOP’s most powerful figure.

    As upsetting as the resulting image is, it’s best not to look away.

  126. says

    Followup to comment 168.

    Donald Trump’s alarming Veterans Day address mirrors Nazi propaganda

    In a Veterans Day speech that was both shocking and sickening, Donald Trump used terminology straight from the Nazi playbook, describing his opponents as “vermin” and promising that he would “root out” this internal threat. His speech drew on explicitly antisemitic themes as he promised a return to the worst horrors of the past century. […]

    Both Hitler and Mussolini used the term “vermin” to describe their opponents and to dehumanize Jews ahead of the Holocaust. Trump’s use of “vermin” came in a speech that not only included language from another antisemitic conspiracy theory but also featured Trump explicitly expressing his admiration for the “iron hand” of authoritarian rulers. […]

    The Nazi state produced “documentaries” in which Jews were called the “vermin of mankind.” Nazi cartoonists depicted Jews as rats scurrying to escape from genocide.

    In his speech, Trump also revived another theme used to support the rise of Nazism in saying that veterans had been “backstabbed and betrayed.” The “stabbed in the back” narrative not only was used to rally the military to Hitler’s cause but was also attributed to a conspiracy of international Jews.

    Trump’s use of these narratives is not just an attempt to dehumanize his opponents. These are explicitly, overtly antisemitic themes at a time when events in the Middle East have generated a rising tide of violence and open expressions of hate that seemed impossible only weeks ago.

    This is far from the first time that Trump has used terminology lifted directly from Hitler’s speeches and writing. In October, Trump said that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of the country,” a phrase that echoes Adolf Hitler’s statement in “Mein Kampf” in which he warns that contamination from other races was killing Germany through “blood poisoning.”

    Trump is not being subtle. He’s not disguising his intent. He is using the same language that Hitler used in promising his followers a purge of all those they saw as unworthy. And he’s doing it while proclaiming that Hungary has no crime because “very tough strong guy” Viktor Orbán “didn’t allow millions of people to invade his country” like other European leaders, and China has no drug problem because Chinese President Xi Jinping “controls 1.4 billion people with an iron hand.”

    So how did the “paper of record” report on all this? This is how The New York Times headlined this event. [image of NYT headline: Trump Takes Veterans Day Speech in a Very Different Direction.]

    After an uproar, the Times has changed that headline to “In Veterans Day Speech, Trump Promises to ‘Root Out’ the Left,” still avoiding using the term Trump used to describe opponents and still refusing to make the obvious comparison. A New York Times reader would have to search to find the article since it didn’t come close to the front page on either Sunday or Monday. Even then, they would find no notice that Trump’s language came with an ugly and terrifying historical context.

    Compare this with the headlines from The Washington Post: [Image of headline: Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini.]

    This comes right after the Times turned coverage of Trump’s fraud trial over to a fashion writer who did get a front-page article in which she described the Trumps’ color palette and called Ivanka Trump “the picture of gentle, pulled-together professionalism and good will.”

    It’s reassuring to know that no matter how many times The New York Times gets everything wrong about the rise of fascism, at least they’ll have exquisite articles describing the uniforms.

  127. says

    Followup to comments 168 and 169.

    The New York Times’ first article about Hitler’s rise is absolutely stunning

    On November 21, 1922, the New York Times published its very first article about Adolf Hitler. It’s an incredible read — especially its assertion that “Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so violent or genuine as it sounded.” This attitude was, apparently, widespread among Germans at the time; many of them saw Hitler’s anti-Semitism as a ploy for votes among the German masses.

    Times correspondent Cyril Brown spends most of the piece documenting the factors behind Hitler’s early rise in Bavaria, Germany, including his oratorical skills. For example: “He exerts an uncanny control over audiences, possessing the remarkable ability to not only rouse his hearers to a fighting pitch of fury, but at will turn right around and reduce the same audience to docile coolness.”

    But the really extraordinary part of the article is the three paragraphs on anti-Semitism. Brown acknowledges Hitler’s vicious anti-Semitism as the core of Hitler’s appeal — and notes the terrified Jewish community was fleeing from him — but goes on to dismiss it as a play to satiate the rubes.

    He is credibly credited with being actuated by lofty, unselfish patriotism. He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish. The keynote of his propaganda in speaking and writing is violent anti-Semitism. His followers are nicknamed the “Hakenkreuzler.” So violent are Hitler’s fulminations against the Jews that a number of prominent Jewish citizens are reported to have sought safe asylums in the Bavarian highlands, easily reached by fast motor cars, whence they could hurry their women and children when forewarned of an anti-Semitic St. Bartholomew’s night.

    But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic, and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.

    A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”

    Now, Brown’s sources in all likelihood did tell him that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was for show. That was a popular opinion during Nazism’s early days. But that speaks to how unprepared polite German society was for a movement as sincerely, radically violent as Hitler’s to take power.

    One other thing: If “violent anti-Semitism” was such a winning issue for Hitler, what does that tell us about the state of public opinion in Bavaria in 1922?

  128. Reginald Selkirk says

    MP Dubinsky accused of treason, working for Russian intel in U.S. Presidential election lies case

    The Ukraine’s SBU Security Service and the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) have compiled evidence of state treason by a sitting MP Oleksandr Dubinsky, who is accused of involvement in information subversion favoring Russia, according to NV’s sources within law enforcement.

    The investigation reveals that Dubinsky used the code name “Buratino” and was part of a criminal organization formed by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU), the SBU said…

  129. says

    Donald Trump Junior is back on the witness stand today.

    […] The testimony of Trump’s eldest son is something of a surprise. After Trump Jr. testified during the state’s prosecution of the case, Trump’s defense attorneys chose not to cross-examine. When witnesses were announced last week, Trump’s team insisted that a former accountant for the Trump Organization would be going first.

    On Thursday, lead attorney Chris Kise announced a change in the defense approach, placing Trump Jr. back on the stand as the first defense witness. […]

    The biggest difference between the tour that Junior gave to Trump properties this morning and the one that would be given to potential investors or lenders: Numbers. Everything was highly subjective and laden with adjectives that had no units. Everything was splendiferously awesome and uniquely wonderful. But most of the morning was spent avoiding anything that looked like valuing property — which is the core issue of the case.

    The only place where the talk did veer into providing values, at 40 Wall Street, those numbers were wrong.

    […] Summing up the morning: Donald Trump Jr has been slowly, painfully, moving through every single project that Donald Trump or the Trump Organization was involved with going back to its inception. That included a slide show telling the story of Don Jr.’s great-grandfather, then visiting properties one at a time. At every stop, they have been showing slides of high-end apartments, big atriums, and rooftop bars. Junior has used the phrase “one of the finest” followed by hotel, golf course, office tower, followed by “anywhere in the world” dozens of times. [sickening, also probably very pleasing for Trump Senior to watch … we assume he is watching]

    The whole thing is clearly a sales pitch put together, not for Judge Engoron, but for potential investors. Junior is doing it because he has just as clearly done it before. He knows how to wax enthusiastic over a fountain or go on for minutes about the carpets. All of it is “fabulous,” and “spectacular,” and very definitely “world-class.” [more sick-making swill]

    It’s also worthless. Because everything that the defense has been showing is completely subjective statements unsupported by any independent evidence.

    The only potential outcome of the morning is improving the case for the state. Because at multiple points the sales pitch did what sales pitches do—exaggerate to the extent of outright lying. For example, today’s testimony added nine floors to 40 Wall Street and finished with a $1.3B valuation for Doral that not only assumes tearing up a golf course to plant hundreds of condos, but also requires that the county rezone the area to permit the construction. The Doral brochure submitted into evidence by the defense is a perfect example of what the state alleges: Trump has repeatedly replaced the actual values of his property with exaggerated claims of potential value.

    […] [posted by Lisa Rubin]

    And now Trump is discussing one of their first big licensing and hotel management deals for the Trump International Hotel in Waikiki, which was built by a developer from LA familiar with the Hawaiian market.

    This month, it was announced that the hotel will no longer be linked with the Trump name. It’s becoming a Hilton.

    […] Junior was chatting up a sketch artist earlier, trying to get her to play up his biceps. I don’t think this was what he had in mind. [Image of Donald Junior as Alfred E. Neumann]

    Now it’s on to another golf course. It’s easy to understand why the loudest sound the the courtroom today could be snoring.

    This is like being trapped in a presentation with a time-share salesman who just can’t stop talking about what a fool you’d be to not buy in.

    […] The New York Times notes that reporters aren’t bothering to take notes as Junior follows his script.

    During the first round of Trump testimony, frequently the only sound in the courtroom was the witness talking and the tapping as dozens of typing reporters tried to keep up with every word on their laptops. That’s not what’s happening here today, as Donald Trump Jr. continues to describe pictures of Trump properties. The reporters, understanding the lack of substance in the testimony, are being far gentler on their keyboards.

    The other part of every one of these stories is Junior explaining how awful each of these properties was before being touched by the healing hand of Trump. […] Who would ever have thought that condos on the 500 block of Park Avenue would turn out to be valuable? Trump is so insightful.

    You can punch me now because I didn’t even realize that we were moving through Trump projects chronologically. Next stop, 2004. Still time to catch that Friends finale if you jump off here.

    The testimony continues to be the sales brochure for Trump properties. Not a single change in tone or delivery so far.

    Here’s Trump World Tower. How sleek! Here’s Doral, the perfect place for “one of the finest weddings in …” You know the rest.

    […] If you took away “one of the finest” and “anywhere in the world” from his testimony, the whole thing would fit on a postcard.

    Maryanne Trump Barry, the older sister of Donald Trump, has been found dead in her East Side apartment. Barry was 86. No cause of death has been announced.

    […] Again, if this was being broadcast, or there was a jury to be swayed, parading all these gold fixtures and faux-French furniture might make sense. But they’re only showing a slideshow to the guy who already determined that they had lied about the worth of these buildings.

    […] The conversation has finally moved on from the Mar-a-Lago Praise Hour and is now skipping across several other projects including the Wollman ice rink, which Trump doesn’t own and no longer manages.

    That’s because New York City canceled its management contract with Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection. This fact did not make today’s testimony.

    More than ten minutes were devoted to just Donald Trump Jr. singing unbroken praise of Mar-a-Lago. The atrium “you need to see it to fully appreciate how spectacular it is.” And on. And on.

    One note: Junior claims that Trump spent $15 million building a new ballroom. The construction of the ballroom was a violation of Trump’s agreement with the National Historic Trust. He didn’t mention that part.

    […] The court is now watching slides in which a Trump project that did not happen is described as “the project by which all future high-end, luxury residential buildings would have been judged.” It’s not just that the actual Trump Organization is great, it’s even greater in Trump’s imagination. Take that, reality.

    […] State attorney Colleen Faherty also takes note that Junior’s memory seems much better today than when he was testifying for the prosecution.

    […] Still going on about licensing rather than development. Which has nothing to do with any of the issues in the case and doesn’t relate to any of the properties the state brought up when conducting its questioning. It’s hard to know if this has any purpose other than filling the air with happy-happy Trump-so-good talk, or whether it’s leading to something.

    Donald Trump Jr. is giving a long speech he has clearly given many times. He’s going on and on about the value of the “Trump brand” and talking about how other developers were in awe of Trump “because of the boundaries he was able to push.”

    According to Junior, those other successful developers flocked to Trump to learn from him and all wanted to work with him. It would be interesting to get some examples—especially of what “boundaries” Trump was pushing.

    It’s also worth remembering that the value of that “Trump brand” was explicitly excluded from the statements of financial condition that he had to provide to banks ahead of loans.

    […] Now they’ve moved to something that does make sense: Trying to clear out a zone that explains how Trump was not around post-2017, leaving Junior and Eric to run the works.

    Everything so far seems to be explaining how Junior had so impressed Trump that he was allowed to do it all after Trump left. It’s a story that seems to have more than a hint of a big orange bus running over Junior in it, but he’s telling it himself. […]


    There are reports that people in the courtroom are struggling to stifle laughter.

    No mention was made of Trump’s sister having died.

    Afternoon update:

    This time, rather than a sales brochure, photographs, or a slide show, Trump’s legal team has a promotional video showing the spectacularness of Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx.

    […] In one sentence, Junior manages to say that it’s both “a similar coastal golf course” to Trump’s Scottish properties and “very unique.”

    Not just unique. Very unique. Go get ‘em, Grammar Folk.

    This speech is so familiar to Junior that Engoron has asked him to slow down twice in the last five minutes. It’s hard to pace yourself when pouring out something memorized and recited a hundred times before.

    Back across the pond to Turnberry. A property that was, you guessed it, decrepit and falling apart until Trump arrived to save the day. […]

    OMG, it is just a con job being performed in Court.

  130. Reginald Selkirk says

    Michael Flynn and family pocketed leftover money from his legal defense fund, filing claims

    Members of former Trump aide Michael Flynn’s family pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in leftover money from a legal defense fund that was set up for the retired general as he faced a federal investigation over the 2016 election, Flynn’s sister testified in a defamation case involving CNN.

    Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, also sat for a sworn deposition in the case, in which his wife and sister-in-law are accusing CNN of defaming them by associating them with the QAnon conspiracy theory, newly filed documents show. Flynn’s deposition is sealed.

    In a filing made public Thursday, CNN asked a federal judge in Florida to dismiss the suit before going to trial. The motion argues the family was connected to QAnon, “exploited” Michael Flynn’s ties to the movement, and fundraised off of its supporters…

  131. Reginald Selkirk says

    Waikiki hotel is ditching the Trump name

    The number of Trump Hotels continues to dwindle, with the chain’s Hawaii resort the latest to ditch the tarnished name for a less politicized brand.

    The Trump International Hotel Waikiki is joining Hilton and will no longer have the former president’s name attached to it. In February 2024, the 38-floor hotel will be called the Wākea Waikiki Beach, as part of the Hilton LXR collection of high-end resorts.

    The rebranding comes after the Trump Organization announced that it has reached a “mutual agreement for a significant buyout of the hotel management and license agreement” with Irongate, the hotel’s owner…

  132. says

    NBC News:

    The main hospital serving Gaza is no longer functioning after three days without power, the World Health Organization said. Several newborns have died and dozens more are at risk at the Al-Shifa hospital, health officials and doctors said.

    NBC News:

    The U.S. military struck sites in Syria used by Iran-affiliated groups, the latest response to continued attacks against American personnel in the region. Fears of escalation have also risen on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon after days of intense exchanges.

  133. says

    NBC News:

    The Supreme Court on Monday announced it has adopted what it called a new code of conduct following allegations of ethics lapses. The court issued a 14-page document that included five canons of conduct in addition to lengthy commentary.


    Looks like a step in the right direction, but it remains mostly toothless as far as enforcement is concerned.

  134. says

    US News:

    South Korean automaker Hyundai has joined Honda and Toyota in raising factory worker wages after the United Auto Workers union reached new contract agreements with Detroit automakers. Hyundai said Monday it will raise factory worker pay 25% by 2028, matching the general wage increase won by the UAW during that period.

  135. says

    NBC News:

    Special counsel Jack Smith’s office said Monday that former President Donald Trump wants a ‘carnival atmosphere’ at his federal election interference trial, which is set to get underway in the nation’s capital in March.

    NBC News:

    Former President Donald Trump warned on Monday that special counsel Jack Smith and other Justice Department officials will wind up in a mental institution if he is re-elected as president next year.

  136. says

    NBC News:

    Maryanne Trump Barry, former President Donald Trump’s older sister and a retired federal judge, has died, two sources familiar said. She was 86. Barry had served as a federal appellate judge in Philadelphia and retired in 2019, ending a civil misconduct inquiry that was launched after reporting by The New York Times alleged the then-president and his siblings evaded inheritance taxes.

  137. says

    Anti-LGBTQ+ extremists have a new target: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

    Republican culture warriors keep getting more extreme in the vast swath of people and things they want to punish and drive out of public life or boycott, but … the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? This feels like a reach—even by recent standards. [image of National Review coverage of petition condemning “non-binary and transgender extravaganza,” the Macy’s Parade.]

    Those more than 16,000 petition signatures were gathered by a group called One Million Moms, which makes 16,000 sound particularly underwhelming. Like, if there are a million of them, they should be able to collect at least 100,000 signatures without breaking a sweat, right?

    And that “non-binary and transgender extravaganza”? They have two entire examples of nonbinary performers in the parade: Justin David Sullivan of “&Juliet” and Alex Newell of “Shucked,” which are current Broadway musicals. Two years ago, pop singer Kim Petras performed, “becoming the first transgender celebrity to perform during this once family-friendly holiday tradition,” according to the petition. Yes, a woman standing on a float doing a poor job of lip-syncing a generic pop song single-handedly ended the Thanksgiving parade’s family-friendly status not only the year the performance happened, but eternally. And this year, those two nonbinary Broadway performers somehow turn the parade into a “non-binary and transgender extravaganza.”

    The parade will include “16 featured character balloons, 26 fantastic floats, 32 heritage and novelty balloons, more than 700 clowns, 12 marching bands and nine performance groups.” Sullivan and Newell will be part of two of the five Broadway productions included. Oh, but there’s more:

    Throughout the streets of New York City and on-board Macy’s signature floating stages will be exhilarating performances from artists including Bell Biv DeVoe; Brandy; Chicago; En Vogue; ENHYPEN; David Foster and Katharine McPhee; Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors; Jessie James Decker; Ashley Park with the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street®; Pentatonix; Paul Russell; Amanda Shaw and Alex Smith; and Manuel Turizo. U.S. Olympic Silver Medalist Jordan Chiles (Gymnastics), U.S. Paralympian Ezra Frech (Track and Field), U.S. Paralympic Gold Medalist Jessica Long (Swimming) and Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke will also join the festivities.

    Throw two nonbinary people into that extremely large mix, though, and apparently it’s a trans extravaganza. How closely would you have to be watching to even pick those performers out of the onslaught of performances?

    But of course the right-wing rage isn’t about their actual performances. It’s about the fact that trans and nonbinary people are able to succeed in our culture. That they are allowed to be visible on the biggest platforms. That even in the face of ongoing discrimination, some trans and nonbinary people’s talent breaks through to Broadway or the Billboard charts or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That is at the core of the rage that led One Million Moms to come up with a petition and 16,000 people to sign it. To most people, though, that kind of hatred is ugly and alienating.

  138. says

    Ukraine update: The Battle of the Dnipro expands

    First Ukraine crossed the Dnipro River and established a foothold on the left bank just across from Kherson. Then they did it again further north. Then they did it again further north. Then they did it again further north. That last one, near Krynky, has expanded into the largest bridgehead on the east side of the river, with Ukraine now apparently in control of Krynky and pushing north, south, and east.

    According to Russian sources, Ukraine continues to bring armor and artillery across the river at Krynky. They’ve established air defenses and positioned electronic warfare units, limiting the effectiveness of Russian drones and missiles. And Russian forces in the area are already making complaints about supplies, ammunition, and communications, even though Ukraine hasn’t yet disrupted major supply routes.

    And after several weeks of moving the beachhead northward, Ukraine’s latest major move is south of the city of Kherson, in an area where the kilometer-wide Dnipro splits into a series of smaller channels. They’ve pushed Russia out of areas on the islands, moved forces by barge across those islands to the left bank, and extended the area of their control down to Hola Prystan on the south.

    If Ukraine decides to come across the river in serious force, its options are expanding. Here’s how the always conservative open source intelligence analysts at Deep State show it as of Monday. [map at the link]

    More than 60 kilometers of riverfront are now fully under Ukrainian control. They may not have built a pontoon bridge at this point, but they’re going to end up with plenty of options.

    Run parallel to one of the existing bridges north of Oleshky? They could do that. Or they could cross the Dnipro at its narrow point in the bend between Krynky and Korsunka. Or they might even choose to bridge the gap to the island village of Bilohrudove and drive forces to a position where the crossing to Hola Prystan is less than 200 meters.

    Here’s the south Bilohrudove area in close-up using a map from open-source intelligence analyst Andrew Perpetua. [map at the link]

    Ukraine has moved through the town of Bilohrudove and consolidated control over the east end of the island. Other Ukrainian sources claim that Ukraine has advanced closer to the south bank of the island where Bilohrudove is located and taken control of all areas on the large Potemkin Island to the northwest (that’s literally the name of the island, not a metaphor). Ukraine also has forces on the left bank just north of Hola Prystan, but claims that Ukrainian forces have moved into the town itself are not confirmed, and the town itself is protected by the Konka River, which looks to be around 166 meters wide (~545 feet).

    If Ukrainian forces move into Hola Prystan, not only would they liberate a town with a pre-war population of over 13,000, they would also threaten Russia’s control over the P57 highway. This would make it more difficult for Russia to supply locations like Oleshky while providing an all-season route for Ukrainian forces. [map at the link]

    At the other end of this growing front, fighting continues near Krynky. With Russia shelling the center of town, there are some reports that Ukraine now controls all of Krynky, but there is no confirmation.

    Several big targets remain in this area. If Ukraine moves east, it threatens the important T2206 highway. If it can move north to Korsunka, it will have control over the area where the Dnipro is narrowest, and where past exercises have seen Ukrainian forces practice river crossings.

    Push south, and it can make Russian forces centered near Oleshky even more concerned—especially when those forces are already dealing with Ukrainian troops building up to their west and south.

    Ukraine has greatly expanded the width of its bridgehead across the Dnipro, giving it a lot of options for what happens next, assuming it’s not too tied up in the Zaporizhzhia front or fending off Russian advances around Avdiivka.

    But it sure seems like Ukraine is serious in Dnipro. Meaning the next step isn’t a bridgehead: It’s a bridge.
    At Avdiivka, Russian forces have gained at least partial control over the eastern edge of Stepove and have advanced very near the industrial area on the northwest of Avdiivka in two areas. [map at the link]

    Russian tactics here continue to be the same: throw a lot of bodies at the situation, accept the losses, and eke out minimal gains. The reported number of Russian troops lost on Monday dropped to “only” 800 after two days where over 1,100 were reported. This seems to represent a reduction in attacks rather than a fall-off in Ukrainian defenses.

    Ukrainian general staff reported only eight attempted attacks at Avdiivka on Monday. That compares with 15 attacks the previous day.

    However, it’s far too early to read anything into that. Russia has twice slowed its attacks around Avdiivka in the past three weeks so that it could mass additional forces for a large push. Considering the proximity of Russian forces at Stepove and the industrial area, such a surge in the next few days would not be surprising.
    Russia took out its frustrations at Ukrainian advances along the Dnipro the traditional Russian way—lobbing shells and missiles into civilian areas. [Tweet and video at the link, showing Russian shelling of a hospital in Kherson.]
    There are confusing messages about Russia “regrouping forces” on the left bank of the Dnipro River. That’s the same language Russia used when retreating from Kherson across the river a year ago. [LOL]

    This message supposedly came from the Russian Ministry of Defense. Except it didn’t. However, it did appear on two state media outlets: TASS and RIA. [Tweet and images of messages]

    The first message was followed by a second saying that the movement had been canceled. This has led to dozens of theories about whether or not the announcement was real and what it means if it was.

    Honestly, my first impression is that this is an accidental repeat of messages from a year ago, announcing the withdrawal of forces from the right bank. Because if Russia moved its troops away from the Dnipro … where would they go that would keep Ukraine from either moving south toward Crimea, or east to hit the Zaporizhzhia front in the flank? There’s a direct road from Nova Kakhovka to Melitopol. It seems very unlikely Russia would move away from that road.

    Russian forces don’t have a lot of choice but to fight it out along the Dnipro … unless they’re repositioning into Russia. [LOL]

  139. says

    Fascism expert: Trump speech ‘doesn’t echo ‘Mein Kampf.’ This is textbook ‘Mein Kampf’

    […] Jason Stanley, a professor at Yale University and the author of “How Fascism Works,” [said] I mean, this is straight—it doesn’t echo ‘Mein Kampf.’ This is, you know, textbook ‘Mein Kampf.’”

    The professor broke down the parallels further:

    Except for the explicit mentioning of Jews as behind the left, any antisemite will hear this vocabulary as directed against Jews. But Hitler himself was an antisemite. He took it that Jews were behind the international left—Marxism, communism. But his real target was democracy. And anyone who was pro-democracy—a labor union, trade unionists—he labeled as Marxists.

    So this overbroad use of “Marxist” to target basically any political opponent, this is familiar from fascism and the way you attack democracy. And of course, labeling your political opponents “vermin,” yeah, I mean, the Nazis targeted their political opponents. They targeted [them] for incarceration and concentration camps. They targeted suspected communists, socialists, as internal enemies. So this is right out of ‘Mein Kampf.’

    [video at the link]

  140. says

    House Republicans want to slash food assistance to infants again. It’s what they do

    Republicans need to remove the term “pro-life” from their vocabularies because in the ranks of conservatism, there ain’t no such thing. A new CNN story highlights that yet again, as families grapple with the possible loss of federal food assistance benefits, House Republicans are demanding budget cuts, and whenever a Republican says “budget cuts,” you can tack on “targeting children and the poor” and you’ll be right nine times out of 10.

    This particular move is the sort of rote dickishness that makes House Republicans tick. Now that pandemic emergency aid programs have largely been wound down, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—otherwise known as WIC—is seeing a sharp spike in enrollments. There have been roughly 600,000 new enrollments in the past few months, which spurred the Biden administration to request an additional $1.4 billion for the program.

    Enter House Republicans and new Speaker Mike Johnson, who are of the opinion that the government shouldn’t be helping to feed babies. […]

    House Republicans, who are intent on slashing spending, have proposed reducing WIC funding to $5.5 billion, which would be $185 million less than last year’s level and $800 million less than the Senate’s appropriations bill would provide.

    The House would also cut back the program’s enhanced fruits and vegetables benefit, which was initially authorized by the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan Act in 2021 and then renewed with bipartisan support in subsequent appropriations bills. Enrollees would receive between $11 and $15 a month to purchase fresh produce in fiscal year 2024, down from $25 to $49.

    […] There’s no question that enrollment in the program is spiking. Republicans have also been positively frothy about inflation, which has noticeably bumped up food costs for American families. But the argument here is that children in food-insecure households don’t deserve $25 to $49 a month in fresh produce; those families can surely make do with $11 to $15 a month.

    You get one trip to the produce aisle per month, new moms. Enjoy.

    What makes cuts like these so asinine is that—just like the House Republican demands to defund the IRS in order to limit the agency’s ability to collect taxes from wealthy cheats—cuts to food assistance, housing assistance, and similar programs cost Americans more in the long run than providing the aid to begin with. Boosting child nutrition means those children will have fewer health problems in the long term; fewer health problems means fewer medical bills later on. Unless the nation intends to let its sick children die in ditches—which, admittedly, is where conservatism has long been headed—then handing over $25 a month for some actual, nonprocessed food is a damn fine investment.

    But no. No, that’s not the Speaker Mike Johnson way. That’s not the conservative way; if it were up to House Republicans, we’d erase all the food aid completely, then once a year or so, every politician would tweet a thoughts and prayers toward their victims before packing up for a long break.

  141. says

    There’s another wildfire burning in Hawaii. This one is destroying irreplaceable rainforest on Oahu

    A wildfire burning in a remote Hawaii rainforest is underscoring a new reality for the normally lush island state […]

    No one was injured and no homes burned in the latest fire, which scorched mountain ridges on Oahu, but the flames wiped out irreplaceable native forestland that’s home to nearly two dozen fragile species. And overall, the ingredients are the same as they were in Maui’s historic town of Lahaina: severe drought fueled by climate change is creating fire in Hawaii where it has almost never been before.

    […] The fact that this fire was on Oahu’s wetter, windward side is a “red flag to all of us that there is change afoot,” said Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, senior scientist and cultural adviser at The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii.

    The fire mostly burned inside the Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to 22 species listed as endangered or threatened by the U.S. government. They include iiwi and elepaio birds, a tree snail called pupu kani oe and the Hawaiian hoary bat, also known as opeapea. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, does not know yet what plants or wildlife may have been damaged or harmed by the fire, spokesperson Kristen Oleyte-Velasco said.

    The fire incinerated 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers) since first being spotted on Oct. 30 and was 90% contained as of Friday. Officials were investigating the cause of the blaze roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Honolulu. […]

  142. says

    Sort of good news:

    The House shelved a resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday, punting on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) effort to boot the Biden administration official from his post for his handling of the situation at the border.

    Eight Republicans joined Democrats in supporting a motion to refer the impeachment resolution to the Homeland Security Committee, blocking it from coming to the floor for a vote and shielding lawmakers from having to weigh in on the matter directly. The final vote was 209-201.

    […] Greene’s articles differ from previous attempts in their rhetoric: She claims “approximately 10,000,000 illegal border crosser who have invaded our country at our border,” including 1.8 million “gotaways” who are “roaming the interior of the United States.”

    Though Greene’s language aligns with base Republican sentiment, some GOP members have urged caution, saying impeachment requires them to build a more solid case.

    […] By bouncing the bill back to committee, Republicans avoided a vote essentially absolving a top Biden administration bogeyman.

    But if they want to keep impeachment alive, they’ll also have to negotiate language amenable both to Greene and more centrist Republicans who would’ve sunk her articles. […]


  143. StevoR says

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has discovered that nearly all of the universe’s earliest galaxies were filled with dazzling gas clouds that blazed brighter than the emerging stars within them — and it could help solve a mystery that threatens to break cosmology. …(Snip)..

    ..”Our paper proves that interactions with the neighboring galaxies are responsible for the unusual brightness of early galaxies,” lead author Anshu Gupta, an astrophysicist at Curtin University in Australia, told Live Science in an email. “The explosion of star formation triggered by the interactions could also explain the more massive nature of early galaxies.”

    Source :

  144. says

    Newsom: Los Angeles freeway fire likely arson

    A structural fire that ravaged a major Los Angeles freeway was likely caused by arson, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) confirmed Monday.

    Fire investigators “made a preliminary determination — there was malice intent,” Newsom said at a press conference Monday afternoon, broadcast from the incident site.

    “This fire occurred within the fence line of the facility you see behind me,” the governor continued, stressing that “it was arson, and that it was done and set intentionally.”

    “That determination of who is responsible is an investigation that is ongoing,” Newsom said, with construction vehicles beeping in the background. […]

    This critical artery has an average daily traffic volume of 287,500 vehicles, according to an emergency proclamation issued by Newsom on Saturday.

    […] The governor also stressed that he and his colleagues are looking into the corpus of the lessee of the site, Apex Development Inc.

    The state signed an unlawful detainer with Apex in September and is heading to court in early 2024, Newsom said, noting that the company includes “bad actors.”

    “They stopped paying their rent, they’re out of compliance,” he added. “They have been subleasing this site to at least five, maybe as many as six, tenants, without authorization.”

    […] Newsom stressed that the 24-7 investigation and repair work will proceed rain or shine. […]

  145. StevoR says

    University of Copenhagen study says Greenland’s glaciers melting at five times previous rates over the last 20 years
    By Brianna Morris-Grant and wires

    …A study of a thousand glaciers in the area showed the rate of melting has entered a new phase over the last two decades, Anders Anker Bjørk, assistant professor at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters.

    “There is a very clear correlation between the temperature we experience on the planet and the changes we observe in how rapidly the glaciers are melting,” Dr Bjørk said.

    The glaciers on average decrease by 25 metres annually, compared with 5-6 metres two decades ago.

    Scientists reached their conclusion after studying the development of the glaciers over 130 years through satellite imagery and 200,000 old photos. The University of Copenhagen said the study was the most comprehensive monitoring of Greenland’s glaciers to date.

    (Emphasis for headline & byline. )

    Source :

    Also :

    Plus :

  146. says

    Ex-Trump allies detail efforts to overturn election in Georgia plea videos

    Washington Post link

    A former attorney for Donald Trump has told Georgia prosecutors that a top presidential aide said to her in December 2020 that “the boss” did not plan to leave the White House “under any circumstances,” according to a video recording obtained by The Washington Post.

    Jenna Ellis, a one-time Trump lawyer who pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for her testimony in the Fulton County, Ga., case, told prosecutors in the video that Dan Scavino, Trump’s deputy chief of staff at the time, was unfazed by her view that the president was running out of options to challenge Joe Biden’s victory. [video at the link]

    “And he said to me, you know, in a kind of excited tone, ‘Well, we don’t care, and we’re not going to leave,’” Ellis said in the video.

    The description comes from a series of recordings obtained by The Post of the statements of the four defendants who have accepted plea deals in the Georgia case — recordings they were required to make under the terms of their deals and intended to lay out what they know that could be used against the other defendants in the case.

    […] Chesebro disclosed in his recorded statement that at a previously unreported White House meeting, he briefed Trump on election challenges in Arizona and summarized a memo in which he offered advice on assembling alternate slates of electors in key battlegrounds to cast ballots for Trump despite Biden’s victories in those states.

    Chesebro’s recollection would bolster evidence that Trump was personally involved in the elector scheme.

    […] Whether the Scavino story about not leaving the White House will be admissible in court is likely to become a topic of debate between Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors, given that it could be deemed hearsay.

    Other new details revealed in the recordings include:

    – Powell said that if Trump had appointed her special counsel to investigate election irregularities, as she had urged him to do in that Dec. 18 Oval Office meeting, she would have sought to seize election equipment and would have used the military to do so if necessary.
    – Chesebro also disclosed for the first time that he played a role transporting documents signed by Wisconsin Trump electors to Capitol Hill as part of a Trump campaign plan to present Vice President Pence with competing slates of electors.
    – Powell said she still believes “machine fraud” tainted the 2020 presidential election. “I hate to use one of Rudy’s phrases, but it doesn’t pass the prosecutor smell test,” she said.
    – Powell described a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting at the White House that included Giuliani and Meadows during which Giuliani called her “every name in the book” — including “b—-.”
    – Hall claimed that his role in the alleged breach of election equipment in rural Coffee County was simply as a “political tourist,” and that he spent $10,000 of his own money to fly there on Jan. 7, 2021, purely “for s—- and giggles.” But he also complained that no one reimbursed him for the plane, explaining, “Pardon my French, but I’ve been f—ed through this whole thing.”
    – Hall also revealed a previously undisclosed role in alleged harassment of Ruby Freeman, a Fulton County election worker who has publicly described having to go into hiding after Giuliani and others falsely accused her of counting phony ballots. Hall said Cheeley approached him to help locate Freeman, and he surmised that he was tapped because of his bail bondsman skills tracking people down.
    – Though she pleaded guilty in the case, Powell continued to maintain her lack of involvement in the Coffee County incident. She said she opposed the publication of the computer data because she understood the sensitivity of the material.

    The statements appear to have been recorded in a courthouse conference room, with the defendants seated at the head of a table and their attorneys and the prosecution gathered around them. […]

  147. says

    Gaza Hospitals ‘Must Be Protected,’ Biden Says

    New York Times link

    Here’s what we know:
    – Israeli forces have reached the gates of Al-Shifa Hospital, where, without electricity or fuel, patients are dying and corpses are decomposing, according to medical staff and health officials.
    – Biden calls for ‘less intrusive action’ around Gaza’s battered hospitals as Israeli forces close in.
    – Al-Shifa Hospital ‘is in the circle of death,’ Gaza’s health ministry says.
    – As fighting nears, many people are still sheltering on Al-Shifa hospital’s grounds, satellite images show.
    – Fighting disrupts an evacuation effort at Al-Quds Hospital.
    – State Department employees have sent Blinken at least three ‘dissent’ cables urging a cease-fire in Gaza.
    – The U.N. says that it will run out of fuel in Gaza as soon as Tuesday, preventing it from distributing humanitarian aid.
    Iran’s proxies escalate attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

  148. says

    Gaza hospital’s evacuation efforts falter amid heavy fighting

    The director of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has warned that all of its aid operations in Gaza will soon stop because of a lack of fuel in Gaza.

    Efforts by health workers to evacuate some of Gaza’s biggest hospitals appear to be failing Monday despite promises from Israeli forces to allow those wounded and sick to go south, according to doctors.

    And the director of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has warned that all of its aid operations in Gaza will soon “grind to a halt” because of the lack of fuel in the besieged enclave.

    Despite promises of an evacuation effort from Israeli forces on Sunday, doctors at Al-Shifa hospital said they were not aware of anyone leaving the facility.

    Dr. Nidal Abu Hadrus, a neurosurgeon at Al-Shifa, told NBC News that it was impossible for people to leave with the sounds of bombing and shooting outside. The IDF has said there have been “intense battles” around the facility.

    “It is not safe to move out. It is not safe to stay. We don’t know what to do,” he said. “Please help us.” He said staff at the hospital had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to help facilitate evacuations from the hospital.

    Alyona Synenko, a spokesperson for the ICRC, said discussions were underway, but she said she could not provide specific details on the evacuation efforts.

    “Evacuating a hospital is an extremely risky and extremely complex enterprise,” she said. “We can’t just, you know, go and like, through the bullets, through the fighting and pick up people in life support and move them.”

    “We have to be realistic about what … is possible to achieve under the current conditions,” she said, saying it was a “difficult and frustrating” situation. “It’s heartbreaking to be receiving those calls and not being able to respond to them,” she said.

    Abu Hadrus said he worries about what will happen if help doesn’t come soon. “After one or two days more, I’m not sure that we will be able to move out of the hospital, because I’m not sure who will remain alive,” he said. […]

  149. says

    Thanks, @198 Lynna, OM. That comic echoes our desire to be ‘awakened’ and not part of the nodding, drooling ignorant sheople around us. The motto of one of our organizations reflects that: ‘Toward Enlightenment, through Communication, by Means of the Arts and Sciences’.

  150. says

    Susan Rinkunas at Jezebel (04.13.2023):

    There is, somehow, a 150-year-old federal law still on the books that could ban abortion nationwide, and Congress needs to move to repeal it immediately. While the zombie law, the Comstock Act of 1873, hasn’t been enforced since before Roe v. Wade, it’s now a live issue thanks to the abortion pill lawsuit. Some anti-abortion activists argue Comstock is still in effect and that, as a federal statute, it trumps state laws protecting abortion. If a judge agreed, that could result in a nationwide ban on abortion—whether via pill or procedure.

    When an appeals court weighed in on the case after midnight on Thursday, they didn’t just claim that people should have to make three trips to a clinic to get abortion pills—they also claimed that the Comstock Act bans the mailing of any item used for abortions.

    Grace Haley at Abortion, Every Day Substack (07.30.2023):

    The Comstock Act was passed by Congress in 1873 during a decades-long crusade against what religious conservatives considered “obscene.” A century and a half later, conservatives are using the 19th century federal law to target abortion across the country. They’ve invoked Comstock in the Texas mifepristone lawsuit; it’s being used in attempts to allow local governments to ban abortion in spite of state law—it’s even cited in threats against pharmacies to prevent them from dispensing abortion medication.

    Legal and abortion rights experts expect this is just the beginning of how conservatives plan to use this 150-year old legislation to ban abortion across the nation. Which means, we need to understand what Comstock is all about. […]


    The Comstock Act (officially titled “An Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use”) was enacted in 1873. The law was named after Anthony Comstock, one of the most zealous moral evangelists and anti-vice crusaders of his time. Comstock served in the Union army before working as a porter and salesman in New York City, and was appalled by the “sin and wickedness” he observed in those worlds—including the copious consumption of pornography and alcohol by his fellow soldiers, as well as the prevalence of contraception, prostitution, and pornography in the city, particularly among the poor.

    Within less than a year of the statute’s enactment, Comstock was credited with assistance in the seizure of “130,000 pounds of books, 194,000 pictures and photographs, and 60,300 ‘articles made of rubber for immoral purposes, and used by both sexes.’” […]

    After the Comstock Act was enacted, more than half of the states passed “Little Comstock laws” that mirrored the federal statute.


    The Comstock Act was rooted in ideas about purity and the social good as understood by a particular form of American Protestantism which viewed any sex that was not associated with procreation to be a sin.

    During and after the civil war, socially conservative Christians like Comstock turned to state intervention and state power to enforce sexual morality. These efforts to promote a conservative Christian view of public health were also directed to restoring the “gendered hierarchy” that had existed before and been undermined by the war. Laws like the Comstock Act embody a stunted conception of the role of women. In the words of Yale Law School Professor Priscilla Smith, the statute is “rooted in archaic views of women’s sexual expression and their subservient role in the family.” It is ultimately “designed to control women’s sexual activity.” […]


    Today, the statute prohibits the use of the mail for any “obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article” as well as any “article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion.”

    Much more at this Link, including examples of how the Comstock Act was used recently in Missouri, Texas, Alabama, and other states.

    Posted by Imani Gandy:

    Democrats really need to repeal the Comstock Act for fucks sake.

    It’s called a zombie statute for a reason!

    It has laid dormant for decades and now conservative Christians are weaponizing it to institute what would functionally be a nationwide medication abortion ban.

  151. says

    Biden rolls out billions for climate resilience in the wake of dire climate report

    The Biden administration is rolling out billions of dollars aimed at making the country more resilient to the impacts of climate change and stressed on Tuesday that solutions are possible.

    His comments and the funding come alongside the release of the Fifth National Climate Assessment — a federal climate report which found that the U.S. has not been decarbonizing fast enough to meet its climate goals or international ambitions. […]

    On Tuesday, the Biden administration also announced a total of about $6 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure law that it says will help the nation stand up to some of the extreme weather impacts of climate change.

    The Energy Department will be putting $3.9 billion into strengthening the electric grid to make it less vulnerable to extreme weather and natural disasters, in addition to increasing grid capacity and bolstering renewable energy.

    The Environmental Protection Agency will be putting forward $2 billion in grants aimed at helping communities to deploy carbon-free energy and bolster their ability to respond to environmental issues, according to the White House.

    The Interior Department will be putting $50 million toward water resource reliability and ecosystem health in Western states, and an additional $50 million toward funding for water conservation projects and hydropower upgrades.

    […] “This assessment shows us in clear scientific terms that climate change is impacting all regions, all sectors of the United States,” Biden said. “It warns that more action is still badly needed. We can’t be complacent.”

  152. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 200

    It has laid dormant for decades and now conservative Christians are weaponizing it to institute what would functionally be a nationwide medication abortion ban.

    It would also be nice if they can also get rid of those state-level laws forbidding atheists from public office. Again, it’s hasn’t been enforced since the SCOTUS ruled they violate Article VI, but that can be reversed by the current crop of Christo-fascists on the high court.

  153. says

    You’re forgiven for not noticing Tim Scott’s presidential campaign, but now it’s over […] I never thought much of Scott, an especially odious, opportunistic, morally bankrupt Republican, but I also never expected more from him just because he’s Black. It’s annoying when Democrats assume that well-off, powerful Black people will automatically care more for those less fortunate than equally privileged white people. […]

    What I won’t accept are mainstream media narratives that cast Tim Scott as anything more than a petty creep who lacked the stature of an empty suit. Yet, the New York Times (of course) subjected us to this headline: “Tim Scott Suspends ’24 Campaign, as His Sunny Message Failed to Resonate.”

    Sunny message? Scott’s campaign launch video featured him walking through Fort Sumter in South Carolina, where he directly linked the Confederacy to President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of Scary Socialist State Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He didn’t mention the actual modern-day Confederates who stormed the Capitol on Donald Trump’s behalf.

    “Today our country is once again being tested,” he said. “Once again, our divisions run deep, and the threat to our future is real. Joe Biden and the radical Left have chosen a culture of grievance over greatness.”

    […] After the vicious terrorist attack against Israel last month, Scott prioritized cheap politics over genuine empathy. He immediately and baselessly blamed Biden, claiming he had “blood on his hands” and was “complicit” in the Hamas attack. He told his dozen or so supporters at a DC event, “His weakness invited the attack, his cash giveaways to Iran helped fund terrorism.”

    Just this month, Scott peddled the racist Great Replacement Theory on Fox News and suggested that “the reason why you see this administration so committed to an insecure, unsafe, wide-open border is because it adds to their polls.”

    “[Democrats] are interested in one thing: power,” he ranted. “They will manipulate people to control them. They are not interested in racial progress. They’re not talking about how we can all get along.”

    […] He slavishly defended Donald Trump — the oozing slime trail Scott was theoretically competing against in the Republican primary — condemning his indictments as “un-American” and the result of a “weaponized” Department of Justice.

    Scott was also a religious extremist, who considered “homosexuality a morally wrong choice, like adultery.” He supported Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s anti-LGBTQ “Don’t Say Gay” bill and repeated the right-wing lie that American children were being “indoctrinated” in all the gay. He also vowed to sign the most forced-birth legislation possible as president. His recent so-called “Our Values” ad was just more repulsive, small-minded bigotry: “I’m about to say something really controversial in Joe Biden’s America. If you’re able-bodied, you work. If you take out a loan, you pay it back. If you commit a violent crime, you go to jail. And if you’re a man, you should play sports against men. America needs more victors and less victims.”

    Sure, before he got to the anti-trans garbage, he could have been inveighing against Trump. He wasn’t. These people’s brains are wondrous things.

    […] I don’t doubt Scott was more superficially polite to his colleagues than known assholes Cruz or Josh Hawley, but that doesn’t mean he ran a positive campaign with a “sunny” message. No, he gave Republican primary voters the full MAGA but they weren’t interested.

    The Times also describes Scott as a “rising star,” which is absurdly generous. Scott is 58. He’s closer in age to Mike Pence than Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis. He’s a year older than Glenn Youngkin. He’s no “star,” either. He’ll retire in the Senate.

    Please ignore these fantasies about Trump picking him as his vice president. He’s duller than Pence, and it says a lot that this is not the worst thing I could say about him.

    I was glad to see Tim Scott drop out of the Republican presidential primary. One less doofus to whom we must pay attention.

  154. Reginald Selkirk says

    @197: ugh, I already waded through one thread on free will this week: Ars Technica: Determinism vs. free will: A scientific showdown
    The recent spate of such articles is triggered by Sapolsky’s new book. In the comments one finds all the usual detritus surrounding discussions of free will:
    Failing to define key terms
    Switching definitions at one’s convenience
    Confusion of determinism with fatalism
    Concentrating on whether one “makes choices” rather than whether those choices are “free” (i.e. not materially determined)
    The joke about how “we have no choice but to believe in free will” (get it? yuk, yuk, yuk)

    Sapolsky seems to be about the conscious mind not making decisions, but accepting them from other unconscious portion of the brain or body. I don’t see what that has to do with well-informed discussion of free will. Is the conscious brain more free of determinism than the hunger signals we get from the gut? I don’t see how. So my impression is that Sapolsky is trying to use science to attack what is a philosophical question, and this missing the point.

    I haven’t read the book myself.

  155. says

    Akira @202, good point.

    In related news: Should Republicans Keep Doing What They’re Doing On Abortion, Or Should They Be MORE Extremist?

    One of our favorite things about the ass-whooping Republicans received at the polls last week is their utter inability to learn one single lesson from it. That’s kind of the way with extremist ideologues — they’re not particularly teachable.

    They just don’t get it. It’s not about compromise. It’s about who gets to control whose bodies. Americans overwhelmingly, when presented with that question, do not select white molest-y conservative Christian lawmakers to control their bodies. […]

    In Ohio, Republicans seem to think they can get away with getting in the voters’ faces and refusing to enact their will. That should be fun for them as time goes on and voters get angrier and angrier.

    But we are totally fine with Republicans continuing to rhythm method their pet chickens on abortion. It’s just going to make every single election easier for Democrats to win, until the day when there really aren’t enough Republicans in the US for their votes to even matter on any subject.

    Virginia seditionist GOP Rep. Bob Good, why did you antisocial freaks get spanked so hard in Virginia’s elections and lose control of the whole entire Legislature? Oh, oh, oh! You think it’s because you’re not extremist enough? Oh hell yeah, that was probably it! […]

    He was speaking at the Heritage Foundation, we guess one of their sicko fascist circle jerks: [video at the link]

    GOOD: We just came off of an election in Virginia. And the narrative now is, ‘Oh, abortion is a loser. We got to surrender on abortion. We got to give in on abortion. We’ve got to be like the Democrats on abortion. Then maybe we can win elections.’ I would argue what’s the point of winning elections if you’re not going to fight for life?

    LMAO. Yeah, cool, go on.

    GOOD: But beyond that, what was Virginia’s position? What was the state of Virginia’s political leadership position on abortion? We’re okay with 94% of abortions because we want a 15-week ban. And the Democrats, the other side wants 100% of abortions. So we’re going to rally in the red areas and the conservatives and the red base to fight for 6% of abortions? And I submit that’s the reason why we had low red turnout in Virginia.

    Sure thing. No notes. Not even going to rebut the argument, Wonkette’s charter doesn’t include helping Republicans out. He thinks all those Republicans — all of ‘em — really want to ban abortion.

    Are we pretending conservative Christians aren’t frequent flyers at abortion clinics far enough away from their churches that nobody from Sunday School is likely to see them? Shhh, don’t tell Bob Good.

    But again, these goddamned idiots. Let’s just keep letting them fuck around and apparently never find out how to fix it.

    It’s gotten a lot of attention already, but here is Republican National Committee Chair Ronna “Mitt Romney” McDaniel — who is inexplicably still employed — on “Meet the Press” this weekend, saying that Republicans can totally still win on abortion, because (get this) Americans are totally with them on the subject.

    Oh yeah? Okeydoke! [video at the link]

    MCDANIEL: I’m proud to be a pro-life party! But we can win on this message. The American people are where we are. And they want common sense limitations. They want more access to adoption. We want to make sure that there’s pregnancy crisis centers. These are things we can win on!

    Couple things:
    – The American people do not want abortion bans. They did not like it when the illegitimate partisan hack Supreme Court overturned Roe. They are still pissed and will remain so.

    – The American people actually don’t have the raging fetishizing erection for adoption that anti-abortion creeps (claim) to. It’s a good thing, but it’s not a good solution for millions of people.

    The last thing we need is more “crisis pregnancy centers,” AKA extremist Christian fake clinics full of non-medical staff that lure pregnant women in with promises of free ultrasounds and then just lie to them about abortion.

    […] Well, this has been another good talk with Republicans about abortion! We look forward to many more of them, as they continue to never win an election on this again.

  156. says

    […] Here is Oklahoma Senator Markwayne Mullin, a Republican obviously, getting VERY MAD GRRR ARGH during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions because he is BIG MAN MUSCLE GUY who THINKS HE DESERVES RESPECT because he’s a WHITE CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN. (He does not.)

    The target of his anger? Teamsters Union President Sean O’Brien.

    Watch the video — summarizing doesn’t do it justice — as Mullin challenges O’Brien to a fight and literally stands up to go fight O’Brien, at which point everybody in the world starts laughing, and Bernie Sanders has to remind the MAGA [B-word] ass hick that he’s a United States senator. [video at the link]

    Mullin was so upset and emotions and in need of smile more! The former MMA fighter, who obviously no longer has any healthy outlets in which to place his simple-minded aggression, starts reading mean tweets the Teamsters man sent him. The Teamsters man suggested Markwayne Mullin is not a self-made man! Markwayne Mullin said he wished the Teamsters man had been in his truck with him to see how self-made he was when he was building his plumbing company!


    The Teamsters man called Mullin a “clown” and a “fraud” in those mean tweets, and told him to “quit the tough guy act.” He added, “You know where to find me. Any time, any place, cowboy.”

    So Mullin finished reading the mean tweets and then challenged O’Brien to indeed do a fight right there. O’Brien was yeah sure, fucker. “I’d love to do it right now,” he said, clearly having fun with this.

    MULLIN: Well stand your butt up then.

    O’BRIEN: You stand your butt up. Big guy.

    Oh, oh, oh! All fun and games until somebody challenges another somebody to butt standing!

    That was when Markwayne Mullin standed his butt up, because we guess he just takes orders like that. And Bernie Sanders, who was leading the hearing, was like Jesus fucking Christ. Sanders explained that this is Congress and “God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress,” and Jesus fucking Christ.

    Mullin continued whining: “I don’t like thugs and bullies!”

    O’Brien responded, “I don’t like YOU.”

    And Bernie was like GODDAMMIT!

    Mullin and O’Brien have done this before. They really hate each other, and obviously O’Brien has a unique talent for getting under Mullin’s thin skin.

    It is a good day in the Congress.

    Want to hear about the other fight?

    First of all, recall the time Eric Swalwell called Kevin McCarthy a [P-word] and everybody nodded their head in the universal motion for “Well, he is not wrong about that.”

    This morning, Republican Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee — that goofy weird folksy bastard who gets boners about aliens but also is a lunatic rank seditionist just like the rest of them — had his own run-in with McCarthy. But he didn’t call him a [P-word], because he’s a fucking weird white Jesus-honking Republican man, so instead he said things like:

    “Hey, Kevin! You got any guts?!”


    “You got no guts!”


    “What kind of chicken move is that?”


    “You need security, Kevin!”

    So that last one is interesting!

    Burchett was one of the eight who voted with Matt Gaetz to end McCarthy’s political career, so it’s clear why there might be hostility.

    Still, Claudia Grisales of NPR reports that it was weird when she was standing there interviewing Burchett and McCarthy shoved Burchett out of nowhere, which caused Burchett to lunge toward her.

    Here are some more tweets:

    Burchett’s back was to McCarthy and his detail walking by in the hallway, then the lunge. Burchett responded jokingly as McCarthy kept walking, “Sorry Kevin didn’t mean to elbow –” then seriously yelled, “why’d you elbow me in the back Kevin?! Hey Kevin, you got any guts!?” Burchett then looked back at me and said, “jerk” referring to McCarthy. I asked if he had done that before, Burchett said “no.” That’s when the chase ensued. Burchett took off after McCarthy and his detail. I chased behind with my mic.

    A chase ensued! In Congress!

    […] Burchett went on to tell Grisales that McCarthy is in a “downhill spiral.” (Hardest ski slope there is.)

    So this is awesome. Hope some kids are at the Capitol today for a field trip to learn about government.

    At some point after the incident, Burchett went on CNN and said McCarthy gave him a “clean shot to the kidneys.” Burchett said it still hurts, on his kidneys. [video at the link]

    Burchett is not accusing McCarthy of assault, or even going to file an ethics complaint. He is just very bless-Kevin-McCarthy’s-heart about the whole thing, and talking about what a coward he is, and how he’s the type of guy who would “hide behind his mama’s skirt.”

    He says he prays for Kevin McCarthy and hopes he “finds some happiness in his life.”[…]

    All very dignified and focused on much-needed legislation … that’s the Republican men in the Halls of Congress.

  157. says

    In Gaza, the dead go uncounted as medical infrastructure disintegrates

    Washington Post link

    A line of medical workers in scrubs, young men with bewildered expressions and a boy walk hurriedly through the door, each gingerly cradling the tiny form of a swaddled premature baby brought from the nursery of Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital.

    The footage, aired by Al Jazeera on Tuesday, was a rare glimpse inside Gaza’s largest hospital, where fuel reserves dried up on Friday and power was cut off from incubators and the lifesaving machines in the intensive care unit. The babies were being relocated from the nursery to an operating room that still had some power.

    As Israeli forces pursue their mission to destroy the militant Hamas movement into the heart of Gaza City, civilians are bearing the brunt and the hospitals that once provided succor are shutting down as communications break down and fuel for generators runs out.

    Gaza’s hospitals have been caught in the crossfire of the fighting, with Shifa emerging as a focal point. Israel alleges that Hamas uses hospitals — especially Shifa — to conceal their bases, while the injured and displaced living on the grounds act as human shields. Hamas accuses Israel of targeting health facilities to cut off a lifeline for residents.

    The disintegration of the Gaza infrastructure also means that information is scarce about what is happening and the numbers of those affected.

    “There is no ministry basically to put out a number, there is no ministry,” said Medhat Abbas, one of the Health Ministry’s directors, when asked about the latest toll. He said he hasn’t been able to speak with his colleagues, many of whom are at Shifa. “The corpses are in the street, so we can’t say any number right now, the bombardment is ongoing,” he said about Shifa.

    The lack of fuel, in hospitals both in the north and in the south, has led to a breakdown in communication and made tallying the dead impossible. Damage from the fighting has also severely degraded the mobile network.

    The ministry stopped updating its tally on Friday at 11,078 because of the breakdown, but it estimates that thousands more have since died. There have also been strikes on the Jabalya refugee camp and in Khan Younis since the counting stopped. Israel’s operation against Gaza came in response to the Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, during which more than 1,200 were killed and at least 240 hostages were taken. […]

    Since Friday, no ambulances have been allowed to reach Shifa hospital, which is now host to approximately 10,000 patients, staff and displaced people. Communication is ongoing between the director of the hospital and Israel for evacuation, said Ashraf al-Qudra, the ministry’s spokesman, but talks had not yet come to fruition.

    “We are trapped inside the buildings, we can’t step outside,” said Qudra in a rare phone call Tuesday from Shifa. “Nothing is available inside the hospital: water, food, or medical supplies, that’s why we lose patients.”
    He described how three babies, born premature, died a few days later as a direct result of the lack of electricity and basic necessities like water. Another 37 people have also died since Friday.

    […] In an operating room that still had some power, the 34 remaining infants were placed side-by-side on three beds, their tiny limbs flailing as they mewled softly. Four had been born to dead mothers, Al Jazeera said.

    […] “We have no objection to evacuate the patients,” Qudra said, “but we need a safe passage, there is yet no place to house 650 patients.”

    […] Israel did agree on Nov. 5 to daily pauses to allow civilians to evacuate along routes decided on by Israel. But medical workers and humanitarian groups have said evacuations are not possible due to the fighting around hospitals.

    […] Since the pauses, an estimated 200,000 more people have fled the fighting raging in northern Gaza via a corridor opened by the Israeli military, the United Nations humanitarian office said Tuesday. The south is dubbed by the Israeli military as a “safer zone” — in lieu of calling the area a safe zone.

    […] The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, said it expected its humanitarian operations to halt within 48 hours, having exhausted its fuel reserves. Its two primary water distribution contractors ceased operations on Tuesday, cutting off 200,000 people from access to potable water.

    The Palestinian Red Crescent Society, or PRCS, announced that the power generator at its affiliated hospital al-Amal in Khan Younis in the south had gone offline, threatening the lives of 90 patients receiving treatment and the 9,000 displaced who had sought refuge on the premises.

    Sporadic violence also continued in the occupied West Bank with clashes in the town of Tulkarm. Reuters reported that at least seven Palestinians were killed there. The Israel Defense Forces said it was carrying out “counterterrorism activities” there and in the ensuing firefight, “a number of the assailants were killed.” The Palestine Red Crescent Society tweeted that an ambulance “was surrounded, inspected, and a wounded person inside was detained” by Israeli forces near the camp.

    The details of the violence in the occupied West Bank are more complicated than this report indicates.

  158. says

    Israel is pressing its case that Hamas is using hospitals as cover, releasing a pair of videos from inside Gaza’s main children’s hospital that showed weapons and explosives purportedly found in the medical center, and a room where the military said hostages were kept.

    While the Health Ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, on Tuesday disputed nearly every assertion made in the initial Israeli video, it acknowledged that the footage was taken from inside Al-Rantisi Specialized Hospital for Children in northern Gaza. The remaining patients and staff are believed to have left the hospital over the weekend after it was surrounded by Israeli forces.

    New York Times link

    Workers at Al-Shifa, the biggest hospital in Gaza City, buried dozens of bodies in a mass grave on its complex on Tuesday because they had started to decompose and posed a health hazard, according to medical authorities in Gaza, signaling the increasingly dire conditions at the facility […]

  159. says

    Scores of people flood into the National Mall in Washington, D.C., at the March for Israel today. While organizers expected thousands to attend the pro-Israel rally, officials have not released an estimate of how many they believe were in attendance.

    […] The White House has “information” that Hamas and other militants in Gaza use hospitals and tunnels beneath them to hide in and keep hostages, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said today aboard Air Force One.

    “I can confirm for you that we have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip including Al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them, to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages,” Kirby said, referring to Gaza’s largest hospital.

    “Members operate a command and control node from Al-Shifa in Gaza City,” he said. “They have stored weapons there and they’re prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility.”

    Kirby said that he did not want to give granular detail on the information to protect sources and methods, but that it came from a variety of U.S. intelligence methods. Hamas, medical staff and Palestinian health officials deny that Gaza hospitals are used by militants. […]

    NBC News link<>/a>

  160. says

    Trump threatens Judge Engoron again, this time with a repost of a ‘citizens arrest’ fantasy

    The New York judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron, slapped a limited gag order on Donald Trump early in the trial after Trump launched repeated public attacks on Engoron, his clerk, and state prosecutors. In justifying the order, which later was extended to include Trump’s showboating attorneys, Engoron cited “hundreds” of threats his office has received after Trump’s social media posts.

    “The threat of, and actual, violence resulting from heated political rhetoric is well-documented,” Engoron wrote.

    That gag order (and two subsequent fines leveled against Trump for ignoring it) hasn’t accomplished much. Trump is still giddily nudging potential violence along, now by promoting a particularly pointed attack from a Truth Social user. “MY FANTASY … I WOULD LIKE TO SEE LITITIA JAMES AND JUDGE ENGORON PLACED UNDER CITIZENS ARREST FOR BLATANT ELECTION INTERFERENCE AND HARASSMENT,” it read.

    This is not a particularly subtle “fantasy.” The notion of a “citizen’s arrest” refers to the common law principle that allows bystanders who witness a (typically violent) felony to use force to disarm and detain the perpetrator before police arrive. […]

    In far-right and militia circles, however—and especially in the cells of the far-right that believe county sheriffs hold the majority of constitutional powers and that declaring yourself a “sovereign citizen” means you can skate out from paying taxes—“citizen’s arrest” refers to the militia belief that at some point armed citizens will be called upon to “arrest” members of the government, staging citizen-led trials for militia-described crimes.

    […] This form of citizen’s arrest is indeed a fantasy. Any scenario in which Donald Trump’s supporters conducted a citizen’s arrest of the judge in his trial or the attorney general who brought charges against him would require pushing past or battling the law enforcement officers surrounding both, “arresting” Trump’s targets, and then kidnapping them for the purposes of holding a mock trial. It’s an inherently violent little fantasy, and it leans heavily on the same anti-government theories that sparked the Jan. 6 violence.

    And both of those reasons are, of course, why Donald Trump is promoting the notion. Trump has never shied from fantasizing about violence against his enemies, and with his actions and inactions on Jan. 6, Trump proved himself more than willing to use actual violence against his enemies.

    […] An attempt to kill or kidnap one of those judges or prosecutors would be useful to Trump as “proof” that prosecuting him for his crimes poses too great a risk for the nation to handle.

    It remains to be seen whether Engoron will respond to this new and transparent threat. I maintain my current position: Throwing Donald Trump’s ass in jail for a night, a week, or a month is both warranted at this point and likely the only judicial threat he will take seriously. That probably won’t happen, but another petty $5,000 or $10,000 fine won’t have any impact at all.

  161. says

    Wow, how very shocking: It turns out that new House Speaker Mike Johnson had a lot of bad things to say about Donald Trump before the Republican Party staked its entire identity and future on the man. From The New York Times:

    “The thing about Donald Trump is that he lacks the character and the moral center we desperately need again in the White House,” Mr. Johnson wrote in a lengthy post on Facebook on Aug. 7, 2015, before he was elected to Congress and a day after the first Republican primary debate of the campaign cycle.

    Johnson also wrote that Trump could “break more things than he fixes,” being “a hot head by nature,” which “is a dangerous trait to have in a Commander in Chief.”

    Mr. Johnson, then a state lawmaker in Louisiana, also questioned what would happen if “he decided to bomb another head of state merely disrespecting him? I am only halfway kidding about this. I just don’t think he has the demeanor to be President.”

    We, of course, know the rest of the story. Like every other Republican lawmaker still in the party, Johnson changed his tune after Trump won in 2016, and by 2020, Johnson had become a Class-A suckup who played a major role in propagating Trump’s lies that the presidential election had been “rigged” against him. Trump can now do no wrong, and when Trump is impeached or indicted for what appear to be blatant crimes, Mike Johnson is always in his corner, parroting Trump’s declarations that it is the prosecutors who are corrupt.

    Johnson’s Trump conversion is the story of modern Republicanism condensed down to one man. Johnson rose to public office banging on about his so-called morality, a man who aligned himself with hate groups and whose Bible-thumping appeared to focus almost exclusively on the alleged evils of homosexuality rather than any of that nonsense about feeding the poor.

    But the moment he had power to protect, it became evident that the “moral center” he had been talking about was one that allowed him to attack his self-identified cultural enemies while defending a parade of crimes from his allies. It was all a farce from the beginning.

    And that is modern Republicanism. An astonishing amount of horseshit gets tossed around about morality and societal decay and how dare so-and-so do such-and-such, and in the end, it’s all a cover for “And by the way, members of our party are allowed to do crimes now.”

    […] Mike Johnson doesn’t have a g-ddamn moral bone in his body. It was a grift from the beginning, and it’s a grift now. The party purges those who allow ethics and morality to guide them, scrubbing even hard-line conservatives like former Rep. Liz Cheney when simple moral edicts like “it is unacceptable to attempt to overthrow the government” get applied to a corrupt and indecent sack of crimes like Donald Trump. […]


  162. says

    Man gives truly inspiring speech at Virginia Beach school board meeting

    Moms for Liberty and the anti-trans culture war hogwash conservatives were hanging elections on was roundly rejected by voters across the country. […]

    Maybe they should have listened to Matthew Conner, a Virginia parent, in October, when he spoke in front of the Virginia Beach School Board and tried to simplify the choice as to whether or not to adopt the anti-trans education policies put forward by state Republicans and Youngkin. [video at the link]

    I wasn’t surprised by another delay at the last school board meeting, because no matter how hard you try to implement these discriminatory policies in the right way, you are never going to find a right way to do the wrong thing. And Gov. Youngkin’s policies are wrong.

    One of the ways you could tell is because you have speakers from groups like Moms for Liberty here to support them. And I’ll be real simple in case you aren’t paying attention—they’re not the good guys. How can you tell? I can help. The good guys don’t get declared extremist groups by human rights organizations. Never in history have the good guys been the ones trying to ban books. Never in history have the good guys been a segregationist group pushing to legislate identity. Never in history have the good guys been closely connected with and supported by hate groups like The Proud Boys.

    And the good guys don’t put Hitler quotes for inspiration on the front of their newsletters. News flash: They’re the bad guys. They’re the bad guys here, supporting bad policy. And if you support the same bad policy, guess what? You’re one of the bad guys, too. When you look around and see only the wrong people support what you’re doing, you’re doing the wrong thing.

    Now you’ve heard some speakers come up here and say how they love these kids but won’t accept them. I’m here telling you that if your love makes somebody not want to be alive, it’s not love. That’s not love. Some speakers are going to get up here and talk about parental rights. The only right the parent has is the right to responsibility. And if you need somebody else to tell you who your kid is, you’re probably not that good a parent.

    And some are going to get up here and tell you how it’s the law. Well, I remind you that slavery and segregation also used to be the law here in Virginia, and that there is no right way to do the wrong thing.

    So do the right thing. Reject these policies that harm and endanger our LGBTQ students. Be the good guys while you still can.


  163. tomh says

    Re: #209 Burchett-McCarthy

    Gaetz calls for ethics investigation into McCarthy after Burchett accusation
    By Amy B. Wang

    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is calling for the House Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) after the former speaker was accused of elbowing Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) in the hallway earlier Tuesday.

    In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Ethics Committee, Gaetz said that Burchett had described the attack as a “sucker punch” and “a clean shot to the kidney.”

    “I myself have been a victim of outrageous conduct on the House floor as well, but nothing like an open and public assault on a Member, committed by another Member,” Gaetz wrote in the letter. “The rot starts at the top.”

    Gaetz accused McCarthy of breaching the congressional code of official conduct — specifically, the first rule, which states that “A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

    “There is substantial evidence that Rep. McCarthy breached this duty,” Gaetz wrote.

    If the Ethics Committee heads determine Gaetz’s request to be a legitimate complaint, they have 45 calendar days or five legislative days to either dismiss the complaint, establish an investigative subcommittee or request an extension.

  164. Reginald Selkirk says

    Physics reveals secret of how nature helped sculpt the Great Sphinx of Giza

    Leif Ristroph, a physicist and applied mathematician at New York University, was conducting experiments on how clay erodes in response to flowing water when he noticed tiny shapes emerging that resembled seated lions—in essence, miniature versions of the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt. Further experiments provided evidence in support of a longstanding hypothesis that natural processes first created a land formation known as a yardang, after which humans added additional details to create the final statue…

  165. Reginald Selkirk says

    House votes to prevent a government shutdown as GOP Speaker Johnson relies on Democrats for help

    The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to prevent a government shutdown after new Republican Speaker Mike Johnson was forced to reach across the aisle to Democrats when hard-right conservatives revolted against his plan.

    The bipartisan tally — 336-95 with 93 Republicans voting no —showed Johnson’s willingness to leave his right-flank Republicans behind and work with Democrats to temporarily keep government running — the same political move that cost the last House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, his job just weeks ago…


    Is the House bill going to fly in the Senate? The support of Democrats seems to indicate it might.

    Are the MAGA chuds going to throw out Johnson for trying to govern?

  166. Reginald Selkirk says

    Uh-Oh: Giuliani’s Top Ukraine Allies Charged With Being Putin Agents

    Ukraine’s Security Service notified Rudy Giuliani’s top Ukrainian allies on Monday that they are suspects of treason, citing evidence that the officials participated in activities aiding Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    A Ukrainian member of parliament, Oleksandr Dubinsky, ex-Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach, and ex-prosecutor Kostyantyn Kulyk are suspected of joining an organization founded by chief members of Russia’s Military Intelligence while Giuliani worked to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in 2019, according to a statement.

    The organization received more than $10 million from the Russian Federation to “discredit” Ukraine on the international stage…

  167. says

    Clearly a NATO-trained wild boar.

    A tragic incident occurred near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A small sabotage group of our military from the territory of Belarus penetrated into the so-called exclusion zone, bypassing control and observation posts.

    At some point, the group walked through the forest and encountered a herd of wild boars that live there. It was not possible to shoot at the animals, since the loud sounds of shots could give away the scouts. Alas, the boars managed to catch up with one of the military men. After a collision with one of the animals, the military man fell unsuccessfully and hit his head on a stone. Died on the spot.

    Link. Scroll down to view this section of the coverage.

    See also:

    A wild boar (not Orban) thwarted the sabotage mission of a Russian commando in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, according to the report below

    A Russian soldier was killed and left in the forest because Russians do not abandon their own…

  168. says

    Senate Rules Committee advances measure to bypass Tuberville’s military promotion blockade

    It takes a singular asshole to require the creation of a whole new Senate rule just to deal with him. Congratulations, Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville: You achieved that today. The Senate Rules Committee voted 9-7 to temporarily change the rules to overcome Tuberville’s ongoing blockade of all military promotions.

    Tuberville has been blocking the promotions since February, ostensibly protesting the Pentagon policy that pays for service members to travel to states where abortion is legal, if they need to—a policy that none of the hundreds of officers he is punishing is responsible for creating or implementing. The resolution passed by the Rules Committee on Tuesday would allow military nominations to be confirmed en bloc, or all at once.

    These nominations and promotions are normally considered in blocs, under unanimous consent. They’re handled in blocs because there are hundreds of them every Congress and the Senate simply does not have enough hours in a day or days in a week to take them up individually. There are more than 400 of them now caught in the backlog, thanks to one man’s tantrum.

    Tuberville has been blocking every attempt by senators to bring those promotions up for a vote, refusing to give his consent. So the temporary rule change—lasting just for the remainder of this Congress—would change the confirmation procedure for all officers other than the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders, who would still require individual votes.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will bring the rule change to the floor unless Republicans figure out a way to get Tuberville to relent—and fast. At least nine Republicans would have to vote with all of the Democrats to pass the bill.

    Tuberville has remained completely unmoved so far by his GOP colleagues’ efforts, even when they confronted him directly on the floor, forcing him to spend hours objecting to individual promotions. […]

    the Republican conference is getting increasingly fed up with him. In a sign of just how frustrated they are, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t shut the door on supporting the resolution in comments he made Tuesday. “I appreciate the work put into the standing order proposal,” he said of the Democrats’ resolution. “But I am going to oppose going that route, at this particular moment,” he said. That’s not a “never.” It’s more like a “not yet.”

  169. says

    Followup to Reginald @220.

    NBC News:

    The U.S. government will run out of money at 12:01 a.m. Saturday if Congress fails to act this week. The House is expected to vote on its continuing resolution, or ‘CR,’ to avoid a shutdown at around 5:30 p.m. ET.

  170. says

    NBC News:

    A former Fox News Capitol Hill reporter and producer has sued the network, claiming he was fired for challenging its on-air lies about the 2020 election. Jason Donner alleges in the lawsuit that Fox News knew President Donald Trump’s claims that voter fraud was behind his 2020 loss were false but that following backlash from Trump and the network’s audience over its Election Day announcement that President Joe Biden had won Arizona, it ‘purged’ journalists who spoke out against false election fraud claims.

  171. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (The Borowitz Report)—Millions of Americans are terrified by the dawning realization that Rep. Mike Johnson is the adult in the room, millions of Americans have confirmed.

    Across the country, residents of the United States were initially cheered by the possibility that an adult was in the room, but were immediately shattered by the discovery that said adult was Rep. Johnson.

    In particular, they wondered what sort of adult would deny the outcome of a legitimate election, believe that the separation of church and state is a myth, and declare that same-sex marriage is a “dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic.”

    While a substantial number of Americans conceded that the Speaker of the House appears to be an adult when compared with Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, or Matt Gaetz, they disagreed that such a dubious distinction earns him even a remote claim to adulthood.

    All in all, there seems to be a broad consensus that, if Mike Johnson is in fact the adult in the room, the room is totally screwed.

    New Yorker link

  172. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #222…
    And yet… One of the great heroines of the Third Reich was Hanna Reitsch who was not only a military test pilot, but in command of a unit of test pilots.

  173. says

    @#219, Reginald Selkirk:

    As always, it’s not about what other people want, it’s about what we want. Support for Biden is now support for genocide, and there’s no going back from that. Biden is doing his very best to lose the votes of a very large chunk of the Democratic base — possibly for good, because so much of the rest of the party has decided it’s better to blindly back him than to listen to their constituents. (Remember: an overwhelming majority of Democrats want a ceasefire, and even a majority of Republicans agree; Biden is absolutely doing something that is against the will of both the public and his party, and it’s a crime so large that he’s never going to be forgiven by anybody who is angry at him.) If Trump wins in 2024, what Biden has done in the past 3 weeks will be exactly the reason why. The Democrats have decided it’s worth losing their own country in order to support crimes against humanity committed by Israel, and they’re in danger of getting what they’re asking for.

    This is exactly the sort of outcome which could be predicted from the dismissal of any concern over Democratic candidates’ past records as “purity testing” — you could be reasonably certain that Biden was going to do something horrific like this sooner or later because of what he has done in the past. But anybody who was smart enough to point that out got yelled at, because Democrats love rewarding traitors and idiots with job advancement — look at how Sinema and Manchin got big-name endorsements within the party when they moved from the House to the Senate, despite both of them having already demonstrated that they were actively against nearly everything the party claims to stand for. Look at how Hillary Clinton, a worthless loser who sided with the Republicans over and over in the Senate and lied to push through a pointless war in Libya as Secretary of State, got the Presidential nomination before Biden — the party loves to promote saboteurs and fools.

  174. John Morales says

    Vicar (of the singular persuation, proper):

    Support for Biden is now support for genocide

    In your imagination, possibly.

    Democrats love rewarding traitors and idiots with job advancement

    Perhaps you even believe that.

    Last time I noted you invariably damn and condemn one side of politics, you blithely make claims to the effect the other is so bad it’s not even in the conversation.

    Always, since at least 2015, you persist in your denigration of the Democrats and of their elected members. Never, ever, ever a good word.

    (Pretty obvious what you are about, really)

    Ah well, this is a thread for political madness, and madness may manifest as absurd claims made with a straight face.

  175. says

    @#230, John Morales:

    Netanyahu’s government has repeatedly said they cannot refuse any demand made by the US because they are too dependent on us to do otherwise. Biden has actively said he won’t demand that they stop their genocide, and is has indicated instead that he is actively in favor of it happening, and is funding it. (We could give every homeless person in the US $24000 with what we’re giving Israel in emergency funding — and that’s not counting the billions they get every year!) He has already lied to justify it (claimed he saw the “video of Hamas killing babies” which turned out to be an invention of the IDF, and the claim was retracted) and accused Palestinians of lying about the death count when they have been able to hand over lists of the people killed. (Over 80 extended families have been completely wiped out. That’s genocide!)

    You and the rest of the Democratic Party may be willing to condone all that — in fact, based on your personal history of comments on this blog, you personally are probably thrilled by it — but to people who don’t approve of mass murder and ethnic cleansing it’s horrifying. If you can get away with it, I suppose it will ultimately just be another stain on world history — in 10 or 20 years you’ll be shaking your heads over how you could have permitted yourself to be misled, just as we do now over Iraq and Libya. No doubt Team Biden (other than the man himself — given his age, in 10 years it’s unlikely Biden will still be around) already have somebody to blame for how they were “misled”, although since Biden claimed to have seen video of Hamas killing babies, a claim which has since been retracted and admitted to be false by the IDF, it’s pretty obvious that if anybody is misleading it is Team Biden themselves. (And all the wilder, more inflamatory claims about Hamas are coming from the same sources who told us Iraq had WMDs and the Libyans were taking Viagra to rape more effectively — you know, all the claims which they later admitted, when it was too late, were outright lies.) People like you, who are now being condescending, will deny having backed the genocide just like you deny you backed the invasion of Iraq despite the polls showing that a majority of you must have been in favor of it at the time. By then it will be too late, of course — regrettable, but obviously unavoidable, because actually doing anything would have required that you admit you are fucking wrong now, and you’ll never do that.

    I’ve been denigrating the Democrats since 2010, when it became clear that the ACA was (a) deliberately going to be largely pointless — all the useful reforms were basically uncontroversial and could have been passed without mandating private insurance, which was a ridiculously bad thing for the public, and (b) being used cynically by the party as a way to run out the clock on that session of Congress without doing anything about the Too Big To Fail banks and traders or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The party has repeatedly justified my poor opinion of them; there are about 10 Democrats in the federal government who are fit for office; the rest might as well be Republicans.

    The Democratic noise machine (which includes all the pro-Biden crowd at this point) hates Trump so much, and claims to actively be afraid he’ll get back into office, but I can’t see any better way to make him win in 2024 than to do as they (and you) are doing. You couldn’t make Biden less appealing to people with actual ethical standards (I know that’s a phrase with which you, like many of the Democratic loyalist imbeciles on this forum, are not familiar) if you were actively giving money to Republican PACs to spend on advertisement. Trying to put lipstick on a pig of this size by providing apologetics for genocide just makes you lose your credibility along with Biden.

  176. whheydt says

    Re: The Vicar @ #231…
    Your opening is the same argument that was used to object to the Apollo space program. Why not spend that money on peoples needs here on Earth? It overlooked two things. First, the amount spent on the Apollo program would have been lost in the noise when added to then existing support programs, and second, all of the money was spent on Earth (there not being a lot of stores in space or on the Moon).
    For the underlying complaint that you make… Do you honestly think that Trump, of all people, would do more to calm things down in the Middle East? If that is what you think, I’d like to know what color the sky is on your planet.

  177. says

    whheydt @228, good to know. There were also women who excelled as snipers. Lots of Russian women did not limit themselves to just making babies for whatever fascist man was in charge. Ditto for women in the Third Reich, as you pointed out. I don’t know why the Kinder (kids), Küche (kitchen), Kirche (church) concept is still being promoted on Russian TV.

  178. says

    Ukraine Update: Ukraine gains in Kherson open up new strategic options

    Can you tell that we’re excited about recent Ukrainian advances in Kherson oblast, south of the Dnipro River (otherwise known as the “left bank”)? We’ve spent the past week covering Ukraine’s actions […]

    Most of that coverage has focused on the what, how, and why of the second Kherson counteroffensive (I think we can officially call it that now). Today, I want to focus on where all of this is headed, and why it must be so terrifying to Russia.

    What: Ukraine has advanced across the entire southern (left) bank of the Dnipro River, filling in the last gap over the past few days with new crossings southwest of the city of Kherson, around Potemkin Island (its real name). [map at the link]

    Why: Russian defenses in southern Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts, have proven too strong for Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russia has apparently thrown a great number of its reserves in its bloody bid for Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s Kherson defenses are light, as Russia assumed the kilometer-wide Dnipro would be enough to protect its flanks. As of now, the river certainly complicates Ukraine’s advances, but it’s proving a surmountable obstacle.

    How: The details remain shrouded in mystery, as they should be. No need to tip off Russians on how to better counter them. But from all indications, it’s a mix of drone swarms hitting Russian targets, a massive artillery advantage firing relatively safely from Ukraine’s side of the river, and elite light infantry units crossing the river via boat and barge and moving quickly through thinly defended Russian ranks. Russian sources report that Ukraine has started moving armor across the river, but Ukraine needs to bridge the river to bring across and supply serious combat power. That requires pushing Russian forces another 10 kilometers or so from the river, to protect any river crossing from tube artillery. This is why Ukraine is clearing territory around Krynky, near Ukraine’s most likely crossing point: [map at the link]

    Ukraine has continued to make gains around Krynky (bottom left yellow splotch inside the circle) in recent days, reportedly liberating the whole village and pushing into the forest to its south, approaching the important T2206 highway. Their current advances aren’t random. Ukraine wants breathing room for its pontoon bridge.

    So, what now? It’s now a game of highways. Or, put another way: a war of logistics.

    There aren’t many roads in this part of Ukraine: [map at the link]

    There are two main highways out of Crimea to the north: the E97 and the T2202. They connect to the T2206 running roughly parallel to the Dnipro, which eventually turns into the M14 running straight to Melitopol—the biggest strategic prize on the entire active war map.

    As such, Ukraine will look to control those key intersections connecting Crimea to the T2206: [map at the link]

    Oleshky, the westernmost circle on this map, will be a key Ukrainian objective, controlling not just a key junction of the T2206, but also pushing Russia away from the destroyed Antonivskyi Bridge. With some breathing room, Ukraine can run an additional pontoon bridge alongside the old one, just like Russia previously did, offering it some protection from Russian missiles and rockets.

    East of Oleshky, Ukraine will want the E97-T2206 road junction. Ukraine is already pushing south of Krynkyand will soon cut the T2206 in that direction. With full control of those access points, the Russian garrison in Kozachi Laheri wouldn’t last long.

    Further east, Korsunka will loom large in the coming weeks, as it is the most likely location for Ukraine’s first bridging attempt. Russia knows this, which is why this little corner of Kherson sports a network of Russian defenses: [map at the link]

    The black arrows point to Ukraine’s likely landing location, and then a second line just south of Korsunka.

    The line on the riverbank will be obliterated by artillery and direct fire from across the river. The Korsunka line will be tougher, but no one thinks these lines are as well developed and equipped as the ones that have caused Ukraine so much grief in Zaporizhzhia.

    Once Ukraine breaches that single defensive line south of Korsunka and reaches the T2206, Nova Kakhovka will be in serious danger of being cut off from its supply lines. Russia understands this and has built defenses along the highway to slow any Ukrainian advance. But if Ukraine manages to push through?

    It’s a straight shot to Melitopol from there on the M14 highway, on an axis with far fewer developed defenses than north of Melitopol. [map at the link]

    In addition to threatening Melitopol, which Ukraine needs to liberate in order to sever Vladimir Putin’s precious land bridge, this would also liberate Enerhodar, where Russia continues playing dangerous games at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. And with winter coming and the Kakhovka reservoir gone, the remaining marshy ground will be frozen, perhaps hard enough for additional Ukrainian crossings in that direction. Don’t sleep on the changed topography of this approach. This satellite image shows you how much of the original river has filled in after Russia blew the Kakhovka dam. [satellite image at the link]

    But if I was in charge, I wouldn’t head east. I’d head south, toward Crimea, along those two major highways in the map above.

    Reaching Crimea would also sever Russia’s land bridge, and along with the destruction of the Kerch Bridge (you know it’s inevitable), it would mark the start of the siege of Crimea. The peninsula already lost its water supply when Russia blew the Kakhovka Dam; it would now lose the efficient supply of both its military and civilian populations. Russia would be dependent on air supply (inefficient), or sea supply, which Ukraine will gleefully target with its missiles and drones.

    With Crimea starving for supplies, Ukraine could afford to wait out the siege while it then looked eastward toward Melitopol.

    This would give Ukraine its first major strategic victory since the Kherson counteroffensive in the fall of 2022, quieting many of its Western critics and skeptics and putting Russia at a diplomatically, politically, and militarily disadvantageous position.

    It’s a fun scenario, right? And Ukraine is in the process of putting the necessary pieces in place to make it happen.

  179. says

    Some limited good news:

    An international team of 15 people from Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has entered into Gaza through Egypt, the organization said today on X.

    “We [will] do everything we can to alleviate suffering in this catastrophic situation,” said Christophe Garnier, the project coordinator.

    The MSF team will be stationed in south Gaza Strip to support medical and surgical staff, “where the health care infrastructure has collapsed and medics are utterly exhausted,” the post said.

    Médecins Sans Frontières reiterated its calls for a cease-fire. It added that delivering aid is extremely difficult in northern Gaza because of bombardments and ground warfare.


  180. says

    As outrage grows over fate of babies in Gaza hospital, Israel offers incubators and fuel

    Doctors and health officials in Gaza say Israel’s public gestures are inadequate, given Al-Shifa’s immense needs.

    As outrage grows over reports of babies dying and a mass grave being dug at Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, Israel has publicly indicated a desire to mitigate the crisis there — not by ending the siege but by offering fuel and mobile incubators.

    On Sunday night, the Israel Defense Forces released video appearing to show soldiers depositing 300 liters (about 79 gallons) of fuel at Al-Shifa’s entrance and announced an evacuation route for people in the complex to flee. On Monday came a pledge that the IDF would coordinate the delivery of incubators to Al-Shifa, following reports that premature babies there had to be removed from their incubators because of power shortages. Then on Tuesday, the IDF shared a photo of a female soldier helping load mobile incubators into a van, which an IDF spokesperson said would be used to transfer at-risk infants out of the hospital.

    “We are trying to bring in incubators that can help transfer babies out of Shifa Hospital to other places down south, which will help safeguard the babies in the hospital,” IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said.

    The IDF said in a briefing later on Tuesday that the incubators had come from Israel’s Tel Hashomer Hospital and are “intended to be used to move premature babies to a safer space.” Asked how they will be delivered to Al-Shifa, spokesman Lt. Col. Amnon Shefler said coordination with the hospital “has not yet been completed.”

    Dr. Ahmed El Mokhallalati, a plastic surgeon at Al-Shifa, said the hospital had not yet gotten a “proper offer” from the IDF to evacuate the babies.

    Gaza’s hospitals, Al-Shifa in particular, have captured the world’s attention and become one of the war’s biggest and most contentious storylines as they run out of fuel and resources amid an overwhelming influx of patients injured by Israeli airstrikes. Israel has repeatedly alleged that Hamas hides in tunnels below Gaza hospitals, including under Al-Shifa — which both Hamas and hospital workers have denied. But images of vulnerable babies and desperate pleas from Al-Shifa’s medical staff for fuel to keep the hospital running have garnered intense public sympathy.

    President Joe Biden said Monday he hoped and expected that there would be “less intrusive action relative to the hospital,” and that the hospital “must be protected.”

    […] The Red Cross, meanwhile, said it is in touch with both parties about Al-Shifa but that no concrete plans or decisions regarding a transfer of the newborns involving the organization have been made.

    Failing an evacuation, it is not clear how the delivery of incubators would help save the lives of premature babies when Al-Shifa lacks electricity to power them — the reason they were removed from incubators in the first place.

    NBC News was also unable to verify when the incubators might be delivered or how the Israeli army would get them to Al-Shifa amid the violence in the area […]

    The promised evacuation route from the hospital, too, does not seem to have changed the situation — doctors at Al-Shifa on Monday said they were not aware of anyone leaving the hospital in the prior two days.

    Dr. Nidal Abu Hadrus, a neurosurgeon at Al-Shifa, said on Monday that it was impossible for people to leave given the close sounds of bombing and shooting outside.

    “It is not safe to move out. It is not safe to stay. We don’t know what to do,” he said.

    […] As for the 300 liters of fuel Israel left at the hospital entrance, a doctor there said on Sunday that Al-Shifa staff had not retrieved it because the amount was virtually a drop in the bucket. At least 10,000 liters per day (2,640 gallons) would be needed to run vital parts of the hospital, according to Dr. Marwan Abusada, a surgeon at the hospital who is also the head of international cooperation at the health ministry.

    The IDF alleged that Hamas had told hospital staff not to collect the fuel. It said Tuesday that the delivery was just meant to “gain more time” to save the lives of people in the hospital — specifically babies and children — and not run the entire hospital. […]

  181. Akira MacKenzie says

    Do you honestly think that Trump, of all people, would do more to calm things down in the Middle East? If that is what you think, I’d like to know what color the sky is on your planet.

    That’s the problem. No one is saying, “Hey! We’re backing the wrong horse! The Palestinians are being slaughtered from something one group did. We need to stop them.” Instead, we only have the choice between someone who is turning a blind eye to a genocide (i.e. Biden) and someone who would actively participate in the murder (i.e. Trump). While I’m sure that some galaxy brain will try to explain how choosing the former is ethically better than the latter, I disagree. They’re the same.

    No one is rushing in to save the Palestinians. No one is sending their military to stop the IDF and oust Netenyahu. The civilized world has decided to let the Israeli’s run their own Holocaust. To be asked to be complicit to that murder by voting in someone who–for whatever reason–will not stop Israel… Well. you can understand why that pisses some off.

    You wouldn’t take this “Lesser of two evils” bullshit from right-wingers? Why should it be better when it comes from a useless lib.

  182. whheydt says

    Re: Akira MacKenzie @ #239…
    My experience is that voting choices are far too frequently between “the lesser of two evils”. The rare exceptions are something to celebrate. I am not, nor have have been particularly happy with Biden. That said, Trump was, is, and will continue to be an utter catastrophe. Since I expect that the Nov. 2024 election will be Biden versus Trump, with a smattering of third parties–and voting for most third parties will be, in any close state the equivalent of handing the election to Trump, Biden, regardless of what one thinks of him is the choice to avoid the destruction that a second Trump term would bring.

    One might have some small hope that Biden won’t survive a second term, in which case I will look forward to having President Harris.

  183. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk@219,

    I have to agree with The Vicar and Akira MacKenzie on this occasion: Biden’s failure to demand a ceasefire (and he’s in a unique position to do so) is so vile that: “But Trump would be even worse!”, while true, is simply grotesque. It makes me particularly glad not to be American, and have to decide whether nonetheless to vote for him next year.

  184. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @213: Whenever I hear the term “citizen’s arrest”, my thoughts immediately go to Gomer Pyle bleating the term over and over on The Andy Griffith Show. The Orange Idiot is just as silly using the term, but his influence is much more dangerous to the objects of his ire as well as to the country.

  185. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 240

    I understand all of that, However, I’ve of the crazy opinion that “lesser of two evils” thinking is only acceptable for inconsequential policy mattes: e.g.. Where to put stop lights. Whether to zone this plot of land commercial or residential.. Minor stuff. Little stuff.

    On the other hand, using it to decide life and death matters like this is-again, in MY CRAZY, INSANE, DELUSIONAL opinion–is unconscionable.

  186. says

    ‘City Elders’, a Shadowy Christian Dominionist Group, Organizing Takeover of Cities Across Country

    […] Writing for Salon in a piece titled “Cracks on the road to Christian Dominion: Is the shadowy ‘City Elders’ group collapsing?” (, Clarkson, Senior Research Analyst at Political Research Associates, takes a deep dive into City Elders, a “national network of county level committees of Christian right activists who want to function as the de facto government in their local jurisdictions.” While City Elders “may well succeed in strengthening the political capacities of the Christian right. … Its efforts have also exposed significant cracks on the road to Christian dominion that could derail the goal of building the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.”

    The name City Elders is both a biblical reference and a description of the group’s focus on county seats as the planned locus of theocratic action. The group seeks to develop a permanent infrastructure to select and elect candidates for local entities such as school boards and county commissions, and then exert ongoing influence. There are statewide City Elders groups in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Virginia, and start-ups in Arkansas and Texas at least.

    In early November, the headline speaker at the annual fundraising banquet for City Elders, held at the Tulsa Marriott, was Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla. “Hern and other right-wing Christians in politics,” Clarkson reports, “including newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, have largely avoided media scrutiny over the religious dimension of their politics. But their involvement with aggressively theocratic elements of the New Apostolic Reformation … including City Elders, is becoming increasingly toxic as public awareness and media attention increase. Theocrats know this, and they are scrambling to adjust.”

    Clarkson reported that joining Rep. Hern at the confab were former Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters and State Sen. David Bullard, Bill Ledbetter, a Southern Baptist minister and “Senior Statesman” who belongs to the Council for National Policy, a secretive and ultra-powerful national conservative leadership group; and Apostle Dutch Sheets of South Carolina, “a top figure in the New Apostolic Reformation who has played a dynamic political role in the Age of Trump.”

    Differences within Christian Nationalist ranks might mean rough times ahead for City Elders. Clarkson notes that “City Elders invokes the role of elders in Old Testament Israel who met at the gates of their ancient cities, where important commercial transactions occurred, court was held and public announcements were made. City Elders seek to organize ‘spiritual leaders’ to protect and advance the kingdom of God, as they see it, from non-biblical influences. They see their contemporary function as protecting their counties from ungodly government, and utilizing civil government to advance the Kingdom.”

    Jesse Leon Rodgers, the founder and chairman of City Elders, says he and his wife had a vision in 2015 […] “You see, God has destined for us, the people of God, to be the leaders and the influencers and to have dominion,” Rodgers said. “Not to be subjugated, but to rule. […]

    Rodgers, who was a state representative of Watchmen on the Wall, a project of the Family Research Council is linking City Elders up with the FRC – the powerful longtime Washington, D.C. lobbying group – for the 2024 elections.

    […] “2024 is going to be the beginning of the Church — and you and I — taking territory which has been lost — lost politically, spiritually, economically, culturally — in every dimension. …. “We are going to see the glory of God.”

    […] In my Salon piece, I am underscoring how Garlow, Jacobs, and Rodgers are clearly sensitive about their Dominionism which is as creepingly totalitarian as it sounds. (They are obviously less concerned about the charge of Christian nationalism).

    Ultimately, Clarkson added, “Americans value their democracy and rightly take umbrage at expressions of religious and political supremacism. They are or will become uncomfortable with the stealth politics of CE’s shadowy, unnamed governing councils.”


    Posted by readers of the article:

    These fascists, cloaked in “Godliness” are a danger to this country. Sunlight still the best disinfectant.
    fanatical institutions fragment into smaller and smaller sects fighting over minutiae such as was Mary the Mother of God or the mother of Jesus (look it up). The real disaster is that the rest of us will be casualties in their wars.
    I went to one of those “academies” in the South, which are basically like the Christian version of madrasas. We got “devotionals” piped to us through the P.A. system every day, had teachers a couple times a year lead everybody in the sinner’s prayer, we had to pray before every event, and we had church leaders come do presentations that we had to attend (somewhere I probably still have my copy of Freddie Gage, The Underworld Preacher that we were given).

    My class ended up putting out more than the usual number of criminals. Bank robbers, child abusers, wife beaters, bank-fraud perpetrators, and don’t even get me started on the drunk drivers and drug abusers. One guy suicided-by-cop by shooting at a couple of state troopers who tried to pull him over. Another couple killed themselves. Only a few of my classmates got through college because we were so poorly prepared for it.

    So anytime the right-wingers start talking about “we need prayer in school” I have to just laugh. I HAD prayer in school, it doesn’t freakin’ work.
    My favorite is how they say, “We have so many school shootings because there is no more prayer in school.”
    These kinds of Napoleonic Messiah groups are usually self-limiting. I suspect they’re most dangerous in societies that have already become pretty solidly theocratic and undemocratic, which doesn’t describe us (yet).

    More likely, these guys involvement in politics might end up tainting the idea of mixing religion and government among people who would otherwise lean that way. I’m not getting my hope up there, but such an unintended consequence would be a very just dessert.
    God always agrees with whatever bigotry they have, and god always wants them to do exactly what they wanted to do anyway.

    It’s enough to make ya question if this whole “god” thing isn’t just self-serving bullshit… :)
    Dominionists don’t wanna be raptured out of here. They want to make the Planet a place they believe Jesus will want to return and rule over, making them his Viceroys, for all their diligent work. They wanna be here for the spoils. They’ve been at this, slowly, creepingly, patiently for over a 100 years. Dominionists are more dangerous to our Democracy than fundiloons, imv.
    This group sounds like a bunch of true believers which is why they will fall flat on their face. Every time stupornatural governing grains traction organized fraud moves in and sets up shop. The blind faith based are easy marks.
    Poor pious Pence. The fly smites thee for all to see, and so didith the Cheeto Jeezuz. I have faith in the continued fraud and fully expect them to be at it for another 100 years. Too bad that rapture thing, where they all disappear, is just a fairytale.

  187. says

    Followup to comment 209.

    The Boston Globe’s Jackie Kucinich posted that she “chaperoned a first grade field trip this morning and despite having school every week since Labor Day, there was no name calling, fighting or clean shots to the kidneys.”

  188. says

    @209 Lynna, OM pointed out the ‘macho’ repugnantcants and their ‘legislation by violence’
    Then, I saw this demonstration of literacy in action by ‘Markwayne the Mullet’:
    on Digby’s blog a post quoting Mullin: “we looked into the rules.You used to be able to cane. Andrew jackson challenged 9 guys to a duel. And so at the end of the day, there is presence for it”

    I say, sounds like his ‘presence’ sets a precedent for stupidity controlling the legislature

  189. lumipuna says

    Re: my 155 on the asylum seekers entering Finland via Russia

    Looks like shit has indeed hit the fan, and faster than I expected. The number of asylum seekers is rising rapidly, and will likely soon reach several hundred per day – more than doubling the total rate Finland normally receives asylum seekers.

    That kind of rate could cause processing problems if it was sustained for some time, resulting in tens of thousands of people in total. Lots whining and grumbling from the racists, and from the people who generally oppose spending public money for the benefit of the downtrodden (ie. the exact people who voted our current government in).

    But now the nation is already getting into panic mode, because there is good enough indication that the whole thing is being machinated by the Kremlin, likely as a petty punishment for Finland for siding with the West/Ukraine. It might be also intended to test our crisis resilience and preparedness. If it was intended to scare many Finns shitless, and lead them into arguing and demanding that we immediately close the border and ditch asylum agreements, it’s working like a charm. The people who already hate brown asylum seekers are on social media ranting about Russian hybrid warfare soldiers.

    The government is reportedly preparing some kind of measures to restrict traffic on the Russian border. There are said to be complications in that process – I suspect because our far-right minister of interior Mari Rantanen is demanding some illegal draconian measures and the border/immigration officials and legal advisers are arguing against those. I expect to see some embarrassing outcome in the international news very soon.

  190. Jean says

    About the Biden/Trump issue, this is a real life trolley problem and that one is no joke and has real world consequences. As much as I despise Biden’s handling of the Israel/Palestinian conflict (actually Palestinian massacre), anyone should know that Trump would be worse for that specific conflict but also for every other existing ones and others that would happen because of Trump being president. And everything else that would be bad inside the US as well (look at project 2025).

    Also, there is at least some possibility of change for the better with Biden (if not through him, through his successor) since there are people in the party that do have different opinions and are not completely silenced (still way too much dark influence and dark money though). On the other side, Trump has no one that will influence him to do better but actually many who will lead him to do worse on multiple fronts and even if he dies, the party is only going to go down this path for at least a generation.

    I’m a Canadian and I’m also appalled at our Prime Minister’s weakness in going against Biden in the Palestinian massacre and not standing up for needs to be done. He’s now trying to be firmer against the killing but he’s helped make Canada meaningless on the world stage (not that Poilievre would be a good alternative, far from it). And I fear we’ll be collateral damage if Trump comes back in power.

  191. Reginald Selkirk says

    Brazilian Swifties want to literally make Taylor Swift as big as Jesus

    … Now, on the Latin American leg of the tour, Brazil might one-up all of those paltry gestures by projecting a Swift tribute on the statue of Christ the Redeemer…

    The idea proposed by Brazilian fans is to project a version of Swift’s “Junior Jewels” shirt, a costume which first appeared in her “You Belong With Me” music video back in 2009. A fan mock-up of Jesus in the Junior Jewels shirt seems like the stuff of memes, except it’s a real thing that could happen, because the mayor of Rio has expressed his support…

  192. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna @ # 222, quoting some(Ukrainian?)body on Xitter: Adolf had the same idea for German women: Kinder (kids), Küche (kitchen), Kirche (church).

    That “3K” line goes back at least to Bismarck, and maybe further (DuckDuckGo seems offline at present, & I don’t consider this a big enough deal to violate my no-Google rule).

    Vicar, Morales, MacKenzie, KG, et al supra – y’all can’t all be missing the greater context (about Biden/Israel etc) by ignorance, can you? Biden not only sucked up to Israel’s emotional response, he tried to temper it by very cogent and relevant reminders of the US’s strategic blunders after 9/11 – perhaps the only way to get them to listen (though it doesn’t seem to have worked with the majority of public or politicians). Given the power of the Israeli lobby in DC and media, outright denunciation would weaken Biden while not slowing down Zionist atrocities; he’s tried to play a weak hand pretty well, under the circumstances.

    US progressives have played a weak hand very poorly, splitting themselves without producing any measurable effect to aid civilian victims “over there” or educate voters over here. The squabbling at FtB illustrates that in a microcosm.

  193. says

    lumipuna @251, thanks for the update. This is disturbing:

    But now the nation is already getting into panic mode, because there is good enough indication that the whole thing is being machinated by the Kremlin, likely as a petty punishment for Finland for siding with the West/Ukraine.

    Does sound like something Putin would do, but I see that we need more information before we come to a conclusion.

  194. Akira MacKenzie says

    “Biden not only sucked up to Israel’s emotional response, he tried to temper it by very cogent and relevant reminders of the US’s strategic blunders after 9/11…”

    Yeah, I’m sure Netenyahu paused to quake in his boots. What Biden SHOULD have said was “The IDF has 24 hours to stop their genocide against the or the United States will level Tel Aviv.” Then he should expel the Israeli consulate and tell AIPAC to go fuck itself.

    He won’t even call it a genocide? Will he?

    “US progressives have played a weak hand very poorly, splitting themselves without producing any measurable effect to aid civilian victims “over there” or educate voters over here.”

    Maybe because that in this shithole capitalist country Progressive don’t have the political or financial power to do anything of significance. This falls on you centrists. You’ve got the money and power. You do something.

    Altough, you won’t.

  195. says

    Watch Rachel Maddow’s commentary on the expanding divide between the two parties

    On Tuesday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was recording an interview segment on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” when news came out that the House of Representatives had finally done something productive: It passed a continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down. And it happened because Democrats put party politics aside and overwhelmingly supported the resolution. Colbert broke the news to Maddow and asked for her real-time reaction. Maddow gave a clear breakdown of how our two-party system has a single-party problem.

    [The GOP] is not a party that is trying to govern, and we are faced with this larger project right now in our politics, which is that one side, under the Republican Party’s leader, is trying to say, you know, “My political opponents don’t deserve to live. I shouldn’t be subject to elections. I should just have power and rule and use the government to crush my enemies and get revenge.”

    And the Democrats are like, “We like to talk about light rail and some foreign balanced foreign policy perspectives on attacking.” You know, like Democrats are still treating this like it is a governing project. And it is really, the two parties are doing two very different things. And so now we are going to keep the government open. It is because the Democrats came to the rescue and said that we should. But this is the Republican Party still not even wanting to keep the government going, because they don’t believe that governance is what we need in this country.

    They believe we want a strongman form of government under a guy who just says what he wants and it happens. And the stakes are really high right now, and it’s just depressing to see what’s happening in Congress.

    [video at the link]

  196. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sorry, I’m getting really angry right now… Let me respost:

    “Biden not only sucked up to Israel’s emotional response, he tried to temper it by very cogent and relevant reminders of the US’s strategic blunders after 9/11…”

    Yeah, I’m sure Netenyahu paused to quake in his boots. What Biden SHOULD have said was “The IDF has 24 hours to stop their genocide against the of the Palestinians or the United States will level Tel Aviv.” Then he should expel the Israeli consulate and tell AIPAC to go fuck itself.

    He won’t even call it a genocide? Will he?

    “US progressives have played a weak hand very poorly, splitting themselves without producing any measurable effect to aid civilian victims “over there” or educate voters over here.”

    Maybe because that in this shithole capitalist country Progressive don’t have the political or financial power to do anything of significance. This falls on you centrists. You’ve got the money and power. You do something.

    Although, you won’t.

  197. Pierce R. Butler says

    Akira MacKenzie @ # 256: What Biden SHOULD have said was {stop massacre} or {massacre}…

    You consider this a more moral OR more effective response? Pls stop “thinking” with your amygdala.

    … in this shithole capitalist country Progressive don’t have the political or financial power to do anything of significance.

    Not quite, but close. Progressives have least leverage in foreign/military policy.

    … you centrists.

    You misinterpret my position, but I haven’t (in this thread) given you much to judge by. Hint: trying to analyze a situation without favoring any given side does not automatically imply centrism.

  198. says

    Cartoon: Mike Luckovich on Clarence Thomas

    On another subject: Akira @256, I do not agree that anyone should follow your suggestion that “the United States will level Tel Aviv.” Furthermore, that comes close to promoting violence, which, as we’ve discussed before, I do not allow on this thread. Let’s not promote violence, not even in an indirect way. Thanks.

  199. Akira MacKenzie says

    You consider this a more moral OR more effective response?

    Why not. It’s the only language colonizers understand.

  200. says

    Followup to Reginald @221.

    Ukraine Officials Who Spun Dirt On Bidens Charged With Treason

    Kyiv security services say that Russian intelligence paid $10 million for a network whose claims Giuliani boosted.

    The group of Ukrainians who flung byzantine and self-serving allegations about corruption in the Biden family were hit on Monday with treason charges over the effort.

    The Security Service of Ukraine said that it was charging several people with counts of treason and involvement in a criminal organization for allegedly taking millions of dollars from Russian intelligence services to spread propaganda aimed at discrediting Kyiv’s relationship with the U.S. during the 2020 election. That propaganda played a role in Trump’s first impeachment, as Rudy Giuliani in 2019 sought to smear the Bidens by dragging them into the muck of Ukrainian corruption scandals.

    Giuliani traveled to Kyiv during that effort, meeting with Ukrainian MPs Andriy Derkach and Oleksandr Dubinsky and praising the information he received from them. Now, Ukrainian authorities allege that Derkach, Dubinsky, and another key figure were literally bought and paid for by the Russian government as they were feeding Giuliani with allegations — and that the accusations they were hawking were the product of a $10 million propaganda network created by Russian military intelligence.

    The treason charges are a shocking if not surprising milestone in the lengths that Trump and those around him in the GOP went late into his term to manufacture dirt on the Bidens and prod Kyiv into cooperating. Trump was impeached over the effort, which involved him withholding military aid to Kyiv as part of an effort to coerce the country into launching investigations and manufacturing dirt on the Bidens.

    The Ukrainian treason charges identify at least some of the information which Giuliani received as the product of a Russian military intelligence effort. They also define the damage that the scandal wrought as being aimed at undermining U.S. support for Ukraine.

    Ukrainian security services named the people in a Ukrainian-language press release and accompanying video. They are the two Ukrainian members of parliament, Derkach and Dubinsky, and a prosecutor named Kostyantyn Kulyk. The group received more than $10 million from the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, Ukrainian authorities said.

    Ukrainian authorities laid out a division of labor for the three in the statement announcing the charges over what it described as “information-sabotage activities.”

    The two members of Ukraine’s parliament, Dubinsky and Derkach, are singled out in the security agency’s statement as having held a number of press conferences in November 2019. The two spun a bizarre conspiracy theory at the conferences alleging that multinational investment funds based in the U.S. were in cahoots with the Democratic party to launder money through and out of Ukraine.

    Giuliani met with the two in Kyiv the next month, and said later that he planned to provide Trump with a 20-page report on what he had learned.

    At the same time, Ukrainian authorities said, Kulyk allegedly used his position as a prosecutor to substantiate allegations spread by others in the network. […]

    Kulyk reportedly developed a seven-page, English-language “dossier” on Hunter Biden while in office in 2018. Kulyk then shopped it around, complaining to right-wing scribe John Solomon in April 2019 that U.S. prosecutors were not interested in the information.

    That dossier included debunked accusations which later entranced Trump and Giuliani, including that Biden, as vice president, tried to thwart an investigation into his son by pushing for the country’s top prosecutor to be fired, and that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was opposed to Trump.

    The ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was fired in May 2019.

    The Ukrainian charges follow previous allegations from the U.S. Treasury Department that the three men were working to aid the Russian government.

    The U.S. Treasury called Derkach an “active Russian agent” in September 2020. Ukrainian security services said earlier this year that Derkach had created a group of private security companies in Ukraine which aimed to assist Russian forces upon their arrival in February 2022, had the invasion gone according to plan. The Treasury Department also sanctioned Kulyk and Dubinsky in January 2021 for allegedly being part of a “Russia-linked foreign influence network.”

    Good to see that some bad guys were caught. Also, Giuliani looks so damned gullible.

  201. says

    Childhood Vaccination Rates Are Declining. You Can Blame MAGA.

    Not Covid vaccines—the old ones that protect us from measles, whooping cough, and polio.

    Back in mid-2021, when it was clear that conservatives were mobilizing against the Covid vaccines, I remember asking a prominent doctors’ group if they were worried that their attacks on the new shots would undermine confidence in routine childhood vaccinations—the kind that prevents potentially deadly, contagious childhood diseases like measles, polio, and whooping cough. They reassured me that parents’ skepticism was limited to Covid vaccines—which made sense because those shots were still new and these others had been around for decades. The rest of the immunizations were still just as popular as ever. […]

    That was then.

    Today, just two and a half years later, the situation appears to have shifted. The percentage of kindergartners who are fully vaccinated declined from 95 percent in the 2020-2021 school year to 93 percent in 2021-2022—below pre-pandemic levels. Since schools still require routine vaccinations, more families than ever before are asking permission for their school-aged children to skip the shots, as well. Requests for exemptions increased in 41 states, and in 10 states, more than 5 percent of parents made such requests. That exemption rate is significant, because when more than 5 percent of a given population is unwilling to be vaccinated, “herd immunity” is compromised and outbreaks are possible. That was the news last week from the Centers for Disease Control, which tracks rates of childhood immunization every year.

    This latest development is no random statistical blip—actually, I’ve been dreading it for a while now. What started as a campaign by a small group of influencers who exist in the nexus of wellness culture and rightwing politics has entered the national conversation as a major talking point of powerful conservative politicians.

    […] I’ve documented the alarming rise in misinformation about immunizations since the onset of the pandemic. In 2020, California naturopath and anti-vaccine activist Larry Cook explained in a video on his website, Medical Freedom Patriots, how his thinking evolved on spreading his anti-vaccine message since the days when skepticism around vaccines was thought to be a quirk of the natural-lifestyle corner of the far left. “The Democrats are actually the ones pushing the vaccine mandate agenda,” he said. “I am of the opinion that now, especially with Covid-19, the Republican elected officials are going to get hit really, really, really hard to capitulate to vaccine mandates.” He explained that his “target demographic” was “pro-Republican,” “pro-President Trump,” and “QAnon friendly.” Cook had hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook before Meta removed his account in 2020 for violating its misinformation policy. Even before the release of the lifesaving Covid vaccines in 2021, influencers were laying the groundwork for widespread confusion, posting in parents’ groups about the supposed dangers of vaccines—along with the pedophilia-obsessed QAnon conspiracy theory that preyed on parents’ myriad anxieties about their children.

    That year, the nascent conservative antipathy toward Covid vaccines collided with the burgeoning parents’ rights movement, which railed against school closures and mask mandates, and then against racially diverse and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, books, and programming. Last year, at the inaugural summit of the influential parents’ rights group Moms for Liberty, I watched Florida governor Ron DeSantis crow to the crowd about his anti-vax credentials. He said he had heard that families were moving to Florida because they were worried their states would require children to be vaccinated against Covid in order to attend school. “It’s very important that we were not allowing government to come in and force that on people,” he said. The moms went wild with approval.

    […] No discussion of the mainstreaming of vaccine hesitancy could be complete without mention of another presidential candidate: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who traffics in vaccine misinformation along with his famous family name. Kennedy, who founded the anti-vaccine advocacy group Children’s Health Defense, somehow over the last decade has been transformed from an effective environmental crusader into a full-blown vaccine conspiracy theorist. He loudly and frequently repeats the discredited claim that vaccines cause autism. “I see somebody on a hiking trail carrying a little baby and I say to him, better not get them vaccinated,” he said in a 2021 podcast. Kennedy’s group seems especially intent on eroding vaccine confidence in the Black community. In 2021, Children’s Health Defense released a movie called Medical Racism: The New Apartheid, which inaccurately claims that Black children have more robust immune responses and that they are therefore being “overdosed” with certain vaccines.

    […] Last year, I talked to Florida pediatrician Mobeen Rathore, who had worked on a highly successful campaign in the early aughts to raise the state’s abysmal childhood vaccination rates. They eventually managed to raise the rates among two-year-olds from 77 percent in 2002 to 98 percent in 2019, so he was dismayed to see his hard work being undermined by a few power-hungry politicians. “Of all the things that government mandates, [childhood vaccines are] the simplest, and the most useful one,” he told me. “I just don’t know why we have to politicize healthcare, especially for children.”

  202. says

    Lawyer of Georgia defendant in Trump election case admits to leaking witness video

    Leaked videos. An apparent confession, later represented as a “typo.” Demands for a protective order.

    Media reports detailing confidential interviews with four defendants in the Georgia racketeering case involving former President Trump who were divulging their knowledge to state prosecutors set off a bizarre “whodunnit”-style hearing in state court Wednesday afternoon.

    It culminated with a confession by one defendant’s lawyer and a Georgia judge weighing whether to issue a protective order placing restrictions on how defendants can disseminate materials they receive in discovery.

    “In being transparent with the court and to make sure that nobody else gets blamed for what happened – and so that I can go to sleep well tonight – judge, I did release those videos to one outlet,” said Jonathan Miller, an attorney for defendant Misty Hampton. “And in all candor, I need the court to know that.”

    Miller’s admission capped a whirlwind series of developments that began when footage surfaced of the proffer sessions the four defendants who pleaded guilty – ex-Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, plus former Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall – participated in as part of their deals with state prosecutors.

    Their confessions, published first by ABC News and the Washington Post, bolster the narrative laid out in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ 98-page indictment that Trump led the charge on efforts to subvert Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results in his favor.

    Within hours of the footage surfacing on Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys started trading blame. It began with an email chain demanding answers from Steve Sadow, Trump’s attorney.

    “The proffers did not come from Jennifer or me, or anyone connected to my defense team,” Sadow wrote. “Please state for the record whether the prosecution or anyone connected to the prosecution team had any hand in the disclosure of the proffers to the media.”

    Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade responded Tuesday morning, “The State had nothing to do with leaking any information to the media!”

    Minutes later, Todd Harding, an attorney representing defendant Harrison Floyd, seemed to confess, writing “It was Harrison Floyd’s team.”

    “Sorry, it was a typo,” he followed up minutes later. “We did not communicate with the media.”

    But the damage was already done, with prosecutors soon afterwards filing an emergency request for a protective order, which would place restrictions on how the defendants can use materials they receive in discovery. They attached the email chain as part of their motion.

    Miller’s confession at Wednesday’s hearing came after Floyd’s lawyers filed additional documents insisting they did not leak the proffers and that the individual who did would come forward.

    “It is my understanding that today the individual that disseminated the proffer videos will inform the Court of that fact…. All of this colossal time waste is the direct result of the State’s intentional maneuver to use the typographical error in an email in a motion that the State knows has zero support,” Floyd’s lawyer wrote in court documents filed earlier on Wednesday.

    […] Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is now weighing prosecutors’ request to impose a protective order on all of the defendants in response to the leak. With no protective order currently in place, Miller’s disclosure wasn’t illegal.
    Although most defendants were in agreement about issuing a limited protective order, at the hearing, Miller argued against one. He suggested that Hampton believes transparency in the 19-defendant racketeering case – “one of the biggest cases that the country has had” – is vital. Hampton was Coffee County’s election supervisor, where an election equipment breach core to the case allegedly occurred. […]

  203. says

    US And China — Yes, THAT China — Agree To Expand Renewable Energy, Ditch Fossil Fuels.

    For that uncle who says China’s doing ‘nothing.’ Now he’ll say China’s lying. Never mind that uncle, he’s a lost cause.

    Just a day before today’s face-to-face meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco, the State Department announced that the US and China have agreed to cooperate more closely on climate change. It’s kind of a big deal, since we’re the planet’s two top sources of greenhouse emissions. The agreement is the result of months of negotiations between US Climate Envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

    NBC News reports the two countries will revive a

    bilateral working group that will address issues including energy transition, methane and deforestation, marking the full restoration of climate relations that China cut off more than a year ago amid tensions over the Beijing-claimed island of Taiwan.

    The two countries also expressed support for a declaration by world leaders at this year’s Group of 20 summit to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, and vowed to work together on a global, legally binding agreement to reduce plastic pollution.

    China has in the last decade deployed more renewable energy, and done it faster, than any other country in the world, and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air estimates that China will build more new solar capacity this year alone than the total amount of solar installed in the USA.

    The downside, of course, is that China is also rapidly expanding its coal-burning power stations, even though coal is the worst source of planet-warming carbon dioxide. That’s largely because China’s gamble on building enormous hydroelectric dams has been undercut in recent years by sustained drought that left reservoirs behind the dams too low to produce power. The Chinese Communist Party is no fan of mass protests over blackouts, after all.

    There’s every reason to believe, though, that China will be moving away from coal as its renewable capacity expands, although right now all those renewables aren’t yet able to contribute as much as they could, since China’s electric grid needs substantial upgrades to get clean power where it’s needed — a problem the US faces as well.

    As the New York Times reported recently, China’s energy transition is actually farther along than almost anyone would have predicted, given its historic reliance on coal.

    Mr. Xi announced in December 2020 that China planned to triple its wind and solar capacity by 2030. China is on track to reach that target by the end of next year, said Frank Haugwitz, a solar industry consultant who specializes in China’s data.

    The agreement announced yesterday unfortunately doesn’t include any firm commitment by China to phase out coal or even a timeline for ending the construction of new coal plants. But there’s a bit of progress there, too, the Times reports:

    [Both] countries agreed to “pursue efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030.” That growth should reach levels high enough “so as to accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation,” the agreement says. Both countries anticipate “meaningful absolute power sector emission reduction” in this decade, it says. That appears to be the first time China has agreed to cut emissions in any part of its economy.

    In another notable development, the US-China agreement announced yesterday includes, for the first time, a Chinese commitment to set goals for reducing all greenhouse gases, while up to now it has only set targets for phasing out CO2 emissions.

    The Times also points out that so far, China hasn’t joined the “Global Methane Pledge” that 150 nations have signed, which commits member nations to reduce emissions of the highly potent greenhouse gas by 30 percent by 2030. So there’s a lot more persuading yet to go.

    This is all what your diplomatic cliché handbook would call “a welcome development” in advance of the UN’s big COP28 climate meeting in Dubai next month, in what’s likely to be the hottest year in human history. If the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases can make progress, then it’s just possible the world is going to tackle climate change in time to keep much of the planet habitable for beloved mammals like manatees, koalas, kittycats and those owned by them … and Taylor Swift.

  204. says

    Louisiana Dipshit Rep. Clay Higgins Knows ‘Ghost Buses’ Full Of Feds Did January 6, WHAAAAAR GHOST BUSES?

    Speaking of maniacally stupid Republican rent-a-cops, it’s time for a visit with our old pal Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins.

    One of the many contradictory conspiracy theories MAGA [followers] believe about January 6 is that it was a false flag by the FBI, in order to make MAGA [followers] look bad […]

    (Charlie Sykes points to an interesting Reddit discussion in this morning’s newsletter, which includes an insight about why conspiracy theorists believe in contradictory delusions, namely that it’s not about the specific beliefs themselves, but rather the overarching idea that yer bein’ liiiiiiiied tooooooo! Therefore, for MAGA Republicans, January 6 was both a false flag by the feds to ensnare otherwise innocent Trump supporters — LOL — and also a mere tourist visit by innocent Republicans interested in learning how a bill becomes a law.)

    Today, Clay Higgins, by miles one of the stupidest and most easily excitable dipshits ever to stink up the House chamber, spent some time with the conspiracy theory that the FBI brought GHOOOOST BUSES to the Capitol on January 6, filled with “FBI informants dressed as Trump supporters,” who were then “deployed” on the Capitol.

    It happened in the Worldwide Threats hearing, and Higgins was bothering FBI Director Christopher Wray. He asked Wray if January 6 was a false flag. Wray said no. Higgins clearly thought he had caught Wray red-handed, and … oh, just bless his heart. [video at the link]

    HIGGINS: Are you familiar with – do you know what a ghost vehicle is? You’re the director of the FBI, you certainly should. Do you know what a ghost bus is?

    Chris Wray was like what?

    HIGGINS: OK. It’s pretty common in law enforcement. It’s a vehicle that’s used for secret purposes. It’s painted over.

    Uh huh.

    HIGGINS: These two buses in the middle here [points to photo] were the first to arrive at Union Station on January 6, 0500. I have all the evidence. I’m showin’ the TIP of ‘dis iceberg! I’m showing you these two buses are painted completely white!

    Well, we all know what white buses mean. Or do we?

    HIGGINS: This is very important, Mr. Chairman. These buses are nefarious in nature and were filled with FBI informants dressed as Trump supporters. They were deployed onto our Capitol on January 6th. Your day is coming, Mr. Wray.



    […] Let’s revisit our first introduction to Clay Higgins, when former Trump lawyer/now nemesis Michael Cohen testified before Congress in 2019. Higgins was so confused why Cohen was in possession of the boxes of evidence that had been seized from his apartment and office, utterly incapable of mentally processing the concept that the FBI gave the evidence back when they were done with it.

    He just kept asking over and over again. WHARRRRRR BOXES? WHARRRRRR ARE THEY?

    […] Wonkette wrote a dramatic one-act play that day about Michael Cohen testifying before brain-damaged Clay Higgins, trying desperately to explain extremely elementary concepts to him:


    COHEN: Um, they’re in storage?


    COHEN: They gave them back …


    COHEN: Chairman, this congressman is too stupid, may I have a different one?

    We have not yet received any literary awards for that, maybe they are lost in the mail.

    And now we will write a dramatic one-act play about Clay Higgins asking FBI Director Wray about ghost buses on January 6.


    WRAY: …


    WRAY: Is there a question?


    WRAY: I’m just going to sit here until this is over, I guess.


    Maybe the Higgins family can act these out for Daddy at Thanksgiving next week. […]

    Or maybe we will just take it to Broadway. We’ll take our Tonys in advance.


  205. says

    OMG. After that pathetic display of macho-man stupidity in a Senate hearing, Markwayne Mullin hastened to Fox News to explain himself, and to offer excuses:

    Last night, Oklahoma Senator Markwayne Mullin, a Republican obviously, ran whining to Sean Hannity, because that’s what they all do after a long day of playing with their poo. And he told Hannity that he had that silly crybaby temper tantrum at the head of the Teamsters union during a Senate hearing yesterday because that’s what Oklahoma voters sent him there to do. Which says a lot about the relatively low quality of Oklahoma voters in comparison to all others, if true. [video at the link]

    Hannity said it would have been “gutless” to react in any other way. (The Teamsters guy had made some mean tweets at Mullin months ago.) “What do people want me to do?” asked Mullin, apparently unaware that regular people who love themselves and aren’t morons do not require their senators to try to start fights during Senate hearings. “If I didn’t do that, people in Oklahoma would be pretty upset at me. That’s not how we raised, and I’m ‘posed to represent Oklahoma values!”

    […] This would be a good time to remind everyone that Sean Hannity does MMA, did you know he does MMA? Markwayne Mullin used to do MMA, did you know he did MMA? This has been a paragraph about MMA and the guys who do it.

    At another point in the interview, Hannity explained that back in his day, it was a different time, and every single day (every SINGLE day) on the ballfield all the children would get into fistfights with each other, because this is just what they did.

    “Me and my friends, when we played football, we played basketball, I played hockey, you know, I don’t think there was a single day that we were playing sports, where we didn’t drop the gloves or, you know, have a brief interlude of, you know, throwing fists, and it would all be over, you pick up and you start playing again.”

    Every day, they had to punch each other, baby Sean Hannity and his pals. [And he remembers this fondly?]

    He asked, “When all of a sudden did we become that woke that the thought of two people, one responding to a threat directly, saying, OK, you threatened me, here’s your opportunity, take me up on it?”

    Indeed, when did we become so “woke” that we don’t even throw punches during Senate hearings when mean guys hurt our feelings?

    Mullin said it is “political correctness,” and then bellyached that “the Left can say whatever they want.” […] [video at the link]

    On Fox Business yesterday, Mullin complained […] that the Teamsters man, Sean O’Brien, is a “thug,” and that committee chair Bernie Sanders should have expected this to happen because “you’ve seen his tweets to me.” (Reminder that this is still about mean tweets. You would think Sean O’Brien had fucked Mullin’s wife by how melodramatic he’s being.)

    “I says you brought the thug in!” That’s what he said to Bernie.

    And he appealed to precedent for other times that grown men acted like little pissyass shitbabies on the Senate floor. There’s a lot going on in this clip: [video at the link]

    MULLIN: Andrew Jackson challenged two people or nine people to a duel when he was president, and he also knocked one guy out at a White House dinner! There’s been canings before in the Senate too! Maybe we should bring some of that back, you know, keep people from thinking they’re so tough, and make us sit at a table, and we can actually work out our differences without poking at each other, and wanna run to cameras and call people names. Maybe if we have some kind of respect because we know there’s gonna be consequences for your actions, then maybe we can move on with all this, I don’t know, JARGON, that happens around this place.

    Wow, OK. First of all, that’s not how the word “jargon” is used in the English language, or any other language. It is not even the Oklahoma values definition of “jargon.”

    Secondly, Markwayne Mullin is saying that maybe they should have some canings in the Senate, or possibly duels, in order to keep people from sending him mean tweets? If they knew there was gonna be consequences for sending Markwayne Mullin mean tweets, then people wouldn’t do it, because they’d get caned?

    Uh huh. OK, big boy.

    Thirdly, that (infamous) caning Mullin referenced is credited for hastening the beginning of the Civil War, so perhaps Markwayne Mullin’s fight club strategies aren’t that effective out here in grownup world. It was an assault. It wasn’t something they just did back then. And who did the caning? The guy trying to preserve slavery, of course. […]

    Mullin also responded to the idea that this was behavior “unbecoming to a senator,” and he said well he doesn’t know, but he said that he is first an Oklahoman (before he is a senator), and that’s what happens if you try that in Oklahoma.[…] He said the Teamsters guy O’Brien was “scared out of his mind” when he stood up to go beat him upon the bottom during the Senate hearing. Markwayne Mullin said he saw “the fear in his eyes,” and that O’Brien was “very thankful” that Bernie Sanders stopped them.

    “I wasn’t worried about the fight itself, but I was ready to shut his mouth up,” said the United States senator, yet another man whose head was filled as a child with lies like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

    Mullin said he guarantees that Teamsters guy “won’t run his mouth to me again.” […]

    For his part, Bernie Sanders said it’s “pathetic” that he had to break up that dumbass shit yesterday.

    In other Mullin news, he reportedly kicked Rep. Tim Burchett — the one Kevin McCarthy kidney-punched — out of his workout group last week, because Tim Burchett is mean to Kevin McCarthy and Markwayne Mullin is Kevin McCarthy’s friend and you cannot be mean to Kevin McCarthy unless you WANT TO TAKE THIS OUTSIDE, YOU WANT TO TAKE THIS OUTSIDE? WE CAN TAKE THIS OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW!

    [Markwayne Mullin has a workout group for Republican senators?]

    Burchett said Mullin “berated” and “yelled” at him until he left the group.

    Big man. [Bully]

    By the way, you really should watch the whole entire full video of yesterday’s incident. Markwayne Mullin is so much more pathetic in the full video than he is in the brief clips we’ve all been watching. If you want to see what a small man he really is, take five minutes.

    More video at the link.

  206. Reginald Selkirk says

    US Senator Manchin says has an eye on White House in 2024

    Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who last week announced he will retire from the Senate at the end of next year, added to his party’s woes on Wednesday when he said he “absolutely” would consider running for president in 2024.

    In an interview with NBC News, Manchin said: “Every American should consider it if they’re in a position to help save the country.” …

    Wow, he is delusional.

  207. birgerjohansson says

    In this week’s God Awful Movies Noah Lugeons is away resting after literally suffering a heart attack, but Heath Enwright ,Eli Bosnick and “guest masochist” Trinity Pixie are holding the fort.

    GAM430 What Is A Woman

  208. Reginald Selkirk says

    New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy announces run for US Senate seat in 2024

    New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy on Wednesday launched a bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in next year’s contest.

    Her candidacy, announced Wednesday, puts her in the running to become the first woman elected to the Senate from New Jersey. The Democratic primary already features Rep. Andy Kim and could include Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, who has lost significant party support amid federal bribery charges but has not ruled out a run in 2024…

  209. Reginald Selkirk says

    Apple’s China ties under Congressional scrutiny after Jon Stewart cancellation

    Lawmakers apparently balked after learning that Apple canceled the critically acclaimed weekly streaming talk show, The Problem with Jon Stewart, last month—reportedly over issues with the show’s planned programming related to both China and artificial intelligence.

    In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party urged Apple to explain its decision to end production of The Problem with Jon Stewart and “accelerate its efforts to reduce its dependence on” China. These steps, lawmakers wrote, are critical to help address “broader concerns about indirect Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence over the creative expression of American artists and companies on CCP-related topics.” …

  210. says

    Followup to comments 209 and 268.

    What the ever-loving fuck? Markwayne Mullin is still talking:

    Sen. Markwayne Mullin appeared on the Oklahoma-based podcast “Undaunted Life: A Man’s Podcast.” And Mullin and the host had this strange exchange about his aggro behavior:

    HOST KYLE THOMPSON: Why you should train jiu jitsu is because even if you lose a fight, you want to make sure the other guy will never want to fight you ever again, because it’s kind of a win-win at that point. But we need to move from an almost-fight—
    MULLIN: And by the way, I’m not afraid of biting. I will bite.

    THOMPSON: Biting?

    MULLIN: Yeah, if I’m in a fight, I’m going to bite. I’ll do anything. I mean, I’m not above it. And I don’t care where I bite, by the way. It just is going to be a bite.

    THOMPSON: I’m not even going to ask any further questions on that. I think that that basically speaks for itself.

    Link. Video at the link.

    More commentary:

    […] Mullin at least knows how to pick an audience for his weird comment about biting. The “Undaunted” podcast is one of many trying to carve out space in the modern “men’s rights” movement. This right-wing to far-right media ecosystem often attaches itself to mixed martial arts and Christianity (sometimes called “spirituality”), with its various middle-tier hosts trying to do their best to mimic Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, and Steven Crowder. For instance, the website for Thompson’s podcast describes itself this way:

    On the show, he tackles hot button issues that most pastors won’t go near; such as the lack of true masculinity in the Church, supposed “toxic” masculinity in culture, how to defeat pro-abortion arguments, wokeness and cancel culture, CRT, the LGBTQ+ cultural revolution, and much more.

    And yes, Thompson talks about “working out, or doing jiu-jitsu” when not hanging with his wife and kids. He also sells cigars for $16 a pop (or a little under $300 for a 20-pack). But no worries, they are rolled for a good and manly cause: “It’s more than just a good smoke… These cigars help fund the prevention and rescue of children from sex trafficking.”

    MarkWayne Mullin used the show to peacock and pretend to be a hard-working Regular Joe, all for the benefit of men who are having a hard time managing their masculine identities in a world with increasing financial inequalities.

    Biting? Mullin is a biter? And why are so many bad ideas intersecting here? A supposed “lack of masculinity in the Church”? Why capitalize “Church”? Looks like something similar to what Mormons do when they refer to “The Church,” meaning that only their church is really a church. And why sell cigars to raise money for rescuing children from sex trafficking (supposedly)? So many mind-boggling bad ideas.

  211. Reginald Selkirk says

    Vatican confirms ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons

    The Vatican has confirmed a ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons, a centuries-old secretive society that the Catholic Church has long viewed with hostility and has an estimated global membership of up to six million.

    “Active membership in Freemasonry by a member of the faithful is prohibited, because of the irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry,” the Vatican’s doctrinal office said in a letter published by Vatican media on Wednesday…

    The Illuminati could not be reached for comment.

  212. says

    Followup to comment 276.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    GOP is consisting more and more of nothing but adult children. Narcissistic, spoiled, temper-tantrum throwing adult children.
    Well, obviously they are REAL men….you know the kind that are happy to insult others, but will throw a fit if anybody says anything criticizing them. Yeah, I remember growing up and being told that the most unmanly thing to do during a fight was a low blow, or a bite. Those actions were considered cheating.
    I have to wonder if Markwayne has been checked out for rabies
    He offered the biting comment out of a clear, blue sky; not in answer to a question, but on his own brief. He’s proud of it.
    And this raving lunatic was actually elected by the entire state of Oklahoma?!
    The Party of “I’ll punch you for hurting my feelings” has another representative who would use violence against another while declaring his Christianity.

  213. says

    I haven’t seen a public response yet but my standard replay online is that this is a social (political) confrontation and they will have to get their physical aggression out somewhere else. I either get nothing or variants on threatening to come over (from Florida? It’s only once so far) and I tell them they will get nothing physical. I’ll point other their lack of useful words and general incompetence.

    I wonder what a senator would do?

  214. says

    Ukraine Update: Zelenskyy highlights Russian losses in Avdiivka and Ukrainian advances in Kherson

    Ukraine can hardly believe its luck. Fought to a standstill in southern Ukraine, on the Zaporizhzhia front, the defenders were struggling to make gains against the deeply entrenched Russian occupiers. Vladimir Putin took stock of the situation, decided that not enough of his people were dying, and likely ordered his forces’ costly attack on Avdiivka.

    The end result? The visually confirmed equipment losses in the Zaporizhzhia counteroffensive were almost identical:

    Ukraine: 485 Russia: 490

    But here are the numbers of visually confirmed losses around Avdiivka:

    Ukraine: 16 Russia: 221

    The casualty numbers are likely even more lopsided, as suggested by the endless stream of gruesome videos of wide-open fields littered with the corpses of Russian infantrymen. Cluster munitions, in particular, are proving particularly effective at mowing down this latest round of Russian Zerg rushes. So much so, that the Battle of Bakhmut might’ve ended differently if Ukraine had access to these artillery rounds early last year.

    Yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke about this front, as well as the Ukrainian advances in Kherson.

    “Russia is already losing men and equipment near Avdiivka faster and on a larger scale than, for example, near Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy said yesterday in his nightly address. “Withstanding their pressure is extremely difficult … The more Russian forces that are destroyed near Avdiivka, the worse the overall situation will be for the enemy and the overall course of this war.”

    Bakhmut took a brutal toll on Russian occupiers, with at least 20,000 Russians killed (confirmed by then-Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin), and anywhere between 40,000 to 80,000 wounded, depending on the estimate. But Ukraine was careful to conceal the cost to its forces. It was the steady stream of Twitter and Telegram memorials that hinted at Ukraine’s high price, and toward the end, when Russian forces had the city surrounded in three directions, that casualty ratio was reportedly 1-to-1. As I’ve written before, war historians will argue for decades whether the cost was justified, particularly since there were perfectly defensible heights west of the city that would’ve presented as much of a hindrance to Russian advances, as Russian defenses in the south halted the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

    There is no moral ambiguity around Avdiivka. This is what the typical daily loss report looks like these days, with red signifying Russian losses, and blue being Ukrainian ones: [List of losses at the link]

    Per the numbers above, the equipment kill ratio is almost 14-to-1. Ukraine would be happy to keep that going, with Russia’s war machine ground down in a mildly important Ukrainian salient.

    That said, Russia has made some advances in the area, and unless Ukraine counterattacks their flanks and pushes them back, there may be a reckoning in the weeks ahead. But for now, Ukraine is happy with the Avdiivka meat grinder. [Tweet, images and video at the link]

    Imagine if Ukraine had cluster munitions during the Bakhmut battle. A Russian military instructor talks about their impact on Russia’s war effort, and how cluster munitions are even more impactful than HIMARS rocket artillery or even kamikaze drones:

    Here, in terms of the specific means of destruction available to the enemy, I would highlight three elements that radically complicate the situation: HIMARS, kamikaze drones, and the cluster shells.

    It is cluster shells that are now knocking out a huge mass of our infantry with the layering of a number of negative factors.

    The infantry suffers heavy excess losses directly on the battlefield, as a result of which the execution of combat missions is disrupted, and in addition to this there is an overstrain of evacuation logistics and an overload of the military medical infrastructure.

    The rapid depletion of infantry units, coupled with the overload of hospitals, leads to the fact that people are massively returned to the battle, primarily undertreated, and often with small damaging elements in the soft tissues not removed.

    In addition, as I said above, cluster shells have a very favorable ratio of the quantity used to the quality of fire damage inflicted on infantry.

    The general situation at the front, of course, consists of a whole complex of various factors, but weapons like these also have a significant impact on it.

    It would seem logical to ask the question: well, where is the “game change”? After all, there are no radical shifts in the front line, much less breakthroughs from the enemy! However, there aren’t any on our side either! And there is a price. Very high and sad.

    Exhausting and bleeding the enemy on the defensive, and then collapsing the front with powerful counterattacks would be an excellent plan if implemented. But in fact, along the way, we ourselves were pretty exhausted and bled dry. Here is a “game change” in which cluster shells have already played and continue to play their role.

    Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government acknowledged its Kherson advances for the first time. Speaking at the Hudson Institute, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, noted that, “Against all odds, Ukraine’s Defense Forces have gained a foothold on the left bank of the Dnipro.” In this part of Ukraine, the left bank is the southern side of the Dnipro River. […]

    On the ground, Russia has moved armor into the area to try and stop the Ukrainian advance around Krynky. Check out how well that’s going for them: [Tweet and video at the link] It’s hard to tell what hit the tank, but after the smoke clears, it looks to be in pretty good shape. Its crew certainly wasn’t sticking around to find out—they high-tailed it out of there. After some repairs, Ukraine may have itself a new tank, and one less to transport across the river. Meanwhile, geolocated video released by Russia shows that Ukraine has advanced slightly both to the west of Krynky, toward Kozachi Laheri, and to the west, toward Korsunka. [map at the link]

    As we’ve noted all week, Korsunka is the place to watch, as Ukraine’s most likely bridging location is on the riverbank northwest of the village. Ukraine must liberate it to create the breathing room for a pontoon bridge.

    In the meantime, Ukrainian FPV suicide drones are swarming all over the region, shutting down Russian logistics. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Around Avdiivka, cluster munitions might be king, but kamikaze drones rule the Kherson front.
    Russia’s continued diplomatic isolation continues.

    “For the first time, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) did not elect the Russian Federation to one of its main bodies, the Executive Board,” Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak reports.

  215. says

    Hamas agrees to tentative deal to free dozens of hostages, pending Israel’s approval.

    Washington Post link

    Hamas wants a multiday pause in fighting, increased humanitarian aid, and freedom for an unknown number of Palestinians in Israeli jails in exchange for the release of at least 50 women and children being held in Gaza.

    Hamas has agreed in principle and Israel is now considering a proposal for the release of at least 50 women and children among about 240 foreign and Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, according to an Arab diplomat familiar with the negotiations.

    In exchange for the hostages, Israel would agree to a three-to-five-day pause “in place” in the fighting, increased humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the release of an unspecified number of women and children held in Israeli prisons.

    Amid reports that agreement on at least some components of a deal may be near, U.S. officials and other interested parties spent much of Wednesday awaiting word from Israel, where internal discussions were said to be underway. President Biden, speaking Wednesday in a news conference after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said that he was “deeply involved” in negotiations over a hostage release with Israel and the government of Qatar, which is serving as a go-between for Hamas.

    “I am mildly hopeful,” Biden said. In response to a question, he said he was not considering any U.S. military involvement in rescuing the captives. Instead, Biden said he was “working on how I can be helpful in getting the hostages released and have a period of time where there’s a pause long enough to let that happen.”

    The Arab diplomat and others familiar with the talks, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity about the sensitive negotiations, cautioned that the arrangement currently under discussion could fall apart, as have others up to now. Previous proposals have outlined some of the same parameters, with different numbers of hostages involved and conditions placed on their release. The latest outline has been agreed only “in general terms,” the diplomat said.
    “We should be hearing back today,” the diplomat said. If the Israelis agree, “it’s going to happen quickly. If they reject it, then we’re at it again.”

    The hope is that agreement on a deal for the release of at least some of the captives could lead to further talks on freeing the remainder of those held in Gaza. Hamas has indicated previously that it will keep Israeli military hostages, estimated to number several dozen, apparently for use in separate exchanges for Palestinian militants held in Israeli prisons.

    The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of his war cabinet refused to comment Wednesday on a potential hostage deal.

    Speaking at a military post in southern Israel, Netanyahu said, “There’s no place in Gaza we won’t reach. There’s no hiding, no shelter, no refuge for Hamas murderers. … The hostages will be released and Hamas will be destroyed.”

    President Biden, after speaking again Tuesday with Netanyahu, told reporters about a potential hostage release that “I’ve been talking with the people involved every single day. I believe it’s going to happen.” Asked whether he had a message for families awaiting news of the captives, nine of whom are believed to be American citizens, along with one permanent U.S. resident, Biden said: “Hang in there. We’re coming.”

    […] events on the ground in Gaza have also influenced the extent of cooperation by the combatants. Israel has refused international calls to cease its offensive operations, including thousands of airstrikes on alleged Hamas facilities and fighters and a ground operation in which troops are moving block by block through the heavily populated northern part of the enclave.

    The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Wednesday calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” and the release of all hostages. The council had failed on four separate occasions to pass resolutions to stop — or at least pause — the fighting, after either the United States or Russia vetoed them as insufficient. Both countries, along with Britain, abstained on Wednesday’s vote.

    Outsiders and Western media have had only a highly restricted view of what is going on inside Gaza — although virtually everyone agrees that the war is a humanitarian disaster for civilians. In recent days, Israeli forces have moved to encircle al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, which the Israel Defense Forces and the United States claim is used by Hamas as a key command and control military facility and arms depot.

    Israel says it is taking great care to avoid harm to patients and other civilians, while the United States has repeatedly cautioned that hospitals should not come under attack. Gazans and local health-care workers have said that critically and chronically injured civilians are dying as Israeli attacks intensify.

    Hamas has told negotiators that it does not have control, or know the location, of all of the hostages — some of whom it says are being held by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group inside Gaza. U.S. officials have said that a “significant” pause of several days is necessary to assemble hostages to be released and arrange for their safe passage.

    Israel has so far agreed only to several hours a day of “safe passage” along two major roads for civilians to travel south from northern Gaza, where combat is focused, and in certain neighborhoods to enable delivery of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations and the Palestine Red Crescent Society have said that they have been unable to deliver any aid to the north for more than a week.

    […] An IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, told CNN early Wednesday that “this mission” at Shifa “wasn’t focused on hostages. We were focusing on bringing intelligence and dismantling certain capabilities that we had intelligence on. It was something that was very, very focused and we went in a very sort of cautious way into the hospital.” More information, Hecht said, would be “coming out on what we found.” […]

  216. says

    Biden and Xi agree to restore military ties, helping ease tensions

    The two leaders agreed to restore military-to-military communications and sought to cool U.S.-China tensions

    SAN FRANCISCO — President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on Wednesday to restore communications between their two countries’ militaries after they met face-to-face for the first time in a year, lowering tensions between the two superpowers at a time when the White House is struggling to manage two wars in Europe and the Middle East.

    The agreement aims to reestablish key military channels more than a year after Beijing severed them in a burst of anger over then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022. Biden and Xi also agreed to strengthen counternarcotics cooperation in the hopes of lessening the United States’ fentanyl crisis. Though modest in scope, the two agreements are a rare sign of cooperation between the world’s two most powerful countries, which have been at odds over trade, cyber- and maritime security, human rights, and a range of other pressing issues.

    “Miscalculations on either side can or can cause real, real trouble with a country like China or any other major country,” Biden said at a news conference after meeting with Xi. “He and I agreed that each one of us could pick up the phone call directly, would be heard immediately.”

    […] The United States and China also agreed to restart climate talks after a years-long pause and to address the flow of precursor chemicals from China that are used to manufacture illicit fentanyl.

    Biden and Xi struck a markedly warmer tone after the meeting than they did after their last meeting a year ago. Both leaders seemed eager to defuse tensions in the relationship as they grapple with domestic and global challenges.

    Xi after the meeting Wednesday called U.S.-China ties the most important bilateral relationship in the world, according to a readout from state news outlet Xinhua, adding that the two countries should set an example of cooperation between major powers.

    […] Xi, through an interpreter, said the United States and China had a responsibility to work together despite the challenges in the relationship. […]

  217. John Morales says

    Source first, then author, StevoR.

    Were someone a simpleton, they might imagin your cited source as the origin of the story, instead of the credited reporter for the story you cited.

    Specifically, it cites the “latest NOAA monthly diagnostic report” as its source.

    (A bit lazy to go to MSM for such types of news, IMO)

  218. Silentbob says

    @ 285 StevoR

    There’s nothing wrong with your citation, you’re being bullied by an idiot troll.

  219. KG says

    Vicar, Morales, MacKenzie, KG, et al supra – y’all can’t all be missing the greater context (about Biden/Israel etc) by ignorance, can you? Biden not only sucked up to Israel’s emotional response, he tried to temper it by very cogent and relevant reminders of the US’s strategic blunders after 9/11 – perhaps the only way to get them to listen (though it doesn’t seem to have worked with the majority of public or politicians) – Pierce R. Butler@254

    Crap. The way to get the Israeli government to listen is to say that if they don’t call an immediate ceasefire, American arms supplies, funding, and diplomatic support, will cease forthwith. The USA is in a position to do that and it wouldn’t even be politically costly in domestic terms, although of course in such a clear case of genocidal intent that shuold not be a consideration.

  220. John Morales says

    Ah, right, KG. Ta.

    Pierce R. Butler@254:
    Me on 26 October 2023 on this very blog:
    See, what I think is that the USA is being a moderating influence on the degree of collective punishment Palestinian people are suffering.

    Either Israel holds back a bit (as now), or the billions of dollars in aid might be held back.”

    Silentbob, heh. If you think so, surely it must be so. For you.

  221. Reginald Selkirk says

    Global decline in male fertility linked to common pesticides

    A prolonged decline in male fertility in the form of sperm concentrations appears to be connected to the use of pesticides, according to a study published Wednesday.

    Researchers compiled, rated and reviewed the results of 25 studies of certain pesticides and male fertility and found that men who had been exposed to certain classes of pesticides had significantly lower sperm concentrations. The study, published Wednesday in Environmental Health Perspectives, included data from more than 1,700 men and spanned several decades…

    The new analysis focuses on two groups of chemicals — organophosphates and some carbamates — that are commonly used in insecticides. The researchers looked at data collected from groups of people with exposures to pesticides and others who were not. Most, but not all, of the research centered on exposures in the workplace. The researchers controlled for outside factors that could contribute to lower sperm counts like smoking and age. ..

  222. Akira MacKenzie says

    The way to get the Israeli government to listen is to say that if they don’t call an immediate ceasefire, American arms supplies, funding, and diplomatic support, will cease forthwith.

    I would be more than happy with that. I just want to see SOMEONE with political power stand up to these bullies and win.

  223. says

    “For decades, mothers have borne the brunt of scrutiny for alcohol use during pregnancy − new research points to dad’s drinking as a significant factor in fetal alcohol syndrome”
    Epigenetics implicated in dad overdrinking.

  224. lumipuna says

    Re 251: Aaand here we go

    The Finnish prime minister, Petteri Orpo, said on Thursday that four of nine crossing points on the 830-mile border would be closed on Friday night in response to a rise in the number of refugees and migrants.

    Specifically, that’s all crossing points in the southern part of the border, where most of the traffic normally occurs. Until now, the asylum seekers have been guided along the fastest highway route via Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vyborg to the border of southeastern Finland.

    It’s not very clear what good the partial border closure is supposed to do, since the asylum seekers can be easily diverted further north, where (as of now) four border stations will remain open, and two of them will remain open for asylum applications. Meanwhile, closing the border entirely would be very difficult in practical and humanitarian terms.

    Since Finland’s Nato accession earlier this year, tensions between the two countries have become increasingly strained.

    That has been actually going on since 2014, as a result of the escalating Russian aggression on Ukraine, with a notable uptick in early 2022.

    Russian border guards usually stop people without valid EU visas from crossing into Finland. But on Wednesday Niinistö said he believed Russia had started guiding asylum seekers towards Finnish crossing points in retaliation for Helsinki’s plans to sign a defence cooperation agreement with Washington.

    The border guard authority said that as of 6pm local time, 74 asylum seekers had arrived at the border in south-east Finland on Wednesday. On Tuesday the number was 55 and on Monday it was 39.

    Since Wednesday evening, there are reports that Russian security forces are already blocking entry to the southernmost border crossings, and have begun shuttling asylum seekers further north. This was apprently in anticipation that at least the southernmost crossings would be likely closed, which was only announced today. It is highly unclear what will happen next. BTW, the temperatures up north are currently about 10-20 C below freezing.

    [The Guardian quotes the usual Kremlin gremlins Maria Zakharova, denying any Russian government involvement in this, and Dmitri Peskov, giving the same stock comment he always gives on anything about Finland these days, blaming Finns on the ruined “good bilateral relations”]

    Earlier this month, the border guard authority banned people from crossing the border by bike in reaction to “foreigners travelling from Russia to Finland by bicycle, without adequate travel documents for entering the Schengen area”.

    For context, many of the asylum seekers have been traveling on bicycles because it’s cheaper to get a disposable bike than a disposable car. There are no walking lanes on any of the cross-border roads because walking would be generally impractical due to long distances between settlements. The bike ban was a futile bureaucratic attempt to make travel more difficult for the asylum seekers – it has no effect since the Russian border officials have apparently quit participating in the joint enforcement of travel regulations.

    Finland adopted legislation last year that would allow crossing points to stop receiving asylum applications in the event of mass immigration orchestrated by another country.

    That legislation was prompted by the very similar situation between Poland/Lithuania and Belarus in late 2021. Naturally, now our new right wing government is trying to take credit for it.

    Jussi Laine, a border studies professor at the University of Eastern Finland, said Helsinki was overreacting to a Russian attempt to exert pressure, which was just what Moscow wanted.

    Laine said: “This is hybrid-influencing machined by Russia and a key element in it is to create havoc and panic. If this is what they are aiming at, I would say they got it with very little effort.”

    The Finnish Refugee Council said the right to seek refuge should be respected, regardless of where applicants came from or how they accessed the border.

  225. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia’s 6th Air Force Army commander found dead under suspicious circumstances

    Lieutenant General Vladimir Sviridov, former commander of the 6th Air Force and Air Defense Forces Army of the Russian Federation, has been found dead in his home in the Stavropol Krai.

    Source: Latvia-based Russian media outlet Meduza, citing Baza Telegram channel; Kremlin-aligned news agency RIA Novosti and Kommersant media

    Details: A source of RIA Novosti says that the body of a woman was found next to Sviridov, her identity is being determined. Baza and Kommersant claim that it is the general’s wife…

  226. says

    lumipuna @293, thanks for the update.

    This text excerpt from your post presents some reasonable conclusions:

    Jussi Laine, a border studies professor at the University of Eastern Finland, said Helsinki was overreacting to a Russian attempt to exert pressure, which was just what Moscow wanted.

    Laine said: “This is hybrid-influencing machined by Russia and a key element in it is to create havoc and panic. If this is what they are aiming at, I would say they got it with very little effort.”

    The Finnish Refugee Council said the right to seek refuge should be respected, regardless of where applicants came from or how they accessed the border.

    BTW, I immediately thought about the cold weather at the northern border crossings. It seems especially cruel to funnel the asylum seekers to the north.

  227. says

    That “laddered CR”? A surprise switcheroo—Mike Johnson’s GOP got played, lost EVERYTHING they wanted

    […] laddering was a bad-faith attempt to trick supposedly desperate and meek Democrats into giving up all leverage and a generally solid position once the stop-gap CR expires in mere weeks. Instead, we got a near unassailable negotiating position for next round of budgeting in January and February, the very opposite of what Speaker Johnson and the House GOP thought they were getting and the whole point of their Machiavellian laddering scheme.

    […] How did this happen? In the final draft of the CR that passed the House yesterday, the rungs of the ladder got switched around to completely undermine the calendar that Johnson and the Freedumb Caucus had planned for which departments have to get funded by which dates—and they utterly lost what had been planned as a massive GOP advantage in agency funding priorities come January 2024.

    […] Pressure to approve a half-CR by Jan. 19 would overwhelmingly favor GOP-supported agencies as well as made sure that our troops got paid that date, taking this critical bargaining chip off the table to get the Feb. 2 Group 2 agencies funded. […] That’s why Johnson and the Freedumb Caucus structured the laddering like they did, to make sure DoD (and other key levers for their side like Border Patrol and rural giveaways) all got piled in Group 1.

    […] And the Machiavellian nature of the Freedumb Caucus plan goes well beyond that. The funds of those social services agencies [in the Feb. Group 2 pile] play a very important part in the US economy, more than usually realized, so the austerity would lead to a sudden collapse in economic activity for a huge sector of the country, deep recession and job loss […] and Trump and his neo-fascists waltzing back into the White House after Nov. 2024. Game over for American democracy.

    That’s why it looked so bizarre to us that Dems seemed to be rushing the laddered bill through the House, as its original form was not a “compromise” at all for us but a total capitulation […]

    But then a very funny thing happened to Mike Johnson and the Freedumb Caucus’s laddering calendar—the drafts got switched out, and agency funding dates completely reshuffled at the last minute. […] Speaker Johnson, House leadership and the Freedumb Caucus made sure the draft for roll call was the one based off their original calendar, with DoD and Border Patrol stuffed in Group 1, and social services agencies all shoved into Group 2, where they could be axed in February after Dems would lose almost all our negotiating leverage after Jan. 19.

    Or so they thought. One of the eagle-eyed members of our little hive mind with Congressional staffing experience, spotted something unusual going on with the proceedings around mid-afternoon yesterday on Tuesday Nov. 14 […]:

    Under the CR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, Energy and Water, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation Housing and Urban Development are on the January 19 expiration date.

    The February date is for Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services, Homeland Security Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, State and Foreign Operations.

    That’s right—by mid-afternoon yesterday on Tuesday as the laddered CR approached roll call, the drafts had somehow been swapped around and in the one that got voted on, the funding calendar in the laddering had been switched out, with the two most critical GOP agency priorities—military funding and Border Patrol—both shifted over into Group 2 from Group 1 […] the GOP has been “zugzwanged” instead, forced to drop its austerity demands and concede full funding for the social service agencies they hate most by the Feb. 2 deadline. If they don’t, then it also means a shutdown for the military and delayed payments to troops—the scenario they feared most […] Around this same time, the Freedumb Caucus went on a frantic scramble and phones began ringing off the hook in the offices of Republican staffers, as apparently someone in the caucus did spot the change at the last minute.

    […] But obviously, not soon enough[…] the change went right over Mike Johnson’s head, and he wound up introducing a laddered CR that did the total opposite of what he and the Freedumb Caucus had in mind. […] it seems that through a combination of clever distraction, flattery (and Mike Johnson in general being an inattentive dumbass), he and House Leadership got tricked […]

    From the enraged frothing in the media and socials that our MAGA relatives (to our own dismay alas) pay attention to, there’s white-hot angry demands to uncover “the mole”, “the traitor”, “the Judas backstabber” (various names for whoever it is), apparently within the staff of one of the GOP members (possibly even a Freedumb Caucus member, to make the irony even more delicious) who slipped in the Trojan horse. […]

    Moron Mike Johnson went into roll call thinking he had Democrats over a barrel, and while he wanted our votes, he thought he was laying a perfect trap. […] to shift the negotiating leverage decisively in the Republicans’ favor in January and February 2024 […] He was apparently so arrogant and convinced he’d beaten us that he was horrified when the truth came out. […]

    it was Democrats who just tricked, played and utterly humiliated Mike Johnson and the Republican Party, with some of the most skilled and necessary ruthless political gamesmanship in a decade. It’s exactly the kind of tough but necessary “take-no-prisoners” style of political fighting that we need to take down the dangerous neo-fascist GOP […]

    […] things have changed fundamentally. Democrats now have a spine and fight tooth and nail in negotiations, and don’t hesitate to be ruthless enough to cut off the Republicans at their knees. […]

    It isn’t just in the budget negotiations—we’re seeing that sea change and tougher negotiating with the military aid bill now being discussed for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza civilians and the border. […] it’s important to bring about a true compromise that provides the aid to hurt Putin more, despite the pathetic attempts by some House Republicans to save him. […]

    […] The social, demographic, cultural, urban and administrative changes in America now are unstoppable, and the old Anglo oligarchy and Sarah Palin’s “real Americans” will never have the power they used to have in “their” settler colony. And it drives them crazy.

    It’s why almost every other issue pales to background for the Republican base, compared to the border. […]

    Democratic officials as well as Biden, Harris and Jeffries themselves were sure paying attention, and it’s why they’ve smartly structured the military assistance bill as they have, making sure to include extra border funding and immigration screening as a tantalizer for Republicans. […]

    So by contrast to so many of the supposedly glum narratives in the media, we’re more confident than we’ve been in decades about Democratic strength going into 2024. A big part of that is that our elected officials are finally embracing their own strength and the popularity of our policies, and using that to stiffen their spines in negotiations to fight hard, even ruthlessly. […]

    More at the link, including an historical roundup of how Democrats have failed to negotiate well in the past, and how Democrats failed to be ruthless in the past.

  228. says

    A followup, of sorts, to comment 276.

    More Republican Congresspersons behaving like uninformed trolls, this time while quizzing FBI Director Chris Wray in a congressional hearing yesterday:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene: I posted them on my Twitter account

    FBI Director Chris Wray: I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter

    Marjorie Taylor Greene: I’m sure you do because the DHS organized with other offices and censored people like myself

    FBI Director Chris Wray: I’m not part of the DHS

  229. says

    How Money Flowed From Moscow to the Seychelles to Belize to Scotland to a GOP Lobbyist

    Mother Jones uncovered a bizarre scheme that rocked Albanian politics. Now there’s more to the story.

    Five years ago, Mother Jones broke a wild story: A mysterious Scotland-based shell company had paid a GOP-linked American lobbyist to help a presidential candidate in Albania court support from the Trump administration—and the money was apparently tied to Russia. Now a new piece of the puzzle has materialized.

    In 2017, Nick Muzin—a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) who became a well-connected and highly paid lobbyist—reported in filings with the Justice Department that he had been hired to win backing in the United States for Lulzim Basha, the head of the center-right Democratic Party of Albania (DPA), who was then challenging the incumbent prime minister of Albania. There was nothing unusual about a DC-based influence peddler being retained by a foreign politician. But a $150,000 payment for Muzin’s services had come from a bizarre source: Biniatta Trade LP, a shell company registered in Scotland by two other shell companies based in Belize.

    Biniatta Trade had a convoluted chain of corporate relationships. Those based-in-Belize companies were listed in corporate filings as officers of yet two other firms, and those two companies were controlled by Russian nationals. Moreover, there was no public sign that Biniatta Trade did anything. Its website, registered by a resident of Odessa, Ukraine, was comprised of stock images and boilerplate language. The British phone number it listed did not work. It appeared to be a front. We couldn’t tell for who or for what. But the corporate links tracked back to Russia.

    The story—a strong indicator that a person or entity in Russia was using an American lobbyist to influence an election in Albania—generated front-page headlines in Albania. The possibility of secret Russian intervention made sense. Basha’s party opposed the government led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, who had been steering Albania into the European Union and warning of the rise of Russian influence in the Balkans. Moscow certainly had an interest in Basha ousting Rama.

    The DPA denounced the article and Mother Jones, claiming the piece was part of a conspiracy involving billionaire philanthropist George Soros. [LOL] Eventually, Albanian prosecutors charged Basha with money laundering and falsifying documents in connection with the matter. That prosecution was later suspended. The controversy oddly came up in the case of Charles McGonigal, the former head of the FBI counterintelligence division in New York who pleaded guilty in September to crimes that included accepting a $225,000 loan from a Rama ally and then ordering up an FBI investigation of US lobbying efforts conducted on behalf of Basha. [Same New York FBI field office that kept showing up as anti-Hillary-Clinton during the presidential race.]

    Last year, a State Department report offered a strong suggestion that the Biniatta Trade payment to Muzin was part of an international clandestine Russian influence operation. In a summary of a US intelligence review, the department said that the Kremlin since 2014 had slipped at least $300 million to political parties and politicians outside Russia “to shape foreign political environments in Moscow’s favor.” […]

    “Our concern over Russia’s activity in this regard is not with any one country, but global in nature as we continue to face challenges against democratic societies.”

    […] Earlier this month, a team of investigative reporters at the BBC, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation, and Finance Uncovered solved part of the mystery. They discovered that the Scottish shell company that paid for Muzin’s lobbying in the US for Basha was owned by a Moscow resident.

    These journalists are part of an international consortium that has been plowing through the Pandora Papers, a massive trove of leaked files from more than a dozen corporate services firms—companies that create and administer offshore firms that help high-wealth clients move and hide money. Though first revealed in 2021, the papers, which include almost 12 million files, are still spilling secrets.

    […] Alpha Consulting. That firm, based in the Seychelles and owned by a Russia citizen named Victoria Valkovskaya, sets up secretive offshore companies for its clients, many in the former Soviet Union, reportedly including members of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

    […] After Mother Jones’ report on Biniatta appeared in March 2018, Valkovskaya moved to rejigger Biniatta’s complex ownership. She switched control of the company to firms located in the Marshall Islands. Those Marshall Islands firms were run by a foundation controlled by five directors, all Seychelles citizens. In an email to associates, cited by Finance Undercover and the other outlets, Valkovskaya wrote that the owner of Biniatta was “a private Seychelles foundation, in which there are five councillors,” and, thus, there was no need “to declare a controlling person” to regulators.

    The newly discovered documents reveal that a Moscow helicopter salesman was running a Scottish shell company that was paying for lobbying in the United States to help an Albanian party that was challenging a government headed by a prime minister opposed to Putin. [What a rat’s nest! These political influence campaigns that trace back ultimately to Putin are everywhere.]

    […] This new information unearthed from the Pandora Papers is more proof that the payment Muzin received was linked to a Russian influence project. This particular operation was part of that larger clandestine effort that included Russia’s successful attempt to help Trump win the White House in 2016. As Trump and his allies keep insisting that Russian interference was all a hoax, evidence to the contrary keeps emerging.

  230. says

    […] On Wednesday, NPR reported that the speaker [Mike Johnson] has ties to the New Apostolic Reformation, an extreme far-right Christian movement seeking to dissolve the US’s separation between church and state by “any means necessary.” Johnson reportedly has fostered relationships with several NAR leaders, including Pastor Jim Garlow, who has hosted online prayer sessions for “U.S. election integrity”

    “I’m so grateful for the ministry and your faithfulness,” said Johnson during an August interview on Garlow’s radio show. “It’s a great encouragement to me and others who are serving in these sometimes rocky corners of the Lord’s vineyard.” But, the NAR isn’t your average conservative Christian cohort. Unlike other believers, they have wholeheartedly embraced and led an effort to spread Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election results. As my former colleague, Emily Hofstaedter, wrote:

    NAR adherents share goals with other conservative Christians—outlawing abortion, fighting marriage equality—and were especially instrumental in the movement to keep a defeated Trump in power. In his audio documentary Charismatic Revival Fury, Matthew Taylor, a scholar at Baltimore’s Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies, explains how 15 charismatic leaders met with high-level Trump administration officials in the lead-up to January 6 to discuss “spiritual warfare strategies”; of the six protest permits issued that day, four went to NAR-affiliated charismatic church groups. “A lot of NAR people just embrace the Big Lie,” says [André] Gagné, propelled by the claims of their prophets: “‘It’s not true, and God showed us.’”

    Johnson’s bonds with this movement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s even faintly familiar with his rhetoric. The Louisiana legislator has spent nearly two decades trying to cram religion into secular spaces under the guise of “religious freedom,” with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a powerful conservative organization where he spent years as a spokesperson and an attorney.


  231. says

    Telecommunication companies in Gaza announced a complete blackout of their services Thursday due to dwindling fuel supply, marking the latest development in an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region.

    Jawwal and Paltel, two Palestinian telecommunications providers, announced Thursday that all telecom services in the Gaza Strip have gone out of service because the energy sources fueling the networks have been “depleted.” They both cited the prevention of fuel into Gaza as reason for the blackout. […]


  232. says

    Elon Musk is an impressive business guy. In the space of a year, he turned Xwitter from a sometimes-annoying but vital source of information and community-building into an antisemitic dumpster fire in the middle of a racist tire fire atop a shit-encrusted mountain of misinformation and conspiracy theories — all while losing money at it, too.

    Wednesday night, the techno wunderscheißhaufen poured gasoline on one of those fires, boosting a vile antisemitic tweet that echoed the deadly rhetoric behind multiple mass shootings by white supremacists. But he later said he didn’t mean to do antisemitism to all Jews, just the ADL and a lot of others, so no harm, no foul stench, and advertisers will surely not be further put off spending money at Xwitter, right?

    The latest Musk endorsement of the unspeakable came after a conservative Jewish user retweeted an ADL public service ad showing a dad telling his teenaged kid why “Hitler was right” is not acceptable under any circumstances — not even if you mean the Autobahn, since it was started during the Weimar Republic […]

    Since neo-Nazis are welcome now on the Xittpile, a white-supremacist account replied with the classic antisemitic trope that antisemitism is caused by Jews, and by the minorities that Jews keep bringing to America to do Great Replacement to white people:

    Jewish commun[i]ties have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.

    I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that [they] support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.

    You want truth said to your face, there it is.

    It’s the same old shit that you used to find only in the disreputable corners of the internet, or still do, because Twitter is no longer reputable.

    Musk somehow saw the creepy thing and replied, “You have said the actual truth.” (The tweet is still up, and has 29,000 “likes.” That’s the digital public square Musk wanted.)

    As the Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg points out, the bullshit conspiracy belief that The Jews are promoting migration of scary nonwhite people was cited by the mass shooter at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, as well as by the murderers in El Paso and Buffalo, New York.

    Musk went on to “clarify” that he only meant the ADL, because he only thinks some Jews are poisoning America and scaring advertisers away from his platform, where antisemitic talk is now common. Silly advertisers!

    Nope, no antisemitism here, because he’s just pointing out that the ADL coddles minority groups that are a threat to “the West”:

    The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel.

    This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat.

    It is not right and needs to stop.

    If only the ADL would be more racist, then maybe there’d be less antisemitism, said the antisemite.

    [Correct analysis, and LOL for the phrasing.]

    Then, in reply to another tweet, Musk explained that in fact he thinks that the ADL is a pretty terrible bunch of West-destroying Jews, but that they’re not alone.

    You right that this does not extend to all Jewish communities, but it is also not just limited to ADL

    Was there more? It’s Elon Musk, there’s no bottom:

    “And, at the risk of being repetitive, I am deeply offended by the ADL’s messaging and any other groups who push de facto anti-white racism or anti-Asian racism or racism of any kind. I’m sick of it. Stop now.”

    To the surprise of no one, Vice reports, Musk’s hatred was a big hit with antisemites and neo-Nazis [No surprise there !!!]:

    “Heil Elon Hail our people” one verified X user replied, gaining nearly 1,500 likes. The same user quote-tweeted Musk’s comment with an image of his face superimposed over Hitler’s while giving a Nazi salute. “Sieg Heil @elonmusk Defendor [sic] of the West and its Race!” wrote another user in reply. “Absolutely correct” another user said, and included a video of far-right figure and vocal Hitler fan Nick Fuentes railing against “Jewish people” on the Left and Right and the ADL for “brow-beating us about having a white identity,” an argument that closely aligns with Musk’s own. “Thank you, Elon! Jews flood our nations with foreigners and teach them to hate us,” wrote another user with the handle “Based AF.”

    So yep, it’s another fine day to consider doing social media at another platform. I have four BlueSky invitation codes to give to the first four Wonkette readers who email me at doktorzoom at-sign wonkette dot-or-period com, so there’s a start, good god this country.


  233. says

    Washington Post link

    […] This piece includes never-before-released pictures taken by law enforcement officials after shootings inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., in 2022, and the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., in 2017, that were obtained by The Post. It is also based on Post interviews with survivors and first responders from multiple shootings as well as transcripts of official testimony provided by law enforcement officials who were among the first to witness the carnage. Read a note here from the executive editor about how The Post decided what to publish and why.

    The review lays bare how the AR-15, a weapon that has soared in popularity over the past two decades as a beloved tool for hunting, target practice and self-defense, has also given assailants the power to instantly turn everyday American gathering places into zones of gruesome violence.

    This is an oral history told in three parts that follows the chronological order of a typical AR-15 mass shooting. It weaves together pictures, videos and the recollections of people who endured different tragedies but have similar stories to tell. […]

    All the trigger warnings.

  234. says

    I’m considering “fashy fit” for some of these threats to come fight instead of acknowledging a political challenge.
    The situation with Mullen and O’Brian has elements of that. The economic aspects have me thinking of other things too.

  235. says

    Reginald @304, I think Republicans will kick him out now. The ethics report is all the “due process” they need, and that report is damning.

    Brony @306, and interesting detail from that almost-fisticuffs moment: Markwayne Mullin reached to remove his wedding ring as part of the preparation to fight. Apparently, he approves biting (if he does the biting), but not rings. The whole farce is very performative.

  236. says

    Summary of some news from Gaza:

    Israeli forces remained inside Al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s main hospital after storming it for a second time in 24 hours, Israeli officials say. According to Palestinian reports, the Israel Defense Forces conducted a second raid on the hospital.

    The IDF says it discovered AK-47s, hand grenades, military uniforms and a laptop with a photo of a kidnapped Israeli soldier on it in the hospital.

    Yehudit Weiss, a hostage abducted from her home by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack, was found dead in a structure “adjacent” to Al-Shifa Hospital, the IDF said in a statement today.

    Video shared after yesterday’s raid does not appear to show definitive evidence that a Hamas command center exists beneath the hospital, a claim that Israeli officials have repeatedly made and Hamas and doctors at the hospital have forcefully denied.

    President Joe Biden has said that he didn’t believe the Israel-Hamas war would end “until there’s a two-state solution.” The remark came after he was asked about setting a deadline around U.S. support for Israel in the conflict.

    Three gunmen opened fire at a crossing in Jerusalem, injuring seven people before they were shot dead by officers, police said today. Israeli officials also said they were opening an investigation into crimes committed during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, including allegations of sexual violence.

    More than 1.6 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and health officials there say more than 11,200 have been killed. Israel estimates 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas terrorist attack Oct. 7, with 239 people still held hostage in Gaza.


  237. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Osama bin Laden’s ‘Letter to America’ goes viral 21 years later—on TikTok

    young TikTokers […] sharing the letter approvingly, encouraging followers to read it. […] a spokesperson for the platform said: “Content promoting this letter clearly violates our rules on supporting any form of terrorism. We are proactively and aggressively removing this content[“]
    it denounces the U.S. for helping to establish and maintain a Jewish state in the Palestinian territories. […] going on to impugn Western imperialism and hegemony in broader terms, before shifting into a justification for killing [American] civilians […] the letter is also interspersed with antisemitic tropes and hate speech.

    He repeatedly wrote that the country was dominated by Jews who “control your policies, media and economy,” elsewhere condemning homosexuality and fornication as “immoral,” and accusing the U.S. of spreading AIDS, which he termed a “Satanic American Invention.”
    The Guardian, which published it in 2002 […] replaced it with a brief message: [revised after this article to say “we decided to take it down and direct readers instead to the news article that originally contextualised it.”]

    Archived letter

    TheGuardian – Osama issues new call to arms (2002)

    Although there is no way to confirm the authenticity […] senior Arab journalists in the Middle Eastern media believe the letter is from bin Laden.

    Censorship is counterproductive. Hagiographic praise is reckless at best. Such things need to be shared in a critical context that disarms pernicious hate tropes.

  238. says

    ‘High Roller’: Bombshells From Santos Report Include Imaginary Maserati, Spending Sprees On Casinos, ‘Botox’ And OnlyFans

    Scared staffers urged Santos to ‘seek treatment’ as he lived the luxe life despite negative bank balances.

    The House Ethics committee report on Rep. George Santos (R-NY) that was released on Thursday is quite a read. Investigators from the committee compiled over 170,000 pages of documents and testimony from witnesses, including members of Santos’ campaign team and congressional staff. They concluded that Santos was at the center of a “complex web of unlawful activity” as he “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.” The report describes Santos spinning through various alleged schemes and lies as he obtained funds for everything from casino trips to cosmetic procedures, while dealing with personal credit card debt and negative bank balances.

    Santos responded to the stunning report on the site formerly known as Twitter where he called it a “disgusting politicized smear” and announced he would not run for re-election next year “as my family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time.” […]

    TPM was first to report on some of the core allegations in the report including the committee’s focus on a supposed consulting firm Santos set up to work with other campaigns and allegations he charged donors’ credit cards without authorization. House investigators were clear that they did not look into some areas — including the credit card scheme — to avoid conflicting with an ongoing federal criminal investigation that has already led to charges against Santos and his former campaign treasurer. The committee also stopped short of recommending Santos’ expulsion or beginning formal procedures for a sanction. Nevertheless, citing the fact that the case was “unprecedented in many respects,” the investigators recommended referring their findings to the DOJ and making them public.

    The resulting report will surely provide ammunition to the members of Congress — including some of Santos’ fellow Republicans — who have been pushing for him to be expelled. It also provides a scintillating read.

    We already knew a ton about Santos’ corruption, but there is so much more. Here are some of the wildest revelations from the House Ethics Committee report.

    An ‘Untouchable’ Treasurer And Questionable Transactions

    As he has faced criminal charges and public scrutiny for the alleged financial improprieties in his election operation, Santos has tried to lay blame elsewhere. Namely, he has pointed the finger at his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, who pleaded guilty last month to charges related to her work on his team. However, House investigators rejected this defense and said “he was a knowing and active participant in the misconduct.” Specifically, the report said Santos “had login credentials to access the campaign’s bank accounts online” and that he responded to staffers who raised concerns about Marks by saying she was “untouchable.” The report also detailed how money from the campaign flowed directly into accounts controlled by Santos where it was used for, among other things, “about $6,000 worth of purchases at Ferragamo stores,” cash withdrawals at casinos and ATMs near Santos’ home, and paying Santos’ rent.

    Worried Staff Wanted Santos To ‘Seek Treatment’
    […] “members of Representative Santos’ own campaign staff viewed him as a ‘fabulist,’ whose penchant for telling lies was so concerning that he was encouraged to seek treatment.” […]

    ‘Definitely A High Roller’
    The investigators noted Santos’s campaign “incurred significant travel expenses for flights, hotels, Ubers, and meals” and revealed how many of these charges lined up with his recreational activity rather than political events. […]

    Following The Money
    Several complex cash flows were tracked by the House Ethics Committee investigators. Some of the criminal charges against Santos relate to loans he reported giving to his campaign when he did not actually have the funds. Those allegedly fraudulent loans helped Santos receive funding and logistical support from Republican Party organizations. According to the committee, Santos also had his campaign pay him back “for four campaign loans, totaling $29,200, that were not made.”

    [,,,] a consulting firm connected to Santos that worked for the campaign of far-right congressional hopeful Tina Forte was a major focus of the House Ethics Committee investigation. Santos and his associates collected substantial sums from Forte and other local Republican candidates after he allegedly directed other aspiring politicians to firms without disclosing his own connections to them. The House Ethics Committee report described how one of these consulting firms, RedStone, subsequently deposited “at least $200,000” in Santos’ personal accounts and how some of that money was used “to, among other things: pay down personal credit card bills and other debt; make a $4,127.80 purchase at Hermes; and for smaller purchases at Only Fans; Sephora; and for meals and for parking.”

    Messy Personal Finances
    While Santos was supposedly making huge loans to his campaign, committee investigators found that many of his personal bank accounts were actually in the red with negative balances, amid his alleged spending on casino trips, cosmetic procedures, and luxury goods. […]

    The Imaginary Sports Car
    Shortly after his election last year, Santos ended up making headlines due to revelations he lied about many aspects of the made up stories he told on the campaign trail. He made it to Congress after telling an incredible tale that positioned him as a descendant of Holocaust survivors who managed to become a wealthy financier. None of that was true and, while he has denied criminal wrongdoing, Santos has admitted he “lied.”

    Multiple investigations into Santos and much of the testimony from people in his orbit who have talked to investigators and to TPM have indicated that he was intent on bolstering the false perception of wealth. Investigators from the Ethics Committee found further indications of Santos’ frantic efforts to convince the world he was a man of means, including false claims that he owned multiple properties and a luxury car. The report summed up that last fantasy in a single, brutal sentence: “At no point does Representative Santos appear to have owned a Maserati, despite telling campaign staff otherwise.”

    I snipped a lot of details. Basically, all of the details add up to this: Santos is a bullshitter who lies about everything all the time; and who lies to everyone, friend and foe alike.

  239. Pierce R. Butler says

    KG @ # 288: The USA is in a position to do that … & John Morales @ # 289: Either Israel holds back a bit (as now), or the billions of dollars in aid might be held back.

    Congress is in a position to do that, by telling the Israel lobby to take a flying leap (or even a deep breath). Without that, Joe Biden is not in such a position, and has – particularly while trying to repair institutional damage by his predecessor – very little leverage to do more than he has. Blocking the flow of materiel or money, or sending the fleet(s) back to Italy, would only produce a domestic political struggle of no advantage to Palestinian civilians, Israeli peaceniks, or humanitarian crises in general.

    The I-lobby’s power has several footings, including money, elected officials in key positions, support from the hyperchristian and weapons lobbies, institutional inertia, and political mystique. Sfaict, only a gigantic blunder, an outrageous exposé, and/or a massive grassroots backlash could weaken it, and none of those show up on my radar (the backlash a little, but hobbled by the inevitable antisemitic involvement that repels the rest of us; clearly Netanyahu’s blunders & exposures come nowhere near making a significant difference).

  240. says

    New York judge lifts gag order that barred Donald Trump from maligning court staff in fraud trial

    A gag order that barred Donald Trump from commenting about court personnel in his New York civil fraud trial after he maligned a key staffer was paused Thursday by an appellate judge who raised concerns that it violated the former president’s free speech rights.

    Judge David Friedman, of the state’s intermediate appeals court, issued what’s known a stay — suspending the gag order and allowing Trump to freely comment about court staff while a longer appeals process plays out. Friedman’s ruling also applies to Trump’s lawyers and others involved in the case.

    The trial judge, Arthur Engoron, imposed the gag order on Trump after the former president made a disparaging social media post about Engoron’s court clerk on trial’s second day, Oct. 2. Engoron later fined Trump $15,000 for violations and expanded the order to include his lawyers after they questioned the clerk’s prominent role in the courtroom.

    Friedman questioned Engoron’s authority to police Trump’s speech outside the courtroom […] He acknowledged that judges often issue gag orders, but said they’re mostly used in criminal cases where there’s a fear that comments about the case could influence the jury.

    Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Engoron late Wednesday challenging the gag order as an abuse of power. Friedman scheduled an emergency hearing Thursday afternoon around a conference table in a state appellate courthouse a couple of miles from where the trial is unfolding.

    Trump attorney Alina Habba indicated after Friedman ruled that she has no plans to advise the former president to stay quiet about the clerk.

    “I don’t see a reason for restrictions because Ms. James is continuing to disparage my client,” said Habba, referring to New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is prosecuting the case. Habba added that Trump hasn’t threatened the clerk’s safety.

    […] Trump and his lawyers have repeatedly put the law clerk, Allison Greenfield, under a microscope during the trial. They contend that the former Democratic judicial candidate is a partisan voice in Judge Arthur Engoron’s ear — though he also is a Democrat — and that she is playing too big a role in the case involving the former Republican president.

    Engoron has responded by defending her role in the courtroom, ordering participants in the trial not to comment on court staffers and fining Trump a total of $15,000 for what the judge deemed violations. Engoron went on last week to prohibit attorneys in the case from commenting on “confidential communications” between him and his staff.

    Trump’s lawyers — who, separately, sought a mistrial Wednesday — contend that Engoron’s orders are unconstitutionally suppressing free speech, and not just any free speech.

    “This constitutional protection is at its apogee where the speech in question is core political speech, made by the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, regarding perceived partisanship and bias at a trial where he is subject to hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and the threatened prohibition of his lawful business activities in the state,” they wrote in a legal filing.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    So court staff in civil proceedings are subject to open season now? Every defendant who doesn’t like being sued can start doxxing and harassing court staff? I guess they have a plan to make working in the court system even more unbearable than working in the schools.
    That’s political speech? Fuck you it’s not
    Here comes a mistrial ……… G…………D!!! IT!!!!

    “Since my poor, poor client (and lawyers) hasn’t had the right to disparage everyone Judge Engoron has shown his political bias in this matter”. I move for mistrial!!
    So I understand Judge David Friedman is saying its fair game for those inclined to malign Judge Friedman, his staff and family because it is “free speech.” American judiciary, doing their part to ensure the downfall of democracy. The judicial system logic would define black as white and white a black.
    This appellate judge is trying to pretend Trump is an ordinary litigant is some banal civil proceeding that’s of no interest outside of the litigants, and not someone who reflexively engages in stochastic terrorism.
    It would not be considered free speech for any one else. It would be considered contempt of court and threats to the safety and lives of others.
    The problem is that the Constitution hasn’t caught up with Trump’s method of subverting it, which is through the careful manipulation of social media and implied, indirect threats beamed out to literally millions of potentially unbalanced followers, many of them ready snap like a hair trigger.
    And when someone who’s being targeted by this disgusting, perverted, lying, sexual assaulting, treasonous, twice impeached, 91 times indicted criminal wannabee dictator is hurt or worse? What then Judges? Whose fault will that be after you won’t order this POS to STFU and keep the gag order in place?

  241. says

    Ukraine Update: The battle of Avdiivka’s chemical factory will decide the town’s fate

    For over a month, Russia has sent wave after wave of both armor-protected and unprotected infantry against Ukrainian defenses in the town of Avdiivka, a suburb of the Russian-occupied regional capital city of Donetsk with a population of nearly 1 million.

    Russia is obsessed with Avdiivka for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a festering reminder of Russia’s inability to push Ukraine away from the edge of Donetsk that dates back to 2014. Second, it puts Ukrainian forces close to key Russian assets in the city, and Russia would prefer to give their regional stronghold some breathing room. And third, Russia doesn’t have to worry about logistics when Ukraine’s defenders are literally across the street from its supply lines.

    Now, the battle for Avdiivka is about to enter its decisive phase—and it all rests on the fate of the chemical/coke plant on the northern tip of the town.

    For Ukraine, the strategic equation is simple: Russia is bleeding itself dry trying to take the town. Yesterday I wrote up the visually confirmed equipment losses in Bakhmut, compared to Avdiivka:

    The end result? The visually confirmed equipment losses in the Zaporizhzhia counteroffensive were almost identical:
    Ukraine: 485 Russia: 490

    But here are the numbers of visually confirmed losses around Avdiivka:
    Ukraine: 16 Russia: 221

    That’s a 14-to-1 ratio, and it’s likely far worse in terms of manpower losses, as Ukrainian cluster munitions shred Russian infantry who are assaulting across open fields. [map at the link]

    As a Russian military instructor wrote on Telegram:

    It is cluster shells that are now knocking out a huge mass of our infantry […]

    The infantry suffers heavy excess losses directly on the battlefield, as a result of which the execution of combat missions is disrupted, and in addition to this there is an overstrain of evacuation logistics and an overload of the military medical infrastructure.

    Meanwhile, Russia continues to send more vehicles to slaughter in those open fields. [tweet and video at the link]

    However, the endless waves have managed to push Ukrainian defenses back in the northern half of the town, as Russia attempts to surround it in a pincer movement. And while the southern pincer is stalled given those open fields, Russia is now in position to assault the now-famous coke (for mining, not drinking) plant on the northern tip.

    We all know about the debris pile across the the railroad tracks from the sprawling factory-industrial complex. [image at the link]

    Ukraine has shown a strong ability to defend industrial complexes, and the coke factory should prove no different. Even crossing that strip will prove insanely costly to Russia, as it is likely seeded daily with anti-personnel mines, as well as being covered by mortar and machine-gun fire from the sprawling complex. Artillery is of little use in that strip, as its inherent inaccuracy would threaten Ukrainian positions, but reinforcements coming in from behind that debris pile will face constant bombardment.

    Both sides know the stakes. And as usual, it comes down to logistics. [map at the link]

    By controlling the coke factory, Russia would have complete fire control of all supply routes into Avdiivka. If Russia takes it, there is no way the Ukrainian garrison can stay in place.

    With the heights of the factory buildings, Russia would have all those roads within visual range, not relying on reconnaissance drones. Mortar, sniper, and guided-missile weapons would all be in range, and suicide drones could be called in against Ukrainian supply vehicles.

    Inured to caring about its casualties, it’s clear Russia is getting excited. Russia’s big push to the northwest against the settlement of Stepove and beyond secures its flanks (though it would be nice if Ukraine had the combat power to smash that Russian salient from the north).

  242. KG says

    Without that, Joe Biden is not in such a position, and has – particularly while trying to repair institutional damage by his predecessor – very little leverage to do more than he has. Blocking the flow of materiel or money, or sending the fleet(s) back to Italy, would only produce a domestic political struggle of no advantage to Palestinian civilians, Israeli peaceniks, or humanitarian crises in general. – Pierce R. Butler@311

    Ridiculous, dishonest garbage. If blocking the flow of money and weapons would be so inconsequential, why is he pushing so hard to speed it up, and being so secretive about what is being sent? I doubt whether the Palestinian civilians being murdered with weapons supplied and paid for by the USA agree with your take. It’s quite clear that sending arms to Israel violates the directive he pronounced only months ago forbidding the supply of arms to countries likely to use them to attack civilians, so he could cite that. Aside from that he could tell the Israeli government – initially in private – that if they do not agree to an immediate ceasefire he will withdraw American diplomats from Israel, throw out theirs from the USA, and sponsor a UNSC resolution condemning their actions. Israel is fundamentally dependent on the USA for arms, money, and diplomatic support. It is just utter crap to whine that Biden can’t do anything. He chooses not to – and makes himself complicit in mass murder.

  243. says

    The National Climate Assessment Has Art, Too. It’s Pretty Cool!

    In our last couple posts on climate change, we’ve included as header images some art that was submitted for a national competition in conjunction with the Fifth National Climate Assessment, aka NCA5, the periodic check-in on the state of the climate that’s compiled by hundreds of America’s top climate scientists.

    In addition to the report’s detailed discussions of how climate change is affecting the USA, as well as how our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are going (Summary: We’re up shit creek, but the paddle is starting to make a difference, so paddle like crazy!), this edition of the report includes, for the first time, an art competition and even a poem by the current US Poet Laureate, Ada Limón. There’s even a podcast for those of you who like having stuff in your ears while you’re exercising, doing chores […]

    It’s a pretty big contrast to how Donald Trump tried to hide the Fourth Assessment in 2018, when the report was released late on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and that only because Congress mandated the reports in law, so Trump couldn’t memory hole it altogether. Team Biden wants you to spend some time with this comprehensive public document, even if you only look at the art and play around with the interactive maps that let you see how your community will be affected under various warming scenarios.

    Let’s start with Ada Limón’s poem, titled “Startlement,” with its themes of unity with nature and with each other. It’s really a lovely, short work:


    It is a forgotten pleasure, the pleasure
    of the unexpected blue-bellied lizard

    skittering off his sun spot rock, the flicker
    of an unknown bird by the bus stop.

    To think, perhaps, we are not distinguishable
    and therefore no loneliness can exist here.

    Species to species in the same blue air, smoke—
    wing flutter buzzing, a car horn coming.

    So many unknown languages, to think we have
    only honored this strange human tongue.

    If you sit by the riverside, you see a culmination
    of all things upstream. We know now,

    we were never at the circle’s center, instead
    all around us something is living or trying to live.

    The world says, What we are becoming, we are
    becoming together.

    The world says, One type of dream has ended
    and another has just begun.

    The world says, Once we were separate,
    and now we must move in unison.

    That other guy never had poetry. Also, cue the weird rightwing religious freaks complaining that “we were never at the circle’s center” means this is a pagan, Jebus-hating poem because humans have dominion over the earth — which is why it’s such a mess.

    Now, some art! There were more than 800 submissions, and works by 92 artists were included in the gallery, including quite a few works in the “Youth” category, because you gotta indoctrinate the young folks with Godless climate ideology, you know.
    [images at the link]

    We really like this one, “Redrawing the Earth,” by eighth-grader Ritika Shah. (She’s identified only as “Ritika S.” on the website because the youts have only an initial of their last names. It’s the internet and people are the worst, thanks in part to the other guy and his cult, too. Sigh.)

    Ritika got to introduce Joe Biden at his speech Tuesday, with her drawing right up there on the soundstage, and he said he hoped she’d remember him when she’s president. [video at the link]

    Ritikasaid in her artist’s statement that she wanted to

    convey that we can help reverse the effects of climate change. One hand is erasing the pollution caused by industrialization the world over, and the other is redrawing actions to restore the Earth’s beauty. … I hope people learn from my art that they can help change the world by just doing simple things like driving less, not littering, and maybe even setting up solar panels or wind turbines. The effects of climate change are only in our hands, so we should do whatever we can to help.

    Hey! The report itself also says that the climate future is “in human hands,” and we don’t even think Ritika had a copy to borrow from. Neat kid.

    This is “Keep it Together,” by Tammy West, a site-specific work made by pounding nails into drought-dried Texas earth, connected with red string to suggest sutures helping a damaged Earth heal. “I wanted this piece to convey the desperate situation that we are in […]. If we must resort to tying our world back together, we have nothing.” [image at the link]

    “Elevation Drive, 7 Feet above Sea Level,” by Xavier Cortada. 2018, water-based paint on asphalt. [image at the link]

    We can’t improve on the artist’s statement:

    This street intersection mural in Pinecrest, Florida depicts the location’s elevation above sea level. Painted intersections, coupled with Underwater Markers (elevation yard signs) that residents place in their front yards, make the issue of climate change impossible to ignore. Mapping the topography of their community, neighbors reveal an alarming reality: declining property values, increased flood insurance costs, failing septic tanks, compromised infrastructure, climate gentrification, and collapsing ecosystems. The socially engaged art work is aimed at revealing the vulnerability of coastal communities to rising seas, sparking climate conversations, and catalyzing civic engagement.

    […] “Drought’s Edge Illuminated” by Jon Bradham. 2021, oil on linen. [image at the link]

    This painting shows the beauty of the huge built environment and the colors and forms of nature. It also shows the stark problem of drought and overuse of water as populations grow, particularly in areas that are not predisposed to large human cities and agriculture. The bone-like wall of the shrinking lake should be a wakeup call to us all.

    “It Doesn’t Look Like Paradise Anymore (Camp Fire 2018)” by Cara Despain. 2019, carbon residue from burnt debris on muslin. [image at the link]

    Wow. Just, wow:

    For the last four years, I’ve collected burnt debris from wildfires and fires in the urban-interface zone in the western United States. I use them to create “carbon paintings” that serve as markers of a changing climate and sustained forest mismanagement, existing in memoriam of the consequences of human habitation on the planet. The text is the location of the fire, in this case Paradise, CA. These pure black expanses of soot still smell of smoke and are meant to conceptually inhabit the lineage of landscape painting while conveying the new reality of western lands’ spent/wrecked vistas and places.


    More images and descriptions at the link.

  244. KG says

    As for the last sentence of yours that I quoted @314, doing the right thing does, often, lead to a political struggle. It should still be done. But in this case, you would have the most powerful person in the world, supported by a majority of the American (and global) population, on one side of that struggle. Here’s an opportunity for Joe Biden to show real leadership, in a righteous cause, and with every chance of prevailing. If he’s too fucking scared of the Israeli lobby to do so, he has no business being President. But I don’t believe – and I don’t believe you believe – that that’s the reason he won’t demand a ceasefire.

  245. Reginald Selkirk says

    Massive cryptomining rig discovered under Polish court’s floor, stealing power

    Police were called to dismantle a secret cryptomining rig winding throughout the floors and ventilation ducts of a Polish court in September, according to Polish news channel TVN24.

    Several secured computers were discovered, potentially stealing thousands of Polish Zlotys worth of energy per month (the equivalent of roughly $250 per 1,000 Zlotys.) It’s currently unknown how long the rig was running because the illegal operation went undetected, partly because the computers used were connected to the Internet through their own modems rather than through the court’s network.

    While no one has been charged yet with any crimes, the court seemingly has suspects. Within two weeks of finding the rig, the court terminated a contract with a company responsible for IT maintenance in the building, TVN24 reported. Before the contract ended, the company fired two employees that it said were responsible for maintenance in the parts of the building where the cryptomine was hidden…

  246. Reginald Selkirk says

    ESF scientist who brought American chestnut tree back from the brink of extinction has died

    Dr. William “Bill” Powell, 67, died Sunday, Nov. 12, at his home with his family by his side.

    Powell was a biology professor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where he and his colleague, Charles Maynard, founded the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project in 1989.

    Over more than three decades, Powell led a team that pioneered genetic engineering techniques to bring the iconic American chestnut tree back from the brink of extinction.

    “I’m really hoping that we can get through this regulatory process,” Powell told in June, adding that he wanted “to see these trees planted while I’m here.”

    Powell was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer 15 months ago. His death comes just as federal regulators are set to approve Darling-58, the world’s first transgenic chestnut tree, for public release…

  247. tomh says

    Re: #312

    Trump and Aides Immediately Attack Clerk After Gag Order Is Paused
    By Jonah E. Bromwich and Alan Feuer / Nov. 16, 2023

    ….About an hour after the New York gag order was paused, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, posted on social media attacking Ms. Greenfield, calling her a “Democrat Operative.”

    Later, shortly before 7 p.m., Mr. Trump himself seized on the pause by posting a message on his Truth Social platform in which he called Ms. Greenfield “politically biased” and “out of control.”

    The New York gag orders will be evaluated by a full appellate panel, which may reimpose them. But in the meantime, Mr. Trump and his lawyers are again free to attack court staff, most prominently the law clerk, Allison Greenfield, who since Mr. Trump’s original post has become a magnet for right-wing attacks on the case.

    The schedule set by the appeals court means that the gag orders could remain paused for much of the remainder of the civil fraud trial….

    …Justice Friedman seemed skeptical that Mr. Trump had said anything that would lead directly to threats against court staff. He repeatedly asked whether Mr. Trump had used specifically threatening language against Ms. Greenfield, who is also a Democrat, and seemed satisfied that the answer was no.

    A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Alina Habba, praised the appellate court after the Thursday hearing and quickly took advantage of the development.

    Ms. Greenfield “is in the judge’s ear time and time again,” Ms. Habba said. “If she had a real threat, she should get off the bench.”

    Justice Engoron imposed his gag order on Mr. Trump on Oct. 3, after the former president posted a picture of Ms. Greenfield with Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader. The image had originally appeared on Ms. Greenfield’s Instagram account.

    Mocking her as “Schumer’s girlfriend,” Mr. Trump said that the case against him should be dismissed. After Justice Engoron was alerted that day, Mr. Trump removed the post from social media.

    Justice Friedman appeared to agree with Mr. Trump’s lawyers that the gag orders had not been warranted. At one point, he seemed to indicate that he held Ms. Greenfield responsible for the former president’s social media post, given that the picture of her with Mr. Schumer had come from her own Instagram account.

    “If you put something out in public and then it goes viral, who’s responsible for that?” he asked.

  248. tomh says

    Re: #310 on expelling Santos.
    Just say it out loud.

    Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) told Axios the report “looks pretty damaging” but “why would we want to expel a guy … [when] we’ve got a three-seat, four-seat majority. What are we doing?”

  249. Pierce R. Butler says

    KG @ # 314: If blocking the flow of money and weapons would be so inconsequential…

    I did not say it would be inconsequential, only that the consequences would be felt more deeply in DC than in Gaza.

    It’s quite clear that sending arms to Israel violates the directive he pronounced only months ago…

    Yup. Hypocrisy and, um, flexibility in principle in US government go back to Geo. Washington – and occur in some other places, I hear.

    … he could tell the Israeli government … that if they do not agree to an immediate ceasefire he will withdraw American diplomats…, throw out theirs…, and sponsor a UNSC resolution condemning their actions.

    And, before the sun went down that day, face a major bipartisan impeachment effort and a roadblock on all administration initiatives that would make Tommy Tuberville look like Barack Obama (see the article linked to @ Lynna’s # 297 if that’s not clear). I agree with you that would make the Knesset bend – but in realpolitik, Biden can no more do that than he can send the Fantastic Four to disarm all sides.

    KG @ # 316: … you would have the most powerful person in the world, supported by a majority of the American (and global) population, on one side of that struggle.

    You could add in Superman and The Incredible Hulk, too, but they’d have to carry out a coup against Congress, SCOTUS, and the corporate media (not to mention much of the public and the military) to make it stick. Have you urged the SNP to hijack a cement truck and rebuild Hadrian’s Wall to fend off those wretched barbarians from the south? How about asking Greta Thunberg to lead a coordinated 100-site commando raid against the collective headquarters of the fossil-fuel industry – they only have a handful of security guards at each office, right? (Maybe a few more at Gazprom and Jiddah…)

    We might all enjoy our power fantasies of “what we would do”, but he who has that power in reality knows its limits – and Israel has a vast arsenal of US political kryptonite. (And I think we also agree, justice for Palestinians is not, and never has-been/will-be, Biden’s top priority: probably not even in his top twenty.)

  250. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    UK first to approve CRISPR treatment for diseases

    The therapy, called Casgevy, will treat the the blood conditions sickle-cell disease and β-thalassaemia. […] by taking blood-producing stem cells out of the bone marrow […] and using CRISPR to edit genes encoding for haemoglobin in these cells. […] people must undergo a treatment that prepares the bone marrow to receive the edited cells.
    in the trials, […] no significant safety concerns were identified. […] One concern surrounding the approach is that CRISPR can sometimes make unintended genetic modifications […] it could cost roughly US$2 million per patient, in line with the pricing of other gene therapies.

  251. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Follow-up to #309:

    Mediaite – Biden White House can’t believe it has to say this but bin Laden bad
    NYMag – Is bin Laden really going viral with the kids?

    on Wednesday, well before TikTok stated that it would be removing such videos […] they numbered at most in the hundreds, many expressing bewilderment or anger at other TikTokers, making jokes, or talking about the letter in general
    As of Thursday morning, relatively few […] endorsed any aspect of bin Laden’s letter, and some of the ones that triggered this whole controversy, which had by then generated numerous tweets and news articles, had been deleted by their creators, in part because they had been overwhelmed by other TikTokers making fun of them.
    Some people posted profoundly cringeworthy stuff. […] It’s unnerving to see young internet strangers talk themselves into bin Laden fandom, even if they’re clearly trying to be provocative. But the only sense in which it truly went viral was elsewhere, in condemnatory posts
    The Guardian removed Bin Laden’s letter […] This inspired a round of news stories, posts on Instagram and X, and, eventually, a (slightly) more substantial round of videos on the subject on TikTok, where users now have a piece of Forbidden Content to post about.
    this was primarily not a TikTok thing. It’s a meta-story that gained purchase among people who are […] maybe worried about TikTok, who […] occasionally see content ripped from TikTok but who don’t really spend much time there

  252. StevoR says

    Turns out the early bird ..

    … leaves fossilised footrpints from the Creataceous era in Oz. See :

    It wasn’t the the only fossil footprint at the site, about 150 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, with Ms Lowery and a group of researchers going on to find 26 more over two years.

    But those tracks — thought to be around 125 million years old — are the earliest-known evidence of birds in Australia and the southern hemisphere, the researchers report today in the science journal Plos One.

    In much grimmer news the Mekong is dying, dammed, overfished and drying up :

    ..A new study suggests an alarming decline in fish populations in the lower Mekong, including the Tonle Sap. Scientists across the world recently analysed 110 fish species over 17 years and found their numbers had dropped by more than 87%. The giant catfish, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, and revered by some locals, is believed to be on the verge of extinction – while the striped catfish, once a staple in countries along the Mekong, is now endangered.

    While overfishing is one culprit, so are climate change and dams, which are altering the Mekong and its tributaries in fundamental ways.

    The effect is evident here on the Tonle Sap, known as the beating heart of the Mekong…. (snip)..


    Its fast and powerful flow earned it the title “mighty Mekong”. As the planet heats up, successive droughts are diminishing this mighty flow.

    Between 2019 and 2021, water levels dropped to their lowest in more than 60 years. But shrinking rainfall is not the only problem.

    … (Snip).. “Climate change and dams are working together to deliver a death of a thousand cuts to the river system,” says Brian Eyler who runs the Mekong Dam Monitor at the Stimson Center in Washington DC.

    Although the dams eventually release the water, analysts believe that trapping it behind concrete in reservoirs is disrupting the Mekong’s pulse, strangling one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

    Water is also released from the cascade of dams in China and Laos at different dates and times, often making it difficult to predict water levels downstream, particularly in the north of Thailand and Cambodia.

    “Rainfall that typically would fall during the wet season is much lower than normal, but at the same time, upstream dams are restricting water during that wet season. So that’s bringing the river pulse down, and the river flows down much lower than they need to be,” Mr Eyler says.

    “Together, climate impact and dam restrictions are changing the way that the Mekong flows – much for the worse.”

    Source :

    Oh and closer to home (for me) the person facing jail for the atrocities Aussie troops committed in Afghanistan? The whistle-blower of course who exposed them. :

    A whistleblower who helped expose allegations of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan has pleaded guilty to leaking classified information.

    David McBride was due to face trial next week, but changed his plea after a legal ruling scuppered his defence.

    McBride – an ex-military lawyer – said he felt a moral duty to speak up after his internal complaints were ignored.

    A landmark inquiry later found evidence that Australian forces had unlawfully killed 39 Afghans during the war.

    McBride admits he gave troves of documents to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), because he was concerned about what he then thought was the “over-investigation” of troops, the court heard.

    He pleaded guilty on Friday to three charges of stealing and unlawfully sharing secret military information.

    The information he provided underpinned a series of reports in 2017 called The Afghan Files, which gave unprecedented insight into the operations of Australia’s elite special forces in Afghanistan, and contained allegations of war crimes.

    Source :

  253. StevoR says

    @326. Reginald Selkirk : “The Left’s unhinged attacks on Mike Johnson reveal their moral rot.” (title / link)

    So, lemme get this straight; the reichewing are going full fascist and nazi but its the left who suffer “moral rot” eh? FFS!

  254. Paul K says

    Lynna, OM @297: I see that this article you linked to has been retracted, due to ‘due to misinformation arising from confusion regarding military construction and other Department of Defense operations, a distinction reported as early as November 11, 2023. Misinformation is prohibited here per our Rules of the Road.’

  255. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 326

    “Mike Johnson is a religious nut because he adheres to the same faith as 70 per cent of America”

    Yes. Yes they are.

  256. KG says

    Pierce R. Butler@323

    Yup. Hypocrisy and, um, flexibility in principle in US government go back to Geo. Washington – and occur in some other places, I hear.

    Brilliant. Whataboutery that doesn’t even have to say what it’s about. Your own invention?

    And, before the sun went down that day, face a major bipartisan impeachment effort and a roadblock on all administration initiatives that would make Tommy Tuberville look like Barack Obama (see the article linked to @ Lynna’s # 297 if that’s not clear). I agree with you that would make the Knesset bend

    Right. You’ve just admitted that Biden could halt the mass-murder if he chose. He has therefore made himself complicit in mass-murder. Glad we’re agreed on that.

    You could add in Superman and The Incredible Hulk, too, but they’d have to carry out a coup against Congress, SCOTUS, and the corporate media (not to mention much of the public and the military) to make it stick.

    Funny, I hadn’t heard that the corporate media, the public or the military were something that a coup could be launched against, even in principle. And it’s ludicrous to say that taking diplomatic action against Israel, or even enforcing a directive he gave earlier this year, would be anything even remotely akin to a coup. Of course there would be political and legal challenges. But it seems you hold to the belief that the Israel lobby (or better, call it the Zionist lobby, because a significant fraction of Israelis are not Zionists, and vice versa) has an unchallengeable hold on American foreign policy, and is powerful enough to break a President who stands against it, even with majority public support*. If that is so (personally, I don’t believe it, I think a different president would be quite capable of telling Israel to agree to an immediate ceasefire or else), then isn’t it a situation that needs to change? And you could scarcely have either a more pressing or a more promising time to attempt that.

    Have you urged the SNP to hijack a cement truck and rebuild Hadrian’s Wall to fend off those wretched barbarians from the south?

    A silly squib, but just FYI: (a) Hadrian’s Wall is located completely within England, and (b) the SNP, and the broader independence movement (minus a vanishingly small segment of racist loons) has no wish to interrupt travel between England and Scotland.

    he who has that power in reality knows its limits – and Israel has a vast arsenal of US political kryptonite.

    Hmm. It seems you really do buy into the antisemitic “ZOG” conspiracy narrative.

    And I think we also agree, justice for Palestinians is not, and never has-been/will-be, Biden’s top priority: probably not even in his top twenty.

    Actually, he’s clearly against justice for Palestinians, which would necessarily involve American coercion of Israel. But this is just about whether he’s against mass-murder. He’s shown that he isn’t.

    *You might respond that ifdespite the majority support for an immediate ceasefire, there would not be such support for serious action or threats of action aginst Israel. But American attitudes towards Israel (particularly among Democrats, and including among American Jews) have changed – and the IDF’s campaign of mass-murder is likely to have pushed that change further. So could Biden, if he chose. I don’t know where the term comes from, but don’t Americans say the President has a “bully pulpit”? If he needed to go beyond private threats, Biden could make a nationwide televised address, explaining that he has tried to reason with and restrain the Israeli government, but they are bent on their policy of ethnic cleansing enforced by bombing and starvation, and he cannot in conscience acquiesce in it any longer.

  257. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 329

    Remember, for them ‘morality” isn’t about not causing harm or increasing happiness, but obeying rules. Those who obey their Gawd’s rules are good. Those who don’t… “moral rot.”

  258. lumipuna says

    Here’s a daily update on the Finnish/Russian border situation.

    At some point, I’ll probably have to write a lengthy discussion on the issues with and rules of asylum seeking. The topic is broached in this story by the Finnish public broadcaster Yle:

    During Thursday, a total of 19 Somalian and Syrian citizens showed up on the Estonian border without visas. They were clearly part of the same population (of asylum seekers from Somalia and various Middle Eastern countries) that’s been entering Finland from Russia in somewhat larger numbers during this week. Reportedly, all 19 were turned away back to Russia because “they did not request asylum”.

    Now, to a critical thinker, this sounds extremely like Estonian border guards are illegally turning away people who did, in fact, try to request asylum. It is very clear (just from the official statements quoted in media) that Estonians are very much on hair trigger about the recent developments, possibly moreso than Finns. I can understand it in these circumstances, as Russia is clearly testing Estonia’s response. Also, illegally turning away migrants on EU borders wouldn’t be remotely unprecedented.

    Yle contacted a relevant spokesperson from Estonia to ask for clarification. The given explanation is that Estonian border guards do not, as a rule, outright ask if someone needs an asylum. You have to be able to actively request asylum, preferably quite clearly and using correct terminology, in some widely understood language. This is supposedly sufficient to fulfill the obligations of international law. Personally, I’m not remotely convinced that this explanation is sufficient for why all 19 were turned away.

    Yle also quotes a Finnish border guard spokesperson, who asserts that their policy is to always find out the reason for anyone’s travel across the border (at least for those whose entry is conditional on giving a good reason, like seeking asylum). Soon we’ll see how committed the Finnish border guard is to laws and human rights.

    According to this story, a group of eight Somalians were interviewed by someone immediately after their rejection at the Estonian border, and the video was posted by the Russian news outlet Fontanka (link in the story). That, too, seems like a wildly curious coincidence.

    In Finland, the more far-right members of the cabinet are asserting that we will close the entire Russian border from asylum seekers, if the recently announced partial closure (which is just coming into effect in the hours after I post this) doesn’t solve “the issue”. That would indeed be possible according to the new Finnish law, but rather questionable in terms of interpreting international law. In practical and humanitarian terms, it could be a shitshow.

  259. says

    Paul K @330, thank you for that correction! Apologies for posting the article which turned out to contain misinformation. I should have known better.

  260. says

    StevoR @328, thanks for this, Source :

    That was an interesting, if sobering read. I was struck by the fact that people who did not understand the river ecosystem continue to cause damage. One example:

    These protected forests have adapted over hundreds of years to the two seasons – months of dry weather followed by months of monsoon rain. However, the gush of water from upstream dams during the dry season gives the forest no time to dry out. When this happens, fungi grow in the damp conditions, causing dry rot.

    This, in turn, has an impact on the fish – because the submerged yet healthy roots are a safe haven for fish to spawn. The ecosystem around the roots also provides food for the fish.

    There’s also this telling detail:

    Across Asia, hydropower output in 2023 has plunged at the fastest rate in decades, forcing power regulators battling erratic weather to rely more on fossil fuels.

    So, all those dams are not working as promised, but they are continuing to trap sediment ….

    Lots of problems, few solutions.

  261. Pierce R. Butler says

    KG @ # 332: Whataboutery that doesn’t even have to say what it’s about. Your own invention?

    I wrote a direct reply to your statement – do you need me to reiterate same, every time, for you to see the context?

    You’ve just admitted that Biden could halt the mass-murder if he chose.

    In the same way that I could halt my state’s governor’s proclivities towards fascism – for a brief moment before they hauled me away, if l were cunning and lucky enough to get close. Wanna call me a fascist for not doing that today?

    He [Biden] has therefore made himself complicit in mass-murder.

    Everyone who takes on the office of US President makes themselves complicit in that. As does everyone who pays taxes to the US government. (And, I must add, those who put their pence in a certain Royal Treasury.)

    … it seems you hold to the belief that the … Zionist lobby… has an unchallengeable hold on American foreign policy, and is powerful enough to break a President who stands against it…

    By George, I think he’s got it! Yes, the “strongest nation [empire] in the world” is in fact so rickety that at least a dozen different internal power blocs (including the military-industrial complex, Wall Street, the gun lobby, the media corporations, and, yes, the Z-lobby) could monkey-wrench the works enough to grind Washington &/or the economy to a halt. Or, at minimum, they are perceived to have that capability such that no one in elected office dares to challenge them, which has the same effect.

    … then isn’t it a situation that needs to change? And you could scarcely have either a more pressing or a more promising time to attempt that.

    Yes it does need to change. And yes we have a very pressing time – particularly regarding the environmental crisis and the surge in outright fascism – but I dunno about the “more promising time” (the Bernie Sanders campaigns of ’16 & ’20 showed the most promise we’ve had in two generations, but both fell short, didn’t they?).

    A silly squib …

    Thanks for the clarification on the H Wall. I still think comparisons with the absurd pertain.

    It seems you really do buy into the antisemitic “ZOG” conspiracy narrative.

    No, but I’ve watched the Z-lobby slap down US politicians decade after decade, and can’t recall any who got back up again.

    … he’s clearly against justice for Palestinians…

    Yeah, that would require boat-rocking. Biden fits the classic liberal profile of supporting the “better” options, but only up to that point. The Israelis’ delusion that they could control and forget the Palestinians suited him just fine.

    … American attitudes towards Israel (particularly among Democrats, and including among American Jews) have changed…

    Attitudes towards guns and CO2 have changed too, with accompanying mass mobilization – and only token law/policy changes. The empire is both shaky and rigid.

    … don’t Americans say the President has a “bully pulpit”?

    That phrase came from Theodore Roosevelt, back before WW I. Biden could, indeed, set up a nationwide broadcast whenever he wants – and has done so a few times, but wasn’t even able to get his first (and quite popular) pandemic-recovery program through.

    PS: While writing this, I took a call from a disabled-veteran friend. He claimed he had been looking up Likud links to Rabin’s assassination-aftermath in ’95, and had his link shut down in mid-read. He rambled too much for me to get details, but the story does illustrate the difficulties in altering American views of Israel/Palestine.

  262. says

    Aileen Cannon Makes A MAL Trial Before Election Day Nearly Impossible

    With this simple docket entry, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon all but assured that the trial of Donald Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case will not happen until after the 2024 election: [screengrab of paperless order is available at the link]

    The docket entry is not a clarion call by any means. It’s technical and legalistic. A perfect way to bury the reality of acceding to Trump’s delay strategy. But the consensus among CIPA experts and legal observers is that this is best evidence yet that Cannon is slow-rolling the case, to Trump’s benefit.

    What happened? A couple of days ago, Special Counsel Jack Smith asked Cannon to set a key deadline in December for Trump to provide notice of which classified materials he wants to use at trial. Without waiting for Trump to respond, Cannon nixed the idea. Cannon’s docket entry says she won’t even consider setting this and other important deadlines until a hearing on March 1, 2024. That’s not a feasible schedule for a May 2024 trial date.

    The only slight caveat I would add here is that it’s conceivable that while the current May 2024 trial date is out the window, something could be scheduled later in 2024, before the election. But that would be very difficult practically with this latest move by Cannon, even if she were competent and well-intentioned, both of which are highly in doubt at this point.

    The reactions were scorching:

    Harry Litman: “Judge Cannon’s paperless order denying without explanation DOJ’s uber-reasonable request to set a CIPA section 5 hearing comes mighty close to guaranteeing Trump what he wants: a trial post Nov 2024.”

    Brandon Van Grack: “Court won’t even consider scheduling a Sec. 5 hearing until March. Clear indication May trial date wont happen. … Refusal to schedule hearing shows the Court is not going to move with urgency.”

    Hugo Lowell: “In short: Trump classified docs case is almost certainly not going to trial in May — in fact, we are probably now several months behind that schedule”

    Andrew Weissmann: “Judge Cannon’s bias is showing over and over again. Smith has to be weighing whether, when, and how to seek her reversal by the Ct of Appeals and her removal.”

    I expect many of you will now expect Smith to follow through as Weissmann suggests above: get Cannon recused and/or appeal her refusal to keep the trial on track. I’m not an expert in CIPA or criminal or appellate procedure, but it sure looks like Cannon has done this in a way that will make appealing it virtually impossible at this stage. In short, we may be stuck with Cannon and these awful, compromised decisions.

  263. says

    White House blasts Elon Musk for antisemitic post. IBM suspends X advertising

    There’s no longer a question of whether billionaire Elon Musk is an antisemite. No matter what hapless X (formerly Twitter) CEO Linda Yaccarino or Musk’s other underlings say, the case has been proven. And it was proven again on Wednesday, when Musk endorsed a post that blamed “Jewish communities” for pushing “dialectical hatred against whites.” It also referred to the white supremacist conspiracy theory that “western Jewish populations” are behind the “flooding” of countries with “hordes of minorities.”

    “You have said the actual truth,” Musk publicly replied.

    The false notion that powerful Jewish elites are behind mass-migration patterns, somehow encouraging or facilitating the transfer of migrants so as to overwhelm “white” nations with anti-white foreign “hordes,” is the most antisemitic version of the “great replacement theory.” It is neo-Nazi drivel, the same “Jews control the world” conspiracy used by Nazis to justify the Holocaust and by domestic terrorists who target Jewish Americans in this country.

    On Friday, the White House itself blasted Musk’s post.

    It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Like President Biden said weeks ago memorializing the victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, the October 7 “devastating atrocity has brought to the service painful memories left by millennia of Antisemitism;” and under his presidency “we will continue to condemn Antisemitism at every turn.” We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans. We all have a responsibility to bring people together against hate, and an obligation to speak out against anyone who attacks the dignity of their fellow Americans and compromises the safety of our communities.

    It’s arguably the most overt expression of Musk’s antisemitism to date. And it comes as X becomes such a home for neo-Nazi extremism that advertisements from Apple, IBM, and other major companies often run beside posts praising Adolf Hitler and Nazism and advocating Holocaust denial. [See PZ’s post ]

    IBM was the first to respond to Media Matters for America’s proof that the Fortune 500 company’s ads were being paired with pro-Nazi content. In a statement, IBM said that it “immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.”

    That’s more than Apple or other top brands have done so far, but at this point, any major brand still advertising on X knows what they’re paying into. It still suggests IBM, which “suspended” about $1 million in advertising planned for the year’s fourth quarter, thinks an association with pro-Nazi conspiracy theories is something they can navigate without abandoning the platform completely.

    The truth is, Musk regularly protects and elevates white nationalists and far-right conspiracy accounts, even selecting them for the site’s nascent and vaguely premised “revenue sharing” program. And while Yaccarino vigorously lies about X’s efforts to protect advertisers, Musk is spearheading this influx of hate speech.

    If IBM, Apple, and other advertisers don’t want to advertise alongside bigotry, they’re going to have to go elsewhere. Musk has no plausible deniability here—and neither do the companies still propping up his antisemitism.

  264. says

    Oh, Tommy Tuberville. The Alabama Republican continues to soak up all the attention he can from his blockade on military promotions, and if that means going on “The Kimberly Guilfoyle Show” and telling a Trumpworld figure who appears unable to move any part of her face that the military may be paying for after-birth abortions, so be it. [video at the link]

    “They can’t tell us about the policy in terms of the abortions themselves,” Tuberville said. “You know, it’s been rape, incest, or health of the mom, but we asked in one of our hearings, you know, what month are you going to go by for the abortion? They couldn’t tell us whether it was abortion after birth.”

    It sounds like what he’s saying is that the U.S. military is giving its members and their families the respect of letting them get legal medical care without having to justify themselves. But just saying that wouldn’t be attention-grabbing enough, so “they couldn’t tell us whether it was abortion after birth” it is, although that is not a thing.

    […] Tuberville’s comment fits squarely into ongoing Republican lies that Democratic abortion policy is pro-infanticide […] Is it even possible to underestimate Tuberville’s acuity and understanding of policy?


  265. says

    A federal judge has ruled that North Dakota’s Legislature violated the Voting Rights Act in how lawmakers reapportioned legislative districts comprising two tribal nations.

    U.S. District Chief Judge Peter Welte issued his ruling on Friday, months after a trial held in June in Fargo.

    He ruled that the 2021 redistricting plan for two districts, one with two House subdistricts, “prevents Native American voters from having an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in violation” of a major provision of the Voting Rights Act.

    Welte gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Dec. 22 “to adopt a plan to remedy the violation.”

    The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Spirit Lake Tribe alleged the 2021 redistricting map violates the Voting Rights Act, the landmark civil rights law from 1965. Their complaint argued that the reapportionment “packs” Turtle Mountain tribal members into one House district and leaves Spirit Lake out of a majority-Native district.


    Good news. The court upheld voting rights.

    Bad news: Republican state legislators continue to restrict voting rights, and the good guys have to take them to court every time in order to force them to do the right thing.

  266. says

    Heat Index in Rio de Janeiro hits 137.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

    More than a hundred million people in Brazil endure extraordinary and lethal temperatures. The heat index, a combination of temperature and humidity, shattered records in Rio de Janeiro with 108.5 degrees and a feel-like temperature of 137.3 F.

    The gobsmacking temperatures are a November heat record for the sprawling city of Rio de Janeiro, which has approximately fourteen million people.

    Red health alerts have been posted for thousands of cities across the nation. There was no cooling relief for the bodies of wildlife and humans during the night as temperatures hovered around 90 degrees F.

    It is spring in the Southern Hemisphere, and all signs point to a brutal summer for South America, Australia, South Asia, and Africa. […]

    More at the link, including a report from the BBC.

    From another source:

    Favela’s (shacks), located in the upslope of Rio, have little to no air conditioning. “Problems with electricity in favelas are chronic and emerged along with the favelas themselves. The State fails by delivering low-quality service, and residents, improvising, end up overloading grids and making the entire favela population suffer as a result. People spend days without electricity in their homes, […] and according to residents, all of this gets worse in summer.”


  267. says

    How does Fox News cover international politics? Let’s look at Chinese President Xi Jingping’s trip to San Francisco this week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, and his meeting on the sidelines with President Joe Biden, and find out! There’s been some straight news coverage, but mostly it’s been the usual sewage, like this clip from Wednesday night, where host Jesse Watters framed Xi’s visit as a “second date” between Xi and California Gov. Gavin Newsom before turning the hate on President Biden, repeating favorite rightwing tropes. [video at the link]

    For your basic racism, Watters said Newsom had transformed “San Francisco into Chinatown” for Xi, showing a lot of Asian American people waving US and Chinese Flags, before adding “Killing millions of Americans with COVID and Fentanyl was water under the bridge.” Then it was on to framing Biden as a romantic rival to Newsom for Xi’s attention, ha-ha:

    When Xi saw Joe, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. As Joe likes to brag, he spent more time with Xi than anyone else. Not to mention the fact that Xi’s guys bribed the Biden family. The chemistry was unmistakable.

    Watters, that wag, also said that Xi and Biden’s discussions on climate cooperation was simply the part of the “date” where they “talked about the weather,” but they didn’t even discuss COVID or the “lab leak,” shame on them.

    [Man oh man, that’s some toxic sewage there.]

    But Fox’s real focus this week was on the news that in preparation for Xi’s visit, San Francisco, with help from the state, cleared out some homeless encampments along with sprucing up roads Xi’s motorcade would travel along and putting up metal barriers in some areas for security — haw haw, who says walls don’t work, Gavin?

    In addition to the TV coverage, Fox’s website carried multiple stories on that, saying San Francisco was temporarily “shifting the significant homeless population that has flooded into the city,” because of course unhoused people aren’t people, they’re some kind of sewage. Another piece collected social media posts from rightwing figures attacking Newsom for waiting until an international summit before “cleaning up the streets” and making unhoused people just go away out of sight. Just for good measure, “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday included an interview with a small business owner who was disgusted that Newsom “cared” more about making San Francisco look nice for Xi than about protecting Californians from those nasty people on the street. […]

    All the homeless-bashing is business as usual for Fox, which regularly mocks and dehumanizes people who can’t afford housing, because after all they’re all drug-crazed maniacs who are on the streets ‘by choice,” and who barely count as human. The network’s demonization of homelessness is central to its efforts to portray big cities — especially the ones in blue states — as cesspits of sin and violence that no good upstanding Fox viewer would ever visit, at least not without an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank or armored SUV equivalent.

    Homelessness is also a particular hobbyhorse of the apocalypse for Jesse Watters, who’s spent a decade telling rightwing viewers how much he hates people who don’t have homes — not because they can’t afford housing but because they are bad people and barely worth notice as human beings. According to Watters, unhoused people are “just bags of flesh mutating on the sidewalk,” as well as “urine-soaked junkies” and “vagabonds and zombies.” [OMFG]

    Here’s a particularly vile Watters rant from a June 13 segment of “The Five” […] In it, Watters insists that homelessness is 100 percent by choice, and that therefore it makes no sense to try to help those people, who are also weird looking and have loose sexual morals. The solution is to get tough with them, not try to provide them housing or services to help them regain some stability in their lives. It’s pretty ugly even by Fox “standards.” [video at the link]

    “Homelessness isn’t about lack of affordable housing. It’s about drug addicts that want to wander around and live in tents on the sidewalk,” Watters claims, because obviously drug addicts love sidewalks.

    “You can’t coddle antisocial behavior. You can’t subsidize antisocial behavior. You have to stigmatize it. You can’t celebrate people with purple hair, with nose rings, four kids with four different men who are dressed like trash, and make them out to be some sort of cutting-edge heroes. You have to call them what they are. These are people that have failed in life, and they’re on their deathbed.”

    The implication was clear: There really wouldn’t be anything all that wrong with helping them die, just saying. All the best terrorism is stochastic.

    There is at least an upside here: After endless attacks on unhoused people, Jesse Watters’ personal Twilight Zone Hell will be easy to design.

  268. says

    So stupid it’s hard to even read about it:

    Last week on Fox News, Harris Faulkner, easily the network’s most fake and disingenuous anchor, did that thing she does where she lowers her voice and gets all serious, like she is really disappointed but not surprised and loves you but does not like you. She was doing her routine where she pretends to be appalled.

    Faulkner may be Fox News’s most obvious liar. Her tells, they are legi