Comments

  1. StevoR says

    Can the world just be less fucked and better please? Please?

    Think and be kind.

    Make our shared pale blue dot better please.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    More than 380,000 Missourians sign initiative petition to put abortion on the ballot

    A campaign to enshrine abortion rights in Missouri’s constitution said Friday that it collected more than 380,000 signatures in just three months, more than twice the likely total needed to qualify for this year’s statewide ballot.

    The coalition, called Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, is hoping to put on the November ballot a measure that would legalize abortion up to the point of fetal viability. Since June 2022, nearly every abortion has been illegal in the state with the exception of medical emergencies.

    In order to put a citizen-led constitutional amendment before voters, the campaign had to collect signatures from 8% of voters in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. That total equates to more than 171,000 signatures…

  3. says

    Judge shoots down Trump’s absurd lie that he’s not allowed to testify

    Donald Trump’s trial over falsifying documents to cover up his relationship with adult film actress Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election continued Thursday. But before the trial resumed, Judge Juan Merchan convened a second hearing on possible violations of a gag order designed to protect witnesses and jurors.

    Trump was held in contempt of court on Tuesday and fined $9,000 for repeatedly violating that order. Thursday’s hearing focused on four additional social media posts that prosecutors believe are also in violation of the order.

    Merchan made no immediate ruling following the hearing, but at the end of the day, Trump made a kind of ruling of his own, telling reporters outside the courtroom that he wasn’t allowed to testify because of the gag order. Trump repeated this claim several times in response to questions, with attorney Todd Blanche nodding along at his side.

    On Friday morning, Merchan made it clear that this lie wasn’t going to be ignored. [video of trump making false claims repeatedly is available at the link]

    The idea that Trump isn’t allowed to testify is a ridiculous reading of Merchan’s order.

    After claiming that Merchan had taken away his right to testify, NBC News reports that Trump was back at it again on his way into court on Friday.

    This judge has taken away my constitutional right,” Trump told reporters. “We’re filing, I think today, a constitutional motion.”

    Whatever that is.

    But as soon as the court was gaveled into session, Merchan made it clear that Trump’s false claims were not going to be ignored.

    “It does not prohibit you from taking the stand. As the name of the order indicates, it only applies to extrajudicial statements,” he said.

    According to NBC, Trump mouthed the words “thank you,” which could imply that he intends to present this as some sort of victory for his position, rather than confirmation that everything he’d been saying outside the court was a lie.

    All of this seems as if Trump is trying to cobble together an excuse not to take the stand after previously claiming he would. Testimony on Thursday, which included a bombshell audio recording of Trump and former attorney Michael Cohen discussing how to silence Daniels, could have contributed to Trump’s cold feet.

    Blanche’s nodding along during Trump’s false claims on Thursday, when the lead attorney surely knew that the gag order didn’t apply to testimony, certainly makes this seem more like a defense strategy than a misunderstanding.

    The lie about not being allowed to testify followed an equally ridiculous event in which Trump carried a stack of printed articles and social media posts into court, had one of his attorneys show them to the judge, and tried to make Merchan tell him which ones he was allowed to use in his Truth Social rants.

    Merchan quickly shot down this ploy saying.

    “I’m not going to give advanced release … I’m not going to be in a position to read posts.”

    He reminded Trump’s legal team that an appeals court had reviewed the text of the gag order and found it to be “unambiguous.”

    In other words, if Trump wanted someone to vet his posts, they could do it themselves.

    Link

  4. says

    Hello, readers of The Infinite Thread.

    We racked up 500 comments in the previous chapter. The Infinite Thread automatically rolled over to begin with comment #1.

    For the convenience of readers, here are a few links back to the previous group of 500 comments:

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/04/07/infinite-thread-xxxi/comment-page-2/#comment-2220386
    Crime in the U.S. declined significantly in 2023, continuing a post-pandemic trend and belying widespread perceptions that crime is rising.

    https://www.dw.com/en/german-police-bust-europes-largest-scam-call-center/a-68980954
    German police bust Europe’s ‘largest’ scam call center

    https://jalopnik.com/new-baltimore-bridge-span-to-cost-1-9-billion-and-wont-1851453784
    New Baltimore Bridge Span To Cost $1.9 Billion And Won’t Be Ready Until 2028

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/04/07/infinite-thread-xxxi/comment-page-2/#comment-2220372
    It is hard to appreciate just how thoroughly one of the world’s richest men has been red-pilled until you actually follow along with his media diet. So that’s what I decided to do. Last month, I read everything Musk had to say on X for a week and tracked everyone he interacted with.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ron DeSantis bans ‘global elite’ lab-grown meat

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned lab-grown meat, saying he will “save our beef” from the “global elite” and its “authoritarian plans”.

    “Florida is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs,” Mr DeSantis said in a statement.

    The first-in-the-nation law prohibits anyone from selling or distributing lab-grown meat in Florida.

    Similar efforts are under way in Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee…

    Clearly Republicans do not believe in free markets. Lab-grown meat is too expensive to be a realistic threat.

  6. says

    The Securities and Exchange Commission accused the auditor of Donald Trump’s social-media company of a “massive fraud” affecting more than 1,500 filings.

    BF Borgers CPA PC and its founder Benjamin Borgers will be permanently suspended from appearing as accountants before the SEC, and will pay a total of $14 million in fines to settle the probe, the SEC said in a Friday release.

    “Ben Borgers and his audit firm, BF Borgers, were responsible for one of the largest wholesale failures by gatekeepers in our financial markets,” Gurbir Grewal, the SEC’s enforcement chief, said in a statement.

    BF Borgers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning. The firm has been one of the most prolific auditors in the US. The most recent review of its audits by US regulators found a 100% deficiency rate. [Text from bloomberglaw.com]

    From CNBC:

    […] The agency, calling BF Borgers a “sham audit mill,” said the company and its owner “deliberately systematically failed to conduct” in accordance with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board standards audits and quarterly reviews incorporated in more than 1,500 SEC filings from January 2021 through June 2023.

    The SEC said the Lakewood, Colorado-based auditor lied to clients by saying its work complied with PCAOB standards, fabricated audit documents to make it seem that the work did comply with those standards, and falsely claims in audit reports included in more than 500 public company SEC filings that the firm’s audits complied with such standards.

    BF Borgers during the period covered by the SEC complaint acted as the auditor for Trump Media, which was then privately held and moving toward a planned merger with the publicly traded shell company Digital World Acquisition Corp.

    Trump Media and DWAC finalized that merger in late March 2024, leading to Trump Media becoming publicly traded under the DJT ticker.

    Three days after the company went public, Trump Media’s board approved keeping BF Borgers on as the company’s auditors for 2024.

  7. says

    […] If the New York Times (NYT) wants to publish conservative op-eds (a.k.a. “Guest Essays”), this liberal will read them. However, no matter how broad-minded a newspaper is, they should never publish a hagiography. On Thursday, the self-congratulatory “Newspaper of Record,” did just that.

    The NYT presented its readers with a piece with the farcical headline “Trump Embraces Lawlessness, but in the Name of a Higher Law.” […]

    The author, Matthew Schmitz, bless his heart, founded the Compact online magazine and he contributes to the American Conservative. His journalist schlock is predictable. And he is knee-bending in his obeisance to Trump.

    Undeterred by facts, Schmitz uses his space to paint the 2020 loser as a mythical savior of America’s most abused demographic — heteronormative white conservatives. Because, in Schmitz’s calculus, those poor, put-upon folks have suffered the most at the hands of “the establishment.”

    So be it. Schmitz can write what he wants. But why is the NYT giving him a platform? It is one thing to present an opinion. It is another for a (once?) reputable national newspaper to embrace the hate-click business model used by lazy reporters and dollar-blinded editors.

    Let us have a look at what he writes. This is how he starts.

    “Donald Trump is often denounced in terms that suggest he poses an existential threat to the American political tradition. He is a fascist, a Russian agent, an aspiring caudillo: something foreign and menacing. To his critics, the four criminal indictments he faces are further evidence that he is a danger to democracy.”

    I write to criticize his content. But first, a comment on his style. Schmitz is an unconfident writer. His aggressive prose shields a pusillanimous heart. “In terms that suggest he poses” is flabby. He should rewrite his first sentence as “Donald Trump is often denounced as an existential threat to the American political tradition.”

    OK. No more style commentary. But you will see more of Schmitz’s insecurity throughout his polemic.

    Let us look at his content. Who has suggested Trump is foreign and menacing? Everyone knows he is an outer-borough New Yorker who fled the state to Florida. He may act as an enabler of America’s enemies, and his pronunciation is weird, but his menace is all domestic.

    In addition, you do not have to be a critic of Trump to believe indictments for election fixing, insurrection promotion, and document theft are evidence he is potentially dangerous.

    Schmitz adds this:

    “For Mr. Trump’s detractors, such an open embrace of lawlessness confirms the danger he presents. But this understanding of his newfound criminal persona, a persona his legal opponents have helped to thrust upon him, overlooks something important: Mr. Trump may pose a threat to our political system as it now exists, but it is a threat animated by a democratic spirit. It is the threat of the outlaw hero, a figure of defiance with deep roots in American culture who exposes the injustices and hypocrisies of a corrupt system.”

    [JFC]

    […] Trump’s criminal persona is self-earned. He does not have “legal opponents”. He faces prosecutors doing their job — which includes amassing evidence against bad people until it is sufficient for a grand jury of regular Americans to indict.

    I will grant you that is not a high bar. But reaching a guilty verdict in a trial is. And I challenge Schmitz to identify a white billionaire the system has railroaded into an incorrect guilty verdict.

    Moving on. WTF does Schmitz mean by Trump being “animated by a democratic spirit”? Where is the evidence? And what is this “outlaw hero” vs. a “corrupt system” nonsense? Trump is the corrupt system.

    Next:

    “The outlaws in whose image Mr. Trump styles himself gained fame in the United States because they seemed to embody freedom and spontaneity, along with mistrust of authority and indifference to polite convention. They appealed to democratic impulses, however perversely.”

    Everybody loves a good, bad guy — in their fantasies. Many people pipe-dream of breaking free from the shackles of their routine. But who thinks Bonnie and Clyde were promoting democracy? And who believes Al Capone should have been president?

    After some obligatory puffery about Trump and Robin Hood being kindred spirits — supported by quotes from Sebastian Gorka and Lauren Boebert — Schmitz brings up another “hero” of the downtrodden.

    “Whether these outlaws did the good deeds attributed to them hardly matters, because the appeal of the outlaw hero rests on a deeper truth: When the authorities are regarded as corrupt and malevolent, people will celebrate those who defy them. Like Joaquín Murrieta, the 19th-century Mexican laborer working in California who, according to legend, responded to injustice by vowing that he “would live henceforth for revenge,” Mr. Trump has promised to avenge the downtrodden.

    [Sheesh!]

    Matt is blind to irony. If Murrieta lived today, Trump would have called the Sonora-born man a rapist, drug terrorist, and sex trafficker — and recommended his execution.

    There is more:

    “Mr. Trump’s embrace of an outlaw image marks a change on the American right. A political formation that once was committed to what Russell Kirk called the “defense of order” is now drawn to the most anarchic figures in our national mythology. The exchange of George Washington for Jesse James reflects the right’s growing alienation from America’s leading institutions.”

    Dear God, please make it stop. The right does not have a “growing alienation from America’s leading institutions.” They want to take those leading institutions — the courts, the DOJ, federal agencies, even the military — and staff them with hand-picked fellow travelers. [Correct]

    If Schmitz is unaware of the Federalist Society’s 40-year campaign to corrupt the criminal justice system, he is a moron. And I doubt he is a moron.

    Matt goes on:

    “But the break may not be as total as it seems. Even as Robin Hood defies the local sheriff, he maintains his loyalty to the king. He may humiliate the bishop, but he prays to the Virgin Mary. A similar combination of rebellion and reverence characterizes Mr. Trump’s attempt to run as an outlaw who will restore law and order.”

    [Eyebrows raised]

    Fantasy is what you embrace when reality does not support your desires. […]

    For all the hero worship, it was not the bandit — no matter how well-intentioned — who brought law to the masses in England. It was the steady spread of democracy and the creation of civic institutions that now protect the rights of the average Joan.

    The very institutions and democracy the autocratic Trump would corrupt.

    I understand that many MAGAs are simplistic thinkers — easily seduced by memes of their hero as a knight in shining armor — but the citizen should be able to rely on professional newspeople taking important subjects seriously.

    American political discourse suffers when the Times gives this fantastical nonsense its imprimatur.

    Link

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    China launches moon probe as space race with US heats up

    China launched an uncrewed lunar mission Friday that aims to bring back samples from the far side of the moon for the first time, in a potentially major step forward for the country’s ambitious space program.

    The Chang’e-6 probe – China’s most complex robotic lunar mission to date – blasted off on a Long March-5 rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan island, where space fans had gathered to watch the historic moment. The country’s National Space Administration said the launch was a success…

  9. says

    This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency. Oh for those halcyon days when America’s hair was longer, its pants were bigger, and its president was still capable of feeling a modicum of shame over all the goddamn crimes he had committed.

    What this also means is that we expect to see an uptick in wingnut media stories trying to convince the world that Nixon was not run out of office because he was a degenerate criminal […] but because he was an early victim of — duh-duh-duh — the Deep State.

    Yep, that’s the line Newsmax anchor […] Greg Kelly was running with on Thursday. Nixon, Deep State, Donald Trump — those are all words found somewhere in Kelly’s bullshit cyclone:

    “Sure, the Deep State, they can stop some men, some presidents. They stopped Richard Nixon 50 years ago this summer, 1974, August, that’s when Richard Nixon resigned. And, contrary to a lot of people, well, what they think they know about that, it wasn’t really Nixon. He didn’t do anything wrong. It was a Deep State plot to get him. Absolutely.”

    [Oh FFS]

    Yes yes, it was the Deep State that made Nixon conspire with John Haldeman to use the CIA to tell the FBI to back off the Watergate investigation and discuss million-dollar payoffs to the burglars with White House Counsel John Dean and then deny all of this publicly even though there were tapes of these conversations that the Supreme Court had to eventually order the president to release.

    We were under the impression from Donald Trump that the CIA and the FBI were part of the Deep State that worked against him? Yes? No? It’s all very confusing.

    We wonder what Kelly would say if anyone pointed out to him that conservative hero William F. Buckley pressured his brother, Sen. James Buckley, to push for Nixon to resign. And that James Buckley did that in a very public split from a president he had strongly supported. Wouldn’t that be a great example of the swamp conspiring against Nixon?

    Actually we don’t wonder what Kelly would say, because his brain is basically a rotted banana. That there aren’t flies buzzing around his head at all times should be considered a minor miracle.

    But the point of Kelly’s segment isn’t to retcon Richard Nixon as a victim of dark forces in Washington. The purpose of the whole thing is to give his god-king Donald Trump a verbal handy:

    “Richard Nixon on his way out the door, a totally broken man leaving office before they could impeach him. Meanwhile, Donald Trump the night of his impeachment, he didn’t run from office. In fact, getting impeached, he kind of liked it.”

    This rant is overlaid with pictures of Trump posing with a bunch of firemen he had brought pizza to at a New York City firehouse on Thursday night after his criminal trial adjourned for the day. You know, because Donald Trump isn’t a pansy like Richard Nixon […]

    Donald Trump will pardon himself, thank you very much, like the manly hunk of machismo he is.

    Other cool factoids we learned from this ahistorical nonsense:

    · J. Edgar Hoover was “a very flawed individual in some respects, but basically a patriot.” What respects would those be, one wonders, the use of the FBI to hound anyone he deemed un-American or the whole “being a secretly gay cross-dresser” thing?

    · Bob Woodward? CIA stooge who was used as an instrument of revenge because the Deep State was mad that Nixon went to China.

    · The CIA hounded Donald Trump for four years because their feelings were hurt because Trump told it like it is.

    · Islamophobia is a myth, like white supremacy […]

    […].

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/richard-nixon-was-cowed-by-deep-state

  10. says

    Hope Hicks Breaks Down On Stand After Giving Damaging Testimony Against Trump

    Longtime Trump communications director Hope Hicks broke down sobbing on the witness stand on Friday.

    It came minutes after Hicks delivered a particularly damning round of testimony against Trump, and just as Trump defense attorney Emil Bove opened cross-examination.

    Hicks had finished testifying about an apparent lie that Trump told her during his presidency.

    In 2018, the Wall Street Journal had published an article revealing that Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 to remain silent about her tryst with Trump; Michael Cohen followed up by telling the New York Times that he made the payment out of the kindness of his heart, and kept it secret in a bid to protect Trump.

    Hicks told prosecutor Matthew Colangelo that she spoke with Trump about the issue, and that he reiterated the version of the story that Cohen told: “he did it out of the kindness of his own heart and he never told anyone about it,” Trump said, per Hicks.

    Colangelo followed up, asking Hicks first how long she had known Cohen at that point, and whether it was consistent with her understanding of his character.

    “I didn’t know Michael to be an especially charitable person or selfless person,” she replied after saying she’d known him for 3.5 years. “The kind of person who seeks credit.”

    Colangelo followed up with two more questions: whether Trump said anything else about the payment, and if he expressed any thoughts about the timing of news reports on the issue.

    On the first, Hicks testified, Trump said he thought it “was a generous thing to do” and that “he was appreciative of the loyalty.”

    But it was Hicks’ testimony on the second question which both drove home the damage to Trump, and which concluded direct examination.

    She said that Trump wanted to know her opinion about the story, and what its value would have been had the payment not been made. Trump, she said, said he believed that it was better to deal with it in 2018 – years after the 2016 election.

    That testimony, from a longtime member of Trump’s inner circle, buttressed prosecutors’ case that Trump intended to subvert campaign finance laws by falsifying business records to cover up reimbursements to Cohen. Hicks laid out in a few minutes that she did not find the idea that Cohen did it on his own to be credible, and that Trump believed it benefitted his campaign to have kept the story out of the news.

    It came after hours in which Hicks gave very controlled testimony, trying hard at moments to make positive remarks about her time with Trump. At one point, she said that Trump was worried about how Melania would react to the revelation about the affair with Karen McDougal; at another, she described the reactions to the Access Hollywood tape in the forced, neutral language of corporate crisis communications. It was a “damaging development,” she said, eliciting “sharp language” from GOP leaders.

    Some of them called on Trump to resign over the tape; others, like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), exhibited less specific disapproval. Of Trump’s reaction to the criticism, Hicks subtly put the blame on his fellow Republicans while suggesting that the situation was typical: “I think he was frustrated, but it was not unusual to have any of those individuals speaking out and saying negative things about Mr. Trump, especially in response to controversy. That was pretty typical.”

    Hicks maintained that restraint throughout her testimony. But after Colangelo ended his questioning and Emil Bove, a Trump defense attorney, began his, things changed.

    Bove began to ask Hicks for basic biographical details, including her time working for the Trump organization. She turned her head to one side and began to sob, picking up a tissue to dab the tears away from her face.

    Judge Merchan excused her for several minutes. Bove completed his cross examination later on Friday.

    Some people who talk about Trump do have tears streaming from their eyes.

    Some of Hope Hick’s testimony was not damaging. She tried to paint Trump in a favorable light when she could.

  11. says

    Oh, FFS.

    At some point during the COVID pandemic, tech millionaire Steve Kirsch went from donating to progressive causes, supporting Democratic politicians and funding the search for a cure to being a top anti-vaccine misinformation spreader who hangs out with Steve Bannon. He’s been on that jag since then, writing a wacky anti-vax blog with entries about “turbo cancer” and funding RFK’s presidential campaign.

    Recently he decided that perhaps vaccines are responsible for the fact that there seem to be more gay, trans and nonbinary people around these days. You know, other than people stopped feeling like they had to hide who they are. So he decided to take a survey of the people who read his blog, in order to determine whether or not his theory was true or not.

    Yesterday, he published the results of this very scientific survey in a post titled “Survey indicates sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender dysphoria are all primarily caused by vaccination.”

    And boy, is he ever sure of his results!

    Thanks to your help in responding to my last survey, it took less than 3 hours to answer the question as to whether sexual orientation, gender identity and gender dysphoria are influenced by vaccines.

    The answer to all three is yes: the greater someone is vaccinated, the more likely they are to exhibit each of these traits.

    For all three measures, the odds ratios were 4.8 or higher which means that the attributable fraction is 79.2%.

    In other words, vaccines are responsible for nearly 80% of the effect size.

    So the mystery is over. We now know the cause.

    Now, there is a reason [that surveyors] pick random samples of people, rather than just survey a bunch of folks who all read the same weird conspiracy blog about how vaccines are bad and scary. Or any blog, really! Like, if we ran an opinion poll asking you guys who you were going to vote for come November, the data for that might be a little skewed.

    So here’s how it went. People could fill out the survey for themselves or others — family, friends, someone they ran into at the grocery store. They were asked to estimate what percentage of vaccines they or the other person had received, which seems like a less than precise measure […]

    You can see you this could go a little awry! There are a lot of people just there saying, more or less, “Yes, I know an LGBTQ+ person who was vaccinated!”

    […] Now, I don’t mean to rain on Kirsch’s data parade, but if nearly all of the country has had their required vaccines, it would stand to reason that nearly all LGBTQ+ were also vaccinated. Therefore, there can’t be any causation. There’s not even any correlation. You may as well say that vaccine causes heterosexuality, because the majority of straight people are also vaccinated .

    […] I have to thank Kirsch for sharing the actual data from his survey, largely because it is hilarious and the “notes” section is a goldmine.

    First, you’ve got a whole lot of people people who are just mad because their LGBTQ+ liberal friends and relatives don’t want to talk to them anymore, because of how they are bigots.

    “We are estranged from our daughter because of the politics of the LGBTQ community turning her mind against us. Therefore I am not sure how many shots she has gotten. I answered 25-75% because we had her get all the childhood vaccinations. All three of our kids developed almost immediately Tourette Syndromex [sic] ASD, ADHD, anxiety. OCD, PDD, and ODD. Medications during their school years only served to trigger new unwanted conditions.

    […] what do any of those diagnoses have to do with gender or sexuality?

    Grandparent reporting. Not allowed contact due to our unwillingness to adopt new name and pronouns. As a result not sure about some answers. But this child is mildly autistic and was bullied at school. Received C19 vax and went downhill from there.

    […]

    This child has always been a very picky eater. He had bad thrush at birth which did not respond to natural treatments and we ended up using mercurochrome.

    […] Several appear to have had their timelines mixed up and are just naming gay or trans people they know who got the COVID vaccine, we assume, well after they came out.

    My kind and gentle daughter was groomed at St Michael’s College Burlington, VT to identify as a lesbian and be the first Gender Studies Major in the school’s history. She was also gullible enough to receive at least 3 Covid Vaccines!

    […] Many of them just used it to vent about gay or trans people in general.

    […] Others were just straight up unhinged.

    You need to separate the many layers of Simulacra that’s been casted over your mind from the simulation you are incubating within and come back to the first principles of what’s actually unfolding for humanity. That’s where you’ll find your answers. Even more fundamental, you’ll be able to innovate the solution to this whole global mess that all parts of power are fighting for control of. Sincerely, We The Screamers

    And this person who … boy, I don’t know.

    […]

    Chemtrails may play a role in either mRNA levels, or graphene, aluminum, strontium, barium levels. Very difficult to avoid nano-scale particles.

    […] We have decided to conduct our own scientifically accurate poll, to determine whether people who have been vaccinated prefer dogs or cats. Surely, this will produce some fascinating and accurate results!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/can-vaccines-give-you-the-gay-an

  12. says

    Inside the Christian TV show rallying Trump superfans with apocalyptic warnings

    “FlashPoint” has gained influence on the Christian right by portraying Donald Trump as a singular leader anointed by God to save America.

    The audience of about 1,500 people waved small American flags and chanted “USA! USA! USA!” as television cameras began filming last Friday inside a Regent University ballroom. Many in the crowd wore red “Make America Great Again” hats. Some carried Bibles.

    They had paid $60 each to attend a live taping of “FlashPoint,” a national TV program that’s won loyal viewers with a unique blend of pro-Trump political commentary and prophetic messages about God’s divine plans for America.

    Over the next three hours, the audience heard the same overarching message that “FlashPoint” broadcasts three times a week on the Victory Channel television network and various streaming platforms: The world has entered its final years. Jesus will soon return. But Christians are not meant to wait idly while evil runs rampant; they are called to occupy positions of power and influence in society. And in the short term, that means putting Donald Trump back in the White House.

    […] Launched in 2020 and hosted by pastor Gene Bailey, “FlashPoint” at times looks and sounds like other right-wing cable programs. But unlike Fox News hosts, the rotating panel of conservative pastors and commentators on “FlashPoint” pepper their political analysis with messages that they say come directly from God.

    Viewers hear regularly from Lance Wallnau, a self-described prophet known for popularizing the Seven Mountains Mandate, a philosophy increasingly embraced on the right that says Christians are called to claim positions of power atop seven key “mountains” of society, including government, education, business and media. […]

    In a January broadcast, pastor Hank Kunneman, another “FlashPoint” mainstay, said the Lord told him that 2024 would be a year of “divine reckoning” and “vengeance against the wicked.” In the months since, the show has portrayed the presidential election as a spiritual clash while depicting Trump as a flawed leader — like a modern King David — who’s been anointed by God to save the nation.

    The show draws a monthly cable TV audience of roughly 11,000 households, according to Comscore data, while clips of the program reach hundreds of thousands more viewers online. With a rabid following, it has “become incredibly popular and even gravitational” on the Christian right, said Matthew Taylor, a senior scholar at the nonprofit Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies in Maryland. Trump is one of several prominent Republicans who have appeared as guests on “FlashPoint,” including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA.

    […] Trump has embraced elements of this framing, warning in speeches that the left wants “to tear down crosses” and promising that his return to office would restore Christian power. He also has promised to eliminate the Johnson Amendment, a rarely enforced federal law that prohibits nonprofit foundations and religious organizations — including the one that operates the Victory Channel — from endorsing political candidates.

    […] “FlashPoint” has called on pastors to start preaching a pro-Trump message on Sunday mornings.

    […] “There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus. Every war he wages he will win.”

    Moments later, the conversation on stage shifted back to politics and the urgent need to mobilize local churches to get out the evangelical vote and re-elect Trump in November.

    This seamless weaving of immersive religious expressions, apocalyptic preaching and right-wing political organizing worries some religion and extremism experts, including Onishi, who pointed to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as evidence of what can happen when people come to believe a candidate has been chosen by God. There’s long been a strain of American evangelicalism that portrays current events as signs of the coming apocalypse. But tying the fate of humanity to a particular candidate is “something new and novel in modern U.S. history,” Onishi said.

    Several attendees at Regent University — a private Christian college founded by the late televangelist Pat Robertson — said the show’s blending of prophecy and bare-knuckle politics is what they love most about “FlashPoint.”

    […] After hearing MyPillow founder Mike Lindell at another “FlashPoint” taping discuss his debunked theory about rigged voting machines corrupting the 2020 election, the Paweleks said they decided to become election precinct chairs in Caddo County, Oklahoma.

    […] Several other attendees, citing their distrust of mainstream news, which “FlashPoint” routinely depicts as a tool of Satan, declined to share their names with an NBC News reporter, who bought a ticket to attend the taping. One woman, invoking Wallnau’s Seven Mountains teachings, prayed that the journalist would become an ambassador for God in the media mountain.

    Back inside, the final hour of the program focused on the presidential election. The panelists criticized conservative Christians on the fence about voting for Trump […]

    Wallnau, comparing Trump to King Solomon, a biblical figure renowned for his wisdom, said the former president was deploying a complex political strategy that would, over time, deliver major victories for conservative Christians, including on abortion.

    Nodding in agreement, Green, the Patriot Academy founder, said […] “If you are so self-righteous as to think, ‘I’m not going to vote for the man because he’s not perfect,’” Green told the audience, “you are helping the destruction of America.”

    Pastor Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, acknowledged that he initially didn’t support Trump in 2016. But he said God opened his eyes. Suarez then referred to what he described as a prophecy that says “a certain president” would come to fully embrace Jesus “in a second term.”

    “I’m just praying that in that second term,” Suarez said of Trump, his voice raising to a crescendo, “that that Holy Ghost fire will get a hold of him, and we’re going to see something great happen.”

    The FlashPoint Army was now back on their feet, hands in air and cheering as Suarez completed his prayer for Trump and for America.

    “In Jesus’ name!”

    Photos at the link.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 1

    Can the world just be less fucked and better please? Please?

    Democrats: “GASP! AN ACCELERATIONIST!!!!”

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    Republicans file lawsuit to block count of Nevada mail ballots received after Election Day

    The Republican National Committee on Friday filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Nevada from counting mail ballots received after Election Day, as the state’s law currently permits.

    The law, passed by Democrats in 2021, permits the tallying of mail ballots received up to four days after Election Day, provided the envelopes are postmarked before the end of the day. The lawsuit says the provision also assumes that envelopes received three days after Election Day that don’t have a postmark indicating otherwise were posted in time.

    Republicans contend this violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that there be a single day for Election Day…

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hundreds of thousands of fish die off in Vietnam as heatwave roasts Southeast Asia

    A mass fish die-off in a reservoir in southern Vietnam’s Dong Nai province has shone a new light on soaring temperatures in Southeast Asia.

    Fishermen have been working to wade through and collect the hundreds of thousands of dead fish that have blanketed the 300-hectare Song May reservoir amid a ferocious heatwave.

    Intense drought swept through Vietnam’s south in April as temperatures soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving farmers struggling to keep their crops alive…

  16. StevoR says

    In a week when gendered violence has been headlining the news becuase just so many murders of women by their partners in Oz :

    WARNING : Sexual assault references.

    Queensland Labor MP Brittany Lauga has alleged she was drugged and sexually assaulted in the central Queensland town of Yeppoon last weekend.In a statement posted on social media Ms Lauga said she had contacted police in the early hours of Sunday morning. “Tests at the hospital confirmed the presence of drugs in my body which I did not take. This substance impacted me significantly,” she said. The member for Keppel also wrote that throughout the week she had been contacted by a number of other women with similar experiences from the town. “This could have happened to anyone and tragically, it does happen to many of us,” she said.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-04/qlb-labor-mp-britanny-lauga-sexual-assault-claims-yeppoon/103804666

  17. StevoR says

    Plasmascape maybe the better word?

    A video to show what the Sun looks like close up in various stages, has been uploaded by the European Space Agency, (ESA). The video was recorded on September 27, 2023 by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on the Solar Orbiter. At the time, the spacecraft was at roughly a third of the Earth’s distance from the Sun, heading for a closest approach of 43 million kilometres on October 7, ESA said on its website. The ESA said on the same day the “ever-changing landscape” video of the Sun was recorded, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe skimmed just 7.26 million km from the solar surface.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-04/video-of-suns-surface-shows-coronal-moss-and-rain/103804646

  18. StevoR says

    WARNING Gendered partner violence references

    Alison Scott’s beloved sister Jessica was murdered by her husband five years ago. On Tuesday, she will be one of several women who have lost female family members to violence who will speak to a national crisis roundtable in Canberra dealing with the shocking rate of murders of women in Australia. It will be notable for being primarily a meeting of people who work in the area, rather than politicians and bureaucrats. But it is also one of many meetings going on right now as politicians are pushed to finally do something serious to protect women at immediate risk and, hopefully, reduce the numbers who find themselves in that situation.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-04/domestic-violence-funding-albanese-national-crisis/103800746

  19. StevoR says

    Recent reports of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) detecting signs of life of a distant planet outside the solar system are, unfortunately, somewhat premature. That’s the conclusion of research conducted by scientists from the University of California Riverside (UCR). While likely to disappoint all of us eager for the confirmation of extraterrestrial life, however, it doesn’t mean the JWST won’t find traces of life in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet, or “exoplanet,” in the future.

    The recent excitement around the potential detection of life signs on an exoplanet started in 2023 when the JWST detected potential “biosignature” elements in the atmosphere of the exoplanet K2-18 b, a super-Earth located around 120 light-years from Earth.

    Source : https://www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-life-earth-exoplanet-study

    Plus another article on the Eta Aquarid meteor shower here : https://www.space.com/eta-aquarid-meteor-shower-2024-peak-halleys-comet

    As well, be prepared for what might come from this :

    https://www.space.com/two-solar-flares-erupt-within-six-hours-may-2024-video

    Which may be good news if you’re looking for aurarae but less good if there’s solar impacts on satellites, etc..

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    Texas man takes legal action against ex-partner who travelled to Colorado for abortion

    A Texas woman who travelled out of the state to get an abortion is being threatened with legal action by her ex-boyfriend, who also wants to target those who helped her.

    The unnamed woman reportedly sought the abortion, legally, in Colorado in late February and when her ex-partner Collin Davis found out about her plans, he retained anti-abortion attorney Jonathan Mitchell.

    The lawyer threatened a full investigation, The Washington Post reported, should the woman proceed with the abortion — which she did.

    “People need to understand that it is not a crime to leave Texas or any other state in the country for an abortion,” Molly Duane, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the Post…

    My internal example is gambling in Nevada, back when it was illegal in many other states. If you gamble somewhere where gambling is legal, it is not a crime.

  21. Reginald Selkirk says

    Judge denies ex-Trump election lawyer John Eastman’s request to reactivate law license while he fights disbarment

    An attorney discipline judge in California has rejected a request from ex-Trump election lawyer John Eastman to reactivate his law license following her recent recommendation that he be disbarred, which rendered him unable to practice law for now.

    Eastman, who devised a multi-step plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election and was part of the effort to appoint fake electors in several states, wants to keep practicing law so he can represent clients and pay his own legal bills as he fights criminal charges stemming from the 2020 election efforts.

    Judge Yvette Roland, who oversees state bar proceedings in California, recommended in March that Eastman be disbarred for his election subversion efforts. His license was immediately revoked while the ethics proceedings continue.

    The California Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether to endorse or reject Roland’s recommendation to disbar Eastman…

  22. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cops Force Twitch Streamer to Apologize for Calling Russians ‘Yokels’

    A 27-year-old Twitch streamer was hunted down by cops in the Russian city of Krasnodar and forced to issue a public apology for saying Ukrainians are better looking than Russians.

    Olga Kasyanenko, a native of Ukraine’s Donetsk region who relocated to Krasnodar a few years ago, was also fined nearly $1,000 for supposedly “discrediting” the Russian military with her comments, regional police said in a press release…

  23. Reginald Selkirk says

    2 new COVID variants called ‘FLiRT’ are spreading in the U.S. What are the symptoms?

    Respiratory virus season may be ending in the United States, but a new group of COVID-19 variants are circulating, sparking concerns about a potential summer wave.

    The family of variants, nicknamed “FLiRT,” after their mutations, include KP.2, which is now the dominant variant in the United States. In recent weeks, KP.2 quickly overtook JN.1, the omicron subvariant that drove a surge in COVID cases this past winter…

  24. Reginald Selkirk says

    New memory demoed running at 600 degrees Celsius for 60 hours

    A new type of memory has been demonstrated running at an astounding 600C for over 60 hours. Non-volatile ferroelectric diode (ferrodiode) memory devices can offer outstanding heat resistance and other properties that should enable cutting-edge data and extreme environment computing, claim researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in a Nature Electronics article, A scalable ferroelectronic non-volatile memory operating at 600°C…

  25. Reginald Selkirk says

    Decades in the Making: Laser Excites Atomic Nucleus in Groundbreaking Discovery

    For the first time, lasers have successfully excited the “thorium transition,” a process long pursued by researchers. This breakthrough sets the stage for groundbreaking advancements in high-precision technologies, such as nuclear clocks.

    Physicists have eagerly anticipated this breakthrough: scientists globally have spent years searching for a specific state of thorium atomic nuclei that could lead to groundbreaking technological advancements.

    It could be used, for example, to build an nuclear clock that could measure time more precisely than the best atomic clocks available today. It could also be used to answer completely new fundamental questions in physics – for example, the question of whether the constants of nature are actually constant or whether they change in space and time.

    Now this hope has come true: the long-sought thorium transition has been found, its energy is now known exactly. For the first time, it has been possible to use a laser to transfer an atomic nucleus into a state of higher energy and then precisely track its return to its original state. This makes it possible to combine two areas of physics that previously had little to do with each other: classical quantum physics and nuclear physics. A crucial prerequisite for this success was the development of special thorium-containing crystals. A research team led by Prof. Thorsten Schumm from TU Wien (Vienna) has now published this success together with a team from the National Metrology Institute Braunschweig (PTB) in the journal Physical Review Letters…

  26. says

    Good economic news, as reported by The New York Times:

    “This is the jobs report the Fed would have scripted,” said Seema Shah, chief global strategist at Principal Asset Management.

    Federal Reserve officials have been looking for further evidence that their interest rate increases over the past two years are weighing on the economy and job market, and Friday’s employment report roundly provided that signal.

    That moderation came as job gains slowed, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly and average weekly hours nudged down. The overall picture was one of a labor market that remains solid but is gradually slowing — exactly what officials at the Fed have been looking for.

    The decline in the Black unemployment rate that Tal flagged earlier is very encouraging. Black workers have historically been among the first to lose their jobs in an economic downturn — as the late economist William Spriggs often said, they are the “canary in the coal mine” for the broader economy

    On first blush, this report shows exactly the sort of slowing Biden was talking about two years ago — a drop in the pace of job creation but not a huge one, without any corresponding jump in the unemployment rate. It looks like a good report for the president.

    Investors are welcoming signs of a cooling labor market, sending S&P 500 futures rising.

  27. says

    A followup of sorts to comment 31.

    Washington Post:

    […] marks the 27th consecutive month that the unemployment rate was below 4 percent. This was previously recorded during a low-unemployment period between 1967 to 1970 and the longest period on record between 1951 to 1953.

    The labor market is still going strong even if it’s a slowdown,” said Andrew Flowers, chief economist at Appcast, a firm that helps companies recruit online. “One-hundred-and-seventy-five thousand jobs is more than enough to absorb the workers in this market and you can see that with the [low] unemployment rate.”

    In welcome news for economists looking to see broader job gains across industries, warehousing and transportation appears to be on the rebound, adding 22,000 jobs, after seeing a major slowdown after the e-commerce expansion during the pandemic.

  28. Rob Grigjanis says

    Reginald Selkirk @30:

    This breakthrough sets the stage for groundbreaking advancements in high-precision technologies, such as nuclear clocks.

    The kind of breathless overstatement seen far too often in pop sci articles.

    …to operate an ultraprecise nuclear clock, the precision of the laser frequency that controls the clock transition has to be improved by at least 6 orders of magnitude. Doing so will be difficult…

    https://physics.aps.org/articles/v17/71

  29. says

    Did Thursday’s court go great for Donald John Trump? : He didn’t get sent to Rikers for contempt, but by the end of the day, #VonShitzInPants was entered into the court record and trending on Twitter.

    Thursday afternoon he also stood in front of the courthouse to lie, “I’m not allowed to testify because this judge is totally conflicted — has me under an institutional gag order. Nobody’s ever had that before, and we don’t like it, it’s not fair!” while Todd Blanche nodded beside him, which seems maybe a little unethical.

    […] And things got still worse for him. After Keith Davidson stepped down from the stand, we were reminded that Cohen recorded all of his interactions with the scumbags in his orbit, sensing the wheels of the Trump bus at his heels. Cohen’s recordings were entered into evidence, so you can listen to them yourself, and sample them into a remix with a four-on-the-floor beat and some airhorns.

    After court Thursday, Trump also found time to do a photo op, pretending to deliver pizzas to a firehouse, while down in Florida, Ivanka and Jared went to Carbone, and the other family members who couldn’t be bothered to show up for him in court partied on his dime at Mar-a-Lago with Jon Secada (or at least a guy who looks a lot like him), because every night is New Year’s Eve at the Overlook Hotel.

    Oh, and Trump violated the gag order again, reposting a video from Steve Bannon with [Rudy Giuliani’s] son Andrew Giuliani, who was “just pointing out the fact that the judge’s daughter has profited to the tune of $90 million. That’s right. Over $90 million from Adam Schiff, Kamala Harris, and other leftists.” Complete lie, of course. Throw that contempt on his pile!

    Friday Morning

    Maybe Friday would go better? No such luck! Zero family members in court, just Boris Epshteyn joined by Jason Miller, that guy who allegedly put abortion pills in his mistress’s smoothie and then got her sidelined from her White House job for being pregnant (Kellyanne Conway was recently deposed for her ongoing lawsuit).

    Judge Juan Merchan started off Friday by calling bullshit on Trump’s whinings and lyings that he is not “allowed” to testify and made it clear it’s his constitutional right […] Will Trump actually do it? It would be wildly dumb, and also he’s just that crazy, so maybe.

    Then it was back to the stand for forensic analyst Doug Daus, who authenticated the extraction from Michel Cohen’s phone, with Emil Bove desperately trying to argue that the recording of Trump saying “So, what do we got to pay for this? 150?” was fake, or tampered with, somehow, even though there was no evidence of that.

    Trump started dozing off again.

    Next up, Georgia Longstreet, a paralegal at the DA’s office in Manhattan with the Augean job of reviewing Trump’s social media posts. She reads off some of his greatest hits, like the apology video after the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped. Trump apologizing for something, those were the days: “Anyone who knows me knows this doesn’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize. This is a distraction. I’ve said some foolish things. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has intimidated his victims.” Also various denials about his affairs: “Made up events that never happened.” “Totally phoney [sic] stories.” “100% made up by women.” “I did NOTHING wrong in the ‘horseface’ case,” and finally, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU.”

    And now the third witness for today, and OH BOY, IT’S HOPE HICKS, or as Trump used to call her, “GET IN HERE!”

    […] You remember her, the “Trump whisperer”! Former teen model, her dad was CEO of the Americas for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. She got a job with Trump at 26 with no political experience at all, and she rose to the position of White House press secretary after the departure of The Mooch. Top-tier enterprise that they were running!

    Hicks was his longest-serving peon, and she followed him everywhere, […] sitting within shouting distance of his office, attending meetings, and always spinning his lies, no matter how ridiculous they were. She didn’t even date outside of the White House, preferring to get with wife-haver Corey Lewandowski, who’s 15 years her senior and has been married since 2005, and wife-beater Rob Porter.

    When she arrived on the stand Trump woke up again, and started glaring at her, whispering and passing notes to Todd Blanche like a catty teenager.

    Hope told the court she was nervous, and also that she’s retained her own counsel (smart). But nail, meet coffin. She corroborated the prosecution timeline (oof!) and how Trump knew and approved of everything that went on and everyone else just “followed his lead” (double oof!), that both of them were corresponding with Cohen and Pecker, and that his frantic-ness to deny the creepo stories that started coming out about him was all about the campaign. Though after he was elected and the Stormy story came out she says he did ask her to intercept the newspapers from Melania. Physical newspapers, what are those?

    Hope claimed she didn’t recall seeing AMI head David Pecker at Trump Tower, though it was possible she did (and don’t worry, because Lordy, there are tapes!), but she remembers phone calls, like Pecker on speaker phone where Trump “congratulated” him about “the great reporting” on Ben Carson’s medical malpractice accusations, which Trump called “Pulitzer worthy,” and again to praise him for that made-up hit piece about Ted Cruz’s dad killing JFK, LOL.

    Then, October 7, 2016, shit meet fan, it’s the “Access Hollywood” tape! A Washington Post reporter emailed the campaign for comment about his[P-word] grabbing remarks, which sent campaign staff to DEFCON 1. “I forwarded the email to Steve Bannon, David Bossie, Kellyanne Conway, Jason Miller.” Speak of the devil! “There was consensus amongst us all that the tape was damaging and this was a crisis,” though Trump was more chill about it. “Trump felt like it was not a big deal, ‘not anything to get so upset over,’ ‘pretty standard stuff for two guys.’”

    In a world full of wife-beaters, multiple-mistress-havers and anti-abortion-abortion-smoothie makers presided over by a rapist, guess so! Hicks texted her co-workers, “DENY, DENY, DENY.”

    PROSECUTOR MATTHEW COLANGELO: What was the media response?

    HICKS: It was intense. It dominated the news cycle until the debate. News about a Category 4 hurricane fell away.

    PROSECUTOR: Did prominent Republicans condemn Mr. Trump?

    HICKS: Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, the usual group.

    PROSECUTOR: Did Paul Ryan disinvite Mr. Trump from a campaign event in Wisconsin?

    BOVE: Objection!

    MERCHAN: Overruled.

    PROSECUTOR: Did Mr. Ryan say he was sickened by Mr. Trump?

    HICKS: Sounds like something he would say.

    PROSECUTOR: And Mitch McConnell — does this refresh your recollection?

    HICKS: He said it was repugnant and unacceptable.

    Moral indignation from Republicans, those were the days.

    PROSECUTOR: Had you heard of Karen McDougal?

    HICKS: I heard in November 2016.

    PROSECUTOR: And Stormy Daniels?

    HICKS: In 2015, about a celebrity golf tournament. After I got the email from the WSJ [on November 4, 2016] I thought maybe through Rupert Mudoch we could buy some time. I forwarded it to Jared Kushner, he had a relationship.

    Rupert didn’t stop his presses to save him, though, weird!

    Trump started closing his eyes again.

    Hope rang up David Pecker, who told her it was all kosher. “I asked what was going on, why was I receiving this email. He explained that Karen McDougal was paid for magazine covers and fitness columns and that it was all very legitimate and that was what the contract was for.” Totally legal, totally cool.

    Hope called up Michael Cohen, who vetted her denial: “Instead … say: These accusations are completely untrue and just the latest despicable attempt by the liberal media and the Clinton machine to distract the public from the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation into Secretary Clinton and her closest associates.” He added, “I don’t see it getting much play. It’s getting little to no traction.” Which was unfortunately true, with four days to go before the election, there was plenty more bullshit making headlines than a below-the-fold story from the WSJ.

    All of this must have been hitting hard, because Trump punched out an all-caps screed during lunch. [Screen grab at the link]

    And Hope testified that she and Trump rang up Pecker together. A simple media strategy was devised, DENY EVERYTHING. Trump told her that Michael Cohen “paid this woman to protect him from a false allegation from the kindness of his own heart, and that he didn’t tell anyone that it happened.” But Hope didn’t buy it. “He [Cohen] was not charitable.”

    Emil Bove got up for the cross, asking Hope if the Trump Organization created the communications position for her, which touched a nerve, and Hope teared up and started to cry, but pulled herself together after a quick break.

    BOVE: Then for the campaign, in 2015-’16, Mr. Cohen wasn’t part of the campaign, right?

    HICKS: He would try to insert himself.

    BOVE: He went rogue at times?

    HICKS: He did. He liked to call himself a fixer — only because he first broke it (laughs).

    Laugh laugh laugh, but Michael Cohen wasn’t the one dicking around coast to coast, and you sure seemed to like him just fine when you were calling him all the time and co-signing his lies […]

    With that, trial was done for the week. Sounds pretty bad for Trump, but it only takes one crazy juror. What are the chances that in any given group of 12 New Yorkers, one of them is nuts? Just saying.

    Until next time!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/pants-presser-pressed-its-hope-hicks

  30. says

    Rob @33, I agree.

    In other news: Who were the ‘outsiders’ at Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall?

    Those taken into custody included a former animal abuse investigator who was arrested in a violent protest in San Francisco nearly 20 years ago.

    When James Carlson was arrested inside Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall, he was already under investigation for snatching an Israeli flag out of a man’s hand near campus and setting it on fire.

    That wasn’t the first time Carlson, who has no affiliation with Columbia, had run afoul of the law. He was arrested in San Francisco in 2005 during a violent protest organized by an anarchist group, according to a senior law enforcement official.

    The 40-year-old animal rights lawyer is among the group of “professional outsiders” cast by the New York City police department and mayor as having a significant role in the takeover of Hamilton Hall.

    Large, drawn-out protests like the one at Columbia have a tendency to attract people with a diffuse set of ideologies and motivations, experts say. Roughly 30% of those arrested at Hamilton Hall on Tuesday had no affiliation with the school, according to university officials.

    But while there is no doubt that the occupation of the building amounted to a dramatic escalation in tactics, it remains unclear how large an influence outsiders like Carlson have had on the overall student protest movement at Columbia and nearby colleges, which began more than two weeks ago.

    Some of the student protesters think the narrative pushed by city and university officials — of dangerous outsiders co-opting the demonstrations — is fueled by ulterior motives.

    “I really struggle a lot with the whole narrative of outside agitators because I see it as a means through which to justify violence,” Soph Askanse, a junior at the neighboring Barnard College, said in an interview. “And to claim that because individuals are not students, they are thus deserving of police brutality.”

    Rory Wilson, 22, a Columbia senior who did not participate in the protests, offered a different take.

    After midnight on Tuesday, Wilson and a friend placed themselves outside a Hamilton Hall door for several minutes to prevent the protesters from barricading it shut. Video footage released by the city showed a 63-year-old activist named Lisa Fithian at the center of the action, directing the protesters on how to barricade the doors and referring to Wilson and his friend as “assholes.”

    “She was right in the middle of it, instructing them how to better set up the barricades,” said Wilson, who has Jewish heritage but is not a practicing Jew. “Given that the barricades were a pretty central part of the plan of how to take over Hamilton, I’d expect that she would have been pretty central in the logistics planning.”

    Fithian, who has not responded to requests for comment, was not among those arrested on Tuesday.

    […] A total of 46 people have been charged with trespassing in connection with the building’s occupation, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

    At least 13 of them had no affiliation with the university, a Columbia spokesperson said. The rest included at least 14 Columbia undergraduates, nine graduate students and two employees. Six others were students from affiliated schools, the university spokesman said. […]

    More at the link.

  31. Reginald Selkirk says

    Boxer Ryan Garcia tests positive for PEDs, suggests Trump support made him a target

    Boxer Ryan Garcia, who recently endorsed Donald Trump, tested positive twice for performance-enhancing drugs according to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.

    Garcia denied using steroids, attributing the positive test to a supplement and suggesting it was an “attack” due to his Trump support.

    The boxer’s denials and deflections in response to the doping allegations echo Trumpian tactics, including pushing conspiracy theories and questioning the motives of those reporting the news.

  32. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #29…
    I’d say it squints. Nikola Tesla was a real person, so naming a company after him shouldn’t lock up to the name.

  33. tomh says

    Nevada is one of 19 states that count mail-in votes received from 3 to 7 days after election day as long as they are postmarked by election day. (Well, in Utah they must be postmarked the day before election day.) But, with about twice as many Dems as Republicans voting by mail, we get this.

    The NEVADA INDEPENDENT:
    Trump campaign sues Nevada for accepting mail ballots that trickle in after Election Day
    Tabitha Mueller / May 3rd, 2024

    The Trump campaign and its allies filed a lawsuit Friday challenging a Nevada law allowing elections officials to accept mail ballots for up to four business days after Election Day, as long as they are postmarked before polls close.

    The lawsuit alleges that the four-day period for mail ballots to be received violates federal law because it does not conform to the Election Day deadline established by the federal government. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, which include the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party, argue that the law establishing the ballot timeline is therefore “unlawful and must be enjoined.”

    “The result of Nevada’s violation of federal law is that timely, valid ballots are diluted by untimely, invalid ballots, which violates the rights of candidates, campaigns, and voters under federal law,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal district court in Nevada.
    […]

    Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar said in a statement that the secretary of state’s office will not comment on ongoing litigation, “but I hope the RNC is putting as much time and energy into educating voters on how to participate in elections as they put into suing the state of Nevada.”
    […]

  34. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump being on trial charms only his voters. Stop saying it helps him

    To the Editor: It has grown tiresome hearing pundits from the right and left suggest that former President Trump will score points with voters as a result of being a criminal defendant in numerous trials. (“Prosecutors seek more sanctions for Trump as key witness resumes testimony in hush money trial,” May 2)

    Which voters will be impressed with someone who shows contempt for the rule of law, sounds more like a wannabe dictator than a president, and exudes the personal charm of a deadly rattlesnake?

    President Biden’s voters will not be impressed, and Trump voters will think it’s super keen. Those roughly 10% of voters who are in the middle or undecided — what about them?

    Who in their right mind would vote for a lawless insurrectionist? I am confident those in the middle will, by well over 50%, pull the lever for Biden, so we can be rid of this narcissist masquerading as a presidential candidate.

    Rich Ellison, Santa Barbara

  35. birgerjohansson says

    Regonald Selkirk @ 45
    To supplement my own comment @ 46, the one category where Trump is surging are people who literally do not bother with following news and – this is significant- do not bother to vote !

    This does not mean Biden will automatically win, but it is an encouraging data point.

  36. Reginald Selkirk says

    @47: I think polls are fundamentally broken, so I am not particularly concerned with what polls tell us.

  37. Reginald Selkirk says

    A driver dies after crashing into a security barrier around the White House complex, authorities say

    A driver died after a vehicle crashed into an outer perimeter gate of the White House complex, and the incident late Saturday was being investigated as a traffic crash, police said. President Joe Biden was spending the weekend in Delaware, and the Secret Service said there was no threat to the White House.

    The male driver, who was not immediately identified, was found dead in the vehicle following the crash shortly before 10:30 p.m., according to a Secret Service statement…

  38. Reginald Selkirk says

    Al Jazeera office raided as Israel takes channel off air

    Israel’s government has moved to shut down the operations of the Al Jazeera television network in the country, branding it a mouthpiece for Hamas.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cabinet agreed to the closure while the war in Gaza is ongoing.

    Police raided the Qatari broadcaster’s office at the Ambassador hotel in Jerusalem on Sunday…

  39. Reginald Selkirk says

    Who will be dumb enough to become Donald Trump’s vice president?

    Rex Huppke, USA TODAY
    One of the biggest questions swirling around Donald Trump’s reelection campaign – aside from “Will he or won’t he be a convicted felon?” and “Are we really doing this again, people?” – is a tricky one: Who will be the former president and current criminal defendant’s vice presidential candidate?

    That anyone would consider applying for the job is remarkable. It’s like asking for volunteers to report for sticking-your-finger-in-a-light-socket duty. The position of Trump’s vice president brings with it the kind of job safety only found among nervous snake handlers and crash-test dummies.

    And yet, people are actually vying for the gig. A pack of them descended on South Florida this weekend to debase themselves before a twice-impeached former one-term president who demands absolute loyalty while dispensing none…

    Huppke is a humorist. Keep that in mind as you read the column.
    There are so many people eager for their turn under the bus.

  40. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia retakes Robotyne, electronic warfare rises, and new Bradleys incoming

    Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive against Russia finally began in spring 2023. But it was clear from the start that any hopes of replicating the lightning advance seen in the liberation of Kharkiv or the incredible strategic jiujitsu of Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson were misguided.

    While everyone laughed at Russia’s initial efforts to construct fortifications within the areas of Ukraine they occupied at the outset of 2023, by the time summer rolled around, they had built hundreds of kilometers of trenches and other structures. Most crucially, they had spread thousands of anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines in fields that were sometimes several kilometers deep.

    By the time Ukraine began its counteroffensive in June 2023, Russia was well dug in behind multiple defensive lines. Manning those defenses were hundreds of thousands of additional Russian troops mobilized in 2022 and 2023.

    One of the first places where Ukraine tried to smash its way through the Russian defenses was near the town of Robotyne. That first attempt was a failure, but through constant pressure—and willingness to accept some heavy losses—Ukraine finally liberated Robotyne in early September. For months, Ukraine pushed south and east from Robotyne, working to break through the next set of defensive lines at Verbove.

    Last week, Russia drove Ukrainian forces from Robotyne and recaptured what remains of the village.

    Ukraine had been ceding territory around Robotyne since February, when Russia resumed attacks through the area previously liberated by Ukraine. Like so many other locations along the front line, Robotyne was never that important a strategic position. It doesn’t offer any particular geographic factors that give whoever controls it a decided advantage over the surrounding territory. With a prewar population under 500, this is no Bakhmut or Severodonetsk.

    But the loss of Robotyne is emblematic of what’s happening all along the front as Ukrainian troops are surrendering ground under relentless pressure from Russian forces. [map at the link]

    That’s true in the area northwest of Donetsk along the highway that runs through the much-fought-over town of Avdiivka. Since the fall of Avdiivka in the first week of February, Russian troops have advanced roughly 18 kilometers along the highway. That’s a pace of about 200 meters per day, which isn’t exactly a breakneck advance. However, it’s been relentless. And, as the map shows, it has been accelerating in recent days. [map at the link]

    Shifting north to the area around Bakhmut, Ukraine has so far been able to hold off assaults on the town of Chasiv Yar, but Russia certainly hasn’t given up on taking this high ground. All those little emblems on villages east of Chasiv Yar represent masses of incendiary bombs, artillery strikes, and drone attacks.

    ELECTRONIC COUNTERMEASURES HAVE NEUTRALIZED UKRAINE’S USE OF MLRS

    At the outset of the war, there were few weapons Ukraine wanted to procure from Western allies more than the M270 MLRS rocket artillery system and the M982 Excalibur shell. Providing greater range than ordinary artillery, the combination also offers pinpoint targeting.

    Or at least, it did.

    In March, the House Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation heard expert testimony on this system from the Hudson Institute. And what Dr. Daniel Patt had to say was shocking.

    … Excalibur precision artillery rounds initially had a 70% efficiency rate hitting targets when first used in Ukraine. However, after 6 weeks, efficiency declined to only 6% as the Russians adapted their electronic warfare systems to counter.

    It appears that this degradation affects more than just the M982 shell. [Tweet at the link]

    Patt blames the issue on software inflexibility. Hopefully, the U.S. has teams of programmers addressing this issue right now, because if Ukraine’s MLRS systems are worthless, so are ours.

    NATO IS TRAINING FOR THE WAR UKRAINE IS ALREADY FIGHTING

    Outside of some brave volunteers, Ukrainians have done all the fighting and dying in Ukraine. But the war there is increasingly a test of NATO’s tactics and technology against Russia’s massive numbers of troops and artillery. Throw in a mix of rapidly evolving drones on both sides, and the result is a conflict where no one is quite sure of the best approach.

    As The Wall Street Journal reports, NATO might not be preparing to send troops into Ukraine, but it is certainly preparing to face the Russian forces that are dragging this war into its third year. That includes simulating situations in which Russia makes a direct assault on nations that are already members of NATO.

    NATO is already finding that it needs to update almost everything, including the way units from different countries fight together. The only time a NATO member state used Article 5 to call on NATO allies for help was when the United States began its assault on Afghanistan. But both there and in Iraq, NATO forces often fought as independent bodies, rarely joining directly in multination actions.

    That won’t work if Vladimir Putin extends Russia’s invasion into NATO member countries.

    After the Cold War, differences in language, communications systems, and weaponry within NATO mattered little because its troops rarely fought shoulder-to-shoulder. Instead, many rotated through short-term deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, planned long in advance. Equipment needs were clear and each ally handled its own provisioning.

    Treating NATO as a genuinely unified force has largely gone away since the collapse of the USSR. The Cold War nightmare of thousands of Soviet tanks tearing through the Fulda Gap is no longer the problem. Instead, it could be waves of drones moving ahead of Russian forces grinding their way into Latvia.

    To plan for such possibilities, NATO has launched its biggest exercise since 1988. But as long as Ukraine remains on the outside of the alliance looking in, they can only watch as NATO pretends to carry out a fight that Ukraine is actually mired in.

    NEW BRADLEYS MAY BE COMING, WITH A BIG NEW TRICK

    Dozens of videos have shown U.S.-made Bradley Fighting Vehicles taking out Russian opposition, from the MT-LB armored fighting vehicle … [video at the link] to the T-90 tank. [video at the link]

    Reports indicate that Bradleys aren’t lasting as long as they might in operation around the front line—not because Russian forces are taking them down, but because not all of them were recently overhauled before being dispatched to Ukraine. But the biggest request from Ukraine when it comes to the Bradley is simple: Send more.

    That request is reportedly about to be fulfilled. Not only is the next U.S. shipment to Ukraine expected to contain more Bradleys, but there are reports that Ukraine’s Bradleys are getting an upgrade. As Euromaidan Press reports, the U.S. plans to replace every Bradley in Ukraine with a new M2A4E1 variant.

    What could make this especially exciting is that the M2A4E1 includes a system called “Iron Fist Light.” This is an Israeli-made active defense system that was originally designed to protect against missiles and RPGs, but which may also prove effective against the drones now swarming Ukrainian battlefields. If Iron Fist can make a Bradley drone-proof, these vehicles could become an order of magnitude more valuable.

    Older versions of the Bradley don’t pack enough power to operate the system. That certainly suggests that one big reason behind the upgrade of these vehicles is getting Iron Fist into the fray.

    The U.S. (and Israel) will be extremely interested in the results of this test.
    ————————–
    Some of the targets shown being taken out aren’t tanks or vehicles that hide their human cargo, but individual Russian soldiers in foxholes and trenches.

    What’s interesting—and frightening—about the drone attacks that take these troops out one by one is that they’re not the FPV drones that have become so typical of actions over the past year. Instead, these troops are falling to bombs dropped by drones traveling at high speed, which still manage to hit small targets with incredible precision. [Interesting development.]

    I’ll be surprised if some form of AI isn’t involved in the operation of these drones.
    ——————————
    As these results from Thursday show, Russia may be advancing, but it is doing so at tremendous cost. Part of their recklessness likely stems from a desire to capture as much territory as possible before additional American support arrives at the front. [List at the link]
    —————————-
    [video of Ukrainian UAVs targeting Russian infrastructure]

  41. Pierce R. Butler says

    Reginald Selkirk @ # 50: A driver died after a vehicle crashed into an outer perimeter gate of the White House complex…

    Something odd about that story:

    The male driver… was found dead in the vehicle following the crash shortly before 10:30 p.m. … Police were called to the scene at 10:46 p.m. …

    It took more than 16 minutes for the cops to show up at a loud, unmistakable scene of violence in the highly-secure political center on a major street in a heavily-policed city? Day or night, could anybody stand on Pennsylvania Ave for 16 minutes and not see a patrol car cruise by?

  42. says

    Followup to comment 53.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    The first weapons arrived April 28, just 4 days after President Biden signed the bill, and included 155mm shells and anti-tank missiles. Patriot missiles donated by Spain are already in Poland and will move on to Ukraine soon.
    ———————-
    I was greatly relieved to see that some weapons appear to have been staged in anticipation of the bill’s passage. Hopefully that’s accelerating the movement of the most vital components.
    ————————-
    Wired’s “Inside Ukraine’s Killer-Drone Startup Industry.”

    President Volodymyr Zelensky projected late last year that Ukraine would produce over 1 million drones in 2024. Further, Ukraine hopes to break ground on a semiconductor factory, capable of producing 50,000 chips a year, by 2025. As Ukraine’s manufacturing capacity grows, they hope that instead of receiving donated drones made abroad, countries will provide aid by purchasing Ukrainian-made drones for use not only in Ukraine, but elsewhere as well. Canada sets the example, maybe the US will follow:

    Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of defense, visited Kyiv shortly before I was there. While there, he announced that Ottawa would donate 800 Canadian-made drones to Ukraine. While the donation was lauded, a senior official asked the minister, “Why didn’t you buy our drones?” After being briefed on the various innovations taking place in the Ukrainian drone industry, Blair was convinced. “We’re also going to find ways to invest in Ukrainian industry,” he tells WIRED. “The point of the [Ukraine Defense Contact Group drone coalition] is to create capability, not only in the countries that are in the coalition but also capability in Ukraine.”

    Ukrainian drone systems are very precise:
    Early in the war, the Ukrainians could reasonably expect—depending on weather, the mission, and Russian jamming efforts—that about 30 percent of their drones would connect with the target. Today, good Ukrainian-made systems are approaching a 70 percent success rate.

    Long range attack drones:

    Igor, who represents a company responsible for producing those long-range bombers, says they have developed a unit capable of flying 1,000 kilometers and carrying a 25-kilogram payload and has produced “several hundred” units for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And they are actively working on a new model, capable of flying up to 2,500 kilometers. (It will pack a smaller punch, he said: “The longer you go, the lighter the payload.”)

    Naval drones, invisible to radar. The article says Ukraine’s Sea Baby drones have capabilities the Pentagon has spent years trying to develop.

    Land drones — again, Ukrainians have solved challenges that the Pentagon’s still working on. The smallest Ukrainian unit, which has generally been used to deliver food and equipment, recently rescued and evacuated a wounded soldier from the front line.

    Combined operations using ground-based and aerial repeater UAVs to extend the base station signal, paired with surveillance drones.

    Artificial intelligence:

    Stepan walks through the four levels of how AI can augment warfare: One is reconnaissance, where machine learning can be used to collate large volumes of footage and satellite imagery. Two is “copiloting,” as he calls it, where AI can analyze that intelligence and help draw insights. Third is planning, where AI can help develop “interlinked, complex orders” for multiple systems across land and air; he likens that to having AI develop football plays. Finally, step four is full autonomy, where AI collects intelligence, analyzes it, develops orders based on the intelligence, and dispatches and commands autonomous units based on that information—although humans review and approve each step of the process.

    […] a system that requires human intervention is semi-autonomous, not fully autonomous). […]

    A lot of the piece centers around one drone system designer they call Yvan. One of his inventions (his operation produces 5,000 FPV drones per month in various sizes from a 12-inch model to a 4-inch prototype) is a chip:

    This chip, Yvan says, allows for remote detonation from a significant distance, meaning the operator can park their drone and lay in wait for hours, even days, before it goes off. He expects this technology could, eventually, be connected to AI—exploding only if it registers a nearby tank, for example. He has created a long-range smart land mine, I note. After the idea is passed through our translator, he nods enthusiastically.

  43. says

    It was a hearing on climate disinformation, after all, so Kennedy [Sen. John Neely Kennedy, a Republican representing Louisiana] went all in.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/yes-sen-kennedy-you-are-indeed-a

    At a Senate hearing on climate disinformation Wednesday, Oxford-educated Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-Looziana Awl Bidniss) trotted out his Bumpkin Cornpone act to try to smear one of the witnesses as some kind of potty-mouthed radical. Happily, this time it blew up in his nasty smug face.

    Kennedy’s an old dawg, and it’s hardly a new trick; he’s always pretending to suggest witnesses are terrible people by trying to associate them with scary radical beliefs they don’t actually hold. Sometimes it even works, like in 2021 when Kennedy forced the withdrawal of a Biden nominee, Cornell law professor Saule Omarova, after he demanded at her confirmation hearing that she prove she was no longer a commie. (She was born in the USSR, and like any other Soviet high school student belonged to the Young Communists.) Absurd though the claim was, Kennedy kept red-baiting her, sneering, “I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.” Eventually, five Democrats (you can guess who) said they wouldn’t vote for her, that was it, and she withdrew her nomination.

    Wednesday, however, there wasn’t a nomination on the line, just the ability of the planet Earth to remain hospitable to large mammals […] The hearing before the Senate Budget Committee discussed the oil industry’s long history of promoting climate denial and disinformation, and among the witnesses was Geoffrey Supran, director of the University of Miami’s Climate Accountability Lab.

    Supran is an acknowledged expert on the topic; he and Naomi Oreskes (of Merchants of Doubt fame) co-authored some of the important research detailing how ExxonMobil did extremely good science on global warming in the 1970s, and then covered it all up to keep pumping oil. […]

    At the hearing, Supran testified that copious evidence demonstrates that

    “the fossil fuel regime has deliberately denied Americans and Congress their right to be accurately informed about the climate crisis, just as tobacco companies misled Americans about the harms of smoking.”

    Kennedy — who in his career has received $1.5 million from the fossil fuel industry — wasn’t at all interested in Supran’s work, however, and certainly not interested in talking about what his donors have done to obfuscate their role in climate change. So he decided to point to Supran’s 2023 retweet of a single message from the youth-led climate group Climate Defiance, which often says very rude things about politicians and the oil business.

    In that message, the group wrote,

    We do not do online petitions. We do not do NGO coalition letters. We do not do fucking bus stop ads.

    We CHASE fossil fuel CEOs and the politicians who do their bidding. And we do not apologize.

    Well that is rude and defiant! And obviously, if Supran retweeted that, he is therefore responsible for everything the group ever said online, because John Neely Kennedy is a fascist creep who knows damn well that guilt by association is both a contemptible logical fallacy and one way to stir up the rubes.

    Here’s video, courtesy of the climate newsletter Heated, whence we also take the transcript below (Rebecca reminds Heated to put its meaning-changing punctuation outside the quotes, which she has here fixed): [video at the link]

    Kennedy: On December 14th, 2023, you tweeted in support of Climate Defiance. That’s an entity that the Brookings Institute has called a “radical climate change group.” Is that correct?

    Supran: I don’t recall, I’m afraid.

    Kennedy: Would this be the same Climate Defiance — I’m looking at your tweet, you tweeted in support of them — would this be the same Climate Defiance that called Senator Joe Biden a “sick fuck”?

    Supran: I don’t know, but as I —

    Kennedy: Would this be the same Climate Defiance that called Senator Lisa Murkowski a “murderer”?

    Supran: I don’t know, but as I said in my statement —

    Kennedy: Would this be the same Climate Defiance who told the CEO of Exxon to “Eat shit, Darren”?

    Supran: I’m not responsible for the statements of others.

    Kennedy: Nice group you’re hanging around with, doc.

    Then Kennedy read out the tweet we transcribed above, the only time Supran ever retwote or liked anything by the group,

    Supran, apparently not remembering a message he retweeted months ago, said that wasn’t his tweet, and Kennedy said yes it is […]

    Kennedy even went on to accuse Supran of actually writing messages from Climate Defiance, or maybe controlling its Twitter account, which apparently retweeted an October 30 message by a completely different person tying the cause of climate justice to Israel’s war in Gaza, which no, Supran also neither wrote or retweeted.

    […] With Kennedy trying to shout over him, Supran added, calmly, “I just want to say, this form of character assassination is characteristic of the propaganda techniques of fossil fuel interests,” prompting Kennedy to ask, “are you gonna call ME a sick fuck?”

    Well, sure, Senator, you’re a sick fuck all right. A creepy bully and a corrupt dipshit, too. We can keep going all day if you’d like.

    Then the 11-second clip of Kennedy’s “are you gonna call me a sick fuck” went viral, and there was rejoicing, as well as many proclamations of Kennedy’s sick fuck status. [video at the link]

    It was almost as good as that time he read aloud the good dirty parts of banned books, out of context and sounding like some kind of sick fuck.

    Supran, for his part, thanked Kennedy for the unintentional lesson in how disinformation works, saying in a statement to Heated,

    More important than the Senator’s theatrics themselves is how they typify the hostile tactics that the fossil fuel industry and its allies have resorted to for decades to attack not just the message but the messenger.

    It’s straight out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. In fact, research by John Cook and his colleagues has shown that character assassination has been one of the most common ways in which fossil fuel interests have attempted to deny accountability for the climate crisis.

    This is true and depressing, but it’s also an important reminder that if you educate people to engage in real critical thinking, they can free their minds of bullshit — and call it out to others.

  44. says

    RNC lawyer Charlie Spies to step down just 2 months after taking the job

    Spies was “pushed out,” according to a source familiar with the move.

    […] NBC News previously reported that Spies was hired in March to lead the committee’s legal efforts amid the RNC leadership overhaul, when former President Donald Trump endorsed Michael Whatley to helm the organization, effectively reshaping the committee in his image.

    Spies was previously described by a campaign official as “the best at what he does, knows the FEC loopholes better than anyone” but a “gun for hire.”

    However, Spies was not a fan of the former president.

    He previously worked for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during the GOP primary. The longtime Republican lawyer is known for expanding the use of super PACs after the landmark Citizens United decision.

    Spies was also behind Right to Rise, the super PAC that Jeb Bush used during the 2016 cycle to raise a record-breaking $100 million in the months before formally announcing his candidacy. Spies filed a complaint in 2015 with the Federal Election Commission against the Trump Organization while in his super PAC role.

    Spies has also worked with Rep. John James, R-Mich., and served in Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.

    His wife, Lisa Spies, a well-known GOP fundraiser, has been working for the campaign heading up donor coalitions. Lisa Spies was a fundraiser for DeSantis before joining the Trump campaign.

    The chief counsel’s hiring came as Whatley took the helm of the organization in March. Whatley was hand-picked by Trump along with the former president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair.

    Whatley’s predecessor as RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel, had resigned after facing internal party criticism and public skepticism from the former president.

    Spies has also previously rejected election-related conspiracy theories that have been touted by Trump allies.

    In a statement responding to reports of Spies being “pushed out” of the RNC, Alex Floyd, the Democratic National Committee rapid response director, said that Trump’s takeover of the RNC has led to “an election denier litmus test for new hires” and speculated that Spies was “purged for disagreeing with Trump’s dangerous conspiracy theories” about the 2020 election.

    In 2021, Spies publicly contradicted false claims about voting machines switching votes. When asked during a Conservative Political Action Conference panel about what to do about voting machines switching votes, he pushed back against the false conspiracy theory that has been backed by Trump allies.

    “I may get booed off the stage for this, but I have to say that’s simply not true. There is just zero evidence that’s true,” Spies said at the time.

    How much trouble is the RNC in when even the lawyers have to be sycophantic cult followers of Trump, and of every Trump lie?

  45. says

    China’s president arrives in Europe to reinvigorate ties at a time of global tensions

    Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off a three-country trip to Europe on Sunday with the continent divided over how to deal with Beijing’s growing power and the U.S.-China rivalry.

    European carmakers are losing ground to subsidized Chinese electric vehicles. Diplomats fret about alleged Chinese spies in European capitals. And China’s continued defense trade with Russia worries anyone in Europe who supports war-ravaged Ukraine and fears that the Russian army won’t stop there.

    But Europe and China have hefty economic ties — EU-China trade is estimated at 2.3 billion euros per day — and Xi appears determined to rebuild and deepen relations with European leaders after a prolonged absence prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Xi started Sunday in France, whose president wants Europe to have more economic and strategic independence from other world powers. Then the Chinese president heads to Serbia and Hungary, both seen as China-friendly and close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and recipients of substantial Chinese investment.

    […] Xi was greeted at Paris’ Orly Airport by French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal — and by protests by groups demanding that France pressure China to respect Tibetan and Uyghur minority rights. […]

    After arriving, Xi said he hoped the visit would bring “strategic convergence” between China and France […]

    On Monday French President Emmanuel Macron will treat the Chinese leader to formal honors of a full state visit. They will also meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is expected to join Macron in pushing for fairer trade policies and for China to use its leverage with Russia to push it toward ending the war in Ukraine.

    The EU launched an investigation last fall into Chinese subsidies […]

    China claims neutrality in the Ukraine conflict but has refused to call the full-blown Russian assault on its neighbor an invasion, and has been accused of bolstering Russia’s capacity to produce weapons.

  46. says

    Excerpt from a longer article:

    In Montgomery County, Texas, 52 people were rescued from “life-threatening situations” and 338 needed to be evacuated from their homes, said Trey Baxter with the Montgomery County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. More than 90 animals were also evacuated, he said.

    The American Red Cross was providing aid to residents in Texas and had nine shelters open.

    “Since sheltering operations began we, along with help from our local, county, and state partners, have provided more than 370 overnight stays for nearly 230 residents,” the organization said in a statement Saturday. “As of last night, we had more than 200 people in our care. Our teams are ready to respond should the demand increase.”

    Four million people across the Southern High Plains are at risk for strong to severe thunderstorms Saturday night, including the Texas cities of Austin, Odessa, Lubbock, and Abilene. Hail, a few tornadoes, and damaging wind gusts are all possible.

    Link

    More details concerning extreme weather, and photos. are available at the link.

  47. says

    Canadian grocery store chain receiving lots of negative feedback from shoppers:

    […] Retail outlets that fall under the Loblaw umbrella include No Frills, SuperValu, Freshmart, Extra Foods, Valu-Mart, Provigo, Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, City Market, T&T, and — my personal favorite for the sheer chutzpah — Your Independent Grocer.

    (It’s a bit confusing: “Loblaws” plural means individual stores with the same name, “Loblaw” singular is the Ontario-based company that last week reported nearly $10 billion in first-quarter revenue, a 9.8 percent increase, while “lob laws” is a suggestion a court someday throw the book at them.)

    They’ve been on a roll with bad headlines for a whole shopping list of reasons in recent years, including cutting the half-off discounts on edible food about to be thrown out and clawing back the extra two bucks an hour in so-called “hero pay” begrudgingly given to essential workers during the pandemic. But the chain’s biggest claim to shame remains being in on a half-baked scheme to artificially raise the price of bread for well over a decade.

    Loblaw was one of several retailers found guilty of colluding in a price-fixing scheme that gouged shoppers more than a buck a loaf, more than double the rate of inflation in the US over the same period, after a whistleblower came forward. […] The industry’s governing body was ultimately fined $37 million — all figures are converted into US dollars because I know who butters my bread — the largest amount of dough ever penalized after an investigation by the Competition Bureau.

    Nobody went to prison, of course, because late-stage capitalism reasons, and Loblaw grand poohbahs were granted immunity for cooperating with the case.

    “What does that have to do with the price of bread?” is a common expression because it’s a both staple of life and a reflection of market conditions. The ubiquitous grocer’s reputation was toast after the public learned executives lined their pockets for years while struggling single mothers had to decide if they had enough bread crumbs in their pockets to swing for PB&J sandwiches on any given week.

    […] Yes, the sketchy lawyer played by the sketchy Scott Baio was named after the sketchy grocery chain, according to Mel Magazine. We have screenwriter Chuck Tatham to thank for the tongue-twister Bob Loblaw […]

    The protest has already gathered enough steam that Loblaw has taken notice. The improbably named new CEO Per Bank told Global News “that’s something I want to fix” in face of the growing consumer revolt.

    “We don’t have a contract with our customers,” said Bank, who’s banked $16 million for his services thus far after taking over the reins from embattled former in-house pitchman and CEO Galen Weston last year. “They can choose to shop elsewhere tomorrow if they don’t like the offer that we’re giving.”

    Perhaps elsewhere also has cake.

    The embryonic boycott may sound earnestly Canadian and just be a blip in the company’s bottom line but others are calling for more direct action. Loblaw doesn’t waste money on greeters at the door like competitors Walmart do but they may want to spring for extra security on May 12 after posters have begun appearing outside stores across the country calling for the first annual “Steal from Loblaws Day.”

    This is the part where we dutifully remind you two wrongs don’t make a right, a crime is a crime, theft is bad even if a massive corporation is blatantly stealing from you, and blah, blah, blah.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/canadians-revolt-over-gross-grocery

  48. Reginald Selkirk says

    Greece churches in Vrontados take part in annual ‘rocket war’

    Two churches in the Greek town of Vrontados were lit up on Saturday night, as they fired streams of rockets at each other as part of an Orthodox Easter tradition.

    Throughout the annual “rocket war”, Easter Mass continues inside the churches on the island of Chios.

    The spectacle dates back to the 1800s – when Greece was ruled by the Ottoman empire – but now rockets are used instead of cannons.

    Parts of the local area are boarded up with metal barriers, to try and protect them from fire damage.

  49. Reginald Selkirk says

    Fans won’t cool you down when temperature goes up, new study finds

    A new study has found exactly how inefficient electric fans are when used to keep us cool in extreme heat.

    Rob Meade, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, led the study.

    “Fans do improve sweat evaporation, but this effect is not strong enough to significantly lower your body’s internal temperature when it’s already really hot,” Meade said.

    The study found fans are good at providing air circulation and may cool us down in moderate temperatures, but are not as effective in extreme heat. ..

  50. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna, OM @ 59
    I am not mocking the unfortunate people who suffer from extreme weather. I just keep thinking “why steal the area from the Indians/Mexicans in the first place”? Even back then, the weather conditions must have been known.

    And I can understand why people left the hellhole that was Europe at the time. I can even understand why some people might be desperate enough to move into tornado country back then.
    But if you can choose, even the East Coast can get hurricanes (not to mention massive snowfall). There seems to be no blissfully ‘bland’ region.
    These days, the relatively stable and predictable conditions (plus healthcare) in Europe ought to encorage people to go east (at least away from red states).
    Maybe don’t go to Hungary or Britain, not until there is a change of management. From Alabama to the Netherlands perhaps? Does Alabama get tornados?

  51. Reginald Selkirk says

    A largely white Louisiana enclave gets the go-ahead to secede and form its own city

    Last week in Louisiana, the state’s Supreme Court paved the way for a largely white enclave within Baton Rouge to break off and form its own city, which will be named St. George.

    The push to cleave off this part of Baton Rouge from its less affluent and more diverse surrounding areas has been years in the making. It started in 2012 when a group led by white conservatives claimed that they needed a separate school district, based on claims that crime and poor school quality meant their tax dollars weren’t being used properly. When that effort failed, the right-wing activists tried to form a new city instead. After a long legal battle, the Louisiana Supreme Court finally approved the plan…

  52. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Shots fired’ reported in Casper; cops fault bubble-wrap popping

    Casper police officers responded to a report of shots fired at an apartment complex on the 300 block of South McKinley Street on Friday afternoon.

    With sirens and lights activated in their patrol vehicles, at least four officers responded to the scene. However, upon further investigation they found the culprit was a man in a wheelchair who rolled over a sheet of bubble wrap, Sgt. Mitch Hill said. The man had decided he liked that sound, and had continued to pop the bubble wrap…

  53. John Morales says

    Joe Blogs:

    RUSSIA – Gazprom Reports $7 Billion Loss as Sanctions Decimate Revenue & Exports. Russia Ukraine War
    GAZPROM has the sole contract to sell Russian Natural Gas and was Russia’s Largest Business by Revenue prior to the Invasion of Ukraine. The business is 39% owned by the Russian State and has just reported a $7 Billion loss compared with Profit of $32BN in 2021. In this video I look at the results in more detail, discuss the implications of this loss on both Russia and the Russian Economy and the challenges that both Gazprom and Russia are facing.

    Chapters:
    0:00 Intro
    3:35 NATURAL GAS
    6:46 GAZPROM
    8:34 OWNERSHIP
    10:44 VALUATION
    12:12 DIVIDENDS
    14:24 ECONOMIC IMPACT
    21:08 SUMMARY & CONCLUSION

  54. John Morales says

    birgerjohansson, not unless you invert the circumstances.

    See, in South Africa, the whites were the oppressors, who made those for the oppressed.

  55. John Morales says

    Anders Puck Nielsen:

    The role of smartphones in modern war

    This video features a conversation with Matthew Ford about the influence of smartphones in modern war. The smartphone plays a huge role in Ukraine and Gaza, and it is something we have to get used to on the modern battlefield.

    Matthew Ford is a researcher at the Swedish Defense University. He is the author of the book “Radical War” and the article “Ukraine, Participation and the Smartphone at War”.

    0:00 Introduction
    3:18 About Matthew Ford
    3:57 The interview
    11:12 What is new in the Ukraine war?
    18:01 The mix of apps and platforms
    23:10 Smartphones for military command
    25:55 AI in data processing
    29:47 The digital headquarters?
    35:25 Soldiers as media consumers
    37:53 War ecologies
    45:08 Civilians becoming combatants

  56. birgerjohansson says

    This image of the far side of the moon (in a Swedish language article) shows the moon as it is passing between the Earth and a distant space probe. This shows clearly how dark the moon is when compared directly with Earth.

    You also see how devoid the far side is of distinguishing features, apart for a tiny ‘mare’ feature in the north.

  57. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 70
    Maybe more like the conditions in ‘Snow Crash’ -urban enclaves in a libertarian society gone mad. Fortunately, law enforcement has not yet been privatised.

  58. says

    NBC News:

    Donald Trump compared President Joe Biden’s administration to the secret police force of Nazi Germany in remarks at a private, closed-door donor retreat on Saturday afternoon. … “These people are running a Gestapo administration,” Trump said, according to audio of the luncheon provided to NBC News.

    Commentary:

    […] White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said the Democratic incumbent is focused on bringing Americans together, “instead of echoing the appalling rhetoric of fascists, lunching with Neo Nazis, and fanning debunked conspiracy theories that have cost brave police officer their lives.”

    It’s an important detail — because Trump’s over-the-top whining isn’t just factually wrong and morally offensive, it’s also deeply ironic.

    As a factual matter, Biden is not responsible for his predecessor’s criminal charges, and the idea that federal law enforcement resembles the Third Reich’s secret police force is stark raving mad.

    But as a political matter, if the Republican really wants to have a debate along these lines, he might not like where it ends up. The presumptive GOP nominee, after all, has spent recent months echoing Hitler while lashing out at immigrants, complaining that immigration is “poisoning the blood of our country” and describing migrants as “vermin.”

    He’s also the candidate who continues to raise the prospect of building new detention camps, creating a temporary “dictatorship,” cracking down on the free press.

    When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum about the “Gestapo” rhetoric, the Republican vice presidential contender said it was simply “a short comment.”

    Maybe so, but the length of the comments wasn’t the problem.

    Link

  59. says

    Why it matters that Trump wants to see Jack Smith get ‘arrested’

    Over the course of the last couple of years, Donald Trump has, from time to time, shared a few unkind words about special counsel Jack Smith. The former president has, for example, referred to the prosecutor as a “thug” in a “mental state of derangement.”

    [Trump] has also condemned the special counsel as a “mad dog psycho.” He’s also accused Smith of being an “animal” and a “lunatic.” At one point, Trump suggested the special counsel’s investigation was “treasonous” and deserving of “sanctions.”

    With this in mind, it didn’t come as too big of a surprise over the weekend when the presumptive GOP nominee delivered remarks at a closed-door donor retreat, at which point he called Smith an “evil thug” and “deranged.” A Washington Post report added that Trump went on to tell his audience that he believes the prosecutor is a “f—ing a–hole.”

    The former president, in the same comments, said the fact that he’s facing multiple criminal indictments “doesn’t bother me.” Yeah, sure it doesn’t.

    But while Trump’s hysterical whining about Smith reflects his apparent fear and anxiety, it’s par for the course. What was arguably more important was something Trump wrote to his social media platform late Friday night. Newsweek reported:

    Donald Trump has called for Special Counsel Jack Smith to be arrested after the prosecutor’s team said some evidence in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case are no longer in their “original, intact” form.
    Specifically, the former president wrote, “ARREST DERANGED JACK SMITH. HE IS A CRIMINAL!”

    He’s been gradually moving in this direction for a while. Early last year, for example, for reasons unknown, Trump published a lengthy online tantrum that said Smith “may very well turn out to be a criminal.”

    Evidently, 16 months later, Trump has made up his mind — and he now wants authorities to “arrest” the special counsel.

    […] The trouble is, there’s a very real possibility his palaver will, early next year, become presidential directives. Axios reported last month, for example, “Trump has vowed retribution against his enemies if he wins in November. … [P]eople close to Trump are still plotting to use the Justice Department against Biden and his family.”

    If Team Trump intends to use federal law enforcement to go after the Biden family, it stand to reason that there would be plenty of other names, including Smith’s, on the enemies list.

    We can say with some certainty that Trump wanted to prosecute his perceived political foes during his first term, in part because his former White House chief of staff has said as much on the record. Even former Attorney General Bill Barr said he expects Trump to “weaponize” the Justice Department if he returns to the White House for a second term.

    With this in mind, I don’t much care whether he calls Smith foolish names, but I do care that Trump wants to see the special counsel arrested.

  60. Reginald Selkirk says

    Fraternity Boots Bro Who Made Monkey Noises at Black Ole Miss Protester

    The University of Mississippi student who was seen on video making monkey noises and jumping up and down to mock a Black pro-Palestine protester has been expelled from his fraternity after his actions went viral on social media.

    The fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, announced in a statement on Sunday that the man in question had been swiftly removed from the organization. The student, James “JP” Staples, was identified on Instagram by the NAACP…

  61. says

    Trump fined $1,000 for gag order violation as judge warns of possible jail time

    Sounds like old news, but this is a new report from the Associated Press.

    The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s hush money trial has fined him $1,000 for violating his gag order and sternly warned the former president that additional violation could result in jail time.

    The fine marks the second sanction for Trump for inflammatory comments about witnesses since the start of the trial last month. He was fined $9,000 last week for nine violations.

    Judge Juan M. Merchan warned Monday that additional gag order violations could potentially result in jail time, though he said that was “the last thing I want to do.”

    Prosecutors in Trump’s hush money trial are moving deeper into his orbit following an inside-the-room account about the former president’s reaction to a politically damaging recording that surfaced in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.

    […] The trial enters its third week of testimony Monday […]

    The case is one of four Trump prosecutions and possibly the only one that will reach trial before the November election. Other felony indictments charge him with plotting to subvert the 2020 presidential election after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden and illegally hoarding classified documents after he left the White House.

  62. says

    Extremist militia groups openly recruiting on Facebook

    It would be nice to think that white supremacist groups and violent militias are restricted to seeking out new members in seedy bars, through whispered exchanges at the local gun range, and on parts of the dark web where they’re pursued by a cyber squad of FBI all-stars. But according to WIRED, they’re not quite that subtle.

    Individuals across the US with long-standing ties to militia groups are creating networks of Facebook pages, urging others to recruit “active patriots” and attend meetups, and openly associating themselves with known militia-related sub-ideologies like that of the anti-government Three Percenter movement. They’re also advertising combat training and telling their followers to be “prepared” for whatever lies ahead.

    Some of these pages have been pulled down on Facebook, but Meta largely seems to be ignoring the groups as they grow, connect, and spread violent rhetoric. That may be because Mark Zuckerberg, like Elon Musk on X, has been ditching content moderators in large numbers.

    Link.

    Other news is covered at the same link, including new drugs to fight allergies; studying climate change in Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve; a video from the “Fall of Civilizations” series; details concerning the reclassification of marijuana; and how junk science contributes to abortion bans (“fatally flawed” peer-reviewed research papers … how does that garbage get published?)

  63. says

    Excerpts from live coverage of Trump’s trial:

    […] Former Trump Organization Controller Jeffrey McConney’s testimony has shifted the focus to Trump’s actual charges of falsifying business records, which correspond to alleged documents created in 2017 to reimburse Michael Cohen for making a $130,000 hush money payment during the former president’s successful campaign.

    […] Jurors saw a bank statement for the account Michael Cohen set up in October 2016 to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels.

    The statement shows the $130,000 wire payment to Daniels’s lawyer, and it also includes handwritten notes from then-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg that show his calculations in determining how much to reimburse Cohen. The calculations include a note to add a bonus for Cohen and gross up the amount for tax purposes.

    Trump’s attorneys had sought to block Weisselberg’s notes prior to trial, arguing they were inadmissible hearsay, but the judge had indicated prosecutors could introduce them if they lay the proper foundation.

    Jurors also saw how McConney broke down the math on a notepad with Trump Organization letterhead.

    McConney confirmed that there came a time when the checks to Michael Cohen started coming out of Trump’s personal bank account, rather than his trust.

    Though his trust had multiple signatories, Trump was the only one for his personal account, so he had to sign those checks, McConney said.

    “We had to get it to the White House for him to sign it,” he testified.

    McConney testified that Trump himself was the only one who had authority to sign checks from his account before he arrived at the White House.

    Starting in 2017, Trump’s two oldest sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., had authority to sign checks from the former president’s trust, as did Allen Weisselberg, who was the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, McConney said.

    McConney testified that it is standard practice for outgoing payments to be reviewed by the Trump Organization’s legal department.

    But the department did not review the $35,000 monthly payments sent to Michael Cohen in 2017 at the center of Trump’s case, McConney said.

    McConney said he got approval to process Cohen’s monthly invoices from Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who indicated it was OK to pay […]

  64. says

    Link for text quoted in comment 82

    In other news: Missouri AG To Represent GOP Legislators Who Falsely Accused Random Man Of A Mass Shooting

    What a swell use of the state’s tax money!

    Earlier this year, right-wing social media users ruined a man’s life for no good reason. […]

    In the aftermath of the February 14 mass shooting during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade, Denton Loudermill was “identified” as one of the shooters. Sort of. A popular MAGA Twitter user who goes by the name Mischief — and, naturally, has a blue check and 166K followers — shared a picture of him and claimed that not only was he the shooter, but that he was an “illegal immigrant” with an entirely different name.

    “At least one of the Kansas City Chiefs parade shooters identified as Sahil Omar, a 44 year old illegal immigrant. Biden has failed to protect America from invasion and terrorism,” he wrote in a viral post. [Screen grab at the link]

    This information was shared with great joy by conservatives on Twitter, including three Republican Missouri lawmakers, state Sens. Rick Brattin, Denny Hoskins and Nick Schroer and seen by at least 25 million people, many of whom immediately took to bandying about death threats.

    In reality, Loudermill was detained for other reasons related to intoxication and is a United States citizen. So, in April, he sued their asses.

    “Sahil Omar,” by the way, is a non-existent person often “blamed,” by right-wing trolls, for mass shootings and other tragedies. Had the senators bothered to Google, they would have learned this. But no. They trusted a guy who calls himself “Mischief.” [Correct]

    Perhaps even more gallingly (and controversially), Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey will defend the three senators in the lawsuit. Their legal expenses will be covered by a legal fund established by statute.

    “We are not suing the Senators in their official capacity,” Loudermill’s attorney LaRonna Lassiter-Saunders said in a statement criticizing the move. “It would seem this use of tax dollars would raise concerns and questions from Missouri residents. One question being, if a resident was sued in a non-official capacity, would the Attorney General come to their rescue and represent them?” [Also correct]

    […] Bailey, however, argues that the legislators were acting in their official capacity when they falsely accused this man of being a mass shooter, and that they are therefore protected by “legislative immunity” — which, somehow, is even more disturbing.

    […] They are dying for the shooter to be an undocumented immigrant or a trans person, so that they can have the opportunity to say “See! We told you these people are bad!”

    […] I realize that we live in a time of hot takes and that being quick on the draw has its benefits, but it’s better to be slow and accurate than quick and wrong. Least of all because the latter could get your ass sued.

  65. says

    Vladimir Putin is positioning Russia as America’s most dangerous and aggressive enemy, and transforming his country in ways that stand to make it a bitter adversary of the West for decades to come.

    Over more than six months, The Washington Post examined the profound changes sweeping Russia as Putin has used his war in Ukraine to cement his authoritarian grip on power.

    The Russian leader is militarizing his society and infusing it with patriotic fervor, reshaping the education system, condemning scientists as traitors, promoting a new Orthodox religiosity and retrograde roles for women, and conditioning a new generation of youth to view the West as a mortal enemy in a fight for Russia’s very survival.

    For this series — “Russia, Remastered” — our journalists reported extensively in Russia, especially Moscow and St. Petersburg, and central and western parts of the country. They also met with or spoke to Russians living in exile around the world, including officials, analysts, experts and civilians.

    Our reporting also relied on government documents, including presidential decrees, transcripts of Putin’s speeches and remarks at public events, national and local Russian news reports and television broadcasts, social media posts, blogs and Telegram channels.

    Some people interviewed for this series in Russia have since been imprisoned or have fled. […]

    Washington Post link

    Details at the link, including this: “At least 95 of the 110 Stalin monuments in Russia were erected during Putin’s time as leader.”

  66. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @larpar #74, @birgerjohansson #72:
    Working link to photo AS16-3021, back side of the moon.

    Wikipedia – Far side of the Moon

    The hemisphere has sometimes been called the “dark side of the Moon”, where “dark” means “unknown” instead of “lacking sunlight” – each location on the Moon experiences two weeks of sunlight while the opposite location experiences night.
    […]
    The far side has a battered, densely cratered appearance with few maria. Only 1% of the surface of the far side is covered by maria, compared to 31.2% on the near side. […] The far side has more visible craters. This was thought to be a result of the effects of lunar lava flows, which cover and obscure craters, rather than a shielding effect from the Earth. […] impacts on the near side would sometimes penetrate the thinner crust here and release basaltic lava that created the maria, but would rarely do so on the far side.

  67. says

    Palestinian civilians rushed to flee parts of Rafah on Monday after the Israeli military told some 100,000 people to leave the southern Gaza city, a possible signal that a long-feared ground offensive could be imminent with talks for a last-ditch truce deal stalled.

    The evacuation orders were delivered in leaflets that poured down onto eastern Rafah as rain soaked its crowded streets and ramshackle tents.

    “They called us this morning and told us to evacuate the area. Where do we go?” Adham Khalil, who lives in eastern Rafah, told an NBC News’ crew on the ground in Gaza, one of several residents who described a night of intense bombardment followed by fear and uncertainty prompted by the order to move again.

    After a night of “shooting, clashes all night and missiles,” Khalil said, his family did not know where to turn. He said he wanted to be assured that a “safe corridor” would be open for them to evacuate.

    Others quickly heeded the call.

    Families packed their cars and trucks with the few possessions they still had after seven months of war and embarked on what was for many just the latest displacement. Others could be seen driving north, the roofs of their vehicles stacked with mattresses, bundles of blankets and other essentials.

    The Israeli military said an estimated 100,000 people were being asked to follow what it said was the “temporary” evacuation of eastern Rafah and move to Al-Mawasi, a nearby coastal area where it promised an “expanded humanitarian area” would await them.

    Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, said this was a “limited scope operation” and would not be “wide-scale.” […]

    President Joe Biden was set to speak with Netanyahu on Monday, as world officials and aid groups urged Israel to halt any plans for a ground assault of Rafah.

    Samah Hadid, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said she feared the evacuation orders were the “start of the nightmare scenario that we’ve been dreading for months.”

    […] Hadid also warned that she did not believe the Al-Mawasi area was equipped for a mass influx of people, despite Israel’s assurances that the expanded humanitarian area would include “field hospitals, tents, increased quantities of food, water, medicines and additional supplies.” […]

    Link

    Photos at the link.

  68. says

    One of the truly disturbing aspects of Donald Trump’s arrival on the U.S. political scene has been witnessing the parade of individuals willing to break or subvert the law in order to serve his interests. Possibly most remarkable among these are the many lawyers—particularly the ones Trump enlisted to assist in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results—who, on paper at least, should have known the consequences of their actions.

    Of those lawyers, one in particular stands out: Jeffrey Clark. While the others engaged in Trump’s conspiracies from their capacity as private citizens, Clark deliberately intended to use his status within the government to further Trump’s goal of overturning the election.

    Last week, a three-person panel appointed by the Washington, D.C., Office of Disciplinary Counsel Bar recommended that Clark be disbarred, illustrating the specific type of person Trump plans to embed into our federal government at nearly every level in a second Trump administration.

    The bar’s recommendation is not simply a verdict on Clark but a clear warning to Americans about the danger of a second Trump presidency. [snipped details of Clark’s scheming]

    The language the panel used in its recommendation is devastating:

    It is not enough that the efforts of these lawyers ultimately failed. As a profession, we must do what we can to ensure that this conduct is never repeated. The way to accomplish that goal is to remove from the profession lawyers who betrayed their constitutional obligations and their country. It is important that other lawyers who might be tempted to engage in similar misconduct be aware that doing so will cost them their privilege to practice law. It is also important for the courts and the legal profession to state clearly that the ends do not justify the means; that process matters; and that this is a society of laws, not men.

    Jeffrey Clark betrayed his oath to support the Constitution of the United States of America. He is not fit to be a member of the District of Columbia Bar.

    The bar’s findings are replete with specific examples of Clark’s behavior, detailing each of them in devastating, chronological order. They brook no excuses based on the supposed sincerity of Clark’s belief that the election was stolen from Trump, and they explicitly hone in on his invocation of the Insurrection Act against U.S. citizens:

    Finally, it should be examined in the context of his callous indifference to the consequences of his proposed course of conduct—riots in every city—an indifference that exceeds mere recklessness. … Extremists are often sincere, and fanatics are the sincerest of all. Such sincerity is no virtue; it is evidence of how dangerous the true believer can be. And if sincerity is feigned, to disguise overweening ambition, that lawyer is arguably the most dangerous of all.

    Perhaps most forcefully of all, the panel castigates Clark for betraying his oath to the U.S. Constitution:

    The courts and the legal profession cannot tolerate a lawyer misusing his law license in this way. All of us practice law within the structure of a democratic form of government constrained by the Constitution. This structure has stood for more than 230 years, longer than any other democracy, but it is still an experiment in a form of government rarely seen in history. It will not survive if people lose faith in election results. As a member of the D.C. Bar, Mr. Clark swore an oath that he would “support the Constitution of the United States of America.” As an officer in the Department of Justice, he undoubtedly took a variation of that oath. By attempting to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct in the ways he did, he betrayed those oaths and, in doing so, his country. Lawyers who betray their country must be disbarred.

    […] Clark has until May 23 to respond to the panel’s recommendations. When finalized, it will be transmitted to the District’s Board of Professional Responsibility, and then to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

    In the interim, however, Clark continues to figure prominently in Trump’s plans as he seeks re-election. As reported by Isaac Stanley-Becker last August for The Washington Post, Clark has become a celebrity and media star in Republican circles, speaking regularly on conservative podcasts and at pro-Trump events, including one last year specifically dedicated to hiring employees to staff a future Trump administration. At that time, Trump ally and convicted criminal Stephen Bannon declared Clark would be on the shortlist for attorney general should Trump be re-elected. […]

    Link

  69. says

    […] TALLY-HO! to good news from across the pond. […] Britain’s government has been run by a bunch of Tory Ministers of Silly Walks and Upper Class Twits of the Year, while their main competitors in the Labour Party have floundered around […] The Tories appear to have granted Labour their wish via a two-prong strategy of catastrophically “Brexiting” from their European Union gravy train, and then proudly announcing that “the beatings of the commoners will continue until morale improves.” And, gol’ blimey, it worked! Last week’s local elections saw big wins for Labour…so big that the BBC had to make a list of takeaways, including:

    » Labour gained more than 180 council seats to take control of eight councils, including Milton Keynes and Nuneaton, where there are traditional bellwether seats for general elections.

    » The Tories lost control of 10 councils, including Basildon in Essex, which gained an iconic status for the Tories under Margaret Thatcher, when the Tories won working class areas that had traditionally voted Labour.

    » Labour won a trio of newly-created regional mayor roles, continuing its recent successes in this area in recent years.

    […] Apparently there’s going to be a general election later this year, which means the left might see its first prime minister—some guy named Keir Starmer—in a generation. He’s an atheist vegetarian. God save the Empire.

    Link.

    Other issues are covered at the same link. Scroll down for the “Tally Ho” segment.

  70. says

    Same link as in comment 88.

    You can read Adam B’s analysis here. My conclusion is that the Supreme Court ruled that all religions are created equal, but—[Wink wink!!!]—Christianity is just a little more equal than the others. Bad news: the Bible-thumpers get to become even more obnoxious in government venues. Good news: America is still becoming, and will continue to become, less religious. Can I get a non-denominational Amen?

    Here is the Adam B analysis link: Supreme Court upholds religious prayers in local government proceedings, 5-4

    Excerpt:

    […] This is about whether a small town with residents from many faiths can decide to only invite Christian leaders to lead sectarian prayers, for years, never bothering to invite leaders from other faiths until citizens start complaining, and hinting about lawsuits, when there are prayers like this at every town meeting:

    The beauties of spring . . . are an expressive symbol of the new life of the risen Christ. The Holy Spirit was sent to the apostles at Pentecost so that they would be courageous witnesses of the Good News to different regions of the Mediterranean world and be­yond. The Holy Spirit continues to be the inspiration and the source of strength and virtue, which we all need in the world of today. And so . . . [w]e pray this evening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Greece Town Board meets.

  71. birgerjohansson says

    Larpar @ 74
    Maybe a better phrase would have been ‘devoid of visible distinguishing festures’.
    The South Pole /Aitkins basin on the far side of the moon is the largest remaining impact structure in the solar system, but it is only evident if you see a map of elevation.
    The interesting deep-crust minerals brought to the surface by the impact can likewise not be spotted by the naked eye.

  72. says

    Hamas says it agrees to ceasefire proposal with Israel

    Hamas has accepted an offer for a temporary ceasefire with Israel, a Hamas official confirmed to The Hill.

    The news comes amid rising fears that Israel is set to launch an invasion of Rafah, a southern city in Gaza where about a million Gazans are sheltering.

    Hamas’s head of political and international relations, Dr. Basem Naim, confirmed to The Hill that Hamas had communicated with Egyptian and Qatari mediators that it had accepted a ceasefire proposal.

    The U.S., along with Egypt and Qatar, has engaged intensively for weeks on a truce proposal between Israel and Hamas.

    Israel did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Biden administration has said the stall in talks rested solely on Hamas, indicating that Israel had agreed to the details of the truce.

    Ceasefire mediators have not publicly detailed the full contents of the truce proposal.

    But the broad contours of the deal is a six-to-eight week pause in fighting, in which Hamas would release Israeli hostages it has held since it kidnapped them from Israel on Oct 7. The release of the hostages would occur in phases, with the most vulnerable of the 133 believed to be in Gaza released first.

    In exchange, Israel is expected to release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, withdraw its troops from certain regions of the Gaza Strip and allow for Gazans to travel from the south of the territory to the north.

    The pause in fighting is also expected to allow for a surge of humanitarian aid into the Strip, where more than one million Palestinians have been displaced by fighting, tens of thousands have been wounded amid the war, and starvation and disease are rampant.

    This is a developing story. More later.

  73. larpar says

    @birgerjohansson #91
    Get a better picture. Sorry I borked my link. Sky Captain provided one (thanks). Those distinguishing features are pretty visible.

  74. says

    How many groups of people is Trump determined to alienate before November?

    […] While many Muslim-American voters have been deeply critical of Biden, Trump isn’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat. Trump has endorsed Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, announced plans to expand his Muslim ban, condemned pro-Palestinian protests, and rejected the idea of bringing Gaza residents to the United States as refugees.

    While polls suggest Black voters might be open to a Biden alternative, Team Trump said it intends to focus on “anti-white racism“ rather than discrimination against people of color. The former president himself recently complained, “I think there is a definite anti-white feeling in this country and that can’t be allowed, adding, “[T]here’s absolutely a bias against white.”

    While polls suggest Latino voters might be open to a Biden alternative, Trump has spent recent months condemning migrants from Latin American countries by echoing Hitler and making comments such as, “They’re not humans, they’re animals.” Trump is also planning to embrace militarized mass deportations and detention camps in a possible second term.

    While polls suggest young voters might be open to a Biden alternative, Trump and his allies have fought tooth and nail to oppose the White House’s efforts to address student loan debt relief. Trump also plans to be even worse on the climate crisis than he was in his first term, which tends to be the opposite of what most young voters are looking for in a candidate.

    As for working-class voters concerned about their expenses, Trump has made painfully clear that he doesn’t understand the basics of inflation, and he has an unambiguous plan to make inflation worse.

    If Biden is fortunate, his likely GOP rival will continue to spend the next several months alienating, insulting, and offending the voters […]

    Link

  75. Reginald Selkirk says

    A common type of fiber may trigger bowel inflammation

    Inulin, a type of fiber found in certain plant-based foods and fiber supplements, causes inflammation in the gut and exacerbates inflammatory bowel disease in a preclinical model, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. The surprising findings could pave the way for therapeutic diets that may help ease symptoms and promote gut health. 

    The study, published March 20 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, shows that inulin, which is found in foods such as garlic, leeks and sunchoke, as well as commonly used fiber supplements and foods with added fiber, stimulates microbes in the gut to release bile acids that increase the production of molecules that promote intestinal inflammation…

  76. says

    Are ‘Ripe’ And ‘Fertile’ Words You Want To Hear From A Guy Defending Child Marriage?

    I don’t know that there is a way to come out in favor of child marriage without sounding like an absolute creep. If there is, somehow, we can probably be certain that it definitely does not involve the use of terms like “ripe” and “fertile.”

    Sadly, New Hampshire Republican state House Rep. Jess Edwards did not get that memo and used both of those words in an entirely revolting speech, as a last ditch effort to save the sacred institution of child marriage in his state from a bill meant to ban it.

    “Do you agree with the view that if we continually restrict the freedom of marriage as a legitimate social option, when we do this to people who are a ripe, fertile age and may have a pregnancy and a baby involved, are we not, in fact, making abortion a much more desirable alternative, when marriage might be the right solution for some freedom-loving couples?” he asked.

    The rest of the legislature failed to conceal its groans at his terms, and, frankly, it is hard to blame them. It was fairly revolting. [video at the link]

    Despite this moving speech — or perhaps because of it — the bill, which raises the state’s marriage age to 18, passed 192-174. Residents of the state with teenage children may want to clock some of those “nay” votes, because I sure as hell wouldn’t want my hypothetical kid around any of them.

    I would never pressure anyone to have an abortion they did not want, including a teenager, but I feel very confident in saying it is absolutely a more desirable option than “child marriage.” In fact, out of all the possible “teen pregnancy” options, it seems fair to say “child marriage” is the worst. Not least of all because absolutely no one wants to go to an eighth grader’s wedding. (At least not anyone who isn’t in some freaky cult.)

    If they wish to keep the baby instead of having an abortion or putting it up for adoption, there is no reason why the children could not continue to live with their respective parents and get married when they turn 18 if that is something they wish to do. Getting pregnant and giving birth hardly means a teenager is ready to make it on their own, especially if they are not yet old enough to have a full-time job or sign any kind of contract, including a lease. (Or enter a domestic violence shelter.)

    […] as much as Republicans may despise single mothers, I have to believe that very few people these days are going to shame a 15-year-old with a baby for not being married.

    There have been a wave of anti-child marriage bills in recent years, led by the advocacy of groups like Unchained at Last, which was initially founded as an anti-arranged-marriage organization in 2011, by Fraidy Reiss, who was forced to marry a total stranger at the age of 19.

    If Governor Chris Sununu signs this bill, New Hampshire will become the 13th state to bar marriage for those under the age of 18 with no exceptions. He’s a Republican, but if he needs some convincing, perhaps someone could play that video for him while he’s trying to eat lunch.

  77. says

    Trump Tells 40 Percent Of America To F*ck Off, You Dang Moochers

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/trump-tells-40-percent-of-america

    Stop us if you heard this one before: someone leaked to the press an audio recording of a Republican presidential candidate telling a room full of rich donors that Democrats might win an election because all the moochers and freeloaders and lazy socialists to whom they keep writing welfare checks will vote for their nominee.

    Fooled you! The candidate was not Mitt Romney […]

    No, this time the nominee was Donald Trump. And while writing off 40 percent of Democratic voters as automatons being bought with government funds, and while such comments are so far down the list of contemptible Trumpian statements that they will never register the way Romney’s did, and while … wait a minute, we forgot where we were going with this.

    Trump made the remarks during a closed-door fundraising luncheon at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, and recordings were promptly leaked to The Washington Post by a “Republican donor.” They were also “obtained” by The New York Times, which, considering Maggie Haberman’s byline is on the story, means the audio could have come directly from Trump, or someone in his camp who was confident they would get reported out with zero backlash. And frankly, why wouldn’t Trump be confident of such a result?

    “When you are Democrat, you start off essentially at 40 percent because you have civil service, you have the unions and you have welfare,” Trump said. “They get welfare to vote and then they cheat on top of that. They cheat.”

    […] Well, at least Republicans have made inroads with the welfare moochers since 2012. Look at what Mitt Romney was up against with that gigantic 47 percent! If Trump can’t win when the Democrats have only 40 percent of the moochers locked up, he’ll be an even bigger loser than the senator from Utah.

    Trump also reportedly accused Joe Biden of running “a Gestapo administration,” which, yes, sure, if there is anything Donald Trump has to fear, it is the Gestapo showing up at his house in the middle of the night and dragging him off to be tortured in a basement somewhere. He also called Special Counsel Jack Smith “unattractive” and a “fucking asshole.” And those are probably the mildest epithets he has thrown out about Smith in the last couple of years.

    Trump devoted parts of his tirade to complaining about election fraud in 2020 (natch) and bragging about all the golf tournaments he has been winning at his own clubs. Maybe we could get him to drop out in exchange for a permanent spot on the PGA Seniors Tour?

    Some more color from the Post:

    At another point, he complained about having to take so many pictures with donors and told people in the crowd that if they didn’t get a picture, it was because they didn’t give enough money. He also claimed that a wedding at the property got preference over the donors because the wedding was paying more per person to be there.

    Four hundred people paid a minimum of $40,000 apiece to attend this luncheon, though in Trump’s defense, that probably only covered his legal bills for Monday. Proving once again that rich people are huge suckers. They paid forty grand a pop to sit through the same rambling, formless monologue they could have heard at one of his campaign rallies for free.

    Trump […] and his team also seem to think — or are pretending to think — they can expand his electoral map, including winning Virginia, which he lost to Biden by 10 points in 2020.

    […] Finally we would be remiss if we did not congratulate Rep. Henry Cuellar for the singular achievement of being a Democrat who has earned Trump’s sympathy for something, even if that sympathy was in service of Cuellar’s being an (alleged) degenerate criminal who took $600,000 in bribes over a decade from a Mexican bank and an Azerbaijani gas company:

    He lamented the bribery charges lodged against Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), suggesting that he “got indicted for political reasons, because he was tough on the border.”

    […]

  78. says

    The Russian government detained a U.S. soldier last week on charges of theft, according to two U.S. officials.

    The soldier, a staff sergeant who is stationed in South Korea, was arrested last Thursday, said one of the officials, who was granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive incident. The soldier had traveled to Russia to meet a woman, possibly his girlfriend, the official said.

    The State Department is in touch with the Russian government about the case, the official said, adding that the soldier has been given a pretrial detention until July 1.

    After this story was published, Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith confirmed that Russian authorities detained the soldier in Vladivostok on charges of “criminal misconduct.” The Army notified the soldier’s family, she said.

    “The Russian Federation notified the U.S. Department of State of the criminal detention in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” Smith said in a statement. “Given the sensitivity of this matter, we are unable to provide additional details at this time.”

    White House spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. is “aware of the case,” but would not comment further.

    Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “deeply concerned” about reports of the incident.

    Russian President Vladimir “Putin has a long history of holding American citizens hostage. A warning to all Americans — as the State Department has said, it is not safe to travel to Russia,” McCaul said in a statement on social media.

    Link

  79. says

    After Fox News promoted a hoax about homeless veterans being “evicted” from New York hotels to house migrants last year, some of the network’s anchors said they would provide viewers more information “as we get it.” That promise was apparently disingenuous: Fox has yet to report that the originator of the bogus story now faces federal fraud charges.

    On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged Sharon Toney-Finch, an Army veteran whose Yerik Israel Toney Foundation claims to “help homeless and low-income military service veterans in need of living assistance,” with multiple counts of fraud. They alleged that she raised funds for the group by falsely claiming to have received a Purple Heart after surviving a terrorist attack and spent the group’s money on personal expenses. They also alleged she received “hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits” by falsifying her military discharge paperwork to match her story.

    […] The story became a cause celebre for right-wing commentators seeking to demonize migrants and attack Democratic politicians. But Toney-Smith’s tale collapsed within days, as local news outlets reported that she had fabricated her story and the homeless veterans had never existed.

    […] Fox News and Fox Business gave the story, which Fox claimed to have “confirmed,” more than an hour of credulous coverage over six days.

    “This is pretty infuriating, homeless vets who served our great country, they’re being put out on the street and replaced by illegal immigrants,” prime-time star Sean Hannity alleged in one such segment.

    But as the story unraveled, Fox personalities began backtracking and admitting they had been duped. On May 24, 2023, several Fox anchors read an on-air statement which said in part, “We’ve since learned that veterans advocates misled local officials, and it now turns out those eviction claims were false. We want to update you on this story, make sure the record was set straight, and we’ll get more to you as we get it.”

    Apparently the “veterans advocate” behind the story facing criminal charges after allegedly faking a Purple Heart and defrauding the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits wasn’t worth mentioning.

    Link

  80. Reginald Selkirk says

    The rise of Sweden’s super rich

    Sweden has a global reputation for championing high taxes and social equality, but it has become a European hotspot for the super rich…

    It’s not a surprising lifestyle for a successful entrepreneur, but what might surprise global observers is how many people have become as wealthy as Mr Bergström – or even richer – in Sweden – a country with a global reputation for its leftist politics.

    Although a right-wing coalition is currently in power, the nation has been run by Social Democrat-led governments for the majority of the last century, elected on promises to grow the economy in an equitable way, with taxes funding a strong welfare state.

    But Sweden has experienced a boom in the super rich over the last three decades.

    In 1996, there were just 28 people with a net worth of a billion kronor or more (around $91m or £73m at today’s exchange rate), according to a rich list published by former Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer. Most of them came from families that had been rich for generations…

    One reason for the rise of the new super rich is Sweden’s thriving tech scene. The country has a reputation as the Silicon Valley of Europe, having produced more than 40 so-called unicorn start-ups – companies worth more than $1bn – in the past two decades…

  81. StevoR says

    Well, this was going to happen last night USA time

    After years of delays and stumbles, Boeing is finally poised to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA. It’s the first flight of Boeing’s Starliner capsule with a crew on board, a pair of NASA pilots who will check out the spacecraft during the test drive and a weeklong stay at the space station. NASA turned to U.S. companies for astronaut rides after the space shuttles were retired. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has made nine taxi trips for NASA since 2020, while Boeing has managed only a pair of unoccupied test flights. Boeing program manager Mark Nappi wishes Starliner was further along. “There’s no doubt about that, but we’re here now.” The company’s long-awaited astronaut demo is slated for liftoff Monday night.Provided this tryout goes well, NASA will alternate between Boeing and SpaceX to get astronauts to and from the space station. A look at the newest ride and its shakedown cruise:

    Source : https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/boeing-is-launching-astronauts-into-space-in-its-starliner-capsule-heres-what-to-know

    Plus see wikipage : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Starliner with note not to be confused with Rosie the Rocketer.

    But sadly :

    Starliner will wait at least one night more for a launch. Boeing’s new commercial spacecraft, Starliner, waved off its first launch attempt late tonight (May 6) due to a problem with an “oxygen relief valve on the Centaur Stage on the Atlas V,” NASA posted on X.

    Source : https://www.space.com/boeing-starliner-1st-launch-attempt-scrub

  82. StevoR says

    Oh for fucks sake! Really people? Really?

    The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre says it is “horrified” after the coroner’s office dropped off human remains in brown paper bags without warning to its reception on Friday. The four evidence bags contained ancestral remains from two separate coronial investigations. In one bag was a bone identified through testing to be Aboriginal that was found by a member of the public in a rock pool at Carlton Beach, south-east of Hobart, in 2022. The other three bags held bones found in 2016 at a remote location near Low Rocky Point on the state’s west coast.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-07/aboriginal-remains-put-in-paper-bag-given-to-tac/103812138

  83. StevoR says

    Rather staggeerd that a satellite could be lost in space -esp Earth orbit for this long..

    After 25 years of drifting undetected in space, an experimental satellite that launched in 1974 has been found using tracking data from the U.S. Space Force.The Infra-Red Calibration Balloon (S73-7) satellite started its journey into the great unknown after launching on April 10, 1974 through the United States Air Force’s Space Test Program. It was originally contained in what was called “The Hexagon System” in which S73-7, the smaller satellite, was deployed from the larger KH-9 Hexagon once in space. S73-7 measured 26 inches wide (66 centimeters) and began its life heading into a 500 mile (800 kilometers) circular orbit.

    Source : https://www.space.com/lost-satellite-found-us-space-force-data

    Even given its tiny size..

  84. lotharloo says

    I’ve been listening to the audio book of “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama” which is about the Palestinian father of a boy who suffers a bus accident. It’s a very interesting book and I highly recommend it, as it shows the point of view of ordinary Palestinians. But while listening to it, I cannot really sympathize too much with the main Palestinian dude, and I can’t stop thinking if men were not in charge, things would have been so much better. Men in charge of brutal right-wing policies of Israel and men in charge of bone-headed dumbass Palestinians. So far I feel the most sympathy of the Palestinian women who tolerate and suffer the dumbass decisions of their husbands.

  85. StevoR says

    @105. Update :

    Early on Tuesday morning (May 7), NASA announced that launch teams need more time to troubleshoot the issue. The earliest that CFT (Starliner’s first crewed flight could launch is now Friday night (May 10), at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT on May 11).

    Source : https://www.space.com/news/live/boeing-starliner-live-updates

    Although whether an launch attempt will actually be made then or not I dunno .

  86. StevoR says

    Ever wonder what happens when you fall into a black hole? Now, thanks to a new, immersive visualization produced on a NASA supercomputer, viewers can plunge into the event horizon, a black hole’s point of no return.

    …(Snip)… (Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center-ed.) simulated two different scenarios, one where a camera—a stand-in for a daring astronaut—just misses the event horizon and slingshots back out, and one where it crosses the boundary, sealing its fate.”The visualizations are available in multiple forms. Explainer videos act as sightseeing guides, illuminating the bizarre effects of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Versions rendered as 360-degree videos let viewers look all around during the trip, while others play as flat all-sky maps.

    Source : https://phys.org/news/2024-05-black-hole-visualization-viewers-brink.html

  87. says

    Sweltering heat ravages crops and takes lives in south-east Asia

    Extreme heat has gripped much of south and south-east Asia over recent weeks, killing dozens of people, forcing millions of students to miss school and destroying crops.
    Both the Philippines and Bangladesh shut schools due to the unbearable heat last month, while governments across the region have issued health warnings. In Thailand, at least 30 people have died from heatstroke since the start of the year.

    Records have been broken across the region. Bangladesh experienced its hottest April ever recorded, with daily maximum temperatures between 2C and 8C hotter than the 33.2C average daily high for the month. In Myanmar, 48.2C was reached in the town of Chauk, in central Magway region – the hottest April temperature since records began.

    Dr Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said: “The frequency, intensity, duration and the area covered by these heatwaves are increasing over time. We are on a rollercoaster ride in terms of temperature, which is not going to come down any time soon. It’s going to be worse, which means we need to be prepared.”

    Sadly, not that surprising. This is probably just our new normal.

  88. StevoR says

    Israeli troops are on the ground inRafah and have taken controlof the Rafah crossing. It appears the threatened invasionof Rafah is underway.

    Live news coverage via ABC news here :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-07/idf-says-it-has-taken-control-of-of-rafah-crossing-live/103815424

    Plus Times of israel :

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-may-7-2024/

    In addition to Al Jazeera

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/liveblog/2024/5/7/israels-war-on-gaza-live-israel-blasts-rafah-fate-of-ceasefire-uncertain

  89. John Morales says

    Ah, yes. Israel. USA.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2024/05/07/israel-us-arms-used-strike-killed-lebanon-aid-workers

    (Beirut) – An Israeli strike on an emergency and relief center in south Lebanon on March 27, 2024, was an unlawful attack on civilians that failed to take all necessary precautions, Human Rights Watch said today. If the attack on civilians was carried out intentionally or recklessly, it should be investigated as an apparent war crime. The strike, using a US-made Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kit and an Israeli-made 500-pound (about 230 kilograms) general purpose bomb, killed seven emergency and relief volunteers from the town of Habbarieh, five kilometers north of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    The strike, after midnight, targeted a residential structure that housed the Emergency and Relief Corps of the Lebanese Succour Association, a nongovernmental humanitarian organization that provides emergency, rescue, first aid training, and relief services in Lebanon. Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a military target at the site. Just a week before, Israel reportedly submitted written assurances to the US State Department that US-provided weapons were not being used in violation of international law.

    “Israeli forces used a US weapon to conduct a strike that killed seven civilian relief workers in Lebanon who were merely doing their jobs,” said Ramzi Kaiss, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Israel’s assurances to the United States that it is abiding by the laws of war ring hollow. The US needs to acknowledge reality and cut off arms to Israel.”

    Sunk cost.

  90. StevoR says

    Oh and elsewhere we have Putin threatening the world with nukes over his desire to genocide Ukraine again and also :

    An Australian pilot was forced to take evasive action after a Chinese military jet detonated flares close to a Navy helicopter that was operating in international waters near South Korea.The Defence Department has described the actions of the J-10 Chinese Air Force plane as “unsafe and unprofessional” following the incident which took place in the Yellow Sea over the weekend.On Saturday a MH-60R Seahawk which had launched from HMAS Hobart was intercepted by the People’s Liberation Army-Air Force (PLA-AF) as it was taking part in a UN mission to enforce sanctions against North Korea.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-06/australian-helicopter-chines-fighter-flares-hmas-hobart/103812042

    World is facing a planetary Climate emergency that threatens to destroy the world as we know it and we’re killing and hating on each other with various wars & nationalist domination and bullying power games instead of tackling it. Humans WTF!?

  91. StevoR says

    On Putin’s latest menacings see :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-06/russia-to-hold-nuclear-weapons-drills-in-response-to-west/103812334

    Russia plans to hold drills simulating the use of battlefield nuclear weapons, days after the Kremlin reacted angrily to comments by senior Western officials about the war in Ukraine and Moscow.

    The Defense Ministry announced the plans on Monday local time, saying they would be in response to “provocative statements and threats of certain Western officials regarding the Russian Federation”.

    It was the first time that Russia has publicly announced drills involving tactical nuclear weapons, though its strategic nuclear forces regularly hold exercises.

    Ukraine’s military spy agency spokesperson Andriy Yusov dismissed the plans as “nuclear blackmail”.

  92. StevoR says

    Another ticking Climate time bomb Great* :

    Australia’s zero greenhouse gas ambitions could be set back if a vast reserve of carbon stored in a seabed off Western Australia is released into the atmosphere, according to a leading marine ecologist. World Heritage-listed Shark Bay has the planet’s largest reserve of seagrass meadows, but more than a quarter were lost in a marine heatwave in 2011. Only 10 per cent has recovered and research shows the massive carbon deposits under the exposed areas are at risk of release during heavy storms.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-05/carbon-seaweed-western-australia-gas-shark-bay/103790512

    Sheesh, its all bloody good news* tonight ain’t it?

    .* Does this really need a sarc tag?

  93. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine says it foiled a Russian spy agency plot to assassinate President Zelenskyy

    Ukrainian counterintelligence investigators have foiled a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top military and political figures, Ukraine’s state security service said Tuesday.

    Two colonels in the State Guard of Ukraine, which protects top officials, were detained on suspicion of enacting the plan drawn up by Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, a statement said. The colonels were recruited before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to the statement…

  94. birgerjohansson says

    StevoR @ 106
    The USAF and organisations of other nations keep track of an immense amount of space junk. Some of it is adapters, dead satellites or discarded rocket stages. The majority is probably the debris from ruptured pressure vessels and other things that literally has fallen apart.
    Identifying a specific satellite in this cloud is harder than finding a needle in a haystack.

  95. says

    New data on Social Security’s finances offered fresh evidence: President Joe Biden is helping strengthen the system as Donald Trump threatens to weaken it.

    It was a couple of months ago when the Republican Study Committee released a controversial budget plan that, among other things, endorsed going after Social Security and Medicare. This, not surprisingly, generated some swift pushback from the programs’ Democratic champions.

    Soon after, however, Donald Trump apparently thought he could try to turn the tables. In late March, the former president insisted that it was Democrats who were in the process of “killing” Social Security “by allowing the INVASION OF THE MIGRANTS.”

    None of this made any sense. In fact, it was a reminder that the presumptive Republican nominee still, even now, doesn’t understand the basics of how Social Security works: As a Washington Post fact-check report explained, “Undocumented immigrants improve the health of Social Security and Medicare by paying payroll taxes without receiving benefits.”

    Trump, in other words, had reality backwards.

    This week, the idea that Democrats are “killing” the Social Security system became even sillier. NBC News reported:

    The trust funds the Social Security Administration relies on to pay benefits are now projected to run out in 2035, one year later than previously projected, according to the annual trustees’ report released on Monday. … The Social Security trustees credited the slightly improved outlook to more people contributing to the program amid a strong economy, low unemployment and higher job and wage growth.

    In other words, despite longer-term challenges facing the system, Biden-era economic growth has been so strong that the Social Security system’s finances have gotten better, not worse.

    “This year’s report is a measure of good news for the millions of Americans who depend on Social Security, including the roughly 50% of seniors for whom Social Security is the difference between poverty and living in dignity — any potential benefit reduction event has been pushed off from 2034 to 2035,” Social Security Commissioner Martin O’Malley said in a statement.

    O’Malley also took the opportunity to urge Congress to extend the trust fund’s solvency “as it did in the past on a bipartisan basis.”

    Given that such a move would require Republicans to accept some concessions on tax policy, this seems extraordinarily unlikely.

    But complicating matters further is the fact Trump appears desperate to launch the largest and most aggressive mass-deportation program in generations. No matter what one’s opinion might be about immigration, there’s no great mystery as to what such a move would do to Social Security: It would weaken the system’s financial health.

    It’s really not that complicated. When employers hire undocumented workers, many of whom rely on fraudulent Social Security numbers, the businesses subtract payroll taxes that go toward the Social Security and Medicare systems. Those workers, however, will not receive Social Security and Medicare benefits — because they’re ineligible — which means each of those employees is inadvertently strengthening the programs’ finances: They’re putting money into the system without taking anything out.

    (Why would they do that? Because even after the payroll taxes are subtracted, these workers believe they’ll make more money than they would in the countries they left behind.)

    If Trump were to implement a mass-deportation program, and succeeded in removing millions of undocumented workers, that would weaken Social Security’s and Medicare’s finances and accelerate the social-insurance programs’ insolvency. The former president might not understand any of this, but voters should.

  96. says

    Financial Times:

    European intelligence agencies have warned their governments that Russia is plotting violent acts of sabotage across the continent as it commits to a course of permanent conflict with the west.

    Russia has already begun to more actively prepare covert bombings, arson attacks and damage to infrastructure on European soil, directly and via proxies, with little apparent concern about causing civilian fatalities, intelligence officials believe.

  97. birgerjohansson says

    Sabine Hossenfelder dropped the ball on LGBTQ issues but is reliable when it comes to physics and other non-social sciences.
    Her work as a science communicator caught the attention of someone involved in keeping track of asteroids.

    “NASA named an asteroid after me”
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=iiC1VO_uvrQ

  98. says

    Associated Press:

    Kentucky Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, who worked to expand early voting in the Bluegrass State and has spoken out against election denialism in his own party, has been chosen to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award this year. In its announcement Monday, the JFK Library Foundation said Adams was recognized ‘for expanding voting rights and standing up for free and fair elections despite party opposition and death threats from election deniers.

  99. says

    Oh Look, Aileen Cannon Has Delayed The MAL Case Yet Again

    I’ve lost track of how many Morning Memos have led with the latest delay allowed, imposed, or facilitated by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. But it’s a lot!

    In her latest move yesterday, she suspended this week’s deadline for Donald Trump to make a crucial filing in the pretrial wrangling over what classified information will be allowed at trial.

    True to form, Cannon didn’t set a new deadline; instead, she’ll let things float along again for some indeterminate amount of time. The trial is still set to begin May 20, but that date became unrealistic months ago due to her delays, and she has resisted setting a new trial date.

    The specific deadline Cannon suspended was for Trump to declare which classified information he intends to use at trial, which would then set off a back and forth between the two sides under the Classified Information Procedures Act. That’s typically a fairly involved and often lengthy process that trial judges engage in as reasonably early as possible to clear the way for trial. Special Counsel Jack Smith has been pushing for months to get the CIPA process rolling; Trump of course has objected; and Cannon has played along.

    The May 20 trial date is no more in jeopardy after Cannon’s latest (unexplained, by the way) decision than it was before. It was definitely not happening because of Cannon’s prior inertia. But whatever narrow window remained for trying this case before the election closed a little more.

    The bottom line is this: Cannon has turned the flame under the water up so slowly and incrementally that there has been no concerted national outrage about her wildly inappropriate handling of the case. […] At the same time, she has continued to punt actual decisions that could potentially create grounds for appeal. It’s a one-two punch that leaves Smith in an impossible bind.

  100. lotharloo says

    @birgerjohansson:

    She made mistakes but a lot of the criticism against her was in bad faith honestly. She is still very brave and I give her a lot of credit for going against established forces in academia and calling out the bullshit on people in her area. Academia certainly needs more people like her. I also identified a lot with her video on why she failed academia.

  101. birgerjohansson says

    Nasty ur-Aryans spread the indo-european language.
    “Yamnaya Culture: The Most Powerful Culture You May Not Know About…”
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=eyeQCro_xiY

    Of course they comitted genocide, we know that from the genetic changes in the Pyrenean peninsula.
    -There is also the matter of transmitting pathogens (yersina pestis) the locals had no resistance for. The big die-off in the Americas could have had a smaller prequel in Europe four millennia earlier.

  102. says

    Excerpts from live coverage of Trump’s trial in New York:

    Stormy Daniels says that Trump would call her in the months after, in part because, she says, her publicist thought it would be a “good idea” to keep the conversation going about appearing on The Apprentice.

    Daniels says that she always put Trump on speakerphone with “dozens and dozens of people” around. “We thought it was funny,” she adds.

    Rhona Graff, Trump’s assistant, ended up serving as a liaison between Trump and Daniels, she testifies.

    Trump’s attorneys are making lots of objections to the portion of testimony about Daniels and Trump having sex. They’ve won many of them: again, Merchan said that the level of detail has already gone beyond what’s necessary.

    What shines through in the testimony is Daniels’ own lingering feelings around her lack of clear consent to sex with Trump. A theme of her testimony is her emphasizing that, yes, she is a porn star, but it doesn’t mean what she seems to think others often assume: that she’s given up all rights to bodily autonomy as a result.

    She says that she left shaking, and told very few people about the encounter in part because she was “ashamed that I didn’t stop it,” or because people might “assume that I was paid, that I was a prostitute.”

    Daniels testifies that Trump did not use a condom, that she was uncomfortable with that, and that she never said no.

    “I never said anything at all,” Daniels says.

    She recalls that she left as fast as she could, but that Trump said they should “get together again,” that he’d try to get her on Celebrity Apprentice, and called her “honeybunch.”

    […] she recalled confronting Trump about cutting her off to brag about himself: “Are you always this arrogant and pompous?” she asked.

    That led to an exchange where Daniels recalled putting him in his place, so to speak, by rolling up a magazine and spanking him with it, “right on the butt.”

    Daniels is going through her dinnertime conversation with Trump.

    He, the consummate New York City businessman, purportedly asked her about whether porn stars had a union representing them, how the filming worked, whether they receive residuals.

    “These were more very thought-out business questions,” she recalled, adding that he was impressed that she had directed and written adult films. “Some adult films have real scripts and are real movies […]

    Daniels says that she accepted the invitation in part to avoid attending a dinner with the rest of the staff of the adult film company where she worked: “catfight stuff.”

    So, Daniels said, she and her publicist decided that a dinner with Trump was a preferable alternative.

    “What could possibly go wrong?” she testifies thinking.

    Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, asked Daniels whether she would like to have dinner with him. She said no initially but took the bodyguard’s number.

    Prosecutors show a contact in Daniels’ phone for the person, listed as “Keith Trump.”

    This is important because, again, we have a document which could help substantiate Daniels’ story.

    Daniels says that she grew up poor, and describes her mother as neglectful.

    “She would disappear for days at a time. I wish I could say she was an addict of some kind,” Daniels says.

    She emphasizes that she received a full scholarship for veterinary medicine at Texas A&M, but couldn’t figure out how to afford other costs — the move, living expenses — associated with attendance.

    At the same time, she says, she had begun to make money in another way, after, at age 17, a friend told her about a “dancing” opportunity.

    “It thought she meant the same kind of dancing that I did, which was ballet, ballroom tap,” Daniels says. She adds that it paid more than “shoveling manure” in a horse stable.

    Trump said, according to his ghostwritten book: “When you sign a check yourself, you’re seeing what’s really going on inside your business, and if people see your signature at the bottom of the check, they know you’re watching them, and they screw you less because they have proof you care about the details.”

    We’ve now heard both from Trump employees and from Trump himself, via this book in his name, that he paid very close attention to any bill he had to pay. Prosecutors need to show that that care extended to the $420,000 that went to Cohen as a reimbursement for, in part, the $130,000 payment he made for Stormy Daniels’ silence.

    two books: “Trump: How to Get Rich” and “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire.”

    n the first book, prosecutor Rebecca Mangold showed a chapter titled, “Sometimes You Still Have to Screw Them.” That contained the following line, elicited for the jury:

    “When someone hurts you, go back at them as viciously and violently as you can. Like it says in the bible, an eye for an eye.”

    Even now, years on from the scandal breaking, Trump continues to deny that he slept with Stormy Daniels. It’s all incredibly personal, and put on view in the most public way imaginable.

    Daniels retells her story that, as she was leaving a Las Vegas workout class for new mothers, an unknown man approached her in a parking lot. The person, Daniels said, threatened her and told her not to tell the story of her encounter with Trump.

    This has been a key part of Daniels’ story, and a point of vulnerability that Trump and his attorneys have hit on: Daniels did not file a police report, and there’s no witness who can corroborate it.

    However, that lack of corroboration does show that Daniels has credibly testified to having had many interactions with Trump over several years. She’s spoken of dozens of witnesses who could confirm it, and of phone calls supported by cellular records. It all gives the lie to Trump’s blanket denial of ever having had anything to do with her.

    Daniels’ testimony has genuinely fluctuated between mocking asides about Trump and a much grimmer description of her memories of sex with the man himself, her lack of consent, her leaving the room “shaking,” and her “shame” afterwards.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/live-blog/stormy-daniels-expected-on-stand-tuesday-at-trumps-new-york-trial

  103. says

    Jonathan Swan at The New York Times:

    Trump has claimed he had nothing to do with Stormy Daniels, just as he has nothing to do with any of the women who’ve made claims against him. But the cumulative testimony extracted from this line of questioning is that Stormy Daniels met with Trump on multiple occasions, with dozens of witnesses.

    Mark Sumner:

    Plus phone call logs. Plus the numbers in her phone book. Plus her detailed descriptions of Trump’s hotel room and clothing. Plus the photo of them together.

    [later, during the encounter with Trump] Daniels explains that she went to the bathroom in Trump’s hotel room. She gives a highly detailed account of what she saw, including Trump’s toiletry bag and other items scattered around.

    When she came out, Trump was waiting for her in his underwear.

    Daniels moved to leave, but Trump blocked her way. Daniels says this was not in a threatening way, though it’s hard to think of an unthreatening way a man in his underwear could block a woman trying to leave a hotel room.

    […] CNN has an interesting point about how much of Daniels’s testimony speaks to the power dynamic between the two at that hotel room meeting. After the defense led Daniels through her impoverished childhood, she described Trump’s hotel room as being larger than her last three houses.

    Trump had also just asked all those questions about her industry, which Daniels could easily see as a signal that Trump was interested in becoming a big player.

    All of this is directly relevant to explaining why Daniels might have agreed to do something she didn’t actually want to do.

    Stormy Daniels takes on the defense’s argument about her directly, saying that it was Trump himself who invited her to come on “The Apprentice,” not the other way around.

    Donald Trump married Melania Knauss in 2005. So the events Daniels is describing supposedly happened in the first year of that marriage.

    Daniels testifies that Trump told her that he and his wife don’t sleep in the same room, sparking an audible response in the gallery of the coutroom.

    Daniels was just 27 when she met Trump. In a notable line, she says she knew that he was “as old or older than my father.”

    She seems more confident as the state establishes that Daniels was more than just a body on screen.

    Link

  104. says

    New York sues anti-abortion groups promoting false method to reverse medication abortion

    New York is suing an anti-abortion group and almost a dozen pregnancy counseling centers for promoting an unproven method to reverse medication abortions, Attorney General Letitia James announced Monday.

    James, a Democrat, sued Heartbeat International and 11 pregnancy centers in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, arguing the groups violated laws around making false or misleading advertisements.

    The case follows a similar lawsuit in California and other legal action in states such as Colorado regarding unsubstantiated treatments to reverse medication abortions.

    Medication abortion is the most common way to end a pregnancy. The process involves taking two different drugs—mifepristone and misoprostol—days apart.

    According to the New York lawsuit, the organizations promote a protocol called the “Abortion Pill Reversal,” in which a person who has taken mifepristone is advised not to take the follow-up of misoprostol and instead is given repeated doses of the hormone progesterone.

    The so-called “Abortion Pill Reversal” treatment has not been approved by federal regulators and major medical associations have warned that the protocol is unproven and unscientific, the lawsuit said.

    “Abortions cannot be reversed. Any treatments that claim to do so are made without scientific evidence and could be unsafe,” James said in a statement.

    Heartbeat International, in a statement, said the lawsuit is “a clear attempt to censor speech.”

  105. birgerjohansson says

    A Swedish TV program did a nice piece of investigative jornalism (we call it “wallraffing” after German journalist Gunther Wallraff, who used fake identities to infiltrate places).
    They investigated social media “troll factories” associated with the SD party, an association SD has always denied.
    It turns out SD aka the Xenophobe Party, aka the Lies And Desinformation Party is 100% committed to lies and desinformation.

  106. says

    Tom Nichols of The Atlantic takes a closer look at Anne Applebaum’s essay in the same publication:

    […] Americans are being targeted by foreign propagandists who are using the internet and social media to pump their toxic slurry directly into American veins. “A part of the American political spectrum is not merely a passive recipient of the combined authoritarian narratives that come from Russia, China, and their ilk,” Anne writes, “but an active participant in creating and spreading them. Like the leaders of those countries, the American MAGA right also wants Americans to believe that their democracy is degenerate, their elections illegitimate, their civilization dying.”

    […] this propaganda has found willing customers […] gorging on entertaining conspiracy theories. Americans don’t have to seek out foreign propaganda when plenty of their fellow citizens are eager to sell them lies that have been altered to suit American tastes. But why does American society have so many takers for such soul-destroying nonsense? Anne points out that after the ISIS terrorist attack on a concert hall in Moscow in March, the former PayPal entrepreneur (and close pal of Elon Musk’s) David Sacks posted on X that “if the Ukrainian government was behind the terrorist attack, as looks increasingly likely, the U.S. must renounce it.” This inane and baseless charge has been viewed 2.5 million times.

    More than David Sacks himself, however, the problem is a culture that even thinks to take people such as David Sacks seriously. Democracies have always had conspiracy theorists and other cranks wandering about the public square, sneezing and coughing various forms of weirdness on their fellow citizens. But even in the recent past, most people with a basic level of education and a healthy dollop of common sense had no trouble resisting the contagion of idiocy. […]

    Link

  107. says

    From Toxic Mold to Rampant Fraud: How Privatizing Military Housing Became a Nightmare for Soldiers

    In December 2021, Army Sergeant Johny Dudek, his wife, and their 2-year-old son moved into a three-bedroom house next to the Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas. The Dudeks had a baby on the way, and they figured that living in military housing would help them save up for their growing family.

    Shortly after moving in, they noticed water damage in their kitchen and dining room. Soon, the family started falling ill with respiratory illnesses and other ailments. […]

    The housing issues that Dudek says derailed his military career were not news to the Defense Department. The same month the Dudek family moved into their home at the end of 2021, Balfour Beatty pleaded guilty to defrauding the US military of millions by falsifying maintenance records on military housing. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco described Balfour’s scheme as the result of a “broken corporate culture,” and the company was ordered to pay over $65 million in fines.

    But Balfour continues to hold lucrative military housing contracts across the nation. It is one of 14 private companies that own and operate 99 percent of military family housing in the US, controlling 78 developments. It also isn’t the only company that has faced accusations of work order fraud: Hunt Companies, Inc., the largest of the military housing providers, agreed to a $500,000 settlement with no admission of guilt in a similar federal fraud case in 2022.

    Roughly 700,000 service members and their families live in privatized military housing, where they could be subject to dangerous living conditions created by substandard landlords.

    […] Their ordeals have been made possible by the federal government: Contracts obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) as part of a yearlong investigation reveal the devil’s bargain the Defense Department struck when it handed over responsibility for military housing to the private sector in order to offload the expensive burden of maintaining these homes. These agreements include provisions that make them nearly impossible to terminate and that allow companies to evade some environmental, tenant rights, and consumer protection laws.

    Military housing advocates, legal experts, and lawmakers interviewed for this investigation say the lopsided terms woven into these contracts—which provide few mechanisms for accountability—helped cause the nightmarish housing conditions service members like Dudek have faced.

    […] Multiple families said they lost all their household belongings due to mold contamination. […] They reported severe pest infestations, rampant health and safety hazards […]

    Following national media attention about substandard housing conditions for military families, in 2019, Congress took steps to address the issue by adding protections in the 2020 and 2021 National Defense Authorization Acts, including a “Tenant Bill of Rights” for service members. But according to legal experts and military housing advocates, those efforts have proven inadequate, largely because these new protections can’t escape the ill-conceived contracts underpinning the privatized military housing system—and the powerful players pushing to maintain the status quo.

    “These houses aren’t taken care of—they’re held together with popsicle sticks and bubblegum,” Dudek says. “Because despite our immense military budget, our government has sold off maintaining these homes—taking care of our soldiers and their families—to [companies that do] the minimum amount of work for the maximum amount of profit.”

    […] “You had guaranteed tenants, a continuous flow of tenants, and no way for tenants to…fail to pay the rent,” Coffman says, since rent is often automatically deducted from service members’ pay.

    […] these companies pushed for contracts that would ensure their involvement for decades—often 50 years—and lock the government into favorable terms that now shield the companies from having to adhere to new tenant protections established since these contracts were originally drafted. (Among the legal agreements obtained by POGO, most aren’t set to expire until the 2050s.)

    […] “In Australia, there is a government entity which manages military housing,” Rostker says. “There is no reason that could not have been done here. But it wasn’t.”

    […] There is yet another factor unique to military housing that stacks the odds against service members: Present-day environmental, housing, and personal injury laws don’t always apply on military bases. This is because of a little-known legal concept—called the “federal enclave doctrine”—that’s being used as a defense in military housing cases around the country. […] A “federal enclave” is territory a state has ceded to the federal government; most military installations fall into this designation. These enclaves are typically governed by the laws that existed when the land was handed over to the military, no matter how much those laws have changed in the years since to offer stronger safeguards.

    […] During the House subcommittee hearing, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said it would cost at least $40 billion to terminate existing military housing contracts and buy out the creditors. And companies like Balfour Beatty, she said, understand this; their contracts are virtually untouchable, which make potential penalties for wrongdoing seem like just the “cost of doing business.” She added: “They basically can act with impunity.”

    […] anger and frustration that the military passed off responsibility for military housing to private companies, forcing service members to battle multinational corporations to protect their families. […]

  108. says

    More details from coverage of the Trump trial in NY:

    Daniels connected the timing of her hush money negotiations in October 2016 to that year’s upcoming presidential election, indicating she wanted it settled before the polls closed.

    “I was afraid that if it wasn’t done before the nomination I wouldn’t be safe,” Daniels said, before correcting herself that she meant “the election.”

    “Or he would never pay and there wouldn’t be a trail to keep me safe,” she added. [She had and her infant daughter had been threatened before.]<

    Daniels confirmed that in 2011, she sat for 10-20 minute interview with In Touch Weekly, a celebrity gossip magazine, about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Daniels said she participated to control her narrative.

    The porn actor said she was supposed to be paid $15,000 but the story never ran. She said “not exactly, no” when asked by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger if she knew why it didn’t publish. It reportedly was killed after Michael Cohen threatened to sue.

    Hoffinger also asked Daniels if she told the magazine all the details.

    “No. I tried to keep it fairly lighthearted and to the point,” Daniels responded.[…]

    Link

  109. says

    Oh dear.

    Meanwhile on Fox News, Jesse Watters is openly fantasizing about what might happen when Trump goes to jail. […]Watters is fantasizing about what kind of sex body Trump is going to get in jail.
    [video at the link]

    “He’s going to come out with a prison body,” said Jesse, trying to be all casual about it, like he was just stating a very sexy fact, casually. “That’s what happens when you go to prison. You work out, that’s all there is to do.”

    […] Jesse Watters is just imagining Trump working out, his Trump sweat dripping out of the back of his Trump head and down his Trump back.

    […] A couple things here about High King Waddles-a-Lot of Mar-a-Lago:

    Trump thinks exercise kills you.

    The only kind of “exercise” he does is cheating at golf.

    And then there is the longstanding matter of those bone spurs, which have sadly prevented Trump from doing so many things he in his patriotic heart has dreamed about, throughout his entire life.

    And wasn’t Jesse Watters literally just saying Trump is too old to go to court every day? How does that square with him taking on a rigorous workout routine in the clink?

    Donald Trump is physically incapable of standing like a normal person. Look at him trying to stand and hold pizza at the same time. [photo at the link]

    […] We know MAGA men really like to inflate Trump’s physical characteristics, posting their little memes of Trump with a hot body and codpieces and all that. We know they like to imagine him with a wangus that doesn’t look like a little Nintendo mushroom.

    […] remember that time Stormy Daniels talked about Trump’s Yeti Pubes in her book? “I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart,” that was her exact quote, which is pertinent to Trump’s criminal trial!

    Maybe he could spend some time in jail trimming those.

    OK, good blog post, we nailed it as usual, Wonkette out.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/jesse-watters-openly-fantasizing

  110. says

    With Biden Funding, IRS To Actually Audit More Rich F*ckwads Than Poor People!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/with-biden-funding-irs-to-actually

    An objective assessment of how this is an absolutely fucking necessary good first step.

    The Internal Revenue Service announced last week that as part of its “strategic operating plan” for this year and next the agency intends to ramp up the rate at which it audits the wealthiest individual taxpayers and giant corporations, while not increasing audits of small businesses or the middle or working class. […]

    The IRS plans to increase by about 50 percent audit rates of individuals with more than $10 million in income, going from 11 percent of those fat cats in 2019 to 16.5 percent of them in the 2026 tax year. [Still doesn’t sound like all that much.]

    Audit rates for “large corporations with assets over $250 million” should nearly triple, from 8.8 percent in 2019 to 22.6 percent by tax year 2026. [Good] The agency will also seek a “nearly ten-fold” increase in audits of “large, complex partnerships with assets over $10 million.” There, the percentages are actually relatively small, increasing from just a tenth of one percent in 2019 all the way up to a full percent by 2026. We guess that “large complex” thing complicates auditing them. [Sigh]

    The additional funding to go after wealthy tax cheats comes from 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act, which provided a much-needed boost — $78 billion over 10 years — not only to hire more agents to do audits, but also to significantly upgrade the agency’s antiquated computer systems, improve customer service, and improve the accuracy and speed of processing tax returns. The money was desperately needed after more than a decade of budget cuts by Republicans, even as the population and the complexity of corporate tax returns increased.

    Republicans have since demanded cuts to the new funding as the price of keeping the government open, because making life good for wealthy tax cheats and corporations is the only thing the GOP actually considers a legislative priority. Their attempts to completely roll back the new funds have so far failed completely, although that is of course a central goal on the GOP’s Project 2025 wish list, which would also roll back pretty much everything else in the IRA from negotiated Medicare drug prices to all of the measures aimed at controlling climate change.

    […] CNN notes that while audits will be increasing substantially, overall audit rates

    won’t exceed those reached in 2010 because the number of filings by large corporations, partnerships and wealthy individuals have grown and become more complex, the IRS said.

    […] given the new focus on auditing wealthy taxpayers and corporations (and the funding to do it), the agency is “substantially reducing the number of correspondence audits focused specifically on certain refundable credits” that are primarily used by low-income people, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), American Opportunity Tax Credit, Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit, and Additional Child Tax Credit.

    […] How bad was the problem? ProPublica found that “millionaires in 2018 were about 80% less likely to be audited than they were in 2011.” […]

    And now it’s fixed and the IRS will be using its audit resources to get back more of the money owed by cheaters, amen.

    We would go into more about how the IRS has also improved its customer service and IT infrastructure, but frankly we’re just to happy to report that it’s going to back off audits of the poor and increase audits of the rich and corporations that we’ll leave it at that and underline once more why we do not need a wealthy business frauder back in office to spread more fraud to the actual billionaires he wishes he was, thank you very much.

  111. says

    The Israeli military said its ground forces have seized control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, closing a crucial entry point for humanitarian aid into the besieged Palestinian enclave.

    […] Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited troops in Rafah today, where he vowed that military operations in the border city would not stop “until the destruction of Hamas” or the hostages are returned.

    “We are willing to make compromises in order to bring back hostages, but if that option is removed, we will go on and deepen the operation — this will happen all over the strip — in the south, in the center and in the north,” Gallant said, according to a news release from his office.

    […] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas’ announcement accepting a cease-fire proposal was an attempt to “sabotage” the Israeli military’s entry into Rafah.

    […] With both the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings closed, the United Nations and its aid branches worry how to sustain humanitarian aid efforts without the ability to restock supplies.

    U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged Israel’s government to hold off on military escalations as diplomatic negotiations resume. He told reporters today that there is a risk of running out of fuel by the evening with the crossings closed.

    “Even the best friends of Israel are clear: An assault on Rafah would be a strategic mistake, a political calamity, and a humanitarian nightmare,” Guterres said.

    The World Food Program, a U.N. aid organization, said its current stock of supplies may cover up the needs for Palestinians in Rafah, Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis for up to four days. Sam Rose, planning chief for the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees, told Al Jazeera that UNRWA teams will stay where they are but the future of its operations are unclear.

    “The issue is our ability to continue delivering over a sustained duration of time if the crossings remain closed,” Rose said. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  112. Reginald Selkirk says

    US, UK police identify and charge Russian leader of LockBit ransomware gang

    The identity of the leader of one of the most infamous ransomware groups in history has finally been revealed.

    On Tuesday, a coalition of law enforcement led by the U.K.’s National Crime Agency announced that Russian national, Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev, 31, is the person behind the nickname LockBitSupp, the administrator and developer of the LockBit ransomware. The U.S. Department of Justice also announced the indictment of Khoroshev, accusing him of computer crimes, fraud and extortion…

  113. says

    Putin sworn in for another term as Russian president in Kremlin ceremony

    The United States and many other Western countries boycotted the inauguration Tuesday, which came after Moscow’s latest round of nuclear saber-rattling.

    […] Putin, 71, extended his rule in an effectively uncontested election in March, having crushed any political opposition and launched the invasion of Ukraine that set Russia on its path to unprecedented global isolation and domestic repression.

    Having tightened his quarter-century grip on power, Putin placed his hand atop the Russian Constitution at Tuesday’s ceremony and vowed to serve the Russian people.

    “We are a united and great people and together we will overcome all obstacles, realize all our plans. Together we will win!” he said, after being sworn in before a grand hall filled with dignitaries. […]

    Russian state TV broadcast the hourlong ceremony live, accompanied by enthusiastic commentary, showing Putin walking out of his office in the Kremlin as he got into a car for a short drive to the ceremony as snow fell on Moscow.

    He then walked the red carpet of the Kremlin’s historic halls to the applause of hundreds of guests, made up of Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians and celebrities, including American actor Steven Seagal, who has supported Putin for years. Asked by NBC News for his impression of the event, Seagal replied: “the best.”

    […] “The choice is theirs: Do they [Western governments] intend to continue trying to restrain the development of Russia, continue the policy of aggression, continuous pressure on our country for years, or look for a path to cooperation and peace,” he added. Putin has framed his invasion of Ukraine as part of an existential conflict with the West, which he blames for trying to subdue Russia’s might.

    […] He will soon match Soviet leader Josef Stalin as the country’s longest-serving modern ruler. Putin is eligible to run for another six-year term after his current tenure expires in 2030, when he will be 77.

    Video at the link.

  114. says

    ‘True The Vote’ Put Out A Handbook Encouraging Vigilante Reporting Of Non-Citizen Voting

    Donald Trump, True the Vote and other Trump-supporting far-right groups are spreading lies about non-citizen voting ahead of the 2024 election, setting themselves up to declare mass fraud if things don’t go how they want in the fall.

    True the Vote, the right-wing conspiracy theorist group that spread lies of ballot stuffing in the 2020 election is focused on perpetuating a new lie ahead of 2024: the myth of non-citizens voting in elections.

    The group, which last year admitted before a Fulton County Judge that they had no evidence of any kind to support their baseless ballot stuffing claims that were used in the widely-debunked Dinesh D’souza film “2000 mules,” released a 44-page “advocate handbook.” […]

    the handbook […] is riddled with errors, deliberate omissions of facts, and most glaringly and unsurprisingly, zero evidence to suggest claims that there was or will be non-citizens voting en masse in the upcoming election. […]

    David Becker, the executive director and founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, told TPM that True the Vote’s recent efforts are merely a way to cast doubt on the integrity of another election. “It’s an attempt to create a false narrative about the security and integrity of an election again, that they think they’re going to lose,” he said.

    It’s also a provably false narrative. Non-citizens have been prevented from voting in federal elections for a long time, and those laws have been augmented by the 2002 Help America Vote Act, passed in response to the 2000 election, which requires all new registrants to provide identification at the polls.

    […] True the Vote is not the only group promoting this false narrative and fear mongering about non-citizen voting in 2024 as Trump and his supporters look for ways to keep election denialism as well as immigration and their manufactured crisis at the southern border front and center this campaign season. Last month, the far right Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which maintains that sheriffs hold supreme law enforcement authority in the country, held an all-day event which focused in part on the myth of undocumented immigrants voting in November. As WIRED reported, speakers at the event shared guides on how to prevent the “expected flood” of alleged non citizens from casting votes.

    […] True the Vote’s “The 611 Project” specifically emphasizes “public awareness campaigns” and offers followers guides on how to confirm and report “ineligible” voter records. Experts warn elements of “The 611 Project” are particularly dangerous because they encourage vigilante activity that targets voters based on their race or ethnicity.

    […] The handbook also references a 2021 executive order. The guidebook claims that through that order “the Biden Administration weaponized all agencies of the federal government to push voter registration in populations where eligibility statuses cannot be effectively tracked…” This is a false claim. In reality, the executive order requires that all federal agencies do what they can do to help get information out about the voting process and to help eligible Americans register to vote within the legal limits of each of those agencies.

    […] voting records are one of the first things that immigration officials check when an immigrant is requesting a status change.

    […] It’s true that a feature of American law is that American citizens can vote, even if those citizens haven’t lived permanently in the U.S. So, this section of the handbook isn’t even a complaint about non-citizens voting, but, rather, and more strangely, about legal citizens. […]

    Eliza Sweren-Becker, senior counsel in the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, similarly described the continued perpetuation of this false narrative of noncitizens voting in 2024 as “yet another misrepresentation and falsehood about the integrity of elections that appears intended to spread mistrust in our election systems.”

  115. says

    Let’s see just how wrong Trump’s predictions about Biden have been

    Donald Trump predicts that if President Joe Biden is reelected in 2024, the result will be a bloodbath, World War III, “and everything else”—presumably meaning the basic human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria.

    This all sounds pretty bad. Except, this isn’t the first time Trump made this kind of prediction. Rolling back the clock by four years, Trump really does seem to be looking through a glass darkly when it comes to the accuracy of his prognostications.

    Trump’s predictions sound very similar to what he predicted would happen if Biden were elected at all. Before the 2020 election, Trump predicted that electing Biden would leave the U.S. a hellscape in which the government and stock markets had collapsed, crime ran rampant, the Constitution was shredded, and what remained of the economy was sunk into a bleak depression.

    And he made one other prediction. One that, sadly, did not come true.

    One of Trump’s most repeated predictions was that if Biden were elected in 2020, the stock market would crash. Instead, the market is way up, repeatedly setting new records. As of Monday, the Dow Jones Average was up over 25% from the day Biden was sworn in. The S&P 500 hit a new record the day Biden was inaugurated and hasn’t stopped reaching new highs ever since. For Americans whose retirements depend on the contents of an IRA or 401K account, Biden’s term has meant a more secure future and more control over their careers.

    Trump predicted a “Biden depression” if he weren’t returned to the White House. Instead, Biden repeatedly delivered policies that allowed the U.S. to avoid a long-expected recession and maintain sustained growth even though economists had repeatedly predicted a downturn. While doing this, Biden also kept unemployment under 4% longer than any president has since the 1960s.

    And Biden did all of that despite Trump losing 2.9 million jobs and leaving office with unemployment at 6.3%.

    He also predicted that Biden would “destroy the suburbs,” but suburbs made a surprise comeback, increasing in both population and in home values after years of decline.

    And it wasn’t just the houses that made a big comeback. Demand for new retail space hit record highs under Biden as businesses came roaring back from the pandemic and existing businesses and startups feuded over space for expansion.

    Trump predicted that “no one would be safe” in a country overrun by crime and dominated by “mob rule” after Biden destroyed the police and confiscated guns. Biden ripping up the Second Amendment and snatching all of the guns was another common Trump forecast. It didn’t happen, but gun sales have declined three years in a row. Americans still buy far too many guns, but overall sales are down sharply from the peak years under Trump, maybe because violent crime is also way down after surging under Trump. Murders jumped 30% under Trump in 2019 and 2020, but they’ve plummeted under Biden. Whether Trump wants to believe it or not, crime is way down.

    In a confusing prediction, Trump said Biden would impose “Socialism Plus.” No one is quite sure what Trump meant by that, but it apparently included ripping down statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Jesus. But even if no one knew what Trump was talking about, it’s clear that what Biden delivered was an Infrastructure Act bringing 15 million jobs and the CHIPS Act, which is continuing to generate a flood of new factories and manufacturing jobs.

    Trump predicted that the U.S. would “collapse” because Biden wanted Americans to wear masks during the pandemic, but after over 1.1 million deaths, the evidence shows masks work. Higher death rates in red counties show that denying science is fatal. In terms of the future, these are both things the nation should remember as the threat of bird flu edges nearer.

    Finally, Trump predicted that if Biden won, he “might have to leave the country.” Sadly, that was no more accurate than his other predictions.

    Links embedded in text at the main link provide backup to claims made by the author, Mark Sumner.

  116. says

    ‘The rule of law has been broken’: Rachel Maddow on the GOP and democracy

    Rachel Maddow gave an expansive breakdown of Donald Trump, the MAGA movement, and the Republican Party’s attacks on U.S. laws and democracy during her Monday show. Beginning with Judge Juan Mercan’s warning that he would order jail time for Trump if he continued to violate the gag order.

    “Just a signal moment in American history today.” she said, “And it’s sort of clear to me on this day, at this moment, than it’s ever been in my lifetime, that the rule of law isn’t just a bumper sticker, right? It isn’t an abstract thing.”

    Maddow did an excellent job of nailing down the implications of this stress point in our history.

    She then spoke about Georgia Republicans’ relentless attack against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan’s newest garbage investigation into the Department of Justice and New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and Trump’s escalating attacks on federal prosecutor Jack Smith.

    “Terrorizing judges and juries and witnesses and prosecutors is something that breaks the rule of law,” she said. “If those people are intimidated and harassed and threatened, the rule of law has been broken.”

    Maddow illustrated how the MAGA-motivated environment has led to a barrage of prosecutions of Americans who have tried to terrorize and intimidate people who are trying to apply the law to Trump.

    “This stuff has consequences, and this stuff is consequences,” she said. [video at the link]

    Maddow expanded to the larger conservative movement’s undermining of our democracy, citing the RNC chief counsel’s resignation a few days ago, “reportedly because he was insufficiently enthusiastic about falsifying election results, about working to throw out real election results and get Trump into power despite them.”

    If someone is unwilling to accept U.S. elections as legitimate, the logic is clear: “What’s the other mechanism we’re going to use if it’s not real election results?” Maddow said.“Democracy is mortal. It can be killed … it goes away when there stops being an expectation that we are governed by democratic means, when there stops being an expectation that elections are how we decide who’s in power,” Maddow added.

    This isn’t hypothetical; it’s a fundamental position of the current GOP.

    “Once one of the two major governing parties no longer believes elections are binding, then in many important ways,” she said.“The democracy ship has sailed because they are no longer competing on democratic grounds.” [video at the link]

    Maddow goes on to address how the Republican Party has aligned itself with the anti-Democratic interests of countries like China and Russia, whose resources are being used as a part of a propaganda campaign against democracy.

    “Like the leaders of those authoritarian countries. The American MAGA right also wants Americans to believe that their democracy is degenerate,” she said.

    Finally, Maddow finished by talking about how, knowing this, we know what to expect if and (likely) when Donald Trump once again violates his gag order.

    “Because we are on the precipice of that happening, and all the freak out that’s going to attend it is something that we should expect,” she said. “We need to be ready. We are on the precipice of that next step in what has already been a very difficult time for us as a country.” [video at the link]

  117. says

    That’s not justice. The excerpts below are from a longer article published by The New Yorker and written by Pulitzer Prize winner Sarah Stillman.

    […] As a result of the crash, which all parties agreed was unintentional, two men stood accused of murdering his father and a friend who was cycling with him. One of those charged, twenty-five-year-old Sadik Baxter, had never laid eyes on the victims. At the moment of impact, he had been miles away, in handcuffs.

    When Donna heard the charges, she asked, How is this even possible? Ian had learned the answer in law school: a sweeping and uniquely American legal doctrine, often couched in terms of justice for victims’ families, called felony murder. To engage in certain unlawful activities, the theory goes, is to assume full responsibility if a death occurs—regardless of intent.

    […] The precipitating offenses in this case: Sadik Baxter had searched five cars for stray cash before surrendering when cops appeared, and O’Brian Oakley, his twenty-six-year-old friend, had fled the scene, lost control of his car in a police chase, and killed the bicyclists. The prosecution charged both men with two counts of felony murder in the first degree.

    […] Sadik learned of the accident shortly before he arrived at the sheriff’s office, where he confessed to stealing from five unlocked cars. Wearing a blue hospital gown, his voice thick from medications he’d been administered after his panic attack, he asked a detective what would happen next. He’d be charged with burglary, the detective replied. Three weeks later, Sadik received a written copy of his indictment at a Broward County jail.

    According to a grand jury, both he and O’Brian did “unlawfully and feloniously kill and murder” two people. The prosecution had decided not to pursue the death penalty, but the first-degree-murder charges were punishable by life in prison without parole. […]

    [In 1957] the U.K. abolished the doctrine, and other Commonwealth nations followed suit. The United States, meanwhile, went in the opposite direction.

    […] For prosecutors, the felony-murder rule offers an efficient path to conviction: winning a case is much easier if you don’t need to prove a person’s mens rea—“guilty mind”—or even, in some cases, to establish that the accused was at the scene of the crime.

    […] Ekow Yankah, a law professor at the University of Michigan, told me. “It is one of those quiet drivers of mass incarceration we never acknowledge.”

    In Wisconsin, where Black individuals account for less than seven per cent of the population, the data show that they make up seventy-six per cent of those incarcerated for felony murder. In St. Louis, every felony-murder conviction between 2010 and 2022—a total of forty-seven people, according to the State of Missouri—was of a Black person.

    […] Women were sometimes charged for driving getaway cars for abusive partners, or performing other tasks under duress; some of the women served longer jail terms than their partners who’d committed the killing. And, time and again, young people were prosecuted for what an acquaintance, to their shock, had decided to do.

    […] A Black person in Minnesota was five times more likely to be charged with felony murder than a white person, and a Native American person ten times more likely. Fully a third of those locked up for murder in the state were in for felony murder, and most of them had no prior conviction for “an offense against a person.”

    […] Minnesota legislators took their cues from California, where, after groundbreaking reforms, more than six hundred people have had their sentences reduced and, according to a study by California’s Office of the State Public Defender, taxpayers have saved as much as $1.2 billion in prison costs. Illinois and Colorado have also recently narrowed the use of the felony-murder doctrine, and a bill now pending in New York would permit the use of the felony-murder charge only if a defendant “directly caused the death recklessly” or served as “an accomplice . . . in the felony, and acted with the intent to cause death.”

    But, as some states pull back from the concept, others are expanding it. In Arkansas, legislators have considered a bill allowing district attorneys to charge women who obtain unauthorized abortions, and anyone who aids them, with felony murder. […] In the wake of Dobbs, other states have proposed legislation similar to the Arkansas bill. Some legislators are also pushing felony murder’s expansion into another fraught terrain: overdoses tied to the opioid epidemic.

    […] When I examined more than three dozen overdose-related felony-murder prosecutions, I didn’t find kingpins. What I found instead were defendants like Jacob Sayre, of Ozark, Missouri. Last December, when he was seventeen, he was charged with killing a sixteen-year-old girl, Victoria Jones, whom he’d met at church.

    […] Sadik Baxter’s case, she [Christine Monta, an appellate attorney at the MacArthur Justice Center] […] said, represented a chance to challenge the “triple injustice” that many people incarcerated in state prisons have experienced. First, prosecutors hit them with charges, like felony murder, that are disproportionate to their crimes. Second, because of mandatory sentences, defendants get “extreme, unconstitutional sentences.” And, third, because of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, they are hindered from bringing their claims to federal court. To prevail, they typically have to identify either a significant and indisputable factual error made by a state court or a preëxisting Supreme Court case that clearly backs up their argument. “Congress has erected this very, very difficult standard, but we really think he meets it,” Monta told me. As a number of Supreme Court precedents have established, she went on, “punishment should not be vastly disproportionate to your culpability, and everyone agrees that culpability for murder here is really, really strained.”

    […]after two years of closely reviewing cases, I can state with confidence that the doctrine is rarely levelled against people of influence. It is used instead to impose some of our society’s harshest punishments on low-income defendants, young people, and defendants of color.

    I was reminded of this imbalance when I tried to reach out to Bradley Kantor, who had called the police when Sadik stole the loose change and sunglasses from his car. Searching online, I learned that two years ago Kantor had been arrested in a federal raid. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit forty-two million dollars’ worth of health-care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced to a decade in prison, and the government seized his multimillion-dollar home, his two Winnebagos, and his thirty-seven-foot yacht. When I shared this news with Ian recently, we decided we were looking at a parable of American sentencing: Sadik Baxter stole a few dollars, a drum set, some used baseball equipment, and a pair of sunglasses and got life, while Bradley Kantor stole millions and got ten years. […]

  118. says

    For anyone who might ever become pregnant in Texas, the consequences of Republican governance could soon hit home in an extremely unpleasant way.

    A Texas court is poised to allow a man who impregnated his former girlfriend the right to compel her deposition to seek money damages from out-of-state abortion providers that helped terminate her pregnancy. If allowed to proceed, anyone who becomes pregnant in the state of Texas and takes steps to end that pregnancy—whether by using pills obtained through the mail, or by traveling out of state—could be effectively stalked and forced into court by their sexual partner to explain their actions. […]

    As reported last week by Caroline Kitchener for the Washington Post, “The decision to target an abortion that occurred outside of Texas represents a potential new strategy by antiabortion activists to achieve a goal many in the movement have been working toward since Roe v. Wade was overturned: stopping women from traveling out of state to end their pregnancies.” […]

    Link

  119. says

    New York Times:

    As Stormy Daniels was testifying about her defamation claim against Trump, the former president appeared for a while to be solidly asleep.

  120. says

    New York Times:

    Reversing one of her own decisions, the federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case granted his request on Monday to postpone the deadline for a crucial court filing in the criminal proceeding, increasing the chance that any trial would be pushed past the November election.

    Also from the New York Times:

    Over and over, Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, has treated seriously arguments that many, if not most, federal judges would have rejected out of hand. Often, her acceptance of Mr. Trump’s unorthodox claims have resulted in significant delays in bringing the charges in the classified documents case in front of a jury.

  121. says

    Miami Herald:

    Javier Ortiz, the Miami police captain whose long history of citizen complaints alleging beatings, false arrests and harassment made him notorious in the city he swore to protect and serve, has joined Ron DeSantis’ Florida State Guard. Ortiz, 44, joined the paramilitary organization in February, about a year after the Miami Police Department rescinded his firing on the condition that he give up his work-issued gun, work a nighttime desk job and commit to an early retirement.

  122. Reginald Selkirk says

    Boy Scouts of America changing name to more inclusive Scouting America after years of woes

    The Boy Scouts of America is changing its name for the first time in its 114-year history and will become Scouting America. It’s a significant shift as the organization emerges from bankruptcy following a flood of sexual abuse claims and seeks to focus on inclusion.

    The organization steeped in tradition has made seismic changes after decades of turmoil, from finally allowing gay youth to welcoming girls throughout its ranks. With an eye on increasing flagging membership numbers, the Irving, Texas-based organization announced the name change Tuesday at its annual meeting in Florida…

    “It sends this really strong message to everyone in America that they can come to this program, they can bring their authentic self, they can be who they are and they will be welcomed here,” Krone said.

    No mention of any change in their bigotry towards atheists, and the Scout Oath still contains a mention of God.

  123. birgerjohansson says

    Apple TV will provide an adaptation of the novel Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, about parallel universes/time lines.

  124. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @birgerjohansson #121:

    Sabine Hossenfelder dropped the ball on LGBTQ issues but is reliable when it comes to physics and other non-social sciences.

    Sabine also defended Autism Speaks last year. She referred to mainstreaming neurodiversity as an extremist social justice position.

    She quoted an article calling the neurodiversity disability movement ~unscientific, romanticizing, zealous, authoritarian, militant, bullying pursuit of rights.~ She quoted another article while acknowledging that its author is regarded as an active troll misrepresenting the movement & outright denying peoples’ autism. Sabine feigned ignorant surprise at just discovering the subject was ‘controversial’, in the video that she published anyway, to 1.2 million subscribers. It’s still up; no retraction.

    Ember Green – I Watched Sabine Hossenfelder’s Autism Video (2:06:13)
    * 0:00-30:00: Sabine’s video
    * 30:00-end: An anti-neurodiversity article that Sabine cited as a primary source

  125. StevoR says

    While the exact details might have been embellished for the sake of a good story, Professor Nunn thinks there’s a pretty obvious link between the evidence of a sunken island at Lark Shoal and the oral traditions of central Solomon Islands. “I think there is a tendency of Western science-trained observers to dismiss all of these things as kind of fantasy as myth or legend,” Professor Nunn said. “We’re almost certain that Teonimenu really did exist … Why would people in a western Pacific Island group invent a story about a sinking island unless it actually happened? “The tendency now — particularly over the last 10 years or so — is for scientists to take these kinds of stories far more seriously than they once did, as memories of catastrophic events that have become encoded in people’s oral traditions and world views.” So tales of disappearing islands might not be as far-fetched as previously thought, but how on earth does an island suddenly disappear?

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-08/the-long-lost-island-still-visible-from-space/103740538

  126. birgerjohansson says

    I watched Jimmy Kimmel.
    After DT was called von Schitzinpants some Trump supporters seem to have embraced it, wearing the slogan “real men wear diapers” wich is yet another really weird thing about the times we live in.

  127. KG says

    Lynna, OM@142,
    I’ve generally been impressed by Maddow, but in this “rule of law” video, she failed to comment at all on the police standing by while vigilantes attacked peaceful protesters at UCLA – as blatant a violation of the rule of law as Trump’s (in fact, the vigilantes appear to have been Trump supporters).

  128. Reginald Selkirk says

    Palantir’s CEO calls ‘woke’ a ‘central risk to Palantir, America and the world’

    Analytics platform biz Palantir saw its share price dip yesterday despite posting on-the-nose revenue growth of 21 percent year-over-year to reach $634 million in the first calendar quarter.

    The company — with its background in spy-tech — disappointed markets by nudging down growth expectations for the current year, while voluble CEO Alex Karp doubled-down on his pro-military, anti-woke agenda…

    “I think the central risk to Palantir, America and the world is a regressive way of thinking that is corrupting and corroding our institutions that calls itself progressive, but actually — and is called woke — but is actually a form of a thin pagan religion,” he said. ®

  129. StevoR says

    Not surprising but confirmed :

    The global average temperature for the last 12 months — May 2023 to April 2024 — has once again reached a new record, at 1.61 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average, according to data released by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.World air surface temperature anomaly. Monthly global temperature anomalies for 2024 are tracking above the previous year, which was the hottest on record so far.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-08/global-temperature-heat-streak-record-continues/103819432

  130. says

    Donald Trump’s radicalism on health care hasn’t been a major issue in the 2024 race. President Joe Biden’s campaign hopes to change that.

    President Joe Biden, his campaign team, and Democrats in general have spent months hammering Donald Trump on health care, and as NBC News reported, the party is making new efforts to push the issue into the 2024 election spotlight.

    President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign on Wednesday announced $14 million in new spending across battleground states while launching an ad hitting former President Donald Trump on health care. The spending includes seven figures that will target minority groups through TV, digital and radio ads this month, said the campaign, which is looking to capitalize on its early fundraising advantage over Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

    In the new spot, viewers are shown footage of the former president vowing to “terminate” the Affordable Care Act, ahead of footage of Biden telling an audience, “Health care should be a basic right. Folks, he’s coming for your health care, and we’re not going to let that happen.”[video at the link]

    […] Fortunately for Democrats, Trump has provided them with plenty of rhetorical ammunition.

    Trump not only talked about “terminating” the Affordable Care Act, he actually tried to eliminate the health care reform law, seemingly indifferent to the adverse effects it would have on tens of millions of American families.

    But after his 2020 defeat, Trump’s offensive against “Obamacare” didn’t exactly fade away. As recently as seven months ago, for example, the Republican whined that some GOP senators failed to help him “terminate” the ACA in 2017. “It was a low point for the Republican Party, but we should never give up!” Trump added.

    A month later, Trump posted a video to his social media platform vowing to “replace” the existing health care system, adding, “We would have had it terminated if were it not for John McCain and a couple of others, but that didn’t happen.”

    Trump kept the offensive going in the months that followed.

    […] Trump said recently that once he’s done tearing down the nation’s existing health care system, he’ll replace it with something he insists will be better, cheaper, and more effective.

    But for those keeping score, Trump has had nearly a decade to come up with such a plan, and so far, he’s failed spectacularly.

    […] Are families willing to vote for a presidential candidate who’s eager to tear down the nation’s health care system and replace it with an alternative he doesn’t want to talk about?

    If you’re concerned about your family’s health security, would you really want to take a dramatic risk based on the assurances of an accused felon who has a history of breaking promises?

  131. says

    Republican Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is leading a new push — to defund special counsel Jack Smith’s office. Roll Call reported on the Georgia Republican’s clash with House Speaker Mike Johnson, and what she wants in exchange for letting him keep the gavel.

    … Greene’s top priority, she said, was a promise to “defund” the office of special counsel John L. “Jack” Smith, who is pursuing the prosecution of former President Donald Trump on charges related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election and retaining classified documents.

    This dovetails with related legislation from Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida that would have the effect of stripping funding from the prosecutor’s office.

    Johnson, not surprisingly, hasn’t committed to defunding anything, though the Louisiana Republican appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference yesterday, dismissed the overwhelming evidence prosecutors have assembled against Trump, and insisted that Congress would “address” the former president’s prosecutions “in every possible” way. [video at the link: Johnson: "President Trump has done nothing wrong… it has to stop and you’re going to see the Congress address this in every possible way because we need accountability. All these cases need to be dropped because they are a threat to our entire system"]

    If this sounds at all familiar, it’s not your imagination. It was last summer when more than a few GOP lawmakers sounded quite serious about using “the power of the purse” to effectively shut down Trump’s federal prosecutions. It was a move that garnered predictable support from the former president himself.

    Now, evidently, the issue has made a comeback.

    […] So, how concerned should Smith and his team be? Will federal prosecutors and investigators soon be asked to work for free? By all appearances, the answers are “not very” and “probably not.”

    Simply as a matter of procedure, such a move would need to pass the Democratic-led Senate and be signed into law by President Joe Biden, and it’s probably safe to say that they’d have some concerns about defunding Smith’s office.

    What’s more, it’s an open question as to whether such a measure could even pass the House: The GOP’s majority is tiny, and some Republican incumbents from competitive districts would likely be reluctant to link arms with their radical colleagues on such a gambit, especially knowing it would be ignored in the Senate.

    But let’s not lose sight of the fact that for some Republicans, this is a serious idea worthy of their time and consideration. Confronted with compelling evidence of alleged felonies, these GOP members believe the proper response is to not only intervene in ongoing criminal cases, but also to use the levers of power to defund prosecutors.

    We continue to learn quite a bit about the contemporary Republican Party’s approach to the rule of law, and none of it’s good.

    Link

  132. says

    Indicted ”fake elector” and Arizona state Sen. Anthony Kern has been barred from using the Senate video studio at the state Capitol after he used the government facility to appear on Nazi apologist Stew Peters’ internet talk show.

    “The Senate president does not approve of how the senator chose to use legislative broadcast resources last week,” Kim Quintero, a spokesperson for Republican Senate President Warren Petersen, told 12News. Kern’s “privileges to use those resources for future interviews have been revoked,” she added.

    […] Talk show host Peters is a long-standing piece of shit who built his audience as a COVID denier. Recently, he’s shelved COVID conspiracies in favor of promoting Holocaust denial.

    In March, Peters used his show to praise Nazi book-burning as “justified,” describing the practice as “great” and “awesome.” He later argued that the “propaganda that surrounds” World War II made it impossible for him to judge whether or not Adolf Hitler was “evil,” but that in the case of book burnings, he thought the real question to ask is, “Wasn’t he a hero?”

    During Kern’s interview with Peters, the latter falsely claimed that the Drag Story Hour featured children (it did not) and called the drag king who read at the event a “mentally ill satanic pedophile,” according to the Arizona Mirror. Kern evidently forgot to push back on these false claims.

    So what did Kern have to say during the interview?

    “God is raising up Donald Trump and Anthony Kern and Stew Peters and people like us to shout,” he declared. […]

    Link

  133. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @KG #162:

    Robert F Kennedy Jr […] said a health problem he experienced in 2010 “was caused by a worm […] Kennedy declined to share his medical records.

    Guy who says weird untrue things said another weird thing. Hm.
    Much as I’d like to believe an honest worm confessing, it picked the wrong host.

  134. Reginald Selkirk says

    Indianapolis Star bars columnist Gregg Doyel from covering Caitlin Clark, Fever after inappropriate exchange

    The Indianapolis Star has barred sports columnist Gregg Doyel from covering Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever this summer following his exchange with the WNBA rookie in her introductory news conference…

    The ban and reported suspension stems from Doyel’s interaction with Clark during her April 17 news conference with the Fever after being selected first overall in the WNBA Draft. Doyel flashed a heart sign with his hands at Clark during an awkward interaction.

    “Hi, Caitlin, Gregg Doyel, Indy Star. Real quick, let me do this,” Doyel said to Clark before flashing a heart sign.

    “You like that?” Clark asked.

    “I like that you’re here. I like that you’re here,” Doyel replied.

    “I do that at my family after every game, so,” Clark said.

    “OK, well start doing that to me and we’ll get along just fine,” Doyel responded.

  135. Reginald Selkirk says

    Computer models show heat waves in north Pacific may be due to China reducing aerosols

    A team of oceanographers and planetary scientists at the Ocean University of China, working with a pair of colleagues from the U.S. and one in Germany, has found via computer modeling, that recent heat waves in the north Pacific may be due to a large reduction in aerosols emitted by factories in China.

    In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes how they used several climate models and various factors that allowed them to find patterns that might be linked to the reduction of aerosols emitted into the atmosphere by China…

  136. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tesla is under a federal wire fraud probe for misleading investors

    There’s more bad news for Tesla. On Monday, we learned that CEO Elon Musk is continuing to slash his way through the company payroll as Tesla went through a fourth round of layoffs in four weeks. Yesterday, we discovered exactly what questions the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants answered about the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot driver assist. And today, it emerged that the US Department of Justice is investigating whether or not Tesla committed securities or wire fraud by making misleading statements about Autopilot and its so-called “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) option.

    Reuters reported that three people familiar with the matter told it about the investigation. One of the sources also told Reuters that the Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating Tesla’s claims about its driver assists…

  137. Reginald Selkirk says

    No one has seen the data behind Tyson’s “climate friendly beef” claim


    In late 2022, Tyson—one of the country’s “big four” meat packers—applied to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), seeking a “climate friendly” label for its Brazen Beef brand. The production of Brazen Beef, the label claims, achieves a “10 percent greenhouse gas reduction.” Soon after, the USDA approved the label.

    Immediately, environmental groups questioned the claim and petitioned the agency to stop using it, citing livestock’s significant greenhouse gas emissions and the growing pile of research that documents them. These groups and journalism outlets, including Inside Climate News, have asked the agency for the data it used to support its rubber-stamping of Tyson’s label but have essentially gotten nowhere…

  138. Reginald Selkirk says

    Psychedelic Toad Venom Shows Promise for New Depression Treatment

    A potential depression treatment might someday come from trip-inducing toad venom. In a new study Wednesday, researchers appear to have deciphered the structural workings of a psychedelic compound derived from the Colorado River toad (Incilius alvarius). The team also tested a modified version of the compound in mice, finding it had antidepressant and antianxiety effects, and potentially without the psychedelic reactions that could complicate its safe use in humans…

  139. Reginald Selkirk says

    Future Swiss Army Knives Won’t Have Blades, Maker Victorinox Says


    But Victorinox, the company behind the famous gadget, is working on a Swiss Army Knife without the knife part.

    “We are in the early stages of developing pocket tools without blades,” a spokesperson for the company told CNN. Though it won’t be discontinuing its bladed version, the company has been trying to figure out how to serve customers in places — specifically England and some Asian countries — where knives aren’t as welcome a pocket sight than in other markets. The British government, for example, is considering new legislation on carrying blades in public…

  140. KG says

    Two fragments of UK political news:
    1) John Swinney, who recently took over (unopposed) as leader of the Scottish National Party, has appointed the repulsive reactionary Kate Forbesas his deputy, and put her in charge of economic policy. Swinney is usually considered a centre-leftish politician, so there must be some doubt whether this can last.
    2) A hard-right Tory MP, Natalie Elphicke, has defected to Labour. This has reportedly caused considerable dismay among Labour MPs, although so far none has had the courage and integrity to say accepting her into the parliamentary party is simply unacceptable. It’s the latest, and perhaps the most blatant, signal of Starmer’s contempt for anyone even within hailing distance of the left. I wonder if this will actually turn out to be a big political error.

  141. says

    The number of prominent Republicans backing Biden grows (slowly)

    When it comes to Republican politics, it’s tempting to divide the party into two camps: A giant contingent fighting with great enthusiasm to return Donald Trump to power, and a smaller faction of fierce opponents of the former president.

    But it’s not quite that simple.

    Some in the party — such as former Attorney General Bill Barr, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chris Sununu — have been sharply critical of Trump, but they’ve nevertheless endorsed his bid for a second term. Others in the party, such as former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, have said they’ll write in the name of a different Republican on their 2024 ballot.

    There are still plenty of other GOP partisans who’ve made clear that they don’t want Trump in power — former Rep. Liz Cheney, former Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Mitt Romney, former Vice President Mike Pence, et al. — but they haven’t yet announced what they intend to do in the fall.

    And then there’s the most interesting group of them all: Republicans who’ve taken the extra step of announcing their support for the Democratic incumbent. As my MSNBC colleague Ja’han Jones noted this week:

    Former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a frequent critic of Donald Trump’s lies about how election fraud cost him the 2020 election, endorsed President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. In an op-ed Monday in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Duncan’s remarks read like a clarion call, urging sane conservatives not to align themselves with a self-centered wannabe authoritarian.

    “Unlike Trump, I’ve belonged to the GOP my entire life. This November, I am voting for a decent person I disagree with on policy over a criminal defendant without a moral compass,” Duncan wrote.

    “[T]he GOP will never rebuild until we move on from the Trump era, leaving conservative (but not angry) Republicans like me no choice but to pull the lever for Biden,” the Georgian added. “The alternative is another term of Trump, a man who has disqualified himself through his conduct and his character.”

    Duncan’s name might sound familiar. He was, after all, recently considered as a top contender for the No Labels operation’s presidential nomination, before he withdrew from consideration and the third-party initiative collapsed. Duncan also made headlines in 2020 for fighting back against Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results, and a year later he publicly denounced his own party’s efforts to impose new voting restrictions on Georgia’s electorate.

    The larger question, however, is how much company Duncan will have in the GOP’s pro-Biden bloc.

    By any fair measure, it’s an exceedingly small group. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson has encouraged people to vote for Biden, and former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews, said she’s voting for Biden.

    At least for now, that’s more or less where the list ends.

    I kept a close eye on this dynamic four years ago, and found quite a few GOP partisans — former Republican National Committee chairs, former Republican cabinet secretaries, former Republican governors and former Republican members of Congress — who publicly expressed support for the Biden-led Democratic ticket.

    Will we see something comparable between now and Election Day 2024? Watch this space.

  142. says

    Trump is losing 20% of GOP votes to candidate who dropped out months ago

    The results on Indiana’s Republican primary on Tuesday evening showed Donald Trump winning with 78% of the vote and taking all of the state’s 58 delegates. That result may sound good, but Trump is running essentially unopposed. The last serious candidate other than Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, officially dropped out of the race over two months ago.

    Despite dropping out well before early voting in Indiana began, Haley still managed to collect over 21% of the vote. That’s not a testimony to the stubbornness of Haley fans, it’s a signal that there are a significant number of Republicans who won’t vote for Trump even when the only alternative is a candidate who is already gone.

    Despite recent national polls in which Trump appears to be performing well, results like those in Indiana this week indicate that there is a significant lack of support for Trump within the Republican Party. Though it’s easy and sometimes facile to make the comparison, if President Joe Biden was losing 20% of Democrats to a protest vote in state after state, it would be the leading story in the national news.

    Why isn’t the media asking about the anti-Trump protest vote?

    In the same primary, President Joe Biden took 100% of the Democratic vote. It’s easy to say that’s because Biden faced no competition, but neither did Trump.

    Results in Indiana are similar to results in other recent primaries. Only this time Trump can’t blame the issue on either early voters or mail-in ballots.

    He also can’t blame the results on the primary being in a liberal state. Indiana is also not Washington, D.C., where Haley notched a victory just two days before dropping out. This is a deep red state where Trump won by 16% in 2020.

    But the protest vote persists.

    National polls may look at a few hundred voters and run them through models in an effort to determine how that limited sample represents hundreds of millions of voters. But the state primaries are by far the largest polls being taken at the moment. About 590,000 Republicans voted in the primary on Tuesday, and 127,000 of them placed their vote for Not Donald Trump.

    […] That’s not a minor issue. That’s a huge cavity right in the middle of what should be Trump’s base. With numbers like that, Trump isn’t going to win swing states.

    He might not even win Indiana.

    Nice schadenfreude moment. Enjoy.

  143. says

    The NYT published this above the fold:

    Biden Puts Arms Shipment to Israel on Hold Amid Dispute Over Rafah Attack

    The United States withheld 3,500 bombs last week out of concern that they might be used in a major assault against the southern Gaza city, officials said. [article written by Peter Baker]

    President Biden paused an arms shipment to Israel last week to prevent the U.S.-made weapons from being used in a long-threatened assault on the city Rafah, administration officials said on Tuesday night, a sign of the growing rift between Washington and Jerusalem over the conduct of the war.

    The president withheld 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs that he feared could be dropped on Rafah, where more than one million Gazans have taken refuge, the officials said. The administration is reviewing whether to hold back future transfers, including guidance kits that convert so-called dumb bombs into precision-guided munitions.

    The decision to delay the delivery of the 3,500 bombs was the first time since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led terrorist attack that Mr. Biden has used his power to curtail arms as an instrument to influence Israel’s approach to the war that followed. A number of Mr. Biden’s Democratic allies in Congress have for weeks urged him to limit or halt arms shipments to Israel, something he had refused to do until now because of his strong support for the effort to destroy Hamas.

    Israeli officials disclosed the weapons pause to Axios earlier this week, but U.S. officials refused to confirm it either at briefings or privately until Tuesday night. The fact that they finally did so was a clear indication of how much frustration is growing among administration officials that their Israeli counterparts are not heeding U.S. warnings against a major operation in Rafah that could lead to extensive civilian casualties. Confirmation of the arms pause came just hours after Israel sent tanks into the city in southern Gaza….

    Commentary:

    Bernie Sanders and Chris Van Hollen in the Senate, and then thirty-seven Democrats in the House (including the Squad and also Nancy Pelosi) in a letter, urged President Biden to halt offensive weapons shipments to Israel unless Netanyahu reverses his murderous course.

    Starting to evict a million people into a famine during cease fire negotiations seems to be the last straw, at long last.

    The reason this move is a BFD goes far beyond preventing a bloodbath in Rafah right now. Netanyahu is highly unpopular in Israel, almost totally isolated in the world, and dependent on arms and economic assistance from the US. Biden has resisted using the full leverage this dependence gives him, due to his lifelong identification with Israel as a refuge from antisemitism and an island of democracy in a hostile, authoritarian sea.

    But Netanyahu has gotten away with so many provocations, from his flagrant support of settler brutality in the West Bank, to his open disrespect for Obama and for Biden himself, to his attempt to overturn the rule of law in Israel, to his coalition with the open racists and eliminationists Smotrich and Ben Gvir, to in Biden’s words “disproportionate and indiscriminate” (ie war crimes) overreaction to the monstrous Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, to the killing of some 200 aid workers and over 100 journalists in Gaza, to the famine that has begun, that Biden is finally starting to use the leverage he has.

    Both the far right coalition in Israel, and the reactionary fundamentalist Hamas regime in Gaza, need to be replaced ASAP. Both are publicly pledged to rule all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. About 7 million Israeli Jews and 7 million Palestinian Arabs live in that land — neither population would ever accept rule by the other, and the world would never accept ethnic cleansing of either. So the alternative to a just peace both peoples can live with is endless war, possibly engulfing the entire region.

    […] Biden can use the lever of withholding offensive weapons, deployed at scale, not only to impose a temporary ceasefire and prisoner exchange, but to humiliate and further isolate Netanyahu to the point at which his far right government falls. [Not sure that will cause the government to fall, but it is still a good amount of pressure on Netanyahu.]

    […] The Arab League and the EU, have all expressed support for a just peace that respects the right of both peoples to self-determination and a fair division of the territory. If there is too much distrust between the parties to make peace themselves, the Security Council preferably or else a coalition of the willing if necessary could impose a just, secure, and enduring peace, for both Israel and a free Palestine, side by side.

    Enough is enough.

    Link

  144. Reginald Selkirk says

    UK will expel Russian defence attache over ‘malign activity’

    Britain will expel Russia’s defence attache, remove diplomatic status from some properties and limit the length of Russian diplomatic visas in response to what interior minister James Cleverly called Moscow’s “malign activity”.

    Britain’s action was among several taken across Europe on Wednesday. Estonia summoned the head of the Russian embassy to protest the jamming of GPS signals and Poland said it had been targeted by a hacking attack from a Russia-linked group…

  145. KG says

    Oh ye non-existent gods! What has the British Labour Party come to? Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy sucking up to Trumpists – I doubt the man himself has any idea who Lammy is; and he wouldn’t care if he did. I understand the Labour leadership, expecting to be the government some time this year, must prepare as best they can for the possibility of a Trump victory or coup; but:-

    Asked about his own remarks in 2017 that Trump was a “racist Ku Klux Klan and Nazi sympathiser”, and that he vowed to “chain myself to the door of No 10” if the UK welcomed the US president on a state visit to the UK, Lammy said he had made those remarks as a backbencher.

    He added: “You are going to struggle to find any politician in the western world who has not had things to say about Donald Trump.”

    He actually admits he either made the original remarks because it looked good and didn’t really mean them, or he knows he’s trying to appease a monster. And he’s pretending it’s his 2017 remarks that are the object of criticism, not the glaring inconsistency in his behaviour.

    He also descends to lying about Mandela* in order to denigrate the student pro-Palestinian protests:

    Asked about the protests on campuses over the Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza, he said: “There is a difference between peaceful protest of the kind Mandela would have advocated, and violence and rioting.”

    Mandela was of course in full support of the armed struggle against apartheid in South Africa (and that struggle played a large role in apartheid’s eventual defeat). He also knew and acknowledged the important role of the global Anti-Apartheid Movement and of students within it, in supporting exiles, raising funds, pressing for sanctions, holding demonstrations and boycotts, and NVDA (Non-Violent Direct Action) such as disrupting sporting events involving South African teams.

    *This can’t be ignorance, can it? Surely not. But if it is, that’s almost as shameful.

  146. Reginald Selkirk says

    Michigan former clerk and attorney charged after alleged unauthorized access to 2020 voter data

    Michigan’s attorney general announced charges Wednesday against a former township clerk and a lawyer who had supported attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, alleging they accessed voting systems without authorization in a search of fraud.

    Former Adams Township Clerk Stephanie Scott and her attorney, Stefanie Lambert, were charged with multiple felonies, including unauthorized access to a computer and using a computer to commit a crime…

  147. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘I didn’t say it was valid’: Johnson County sheriff admits he didn’t have signed warrant

    Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden acknowledged on Monday that no judge signed off on seizing old ballots in his long-running elections investigation after he falsely said last month he had a “search warrant in hand.”

    The admission came after Hayden, a Republican in a competitive race for reelection, in April accused Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman and other officials of rushing to destroy old ballots from several past elections, suggesting they were attempting to eliminate evidence just as the sheriff was on the verge of obtaining a search warrant for them.

    In fact, Johnson County at Hayden’s request had previously held off on complying with a state law that mandates the regular destruction of old ballots. But with Hayden unable to obtain a court order to preserve the records, officials earlier this year moved forward…

  148. Reginald Selkirk says

    The ‘world’s largest’ vacuum to suck climate pollution out of the air just opened. Here’s how it works

    The “world’s largest” plant designed to suck planet-heating pollution out of the atmosphere like a giant vacuum began operating in Iceland on Wednesday.

    “Mammoth” is the second commercial direct air capture plant opened by Swiss company Climeworks in the country, and is 10 times bigger than its predecessor, Orca, which started running in 2021.

    Direct air capture, or DAC, is a technology designed to suck in air and strip out the carbon using chemicals. The carbon can then be injected deep beneath the ground, reused or transformed into solid products.

    Climeworks plans to transport the carbon underground where it will be naturally transformed into stone, locking up the carbon permanently. It is partnering with Icelandic company Carbfix for this so-called sequestration process…

  149. Reginald Selkirk says

    GOP lawmaker claims KKK is ‘the military wing of the Democratic Party’ in closed door meeting ahead of antisemitism hearing

    GOP Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said in a closed door briefing with lawmakers on Tuesday that the Ku Klux Klan is the “the military wing of the Democratic party” and that migrants coming to the US “have no interest in being Americans,” according to audio of Perry’s comments shared with CNN.

    Perry, a right-wing Republican who has repeated elements of the anti-immigrant and antisemitic replacement theory before, said this during the House Oversight Committee’s member briefing entitled “the Origins and Implications of Rising Antisemitism in Higher Education.” …

    “The KKK in modern times, a lot of young people think somehow it’s a right-wing organization when it is the military wing of the Democratic Party. Decidedly, unabashedly, racist and antisemitic,” Perry said according to the recording…

    I expect someone will turn up photos of Perry at a KKK meeting shortly.

  150. Reginald Selkirk says

    North Yorkshire Council to phase out apostrophe use on street signs

    A local authority has announced it will ban apostrophes on street signs to avoid problems with computer systems.

    North Yorkshire Council is to ditch the problematic punctuation point as it says it can affect geographical databases.

    The council said all new street signs would be produced without one, regardless of previous use.

    Residents spoken to by the BBC urged the authority to retain apostrophes or risk “everything going downhill”…

  151. StevoR says

    55 Cancris e specifically and an atmosphere of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-09/-thick-atmosphere-detected-around-planet/103824908

    To identify the makeup of its atmosphere, researchers studied Webb Space Telescope observations before and after the planet passed behind its star. They separated the light emitted from the planet versus its star and used the data to calculate the planet’s temperature. There’s evidence the planet’s heat was being distributed more evenly across its surface — a party trick atmospheres are known for.

    Gases from its magma oceans may play a key role in holding its atmosphere steady. Exploring this super-Earth may also yield clues to how Earth and Mars might have evolved first with magma oceans that have since cooled, scientists say. “It’s a rare window,” said Renyu Hu, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was part of the research. “We can look into this early phase of planet evolution.”

  152. Reginald Selkirk says

    Unscientific American

    James B. Meigs
    Michael Shermer got his first clue that things were changing at Scientific American in late 2018. The author had been writing his “Skeptic” column for the magazine since 2001. His monthly essays, aimed at an audience of both scientists and laymen, championed the scientific method, defended the need for evidence-based debate, and explored how cognitive and ideological biases can derail the search for truth…

    In the twenty-first century, however, American scientific media, including Scientific American, began to slip into lockstep with progressive beliefs. Suddenly, certain orthodoxies—especially concerning race, gender, or climate—couldn’t be questioned.

    “I started to see the writing on the wall toward the end of my run there,” Shermer told me. “I saw I was being slowly nudged away from certain topics.” …

    James B. Meigs is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.

    City Journal? Manhattan Institute? I have not heard a lot about these before.
    Fact Sheet: Manhattan Institute

    The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is an extremely conservative, corporate-funded, New York-based policy group.

    The Manhattan Institute was founded by former CIA director William J. Casey in 1978. It was originally called the International Center for Economic Policy Studies, renamed the Manhattan Institute in 1980.

    The Manhattan Institute is funded largely by major corporations and conservative foundations…

    Some Manhattan Institute research on the civil justice system has been heavily criticized in law journals…

  153. Reginald Selkirk says

    Barron Trump, 18, to make political debut as Florida delegate to the Republican convention

    Former President Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron Trump, has been chosen to serve as a Florida delegate to the Republican National Convention, the state party chairman said Wednesday.

    Republican Party of Florida chairman Evan Power said the 18-year-old high school senior will serve as one of 41 at-large delegates from Florida to the national gathering, where the GOP is set to officially nominate his father as its presidential candidate for the November general election. NBC News first reported the choice of Barron Trump as a delegate…

    So far I have advocated a hands-off approach to Barron since he hadn’t publicly supported his father. This seems likely to change. I wonder if he will be as stupid as his half-brothers.

  154. says

    Remember a couple of years ago, when Republicans falsely claimed the Inflation Reduction Act “cut” Medicare? The GOP lie has apparently made a comeback.

    […] ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans ran into a little trouble when some of their Senate ads were so brazenly deceptive, they had to be pulled from the airwaves.

    This recent history came to mind reading this report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

    An ad declaring that Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin voted to “cut Medicare funding and use that money to subsidize electric vehicles” was pulled and replaced with a similar spot last week, according to emails shared with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

    At issue is a super PAC called Restoration PAC, which is largely funded by Republican megadonor Richard Uihlein, and which has already invested millions of dollars in the hopes of bringing down Baldwin in the fall.

    It was against this backdrop that the outfit launched an attack ad accusing the incumbent senator of having voted to “cut Medicare funding.” As the Journal Sentinel’s report explained, attorneys with Elias Law Group, on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, contacted OnMedia TV Ad Sales last week, pointing to the commercial’s “blatant lies,” and asking that the ad be removed from the air.

    The spot was, in fact, taken down, and in its replacement, the “cut Medicare” phrasing was edited, though Restoration PAC claims the changes predated the Democratic complaint.

    A Daily Kos report added, “Restoration PAC was vulnerable to Democrats’ takedown demand because television stations can be held liable for publishing defamatory statements by third-party groups — one of the few ways in which there can be accountability for lying in the political arena.”

    As for the underlying claim, it was nearly two years ago when Sen. Rick Scott first started telling Americans that Democrats had cut Medicare through the Inflation Reduction Act. By any sensible measure, the Florida Republican was brazenly lying: As regular readers know, the Democrats’ law empowered Medicare to negotiate lower prices for consumers on prescription medications, generating dramatic savings.

    In the English language, there is no credible definition of “cut” under which this falls.

    And yet, the GOP senator kept repeating the lie, even as journalists kept reminding him of reality.

    We’re just now starting to see initial hints that Republicans intend to embrace the same nonsensical claim in the 2024 election cycle, cynically hoping that voters will believe that Democrats don’t quite love Medicare enough, reality notwithstanding. Coming soon to an attack ad near you.

  155. says

    The more Trump chooses not to bother with campaign events on his trial’s off-days, the easier it is to dismiss his “I’d like to be campaigning” complaints.

    On Tuesday, following dramatic testimony from Stormy Daniels in his criminal trial, Donald Trump told reporters, “I’d like to be campaigning.” With this in mind, it was tempting to assume that, a day later, the former president would on the campaign trail since it would be a day off from the legal proceedings.

    That’s not, however, how the Republican spent his Wednesday. NBC News reported:

    Former President Donald Trump will spend his day off from court hosting a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago residence for buyers of his NFT trading cards, according to a source familiar with the planning. … The source familiar with the planning shared that Trump’s day off from court will also include private political meetings.

    It would be an exaggeration to say that the presumptive GOP nominee has entirely avoided the campaign trial. He did, after all, headline some events in Wisconsin and Michigan last week.

    But it’s hard not to notice that Trump could be taking full advantage of his trial’s off-days — and at least so far, that’s not happening.

    What makes his schedule especially odd is the frequency with which the former president complains about not being on the campaign trail. Indeed, he’s routinely referenced this point to reinforce his nonsensical claims about the criminal case constituting “election interference.”

    Trump complained to reporters last week, for example, that he’d be campaigning in Ohio were it not for his trial. A few days earlier, he said, “I’m supposed to be in Georgia, I’m supposed to be in New Hampshire, I’m supposed to be in Ohio and lots of other places, and they have me sitting here.”

    Just one day earlier, Trump had the day off from his trial. He spent it at Mar-a-Lago.

    […] A Washington Post analysis added yesterday:

    The impression one would get, then, is that Trump — sidelined by having to be in Manhattan four days a week — would be cramming as many campaign events into the other three days as possible. After all, he’s running a campaign and has campaign things to do, but not much time in which to do them! But the reality is different: On his days off, he generally hasn’t been on the campaign trail at all.

    The Post’s analysis added, “He has spent as many Wednesdays playing golf since the trial began as he has holding rallies.”

    All of this, of course, leads to a question for which there is no obvious answer: Why isn’t Trump campaigning more?

    I won’t pretend to be able to read Trump’s mind. Maybe the trial is exhausting him, physically and/or emotionally. Maybe Trump is so confident that he’s going to win in November that he doesn’t see the point in holding more rallies. Maybe he’s just getting lazier. […]

    Maybe he does not intend to win, maybe he knows he will lose, and maybe he is doing just enough to keep donations rolling in.

  156. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 186
    Homeless?
    Japan has no good social.service network. The relatives are supposed to look after the elderly or infirm.
    As a result a lot of old people commit crimes during winter so they will be in prison, under a roof.
    Japan has a lot of vacant homes but -like a villain i a Charles Dickens story- they will not open them for homeless. Because the authorities will not give away anything for free.

  157. says

    Josh Marshall:

    “If any Jewish person voted for Joe Biden, they should be ashamed of themselves.” That’s ex-President Trump this morning as he headed into the courtroom in New York City. This is worth everyone taking a close look at. When Trump feels cornered and scared one of his go-tos is to lash out at American Jews. […] While the precise percentage of American Jews voting for each party can shift a bit cycle to cycle, Jews are, along with African-Americans, the most consistent Democratic voting block in the country and have been so for the last century. And for this they should be ashamed of themselves, according to the Republican nominee.

    I’m not even sure we should see this as generic anti-Semitism on Trump’s part. Trump is prejudiced against just about everyone. He’s rife with quotes about how he didn’t want black accountants. He wanted accountants with kippahs. So Jews, because the Jews were good with money. Like I said, every group a caricature. But as it always is with Trump, you’re either useful or you’re not. […].

    […] I’ve picked up some indications that there might be significant opposition to an assault on Rafah from within the Israeli national security echelon. Unless you are extremely wired in, which I’m not, it’s almost impossible to tell how “real” these things are, who thinks what, who’s saying what. But hold open that possibility, that there are more moving pieces to this than we’re seeing at the surface. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if there were voices who saw the emerging de facto alliance with other Arab states as worth much more than whatever would be accomplished in Rafah. The bigger issue […] That is the lack of a real strategy, the lack of a clear set of plausible goals for the whole operation.

    […] Let’s also be clear that the U.S. government has made it crystal clear that for Iron Dome, for the other missile defense systems, for anything happening to the north, for anything with Iran, the U.S. is there to supply all the weaponry Israel needs. This isn’t a cut off of arms for Israel. It’s tied specifically to this operation.

    […] does this [US not supplying all weapons Israel requests] weaken Israel’s hand in the negotiation over the hostages? Maybe. But that’s in large measure because the Israeli government has failed to address these issues until now.

    Link

  158. says

    Excerpts from Trump’s trial in New York:

    After one day of testimony that was by turns seamy and grim, Stormy Daniels returned to the stand Thursday to be cross-examined by Trump’s lawyers.

    Susan Necheles, the former attorney for Genovese crime family underboss Venaro “Benny Eggs” Mangano, is handling cross.

    It’s off to a shaky start. She asks about an interview in which Daniels described the sex claim as “bullshit,” leading to a sustained objection. After a few more sustained objections, Merchan calls a short bench conference.

    Necheles asks: “That’s what you were asking for in 2016 — for money, right?

    Daniels: “I was asking to sell my story to a publication to get the truth out.”

    Necheles: “But you entered into a negotiation over a non-disclosure agreement?”

    Daniels: “My attorneys did, yes.”

    Necheles: “That was your choice, right?”

    Daniels: “I accepted an offer.”

    At one point, Daniels suggested that giving the story to Slate was a backup plan in case the deal with Michael Cohen and Trump didn’t work out. Almost like an insurance policy.

    We’re now looking at an advertisement for a strip club tour that Daniels did after publishing her tell-all memoir about her life and her encounter with Trump. It’s called the Make America Horny Again tour.

    Daniels says that she “hated” the tagline and that she had “no control over how a club advertises.” But the whole thing — including the fact that a publisher bought the book rights to Daniels’ story for $800,000 — is catnip for Necheles, who continues to seek to portray Daniels as a craven opportunist with no regard for the truth.

    For her part, Daniels is becoming increasingly offended at some of Necheles’ language. At one point, Necheles asked if Daniels was “selling herself” to patrons at the strip clubs, which clearly bothered Daniels. She brought it up in several answers after.

    We just spent way too much time on a round of questioning over a tweet Daniels posted in which she described herself as the “best person to flush the orange turd down.”

    She was referring to Trump, and responding to someone who had called her a “human toilet.”

    If you can imagine it, the context in which this came up at trial was even stranger. Necheles had been accusing Daniels of wanting to be “instrumental” in sending Trump to “jail.”

    “Show me where I said I would be instrumental in putting President Trump in jail,” Daniels asked.

    Necheles then had the orange turd tweet entered into evidence, and showed it to the court as an exhibit.

    “I don’t see the word ‘instrumental’ or ‘jail,’” Daniels shot back.

    This led to an extended argument between the two over what metaphor Daniels may have intended through the use of “flush” and “orange turd.” Daniels eventually made the very Trumpian remark that if she is being attacked, then she has the right to hit back.

    To me, it goes to a broader point: it is futile to guess how the jurors may be reacting to this.

    We’re at the “you claimed to have lived in a haunted house in New Orleans” stage of cross-examination.

    Necheles asks to strike a portion of this questioning after she grilled Daniels over her claims that the New Orleans house featured the paranormal, including a spirit who attacked her boyfriend.

    Daniels says that she invited experts to analyze the residence, but “a lot of it was debunked as a giant possum that lived under the house.”

    Merchan did not strike the testimony. Necheles tried to save it, but to no avail.

    Necheles: You claimed that spirits attacked your boyfriend?

    Daniels: Yes

    Necheles: Isn’t it a fact that you’re the one who attacked your boyfriend?

    The prosecutor objects, and Merchan sustains it.

    My sense is that this sequencing was intentional. People were laughing during the “orange turd” tweet discussion, during the haunted New Orleans house back-and-forth, during the questions over whether porn is real. The effect is to make the switch to the darker and far less sympathetic line of questioning less notable and to, more subtly, cast Daniels as a kook before questioning her account of a sexual encounter that she had suggested was at least somewhat coerced.

    even if Necheles destroys Daniels’ credibility, she cannot testify to the business records falsification charge. What she can testify to is the notion that her story had the potential to damage Trump in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.

    Necheles asked Daniels how many porn films she appeared in and, then, why she would shrink at a naked Trump after having sex with so many nude men on camera.

    Daniels replied that she sees her husband naked every day, and that if she exited a bathroom today, and found Mr. Trump naked outside, she would still be shocked.

    “If I saw an older man in underwear that I wasn’t expecting to see there, then yeah.”

    Throughout this trial, Trump’s attorneys will occasionally say or do things that seem aimed at indulging their client. Blanche, memorably, took time during opening arguments to say that “we call” Trump “President Trump” as a “sign of respect.”

    Necheles, in a similar vein, just asked Daniels whether Trump was “probably the biggest celebrity” at the Lake Tahoe golf tournament where the two met.

    “Depends on who you’re a fan of,” Daniels replied.

    Necheles did not stop there. “He did very well on that golf tournament, right?”

    Daniels said she did not know, but Necheles stayed on it. “He was playing golf himself, right?”

    “You saw that wherever he went, people were recognizing who he was?”

    That was a relatively brief redirect.

    Hoffinger closed with a few points: had Daniels been telling the truth about Mr. Trump?

    Yes, she replied.

    She closed with a question that went to Trump’s extortion argument: “On balance, has your publicly telling the truth about your experience with Mr. Trump been a net positive or a net negative in your life?”

    Negative, Daniels replied.

    A resourceful editor at TPM points out: Trump performed very poorly at the Lake Tahoe golf tournament. He placed 62 out of 80, per this tally.

    The next witness is a bookkeeper for the Trump Organization.

    Manochio has worked for the Trump Org for 12 years, she says. She worked for Alan Weisselberg, the company’s former CFO, and Jeff McConney, the former controller who testified on Monday.

    Prosecutor Rebecca Mangold is leading questioning.

    Manochio is the third Trump Org witness to cover the false business records directly. The first was McConney and the second was Deborah Tarasoff.

    Each has testified to an element of how the false business records scheme worked. McConney identified each invoice, Tarasoff identified each check.

    Now, Manochio is identifying the FedEx shipping label for each check. It all helps to show for the jury that prosecutors have left nothing unanswered in proving the core mechanics of the scheme.

    Link

  159. says

    Vermont poised to become first US state to charge big oil for climate damage

    Vermont is poised to pass a groundbreaking measure forcing major polluting companies to help pay for damages caused by the climate crisis, in a move being closely watched by other states including New York and California.

    Modeled after the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, which forces companies to pay for toxic waste cleanup, the climate superfund bill would charge major fossil fuel companies doing business within the state billions of dollars for their past emissions.

    The measure would make Vermont the first US state to hold fossil fuel companies liable for their planet-heating pollution.

    “If you contributed to a mess, you should play a role in cleaning it up,” Elena Mihaly, vice-president of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Vermont chapter, which is campaigning for the bill, said in an interview.

    If passed, the bill will face a steep uphill battle in the courts. But supporters say the first-of-its-kind legislation could be a model for the rest of the country.

    Four other states are weighing similar initiatives. Senators Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland also attempted to include a federal version in the infrastructure bill passed in 2022, though it was omitted from the final draft. (The measure would have raised $500bn.)

    Advocates for the Vermont bill notched a major win on Friday when the state’s house of representatives advanced the measure with a preliminary vote of 100-33 – enough support to overcome a potential veto by the state’s Republican governor, Phil Scott. On Monday, the bill passed the House in a 94-38 vote.

    Within the next week, it will receive a final vote in the senate, where it received preliminary approval on a 26-3 vote last month. It will then head to Governor Scott’s desk for final approval; if he shoots it down, supporters are confident that they have the votes to override a veto.

    “Climate impacts are mounting everywhere and they’re coming with a price tag” said Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media, which is campaigning in support of climate superfund legislation across the US. “Of course we’re going to see efforts to force the companies responsible for disasters to pick up the bill.” […]

  160. Reginald Selkirk says

    Neuralink Says Its First Brain Implant in a Human Encountered a Data Loss Problem

    Elon Musk’s neuroscience startup Neuralink has had a string of successes with its first human test subject who had a chip installed in his brain. However, it hasn’t been flawless. On Wednesday, the company described an issue with the implant that it claims has since been solved.

    The problem stemmed from the threads of the implant, the company said in a new blog post. Following a successful demo of the system in a volunteer patient, these threads somehow retracted from the brain and caused some data loss. The company says it modified the recording algorithm to be more sensitive and made some other tweaks in order to increase the flow of data…

  161. says

    The real cost of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for the rich? Double the estimate

    There is really only one signature legislative “achievement” from Donald Trump’s time in the White House: The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. He did other things while in office—bungling the pandemic, wrecking relationships with allies, insulting veterans—but when it comes to bills pushed through Congress and collecting Trump’s signature, there’s only one thing that stands out. A tax bill that emptied the nation’s coffers to pay off billionaires and corporate bosses.

    Even at the time, it was clear that the bill would be extremely costly. Republican leaders claimed that the tax bill would generate growth and lead to “$1 trillion in additional revenue.” But the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would actually cost the government $1.9 trillion before its cuts expired in 2025.

    Now the CBO is back with a new estimate of what it would cost to keep Trump’s tax cut in place over the next decade, and that estimate is more than double the original cost. Keeping Trump’s tax cuts would cost a whopping $4.6 trillion and send the nation on a path to a level of deficit only seen during the Great Depression, World War II, and … Trump’s bungling of the pandemic.

    Trump’s tax cuts are slated to expire in 2025, meaning that the winner of this election is going to determine whether the nation puts an end to this gravy train for billionaires, or extends it at a crushing cost to the average American. At his fundraiser that supposedly made $50 million in April, Trump told wealthy donors exactly what they wanted to hear: He plans to extend the tax cuts.

    Not only has Trump’s plan generated a crushing deficit that only gets much worse over time, but it has also failed to stimulate economic growth as Trump and Republicans promised. A National Bureau of Economic Research study shows that the bill produced only a small fraction of the promised benefits. Far from generating revenue, as Republicans promised, corporate tax revenue dropped by $100 to $150 billion per year.

    These effects are similar to what a Brookings analysis predicted in 2018: a small, short-term stimulus effect followed by negligible long-term benefits and a significant reduction in federal revenues.

    […] President Joe Biden has already made it clear that he would not extend Trump’s plan and its crushing deficit. Instead, he has proposed a package that would see increases for those making over $400,000 a year, while cutting taxes for lower income Americans. Biden’s plan includes:
    – Requiring billionaires to pay at least 25% of income in taxes.
    – A corporate minimum tax of 21% that would end corporations paying nothing.
    – Denying corporate tax breaks for multi-million-dollar executive compensation.
    – Quadrupling the tax that corporations pay when they buy back their own stock.

    The conservative American Enterprise Institute prepared an analysis of Biden’s plan in advance of the 2020 election and found that, rather than costing another $4.6 trillion, as Trump’s plan would, Biden’s changes would result in $3.8 trillion in revenue increases. It would also make the tax system more fair and progressive. […]

  162. Reginald Selkirk says

    @198: For her part, Daniels is becoming increasingly offended at some of Necheles’ language. At one point, Necheles asked if Daniels was “selling herself” to patrons at the strip clubs, which clearly bothered Daniels.

    The answer she should have given: “I was doing work for pay, the same as you’re doing right now.”

  163. Reginald Selkirk says

    Amazon Pumps Brakes on Reviews of Gov. Kristi Noem’s Dog-Killing Memoir

    South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has a new book out that has gotten her some extra attention due to her claim of meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, writing about shooting her own dog, and also seemingly threatening President Joe Biden’s dog, Commander. Luckily for her, Amazon is making sure that if anyone wants to leave a negative review about this memoir of hers, they’ll have to buy the book first.

    The Amazon page for Noem’s book, No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward, has a message for anyone wanting to leave a review of the book who has yet to buy it. It reads, “Amazon has noticed unusual reviewing activity on this product. Due to this activity, we have limited this product to verified purchase reviews.” …

    That counts me out.

  164. Reginald Selkirk says

    Engineers Plan To Blow Up The Baltimore Bridge To Free Stuck Cargo Ship

    The enormous Dali container ship has been stuck in Baltimore since it hit and destroyed the Francis Scott Key bridge way back in March. The ship lost power and careered into one of the supports for the bridge, bringing it crashing down and killing six workers on the bridge. Now, engineers are planning to blow up the remnants of the bridge so they can finally re-float the ship and return it to port.

    Salvage workers at the site of the collapsed bridge are planning to carry out a controlled explosion of sections of the bridge, reports CBS News. If they successfully destroy the section of the bridge that is resting on the bow of the ship, they will be able to refloat the vessel and return it to port. As the site explains: …

  165. says

    Followup to comment 198.

    Some excerpts from coverage by Mark Sumner:

    Overall, Necheles’ questioning today really did seem to be little more than three hours of slut shaming Daniels to make it seem like she shouldn’t be shocked by an old man greeting her in his underwear. How it went over with the jury, I don’t know. For those watching at a distance, it’s hard to see it as anything but crude and demeaning.

    If the judge and jury were at all upset with the prosecution for inviting Daniels to tell her story on Tuesday, the Thursday cross-examination was much worse when it came to digging into petty details and going down sideroads that seemed purely vindictive.

    And if there was anything that underscored how Necheles was playing for an audience of one, it was when she actually spent time in these proceedings to ask Daniels to confirm that Trump was a good golfer. Daniels didn’t know and didn’t care, but there was certainly someone sitting in the courtroom who had been waiting for that question all day.

    In the homestretch, Necheles’ questions devolved into little more than repeated attempts to get Daniels to say she was lying. […] it sure looked desperate and spiteful from the bleacher seats.

    What a way for Necheles to end this thing. Almost as if she couldn’t resist the impulse to just repeat an insult.

    On one final round of redirect, Hoffinger asks Daniels to confirm the date of Trump’s Truth Social post calling her “Horse Face.”

    She does.

    Stormy Daniels’ testimony concludes, and the witness exits the courtroom.

    Necheles asked about Daniels’ snarky replies, but never pointed out the dark, threatening tweets that she was responding to. In her earlier testimony, Daniels said she had received “hundreds” of threatening messages, which is surely an understatement.

    Hoffinger points out that the InTouch article was edited after Daniels wrote it, removing details that the magazine felt they couldn’t check.

    Most of Hoffinger’s questioning so far seems to be designed to show how Necheles was also giving a highly edited view of Daniels past responses, stopping just short of things that would hurt Trump.

    Lisa Rubin suggests that the effort from Trump attorney Susan Necheles has been designed to confuse the idea of an adult film actor with a sex worker who has “constantly” given consent to sex.

    [Lisa Rubin] The defense’s attempts to color Stormy as nutty and slutty are constant. For example, Necheles repeatedly referred to Stormy’s appearances at clubs as “selling herself,” with which she vehemently disagreed, noting, “I was not selling myself to anyone.” They also questioned her interests in the paranormal and her claims to communicate with the dead.

    Right before the break, Necheles asked a question about a second meeting with Trump in a hotel lobby involving Trump’s claims that he could get Daniels onto “The Apprentice.”

    It’s worth noting that, once again, Necheles is asking for details about an event that Trump claimed never happened at all.

    But hopefully, this means we are done with that hotel bedroom.

    As Necheles attacks Daniels motivations for meeting Trump at his hotel room, it’s worth remembering that Trump says this didn’t happen. Not just the sex, but the invite, the dinner, all of it. Trump has always maintained that he didn’t know Daniels at all and that she was just someone who asked him for a photo on the golf course.

    Necheles’ line of questioning seems completely at odds with that position.

    Necheles insists that Daniels wanted to tell everyone publically that she had sex with Trump.

    Daniels: “No. Nobody would ever want to publicly say that.”

  166. says

    […] Instead of acting like nothing she said mattered to the case Trump’s attorneys treated her as if this were a rape case and the central question was whether they had sex. Instead of minimizing that question, they amplified it to super-nova proportions. They actually kept her on the stand for cross examination longer than the prosecution did for direct, which was just stupid.

    In attempting to nitpick at supposed inconsistencies (of which they did not really find any) in the sordid details of her story they invited her to go over those sordid details. The defense came across as clumsy, blunt and bullying in trying to get her to directly admit she lied. Daniels came across as honest and clever in her responses that insisted she was the honest one and Trump the liar. Then the defense left out details supporting Daniels’ testimony that the prosecution exposed on redirect.

    The entire defense strategy was grossly misplaced, and clearly directed by Trump. He wanted them to attack her as a blackmailing extortionist liar, so they did. In this Trump’s counsel followed their client’s wishes rather than sound trial practice. […]

    Link

  167. says

    Report: Trump Promised to Scrap Climate Laws if US Oil Bosses Donated $1 Billion

    It “certainly looks a lot like quid pro quo.”

    This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

    Donald Trump dangled a brazen “deal” in front of some of the top US oil bosses last month, proposing that they give him $1 billion for his White House re-election campaign and vowing that once back in office he would instantly tear up Joe Biden’s environmental regulations and prevent any new ones, according to a bombshell new report.

    According to the Washington Post, the former US president made his jaw-dropping pitch, which the paper described as “remarkably blunt and transactional,” at a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago home and club.

    In front of more than 20 executives, including from Chevron, Exxon, and Occidental Petroleum, he promised to increase oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, remove hurdles to drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, and reverse new rules designed to cut car pollution. He would also overturn the Biden administration’s decision in January to pause new natural gas export permits which have been denounced as “climate bombs.”

    “You’ll get it on the first day,” Trump said, according to the Post, citing an unnamed dinner attendee.

    Trump’s exhortation to the oil executives that they were wealthy enough to pour $1 billion into his campaign war-chest, at the same time pledging a U-turn on Biden’s efforts to combat the climate crisis, was immediately denounced on Wednesday by environmental groups. “One billion dollars for Trump, a devastating climate future for the rest of us,” said Pete Maysmith of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV).

    Christina Polizzi of Climate Power told the Guardian that Trump was “putting the future of the planet up for sale.”

    “He is in the pocket of big oil—he gave them $25 billion in tax breaks in his first term—and now it’s clear he is willing to do whatever big oil wants in a potential second term,” she said.

    […] Crew’s legal team were looking into whether this rises to the high legal standard of bribery.

    […] For their part, executives in big oil companies have been preparing for a possible Trump second term by drafting executive orders designed to be ready to sign as soon as he returns to office. Politico reported this week that the executives have clubbed together to produce off-the-shelf policies on increasing natural gas exports, supercharging drilling and extending offshore oil leases.

    The interplay between Trump and the oil giants as the election approaches underlines the vast gulf between the former president and the current occupant of the White House. According to an analysis by a group of environmental groups including the Sierra Club and LCV, the Biden administration has taken more than 300 actions towards greater public health and clean energy, more than any other administration in US history.

    Those measures included the first major climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which has propelled record investment in clean energy including solar and wind and increased sales of electric vehicles. US energy emissions are slowly declining, by some 3 percent this year.

    Even so, the US is extracting more oil and gas than ever, reaching almost 13 million barrels of crude oil a day—more than double the production levels a decade ago.

  168. Reginald Selkirk says

    GOP senators amused as Ted Cruz seeks to move bill

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has become the subject of much bemusement among his Senate GOP colleagues as he has taken a detour from his role as a conservative rabble-rouser to playing the lead on reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    The Texas senator, long known for stirring up trouble for leadership, has suddenly gone in the reverse as he has prodded Republicans against gumming up the works for the last must-pass bill in Congress for months.

    But the irony is not lost on lawmakers who have watched Cruz’s mischief up close and personal, especially on government spending battles throughout the years.

    “It’s been entertaining to be able to watch,” one Senate Republican told The Hill before quoting the movie “Airplane!” “What’s the old Hollywood joke? ‘The foot’s on the other hand.’” …

  169. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Tuesday, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche got all hot and MISTRIAL MISTRIAL because Judge Juan Merchan let in TMI, like the no-condom thing, and Stormy pointing out the power dynamic between a billionaire sexagenarian grandpa and a 27-year-old woman cornered in his penthouse (a detail which Team Trump did not object to at the time). Merchan agreed then to consider a “limiting instruction” on dirty deets this morning, but guess what? Trump lawyer Susan Necheles decided she actually didn’t care so much any more.

    COURT: Where do you stand on a limiting instruction?

    NECHELES: Can we wait to the end of testimony?

    Yet she didn’t bring it up then, either. Some People Are Even Saying that the Trump defense hopes Stormy will accuse him of even worse behavior, like rape, so when they appeal they can be all JUDGE’S FAULT, THAT WAS SO PREJUDICIAL! If so, weird position to be in, hoping to hear worse about your client. Also, more details is fodder for more “gotcha.” Or, maybe they are just not great at lawyering. […]

    DANIELS: It doesn’t say Trump, just ‘orange turd.’ If you want to interpret it that way …

    NECHELES: What did you mean by ‘orange turd’?

    DANIELS: Oh, I absolutely meant Mr. Trump.

    NECHELES: On Twitter you celebrated and tried to sell merchandise in your online store, right? You have a store?

    DANIELS: Sure.

    NECHELES: You wrote, “Don’t want to spill my champagne, merch orders pouring in,” right?

    DANIELS: Yes

    NECHELES: This was you shilling your merch, right?

    DANIELS: I am doing my job. Not unlike Mr. Trump.

    Fucking right! When Trump makes money telling Jeff McConney to avoid paying invoices, peddle-shilling NFTs, vodka, steak, shoes, books, board games, steaks … why, that’s just the Art of Being Rich! But HOW DARE SHE MAKE MONEY from SEEEXXXX instead of a respectable profession, like Sunday School teacher, double-bookkeeper, or lawyer for a mobster nicknamed “Benny Eggs”?

    NECHELES: Your merchandise is you bragging getting President Trump indicted, right?

    DANIELS: I got President Trump indicted?

    Heh.

    NECHELES: You’re making $40 for every “Stormy Saint of Indictments” candle?

    DANIELS: I only make about $7 per.

    NECHELES: Here’s the Stormy Daniels Political Power comic?

    DANIELS: I didn’t write it

    NECHELES: But you’re selling it?

    DANIELS: Yes

    […]

    “And now you’re writing a story about sex with Trump!”

    “And if that story was untrue, I would have written it to be a lot better.”

    […]

    NECHELES: You’ve acted and had sex in over 250 porn movies.

    DANIELS: 150-ish, yeah.

    NECHELES: And there are naked men and naked women having sex in those movies.

    NECHELES: And according to you seeing a man in a t-shirt and boxers was so offending that you got lightheaded and nearly fainted?

    DANIELS: Yes, because it was Mr. Trump on the bed, an older man sitting there, I was not expecting him to be there. If I came out of the bathroom and it was not my husband, but Mr. Trump instead, I would probably have the same reaction.

    NECHELES: Because he was supposedly in a t-shirt and boxer shorts, you were so upset that he wanted to have sex with you, that you couldn’t speak up? Not the first time in your life someone made a pass at you.

    DANIELS: This was the first time that they had a bodyguard outside the door. And they were twice my age and bigger than me.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/trump-day-14-desperately-smearing

  170. Reginald Selkirk says

    Conservative group FreedomWorks shutting down, citing Trump effect

    The conservative group FreedomWorks said it is shutting down, citing the splintering effect former President Trump has had on the Republican Party.

    “We’re dissolved,” the group’s president, Adam Brandon, told Politico in an interview. “It’s effective immediately.” …

    He said the decision to dissolve the company was driven by the ideological changes driven by Trump’s time in office. After Trump won, a “huge gap” opened between the company’s libertarian principles and the MAGA ideologies of its members, he said…

  171. says

    Israel fumes as Biden signals a harder line against a Rafah ground assault

    The president’s threat to cut off supplies of weapons was met with a mix of concern and fury by the U.S. ally on Thursday.

    Israel reacted with a mix of concern and fury Thursday to President Joe Biden’s warning that he would cut off weapons to the U.S. ally’s military if it moves forward with a full-scale assault on Rafah, the city in southern Gaza where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering.

    The threat, which marked a shift in Washington’s public approach to the war, came after the Biden administration halted a shipment of bombs last week amid concerns over Israel’s plans to invade Rafah even as cease-fire talks continue with Hamas. The U.S. has long supplied weapons to Israel, and Biden’s warning follows months of growing tensions between the two countries and as the president faces domestic pressure to take a harder line on the war.

    Israeli officials appeared in little doubt that the fallout could have far-reaching consequences.

    The country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said the U.S. pause was “a very disappointing decision, even frustrating.” He suggested in an interview with Israeli Channel 12 TV news that the move stemmed from pressure Biden felt from both Congress and U.S. college campus protests.

    “Israel will continue to fight Hamas until its destruction,” Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz said on X in an apparent response to Biden’s threat. “There is no just war like this one.”

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refrained from directly commenting on Biden’s remarks, but on Thursday afternoon, he reposted a video on X from a speech he delivered earlier this week saying: “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”

    […] Right-wing National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir issued a short but scathing response in a post on X. “Hamas ❤️ Biden,” he said. His office did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from NBC News.

    […] An Israeli official told NBC News there were deep frustrations within the Israeli government over the Biden administration’s decision to withhold the shipment, which included 2,000-pound bombs the U.S. was concerned would be used to deadly effect in a dense urban area.

    “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden said in his interview on CNN Wednesday when asked about the blocked shipment.

    […] This would not be the first time the U.S. has withheld military aid from Israel.

    In 1982, President Ronald Reagan imposed a six-year ban on cluster weapons sales to Israel following a Congressional probe that found Israel had used them in populated areas in its 1982 offensive in Lebanon. […]

  172. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @birgerjohansson #196:

    Homeless? Japan has no good social.service network.

     
    Someone in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo, Japan recently admired what Arizona was doing:

    The City of Tucson is utilizing a shower trailer to help the homeless community stay clean. It’s used five days a week and can be posted anywhere around the city. […] The trailer includes 5 individual showering units, each with a toilet and sink. One of them is also ADA compliant.” They also include dispensers for soap and shampoo. […] sign up and you’ll be given a towel, a lockbox to put your belongings in, and 15 minutes. On the trailer, there are propane tanks to heat the water and a dedicated generator for power. […] It costs about $20,000 a month to operate […] funded by the state.

    Good stuff. We need more of this as we don’t have 銭湯 here. Public hygiene saves lives.

    銭湯 or 公衆浴場 are family run, public bathhouses in Japan that cost a set price and get subsidies from the government […]

    Wikipedia – Sentō (銭湯)

    Public bathhouses revamped for modern Japan (2021)

    once vibrant hubs of public life. […] Modern homes put an end to this tradition—and to more than 80 percent of Tokyo’s sento. […] some enthusiasts are hoping to turn back the clock.

  173. Reginald Selkirk says

    New York Times editor Joe Kahn says defending democracy is a partisan act and he won’t do it

    Joe Kahn, after two years in charge of the New York Times newsroom, has learned nothing.

    He had an extraordinary opportunity, upon taking over from Dean Baquet, to right the ship: to recognize that the Times was not warning sufficiently of the threat to democracy presented by a second Trump presidency.

    But to Kahn, democracy is a partisan issue and he’s not taking sides. He made that clear in an interview with obsequious former employee Ben Smith, now the editor of Semafor…

  174. Reginald Selkirk says

    A hiker discovered a wealthy traveler’s remains on a skiing glacier in Switzerland. They turned out to be 400 years old.

    The Theodul Glacier was expanding when a mysterious man in thin leather shoes trekked across its surface about 400 years ago.

    This field of ice high in the Alps, below the iconic and imposing Matterhorn, formed a treacherous pass between what is now Switzerland and Italy. It was the middle of the Little Ice Age, and more ice was forming along its edges every year.

    That had totally changed by 1984. The glacier was retreating, and the leather-shoed man was slowly melting out into the sun when a hiker first stumbled upon his remains.

    Slowly, as archaeologists returned to the site through the 1980s and early 90s, the melting glacier revealed a skull with auburn hair clinging to it, several knives, nearly 200 coins, jewelry, glass buttons, bits of silk clothing, a shaving razor, a dagger, a sword, and a pistol scattered across the area….

  175. StevoR says

    Huge patches of forest in Tasmania have rapidly turned brown over recent months, with many trees dying after a dry summer. But what this signals for forests in the future as the climate continues to warm is unclear. (Is it tho’? – ed.) From February to the end of April, parts of the state received the lowest rainfall since records began.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-09/dieback-in-tasmania-killing-forests-research-future-impact/103809158

    Seems pretty clear implication to me. Without adequate water and under excessive heat stress plants including even huge established trees willdie. If trees and other plants can’t get enough water and suffer toomuch heat they will die. They’re tough but they have their limits – as do we.

    Oh and dead trees and tinder dry ground, fuel for Bushfires.Big ones.

  176. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    An open database leaked submissions to Utah’s transphobic ‘bathroom bill’ snitch form

    The submission form is being flooded with memes and troll comments, and the auditor also left the submissions database open to the public—without a password […] I haven’t seen names and contact information shared in the database, but comments and image attachments were easily viewable.
    […]
    schools and government agencies face fines of up to $10,000 per day for each violation of the bathroom bill, and families […] are confused and concerned about how the state plans to enforce a law based on their kids’ gender expression and bathroom use.

  177. John Morales says

    Reginald:

    The headline:
    “New York Times editor Joe Kahn says defending democracy is a partisan act and he won’t do it”

    The article’s content:
    “To say that the threats of democracy are so great that the media is going to abandon its central role as a source of impartial information to help people vote — that’s essentially saying that the news media should become a propaganda arm for a single candidate, because we prefer that candidate’s agenda.”

    So. Is it not amply evident to you that the headline and the content are in tension?

    He did not, according to the content of the article, say “defending democracy is a partisan act and he won’t do it”.

    Nope.

    Lying liars are not admirable, and this goes well beyond clickbait into straight out lying.

    Tsk.

    Why you thought that was worth posting is left to the imagination, of course, but disinformation it is.

    Tsk.

  178. John Morales says

    Well, I suppose it works on clueless people who just read headlines.

    Tsk.

  179. badland says

    If anyone is looking to understand why John is suddenly all over Pharyngula like a tsking needy rash, it’s 1745 on a Friday in his part of the world and he’s a few glasses down and spoiling for an argument.

    Tsk.

  180. Reginald Selkirk says

    Virginia school board votes to restore Confederate names

    A Virginia school board has approved a motion for two schools to revert to their Confederate names following a debate that bitterly divided a town.

    The Shenandoah County School Board voted 5-1 to reinstate the names of Stonewall Jackson High and Ashby-Lee Elementary in Quicksburg.

    Community members had been pushing for a reversal, arguing the 2020 name change was unpopular…

  181. Reginald Selkirk says

    Pope declares 2025 Holy Year

    The event happens every quarter century and is expected to attract over 30 million pilgrims. But the Italian capital’s infrastructure is in a poor state, leading many to ask if it can cope with the influx…

  182. Reginald Selkirk says

    Drones Target Russia’s Largest Oil Refinery in Kaluga Region, Igniting Fire

    In Russia’s Kaluga region, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) targeted the Pervyi Zavod plant, engaged in oil refining, resulting in a fire, as reported by the region’s governor, Vladyslav Shapsha.

    Initially, Russian Telegram channels reported several powerful explosions in the Dzerzhinsky district near the Polotnyany Zavod station around one o’clock in the morning of Friday, May 10. The operation of anti-aircraft defense was suggested.

    Eyewitnesses reported hearing the characteristic sounds of several drones before a fire and smoke became visible in the area of the Pervyi Zavod local oil depot…

  183. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ohio lawmakers fail to pass plan to get Biden on ballot. What happens now?

    Ohio lawmakers on Wednesday failed to advance a plan to put President Joe Biden on the November ballot, a development that underscored bitter divisions among Republicans who control the Legislature.

    The House and Senate floated separate proposals this week that would change the certification deadline to 74 days before the Nov. 5 election. Under current law, state officials must certify the ballot by Aug. 7 − 90 days beforehand − but Biden won’t be nominated until the Democratic National Convention 12 days later.

    Wednesday ended with no plan to get the president and presumptive Democratic nominee on Ohio’s ballot. And the clock is running out: Secretary of State Frank LaRose said lawmakers had until Thursday to change the deadline. Bills typically take 90 days to become law unless they have an emergency clause attached to them.

    Gov. Mike DeWine said Biden will still make the ballot, whether he gets there through the Legislature or courts…

  184. Reginald Selkirk says

    World Warned to Prepare for Today’s Severe Geomagnetic Storm, First in 20 Years

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center forecasted a “severe solar storm” that’s expected to hit Earth tonight, according to a release. These geomagnetic storms happen every so often, but as the Sun approaches the maximum of its 11-year solar cycle, the space weather is getting more intense…

    The coming storm was given a Severe (G4) rating by the Space Weather Prediction Center and prompted a Geomagnetic Storm Watch, the first time since January 2005 such an alert has been issued. The center anticipates at least five CMEs that will be directed at Earth between midday today, May 10, and Sunday, May 12. The Sun produced a strong solar flare on Thursday, specifically an X1.1 flare; “X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength,” according to NASA. Earlier in the day, NOAA documented an even stronger solar flare, classified as a strong X2.2 flare…

  185. StevoR says

    So hopefully this’ll just mean more speccy aurorae more visible to more people and not some 1859 style Carrington Event* in today’s high tech so much more vulnerable to that sorta thing world?

    The Bureau of Meteorology has warned a severe geomagnetic storm event is expected to impact Earth from about 8pm AEST on Friday. Power outages may occur and satellite services could be impacted. The BOM has urged governments and critical infrastructure operators to take action to reduce potential impacts on infrastructure and essential services, such as power grids. Geomagnetic storms are not considered dangerous to human bodies. Level G4 (severe) geomagnetic storm conditions are expected to arrive at Earth from about 8pm AEST on Friday before reducing to G3, with a chance of reaching level G4 again on Saturday. The G-scale is a measure of global geomagnetic activity, which refers to fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field across the globe. The G-scale ranges from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme). The BOM predicts these geomagnetic conditions will likely continue until 6am on Monday AEST.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-10/bom-warns-level-g4-geomagnetic-storm-to-impact-earth/103833576

    Oh and impacts already it seems :

    Colossal sunspot AR3664 has unleashed its most powerful solar flare yet, and Earth is once again in the firing line. The X3.98 flare peaked in the early hours this morning (May 10) at 2:54 a.m. (0654 GMT) triggering either temporary or complete loss of high frequency (HF) radio signals across Asia, eastern Europe and eastern Africa.

    Source : https://www.space.com/powerful-solar-flare-x-class-eruption-from-giant-sunspot-ar3664-may-10-video

    .* See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrington_Event Plus seriously read The Sun King’s book (https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691141268/the-sun-kings) about it. Highly recomend. Extremel y readable and fascinating

  186. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump ally Steve Bannon loses appeal of conviction for defying Jan. 6 probe

    A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction of Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to Donald Trump, for defying a subpoena from the congressional panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    Bannon was convicted in 2022 of two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents or testify to the House of Representatives committee the investigated the Capitol riot.

    He was sentenced to four months in prison, but has been allowed to remain free during his appeal…

  187. Reginald Selkirk says

    8 GOP candidates can’t run as Republicans, MO judge rules. They’d refused morals test

    Candidate vetting in Missouri was handed a victory in court Thursday.

    The result is that eight candidates, all registered Republicans running for office in rural Vernon County, will not be allowed to stay on an August primary ballot as Republicans. The candidates had refused to take a “moral values” survey and undergo other vetting by the county’s Republican committee.

    A circuit court judge on Thursday evening ruled that the county clerk improperly placed their names on the ballot.

    “I think the judge ruled correctly,” said Mark McCloskey, the attorney representing the county’s Republican committee. “Here is the bottom line: What this means is that no one but the party gets to decide who runs on that party’s ticket. … They can file as independents.” …

    The Republican Party has a morals test?
    * snicker *

  188. StevoR says

    A Brazilian horse nicknamed Caramelo by social media users garnered national attention after a television news helicopter filmed him stranded on a rooftop in southern Brazil, where massive floods have killed more than 100 people. About 24 hours after he was first spotted, and with people clamouring for his rescue, a team in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state on Thursday successfully removed Caramelo, providing a dose of hope to a beleaguered region. The brown horse had been balancing on two narrow strips of slippery asbestos for days in Canoas, a city in the Porto Alegre metropolitan area that is one of the hardest-hit areas in the state, much of which has been isolated by floodwaters.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-10/caramelo-the-brazilian-horse-rescued-from-floods/103833364

    A feel good news story from deadly floods in Brazil. Maybe that’ll get some attention on this catastrophe that has claimed 100 human lives and whoknows howmany animal ones?

    Good that Caramelo made it tho’..

  189. StevoR says

    ^ Here Caramello is a Koala o’course.. Oh, course & Mr ed now srpings to mind..

  190. StevoR says

    Oh noez!! People! Actual human peopel! Dared toshow up on our shores fleeing for their live sand hoping tomake new lives here. Whatever will we do? Oh yeah, lock em up indefinitley on offshore isalnds becoz .. that’ll show ém ..somehow. How shit we are.

    Dozens of suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted after their boat arrived in Australian waters.

    The ABC has been told the unauthorised boat arrival was detected early on Thursday morning, with the people smuggling vessel destroyed by bad weather.

    The group of 33 arrivals was initially taken to Christmas Island by the Australian Border Force (ABF) but has since been transferred to another offshore facility, understood to be Nauru.

    A spokesperson for Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil told the ABC “as is long standing practice, we do not confirm or comment on operational matters”.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-10/boat-carrying-33-suspected-asylum-seekers-intercepted-in-austral/103833802

    Oh and we’ll try not to discuss it much and sweep it under the rug just demonising them and not let anyone from media or worse public hear their stories, see their faces lest we actually empathise and think. Fuck’s sake!

  191. Reginald Selkirk says

    First New U.S. Aluminum Smelter in 45 Years Could Cut Production Emissions by 75%

    Making this remarkably versatile metal requires a huge — and near-constant — supply of electricity. Much of it is generated by burning fossil fuels, which is one reason aluminum manufacturers are responsible for about 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. That’s more than twice the amount all of Australia spews annually.

    Cleaning things up poses a huge challenge, one the Department of Energy, or DOE, wants to help solve. In March, the agency announced $6 billion in funding for “industrial demonstration” projects that showcase promising strategies for reducing the climate impact of heavy industry. The need is particularly acute, because heavy industrial processes like aluminum production generate nearly one-third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    The beneficiaries of the government’s cleanup effort include Century Aluminum Company, which could receive up to half a billion dollars to build the nation’s first new aluminum smelter in 45 years. The facility, dubbed the Green Aluminum Smelter, could double the amount of virgin, or primary, aluminum the country produces while emitting 75 percent less CO2 than older smelters, thanks to increased efficiency and the use of renewable electricity. ..

    Since aluminum smelting is an electrolytic process, shouldn’t it be easy to upgrade old facilities by supplying them with renewable energy?
    The greening is one thing, I gather it is also important that this plant is being built in the U.S.

  192. says

    United States Postal Service is still in a state of disarray and decline:

    Over 2 months ago, Biden nominated someone to fill 1 of 2 vacancies on the Postal Board.

    Walsh would be the fourth Democrat to sit on the board, joining three Republicans and one independent. Federal statute requires no more than five members of the board be of the same party, meaning Biden could choose another Democrat to fill the remaining vacancy. http://www.govexec.com/...

    It’s been sitting in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs http://www.congress.gov/...

    Contact these folks to move it to the full Senate for approval:
    Majority Members (8) Minority Members (7)
    Peters, Gary C. (MI), Chairman Carper, Thomas R. (DE) Hassan, Margaret Wood (NH) Sinema, Kyrsten (AZ) Rosen, Jacky (NV) Ossoff, Jon (GA) Blumenthal, Richard (CT) Butler, Laphonza R. (CA) Paul, Rand (KY), Ranking Member Johnson, Ron (WI) Lankford, James (OK) Romney, Mitt (UT) Scott, Rick (FL) Hawley, Josh (MO) Marshall, Roger (KS)

    On time delivery of First Class mail by the USPS is much worse now than it was a year ago. [chart available at the link]

    All data are from the USPS performance dashboard for the week of 4/20 to 4/26/2024, for first class mail.

    In February, a USPS General Registrar Virginia elections official, Keith Balmer, told the people of Richmond that

    “I understand that these issues extend beyond mere inconvenience; they represent a fundamental threat to our democracy,” Balmer said in a blog post on Feb. 26.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/...

    And in March some voters around Atlanta never received their absentee ballots

    11Alive heard from voters across metro Atlanta who expressed similar frustrations over absentee ballots that did not arrive in a timely fashion or at all. Many of them blamed the new USPS facility in Palmetto

    http://www.11alive.com/...

    The regional data shows continued substantial drops across the country. […]

    Link

  193. says

    Followup to StevoR @230.

    […] On Earth, these impacts are generally minimal, because the Earth’s magnetic field largely shields society from the onslaught of particles. Impacts are relatively restricted to sectors like high-frequency radio or communications from the ground to GPS or airlines — because the particles generate current in the atmosphere that disrupts radio waves.

    But the world is increasingly dependent on electricity, which is to say on electromagnetic waves of the sort a geomagnetic storm disrupts. It’s also increasingly encircled with bands of metal — transmission lines, railroad tracks or even pipelines — that can be turned into electromagnets by the geomagnetic storm.

    “Depending on how much [the CME] interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field, the Earth’s field can fluctuate,” sending pulses of electric current down “long conductors like pipelines, railroad tracks and power lines that’s not supposed to be there,” Steenburgh said.

    “So our role is to alert the operators of these different systems so that they’re aware and can take action to mitigate these impacts.”

    A bigger issue is the world’s reliance on global positioning systems (GPS), which depend on maintaining reliable communication to the network of satellites encircling the globe. (GPS was a far less significant part of the economy or navigation system when the last such storm happened in 2005.)

    Shawn Dahl of the Space Weather Center said that the storm can cause “potential signal loss” between ground and satellites. That means that fewer satellites will be able to communicate to the ground at once, and making the system’s ability to determine precisely where things are less accurate.

    The storm can also “flood” the upper atmosphere with charged particles that persist for days after the storm is over, with real implications for space travel.

    Controllers of lower-altitude satellites “are really paying attention now,” Dahl said, because the storm effectively “expands the areas where the satellites are orbiting.” As the atmosphere gets more dense, if controllers aren’t paying attention, their satellites can slow down in the increased friction and begin to drop. “So that’s being accounted for as much as they can.”

    One benefit of the reliance on GPS is that the sky is so full of satellites, and the ground so full of receivers, that it helps defray the risk with greater redundancy. “There’s a wide variety of spacecraft providing information, position navigation and timing,” Steenburgh said. “So while the threat is there, it is mitigated.”

    The worst geomagnetic storm in recorded history was the 1859 Carrington event, which was named for the astronomer who noticed the unusual spots on the surface of the sun — the effects of which hit the Earth 18 hours later.

    That geomagnetic storm — a G5 — caused sparks to fly from doorknobs, blocked telegraph wires and caused auroras to be visible as far south as the Caribbean.

    “So completely were the wires under the influence of the Aurora Borealis that it was found utterly impossible to communicate between the telegraph stations, and the line had to be closed,” wrote the telegraph manager of the Rochester Union & Advertiser at the time, according to Ars Technica.

    Many effects at the time were spooky. Birds woke up and sang in the bright light of the storm, and telegraph workers across the Eastern Seaboard were able to shut off their batteries and transmit messages using only the induced current of the aurora for power. […]

    Link

  194. says

    Scotch-swilling ladies’ man Rudy Giuliani and his lawyers have been working every possible angle to weasel out of paying any of that $148 million judgment he owes to the election workers whose lives he ruined with racism-slathered lies and rants, including filing for expedited bankruptcy days after his judgment. He’s been living poor, supposed to keep within a budget of just $43,000 a month (which sometimes runs to triple that) [JFC!], but he’d prefer not to pay his creditors anything he owes, because fuck them is why. Now he’s got a new wahh wah wah: No accountant will work with him!

    Griped his lawyer in a filing to bankruptcy court:

    The debtor originally had an accountant who was helping, however, he had a change of heart and indicated that he no longer wished to help prepare the monthly operating reports. The Debtor advised that he has reached out to a number of accounting firms and CPA’s seeking their help, however, no one seems interested in taking the assignment. The Debtor’s reports are fairly straight forward, as the Debtor’s sole source of income is mainly from his social security [also radio show, podcast, and IRA].

    Ring ring ring, hello, bullshit? There’s 44,000 accountants in New York and 36,000 in Florida, and making sense out of piles of bank statements and shoeboxes of receipts is what they do all day long. Surely his accountants didn’t fire him because he wanted them to dabble in a little light “discovery misconduct,” maybe fudge some records here and there, and sign their names on some cooked books? Because that sure does sound like something Rudy would do. Nah […]

    OR maybe it’s just another low-effort delay excuse to be as heel-draggingly difficult as possible […]

    How long can he keep up the Roodles-a-roo? “Don’t enforce my judgment, I’m bankrupt, hurry up with the bankruptcy! Wait on the bankruptcy, gotta appeal my judgment and not post bond! Hey, bankruptcy court, I got no records for you, so you better delay my bankruptcy!” He’s not going to jail for this, so why not?

    In the meantime inquiring minds want to know: Why can’t he stick to a $43,000-a-month (MONTH!) budget? Who is funding his legal defense fund, managed by his can-of-Spam son Andrew? What were the duties entailed in that $2 million in legal services he provided to Trump but never got paid for? And was that a diamond ring we saw on his conspiracy-theorist grifter girlfriend’s finger? Do we hear wedding bells?

    […] he won’t quit defaming those women […] “I was sued by two women who were counting multiple ballots in Georgia, we have one of them on tape doing it,” he told a crowd in Tulsa last month. “I can show you [evidence] tonight of them counting the ballots four times, one, two, one, two, four times, four time, four times.” [Debunked, proven false, Rudy’s lies have been found to be lies.]

    Don’t even make us think about what we all saw Rudy on tape doing.

    Caught with his literal pants down, twice-indicted, “broke” on $43k a month, voted off “The Masked Singer,” reduced to riding in Ubers. And now not even a CPA wants to touch him.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/poor-little-rich-rudy-cant-find-an

  195. says

    If Trump Is Elected Again, He Will Kill 44 People In The First 180 Days

    Project 2025 includes a plan to execute all federal death row prisoners.
    https://www.wonkette.com/p/if-trump-is-elected-again-he-will

    […] Now, you probably don’t need another reason to be horrified by Project 2025 itself, but we’re going to give you one anyway: They want to execute all 44 prisoners on death row in the first 180 days. That’s about one execution every four days.

    To give you an idea of the scale we are talking about here, there have only been 16 total federal executions since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Three under George W. Bush (who we all know loved an execution), and 13 under Trump. Last year, all of the death penalty states combined executed 23 people. Forty-four people in 180 days is a lot. Especially when you consider the fact it is very hard to get the drugs for lethal injections, which has resulted in more than a few botched executions over the years. It’s likely we could end up with a situation where they are at least trying to execute someone every other day.

    This plan is detailed in a segment dedicated to the group’s plans for the Department of Justice. It’s authored by Gene Hamilton, vice president of America First Legal, the Stephen Miller joint that we’re very surprised isn’t already on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of established hate groups.

    It reads:

    Enforce the death penalty where appropriate and applicable. Capital punishment is a sensitive matter, as it should be, but the current crime wave makes deterrence vital at the federal, state, and local levels. However, providing this punishment without ever enforcing it provides justice neither for the victims’ families nor for the defendant. The next conservative administration should therefore do everything possible to obtain finality for the 44 prisoners currently on federal death row. It should also pursue the death penalty for applicable crimes — particularly heinous crimes involving violence and sexual abuse of children — until Congress says otherwise through legislation.

    Obtain finality.

    Perhaps the most dystopian part of this is where they pretend that they’re also doing something for the prisoners themselves — like, oh, obtain finality for them. This has long been one of their favorite tactics. They do terrible things to people, things those people very much do not want (like being executed or forced to give birth against their will), while pretending as though they are actually doing them a favor.

    Now, just to be clear — harsh punishments like the death penalty are not actually very much of a deterrent at all (so says the Department of Justice, mind you). All the death penalty is, really, is a special prize for the people who are into that kind of thing. It makes them happy. It’s gauche to pretend it is anything more than that. […]

  196. says

    Worse and worse, Kristi Noem’s Dog Murder Story Somehow Worse Than We Knew:

    […] Probably the only thing worse that could have happened is that Kristi Noem went ahead and still released the book so the public could find out that somehow the puppy murder story was actually worse than the rough sketch we already had. Luckily The Daily Beast was there to let us know what we missed.

    Here is Noem after her dog Cricket ruined the pheasant hunt that led to the future governor shooting her:

    On the way home, Noem says she realized she was one kennel short and decided to let Cricket ride loose in the back of her pickup truck. After all, if she “was dumb enough to jump out, then good riddance. After what she had pulled that day, I didn’t care.”

    This makes the shooting sound almost like a premeditated act. The one poorly behaved dog is the one she let run around loose in the back of her pickup as she drove it because she didn’t care if it turned itself into roadkill?

    Unfortunately for Noem, Cricket had enough of a self-preservation instinct to know to not leap out of the truck while it was moving at 70 mph. So once the future governor got home, she leashed the dog and dragged her across a field to the now-infamous gravel pit.

    While walking back across the pasture, Noem says she passed a group of construction workers building her family’s new home. The men had “looks of shocked amazement on their faces,” and seemed afraid of Noem, she writes.

    So the construction workers looked pretty much like the rest of America has for the last two weeks?

    Noem then relates the story of her uncle, who was the contractor in charge of building the new house, calling her that night:

    “Well, the guys said you came barreling into the yard with your truck, slammed the door, and took a gun and a dog over the hill, out of sight. They heard one shot and you came back without the dog. Then you grabbed the goat and headed back up over the hill. They heard another shot, you came back, slammed the pickup door, went back. Then they heard another shot and then you came back without the goat. They said they hurried back to work before you decided they were next!’”

    The men were right to be afraid. One can imagine Noem shooting them for hanging drywall improperly.

    The Daily Beast went on to relate some of the other stories that Noem apparently thought would make her look good instead of like a galactic moron, and hoooo boy. […]

    Noem tends to make a lot of noise about the Second Amendment and protecting gun rights, but admits to multiple firearms-related mishaps due to her own “poor shooting skills.” In October 2020, Noem posted what she “thought was a funny video about how we do social distancing in South Dakota—we go hunting,” she writes. “I was in a field and shot a pheasant… on the third attempt.”

    Poor Cricket. If only she’d been a pheasant, and not a dog on a leash inches away from the barrel of Noem’s hunting rifle.

    Then there was the time that Noem’s negligence almost caused a massive traffic accident, which is a weird story to include in a book that you were hoping makes you look like a competent leader. It came when she and her daughter were pulling a flatbed trailer from Tennessee back to South Dakota. Someone else had supposedly hitched the trailer to the truck for the drive, which one would think a driver might want to double-check before starting a thousand-mile drive:

    “I made the mistake of not checking the hitch, but just jumped into the truck at six a.m. and hit the interstate headed out of Nashville. About ten minutes into the drive, going seventy miles per hour in eight lanes of crowded traffic, we hit a bump, and the trailer came unhitched. The heavy hitch slammed onto the asphalt, sparks flew everywhere, and the back end of the truck fishtailed almost out of control!”

    Somehow Noem wrestled the truck to the side of the road before the trailer could turn into an unguided rocket bouncing around in traffic:

    “Gosh, Kass, we could have killed so many people,” Noem recalls saying as she shook her head “in disbelief.”

    “I know,” Kass replied, according to Noem. “Thank God we didn’t.”

    Gosh! It’s true, God really does look out for babies and fools. Which you would think God-fearing folk like Kristi Noem claims to be would know already.

    Then there is the time when, as a child, Noem saw her father cutting the seatbelts out of a brand-new truck:

    “The government is trying to pass a law to say we’re required to wear seat belts,” Noem says her father replied. “No government is going to tell me I have to wear them. So I’m taking them out.”

    As Noem tells readers, “the message was clear: the government telling us what to do was not right.”

    Here’s a thought experiment: Noem’s dad gets into a bad accident while not wearing a seatbelt and permanently cripples himself so badly he can never work again. Does he turn down any federal disability he might qualify for, which of course would be paid by the taxpayers?

    Personally, we think the government has a compelling interest in preventing even its dumbest citizens from maiming or killing themselves. And even if it didn’t, this would still be the humane attitude to have driving its actions. Unsurprisingly, this does not seem to have occurred to Kristi Noem. […]

    More at the link, including Noem’s failure to set up proper security for an event featuring motorcyclists like the Hell’s Angels; sucking up to Trump by admiring his “renegade spirit”; and ignoring consultants who advised her to leave out tales of shooting dogs.

  197. Reginald Selkirk says

    A truck for Trillium Brewing, which has a ‘Storrowed’ beer, reportedly Storrows in Boston

    A box truck for Trillium Brewing Company, which has a “Storrowed” Double IPA beer, reportedly Storrowed on Friday.

    MassDOT reported the Storrowing shortly after noon.

    “Box truck Bridge-Strike in #Boston on Storrow Dr EB at the Longfellow Bridge,” MassDOT posted. “Right lane closed. Expect delays.”

    A video was going viral of the ironic Storrowing.

    “Our annual move-in season Double IPA serves as a PSA to warn against the Boston phenomenon of lodging a box truck under a low clearance overpass on Storrow Drive,” reads the brewery’s description for the “Storrowed” beer.

    “While it’s a sporadic episode that can snarl traffic for hours, most of these incidents occur during college move-in weekend, typically around Labor Day,” the brewery wrote on its website. “Be sure to heed the low clearance warnings at the Storrow Drive entry points!”

  198. Reginald Selkirk says

    Kristi Noem Now Banned in More Than 90 Percent All South Dakota Tribal Lands

    The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe became the fifth Sioux tribe this year to ban South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from setting foot in their territory, making Noem an outlaw in more than 16 per cent of South Dakota and in more than 90 percent of her state’s tribal lands.

    Noem is now barred from the Lake Traverse Reservation in the state’s northeast, according to a resolution passed Tuesday by the Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal Council. They join the Oglala, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, and Rosebud Sioux tribes in banning the governor from their lands, which together comprise about 13,000 square miles of South Dakota’s total area of 77,116 square miles.

    Sisseton Tribal Chairman J. Garrett Renville said the resolution was passed “by way of the voice of our people.” He added that, while the tribe was open to communicating with Noem in the future, she would remain barred from Sisseton lands until she took significant steps to repair the relationship…

  199. Reginald Selkirk says

    Target caves to right-wing backlash, says it will not sell Pride Month merchandise in many stores

    Target will not be selling its infamous Pride Month Collection in about half of its stores following conservative blowback over the LGBTQ-themed merchandise.

    The retailer has sold LGBTQ merchandise every month of June for over a decade. But in recent years right-wing activists have targeted the corporation, leading to in-store protests. Pride merchandise will still be available online…

  200. Reginald Selkirk says

    @ 225, 252

    Ukraine says it repelled Russian bid to cross border

    Ukraine says it has repelled a Russian armoured attack in the north-eastern Kharkiv region, after Moscow’s forces launched an incursion across the border and sought to break through defensive lines.

    Kharkiv regional head Oleh Syniehubov said Russian reconnaissance groups had tried to penetrate the border, adding that “not a single metre has been lost”…

  201. Reginald Selkirk says

    State actor behind cyberattack on B.C. government systems

    The head of B.C.’s public service has announced that there is a high degree of confidence a state or state-sponsored actor attempted to breach government systems in a cyberattack.

    Shannon Salter, head of the public service, announced that three separate attempts were made to breach government systems over the last month.

    Salter said that investigations remain ongoing, and did not share which state could have been involved in the cyberattack or which systems they attempted to access.

    Premier David Eby announced the cyberattack on Wednesday, saying the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS) and other agencies involved in the investigation…

    It is refreshing to read of such an attempt that was unsuccessful.

  202. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tornadoes Are Coming in Bunches. Scientists Are Trying To Figure Out Why.

    The number of tornadoes so far in the United States this year is just above average. But their distribution is changing. From a report:

    Tornadoes tend to travel in packs these days, often with a dozen or more forming in the same region on the same day. On the worst days, hundreds can form at once. More than a dozen tornadoes were reported on both Monday and Tuesday this week across the Great Plains and the Midwest, according to the Storm Prediction Center run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Two weeks ago, on the most active day in April, 105 tornadoes were reported. While outbreaks like these have always happened, they have become more common in recent decades…

  203. Reginald Selkirk says

    Fever’s Caitlin Clark draws in record crowd for Indiana debut: ‘Pretty unheard of’

    The Caitlin Clark effect is in full swing.

    The former Iowa star made her debut in Indiana on Thursday night in the Fever’s final preseason game against the Atlanta Dream, and fans flocked to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to watch the WNBA rookie in action.

    The crowd attendance set a record for the franchise, which averaged just 4,000 fans a game last season.

    The official attendance on Thursday night was more than triple at 13,028…

  204. Reginald Selkirk says

    Musk says Tesla Supercharger is expanding despite layoffs

    Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk backpedaled on his recent move to shrink the company’s Supercharger team, posting on X that “Tesla will spend well over $500M expanding our Supercharger network to create thousands of NEW chargers this year.”

    This move comes after the company laid off nearly the entire Supercharger organization, with Musk posting on X that the network will grow at “a slower pace” for new locations…

    His galaxy brain has too many black holes.

  205. Reginald Selkirk says

    Elon Musk’s X can’t invent its own copyright law, judge says

    A US district judge William Alsup has dismissed Elon Musk’s X Corp’s lawsuit against Bright Data, a data-scraping company accused of improperly accessing X (formerly Twitter) systems and violating both X terms and state laws when scraping and selling data.

    X sued Bright Data to stop the company from scraping and selling X data to academic institutes and businesses, including Fortune 500 companies.

    According to Alsup, X failed to state a claim while arguing that companies like Bright Data should have to pay X to access public data posted by X users.

    “To the extent the claims are based on access to systems, they fail because X Corp. has alleged no more than threadbare recitals,” parroting laws and findings in other cases without providing any supporting evidence, Alsup wrote. “To the extent the claims are based on scraping and selling of data, they fail because they are preempted by federal law,” specifically standing as an “obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of” the Copyright Act…

  206. says

    New York Times:

    The United Nations General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution declaring that Palestinians qualify for full-members status at the United Nations, a highly symbolic move that reflects growing global solidarity with Palestinians and is a rebuke to Israel and the United States. The resolution was approved by a vote of 143 to 9 with 25 nations abstaining. The Assembly broke into a big applause after the vote.

  207. says

    Associated Press:

    The U.S. announced a new $400 million package of military aid for Ukraine on Friday, as Kyiv struggles to hold off advances by Russian troops in the northeast Kharkiv region. This is the third tranche of aid for Ukraine since Congress passed supplemental funding in late April after months of gridlock.

  208. says

    Politico:

    The Pentagon this week formally ordered all 1,000 U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Niger, a blow to the Biden administration’s effort to counterterrorism and Russian influence in West Africa.

  209. says

    New York Times:

    The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to reauthorize federal aviation programs for the next five years and put in place new safety measures and consumer protections for passengers […].

    88 Senators voted to pass the bill.

  210. says

    New York Times:

    Rudolph W. Giuliani was suspended by WABC radio on Friday and his daily talk show was canceled after he violated station policy by trying to discuss discredited claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election on air.

    Schadenfreude moment for sure.

  211. says

    Say what now?

    Media Matters reports that Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene complained on Steve Bannon’s program today, “Fox News wants to control what Republican voters think. … Fox News wants to make sure, make sure that you guys don’t have your own opinion, that you only have the opinion that Fox News tells you to have.”

  212. John Morales says

    If anyone is looking to understand why John is suddenly all over Pharyngula like a tsking needy rash, it’s 1745 on a Friday in his part of the world and he’s a few glasses down and spoiling for an argument.

    Tsk.

    If anyone is looking to understand why badland is suddenly trying to snipe at me with a fatuous claim, it’s because I annoy them by being correct in what I write and therefore not rationally disputable, so a character insinuation is all that’s available.

    Heh.

    (They always go personal, since they can’t dispute me properly)

  213. John Morales says

    Of course, I can’t stop others from posting bullshit claims, but I can call them out.

    Again: “To say that the threats of democracy are so great that the media is going to abandon its central role as a source of impartial information to help people vote — that’s essentially saying that the news media should become a propaganda arm for a single candidate, because we prefer that candidate’s agenda.”

    That’s what was quoted in the article.

    New York Times editor Joe Kahn says defending democracy is a partisan act and he won’t do it

    That was the headline.

    (Hey, perhaps I’m a few glasses down and spoiling for an argument, because it’s 0809 on a Saturday)

  214. says

    Send in the clown posse: Trump can’t attack Stormy, but MAGA pals can

    On Wednesday, Donald Trump’s attorneys asked Judge Juan Merchan for two favors in Trump’s ongoing New York criminal trial, where he is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to protect his 2016 campaign.

    First, Trump’s legal team asked the judge to declare a mistrial. That was denied.

    Trump’s team then asked Merchan to punch a hole in the gag order protecting members of the jury and witnesses from Trump’s malice so that he could “respond to the American people” about the testimony of adult film actor and director Stormy Daniels. The judge also denied that request.

    “The nature, the vitriol … your client’s track record speaks for itself here,” said Merchan. “I can’t take your word for it that he says, ‘I’m just going to speak the facts.’”

    But if Trump can’t attack Daniels himself, he can always call on surrogates to attack her in his place. And that’s exactly what he did.

    Donald Trump has been fined for contempt of court in his first criminal trial nine times. Sorry, make that 10.

    The first nine of those violations resulted from social media posts in which Trump couldn’t stop himself from attacking jurors and attempting to intimidate witnesses. No. 10 was a bonus appearance in which Trump criticized the jury on a far-right cable channel.

    Not only did Stormy Daniels provide details of her sexual encounter with Trump during two days of testimony, but what she had to say was so damaging to Trump’s case that during his legal team’s first attempt at securing a mistrial that Trump’s lead attorney called Daniels’ testimony “impossible to come back from”

    With double-digit violations of the gag order already under Trump’s belt, Merchan was not about to give him any leeway. As the judge made clear, there were two big reasons for this: It would send a signal to every witness that they could be made subject to Trump’s abuse, and Trump simply can’t be trusted.

    However, Politico reports that Trump is calling in a posse of social media surrogates to do exactly what the judge told him not to do. So far, that includes posts from Eric Trump claiming Daniels’ testimony is pointless; a press conference by Florida Sen. Rick Scott that included attacks on Daniels, members of the prosecution team, and Merchan’s daughter; and former New York Rep. Lee Zeldin parading across right-wing airwaves to talk about what a travesty this trial has become.

    But the most interesting surrogate is North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (which may be the only time anyone has said that Burgum was the “most interesting” person in any situation). In addition to making the rounds on Thursday as one of “Trump’s attack dogs,” as described by Politico, Burgum has spent days demeaning the whole basis of the trial and echoing Trump’s false claims about President Joe Biden orchestrating the case to derail Trump’s campaign.

    What makes the decidedly uninteresting Burgum interesting (at least in this case) is that he’s reportedly on Trump’s shortlist for vice president.

    You’d better shape up, Tim Scott. Just promising Trump that you’ll help kill democracy might not be enough. Not even with a side order of sickening self-humiliation.

    With Burgum already pitching in, don’t be surprised if “who can craft the best social media attack” becomes the new test for Trump’s would-be VPs.

    Posted by a reader of the article:

    Trump is quite free to respond to Daniels’ testimony. All he has to do is take the witness stand and provide his response under oath. Unfortunately for him, he’d then have a choice of committing perjury or confirming that her story is essentially accurate — and that’s why he isn’t going to take that opportunity to respond.

    Instead, he’ll leave it to his surrogates to lie on his behalf.

  215. says

    Barron Trump declines to be RNC delegate because of ‘prior commitments’

    Barron Trump, the youngest son of former President Trump, has declined the offer to serve as a delegate for Florida at this summer’s Republican National Convention (RNC).

    “While Barron is honored to have been chosen as a delegate by the Florida Republican Party, he regretfully declines to participate due to prior commitments,” former first lady Melania Trump’s office said in a statement.

    The Florida GOP earlier this week said Barron Trump, who is 18, would join three of the former president’s other children — Eric, Tiffany and Donald Trump Jr. — as delegates, with Eric Trump serving as the state’s delegation chair.

    It would have marked Barron Trump’s first foray into politics in the public spotlight. The Republican convention will take place in Milwaukee, Wis., in mid-July.

    The Daily Mail first reported that Barron Trump was bowing out as a delegate.

    Barron Trump, who was 10 when his father was elected to the White House in 2016, was mostly kept out of the public spotlight while the former president was in office. He is the son of Donald and Melania Trump.

    Trump said in a radio interview Friday that his youngest son has gotten into politics.

    “He does like politics. It’s sort of funny. He’ll tell me sometimes, ‘Dad, this is what you have to do.’ So anyway, he’s a good guy. He’s a senior now in high school, and he’ll be going to college,” the former president said on Philadelphia’s Talk Radio 1210 WPHT.

  216. says

    Over the course of a week, Miss USA Noelia Voigt and Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava both relinquished their titles, marking an unprecedented period of turbulence in the pageant’s history. Since Miss USA was established in 1952, no title holder has ever before voluntarily stepped down. Now, two of them have resigned, a mere three months before their reigns end. It’s a moment that’s raising major questions about the pageant’s increasingly troubled image.

    In her resignation letter, portions of which leaked to the press, 24-year-old Voigt describes a “toxic work environment” within the Miss USA Organization that has badly affected her physical and mental health. She adds that she is now in treatment for anxiety and that she’s experienced “heart palpitations, full body shakes, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, loss of sleep, loss of hair, and more.”

    Voigt kept things less explicit, however, in her public announcement, which took the form of a cryptic Instagram post published days before. “Deep down I know that this is just the beginning of a new chapter for me, and my hope is that I continue to inspire others to remain steadfast, prioritize your mental health, advocate for yourself and others by using your voice, and never be afraid of what the future holds, even if it feels uncertain,” Voigt wrote.

    Seventeen-year-old UmaSofia Srivastava posted her own note to Instagram, saying, “My personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

    The unsettling implication sent fans scrambling for more information — as did the revelation that Voigt’s post might have contained a secret message. The capital letters of the first 11 sentences in her statement spell out the words “I AM SILENCED,” leading observers to speculate that there’s a lot Voigt would like to say if not for a nondisclosure agreement — including, perhaps, the statements she made in her leaked resignation letter.

    “People are under these ironclad NDAs at the moment,” says pageant coach and 2018 Miss Montana USA Dani Walker in a phone call to Vox. Walker, who makes YouTube videos about the internal politics of the pageant world and is friendly with the titleholders, says that she’s been contacted by multiple inside sources who have information she can’t publish online because of those NDAs. “I do, however, know that there are people working in the background trying to find loopholes that are going to allow these people to speak out, to really give everybody the full picture,” she says.

    […] The Miss USA pageant has been dogged by controversy over the past few years, from the notoriety of former owner Donald Trump to the release of the damning New York Times-produced documentary How to Fix a Pageant last September. For those enmeshed in the pageant world, Voigt’s and Srivastava’s consecutive resignations come as less of a shock and more as confirmation of what they have long suspected: Something is going very wrong inside the Miss USA Organization.

    This month’s first resignation from the Miss USA Organization didn’t come from Voigt or Srivastava. It came from social media director Claudia Michelle, who stepped down from her post on May 3. In a candid Instagram post, Michelle made multiple allegations of mistreatment in the workplace. One of them was that unnamed others at the organization used the official social media accounts behind her back, deleting negative comments and blocking critics. That allegation was corroborated by Walker, who was one of the blocked parties, and said in a YouTube video that she spoke with Michelle about it.

    Michelle also wrote that Srivastava and her family had been treated with disrespect. “I feel the way current management speaks about their titleholders is unprofessional and inappropriate; I disavow workplace toxicity and bullying of any kind,” Michelle wrote.

    […] Thom Brodeur, Voigt’s pageant coach, also criticized Laylah Rose’s [organization president’s] leadership of the Miss USA Organization in a phone call with Vox. “She’s now on her fourth [management] team in a year, and she has an unprecedented two national title holder resignations,” he said. “This never happened in the 72-year history of this organization. They’re both gone. So somewhere, at some point, somebody has to look at the leader and go, ‘Gosh, there’s an awful lot of smoke. How come there’s a fire in your house?’ There’s something going on here that isn’t working, and it can’t be all of those other people.”

    Voigt’s resignation letter, obtained by NBC, describes Rose as cold and threatening. In the letter, Voigt says Rose threatened to take away Voigt’s salary for minor issues that were never clearly communicated to her. Voigt alleges that when she was scheduled to throw the opening pitch at a baseball game, Rose said she hoped Voigt would be hit in the face by a ball. […]

    More at the link, including Miss USA’s sleazy history.

    Link

  217. says

    Trump Campaign Lagging In State Resources, Will Make It Up In Thievery

    About what you would expect for a bunch of mobsters.
    https://www.wonkette.com/p/trump-campaign-lagging-in-state-resources

    If Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was a seat-of-your-pants operation slapped together on the run, and his 2020 campaign was an alleged juggernaut, a formidable “Death Star” ready to vaporize opponents, then how should we think of his 2024 campaign?

    Your Wonkette tends to think of it as a criminal enterprise planning on two major heists. The first is to jack as many pallets of cash as it can carry out of the Republican National Committee, mostly to pay Trump’s legal bills. [LOL! Too true.] The second is to steal the election through a variety of schemes and lawsuits. Why bother running on the up-and-up when being democracy-thieving villains is so much more fun?

    The Washington Post had a story on Friday that indicates not everyone in the GOP is in on the joke. Which means that state officials are beginning to fret about funding shortfalls and belated resources coming online as they beg the national campaign for money to acquire more traditional campaign accoutrements like “offices” and “staff.”

    […] The Post says that officials in the key battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan are worried:

    The original RNC plan for the state of Georgia, reviewed by The Washington Post, called for hiring 12 regional field directors in April and 40 field organizers by the end of May, in addition to eventually opening 20 offices and a community center in the College Park, a mostly Black suburb of Atlanta. Arizona was slotted to receive six regional field directors, seven offices and 23 field organizers by the end of May. Party leaders had drafted similar road maps for other battleground states before Ronna McDaniel was replaced as chairwoman.

    Yeah, but then the Trump team had to toss McDaniel out on her keister in favor of Trump’s highly unqualified dilettante daughter-in-law Lara and a North Carolina wingnut named Michael Whatley. And when one is cast out of Trumpworld, all traces of that person must also be erased. Thus, McDaniel’s plans got tossed in the shredder.

    Additionally, since the takeover in March, Lara Trump and Whatley have moved RNC operations to Florida and weeded out employees who may not be sufficiently committed believers that the last election was stolen by Joe Biden’s army of woke transgender undocumented immigrants voting illegally thousands of times each, or whatever paranoid fantasy old Orange Julius Caesar has spinning through the pile of old cobwebs and fossilized dog shit that nominally serves as his brain. That’s a lot of institutional knowledge to walk out the door six months before the election.

    One employee Lara and Whatley weeded out just a few days ago was Charlie Spies, the RNC chief counsel who just came onboard during the March takeover. […] So Spies is out while Trump sycophant Christina Bobb, who was hired at the same time and was just indicted for election fraud in Arizona but has the advantage of being a MAGA true believer, is still there.

    In short, the Trump campaign is making personnel moves similar to what hurt the Trump presidential administration: pushing out highly qualified and competent establishment Republicans in favor of criminal lunatics who couldn’t successfully boil water if you spotted them the pot and a stove burner […]

    [An]r Arizona Republican told the paper she thinks it’s a “terrible mistake” to not already have tons of resources on the ground in a state that Trump barely lost to Joe Biden four years ago. Similar comments have come from officials in Georgia and Michigan. […]

    Trump told them to not worry about getting out the vote since he could do it himself. He told them to “focus on the cheating.” Party leaders say they are planning a massive operation around “election integrity,” with tens of thousands of volunteers who will monitor precincts and vote-counting across the country.

    So based on this story, there are two ways to read the state of play with the Trump campaign. One is that it is a disorganized mess that has struggled with fundraising and has mismanaged the one Republican organization most set up to help it win. Not only that, it has repeated past moves of driving out highly qualified and competent employees in favor of incompetent nuts. And sources are leaking to reporters both anonymously and by name to sound the alarm.

    The other way to read it is that the Trump campaign thinks it doesn’t need to participate in the mundane slog of day-to-day campaigns. For starters, the campaign thinks Donald Trump is some sort of secret weapon because they have paid zero attention to every election beginning with 2018. Had they paid attention, they might have noticed that the more Trump is front and center, the more of a drag he is on Republican candidates.

    But, more worrisomely if you are attached to quaint traditions like “democracy,” the campaign isn’t bothering with campaign infrastructure because it is planning on trying to steal the elections at the ballot box, and then after Election Day, when its army of lawyers will descend on the nation’s courts with frivolous lawsuits in a more organized replay of 2020. And it is confident of success this time around. […]

  218. says

    Medical Students Staying Away From Abortion Ban States In Droves

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/medical-students-staying-away-from

    This should not be terrifically surprising, but for the second year in a row, applications for medical residencies have declined in states with abortion bans.

    That’s not just for ob-gyns, mind you. It’s not even just for emergency room doctors. That’s for all medical residencies, period, which have declined an additional 4.2 percent in the last year, compared with a 0.6 percent drop in states where abortion is legal. Ob-gyn residencies alone have decreased in these states by 6.7 percent (and increased by 0.4 percent in states without bans).

    This is a very big deal, considering that we have a nationwide doctor shortage and one of the reasons for that is that we do not actually have enough medical residencies for all of our med school grads. We are currently short about 17,396 primary care physicians alone, and that is projected to get much, much worse in coming years. [We have a shortage of nurses as well.]

    There’s a certain irony there, in that — writ large — one of the biggest problems facing this country is that Republicans just really do not understand the very basic medical concept of triage. Triage means you deal with the big, serious, life-threatening problems first, like “people will die because we do not have enough doctors and hospitals for everyone,” while they’re standing around doing stupid, babyish shit like banning abortion and ranting about “post-birth abortions” because they are actually somehow too daft to understand what palliative care is, or to grasp that, in an emergency, you don’t actually want doctors standing around going “Oh gee, is she septic enough yet?” before acting.

    You don’t get to say you give a damn about “life” when each and every one of your actions/inactions leads to more death.

    And Speaking of More Death!

    The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of all wealthy nations. That fact is disturbing enough in and of itself, though hardly surprising. Even more disturbing, however, is that one of the leading causes of death for pregnant and postpartum women is being murdered by the man who got them pregnant in the first place.

    That very sad fact is what inspired researchers at Tulane to look into the effect that abortion bans may or may not have had on this little issue. On Monday, they released a study confirming a link between abortion bans and an increased risk of intimate partner violence.

    Via Health Affairs:

    Using robust difference-in-differences ecologic modeling, we found that enforcement of each additional Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) law was associated with a 3.4 percent increase in the rate of intimate partner violence–related homicide in this population. We estimated that 24.3 intimate partner violence–related homicides of women and girls ages 10–44 were associated with TRAP laws implemented in the states and years included in this analysis. Assessment of policies that restrict access to abortion should consider their potential harm to reproductive-age women through the risk for violent death.

    This is all extra horrific when you consider that four of the states that have abortion bans also bar pregnant women from getting divorced.

    Yes, this definitely all seems like the work of people who love life and do not just very much hate women. […]

    More at the link, including news from Florida, and from Louisiana (where the Louisiana House decided against abortion exceptions for child rape and incest victims).

    Personal anecdote: My latest checkup included interaction with an older nurse who said she had tried to reduce her work hours, was officially semi-retired, and yet was still working full-time hours or more because the office could not find more nurses to hire in Idaho.

  219. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ascension: ‘We do not have a timeline’ for networks to be restored after cyberattack

    The nation’s largest Catholic health system said it was postponing some elective procedures, tests and appointments “out of an abundance of caution” after a cyberattack earlier this week paralyzed Ascension’s computer network and other technological systems.

    The network continued to be disrupted Friday at all 140 Ascension hospitals nationally, including 15 in Michigan, and the St. Louis-based nonprofit hospital chain acknowledged “we do not have a timeline” for when it will be restored.

    Ascension said it is working to investigate the source of the breach, contain it and restore its systems. In the meantime, many hospitals are diverting ambulances to other health care facilities “to ensure emergency cases are triaged immediately.” …

    Maybe they can pray it away.

  220. John Morales says

    quoth Reginald:

    The nation’s largest Catholic health system said it was postponing some elective procedures, tests and appointments “out of an abundance of caution” after a cyberattack earlier this week paralyzed Ascension’s computer network and other technological systems.

    Maybe they can pray it away.

    No. That is up to God, in their theology. It is not mechanistic.

    They know they can’t, you know they can’t.

    Same pattern, isn’t it?

    Yet again, you try to mock people for other than their actual professed belief, and you do that by just making shit up.

    Not the first time you’ve done that, Reginald; not the first time I’ve addressed your attempted mockery and shown it for what it is.

    Tsk.

    [Local is Sat 10:56, for those who care about such things]

  221. John Morales says

    Here we go.

    Justice Kavanaugh says unpopular rulings can later become ‘fabric of American constitutional law’
    Yes, that’s what we’re worried about.

    He said federal judges “stay as far away from politics as possible.”

    Tell us another.

    Your ‘Yes’ means you concur with his claim. You agree.
    Your “Tell us another.” is supposed to be snark because you don’t believe the claim.

    Thing is, if you’d thought about it for even the smallest amount, you’d surely have realised that one can be deeply immersed in politics while also stay as far away from politics as possible.

    (Example: I worked until I retired, yet I also tried to work as little as possible)

    You’re not really very good at snark, Reginald.

  222. John Morales says

    Heh. Any supposed surprise surely should be vitiated if one is from a nation where political bias is entirely normalised because those people are explicitly politically appointed. Not exactly typical.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideological_leanings_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_justices

    In modern discourse, the justices of the Court are often categorized as having conservative, moderate, or liberal philosophies of law and of judicial interpretation. It has long been commonly assumed that justices’ votes are a reflection of their judicial decision-making philosophy as well as their ideological leanings, personal attitudes, values, political philosophies, or policy preferences. A growing body of academic research has confirmed this understanding, as scholars have found that the justices largely vote in consonance with their perceived values.[1][2][3]

    And yet, if the only possible way to get there is via political appointment, perhaps political alignment is a career necessity in order to be appointed.

    (Just a thought)

  223. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales #276:

    quoth Reginald [#274]:

    The nation’s largest Catholic health system said it was postponing some elective procedures

    Maybe they can pray it away.

    No. That is up to God, in their theology. It is not mechanistic.
    They know they can’t

     
    Wikipedia – Prayer in the Catholic Church, Petition

    A prayer of petition is a request to God that asks him to fulfill a need. By prayer of petition, Catholics acknowledge their dependence on God. This expression is not intended to instruct or direct God what to do, but to appeal to his goodness for the things we need; and the appeal is necessary, not because he is ignorant of one’s needs or sentiments, but to give definite form to one’s desires, to concentrate one’s whole attention on what is being recommended to him, to help one appreciate our close personal relationship with him.
    […]
    Jesus said to bring our every need to God in his name and assures that “whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you” (John 16:23). Through petition one can ask for God’s help with every need no matter how great or small.

    US Conference of Catholic Bishops – Catholic Catechism Part 4, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 3, II Prayer of Petition:

    2633: we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ […] is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name. It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.

    * Italic emphasis copied from the text.

  224. whheydt says

    Re: John Morales @ #278…
    I’ll go along with that as a trend (and more of a trend recently than formerly). Eisenhower complained that his biggest mistake as president was nominating Earl Warren as Chief Justice of SCOTUS. Warren’s background wouldn’t lead one to expect the kinds of rulings that emerged from the court during his tenure. His prior claims to fame were being California Attorney General, and pushing FDR to issue Executive Order 9066…which was the instrument for interning those of Japanese descent during WW2, even if the individuals were born and raised in the US. (Didn’t happen in Hawaii because the local authorities pointed out that if there was a general internment of Japanese in the state, the state economy would collapse.)

  225. John Morales says

    CA7746, indeed. As you quoted, “A prayer of petition is a request to God that asks him to fulfill a need. By prayer of petition, Catholics acknowledge their dependence on God. [etc]”

    Exactly. Do you imagine you are somehow disputing what I wrote?

    Do clarify in what supposed manner, if so.

  226. John Morales says

    US Conference of Catholic Bishops – Catholic Catechism Part 4, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 3, II Prayer of Petition:

    2633: we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ […] is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name. It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.

    * Italic emphasis copied from the text.

    Right? Petitional prayer (let’s not get into imprecative prayers and the other forms) is an appeal.
    A petition.

    There is no expectation it will be granted.

    “thoughts and prayers”

    As one can imagine, Catholic institutions and enterprises — schools, hospitals, whatnot — are business enterprises. They do not rely on prayer.

  227. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales:
    Praying away a burden IS petitioning the burden to be taken away. Otherwise it’d be wishing it away.

    It’s doublespeak. You’re promised to get whatever you ask for (John 16:23), but the asking is a formality to remember your place. The petition is to be granted practically mechanically: Omniscient, plan-abiding God plays along with the petitioner in tandem with the mere gesture of asking (not the content)… unless it doesn’t happen (because no gods), in which case good thing you didn’t intend to get anything! Petitioning gods for prompt tangible effects that wouldn’t otherwise occur makes plain the futility. That’s the snark.
     

    business enterprises. They do not rely on prayer.

    Fancy that.

  228. John Morales says

    Praying away a burden IS petitioning the burden to be taken away. Otherwise it’d be wishing it away.

    It’s both. One is petitioning an imaginary being, after all. An inchoate, malformed imaginary being.

    It’s doublespeak. You’re promised to get whatever you ask for (John 16:23), but the asking is a formality to remember your place.

    So? Doesn’t change anything. Still formalised wishful thinking.

    The petition is to be granted practically mechanically:

    Care to quote the Vatican on that? I’ve never heard of that alleged doctrine.

    Remember, you’re supposed to be talking about Catholics.
    I know I was, because that was the original (silly) claim, and it was wrong.

    Petitioning gods for prompt tangible effects that wouldn’t otherwise occur makes plain the futility. That’s the snark.

    That’s just stupidity.

    Here is the actual belief: “There is no expectation it [a petitionary prayer] will be granted.”

    Maybe re-read what you yourself quoted @281. The point of praying, according to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USA people are the weirdest) is to glorify God. Not to expect favourable outcomes; the prayer is itself the point.

    Fancy that.

    Duh. Which vitiates Reginald’s feeble jibe at Catholics.

    Again: Do you imagine you are somehow disputing what I wrote?

  229. John Morales says

    That was the same person who imagined Catholics can’t eat chocolate during Lent, BTW.

    (Not exactly an expert)

  230. lumipuna says

    Hello. It’s been a while since I last commented here.

    There’s something of an update on the asylum seeker situation on Finnish-Russian border:

    https://yle.fi/a/74-20087952

    Last year, Russian border authorities started allowing third country citizens (from Middle East and Africa) to access the Finnish border despite not having EU/Schengen visas. The situation escalated in November, when significant numbers of asylum seekers began to enter EU via Finland, apparently organized in collaboration by Russian security forces and private human smugglers. Finland has kept the border closed since December, and the situation was kind of suspended until spring. It was feared that large numbers of people would start walking illegally across the border in the spring, when the weather gets better.

    The Finnish story I linked has some analysis of recent developments. It seems that Russian authorities have started again stopping or outright arresting people who try to access Finnish/Estonian border without valid documents, or whose visa to Russia has expired. I’ve noted before that when Finland made formal complaints last year, Russian official response was “It’s a free country, we can’t legally stop people who want to leave across our borders”. Meanwhile, ordinary Russians know very well that if they want to leave the country, or just hang out near the border, their documents will be carefully scrutinized. Increasingly so, as the war in Ukraine grinds on, foreign terrorists kill people in Moscow and state control generally tightens. It seems that the narrative of free movement has become too troublesome.

    Also, Russia didn’t get much propaganda benefit out of this operation because Finnish border guards did not engage in brutality or general tough guy playacting, and because the asylum seekers weren’t desperate enough to risk dying in the snow during winter. Now, the situation has fizzled out and Russia isn’t committed to branding itself as a transit country for migrants, like Belarus has done. It seems the asylum seekers are again heading to Belarus and hoping to cross the border to Poland, Lithuania or Latvia. In order, the crisis isn’t over but it’s returning to its previous form. Meanwhile, Finland will apparently keep its border closed to the public for a while still.

  231. Reginald Selkirk says

    This web site would be better if you would get rid of the bully.

  232. says

    lumipuna, @286, Thanks so much for that update. Very clearly stated. I was wondering what would happen on the Finnish/Russian border when spring arrived.

    In other news, Republicans are still using the “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” line to promote their political campaigns.

    Mark Sumner has this take on that: 4 years ago this week: Trump claims that COVID-19 would just ‘go away’

    Four years ago this week, Donald Trump claimed that the U.S. had “met the moment and … prevailed,” not over COVID-19, but over the test shortage that had hobbled the nation’s response for over four months as the virus spread around the world and across the country. As with most things Trump said about the pandemic, that was a lie.

    The reason for that lie is almost as foolish as Trump’s statement—the U.S. had simply failed to stockpile enough nose swabs to go with the tests that were being made. Without those swabs, the tests were left sitting unused on shelves. And there were no swabs because Trump left the supply planning up to his son-in-law Jared Kushner who had no concept how to handle a medical crisis.

    In May 2020, the U.S. passed a horrific physical and spiritual milestone as COVID-19 deaths reached 100,000. Job losses were off the charts. Trump was working with Saudi Arabia and Russia to keep oil prices high. And the United States was a nation in mass trauma with freezer trucks full of bodies in New York City and consumers hoarding toilet paper.

    And now Trump is actually running on claims that America was better off four years ago.

    When people look back at the tragedies of the Great Depression or the ravages of World War II, it’s understandable that information may be lost over generations. Younger Americans may not understand the fear, hardship, and disruption of a national crisis decades in the past.

    But according to some polls, most Americans seem to have forgotten what life was like just four years ago. By May of 2020, Trump had already started racking up a body count with hydroxychloroquine and pondered the possibility of injecting bleach. But Trump’s biggest contribution to America’s mishandling of the pandemic was just misinformation. To put it simply, Trump pretended that the pandemic wouldn’t happen until it did, and when it did, he promised it would go away like “a miracle.”

    CNN has a nice graphic illustrating the relationship between the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the United States, and one simple phrase from Trump: “It’s going to go away.”

    [Video of the 13 times Trump said the coronavirus would go away.]

    In February, Trump insisted that the virus would just go away in April as the weather warmed. He would keep making this claim into the spring, even though outbreaks in the southern hemisphere showed that heat was not a magic bullet against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When April arrived, the U.S. was seeing over 30,000 new cases a day, and Trump’s advice was still that “It’s going to go. It’s going to leave. It’s going to be gone.”

    Only COVID-19 refused to pack its suitcase and depart.

    Even in May 2020, with over 20,000 new cases being reported each day, Trump insisted that COVID would “go away” even without a vaccine. Instead, the rate of both new cases and new deaths would triple in the next month.

    The country that Trump left behind was a hot mess. The week of Nov. 7 when President Joe Biden was elected, almost 9,000 Americans were dying of COVID-19 each week, but before he could take office that number would reach 26,000 deaths per week. The rate of deaths would never again reach that level, even during spikes generated by new and more contagious variants.

    The unemployment rate when Biden was sworn in was 6.4%. It would never be that high under Biden.

    It’s hard to understand how anyone can feel they were better off four years ago than they are today. But then again, maybe brain worms are more common than we knew.

  233. says

    Israel orders new evacuations in Rafah as U.N. says more than 150,000 have fled.

    Washington Post link

    A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces on Saturday told Palestinians in further areas of Rafah, as well as parts of northern Gaza, to evacuate.

    Israel has issued evacuation orders for further neighborhoods in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, as it appears set to expand its operations there despite international concern.

    The Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, told people in parts of eastern Rafah to evacuate north to the Mawasi area early Saturday, despite warnings from U.N. officials that Mawasi lacks the infrastructure to support more displaced people.

    In a message posted on social media, Adraee also called on people in Jabalya and surrounding areas in northern Gaza to move to shelters west of Gaza City. The IDF said in a separate statement that the decision came in response to “attempts by Hamas to reassemble its terrorist infrastructure and operatives in the area.”

    The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Saturday that at least 300,000 people were affected by the new evacuation orders in Gaza.

    […] Wire photos showed smoke rising above buildings in Rafah on Saturday morning, following a strike. Wateridge wrote Friday that “intensified bombardment advancing towards” central Rafah in recent days had already “terrified families into leaving.

    Those who have already fled Rafah “are facing dire shortages of shelter, food, water and sanitation services,” the U.N. humanitarian affairs agency said in a Friday update. The agency added that several hospitals in Gaza “will only be able to sustain operations for less than 48 hours” unless fuel is immediately allowed to enter, adding that eight bakeries supported by the World Food Program have already been forced to stop operating. […]

  234. says

    Josh Kovensky:

    One of the strangest things about covering the Trump trial — and possibly the most aggravating for the defendant — is the sheer lack of any of the appurtenances of power that one might associate with a former President. Yes, the Secret Service is omnipresent (they can even be found in bars near the courthouse), but you have none of the glitz and glamor that Trump particularly and presidents generally are known to love. Instead, it’s a dingy courthouse that’s alternately too cold or stiflingly hot with faded wood, elevators that bump, flickering lights and faded window shades.

    I (perhaps somewhat perversely) enjoy all this, though it’s a reminder of the reality of the criminal justice system for the vast majority of defendants. But the reminder that all of this — perhaps the only criminal trial of Donald Trump before the November election — is happening in New York City municipal court goes to another issue as well. It’s the relationship between the Judge, Juan Merchan, and Trump’s defense team.

    Trump has four attorneys representing him in this case: Todd Blanche, Emil Bove, Susan Necheles, and Gedalia Stern. Of the four, the first two are former federal prosecutors who made the jump to private practice only relatively recently. Blanche came up in Trumpworld by representing Paul Manafort in his New York state case, but mostly through federal representations: Igor Fruman, most notably.

    Of the four, only Susan Necheles has extensive experience in New York City’s state court system. I find this interesting in particular because Merchan raked Necheles over the coals on Thursday for her legal work during the Stormy Daniels cross, telling her that there were “many times” when she could have objected but didn’t, and saying: “why on earth she wouldn’t object to the mention of a condom, I don’t understand.”

    What I find intriguing here is that, given their backgrounds, Merchan must know Necheles fairly well. Both are former state prosecutors in New York City, both have worked in the city’s state court system since the 1990s. Necheles, before Trump, had a roster of wealthy and well-known clients. Merchan has been a judge in Manhattan since 2009. Even in the country’s biggest city, the circles of people who try these kinds of cases and have these types of clients are relatively small. Everyone knows each other, at least by reputation, if not personally. It’s like any other office.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/the-weekender/satellite-disruption-bliss

  235. StevoR says

    Old but still stunning and tranquil skies and scopes in action time lapse here – ESO Ultra HD Time-lapse Compilation – ten minutes long.

    First the team visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, home to the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) — ESO’s flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. They then drove to ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — a huge new facility at 5000 metres above sea level on the Chajnantor Plateau, dedicated to studying the cool Universe. Finally, the team headed to La Silla, ESO’s first observatory — home to the ESO 3.6-metre telescope and the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope.

  236. says

    Earlier this week, Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an election bill into law that, among other things, revises the standard for challenging voter eligibility, increasing the chances that conspiracy theorists will be able to successfully file mass voter challenges in the upcoming election. […]

    Georgia Democratic state Rep. Saira Draper explained to TPM that although the previous law was vague, “it allowed the boards of elections broad discretion to sustain challenges or to reject them.” This new law, however, removes that discretion from the boards of elections, so that the boards may have to sustain a voter challenge even if it’s not warranted.

    Draper also noted that the law is not necessarily meant to get ineligible voters off of the voter rolls, because the state already has a system in place to manage that. Rather, it’s meant to “inject chaos into the process” and overburden election offices.

    In a May 7 statement on X, the voting rights organization developed by Stacey Abrams, Fair Fight, said SB189 “empowers MAGA extremists to target Black and brown voters, and further strain election workers.”

    “SB 189 is a step back for voters’ rights and voting access in the state of Georgia,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia similarly said in a statement. “Most importantly, this bill will require already overburdened election workers to spend time processing unnecessary voter challenges.”

    Link

  237. StevoR says

    Police are investigating an incident that led to Dutch artist Joost Klein being expelled from the Eurovision Song Contest. Klein was kicked out of the competition following a complaint made by a female member of the production crew, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the event, said in a statement. The 68th version of the contest, normally a festival of catchy songs and tongue-in-cheek kitsch, is taking place amid protests in host city Malmö over the participation of Israel, due to its war in Gaza. The EBU had earlier said it was investigating an incident involving Klein, 26, whose quirky song Europapa had originally made him one of the favourites ahead of Saturday’s final. “Swedish police have investigated a complaint made by a female member of the production crew after an incident following his performance in Thursday night’s semi final,” the EBU said in a statement.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-11/dutch-entrant-joost-klein-will-not-peform-in-eurovision-final/103835450

  238. StevoR says

    A team of anthropologists, paleontologists and Earth scientists from Kent State University, the City University of New York and the University of Michigan’s Museum of Paleontology has for the first time identified the likely common ancestor of all modern hoofed animals.In their study, published in the Journal of Mammalian Evolution, the group analyzed fossils found in Colorado.

    In 2016, a museum volunteer discovered a fossil while exploring the Corral Bluffs, a site near Colorado Springs. Since that time, more fossils (skulls and jaws) from the same species have been found in the area. The research team studied the fossil samples and found evidence that the creature, named Militocodon lydae, is likely the ancestor of all modern hoofed animals.During their analysis, the researchers found that the fossils had once belonged to an animal approximately the size of a modern chinchilla (or rat) weighing approximately 455 grams. They also dated the creature to approximately 65 million years ago, putting it in the Paleocene epoch, which followed the demise of the dinosaurs.

    Source : https://phys.org/news/2024-05-ancestor-modern-hoofed-animals.html

  239. StevoR says

    @287. Reginald Selkirk : “This web site would be better if you would get rid of the bully.”

    Referring to who exactly?

  240. says

    Last year’s wildfires in Canada have sprung to life again, and there are some new fires as well. It’s beginning to look like this will be a devastating fire season for Canada.

    Last night in NE British Columbia, 3000 residents of Fort Nelson and the nearby First Nation of Fort Nelson and Prophet River First Nations were ordered to evacuate their homes after a fast-moving wildfire advanced on the localities. The blaze started yesterday afternoon seven and a half miles from Fort Nelson. Residents with vehicles were asked to take those with no transportation options to consider taking them with them.

    The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) and the Fort Nelson First Nation advised residents to take the Alaskan Highway south, a four-hundred-long mile single-lane highway, to avoid fires to the north. Flames blocked the northern route close to the Yukon border. […]

    The fire comes the day after two sleeper fires from 2023 reignited in the area, prompting an evacuation alert and the deployment of crews to the area.

    The Nogah Creek and Patry Creek wildfires, both near Fort Nelson went underground for the winter. They became what’s known as sleeper fires — or more menacingly, zombie fires.

    This spring, they both reignited after the snow melted and the ground thawed, explained Pedro Roldan-Delgado, an information officer for the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS).

    Wind this weekend may exceed 70 kilometres per hour, and could shift direction rapidly, according to the BCWS. This creates the potential for extreme fire behaviour at both sites.

    […] The part of Canada’s snowpack is at 66 percent; it should be 90 percent for this time of year. Drought, high winds, and high temperatures are fanning the flames. It’s only May; expect the unexpected this summer. […]

    Link

    Map, photos and video available at the link.

  241. says

    Mexico heat wave melts temperature records in 10 cities, including Mexico City

    In San Luis Potosí at least four people died due to heat stroke and six more deaths are under investigation, according to local health services.

    en cities in Mexico have registered record-high temperatures, including the capital, authorities said on Friday, amid a searing heat wave that has prompted blackouts nationwide and pushed the power grid to the brink.

    In the normally temperate high-altitude capital of Mexico City, North America’s largest metropolis, thermometers on Thursday peaked at 34.3 degrees Celsius (93.7 degrees Fahrenheit), a tenth of a degree higher than the record hit just a month earlier.

    Neighboring Puebla broke its previous record of 34.3 C — set in 1947 — when it reached 35.2 C on Thursday.

    In San Luis Potosí, at least four people died due to heat stroke and six more deaths are under investigation, according to the San Luis Potosí Health Services. More than 40 people were hospitalized due to heat stroke-related symptoms.

    In Ciudad Victoria, in the northern border state Tamaulipas, across from Texas in the United States, the temperature hit a sweltering 47.4 C [117.32 degrees fahrenheit] on Thursday, breaking the previous high set in 1998.

    The intense heat caused blackouts lasting several hours in some areas of Mexico this week, mainly in the north, and caused classes to be suspended in the central state of San Luis Potosi, which this week reached 50 C. [122 degrees fahrenheit]

    In a weekly report published on Thursday, Mexico’s health ministry reported seven heat-related deaths this heat season between its start on March 17 and May 4, a tally that could rise after this week’s brutal heat.

    Human-caused climate change and El Nino have been pushing up temperatures worldwide and causing deadly heat waves.

    […] The heat wave comes amid a severe nationwide drought that has caused a worsening water crisis in much of Mexico, making water a key issue in June general elections.

  242. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales #284:

    The petition is to be granted practically mechanically

    I’ve never heard of that alleged doctrine. Remember, you’re supposed to be talking about Catholics.

    It’s a standard formulation of omniscience, immutability, timelessness, and such.

    Catholic Answers:

    what is the purpose of asking God for things if he already has a plan that he will not change his mind on?
    […]
    God can know that I will ask for grace at 5:00 P.M. and give me the grace at 5:00 P.M., even though he knew before the foundation of the world that he would give me grace at that time. Because he knows I will ask for it, he formulates his plan around that request. Using this analogy, we can see how God takes prayer seriously without “changing his mind.”
    […]
    Although God is immutable and cannot change his mind, he cannot consistently present himself that way. Otherwise, real dialogue would be impossible.
    […]
    Bible verses that seem to imply that God changes his mind when given new information. […] Why did God allow it to be written in that way if that’s not literally what happened? Isn’t that dishonest? […] Progressive theology basically says God didn’t dump the entire Bible on the Israelites all at once. […] If God told them, “Hey, I’m going to have mercy on you after you ask, but only because I know you’ll ask,” that would confuse them and make them less likely to pursue a relationship with God.
    […]
    Now we can better understand the purpose of prayer, and why we can still pray to an immutable God… indeed, how we can have a relationship at all with a completely immutable being.

  243. says

    Narrative of Trump snoozing in court takes hold — much to his annoyance.

    Washington Post link

    It’s unclear if Donald Trump has actually been sleeping, and he vehemently denies it. But Democrats and late-night hosts have seized on the reports anyway.

    Video is available at the link.

    […] CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert dubbed the alleged courtroom siestas a “white power nap.”

    On “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, “Weekend Update” host Colin Jost displayed a photo of Trump — hunched slightly forward, eyes fully closed — and deadpanned, “Former president Donald Trump seen here definitely not sleeping. He’s probably just praying.”

    In a Telemundo Miami interview Thursday, Trump pushed back on the claims, arguing that “for a big portion of trials, you just close your eyes and listen” and that he, in particular, hears everything “perfectly.”

    […] “Hibernating bears don’t sleep this much,” quipped Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s “Late Night.” “I’m starting to think when they say he slept with a porn star, they meant literally.”

    Kimmel seems to especially relish the notion of a sleeping Trump. The host has rolled out a new nickname for Trump nearly every night on his show in recent weeks — including “Donnie Nappleseed,” “Dozo The Clown,” “Ebenezer Snoozer,” “Naptain America,” “Sleepy Donzales,” “Snoozin B. Anthony” and “Teddy Doze-evelt.”

    […] Even Biden has gotten in on the fun. Speaking at a Seattle fundraiser on Friday, the president tucked in a joke about Trump’s courtroom habits as he greeted the standing-ovation crowd.

    “Please keep it down,” Biden said. “Donald Trump is sleeping.” […]

  244. says

    The Biden administration, working urgently to stave off a full-scale Israeli invasion of Rafah, is offering Israel valuable assistance if it holds back, including sensitive intelligence to help the Israeli military pinpoint the location of Hamas leaders and find the group’s hidden tunnels, according to four people familiar with the U.S. offers.

    American officials have also offered to help provide thousands of shelters so Israel can build tent cities — and to help with the construction of delivery systems for food, water and medicine — so that Palestinians evacuated from Rafah can have a habitable place to live, said the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose secret diplomatic talks.

    President Biden and his senior aides have been making such offers over the last several weeks in hopes they will persuade Israel to conduct a more limited and targeted operation in the southern Gaza city, where some 1.3 million Palestinians are sheltering after fleeing there from other parts of Gaza under Israeli orders. Israel has vowed to go into Rafah with “extreme force,” and this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a number of steps that raised fears at the White House that the long-promised invasion could be materializing.

    Administration officials, including experts from the U.S. Agency for International Development, have told Israel it will take several months to safely relocate hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are now living in decrepit and unsanitary conditions in Rafah. Israeli officials disagree with that assessment.

    Biden aides are stressing to their Israeli counterparts that Palestinians cannot simply be moved to barren or bombarded parts of Gaza, but that Israel must provide basic infrastructure — including shelter, food, water, medicine and other necessities — so that those who are evacuated will have livable conditions and not simply be exposed to additional famine or disease.

    Experts from across the U.S. government are advising their Israeli counterparts in great detail on how to develop and implement such a humanitarian plan, down to the level of how many tents and how much water would be needed for specific areas, according to several people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Aid groups have said safely evacuating people from Rafah is nearly impossible given the conditions in the rest of Gaza. […]

    Washington Post link

  245. birgerjohansson says

    “AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine is no more – but its remarkable success must not be forgotten” | Coronavirus | The Guardian
    🏥
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/may/11/astrazeneca-covid-vaccine-jab-coronavirus-saved-lives-humanitarian-crises
    It saved 6,3 million lives during 2021 alone.
    Regarding the alleged risks for this vaccine:
    For every 10 million vaccinated, the would be 73 cases of extra blood clots. By contrast, for 10 million covid cases there would be thousands of blood clots!

  246. John Morales says

    @John Morales #284:

    The petition is to be granted practically mechanically

    I’ve never heard of that alleged doctrine. Remember, you’re supposed to be talking about Catholics.

    It’s a standard formulation of omniscience, immutability, timelessness, and such.
    Catholic Answers:

    Wow that’s waffly. But a shit source.

    You want the Vatican for true canonicity, CA7746.
    Not an USA publication by Catholics, but the actual dogma.
    The official belief.

    Here, for you: https://www.vatican.va/content/catechism/en/part_four/section_one/chapter_one/article_3/ii_prayer_of_petition.html

    Also for you:

    Our Story

    Catholic Answers started in 1979 when our founder, San Diego attorney Karl Keating, came out of Mass one day and found a flyer on his windshield that attacked the Eucharist. A local Fundamentalist church had put it on every car in the parking lot, and predictably, the flyer was full of misinformation. Karl was so annoyed that he drove home with a humble goal: to draft a letter that would introduce basic Catholic beliefs and refute anti-Catholic charges. He wrote the rebuttal, signed it “Catholic Answers,” opened a post office box in that name, and proceeded to place his response on the windshields of cars in the same Fundamentalist church’s parking lot.

    Swivel-eyed flyer poster types, they are. Uniquely USAnian.

    (Not a reputable source for Catholic dogma, despite their self-given name)

  247. John Morales says

    [it’s 0703 on a Sunday, as I type this. Important for some people to note when I post]

  248. Rob Grigjanis says

    Reginald Selkirk @287:

    This web site would be better if you would get rid of the bully.

  249. Rob Grigjanis says

    Oops, accidentally posted before I finished. So let me finish:

    Telling a host how they can make their site “better” is a douche move. It’s PZ’s site, and he can decide for himself what to do. Maybe that means banning me, you, or anyone else. You don’t like someone’s comments? Ignore them. Or respond to them. Your choice. But advising the banning of another commenter? That’s Silentbob-level asshattery.

    Welcome to the cut and thrust of internet commenting.

  250. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales #306:

    Catholic Answers

    a shit source.
    […]
    Swivel-eyed flyer poster types, they are. Uniquely USAnian.
    (Not a reputable source for Catholic dogma, despite their self-given name)

    BTW, CA7746, PZ recently featured the mob you cited in another post:
    [Grendel was a T. rex?]

    I cited them specifically because that source was acceptable to you in February on Cannibalism.
     
    John Morales at xxx p4 #172:

    See, in that mythos, he was both fully man and fully God and fully part of the Trinity until he ascended into Heaven, then his body became glorified. Still fully human and fully God, but with a glorified body. Here: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/what-was-christs-resurrected-body-made-of
    […]
    (Boy, did you pick the wrong person to whom to try to show your erudition regarding Catholicism!)

  251. John Morales says

    CA7746,

    I cited them specifically because that source was acceptable to you in February on Cannibalism.

    Well, yes. But one has to know when they are full of it, like with the Grendel thing.
    The reason that bit was acceptable is because it was not wrong.

    Again: you want canonicism, go to the Vatican, not a fan site.

    Every single rule you can think of, every single bit of dogma you can think of, every single bit of canon law is there.

    You do get that these are Catholic people who gave themselves the name, right? They might be right about some stuff, they may be full of shit about other stuff. They basically were right about the prayer, but as I noted that section was waffly as fuck and did not actually claim what you imagined it claims, so that it was counter to my on counterclaim.

    Anyone who knows anything about Roman Catholicism knows the Vatican is the highest authority on Earth when it comes to Roman Catholicism. The actual religion and the vows adherents make to go through the process of Confirmation. Now, yes, people being people they will pick and choose and be hypocritical and so forth.

    Trust me on this — it would be a very peculiar Catholic person who imagines petitionary praying is automatically successful, but it is a very confused (or bullshitty) person who supposedly imagines Catholic businesses and enterprises rely on prayer on that basis.

    John Morales at xxx p4 #172:

    Heh. I remember it well. Apparently, so does Reginald.

    Nevermore has he directly addressed me, but has henceforth stuck to allusive third-person passive-aggressive posting. About me, but not to me. Evidently.

    (Presumably, me pointing this out is part of my alleged bullying)

    @164: If you knew anything about Catholic theology, you would know that they insist that not only did Jesus H. Christ exist, but that He was both fully God and fully human., quoth Reginald.

    Heh heh heh.

    (If I knew anything about it!)

    Hm. How to try to belabour the point to such as you…

    Ah, right. See, just because the source is shitty, it’s the specific content that matters.
    The content is what I adduced, and for such trivia I just usually check the top result and use that, so long as that result is correct.

    Here are their theological qualifications (ibid):

    Catholic Answers works each day to ensure our content is faithful to the Magisterium. Our staff apologists have decades of practice in apologetics, and several hold advanced degrees in theology and philosophy. We maintain a broad list of associates (clergy and laymen) who are experts in the fields of liturgy, history, bioethics, theology, philosophy, canon law, and more. We have close friendships with members of the Church hierarchy across the United States and in Rome. An independent registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Catholic Answers is listed in the Official Catholic Directory and is recognized as an apostolate in good standing by the Diocese of San Diego, where our main office is located.

  252. John Morales says

    See, when someone posts about Catholics not being able to eat chocolate during Lent, or about how Catholics think they are cannibals, or how Catholic enterprises rely on prayer purely in an attempt to mock that particular religion, I’ll note that’s just slander.

    Sure, bash the fuckers all you want, but don’t make shit up for that purpose.

    That’s my point. Always was.

    Truth matters.

  253. John Morales says

    There’s always Opus Dei.

    Them, I’d trust for information about Catholicism.

    (OK, I’ll stop with the timestamp thingy. Which was remarkable, obviously)

  254. birgerjohansson says

    “Poland becomes richer than Great Britain | Outside Views”

    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=aUIkSgPu76g
    Poland’s gross domestic productivity per capita could catch up with Britain in five years.
    Thank you, tories. Thank you, neoliberal geniuses with your trickle-down theory.

  255. John Morales says

    The headline:
    “Poland becomes richer than Great Britain | Outside Views”

    The blurb:
    “Poland’s gross domestic productivity per capita could catch up with Britain in five years.”

    (Need I say more?)

  256. whheydt says

    Re: John Morales @ #318…
    Using Opus Dei as an authoritative source on Catholicism is about like using Donald Trump as an authoritative source on the US Constitution. Better to pick a source that doesn’t have an ax to grind.

  257. John Morales says

    whheydt, no, they are pretty darn official.

    Extracts from the Wikipedia article:

    “As of 2023, there are 95,890 members of the Prelature: 93,784 lay persons and 2,106 priests.[1] These figures do not include the diocesan priest members of Opus Dei’s Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, estimated to number 2,000 in the year 2005.[7] Members are located in more than 90 countries.[8] About 70% of Opus Dei members live in their own homes, leading family lives with secular careers,[9][10] while the other 30% are celibate, of whom the majority live in Opus Dei centers. Aside from their personal charity and social work, Opus Dei members organize training in Catholic spirituality applied to daily life; members are involved in running universities, university residences, schools, publishing houses, hospitals, and technical and agricultural training centers.

    […]

    On 22 July 2022,[46][47] Pope Francis issued the apostolic letter in the form of a motu proprio Ad charisma tuendum, which seeks to “safeguard the charism,” or original foundational spirit; it is “intended to confirm the Prelature of Opus Dei in the authentically charismatic sphere of the Church, specifying its organization in keeping with the witness of the Founder.”[3] Among other things, the new disposition decrees that the head of the Opus Dei “shall not be honoured with the episcopal order”, but “is granted, by reason of his office, the use of the title of Supernumerary Apostolic Protonotary with the title of Reverend Monsignor and therefore may use the insignia [including heraldic devices] corresponding to this title”.[3] It also transfers responsibility for the personal prelature Opus Dei from the Dicastery for Bishops to the Dicastery for the Clergy,[46][47] conforming to the apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium, and mandates revision of the statutes of the personal prelature to bring them into conformity with these reforms. This reform became effective on 4 August 2022,[47][48][3] and Pope Francis explained that this action was carried out in consultation with canon lawyers of Opus Dei and had no negative connotation for he has very positive sentiments for Opus Dei.[49]

    On 8 August 2023 Pope Francis issued a new motu proprio which stated that personal prelatures such as Opus Dei, are “similar to public clerical associations of pontifical law”,[50] such as the Community of Saint Martin and the Family of Mary.[51] ”

    Relevantly,
    “All members – whether married or unmarried, priests or laypeople – are trained to follow a ‘plan of life’, or ‘the norms of piety’, which are traditional Catholic devotions. This is in order to follow the teaching of the Catholic Catechism: “pray at specific times…to nourish continual prayer”.[72]”

  258. John Morales says

    [ah, Catholicism!]

    The Knights Templar had an axe to grind, too.
    Back when the Church had powers both temporal and spiritual.

    (TL;DR they got disbanded and their notables were tortured to death with that uniquely Medieval relish)

    Wha’s the chance that the only reference the younger generation in general has is Life of Brian? ;)

  259. Silentbob says

    @ 325 Morales

    Wha’s the chance that the only reference the younger generation in general has is Life of Brian? ;)

    That would be nil, mate.

    It’s my sorrowful duty to report that The Da Vinci Code is both more recent and more popular than Life of Brian. In fact, I think a great many people have only heard of such things as Knights Templar and Opus Dei from the former ludicrous movie (book).

  260. John Morales says

    Well, my mum had among her collection The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis.

    Pretty hard-core catholicism, right there.

    (Obs, she did not have an incunabulum)

  261. John Morales says

    [tsk. tags need to be closed]

    Well, my mum had among her collection The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis.

  262. John Morales says

    Heh. I did not know this:

    Friedrich Nietzsche stated that this was “one of those books which I cannot hold in my hand without a physiological reaction: it exudes a perfume of the Eternal-Feminine which is strictly for Frenchmen – or Wagnerians”.[74]

    (Wikipedia)

  263. birgerjohansson says

    “Donald Trump Rejects Strongest Candidate for Vice President”


    Trump cannot afford to turn down a popular VP candidate. He is shooting himself in the foot because of his infinite arrogance.

  264. says

    IRS Audit of Trump Could Cost Former President More Than $100 Million

    The tax agency concluded in its long-running investigation that Trump effectively claimed the same massive write-off twice on his failed Chicago tower.

    Former President Donald Trump used a dubious accounting maneuver to claim improper tax breaks from his troubled Chicago tower, according to an IRS inquiry uncovered by ProPublica and The New York Times. Losing a yearslong audit battle over the claim could mean a tax bill of more than $100 million.

    The 92-story, glass-sheathed skyscraper along the Chicago River is the tallest and, at least for now, the last major construction project by Trump. Through a combination of cost overruns and the bad luck of opening in the teeth of the Great Recession, it was also a vast money loser.

    But when Trump sought to reap tax benefits from his losses, the IRS has argued, he went too far and in effect wrote off the same losses twice.

    The first write-off came on Trump’s tax return for 2008. With sales lagging far behind projections, he claimed that his investment in the condo-hotel tower met the tax code definition of “worthless,” because his debt on the project meant he would never see a profit. That move resulted in Trump reporting losses as high as $651 million for the year […]

    There is no indication the IRS challenged that initial claim, though that lack of scrutiny surprised tax experts consulted for this article. But in 2010, Trump and his tax advisers sought to extract further benefits from the Chicago project, executing a maneuver that would draw years of inquiry from the IRS. First, he shifted the company that owned the tower into a new partnership. Because he controlled both companies, it was like moving coins from one pocket to another. Then he used the shift as justification to declare $168 million in additional losses over the next decade.

    The issues around Trump’s case were novel enough that, during his presidency, the IRS undertook a high-level legal review before pursuing it. […] the revision sought by the IRS would create a new tax bill of more than $100 million, plus interest and potential penalties.

    […] Audits often drag on for years, and taxpayers have a right to appeal the IRS’ conclusions. The case would typically become public only if Trump chose to challenge a ruling in court.

    […] The outcome of Trump’s dispute could set a precedent for wealthy people seeking tax benefits from the laws governing partnerships. Those laws are notoriously complex, riddled with uncertainty and under constant assault by lawyers pushing boundaries for their clients. The IRS has inadvertently further invited aggressive positions by rarely auditing partnership tax returns.

    […] Beyond the two episodes under audit, reporting by the Times in recent years has found that, across his business career, Trump has often used what experts described as highly aggressive — and at times, legally suspect — accounting maneuvers to avoid paying taxes. To the six tax experts consulted for this article, Trump’s Chicago accounting maneuvers appeared to be questionable and unlikely to withstand scrutiny.

    “I think he ripped off the tax system,” said Walter Schwidetzky, a law professor at the University of Baltimore and an expert on partnership taxation.

    […] The worthlessness deduction serves as a way for a taxpayer to benefit from an expected total loss on an investment long before the final results are known. It occupies a fuzzy and counterintuitive slice of tax law. Three decades ago, a federal appeals court ruled that the judgment of a company’s worthlessness could be based in part on the opinion of its owner. After taking the deduction, the owner can keep the “worthless” company and its assets. Subsequent court decisions have only partly clarified the rules. Absent prescribed parameters, tax lawyers have been left to handicap the chances that a worthlessness deduction will withstand an IRS challenge.

    […] Trump continued to sell units at the Chicago tower, but still below his costs. Had he done nothing, his 2008 worthlessness deduction would have prevented him from claiming that shortfall as losses again. But in 2010, his lawyers attempted an end-run by merging the entity through which he owned the Chicago tower into another partnership, DJT Holdings LLC. In the following years, they piled other businesses, including several of his golf courses, into DJT Holdings.

    Those changes had no apparent business purpose. But Trump’s tax advisers took the position that pooling the Chicago tower’s finances with other businesses entitled him to declare even more tax-reducing losses from his Chicago investment.

    […] The agency’s difficulty in keeping up with Trump’s maneuvers, experts said, showed that this gray area of tax law was too easy to exploit.

    “Congress needs to radically change the rules for the worthlessness deduction,” Schwidetzky said.

    I snipped a lot of text. More details are available at the link.

  265. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohannson @ #332…
    Not planning to watch the video. I presume it’s Trump saying that Nikki Haley won’t be VP choice. At least some of her “support” appears to be more anti-Trump than pro-Haley.

  266. says

    ‘Words matter’: Titles, Trump, and what to call a former president

    He’s a criminal defendant, a businessman, and a politician. But to his most loyal supporters, Donald Trump will always be Mr. President. As for the guy currently serving in the White House, they call him Biden, or maybe just Joe.

    That’s the conclusion from research that did a deep dive into political ads on Facebook and Instagram that found a sharp divide in how Americans refer to the two contenders for the White House. In pro-Trump ads, Trump is still “President Trump,” even though he left the White House three years ago.

    [Yep. I’ve noticed. Truly irritating.]

    […] language can be just as telling as a MAGA cap, offering a simple by subtle reminder of the false election claims that continue to reverberate online, as well as the polarization that has gripped our politics and divided our people.

    “Words matter,” said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, the Syracuse University professor who led the research. Giving Trump the title of president, she said, is a way of signaling that “we share your ideology and we understand—nudge nudge—that Donald Trump is the rightful president.”

    […] In the United States, the title of president is reserved for the current occupant of the White House, and federal law uses the term “former president” to refer to previous office holders.

    Despite that, Trump’s own attorneys have used the honorific to refer to their client in his criminal hush-money trial in New York.

    “We will call him ‘President Trump’ out of respect for the office that he held,” lawyer Todd Blanche said. Prosecutors have chosen to refer to Trump as “the defendant.”

    Americans have withheld honorifics for presidents they disliked in the past, evidenced by cries of “not my president!” from critics of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Trump. But the trend seen among Trump supporters is different, noted University of Kansas professor Robert Rowland, who for decades has tracked the rhetoric that surrounds the presidency. For one, those past protests weren’t based on false allegations of vote rigging.

    […] Even though the title of president is reserved for the current office holder, Americans have increasingly applied the term to former presidents as well in recent decades, according to etiquette expert Daniel Post Senning, co-president of the Emily Post Institute and the great-great grandson of the woman whose name is synonymous with good manners. He said he started hearing informal references to “President Clinton” and “President Bush” not long after both men left office.

    Senning said he understands that many of those using the term incorrectly to refer to a former president are doing so as a way to show respect.

    “Technically that’s not correct,” Senning said. “It’s one office held by one person and the office has the title, not the person. […]

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Stormy referred to him as the “orange turd” while under oath.
    I’m good with that.
    ————————
    “Trump”, he hasn’t earned any respect, especially after his attempted coup.
    ————————–
    The indicted guy (TIG) works best for me. I’m sick of hearing his actual name.
    ——————————-
    TIG is an evolutionary step down from the former guy (TFG).
    —————————–
    Nancy Pelosi , who is still a congress person, is respectfully spoken of and to as “Speaker Emeritus”…which I believe she has rightfully earned. The good things that got passed during the Trump years were due to the hard work and experience of Speaker Pelosi.

    No one is going to stick to any rules on this…I will honor whomever I feel has earned a title. Mr. Trump has earned many fitting titles, mostly those that cannot be said in polite company….and many more to be come. Today it’s Emperor of the flatulent Lizards.
    —————————
    I’ve been referring to him as Captain Von Schitzenpantz as of late. It’s long but it works.
    ————————–
    Kapitän von Schiessenhosen.
    ————————-
    Trump has disgraced the office of the presidency and sullied the title of president, he’s embarrassed the country and is nothing more than scum. So, he was never addressed as president by me for four years and he sure as hell won’t be called the former president now by me.
    ————————-
    Grifter in Chief remains my favorite. It’s the one thing about Trump guaranteed to be true even though he’s no longer occupying the White House
    ———————–
    I think “convict” is going to work for me.
    ————————-
    I call him by one of his present titles: inmate PO1135809.

  267. says

    More Evidence of Biden’s Strength In The Likely Voter Universe

    As we get closer to Election Day pollsters start focusing less on adults and registered voters and a bit more on likely voters. About 80% of registered voters vote in our elections, so they are not the same universes. […] we are starting to see a clear pattern as pollsters start testing our their 2024 likely voter models – Biden is doing much better in likely voter universes.

    Let’s review what the recent ABC News and NPR/Marist polls found (Biden-Trump):

    Adults, Reg Voter, Likely Voter

    ABC News 44-46 46-45 49-45

    NPR/Marist 50-48 51-46 […]

    Link

  268. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia planned to capture Chasiv Yar by May 9—and failed, by Mark Sumner

    From the start of Russia’s illegal, unprovoked invasion, the Ukrainian government’s goal has been clear: not just pushing Russia back beyond the boundaries that existed on Feb 24, 2022, but recovering the land stolen by Russia in an earlier 2014 invasion. Using Google Maps to view Ukraine’s boundaries, the borders don’t just include recently captured locations like Avdiivka and Bakhmut. They also include cities like Donetsk and the whole of Crimea, which fell to Russia almost 10 years ago.

    That border is the official Ukraine, the boundaries of the nation as recognized by international law. And President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is determined to reclaim those boundaries.

    However, as The Economist reports, the failed counteroffensive in spring 2023 and the slow but steady Russian advance that began over the winter have many people—even people in Ukraine—rethinking whether the lines on the map are achievable. Starved for both equipment and manpower, Ukrainian soldiers have been conducting a slow retreat. More U.S. supplies are on the way, but their arrival won’t reverse Russia’s advantage in raw numbers. As Ukraine digs in to weather the storm, restoring the country to its 1991 borders seems more of a dream than ever.

    But that doesn’t mean Ukraine is ready to concede defeat—or another centimeter of ground.

    Russia has enjoyed a numerical advantage in both men and hardware from the start of the invasion. However, following Russia’s initial call-up of reserves and subsequent mobilizations, there was some comfort to be had in knowing that Russian troops were poorly trained and poorly equipped. Stories of Russian soldiers using ancient rifles and machine guns from the 19th century gave a reassuring picture that Ukrainian troops, even if outnumbered, were better prepared, better trained, and better equipped than their counterparts.

    But over the past year, Ukraine has suffered a crippling shortage of ammunition and other materiel and Russia has had time to get its act together. Russia has utilized electronic warfare to neutralize U.S. MLRS systems that were ripping through supplies and critical targets kilometers from the front lines. They have largely matched Ukraine in the use of drones. And over the six months in which Republicans withheld U.S. assistance from Ukraine, Russia has moved forward with an army that was not just larger, but arguably better equipped than exhausted Ukrainian front-line forces.

    The impact of that shift is magnified at a location that’s been near the front of this war since Russia approached Bakhmut—Chasiv Yar.

    But if the situation there seems bleak, with a much smaller Ukrainian force holding out on the heights against an estimated 50,000 fresh troops from Russia, it’s certainly not without hope.

    The Economist focuses on the commanders of units gathered in this area to face the Russian assault. Col. Pavlo Fedosenko, commander of the 92nd Mechanized Brigade, says that the end of U.S. aid put his unit in dire straits.

    By the time a new American aid package was approved on April 24th, it was rationing ammunition. Colonel Fedosenko says he was down to five shells a day for his American Paladin howitzers. “What am I supposed to do with this number of shells? My men were fighting with spades in trenches.”

    Because the U.S. had prepositioned weapons and supplies in Poland before the legislation passed, Fedosenko is hopeful that the equipment will soon reach Chasiv Yar.

    Even before that happens, he believes that Russian attempts to capture the town may have already reached their peak. Assaults have dropped from every few hours to every few days. And where the Russians were attacking with tanks and lines of armored vehicles, they’re now advancing in small groups using quad bikes. If you follow any of the updates of daily losses and have noticed that “motorcycle” has begun appearing on the list of Russian losses, this is why. It’s not that Russians are tearing around the country on Urals: It’s that these bikes are part of Russia’s latest attempt to find a means of penetrating Ukrainian defenses. There were several reports of Russia trying to gain territory before American supplies arrived, and in doing so, Russia may have simply exhausted its troops. [Potentially, good news]

    Looking at the Chasiv Yar area on Andrew Perpetua’s maps, it’s easy to see that the direct assaults Russia has conducted along the highway to the northeast have failed to generate visible gains in the past two weeks. [map at the link]

    In fact, the map now shows far less activity around Kanal, Zhovtneva, and Kalynivka to the east of Chasiv Yar than was visible a week ago. In fact, the only Russian gains in the area appear to be in the fields south of Ivanivske.

    Not losing ground may not be as exciting as a big advance, but it’s a pretty great relief considering the number of forces directed at this location and the importance of holding those heights.

    Russian forces also seem to have stalled in their advances to the south. After finally breaking through the defenses to capture the former front-line town of Avdiivka, Russia raced ahead over the next weeks, cutting up the highway to the northwest. [map at the link]

    Ukraine lost the town of Ocheretyne in what can only be described as a massive screwup, but then Ukraine repositioned and braced against further assaults. Russia has continued to consolidate control in the area, but hasn’t made such another leapfrogging advance.

    Here’s a good measure of how Russia is losing steam in its offensive: Russia had planned to capture Chasiv Yar by May 9, to give dictator Vladimir Putin something to celebrate at Moscow’s annual Victory Parade. It failed. Not only that, Russian forces don’t appear to be any closer to the town than they were when they made this prediction.

    According to The Economist, Ukrainian forces are anticipating another attack in the middle of the month, but they’re feeling pretty good about their situation. Ukraine has the heights. They have three defensive lines. And they have those incoming supplies to end worries about rationing ammo… for now.

    In the past day, there have been reports that Russia has begun an attack in the Kharkiv area, with another 40,000 troops reportedly massed in that region and attempting to attack across the Russian border. Zelenskyy has indicated that Russia’s initial push in this area was repulsed, but it may be some time before it’s clear whether or not this will be a serious, sustained Russian assault. [video at the link]

    When it comes to making Ukraine the official Ukraine, i.e. the Google Maps Ukraine, that’s a challenge they all recognize as years away. But the first step in that fight is in stopping Russia from taking even more.

    “We can either fight for Ukraine against Russia, or we will be overrun and forced to fight for Russia against Europe,” Lt. Col. Oleg Tkach told reporters for The Economist.

    Those words from Tkach echo an article in The Atlantic by former Kyiv Post reporter Illia Ponomarenko (who has been a source in many Ukraine Updates).

    Ponomarenko warns that while many in the West seem to believe that the war might be settled if Ukraine would agree to give away some part of its territory, or promise to make itself defenseless by refusing to align with Western militaries, Ukrainians know better.

    “Having built his rule on war hysteria, land grabs, imperial chauvinism, and global confrontation,” writes Ponomarenko, Putin isn’t going to stop just because of some agreement. Ukraine has to win—or submit to Putin’s control.

    Since the fall of the Russian-aligned government in the Maidan Revolution, too many Ukrainians have gotten a glimpse of the alternative. They’ve seen democracy rather than authoritarian rule. They’ve enjoyed freedom instead of a military dictatorship where rights only exist at the whim of those in charge.

    They won’t go back. They can’t.

    When this is over, Ukraine will either be restored to those 1991 borders, or it won’t exist. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between.

    [video at the link: “Several Norwegian🇳🇴 warriors are now in Chasiv Yar taking part in the defence of the city. Some as part of the international legion, others in other brigades.

    “ive never ever seen this amount of drones before. they pound us with everything they’ve got. […]”]

  269. says

    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has been fired.

    Shoigu, a close partner to Putin, led the Russian MOD for over 11 years.

    https://twitter.com/Osinttechnical/status/1789724499874615315

    Commentary:

    You could see this coming once they arrested his chief deputy. Shoigu has been promoted to obscurity as Secretary of the Security Council of Russia.

    Nonetheless, he should stay away from tall buildings with open windows.

    Link

    […] Andrey Belousov, First Deputy Prime Minister, and a longtime economist, replaces him.

  270. says

    A Russian war criminal talks about how he doesn’t take Ukrainian prisoners, he just shoots them. It would be justice to see him in the dock at The Hague, but the sooner he is fertilizing a Ukrainian sunflower field, the better.

    He says that he hasn’t taken Ukrainians prisoner since 2014, but killed them right away.

    Milchakov is known for torturing and executing Ukrainian prisoners of war. He has repeatedly been photographed against the backdrop of dead Ukrainian soldiers.

    https://twitter.com/Gerashchenko_en/status/1789652734494249083

    Alexey Milchakov, war criminal, co-leader and co-founder of the Rusich Group, that operated from 2022 within the Wagner Group, calls for the killing of prisoners of war.

    He says that he hasn’t taken Ukrainians prisoner since 2014, but killed them right away.

    Milchakov is known for torturing and executing Ukrainian prisoners of war. He has repeatedly been photographed against the backdrop of dead Ukrainian soldiers.

    Video at the link.

  271. says

    Last weekend, a school board in Virginia gathered together in their secret lair for a five-alarm emergency meeting … about a high school girl’s art project. Some members thought it was highly offensive and disrespectful and wanted it burned in a pyre or, barring that, removed from the school premises.

    Was it porn? Was it something encouraging children to shoot up either heroin or their school? It was not.

    The work in question was created as part of a Defiance High art class assignment on trauma. Abby Driscoll, 17, painted several pieces, but it was just one that caused all the drama: a painting titled “But Not Enough to Save You,” about the religious trauma she experienced as a lesbian, being told that she couldn’t be “saved” because of the way she was born.

    The painting itself is pretty freaking awesome. It depicts praying hands holding a rosary over a patchwork of pages from the Bible, dripping with rainbow “blood,” with the words “GOD LOVES YOU BUT NOT ENOUGH TO SAVE YOU” emblazoned across. (You can buy a print here if you like!) [Embedded link is available at the main link.]

    “The whole thing is about showing light through the darkness of trauma,” Driscoll told The News Leader last weekend. “That piece in particular was about religious trauma and trauma faced from not being accepted in a quote-unquote loving community. I wanted to really portray that. I know the message is a little strong and in your face, but the kind of shock factor is what I wanted to get out of it.”

    But once word spread on Facebook about the painting, people were offended, including the aforementioned school board members.

    Via News Leader:

    It all began Friday, shortly after Driscoll finished putting up the work for display, she started getting texts that her work was being posted on social media in part of Augusta County, and not in a favorable away. Someone had seen it in the lobby, was offended and started spreading the work on social media. More people were then critical of the work, including at least two school board members.

    A day later, on a Saturday night, the Augusta County School Board was meeting to talk about Driscoll’s work and whether or not it should be allowed to remain in the show. The News Leader first found out about the issue when Tim Simmons, who represents the Pastures District, posted on his Facebook page that people had reached out to him about the art and the school board was going into a closed meeting Saturday night to discuss.

    In a text response to The News Leader Saturday, Simmons said he would happily send a link to the art but he hadn’t included details on his page because, “I personally find it offensive.”

    Someone saw it in the lobby and was offended. Tim Simmons personally found it offensive.

    You know, when I am offended by something, I generally have no problem explaining why I am offended. It’s kind of weird, I think, to say you are offended, to be offended enough to post about it on Facebook, to hold a whole emergency meeting about it (without, by the way, even letting the girl’s parents know) without actually explaining what it is that offends you about it.

    But I think I know why.

    They can’t say “We’re offended because of course Christians would never do any such thing! And if they did, we would disagree with it!” because that’s not true. In fact, it’s not the kind of thing that would offend anyone who would disagree with it. Surely, any Christian who wouldn’t agree with it would also be aware of the fact that there are a whole lot of people out there like that, and would believe they were deserving of criticism.

    What they’re upset about is that they believe they should be able to say things like this to people and believe things like this without ever being directly confronted with the damage they do.

    But there is a bright side to all of this — the bad guys actually lost this time. Abby Driscoll’s painting will stay up after all. It will be there in the school hallway, and perhaps it will remind some people that there are consequences to treating people poorly, even if God is the one who told you to do it.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/public-school-tried-to-ban-a-kids

  272. says

    Wisconsin Supreme Court to revisit ruling that banned most ballot drop boxes

    Oral arguments kick off Monday in a case with major ramifications for how the 2024 election will be run in the battleground state.

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Monday in a pivotal case that will determine the future of absentee ballot drop boxes in the battleground state’s elections.

    The case will give the court’s liberal majority the opportunity to reverse a ruling the court made less than two years ago — when conservatives held the majority — that significantly reduced the number of absentee ballot drop boxes in the state.

    If the court’s current 4-3 liberal majority overturns that ruling, it could result in a return of the widespread use of absentee ballot drop boxes for the upcoming presidential election.

    Democrats and progressives in the state filed numerous briefs in the case urging the court to overturn its 2022 decision. Conservative groups and the Wisconsin Republican Party have filed several briefs in support of upholding the current rules regarding drop boxes.

    “They make voting more accessible and possible for people. That’s the reason we support it,” said Jay Heck, the executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, the state’s branch of the national nonpartisan government watchdog group. Common Cause Wisconsin filed an amicus brief in the case pushing for the 2022 ruling to be overturned.

    “Despite worries and claims by election deniers and conspiracy theorists, drop boxes were not used for any nefarious purpose like they’ve claimed,” he said. […]

  273. says

    Biden taps Obama, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and the Clintons for mega fundraisers

    One high-profile event will feature a contest with Clooney and Roberts on social media platforms to engage grassroots donors, according to details first shared with NBC News.

    President Joe Biden’s campaign plans to host a major fundraiser in Los Angeles next month with former President Barack Obama and Hollywood superstars George Clooney and Julia Roberts, according to a campaign official.

    The star-studded lineup is expected to boost Biden’s fundraising efforts at a time when Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee are aiming to close the cash gap now that the former president has won the delegates needed to secure the nomination, allowing him to use all the GOP tools at his disposal.

    The high-profile Biden event, set for mid-June, will feature a contest with Clooney and Roberts run across the campaign’s social media platforms to engage grassroots donors, as well as top celebrities and surrogates, according to details first shared with NBC News. The two Academy Award winners will also lend their names for campaign emails and text messages, in hopes of attracting more contributions.

    The campaign plans to promote the Los Angeles fundraiser in a fashion similar to the glitzy evening Biden held with Obama and former President Bill Clinton in New York City in late March, which brought in $26 million. Biden campaign aides said that amount was a Democratic fundraising record for a single event.

    The president is also expected to hold a fundraiser with Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the East Coast early this summer, according to a source familiar with the plans, first shared with NBC News.

    For months, the Biden campaign has had a cash advantage over Trump, allowing it to build out infrastructure in battleground states and hire staff.

    “We’re not under any illusion that he’s not going to narrow the gap,” a Biden campaign adviser said. “But what he can’t get back is the time we’ve had with all this money to do what we’ve done.”

    […] Obama is also expected to do fundraisers in the coming months for the Democrats’ Senate and House campaign committees, as well as the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, according to an Obama official.

  274. says

    In the mystery of Florida’s bizarre spinning fish, a leading suspect has emerged

    A mysterious ailment causing fish in the Florida Keys to spin in circles has touched off a frantic race to find the cause and save an endangered species before it’s too late.

    Eight months into scientists’ hunt, some think a primary suspect has emerged: Toxins from algae colonizing the seafloor may be causing neurological issues for some fish species.

    Fishermen noticed the bizarre behavior in October, according to Ross Boucek, a fisheries ecologist with the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a nonprofit conservation and fishing group.

    “When they shined their lights, fish would turn upside down and spin to the bottom,” he said.

    Over the following months, Boucek received reports of upside-down stingrays and lemon sharks whirling violently in the mud. Dozens of species were afflicted, including the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish, which is known for its flat snout with teeth that looks like a saw blade.

    At least 47 sawfish have died, though the number is likely higher, said Michael Crosby, the president and CEO of Mote, a nonprofit marine lab and aquarium. The toll is profound, given that there may be just several hundred of the fish left in U.S. waters.

    An emergency response to rescue afflicted sawfish launched in early April, involving government agencies and nonprofit partners. Meanwhile, scientists at several laboratories are trying to figure out what’s causing the widespread distress for marine life.

    Recently, researchers’ tests identified a cocktail of natural toxins in both seawater and the tissues of some stricken fish.

    “The hypothesis I’m working on at the moment is really that the combination of these various benthic algal toxins are coming together to create the phenomenon we’re seeing,” said Alison Robertson, a senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

    But that isn’t confirmation, she added, and researchers don’t know what caused the algae or toxins to proliferate. […]

    Whatever researchers ultimately conclude may determine what’s on dinner plates at some Florida restaurants, how fishermen make their livelihoods and whether tourists come to visit. The Keys have already suffered several ecological shocks: Hurricane Irma in 2017, record sea surface temperatures last year and the mass die-off of corals.

    “We’ve been bouncing from crisis to crisis down here,” Boucek said. […]

    When the work began, the most likely explanations for the bizarre fish behavior did not pan out. Oxygen levels in the water were normal. There weren’t any signs of red tide. Tests for pollutants found nothing out of the ordinary.

    Boucek figured the exposure was likely from the water, and when he removed spinning fish from the ocean and placed them in tanks with clean water, some recovered in as little as 25 minutes.

    The only lead was elevated background levels of a genus of algae called Gambierdiscus in water samples. […]

  275. John Morales says

    It’s not always bad news. From Yorkshire, instant karma from the other side:

    ‘Vile’ letter triggers worldwide support for Sheffield charity shop

    A “vile” anonymous letter expressing the hope a local charity shop would close down has prompted global support after it was shared online.

    Kreate, a homeware store in Sheffield, was set up to provide work experience for adults with learning difficulties.

    But a letter willing the shop to fail has had the opposite effect, after it was posted on Facebook by shop manager Ruth Denton – and went viral.

    […]

    After a photo of the letter was posted on Facebook by Ms Denton, it was shared hundreds of times – prompting support from as far afield as the US.

    One person described the letter as “vile”; another said it was “ironic that their ridiculous note has given you amazing publicity and awareness”.

    […]

    Ms Denton said the letter left her feeling “shocked” and “disheartened”, but described the response to her post on social media as “absolutely unbelievable”.

    “We’ve had so much positivity,” she said.

    “I’ve had messages from people asking if they can buy online so they can support us – they’re living in the USA! It’s absolutely unbelievable.”

  276. birgerjohansson says

    Farron Cousins: “Lara Trump Trashed For Insane Plan That Will Cripple Republican Party”

    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=jmqn3JC3Nkk
    I am beginning to think the wannabe singer is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Or maybe stupidity is a transmittable disease. 

  277. says

    In his latest flub, Trump touts ‘the late great Hannibal Lecter’

    Given how much time Donald Trump spends in front of televisions, it’s not too surprising that the former president occasionally tries to make political points by way of pop-culture references. The trouble is, he’s just not especially good at it.

    In January 2019, for example, Trump tried to use “Game of Thrones” as part of a clumsy argument about his border-wall project, and the whole thing fell apart rather quickly. In April 2020, Trump talked about the Captain William Bligh character from “Mutiny on the Bounty,” though it wasn’t altogether clear whether the then-president realized that Bligh was the villain of the story.

    Over the weekend, the presumptive GOP nominee’s latest attempt at a pop-culture reference went about as well. The New York Times reported:

    In an extended riff at his rally on Saturday in New Jersey, former President Donald J. Trump returned to a reference that has become a staple of his stump speech, comparing migrants to Hannibal Lecter, the fictional serial killer and cannibal from “The Silence of the Lambs,” as he aims to stoke anger and fear over migration in advance of the election.

    “Silence of the Lambs. Has anyone ever seen ‘The Silence of the Lambs’?” Trump asked the audience. “The late, great Hannibal Lecter is a wonderful man. He oftentimes would have a friend for dinner. Remember the last scene? ‘Excuse me. I’m about to have a friend for dinner,’ as this poor doctor walked by. ‘I’m about to have a friend for dinner.’ But Hannibal Lecter. Congratulations. The late, great Hannibal Lecter.”

    [video at the link]

    Trump has spent recent months echoing Hitler while lashing out at immigrants, complaining that immigration is “poisoning the blood of our country” and describing migrants as “vermin.”

    But Trump is apparently looking for ways to up the ante — leading him to equate undocumented immigrants with the most famous cannibal in cinematic history.

    What was far less clear to me, however, was why Trump described the fictional character the way he did. “The late, great Hannibal Lecter”? A “wonderful man” whom the former president “congratulates”? A New York Times report added:

    Throughout his campaign this year, Mr. Trump has frequently brought up Hannibal Lecter, once calling him “legendary” and another time referring to him as a nice fellow. … It is not clear what Mr. Trump meant by “late, great,” given that neither the character — nor the actor who played the role — have died, in person, film or the books the character originated from.

    Perhaps Trump should simply stop trying to make cultural references? They never seem to go well for him.

  278. says

    Bloomberg News:

    Donald Trump pledged to double down on tax cuts if he wins a second term as president, drawing a distinction with President Joe Biden who has called for tax hikes on businesses and the richest Americans. … Trump’s comments on Saturday shed some more light on his emphasis on cutting taxes across the board, including for top earners and businesses.

    Commentary:

    […] At a rally in New Jersey, the presumptive Republican nominee boasted about an apparent across-the-board tax cut, which would include “big” new tax breaks for the “upper class” and the “business class.” [video at the link]

    […]last year he told attendees at a Mar-a-Lago event, “You’re rich as hell. … We’re gonna give you tax cuts.” Soon after, he told Fox News he was interested in another round of tax breaks for corporations.

    […] It’s worth emphasizing for context that the presumptive GOP nominee and his team aren’t talking about replacing their 2017 tax policy. On the contrary, they’re determined to keep those tax breaks in place — including extending the measures that are set to expire — and then keep going with even more cuts.

    The fact that Trump’s 2017 package was a failure is an inconvenient detail that much of the political world chooses to overlook.

    […] if recent history is any guide, the former president and his allies would simply put the cost of the tax cuts on the national credit card, without regard for the budget deficits that his party occasionally pretends to care about.

    […]as Trump makes this an explicit part of his 2024 pitch, it’s especially important to appreciate the politics surrounding the larger conversation.

    As Republicans began their work on tax reform seven years ago, practically all independent polling pointed in the same direction: Most Americans wanted to see a system in which the wealthy and big corporations paid more. Republicans proceeded to ignore public attitudes and did the opposite.

    […] About a year ago, a national Pew Research Center survey found that Americans’ top concern related to tax policy was “the feeling that some corporations and wealthy people do not pay their fair share in taxes.” The report on the findings added, “Majorities also say they would like taxes on these groups to be raised.”

    Three months ago, a Navigator Research survey found that 79% of voters favored higher taxes for wealthy individuals and large corporations. As recently as March, a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll found that 69% of voters in swing states want to see higher taxes on the wealthy.

    […] when it comes to tax policy, there can be no doubt that the Democratic incumbent [President Biden] is on the right side of public opinion.

    Link

  279. says

    At the start of 2024, there were 28 state legislatures entirely under Republican control and 20 under Democratic control. Of these, many have majorities where one party has overwhelming control, like West Virginia where there are 88 Republicans and only 10 Democrats, or Massachusetts with 134 Democrats to 25 Republicans.

    When voters elect such lopsided majorities, they give one party the power to enact their own platform. That’s especially true in states where the governor is of the same party as the legislative majority. In these situations, more than any other, parties express themselves to the detriment of constituents’ lives.

    With many state legislatures wrapping up their 2023-2024 sessions, here are two examples of what voters get for their partisan investment. One state got guns and a culture war; the other got education, transportation, and housing.

    In Colorado, the 74th General Assembly contains 69 Democrats (23 in the Senate, 46 in the House) and 31 Republicans (12 in the Senate, 19 in the House). Together with Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, this session gave Democrats an opportunity to execute on issues they had campaigned on in this cycle, as well as follow up on Democratic victories from the previous session.

    As Colorado Politics reports, the result was one very successful year in Colorado politics. Democrats were able to pass:
    – A program that gives students from families earning under $90,000 two free years of college. That’s not just at technical schools or community colleges, but it includes state-run universities.
    – Property tax reform that provides relief for homeowners and more equitable funding for schools to make them less dependent on property taxes and the wealth of their local communities.
    – A tax credit program for low income families that provides $1.4 billion that’s expected to drastically reduce child poverty.
    – A bill that doubles the earned income credit for families.
    – Changes to zoning policy to spur sustainable, affordable housing, especially in resort communities where housing costs far exceeded the incomes of many workers.
    – A fee on oil and gas production that goes to promoting transit, conservation, and renewable energy.

    As the session draws to a close, lawmakers are still looking at a collection of bills, including a plan to improve transportation for low-income areas and gun reform measures.

    At the other end of the spectrum, Tennessee’s 113th General Assembly has 102 Republicans (27 in the Senate, 75 in the House) and only 30 Democrats (6 in the Senate, 30 in the House).

    What does Tennessee have to show for their session?
    – More guns in the classroom with a bill to arm teachers after a shooter killed students and staff at a private Christian school in Nashville.
    – A law requiring teachers to out trans students with fines to teachers and schools who don’t comply.
    – Gun reforms were shot down in favor of “fortifying” campuses by adding alarms that can be sounded to indicate an active shooter situation.
    – Required “age appropriate firearms training” for children starting in pre-kindergarten.

    The governor’s pet program, a bill to destroy public education and replace it with education vouchers, didn’t make it through this session, but $114 million in funding was set aside for the next session, just in case it does pass.

    Colorado and Tennessee are just two states, but they showcase the difference between Democratic and Republican policies. Colorado voters got education, housing, tax reform, and more funding for transportation, energy, and the environment; Tennessee voters got a legislature that concentrated on “culture war” issues and guns. Lots of guns.

    Link

    Well, those differences between Republican and Democratic governance at the state level are certainly stark.

  280. says

    Live coverage: Michael Cohen testifies in Trump’s New York Trial

    Excerpts:

    Right out of the gate, Hoffinger is establishing that everything Cohen did, he did at the sole discretion of Donald Trump.

    Cohen says his duties “concerned whatever [Trump] wanted.”

    He had only one boss: “The Boss,” Mr. Trump.

    Maggie Haberman at The New York Times

    Michael Cohen is now describing talking to Trump every single day, multiple times a day, before the 2016 election. It was either in person or by cell phone, Cohen testifies.

    This is a point that’s getting hammered. Because showing that Trump was directly behind the payments to Stormy Daniels is the whole case. Establishing that Cohen didn’t jump until Trump told him to jump is an absolute necessity.

    Was it your sense that he was a micro-manager?

    Yes, ma’am, Cohen replies.

    Trump was highly sensitive to negative stories about him in the media […] he was extremely cautious about the paper trail he left. And that he wanted to know everything about the missions his employees were carrying out on his behalf.

    Q: Prior to the campaign announcement, did Trump express any concern about his past?
    A: [Trump said] You know that when this comes out—meaning the presidential announcement—just be prepared there’s a lot of women that are going to come forward

    Cohen is now testifying about the meeting between himself, publisher David Pecker, and Trump in which the three of them set up the catch-and-kill scheme.

    While the Trump—Pecker—Cohen story trapping scheme isn’t the crime behind this case, it’s the crime behind that crime. Showing that this was a conspiracy to protect Trump’s campaign, and not just keep Melania from being angrier in her far away bedroom, is what makes all those falsifying documents charges into felonies.

    Establishing that conspiracy is as important as showing that Trump knew what he was buying when he sent the checks to Cohen.

    We now turn to the Karen McDougal story. When Cohen told Trump about the story, he said “She’s really beautiful.” [Does not comport with Trump’s claim that he did not have an affair with McDougal]

    A reminder that none of the documents in the McDougal case are among the 34 involved in charges against Trump. So a lot of this is back to establishing a pattern.

    As prosecutors continue to lead Cohen through testimony about the McDougal case, Jonathan Swan at The New York Times reports that Eric Trump is posting to social media from his spot two rows behind his father.

    Eric: “I have never seen anything more rehearsed!”

    Eric probably suspects it’s rehearsed any time someone doesn’t wander into talking about the airports of the Revolutionary War.

    Pecker knew Trump, and yet it still came as a surprise when Leopard Who Never Pays His Bills didn’t pay his bills in the McDougal coverup.

    Cohen explains that he recorded this call for Pecker, because he wanted to make sure that Pecker was remaining loyal to the scheme. Cohen was convinced AMI had a big folio of Trump scandals and was concerned that he might unleash them if Pecker wasn’t kept happy.

    Trump has another stack of papers in hand and is shuffling through them. Odds are this is another piled of social media messages. The defense team seems to have landed on the idea of, since Trump can’t have his phone, keep him distracted by letting him read messages.

    Jonah Bromwich at The New York Times.

    Jurors are hearing Michael Cohen testify that he—and everybody—at the Trump Organization spoke to Allen Weisselberg, then the company’s chief financial officer, about financial transactions. Weisselberg, currently in jail, was involved in coordinating the repayments to Cohen after Cohen paid hush money to Stormy Daniels.

    This morning, Judge Juan Merchan ruled that the prosecution could not introduce Weisselberg’s severance agreement as evidence. The prosecution wanted jurors to see this to help explain why Weisselberg isn’t testifying. The document includes penalties for saying something unfavorable about the company.

    Correction: Weisselberg may yet testify. He’s on the potential witness list. But between being in jail and the prosecution’s failure to get the severance package into evidence, it seems unlikely he will appear.

    Cohen details how he sat up the LLC to acquire rights to McDougal’s story, including communicating with AMI using the encrypted app, Signal. Again, this establishes a pattern for when he does this again with Daniels.

    Cohen says he talked with Weisselberg “10 to 12 times” in setting up the accounts.

    Jurors are hearing all the details of how Pecker and Weisselberg set up a system to repay AMI for McDougal, but AMI would never actually get paid. This ended up being more a dry run for Daniels, who did get paid, because Pecker refused to pony-up a second time after Trump stiffed AMI on McDougal.

  281. birgerjohansson says

    ‘A miserable little doom goblin’ : Rupert Murdoch employee Rita Panahi blasts ‘commie troll’ Greta Thunberg after she joins pro-palestine* demonstration in Malmö, Sweden.
    The comments are equally ugly. 😵‍💫

    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=KW83El-Vaa4
    * actually anti-war demonstration.

  282. birgerjohansson says

    Brilliant episode.
    “Have I Got News for You S67 E6. Bill Bailey. 10 May 24”
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=zCWlzcKY1b8
    The crazy lady talking about a trade deal is Liz Truss, the PM that lasted a shorter time than a lettuce. Putin walks down corridors forever.

  283. says

    Update to comment 355.

    Trump is looking up at Michael Cohen as he testifies.

    On why Trump was not included on the bank documentation, Cohen says, “again it was to protect him and to isolate him from the transaction.”

    Pursing his lips, Trump smiled and nodded as Cohen said this.

    Not exactly an ad for Signal, but a reminder that Cohen and Pecker were so worried about hiding all this that they conducted their calls using end-to-end encryption. As if they assumed someone would be eventually looking at these calls.

    Maggie Haberman at The New York Times reports that Cohen is speaking to an idea that I had frankly forgotten—a secret Stormy fundraiser.

    … he and Allen Weisselberg, then the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, talking about possibly generating the $130,000 through a membership request or an event being held at a club.

    Testimony is filling in events around this time, including showing Cohen being very responsive to a text from Melania, and appearing in an interview as a surrogate for the campaign.

    Another example of when he lied for Trump, as he assured Wolf Blitzer that he’d never seen Trump act the way that was being reported.

    Cohen testified to the campaigns’ justified panic following the release of the “Access Hollywood” video.

    Cohen learned from AMI that Daniels was looking to sell her story about a sexual encounter with Trump. Cohen worried the story would be “catastrophic” for the campaign.

    What Trump had to say about it, according to Cohen’s testimony: “This is a disaster, a total disaster, women are going to hate me. This is really a disaster. Women will hate me. Guys, they think it’s cool. [WTF? Guys think that is cool?] But this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.”

    Trump told Cohen to keep the story from getting out until the election was over. “I want you to just push it out as long as you can, just get past the election, because if I win it will have no relevance because I’m president, and if I lose, I don’t even care,”

    That “just get it past the election” is the biggest line from this testimony. That’s Trump trying to bury Daniels’ story to protect his campaign, all wrapped up in a “if I lose, I don’t even care” bow. That’s the conspiracy that turns this into a felony, all in nice little nutshell.

    Cohen also says that Trump wasn’t thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign.

    Trump also described Daniels as a “beautiful woman,” Cohen said.

    As the questions turn to the emails between Cohen, Steve Bannon, and then Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, I’m reminded again of what an important figure Fahrenthold was during the reporting in 2016 … and how relatively invisible he has been since moving to The New York Times.

    Cohen testifies that McDougal made so much for AMI, Pecker told him to tear up the whole agreement. That makes it seem as if AMI would have been smart to hire McDougal without the connection to Trump. But then, none of these guys have been indicted for being smart.

    What did McDougal do that made Pecker invoice $25,000 less than the deal? Apparently her photo on the cover of AMI’s “Mens Health Magazine” resulted in a record number of sales.

    Much of today has featured testimony that overlaps that of David Pecker and Keith Davidson, and that’s true of this point. Davidson’s description was one of those none-too-flattering moments for Cohen. But from Cohen’s perspective, he was doing everything to protect Trump. […]

    Text excerpts above are from this Link

  284. says

    Yuck.

    Trump toadies are flocking to his New York trial to kiss the ring

    Donald Trump’s courtroom entourage has expanded in recent days, with a troupe of thirsty elected Republicans jockeying for position to win his favor. But to what end, when even Trump’s own family—except for son Eric—hasn’t bothered to show at the New York hush money trial?

    Sen. Rick Scott of Florida skipped a vote last Thursday to stand by his man. On Monday, a trio of elected Republicans showed up in the Manhattan courtroom. Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York were eager to play to the cameras, but didn’t get much of a chance to bask in the limelight.

    “After traveling with him in his motorcade, court officers were ordered to prohibit us from standing with President Trump as he addressed media” and they also “prohibited us from speaking to media,” Malliotakis complained. That’s all because “They WANT to silence the truth, protect their narrative and create the false perception that he has no support. Far from it!” she claimed.

    Scott insisted Thursday that he was there because “I have known Donald Trump a long time … I knew him before I was governor. I consider him a friend. And what he is going through is just despicable.”

    What could Scott get out of this? Maybe he thinks Trump will return the favor by supporting his reelection campaign. Scott has also been angling for the GOP leadership spot in the Senate since 2022, and might be considering what Trump could do for him there. Or perhaps he’s vying for a Cabinet slot, like secretary of Health and Human Services? He’s certainly shown he knows his way around Medicare—or at least how to defraud Medicare to the tune of $1.7 billion. He even tried to spin that investigation to his favor Thursday, saying Trump was the victim of “political persecution,” just like him.

    “By the way, I saw this. It happened to me,” Scott said on Fox News. “I fought Hillarycare, and guess what happened when I fought Hillarycare? Justice came after me and attacked me and my company.”

    He could be auditioning for the role of Trump’s vice president, but he’d have a problem there. Scott would have to leave Florida to do it, since the presidential and vice presidential candidates can’t call the same state home. That didn’t stop Dick Cheney back in 2000. He just declared he was a resident of Wyoming, and the courts bought it.

    Vance is the likelier veep contender. He’s been circling Trump for weeks, reportedly texting or talking daily with Don Jr. and saying all the things Trump wants to hear, including that “the main goal of this trial is psychological torture” of Trump.

    “I think that when you look at all of these attacks on Donald Trump, you have to be honest with yourself and say, this is not about law and this is not about justice,” Vance said on CNN Sunday.

    In that interview, Vance also blew off the fact that Trump hangs around with well-known antisemites and white nationalists like Nick Fuentes and said that he would only accept the results of the 2024 election if they are “free and fair.” That’s all music to Trump’s ears, and Vance is clearly working overtime for that coveted top-of-the-ticket favor.

    Tuberville’s Monday appearance in the courtroom is probably just a ploy for media attention. It’s possible he imagines he could be Trump’s No. 2. Or maybe he’s eyeing a Cabinet position—like secretary of Defense. Tuberville probably thinks he’s an expert and proved his bona fides through his months-long blockade of military promotions.

    It’s hard to believe that the biggest Trump toady of them all—South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham—hasn’t shown up yet. And other veep contenders are really letting Vance get the jump on them. Where has South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott been? Don’t forget Marco Rubio, who also has a Florida man problem, but that’s fixable.

    What about North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who Trump likes because he’s “very rich”? Or Trump’s “killer” friend, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York? They’re missing a big opportunity here.M

  285. says

    Excerpts from Josh Kovensky’s coverage of the Trump trial in New York:

    Cohen testifies that it was Weisselberg’s idea to “gross up” the reimbursement. That refers to the tax adjustment: if Cohen had been reimbursed $130,000 in income, he would receive far less due to taxation.

    That’s part of what led to the $420,000 overall payment to Cohen, and constitutes further proof, prosecutors believe, of the falsification scheme: they had to continue covering up the hush money payment, and therefore were forced to spend a lot of money making the reimbursement appear as income. Having Michael Cohen do the honest alternative — submit an expense report to the Trump Org for the hush money payment — would be an admission of what happened.

    For the extremely transactional among us, one useful feature of empathy is the ability to see your own vulnerabilities from the perspective of your opponent. In this case, Trump failed to recognize that the closer he got to the election, the more leverage Daniels had over him.

    Trump understood that getting past the election would allow him to avoid payment. But the somewhat more basic understanding that the weeks until then would be the highest risk period seems to have escaped him. It’s what led to all of this taking place in the last days of October, with the election less than two weeks away, and not sooner.

    Cohen looks straight at Hoffinger after reading one of the messages and says, with little affect: “My intent was to continue to delay it as per Mr. Trump’s demand.” He later adds in a monotone that discussions with Davidson were “incredibly stressful and incredibly important.”

    What’s so funny about these exchanges is that there’s just absolutely no veneer or even feigned commitment to good faith or honesty. It’s hardball, played between the fixer for a reality TV star-turned-politician and an attorney to the porn stars.

    Cohen and other witnesses have testified repeatedly about Trump’s “frugality” when it came to paying bills. Cohen suggested that Trump might be even more frugal after the election — Daniels wouldn’t get paid.

    Cohen says that Trump did not want him to pay Daniels even though the agreement was signed. We’re looking at an email in which Cohen tells Daniels’ attorney that he needed 10 days before he could make the wire transfer.

    “I would have waited until the 10th day and then do it again which is what I was instructed to do: Push it past the Election Day,” Cohen said. “I was following directions.”

    Under New York State law, the evidentiary standard is relatively low for this charge to be upgraded to a felony. All prosecutors need to do is show that Trump intended to commit the campaign finance conspiracy, nothing more.

    Link

  286. birgerjohansson says

    Below -Jesus and the Gurus with a musical comment on the mentality of the likes of Putin
    jesus and the gurus – Jesusmarsch

  287. birgerjohansson says

    (I should never post comments at four in the morning, I forget basic stuff)

  288. StevoR says

    Its an easily overlooked article on Australia’s federal budget night but it spot on tells the truth :

    The Albanese government will release its federal budget this week. That means you’ll be hearing a lot of conversations about “inflation,” the “economy,” and “economic growth.” But let’s remind ourselves of the thing that makes those phenomena possible. The way the budget is normally framed, with an intense focus on the politics and “winners and losers” of the budget, means we can easily forget some deeper truths about economics and the natural world.Last week, an interesting paper was published that discussed the issue I’m referring to. It was titled: Rethinking ecosystem services from the Anthropocene to the Ecozoic: Nature’s benefits to the biotic community. It was written by economists and researchers from North America. They argued we had to stop treating “the economy” as though it was separate from nature.

    “Modern science accepts that all complex species, including humans, are an inseparable part of nature, incapable of surviving without the ecosystem services nature generates,” they argued. “Nature is the whole, the economy is the part. We must internalise the economy into nature, not vice versa.”

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-12/albanese-government-fed-budget-scientists-warn-climate-change/103834644

    Note also inset map of ocean temps around Oz. Around globe.

  289. StevoR says

    Christou is a western Sydney councillor who has railed against the “dictatorial communist regime” of the federal government’s eSafety Commissioner, saying that “Australians do not need the government to dictate to them what they can or cannot watch and post on the internet”. Now that view could be defendable if he was a champion of free speech in the actual place he seems to have some control of: the libraries his council runs. But Christou, who doesn’t want the government to tell him what to watch on the internet, is the one who put forward a motion at the Cumberland City Council to ban books after claiming parents had complained about a book titled Same-Sex Parents.The motion put forward by Christou declared “that council take immediate action to rid same-sex parents books and materials in the council’s library service”.

    It seemed for a minute that we’d been transported across the Pacific to the United States where these culture wars are fought with regularity.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-13/cumberland-city-council-book-ban-threatens-erase-queer-families/103836256

    Becoz yeah, we’ve imported the cvultur ewar bulldust from the USA’s reichwing to here.

  290. says

    Senate Democratic women push back against Katie Britt’s ‘MOMS Act’

    As Mother’s Day approached, a group of Republican senators, led by Alabama’s Katie Britt, tried to rally some support for a new legislative proposal called the “More Opportunities for Moms to Succeed Act” (or “MOMS Act”). As Axios reported late last week, the bill seemed rather predictable.

    The bill would require states to apply child support obligations during pregnancy and would launch a website — Pregnancy.gov— with resources related to pregnancy, including information about adoption agencies, but not abortion clinics. It would also provide grants to anti-abortion non-profits that assist women through their pregnancies and after birth.

    […] a HuffPost report noted that the Pregnancy.gov provisions in the bill are drawing additional scrutiny because they allegedly raise the prospect of “a federal database storing information on pregnant people.”

    […] Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington joined with 10 other Senate Democratic women to denounce Britt’s bill, saying it would, among other things, “create a new government-run website to collect data on pregnant women and direct them to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers.”

    To be sure, Britt’s office has thoroughly rejected the idea that the legislation is designed to create some kind of “registry,” but the press release from the 11 Senate Democratic women added that under the Pregnancy.gov plan, the website would “encourage users to provide their contact information, ‘which the Secretary may use to conduct outreach via phone or email to follow up with users’ — meaning that pregnant women would be encouraged to provide data to a potential Trump administration and potentially allow a government bureaucrat to follow up with them about the status of their pregnancy.”

    […] Senate Republicans want to mandate the creation of an online federal database where women will be encouraged to register their pregnancies with the government in order to push them toward anti-abortion propaganda and dangerous crisis pregnancy centers — this tells us exactly how Republicans will weaponize the whole of government to restrict a woman’s freedom to choose and force them to stay pregnant no matter what.”

    All of this comes on the heels of Donald Trump’s interview with Time magazine, in which reporter Eric Cortellessa asked, “Do you think states should monitor women’s pregnancies so they can know if they’ve gotten an abortion after the ban?” The presumptive GOP nominee responded, “I think they might do that.”

    Britt’s bill has 12 Republican co-sponsors. I don’t imagine we’ve heard the last of the debate over its provisions.

    Katie Britt was the Stepford Wife-ish woman who delivered that weird State of the Union rebuttal to President Biden in early March. She told false stories about Cartels supposedly raping women in the United States, and other xenophobic, anti-immigration nonsense. Britt had the place wrong: events happened 20 years ago in Mexico, not in the USA, and happened when George W. Bush was president. Britt also got other details wrong, going beyond misleading and right into lying. She talked about “shoe box size rooms” where women were confined; and she talked about multiple men arriving all day and night to rape the women. It was just bizarre. She was reveling in the details.

    Of course Britt backs dangerous crisis pregnancy centers that promote misleading and outright false information. That’s where Britt is comfortable, all teary-eyed and whispering because of all the awful horror stories she holds dear in her mind. She is dangerous.

  291. says

    Excerpts from live coverage of Trump’s trial in New York:

    I’m seated a few aisles back from the several TVs that broadcast the Trump trial to those of us in the overflow room. I arrived at 5:00 a.m. this morning to ensure that I had a sure shot of getting in; the line today was the longest I’ve seen.

    It’s not just the Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, here to lend his support to Trump and, de facto, his opposition to the operation of the justice system.

    We also have two House Republicans: Reps. Byron Donalds (R-FL) and Cory Mills (R-FL). North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R), a VP contender and brief presidential candidate, is also here.

    the obvious irony of Johnson’s presence here today: he’s not just lending support to Trump’s defense in the criminal case. He’s doing so in the context of a trial at which Trump’s sexual encounter with a porn star is at the center. He’s an evangelical!

    Cohen is testifying that the invoices for these payments were bogus, as they included a reference to a retainer agreement that never existed.

    Hoffinger asks whether they were still for some sort of legal work.

    “No ma’am, they were for reimbursement,” Cohen says.

    Hoffinger is also showing jurors voided checks from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust account made out to fulfill the $35,000 agreement.

    The moment happened within minutes of Hoffinger starting with Cohen today, but you should understand its importance: Cohen testified that Trump had specific knowledge of the checks he was to receive in January and February.

    The exchange took place during a February 2017 meeting in the Oval Office, Cohen said. It further builds prosecutors case that Trump knew exactly what was going on.

    Hoffinger is asking Cohen the same series of questions for each monthly payment. Did the invoice falsely state that it was for legal services rendered? Yes. Did you receive $35,000? Yes. Was the check in fact paid for a retainer, as stated? No. Was that false? Yes.

    It’s rhetorically effective. Through repetition (a favorite tactic of Trump’s), Cohen hammers home the point: each business record was falsified. It’s also absolutely necessary for the charges that Cohen testify to the falsity of each record.

    There’s a separate issue here. Cohen also worked with lobbying and law firm Squire Patton Boggs during this period. Cohen’s telling offered a refreshingly and rarely clear view of what these firms do: He says that he had been contacted by a managing partner of the firm to put him on “their letterhead because of the title, personal attorney to the president.”

    “So, I was able to levy my contacts in order to generate business,” he said.

    Cohen is testifying about how, when the truth of the hush money agreement to Daniels emerged in the Wall Street Journal in early 2018, he lied in response.

    It was “to protect Mr. Trump,” Cohen says. He keeps using that word to describe one of his core duties: to “protect” Trump. That seemed to involve a lot of lying.

    this brings us to the moment both where Michael Cohen began to unravel, and where one of Trump’s closest advisers apparently understood what was going on.

    Cohen provided Haberman [Maggie Haberman of the New York Times] with a statement claiming that he funded the $130,000 hush money payment himself, with no involvement from Trump, his businesses, or the campaign.

    Cohen spent all day yesterday talking about how he sought “credit,” and about how enraged he felt when it seemed to him that his contributions were not noticed, as during the episode over his 2016 bonus. But here, he’s claiming to have paid $130,000 in secret, simply out of a desire to help his boss.

    This is the exact piece of testimony that led to Trump communications adviser Hope Hicks breaking down in tears on the stand earlier in the trial. She suggested to prosecutors that she found this story unbelievable, saying that Cohen “liked to take credit.”

    Cohen put it in strangely maudlin language in the 2018 statement: “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”

    As Michael Cohen continues his testimony inside, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) spoke to reporters outside the courthouse, loudly proclaiming his fealty to Trump.

    The six minute speech was stacked with Trump’s various grievances. The House speaker referred to the trial as a “travesty of justice” and the result of supposed Biden corruption — all talking points that have become the identity of MAGA Republicans who want to prove just how strongly they stand by the former president.

    Cohen is narrating the collapse of the hush money agreement. Daniels was going to go public, he learned, and so he filed a claim in an arbitration court in California to secure a restraining order to stop her from speaking.

    When trying to find an attorney for Daniels [with whom to negotiate], Cohen realized that Keith Davidson was no longer in play. Now, it was a mysterious new character, a man named Michael Avenatti.

    Cohen says that Trump called him after the FBI visit.

    Trump, Cohen recalls, told him: “Don’t worry, I’m the President of the United States. There’s nothing here, everything is gonna be ok. Stay tough. You’re gonna be ok.”

    “I had the president of the United States protecting me,” Cohen says. Others reached out to Cohen, he recalled, telling him: “You’re loved.”

    Hoffinger is showing tweets that Trump posted on April 21, 2018, in which he called Cohen a “fine person” with a “wonderful family,” and bemoaned the practice of flipping: “Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble even if it means lying or making up stories,” Trump wrote.

    It’s hard to believe any of this happened. Cohen explains it clearly: the President was using Twitter to try to bully him into staying loyal, meaning that he would not begin to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

    It was aimed at ensuring that he would “stay in the fold,” Cohen says.

    This one gets laughs in the overflow room.

    On April 21, 2018, Costello emailed Cohen to say that he had spoken with Giuliani.

    “Very Very Positive. You are ‘loved,’” Costello wrote. “There was never a doubt and they are in our corner.”

    Again, it’s the same kind of doubletalk. In this instance, it seems aimed at stopping Cohen from flipping on Trump. There’s even a dash of veiled threat to complete the dish, included in the end of Costello’s message:

    “Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.”

    Separately, Costello wrote the following to Cohen:

    Since you jumped off the phone rather abruptly, I did not get a chance to tell you that my friend has communicated to me that he is meeting with his client this evening and he haded that if there was anything you wanted to convey you should tell me and my friend will bring it up for discussion this evening.

    Per Cohen’s testimony, my friend meant Giuliani. The client was Trump.

    Why would they talk that way, Hoffinger asked?

    “To be covert, its all back channel, I Spy-ish,” he replied.

    At one point in summer 2018, Costello sent Cohen a message with nothing but a YouTube link. The video was titled, “Giuliani on possibility of Cohen cooperating, Mueller probe.” Cohen faced a federal criminal investigation — veiled mafia-style threats were not reassuring.

    As Cohen was testifying just now about his decision to finally leave the “fold” and speak truthfully, who returned to the courtroom but the group of GOP politicians who had disappeared during the break. Cohen began to speak about his family and his decision to flip, and Vivek Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum, and others marched in.

    It clearly was disruptive to people in the room, but did not appear to interrupt Cohen’s flow. Reminder: reporters in the main courtroom cannot text. Trump’s advisers can.

    Would he have paid the money to Stormy Daniels were it not for the campaign? [Hoffinger asked]

    “No ma’am,” Cohen replied.

    Cohen adds that he apologized to the American people during his testimony before Congress in 2019, months before he left for prison. He says that he apologized for “acting in a way to suppress information that the citizenry had a right to know to make a determination on the individual that was seeking the highest office in the land.”

    Hoffinger asked her final question: What regrets does Cohen have about his association and work with Donald Trump?

    He replies that he regrets doing things for Trump that he “should not have. Lying. Bullying people in order to effectuate a goal.” […] I violated my moral compass,” Cohen says. “And I suffered the penalty as has my family.”

  292. says

    The New York Times fails to capture the insanity of Trump’s rally

    Donald Trump gave a speech in Wildwood, New Jersey, on Saturday, followed by immediate coverage that focused on disputes over the size of the audience. As has been true since the 2016 election, Trump and his supporters just can’t stop lying about crowd size.

    But while individuals and news outlets were arguing over how many people wandered down the beach to see Trump, few bothered to note what Trump actually said.

    That was certainly true of The New York Times, which breezed through 99% of Trump’s speech: “Mr. Trump’s speech largely consisted of what has become his standard fare.”

    This oversimplification of Trump’s speech failed to mention Trump’s comparing himself to Al Capone, praise for fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter, or his bizarre series of statements that an unidentified “they” were “emptying out their mental institutions into the United States.”

    The late, great Hannibal Lecter. He’s a wonderful man. He often times would have a friend for dinner. Remember the last scene? “Excuse me, I’m about to have a friend for dinner,” as this poor doctor walked by. “I’m about to have a friend for dinner.” But Hannibal Lecter. Congratulations. The late, great Hannibal Lecter.

    Instead, The New York Times edited down Trump’s speech to create the candidate they want to exist: one who is romping to victory and threatening to win a solid blue state.

    Much of Trump’s speech was devoted to what seems to occupy most of Trump’s attention on any given day: making inappropriate grade-school insults about his perceived enemies. That included talking about Manhattan District Attorney “Fat Alvin” Bragg and former New Jersey Gov. Chris “Fat Pig” Christie. He also called President Joe Biden a “total moron.”

    Trump did find time for other things in his lengthy tirade, including cuing the crowd to shout “shit” and discussing his KKK-loving father.

    None of that, or Trump’s claim that immigrants were engaged in “the plunder, rape, slaughter, and destruction of the American suburbs, cities, and towns” made it into the Times, though. The Times also failed to report on how thousands of people walked away in the middle of the speech as Trump rambled into praising criminals and serial killers.

    What did make it into the article was Trump’s claim that he was “expanding the electoral map” and that “we’re going to win New Jersey.” And, if that wasn’t enough, the Times added its own emphasis by saying that what stood out about the event wasn’t the content of Trump’s speech but the location of it, pointing to Trump’s past ownership of casinos in New Jersey (without, of course, mentioning that they all went bankrupt).

    Through incredibly selective editing, the Times produced a version of the event that omitted the attacks on Judge Juan Merchan, statements that went nowhere, lies, exaggerations, and all of the bullshit—including Trump literally shouting “bullshit!”

    Instead, the Times pulled out a few sentences throughout the speech to make it seem that Trump was at least semi-coherent and focused on the election. [JFC! Misleading coverage from the NYT]

    As Esquire points out, the Times coverage is a masterclass in how not to cover an event.

    “The only story to be written about this event is that a huge crowd gathered to see and hear the presumptive presidential candidate have some sort of episode in public,“ wrote Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce.

    […] Unfortunately, it’s an example of how many outlets continue to normalize Trump by selectively editing his speeches and statements to make them seem tolerable and at least marginally lucid. […]

    Compare the Times coverage to The Washington Post article on the same event.

    Right from the headline, The Washington Post notes that Trump’s speech was “filled with vulgar jabs” and reports that Trump called on the crowd to repeat some of those vulgarities and how much of his speech got lost behind “meandering asides.” And while the article also mentions Trump’s claim that he would win New Jersey, it frames that statement against the facts—that the state is safe for Biden.

    This isn’t a matter of a New York Times article that leans slightly more favorable to Trump versus a Washington Post article that slants the other way. This was an event where Trump simply lost it in front of a crowd, tossing off one nonsensical statement after another.

    There is nothing in the entire two-hour video recorded by C-SPAN that can be considered a normal—or even acceptable—political speech. This is the verbal equivalent of a sewage spill.

    The New York Times chose to ignore all of that, creating a lie of omission, taking the real Trump out of their Trump article to create a character who doesn’t actually exist.

    And no matter how badly the Times tries to justify this, it goes beyond yellow journalism. It’s orange.

  293. says

    Hey ladies! Are you looking for a man who loves Donald Trump, tried to overthrow the country one time, wants to ban pornography, and also likes to try to get unhoused people arrested? Yes? Well, boy are you ever in luck, a man exactly like that has his very own dating app.

    Johnny McEntee is a former Trump body man (ew), current Project 2025 guy, and the founder of The Right Stuff, a dating app for people who are wrong about everything. On the TikTok account for the app, McEntee likes to share little hot takes that he clearly thinks are very clever but which are … not that.

    In one recent video, for which he is being dragged every which way across the internet for, McEntee shared what he thought was a real cute trick to play on poor people.

    Behold: [video at the link]

    “So I always keep this fake Hollywood money in my car,” he said. “So when a homeless person asks for money, then I give them like a fake $5 bill. So I feel good about myself. They feel good. And then when they go to use it, they get arrested. So I’m actually like helping clean up the community, you know, getting them off the street.”

    […] Following the backlash, he edited the description to read “Just a joke. Everyone calm down.” And yes, it is clear that he meant it to be funny, but funny in the way that he thought it actually would be a funny thing to do — not funny in the way where he was doing a bit and pretending to be a horrible asshole who is crappy to poor people. This is evident from his various other videos, in which he says many, many gross and stupid things.

    “I’m just gonna ask this one more time: Why do we only judge white people for owning slaves, when every culture had them?”

    Because it was the only slavery system based on race and, more specifically, based on the premise that an entire race of people were inferior and that there was a Biblical imperative to enslave them.

    “I was watching TV yesterday, which I usually don’t do, and I noticed something with the commercials. When did everyone in America become Black and gay?”

    Well, people use commercials to sell things, so maybe that’s what sells right now! That being said, I see white people who may or may not be straight in commercials all the time and I mostly just watch Bravo.

    “Maybe telling everyone to stop ‘fat-shaming’ wasn’t the best way to stop obesity.”

    Right here is where I am going to point out that after every one of these bon mots, this man takes a big bite of something extremely unhealthy-looking. In this particular video, he is eating a large plate of enchiladas. He is still quite thin. Which goes to show you that being thin doesn’t necessarily mean being “healthy.”

    But really — imagine loving being mean to people so much that you’ve convinced yourself it’s for their own good!

    […] this guy isn’t just some fool on the internet. I mean, he is some fool on the internet, but he is some fool on the internet who will have a significant amount of power if Trump is reelected. He’s involved with Project 2025, the Heritage Foundation’s plan to turn this nation into a dystopian hellscape, and is particularly excited about the part of the plan where they ban porn — as he discussed in a recent interview with fellow fool-on-the-internet Michael Knowles.

    […] The Project 2025 plan, specifically, is to ban pornography entirely and imprison everyone who has anything to do with it. Keep in mind that these are the kind of people who think the statue of David is porn, so it’s gonna get weird.

    Later on in the interview he also shared that he believes that the 19th Amendment should be repealed and that women should lose the right to vote — a thing that some of us might also consider a bit of a red flag.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/ex-trump-aide-johnny-mcentee-playing

  294. says

    Arizona Supreme Court Punts Creepy Victorian Abortion Law 135 Days Into Future

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/arizona-supreme-court-punts-creepy

    When we last left the state of Arizona and the saga of their terrible old timey abortion ban (and their also terrible but less old timey abortion ban), the Legislature had just passed a bill repealing the old timey one and Gov. Katie Hobbs had officially signed it into law. The catch, unfortunately, is that the repeal wouldn’t actually go into effect until 90 days after the Legislature disbanded, leaving Arizonans with a gap to mind.

    On Monday, the state supreme court decided to do the right thing and keep the draconian 1864 abortion ban — which bans all abortions, with no exceptions except to save the life of the mother — from going into effect for 90 days, plus the 45 additional days already granted by another court.

    This would keep the law from going into effect until September 26, during which the office of state Attorney General Kris Mayes will be able to figure out how they want to handle this and whether or not they want to go to the US Supreme Court.

    “I will do everything I can to ensure that doctors can provide medical care for their patients according to their best judgment, not the beliefs of the men elected to the territorial legislature 160 years ago,” Mayes said in a statement.

    Unfortunately, on Monday, the court also denied an appeal from Planned Parenthood to keep the ban from going into effect until the law repealing it goes into effect. It’s not yet clear when the ban would be going into effect, because the Legislature has not yet ended its session this year. Last year, it ended on July 31. If it’s the same this year, that would mean the law, as of right now, would go into effect for about a month before being officially repealed.

    It seems as though there should be an option besides letting the ban go into effect for a month or going to the US Supreme Court to keep the ban from going into effect for a month, but that is just not the case at the moment.

    Abortion rights advocates in the state will now work on repealing the also-terrible 15-week abortion ban, as well as another, especially cruel law, banning people from having abortions due to “genetic abnormalities” — you know, things like trisomy 18, which is usually fatal within a year of birth.

    Hopefully, all of that will be cleared up soon and Arizonans will not have to base their reproductive choices on Victorian sensibilities or the whims of Republican legislators.

    what a mess

  295. says

    Eric Trump Thinks Daddy Is Bigger Star Than Bruce Springsteen

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/poor-dumb-eric-trump-thinks-daddy

    Poor Eric Trump. […] we worry that when his dad is lying and saying 100,000 PEOPLE came to see him speak on the boardwalk in New Jersey, Eric actually believes it.

    He thinks dad is more popular than Springsteen, because we guess that’s what his dad told him.

    […] he’s always getting upset about Daddy being indicted. That’s the energy he’s giving off here.

    Bless him’s heart, he’s having a rough adulthood. [video at the link]

    Eric was on the Laura Ingraham program last night when he said these idiot things comparing his dad’s rally to Bruce Springsteen concerts. We guess it was Ingraham’s turn to babysit. Mediaite captured the full babble:

    Trump said, “They wanna take my father down in New York. They wanna do it civilly, they wanna do it criminally, they wanna do it in Georgia, they want to try to do it in Washington, D.C.”

    He claimed, “They go to the farthest-left areas of this country, they have radical prosecutors all with one thing in common, they’re all funded by Soros, every single one, and they have a damn mission to go after Donald Trump because he’s winning in every single poll.” […]

    “When you see Wildwood on Saturday, where he has 100,000 people show up. 100,000 people. I mean, Bruce Springsteen can’t pull half of that amount!” he boasted.

    [Sad]

    It was a real temper tantrum, y’all.

    […] Few things:

    How many people did Bruce Springsteen play for in East Berlin in 1988? About 300,000. Do we think Springsteen couldn’t pull that number for a show in Jersey, where he is the hometown hero?

    Donald Trump has been saying for days that 100,000 people came to see him in Wildwood, New Jersey, but as is usually the case when Trump is talking about the sizes of things, he’s lying. Marjorie Taylor Greene spread the lie, because she’s stupid. It got so pathetic that Roger Stone and other MAGA lie-idiots were sharing pictures of a Rod Stewart concert in Brazil and claiming that was the Trump rally. (New Jersey is famous for its coastal mountains, just like Rio.) [LOL] [Tweet and photos at the link]

    So how many people really came to see Trump in Wildwood? It’s unclear. Even Fox News is saying it might have been more like 30,000. The town is standing by its estimate of 80,000, but deeper examination by the local news reveals that they are also counting people who weren’t exactly on the beach at the Trump rally.

    Reckon the only way to get an accurate count is to watch this 34-minute, unedited video of people leaving Trump’s speech while he’s talking because they’re so goddamned bored.

    People don’t leave Springsteen shows looking all dumpy and defeated like that.

  296. says

    Update to comment 373, excerpts from Trump’s trial in NY:

    Friday is graduation day for Barron Trump and will be off.

    And cross-examination begins.

    Blanche starts by introducing himself, and referencing an April 23 TikTok in which Michael Cohen called him a “crying little shit.”

    “Objection,” a prosecutor says.

    “Sustained,” Merchan says.

    After Blanche continued and tried to introduce a similar line of questioning around Susan Necheles, Merchan called a bench conference. They’re discussing now.

    It’s very difficult to convey how funny that was. Blanche asked Cohen if he had called him a “crying little shit” with the demeanor of someone trying to start a fight in a bar, leading to uproarious laughs in the overflow room.

    Blanche followed up by asking Cohen if he had referred to Trump as “dictator douchebag.”

    “Sounds like something I said,” Cohen replies.

    This is partly to throw Cohen off, but also to cast him as a very, very motivated witness for the jury.

    Cohen admits that prosecutors told him to stop commenting on the case. Off the bat, it paints Cohen as deeply bitter and vitriolic.

    It’s not great for Cohen, though he is mostly maintaining a calm and restrained demeanor. Blanche, however, is failing to get into a real rhythm of questioning so far. It limits the extent to which he can build a narrative out of this or really draw blood with Cohen.

    Does Cohen have “specific recollections” of his phone calls with Trump from 2016? Even when he has little recall of more recent events? [Blanche asks]

    “I remember all the phone conversations with Mr. Trump at the time, yes,” Cohen says.

    For Blanche, the value here is in portraying Cohen as uncontrollable. It would follow logically that he may have been freelancing when he paid off Stormy Daniels, believing an allegation that, Trump maintains, was untrue.

    We’re now in the world of Cohen’s merch shop, where he partakes in the great American pastime of T-shirt sales. Blanche asks Cohen about a shirt he sells that reads “Convict 45,” and about a T-shirt he wore on a TikTok last week that featured Trump behind bars in an orange jumpsuit.

    “Yes, it’s part of the merch store,” Cohen says innocently.

    Blanche had asked Cohen if he wants to see Trump convicted in this case.

    “Sure,” Cohen replies.

    A fascinating exchange just happened.

    Blanche was asking Cohen a series of questions that attempted to hit a sweet spot between portraying Cohen as unreliable — a liar — and soothing Trump’s own ego.

    Blanche asked Cohen if he had indeed read the Art of the Deal — twice? “I view it as an excellent book,” Cohen replied in a monotone.

    “You actually called it a masterpiece?” Blanche asked.

    “Yes, masterpiece,” Cohen replied.

    Blanche pushed: was it true that Cohen saw a little bit of himself in Trump? That Trump is ambitious, a dealmaker, a hard worker, and never afraid? “And innovative, yes,” Cohen replied.

    Even at that, Blanche didn’t stop. Wasn’t it true that Cohen had praised Trump in other ways? Didn’t he call him a good man in 2015?

    “Yes,” Cohen replied. “At that time, I was knee-deep into the cult.”

    It’s the afternoon of a very long day, and everyone is flagging. Even Cohen has seemed slightly bored at times, as Blanche questions him.

    Part of that goes to the line of questioning Blanche is focusing on. He’s asking Cohen about the Steele Dossier, that famous compilation of reports that asserted, among other things, that Cohen traveled to Prague during the 2016 election.

    Cohen says he’s never been there, before Blanche moves on to a lie that Cohen has long admitted he told: that he misled the Mueller investigation about the Trump Moscow project.

    “Yes, the information that I gave was not accurate,” Cohen says. “You want to call it a lie, I’ll call it a lie. I believe that it’s the same thing. The information I gave to them was inaccurate.”

    Cohen did a good job here of inoculating himself by admitting that he lied to the Mueller team during his first meeting.

    Blanche gets into a groove — and garners attention — when he departs from granular questions about various Trump investigations and returns to Cohen’s own statements.

    Just now, for example, Blanche asked Cohen if he had called Trump a “boorish cartoon misogynist” on his first podcast episode, and whether he referred to Trump as a “Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain” on another.

    “That sounds like something I would say,” Cohen deadpans in response.

    This oddly damages both of them. There’s the surface-level hit: Cohen looks foolish and unreliable having made these statements. But it’s also clear that Blanche can only get into a rhythm when he can regurgitate Cohen’s own statements back to him, potentially limiting the scope of useful questioning.

    Blanche was asking Cohen about the money he made off of his books, and, confusingly, about whether Alvin Bragg “circulated negative stories” about Cohen.

    Merchan cut it off, asking Blanche if it was a good time to stop. We’re now breaking for the day.

    Link