Comments

  1. says

    Thanks, PZ, for giving The Infinite Thread a reboot.

    For the convenience of readers, here a few links back to the previous set of comments.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/01/07/infinite-thread-xxx/comment-page-8/#comment-2217445
    Trump Says He’ll Become ‘Modern Day Nelson Mandela’ Over Right to Attack Judge’s Daughter

    https://phys.org/news/2024-04-largest-solar-storm-modern-tree.html
    Tracing the largest solar storm in modern times from tree rings in Lapland

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/01/07/infinite-thread-xxx/comment-page-8/#comment-221742
    Solar Eclipse path, and timing

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/01/07/infinite-thread-xxx/comment-page-8/#comment-2217417
    NATO chief’s final battle: Protecting Ukraine from Trump

  2. says

    Trump delivers speeches at this fundraisers. For the most part, he promises rich people that they will get richer.

    https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1776051255221133371

    Here’s what Donald Trump says when he thinks you’re not watching: He says he’s going to cut taxes for his rich friends, all while cutting Social Security for everyone else.

    @BernieSanders and I are mad as hell about it, and together, we’re going to stop him.

    Video at the link.

    DONALD TRUMP: … because you are all people that have a lot of money! I know 20 of you, and you’re rich as hell! … We’re going to give you tax cuts. We’re going to pay off our debt.

    JOE BIDEN: That’s everything you need to know about Donald Trump: When he thinks the cameras aren’t on, he tells his rich friends, quote, “We’re going to give you tax cuts.”

    BERNIE SANDERS: Can anyone in America imagine that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality—billionaires are doing phenomenally well—that he’s going to give them huge tax breaks? And then at the same time, he’s going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and programs that our kids need.

    BIDEN: This is his economic plan? That’s what he wants to do? Cutting taxes for his friends, cutting Social Security for you? That makes me mad as hell, quite frankly.

    SANDERS: The hypocrisy is just outrageous. This is what he says to his billionaire friends, not quite what he’s saying at his rallies.

    BIDEN: There are 1,000 billionaires in America, in this country. They pay an average tax rate of 8.2% [in] federal taxes. So I have a plan. We have a plan: Asking his good buddies to begin to pay their fair share.

    SANDERS: You have one candidate who wants to cut Medicare and Social Security, and one who’s going to protect it. That’s why I’m supporting Joe, and I hope you will as well.

    BIDEN: Thanks, pal.

    The Trump footage came from a December Mar-a-Lago event in support of weirdo North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson.

    Good split-screen campaign ad with Biden and Bernie buddying up for financial responsibility.

    Video also available here.

  3. says

    […] These days we’re practically marinated in disinformation, a daily deluge of fabrications and concoctions, delivered crudely or with nuanced sophistication, but lies either way. I can hear the chorus, “Meteor, are you talking about advertising?” No. Much of it certainly qualifies as disinformation, but it’s political not economic manipulation I’m talking about, though they are both accomplished from perches of marketing power. You can read hundreds of scientific papers exploring modern political disinformation from scores of angles. Here’s one.

    Over the past four decades, in an example with seriously malign consequences, some rich and powerful agents of disinformation have brought us to the precipice on climate with ominous potential for our species and millions of others, all for profit. And now that the cruder denial elements of that scheme have collided with climate reality on the ground, there’s been a shift from outright denial to an aggressive fight against the transition to a greener, decarbonized future. Disinformation will soon be made worse by robot propagandists, one of AI’s inconveniences.

    Some of the lies are old, some new, but all are designed to delay the day when fossil fuels are actually left in the ground where scientists say they must remain if we’re to have any chance of keeping at least parts of the planet humanly habitable.

    To help combat anti-green disinformation, Jacob Elkin, Matthew Eisenson and other researchers at the Climate Law blog of Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center have put together a helpful aid for when you’re arguing with somebody who’s been stuffed with what President Joe Biden might charitably call “malarkey.” It’s a data-rich report Rebutting 33 False Claims About Solar, Wind, and Electric Vehicles.

    In a prefatory note the authors write:

    Many of these false claims center on three categories of impacts commonly attributed to renewable energy development: impacts to the environment, impacts to human health, and impacts to the economy. For example, our report examines the common misconceptions that electric vehicles have a net harmful effect on climate change (they do not); that electromagnetic radiation from wind turbines poses a threat to human health (it does not); and that solar energy development negatively impacts U.S. jobs (it does not). Some of the misconceptions examined in the report, such as the notion that whale deaths stem from noise related to wind farm surveys, are entirely unsubstantiated. Others have some factual basis but are commonly repeated without necessary context: for instance, the notion that solar panels produce significant waste, without the context that fossil fuel energy generates far more.

    […] The authors designed the report so that members of the public can cultivate balanced and informed opinions on frequently-contested topics related to renewable energy and electric vehicle deployment.

    Facts. Not falsehoods. Now it’s no doubt true that many people cannot be persuaded by facts, whatever the subject. Anyone who believes vaccines, much less decarbonization, are tools of Lucifer will be hard cases. For them, it’s all about ideology and emotion.

    But open-minded people have been swamped with the same disinformation as the rest of the country. And it takes its toll. […] even people who count themselves very much in favor of the green transition wind up wondering if maybe some items in the flood of disinformation has it right. Since the transition is having and will continue to have burps, hiccups, and farts as it unfolds, giving aid, comfort, and fodder to the disinformer brigade, the potential for buying into the lies will also continue. So then must updating reports like the Sabin Center’s. Here’s just one example from it:

    False Claim #3: Solar panels generate too much waste and will overwhelm our landfills. “Solar panels pose a huge risk for overfilling the landfills.” The amount of waste that solar panels are expected to generate over the next few decades is trivial compared to the amount of waste that will be generated by fossil fuels. A study published in Nature Physics in October 2023 found that “35 years of cumulative PV module waste (2016-2050) is dwarfed by the waste generated by fossil fuel energy and othercommon waste streams.” Specifically, the study found that “if we do not decarbonize and transition to renewable energy sources, coal ash and oily sludge waste generated by fossil fuel energy would be 300-800 times and 2-5 times larger [in mass], respectively, than PV module waste.” [graph at the link]

    […] Missing from this well-researched and helpful report are the bumpersticker versions of its fact-checks. And the Tik-Tok and Facebook versions. Succinct stuff with emotion as well as facts. We desperately need people tasked with that. […]

    More at the link, including other fact checking resources and even guides to vegetable gardening.

  4. says

    Israel withdrew its military forces from southern Gaza, Reuters reports

    Biden’s warning to Netanyahu that the United States could withdraw its support has had an effect.

    JERUSALEM, April 7 (Reuters) – The Israeli military has withdrawn all ground troops from the southern Gaza Strip except for one brigade, a military spokesperson said on Sunday.

    The military did not immediately provide further details. It was unclear whether the withdrawal would delay a long-threatened incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which Israeli leaders have said is needed to eliminate Hamas.

    The withdrawal comes as Egypt prepares to host a new round of talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire and hostage release deal.

    When Turkey’s Erdoğan visits the United States on May 8, Biden must deliver the same firm message:
    – Cease the aggression against the Kurds and the Armenians.
    – Stop threatening the Greeks.
    – End the occupation of Northern Cyprus.

    […] Make it unequivocally clear to Turkey and the global community that the United States is staunchly committed to upholding an international order rooted in the principles of the rule of law. Prove to the world that our struggle in Ukraine is not in vain.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I also read that Defense Minister Gallant said, “ the troops withdrew to prepare for future operations – including in the southern Gaza city, Rafah.”
    —————————
    At the start of war, Gallant was unequivocal when he said “all Gazans are sub-human animals who will be punished accordingly” and imposed a siege and gave the go ahead for indiscriminate bombing.
    ————————–
    I don’t think Hamas gets spooked easily or cares much if its people bear the brunt.
    —————————-
    Biden’s mistake is that he fell into the trap of using old school thinking about Israel. He is doing what America always does, standing up for “our partner” but without questioning WHY we consider Israel a partner in the first place.

    Beyond the justified urge to protect Jews after the Holocaust, America saw Israel as a stabilizing force in the region we could leverage.

    Biden’s miscalculation is in not seeing just how destabilizing Netanyahu has been.
    —————————-
    We aren’t a superpower so long as the Republicans in Congress allow the right wing radicals to control the Speaker and majority of Republican votes. If we can’t fund the government or pass aid bills we can’t effectively project military strength.
    ——————————–
    It’s time to realize the Republican party is now pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of Putin’s Russia.
    ———————————
    I think Benny Gantz calling for an early election had a much bigger impact than anything Biden did. If there is an election Netanyahu will likely lose, and if he loses he will likely go to prison.
    ———————————
    Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s top rival, calls for early elections after protests in Israel
    Gantz says government ‘must set a consensual date for September’ while Netanyahu’s popularity continues to decline amid the ongoing war in Gaza

  5. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lynna xxxp8 #271:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia argued that the quake and next week’s eclipse are divine messages calling in Americans “to repent.”

    She wouldn’t have liked the ritual for omenous eclipses.

    Wikipedia – Substitute king ritual

    an ancient Mesopotamian religious rite […] to safeguard the king from danger perceived to come from evil omens [foretelling royal death. Certain lunar & solar eclipses.]

    During the course of the ritual the king symbolically abdicates his throne and a substitute is placed there in his stead for a period of up to 100 days. Though he possessed no real power, the substitute king would live and hold court at the palace and enjoy the wealth and prestige of the king. Simultaneously the real king would go into hiding, accessible only to his closest advisors. […] At the end of this time the substitute is put to death and the real king, having successfully transferred his doomed fate onto the scapegoat, returns to his throne.
    […]
    The obscured area of the moon or sun’s disc was of primary importance in determining the identity of the endangered king and country. […] Generally [the substitute] was a condemned criminal, a prisoner of war, a political adversary, or a menial laborer. […] Often when writing letters to the king, officials would symbolically declare their willingness to serve as substitute
    […]
    Esarhaddon had it performed seven times during his reign. If each of these rituals extended to its full term of one hundred days, this would mean that Esarhaddon spent almost one-fifth of his time during those years in hiding […] The frequency […] along with the high level of influence possessed by scholars in his inner circle seems to suggest that the substitute king ritual was utilized by those scholars as a means by which to control the king’s movement and limit access to him.

  6. says

    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain @6, thanks for that additional information. That Mesopotamian tradition was a really big indulgence in deadly politics.

    In other news, different, but still deadly politics: Pregnancies in Florida and other Southern states just got scarier

    The news out of Florida this week might have seemed positive at first glance: Yes, the state’s ultraconservative Supreme Court gave the green light on allowing the state’s voters to decide whether the right to abortion should be enshrined in the Florida Constitution. Democrats were heartened by this development, as statewide referenda on the issue have (to date) passed overwhelmingly, even in Republican-dominated states such as Kansas and Ohio.

    […] But that piece of relatively good news was overshadowed by what accompanied it. The same Florida court allowed the six-week abortion ban previously passed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature to go into effect next month. This law would supplant the state’s current 15-week threshold with a far harsher deadline, disallowing the termination of almost any pregnancy before many people are even aware they are pregnant.

    As Caroline Kitchener, writing for The Washington Post reports, “The new law will affect more women seeking abortions in the first trimester than any other single abortion ban to date, upending an already precarious new landscape for abortion access that has developed in the wake of the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.” Worse, six of the seven justices on the court strongly implied they favored granting “personhood rights” to unborn fetuses, which would likely foreclose any efforts in Florida to legalize abortion in the future.

    But the impact of this radically punitive Florida law reverberates far beyond the state’s geographic boundaries.

    As Kitchener points out, many people in states adjacent to or near Florida (such as Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia) who wanted or needed abortions had regarded Florida as a haven of sorts, with fewer restrictions (such as mandatory waiting periods) and allowance of the procedure later in pregnancy. As of May 1, that will no longer be the case. As Kitchener observes, in its decision to uphold Florida’s new law, “[T]he court has cut off nearly all abortion access across the South, where all other states have either implemented similar bans or outlawed abortion entirely since Roe v. Wade was overturned.”

    The reality is that short of traveling vast distances to Virginia or North Carolina (an option that’s not feasible for many), there is only one safe recourse now available to many of those who live in these Southern states and wish to terminate their pregnancies. That recourse is the use of abortion-inducing drugs such as mifepristone, which can still be obtained through the mail.

    But even that option would be eliminated should Donald Trump succeed in his bid to regain the presidency. With a single executive order, Trump could effectively halt the distribution of mifepristone and any other medicine capable of inducing an abortion. That is exactly what conservative organizations such as the Heritage Foundation have urged Trump to do should he regain the presidency in 2024, and every indication suggests that is exactly what he will do.

    The legal justification for such an action by Trump is the Comstock Act, “an 1873 federal law that makes it a felony to mail any “article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion,” or even any printed advice on how or where to get an abortion or contraception.

    As noted this week by The Washington Post’s editorial board, the forced-birth lobby is pushing hard for the enforcement of Comstock, making it the central, overarching policy goal for any renewed Trump administration.

    The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, a policy blueprint for a second Donald Trump term to which more than 100 conservative groups contributed, says a Trump Justice Department should “announce its intent to enforce federal law against providers and distributors of such [abortion] pills.” Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas solicitor general who devised that state’s law encouraging civil lawsuits against abortion providers, has said: “We don’t need a federal ban when we have Comstock.”

    […] As The Washington Post’s editorial board has noted, Republicans in the House and Senate have already declared their enthusiastic support for the enforcement of Comstock’s criminal penalties against companies that distribute or deliver mifepristone:

    Last month, 26 Republican senators and 199 GOP members of the House signed a friend of the court brief in the mifepristone case accusing the FDA of “blatant disregard” for the Comstock Act. “These provisions have been federal policy for more than a century,” they wrote. Nine GOP senators signed letters last year to CVS and Walgreens as the pharmacy chains prepared to sell mifepristone, warning that the Comstock Act has a five-year statute of limitations — so nothing would stop the next president’s Justice Department from charging companies or individuals with distributing abortion pills.

    […] The Biden administration has issued guidance to the DOJ currently protecting the distribution and sale of mifepristone, but as the Post editorial notes, that guidance can be easily reversed by a new administration.

    […] For her article examining the real-life consequences of Florida’s laws, Kitchener recounts the experience of Anya Cook […] Cook’s water broke just prior to her 16th week of pregnancy. As Kitchener explained, she was diagnosed in a Florida ER with previability preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes, or PPROM. Despite the fact that her fetus was not viable and she faced life-threatening risks, she was sent home because under Florida’s then-15-week prohibition, the Coral Springs hospital was afraid to treat her. She hemorrhaged on the floor of a hair salon less than 24 hours later. […]

    An estimated 84,000 people sought abortion care in Florida last year, according to state-reported data. As Kitchener emphasizes in her Post article, even if Floridians manage to take back their reproductive rights in the November 2024 referendum (a vote of 60% is the threshold required), that is no solace to the thousands of women and others in the state who may want or need to terminate an unwanted pregnancy between May 1, 2024, and January 2025, the earliest such an amendment could be added to the state’s constitution. […] the question now is no longer where Alabama’s citizens will go, but “where are Floridians going to go—because they have no place to go.” […]

  7. says

    Suspect arrested for arson at Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Vermont office

    A man was arrested Sunday on a federal arson charge related to the fire started Friday at the Vermont office of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont announced Sunday.

    Shant Soghomonian, also known as Michael Soghomonian, was arrested Sunday after allegedly using fire to damage the building at One Church Street in Burlington, Vt. The building is used in interstate commerce, requiring the alleged crime to be prosecuted at the federal level.

    […] No injuries were reported, but Sanders’s office was occupied by “multiple employees” at the time of the incident, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

    Security cameras captured Soghomonian spraying liquid near the outer door of Sanders’s office on the third floor and then “lighting the area with a handheld lighter,” according to court records.

    “A blaze quickly began while Soghomonian departed via a staircase. The resulting fire damaged the outside of the office door and surrounding areas, and the building sprinklers discharged on multiple floors,” the DOJ said in a press release, citing court records.

    If convicted, the suspect could face a maximum possible penalty of 5-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to DOJ. […]

  8. says

    Update on Russian propaganda:

    House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) stressed the expansive reach of Russian propaganda and said Sunday it has even presented itself on the floor of the U.S. Congress.

    In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, Turner said he agreed with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who singled out conservative news outlets and said, “Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.”

    “Oh, it’s absolutely true,” Turner told Tapper about McCaul’s remarks. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor.”

    “I mean, there are members of Congress today, who still incorrectly say that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine is over NATO, which of course it is not,” Turner said. “[Russian President] Vladimir Putin having made it very clear, both publicly and to his own population, that his view is that this is a conflict of a much broader claim of Russia, to Eastern Europe, and including claiming all of Ukraine territory as Russia’s.”

    Turner said the propaganda has made it increasingly more difficult to pass Ukraine aid and to present a clear picture of a battle between democracy and authoritarianism.

    “Now, to the extent that this propaganda takes hold, it makes it more difficult for us to really see this as an authoritarian versus democracy battle, which is what it is. President Xi [Jinping] of China, Vladimir Putin himself have identified it as such,” Turner said.

    “We need to stand up for democracy. We need to make certain that we know that authoritarian regimes never stop when they start an aggression. Ukraine needs our help and assistance now and this is a very critical time for the U.S. Congress to step up and provide that aid,” Turner continued.

    Link

  9. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    State Republicans killed an Indiana city’s lawsuit to stop illegal gun sales. Why?

    Almost 25 years after suing the firearms industry for failing to prevent illegal gun sales, the northwestern Indiana city of Gary won a critical victory last fall when a judge ordered gun manufacturers to hand over years of production and sales records.
    […]
    Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature moved quickly to approve the new law this year, stipulating that only the state’s attorney general [not the majority-black Democratic city] can bring civil action against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, and made it retroactive to Aug. 27, 1999, three days before Gary filed its lawsuit.
    […]
    Days after the governor signed the law, gun manufacturers asked the court to end Gary’s suit. The judge stayed the discovery Tuesday until the conflict with the new law is resolved. A status conference is scheduled for May 8.
    […]
    Lobbying records first reported by ProPublica and The Indianapolis Star show [a foundation run by several of the sued manufacturers] spent tens of thousands of dollars more on lobbying in Indiana last year than in the previous three years.

  10. says

    The government of Canada has pulled plenty of shady shit over the years. Recent examples include selling doom buggies to Saudi Arabia, bailing out the dying American-owned Postmedia newspaper chain, abandoning Afghan allies to the tender mercies of the Taliban, all the Hockey Canada hullabaloo, and showering awards on that Anne Murray too.

    (I kid with that last one. My mother went to college with her and says she was perfectly nice. The pride of Springhill, Nova Scotia, was even a good sport about the whole South Park bit although she chose to go golfing over the offer to perform “Blame Canada” at the Oscars.)

    The Man making money off the InfoWars guy’s new book is a strange development though, even by today’s Twilight Zone standards.

    Public Services and Procurement Canada are the people in charge of auctioning off government surplus and are like Amazon in the sense they sell pretty much everything under the sun. Boats, jewelry, snow blowers, office furniture, you name it. No guns and ammo though, this is still Canada.

    Last Thursday they washed their hands of 47 hardcover copies of Alex Jones’s manifesto The Great Reset and the War for the World for just $270 in Canuckistan funny money, $70 more than the opening bid for 50 pounds of books that would’ve set you back more than a grand if purchased via Jeff Bezos’s Emporium of Everything.

    […] I haven’t read it myself but the publisher assures it’s a must-read analysis of “the global elite’s international conspiracy to enslave humanity and all life on the planet.” [LOL, eyeballs aplenty] Which may or may not involve Jewish space lasers, Barack Hussein Obama, lizard people, and the ghost of Hugo Chavez.

    […] GCSurplus, the online clearing house for discarded government goodies, said “viewing is highly recommended” although this isn’t an editorial plug but rather the standard advice for most of the crap they’re looking to offload, and you would’ve needed to be in the city of Edmonton to check the books out before the bidding closed.

    They also posted a pic to help potential shoppers elsewhere judge the book by its back cover, and the peer reviews come from a veritable Who’s Who of Who Gives a Fuck? including Roger Stone, Tucker Carlson, and Steve Bannon. The only legible blurb comes from Joe Rogan in bigger font at the top, where he hilariously damns the conspiracy and boner-pills salesman with faint praise: “Alex is right about far more than he is wrong about… He’s the most misunderstood guy on the planet.” [LOL]

    […] “Alex isn’t ALWAYS wrong, but when he is, hoo boy…”

    There’s even a shout-out from Donald J. Trump that doesn’t even try to pretend he actually read the weighty tome. The brief “[Alex Jones’s] reputation is amazing” pull quote comes from an early campaign trail appearance on InfoWars where he reassured the disgraced host he would be every bit as evil as promised. […]

    The website doesn’t explain how so many of the libri non grata came into its possession, simply stating they were “forfeited to the Crown.” (The Crown is Canadianese for the government and not to be confused with the Netflix series about the poor Windsor family.) Goods that don’t come directly from the government itself are typically confiscated in criminal investigations or at the border.

    They say the idea is to keep unwanted junk out of landfills although you’d think recycling would be an option, especially since Justin Trudeau may soon lose his job over an unpopular new carbon tax meant to pay lip service to the climate crisis that now lights half of Western Canada on fire each year.

    […] This post would admittedly be funnier if they’d been selling hundreds of copies instead of just a few dozen […] Which raises the question of how exactly they got their hands on the stack in the first place.

    Are poisonous books now part and parcel with intercepted fentanyl shipments? […]

    my money is on them being seized during the arrest of Freedom Convoy losers who blockaded the Coutts border crossing with Montana a couple of years ago and allegedly plotted to murder some cops. Seems the sort of thing they might’ve stockpiled as a good investment.

    Two hundred and seventy bucks obviously isn’t a lot of cash. With the exchange rate and shipping, that’ll barely buy you three copies of the Holy Bible for Dummies™ that Dear Leader has started hawking as his latest grift. Although the money would’ve been much better spent as a donation to the families of Sandy Hook victims still waiting on the millions of dollars a judge fined Mr. Jones for traumatizing.

    I just hope the lucky winner wasn’t Pierre Poilievre expensing it to his account.

    Jones happened to give the Conservative leader his endorsement to be the country’s next prime minster on Elon Musk’s money-incinerator the same day the books went out the door. […]

    The timing is obviously a fluke but, as a guy who died 30 years ago this week said, “just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.”

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/canadian-government-gets-into-the

  11. says

    […] Trump’s 2017 tax cut reduced income tax rates for the vast majority of Americans, including top earners and most lower-income workers. Many of its provisions are set to expire in 2025, including a break for owners of so-called pass-through businesses — entities that are not taxed because the profits flow through to the owners, who are individually taxed — that are favored by hedge funds, private equity partnerships and privately held companies. The nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that extending the pass-through deduction would cost the government $700 billion in lost revenue over a decade.

    Link

  12. says

    Will this end up being another lawsuit against Trump?

    Michael Popok at MeidasTouch is a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer. He knows what he is talking about. He argues that there are dozens of lawyers in Delaware who are right now searching for anyone who lost money on Truth Social stock, because there is a class action lawsuit coming that just writes itself. [video at the link]

    The rules for being an officer and/or a stockholder in a publicly traded company are very different than the rules for a family-owned business. Trump can brag and lie all he wants about Trump Inc because only his family owns an interest in the company. But when you are operating a publicly traded company, making false statements to artificially keep a stock price high, despite contradictory evidence in audited financial statements, is known on Wall Street as a pump-and-dump scheme. Those false statement can be a cause for fines and penalties from the SEC. But even more importantly, those false statements can be used by private shareholders who may have lost money on the stock as a result.

    Even a shareholder who owns one share, and may have only lost twelve dollars in the past week, has a right to sue the blathering idiot who claims that Truth Social is a thriving enterprise, when the SEC filings show that it is flailing and likely to fail. Then that lawsuit can be expanded to include the class of all stockholders who also lost money. There are literally billions of dollars at stake.

    Popok uses Trump’s recent social media posts bragging about how great Truth Social is and how valuable its stock shares are as a straightforward example of pumping and dumping. Even if the SEC might be reluctant to fine a Presidential candidate, financial legal specialists will have no such qualms. The lawyers are already frothing at the mouth and fighting for their place at the trough.

    Link

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Being a fake celebrity is so much easier than being a fake businessman or a fake politician.

    The scrutiny and the Laws are so much more stringent for someone who wants to set public policy, or control public investments, that affects millions of people and investors.
    —————————-
    At this point it’s gone kind of fractal — crimes within crimes within crimes.
    ———————
    I think the part where he said that Truth had no debts, but paid I believe $57 million in interest payments last year, may be the nail in the coffin.
    —————————–
    There was some bad reporting that Tr*mp is safe from DJT lawsuits, because he’s neither an officer nor a board member (anymore). But he is clearly an insider, according to the SEC, because he owns more than a 10% beneficial share. So, he should be held to account as an insider, for lying about the company’s stock. Popok is correct. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    Boeing plane engine cover falls off prompting investigation

    Airline regulators in the US have begun an investigation after an engine cowling on a Boeing 737-800 fell off during take-off and struck a wing flap.

    The Southwest Airlines flight returned safely to Denver International airport at about 08:15 local time (15:15 GMT) after originally departing to Houston.

    The aircraft had 135 passengers and six crew members on board.

    The incident comes as Boeing has been in the spotlight in recent times over manufacturing and safety concerns.

    Southwest Airlines said its maintenance teams would review the Boeing 737-800 after its cowling, which covers the plane’s engine, fell off. The airline confirmed it was responsible for maintenance of such parts.

    “We apologise for the inconvenience of their delay, but place our highest priority on ultimate safety for our customers and employees,” a statement said.

    The plane was manufactured in 2015 according to regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, and the 737-800 is an earlier generation of the 737 from the latest Max model…

    The plane is 9 years old. This one is probably on the airline maintenance crews, not Boeing. But once a meme gets started…

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    @6: @Lynna xxxp8 #271:
    Marjorie Taylor Greene Responds to Backlash Over Comments About Northeast Earthquake


    Greene responded to the online backlash on Sunday, posting on X: “Many have mocked and scoffed at this post and even put community notes.” She quoted a passage from the Bible where Jesus said to a crowd: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the Earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”

    “Yes, eclipses are predictable and earthquakes happen and we know when comets are passing by, however God created all of these things and uses them to be signs for those of us who believe,” Greene wrote…

    Well that certainly convinces me she is not insane.
    /s

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    GOP Reps. Mike Turner and Mike McCaul say Russian propaganda is being repeated by Republicans

    GOP Rep. Mike Turner said Sunday that Russian propaganda has taken hold among some of his House Republican colleagues and is even “being uttered on the House floor.”

    “We see directly coming from Russia … communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” Turner, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “There are members of Congress today who still incorrectly say that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine is over NATO, which of course it is not,” he added.

    Turner’s office did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for clarification about which members of Congress he was referring to.

    His comments come on the heels of remarks House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul made this week about how Russian propaganda has taken root among the GOP.

    McCaul, a Texas Republican, told Puck News that he thinks “Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.” …

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    A marquee GOP Senate recruit and ex-Navy SEAL admits he lied about how he received a gunshot wound

    Montana Senate candidate Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and one of GOP’s star recruits of the 2024 election cycle, admitted to The Washington Post that he lied to a National Park Service ranger about being shot during a 2015 incident at the state’s Glacier National Park.

    The admission comes after Sheehy, a wealthy aerospace executive who’s aiming to take on three-term Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, had previously given inconsistent statements about how he was shot in his right arm.

    In October 2015, Sheehy informed a ranger that he had shot himself in the right arm after his Colt .45 revolver fell to the ground and discharged, according to records filed in the US District Court for the District of Montana.

    According to the Post, a description of the incident contained within a federal citation noted that the gunshot left a bullet in Sheehy’s right arm. The written details of the citation, which was issued by the ranger, were based on Sheehy’s recounting of the incident.

    Sheehy ended up paying a $525 fine over his gun discharging in a national park, a decision that at the time was based on his report to the ranger.

    When asked by the Post about the ranger’s citation, Sheehy said he fabricated the story about the gun discharging to shield himself and his former platoon members from being probed over a gunshot wound that he said he received while in Afghanistan in 2012.

    Sheehy told the newspaper that he fell and injured himself during a 2015 hike at Glacier National Park, which prompted a hospital visit. While at the hospital, he informed the staff that there was a bullet lodged in his arm, which led to him being questioned by the ranger.

    “I guess the only thing I’m guilty of is admitting to doing something I never did,” Sheehy told the Post, affirming that his gun never went off at the national park…

    Weird. He actually paid the fine rather than admit a war wound?

  17. Reginald Selkirk says

    2 women who say abortion restrictions put them in medical peril feel compelled to campaign for Biden

    A Texas woman who went into premature labor, developed sepsis and nearly died and a Louisiana woman who said restrictive abortion laws prevented her from getting medical help for a miscarriage are now campaigning for President Joe Biden as the Democrat highlights how women’s health is being affected by the overturning of federal abortion protections.

    Amanda Zurawski and Kaitlyn Joshua will travel to North Carolina and Wisconsin over the next two weeks to meet with doctors, local officials and voters. The Biden campaign sees their stories as potent firsthand accounts of the growing medical peril for many women as abortion restrictions pushed by Republicans complicate health care…

  18. Reginald Selkirk says

    House Democrats introduce bill to rename Miami federal prison after Trump

    After House Republicans introduced legislation to rename an airport outside of Washington, D.C., after former President Donald Trump, a group of House Democrats are now proposing a bill to rename a federal prison in Miami after Trump.

    The legislation, which would rename the Miami Federal Correctional Institution in Florida as the “Donald J. Trump Federal Correctional Institution,” was officially filed on Wednesday, April 3…

  19. birgerjohansson says

    You know, I really should share stuff that happens in Swedish politics, but our boring politicians lack the flair for the dramatic you see in Britain and USA. In my defence, the other Scandinavian countries are the same.
    -I suspect the worst grifters emigrated to you and brought the family tradition with them. Lots of awful US politicians and preachers with Scandinavian names.
    (But Ken Ham is not our fault)

    PS if you live in Florida there is a cult that thinks Jesus will arrive there on April 14th. Get your best suit cleaned up and go to the Orlando Ramada hotel.

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    This new ‘blended-wing’ plane looks like a military stealth bomber and just got the green light to fly after decades of development

    … But the latest example of these new plane types is “Pathfinder” — a stealth bomber-looking jet designed by the California-based aerospace company JetZero.

    The twinjet features a unique “blended-wing body,” or BWB, a design where the wing and fuselage are combined into one.

    After years of development, JetZero has built a 1:8 demonstrator, and the Federal Aviation Administration just gave the funky-shaped craft the green light to fly, CNN reported on Thursday…

    So they got permission to start testing on a 1/8 scale model? Not as exciting as the headline led me to believe.

  21. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohansson @ #23…
    I could use some boring in US politics for a while. Maybe we can get a decade or so of it after this November. As for other Scandinavian countries… I keep an eye on a couple of Icelandic news sites (I’m a bit of volcano junkie and things have been….interesting…there for a the last few years). Politics crops up, of course. I note that the PM of Iceland, Katrinn Jacobsdottir, has just stepped down in order to run for president. If she wins, she won’t be be the first woman to hold the office.

  22. Reginald Selkirk says

    @Christianity Today:
    New Atheism Finally Learns How to Destroy Christianity

    Richard Dawkins’s cultural “Christianity” could hollow out our faith far more efficiently than straightforward attacks…

    I think they should look within, and see what people like Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Green, and all the Evangelical mega-pastors are doing to Christianity. There’s not much left to destroy.

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    Reginald Selkirk @ # 20: He actually paid the fine rather than admit a war wound?

    And neither the hospital nor the park ranger noticed any difference between a same-day and a >2 year-old wound?

    It’s times like this that I miss wzrd1!

  24. Reginald Selkirk says

    Žižek: “God is stupid, indifferent, and evil”

    Slavoj Žižek | Slavoj Žižek is a Hegelian philosopher, a Lacanian psychoanalyst, and a Communist. He is the author of Christian Atheism: How to Be a Real Materialist.
    In this extract from Slavoj Žižek’s new book, Christian Atheism: How to Be a Real Materialist, Žižek argues that the true formula of atheism requires destroying the very fiction of god from within rather than merely denying his existence.

    Slavoj Žižek will be debating Peter Singer and Nancy Sherman at the upcoming HowTheLightGetsIn Festival in Hay, Wales, on May 24th-27th, 2024. Check out the incredible line-up of speakers and festival programme here.

    What one should advocate is thus the materialist procedure of the immanent self-undermining of a religious edifice – the claim that god is evil or stupid is not only much more unsettling than Peter Singer’s claim that ordinary people are evil, it is also much more unsettling than the claim that there is no god since it destroys from within the very notion of divinity…

  25. says

    Reginald Selkirk @17:
    Like the old joke about Harleys, dragging a magnet on a string behind them to collect the parts that keep falling off.

    Pierce R. Butler @28:
    Seems like something fishy going on.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    Ice-T:
    “I can’t believe people are comparing Trump to Satan.
    Yes, he is evil, but he is certainly not as evil as Trump.”

  27. Ada Christine says

    @26 whheydt

    she’s still rather popular despite her party’s precipitous decline in approval. there’s a decent chance she’ll be the next president, but she’s got comedian Jón Gnarr and political scientist Baldur Þórhallsson to go up against. Baldur has a bit of a grassroots movement behind him. Jón Gnarr has his celebrity status. it’ll be an interesting race for sure.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    Head of Israeli cyber spy unit exposed … by his own privacy mistake

    Protecting your privacy online is hard. So hard, in fact, that even a top Israeli spy who managed to stay incognito for 20 years has found himself exposed after one basic error.

    The spy is named Yossi Sariel allegedly heads Israel’s Unit 8200 – a team of crack infosec experts comparable to the USA’s National Security Agency or the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters. Now he’s been confirmed as the author of a 2021 book titled “The Human Machine Team” about the intelligence benefits of pairing human agents with advanced AI.

    Sariel – who wrote the book under the oh-so-anonymous pen name “Brigadier General YS” – made a crucial mistake after an investigation by The Guardian which found an electronic copy of Sariel’s book available on Amazon “included an anonymous email that can easily be traced to Sariel’s name and Google account.” …

  29. StevoR says

    Not sure if today or tomorrow – at least for me – suspect its going to be tomorrow technically since there’s only an hour or so left of today here in South Oz. But anyhow, space dot com on the North American solar eclipse taking place soon :

    https://www.space.com/total-solar-eclipse-2024-occurs-today

    Plus we have Aussie ABC news here :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-08/north-america-total-solar-eclipse-explainer/103657562

    As well as PBS Newshour too :

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/how-to-watch-the-2024-total-solar-eclipse

    Wishing of y’all who can see it clear skies and enjoy!

  30. says

    Followup to comments 20 and 28. Veterans groups are now questioning Sheehy’s story.

    Republican Senate hopeful Tim Sheehy has a bullet stuck in his right forearm. Knowing when and how he was shot, however, is proving to be a little tricky.

    As a rule, when politicians tell a story with evolving details, it suggests that that something is amiss. In Montana, for example, Senate hopeful Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL, has told voters that he has a bullet stuck in his right forearm “from Afghanistan.”

    It’s the sort of thing that signals to the public that the Republican wants to be seen as tough, while simultaneously reminding people about his military service. There is, however, some question as to how, exactly, the candidate got shot. The Washington Post reported on “several inconsistent accounts Sheehy has shared.”

    [snipped details of Glacier National Park lie]

    Sheehy told the Post, however, that he lied to the National Park Service ranger and that he was actually shot while serving in Afghanistan. The article added, “He said he made up the story about the gun going off to protect himself and his former platoonmates from facing a potential military investigation into an old bullet wound that he said he got in Afghanistan in 2012. He said he did not know for certain whether the wound was the result of friendly fire or from enemy ammunition, and said he never reported the incident to his superiors.”

    In case this weren’t quite enough, the Post went on to report, “Sheehy’s latest account of his arm wound is one of several differing descriptions he has given of being shot while deployed. In his 2023 memoir ‘Mudslingers,’ he wrote in one passage that he received multiple bullet wounds in Afghanistan. In another, he wrote that his body was hit by a bullet just once. In the book, he also offers varying accounts of how he was shot.”

    […] Vote Vets, a progressive veterans group, unveiled a new digital ad this morning, shining a light on the GOP candidate’s story and its evolving details. [Vote Vets video at the link]

    It’s time he releases his military records and medical records to put this issue to bed,” said Jon Soltz, chairman of Vote Vets. “Montanans might not be able to trust Sheehy, but they can trust our military and medical professionals for the truth.”

    Given that the Senate majority might very well rest on what happens in Montana in the fall, I don’t imagine we’ve heard the last of this one.

    Looks like Trump endorsed Sheehy, or so Sheehy claims.

  31. says

    Donald Trump said he’d come up with an abortion position that would make “both sides” happy. He instead released a new statement that made no one happy.

    It’s been nearly seven months since Donald Trump appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and made some strange comments about abortion rights. Of particular interest, the former president boasted that he intended to make “both sides“ happy with a compromise solution he didn’t identify.

    “We’re going to agree to a number of weeks or months or however you want to define it,” the Republican told Kristen Welker. “And both sides are going to come together and both sides — both sides, and this is a big statement — both sides will come together. And for the first time in 52 years, you’ll have an issue that we can put behind us.” [Trump’s braggadocio sets my teeth on edge. So much bombast. So much hot air. Reveals that he knows fuck all.]

    […] Those wondering what this miraculous compromise might entail have been left wondering. Trump expressed interest in a national abortion ban, voicing possible support for imposing government restrictions at either the 15-week or 16-week point. When Fox News recently asked Trump whether he believes a national abortion ban “could be politically acceptable,” the GOP candidate replied, “So, we’re gonna find out.” Trump added, “Pretty soon, I’m gonna be making a decision.”

    Evidently, he’s made a decision. NBC News reported:

    Former President Donald Trump said Monday that abortion laws should be left to the states, many of which have enacted new restrictions since he appointed Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn federal protections for the procedure.

    Specifically, Trump said states “will determine” whether or not to impose abortion bans.

    Roughly nine hours before releasing his four-and-a-half-minute video to his social media platform, Trump sent a pretty clear signal to his base that he wouldn’t come right out and endorse a new national abortion ban to be imposed at the federal level. “We must use common sense in realizing that we have an obligation to the salvation of our Nation … TO WIN ELECTIONS,” Trump wrote last night.

    It was an unsubtle way of saying, “I have to at least try to appear reasonable on the issue or I’m likely to lose.”

    The right, which wants a federal ban, wasn’t impressed: Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a leading opponent of abortion rights, issued a written statement saying the organization is “deeply disappointed“ with the Republican’s latest position.

    Proponents of reproductive rights, meanwhile, also found plenty to object to in Trump’s video. Trump celebrated the demise of Roe v. Wade, which put the former president on the opposite side of a majority of Americans. He asserted that there was a broad consensus that Roe had to be overturned, which is plainly false. He even claimed that Democrats wanted babies “executed after birth,” which is insane.

    Just as importantly, the presumptive GOP nominee left all kinds of relevant questions unanswered.

    Would Trump sign a federal ban if congressional Republicans passed one?

    Would Trump veto federal protections for IVF if congressional Democrats passed one?

    Would Trump use the Comstock Act to ban medication abortions?

    Will Trump vote to leave Florida’s six-week abortion ban intact?

    Does Trump intend to keep stacking the federal courts with opponents of reproductive rights?

    What are Trump’s expectations for officials throughout his prospective administration — from the FDA to the Justice Department — in pursuing new restrictions on reproductive care?

    None of these questions was answered in this morning’s video, leaving deliberate uncertainty about the details of the Republican’s plans.

    For the first time in decades, has the former president come up with a vision in which Americans can put the abortion fight “behind us”? Not even close.

    This looks like a political stumble by Trump. Even his “must get elected” approach didn’t play well. He damaged his chances of getting elected … which is good news for Democrats.

    Trump certainly gave Democrats lots of fodder for campaign ads.

    Trump failed to put the issue behind him. I don’t think he (or his team) knows how to really work on issues.

  32. says

    Followup to comment 39.

    Josh Marshall:

    […] The only real question here is whether or to what degree politicians or reporters will allow what is really a non-statement to let Trump sidestep this issue. The point of this statement is to get reporters to say “But Trump actually says …” whenever Democrats say that abortion is on the ballot in November or that Trump will pass a national abortion ban. Again, he’s not saying anywhere that he won’t sign a national abortion ban.

    As an additional bonus, Trump signaled last night that his goal is simply to win the election and then he’ll do whatever he needs to once elected. [screen grab of Trump post at the link]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-abortion-yada

  33. says

    Trump reveals his true abortion position: Lying to win elections

    Donald Trump finally has an official position on abortion, and his official position is exactly the kind of lying, incoherent, inconsistent, nonsensical ridiculousness you’d expect from him.

    Trump released a nearly five-minute video Monday, in which he profusely praises himself for ending Roe v. Wade, declaring that overturning the 50-year constitutional right was something “that all legal scholars—both sides—wanted, and, in fact, demanded.”

    Utter nonsense? Of course. But Trump never lets anything as inconvenient as the truth get in the way of his rambling, semi-scripted videos. […]

    More at the link.

  34. says

    The saga of Trump attorney John Eastman somehow becomes even more absurd

    The sorry saga of John Eastman Esq., one of Donald Trump’s many former attorneys, is swiftly transitioning from “cautionary tale” into a decidedly more absurd phase. Eastman is currently navigating through life under a suspended law license—a fact that, at least theoretically, makes him ineligible to dazzle clients and judges with his esteemed legal acumen.

    His professional infirmity owes itself to a judge’s decision last week to recommend that Eastman be disbarred from the practice of law in the state of California. Eastman is appealing that ruling to the California Supreme Court, but in the meantime, his license to practice law is forfeit, per the judge’s order. The reasons for that recommendation were meticulously detailed in a 128-page ruling by Judge Yvette Roland, who is responsible for overseeing the state bar’s disciplinary proceedings relating to Eastman’s alleged professional misconduct.

    [snipped details of misconduct, including Eastman’s part in the attempts to keep Trump in office after Trump lost.]

    So this week, [Eastman] petitioned the California court to lift his suspension pending appellate review of the judge’s decision. This is supposedly to allow him to make money both to defend against the current charges leveled against him, and to continue his representations of current clients, including Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, in matters relating to the cancellation by municipalities of 2021 political rallies that the Republican representatives had planned to hold in the Golden State.

    Eastman is essentially arguing that he should be permitted to practice law to pay the cost of defending himself against the alleged crimes and professional malfeasance which prompted the court’s recommendation for his disbarment in the first place. It’s not clear that Eastman perceives the staggering irony in this request, but it’s highly unlikely that the California court charged with ruling on Eastman’s motion will miss it. […]

    Eastman is in such bad financial straits is because he’s facing trial for giving not just bad but potentially seditionist and criminal legal advice.

    […] the entire thrust of Roland’s decision is premised on Eastman’s alleged moral turpitude in committing the very acts for which he now finds himself in legal and professional jeopardy. That moral turpitude stands as judged until it is confirmed or overruled. In the interim, Eastman’s an adjudicated threat to the profession and the public.

    […] Further, Roland wrote, “This lack of remorse and accountability presents a significant risk that Eastman may engage in further unethical conduct compounding the threat to the public.”

    […] Eastman’s apparent inability to comprehend the magnitude and reality of his alleged wrongdoing is emblematic of the threat that this MAGA election denialism represents to American institutions. […]

    Matt Gaetz:

    “I write today to urge you to enable him to continue to represent me in that matter, so as not to compound one First Amendment violation with another. I have a right to the counsel of my choice, and I know there is no other competent, qualified attorney whom I can trust in this matter,” Gaetz wrote in a letter to the State Bar of California.

    JFC

  35. KG says

    LKynna, OM@42,

    Eastman’s argument is eerily reminiscent of the proverbial man who murders both parents then pleads for leniency on the grounds that he’s an orphan!

  36. KG says

    This looks like a political stumble by Trump. Even his “must get elected” approach didn’t play well. He damaged his chances of getting elected … which is good news for Democrats.

    Trump certainly gave Democrats lots of fodder for campaign ads.

    Trump failed to put the issue behind him. I don’t think he (or his team) knows how to really work on issues. Lynna, OM@39, quoting MSNBC

    Actually, any time Trump says anything about abortion is good news for Democrats. Changing someone’s mind on an issue is difficult. Mostly, what determines elections is salience – what the voters are thinking about. Politicians increase an issue’s salience by talking about it.

  37. tomh says

    NYT:
    Trump to Sue Judge in Last-Ditch Attempt to Avert Manhattan Trial
    By Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum / April 8, 2024

    Donald J. Trump, a week away from standing trial in Manhattan on criminal charges that he falsified records to cover up a sex scandal, has indicated he plans to file a lawsuit against the judge overseeing the case.

    The lawsuit was not immediately made public, but court records showed on Monday that Mr. Trump was filing an action against the judge, Juan M. Merchan, in an 11th-hour bid to delay the case. An online court docket where Mr. Trump is filing the action showed that the related paperwork was sealed.

    Two people with knowledge of the matter said that Mr. Trump’s lawyers on Monday planned to file the action calling on an appeals court to delay the trial and to challenge a gag order that Justice Merchan recently imposed on the former president. The order prevents Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and the judge’s own family.

    Mr. Trump’s unorthodox move — essentially an appeal in the form of a lawsuit — is unlikely to succeed, particularly so close to trial.

    And the appeals court might act fast to reject it. A single appeals court judge will most likely issue a preliminary ruling on Monday, setting up a full five-judge panel to consider Mr. Trump’s request in the coming days.

    In a separate filing with the appeals court on Monday, Mr. Trump was expected to ask the court to move the trial outside Manhattan. The request reflects his deep unpopularity in the solidly Democratic borough.
    […]

  38. says

    Even shadier. Even worse:

    The Daily Beast goes into more details on Trump’s so called $175 million “bond” from Knight Speciality Insurance Company. Besides going over that fact that Knight Speciality Insurance Company is not licensed in the state of New York, the legal document submitted doesn’t provide a guarantee to pay the $464 million judgement nor does it say it that Knight Specialty will even pay the $175 million. Instead, it says that Trump will pay!

    Perhaps even more troubling, the legal document from Knight Specialty Insurance Company doesn’t actually promise it will pay the money if the former president loses his $464 million bank fraud case on appeal. Instead, it says Trump will pay, negating the whole point of an insurance company guarantee, according to three legal and bond experts who reviewed the contract for The Daily Beast…

    Buried in the typical legalese of the contract is the phrase: “Knight Specialty Insurance Company… does hereby… undertake that if the judgment… is dismissed… Donald J. Trump… shall pay… the sum directed.”

    In other words: If Trump loses the case, Trump will pay. But that’s no different than Trump’s obligation before the bond was issued.

    “Getting into the weeds, the company undertakes that Trump will pay,” said one bond industry source who declined to be publicly identified for this story.

    This is NOT how a bond is supposed to work! The insurer pays out if the judgement is upheld by the appellate court, and it’s up to the insurer to get the money from Trump.

    The article is also very thorough on how Knight Specialty Insurance Company really has not stated if they can afford to issue this so called “bond” to Trump. And once again, Knight Insurance is run by a guy who has ripped off customers with high interest loans on cars with many of those cars repossesed illegally according to their customers. I’m no legal or financial expert, but this screams of a scam.

    What if anything will the courts in NY do about this? Beats me. I frankly do not trust the NY courts after the appellate court decided the full amount of the judgement against Trump was too high and cut his bond down to $175 million. But they would be fools if they accepted this bond from Knight Specialty Insurance Company.

    Link

  39. says

    Followup to comment 48.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    If the judgment is “dismissed” after appeal, that means Dump won and Dump paying “the sum directed” means Dump pays nothing because the judgment has been “dismissed” or as any competent lawyer would say “reversed” by the appellate court. What the hell is “dismissed?” this appears to be another trap set by the shady used car salesman and Dump.
    ————————–
    In other words, a judgment is either reversed or affirmed when it is considered on the merits. An appeal is typically dismissed if the appellate court has no jurisdiction or some other procedural irregularity. If the judgment is “affirmed,” Dump is on the hook for the entire amount. If the judgment is reverse that means that the appellate court thought some portion or all of Dump’s argument meritorious, or the Court needs more information about something. There is no “dismissal” of a judgment on appeal. This most definitely looks like a trap.
    —————————-
    “Good call by AG James to bring this to the court’s attention. There will be a hearing on the bond in front of Judge Engoron on April 22.” Posted by Joyce Vance.
    —————————–
    The NY AG’s case is civil, not criminal, so he couldn’t be put in jail until trial. Neither would you be as the defendant in a civil case.

    The criminal cases are another matter, but for non-violent crimes like in the NY and GA cases, it’s unlikely a defendant would be jailed unless he was a flight risk. You would probably get the same treatment in the same situation, altho I do agree there’s a lot of abuse of the bond system.

    But it’s infuriating that Engeron and Merchan haven’t held him in contempt of court for all his defiant and dangerous remarks and behavior.
    ———————-
    An insurance company will not be permitted to post a $175 million bond for Donald Trump while he appeals a fraud judgment, a former federal prosecutor has said.

    Kingman wrote that, as a result, New York Attorney General Letitia James will be able to begin enforcement proceedings on Donald Trump’s properties.
    —————————–
    It seems pretty obvious that this was all part of the plan. Already, they’ve pushed having an actual bond out to the 22nd of this month. Then, it will take the courts several more weeks to sort it out, then there will be another pretty-please to Trump, more appeals, more delay, etc. Our legal system is a joke. Or, at least the rich can laugh about it
    ——————————
    The bond doesn’t really cover Trump if he loses on appeal and can’t pay. This very well may have been a criminal attempt to mislead the court. The insurance doesn’t appear to be worth the paper it’s written on. This is classic Trump. The hearing on the viability of the bond is going to be very interesting, to say the least. James is on it.

  40. says

    https://www.threads.net/@maddowmaddow/post/C5ga751uC68

    Headlines are hard, surely. But on something this critical, the spin doesn’t have to be right up there in bold. It’s just as easy to say something like…

    “Trump Says He is ‘Proudly the Person Responsible’ for Ending Roe” —

    “Abandons previous criticism of strictest state bans, avoids mention of GOP proposals for national restrictions”

  41. says

    Mass shooting in Miami, as reported by NBC News: “A shooting at a bar in a popular outdoor mall in a Miami suburb early Saturday left two dead and seven injured. According to local law enforcement, an altercation at a martini bar at the CityPlace Doral complex broke out around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, prompting a security guard working the scene to intervene. A man involved in the altercation subsequently produced a gun and shot and killed the guard.”

    Mass shooting in Las Vegas, as reported by NBC News: “Two people at a Las Vegas law office were killed in a shooting Monday morning and the gunman took his own life, police said. The incident occurred about 10 a.m. at a fifth-floor law office on West Charleston Boulevard near Pavilion Center Drive, Las Vegas Sheriff Kevin McMahill said at a news conference. Two people, a male and a female, died, the sheriff said. The gunman was believed to have killed himself, McMahill added.”

  42. says

    Highlights from the total solar eclipse: Live videos, photos and updates

    That’s a wrap for one of the most anticipated celestial events of the year.

    A total solar eclipse — nicknamed the Great North American Eclipse for its long path over North America — was visible in the sky today over parts of Mexico, 15 U.S. states and eastern Canada.

    Tens of millions of people were treated to stunning views as the moon passed between Earth and the sun and temporarily blocked the sun’s light.

    Good videos and photos are available at the link.

  43. says

    Breaking news: Appeals court judge denies Trump’s bid to delay next week’s hush money trial

    Good news!

    A state appeals court judge on Monday denied Donald Trump’s bid for an emergency delay of his impending criminal trial in New York.

    The ruling by Justice Lizbeth González of the state Appellate Division came after attorneys for the former president argued the trial needed to be halted because “an impartial jury cannot be selected right now based on prejudicial pretrial publicity.” The judge rejected the request in a one-line ruling late Monday afternoon with no explanation.

    The ruling came just hours after Trump’s attorneys filed an eleventh-hour attempt to delay the trial that centers on charges that Trump falsified business records related to hush-money payments.

    The long-shot legal maneuver came exactly one week before the first criminal trial of a former president is scheduled to start.

    The hearing on the venue challenge took place Monday afternoon, with Trump attorney Emil Bove arguing that jury selection cannot proceed in a fair manner because of all the publicity surrounding the case, and that the gag order against his client is unconstitutional.

    Steven Wu of the DA’s office countered the publicity isn’t confined to Manhattan, arguing it’s worldwide, due in part to Trump’s frequent commentary about the case. He suggested Trump was “trying to have it both ways” by complaining about the publicity while stoking it.

    Trump’s attorneys filed the challenge as a lawsuit invoking a provision of New York law known as Article 78. An Article 78 challenges allows litigants, whether in ongoing litigation or otherwise, to seek relief from allegedly unlawful state or local government action.

    Trump tried a similar move before the same appeals court last year, when he challenged a partial gag order issued by Judge Arthur Engoron in the civil fraud case brought against the former president and his company by New York Attorney General Letitia James. […]

  44. says

    The New York Times reported:

    Former President Donald J. Trump, speaking at a multimillion-dollar fund-raiser on Saturday night, lamented that people were not immigrating to the United States from “nice” countries “like Denmark.”

    More detail:

    “And when I said, you know, ‘Why can’t we allow people to come in from nice countries, I’m trying to be nice,’” the presumptive GOP nominee reportedly said at the fundraising dinner. “Nice countries, you know like Denmark, Switzerland? Do we have any people coming in from Denmark? How about Switzerland? How about Norway?”

    Yep, Trump means “white people” as immigrants. He is routinely racist, but I don’t know how many people actually know that, or rather how many people realize the depth of his racism.

  45. says

    Followup to comments 41 and 43.

    […] CNN’s Daniel Dale also fact-checked Trump’s strange claim that “all legal scholars” wanted the court to overturn Roe v. Wade. He spoke with several legal scholars who called out the lie.

    “Any claim that all legal scholars wanted Roe overturned is mind-numbingly false,” Rutgers Law School professor Kimberly Mutcherson told Dale. While many legal scholars believed Roe was “too narrow,” she said, “the call was to strengthen Roe, certainly not to overturn it and give states the power to deprive women of such a basic right of control over their bodies and futures.”

    Yale Law School professor Reva Siegel also made it clear that Trump is 100% wrong.

    “Please make clear that the facts are the opposite of Trump’s claims,” she said.

    The Biden campaign was quick to release a new ad that emphasizes the cruelty of Trump’s anti-abortion position.

    Link

  46. says

    Ha! This is funny example of Trump hiring “only the best people”:

    (Bloomberg) — Donald Trump’s social-media company just became the most valuable publicly traded client of an accounting firm that has more experience auditing companies traded over-the-counter and has had a string of regulatory issues, including a 100% deficiency rate on audits reviewed by a US watchdog. (Emphasis added)

    Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. said in recent regulatory filings that it will keep BF Borgers, a Lakewood, Colorado-based accounting firm, as its auditor after starting to trade publicly late last month. A Canadian regulator said last year that BF Borgers violated its rules for auditors, while the US’s Public Company Accounting Oversight Board found multiple deficiencies in every audit it reviewed from the firm over the past two annual checks.

  47. says

    RFKjr’s NY Campaign Director admits plan to throw the election to Trump via US House of Reps

    Folks, I think we need some eyes on this.

    The shady, Republican-funded No Labels grift has stumbled and folded for 2024, thank goodness. But, as you’re almost certainly aware, there’s another spoiler in the field. There’s been speculation that RFKjr and his team are more or less working directly to draw electoral votes away from President Biden to help Trump. “But yeah, maybe sorta, not sure, maybe he just really believes…” and so forth.

    Well… nope.

    This link is to an article on Digby’s Hullabaloo, a blog you should probably add to your daily-ish reading if it’s not there already. To hit the key points: RFKjr’s NY Campaign Director doesn’t just say the quiet part out loud here, she sounds damn happy about it. I’ll quote from the following Xitter clip: [video at the link]

    Starting at 0:57, and for the non-Xeeters (emphasis added):

    If the Republicans… accepted the fact that New York, Maryland, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Connecticut — most of the Northeast is going to go blue, why wouldn’t we put our vote to Bobby and at least get rid of Biden, and get those 28 electoral votes in New York — the card’s a little wrong, it says 26 electoral votes — give those 28 electoral votes to Bobby rather than to Biden, thereby reducing Biden’s 270. And we all know how that works, right? 270 wins the election. If you don’t get to 270, if nobody gets to 270, then Congress picks the President. So who are they going to pick? Who are they going to pick, if it’s a Republican Congress? They’ll pick Trump. So we’re rid of Biden either way. Does everybody follow that?

    Note that these remarks are delivered in a light tone, and there are quiet expressions of approval from at least at least a few audience members after she concludes. These folks are casually discussing scuttling an election and wrecking the future of the United States, and it’s like tea and coffee cakes for them.

    There is no dissembling here, no fig-leaf over the intent. They want to deny President Biden re-election, by any means they can — and they’re totally willing to put Trump back in the White House for that end. With all the horror that implies.

    I don’t have a solution to offer here, except talk to people about how flagrantly nuts RFKjr is. […]

    I will be looking for confirmation of this story from other sources.

  48. says

    Say what now?

    Fox News is covering the eclipse as if were a story about migrants:

    […] “A rare celestial event collides with a policy failure on the ground,” anchor Dana Perino told viewers. “The southern border will be directly in the path of totality today when the moon covers the sun for nearly four minutes.” The eclipse, co-anchor Bill Hemmer then added, represents “a real opportunity for smugglers and cartels and migrants to come right in.”

    […] Fox News wasn’t alone in making the wild connection between the eclipse and migration to the southern border. In a segment with Arizona Sheriff Mark Lamb, a Republican running for the US Senate, a Newsmax host asked if the over three-minute darkness following the eclipse posed “any concern that there could be a rush on the border during that time.” Sheriff Lamb, a frequent guest on the right-wing media circle and harsh critic of the Biden administration’s border policies, gave the only conceivable answer: “Look, it gets dark every night.” […]

    Link

    Video of Fox News segment is available at the link.

  49. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #55…
    Well… Two of my grandparents did come to the US from Denmark. My grandfather arrived in 1906 and my grandmother in 1907. I don’t know of anyone in the family that would give Trump the time of day, let alone vote for him. So he’d better not count on Danes arriving here to help him out.

  50. birgerjohansson says

    Whheydt @ 61
    While some high-income scandinavians with valuable skills might want to try a US career, I do not see a mass influx from our corner of Europe. The prospects for ordinary people are so much better back home, thanks to the last 40 years of Reaganomics.
    Even our local billionairies don’t mind keeping their head offices here because the EU region has a pretty dynamic economy, despite the proximity to Russia.
    Trump is living in the past – the world is a bigger place than it used to be.

  51. Silentbob says

    @ 64 birgerjohansson

    Utterly horrifying. It’s one thing for the moral panic against trans people to go after trans women “cheating” at sports, or whatever. But it’s become so vociferous in the UK they are going after life saving healthcare for children! For purely political and ideological reasons. They are going to deny life saving healthcare to children on the basis of an ideological moral panic.

    Here is what the international experts in trans healthcare had to say about the proposed NHS plan based on the interim “Cass report”:

    Overall, WPATH, ASIAPATH, EPATH, PATHA, and USPATH find serious flaws in this document, which sets out a plan for a service for gender diverse children and young people in England that is likely to cause enormous harm and exacerbate the higher rates of suicidality experienced by these young people in the context of ongoing pathologisation and discrimination.  WPATH, ASIAPATH, EPATH, PATHA, and USPATH urge NHS England and Wales to reconsider its approach, which is now contrary to the progress being made in many countries around the world and incongruent with statements from the World Health Organization (2017) and the Yogyakarta Principles (2007) relating to the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

    Please read the whole thing to get a complete picture of all the problems.
    (WPATH is the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. The others are European, US, etc. affiliates. They are the scientific body that publishes the international Standards of Care for trans people now in the 8th edition, based on decades of peer reviewed research.)

    This is a moral panic that seems to me even worse than the satanic panic or gay panic of the 1980s. It will result in numerous deaths and many lives ruined. All for nothing. All because of a refusal to see trans people as fully human and worthy of dignity and recognition.  :-(

    I’m a cis person and I’m horrified. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a trans kid or a parent of a trans kid in the UK right now.

  52. Ada Christine says

    for those of you following iceland news

    our current minister of foreign affairs, erstwhile minister of finance, Bjarni Benedikitsson is probably going to be prime minister.

    i don’t like this.

  53. ardipithecus says

    The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of a group of elderly Swiss women who claimed that Switzerland’s failure to meet their climate targets is a violation of their human rights as it increases the likelihood of older citizens dying in a heat wave. The ruling doesn’t impose any sanctions on the Swiss government, but it sets a precedent that other courts in Europe can apply to civil suits.

  54. robro says

    Speaking of traitors: Heather Cox Richardson reported in her newsletter yesterday that a few Republicans are admitting that Russian influence (aka money) has “infected” the GOP. Here’s an excerpt.

    On Sunday, Representative Michael R. Turner (R-OH), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said it is “absolutely true” that Republican members of Congress are parroting Russian propaganda. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.

    Turner was being questioned about an interview in which Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Russia specialist Julia Ioffe that “Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.” McCaul blamed right-wing media. When asked which Republicans he was talking about, McCaul answered that it is “obvious.”

    Catherine Belton and Joseph Menn reviewed more than 100 internal Kremlin documents from 2022 and 2023 obtained by a European intelligence service and reported in the Washington Post today that the Russian government is running “an ongoing campaign that seeks to influence congressional and other political debates to stoke anti-Ukraine sentiment.” Kremlin-backed trolls write fake “news articles, social media posts and comments that promote American isolationism, stir fear over the United States’ border security and attempt to amplify U.S. economic and racial tensions” while claiming that “Biden’s policies are leading the U.S. toward collapse.”

    Aaron Blake pointed out in the Washington Post that Republicans are increasingly warning that Russian propaganda has fouled their party. Blake notes that Russia specialist Fiona Hill publicly told Republicans during the 2019 impeachment inquiry into Trump that they were repeating “politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” but Republicans angrily objected.

    Now Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX) and a top aide to Senator Todd Young (R-IN), as well as former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and even Trump’s vice president Mike Pence, have warned about the party’s ties to Russia. Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has said the Republican Party now has “a Putin wing.”

  55. says

    whheydt @61, good to know about your grandparents.

    Trump thinks that most “white” people will side with him. Trump is completely delusional.

  56. says

    Followup to comment 59.

    Noted by Steve Benen:

    As if Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign weren’t already controversial, the conspiracy theorist’s state director in New York told a group of Republican voters last week that her “number one priority“ was defeating President Joe Biden. Rita Palma also encouraged the audience to travel to Pennsylvania — not to campaign for Kennedy, but to volunteer in support of Trump’s candidacy. A Kennedy spokesperson soon after downplayed Palma’s role in the campaign.

  57. says

    We don’t get a lot of good news when it comes to prison conditions in the United States, so even a small amount of improvement is something to celebrate.

    For years, the conditions in Arizona prisons have been the subject of intense scrutiny, particularly the state’s use of solitary confinement — including on children and as a way of dealing with prisoners with mental illnesses. Finally, in 2022, US District Judge Roslyn Silver found that the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR) had risen to the level of violating the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

    On April 12 of last year, Judge Silver issued an order […] requiring that the ADCRR to take steps to end “constitutional violations in the provision of health care and in housing certain prisoners in isolation.” She also required the ADCRR make improvements in several other problematic areas — for instance, to actually do something about the pest and vermin problems inside the buildings.

    One year later, the ACLU reports that, while it’s clearly still a human rights nightmare over there, it’s a lot better than it was before.

    [A]t the time of the order, there were 1,071 people housed in “maximum custody,” ADCRR’s euphemism for long-term solitary confinement. According to ADCRR, at least 200 people had been in maximum custody for a year or more, and six people had been in for over a decade. Today, there are just over 200 people in maximum custody – a reduction of more than 80 percent. Half the people who had been held in maximum custody for over a decade are no longer in solitary confinement.

    The prisons have stopped putting prisoners under the age of 18 in solitary confinement as well.

    Some general conditions have improved. Prisoners in solitary confinement — or “maximum custody” as the ADCRR calls it — now get three meals a day instead of two and aren’t accidentally kept in the shower for hours on end anymore, which was apparently a big problem before. They’re also given cleaning supplies, which one imagines probably helps with the aforementioned pests and vermin problem.

    Of course, it’s not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows:

    The court ordered that one vulnerable group – people with serious mental illness – be kept out of solitary confinement altogether. There are housing units for people with serious mental illness, which ADCRR claims are not solitary confinement units. But the people inside report that they are locked in their cells more hours per day than people in the housing units ADCRR considers solitary confinement. Similarly, there is a prison in which people with dementia are held and are rarely let out of their cells, let alone allowed to go outside.

    Unfortunately, it seems rather obvious that this is the kind of thing that can happen when you put corrections officers, who are not qualified to deal with people who have severe mental illnesses or dementia, in charge of people who have severe mental illnesses or dementia.

    […] maybe also not great to put corrections officers themselves in that position? Do we actually expect them, after six weeks of training, to know what to do if someone has a psychotic break or if someone with dementia gets agitated? Who could possibly think that’s going to end well for anyone involved?

    Still, as much as I feel weird about cheering for “not leaving people trapped in their showers for hours on end” as it’s hard to imagine a lower bar, I will throw them a damn pep rally if it encourages them to do more. Good job, Arizona, on now only having three prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for over a decade, even though that’s definitely an insane thing to do to anyone! Congratulations on not putting literal children in there, either! I believe in you and your ability to treat people in a remotely humane manner! You can do anything, including not forcing people to live in cells with rats, that you put your minds to!

    Good job! Ish!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/arizona-prisons-now-marginally-less

  58. says

    The Pentagon has provided Ukraine with thousands of Iranian-made weapons seized before they could reach Houthi militants in Yemen, U.S. officials said Tuesday. It’s the Biden administration’s latest infusion of emergency military support for Kyiv while a multibillion-dollar aid package remains stalled in the Republican-led House.

    The weapons include 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, along with a half-million rounds of ammunition. They were seized from four “stateless vessels” between 2021 and 2023 and made available for transfer to Ukraine through a Justice Department civil forfeiture program targeting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East.

    […] The inventory list does not include artillery ammunition, which is among Ukraine’s most dire battlefield needs.

    […] The new batch of weapons provided to Ukraine were inspected and deemed safe and in working condition, said a U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the transfer process. Ukrainian troops have in the past voiced frustration over the condition of some U.S.- and Western-provided weapons, which are often from older warehouse stocks.

    Washington Post link

  59. says

    The parents of Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley were both sentenced to 10-15 years in prison.

    […] In both parents’ cases, prosecutors wrote that their “gross negligence changed an entire community forever.”

    They both could have prevented the shooting with “tragically simple actions,” prosecutors wrote, adding that they “failed to take any action when presented with the gravest of dangers.”

    […] a teacher said she had found a note on Ethan’s desk with a drawing of a gun and a person who had been shot, along with messages including: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

    That discovery prompted the school to summon the parents for a meeting, but school officials testified that they declined to bring him home because they had to go back to work.

    The officials also said that if the parents had informed them that their son had access to a gun, they would have been more authoritative to ensure immediate safety.

    Ethan would go on to commit the school shooting later that afternoon, killing Baldwin; Shilling; Tate Myre, 16; and Hana St. Juliana, 14. […]

    Link

  60. says

    Arizona Supreme Court rules that a near-total abortion ban from 1864 is enforceable

    The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a 160-year-old near-total abortion ban still on the books in the state is enforceable, a bombshell decision that adds the state to the growing lists of places where abortion care is effectively banned.

    Tuesday’s ruling allows an 1864 law in Arizona to stand that criminalized abortion by making it a felony punishable by two to five years in prison for anyone who performs or helps a woman obtain one.

    The law — which was codified again in 1901, and once again in 1913, after Arizona became a state — included an exception to save the woman’s life.

    That Civil War-era law — enacted a half-century before Arizona even gained statehood — was never repealed and an appellate court ruled last year that it could remain on the books as long as it was “harmonized” with the 2022 law, leading to substantial confusion in Arizona regarding exactly when during a pregnancy abortion was outlawed.

  61. says

    Appeals court judge rejects Trump’s effort to delay his hush money trial as he appeals a gag order

    The ruling came less than 24 hours after another appeals court judge denied Trump’s attempt to halt the trial while they seek a change of venue.

    A state appeals court judge on Tuesday denied Donald Trump’s bid to halt his criminal trial while he appeals his gag order in the case, a ruling that came less than 24 hours after another judge rejected the former president’s request to delay his impending criminal trial on other grounds.

    Tuesday’s ruling came roughly one hour after Trump attorney Emil Bove argued his client is entitled to a stay of the proceedings while he challenges the “unconstitutional” partial gag order Judge Juan Merchan handed down against Trump last month and expanded days later. […]

    His court filing contended the order is causing “ongoing, irreparable harm to Petitioner and the voting public.”

    […] Steven Wu of the Manhattan district attorney’s office told the judge there’s no basis for a stay, and that Bove was misrepresenting what the gag order is and why it was handed down.

    “Defense counsel has presented this as high minded,” Wu said, “but we are talking about inflammatory and denigrating remarks about witnesses and family members of court staff. This is not political debate. These are threats against staff that have lead to a barrage of attacks that have led to the NYPD becoming involved.”

    One of Kern’s colleagues, Justice Lizbeth González, took about two hours Monday to deny Trump’s motion to halt the trial while he pushes forward with an appeal on his argument that he can’t get a fair trial in Manhattan.

    Kern’s order allows Trump’s attorneys to make their case for a stay to a full panel of Appellate Division judges. His court filings for that request are due Monday morning — the same time jury selection is scheduled to begin in the case.

    One of Kern’s Appellate Division colleagues, Justice Lizbeth González, took about two hours Monday to deny Trump’s motion to halt the trial while he pushes forward with an appeal on his argument that he can’t get a fair trial in Manhattan.

    Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to an adult film star in the closing days of the 2016 presidential election. […]

  62. says

    Europe tightens security for Champions League games after ISIS threats

    ISIS was alleged to have threatened four venues for this week’s matches, which will take place at the Parc des Princes in Paris, in London and two games in Madrid.

    […] British police said they were aware of reports of such threats and had a robust policing plan in place ahead of Tuesday night’s game in London between English Premier League leaders Arsenal and German giants Bayern Munich.

    “Regarding the game that will take place in the Paris region, the head of police has considerably strengthened security,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters at a press event on Olympic Games security.

    Paris-St-Germain is due to play Barcelona in Paris on Wednesday night.

    “We have seen, among other things, a communication from the Islamic State that particularly targets stadiums. It is not new,” he added.

    ISIS was alleged to have threatened four venues for this week’s Champions League matches, including the Parc des Princes in Paris and two games in Madrid hosted by Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, who face Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

    London police’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said in a statement: “We’re aware of online and media reports in relation to calls to target matches across Europe and here in London.” […]

    Spanish police forces will deploy 2,000 extra officers to boost security in the capital for the two games, government spokesperson Pilar Alegria told reporters on Tuesday. […]

  63. says

    Even now, right clings to false tale about migrants, charter flights

    The idea that President Biden has chartered “secret flights” to bring “illegals” into the U.S. has been debunked. The right keeps pushing the claim anyway.

    It was nearly a month ago when Sen. Ted Cruz started pushing a brazenly deceptive message about the Biden administration “importing illegal aliens” into the United States. The Texas Republican even sent out fundraising appeals, telling would-be donors that President Joe Biden has chartered “secret flights” as part of a scheme to fly “illegals into America.” [eyeroll]

    The fundraising message added, “You can’t make this stuff up.” [LOL]

    Cruz, however, was making stuff up. In fact, pretty much every relevant detail of the GOP senator’s story was false. And yet, it hasn’t gone away.

    Late last week, for example, conspiratorial billionaire Elon Musk used social media to claim that the Biden administration is “flying hundreds of thousands of illegals” into the United States using Americans’ tax dollars. [FFS]

    A few days earlier, Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee — the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, who really ought to have known better — pushed a related message. This came on the heels of similar claims from Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee.

    A Washington Post fact-check piece took the GOP lawmakers to task.

    Hagerty and Green are peddling a blatant falsehood here — that the Biden administration is paying for the flights of migrants from four countries in the parole program. In reality, the migrants must pay their own way. When challenged, their offices resorted to alternative explanations about the use of taxpayer dollars that strain credulity.

    Speaking of Tennessee Republicans who got this wrong, it’s worth noting that Sen. Marsha Blackburn also condemned the Biden administration for what she described as a “secret flight program.”

    The truth, as an Associated Press report recently explained, is rather benign. The Biden administration created a “humanitarian parole” program that allows Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans to stay in the U.S. for two years, but participants — who have legal permission to be here — must apply online with a financial sponsor, and they must be screened, vetted, and authorized for travel.

    There’s nothing “secret” about any of this: U.S. Customs and Border Protection has promoted the program and publicly disclosed the details on the agency’s website.

    As for the idea that the administration is using Americans’ tax dollars to pay for these flights, in reality, participants in the program are responsible for paying their own way. What’s more, the migrants in question are required to arrange for their own travel on commercial flights.

    If recent history is any guide, the right will continue to pretend their claims about the program are based in reality, but those who care about the facts should know better.

  64. says

    19 retired four-star admirals and generals, and former secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, who have served under each President from John F. Kennedy to Donald J. Trump, have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court (pdf), warning of disastrous results should the Court agree with Trump’s theory of presidential immunity. […]

    Petitioner’s theory that the President is absolutely immune from criminal prosecution, if accepted, has the potential to severely undermine the Commander-in-Chief’s legal and moral authority to lead the military forces, as it would signal that they but not he must obey the rule of law. Under this theory, the President could, with impunity, direct his national security appointees to, in turn, direct members of the military to execute plainly unlawful orders, placing those in the chain of command in an untenable position and irreparably harming the trust fundamental to civil-military relations….

    …the rule of law is critical to the military’s mission and to the people’s trust in the armed forces. The military service members’ duty to disobey unlawful orders plainly illustrates this point. This duty requires service members, who are bound to obey all lawful orders, to disregard patently unlawful orders from their superiors and prohibits service members from using such orders as a defense to criminal prosecution. Immunizing the Commander-in-Chief from criminal prosecution, as Petitioner argues for here, would fly in the face of that duty, creating the likelihood that service members will be placed in the impossible position of having to choose between following their Commander-in-Chief and obeying the laws enacted by Congress… Not only does Petitioner’s approach threaten to inject chaos into military operations, it also threatens to damage—potentially irreparably—the public’s trust in the military and the willingness of recruits to join the armed forces.

    ….the notion that predicted defiance of the Commander-in-Chief’s orders is the backstop against criminal behavior by a President is not what the Constitution provides for.[…]

    Link

    More at the link, including details from the amicus brief, including this:

    Petitioner’s theory would also remove specific checks on presidential authority over the military. For example, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (“PCA”) criminalizes the use of the armed forces to enforce civilian laws, subject to exceptions “expressly authorized” by Congress. 18 U.S.C.§ 1385.5 The PCA thus prevents Presidents from deploying the military within the United States to police civilian “compliance” with laws such as voting regulations. But, absent the availability of criminal prosecution for a President’s violation of the PCA, this important check on military power would be weakened if not eliminated […]

  65. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna, OM @ 78

    Technically, they can be dismissed as ‘elites’ and if your target audience are low-information people, even as ‘liberal elites’ . Remember, the very conservative Mitt Romney is a ‘RINO’ and maybe a far-left extremist.

  66. birgerjohansson says

    Myself @ 79

    Let me remind you, Trump claims the Democrats want to inflict abortions AFTER birth.
    I believe this confirms the allegations about him having increasing cognitive issues.

  67. Reginald Selkirk says

    Peter Higgs, who proposed the existence of the so-called ‘God particle,’ has died

    Nobel prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs, who proposed the existence of the so-called “God particle” that helped explain how matter formed after the Big Bang, has died at age 94, the University of Edinburgh said Tuesday.

    The university, where Higgs was emeritus professor, said he died Monday “peacefully at home following a short illness.”

    Higgs predicted the existence of a new particle — the so-called Higgs boson — in 1964. But it would be almost 50 years before the particle’s existence could be confirmed at the Large Hadron Collider…

  68. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 84
    We must be telepathically connected, I had just intended to mention Higgs.

    BTW Kevin Costner is back with a new film set in the old west.

  69. Rob Grigjanis says

    Reginald Selkirk @84: This is a great example of the huge gap between what happens in science, and what the public hears and gets transmitted as received wisdom.

    There are half a dozen people with an equal claim to the breakthrough. I’m not going to name them. Those who are interested either know, or can look them up. Most people don’t care. At least Higgs had the humility to object to the nomenclature “Higgs boson” or “Higgs mechanism”.

  70. Reginald Selkirk says

    Alabama secretary of state says Democratic convention too late to get Biden on ballot this fall

    Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen has notified the state and national Democratic parties that the scheduled date of the Democratic National Convention is a few days after the deadline for the party to put its nominees for president and vice president on the ballot for the general election in November.

    Allen, who is a Republican, said state law requires parties to provide a certification of nomination for president and vice president no later than Aug. 15…

    Dumbfuckery defined.

  71. says

    Associated Press:

    More than 200 chemical plants nationwide will be required to reduce toxic emissions that are likely to cause cancer under a new rule issued Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency. The rule advances President Joe Biden’s commitment to environmental justice by delivering critical health protections for communities burdened by industrial pollution from ethylene oxide, chloroprene and other dangerous chemicals, officials said.

  72. says

    New York Times:

    A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced a Florida woman on Tuesday to a month in prison for her role in a brazen scheme to steal the diary of President Biden’s daughter and sell it to a right-wing group in the hope of disrupting the 2020 election.

    Well that took a long time.

  73. says

    Washington Post:

    Two right-wing political operatives must pay up to $1.25 million in fines after they were found liable for launching a robocall campaign designed to keep Black New Yorkers from voting in the 2020 election, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, who have a history of concocting conspiracy theories to try to smear Democrats, were found liable last March of orchestrating a robocall campaign that reached about 5,500 predominantly Black New Yorkers in the summer of 2020.

    That also took a long time. Better late than never.

  74. says

    Roll Call:

    Senate Democrats have teed up floor action this week on three more of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations, whose confirmations would catch up to the pace set by former President Donald Trump at this point in his presidency. But the Biden administration still faces a tricky confirmation process to surpass Trump’s record overall on filling the federal bench, in part because Democrats hold a slim 51-49 advantage and Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., has put a caveat on his support for Biden judicial nominees.

    […] the Democratic president now must contend with Manchin’s newly announced stance that he will not support Biden judicial nominees unless they have support from at least one Republican.

    […] Democrats have found success in diversifying the federal bench under the Biden administration, a push from the White House that’s been praised by progressive judicial advocates.

    Overall, 123 confirmations so far were of people of color and 121 confirmations were women, according to a memorandum from the Leadership Conference. A total of 78 confirmations were of women of color.

    Almost 45 percent of the lifetime confirmations have been people who were public defenders, civil rights lawyers or who “otherwise dedicated a significant portion of their careers to protecting people’s civil and human rights,” according to the memorandum. […]

  75. says

    Full Panic Mode Kari Lake

    […] Shortly after Arizona’s high court ruled that the state must go back to the 1864 abortion law which forbids virtually every abortion, Kari Lake, probable GOP senate nominee released a remarkable statement. She first denounced the 1864 law, which she said she supported as recently as last fall. She said she opposed today’s ruling. She then demanded Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Republican state legislature “come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support.” She then said that the decision will be up to voters in the ballot initiative that will be on the November ballot, that is, the initiative she actually opposes.

    So let’s review. Lake opposes the law she had consistently said she supported. She denounces the court decision which ruled that the old law is in effect. She thinks the decision should be left to the states. She also opposes abortion. Also, Arizona is a state.

    She also wants Governor Hobbs to solve the situation. Which would presumably mean making abortion legal. Even though Lake opposes abortion.

    She then comes very close to saying that abortion is a very personal issue that should be left to a state and her doctor. No really. I’m not kidding. Here’s the exact quote: “this is a very personal issue that should be determined by each individual state and her people.”

  76. says

    Rachel Maddow dissects pathetic media coverage of Trump’s abortion video

    Donald Trump released a video Monday proclaiming a hodgepodge of undercooked positions on abortion. Rachel Maddow broke down the traditional media’s failure to convey Trump’s cowardice, incoherence, and dishonesty.

    She recited a number of muted headlines from major newspapers and then explained what’s wrong with them. [video at the link]

    MADDOW: Today, Donald Trump did put out a video statement in which he did indeed say that restrictions on abortions are things that should be decided by individual states. Looking at these headlines, you might get the impression that that was somehow Trump moderating his position on abortion.

    These headlines are exactly what Donald Trump wanted after delivering his remarks on abortion today. Sadly, that is exactly what he got. Even though the actual content of Donald Trump’s remarks today indicated something very different than what was in those headlines.

    The substantive, new, and important thing articulated by Donald Trump today was that he has now abandoned any criticism he once had for the strictest abortion bans that are now in effect and under consideration.

    And I love me some New York Times, and I love The Washington Post, and I love Reuters, and I love The Guardian, and I love The Wall Street Journal. I revere the free and fair press, and I could not do 98% of what I do without reporting from institutions like these to give us the facts on which we base everything that we do in the news business.

    But the headline spin today from multiple excellent news agencies about what Trump did was just absolutely at odds with the importance of what he said.

    I mean, Florida has a total ban on abortion, a six-week ban on abortion, that is set to go into effect on May 1st. Trump, until now, was critical of strict abortion bans like Florida’s. He used to call abortion bans like that too severe. He called the Florida abortion ban a, quote, terrible mistake.

    Today, Trump eliminated that from his vocabulary. He voiced no concern whatsoever with Florida’s abortion ban or any other abortion restriction any state might want to impose. Trump used to be a critic of six-week bans. Now he’s apparently fine with them. Trump was also silent on the issue of a national abortion ban, which his own party has been relentlessly pushing. A national ban is something he himself reportedly said he supports as recently as a few weeks ago.

    Trump today also, for what it’s worth, falsely accused Democrats of executing children. That’s what he said Democrats’ abortion policies are—it’s to execute children. Which has a nice QAnon flavor to it, in addition to being completely, completely false.

    And so perhaps a more accurate headline about Trump’s remarks today might have been something like, you know, “Channeling QAnon conspiracy theory, Donald Trump falsely accuses Democrats of executing children.” Or, “Trump abandons previous criticism of strictest state abortion bans. Trump avoids mention of Republican proposals for national restrictions.” I mean— Or maybe try something like this: “Donald Trump also said today that he is, quote, proudly the person responsible for ending the constitutional right to an abortion.” Proudly the person responsible for the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

    He did explicitly say that today. And that would have made for a great headline: Trump takes personal credit for ending the constitutional right to abortion in America. Abandons criticism of most draconian abortion bans.

    Right? Short, snappy, accurate, rightfully spotlighting the issue that Roe versus Wade is gone, and it’s because of him.

    That’s not how it got covered today, which I’m sure Trump is delighted with.

    Despite the traditional media’s failure to hold him to account, Trump’s clumsy attempt to appease the GOP’s rabid anti-abortion base was a complete failure—not simply because he is an oaf, but because his party’s extremist positions on abortion are so unpopular it’s hard for him to figure out the right lie to tell.

  77. Silentbob says

    Me @ 65

    This is a moral panic that seems to me even worse than the satanic panic or gay panic of the 1980s. It will result in numerous deaths and many lives ruined. All for nothing. All because of a refusal to see trans people as fully human and worthy of dignity and recognition.  :-(

    Call me Nostradamus.

    Trans boy, 17, who killed himself on mental health ward felt ‘worthless’

    A 17-year-old trans boy who killed himself on a mental health ward felt “worthless” and “could not think of anything positive about himself” shortly before he died, an inquest heard.

    Charlie Millers, from Stretford, had been bullied at school and misgendered by healthcare staff in the five years up to his death and he struggled with his mental health, Rochdale coroner’s court heard.

    [… ]

    The inquest also heard from Dr Polly Carmichael, a consultant clinical psychologist who at the time oversaw the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), which Charlie had been referred to when he was nearly 14.

    Gids was run from the Tavistock and Portman Centre in north London, which closed last month after an interim report found the clinic to be “neither safe nor viable” due to its long waiting list.

    She said Charlie, who had been under the care of the Leeds Gids service, was a “complex” case and that his mental health issues and the fact that he was autistic and struggled to articulate his feelings were preventing him from being able to access puberty blockers to treat his gender dysphoria.

    The drugs are prescribed to delay puberty to give an adolescent the chance to think about whether to pursue gender affirming hormones. The vast majority of children who take puberty blockers go on to take gender affirming hormones, such as testosterone, as adults.

    She said there were “various references in our notes to difficulty putting words to his feelings” and that his mental health would have needed to be stable before he could access drugs.

    She added: “For young people with autism, that would without doubt slow down the process.”

    My emphasis. Of course, reason his mental health was not stable is that he was denied the drugs! Apparently using the excuse has was autistic. It seems being autistic and trans at the same time in the UK warrants a death sentence.

    We’ve known for ages denying trans related healthcare makes people’s mental health fall off a cliff, and transition saves lives. This is from 2015:

    San Diego clinic finds high need for treatment of transgender youth

    A new study has confirmed that transgender youth often have mental health problems and that their depression and anxiety improve greatly with recognition and treatment of gender dysphoria.

    [… ]

    Treatment consisted of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa), which Marinkovic described as “puberty blockers,” in seven patients and cross-gender hormones in 32 patients, with only two patients taking both types of hormones. The average age of starting puberty suppression was 12.5 years, and treatment with cross-gender hormones began at an average age of 16.5 years. Two female-to-male patients had breasts surgically removed at ages 16 and 18 years, she reported. Several other patients wished to get this type of surgery, but their insurance plans did not cover it or they could not find an experienced surgeon locally.

    “To date, none of the patients expressed regret or stopped therapy,” Marinkovic stated.

    Mental health follow-up data were available for 22 out of 26 patients. With treatment, depression, anxiety and/or self-cutting improved in all but two of these patients.

    What they’re doing to trans youth in the UK is an outrage. Charlie Millers was the victim of an ideologically driven moral panic.

  78. birgerjohansson says

    ROFL

    Trump has just been removed from the wossname billionaires list.
    (I forget the name of who publishes the list but you get the point)

    You know, he would have gotten away with his grifts and his rape if he had just stayed out of politics.

  79. birgerjohansson says

    @ 99
    It is the Bloomberg billionaire list, that lists the 500 richest people in the world. You know, the oligarchy.

  80. KG says

    Silentbob@97,
    This morning in the UK, the “Cass Report” has been published. Hilary Cass is a pediatrician, with no prior experience in the area of gender dysphoria brought in to provide rationalisations for closing down the only existing centre offering medical treatments for transgender teenagers. (The Tavistock and Portman Centre did have serious problems, from a very long waiting list – you’d think the way to deal with that would be to open other centres – and from a minority of transphobic staff.) Regional centres were promised when the Tavistock was closed, but are nowhere in sight. Cass decries the “toxic debate” around trans issues, but if what is reported in the linked article is representative, only describes the “fear” among medics opposed to trans rights.

  81. Silentbob says

    @ ^

    I am aware. 8-O

    In what universe do you assign a single pediatrician with no experience in the subject at hand to OVERRULE THE WELL ESTABLISHED CONSENSUS OF EVERY MAJOR RELEVANT MEDICAL ASSOCIATION BASED ON DECADES OF PEER REVIEWED EVIDENCE, RESULTS, STUDY, TESTING, CLINICAL PRACTICE, AND OUTCOMES. Ahem. Sorry for shouting. Maybe get Andrew Wakefield to do a “review” of the evidence for vaccines? Not that I’m saying Hillary Cass is Wakefield. But that’s just not how medicine works. The “Cass Review” is obviously politically motivated. X-(

    And has, and will, cost lives.

  82. birgerjohansson says

    Britain:

    Thousands of children ‘being let down
     by NHS’, report finds | NHS | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2024/apr/10/thousands-of-children-unsure-of-gender-identity-let-down-by-nhs-report-finds

    ‘Children are being used as a football’: Hilary Cass on her review of gender identity services | Transgender | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2024/apr/10/children-are-being-used-as-a-football-hilary-cass-on-her-review-of-gender-identity-services

  83. birgerjohansson says

    A reaction to Trump’s unhinged speech calling his political opponents ‘communists’. I grew up during the cold war. The Soviet Union was 300 miles away, just beuond the Baltic Sea and beyond Finland.
    Now and then refugees managed to get past the MVD border guards (a subset of KGB) and reach Sweden, or other western countries.
    In summer 1981 I visited east Berlin, as the government were setting up posters celebrating (!) the 20 year anniversary of the Berlin Wall. And East Germany was one of the least bad communist countries.

    Calling Biden et al communists is not only an insult to Biden, Trump is belittling the plight of people who had to live (and still has to live) under communism. If I was to spank him I would use something much harder than a rolled up issue of National Geographic.

  84. KG says

    ‘Children are being used as a football’: Hilary Cass on her review of gender identity services – birgerjohansson@104

    And she’s just aimed a massive kick at their heads!

  85. KG says

    Mother criticises ‘agenda from above’ after release of Cass report

    According to someone quoted in this article, regional centres for children with gender dysphoria have opened, but the staff appear to lack expertise. It would have made sense – if the welfare of such children was really a priority – to recruit and train staff for these centres before closing the Tavistock and Portman, if there was really a good case for that.

  86. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 105

    “Calling Biden et al communists is not only an insult to Biden…”

    Actually, it’s an insult to actual leftists who don’t want to associated with a religious, capitalist shit like Brandon.

  87. says

    The problem isn’t just that Republicans are lying about Democrats and infanticide. It’s also the fact that they they feel like they need to lie.

    When Donald Trump released his closely watched video announcement on abortion policy this week, he took care to include an utterly bonkers claim: Democrats, the former president said while reading from his script, want babies “executed after birth.”

    Alas, this was not new. During the Republican’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last fall, he similarly insisted that Democrats support, among other things, “the killing of babies … even after birth.” It was a lie Trump kept repeating to multiple audiences, pointing to advocates of “after-birth” abortion who do not exist.

    Making matters worse, of course, is the fact that Trump’s line is being echoed by his partisan allies. The New Republic noted yesterday, for example:

    North Carolina Representative Greg Murphy continued Tuesday to weave the yarn on Fox Business, telling host Maria Bartiromo that Democrats want to kill kids when they’re “coming out of the birth canal.”
    The GOP congressman specifically said on the air, “[Abortion is] going to be a big issue every time, because you have folks really on both sides, really probably more Democrat, that want abortion literally when the child is coming out of the birth canal, always to force the issue.” [video at the link]

    To be sure, I don’t generally expect much from Murphy. The North Carolinian has pushed for President Joe Biden’s impeachment and suggested that there’s a secret “progressive left committee,” led by Barack Obama, who might be controlling the White House.

    After Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020, Murphy was also among the Republicans sending messages to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, flagging radical ideas about how Trump could claim illegitimate power despite the election results.

    The congressman is not, in other words, a go-to source for sensible commentary and policy analysis. [Heh. Nice understatement]

    But there’s a larger context to all of this. Republicans like Trump and Murphy seriously expect voters to believe that there are women, medical professionals, and Democratic policymakers who “want abortion literally when the child is coming out of the birth canal.” That’s insane. There are no such people.

    This, in turn, helps set the stage for a debate over the future of reproductive rights in the United States, with the presumptive GOP nominee and his cohorts apparently convinced they need to peddle outrageous falsehoods, not just to smear their opponents, but also to distract from the fact that most Americans simply don’t agree with the Republican Party’s regressive position.

    The problem, in other words, isn’t just that guys like Trump and Murphy are lying. The problem is made worse by the fact that they feel like they need to lie in order to prevent more election defeats.

  88. says

    Vice President Kamala Harris will go to Tucson, Arizona on Friday. She will be there to “fight for reproductive freedoms.” Sounds right.

  89. says

    Tommy Tuberville’s line on Ukraine, Russia goes from bad to worse

    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul was surprisingly candid last week about one of his party’s most serious problems. “I think Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base,” the Texas Republican lamented.

    Five days later, House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, echoed the sentiment, conceding that some of his GOP colleagues are peddling rhetoric that’s “directly coming from Russia.”

    It was against this backdrop that right-wing Sen. Tommy Tuberville appeared on Newsmax yesterday to condemn U.S. aid to Ukraine as “waste.” The Alabama Republican added, in reference to Ukrainian leaders, “These people can’t buy any more houses than what they’ve bought. They’ve got beach houses all over the world.” [video at the link]

    The idea that Ukrainian officials are buying luxury goods with American taxpayers’ money is not new. It’s also pro-Russia disinformation.

    […] Two years ago, the Alabaman insisted that Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in order to acquire “more farmland,” because “he can’t feed his people.” […]

    In the months that followed, Tuberville repeatedly said Ukraine couldn’t prevail in a conflict against Russia — a line favored by the Kremlin — so it made sense for the United States to simply let Moscow prevail.

    A couple of months ago, after Putin told Tucker Carlson he’s interested in “peace,” the Republican lawmaker suggested that Russia’s authoritarian leader deserved the benefit of the doubt. Tuberville argued soon after that it was the United States that “forced” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    […] the Alabaman appeared on a radio show and said, “You can tell Putin’s on top of his game.” After complaining again that the United States was responsible for pushing Russia into a military offensive, Tuberville added in reference to Putin, “I can understand what he’s talking about.” [JFC]

    All of which leaves me with a lingering question: Why, exactly, is Tommy Tuberville still on the Senate Armed Services Committee

    Between his 2023 blockade that undermined his own country’s military, Tuberville’s ongoing disparagement of the American armed forces, his willingness to shift responsibility for the war in Ukraine away from Russia, and his newfound interest sharing absurdities about Ukrainian leaders, it’s hardly outlandish to think senators should have a conversation about whether it’s time to revisit his committee assignments.

  90. says

    Hamas has told negotiators it does not have 40 Israeli hostages that it can release as part of a temporary cease-fire deal with Israel, a source familiar with the talks confirmed to The Hill.

    The admission raises questions over how many of the remaining hostages kidnapped Oct. 7 are alive and who is holding them. Israel says 133 hostages out of more than 240 abducted that day — mostly Israelis and dual nationals — have yet to be released.

    The Biden administration is pushing a plan to have Israel and Hamas agree to a six to eight week cease-fire that is contingent on Hamas releasing hostages, a group that includes older men, civilians and both male and female Israeli soldiers who have been held for 187 days.

    […] Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, is passed the proposals through secret channels and then sends back a response, a procedure that is time-consuming and tedious. The timing for a response is believed to take a few days, Naeem said.

    The U.S. wants to see a deal to secure the release of hostages, but to also allow for a scale up of humanitarian aid delivery in the Gaza Strip. […]

    Link

  91. says

    Former CIA Director John Brennan criticized former President Trump in an interview with a Belgian state broadcaster published Sunday, saying Trump isn’t qualified to handle national security matters. […]

    “And he was especially trying to find out how we knew what we knew about Russian interference in the election,” Brennan continued.

    “According to me, he was not qualified at the time, and he is not qualified today. We could see in particular that he did not understand the importance of the United States’s relations with our foreign allies and partners. He has little recognition for the transatlantic relationship, for NATO.”

    In the interview, Brennan also expressed his concern about the former president not supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia.

    He said Trump can undermine Kyiv in a variety of ways, for example by telling American intelligence not to help Ukrainian counterparts or by cutting off financial and military aid.

    “And that would give Vladimir Putin the green light to try to almost swallow up Ukraine,” Brennan said. “And unfortunately, I think it will encourage [Russian President Vladimir Putin] to look hungrily toward the rest of Europe.”

    Brennan, who served as CIA director under former President Obama, is a frequent critic of his ex-boss’s successor. In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, Brennan said he planned to “ignore Trump” and would “leave his fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, [and] his legacy to a trash heap.”

    […] “After serving over three decades in national security, I felt compelled to condemn Trump’s depravity & incompetence.” […]

    Link

  92. says

    How Arizona Got Its Old-Fashioned Abortion Ban: Old-Fashioned Court Packing!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/how-arizona-got-its-old-fashioned

    Yesterday’s decision by the Arizona state supreme court to reinstate an 1864 ban on abortion has a lot of people scratching their heads and wondering how the hell that happened. After all, the statute was passed back when Arizona was only a territory and the freaking Civil War was still underway, and decades before statehood (1912) or the right of women to vote (1920).

    […] Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) has pledged not to enforce the rotten old law. The Arizona Republic also points out that Gov. Katie Hobbs (Also D), seeing this madness coming, issued an executive order giving the AG’s office sole authority to enforce abortion laws, although some ambitious county attorney hankering to send doctors to prison may sue to overturn it.

    […] backers of an initiative to amend Arizona’s constitution to protect abortion rights say they already have enough signatures to get it on the November ballot, and will keep collecting signatures until the July 3 deadline for submission. Seems like there might now be even more interest in that amendment, huh?

    But how did Arizona even end up with an abortion ban crafted when its territorial legislature had spittoons in every room so gentlemen wouldn’t stain the floor, at least not with their chaw? (Or, if you prefer, when Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were still busy working for the abolition of slavery, saving up women’s suffrage for after the war.)

    Instead of picking apart the “logic” of the Arizona Supremes’ decision, let’s look at the real reason: All seven of the justices were appointed by Republican governors, and back in 2016, the GOP-dominated state Lege expanded the court from five to seven members.

    Yes, that means that even if pissed-off Arizona voters choose not to retain the two justices up for election this fall, it will take years of voting to change the composition of the state supreme court, where justices serve six-year terms before voters have a chance to keep or toss them out.

    In a prescient 2020 article, Politico explained how Arizona packed its supreme court with rightwing ideologues, […]

    Of course, nothing in that process precluded Ducey from appointing the most right-leaning nominees on the list, and as Politico notes, he went out of his way to vet the potential candidates “with questions designed to ferret out a fidelity to textualism and an inclination to uphold, rather than overturn or tinker with, the law.”

    […] One of his preferred judges, Bill Montgomery, a rightwing prosecutor and “longtime ally of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” was vociferously opposed by the state ACLU and other good-government types when he applied to be a Supreme in 2019, and the commission rejected his application.

    […] the Arizona Supremes […] now consisted of seven conservatives and zero liberals. […]

    As demographic trends shift Arizona from a red state to purple, potentially even toward Democratic control, that won’t be reflected in its highest court. Thanks to the Republican-led expansion, the conservative makeup of Arizona’s Supreme Court likely will stay in place for more than a decade.

    […] if Arizona had been one of those swing states Donald Trump hoped to pick up, we’re fairly sure the state supreme court tipped the scales toward Biden yesterday, too — never mind the weird New York Times claim that the ladies will all forget by November. Silly ladies!

    The question for the long term is how long the outrage at being forced back to the 1860s will last, and whether successive retention elections will be able to whittle away those Ducey appointees sooner, or later.

  93. says

    Followup to comment 115.

    […] Trump had said let the states handle the issue. The Arizona court showed the full implications of that states’ rights strategy.

    […] Over the years, Trump has tried to have it all ways on the issue. In a 1999 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said: “I am very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. … I just believe in choice.” By 2011, at a time when he was thinking of running for president and had his eye on the Republican Party, he told the Conservative Political Action Conference, “I am pro-life.”

    When he ran for president the first time in 2016, he was asked by Chris Matthews, then of MSNBC, whether there should be punishment for abortion. “There has to be some form of punishment,” he said. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. Trump responded, “Yeah, there has to be some form.”

    In that campaign, he vowed to nominate justices to the high court who would vote to get rid of Roe. He made good on that promise and helped install three new members — Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — to give conservatives a 6-3 majority. Once the Dobbs case came before the court, Roe became history. Few decisions in recent years have had such an instantaneous political impact.

    […] Trump can make his own statements about state vs. national restrictions, but the debate set off by the Supreme Court nearly two years ago is not abating, as Arizona’s landmark decision Tuesday showed. Trump set this in motion, and now it is mostly out of his control.

    Washington Post link

  94. says

    After IDF retreat from Al-Shifa hospital, Palestinians sift through rubble for their dead

    Israel’s military carried out a brutal two-week raid at the hospital, leaving behind human remains that are now being pulled from the ground by recovery teams.

    It was quiet, grim work for a recovery team this week as it sifted through the rubble of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Shovels in hand, they unearthed what appeared to be a femur, a shoulder blade, the bones of a rib cage.

    For two weeks in March, the Israeli military carried out a devastating raid at Al-Shifa, once the pillar of the Gazan medical system. The siege raised fears for the safety of hundreds of civilians trapped inside.

    Since the Israel Defense Forces withdrew last week, Palestinian crews have so far recovered the bodies of more than 400 people from Al-Shifa, the surrounding neighborhoods and the southern city of Khan Younis, according to Mahmoud Basal, a spokesman for the Gaza Civil Defense.

    In a video recorded Monday by an NBC News crew, families watched as workers gathered remains, some of them little more than tattered clothing tangled around a cluster of bones and piled into white bags labeled “unidentified body.”

    “Unfortunately, the bodies are rotten, are cut into pieces because of the bulldozers,” said Khalil Hamada, the head of general forensics for the Ministry of Justice. Hamada said Israeli forces used bulldozers to bury the dead in the sandy soil of Al-Shifa.

    There are numerous shallow graves, and “many dead bodies were partially buried with their limbs visible,” with other bodies uncovered and exposed to the heat, the World Health Organization said Saturday.

    “Safeguarding dignity, even in death, is an indispensable act of humanity,” WHO said in a statement. In addition to those who were killed in the most recent offensive, in November, during the IDF’s first raid on Al-Shifa, hospital staff had been forced to bury 179 patients in a mass grave.

    Israeli forces alleged that the hospital was being used as a Hamas hub. Gaza’s Health Ministry said around 30,000 patients, medical staff members and displaced people were sheltering at the hospital, with both the IDF and Gazan authorities saying that hundreds were killed, and hundreds more taken into custody.

    “Where are they? We do not know if they were detained or buried underground. We want someone to help us. I appeal to all the world to stand with us,” Maha Swelem, a nurse at Al-Shifa, told NBC News in an interview in Arabic on Monday.

    During the siege, Swelem said that she was corralled into one of the hospital’s buildings, along with about 15 others. After Israeli soldiers shot four people “in front of my eyes,” Swelem said, they then took her husband, a volunteer paramedic. “I don’t know what happened to him yet,” she said. “Did they kill him and bury him?”

    Dr. Mutasim Salah, a member of a health emergency committee in Gaza, said “the smell of death” permeated the charred ruins of the hospital. But they were determined to keep working to identify the corpses, perhaps bring closure to mourning families […]

  95. says

    More of this Republican dumbfuckery: ‘On life support’: Senate Republicans are prepared to sink the child tax credit bill

    A $78 billion package of tax breaks for families and businesses passed the House on an overwhelming bipartisan vote. But key GOP senators demand big changes — or else.

    Senate Republicans are inching closer to burying a bipartisan bill to expand the child tax credit and provide breaks for businesses, issuing a series of demands that would most likely disrupt the coalition that enabled it to pass the House.

    The $78 billion bill, negotiated by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., passed the Republican-led House by a vote of 357-70 in January, a rare feat in a divided Congress that has struggled to function. But it has languished in the Senate, where key Republicans have said they’ll kill it unless it includes major revisions. Senate Democrats have 51 seats, and they need 60 votes to break a filibuster.

    But with tax filing season close to finishing and election-year politics heating up, there’s no hint of a resolution in sight. Democratic leaders are eager to pass the legislation, which, according to one analysis, would benefit about 16 million children in low-income households. Some Republicans openly warn they may sink it.

    Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., a member of the Finance Committee, said he’d be happy to see the entire tax bill fade away.

    “I hope so,” Tillis said, adding that it doesn’t have the necessary 60 votes to pass in the Senate today.

    […] The bill would expand child tax credits and lift the $1,600 cap on refundability and adjust it for inflation, with the biggest benefits going to multi-child families with low incomes. The bill also includes some business tax breaks, including for research and development and small-business expensing that were key to getting GOP support in the House.

    […] Crapo told NBC News on Tuesday that he still has problems with “a number” of provisions. He said he wants to eliminate a “look-back” policy that would let a taxpayer use a previous year’s income if it yielded a larger child tax credit, arguing that the current language weakens the work requirement. Saying the bill would “create entitlement spending that would generate significantly higher deficits,” he called for spending cuts to fund the child tax credit expansion.

    […] The Republican demands are a tall order. Crapo indicated that he isn’t satisfied with using changes to the employee retention tax credit as an offset; ditching that idea would require starting from scratch.

    Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass, the ranking member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, warned that major changes in the Senate would fracture the coalition in the House. He said there’s “no question” Senate Republicans are trying to sink the bill to deny President Joe Biden an achievement in an election year. […]

    Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, is the one who used the “on life support” description of the bill.

  96. says

    By delaying Mayorkas’ impeachment trial, GOP proves its critics right

    The more Republicans are accused of treating the impeachment process like a partisan toy, the more the party makes clear that those accusations are true.

    When former Rep. Ken Buck announced last month that he was resigning from Congress, the Colorado Republican made little effort to hide his disgust with the state of the institution. In fact, he pointed to one specific abuse — executed by his own party — that he found especially indefensible.

    “We’ve taken impeachment, and we’ve made it a social media issue as opposed to a constitutional concept,” Buck declared. “This place keeps going downhill.”

    He was referring, of course, to House Republicans’ decision two months ago to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — the first-ever impeachment of a sitting cabinet secretary — despite the inconvenient fact that the GOP couldn’t find any evidence of high crimes committed by the DHS chief.

    […] GOP officials keep proving their critics right. NBC News reported:

    House Speaker Mike Johnson will delay sending articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate until next week, his spokesman said, as Senate Republicans consider ways to inflict political pain on Democrats, including a threat to bring the upper chamber to a halt

    House GOP leaders could’ve sent the matter to the Senate in February, and if Republicans genuinely believed this was an urgent concern, they likely would’ve done just that. Instead, they waited two months and planned to advance the process today.

    But those plans were delayed — not for substantive reasons, but because the party is still trying to figure out how to have the most fun with their toy. As a Washington Post report summarized:

    Republican senators are widely skeptical that impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas meets the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors. But it’s an election year, after all, and Republicans have decided to rally around the border as an issue, using the impeachment trial as another cudgel against Democrats when voters are increasingly prioritizing border security as a top political issue.

    Under the original schedule, the Senate was going to receive the articles of impeachment against Mayorkas today, and Democratic members were set to vote tomorrow to either dismiss or table the articles. With 51 votes, the narrow Democratic majority was in a position to dismiss the matter swiftly — and since senators of both parties have a strong preference to leave Capitol Hill on Thursday afternoons, ahead of their three-day weekend, Republicans were unlikely to even try to drag the process out.

    […] The question isn’t whether the Senate will remove Mayorkas from office. It won’t. That would require 67 votes, which is an impossibility given that (a) every member of the Democratic majority, including West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, considers this charade ridiculous; and (b) several Republican senators have also conceded that this entire exercise is meritless.

    The question, rather, is whether GOP senators succeed in creating a pointless election-year spectacle, turning a serious constitutional power into a public-relations gambit.

  97. says

    Sounds like Marjorie Taylor Greene might be wearing out her welcome with Republicans in the House of Representatives. I’m glad to see that she might have been whacko enough long enough for her colleagues to start ignoring her.

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene welcomed Republicans back to work Tuesday with a five-page broadside attack on Speaker Mike Johnson, making sure everyone knows that she’s serious about her threat to try to oust him. Greene’s trying to foment more anger and division, and in one sense it’s working. The problem for her is that she’s made herself the target, as House members are sick of her constant political stunts.

    Johnson has presided over “a complete and total surrender to, if not complete and total lockstep with, the Democrats’ agenda that has angered our Republican base so much and given them very little reason to vote for a Republican House majority” Greene wrote. “As a matter of fact, if we win the House this fall, it will only be because President Trump is on the ballot, not because we have earned it.”

    Plenty of Republicans, however, aren’t buying it.

    Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas told CNN’s Manu Raju “It’s an impossible job. The Lord Jesus Himself could not manage this conference.” Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas added “I think Speaker Johnson is working his guts out, doing the best he can with a lot of feral cats.” [video at the link]

    They just don’t see Johnson as the problem here. “I think that most people are exhausted,” one House Republican told Axios. “Don’t bother us. Airing your grievances is unnecessary.”

    A bunch of Republicans Axios talked to are doing their best to ignore Greene’s latest:

    “I glanced at it,” said Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), adding, “I didn’t think much of it.”

    Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), asked if he read the letter, quipped, “I’m glad to say I was on the plane.”

    “I don’t plan to read it and I don’t plan to support her,” said Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.).

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Rep. Mike Carey (R-Ohio) when asked about the letter, adding, “whatever. I mean, it’s worthless … I’m not going to support that” and calling Greene’s threats “absolutely ridiculous.”

    Greene’s ideological allies—not her friends—in the Freedom Caucus were no more welcoming.

    Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said he “didn’t read” the letter and “I don’t think a motion to vacate makes any sense whatsoever.”

    “I have not looked at it yet,” said Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.), adding, “I don’t have any comment on anything she does.”

    Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said Greene “does have some good ideas” but “it’s time for us to be united on something, and our votes [on legislation] show where we are.”

    Nevertheless, Johnson had to take time out of yet another chaotic day to placate Greene. He had a private meeting with her in his office, with a whole bunch of flowers, no less. It didn’t work. [MTG on if she would describe the Johnson meeting as productive: “He’d have to completely change everything he’s done to be productive.]

    Link

  98. says

    Mikey Weinstein: “It’s Project 2025, Stupid”

    Back in 1992, political consultant James Carville coined the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” to help explain the essence of what was then at stake in the pending Presidential election between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

    Carville was intending to boil down to the most basic explanative brevity of the true grit of what that next election was all about.

    […] Most voters are completely unaware of an impossibly wretched set of policy proposals developed by a slew of ignoble right-wing entities but spearheaded by the ultra-conservative, MAGA-worshipping Heritage Foundation. Ready? It’s called “Project 2025.” Its official name is “The Presidential Transition Project.”

    […] Before you do ANYthing else please, Please, PLEASE click the links in the next two paragraphs and, well, BEHOLD! Just LOOK at the mind-blowing hellscape of what is left of America if this wickedly evil, anti-Constitutional, anti-democratic, and wholly fundamentalist Christian nationalist screed, born from the ignominious depths of the shameful, stinking MAGA [ideology], is EVER allowed to be wielded like a flame thrower upon our nation’s way-too-naive-and-sedentary population.

    Project 2025 plans to purge the government of tens of thousands of non-MAGA personnel and replace them with MAGA loyalists are already well under way. The goal, according to a must-read Axios article, is “to install a pre-vetted, pro-Trump army of up to 54,000 loyalists across government to rip off the restraints imposed on the previous 46 presidents.” The vetting process includes filling out Project 2025’s “Presidential Personnel Database & Presidential Administration Academy Questionnaire.” Prospective appointees will attend the “Presidential Administration Academy” to be ready “on Day One” to “immediately begin rolling back destructive policy and advancing conservative ideas in the federal government.”

    Project 2025’s plans for the military are equally sweeping, as laid out in the 920-page Project 2025 book Mandate for Leadership. Fundamentalist Christian chaplains will be unfettered in their proselytizing, the most senior flag officers (three and four stars) will be “instructed” to make sure they’re “not pursuing a social engineering agenda,” courses at the military academies will be audited “to remove Marxist indoctrination” and tenure for (presumably non-MAGA) professors will be eliminated. And, of course, the current policies that allow transgender individuals to serve will be reversed.

    We at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (mrff.org) fight ‘round-the-clock to prevent our nation’s military, its 18 intelligence agencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Maritime Service from EVER being transformed into a fatal force multiplier for the blood-thirsty MAGA maniacs who developed and plan to implement Project 2025, fueled by the appalling propellant of fundamentalist Christian nationalism. And we at MRFF have been, are, and will continue to be the direct targets of the cowardly wrath of these same MAGA villains.

    (To this end, please see Margaret Atwood’s disturbingly dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale or the TV series of the same name streaming on Hulu).

    […] It will savagely terminate justice, freedom, and democracy in America. It will turn our United States military into the quintessential nightmare of a zombie army of imperious, fundamentalist Christian crusaders. […]

    There is still some small amount of time left to spread the word and try to wake up our friends and family […]

    The answer is beyond obvious lest we ever wonder why the America we all grew up in has pervertedly morphed into the murderously oppressive, repulsive, Christian nationalist country of “Gilead” in Atwood’s seminal book referenced above.

    It’s Project 2025, stupid!

    Link

  99. robro says

    Re the impeachment as a political stunt: in part what the Republicans are trying to do is convince people that what they were saying about Trump’s impeachments is credible. “We’re just doing what the Democrats did to Trump.” Except, of course, there was credible evidence of Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But by playing this game, they undermine the credibility of all impeachments which is what they want.

  100. says

    Followup to comment 119.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/look-its-a-nice-time-state-child

    While it’s easy to find yourself riding a bummer from all the news lately, what with the Arizona abortion ruling and one party’s ongoing attempts to undermine democracy, we’d just like to call y’all in from the ledge now and then to remind you that there are also lots of pretty decent people who believe governing is about making people’s lives better, too — which is, after all, what politics ought to be about.

    So let’s all have a breather from the gloom and celebrate the fact that, with tax season upon us, 14 states — it should be all, but 14 is a start! — are taking a page from the 2021 American Rescue Plan and have put in place their own versions of an expanded child tax credit, aimed at reducing child poverty. States lack the tax base to replicate the 2021 credit’s wide-scale poverty reductions, which largely disappeared when the temporary credit ended. But the simple fact remains: When parents have more money to spend on their kids, kids benefit tremendously because they’re better fed, better able to learn in school, and less affected by the constant uncertainties of poverty. […]

    So here’s a nice-time New Republic look at three of the states that have the nation’s newest expanded tax credits: Minnesota, Oregon, and, a bit of a surprise, Utah (it’s a crazy red state in so many ways, but also a place where “the general welfare” part of the Preamble still gets some love.) [Utah is also a state where many mormon patriarchs encourage women to have as many children as possible. Utah legislators have mixed motives.]

    Minnesota

    The most generous of the three (or of any state) is in Minnesota, where Gov. Tim Walz is all in on fighting child poverty.

    “I’ve told my team, ‘This might be the single biggest impact of anything we did while governor,’” said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz about his state’s child tax credit, which he said could reduce child poverty in the state by 33 percent. “I don’t even know if we can categorize all of the positive impacts that it will make down the road.”

    The Minnesota credit allows up to $1,750 per child aged up to 18, for households making $29,500 for one parent or up to $35,000 for joint filers; beyond that, families can still get a partial credit that phases out with more income. Walz says that since the credit was passed last year, it’s been claimed for about 360,000 Minnesota kids, with an average benefit of $2,071 per family. That’s a lot of shoes and school supplies and after-school sandwiches, or other things kids need.

    Also, like the 2021 federal expansion, most of the state child tax credits are “fully refundable,” meaning that parents can get the full credit even if they don’t earn enough to pay taxes.

    Oregon

    Oregon’s credit is a bit more limited: It’s available only to families with children under six years of age, and pays up to $1,000 per child. Its income limits are stricter, too: The full benefit is only available to folks making $25,000 or less, and then phases out sharply at $30,000. That’s actually below the minimum wage for workers in Portland, which is a bit over $30K. (Oregon’s minimum wage varies by location, from a 2023 low of $13.20 in non-urban areas to $15.45 in the Portland metro area; it’s also adjusted annually based on inflation.)

    Even with the lower benefit,

    The Oregon Center for Public Policy, an advocacy group that supports the credit, estimates that around 55,000 children in the state are eligible and that 5,000 could be lifted out of poverty. According to a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Revenue, the state has 27,000 tax returns claiming the credit and has paid out more than $30 million in credits thus far.

    The OCPP also has been working with the state on outreach, through radio ads and other efforts, to let poor families know that in order to get the tax credit, they do need to file a tax return, even if they don’t make enough income to be taxed. […] ideally, the state ought to set up an online portal so people can apply for the credit, like the feds did for low-income families in 2021. […]

    Utah

    And then there’s Utah, which is the stingiest of the three new state credits, but still better than most red states (to set the lowest bar possible) and heck, better than a lot of blue states too:

    Utah’s newly implemented credit is not fully refundable, meaning that it is not available to parents whose income tax burden is zero. The law went into effect this year, meaning that Utahns will not be able to claim it until next spring. The credit of up to $1,000 was initially written to only be accessible for children ages 1 through 3, although the state legislature recently passed a measure to include children aged 4, beginning with the 2024 tax year. According to the organization Voices for Utah’s Children, no family will receive the full $1,000 credit.

    […] it’s something at least, while other red states seem intent on helping low-income families by bringing back child labor.

    At the federal level, there’s still that modest expansion of the child tax credit that passed the House in February. It remains stalled in the Senate, mostly because Idaho Republican Mike Crapo is a big asshole, and while negotiations continue, it’s not looking great.

    Might be neat to reelect Joe Biden in November and give him Manchin-free majorities in the House and Senate too, wouldn’t it? Kids really could use the help. Why, if we took a big, permanent bite out of child poverty, the long-term benefits for this country would be … oh, there we go again, thinking like a Democrat.

  101. says

    robro @123, good point.

    In other news: If Mike Johnson Won’t Fund Ukraine For Normal Moral Reasons, Maybe He’ll Do It For Gay-Hatin’ Extremist Reasons!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/if-mike-johnson-wont-fund-ukraine

    Here’s a weird one to throw on your radar. Jonathan Larsen at The Fucking News — it’s a real news source, don’t let the ribald language fool delicate Wonkette readers! — reports that this week there is “quiet optimism” that weak and sad Christian extremist House Speaker Mike Johnson will finally be able to muscle (we use the verb loosely) aid for Ukraine through the House.

    Did he finally realize that being on the side of Putin the genocidal fascist was bad? Ha ha, not exactly. It’s more that there may be other Christian extremists in his ear, evangelical Ukrainians to be specific, who have been laying the groundwork to win support from Johnson (and from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy) for their radicalized anti-LGBTQ+ Christian plans for Ukraine.

    Surprise, this is all tied up with the National Prayer Breakfasts held in the United States and elsewhere, and with The Family, the extremist Christians who put them on. (If you’re thinking, wait, aren’t these the folks who have such a bad habit of traveling to Uganda and giving them support for their Kill The Gays bills? Yes.)

    There are a lot of details to absorb and lots of links to click, so we’ll do our best to summarize as succinctly as possible, and then send you to Larsen for your rabbitholing.

    Evangelicals are a very small minority in Ukraine, like two percent, but the gist of their argument is that Vladimir Putin and his state-run Russian Orthodox Christianity are the enemy of their religious freedom. (Both sides hate LGBTQ+ people, they just wear different frocks, you’d think they could fucking get over it. Ha ha, just described the history of Christianity.)

    Apparently, Zelenskyy has just agreed to give this little group of evangelical Ukrainians their own national prayer breakfast, which they can use for their anti-LGBTQ+ networking.

    Back in January, three evangelical Ukrainian leaders and a member of parliament named Pavlo Unguryan, whom Larsen describes as one of the most important evangelicals in Ukraine, delivered a letter to Mike Johnson, basically laying out how their religious freedom — you know what that means when these types say it — was under attack. In other words, a message tailor-made for a perpetually aggrieved white Christian extremist like Johnson.

    “It was important for brother Mike,” said [Valerii Antoniuk, head of the All-Ukrainian Union of the Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists], “to hear the voice of fellow believers.”

    Like we were saying, tailor-made.

    Antoniuk described the discussion in theocratic terms, calling for “friendly fraternal conversation between the two Christian nations, because both America and Ukraine are countries that are based on faith in Jesus Christ.”

    Uh huh.

    The common enemy? “Russia and other forces of darkness,” said Unguryan. […]

    And Unguryan gave Johnson an inventory of how these dark forces have assaulted Christianity: “[D]estroying churches, killing and persecuting pastors and priests, kidnapping children and raping babies.”

    All terrible! But again, we wonder who they’re lumping in with old Putin.

    Is it the gays? Tell us if it’s the gays.

    Anyway, Larsen says these Ukrainian evangelical dudes met with Zelenskyy just this past week and begged him for a prayer breakfast. It’s not a meal request, these prayer breakfasts are big networking, crusading, world-domination shit for these freaks. Reportedly, it’s the only thing they begged him for.

    Zelenskyy, meanwhile, needed their help in trying to influence the very Americans currently holding up direly needed aid for his country. So, as Larsen says, they needed something from each other.

    Larsen has much more background on who these creeps are, the foul souls in the American evangelical movement they’re connected with, and which lawmakers in the US are listening to them. (The rabbitholing to which we referred!) Read it all, but here’s how he concludes:

    If Republicans in the coming days do back Johnson, and agree to fund Ukraine’s fight, it may be thanks to a campaign to frame it as a battle for religious freedom. And if that’s the case, it may be thanks to a covert diplomatic effort pursued over months by Family evangelicals, with an eye toward shaping Ukraine’s future in their god’s image.

    […] Lotta fuckin’ gray area in the world, isn’t there?

  102. says

    It’s five months in Rikers for the Trump Org’s nebbishy, now balder former CFO Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty March 4 to two counts of perjury and admitted to being a lying liar in depositions and on the stand at Trump’s New York civil fraud trial last year.

    In a short hearing, Judge Laurie Peterson asked Weisselberg if he had anything to say, and he grumbled “no, your honor.” Then bailiffs shackled up the septuagenarian for a roll on the gray goose, and he was back to the digs where he spent 100 days for tax fraud last year […] while his old boss still remains free […]

    You’ll recall last October this geezer was abruptly tweezered off the stand in Judge Arthur Engoron’s courtroom like a tick off a coonhound, hours after Forbes reporter Dan Alexander published a piece pointedly titled “Trump’s Longtime CFO Lied, Under Oath, About Trump Tower Penthouse” and delivered the receipts.

    “I never focused on the triplex, to be honest with you,” Allen had been la-di-dah’ing on the stand. “It was almost de minimis relative to his net worth, so I really didn’t focus on it… I never even thought about the apartment.” […]

    But, in fact, Big Don and Allen had been obsessively humping Forbes’ leg for years trying to get reporters to accept a ridiculously inflated size and value for his gaudy aerie, one that would prove to the world that Donny Don was really Richie Rich rich and deserved to be higher on the magazine’s rich people ranking.

    In 2012, AW pestered Forbes reporters that the apartment was worth $88 million, then in 2013, $200 million, and in 2014, okay, maybe Forbes could pretty please say it was worth $163 million? Hey, stop laughing! Then in a 2020 deposition, he claimed he “didn’t know” about the “error” that tripled the triplex’s size.

    By the way, AW’s previous 100-day tax fraud sentence was handed down by none other than Judge Juan M. Merchan, who will be presiding over Trump’s porny peener payoff trial starting Monday. Allen figures bigly as the guy who signed off on the payments, though CNN reports that as part of the deal he will not have to testify against Big Donnie for this one. Which is just as well because Allen’s good for nothing but perjury and amnesia, and the state’s got no lack of receipts.

    Merchan had some pointy words for Allen back then, letting him know he was lucky he got a sweetheart deal with 100 days: “I would be imposing a sentence much greater than that. I’m not going to deviate from the promise, though I believe a stiffer sentence is warranted, having heard the evidence.”

    So much for trying to make an honest man of him.

    Twenty years ago, Allen and wife Hilary bought themselves a home down the road from Mar-a-Lago in Florida, where they coulda woulda shoulda been spending their golden years, if Allen had just agreed to tell the truth. Makes you wonder what kind of kompromat Trumpistan has on Allen? Or Stockholm syndrome? Like Waylon Smithers, Weisselberg was whelped by the company, going straight from college to working for Old Klannie Fred back in the ‘70s. Guess we’ll never really know what’s in that guy’s head, unless he writes a prison memoir. Oh well, see you in five months, Allen […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/trump-org-cfo-allen-weisselberg-back

  103. birgerjohansson says

    Anton Petrov:
    “Important Mars Discoveries: Megatsunami Crater, Ancient Lakes and The Planet is Still Active”

  104. tomh says

    NBC News:
    New York appeals judge rejects Trump’s third legal challenge to delay hush money criminal trial
    Adam Reiss, Lisa Rubin, Dareh Gregorian and Zoë Richards / April 10, 2024

    A New York appeals court judge on Wednesday denied a third effort in three days by Donald Trump’s attorneys to put on hold the former president’s impending criminal trial.

    Associate Justice Ellen Gesmer for the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York denied Trump’s third legal challenge to delay the trial after a pair of state appeals court judges rejected similar efforts by Trump on Monday and Tuesday to pause the hush money trial, which is set to begin April 15 with jury selection.

    The court docket for the state Appellate Division showed Trump’s attorneys filed the challenge as a lawsuit invoking a provision of New York law known as Article 78. Article 78 challenges allow litigants, whether in ongoing litigation or otherwise, to seek relief from allegedly unlawful state or local government action. The documents were filed under seal.

    Trump attorney Emil Bove presented a grab-bag of arguments for a stay during an emergency hearing Wednesday, including reiterating his stance that the proceedings be paused while Trump challenges what Bove called the “unacceptable and unconstitutional restrictions” handed down by Judge Juan Merchan in a partial gag order last month that was expanded days later.

    Bove also argued that Merchan’s ruling last week that rejected his bid to use presidential immunity as part of his defense, which found the former president waited too long to raise the issue, was in excess of his authority…

    Bove also suggested that Merchan has been “operating under an appearance of impropriety,” citing the political work by the judge’s daughter on behalf of the political firm Authentic Campaigns, which worked with President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020. He said the judge should remove himself from the case because of the alleged “conflict.”

    Lisa Evans, a prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, pushed back, arguing…
    “There is no evidence that Judge Merchan stands to benefit from the trial,” Evans said.

    Steven Wu, another prosecutor for the DA’s office, called Bove’s arguments “completely meritless” and suggested that delaying the trial could create conflicts with Trump’s legal proceedings elsewhere.

    The hearing got underway shortly after 4 p.m. ET.

  105. says

    Washington Post:

    The top U.S. general overseeing military operations in Europe warned lawmakers Wednesday that the war in Ukraine has reached a decisive moment, with Russia expected to hold a 10-1 advantage on artillery shells ‘within weeks’ unless the United States approves additional military support for the government in Kyiv.

  106. says

    Reuters:

    U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida touted increased joint military cooperation and a new missile defense system on Wednesday, strengthening their alliance with an eye on aggressive actions by China and Russia. ‘This is the most significant upgrade in our alliance since it was first established,’ Biden said at a joint White House news conference with Kishida, after about two hours of talks that focused on the restive Indo-Pacific region, Ukraine and the Gaza conflict.

  107. says

    New York Times:

    He called for 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave, large investments in preschool for 4-year-olds, the extension of a child tax credit to help working families, and investments to give families access to high-quality child care for $10 per day.

  108. says

    NBC News:

    For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency has established national limits for six types of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water. The substances, known by the initialism PFAS, are nicknamed ‘forever chemicals’ because they barely degrade and are nearly impossible to destroy, so they can linger permanently in air, water and soil.

  109. says

    Today’s Episode Of ‘Donald Trump Tells Jewish And Black People How They Should Act’
    It’s kind of a thing white supremacists do.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/todays-episode-of-donald-trump-tells

    Donald Trump spoke to the press this morning:

    “Any Jewish person that votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden should have their head examined!”

    He had just called Joe Biden a low-IQ individual. Remember, Trump says he aced a dementia test, therefore he is qualified to speak on this.

    So that’s what the white supremacist said today.

    Yesterday, Trump told lunatic right-wing host Wayne Allyn Root his fascinating theory for why Jewish and Black people don’t vote for him, saying among other things that Jewish people who vote for Biden “should be spoken to,” while also reasserting that any Jewish person who votes for Biden doesn’t love Israel. […]

    DONALD TRUMP: They don’t want to talk about the attack of October 7 on Israel, because Biden is, is, no fan of Israel. Any Jewish person that votes for Biden does not love Israel. And frankly, should be spoken to.

    How a Jewish person person can vote for Biden is — or a Democrat, because they are on the side, 100%, of the Palestinians, and he doesn’t know how to get out of it. He’s stuck. But he is — if you look at what he’s done — he is totally on the side of the Palestinians. [Sheesh. Trump is so stupid. Trump is so ill-informed. Old fashioned version of a simpleton.]

    And frankly, it’s incredible that historically Jewish people vote for Democrats. To me, I cannot. And I know you’re Jewish, Wayne, and I know you vote for me, but I don’t understand it. And you probably don’t understand it either. […]

    But, you know, it’s just an amazing thing. Maybe it’s just a bad habit when you vote for a Democrat, but I don’t know how anybody that’s Jewish could vote for a Democrat. […]

    I think a lot of it’s habit, Wayne. A lot of it’s habit. I see you caught on to that when I said it initially in the program.

    Trump and Root continued to agree that it was just a bad habit, like eating all the Oreos at midnight or smoking drugs. God, he just babbles:

    TRUMP: I think a lot of it is habit, Wayne. A lot of it’s habit. I see you caught on to that when I said it initially in the program.

    ROOT: Yep. It’s habit.

    TRUMP: A lot of it’s habit.

    ROOT: That’s all it is. And it’s changing!

    TRUMP: Jewish people by habit just, they vote for the Democrats. And Black people, by habit, vote for the Democrats.

    ROOT: Right.

    Sure thing.

    This has been another edition of Donald Trump explains how The Blacks and The Jews should act.

  110. says

    Judge tosses Miami’s voting map over racial gerrymandering

    A federal judge in Florida tossed out Miami’s city district maps on Wednesday, ruling that the city racially gerrymandered for decades, throwing the electoral future of the city into question.

    A group of civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and NAACP, sued Miami in 2022, claiming that its makeup of council districts illegally segregated residents because the city explicitly sorted districts by ethnic makeup.

    Judge Michael Moore agreed in his ruling Wednesday.

    “By sorting its citizens based on race, the City reduced Miamians to no more than their racial backgrounds, thereby denying them the equal protection of the laws that the Fourteenth Amendment promises,” Moore wrote.

    The Miami Herald reported that during 2022 public hearings, city commissioners said they intended to make sure the commission would be made up of three Hispanic members, one Black member and one white member.

    The next city elections are set for 2025, though the ruling opens the door to potential special elections after new maps are decided. Moore said he will set a date for plaintiffs and the city to meet and discuss next steps.

    “Today is another win for democracy and equal representation,” ACLU of Florida attorney Nicholas Warren, said in a statement. “Our Constitution protects against racial gerrymandering, which the city of Miami egregiously violated. We look forward to another remedial process that finally ensures voters can choose their representatives, rather than politicians choosing their voters.” […]

  111. says

    Shooting at Ramadan celebration in Philadelphia wounds 3; 5 people arrested

    Two groups exchanged gunfire in a park during an event attended by about 1,000 people, police said.

    A shooting during an event to mark the end of Ramadan in Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon left three people wounded, and five suspects have been arrested, police said.

    The incident occurred about 2:30 p.m. at Clara Muhammad Square on 47th Street and Wyalusing Avenue in West Philadelphia, according to NBC Philadelphia.

    Two factions appeared to be exchanging gunfire in the park, and police officers saw four people fleeing the scene, Police Commissioner Kevin J. Bethel told reporters. He said about 30 gunshots erupted in a park where about 1,000 people were gathered.

    “We are very, very fortunate today that we did not have more individuals shot and anyone killed,” Bethel said. He lauded police and attendees for their bravery and actions. He said some at the event “grabbed kids and got them out of harm’s way. It was a collective effort today for those who are attending the event, as well as our police officers.”

    One of the officers engaged a 15-year-old boy who had a weapon and shot him in a shoulder and a leg, Bethel said.

    Three people were shot — one in an exchange of gunfire most likely before police arrived, another by police gunfire and a child who was shot in the hand from unknown gunfire — Bethel said. […]

  112. KG says

    If Republicans in the coming days do back Johnson, and agree to fund Ukraine’s fight, it may be thanks to a campaign to frame it as a battle for religious freedom. And if that’s the case, it may be thanks to a covert diplomatic effort pursued over months by Family evangelicals, with an eye toward shaping Ukraine’s future in their god’s image.

    […] Lotta fuckin’ gray area in the world, isn’t there? – Lynna, OM@125 quoting wonkette

    I’d say “Yes in general, not so much here.” If Putin conquers Ukraine, it will (among other and even greater horrors) fall under the religious hegemony of the Russian Orthodox Church. I am by no means a Zelensky fan, but if he can successfully play these repulsive theocrats in the desperate struggle to get weapons to Ukraine, good on him.

  113. KG says

    Sorry about the blockquote fail@141 – I’ll write that again, with blockquoting.

    If Republicans in the coming days do back Johnson, and agree to fund Ukraine’s fight, it may be thanks to a campaign to frame it as a battle for religious freedom. And if that’s the case, it may be thanks to a covert diplomatic effort pursued over months by Family evangelicals, with an eye toward shaping Ukraine’s future in their god’s image.

    […] Lotta fuckin’ gray area in the world, isn’t there? – Lynna, OM@125 quoting wonkette

    I’d say “Yes in general, not so much here.” If Putin conquers Ukraine, it will (among other and even greater horrors) fall under the religious hegemony of the Russian Orthodox Church. I am by no means a Zelensky fan, but if he can successfully play these repulsive theocrats in the desperate struggle to get weapons to Ukraine, good on him.

  114. birgerjohansson says

    Phys.org has an article about the possibility of an earthquake at the San Andreas fault soon. Makes sense- the ‘Zorin’ Bond villain is coming back as emperor Shaddam IV .

  115. says

    RNC Co-Chair Lara Trump recently said the party is leaving 2020 election conspiracy theories “in the past.” There’s fresh evidence that she didn’t mean it.

    Sigh. Of course the lie continues. Just causing more trouble.

    NBC News recently caught up with Republican National Committee Co-Chair Lara Trump, who assured the public that her party is no longer interested in litigating her father-in-law’s 2020 defeat.

    “I think we’re past that. I think that’s in the past,” she said, adding, “The past is the past.”

    […] The Washington Post reported that the RNC has effectively adopted a litmus test for new employees, demanding to know during job interviews whether they believe the 2020 election was stolen. Or put another way, the RNC needs employees, and only election deniers and “big lie” proponents need apply.

    I assumed the reporting would face significant pushback from within the party. It did not. As Axios reported soon after, Trump campaign officials conceded that prospective RNC hires have been asked about their support for election conspiracy theories, though the campaign officials added that the questions were intended to determine whether applicants are “curious” and can “think through complex problems.” [scoff]

    No, really, that’s what they said — as if embracing transparent nonsense for which there is literally no evidence is emblematic of someone who excels in critical thinking.

    But wait, there’s more. CNN reported:

    The Republican National Committee last week sent out a scripted call to voters’ phones on behalf of new co-chair Lara Trump saying Democrats committed “massive fraud” in the 2020 election. It’s the latest example of how the RNC under the former president’s daughter-in-law is perpetuating lies about the 2020 election, even as prominent Republicans say the party needs to look forward to win in 2024.

    What was that Lara Trump was saying about the party leaving its bonkers conspiracy theories being “in the past”?

    Stepping back, there’s no shortage of Republican insiders who desperately want Donald Trump and his team to move past their focus on 2020, if for no other reason than to appeal to mainstream voters who have no use for such a message.

    But for reasons the former president and his political operation haven’t yet explained in a coherent way, they just can’t seem to help themselves.

  116. says

    Donald Trump and Mike Johnson — two leading election deniers — are going to hold a joint event focused on “election integrity.” What could go wrong?

    […] [I snipped history of other Republicans debasing themselves by traveling to Mar-a-Lago to figuratively kneel before Trump]

    NBC News reported:

    House Speaker Mike Johnson will travel to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Friday for remarks about “election integrity” with Trump, two sources directly familiar with the plans confirmed. … CNN first reported plans for the remarks.

    So let me see if I have this straight. On the one hand, there’s Trump — a prolific liar who’s spent the last several years peddling bonkers conspiracy theories about his election defeat. On the other hand, there’s Johnson — a far-right congressman who helped spearhead an ill-fated effort to convince the Supreme Court to keep Trump in power despite the voters’ verdict, and who voted with his party to reject certifying the results of a free and fair election.

    Johnson also echoed some of the wilder conspiracy theories about the race, and more than three years later, the Louisiana Republican is still reluctant to acknowledge the legitimacy of the 2020 elections

    These two are going to hold a joint event focused on “election integrity,” with the expectation that people will take their rhetoric seriously.

    As for why, exactly, this Mar-a-Lago event is happening, I’m reminded of the “it’s good for both of us” line Trump apparently delivered to McCarthy.

    Johnson, for example, continues to fail as a legislator, and one of his most radical members recently launched an effort to oust him from the speaker’s office. The GOP leader’s calculus seems pretty straightforward: Facing an uncertain fate, Johnson is likely to benefit from being seen alongside his party’s presumptive nominee and most powerful voice.

    Johnson, in other words, needs a hand, and he’s looking to Trump to provide him with one. Indeed, a Politico report noted that the Mar-a-Lago gathering was an idea pitched by the speaker’s office, not the former president’s team.

    As for what’s in it for Trump, Politico’s report added that he gets “the country’s highest-ranking Republican to lend credence to his voting concerns.”

  117. says

    After Speaker Mike Johnson again failed to advance a key priority, House Republicans met behind closed doors. The result was described as “pure chaos.”

    All is not well in the Republican-led House of Representatives. Resignations in the chamber have reached a generational high. Legislative progress has slowed to a pace unseen in nearly a century. Lawmakers have struggled mightily to complete basic tasks. House Speaker Mike Johnson recently organized a retreat focused on unifying his conference, and most of his members didn’t show up.

    Soon after, one of the party’s most radical members launched an effort to oust the incumbent House speaker, which comes six months after the previous ouster of the last House speaker.

    A recent Punchbowl News report concluded, “This is the most chaotic, inefficient and ineffective majority we’ve seen in decades covering Congress.”

    Can things get worse in the chamber? Of course they can. NBC News reported:

    A band of hard-right agitators, backed by former President Donald Trump, revolted against GOP leaders Wednesday, blocking renewal of a powerful surveillance program that is set to expire next week and throwing the GOP-led House into chaos once again.

    This vote was months in the making. GOP leaders invested real time and effort into advancing a compromise bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a law first approved in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack covering warrantless surveillance of non-Americans. But when Johnson and his team brought the bill to the floor, 19 of their own members ignored their party’s leadership on a key procedural “rule” vote.

    In theory, members of the Democratic minority could’ve saved the House speaker — again — but Johnson included provisions in the bill criticizing President Joe Biden’s foreign policy in the Middle East from the right, which led all House Democrats to balk.

    The final tally was 193 to 228.

    In case anyone needs a refresher on what adopting a “rule” is all about, it’s a routine part of the process: Before a bill can be voted on, members adopt a measure to establish ground rules for the length of the debate, how it can be amended, etc. In nearly every instance, it’s little more than a procedural speed bump, because members vote with their parties to begin the process, even if they’re skeptical of the underlying legislation.

    During Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s tenure as House speaker, for example, she literally never lost a “rule” vote. […]

    Over the last or so year, however, GOP leaders have lost seven “rule” votes: Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy lost three, and incumbent Speaker Johnson has now lost four.

    […] After the vote, Axios reported, “House Republicans emerged from a conference meeting on Wednesday afternoon with little clarity on how the House plans to move forward on a key federal surveillance bill that was blocked by right-wing hardliners.”

    The report quoted Republican Rep. Max Miller of Ohio, who described his party’s behind-closed-doors conference meeting as “pure chaos,” adding, “It wasn’t productive at all. It’s never productive. Members yell at each other.”

    I wrote a book a few years ago about Republicans abandoning their role as a governing party. […]

    As for the near future, NBC News’ report went on to note, “It’s unclear whether Congress will be able to renew 702, which the administration says is a critical national security tool, before it expires on April 19,” which is a week from tomorrow. Watch this space.

  118. says

    America’s 806 Billionaires Are Now Richer Than Half the Population Combined—a Lot Richer

    They have 57 percent more wealth, all told, than 65 million US households.

    […] As of April 1, according to the latest analysis of Forbes data by the nonprofit Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), the combined wealth of the nation’s 806 billionaires—their population rises and falls with the markets—had reached a record $5.8 trillion. That’s more than $7 billion a head and nearly double their total holdings in late 2017, when congressional Republicans unilaterally rammed through a package of widely unpopular tax “reforms” skewed in favor of America’s most affluent.

    Even after adjusting for the high inflation that has plagued us these past few years, billionaires have seen a 57 percent gain in their collective wealth since the so-called Trump tax cuts took effect. That legislation was a feeding frenzy for corporate lobbyists. […]

  119. says

    Well, about time. Some Republicans are now hating on Tucker Carlson.

    Here is a tweet from Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, about how Tucker Carlson is garbage:

    This is who Tucker is: a click-chaser. Tucker’s MO is simple: defend America’s enemies and attack America’s allies. There isn’t an objective bone left in that washed up news host’s body. Mindless contrarianism is his guiding principle, buttressed by his childish tactic to “juSt aSK quEsTiOns!”

    But any educated adult, especially one with such a long career in journalism, should occasionally try *answering* some of those questions objectively.

    But he never does. Instead, he uses his platform to sow doubt and paranoia and false narratives.

    He does this for one simple reason: clicks and engagement, which of course translate to monetary benefit. He wants you to believe he is the last place you can go to for truth, that he’s the ONLY one brave enough to reveal the elitist lies being told.

    This nonsense about Christian mistreatment in Israel is just the latest example.

    Tucker will eventually fade into nothingness, because his veneer of faux intellectualism is quickly falling apart and revealing who he truly is: a cowardly, know-nothing elitist who is full of shit.

    [more quotes from people being angry at Tucker Carlson are available at the link]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/why-does-everybody-hate-tucker-carlson

  120. says

    […] Trump bought 30 milkshakes at this Atlanta area Chick-Fil-A, like a real rich person does. The women behind the counter lined up and smiled at him […]

    Trump told them, “I know this menu better than you do. I probably know it better than anybody in here.” A lot of very fine people have been talking about how well Donald Trump knows the Chick-Fil-A menu. […]

    Jimmy Kimmel covered that and other news. Video at the link. [Kimmel fact checks a few of Trump’s more obvious lies that Trump blathered at the Chick-Fil-A]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/trump-went-to-the-chick-fil-a-in

  121. quotetheunquote says

    @ Lynna #153:

    Damn! “I agree wtih Dan Crenshaw” was definitely not on my bingo card for 2024 – or any year, for that matter.

  122. says

    Good News, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    In North Carolina, the latest Quinnipiac University poll found the state’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Stein, with a growing lead over Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, 52% to 44%.

    […] In related news, ABC News has a new report on Robinson’s troubled financial history: The right-wing lieutenant governor has not only filed for bankruptcy three times, ABC News’ report added also failed to file his federal income taxes several times.

    Robinson is the guy who thinks women should not be allowed to vote (among many other obnoxious views), and he has been endorsed by Trump … so, the more we see a Democratic candidate likely to defeat him, the better.

  123. says

    You’ll Be Shocked to the Learn Guy Who Passed 1864 Arizona Law Banning Abortion Was a Pedophile

    Or maybe you won’t be. WaPo has a very interesting article today about the guy who, as Speaker of the House, helped pass the 1864 law that bans all abortion in Arizona:

    The time has come to reflect on the life and times — especially the times — of William Claude Jones.

    Jones was a “prevaricator, a poet, a politician and the pursuer of nubile young females,” according to a 1990 article published in the Journal of Arizona History, which appears to be the most comprehensive biographical report published on the life of the 19th-century rogue.

    Barf.

    The article doesn’t mention the age of his first wife. But the age of his second?

    His next wife was a girl whose name was believed to be Maria v. del Refugio, writes L. Boyd Finch, the author of the journal article. New Mexico’s delegate to Washington, Miguel Otero, was bothered by the union. He “declared that the bride was twelve years old,” Finch writes, “and that Jones had ‘abducted’ her.” Otero petitioned President James Buchanan to fire Jones for the moral failing, but Jones resigned instead.

    But wait! There’s more!

    No matter! The mid-19th century was, by any standard you or I would recognize, a hideous place for women. The predatory relationship did not end Jones’s political career; he merely moved farther west, to the Arizona territory. There, Jones supported secession from the Southern states in the impending Civil War. He also landed upon his third wife, Caroline Stephens, who was 15 years old. Claude, by this time, was around 50.

    […] finding his FOURTH wife:

    He had boarded a train for California, and then a boat for Hawaii, where he again entered local politics, winning a seat in the kingdom’s lower house. By 1868, a local girl named MaeMae Kailihao — “reportedly a princess from a noble family” — was pregnant with his child. She was 14.

    She died at 28, and history doesn’t relate the age of his fifth wife. Mercifully he died before raping any more teenagers.

    I don’t think it’s news that these sorts of conservative moralists are almost always deeply gross men who think of women as property. But it’s sometimes nice to know that this isn’t just a recent thing. It’s ALWAYS been this way.

  124. says

    quotetheunquote @155, yeah, I thought the same thing. Still kind of surprising to see what Dan Crenshaw thought was a step too far by Tucker Carlson.

    It’s not that Tucker is Putin’s mouthpiece that angers Republicans the most, it’s that Tucker interviewed a Palestinian Christian pastor named Munther Isaac from Bethlehem. That’s the guy who says Christians are not safe in Israel.

    Maybe even that was a Putinesque move from Tucker. Putin benefits from any disagreements within the USA voting populace, so the Israel/Gaza awfulness is good news for Putin. Maybe he got Tucker to jack that up a bit by finding yet more ways to feed Tucker some Russian propaganda?

    Laura Loomer:

    Imagine being so dense that you accuse Israel of being hateful toward Christians while ignoring what every Muslim country does to Christians? I just lost a lot of respect for Tucker Carlson.

    David Friedman, (guy who was Trump’s ambassador to Israel):

    Tucker, my friend, before the Palestinians took over Bethlehem pursuant to the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990’s, Bethlehem was under Israeli control and its population was 80% Christian. It was one of the centers of the Christian world. Since Oslo and the resulting Palestinian rule, Bethlehem became 80% Muslim and Christians are afraid. But they don’t speak out against the Palestinian Authority because you just can’t and survive.

    Mostly nonsense mixed with Republican hatred of Muslims … but also an entertaining fight within the MAGA cult.

  125. says

    Which Does Ken Paxton Hate More, Poor People Or Houston?

    Texas AG actually suing to bar Harris County from implementing a basic income pilot plan.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/which-does-ken-paxton-hate-more-poor

    There’s petty, and then there’s petty.

    Last year, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (basically Houston’s county mayor) announced plans for a guaranteed income pilot program that would provide a randomly selected group of 1,928 eligible low-income residents with $500, no strings attached, guaranteed income every month for 18 months. It’s nothing new. Cities and counties across the US and even across Texas have been implementing these pilot programs for the last few years with great success — showing that “just throwing money at it” is, in fact, a great way to handle the problem of poverty.

    The program is funded by $20.5 million from the American Rescue Plan, not any Texas tax dollars.

    But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton isn’t having any of it. This week, he announced that he was actually going to sue Harris County over the program, which he claims violates the Texas constitution.

    He claims:

    The Texas Constitution expressly forbids “any county, city, town or other political corporation or subdivision of the State … to grant public money or thing of value in aid of, or to any individual.” Harris County’s program to give public money away with no conditions, no control over expenditure of that money, and no guarantee of public benefit is prohibited. The Constitution also provides that everyone has “equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments.” This lottery-based handout violates the Texas Constitution because the selection of recipients is inherently arbitrary. County governments have limited authority to act and, like all governments, can only act in accordance with the Constitution. Harris County has exceeded that authority.

    Here, in full, is the part of the Texas constitution that Mean Old Miser Paxton claims the program violates:

    The Legislature shall have no power to make any grant or authorize the making of any grant of public moneys to any individual, association of individuals, municipal or other corporations whatsoever; provided that the provisions of this Section shall not be construed so as to prevent the grant of aid in cases of public calamity.

    Well, Harris County is not “the Legislature” and this is quite clearly “the grant of aid in cases of public calamity” — for those who would consider poverty a calamity.

    […] If children are not going hungry, that is a public benefit. If people are taking that money and spending it at local businesses, that is a public benefit. If they are taking it and spending it on housing, that is a public benefit. The fact that these programs have caused employment rates to rise among participants is a public benefit. This is all a public benefit, because none of us lives in a vacuum and, yes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

    Guaranteed income pilot programs are Republicans’ worst nightmare. Not because they don’t work, […] but because they do. And the fact that they work upends just about every criticism they’ve ever had about any program designed to help the poor. There is low administrative cost so they actually cost less than traditional welfare programs and studies show that when you give people money with no strings attached, they spend it wisely — not on booze and drugs as conservatives would like to believe. Not only that, those who participate in the pilot programs are actually more likely to find work than those who do not.

    You see, it’s not just that the Right doesn’t want to help the poor, but that they are wholly reliant on perpetuating the fiction that people are poor because they are lazy and sinful. It is that belief, along with the belief that the only real way to help people is to do nothing and let them hit rock bottom, that makes it possible for people to tolerate income inequality, tax cuts for billionaires and millionaires, price gouging, corporate welfare, or even just walking down the street and seeing unhoused people sitting on the sidewalks.

    In a press conference on Wednesday, Judge Hidalgo responded to the announcement, calling it “cruel” and “unscrupulous,” and noted that Paxton even waited until people had been notified that they had been selected as participants to try to shut it down. I guess now he can check “taking food right out people’s mouths” off on his bucket list.

    Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that the very conservative Texas Supreme Court will see things that way, particularly considering that Justice John Devine appears to have a vendetta against Houston and Harris County in particular.

    It would be lovely if he and the other justices could put that and partisan politics aside for a moment in order to see that this program in no way violates the Texas constitution or any other laws for that matter, but we’re not going to hold our breath.

  126. says

    Iowa governor signs bill that lets state arrest and deport some migrants

    It will be a state crime for a person to be in Iowa if previously denied admission to or removed from the United States under a bill signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday.

    The law, which takes effect July 1, has elevated anxiety in Iowa’s immigrant communities and has prompted questions among legal experts and law enforcement on how it will be enforced. It mirrors part of a Texas law that is currently blocked in court.

    […] “The Biden Administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk,” Reynolds said in a statement after signing the bill. “This bill gives Iowa law enforcement the power to do what he is unwilling to do: enforce immigration laws already on the books.”

    After the Legislature passed the bill, Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert told The Associated Press in an email in March that immigration status does not factor into the department’s work to keep the community safe. He said the force is “not equipped, funded or staffed” to take on responsibilities that are the federal government’s.

    “Simply stated, not only do we not have the resources to assume this additional task, we don’t even have the ability to perform this function,” Wingert said.

    […] At one community meeting in Des Moines, 80 people gathered and asked questions in Spanish, including: “Should I leave Iowa?”

    Others asked: “Is it safe to call the police?” “Can Iowa police ask me about my immigration status?” And: “What happens if I’m racially profiled?”

  127. birgerjohansson says

    God Awful Movies has released the latest podcast.
    “GAM451 Matthew 18”

  128. birgerjohansson says

    Sorry.
    (Kicks myself for not double-checking the link) This is what happens when I have no sleep for days.

  129. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna @ 162
    Any chance the voters in Iowa might ‘deport’ the governor in November? Or is the governor not up until 2026?

  130. Pierce R. Butler says

    birgerjohansson @ # 164 – time for a nap, or change of medication/occupation/recreation?

  131. birgerjohansson says

    Pierce R Butler @ 168
    All of the above. This week, I slipped on ice and hurt the same spots I hurt when I likewise slipped on ice three weeks ago. It is hard to avoid laying down on some sore spot. And when I begin to doze off, the (recently fed) cats climb up and want more food. Furry bastards.

  132. says

    birger @165, it looks to me like the cruel and legally-questionable bill supported by the Governor of Iowa may not have much of an effect. There is no way to enforce it. There is no one to enforce it.

    However, it will dissuade immigrants from moving to or working in Iowa. That will negatively affect Iowa’s farmers and factory owners.

    Another case of Republicans shooting themselves in the foot.

    Maybe it will encourage Iowans to vote the Governor out of office, but I doubt it. Logic is not being applied.

  133. says

    Instead of fixing Arizona abortion law, Republicans take a vacation

    On Wednesday, Donald Trump said the Arizona Supreme Court ruling that restored an 1864 ban on all abortions “went too far.” Even Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake, an anti-abortion zealot, begged Gov. Katie Hobbs for help and asked the state legislature to pass “an immediate common sense solution.”

    But that same evening, when Republicans in the Arizona Legislature had a chance to address the 1864 law, they used another option—they ran for the exits. GOP lawmakers ignored votes to suspend the archaic law and instead voted to take a recess. Twice.

    Republicans aren’t taking immediate action. They’re not even taking less-than-immediate action. Their reaction to efforts to repeal the 1864 ban was to get out of town for the next week.

    As AZ Mirror reports, Republican state Rep. Matt Gress made a motion to suspend the House rules and allow an immediate vote on a bill to repeal the 1864 law that was slipped in between a ban on prizefighting and just ahead of a regulation setting the age of consent at 10. [WTF!? Are 10!?] But instead of taking the immediate action that Trump, Lake, and so many others in the party called for in public, the Republican-controlled legislature had an alternative proposal: a call for a short recess.

    When Republicans returned from their break, Democrats in the House again tried to get a vote scheduled, with state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton arguing that leaving the archaic law on the books meant that “people will die.” Instead, Republicans once again voted to take a break—this time shutting down the Arizona House until April 17.

    […] Both Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Peterson are supporters of the 1864 law. Toma and Peterson provided an amicus brief in favor of restoring the Civil War-era legislation. [Wow. Total patriarchal whackos.]

    That brief called for the state Supreme Court to vacate a decision blocking the implementation of the law, saying, “the Court should vacate the Court of Appeals’ opinion, and give effect to all of Arizona’s laws restricting abortion”—including the 1864 ban.

    Toma and Peterson claimed their reason for submitting the brief was “to articulate the perspective of the legislative branch.” So it’s no surprise that instead of moving to repeal the 1864 law, Republicans in Arizona’s Legislature chose to duck and run.

    That schism between national Republican figures’ public proclamations and Republican legislators’ actions on the front line perfectly captures the overall GOP position on abortion: They don’t have a clue about how to pull themselves out of the hole they’ve spent 50 years digging.

    Increasingly harsh anti-abortion rhetoric has been at the core of the Republican Party for decades. […] activists believe that life begins at conception—a concept now at the heart of a lot of Republican abortion legislation. For those who share this belief, the Arizona ruling, and even the Alabama ruling against in-vitro fertilization, are considered “wins.”

    However, while those activists may be a big deal in the Republican base, they are a small and shrinking minority of the general public. Support for abortion rights has continued to grow since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade. […]

    Republicans must fix this, and fix it fast, before it becomes the dominant issue in November. They know that. This is why Donald Trump is making statements that seem to contradict themselves [daily … he makes contradictory statements daily, and so does Kari Lake]

    […] They really do need to fix this. Only … they don’t know how.

    Too many Republicans know how to break stuff but they don’t know how to fix stuff. They don’t know how to solve problems. They don’t like to work.

  134. says

    Fox News gets the story wrong on several levels:

    Fox News seems to be working some Donald Trump damage control by way of … Chick-fil-A. Trump reportedly pulled in more than $50 million at a billionaire-hosted Florida fundraising event over the weekend. Fox News described the event as filled with “heavy hitters,” and gleefully characterized the money raised as a “historic” haul. A short while later stories came out describing the fundraising event less as an achievement for the history books and more of an event where Trump promised a room full of billionaires continued tax cuts if he became president again.

    Not to be outdone, Fox News has followed this up with not one or two but three Chick-fil-A-related Trump stories. It’s a clear attempt to push the narrative that it is President Joe Biden that’s a billionaire elitist and not [Trump], whose campaign has quickly devolved into one of less rallies and more billionaire fundraisers.

    On Wednesday evening, Fox reported that Trump visited an Atlanta Chick-fil-A and ordered 30 milkshakes that he planned to give out to patrons. “It’s a great franchise. The owner is a great man who is a member of one of my clubs, and he’s fantastic,” Trump said. “They do very well, and they’re closed on Sunday.” He later parroted the videographer’s description of the fast food establishment’s food as “the Lord’s chicken.” No mention whether or not Trump actually bought the food he promised; the last time Trump made a big to-do about paying for people’s food at a restaurant he didn’t.

    All of this Christian-referencing comes from the founder of the company, S. Truett Cathy’s devout Southern Baptist leanings, which famously led to the late billionaire’s public stance against gay marriage over a decade ago. Cathay died in 2014 but his family retains control over the billionaire-dollar empire.

    A little more than 12 hours later, Fox News was back to reporting on Trump’s visit to that same Atlanta Chick-fil-A. But this time the story’s opening was about how while Trump was “meeting with everyday Americans,” President Joe BIden “was fine dining with the Clintons and other prestigious guests at the White House.” While the opening offers up this grand contrast, Biden was hosting a state dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida—which just might explain former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being at the event. [Joe Biden was doing the work of a president.]

    Meanwhile, Fox News’ offensive dunderhead Jesse Watters did an interview with Gen-Z celebrity Jake Paul on Wednesday, where he promoted his upcoming celebrity boxing match against 57-year-old former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. During the interview he joked “I’m probably gonna be at Chick-fil-A with Mr. Trump trying to gain weight for this fight.” Fox ran the joke as the headline of the story. Whether or not Paul’s celebrity can help Trump is unclear—it sure didn’t seem to do much for former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswarmy.

    Link

  135. gijoel says

    Spanish Soccer authorities are a bunch of sexist shitheads.

    Spain beat England 1-0 in the final at Stadium Australia on August 20, but their victory celebrations took a turn when Rubiales grabbed Hermoso’s head and kissed her on the lips as she received her winner’s medal on stage.

    While no one is denying the incident took place — it happened in front of a packed crowd and television audience of millions — there was a fierce debate about whether the kiss was consensual in the days that followed….

    Public prosecutor Marta Durantez Gil is also pursuing charges of coercion against four men within the RFEF: Mr Rubiales, then-women’s team coach Jorge Vilda, Mr Rivera and Mr Luque…

    On the flight from Australia to Spain after the match, Mr Rubiales is accused of repeatedly approaching Ms Hermoso to persuade her to make a joint public statement exonerating him for the kiss.

    When she refused, the prosecution alleges, Mr Vilda — who was the team’s coach at the time — approached Ms Hermoso’s family, who were on the same flight, and told her brother she would face negative consequences “both personally and in her professional career as a footballer” if she didn’t record a video statement during their stopover in Doha.

  136. Reginald Selkirk says

    GOP senator attempts to ax Algebra II requirement for Minnesota high school students

    Sen. Robert Farnsworth, R-Hibbing, during an education debate Tuesday attempted to amend an omnibus package to allow students to graduate without passing his sworn enemy: Algebra II…

    On Tuesday, the Senate passed an omnibus education policy package, and Farnsworth’s amendment failed to pass. The amendment would have still required that high school students have three math credits to graduate, but it would have allowed “districts to provide the math classes that they might need for their area,” said Farnsworth, a teacher in the Hibbing School District on the Iron Range. Schools would still be able to offer Algebra II…

    Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? – George W. Bush

  137. consciousness razor says

    Reginald Selkirk, #175:

    Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? – George W. Bush

    Give him some credit. He is has done get an answer for us or he might one day, but the world may never know.

  138. says

    Watch Seth Meyers drag Trump’s desperate lies about his abortion policies

    On Wednesday night’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” the comedian focused his always worthwhile Closer Look segment on Donald Trump’s damage control video on abortion.

    “Donald Trump is desperately trying to convince people that he’s not an extremist on abortion, after proudly taking credit for overturning Roe v. Wade,” he said, “which has now led to a horrendous ruling in Arizona outlawing almost all abortions in the state based on a Civil War-era law.” […]

    More commentary, transcript excerpts from the video, and the video itself are available at the link.

  139. says

    NBC News:

    Russian missiles and drones destroyed a large electricity plant near Kyiv and hit power facilities in several regions on Thursday, officials said, ramping up pressure on the embattled energy system as Ukraine runs low on air defenses.

  140. says

    Politico:

    The Biden administration is moving to expand background checks for gun purchases, fulfilling a key demand of advocates following the deadly shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas. The final rule, expected to be submitted Thursday to the Federal Register by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, would eliminate a loophole that has allowed sales of guns without background checks of guns outside of brick-and-mortar stores.

    This is good policy from the Biden administration. Rightwing advocates for guns are going so bonkers in their replies that they are red faced and spittle is flying.

  141. says

    NBC News:

    There is no evidence that mRNA Covid vaccines cause fatal cardiac arrest or other deadly heart problems in teens and young adults, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Thursday shows.

    Somebody tell Joseph Ladapo, that doofus that Ron DeSantis put in charge in Florida.

  142. says

    NBC News:

    Two Maine lawmakers are facing possible censure after one said the deadliest mass shooting in the state, in Lewiston in October, was a sign of retribution from God over the passage of a law expanding abortion access by the Democratic-led state Legislature and other ‘immoral laws.’

    Those two are Republicans, of course.

  143. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 178

    This guy obviously doesn’t know the history of religion, especially Christianity, or he’d be saying otherwise.

  144. birgerjohansson says

    Deaths. I think I liked the Hawaiian sumo wrestler and the God Particle man more than the murdery guy.
    BTW I just learned Tom Lehrer is still alive and well, celebrating his 96th birthday.
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=3GwjfUFyY6M
    (Last time I played that clip was when Henry Kissinger died)

  145. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 176

    I got a feeling a lot of those wrestlers don’t get to live past 60.

  146. Reginald Selkirk says

    Researchers find a new organelle evolving

    The complex cells that underlie animals and plants have a large collection of what are called organelles—compartments surrounded by membranes that perform specialized functions. Two of these were formed through a process called endosymbiosis, in which a once free-living organism is incorporated into a cell. These are the mitochondrion, where a former bacteria now handles the task of converting chemical energy into useful forms, and the chloroplast, where photosynthesis happens.

    The fact that there are only a few cases of organelles that evolved through endosymbiosis suggests that it’s an extremely rare event. Yet researchers may have found a new case in which an organelle devoted to fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere is in the process of evolving. The resulting organelle, termed a nitroplast, is still in the process of specialization…

  147. Reginald Selkirk says

    Sketchy Botox shots spark multistate outbreak of botulism-like condition

    Sketchy cosmetic injections of what seem to be counterfeit Botox are behind a multistate outbreak of botulism-like illnesses, state health officials report.

    So far, at least six people have fallen ill in two states: four in Tennessee and two in Illinois. Four of the six people required hospitalization for their condition (two in Tennessee and both cases in Illinois).

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly planning a nationwide alert to notify clinicians of the potentially counterfeit Botox and advise them to be on the lookout for botulism-like illnesses. The agency did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for information…

  148. Reginald Selkirk says

    US think tank Heritage Foundation hit by cyberattack

    Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation said on Friday that it experienced a cyberattack earlier this week.

    A person with knowledge of the cyberattack told TechCrunch that efforts at Heritage were underway to remediate the cyberattack, but said that it wasn’t immediately known what, if any, data was taken.

    Politico, which first reported the news of the cyberattack on Friday, cited a Heritage official as saying the organization “shut down its network to prevent any further malicious activity while we investigate the incident.”

    The news outlet quoted the Heritage official as saying that the cyberattack likely came from nation-state hackers, but did not provide evidence of the claim…

    How sad. Anyway…

  149. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 192

    How horrible. I sure hope other atheist and leftist white hats don’t hack other religious organizations to find their dirt and drain their bank accounts.

    One-eyed blink.

  150. Reginald Selkirk says

    Water pouring out of rural Utah dam through 60-foot crack, putting nearby town at risk

    Workers hurriedly tried to shore up a rural Utah dam after a 60-foot (18-meter) crack sent water pouring into a creek and endangering the 1,800 residents of a downstream town.

    State and local leaders don’t think the Panguitch Lake Dam is in imminent danger of breaking open but have told residents to be prepared to evacuate if conditions worsen. Emergency management officials passed out a list of evacuation procedures to worried residents at a Wednesday evening town meeting meant to mitigate panic…

  151. Reginald Selkirk says

    @193: How horrible. That Heritage Foundation is allowed to call themselves a “think tank.”

  152. Reginald Selkirk says

    Donald Trump And Mike Johnson Promote Bill Banning Thing That’s Already Illegal

    Amid threats from the far right to his job, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Friday will appear with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump at his ritzy Florida estate to promote a bill banning noncitizens from voting ― something that is already illegal.

    Congress in 1996 passed a law banning noncitizens from voting in federal elections, though a few states allow noncitizens to vote in local elections only. And despite Trump’s fearmongering about migrants entering the U.S. to vote illegally, there’s virtually no evidence of noncitizen voting…

    Mike Johnson eagerly awaits his turn under the bus.

  153. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump Bond’s Cayman Connection ‘Stinks to High Heaven’

    When the questionably leveraged company that rescued Donald Trump with a last-minute $175 million court bond insured itself with its own parent company, it raised concerns about how the company was playing with its finances.

    But now, as even more details come out about that parent company—particularly that it’s based in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven—the concerns are just piling up.

    Former industry regulators and investigators told The Daily Beast that Knight Specialty Insurance Company being financially backed by a firm based in the Cayman Islands should raise eyebrows at the New York AG’s office—particularly because companies frequently organize in the Cayman Islands not just to avoid taxes, but also to minimize visibility into its business practices, avoid more stringent U.S. regulations, and make liability harder should things go wrong…

  154. says

    Evan Corcoran, an attorney for Donald Trump who became a critical witness in the classified documents case against the former president, no longer represents him, CNN has learned.

    According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Corcoran left Trump’s legal team in recent months, a notable departure as the criminal case remains in limbo in south Florida.

    Corcoran’s quiet exit from Trump’s orbit could pose a significant issue for the former president, with the potential for prosecutors to call him as a key witness if the case goes to trial. He also was one of the last attorneys on Trump’s defense team to have handled his federal investigations from the beginning, as his legal peril skyrocketed.

    Corcoran was brought on to help Trump fend off charges in the classified documents investigation, but instead turned into a central witness after Trump allegedly misled him about the whereabouts of the documents at his Mar-a-Lago club and encouraged him to lie to the Justice Department and withhold those documents.

    One year ago, Corcoran was required to appear before a grand jury investigating the case after a district judge ruled he could not use attorney-client privilege to shield notes and memos from investigators about his interactions with Trump, saying that prosecutors met the threshold for the crime-fraud exception for him. The voice memos turned into notes provided a roadmap for prosecutors when they indicted Trump. Corcoran is referred to as “Trump Attorney 1” in that indictment.

    If the case goes to trial, Corcoran will likely be a key witness for the prosecution. The case has been mired in delay and unresolved logistical questions for months now.

    Corcoran ultimately recused himself from representing Trump in the classified documents case but continued to represent him in other investigations. He personally accompanied the former president when he was arraigned in Washington last August on federal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. […]

    https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/11/politics/evan-corcoran-trump-legal

  155. says

    From the “Even Worse” category:

    A lot has already been written here and elsewhere about the many red flags with Donald Trump’s bond for the $464 million judgment against him in the NY falsifying documents case. Like how the bonding company, Knight Specialty Insurance Company, doesn’t appear to have enough cash on hand to cover the $175 million bond. Like how Knight’s financials are not audited. Like how KSIC is not licensed to do business in New York state. Like how KSIC says nothing in the bond about how it would cover the bond if it doesn’t have the cash on hand to do so — would it be covered by its parent company, Knight Insurance Company LTD? Would Trump crony and Knight’s owner Don Hankey-Pankey cover it? The bond doesn’t say. There’s also the pesky little question of if Trump’s lawyers lied to the appeals court when they told the judges they couldn’t find any company willing to provide a bond for the full $464 million judgment. It all stinks.

    The Daily Beast reports another big red flag with the bond — which I hadn’t be aware of before — that makes things even stinkier: Knight’s parent company, Knight Insurance Company LTD, is based in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven that could make it difficult, if not impossible, for New York AG Letitia James to collect on the bond if she needed to.

    […] several insurance experts explain why the bond’s Cayman Islands connection is a big problem.

    “This just stinks to high heaven,” said Dave Jones, who oversaw the nation’s largest insurance market as California’s insurance commissioner for seven years until 2018.

    “Taken in its totality, this dog does not hunt. Along every step of the way, this purported bond is problematic. It’s just one issue after another that calls into question whether this bond could ever possibly satisfy the judgment,” said Jones, who’s now the director of the Climate Risk Initiative at University of California Berkeley. […]

    “The risk here is the company will not have the liquidity to pay on the bond when demanded, and the beneficiary of this bond, the New York AG, may not have a direct claim against the reinsurer,” said former New York Department of Financial Services superintendent Maria Vullo. “That the reinsurer is in the Cayman Islands compounds this issue as it is a non-U.S. jurisdiction, which makes collection very difficult.”

    Tom Gober, a forensic accountant and certified fraud examiner who previously did work with the FBI and frequently appears as a witness in court, spells out in more detail why the parent company’s Cayman Islands location is a big concern:

    “The Caymans are widely recognized as a ‘secrecy jurisdiction.’ If you called the regulator in the Caymans and asked, ‘Can you tell me if Knight reinsurance has enough to cover these claims?’ Their laws require total confidentiality. Why?” he asked.

    “In my professional opinion, all you really have to know is that you don’t know. It’s not transparent and it ought to be. They have less regulation and zero transparency. That’s all I need to know,” he said.

    The article also explains that KSIC has moved $323 million in liabilities off its books to its parent company KIC and two sister companies — all based in the Cayman Islands. One insurance regulator told the Daily Beast that KSIC appears to be playing a “shell game” with its parent company. The article also points out that these three companies are not regulated by the standard-setting and state government-assembled National Association of Insurance Commissioners—so they don’t even have the accepted NAICs code assigned to trusted firms.

    […] Judge Engoron has scheduled a hearing for April 22 to go over the NY AG’s concerns with KSIC’s bond. It should be interesting. I can’t see how this bond will be accepted by the court, but time will tell.

    Link

  156. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘I don’t have any files for you,’ man tells Trump’s lawyers after they subpoena wrong person

    There are multiple Jeremy Rosenbergs in New York City, as former President Donald Trump’s attorneys found out Tuesday after they sent a subpoena to the wrong one.

    Last month, Trump’s attorneys in his criminal hush money case in Manhattan sought to subpoena the Jeremy Rosenberg who was a supervising investigator in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

    Instead, according to court filings revealed Tuesday, the subpoena went to another Jeremy Rosenberg living in an $8 million Brooklyn home.

    “I don’t have any files for you,” that Rosenberg wrote to defense attorney Todd Blanche, per the court filings.

    Furthermore, that Rosenberg wrote, “I’m keeping the fifteen dollars” Blanche had provided to help him pay the cost of sending the requested documents…

  157. says

    Sorry. I didn’t see Reginald’s comment 198 before I posted comment 201.

    In sort of related Trump legal news:

    Out of the four criminal cases that Donald Trump faces, the one scheduled to begin on Monday in a New York City courtroom is not the prosecution that most addresses the threat he posed (and still poses) to American democracy. But it carries powerful symbolism, for of all Trump’s cases, this one reminds the nation that he emerged from a sleazy sewer that blended trashy celebrity culture and misogyny.

    Prosecuting Trump for falsifying business records related to the hush-money pay-off made to stop porn star Stormy Daniels from blabbing about her alleged tryst with him (while Melania was home with four-month-old Barron) may not seem as consequential and serious as placing the former president in the dock for allegedly swiping top-secret documents or for attempting to overturn American democracy so he could remain in power. Yet it seems appropriate that this history-making trial—the first time a former commander in chief will be prosecuted on criminal charges—arises from a tawdry and tabloidesque episode. How Trumpian.

    Trump began climbing the ladder of fame in New York City in the 1980s as a brash nepo-baby real estate developer and flashy womanizer. He boasted of his ways with the ladies, and, not surprisingly, his macho strutting was juiced by old-school objectification and brutal misogyny. […]

    Link

  158. says

    Senate Republicans furious over Trump trying to derail FISA bill

    Senate Republicans vented their frustration after former President Trump helped derail a compromise House bill to extend Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authority, sending lawmakers scrambling to find a Plan B to keep the nation’s intelligence agencies from losing their ability to spy on adversaries and terrorists.

    Republican senators are warning that the nation’s spy program is about to go “dark” and that much of the intelligence that goes into President Biden’s daily briefing could be lost, putting the nation at risk for surprise attacks.

    “I’m very disappointed in President Trump’s assessment of FISA. It is an essential tool. It may need to be amended but it is absolutely essential, as everyone in the intelligence community will tell you,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned that failure to pass the bill would cripple the nation’s intelligence gathering.

    “If we can’t spy on foreign terrorists and foreign spies overseas, we’re out of the intelligence business,” he said.

    Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), another member of the Intelligence Committee, pointed out that much of the national security intelligence provided to Biden on a daily basis comes from information gathered under FISA’s Section 702.
    “So I think we need to reform it, not end it,” Cornyn said.

    Asked what it would mean for national security if Congress killed FISA’s warrantless surveillance authority under Section 702, Cornyn warned: “We’d go dark on a lot of threats. I’m hoping there can be a more extended conversation about what the reforms should look like.”

    Trump effectively derailed a House bill to extend the expanded surveillance powers by urging Congress on Friday to “kill FISA.”

    “KILL FISA, IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS. THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!!!” Trump fumed on his social media platform, Truth Social.

    Nineteen House Republicans heeded that demand and blocked the bill from advancing on the House floor Wednesday. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and his allies scrambled Thursday to come up with a Plan B to reauthorize the program before the looming April 19 deadline, and the House Rules Committee met to tee up a similar version of the measure for a floor vote Friday.

  159. says

    Biden administration raises costs to drill on public lands

    The Interior Department on Friday finalized a rule making it more expensive for oil and gas producers to drill on federally owned lands.

    Several of the provisions in the rule — like raising the rent the government charges to oil companies for using its land and increasing the government’s share of the profits from that oil — were set out in law by the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.

    The Biden administration will additionally make it more expensive for drillers to abandon their oil wells after use instead of cleaning them up. The administration argues that current bonding rates do not do enough to ensure that companies clean up after themselves.

    The administration described the changes as the first “comprehensive update” to the rules around drilling on federal lands since 1988.

    “These are the most significant reforms to the federal oil and gas leasing program in decades, and they will cut wasteful speculation, increase returns for the public, and protect taxpayers from being saddled with the costs of environmental cleanups,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a written statement.

    The rule comes one day after the administration moved to cut costs for producing renewable energy on public land.

    Specifically, the rule raises the royalty rate – the government’s share of the profits of oil and gas produced on public lands — from 12.5 percent to 16.67 percent. […]

  160. Reginald Selkirk says

    Remember last week, when the Iowa – LSU women’s basketball quarter-final match broke television viewing records for women’s basketball? Well, that didn’t last.
    Women’s NCAA championship TV ratings crush the men’s competition

    The final game, between South Carolina’s Gamecocks and the University of Iowa’s Hawkeyes, averaged about 18.7 million viewers and peaked at a whopping 24 million combined on ESPN and ABC, making it the first time in history that a women’s final has drawn a larger TV audience than the men’s, according to ESPN.

    In contrast, the victory of the men’s Division 1 UConn Huskies over Purdue averaged 14.82 million on TBS and TNT…

  161. says

    In Year Of Our Lord 2024, White-Sounding Names Still More Likely To Get Called Back For Job Interviews

    For the past several years, we have heard the endless sobbing of white conservatives who have convinced themselves that they are now living in a DEI world where white, Christian, cisgender men are the biggest victims of discrimination — when it’s just a fact that they would come out on top if it were a real meritocracy. Because it’s not that they’re racist or sexist, no! It’s that they want to live in a real meritocracy where the best person for the job gets the job every time, just like in the good old days when — by sheer coincidence only — the best person for the job was usually a white man.

    And the fact is, they’re right. We don’t live in a meritocracy … and they’re the ones who benefit.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking here. You are thinking “How can that be in this woke liberal paradise that we so obviously live in now?!?”

    But it’s true!

    Remember that very famous study from 20 years ago, in which researchers submitted practically identical resumés to various want-ads — with the only difference being that the names attached were either especially Black-sounding names or especially white sounding names? Well, it was replicated again and once again researchers found that those with white-sounding names were more likely to be hired than those with Black-sounding names. An average of nine percent higher, across the board.

    The study was initially conducted in 2021, but the research team has published a new paper in which they name the companies applied to, in order to draw more conclusions about discriminatory hiring practices.

    Via NPR:

    Much of a company’s bias in hiring could be explained by its industry, the study found. Auto dealers and retailers of car parts were the least likely to call back Black applicants, with Genuine Auto Parts (which distributes NAPA products) and the used car retailer AutoNation scoring the worst on the study’s “discrimination report card.”

    “We are always evaluating our practices to ensure inclusivity and break down barriers, and we will continue to do so,” Heather Ross, vice president of strategic communications at Genuine Parts Company, said in an email.

    AutoNation did not reply to a request for comment.

    I’m not really sure how the discrimination can be “explained” by “car/auto parts industry,” just more prevalent there. While other car-related businesses didn’t do great, Genuine Auto Parts and AutoNation were 25 and 23 percent more likely to call back white applicants than Black applicants. AutoZone was 10 percent more likely, which is still bad but about average in the study.

    The companies that performed best in the analysis included Charter/Spectrum, Dr. Pepper, Kroger and Avis-Budget.

    Dr. Pepper is a vile substance that no human should ever ingest on purpose, including in Lip Smacker form, but it’s nice that they’re not bigots!

    This is not to say that things have not improved since 2004. At that time, firms were an average of 50 percent more likely to call in the people with white-sounding names in for a job interview — meaning that while white people only had to send out an average of 10 resumés before they got a call, Black people had to send out 15.

    Also, while the original study found that

    Federal contractors, who are thought to be more severely constrained by affirmative action laws, do not treat the African-American resumes more preferentially; neither do larger employers or employers who explicitly state that they are “Equal Opportunity Employers.”

    The more recent study found that this is no longer the case. Via NPR:

    Federal contractors and more profitable companies called back applicants from the two racial groups at more similar rates. Firms with more centralized human resources departments and policies also exhibited less racial bias, which Kline says may indicate that a standardized hiring workflow involving multiple employees could help reduce discrimination.

    All improvement is welcome, at least by us. Probably not so much by raging bigots.

    Still, even with those improvements it’s clear that white people still have a pretty significant advantage when it comes to being called in for interviews, which we can assume also gives them a significant advantage when it comes to being hired.

    Given this information, I think that white conservatives either need to explain why a nine percent advantage just isn’t enough of a handicap for them, or they need to shut up forever about “reverse discrimination.” I vote the latter!

  162. says

    Oh Look, Donald Trump Lying About ‘Energy’

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/oh-look-donald-trump-lying-about

    We’ll readily admit it: Donald Trump has broken us, and it’s just one more reason we hate him. We should be outraged by his constant lies and hypocrisy, and on one level we are, because Jesus Christ on a Honda Motocompacto electric scooter, how did this constantly lying asshole remake so much of American politics and media in his image?

    This week, Trump pal Steve Bannon gave away the game on another lie that’s been central to Trump’s campaign. In a New York Times story (gift link), Bannon cheerfully acknowledged that under Joe Biden, the USA has been producing more oil and fossil gas than it ever has — a fact that a Trump-allied ratfucking operation has been pushing to potential Democratic voters to urge them to vote for Jill Stein, in hopes that some young lefty voters will abandon Biden. Bannon explained the ratfuck:

    No Republican knows that oil production under Biden is higher than ever. But Jill Stein’s people do. … Stein is furious about the oil drilling. The college kids are furious about it. The more exposure these [third-party candidates] get, the better it is for us.

    Bannon’s probably right about Republicans not knowing that energy production is setting records under the Biden administration, especially since it’s been an article of faith for Republicans since the Obama years that Democrats hate oil and gas and want everyone to live in caves. But as many observers, including MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, have pointed out — repeatedly — it’s one of the biggest “hidden” stories of Biden’s presidency. [video at the link, featuring Chris Hayes]

    t’s also a a bit politically dicey for Biden, as Hayes also notes. “From a climate perspective, not great; which, true, but crucially, also renewable power is booming,” for which the credit rightly goes to Biden and the Inflation Reduction Act’s $370 billion investment in clean energy.

    I want the world to decarbonize as rapidly as possible, so no, not entirely thrilled by all the oil and gas production, which has more to do with US energy companies having a very hungry export market than with any Biden (or Trump) policies anyway. But to actually decarbonize, you also need political leadership that’s committed to doing so, and that’s coming from only one party. From a realpolitik perspective, booming US oil production helps keep gas prices down, making it more likely Biden will be reelected, and that may be the most important thing there is for getting the US off the fossil fuel teat by midcentury. […]

    Of course, as Greg Sargent points out over at New Republic, Bannon’s willingness to tell the truth about oil production under Biden, in hopes of sending young climate voters off to vote for third-party candidates, doesn’t simply leave out the larger reality that Trump would be a disaster for the climate again. It also

    entirely undermines one of Trump’s biggest lies: the claim that Biden’s effort to transition the United States to a decarbonized economy has destroyed the nation’s “energy independence,” leaving us weak and hollow to our very core.

    It’s just not so, and the Trump team knows it, and Trump voters are largely immune to the facts anyway. Oil simply can’t be flourishing under Biden, because he’s a Democrat. Hence Trump’s weird insistence that he will solve all America’s problems, including illegal immigration, with the promise to “drill, drill, drill.” Which is bullshit, since we’re already drilling, drilling, drilling.

    The far more pernicious side effect of that lie, however, is that it also insulates MAGA America from embracing or even acknowledging the very real economic benefits Biden’s climate policies are bringing to the country, as Sargent outlines:

    Biden’s green policies are facilitating billions of dollars in investments in rebuilding the industrial base via green energy manufacturing, which is creating a whole lot of advanced manufacturing jobs for people without college degrees—exactly the targets of Trump’s demagoguery. Those policies are driving a manufacturing boom, ironically in red-leaning communities.

    [Important facts!]

    [snipped reference to China’s approach to clean energy]

    Princeton University energy boffin Jesse Jenkins, one of my favorite clean energy nerds, pointed out to Sargent that all that increased production has made the US a “net exporter of all fossil fuels. So we’ve achieved that long-sought goal of physical energy security.” What’s more, an increasing percentage of that energy is coming from renewables, whose market share will keep expanding because they keep beating fossil fuels on price.

    That price advantage for renewables means that if Trump returns to office, he can certainly use the levers of power to prop up fossil fuels, as he tried and failed to do with coal; there’s some small comfort in knowing that the economics favor renewables in the long term, but the additional damage to the climate would be disastrous. Plus, there’s that whole threat-to-democracy thing that could mean the US isn’t able to return to sane climate policy for decades. How about we stick with Biden? He’s actually committed to cutting greenhouse emissions — as with his recent pause on permits for new liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals, an action that will significantly offset emissions from the current boom in oil production. And that’s the big picture we climate nerds have to keep our eyes on.

    “What’s important to note is that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are falling,” Jenkins says. That both this and robust oil production and exports are occurring simultaneously, he notes, would probably be viewed positively by moderate voters, including in Appalachia and the industrial Midwest.

    Whether that messaging gets through the toxic chemical fog of MAGA energy lies is another matter, but a second Biden term would certainly do a lot to make clear that clean energy is an economic winner, even (especially) in red states. That’s part of the reason the IRA’s energy investments are being rolled out all over the country. It’s like the thing where major defense contracts have subcontractors in as many congressional districts as possible. When lots of jobs in your district are part of the clean energy economy, particularly where coal and oil are declining, there’s a powerful incentive to continue those green policies.

  163. says

    Followup to comment 204.

    House votes to renew FISA spying tool after earlier Republican revolt

    Prior to passage, the House failed to adopt a bipartisan amendment to curtail warrantless surveillance of Americans. Section 702 of the law expires on April 19 unless it’s renewed.

    The House voted to renew a powerful surveillance program on Friday, two days after a band of 19 conservative privacy hawks revolted against Republican leadership and blocked the legislation on the floor when their demands were not met.

    The vote was 273-147 and was overwhelmingly bipartisan, with both Republicans and Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. Of those who supported the legislation, 126 were Republicans and 147 Democrats. It followed a dramatic vote to narrowly reject an amendment that would have required a warrant for surveillance in more situations.

    Earlier Friday, the conservative rebels ended their blockade and allowed the bill to move forward after striking a deal with Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and his team. Under the agreement, the reauthorization period of the spy powers — known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — would be cut to two years from the original proposed five years.

    Republicans said that would give former President Donald Trump, who said this week he wants to “kill” FISA, a chance to make his mark on the law if he wins back the White House.

    “We just bought President Trump an at bat,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a top Trump ally and one of the 19 rebels. “The previous version of this bill would have kicked reauthorization beyond the Trump presidency. Now President Trump gets an at bat to fix the system that victimized him more than any other American.”

    Ahead of the vote, Johnson set up a secured room just off the floor where lawmakers could review classified documents. […]

  164. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    The LLMentalist Effect: how chat-based Large Language Models replicate the mechanisms of a psychic’s con

    cold reading. It looks like an accidental automation of the same basic tactic. […] give the impression of being able to make extremely specific answers, but those answers are in fact statistically generic.
    […]
    You give it text. It gives you a response that matches responses that texts like yours commonly get in its training data set. […] the LLM isn’t “reading” your text any more than the psychic is reading your mind. They are giving you statistically plausible responses based on what you say. You’re the one finding ways to validate those responses as being specific to you as the subject of the conversation. […] The validation loop can continue for a while, with the mark constantly doing the work of convincing themselves of the language model’s intelligence.
    […]
    the tech industry has given itself wholesale to superstition and pseudoscience. They keep ignoring the warnings coming from other fields and the concerns from critics in their own camp. […] Imagine Google […] trying to fix their search engine by adding a psychic hotline to their front page?

  165. says

    As Iran nears nuclear weapons capability, accountability matters

    Iran has never been closer to nuclear weapons capability, and the consequences of Donald Trump’s failed approach have never been clearer.

    For those concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, The Washington Post published an unsettling report this week, starting with a factory known as Fordow and the “alarming” changes nuclear inspectors discovered at the facility in February.

    In factory chambers that had ceased making enriched uranium under a 2015 nuclear accord, the inspectors now witnessed frenzied activity: newly installed equipment, producing enriched uranium at ever-faster speeds, and an expansion underway that could soon double the plant’s output. More worryingly, Fordow was scaling up production of a more dangerous form of nuclear fuel — a kind of highly enriched uranium, just shy of weapons grade. Iranian officials in charge of the plant, meanwhile, had begun talking openly about achieving “deterrence,” suggesting that Tehran now had everything it needed to build a bomb if it chose.

    The same Post report, […] added that Iran is now “closer to nuclear weapons capability than at any time in the country’s history.” The article went on to note that Iran “now has a supply of highly enriched uranium that could be converted to weapons-grade fuel for at least three bombs in a time frame ranging from a few days to a few weeks.”

    As regular readers know, I periodically like to bang my head against this particular wall, but I think the political world should pause periodically to come to terms with just how severe the consequences of Donald Trump’s policy toward Iran have been. Let’s revisit our earlier coverage and take stock.

    It was Joe Cirincione, whose expertise in international nuclear diplomacy has few rivals, who wrote a piece for NBC News a few years ago explaining that the international community has been tasked with trying to “undo the damage Donald Trump caused when he left an agreement that had effectively shrunk Iran’s [nuclear] program, froze it for a generation and put it under lock and camera.”

    I continue to believe this is an underappreciated truth. The international agreement with Iran did exactly what it set out to do: The policy dramatically curtailed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and established a rigorous system of monitoring and verification. Once the policy took effect, each of the parties agreed that the participants were holding up their end of the bargain, and Iran’s nuclear program was, at the time, on indefinite hold.

    And then Trump took office and got to work abandoning the policy for reasons he was never able to explain.

    […] once the United States was no longer a part of the agreement, the West lost verification access to Tehran’s program, and Iran almost immediately became more dangerous by starting up advanced centrifuges and ending its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium.

    A couple of years ago, Robert Malley, the then-special envoy for Iran, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that after Trump’s decision, Iranian attacks on U.S. personnel in the region got worse, Iranian support for regional proxies got worse, and the pace of the Iranians’ nuclear research program got “much worse.”

    A year later, Colin Kahl, the then-under secretary of Defense, explained to the House Armed Services Committee that Iran’s nuclear progress since Trump abandoned the international nuclear agreement has been “remarkable.” […]

    How Trump arrived at his decision adds insult to injury. One of my favorite stories about the Iran deal came a few months into Trump’s term in the White House, when the then-president held a lengthy meeting with top members of his team: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, White House National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford. Each of the officials told Trump the same thing: It was in the United States’ interest to preserve the existing JCPOA policy.

    Trump expected his team to tell him how to get out of the international agreement, not how to stick with it. When his own foreign policy and national security advisers told him the policy was working, Trump “had a bit of a meltdown.”

    Soon after, he abandoned the JCPOA anyway, not because it was failing, but because Trump was indifferent to its success.

    The world is now dealing with the consequences.

  166. says

    Some campaign news tidbits, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    Republican Sen. Josh Hawley is heavily favored to win a second term in the fall, but his Democratic opponent in Missouri, Lucas Kunce, is raising enough funds to mount a credible challenge. Axios reported this week that Kunce raised over $2.25 million between January and March.
    ————————
    Republican lawmakers in Colorado this week tried to impeach Secretary of State Jena Griswold after she concluded that Donald Trump was ineligible for the 2024 ballot on 14th Amendment grounds. The legislature’s Democratic majority, not surprisingly, rejected the GOP’s impeachment effort.
    ————————-
    Robert F. Kennedy’s independent presidential campaign this week fired Rita Palma, who apparently falsely identified herself as the New York state director for the conspiracy theorist, and who said the point of Kennedy’s candidacy was to help put Trump back in the White House.

  167. says

    President Biden canceled $7.4 billion in student loan debt on Friday as he tries to shore up support with young voters who are disproportionately affected by soaring education costs, but who may be drifting away over his policy on Israel and the war in Gaza.

    The latest round of relief is part of a strategy by the White House to take smaller, targeted actions for certain subsets of borrowers after the Supreme Court struck down a far more ambitious plan to wipe out $400 billion in debt last year.

    Mr. Biden said this week that he would make another attempt at large-scale debt forgiveness for about 30 million people, despite Republican opposition and legal challenges. But in the meantime, he has been chipping away at student debt by fixing and streamlining existing programs that have been plagued by bureaucratic and other problems for years.

    Friday’s announcement was the latest such move, affecting around 277,000 people. White House officials said those borrowers would be notified by email that day.

    […] Others who will see relief include teachers, librarians, academics and public safety workers who have been making student loan payments for 10 years under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Another 65,000 borrowers enrolled in other income-driven repayment plans will see adjustments reducing their debt, Mr. Cardona said.

    So far, the Biden administration has forgiven $153 billion in debt for 4.3 million borrowers.

    […] “I don’t see it as unfair. I see it as, we’re fixing something that’s broken,” Mr. Cardona said. “We have better repayment plans now so we don’t have to be in the business of forgiving loans in the future.” […]

    New York Times link

  168. says

    Biden says he expects Iranian strike on Israel ‘sooner than later’

    U.S. officials have expressed concern that Tehran may go after targets in Israel in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes in Syria last week that killed senior Iranian officials.

    President Joe Biden said Friday that he expects Iran will strike Israel soon, and reiterated that the U.S. would support and defend Israel if such an attack occurred.

    At a White House event, when asked by reporters how imminent he thought an attack by Iran could be, Biden said that while he didn’t want to discuss “secure information,” his expectation was “sooner than later.”

    Asked what his message to Iran was, Biden said, “Don’t.”

    “We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel, we will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” he said.

    Earlier in the day, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that U.S. officials are in “constant communication” with their Israeli counterparts “about making sure that they can defend themselves against those kinds of attacks.”

    “We do believe that this still is a viable threat,” Kirby said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure that Israel can defend itself.”

    […] Iran accused Israel of striking its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Israeli officials have said that it was a building disguised as a diplomatic mission, and that it’s used by Iran’s Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

    This looks like it will go from bad to worse.

  169. says

    1 dead, 13 injured after stolen semi-truck is rammed into Texas DPS office

    The driver of the truck, who has been arrested, had been turned down for a commercial drivers license on Thursday, officials in Brenham say.

    One person was killed and 13 others were injured when a stolen semi-truck careened into a Department of Public Safety office in Brenham, Texas, on Friday.

    The truck was being pursued by multiple law enforcement vehicles when it crashed into the office, DPS Sgt. Justin Reese said at a news conference. The driver had been denied a commercial driver’s license on Thursday, he said.

    “While he was there the drivers license staff advised (him) that he was not eligible to renew his commercial driver’s license,” Reese said.

    The deceased was one of five people hospitalized, officials said, but otherwise it was too soon to identify the victim. Eight people were treated at the scene and released, they said.

    The mayor of Brenham, Atwood Kenjura, said the driver tried to back up and crash into the building again but was thwarted by first responders. He said the casualty toll would have been worse if he was successful.

    “There would have been a collapse of that building,” the mayor said at the news conference.

    Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said the incident was intentional and “done by the suspect who was denied a CDL yesterday.”

    […] Brenham is located about 73 miles northwest of Houston.

  170. birgerjohansson says

    I am forwarding this to cheer you up.

    The tories have been hoisted by their own petard. By making immigration a major issue they have given oxygen to their far-right rivals. Nearly one-third of tory voters have gone further right.

    “Polls Shows Reform UK Too Hot for Tories to Handle”
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=5kmc-CgzjC4

  171. says

    Washington Post:

    The next time you need to have your iPhone fixed, you may not have to pay as much to get it working just the way it used to. Apple told The Washington Post it is easing a key restriction on iPhone repairs. Starting this fall, owners of an iPhone 15 or newer will be able to get their broken devices fixed with used parts — including screens, batteries and cameras — without any change in functionality.

  172. says

    […] Christian nationalism is a serious threat to democracy, because it is premised on the supremacy of Christianity and rejects the democratic values of freedom and equality for all. It is crucial to understand that it takes various forms, how its numerous proponents differ, and how they intersect. Some pose a threat because of their proximity to political and legal power; others because they accelerate racist and antisemitic rhetoric; and still others because they might incite violence. These distinctions show how Christian nationalism is varied, very combustible, and critical to combat.

    The Christian Nationalist Hydra: In Era of Trump, Christian Nationalism Has Many Faces

    Longer article is available at the link.

  173. says

    […] President Joe Biden is playing Donald Trump like a fiddle on the Affordable Care Act, and Trump just can’t help himself from responding.

    At an event with care providers Tuesday, Biden dangled the bait again for Trump.

    “My predecessor and his MAGA friends want to—I love the phrase, the language they use—they want to ‘terminate’ the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

    Trump couldn’t stop himself. He just had to post a video in response.

    “I’m not running to terminate the ACA, as crooked Joe Biden says all over the place,” he said, giving the media another chance to show Trump saying, for the past five years, that’s exactly what he wants to do. Roll the tape! [video at the link]

    It’s pretty hard for Trump to argue he doesn’t want to kill it when all the receipts are out there.

    “We’re going to terminate it.”

    “We’re going to win by knocking the hell out of Obamacare, terminating it.”

    “When we terminate it, all we’ll do is say it was a bad experience for the American people.”

    “We are decimating Obamacare.”

    “We want to terminate Obamacare because it’s bad.” Et cetera.

    In his angry response to Biden, Trump also said that he will make the ACA “much better, stronger and far less expensive” if he’s elected. Sound familiar? It did to CNN’s Tami Luhby, who pointed out that he had four years to do that and failed.

    “Trump is now making many promises to improve the Affordable Care Act,” Luhby writes, “ but once again he has not said much about how he would actually accomplish that goal.”

    Responding to Biden was a totally unforced error on Trump’s part. Health care is still a major issue for voters, including Latino voters, with whom Trump needs to make inroads to win. UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota found late last year that health care is the third most important issue for those voters.

    Meanwhile, about 60% of American adults continue to support the ACA, including 30% of Republicans. That’s up from 24% last May. It would definitely help Trump to stop talking about the issue.

    But he won’t, and Biden knows that. This is a button he can keep pushing to force Trump to keep the issue alive, and Trump is always going to fall for it.

    Link

  174. says

    Haiti formalizes transitional council in move toward new elections

    Haiti has formalized a new presidential transitional council that will help to move the embattled nation toward peace after the Caribbean island has been consumed by gang violence and left with almost no government.

    A decree was published Friday establishing the new nine-member council in Le Moniteur, the official gazette of the Haitian government, according to local Haitian outlets. The decree states a goal of securing peace in the country and moving toward elections, with the formation of various governmental bodies to achieve those aims.

    The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization made up of regional nations, welcomed the arrival of the new council as the “possibility of a new beginning for Haiti.”

    “CARICOM has supported Haiti, its sister nation, through the challenging process of arriving at a Haitian owned formula for governance that will take the troubled country through elections to the restoration of the lapsed state institutions and constitutional government,” the group said in a statement.

    Haiti plunged into violence after the 2021 assassination of – Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, and gang violence has grown particularly rampant in the past year.

    […] In the decree shared by Haitian outlets, officials said Haiti must hold elections by February 2026. Haiti has not had an election since 2016 and has been without a president since 2021. […]

  175. says

    Harris in Arizona: Trump ‘gaslighting’ on abortion

    Vice President Harris on Friday repeatedly knocked former President Trump during a campaign stop in Arizona where she also warned against another Trump presidency just days after the state’s Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law that made performing abortion a felony.

    Harris brought up Trump’s announcement earlier this week in which he said abortion laws should be left up to the states, while also appearing to say he would not sign a federal ban.

    “Enough with the gaslighting. We all know if Donald Trump gets the chance, he will sign a national abortion ban,” she told a crowd in Tucson.

    “He basically wants to take America back to the 1800s,” Harris added. “But we are not going to let that happen. Because, here’s the deal, this is 2024 not the 1800s and we’re not going back. We are not going back.”

    Harris’s trip was announced soon after the Tuesday ruling, which includes an extremely narrow exception allowing for an abortion “when it is necessary” to save a pregnant person’s life.

    In the critical battleground state of Arizona, Harris called the Supreme Court’s June 2022 overturning of Roe a “seismic event” adding that the Arizona ban that came down this week “is one of the biggest aftershocks yet.”

    The vice president, who noted the 1864 law was made before Arizona was a state and before women could vote, said the state court’s decision “now means women here, the women here, live under one of the most extreme abortion bans in our nation.”

    She placed the blame squarely on Trump, which President Biden’s reelection campaign has used as a strategy for months to warn about what a second term for the former president could mean for reproductive rights.

    “It has demonstrated once and for all that overturning Roe was just the opening act, just the opening act of a larger strategy to take women’s rights and freedoms. Part of a full-on attack, state-by-state, on reproductive freedom,” Harris said. […]

    “Donald Trump is the architect of this health care crisis,” she said, adding that he “brags about it” and noted Trump has said he is responsible for overturning Roe for boasting that the law was overturned by conservative justices he appointed during his first term.

    While Harris was in Arizona, Trump held a joint press conference with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) at Mar-a-Lago. Harris noted in her remarks that Trump said the collection of state bans are working the way they are supposed to be. […]

  176. Reginald Selkirk says

    Roman art showing Helen of Troy discovered in Pompeii 2,000 years after volcanic eruption

    Rare, centuries-old Roman paintings were uncovered in the ruins of Pompeii.

    The frescoes were found in a dining room in the ruined city buried under ash after a catastrophic volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. The room, about 50 feet long and 20 feet wide, opened onto a courtyard with an unroofed room and a long staircase that connected to the first floor, according to the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

    Archaeologists described the room as spectacular and surrounded by elegant black walls and decor displaying mythological character subjects inspired by the Trojan War…

  177. StevoR says

    Restructure. No article link but have been told from people who know here that many of thsoe working and studying at the SA museum ( https://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/the-museum/about/the-south-australian-museum ) * have been gagged and prevented from speaking out. ne wadmin focused on entertainment and dumbed donw not education and research and a lot of literally ancient and significant scientific treasures and resources at risk. Infuriating and worrying.

    .* See wikipage : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Australian_Museum

    Plus : https://www.indaily.com.au/news/adelaide/2024/03/13/thrown-away-more-concerns-over-sa-museum-research-plan

  178. StevoR says

    New admin – clarity typo fix.down not donw. Could swear thsi wretched old computer switches letters around on me. Sigh.

  179. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    House bill criminalizing common STIs, could turn thousands of Oklahomans into felons

    House Bill 3098 would criminalize the intentional or reckless spread of STIs. Violators could face between 2 to 5 years in prison. However reckless is not defined […] Experts fear the bill would deter folks from getting tested for STIs if they fear prosecution.

    “Oklahoma ranks 11th in the nation for chlamydia, number 5 for gonorrhea, number 4 for syphilis,” […] 85% of Oklahomans will have an HPV infection in their lifetime.

    This bill could turn nearly all Oklahomans into potential felons. […] This bill passed through the House with 78 votes in favor and only 14 against. Now HB 3098 is waiting on a vote in the Senate.

    Another article said, “While a vaccine against HPV exists, Oklahoma ranks 48th for the rate of people who have been immunized.”

  180. StevoR says

    ^ Obvs didn”t happen in retrospect. Like so many other BS conspsacies. How many gunna rethink given reality?

    Too few obvs.

    But why..?

  181. says

    Josh Marshall:

    It is bracing, remarkable and simply amazing to watch the sheer panic among Republicans, and especially Donald Trump, in reaction to the Arizona Supreme Court decision which put the state back under the near-absolute 1864 abortion ban. We talked a few days ago about Kari Lake’s desperate attempts to get out of the way of the backlash. Today Donald Trump went on Truth Social and demanded that Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Republican state legislature “remedy what has happened.” But if you look at what he says he doesn’t seem willing to call for anything more than adding rape and incest to the list of possible exceptions under the 1864 law? “We must ideally have three Exceptions for Rape, Incest, and the Life of the Mother.” [Screen grab of Trump’s post is available at the link.]

    Those are important exceptions certainly. But this demand captures how boxed in Trump and his whole party are. An absolute ban on abortion in Arizona, even with those exceptions (which tend to be more notional than real where they exist) would not, I think, meaningfully change the political backlash Arizona Republicans are trying to get out of the way of.

    That still amounts to a total ban on abortion with only three very extreme exceptions. And basically all of the horror stories we’ve heard — with women almost dying of sepsis or hemorrhaging or whatever other horrors — happen in states that actually do have exceptions for the life of the mother.

    In practice, those notional exceptions accomplish very little.

    […] In red states, the bans are absolute or close to it. It’s deep in the DNA of the party.

    As Gov. Katie Hobbs rightly said today on The View: “I am pretty tired of cleaning up Donald Trump’s messes in Arizona. This is really nothing but political opportunism coming from these folks who wanted this. This is what they wanted when they worked to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

    To paraphrase Taylor Swift: It’s them. They’re the problem. Or as the Biden campaign’s new tag line put it: Donald Trump did this.

    Link

  182. says

    Who do state Attorneys General work for?

    […] Given the destruction these [petrochemical] firms have caused, the question must be asked: why are AGs willing to deploy public resources — by way of frivolous lawsuits — to aid antagonists of the public interest in their own states?

    Follow the paper trail and you’ll find that it’s likely because AFPM [American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers] (and its member organizations) are reliable donors for AGs and for their governing organization, the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).

    As tracked by the Center for Media and Democracy, AFPM donated $246,720 from 2014-2016, $60,625 in 2017, $220,725 from 2019-2020, $40,000 in 2021 and another $75,150 in 2023. In sum, over the last ten years, AFPM organizationally has funneled at least $643,220 to RAGA overall. Member groups have also funneled money to RAGA, including Valero ($225,000 in 2023,) Exxon ($100,000 in 2023,) Chevron ($25,000 in 2023), and more.

    Such a favorable financial dynamic means that individual AGs benefit hugely from AFPM dollars, even when the people of their states don’t, and — as the numbers make clear — the people of their states don’t.

    But beyond simple mutually beneficial financial relationships, these cases highlight just how coordinated right-wing organizations are in attempting to influence policy at the state and national level. […]

    Text above is a short excerpt from a longer article: Republican AGs Are Teaming Up With The Corporations Poisoning Their States To Gut The Clean Air Act. Why?

    Identifying the evil doers:

    […] State AGs, led by Ken Paxton of Texas — and including Leslie Rutledge, current Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, Daniel Cameron, former AG of Kentucky, Lynn Fitch of Mississippi, Doug Peterson, former AG of Nebraska, Alan Wilson of South Carolina, Sean Reyes of Utah, Dave Yost of Ohio, Austin Knudsen of Montana, Thomas Rokita of Indiana, and now-Governor Jeff Landry of Louisiana — as well as counsel for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) sued NHTSA over the rule. […]

    For reference: The rule at issue is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) attempt to update the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), a tailpipe emissions standard for future vehicle fleets.

  183. says

    Excerpt from a longer article:

    […] People have always moved as their environment has changed. But today, the climate is warming faster, and the population is larger, than at any point in history.

    As the U.S. gets hotter, its coastal waters rise higher, its wildfires burn larger and its droughts last longer, the notion that humankind can triumph over nature is fading, and with it, slowly, goes the belief that self-determination and personal preference can be the driving factors in choosing where to live. Scientific modeling of these pressures suggest a sweeping change is coming in the shape and location of communities across America, a change that promises to transform the country’s politics, culture and economy.

    It has already begun. More Americans are displaced by catastrophic climate-change-driven storms and floods and fires every year. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the global nongovernmental organization researchers rely on to measure the number of people forcibly cast out of their homes by natural disasters, counted very few displaced Americans in 2009, 2010 and 2011, years in which few natural disasters struck the United States. But by 2016 the numbers had begun to surge, with between 1 million and 1.7 million newly displaced people annually.

    The disasters and heat waves each year have become legion. But the statistics show the human side of what has appeared to be a turning point in both the severity and frequency of wildfires and hurricanes. As the number of displaced people continues to grow, an ever-larger portion of those affected will make their moves permanent, migrating to safer ground or supportive communities. They will do so either because a singular disaster like the 2018 wildfire in Paradise, California — or Hurricane Harvey, which struck the Texas and Louisiana coasts — is so destructive it forces them to, or because the subtler “slow onset” change in their surroundings gradually grows so intolerable, uncomfortable or inconvenient that they make the decision to leave, proactively, by choice.

    In a 2021 study published in the journal Climatic Change, researchers found that 57% of the Americans they surveyed believed that changes in their climate would push them to consider a move sometime in the next decade. […]

    Link to “The Flooding Will Come ‘No Matter What’”

    The complex, contradictory and heartbreaking process of American climate migration is underway.

  184. tomh says

    NPR:
    Kansas governor vetoes proposed ban on gender-affirming care for minors
    By The Associated Press / APRIL 13, 2024

    TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas’ governor on Friday vetoed a proposed ban on gender-affirming care for minors, a measure to require more reporting from abortion providers and what she called a “vague” bill making it a crime to coerce someone into having an abortion.

    Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s actions set up a series of confrontations with the Republican-supermajority Legislature over those issues. The measures appeared to have the two-thirds majorities needed in both chambers to override vetoes, but GOP leaders’ success depends on how many lawmakers are absent on a given day, especially in the House.

    The two-term governor, who is term-limited, is a strong supporter of abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. Republicans control the Legislature, and they’ve joined other GOP lawmakers across the U.S. in rolling back transgender rights.
    […]

    In rejecting an attempt to have Kansas join at least 24 other states in banning or restricting gender-affirming care for minors, Kelly argued that a ban “tramples parental rights” and targets “a small group.”

    “If the Legislature paid this much attention to the other 99.8% of students, we’d have the best schools on earth,” she wrote.
    […]

  185. says

    Iran seizes cargo ship in Strait of Hormuz after threats to close waterway

    Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, days after Tehran said it could close the crucial shipping route and warned it would retaliate for an Israeli strike on its Syria consulate.

    Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters the Portuguese flagged MSC Aries, saying it was linked to Israel.

    SC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

    MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

    Video on Iranian news channels purporting to show the seizure included a figure abseiling from a helicopter on to a ship. Reuters was able to verify that the ship in the video was the MSC Aries but not the date it was recorded.

    The incident comes amid rising regional tensions since the start of Israel’s campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

    Iran has threatened to retaliate for suspected Israeli airstrikes on its consulate in Syria’s capital Damascus on April 1 that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers including two senior commanders. […]

  186. says

    Washington Post:

    President Biden’s administration announced a $6.6 billion infusion into expanding a massive semiconductor manufacturing facility in Arizona, a federal investment that administration officials argue will put a U.S.-based facility at the forefront of modern technological manufacturing.

    The federal funds are coming from the Chips and Science Act, bipartisan legislation passed in 2022 amid concerns that the United States is ceding too much semiconductor manufacturing to Asia. The lack of domestic production also became an supply chain issue during the covid pandemic, due to the use of computer chips in products including smartphones, laptops, cars and fighter jets.

    The Commerce Department has already announced two grants to individual companies under the Chips Act, with Arizona-based Microchip Technology receiving $162 million and the U.S. subsidiary of European defense contractor BAE Systems receiving $35 million. Biden last month also announced awards of up to $8.5 billion in grants and $11 billion in loans to tech giant Intel to support computer-chip production in several states.

    “We’re on a roll,” Raimondo said on the call. “We have more to come.”

  187. says

    Media Matters statement on winning injunction against Texas AG Ken Paxton in federal court

    Media Matters President and CEO Angelo Carusone issued the following statement after Judge Amit Mehta of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted Media Matters a preliminary injunction against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

    Elon Musk encouraged Republican state attorneys general to use their power to harass their critics and stifle reporting about X. Ken Paxton was one of those AGs that took up the call and he was defeated. Today’s decision is a victory for free speech.

    Key takeaways from the order:
    – As Judge Mehta noted, Media Matters’ investigative journalism and reporting “are core First Amendment activities,” and any “loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”
    – Judge Mehta prohibited Paxton from taking any steps to enforce his unlawful demand to rifle through Media Matters’ confidential documents.

    The same day that X Corp. filed a meritless lawsuit against Media Matters for America for an accurate report on the platform’s extremism, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened a similarly specious investigation into MMFA under Texas’ deceptive trade practices act. Paxton subsequently issued an overbroad and invasive civil investigative demand – despite the fact that Media Matters has no relevant connection to Texas. The nonpartisan U.S. Press Freedom Tracker which catalogs press freedom violations in the United States recently recorded an incident report related to the Texas attorney general’s investigation in their database.

    Good news. Ken Paxton and Elon Musk temporarily defeated.

  188. says

    Iran launches significant drone, missile attack on Israel

    Iran has launched a significant attack of drone and missile strikes on Israel, the White House and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said Saturday, widening fears of a regional war in the Middle East.

    Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement that it launched dozens of missiles and drones toward Israel, according to a statement shared by state-run Iranian media outlet Press TV.

    IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the “direct attack” from Iran is a “severe and dangerous escalation.”

    “Our defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness ahead of this large-scale attack from Iran,” he said in a video address. “This is a mission that we are determined and ready to fulfill.”

    A spokesperson for the National Security Council said President Biden was being regularly updated on the unfolding situation and would meet with his national security team at the White House.

    NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the attack by Iran, which had been expected for days, “is likely to unfold over a number of hours.”

    “President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran,” Watson said in a statement.

    Israel is on high alert and forces are “constantly monitoring” the situation, the IDF said, adding that the air defenses are also on alert.

    Fighter jets and naval vessels are also on a defense mission around Israel, the IDF said. […]

    Biden on Saturday afternoon had returned from a short vacation at Rehoboth Beach to head back to the White House.
    At the White House, Biden will meet with Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown and CIA Director Bill Burns.

    Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and other officials will also be in attendance, as will Vice President Harris and White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients via video link. […]

  189. says

    Followup to comment 239.

    NBC News:

    El Al has canceled 15 flights, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed to NBC News. The canceled flights were mainly from Europe to Israel.

    “In light of the closure of the airspace over Israel, some El Al flights are canceled,” a statement from the airline said.

    Updates will be posted on El Al’s website and on social media. Customers whose flights were canceled will be notified when they can book an alternative when possible.

    “El Al operates according to the instructions of the security forces and is in direct contact with them,” the spokesperson said.

    […] More than 100 unmanned aerial vehicles were launched toward Israel, the IDF confirmed to NBC News. […]

  190. says

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/jd-vance-wants-ukraine-to-give-up

    Having not learned its lesson about publishing dishonest and un-fact-checked swill from GOP senators with that whole “Tom Cotton calls for active-duty military to shoot all the hippies” debacle a few years ago, The New York Times on Friday decided to give […] JD Vance the run of its Opinion page so he could simp for Vladimir Putin’s “Phony nation of Ukraine must be stomped into ground beef under boot heel of Russian greatness” foreign policy.

    Vance has been a scumbag since, oh, ever, and if he wants to publish fact-free, self-serving screeds on Breitbart or the Daily Wire or his old Tumblr account, that’s his business. But please keep it away from allegedly legit media organs, the adults are trying to solve serious problems here.

    Yr Wonkette’s position on Ukraine is that helping the nation resist Russia’s violent takeover is the correct policy. America and the world do not need to relearn the lesson of what happens when a psychotic dictator destabilizes Europe by conquering neighboring countries with populations he does not see as actual human beings. The world has learned this lesson! More than once! Did JD Vance not take one history class in his long journey from budding psychopath to Yale Law School graduate […]?

    Vance has long opposed the Biden administration’s policy of arming Ukraine in its war against Russia. Not for principled or geopolitically defensible or even coherent reasons, mind you. It is just that opposing helping Ukraine is a surefire path to the top of Donald Trump’s nativist MAGA movement, and Vance is a self-absorbed, ambitious asshole who would throw his own family under a bus if it got him even an ounce more fame and power.

    Oh wait, he already threw his own family under the bus for an ounce of fame and power. [A reference to “Hillbilly Elegy.”] In that sense, we guess, he is consistently principled!

    Vance doesn’t have a reason for screwing Ukraine that holds up to any scrutiny beyond “Help Ukraine? But I don’t wanna!” So he has to put up a couple of strawmen.

    Mr. Biden suggests that a $60 billion supplemental means the difference between victory and defeat in a major war between Russia and Ukraine.

    Biden does not seem to have said this anywhere, so far as we can tell. What he and the rest of his administration have said very clearly for two years is that the United States will support Ukraine for as long as it takes to expel Russia from its territory. The administration may or may not change its mind about that at some point. But no one is pretending Ukraine is a measly $60 billion short of victory.

    But our national security interests can be — and often are — separate from our economic interests.

    And often they are not! The world! It’s complex!

    The notion that we should prolong a bloody and gruesome war because it’s been good for American business is grotesque. We can and should rebuild our industrial base without shipping its products to a foreign conflict.

    We’ve got news for Vance: If the US increases its industrial base to build more weapons, the weapons will go to foreign conflicts. […]

    This is the point where, in another reality, a United States senator from a Rust Belt state with underused manufacturing capacity would tell the president, “Hey, you have this need, and my state has thousands of unemployed blue collar workers who need good jobs. We can give them a way to make a good living and keep a foreign despot from overrunning a democratic country and erasing its people from existence. Let’s talk!”

    In this reality, though, JD Vance is a fucking idiot.

    In some cases, we’d agree with the sentiment about American business. But in this case, we think helping Ukraine not get crushed and wiped off the map is actually a good investment. Much of the money goes to American businesses and workers. Our European allies are happy we helped keep the war from spreading. Russia’s military capacity continues to degrade without any American soldiers having to fight. China maybe thinks twice about attacking Taiwan when it sees the commitment America has made to Ukraine. Civilians stop dying in Russian bombing raids. JD Vance gets to brag about bringing jobs home to Ohio. Where’s the downside?

    To fend off these attacks, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and others have indicated they need thousands of Patriot interceptors per year. The problem is this: The United States only manufactures 550 every year. If we pass the supplemental aid package currently being considered in Congress, we could potentially increase annual production to 650, but that’s still less than a third of what Ukraine requires.

    This op-ed is suspiciously lacking in links that would support its arguments, and here is a prime example. Yes, Zelensky has asked for more Patriot missile batteries. That is because so far, the US has given Ukraine exactly three — three! — entire batteries. […]

    Ukraine would like a couple of dozen Patriot batteries. At the moment, Zelensky is asking for a grand total of *squints at notes* seven more. And his defense minister, instead of bugging the US, is going around begging allies to send any spare batteries and missiles they may have.

    The tl;dr here is that Zelensky would like lots of Patriots. We can give him some. But because we can’t give him thousands, JD Vance has a perfect excuse to say, We can’t give you enough so we might as well not bother giving you any. […]

    Many in Washington seem to think that hundreds of thousands of young Ukrainians have gone to war with a song in their heart and are happy to label any thought to the contrary Russian propaganda.

    If there is anything we love, it is editorials in the nation’s biggest newspaper being peppered with unfalsifiable assertions. Anyway, we don’t know what people in Washington are saying. We’d imagine that the Ukrainians marching off to the front are not joyfully singing about it, though.

    The bad news is that accepting brute reality would have been most useful last spring, before the Ukrainians launched that extremely costly and unsuccessful military campaign.

    It is very easy to tell other people to just roll over and give up their country when you’re not the one who will have to choke down kelp-infused borscht.

    The good news is that even now, a defensive strategy can work. Digging in with old-fashioned ditches, cement and land mines are what enabled Russia to weather Ukraine’s 2023 counteroffensive.

    Congrats, JD, you’ve invented the Maginot Line. And the Ukrainian military would still need weaponry to shoot at the Russians before they dig themselves out of those ditches. Did you spend your entire Marine Corps stint on KP duty?

    By committing to a defensive strategy, Ukraine can preserve its precious military manpower, stop the bleeding and provide time for negotiations to commence. [JFC!]

    What negotiations? The ones where Ukraine has to swallow giving up at least a fifth of its territory because JD Vance wants Donald Trump’s minions to sweep him into the vice presidency?

    Besides, Vladimir Putin is, by all accounts, not particularly interested in negotiating with Ukraine. He set out to conquer the entire country and there is no reason to think he has changed his mind. All a settlement does is give him a couple of years to rebuild his military and his manufacturing capacity before he tries to finish the job. JD Vance won’t give a shit then either.

  191. says

    Followup to comments 239 and 240.

    Josh Marshall:

    […]
    5:34 PM: Not surprising but still notable: the UK military also appears to be involved in the shootdown effort. Highly interesting to me there are credible reports of the Jordanian and Saudi militaries already targeting parts of the Iranian attack. The Houthi militia in Yemen has apparently also entered the fray. Less clear what if anything is happening with other “axis of resistance” proxies in Lebanon, Syria or Iraq.

    5:27 PM: We now have closed airspace in Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. This isn’t surprising. It would be insane to have anything but military aircraft in the air right now. Multiple militaries and air defenses will be shooting anything in the air out of the sky. But still a measure of the moment.

    5:18 PM: From my limited understanding of these things, Israel, the US and others should be able to intercept most of these attacks, perhaps even the great majority of these drones and missiles. The much bigger question is what Israel will feel compelled to do in response.

    5:13 PM: Drones take nine or ten hours to get from Iran to Israel. Cruise missiles three to four hours.

    5:04 PM: In the last hour Iran launched a large armada on “suicide” drones against Israel, apparently in two or three waves. Israel, Jordan and probably other countries have totally closed their air space. Basically, anything in the air is going to be shot out of the sky. There are further reports that Iran has launched a volley of missiles, presumably cruise missiles. But that later detail seems less clear.

    There have been a number of on the record reports that the US and Israel are currently tracking drones en route to Israel. The confirmation that cruise missiles have already been launched less clear. It’s quite possible the drones – which can be shot down in most cases – are meant to saturate air defenses and allow other more lethal munitions to get through. That’s about all we know at the moment. Iran and Israel are not close to each other. These things take hours to get from one place to another. It is clear that the US and almost certainly regional allies are actively involved in trying to shoot all of these things down.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/iran-retaliatory-attack

  192. tomh says

    Election Law Blog:
    The Supreme Court Can No Longer Sidestep Considering January 6 and the Attempts to Subvert the 2020 Election
    Rick Hasen / April 13, 2024

    The Supreme Court was miraculously able to sidestep any grappling with attempts to subvert the 2020 presidential election in Trump v. Anderson, the case over whether Donald Trump was barred from serving as President again for encouraging an insurrection. The Court did not need to reach the issue of whether Trump’s actions qualified because they decided on technical grounds that states did not have the power of disqualification through removal from the ballot.

    But the Court cannot sidestep the issues any longer, as they are coming to the Court’s April sitting. In the Fisher case, being heard on April 16, the Court will confront the question whether January 6 rioters could be charged with obstructing an official proceeding under a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley act. The case turns on a technical issue of statutory interpretation—the meaning of the word “otherwise” in the statute—but in resolving the question it will be necessary to look at Fisher’s conduct as he invaded the Capitol, and how the Court discusses and characterizes the actions will be key.

    Then, in the Trump immunity case being heard on April 25, the issues of Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election will be front and center. Trump has been charged with a number of crimes related to his attempt to turn himself from an election loser into an election winner, and he’s arguing that he as a former president has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for any official acts as President, even those that would be illegal for every other person in the country. One of the arguments that special counsel Jack Smith is making in response is that especially crimes related to trying to overturn the results of an election and interfere with the peaceful transition of power cannot be subject to immunity—with immunity, the Supreme Court simply gives a sitting president the power to use violence, intimidation, trickery, and any other crime to turn himself from an election loser into an election winner. That would be the end of democracy.

    The Court has managed to stay out of this mess for the last 3+ years. Its free ride is over.

  193. says

    NBC News:

    When news broke that Iran had launched a retaliatory attack on Israel, some users on the social media platform X uploaded misleading videos, including footage from previous drone attacks or imagery from video games.

    In one, an X user posted a video from six months ago showing Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepting Hamas rockets in Ashkelon. In another post flagged by a reporter for the BBC, an X user falsely suggested that imagery from the video game “Arma 3” was video from today’s drone attacks.

  194. John Morales says

    Birger, totally misleading post title from master click baiter Anton.
    I’ve long since given up wasting my time on his videos.

    Anyway: Brightest ever detected, not most powerful explosion ever detected.

    “The jets themselves were not unusually powerful, but they were exceptionally narrow – much like the jet setting of a garden hose – and one was pointed directly at us, Alexander explained.”

    (https://www.nasa.gov/universe/nasa-missions-study-what-may-be-a-1-in-10000-year-gamma-ray-burst/)

  195. says

    Oh, goody, Biden’s explicitly unconditional support of Israel — which is more than even Trump was willing to give them — has caused them to increasingly attack their neighbors (beginning more than a month ago, incidentally, but until now they’ve all been too afraid of US reprisal to fight back), Iran is actually retaliating, and now we’re maybe going to see a massive war in the mideast and potentially even an actual nuclear war if Iran’s allies pull out all the stops.

    I hope that if the nukes do in fact start falling like rain, everyone who has been supporting Biden as he bankrolled Israel’s genocide and lied to try to justify it is in areas where they die as slowly and painfully as possible.

  196. John Morales says

    Bah. Another Vicarious shitpost.

    Oh, goody, Biden’s explicitly unconditional support of Israel

    In the real world (https://www.reuters.com/world/bidens-israel-shift-not-enough-democrats-too-much-republicans-2024-04-05/):

    “WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s demand this week that Israel improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza and support a ceasefire drew sharp attacks both from frustrated political allies who said the U.S. president did not go far enough and opponents who said he went too far.
    On Thursday in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden threatened to condition U.S. support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza on its taking concrete steps to protect aid workers and civilians.
    It was the first time that Biden, a Democrat and a staunch supporter of Israel, has sought to leverage U.S. aid as a way to influence Israeli military behavior.
    The president has come under enormous pressure from his party’s left wing to do more to address the humanitarian catastrophe for Palestinian civilians from Israeli attacks.”

    I hope that if the nukes do in fact start falling like rain, everyone who has been supporting Biden as he bankrolled Israel’s genocide and lied to try to justify it is in areas where they die as slowly and painfully as possible.

    Ah yes, gloating on suffering and evil wishes but conditioned on a ridiculous premise.

    Typical Vicarish thing to write.

    (Trump would, of course, be worse in every single aspect, but why use this timeline’s reality for venomous vomit, when one can just make shit up?)

  197. StevoR says

    @247. The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) : “Oh, goody, Biden’s explicitly unconditional support of Israel — which is more than even Trump was willing to give them..”

    Bullshit. Citation needed. You seriously think Trump with his fundamentalist Christianist cult base, the man with his own Israeli settlement that’s named after him (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_Heights ), the man who tried to ban Muslims from the USA and who moved the USA’s embassy to Jerusalem is going to give Israel less support than Biden? Whatever makes you think that?

  198. beholder says

    Oh great, a war with Iran. Zionists keep dragging us into messes that don’t serve the interests of ordinary Americans. It’s becoming clearer that the Democrats are the greater evil here…

    @249 StevoR

    and who moved the USA’s embassy to Jerusalem

    Nice try, but if you look at recent American history you’ll see that Sen. Biden cast a Yea vote for the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 [senate.gov], which Trump decided to enforce. Biden shares no small part of responsibility for that as Congress’s most rabid Zionist at the time. As far as support for a genocidal regime is concerned, the two are indistinguishably terrible.

  199. John Morales says

    It’s becoming clearer that the Democrats are the greater evil here…

    Nope. Not even slightly.

    (What a silly thing to write.)

    Zionists keep dragging us into messes

    Ah yes, in your transparently stupid propaganda, Biden is a Zionist. What wank.

    (You don’t even know to what that term refers, do ya?)

  200. beholder says

    @251 JM

    You don’t even know to what that term refers, do ya?

    Zionism (n.): A nationalist ideology and movement which supported first the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland and now supports the continuation of a Jewish state in Israel.

    I hope this is an uncontroversial definition. Did you have something else in mind?

    Ah yes, in your transparently stupid propaganda, Biden is a Zionist. What wank.

    Is he not? Biden himself said: “I don’t believe you have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, and I am a Zionist.”

  201. John Morales says

    Heh.

    I hope this is an uncontroversial definition. Did you have something else in mind?

    Depends, since you’re using generic outcomes instead of motivating factors as your definition.

    Here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_Zionism

    Care to specity which type of Zionist you consider Biden to be?
    They’re all Zionism, but they all differ.

    (Also, Biden is a Catholic, and therefore not subject to these stupid Biblical end-times thingies Trumpers like)

    Is he not? Biden himself said: “I don’t believe you have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, and I am a Zionist.”

    And he hugged Netanyahu, too.

    No, he is not, if you mean culturally or religiously. Not any more than Kennedy was a Berliner.
    Political theater and pandering to the party, sure.

    Point again: however bad Biden may be, Trump will for fucking sure be worse.

    The one and only thing you want to communicate is that one should not vote for Biden.

    That much is obvious.

    You harp on how bad he is, never mind how much worse Trump was and might be.

    Bah.

  202. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 246
    In Anton’s defence, his command of the intricacies of the english language is even worse than mine, possibly because he brings quirks of his original language into his english translations.
    The choice of topics is not the problem, it is the way he presents them. This is sometimes a source of irritation for me, but I am in no position to throw stones.
    Anyway, I find him a well-meaning enthusiast, struck by tragedy as he lost his son to infant death syndrome.
    .
    Yes, the gamma-ray burst came from a mostly ordinary supernova, the difference being in how narrow the polar beams were. The narrow beams meant the gamma ray intensity we received at a very large distance was higher than for any previous GRB.
    This fact could have been presented in a slightly more succint way. But he is much younger than I am so he has not polished his english.
    (Not that I consider myself polished. For improvised language use, the stand-up trio running God Awful Movies or the participants in Have I Got News For You are the champs)

  203. birgerjohansson says

    Thanks to Cass, evidence not ideology will be used to guide children seeking gender advice” | Sonia Sodha | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/apr/14/hilary-cass-review-gender-trans-young-people-children-nhs-evidence

    “Why do US celebrities love the UK? Because they don’t live here” | Emma Beddington | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/apr/14/why-do-us-celebrities-sarah-jessica-parker-love-the-uk-because-they-dont-live-here

  204. KG says

    birgerjohansson@258,
    For those who don’t know, Sonia Sodha is one of the Guardian’s most venemous transphobes. Here is a view from a “Veteran trans campaigner”, whom as it happens I knew slightly decades ago – he was a friend of my former partner.

  205. KG says

    John Morales@253,
    Biden is indeed a Zionist: he both says so, and meets the usual definition, which beholder gives correctly @25. And Biden being a Zionist doesn’t depend on beholder’s (or anyone else’s) ability to distinguish different types of Zionist. He’s a disingenuous numpty, but in this particular matter of terminology, he’s right.

  206. says

    Vicar @247, one of the few rules I enforce on this thread is that comments must not promote physical violence against other human beings. This means that you should not fantasize about violence when posting in The Infinite Thread, nor should you propose that others do violence. The rule holds even if you are speaking metaphorically or jokingly.

  207. says

    Followup to comments 239, 240 and 242.

    Josh Marshall:

    […] Current reports suggest Iran fired some three hundred aerial devices, both missiles and drones, at Israel. A substantial number of those were surface-to-surface missiles. The U.S. appears to have shot down upwards of a hundred of those with anti-missile destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and fighter jets intercepting from the air. Some of the more technical reporting I’ve seen explains how the U.S. destroyers could specifically augment Israel’s ballistic missile defenses. So not just adding more defenses to what Israel has and not just better ones, but interlocking the two, as it were, to create something much stronger.

    […] it just doesn’t add up to me that Iran fired off that much hardware and was confident that few if any of them would find their targets in Israel. The U.S. also seems to have played a very big role in the result, perhaps as many as a third of the shootdowns with other Arab states likely shooting down a small number themselves. If it was just a performative light show I don’t think you’d need the U.S. to be that heavily involved.

    What all of that would amount to is that Iran really struck hard at Israel but seems to have failed almost completely. I’m not sure this totally adds up to me. But at least for now it seems more credible to me than other theories.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/follow-up-3

  208. says

    Idaho, already in a doctor shortage, is losing doctors who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology.

    In a presentation at the Idaho State Capitol Building on Wednesday, Idaho medical leaders say the workforce shortage is exacerbated by doctors’ confusion about how to practice medicine under Idaho’s abortion ban that only allows abortion if it is needed for the mother’s life — not their health.

    And they pleaded with lawmakers for a health exception, which would allow a doctor to terminate a pregnancy to prevent significant harm to a patient, not just prevent their death. For example, if a patient’s water broke early and infection was setting in before a fetus was viable, a physician could treat the infection, which may involve terminating the pregnancy, without fear of prosecution.

    “Idaho is digging itself into a workforce hole that will take many years, if not decades, to fill. But before we can stabilize the environment and move forward, we have to stop digging. And we need more clarity in our laws to help with that,” said Susie Pouliot Keller, CEO of the Idaho Medical Association.

    If a provider is prosecuted under Idaho’s abortion law, they face two to five years in prison and could have their medical license suspended or revoked. Idaho also has a civil enforcement law, allowing doctors to be sued for at least $20,000 by any family members of a person who obtained an abortion.

    But legislation modifying Idaho’s abortion ban isn’t likely this year. The Idaho Legislature finished most of its business for the session on Wednesday and has recessed until April 10 to give itself time to address any potential vetoes Gov. Brad Little could issue.

    […] “As we move forward, it has become very clear to me that the current situation here in Idaho is no longer about pro-life or pro-choice … It’s about basic maternity care that no one in 1972 even thought about questioning,” Kasper [Dr. Megan Kasper, an OB/GYN in Canyon County] said.

    […] Idaho lost 22% of practicing obstetricians since its abortion bans took effect, according to a report by the Idaho Physician Well-Being Action Collaborative.

    “The law is ambiguous on the circumstances in which a physician is allowed to act,” Souza [Dr. Jim Souza, chief physician executive for St. Luke’s Health System] said. “The law casts the issue of life and death as if it were a black and white, binary thing. Those of us who manage life and death know that those are the poles on a spectrum. And in between lies health.” […]

    Link

    I snipped a lot of text before posting. More details are available at the link.

  209. Tethys says

    I think a better definition of Zionist is found at wiki. Context is important.

    Zionist nationalism drew from German racial nationalist Völkisch theory, that people of common descent should seek separation and to form their own state. This “racialisation of Jewish identity in the rhetoric of the founders of Zionism” was originally a reaction to European antisemitism.

    .

    It’s certainly a term that is suddenly flooding the various social media troll platforms.

    Calling Biden a Zionist is as meaningful as the tea-party calling Obama a communist antifa Marxist for his healthcare policies.

    Since Israel exists independently of the Biden administration, and is a member of NATO, Biden is LEGALLY BOUND to aid them after they were attacked.

    I notice that neither of the resident Russian mouthpieces have noted that Biden has in fact threatened to withhold further military assistance, and lo and behold, Israel has withdrawn and aid is being provided to Gaza.

    It’s possible to support both the Palestinians and Israeli people right to exist in their ancestral homeland.

  210. says

    ‘My hoo haa is gonna be out’: US Olympians slam Nike for skimpy women’s track kit

    Nike’s Team USA track and field kit for women is needlessly revealing and sexist, female athletes have said after the sportswear brand unveiled its outfits for this summer’s Olympic Games.

    Images made public on Thursday of the women’s kit on a mannequin, showing a very high-cut pantyline, triggered criticism from several athletes for what they saw as a decision to prioritize skimpiness over function. “They are absolutely not made for performance,” US steeplechaser Colleen Quigley said in a message to Reuters.

    Lauren Fleshman, the US national champion in the 5000m in 2006 and 2010, shared even harsher criticism in an Instagram post, writing: “I’m sorry, but show me one WNBA or NWSL team who would enthusiastically support this kit. This is for Olympic Track and Field. Professional athletes should be able to compete without dedicating brain space to constant pube vigilance or the mental gymnastics of having every vulnerable piece of your body on display. Women’s kits should be in service to performance, mentally and physically. If this outfit was truly beneficial to physical performance, men would wear it.”

    She added: “This is not an elite athletic kit for track and field. This is a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women’s sports. … Stop making it harder for half the population @nike @teamusa @usatf.

    ”Tara Davis-Woodhall, an American who placed sixth in the long jump at the Tokyo Games and took silver at last year’s world championships, reacted with equal parts humor and horror, commenting: “Wait my hoo haa is gonna be out.”

    Debate has raged for years over more revealing outfits for female Olympians in disciplines from beach volleyball to gymnastics, and some rules on competition wear are changing. Germany’s women’s gymnastics team wore full-length bodysuits at the Tokyo Olympics, in what they said was a stand against sexualisation in the sport. Gymnastics New Zealand last week updated its attire rules to allow women and girls to wear shorts or leggings over their leotards.

    Nike said in an email to Reuters that it was offering athletes unitard options with both a brief and a short for this Olympics, whereas it only offered the brief for the Tokyo Olympics. […]

  211. says

    Biden Official: The US Is “Not Looking For a Wider War With Iran”

    John Kirby said that President Biden does not “want to see this escalate.”

    […] White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby told Kristen Welker of NBC’s Meet the Press that President Biden does not “want to see this escalate,” even as Kirby assert again that the US will help Israel defend itself from attacks.

    “The president’s been clear: We don’t want to see this escalate. We’re not looking for a wider war with Iran,” Kirby said. “I think the coming hours and days will tell us a lot.” […]

  212. says

    The White House on Tuesday condemned “death to America” chants that surfaced online from a recent rally in Dearborn, Mich., protesting Israel’s war in Gaza.

    Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre replied, “yes” when asked if President Biden condemns the comments in the chants, which were captured on video by some attendees.

    “Peaceful protests are something that the president has also been very clear that, its important to give folks space to peacefully protest. But any type of violent rhetoric, we are going to denounce,” she said.

    Dearborn mayor Abdullah Hammoud (D) has also denounced the chants, sharing in a statement on X that “Dearborn is a city of proud Americans.” […]

    Link

  213. KG says

    Iran is actually retaliating, and now we’re maybe going to see a massive war in the mideast and potentially even an actual nuclear war if Iran’s allies pull out all the stops.

    I hope that if the nukes do in fact start falling like rain… The Vicar@247

    A massive war in the Middle East, possibly, although in my view unlikely: it’s clear Iran does not want one (although their direct attack on Israel was simply foolish – much better to have used the Israeli attack on their diplomatic premises politically), while Netanyahu has probably already achieved the aim of the provocation: to get Iran to launch a direct attack (however ineffective), and so help Israel’s allies to resist the growing public pressure to force an end to the Gaza genocide. Khamenei really isn’t very bright. As for “an actual nuclear war if Iran’s allies pull out all the stops”, neither Putin nor Xi is going to launch a nuclear war or the kind of non-nuclear attack that would risk nuclear retaliation, in the interests of Iran.

  214. says

    […] Record-level migration has brought record-breaking death to Maverick County, a border community that is ground zero in the feud between Texas and the Biden administration over migration. Whereas in a typical month years ago, officials here might have recovered one or two bodies from the river, more recently they have handled that amount in a single day. While border crossings draw the most attention in the national debate about immigration, the rising number of deaths in the Rio Grande has gone largely unnoticed.

    First responders have run out of body bags and burial plots. Their rescue boats and recovery trucks are covered in dents and scratches, scars from navigating through the brush to retrieve floating bodies. County officials say they don’t have the training or supplies to collect DNA samples of each unidentified migrant as required by state law, meaning bodies are sometimes left in fridges for months or even buried with scant attempt to identify them.

    […] “I have one now. I had one yesterday. I’m going to have more this week,” Jeannie Smith, a justice of the peace tasked with recording migrant deaths, said in February. “There is an overwhelming sense of ‘What are we going to do?’ You want to make sure they get back to their loved ones, but it’s too many people crossing the river. Where do we put the bodies?”

    The crude and haphazard manner in which migrant bodies are often being stored, identified and buried here is adding to the indignity of their deaths. It is also compounding the anguish of relatives, many of whom wait months or years to learn about the fate of loved ones, if at all.

    […] Border Patrol agents documented 281 fatalities along the southwest border in 2018; that figure had climbed to 895 in 2022, the last year for which data is available. Those numbers are an undercount because agents are not called to every incident. The Del Rio sector reported more deaths than any other.

    […] “There is a more coordinated effort,” said English-Cantu, the county’s highest-ranking elected official. He said it’s unfair that his tiny jurisdiction would be expected to handle so much without help. “It’s been a challenge, but we have finally gotten to the point where everyone is at the table.”

    The haphazard process for identifying remains leaves families to do much of the work themselves. Funeral homes also fill the void. Relatives looking for family members call searching for clues. When remains are identified, morticians work with consular officials to repatriate the body.

    At first, Memorial Funeral Chapel processed the cases for free. Now it is invoicing the county $1,200 for every cadaver transport. It’s unsustainable, elected officials said.

    “How can a tiny county survive with 200 cases of immigrants dying a year?” said County Treasurer Rito Valdez III, who is also one of the three morticians handling the bodies.

    By early March, the number of bodies in the trailer holding Cú Chub’s corpse had grown to 40. The county commission requested two additional refrigerators to handle the overflow after inquiries from The Post. For now, their plan is to continue storing bodies until more money becomes available for transportation and autopsy fees […]

    Washington Post link

    More details are available at the link, including photos and personal stories of families, individuals, and first responders.

  215. beholder says

    @253 JM

    You harp on how bad he is, never mind how much worse Trump was and might be.

    I don’t feel the need to do so, not because I don’t think Trump has done bad things, but mostly because a.) Biden is in power now, b.) being an effective incumbent opposition to Trump means demonstrating opposing policies, not merely doing the same shit Trump is going to do but campaigning solely on “I’m not Orange Man”, and c.) everyone else on this site already does the legwork of criticizing Trump.

    If this became a place where criticizing Trump was strongly discouraged like it is with Biden at the moment, you bet I would criticize him more loudly and forcefully.

    @266 Tethys

    I think a better definition of Zionist is found at wiki. Context is important.

    Zionist nationalism drew from German racial nationalist Völkisch theory, that people of common descent should seek separation and to form their own state. This “racialisation of Jewish identity in the rhetoric of the founders of Zionism” was originally a reaction to European antisemitism.

    You can certainly clarify the necessarily theocratic, ethnonationalist, and eliminationist requirements for what it means to install a Jewish state on top of people who were previously living there and support its continuation. For my purposes that makes the definition long and unwieldy when inference will do just fine.

    And yes, Biden is that kind of Zionist. He said: “Were there no Israel, there wouldn’t be a Jew in the world that is safe.” Consider that for a minute, and you’ll find it chilling (I know I do) that the president of the United States would say such a thing.

    It’s possible to support both the Palestinians and Israeli people right to exist in their ancestral homeland.

    If you reject a Jewish state (or an Islamic state, for that matter), and require one secular state, perhaps. Unfortunately that’s not what is being seriously discussed in the halls of power, and in the meantime a Zionist regime will choose instead to eliminate the undesirable demographics who stand in the way of a Jewish state.

  216. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Supplemental links for Jean #272 and Tethys #266.

    Wikipedia – Partnership for Peace

    (NATO) program aimed at creating trust and cooperation between the member states of NATO and other states mostly in Europe, including post-Soviet states […] military-to-military cooperation on training, exercises, disaster planning and response, science and environmental issues, professionalization, policy planning, and relations with civilian government. During policy negotiations in the 1990s, a primary controversy regarding PfP was its ability to be interpreted as a program that is a stepping stone for joining NATO with full Article 5 guarantees.

     
    The European Neutrals and NATO, a book analyzing NATO partnerships, called the Mediterranean Dialogue (including Israel) the “southern counterpart to the PfP”.

    (p53): The [PfP] programme was voluntary, with each partner choosing the extent of cooperation with NATO and the types of activities it engaged in with the Alliance.
    […]
    By establishing the formal status of partner, NATO created the institutional possibility of states who were not members but were actively engaged with the Alliance and its activities.
    […]
    The blurring of the boundary between members and partners served two objectives: it was a means of integrating post-communist states with NATO and the West, even if they might not become full members; and, if NATO was to enlarge, it was a means of softening the potential dividing line between an enlarged NATO and those states remaining outside the Alliance.
    […]
    Fundamentally, the Article 5 security guarantee at the heart of the NATO Treaty is extended to members and not to partners. Both existing members and aspirants, further, were reluctant to allowing any blurring that might weaken the Article 5 security guarantee. […] there remain important parts of NATO activities, for example key elements of political consultation and defence planning, which have remained closed off to partners.

  217. Tethys says

    Thanks for the clarification sky captain.

    I don’t pretend to know the precise details of the NATO alliance, but the trolls have a habit of omitting the inconvenient fact that the US is legally bound to render aid to Israel if they are attacked.

    Biden has also been key to getting Israel to withdraw and getting aid to the Palestinians, but that reality doesn’t seem to register with our resident trolls.

    Blabbering on about Zionists is so much easier.

    Maybe the people most affected can figure out how to fix their most urgent problem, which is Netanyahu.

  218. says

    Chinese organized crime’s latest US target: Gift cards

    […] Federal authorities are investigating the involvement of Chinese organized crime rings in gift card fraud schemes that have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars or more from American consumers.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has launched a task force, whose existence has not previously been reported, to combat a scheme known as “card draining,” in which thieves use stolen or altered card numbers to siphon off money before the owner can spend it. The initiative has been dubbed “Project Red Hook,” for the perpetrators’ ties to China and their exploitation of cards hung in store kiosks on “J-hooks.”

    […] Over the past 18 months, law enforcement across the country has arrested about 100 people for card draining, of whom 80 to 90 are Chinese nationals or Chinese Americans, according to Adam Parks, a Homeland Security assistant special agent in charge based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Parks, who is leading the task force, estimates that another 1,000 people could be involved in card draining in the U.S., mostly as runners for the gangs.

    “We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially billions of dollars, [and] that’s a substantial risk to our economy and to people’s confidence in their retail environment,” he told ProPublica.

    Card draining is when criminals remove gift cards from a store display, open them in a separate location, and either record the card numbers and PINs or replace them with a new barcode. The crooks then repair the packaging, return to a store and place the cards back on a rack. When a customer unwittingly selects and loads money onto a tampered card, the criminal is able to access the card online and steal the balance.

    Federal investigators believe multiple Chinese criminal organizations are involved in card draining and are using the proceeds to fund other illicit activities, from narcotics to human trafficking, according to Parks. ProPublica recently revealed Chinese organized crime’s involvement in the illegal U.S. cannabis industry and the laundering of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl profits. ProPublica has also exposed how Walmart and other retailers have facilitated the spread of gift card fraud and has revealed the role of Chinese fraud rings in gift card laundering.

    […] “It’s not just a one-store problem,” Vollenweider said. “It’s not just a Secret Service or DHS or FBI problem. It’s an industry problem that needs to be addressed.”

    Americans are expected to spend more than $200 billion on gift cards this year, according to an industry estimate. Retailers love gift cards because they drive sales and profit: Consumers typically spend more than a card’s value when they shop, and chains like Walmart and Target earn a profit when someone buys a third-party gift card, such as those from Apple or Google.

    Data from retailers and consumers shows that card draining has skyrocketed in recent years. Target alone has seen $300 million stolen from customers due to card draining, according to comments last June from a company loss prevention officer contained in a Florida sheriff’s office report. A recent survey by AARP, the nonprofit advocacy group for people over age 50, found that almost a quarter of Americans have given or received a card with no balance on it, presumably because the money had been stolen. More than half of victims surveyed said they couldn’t get a credit or refund. […]

    Target and Walmart have faced class-action suits from consumers who bought or received gift cards only to discover the balance had been stolen. In each case, the plaintiffs alleged that the companies have failed to secure the packaging of gift cards and to monitor their displays. “The tampering of Gift Cards purchased from Target is rampant and widespread and Target is well-aware of the problem, yet Target continues to sell unsecure Gift Cards susceptible to tampering without warning consumers of this fact,” reads the complaint in the Target case.

    […] Gift card scammers linked to Chinese criminal organizations trick their victims in many ways besides card draining. Some scams dupe victims into unwittingly paying criminals with gift cards. Whatever the ruse, the crime rings make use of low-level “runners” in the U.S., who are almost exclusively Chinese nationals or Chinese Americans. In card draining, the runners assist with removing, tampering and restocking of gift cards, according to court documents and investigators.

    A single runner driving from store to store can swipe or return thousands of tampered cards to racks in a short time. “What they do is they just fly into the city and they get a rental car and they just hit every big-box location that they can find along a corridor off an interstate,” said Parks.

    […] DHS is looking at whether Chinese criminal organizations bring people into the U.S. to use them as card-draining runners. John Cassara, a retired federal agent and the author of “China-Specified Unlawful Activities: CCP Inc., Transnational Crime and Money Laundering,” said Chinese criminal enterprises often smuggle workers across the border for other enterprises such as prostitution or growing marijuana.

    Parks said investigators are aware that “some of the individuals who were arrested were within weeks to months of being encountered illegally crossing the southern border.”

    Other alleged card-draining runners entered the U.S. legally and told police they were hired via online postings. […]

    […] Criminals use software to automatically check gift card balances so they can be alerted when a customer buys and loads money onto a tampered card. The fraudsters typically export electronics [bought with tampered gift cards] back to China to resell them, according to Vollenweider.

    Parks said Red Hook is recommending anti-fraud measures to retailers, such as closer scrutiny of gift card displays, while also heightening awareness of the problem […] The task force hopes to work with local police to locate and charge previously released runners.

    “It’s important for us to start delivering consequences,” he said.

  219. says

    Tethys @276, I agree that Netanyahu is a problem.

    In related news:

    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said Sunday that Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) must decide whether to hold a vote on Ukraine aid […]

    In an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” moderator Margaret Brennan asked McCaul about House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) recent statement that the House would consider legislation this week to support Israel. Brennan asked whether Scalise was referring to the national security supplemental package, which includes aid for Ukraine as well as Israel.

    “That is a Speaker determination. I will be speaking, talking to him, this evening with other national security people and chairs,” McCaul said.

    McCaul said he has a “commitment” from Johnson on getting a vote on Ukraine aid and that he hopes the vote is this week.

    […] McCaul stressed the urgency of the situation in Ukraine and said he needs to educate his colleagues in the House about the inextricable link between aiding Israel and aiding Ukraine.

    “I talked to the ambassador, our ambassador to Ukraine as well. She said the situation is dire. You know, Kharkiv could implode any day now. That’s 2 million people. And the power grid is under threat right now. If the power grid goes out in Ukraine altogether, we don’t have time on our side here, Margaret,” he said. […]

    Link

  220. John Morales says

    beholder:

    If this became a place where criticizing Trump was strongly discouraged like it is with Biden at the moment, you bet I would criticize him more loudly and forcefully.

    There is no such strong discouragement about criticising Biden in this place; the problem is that some people (such as you) do not want people to vote for him because of his supposed warlike stance and anti-Palestinian views, and then claim that “It’s becoming clearer that the Democrats are the greater evil here…” on that basis, which is absolute bullshit.

    ‘Tis the bullshit that gets the pushback, not criticism of Biden, which PZ actually does do (cf. https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/04/04/its-the-insincerity-joe/).

    Fact is that USAnians will either have Biden or Trump as their next President, and it’s pretty fucking clear who is the worse choice for both the country and the world as a whole.

  221. Reginald Selkirk says

    Texas surgeon accused of secretly blocking patients from getting transplants

    An accomplished and prominent transplant surgeon in Texas allegedly falsified patient data in a government transplant waiting list, which may have prevented his own patients from receiving lifesaving liver transplants, according to media reports and hospital statements.

    Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center halted its liver transplant program on April 3 after finding “irregularities” with donor acceptance criteria, the Houston Chronicle reported based on a statement from the hospital. At the time there were 38 patients on the hospital’s wait list for a liver. Earlier this week, the hospital also halted its kidney transplant program, telling the Chronicle that it was pausing operations to “evaluate a new physician leadership structure.”

    Memorial Hermann has not named the surgeon behind the “inappropriate changes,” but The New York Times identified him as Dr. Steve Bynon, a surgeon who has received numerous accolades and, at one point, appears to have been featured on a billboard. Bynon oversaw both the liver and kidney transplant programs at Memorial Hermann.

    According to the Times, the hospital said that a doctor in its liver transplant program had admitted to changing patient records, and those changes led to patients being denied transplants. Officials who spoke with the Times identified said physician as Bynon…

    Just wait until Republicans hear about this. They will be all aroar over this attempt to stifle Dr. Bynon’s free speech.

  222. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Tethys #276:

    the US is legally bound to render aid to Israel if they are attacked.

    Missile defense is all I can find.
     
    US Dept of State – U.S. Relations with Israel (2023)

    The abiding U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is buttressed by robust security assistance to Israel—including the 10-year, $38 billion MOU […] Missile defense funding supports several cooperative missile defense programs
    […]
    The United States and Israel also participate in […] joint military exercises, research, and weapons development. Through […] regular strategic dialogues, the United States and Israel are able to collaborate closely to address a range of regional threats.

     
    Whitehouse – Fact sheet: Memorandum of Understanding Reached with Israel (2016)

    The new 10-year security assistance [MOU] to Israel is the most recent reflection of President Obama’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.
    […]
    [Lots of money…] missile defense commitment […] spare parts, weapons, and simulators […] research and development

     
    Reuters – US military support for Israel: What does it provide? (2024)

    What aid is mandated by law?
    In 2016, the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, covering the period from Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2028. The MOU provides a total of $38 billion in military aid over the 10 years, $33 billion in grants to buy military equipment and $5 billion for missile defense systems.

    Reuters understated the MoU but didn’t mention any other treaty-type obligations.

  223. Tethys says

    @Sky Captain

    Your previous link outlined the difference between NATO members, versus partners such as Israel. There are a few differences, but it still constitutes a legal obligation on the part of the US to support its NATO partners in case of Hamas terrorist attacks and Iranian drone strikes.

    Equally, it was NATO and the Biden administration that exerted pressure on Israel to withdraw from Gaza.

    Vicar and beholder are still spouting Putin propaganda with their ridiculous claims about Biden. This week he’s a Zionist!!!
    Last week he was genociding Gaza.

    I truly believe they are paid Russian trolls, as demonizing the Democratic candidates for POTUS is the only reason either of them comment.

  224. birgerjohansson says

    I assume you have already heard about
    Scott DeJarlais, congressman (R) from Tennesse. He was caught on tape asking his mistress to get an abortion.
    In his divorce proceedings it was revealed he and his ex-wife have had two abortions. Yet he voted against abortion in congress.

  225. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Tethys #285:
    Sorry, I’d somehow misread you clearly saying “aid when attacked” as “defend when attacked”, and I fell down a rabbit hole. Training, funding, and arming vs actively intervening with US troops like the missile interceptions in #263.

  226. StevoR says

    @250. beholder :

    @249 StevoR : ...and who moved the USA’s embassy to Jerusalem.

    Nice try, but if you look at recent American history you’ll see that Sen. Biden cast a Yea vote for the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 [senate.gov], which Trump decided to enforce. Biden shares no small part of responsibility for that as Congress’s most rabid Zionist at the time. As far as support for a genocidal regime is concerned, the two are indistinguishably terrible.

    That vote by – among many others – Biden was back in 1995 when Bill Clinton was POTUS. As we all know that didn’t actually see the embassy moved.

    The USA’s embassy was moved to Jerusalem by Trump in May 2018.

    So yeah, it was Trump NOT Biden who actually did that.

    No, the two choices for POTUS are NOT the same.

  227. KG says

    Your previous link outlined the difference between NATO members, versus partners such as Israel. There are a few differences, but it still constitutes a legal obligation on the part of the US to support its NATO partners in case of Hamas terrorist attacks and Iranian drone strikes. – Tethys@285

    Show us the text which mandates this. You were simply wrong in claiming Israel is a member of NATO, so you need to identify an actual law or treaty that makes the action the US took a legal obligation. Simply asserting that it is one is not sufficient. (I should perhaps say that in this case I approve of the action US and allied forces took, which make further escalation slightly less likely; the episode has shown that Israel is dependent on outside forces to defend it from missile attack, which is interesting.)

  228. tomh says

    From the NYT live updates of the Trump trial:

    5 minutes ago
    Trump appears to be sleeping. His head keeps dropping down and his mouth goes slack.

    4 minutes ago
    Trump has apparently jolted back awake, noticing the notes his lawyer passed him several minutes ago.

  229. says

    Campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    Two years ago, when Trump was supporting Mehmet Oz’s Republican Senate candidacy in Pennsylvania, the former president trashed his GOP rival, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick. Over the weekend, however, Trump held a rally in the Keystone State and endorsed McCormick’s second attempt. An Associated Press report added, “McCormick — who splits his time in Connecticut, where he has a home — did not attend the rally.”

    LOL

    Speaking of McCormick, Bloomberg reported late last week that the Senate hopeful led a hedge fund as it “steered millions of dollars of investments into Chinese companies that produce fighter jets, bombers, planes equipped to jam enemy radars, and the country’s first domestically built aircraft carrier.”

  230. says

    More campaign news:

    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who’s reportedly under consideration for the GOP’s vice presidential nomination, has now been banned from four Native American tribes’ land. As my MSNBC colleague Clarissa-Jan Lim explained, the pushback is the result of the Republican governor linking tribal leaders to Mexican drug cartels.

    Voter suppression in Idaho:

    the Idaho Supreme Court last week upheld a state law that says student IDs can’t be used as an acceptable form of identification to vote. The law was passed last year by Republican legislators.

  231. says

    […] Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast and continued to peddle the same rhetoric she’s pushed since Russia invaded Ukraine more than two years ago. “Vladimir Putin has not said he wants to go march across Europe and take Europe,” the Georgia Republican said, as if the Russian autocrat is a credible source of information. [MTG is both gullible and stupid. A good Putin puppet.]

    The same day, The New York Times published an op-ed from Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio — a persistent opponent of U.S. support for Ukraine, and a man who has professed his total indifference to Ukraine’s future — which argued that a Russian victory is inevitable.

    President Biden wants the world to believe that the biggest obstacle facing Ukraine is Republicans and our lack of commitment to the global community. This is wrong. Ukraine’s challenge is not the G.O.P.; it’s math. Ukraine needs more soldiers than it can field, even with draconian conscription policies. And it needs more matériel than the United States can provide. This reality must inform any future Ukraine policy, from further congressional aid to the diplomatic course set by the president.

    The reality is far more complex. Indeed, just hours after the Ohioan’s op-ed reached the public, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner published a notable item to social media, noting just how much damage Ukraine did over the course of the first two years of the conflict to Russia’s military capabilities.

    In 2 years, Ukraine – with less than 3% of our defense budget – has effectively eliminated:

    87% of Russia’s preexisting ground forces
    63% of their tank capacity
    32% of their armored personnel carriers

    …all without endangering a single American or NATO soldier.

    […] the missive countered Vance’s case for defeatism. The idea that Russia is simply too strong and dominant to lose, so the West should simply allow Putin to take part of eastern Europe by force, is belied by recent evidence.

    The Senate Republican nevertheless kept going down the same path, sitting down with CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday and arguing that the United States should encourage Ukraine to “take a defensive posture,” instead of launching counteroffensives against their Russian invaders.

    It fell to the host to remind his guest, “The counteroffensive is within Ukraine, though. They’re not seeking land from Russia.” [True!]

    It’s likely that officials in Moscow were pleased with Vance’s latest rhetorical push, but Americans should be far less impressed.

    Link

  232. says

    For Real?

    Sometimes it pays to take a step back and soak in the sheer absurdity of Trump and the current moment. It remains true that he and his movement are a threat to the Republic and the constitutional order while at the same time being a comical combination of goofy, ridiculous, preposterous, and transparently absurd.

    Just look at the alleged pretext for the Stormy Daniels hush money scheme. The “[P-Word] grabbing” Access Hollywood video had just come out in the waning days of the 2016 campaign, creating a crisis that he thought his campaign might not survive if his dalliance with a porn star was made public, too. Let that soak in.

    I know that you know what happened next. But have you taken time lately to marvel at the ham-handedness of it all?

    Trump’s solution, with the help of the tabloid National Enquirer, was a scheme to pay Daniels for her silence. He actually wrote her checks. Checks! The scheme continued after Trump won the election – while he was in the White House.

    For those of us who have endured Republican moralizing for our entire lives, the hush money scheme rips away all the pretensions. […]

    The three big themes of TPM’s trial coverage will be (i) the historic first of a former president on criminal trial; (ii) accountability at long last for Trump himself; (iii) his ongoing corrosive attacks on the rule of law and the justice system.

    But the through line here is the absurdism of American politics in the era of Trump.

    […] Trump’s New Play For Delay In The MAL Case
    Seeking to play his hush money trial off against the Mar-a-Lago documents case, Trump is seeking new delays in the Florida case even though U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon set deadlines in the case with the New York case already in mind.

    Link

  233. StevoR says

    Major flooding in parts of Kazakhstan & Russia :

    More than 125,000 people have been displaced by flooding in Russia’s southern Ural region and northern Kazakhstan, authorities said on Monday. Swiftly melting snow swelled several rivers in the region last week, including the Ural, Europe’s third-largest river, with authorities saying that water levels had risen by meters in a matter of hours to the highest levels ever recorded. Authorities said floodwaters continue to rise, posing further threats.

    Source : https://www.dw.com/en/devastating-floods-ravage-kazakhstan-and-russia/a-68822555

  234. says

    […] Members of the LDS church make up just over 5% of the population in Arizona. But in this state, margins matter — making it prime for all kinds of voting blocs to flex their power. The Trump campaign nationally struggled to court reliably Republican LDS voters in 2016, and again in 2020, and recently views on Trump have not improved. In a state where tight margins and voter enthusiasm could determine the White House, several self-identifying Republican LDS women say the party has left them behind.

    […] LDS members are typically reliable Republican voters. But changes in the GOP over the last eight years under Trump’s leadership have led to hesitation.

    […] Stan Barnes, a political consultant in Phoenix, agrees that Republican voters — particularly women — turning away from their party’s candidates has helped Democrats win the presidency and the governor’s office.

    “There are people all over Arizona that are otherwise Republican voters that don’t know what to do because they cannot get over Donald Trump’s jackassery,” Barnes said. “They don’t know how to bring themselves to vote for someone that they judge to be so flawed as a human being.”

    […] “We’re very involved citizens. So you’re going to get active people [who do and don’t support Trump],” said Jane Andersen, a member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a nonprofit group that promotes civic engagement among the LDS community. “But I think there is a vested interest, especially for women, in becoming active in this sphere.”

    […] All the women who gathered to speak to NPR are members of the LDS church, and all, at least at one point, were registered Republicans.

    […] Despite Arizona holding a closed primary where independents could not participate, Nikki Haley — who generally attracted independent voters — received nearly 20% of the vote.

    […] Maricopa County has the third-highest number of church congregations, or “stakes,” and temples. What makes the LDS community unique, Spilsbury said, is that, unlike other religions, members do not get to pick which congregation they attend. It is split up geographically, like school districts.

    […] “I have about five or six families in our ward that will not speak to my husband and I over political differences. And these are people whom we have served with throughout the years and have incredible sacred experiences together,” Spilsbury said. “And because we have political differences now, we can’t be friends. And that’s painful.”

    […] Spilsbury finds political power on all sides in what she calls the “Maricopa County, East Valley Mormon moms.”

    “Moms make the world go round and nothing gets done without us. And we have power,” Spilsbury said, noting that her youngest of six will be 18 this election. “Our voices matter. What we teach our kids matters.”

    The text above is excerpted from a longer NPR article.

    Link

  235. says

    Juan Merchan, the trial judge in the New York hush-money case:

    Defendant appears to take the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pre-trial publicity will never subside. However, this view does not align with reality. In just the past 12 months, Defendant has very publicly been involved in a multitude of criminal and civil cases across several states in both federal and state jurisdictions. In this County alone, Defendant has had two civil trials, one in State Court and the other in Federal Court. In those two matters, he was personally responsible for generating much, if not most, of the surrounding publicity with his public statements, which were often made just a few steps outside the courtroom where the proceedings were being conducted, and with his unrelenting media posts attacking those he perceived to be responsible for his plight. The situation Defendant finds himself in now is not new to him and at least in part, of his own doing.

  236. says

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

    […] Politico reports that Trump supporters outside the courtroom are outnumbered by the news media. A paucity of Trump supporters has been evident in every trial and court appearance so far.

    Andrew Giuliani and Laura Loomer are reportedly there, along with pundits from Newsmax. They may not be getting the images they want.
    ———————-
    While arguing for the admission of tweets and social media posts evocative of Trump’s pressure campaign on witnesses, the DA’s office drops this: “Shortly, we will be seeking an order to show cause why Defendant should not be held in contempt” for violating the gag order.
    ———————–
    One of the first issues Merchan has dealt with is Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. The tape itself has been excluded, but prosecutors have secured the right to use the transcript.
    ————————-
    So far this morning, we’ve not yet seen any prospective jurors. But Judge Merchan has already denied Trump’s second recusal motion & ruled that evidence of the National Inquirer’s stories to accentuate Trump’s virtues and to damage his opponents can be admitted

    Link

  237. says

    StevoR @297, forest fires in Russia were more of a problem than usual when all the soldiers were fighting in the war against Ukraine. Makes me wonder if it is the same with other natural disasters like flooding.

    Russian leaders use army soldiers to deal with natural disasters … or at least they used to. So what do they do now? Putin has depleted the resources he would normally use to rescue people from flooding in Russia’s southern Ural region and northern Kazakhstan.

  238. Tethys says

    @287 skycaptain

    Sorry, I’d somehow misread you clearly saying “aid when attacked” as “defend when attacked”, and I fell down a rabbit hole.

    No problem. Your links were very informative although it’s somewhat depressing to read in detail all of the resources utterly wasted on the need for weaponry and war.

    KG @290

    Show us the text which mandates this. You were simply wrong in claiming Israel is a member of NATO, so you need to identify an actual law or treaty that makes the action the US took a legal obligation.

    I was wrong on the classification of Israel as a NATO member vs NATO partner, not the legal obligation. I consider the legal part simply a matter of fact claim, but apparently it’s not common knowledge that international agreements are legally binding?

    From the link provided bý John Morales (ty) @284

    The United States and Israel have signed multiple bilateral defense cooperation agreements, to include: a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (1952); a General Security of Information Agreement (1982); a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (1991); and a Status of Forces Agreement (1994).

    [.. snipped paragraph about minefield clearing in Gaza..]

    Israel has been designated as a U.S. Major Non-NATO Ally under U.S. law. This status provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation and is a powerful symbol of their close relationship with the United States. Consistent with statutory requirements, it is the policy of the United States to help Israel preserve its QME, or its ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties. This requires a quadrennial report to Congress, for arms transfers that are required to be Congressionally notified, and a determination that individual arms transfers to the region will not adversely affect Israel’s QME.

  239. says

    House postpones ‘Appliance Week’ to focus on things that actually matter

    The Republican House was all set to devote a week of floor time to a bunch of pointless messaging bills like the “Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act, “Liberty in Laundry Act,” and “Refrigerator Freedom Act.” Following Iran’s missile attack on Israel over the weekend, though, leadership decided that liberating our refrigerators has to take a back seat to pretending to do something meaningful.

    On Saturday, Majority Leader Steve Scalise announced that “the House will move from its previously announced legislative schedule next week to instead consider legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable.” So far, that means a flurry of messaging bills including non-binding resolutions like “Condemning Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel.” In other words, bills that sound serious but don’t actually do anything.

    Doing something, for both Israel and Ukraine, is all up to House Speaker Mike Johnson. The aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan has been pending in the House since the Senate passed it two months ago. All Johnson needs to do is put it on the floor for a vote. That’s what a bipartisan group of 90 lawmakers asked him to do in a letter sent on Sunday.

    […] Some senior GOP lawmakers made high-profile pitches for the aid package on the Sunday shows.

    […] House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner of Ohio argued on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that it had to be done, saying the House would pass the combined aid bill this week with “overwhelming support,” insisting that the speaker supports such aid.

    […] Johnson, however, is still being controlled by Donald Trump and the MAGA wing of his conference. While he got a sort of endorsement from Trump in his pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago last Friday, Trump made sure that Johnson knows who is still calling the shots on Ukraine aid.

    “We’re looking at it right now, and they’re talking about it, and we’re thinking about making it in the form of a loan instead of just a gift,” Trump said after the two met. [Oh FFS]

    It’s all down to how much pressure Johnson is going to feel from his key committee chairs along with House Democrats, the Senate, and the White House to counteract Trump, and timing is a big part of that. Congress is scheduled to be out again for a full week next week, and anything Johnson does that isn’t the Senate bill will have to go through the Senate again.

  240. birgerjohansson says

    We are turning our world into Giedi Prime. *
    “Last year the UN’s panel on biodiversity IPBES warned that one million species face extinction as manmade activity has already severely degraded three quarters of land on Earth.”

    *And the Harkonnens are running for office.

  241. says

    Followup to comment 300.

    To clarify the aspect of the gag order that the district attorney’s office has asked Merchan to address, it’s not Trump’s attack on the judge’s daughter or claims about the justice system.

    The cited messages are attacks Trump has made on prospective witnesses including Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels. Trump issued a series of messages in the last week that the prosecution views as being in violation of the expanded gag order originally issued in March.

    Before going off to lunch, Trump was given a Parker warning.

    Merchan to Trump: “If you disrupt the proceedings, you can be excluded from the courtroom and committed to jail based on your conduct and the trial will continue on in your absence…do you understand?”

    ———————
    Merchan announces he will not rule on the gag order for nine days. Trump is bound to take this as a holiday from constraints.
    ————————–
    Trump’s attorneys were served the order to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. They get four days to prepare a response. Then arguments on April 24.

    Mark this down as another day in which Trump isn’t held accountable.
    ———————-
    Trump has STILL not designated his trial
    exhibits, he’s very late & judge has had it

    Trump has 24 hours to do it

    Blanche argued the 200k docs, judge says “it’s not really 200k,” nothing doing
    ————————-
    During lunch, Trump again toed the line of his gag order, posting a video of his ally Laura Loomer that includes her making references to Justice Merchan’s wife and Michael Cohen.

  242. says

    While not even close to the most pressing stories of the day, I thought people might get a kick out of what’s happening to Trump Media. As of this morning, the stock is down yet another 17% trading at $26.96. This is down from it’s initial high of $71.93 on 3/27, not even a month ago. I’m guessing the combination of generating almost no income and its figurehead starting his criminal trial today isn’t great for investor confidence.

    Link

    Graph at the link.

  243. says

    Followup to comments 300 and 305.

    Per The New York Times coverage of the trial, Trump supporters who had gathered in a park near the courthouse have largely wandered away. Peak attendance was around 150 people.

    Not enough to stage a new insurrection.

  244. says

    The Supreme Court effectively abolishes the right to mass protest in three US states

    It is no longer safe to organize a protest in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas.

    The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will not hear Mckesson v. Doe. The decision not to hear Mckesson leaves in place a lower court decision that effectively eliminated the right to organize a mass protest in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

    Under that lower court decision, a protest organizer faces potentially ruinous financial consequences if a single attendee at a mass protest commits an illegal act.

    It is possible that this outcome will be temporary. The Court did not embrace the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision attacking the First Amendment right to protest, but it did not reverse it either. That means that, at least for now, the Fifth Circuit’s decision is the law in much of the American South.

    For the past several years, the Fifth Circuit has engaged in a crusade against DeRay Mckesson, a prominent figure within the Black Lives Matter movement who organized a protest near a Baton Rouge police station in 2016.

    The facts of the Mckesson case are, unfortunately, quite tragic. Mckesson helped organize the Baton Rouge protest following the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. During that protest, an unknown individual threw a rock or similar object at a police officer, the plaintiff in the Mckesson case who is identified only as “Officer John Doe.” Sadly, the officer was struck in the face and, according to one court, suffered “injuries to his teeth, jaw, brain, and head.”

    Everyone agrees that this rock was not thrown by Mckesson, however. And the Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware (1982) that protest leaders cannot be held liable for the violent actions of a protest participant, absent unusual circumstances that are not present in the Mckesson case — such as if Mckesson had “authorized, directed, or ratified” the decision to throw the rock.

    […] The reason Claiborne protects protest organizers should be obvious. No one who organizes a mass event attended by thousands of people can possibly control the actions of all those attendees, regardless of whether the event is a political protest, a music concert, or the Super Bowl. So, if protest organizers can be sanctioned for the illegal action of any protest attendee, no one in their right mind would ever organize a political protest again.

    […] So, under the Fifth Circuit’s rule, a Ku Klux Klansman could sabotage the Black Lives Matter movement simply by showing up at its protests and throwing stones.

    […] And what, exactly, were the “unreasonably dangerous conditions” created by the Mckesson-led protest in Baton Rouge? The Fifth Circuit faulted Mckesson for organizing “the protest to begin in front of the police station, obstructing access to the building,” for failing to “dissuade” protesters who allegedly stole water bottles from a grocery store, and for leading “the assembled protest onto a public highway, in violation of Louisiana criminal law.”

    Needless to say, the idea that the First Amendment recedes the moment a mass protest violates a traffic law is quite novel. And it is impossible to reconcile with pretty much the entire history of mass civil rights protests in the United States.

    […] In fairness, the Court’s decision to leave the Fifth Circuit’s attack on the First Amendment in place could be temporary. As Sotomayor writes in her Mckesson opinion, when the Court announces that it will not hear a particular case it “expresses no view about the merits.” The Court could still restore the First Amendment right to protest in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas in a future case. […]

  245. says

    Sigh:

    Last year, the United States experienced its hottest summer ever, while Florida had the hottest July and August on record for them. We can imagine that was pretty unpleasant for everyone, but most especially for those who have to work outside all day in the hot sun.

    Now, you might consider it common sense that those people would, at the bare minimum, be given water breaks and time in the shade so they don’t die of heat stroke. But no. Not always. That would be why, according to Public Citizen, at least 2,000 people die on the job each year, and why 170,000 are injured in heat-stress-related accidents each year.

    But you know who is pretty okay with that? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who just last week signed a bill barring local governments from instituting their own very basic heat-related regulations.

    […] he signed it into law without a press conference, simply dropping a press release announcing it later in the day.

    This is likely a response to Miami-Dade County’s decision to institute its own regulations last year, in response to it being so hot out.

    “The intent of the bill is to ensure that employers have the ability to govern themselves and make sure they create the best working environment for their employees,” said bill sponsor Sen. Jay Trumbell (R-Panama City), a man who apparently believes that some workers for some companies maybe do really good work if they are outside all day in 100-degree weather.

    […] Lupe Gonzalo knows this reality well. She used to pick tomatoes in Florida during the summer and she’d find herself woozy from the heat. Sometimes she’d cramp up or get piercing headaches. Gonzalo shoved bottles of water into every pocket, but even that wasn’t nearly enough to get her through the day. Some colleagues, she says, went to the hospital with heat exhaustion—and some even died.

    “Without water, without rests, without shade, the body of a worker—it resents it,” Gonzalo says in Spanish.

    You can’t physically torture people, make them watch their coworkers die and then expect them to do a great job.

    Here’s what I really don’t get though. I get that these people didn’t care about workers, but if I just loved capitalism and wanted these businesses to thrive, I would absolutely want to pass a law regulating these kinds of things. Sure! They may think they’re saving a lot of time and money not letting their workers take water breaks or providing any shade, but they’re being set up for lawsuits, bad publicity and maybe even the smallest amount of guilt (kidding!) should their workers start dropping like flies. Sometimes you have to save people from themselves.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/ron-desantis-gonna-make-you-sweat

  246. says

    More MAGA lies:

    Elise Stefanik, the election-denying self-described “Ultra-MAGA” Republican rep from the 21st district of New York, talked upstate rubes into electing her in 2014 by touting her self-made humble beginnings. But turns out the construction of her image is shoddier than Carmela Soprano’s spec house […]

    When she was running for her seat back in 2014, she snarked to Democrat rival Aaron Wolf that he was “the only multimillionaire” in the race. “I’m proud of my experience working in my family’s small business. We sell plywood.” She said of her parents, “they risked, really, everything we had as a family to start a business from scratch, and it was very, very difficult,” she told C-SPAN host Steve Scully, evoking images of little Elise dressed in a hand-me-down flour sack, dining on gruel.

    But not exactly. Her parents started their company in 1991 with a Small Business Administration-guaranteed loan worth $335,000, or about $750k today, even though they owned a second home in Lake Champlain. Their business was successful enough that they put Elise through private school at Albany Academy for Girls […]

    and bought Elise a $1.2 million townhouse on Independence Ave in DC when she was 26 years old, which is surely worth a shit ton more 12 years later. So much bootstrapping!

    When the existence of the townhouse was uncovered in 2014, Stefanik told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that she was a minority investor, and that the company is in no way affiliated with her family’s business. Turns out, according to the DC Recorder of Deeds, shocker, that was a big fat lie! The only other “investors” in the house were Stefanik family members, who in 2016 refinanced the home, “splitting off a six-figure chunk of the mortgage to an entity called SKMM Properties, which bears her parents’ and brother’s initials.” Mmm, that silver spoon sure is delicious! […]

    Will the constituents who support her care that she’s a nepo baby? Do they care that she’s been too busy obstructing and complaining to deliver one dingdonged thing for her district? That she’s a sellout who will say whatever thing seems politically opportune at the moment? Probably not. But let us point out that she’s a lying liar anyway.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/elise-stefaniks-hardscrabble-origins

  247. says

    As Donald Trump and his allies suggest Iran was too intimidated to launch offenses under his leadership, they’re counting on people to have short memories.

    […] Donald Trump did what he always does: He blamed his own country, while claiming the violence wouldn’t have occurred if he were in the White House. The Hill reported:

    Former President Trump on Saturday ripped into President Biden over Iran’s recent attack against Israel, arguing it would not be occurring if were still in the Oval Office. “I want to say God bless the people of Israel — they’re under attack right now,” Trump said Saturday during a rally in Schnecksville, Penn. “That’s because we show great weakness. This would not happen.”

    Oddly enough, during the event, Trump tried to say that the United States shows “great weakness,” but he ended up saying “great weaknicks.” [video at the link]

    [other Republicans repeat the lie]

    In reality, either the presumptive GOP nominee and his allies have very short memories, or they’re counting on the public to have very short memories.

    [… ]I’m reminded of a New York Times report from a few months ago that explained, “In fact, Iran and its proxies did attack American and allied interests during Mr. Trump’s presidency.”

    In March 2020, for example, two American service members and a British soldier were killed in a rocket attack on a military base in Iraq, […] A few months earlier, a barrage of rockets killed an American contractor and wounded four American service members in Kirkuk, Iraq.

    NBC News reported in September 2020, in the months that followed, militia groups — believed to be backed by Iran — continued to target U.S. military bases, and the frequency of those attacks increased throughout Trump’s final year in the White House.

    What’s more, let’s also not forget that in January 2020, an Iranian missile strike left several dozen of U.S. troops with traumatic brain injuries. Trump dismissed the importance of the injuries — the Republican called them little more than “headaches“ — prompting Veterans of Foreign Wars to ask the then-president to apologize for minimizing what had happened to the troops.

    Trump ignored the VFW’s appeal.

    My point is not to blame Trump for the attacks that occurred on his watch. Rather, my point is that when Trump tries to blame his own country’s leaders for foreign violence, and says such violence would “never” happen if he were in office, we know this is ugly and unnecessary nonsense, intended to persuade people who don’t remember what happened just four years ago.

  248. says

    Followup to comments 300, 305, 307, and 312.

    Trump trial update:

    Here we go with the jury. “The allegations are in substance, that Donald Trump falsified business records to conceal an agreement with others to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election.”

    There it is–election interference case

    That was part of Judge Marchan’s instructions to the potential jury members.

  249. says

    Stories from the Trump Bible

    New Yorker link

    […] The Testing of Abraham
    “Abraham!” God commanded. “Take your son to the mountain and make of him a sacrifice to me.”

    But Abraham had a multitude of sons by many wives. That’s how they did it back then. Many wives. Some say it was better that way.

    “Lord,” Abraham replied, “can you tell me which son? I have so many.”

    “Your firstborn.”

    “Just the one, Lord? Really, there are so many I don’t remember all their names.”

    “Just the one. It’s not a big deal.”

    “Are you sure? Honestly, Lord, I can’t find them all jobs as it is.”

    “O.K., fine. Take a couple.”

    “The firstborn and one other?”

    “It doesn’t matter. You choose.”

    Then Abraham was seized by fear, and beseeched the Lord: “Please spare my daughter. For I say unto you, she’s quite a looker.”

    And God replied, “Let’s just forget I said anything.”

    The Feeding of the Multitude
    After Jesus finished preaching, a great multitude of people came to him with tears in their eyes, because it had been such a beautiful speech. But it was also very long, and they were hungry.

    The apostles had only seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus told them, “Collect money from the multitude for food. Then bring it to me and I’ll show you a miracle.” And because he liked to test his followers he added, “The apostle who brings the most money can ride with me on my donkey into Jerusalem.”

    When the apostles had done what he asked, Jesus broke the loaves and fish and put them into baskets. When the apostles saw what he had done, they cried, “Lord, there are still only seven loaves and a few fish. They’re just in smaller baskets. That won’t fool anybody.”

    Jesus put the money in his robe and said, “Tell the multitude if they go home now we’ve got something much better than loaves and fish for them. They’re going to be very happy, trust me.”

    The apostles told the five thousand what Jesus had said and, lo, they were satisfied and left without eating. The apostles threw themselves on the ground and praised Jesus, for they had witnessed a miracle.

    Afterward, Jesus didn’t mention the donkey ride again, and nobody asked.

    The Resurrection
    After Jesus was arrested, the crowd brought him before Pontius Pilate.

    “Tell me, Jesus Christ,” Pilate said. “Are you King of the Jews?” Which wasn’t that strange a question, because even today a lot of people don’t know that Jesus was actually Jewish.

    “You say that I am,” Jesus replied, but, again, you couldn’t tell just by looking at him. “This trial is very unfair. You are a corrupt judge, and your wife is a very nasty woman.”

    “What does my wife have to do with anything?” Pilate asked.

    “I don’t want to say,” Jesus replied. “But I’ve heard some rumors.”

    The crowd dragged Jesus away, while Pilate pondered the comment about his wife. Jesus was crucified and left to die.

    Overcome by grief, the apostles left for Galilee, where to their amazement they found Jesus in splendid white robes waiting for them.

    “Lord!” they cried. “You have fulfilled the prophecies and risen from the dead.”

    “What prophecies?” Jesus replied. “I’ve been here the whole time.”

    The apostles didn’t understand.

    “While I was carrying the Cross, someone stopped to help,” Jesus said. “Simon. Shimon, maybe. Sounded foreign. The next thing I knew, the crowd had crucified him instead, so I just left.”

    The apostles exulted, and the sky opened up. “I am ascending to Heaven now to sit at the right hand of the Father,” Jesus told them. “And when I return I’m not going to be in such a forgiving mood. Judas, the Pharisees, Pilate—they will feel my wrath on Day One. I’m not so happy with Thomas, either, who I heard said some very bad things about me. And this will be a sign unto you: the lamb will lie down with the lion. And you’re not going to want to be the lamb, believe me.”

    With that, Jesus ascended to Heaven, speaking his final words: “I’ll ask one more time about the unicorns. But I’m pretty sure the answer is still no.”

  250. birgerjohansson says

    A sad memory for us old-timers.
    British comedian Tommy Cooper died on this day 40 years ago. He had a heart attack while on live television.

  251. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 309

    Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll make some exceptions… for Trump rallies and lynchings.

  252. Reginald Selkirk says

    Members of self-proclaimed anti-government group ‘God’s Misfits’ held in killings of Kansas women

    Two Kansas women who vanished as they tried to pick up children for a birthday party two weeks ago were killed over a custody dispute involving a group of anti-government Oklahomans calling themselves “God’s Misfits,” authorities said Monday…

    The four people arrested Saturday on charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder are the grandmother, Tifany Adams, 54; her boyfriend Tad Cullum, 43; Cora Twombly, 44; and her husband Cole Twombly, 50. All meet regularly with several others in a group they call “God’s Misfits,” their arrest affidavits said. Relatives of Tad Cullum and the Twomblys did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment. Tifany Adams’ stepmother, Elise Adams, said she had no information on the case…

  253. Reginald Selkirk says

    MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a Trump ally, has his phone seizure case rejected by Supreme Court

    The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and prominent election denier, who unsuccessfully argued his rights were violated when FBI agents seized his phone in 2022.

    The federal government was investigating the sharing of sensitive information from Colorado’s computerized voting systems. Lindell was a key ally of Donald Trump.

    Lindell’s phone was seized while he was in the drive through lane of a Hardee’s restaurant in Minnesota, as Lindell was on his way home from a duck hunting trip…

  254. says

    Washington Post:

    As Ukrainian officials plead for more Western arms and a U.S. aid package remains stalled in Congress, Russia is advancing on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine, seizing new territory and intensifying attacks to capture the town of Chasiv Yar and others in the Donetsk region.

  255. says

    Trump in court, Biden in the Oval Office: A tale of two candidates

    Most people know that twice-impeached former president Donald Trump spent Monday in a New York courthouse for the first day of his criminal trial for allegedly falsifying business records in connection to hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump is required to attend court dates for the 34-count felony trial in person.

    But Trump isn’t the only busy person running for president. President Joe Biden is also very busy—doing actual presidential stuff. On Monday, while Trump may have fallen asleep in court, Biden was receiving his daily briefing, followed by holding a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani of the Republic of Iraq in the Oval Office. He followed that up with another bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic.

    […] The president will be campaigning in Pennsylvania, holding campaign events in Scranton on Tuesday, Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and Philadelphia on Thursday.

    […] During Monday’s White House press briefing, when asked whether or not Biden was “going to be paying any sort of attention” to the Trump trial, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded, “Well, as you know, the president is pretty busy today.” Jean-Pierre added “I’m sure he’ll, you know, get an update at some point today.”

  256. says

    Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth

    The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth while lawsuits over the law proceed, reversing lower courts.

    The justices’ order Monday allows the state to put in a place a 2023 law that subjects physicians to up to 10 years in prison if they provide hormones, puberty blockers or other gender-affirming care to people under age 18. Under the court’s order, the two transgender teens who sued to challenge the law still will be able to obtain care.

    The court’s three liberal justices would have kept the law on hold. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that it would have been better to let the case proceed “unfettered by our intervention.”

    Justice Neil Gorsuch of the conservative majority wrote that it is “a welcome development” that the court is reining in an overly broad lower court order.

    A federal judge in Idaho had blocked the law in its entirety after determining that it was necessary to do so to protect the teens, who are identified under pseudonyms in court papers.

    Lawyers for the teens wrote in court papers that the teens’ “gender dysphoria has been dramatically alleviated as a result of puberty blockers and estrogen therapy.”

    Opponents of the law have said it will likely increase suicide rates among teens. The law’s backers have said it is necessary to “protect children” from medical or surgical treatments for gender dysphoria, though there’s little indication that gender-affirming surgeries are being performed on transgender youth in Idaho.

    Gender-affirming care for youth is supported by every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association.

    Medical professionals define gender dysphoria as severe psychological distress experienced by those whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.

    The action comes as the justices also may soon consider whether to take up bans in Kentucky and Tennessee that an appeals court allowed to be enforced in the midst of legal fights.

    At least 23 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and most of those states face lawsuits. A federal judge struck down Arkansas’ ban as unconstitutional. Montana’s ban also is temporarily on hold.

    The states that have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

  257. says

    Trump Media Investors Squabble As Stock Drops Like Cartoon Anvil

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/trump-media-investors-squabble-as

    Donald Trump kicked off his week by scowling through the opening day of his “no peener payoff” trial in New York on Monday morning. (And apparently falling asleep “slack-jawed,” per Maggie Haberman.) Not far away at the New York Stock Exchange, another disaster with his name attached was continuing its agonizingly slow descent into worthlessness. Which is kind of what living in America has felt like since he announced his first presidential run nine years ago, but never mind.

    We’re speaking of the stock price of the Trump Media and Technology Group, parent company of social media site Truth Social. As we’ve been noting, the stock that stood at around $72 a share on the day of its IPO three weeks ago has gone down faster than [INSERT JOKE HERE]. It has lost somewhere in the neighborhood of two thirds of its value and looks as if it will keep sinking until it is lower than a hermit crab’s junk.

    On Sunday The Washington Post had an amazing story on the Trump cultists who thought – and in some cases still think – that this company is going to do anything but go the way of all of Trump’s other business ventures like Trump Steaks and Trump Vodka. Seriously, almost every single sentence here is more incredible than the last. It’s like watching the captain of the Titanic yelling “It’s just a scratch, where are all of you going” as the water slowly crept past his chin.

    Like this dude, who runs a tree-removal service in Oklahoma:

    Jerry Dean McLain first bet on former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social two years ago, buying into the Trump company’s planned merger partner, Digital World Acquisition, at $90 a share. Over time, as the price changed, he kept buying, amassing hundreds of shares for $25,000 — pretty much his “whole nest egg,” he said. […]

    “I know good and well it’s in Trump’s hands, and he’s got plans,” he said. “I have no doubt it’s going to explode sometime.”

    […] There was also this guy Todd Schlanger, a MAGA fan in Florida, natch, who is watching about $20,000 of the vast fortune he’s earned as an interior designer in a furniture store currently disappearing faster than the polar ice caps:

    In a Truth Social post last week, he encouraged “everyone who supports Donald Trump and Truth [Social to] buy a share every day” and asked, “Do you think we have hit bottom?” (The stock slid nearly 10 percent after that post.)

    He suspects the recent drops in share price have been the result of “stock manipulation” from an “organized effort” to make the company look bad. There’s no proof of such a campaign, but Schlanger is convinced. “It’s got to be political,” he said, from all the “liberals that are trying to knock it down.”

    We’re not much on investing […] but we think the stock dropping faster than the engine cover of a Boeing jet has more to do with the company somehow being valued at several billion dollars when last year it lost $58 million on revenues of $4 million than it does with liberals saying mean things about it.

    Or maybe the drop can be attributed to Truth Social flat-out saying that it has no intention of reporting any information that investors could use as a yardstick to see how the company is performing:

    Truth Social has attracted a tiny fraction of the traffic other platforms see, according to estimates from the analytics firm Similarweb — one of the only ways to measure its performance, given that the company says it “does not currently, and may never, collect, monitor or report certain key operating metrics used by companies in similar industries.”

    About the only thing the company is being transparent about is how much dang salary and bonus money it is paying its executives […]

    For instance, Devin Nunes, former congressman, current Trump Media CEO […]:

    “There’s not another company out there that has retail investors like this,” said Nunes, who this year will receive a $1 million salary, a $600,000 retention bonus and a stock package currently worth $3.7 million.

    […] As of early Monday afternoon, Trump Media stock was down another nearly six points for the day, to a bit over $26 a share. Maybe all those supporters of the biggest political movement of all time figure they have yet to see the bottom of the dip.

    And just to add to the hilarity, the geniuses running Trump Media on Monday filed to release another 21.5 million shares for sale, which could give the company a massive cash infusion to help it stay afloat. On the other hand, so many more shares could dilute the value of people’s investments and send the share price dropping even lower. […]

  258. birgerjohansson says

    Accirdong to Youtube, Mike Johnson has given up blocking aid to Ukraine.🎆🎈

  259. KG says

    Accirdong to Youtube, Mike Johnson has given up blocking aid to Ukraine. – birgerjohansson@332

    Not really. Looks to me like a way of trying to dodge responsibility for Ukraine’s plight while still doing nothing to help.

  260. KG says

    Liz Truss endorses Donald Trump to win US presidential election – Reginald Selkirk quoting BBC @322

    Confirming once again that inside every “libertarian”, there’s a fascist waiting to pop out.

  261. KG says

    Tethys@302,

    Nothing in the text you quote:

    srael has been designated as a U.S. Major Non-NATO Ally under U.S. law. This status provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation and is a powerful symbol of their close relationship with the United States. Consistent with statutory requirements, it is the policy of the United States to help Israel preserve its QME, or its ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties. This requires a quadrennial report to Congress, for arms transfers that are required to be Congressionally notified, and a determination that individual arms transfers to the region will not adversely affect Israel’s QME.

    constitutes or implies a US legal obligation to intercept missiles aimed at Israel. It’s solely about arms supplies to enable Israel to maintain its “QME” (Qualitative Military Edge), and the “Consistent with statutary requirements” is clearly a limitation on actions to do that – they won’t be done if that would conflict with “statutary requirements” i.e. American law.

  262. KG says

    Further to my #336,
    This article, by calling for a US-Israel Mutual Defense Treaty that would “pledge each partner to come to the other’s
    defense in exceptional circumstances”, makes clear that there isn’t one in existence now.

  263. birgerjohansson says

    Lecterngate is shaping up to be a legal nightmare for Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Why do all these bad things happen to good people? 🙂

  264. John Morales says

    Already narratives forming, more info incoming.

    https://theintercept.com/2024/04/15/iran-attack-israel-drones-missiles/

    The United States shot down more drones and missiles than Israel did on Saturday night during Iran’s attack, The Intercept can report.

    More than half of Iran’s weapons were destroyed by U.S. aircraft and missiles before they ever reached Israel. In fact, by commanding a multinational air defense operation and scrambling American fighter jets, this was a U.S. military triumph.

    The extent of the U.S. military operation is unbeknownst to the American public, but the Pentagon coordinated a multination, regionwide defense extending from northern Iraq to the southern Persian Gulf on Saturday. During the operation, the U.S., U.K., France, and Jordan all shot down the majority of Iranian drones and missiles. In fact, where U.S. aircraft originated from has not been officially announced, an omission that has been repeated by the mainstream media. Additionally, the role of Saudi Arabia is unclear, both as a base for the United States and in terms of any actions by the Saudi military.

    A bit of rambling, since it’s quiet here. This is, of course, my own personal impression, no more.

    Another current narrative from Ukraine is that, if the USA can do that for Israel (as in, take a hand directly to intercept missiles, why can it not do it for Ukraine? Obs, different opponents, different circumstances.
    But same supposed ethical criteria.

    Right now, Russia is systematically destroying Ukrainian power plants with bombs from their vast Soviet stockpiles that can be up to 1500Kg of high explosive, retrofitted with cheap fins and guidance for a few thousand dollars each.
    (https://theconversation.com/ukraine-war-russias-devastating-use-of-soviet-era-glide-bombs-shows-how-urgently-kyiv-needs-air-defence-systems-227531)

    Of course, right now, Ukraine is building up a formidable drone development and production program, and systematically destroying Russian refineries and fuel storage and loading facilities with their new long-range drones. Apparently, the USA doesn’t like that, because removing Russian crude from the marketplace will drive up the price of oil.

    Not exactly a quick, victorious war SMO, is it?

    Both economies are now tanking, both are on a war footing, Ukraine is relying on its friends and Russia on its pre-war savings and Soviet stockpiles.

  265. birgerjohansson says

    OK this time it makes sense not to secure the link properly – the headline is worth watching.

  266. says

    Oh FFS.

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has been looking for at least one Republican ally in her effort to oust Speaker Mike Johnson. Today, she finally found one.

    On the issue of security aid for U.S. allies abroad, House Speaker Mike Johnson seemed to realize that he was effectively out of time. The Louisiana Republican has spent an excruciating amount of time dithering, exploring possible alternatives, but he recently came to the conclusion that it was time to actually bring some legislation to the House floor for consideration.

    With this in mind, as NBC News reported, Johnson last night unveiled a plan “to advance foreign aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan in separate bills and move a fourth piece of legislation wrapping other Republican national security priorities together.”

    Evidently, one of his controversial members was unimpressed. The Wall Street Journal reported:

    A second House Republican lawmaker said he planned to join an effort to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, a day after the embattled party leader introduced a plan to pass bills funding Ukraine, Israel and other overseas allies. Rep. Thomas Massie (R., Ky.) said Tuesday morning that he is planning to join Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on her motion to vacate the speaker chair, which could lead to a vote to oust the speaker.

    [Well, that’s one way to avoid voting on aid for Ukraine.]

    Rep. Massie confirmed the news via social media, writing that he was signing on to Greene’s effort, and encouraging Johnson to “pre-announce his resignation … so we can pick a new Speaker without ever being without a GOP Speaker.”

    Massie also shared the news with his colleagues during a House Republican Conference meeting. Though it was a closed-door gathering, a CNN reporter said the congressman was booed by at least some of his fellow GOP members.

    For Greene, this is no doubt welcome news. It’s been nearly a month since the right-wing Georgian filed her own motion to oust her party’s House speaker, and during that time, a grand total of zero Republicans signed on to her effort.

    As of today, however, that number has climbed from zero to one.

    To be sure, that might not sound like an especially large number, but the legislative arithmetic remains highly relevant. With one GOP member scheduled to resign later this week, the House Republicans’ conference will shrink to just 217 members, leaving party leaders with a one-vote margin.

    If Greene were to force a motion-to-vacate vote, and she and Massie try to take the speaker’s gavel, it would mean Johnson would have to rely on at least some Democratic support to keep his job, which in turn would complicate his future further.

    For his part, the incumbent House speaker told reporters that he wouldn’t resign, adding, “I am not concerned about this.” Watch this space.

    I wish the House Republicans would stop all this asshattery and do their jobs.

  267. says

    GOP rep makes curious ‘plea’ to prospective jurors in Trump case

    Rep. Byron Donalds hasn’t yet seen the prosecutors’ case against Donald Trump. The GOP congressman is pleading with jurors to find him not guilty anyway.

    While criminal trials often have dramatic moments, the process of selecting a jury isn’t exactly riveting. An NBC News report on the first day of Donald Trump’s criminal trial noted, “The quest to find a jury of 12 people and six alternates got off to a slow start Monday, as more than half of the 96 potential jurors summoned to the Manhattan courtroom said they couldn’t be ‘fair and impartial’” when it comes to the former president.

    But as the day got underway in New York, one of the presumptive GOP nominee’s congressional allies appeared on national television and suggested that prospective jurors shouldn’t be overly concerned with impartiality. They should instead, the lawmaker said, simply rule in Trump’s favor. As a New Republic report summarized:

    The Republican Party is all in on Donald Trump, so much so that at least one representative is trying to sway his legal proceedings. Ahead of the start of the Republican presidential pick’s first criminal trial on Monday, Representative Byron Donalds pleaded with the people of Manhattan to give his party leader a break.

    During an appearance on Newsmax, the Florida congressman delivered a message I’ve never heard a member of Congress present to the public.

    “My plea is to the people of Manhattan that may sit on this trial: Please do the right thing for this country,” Donalds said. “Everybody’s allowed to have their political viewpoints, but the law is supposed to be blind and no respecter of persons. This is a trash case; there is no crime here; and if there is any potential for a verdict, they should vote not guilty.”

    [sheesh!]

    Just so we’re all clear, Donalds hasn’t seen the prosecutors’ case. Prospective members of the jury haven’t seen the prosecutors’ case, either, since the trial probably won’t reach that phase until May. The congressman has nevertheless concluded that what jurors will see, hear, and learn over the course of the upcoming trial doesn’t much matter because, according to Donalds, Trump didn’t commit a crime — the grand jury’s findings notwithstanding.

    As it turns out, the Florida Republican wasn’t the only one trying to lobby prospective jurors from afar. A conservative media personality named Clay Travis pushed a similar message online, on his radio program, and on Fox News, urging Trump supporters to “do everything” possible to serve on the jury in the hopes of “dooming the case.”

    Keep in mind, jurors raise their right hand and take an oath, which they’re supposed to take seriously, vowing to be impartial. Evidently, some of Trump’s allies like the idea of these New Yorkers ignoring their responsibilities in order to advance the former president’s political interests, regardless of the evidence against him.

    Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California suggested such public lobbying might constitute “jury tampering,” which in turn makes me wonder whether we’ve heard the last of this story.

  268. says

    Posted by Maggie Haberman:

    Shortly before court adjourned for the day, Trump’s campaign sent out a fundraising email falsely claiming he had just stormed out of court.

  269. says

    Verified pro-Nazi X accounts flourish under Elon Musk

    An NBC News review identified 150 verified “Premium” accounts that have posted or amplified pro-Nazi content.

    Elon Musk’s X is a thriving hub for Nazi support and propaganda, with paid subscribers sharing speeches by Adolf Hitler or content praising his genocidal regime.

    NBC News found that at least 150 paid “Premium” subscriber X accounts and thousands of unpaid accounts have posted or amplified pro-Nazi content on X in recent months, often in apparent violation of X’s rules. The paid accounts posting the content all consistently posted antisemitic or pro-Nazi material. Examples included praise of Nazi soldiers, sharing of Nazi symbols and denials of the Holocaust.

    The pro-Nazi content is not confined to the fringes of the platform. During one seven-day period in March, seven of the most widely shared pro-Nazi posts on X accrued 4.5 million views in total. One post with 1.9 million views promoted a false and long-debunked conspiracy theory that 6 million Jews did not die in the Holocaust. More than 5,300 verified and unverified accounts reshared that post, and other popular posts were reshared hundreds of times apiece.

    […] Previous investigations by news organizations and anti-hate watchdogs have documented many examples of antisemitism, white supremacy and support for Nazism on X.

    […] The number of verified subscribers posting pro-Nazi material may be significantly more than 150. When NBC News conducted its review, Premium subscribers had the option to hide their verification check marks from the public.

    The verified users sharing the pro-Nazi content have entered into a mutually beneficial relationship with Musk’s X, paying $8 a month or more for premium services that are available to all premium subscribers. In exchange, they get “prioritization” when they reply to posts and the opportunity to monetize their content through ads, according to the subscription terms.

    The result is that X is bringing Nazi sympathizers in from the dark corners of the internet to a massive platform where they can pay to amplify their content. X had 174 million daily active users worldwide on its mobile app in February, according to the research firm Sensor Tower. X claims to have many more than that.

    NBC News conducted its research in March, before X implemented a change to provide free premium subscriptions to accounts with more than 2,500 verified followers. That move has made it more difficult to determine who is a paid subscriber.

    A welcoming social media environment can make Nazi sympathizers feel validated in their views and recruit others to their cause, said Patrick Riccards, executive director of Life After Hate, a Milwaukee-based organization that helps people disengage from violent extremist groups.

    […] Monetizing Nazi content contradicts one of Musk’s early pledges after he bought the app, then known as Twitter, in October 2022.

    “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter,” he wrote in a post in November 2022.

    […] Many of the 150 premium accounts have put links on their X profiles directing people to their websites, books and other media, where they sometimes push Nazi sympathy and antisemitism.

    […] One of the premium accounts belongs to Stew Peters, a Florida-based host of an internet talk show who has praised Nazi book-burning in 1930s Germany. Last month, a post of his denying the Holocaust went viral on X with 1.9 million views.

    […] At least two verified X subscribers recently praised Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister.

    […] Squire, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the proliferation of pro-Nazi content is the result of multiple decisions by Musk since he bought the platform: cutting content moderators, changing the rules about who got verification, reinstating banned accounts and restricting the data stream that outside watchdogs used to research Twitter.

    Many researchers have complained that it is now difficult or impossible to measure the reach of extremism on X because of the new restrictions Musk has imposed.

    “It’s safety through obscurity: Make it really hard for people to see the problem, and then you can pretend it doesn’t exist,” Squire said.

    […] Rather than crack down on antisemitic posts, Musk has used his massive platform to promote antisemitic conspiracy theories. Last year, he embraced the concept of the “great replacement,” which says there is a top-down plot to replace the white population with nonwhite people. […]

  270. KG says

    I wish the House Republicans would stop all this asshattery and do their jobs. – Lynna, OM@343

    As slaves of Donald Trump, asshattery is their job!

  271. says

    Excerpts from live coverage of day two of the Trump falsifying business records trial in New York:

    […] Trump agrees that he won’t be present at sidebars between the attorneys and Merchan. This resolves an issue that came up yesterday when Trump said he wanted to be able to come forward with the attorneys.
    ——————-
    “This case is about whether this man broke the law,” said Steinglass. “Did he falsify business records to cover up an agreement to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election?”

    And again, Steinglass is making that direct connection between Trump’s actions and the 2016 election. Merchan did the same thing in some of his statements.
    ————————-
    Some of the answers preceding a juror being pressed on impartiality seem to suggest that being impartial means believing that Trump is right in his accusations against prosecutors and the judge.
    ——————————
    Trump is asleep again.
    ——————————–
    NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard said on air that 10 jurors have now made it through the first round and will be questioned directly by lawyers in round two.
    ——————————
    Blanche [Trump’s lawyer] is singling out jurors and asking their feelings about Trump. One says that his feelings don’t matter. Another answers that “feelings are not facts.”

    But this juror is probably going to be spared an attempted strike by the defense. “I find him fascinating!”
    ———————————
    It’s rare to see a criminal trial with no family members showing up to support the defendant.
    Even Ghislaine Maxwell had two sisters and a brother attend nearly every day of her trial.
    Trump has Jason Miller sitting in the back row. That’s about it.
    —————————-
    [Blanche, Trump’s lawyer, says to prospective jurors:] “Every one of you knows President Trump … and every one of you has a different view of him,” Blanche said. “You’re not going to offend the court, or even President Trump, by talking about your opinion of President Trump.” [The judges always refers to Trump as “Mr. Trump.”]

    Link

  272. says

    KG @347, good point.

    In other news:

    Over the past few months, Donald Trump has sold golden sneakers, patriotic Bibles, pieces of the suit he wore when getting a mugshot, and a new collection of NFT cards for those who didn’t lose enough on the previous round of Trump NFT cards. Trump doesn’t make these things—the Bible sales are out of inventory that has been around for years, the shoes and cards are something he sticks his name on for a hefty percentage—but just about anything goes when trying to fill the money pit left by $100 million in just legal fees (fines not included).

    However, Trump’s sneaker sales pale compared with his two big money moves. Both are set to deliver Trump hundreds of millions. Neither one cost him a dime.

    The smaller of these is the Republican National Committee, where daughter-in-law Lara Trump now has control of the checkbook. But the bigger deal is still the media company that includes Truth Social. No matter how much celebration there is every day that Trump Media (stock market symbol: DJT) tumbles, it could still leave Trump with hundreds of millions for doing nothing more than exercising his rage. And that is the ultimate grift.

    […] On Monday, as Trump entered the courtroom for his first criminal trial, the stock closed at $26.61, down another 18% in just one day. The reason for the massive single-day drop was an unusual announcement that, having just made it onto the market and with share prices dropping, Trump Media was going to respond by selling more stock in a move that would dilute the value of existing shares. Investors reacted by hitting the sell button to get out before the new shares got in.

    Still, considering that the total revenue of Truth Media is only slightly more than that of a single McDonald’s franchise, and the company managed to lose $58 million last year—largely by overpaying executives like Devin Nunes and handing out fat bonuses—its multi-billion dollar market valuation is nothing short of ridiculous.

    That valuation is entirely dependent on people like the sad story told in The Washington Post of a man in Oklahoma City who has deposited his entire family nest egg into Trump’s scam stock. […]

    Trump Media has nothing at all to recommend it. Its only product is a failure, its financials are a horror show, and the company has nothing to recommend it to investors who put even a moment’s thought behind where they drop their money.

    As of Tuesday morning, The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump Media has lost $3 billion in its first three weeks. All this seems good for a laugh until you realize that the value of Donald Trump’s stock in the company is still $2.2 billion. For which the net investment was minimal and his personal investment was zilch.

    Trump hasn’t made any money off the stock yet, because he’s not allowed to sell for another five months. Every time the value of the stock decreases, Trump’s ultimate payday goes down, and even when the day arrives that he is allowed to part with some of his stock, Trump unloading more than a few percent of his shares would only tank the stock further.

    Even so, if the stock fell to just $5 a share, Trump could still get out with an over $400 million payday. Which isn’t bad considering that he did nothing but use Truth Social to issue his daily screeds.

    […] Trump still stands to end up with a fat payday a few months from now when the SEC allows him to sell. Then Trump can move on to his next scam, a TV streaming service. […]

    Link

  273. says

    Tom Cotton is a United States Senator. He graduated from Harvard and law school. Still he is enough of a dunce to suggest torturing protestors:

    Demonstrators shut down the iconic bridge [Golden Gate bridge] Monday to protest Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza, and Cotton suggested that his fellow Arkansans would have tossed them into the water and glue their hands to the pavement, forcing them to rip off their skin to escape, and the “Morning Joe” host was disgusted by his comments.

    Link

  274. says

    Amazon is filled with garbage ebooks. Here’s how they get made.

    It’s partly AI, partly a get-rich-quick scheme, and entirely bad for confused consumers.

    […] when tech journalist Kara Swisher’s Burn Book came out this February. A host of other books hit the Kindle store along with it. They all had bizarre, SEO-streamlined titles. [SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization]

    I found ‘Kara Swisher: Silicon Valley’s Bulldog,’ and ‘Kara Swisher Book: How She Became Silicon Valley’s Most Influential Journalist,’ and ‘Kara Swisher Biography: Unraveling the Life and Legacy,’ by a ‘guy’ who ‘wrote’ four biographies this month,” said Ben Smith when he interviewed Swisher for Semaforum.

    Swisher was less than flattered by the biographies. “I wrote [Amazon CEO] Andy Jassy and I said, ‘You’re stealing my IP! What is going on?’” she told Smith. […]

    Here is almost certainly what was going on: “Kara Swisher book” started trending on the Kindle storefront as buzz built up for Swisher’s book. Keyword scrapers that exist for the sole purpose of finding such search terms delivered the phrase “Kara Swisher book” to the so-called biographer, who used a combination of AI and crimes-against-humanity-level cheap ghostwriters to generate a series of books they could plausibly title and sell using her name.

    The biographer in question was just one in a vast, hidden ecosystem centered on the production and distribution of very cheap, low-quality ebooks about increasingly esoteric subjects. Many of them gleefully share misinformation or repackage basic facts from WikiHow behind a title that’s been search-engine-optimized to hell and back again. Some of them even steal the names of well-established existing authors and masquerade as new releases from those writers. According to the Authors Guild, it would be impossible for anyone but Amazon to quantify these books — and that’s not information Amazon is sharing.

    All of this means that to buy the book you want — to buy Kara Swisher’s Burn Book instead of Kara Swisher Book: How She Became Silicon Valley’s Most Influential Journalist — you have to know what you’re looking for and pay a modicum of attention to your purchase.

    Who wants to do that? Especially in a marketplace like Amazon, where we are trained to buy quickly and thoughtlessly with a single click and where writers have been trained to send their wares without even thinking about it because where else are you going to sell an ebook.

    It’s so difficult for most authors to make a living from their writing that we sometimes lose track of how much money there is to be made from books, if only we could save costs on the laborious, time-consuming process of writing them.

    […] generative AI has made it possible to create cover images, outlines, and even text at the click of a button.

    If, as they used to say, everyone has a book in them, AI has created a world where tech utopianists dream openly about excising the human part of writing a book — any amount of artistry or craft or even just sheer effort — and replacing it with machine-generated streams of text; as though putting in the labor of writing is a sucker’s game; as though caring whether or not what you’re reading is nonsense is only for elitists. The future is now, and it is filled with trash books that no one bothered to really write and that certainly no one wants to read.

    […] The saddest part about it, though, is that the garbage books don’t actually make that much money either. It’s even possible to lose money generating your low-quality ebook to sell on Kindle for $0.99. The way people make money these days is by teaching students the process of making a garbage ebook. It’s grift and garbage all the way down — and the people who ultimately lose out are the readers and writers who love books.

    None of this is happening through any willful malice, per se, on the part of the platforms that now run publishing and book-selling. It’s happening more because the platforms are set up to incentivize everything to cost as little as possible, even if it’s garbage.

    […] garbage books predate the problem of AI. Here’s how they get made in the first place.

    […] These days, the trash ebook publishing landscape is fully saturated with grifters. […] Virtually every single part of the self-publishing grift world that can be automated or monetized has been automated and monetized.

    […] For the self-publishing grift, good reviews are crucial. The more five-star reviews a book has, the more likely Amazon’s algorithm is to push it toward readers. If you’re mostly publishing trash books, you’re not going to get tons of five-star reviews organically. Big Luca’s Facebook group gave grifters a place to offer to swap five-star reviews or sell five-star reviews for $0.99 a pop. As far as Amazon’s algorithm was concerned, there was no difference between that kind of review and the one a real reader might leave. The results were extremely lucrative.

    […] Eventually, Big Luca had wrung all the money he could from the self-publishing hustle. He climbed up to the next level of the pyramid and became a teacher, and in 2016, the lore goes, a man named Christian Mikkelsen enrolled in Big Luca’s Self Publishing Revolution.

    The Mikkelsen twins are named Christian and Rasmus, and they are 28 years old. They have dark blond hair and blue eyes and meticulously groomed facial hair, and they always seem to be posting to Instagram […] They have managed, in what must be fairly acknowledged as a feat of branding wizardry, to hold on to the domain Publishing.com, and there they peddle their wares: a course they say can help students make a lifetime of easy cash off the revenue from books they don’t even have to bother to write themselves. If they happen to land a student who wants to write a book in good faith and just doesn’t understand how to sell their book on their own, well, they’re happy to take money from that student, too.

    […] the Mikkelsens published trash book after trash book, guides to keto and sex and crystals. Then they started running their manuscripts through Google Translate to start selling foreign language editions, an innovation on the old grift that bumped their income into six figures and, after a few months, got Amazon to block their publishing account. The time had come, as Inc. would put it, to “do what entrepreneurs do”: pivot. They started a YouTube channel so they could teach the business of self-publishing to anyone else who wanted to learn. Six months and 1,000 subscribers later, they launched their first paywalled online course.

    […] The twins feel that the quality isn’t there on purely AI-generated books yet; they demand better for their readers than AI prose. Still, they say using AI to outline saves their students weeks of researching their own manuscripts.

    That AI is part of but not central to the process is a helpful talking point for the Mikkelsens as Amazon strengthens its regulations against purely AI-generated text for sale.

    […] In April, however, the Mikkelsens announced that they were preparing to launch a new proprietary AI program, Publishing.ai, that they promise will write a manuscript for you, “Soooo much faster than a ghostwriter!”

    […] Under the Mikkelsen model, you also don’t have to pick your own topic. They give you access to keyword scrapers that have pulled trending topics off Kindle and Audible. And once AI is finished with your outline, you can send it over to a ghostwriter to turn into a book for a mere $500. For a 30,000-word book, that works out to a fee of $0.016667 per word. (The Mikkelsens work with a ghostwriting company developed by two former students. There, ghostwriters get hired on a freelance basis and are kept anonymous.)

    Once you have your manuscript, Christian promises, the twins will show you how to hire audiobook narrators for a flat $20 fee by haggling their prices down. They’ll introduce you to a network of people who are generous with their five-star ratings and will push your book up the algorithmic Amazon rankings for you. All you have to do is sit back and collect your royalty checks as you rake in month after month of passive income.

    […] None of what the Mikkelsens are describing here is illegal, but if you know the norms of publishing, you know it’s unethical.[…] their method of publishing means developing a book you’re probably not qualified to write. […] it means creating a book likely riddled with misinformation and minimal means of correcting it. It means deceiving readers with fake reviews. (That one can get you kicked off Amazon if you get caught.)

    […] Jennifer didn’t set out to make a quick buck with a garbage ebook. She did the work of writing a book because she believed in it. The Mikkelsens got her because she couldn’t figure out how to sell her book on her own, and part of the reason she couldn’t sell it is because the marketplace is already so flooded with books. Many of which are garbage books.

    The Mikkelsens are not the chief villains of this story. They are small-time operators working one level of a very big grift industry. The grift is that technology and retail platforms have incentivized a race to the bottom when it comes to selling books. Together, without ever caring enough about the issue to deliberately try to do so, they have built a landscape in which it’s hard to trust what you read and hard to sell what you write.

    The incentives of the modern book-selling economy for writers are to keep your costs low, low, low and your volume high, high, high, and definitely put your book on Amazon because where else are you going to sell an ebook? The incentive of the modern book-buying economy for readers is to go onto Amazon and lazily click around with a few search terms, and then buy the first book that looks right with the click of a single button. The incentives are, in other words, driving us all straight into a flood of garbage.

    That’s what the grift does. It finds every spot in the process of making and selling a book that is inconvenient or laborious, and it exploits those spots. It exploits our cultural belief that books are meaningful, that writing a book is a valuable act, that reading a book will enrich your life. When it’s finished, you’re left with something that’s not a real book but a book-shaped digital file filled with nothing of any use to anyone at all.

  275. says

    Followup to comments 344, 345 and 348.

    Excerpts from live coverage of Trump’s trial:

    Merchan instructing the six jurors sworn in to be in court on Monday.Next week is only partial days on Monday and Tuesday, so don’t anticipate any testimony, but things appear to be getting cleaned up as Merchan keeps this trial moving.
    —————————
    The Washington Post reports that Trump is once again leaning back with his eyes closed and his head nodding. [As birger noted in comment 353, “He ain’t woke.” LOL]
    ————————-
    Also stricken for cause: Juror in seat No. 6, who apparently posted an AI video of Trump saying, “I’m dumb as f***.”
    ————————–
    I wish that I was in the prospect pool, just so Trump’s attorneys would have to carry in the stack of paper with my social media history.
    ———————
    How far is Trump’s legal team trying to stretch this tactic? This far: ADA Steinglass says that Team Trump’s tactic of trolling potential jurors’ social media accounts is a “conceptual problem.”

    Justice Merchan seems to agree, as Trump’s third challenge is about an eight-year-old post by the juror’s husband. (!)
    ———————–
    Not even 2 days in, Judge Merchan calls out Trump’s conduct, telling Todd Blanche “while the juror was about 12 feet from client, your client was audibly saying something in her direction….I will not have any juror intimidated in this courtroom.”

    It looks to me like Trump’s lawyer, Blanche, is trying to set up cause for an appeal by forcing Judge Merchan to deny Blanche’s attempts to kick out some of the prospective jurors.

    Merchan did allow this juror to be excused:

    The juror in seat No. 2 will be excused after Trump’s lawyers discovered this post on social media:
    “Good news!! Trump lost his battle on his unlawful travel ban!!! Get him out, and lock him up.”
    (Punctuation marks recited into the record by Justice Merchan.)

    Merchan did NOT allow this juror to be excused:

    Prosecutors object “strenuously” to this proposed strike, saying that the woman only recorded images of others celebrating at a distance and that this doesn’t demonstrate any form of anti-Trump bias. Merchan refuses to let the defense dismiss this juror for cause, earning a glare from Trump. Merchan: “Where does this refer to your client?” The judge says he can’t see how this is evidence of bias.

    That will give you an idea of how this is going.

  276. says

    Followup to comment 355.

    […] each side gets 10 peremptory challenges.

    Trump’s team has used 6. Prosecutors have used 4.

    Blanche and company will need to be pretty selective when getting out the ban hammer with the next group of prospective jurors.
    —————————–
    The New York Times has identified the person named as foreman of the jury as originally being from Ireland, I can’t match this with any of the descriptions at Politico, so can’t say much more than that, but it is interesting that an immigrant could partially control Trump’s fate.

  277. says

    Why didn’t Trump’s trial start years earlier? Blame Bill Barr

    Why are Donald Trump’s alleged crimes from 2016 being prosecuted now? In part because of former Attorney General Bill Barr’s actions.

    A couple of hours before the start of his first criminal trial, Donald Trump posed a question by way of his social media platform. “Why didn’t they bring this totally discredited lawsuit 7 years ago???” the former president asked. “Election Interference!”

    For now, let’s not dwell on the Republican’s obvious errors of fact and judgment, including the fact that the criminal case has only been “totally discredited” in his active imagination. Let’s also brush past the fact that the defendant took a variety of steps to try to delay these proceedings further, leaving Trump in a position in which he believes the case is happening both too slowly and too quickly.

    Let’s instead consider his question on the merits.

    After all, it’s easy to imagine some fair-minded observers wondering the same thing. The alleged misconduct in this case is unrelated to the 2024 election cycle and the 2020 election cycle, and stems from actions Trump allegedly took in 2016 and 2017.

    So why is it that the case against the presumptive GOP nominee is only reaching a courtroom now? As it turns out, we know the answer — though it isn’t one Trump likes to talk about.

    To briefly recap, as Election Day 2016 approached, Trump and his political operation were concerned about the public learning about his alleged sexual encounter with a porn star who goes by the name Stormy Daniels. With those fears in mind, the then-candidate and his team created a shell company, which Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, used to pay off Daniels, effectively buying her silence.

    Soon after, Trump, according to prosecutors, falsified business records while making incremental payments to Cohen, reimbursing the lawyer for the scheme.

    These are the same payments that ultimately sent Cohen to prison, which leads to the obvious question of why he, and not his former client — identified as “Individual 1” in court documents — faced serious consequences. After all, Cohen pleaded guilty to crimes he committed in coordination with Trump, and he produced evidence of Trump-signed checks.

    As Rachel explained on last night’s show, the federal prosecutor overseeing the Southern District of New York at the time was Geoffrey Berman — a lifelong Republican, who worked on the Trump campaign and the Trump transition tea, and who was chosen by Trump for the office. It was Berman who later wrote a book about his experiences, shedding light on what transpired in the Cohen case.

    In fact, according to Berman, after his office secured Cohen’s guilty plea, officials from the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., started intervening in matters in New York City, effectively trying to make the Trump/Cohen mess go away.

    Berman went so far as to claim that once Bill Barr became Trump’s attorney general, Barr “not only tried to kill the ongoing investigations, but — incredibly — suggested that Cohen’s conviction on campaign finance charges should be reversed.”

    Berman’s office was told to “cease all investigative work” on the allegations until Barr and his team were satisfied that there was a legal basis to the campaign finance charges to which Cohen had already pleaded guilty. The prosecutor wondered at the time about whether the then-attorney general was trying to shield Trump from possible legal liabilities after he was out of office.

    All of which is to say, Barr and his team directly intervened in an ongoing federal criminal investigation that implicated the then-president, who’d appointed Barr. As part of this intervention, Berman’s office was also directed to remove damaging references to Trump in court filings.

    In case that weren’t enough, Trump’s Justice Department also directed Berman to investigate Democrats who’d committed no crimes. When the prosecutor resisted, Barr told the public that Berman had resigned. He hadn’t. Soon after, Trump fired him.

    But while the then-attorney general and his team interfered in a case that implicated their boss, it had the effect of delaying local prosecutors’ investigation because they deferred to their federal counterparts.

    Eventually, Trump’s Justice Department quietly let it be known that it was no longer examining allegations in the Cohen case, and two weeks later, prosecutors in New York started issuing subpoenas.

    Why is the former president’s case only coming to trial now? In part because the Trump administration politicized the legal process and perverted a federal investigation without cause.

    The former president has the entire scandal backwards. He believes the real controversy is that the case wasn’t prosecuted sooner, when it reality, it would’ve been prosecuted sooner had partisans on his team not corrupted the process on his behalf.

  278. says

    Followup to comment 350.

    It is more accurate to post Senator Tom Cotton’s actual words. Tom Cotton said:

    “If something like this happened in Arkansas on a bridge there, let’s just say I think there would be a lot of very wet criminals that would have been tossed overboard, not by law enforcement, but by the people whose road they are blocking.”

    [and he said this] “If they glued their hands to a car or the pavement, well, probably pretty painful to have their skin ripped off. But I think that is the way we would handle it in Arkansas.”

    [and this] “I would encourage most people, anywhere, that get stuck behind criminals like this who are trying to block traffic, to take matters into their own hands.”

    [and this] “There’s only usually a few of them and there’s a lot of people being inconvenienced. It is time to put an end to this nonsense.”

    Cotton also posted a video of people assaulting protestors in France: “How it should be done.”

  279. says

    Sigh.

    Gap between Caitlin Clark’s WNBA salary and her male counterparts draws outrage

    Clark’s contract will the Indiana Fever will see her pocket $338,056 over the course of four years. In contrast, last year’s No. 1 NBA draft secured a $55 million four-year contract.

    College basketball superstar Caitlin Clark is set to soar to new heights in the WNBA — but her rookie contract will see her pocket a mere fraction of the millions her male counterparts have cashed in on the court.

    The University of Iowa legend, who has already made history as the NCAA Division I basketball’s overall top scorer, sealed a contract with the Indiana Fever after she was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft Monday.

    The contract will see Clark earn $338,056 over the course of four years, according to the WNBA’s collective bargaining agreement.

    Under the 2024 WNBA rookie scale for the No. 1 – 4 draft picks, she’ll earn a base salary of $76,535 for her first year, $78,066 the second year, $85,873 the third, and a fourth year option of $97,582.

    Despite her unprecedented star power, Clark’s salary is just a sliver of the eye-popping amount male athletes make in the NBA.

    WNBA draft picks No. 2-4 — Stanford’s Cameron Brink who went to the Los Angeles Sparks, South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso with the Chicago Sky, Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson also with the Sparks — will make the same pay as Clark.

    For comparison, San Antonio Spurs rookie star Victor Wembanyama — the No. 1 pick in last year’s NBA draft — secured a $55 million four-year contract that saw him pocket $12.1 million in his first season, according to athlete contract tracker Spotrac. […]

  280. John Morales says

    Rarely have I seen such virtuosity at straight-faced sarcasm:

    Neom – The Line – The Rise and Fall of Saudi Arabia’s Linear City.
    Saudi Arabia’s plan to build a 170km long, 500m tall, mirrored city in the desert, filled with 9 million people has been curtailed to 2.4km long.

    According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia’s government had “scaled back its medium-term ambitions” for Neom, of which The Line is the most significant sub-project.

    The Saudi government had hoped to have 9M residents living in The Line by 2030, but this has been scaled back to fewer than 300,000, according to the report.

    The curtailment of plans comes as Saudi Arabia has not yet approved the 2024 budget for Neom, according to Bloomberg sources.

  281. whheydt says

    I’ve been thinking about Trump’s request to take time away from his NY trial to attend the oral arguments on his immunity claim, coupled with his (two days now) propensity to fall asleep in court. Judge Merchan should just note that he can sleep in NY just as easily as he can sleep in DC.

  282. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 363
    Remember, some of the people living in the area protested against the project. They were arrested and tortured until they confessed to terrorism.
    I somehow do not expect them to be released now that the idiot project has been dropped.

  283. StevoR says

    …new observations of the cosmos have suggested that dark energy, the force causing our universe to expand faster and faster, seems to be weakening. That may not sound like much in and of itself, but this finding actually has the potential to cause the first major paradigm shift in cosmology since the discovery of the accelerated expansion of the universe just over 25 years ago. It could even suggest out universe won’t end in a “Big Rip,” or a “Big Chill,” but rather a “Big Crunch.” More on that shortly, first, let’s dive into these fascinating results.

    Source : https://www.space.com/desi-cosmological-constant-dark-energy-history

  284. StevoR says

    Also via space dot com :

    For the chief leader of the SETI Institute, established to search for and understand life beyond Earth, there’s a need to step back and cuddle up to a cup of cosmic reality.

    “We don’t have any evidence of any credible source that would indicate the presence of alien technology in our skies. And we never have,” said Bill Diamond, president and chief executive officer of the SETI Institute, headquartered in Mountain View, California. “The idea that the government is keeping something like this secret is just totally absurd. There’s no motivation to do so.”

    Source : https://www.space.com/seti-chief-bill-diamond-ufos-alien-visitation

  285. StevoR says

    Okay, just one more cosmological item via same space news source for tonight :

    A fresh analysis of a remarkably massive yet compact galaxy from the early universe suggests that dark matter interacts with itself. The galaxy, JWST-ER1, which formed just 3.4 billion years after the Big Bang, was first spotted last October in images snapped by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). At over 17 billion light-years from Earth, JWST-ER1g is the farthest-ever example of a perfect “Einstein ring” … (snip)..Last December, Yu led simulations of formations of structures incorporating self-interacting dark matter which concluded that such self-interactions could explain extremely dense dark matter halos in certain galaxies, as well as puzzlingly low densities in others, both of which are unexplained by the prevailing “cold dark matter” theory.

    Source : https://www.space.com/dark-matter-interactions-distant-einstein-ring-jwst

  286. says

    Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield is facing embezzlement charges, joining a long list of former state House speakers accused of wrongdoing.

    In recent years, an amazing number of sitting and former state House speakers have run into serious legal troubles, and as The Detroit Free Press reported, the list grew a little longer yesterday.

    Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield embezzled public and private funds to support a lavish lifestyle of fine dining, ritzy hotels and trips to exotic locations, Attorney General Dana Nessel said Tuesday in announcing felony charges against the former GOP leader and his wife, Stephanie. Chatfield … is charged in East Lansing district court with 13 embezzlement, conspiracy and larceny counts, Nessel said at a news conference.

    The Free Press’ report added that the most serious of the charges, conducting a criminal enterprise, is a felony that could put the former Republican state House speaker behind bars for decades.

    […] it’s worth emphasizing that the Republican’s lawyer criticized the charges as politically motivated, adding, “We are prepared to fight them each and every step of the way.”

    But as the case proceeds in Michigan, I’m also struck by how frequently we’ve seen state House speakers run into legal trouble like this in recent years. It’s apparently time to update the list we last discussed a year ago:

    October 2014: Bobby Harrell, the then-Republican state House speaker in South Carolina, pled guilty to six counts related to misusing his campaign account for personal benefit.

    November 2014: Mike Hubbard, the then-Republican state House speaker in Alabama, was arrested for multiple alleged felonies, including the misuse of his public office for personal gain. He ultimately served more than two years in prison.

    January 2015: Prosecutors indicted Sheldon Silver, the former Democratic state House speaker in New York, on corruption charges. He, too, was later sentenced to prison.

    March 2022: Michael Madigan, the former Democratic state House speaker in Illinois, was indicted on federal racketeering charges. His trial is still pending, but several people close to his case have been convicted.

    April 2023: Rick Johnson, the former Republican state House speaker in Michigan, admitted to taking bribes as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

    June 2023: Larry Householder, the former Republican state House speaker in Ohio, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a $60 million bribery scheme.

    And in April 2024, Michigan’s Chatfield joined the list, accused of embezzlement.

    It’s quite a pattern.

  287. says

    Good news, as summarized from a New York Times source by Steve Benen:

    Democratic candidates won two state legislative special elections in Michigan yesterday, and once they’re sworn in, Democrats will regain control of the chamber. Headed into this week, Michigan’s state House has been deadlocked for months, with each party holding 54 seats.

  288. says

    One of Biden’s anti-Trump jokes packed an especially potent punch

    “If Trump’s stock in Truth Social — his company — drops any lower, he might do better under my tax plan than his,” President Joe Biden said while smirking.

    Sen. J.D. Vance, still rumored to be in contention for his party’s vice presidential nomination, appeared on Fox News last week to peddle a line even he couldn’t have believed. “The Biden administration policies have benefited billionaires,” the Ohio Republican asserted with a straight face, “whereas [Donald] Trump’s policies benefited working people.”

    As the senator almost certainly knew, this turned reality on its head. While Trump delivered wildly expensive and unnecessary tax breaks to billionaires, President Joe Biden did the opposite. While the principal beneficiaries of Trump’s economic agenda were those at the top, it’s working families who’ve benefited most from the incumbent Democrat’s plans.

    It’s against this backdrop that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is not only promising billionaires that he’ll do even more for them in a possible second term, he’s also reaping financial rewards as billionaires — including some who distanced themselves from Trump in the recent past — scramble to support the former president’s 2024 faux-populist candidacy.

    […] n contrast, Biden continues to make a pitch for what he calls a Care Economy — an agenda that would include 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave, large investments in preschool, an expanded child tax credit, and investments in high-quality child care.

    These are policies, of course, that would benefit the “working people” that Vance referred to last week.

    With this in mind, the incumbent president continued to make his case during an appearance yesterday in his former hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The New York Times reported:

    President Biden delivered a flurry of attacks on former President Donald J. Trump during a Tuesday speech in Pennsylvania about taxes and economic policy, painting his Republican rival as a puppet of plutocrats who had ignored the working class. Visiting his hometown, Scranton, in a top battleground state that he has visited more often than any other, Mr. Biden laid out his vision for a fairer tax code, including raising rates on the wealthy and corporations and using the money to expand the economy and help working families.

    What stood out as especially notable, however, were the jokes Biden told at his rival’s expense. [video at the link]

    “If Trump’s stock in Truth Social — his company — drops any lower, he might do better under my tax plan than his.”

    As political jokes go, it’s one that managed to remind the public that (a) Trump’s latest business venture is following the same failing trajectory as so many of his other business ventures; (b) Trump’s tax plan is designed to benefit those with the most wealth; and (c) Biden’s tax plan is rooted in the idea that millionaires and billionaires can afford to pay more, while leaving rates intact for those making under $400,000.

    That’s a lot of checked boxes in 21 words.

    I’ll assume that Vance didn’t find the joke funny, though Biden’s audience in Pennsylvania certainly seemed to appreciate it.

  289. says

    […] MAGA cultists like to call Stormy Daniels a whore. She won’t be slut-shamed, and throws Trump right back in their faces. “Not true. I wouldn’t sell Bibles.”

    And there’s this response to someone who criticized her for signing a nondisclosure agreement with Trump and then speaking out. “Very unprofessional to sign an NDA and then disclose. This is illegal and bad for business.” [Stormy Daniels replied] “Not as unprofessional as getting impeached and indicted. 😜”

    [many more examples at the link]

    Daniels has promoted her tour events and shown herself to be an astute businesswoman. If she ever took her entertainment company public, it would certainly be a much better investment than the free-falling Trump Media & Technology Group.

    Link>

  290. says

    Southern Governors’ Anti-Auto Workers Letter Has Everything But ‘We’re A Family Here’

    Seriously, what Walmart union-busting seminar did Kay Ivey steal this from?

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/southern-governors-anti-auto-workers

    Last year, following the successful stand-up strike, the United Auto Workers union launched its plan to start unionizing the entire non-unionized auto industry workforce, which will obviously give auto workers across the nation far more leverage when it comes to bargaining. This is a good thing! It’s an especially good thing for those living in right-to-work-for-less states, who generally have a lot less bargaining power and funding than those who do not.

    You would think the governors of states where this was happening would be happy about their constituents making more money they could then spend in their states, bringing prosperity to all, but not all of them are. On Wednesday, a group of southern governors — Kay Ivey (Alabama), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Tate Reeves (Mississippi), Henry McMaster (South Carolina), Bill Lee (Tennessee), and Greg Abbott (Texas) — issued a joint statement against the UAW and the unionization of auto manufacturing plants in their states, on the grounds that companies will leave if cruelly forced to pay their workers enough to live on. [Nice burn.]

    It begins:

    We the governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas are highly concerned about the unionization campaign driven by misinformation and scare tactics that the UAW has brought into our states. As governors, we have a responsibility to our constituents to speak up when we see special interests looking to come into our state and threaten our jobs and the values we live by.

    Apparently one of the values they intend to live by are tiered payment structures in which workers hired after a certain point will never make as much as those hired before them.

    I think the thing I love best about this letter is the way they have peppered in so many of the classic anti-union talking points that we have all come to know and, well, not love, from union-busting seminars and the charmingly informative anti-union websites that so many corporations now put up (for the benefit of their workers, of course).

    The reality is companies have choices when it comes to where to invest and bring jobs and opportunity. We have worked tirelessly on behalf of our constituents to bring good-paying jobs to our states. These jobs have become part of the fabric of the automotive manufacturing industry. Unionization would certainly put our states’ jobs in jeopardy – in fact, in this year already, all of the UAW automakers have announced layoffs. In America, we respect our workforce and we do not need to pay a third party to tell us who can pick up a box or flip a switch. No one wants to hear this, but it’s the ugly reality. We’ve seen it play out this way every single time a foreign automaker plant has been unionized; not one of those plants remains in operation. And we are seeing it in the fallout of the Detroit Three strike with those automakers rethinking investments and cutting jobs. Putting businesses in our states in that position is the last thing we want to do.

    Love how that one sentence is just thrown in there between two other sentences that are clearly related.

    The actual “ugly reality” is that if businesses cannot afford to pay their workers fairly, then they shouldn’t exist. Workers cannot be so afraid that businesses will go away that they don’t fight for themselves, and part of the reason that the UAW is pushing to unionize every plant in the country is so that these companies have no place to go unless they want to build whole new plants, which cost about $1 billion and could also be unionized. And sure, they could go to China, but right now that’s gonna be a pretty big risk given that a lot of people, including legislators like Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, are calling for a ban on Chinese-made electric vehicles being sold in the United States. [snipped quote from Brown]

    […] We are by far the largest consumer market in the world — spending twice what the entire European Union spends on consumer goods and over three times what China spends — so we have the power […]

    Anyway, let’s continue on with the governors’ letter. I have helpfully bolded the classic union-busting talking points.

    “The experience in our states is when employees have a direct relationship with their employers, that makes for a more positive working environment. They can advocate for themselves and what is important to them without outside influence. The UAW has come in making big promises to our constituents that they can’t deliver on. And we have serious reservations that the UAW leadership can represent our values. They proudly call themselves democratic socialists and seem more focused on helping President Biden get reelected than on the autoworker jobs being cut at plants they already represent.

    A more positive working environment for whom? Not workers! It’s far easier to advocate with a group than by oneself, and if that were not the case, there would be literally no point to union-busting. Why would they bother? According to the Economic Policy Institute, employers spend over $400 million a year on union avoidance consultants alone. We don’t know how much they spend on other union-busting activities, but $400 million on its own is a lot and certainly enough to make one suspect that their employees will make a whole lot more money in a union.

    Additionally, I am pretty sure that workers’ “values” in this case are perfectly aligned with the UAW, in that they would probably like to earn enough money to comfortably support themselves and their families. Gonna say that’s why a supermajority of workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Arizona recently filed for a union vote.

    We want to keep good paying jobs and continue to grow the American auto manufacturing sector here. A successful unionization drive will stop this growth in its tracks, to the detriment of American workers.

    Bullshit!

    The only way for workers in the auto industry to get what they deserve is by banding together and demanding it.

    I highly doubt that any workers in these states will be the least bit deterred by this letter, given that they’ve probably already heard it all from their bosses and the union consultants their bosses paid millions of dollars to in order to keep them from successfully bargaining for enough to live comfortably on.

    Volkswagen workers in Tennessee have their union vote today, and if they vote in favor — which seems likely given that a supermajority voted for a vote — that just might spell the end of the anti-union South.

  291. says

    New York Times Joins Chris Rufo In Mean Girls Finger-Snapping At NPR CEO

    The stupidest rightwing outrage of 2024 (so far) gets even stupider.

    OK, fine, we’re going to talk about the stupid fucking NPR thing, because no matter how shallow it is, it also doesn’t seem to have a bottom to it. Here are the basics of the stupid fucking NPR thing:

    1. A longtime NPR editor, Uri Berliner, got a hair up his ass about what he considered pervasive liberal bias at the network, and published a really dumb essay about it at Bari Weiss’s Internet Grievance Palace. According to Berliner, NPR became too devoted to diversity, and to unfairly attacking Donald Trump, so now nobody, not even Black and Latino people, listens to NPR anymore. Too much wokeness! More on the essay itself in a bit.

    2. Rightwingers called for NPR to be defunded.

    3. NPR staff responded to being shivved by saying no, NPR is driven by journalism and blandness, not by partisanship, and Berliner made the rounds of rightwing media to get eyeballs on his article.

    4. See #2.

    5. Professional rightwing shit-stirrer Chris Rufo took to Twitter to say “hey, watch me get NPR CEO Katherine Maher fired over her old tweets,” because — before joining NPR — Maher posted a number of liberal opinions, which are supposed to be shocking.

    6. See #2.

    7. The New York Times dutifully ran a story Monday about Maher’s old tweets that Rufo dug up to try to get her fired, complete with an interview with Rufo.

    8. Rufo then pointed at the Times story about the tweets he dug up to get Maher fired, and proclaimed “we are driving the narrative.”

    9. See #2.

    10. Rufo continues dredging up even the most mundane tweets by Maher and framing them as if they were insanely radical. Why, she even posted on International Women’s Day in 2021, that crazy lady.

    11. Rightwingers continue calling for NPR to be defunded.

    12. N U D E S I N B I O

    As Georgetown public policy prof Dan Moynihan tweeted on Bluesky yesterday, the editors of the Times “are not falling for [Rufo’s] game, they are co-producing it.”

    Don’t worry, we’re not going to detail every part of that here. […]

  292. says

    Followup to comment 378.

    Berliner’s Stupid Essay

    The whole foofaraw started when Uri Berliner, who’s who until this morning had been a business editor at NPR for 25 years, wrote a very public grump at Bari Weiss’s Grievance Playhouse about how NPR has gone from being a thoughtful source of journalism that always leaned a bit crunchy-granola Prius-driving liberal, to all-consuming leftwing bias. In the process, he claims, “An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.” Berliner laments that NPR, “which purports to consider all things,” has lost its way. See what he did there?

    But how did this pervasive leftist bent take over? Easy: it was the challenge of covering Trump. In its zeal to provide “tough, straightforward coverage of a belligerent, truth-impaired president,” Berliner frets, it all too soon “veered toward efforts to damage or topple Trump’s presidency.” As evidence, Berliner points to NPR’s coverage of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, or at least “rumors” of it, and claims that NPR “hitched our wagon to Trump’s most visible antagonist, Representative Adam Schiff,” who constantly “alluded to purported evidence of collusion.”

    Ah, but then, in Berliner’s telling:

    [W]hen the Mueller report found no credible evidence of collusion, NPR’s coverage was notably sparse. Russiagate quietly faded from our programming.

    [WTF? And this guy was an editor at NPR? The Mueller report did not say that. Bill Barr said that in his deceptive press conference, and Trump very stupidly said that.]

    There’s only one little problem with Berliner’s account of how NPR covered the Trump-Russia story. It’s oversimplified bullshit, and very easily debunked, like so many Just-so Stories conservatives tell themselves.

    In an entertainingly thorough Twitter thread, Aaron Fritschner, a congressional staffer, takes Berliner’s claims apart one by one, noting, for instance, that in 25 NPR interviews, Schiff only mentioned “evidence of collusion” once — and when he did, he referred to publicly available evidence. As for NPR’s “sparse” coverage of the Mueller report, Fritschner points to two detailed stories from March 24, 2019, the day former attorney general Bill Barr summarized the report (misleadingly), as well as considerable follow-up coverage. [Yes!]

    Why, NPR even covered — many times! — the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, which did indeed find evidence of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. Odd, Berliner didn’t mention that, instead leaning on the GOP talking point that Mueller exonerated Trump. [aaarrrrgggghhhh]

    And so on. We won’t even get into Berliner’s two other bogus claims — that NPR suppressed the Hunter Biden’s Laptop story, or that it deliberately ignored the Wuhan Lab Leak theory of COVID origins — because they’re demonstrable bullshit. [Links to debunking are available at the main link.]

    Ultimately, Berliner insists that NPR went all lefty after the 2020 murder of George Floyd […]

    Then the whole network became a den of PC groupthink and identity politics, with an obsessive emphasis on “race, gender, and ethnicity,” allegedly to the exclusion of doing good journalism. The rest of the essay is a bog standard catalogue of “look at what those crazy liberals care about now!” complaints that have been with us through 40 years of culture war anxieties, and he just keeps piling on, mourning each addition.

    Several of Berliner’s NPR colleagues have taken him to task for it, including Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, who says that Berliner’s essay is “filled with errors and omissions,” which he details, and which he says he has discussed with Berliner, too. Inskeep also notes that it’s a shame that Berliner didn’t have a better editor, because if anyone did edit it, “they let him publish an article that discredited itself.”

    UPDATE: On Tuesday, NPR suspended Berliner for five days for failing to request permission to publish work outside NPR, a fairly common part of media company contracts. […] then while I was finishing this monster piece, Berliner resigned from NPR and blamed CEO Katherine Maher for making it impossible for him to work there, because she mildly rebuked him (without naming him specifically) in an email to staff last week.

    “Asking a question about whether we’re living up to our mission should always be fair game: after all, journalism is nothing if not hard questions,” Ms. Maher said in the note. “Questioning whether our people are serving our mission with integrity, based on little more than the recognition of their identity, is profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning.”

    Berliner’s resignation letter, which he copied to Twitter, reads in its entirety,

    I am resigning from NPR, a great American institution where I have worked for 25 years. I don’t support calls to defund NPR. I respect the integrity of my colleagues and wish for NPR to thrive and do important journalism. But I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay.

    Disparaged. The poor snowflake.

    Rightwingers are now calling for NPR to be defunded, harder.

    The New York Times Colludes With Chris Rufo — Again! [snipped details]

    […] NPR pointed out that its CEO is “not involved in editorial decisions” and that Maher has “upheld and is fully committed to NPR’s code of ethics and the independence of NPR’s newsroom.”

    But that’s what you’d expect them to say, right?

    Somehow, we’re also supposed to be terribly troubled by the time Maher tweeted in 2020 about a goofy dream she had:

    Had a dream where Kamala and I were on a road trip in an unspecified location, sampling and comparing nuts and baklava from roadside stands.

    Woke up very hungry.

    Clearly, NPR doesn’t have a shred of integrity left. And Baklava? Isn’t that what terrorists wear to conceal their faces?

    To make matters worse, in the story about the old tweets Rufo dug up to get Maher fired, the Times also interviewed Rufo so he could say the tweets he dug up prove Maher should be fired. Yes really.

    [snipped more details] After the Times story ran, Rufo promptly thanked the paper […]

    We are driving the narrative. If you dream about sampling nuts with Kamala Harris, we will make sure America hears about it.

    Because isn’t that the greatest threat the Republic faces?

  293. says

    Trump posted:

    I thought STRIKES were supposed to be “unlimited” when we were picking our jury? I was then told we only had 10, not nearly enough when we were purposely given the 2nd Worst Venue in the Country. Don’t worry, we have the First Worst also, as the Witch Hunt continues! ELECTION INTERFERENCE!

    Commentary from Wonkette:

    Huh. Well, we guess he’s just incredibly fucking stupid, or one of his lawyers confused him. But the way he writes that, it suggests he’s just incredibly fucking stupid, and then one of the lawyers corrected him.

    He really thought he could just veto all the jurors until he found 12 Angry MAGA [cult followers] to save him? Jesus.

    Trump posted:

    Stupid Jimmy Kimmel, who still hasn’t recovered from his horrendous performance and big ratings drop as Host of The Academy Awards, especially when he showed he suffered from TDS, commonly known as TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME, to the entire World by reading on air my TRUTH about how bad a job he was doing that night, right before he stumbled through announcing the biggest award of all, “Picture of the Year.” It was a CLASSIC CHOKE, one of the biggest ever in show business, and to top it off, he forgot to say the famous and mandatory line, “AND THE WINNER IS.” Instead he stammered around as he opened the envelope. Supposedly his wife, and even management, begged him not to do it, “DON’T READ HIS TRUTH, JIMMY, PLEASE DON’T DO THIS,” they said. He was made to look like a FOOL, which he is, and at the same time go down in Television History as the WORST HOST EVER OF THE ONCE VAUNTED ACADEMY AWARDS!

    Commentary from Wonkette:

    […] Correction: Jimmy Kimmel didn’t award Best Picture. That was Al Pacino. Sounds like Trump’s very good brain is metastasizing, or leaking, or maybe he was sleep posting.

    Love that he’s also hallucinating Sir Stories about people — Jimmy Kimmel’s wife and management — begging him not to read Donald Trump’s loser fucking tweets in the middle of the Oscars. (What actually happened wasn’t that dramatic. [link at the main link])

    Also love that Trump is upset about this early in the morning on Wednesday of his first criminal trial of many, weeks and weeks after the Oscars. [Yeah. That is a telling detail.]

    Portrait of a man who is not well.

    Here are some videos of Jimmy Kimmel being mean as shit to Trump this week. Don’t know which one set Sleepy Smurf off. He makes fun of Habba too. [videos at the link]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/poor-idiot-trump-thought-he-could

  294. says

    House GOP Sends VRY SRS Mayorkas Impeachment To Senate For VRY SRS Trial
    Wait, don’t dismiss it yet, Sen. Schumer, I’m still typing!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/house-gop-sends-vry-srs-mayorkas

    The Republican-controlled House of Representatives can’t agree on anything, and is on the verge of defenestrating Speaker Mike Johnson, but in a rare show of party unity, House Goopers scraped up enough votes yesterday to formally send the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate for trial.

    Mayorkas is charged with two counts of Doing Bad Things, namely that he has “willfully and systematically” refused to enforce immigration law, at least not as House Republicans see it.

    Also, he supposedly committed a “breach of public trust” by saying the US border with Mexico is “secure,” when you can just turn on Fox News and see that there is not a wall reaching to the planet’s ionosphere to keep people out. After all, “secure” only means what Republicans want it to mean.

    After the vote Tuesday, the very impressive Impeachment Managers walked the papers over to the Senate, where, the AP reports,

    The Senate sergeant-at-arms, the chamber’s top security official, called the session to order with a “hear ye! hear ye!” and a notice that “all persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment.”

    The House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Mark Green, a Tennessee Republican who is one of the impeachment managers, read the articles aloud as most senators sat in their seats, following along with their own paper copies.

    One of the House impeachment managers is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who somehow managed to make it through the reading of the charges without even once shouting out anything rude, so thank goodness we were spared the spectacle of one of the “prosecutors” getting arrested.

    Now that the trial is in the Senate’s hands, Democrats may just dismiss the whole mess today, once all the senators are sworn in as jurors. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) could introduce a motion to dismiss or table the articles right away […]

    Today, Schumer again said the charges simply didn’t meet the constitutional bar for removing a cabinet secretary by impeachment, because there’s no high crimes or misdemeanors, just Republican dissatisfaction with policy. [snipped Schumer’s comments]

    Sen Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), finding himself without any crowds of insurrectionists to encourage or run away from, told NBC News that if this very serious impeachment doesn’t get a full trial, then the Constitution is finished, game over, man, GAME OVER: “If they do what they say they’re gonna do here, this will be the end of the impeachment. They’re basically destroying impeachment and the Constitution,” Hawley quacked.

    Here’s the exciting video of the procedings; as we type, the senators are being sworn in as jurors, four at a time, and they’re only in the first half of the alphabet so far. [video at the link]

    In conclusion, for a day when the Constitution is supposedly in peril, things seem to be going along calmly enough.

    Update: Schumer has called for an hour for Republicans to make motions for trial rules, after which he intends to hold debate and voting on whether to dismiss the charges. This will take a while, but it might be sort of interesting. […].

  295. says

    Kash Patel’s COVID Vax Detox Vitamins Have Three Times The Nothing Of Regular Supplements!
    Actually less likely to do anything than literal snake oil.

    often think we need to give ourselves more credit on the Left, especially in times where there is a great deal of strife between the various factions. One of the things that I would like to congratulate us all on is that, to my knowledge, no one is using their influence to sell any scammy-seeming supplements (or gold, or $59.99 Bibles, or really anything that isn’t just “merch”). I mean, sure, Gwyneth Paltrow does, but I’m gonna say she’s her own thing and not especially political anyway.

    On the Right, however, it’s almost like there’s some kind of law that the second some [person] gets a large enough audience, they start selling their own branded nootropic supplements and what have you — which is all the evidence one needs to know that these supplements, which are meant to increase cognitive function, likely do not work as intended. [LOL]

    So, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that Trump idiot Kash Patel is now shilling a $90 COVID vaccine detox supplement on Trump’s Truth Social!

    Not only is this supplement, from a company called “Warrior Essentials” (how am I supposed to keep writing this if they keep killing me?), meant to “detox” those who took the vaccines, but those who have been in the vicinity of those of us who have. You know, because of how we are always shedding our spike proteins all over them.

    I know. You’re thinking, “Boy, it seems like this product does three times the nothing that most other supplements do!” — and you are correct!

    “Detoxing,” of course, is already nonsense in and of itself. You do not need to be detoxed with vitamin supplements because that is what your liver, kidneys and other organs are for. If there were “toxins” in your body that you could not flush out, you would die, because actual “toxins” are poisonous. Anyone who sells you a detox is selling you nonsense. Or, at best, a laxative.

    Then you’ve got a detox that specifically targets the vaccine! How, you ask? Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

    Apparently it requires not one, not two, but three bottles of nonsense supplements. The main supplement is Nocovidium™, which the website claims is …

    The only health solution designed to detoxify the body by promoting autophagy using our patent pending 3-step approach.
    – Provides optimal levels of Exogenous Polyamines to promote autophagy*
    – Provides a proprietary blend of precursors, cofactors, activators, and synthesizers to help increase Endogenous Polyamine production*
    – Formulated with real science to help inhibit Autophagic Dysregulation caused by spike proteins and other pathogens*

    Wow! Those sure are a lot of very sciencey-sounding words! What’s in it?

    Spermidine 3HCL, Resveratrol, Turmeric Extract , Berberine HCL, Green Tea Extract, Red Wine Extract, Grapeseed Extract, Dandelion Extract, L-Ornithine Hydrochloride, Black Pepper, Chronium Chloride, Magnesium Glycinate & carbonate, Sodium Selenite, Cholecalciferol, Zinc Sulfate, Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) prebiotic, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifido-bacterium lactis, Lactobacillus plantarum.

    Now, I admit, I am not a scientist, but if I’m going to consume anything containing red wine and black pepper, I will be pouring it over some macaroni, please and thank you. Nothing in here is revolutionary and nothing in it is going to detox you from the vaccine or from those naughty spike proteins. How do I know this? Because, again, detoxing is not a thing. Even if it were a thing, it would not be remotely plausible for it to reverse the effects of a vaccine. Were that the case, we would have all done so by now because most of the ingredients can be found in food that we eat pretty regularly. Oh! And even if it were possible to reverse a vaccine through a detox, spike protein shedding is not a real thing either.

    Now, you can buy the Nocovidium™ by itself, but you’re not going to get the full effect unless you buy the other two bottles. Next up is NattoRepair! Which “is an all-natural blend of proteolytic enzymes which may help break down proteins, including free-floating spike proteins, as well as the fibrin which makes up blood clots.”

    Then, you take your Restoragene, which, according to the website, will “Help turn on good genes and turn off bad ones. Restoragene employs the first dietary ingredient identified to affect DNA gene expression through an epigenetic mechanism of action.”

    What is this magic ingredient? It is Lunacell®, “A Plant Based Bioactive Polypeptide Complex,” which is listed on the ingredients list as “an extract derived from NON-GMO Soy and Pea Concentrates.” That, too, seems very plausible. Little known fact, the Crystal Gayle song “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” was actually written about a very large bowl of edamame.

    Now, to be fair, not all of the Trumpists in the responses are falling for this scam. Many are quite sure that drinking bleach or taking Ivermectin is the way to go. Others thought it was unnecessary because God actually specifically protected them […]

    God has told His prophets that those of His children that trust Him will no longer be affected by what was put in their blood. It is removed by Him. The death angel will soon appear. Those of us who trust in Him will be passed over. Psalm 91. A 1,000 May fall at your side and 10,000 at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you see the reward of the wicked.

    One just took a moment to write a lovely poem about “spike protein shedding.”

    SHEDDING IS REAL!
    Every time I’m somewhere with poor ventilation I can ALWAYS tell when I have heavily China vaxed Idiots around.
    I start to feel a bit ugh for 1-3 hrs.
    It varies on how long I was there & how fast I can get virus free air .
    At first I thought I was tripping.
    SHEDDING IS DEFINITELY REAL!

    Yes, because if shedding were a real concern with the COVID vaccine, which it’s not because it’s not a live-virus vaccine, that is exactly how it would affect people. [LOL]

    […] not only are we [we the NOT MAGA cult followers] not falling, en masse, for ridiculous conspiracy theories like this, but I really do think that if anyone remotely on our side tried to sell anything this obviously scammy, that we would drag them to hell and back again until they ceased and desisted. It’s a pretty low bar, sure, but I think there’s something to be said for that.

  296. says

    Fox News Calls Marjorie Taylor Greene Idiot As Mike Johnson At Last Moves Ass On Ukraine

    [Screen grabs of Fox News posts. Yes, they used the word “idiot” to describe her.]

    Well, they’re not wrong! Except one thing: the GOP is wrecked and done for already. It’s nothing but a permanent parasite inside Donald Trump […]

    But let’s not get sidetracksies! […]

    The article, written by some interchangeable Fox News windsock named Liz Peek, isn’t particularly interesting. She’s not taking a bold stand. And while she calls Greene an idiot who believes all kinds of wacky bullshit, it’s clear Peek herself believes just as many delusional Republican conspiracy theories. For instance:
    – She blabs out weird conspiracy theories about how Ukraine’s corruption is why Hunter Biden was so “richly employed” there.
    – She has clearly and ignorantly drunk the Kool-Aid, repeating hilarious idiot lies about Hillary Clinton’s Deep State BFFs using FISA to spy on Donald Trump’s campaign.
    – She thinks empowering unions “trampl[es] the rights” of people who choose not to join. (And they say Republicans don’t care about the least of these!)
    – She thinks Kevin McCarthy was popular. LMAO.

    So she’s ripshit crazy.

    And that’s why this op-ed matters. This isn’t Adam Kinzinger or some other never-Trumper writing a contrarian article at Fox News. This is an in-house hit job against MTG and her Jewish Space Lasers.

    This week, equally insane GOP Rep. Thomas Massie announced that he would be joining MTG’s cannibalistic crusade against weak sad loser extremist Speaker Mike Johnson, co-sponsoring her Motion To Vacate, which would send Republicans right into the same tailspin they were in when Matt Gaetz and a few other Republican dingleberries from the House Republican cloakroom floor decided to oust Kevin McCarthy.

    There is absolutely no reason to believe it would go any better for Republicans than it did last time. If anything, the caucus is more incompetent and out of control than before.

    [snipped details of Republicans booing Massie]

    They’re threatening to do this, of course, over Ukraine aid, because some Republicans want Vladimir Putin to win, because they’re on the side of the genocidal dictator. […] They’re Putin’s boys and girls, plain and simple.

    But look! Movement on Ukraine aid!

    Politico’s Olivia Beavers reports today that Johnson just sent a message saying to members that the House Rules Committee would be putting up today the text of three (3) bills: one for Israel, one for Ukraine, and one relating to “indo-Pacific,” AKA Taiwan. (Plus a fourth one, involving some other stuff.) (And a fifth one, about BORDERRRRRR.) Here is some more info about what’s in the bills.

    The Ukraine one, of course, involves “loan structure,” because Republicans can’t just help Ukraine because it’s the right thing to do. Plus, that’s what Trump ordered. But reportedly it’ll be $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, $9 billion for humanitarian aid for Gaza, and more.

    Johnson says they’re going to vote on these Saturday. This is not what leadership looks like, but it’s what it looks like when weak, unqualified hacks are forced into a corner to do their best impression of leadership.

    But he’s doing it. And he’s going to need Democratic help, both on getting the Ukraine aid passed and very likely on keeping his speakership. Greg Sargent refers to this as his “move to shiv Marjorie Taylor Greene.” Clearly Fox News was teed up to help. […]

  297. says

    Secret Russian foreign policy document urges action to weaken the U.S. (That’s a Washington Post link.)

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry has been drawing up plans to try to weaken its Western adversaries, including the United States, and leverage the Ukraine war to forge a global order free from what it sees as American dominance, according to a secret Foreign Ministry document.

    In a classified addendum to Russia’s official — and public — “Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation,” the ministry calls for an “offensive information campaign” and other measures spanning “the military-political, economic and trade and informational psychological spheres” against a “coalition of unfriendly countries” led by the United States.

    “We need to continue adjusting our approach to relations with unfriendly states,” states the 2023 document, which was provided to The Washington Post by a European intelligence service. “It’s important to create a mechanism for finding the vulnerable points of their external and internal policies with the aim of developing practical steps to weaken Russia’s opponents.”

    The document for the first time provides official confirmation and codification of what many in the Moscow elite say has become a hybrid war against the West. Russia is seeking to subvert Western support for Ukraine and disrupt the domestic politics of the United States and European countries, through propaganda campaigns supporting isolationist and extremist policies, according to Kremlin documents previously reported on by The Post. It is also seeking to refashion geopolitics, drawing closer to China, Iran and North Korea in an attempt to shift the current balance of power.

    Using much tougher and blunter language than the public foreign policy document, the secret addendum, dated April 11, 2023, claims that the United States is leading a coalition of “unfriendly countries” aimed at weakening Russia because Moscow is “a threat to Western global hegemony.” The document says the outcome of Russia’s war in Ukraine will “to a great degree determine the outlines of the future world order,” a clear indication that Moscow sees the result of its invasion as inextricably bound with its ability — and that of other authoritarian nations — to impose its will globally. […]

    More at the link.

  298. says

    Then the whole network [NPR] became a den of PC groupthink and identity politics, with an obsessive emphasis on “race, gender, and ethnicity,” allegedly to the exclusion of doing good journalism.

    Okay…did anyone ever specify what facts NPR misrepresented, got wrong or omitted?

  299. says

    Raging Bee @385, good point.

    In other news: The White House argued that Donald Trump’s agenda would make inflation worse. The evidence to bolster the argument is overwhelming.

    Exactly two years ago this week, as post-pandemic inflation emerged as a leading public concern, Donald Trump appeared on Fox News and was asked what he’d do to address inflation if he were in the White House. The Republican gave a long, meandering, and wildly dishonest answer, which didn’t even try to address the underlying question.

    It was a two-minute exchange that made a simple truth unavoidable: The former president wants to complain about inflation, but he doesn’t have the foggiest idea how he’d go about making it better.

    Trump does, however, have plenty of ideas about how to make inflation worse.

    This past weekend, the White House released a memo with a memorable subject line: “MAGAnomics would supercharge inflation.” Over the course of the document, Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates argued not only that President Joe Biden is addressing the problem responsibly, but also that Trump’s vision would do the opposite.

    That, it turns out, is a relatively easy case to make. Politico reported this week, for example:

    Economic advisers close to former President Donald Trump are actively debating ways to devalue the U.S. dollar if he’s elected to a second term. … The idea is being discussed by former trade chief Robert Lighthizer — a potential Treasury secretary pick for Trump and the architect of the former president’s bruising tariff campaign against China — and policy advisers allied with him, according to three former Trump administration officials granted anonymity to discuss confidential policy plans.

    The problem with such a move isn’t just that it would threaten the U.S. dollar’s position as the world’s dominant currency, it would also increase inflation — a lot.

    Of course, this is just the start of a larger indictment. If, for example, Trump gets a second term and launches the largest mass-deportation program in modern history, this would inevitably push prices higher. The Republican’s plan for sweeping and ambitious tariffs would also be inherently inflationary.

    While we’re at it, Trump is also eyeing more tax breaks for the wealthy, which — you guessed it — would likely make inflation worse.

    The combination of a smaller workforce, trade tariffs, wildly unnecessary deficit-financed tax cuts, and a deliberately devalued currency is effectively a case study in what an administration would do if it wanted to make it harder for consumers to afford things.

    In her latest column, The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell, taking note of these underappreciated truths, asked, “Remind me again why Americans think Donald Trump would be so much better on inflation and the economy?”

    That need not be a rhetorical question.

  300. says

    Ukraine update:

    At least 17 people were killed and scores more injured when three Russian missiles struck a busy downtown district of Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, just before noon on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said.

    President Volodymyr Zelensky said the death toll, reported by the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, might rise and blamed Ukraine’s lack of air defenses for the loss of life. The prosecutor general said that 61 people had been reported injured.

    “This would not have happened if Ukraine had received enough air defense equipment and if the world’s determination to counter Russian terror was also sufficient,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement. “Terrorists can destroy lives only when they first manage to intimidate those who are able to stop terror and protect life.”

    Also on Wednesday, explosions and fires were reported at a key Russian air base in the occupied Crimean Peninsula in what appeared to be a Ukrainian attack. Ukrainian officials did not comment on the apparent attack, but Russian military bloggers affiliated with the Kremlin reported that Ukrainian missiles had struck locations around the air base in Dzhankoi, Crimea. […]

    Delays in American support have led to recent losses along the front and Mr. Zelensky told PBS in an interview broadcast on Tuesday that his nation’s forces were struggling. […]

    New York Times link

  301. says

    Arizona Republicans Again Block Effort to Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban

    New York Times link

    House Republicans in Arizona on Wednesday scuttled another effort to repeal the state’s 1864 law banning abortion, defying pressure from prominent Republicans, including former President Donald J. Trump, who had urged them to toss the ban that many voters viewed as extreme and archaic.

    “The last thing we should be doing today is rushing a bill through the legislative process to repeal a law that has been enacted and reaffirmed by the Legislature several times,” House Speaker Ben Toma, a Republican, said as he blocked an effort to vote on the repeal.

    The Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling last week to uphold the Civil War-era near-total abortion ban infuriated supporters of abortion rights, exhilarated abortion opponents and set off a political firestorm in Arizona, where Republicans narrowly control both houses of the State Legislature but foresaw a grave political threat. Repealing it would revert Arizona to a 15-week abortion ban.

    Republicans initially resisted Democrats’ attempts to repeal the law last week. But as Democrats slammed the ban — which allows only an exception to save the life of the mother, and says doctors prosecuted under the law could face fines and prison terms of two to five years — Republican leaders including Mr. Trump and Kari Lake, the Senate candidate and close Trump ally, said the court had overreached and urged the Legislature to act quickly. Ms. Lake, facing a competitive race in November, dialed lawmakers herself and asked how she could help with the repeal effort. […]

  302. says

    More good news:

    The chairman of the Nevada Republican Party has been indicted. So has the former chairman of the Georgia G.O.P. In Michigan, a former co-chairwoman of the state party is facing charges.

    As Donald J. Trump goes on trial in the New York criminal case, other investigations and prosecutions in five crucial swing states are continuing to scrutinize the steps that he and his allies took in trying to circumvent the will of voters after the 2020 election.

    The investigations focus largely on the plan to deploy fake electors in states that Mr. Trump lost. Documents emerging from the state cases highlight divisions among Trump advisers after the 2020 election about whether to use hedging language in the phony certificates that they sent to Washington purporting to designate electoral votes for Mr. Trump. They also undercut claims by some Trump aides that they played little role in the fake-electors plan.

    Georgia, Michigan and Nevada have already brought charges against a total of 25 fake electors, including current and former Republican Party leaders in those states. The Georgia case, led by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, has gone further, bringing charges against Mr. Trump himself and a number of his advisers.

    Investigations are also playing out in Wisconsin as well as in Arizona, where the state attorney general, Kris Mayes, is expected to bring charges soon. Grand jury subpoenas were recently issued to the people who acted as fake electors in Arizona, including Kelli Ward, a former state Republican chairwoman. Mike Roman, a former Trump campaign official who is already facing charges in Georgia, is also among those subpoenaed in the Arizona case.

    There are so many state investigations going on that “they all kind of run together,” said Manny Arora, a lawyer for Kenneth Chesebro, an architect of the fake-electors plan who has emerged as a key witness in the investigations.

    “Most of the jurisdictions are keeping it local and leaving the big stuff to the feds,” Mr. Arora said, adding that he did not expect most of the state cases to “be quite as sweeping as Georgia.”

    Evidence has also emerged from state civil suits brought on behalf of legitimate 2020 electors for Mr. Biden, and from the federal case brought by Jack Smith, the special counsel prosecuting Mr. Trump.

    […] Those Wisconsin fake electors agreed in a recent civil settlement that the document they signed was “used as part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results” and they said they would cooperate with the Justice Department.

    Wisconsin officials have yet to confirm publicly that they are investigating fake electors. But Mr. Chesebro was interviewed on the subject last year by the office of Josh Kaul, the state attorney general, according to Mr. Arora. […]

    New York Times link

    More at the link.

  303. Reginald Selkirk says

    Torvalds intentionally complicates his use of indentation in Linux Kconfig

    Linux kernel supremo Linus Torvalds has made the use of indentation in kernel config files more ambiguous – intentionally to weed out inferior parsers.

    Kernel 6.9-rc4, the latest release candidate for the next version of the Linux kernel, came out yesterday…

    However, the change that brought the most amusement to the face of the Reg FOSS desk is a configuration file change from Linus himself, titled “Kconfig: add some hidden tabs on purpose.” He switched a space indent to a tab indent to catch out poor-quality parsers…

  304. Reginald Selkirk says

    Kremlin’s Sandworm blamed for cyberattacks on US, European water utilities

    The Russian military’s notorious Sandworm crew was likely behind cyberattacks on US and European water plants that, in at least one case, caused a tank to overflow.

    In a report today, Google’s Mandiant threat-hunting team linked the intelligence outfit to disruptions at water and hydroelectric utilities earlier this year. This includes a series of attempts to disrupt Texas water facilities via remote-management software…

  305. Reginald Selkirk says

    @ 58, 306, 331, 349
    Trump Media Shares Down 14% After Company Says Truth Social To Launch TV Streaming

    rump Media & Technology Group Corp., which has been called the “mother of all meme stocks” after it made its stock market debut in late March, announced that its Truth Social platform is moving to launch a live TV streaming platform. Following the news, shares of DJT closed more than 14% lower Tuesday. They ended trading Monday down by more than 18%. CNBC reports: …

  306. Reginald Selkirk says

    NYC rats are spreading life-threatening infections at record levels

    A life-threatening bacterial infection typically spread through rat urine sickened a record number of people in New York City last year—and this year looks on track for another all-time high, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports.

    The infection is leptospirosis,…

    Still, leptospirosis has not been a prime concern from the rats’ mischief until recently. Between 2001 and 2020, the city logged an average of just three leptospirosis cases a year—and some of those were travel related. But, things took a turn during the pandemic when the rat population seemed to boom. From 2021 and 2022, the average shot up to 15. In 2023, there were 24 cases, the highest number of cases ever recorded for a single year. And as of April 10, there have been six cases so far…

  307. Reginald Selkirk says

    Toronto gold heist: Police arrest alleged gun-runner linked to C$20m airport theft

    Canadian police have made arrests and issued nine warrants in the biggest gold theft in the country’s history.

    More than 6,500 gold bars worth C$20m ($14.5m/£11.6m), were stolen from Toronto Pearson Airport, in April 2023, along with millions in cash.

    The alleged driver was arrested in the US carrying dozens of guns that police say were intended for use in Canada…

  308. Reginald Selkirk says