Comments

  1. says

    House passes critical aid to Ukraine and Taiwan along with a TikTok ban

    The House on Saturday passed a long-awaited bill with $60.8 billion of Ukraine aid.

    The bill, passed with 311 votes in favor, 112 votes against, and one present, is expected to head to the Senate alongside three other bills — one with aid for Israel, another with aid for Taiwan and another that forces Tiktok’s parent company to sell it. Lawmakers were seen waving Ukrainian flags and cheering upon the bill’s passage.

    It comes weeks after the Senate passed a mammoth bill with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, plus funding for border security. Speaker Mike Johnson refused to bring that bill to the floor, instead opting to pass three separate bills with aid for the three nations.

    The Senate is expected to pass the bills and send them to President Joe Biden’s desk.

    The Ukraine aid bill comes at a crucial time in the country’s war with Russia, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed the urgent need for weapons and supplies to continue defending Ukraine from Russian attacks. […]

  2. says

    Hello, Readers of The Infinite Thread,

    We filled up the previous chapter of this thread with 500 comments. The thread automatically restarted at comment #1.

    For the convenience of readers, here are a few links back to the previous chapter:

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/04/07/infinite-thread-xxxi/comment-page-1/#comment-2218927
    Jared Kushner’s Ambition Threatens One of Europe’s Last Pristine Ecosystems

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/04/07/infinite-thread-xxxi/comment-page-1/#comment-2218924
    Moscow says 50 Ukrainian drones shot down as attacks spark fires at Russian power stations

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/04/07/infinite-thread-xxxi/comment-page-1/#comment-2218908
    Former Jan. 6 panel chair seeks to strip Secret Service protection from felons

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘We’ve found hundreds of weapons by magnet-fishing’

    A father and son pair have discovered bombs, axes, machetes and guns in Scotland’s canals since taking up magnet-fishing five years ago.

    Mark McGeachin, 42, and his son James, nine, trawl Scotland’s waterways for weaponry every week.

    The activity involves using a strong magnet on a rope to search waters for magnetic objects.

    Mark, from Glasgow, started the Glasgow Magnet Fishing group in 2019 and told the BBC how hundreds have joined him.

    He said every gun or bomb found is reported to Police Scotland…

  4. says

    Associated Press:

    Saturday marks marijuana culture’s high holiday, 4/20, when college students gather — at 4:20 pm — in clouds of smoke on campus quads and pot shops in legal-weed states thank their customers with discounts.

    This year’s edition provides an occasion for activists to reflect on how far their movement has come, with recreational pot now allowed in nearly half the states and the nation’s capital. Many states have instituted “social equity” measures to help communities of color, harmed the most by the drug war, reap financial benefits from legalization. And the White House has shown an openness to marijuana reform. […]

    The origins of the date, and the term “420” generally, were long murky. Some claimed it referred to a police code for marijuana possession or that it derived from Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35,” with its refrain of “Everybody must get stoned” — 420 being the product of 12 times 35.

    But the prevailing explanation is that it started in the 1970s with a group of bell-bottomed buddies from San Rafael High School, in California’s Marin County north of San Francisco, who called themselves “the Waldos.” […]

    A brother of one of the Waldos was a close friend of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, as Lesh once confirmed in an interview with the Huffington Post […] The Waldos began hanging out in the band’s circle and the slang spread.

    Fast-forward to the early 1990s: Steve Bloom, a reporter for the cannabis magazine High Times, was at a Dead show when he was handed a flier urging people to “meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” High Times published it.

    “It’s a phenomenon,” one of the Waldos, Steve Capper, now 69, once told The Associated Press. “Most things die within a couple years, but this just goes on and on. It’s not like someday somebody’s going to say, ‘OK, Cannabis New Year’s is on June 23rd now.’”

    While the Waldos came up with the term, the people who made the flier distributed at the Dead show — and effectively turned 4/20 into a holiday — remain unknown.

    […] Some celebrations are bigger than others: The Mile High 420 Festival in Denver, for example, typically draws thousands and describes itself as the largest free 4/20 event in the world. Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has also attracted massive crowds, but the gathering was canceled this year, with organizers citing a lack of financial sponsorship and city budget cuts.

    […] Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California, releases its “Waldos’ Special Ale” every year on 4/20 in partnership with the term’s coiners.

    […] 4/20 has also become a big industry event, with vendors gathering to try each other’s wares.

    […] The number of states allowing recreational marijuana has grown to 24 after recent legalization campaigns succeeded in Ohio, Minnesota, and Delaware. Fourteen more states allow it for medical purposes, including Kentucky, where medical marijuana legislation that passed last year will take effect in 2025. Additional states permit only products with low THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, for certain medical conditions.

    But marijuana is still illegal under federal law. It is listed with drugs such as heroin under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has no federally accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

    The Biden administration, however, has taken some steps toward marijuana reform. The president has pardoned thousands of people who were convicted of “simple possession” on federal land and in the District of Columbia.

    The Department of Health and Human Services last year recommended to the Drug Enforcement Administration that marijuana be reclassified as Schedule III, which would affirm its medical use under federal law.

    […] 4/20 these days is a “mixed bag.” Despite the legalization movement’s progress, many smaller growers are struggling to compete against large producers, and many Americans are still behind bars for weed convictions. […]

  5. says

    Not sure that this made it into the MSM, but Trump displayed blatant disrespect for the entire court proceedings yesterday. And no, he didn’t do it on the court house steps or using Truth Social. No video or link yet, but Joyce Vance stated on MSNBC that Trump refused to stand when the jury entered and left the court room. Next, Trump fell asleep again, and it appears that Trump started to fart and stink the place up. Finally, Trump tried to leave before the judge was finished, and Trump was ordered to sit back down like a dog. We all knew this was going to be a white water river ride of childish petulance from Trump, and I think it will only get worse.

    According to Joyce Vance, it is a sign of respect for all in the court room to stand when the jury is being seated and when they leave. A good lawyer will instruct his/her client to show respect to the jury, and the defendent will stand. Well, not this defendent. Trump stubbornly refused to stand for the jury. Vance says that the jury will notice this and take the disrespect into their jury deliberations.

    It can be argued that a disrespectful defendent is still presumed innocent, but juries are made up of human beings. And being disrespecful to the jury will not endear Trump to those twelve jurors. It will color the deliberations.

    And while I sympathize with anyone who has sleep issues […], Trump’s falling asleep appears to have a secondary nasty effect on the court proceedings. He is passing gas because his anal sphincter muscle is relaxed while he sleeps in court. […]

    Link

  6. says

    Speaker Johnson did not call former president Trump a traitor who sold America and Europe out to Putin and Russia, but that’s the implication of what he said to C-Span at the Capitol yesterday before today’s vote to fund Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion. And today, funding for Ukraine passed overwhelmingly. The House passed the Ukraine foreign aid bill by a vote of 311-112-1.

    This vote rebukes former president Trump’s pro Putin position on Ukraine and strongly supports President Biden. What caused Speaker Johnson to change his position? Why did Mike Johnson do this? As Speaker of the House, he received high level intelligence briefings.

    […] “I really believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten,” Johnson said. “I believe that Xi and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they are in coordination on this. I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe.

    “I am going to allow an opportunity for every single member of the House to vote their conscience and their will,” he said, adding: “I’m willing to take a personal risk for that, because we have to do the right thing. And history will judge us.”

    The implication of this statement is that former President Trump and his allies have sold out America and Europe to Vladimir Putin and his axis of evil. President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people are heroes, blocking Putin and Russia from invading Europe. President Biden has shown leadership in supporting Ukraine. Speaker Johnson has is supporting President Biden while rebuking Donald Trump because he believes Trump and his allies have aligned themselves with the axis of evil. And he won the day by a large margin.

    Donald Trump suffered a crushing defeat today and Mike Johnson is not afraid of him. This creates a mid Atlantic sized rift in the GOP. If powerful GOP figures stop fearing Trump his political future is nil.

    Link

    Posted by readers of the article:

    there are ongoing negotiations for Ukraine to sign bi-lateral security agreements with not only the United States but several of the other NATO countries … in effect making Ukraine NATO-lite, until actual accession.
    ——————–
    It only took GOP leadership six months to agree to stand up to Russian aggression.
    ————————-
    The Rethugs know already that a strong majority of Americans support Ukraine. How can you not, if you’re informed and sane? They also know that nearly all that money doesn’t “go to Ukraine” — it stays in America, going to defense contractors and arms manufacturers. Many of which are in Rethug districts. And cutting off your nose to spite your face is not good policy.
    —————————-
    The vote among Repubs was close: In a bipartisan vote, 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans joined to support Ukraine, with 112 Republicans – a majority of the GOP members – voting against.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    Seattle gave low-income residents $500 a month no strings attached. Employment rates nearly doubled.

    A Seattle-area guaranteed basic income pilot gave low-income residents $500 a month to help reduce poverty. Employment in the group nearly doubled, and numerous unhoused residents secured housing.

    The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County launched a 10-month guaranteed basic income pilot program with 102 participants in fall 2022. New findings by research firm Applied Inference reveal that the $5,000 total payments improved participants’ quality of life, housing, and employment outcomes…

  8. KG says

    Trump was ordered to sit back down like a dog. – Lynna, OM quoting Daily Kos@8, my bolding

    I see what they did there! Trump’s habitual use of “like a dog” is quite surreal: “He was fired like a dog”, “begging for money like a dog”, etc.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    Researchers create Goldene — a single atomic layer of gold with semiconductor properties

    Researchers from Linköping University claim to be the first to have successfully created sheets of gold composed of just a single atomic layer. Move over Graphene – the naturally more glamorous Goldene has arrived, and just like that much fanfare 2D wonder material it is said to deliver some highly attractive, if not unique, properties. Interestingly, Gold also becomes a semiconductor in its 2D form…

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    Kristi Noem Says Mike Pence Has ‘Failed’ Donald Trump

    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem continued the GOP’s ostracism of former Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday after declining to say whether she would have fulfilled the vice president’s constitutional role of certifying the presidential election results before Congress on Jan. 6.

    “I think that he’s failed President Donald Trump since that day because he certainly does not recognize that we need someone in the White House who needs him out on the trail advocating for him instead of constantly criticizing and going back and ripping him apart,” Noem told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday….

    So Pence was insufficiently loyal to the person who sent a mob to hang him? This is seriously sick and twisted.

  11. says

    David Frum, writing for The Atlantic:

    The anti-Trump, pro-Ukraine rebellion started in the Senate. Twenty-two Republicans joined Democrats to approve aid to Ukraine in February. Dissident House Republicans then threatened to force a vote if the Republican speaker would not schedule one. Speaker Mike Johnson declared himself in favor of Ukraine aid. This weekend, House Republicans split between pro-Ukraine and anti-Ukraine factions. On Friday, the House voted 316–94 in favor of the rule on the aid vote. On Saturday, the aid to Ukraine measure passed the House by 311–112. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will adopt the House-approved aid measures unamended and speed them to President Biden for signature.

    As defeat loomed for his anti-Ukraine allies, Trump shifted his message a little. On April 18, he posted on Truth Social claiming that he, too, favored helping Ukraine. “As everyone agrees, Ukrainian Survival and Strength should be much more important to Europe than to us, but it is also important to us!” But that was after-the-fact face-saving, jumping to the winning side after his side was about to lose. […]

    To make an avalanche takes more than one tumbling rock. Still, the pro-Ukraine, anti-Trump vote in the House is a very, very big rock. On something that mattered intensely to him—that had become a badge of pro-Trump identity—Trump’s own party worked with Democrats in the House and Senate to hand him a stinging defeat. This example could become contagious.

  12. says

    Excerpt from George Parker’s interview with former British prime minister Liz Truss, published by The Financial Times:

    Truss explains that she is having Lunch with the FT because “you’ve got to know the enemy” — before clarifying that she doesn’t regard the FT as part of the deep state per se, more a kind of flying buttress propping it up. Along with other sinister elements in a leftwing “anti-growth coalition” — she has singled out “Brexit deniers”, people with podcasts and those living in north London town houses — the FT apparently helped to ensure that Truss’s time in Downing Street famously had the longevity of a supermarket lettuce.

    Yep, Truss is a British version of Marjorie Taylor Greene. It still amazes me that these dunderheads sometimes float to the top and then get elected to office.

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    @18: “Brexit deniers”

    I don’t think anyone is denying that Brexit happened. So they must be denying that Brexit had good consequences. So where are these alleged good consequences of Brexit?

  14. says

    How the US can rush weapons to Ukraine after Congress finally passed new funding

    The Pentagon could get weapons moving to Ukraine within days once the Senate passes a long-delayed aid bill. That’s because it has a network of storage sites in the U.S. and Europe that already hold the ammunition and air defense components that Kyiv desperately needs.

    Moving fast is critical, CIA Director Bill Burns said this past week, warning that without additional aid from the U.S., Ukraine could lose the war to Russia by the end of this year.

    “We would like very much to be able to rush the security assistance in the volumes we think they need to be able to be successful,” Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said.

    […] After the House vote, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said he was grateful “for the decision that keeps history on the right track.” He said on X, formerly Twitter, that the House action “will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.”

    […] “we have a very robust logistics network that enables us to move material very quickly,” Ryder told reporters this past week. “We can move within days.”

    The Pentagon has had supplies ready to go for months but hasn’t moved them because it is out of money. It has already spent all of the funding Congress had previously provided to support Ukraine […]

    By December, the Pentagon was $10 billion in the hole […]

    As a result, the Pentagon’s frequent aid packages for Ukraine dried up because there’s been no guarantee Congress would pass the additional funding needed to replenish the weapons the U.S. has been sending to Ukraine. The legislation includes more than $20 billion to restock the Pentagon’s shelves and ensure that the military services have what they need to fight and protect America.

    The lag in weapons deliveries has forced Ukrainian troops to spend months rationing their dwindling supply of munitions.

    A look at how the U.S. can quickly move weapons to Ukraine: When an aid package for Ukraine is announced, the weapons are either provided through presidential drawdown authority, which allows the military to immediately pull from its stockpiles, or through security assistance, which funds longer-term contracts with the defense industry to obtain the systems.

    The presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, as it’s known, has allowed the military to send billions of dollars worth of ammunition, air defense missile launchers, tanks, vehicles and other equipment to Ukraine.

    […] Those stocks are pulled from bases or storage facilities in the U.S. or from European sites where the U.S. has already surged weapons to cut down on the amount of time it will take to deliver them once the funding is approved.

    As the war in Ukraine has dragged on, the U.S. began to send increasingly larger, more lethal, and more expensive systems to the warfront. They included entire air defense systems, armored vehicles, sophisticated missiles—even Abrams tanks.

    Those systems cost more to replace, so the military—in particular, the Army—went deeper into debt. […] Army leaders recently told Congress that without passage of the foreign aid bill, they will begin to run out of money and have to move funds from other accounts.

    Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Gen. Randy George, chief of staff of the Army, said the branch wouldn’t have enough money to bring home troops serving in Europe or to train units in the U.S.

    […] According to a U.S. military official, the U.S. would be able to send certain munitions “almost immediately” to Ukraine because storehouses exist in Europe.

    Among the weapons that could go very quickly are the 155 mm rounds and other artillery, along with some air defense munitions. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss preparations not yet made public.

    A host of sites across Germany, Poland, and other European allies also are helping Ukraine maintain and train on systems sent to the front. For example, Germany set up a maintenance hub for Kyiv’s Leopard 2 tank fleet in Poland, near the Ukrainian border.

    The nearby maintenance hubs hasten the turnaround time to get needed repairs done on the Western systems.

  15. says

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:

    The Americans are not funding war in Ukraine. They foremost protect freedom and democracy all over Europe. And Ukraine is fighting. And Ukraine is sending their best sons and daughters to the front line. And this reduces the price for all Europe, for all NATO.

    It reduces the price for everyone, including the U.S. and the leaders in NATO. U.S. Army now does not have to fight protecting NATO countries. Ukrainians are doing that. And it’s only the ammo that the civilized world is providing. And I think it’s a good decision. That is why we do need to keep supporting.

    […] we want to get things as fast as possible so that we get some tangible assistance for the soldiers on the front as soon as possible, not in another six months […]

    Link

  16. says

    Group launches effort to explore ballot initiative restoring abortion access in Idaho, by Kelcie Moseley-Morris, Idaho Capital Sun

    Following a legislative session with no action taken to clarify or amend Idaho’s near-total abortion ban, some residents have formed a political group called Idahoans United for Women and Families to explore options for a possible 2026 ballot initiative that would restore and protect access to reproductive care statewide, including abortion.

    Idaho has a near-total ban on abortion with narrow exceptions for rape and incest during the first trimester of pregnancy and to save the pregnant patient’s life. Those prosecuted for performing an abortion are subject to two to five years in prison and the revocation of their medical license, along with potential civil lawsuits by family members of the person who terminated a pregnancy.

    “Now that the session is over, and in the absence of a remedy, we are moving full steam ahead,” said Melanie Folwell, the group’s spokesperson.

    Idaho has a citizen ballot initiative process, but only the Legislature can propose constitutional amendments. So unlike several other states that are attempting to use ballot initiatives to amend the state constitution to include abortion rights, the initiative language for this effort must come in the form of proposed legislation for voters to approve. What that language would say is to be determined, Folwell said, particularly because the state has passed many laws related to abortion over the years that may be difficult to untangle with one piece of legislation.

    The ballot initiative process requires involvement from the attorney general’s office, which is responsible for certifying the petition in conjunction with the secretary of state’s office. After the petition is approved, organizers can gather signatures for 18 months before April 30 of the election year, and must meet a signature threshold equal to at least 6% of registered voters from the prior election in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts. Based on the 18-month window given by Idaho law, signature gathering could begin as early as this fall.

    […] Idaho’s ban went into effect in August 2022, and in that time, 22% of practicing OB-GYNs have left the state, along with half of the state’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists. Three clinics across the state closed their maternal services, forcing some to drive more than an hour each way for routine maternity care. Hospitals and clinics have also reported difficulty recruiting new OB-GYNs and specialists to fill those empty spaces, citing a significant drop in out-of-state applications for positions. Dr. Sara Thomson, an OB-GYN in Boise and a representative of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said at an April event that 58 of 268 OB-GYNs had left the state or retired between August 2022 and November 2023, and over the same time period, just two OBs moved to the state to practice.

    Maternal care doctors have routinely told lawmakers that the way the law is written makes it difficult to feel confident that if they needed to terminate a pregnancy for a patient experiencing significant complications that could affect their health, not just threaten their life, they would not be prosecuted or lose their license. Rather than potentially violate their oath to do no harm to a patient through delays in care or refusal to treat someone, many doctors have elected to practice in states that do not have criminal abortion laws. […]

  17. says

    “Propaganda helped us to power. Propaganda kept us in power. Propaganda will help us conquer the world.” — Joseph Goebbels, German Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

    “Our strategy is to destroy the enemy from within, to conquer him through himself.” — Adolph Hitler

    Rachel Maddow:

    “The Nazi game plan aimed to disunite the United States by tearing at the weakest political and cultural seams in American society: the divide between have and have-nots, fear and hatred of immigrants, white supremacist race hatred, and antisemitism.”

  18. Tethys says

    I’m sure Kristi Noem of SD is hoping to become Mike Pence’s replacement as the tVP.

    Meanwhile in North Dakota, the Democratic Party has been trying to swing the state leftward this election, and has some good candidates.

    Kristina Christiansen is running for Senator and her entire campaign centers on the failures of our current system.

    The economic difficulties for rural America and family farms that have resulted from the corporate capitalism of the last 50 years are highlighted in this hard hitting Ad.

    video for Katrina Christiansen’s campaign for U.S. Senate in North Dakota in 2024, “Wolves”

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I44L1pzi4gk

  19. Tethys says

    @17

    David Frum- To make an avalanche takes more than one tumbling rock. Still, the pro-Ukraine, anti-Trump vote in the House is a very, very big rock. On something that mattered intensely to him—that had become a badge of pro-Trump identity—Trump’s own party worked with Democrats in the House and Senate to hand him a stinging defeat.

    He acts as if Congress finally doing its actual damn job of legislating is some extraordinary act.

    This paragraph would be greatly improved by a sentence that acknowledges that the USA also handed tfg a stinging defeat in 2020 for good reason, and nobody in Congress should be doing his bidding in the first place.

  20. whheydt says

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-organizers-signatures-anti-abortion-measure-on-the-ballot/

    Colorado organizers who sought to put an anti-abortion initiative on the ballot this November failed to gather enough signatures in time to qualify.

    The proposed measure from the Colorado Life Initiative sought to declare “a living human child must not be intentionally dismembered, mutilated, poisoned, scalded, starved, stabbed, given toxic injections known to cause death, left to die of the elements for lack of warmth or nutrition, used for experimentation, or treated in any way inhumanely to cause intentional physical harm leading to intended death or intended to cause disability to otherwise healthy and functioning parts of the body of a child.”

    For the purposes of the group’s initiative, a “living human child” exists “from the moment human life biologically begins at conception,” according to its website.

    The group needed to collect 124,238 signatures by the April 18 deadline. Faye Barnhart, co-sponsor of the measure, told CBS News that the group had collected “tens of thousands of signatures,” but fell short.

    More at the link.
    A group working on a state constitutional amendment submitted 230K signatures in support of writing abortion rights into the state constitution.

  21. Rob Grigjanis says

    Tethys @26:

    He acts as if Congress finally doing its actual damn job of legislating is some extraordinary act.

    My impression is that Congress hasn’t done its actual damn job for a long time, thanks largely to Republican obstructionism. Remember McConnell admitting they would block anything, regardless of content?

  22. Tethys says

    @28 Rob Grigjanis

    Remember McConnell admitting they would block anything, regardless of content?

    Sadly for the turtle faced traitor to democracy, he doesn’t get to obstruct the process anymore.
    Chuck Schumer is Senate Majority Leader, and the Senate sent their version of the Ukraine Aid bill to the House months ago.

    I’m fairly shocked that Mike Johnson has finally told the maga gang headed by mtg to pound sand, got his own house in order, and passed the aid bill. It’s surreal to suddenly have pissed off Republicans all over the news discussing (somewhat obliquely) how tfg is undermining democracy.
    Especially notable are the news reports with GOP Senators who worked hard writing the aid package and the bipartisan immigration bill that would have alleviated all the ‘border’ issues that the maga’s like to screech about.

  23. Reginald Selkirk says

    Supreme Court Justices Compare Bribes to Taking a Teacher to Cheesecake Factory

    The Supreme Court, amid an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy pertaining to unreported gifts to justices, debated on Monday whether a contractor making a $13,000 gratuity to a politician is similar to taking a teacher to Cheesecake Factory.

    In 2012, James Synder was elected mayor of the Northwest Indiana town of just under 38,000 people. Synder, who was struggling to keep his own business afloat and was behind on taxes, oversaw the bidding process for a contract to buy new garbage trucks for the town. The contract, which was worth over $1.1 million, went to a local company, and the final round of papers was inked. One month later in January 2014, the trucking company, Great Lakes Peterbilt, sent Snyder $13,000 for what he later claimed were consulting services.

    In 2019, Synder found his second term cut prematurely when a federal jury convicted of him of bribery. Although he appealed and was granted a new trial, the former mayor was convicted again in March 2021 and sentenced to 21 months in prison.

    The case found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to review an appeals court decision affirming the 2021 conviction of the former mayor of Portage — transforming the small-time corruption case into a national issue that has the potential to legalize corporations rewarding public officials in exchange for lucrative government favors.

    The Supreme Court has consistently worked to narrow the definition of corruption, but the timing of the case and its subject matter is interesting: Over the past year, the court has faced unprecedented scrutiny over revelations that justices have received and failed to disclose luxury gifts…

  24. gijoel says

    Elon Musk pisses off both sides of Australian politics by refusing to remove videos of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel being stabbed. from Xitter.

    Speaking on ABC’s Insiders, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Mr Musk could not ignore the law.

    “I think there’s a bipartisan position in relation to this, we know that the companies, and we’ve seen some of the comments from Elon Musk overnight, they see themselves as above the law, and Australian law should apply equally in the real world as it does online,” Mr Dutton said.

    “When Elon Musk says … the Australian law can’t apply to other parts of the world, I’m sure that’s the case, but in terms of the content which is displayed here or broadcast here, the Australian law does apply.

    “I think what they’re worried about is the flow onto other markets if Australia’s laws are upheld, and that’s all the more reason for us to take a stance, it’s important for us but for other democracies as well.”

  25. says

    […] We have election results out of Michigan where Democrats just retook a majority in the state House, and Alabama, where a runoff was just held in a new district created pursuant to the Voting Rights Act. We also had a big retirement announcement on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and then there is the case of the strange three-way House election in California, where a mystery recount is underway.

    Then on our deep dive, we are talking about first quarter fundraising numbers. New reports are in for all House and Senate candidates and as has been the case for many years now, Democrats just keep kicking ass.

    […] In one of the special elections in Michigan, Westland city councilman Peter Herzberg defeated Republican Josh Powell 60-38. That was in the 25th district and there was a slight overperformance from Biden’s numbers in 2020. According to Dave’s Redistricting App, the district backed Joe Biden 59-40. So just a little bit of an overperformance there.

    In the other district, Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong likewise beat Republican Ronald Singer 66-34. That was in the 13th district and that was again a slight overperformance of Biden’s numbers. Biden won 64-35, again, according to Dave’s Redistricting App. Xiong’s win makes her the first Hmong American elected to the State House.

    […] I think that a lot of these automatic recount laws specify too wide of a margin. We think of 1% as a close race, it is, but a 1% race is virtually never going to get overturned in a recount, but specify something smaller under state law, a quarter of a percent, something like that.

    I hope that California fixes the situation because demanding that the runner-up pay for a super-expensive recount that could cost six figures, well into the six figures, seems unjust to me.

    […] we now have first quarter fundraising reports for House and Senate candidates in hand. […] we are now six years into seeing almost unbroken dominance by Democrats on the fundraising scene, ever since Donald Trump won office in 2016. Starting in 2017, Democratic fundraising, especially grassroots fundraising, small-dollar fundraising, and email fundraising surged into absolute overdrive.

    And there doesn’t seem to have been a let-up. These new fundraising reports from top to bottom, almost invariably, Democrats are just crushing Republicans.

    […] You’re not just taking in money, and I think that’s what Republicans misunderstand. They think that just money is this purely fungible thing, but it actually matters where it comes from in campaigns.

    […] Ted Cruz is still working his same magic for the Democrats. Congressman Colin Allred pulled in an astonishing fundraising quarter, with more than $9 million raised. If it weren’t for Sherrod Brown just going hog wild, that would’ve been the biggest haul this quarter. Allred has more cash on hand than Ted Cruz, but here’s the amazing thing. He is outstripping Beto O’Rourke who set all kinds of berserk fundraising records in his Senate campaign in 2018. In the first quarter of that year, by the way, O’Rourke brought in $6.7 million. Now, with inflation that would be $8.3 million today. So Allred is still beating even that mark, but here’s something else to bear in mind.

    That quarter in 2018, O’Rourke was the top Senate fundraiser. Let’s put things in perspective. In the first quarter of 2018, Sherrod Brown raised $3 million. This time he’s done four times as much, four times as much, four times as much. Jon Tester, $2 million dollars. Again, four times as much. So it’s not just that Allred is beating O’Rourke and that he’s beating Cruz, it’s that everyone is beating everyone by big ass margins.

    […] I don’t think anyone is going to lose a race… any Democrat, to be clear, isn’t going to lose a race in 2024 because they didn’t have enough money. […]

    Text above is excerpted from a much longer transcript.

  26. says

    Even Murdoch’s New York Post is calling her “Moscow Marjorie” along with the rest of us

    t’s a rare occasion when a New York Post front page could be posted as the cover photo for a Daily Kos diary. But this is the front page of the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid for April 21, 2024, a day after the House passed a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine.

    And the actual story about the House passage of the overall $95.3 billion aid package was far from fair and balanced when it came to “Moscow Marjorie. […]

    Just look at the framing of the lead paragraph, particularly the use of the word “putsch”:

    House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Saturday crushed a putsch by far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Republican rebels — pushing through a $95.3 billion aid package that funds the fight against Russia, the defense of Israel and resistance against China.

    Lawmakers in a rare bipartisan effort overwhelmingly approved the four-bill package, including one measure providing $60.8 billion for Ukraine.

    The Post story went on to emphasize that the Ukraine aid package passed 311-112, with all the “nay” votes coming from Republicans, “including Greene who was hailed as `Moscow Marjorie’ by members of both major political parties.”

    The Post then offered some examples:

    “Putin’s Special Envoy to Congress already delivering for Mother Russia,” quipped Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) afterward.

    He was responding to a social media post by Greene saying, “Mike Johnson’s House of Representatives so proud to work for Ukraine. Not the American people!!! It’s despicable!.

    […]

    More at the link, including examples of other people calling Marjorie Taylor Greene “Moscow Marjorie,” and some video snippets.

  27. says

    Massive river flooding expected in China’s Guangdong, threatening millions

    A 12-hour spell of heavy rain, starting from 8 p.m. Saturday, battered the central and northern parts of the province.

    Major rivers, waterways and reservoirs in China’s Guangdong province are threatening to unleash dangerous floods, forcing the government on Sunday to enact emergency response plans to protect more than 127 million people.

    Calling the situation “grim”, local weather officials said sections of rivers and tributaries at the Xijiang and Beijiang river basins are hitting water levels in a rare spike that only has a one-in-50 chance of happening in any given year, state broadcaster CCTV news said on Sunday.

    China’s water resource ministry issued an emergency advisory, CCTV reported.

    Guangdong officials urged departments in all localities and municipalities to begin emergency planning to avert natural disasters and promptly disperse disaster relief funds and materials to ensure affected people have food, clothing, water and somewhere to stay.

    The province, a major exporter and one of China’s main commercial and trading centres, has seen major downpours and strong winds for several days, in a weather pattern which has also affected other parts of China.

    A 12-hour spell of heavy rain, starting from 8 p.m. (1200 GMT) Saturday, battered the central and northern parts of the province including the cities of Zhaoqing, Shaoguan, Qingyuan and Jiangmen where rescue workers have been dispatched.

    More than 45,000 people have been evacuated in Qingyuan, according to state media, and some power facilities in Zhaoqing were damaged, cutting power to some places.

    Overall in Guangdong, 1.16 million households lost power due to the heavy rains, according to state-backed media.

    About 1,103 schools in Zhaoqing, Shaoguan and Qingyuan will suspend classes on Monday, Chinese state radio said.

    […] Authorities in Qingyuan and Shaoguan also suspended ships from traveling through several rivers, with maritime departments dispatching forces to be on duty and coordinate emergency tugboats and emergency rescue vessels.

    Many hydrological stations in the province are exceeding water levels, weather officials warned, and in the provincial capital Guangzhou, a city of 18 million, reservoirs have reached flood limits, city officials announced on Sunday.

    […] In neighboring Guangxi, west of Guangdong, violent hurricane-like winds whipped the region, destroying buildings state media video footage showed. Some places have also experienced hailstones and major flooding, CCTV said.

    In another video, rescuers could be seen trying to save an elderly person clinging to a tree half-submerged in flood waters.

    As of 10:00 a.m. (0200 GMT), 65 landslides were recorded in the city of Hezhou located in Guangxi, state media reported.

    Weather forecasters are expecting heavy rain through Monday in Guangxi region, Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    University of Idaho murder suspect’s alibi defense puts spotlight on cellphone data analyst

    When Bryan Kohberger’s lawyers filed an updated alibi defense last week, suggesting cellphone tower data will show the man suspected in the slayings of four University of Idaho students was not in the area of the crime scene when they were killed, they said they planned to turn to an Arizona-based cell data analyst for key testimony.

    It wouldn’t be the first time that Sy Ray has been asked to be an expert witness in a high-profile murder trial…

    Ray, a former Gilbert, Arizona, police detective, founded ZetX Corp., a company specializing in cellular geolocation mapping, in 2014. In the courtroom, Ray has found himself and his mapping software, Trax, under questions about reliability before.

    “I’ve seen in previous cases where his credibility has been brought into question,” said Mark Pfoff, a cellular technology expert and former sheriff’s detective in El Paso County, Colorado.

    Pfoff testified for the defense in a 2022 hearing related to the case of a man accused of stalking an ex-girlfriend. But the judge barred prosecutors from using Ray’s software data.

    District Court Judge Juan Villaseñor ruled that ZetX’s Trax mapping was inadmissible and based on a “sea of unreliability” after other experts found the technology to be problematic.

    “For one, the Court doesn’t find Ray credible,” Villaseñor wrote, adding: “He inflated his credentials, inaccurately claiming to be an engineer.” He went on to say that Ray has “no qualifications, licenses, or credentials to support” calling himself an engineer and that there’s “no evidence that Ray’s taken any engineering classes.” …

    Villaseñor also took exception with how the Trax algorithm wasn’t open to “scientific scrutiny.”

    “While Ray stands by his formula, it hasn’t gained traction in the scientific community,” the judge wrote. “The methodology and algorithm aren’t published or subject to peer review, and they’ve been routinely labeled as junk science by the relevant scientific community.” …

  29. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #37…
    I’ve been seeing articles about claim that the defendant wasn’t near the crime scene because of cell phone location data. Personally, I’m not impressed. The real question isn’t where his cell phone was at the time, but where he was. Nothing says he was necessarily carrying that phone.

  30. Reginald Selkirk says

    @39: whheydt
    My current understanding, which is likely to change once evidence is actually presented at trial, is that his cell phone was off during the crucial period of the murders. So if this “expert” says “he started driving west, and so must have continued to drive west for two hours”, I’m not going to be impressed. There is some kind of gag order in place, so we don’t know how everything is likely to play out. But overcoming that DNA evidence on the knife sheath is going to be a feat.

  31. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #40…
    While I agree that DNA evidence should be compelling, a recent death reminds one of a jury that (because of lack of understanding?) rendered an acquital in spite compelling DNA evidence.

  32. birgerjohansson says

    You have probably mentioned it somewhere in the thread, but the California governor is introducing emergency legislation to let Arizona doctors come to California and perform reproductive care.

  33. birgerjohansson says

    You have heard of this before, but this link has more details.
    “Most Massive Stellar-Mass Black Hole in Our Galaxy Found” -a metal-poor* binary where the invisible component has more than 30 solar masses, at a distance of 2000 light years from the sun.
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=T7Cn-QCtuF0
    * in stellar astronomical contexts, ‘metal’ is the word used for anything not hydrogen or helium.

  34. StevoR says

    Happy -if that’s the word for it given the state of our planet Earth day everyone :

    Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EARTHDAY.ORG (formerly Earth Day Network)[1] including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries.[2][1][3] The official theme for 2024 is “Planet vs. Plastics.” 2025 will be the 55th anniversary of Earth Day.

    Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

  35. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 45, 46

    If the planet could talk, it would say “Fuck off, you lying, hypocritical, performative vermin.”

  36. says

    Lara Trump is helping lead the Republican National Committee, and she is the former president’s daughter-in-law. She said this about Trump:

    He showed us a whole lot that we didn’t know was going on — within the media, within Washington, D.C. He exposed a lot of people. So they have to do everything they can to keep him out of that White House ’cause they know Donald Trump gets in for four more years, the jig is up for them. The gloves are off. There are no holds barred here. He is going full-throttle. He’s not worried about winning another election [in 2028]. It’s four years of scorched earth when Donald Trump retakes the White House.

    That sounds nice.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] as Lara Trump sees it, powerful forces are working to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office, not because they disagree with him or his vision, but because they’re afraid that Trump will abuse his powers and execute a retaliatory agenda against his perceived foes.

    Those fears, Lara Trump suggested, are justified — because her father-in-law will go “scorched earth” starting in 2025.

    The RNC co-chair’s rhetoric, for what it’s worth, is very easy to believe. […]

    As regular readers know, presumptive Republican nominee, with little subtlety, has touted a radical vision for the United States — up to and including his stated intentions to create a “Day One” dictatorship after taking office.

    Under the former president’s preferred approach, he would also pardon politically aligned violent criminals, seize control of government departments and agencies that have historically operated with independence, enact radical anti-immigration plans, use government powers to crack down on journalists, and hire right-wing lawyers who would be positioned to help Trump politicize federal law enforcement and exact revenge against his perceived political foes.

    And did I mention that Trump has argued that presidents should be allowed to commit crimes with impunity? Because he’s done that, too.

    In other words, when Lara Trump boasts that her father-in-law will focus on retribution and retaliation if voters return him to the White House, there’s no reason to doubt her sincerity.

    This is, however, a deeply strange message to share with the public as the general-election phase of the 2024 race takes shape.

    As New York magazine’s Jon Chait explained, “Presidential candidates usually promise that everybody will be happy if they win. One of the historically unusual aspects of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is that he is promising to punish his political enemies in the event he gains power. ‘I am your warrior, I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution,’ he vowed last year.”

    His daughter-in-law is pushing an eerily similar message from her influential position at the RNC. […]

    Link

  37. tomh says

    Religion Clause blog:
    DOE Issues New Rules Under Title IX Protecting Against LGBTQ+ Discrimination
    April 20, 2024

    The Department of Education yesterday, in a 1577-page Release (full text), issued its final rules under Title IX on sex discrimination by educational programs receiving federal financial assistance. Among other things, the new rules provide:

    § 106.10 Scope. Discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

    § 106.31 Education programs or activities…. (a)(2) In the limited circumstances in which Title IX or this part permits different treatment or separation on the basis of sex, a recipient must not carry out such different treatment or separation in a manner that discriminates on the basis of sex by subjecting a person to more than de minimis harm…. Adopting a policy or engaging in a practice that prevents a person from participating in an education program or activity consistent with the person’s gender identity subjects a person to more than de minimis harm on the basis of sex.

    The new rules also make other changes, including changes in grievance procedures. NPR reports on the rule changes.

  38. says

    Special MSNBC prime time coverage of Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial starts tonight at 8pmET

    Rachel Maddow watched the trial’s opening statements in person, inside the courtroom (!!), and will share her first hand impressions tonight!

    Not sure we need all of those exclamation marks, but yes it does sound like a presentation I want to watch.

  39. says

    Kevin McCarthy is off the rails. Or perhaps he thinks his life will improve if he just sucks up to Trump even more than he already has:

    Six months after being stripped of his gavel, and four months after leaving Capitol Hill altogether, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has no interest in fading from public view. On the contrary, the California Republican appears quite eager to maintain a high public profile.

    In February, for example, McCarthy appeared on Fox Business to condemn special counsel Jack Smith’s investigations into Donald Trump. A month later, McCarthy appeared on CBS and pretended that Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a policy wonk.

    Earlier this month, McCarthy falsely claimed on Fox News that President Joe Biden tried to prevent Trump from running for a second term. In the same interview, the former speaker insisted that Democrats are being driven “crazy” by how much Americans love Trump.

    McCarthy kept the public-relations offensive going over the weekend, sitting down with Fox’s Howard Kurtz and suggesting that Hillary Clinton didn’t concede the 2016 presidential election — despite the fact that Clinton called Trump to concede on Election Night and publicly acknowledged her defeat, which are the sort of basic details the former House speaker really ought to know.

    But that’s not all he said. HuffPost noted:

    Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appeared to suggest on Sunday that President Joe Biden should meddle with the justice system in response to former President Donald Trump’s legal problems. … McCarthy, who backed Trump’s 2020 election falsehoods and voted against the certification of Biden’s win, pushed for Biden to consider “fairness” in the upcoming election during an interview with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz.

    McCarthy argued, “Why wouldn’t Joe Biden, caring about the voters, say, ‘You know what? This is wrong. If I had nothing to do with this, they should not have this trial right now so the American people could actually spend time on what the issues are.’ I think that’s even, that would be the real position for this Biden to take.”

    It led the Fox host to note that it sounded as if the former House speaker wanted the incumbent Democratic president to “meddle with the justice system.”

    McCarthy replied, “No. I want his opinion to be fair. I want his opinion to look for the American people in fairness.”

    I’m not altogether sure what those words meant, though seeing the former speaker on television once again led to a related question: What, exactly, does McCarthy hope to achieve by constantly appearing in the media and clumsily peddling partisan talking points?

    As it happens, I think we know the answer. In December, when McCarthy formally endorsed Trump’s candidacy, he publicly conceded that he was willing to serve in Trump’s cabinet if the former president returns to the White House.

    In March, during one of his Fox News appearances, McCarthy also suggested he was open to serving as Trump’s chief of staff in a prospective second term.

    All of which is to say, it’s hardly a stretch to wonder whether the former House speaker is stumbling through unfortunate media appearances as part of an elaborate audition to serve on Team Trump

    Link

  40. says

    Elise Stefanik is the only House GOP leader in contention for Donald Trump’s ticket (as a Vice Presidential pick). She’s also the only GOP leader who opposed security aid for Ukraine.

    Commentary:

    […] “I join the American people in praying for the safety of innocent Ukrainians as they endure an unwarranted and unjustified invasion by a gutless, bloodthirsty, authoritarian dictator,” Stefanik wrote in February 2022. “Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and deranged thug. We must stand with democracies under assault.”

    Two years later, the House Republican leader no longer appears quite so eager to stand with a democracy under assault. […]

    while House Freedom Caucus members were only too pleased to vote against security aid for Ukraine on Saturday, the House Republican leadership went in the opposite direction: House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer each voted with Democrats to advance the legislation.

    But there was one notable exception: […] Stefanik ignored her colleagues in the GOP leadership and voted with far-right members instead — her earlier rhetoric about “standing with democracies under assault” notwithstanding. […]

    Link

  41. says

    Excerpts from live coverage of Trump’s first criminal trial:

    […] Trump delivered a brief statement [outside of the courtroom] in which he spent more time complaining about the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James than the criminal case we’re here for today.

    Judge Merchan is going through housekeeping issues: one juror has a toothache, meaning that today will end early, at 12:30 p.m., to accommodate that juror’s doctor’s appointment. Another juror called in on Friday to express concern about media attention.

    The courtroom really is frigid. After Todd Blanche, Trump’s attorney, asked for the temperature to be raised last week, Merchan replied that the courtroom has two settings: very hot, or very cold. We’re going with the latter, it seems.

    What the DA Can Grill Trump Over
    Merchan read out his ruling on this, which follows last week’s Sandoval hearing and defines what topics prosecutors can ask Trump about should he choose to take the stand during the trial. Here’s the prosecutor’s request.

    Merchan granted questioning about the following:
    – The New York Attorney General verdict that Trump misstated the value of his assets for economic benefit
    – That he violated a court order in attacking Judge Engoron’s clerk during that case
    – That he was found to have defamed E. Jean Carroll
    – That he was found another time to have defamed E. Jean Carroll
    – That he stipulated to the dissolution of the Trump foundation in another NYAG case

    Trump stood up briefly for the jury’s entrance [he had refused to do so earlier]

    Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo is up with the opening statement. He says: “This case is about a criminal conspiracy. The defendant, Donald Trump, orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election.”

    “Then he covered it up by lying in his New York business records over and over again.”

    Colangelo is running through the scheme, first in broad brushstrokes and then in detail.

    A conspiracy, he says, was “formed” early on in the Trump campaign at a meeting with Michael Cohen to keep negative stories out of public view.

    To do that, Colangelo alleges, Trump falsified business records as part of the effort to reimburse Cohen for his efforts.

    All of it, Colangelo says, was “to influence a presidential election.”

    Colangelo is structuring Trump’s alleged conspiracy with AMI, the National Enquirer publisher, in three parts.
    – AMI, through its properties, was to publish flattering stories about Trump
    – AMI would damage Trump’s opponents, including many conservatives. One headline published by the National Enquirer suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was related to JFK’s assassin, for example.
    – David Pecker, the AMI CEO, would act as “eyes and ears” for the campaign.

    It plays to the prosecution’s main themes: this was a conspiracy to corrupt the election, aimed at hiding information from the public.

    Colangelo just said that as the 2016 hush money agreement progressed, Trump failed to initially make some payments to AMI. Michael Cohen, in a bid to assuage AMI CEO David Pecker’s concerns, used his cellphone to record a conversation with Trump in which they, Colangelo said, agreed to make the payments.

    Colangelo is framing the Stormy Daniels story in context of the Access Hollywood tape, where Trump infamously bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

    It was a truly damaging moment for Trump. You’ll recall it’s one of the only times he was forced to attempt to issue a genuine apology.

    And, Colangelo says, the prospect of Stormy Daniels releasing her story appeared only weeks later. That, he said, “could be devastating to his campaign” right after the Access Hollywood video.

    That’s a motive.

    Trump was famous at the time — and now — for stiffing contractors (and lawyers, but that’s another matter).

    Colangelo used this to make a point about how unusual it was for Trump, who he described to audible laughter as a “very frugal businessman,” to go to the lengths he did to establish an elaborate way to refund Cohen for his efforts.

    It “shows just how important it was to him to hide the true nature of Cohen’s illegal payment to Ms. Daniels and the overall election conspiracy that they had launched.”

    Blanche Starts For Trump

    “President Trump is innocent,” Blanche says. “President Trump did not commit any crimes.”

    “The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office should never have brought this case,” he adds.

    “This is a title he has earned because he was President,” Blanche remarks. “We will call him President Trump out of respect.”

    Blanche is continuing to try to walk a subtle line: casting Trump as a victim, but doing so with enough gentleness to make it persuasive.

    He takes that approach to say the following: “There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election, it’s called democracy.”

    There have been a few moments during Blanche’s opening statement where you can almost hear the voice of the client.

    Early on, Blanche took a detour to describe how successful Trump and his organization were. He mentioned, as I wrote above, that he would refer to the defendant as “President Trump” out of respect.

    And now, he’s taken his denial of the Stormy Daniels affair to the max: it’s not just that Trump didn’t falsify business records, but the claim was false to begin with — the pair never had sex, Blanche said.

    For Blanche, Cohen has irreparably damaged his own credibility by calling to put Trump in an “orange jumpsuit” and deeming him a “despicable human being.”

    Throughout, prosecutors are objecting, and Merchan is sustaining most of those objections. It led to another sidebar just now. But you can’t unring the bell: even if the statements cannot be considered in jurors’ deliberations, they still heard what Blanche said.

    Since 2015, we’ve been oversaturated with Trump scandals.

    There was the John McCain POW remark, the Stormy Daniels scandal, various permutations of Trump-Russia, innumerable corruption matters during his administration, the Ukraine impeachment, his handling of COVID, January 6. That’s a non-exhaustive list […]

    Blanche played to that sense of exhaustion in his opening statement. It came out just now when he said that David Pecker was engaged in nothing unusual in the catch-and-kill deal — that he was simply trying “to sell magazines.”

    It’s a broader view of the world, one engendered by all these scandals: this is just how things work. It’s the reality of politics and business.

    I almost think that calling this idea cynicism glorifies it — it’s more like exhaustion, or resignation. But that’s a big ally for Trump in this case, persuading the jury that there’s nothing exceptional or wrong about what happened.

    David Pecker just looks the part: the CEO of AMI, the publisher of National Enquirer and other properties.

    From opening statements, prosecutors seem more interested in getting Pecker to describe the sleaze than the crime. He’ll walk us through the world of National Enquirer, catch-and-kill stories, and Trump’s place in the seamy empyrean.

    In what caused some audible retching from reporters in overflow room, Pecker described his practice as “checkbook journalism.”

    David Pecker’s Je Ne Sais Quoi

    Some things cannot be described. They’re beyond the power of words, they exist in the ethereal moment, unable to be fully captured.

    One such thing is the full David Pecker package. We’re wrapping now, as Pecker started to explain the fame of a tabloid editor, and as he casually discusses the world of “checkbook journalism” and earnestly peers down to talk about the $10,000 budget assigned for each story. I would feel ridiculous even mentioning any notion of honesty or ethical obligation to the public here — it’s a different world, a different language.

    Justice Merchan dismissed the jury. We’ll be back tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. for a hearing on Trump’s contempt charges. The trial itself — with Pecker’s questioning — will recommence at 11:00 a.m., and go through 2:00 p.m.

  42. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine says it hit one of Russia’s oldest and proudest ships, continuing its rampage against the Black Sea Fleet

    Ukraine says it has struck another of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships — this time, its oldest active-duty naval vessel.

    Ukrainian navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk told Ukrainska Pravda that the ship was set ablaze at the port city of Sevastopol, in Russia-occupied Crimea, in an attack on Sunday.

    “The type of damage caused to the ship is being established, but early reports indicate that the ship is not fit to perform missions,” Pletenchuk told the paper. Business Insider has not independently verified the claim…

  43. says

    Followup to comment 54.

    A summary of sorts from Mark Sumner:

    […] the two cases are going to work out this way:

    Prosecution will walk through Trump’s catch-and-kill scandal scheme, showing the roles that Cohen and Pecker played. That means revisiting three cases:
    – The Dino the doorman case involving a $30,000 payment to bury a story about Trump having a secret child.
    – The Karen McDougal case where a nude model involved in an affair with Trump got $150,000 to shelve a proposed book.
    – The Stormy Daniels case whose $130,000 payoff is the direct focus of the illegal accounting behind this trial.

    In addition, the jury will hear about other cases, including the Trump Foundation and civil fraud trial, showing Trump’s frequent disregard for proper handling of his business dealings. And they’ll get a refresher on Trump’s sexual assault trial against E. Jean Carroll and the Access Hollywood incident to cover Trump’s abusive, dismissive attitude toward women as well as his own sense of privilege. The Carroll defamation case may also play a role when it comes to what’s likely to be the defense’s biggest line of attack: going after Cohen.

    Defense will more or less concede that the catch-and-kill scheme existed, but will paint it as nothing special. They’ll present McDougal and Daniels as people who attempted to extort Trump and were paid a small amount to go away. Instead of defending this part of the story, defense will focus on undercutting Cohen and focusing on the supposed crimes behind the 34 felony counts. In other words, they’ll accuse the prosecution of trying to distract the jury with scandal while saying that no actual crime occurred.

  44. says

    Meanwhile, the challenges over Trump’s bond seem to have been defeated, that’s in the fraud case before Judge Engoron.

    AGREEMENT REACHED: Kise [Trump’s lawyer] says they’ll agree to maintain the Schwab account in cash and give Knight exclusive control of the account. Under a previous agreement, a Trump trust shared control. Seems like this will moot the AG’s challenge to the bond.

  45. says

    Trump whining early this morning:

    Look at this story. Hamas Protests. But why aren’t Country Loving Republicans allowed to peacefully protest around the Courthouse, where I am right now. It’s like an armed camp. MARG2024!

    Factcheck: people are allowed to peacefully protest. A group of anti-Trump protestors stood outside the courthouse today and chanted “No one is above the law.”

  46. birgerjohansson says

    An additional comet may be visible this fall 
    “The Devil comet! Will it crash into the Earth and destroy civilisation? Sadly, no” | First Dog on the Moon | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2024/apr/19/the-devil-comet-will-it-crash-into-the-earth-and-destroy-civilisation-sadly-no

    A super-alloy for space, and for engines? The expanding field of high-entropy alloys
    “Researchers uncover kinky metal alloy that won’t crack at extreme temperatures at the atomic level”
    https://phys.org/news/2024-04-uncover-kinky-metal-alloy-wont.html

  47. birgerjohansson says

    The unfortunate Cara Santa Maria has been tricked into reviewing yet another horrible film for God Awful Movies. The podcast should be available st Youtube in another day.

  48. says

    GOP Representative Tony Gonzales:

    Look, Matt Gaetz, he paid minors to have sex with him at drug parties, Bob Good endorsed my opponent, a known neo-Nazi. These people used to walk around with white hoods at night, now they are walking around with white hoods in the daytime.

  49. says

    Biden assures Zelensky US will ‘quickly provide’ security package after it clears Congress

    President Biden on Monday spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to assure him the United States will provide more aid as soon as the Senate passes the national security package, the White House announced.

    Biden on Monday told Zelensky the U.S. has a “lasting commitment to supporting Ukraine as it defends its freedom against Russian aggression” and that “his administration will quickly provide significant new security assistance packages to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield and air defense needs as soon as the Senate passes the national security supplemental and he signs it into law.”

    The president also told Zelensky that economic assistance from the U.S. aims to help Ukraine maintain financial stability, build infrastructure following attacks from Russia and support reform while Ukraine moves toward Euro-Atlantic integration.

    Biden on Monday also spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and von der Leyen congratulated him on the House passage of the national security supplemental.

    “They spoke about how sustained international support is vital to Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” according to the White House. […]

  50. says

    Well, well, well, if it isn’t Melania […] Trump, the former first lady and mysterious chatelaine of The Palm Beach Omelet Bar and Nuclear-Secret Emporium!

    She re-emerged from her gazillion-dollar closet in a black Michael Kors pantsuit Saturday night to co-host an event with Richard Grenell for the Log Cabin Republicans, that conservative group that exists to prove that gay people are just as capable of stupidly voting against their own interests as heterosexual Republicans are. Also in attendance at the rather sparsely-populated event: Dr. Oz, Bill White and his husband Bryan Eure, donors Saul Fox and Amanda Schumacher and Roger Ailes’s widow Elizabeth.

    Melanie hasn’t appeared publicly much since she got a horse-sized bouquet and an ogling from her husband’s Hungarian fascist mentor Viktor Orbán last month, and she sure as shit isn’t about to show up in a filthy Manhattan courtroom to support her farting horndog husband. But she found time in between hanging out with her $370,000 stylist and doing whatever else it is she does all day to pose for photos, say some words about “unity” and grift some bucks.

    Her co-host was Richard Grenell, gay guy, who was was number four out of five directors of national intelligence under Trump, where he rooted out the disloyal. Before that he was a Fox News contributor, which caught the Big Man’s eye and got him the plum assignment of US ambassador to Germany. Once there he managed to ärgern basically everyone in his host country by going against the Vienna conventions to not-very-subtly call for German regime change, and blab his anti-immigrant opinions forcefully enough that the Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer called him “literally our greatest ally.” Most recently he’s been traveling around with the Kush, trying to help him spend that $2 billion he got from the Saudis on investments like a seaside spa in Gaza, Bosnia and/or Albania.

    Gaslight Grenell has been spinning tales mightily to convince suckers that Republicans are just great for gay rights, even as Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have been openly champing at the bit to overturn Obergefell. He’s lied that the Equality Act, which would have incorporated protections against discrimination into the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, would have granted “special rights” to gay people and is an attack on religion. He’s told so many whopping lies about Trump’s LBGTQ policies that WaPo awarded him four pinocchios, and his bullshit has its own page on the GLAAD website.

    […] Meanwhile, also on Saturday night, [Trump] canceled a rally appearance in North Carolina due to stormy weather, much to the disappointment of the Proud Boys who had assembled.

    The model-turned-moll found time on Sunday to hawk a $245 Mother’s Day necklace with maddening letter spacing. [image at the link] […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/melania-emerges-to-grift-log-cabin

  51. says

    Biden is marking Earth Day by announcing $7 billion in federal solar power grants

    President Joe Biden is marking Earth Day by announcing $7 billion in federal grants for residential solar projects serving 900,000-plus households in low- and middle-income communities. He also plans to expand his New Deal-style American Climate Corps green jobs training program.

    The grants are being awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency, which unveiled the 60 recipients on Monday. The projects are expected to eventually reduce emissions by the equivalent of 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and save households $350 million annually, according to senior administration officials.

    […] Senior administration officials said young Americans are keenly invested in the Biden climate agenda and want to actually help enact it. The Climate Corps initiative is a way for them to do that, the officials said.

    Solar is gaining traction as a key renewable energy source that could reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, which emit planet-warming greenhouse gases. Not only is it clean, but solar energy can also boost the reliability of the electric grid.

    […] solar energy can have high costs for initial installation, making it inaccessible for many Americans — and potentially meaning a mingling of environmental policy with election-year politics.

    Forty-nine of the new grants are state-level awards, six serve Native American tribes and five are multi-state awards. They can be used for investments such as rooftop solar and community solar gardens.

    Biden is making the announcement at northern Virginia’s Prince William Forest Park, about 30 miles southwest of Washington. It was established in 1936 as a summer camp for underprivileged youth from Washington, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps to help create jobs during the Great Depression. […]

  52. says

    Frustrated families of Indian migrant workers forced to fight alongside the Russian army in Ukraine say they feel they have no choice but to travel there to get their loved ones back.

    Across India, families are hearing similar stories from men who went abroad in search of work: They were lured to Russia with promises of jobs as cooks or housekeepers, only to find themselves forced to fight alongside the Russian military in its war against Ukraine.

    […] “For months, the families have been awaiting government action to bring the Indian citizens back home, but so far no progress has been made,” Raja Begum, 65, told NBC News last month as she sat in the yard of her two-story home in Poshwan, a village in Indian-administered Kashmir.

    Begum’s son Azad Yousuf Kumar, 31, left India for the United Arab Emirates in December. She said he had been promised a housekeeping job in Dubai by a consultant there identified as Faisal Khan, who often advertised such jobs on his YouTube channel, Baba Vlogs. In exchange for the job, Kumar paid a fee of 300,000 rupees, or $3,600, she said.

    Once Kumar arrived, however, “he was informed that there were no available jobs in the UAE,” said Begum, who has been exchanging voice messages with him. Kumar told his mother that Khan said he could still get a job in another country, and convinced him to travel to Russia to work in a kitchen.

    Instead, Begum said, Kumar was sent to a military training center in Moscow as soon as he landed. There he underwent 15 days of weapons training along with several other men from India and Nepal before being deployed to fight against Ukrainian forces on the front lines, Begum said, having been forced to sign a contract in a language he did not understand.

    “My son had received injuries during the training period,” Begum said. “He was not allowed to have a proper rest and instead was sent close to the border where a deadly battle was going on.”

    Kumar’s older brother, Sajad Ahmad Kumar, said Kumar told him that at least a dozen men from India had been trapped in a similar manner […]

  53. Reginald Selkirk says

    NASA officially greenlights $3.35 billion mission to Saturn’s moon Titan

    NASA has formally approved the robotic Dragonfly mission for full development, committing to a revolutionary project to explore Saturn’s largest moon with a quadcopter drone.

    Agency officials announced the outcome of Dragonfly’s confirmation review last week. This review is a checkpoint in the lifetime of most NASA projects and marks the moment when the agency formally commits to the final design, construction, and launch of a space mission. The outcome of each mission’s confirmation review typically establishes a budgetary and schedule commitment.

    “Dragonfly is a spectacular science mission with broad community interest, and we are excited to take the next steps on this mission,” said Nicky Fox, associate administrator of NASA’s science mission directorate. “Exploring Titan will push the boundaries of what we can do with rotorcraft outside of Earth.”

    In the case of Dragonfly, NASA confirmed the mission with a total lifecycle cost of $3.35 billion and a launch date of July 2028. That is roughly twice the mission’s original proposed cost and a delay of more than two years from when the mission was originally selected in 2019, according to NASA…

  54. says

    RFK Jr.: ‘I’m gonna put the entire US budget on blockchain’

    […] presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he wants to put the “U.S. budget on blockchain,” a ledger of transactions typically associated with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

    “I’m going to put the entire U.S. budget on blockchain so that any American — every American can look at every budget item in the entire budget anytime they want 24 hours a day,” Kennedy said Sunday during a rally in Michigan.

    The public accounting of spending would theoretically allow more transparency and accountability into how the government spends taxpayer dollars, although getting every government transaction onto the blockchain would be a Herculean task. [And what the environmental impact of processing all that blockchain information?]

    Federal spending is also controlled through legislation, which is available to the public, and federal departments are often audited by government watchdogs such as the Government Accountability Office and their own inspectors general.

    “We’re gonna have 300 million eyeballs on our budget […]” Kennedy said […]

    Kennedy has embraced digital assets, accepting campaign donations in bitcoin and touting plans to back the U.S. dollar with bitcoin if he’s elected to the White House in November.

    But Kennedy has also publicly opposed plans for a central bank digital currency (CBDC), which the Federal Reserve is currently “exploring,” as have many Republicans including former President Trump.

    […] Stand With Crypto — a 501(c)(4) nonprofit launched by grassroots advocates and the crypto exchange giant Coinbase that “champions for clear, common-sense regulations for the crypto industry” — rates Kennedy as “strongly supportive of crypto.”

    The advocacy group rates Trump as “supportive” of crypto and Biden as “against” it, although Biden did issue an executive order in 2022 laying out plans for “the responsible development of payment innovations and digital assets” that will help the U.S. maintain its leadership in global financial markets.

    Oh, yeah. Sounds like nothing whatsoever would go wrong if RFK Jr. implemented those plans.

  55. says

    […] Just marking it down in our book this one time that Tucker Carlson was being such an absolute moron even Elon Musk, another needy moron, noticed it.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/bad-news-elon-just-noticed-tucker

    […] Tucker’s “theory” is that “God created people. And animals.” And then he high-pitched laughed because OMG obviously duh! Tucker also thinks we understand less about science nowadays than we did centuries ago, which is kind of unbelievable. But sure, buddy! […]

    More details, plus video and tweets at the link.

  56. birgerjohansson says

    Jack Vance is dead but reality is imitating his writing.
    Lens Larque, one of the archvillains in the ‘Demon Princes’ novels is associated with a ‘coarse effluvium’ . He stinks.
    I just caught up with 3-day old news.
    “Trump Humiliated at Criminal Trial as Secret Gets Released”
    That’s not all that got released.
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=CHuCVBk1L4c

  57. says

    You Know We Can’t Actually Fit All The Unhoused People In Our Overcrowded Prisons, Right?

    Maybe criminalizing poverty is a bad idea?

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/you-know-we-cant-actually-fit-all

    Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case that will more or less determine whether or not we just go ahead and throw all of the unhoused people in prison.

    Over the past few years, thanks to increasingly high rents and a lot of fallout from the COVID crisis, homelessness has shot up by 12 percent— the highest it’s been since we started keeping track in 2007. At least 653,000 people in the United States are currently unhoused. That is about 70,000 more people than there are in the entire state of Wyoming.

    You’d think we’d be having more conversations about how to help those people, about what can be done to get them into housing — and there’s been some of that — but we’ve been hearing a whole lot more about how annoying it is for housed people to see these unhoused encampments and have to walk around people sleeping in tents on the sidewalk. America!

    The specific case SCOTUS is hearing today is Grants Pass v. Johnson. The town of Grants Pass, Oregon, attempted to deal with its unhoused population through civil and criminal penalties. For instance, they fined people $295 for “camping” or sleeping on public property and in parks. That number may as well be a million for those in that situation.

    Now, mind you, there are at the very, very least, 600 unhoused people in Grants Pass (that’s just officially, local service providers say the number is at least double that). There is one shelter in the town, with 138 beds. How, exactly, do they expect this to work? I was never very good at math, but even I can figure out that there is no way for this to work. [Good point!]

    Lawyers representing the unhoused argue that the penalties are unconstitutional because the people cannot help that they have nowhere else to go. The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with them, but the folks in Grants Pass are determined to make this happen.

    Should they win, it will be legal to criminalize homelessness. It will be legal to throw people in prison for being poor. Reportedly, the court is divided.

    Via Washington Post:

    Throughout the more than two-hour argument, the court’s three liberal justices were most skeptical of laws passed by the city of Grants Pass that they suggested criminalize the most basic of human needs.

    Justice Elena Kagan told the city’s attorney that its laws go well beyond the need to clear encampments from public spaces. “Sleeping is a biological necessity,” Kagan said. “Sleeping in public is kind of like breathing in public.”

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked where people are supposed to sleep in a city that lacks sufficient shelter beds.

    But several conservative justices, who make up a majority of the court, suggested that policymakers, and not judges, should be setting local rules for dealing with homeless people.

    Except for when it violates their constitutional rights. Because everyone, including the unhoused, has constitutional rights.

    That aside, what this comes down to is that we, as a society, want to punish people for a problem that we created. This is a direct consequence of whole lot of people getting exactly what they wanted, policy-wise. They got low taxes for the rich and for corporations, they got a broken social safety net, they got employers who can pay people less than they need to survive and landlords who can charge absolutely obscene rent if they feel like it. […] This is what even a little bit of laissez-faire capitalism looks like, and in case you were not aware, it is still not enough for a lot of people.

    […] The fact that people want to “solve” this problem by making things even worse for those who have found themselves in this situation is beyond galling.

    What we actually need is more public housing, more jobs and public works programs and, very importantly, safe shelters for people to go to, as well as options for those with mental illness and substance abuse issues. The people running the shelters are doing their best, but a lot of people end up having their things stolen or being assaulted or getting bed bugs or lice and they have actual, valid reasons for why they are scared to go back — which we could learn about simply by talking to people about them.

    Many shelters also cannot take people with certain mental illness issues or substance abuse issues because they are simply not equipped to be able to do that while ensuring the safety of everyone there. […]

    This is not just to be kind. Truthfully, it is the only way we are going to get the results that everyone wants. If you throw people in prison for being unhoused, what is going to happen when they get out? What will they do then? And where are we putting them in these prisons, anyway? Our prisons our overcrowded as it is, with 1.2 million incarcerated. How are we going to increase that by half? It is logistically ridiculous and, frankly, physically impossible.

    It would be lovely if once, just once, we could all calm the hell down and come up with solutions that are actually solutions, that would actually help people, instead of just throwing our hands up and saying “Well, I guess we have to just go with the cruelest thing we can imagine doing! Surely there is no other option!”

  58. Reginald Selkirk says

    When red-hot isn’t enough: New government heat risk tool sets magenta as most dangerous level

    Forget about red hot. A new color-coded heat warning system relies on magenta to alert Americans to the most dangerous conditions they may see this summer.

    The National Weather Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday — Earth Day — presented a new online heat risk system that combines meteorological and medical risk factors with a seven-day forecast that’s simplified and color-coded for a warming world of worsening heat waves.

    “For the first time we’ll be able to know how hot is too hot for health and not just for today but for coming weeks,” Dr. Ari Bernstein, director of the National Center for Environmental Health, said at a joint news conference by government health and weather agencies.

    Magenta is the worst and deadliest of five heat threat categories, hitting everybody with what the agencies are calling “rare and/or long-duration extreme heat with little to no overnight relief.” It’s a step higher than red, considered a major risk, which hurts anyone without adequate cooling and hydration and has impacts reverberating through the health care system and some industries. Red is used when a day falls within the top 5% hottest in a particular location for a particular date; when other factors come into play, the alert level may bump even higher to magenta, weather service officials said…

  59. says

    The head of intelligence for Israel’s military resigned on Monday following the intelligence failures that preceded the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, making him the most senior official to offer to step down in the wake of the assault.

    Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, the director of military intelligence, sent a letter to Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the army’s chief of staff, saying that he would like to leave the military. General Halevi accepted the resignation […]

    New York Times link

  60. birgerjohansson says

    A question for those in the know:

    Isn’t it soon time for the yearly big Russian parade celebrating the victory of 1945?
    Last year, the parade was humiliatingly brief, with a handful pf armoured vehicles and no aircraft flyovers as the regime feared drone attacks.
    I am told the GPS was scrambled to prevent drones from easy navigation

    -Have the Russians announced if they will have a parade this year?
    The Ukrainans are still short of artillery
    shells but they have demonstrated they can ‘project force’ deep into Russia using drones recently. Yet, Putin’s ego may not allow him to cancel the event.

    In that case I look forward to Youtubers like LazerPig to provide mocking commentary to live broadcasts of whatvever tiny parade the Russians dare expose to the risks.

  61. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohansson @ #79…
    If memory serves, Russia commemorates the end of WW2 on 9 May.

  62. says

    Same as it ever was. The New York Times reports that:

    […] inside the courtroom Trump was “jolted awake“ when his defense attorney “nudged him” during this morning’s proceedings.

  63. says

    NBC News:

    The United Auto Workers said late Friday that Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have overwhelmingly voted to join the union — marking a major milestone for the labor organization and its first successful organizing drive of an automaker outside of Detroit’s Big Three.

  64. says

    Politico:

    U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has handed down her harshest Jan. 6 sentence to date — five-and-a-half years — to Scott Miller, a Maryland man and former Proud Boys leader who assaulted multiple officers in a violent attempt to breach the Capitol. … ‘It can happen again,’ the Obama-appointed judge said. ‘Extremism is alive and well in this country. Threats of violence continue unabated.’

  65. says

    RFK Is Just As Dangerous As Trump On Abortion

    As abortion access promises to be an energizing driver for voter turnout in 2024 — with abortion initiatives making their ways onto ballots in a handful of states — abortion advocates and the Democratic Party are reminding voters early and often that a vote for President Biden is the way to preserve abortion access in their states.

    On the same day that the Washington Post published an article critical of 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s flimsiness on the issue, an abortion rights group began an ad campaign in Michigan and Wisconsin, painting RFK Jr. as a danger to in-vitro fertilization and abortion access generally.

    According to the Washington Post, RFK Jr. has been hard to pin down on abortion, but has often sounded less than fully supportive of it. He has spoken in support of a 15-week federal ban as recently as August, when he said at an event in Iowa that he wouldn’t necessarily “personally” support abortion restrictions, but then proffered the leave-it-to-the-states rhetoric and late-term abortion myths being pushed by Donald Trump and others, all in the same breath: “I think the states have a right to protect a child once the child becomes viable, and that right, it increases.”

    RFK Jr. has also done events with Angela Stanton King, an anti-abortion activist who runs a facility that attempts to change the minds of women seeking abortions and to persuade them to carry their pregnancies to term. She also has pushed conspiracy theories that Planned Parenthood and other abortion care providers encourage Black women to have abortions […] RFK Jr. has repeated some of that rhetoric in recent months.

    The pro-choice group, Reproductive Freedom for All Freedom Fund, paid for new ads to run in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Madison, Wisconsin, both big public college towns in swing states. RFK is not yet on the ballot for Wisconsin but has said he plans to meet the petition deadline to do so in August. He just qualified for the ballot in Michigan last week […]

    “He doesn’t know whether he’d support a national abortion ban, and he’s picked a vice president who won’t even protect IVF from MAGA attacks,” the ad said, according to The Hill. “Kennedy Jr. and Shanahan mean we’d be less safe from dangerous abortion bans, and get more attacks on IVF. Kennedy Jr. and Shanahan would put your reproductive freedom at risk,” it continued. […]

  66. says

    Followup to comment 60.

    Trump continues to whine:

    America Loving Protesters should be allowed to protest at the front steps of Courthouses, all over the Country, just like it is allowed for those who are destroying our Country on the Radical Left, a two tiered system of justice. Free Speech and Assembly has been ‘CHILLED’ for USA SUPPORTERS. GO OUT AND PEACEFULLY PROTEST. RALLY BEHIND MAGA. SAVE OUR COUNTRY! ‘THE ONLY THING YOU HAVE TO FEAR IS FEAR ITSELF.

    Nobody is stopping Trump’s cult followers from protesting.

  67. Reginald Selkirk says

    NASA’s Voyager 1 Is Finally Making Sense After Months of Transmitting Gibberish

    The Voyager 1 spacecraft returned usable data for the first time in more than five months, giving hope for the 46-year-old mission to finally be able to resume its normal operations. ..

    In March, the team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) pinpointed the cause behind Voyager 1’s nonsensical data: a single chip responsible for storing part of the affected portion of the spacecraft’s flight data system (FDS) memory…

  68. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia Is Jamming Airplane GPS For Thousands Of Flights Across Europe

    Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, a Faraday curtain descended across European airspace from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south. Over 46,000 planes have reported GPS issues while flying over the Baltic since last August, according to the Guardian. While aviation officials don’t believe Russia is purposely targeting foreign civilian aircraft, the interference still poses a safety risk…

    Newsweek reports that a recent uptick in GPS interference is due to more jammers being placed in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic coast…

  69. birgerjohansson says

    Typo gremlins strike again. Pnion should be Onion.

    BTW the authors who write the Trump-baiting stuff for Jimmy Kimmel are wordsmiths.

  70. Reginald Selkirk says

    California Is Grappling With a Growing Problem: Too Much Solar

    An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Washington Post:
    In sunny California, solar panels are everywhere. They sit in dry, desert landscapes in the Central Valley and are scattered over rooftops in Los Angeles’s urban center. By last count, the state had nearly 47 gigawatts of solar power installed — enough to power 13.9 million homes and provide over a quarter of the Golden State’s electricity. But now, the state and its grid operator are grappling with a strange reality: There is so much solar on the grid that, on sunny spring days when there’s not as much demand, electricity prices go negative. Gigawatts of solar are “curtailed” — essentially, thrown away. In response, California has cut back incentives for rooftop solar and slowed the pace of installing panels…

  71. Reginald Selkirk says

    Groundbreaking ceremony held for high-speed train from Las Vegas to Los Angeles

    Federal, transportation and union leaders gathered in Las Vegas Monday to drive spikes into a symbolic rail, marking the beginning of construction for a $12 billion high-speed rail line that will link Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area…

    Brightline West, the only private passenger rail company operating high-speed service in the country, is expected to build a 218-mile intercity passenger rail system between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where it would connect with Los Angeles’s existing regional rail system…

  72. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 95

    Gee, they are cutting back because no one is making money off of it? Typical fucking capitalism. How about selling that power to other states (assuming the infrastructure allows that) or giving–yes, GIVING– the surplus to poor folks who can’t afford their electric bill?

    Of course, the assholes on the right are going to twist this story to claim that solar doesn’t work or is costing people money.

  73. Reginald Selkirk says

    Puerto Rican solar and battery project to boost grid reliability

    Solar renewables company Infinigen Renewables and ArcLight Capital Partners have announced a power and battery infrastructure project in Puerto Rico to provide supportive flexibility and reliability to the power grid.

    A 15MW storage project will be paired with a 32MW solar project in the Yabucoa municipality of Puerto Rico.

    To bring the project online, Infinigen, a subsidiary of a fund managed by ArcLight, is partnering with FlexGen Power Systems, a battery energy storage integrator and software technology provider.

    The project will provide needed reliability and flexibility to the local grid, with increased power from the YFN Yabucoa Solar Project…

  74. says

    GOP officials targeting out-of-state abortions will need to access medical records. The Biden administration is taking new steps to stand in their way.

    Jennifer Klein, the director of the White House Gender Policy Council, told reporters this week, “No one should have their medical records used against them, their doctor or their loved one just because they sought or received lawful reproductive health care.” With this in mind, as the Associated Press reported, the Biden administration has finalized an important new policy.

    The medical records of women will be shielded from criminal investigations if they cross state lines to seek an abortion where it is legal, under a new rule that the Biden administration finalized Monday. The regulation, which is intended to protect women who live in states where abortion is illegal from prosecution, is almost certain to face legal challenges from anti-abortion advocates and criticism from abortion-rights advocates that it does not go far enough.

    For those who might benefit from a refresher, let’s revisit our earlier coverage and review how we arrived at this point.

    After Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices overturned Roe v. Wade, GOP officials at the state level did exactly what everyone expected them to do: They imposed sweeping restrictions on reproductive rights.

    But there’s always been an important catch to these state-based Republican efforts: People are free to travel, receive medical care from professionals in different states, and then return home. It’s not an option for everyone — many red-state residents can’t afford such a trip, can’t get time off of work, can’t arrange child care, etc. — but for some, these open doors are critically important.

    The challenge for GOP officials, then, is figuring out how to close them.

    As a practical matter, it’s incredibly difficult for Republicans to act locally, creating checkpoints, monitoring who’s traveling in and out of their states, and asking people to explain their comings and goings.

    It’s vastly easier to obtain — or at least try to obtain — out-of-state medical records. In fact, last summer, 19 Republican state attorneys general signed on to a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, making the case for being able to access these documents.

    The Biden administration was apparently unpersuaded and moved forward with plans to protect those who leave their home states for abortion care. The AP’s report added:

    The new regulation is an update to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which prohibits medical providers and health insurers from divulging medical information about patients. Typically, however, law enforcement can access those records for investigations. In states with strict abortion rules, the federal regulation would essentially prohibit state or local officials from gathering medical records related to reproductive health care for a civil, criminal or administrative investigation from providers or health insurers in a state where abortion remains legal.

    “Under federal law, you have rights to your privacy,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a press conference announcing the policy. “That’s what today is about. Making sure that Americans who convey very personal private health information have rights.” He added that women who also seek fertility, contraception, or miscarriage care will also be protected.

    A Wall Street Journal report added that litigation over the Biden administration’s new rule is all but certain.

  75. birgerjohansson says

    @ 101
    “Spokesperson says some bodies allegedly had their hands tied while others were bound and stripped”

  76. birgerjohansson says

    Sabine Hossenfelder offers some scathing comments.
    “Institute for Extinction Risk Shuts Down: What We Know”:
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=Lu_i042oaNg

    The Future of Humanity Institute
    (the one with ‘n-word’ Bostrom  and the long-termism crowd) should not be confused with the Future of Life Institute (the one with Max Tegmark)

  77. says

    Excerpts from live coverage of Trump’s trial:

    After Merchan started, the two parties left with the justice into his chambers for a (hopefully) brief conference. [regarding gag orders and Trump breaking the gag order]

    On the way into the courtroom, Trump stopped to claim (lie) that the NYPD had shut down the entire section of the city around the courthouse, blocking access to many streets and blocks. That’s not true, but it does help cover up what is likely a sore spot for Trump’s ego: there are very, very few pro-Trump protestors here for the trial. [pathetic]

    Merchan is starting the contempt hearing.

    “The purpose of this hearing is to find out whether defendant Trump should be held in contempt for one or all of these violations.”

    The Power Of Vagueness

    Conroy [lawyer from the prosecution team] used a striking line just now: he talked about how Trump escalated his attacks, approaching the line and finding creative ways to cross it while maintaining some level of plausible deniability.

    In this case, Conroy said that Trump “ratcheted up attacks on family members.” In this case, the “family member” was the daughter of Justice Merchan.

    The Future
    Trump’s status as a presidential candidate is part of the threat.

    Conroy noted that Trump has inserted “MAGA” into some of his allegedly violating posts, saying that adding political language in some ways makes it more threatening.

    Conroy is wrapping: he wants Merchan to issue the fines, and to order Trump to take the posts down.

    But he wants something more: for the judge to “remind” Trump that he could be sent to jail if he continues to violate the order.

    Blanche Is Up: ‘No Willful Violation’

    Todd Blanche is now up for Trump.

    He’s arguing that this is all a simple misunderstanding, a category error, really: Trump is a politician running for office. He knows the terms of the gag order, and would never violate it.

    What’s happening, Blanche suggests, is that he’s dealing with negative remarks from political critics — among them, Michael Cohen — and is responding in kind. It’s the kind of tit-for-tat that politicians typically engage in — completely incidental to the criminal case at hand.

    It has the effect of downplaying the fact of the criminal case in a very weird way, which dovetails with prosecutors’ argument: that Trump just does not care about the authority of the court.

    When it comes to Trump, everything must be seen as political, Blanche argues.

    I had thought that this would come up during the trial as a defense: that Trump is a politician, and he’s being persecuted in the case and misunderstood. But it’s emerging as a far greater theme of Trump’s defense than I anticipated.

    What Is Trump Responding To?

    Merchan is grilling Blanche over one of his main contentions: that Trump is merely responding to Michael Cohen, not attacking him.

    So, the judge is asking: what specific comment is Trump responding to?

    “He’s responding to the fact that Mr. Cohen has repeatedly talked about his qualities and candidacy for office of the President,” Blanche says.

    “There’s no specific post you’re referring to?” Merchan replies.

    It’s Not Going Well For Trump

    Merchan is visibly annoyed at Blanche.

    He’s asking repeatedly for Blanche to provide specific examples of what Trump was supposedly replying to when he made the attacks. Blanche is not responding directly, leading to exchanges like the following:

    “I’m not getting an answer,” Merchan said. “It’s almost 10:30, the jurors are almost here.” (The trial is scheduled to resume with witnesses at 11 a.m.)

    Blanche replied that prosecutors “got to speak as long as they wanted to.”

    “The people were answering my questions,” Merchan retorted.

    It’s worth noting: Merchan did not interrupt prosecutors once during their argument. Blanche’s has devolved into an extended back-and-forth between him and Merchan, including moments where Merchan allows himself to come off as openly offended.

    Take this moment, in which Blanche repeated a line used by his client: “He is very frustrated with the two systems of justice happening in this courtroom.”

    “You think there are two systems of justice in this courtroom?” Merchan asked.

    How Does Trump Get His Information?

    That’s what Merchan wants to know, remarking that Trump reposting something is not “passive.” [Correct. And that’s a good point.]

    Merchan: You’re Losing All Credibility

    As Blanche flails, Merchan spells it out: “You’re losing all credibility with the court.”

    Blanche continues to claim that he had no idea that the gag order applied to reposting content.

    Trump posted on Truth Social during the recess, writing that Judge Merchan had “TAKEN AWAY MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH.”

    Steinglass is back to questioning Pecker for the prosecution.

    He starts by asking Pecker about various people, including his longtime personal assistant, “Trish.” Pecker says that he does not recall Trish’s last name, drawing some laughs

    What’s so striking is how Pecker is still trying to ingratiate himself with Trump, almost as a reflex, even though he’s an adverse witness. It doesn’t seem to be taking place on the level of awareness — it’s really just how Pecker operates at a deep level.

    Pecker described The Apprentice, for example, as a “great, mutual, beneficial relationship” — Trump would provide content from the show to the National Enquirer. Trump would tip him off to who he planned to fire on The Apprentice.

    To Pecker, Trump was “very cautious and very frugal.”

    Steinglass needs this testimony to help establish later on that it was very unusual for Trump to agree to wire Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of the alleged reimbursement scheme.

    Pecker called Trump a “micromanager” and “detail-oriented.” Again, this is critically important to the case: prosecutors need to establish with the jury that Trump focused intently on details, particularly those around money. It helps them show that he had to have known about the money going to Michael Cohen to reimburse him under false records for the hush money.

    Steinglass is now moving Pecker from the broader world of tabloids, Trump, and general sleaze into the marrow of the case: an August 2015 meeting.

    The tone of all this is almost sappy in how mafia-esque it is, like the figures are acting how they think tough guys and players should.

    “I received a call from Michael Cohen telling me that the boss wanted to see me,” Pecker recalls. At the meeting, the two asked Pecker what he might be able to do to “help the campaign.”

    The response was that Pecker agreed to act as “eyes and ears” — identifying negative stories and then alerting Michael Cohen.

    David Pecker just cannot help himself with trying to ingratiate himself before Trump, even as he testifies to facts which may help convict him. “He was the most eligible bachelor, and dated the most beautiful women.”

    Steinglass introduced another exhibit, made up of positive Trump headlines that National Enquirer published pursuant to what prosecutors describe as a conspiracy.

    I took a few of them down before the exhibit disappeared from the screen. Here are four:

    WORLD EXCLUSIVE: THE DONALD TRUMP THAT NOBODY KNOWS!

    JOHN F. KENNEDY’s SECRET SON ENDORSES DONALD TRUMP

    DONALD TRUMP: ‘HEALTHIEST INDIVIDUAL EVER ELECTED’

    CRUZIN’ TO VICTORY! TED ENDORSES DONALD

    Sleazy, unethical, transactional. Not journalism. Not even good political activism.

  78. says

    Followup to comment 104.

    Excerpts from live coverage by Mark Sumner of Trump’s trial:

    Trying to pierce Pecker’s claim that the arrangement was mutually beneficial, ADA Steinglass notes that catch-and-kill of the alleged affairs didn’t benefit AMI’s magazines.

    Q: The purpose of that component was to benefit the campaign?

    Pecker agrees.

    Pecker was doing something that, arguably, ran counter to the best interest of his magazine to help, not just Trump, but the Trump campaign.

    Katie Phang:

    Prior to that 2015 meeting, Pecker had NEVER purchased a story about Trump in order NOT to run it.

    Trump was ten years into his third marriage and Pecker was intercepting stories from women who said they had slept with him. That’s not the “most eligible bachelor” territory. That’s more like “most obnoxious sleazeball.”
    Katie Phang:

    The August 2015 Trump Tower Meeting: Trump, Hope Hicks, Michael Cohen and Pecker were present. Hicks came in and out of the meeting.

    Cohen said that “The Boss” wanted to see Pecker. Cohen would refer to Trump as “The Boss.”

    Coming out of that meeting, Pecker says he agreed to write positive stories about Trump and negative stories about his opponents.

    So far as the National Enquirer was concerned, the fix was in.

    Lisa Rubin notes that Trump seems to be trying to bait Merchan into taking action, presumably to give Trump an excuse for appeal or to call for a mistrial. But someone should explain to Trump that the defendant being a disrespectful jackass is not grounds for appeal.

    I think Trump is goading Judge Merchan in order to provoke actions that allow Trump to raise more money from his gullible followers, and in order to play the victim card.

  79. says

    An article in the April 4 Süddeutsche Zeitung (byline Michaela Haas) talks about how the American press has reported on Donald Trump. It is truly damning. Here are a few choice excerpts.

    When Trump said he would pull out of NATO if elected president, US TV News broadcasts spent less than 6 minutes on the story. In the same period, they spent over 21 minutes on Biden’s advanced age.

    In 2016, more broadcast time was spent on Hillary’s sloppy e-mail management than on all of Trump’s scandals together.

    When Trump said he would use the military to stifle political opposition, the Associated Press reported “Trump intends a wider role for the military”.

    The US population largely believes the Trump propaganda that the economy in in the dumps due to Biden, whereas the truth is historically low unemployment and strong GDP growth.

    Local radio broadcasters constantly report on a crime wave caused by immigration, whereas the truth is that US-born citizens have double the crime statistics of undocumented immigrants.

    Six years ago, 1/4 of Trump voters believed the 2020 election was stolen. The number today is 70%.

    3/4 of all voters today do not know that Trump called his political opponents “vermin” and promised mass deportations on the first day of his presidency.

    Online news is driven by algorithms to maximize click-bait. People do not know what to believe, and have become cynical and apathetic. The most important duty of the press, to inform people, has been lost.

    It seems that if one wants to know the facts about Trump, it is better to read the foreign press

    Link

  80. says

    Associated Press:

    Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed satisfaction on Monday after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor.

    Candidates from his pro-European Union centrist Civic Coalition, or running with the party’s backing, won in a series of cities in the second round of local elections held on Sunday, among them Krakow, Poznan, Wroclaw and Rzeszow.

    […] The results put Civic Coalition in a favorable position as the country looks next to elections to the European Parliament on June 9.

  81. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna, OM @ 107
    “It seems that if one wants to know the facts about Trump, it is better to read the foreign press”
    Absolutely. I have found The Gusrdian to be a reasonably reliable source for politics in America.

    (And -as was mentioned long ago- comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are more trustworthy than much traditional media)

  82. says

    The Atlantic:

    […] The issues that were supposed to keep the Trump show on the road have proved squibs and fizzles. Inflation is down. Crime is down. Republicans threw away the immigration issue by blowing up—at Trump’s order—the best immigration deal they’ve ever seen.

    The attempt to confect Biden scandals to equal Trump’s scandals turned into an embarrassing fiasco that relied oninformation from a suspected Russian spy indicted for lying to the FBI.

    And Trump himself now faces trial in New York State on one set of felony charges. He faces a federal trial, probably starting this fall, on the even graver criminal indictments arising from his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

  83. KG says

    Six years ago, 1/4 of Trump voters believed the 2020 election was stolen. – Lynna, OM@107, quoting Daily Kos

    Well sure, Trump voters are numpties, but did 1/4 of them really believe in 2018 that the 2020 election was stolen?

  84. tomh says

    Re: Trump trial

    For those of us who can’t get enough, the New York State Court system will publish a transcript of each day’s court action by the end of the following day on its website. The transcripts can be found here under People v Donald J. Trump (Criminal).

  85. says

    In the abstract, the larger set of circumstances is so utterly implausible that it reads like unrealistic fiction: A suspected felon, facing 88 criminal counts, has spent years condemning those he describes as “dirty cops“ and suggesting he’d like to see prosecutions of police officers.

    That same accused criminal — currently on trial in one jurisdiction, while awaiting trials in other jurisdictions — is telling voters that he’s running on a “law and order” platform. His alleged crimes and condemnations of law enforcement haven’t stopped multiple police unions from endorsing his 2024 candidacy — the first time in modern American history in which police unions have backed a suspected criminal for national elected office.

    As fanciful as this dynamic might sound, it is precisely the one playing out in American presidential politics this year. The New York Times this week shined a light on the “complicated relationship” between Donald Trump and law enforcement.

    Mr. Trump often poses for photos with local police officers who are helping to guard his motorcades at various stops. … But Mr. Trump’s statements, actions and the images he presents stand in stark contrast to the way the former president … talks about law enforcement in the context of the legal system that is seeking to convict him.

    I’ve long believed there’s a parallel between Trump’s support for law enforcement and his support for the military. On the surface, he celebrates superficial elements of the armed forces: He likes the flags, the uniforms, the symbols, the saluting, and perhaps most importantly, the idea of conveying “strength” and “toughness.”

    It’s just below the surface […] where we see Trump trashing generals, questioning the value of military service, and denigrating veterans.

    […] He appears to like the idea, in the abstract, of supporting well-armed good guys who’ll keep the streets safe from scary looking bad guys.

    But beyond the abstractions, there’s a reason President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign recently issued a written statement accusing the former president of “lying about supporting cops.”

    Consider a newly revised list of reasons Donald Trump Deserves To Be Seen As An Opponent Of Law Enforcement.

    […]Trump is currently a suspected felon out on bond, facing dozens of criminal counts across multiple jurisdictions.

    Trump is facing civil suits from police officers who sustained injuries during the Jan. 6 riot the Republican instigated.

    Trump has condemned common law-enforcement tools, including plea agreements for witnesses who cooperate with prosecutors.

    Trump abused his powers by intervening in criminal cases in which the defendants were political allies, letting politically connected suspects go free — even after some have pleaded guilty — and undermining law enforcement in the process.

    Trump has undermined law enforcement by abusing his pardon powers, in one case even commuting the sentence of a man accused of helping murder of a police officer.

    Trump lashed out at the police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt as a “thug” and a “coward” who deserves to be vilified.

    Trump has promised day-one pardons for insurrectionists, many of whom violently clashed with police officers.

    While in office, Trump saw law enforcement as a political weapon he can wield at his convenience, which led him to urge law enforcement officials to enforce his political vendettas and help Republicans win elections.

    Trump has expressed support for prosecuting members of the Capitol police.

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a sycophantic supporter of the former president, recently declared via social media, “No one Backs The Blue more than President Trump.”

    There’s ample evidence to the contrary.

    Link

  86. says

    Rachel Maddow:

    I was at the courthouse Monday for opening statements in the first criminal trial of former President Donald Trump, the New York State case that alleges he falsified business records to cover up an affair with an adult film star and director, Stormy Daniels, in order to boost his 2016 run for president.

    It’s a real privilege to be in the courtroom — news organizations have been fighting tooth and nail to get seats; I was very grateful for a chance to be there.

    Some of my purely subjective observations about what it’s like to be there in person:
    – The courtroom is barebones and inelegant. It has unflattering lighting. Think DMV office with a high ceiling.
    – The courtroom doesn’t smell good. Think old soup and stale breath.
    – The overall atmosphere is one I would describe as tense.
    – The police officers who police the courtroom are working very hard and they appear to be very stressed.
    – The judge in the case is soft-spoken and has a pleasant voice.
    – Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo speaks just like Seth Meyers when Seth Meyers is not telling jokes.
    – Trump looks a lot older than he used to.

    It seemed to me — again, in my purely subjective take — that Trump seemed miserable to be there. That said, a lot of us look older than we did at the start of the Trump era in news and politics (myself very much included).

    I also think anyone’s got a right to look miserable when they’re sitting in a courtroom charged with dozens of felonies as a criminal defendant.

    From the opening statement by defense counsel for Trump, we got a sense about how they’re going to defend their client.

    They’re going to stress that he’s a former president, that he’s the presumptive Republican nominee for president again.

    They’re going to claim that every aspect of his conduct was innocent — that there wasn’t an underlying sexual encounter to cover up, that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid a porn star on his own accord and for his own reasons, that Trump paid Cohen purely and only for normal legal services. In short, their message to the jury is that Trump had nothing to do with any affair or any cover-up of an alleged affair, and none of it had anything to do with the election.

    If that is basic strategy from the defense, the prosecution’s opening statements presented one fact pattern in particular that might be the most difficult thing for the defense to explain away.

    In the prosecution’s opening statement, Matthew Colangelo explained to the jury that there was what he called a criminal conspiracy between Trump and AMI to publish positive stories about Trump in the National Enquirer, and negative stories about his rivals, while also finding as-yet unpublished negative stories about Trump and paying people who might tell those stories to be quiet about them before the election.

    The last part of that alleged conspiracy — the so-called “catch and kill” part of the scheme — is what is of most interest to prosecutors and what led to the charges that landed Trump in court.

    Colangelo explained to the jury that AMI, which owns the National Enquirer, first found Dino Sajudin, a doorman at a Trump building, who said Trump had fathered a secret child with a housekeeper.

    The doorman was the first person they paid to keep quiet about a Trump-related story, Colangelo said. Then there was a second person — a woman named Karen McDougal who said she had had an affair with Trump. Colangelo told the jury they paid her to keep quiet about her story, too.

    Then there was Stormy Daniels, and although the National Enquirer also made arrangements to pay her for staying quiet, after their earlier two payoffs to benefit Trump’s campaign, Colangelo said, they decided they were not interested in putting up yet more money for this third catch-and-kill. Instead, it was Michael Cohen who had to put up the money for the payment to Daniels.

    Here’s what Colangelo explained next:

    “Cohen made that payment at Donald Trump’s direction and for his benefit, and he did it with a specific goal of influencing the outcome of the election.

    Now, look, no politician wants bad press, but the evidence at trial will show that this was not spin or communication strategy; this was a planned, coordinated long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, to help Donald Trump get elected, through illegal expenditures, to silence people who had something bad to say about his behavior, using doctored corporate records and bank forms to conceal those payments along the way.

    It was election fraud. Pure and simple.”

    Standing before the jury, Colangelo noted that the 2016 election was close, and that the potential impact of this alleged criminal conspiracy on the outcome of the race will never be known. He continued:

    “We will never know, and it doesn’t matter, if this conspiracy was the difference-maker in a close election.

    But you will see evidence in the defendant’s own words from his social media posts, from his speeches at campaign rallies and other events, you will see in his own words, making crystal clear that he was certainly concerned about how all of this could hurt his standing with voters and with female voters in particular.

    You will also see evidence that on election night, as news outlets got closer to calling the election for Donald Trump… the lawyer for both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal texted [editor] Dylan Howard at the National Enquirer and he said, ‘What have we done?’

    About a month after the election, Pecker then authorized AMI to release both Sajudin and McDougal from their non-disclosure agreements.”

    So, having paid for the stories in order to keep them from the public before Election Day, Pecker and AMI then told both McDougal and Sajudin a month after the election that they were no longer bound by the non-disclosure agreements.

    For context, it is important to know that the defense has claimed none of these payments had anything to do with the election.

    But the prosecution says it will present evidence that Trump and AMI paid for these people to be silent until the election was over, and then once the election was over, they released these people from their agreements. [video at the link]

    Logically, if not legally, this just bluntly gives lie to the defense’s portrayal of Trump’s actions, as described in their opening statement.

    The unavoidable implication is that, once the election happened, Trump and AMI didn’t care anymore about keeping those stories away from the public. Because at that point, it was “mission accomplished”; the mission had been to influence the election.

    From what I heard in court Monday, this is the prosecution’s argument that is most troublesome for the defense. If prosecutors can support these claims with evidence and convince the jury of the truth of this fact pattern, it presents a nearly irrefutable logical inference showing what the payoffs were for: Trump was not acting not to protect his brand or to save his family from embarrassment. The payments were made purely and only for the purpose of influencing the election. Full stop.

    The prosecution calls what Trump and AMI did “a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election,” one that was “covered up” by lying in Trump Organization business records. Logically, that would seem like the crux of the case. Legally — we’ll see.

    Link

  87. says

    President Joe Biden will speak in Tampa today, delivering remarks on reproductive rights, abortion access, and the threat Donald Trump poses.

    Link

  88. says

    New Biden rule extends overtime to millions of salaried workers

    The Biden administration announced a rule Tuesday aimed at ensuring workers whose annual salaries are roughly $59,000 or less are compensated fairly when working overtime.

    The Labor Department said the rule would increase the salary thresholds required to exempt salaried workers from federal overtime pay requirements.

    Starting this July, the office said the salary threshold would rise to $43,888, and then jump to $58,656 in January 2025.

    “The July 1 increase updates the present annual salary threshold of $35,568 based on the methodology used by the prior administration in the 2019 overtime rule update,” the office said.

    Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su said in a statement that the new rule would “restore the promise to workers that if you work more than 40 hours in a week, you should be paid more for that time.”

    “Too often, lower-paid salaried workers are doing the same job as their hourly counterparts but are spending more time away from their families for no additional pay,” she said. “That is unacceptable.”

    The Labor Department said, beginning in July 2027, that salary thresholds would “update every three years, by applying up-to-date wage data to determine new salary levels” as part of the new rule.

    Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), former head of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, lauded the move in a statement Tuesday, adding the rule could “make a material difference in the lives of over 4 million workers.” […]

  89. says

    Read This Delicious Newly Unsealed Evidence In Jack Smith’s Stolen Documents Case Against Trump!

    Is it bad if tons of people told Trump to return his stolen state secrets? What about if he promised his co-conspirator Walt Nauta a pardon for lying to the FBI?

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/read-this-delicious-newly-unsealed

    […] let’s go down south to Florida and visit Trump’s federal criminal case for stealing state secrets and obstructing the government’s efforts to recover them. (We still don’t know what his motive was there! Was it treason? Selling something to one of America’s enemies/his friends? Who knows!)

    […] now we can read some newly unsealed filings from Special Counsel Jack Smith, to get more of an idea exactly what kind of evidence Judge Aileen Cannon has in front of her. It’s the kind of stuff that, in a reasonable world, would make it very hard for even a shitty judge like Cannon to choose to be derelict in her duty.

    Specifically, we have the interview summary of “Person 16,” an unnamed associate of Trump’s who didn’t want their interview recorded, because even though that would be weird compared to other interviewees, it would be a “far bigger risk for him in the Trump world” to have that recording exist. (Not explicitly stated: because it’s a deranged crime family!)

    According to the [heavily redacted] interview summary, this person had close access to Trump when he was president and after, and said he never knew Trump to declassify any records, except that time he declassified documents related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane (Russia Russia Russia) investigation, and that there was “no standing declassification order.”

    The summary says “multiple people” tried to convince Trump to return the documents he stole, when the problem was discovered. And it says they made their own appeal to Trump in fall of 2021 on a conference call:

    “Whatever you have, give it all back.”

    Person 16 inveighed upon multiple people around Trump to get him to give it all back, explaining again that these documents were the government’s property. This person knew Trump needed to hear the same thing from lots of people sometimes, in order to get things through his skull. He tried to impress it on one of the Trump children:

    “There are issues with the boxes. They belong to the government, talk to your dad about giving them back. It’s not worth the aggravation.”

    During a visit to Mar-a-Lago in November 2021, Person 16 told Trump, who was wearing his frumpy golf clothes at the time:

    “Whatever you have, give everything back. Let them come here and get everything. Don’t give them a noble reason to indict you, because they will.”

    The summary says Trump gave a “weird ‘you’re the man’ type of response,” and at that point Person 16 really thought Trump was going to give the stolen goods back. We all know that didn’t happen.

    The summary also says that Trump told his co-indicted co-conspirator co-defendant Walt Nauta that even if he is charged with lying to the FBI, it’s fine, because Trump will just pardon him in 2024.

    So that’s probably totally legal and totally cool.

    Oh by the way, the code name for this investigation was PLASMIC ECHO […]

    FBI codenames are weird.

  90. says

    National Enquirer made up the story about Ted Cruz’s father and Lee Harvey Oswald, former publisher says

    David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, testified at Donald Trump’s trial Tuesday that the tabloid completely manufactured a negative story in 2016 about the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, who was then Trump’s rival for the GOP presidential nomination.

    The paper had published a photo allegedly showing Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963, not long before Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

    Trump repeatedly referred to the story on the campaign trail and in interviews.

    “I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump said in an interview with Fox News in May 2016. “It’s horrible.”

    Manhattan prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked Pecker about the story’s origins during the trial Tuesday in Manhattan. Pecker said that then-National Enquirer editor-in-chief Dylan Howard and the tabloid’s research department got involved, and Pecker indicated that they faked the photo that was the foundation for the story.

    “We mashed the photos and the different picture with Lee Harvey Oswald. And mashed the two together. And that’s how that story was prepared — created I would say,” Pecker said on the witness stand.

    Asked by Steinglass whether Cruz had gained popularity in the presidential race at the time, Pecker said, “I believe so.”

    […] Pecker suggested that Trump was directly involved in the process, too. He said that the negative stories about Trump’s opponents were published as part of an arrangement that was struck in 2015 at a Trump Tower meeting that also included a directive to write positive stories about [Trump].
    […]

    One begins to see why Trump seemed to be so familiar with “fake news.”

  91. Reginald Selkirk says

    Florida man saves neighbor from jaws of 11-foot gator by hitting it with his car

    A man in Collier County narrowly escaped a potentially deadly encounter with an 11-foot alligator Friday.

    NBC affiliate WBBH reported that Friday night, Rick Fingeret was walking his two Labradors near a pond in The Quarry off Immokalee Road when he was attacked by the massive gator…

    “I was driving, and we saw a man lying on the ground, waving his arm,” Rudder told WBBH. “We pulled over and I got out of the car and saw that an alligator had him by the leg.”

    With not much time to think, Rudder ran over the alligator, which released Fingeret from its mouth…

  92. says

    The Hill:

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted 3-2 Tuesday to ban noncompete agreements that prevent tens of millions of employees from working for competitors or starting a competing business after they leave a job. From fast food workers to CEOs, the FTC estimates 18 percent of the U.S. workforce is covered by noncompete agreements — around 30 million people.

  93. says

    Summarized by Steve Benen, from an Associated Press article:

    Trump’s inconsistencies on the H-1B visa program seem problematic: “The social media company founded by former President Donald Trump applied for a business visa program that he sought to restrict during his administration and which many of his allies want him to curtail in a potential second term.”

  94. says

    Miami Herald:

    Some of the 49 migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by the state of Florida [at Governor Ron Desantis’ orders] are now able to legally work in the United States and have temporary protections from deportation — because they are considered victims of a potential crime, their attorney says.

  95. birgerjohansson says

    Brony @ 126

    For as long as I have covered US news sites, “projection” has been the core trait of the Republicans (with the odd exception of halfway decent politicians like Bob Dole).
    The Tea Party accelerated the process until Trumpism gave us this pathology in its purest form. You can no longer run for a prominent office as Republican without proving ideological purity by endorsing Trump’s claims.

    May the rotten organisation sink into the foul swamp of history together with the Tories and the various European xenophobe parties.

  96. Reginald Selkirk says

    You can now buy a flame-throwing robot dog for under $10,000

    If you’ve been wondering when you’ll be able to order the flame-throwing robot that Ohio-based Throwflame first announced last summer, that day has finally arrived. The Thermonator, what Throwflame bills as “the first-ever flamethrower-wielding robot dog” is now available for purchase. The price? $9,420.

    Thermonator is a quadruped robot with an ARC flamethrower mounted to its back, fueled by gasoline or napalm. It features a one-hour battery, a 30-foot flame-throwing range, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for remote control through a smartphone…

  97. says

    To add a description. Via Indisputable: Biden makes a comment about his uncle getting eaten by cannibals in Paupa New Guinea after being shot down. His uncle wasn’t shot down. There was a crash in water after engine failure.

    And the press secretary going on about “uplifting troops” is disgusting. The problem is stereotyping Paupa New Guinea natives with a totally unnecessary lie.

  98. says

    About a month ago, Lev Parnas appeared on Capitol Hill and delivered some striking testimony. According to the Ukrainian American businessman, he used to work closely with Rudy Giuliani on digging up dirt on Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

    “The American people have been lied to by Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and various cohorts of individuals in government and media positions,” Parnas said. “They created falsehoods to serve their own interests knowing it would undermine the strength of our nation.”

    In the same testimony, Parnas told lawmakers that there were people “doing the bidding for the Russians — people in Congress, like Sen. Ron Johnson.” Referring to his disinformation efforts with Giuliani, Parnas added, “Ron Johnson was our guy in the Senate.” […]

    Russia Ron says he voted against Ukraine aid and uses the exact same talking points as Putin in his Tucker interview:
    1. Putin wanted peace but Biden & Boris Johnson scuttled talks.
    2. Putin can’t lose the war.
    3. It’s just a proxy war being fought by West v Russia.

    As a bipartisan security aid package — which included military support for Ukraine in its war against Russia — was poised to clear Capitol Hill, Johnson appeared on a conservative outlet called Real America’s Voice to explain his opposition to the legislation.

    “We now know that there were peace negotiations occurring in Istanbul that apparently the Biden administration and [former British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson helped scuttle, unfortunately. But the reality of the situation is that Vladimir Putin will not lose this war. So what has happened now is, this has devolved into, pretty much a proxy war between the West and Russia.”

    So to sum up, Johnson suggested that the United States and its ally bear at least some responsibility for the lack of peace in Ukraine, and he believes that Russia is simply too powerful to lose.

    This is, oddly enough, exactly what the Kremlin is hoping to hear from prominent American officials.

    What’s more, it’s part of an extraordinary pattern. […] it was just a couple of months ago when the public learned that Alexander Smirnov — the witness at the heart of the Republican Party’s impeachment crusade against President Biden — was arrested for lying to the FBI about the Bidens and allegedly received information from foreign intelligence officials, including lies from Russia.

    Johnson wasted little time in declaring that Smirnov is “innocent until proven guilty,” and suggested that the Justice Department’s investigation might be “corrupt.”

    A couple of weeks earlier, Johnson denounced U.S. aid to Ukraine, criticized U.S. sanctions against Russia, and expressed agreement with Vladimir Putin’s recent rhetoric.

    Years earlier, Johnson conceded that he received an FBI briefing, warning the senator that he was a target of Russian disinformation. (He blew off the warnings.)

    Before that, U.S. intelligence officials warned senators and their aides that Russia was engaged in a campaign “to essentially frame” Ukraine for Russia’s 2016 election attack. Soon after, Johnson nevertheless appeared to endorse Russia’s line.

    A year earlier, Johnson was part of a Senate delegation that spent the 4th of July in Moscow. Upon his return, the Wisconsin Republican questioned the utility of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

    This week, for whatever reason, Johnson added to this deeply unfortunate record.

    Link

  99. says

    Tennessee Republicans agree to let teachers carry guns in schools

    It was about a year ago when a gunman killed six people — three children and three staffers — at the Covenant School in Nashville, and much of the public looked to Tennessee’s Republican-dominated state legislature for solutions. State lawmakers had plenty of options to address gun violence.

    Legislators, for example, could’ve taken steps to protect the public by considering a red flag law. Republican lawmakers also had the option of expanding background checks or advancing an assault weapons ban.

    A year later, the GOP majority in Nashville finally agreed to take action, though the measure Republicans advanced probably wasn’t what reformers had in mind in the wake of the deadly mass shooting. NBC News reported:

    Lawmakers in Tennessee passed a measure Tuesday that would allow school staff to carry concealed handguns on school grounds […] The Tennessee House cleared the legislation in a 68-28 vote. Four Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure. The state Senate, which is also controlled by the GOP, passed the measure earlier this month.

    […] A local report from The Tennessean added, “Armed teachers, who will be required to undergo training that some opponents have argued is not intensive enough, will be allowed to carry handguns in their classrooms and in most campus situations without informing parents and most of their colleagues they’re armed.”

    What could possibly go wrong.

    The entire effort is rooted in the idea that schools would be safer if educators — whom the right has a nasty habit of demonizing — carried firearms. The solution to children getting shot in schools, in other words, is to put more guns in schools.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it’s not your imagination. About six years ago, after a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Donald Trump pushed the idea of arming teachers, coaches, and principals, adding that this “could very well solve your problem.”

    As I noted in my first book (see chapter 8), the then-president was quite serious about this, insisting that “20% of teachers” are “adept” with firearms — a number he apparently made up — and would therefore be prepared to engage gunmen and neutralize them in the event of a school shooting.

    Trump added online, “ATTACKS WOULD END! … Problem solved.”

    This was dumb at the time. It’s no better now. Nevertheless, NBC News’ report concluded, “Tennessee isn’t the only state to approve legislation allowing teachers to carry guns. According to the Giffords Law Center, a gun violence prevention group, at least 26 states have laws permitting teachers or other school employees to possess guns on school grounds, with some exceptions.”

  100. says

    The Supreme Court is hearing another abortion case. What could go wrong?

    On Wednesday [today], the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case brought by the state of Idaho, which wants the nation’s highest court to rule that its abortion ban preempts federal law when it comes to emergency abortion care.

    The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, known as EMTALA, requires that hospitals receiving Medicare funding provide stabilizing care for all ER patients—including abortion care, even if it conflicts with a state’s own stricter abortion rules.

    Enter Idaho. That state’s draconian abortion ban was triggered the minute the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. The ban allows for an abortion when “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman,” but does not require emergency room doctors to provide stabilizing care. The Biden administration sued the state, saying the abortion ban violates EMTALA because its exceptions are too narrow to allow doctors to perform abortions if needed to stabilize a patient.

    Idaho’s doctors concur.

    Dr. Caitlin Gustafson explains in an op-ed for Time magazine:

    Idaho’s abortion ban makes it a crime for anyone to perform or assist with performing an abortion in nearly all circumstances. The ban does not even include an exception for when a person’s health is at risk—only for when a doctor determines that an abortion is necessary to prevent the pregnant person’s death. Ask any doctor and they’ll tell you that this “exception” leads to more questions than answers.

    Gustafson writes that in Idaho, “we’ve lost nearly a quarter of our obstetricians since the state’s abortion ban went into effect—colleagues and friends who got into medicine to help people are being forced out of practicing obstetrics in our state.” Doctors in Idaho have pleaded with the legislature for a health exception, both to save women and to keep OB-GYNs in the state, to no avail.

    It’s not just Idaho. Texas has sued the Biden administration, saying it’s using EMTALA as an end-run around state abortion bans to “mandate that every hospital and emergency-room physician perform abortions.” The administration did issue guidance in July 2022 to “remind hospitals of their existing obligation to comply with EMTALA … in light of new state laws prohibiting or restricting access to abortion.”

    That guidance hasn’t been enough to protect women in states with life-threatening abortion bans. That includes Florida, where friends Anya Cook and Shanae Smith-Cunningham both faced health emergencies during their pregnancies.

    “The doctor said … ‘if I intervene, I could possibly be arrested’ … Getting pregnant now feels like a death sentence,” Cook told The Washington Post. Smith-Cunningham needed an emergency abortion for a nonviable pregnancy, but her doctors refused to treat her, advising her to go to New York for the procedure.

    […] Nicole Blackmon of Tennessee was told her pregnancy wasn’t viable and was potentially fatal. She was forced to continue the pregnancy due to Tennessee’s abortion ban.

    “I was condemned to endure both physical and emotional torture, knowing that I was going to deliver a stillborn. How can Tennessee politicians stand by while this happens to people like me?”

    Kelsie Norris-De La Cruz was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy that started to rupture after one Texas hospital turned her away.

    “I was scared I was going to … lose my entire reproductive system if they waited too long,” she told The Washington Post.

    Another woman in Texas miscarried in an ER lobby restroom after being refused treatment. And a North Carolina woman gave birth in a car, after she was refused treatment in the ER. Her baby later died.

    There’s real jeopardy here: The lives of women and babies are clearly at stake. In a bad omen, the Supreme Court may have already tipped its hand in the case, as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick explains.

    “When a federal district court ruled in 2022 that Idaho’s abortion ban cannot trump EMTALA if a pregnant patient has a medical emergency that requires an abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and put that order on hold,” Lithwick reported.

  101. Reginald Selkirk says

    DARPA’s New 12-Ton Robot Tank Has Glowing Green Eyes for Some Reason

    DARPA announced successful tests of its new autonomous vehicles on Wednesday, all part of the agency’s Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program. And while the tests sound impressive, we found ourselves transfixed by one little visual detail: The 12-ton tank’s glowing green eyes.

    The RACER Heavy Platform (RHP) vehicles are enormous, weighing in at 12 tons and measuring 20 feet long. The vehicles are programmed using the Textron M5 base system, already used in many driverless vehicles by the U.S. Army, and are meant to complement the RACER Fleet Vehicles (RFVs) which are comparatively small at just 2 tons and 11 feet long.

    The vehicle tests, aided by teams from the University of Washington and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, happened at military training sites in Texas back in late 2023, but are just being announced by DARPA today…

  102. says

    Donald Trump continues to beg congressional Republicans to rescue him from his prosecutions. Whether he understands this or not, they can’t help him.

    At around 2 a.m. local time, Donald Trump published another item about his ongoing criminal trail to his social media platform, and while most of it was conspiratorial nonsense, there was one small detail in the former president’s message that stood out. The conservative Washington Times reported:

    Former President Donald Trump pleaded Wednesday with congressional Republicans to thwart the criminal trials he is facing while he campaigns against President Biden. Mr. Trump, posting on Truth Social, said the cases “must be stopped” for the “good of the country.” “The Crooked Joe Biden Witch Hunts have to be ended. REPUBLICANS IN WASHINGTON MUST TAKE ACTION!” he posted.

    For the record, there’s literally no evidence of President Joe Biden being “crooked” or having anything whatsoever to do with his predecessor’s prosecutions. But of greater interest is Trump’s apparently belief that congressional Republicans can somehow intervene and rescue him from his criminal troubles.

    They can’t — though the suspected felon may not fully understand that.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because the presumptive GOP nominee has made similar appeals before. […] a year ago this week, when the former president’s lawyers sent a strange, 10-page letter to the House Intelligence Committee, insisting that the panel approve a “legislative solution” to prevent federal prosecutors from pursuing a case against him.

    The letter proposed that the Justice Department “should be ordered to stand down” — as if members of the legislative branch have the authority to direct federal prosecutors to drop a case. (They have no such authority.)

    A month later, Trump reiterated the point, publishing an online tantrum in which he argued that Congress should “demand” that prosecutors “stop the Witch Hunt against ‘TRUMP.’” (I still don’t know why he referred to himself in third person and put his name in quotes.)

    A month after that, as another criminal indictment neared, the former president again looked to Capitol Hill for some kind of rescue. “REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS MUST MAKE THIS THEIR # 1 ISSUE!!!” Trump wrote.

    A month after that, he again begged GOP lawmakers to “stop” prosecutors’ cases in order to “save our country.”

    Two months after that, Trump appeared at a rally and said congressional Republicans “cannot let” his prosecutions continue.

    As of this morning, he’s still at it, demanding that GOP lawmakers “take action” on his behalf. […] Congress has no real options: Members have no control over who is or isn’t indicted, and lawmakers can’t simply choose to insert themselves in active criminal investigations.

    […] Feeling desperate, the criminal defendant isn’t just looking to Capitol Hill for a rescue. Trump also suggested around 2 a.m. this morning that unspecified “Appellate Courts have to take over his case,” apparently because he says so. This comes months after he demanded that the U.S. Supreme Court “intercede” in his cases.

    Trump appears to believe he’ll be absolved of his legal troubles if he can simply beg the right person to make the cases disappear. As his defense attorneys have probably tried to explain to him, that’s not how any of this works.

  103. tomh says

    Re: #137 Alito led the charge supporting the Idaho law. Hard to listen to.

    WaPo:
    Conservative justices skeptical federal law requires emergency abortion care
    By Ann Marimow

    A divided Supreme Court seemed skeptical Wednesday that federal law can require hospitals to provide emergency abortion care in states with strict bans on the procedure, in the latest legal battle over access to abortion since the high court overturned Roe v. Wade nearly two years ago.

    Throughout two hours of argument, only the court’s three liberal justices strongly backed the Biden administration’s view that a 40-year-old emergency-care law preempts Idaho’s strict ban, which imposes penalties of up to five years in prison on doctors who perform the procedure, with an exception when “necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant woman.”

    The liberal justices repeatedly raised detailed, harrowing examples of women facing health emergencies short of death, including infertility and kidney failure, and said pregnant women in Idaho were being forced out of state for emergency abortion care in violation of federal law.

    Conservative justices, who make up the majority of the court, pushed back on the Biden administration’s interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, and suggested that the federal government cannot force private hospitals that receive federal funds to violate a state’s law.

    “How can you impose restrictions on what Idaho can criminalize?” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked the solicitor general.

  104. says

    Reginald @139, thanks for that reminder of how teachers bringing guns to school can go badly … oh, so wrong.

    Followup to comment 137. Excerpts from live coverage of the Supreme Court hearings regarding that anti-abortion law in Idaho:

    This Case Should Be Easy, Federal laws supersede state ones. The law here — The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) — is very clear: hospitals must stabilize patients who come into their emergency rooms in distress. That is more specific than Idaho’s ban, which only requires doctors to step in to prevent the pregnant woman’s death.

    That the Supreme Court interceded and let the ban go back into effect, and that abortion rights groups are extremely worried about today’s proceedings, reminds us how radical this Court is on abortion.

    Hospitals in Idaho, terrified of the extremely steep consequences of violating the abortion ban, have been shipping out women in crisis across state lines for treatment.

    St. Luke’s, the biggest hospital system in Idaho, wrote in an amicus brief that transferring patients is sometimes too dangerous, depending on what condition they’re in. And “if those delays create a situation where the patient is no longer stable enough” to be transferred, Idaho physicians must “wait until termination is necessary to prevent the patient’s death, knowing that the wait could have severe health consequences,” the brief said.

    Doctors have to wait and watch women suffer, writhe in pain, risk permanent damage to their organs, possibly end their chances of having children in the future, knowing that there is standard medical practice they cannot use that could avoid all of it.

    Who We’ll Hear From Today
    Up first, for Idaho et al: Joshua Turner
    For the government: Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar
    Then Turner again for rebuttal.

    Jackson, Kagan Drive At EMTALA’s Purpose: Making States Do What They Don’t Want To, Jackson, assisted by Kagan, are pointing out that EMTALA’s initial purpose was to force states to provide care to patients who can’t pay.

    States can say “we don’t want whatever treatment, we only want certain kinds of treatment — EMTALA says no,” Jackson says.

    Sotomayor Uses Diabetes Hypothetical To Show Idaho Putting Preemption ‘On Its Head’, No state can say that you can only treat diabetes with pills, she says. Similarly, Idaho law cannot stop a doctor from treating a woman who may be at risk of “blindness,” “loss of major organs” or “strokes” from a pregnancy emergency when there is a medical standard for treating that condition.

    Sotomayor: Obvious Conclusion Is That If State Bans Abortion Completely, ERs Have To Let Women Die

    Turner flailed that no states currently do.

    In Break Of Usual Court Decorum, Roberts Interrupts To Force Sotomayor To Let Idaho Lawyer Respond

    Sotomayor, Palpably Angry, Reads Out Details Of Women Turned Away From ERs, The first was a woman in Florida who was turned away until she started bleeding out.

    Barrett: ‘I’m Kind Of Shocked’, She said that she thought the situations Sotomayor was reading out were covered; she accuses Turner of “hedging.” [Why doesn’t Barrett know the facts? Why is she ignorant?]

    Alito Jumps In To Bail Turner Out, He gripes that even an “expert” doctor wouldn’t know what to do in these hypotheticals when forced to provide an answer quickly. (I guess a crisis situation presenting at the emergency room somehow gives doctors more time? This is a lame argument.)

    Sotomayor: Congress, Lower Courts, Medical Experts All Agree Abortion Is Necessary Medical Care

    “This is not a post-Dobbs unprecedented position by the government,” she says.

    Gorsuch Tries To Do Some Anti-Abortion PR, He’s asking some leading questions about how Idaho says nothing about the “immediacy” of death — eg, you could treat women at any time before they die under the ban.

    Right-Wing Justices: This Isn’t So Bad, Women Won’t Suffer

    This is the theme from the right of the bench: Despite situations that have already happened, there are no situations where women who need abortions in Idaho won’t get them. So no worries!

    Barrett Joins The Fantasy: There Is No Daylight Between Idaho Ban And EMTALA

    Jackson: Are You Really Saying That Following EMTALA Is Protected Under Idaho Law?

    She’s undercutting the conservative argument. Of course, this is not actually Idaho’s position.

    Turner Tiptoeing Up To Lying Here, It’s a much more palatable argument to say that there are no cases that fall in the gap between the Idaho ban and EMTALA. That’s what the conservatives are desperate to hear. Based on the women in crisis being transferred out of state, it’s just not true.

    Prelogar: One Hospital System In Idaho Transferring Out Pregnant Women In Crisis Once Every Other Week

    EMTALA does not “countenance” that, she said.

    Just saying: Prelogar is so, so good. Her case recall is nuts. Justice Thomas loves stumping lawyers by asking for specific cases.

    Prelogar Trounces Alito’s Spending Clause Argument, If hospitals are bound by state law and not federal restrictions, Prelogar says, hospitals should be cut off from Medicare funding altogether. But Idaho wants it both ways: Medicare funding, but not having to follow federal guidelines, she says.

    Alito Tries To ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Fearmonger [OMFG]

    Prelogar points out that in those conditions, the fetus can almost never survive.

    Alito Now Trying To Rile Up Concern That Women Could Get ER Abortions By Claiming Mental Health Crisis [Alito is an ass]

    Anti-abortion activists love this talking point.

    Prelogar says the treatment would be about stabilizing the mental crisis, not providing an abortion.

    Roberts Probing Conscience Protections, Prelogar now gaming out situation where everyone in the ER has a conscience objection.

    Gorsuch Confirms That Congress Could Ban Abortion Nationwide.He could be shoring up this point to stow in his back pocket for a potentially dark future.

    Jackson Serves Up To Prelogar: Is There Really No Daylight Between Idaho Ban And EMTALA? That is “gravely mistaken,” Prelogar says. She adds that doctors have to “close their eyes” to everything short of death under Idaho’s ban.

    Alito: Doesn’t Use Of Anti-Abortion Phrase ‘Unborn Child’ Tell Us Something? Fox News fan Alito has arrived.

    Alito Going Full Activist: Hospital Has Responsibility To Both Pregnant Woman And ‘Child’ Prelogar sounds the most stern she has so far, arguing that the statute did not displace the woman from the care requirements. Alito is getting silly, pointing out that the esteemed Ronald Reagan signed EMTALA initially. As my editor John Light points out, Prelogar was clearly prepared for Alito to go there (and some of the briefs make much of the “unborn child” provisions). He angrily ended his questioning by spitting that “no one” is saying the woman isn’t an individual under the statute.

    Kagan: If Idaho’s Ban Is So Risk-Free For Doctors, Why Are They Airlifting Women To Other Hospitals? The system with the best ER resources — St. Luke’s — has airlifted out six women since the ban came down. In the prior year, it airlifted out one, Kagan says.

    Kagan Prompts Prelogar To Make Slippery Slope Argument About States Not Having To Comply With Federal Funding Standards, That would let states refuse to comply with a whole host of federal requirements attached to spending programs that they’d prefer to ignore.

    Prelogar Points Out Weak Point In Idaho Argument, The Idaho Supreme Court was explicit about the bans getting more strict — the state superseded old bans with the new one that has fewer exceptions. It makes Turner’s feigning broad allowances in the current ban trickier to believe.

    That’s A Wrap, As I said at the beginning, this is just an easy case. The DOJ clearly has the stronger argument. And, as always with this Court, it probably won’t matter.

  105. says

    Followup to tomh @141, and me @142.

    97% of voters know nothing about the Supreme Court’s new abortion case

    shows that 97% of likely voters know very little about the 40-year-old federal law that lies at the heart of the legal battle—the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

    Often referred to as EMTALA, the law requires federally funded hospitals to provide emergency room patients with lifesaving abortion care if it’s needed to stabilize a health emergency. As Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter points out, hospitals receiving Medicare funds must provide that care “even if it conflicts with a state’s own stricter abortion rules.”

    The Biden administration sued the state of Idaho in August 2022 for violating the federal law. […]

    Dr. Lauren Miller, a maternal fetal medicine specialist who used to practice in Idaho, explained to CBS News the impossible predicament doctors face under the state’s abortion ban.

    “If you act too soon, you’re a felon, and if you act too late, the patient could die or be permanently injured,” said Miller, who moved to Colorado to practice medicine due to the burdens of the ban.

    […] concerning EMTALA: Never call it EMTALA […] Skip the acronym and describe what the federal law does—it guarantees lifesaving medical care.

    […] The survey also found the top arguments to uphold EMTALA centered on guaranteeing lifesaving care. All of the following statements garnered support from 80% or more of respondents.
    – This law guarantees that in a medical emergency, doctors can provide the care their patients need.
    – This law guarantees that in a medical emergency, patients receive care they need to survive.
    – This law requires that in a medical emergency, hospitals provide all patients with the stabilizing medical care they need.
    – This law guarantees that in a medical emergency, doctors have every tool at their disposal to save their patients’ life.

    Given the information deficit surrounding EMTALA, the memo highlights “a clear opportunity” to inform and educate voters in advance of yet another Supreme Court decision […]

  106. Reginald Selkirk says

    @141:

    “How can you impose restrictions on what Idaho can criminalize?” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked the solicitor general.

    What? I thought it was routine for federal statutes to preempt state laws.

  107. Reginald Selkirk says

    War in Ukraine: US to send new aid right away, Biden says

    US President Joe Biden has signed a $95bn (£76bn) package of aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

    “It’s going to make America safer, it’s going to make the world safer,” he said after signing the bill into law.

    The president said the US would “right away” send fresh weapons and equipment to Ukraine to help Kyiv fend off Russian advances.

    He spoke a day after the US Senate approved the aid package following months of congressional gridlock…

  108. says

    Followup to Reginald @147, and to other up-thread comments about the abortion case now before the Supreme Court.

    Prolapsed umbilical cord. Septic shock. Ruptured amniotic sac. Hysterectomy.

    These, the gruesome reality of pregnancy loss, are not words we often hear during Supreme Court oral arguments, buttoned-up proceedings where the justices prefer theory and abstraction to blood and organs.

    On Wednesday, the right-wing justices really preferred the safe world of legal abstraction, where they could pretend that Idaho’s abortion ban — which only has an exception to save the woman’s life — won’t inevitably leave women to gruesome suffering.

    The Court’s conservative wing tried with increasing and atextual persistence to convince listeners that Idaho’s strict ban still allows emergency room doctors to provide abortions to women in varying states of medical distress, and not just when doctors are sure the patient is facing death. They crafted a kind of anti-abortion fantasyland where not only do exceptions work, but that the narrowest ones will amenably stretch to cover all the sympathetic cases.

    They pushed this vision, even while hospital systems in Idaho attest that they are airlifting pregnant women in crisis across state lines, or waiting for them to painfully “deteriorate” before treatment, cowed by the fact that prosecutors could come after them with punishments including mandatory prison time for violating the state ban.

    At the center of the case Wednesday was a federal statute requiring hospitals taking in Medicare funds to stabilize patients in crisis: the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Idaho’s strict band should be preempted by that law in those emergency conditions, the Biden administration argued.

    “Is there any condition you’re aware of where the solicitor general says EMTALA requires abortion be available in an emergency circumstance where Idaho law, as currently stated, does not?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh lobbed to Idaho’s lawyer Joshua Turner, trying to prompt him to say that Idaho’s ban can coexist with federal mandates.

    After trying to prod the struggling Turner to repeat the argument back, Kavanaugh got frustrated.

    “You’re the one who said it in your reply brief, that there’s actually no real daylight here in terms of the conditions, so I’m just picking up on what you all said,” he grumbled, rhetorically throwing up his hands.

    Justice Amy Coney Barrett heroically tried to salvage the effort, asking Turner: “What’s the conflict?”

    “Why are you here?” she pressed.

    […] Not under imminent threat of death, the woman went home, Sotomayor said. The next day, she started bleeding and passed out. She was brought back to the emergency room where she’d been turned away.

    “There she received an abortion because she was about to die,” she said.

    Sotomayor and Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar peppered the arguments with similar, real anecdotes, leaving the conservatives to squirm and sigh with palpable and growing anger.

    […] Alito, himself exceedingly fond of backing lawyers into corners with difficult hypotheticals, whined that Turner was being given an impossible task.

    “You have been presented here today with very quick summaries of cases and asked to provide a snap judgment about what would be appropriate,” he said.

    “Would you agree with me that if a medical doctor who is an expert in this field were asked bang, bang, bang, what would you do in these particular circumstances which I am now going to enumerate, the doctor would say: ‘This is not how I practice medicine, I have to know a lot more about the individual case?’” he added with an air of incredulity.

    […] Abortion restrictions have always hurt everyone who can get pregnant, including women desperate to carry their pregnancies to term […]

    “Leave it to the states” is the kind of messaging anti-abortion activists and their judicial helpmates love: It sounds clean, neat, reasonable. But when states enact near-total bans, when the federal government somehow loses its authority to block those bans even when they threaten women with serious illness — as Idaho is pushing for here — the reality for all to see is women bleeding out in emergency rooms, pregnant women loaded onto helicopters, doctors sitting back and watching patients writhe in pain until death is closer.

    […] fresh proof that women’s suffering again bows to the furtherance of the mission to ban abortion everywhere.

    Link

  109. says

    History’s most pro-union president delivers 2 more big wins for workers

    The Federal Trade Commission issued a new rule Tuesday imposing a nationwide ban on noncompete agreements that prevent employees from quitting their jobs and going to work for “competitor” companies. The rule doesn’t go into full effect for 120 days, but existing noncompetes are now unenforceable for most workers.

    Also on Tuesday, the Department of Labor issued a new rule requiring mandatory overtime pay for an estimated 4 million salaried workers. Employees earning under $58,700 a year will now collect overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week.

    Both rule changes illustrate how the Biden administration is constantly standing up for workers’ rights in ways that improve their ability to seek the best position and be fairly compensated for their labor. They also show why President Joe Biden is gathering support among unions while becoming the target of attack by business organizations.

    As CBS reports, FTC commissioners voted along party lines in passing the ban on noncompete agreements, with both Republican commissioners attempting to block the change. Almost immediately, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce declared that it would sue to block the implementation of the rule. The business advocacy group claims that losing noncompete agreements would “undermine American businesses’ ability to remain competitive.”

    Noncompetes are an important tool to businesses, but only in the sense that they allow businesses to lock workers in without having to compete to secure their skills. Under a noncompete agreement, workers either stay trapped in a job or face having to abandon whole industries if they want to move. For many workers, that can make changing jobs next to impossible.

    These agreements allow companies to keep workers trapped with stagnant pay and meager benefits, so of course the Chamber of Commerce desperately wants to keep them.

    […] On Wednesday, Biden lined up another big labor endorsement when North America’s Building Trades Union signed on. NABTU President Sean McGarvey praised Biden and issued a warning about his opponent. […]

  110. says

    The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

    After 15 months of trying to pull a Biden family crime spree out of thin air, lead impeachment zealot James Comer has watched his dreams of MAGA glory crumble into dust. Comer, the House Oversight Committee chair, told a Republican colleague that he’s ready to be “done with” the whole fiasco, according to CNN.

    “Comer is hoping Jesus comes so he can get out. He is fed up,” another GOP lawmaker said.

    […] The effort by Comer and co-zealot Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee, to find dirt on President Joe Biden and his son Hunter has ended up with the two coated in mud. It’s become so pathetic that even Sean Hannity has stopped propping it up.

    […] a full year ago, even Comer had to admit that there wasn’t any evidence of Biden crimes. But that didn’t stop him and Jordan from plowing on and making it all more ridiculous. They brought in IRS whistleblowers who produced nothing but hot air. The biggest news story to come out of that hearing was extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s porn stunt, displaying nude photos of Hunter Biden—not the usual C-SPAN fare.

    […] then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy decided he’d try to save his own bacon by making the impeachment effort official. (The extent to which that didn’t work is a whole other story.) The first official hearing proved to be another complete farce.

    “Through the course of the day, not only did Republicans showcase their lack of interest in facts, they also demonstrated that they are absolutely terrified of anything that looks like a fact witness,” Daily Kos’ Mark Sumner wrote.

    […] They were played by Hunter Biden when he showed up to testify on camera despite their efforts to do it in secret. Comer still plowed on with the hearings only to be embarrassed again in the infamous Russian mole and sawdust debacle. He then tried moving the goalposts, suggesting that impeachment wasn’t their goal after all. Rather, they were gathering evidence for future prosecutions in a would-be Trump administration, Comer claimed.

    That was after they tried to pivot the story to a classified documents scandal, featuring a report on Biden’s old age, which was another total flop. They even tried to impeach a Cabinet secretary in another debasing disaster for Republicans.

    All of which has served primarily to turn extremist Republicans against Comer for not working hard enough at impeaching Biden.

    […] All Comer has gotten out of this is the animosity of colleagues and showing himself to be a fool in front of a national audience. Oh, and the unearthing of a few of his own little scandals. […]

  111. says

    Followup to comment 150.

    Raskin [Democratic Oversight Committee ranking member Jamie Raskin] posited, “You have not identified a single crime. What is the crime that you want to impeach Joe Biden for and keep this nonsense going?”

    “You’re about to find out very soon,” Comer [Republican House Oversight Committee chair] replied.

  112. says

    Finally. Arizona state House passes a bill to repeal 1864 abortion ban

    The issue now moves to the state Senate, which is also expected to vote to repeal the near-total ban the Arizona Supreme Court upheld earlier this month.

    On their third attempt in three weeks, Arizona state House lawmakers voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would repeal the near-total ban on abortion from 1864 that was upheld by the battleground state’s Supreme Court earlier this month.

    After a dizzying course of votes throughout the afternoon, three state House Republicans joined Democrats in approving a repeal of the Civil War-era law that made abortion a felony punishable by two to five years in prison for anyone who performs one or helps a woman obtain one.

    […] The state Senate could vote on the repeal as early as next Wednesday, after the bill comes on the floor for a “third reading,” as is required under chamber rules.

    The state Senate is likely to pass a repeal of the law, a source in Arizona familiar with the situation told NBC News. Once that happens, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs is certain to sign the repeal quickly.

    Abortion rights supporters and Democrats — all the way up to the White House — praised Arizona lawmakers for their passage of the repeal. […]

    “It breaks my heart that you’re here to witness this,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham, before casting a “no” vote. “I’m proud of my Republican caucus that has fought this off as long as it has,” added Grantham, who accused Democrats of having used the issue as a political cudgel.

    “To see how this has been turned against one party and used as a weaponization of the issue is disgusting,” he said. At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Grantham said the vote was an “awful, disgusting situation” and stripped Gress, as well as Democratic Assistant Minority Leader Oscar De Los Santos, of their committee assignments. [LOL, vengeance from the Republican dunderheads] […]

    Republican dunderheads are now looking for ways to defeat organizers who are likely to succeed in placing a constitutional amendment on Arizona’s November ballot. That amendment would create a “fundamental right” to receive abortion care up to about the 24th week of pregnancy.

  113. Reginald Selkirk says

    New Hampshire’s GOP Is Taking a Stand—Against the Polio Vaccine

    New Hampshire could soon beat Florida—known for its anti-vaccine Surgeon General—when it comes to loosening vaccine requirements. A first-in-the-nation bill that’s already passed New Hampshire’s state House, sponsored only by Republican legislators, would end the requirement for parents enrolling kids in child care to provide documentation of polio and measles vaccination. New Hampshire would be the only state in the US to have such a law, although many states allow religious exemptions to vaccine requirements.

    Currently, Republicans control New Hampshire’s state House, Senate and governor’s office—but that isn’t a guarantee that the bill will be signed into law, with GOP Gov. Chris Sununu seemingly flip-flopping when it comes to disease control…

  114. says

    Followup to comment 153.

    Do not underestimate how truly extreme the Republican dunderheads in Arizona are:

    “Stop calling it archaic to ban abortions. It’s archaic to do abortions,” Rep. Barbara Parker, R-Mesa, said, adding that abortion is “murder.”

  115. says

    Followup to comment 150.

    Sean Hannity hasn’t mentioned the GOP impeachment probe on Fox in over a month

    Fox News host Sean Hannity, whose prime-time show long served as a clearinghouse for bogus smears of Hunter Biden and a promotional vehicle for House Republican efforts to impeach President Joe Biden over them, abruptly stopped talking about the impeachment inquiry last month after it became an unmitigated debacle for the party.

    Hannity last mentioned the Biden impeachment inquiry on his Fox show more than five weeks ago, according to a Media Matters review. “Forget about the impeachment inquiry side of it, looks like they’re moving now towards the criminal referral side of it,” he said on March 14, referencing a report about a planned GOP “exit strategy” from its probe.

    The Fox host and sometime Donald Trump adviser promptly took his own advice.

    Meanwhile, Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the top impeachment investigator who appeared on Hannity’s show dozens of times to talk about Hunter Biden in 2023, has not been on the program since March 12. Comer recently told a colleague he is “ready to be ‘done with’ the impeachment inquiry,” CNN reported Wednesday, as the probe “appears to be at a dead end, with Republicans resigned to the reality that they don’t have the votes to impeach the president.”

    No one worked harder to turn Biden’s son into a political liability than Hannity. He started talking about Hunter Biden as early as 2018, and teamed up with Rudy Giuliani and other Trump cronies to kneecap Joe Biden’s presidential bid via the disinformation campaign that Biden, as vice president, corruptly interfered with U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine to benefit his son’s business interests. Hannity maintained an obsessive focus on Hunter Biden after Joe Biden took office: In 2023 alone, his Fox show aired at least 325 segments about the president’s son, goading House Republicans to launch an impeachment probe over the allegations in September.

    Hannity promised his viewers that Comer and his congressional allies had the goods. He and his regular guests claimed they had uncovered “potentially the biggest bribery, money laundering scandal in American history,” one in which Joe Biden had been “very credibly accused of public corruption on a scale this country has never seen before,” was “compromised” by foreign governments, and may have committed crimes including “bribery and treason” in “a blockbuster scandal that could doom Biden’s presidency.”

    […] Hannity remained the impeachment probe’s biggest public supporter well into this year. He touted the “mountain of evidence” congressional investigators were supposedly uncovering, carried water for their most dubious allegations, and hyped years-old, rewarmed claims as “bombshell testimony” and “an unmitigated disaster for team Biden.” He kept doing damage control for the inquiry even after Smirnov’s arrest, describing the informant’s story as “only one tiny piece of the case against what I call the Biden family and the Biden family syndicate.” […]

  116. says

    Britain sends a message to Trump: NATO is worth investing in.

    It began with a private dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

    U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s surprise visit to see Donald Trump at his Florida resort earlier this month was the start of a wider British effort to curry favor with the Republican U.S. presidential nominee.

    Cameron’s familiar Etonian drawl had been deployed by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak specifically to try to win Trump’s ear on the crucial issues of Ukraine and NATO.

    But it was Sunak’s big defense spending announcement in Poland on Tuesday — a display of military fiscal firepower over smooth-talking diplomacy — which Britain hopes will have made the greater impression.

    Sunak — in arguably his most consequential moment as prime minister — announced a £75 billion increase in defense spending over the next six years as he vowed to maintain Britain’s place as Europe’s largest military power.

    Trump […] has consistently suggested he could drag America away from NATO and leave Europe to defend Ukraine alone if Western allies fail to pull their weight.

    Speaking in Warsaw, Sunak said it was important to show the U.S. that Europe understands this is “not the moment for complacency,” in remarks clearly aimed at the former president.

    […] Standing alongside Sunak at an hour-long press conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg sent his own message to Trump.

    “A strong NATO is good for Europe, but a strong NATO is also good for the United States,” he said. “It is in the interest of the United States to keep NATO, and therefore I believe they will remain a staunch and loyal ally.”

    All eyes on Paris and Berlin

    Britain’s challenge to other Western European allies has now been laid down.

    Sunak and his ministers are pushing France, Germany and others to match the U.K. commitment to spend 2.5 percent of GDP on defense by 2030.

    France has significantly boosted defense spending since President Emmanuel Macron came to power in 2017, and Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu announced in February that France will reach NATO’s current target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense this year, earlier than previously forecast.

    For its part, Germany has transformed its defense spending since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and is also on track to meet the current 2 percent target this year for the first time since the end of the Cold War. […]

  117. says

    Associated Press:

    Russia on Wednesday vetoed a U.N. resolution sponsored by the United States and Japan calling on all nations to prevent a dangerous nuclear arms race in outer space. The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13 in favor, Russia opposed and China abstaining.

  118. says

    The Guardian:

    The Gateway Pundit, a rightwing website known for spreading election conspiracies, will declare bankruptcy as it faces lawsuits for defamation.

  119. Reginald Selkirk says

    US Rep. Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, has died at 65 after a heart attack

    U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., a New Jersey Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who replaced his father in the seat, died Wednesday after a heart attack this month that left him hospitalized, officials said. He was 65…

    Murphy’s office declined to comment Wednesday on the governor’s plans to order a special election to fill the rest of Payne’s current term, which ends Jan. 3, 2025.

    Payne already filed paperwork by the March deadline to run for reelection and is to appear uncontested on the June 4 primary ballot. Should he remain on the primary ballot and win the nomination, Democratic Party committee members in his district could choose a replacement candidate to run in the November general election.

    The district is likely to remain in Democratic hands, with registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans there more than 6 to 1…

  120. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Meadows, Giuliani and other Trump allies charged in Arizona 2020 election probe
    By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez / April 24, 2024

    PHOENIX — An Arizona grand jury on Wednesday indicted seven attorneys and aides affiliated with Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign as well as 11 Arizona Republicans on felony charges related to their alleged efforts to subvert Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, according to an announcement by the state attorney general.

    Those indicted include former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman and Christina Bobb, top campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn and former campaign aide Mike Roman. They are accused of allegedly aiding an unsuccessful strategy to award the state’s electoral votes to Trump instead of Biden after the 2020 election. Also charged are the Republicans who signed paperwork on Dec. 14, 2020, that falsely purported Trump was the rightful winner, including former state party chair Kelli Ward, state Sens. Jake Hoffman and Anthony Kern, and Tyler Bowyer, a GOP national committeeman and chief operating officer of Turning Point Action, the campaign arm of the pro-Trump conservative group Turning Point USA.

    Trump was not charged, but he is described in the indictment as an unindicted co-conspirator.

    The indictments cap a year-long investigation by Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) into how the elector strategy played out in Arizona, which Biden won by 10,457 votes. Arizona is the fourth state after Michigan, Georgia and Nevada to seek charges against those who formed an alternate slate of presidential electors…
    […]

    Unlike probes by state prosecutors in Michigan and Nevada, Mayes took a top-to-bottom approach with her investigation. Similar to prosecutors in the Atlanta area, Mayes targeted not just local conservatives who carried out the plan in Phoenix, but also the out-of-state middlemen in Trump’s orbit who allegedly helped put it together. But unlike in Georgia, Mayes did not try to indict the former president.

    This is a second round of charges for Meadows, Giuliani, Ellis, Eastman and Roman, who were all indicted alongside Trump in Georgia last year. Ellis pleaded guilty in October to illegally conspiring to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia and has been cooperating with prosecutors. This is the first time Epshteyn — now a top 2024 campaign aide who frequently talks with the former president — has been charged for his alleged actions after the 2020 election.
    […]

    After the election, Giuliani and Ellis frequently traveled together as they worked to overturn Trump’s loss, state by state. Both attended a Nov. 30, 2020, event in downtown Phoenix attended by state GOP state and federal lawmakers, where they falsely claimed widespread fraud had marred the election. Then, Giuliani, Ellis and other Trump allies tried to convince then-Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers (R) to help overturn the results.

    Bowers, speaking in 2022 before the House committee, said he remembered Giuliani saying during that meeting, “We’ve got lots of theories — we just don’t have the evidence.”
    […]

    In early March, the probe began nearing an end, and the pro-Trump electors received subpoenas requesting their testimony before a grand jury. Many had been advised to invoke their Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions.

  121. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna, OM @ 157

    If a liar-for-money is no longer paid to talk about Hunter Biden he will stop as abruptly as when he and his ilk stopped mentioning the ‘convoy’ at the border the moment the 2018 midterms were over.

  122. Jim Balter says

    Very sad to hear about Dan Dennett’s death. Glad I was able to meet and talk to him on several occasions, still have quite a few of his books and articles I have not yet read.

  123. KG says

    In Scotland (but a prominent news item across the UK), the SNP First Minister, Humza Yousaf, has ended the “Bute House Agreement” (in effect, a coalition with more elbow room than usual for disagreement) with the Scottish Greens. We (the Scottish Greens – I’m a member), were planning an EGM to discuss ending it, because of SNP backsliding on climate and trans rights issues. Yousaf is shifting right, trying to shore up his position ahead of heavy expected losses in the UK general election this year* – possibly hoping to pick up votes from disillusioned Tories. I doubt it will save him – the right wing of the SNP, who have been demanding an end to the BHA, have now bent Yousaf to their will, and won’t stop until they have replaced him with one of their own. Which will be bad for Scotland, but quite likely good for the Greens in terms of SNP defections. Yousaf has also saved us from a potentially very divisive debate – I hadn’t decided which way to vote.

    *Or just possibly next – the last day it could legally be put off to is 28th January 2025.

  124. Reginald Selkirk says

    Vast DNA Tree of Life For Plants Revealed By Global Science Team

    An international team of scientists used 1.8 billion letters of genetic code from more than 9,500 species covering almost 8,000 known flowering plant genera to create the most up-to-date understanding of the flowering plant tree of life. The research has been published in the journal Nature. Phys.Org reports:

    The major milestone for plant science, led by [Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew] and involving 138 organizations internationally, was built on 15 times more data than any comparable studies of the flowering plant tree of life. Among the species sequenced for this study, more than 800 have never had their DNA sequenced before. The sheer amount of data unlocked by this research, which would take a single computer 18 years to process, is a huge stride towards building a tree of life for all 330,000 known species of flowering plants — a massive undertaking by Kew’s Tree of Life Initiative…

  125. Reginald Selkirk says

    Justice Clarence Thomas chooses not to recuse himself from another January 6-related case

    Amid calls for Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from a high-stakes case over whether Donald Trump has presidential immunity from criminal prosecution, the conservative jurist has made clear that he doesn’t plan to step aside – or even respond publicly to the appeals from Democrats and others.

    The justice’s critics are all citing past efforts by his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, to reverse the 2020 presidential election in Trump’s favor and her attendance at the rally Trump held on January 6, 2021, shortly before the US Capitol attack.

    Thus far, Thomas has given no sign that he intends to recuse himself from Trump v. US – or even explain his reasoning for remaining on the case, which the nine justices will hear arguments in on Thursday…

  126. Akira MacKenzie says

    @172

    Of course not! Why? Because The Process that Dems are so enamored and would rather let civilization die than violate has no practical mechanism to MAKE him recuse himself or PUNISH him for his obvious corruption.

    Our illustrious government and its nigh-holy constitution are nothing more than a suicide cult.

  127. Reginald Selkirk says

    Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction overturned

    Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction has been overturned by New York’s top court, on the basis that he did not receive a fair trial.

    The New York Court of Appeals found that prosecutors were allowed to call witnesses whose accusations were not part of the trial.

    The ruling said that meant he was tried on past behaviour and not solely on the crimes he was charged with.

    Weinstein, 72, will remain in prison for a separate conviction for rape.

    The New York court reached its decision on Thursday 4-3, stating:”Order reversed and a new trial ordered”. …

  128. StevoR says

    So. Today is Anzac Day.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

    Closest thing Australia has to an Aussie religious (ancestor worship) holiday really.

    Yassmin Abdel-Magied got cancelled hounded out of Australia from effectively blaspheming against it :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-31/yassmin-abdel-magied-says-drama-finds-me-/101112186

    Perhaps co-incidentally, myabe not so much today is the first time ive ever heard of this :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surafend_massacre

    Via an fb friend.

  129. StevoR says

    If you’ve experienced déjà vu hearing about the prospect of financial penalties for the platform formerly known as Twitter, it’s not your imagination. In June last year, Australians were told Musk’s company had 28 days to comply with a “please explain” notice about “a surge in online hate”, or face fines of almost $700,000 for every day it missed the deadline. In October, there were headlines stating that X had been fined more than $600,000 for failing to meet reporting requirements on combating Child Sexual Abuse Material. In reality, X has not paid any fines, because they’re still being challenged in court.

    In the Federal Court alone, X and the commissioner are currently fighting three separate legal battles. In short, the Online Safety Act – only a couple of years old and still being tested – does give the eSafety Commissioner the power to fine companies such as X.But it’s a long road, and one we are yet to see the end of.

    ..( Snip)..

    ..The most serious consequence, as far as X and the rest of the platforms are concerned, would be legislative change.

    The Opposition has so far signalled a new if conditional willingness to consider supporting Labor’s vexed misinformation bill, which is aimed at stamping out false and misleading content. There’s also bipartisan momentum behind strengthening the Online Safety Act, which is up for review this year.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-25/elon-musk-x-versus-australia-on-sydney-church-stabbing-video/103761694

    Musk fghts Aussie law and the law .. has’t yet won but still might.

    Long overdue govts asserted their legislative power over big corporate crooks -and, in this case, nazis -in my view.

  130. Reginald Selkirk says

    Edonia grabs €2M to turn microalgae into less bitter-tasting ground meat alternative

    As the world’s population continues to grow, the need to be able to feed everyone is something a number of entities are working on. Paris-based Edonia, is one of the startups working on creating protein ingredients using microalgae.

    Edonia joins companies like Bevel, AlgaeCore Technologies, Algenuity and NewFish that are all tapping into the global market for commercial algae expected to be valued at $25.4 billion by 2033.

    Now armed with €2 million ($2.1 million), the company is moving forward with producing plant-based ingredients from microalgae biomass generated from spirulina or chlorella that Valentin claims is more nutritious than meat, Edonia CEO Hugo Valentin told TechCrunch…

  131. Reginald Selkirk says

    Twerking vandals cause $25K in damage to Southern California business

    A San Gabriel Valley business is struggling after vandals broke into their parking lot, spent some time twerking atop their vehicles and caused thousands of dollars in damage over the weekend.

    The break-in at Pink Sponge Home Cleaning service in Glendora occurred in the early morning hours of April 20.

    Surveillance footage on the rooftop parking lot showed at least three teens wreaking havoc, one who was blasting off a fire extinguisher and another two who were twerking on the hood of one of the company’s 25 bright pink fleet of Volkswagen Bugs.

    “They kicked in every headlight they could,” Jennifer Ahlgrim with Pink Sponge Cleaning told KTLA’s Sandra Mitchell. “They pulled down the windows so hard, they broke the regulators. They carved on the hoods of cars.”

    The teens caused some $25,000 in damage on their rampage and left a giant mess…

  132. StevoR says

    @175. See also :

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1469137107683737605.html?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTAAAR3V0NTknEBr9tKrIhlUUaPS2W5otZi-EQgl9Q73mZSJtQhT3OvKdxG2F4g_aem_ATkrHxYtL7zrfFh8E4J928sjPREE8vsuwZrMIIYBL05KommjmztfqvhRBNGmdZYMUSPZzBzB0REFcXzas9vkJQ7y#google_vignette

    5/32 Members of Lowry’s Machine Gun Squadron, which had been serving alongside the Anzac Mounted Rifles, recruited NZers & Australians for a raid on the village. At seven o’clock that night about two hundred Anzacs entered Surafend. They carried bayonets & pick handles.

    6/32 The massacre took half an hour. Surafend’s old men, women, & children were held under guard in a field outside the village. They saw their homes burning, & heard their young men screaming & dying. ( Worse details snipped.. Another Bedouin camp destroyed too. -Ed) .. Six days after the massacre General Edmund Allenby, the overall commander of British Empire forces in the Middle East, ordered the Anzac Mounted Division to parade. He called them ‘cowards & murderers’. But no Anzac was ever brought to justice.

    … (Snip).. But Anzacs were guilt of the behaviour they condemned Arabs for.

    Source : https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1469137107683737605.html?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTAAAR3V0NTknEBr9tKrIhlUUaPS2W5otZi-EQgl9Q73mZSJtQhT3OvKdxG2F4g_aem_ATkrHxYtL7zrfFh8E4J928sjPREE8vsuwZrMIIYBL05KommjmztfqvhRBNGmdZYMUSPZzBzB0REFcXzas9vkJQ7y

    Fucking! Hell.

  133. Reginald Selkirk says

    School athletic director arrested for framing principal using AI voice synthesis

    On Thursday, Baltimore County Police arrested Pikesville High School’s former athletic director, Dazhon Darien, and charged him with using AI to impersonate Principal Eric Eiswert, according to a report by The Baltimore Banner. Police say Darien used AI voice synthesis software to simulate Eiswert’s voice, leading the public to believe the principal made racist and antisemitic comments.

    The audio clip, posted on a popular Instagram account, contained offensive remarks about “ungrateful Black kids” and their academic performance, as well as a threat to “join the other side” if the speaker received one more complaint from “one more Jew in this community.” The recording also mentioned names of staff members, including Darien’s nickname “DJ,” suggesting they should not have been hired or should be removed “one way or another.”

    The comments led to significant uproar from students, faculty, and the wider community, many of whom initially believed the principal had actually made the comments. A Pikesville High School teacher named Shaena Ravenell reportedly played a large role in disseminating the audio. While she has not been charged, police indicated that she forwarded the controversial email to a student known for their ability to quickly spread information through social media. This student then escalated the audio’s reach, which included sharing it with the media and the NAACP.

    Baltimore County Police say that Darien had accessed school networks to search for and utilize AI tools capable of voice imitation. Police also linked Darien to an email account used to distribute the fake recordings…

  134. StevoR says

    The Anzacs went through utter hell too as this anti-war classic Gallipoli Anzac story in song form tells it (7 and half mins) but that doesn’t justify what happened at Surafend and that Bedouin camp.

    Then came Flanders fields and the other apocalyptic trench warfare beyond nightmare battles that robbed us all of who knows what might have otherwise been..

    .***

    “But the band played Waltzing Matilda when we stopped to bury our slain. We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs then we started all over again.” – Eric Bogle song linked above.

  135. StevoR says

    But then our history of war crimes goes back to Breaker Morant and his superiors assigned rule 303 :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaker_Morant

    and the very Frontier Wars :

    https://www.newcastle.edu.au/newsroom/featured/new-evidence-reveals-aboriginal-massacres-committed-on-extensive-scale

    A traditon continuing to Ben Roberts Smith :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-01/ben-roberts-smith-war-crimes-established-in-federal-court/102422952

    and I fear and hoep not but probly beyond?

  136. says

    Donald Trump and his allies set out to convince the public his ongoing criminal trial is meritless. New polling suggests they’ve failed completely.

    In Republican circles, it’s a foregone conclusion that Donald Trump’s ongoing criminal trial in New York is a transparent partisan sham. It’s not unusual for the former president’s GOP allies to argue that “everyone knows” the case has no merit.

    But what Republicans tell themselves about public attitudes doesn’t exactly line up with public-opinion research on the matter.

    The latest national poll from Quinnipiac University, for example, asked respondents about the trial and the charges of falsifying business records, including a hush money payment to a porn star. A combined total of 60% of the public said they consider the charges either “very” or “somewhat” serious, though that probably wasn’t the result that raised eyebrows at Mar-a-Lago.

    Forty-six percent of voters believe former President Trump did something illegal, while 27 percent believe he did something unethical but nothing illegal, and 18 percent believe he did not do anything wrong. Voters were asked how it would impact their vote if Donald Trump were convicted in the New York City criminal trial. If Trump were convicted, 21 percent say they would be less likely to vote for him, 62 percent say it would not make a difference to their vote, and 15 percent say they would be more likely to vote for him.

    In other words, as Trump insists he did absolutely nothing wrong in this criminal case, only about a fifth of the public believes him.

    This is roughly consistent with the latest national survey from the Pew Research Center, the results of which were also released this week. It found that 45% of Americans believe that Trump’s actions were illegal, while an additional 15% see the Republican’s actions as wrong but not illegal. Only 23% agreed with the former president’s contention that he did not nothing wrong.

    This data comes on the heels of the latest national New York Times/Siena College poll, conducted shortly before the trial began in earnest, and which asked respondents, “Thinking about the investigations into Donald Trump, do you think that Donald Trump has or has not committed any serious federal crimes?”

    A 54% majority said the presumptive GOP nominee has committed serious crimes, while 37% said the opposite.

    […] To be sure, there are significant partisan differences in the results, and much of the Republican Party’s base has accepted the former president’s defenses at face value.

    But if Trump and his allies believe they’ve convinced the great American mainstream that he’s an innocent man who shouldn’t be on trial, there’s ample evidence to the contrary.

  137. Reginald Selkirk says

    US court sentences Chinese citizen to prison for threatening person who promoted democracy in China

    A Chinese citizen who threatened and harassed an individual who advocated for democracy in China has been sentenced to nine months in prison and three years of supervised release, the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced Wednesday.

    Xiaolei Wu, 26, who attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, was convicted in January of one count of cyberstalking and one count of interstate transmissions of threatening communication, prosecutors said.

    CNN has reached out to the Federal Public Defender Office in Massachusetts, which is representing Wu, for comment.

    Wu is no longer enrolled as a student at Berklee College of Music, the school told CNN Wednesday. He was previously suspended from the school after the incident in 2022.

    CNN previously reported that Wu allegedly sent threatening messages to a person who posted a flier on or near the college campus supporting Chinese democracy, according to the complaint…

  138. Reginald Selkirk says

    Deciphered Herculaneum papyrus reveals precise burial place of Plato

    Historical accounts vary about how the Greek philosopher Plato died: in bed while listening to a young woman playing the flute; at a wedding feast; or peacefully in his sleep. But the few surviving texts from that period indicate that the philosopher was buried somewhere in the garden of the Academy he founded in Athens. The garden was quite large, but archaeologists have now deciphered a charred ancient papyrus scroll recovered from the ruins of Herculaneum, indicating a more precise burial location: in a private area near a sacred shrine to the Muses, according to Constanza Millani, director of the Institute of Heritage Science at Italy’s National Research Council…

  139. Reginald Selkirk says

    FCC votes to restore net neutrality

    The Federal Communications Commission voted 3–2 to restore net neutrality rules, reversing a repeal ushered through during the Trump administration.

    Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) should not be able to discriminate against different kinds of content by blocking or throttling connection speeds or offering paid prioritization for different internet traffic. The FCC has sought to accomplish this by reclassifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act, giving the agency more regulatory authority over them…

  140. says

    Followup to tomh @163.

    Rudy Giuliani was already facing an avalanche of legal difficulties. A grand jury in Arizona managed to make the Republican’s troubles even worse.

    As a defamation trial brought by former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss advanced late last year, Rudy Giuliani’s attorney largely conceded that his client had gone too far. As part of the defense, however, the lawyer asked jurors to keep the damages to a minimum.

    A brutal verdict, the defense attorney said, would be “the end of Mr. Giuliani,” likening an eight-figure award to the “civil equivalent of the death penalty.”

    The pitch proved unpersuasive, and the jury awarded the plaintiffs more than $148 million total in damages, but the idea that this might represent “the end” now appears to have been wishful thinking — because the former New York City mayor’s troubles, even now, keep intensifying. As NBC News reported, Giuliani was among the 18 Republicans indicted in Arizona’s fake electors case.

    A state grand jury in Arizona on Wednesday indicted Trump aides including Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows and Boris Epshteyn, as well as so-called “fake electors” who backed then-President Donald Trump in 2020, after a sprawling investigation into the alleged efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election in the state.

    Let’s summarize where things stand.

    Giuliani has been indicted in Georgia. A Washington, D.C.-based bar discipline committee has concluded that Giuliani should be disbarred. He’s facing a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.

    Giuliani has also faced scrutiny from special counsel Jack Smith’s office, a lawsuit from Hunter Biden, groping allegations raised by Cassidy Hutchinson, a lawsuit from his former lawyers, and a lawsuit from his accountants.

    And did I mention that Giuliani filed for bankruptcy shortly before Christmas? Because that happened, too.

    As for the defamation verdict in the Freeman/Moss case, it was just last week when a federal court denied Giuliani’s motion to appeal the $148 million judgment. […]

  141. says

    […] the Biden administration is succeeding in methodically implementing an ambitious policy agenda, much of which is going to make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans.

    […] the incumbent president and his administration have been up to. The New York Times reported this morning:

    The Biden administration on Thursday placed the final cornerstone of its plan to tackle climate change: a regulation that would force the nation’s coal-fired power plants to virtually eliminate the planet-warming pollution that they release into the air or shut down. The regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency requires coal plants in the United States to reduce 90 percent of their greenhouse pollution by 2039, one year earlier than the agency had initially proposed.

    This comes the day after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made a big announcement of his own. NBC News reported:

    A federal rule announced Wednesday will require airlines to quickly give cash refunds — without lengthy arguments — to passengers whose flights have been canceled or seriously delayed, the Biden administration said. … The rule from the Transportation Department says passengers who decline other reimbursement like travel credits are to get cash refunds.

    This week, the Biden administration has also:
    – announced a major breakthrough on non-compete clauses;
    – made millions of American workers eligible for overtime pay;
    – unveiled a new rule cracking down on the kind of investment advice that advisors, brokers, and insurance agents can give to retirement savers;
    – made it easier for military spouses to work remotely;
    – announced $7 billion in federal grants for residential solar projects in low- and middle-income communities.

    Remember, not only are these worthwhile steps, they’re also a sampling of the kind of governing we’re seeing from the Biden administration over the last few days.

    […] Those looking for a list of meaningful and significant things the Democratic administration has done should settle in to review an exceedingly long catalog.

  142. says

    Trump Will Be Happy With Supreme Court Arguments On Immunity

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-supreme-court-immunity

    The Supreme Court conservatives seemed to solidify around a middle-ground position on Donald Trump’s claims of absolute presidential immunity Thursday, a win by another name for the former president as it would add months of delay to the Jan. 6 case.

    Trump raised the immunity question to void Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution stemming from the insurrection, arguing that he is entirely protected from criminal prosecution for acts he carried out as president.

    Both federal district and appellate courts soundly rejected that argument, finally sending it to the Supreme Court (over four months after Smith initially asked them to decide it).

    But the conservatives, and Chief Justice John Roberts in particular, sounded extremely skeptical of the D.C. Circuit’s opinion. They were specifically unhappy that the court found that since official acts do not get absolute immunity, there’s no need to sift through what Trump did around Jan. 6 to determine which acts were official and which were private.

    That line-drawing consumed much of Thursday’s proceeding, despite Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s repeated protestations that such an activity is only necessary if you assume Trump’s argument — that absolute immunity does attach to official acts — is correct.

    Justice Amy Coney Barrett most clearly charted the way forward, asking Trump lawyer John Sauer to divy up the charges in the indictment between what would count as an official act versus a private one. She later asked the Department of Justice’s Michael Dreeben how he’d prefer the Court to proceed, given his concerns about “speed”: to send the case back down to the district court to sort out which acts are official and which aren’t, or to drop the official acts and plug ahead in the trial with whatever Trump conduct remains.

    He chose the latter, likely the best Smith can hope for after Thursday’s showcase of the conservatives’ hostility to the government’s arguments.

    But he may not even get that. Many of the conservatives, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in particular, seemed eager to send the case back down. Such a move would amass months of delay, as whatever the district court decides would work its way back up the court system, all but guaranteeing that the trial on the merits wouldn’t end (and likely wouldn’t start) before the November election. If Trump wins, he’ll direct his Justice Department to drop the case.

    The conservatives throughout displayed much more concern about the threat of criminal prosecution chilling presidential conduct than they did the myriad dangers of a president unbound and free to ignore the law while in office. [All too true!]

    Justice Samuel Alito expressed incredulity that a president could be prosecuted for a “mistake,” for actions he took amid the morass of hard decision-making that falls on a president’s shoulders. He and Gorsuch danced a slippery slope two-step, fretting over self-pardons and presidents habitually going after their predecessors when they leave office. [Dunderheads! “Mistakes” aren’t prosecuted. You have to show intent.]

    […].

  143. says

    (Gets out of car to go buy something, politely tell a person that I’m already registered to vote)

    Security: were they bothering you?
    Me: not at all.

    (Goes into shop, hears security displaying territorial aggression about someone doing political work in the shopping center parking lot. Considers letting the guards know their paranoia about people registering to vote is unprofessional. Tells person registering about unreasonable paranoia of security including off duty police officers. They will inform their boss.)

    One of the guards even acted like they thought the person registering people had run off because they were scared of the guard talking to me. They had no idea about the guards. Now what else to do?
    I’m thinking a general complaint about unreasonable paranoia about people doing political work in the parking lot.

  144. says

    Followup to comment 195.

    What of a president “unbounded while in office, a president who knows that he does not have to ultimately follow the law because there is really nothing more than, say, political accountability in terms of impeachment”? [Jackson] asked.

    She cited amicus briefs raising the possibility that such an unshackled president could perjure himself under oath, force others to commit perjury and bribe witnesses, all without fear of later prosecution.

    “I see that as a concern that is at least equal to the president being so worried about criminal prosecution that he is a little bit limited in his ability to function,” she added.

  145. says

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

    Before jurors enter, Steinglass says that he’s filing another contempt motion — phrased as an order to show cause why Trump should not be held in contempt.

    Steinglass says that he’s submitting violations in the last three days.

    DA Outlines Four More Gag Order Violations

    They are:
    – Trump’s statement in the courthouse hallway on Monday criticizing Michael Cohen.
    – Later that night, Trump telling America’s Voice that the jury was “95 percent Democrat.”
    – Trump telling a Pennsylvania TV station that Michael Cohen is a “convicted liar and has no credibility whatsoever.”

    And without missing a beat, we’re back at the intersection of Trumpworld and the tabloid universe.

    Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is having Pecker run through the story of how he learned about the Karen McDougal affair allegation, and the decision to buy her silence.

    We’re getting some atmospherics here. Pecker recalls that Dylan Howard, an AMI editor, was helping on what was essentially an intelligence effort to learn of potentially damaging Trump allegations involving women.

    Howard relayed the allegation to Pecker in the following terms: she’s a former Playboy Playmate, a “twelve out of ten,” and had a “year-long sexual relationship with Donald Trump.”

    Pecker helped the prosecution just now by tying Trump more closely to the effort. He recalled a phone call he had with Trump about the decision.

    “Karen is a nice girl,” Pecker recalled Trump saying. “Is it true that a Mexican group is looking to buy the story for $8 million?”

    Pecker recalled telling Trump he thought it was a bluff, and then advised him to “buy the story and take it off the market.”

    For Pecker, all power and authority seems to flow from Trump. He may be dealing with Cohen as an individual, but it’s clear from his testimony that he understood all along that Trump was making the decisions, even if he was to be removed from the grimy details.When Trump said that McDougal was a “nice girl,” Pecker took the statement as evidence that Trump did, in fact, know her — contra Cohen’s denial.

    After Pecker agreed to buy McDougal’s silence, the question was then how AMI would be reimbursed for the $150,000 in hush money.

    Pecker says that he was skeptical, and told Cohen, “I just paid $30,000 for the doorman story. Now you’re asking me to pay $150,000 for the Karen story plus all of these other additional items she wants to do.”

    Cohen replied, per Pecker’s testimony: “Don’t worry about it. I’m your friend, the boss will take care of it.”

    Again, Pecker is relatively savvy. He tells Steinglass that he knew Cohen did not have the authority to “disburse” funds from the Trump Organization absent Trump’s approval.

    The Arnold Factor

    Pecker gave a long rambling anecdote about another, similar operation in which he was involved via the National Enquirer: the gubernatorial candidacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    It was a similar process: Pecker arranged catch-and-kill contracts for stories about Schwarzenegger as he became more deeply involved in politics. Steinglass asked Pecker whether he had “comet to appreciate the legalities surrounding such an arrangement with a political candidate.”

    Pecker said yes, that it made him “sensitive” to the legal issues involved, particularly those around campaign finance. That’s important for prosecutors, who need to show that Trump’s alleged business records violation was done in furtherance of a campaign finance violation in order for it to qualify as a felony.

    “Whenever we went out for lunch, I always paid,” he remarks.

    We’re now going through how the $150,000 was invoiced to AMI. Pecker says that it went through the office of the company president because it vastly exceeded the $10,000 allotted to editors to buy stories. That, in turn, helps establish that within AMI, it was incredibly clear what was going on: as Pecker said, they never had any illusion about paying for McDougal’s story. It was about buying her silence and thereby helping Trump.

    Pecker told Steinglass that AMI did not report the $150,000 payment as an in-kind contribution, and hammered a nail in the coffin by explaining the payment’s purpose: “We didn’t want the story to embarrass Mr. Trump or embarrass or hurt the campaign.”

    The point is that Trump just does not want to pay up, even when people who have been close to him for decades — as Pecker had — are putting themselves and their businesses at extensive risk for his benefit. This theme will become more important later once prosecutors get to the Cohen reimbursements. [In the live coverage there are more details concerning David Pecker’s efforts to get paid.]

    Pecker is testifying now about the Access Hollywood tape and its aftermath.

    It drives to a broader point: the Trump campaign was, all of a sudden, extremely sensitive to anything about Trump’s relations with women.

    First off, Pecker testifies that he didn’t want to pay Stormy Daniels because he was “not a bank.” AMI was done footing the bill. That starts to build a bridge to an important place: why Michael Cohen paid the hush money, and why Trump allegedly falsified business records to reimburse him.

    This also show how ridiculous it is that Trump continues to deny that the two had sex. Even people in his corner eight years ago immediately understood that the allegation was true.

    The way that Cohen and Pecker discuss Trump — “the boss” — is something akin to the God of the Old Testament. Vengeful, mercurial, but to be respected above all else. An ultimate power akin to the weather: all you can do is prepare, obey, and position yourself for the best outcome.

    It’s in these terms that Pecker broke the news to Cohen on a Signal call which included Dylan Howard that AMI would not be buying Stormy Daniels’ silence.

    Cohen initially replied with a mixture of incredulity and fury, per Pecker’s testimony: “The Boss will be furious,” Cohen said, per Pecker.

    “I’m not paying for the story,” he supposedly added, per Pecker’s tetsimony. “I didn’t want to be involved in this from the beginning. I’m not doing it.”

    Pecker invoked the wrath of The Boss to make the case, recalling that he told Cohen: “My suggestion to you is you should buy the story and you should take it off the market. Because if you don’t, and it gets out, I believe the boss would be very angry at you.”

    The McDougal Story Got Out Anyway

    The Wall Street Journal published an article on Nov. 4 — days before Election Day, 2016 — about the McDougal hush money arrangement.

    Pecker says that he spoke to Trump that day over the phone about the article. Trump, Pecker recalls, “was very upset, saying, ‘how could this happen? I thought you had this under control?’”

    Pecker just testified to the centerpiece of the case: that Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels hush money payments.

    Cohen complained to Pecker that he had paid Daniels “out of his own funds.”

    Pecker later met with Trump. There, he made sure to tell Trump that Cohen was “very concerned about his bonus for the year” and had “thrown himself under the bus for you” while being “very loyal.”

    Trump complained, but eventually replied: “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it.”

    This is very important. We have Pecker — so far a very credible witness — testifying to at least parts of the center of the case, albeit in coded language: that Trump agreed to reimburse Cohen.

    The problem with all this is that Trump himself and those around him all speak in double entendres and riddles. It’s coded language that’s intentionally imprecise, meant to be elusive while conveying clear messages in context, without critical pieces of knowledge ever having to have been said.

    Cohen, for example, asked Pecker to “talk to the boss on his behalf” about the lack of reimbursement around the Stormy Daniels hush money payment.

    But when Pecker approached Trump, he didn’t bring up Stormy Daniels directly, or reimbursement directly. Instead, he spoke of Michael Cohen’s “bonus,” and how Cohen had been “very loyal,” was “working hard,” and had “thrown himself under the bus for you.”

    Steinglass is homing in on that point in questioning Pecker. Did Trump ever express concern about what Melania would think of these affairs?

    “No,” Pecker replied.

    Was Trump’s concern about these stories primarily about the campaign, or his family life?

    “I thought it was for the campaign,” Pecker replied.

    Steinglass is bringing Pecker into 2017, specifically to a dinner that Trump invited Pecker to attend at the White House.

    We’re being shown a bizarre series of photos of Pecker at the White House, including a black-and-white photo of Pecker and Trump walking in the Rose Garden, taken from behind.

    Pecker testifies that during a photo op in the Oval Office, Trump invited him to walk alone to the White House dining area — a path which runs by the Rose Garden.

    “As we walked out, President Trump asked me, ‘how is Karen doing?’” Pecker recalled. “So I said, ‘she’s doing well, she’s quiet, everything is good.”

    The focus now is on efforts during the Trump administration to ensure that McDougal remained silent.

    Eventually, as Trump predicted, the news got out in a fuller form: Karen McDougal gave an interview to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

    Pecker recalls that Trump called him, saying “I thought we had an agreement with Karen McDougal.”

    What’s also very strange about Pecker’s testimony is that he is relating conversations he had with Trump while he was the President. He was the most powerful man in the country, but it was McDougal — and Daniels — keeping him up at night.

    Link

  146. says

    Followup to comment 198.

    AMI eventually received a subpoena in relation to an investigation into campaign finance violations.

    This spooked Pecker, but Cohen was unperturbed. After all, he told the National Enquirer publisher, Jeff Sessions was attorney general, and “Donald Trump has him in his pocket.”

    “I am very worried,” Pecker recalled telling Cohen in response.

    AMI eventually entered into a non-prosecution agreement with Manhattan federal prosecutors, and admitted to a campaign finance violation.

  147. Reginald Selkirk says

    @195, 197: The current president is Joe Biden. If the Supremes decide for presidential immunity, he could say “Thanks, suckers” and do to them things that I cannot describe on this blog.

  148. says

    Supreme Court Just Asking: If You Prosecute Presidents For Violent Coups, Won’t They Do More Violent Coups-er?

    Oh Sam Alito, you absolute piece of shit we mean scamp.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/supreme-court-just-asking-if-you

    Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of “Donald Trump may be ugly, but he’s Jesus, therefore you can’t hold him accountable for anything he does ever,” vs. “No.” Because the current Supreme Court is largely made up of unqualified partisan Republican hacks sitting in stolen seats, Trump’s lawyers didn’t get laughed out of the Court and sent down the stairs on their asses as dramatically as any patriotic American would have preferred.

    Before we look at any of the highlights, consider the scene, though: Trump was not present, because he was in criminal court in New York facing charges on falsifying business records to hide his illegal porn peener payoffs, in order that news of his mistresses might not have a deleterious effect on his 2016 campaign. In Arizona, all his pals were indicted last night for helping him try to steal the 2020 election, and there he is (so far) an unindicted co-conspirator. (Though that simply might be because the Arizona state AG wants to let the Trump felony traffic jam clear a bit before she throws new charges at him.)

    And before the Supreme Court, Trump’s lawyers continued to stare the law in the face and say that, as long as Trump is pretty sure he was doing OFFICIAL PRESIDENT DOODIES […] then it would have been fine for him to have political rivals assassinated. OFFICIALLY.

    […] the New York Times’s live updates say the “conservative majority seems ready to limit election case against Trump.”

    If the Court “limited” the case, would that make it go away? No, not necessarily, but it would likely get kicked back to lower courts to decide more precisely what Trump did to overthrow the Republic FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES and which things he did extra-presidentially.

    Really. And there would certainly be no trial before the election. […]

    That dipshit John Sauer, the one whom appeals court Judge Florence Pan so thoroughly embarrassed when she asked him if it would be fine for a president to order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival, was the one showing his ass today, naturally:

    [Sauer] pressed an extreme version of the former president’s argument. In answer to hypothetical questions, he said that presidential orders to murder political rivals or stage a coup could well be subject to immunity.

    Cool. […] “We’re writing a rule for the ages,” said Neil Gorsuch. “This case has huge implications for the presidency, for the future of the presidency, for the future of the country,” said Boofs O’Kavanaugh.

    […] the Times says Kavanaugh seems likely to be in favor of immunity for official acts. (Also he and Alito spent quite a bit of time arguing that the main fraud statute Special Counsel Jack Smith charged Trump under is TOO VAGUE to even apply to former presidents. That was not even part of what today was supposed to be about. Casting a wide net to tickle Trump’s sack, boys!)

    Limp-brained, airheaded fascist Sam Alito was obviously cool with Team Trump’s arguments:

    “A stable, democratic society requires that a candidate who loses an election, even a close one, even a hotly contested one, leave office peacefully,” he said, adding that the prospect of criminal prosecution would make that less likely.

    “Will that not lead us into a cycle that destabilizes the functioning of our country as a democracy?” he asked.

    Literally, he was asking if it would destabilize the country to NOT rule for Trump, and suggesting we need to give presidents permanent immunity just in case they’re scared they’ll be prosecuted for, say, trying to steal an election they lost and thereby overthrow democracy.

    Meanwhile, Michael Dreeben, arguing for the government, for sanity, and for decency:

    [Dreeben] said executive immunity would license a president to commit “bribery, treason, sedition, murder” and, as in Mr. Trump’s case “conspiring to use fraud to overturn the results of an election and perpetuate himself in power.” He added, “The framers knew too well the dangers of a king who could do no wrong.”

    The Times summary notes that some justices wanted to know whether a president’s motive would matter — are they doing something that could be construed as an official act, but for corrupt purposes? And will all presidents now prosecute their immediate predecessors, like serial criminal Trump is always [complaining] about on Truth Social? As if this is somehow new, the idea that a president could be prosecuted for what Trump did. Hell, Mitch McConnell assured us they could, when he explained why the Senate wouldn’t be convicting Trump in his second impeachment trial.

    But those conservative justices are really buying what Trump is saying! Because they are morons who refuse to accept that prosecuting Trump isn’t some new trend, simply because it’s never happened before, but rather simply what happens when one of the worst humans […] inexplicably becomes president of the United States.

    Wrote Alan Feuer for the Times:

    Much of the discussion this morning has swirled around the question of whether, without immunity, presidents will be hounded by their rivals with malicious charges after leaving office. Alito and other conservatives on the court seem concerned that the Trump prosecutions will open the door to endless attacks against future presidents.

    Because Alito, as we have said many times, is not especially bright.

    So now what?

    Well, it depends on whether the Court lights a fire under its own ass to rule on this one, or whether Clarence Thomas and Alito need some time bouncing on their billionaires’ laps or otherwise dawdling. If they decide there needs to be a delineation between official and unofficial acts for prosecutorial immunity purposes, will they figure those out on their own, or send it to the lower courts to do the job?

    Could somehow a prosecution that only involves the UNOFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL ways Trump tried to destroy America with his tiny hands go forward, and let’s just forget about the rest? Amy Coney Barrett asked that, basically.

    But! From the NYT tick-tock:

    Justice Barrett seems to signal that she is less likely to find that presidents have blanket immunity for their official acts. When Dreeben says the system needs to balance the effective functioning of the presidency and accountability for a former president under the rule of law, and the existing system does that pretty well or maybe needs a few ancillary rules but that is different from the “radical proposal” put forward by Trump’s legal team, she says: “I agree.”

    […] if you asked us right now if these illegitimate partisan hacks were going to manage somehow to co-sign authoritarian right-wing tyrant presidents’ desires to destroy the country on a whim — or at the very least give Trump gigantic hairy reacharounds in his quest to delay this until he (he hopes) has a chance to steal the next election and make it all go away with a snap of his stubby fingers, we wouldn’t bet against you.

  149. Reginald Selkirk says

    The man who audited Trump’s social media company misspelled his own name in 14 different ways: FT

    The accountant hired to audit former President Donald Trump’s social media company seemed to have a lot of trouble spelling his name, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

    Ben F Borgers, the founder and managing partner of the accounting firm BF Borgers, spelled his name in 14 different ways in regulatory filings, the Financial Times reported, citing data it had reviewed from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

    Some variations, like Ben F Brogers and Ben F orgers, appeared to be minor spelling mistakes. But others, like Blake F Borgers and Ben F Vonesh, were entirely different names…

  150. Reginald Selkirk says

    Sovereign Citizen Turns Traffic Tickets Into A 12-Year Prison Sentence

    A Colorado man who just sounds like a barrel of laughs ended up with a 12-year prison sentence this week after spending two years flooding judges and private people with the kind of “paper terrorism” made popular by the sovereign citizen movement.

    Brett Andrew Nelson is no stranger to the legal system. Over the course of two years, he ended up in court facing traffic violations, as well as a slew of other minor issues such as a dog bite case and issues in family court. Instead of paying the few thousand dollars in fines and going to mediation, Nelson began a campaign of what the FBI calls “paper terrorism,” as well as threatening behavior. Here’s a few of his actions over the course of two years according to CBS: …

  151. Reginald Selkirk says

    A Scientist Says He Has the Evidence That We Live in a Simulation

    … University of Portsmouth scientist Melvin Vopson, who studies the possibility that the universe might indeed be a digital facsimile… While he is just one among many who’ve contemplated the idea, Vopson claims to have one thing that those before him lacked: evidence.

    “In physics, there are laws that govern everything that happens in the universe, for example how objects move, how energy flows, and so on. Everything is based on the laws of physics,” Vopson said back in 2022. “One of the most powerful laws is the second law of thermodynamics, which establishes that entropy—a measure of disorder in an isolated system – can only increase or stay the same, but it will never decrease.”

    Based on this famous law, Vopson similarly expected that entropy in information systems—which his previous research defined as a “fifth state of matter”—should similarly increase over time. But it doesn’t. Instead, it remains constant, or even decreases to a minimum value at equilibrium. This is in direct contrast to the second law of thermodynamics, which inspired Vopson to adopt the Second Law of Information Dynamics (or Infodynamics)…

    Vopson argues that this law plays a role in atomic physics (electron arrangement), cosmology (see above), and biological systems. This last one is where Vopson makes a big claim: contrary to Charles Darwin’s idea that mutations occur randomly, mutations actually occur so that information entropy is minimized. Vopson analyzed the constantly-mutating SARS-CoV-2 (a.k.a. COVID-19) virus, and his paper on that investigation—published this past October in the journal AIP Advances—shows a “a unique correlation between the information and the dynamics of the genetic mutations.”

    What this all adds up to, in Vospon’s estimation, is that the Second Law of Infodynamics could also be used to prove that we live in a simulation.

    “A super complex universe like ours, if it were a simulation, would require a built-in data optimization and compression in order to reduce the computational power and the data storage requirements to run the simulation,” Vopson wrote in The Conversation. “This is exactly what we are observing all around us, including in digital data, biological systems, mathematical symmetries and the entire universe.”

    All of these claims require significant further testing and verification before even being considered plausible…

    Just mistaken, or a raving crackpot?

  152. Tethys says

    Justice Barrett had some excellent points on immunity that would seem to be equally applicable to her fellow justices.

    This was a search result for congressional checks on SCOTUS.

    Can Supreme Court justices be prosecuted?

    Barrett noted that other government officials — including Supreme Court justices — can be impeached, and that no one understands that to mean that they must be impeached before they can be prosecuted for a potential crime. “Why is the president different when the impeachment clause doesn’t say so?” Barrett asked.
    7 hours ago wapo live feed

    I hadn’t considered that Biden could use any ruling on ‘complete immunity’ for tfg to have a scotus member arrested and maybe * assassinated by seal team six.
    (Actual words of tfg)

  153. Pierce R. Butler says

    Reginald Selkirk @ # 205: Just mistaken, or a raving crackpot?

    Or a genius for the production of whom the universe was programmed.

    Now that the Intelligent Designer has an answer as to how long it took, we can look to see overhead, without any fuss, the stars going out.

  154. Pierce R. Butler says

    Reginald Selkirk @ # 192: FCC votes to restore net neutrality … internet service providers (ISPs) should not be able to discriminate against different kinds of content by blocking or throttling connection speeds or offering paid prioritization for different internet traffic.

    Did any ISP (or other “communications” corporation) ever actually do that? Nothing I’ve seen says so…

  155. says

    NBC News:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday issued a federal order that any dairy cows being transported from one farm to another across state lines should be tested for bird flu.

    H5N1

  156. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] The Roberts Court is a corrupt institution which operates in concert with and on behalf of the Republican Party and to an ambiguous degree right-wing anti-regulatory ideology. If we believe in a different set of policies or even democratic self-governance we will have to succeed at that with the Supreme Court acting as a consistent adversary.

    That’s the challenge in front of us. It sucks. But things become more clear cut once we take the plunge and accept that fact. […]

    Link

  157. says

    […] While Barr [former Attorney General Bill Barr] spent the entirety of his tenure letting Trump hijack the Justice Department for his various whims and grievances, he did ultimately refuse to pursue baseless investigations into Trump’s mass voter fraud claims.

    […] Since then Trump has treated Barr like a punching bag, regularly calling him a liar and even mocking his testimony before the Jan. 6 committee. Barr, for his part, hasn’t done much to suck up to the former president in the years since either. Until last week. During an interview on Fox News, Barr was asked if he would support Trump in the fall, despite their history.

    “I’ve said all along, given two bad choices, I think it’s my duty to pick the person I think would do the least harm to the country. And in my mind, I will vote the Republican ticket,” he said, adding, “Trump may be playing Russian roulette, but a continuation of the Biden administration is national suicide in my opinion.”

    (What, exactly, is the issue that makes him willing to endorse the man who he witnessed attempt to overthrow American democracy? Why, its the “thugs” on the “far-left” and the “drift that’s been occurring toward really a socialistic system.” Of course.)

    Trump caught wind of the supposed “endorsement” last night and posted on Truth Social relentlessly mocking his former toadie for doing it.

    “Wow! Former A.G. Bill Barr, who let a lot of great people down by not investigating Voter Fraud in our Country, has just Endorsed me for President despite the fact that I called him ‘Weak, Slow Moving, Lethargic, Gutless, and Lazy’ (New York Post!),” he wrote on Truth Social Wednesday.

    “Based on the fact that I greatly appreciate his wholehearted Endorsement, I am removing the word ‘Lethargic’ from my statement. Thank you Bill. MAGA2024!”

    JFC

    Link

  158. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Pierce R. Butler #209:

    Did any ISP (or other “communications” corporation) ever actually do that? [blocking or throttling connection speeds or offering paid prioritization]

     
    Net Neutrality Violations: A History of Abuse (2021)

    many providers both in the United States and abroad have […] Here’s what happens when cable and phone companies are left to their own devices

  159. Pierce R. Butler says

    CA7746… @ # 217: Here’s what happens when cable and phone companies are left to their own devices

    Thanks, most interesting … but your link, sfaict, includes only one account of comms-corp chicanery from after Trump’s FCC canceled net neutrality in 2017 – and that rather vague:

    A 2019 study by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts …found, “just about every wireless [smartphone] carrier is guilty of throttling video platforms and streaming services unevenly.”

    Hard to believe our capitalist friends didn’t exploit their opportunities more thoroughly while they had the chance. Maybe some obscure litigation or regulatory process left them too vulnerable?

  160. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Real hope’ for cancer cure as personal mRNA vaccine for melanoma trialled

    Doctors have begun trialling in hundreds of patients the world’s first personalised mRNA cancer vaccine for melanoma, as experts hailed its “gamechanging” potential to permanently cure cancer.

    Melanoma affects about 132,000 people a year globally and is the biggest skin cancer killer. Currently, surgery is the main treatment although radiotherapy, medicines and chemotherapy are also sometimes used.

    Now experts are testing new jabs that are custom-built for each patient and tell their body to hunt down cancer cells to prevent the disease ever coming back.

    A phase 2 trial found the vaccines dramatically reduced the risk of the cancer returning in melanoma patients. Now a final, phase 3, trial has been launched and is being led by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH)…

  161. Reginald Selkirk says

    JFK Airport parking lot to become biggest solar array in New York

    The future is looking sunny for Kennedy Airport’s long-term parking lot No. 9.

    Construction began Tuesday on a solar array meant to cover some 21 acres of the lot while maintaining the car park beneath.

    “If that sounds big, it is,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    “It will be the largest solar carport and energy storage system anywhere in New York State.”

    The array is expected to generate 12 megawatts of power when it’s completed in 2026. Cotton said that is expected to eliminate more than 6,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions…

  162. says

    NBC News:

    The White House seized on remarks by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that former President Donald Trump resisted accepting any bipartisan compromise to toughen border security laws. McConnell, R-Ky., made the comments hours before the Senate passed a sweeping $95 billion foreign aid package to provide assistance to Ukraine and Israel, capping months of internal GOP infighting that culminated in no immigration add-ons.

    Commentary:

    […] “This week Senator McConnell explicitly said why the toughest, fairest bipartisan border legislation in modern American history is stalled: ‘our nominee for president did not seem to want us to do anything at all,’” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a memo sent to news organizations this week.

    “After President Biden worked with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to assemble a landmark deal that secured the border and cracked down on fentanyl, congressional Republicans have been direct about why many of them sided with drug cartels and human smugglers over the Border Patrol Union and the Chamber of Commerce — because Donald Trump told them to,” Bates added. […]

    “President Biden will not allow extreme Republican officials to endanger American communities. He will keep fighting for the toughest, fairest border security deal in decades.”

    We probably haven’t heard the last of this. Every time border policy comes up in the coming months, the White House and its allies want voters to hear the same message: Democrats agreed to a conservative, bipartisan compromise, which Trump and his allies killed.

    Link

  163. says

    […] After listening to hours more commentary on this SCOTUS debating society session, it wasn’t until I heard Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s take on it, when the cause of my amorphous dread snapped into clear focus. The good senator appeared on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night, with several valuable insights. But the one that struck home with me was his excoriation of Justice Gorsuch’s high opinion of hisself.

    This was on display during his ‘brainstorming’ for ‘finding the time to deliberate’ — in order to define the rules which delineate between the “Official and Private acts of the President.” Or as Justice Gorsuch succinctly put it, “We are defining this one for the ages …”

    It was precisely that last sentiment that served as the jumping off point for Senator Whitehouse’s critique:

    Gorsuch and his constructionist cohorts have forgotten what their role is — which is precisely to decide the question before them: Does former president Trump have Full Immunity or not?

    They are not supposed to legislate “new rules” from the bench — that’s the job of Congress.

    They are not supposed to “amend the Constitution” to correct the Founders’ omissions — that’s the role of the States and the Amendment Ratification process.

    The Supreme Court is supposed to decide on sticky-wicket cases before them; to rule for or against the rights being claimed and asserted. Their role is NOT to take every case as a opportunity to rewrite the Laws in their own conservative image.

    […] Yay or Nay, what say ye? Is Trump entitled to total immunity or not? That is the decision before this pathetic foot-dragging, thumb-on-the-scales, openly-activist court.

    Link

    I think that, in addition to incorrectly defining the Supreme Court’s role and thinking far too highly of himself, Gorsuch was just pleased as punch to have a found a way to delay Trump’s trial.

  164. says

    Governor Kristi Noem Shot Her Own One-Year-Old Dog

    Boy, you fail at one pheasant hunt and it’s a death sentence.

    Quite a yucky story, so read it at your peril. There are also details of her botching the killing of a family goat and having to shoot it twice.

    And … the failed pheasant hunt wasn’t the only problem for the untrained dog. Looks like Noem allowed the dog to get out of her truck at a chicken farm, whereupon the dog killed a bunch of chickens.

    Looks like Noem’s fault to me.

  165. says

    […] they [Conservatives] were very, very excited about the prospect of AI being used to replace all of the greedy minimum wage workers who so inconvenienced the poor franchise owners by expecting to be paid enough to live.

    “This is what you get when you demand $20 minimum wage for entry level work.”

    “All these immigrants being brought in to take jobs that will be gone in 10 years lol.”

    “I’d rather this than $25 burgers.”

    […] “If the AI can get my order right and not also give me attitude, I’m going AI every time. Laws against implementing tools that better serve your customers? That sounds asinine.”

    “Maybe they shouldn’t have demanded minimum wage to be $20 hr.”

    “gud. there shite jobs enyway. dont need imgrants anymore send em all bak.”

    “This eliminates the jobs we purportedly need immigration for. It is profoundly accretive to conservatism.”

    “These are the jobs that are demanding $15-$20 per hour minimum wage right now, Matt. A lot of people complain about people wanting that much money for those jobs. This is a solution. This is the free market at work.”

    “AI will take over jobs. It will be prompting a shift towards a more educated and qualified workforce. This would require more people to pursue education in order to support themselves. Low income people will need to find innovative ways to advance and fit in. Local community colleges will thrive in my opinion. It’s going to be a challenging process.”

    “This wouldn’t have occurred if low skill labor got paid what they were actually worth. There should be laws against artificially setting the minimum wage.”

    […] abject cruelty to the poor. […] poor people shouldn’t expect to have any place to live in exchange for hours of grueling work, day in and day out. Although, of course, they should also refrain from being unhoused as that is just inconvenient and unsightly! […]

    Let us take a moment and combine all of the things these people want and don’t want. They don’t want publicly subsidized college. They don’t even want people to go to college because college is where they are forced to think and meet other people who are not like them, and therefore where they are more likely to shift to the left.

    They don’t want fast food workers or other low wage workers to be paid a living wage, they don’t want subsidized housing (and certainly not subsidized housing near them) and they don’t even want more affordable multi-family units in their precious, precious suburbs.

    They don’t want any other social programs. They cheer for the idea of AI taking people’s jobs so that business owners can save money. They don’t want a universal basic income. They also don’t want to have to look at unhoused people. Somehow, it never occurs to them that it is just not remotely possible for them to get to have/not have all of those things. Of course, luckily for them, no one ever actually asks them how they actually expect this to work. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/weird-jerks-thrilled-by-prospect

  166. Reginald Selkirk says

    Area man, Twilio co-founder Jeff Lawson, buys The Onion

    Jeff Lawson, the co-founder and recently departed CEO of enterprise infrastructure software company Twilio, is the proud new owner of satirical online newspaper The Onion…

    Now, The Onion has landed in the hands of a new Chicago-based firm called Global Tetrahedron, which is in fact a reference to a fictional firm that appears in a satirical book published by The Onion staff in 1999, called “Our Dumb Century.” …

  167. Reginald Selkirk says

    First Saudi-penned opera opens in Riyadh

    The first grand opera to be produced in Saudi Arabia has had its opening performance in Riyadh – part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s massively ambitious plans to shift the kingdom into a new era, economically and socially.

    Zarqa Al Yamama is the story of a blue-eyed tribal matriarch with the gift of foreseeing the future in pre-Islamic Arabia.

    Her predictions of imminent danger are ignored by her tribe – a story with a universal resonance according to Ivan Vukcevic, head of Arabian Opera. The company was set up in Switzerland to help develop the performance and teaching of classical music in the Middle East…

  168. says

    Republicans calling for a military response to student protests:

    […] Without debating the relative merits or lack thereof of the protests themselves, then, it’s important to note that these demands for a federal militarized response are coming almost entirely from one side of the political aisle. As Serwer points out, they echo the same sentiments Republicans expressed in 2020 in response to the protests by Black Lives Matter over the police murder of George Floyd.

    In other words, thus far we have seen a markedly asymmetrical, political response by Republicans to campus protests this week. But we are also witnessing something else: an explicit acceptance of a militarized solution to protests where Republicans find it politically advantageous.

    Notably, another well-known Republican has also proposed sending the U.S. military and National Guard units to quell anticipated public protests, albeit of a far different nature, should he be afforded another term in office. That person is Donald Trump, and the people he proposes to target are those Americans he suspects would turn out in the hundreds of thousands to protest the policies he intends to implement.

    […] There’s also the fact that using the military for the civilian population can escalate the violence. Goitein further explains that “as badly as many police officers have behaved during the recent protests, they are at least nominally tasked with protecting the communities they serve.” But the military does not have civilian experience.

    “We’re a combat unit not trained for riot control or safely handling civilians in this context,” a member of the Minnesota National Guard told The Nation. “Soldiers up and down the ranks are scared about hurting someone, and leaders are worried about soldiers’ suffering liability.”

    The fact that these Republicans whose motivations are transparently political would so blithely call for federal troops to point their weapons at mostly young college protesters—whatever the merits of those protests—is certainly bad enough. The fact that their standard-bearer, Trump, clearly would have no qualms about using military force to stifle public opposition to his odious policies should he regain office, suggests something even worse.

    Link

  169. says

    Excerpts from Trump’s trial in New York:

    Trump, addressing reporters before entering the courthouse for Day 8 of the trial, insisted that his team had “a very good day yesterday” [bullshit]

    Trump also commented on yesterday’s Supreme Court oral arguments over his immunity claim in the federal election subversion case. He hailed the arguments as “brilliant” and repeated talking points about the need for “all presidents” to have broad immunity protections.

    Trump aide Boris Epshteyn is in court for the second day in a row.

    He’s another legal adviser who is quarterbacking Trump’s various trials and was recently indicted by a state grand jury in Arizona for his alleged role in trying to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state during the 2020 presidential election.

    Trump is sitting in the courtroom with his eyes shut, leaning back comfortably. There are three Secret Service agents seated behind him in the front row of the gallery.

    Bove keeps referring to Trump as “President Trump” when he is discussing periods when Trump was not in office. The DA’s office keeps objecting, and Merchan is sustaining those objections, deflating the defense’s efforts to inflate Trump.

    In the cross-examination of Pecker, Bove is trying to argue that paying for stories wasn’t part of the tabloid publisher’s agreement with Trump and Cohen when they met at Trump Tower in August 2015.

    Pecker, facing questions from one of the prosecutors, confirmed under oath that he bought McDougal’s story when he was running the Enquirer as part of a scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election.

    Joshua Steinglass, one of the prosecutors, asked Pecker: “Is that true, Mr. Pecker, was that your purpose in locking up the Karen McDougal story, to influence the election?”

    Pecker replied yes, then added that the “actual purpose was to acquire lifetime rights so [the story] was not published by any other news organization.”

    While it was standard Pecker to suppress stories to help a friend or to use as leverage with a celebrity, he had never done it before primarily to help a campaign.

    Pecker confirmed that while he coordinated hundreds of thousands of NDAs during his tenure at AMI, he indicated that “the only one” he did for a presidential candidate’s campaign was for Trump.

    Link

  170. tomh says

    From the 19th

    Medical records for out-of-state abortions will now be protected by HIPAA
    A new Biden administration rule means that doctors cannot turn abortion-related records over to law enforcement.

    Health care providers aren’t allowed to tell law enforcement about a patient’s abortion if they received the procedure in a state where it is legal, it is protected by federal law, or it is permitted by state law, the Biden administration said Monday.

    The new rule is based on the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. It could shield patients’ medical information if they live in a state with an abortion ban and travel elsewhere to seek care. Those are details that could show up in their health records if they seek subsequent medical care in their home state….

    The rule will take effect in 30 days, and it represents a meaningful shift. Though HIPAA generally protects medical information stored by health plans and health providers, it has historically included a carveout for law enforcement. While health care providers are not obligated to turn over a patient’s medical records to law enforcement, they are generally allowed to.

    The new federal rule closes that loophole for abortions that were clearly legal in the state where they were provided, along with medical information regarding other forms of reproductive health care, such as pregnancy tests or contraceptive care. It should provide a level of protection for physicians who may feel pressure to cooperate with a law enforcement investigation, said Melanie Fontes Rainer, head of the Health and Human Service Department’s Office of Civil Rights.

    “We want to make sure people can go to the doctor and not be scared to talk to the doctor,” Fontes Rainer told The 19th.
    […]

  171. says

    Yikes.

    Kyiv city authorities in Kyiv on Friday urgently evacuated two hospitals, including a children’s hospital, after the head of the Belarusian KGB claimed “terrorists” were being treated there — an accusation which Ukrainian officials called “a lie and provocation” but set off fears of an imminent attack.

    Speaking before a meeting of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly — a political gathering headed by the Belarusian strongman leader Aleksandr Lukashenko — the KGB head, Ivan Teretel, specified the addresses of the hospitals, which are located next to each other in the Ukrainian capital. Teretel promised to “impose punishment.”

    At one of them, Teretel said, Ukrainian military personnel were being treated, hiding “behind the backs of sick children.”

    “All these people and their plans are known to us,” Teretel said. “In the fight against terrorism, we act according to the laws of wartime — decisively and without hesitation.”

    Kyiv authorities viewed Teretel’s statement — which was posted as a video on the internet — as a possible warning of a missile or drone attack.

    “The enemy actually announced an attack on these medical institutions, naming even the addresses,” Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said, speaking in a video he posted on social media that was self-recorded from the grounds in front of the children’s hospital.

    “Allegedly there are military personnel in these institutions” Klitschko said, refuting it as a false claim directed by Russia “to attack the capital’s social infrastructure.”

    Belarus is allied with Russia and allowed Moscow’s forces to use its territory to invade Ukraine from the north in February 2022. Since then, however Lukashenko has resisted pressure to involve Belarusian forces directly in Russia’s war. […]

    A Washington Post team arrived at the children’s hospital as the last parents were leaving with their children, and the emergency ward had been fully evacuated. There was no sign of any military personnel being treated on the premises.

    Ihor Zorkov led his daughter Viktoriya, 2, by the hand, as they walked down the hallway to the hospital exit, and he juggled three small plastic bags with her belongings. Viktoriya had been in the hospital for the past five days with a viral infection and a temperature, he said.

    “They say we can come back Monday,” Zorkov said, as Viktoriya started to cry. “There’s a risk of an attack.”

    […] Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, said in a statement that reports of “mythical terrorists who are allegedly in Ukrainian hospitals” was a form of “informational and psychological special operations that play into the hands of the Russian Federation.”

    “The representatives of the Belarusian regime, which has completely surrendered its country to Russia, should understand a simple thing — the people who protect Ukraine from the invaders are heroes, not terrorists,” the SBU said. “Because the real terrorists are in the Kremlin.”

    The statement added: “The Belarusian authorities should not scare Ukrainians with false statements but think about how not to end up on the dock in The Hague next to the Kremlin dictator.”

    Well that’s one way to try to justify bombing hospitals. Sheesh.

    Washington Post link

  172. says

    Repetition, repetition, repetition:

    Fox News has mentioned Hunter Biden at least 13,440 times since January 3, 2023, when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives after promising to use their power to investigate the business interests of President Joe Biden’s son, according to a Media Matters review. The network’s nonstop Hunter fixation prodded House Republicans to launch an impeachment inquiry based on related conspiracy theories in September. But the investigation has failed to identify compelling evidence of wrongdoing by the president, and is now reportedly in an advanced state of collapse.

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who has led the impeachment probe, recently told a colleague he is “ready to be ‘done with’ the impeachment inquiry,” […]

    Fox’s airwaves played an essential role in Comer’s effort, serving as a promotional vehicle for the dubious allegations about Hunter Biden — and for the congressman himself. Comer appeared on Fox weekday programs at least 137 times since the start of the 118th Congress, regularly promising that he had obtained damaging evidence about the Bidens only for his claims to wither under scrutiny. […]

    No one spent more time trying to conjure up an impeachable offense from Hunter Biden-related minutiae than Sean Hannity, the GOP political operative and Trump confidante who also has a Fox prime-time show. Hannity’s program accounted for an unfathomable 1,246 mentions of the president’s son as he attempted to make the case that Hunter Biden’s business career constituted “potentially the biggest bribery, money laundering scandal in American history.”

    Hannity had more Hunter Biden mentions than any other single hour of Fox programming, with The Faulkner Focus, coming in a distant second at 846 mentions. All three Fox programs with more Hunter Biden references than Hannity — America Reports (1,365 mentions), Fox & Friends (1,344), and America’s Newsroom (1,275) — run for two or three hours.

    Based on far-fetched claims about Hunter Biden, Hannity and his colleagues accused Joe Biden of “public corruption on a scale this country has never seen before” as well as “bribery and treason.” They claimed that the scandal “could doom Biden’s presidency” and that the impeachment probe showed that “the walls, as we have been telling you, are closing in” on the president. Hannity regularly hosted Comer and his allies for soft-ball interviews and touted them for purportedly uncovering a “mountain of evidence” about purported Biden corruption.

    But after all that scandal-mongering, Hannity has not hosted Comer or mentioned the congressman’s Biden impeachment probe since mid-March. In his most recent reference, he said, “Forget about the impeachment inquiry.” […]

    Yeah, but the damage was already done via the tactic of endless repetition.

    Link

  173. says

    NBC News investigation reveals Israel strikes on Gaza areas it said were safe

    NBC News found Palestinians were killed in seven deadly airstrikes in areas of southern Gaza that the Israeli military had explicitly designated as safe zones.

    An NBC News investigation into seven deadly airstrikes has found Palestinians were killed in areas of southern Gaza that the Israeli military had explicitly designated as safe zones.

    The attacks took place from January to April, as Israel’s military bombarded Rafah from the air and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government signaled its intent to launch a full-scale ground invasion on Gaza’s southernmost city, which has now swelled to more than 1 million people.

    Watch more on this story on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.

    NBC News camera crews filmed the bloody aftermath of the six strikes on Rafah itself and one strike farther north on the Al-Mawasi humanitarian zone, which was also designated safe by Israel.

    The crews compiled the GPS coordinates of each strike, all of which hit an area identified by the Israeli military as an evacuation zone in an online interactive map it published on Dec. 1. The map has not been updated since then and the Israel Defense Forces told NBC News in a statement Sunday that it remained accurate.

    International aid agencies and Gazans have called the map confusing and difficult to read. Regular cellular and internet blackouts since the start of the war would also have made it difficult for civilians to access it.

    [Map of “Strikes on designated safe zones in the Rafah Governate and Al-Mawasi humanitarian zone” is available at the link]

    Sari Bashi, Human Rights Watch’s program director, said in an interview that the incidents highlighted in NBC News’ investigation are not isolated.“People are fleeing to roads that the government told them to use to places where the Israeli government told them to go,” said Bashi, who has tracked the humanitarian impact of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. “And when they go there, they get killed.”

    On Dec. 18, the IDF dropped leaflets that identified Rafah’s Tal Al Sultan and Al Zuhur neighborhoods, as well as Al Shaboura, home to a large refugee camp, as safe, and told residents to go there. NBC News found that all three locations have been hit by airstrikes since then.

    Israeli officials have repeatedly said that Hamas uses hostages and civilians as human shields. Netanyahu, along with other Israeli officials, have also said Israeli forces do their utmost to prevent civilian casualties.

    Health officials in Gaza say more than 34,000 people have been killed so far in Gaza during the six-month war, which began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel that left 1,200 dead and saw over 240 people taken hostage. Netanyahu has repeatedly promised to invade Rafah to ensure “the destruction or elimination” of Hamas. That’s caused growing alarm over the safety of civilians who have taken shelter there. [Map at the link]

    NBC News found that Rafah’s Tal Al Sultan neighborhood, which was designated safe in leaflets dropped by the IDF on Dec. 18, was targeted less than a month later, on Jan. 9. Relatives said that 15 people died in a strike on the Nofal family home. “Many of my cousins were killed,” one of the survivors, Ahmed Younis, told an NBC News crew in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Younis added that he had moved to the house believing it was safe “but there is no safe area. The house fell on our heads.”

    A little over a month later, a Feb. 12, a strike hit the Al Shaboura refugee camp, which had also been listed as a safe zone on an IDF leaflet. An NBC News crew filmed dozens of dead bodies, some women and children, in the aftermath of the strike, one of several in Rafah that night.

    [snipped more details] Areas that senior Israeli officials publicly stated were safe were bombed as well. On Nov. 4, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told a news briefing in Tel Aviv that there would be no attacks on Al-Mawasi, a narrow strip of beachside land in the city of Khan Younis, promising that “anyone will be in a safe place” in that location. After Jan. 1, the IDF advised people on X to evacuate to Al-Mawasi 11 times.

    But Israeli forces repeatedly launched strikes on the area. On Jan. 4, 14 people died, among them three children who perished when their tent was hit by a strike, Palestinian officials said. Footage taken by an NBC News crew less than an hour later showed a large crater. […]

  174. says

    Rightwing broadcasting, making more than a few bucks off the Trump circus … and quickly sliding into fringe rightwing politics. (Dating Marjorie Taylor Greene as icing on the cake.]:

    Brian Glenn was about to go live. Amid the hundreds of reporters crowded outside a Manhattan courthouse on the first morning of Donald Trump’s criminal trial last week, Glenn, the director of programming for Right Side Broadcasting Network, would be delivering the news from the circus straight to hundreds of thousands of faithful MAGA viewers.

    […] Pointing to one image, he singled out his girlfriend, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. (He calls himself the other half of “MAGA America’s favorite couple.”) He recounted how his crew had to cut their coverage short that day after Greene was mobbed by press and onlookers. “I probably physically bulldozed a dozen people getting her out of there,” Glenn said.

    […] As Glenn spoke, he stopped mid-sentence, a voice breaking through his AirPods. “30 seconds?” I heard him say. He quickly returned to his mark and began to broadcast to an audience of what would soon blossom into more than 200,000 RSBN viewers spread across YouTube and Rumble, the right-coded video service. “This is Biden’s witch hunt,” Glenn told his viewers. “This is what this is. This is Biden’s trial. This is his ability, or effort right now, to take President Trump off the campaign trail.”

    Right Side Broadcasting Network dates back to 2016, when stay-at-home dad Joe Seales launched the online channel in order to live stream Trump rallies. Eight years later, RSBN has grown into a full outlet that employs roughly a dozen people and features a website full of stories. RSBN is like NFL RedZone for Trump rallies, covering them hours before any speakers approach the dais. Now, as Trump’s general election campaign kicks into high gear, it has also cemented itself as the pro-Trump media outlet of record for the MAGA base. The network boasts 1.64 million subscribers on YouTube (a larger subscribership than One America News Network) and another half a million on Rumble.

    […] Glenn is fast becoming one of Trump’s favorite reporters, likely racking up more one-on-one interviews with Trump in the last year than any other journalist. During gaggles, Trump often singles him out for positive-slanted questions after entertaining a series of hardballs from other reporters. Christina Bobb, one of Trump’s revolving cast of attorneys, is a regular guest alongside Glenn on RSBN’s coverage of the trials.

    […] RSBN has “replaced mainstream media in the needs of your average Trump supporter: Why would you turn on Fox where they’re going to cut away when you can watch this website, and they’ve also got more access,” Weigel said.

    “Fox is not neatly echoing what the base is saying or feeling anymore,” Glenn told me. “We just kind of filled that space. They abandoned that space.” […] interviewing the hoi polloi at Trump rallies, where he has broadcasted for up to 7.5 hours straight at a time.

    […] “Since he has dated Greene, he has become much more hardcore,” Filipkowski told me. He said that Glenn had become more radicalized on issues like Ukraine aid and House Speaker Mike Johnson’s tenure (he’s against it). “If I ran into Brian in 2014, we probably would have agreed on 90 percent of things,” said Filipkowski, a former Republican. “My thinking is he has probably changed quite a bit like a lot of normal Republicans because of Trump.”

    […] Glenn told me that the two have never disagreed on matters of politics. “Both of us absolutely live, breathe and sleep America First,” he said. “We focus on every day what she can do on the legislative side and the messaging that I can do with our outlet. And you know, we’re 100 percent behind President Trump and the America First agenda. And like I said, I try to keep everything factual. I don’t buy into all these far-right theories about stuff.”

    What Glenn actually believes is pretty transparent throughout his broadcasts and in his interviews with Trump supporters. He told me he thinks Jan. 6 is an “inside job” and that “this whole thing was instigated by antifa.” He also dabbles in 2020 conspiracies, and he told me: “I think there was enough valid election discrepancies to question: Is the outcome legitimate?”

    If he knows the MAGA base better than any other reporter, I wondered who he thought would be the 2028 heir to the movement. “Who’s the next man up on the bench to carry the torch?” he pondered for a moment when I posed that question. “I’m gonna say 100 percent that the person I know that their heart is in the right place, their focus is in the right place, and they’re tough enough and strong enough to do it, that’s Marjorie.” […]

    Link

  175. Reginald Selkirk says

    Prehistoric giant ‘sabre-toothed salmon’ renamed after new discovery

    The artwork and publicity materials showcasing a giant salmon that lived five million years ago were ready to go to promote a new exhibit, when the discovery of two fossilized skulls immediately changed what researchers knew about the fish.

    Initial fossil discoveries of the 2.7-metre-long salmon in Oregon in the 1970s were incomplete and had led researchers to mistakenly suggest the fish had fang-like teeth.

    It was dubbed the “sabre-toothed salmon” and became a kind of mascot for the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon, said researcher Edward Davis.

    But then came discovery of two skulls in 2014…

  176. Reginald Selkirk says

    Giuliani Makes Hilarious Attempt to Defend Against Arizona Indictment

    Rudolph Giuliani’s defense against facing criminal charges for his involvement in Arizona’s fake elector plot is not exactly a good one: He’s pointing out other states where he may have committed crimes as well.

    “Well, I didn’t spend as much time on Arizona as I did, let’s say, with Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. I know those better,” Donald Trump’s former attorney told Newsmax Thursday night…

  177. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #242…
    Riffing on an old joke…five of those will be Texas: North, South, East, West, and Deep in the Heart of…

  178. Reginald Selkirk says

    IRS free tax filing pilot processed more than 140,000 returns, saved consumers $5.6 million in prep fees

    This season, more than 140,000 taxpayers successfully filed returns using IRS Direct File, a free tax filing pilot from the IRS, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS.

    The program fully opened for certain taxpayers in 12 states in early March and saved filers an estimated $5.6 million in tax preparation fees for federal returns, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told reporters on a press call.

    Direct File surveyed more than 15,000 users, around 90% of whom rated their experience as “excellent,” the agencies reported…

  179. Reginald Selkirk says

    Former GOP rep who voted to impeach Trump drops Michigan Senate bid

    Former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) has dropped his bid for Senate, according to a statement posted to the social platform X Friday.

    “After prayerful consideration, today I withdrew my name from the primary ballot,” Meiijer said in the statement. “Without a strong pathway to victory, continuing this campaign only increases the likelihood of a divisive primary that would distract from the essential goal – conservative victories in November.”

    Meijer, who voted to impeach former President Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, launched a bid for the Senate in November to replace Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). He was one of 10 Republicans in the House to vote to impeach the former president after the Capitol riot…

  180. Reginald Selkirk says

    What the Hell is Elon Musk Talking About?

    Elon Musk is prone to strange asides in all aspects of his life, but Tesla’s quarterly earnings call earlier this week found him in rare form: Speaking to investors, the CEO droned on about everything from alien abductions to the Irish Republican Army, and seemed to signal his intent to appropriate self-driving cars’ onboard computers to turn a profit for the company when not being used. His ramblings are a little more understandable in context: After a Cybertruck recall and news the carmaker would lay off 10 percent of its staff worldwide, Tesla this week reported a 55 percent drop in profits amid declining vehicle sales.

    Musk deflected from his car company’s unraveling by suggesting that Tesla is not, in fact, a car company at all. Tesla, he said, “should be thought of as an A.I. or robotics company. If you value Tesla as just like an auto company, you just have to—fundamentally, it’s just the wrong framework and it will come to be.” …

  181. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cop Slammed Emory Professor’s Head Into Concrete, Then Charged Her With Battery

    An economics professor at Emory University whose needlessly violent arrest was captured by a news crew on Thursday at the school’s pro-Palestine protest, is now facing charges for battery against a police officer.

    In a disturbing video captured by CNN, Professor Caroline Fohlin approached several police officers as they wrestled one protester to the ground, forcefully shoving their head into the concrete sidewalk. “Oh my God, what are you doing?” Fohlin asked, horrified…

  182. says

    NBC News:

    Haiti’s transition council took power in a ceremony on Thursday, formalizing the resignation of former Prime Minister Ariel Henry as the Caribbean country seeks to establish security after years of gang violence wreaking chaos and misery.

  183. says

    Bad economic news, as reported by NBC:

    Inflation showed little signs of letting up in March, with a key barometer the Federal Reserve watches closely showing that price pressures remain elevated. The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy increased 2.8% from a year ago in March, the same as in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. That was above the 2.7% estimate from the Dow Jones consensus.

  184. says

    Texas Tribune:

    Tarrant County District Attorney Phil Sorrells wants Crystal Mason’s illegal voting conviction reinstated, his office announced Thursday. Mason, a Tarrant County resident, was acquitted of an illegal voting charge last month. Sorrells’ office is now asking the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn the ruling that cleared her.

  185. says

    Trump’s potential plan for Fed raises alarms

    Trump’s potential plan to exert more influence over the Federal Reserve is alarming experts and investors.

    The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that a group of Trump allies is crafting ways to chip away at the independence of the central bank — a constant thorn in the side of the former president — should he be reelected in November. They also argue Trump would have the power to oust Fed Chair Jerome Powell, whom he appointed to the job in 2017 and then berated through most of his term, despite legal protections from being fired without cause.

    […] “If it becomes clear that there’s going to be a Fed chair that answers to the president, I would expect a dramatic reaction in the markets and the White House would have to deal with that,” said Ian Katz, director at research consultancy Capital Alpha Partners.

    “There are plenty of people in the markets who would like to see Trump be president again. I don’t think there are plenty of people in the markets who would like to see Trump be de facto Fed chair.”

    The Trump campaign declined to provide The Hill with a copy of the plan obtained by the Journal and said it should not be considered an official position. […]

  186. birgerjohansson says

    Ongoing fighting; Ukraine makes good use of drones. Russia is using up infantry without care. I almost -almost- feel sorry for the Russians. (the text algorithm misinpretes a place name as ‘New York’, I cannot discern the true name)

    “26 Apr: Ukrainians Hit Overextended Russian Logistics to Undermine the Offensive”
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=vJ9Iti4I2hs

  187. StevoR says

    @255. John Morales : 21st October is Earthworm Day.

    In 2016 the Earthworm Society of Britain (ESB) nominated 21st October as World Earthworm Day to give the world an opportunity to celebrate these ecologically vital and under-appreciated animals. An October date was chosen in order to honor the father of earthworm ecology, Charles Darwin, as this is the month that his book ‘The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Actions of worms’ was published.

    Source : https://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/worldwormday

    Less cute than Tapirs at least to most folks views but ecologically vital invertebrates & soil makers. The little worms (makers, soil makers) that aren’t Shai-Hulud and also aren’t fictional, native to our globe not Arrakis and do help determine much of our planet’s ecology in it’s most habitable and agriculturally significant areas.

  188. StevoR says

    It may come as a surprise to hear 2023 was Australia’s biggest bushfire season in more than a decade. Fires burned across an area eight times as big as the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires that tore through 10 million hectares in southeast Australia.

    My research shows the 2023 fires burned more than 84 million hectares of desert and savannah in northern Australia. This is larger than the whole of New South Wales, or more than three times the size of the United Kingdom. The scale of these fires is hard to comprehend.

    The speed at which these fires spread was also incredible. In just a few weeks of September and October, more than 18 million hectares burned across the Barkly, Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

    I presented this research into the 2023 fires at the International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference this month in Canberra. I described the scale of these fires, why they occurred, and how fires could be better managed to help protect remote but ecologically and culturally important regions of Australia…

    Source : https://theconversation.com/vastly-bigger-than-the-black-summer-84-million-hectares-of-northern-australia-burned-in-2023-227996

  189. StevoR says

    Why is it taking so long to fix our crap environment laws — and why aren’t people ‘chill’ about it?

    Interrogating the delay to address our inadequate environment laws, what was originally promised, and why the government seems to be dragging its feet.

    s there any surer way to irritate an aggrieved group than propose they take a “chill pill”?

    No, not really. Especially when the group in question is Australia’s conservation movement, which has just had to swallow a very bitter pill: Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announcing she will delay her promise to rewrite the country’s failing environment laws. So when Professor Graeme Samuel, who led the damning review of these environmental laws in 2020, told conservation groups to be patient last week, his comments were not well received. “Just sit and wait, take a chill pill,” Professor Samuel told a parliamentary inquiry into the extinction crisis. “I think you will find that what we’re going to get will satisfy all their aspirations as set out in the Nature Positive Plan that the minister announced some time ago.” The response was not, in fact, chill.

    Biodiversity Council director James Trezise described Samuel’s comments as “dismissive and political”, saying it was unlikely the government would be able to deliver on the significant environmental reforms it had committed to before an election.
    “That kind of narrative is unhelpful in the sense there is a real crisis playing out in Australia,” said Trezise. “We have species hanging on by a thread.” So why has it taken so long to address our crap environment laws, what was originally promised, and why do the government seem to be dragging their feet? Crikey clarifies…

    Source : https://www.crikey.com.au/2024/04/23/tanya-plibersek-environment-laws-biodiversity-conservation/

  190. Reginald Selkirk says

    How to Replace Eisegesis with Exegesis

    Question: When proper exegesis was revealed to me, I was astonished I didn’t see it before. I’m hoping to lead a Bible study with close friends who might tend to trend on the side of eisegesis, and I’m wondering if you have any tips on humbly steering the conversation and discussion to properly study the text in context.

    Greg: I’m glad to hear that she’s had this revelation, of sorts, about understanding, in some ways, exegesis, which is getting information out of the text, as opposed to eisegesis, which is reading information into the text that’s not there, like, for example, your own ideas that you’re trying to baptize with a proof text that doesn’t teach your own ideas. This is a critical distinction, and it’s great that she’s got this in her mind. People treat the Bible in ways they would never treat anything else that they read—no letter, no advertisement, no news story, nothing in a book—because it’s a spiritual book, so they feel they can just take all kinds of liberties with the text.

    Now, there’s a couple of ways you can approach it…

  191. says

    Civil War in the USA … not a movie in the minds of Russian leaders, it is the reality they want:

    […] After the House approved the $61 billion Ukraine aid package on Saturday, the hawkish former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is the deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, wrote on Telegram: “I cannot with all sincerity not wish the United States to plunge into a new civil war as quickly as possible.”

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg as the American Civil war meme has been a recurring theme in Russian propaganda for years.

    Just watch this clip from Russian TV from September 2023 when Putin’s propagandists discussed the Republican primary campaign and the presidential election. Political analyst Andrey Sidorov referred to their favorite candidate as “the eternal President Trump.”

    And then the show’s host Vladimir Solovyov said the turmoil surrounding the 2024 campaign signaled that “America is on the verge of a civil war” and that if “they get tough on Trump, who knows how it will end,” referring to the criminal indictments against Donald Trump.

    “If a Black militia came out with their weapons, even the National Guard wouldn’t be able to contain it, everything will be decided with a civil war,” opined Dmitry Drobnitsky, another pundit.

    And then Solovyov chimed in with “and we will help.” [video at the link]

    And in this video, Sergey Markov, a former Putin adviser, said his New Year’s wish is for a civil war in the U.S. because it would mean the “civil war” in Ukraine would end in a week (1:40 mark). [video at the link]

    In the film “Civil War,” British director-writer Alex Garland deliberately obfuscates how the American Civil War started and the politics of the war. All we know is that secessionists from 19 states are fighting a fascist president (played by Nick Offerman) who has violated the Constitution by serving a third term and has abolished the FBI. The president has also ordered the bombing of U.S. citizens.

    Garland, who wrote the screenplay in 2020 during the pandemic, said the film is a warning about what could happen here.

    “America has an internal concept in its exceptionalism that means it feels it’s immune to some kinds of problems,” Garland told a South by Southwest Film & TV panel. “One of the things history shows us is that nobody is immune. Nobody is exceptional. And if we don’t apply rationality and decency and thoughtfulness to these problems, in any place, it can get out of control.”

    […] the most chilling scene occurs when the correspondents encounter white militiamen in paramilitary gear dumping bodies in a mass grave.

    When the racist, xenophobic militia leader casually executes an Asian journalist and holds the others at gunpoint, one of the reporters pleads, “We’re Americans.”

    And then the militia leader (played by Jesse Plemons) casually asks, “Well, what kind of American are you?”

    […] The film concludes with fighting raging in Washington, in the streets, and around the Lincoln Memorial, before the secessionists breach the White House with the reporters in tow. [video at the link, film trailer]

    “I do think it’s a warning. I do,” Kirsten Dunst, who stars as a jaded war photographer, told CBS’ “Sunday Morning.” “At the heart of all of this, it’s really about humanity and what happens when people stop treating each other like human beings.”

    Political divisions have been growing in the country, spurred by […] Trump and his MAGA cultists. An actual civil war is unlikely, but an August 2022 poll by YouGov/The Economist found that more than two-fifths of Americans believe a civil war is at least somewhat likely in the next 10 years. The figure increases to more than half among self-identified “strong Republicans.”

    […] Putin’s propagandists were pushing a narrative that the U.S. is heading for a civil war back during the Texas border crisis earlier this year. That’s when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had the state’s National Guard put up razor-wire fencing along the border with Mexico, and the Biden administration got the U.S. Supreme Court to order the U.S. Border Patrol to take down the barriers.

    […] In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Medvedev wrote “Establishing a People’s Republic of Texas is getting more and more real.” He added that the situation could lead to “a bloody civil war which cost thousands upon thousands of lives.”

    Russian TV host Sergey Mardan jubilantly predicted that the Texas border standoff would lead to “Civil War 2.0.”

    “If your enemy is facing a problem, you need to help turn it into a catastrophe,” he said.

    Meanwhile in Russia: Sergey Mardan rejoiced at the US border scandal, pointing out that it’s being blown up as part of Trump’s election tactics. He mocked Ukrainians, since these GOP games caused the aid to Ukraine to be blocked. [posted by Julia Davis]

    And Russian lawmaker Sergey Mironov even offered to help Texas gain independence.

    Newsweek reported that Mironov posted on X, “In the conflict between Texas and the United States, I am on the side of the state. At least Texas does not interfere in the affairs of other countries. If necessary, we are ready to help with the independence referendum. And of course, we will recognize the People’s Republic of Texas if there is one. Good luck! We’re with you!”

    David Gilbert, who covers disinformation and online extremism for Wired, told the Texas Standard that data shows that there is a full-court press from Russia to spread disinformation about what’s happening at the border between Texas and Mexico.

    […] analysis shows that everyone from the former president, Dmitry Medvedev, as well as military bloggers, lifestyle influencers and bots … are all pushing this narrative that the U.S. is on the brink of civil war and thus Texas should secede from the United States, and that Russia will be there to support this. […]

    Link

  192. says

    Fact-Checking Trump’s Remarks in the Hush Money Trial

    Each day before and after court proceedings, the former president stepped out in front of the cameras and offered his version of the case.
    New York Times link

    Donald J. Trump spent the bulk of the past week in a Manhattan courtroom, standing trial as the first American president to face criminal prosecution.

    He is accused of falsifying business records to cover up an affair with a porn actress ahead of the 2016 election.

    Even though he did not take the stand as opening statements got underway, he took to the cameras to argue his case each day the court was in session.

    Here’s a fact check.

    WHAT WAS SAID
    “He puts in an invoice, or whatever, a bill. And they pay it and they call it a legal expense. I got indicted for that. What else would you call it? Actually nobody’s been able to say what you’re supposed to call it.”— in remarks after the trial on Monday

    False. Mr. Trump is referring to 11 monthly invoices that are at the heart of the case. Whether or not Mr. Trump or the jury agrees with the assessment of prosecutors, they have been able to characterize those invoices.

    According to prosecutors, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, paid $130,000 to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who was shopping around a story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen says the payment, made just before the 2016 election, was issued at Mr. Trump’s direction. Mr. Cohen then sent 11 monthly invoices to the Trump Organization for legal services beginning in 2017.

    Prosecutors have characterized Mr. Cohen’s payment as an illegal campaign contribution, and the invoices as reimbursement intended to falsify business records.

    WHAT WAS SAID
    “Also the things that he got in trouble for were things that had nothing to do with me. He got in trouble. He went to jail. This had nothing to do with me. This had to do with the taxi cab company.”— in remarks after the trial on Monday

    False. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to five counts of personal tax evasion, one count of bank fraud and two counts of campaign finance violations. The tax evasion counts pertained to Mr. Cohen’s concealment of income derived from taxi medallions he owned and leased out. The campaign finance violations were related to his hush money payments to women at Mr. Trump’s behest. Mr. Cohen faced a maximum of 65 years in prison, with the two counts related to Mr. Trump each carrying a maximum of five years. He was ultimately sentenced to three years in prison.

    WHAT WAS SAID
    “Federal Elections took a total pass on it. They said essentially nothing was done wrong or they would have done something about it.”— in remarks after the trial on Monday

    False. The Federal Election Commission — which is made up of three Republican-aligned commissioners and three Democratic-aligned commissioners — did drop its case looking into Mr. Trump’s hush money payments after a deadlock vote. But it did not absolve him of wrongdoing.

    In fact, the commission issued an internal report from the Office of General Counsel in December 2020. The report said that Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen, the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization “knowingly and willfully” violated federal election law.

    But in February 2021, two Republican commissioners voted to dismiss the case while two Democratic commissioners voted to proceed. (There was one recusal and one absence.) The Republican commissioners wrote pursuing the case “was not the best use of agency resources” given that Mr. Cohen had been punished and that there was a backlog of hundreds of other cases.

    WHAT WAS SAID
    “I’m not allowed to defend myself, and yet other people are allowed to say whatever they want about me.”— in remarks after the trial on Tuesday

    This is exaggerated. Justice Juan M. Merchan, the judge presiding over the case, did impose a gag order on Mr. Trump, but Mr. Trump is overstating what that bars him from saying.

    Under the order, Mr. Trump cannot make statements about witnesses concerning their participation in the investigation and court proceedings; about prosecutors, court staff members or their families if the comments are intended to interfere with the case; or any statements about jurors.

    In his ruling approving the gag order, Judge Merchan wrote that Mr. Trump’s statements “went far beyond defending himself” against attacks and rather were “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating,” and targeted toward private individuals as well as public figures.

    WHAT WAS SAID
    “Alvin Bragg is backed by Soros.”— in an interview with Newsmax on Thursday

    This needs context. A financial link does exist between Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney bringing the case against him, and George Soros, the billionaire and Democratic megadonor. But Mr. Soros’s support was not explicitly earmarked for Mr. Bragg.

    Mr. Soros donated to a liberal group that endorses progressive prosecutors and supports efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system — in line with causes that he has publicly supported for years. That group used a significant portion of the money to support Mr. Bragg in his 2021 campaign. A spokesman for Mr. Soros previously told The New York Times that the two men had never met, nor had Mr. Soros directly given money to Mr. Bragg’s campaign.

    WHAT WAS SAID
    “Look at all the crime we have. And yet they have a big portion of their office sitting there over absolutely nothing.”— in the Newsmax interview

    This is exaggerated. The Manhattan district attorney’s office employs about 550 assistant prosecutors and another 1,000 staff members, according to its website. In the Newsmax interview, Mr. Trump estimated that Mr. Bragg had anywhere from “12, 14, 18, 20 people from his office” on the hush money case. (Mr. Bragg has assembled six lawyers for the prosecution team.)

    WHAT WAS SAID
    “This is all a Biden indictment. It’s in order to try and win an election.”— in remarks after the trial on Friday

    This lacks evidence. Mr. Trump again accused President Biden of orchestrating the legal woes he faces, offering no evidence to support that claim.

    Mr. Bragg’s predecessor began investigating the hush money payments in 2018, years before Mr. Biden took office in 2021. As president, Mr. Biden has publicly emphasized the independence of the Justice Department. Moreover, news outlets including The Times have reported that Mr. Biden’s campaign strategy is to say nothing about Mr. Trump’s legal woes. Federal prosecutors in New York who work for the Justice Department have also declined to file charges against Mr. Trump.

  193. says

    To comprehend just how dangerous it now is to become pregnant in the state of Texas, a few basic facts need to be understood.

    As a result of the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and thanks to the state’s Republican legislature, abortion is banned in Texas. The only narrow exceptions to that ban are to save the life or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function” of a pregnant patient. Accordingly, doctors need to be extraordinarily careful to determine whether the patient will likely or probably die if an abortion is not performed.

    If they’re wrong, then the abortion is illegal, subjecting the doctor to criminal penalties of up to 99 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, and the loss of their medical license. Even if the fetus itself has a life-threatening, potentially fatal abnormality, Texas law does not allow an abortion to be performed unless the pregnant person will also likely die, a restriction that was made vividly clear in the highly publicized case of Kate Cox, who was refused treatment after four ER visits even though continuing her pregnancy demonstrably jeopardized her own health and may have ended her hopes to become pregnant again.

    So pregnancy itself—any pregnancy—is now a potentially harrowing, even terrifying experience for patients in Texas. But it’s equally terrifying for the doctors who treat them, just in a different way.

    As reported by Maria Mendez at the Texas Tribune, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies are not considered “abortions” under state law. However, as she reports, those limited “exceptions”—one in 10 pregnancies results in a miscarriage, for example—cause understandable confusion and second-guessing in practice, as doctors must weigh the certainty of their diagnosis against the fact that their own lives and careers will be forfeit if they are wrong. One error in diagnosis and they quite literally could spend the rest of their lives navigating hardened criminals in a state prison, leaving their families devastated. No “malpractice” insurance coverage will save them, either.

    This has led to several reported instances of patients who may be experiencing potential complications with their pregnancies being turned away from Texas emergency rooms, as doctors simply are afraid to treat them. In circumstances where the patient’s pregnancy is neither ectopic nor obviously indicative of miscarriage, that pervasive fear among doctors and nurses puts them in an impossible position: It becomes the sole factor dictating their course of treatment.

    The Texas Medical Board, a group of physicians and non-physicians appointed by the governor, has refused to offer a specific list of those life threatening exceptions to the overall ban that would allow an abortion to be performed, claiming it is beyond their authority to do so.

    One might think it impossible to make this Kafka-esque situation for pregnant patients and their doctors any worse. But now the same Texas Medical Board has done exactly that. Responding to a petition from the physicians’ lobby on how to treat such patients, it has issued tentative guidance that, subject to its approval in June, may result in Texas doctors refusing to treat such pregnancies at all.

    “Doctors who perform life-saving abortions may soon be required to document whether they first tried to transfer the patient to another facility to avoid terminating the pregnancy, a move some say goes beyond the language of the law,” Eleanor Klibanoff wrote for the Texas Tribune.

    The worry is that this requirement deters doctors even further from performing abortions:

    “This creates even more uncertainty for doctors who were already concerned,” said Rachael Gearing, a Dallas health care lawyer who represents OB/GYN clinics. “It’s basically saying, ‘Well, you should have passed your patient off to someone else who would have held out longer and wouldn’t have done the abortion.’”

    Specifically, the guidance from the Texas Medical Board requires doctors to document whether there was sufficient “time to transfer the patient to another facility to prevent an abortion.” Put another way, it requires doctors to show that there was inadequate time to do otherwise. So any doctor who feels it’s necessary to perform an abortion to save a patient’s life now must ensure that they’ve made every conceivable attempt to transfer them to another facility that “might” determine that performing that abortion is actually unnecessary. If doctors cannot prove this through such documentation, they’re marched off to jail, potentially for the rest of their lives.

    […] rural doctors and hospitals with limited resources will feel compelled to automatically transfer their patients to facilities with more resources—and more doctors—able to make such a determination. But once those patients are transferred, the doctors at those wealthier (mostly urban-based) medical facilities will face the same problem. Under this guidance, they will still be forced to document their efforts to find a facility that might determine an abortion is unnecessary. And even if they can find one, and can transport the pregnant patient to it, the patients themselves are put at further risk by the delay. […]

    Even if a doctor concludes that an immediate abortion was absolutely necessary, a prosecutor can always find an expert willing to say that there was more time for that doctor to search for an alternative. And if a jury believes that expert, it’s off to prison and financial ruin for the doctor.

    […] Attorneys for the physicians who had sought the board’s guidance noted that effecting such transfers of patients in itself would constitute treatment outside the normal and reasonable scope of medical care. […]

    this guidance comes while Texas officials are arguing that the federal Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, known as EMTALA, requiring that doctors and hospitals provide emergency stabilizing care, including necessary termination of pregnancy, to patients whose health is at risk should be subordinate to Texas law, which only permits abortion care when the patient’s life is threatened. […] Should doctors comply with the federal law and risk prison, or should they allow pregnant patients to deteriorate until death is a virtual certainty, as Texas has told them they must do?

    […] many of them—particularly OBGYNs—would simply choose not to treat such patients at all, just as ER physicians are doing, in Texas and other states where such draconian laws are enforced. But the real victims are Texas citizens, forced to cope with a medical system that has suddenly added an extra layer of burden and stress on their health and well-being, all for the sake of satisfying a fanatical and misogynist Republican state legislature.

    Link

  194. says

    Heavy downpours submerge large swathes of Nairobi, Kenya, and Tanzania, drowning hundreds.

    Heavy downpours in Kenya paralyzed Nairobi for over three days. The Intertropical Convergence Zone is a planetary scale band of heavy rains that encircles Earth near the equator. It is where northeast trade winds and Southeast trade winds collide.

    Climate change will move this band northward as the planet heats—increased extreme swings of the Atlantic intertropical convergence zone in a warming climate. [Details from the study abstract are available at the link]

    Additionally, it is a man-made disaster due to decades of lack of planning and mismanagement. Kenya received close to eighteen inches of rain over three days; hundreds are dead in Kenya, Burundi, and Tanzania. Heavily populated Nairobi suffered severe damage as streets turned to raging rivers.

    From CBS News:

    Hundreds of people in Tanzania and Kenya are dead after heavy rain during the region’s monsoon season, officials said.

    Flooding in Tanzania caused by weeks of heavy rain has killed 155 people and affected more than 200,000 others, the prime minister said Thursday.

    That is more than double the number of deaths reported two weeks ago as the amount of rainfall increases, especially in the coastal region and the capital, Dar es Salaam. Flooded schools have been closed and emergency services have rescued people marooned by the flood waters. Roads, bridges, railways and other infrastructure have also been destroyed, officials said.

    Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa warned those living in low-lying areas to move to higher ground and urged district officials to ensure that provisions meant for those whose homes were washed away go to those in need of the supplies. He said more than 51,000 households have been affected by the rains.

    […]

    More details, photos and videos are available at the link.

  195. says

    “Now You Begin to Understand”

    Human beings are funny people. It’s like old Joe Stalin once said, the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of a million a statistic. Kristi Noem, interesting only because of a possible VP nod from the Orange Apocalypse. She drops a grenade while juggling to impress. Relating an anecdote about how she shot her dog because he was aggressive and untrainable. Thank you for sharing that, what a lovely story.

    Trying to do a good thing by telling her story and it comes out all wrong. I’m sure she did other things growing up besides murdering her pets. She was trying to make a point about being strong and psychopathic. Things you really don’t want to do but cross me one more time and find out. She would have probably been happier with Tropical fish. Still untrainable, but less likely to poop on the rug. Largely non-aggressive, unless you get Piranha.

    Meanwhile, back at the black robe ranch Samuel Alito muses. Gee, why can’t a President legally commit crimes? What a novel approach towards his own unemployment. Riddle me this Batman; If a President can legally commit crimes. What the fuck does said President need with a Supreme Court? If the President has unquestioned divine authority to do whatever the hell they like, including murder? Something tells me, the first time the Supreme Court gave the President a hard time. The justices could become accident prone, like in Putin’s Russia. Falling out a 14th story window in a 12-story building.

    Now ask yourself, which story is more shocking? Of course, a puppy that was killed decades ago. Like the proverbial chicken and egg, Noem is only potentially a threat to the human race, while Alito already has the job.

    More telling is the court even hearing arguments in a case Richard Nixon’s court settled way back yonder. “No,” The President cannot commit crimes. There’s something very Romanesque about it all. Can Caesar lawfully murder his enemies? If Caesar can murder his enemies, can’t Caesar’s enemies lawfully murder Caesar? If Caesar in their opinion, does wrong or seeks a crown? Et tu, Brute?

    The Noem faux pas either becomes her swan song or a meme. If Trump picks Noem as his running mate it is going to be dog meme central. No telling how many votes she lost with her murderous admission. Trumper’s still love their dogs. […]

    […] Like Noem, the Court discusses opinions which would be better left unsaid. Noem kills a puppy, Alito would let Trump kill us all, including Alito.

    The Senate passed the aid package for Ukraine 79 to 18 almost overnight. The same aid package which had languished for weeks in the House because a handful of irresponsible Republicans stymied the Speaker. People died because of that, and people are dying still. But see, the House was busy playing politics and generating reelection brochure material.

    Threatening their own Speaker at every turn the House Republicans lower their own public approval. Harry Truman never referred to the 1948 Congress as anything except the “DO NOTHING” Congress. Harry ran for reelection by running against that Congress. Joe Biden also has an unpopular “do nothing” Congress and a truly frightening Supreme Court.

    When the Supreme court begins discussing whether the President can legally murder his enemies, it’s obviously time for new court. Ask any eight-year-old on the street; is it okay to murder people? I mean, if a political opponent has a legitimate grievance and is blocking El Presidente’s most wonderful plans. Is two in the back of the head or a tragic one car accident the appropriate answer in a modern American Democracy?

    These are the daunting, haunting legal questions of our time leaving us all perfectly baffled. Questions only a highly skilled and highly trained Jurist can decide. […] The model Alito is referring to is an Emperor. An authoritarian Furher, El Douche with unquestioned and unrestrained powers. What could possibly go wrong?

    Noem is out. She might catch Trump’s eye and admiration for her wanton cruelty, but that won’t sell papers in Peoria. I would suggest for Donald Trump a truly fitting running mate. Dolton, Illinois, Mayor Tiffany Henyard. Accused of bribery and various and sundry capricious acts. Henyard pays her “security” detail tens of thousands in overtime. She takes them along when she flies first class to Las Vegas. In fact, she is so much like the Orange Apocalypse, it might be a strike against her. Tiffany is like Trump; heaven doesn’t want him, and hell is afraid he will take over.

    “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

  196. says

    Russia attacks Ukraine’s energy sector again:

    Russia has launched missiles toward Ukraine in attacks that appear to be targeting the country’s energy sector, officials said.

    Ukraine’s air force said Saturday that Russia launched 34 missiles and they were able to intercede and shoot down 21 of them, The Associated Press reported.

    Herman Halushchenko, the minister of energy, said energy facilities in Dnipropetrovsk in the south and Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv in the west had been hit. An engineer was injured.

    DTEK, a private energy operator, said four of its six thermal power plants were seriously damaged. One employee was hospitalized, and the company is assessing the level of damage.

    “Since the start of the full-scale invasion, #DTEK thermal power plants have been attacked over 170 times,” the company said on social media platform X. “The enemy had already attacked our thermal power plants in massive attacks on March 22, March 29, and April 11 as it seeks to cripple supplies of #energy to millions of ordinary Ukranian homes and businesses.”

    Russia had already destroyed one of Ukraine’s largest power plants earlier this month in a massive barrage of missile strikes.

    The news comes just days after President Biden signed foreign aid legislation that will provide Ukraine with $61 billion in aid, as the war in Eastern Europe continues. The State Department also recently approved $138 million in sales to Ukraine for repairs to its HAWK missile defense systems to keep up with Russia’s attacks, over two years after the invasion began.

    Russia also struck in and near Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, injuring one person and killing another, per the AP. […]

    Link

  197. says

    HAPPY NATIONAL BOOK ORGY!

    Today is Independent Bookstore Day!

    Listen up, fellow nerds: Today is my favorite religious holiday. It is Independent Bookstore Day, which means shopping, but you can feel good about it! You’re supporting a locally owned establishment! You’re a job creator! You can buy books in so many languages, including Braille! You can even buy AUDIOBOOKS through some of your favorite indie bookshops! AAAAAAAAH FUCK ME UP INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY I LOVE YOOOOOOU!

    […] this [list below] is not comprehensive. Also, I haven’t visited all of these joints personally, so cannot attest to their excellence or lack thereof. I am well aware alla youse will have suggestions in the comments, too.

    […] One more thing — if you can’t get to a bookshop in person or simply do not prefer crowds, placing an online order or phone call order is almost always easy. They’ll usually special-order something they don’t have in stock.

    California

    Berkeley — Sleepy Cat Books

    Los Angeles (Inglewood) — The Salt Eaters Bookshop

    Los Angeles (Los Feliz) — Skylight Books (my favorite bookstore in Los Angeles)

    Los Angeles (West Adams) — Reparations Club

    Los Angeles (West Hollywood) — Book Soup (where Rebecca had her book reading, and where she says at least one of you faithful terrible ones works!)

    […] Minnesota

    Minneapolis — Moon Palace Books

    Red Wing — Fair Trade Books

    Saint Paul — Black Garnet Books

    […] New York

    Brooklyn (Fort Greene) — Greenlight Bookstore

    Brooklyn (Greenpoint) — Word

    Kingston — Rough Draft Bar & Books

    Manhattan — Rizzoli Bookstore

    Woodstock — The Golden Notebook

    […] North Carolina

    Asheville — Malaprops (my favorite bookstore in the whole wide world)

    Chapel Hill — Flyleaf Books

    […] Oregon

    Portland — Powell’s Books

    Pennsylvania

    New Hope — Farley’s Bookshop

    Philadelphia — Harriett’s Bookshop […]

    More, including embedded links to bookshops, available at the main link.

  198. says

    Harvey Weinstein taken to hospital after transferring to Rikers Island jail ahead of court appearance

    Weinstein was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan for a battery of tests.

    Harvey Weinstein was hospitalized Saturday for a battery of tests after returning to Rikers Island jail ahead of a court appearance next week.

    The 72-year-old former Hollywood powerhouse was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan for a more thorough exam after he was checked out by doctors at Rikers, his attorney, Arthur Aidala, said.

    Aidala said it seems Weinstein “needs a lot of help, physically.”

    “He’s got a lot of problems,” Aidala said. “He’s getting all kinds of tests. He’s somewhat of a train wreck health wise.”

    On Friday, he was transferred from Mohawk Correctional Facility, about 42 miles from Syracuse, New York, to a medical ward at Rikers in New York City and is scheduled to appear before a judge after New York’s highest court overturned his 2020 rape conviction.

    Weinstein was serving a 23-year sentence at Mohawk after he was found guilty of forcibly performing oral sex on a television and film production assistant in 2006 and rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actress in 2013.

    He will appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. before Judge Curtis Farber.

    In a shocking 4-3 decision Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals overturned Weinstein’s conviction after it found that the judge in the landmark #MeToo trial prejudiced the former film mogul with improper rulings, including a decision to let women testify about allegations that weren’t part of the case.

    The court said it “erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts” and the “testimony served no material non-propensity purpose.”

    Although the conviction was overturned, Weinstein remained in prison after he was convicted in 2022 in Los Angeles of rape. He was acquitted of a count of sexual battery in that case. Weinstein has filed a notice to appeal that verdict as well.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that it would do “everything in our power to retry this case, and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault.”

    In an updated statement Friday, the district attorney’s office said its mission was to “center survivors’ experiences and wellbeing in every decision we make, which we will do as we approach the next steps in this case.”

  199. Reginald Selkirk says

    Chinese scientists want to use lasers to power ultrafast, stealthy submarines. A laser expert says there’s a major flaw in their plan.


    A team of engineers at China’s Harbin University claim to have taken a step forward in developing technology that could make submarines almost silent and ultrafast, the South China Morning Post reported.

    Rather than relying on nuclear or battery power, the scientists say they have found a way to use lasers to propel submarines — known as underwater laser propulsion.

    Theoretically, submarines could be coated in a web of minuscule optical fibers that emit laser pulses, the scientists wrote in the journal Acta Optica Sinica.

    The small laser pulses emitted by the fibers would vaporize seawater and generate plasma, the substance created when gas is heated.

    In turn, the plasma would expand, creating a detonation wave that would act as an opposite force to the submarine, propelling it forward.

    A large number of high-powered laser beams positioned around the submarine at various angles could produce nearly 70,000 newtons of thrust and would drive it forward at speeds almost as fast as a commercial jet, according to SCMP…

  200. birgerjohansson says

    “Astronauts arrive at Kennedy Space Center as first crew for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft”
    https://phys.org/news/2024-04-astronauts-kennedy-space-center-crew.html

    After a four-year delay Boeing is attempting to catch up with Crew Dragon from SpaceX.
    I was too young to pay attention to the Gemini program but I watched all Apollo launches from Apollo 8 onwards. I must admit all these low-orbit missions have lost the excitement of the ‘heroic’ age of spaceflight. Anyway, if Boeing pulls off a success it will provide NASA with more flexibility of launchers. Maybe the politicians will have the confidence to send astronauts to the moon again before the old moon astronauts are all dead.

  201. birgerjohansson says

    A quote every political candidate needs to read:
    “A man cannot consider himself free unless he possesses self-control and is the master of his own actions”
    Epictetus*

    *yes, it applies to women too, but in ancient times they were ignored.

    Anyway it is hilarious to watch assholes with brittle egos freak out. May Trump and Musk crash and burn.

  202. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukrainian ‘Grandpa’ leads over-60s unit fighting Russian forces for free

    Oleksandr Taran’s mobile artillery unit isn’t officially part of Ukraine’s military, but that hasn’t stopped his men from destroying Russian targets on their own dime.

    “We … get by thanks to the pension fund,” the 68-year-old commander – whose call sign is “Grandpa” – said with a chuckle.

    Taran’s all-volunteer unit, the Steppe Wolves, is comprised of dozens of Ukrainian men mostly over 60 years old who are considered too old to be drafted but still want to fight.

    Roving behind the front line with truck-mounted rocket launchers, they take orders from field commanders and work with other troops, contributing to the war effort despite lacking official support from the military…

  203. says

    Ukraine Update: The fight for Chasiv Yar and the changing face of war

    On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported on how President Joe Biden set a trap for House Speaker Mike Johnson. When Biden called congressional leaders in for a meeting that was ostensibly about preventing a government shutdown, the president—along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—instead hit Johnson with a plan for a new assistance package for Ukraine.

    Biden piled on facts and presentations, warning Johnson of the consequences of failing to send more aid. The three congressional leaders jumped in to emphasize the historic importance of preventing Russia’s profiting from an illegal, unprovoked invasion. And at the end of that meeting, Biden pulled Johnson aside for a one-on-one discussion.

    What Biden said to Johnson when they were alone isn’t known. But if anyone doubts Biden’s effectiveness as a forceful negotiator, they need only look at the $95 billion package that Biden signed this week.

    “We rose to the moment, we came together, and we got it done,” Biden said.

    And that is the real art of the deal.
    ————————–
    RUSSIA’S NEXT BIG TARGET IS A LITTLE TOWN THAT HAS SHOULDERED A HUGE BURDEN

    Chasiv Yar lies less than 7 kilometers west of Bakhmut. The town was repeatedly struck by Russian missiles early in the war when Russian forces were still many kilometers away. Later, after Russian forces pushed through the town of Soledar and began to engulf the area around Bakhmut, the Russian military claimed to have captured Chasiv Yar, but that wasn’t true. Instead, Chasiv Yar became critically important to the long, grinding defense of Bakhmut.

    The town is situated at the end of two roads, each of which became, at one time or another, the only way in or out of the city. The whole town of Chasiv Yar became a fortified base, supplying Ukrainian troops across the area and serving as a location for Ukrainian artillery that could sweep critical highway junctions to the southeast. [map at the link]

    More than a year after Russia first claimed to have taken the town, The New York Times reports that Chasiv Yar is Russia’s next big target. Compared to targets like Bakhmut, or even Avdiivka, the town is small, only about 13 square kilometers. It doesn’t seem like a position that should demand such attention from Russian forces that have been advancing at multiple points on the front line while Ukraine has suffered from a lack of artillery, anti-tank mines, and air defenses. The prewar population of Chasiv Yar was only around 13,000, but according to Reuters, Russia now has 25,000 troops arrayed to take what remains of the town.

    The reason is simple enough: hills.

    Chasiv Yar rests on a hilltop that gives it a commanding view of Bakhmut, the highways east and south, and the set of descending bluffs in the direction of Klishchivka. Those hills, and the town’s position on multiple roads, are what made Chasiv Yar so valuable to Ukraine in the 11 months since Russia captured the ruins of Bakhmut.

    For a time in the spring, as Ukraine was launching its stuttering offensive, it made gains around the city of Bakhmut, and there was even talk of pushing Russia out of the area. In particular, Ukraine made gains on the south side of the city, liberating the villages of Klishchivka and Andriivka. Russia has tried to get those locations back ever since, but their assaults have repeatedly failed because Ukraine controls the high ground at those positions.

    Should Russian troops capture Chasiv Yar, they’ll hold ground that’s even higher and positioned to cut off access to Ukrainian positions at the front.

    With new U.S. weapons on the way, the situation at Chasiv Yar has become particularly intense. Russia knows that Ukraine’s troops are about to be resupplied. Both sides know that those supplies won’t come in an instant. So Russia is trying to advance now before Ukraine can restore its stocks. On the other hand, Ukraine is burning through supplies at an accelerated rate, trying to hold off the Russian advance while it waits for an influx of new materiel.

    Fortress Chasiv Yar is right at the center of this storm. Russian losses in this advance are still tremendous, but it’s going to be a race. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that Russia wants to capture Chasiv Yar by May 9.

    What happens here may be a strong signal of whether a renewed stream of U.S.-provided supplies is enough to halt a Russian advance that has been all too successful in recent months.

    NOTHING RUSSIA HAS IN CRIMEA IS SAFE
    In October, Russia withdrew much of its Black Sea Fleet from the naval base at Sevastopol after Ukraine continued to take down Russian ships using both sea and air drones. By December, most of that fleet had been completely removed from Crimea. And by the end of March, Russia had moved most of its ships to Russian ports in hopes of getting the remainder of their fleet out of range of Ukraine’s continued attacks.

    But while drones—particularly Ukraine’s increasingly sophisticated fleet of unmanned surface vessels—have been very successful against Russian ships, Ukraine’s missiles have largely lacked the range to strike other locations. That includes Russian rail hubs and the Kerch Bridge, which have made Crimea a critical supply line for Russian forces in the south of occupied Ukraine.

    That changed this week, as Ukraine deployed longer-range U.S.-made ATACMS tactical missiles for the first time. The first strike for these missiles was about 160 kilometers into Crimea, hitting a Russian airfield. [Tweet and video at the link]

    […] these missiles have a range of at least 300 kilometers. That puts everything in Crimea, including Vladimir Putin’s beloved bridge, in range from Ukrainian positions on the north side of the Dnipro River.

    Ukraine didn’t acquire these missiles as part of the package that Biden signed this week; the U.S. began shipping ATACMS to Ukraine last fall. However, until recently those shipments were restricted to shorter-range models. Then in February, the U.S. arranged to buy more of the long-range missiles, allowing it to supply ATACMS to Ukraine without drawing down America’s strategic supply.

    Ukraine’s supply of long-range ATACMS isn’t large. But carefully aimed at airfields, storage locations, and transportation hubs, even a few of these missiles could make a big difference—and they can make it almost anywhere in Russia-occupied areas of Ukraine.

    UKRAINE PULLS ABRAMS TANKS OFF THE FRONT LINES
    The Associated Press reports that Ukraine has withdrawn the remaining 26 U.S.-provided Abrams M1A1 tanks from front-line service after five were lost to drone and artillery attacks.

    Ukraine spent months pleading with Western allies for more modern battle tanks, as Russia had a huge numeric advantage in the amount of armor it could send to the front line. But by the time Ukraine finally received tanks from Europe and the U.S. and Ukrainian troops were trained to operate and maintain these systems, the situation had changed.

    First-person view drones, known as FPVs and piloted by operators wearing a pair of VR goggles that allow them to see from the drone’s viewpoint, have taken over as the primary threat to armor. Not only can these drones strike a tank or other armored vehicle directly, they can give precise positions so that artillery, or other drones, can follow up on any target they identify. One look at a daily list of losses around Ukraine shows that these drones have become dominant in the destruction of armored vehicles.

    With the M1 pulled from the front, the U.S. will work with Ukraine to look for ways to make the tanks less vulnerable to drone attacks.

    UKRAINE’S BEST BRIGADES FUMBLED AWAY A TOWN, AND THEY’RE NOT LOOKING GOOD
    The 47th Mechanized Brigade and 115th Mechanized Brigade have a reputation as two of Ukraine’s best. But as Forbes reported, a fumbled handoff in control of an area between these two brigades resulted in the fastest Russian advance in months.

    When the 47th withdrew from the area around the front-line town of Ocheretyne, near Avdiivka, the 115th was supposed to step in and keep the defensive line intact. But according to one commander of the 47th, “certain units just fucked off.”

    The 115th stumbled into position piecemeal, leaving gaps in the line that were immediately exploited by Russia’s 30th Motor Rifle Brigade. The Russians raced forward to capture much of the town. In an effort to stop the rapid penetration, Ukraine pushed forward elements of the 100th Mechanized Brigade that lacked heavy equipment. The underequipped 100th reportedly gave the Russians a hard fight but at the end of the day, Russia pushed kilometers up a railway and a road, capturing the eastern portion of Ocheretyne.

    Why did something like this happen? As another report in El Pais shows, even Ukraine’s best forces are running low on equipment, ammo, and men. And there’s that other factor—the one that appears again and again in a battlefield where tactics no longer align with either the World War II-style heavy armor and artillery assaults that Russia practiced when the invasion began, or the NATO-style combined arms tactics that Western allies tried to teach to Ukraine.

    The scenario is worsening fast for Ukraine, and adapting takes time. Phoenix gives two examples of changes in brigades with NATO armament such as the 47th, changes resulting from Russia’s dominance of airspace thanks to its fleet of reconnaissance drones and bombers: “The usefulness of the Leopard [German tanks] on the front line is now nil, they don’t last.” In an article published on Saturday, military officers consulted by The New York Times said that the 47th Brigade lost several U.S. Abrams tanks in Avdiivka because they do not have sufficient short-range anti-aircraft defenses against drones.

    This isn’t the war that Putin launched in 2022. This isn’t the war that NATO spent decades training to fight for. This is something new. And Ukraine needs not only new weapons, but new tactics if it is going to win this fight.
    ——————————
    [Tweets, maps and videos showing russian losses.]

  204. says

    Retailers fled. Trump’s landmark tower is now a cheap, empty, closed-off New York embarrassment

    Even Trump’s websites lie. The internet home of Trump Tower is a work of fiction. If you click the “Retail” tab, the link invites you to “EXPLORE OUR IMPRESSIVE PORTFOLIO OF RETAIL TENANTS.” A picture boasts that Gucci, Tiffany, and Starbucks have set up shop there.

    The claim is 33% correct. Gucci is still there. Tiffany, which was never in Trump Tower — it was temporarily in a Trump building around the corner on 57th St — returned to its historic store a year ago. Starbucks left in 2022. Besides, why would Starbucks be under “Retail” when the site has a “Dining” option? In addition, what other supposedly luxury retail destination features an overpriced coffee shop as an anchor destination?

    The Dining section is headlined by the “Trump Cafe.” However, you cannot eat there. It is closed for renovations. Trump promises a reopening in the spring. But if you believe that, you might be a MAGA.

    The chief retail tenant is the Trump Store — where you can buy his second-rate branded merchandise at a premium. How about a scented candle for $48? Mother’s Day is in two weeks. No? Wise choice. For less expensive schlock, you can go to the Trump gift shop. Which, for some reason, features campaign merch from 2020 — and looks like it would be at home in a train station.

    However, you can no longer patronize Ivanka’s jewelry store. She bailed in 2017.

    The facility itself is a shadow of its past glory. The Trump Organization website hyperventilates: “One of the most notable features of Trump Tower is the breath-taking 60-foot waterfall embellishing the eastern wall of the building.” Sadly, the building has turned the water off. So you must use your imagination while staring at a tall wall.

    As part of a deal with the City in which Trump was allowed to increase the building’s square footage, he included two public terraces. They are now closed to the public. The smaller, still visible interior space is straggly and untended. The large glass doors that once opened onto the second, grander terrace are now mirrored over and locked.

    The currency exchange behind Trump as he descended the escalator to make his announcement in 2015 is no more. Its space stands empty, collecting dust – a bleak reminder that no one wants it.

    And nothing screams elegance like a plastic garbage can and a baby’s chair.

    Trump lied about the size of his apartment in Trump Tower — it is 11,000 sq ft, not 30,000. He lied about the height of the building — it is 58 stories, not 68. And on his website, he lies about the view. The picture below was taken from somewhere on Central Park South. Trump Tower is three blocks south of the Park on the other side of 5th Ave.

    Trump Tower was always ugly. The exterior design is derivative and boring. The public spaces were designed to appeal to an unimaginative and esthetically challenged, outer-borough boy with the taste of an Albanian crime boss.

    The only people who would appreciate it are people who cannot afford to live there. Although, if they wait for a second, the desperate owners of Trump Tower apartments may soon take ‘any reasonable offer’.

    Many photos are available at the link.

    As far as I know, closing off some of those public spaces is illegal.

  205. says

    President Biden’s remarks at the 2024 White House Correspondent’s Dinner:

    […] In this year’s speech Biden took on drumpf, Fox News, and the NY Times. He also spoke movingly about the importance of journalists and saluted the sacrifices of the best of them.

    Link

    Video at the link.

    Excerpt from a more serious part of the speech:

    “The defeated former president has made no secret of his attack on our democracy. He said he wants to be a dictator on day one, and so much more. He tells supporters he is their revenge and retribution. When in God’s name you ever heard another president say something like that?” Biden said.

    He continued, “And he promised a bloodbath when he loses again. We have to take this seriously. Eight years ago, you could’ve written [it] off as just Trump talk but no longer. Not after January 6. I’m sincerely not asking you to take sides, but ask you to rise up to the seriousness of the moment. Move past the horse race numbers, the gotcha moments.”

    Other Biden quotes:

    “MY Vice President actually endorses me.”

    “”Yes, there is an age issue; I’m a grown man… I’m a grown man… running against a six year old”

    “Now to all my friends in the Press.. and Fox News…”

  206. says

    Fox News is lying about Trump’s trial

    David Pecker, long-time publisher of the National Enquirer and Donald Trump’s close friend, spent hours on the witness stand last week.

    With the relaxed demeanor of a jovial grandfather, Pecker described how, in 2015, he, candidate Trump, and Michael Cohen met to discuss how they could influence the outcome of the 2016 election. During that meeting, they conspired to hide harmful news, and to embellish fake news to disparage Trump’s rivals.

    All was done, Pecker testified, with the express and stated intention of promoting Trump’s candidacy for U.S. President.

    Pecker’s testimony revealed a conspiracy to interfere in the 2106 election

    Pecker’s testimony made clear that habitually calling the case a “hush money” trial is sloppy journalism. The case is about Trump’s conspiracy to violate federal election laws in 2016. Paying hush money to a porn star is legal; falsifying business records to hide illegal campaign contributions is not.

    Trump, Pecker and Cohen paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to “kill” news that could hurt Trump’s campaign, without reporting those payments to the FEC as the campaign contributions they were. As part of the same conspiracy, Trump and Pecker also manufactured fake stories to damage Trump’s political rivals, like Trump’s claim that Ted Cruz’s father was involved with the assassination of JFK.

    Federal rules on this question aren’t complicated: Under FEC rules, which are federal law, “anything of value given, loaned or advanced to influence a federal election” is considered a campaign contribution. All such political contributions are subject to the Federal Election Campaign Act’s source prohibitions; they are also legally subject to the Act’s amount limitations.

    […] nowhere under federal election law can an individual or a candidate advance hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid a campaign without reporting it.

    Killing the Stormy Daniels story fit Trump’s pattern

    The crux of the current case is Trump’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels to kill her story about their tryst in 2006, just after his wife gave birth to their son Barron. Trump similarly conspired to kill a story from Karen McDougal, a Playboy model Trump referred to as “our girl.” Pecker’s arrangement with McDougal went beyond a simple payment to “catch-and-kill” her story about Trump; it also guaranteed McDougal the opportunity to publish her fitness columns with the National Enquirer’s parent company, and included a guarantee of two magazine covers.

    Pecker testified under oath that the agreement with McDougal was intentionally disguised as a “contract for services” in an effort to circumvent campaign finance laws. Pecker said he feared at the time that what they were doing violated federal law, and he was worried about it. He said he told Cohen as much, but Cohen was unfazed because, “Jeff Sessions is the attorney general and Donald Trump has him in his pocket.”

    Fox News models the National Enquirer
    Anyone hoping Pecker’s explosive evidence will inform Trump’s supporters will be sorely disappointed, because, thanks to Fox News, they will never know about it.

    In a trial exposing how Trump used fake news to get elected in 2016, Fox News continues to peddle the same fake news, to further the same agenda.

    Despite paying nearly $800,000,000 for admittedly lying to viewers about the 2020 election, Fox continues to falsely portray Trump’s trial, while embellishing stories like the “border invasion” to harm Trump’s political rivals. During voir dire, Jesse Watters, a Fox News commentator, announced on Fox that “They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury,” painting Trump as a victim of the “deep state.” There was, and remains, no evidence of liberal activists trying to get on the jury.

    On the night of Pecker’s shocking testimony, which made headlines across nearly all main stream outlets, Foxnews.com didn’t cover it at all. The only trial-related news Fox ran called the trial an “historic mistake,” based on an editorial that was written prior to Pecker’s testimony. Fox buried all pertinent facts about Pecker’s testimony, substituting facts with fake news and spin just as Pecker and Trump did in 2016.. […]

  207. says

    Colin Jost’s remarks at the Correspondents’ Dinner:

    After the screen showed clips of Jost’s work as a young reporter himself in high school, the comedian seized the opportunity to poke fun at Biden over his age.

    “You can’t do it for President Biden because the technology wasn’t invented when he was in high school,” Jost quipped. “It’s not really fair.”

    The SNL comedian also turned his sights to Trump, who is currently occupied in his first criminal hush money trial in New York where he faced 34 felony counts
    .
    “Good evening, everyone, I’m Colin Jost and I’ll be delivering the Republican response,” he quipped. “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have a lot of time I need to get back to New York because I’m juror number five on a big trial. Trump’s lawyer took one look at me and he’s like he’s got to be on our side.”

    Jost also threw shots at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), including poking fun at previous allegations that the congressman had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

    “We are all here tonight at Nerd prom,” Jost said. “Well, Matt Gaetz is at regular prom, but I actually thought I saw Matt Gaetz here tonight but it was actually just my own reflection in a spoon.

    News networks were also not off limits during Jost’s performance.

    “Fox News is here tonight. It’s the end of an era Rupert Murdoch stepped down at Fox News which is strange, I didn’t think there was a step down from Fox News,” Jost said while cracking a brief laugh.

    “Wordle is here tonight. Sorry, sorry. I meant The New York Times. I forgot they do stuff in addition to puzzles,” Jost said. “I have to say it’s not a great sign when the only thing keeping a print media company alive are games people play on their phones…too chilling for you guys, room just froze faster than Mitch McConnell.”

    […] After a few more digs towards Biden and Trump, he went after the independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    “By the way, President Biden, isn’t it crazy that he’s only our second Catholic president and what’s even crazier is that in just a few short months, we’ll have our third in RFK Jr,” Jost said. “I am kidding, like his vaccine card says he doesn’t have a shot.”

    “In closing, I would really like to take a moment to recognize all the print journalists in this room,” Jost said. “Your words speak truth to power. Your words bring light to the darkness and most importantly, your words train the AI programs that will soon replace you.”

    Jost also praised Biden, calling him a “decent man.”

    Link

  208. says

    You may have noticed that in recent weeks, the Biden administration has been rolling out a hell of a lot of new regulations. Earlier this month it was big student loan reforms and a massive improvement in how public lands are managed, then this week we had better pay and working conditions for working Americans, minimum staffing ratios for nursing homes, and even improved service on airlines.

    That’s not only because it’s an election year, though Joe & Kamala certainly do like to point out that where the Other Guy rages (and wants to raise inflation!) they’ve been busy making Americans’ lives better. But the bigger reason is that the administration wants to get new rules finalized prior to May, to keep them from being tossed out in the next Congress via the Congressional Review Act, which Donald Trump and his cronies used to reverse a bunch of Barack Obama’s environmental regulations.

    The administration has also been busy on climate and energy, what with new EPA vehicle emissions standards, a big $7 billion grant program — announced on Earth Day — to get solar power to almost a million low-income households, and on Thursday, a pair of big policy announcements that will significantly ramp up the transition to clean power by 1) cutting emissions from power plants, and 2) beefing up the power grid so clean energy can be transmitted from where it’s generated to where it’s needed.

    Emissions from the power sector account for about a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second-biggest source of our emissions (after transportation). Electric power used to be the top source of emissions, before power plants began switching to fossil gas, which is much cleaner. As a result, total US greenhouse emissions peaked in 2007 and have been declining ever since, although not quickly enough to meet our Paris climate agreement commitment. Renewables, especially solar, are increasingly beating fossil gas on price, but we’ll need regulations and incentives to give the energy transition a push in order to meet Biden’s commitment to decarbonizing electric power by 2035 and getting the nation to net zero emissions by 2050.

    Because there’s a ton of explainering to do, we’ll look at the emissions-cutting rules today, and follow that up with a separate piece on the goodie bag of grid improvements. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/joe-biden-has-another-big-fcking

    Details concerning power plant emissions are available at the link.

    Details related to dirty energy companies filing lawsuits, and why they are not likely to succeed, are available at the link.

  209. says

    Followup to comment 283.

    More jokes Biden told:

    “Did you hear what Donald just said about a major civil war battle? Quote, ‘Gettysburg. Wow.’ Trump’s speech was so embarrassing, the statue of Robert E. Lee surrendered again.”

    “Trump is so desperate he started reading those Bibles he’s selling. And he got to the first commandment: You shall have no other god before me. That’s when he put it down and said this book is not for me.”

  210. says

    Followup to comment 285.

    Colin Jost jokes:

    “Can we just acknowledge how refreshing it is to see a president of the United States at an event that doesn’t begin with a bailiff saying ‘all rise’?”

    “My Weekend Update co-anchor Michael Che was going to join me here tonight, but in solidarity with President Biden, I decided to lose all my Black support. Che told me to say that, and I’m just realizing I was set up.”

    “The Correspondents’ Association provides scholarships to promising young journalism students who may one day be sent off to cover dangerous geopolitical hot spots like Columbia University.”

  211. says

    Right-wing media defend those indicted in Arizona fake electors scheme through false comparisons and debunked election-fraud claims

    On April 24, a grand jury charged 11 Arizona Republicans and seven of Trump’s former top aides in connection with a scheme to submit fake electors in the 2020 election. The indictments allege that following his loss in the 2020 election, Trump and his team “devised a plan to recruit fake electors to replace legitimate presidential electors in key battleground states and reverse Trump’s loss,” as USA Today explained it. Trump and his then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani reportedly pressured the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives to swap in electors for Trump based on unfounded claims of voter fraud. [USA Today, 4/25/24; PBS, 4/25/24]

    Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced the indictment, which alleges that the fake electors and Trump aides were trying to prevent “the lawful transfer of the presidency of the United States, keeping President Donald J. Trump in office against the will of Arizona voters, and depriving Arizona voters of their right to vote and have their votes counted.” [Arizona Republic, 4/24/24]

    Right-wing media promoted the fake electors ploy back in 2020 and have continued to target Arizona with election fraud conspiracy theories ever since, despite a lack of evidence that the election was stolen. Some media figures even responded to the indictment with unfounded claims that Mayes was not legitimately elected. [Media Matters, 4/25/24, 12/2/22, 11/17/22, 11/8/22; The Associated Press, 9/24/21, The Hill, 12/29/22]

    Media figures have falsely compared the indictment to other historical events as justifications for the scheme, including comparing the situation to Hawaii’s legitimately disputed vote count in the 1960 presidential election. Unlike in the 1960 Hawaii scenario, Trump indisputably lost Arizona and appointed illegitimate electors after no state legislature or governor caved to his team’s pressure campaign, as there was no evidence of electoral fraud. [Media Matters, 8/4/23; Politico, 11/21/20]

    […] Newsmax’s Greg Kelly excused the fake elector ploy by claiming that it is “constitutional” and it “happens every election cycle.” He added: “Calling it a fake elector scheme is actually a fake scheme.” [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports, 4/24/24]

    Right-wing influencers the Hodgetwins claimed on X that “the alternate elector strategy could have worked IF Mike Pence had been a Patriot.” He continued, “But they had no intention of actually investigating the fraud, and Mike Pence is a uniparty clown, so we end up with Joe Biden and a collapsing country.” [Twitter/X, 4/24/24]

    BlazeTV’s Steve Deace posted on X, “How do you indict a bunch of people in Arizona over something that isn’t a crime?” He added: “The Constitution never demands that electors vote according to how their state popular vote does anyway. And Arizona is not a state that punitively binds its electors by statute, it simply vacates the votes of ‘faithless electors.’” [Twitter/X, 4/25/24]

    Right-wing radio host Mark Levin claimed on X that there was “nothing illegal” about the plot. He stated, “You’re allowed to have a second slate of electors and send them to the archivist who then presents them to Congress.” [Twitter/X, 4/25/24]

    […] Conservative pundit Bill Mitchell compared the fake electors scheme to Democrats’ allegations that there may have been Russian interference in the 2020 election. He wrote, “During Trump’s entire term. the Democrats called him an illegitimate president and that he only won through Russian collusion, all of which was false. No one was indicted for this.” [Twitter/X, 4/24/24]

    Right-wing media figure Benny Johnson compared the fake electors to celebrities who called for Republican electors in the 2020 election to not vote for Trump. He wrote, “Looking forward to the Attorney General of Arizona indicting half of Hollywood. ‘It’s ok when we do it…’ Scum” [Twitter/X, 4/24/24]

    […] Former Tucker Carlson Tonight writer Blake Neff also made the comparison to the 1960 Hawaii election and claimed it set precedent that “all the Republican alternate electors were looking towards when they did this.” He then claimed that the indictments resemble what would happen “in crappy African countries.” [Rumble, Thoughtcrime, 4/25/24]

    […] Article III Project’s Will Chamberlain parroted a debunked claim about voter tabulation issues on X. He posted, “On the actual planet earth, Maricopa had a ton of voting machine malfunctioning on Election Day which in fact suppressed the votes of Arizonans.” [Twitter/X, 4/24/24]

    […] Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon resorted to claiming that Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes was not legitimately elected, inviting her former opponent Abraham Hamadeh on his show and referring to Hamadeh as the “legitimate attorney general of the state of Arizona.” Hamadeh responded, “This is clearly a fake, illegitimate attorney general.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 4/24/24]

    Conservative judicial activist Mike Davis posted on X that “Democrat Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, who unquestionably stole her 2022 election by disenfranchising voters on Election Day, just indicted President Trump’s White House chief of staff, several attorneys, and many others for lawfully challenging the 2020 presidential election.” […]

  212. says

    Politico released a report about the “petty feud” between The New York Times and the White House that includes one staffer’s claim that Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger “quietly encourages … tough reporting” on President Joe Biden’s age because Biden hasn’t sat for an interview with the paper.

    Media Matters data shows that the Times mentioned Biden’s age more than any other of the top five U.S. newspapers by circulation over a five-month period last year. The Times was also less likely than three of those other papers to mention former President Donald Trump’s age when mentioning Biden’s. […]

    Link

    Personal animus, pettiness.

  213. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Buddy sap’ is no friend to maple syrup producers. Now local researchers have a test for it

    A new test developed by researchers at Carleton University to detect low-quality sap is being hailed as a solution to prevent thousands of litres of maple syrup from going down the drain every spring.

    Bad sap is referred to as “buddy sap,” and it’s almost impossible to detect before it’s turned into syrup, said Brian Barkley, the owner of Barkleyvale Farms in Chesterville, Ont.

    “You can’t taste it, you can’t smell it, you can’t see it. It only appears after you’ve done all the work of boiling it all down,” said Barkley, who’s run the farm since 1974.

    The resulting syrup tastes like a “burnt Tootsie Roll,” he said…

    Developed by the Laboratory for Aptamer Discovery and Development of Emerging Research (LADDER) at Carleton, the test involves using a strip similar to a COVID or pregnancy test.

    The strip is placed in the sap sample and left for two minutes, after which one or two lines will appear. Two lines indicate the sample is clean. One indicates it’s buddy and can’t be turned into maple syrup…

  214. Reginald Selkirk says

    Kansas legislators send governor bill extending child support to fetuses at point of conception

    The Kansas Legislature sent Gov. Laura Kelly a bill directing the judicial system to recognize child-support claims on behalf of fetuses from conception to birth.

    The legislation introduced on behalf of faith-based Kansas Family Voice and endorsed by anti-abortion lobbying organizations was described by a supporter as “simple and short” and by a critic as “very dangerous.”

    It wouldn’t authorize child-support payments for medical expenses incurred during pregnancy if the woman received an “elective” abortion. The exception in Senate Bill 232 would be if an abortion was performed to save the life of a pregnant woman…

  215. John Morales says

    More proof that you don’t have to be smart to be rich in today’s world.

    You don’t have to be smart to be rich, but it helps.

  216. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #293, John Morales @ #294…
    It helps to be smart if you’re rich and want to STAY rich.

  217. birgerjohansson says

    If Musk was to invest into building a retro transport I suspect it would be a gold-plated Junkers 52/3m or Focke-Wulff 200.
    Myself I would choose a zeppelin. With helium.

  218. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 293
    With ‘crazy billionaire money’ I would go for something like what Zorin was flying around in, while planning the destruction of California.

    Or I would make the film Atlas Shrugged, but as a satirical comedy. With Rowan Atkinson as Galt.

  219. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 298
    You gave me an idea- for puissance I will build a real-world vehicle like the one in Jules Verne’s Master of the World .

    “Robur has perfected a new machine, which he has dubbed the Terror. It is a ten-meter long vehicle, capable of operating as a speedboat, submarine, automobile, or aircraft. It can travel at the (then) unheard of speed of 150 miles per hour on land and at more than 200 mph when flying.”
    Wikipedia.

  220. birgerjohansson says

    Myself @ 301
    This is a must-have for after the apocalypse, when the libertarians think they will be Tina Turner in Bartertown.

  221. birgerjohansson says

    A good idea USA ought to copy.

    “The EU’s ‘right to repair’ rule is truly radical – British builders should copy it wholesale” | Phineas Harper | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/apr/29/eu-right-to-repair-rule-british-builders-should-copy

    “Stunning police brutality will ignite a student anti-war movement in America” | Joan Donovan | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/apr/29/police-brutality-university-protest
    The bastards never read history.

  222. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 305

    A good idea USA ought to copy.

    In this country, if it’s a good idea that will help consumers, then you can be sure that it will NEVER be enacted. The millionaires and billionionaires who run this country would never let anything hurt their profits. That’s how capitalism works.

  223. Reginald Selkirk says

    A coal billionaire is building the world’s biggest clean energy plant and it’s five times the size of Paris
    Paris, Texas, or Paris, Idaho? Anyway:

    Five times the size of Paris. Visible from space. The world’s biggest energy plant. Enough electricity to power Switzerland.

    The scale of the project transforming swathes of barren salt desert on the edge of western India into one of the most important sources of clean energy anywhere on the planet is so overwhelming that the man in charge can’t keep up.

    “I don’t even do the math any more,” Sagar Adani told CNN in an interview last week.

    Adani is executive director of Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL). He’s also the nephew of Gautam Adani, Asia’s second richest man, whose $100 billion fortune stems from the Adani Group, India’s biggest coal importer and a leading miner of the dirty fuel. Founded in 1988, the conglomerate has businesses in fields ranging from ports and thermal power plants to media and cements.

    Its clean energy unit AGEL is building the sprawling solar and wind power plant in the western Indian state of Gujarat at a cost of about $20 billion. It will be the world’s biggest renewable park when it is finished in about five years, and should generate enough clean electricity to power 16 million Indian homes…

  224. birgerjohansson says

    “Iranian authority undermined after death sentence for rapper sparks global protests” | Iran | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/apr/29/iranian-authority-undermined-after-death-sentence-for-toomaj-salehi-rapper-sparks-global-protests

    “Met police to pay ‘five-figure sum’ to French publisher arrested under anti-terror laws” | UK security and counter-terrorism | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/apr/29/met-police-to-pay-five-figure-sum-to-french-publisher-arrested-under-anti-terror-laws

  225. KG says

    Humza Yousaf has resigned as SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland. He seems to have been unwilling to pay the price for support from the sole MSP for the breakaway Alba Party – Ash Regan, otherwise known as Alex Salmond’s representative on Earth. That meant the VONC (Vote of No Confidence) in him as First Minister would pass by 65 to 63, with all opposition parties voting for it. The SNP now have to choose a new leader, who will need to be able to get the support of at least one MSP from another party. There seems to be a move to draft John Swinney, who was leader once before, in the hopes of papering over the cracks (between progressives and reactionaries) in the SNP, at least until after the UK election sometime this year.

  226. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohansson @ #304…
    Now if they can do a similar root cause discovery for ALS….

  227. birgerjohansson says

    Whheydt @ 313
    Yes, ALS, Alzheimers and cancer are the three diseases that so far have escaped a deeper understanding of causes. I have hopes that AI and other new technologies may speed up the pace of diacovery.

  228. KG says

    “People with depression or anxiety could lose sickness benefits, says UK minister” – birgerjohansson@308 quoting the Guardian

    Well, that threat will improve their symptoms, won’t it?,

  229. birgerjohansson says

    KG @ 316
    I think it was in Monthy Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life’ where staff in The Ronald Reagan Mental Hospital were beating the patients ‘for their own good’.
    (Or was that some other satirical film? I do not recall every detail of films from 40 years ago)

  230. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hubble Space Telescope has gyro problems again

    The Hubble Space Telescope has celebrated the 34th anniversary of its launch in the traditional way: by entering safe mode due to an ongoing gyroscope issue.

    The NASA / ESA observatory is living on borrowed time, having closed 2023 with a gyro glitch that meant science operations had to be suspended. The problem was resolved, but it appears that issues have returned for the wayward gyro, and the spacecraft was once again dropped into safe mode while engineers search for a fix.

    The Hubble and its instruments remain healthy, but the team had to suspend science operations…

  231. Reginald Selkirk says

    Elon Musk loses at Supreme Court in case over “funding secured” tweets

    The US Supreme Court today rejected Elon Musk’s attempt to terminate his settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Musk appealed to the Supreme Court in December 2023, claiming the settlement he agreed to in 2018 forced him to “waive his First Amendment rights to speak on matters ranging far beyond the charged violations.” The SEC settlement requires Musk to get pre-approval from a Tesla securities lawyer for tweets or other social media posts that may contain information material to the company or its shareholders.

    The Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, leaving an appeals court ruling against Musk intact. The top court denied Musk’s petition without comment Monday morning in a list of orders…

    He needs to buy Clarence Thomas a bigger RV.

  232. says

    Summarized by Steve Benen from an Associated Press article:

    The five Republicans running in Georgia’s 3rd congressional district met yesterday for a debate, and the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they thought Trump won the state, despite the official election results. All five raised their hands.

    Link

    Video at the link.

  233. says

    NBC News:

    Former Rep. Peter Meijer, who lost his House seat after voting to impeach then-President Donald Trump, has dropped out of a crowded Republican Senate primary in Michigan. Angela Benander, a spokesperson for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, confirmed to NBC News that Meijer withdrew his candidacy ahead of a Friday afternoon deadline.

    Trump:

    Congratulations to all Good Republicans! Peter Meijer, one of the 10 Impeachers of your Favorite President, ME, and someone thought of to have a very good political future, has just withdrawn from the Senate Race in the Great State of Michigan. Once he raised his very little and delicate hand to Impeach President Trump, his Political Career was OVER! … Happily, the 10 Impeachers are just about gone.

    Commentary:

    […] For now, let’s not dwell on the fact that it’s deeply weird to see Trump talk about others having “very little” hands given his own difficulties on the issue.

    Rather, let’s focus on the former president’s preoccupation with the fate of the Impeachment 10.

    […] when Trump was impeached for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, it resulted in the most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history. Against a backdrop in which Republicans seemed eager to move on from their failed, defeated president, 10 GOP House members voted with the Democratic majority in favor of the impeachment resolution, and they had every reason to believe they’d be vindicated by history.

    […] As the defeated, scandal-plagued, failed former president reclaimed control over the party, and “leaders” — I’m using the word loosely — such as Kevin McCarthy scurried to Mar-a-Lago to bend the knee, members of the Impeachment 10 came to realize that it didn’t matter that they were right. What mattered was that much of their radicalized political party wouldn’t tolerate their heresy, which would overshadow other parts of their careers in public service.

    Some saw the direction in the prevailing winds and decided to avoid the indignity of defeat. It’s why four members of the contingent — Ohio’s Anthony Gonzalez, New York’s John Katko, Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger, and Michigan’s Fred Upton — announced their retirements before the 2022 primary season even began in earnest.

    Four more thought they could maintain the trust of the voters who’d elected them in the first place:
    – In South Carolina, Rep. Tom Rice was crushed in a primary, losing by more than 26 points to a Republican primary rival who insisted that the 2020 election was “rigged.” (It was not rigged.)
    – In Michigan, Meijer suffered a relatively narrow loss in a GOP primary to John Gibbs.
    – In the state of Washington, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler lost her primary race to Joe Kent, who, according to an Associated Press report, has “connections to right-wing extremists, including a campaign consultant who was a member of the Proud Boys.”
    – In Wyoming, Rep. Liz Cheney suffered a lopsided defeat to a Trump-backed lawyer who embraced the Big Lie.

    Two of these four — Gibbs and Kent — ended up losing in the 2022 general elections, allowing Democrats to flip the seats.

    As for the other two members of the Impeachment 10, California’s David Valadao narrowly won his re-election bid in 2022, while Washington’s Dan Newhouse cruised to a landslide victory two years ago. Trump has largely left Valadao alone […]

    Link

  234. says

    From the “funny if not so awful” category:

    One of the great things about Laurie Roberts’ columns in The Arizona Republic is that she has a knack for summarizing multifaceted political stories in a straightforward ways. Consider the lede, for example, in Roberts’ latest piece.

    The Arizona Republican Party on Saturday sent a flat out, full-throated, flabbergasting message to the voters of this great state. We be crazy, they proclaimed. Party officials, during their state convention, elected none other than indicted Sen. Jake Hoffman and expelled Rep. Liz Harris to represent Arizona on the Republican National Committee.

    For those outside of Arizona, Hoffman and Harris are probably unfamiliar figures, though there are plenty of reasons the Arizona GOP sent a “we be crazy” message with its latest selections for the Republican National Committee.

    Harris, for example, is a former state legislator who, as NBC News reported, “was expelled from the Legislature a year ago after she invited an election denier to provide testimony laced with unsubstantiated allegations at a televised legislative hearing on elections.”

    It’s likely that Republican officials in Arizona chose Harris for the RNC role, not despite this record, but because of it.

    Hoffman, meanwhile, is an even more amazing case. In fact, regular Rachel Maddow Show viewers might remember his face, even if they don’t remember his name.

    In January 2022, about a year after Hoffman served as a fake elector in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, an Arizona Republic reporter caught up with the GOP state senator and asked him how we came to participate in the allegedly illegal partisan scheme. The brief interview did not go well for the lawmaker. [video at the link]

    This, of course, was the same Hoffman who, on Jan. 5, 2021, sent a letter urging then-Vice President Mike Pence to delay the counting of Arizona’s electors and to “seek clarification from the Arizona legislature as to which slate of electors were proper and accurate.” (Earlier, Hoffman was also allegedly involved in a scheme to pay teenagers to create bogus social-media accounts pushing messages intended to undermine public confidence in the elections.)

    More than two years later, Hoffman was among the 18 Republicans indicted by the state attorney general’s office as part of the fake-elector scheme, which included allegations of conspiracy, fraud, and forgery.

    Two days after Hoffman was charged, the Arizona GOP thought it’d be a good idea to elevate Hoffman to the Republican National Committee.

    “These are not just your run-of-the-mill election deniers,” Barrett Marson, a Republican strategist in Arizona, told NBC News in reference to Hoffman and Harris. “They are leaders in the whole experiment of election denialism.”

    Or as Roberts’ column concluded, “So this then, is really who the Arizona Republican Party is now: An all-out conspiracy kook and a troll farmer-turned-indicted fake elector.”

    President Joe Biden narrowly carried Arizona four years ago, and Democrats fared even better in the state in the 2022 elections, which should’ve been a wake-up call to the state GOP that it needed to be less radical and less eager to alienate mainstream voters. The party appears to have missed the message.

    Link

  235. says

    With all the other news last week, you may have missed the withering treatment Donald Trump received from the federal judge in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case.

    U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected Trump’s motion for a new trial and upheld the $83 million damages award in Carroll’s favor. In doing so, the judge raked Trump over the coals for his ongoing defamation of Carroll, his repeated instances of defamation, and his demeanor during the trial.

    […] The judge rejected Trump’s use of comparable cases to argue that the compensatory damages awarded Carroll were excessive: “None of these prior examples involved publication of defamations as widespread and destructive as Mr. Trump’s defamation of Ms. Carroll, and none involved a publisher of defamation who was a president of the United States or anyone nearly as high-profile.”

    But it was Trump’ conduct in court that drew the most ire from the judge. In finding that the punitive damages awarded Carroll were appropriate, the judge wrote:

    But beyond his out-of-court statements disparaging Ms. Carroll during trial — many of which were introduced in evidence — the jury could have found that Mr. Trump’s demeanor and conduct in the courtroom itself put his hatred and disdain on full display. Mr. Trump could be heard repeatedly complaining to his counsel about the proceedings, so much so that plaintiff’s counsel twice requested that the Court instruct him to stop. In particular, during Ms. Carroll’s testimony, Mr. Trump could be heard making audible comments that Ms. Carroll’s testimony was false, that the proceedings were a “witch hunt” and a “con job,” and most notably, that his earlier statements disparaging Ms. Carroll were “true.” And, most dramatically, mere minutes after plaintiff’s counsel began her closing argument, Mr. Trump conspicuously stood and walked out of the courtroom for no apparent reason save to evidence his disapproval, though he was present again when Court resumed later that morning and remained for his own counsel’s entire summation.

    This case will be wending its way through appeals for a while, so don’t expect Carroll to begin collecting on her judgment any time soon.

    Link

  236. tomh says

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
    Wisconsin Republicans recruiting legion of monitors to observe polls, set stage for lawsuits
    Molly Beck / April 29, 2024

    MADISON – The Republican National Committee and Trump campaign plan to deploy tens of thousands of volunteers and attorneys to monitor and challenge voting processes in battleground states, including Wisconsin — an effort rooted in the former president’s false election claims, characterized as safeguarding from “Democrat tricks from 2020.”

    GOP officials say they plan to recruit 100,000 people nationwide to observe election processes and voting, an expansion of typical activities for political parties in election years. The party’s rhetoric surrounding the plans, however, describes the program as a solution to former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss that has been confirmed in Wisconsin by judges, recounts, studies and audits.

    “The Democrat tricks from 2020 won’t work this time. In 2024 we’re going to beat the Democrats at their own game and the RNC legal team will be working tirelessly to ensure that elections officials follow the rules in administering elections. We will aggressively take them to court if they don’t follow rules or try to change them at the last minute,” Charlie Spies, RNC chief counsel, said in a statement.

    “The political team will be working to ensure a huge victory for Republicans at all levels, and RNC legal is committed to making sure that victory can’t be rigged.”
    […]

    In a recent training session conducted by state GOP officials, the party’s election integrity director Mike Hoffman said a focus would be placed on Democratic population centers like Eau Claire, Madison and Milwaukee, and recounted telling one clerk the party would be “keeping a close eye on you,”….

    A spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin did not answer questions about whether the party’s monitoring efforts would extend to non-Democratic-leaning areas.
    […]

  237. says

    Timothy Snyder:

    Right-wing justices postulate Trump’s “immunity.” The objection is that this makes him a king. Not so. It’s much worse.

    A king can be subject to law. Even George III was subject to law. The American Revolution was justified by the notion that he had overstepped the law.

    This discussion of immunity is something else.

    The justices are not discussing any constitutional system at all, including a constitutional monarchy.

    Justices are instead flirting with the idea that a single person can be outside any constitutional system, outside the rule of law as such. What justices seem to find charismatic is dictatorship, specifically fascist dictatorship. It is making an exception for a person that attracts them.

    That is the basis of Nazi legal theory (Carl Schmitt). The law and the constitution are just there so we can find the person, the Leader, the Führer, who breaks them, who makes an exception.

    https://twitter.com/TimothyDSnyder/status/1784607868164984992

    Commentary:

    […] Snyder then noted that he wasn’t making any specific claims that the justices “read Schmitt” — but that their “affinity for fascist law” is “troubling”.

    The point here, being: “immunity” isn’t simply making a president (and in this case, an ex-President and all future presidents) a “king” — it’s placing them beyond even that which kings are subject to.

    Fascism coming to America would no longer be a mere specter — a barricade or position from which we fight to protect our Democracy from the threat of those who would seek fascism here; it will have arrived. We would, from that point on, exist behind enemy lines. And existing there, we may find ourselves, as a people now all-but powerless against tyranny, longing even for the days of kings — who were, beneath their crowns, at least subject to the law.

    Link

  238. says

    Climate change is scary now. It will be terrifying under Trump

    […] Put simply, Project 2025 is literally a working paper for abandoning the environment and accelerating the process of climate change where any efforts to reverse or mitigate that process will be futile. In the coming months, as Americans continue to be subjected to Trump’s familiar visage and trademark scowl, those plans, and not simply his many scandals and crimes, should be going through their minds. Because what Trump and his enablers plan will have permanent, devastating effects, impacting not only those alive now, but well into the foreseeable future.

    Trump’s plan to fundamentally reorder the federal government into a tool designed to maximize corporate profits at the expense of the environment has been detailed over and over in media accessible to all Americans.

    In practice, however, the mass media does not prioritize environmental concerns until disaster strikes, when a drought, flood or wildfire, for example, suddenly becomes national news. […] most Americans have no idea of the Biden administration’s considerable efforts and accomplishments toward protecting the environment and combatting climate change. Likewise, they are equally unaware of Trump’s plan to erase those accomplishments and permanently hobble any future efforts to preserve the environment.

    […] the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 initial objective would be the complete evisceration of nearly all of the Biden administration’s environmental efforts. As Markley writes:

    The report recommends a repeal of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act, which would shred the tax credits that have led to hundreds of billions of dollars in investments in clean energy, the jump-starting of factory openings and the creation of jobs in virtually every corner of the country. Also lost will be investments in environmental justice, those measures that aim to reduce pollution in marginalized communities, provide affordable clean energy and create jobs in low-income neighborhoods. As for electric cars, which are critical to meeting the nation’s climate goals, the report recommends an end to all federal mandates and subsidies.

    A second Trump administration would most likely grant permits for fossil fuel drilling and pipelines basically anywhere it has the say-so, scrap the methane fee on oil and gas producers and dismantle new pollution limits on cars, trucks and power plants. It would almost certainly revoke California’s waiver to approve higher standards under the Clean Air Act, seek repeal of the Antiquities Act used to protect endangered landscapes and attempt to gut the Endangered Species Act.

    But as noted by Frederick Hewitt, writing for NPR affiliate WBUR, the decimation of the Biden administration’s climate and clean energy initiatives is just one facet of the overarching scheme by conservatives to wholly reverse the nation’s progress up to this point.

    The underlying intent is actually to abandon all efforts at mitigating climate change whatsoever:

    “It emphatically repudiates efforts to decarbonize the economy and is a wholesale reversal of the progress made on climate policy over recent years.”

    The authors of the mandate … maintain the world’s best course of action is to abandon the idea of a green energy transition, continue the unabated exploitation of fossil fuels, and deal with the ensuing consequences, which they say will be “mild and manageable.” Without this dubious tenet, their program is incoherent.

    It may be difficult to conceive the degree of fantasy and magical thinking that permeates such nihilistic ideology, but it can be traced directly back to Trump’s handling of COVID-19. It incorporates the same outright rejection of science, the same prioritization of immediate political gain, and the same wholesale disregard of the public health that informed the Trump administration’s pandemic policies. […]

    More at the link.

  239. says

    It’s been just over a week since workers at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted overwhelmingly to unionize. It’s a thrilling and historic result, chipping away at decades spent reducing the power of labor and breaking a metaphorical wall that had existed around southern auto plants.

    That display of union power clearly has Republicans and their business daddies worried.

    Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law to repress new unions in that state. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the law cuts any company that voluntarily recognizes a union out of participation in many large state contracts.

    The new law followed a statement from Kemp, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and four other southern governors, issued the day before the vote at the Volkswagen factory, warning workers that their jobs were in trouble if they voted for a union.

    “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,” reads the statement.

    What those values might be isn’t clear. Apparently, they don’t include the massive pay increases, improved job security, and elimination of a system where younger workers were paid less for doing the same job that were part of the new UAW contract.

    If Republican governors think they’re going to threaten workers into silence, they may have to find new things to say. Earlier this month, Mercedes workers at a plant in Alabama also called for a union vote.

    Link

    Other news is also covered at that link. Scroll down for the unionization discussion.

  240. says

    Last week, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wanted to talk about Gerald Ford’s decision to pardon Richard Nixon in 1974, but I don’t think he’s actually read it.

    Donald Trump’s immunity claims reached the U.S. Supreme Court last week, and during oral arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh — a Trump nominee — thought it’d be a good idea to bring up Gerald Ford’s decision to pardon Richard Nixon in 1974.

    The then-president’s decision, the conservative jurist said, was “very controversial in the moment.” Former Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, a member of special counsel Jack Smith’s team agreed.

    It was “hugely unpopular” and “probably why” Ford lost in 1976, Kavanaugh said, and again, Dreeben agreed.

    The justice then added, however, that Ford’s decision is now “looked upon as one of the better decisions in presidential history, I think, by most people.” Kavanaugh, kicking around the idea that presidents might need to be shielded, imagined whether Ford might’ve been concerned about facing an obstruction investigation for having interfered with prosecutors’ case against Nixon.

    In context, the justice’s point seemed to be that Ford did something courageous, and the Republican has been vindicated by history, but the then-president might not have taken this commendable step if he were concerned about possibly being held criminally liable — all of which, Kavanaugh suggested, speaks to the need for some kind of presidential immunity.

    But there are a handful of important problems with this.

    First, Ford made no claims to presidential immunity and faced no prosecutorial scrutiny in the wake of his Nixon pardon.

    Second, Kavanaugh’s claim that “most people” see Ford’s pardon as “one of the better decisions in presidential history” is unsupported by evidence. A Washington Post analysis last week noted that scholars and Americans in general do not necessarily hold Ford’s decision in such a high regard.

    And third, I’m curious about whether Kavanaugh has ever actually read Ford’s pardon.

    Perhaps the justice should’ve watched Rachel Maddow talk to Chris Hayes about this in February, when she explained why Ford’s pardon discredits the idea that the immunity argument somehow constitutes an open question. [video at the link] [Excerpt from the video: “Is presidential immunity really an open question? […] “This is B.S.—you were doing this as a dilatory tactic to help your political friend,” says @Maddow on SCOTUS. “And for you to say that this is something that the Court needs to decide because it’s something that’s unclear in the law is just flagrant, flagrant bullpucky.” [The entire video is just excellent]]

    From Ford’s pardon:

    “As a result of certain acts or omissions occurring before his resignation from the Office of President, Richard Nixon has become liable to possible indictment and trial for offenses against the United States. Whether or not he shall be so prosecuted depends on findings of the appropriate grand jury and on the discretion of the authorized prosecutor. Should an indictment ensue, the accused shall then be entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury, as guaranteed to every individual by the Constitution.”

    So let’s take stock. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in a case in which a corrupt and indicted former president, fearing legal consequences, is claiming absolute immunity. At least some of the justices treated the underlying question as legitimate and unresolved.

    It was against this backdrop that one of the justices chosen for the high court by the corrupt and indicted former president pointed to Ford’s pardon of Nixon — which largely answered the question that the jurist and his colleagues are pondering, by proving once and for all that a former president was subject to prosecution for alleged crimes he committed while in office.

  241. says

    I’ve said this elsewhere and I’ll say it again here: President Biden should call a press conference and say: “If the Supreme Court grants Trump the immunity he seeks, from any accountability for any crimes he committed while in office, I will immediately order the killing of all six Republican justices, starting with Thomas and Alito. And then I’ll resign the next day, knowing full well I won’t even lose my pension for it, let alone go to jail. This is what you are being asked to legalize.”

  242. says

    Raging Bee @334, we do not promote, condone or joke about violence against other human beings. Not on this thread. Not allowed on The Infinite Thread.

  243. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Court says state health-care plans can’t exclude gender-affirming surgery
    By Rachel Weiner / April 29, 2024

    A federal appellate court in Richmond became the first in the country to rule that state health-care plans must pay for gender-affirming surgeries, a major win for transgender rights amid a nationwide wave of anti-trans activism and legislation.

    The decision came from a set of cases out of North Carolina and West Virginia, where state officials argued that their policies were based on cost concerns rather than bias. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected that argument, saying the plans were discriminating against trans people in need of treatment.

    Judge Roger Gregory, writing for the majority, called the restrictions “obviously discriminatory” based on both sex and gender.

    It’s the second ruling in favor of trans rights this month from the 4th Circuit, a once-conservative court that has become a trailblazer in the realm of transgender rights. The court was the first to say trans students had a right to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity and the first to recognize gender dysphoria as a protected disability. Earlier this month, the court said a federally funded middle school could not ban a trans 13-year-old from playing on the girls’ track and field team.
    […]

    The ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court, which recently allowed Idaho to enforce a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. But the conservative-led court has been reluctant to engage on this issue, letting multiple 4th Circuit rulings in favor of transgender rights stand. The court also generally waits until there is disagreement between circuit courts before getting involved.

    Other states have banned hormonal treatment and surgery for trans minors; some have restricted care for transgender adults as well. Multiple other states have similar laws against insurance coverage for transition-related treatment.
    […]

    Twenty-one Republican-led states asked the court to rule against the plaintiffs, focusing on disagreement over what physical interventions should be available to trans youth. But most major medical plans and the federal government cover gender transition treatment, which has been endorsed by mainstream medical associations. Studies indicate very few people who transition regret doing so or seek to reverse the changes, including those who start treatment in their teens.

    Seventeen Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia urged the court to rule for the coverage, saying their “experience demonstrates that protecting access to gender-affirming care improves health outcomes for our transgender residents at little cost.”

  244. says

    One America News, the conservative network touted by former President Trump, retracted a story this week that falsely alleged an affair between Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

    The story, which has since been removed from the network’s website, cited a “whistleblower” who alleged Michael Avanetti, Daniels former attorney, had told them Cohen had an affair with the adult film actress.

    OAN “is taking it down from all sites and removing it from all social media,” the network said as part of its walk back.

    “This retraction is part of a settlement reached with Michael Cohen. Mr. Avenatti has denied making the allegations. OAN apologizes to Mr. Cohen for any harm the publication may have caused him,” the network said.

    Trump is on trial in New York City on charges he falsified business records to cover up a hush money payment to Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

    Trump has denied the affair with Daniels took place.

    OAN is a conservative outlet that briefly rose to prominence after Trump promoted the network around the time of the 2020 election.

    It has since been dropped by a number of major cable providers and has been sued by multiple voting machine providers over its coverage of Trump’s false claims of voter fraud.

    Did OAN think it could get away with that lie?

  245. says

    Six months ago, I spoke with a man named Elan Trybuch about a problem he was seeing online. He kept coming across different ebooks about mushroom foraging that looked somehow off. Off as in: maybe poisonous.

    The books were shorter than most foraging guides were, and way, way cheaper, says Trybuch. He’s a software engineer and volunteer secretary for the New York Mycological Society, a nonprofit devoted to “spreading knowledge, love and appreciation of fungi.” He knows mushrooms and he knows AI, and he thought the covers of these books were probably AI-generated.

    “They had mushroom structures that don’t quite make sense,” says Trybuch. They were the mycological equivalent of a picture of a hot blonde with six fingers and too many teeth.

    Most disturbing was the information inside the books was totally wrong. “They aren’t even giving you descriptions of real mushrooms. They’re giving you something completely made up,” Trybuch says. Any readers looking to try to use these books to figure out which mushrooms were safe to eat and which weren’t would be out of luck, which to Trybuch was seriously concerning. “It could literally mean life or death” if you eat the wrong mushroom, he says.

    The problem of very low-quality, very low-priced, probably at least partially AI-generated ebooks is not confined to mushroom foraging. Garbage ebooks have been a problem on Amazon for at least a decade, but — not unlike many strains of fungi — they’ve exploded over the last few years.

    […] None of these are actually books so much as book-shaped digital files, designed to be picked up in keyword searches and get clicked on in a hurry by someone a tiny bit distracted or not digitally savvy enough to notice what they’re doing.

    […] It turns out, though, that the people who make garbage ebooks mostly lose money.

    The real cash seems to come from the people who teach others the garbage ebook scheme. These teachers claim they’ve shared the key to a life of passive income, but their students say all their courses offer is demands for more and more money, with the ever-deferred promise to teach you the real secrets to easy money once you’ve paid just a few thousand more dollars.

    Even these grifters are not the real villains. They are often 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. They’ve built an ecosystem where all the incentives are to sell at high volume and low cost. In book production, the biggest cost-saving and time-saving measure you can take is cutting out the labor of writing the actual book. Together, without ever caring enough about the issue to deliberately try to do so, these corporations have built a landscape in which it’s hard to trust what you read and hard to sell what you write.

    In the end, everyone loses: the would-be writers getting grifted in a fake publishing school, the real writers whose products are getting choked out of the marketplace by floods of cheap garbage, and the readers who just want to be able to buy a book without having to check to make sure the author isn’t a robot.

    I asked Elan Trybuch if he thought anyone was buying all those fake mushroom foraging guides.

    “Yeah,” he said. “I mean, there’s a sucker born every minute.”

    Link

  246. Reginald Selkirk says

    Canceling Your Credit Card Won’t Stop Netflix’s Recurring Charges

    Millions of Americans pay for Netflix, doling out anywhere from $6.99 to $22.99 a month. It’s a common belief that you can get out of recurring charges like this by canceling your credit card. Netflix won’t be able to find you, and your account will just go away, right? You wouldn’t be crazy for believing it, but it’s a myth that canceling a credit card will stop your recurring charges.

    Nearly 46% of Americans opened a new credit card last year, according to Forbes, which means millions of Americans also canceled old ones. When you switch cards, Netflix doesn’t just stop your service — they just start charging your new card. Granted, it might be easier to just cancel your Netflix subscription directly. There’s a largely hidden service that enables Netflix and most other subscription services to keep throwing charges at you indefinitely.

    “Banks may automatically update credit or debit card numbers when a new card is issued. This update allows your card to continue to be charged, even if it’s expired,” Netflix says in its help center…

    Coming soon: Their new AI-driven service will automatically find your next of kin and keep billing them after your death.

  247. says

    Congrats To Daimler Truck Auto Workers On Their New Strike-Avoiding Contract!

    The UAW has done it again!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/congrats-to-daimler-truck-auto-workers

    Following a hard-fought campaign and even the threat of a strike, the United Auto Workers Union has reached an agreement with multibillion dollar truck and bus manufacturer Daimler Truck on a new contract for 7,300 workers at six facilities in the south. Hooray!

    Daimler Truck, which builds Freightliner trucks, Western Star trucks, and Thomas Built Buses, had been doing pretty well for itself over the last six years, during which it increased its profits by 90 percent, while its workers’ purchasing power decreased by 13 percent. The company probably thought things might continue on that way forever, but its workers and the union representing their interests had another plan.

    This is just the latest success for the UAW, which has been busting heads and breaking hearts all over the whole damn country for the last year or so — by which I, of course, mean that they have had a successful strike, gotten workers some really great contracts and started unionizing all the nonunion plants. […]

    The announcement came just one day after the UAW filed four unfair labor practice charges against Daimler, including: [list available at the link]

    Which just goes to show, sometimes you have to play a little hardball to get what you want.

    “The four-year agreement delivers major economic gains for 7,300 workers,” a statement from the UAW reads, “including raises of more than 25%, the end of wage tiers, and the introduction profit-sharing and Cost-of-Living (COLA) for the first time since Daimler workers first organized with the UAW.”

    The elimination of wage tiers is probably the most cathartically satisfying of all of the gains in these contracts. These companies were just so brazen about phasing out all of the fairly compensated workers and entering a brand new era of cheap labor, thinking they’d barely get any pushback, and that dream is now being crushed. That is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

    The communities surrounding these plants will also benefit, because the people working at them will have more money to spend on going out, shopping at local businesses and more. Additionally, when wages go up in one sector, that puts pressure on other businesses to do the same. […]

    It’s also a particularly big deal that this is happening in the South, which was once a refuge for manufacturing companies in search of nonunion cheap labor and low corporate taxes. The low corporate taxes they still have, but now they must share in that fiscal bounty with their workers. That, too, is a beautiful thing.

    Now, I’m not trying to get ahead of myself here, because I do realize that there are, unfortunately, a whole lot of conservative union members. But I do think that demonstrating how people can get more of what they deserve when they operate as a collective rather than as individuals is something that could start to change some minds here and there. They also might want to vote for people who will overturn the Right-to-Work-for-Less laws that get in the way of effective collective bargaining. I’m just saying, we should always look for opportunities to open minds.

    The next item on the agenda is the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, which will vote on whether or not to join the UAW from May 13 to 17, and we have a pretty good feeling it’s gonna go well.

  248. says

    THE NEW FACE OF FLOODING
    Washington Post link

    On June 19, southern Mobile County, Ala., experienced torrential rain and severe flooding. Roads and some homes near the Fowl River were submerged.

    But this was no ordinary flood.

    John Corideo drove the solitary two-lane highways of southern Alabama, eyeing the roadside ditches. It had been raining off and on for days and Corideo, chief of the Fowl River Fire District, knew that if it continued, his department could be outmatched by floodwaters.

    It kept raining. Water filled the ditches and climbed over roads, swallowing parts of a main highway. About 10 residents who needed to be rescued were brought back to the station in firetrucks. More remained stranded in floodwaters, out of the department’s reach. “That week … we just caught hell,” Corideo said.

    What the residents and rescuers of the Fowl River region faced on that day was part of a dangerous phenomenon reshaping the southern United States: Rapidly rising seas are combining with storms to generate epic floods, threatening lives, property and livelihoods.

    In the Fowl River’s case, unusually high tides slowed floodwaters as they went downstream to drain. This increased the water’s depth and flooded a wide expanse — even several miles upstream. The result was deluged roads, washed out cars and damaged houses from a flood that was larger, deeper and longer-lasting due to rising seas.

    These supercharged floods are one of the most pernicious impacts of an unexpected surge in sea levels across the U.S. Gulf and southeast coasts — with the ocean rising an average of 6 inches since 2010, one of the fastest such changes in the world, according to a Washington Post examination of how sea level rise is affecting the region.

    The Post’s analysis found that sea levels at a tide gauge near the Fowl River rose four times faster in 2010 to 2023 than over the previous four decades. […]

    The rapid burst of sea level rise has struck a region spanning from Brownsville, Tex., to Cape Hatteras, N.C., where coastal counties are home to 28 million people. Outdated infrastructure built to manage water, some of it over a century old, cannot keep up. As a result, the seas are swallowing coastal land, damaging property, submerging septic tanks and making key roads increasingly impassable. […]

    More details, charts of sea level rise, photos and videos are available at the link.

  249. says

    Why Trump’s lies about his ongoing criminal trial in N.Y. matter

    Donald Trump’s criminal trial is well underway in New York City, and inside the Manhattan courtroom, the former president’s lawyers are doing their best against overwhelming evidence. But just outside the courtroom, the defense attorneys are saying very little about the case, while their client seems eager to try parts of the case in public.

    The New York Times reported over the weekend:

    Donald J. Trump spent the bulk of the past week in a Manhattan courtroom, standing trial as the first American president to face criminal prosecution. He is accused of falsifying business records to cover up an affair with a porn actress ahead of the 2016 election. Even though he did not take the stand as opening statements got underway, he took to the cameras to argue his case each day the court was in session.

    The Times highlighted several of the key claims the Republican has pushed over the last week or so, including:
    – “Nobody’s been able to say what you’re supposed to call” Michael Cohen’s hush-money invoices.
    – Cohen “got in trouble. He went to jail. This had nothing to do with me.”
    – The Federal Election Commission “took a total pass on it. [FEC commissioners] said essentially nothing was done wrong or they would have done something about it.”
    – “I’m not allowed to defend myself, and yet other people are allowed to say whatever they want about me.”
    – “This is all a Biden indictment.”

    None of these claims is true. In fact, they’re demonstrably ridiculous. Most don’t even make sense to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the basics of the allegations.

    The prosecutors’ indictment has made the details of the hush-money invoices plain; Cohen’s hush-money payments obviously have a great deal to do with his former client; the FEC is deadlocked, but it never exonerated Trump or absolved him in this case; the former president is facing a gag order, though that hasn’t stopped him from defending himself practically every day since he was charged; and the idea that President Joe Biden is orchestrating a local criminal case in New York is absurd.

    But “Trump lies a lot” isn’t exactly a breakthrough story. Given his track record, it’d be a bigger surprise if the presumptive GOP nominee managed to tell the truth about the case.

    What strikes me as notable, however, is how the former president’s allies might respond to fact-checking like this. They are, after all, going out on weak limbs, telling the public that this case is meritless and that Trump has nothing to worry about.

    If that were true, why is it, exactly, that the suspected felon is lying uncontrollably about the basic details? If this doesn’t make his sycophantic allies a little nervous, they’re not paying close enough attention.

  250. Reginald Selkirk says

    Two killed when 350,000-pound load falls off trailer on highway, Texas officials say

    A massive, oversized load broke loose from a trailer and killed two people on a Texas highway, officials say.

    Shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, April 27, firefighters in Temple responded to a reported collision a short distance west from town, along State Highway 36, and arrived to find a vehicle crushed under a 350,000-pound piece of cargo, Temple Fire & Rescue said in a news release.

    Officials did not say how the load came free from its trailer, but it crushed a nearby vehicle carrying three people.

    “It is not known what that piece of equipment is,” fire officials said…

  251. says

    Kristi Noem’s story of murdering her dog keeps getting worse

    Kristi Noem has done plenty of terrible things as governor of South Dakota. That includes disregarding COVID-19 safety rules and being among the first to treat the whole pandemic as a political opportunity. No pencil-pushing scientist was going to tell her what to do, even if that meant citizens in South Dakota had to be airlifted out of state for treatment due to overcrowding.

    She’s banned from visiting 10% of the land in her own state because of her continuous disrespect for Native Americans. She insists on staging fireworks displays in the middle of a drought. And she’s currently being sued after doing a commercial for a cosmetic dentist in Texas to pay for her new set of teeth.

    With all that, Noem had still barely made a dent in the national news until she told a grisly story of how she shot a family dog and tossed its body in a gravel pit when it failed to perform to her satisfaction. But just because she’s been revealed as an empathy-deprived monster, don’t assume that she’s not at the top of Donald Trump’s shortlist for vice president.

    In 2008, I bundled our 17-year-old golden retriever named Tigger into my arms and took her to the vet. Tigger’s parents had been national champions with more initials after their names than a Harvard professor, but she had been born deaf, making her poorly suited for the whistles and voice commands of retriever trials and agility training. Instead, she came home with us, a tiny yellow fuzzball, to be my son’s dog through every level of school, steal slices of pizza from the table, and shed small mountains of yellow fur.

    At 17, she was a two-time cancer survivor, missing her tail and with long surgical scars. Now the cancer was back again.[…] She had been in pain for weeks, […] But once we were in the room at the vet, she seemed to understand what was going on. She stood up straight, wagged her little nub of a tail, and gave me a look that said, “I’m fine. Let’s go home.”

    That was, without a doubt, one of the hardest days of my life. I can’t think of it without worrying that I did something unforgivably wrong.

    A lot of people have stories like mine, which can make Noem’s casual admission about shooting her dog Cricket because it failed to meet her performance standards nothing short of horrifying. Truthfully, it sounds like Cricket was a hoot, and the fact that Noem’s child asked about Cricket the moment she stepped off the school bus certainly suggests that this was more than just one of a pack of hunting dogs that hung around the Noem farm.

    Following Rolling Stone’s story about Noem’s book, there have been reactions, and reactions to those reactions. That includes Noem defending herself by pointing out that she didn’t just shoot a dog and a goat, she also put down three horses. On Sunday, Noem issued a statement saying that “South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down.” What she means by this is that Noem was silly enough to load an untrained dog into a truck and take it straight into the middle of a bunch of chickens. However, the operative word of that South Dakota law is “can.” Noem didn’t have to shoot the dog, she decided to shoot the dog. Because giving it proper training and attention was too much bother.

    […] what may be of equal importance is that Noem chose to tell this story. She may now be complaining that “some people are upset about a 20 year old story,” but she’s the one who decided to lift this incident out of her life and plop it on a page.

    […] The simple decision to tell this story, along with the way she told it, shows that her perceptions are badly skewed.

    […] Noem may open her tale of pet murder by saying “I hated that dog”—which more than a little undercuts her excuses—but she’s not alone in that feeling. As GQ noted back in 2020, Trump also hates all dogs. When Trump wants to insult someone, he compares them to a dog. When he wants to demean someone’s death, he says they died like a dog. “In Trump’s tiny mind,” writes GQ, “dogs are venal, treacherous creatures.”

    Trump isn’t going to throw Noem away over a dog. He may even give her a gold star. Because what Noem has generated is a lot of discussion and a metric shit-ton of disgust. She’s identified one of those things that would seem to be beyond the boundary of acceptable behavior.

    You know, like insulting prisoners of war. Or demeaning Gold Star families. Or attacking the children of a judge.

    Trump loves to find those boundaries and rip them apart. He revels in his ability to convince his followers to join in the destruction. It’s not hard to see Trump loving Noem’s story of dog murder.

    It may even make him a little jealous.

  252. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mastodon forms new U.S. non-profit

    As part of our commitment to supporting the growth and operational capabilities of Mastodon, we have established a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity in the United States aimed at facilitating our efforts, including being able to receive tax-deductible U.S. donations and in-kind support.

    We’re excited to announce the Board of Directors governing this newly formed entity:…

  253. Reginald Selkirk says

    They made the robot hairy!

    Recently we suggested Boston Dynamics should enshroud its bots in some kind of hair. Today Boston Dynamics showed off a costume for its Spot robot that is festooned in blue, sparkly fur…

  254. birgerjohansson says

    @ 346
    I would have appreciated ‘hairy as a tarantula’.
    Or a xenomorph suit.

  255. Reginald Selkirk says

    Strange blob-like sea creatures washing ashore across Southern California coast

    Bizarre sea creatures that resemble jellyfish have returned to Southern California waters, a year after millions were spotted between Ventura and San Diego counties and beyond.

    Velella velella, more commonly known as by-the-wind sailors, are oval-shaped blobs that live on the ocean’s surface, propelled by small, stiff sails that catch wind and take them across the globe. Ocean currents and winds move the creatures from place to place, allowing them to catch their prey with their stinging tentacles…

  256. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #339…
    You may think that your last line is just a snark, but my late (as of June 2022) wife’s e-mail account is still getting solicitations for campaign donations (I’m looking at you Joe Biden…your campaign needs to check vital statistics periodically).

  257. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tourists continue to visit Hawaii’s Haiku Stairs even as it gets removed for overtourism

    The soap opera surrounding the Haiku Stairs, a disused staircase in a remote part of eastern Oahu that has become popular on social media, continues even as the local government has begun removing the famed landmark.

    The staircase, which was built during World War II by the US Navy, has remained a tourist site despite being officially closed to visitors since 1987…

    However, as there are no official trails, many thrill-seekers have had to cut through private property to get there. Some posted guides on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, leading even more visitors there.

    This increase in tourism – and the bad behavior that came with it – was among the reasons cited when Honolulu’s city council voted to remove the stairs in 2021…

  258. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] First, a thought on the campus situation and this question of whether these protests are tainted by anti-Semitism. […] To me it seems clear that non-students operating on the periphery of the [Columbia] campus have been responsible for the most egregious comments or incidents that almost no one would deny are anti-Semitic. There’s been some of that from students on campus, usually in heated instances when visibly Jewish students are in the proximity of protesters.

    But to me these instances obscure a deeper issue. The groups which are spearheading most of these protests — specifically, Students for Justice in Palestine but also others — support the overthrow of the current Israeli state and the expulsion of at least some substantial percentage of the current Jewish Israeli population. This is sometimes talked about as though this is envisioned without people actually being killed at a mass scale or under the pretense that Jewish Israelis have other home countries they can relocate to. But that’s not how overthrowing a whole society works. These views are also embedded in the big chants and manifestos, which you can hear just by turning on your TV.

    Is this anti-Semitic? Not as such. It’s a political view that the Israeli state never should have come into existence in the first place and that the events of 1948 should simply be reversed by force, if a solution can’t be voluntarily agreed to. But since a bit over half of Jews in the world live in Israel, that is a demand or an aim that can’t help but seem wildly threatening to the vast majority of Jews in the world, certainly the ones in Israel but by no means only them.

    There’s also quite a lot of express valorization of Hamas and the October 7th massacres in southern Israel. That, again, can’t help but seem pretty menacing and threatening to most Jews. But I don’t think this is as important as the first point I noted. The valorization is mainly the kind of revolutionary cosplay that is often part and parcel of college activism.

    This gets us to the definition of Zionism. People have used this term to mean many different things over the last century. But the simplest and broadest definition is that it was a historical movement to re-found a Jewish state in Israel-Palestine. Understood as such, Zionism is essentially moot. There is a Jewish-majority state in Israel-Palestine and has been for 75 years. All Zionism really means is that state continuing to exist. […]

    We can also take a short detour to make a more general observation about college campuses and our society generally. And that is that in educational institutions over the last decade there has been a big push around the idea that it is the obligation of the institution and greater community to ensure that students are not just physically safe but have a subjective perception of their physical and emotional safety. […]

    But back to our core point. If it is true that the groups spearheading the protest expressly hold eliminationist goals and beliefs about Israel, it is just as clearly true that the real energy of these protests isn’t about 1948 or even 1967 — they are about what people have been seeing on their TVs for the last six months. And that is a vast military onslaught that has leveled numerous neighborhoods throughout Gaza, led to the substantial physical destruction of much of the whole strip and lead to the deaths of more than 30,000 people. That’s horrifying. And people know that the U.S. has played a role in it. It’s not at all surprising that lots and lots of students are wildly up in arms about that and want to protest to make it stop.

    To me, you can’t really understand the situation without recognizing that Hamas started this engagement by launching a massacre of almost unimaginable scale and brutality and then retreated to what has always been its key strategic defense in Gaza, which is intentionally placing their military infrastructure in and under civilian areas so that the price of attacking them militarily is mass civilian casualties that are then mobilized internationally to curtail Israeli military attacks on Hamas.

    This is unquestionably true and no one can honestly deny that this is Hamas’s central strategic concept: employing civilian shields to limit Israel’s ability to engage Hamas in military terms.

    But that being true doesn’t make tens of thousands of people less dead. And most of the dead aren’t Hamas. So if you’re a student you say — along with quite a few non-students in the U.S. — all that stuff may be true, but what I’m seeing is the ongoing slaughter of thousands of innocents and I absolutely need that to stop, especially if it is being carried out directly or indirectly with arms my tax dollars bought.

    Both of these things are true. And this was brought home to me by a post on Twitter over the weekend by an academic named Dov Waxman who is the chair of Israel studies at UCLA […] the gist is essentially that he agrees on protesting what has happened in Gaza, is a long time opponent of the occupation and supports greater equality for Israel’s Arab minority. But he can’t participate or support these protests because of what I noted above — because the groups running the protests (which is different from the participants) want Israel itself dismantled.

    All of these things are true. They can be true at the same time.

    In these moments we sometimes hear people say, well, don’t try to police the decisions of an oppressed group. This gets to the rub of this issue. The real world isn’t black and white. Groups don’t fit neatly into boxes of oppressed and oppressor. People can have whatever beliefs they want and protest about whatever they want. […]

    And here let me shift gears to my next main point. The last six months has thrown me very hard back on to defending the existence of Israel, its historical connections to Jews in Europe and the Middle East before the 20th century, its origins as the political expression of a people who are in fact indigenous to Israel-Palestine. And that’s because all of these things are now questioned and attacked as core questions.

    But the reality is that these conversations, often harrowing and angry, are simply diversions from anything that creates a path forward from the terrible present. There are two national communities deeply embedded in the land. Neither is going anywhere even though there are substantial proportions of both communities who want that to happen to the other one. There’s no way to build something sustainable and dignified without both peoples having a state in which they have self-determination and citizenship. That’s the only plausible endpoint where violence doesn’t remain an ever-present reality. How you get there is another story. And yes, if you think one unified state makes sense, God bless you. If you can get majorities of both groups to agree to that, fine. I don’t live there. If that’s what they want, great. That’s almost certainly never going to be the case. […]

    But none of these arguments about 1948 or 1967 or indigeneity or “settler colonialism” really impact or have anything to do with getting to some two state/partition end point. And no I’m not saying for a moment that that will be easy to get to. It seems terribly far off. But fantasies and alternative histories won’t get us there.

    Oslo gets a bad name today. And perhaps that’s fair since it failed. And failure is a bad thing. But we shouldn’t ignore the irony that we have spent the last six month in the grip of Hamas and Benjamin Netanyahu. And if you look back at the period from 1993 to 1996, there are two players who destroyed Oslo, as a matter of strategy and design. Netanyahu and Hamas. They both saw it as in their interests to kill it and they did kill it. You can question the good faith of the key actors of both sides of Oslo. But those two are the ones who set out to kill it and did kill it. They have always been, in effect, allies.

    Link

  259. birgerjohansson says

    Jeez.
    Rod Stewart turned 79 today.
    Alan Alda (MASH, ask your parents what it was) turned 88 three days ago.
    The fact that I recall them proves I am ancient.

  260. says

    NBC News:

    U.S. and Arab leaders are expressing concerns that newly revived talks could be the last chance for a cease-fire and hostage release before the war could explode with a threatened Israeli attack on Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. As Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Monday, there were urgent calls for a deal between Israel and Hamas that would head off an assault on Rafah where more than 1 million people are sheltering.

    Washington Post:

    More than six months into the war in Gaza and with dimming hopes for a cease-fire deal, Palestinians there are growing more critical of Hamas, which some of them blame for the months-long conflict that has destroyed the territory — and their lives.

  261. says

    New York Times:

    Multiple law enforcement officers were shot in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday as members of a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force were trying to serve a warrant and were met by gunfire, the police said.

    NBC News:

    A teenage gunman wounded 10 people when he opened fire early Sunday after fighting broke out during a private event at a Florida party venue, authorities said. A security guard tackled and disarmed the shooter almost immediately, and a second guard handcuffed him until sheriff’s deputies arrived, according to an arrest report from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

  262. says

    New York Times:

    The Biden administration announced expansive new protections on Friday for gay and transgender medical patients, prohibiting federally funded health providers and insurers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Washington Post:

    A federal appellate court in Richmond became the first in the country to rule that state health-care plans must pay for gender-affirming surgeries, a major win for transgender rights amid a nationwide wave of anti-trans activism and legislation. The decision came from a set of cases out of North Carolina and West Virginia, where state officials argued that their policies were based on cost concerns rather than bias. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected that argument, saying the plans were discriminating against trans people in need of treatment.

  263. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    Elon Musk wrapped up a trip to China in less than 24 hours and came away with a crucial victory as he pushes to reignite Tesla’s green up pointing triangle sagging growth. After his flurry of meetings with top officials in Beijing, China’s government signaled its blessing for Tesla to roll out its advanced driver-assistance service in the carmaker’s second-biggest market. The Tesla chief executive is seeking to expand use of the controversial software feature globally as the company confronts the prospect of lower sales growth this year.

  264. says

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a fine totaling $200 million to the nation’s four largest mobile carriers, alleging they illegally shared access to customers’ location data.

    T-Mobile received the biggest fine of $80 million, along with a $12 million fine for its subsidiary, Sprint, that the company acquired in 2020. AT&T was fined more than $57 million and Verizon was fined almost $7 million, according to the agency’s announcement.

    The fines follow initial allegations by the FCC in 2020 under the Trump administration of wireless carriers violating laws by not protecting users’ location data.

    The mobile carriers pushed back on the allegations and said they intend to challenge the fine.

    The FCC said the agency’s enforcement bureau’s investigation into the carriers found that each of them sold access to their customers location information to “aggregators” that went on to resell access to the information to third-party location-based service providers.

    The FCC said the carriers “attempted to offload” their obligation to obtain customer consent to others, which led to not obtaining customer consent.

    Mobile carriers are legally required to take reasonable measures to protect certain customer information, including location information, according to the FCC.

    The FCC said the “initial failure” compounded when the carriers continued to sell access to location information without taking reasonable measures to protect it after they were made aware that safeguards were ineffective.

    Link

  265. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cats suffer H5N1 brain infections, blindness, death after drinking raw milk

    On March 16, cows on a Texas dairy farm began showing symptoms of a mysterious illness now known to be H5N1 bird flu. Their symptoms were nondescript, but their milk production dramatically dropped and turned thick and creamy yellow. The next day, cats on the farm that had consumed some of the raw milk from the sick cows also became ill. While the cows would go on to largely recover, the cats weren’t so lucky. They developed depressed mental states, stiff body movements, loss of coordination, circling, copious discharge from their eyes and noses, and blindness. By March 20, over half of the farm’s 24 or so cats died from the flu.

    In a study published today in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers in Iowa, Texas, and Kansas found that the cats had H5N1 not just in their lungs but also in their brains, hearts, and eyes. The findings are similar to those seen in cats that were experimentally infected with H5N1, aka highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI). But, on the Texas dairy farm, they present an ominous warning of the potential for transmission of this dangerous and evolving virus…

  266. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Reginald Selkirk #345:
    FediTips:
    https://social.growyourown.services/@FediTips/112344519361606488

    Troubling things going on at Mastodon HQ. They’ve appointed board members Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter, VC person) & Amir Ghavi (lawyer advising on blockchain & AI) […]

    https://social.growyourown.services/@FediTips/112348872168652639

    […] Mastodon gGmbH in Germany, owned by Eugen. It was a non-profit but the German government recently revoked its non-profit status for some reason.

    They now also have a US organisation […] In theory it’s just a mechanism for receiving donations, but that doesn’t explain why they appointed such controversial people to it.

    https://social.growyourown.services/@FediTips/112344554598201661

    […] I can’t believe they’d have no input at all on what Mastodon does […] Mastodon says in the announcement “The board was selected based on the values they share with Mastodon.” … well, do they share values with a blockchain company and Twitter?

  267. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia Clones Wikipedia, Censors It, Bans Original

    Jules Roscoe reports via 404 Media:

    Russia has replaced Wikipedia with a state-sponsored encyclopedia that is a clone of the original Russian Wikipedia but which conveniently has been edited to omit things that could cast the Russian government in poor light. Real Russian Wikipedia editors used to refer to the real Wikipedia as Ruwiki; the new one is called Ruviki, has “ruwiki” in its url, and has copied all Russian-language Wikipedia articles and strictly edited them to comply with Russian laws. The new articles exclude mentions of “foreign agents,” the Russian government’s designation for any person or entity which expresses opinions about the government and is supported, financially or otherwise, by an outside nation. […]

  268. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia Issues Arrest Warrant For Ex-Chess Champion Garry Kasparov

    Longtime Slashdot reader ArchieBunker shares a report from The Mirror:

    The city court in Syktyvkar, the largest city in Russia’s northwestern Komi region, announced it had arrested [former world chess champion Garry Kasparov] in absentia alongside former Russian parliament member Gennady Gudkov, Ivan Tyutrin co-founder of the Free Russia Forum — which has been designated as an “undesirable organization in the country — as well as former environmental activist Yevgenia Chirikova. All were charged with setting up a terrorist society, according to the court’s press service. As all were charged in their absence, none were physically held in custody…

  269. says

    NY Judge Holds Trump In Contempt For Attacking Witnesses, Threatens Jail

    New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan threatened to incarcerate Donald Trump on Tuesday if he continues to flout a gag order imposed to block him and others from attacking witnesses in his criminal case.

    Merchan said in an order released Tuesday morning that if Trump continued to violate the judge’s orders, he would “impose incarceratory punishment.”

    The threat came as Merchan held Trump in contempt of court, fining him $1,000 per statement for nine social media posts that attacked witnesses in the case.

    It adds up to a total fine of $9,000 for the posts, which included attacks on Michael Cohen and a post boosting a statement by Fox News host Jesse Watters that claimed jurors in the case were biased.

    Merchan made a point in the contempt order of leaving open the possibility that he could send Trump to jail for continuing to violate the order. New York state law limits him to fineing Trump $1,000 per violation; Merchan wrote that such a small monetary amount “will not achieve the desired result in those instances where the contemnor can easily afford such a fine.”

    He added that while he would prefer to impose a fine “commensurate with the wealth” of the offender, he lacked that power and would “therefore consider whether in some instances, jail may be a necessary punishment.”

    Merchan, so far, is only threatening to incarcerate the former and potentially future President. Trump has brazenly flouted the judge’s order over the past several weeks, including in a manner intended to strike directly at the judge. Trump frequently posted about Merchan’s daughter, a fact that Manhattan DA prosecutors drew to Merchan’s attention during a contempt hearing last week.

    Prosecutors have another contempt motion outstanding, over an additional four allegations that Trump violated the order. Merchan has scheduled a hearing about that for Thursday.

    The DA’s Office had submitted ten violations to Judge Merchan, all of which took place over the course of a week which spanned the beginning of jury selection in the first-ever criminal trial of a former President.

    Of the ten, Merchan found that nine violated the gag order. The one which Merchan found did not qualify featured Trump thanking Michael Avenatti on Truth Social “for revealing the truth about two sleaze bags” — Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.

    The other nine posts include Trump calling Cohen a “disgraced attorney and felon,” multiple posts calling Cohen a “serial perjurer,” and the Jesse Watters video clip.

    Prosecutors had emphasized the Watters repost, in which Trump put quotes around a statement that called jurors “undercover Liberal Activists,” in part because the day after Trump made the post, an already-seated juror withdrew, citing negative attention from the media. It led to a surreal argument during the contempt hearing in which Trump’s lawyers maintained that his reposting was not an endorsement of the underlying statement.

    But Merchan found that Trump himself had so grossly misstated Watters’ remarks that the post “constitutes the words of Defendant himself.”

  270. says

    CHEERS to Pete Buttigieg, aka Captain Ahead-of-schedule. He came, he saw, he organized, he delegated, he implemented, he supervised, and by god he did it. Last week the first cargo exited Baltimore Harbor after the bridge collapse, and yesterday the second deadline was met with time to spare:

    […] The MSC Cargo Passion III made it through the 35-foot temporary channel on Sunday, carrying nearly 1,000 containers.

    “Another milestone today! First container ship to arrive at Seagirt Terminal since the crisis began,” the Port of Baltimore said on social media. Four temporary channels have been opened since the bridge’s collapse on March 26.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to reopen the main shipping channel—which is 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep—by the end of May.

    […] kudos also to Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, and the engineers and lunch-bucket workers making all this progress with brains, grit, and determination. […]

    Link

  271. says

    When President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan infrastructure package a few years ago, the law included something called the Affordable Connectivity Program. It’s not the most well known federal policy, but for many American households, it’s a very big deal.

    As a recent Associated Press report summarized, the ACP “offers qualifying families discounts on their internet bills — $30 a month for most families and up to $75 a month for families on tribal lands.” The program, which helps 22 million households pay their internet bills, cost $14.2 billion. Those funds expire today.

    The Biden White House and its allies have spent months urging Congress to keep the subsidies in place. That’s apparently not going to happen, and a recent Politico report helped explain why:

    [The Affordable Connectivity Program] is now trapped in a partisan war between Democrats who want to renew it, and Republicans worried it will let President Joe Biden take too much of a victory lap during a campaign year.

    In other words, GOP lawmakers could do the right thing for these households — many of which are in red states and conservative communities. But if they keep the popular and effective Affordable Connectivity Program going, the beneficiaries might be pleased, and might even give Biden credit for the good news.

    And so, the future of the ACP appears bleak, at least for now.

    Unfortunately, it’s not the only priority running into this problem. Congressional Republicans also cut funding for the 21st Century Cures Act — part of the Democratic president’s cancer moonshot. Explaining why, a Politico report added this week, “The new budget is tight across the board, reflecting Republicans’ control of the House, deficit concerns and, not least, their desire to deny Biden a win months before the election.”

    And what about the bipartisan tax deal, which extended Trump-era tax breaks for businesses and expanded the child tax credit? It easily passed the House a couple of months ago, but it needs 60 votes in the Senate, and so far, GOP members are balking. Bloomberg News reported a few weeks ago that Senate Republicans “don’t want to hand President Joe Biden an election-year victory on the legislation.”

    Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa was quite candid on this point, telling NBC News he wasn’t inclined to support a compromise measure that “makes the president look good” ahead of this year’s elections.

    A few weeks earlier, House Republicans also derailed a bipartisan compromise on border and immigration reforms. Asked why, Republican Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas said, “Let me tell you, I’m not willing to do too damn much right now to help a Democrat and to help Joe Biden’s approval rating.”

    In other words, on a wide variety of domestic priories — from the border to the economy, cancer research to internet access — Republicans are putting election goals over national needs.

    If the GOP is very lucky, voters won’t hear about this.

    Link

  272. Reginald Selkirk says

    Automatic emergency braking at speeds up to 90mph required under new rule

    Automatic emergency braking is now the law of the land.

    The US Department of Transportation finalized a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requiring all vehicle manufacturers to include automatic emergency braking in their light-duty vehicles (basically all passenger vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks) by 2029. The new rule aims to prevent hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries every year. The Department of Transportation is also in the process of finalizing a similar rule for heavy-duty vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds…

  273. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Forgotten” poem by C.S. Lewis published for the first time

    Renowned British author C.S. Lewis is best known for his Chronicles of Narnia, but Lewis’s prolific oeuvre also included a science fiction trilogy, an allegorical novel, a marvelous retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, various nonfiction works of Christian apologetics, and literary criticism. Now, a literary scholar has discovered a previously unknown short poem by Lewis among a cache of documents acquired by the University of Leeds ten years ago. Written in 1935, the poem has been published for the first time, with an accompanying analysis in the Journal of Inkling Studies…

  274. says

    Trump and abortion, even worse than we thought:

    […] Time magazine sat down with Trump twice recently and has now published a new report that shed light on the presumptive GOP nominee’s vision for a second term.

    What emerged in two interviews with Trump, and conversations with more than a dozen of his closest advisers and confidants, were the outlines of an imperial presidency that would reshape America and its role in the world. … He would let red states monitor women’s pregnancies and prosecute those who violate abortion bans.

    This might sound like an exaggeration. It’s not.

    Keep in mind, as of a few weeks ago, Trump acted as if he’d solved his abortion problem once and for all: The former president effectively said he’d let every state do whatever they pleased. It was his way of trying to avoid responsibility for the mess he helped create.

    But the interview with Time magazine forced the Republican to consider some of the practical consequences of his latest position on reproductive rights. From the article:

    More than 20 states now have full or partial abortion bans, and Trump says those policies should be left to the states to do what they want, including monitoring women’s pregnancies. “I think they might do that,” he says. When I ask whether he would be comfortable with states prosecuting women for having abortions beyond the point the laws permit, he says, “It’s irrelevant whether I’m comfortable or not. It’s totally irrelevant, because the states are going to make those decisions.”

    In other words, if Republican officials in red states start monitoring women’s pregnancies and prosecuting women, Trump has no interest in intervening. He’d simply allow those GOP officials to do as they pleased, regardless of the real-world consequences for the woman affected by the far-right agenda.

    In the same interview, Time asked Trump whether women should be able to get the abortion pill mifepristone. The former president said he has “pretty strong views on that,” but he refused to share them.

    Time added, “Well, this is a big question, Mr. President, because your allies have called for enforcement of the Comstock Act, which prohibits the mailing of drugs used for abortions by mail. The Biden Department of Justice has not enforced it. Would your Department of Justice enforce it?”

    Trump replied that he’d issue “a big statement” on the matter “over the next 14 days.” Two weeks later, the magazine followed up. He again refused to elaborate. [Trump has no clue. However, a Trump administration filled with far rightwing dunderheads would have a clue.]

    “Donald Trump’s latest comments leave little doubt: if elected he’ll sign a national abortion ban, allow women who have an abortion to be prosecuted and punished, allow the government to invade women’s privacy to monitor their pregnancies, and put IVF and contraception in jeopardy nationwide,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement. “Simply put: November’s election will determine whether women in the United States have reproductive freedom, or whether Trump’s new government will continue its assault to control women’s health care decisions.”

    Link

  275. says

    Good news, as summarized from CBS News by Steve Benen:

    In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — home to two closely watched U.S. Senate races this year — a new CBS News poll found incumbent Democratic Sens. Bob Casey and Tammy Baldwin with seven-point leads over their respective Republican rivals.

    Summarized by Steve Benen from a New York Times article:

    The Libre Initiative, an initiative created in large part by the Koch brothers, kicked off an ad campaign this week targeting congressional Democrats who endorsed President Joe Biden’s successful economic agenda. The ad campaign is targeting Latino voters.

    Summarized by Steve Benen from a Washington Post article:

    Speaking of dubious advertising messages, a Trump-aligned super PAC is running commercials claiming that the Biden administration is “paying rent for illegals.” MAGA Inc., of course, is brazenly lying.

  276. says

    Followup to comment 375, a fact check:

    […]The federal government, through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services, has long provided hundreds of millions of dollars a year to states and nongovernment organizations to help refugees transition to life in the United States. The Office of Global Michigan supports such efforts in the state, and in October launched the Newcomer Rental Subsidy program. Under this initiative, for up to 12 months individuals who qualify may receive as much as $500 a month in rental subsidies.

    The state says these qualified applicants include refugees, asylees, people with special immigrant visas who helped the U.S. government overseas, victims of human trafficking, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Afghan nationals and Ukrainians granted humanitarian parole. These are all people legally in the United States.

    […] In any case, more than half of the people who have been approved for rental subsidies are Afghan and Ukrainian refugees — a far cry from the murderers that Trump claims are overrunning the country. According to Michigan officials, about 50 percent of 485 applications have been approved, affecting 1,242 household members.

    Washington Post link

  277. says

    US drug control agency will move to reclassify marijuana in a historic shift, AP sources say

    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, The Associated Press has learned, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country.

    The DEA’s proposal, which still must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, would recognize the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledge it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. However, it would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use.

    The agency’s move, confirmed to the AP on Tuesday by five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive regulatory review, clears the last significant regulatory hurdle before the agency’s biggest policy change in more than 50 years can take effect.

    Once OMB signs off, the DEA will take public comment on the plan to move marijuana from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. It moves pot to Schedule III, alongside ketamine and some anabolic steroids, following a recommendation from the federal Health and Human Services Department. After the public comment period and a review by an administrative judge, the agency would eventually publish the final rule.

  278. says

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

    Justice Juan Merchan says he won’t hold the trial on May 17 to allow Donald Trump to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation.

    Merchan rules on Trump’s violation of his gag order. The $9,000 fine won’t do much other than to fuel more violations by Trump. But it’s an important step as prosecutors call for Merchan to crank up the penalty.

    Prosecutors have walked Farro through a whole series of steps in how the money went to Daniels.
    That includes:
    – Creating the Essential Consultants LLC shell company in Delaware.
    – Setting up a home equity line of credit (!) for Cohen and his wife
    – An expedited advance payment
    – a note to Cohen that the money had been deposited in his checking account.

    A day after the money landed in his account, Cohen transferred funds to Daniels.

    Farro’s testimony is a great reminder that moving money around always leaves a footprint. There are wire transfers and so much other paperwork inside the bank. Doesn’t always stop a fraud from happening but sure comes in handy after the fact.

    CNN says Eric Trump is there. [First time one of Trump’s family members has attended.]

    Trump is sitting with his eyes closed for several minutes.

    Per Merchan’s contempt order, Trump must remove the gag order violations on Truth Social and his campaign website by 2:15 p.m. today.

    Farro notes that he wouldn’t have opened the account for Cohen if he had known that Essential Consultants was a shell company.

    Honestly, I’m not sure I buy that. Trump has over 500 LLCs in the Trump Organization. Banks and bankers very definitely had to look the other way to pretend that many, if not most, were anything more than shell companies for shuffling around money.

    Farro testifies that Cohen listed Essential Consultants as a real estate company, but Farro didn’t know if it was connected to Cohen’s role at the Trump Organization or was something Cohen was doing outside of his company job.

    Trump already has a fundraising email out over the contempt finding complaining that a “liberal judge just silenced me.”

    There’s no question that Trump would trade $9,000 slaps on the wrist for the chance to milk his fan base any day. Which is why it’s very unlikely that we’ll see Merchan issue so small a punishment again.

    And remember: there are four more potential violations to be examined in a hearing tomorrow afternoon. (Yes, we’ll be covering that.)

    Merchan issues another warning to Blanche and Trump after Trump is the last one to get back in the courtroom. “Try to keep the breaks short.”

    Prosecutors called Dr. Robert Browning to the stand.

    Browning is an executive director of archives at C-SPAN.

    Like some of Farro’s testimony, the goal in questioning Browning is likely so that the prosecution can enter documents into evidence.

    Maggie Haberman reports that the court is now viewing C-Span clips. “starting with one from a Trump campaign rally in North Carolina in October 2016, where he talks about two women who said Trump touched them inappropriately.”

    So nice that Eric and Ken Paxton [Texas Attorney General] are on hand for this viewing.

    More video clips being entered into evidence. “As you have seen, right now I’m being viciously attacked with lies and smears. It’s a phony deal. I have no idea who these women are,” Trump says in the first clip they’re playing from October 2016.

    First questions to Phillip Thompson [custodial witness for Esquire Deposition Solutions] are about court dispositions, how they are recorded, and where they are stored. That gives a pretty good clue about where this is going.

    Katie Phang suggests the reason we’re getting all these documents witnesses is that Trump’s defense refused to allow the admission of documents without going through this unnecessary step. As a result, the jury is getting a bonus viewing of some things Trump’s defense would rather not be referenced.

    It’s easy to understand why Trump’s team didn’t want the document that prosecutors are now asking Thompson about to be entered into evidence.

    Because it’s the deposition of Trump’s statement in the 2022 E. Jean Carroll sexual assault trial.

    And now, after several witnesses who were put on the stand primarily to introduce documents into evidence…we’ve got a fact witness! It’s Keith Davidson, the attorney who represented Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

    Davidson testifies that he often worked on NDAs for media properties, but rarely worked with tabloids. He also says he’s testifying under immunity, but didn’t ask for it. Presumably, the prosecution brought this point up to defuse any attempt by the defense to use it to impugn Davidson during cross.

    This is the key thing that Davidson has said so far: Cohen was primarily working for Trump when he negotiated with Daniels. Expect the defense to question how Davidson was sure of this during cross. Davidson confirms some correspondence with Cohen which goes in as exhibits.

    Trump hasn’t been standing for jurors when they enter, was late returning from break, and is often sitting slumped in his chair with eyes closed and arms crossed. Everything in his actions signals his disdain for the court, the state, and the jurors.

    Jury gets shown an agreement between Davidson and McDougal showing that he was hired to deal with her involvement with Trump. A portion of the document reads, “Client is hiring attorney to represent client in the matter of client’s claim against Donald Trump…”

    Everyone understood that AMI would pay up to protect Trump.

    Davidson explains that there were other possible outlets for McDougal’s story. It may genuinely have made a difference if he had completed his negotiations with another source that made the public aware of a 10-month affair that took place when Melania was either pregnant or recovering after the birth of Trump’s son.

    I’m pointing out this post from Alan Feuer at The New York Times not because I agree, but because it very much shows the attitude of the Times and some other outlets.

    The gossip industrial complex that Keith Davidson is describing is remarkable — and remarkably crass. He’s out there leveraging his client’s sexual liaisons for money and employment opportunities in a way that resembles a Mafia shakedown.

    Notice that it’s McDougal’s effort to find some means of compensation after her long affair with Trump that’s “remarkably crass” and not the fact that a married man had an affair with a much younger model at a time when his wife was pregnant.
    Saving those backhands for the little people. It’s what they do.

    McDougal didn’t want to become famous as yet another woman who had an affair with Trump. She was content to participate in the Trump-Pecker-Cohen scheme.

    Trump has also pulled two pages off his campaign site in which he attacked Cohen. That seems to put him in compliance with Merchan’s order with 30 minutes to go [until Merchan’s deadline]

    Davidson confirms that AMI told him they were not going to publish the story he had just sold them.

    Just as the prosecution did when questioning Pecker, Steinglass [prosecution attorney] is being very careful to draw a line between Trump’s personal reputation and damage to his campaign.

    That the prosecution is soliciting a lot of negative comments about Cohen seems like another effort to take the steam out of anything the defense wants to say later. You say Cohen is a jerk? We already admitted he’s a jerk.

    Maggie Haberman reports that the testimony has now moved toward making it clear that Cohen wasn’t acting on his own.

    Davidson is now being asked about the settlement agreement with Daniels. A lot of evidence is mounting that cuts against the idea Trump would have been unaware of all this.

    Bidding on Daniel’s story was sluggish until the Access Hollywood tape came out and increased concerns that one more thing might do in Trump’s campaign.

    A reminder that in his testimony, Pecker said that one of the reasons that AMI didn’t want to get involved with Daniels is that he worried a story about Trump sleeping with an adult film star would be too tawdry for National Enquirer distributors, Like Walmart.

    Please don’t make “Is it good enough to be in the tabloid lane at Walmart” the standard for your actions.

  279. says

    True:

    […] if Trump continues to push his luck, he risks the very possibility of going to jail the next time he runs afoul of the gag order.

    Let’s not forget that it was earlier this month when Trump used his social media platform to declare that it would be a “great honor” to be jailed for violating a gag order. As part of the same boast, the former president compared himself — in apparent seriousness — to Nelson Mandela.

    We’ll now see whether the presumptive GOP nominee intends to back up this rhetorical chest-thumping with deliberate violations of a judicial gag order. I have a hunch Trump will find it far easier to simply comply.

    As for the bigger picture, it’s worth pausing to emphasize that while the former president’s jury trial is a long way from being over, it’s now fair to say that Trump has already suffered an important defeat. It’s also history in the making: The Republican is now the first former president in American history to be held in criminal contempt.

    Link

  280. Reginald Selkirk says

    Researchers make a plastic that includes bacteria that can digest it


    An international team of researchers has decided to take advantage of those strains and bundle plastic-eating bacteria into the plastic. To keep them from eating it while it’s in use, the bacteria is mixed in as inactive spores that should (mostly—more on this below) only start digesting the plastic once it’s released into the environment. To get this to work, the researchers had to evolve a bacterial strain that could tolerate the manufacturing process. It turns out that the evolved bacteria made the plastic even stronger…

  281. Reginald Selkirk says

    She peed in an Amsterdam alley, then waged a 9-year battle for ‘urination equality’

    Geerte Piening never planned to become the face of “urination equality” in Amsterdam.

    But nearly a decade after her fine for public urination sparked a national protest movement, city officials are installing new, accessible public bathrooms — the kind you can use sitting down.

    “In the beginning, it was a funny topic because it was like, ‘Ah, peeing, haha!’ But in the end, everyone’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, of course there aren’t enough toilets for everyone.’ So then it became a serious thing,” Piening told As It Happens host Nil Köksal…

  282. Reginald Selkirk says

    New York special election will fill vacancy in Congress created by resignation of Democrat Higgins

    Voters in an upstate New York congressional district will choose between a Democrat regarded by many as the natural successor to the longtime congressman who vacated the seat earlier this year and a Republican with crossover appeal in a special election Tuesday.

    Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins, who arrived in Congress in 2005, resigned in February to become president of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. With Republicans holding a narrow margin in the U.S. House, even a race for a seat widely expected to remain in Democratic hands has drawn its share of scrutiny.

    The race in the 26th District features state Sen. Timothy Kennedy, a Democrat who regards Higgins as a mentor, and Gary Dickson, the first Republican elected as a town supervisor in the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca in 50 years.

    The district spans Erie and Niagara counties, including the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. With registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans by more than 2-to-1, it is considered a safe seat for Democrats…

  283. Reginald Selkirk says

    Chechnya in jeopardy: what would death of Ramzan Kadyrov mean for Putin?

    Reports that Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov is terminally ill pose a serious problem for Vladimir Putin.

    The Russian president is desperate to avoid instability in the North Caucasus region, which would force him to divert men, resources and attention away from Ukraine.

    Rumours about the health of senior officials, including Putin himself, have been a common feature of Russian political life since the Soviet era, but sources ranging from Ukrainian intelligence to Russian insiders claim Kadyrov is in a “critical condition”, said the Daily Beast, and could have just months to live. The Chechen leader has hardly been seen in public since suffering a serious health scare in September, after being diagnosed with pancreatic necrosis in 2019…

  284. Reginald Selkirk says

    “The truth is incriminating”: Prosecutors get direct messages from former Trump lawyer Ken Chesebro

    The Michigan prosecutors investigating efforts to subvert the 2020 election recently obtained hundreds of messages from pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro’s online accounts, CNN reported Tuesday, including direct messages from an account he had been using anonymously on X. Chesebro played in instrumental role in promoting the “fake electors” scheme in 2020, under which Trump partisans were to pose as their state’s legitimate delegation to the Electoral College.

    Prosecutors had issued warrants to Google and X requesting the messages. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessell last year charged 16 people in connection with the fake-elector scheme, although Chesebro himself is not one of them.

    The documents obtained by Michigan prosecutors show that Chesebro unsuccessfully tried to convince several pro-Trump figures into going to Washington, DC to watch his “fake electors” strategy unfold on January 6, 2021…

  285. says

    Sigh. This again.

    Associated Press:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to launch an incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are sheltering from the almost 7-month-long war, just as cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas appear to be gaining steam.

  286. says

    NBC News:

    Haiti’s newly installed transitional council chose former Sports Minister Fritz Bélizaire as the Caribbean country’s prime minister Tuesday as it presses forward in its monumental task of trying to establish a stable new government amid stifling violence.

  287. says

    Rachel Maddow exposes the GOP’s ‘sprawling nationwide scandal’

    Rachel Maddow dedicated time during her show on Monday to talking about the extent of the election fraud rot in the Republican Party. Acknowledging that Donald Trump is always going to hoover “up all the oxygen in the room,” Maddow said she wanted to broaden the scope to look at the GOP as a whole.

    “There are at least 53 Republican officials and lawyers and activists who are facing felony criminal counts other than Donald Trump himself,” she said.

    For example, in Arizona, recently indicted Sen. Jake Hoffman and election denier (and ethics failure) Liz Harris were elected to represent the state in the Republican National Committee. Hoffman is facing multiple felony counts related to his part in the “fake electors” scheme promoted by election deniers during and after the 2020 election, and Harris has a history of election denialism.

    Maddow goes on to detail how ludicrous these RNC appointments are by any measure, and she finishes by reminding the audience of the disbarred, imprisoned, and legally compromised MAGA operatives who remain in the news, in the orange shadow of Trump. [video at the link]

    There’s a lot going on in the Republican Party right now, and I know that the party’s presidential nominee, their most recent former president, Donald Trump, I know he sucks up all the oxygen in the room, and for obvious reasons he gets all the coverage, he gets all the commentary. But note what is going on in the Republican Party in the Trump era apart from him.
    I mean, just just look at Arizona for a second. In Arizona, they are not only running Kari Lake for Senate. This weekend. Arizona Republicans just chose their states representatives to the national Republican Party. You know, it’s called the, you know, it’s called the RNC, the Republican National Committee. It is actually a committee. Every state sends two people to be part of the committee that makes up the RNC, that makes up the national Republican Party.

    Every state gets two choices. This weekend, Arizona Republicans picked their two choices. They decided their two choices would be this person, who was literally expelled from the state legislature recently, after only being there for about three months.

    Here’s how that was described in the Arizona Republic:

    ‘She was expelled from the Republican controlled House just three months into her term. This after she staged an all day, live streamed legislative hearing at which her witnesses talked about the many ways in which our elections were supposedly stolen. The highlight was a Scottsdale insurance agent who slimed dozens of public officials and private citizens, making preposterous evidence free accusations that they all accepted bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel.

    ‘The House Ethics Committee unanimously concluded that the state legislator not only knew what that insurance agent was likely to say during that hearing, but that the legislator actually took steps to hide the details from House leadership.

    “‘Then she lied about it to the ethics panel. Now she’s a top ranking official in the Republican Party.’

    She’s one of Arizona’s two representatives to the Republican National Committee, chosen this weekend by the Arizona Republican Party. But remember, they get to pick two. The second representative Arizona Republicans just chose to represent their state at the RNC. Is this person, who was a very special variety of Arizona Republican state senator.

    Here’s how Lori Roberts at the Arizona Republic describes him today:

    ‘Meet Jake Hoffman, Arizona’s new Republican National Committee. Man, this Queen Creek Republican burst into public view in 2020 when he ran an internet troll farm paying teenagers to post conservative talking points and baseless conspiracy theories on social media—all aimed at getting then-President Donald Trump reelected.

    ‘The Washington Post in September 2020 exposed Hoffman’s ‘Rally Forge,’ a digital marketing firm where his job was to pay teenagers some of the minors to set up fake personas and blanket social media with thousands of nearly identical posts aimed at undermining confidence in the validity of the election and downplaying the impact of COVID-19.

    ;In other words, Jake Hoffman wanted to fool you into thinking these were real people spontaneously expressing deeply held conservative beliefs instead of what they were. A group of kids he was paying to deceive you. The posts cast doubt on the integrity of mail-In ballots, and said that Joe Biden is, quote, being controlled by behind the scenes individuals who want to take America down the dangerous path toward socialism. It’s the kind of thing you might expect to come out of Russia. Instead, it came out of Phenix, or more specifically, Jake Hoffman’s secret cell of paid teenage trolls.’

    That troll farm in Phoenix was exposed in September of 2020. The same gentleman went on in December of 2020 to be one of the fake electors from Arizona, for Trump. He, in fact, is one of the fake electors who was just criminally indicted in Arizona for his alleged role in that scheme. So he was indicted last week and named Republican National Committeeman for the state of Arizona just days later.

    So it’s not like they didn’t know he’d been indicted. They knew he was indicted, then they picked him afterward. There are at least 53 people who have now been criminally charged with participating in the effort to keep Trump in power after he lost reelection in 2020. And I’m not talking about the people who physically attacked Congress to try to intimidate and physically stop Congress from certifying the vote count on January 6. I mean, you can hive all of those hundreds of people off. There are still at least 53 Republican Party officials and lawyers and activists who are facing felony criminal counts, other than Donald Trump himself.

    And, this is sort of, this is me making my case to you. I think it is an under-appreciated part of the politics of the Republican Party in the Trump era. I think it is an under-appreciated part of politics in our country right now, as Trump is trying to return to the presidency again, that not only is he in the dock facing felony criminal charges as he tries to return to the White House.

    But also in the dock are the chair, or former chair, of the state Republican parties in Arizona and Michigan and Georgia and Nevada, and serving Republican elected officials in all of those states, and they are all swing states.

    Trump adviser Peter Navarro is in jail right now. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court again rejected another request from him to get out of prison. He is currently serving time in prison for refusing to testify about his role in Trump’s efforts to overthrow the government. Trump attorney Jeff Clark just learned today that in his disbarment proceedings in California. The disciplinary counsel for the State Bar Association is arguing to the court that there is no sanction other than disbarment that is suitable for Jeff Clark, given what he did:

    ‘It would be inconsistent with our duty to the disciplinary system and to the profession to even suggest that a sanction other than disbarment should be contemplated by attempting to violate the rules of professional conduct. Jeffrey Clark, betrayed those oaths, and in doing so, his country’s lawyers who betray their country must be disbarred.’

    And I know that the former president himself—former president and Republican presidential nominee, I know him. Him being on trial for multiple felonies is an amazing and unprecedented, and frankly astonishing spectacle. But stick a pin in that idea of ‘astonishing,’ right? Because the crime he is alleged to have quarterbacked, to try to keep himself in power despite losing reelection, that crime is now a sprawling nationwide scandal that has resulted in dozens of Republican officials, in almost all the swing states, being criminally charged, and in all of the prominent lawyers involved in that effort, either being criminally charged or having their licenses put at risk, or both.

    And yes, Trump himself will be back in court tomorrow. And there’s stuff to know about that we’re going to we’re going to get to that tonight. But no matter what happens to him and his own felony cases and in his own political trajectory, do not lose sight of what is happening to the Republican Party. While they have been drafting off him in the lead, because it is an astonishing story on its own.

  288. says

    Newsmax Saw Joe Biden Eating Salad, And They Are MAD

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/newsmax-saw-joe-biden-eating-salad

    Wonkette won the morning this morning with a story about House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer going on Eric Bolling’s Newsmax show and claiming the reason it’s taking so long to impeach Joe Biden is just because there’s TOO MUCH EVIDENCE. Comer is drowning in evidence about Hunter Biden’s wing-wang or whatever […]

    But Bolling was begging, pleading with Comer to produce SOMETHING those [people] who watch Newsmax could hang their hopes on. These MAGA [cult followers] have been waiting for a miracle! They want to see Democrats rounded up and put in camps! They want to see all the pronouns confiscated, and the only vaccine they want is one that’ll kill the Woke Mind Virus!

    But Comer could not help them.

    Of course, the answer was right in front of him the whole time, because Bolling also reported yesterday that Joe Biden ate a salad at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and it was on video, and Joe Biden ate the salad wrongly, per the seasoned salad-tossers at Newsmax.

    That’s the real impeachin’ right there, that’ll take down Joe Biden! [video at the link]

    […] Transcript via Media Matters:

    BOLLING: First of all, grown man looks like Joe was dressed by his mommy.

    He didn’t […]

    Did you all see cackling Kamala? Of course she’d laugh at Joe’s jokes. She thought it was funny.

    How dare woman laugh at jokes at time like this.

    That woman would laugh at a funeral.

    […]

    His clearly scripted digs at Trump just expose the party’s weakness.

    A White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech SCRIPTED? This is breaking news to … absolute moron who don’t know how anything works, i.e. whoever was drooling in front of Eric Bolling on the TV last night.

    Sure, Joe is a big talker when he’s speaking in a room full of biased left-wing media guests. Where is the confidence when Trump wants to debate?

    He said sure he’ll debate?

    Come on, Joe. Put your bow tie, take the stage across from a real leader who has a few policy victories to stand on. You can even bring Kamala and your new walking aides who will help you walk to the stage. Of course not. A debate is never happening. Joe Biden doesn’t think highly enough of the American people to participate. This disgraceful president is finally getting a dose of reality. With every week, we’re seeing new polls that favorite Trump more and more, which immediately make it to the White House. Trust me when I tell you Joe Biden would know his days in office are numbered if he could remember what day it actually was.

    Bolling seems mad. Is he mad? He seems mad.

    Here’s where he’s mad at Joe Biden’s salad:

    I’ll leave you with this. Here is the President of the United States, the man with the nuclear codes, and his fingertips are grappling with a bowl of lettuce. He can barely feed himself. Just watch this for a second. This isn’t slowed down. This isn’t edited. This is Joe trying to eat a bite of salad. Just watch, just watch. This man has a nuclear code. That’s the pre — that’s the President of the United States. The man who’s going to push back on Russia, China, North Korea. Are you kidding me? He can’t even take a bite of his own salad. This man is not suited for the job for four more minutes, let alone four more years.

    You are all invited to watch Joe Biden eating a salad (above) and decide if you are angry about it like Eric Bolling is, or if you’re somehow not going to let it ruin your day. […]

    Bolling does not pronounce Kamala Harris’ name correctly. Biden ate salad carefully. Looked to me like he was not making a mess, and was also in conversation with Kelly O’Donald … or at least listening to her while he ate. Not bad.

  289. Akira MacKenzie says

    @393

    Not a fan of Biden, but at least my dislike for him comes from honest disagreements and not this bad-faith bullshit. My only age-based concern for Biden I have is that his ideas are antiquated when we need new ideas that connect with the youth–you know, the people Dems keep complaining about for their lack of participation. Also their childish attempt to deflect from their own candidates obvious senility and dementia is getting annoying.

    DIdn’t their mothers teach them table manner; to slow down and chew their food, or were they too busy screaming about abortion and those “damn coloreds?”

  290. says

    As the race to the bottom continues, Stefanik targets Jack Smith

    Elise Stefanik had already filed formal complaints against Judge Arthur Engoron and New York AG Tish James. Now she’s targeting special counsel Jack Smith.

    As Donald Trump considers possible running mates, it’s been a few weeks since House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik made any grand gestured intended to impress the former president. As The New Republic noted, that changed yesterday.

    Representative Elise Stefanik is mad at special counsel Jack Smith for doing his job and prosecuting Donald Trump. In an ironic move betraying a complete lack of self-recognition, Stefanik on Tuesday filed an ethics complaint against Smith for “illegal election interference.”

    [LOL]

    Yes, the New York congresswoman, rumored to be in contention for her party’s vice presidential nomination, filed a complaint against the special counsel with the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, accusing Smith of trying to “rush” the prosecution of Trump’s federal election subversion case.

    Stefanik, who almost certainly knows better, also issued a statement that referred to the pending criminal case as “illegal“ for reasons she failed to explain.

    Of course, there’s no reason to believe officials at the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility will take the GOP lawmaker’s complaint seriously — because it’s not a serious complaint — though that hardly matters, since they’re not the intended audience anyway.

    This was, and is, a stunt intended to raise eyebrows at Mar-a-Lago, not Main Justice.

    Stefanik’s offensive against Smith comes just weeks after she publicly called on New York Judge Juan Merchan to recuse himself from Trump’s hush money criminal case.

    Which came on the heels of the GOP lawmaker filing a formal complaint against New York Attorney General Letitia James over her fraud case against the former president.

    […] Which came on the heels of Stefanik claiming with a straight face that Trump hadn’t confused Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi, even after everyone saw him do exactly that.

    Which came on the heels of Stefanik echoing Trump’s rhetoric about Jan. 6 rioters being “hostages” — a claim that even some in her party were not comfortable with.

    Which came on the heels of Stefanik responding to Trump’s classified documents scandal by criticizing the National Archives, helping launch an effort to “expunge” Trump’s impeachments, and joining a partisan crusade against federal law enforcement.

    Which came on the heels of Stefanik filing an ethics complaint against the judge overseeing Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York and pressing the Justice Department to prosecute Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer who has since become a fierce critic of the former president.

    I continue to believe that no one should want to be vice president this badly.

  291. says

    Donald Trump dismissed Columbia University protesters as “paid agitators.” If the Republican’s rhetoric sounded familiar, it wasn’t your imagination.

    Conditions at Columbia University took a turn overnight as school officials called in the NYPD, which began arresting those protesting the Israel/Hamas war. As events unfolded, Donald Trump apparently thought it’d be a good idea to call into Sean Hannity’s Fox News program and share an accusation. The Hill reported:

    Former President Trump made unfounded claims Tuesday that pro-Palestine protests at Columbia University contained “paid agitators” as nationwide college campus protests escalate. … Trump claimed in a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity during the police operation that many of the protesters did not believe in what they were protesting for.

    “I really think you have a lot of paid agitators, professional agitators in here too, and I see it all over,” the former president said, claiming activism experience he does not have. “You know, when you see signs and they’re all identical. That means they’re being paid by a source.”

    As The Hill’s report added, “There is no evidence that any protester at Columbia University or any of the nationwide pro-Palestine protests are a paid demonstrator or otherwise not an authentic protester.”

    Of course, the fact that Trump is peddling baseless claims against people he doesn’t like, based on no evidence whatsoever, is a familiar problem. But what stood out in this instance was the familiarity of the specific allegation.

    In early June 2016 — nearly eight full years ago — when the then-candidate inspired protests, Trump assumed that the people involved couldn’t possibly dislike him. They were, the Republican said at the time, “paid agitators.”

    After the GOP candidate prevailed on Election Day 2016, there was related anti-Trump activism. Those involved, he said in November 2016, were “paid protesters.”

    Months later, after the Republican’s inauguration, the activism continued. Trump assured the public once more that these Americans deserved to be ignored — because he assumed they were “paid protesters.”

    The following year, Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination inspired another round of progressive activism. The protesters, Trump insisted, were “paid professionals.” (He also made claims about the quality of the protesters’ signs, just as he did on Fox last night.)

    Now, the presumptive GOP nominee has returned to the same idea in order to dismiss campus protests.

    When right-wing activists engage in activism, Trump assumes they’re “very fine people“ and “patriots.” When those Trump doesn’t like gather for protests he disapproves of, he assumes they’re “paid agitators” whose sincerity is inherently suspect.

    Yep.

  292. says

    A Democrat won another congressional special election, this time in the Buffalo area. That wasn’t the result House Republican leaders were hoping for.

    When Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins resigned to become president of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, his party was relatively optimistic about holding onto his New York district. As NBC News reported, the results of the congressional special election to fill the vacancy suggest Democrats’ optimism was well grounded.

    Democrats won a special election for a House seat in western New York on Tuesday, The Associated Press projected, further shrinking the GOP’s narrow majority in the House. Democratic state Sen. Tim Kennedy defeated Republican town supervisor Gary Dickson in the 26th District, a reliably blue area that includes Buffalo and some of its surrounding suburbs.

    This wasn’t an instance in which the GOP nominated an unelectable candidate. On the contrary, Dickson was the first Republican elected as town supervisor in the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca in 50 years.

    The results were nevertheless lopsided: According to a Buffalo News report, Kennedy, who heavily outspent his GOP rival, defeated Dickson by roughly 37 points.

    At first blush, the outcome might not seem to affect the national landscape much. In a reliably Democratic district, voters replaced a former Democratic member with a Democratic state senator. Republicans didn’t make much of an effort to even compete in the contest.

    But on Capitol Hill, the results of the race in New York’s 26th district complicate the legislative arithmetic for the beleaguered House Republican majority conference.

    When Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin recently resigned, the GOP majority in the chamber fell to just 217 members. This left GOP leaders with a one-vote margin: On any given vote, if Democrats remained united, Republican measures would fail if just two of the party’s members broke ranks.

    Last week, however, Democratic Rep. Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey died unexpectedly, increasing the number of vacancies, and lowering the threshold to pass legislation in the House to 215. Or put another way, in light of Payne’s passing, the Republicans’ majority margin went from one to two.

    The results of the Buffalo-area special election change that arithmetic: After Kennedy is sworn into office, GOP leaders will once again find that their margin in the chamber is back to just one vote.

  293. says

    Not Looking Good For Jeff Clark

    Jeff Clark, the DOJ attorney who Trump unsuccessfully sought to install mid-coup attempt as attorney general, is facing an effort to disbar him in Washington D.C. And things aren’t going well for him.

    On Tuesday, a panel recommended that he be disbarred, finding that it is “the only possible sanction” befitting his attempt to “create national chaos.”

    From the disciplinary counsel’s proposed finding of fact and conclusions:

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

    The proceedings are not over, but Tuesday’s report was a serious blow to Clark. […]

    Link