1. says

    NBC News:

    U.S. journalist and author Masha Gessen was convicted in absentia Monday by a Moscow court on charges of spreading false information about the military and was sentenced to eight years in prison. The Moscow-born Gessen, a staff writer for The New Yorker and a columnist for The New York Times who lives in the U.S., is a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an award-winning writer.

    In other news, Link back to comment 493, posted by JM, “Special council to appeal Judge Cannon’s dismissal.”

    Some followup to JM’s early comment:

    […] This morning, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon dismissed the federal classified-documents case against Trump. And then, a few hours later, that story was bumped aside as the Republican National Convention started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Trump announced that he chose Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance as his running mate. News from the RNC, covering both standard things (like the vice-presidential pick) as well as the inevitable craziness sure to erupt on the convention floor, will further dull this past weekend’s news from our collective memory.

    That’s not to say the assassination attempt will be forgotten. God knows Republicans will harp on it, continuing their absurd efforts to pin the attack on Democrats, despite the attacker being a registered Republican and using an assault rifle that Republicans (including Trump) have fought tooth and nail to keep legal.

    And across the aisle, Democratic attempts to push President Joe Biden out of the race haven’t ceased.

    But the broader zeitgeist seems to have already moved past the assassination attempt. So don’t listen to anyone who says this or that single event has permanently and sweepingly changed the dynamics of the race. The news cycle moves at a dizzying pace, making it nearly impossible for any one event—even Biden’s disastrous debate performance—to significantly alter the race.

    We are in unprecedented times, in an unprecedented media environment. Strap in.


  2. says

    Arrogant, ignorant and snotty behavior at the Republican convention:

    Donald Trump Jr. called MSNBC “clowns” after he was asked a question about his father’s immigration policy on the floor of the national Republican convention on Monday.

    The president’s son tried to dismiss a question from MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff during an exchange on the convention floor on Monday. He pressed Trump Jr. on whether there would be similar policies in a second Trump administration to those that separated migrant children from their families.

    “I know immigration is important to him. I covered the family separation crisis closely. Will we continue to see policies like separating 5,000 children deliberately from their parents?” Soboroff asked Trump Jr. Monday while on the convention floor.

    “You mean the Obama administration?” Trump Jr. replied.

    “You know they didn’t do that, sir,” Soboroff responded before asking him again whether there would be another family separation policy.

    “It’s MSDNC,” he replied. “See, so I expect nothing less from you clowns. Even, even today, even 48 hours later. You couldn’t wait. You couldn’t wait with your lies and with your nonsense, so just get out of here.”

    Former President Trump has repeatedly claimed that the family separation policy was implemented during the Obama administration, but numerous fact-checks have debunked that claim.

    The Trump administration implemented a zero-tolerance policy for those who crossed the southern border illegally in 2018, resulting in hundreds of migrant children being separated from their parents. The former president eventually ended the zero-tolerance policy after facing backlash over the practice. […]


  3. says

    Here are few tidbits of news, some updates:

    Former President Donald Trump made his first public appearance since his assassination attempt at the Republican National Convention on Monday night, a dramatic moment with his injured ear covered in a bandage as the crowd chanted “fight!” — echoing his words after being shot.

    The crowd chanted “fight, fight, fight” shortly after Trump appeared in the arena.

    Trump had appeared to mouth “fight” when the Secret Service escorted him offstage after the assassination attempt.

    Moments earlier, the crowd chanted, “USA! USA!”

    Trump walked out to live performance of ‘God Bless the USA’

    Lee Greenwood praised God for Trump’s surviving the assassination attempt as his band played live behind him.

    “You will not take this man down,” Greenwood said.

    Trump began walking out, with his ear bandaged, as Greenwood played “God Bless the USA,” the song Trump usually walks on to.

    Earlier, Trump officially secured the GOP nomination for president. He selected Sen. JD Vance of Ohio to be his running mate.
    Vance, once a vocal critic of Trump, has become a close and outspoken ally

    In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, President Joe Biden dismissed criticisms about his political rhetoric and his mental acuity.


    Much more at the link, which is NBC New’s live coverage of the Republican convention and of other new.

  4. StevoR says

    Aussie ABC live coverage of theRepugs convention here :

    Plus their piece on who Vance is – other than just a douchecanoe :

    In addtiion to this artuicle on the ominous, horrific Trump :plans if he wins here :

  5. says

    With respect to abiogenesis on the previous page I have thoughts, some already mentioned.

    Cells reproduce slow. 20 minutes. Molecular reactions can be many orders of magnitude faster. The membrane allows control of chemistry and access so the relationship between nucleic acids and amino acids can make membranes and themselves.

    I have this mental image of ribonucleic acid precursors and acetate, forming macromolecular communities in minerals. There is a set a things that are suggestive and this is where I am here in thinking about it.

    3 polymers:
    *Proteins (modified glycine chains)
    *Nucleic acids (Ribose + Glycine and a bunch of single carbon and nitrogen additions)
    *Fatty acids (a 3-carbon melavonate with sequential additions of a 2-carbon acetate) via fatty acid synthase.

    Fatty acid synthase also makes the long carbon chain part of the cofactors biotin and lipoide. These cofactors function in macromolecular complexes involved in making a bunch of the small amino acids, and other things.

    Acetyl-CoA carboxylase alpha (fatty acid biosynthesis)
    Acetyl-CoA carboxylase beta (fatty acid biosynthesis)
    Pyruvate carboxylase (aspartate biosynthesis)
    Methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase (breakdown of small amino acids)
    Propionyl-CoA carboxylase (leucine biosynthesis)

    Adding a bicarbonate 1C to 2C and 3C molecules.

    dihydrolipoyl transacetylase (pyruvate dehydrogenase complex in glycolysis, branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase complex in leucine, isoleucine, and valine synthesis and degradation)
    dihydrolipoyl succinyltransferase (oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex, glutamate synthesis/TCA cycle)
    H-protein (glycine cleavage system, glycine cleavage/biosynthesis, serine biosynthesis)

    This is also in CODH, carbon monoxide dehydrogenase which can put 2 carbons together or take them apart. Very ancient metabolism.

    Finally fatty synthase complexes are related to non-ribosomal peptide synthase complexes. A ribosome analog that makes things on a single polypeptide basis where the ribosome makes lots of peptides.

    There’s a kludge in here. And acetyl-CoA (acetate and ATP) is all over the place in here too. LUCA is too old. I’m impatient.

  6. lotharloo says

    CNN is giving wall to wall coverage to Trump. It’s absolutely disgusting.They even interviewed the first journalist who interviewed Trump after his ear got clipped, asking tough questions like “how was he like?” and shit like that.

  7. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Could anyone try to explain to me why no one is countering this “unlawful appointment” nonsense by pointing out that appointment of prosecutors is a power granted to the president by the congress, and not by the constitution? Again, circa the founding, many / most criminal prosecutors were the victims acting in their own private capacity, and the power to seek a grand indictment from a grand jury was a common law right, which was later slowly usurped by the legislatures of the States and by congress. This simple brute fact of history should demolish this stupid argument that it’s an improperly appointed prosecutor IMAO.

  8. KG says

    Irrelevant personal trivia: Zoe Williams’ father was briefly my line manager when I had a temporary Civil Service job, for part of which I worked in Wormwood Scrubs prison, interviewing prisoners about release procedure.

  9. JM says

    @13 GerrardOfTitanServer: Special prosecutors are officers of the US and their appointment covered by Article 2 section 2 of the Constitution. Any objection really has to be grounded in that somehow.
    Several objections to the office of special prosecutor have been raised before and the Supreme Court has upheld it’s legality. All of the lawyers that I have seen talk about this take it as a given that Cannon will be overturned by the Court of Appeals but a couple have said they are not confident about what this Supreme Court will do.

  10. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Special prosecutors are officers of the US and their appointment covered by Article 2 section 2 of the Constitution. Any objection really has to be grounded in that somehow.

    I disagree. This is not historically founded. Again, circa 1800, most criminal prosecutors were not executive officers. Most criminal prosecutors were the victim acting in their own private capacity.

  11. xohjoh2n says


    And even assuming it is overturned, with extreme prejudice, with the removal of Cannon and reassignment to a different district judge, it is highly likely that it will have served its intended purpose of delaying the trial until after the election.

  12. says

    Also the polypeptide binding sites for biotin and lipoamide are related, and related to glycine cleavage system H-protein, parts of RNA polymerases, ATP synthase V, and cytochrome f.

    It’s an interesting list of things, and there are some ribosomal proteins in related bins, as well as things in nucleotide biosynthesis in the CO dehydrogenase molybdoprotein N-domain-like bin.

    That link might be a bit much for some so I’ll copy paste a little.

    X – Possible homology level
    H – Homology level
    T – Topology level
    F – Family level

    X: alpha/beta-Hammerhead/Barrel-sandwich hybrid
    H: alpha/beta-Hammerhead/Barrel-sandwich hybrid
    T: CO dehydrogenase molybdoprotein N-domain-like
    T: Molybdopterin synthase subunit MoaE
    T: Pyrimidine nucleoside phosphorylase C-terminal domain
    T: Nicotinate/Quinolinate PRTase N-terminal domain-like
    T: Ribosomal protein L10e
    T: Duplicated hybrid motif
    T: Single hybrid motif
    F: DUF2118 PF09891 CL0105
    F: GCV_H PF01597 CL0105
    F: AstE_AspA PF04952 CL0105
    F: HlyD_3 PF13437 CL0105
    F: Biotin_lipoyl_2 PF13533 CL0105
    F: RPOC_hybrid PF21668 CL0105
    F: RNA_pol_Rpb2_6 PF00562 CL0410
    F: RnfC_N PF13375 CL0105
    F: HlyD_3,Biotin_lipoyl_2 PF13437 PF13533
    F: NQRA PF05896 CL0105
    F: Biotin_lipoyl PF00364 CL0105
    F: Apocytochr_F_C PF01333 CL0105
    F: NusG_add PF18298
    F: ATP-synt_ab_Xtn PF16886
    F: Unmapped domains
    Pseudo group of domains that do not map to PFam family profiles. Domains inside should not be considered as in one family.
    T: Ribosomal L27 protein

  13. says

    Why Russia has reason to be pleased with Vance on Trump’s ticket

    As a senior EU official put it, JD Vance joining Donald Trump’s Republican ticket is “a disaster for Ukraine.”

    The United States’ European allies were already feeling intense anxiety about the 2024 presidential election, fearing the prospect of having to work with Donald Trump again. Yesterday, those fears reached new heights after the Republican announced his new running mate.

    A senior EU official, for example, told Politico that the selection of Sen. JD Vance is “a disaster for Ukraine.” To appreciate why, consider this recent column from The Washington Post’s Max Boot, which was published before the Ohio senator was chosen for his party’s ticket.

    During his short time in the Senate, Vance has been a leader in opposing U.S. aid to Ukraine. “I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another,” he told Stephen K. Bannon in 2022. In a May speech to the Quincy Institute, an isolationist think tank, Vance said, “I do not think that it is in America’s interest to continue to fund an effectively never-ending war in Ukraine.”

    Vance isn’t the only opponent of U.S. support for Ukraine in his party — the Republican National Convention featured other such critics on the stage last night — but he’s arguably the most forceful voice in the GOP’s Senate delegation for abandoning our Ukrainian allies, as evidenced by his opposition to Congress’ bipartisan security aid package that passed in February.

    An NBC News report added that the senator “has carved out a niche” on the issue, arguing that Ukrainian officials could help end the war by simply giving Russia parts of their country. Vance has also “dismissed concerns that Vladimir Putin would continue his territorial march through Europe if he takes Ukraine.”

    As recently as April, Vance wrote a New York Times op-ed that argued that a Russian victory is inevitable — a line popular with the Kremlin — so the United States should adjust its policy accordingly.

    Around the same time, the Senate Republican sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper and argued that the United States should encourage Ukraine to “take a defensive posture,” instead of launching counteroffensives against their Russian invaders.

    It fell to the host to remind his guest, “The counteroffensive is within Ukraine, though. They’re not seeking land from Russia.”

    There’s already evidence to suggest Vladimir Putin’s government has launched a “whole-of-government” effort to help boost Trump’s candidacy in the 2024 elections. With Vance joining the Republican ticket, it’s likely Moscow will be even more enthusiastic about helping influence the outcome of the race.

    But there’s also a bigger picture to consider. In recent years, the Republican Party has struggled to settle on a new foreign policy vision, with one intraparty contingent sticking to a traditional GOP vision in which the United States remains a dominant voice in world affairs and takes an unyielding stance in support of democracy, while a Trumpified faction seeks a retreat while expressing sympathies for authoritarian regimes.

    With Trump and Vance at the top of the GOP ticket, the latter group appears ready to leave the former group behind.

  14. says

    Speakers at the Republican National Convention insisted that Donald Trump created “the strongest economy in history.” That’s demonstrably ridiculous.

    Every night of the Republican National Convention will have its own specific theme, and last night the was focus on “Making America Wealthy Again.” Before even hearing the party’s pitch, the label is at odds with the status quo: The United States has the strongest economy on the planet and is currently “the envy of the world.”

    Nevertheless, that’s not what attendees and viewers heard from Republican convention speakers.

    “Under President Trump,” Rep. Wesley Hunt of Texas declared, “we had the greatest economy in our lifetime.” Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama went further, insisting, “Under President Trump, we had the strongest economy in history. That’s right.”

    Except, there’s nothing “right” about the claim at all. A Washington Post fact-check piece explained:

    Britt is repeating one of Trump’s favorite falsehoods. Before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and sent unemployment soaring, the president could certainly brag about the state of the economy in his first three years as president. But he ran into trouble when he made a play for the history books to say it was the best economy in U.S. history. By just about any important measure, the economy under Trump did not do as well as it did under Presidents Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton.

    The Post’s piece actually understates matters. The economy didn’t do as well as it did under Barack Obama, either.

    Even if we exclude 2020, when the pandemic created a sharp and sudden recession, the story that Republicans prefer to tell about Trump’s economic record is at odds with the facts. The Post published a memorable analysis on this as 2019 neared its end.

    There’s no telling Trump that the economy is anything but sensational under his stewardship, of course, and there’s no telling him that it’s doing well for any reason other than his stewardship. Generally speaking, the economy is doing well, though there are ongoing concerns that the economic boom is slowing. But given Trump’s habit of comparing his performance to history, we thought it was worth comparing economic metrics under Trump to the second term of the last guy to hold Trump’s job: Barack Obama.

    It’s not what Republicans wanted to hear, but comparing the economy under Obama and Trump at the same points in their presidencies, the Post found that the economy grew faster under Obama, hiring grew faster under Obama, the S&P 500 grew faster under Obama, the unemployment rate shrunk faster under Obama, and the national debt grew slower under Obama.

    The analysis concluded, “[I]f we are linking economic numbers to presidential performance, Trump’s insistence that his abilities are unparalleled are rendered somewhat suspect in that he ranks second out of the last two presidents on a lot of these indicators.”

    Remember, all of this was true before the pandemic took a severe toll on the economy.

    Trump, of course, also ranks behind President Joe Biden, who has a stronger record than his GOP predecessor on job growth, unemployment and economic growth.

    In other words, at the opening night of the Republican convention, the party was eager to rewrite recent history — something Republicans do with unnerving frequency, […] but the facts are stubborn.

  15. says

    For the Republican Party, the pairing of the least experienced president and the least experienced running mate of the modern era doesn’t seem to matter.

    Donald Trump’s 2016 candidacy was unusual in a great many ways, but there was one part of his resume that stood out as extraordinary. Up until January 2017, literally every president American history had at least some experience in public office, military service, or both.

    […] Before his inauguration, Trump had never served the public in any capacity. Nevertheless, 46% of the American electorate elevated the former television personality to the nation’s highest and most powerful office.

    Soon after, the political world confronted a set of circumstances without precedent, at least in the United States: The head of the executive branch in the world’s preeminent superpower didn’t know the basics of how government worked. He sought the presidency without bothering to learn about his own country’s political structures and then arrived in the Oval Office with a child-like understanding of civic affairs.

    We know this, not just because of Trump’s many failures, but because people close to him have said so on the record.

    “I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about government,” former House Speaker Paul Ryan told Politico’s Tim Alberta in 2019. “I wanted to scold him all the time.”

    Five years later, Trump found himself in the market for a new running mate. The former president chose a young man whose political career is measured in months, not years. Fox News’ Brit Hume told viewers on Monday:

    “[Vance] is 39 years old, yes. He is very smart. His inexperience is real. Don Jr. is wrong when he says experience is not important. It’s very important, and he has very little of it. People are looking at him and saying, is this guy a plausible president? You could argue that he is but also argue that he is not.”

    The details are striking. While most modern running mates have extensive experience in elected office, Vance’s political career began literally last year.

    The Ohio senator is the least experienced vice presidential nominee for either party in nearly nine decades. (In 1936, newspaper publisher Frank Knox, who had no background in elected office, joined Alf Landon’s Republican ticket. They soon after lost 46 out of 48 states.)

    Vance was recently asked about his greatest accomplishment on Capitol Hill, and he pointed to funding from an infrastructure bill he voted against.

    For Trump, none of this seems to matter. […]

  16. says

    On Sunday afternoon, the day after being targeted by an assassination attempt, Donald Trump used his social media platform to promote a simple message. “UNITE AMERICA!” the former president wrote.

    Those who saw this and hoped that the terrifying events in Pennsylvania on Saturday might force a shift in the political climate quickly learned otherwise.

    On Monday afternoon, Trump published an angry and conspiratorial message that sounded an awful lot like the sort of content he published before the shooting. Soon after, the former president announced his running mate: Sen. JD Vance, a relentlessly partisan lawmaker who, just two days earlier, blamed President Joe Biden and his campaign team for the gunman who targeted Trump.

    Then the Republican National Convention got underway. As a Washington Post report summarized:

    After the assassination attempt, the Trump campaign and Republicans previewed what was supposedly to be a more unifying message. There was reason to doubt that would truly be what we’d get this week, and it proved a tough promise to keep.

    Part of the problem with the opening night of the Republican gathering in Milwaukee was the speaker’s list: It included North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, an extremist who recently declared, in reference to his perceived political enemies, “Some folks need killing! It’s time for somebody to say it. It’s not a matter of vengeance. It’s not a matter of being mean or spiteful. It’s a matter of necessity!”

    Attendees also heard from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a secession proponent who, as recently as this past weekend, said Democrats are “pedophiles” and “flat out evil.”

    And then, of course, there was the junior senator from the great state of Wisconsin. HuffPost noted:

    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), for example, opened the slate of GOP speeches by attacking the “radical far-left agenda,” which he defined as a “fringe … that includes biological males competing against girls and the sexualization and indoctrination of our children.” He went on to call Democratic policies “a clear and present danger to our institutions, our values and our people,” drawing cheers from the audience.

    So much for “UNITE AMERICA!”

    […] The Republican emphasis on “unity” was nice while it lasted, but it didn’t last long.


    MAGA Republicans are united around the idea that it is okay to be batshit bonkers, while encouraging JD Vance and the Heritage Foundation to do what is required to destroy democracy.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    Myself @ 23
    Let’s get the brass plates of the Old Testament…which has not been written yet… and sail to the New World in wooden…submarines?
    And introduce barley to America. Not. And ride around on horses that are on a different continent.
    Jeez, this is like the koran, but without the evil joos and christians.

  18. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    * The New York Times reported that Elon Musk is “likely” to offer “significant” support for a new pro-Trump super PAC created by Musk’s closest friends. The Wall Street Journal had a related report, noting that the conspiratorial billionaire is prepared to spend “around $45 million a month” in the hopes of putting Trump back in power.

    * In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is allowing federal Veterans Affairs and Small Business Administration sites to be used for voter registration efforts. This, oddly enough, has led to a new lawsuit from the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

    * Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced at a White House briefing yesterday, “In light of this weekend’s events, the president has directed me to work with the Secret Service to provide protection to Robert Kennedy Jr.” The independent presidential candidate has made multiple requests for this protection in recent months.

    * It’ll be a while before we know whether Donald Trump wins in the fall, but with Sen. JD Vance joining the Republican ticket, there’s already some jostling in Ohio over who might succeed the incumbent senator in the upper chamber. [JD Vance’s constituents had already complained that he worked mostly for Silicon Valley billionaires, and not for his constituents.]

    * In the wake of the attempt on Trump’s life, Dave McCormick, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, asked Democratic Sen. Bob Casey to suspend negative advertising. Yesterday, I heard from Maddy McDaniel, a Casey campaign spokesperson, who said, “On Saturday evening after the shooting, the Casey campaign worked with stations to stop advertising temporarily. The campaign will work to resume communication with voters in the days ahead to educate Pennsylvanians on Senator Casey’s record, his opponent’s record, and the stakes of this Senate race.”

  19. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] Vance is more specific and literal about what he supports. Whereas Trump usually bundles his comments in a hodgepodge word salad that is hard to pin him to, Vance is direct. He is an anti-abortion hardliner. People don’t care about vice presidents. But Vance’s crystal clear and extreme positions provide a path into revisiting what should and may be again at the center of this campaign: whether abortion will be banned nationwide or whether Roe will be reestablished by statute, whether coups — which Vance whole-hog supported — and political violence are our future.

    On a general level, Vance has embraced a version of conservatism significantly different from the roughshod laissez-faire of pre-Trump Republicans. He wants to weaponize state power against perceived cultural enemies. It is a piece of the cultural pessimism of the 21st century American right, which feels it is on the losing end of history. Getting government out of the way, as the old saw goes, is no longer sufficient. Government needs to be captured and harnessed to reverse course. That’s the core premise of the “national conservatism” that acolytes have built as a package or container for the raw rage energy of Trumpism.

    Which brings us to the final point: At the most basic level, Vance is another angry and aggrieved white guy, very much a successor to Trump, with all the political momentum and vulnerability that comes with it.

    I think Trump chose Vance for three reasons:
    – Vance said he will do what Mike Pence was unwilling to do.
    – Don Jr. and Vance are close friends.
    – Vance did a 180 and subjugated himself to Trump. Trump loves that.

  20. says

    In Vance, Trump Finds A Man Who Says He’ll Help Do The Coups

    […] In his swift public persona transformation from a Trump-bashing, moderate-appearing conservative to an all-out MAGA brawling, Don Jr.-emulating Trump loyalist, Vance has learned how to speak Trump’s language. (Trump’s love for repentance stories that involve people going from speaking badly about him publicly to groveling at his feet surely helped Vance get the Veepship, too.)

    […] perhaps the former president has known for some time that Vance would be his right-hand man. I’m thinking specifically of a moment earlier this year, when the Ohio senator completed his transformation into a human vessel/mouthpiece for Trump’s various grievances, specifically the one closest to his heart: his anger with former Vice President Mike Pence […]

    “If I had been vice president, I would have told the states, like Pennsylvania, Georgia and so many others, that we needed to have multiple slates of electors, and I think the U.S. Congress should have fought over it from there,” Vance said during an interview with ABC News in February. “That is the legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of folks, including me, think had a lot of problems in 2020.”

  21. says

    Kinzinger: Moscow ‘celebrating’ Vance pick as Trump VP

    […] “They are celebrating that choice, both in Milwaukee tonight and in Moscow,” Kinzinger said Monday in an interview on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” referencing the locations of this week’s Republican National Convention and Russia’s capital city.

    “JD Vance is the one that has … very loudly talked about how he doesn’t care what happens in Ukraine. He has opposed aid to Ukraine,” Kinzinger said. “At a time where, since World War II, the biggest defense of a country, of freedom, that is happening right now.” […]

    “And all we have to do is help finance that,” Kinzinger continued. “We are not even fighting. And JD Vance has aggressively parroted actual Russian talking points.”

    […] “To me, he’s a guy that was an anti-Trumper, that all of a sudden is the biggest pro-Trumper,” Kinzinger said. “He has no moral soul, no center. And how you can like Russia and what they are doing in Ukraine is beyond me. I think it was a terrible pick for the president.”

    […] And he’s called for engaging with Russia President Vladimir Putin to deliver for “American interests.”

    […] the fact that Putin is a bad guy does not mean we can’t engage in basic diplomacy and prioritizing America’s interests,” he added. “There are a lot of bad guys all over the world, and I’m much more interested in some of the problems in East Asia right now than I am in Europe.” […]

  22. says

    birger @23 and 25, The Book of Mormon reads like it was written by a teenage boy who quickly tired of anything resembling coherence. He did enjoy battles and tales of overcoming extreme hardships (like sailing long distances in submarines filled with animals … with no way to dispose of the animal excrement).

    You can predict when the next battle that involves cutting off the arms of enemy will occur even if you don’t know the story. Joseph Smith (and his possible co-authors) had an obvious inability to tolerate exposition. A little bit of explication would be offered and then it was on to the next battle or on to the next trial and tribulation.

    In Mormondom, an entire industry revolves around trying to find historical, archeological, or even anecdotal “proof” that every detail presented in The Book of Mormon is true.

  23. says

    A lot was missing from Day 1 of the RNC, by Mark Sumner

    Donald Trump had already announced his selection for vice president, removing 99.4% of the drama from the Republican National Convention before it even officially opened in the “horrible” city of Milwaukee on Monday. All that’s left is to see if angry beard guy can deliver a speech that doesn’t terrify America.

    Soon after Trump made an appearance with a bright white square of gauze to cover his ear, there were images of him appearing to sleep through the speeches at the RNC. Based on the timing of the video, it seems likely that Trump was closing his eyes during a prayer. […]

    the opening night of the RNC was hugely boring.

    From an offkey rendition of the national anthem, to a series of speeches whose only redeeming feature was that they were mostly brief, the first night of the RNC was marked by low energy performances and a surprisingly disinterested response.

    If Republicans were supposed to be coming into this convention fired up and ready to express their enthusiasm, they certainly didn’t show it on Monday night. [Except for Trump’s entrance, that was greeted with religious fervor.] And what they got onstage was a list of underwhelming performances from C-tier Republican celebrities.

    Sen. Tim Scott, who failed to make the semi-finals of the vice president selection, was there to reassure racists that racism is fine. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem bragged about how she did nothing to fight COVID-19. Even Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene brought with her only a moment of transphobia delivered like she was reciting a badly memorized poem.

    House Speaker Mike Johnson retreated from the stage when the teleprompter broke down. Sen. Ron Johnson forgot his unity speech and instead delivered his plain-old theme of transphobia and hate before claiming that the teleprompter was loaded with the wrong speech. This suggests that the lesson of the night was that not enough Republicans joined the A/V club in high school.

    Toward the end of Monday night, in what felt like a sad attempt to connect to the youth, model and TV personality Amber Rose spoke on how the media has lied about Trump. Of course, she, like many, wasn’t always a fan of Trump, saying in 2016, “He’s just such an idiot. He’s so weird. I really hope he’s not president.”

    Trump entered the hall as a “wounded warrior.” And he had just given the MAGA-laden crowd a VP pick that caters to their worst demands. […] Maybe Republicans will turn it up on subsequent evenings when the “big names” appear. But last night was less watchable than the reunion show of a reality TV program you didn’t watch in the first place.

    So far, the Republican idea of “unity” seems to be stopping North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson from explaining just who needs killing and calling Donald Trump “the Braveheart of our times.” Yep. That happened. […]

    In selecting hardcore MAGA Sen. J.D. Vance as his vice president, Trump has thrown away any charade of seeking national unity or fulfilling the predictions of a media that seems eternally seeking the day when he becomes “presidential.” Boring is still within his grasp.

    […] Since the apparent assassination attempt on Trump in Butler, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, former Gov. Nikki Haley has reversed her previous position and said she will appear later in the convention.

    But Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump are not on the published list of speakers. Neither is Mike Pence. Trump’s wife, daughter, and former vice president—all of whom spoke at the convention in 2020—are not slated to take the stage.

    Who’s not there seems a lot more interesting than who is.

  24. Taneli Huuskonen says

    Bekenstein Bound @453:
    The effect of drawing RNA sequences with replacement, as opposed to without replacement, is dwarfed by other incertainties involved. You don’t need to take my word for it; just calculate the approximate number of trials needed to have better than even chances with vs. without replacement, 99 vs. 100 bases, 1 vs. 2 successful sequences.

  25. says

    There are a few more subtle mistakes up there. I should probably get them all as I see them. First amination is incorrect, the chemistry I’ve looked at is mostly imination (involves a different way of attachment of nitrogen), and amination involves the cofactor pyridoxal phosphate. The nitrogen transfers in the purine pathway and NAD biosynthesis are not aminations and don’t need pyridoxal phosphate. Which I think is suggestive (there is a glycine imination involved in the thiamine thiazole which is the part actively involved in moving often 2 carbon units, or grabbing them by acetate like parts).

    Also I left out pyrimidines above (aspartate + carbamate then attach to ribose). Not exactly a mistake, the purines are older and connected to thiamine biosynthesis, but still…

  26. says

    There’s other interesting things already up there I haven’t pointed out too. The protein that attaches ribose to the ring on the way to making NAD is in that set and represents a larger group. The Nicotinate/Quinolinate PRTase N-terminal domain-like bin. Maybe proton and electron control came early and is connected to pyrimidines due to the similarity in how the ring is made and then attached to ribose? It’s like staring into the void.

  27. JM says

    NBC News: Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez found guilty on all counts

    Menendez was charged with 16 counts, including bribery, extortion, acting as a foreign agent, obstruction of justice and several counts of conspiracy.

    Menendez didn’t testify in his own defense; his team argued that he was acting on behalf of his constituents, as any senator should, and that the government hadn’t proven that the cash or gold bars were given as bribes.

    Yes, Menendez was reduced to claiming that the cash and gold bars were just gifts from friends. This is only a fraction of what Menendez is guilty of but the state only went after the clear cut easily proven charges. Menendez is a master of vacation bribery, where a friend/business associate flies him to some resort location on their tab and gives Menendez cash gifts.

  28. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    New Hampshire House candidate suspends bid over media coverage of 1989 murder conviction

    “(The reporting) is causing me mental stress and affecting my family relations,” Edgington wrote. “I don’t need this.”
    He was 18 when he pleaded “no contest” in Florida to a second-degree murder charge in connection with the beating and strangulation death of a motel charge.

    Edgington and his co-defendant avoided more serious first-degree murder convictions by pleading no contest, accepting their prison terms without admitting guilt. Edgington maintains his innocence and told the Bulletin he was hiding in the motel bathroom during the murder. He served about eight years of his 25-year sentence. […] it is too late for him to withdraw from the race.

    Okay, coercive plea bargaining IS a real systemic problem. A political run was foolish. OTOH, this was a rare Republican with shame… assuming he doesn’t win and take the seat anyhow. Let’s see what that prior reporting said…
    Murder conviction. Bankruptcy. FBI sting. House candidate would like to explain.

    A candidate running on fiscal responsibility
    Edgington was initially charged with being an accessory […] Edgington then helped [the killer] escape to Florida and later lied to the police […] Authorities upgraded the charge to first-degree murder after someone reported to the authorities that Edgington had described having a bigger role
    “I’m not claiming to have been innocent. I’m not saying that,” Edgington said. “I am saying I was charged inaccurately.


  29. Bekenstein Bound says

    Arrogant, ignorant and snotty behavior at the Republican convention

    You expected otherwise? Conservatives are all a bunch of spoiled brats. “Waaah! I don’t wanna pay my taxes! Waaaah! White straight men aren’t automatically the center of attention anymore! Waaah! I don’t wanna learn new pronouns for some people! Waaah! I stamp want stamp my stamp property stamp values! stamp I stamp want stamp my stamp PROPERTY stamp VALUES!!! No fair! Biden cheeeeeeeated!

    That’s the core premise of the “national conservatism” that acolytes have built as a package or container for the raw rage energy of Trumpism.

    “National conservatism”. Well, it’s a bit more honest a name for it than “national socialism” was, I’ll grant it that.

    birgerjohansson@40: Would you mind giving a brief precis of things like this, for those of us who prefer getting the gist by reading text to sitting through videos that require us to leave the site we’re currently on?

    Taneli Huuskonen@35: To get the “efficient search on Earth” time down to 500 million years would require there to be a self-replicating RNA of 80 or fewer bases; even 100 seems a generously low estimate for something like that. And on the matter of “metabolism first”, until there’s a mechanism for heredity (which seemingly must be RNA, unless, unlikely, DNA came first), there’s no fitness landscape hill-climbing, just wholly blind searching. Metabolism first might get you a relatively more efficient search than otherwise, but it can’t and won’t shorten the minimum time to the first replicator calculated already assuming a maximally efficient search.

    Abiogenesis is almost surely a “hard step”, and for reasons already outlined, it’s unlikely it would have happened as early as it did unless there were at least four or five more of those between it and us. It seems more plausible that there are two, one around two billion years ago (so very likely related to the development of eukaryotes) and one around now (language, or perhaps fire, or perhaps surviving technological adolescence … but that last, oft supposed, actually seems less likely to me, because then getting to civilization-building sapience from a paramecium must be an easy step and the geological record should be littered with lost pre-human civilizations that fumbled the technological-adolescence ball. There’d be a thin layer of odd metals, perhaps the eventual stable products of the decay of nuclear fallout as well as industrially useful stuff in weird concentrated patches, things like neodymium and depleted uranium. Plus otherwise-inexplicable climate excursions and extinction events. All the extinction events we’ve identified seem to be caused by impacts, flood basalts, or both and don’t seem accompanied by strange metal concentrations, save the Chicxulub iridium layer, which has a natural explanation. Also, we’ve passed the point of being able to send detectable radio transmissions at interstellar ranges, though few such transmissions have actually been sent).

  30. birgerjohansson says

    Rosa Emily Clay became the first Black person to get a citizenship in Finland, 1898. She later migrated to USA where she thrived in the Finn community.

  31. birgerjohansson says

    Another history factoid.
    Modern-style foldable parachutes were not invented yet during WWI.
    There was only a clumsy tall umbrella- type parachute.
    This could be used by soldiers under the observation balloons but were too unwieldy for the tiny aircraft of the era.
    If tracer bullets set an aircraft on fire and the altitude was too high for a rapid emergency landing (pretty much 100% of the time) the pilot could either burn up with the aircraft or jump to his death.
    As for ejection seats they did not become standard until Heinkel 219 and the Swedish SAAB J 21.
    British company Martin-Baker was the first to patent it, post-war.

  32. KG says

    It seems more plausible that there are two, one around two billion years ago (so very likely related to the development of eukaryotes) and one around now (language, or perhaps fire, or perhaps surviving technological adolescence … but that last, oft supposed, actually seems less likely to me, because then getting to civilization-building sapience from a paramecium must be an easy step and the geological record should be littered with lost pre-human civilizations that fumbled the technological-adolescence ball. – Bekenstein Bound@49

    More likely, once something similar to a bilaterian exists, there’s an asymmetrically bounded branching random walk among its evolutionary descendants with respect to social and behavioural complexity (and the anatomy and physiology underlying it). Provided no planeary-scale catastrophe wipes the slate entirely, sooner or later one of those descendants will reach a point at which technological innovations can both accumulate through cultural transmission, and themselves favour further biological evolution toward the ability to use the innovations. Then the technologically adept species discovers capitalism and promptly destroys its environment, and hence itself.

  33. KG says

    To finish the thought@56: so “getting to civilization-building sapience from a paramecium” (or at least from a bilaterian) is neither an “easy step” nor a “hard step”, but a long, branching series of small steps in various directions.

  34. birgerjohansson says

    KG, Bekenstein, Brony et al.
    I will once again do a plug for the book “Lucky Planet”.
    It brings up many more critical obstacles on the path from accretion disc to hairy things banging rocks together to make fire.

  35. birgerjohansson says

    Menendez is a fool. Once you reach a certain level of wealth and power there are multitudes of loopholes deliberately left open by legislators for those who want to do legal crimes.

  36. KG says


    Sounds interesting, but inevitably speculative. I’m not convinced by Bekenstein Bound’s version of panspermia, because I think a long RNA molecule capable of self-replication without a lot of additional molecular machinery is neither possible nor necessary as a first living thing. But evidence one way or the other could presumably be collected from around the solar system – if that version of panspermia is true, there should surely be bacteria-like organisms (fossil if not living) in lots of places – so it has the great advantage of a degree of testability. Not sure how you’d test the “Lucky Planet” hypothesis, but maybe the book suggests ways to do so.

  37. says

    Summarized by Steve Benen, from NBC News:

    At the 2004 Republican National Convention, some attendees put bandages on their faces as a way to mock then-Sen. John Kerry’s Purple Heart. Twenty years later, at the 2024 Republican National Convention, some attendees have put bandages on their ears as a sign of solidarity with Donald Trump.

    From HuffPo:

    On the second night of the Republicans’ convention, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice declared, in apparent reference to his fellow partisans, “We become totally unhinged if Donald Trump is not elected in November.”

    You mean they are not already totally unhinged? There’s still room to grow?

    From Associated Press:

    Vice President Kamala Harris and Sen. JD Vance reportedly spoke yesterday and agreed to debate. The details, however, are still being negotiated.

  38. says

    Why do Americans believe crime is getting worse, despite the evidence? In part because Republican officials keep pushing demonstrably false claims.

    […] On the second night of the Republican National Convention, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik railed against President Joe Biden’s “violent crime crisis.” House Speaker Mike Johnson made similar comments, declaring, “We can’t survive the dramatic increases in violence, crime and drugs that the Democrats’ policies have brought upon our communities.”

    Note the over-the-top hyperbole: To hear the Louisiana Republican tell it, crime hasn’t just reached crisis levels, it’s also reached the point at which the United States “can’t survive” such rampant crime.

    For now, let’s put aside the irony of Republican officials denouncing crime rates while simultaneously nominating a criminal for the nation’s highest office. Instead, let’s focus on the degree to which Stefanik, Johnson and several other convention speakers turned reality on its head.

    In fact, CNN reported a month ago on the latest statistics from the FBI showing a 15% drop in violent crime this year.

    The new numbers show violent crime from January to March dropped 15.2% compared to the same period in 2023, while murders fell 26.4% and reported rapes decreased by 25.7%. Aggravated assaults decreased during that period when compared to last year by 12.5%, according to the data, while robberies fell 17.8%. … Meanwhile, property crime went down 15.1% in the first three months of this year. Burglaries dropped 16.7%, while motor vehicle theft decreased by 17.3%. The declines in violent and property crimes were seen in every region of the US.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a written statement that the latest data “makes clear that last year’s historic decline in violent crime is continuing.”

    The reference to last year was especially notable because of the encouraging results from 2023. NBC News reported in March, for example, “that crime in the U.S. declined significantly in 2023, continuing a post-pandemic trend and belying widespread perceptions that crime is rising.”

    All of this, of course, follows a dramatic spike in the murder rate in 2020 — the final year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

    […] Prominent Republican voices likely know that crime rates are falling. That apparently doesn’t stop them from telling the public the opposite of the truth, working from the assumption that many voters will simply believe the falsehoods and never hear about actual crime data.

    […] The evidence makes clear that Biden has a compelling story to tell: Crime rates, most notably murder rates, spiked toward the end of his Republican predecessor’s term. Under the incumbent Democratic president’s leadership, Americans are now safer.

    Common sense might suggest that GOP officials would see the news and try to move the public conversation away from this area of strength for Biden. But as it turns out, they find it far easier to effectively say, “Why don’t we just make stuff up and wait for the public to buy it?”

  39. says

    Unintended comedy:

    During her remarks at the Republican National Convention, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird delivered an odd boast about her party’s approach to law enforcement. “We put criminals where they belong: in jail,” Bird said to applause. “That’s why we need to elect President Donald J. Trump.”

    […] Vivek Ramaswamy, ignoring the former president’s crimes, insisted on the convention stage that Trump would “restore law and order in this country.” House Speaker Mike Johnson similarly declared, “We in the Republican Party are the law-and-order team. We always have been, and we always will be, the advocates for the rule of law.”

    My personal favorite was the speech from House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who practically shouted this incredible message: “Donald Trump stands with the people and the police — our men and women in blue — not with the criminals and rioters.”

    […] A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t try to defund law enforcement agencies based on nonsensical conspiracy theories. A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t endorse retaliatory, politically motivated prosecutions against innocent people. A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t reward accused criminals, elevating them to positions in which they could help steer the party’s future.

    A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t have a suspected criminal, indicted on election-related charges, oversee the party’s election-year legal efforts. A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t rally behind a presidential nominee who’s running on a platform of pardoning violent criminals and putting them back onto the streets. A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t nominate for president a criminal who’s surrounded himself with other convicted criminals.

    A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t scramble to condemn one of its own after he encouraged voters to respect the legal process. A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t boo police officers for telling them inconvenient truths.

    A party that cares about the rule of law wouldn’t invite a convicted criminal to speak at their national convention within hours of his release from prison. [Peter Navarro was released from prison yesterday and then spoke at the RNC convention.]


  40. says

    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s anti-immigrant remarks at the Republican National Convention have been described as “grotesque,” and it’s worth understanding why.

    Eight years ago this week, Sen. Ted Cruz delivered remarks at the Republican National Convention. They were not well received.

    The Texas senator had just wrapped up his own failed presidential bid, during which time he got to know Donald Trump fairly well. Their relationship, however, could’ve been better: The future president went after Cruz’s wife and suggested Cruz’s father played a role in the JFK assassination. The senator, meanwhile, told voters that Trump was a “pathological liar,” a “bully,” a “narcissist,” “utterly amoral” and a “sniveling coward” with “a consistent pattern of inciting violence.”

    With this in mind, when Cruz spoke at his party’s 2016 convention, he couldn’t quite bring himself to endorse his former rival, instead saying, “If you love our country and love your children as much as I know that you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience.” The booing from attendees was relentless.

    In the years that followed, the senator did what most Republicans did and became a Trump sycophant. It was against this backdrop that the far-right senator spoke again at his party’s national convention — and this time, he received a far warmer reception than he did eight years ago.

    Cruz pleased attendees, not only by throwing his support behind the GOP ticket, but also by feeding the crowd the kind of anti-immigrant red meat that tends to generate strong reactions.

    Pitching the idea that the United States has become a violent hellscape as a result of undocumented criminals, Cruz went so far as to declare: “How did we get here? It happened because Democrats cynically decided they wanted votes from illegals more than they wanted to protect our children.” [Video featuring Rachel Maddow’s comments]

    To the extent that reality still matters, Cruz combined a series of lies to create one larger lie. The senator told people to believe that non-citizen voting is rampant, which isn’t true. He told people to believe that Democratic officials want support from non-citizen voters, which isn’t true and doesn’t make any sense. And perhaps most importantly, Cruz told people to believe that Democratic officials are willing to sacrifice the lives of American children — deliberately — in order to benefit electorally from the support from non-citizen voters, which is transgressive madness.

    A Washington Post analysis described the Texas Republican’s rhetoric as “grotesque.”

    Cruz claimed not only that Democrats were encouraging immigration to gain power, but that they were callously sacrificing children to do so. What can you say about that? You can say it’s false. You can say it’s toxic. You can say it’s opportunistic or cynical or a degradation. But none of this really captures it. It doesn’t capture Cruz, standing on a stage at the convention, speaking on a night in which his party was purportedly demonstrating its commitment to safety, accusing his political opponents of letting boys and girls be murdered so that they can get a few more votes in some House races.

    Cruz is not a dumb man. He surely knows that his ugly rhetoric is false. He pitched it to a national audience anyway.

    So much for “unity.”

    Watching the senator’s appalling speech, I was reminded of recent chatter about Cruz turning over a new leaf. The Texas Tribune reported in April, for example, that Cruz, as part of his latest re-election campaign, was “casting himself as a bipartisan lawmaker with a penchant for reaching across the aisle.”

    The Wall Street Journal soon after published a related report, noting that Cruz is “rolling out a softer, bipartisan side,” and taking steps to “recast his image as a dealmaking lawmaker.” The article added, “His campaign even shot ads featuring ‘Democrats for Cruz.’”

    His convention speech made fools of those who believed such talk.

  41. says

    Washington Post:

    President Biden unveiled a new proposal in Nevada on Tuesday to cap rental costs nationwide, according to three people familiar with the matter. … Biden’s plan — which would need to be approved by Congress — calls for stripping a tax benefit from landlords who increase their tenants’ rent more than 5 percent per year, the people said. The measure would only apply to landlords who own more than 50 units, which represents roughly half of all rental properties, the people said.

  42. says

    Twice-divorced Trump’s new running mate wants to restrict divorce

    No one goes into a marriage hoping for a divorce. It’s an unhappy end to what should be a source of happiness. However, like abortion, divorce is a personal choice—one that is sadly sometimes necessary to protect life or health.

    And divorce, like abortion, is something that conservative Republicans are now trying to take away.

    Among conservatives, there’s a longing for a time when divorce was both difficult and shameful. Divorce, especially no-fault divorce, has long been fingered by some conservatives as the root of many, if not all, evils. Some of the worst in Congress, like Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, have advocated the idea of ending no-fault divorce.

    Now those conservatives think they have their champion in Donald Trump’s running mate, JD Vance, who insists that women should be locked into “even violent” marriages.

    In 1969, the first no-fault divorce law in the United States was signed by a divorced former actor turned governor of California, Ronald Reagan. Over the next forty years, no-fault divorce laws spread across the United States, with New York being the last state to sign on, in 2010. These laws ended a period in which any party filing for divorce had to not simply give some reason for the dissolution of marriage—like adultery, cruelty, or abuse—but also provide evidence to support these claims. Some couples would even risk faking adultery or subject themselves to unnecessary moves to achieve a divorce. In many cases, women facing domestic violence would be blocked by the financial or social costs of mounting a case for divorce, or forced to stay with abusers by judges who didn’t accept their pleas.

    The result of no-fault divorce was immediately visible, not just in an increase in divorce but also in a sharp decrease in domestic violence. States where no-fault divorce laws were passed saw around a 30% drop in domestic violence between 1976 and 1985. In addition, the number of women murdered by domestic partners decreased by 10%. Even suicide among women declined once no-fault divorce made it possible to dissolve failed marriages without an extended legal fight and public shame.

    But among conservative Christians, no-fault divorce was looked on as an enormous mistake. The Heritage Foundation, authors of the authoritarian Project 2025 agenda, have railed against no-fault divorce for decades, arguing that parents of children under 18 should not be allowed to divorce without proving it wouldn’t be harmful to the children or arguing more recently that it “was no-fault divorce, not same-sex marriage, that first redefined marriage in the United States.” According to Heritage, “No-fault divorce stripped marriage of its durability and security. Instead, marriage lasts until feelings depart or spouses decide it’s no longer allowing them to ‘live their best life.’”

    Somehow, they view using state power to keep people in a relationship that they no longer want as a good thing.

    As Salon reports on Tuesday, Vance has been among those with the harshest view of divorce, taking a position that might sound extreme even to extremists.

    Speaking to an audience at Pacifica Christian High School in Southern California, Vance called no-fault divorce “one of the great tricks … that the sexual revolution pulled on America.” According to Vance, ending marriages that were “maybe even violent” somehow harmed the children more than suffering through those violent marriages. [video at the link]

    The result of no-fault divorce, Vance said, was that people were not “doggedly determined to stick it out” as they had been during his grandparent’s generation. Note that this is coming from the same man who wrote a book saying that his “family tradition” was poverty. Getting out of relationships involving unhappiness and abuse might not have changed that, but it certainly could not have hurt.

    Spurred on by right-wing Christian groups, anti-divorce legislation is now spreading through red-state legislatures just as anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights bills did earlier. Proposals in Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas would eliminate no-fault divorce in those states. Missouri currently does not allow women to seek a divorce while pregnant, even when trapped in an abusive relationship.

    While Project 2025 doesn’t explicitly call for an end to no-fault divorce, members of its advisory board and the primary authors at the Heritage Foundation have made that call.

    Like abortion, divorce is an issue that should be settled by individuals, not the state. No one should be forced to enter into a marriage they don’t want. And no one should be forced to stay.

    No-fault divorce has saved lives. But the same thing was true of safe, legal abortion. Those deaths aren’t an issue for the men who are more interested in imposing their idea of morality on those who do not agree.

    As for Donald Trump, who—well, both of his divorces had a cause: Trump’s adultery. So that’s okay to conservatives. [Video at the link: top Trump advocate, echoing Project 2025, says divorce should be “outlawed.”]

  43. says

    Dark Brandon Wants To Minorly Tweak Supreme Court, And Trump Is FURIOUS

    At long last, Joe Biden the institutionalist appears ready to announce that he supports some tweaks to the illegitimate Republican partisan hack Supreme Court. Expanding it to 19 and requiring that all the new justices are Black drag queens who love critical race theory and pronouns? No not that yet.

    But he’s reportedly going to support an ethics code that has teeth, and enforcement mechanisms, and also term limits.

    Good things, all!

    And Donald Trump — who handpicked/stole the Supreme Court seats that are directly responsible for, among other things, confiscating the whole country’s bodily autonomy and abortion rights and giving them to a bunch of old white conservative fascist men — is SOFUCKINGMAD. [Screen grab of Trump’s post is available at the link]

    […] He said:

    The Radical Left Democrats are desperately trying to “Play the Ref” by calling for an illegal and unConstitutional attack on our SACRED United States Supreme Court. The reason that these Communists are so despondent is that their unLawful Witch Hunts are failing everywhere. The Democrats are attempting to interfere in the Presidential Election, and destroy our Justice System, by attacking their Political Opponent, ME, and our Honorable Supreme Court. We have to fight for our Fair and Independent Courts, and protect our Country. MAGA2024!

    – This nutsack is now putting capital letters in the middle of words? What kind of illiterate brain damaged tomfoolery is this?
    – Haha, he is so mad.
    – These white Nazi fascist Republicans think attacking/stacking/rigging/STOLLENing the Supreme Court is OK when they do it. But the things Biden is proposing, which would be very legal and very cool, are not OK, because they would interfere with white Nazi fascist Republican plans to continue attacking/stacking/rigging/STOLLENing the Court.
    – Haha, so mad.

    Oh well, maybe Trump should go fuck himself, that’d be our recommendation.

  44. says

    On Monday, in a move widely criticized by union members and labor advocates across the country, Teamsters President Sean O’Brien spoke to the Republican National Convention. He was very well received there, likely because he spent at least half of his speech talking about how lovely it was for Donald Trump — who, notably, stacked the National Labor Relations Board with anti-union activists, stacked the courts with anti-labor judges, and overall supported policies and tax breaks that helped the rich and hurt the working class — to have invited him to come speak.

    Also because, while Republicans may hate what unions actually do, they love it when members of groups they have historically screwed turn around and support them anyway. What better way to totally “own the libs” than to say “Look! We’ve spent decades weakening unions with Right-To-Work-For-Less laws and opposing any raise to the minimum wage and this union guy loves us!”

    O’Brien’s speech itself was mostly about him giving the speech. How meta!

    “Several months ago,” he said, “I asked the RNC and the DNC for the opportunity to speak. To be frank, when President Trump invited me to speak at this convention there was political unrest on the Left and on the Right. Hard to believe! Anti-union groups demanded the president rescind his invitation [no reaction from the audience], the Left called me a traitor [pause for boos] and this is precisely why it’s so important for me to be here today. Think about this, think about this — the Teamsters are doing something correct if the extremes in both parties think I shouldn’t be on this stage.”

    First of all — those people not “the extremes in both parties.” They are regular-ass Democrats and, frankly, your standard “Fuck The Poor” Republicans. As objectionable as I may find those Republicans, they are relatively mild in comparison to the Actual Nazis the party now embraces so wholeheartedly.

    Second of all, the man has no business bringing the rest of the Teamsters into this […]

    “We will not allow the working-class labor movement to be destroyed by a scab masquerading as a pro-union advocate after doing everything in his power to destroy the very fabric of unions,” James Curbeam, the national chairman of the Teamsters National Black Caucus, wrote in a statement back when O’Brien first started his bromance with Trump.

    Dissatisfaction with O’Brien is nothing new. Since January of 2023, Teamsters have been voicing their criticism of O’Brien’s leadership on the forum. When he found out about that, O’Brien actually enlisted known union-busting firm Nixon Peabody (which also counts Donald Trump as a client) to try to take it down.

    In his speech, O’Brien was also sure to give Trump the requisite tongue bath, effusively praising him for being such a very very very tough guy.

    Trump had the backbone to open the doors to this Republican convention and that’s unprecedented. No other nominee in the race would have invited the Teamsters into this arena. Now, you can have whatever opinion you want, but one thing is clear: President Trump is a candidate who is not afraid of hearing from new loud and often critical voices …

    I’m sorry, what?

    And I think we all can agree, whether people like them or they don’t like him, in light of what happened to him on Saturday he has proven to be one tough SOB.

    […] In a particularly baffling move, O’Brien began praising the Republican politicians he felt were coming around in terms of support for labor. Remember Markwayne Mullin, the Oklahoma Senator with whom he nearly got into fisticuffs with last year?

    “Now this will shock you,” he said, “This will shock you. To paraphrase Senator Markwayne Mullin, it’s time for both both sides of Congress to stand their butts up.”

    More shocking than that, I’d say, is that he followed that right up with, “It needs to be easier for companies to remain in America” — clearly designed to appeal to those who want lower taxes and fewer regulations for companies, but who would also like to pretend that the reason they want those things is because they support workers, not because they love greedy corporations. That is not a pro-worker statement. O’Brien knows that companies manufacture goods overseas because they are greedy.

    O’Brien presumably also knows that Joe Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act has led to $270 billion in manufacturing investments so far, and 36,000 new manufacturing jobs. Right here. In America.

    […] It is very unlikely that Republicans are going to turn around and suddenly start supporting labor en masse, so all he did was go up there like a fool and sell out thousands of workers across the US for some rather tepid clapping.

    Republicans want union support not because they support workers or support the existence of unions (certainly Donald Trump doesn’t), but because they like the aesthetics. They want to seem cool and pro-working class, as that will make it even easier for them to pass legislation designed to benefit the rich. Also because they want to “own the libs” and be able to say “See! The unions like us!”

    And none of that is going to actually help any workers, anywhere.

  45. says

    Biden wants to reform the Supreme Court. So do Americans, by Mark Sumner

    On Tuesday evening, The Washington Post reported that President Joe Biden is preparing to announce his support for major reforms to the Supreme Court. Rather than call for immediate expansion of the court or for the impeachment of justices clearly violating the court’s toothless ethics guidelines, Biden will seek to establish term limits and an enforceable code of ethics.

    Biden is also considering whether to promote a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s recent decision giving presidents broad immunity from prosecution.

    While not offering the prospect of immediate relief from the precedent-breaking rulings of this ultraconservative court, Biden’s proposals would bring serious (and overdue) changes to the court—and they’re some of the most consequential ever put forward. The proposals also have the advantage of not being overtly partisan or created to generate a particular end, unlike court expansion. They also have the advantage of being really smart politics.

    Republicans would viciously fight any Democratic proposal to expand the court. […]

    When polled by Gallup in 2023, Americans were roughly evenly split over the idea of expanding the court, with 51% opposing it and 46% supporting it. But the same poll shows overwhelmingly bipartisan support both for placing an age limit on members of the court (74% support it) and for placing term limits on Congress members (87% percent support it). The reported proposal from Biden would sort of combine those two ideas, using a term limit for justices instead of an age limit. This has advantages over putting an age limit on the court because three of the four youngest justices are Trump appointees, and an age limit would allow them to remain on the court for decades to come.

    And while Republicans would assail placing term limits on justices, that proposal would likely garner high enough levels of public support to make Republicans think twice. Even if they don’t, Republican leadership would be on record opposing a popular proposal, while Biden would be on record as offering an innovative solution to a widely-recognized problem.

    Smart. Politics.

    This is even more true for an enforceable code of ethics. A May survey from Data for Progress shows 77% of likely voters say Supreme Court justices and their spouses should be required to follow a code of ethics. Just 10% of likely voters, including only 18% of Republicans, oppose this idea. Overall, 73% felt that members of the court should be held to the same ethics standards as other federal judges. Only 17% felt that the court should be allowed to set its own ethical standards.

    That’s about as good a mandate as any idea is going to get […]

    Republicans in Congress are sure to view any ethics proposal as a response to the escapades of Justices Thomas and Samuel Alito and their insurrection-loving wives. So would the public. However, not only do a majority of likely voters support impeaching both Thomas and Alito (after voters are informed about those justices’ ethical lapses), but putting Republicans in the position of opposing ethical guidelines is essentially the same as forcing them to stand there and declare themselves the party of corruption.

    That’s also very smart politics.

    Biden’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to reverse the recent Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity is also likely to be popular. No one is particularly fond of the “Seal Team 6” scenario in which a president would be immune from having his political rivals assassinated. And it could be seen as a willingness on Biden’s part to surrender power and hold his office to higher standards at the same time that he is proposing such standards for the court.

    None of this is to say that expanding the court is a bad idea. It may be the only way that the United States could gain relief from this court’s egregious rulings. Democrats should absolutely be ready to push that idea if this year’s election provides them the presidency and a majority in both chambers of Congress.

    But right now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin should be prepared to pounce on Biden’s court proposals as soon as they are announced.

    […] These are likely to be popular ideas. This is a very good fight to have in the months leading up to the election. So please, have it. Loudly and enthusiastically.

    Now would be better than later. Getting this in public and forcing Republicans to react to it while the RNC is still going on would be just … peachy. Let Donald Trump deliver an acceptance speech in which he bombastically defends corruption. Put Republicans on the defense.

    And deliver something the public not only wants but needs.

  46. says

    New York Times link

    Chinese Billionaire and Bannon Ally Is Convicted of Fraud

    A federal jury found that Guo Wengui defrauded investors, many his own fervent supporters, of hundreds of millions of dollars. He could face decades in prison.

    Guo Wengui, the exiled Chinese billionaire who transformed himself from a Beijing insider into a fierce critic of the Chinese Communist Party and a favorite of the American right, was convicted on Tuesday of defrauding investors of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Mr. Guo, also known as Miles Guo, was accused of using a number of schemes — club memberships, cryptocurrencies, a sale of private shares in his media company — to fleece his followers and maintain a lavish lifestyle. On the fourth day of deliberations, a jury in the Southern District of New York found him guilty on nine of 12 charges, including racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Set to be sentenced on Nov. 19, Mr. Guo could face decades in prison or the remote possibility of extradition to China.

    In a trial lasting almost two months, government prosecutors highlighted rambling videos Mr. Guo had made for his thousands of supporters, often guaranteeing no losses on their investments. The proceeds helped pay for a mansion in New Jersey, a Lamborghini roadster and a $100 million investment in a hedge fund. Prosecutors also drew on bank records, invoices and the testimony of Mr. Guo’s former employees and jilted investors, who had been drawn to a wealthy Beijing expatriate dedicated to ending the seven-decade rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

    “Is Miles Guo a real political activist or not? I don’t know, I don’t care, and neither should you,” Juliana Murray, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the jury on Thursday. “He’s an opportunist. He’s a fraudster.”

    […] When he came to the United States, he cultivated political relationships to burnish his image, but this time it was with members of the American right, especially Stephen K. Bannon, a longtime adviser to former President Donald J. Trump. By early 2017, shortly after Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Guo was a member of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla.

    […] Throughout the trial, prosecutors worked to associate Mr. Guo with Mr. Bannon, named a co-conspirator by the government but not indicted. Mr. Bannon had a $1 million consulting contract with one of Mr. Guo’s companies and had a hand in creating three organizations that were central to the government’s case. On multiple occasions, his picture was shown on screens placed in front of the jurors.

    […] In June 2020, he appeared alongside Mr. Guo on a boat in New York Harbor to announce the formation of the New Federal State of China, which aimed to supplant the Communist government.

    That August, Mr. Bannon was arrested on Mr. Guo’s yacht on unrelated federal charges of defrauding donors to a private fund-raising effort called We Build the Wall. He was pardoned by Mr. Trump in the final hours of his presidency but still faces similar state charges in New York.

    As Chinese officials began to seize Mr. Guo’s properties and bank accounts in China and Hong Kong, Mr. Guo turned to those supporters to fund his opulent lifestyle, according to witnesses at the trial.

    […] In a statement after the Guo verdict, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District, Damian Williams, said: “Thousands of Guo’s online followers were victimized so that Guo could live of a life of excess. Today, Guo’s schemes have been put to an end.”

    A con-man flocking together with other con-men. Glad he was caught and convicted.

  47. says

    The second night of the Republican National Convention was a who’s who of the GOP’s biggest losers. If you previously ran against Donald Trump in a primary, or were humiliated and debased repeatedly by the convicted felon, there was a very good chance you were speaking in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

    Tech broseph Stalin wannabe Vivek Ramaswamy started things off by telling America that in the face of all evidence to the contrary, the Republican Party loves Black and Latino Americans. The memo going out to GOP speakers, if they happen to be one of the few people of color, seems to be that they must say Republicans like famous racist landlord Trump are not racist.

    Next up was the world’s most humiliated man, Sen. Ted Cruz. You might remember how Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward” for attacking his wife and father? On Tuesday, Cruz came out to tell a terrible, and entirely fabricated, tale of how America is “facing an invasion on our southern border. Not figuratively. A literal invasion. 11.5 million people have crossed our border illegally under Joe Biden.” It isn’t true, but whatevs. Kiss that ring, Lyin’ Ted!

    Then there was former Trump ambassador Nikki Haley. Haley took time away from pretending to have integrity and calling Trump “unstable and unhinged,” to receive a mixed reception from the RNC audience. She then bent the knee to the man that called her “BRAINDEAD” and “BIRDBRAIN,” and endorsed him. Always on brand, Trump didn’t even deem to clap for her ring kissing. [video at the link]

    Ben Carson took time away from whining about people trying to cancel Dr. Seuss stories to expound upon how great a second Trump presidency would be. The man that Trump once said had a pathology similar to that of a “child molester” told the audience that ZZzzzzzzZzzzzz … sorry. Carson speaking just knocks you out. [Carson is an amazingly effective sedative. He even seems to be sleeping himself while he is speaking.]

    The night of losers ended where losing nights always end: Florida. Sen. “Little Marco” Rubio and Gov. “Ron DeSanctimonious” gave speeches in support of the dear leader. Rubio, best known for justifiably calling Trump a “con artist,” did his best to genuflect to Trump, by whitewashing the racist origins of Trump’s “America First” campaigns.

    DeSantis put on his best boots and showed the lack of charisma that led to his untimely exit from the Republican primary. Gone from his speech was the admission that Trump actually lost the 2020 election. In its place were attacks on President Joe Biden and revisionism. At one point DeSantis told the convention audience that the GOP supports “law and order, not rioting and disorder.” Anyone ever heard of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021?

    In the end it made sense that Trump would parade his party’s biggest losers on the second day of the convention. They were there to tell Republican voters that not only did they lie when they called Trump all of those terrible things, they now believe he will make America “safe” again. Maybe most importantly, they now disappear from memory as Sen. J.D. Vance and Trump himself take center stage in the last two days of the convention.


  48. says

    Jack Smith formally appeals Trump classified documents dismissal

    Special Counsel Jack Smith has formally appealed a federal judge’s dismissal of criminal charges against former President Trump over his alleged mishandling of classified information after finding the prosecutor was unlawfully appointed.

    Smith’s office filed a notice saying it would appeal Florida-based U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling tossing out the 40 charges Trump faced to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    […] A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office said Monday that Cannon’s ruling “deviates from the uniform conclusion of all previous courts to have considered the issue that the Attorney General is statutorily authorized to appoint a Special Counsel.”

    We will watch for more developments in this story.

  49. says

    Water rights settlement:

    “Today marks a very historic day for the three tribes that we have here,” said Craig Andrews, vice chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council, at the signing ceremony.

    “This is not just an Indian water settlement; it is an Arizona water settlement,” he added.

    The agreement stems from the recently introduced Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Act of 2024, which would authorize the $5 billion to finance critical water infrastructure projects.

    That sum, which still must receive Congressional approval, would also settle the unresolved water rights claims of all three tribes in Arizona.

    Stressing the need to ensure economic prosperity and cultural preservation, Andrews described the terms as a “testament to the power of unity and collaboration in the face of water uncertainty.”

    This collaboration was first made official last Monday, when Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D), along with bipartisan, bicameral colleagues, introduced the legislation.

    If the bill becomes law, the funds will facilitate the acquisition, construction and maintenance of water development and delivery projects, including a $1.75 billion distribution pipeline.

    In total, the tribes would gain access to more than 56,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water each year, as well as specific groundwater rights and protections, per the bill.

    For reference, the average American household uses about one acre-foot of water on an annual basis.

    “Securing water rights for these tribes upholds their sovereignty and lays the path for their growth and prosperity through increased investment in water infrastructure,” Kelly said in a statement.

    “Ratifying this settlement honors our commitment to the tribes and helps secure our state’s water future,” he added.


  50. says

    Brief excerpt from a longer article:

    I did enjoy how they confidently said that American parents are all really on their side, as shown by their many victories in school board elections that too many voters don’t pay attention to, at least not until the Moms’ candidates start wreaking havoc on the schools and accusing anyone who opposes book bans of being a pedophile. As we saw in the 2022 midterms and off-year elections last fall, once the schools get taken over by extremist christian nationalists, many voters can’t wait to toss them out.

    Probably just goes to show how deeply the Marxist radicals have infiltrated society.

  51. says

    New Mexico’s attorney general announced an investigation Tuesday into Memorial Medical Center, the Las Cruces hospital operated by Lifepoint Health, to determine whether the facility, highlighted in a recent NBC News report, violated state laws by turning away indigent and low-income patients seeking care.

    The attorney general, Raúl Torrez, said his office is examining Memorial’s patient policies for compliance with a state law and the hospital’s performance under the New Mexico statute governing provision of care to needy patients.

    […] “It is apparent to me that the management of this facility has failed to place the well-being and safety and care of their patients in the proper place and in the proper priority,” he said. “It is apparent to me that decisions have been made from a standpoint that is seemingly motivated by profit, by maximizing the bottom line and without due respect and due regard to patients under their care.” [Yep. That sounds about right.] He also warned hospital management not to retaliate against anyone speaking out about its practices.

    An NBC News report last month described allegations that Memorial Medical Center turned away cancer patients under its operator, Lifepoint Health, which was acquired by Apollo Global Management, the New York-based private-equity firm. Physician records and interviews with 13 patients detailed denials of care by the hospital or demands of upfront payments to secure treatments.

    Barbara Quarrell, a former nurse at Memorial, is one patient who said the hospital turned her down for care after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2022. […]

    Lifepoint Health, the operator of Memorial, oversees the country’s largest chain of mostly rural hospitals — 62 acute care facilities in 16 states. Lifepoint is a subject of two U.S. Senate inquiries, along with other health care companies owned by private equity […]

    Under Lifepoint, Memorial is a for-profit entity and highly profitable. It charged 6.7 times its costs for care in 2021, according to the most recent figures available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS. The average charged among for-profit hospitals nationwide is less than five times their costs, according to Ge Bai, professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health […]

    The CMS hospital comparison site confirms that Memorial’s Medicare costs per beneficiary are both higher than the national average and almost 20% higher than the state average.

    Yolanda Diaz is a patient advocate at CARE Las Cruces, a nonprofit organization she founded that helps needy patients pay for health care and expenses. Diaz has been notifying county and city officials since 2021 that Memorial was turning away patients, a practice she said she found inhumane and unjust.

    […] Almost one-quarter of New Mexico’s hospitals are controlled by private-equity firms

    […] independent academic studies show private-equity firms’ involvement in the industry results in significant cost increases for patients and payers, such as Medicare. Lower quality of care has been associated with the firms’ investments in health care, research shows, including 10% higher mortality rates at nursing homes owned by private equity and more incidents of infections, blood clots and falls at hospitals.


  52. StevoR says

    BREAKING NEWS – Biden tests positive for covid :

    Biden tests positive for COVID-19, pulls out of scheduled appearance
    20m ago
    By Elissa Steedman

    President Joe Biden has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at the UnidosUS annual conference after testing positive for COVID-19. Biden’s illness was announced by UnidosUS president Janet Murguía at the event.

    Source :

  53. StevoR says

    Just uupdated ibid

    Biden ‘experiencing mild symptoms’ of COVID
    5m ago
    By Elissa Steedman

    The White House has confirmed President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. A statement from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre read:

    “He is vaccinated and boosted and he is experiencing mild symptoms. “He will be returning to Delaware where he will self-isolate and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.”

    Jean-Pierre said the White House will provide regular updates on Biden’s status while he isolates.

  54. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Observations during day one of the Republican National Convention.
    It Could Happen Here Podcast – 2024-07-17 Make America Wealthy Once Again
    (Roughly 26:09 to 29:27)

    [Garrison Davis]: This has taken over almost all of the central area of Milwaukee
    [Robert Evans]: the kind of people who vote for Republicans don’t tip […] every Uber driver, all of the waiters, waitresses […] say, “We’re just not getting tips.”
    [Garrison]: events like the RNC and the DNC—cities campaign for this, under the notion that this will boost local business. […] And because of how the security’s set up […] many businesses can get no business because they’re completely inside this fenced perimeter […] Even hotels downtown are largely vacant because of weird scheduling errors.
    [Sophie Lichterman]: [A restaurant worker said,] “They really tried to throw in our faces that this was going to be a good thing for all of us. We were all gonna make a bunch of money. And it’s just not happening.”
    [Robert]: Milwaukee was on the verge of bankruptcy. […] A big part of why they took the RNC was […] sales tax. […] Everyone we have talked to who is a local and […] interfaces with the convention, or the convention goers, talks like they’ve been scammed.

  55. whheydt says

    Re: CompulsoryAccount4476 @ # 88…
    I really don’t understand why cities vie to host big events. They almost always get taken to the cleaners and lose massive amounts of money. Milwaukee is seeing this happen now. The French in Paris are already complaining about the loss of normal tourist income because of the upcoming Olympics.

  56. Taneli Huuskonen says

    Bekenstein Bound @49: The only thing I was addressing was this:

    Two factors pull this in opposite directions: one, there might be more than one 100-base RNA capable of autocatalyzing, but on the other hand two, combinations will be tried randomly (drawn with replacement) rather than systematically (drawn without replacement). The latter probably greatly outweighs the former, making 1.6×10^22 iterations a weak lower bound, because it turns a linear search into, ultimately, a near-exponential one.

    The effect of having even just two, instead of one, 100-base RNAs capable of autocatalyzing outweighs the effect of drawing with replacement, unless you’re talking about probabilities well above 1/2. That, in turn, is outweighed by the effect of changing the length of the RNA by just one base. So, your last sentence is completely wrong. (One could say it’s nearly exponentially wrong, both literally and figuratively.) I’m not denying it’s also moot, as you pointed out.

  57. Bekenstein Bound says

    If the first replicator was a protein-RNA complex rather than a pure RNA, I doubt that moves the needle much on the search time. Maybe that can get away with shorter RNAs, but with the added proteins the number of carbon atoms involved is probably comparable rather than reduced. Unless there’s a way to get a replicator with well under 1000 carbons, or to rapidly “mutate” them with much lower activation energies (but that also makes the newfound replicator a lot less stable — though maybe it can quickly hill-climb out of the hazard zone?), search time is unlikely to be short enough.

    In any event, we’ve already had one sample return from a comet. It won’t be long before we know if most comets do, or do not, contain H2-metabolizing acetyl-diddling bacterial mat type thingies.

    Assuming we get through another decade or two without blowing ourselves up, of course.

  58. Bekenstein Bound says

    Taneli Huuskonen@90:

    I don’t think so. If there are two rather than one, that has the same effect as halving the size of the search space — it halves the expected time to find one. If it’s one base shorter, that reduces the expected time by a factor of four.

    What’s needed, to find it quickly on a single planet without help from the rest of the galaxy, is a reduction by a factor of order of 10^12, which is near 2^40. That would require 20 fewer bases, or having 40 different 100-base replicators. Again, the shortest known autocatalyzing RNA weighs in at over 160 bases, and the shorter of the two main RNAs in an actual, from-the-wild, living self-replication-capable thing, a bacterial ribosome, is a whopping 1500 bases long. The RNA of the larger subunit is double that size, and the RNA’s whole “genome”, triple.

    It would take strong evidence to convince me you can get a viable replicator in only 80 bases, or even fewer bases plus proteins weighing in at the same ~800 carbons or so.

  59. Bekenstein Bound says

    Actually, it gets worse. Having 40 different 100-base replicators only shrinks the search time by a factor of 40, not 2^40. Though having 20 fewer bases (80-base replicator) does reduce it by a factor of 2^40.

  60. Bekenstein Bound says

    And all of this is leaving aside that the smallest known self-sufficient unit of life is a whole ecosystem. The smallest estimated one of those would be a bacterial mat of LUCA and a few other prokaryotes, plus structural materials, doing all that acetyl H2 stuff from that article. It’s likely that the earliest self-reproducing system to begin evolving involved several related autocatalyzing RNAs and likely some other, mostly simple, molecules, possibly also primitive proteins (perhaps short peptides drawn from a small number of possible amino acids). That system, on the one hand, likely was way larger than 800 carbons, or even 1000 carbons, but on the other it may have been able to share some of those carbons with other concurrent “attempts” by overlapping with other prospective self-replicating systems. Whether the “carbons per concurrent attempt”, after accounting for overlaps, averaged to much below 1000 is then not obvious, but it still doesn’t strike me as particularly likely, though it’s no longer possible to do exact calculations to be sure. Below 10,000 seems fairly plausible (and above 10,000 probably makes most or all galaxies wholly barren anyway).

  61. KG says

    Biden wants to reform the Supreme Court. – Mark Sumner, quoted by Lynna, OM@78

    A pity he didn’t do anything about it – and indeed, opposed the idea of doing anything about it – until now.

  62. KG says

    SteveoR@86, 87

    There are bound to be claims that what ails Biden is not a mild case of Covid, but something much more serious. They could even be true. My hunch (not more than that) is that despite the desperate attempts to shore up his position, he will indeed withdraw from the presidential race. And I think the assassination attempt on Trump strengthens the argument for him doing so: the appearance of vigour Trump showed in that event – however illusory – makes a stark contrast with Biden’s evident frailty.

  63. birgerjohansson says

    I am trying to cheer you up a bit.
    If you are familiar with British comedy, you will be familiar with the British-German Henning Wein.
    “Henning is one of a number of German comedians, that number being ‘one’. “

  64. John Morales says

    Bekenstein Bound, ahem.

    Are you in any way confident you’re not being anthropomorphic?

    (This is all so very anthropomorphic and speculative!)

  65. KG says

    If you are familiar with British comedy, you will be familiar with the British-German Henning Wein.
    “Henning is one of a number of German comedians, that number being ‘one’. “ – birgerjohansson@98

    Unfortunately, at least when I’ve heard him, he’s not actually very funny.

  66. KG says



    A majority of Americans believe President Joe Biden should withdraw from the 2024 presidential race, while a smaller yet sizable share also believe former President Donald Trump should do the same, according to new polling. The latest ABC News/Washington Post/Ipsos poll asked respondents where they stand on both candidates following the first presidential debate in June, in which Biden’s halting speech drew concerns about his age and fitness.

    Most Democrats want Biden to drop out, but overall race is static, poll finds:

    Should Trump step aside or continue his campaign?

    Q: Given his performance in the debate, which of these do you think Trump should do?
    Step aside and let someone else run 50%

    Continue his campaign for president 47%

    I’m not saying the corporate media are “fair and balanced” by any means, but your claim is simply not true.

  67. says

    Peter Navarro, a member of the so-called “Team of Felons,” was celebrated at the RNC one day after the party pushed a “criminals are bad” message.

    On the second night of the Republican National Convention, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird boasted about her party’s approach to law enforcement: “We put criminals where they belong: in jail.”

    She neglected to add, “And also on the RNC stage.”

    One Republican speaker after another on Tuesday night denounced those who ran afoul of the law. “Cops are good, criminals are bad,” Montana Senate hopeful Tim Sheehy declared. “Donald Trump stands with the people and the police — our men and women in blue — not with the criminals and rioters,” House Majority Whip Tom Emmer added.

    The obvious problem with the rhetoric was the fact that a jury recently found Trump guilty of 34 felonies — which came on the heels of a different jury holding Trump liable for sexual assault — who’s running on a platform rooted in his support for rioters. The less obvious problem is who would speak to the convention the day after attendees were told “criminals are bad.”

    As my MSNBC colleague Jordan Rubin explained, former White House adviser Peter Navarro was scheduled to speak at his party’s gathering, just hours after being released from federal prison. We now know that’s precisely what happened — and how he was received. NBC News reported:

    Peter Navarro, an aide in former President Donald Trump’s White House, received thunderous cheers at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday as he spoke hours after having left a federal prison in Miami. … Navarro reported to prison in March after he was convicted of contempt of Congress. He was involved in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and defied a subpoena from the House committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the run-up to it.

    For those who might’ve missed his appearance, convention attendees didn’t just give the released criminal a standing ovation, they also chanted, “Welcome home.” [video at the link]

    Part of what made all of this notable was the jarring contradiction: Navarro, a member of the so-called “Team of Felons,” was celebrated as a hero at the Republican National Convention literally one day after the party pushed a “criminals are bad” message.

    Complicating matters was the former White House’s adviser’s rhetoric. Navarro declared, for example, that the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee “demanded” that he “betray Donald John Trump” and “break the law.” [Talk about deceptive framing!] That wasn’t even close to being true.

    But stepping back, there’s a larger context to consider. Why in the world would the RNC invite a criminal to the convention stage, just hours after his release and one day after touting a “law and order” message?

    Because as Rubin’s piece explained, “The party’s embrace of Navarro fits well within its ‘law and order’ mantra, which doesn’t mandate a literal application of the law but is rather about maintaining a certain social order.”

    Quite right. I’m reminded of a New York Times op-ed that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wrote in 2018:

    If all that matters when it comes to “law and order” is who is a friend and who is an enemy, and if friends are white and enemies are black or Latino or in the wrong party, then the rhetoric around crime and punishment stops being about justice and is merely about power and corruption. And this is what “law and order” means: the preservation of a certain social order, not the rule of law.

    Navarro is on the right “team,” which — as far as Republicans are concerned — transforms his criminality into nobility.

    What Navarro said:

    The J6 committee demanded that I betray Donald John Trump to save my own skin — I refused. Here’s the thing about the Constitution. They demanded that I break the law because they have no respect for it. I refused, and a Democrat majority in the House then voted to hold me in contempt.

    Fact Check:

    Navarro went to prison because he defied a subpoena to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee, claiming Trump had asserted executive privilege and told him to do so.

    There’s nothing in the Constitution about executive privilege, which gives the president the right to withhold documents and information about deliberations. But U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled against Navarro, saying he had not offered compelling evidence that Trump had specifically directed him to invoke executive privilege.

    What’s more, the committee did not seek information about Navarro’s conversations with Trump; the subpoena requests evidence supporting voter fraud claims Navarro made in public writings, conversations he had with Trump’s lawyers and information relating to the Jan. 6 attack, among other things.


  68. says

    The highlight of JD Vance’s speech? The crowd chanting for themselves

    Donald Trump’s running mate, J.D. Vance, gave his big VP acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night.

    Gone was any talk of Vance’s radical position on abortion. Gone was any talk of his equally radical desire to end no-fault divorce.

    Instead, he told people to watch video of Trump being shot at over the weekend. He delivered a painfully generic speech about how he is a family man and a working-class Joe (who went to Yale Law School), and how Trump loves people like Vance. And it was … boooorrrrrrinnnggg.

    So boring that the most enthusiasm from the crowd—who was clearly desperate for something to cheer, some small shred of inspiration—came when they started chanting for themselves.

    J.D. Vance: You guys are a great crowd.

    Crowd: Yes we are! Yes we are! Yes we are!

    Seriously. [video at the link]

    Posted by readers of the article:

    One of the panel members on msnbc last night mentioned that JDV was instructed by the Trump campaign not to bring out his nastiest fascistic stuff for awhile, because it might be a turn-off for some of the donors and voters….I guess they want to warm up to the full on JDV’s visions for Gilead.
    A guy who went to Yale Law School and then used those connections to “work” in venture capital in Silicon Valley and who owes his political career to tech billionaires is telling me about “elites”?
    He is a vulture capitalist. He despises his background. Now he is all populist? He can peddle this elsewhere, I am not buying it. Calling the Great Lakes States the “rust belt” after all these years, is a tone deaf insult. The economies are far more vibrant and resilient than painted by the GOP who seems stuck in 1982
    I made it out and you didn’t because you have the wrong mentality isn’t very inspiring.
    this is the Repub’s MO, the absolute nothing burger of their rhetoric. Their base believes every word, EVERY TIME. Toddlers with no object permanence. Sheesh.
    J.D. is a sell-out. He comes from the working class, and people identify with that. Most of us probably grew up working class. However, the similarity with real people ends there.

    He thinks he is special for climbing up the ladder to “success.” A self-made man. That fact that he’s had a lot of wealthy patrons/mentors might have helped too. Having the connections to get into Yale helped. As a rule, working class folks don’t go to an “Ivy.” He got out of Appalachia by joining the Marines (nothing wrong with that), but that’s not viable for everybody. He’s where he is right now thanks to hard work AND having friends in high places. Especially the man he used to loathe and now loves, tfg.

    J.D. has essentially forgotten where he came from (despite his shtick) and thinks sucking up to the powerful is fine and dandy. He’s smart, but he is also damned lucky to live in America where he could have those opportunities. BUT freedom only goes so far–women shouldn’t have his advantages, they should just stay home and have babies! To paraphrase Pink Floyd, they “don’t need no education.” But doesn’t Mrs. Vance have a degree from Yale too? Good thing she had 3 kids for J.D. to make up for it./s

    The whole GOPer platform is about turning back the clock to a better time for white, straight Christian men.
    Putin’s cuddly little trash panda.
    Peter Thiel! Dark money!
    Vance was hired by Thiel to work at two of his companies in SF, then set him up to have a venture capital company. Thiel introduced Vance in person to trump at mar a lago, poured 15 million into Vances senate race plus other dark money from wealthy tech bros.

    Biden-Harris campaign:

    JD Vance: Biden has forgotten about rural communities like the county where my family is from

    FACT CHECK: President Biden visited this exact same county 2 years ago after it was devastated by floods. While Trump wants to give billionaires tax handouts, President Biden is investing billions of dollars to strengthen rural infrastructure, connect rural homes to high-speed broadband and clean water, and expand rural access to affordable health care.
    Photos and video at the link.

  69. birgerjohansson says

    KG @ 105

    Aaargh! I was quoting a statement at Youtube from OccupyDemocrats. But different polls give different results. Or they simply borked the poll quote (even more likely).
    Sabine Hossenfelder 
    “Why don’t we have better robots yet?”

    The first episodes with Tom Baker as the Doctor were “Robot”, 1974. So we are already 50 years behind.

    Anyway, I will be content with just a single T-800. That way I am future-proofed against zombies, xenomorphs and The Purge.

  70. says

    Trump-owned company sells shoes with image from assassination attempt

    Consumers can now purchase $299 sneakers featuring an image of Donald Trump with his fist in the air after Saturday’s assassination attempt.

    As difficult as this might be to believe, the Associated Press reported that people can now purchase $299 sneakers featuring an image of Donald Trump with his fist in the air after Saturday’s assassination attempt.

    The white high tops are being sold as “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT High-Tops” for $299 on a website that sells Trump-branded shoes that is run by CIC Ventures LLC, a company that Trump reported owning in his 2023 financial disclosure. The company says the new shoes are limited edition with only 5,000 pairs available and estimated to ship in September or October. It also said 10 pairs will be randomly autographed.

    As part of the pitch — which I am not making up — prospective buyers have been told, “These limited edition high-tops, featuring Trump’s iconic image with his fist raised, honor his unwavering determination and bravery. With only 5,000 pairs available, each one is a true collector’s item. Show your support and patriotic pride with these exclusive sneakers, capturing a defining moment in history.”

    These are not to be confused with the $399 Trump-related gold high-tops, which are also sold by the same Trump-owned company, which the Republican candidate’s campaign officials have promoted online.

    In fact, for consumers with a special fondness for the former president, there’s a seemingly endless stream of other products to choose from. [video of huckster Trump at the link]

    Remember the “the only Bible endorsed“ by Trump? And the “official Donald Trump Digital Trading Card collection”? All of which comes on the heels of the steaks and the board game?

    How about Trump selling off pieces of the suit he wore while taking his mug shot after one of his criminal indictments? On a related note, after the Republican was arraigned in Atlanta, his political operation started selling mug shot-related campaign swag — including, but not limited to, mugs, sweatshirts and beverage coolers.

    One could presumably wear the mug shot sweatshirt while also wearing “Victory 47” cologne and perfume — available for just $99.

    I’m reminded of a recent Washington Post analysis with a great headline: “Trump used to sell the perception of opulence. Now he just sells Trump.” […]

  71. says

    Re: abiogenesis
    Considering the different forms nucleotides take in metabolism allows other ways past polynucleotides may have functioned. Modern DNA and RNA maybe the result of a lot of past kinds of nucleotide and separation of functions to cofactors, many cofactors are mounted on or attached to ribose or nucleotides like ATP. (NAD, Coenzyme-A, thiamine, B12…).

    A long string of these cofactors could operate like a conveyer belt. It’s imaginable that a preribosome could move to a new mineral, denature, and the nucleotide bases themselves could become participants in local chemistry and be changed by that chemistry into forms to do other chemistry. In fact the part of purine biosynthesis after the first ring closure (that is the metabolic connection with thiamine biosynthesis) turns that glycine into a 3 carbon molecule that could be released instead of going on to purines. Polyribose phosphate as conveyer belt.

  72. says

    How America’s wealthiest people can hate populism but love Trump, by Mark Sumner

    Ultrawealthy corporate CEOs have a good reason to love Donald Trump’s 2017 tax policy, which was written with them in mind. But Trump’s rich-guy tax break didn’t deliver the promised economic benefits and has cost the nation trillions. If it’s extended, as Republicans want, it will cost trillions more.

    The CEOs are okay with that. They are also likely just fine with the Project 2025 tax plan, which includes even more enormous gifts for the wealthy while settling the cost of government on working and middle-class Americans. That’s all good to the CEOs.

    What seems to worry them is Trump selecting Ohio Sen. JD Vance as his running mate. Vance has been selling himself as a populist. Not a racist who just finds “populism to be a more friendly label. But a real populist—one who has even teamed up with corporate bogeywoman Sen. Elizabeth Warren on a bill to claw back bonuses awarded to executives at failed banks.

    Those CEOs don’t need to worry. Vance has proven himself a world-class hypocrite who was more than happy to burn his dignity to secure Trump’s blessing. There’s no reason to believe his economic populism is more real than anything else about him.

    As CNN reports, labor leaders certainly don’t believe Vance is on their side. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler called a potential Trump-Vance administration “a corporate CEO’s dream and a worker’s nightmare,” in a statement released on Saturday. “Sen. JD Vance likes to play union supporter on the picket line,” said Shler, “but his record proves that to be a sham.”

    And there’s another reason why some of the wealthiest Americans may be supporting Trump. It’s not because Trump’s economic policies are good; it’s because they are bad. Bad in just the right way.

    According to billionaire investor Mark Cuban, this is all a cryptocurrency play.

    Elon Musk just announced that he was plowing $45 million a month into a pro-Trump PAC after previously promising to support neither candidate. He’s also gathering other tech billionaires around him, encouraging them to make sure all the money goes to Trump and none to Biden.

    All this could be just Musk being an ego-driven racist and misogynist who fully clicks with the Heritage Foundation’s plans for a nationalist takeover. After all, he just declared that he would drag two corporations from California to Texas due to his extreme hatred of transgender people.

    It’s worth noting that Musk has a trans daughter who wasn’t speaking to him as of last September. The billionaire seems to be taking his anger out on the whole nation, even if that means teaming up with people who have tried to destroy his core business. […]

    But, according to Cuban, there’s a bigger reason why billionaires are willing to provide Trump with a campaign grubstake.

    Trump’s economic policies—extending tax cuts and attempting to patch the budget using universal tariffs—can be counted on to cause inflation. Meanwhile, nations around the world are preparing for the chaos that would come if Trump squeezed back into the Oval Office.

    High inflation. High instability. According to Cuban, these are exactly the kind of conditions that drive up the price of bitcoin.

    “How high can the price go?” asks the investor. “Way higher than you think.”

    Cuban points out that the number of bitcoins is limited by its underlying algorithm, but how much value those coins can be given, or how many fragments can be made from each coin, is unlimited. In an unstable America, cast adrift from allies and facing rising inflation at home, bitcoin could easily become the “safe haven” currency—especially if Republicans follow through on plans to devalue the dollar.

    Combine that huge potential rise in bitcoin values with a decrease—or even elimination—of capital gains tax, and the ultrawealthy could see their investment in Trump’s campaign as a low-risk down payment on almost unlimited wealth.

    This, all of this, may be no more than speculation on the part of Cuban. Musk and Cuban have argued repeatedly online, including Musk declaring that Cuban is a “racist” because he supports diversity programs and calling Cuban a liar for saying that Black airline pilots have to meet the same qualifications as anyone else. Cuban has also dismissed Trump as “a snake oil salesman.”

    Cuban’s “boost crypto” theory is compelling, but it shouldn’t be taken as gospel. It certainly should affect how ordinary people should vote.

    It doesn’t matter if billionaires ever make a fresh entry on bitcoin’s sacred blockchain. The trillions of dollars they’ll save from Trump’s promised tax breaks and the trillions more they would get from the Project 2025 plan are more than enough to justify their investment.

    This is a tweet from billionaire investor David Sacks, who has hosted high-dollar fundraisers for Donald Trump. [X post and list at the link]

    This election is the worst of the billionaires vs. ordinary Americans. If they win, the next one will be oligarchs vs. peasants.

    And peasants don’t get a vote.

  73. says

    George Conway:

    I’m pleased to announce the launch of the Anti-Psychopath Political Action Committee.

    Because it’s time to start talking about what should be the number one issue in the 2024 presidential election. […]

    Video at the link. The video is 3:55 minutes long. It features Trump saying a lot of batshit stuff, and it showcases former Trump allies and officials saying how whacko and dangerous Trump is. It’s a good compilation.

  74. says

    Republican Senate candidate Tim Sheehy, the multimillionaire rhinestone-cowboy transplant from Minnesota who is taking on Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, has apparently learned everything he knows about business from Donald Trump. That includes mythologizing his origin story and allegedly shafting his employees.

    Take this example from a recent meet and greet in Missoula.

    “As a small business owner, you know, you don’t balance the budget in your business, you don’t get paid,” Sheehy told the gathering in audio obtained exclusively by Daily Kos. “I’ve been there. I’ve gone years without a paycheck before, when I’ve made sure my team gets paid first, I’ll get paid later.”

    Nice story. But some of his former employees would dispute that.

    In a lawsuit filed in April, former employees John Wantulok and Weston Irr allege that Sheehy, his brother, and their companies defrauded them out of potentially millions of dollars.

    Wantulok and Irr were early employees in the Sheehys’ aerospace venture, Bridger Aerospace. The former workers allege that they agreed to reduced salaries, unpaid overtime, and work on weekends and holidays in return for ownership interests in the form of Class C stocks in Bridger Management, the parent company for the companies the employees worked at. The suit says they signed contracts about those shares in 2017.

    The suit also alleges that Tim Sheehy and his brother instructed Irr and Wantulok not to tell other employees about those stock holdings or they would lose both the stocks and their jobs.

    Fast forward to 2020, when the Sheehys sold Ascent Vision Technologies, a subsidiary of Bridger Management at which Irr had previously worked. The suit alleges that the employees were told they “would be required to sell their ownership interests in Bridger Management prior to the sale.” That sale brought in “roughly $350 million,” according to the suit. Then, the suit alleges, the Sheehys’ Bridger Management merged Bridger Aerospace with another company and took it public with a valuation of “roughly $860 million.”

    The former workers claim that these actions should have made their shares worth millions.

    Except one thing: Their suit alleges that Sheehy improperly forced them to accept a buyout before dissolving Bridger Management, then failed to distribute the proceeds from the sale of Ascent Vision or from Bridger Aerospace’s public offering. The former workers also claim that the Sheehys refused to provide them with accounting or ownership records.

    The suit says that Sheehy and his brother “never provided a legal or contractual basis for forcing Plaintiffs to sell their ownership interests in Bridger Management.” It also claims that the brothers “never provided a legal, contractual, or financial basis for the valuations of Plaintiffs’ ownership interests in Bridger Management,” and that the former workers “did not agree to the sale of their ownership interests of Bridger Management or agree to Defendants’ valuations of their ownership interests.”

    Bloomberg News reports that Tim Sheehy made about $75 million off selling Ascent Vision in 2020. And that same year, he purchased millions of dollars of ranch land in Montana and, with assistance, started a cattle company, HuffPost reports.

    Meanwhile, his company appears to be struggling, with reported losses of $77 million in 2023, though Sheehy reported earning more than $2.4 million from the company in his annual disclosure filed in June 2024.

    Sheehy has also not committed to divesting from Bridger Aerospace if he is elected, despite that the company nets considerable revenue from federal contracts. Instead, he said he’d put his holdings into a blind trust—something else he has in common with Trump.

    Screwing employees, running up huge debts, living in luxury—he’s apparently taken the gospel of Trump to heart.


    Posted by a reader of the article:

    The plaintiffs appear to have been smart to take the deal, but the offer, in typical trickle-down style stifles the realization of prosperity while the money men vault a wall of paper to unaccountability land.

  75. says

    Appeals court affirms Mississippi’s ban on voting after some felonies

    Mississippi legislators, not the courts, must decide whether to change the state’s practice of stripping voting rights from people convicted of certain felonies, including nonviolent crimes such as forgery and timber theft, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

    A majority of judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the Supreme Court in 1974 reaffirmed constitutional law allowing states to disenfranchise felons.

    […] Nineteen judges of the appeals court heard arguments in January, months after vacating a ruling issued last August by a three-judge panel of the same court. The panel had said Mississippi’s ban on voting after certain crimes violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

    In the ruling Thursday, dissenting judges wrote that the majority stretched the previous Supreme Court ruling “beyond all recognition.” The dissenting judges wrote that Mississippi’s practice of disenfranchising people who have completed their sentences is cruel and unusual.

    Tens of thousands of Mississippi residents are disenfranchised under a part of the state constitution that says those convicted of 10 specific felonies, including bribery, theft, and arson, lose the right to vote. Under a previous state attorney general, who was a Democrat, the list was expanded to 22 crimes, including timber larceny—felling and stealing trees from someone else’s property—and carjacking.

    To have their voting rights restored, people convicted of any of the crimes must get a pardon from the governor, which rarely happens, or persuade lawmakers to pass individual bills just for them with two-thirds approval. Lawmakers in recent years have passed few of those bills. […]

    In March, a Mississippi Senate committee leader killed a proposal that would have allowed automatic restoration of voting rights five years after a person is convicted or released from prison for some nonviolent felonies. The bill passed the Republican-controlled House 99-9, but Senate Constitution Committee Chairwoman Angela Hill said she blocked it because “we already have some processes in place” to restore voting rights person by person.

    Mississippi’s original list of disenfranchising crimes springs from the Jim Crow era, and attorneys who have sued to challenge the list say authors of the state constitution removed voting rights for crimes they thought Black people were more likely to commit.

    In 1950, Mississippi dropped burglary from the list of disenfranchising crimes. Murder and rape were added in 1968. Two lawsuits in recent years have challenged Mississippi’s felony disenfranchisement.

    Attorneys representing the state in one lawsuit argued that the changes in 1950 and 1968 “cured any discriminatory taint.” The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals court agreed in 2022, and the Supreme Court said in June 2023 that it would not reconsider the appeals court’s decision.

    The 5th Circuit is one of the most conservative appeals courts. It is based in New Orleans and handles cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. […]

  76. says

    Coronavirus activity in wastewater reached levels considered “high” or “very high” in 26 states, according to the most recent CDC data. Washington Post link.

    A summer covid wave has washed over most of the United States, bringing yet another round of gatherings turned into superspreaders, vacations foiled by illness and reminders that pandemic life has not been fully erased. Not even President Biden was spared.

    Coronavirus activity in wastewater reached levels considered “high” or “very high” in 26 states, according to the most recent data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other metrics also suggest the virus is rising, including the prevalence of covid diagnoses in emergency rooms and the rate of tests processed at labs coming back positive, but not to the degree of the winter surge.

    Biden has entered isolation in his Rehoboth Beach home in Delaware after testing positive with mild symptoms Wednesday, the most high-profile example of the virus’s reach.

    […] President Biden’s administration no longer treats covid as a public health emergency — instead, managing it as a routine respiratory virus to be blunted with an annual vaccination campaign. This strategy reflects how SARS-CoV-2 has established itself as a common pathogen that no longer overwhelms hospitals or the health-care system […]

    “Covid is not gone. Covid is going to be around, probably forever, and we are going to typically see two to three waves a year,” said Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health who stepped down last year as the White House coronavirus coordinator.

    “It raises a question of how worried should we be,” Jha added. “It sounds scary, but it’s not, for most people.”
    [Graphs at the link]

    […] Biden started a Paxlovid regimen Wednesday and received an updated coronavirus vaccine in October. White House officials did not respond to questions as to whether Biden received a second dose of the latest vaccine available to seniors.

    […] Covid has spiked every summer since the pandemic started, which experts attribute to increased travel, large gatherings such as weddings and conferences, the rise of new variants and even the heat driving people inside where the virus spreads more easily.

    […] The ongoing covid uptick coincides with the ascendancies of KP variants dubbed FLiRT and the closely related LB. 1, which accounted for 85 percent of new cases as of early July, according to CDC estimates. They have mutations that make it easier for the virus to spread than previous variants and to more efficiently infect people who have some level of immunity. But they do not appear to cause more serious disease.

    […] While covid does not hospitalize and kill people as often as it used to, even mild cases can still be disruptive and inflict illness that can feel nastier than the patient would expect.

    […] The current vaccine targets the defunct XBB variants. Updated vaccines won’t hit the market for at least another month, leaving patients and their providers to discuss the trade-offs of getting an outdated shot now that still offers some protection or waiting for the new version.

    […] The federal Bridge Access Program to offer free coronavirus vaccines to uninsured people ends in August.

    […] other Americans are having a harder time than the president getting Paxlovid. Many pharmacies do not have the medication stocked given previous low demand. And those who do manage to access the medication are sometimes hit with eye-popping bills.

    Robyn DeChabert, 27, received a prescription for Paxlovid when the Virginia Beach resident went to an emergency department Sunday with difficulty breathing and a painful cough. She credited the antiviral treatment with hastening her recovery the last two times she contracted covid, when she received the medication free because the federal government had covered the costs.

    But when her sister went to pick up the prescription for her this time, the pharmacy charged $1,700, which she could not afford. Her sister left without the medication. DeChabert is uninsured until she starts her service industry job next month.

    “It is still baffling to me that a medicine that two years ago was very much accessible to a lot of people is now something that’s being priced out for many Americans,” said DeChabert, who was able to get Paxlovid from a friend. “I shouldn’t have to go into medical debt just to be able to live.” […]

  77. says

    Secret Service says it’s appalled by DEI rhetoric against female agents after Trump rally shooting

    Saturday’s shooting is the latest instance of right-leaning social media accounts trying to link diversity, equity and inclusion programs to deeply troubling news events.

    The U.S. Secret Service said Wednesday that it stood by its female agents and was appalled by some of the criticism they’ve received on conservative social media since Saturday’s attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump.

    The Secret Service, in a statement to NBC News, said that the criticism from pundits and influencers was baseless. The agency also stood by its commitment to diversity in recruiting as helping, not hurting, the effectiveness of its protective teams.

    The statement follows a multiday campaign of derision by some conservatives who accused Kimberly Cheatle, the Secret Service director, of being unqualified and who said that female agents assigned to Trump hadn’t been physically capable of protecting him. Some critics said the Secret Service should return to being all-male, which it hasn’t been since 1970.

    Anthony Guglielmi, the Secret Service’s chief of communication, said in the statement: “We stand united against any attempt to discredit our personnel and their invaluable contributions to our mission and are appalled by the disparaging and disgusting comments against any of our personnel.”

    “As an elite law enforcement agency, all of our agents and officers are highly trained and fully capable of performing our missions,” he said.

    “It is an insult to the women of our agency to imply that they are unqualified based on gender. Such baseless assertions undermine the professionalism, dedication and expertise of our workforce,” he added.

    […] criticism of the female agents has been different. At least three female agents were among those protecting Trump in the moments after the shooting, according to videos, and in the days since, their actions have become popular targets of criticism and jokes among conservatives, with several posts on X receiving more than 10 million views.

    The criticisms follow a pattern from other recent news events where conservative pundits and lawmakers, without evidence, cite “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) programs as a contributing cause in disasters as disparate as the Boeing-made airplane problems or the Baltimore bridge collapse.

    It’s not clear what the exact roles were for the individual female agents who are appearing in memes and photos. Some photos and videos show female agents leaping toward Trump and fully covering the front of his body, while some conservatives online have picked out other photos of female agents at the scene that they argue show incompetence or inaction.

    […] Several groups that support women in law enforcement, including Women in Federal Law Enforcement and the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, condemned the criticism and reiterated that their collective efforts have been to make sure that “the best possible candidates have access to the job they’re best suited for.”

    “We must reject all bad-faith efforts that seek to score political points at the expense of our safety,” group leaders wrote in a group statement Tuesday. “These attacks are deeply disingenuous distractions from what matters most in the aftermath of fatal tragedies — in this case, mourning the senseless loss of life while investigating the actual factors that contributed to this tragedy and understanding how we can prevent such heinous acts in the future.”

    […] Valentine, the retired agent, said he thought that some agents in the video appeared to have more control over their adrenaline than others, but he disputed the idea that agents’ performance always fell along gender lines.

    “As a team, they had a fantastic reaction. It was super fast,” he said. “If there was one person on the team who didn’t operate on the right level, I’m going to be reluctant to criticize that.”

    He said that one female agent who had difficulty reholstering her handgun may be “memed forever because of her reaction,” but he added: “The fact of the matter is she was standing fully erect in front of that vehicle, exactly where she needed to be.”

    But posts criticizing the female agents still spread widely. The account Libs of TikTok received more than 10 million views on a post criticizing the female agents and saying “DEI got someone killed.”

    […] The arguments weren’t only on X. On Instagram, a similar post received more than 1,000 likes arguing that female Secret Service agents would be better off “in the kitchen” making sandwiches. And on YouTube, a video from the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sky News Australia called out the “fumbling fumbelinas” protecting Trump.

    […] Elon Musk added fuel to the idea that Trump’s security detail was physically inadequate.

    […] Valentine, the retired Secret Service agent, said there’s a legitimate question of whether there should be a height requirement for agents — for example, perhaps they should be as tall as the person they’re protecting. But, he said, height is not always important because the first priority during a threat is generally to get the person on the ground rather than protect them standing up.

    “I don’t think it should be along gender lines,” he said.

  78. says

    More than 300 suspected heat-related deaths under investigation in Phoenix area

    Almost 100 suspected heat deaths are attributed to a single week, from July 7 to 13, when temperatures reached 118 degrees.

    […] A heat report dashboard run by Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and is the fourth most-populated county in the United States with 4.4 million people, showed 322 deaths are suspected to have been a result of heat-related illness in the year to July 13 — a huge increase on last year.

    Almost 100 of those suspected heat deaths are attributed to a single week, from July 7 to 13, when temperatures reached 118 degrees. This came after parts of Arizona, Nevada and Texas experienced their hottest June on record.

    There have been 23 confirmed deaths in the county related to heat this year, the data shows, 17 of which were directly caused by heat and 6 which were “heat-contributed.”

    “We know that June was hotter than June last year,” Maricopa County Public Health’s Assistant Medical Director Nick Staab told NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix. “We know that the risk for heat related death increases with those higher temperatures,” he said.

    There have been at least 73 heat-related deaths across the U.S. this year so far, according to an ongoing count by NBC News. […]

    And there is still no end to the extreme heat in the Southwest, with temperatures expected to reach 116 degrees in Phoenix on Friday, prompting an excessive heat warning until Saturday night […]

    39% of victims were unhoused […]

  79. John Morales says

    “He is not holding back.”

    Surely he is. After all, Trump Campaign could be SMASHED TO SMITHEREENS!

  80. John Morales says

    See, I have no clue what this alleged BRUTAL News may be, but I know damn fucking well that Trump Campaign is NOT STUNNED.

    So, a bullshit headline and no actual information provided at all.

    (bah. No context, no click from me)

  81. birgerjohansson says

    I usually alter the ALL CAPS to a less annoying format but it is half past one in the morning…(but I like Conway’s abbreviation)
    This one is more humble:

    Online Maps Blog. ‘Percentage of population who think their culture is superior to others’.
    Russia is, ahem, standing out. And Brexitland.

  82. birgerjohansson says

    (My mistake, I thought Britain was 66%, not 46%)
    And I am not certain the link works as intended.
    As I said, late at night. Best I sign off.

  83. birgerjohansson says

    …Basically, the higher the percentage the more people are vulnerable to jingoism. Sweden is at the lower end, but we still have a xenophobe party.

  84. JM says

    @130 birgerjohansson: In Russia’s case I suspect it’s not so much that they are particularly subject to jingoism but rather that they have been fed a steady diet for the past couple of decades. This is one of the things Orwell depicted so well in 1984. Even though the average Russian citizen knows the government is lying they also have no other information or frame of reference. Over time the propaganda sinks in.

  85. StevoR says

    It occurs to me that Biden calling a press conference to step aside just when Trump is speaking could be one epic last troll of the evil old orange fascist here.. One way to turn media attention away and get people to refocus maybe?

  86. says

    Trump’s crazy slips out at RNC with praise for ‘late, great Hannibal Lecter’

    Seems the breathless reporting that Donald Trump was a changed man who would give a different kind of speech at the Republican National Convention might have been a tad premature. Because after more than an hour of mostly reading from the teleprompter, Trump had to let it out. [The text read from the teleprompter directly contradicts a lot of the other stuff Trump said (is still saying), including all the plans to deport “illegal aliens.”]


    video at the link.

    Trump has taken to talking about Hannibal Lecter on the campaign trail, and at his acceptance speech, he just couldn’t resist.

  87. says

    Excerpts from Talking Points Memo’s live coverage:

    [from the intro}
    […] The question is both how long they can keep it up, and whether Trump himself will manage to maintain this facade during the 90 minute address he’s scheduled to deliver.

    It’s no accident, then, that he’ll be preceded by three emissaries from the world of professional wrestling. Linda McMahon, a former Trump-era Small Business Administration leader and WWE CEO, and UFC CEO Dana White will speak. Hulk Hogan, himself a professional wrestler whose defamation lawsuit, funded by billionaire and Vance ally Peter Thiel, destroyed Gawker, will also give a speech.

    We’ll be following along below:

    [From the live coverage:] Eric Trump is channeling anti-immigrant anger, apologizing to all of the people who, in his mind, have been hurt under the Biden administration. That includes Border Patrol agents and an unnamed veteran, sleeping under a bridge as illegal immigrants are housed in New York City hotels.

    This is an obvious falsehood, but I will say: the litany of apologies is not very Trumpian, even if meant as means to weave criticism of his opponents.

    “I am proud to be your son,” Eric says to his father, up somewhere in the stands.

    It continues to be stunning how Trump is also synonymous with family rule. You elect him, you get the whole bloodline.

    After playing a soft ballet piece to accompany Melania Trump’s silent arrival to the RNC, we’re now watching a short film chronicling Trump’s biography in the most glowing possible terms. He’s described in this as a “folk hero,” dominant in every interaction, sought out by politicians and celebrities alike.

    UFC CEO Dana White is introducing Trump to the audience. By now, the veneration is familiar: Trump is selfless, he cares deeply for others, and he’s here to save the country.

    “I’m in the tough guy business, and this man is the toughest, most resilient human being I have ever met in my life,” White says.

    What’s so stunning about the presence of professional wrestling fixtures to me is that, taken at face value, everything they say is meant to be a description of a performance. But for this, the performance is all you need to make reality.

    Lee Greenwood sings “Proud to Be An American” as Trump walks onstage.

    Next to Trump onstage is a firefighter’s uniform, sporting the last name “Comperatore.” That is the last name of the firefighter who was killed at the Trump rally on Saturday.

    Trump is now narrating the assassination attempt that took place on Saturday, saying a bullet came within a quarter-inch of taking his life.

    Trump says that he turned during his speech on Saturday and “felt something hit me really, really hard.”

    His penchant for exaggeration never left him. He says that there was “blood all over the place,” and that he immediately knew “we were under attack.”

    “There was blood pouring everywhere and yet, in a certain way, I felt very safe because I had God on my side. I felt that,” Trump says.

    Trump is describing how, if he had not turned his head at the exact right moment, the bullet would have found its mark.

    There’s an explicitly religious overtone to all this. Trump was saved, Trump was protected.

    “Bullets were flying all over us, and yet I felt serene,” he says. He adds, later: “I’m not supposed to be here tonight,” a statement that the crowd greets with chants of “yes you are.”

    “I stand before you here thanks to the grace of an almighty God,” Trump says.

    It’s a religious revival story. He dodged death, and is marked by God for a providential mission.

    f the fantasy is death, then Trump is indulging it. He just took a moment onstage to go and kiss the helmet, before thanking Comperatore’s family for providing his “outfit.”

    Trump is now making his call for unity, and demanding that the Democrats stop labeling their opponent the “enemy of Democracy.”

    “In fact, that is not true, I am the one saving Democracy for this country,” he says.

    What Trump is trying to do here is too obvious to have to explain, but suffice to say that there isn’t a lot of room in Trump’s concept of national unity for differing views.

    Trump is exulting in Judge Aileen Cannon’s dismissal of his Mar-a-Lago records case, and in his victories in fending off a number of other attempts at accountability: the two impeachments, the Supreme Court giving him an assist by finding that it’s nearly impossible to prosecute former Presidents for anything they did while in office.

    he demanded an immediate end to the remaining criminal cases against him. It sounded like a call for surrender. And yet, just now, he dropped a reference to the 2020 election in a discussion of foreign affairs and how weak he sees the Democrats as having been. They’re only “fierce,” Trump said, when trying to cheat and steal elections.

    Trump said just now, referring to the 2020 election that he lost, “we’re never going to let that happen again.”

    At some point, it’s all the same. Trump is promising to finish the wall, he called Covid “the China virus,” he’s promising that he’ll reshore car manufacturing jobs and establish world peace.

    With the exception of COVID, any of this could have been taken from his 2016 campaign, and with COVID, his failed 2020 reelection bid. It’s endlessly repetitive, and that’s part of the point: I’m reminded of sections from Maggie Haberman’s biography of Trump, Confidence Man, in which she describes how he would use exhaustion as a negotiation tactic while a businessman. It’s a bit of what he’s been doing to the whole country over the past eight years.

    Trump says that if he loses, they’ll have to have the next GOP convention in Venezuela. The crime rate there, he suggests, will be comparatively low.

    Trump just spent a few minutes accusing Bukele [El Salvador’s President Nayyib Bukele] of sending the country’s murders to the U.S.

    Trump, a consummate ’80s man, promises his own version of Reagan’s Star Wars: “We’re going to build an Iron Dome over our country,” he says, referring to the Israeli missile interception system. It wouldn’t be Trump if he didn’t make it transactional somehow, and so he comes close to suggesting that Wisconsin will build the system.

    Now, Trump says, Washington D.C. is a “horrible killing field.” He promises to fix that once elected.

    Trump ends his speech, Castro-esque in duration, by proclaiming that it’s time to Make America Great Again.

  88. says

    While Trump was describing in detail the attempted assassination on Saturday, cameras panned the audience.

    Many, many people in the audience were weeping. Yes, “strong men” were crying, but it was mostly lots of tears from many women. The whole thing looked like a religious experience for them.

    Another telling detail: Hulk Hogan ripped off his shirt during his sycophantic speech. He ripped off an outer shirt to reveal a Trump/Vance campaign sleeveless shirt underneath.

  89. says

    Wednesday Was ‘Mass Deportation Now!’ Night At The RNC, Everything Totally Excellent For Sure

    All the shiny fascism!

    During coverage of the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, MSNBC talking heads pointed out that most of the speakers had “toned down” the usual GOP rhetoric, with little talk of the “stolen” 2020 election, weaponized government, and praise for the January 6 insurrectionists as “patriots” or “hostages.” The shift in tone — at least in primetime — was allegedly reflective of some imaginary desire to reach beyond the hardcore rightwing base and attract voters who aren’t stewing in MAGA rhetoric and conspiracy thinking.

    It sounded like bullshit to us, especially since down on the convention floor, convention organizers had supplied the crowd with great big RNC-printed signs that demanded one of the few things the 2024 GOP platform is at all specific about: “MASS DEPORTATION NOW!” Inspired by an an appearance by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, any time a speaker mentioned “illegal aliens,” the crowd chanted “Send them back! Send them back!”

    The crowd had plenty of reason to chant, especially when Tom Homan, Donald Trump’s former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, warned all the undocumented immigrants in the arena or watching the RNC livestream, “You’d better start packing now because you’re going home,” which quickly became a bit of a meme, in case you’ve seen any “better start packing now” lines on social media.

    On Twitter, more than one smartass called out the irony of a crowd full of people who want to deport all undocumented immigrants (including asylum-seekers, who they’re certain are just faking) and the signs and the chants, and the warm welcome for JD Vance’s wife Usha Chilukuri Vance, whose parents immigrated to the US from India. But of course they did it right, with the right papers, so they’re very good immigrants, while anyone who overstays a visa or crosses the border without papers is a CRIMINAL (it’s a misdemeanor) and obviously a huge threat to public order.

    […] “My background is very different from JD’s. I grew up in San Diego, in a middle class community, with two loving parents, both immigrants from India, and a wonderful sister,” she said. “That JD and I could meet at all, let alone fall in love and marry, is a testament to this great country.”

    […] The Trump and Vance spokespeople had clearly planned out their response to any questions about the sharply different takes on good immigrants living the American Dream and bad immigrants destroying the American Dream, as NBC News notes:

    When asked to weigh in on the criticism, the Vance team sent a response from Jai Chabria, a JD Vance adviser and friend of the family.

    “White liberals attacking a successful brown woman with such vitriol is exactly why the Democrats are bleeding so many minority voters right now,” he said.

    You know, white liberals like Trump pal Stew Peters and Trump pal Nick Fuentes, white liberals like that.

    Trump campaign spokestroll Steven Cheung attacked the very question with similar vitriol, pretending that even asking about Ms. Vance in contrast to the party’s view of most immigrants was a horrible attack on her:

    “It is disgusting that out-of-touch liberals and far-left media lose their minds and self-implode when faced with a wildly successful diverse figure who they think should be blindly aligned with them,” he said.

    Shame on anyone for suggesting there’s any contradiction at all. You must be a pedophile, and the mass deportations are definitely on the way.

    Never mind that the logistics of actually deporting 11 million or 14 million people (or 18 million, according to Donald Trump’s lie-filled debate claims) would be nigh unworkable from a logistical standpoint. […] Republicans don’t see that as daunting, or a huge waste of money that could be used for other things, or even as something that could be bad for the economy. And it certainly wouldn’t be a human tragedy, because these aren’t people we’re talking about, they’re illegals. They broke the law. Republicans can’t stand people who break that one particular law (they may be more flexible on other ones).

    And let’s be honest: Just the prospect of all those raids, the standing Army being ordered to drag “illegals” out of homes, workplaces, even schools, and especially the prospect that we might start shooting people trying to cross the border — it makes Republicans so hard.

    So yeah, guess the tone has, yet again, not changed much.

  90. says

    Longest convention speech in modern history.

    In my opinion, way too long. Way too much time spent rambling around in Trump’s mind.

  91. Bekenstein Bound says

    John Morales@100: What is anthropomorphic here? I’m not making any assumptions beyond “carbon-based” and “tool-using, social, with language”. The latter seems necessary to be relevant to the Fermi question (i.e., either able to generate signals or technosignatures that would be visible from Earth, or able to colonize and actually reach Earth). The former … well, I doubt it moves the needle enormously. There have been other proposed bases for life, though none with any real evidence to back them whereas there’s obviously plenty for carbon-based. They generally require a different set of environmental conditions, usually either significantly hotter or colder. It is likely that at most a few other viable combinations of solvent/chemical backbone/energy chemistry exist besides water/carbon/the small number of energy chemistries seen on Earth, and that including them would replace one search for a carbon-based replicator with a few parallel searches for a few comparably-difficult-to-discover replicators, perhaps knocking a factor of three or four off the search time. Which, again, looked to be needing a factor of 2^40 knocked off it. So including non-carbon-based is unlikely to move the needle substantially, while adding a lot more unknown-unknowns into the scenario that are hard to model.

    There is one other thing. Of all the proposed alternative biochemistries, only three, water-ammonia/carbon, methane-ethane/carbon, and nitrogen/silicon could plausibly survive in outer solar system temperature/pressure environments. Two of those three are carbon based, while the third requires truly hyperlow temperatures (lower even than Pluto, which would be a Venus to them). It’s doubtful the methane-ethane/carbon or nitrogen/silicon cases could bootstrap to spacefaring technology, due to a literal dearth of metals in their habitats — there’s nothing on, say, Titan that a surface dweller could use to build a spaceship, and something living in a “roofed ocean” under its ice might have access to a rock/metal core at the bottom of the sea but wouldn’t have access to the damn sky. The nitrogen/silicon ones are even worse off, most likely, especially as their habitat will be rather poor in silicon! Meanwhile, the hot-chemistry ones (sulfuric acid/carbon, sulfuric acid/silicon, lava/SiOx, etc.) won’t have pre-technological access to the Oort cloud to seed a whole galaxy while still at the bacterial stage, giving them a giant disadvantage over good ol’ water/carbon. Most more exotic options (such as ammonia/nitrogen, at temperatures low enough molecules with lots of Ns don’t simply explode at the drop of a hat) suffer from the same difficulties as methane/carbon.

    Put more simply, the possibility of cometary spread and the dearth of accessible silicon in places that naturally have liquid-nitrogen temperatures combine to make it very likely for water-ammonia/carbon and methane-ethane/carbon to take over a galaxy well before any other kind of replicator has even stumbled into existence anywhere. The latter won’t compete for real estate with the hot-silicon family of biochemistries, much (the only habitat on Earth for such is “inside an active volcano, or farther down”, and you could have carbon life in Venus’s clouds with silicon life on the ground tens of kilometers below, but that’s about it) so the hot-silicon types might eventually develop … in a few more tens of billions of years. When they do get tech they’ll probably end up borrowing most of it from us carbon-twiddlers. :)

    Note, too: carbon is by a significant margin the most cosmically abundant potential biopolymer backbone element. Silicon’s a distant second (and related stuff like SiOx would be limited by silicon’s comparative rarity, not aided by oxygen’s abundance), if you don’t count twitchy nitrogen, with its need for ultracold environments if you want to make stable polymers full of it. Frankly, the only more abundant option than carbon would be using water as the backbone “atom”. At low enough temperatures, H2O’s ability to form four hydrogen bonds could substitute for carbon’s ability to form four covalent bonds, but with lowered versatility (no equivalent of double or triple bonds). This would also have to be a cold, outer-solar-system chemistry and wouldn’t tolerate much pressure (which would smush its polymers into plain old ice). Perhaps ideal for comets and such, but another bad bet for ever getting its mitts on a lot of refined metals to build rocket ships out of. It would also be in need of a solvent … N2 and methane/ethane, being hydrophobic, probably need not apply. That or it would have to make do with rarefied gases, like Pluto’s sorry excuse for an atmosphere, and I’m not at all sure that’d be viable. And if it ever did get to rocketeering it would have a hard time not denaturing under any significant accelerations during thrust …

  92. birgerjohansson says

    “Groundcherry gets genetic upgrades: Turning a garden curiosity into an agricultural powerhouse”

    -I look forward to many more plants being modified by CRISPR to thrive [I am aware this modification only is relevant for cultivars, but there are other kinds of changes possible].

    Now, I wish those small American marsupials (possums?) could get an upgrade so they live as long as their Australian cousins.
    (And non-primate mammals deserve better color vision)
    (And other mammals deserve life spans like the bowhead whale)

  93. John Morales says


    What is anthropomorphic here? I’m not making any assumptions beyond “carbon-based” and “tool-using, social, with language”.

    Well, there you have it.

    Those assumptions, right there.

  94. John Morales says

    Sure, we monkey-types use tools and are social and use language.

    I dunno how much SF you might have consumed, but (for example) non-technological hegemonic species are a thing in literature.

    But hey, I suppose it depends on how one defines ‘life’ and ‘colonising’.

  95. John Morales says

    … and ‘technology’, to be fair.

    Breeding living spaceships and living weapons and living clothing and so forth is not something we monkey-types think of as technology, but it would basically achieve the same thing.


  96. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales
    Growing stuff.
    If you read Stanislaw Lem’s satirical stories about Ijon Tichy, Lem was there in the 1970s.

  97. birgerjohansson says

    Myself @ 143

    Chamaenerion angustifolium is a plant with fibruous parts that grows in temperate and nearly boreal climate zones. Linnaeus hoped it might be used as a substitute for cotton (it didn”t). With CRISPR we might one day modify it with a module of genes copied from cotton.

    No need for irrigation; Chamaenerion angustifolium grows in places that will remind you of England.

  98. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna @ 141

    A certain type of presidents* have a habit of making very long speeches. Like Fidel Castro.

    *those with a lifetime presidency.

  99. John Morales says

    Finally, a decent politician!

    I suppose I have to click on your link to find out who this supposedly (allegedly) decent politician may be.

    Who the hell uses FB any more, anyway? I sure don’t, and I sure am not going to click on a FB link to find out whether or not some pollly or other is supposedly decent by some sort of criteria.


  100. John Morales says

    Maybe I should quote, since it’s a dry government link, above:

    “The record for the longest individual speech goes to South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond, who filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.”

    (Castro sure didn’t measure up to that!)

  101. John Morales says

    BTW, birgerjohansson, I’m quite familiar with Lem’s stories (in English translation, of course!).

    I’ve read most of them.

    I remember in one (I think it was by him) astronauts for convenience emptied their ship’s biological waste on a planet; planet was Earth, and thus began life on Earth.

    (Best of all is the Futurological Congress, of course; I like the linguistic conceits therein)

  102. JM says

    Wired: Huge Microsoft Outage Linked to CrowdStrike

    In the early hours of Friday, companies in Australia running Microsoft’s Windows operating system started reporting devices showing Blue Screens of Death (BSODs). Shortly after, reports of disruptions started flooding in from around the world, including from the UK, India, Germany, the Netherlands, and the US: TV station Sky News went offline, and US airlines United, Delta, and American Airlines issued a “global ground stop” on all flights.

    Crowdstrike seems to have put out a bad update, one bad enough to BSOD computers. This will cause problems for days trying to clean up the aftermath. If we are lucky a disaster of this scale will also drive some movement towards better procedures for updates but it isn’t likely.

  103. KG says

    I remember in one (I think it was by him) astronauts for convenience emptied their ship’s biological waste on a planet; planet was Earth, and thus began life on Earth. – John Morales@154

    The Star Diaries, Eighth Voyage. Two miscreants from Rhohchia named Gorrd and Lod were responsible. I agree that The Futurological Congress is his best – annoyingly, I can’t locate my copy.

  104. says

    At Republican convention, Tucker Carlson completes transformation

    We don’t need to wonder what Tucker Carlson genuinely believed about Donald Trump after the Republican’s 2020 defeat because we already know. As my MSNBC colleague Zeeshan Aleem noted last year, the since-settled Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News produced a treasure trove of communications from the network’s hosts, including candid messages from Carlson that his viewers weren’t aware of in real time.

    In early January 2021, for example, Carlson texted, “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.” He added soon after, “I hate him passionately,” and he confessed that he “can’t handle much more of this.” This came on the heels of Carlson telling a colleague, in reference to Trump, “What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that.”

    The former Fox host went on to say that he found it “disgusting” how many Americans believe Trump’s rhetoric.

    Reflecting on Trump’s failed term, Carlson also wrote, “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. … But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.”

    That was three and a half years ago. A lot has changed since. In fact, Carlson has not only taken his shtick online, he’s also managed to position himself as an influential ally to the Republican he hated “passionately.”

    It was Carlson who helped Trump choose his running mate. It was Carlson who seemed to be having a grand time at the Republican convention. And as a New York Times report noted, it was Carlson who made a return to prime time with remarks at the Republican National Convention.

    Mr. Carlson is freshly embedded in former President Donald J. Trump’s inner circle, and he delivered an unscripted monologue straight out of his old Fox News show, complete with off-color jokes and dark visions of a nation at risk of falling into tyranny should Mr. Trump not prevail in November.

    To be sure, more than a few prominent Republican voices have made the transition from Trump critic to Trump sycophant. In fact, I’m aware of only one current member of the U.S. Senate who has characterized Trump as “America’s Hitler,” and the former president just tapped him as his running mate.

    Has Carlson experienced a genuine change of heart, or is he opportunistically sailing on the prevailing winds in Republican Party politics? Only the right-wing host knows for sure […].

    Either way, however, a HuffPost report raised a point that stood out for me.

    [Carlson] is poised to wield tremendous influence over a second Trump administration. When Trump … made a surprise visit to the convention on Monday, he waved at his adoring fans before making a beeline for Carlson, who was sitting in the stands, to shake his hand. Trump then walked a couple of seats over to greet his new running mate, Sen. JD Vance — a man whom Carlson told Trump to choose as the vice presidential nominee. The scene may have offered a preview of Trump’s inner circle if he is to win a second term.

    We don’t know who the president will be next year, but if it’s Trump, it’s safe to say Carlson will have walk-in privileges in the Oval Office, his 2021 assessments notwithstanding.

  105. StevoR says

    While it hasn’t received much attention, a second Trump administration is threatening a highstakes gamble to revive America’s economy by erecting walls around the country’s manufacturing base. For a nation almost drowning in debt, much of it accumulated during his first term, the potential for a misfire is huge and he runs the risk of creating a new and dangerous inflation outbreak. …(snip)…

    ..Despite having an overall negative impact on the US economy, Trump plans a radical expansion of his previously failed policies that could rewrite global trade conventions and cause serious political and economic dislocations. If everyone retaliates, goods will generally become more expensive which will make it difficult to bring inflation under control in the medium to longer term. But it won’t be an easy shift. Prepare for shocks, particularly if the US electorate discovers the promises can’t be kept.

    Source :

  106. says

    By some measures, the former president’s long, dishonest and ridiculous convention speech was the best news Democrats have received in weeks.

    It might seem like six months ago, but it was just six days ago when a gunman in Pennsylvania nearly killed Donald Trump. The outrageous assassination attempt wasn’t just supposed to have changed the 2024 election cycle, it was also supposed to have changed the shooter’s intended target.

    “In this moment, it is more important than ever that we stand United,” the former president wrote on his social media platform the morning after the attempt on his life. Hours later, the Republican was even more succinct, adding, “UNITE AMERICA!”

    As the week got underway, Axios reported that Americans should expect to see a different kind of Trump going forward. “Almost dying rocks perspectives — and people,” the report read.

    Axios added, “Yes, Trump has shown little appetite for changing his ways, tone and words. But his advisers tell us Trump plans to seize his moment by toning down his Trumpiness, and dialing up efforts to unite a tinder-box America.”

    During the Republican nominee’s convention address, some observers would be forgiven for thinking the assurances were true — at least initially. In the first part of his remarks, Trump spoke in a somber tone while describing the awful events of Saturday and at least paid lip service to the “unity” theme he’d promoted days earlier.

    “Together, we will launch a new era of safety, prosperity and freedom for citizens of every race, religion, color and creed,” the former president said. “The discord and division in our society must be healed. We must heal it quickly. As Americans, we are bound together by a single fate and a shared destiny. We rise together. Or we fall apart.” [Yeah. Somebody else wrote that for him. He read it off the teleprompter in an almost monotone.]

    And then Trump ripped off the mask, abandoned the pretense and reverted to form. As a Washington Post analysis summarized:

    The rest of the more than 90-minute-long speech was thoroughly confusing. It meandered between points, often going off-script with ad-libs that left a standard-issue Trump campaign speech without the kind of coherent, lofty theme that defines traditional presidential convention fare. And Trump’s initially subdued manner and calls for unity didn’t match the content of an often-divisive speech.

    I’ve seen a great many convention speeches from presidential nominees, and I think it’s fair to say Trump’s was the worst. At times, it seemed as if he were trying to make himself even less popular with an American electorate that already holds him in low regard, reminding voters of all the things they don’t like about him. [video at the link]

    The speech was breathtakingly dishonest. It was painfully long — to the point that even some of his loyalists left the convention floor before it was over. It rewrote recent history. It made fools of those who genuinely believed his “unity” rhetoric and took seriously the idea that Saturday’s shooting had changed him.

    But most of all, it was familiar.

    CNN’s Daniel Dale noted overnight that fact-checking the former president’s convention speech was surprisingly easy “because he’s told almost all of those lies before.” He added, “Trump is hardest to fact check because of the extreme volume of false claims but easiest to fact check because he does the same false claims dozens of times over years.”

    This was partly a convention speech and partly a greatest hits package, filled with petty lies, conspiracy theories, cheap shots, juvenile taunts (“Crazy Nancy”? Seriously?), borderline incoherent asides about Trump’s overwhelming sense of grievance, praise for the authoritarian leaders he admires, and the latest in a series of weird references to “the late, great Hannibal Lecter.”

    Meet the new Trump; he’s the same as the old Trump.

    By some measures, this was the best news Democrats have received in weeks. If the former president had demonstrated real leadership on the Republicans’ convention stage, his opponents would have new reason to worry. Instead, in a rather literal sense, Trump simply couldn’t help himself.

  107. says

    Many here are aware of this, but I have had inquiries from some about the massive internet ‘outage’. We have not experienced it.

    Microsoft defaults to requiring internet access to log on to your computer. Everyone who trusted that now has a bricked computer. We ran neighborhood computer clinics, I went to a neighbor’s house and used linux on a usb drive to start their computer, log onto the internet and access the data on their harddrive. It took less than 2 minutes.

    Trust is earned. Gates and Microsoft have only earned our scorn, not trust.

  108. says

    Trump recounts the shooting:

    Speaking with an image of the White House projected behind him, Trump retold the story of the attempt on his life last weekend in Pennsylvania.

    He said that he turned during his speech and “felt something hit me really, really hard.” There was “blood all over the place,” and he immediately knew “we were under attack,” he said.

    “There was blood pouring everywhere and yet, in a certain way, I felt very safe because I had God on my side. I felt that,” Trump said.

    He praised the crowd on Saturday for its stillness after the shooting.

    “This massive crowd — tens of thousands of people — stood by, and didn’t move an inch,” he said, with his customary need to exaggerate crowd size (and, in this case, lack of crowd movement).

    He then mused on how, if he had not turned his head at the exact right moment, the bullet would have found its mark. There was an explicitly religious overtone to all this. Trump was saved, Trump was protected.

    “Bullets were flying all over us, and yet I felt serene,” he said. He added, later: “I’m not supposed to be here tonight.”

    “Yes you are,” the crowd chanted.

    “I stand before you here thanks to the grace of an almighty God,” Trump said.

    It was a religious revival story that earlier speakers teed up for him, and which he leaned fully into. He dodged death, he suggested, and is marked by God for a providential mission.


  109. says

    Trump bloviated on an on, including all of his old, nasty hits. This is Trump’s comfort zone.

    For all of the articles touting New Trump and the talk during the convention of “unity,” a lot of Trump’s speech Thursday night consisted of playing the hits. There was election denial, and the promise that, referring to the 2020 election that he lost, “we’re never going to let that happen again.”

    We heard “close our borders.” We heard “drill, baby, drill.” We heard “the China virus,” snarled with relish. We heard about immigrants coming to the U.S. from “jails” and “insane asylums,” and terrorists “coming in in numbers that we’ve never seen before.”

    Much of it could have been taken from the 2016 or 2020 campaigns.

    Text is quoted from same article as referenced in comment 161.

  110. says

    And, I’m sure all here realize that the RNC debacle was a circus. The only problem is that when addressing anyone outside their cult, tRUMP and the other clowns use flame throwers (in the name of jebus).

  111. StevoR says

    Its been eleven years since Australia introduced its sadistic, unjust and unethiial offshore(non) processing policies as a supposed deterrent against refugees coming here by boat fleeing persecution today / yesterday.

    The number of refugees being held on Nauru has increased sixfold in six months, raising questions about the future of the detention centre that was empty at one stage last year.

    Despite the facility being vacant in June 2023, advocates say there are now 96 people being held on the Pacific island, up from 15 in February.The detention centre is holding dozens of people who have made it to Australia’s coastline by boat, something Opposition Leader Peter Dutton blames on “weak” messaging and a drop in air and sea patrols. Refugee Council of Australia figures show 273 people were either intercepted at sea or arrived by boat in 2022 and 2023, compared with 174 in the previous five years.

    … (Snip!).. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said Australia’s offshore processing policy had cost $12 billion. In its health report released today, it said of the 64 people on Nauru it is currently in contact with, 65 per cent had reported physical health conditions, while 22 per cent had severe mental health conditions.

    Source :

    “The impact that I got from Nauru offshore detention was mentally and physically, sickness, that I cannot recover, … (snip) — I’m traumatised. Mentally, I’m dead.”

    Betelhem Tibebu, Ethiopian asylum seeker, sent to Nauru in 2013, where she lived in a tent for 15 months..Ibid.


  112. says

    tRUMP said “felt something hit me really, really hard.” There was “blood all over the place,”
    I reply: what happened to the may news reports that he told someone ‘it felt like a bee sting’?
    He has always proven he can never make it through two sentences without lying!

  113. says

    shermanj @162, thanks. I appreciate that. And, shermanj @160, thanks for that additional information. Useful. The Microsoft software snafu certainly created chaos in airports.

    Returning to news about the Republican convention, behold the Cult of Personality:

    Speakers praised Trump for his golf game, for his management abilities, for his divine protection, for his bravery, for his selflessness, for his modesty. If you can think of it, they were praising it. Policies were only mentioned incidentally, as features garlanding the core: praising Trump.

    “Donald Trump: 21 club championships,” a golf professional from one of Trump’s clubs bragged from the stage. “Joe Biden? Zero.” [A gold pro was one of the guys introducing Trump? Yes.]

    […] “I’m in the tough guy business, and this man is the toughest, most resilient human being I have ever met in my life,” UFC CEO Dana White said.

    […] A reactionary media personality. A pro wrestler. [A golf pro] A televangelist’s kid. Kid Rock. And then Trump. The night was programmed, either intentionally or not, in a way that acknowledged the way Trump has changed 21st century politics, making it purely about entertainment and dominance […]

    Habba [attorney Alina Habba] got religious and solemn, saying that Trump didn’t just take a single bullet in Pennsylvania, but that he “has and will continue to take them for each and every one of us.” […]

    Link in comment 161.

  114. says

    StevoR talked about: sadistic, unjust and unethiial offshore(non) processing policies as a supposed deterrent against refugees coming here by boat
    I reply: I know this situation is serious and prevalent around the world with the millions fleeing horrible conditions in their country, but my warped sense of humor thought: Rats, I guess that rules out any ideas I had of getting aboard my friend’s boat and taking refuge in OZ from the rapidly (rabidly) increasing chaos and violence here in Scarizona.

  115. StevoR says

    We are currently living in the largest global refugee crisis in recorded history. 37.6 million refugees are displaced around the world due to conflict, violence, and persecution. This is more than triple the number of refugees we had in the world a decade ago. As this crisis has grown, so has misinformation surrounding refugees. Here, we debunk six of the most dangerous refugee myths — and offer six facts about refugees to know in their place.

    ‘Six refugee myths, busted — and six refugee facts’, Jun 17, 2024 | By: Olivia Giovetti

    Source :

  116. birgerjohansson says

    Saturn appearing behind the moon, seen by Hubble.
    Note that Saturn appears darker, despite Saturn reflecting most of the light that falls on it, while the moon -which is a very dark-grey object – appears quite bright.
    This is because the intensity of the sunlight falling on Saturn is only 1 % of what it is at the moon.

  117. says

    I don’t know about windows 11, but windows 10 would let you create a local login process. It is not easy to find, but it lets you at least run windows and should allow internet access. (find the procedure searching for it on duckduckgo)
    If you go to distrowatch, there is info about hundreds of versions of linux for all kinds of uses. I use puppy linux because it is small, quick, complete and is easily loaded on a usb drive.
    Linux and I suppose Apple users probably avoid all this. Best of luck to anyone who is having headaches with windows.

  118. says


    […] Jack Posobiec, the far-right conspiracy theorist and MAGA rabble-rouser, tweeted a Bible verse. “The bullets were fired at 6:11pm,” Posobiec, who is Catholic, wrote. “Ephesians 6:11.” The Bible verse, which reads, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes,” […]

    Charlie Kirk, the founder of the far-right Turning Point USA and a fellow denizen of the conspiratorial fever swamps of X, chimed in on Posobiec’s tweet. “Armor of God,” he replied, just in case Posobiec’s meaning was lost on anyone. “The next verse is this: ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’” For good measure, Posobiec replied to Kirk, quoting the next verse, Ephesians 6:13. “Therefore, put on the armor of God,” he concluded, “that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.”

    Adoring memes raced into Posobiec’s replies, including one depicting what appears to be Jesus with angel wings and body armor protecting Trump as he speaks to a crowd. [image at the link] Later that day, at the right-wing news site National Pulse, editor Raheem Kassam, a former editor at Breitbart, announced that his old boss Steve Bannon had sent a missive from his prison cell, where he is serving a four-month sentence for contempt of Congress. “President Trump wears the Armor of God,” Bannon reportedly said. “Today, our leader showed total command presence, stood tall, and said ‘FIGHT’!”

    […] Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, who represents a south Florida district, tweeted a cartoon meme of an angelic hand deflecting a bullet from Trump’s head. “Si Dios contigo, ¿quién contra ti?” she wrote. (If God is with you, who can be against you?)

    […] Beyond his post-Trump shooting tweet, Posobiec has been even more explicit that he sees this “spiritual” battle as one against democracy itself. In February, in speeches to the Conservative Political Action Conference, he pledged to “overthrow” democracy and support January 6 insurrectionists. “We didn’t get all the way there on Jan. 6, but we will endeavor to get rid of it,” he said in one speech. In another, he said, “after we burn that swamp to the ground, we will establish the new American republic on its ashes, and our first order of business will be righteous retribution for those who betrayed America.” [I snipped more blather along the same lines.]



    In the angel-protecting-Trump memes, the winged angel is young, fit and blond.

  119. says

    Followup to shermanj @160 and 171.

    From Reuters:

    A worldwide tech outage crippled industries from travel to finance on Friday before services started coming back online after hours of disruption, highlighting the risks of a global shift towards digital, interconnected technologies.

    A software update by global cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike (CRWD.O), opens new tab appeared to have triggered systems problems that grounded flights, forced some broadcasters off air and left customers without access to services such as healthcare or banking.

    U.S. President Joe Biden had been briefed on the outage, a White House official said.

    CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz said on social media platform X that a defect was found “in a single content update for Windows hosts” that affected Microsoft’s (MSFT.O), opens new tab customers and that a fix was being deployed.

    Microsoft said later on Friday that the issue had been fixed.

    “We’re deeply sorry for the impact that we’ve caused to customers, to travellers, to anyone affected by this, including our company,” Kurtz told NBC News’ “Today” programme.

    “Many of the customers are rebooting the system and it’s coming up and it’ll be operational,” Kurtz said. “It could be some time for some systems that won’t automatically recover.”

    CrowdStrike shares plunged as much as 14.5% shortly after the Wall Street open before paring losses to trade down 8.5%. Its cyber rivals were up, with SentinelOne 3.6% higher and Palo Alto Networks up 1.7%.

    Microsoft was down 0.2%.

    “Earlier today, a Crowdstrike update was responsible for bringing down a number of Windows systems globally. We are actively supporting customers to assist in their recovery,” Microsoft chief communications officer Frank Shaw said in a post on X.

    But even as companies and institutions began restoring regular services, experts said the cyber outage revealed the risks of an increasingly online world.

    “This is a very, very uncomfortable illustration of the fragility of the world’s core Internet infrastructure,” said Ciaran Martin, professor at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government and former head of the UK National Cyber Security Centre. While the core problem appeared simple, which should make it short-lived, its immediate impact was remarkable, Martin said.

    “I’m struggling to think of an outage at quite this scale.”

    […] Early on Friday, major U.S. airlines – American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), and United Airlines (UAL.O), – grounded flights, while other carriers and airports around the world reported delays and disruptions.

    Banks and financial services companies from Australia to India and Germany warned customers of disruptions and traders across markets spoke of problems executing transactions.

    “We are having the mother of all global market outages,” one trader said.

    In Britain, booking systems used by doctors were offline, multiple reports posted on X by medical officials said, while Sky News, one of the country’s major news broadcasters, was taken off air and apologised for being unable to transmit live. Soccer club Manchester United said on X that it had to postpone a scheduled release of tickets.

    Airports from Los Angeles to Singapore, Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Berlin said some airlines were having to check in passengers manually, causing delays.

    Government agencies were also affected with the Dutch and United Arab Emirates’ foreign ministries reporting some disruptions.

    […] U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said transportation system issues appeared to be resolving and would hopefully be back to normal by Saturday, adding that the Federal Aviation Administration did not appear impacted.

    […] U.S.-based CrowdStrike, with a market value of about $83 billion, is among leading cybersecurity companies […]


  120. says

    Trump’s RNC speech shows exactly who he is, despite promises to hide it, by Mark Sumner

    […] For a hot minute there, at the very opening of a speech that would go on to last a geologic age, it seemed like Trump was trying to be something different. Speaking with the same dull, plodding tone as a kid reading a book report that had actually been written by ChatGPT, Trump recounted the attempt on his life that happened less than a week ago. He read haltingly from a list of banalities suggesting that he could be a bridge between political extremes. It’s hard to recall now, so many years after the speech began, but he may have used the word “hope.”

    Of course, the hope came with a side order of gore. “There was blood pouring everywhere and yet, in a certain way I felt very safe because I had God on my side,” Trump said. “I’m not supposed to be here tonight. I’m not. And I stand before you in this arena by the grace of almighty God.”

    It’s too bad for the others who were shot at Trump’s rally that he was hogging all the divine grace.

    At one point during the speech, a macabre mannequin of the man who had died in the shooting appeared onstage complete with a fire department uniform on which Corey Comperatore’s name was misspelled. Trump gave the empty coat a bizarre embrace, then went on to kiss the helmet. It was probably meant to be endearing, but like a lot of the speech, it was simply strange.

    […] It took only about 10 minutes for Trump to run out of new material and return to the same dark statements and divisive attacks he’s been using since he entered the race in 2015.

    Once unity time was over, out came the attack on Nancy Pelosi, Democrats, and Biden. Trump demanded that Biden end the three felony criminal cases pending against him. He spouted a list of statistics about the “greatest invasion in history” and repeated claims that other nations were emptying their prisons and mental institutions into the United States. He said that the next RNC should be held in Venezuela because it would be safer. [video snippet at the link]

    He said that 107% of the new jobs under Biden had been taken by illegal aliens.

    He promised to end an “EV mandate” that doesn’t exist.

    He pulled out his lies about the 2020 election being “stolen.”

    He promised “the largest deportation operation in the history of our country,” warned that unspecified “bad things are going to happen,” and declared that Biden had done “unthinkable” damage to the nation.

    He even went for a deep cut by calling COVID-19 “the China virus.”

    The more positive end of Trump’s speech involved whining that he wasn’t getting enough credit for his disastrous term in office. And he went down the list of autocratic leaders who love him, from Hungary’s Victor Orbán to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. “I think he misses me,” said Trump.

    Somewhere in all this, Trump got in a “we will not have men playing in women’s sports,” which seems to be a required element in every Republican speech.

    Despite having a script and functioning teleprompter, an apparently exhausted Trump frequently wandered into rambling asides. There was a painfully long story about a letter he got from evangelist Franklin Graham that seemed utterly disconnected from what he had been talking about moments earlier. Then Trump seemed to find the script again and just plodded on. After reaching the point where he said “in conclusion,” Trump just kept speaking. And speaking. [video snippet at the link]

    If there was any change in Trump’s tone, it was only that he delivered his usual grab bag of half-finished thoughts and 100% lies at a slower pace and in a more disjointed, desultory manner than normal.

    That glacial pace is part of how Trump delivered the longest speech in RNC history … without offering a single new policy, idea, or even slogan. It just went on, and on, and on, and … is it over yet?

    Finally, Melania put in her obligatory appearance, carefully dodging Trump’s attempts at a kiss, to stand beside him like the dead-eyed embodiment of the last hateful hour. [Yep. She had to dodge Trump’s kiss attempts twice, and she did that well.]

    Somehow Trump managed to be nasty, weird, and astoundingly boring all at once. [Yep. That’s what I thought. I was horrified and bored at the same time.]

    […] Trump is an old, hateful, deeply strange man who can’t keep his thoughts straight long enough to just read a script.

  121. says

    Followup to comment 174.

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Diagnostic criteria according to the DSM-5 (must meet five or more of the following):

    (1) Grandiose sense of self-importance.
    (2) Obsessed with fantasies of unlimited achievement or success, beauty, love.
    (3) Believes they are “special” and should only associate with other high-status people or institutions.
    (4) Requires excessive admiration.
    (5) Has a sense of entitlement or has unreasonable expectations for favorable treatment.
    (6) Is inter-personally exploitative, often takes advantage of others to achieve personal success.
    (7) Lacks empathy toward others.
    (8) Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her.
    (9) Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

    As one reader of the article quoted in comment 174 noted: “Trump also promised to end inflation IMMEDIATELY, and cure cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

    Trump also said he would end the war in Ukraine before he even took office. He said he could end or prevent wars with a single phone call … etc., etc.

  122. says

    RNC Crowns Donald Trump King Of America

    Many photos of the weird shit Wonkette’s photographer captured at the RNC.

    1) Peter Navaro in an off the rack suit after getting out of jail. 2) Nigel Farage yells at reporters for being mean. 3) Sen. Marco Rubio (left) and Rep. Byron Donalds (right) press some flesh. 4) Richard Grenell is SO MAD. 5) Speaker Mike Johnson has hungry eyes. [and lots more, including outlandish fashion choices]

    Text excerpt:

    […] Trump’s speech, as you already know, went on more than 90 low-energy minutes. He did a tight (not tight) 20 on getting shot at and being resurrected as God’s vessel. He talked about Hannibal Lecter having a friend for dinner. He saw some people in the crowd and said “hey.” He bored his audience mercilessly. He called Star Wars (the missile system) “Starship Spaceship.” He talked about immigrants killing our beautiful white women. [yep, that’s what Trump did. He went into detail when it came to the white women being abused and killed. I got the distinct impression that he enjoyed that part.]

    The Washington Post factchecked the fuck out of it with a whole lot of “This is obviously false.”

    Van Jones nattered on about how the Trump family’s “overcome so much” to have three generations on the stage, a huge achievement the likes of which no one else has mustered. Somebody should ask Donald Trump the names of his grandchildren.

    The New York Times helpfully pointed out it’s been a bad week for Joe Biden. […]

  123. says

    Journalist Evan Gershkovich sentenced to 16 years by Russian court in case U.S. slams as a sham

    The Wall Street Journal reporter has denied any wrongdoing and said the allegations against him were false. The Biden administration considers him wrongfully detained.

    American journalist Evan Gershkovich was sentenced to 16 years in a maximum security prison by a Russian court Friday after he was found guilty of espionage in a case that his employer, The Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. government have condemned as a sham.

    Gershkovich, 32, denied any wrongdoing in the case, which went to trial last month in the city of Yekaterinburg more than a year after he was arrested in the southern Russian city on espionage charges.

    The Sverdlovsk Regional Court’s press service told NBC News in a telephone interview that the state prosecutor had requested Gershkovich be sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment during closing arguments.

    […] His defense team has 15 days to appeal the sentence.

    Russia has never published any clear evidence supporting its claims against Gershkovich.

    And Jay Conti, executive vice president and general counsel for Dow Jones, WSJ’s publisher, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that the trial was a “sham” based on “bogus charges that are completely trumped up.”

    […] President Joe Biden has repeatedly called on his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to release the journalist, who was arrested during a reporting trip. In the weeks after Gershkovich’s arrest, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference that the U.S. would do “everything in its power” to bring the journalist home.

    Gershkovich’s detention also became a point of contention in the U.S. presidential race, with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claiming in May that he could get Putin to free Gershkovich if elected. His comments drew swift backlash from Biden’s campaign.

    Prior to Friday’s conviction and sentencing, Russia had repeatedly extended Gershkovich’s detainment, which has been condemned by journalists and government officials across the West, who see it as emblematic of the war Putin has waged against freedom of speech both in Russia and abroad. […]

  124. says

    Speaker Mike Johnson routinely lacks evidence to support his beliefs, so he references “intuition” as if it were a legitimate substitute for knowledge.

    As part of Fox Business’ coverage of the Republican National Convention, Maria Bartiromo sat down with House Speaker Mike Johnson, who claimed that officials believe there are now “terrorist cells set up around the country.” Not surprisingly, the host asked how many.

    “I don’t know,” the Louisiana Republican replied. “It’d be conjecture on my part, but intuitively we know that this is a serious problem.” [oh FFS!]

    [video at the link, plus comment from Aaron Rupar: "intuitively I know he's full of it."]

    […] No one has instincts about the existence of terrorists forming groups and/or networks on domestic soil. People in positions of power either have seen evidence or they haven’t.

    But as relevant as these details are, there’s a larger problem: Johnson reference to what is “intuitively” known is part of an unfortunate pattern.

    After Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat, for example, Johnson insisted that “a lot of us know intuitively” that there were problems with process.

    After the Senate rejected the House’s impeachment effort against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Johnson said “know already intuitively” that Mayorkas “had a fantastical breach of duty.”

    When the House speaker unveiled legislation to ban non-citizens from voting — which is already illegal, and which effectively never happens — Johnson declared at a press conference, “We all know, intuitively, that a lot of illegals are voting in federal elections.” […]

    Time and again, Johnson lacks the evidence to support his beliefs […]

  125. John Morales says

    KG @156, thanks!

    shermanj @160,

    Microsoft defaults to requiring internet access to log on to your computer. Everyone who trusted that now has a bricked computer.

    No, it does not, and no, no bricking is involved.

    (I myself run Windows, and am doing it right as I type this. No probs at all)

  126. says

    Employees of a Texas-based nonprofit that provides housing to unaccompanied migrant children repeatedly subjected minors in its care to sexual abuse and harassment, the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged in a new lawsuit.

    From 2015 through at least the end of 2023, multiple employees at Southwest Key Programs, the country’s largest private provider of housing for unaccompanied children, subjected unaccompanied children in their care to “repeated and unwelcome sexual abuse, harassment, and misconduct,” the lawsuit said.

    Minors housed in its shelters were subjected to severe sexual abuse and rape, solicitation of sex acts, solicitation of nude photos and entreaties for sexually inappropriate relationships, among other acts, according to the lawsuit.

    The children range in age from as young as five years old to teenagers just shy of eighteen years old, and primarily come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

    Southwest Key employees allegedly discouraged children from reporting abuse, in some cases threatening them and their families, according to the lawsuit.

    Employees “exploited the children’s vulnerabilities, language barriers, and distance from family and loved ones,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Texas on Wednesday.

    Despite being aware of the “severe and pervasive harms,” Southwest Key failed to take appropriate action to protect the children in its care, the DOJ said.

    “In search of the American Dream, children often endure perilous journeys on their migration north to the southern border,” Alamdar Hamdani, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, said in a statement. “The sexual harassment alleged in the complaint would destroy any child’s sense of safety, turning what was an American Dream into a nightmare.”

    In a statement, a Southwest Key spokeswoman said the complaint “does not present the accurate picture of the care and commitment our employees provide to the youth and children.” […]

    Southwest Key is the largest private care provider for unaccompanied children in the United States and currently operates at least 29 shelters in Texas, Arizona and California that hold a total of 6,350 unaccompanied children.

    […] It’s a lucrative industry. Between fiscal years 2015 and 2023, Southwest Key received over $3 billion in funding from HHS, according to the DOJ.

    During that period, Southwest Key received over 100 reports of sexual harassment or abuse of the children under its care, the DOJ alleged, but the company took no action.

    […] In another instance Southwest Key documented, a supervisor at a Texas shelter in 2019 would regularly switch assignments with other staff so that he could be alone with a teenage girl, who he repeatedly raped, abused and threatened.

    She reported the abuse by passing a note to her teacher when the supervisor was on vacation, according to the lawsuit. Following her report, the child was transferred to a different shelter.

    […] In another, documents detailed an employee sexually touching boys during transport in May 2022.

    In a 2020 incident detailed in “numerous” reports, per the lawsuit, a Southwest Key worker ran off with a fifteen-year-old boy from an Arizona shelter. The worker took the boy to a hotel room for several days where he paid the boy for sex acts. The worker was later indicted and pleaded guilty in March 2022 to felony attempted sexual conduct with a minor.

    The DOJ alleged Southwest Key employees also threatened children into silence.

    A Southwest Key employee at a Brownsville, Texas, shelter discouraged a child from pursuing a report of harassment by saying it would delay her reunification with her family or adversely affect her placement with a sponsor, according to the lawsuit.

    In another case described in the lawsuit, a child with visible physical marks resembling hickeys on her body and breasts reported a sexual assault to a Southwest Key employee who instructed her to “cover up” the marks. The child reported to another, trusted Southwest Key employee, who notified a supervisor of the incident. The supervisor told the employee not to write an official report.

    […] The company has come under scrutiny before.

    Videos from Arizona Southwest Key shelters in 2018 showed staffers physically abusing children. Two facilities lost their licenses. Around the same time, the state Department of Health Services moved to revoke the licenses of all Southwest Key’s Arizona shelters, citing a failure to provide proof that its workers had received required background checks.


    That company does not really sound like it operates as a “non-profit,” let alone operating in an ethical manner. Very bad indeed.

  127. says

    Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s response to nearly being assassinated, calling his raised fist after the incident “one of the most badass things I’ve ever seen in my life.”

    In an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday, Zuckerberg declined to endorse a presidential candidate and said he would not play “a significant role in the election.”

    But Zuckerberg went on to offer positive characterizations of Trump.

    “At some level as an American, it’s hard to not, like, get kind of emotional about that spirit and that fight,” Zuckerberg said about Trump’s response to the shooting. “And I think that’s why a lot of people like the guy.”

    […] Trump has attacked Zuckerberg several times over the years. On Trump’s own social media platform, Truth Social, Trump recently threatened to send “ZUCKERBUCKS” to prison if he were elected president.

    Trump has also claimed that Zuckerberg has praised him in private. “Last week, the weirdo — he’s a weirdo — Mark Zuckerberg came to the White House, kissed my ass all night,” Trump said at a 2022 rally, according to Business Insider.

    Facebook and Instagram reinstated Trump’s accounts last year after he was previously suspended following the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    Zuckerberg has supported Republicans in the past. In 2013, Zuckerberg hosted a fundraiser for then-governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, who ran unsuccessfully in this year’s Republican primary.

    But during the 2020 election cycle, Zuckerberg donated $350 million to local election offices, a move that some Republicans accused of helping get President Joe Biden elected. In the 2022 midterms, the nonprofit that distributed the money said that it wouldn’t disburse similar donations anymore. […]


  128. says

    Lawsuit against DeSantis over migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard is back on

    Florida originally arranged to fly the migrants to Massachusetts in September 2022.

    Undocumented migrants transported to Martha’s Vineyard from the southern border may revive a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top and former officials in his administration, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

    Earlier this month, a lawyer for the migrants and a group helping them asked for permission to refile the legal challenge against the Republican governor, alleging that nearly 50 migrants were misled as part of a publicity stunt pushed by the DeSantis administration. That case against DeSantis had initially been dismissed back in April.

    U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs issued an order granting the motion. Her decision comes a day after lawyers for the governor — as well as DeSantis chief of staff James Uthmeier — told the court that they would not object to a revamped lawsuit. But the stipulation drawn up by both sides says attorneys for DeSantis can file new motions to dismiss the case as well as file a new motion to transfer the case to Florida.

    […] DeSantis, who has sharply criticized the immigration policy of President Joe Biden, pushed to get money from the Legislature to transport migrants, and records showed that several top aides were deeply involved in the planning. Florida arranged to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts in September 2022, creating a political firestorm as the White House and Democrats blasted the governor’s actions.

    DeSantis, who said he signed off on the transport to draw attention to Biden’s policies, repeatedly mentioned the Martha’s Vineyard flights in both his reelection campaign and during his failed bid for president. He highlighted them again during his speech this week at the Republican National Convention.

    “Biden is just a figurehead,” DeSantis told Republicans gathered in Milwaukee on Tuesday. “He’s a tool for imposing a leftist agenda on the American people. They support open borders, allowing millions and millions of illegal aliens to pour into our country and to burden our communities — but just don’t send any to Martha’s Vineyard, then they get really upset.”

    The revamped lawsuit filed against DeSantis by Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston — on behalf of some of those on the flight — as well as Alianza Americas, asserts that migrants picked up in Texas were lied to about where they were going and told they would have housing and jobs once they reached their destination. […]

    At least now there is another chance to get justice through the courts.

  129. says

    Right-wing media brought Trump back from the brink. Now he’s the GOP presidential nominee.

    Donald Trump’s presidency ended in chaos and disgrace, as a deadly pandemic ravaged the country and a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. In the years since, he has doubled down on the “rigged election” lies that helped incite the insurrection and proposed a nakedly authoritarian vision for the country. He’s also been indicted four times, convicted on 34 felony charges, and ordered to pay $355 million in a civil fraud suit and $88.3 million after being found liable for sexual assault and defamation.

    But on Thursday night, Trump once again accepted his party’s nomination for president after a series of runaway victories in the Republican primaries. His meandering address to the Republican National Convention featured more than 20 falsehoods, ramblings about his assorted grievances, repeated lies that Democrats stole the 2020 election — and a vow that “we’re never going to let that happen again.”

    Trump owes his party’s total capitulation in no small part to the fervent support he received from the right-wing media apparatus. Outlets like Fox News are a powerful force within the GOP, and they could have tried to move on from the former president after he left office — but instead they bent the knee and helped him glide past his legal calamities, steamroll his opponents, whitewash the January 6 insurrection, and return to power.

    Rupert Murdoch, whose right-wing media empire includes Fox, the propaganda network that aided Trump’s political rise and served as an adjunct of his White House, privately signaled in the days following the January 6 insurrection that Trump’s time was over. “Fox News very busy pivoting,” he told a former network executive a few days later. “We want to make Trump a non person.” Murdoch instructed Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott: “Best we don’t mention his name unless essential and certainly don’t support him.”

    This did not happen. Trump’s relationship with the network and the broader Murdoch empire went through a series of twists and turns over the next several years, including a reported “soft ban” from the Fox airwaves. But Murdoch never closed the door on a Trump revival — in the increasingly fractured right-wing media ecosystem, that would have left his outlets vulnerable to attack from rivals promoting themselves as more supportive of the former president. Instead, his network, in pursuit of the market share that Trump’s supporters bring, followed its competitors back into Trump’s fold.

    Rather than break with Trump, right-wing conspiracy theorists, led by then-Fox star Tucker Carlson, concocted a January 6 counternarrative in which the rioting Trumpists were gentle patriots who had been victimized by the deep state, the Democrats, and the media. This revisionist history ultimately won over the Republican base, demolishing the initial consensus that a violent attempt to overturn an election was unacceptable.

    Each Trump indictment also represented a potential offramp for his right-wing media supporters. Instead, they responded by rallying to him, baselessly denouncing the charges as politicized prosecutions akin to those in a “banana republic” whose real targets were their own Trump-supporting audience members.

    By reinforcing Trump’s personality cult, his media allies helped make it impossible for his rivals to gain traction. When Trump began campaigning for president in March 2023, his core message was that he is an avatar of retribution against corrupt elites who are targeting him to get at his supporters, including the unfairly maligned J6 “hostages.” That aligned perfectly with what the Republican base had been hearing from the right-wing media for years, cutting off potential avenues that other candidates might have used to win over voters.

    Trump ended up crushing his primary opponents, who spent the final days of the primary complaining about how his dominance of the right-wing press had hamstrung their campaigns. And with Trump triumphant, Fox and the rest of the right-wing press returned to their roles as his propaganda force.

    […] Their fixations are at the core of the vision articulated at the RNC, and would-be GOP leaders must truckle to their whims. Trump’s running mate decision amounted to a proxy fight between candidates backed by Murdoch and Carlson; the latter emerged triumphant when the former president settled on Carlson’s favored choice, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance.

    Now the right’s propagandists will spend the next few months doing everything they can to ensure victory for the Trump-Vance ticket. And if that ticket falls short, they’ve paved the way for another January 6-style attack on democracy. That effort would be unhindered by Republicans like former Vice President Mike Pence, who Vance replaced because he is more willing to put Trump’s interests over the Constitution. And it would have the full support of the right-wing media apparatus that powered Trump from national disgrace to the cusp of the presidency.

  130. John Morales says

    Fairly significant news, I think:

    UN top court says Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal

    The UN’s top court has said Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is against international law, in a landmark opinion.

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) said Israel should stop settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and end its “illegal” occupation of those areas and the Gaza Strip as soon as possible.

    In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the court had made a “decision of lies”.

    The court’s advisory opinion is not legally binding but still carries significant political weight. It marks the first time the ICJ has delivered a position on the legality of the 57-year occupation.

    The ICJ, based at The Hague in the Netherlands, has been examining the issue since the beginning of last year, at the request of the UN General Assembly.

    The court was specifically asked to give its view on Israel’s policies and practices towards the Palestinians, and on the legal status of the occupation.

  131. says

    Trump’s RNC speech was divisive, but front pages of mainstream media claimed it was “unifying” and “healing”

    At the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee on Thursday, former President Donald Trump gave a rambling speech late into the night in which he demanded Democrats drop criminal investigations against him, pushed 2020 election conspiracy theories and said Democrats are “cheating on elections,” erroneously claimed that immigrants are “coming from mental institutions and insane asylums,” and cracked incoherent jokes about Hannibal Lecter.

    On Friday morning, many front-page headlines bought the campaign’s preemptive spin that Trump’s speech would be one of “unity” and healing.

    The speech hit many of the usual notes heard from the former president over the last nine years, but media outlets spent the week previewing the Trump campaign’s spin that his speech would aim to unify and “bring the country together,” suggesting that the attempt on Trump’s life last weekend had turned him into a more “serene” person. Despite the reality of the former president’s remarks Thursday night, many newspaper front pages on Friday morning ran stories highlighting Trump’s recounting of the recent assassination attempt and claiming that his convention speech was “somber,” “unifying,” and “healing.”

    [I think those media outlets wrote headlines before they heard all of Trump’s speech. And, it is likely that they based those misleading headlines on propaganda sent to them by the Trump campaign, as well as on the transcript of the first twenty minutes of the teleprompter-guided part of the speech. Journalistic malfeasance.]

    The Detroit News: “Trump: We must heal discord”, Detroit, Michigan

    Pioneer Press: “Trump takes a unity tone”, St. Paul, Minnesota

    Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Ex-president uses convention to repeat call for unity”, Las Vegas, Nevada

    The Tribune-Democrat: “Trump: Division must end”, Johnstown, Pennsylvania

    The Baltimore Sun: “Subdued Trump describes assassination try, accepts nomination”, Baltimore, Maryland

    The Dallas Morning News: “Trump emphasizes unity”, Dallas, Texas

    The Advocate: “Somber Trump pledges ‘everything I have to give’”, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    The Acadiana Advocate: “‘Discord and division … must be healed’”, Lafayette, Louisiana

    The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate: “Somber Trump accepts nomination”, New Orleans, Louisiana

    The Boston Globe: “In a departure, Trump calls for unity, healing in America”, Boston, Massachusetts

    Images of the newspapers’ front pages are available at the link.

  132. says

    @182 John Morales said: I myself run Windows, and am doing it right as I type this. No probs at all
    I reply: I’m glad you aren’t having any problems. I installed win 10 for someone about 3 years ago and it did push internet logon at that time. Maybe enough people had trouble and they changed that. Not using windows, I wouldn’t know the current state of things. Also, I just read that there was a ‘fix it’ patch pushed out quickly. But, apparently there was a lot of uproar at banks and airports for a while.

  133. John Morales says

    shermanj, quite so.

    To be fair, W11 really wants you to log in to Microsoft (allegedly for your convenience, hah) but will let you just create a local account. One result is that, without being logged-in, you have to manually download and install updates from Microsoft.

    (Still, it’s notable that banks and airports use Windows in the first place, no?)

  134. says

    John @187, thanks for posting that news. Significant.

    From NBC News:

    Policies and practices used by Israel in its occupation of Palestinian territories are in breach of international law, the United Nations’ top court said in a landmark opinion Friday. The International Court of Justice said in its opinion, which was read out by Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the world body, that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as ‘the regime associated with them,’ were established and are being maintained in violation of international law.

  135. says

    Is this another guy that Trump would want to pardon?

    From NBC News:

    A far-right extremist who already served time for his role in the racist ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in 2017 was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison Friday for stealing a police shield and twice using it against officers during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    Charlottesville tiki-torch rioter endorses Donald Trump at his Jan. 6 sentencing

    Tyler Bradley Dykes, who prosecutors say performed a Nazi salute during the U.S. Capitol attack, was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison.

    […] Tyler Bradley Dykes, who was previously discharged from the Marines for “participating in extremist behavior,” was accused by prosecutors of giving a Sieg heil! (Hail to victory!) salute during the 2021 Capitol attack. But Dykes, a 26-year-old from Bluffton, South Carolina, denied that his celebration on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after the mob broke through a police line had been the Nazi salute.

    U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell didn’t find his claim believable, noting that he’d use the same salute during the Charlottesville rally and noted an extensive pattern of extremist behavior over several years.

    Howell sentenced Dykes to 57 months in federal prison and fined him $20,000. During the sentencing hearing, Dykes said that he still stood with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and that he supports Trump “to be the next president of our country.”

    Prosecutors noted that Dykes quoted Adolph Hitler before the Jan. 6 attack and said during the hearing that Dykes had participated in a training for the neo-Nazi accelerationist group, The Base.

    “It was not impulsive conduct that can be explained by an underdeveloped brain,” Howell said.

    Howell also took offense to the suggestion, from one of Dykes’ attorneys, that his use of the salute was inconsequential.

    “You don’t think using a Sieg heil! salute makes a difference?” she asked, before encouraging the lawyer to move on from the argument that there was some doubt about whether it was actually a Nazi salute. “Facts are facts.”

    Dykes, who prosecutors said went by “Nocturnal Wolf” in online chats and stored extensive extremist material, was charged in connection with the Capitol attack in July 2023 and pleaded guilty in April to two felony counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers who were protecting the Capitol. At the time he was taken into federal custody, he was serving a five-year sentence for his actions in Charlottesville, but 4.5 years of that sentence were suspended and he ended up only doing four months in connection with that case.

    Dykes was prosecuted and convicted in Virginia for burning an object with an intent to intimidate, and federal prosecutors noted he “carried a lit torch, performed the Sieg Heil salute, and he marched with others to express his white supremacist views” during that 2017 march. They also said video showed that Dykes engaged in assaultive conduct in Charlottesville. His arrest in the Charlottesville case didn’t come about until 2023 and he was wearing the same Adidas baseball hat he wore on Jan. 6 when he was taken into custody, which helped the FBI confirm his identity and led to his arrest on Jan. 6 charges.

    During Friday’s hearing, Dykes did not distance himself from extremist ideologies, nor did he say he no longer believes the former president’s lies about the election. His biggest expression of regret seemed to be for his elderly parents, who adopted him as a child and who are still providing him with a monthly allowance, he said. Dykes had set up a thriving computer business before his arrest and said even now he’s bringing in $9,000 a month, the equivalent of a six-figure salary. […]

  136. says

    The list:

    Here’s a running list of top Democrats, including sitting members of Congress, who have called for Biden to pull out of the ticket:

    Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio
    Rep. Gabe Vasquez, New Mexico
    Rep. Morgan McGarvey, Kentucky
    Rep. Kathy Castor, Florida
    Rep. Betty McCollum, Minnesota
    Rep. Greg Landsman, Ohio
    Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California
    Sen. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
    Rep. Jared Huffman, California
    Rep. Marc Veasey, Texas
    Rep. Chuy Garcia, Illinois
    Rep. Mark Pocan, Wisconsin
    Rep. Sean Casten, Illinois
    Sen. Jon Tester, Montana
    Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland
    Rep. Adam Schiff, California
    Rep. Mike Levin, California
    Rep. Brittany Pettersen, Colorado
    Rep. Scott Peters, California
    Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Washington
    Rep. Eric Sorensen, Illinois
    Rep. Jim Himes, Connecticut
    Rep. Greg Stanton, Arizona
    Rep. Ed Case, Hawaii
    Rep. Brad Schneider, Illinois
    Rep. Hillary Scholten, Michigan
    Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon
    Sen. Peter Welch, Vermont
    New York Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado
    Rep. Pat Ryan, New York
    Rep. Mikie Sherrill, New Jersey
    Rep. Adam Smith, Washington
    Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York
    Rep. Mark Takano, California
    Rep. Joe Morelle, New York
    Rep. Angie Craig, Minnesota
    Rep. Mike Quigley, Illinois
    Rep. Seth Moulton, Massachusetts
    Rep. Raúl Grijalva, Arizona
    Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary
    Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Texas
    Former Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio

  137. says

    Most Black lawmakers continue to stand by Biden

    The Congressional Black Caucus prides itself on its authority among Democrats and its influence with President Joe Biden in particular. So far, only one of its roughly 60 members have joined calls for Biden to drop his reelection bid due to concerns over his age and ability to win.

    But the caucus’ broad backing of the president varies widely, ranging from enthusiastic support to outright skepticism […]

    For now, the CBC remains a bedrock of Biden’s support. Several members have emerged as prominent defenders.

    “President Biden, as I’ve said repeatedly, is our nominee,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a member of the CBC, told reporters on Friday, calling Biden “one of the most accomplished American presidents in our history.”

    “He has the vision, I believe, the ability, the capacity and the track record to make a case to the American people that will result in us being successful in November,” Jeffries said.

    Rep. Joyce Beatty, a former CBC chair, said Biden is fully capable of campaigning effectively enough to beat Trump.

    […] “I am a Biden delegate. I will only take directions from Joe Biden, not the Fourth Estate, not the billionaires, and not from my very influential colleagues,” said Rep. Gwen Moore.

    Still, a crack emerged Friday as Rep. Marc Veasey of Texas became the first CBC member to call for Biden’s withdrawal. Ending his campaign, Veasey said in a joint statement with three other Democrats, is the “responsible and patriotic thing to do.”

    […] multiple Black Democratic strategists close to the CBC contended that depressed turnout will not be an issue once Black voters mobilize around the stakes of the election and opposition to Trump, who remains largely unpopular in Black communities.

    “Because we know that not all progress is permanent, and because we know that old battles have become new again, everything that we have generationally fought for still remains a top of mind fight,” Seawright [Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist and senior advisor to Rep. Jim Clyburn] said.

  138. Bekenstein Bound says

    JM@155, Lynna@173: Or better yet, de-monopolizing the tech industry. Monoculture brings uniform susceptibility, both to error and infection. Imagine if this had not hit Crowdstrike but Cloudflare instead. They have their tentacles in a truly huge portion of web sites — one must wonder about their data gathering capabilities; no amount of cookie crunching and incognito windowage will help you if every site you visit has Cloudflare as doorman. They must have a giant dossier by now of IPs and lists of websites those IPs visited. You don’t notice them most of the time, except when they screw up and you get a Cloudflare error page when visiting some random website … almost any random website. The privacy implications of this are bad enough, but now consider that if Cloudflare ever has an outage like Cloudstrike’s it could be almost as bad as if North Korea EMP’d everyone or there was another Carrington flare. It’s a huge, hidden Achilles heel of the modern internet, and it wouldn’t be there if we still had competent antitrust enforcement instead of Reaganomics.

    Maybe it was for you, oh reader mine, if you have ever contemplated the idea of Biden stepping aside, but know with absolute confidence that for the donors that are actually trying to make this decision—and are trying to disenfranchise Democratic primary voters in the process—that it has never been about the debate, or Biden’s mental acuity, or saving democracy, or any of that which you would so dearly love to believe it was.

    It has always only ever been about their wallets and bank accounts.

    That is a fact. It is indisputable. It is non-negotiable.

    So, if you continue to agitate for replacing Biden, know that you are the dupe, the patsy, the stooge, of a bunch of self-serving billionaires who only care about lining their own pockets by having more pliable candidates in said pockets. That is something you will have to live with every time you look at yourself in the mirror: as Mr. T once professed, you have a chance to be somebody or be somebody’s fool, and you chose to put on a big red clown nose and a jester’s cap out of fear.

    You have been aiding and abetting a coup of, by, and for the wealthy.

    There is still time for you to stop.

    I <3 AOC. And I am scared.

    And on the abiogenesis topic (cue groans), I don’t think that “talky tool-users” is much of an “anthropomorphization” when the topic is Fermi. Fermi is about a) the absence of apparent ETI signals and b) the absence of apparent technosignatures or past visits to the Earth/our solar system.

    Signals, though, only make sense to come from the talky … and it would be rather difficult to send them with enough power to have interstellar range without some kind of tool use. Technosignatures, by their very nature, also presume tool use, and on a scale that probably requires highly coordinated social activity, with enough sophistication in their ability to learn and communicate their learnings that they would likely have to have language, or something fully analogous in the scope of its capabilities.

    Colonization of the “usual” sort (spaceships land, aliens come out and start building stuff) also obviously requires these. Colonization without technology, as we generally understand the concept, could possibly occur in two forms.

    1) Spread among low-mass objects, using low-thrust low-temperature systems that could in principle arise purely biologically.

    2) The soft-landing of spores, or possibly occasionally larger but not much larger objects, on bodies like the Earth with deep gravity wells, and the possible lofting the other way of viable spores or small organisms with impact ejecta.

    2) seems unlikely to be able to deliver intelligent life, even of the non-talking non-tool-using sort (e.g. dolphins). Organisms that big don’t generally survive unaided reentry or being near grounds zero of large impact events. There’s an outside chance of something with a distributed intelligence (say, a smart termite-colony-like thing made of individually dumb termites) getting a toehold as a small number of dumb components, which then grow to a larger and smarter colony with time, but the identity, knowledge, or culture of its progenitor won’t survive this transplantation. It would become a newborn infant of its kind, and without mommy around to teach it; a raised-by-wolves circumstance. And there’s no evidence for even that sort of colonization having occurred here.

    As for 1, this also seems unlikely to matter to Fermi, beyond the extent that it could explain Earth’s rapid colonization by bacteria so early in the geological record. Any smartish space whales would avoid deep gravity wells like Earth’s and wouldn’t originate technosignatures aside from, perhaps, objects being seen in the outer solar system that seem to use cold gas thrusts purpusefully rather than randomly. Nothing of the sort has been observed, unless Shoemaker-Levy 9 was a pod of space whales purposely beaching themselves, which seems far less likely than an unintelligent comet getting tidally spaghettified by the Jovian gravity well and dragged down. It gets worse: the habitat for such things seems low likelihood for promoting getting smart. Spewing space spores at perihelion that the solar wind will loft back out to the outer system in a spray-and-pray wind-pollination strategy seems sufficient for comet-dwelling microbes, and the environment might not be conducive to much larger or more sophisticated organisms developing. Earth had nothing above microbial scale for many billions of years, and the trigger for finally going beyond that appears to have been high free-oxygen levels promoting more intensive energy metabolisms. The cometary environment does not seem conducive to developing high free-oxygen levels, somehow …

    Even supposing something larger and smarter (animal-smart) emerged, the biggest advantage might be in being able to see and purposely jet spores at other cometary objects, and maybe even develop a rudimentary tacit understanding of orbital mechanics to better hit the targets. Sending spores is likely more effective than trying to physically go there, as moving large masses huge distances fast runs into the tyranny of the rocket equation, and doing it slow means being beaten to your target by your rival’s puff of spores and finding it already occupied by their kids by the time you arrive.

    It seems unlikely to me that cometary clouds are a conducive environment for large, intelligent animal forms to evolve, then, though it might provide an otherwise-uncommon niche for “smartish plants” that aim and spit their seeds. Such would not be likely to produce obvious telescopically-obserbable biosignatures or “techno”signatures.

    Significantly, too, none of these possibilities, from soft-landing space termites to smartish plants and space whales, would choke out the ecological niches for “talky tool users”, as the only such niches appear (for now) to be on Earthlike planets, and more specifically in “fringe of fecund forest” environments like the border between a reef and open sea, or between a forest and savanna, which provides opportunities for flexible omnivores to switch among two or several feeding strategies in different seasons or in response to instability of the climate and such, including the ability to cross either environment in search of another patch of the other (and its perimeter) so as to outlive any individual such patch. So, these things can’t explain the Fermi paradox through an argument of “most places where humanlike life could emerge got these things instead, except for some reason Earth”.

    So, basically, a) space whales are unlikely and b) space whales would probably be Fermi-irrelevant anyway. If they did turn up, though, their very existence would make a nearly slam-dunk case for comets being teeming with space life and the likely source of Earth’s earliest organisms.

    The only way the criticism of anthropomorphism remains, then, is if the criticism applies to the very assumptions underlying the Fermi topic. However, I don’t think that really applies. Even acknowledging that life, and even intelligent life, might exist elsewhere that wouldn’t colonize and spread in a technosignature-leaving way, or want to talk long-distance, does not alter the fact that a) life that is eminently interested in doing both of those things indubitably does exist but b) the one known instance of such hasn’t met, or stumbled on the remains or remotely-detected evidence of, even a single other instance, and that that fact needs explaining. Something makes such life very rare, or perhaps very short-lived. It might be a good idea to find out what, especially in case it might be the latter …

  139. KG says

    Lynna, OM@195,

    If it wasn’t impossibe for Biden to win immediately after the debate (I think it was – attempts to excuse his performance or dismiss it as a “bad night” were implausible), it surely is now, with so many prominent Democrats saying he should step aside. Either he agrees to do so, or we’re looking at a near-inevitable Trump win.

  140. KG says

    it has never been about the debate, or Biden’s mental acuity, or saving democracy, or any of that which you would so dearly love to believe it was.

    It has always only ever been about their wallets and bank accounts.

    That is a fact. It is indisputable. – Beckenstein Bound quoting DailyKos@200

    No, it isn’t indisputable. It’s about the debate, and the other mounting evidence that Biden has serious cognitive problems. If it was an ebil conspiracy among rich donors, why were they funding Biden up until the debate? They could have said a year ago – we won’t fund you, then backed a more pliable candidate in contested primaries. Holding the debate at that point was the idea of Biden’s own team – it was supposed to reset the contest in his favour. If it is claimed that somehow the donors forced that on his team as part of their ebil conspiracy, they would only have done so if they had good reason to believe Biden would likely crash and burn, as he did. And they could only have known that if they knew (and his team knew) that he has serious cognitive problems. Biden should have made clear at the start of his term that he would not run for re-election – the idea that someone in their mid-eighties was likely to be able to do the job was always implausible. If not then, he should have made it clear a year or more ago – and preferably, resigned the presidency to give Harris the chance to prove herself in the office. The whole mess is on Biden, and more particularly – since the ability to assess one’s own capacities is one of the first things to go in cognitive decline – those immediately around him.

  141. KG says

    Further to #202, I’ve been following threads on Biden at DailyKos, and I see worrying signs that the majority there have fallen into both a conspiracist narrative (exemplified in the passage Beckenstein Bound quoted @200), and something approaching a Biden personality cult. The excuses for his lamentable debate performance have been absurd (the latest was that he became confused in the debate by Trump’s lies – as if there was any possibility Trump would not spew a torrent of lies), and the additional evidence of serious cognitive problems, both before and after the debate, has been simply denied, or excused as “That’s just Biden”.

  142. John Morales says

    Fermi is about a) the absence of apparent ETI signals and b) the absence of apparent technosignatures or past visits to the Earth/our solar system.

    As far as we apes can tell.


    Signals, though, only make sense to come from the talky … and it would be rather difficult to send them with enough power to have interstellar range without some kind of tool use.

    Because the Fermi thingy is about actual visitations, not about signals?

    (Hey, how if one could somehow modulate neutrinos, as an example?)

    Anyway, you seem to be set on this idea that it needs to be baryonic matter conglomerates, rather than other thingies that might do this thing life does.

    That is, local entropic reversal, homeostasis, replication.

  143. John Morales says

    As for 1, this also seems unlikely to matter to Fermi, beyond the extent that it could explain Earth’s rapid colonization by bacteria so early in the geological record.

    Hm. A sample size of one, from an unknown distribution.

    How do you justify this idea that it’s “rapid”, rather than “slow”?

    (Again: sample size = 1)

  144. John Morales says

    Something makes such life very rare, or perhaps very short-lived.

    Um. n = 1.

    OK. So, here’s a thought.

    Is the universe in its early days, or its latter days?
    I reckon the former.

    Remember, n = 1.

    This is all purely speculative, based on what we know. So far5.

  145. John Morales says

    Of course, it’s complicated.

    Back when, a shitload of stuff happened quickly, much more so than nowadays.

    The quicker (and more likely to happen) things go, the “faster” the time flow, no?

    (Is it really how many interactions per unit time, or is that the converse of how much time for a given number of events?)

  146. John Morales says

    Heh heh heh.

    Back in the day, Jerry Pournelle’s blog was part of my reading. Conservative side, of course.
    So, this dude will always and forever be “the egregious Frum”.

    He distinguished his conservativism from the alternative neoconservatism, noting that he had been drummed out of the Conservative movement by “the egregious Frum”, referring to prominent neoconservative, David Frum.


  147. John Morales says

    Ah, what the hell. Jerry was genuine.

    Next paragraph (ibid):

    Notably, Pournelle opposed the Gulf War and the Iraq War, maintaining that the money would be better spent developing energy technologies for the United States. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “Pournelle estimates that for what the Iraq war has cost so far, the United States could have paid for a network of nuclear power stations sufficient to achieve energy independence, and bankrupt the Arabs for once and for all.”

  148. lotharloo says

    One thing to note is that Biden has always 20-30% chance of winning but pretty much every Democratic nominee will have at least that much chance just for the sake of running against Trump. So focussing on his winning chances is a red herring because what is important is the difference between the winning chances of Biden who can’t campaign versus Harris who can. And it is very clear that being able to talk, debate and campaign is pretty important.

  149. says

    Dr. Sanjay Gupta: There are still key questions about Trump’s injuries after attempted assassination

    It has been nearly a week since gunfire erupted at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, resulting in an injury to the former president, the death of one attendee, Corey Comperatore, and severe injuries to two others.

    And although the images we’ve seen of Trump since his attempted assassination have been those of a person who was barely injured and is now in high spirits, what we’ve been told by the campaign offers very little insight into the former president’s condition, what kind of care he received or how his medical team will monitor him in the days and weeks ahead.

    A full public assessment of Trump’s injuries is necessary, for both the former president’s own health and the clarity it can provide for voters about the recovery of the man who could become president of the United States once again. The concern is that gunshot blasts near the head can cause injuries that aren’t immediately noticeable, such as bleeding in or on the brain, damage to the inner ear or even psychological trauma. As a trauma neurosurgeon, I have seen how a thorough evaluation after any kind of gunshot wound can provide a complete picture and lead to a speedier recovery.

    The first official communication about Trump’s health from his campaign came about 40 minutes after the shooting. It simply said Trump was “fine” and was “being checked out at a local medical facility.” It added that more details would follow.

    Two hours later, in a post by Trump himself on Truth Social, he wrote: “I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear. I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin.”

    In his speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday night, Trump described the moment of the shooting but didn’t shed new light on his condition or the care he received. Beyond that, most of what we know about his injury is based on what we’ve seen in pictures and video, and from secondhand accounts.

    A source familiar with the matter told CNN on Sunday that Trump underwent a number of “routine” tests at the hospital, including a CT scan that came back normal.

    CNN has repeatedly reached out to the Trump campaign and Butler Memorial Hospital, where Trump was treated, for more information but has not received further details about his condition or care. […]

    What we know about Trump’s injury
    In the moments immediately following the sounds of gunfire on Saturday, we saw Trump raise his right hand to his ear and the side of his face. He did not collapse but seemed to duck to the ground of his own accord.

    With US Secret Service surrounding him, he stood up about a minute later, raised his right arm and was able to walk and speak immediately. We saw him rouse the audience, telling them to “Fight!” as he pumped his fist in the air. From a medical standpoint, these are all very good signs and, despite the visible blood on his face, provided evidence that he wasn’t severely injured.

    US Rep. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s former White House physician, said during an interview Monday on “The Benny Show” podcast, that he “checked out” the wound to Trump’s ear and bandaged it himself. He added that “there was no concussive effect from the bullet” because it was far enough from Trump’s head.

    “It just took the top of his ear off, a little bit of the top of his ear off, as it passed through,” Jackson said. “It was bleeding like crazy.”

    Trump was transported to nearby Butler Memorial Hospital. Dr. David Rottinghaus, an emergency room physician there, said the hospital had been in contact with the Secret Service before Saturday’s rally. Rottinghaus, who did not treat Trump himself and would not comment on Trump’s treatment or condition, said he came to the hospital shortly after the shooting to help triage patients.

    “We do prepare for incidents like this. We had had advanced visits in the past for rallies when Mr. Trump was here. The last was the end of 2020. We have worked with the Secret Service in the past and local and federal law enforcement to come up with plans about if an incident like this happened,” Rottinghaus told CNN.

    Those plans included designating a bed in the ER in case it was needed, having clinical teams at the rally itself to treat patients on-site for minor medical issues, and avoiding overwhelming the hospital if there were a crisis.

    When the unthinkable happened, Rottinghaus said, it took just minutes for Butler Memorial to put its plan into action, locking down the hospital and diverting patients to other health care facilities.

    Although we were told that Trump had a CT scan and other routine exams, it is not clear when these tests were performed, who read the scans or whether his brain specifically was examined.

    In the Monday interview, Jackson said Trump’s injury was “dressed up. He’ll be OK. … It’s going to granulate and heal in, and he’s not going to need anything to be done with it.”

    On Wednesday, in an interview with CBS News, Eric Trump said that his father had “no stitches but certainly, certainly a nice flesh wound.”

    And Trump has been moving around the RNC in Milwaukee this week, talking and smiling through speeches with a bandage on his ear.

    What we don’t know
    All of this points to a favorable prognosis. But it is still surprising that we have not heard more about the exact diagnosis and care of what may have been a catastrophic injury. And, while all the attention has been on his ear and right side of his head, that doesn’t mean other injuries may not be present. It’s not even clear that he was struck by a primary projectile from the rifle, a secondary projectile or a combination of both. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know without an in-depth evaluation.

    We do know that the shooter used an AR-15-style weapon, and in my experience in the operating room, I’ve witnessed the kind of trauma this weapon can cause. The kinetic energy of it is significant: A rifle like the AR-15 can produce up to 1,300 foot-pounds of force. With that much power close to the head, there can be injuries beyond what’s visible.

    For example, a fracture to the thin bone in that region of the skull, an epidural hematoma (or bleeding between the skull and the brain) and damage to the bones of the inner ear, which can result in hearing loss, vertigo or dizziness.

    A CT scan can usually detect such injuries, but they aren’t always immediately apparent. As a result, sometimes patients are observed in the hospital and may even undergo a repeat CT scan.

    The stress from a shooting can also have psychological effects.

    “In the chaos that immediately follows being shot, these psychological impacts don’t always manifest,” said Dr. Kenji Inaba, a trauma surgeon with the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. “It can come up later on, and it’s something that we always need to be acutely aware of.”

    The good news is that most physical symptoms of an injury would probably have revealed themselves over the past few days. At this point, however, the Trump campaign hasn’t yet shared whether a full workup was done at the time or if there has been any follow-up since.

    Presidents and presidential candidates are not required to share their medical histories with the public, but voters have said that the health conditions of their leaders matter to them in this election. More information helps everyone make better decisions.

    Rottinghaus, the Butler Memorial physician, told CNN that after all the preparation for the unthinkable, “the unexpected happened” on Saturday. Still, the hospital considers it a successful day: Staff juggled the arrival of a former president with care for their other patients. What made it work, he said, was communication, clear planning and preparation to act.

    In an intense political season for the country, that kind of collaboration and communication may be a lesson for the candidates, too.

    Josh Marshall:

    […] Just to explain the meaning, the bullet is the primary projectile. A secondary projectile is another flying object put in motion by the bullet – so a metal fragment, a shard of glass, etc.

    […] Pennsylvania State Police initially told reporters on the scene that Trump had been struck by shards of glass. Then Trump himself said he’d been hit with a bullet and that was the end of the matter. There’s small detail from a local news report from last Sunday that suggests it as at least plausible that the initial report was correct, that Trump was struck by some flying debris.

    A report from local TV station WPXI at 4:50 PM Sunday said this:

    11 Investigates has learned that four Pittsburgh police officers assigned to the former president’s motorcade yesterday suffered minor injuries during the shooting.

    The four motorcycle officers were part of Donald Trump’s escort to and from the rally in Butler.

    Sources tell Chief Investigator Rick Earle the officers were just feet away from Trump when shots rang out. The four officers suffered minor injuries from flying debris caused by the bullets.

    Sources say the officers were hit with either plastic or metal fragments when the bullets struck objects nearby.

    This report certainly doesn’t prove Trump was also hit by flying debris. Trump was the target so the odds of him being struck by a bullet seem, by definition, higher. But it does appear to show pretty conclusively that the gunshots created a spray of flying debris in Trump’s immediate vicinity capable of causing minor injuries. That’s precisely what those initial reports from state law enforcement said happened to Trump, though we still don’t know why. This simply underscores the fact that both possible sources of the injury are very plausible and that we really need law enforcement and/or examining doctors to tell the public what they think happened.

    […] it’s a huge failure of the nation’s leading press organizations that they’ve been afraid to press the point because they’ve feared blowback from the Trump campaign.

    Ever since I heard Trump’s description of the event, I thought he was either lying in some way or exaggerating. Trump being hit by flying debris doesn’t make as good a story as “Trump grazed by bullet.” The assassination attempt is already a horrific event, and we know that bullets flew close to Trump. That’s good enough for a story. He doesn’t have to push a lie, but my bet is that we are not hearing about the true nature of the injury because Trump is lying.

  150. says

    RNC speakers insist life was better 4 years ago. It wasn’t

    The Republican National Convention was dedicated to make-believe. Tall tales about how magical and wondrous things were four years ago when Donald Trump was president ruled the entire slate of soul-destroying GOP speeches.

    But as long as four years ago may seem these days, it isn’t too long ago to remember. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to July 2020.

    July 2020 began with foreign policy news that Russia’s president, a la authoritarian dictator, Vladimir Putin was able to secure a referendum on the country’s constitution in order to remain in power for at least another 12 years. In many ways this was indeed good news for then-President Trump, and the current Republican Party, who seem to want to make the Russian leader happy by any means necessary.

    Also in July, we were about five months into this super-huge pandemic thing. Trump was in the middle of tragically mishandling our country’s response to the health crisis. Just a few weeks earlier, Trump had told Americans that the pandemic would simply “go away” soon.

    The future convicted felon was tweeting that “Deaths from the China Virus are down 39%, while our great testing program continues to lead the World, by FAR! Why isn’t the Fake News reporting that Deaths are way down? It is only because they are, indeed, FAKE NEWS!”

    July 2020 saw deaths from COVID-19 soar in the U.S. “The United States recorded 1.87 million new cases in July, bringing total infections to 4.5 million, for an increase of 69%. Deaths in July rose 20% to nearly 154,000 total. The biggest increases in July were in Florida, with over 310,000 new cases,” Reuters reported.

    We were also facing some dire economic news. “Gross domestic product from April to June plunged 32.9% on an annualized basis,” which economists said “was the worst drop ever, with the closest previously coming in mid-1921,” according to CNBC.

    More magical moments for Americans in July included an unemployment rate over 10%. The “good” news for the economy was that “permanent job losses” seemed to have stayed flat and hadn’t increased. So that was something we could put in the less dire column.

    As for Trump’s “greatest testing program” claims—that was a lie as well. The New York Times reported that surging cases of coronavirus across the country far outpaced the Trump administration’s clunky efforts. Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital, told the Times, “It’s terrifying, and clearly evidence of a failure of the system.”

    At the same time, after weeks of civil rights protests for racial justice that grew in response to the murder of George Floyd, Trump was doing what he always does: stoking white America’s fears, and tweeting out support for Confederate flags at NASCAR races.

    July ended, four years ago, with Trump holding a press briefing where he eulogized former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Cain died after contracting the COVID-19 virus after attending a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he and others flouted mask precautions.

    The Republican Party can tell themselves four-years-ago fairytales until they all fall asleep, but the story of Trump’s catastrophic leadership is simple. Seven million more American voters chose President Joe Biden over Donald J. Trump, four years ago. Watching Trump’s RNC never-ending acceptance speech—filled with his trademark divisiveness and lies—reminded everyone that Americans voted him out for good reasons.

  151. says

    Longtime US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas dead at 74

    Longtime U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who helped lead federal efforts to protect women from domestic violence and recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, has died. She was 74.

    Lillie Conley, her chief of staff, confirmed that Jackson Lee, who had pancreatic cancer, died in Houston Friday night with her family around her.

    The Democrat had represented her Houston-based district and the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1995. She had previously had breast cancer and announced the pancreatic cancer diagnosis on June 2.

    […] Jackson Lee had just been elected to the Houston district once represented by Barbara Jordan, the first Black woman elected to Congress from a Southern state since Reconstruction, when she was immediately placed on the high-profile House Judiciary Committee in 1995.

    […] Jackson Lee quickly established herself as fierce advocate for women and minorities, and a leader for House Democrats on many social justice issues, from policing reform to reparations for descendants of enslaved people. She led the first rewrite of the Violence Against Women Act in nearly a decade, which included protections for Native American, transgender and immigrant women.

    […] Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said he had never known a harder-working lawmaker than Jackson Lee, saying she “studied every bill and every amendment with exactitude and then told Texas and America exactly where she stood.” […]

  152. says

    U.S. Navy exonerates 256 Black sailors unjustly punished in 1944

    The U.S. Navy has exonerated 256 Black sailors who were found to be unjustly punished in 1944 following a horrific port explosion that killed hundreds of service members and exposed racist double standards among the then-segregated ranks.

    On July 17, 1944, munitions being loaded onto a cargo ship detonated, causing secondary blasts that ignited 5,000 tons (4,535 metric tonnes) of explosives at Port Chicago naval weapons station near San Francisco.

    The explosion killed 320 sailors and civilians, nearly 75% of whom were Black, and injured another 400 personnel. Surviving Black sailors had to pick up the human remains and clear the blast site while white officers were granted leave to recuperate.

    The pier was a critical ammunition supply site for forces in the Pacific during World War II, and the job of loading those ships was left primarily to Black enlisted sailors overseen by white officers. Before the explosion, the Black sailors working the dock had expressed concerns about the loading operations. Shortly after the blast, they were ordered to return to loading ships even though no changes had been made to improve their safety.

    The sailors refused, saying they needed training on how to more safely handle the bombs before they returned.

    What followed affected the rest of their lives, including punishments that kept them from receiving honorable discharges even as the vast majority returned to work at the pier under immense pressure and served throughout the war. Fifty sailors who held fast to their demands for safety and training were tried as a group on charges of conspiracy to commit mutiny and were convicted and sent to prison.

    The whole episode was unjust, and none of the sailors received the legal due process they were owed, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said in an interview with The Associated Press.

    It was “a horrific situation for those Black sailors that remained,” Del Toro said. The Navy’s office of general counsel reviewed the military judicial proceedings used to punish the sailors and found “there were so many inconsistencies and so many legal violations that came to the forefront,” he said.

    Thurgood Marshall, who was then a defense attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, defended the 50 sailors who were convicted of mutiny. Marshall went on to become the first Black justice on the Supreme Court.

    On Wednesday, the 80th anniversary of the Port Chicago disaster, Del Toro signed paperwork officially clearing the sailors, who are now deceased. Del Toro handed the first pen to Thurgood Marshall Jr., the late justice’s son.

    The exonerations “are deeply moving,” Marshall Jr. said. “They, of course, are all gone, and that’s a painful aspect of it. But so many fought for so long for that kind of fairness and recognition.”

    President Joe Biden said the decision to exonerate is “righting a historic wrong.”

    In the appeal of their courts martial convictions, then-NAACP attorney Marshall wrote that “justice can only be done in this case by a complete reversal of findings,” Biden said in a statement. “With this action, we are answering that call.”

    The events have stung surviving family members for decades, but an earlier effort in the 1990s to pardon the sailors fell short. Two additional sailors were previously cleared—one was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, and one was cleared on insufficient evidence. Wednesday’s action goes beyond a pardon and vacates the military judicial proceedings carried out in 1944 against all of the men.

    […] The racism that the Black sailors faced reflected the military’s views at the time — ranks were segregated, and the Navy had only reluctantly opened some positions it considered less desirable to Black service members. [Historical photo of Black sailors unloading aerial bombs from a railcar.]

    The official court of inquiry looking into why the explosion occurred cleared all the white officers and praised them for the “great effort” they had to exert to run the dock. It left open the suggestion that the Black sailors were to blame for the accident.

    Del Toro’s action converts the discharges to honorable unless there were other circumstances surrounding them. After the Navy upgrades the discharges, surviving family members can work with the Department of Veterans Affairs on past benefits that may be owed, the Navy said.

    The wheels of justice grind exceeding slow.

  153. says

    New York Times link

    North Korean Diplomat Defects to the South, Shares News of Political Purge

    Ri Il-kyu, who fled to South Korea late last year, alleged that two North Korean officials who had been assigned to negotiate with the Trump administration had been punished.

    Two senior North Korean diplomats who negotiated with the United States when the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, exchanged threats of war and later held summit talks with President Donald J. Trump were purged a few years ago — one executed and the other sentenced to a penal colony, a North Korean defector said this week.

    There was no independent confirmation of the allegations nor was it clear whether the punitive actions stemmed from the failure of the diplomatic efforts. But the breakdown of the talks was widely seen as a major embarrassment for Mr. Kim.

    The defector, Ri Il-kyu, 52, made the comments in an interview with a newspaper in Seoul, which was also the first time his defection became public. Mr. Ri was a political counselor at the North Korean Embassy in Cuba when he fled to South Korea last November. He is the most senior North Korean official known to defect to the South in nearly a decade.

    In the interview, conducted by the conservative daily Chosun Ilbo on Sunday and published on Tuesday, Mr. Ri spoke about the fates of Ri Yong-ho and Han Song-ryol, the former a foreign minister and the latter a deputy. They were among the best-known North Korean diplomats dealing with Washington. But they soon disappeared from North Korean state media.

    […] “For days, those who watched it could hardly eat anything,” Mr. Ri said, adding that he did not attend the execution because he was preparing to travel to the North Korean Embassy in Cuba at the time.

    The South Korean spy agency ​on Tuesday declined to comment on the allegations.

    Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump held the first summit meeting between their two countries in Singapore in June 2018. But their diplomacy collapsed when their second meeting, held in Hanoi in February 2019, ended without an agreement on how to roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons program or when to ease United Nations sanctions imposed on the North.

    […] Mr. Han was sidelined a few months before the Singapore meeting​ and, according to Mr. Ri, the defector, executed a couple weeks before Mr. Kim’s second summit with Mr. Trump​.

    […] Since taking power in 2011, Mr. Kim has engineered a series of bloody political purges to remove or execute many senior officials seen as obstacles to his power or blamed for policy failures. Jang Song-thaek, Mr. Kim’s uncle, was executed in 2013 on charges of corruption and plotting a military coup against Mr. Kim. The leader’s half brother, Kim Jong-nam, was assassinated by North Korean agents in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 2017.

    Mr. Ri told the Chosun Ilbo that he decided to defect to South Korea after his bosses at the Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang demanded bribes and the ministry rejected his request to travel to Mexico for treatment for back pain. He was the most senior North Korean diplomat to defect to Seoul since Thae Yong-ho, a minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, fled to South Korea in 2016.

    Mr. Ri said he once shared tea with Mr. Kim.

    “When you see him in person, the first thing that comes to your mind is: ‘He must have a very high blood pressure,’” he said, echoing widespread speculation on Mr. Kim’s health. “His face is red as if he is always drunk. It is redder than you see it on TV.”

  154. lotharloo says

    Adidas proves once again that it is a shit company with shit morals.

    Adidas has dropped the supermodel Bella Hadid, who is half Palestinian, from an advertising campaign for retro shoes referencing the 1972 Munich Olympics….
    The German sportswear company had chosen Hadid to promote its SL72 trainers, which were first launched to coincide with the 1972 Olympics.

    Adidas recently relaunched the SL72 shoes as part of a series reviving classic trainers.

    However images of the American model wearing the shoes prompted criticism, including on Israel’s official account on X (formerly Twitter).

    “Guess who the face of their campaign is? Bella Hadid, a half-Palestinian model,” a post read on Thursday.

    In a statement provided to the news agency, the company said it would be “revising the remainder of the campaign” with immediate effect.

    “We are conscious that connections have been made to tragic historical events — though these are completely unintentional — and we apologise for any upset or distress caused.”

    Yeah, what a fucking “offense” to pick a half Palestinian model for an event referring to 72 Olympics. The Israeli racists are making it too obvious that in their minds all Palestinians, even half-Palestinians, are terrorists.

  155. says

    When the GOP forces religion into schools, the Satanic Temple complies

    As the saying goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the, erm, satanic goose, and one group of faux satanists is vowing to prove once again that theocracy is incompatible with the Constitution.

    The Satanic Temple—the winsome wags who brought you Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic—are now fixing to test the limits of a new Florida law that opens schools to “additional counseling and support to students” from outside organizations.

    That sounds innocuous enough, because who doesn’t want to support students? But the law is really just another in a recent spate of measures intended to beer-bong specific religious flavors down the throats of nondrinkers […]

    The Guardian:

    Although HB 931 leaves the implementation of chaplain programs to individual school districts, and only requires schools to list a volunteer’s religion “if any”, [Gov. Ron] DeSantis has made clear its intent is to restore the tenets of Christianity to public education.

    Without the bill, DeSantis said at its signing in April: “You’re basically saying that God has no place [on campus]. That’s wrong.”

    Is it wrong, though? Would it really be that awful if religious people confined their rites and rhetoric to the vast majority of the American landmass that isn’t school property? If parents want to take their kids to the Grand Canyon and tell them Noah’s flood made that ditch, that’s their right. But why should members of the marginally cognizant community be forced to hear it?

    So as they’ve done numerous times before, satanists are coming to the rescue.

    Members of the Satanic Temple say they’re poised to act as volunteer chaplains under Florida’s new law, which took effect on July 1.

    The temple is really more secular than satanic, and uses the dark threat of “Satan” to make a point about religious pluralism. Its leaders see the new law as an entree—not for satanism, per se, but for reason and fairness. Satanic Temple members are ready to bring the good news of Satan and all his fictional works—as well as the Founding Fathers’ very real work product—to Sunshine State schoolchildren from the Panhandle to the Keys.

    But this isn’t a joke or a prank. It’s a serious effort to wake America up to the theocratic cancer that’s currently metastasizing across the country.

    “You have theocrats pushing further and further, signing unconstitutional bills into law, and they realize there’s no consequence,” Lucien Graves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, told The Guardian. “And they also realize that when people see these laws passed, and the outrage comes, they’re not even necessarily going to recognize or realize when those laws are later overturned by the courts.

    “They’re giving everybody the impression that these types of things are legal, this is just the environment we’re living in,” Graves said. “And in that way they’re really numbing people to when these things actually do take effect, or when they are upheld by a corrupt judge who’s just playing partisan politics.”

    Of course, Florida’s new law isn’t the only recent example of theocratic creep.

    Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction, recently announced teachers will be required to incorporate the Bible and the Ten Commandments into their curricula, citing their supposed historical importance. And now he plans to overhaul the state’s social studies curriculum with the help of a coterie of Christofascist kookaburras. These include Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, whose organization created Project 2025, the fascist kill-America outline whose architects Donald Trump never heard of, even though several of them were members of his administration. […]

    Meanwhile, Louisiana passed a law in June requiring all schools receiving state funding to post the Ten Commandments in every classroom. No doubt the Supreme Court will review this blatantly unconstitutional law, decide it’s just fine, and further order that Jewish, Muslim, and atheist kids be forced to eat a bug in front of the class.

    In addition, several other states are currently allowing a Christian outfit known as LifeWise to bus kids to Christian celebrations and Bible studies during school hours. The off-campus sessions are legal under two Supreme Court rulings issued in 1948 and 1952, but the program has raised eyebrows among school officials and parents who think it puts undue peer pressure on non-Christian kids.

    “Whether it’s happening on campus or not, this program is bringing religion into the school,” Demrie Alonzo, an English tutor who works at several Ohio schools with LifeWise programs, told NBC News. “It’s not fair to the kids of different religions.”

    Of course, given that Supreme Court robes now reliably double as choir frocks, quaint throwbacks like the Constitution and stare decisis are unlikely to help us repair our crumbling wall of church-state separation. Democrats and other students of actual American history need to take back statehouses in order to do that.

    Which means we need to fill out our entire ballots every time, and not simply vote for Democrats in the most high-profile races.

    As the Sister District Project points out, “ballot roll-off,” which occurs when voters fill out the top of the ballot but stop there, is a bigger problem among Democrats than Republicans. And the difference is by no means minor.

    According to SDP, “across 10 battleground states over 8 years, contested down-ballot Democrats experienced ballot roll-off 80% of the time, compared to only 37% for their Republican counterparts.”

    As a result of this yawning discrepancy, Democratic voters are unwittingly giving theocrats the green light all across the country […]

    “State legislative races and chambers hinge on razor-thin margins,” writes the SDP. “In prior work, we found that Democrats would have gained control of 14 more chambers in 9 states in 2020 if they had only been able to increase their down-ballot votes by 2% or less. And, those votes could have come from people who were already voting for Democrats at the top of the ticket.”

    In other words, you already showed up to vote. Finish the job!

    To paraphrase Smokey Bear, only you can stop out-of-control theocracy. And, happily, you don’t even have to rake the forests to do it.

  156. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #220…
    I’ll say this about kookaburras…they are VERY, VERY LOUD.

  157. says


    […] In a previous article the Washington Post pointed out the sexist, racist use of “Jezebel” as a biblical attack on Vice President Kamala Harris. Texas pastor Tom Buck justified use of the language, saying,

    “My problem is her godless character. She not only is the most radical pro-abortion VP ever, but also most radical LGBT advocate.”

    That earlier article also highlights the threat of violence, in that case surrounding the term Jezebel instead of millstone:

    Jessica Johnson, an assistant professor of religious studies at the College of William & Mary, said the term has historically been used as a justification for racial violence against Black women.

    Another article this week, this one a Substack post from Tom Snyder, took the occasion of a Republican attack on a Republican presidential candidate to remind us that those who come to power through violent rhetoric should be the first we suspect of employing violence even when that violence targets someone on their own side.

    If a radical-right politician such as Donald Trump is the victim of an assassination attempt, should we not presume that the perpetrator is on the radical left?

    No, we should not.

    That sort of presumption, based on us-and-them thinking, is dangerous. It begins a chain of thinking that can lead to more violence. We are the victims, and they are the aggressors. We have been hurt, so it must have been them. No one thinking this way ever asks about the violence on one’s own side.

    And this way of thinking is also very often erroneous.

    On January 6, the crowd wanted to attack and kill Nancy Pelosi, but the rioters’ rage was just as much if not more focused upon Mike Pence.

    […] We’ve seen individually targeted violence gunning metaphorically for Pence and literally for Trump.

    The point here is that the rightwing’s base sits upon a foundation of threats, and not just from Trump, not just from random street protesters. The North Carolina nominee for governor is running around saying, “Some folks need killin’.” Mike Johnson himself, yes, the Speaker of the House, told a “Christian women’s conference” in 2022,

    “Obviously, this is an increasingly hostile culture. We all know that. We need to understand why that is, and we need to commit to do our part to confront it. The kingdom of God allows aggression.”

    [Emphasis Wonkette’s.]

    This did not begin with Trump and it does not end with him. The power of the GOP as a whole cannot be separated from their practice of threatening others. They have made money from it. They have made an institution of it. And so when the power of the GOP is threatened, it should be unsurprising that some people take those justifications for violence seriously and act violently. With the attempt on Trump’s life, the Right shows itself to be dangerously unstable, which should worry everyone. […]

    [When] they move on to other enemies on their list. It is very difficult to say how it would stop.

  158. whheydt says

    On this July 20th… Name (1) a brand of baking soda, (2) a pesticide, (3) a mixed drink. (This originated with Karen Anderson, wife of SF writer Poul Anderson.)

    On a somewhat more serious level…In July 1969 I was working in the Federal Summer Employment Program. Richard Nixon gave all Federal employees a paid day off work. Only good thing he ever did for me…

  159. says

    ‘Agency in Crisis’: Secret Service has decade-old staffing shortfall

    Interviews with former agents and an NBC News review of government documents and reports reveals an agency struggling to retain agents and keep pace with threats.

    The arm of the Secret Service that protects presidents, vice presidents and their families is nearly 10 percent smaller than it was a decade ago despite warnings from Congress and a government watchdog that it needed to add agents or risk compromising its mission.

    The latest Congressional budget figures show that the employee headcount assigned to protect the president and other senior officials and investigate threats against them dropped by roughly 350 staffers — down from 4,027 in fiscal 2014 to 3,671 in the current fiscal year.

    At the same time, the number of people that Protective Operations had to protect grew and the potential threats it faced became more diverse. Today, the Secret Service faces chronic understaffing for its most high-profile roles and competition from the private sector, which routinely poaches agents for much higher paying and less punishing jobs.

    As the agency is being roundly criticized for failing to adequately protect former President Donald Trump at a rally in Butler, Pennyslviana, local and federal law enforcement officials say its widely known within policing circles that the organization whose agents would “take a bullet for the President,” is overwhelmed.

    […] The agency’s staffing problems do not appear to be due to a lack of funding. The budget of the Secret Service nearly doubled over the last decade. It jumped from around $1.8 billion in fiscal 2014 to more than $3 billion, according to government filings. During the same period, agency-wide staffing rose by nearly 25% with over 8,100 personnel. That includes roughly 3,200 special agents and 1,300 uniformed officers, according to the agency’s website.

    Adding to the strain, both Presidents Biden and Trump, who are older presidents with grandchildren, had Secret Service protection for their large, multi-generational families. Legally, the Secret Service is required to protect presidents, vice presidents, and their immediate families, which include grandchildren under federal rules.

    Secret Service agents must also guard former presidents and vice presidents plus their spouses and children under 16, as well as visiting heads of state. In election years, they must also protect leading presidential and vice-presidential candidates and their spouses.

    […] Budget documents reviewed by NBC News show that the agency requested more than $25 million in fiscal year 2018 to pay agents to work in New York to protect Trump Tower along with President Trump’s children and grandchildren. Three years later, the agency requested funding for extra vehicles to protect Trump after he left office.

    […] “Threats against the President and other protectees have grown in intensity and scale with the emergence of new technologies and the heightened level of violence in the country,” the report said.

    Frank Loveridge, who spent 22-years with the agency including as a supervisor in the Presidential Protection Division during President Barack Obama’s second term, said agents were stretched thin.

    “You’re being pushed so hard all the time. You’re on the road for three straight weeks with no days off, working 16 hour days traveling,” said Loveridge, now a director of corporate security.

    […] After the police murder of George Floyd, the Secret Service and federal and local law enforcement agencies struggled with recruitment. Working for the Secret Service is also known as both grueling and tedious, with agents standing on their feet and waiting for hours while officials meet.

    The GAO found that agents were not always paid for all the extra hours worked. Congress stepped in and passed legislation that provides overtime for staffers who work in protection but the measure expires in 2028.

    “We give up nights, weekends, holidays,” Robert McDonald, a retired Secret Service agent and now a lecturer at the University of New Haven, said. “That’s how we serve the public. So it’s very difficult to get people interested in this type of situation of protecting the community or going into the Secret Service.”

    […] In addition to agents who serve on protective details, uniformed officers within the agency stand post at the White House, the Treasury Department, and Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Washington D.C. Uniformed officers also screen the public as they enter high profile events when presidents speak.

    Christopher McClenic, a retired 23-year veteran of the Secret Service who worked on President Clinton’s detail, said the responsibilities particularly of the uniformed division were “never ending.”

    “You will be working 12 hour shifts pretty much every day into perpetuity,” McClenic said. “I don’t think the uniform division has ever been fully staffed.” […]

  160. John Morales says

    Early days, of course, but…

    Solid State Batteries Are REALLY Here: Yoshino Power Station

    Solid State Batteries Are REALLY Here: Yoshino Power Station. Use my link [ ]
    If there’s any doubt that solid state batteries are actually here, well … here’s your proof. You can actually buy this for yourself and get it delivered to your door in a day or two. No, solid state batteries aren’t everywhere and definitely not mass market yet, but they also aren’t vaporware and always five years away. Just like this Yoshino battery, there’s other solid state batteries right on the cusp of ending up in consumer electronics devices near you. But do these early versions live up to the hype? And who is this Yoshino battery really good for?

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