Neo-Nazis in the news again

Portland, Oregon is bracing for a rally on Saturday organized by far-right groups targeting Portland’s antifascist groups.

The protest has been promoted primarily by Floridian Joe Biggs, a member of the rightwing Proud Boys organization. Biggs is a combat veteran and a former employee of the conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones’s Infowars network. He claims that up to 1,000 people from around the country will attend Saturday’s unpermitted event on the city’s waterfront.

In promoting the rally on social media, Biggs has brandished a Trump-themed baseball bat, appeared in videos wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Training to Throw Communists Out of Helicopters” – a reference to the Chilean Pinochet regime’s methods for executing dissidents – and has taunted antifascists, saying “You’re not gonna feel safe when you go out in public” and “I’m gonna stomp your ass into the ground, Antifa”.

The rally has also been heavily promoted in conservative media outlets along with its underlying message – the claim that anti-fascist groups, known as “antifa”, are domestic terrorists.

[Read more…]

Federal appeals court sides with common sense and decency and against Trump

You may recall my earlier post with a video of a Department of Justice lawyer Sarah Fabian trying to defend the awful conditions that detained migrant children were being kept in (such as being denied soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, showers, beds, and cloth blankets tin very cold rooms with the lights permanently on) to an openly incredulous panel of three justices in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
[Read more…]

Brexit shenanigans get weirder and weirder

As the October 31 deadline for crashing out of the EU looms, Boris Johnson tries to create a situation where he has total control over whether a no-deal Brexit occurs or not. He seems to think (or at least is saying so publicly even if he does not believe it) that the threat of a no-deal Brexit would be sufficient to force the EU to come back to the negotiating table with a deal that is more favorable to the UK. He argues that those in the UK who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit and trying to find ways to stop it are actually aiding the EU by enabling them to avoid having to negotiate with him. He has said that he is willing to prorogue (parliament-speak for suspend) parliament to pre-empt any moves to stop him.
[Read more…]

Really good deep fake of Tom Cruise

Actor Bill Hader is known for his impressions of famous people, a skill he used to good effect when he used to be a cast member of Saturday Night Live. In a recent TV interview he recounted meetings with Tom Cruise and Seth Rogan and did impressions of them. Someone took that video and whenever Hader did an impression, did a deep fake to make him actually look like the person he was impersonating.

The transitions are so smooth as to be uncanny. It is really well done and also deeply disturbing at the potential to dupe people.

We need a nationwide teach-in on the First Amendment

The Hamptons is a very upscale region in New York state where the very wealthy live. Apparently residents who are supporters of Donald Trump are having to keep their allegiance a secret because their neighbors hate him.

President Trump’s Hamptons supporters have gone underground.

“We are all in the closet,” said a boutique owner in Southampton who fears reprisals from his customers — most of them moneyed Democrats — if he speaks openly about his allegiance to Trump. “It’s like you have this disease and people want to run away from you.”

A builder based in Westhampton worried that his customers would boycott his services if he reveals his support of the president. “People have really strong opinions here and if you go around wearing a MAGA hat, you really need to fear physical violence,” he said, adding the anti-Trump aggression comes mostly from summer residents.

“They’re all Democrats, so for us it’s a matter of survival,” said an art consultant who works in Sag Harbor. “We live in the land of the First Amendment, but if you want to stay in business out here, you have to keep your opinions to yourself. We are hitting a very dark and strange place as a country.”

What will it take people to realize that the First Amendment only guarantees that the government “shall make no law …abridging the freedom of speech”? In other words, the government cannot censor your speech (except under very limited conditions) and you are free to say that you adore Trump and to wear as many MAGA hats as you like, if that floats your boat. The First Amendment does not require other people to like you or approve of what you say or not criticize you or support your business.

Man dies in taco eating contest

Last month I posted about the weird practice of food-eating competitions and said that it can’t be good for people to force-feed themselves to excess.

Well, the worst has happened. A man has died while taking part in a taco-eating contest.

Dana Hutchings, 41, of Fresno, died Tuesday night shortly after arriving at a hospital, said Tony Botti, a Fresno sheriff spokesman.

An autopsy on Hutchings will be done Thursday to determine a cause of death, Botti said. It was not immediately known how many tacos the man had eaten or whether he had won the contest.

Matthew Boylan, who watched Tuesday’s taco eating contest from his seat in the stadium, told the Fresno Bee he quickly noticed Hutchings because “he was eating so fast compared to the other two [contestants]”.

“It was like he’d never eaten before,” Boylan said. “He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing.”

He said Hutchings collapsed and hit his face on a table about seven minutes into the contest, then fell to the ground. The eating contest ended immediately.

This is not a ‘sport’ that should be encouraged.

How white nationalism went mainstream

Luke Darby has a good analysis of how white supremacy has gone mainstream in the US and led to the rise of mass murders by believers.

All of these shooters were obsessed with the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, sometimes referred to as “white genocide”. It’s the idea that shadowy elites – usually Jewish, almost always liberal – are orchestrating the destruction of white culture through demographic change. The theory goes that white culture will be eroded mainly through migration and birthrates: more people of color are arriving in majority white counties, the ones already there are having more and more babies, and birthrates are declining for the soon-to-be-oppressed white people.
[Read more…]

The weird obsession of Ohio State University

Anyone who lives in Ohio will immediately recognize the solecism I committed in the title of this blog post. The university insists that it be referred to as The Ohio State University and woe unto anyone who merely calls it Ohio State University. Why this obsession I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with wanting to be seen as unique is some way. All I know is that it causes endless amusement and trolling by people who deliberately drop the ‘the’ like I did above. It is not unusual for people to sarcastically place heavy emphasis on the word ‘the’.

But Cory Doctorow says that the university has turned that obsession up to 11 by filing a trademark application for the word ‘THE”. You can read more about it here.

Good luck with that.

What Jeffrey Epstein’s death reveals about the shocking state of US jails

While there have been all manner of speculations about how Jeffrey Epstein may have met his death in jail, lawyer Ken White, who has been a federal prosecutor, says that those who think that “jailers could not possibly be so incompetent, cruel, or indifferent as to let such a high-profile prisoner commit suicide” do not realize that the truth may be less sensational but more disturbing, that this kind of death in US prisons is far more common than people think and is due to a culture of neglect, lack of staff, poor training, abuse, and sheer cruelty on the part of those who run these institutions.
[Read more…]