Some interesting primary results

The state of New Jersey had its primary elections on Tuesday and although this is a moderately Democratic state, there were some interesting features.

Three term congressperson Andy Kim won the Democratic primary for the senate seat and seems well on the way to becoming the state’s senator. The incumbent Robert Menendez is on trial for corruption and is vowing to run as an independent but his chances look slim. Kim should be a far better senator than the awful Menendez.

More interesting is that the candidate that serial sex offender and convicted felon Donald Trump (SSACFT) endorsed for the Republican senate nomination failed to win.
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Trump has to meet with a probation officer before sentencing

I am learning all manner of arcane things about how the criminal justice system works, thanks to the trial and conviction of serial sex abuser and convicted felon Donald Trump (SSACFT). For example, I used to wonder why there would be a long gap between the verdict and the sentencing. It turns out that this is because even though it is the judge who decides what the sentence should be, there is a process that leads up to it and one requirement is that the convicted felon first meet with a probation officer who will conduct an examination and give the judge a report.
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US beats Pakistan in World Cup cricket shocker

In their Group A game, the US pulled off a sensational win against Pakistan in a thrilling match in which the score was tied at 159 runs each after the regular 20 overs but then won 18-13 in the ‘super over’ tie-breaker. It is hard to think of a good comparison that would give those who do not follow cricket a sense of how big an upset this was. It is like a college football team beating an NFL team, since the US team consists of amateurs who have regular jobs while the Pakistanis are seasoned professionals who do this for a living.

The US is participating in the World Cup for the first time and only because it got an automatic entry because it is a co-host. Pakistan, on the other hand, is a perennial powerhouse that made it to the finals of the last World Cup and its match next week against favorites India is expected to draw a viewership that is five times that of the Super Bowl, while this is the just the second game ever for the US. In their first Group A match the US defeated Canada and they still have to play India and Ireland in their group. For them to defeat India would be for lightning to strike twice but defeating Ireland is not unrealistic and if they do so, they would likely end up second in their group next to India and thus qualify for the next round. Part of the reason that the US was chosen to co-host this World Cup with West Indies was to help popularize the sport in this country and this win will undoubtedly help in that effort. This win has already created considerable media coverage.
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Another day, another atrocity committed by the IDF

The Israeli military hit a school and killed over 30 people, 23 of whim were women and children trying to find refuge from the constant bombardment unleashed on the people of Gaza by the Israeli government.

An Israeli strike early Thursday on a school sheltering displaced Palestinians in central Gaza killed more than 30 people, including 23 women and children, according to local health officials. The Israeli military said that Hamas militants were operating from within the school.

Witnesses and hospital officials said the predawn strike hit the al-Sardi School, run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees known by the acronym UNRWA. The school was filled with Palestinians who had fled Israeli offensives and bombardment in northern Gaza, they said.

Ayman Rashed, a man displaced from Gaza City who was sheltering at the school, said the missiles hit classrooms on the second and third floor where families were sheltering. He said he helped carry out five dead, including an old man and two children, one with his head shattered open. “It was dark, with no electricity, and we struggled to get out the victims,” Rashed said.

The stories are heartbreaking. It is tempting to turn away, just to avoid becoming depressed at the sheer level of inhumanity of display.

What happens to our bodies in excessive heat

It is astonishing that with record heat waves year after year, there are still those who refuse to acknowledge that we are experiencing dangerous levels of global warming, who not only ignore the warnings but even threaten journalists who write about it.

Almost four out of every 10 journalists covering the climate crisis and environment issues have been threatened as a result of their work, with 11% subjected to physical violence, according to groundbreaking new research.

A global survey of more than 740 reporters and editors from 102 countries found that 39% of those threatened “sometimes” or “frequently” were targeted by people engaged in illegal activities such as logging and mining. Some 30%, meanwhile, were threatened with legal action – reflecting a growing trend towards corporations and governments deploying the judicial system to muzzle free speech.

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International cricket matches return to the US

The T20 Cricket World Cup is currently taking place at various venues in the US and West Indies, marking a return of the game to the US. On Monday, Sri Lanka played South Africa in New York City, with South Africa winning easily. A temporary stadium was built for the occasion and there were enthusiastic fans who attended. Other US locations are Dallas and Florida.


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The myth of morality of the Israeli Defense Forces shattered

It is almost always the case that in wars, soldiers behave abominably, committing all manner of crimes against civilians. Every government defends its troops from accusations of atrocities but those claims are disingenuous.

The Israeli government’s claims of the morality of the Israeli Defense Forces, that its troops do not commit atrocities and that any deaths of innocent people were ‘tragic mistakes’ that occurred while they were targeting Hamas fighters, are being seen around the world as increasingly hollow, and their boast that the IDF is the most ethical armed force in the world would be laughable if the whole thing were not so tragic. If someone were to spray automatic weapon fire in a crowded shop resulting in many deaths and injuries, we would not excuse that action because that person was trying to kill just one person in the crowd. And yet, that is what we are being asked to do by the government of Israel and the IDF, who have been indulging in massive air and ground attacks in Gaza, what has been rightly described as the worlds’ largest open-air prison.

Amnesty International has castigated the IDF for standing by while armed settlers attack Palestinians in the West Bank.
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How some jail and prison systems exploit inmates and families

Some time ago, I wrote about how some US prison systems charge inmates and their families for things that we on the outside get for free, such as email accounts with Gmail and Yahoo.

Inside prisons, e-messaging companies are quietly building a money-making machine virtually unhindered by competition—a monopoly that would be intolerable in the outside world. It’s based in a simple formula: Whatever it costs to send a message, prisoners and their loved ones will find a way to pay it. And, the more ways prisoners are cut off from communicating with their families, the better it is for business.

For many years, phone calls from jails and prisons were unregulated, allowing private telecommunications providers to charge as much as $1 a minute for a call. After years of organizing by prisoner rights advocates, the Federal Communications Commission voted in 2013 to cap the costs of interstate phone calls, calling it a first step toward ending the exorbitant costs of staying in contact. Two years later, the commission extended the cap to intrastate calls. But after five prison phone providers, including Securus, filed separate petitions challenging the FCC’s decision, the ruling was overturned—leaving pricing entirely in the hands of private companies, with charges ranging from 96 cents to as much as $18 for a 20-minute call.

Prisoners also had to buy tablets and pay twice the market rate to download songs. And that is not all. If families transfer money to inmates to pay for the songs, the jail takes a cut of that as well
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