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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,738

Journal Archives

Threats & Leaks: New Documents Show Just How Crazy the Georgia Recount Fiasco Got

While the Georgia secretary of state’s office was fending off calls from then-President Donald Trump to find votes, officials were also dealing with bomb threats.

Back in January 2021, as then-President Donald Trump was calling on Georgia election officials to “find 11,780 votes,” new documents show that the secretary of state’s office in Georgia was in full crisis mode.

There were death threats ​​promising to “make the Boston bombings look like child’s play.” Impassioned pleas for Georgia’s top elections official to stand firm in the face of pressure from Trump to break the law. And an alarmed state official demanding an immediate investigation into Donald Trump’s “solicitation to commit election fraud.”

In the chaotic weeks following the 2020 election, Trump was in the midst of a full-scale effort to delegitimize Georgia ballot totals, calling Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “an enemy of the people” and sending a team of advisers to convince state legislators to decertify the results of a recount that just barely put Joe Biden ahead.

Emails between state elections officials show the tense moments on the first weekend of January 2021, when Trump called Raffensperger and squeezed him to “find” enough votes to tip the state in his favor—a call that was recorded and almost immediately leaked to The Washington Post.


Jean-Paul Belmondo, jaunty star of New Wave classic 'Breathless,' dies at 88

Source: Washington Post

Jean-Paul Belmondo, a French actor who vaulted to international renown as a playfully amoral gangster in Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal 1960 New Wave film “Breathless,” and who later enlivened dozens of hit comedy-adventures with his jaunty presence and stunts, died Sept. 6. He was 88.

The office of his lawyer, Michel Godest, confirmed his death but did not share additional details.

With his tousled chestnut hair, sinewy physique and battered Roman nose, Mr. Belmondo personified the nonchalant antihero — the lackadaisical tough guy who could use his fists but would rather slug back a few pastis and see where life, or an adventurous woman, might take him.

In a career spanning six decades and about 90 films, he was most at home playing charming rogues, amorous rebels without a cause, and he became one of Europe’s most popular leading men. No film did more to define his persona than “Breathless,” in which he portrayed a criminal, on the run in Paris, who steals a car, senselessly shoots a police officer and is betrayed by his mercurial American girlfriend (Jean Seberg), whom he constantly hectors for sex.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/jean-paul-belmondo-dead/2021/09/06/693d9b04-14fb-11e9-90a8-136fa44b80ba_story.html

The Red Warning Light on Richard Branson's Space Flight

The F.A.A. is investigating the ship’s off-course descent.

On July 11th, nearly a minute into the rocket trip carrying Richard Branson, the British billionaire, to space, a yellow caution light appeared on the ship’s console. The craft was about twenty miles in the air above the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico, and climbing, travelling more than twice the speed of sound. But it was veering off course, and the light was a warning to the pilots that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical. If they didn’t fix it, they risked a perilous emergency landing in the desert on their descent.

Riding rockets is dangerous stuff. Around 1.4 per cent of Russian, Soviet, and American crewed spaceflight missions have resulted in fatalities. The foremost commercial space companies—Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin—must, over the coming years, bring that number down. Their profits depend on making frequent and safe human spaceflight a reality. “A private program can’t afford to lose anybody,” Branson has said.

And yet, perhaps more than any of its competitors, Branson’s company is already hard at work fashioning its identity as a luxury life-style brand. Virgin Galactic is marketing its space-tourism business but for the time being remains an experimental flight-test program. I’ve been covering this company for almost seven years, reporting on its triumphs and tragedies, and on the disconnect between its lofty rhetoric (“Virgin Galactic’s mission is to democratize space,” Branson has said) and its supersonic risks. This account was informed by discussions with eight people knowledgeable about the program.

Virgin Galactic’s space vehicle is unique among its competitors. Whereas SpaceX and Blue Origin operate traditional, vertical-launch rockets that are automated by engineers, Virgin Galactic uses a piloted, winged rocket ship. Every test flight is crewed, which makes each one a matter of life and death. (SpaceX, on the other hand, completed scores of launches before it flew with a human onboard; Blue Origin completed more than a dozen launches before it did the same.)


The FAA has since grounded any further flights until their investigation is complete.

Guinea military officials say they have detained the president and taken control of the country

Source: Washington Post

CONAKRY, Guinea — Soldiers have detained the president of Guinea, the head of the West African nation’s special forces said in a video Sunday, adding another potential coup d’etat to the country’s long record of military takeovers.

Col. Mamady Doumbouya said President Alpha Condé was in custody following hours of gunfire in the capital, Conakry, and warnings for people to stay indoors.

The military has seized control of Guinea, dissolved its government and sealed the borders, Doumbouya said, citing “the trampling of the rights of citizens” and “the disrespect of democratic principles” as motivations.

Military officers repeated the takeover claim on national television with Guinea’s red, green and yellow flag draped on their shoulders, adding that they planned to forge a transition government.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/05/guinea-alpha-conde-military-takeover/

Unknown Amazon on Vice

This is an excellent docuseries that explores the Amazon's upper regions, with the host Pedro Andrade having insightful, delightful interactions with the people who live there. It's available for streaming if one has a cable provider.

Highly recommended.

Shooter kills 4, including infant, shoots 11-year-old girl multiple times, sheriff says

Four people were killed, an 11-year-old girl was shot and deputies came under fire early Sunday in a neighborhood in North Lakeland.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the shootings took place at 4:30 a.m. in two separate houses, near North Socrum Loop Road and Fulton Green Road, less than a half mile north of Lake Gibson High School.

Judd said two separate shootouts occurred "in short order" between and the suspect, who surrendered after being wounded. Lakeland police and troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol were also involved. After the suspect was in custody, police discovered an 11-year-old girl who had been shot "multiple times," as well as a man, two women and an infant dead.

No police were injured in the shootout.

Judd said the suspect, whom he did not identify, was a survivalist "who came for a gunfight." He said the suspect admitted to using methamphetamine.


Just another day in the good ol' USA.

Climate disasters will strain our mental health system. It's time to adapt.

As the effects of climate change become severe, more people than ever may experience mental health challenges. To provide solutions, experts say the system will need to evolve.

The resonances were eerie as Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm, broached Louisiana’s coast on Sunday, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the same area.

“It’s very painful to think about another powerful storm like Hurricane Ida making landfall on that anniversary,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said on the eve of Ida’s arrival. As residents of the state braced for a battering of wind and water, many were preparing for another assault — the unbearable emotional toll of living through another such storm.

This kind of re-traumatization may become increasingly common. Experts say that as the planet continues to warm, and climate change’s effects become more apparent and severe across the globe, more people than ever could experience serious challenges to their mental health as a result.

New methods for addressing these challenges are emerging in the United States, though some experts believe a surge in mental health issues related to climate change could overwhelm the system — leading them to consider how to radically remake it.


This country has been suffering a mental health crisis for the past 40 years, ever since Reagan stopped funding federal mental health programs. That despicable act contributed to our current state of affairs.

DeSantis 'triples down' on fight to protect virus, $5,000 fines for schools that require vaccination

For decades, Florida schools have required vaccinations. The Florida Department of Health currently lists vaccinations against at least seven different diseases that are required for both public schools, private schools, and even daycare facilities. Both students and teachers are required to be vaccinated against everything from polio and pertussis to chickenpox and hepatitis B.

But Gov. Ron DeSantis has informed these same schools—along with every government agency and private business in the state—that they will be fined $5,000 it they ask for proof of vaccination against COVID-19. As WJXT in Jacksonville explains, DeSantis says he doesn’t want a “biomedical security state” in which people are forced to produce proof of vaccination. To underscore this desire, Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature passed, and DeSantis signed, a bill saying that no business, school, or agency can “require patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination.”

The maximum fine that bill allows is $5,000. Letters sent this week have made it clear that DeSantis intends to begin fining people the maximum amount immediately. Meanwhile, as WFLA reports, two children died in Florida from COVID-19 on Thursday—including a newborn who was just two weeks old. The director of a pediatric intensive care unit confirmed that children “do get severe conditions and we are seeing more and more of them in the ICU.”

DeSantis’ actions on both masks and vaccines aren’t just unsupportable in terms of science or public health, they’re actively destructive. At some point, if a policy looks like it’s trying to kill people, and it acts like trying to kill people, it’s just trying to kill people.


The Republicans have become the party of violence

Menacing signals suggest that Jan. 6 may have been the overture, not the finale.

A Republican running for Northampton County executive in Pennsylvania gave a heated address on Aug. 29 about mask mandates in schools. Steve Lynch is tired, he said, of providing his school board arguments and data (he apparently thinks the data support letting kids go maskless), but the important thing about his rant is the threat of force: “Forget into these school boards with frigging data. ... They don’t follow the law! You go in and you remove ‘em. I’m going in there with 20 strong men.”

That’s the kind of language that Republicans are now employing. Lynch has not run for public office before, but he did attend the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., and has posted on social media that the violence that day was a false-flag operation meant to discredit Trump supporters.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina spoke last weekend at an event sponsored by the Macon County Republican Party. He delivered the kind of lies that have become routine among some Republicans. The election was stolen — and not just the presidential contest but also the one won by Gov. Roy Cooper (who defeated his opponent by a quarter of a million votes). Cawthorn told the crowd that vaccines are harmful to children and urged them to “defend their children.” A woman asked what he plans to do about the “535 Americans who have been captured from Jan. 6.” Cawthorn, who has apparently heard this before, thundered, “Political hostages!” When someone in the crowd asked, “When are you gonna call us back to Washington?” he replied, “We are actively working on that one.”

Insurrection talk is becoming Cawthorn’s specialty: “If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place — and it’s bloodshed.”

Naturally, former President Donald Trump has endorsed him for “whatever he wants to do.”


Seems that Mona Charen, a longtime champion of all things right-wing Republican, has now discovered that the movement she has long supported is a danger to our democracy. Better late than never, I suppose.

Landlord finds 19 tarantulas, 1 python left behind by tenant

AUBURN, Maine -- A Maine landlord arranged for the rescue of 15 tarantulas and one python that had been left behind by a tenant.

Animal rescuer Drew Desjardins was called to the apartment Wednesday in Auburn, the Sun Journal reported.

He found that four of 19 tarantulas had died and that the ball python did not have water. Desjardins said Thursday that he took the surviving animals back to his home and that they were doing fine.

All the recovered animals are illegal in Maine and will be relocated. There was no word on whether the tenant was being sought.

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