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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 9,705

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Italian ship attacked by pirates in Mexico, two crew hurt

Source: Reuters

Pirates attacked an Italy-flagged offshore supply vessel in the southern Gulf of Mexico, injuring two crew members, the Mexican Navy said on Tuesday, in the latest outbreak of robbery and piracy to hit oil platforms and infrastructure in the area.

One of the crew members of the boat, "Remas," received a bullet wound, and the other suffered a concussion, and both were transferred to a nearby hospital, the Navy said in a statement.

Owned by Italian offshore contractor Micoperi, the boat is a supply vessel for Mexico's oil industry.

It had a crew of about 35 when the attack occurred off the city of Ciudad del Carmen in the state of Campeche, according to two people familiar with the matter and local media reports.

Read more: https://news.yahoo.com/italian-ship-attacked-pirates-mexico-234516868.html

The Democrats may surprise us on impeachment

We have become so accustomed to Democrats’ inability to pierce the Republican smokescreen, whether on Robert S. Mueller’s report or on President Trump’s self-dealing, that many political watchers cynically roll their eyes at the prospect that public impeachment hearings might actually move public opinion in a meaningful way. Perhaps we are underestimating the Democrats.

Consider House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who issued an appropriately stern response to Republicans’ “witness” list (of people who have not witnessed anything relevant) including a demand for the whistleblower to testify publicly.

Schiff wrote, “The committee ... will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm.” He explained, “The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence — from witnesses and documents, including the President’s own words in his July 25 call record — that not only confirms, but far exceeds, the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower’s testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary. In light of the President’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk.”

Republicans can hop up and down all they like, hollering “Unfair!" but they have no substantive response to Schiff. The whistleblower would be endangered and future whistleblowers chilled if he was forced to come forward, and his complaint as Republicans pointed out was simply hearsay, now replaced by direct testimony of percipient witnesses.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/11/11/democrats-may-surprise-us/

Evo Morales Finally Went Too Far for Bolivia

Evo Morales has been attacking Bolivia’s democracy for many years. Since coming to office in 2006, the socialist president has concentrated ever more authority in his own hands, denounced the opposition in aggressive terms, and placed loyalists in key institutions, from the country’s public broadcaster to its highest court.

Like many populists on both the left and the right, Morales claimed to wield power in the name of the people. But after weeks of mass protests in La Paz and other Bolivian cities, and the rapid crumbling of his support both within law enforcement and his own political party, it was his loss of legitimacy among the majority of his own countrymen that forced Morales to resign yesterday.

What he and some of his most credulous Western supporters described as a coup was in fact something very different: proof that Bolivians—like the citizens of many other countries around the world—resent arbitrary rule. The longer they have suffered from oppression, the more they have come to value the democratic institutions that are now threatened by populists around the globe.

As Morales started to come up against the two-term limit for presidents stipulated by the constitution he himself had championed in 2009, his enmity toward any semblance of the rule of law became more and more evident. In 2016, he held a binding referendum that would allow him to stay in office indefinitely. When a majority of Bolivians voted down the proposal, Morales resorted to his tight control of previously independent institutions to get his way. In 2017, the country’s supreme court ruled that limits on the length of his tenure in office would violate Morales’s human rights.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/11/evo-morales-finally-went-too-far-bolivia/601741/

The Disorienting Defenses of Donald Trump

The case for weighing the impeachment of President Trump boils down to a few simple points: In an effort to win re-election in 2020, Mr. Trump apparently attempted to extort a foreign government into announcing an investigation of his top political rival. The president did so while also trying to revive a conspiracy theory that casts doubt over whether the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf. Witnesses have already testified that in order to achieve those goals, Mr. Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid against the bipartisan wishes of Congress. All the while, the president and his staff have refused to cooperate with the congressional investigation into what transpired.

Republicans find themselves in a tough spot. Lawmakers swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, which obliges them to act as a check on the executive branch and any abuses of its power. Yet instead of considering the testimony, many Republicans have chosen reflexively to defend Mr. Trump — not an easy task in the face of such strong evidence of inexcusable behavior.

Here’s a field guide to some of the lines of attack that Republicans have used so far. See if you can recognize them if they appear during the public hearings scheduled to begin this week.

There was no quid pro quo.

This was the first and cleanest defense of Mr. Trump’s July phone call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Trump and his allies offered it up after the White House released a partial summary of the call.

Yet no matter how many times Mr. Trump exhorts Americans to “read the transcript,” the call summary itself establishes that immediately after Mr. Zelensky brought up the military aid, Mr. Trump said he wanted him to “do us a favor though,” and then mentioned investigating the Bidens and a conspiracy theory about the Democratic National Committee server in 2016.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/10/opinion/republicans-trump-impeachment.html

How the U.S. betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster

Five thousand miles west of Los Angeles and 500 miles north of the equator, on a far-flung spit of white coral sand in the central Pacific, a massive, aging and weathered concrete dome bobs up and down with the tide.

Here in the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands — vaporizing whole islands, carving craters into its shallow lagoons and exiling hundreds of people from their homes.

U.S. authorities later cleaned up contaminated soil on Enewetak Atoll, where the United States not only detonated the bulk of its weapons tests but, as The Times has learned, also conducted a dozen biological weapons tests and dumped 130 tons of soil from an irradiated Nevada testing site. It then deposited the atoll’s most lethal debris and soil into the dome.

https://www.latimes.com/projects/marshall-islands-nuclear-testing-sea-level-rise/

In Seeking to Join Suit Over Subpoena Power, Mulvaney Goes Up Against the President

Even in a White House of never-befores, this may be one of the more head-spinning: The president’s chief of staff is trying to join a lawsuit against the president.

Mick Mulvaney works only about 50 steps from the Oval Office as he runs the White House staff but rather than simply obey President Trump’s order to not cooperate with House impeachment investigators, he sent his lawyers to court late Friday night asking a judge whether he should or not.

To obtain such a ruling, the lawyers asked to join a lawsuit already filed by a former White House official — a lawsuit that names “the Honorable Donald J. Trump” as a defendant along with congressional leaders. The lawyers tried to finesse that by saying in the body of their motion that the defendants they really wanted to sue were the congressional leaders, but their own motion still listed Mr. Trump at the top as a defendant because that is the suit they sought to join.

In effect, Mr. Mulvaney hopes the court will tell him whether to listen to his own boss, who wants him to remain silent, or to comply with a subpoena from the House, which wants his testimony. That put Mr. Mulvaney at odds with some other current White House and administration officials who had simply defied the House, citing the president’s order not to cooperate with what he called an illegitimate “witch hunt.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/09/us/politics/mulvaney-trump-impeachment-subpoenas.html

'I'm gonna lose everything'

PLATTE, S.D. — Amber Dykshorn stood at her kitchen window and watched the storm come in.

It was a very dark Saturday night in the middle of the summer in the middle of a year that is on track to be the wettest in more than a century. The wind blew over the farm, the rain came down and she heard the ominous pings on her roof — pea-sized hail, striking the still-fragile stalks of the only corn her husband, Chris Dykshorn, was able to plant before he took his own life in June.

Did their crop insurance cover hail damage? She had no idea. That was something Chris would have taken care of, if he were here. Instead she was alone, with nearly $300,000 in farm debt, three kids ages 5 to 13 and a host of grief-fueled questions. Why hadn’t she been able to save him? What would happen to them now?

She scrolled through his final texts, rereading his words, leaning on the kitchen counter next to a whiteboard with the kids’ chore list — Kahne: dishwasher, Kalee: dust living room — and a book someone gave her titled “Through a Season of Grief: Devotions for Your Journey from Mourning to Joy.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/11/09/im-gonna-lose-everything/

Suicides in the Farm Belt are increasing, with many sources contributing to this epidemic (climate change and trade wars are just two factors). This is a sad but eye-opening article about the condition of a growing segment of the farming community.

How Voters Turned Virginia From Deep Red to Solid Blue

Not long ago, this rolling green stretch of Northern Virginia was farmland. Most people who could vote had grown up here. And when they did, they usually chose Republicans.

The fields of Loudoun County are disappearing. In their place is row upon row of cookie-cutter townhouses, clipped lawns and cul-de-sacs — a suburban landscape for as far as the eye can see. Unlike three decades ago, the residents are often from other places, like India and Korea. And when they vote, it is often for Democrats.

“Guns, that is the most pressing issue for me,” said Vijay Katkuri, 38, a software engineer from southern India, explaining why he voted for a Democratic challenger in Tuesday’s elections. He was shopping for chicken at the Indian Spice Food Market. “There are lots of other issues, but you can only fix them if you are alive.”

Mr. Katkuri’s vote — the first of his life — helped flip a longtime Republican State Senate district and deliver the Virginia statehouse to the Democratic Party for the first time in a generation. It was a stunning political realignment for a southern state, and prompted days of prognosticating about President Trump’s own standing with suburban voters nationally in 2020. But while political leaders come and go, the deeper, more lasting force at work is demographics.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/09/us/politics/virginia-elections-democrats-republicans.html

In Virginia, Republicans confront a fearful electoral future

As Virginia election returns rolled in Tuesday night, Republican campaign manager Daniella Propati quickly realized two things: Her candidate for the House of Delegates, GayDonna Vandergriff, would lose, and calling their opponent a “socialist” hadn’t worked.

North Richmond and the tony suburbs of Henrico County had once been a dependable backstop for the GOP, a place where statewide candidates found votes to offset Arlington and Alexandria. But the suburbs have undergone a metamorphosis in recent years — growing more socially liberal, more diverse, less interested in the red meat of the tea party and Donald Trump.

“Republicans — we’ve been running campaigns in Virginia the same way for 20 years,” Propati said. “We need to come together and say, ‘What do we need to do next time?’ ”

That’s a question Republicans around the country are wrestling with after Tuesday’s elections revealed new troubles in suburbs from Memphis to Philadelphia. Nowhere has the problem been more pronounced than in Virginia, where Republicans have been all but wiped from power in the past decade.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-virginia-republicans-confront-a-fearful-electoral-future/2019/11/09/2bbdc7aa-026b-11ea-8bab-0fc209e065a8_story.html

The Godfather

After many years I reread it a few weeks back. What a piece of dreck. Coppola really did turn a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
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