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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 1, 2021

Hillsborough judge notes 'total depravity' as she orders man detained in McKay Bay murder

Robert Kessler, accused of killing and dismembering his housemate, will remain jailed without bail.

TAMPA — The Lutz man accused of murdering and dismembering a woman and tossing her body parts off the 22nd Street Bridge into McKay Bay will remain jailed without bail, a judge ruled Wednesday.

After hearing two hours of lurid testimony from a homicide detective, Judge Catherine Catlin concluded there were no release conditions she could impose on Robert Kessler that would ensure the community’s safety.

“The total depravity that is evident in this crime leads me to believe there is a risk of harm to community,” the judge said.

Kessler, 69, did not attend the hearing. His attorneys waived his presence. He is accused of second-degree murder and abuse of a dead human body in the death of Stephanie Crone-Overholts.

December 1, 2021

Majority of vaccine exemption requests denied by Marine Corps as mandate deadline passes

Service says 95 percent of active-duty Marines have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; those not in compliance will be let go

Thousands of active-duty Marines remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday, one day after the service’s Nov. 28 deadline, the Corps said in a statement. Most of them will soon find themselves booted from the military under the Marines’ current vaccine policy.

The service did not specify how many Marines haven’t received the vaccine but said 95 percent of its active-duty members have received at least one dose. The Corps lags the other military branches in vaccine compliance rate, according to data from the Pentagon.

Gen. David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, thanked the military medical personnel who worked to get the majority of the force vaccinated.

“I have great appreciation for all those who made these vaccinations possible, including the civilian and Navy medical personnel who worked tirelessly over the past months to protect our Marines and families,” Berger said in a statement.

December 1, 2021

The Big MAGA and QAnon Civil War Keeps Getting Nuttier and Sleazier

Lin Wood and Michael Flynn’s falling out has turned into a circular MAGA firing squad.

The big MAGA civil war between Trump-loving attorney Lin Wood and former national security adviser Michael Flynn went nuclear this week and it’s causing chaos among the former president’s acolytes.

As Fever Dreams previously reported, Wood has been scrambling to retain credibility on the right ever since Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse slammed him as a shoddy lawyer and accused him of betrayal and grift. He’s also been attacking fellow stop-the-steal figures like Kraken-queen Sidney Powell and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. For example, Wood—who has a penchant for taping his friends as well as his enemies—released audio of Byrne trash-talking Powell, claiming that she wanted to sleep with him and that she spread lies about him after he rejected her. “There has been a good amount of infighting and backstabbing recently, stuff that amounts to very high-school-style drama,” explains Fever Dreams co-host Will Sommer.

But things really escalated when Wood released audio of Flynn—“his erstwhile buddy and fellow QAnon hero”—ripping into the pro-Trump conspiracy theory as a CIA-backed plot. This, despite the fact that “QAnon’s been very good to Michael Flynn,” Sommer notes. “Some of them believe he’s Q… I mean this is a guy who is thick as thieves with QAnon. But privately, [he calls it] a ‘CIA operation. It’s nonsense.’ So this is a pretty big break from what he does publicly.”

As a result, pro- and anti-Flynn factions inside QAnon have been ripping into each other on Telegram and other right-wing social media platforms. “This has basically started a big civil war… including, I should say, the JFK Jr. people in Dallas. So they’ve all sided with Lin. Michael Flynn, obviously, has his own adherents—but this has really, like, started a lot of drama,” Sommer says.


Here's hoping they take each other out.
December 1, 2021

Dark-Money Group Paid Former Trump AG to Ask for Pardons--and He Never Registered as a Lobbyist

Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker left the Trump administration and almost immediately started asking for presidential pardons—without registering as a lobbyist.

In Donald Trump’s final months in office, lobbyists swarmed the White House in hopes of securing pardons for their clients. It was a cash bonanza for Beltway insiders aspiring to bend the aggrieved president’s ear, as disclosures required by federal law later revealed.

But one person stands out among that crowd, both for his former role in the Trump administration and for the fact that he never registered as a lobbyist—even though he was being paid $400,000 by a conservative “dark money” group that had tapped him to lead its efforts to secure pardons and commutations.

Matthew Whitaker held senior roles in Trump’s Justice Department from September 2017 to February 2019, finishing off his DOJ tenure with a three-month stint as the acting attorney general. And when he finally departed the administration, he found quite the cushy gig: chairing a new project for the right-wing nonprofit FreedomWorks.

The group brought Whitaker on in March 2020 to head up its new “American Freedom Initiative,” which FreedomWorks claimed “aims to recommend deserving individuals to the Trump administration for pardons and commutations.” A previously unreported federal filing from FreedomWorks, which does not have to disclose its donors, shows that the organization paid Whitaker $400,000 last year in unspecified “consulting” fees.


Guess it's just too much to ask a Republican former acting Attorney General to follow the law.
December 1, 2021

Is McConnell going soft on the debt limit? There's a lesson here for Democrats.

Within the next few weeks, we could face a default on America’s debts, triggering an economic crisis with global implications. But whether that comes to pass is in the hands of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — and he seems to be hesitating on pushing us to the brink.

“Let me assure everyone, the government will not default, as it never has,” McConnell said Tuesday.

Republicans itching to force a fiscal catastrophe to blame on President Biden might say McConnell is going wobbly. Indeed, in a statement, Donald Trump raged that McConnell is getting “beaten” by “Radical Left Democrats.”

But if McConnell is indeed going wobbly, there may be a lesson here for Democrats in how to exert future leverage against him.


November 30, 2021

Small children are climbing 60-foot trees to harvest your acai

CURRALINHO, Brazil — The sun had barely risen, but José Armando Matos de Lima, 11, was already on the job. As his sisters slept in their hammocks, the boy fired up the family’s longboat, headed upstream and collected the order of the day: 15 buckets — more than 450 pounds — of açaí.

He was dreading the task ahead. The day was shaping up to be another scorcher. The jungle was full of scorpions, one of which had bit his hand months before. A girl across the river had been hospitalized after a recent fall while harvesting the fruit. But he was the best climber his family had. Açaí was their primary source of income. And this was his life: Toiling on the bottom rung of an industry that connects some of Brazil’s poorest people to America’s health-absorbed elite.

“Let’s go,” José said.

A brooding child with a shy smile, he tucked a serrated blade into his ripped shorts and headed out to perform what researchers and labor officials describe as one of the most dangerous jobs in Brazil, the world’s principal producer of açaí. At harvest time, tens of thousands of Brazilians, equipped with nothing more than knives and swatches of burlap to protect their bare feet, climb the wild açaí palm trees every day, ascending without harnesses to heights that can top 65 feet.

Because the tree’s trunk is tall and thin, and because the weight of an adult can snap it, often those who make the climb are children. It’s unknown how many assume the deadly risk; the government has never counted. But researchers agree the practice is widespread among the estimated 120,000 families who work the harvest.


November 30, 2021

Looking for stocking stuffers this holiday?

Hanayama puzzles are relatively cheap, frustrating, satisfying, and addictive. Lots of them on Amazon for less than $10.

November 30, 2021

Elon Musk reportedly warned that SpaceX faces the 'risk of bankruptcy' from lack of Starship engine

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the company's Raptor program is in "crisis" and poses a major threat to the entire space venture.

Musk said he is upset with the lack of progress on the Raptor engines that power its Starship rocket in a company-wide email that was sent out the day after Thanksgiving and later obtained by CNBC's Michael Sheetz. The news was first reported by Space Explored.

"We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year," Musk said, according to CNBC's report.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment from Insider. But, Musk has faced the very real possibility of bankruptcy in the past. The CEO has said his other business venture, Tesla, was only a month away from bankruptcy when it was ramping up production of the Model 3 between 2017 and 2019.

While SpaceX is currently the second-most valuable private company in the world, the success of Raptor engine production represents a crucial part of the future of the company, including Musk's plan to populate Mars. SpaceX is developing Starship, a massive next-generation spaceship, as a means to launch people and cargo to Mars and the moon. To date, the company has only tested out the rocket on short test flights at its facility in Texas, as Starship will need as many as 39 Raptor engines to power it for orbital launches.


Well, Elon, it is rocket science, you know...

November 29, 2021

How Rep. Nancy Mace's two-facedness enables GOP covid madness

As long as there have been politicians, they have tailored their messages to the audience in front of them: Assure the rich donors that their wealth will be protected, tell the regular folk that they’ll fight the power, convince the Society of Left-Handed Haberdashers that they’re passionate about the issue of tariffs on imported felt.

But Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) set some kind of speed record for two-facedness on Sunday. First she went on Fox News to belittle vaccinations and tout “natural immunity” as the better alternative — i.e., getting a disease that has already killed nearly 800,000 Americans — and then on the same day she went on CNN to say “I have been a proponent of vaccinations.”

It might seem inconsequential, the kind of thing that makes people cynical about politicians. But it’s a perfect example of how even Republican officials who are considered the sensible ones — as Mace is — play a game that maintains their legitimacy while allowing dangerous lunacy to flourish in their party.

Here’s how it works:

1. Supposedly sane Republicans like Mace appear on mainstream media to deliver an “I support vaccines, but…” message meant to sound reasonable even as it attacks mandates, vilifies public health officials and blames any covid-related problem on President Biden.

2. More conservative Republican officials promote and amplify every loony pandemic-related idea that bubbles up through the far-right fever swamps.

3. Conservative media work tirelessly to keep the issue politicized and discourage people from getting vaccinated, prolonging the pandemic.

The role of politicians like Mace is to maintain the idea that when having discussions about the pandemic we should continue to treat Republicans as legitimate interlocutors who have something worthwhile to contribute, rather than as representatives of a party that is actively working to undermine our ability to defeat the pandemic.

November 29, 2021

Powerful Variant of Stupidity Identified in Texas

TEXAS (The Borowitz Report)—What is being called a “troubling variant of stupidity” has been identified in Texas, Dr. Anthony Fauci has confirmed.

Although the powerful variant of stupidity is not new, it has recently displayed alarming virulence, the esteemed physician said.

“What’s concerning about this variant is that it appears to have developed immunity to all information,” Fauci said. “Of the many mutations of stupidity found in Texas, this one stands out.”

The immunologist urged that steps be taken to prevent this variant of stupidity from spreading. “We know that it has travelled as far as Cancun,” Fauci said.


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