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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,736

Journal Archives

DeSantis signs bill allowing concealed carry at churches that share land with schools

In a win for gun-rights supporters, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a bill that will let people with concealed-weapons licenses carry firearms at churches or other religious institutions that share properties with schools.

The measure (HB 259) was one of 94 bills DeSantis signed Tuesday, according to a late-night announcement from his office.

Florida law has generally allowed people to carry concealed weapons at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions, but it bars being armed on school properties. That has led to people being prevented from carrying guns on properties shared by religious institutions and schools.

The bill signed Tuesday will change that, and was approved during the spring legislative session in a 76-37 vote in the House and a 24-16 vote in the Senate.


Another example of Republicans forcing their perverse fetish on the rest of us. How long will it be before a churchgoer leaves his gun at a school to be found during class the next day?

Trump's Sarasota rally still on despite report DeSantis wants it canceled due to Surfside

Former President Donald Trump's Sarasota rally scheduled for Saturday is moving forward despite a report that Gov. Ron DeSantis' office asked for the event to be postponed while the governor responds to the mass casualty event in Surfside.

A report published Wednesday in the conservative Washington Examiner says the governor's office made a "direct plea" to Trump's team to cancel the rally, with the report citing unnamed sources.

But Florida GOP Executive Director Helen Aguirre Ferré, who previously served as the governor's communications director, said the rally is going forward as planned.

“We’re excited about the rally," Ferré said. "We welcome the president and the rally is about celebrating the founding of our great nation, Fourth of July. Florida is an open state and we’re ready to celebrate.”


The country is on fire, and the biggest obstacle to action is the GOP

In the Pacific Northwest, where high temperatures this time of year are usually in the 70s, residents who never had much need for air conditioning are suffering through an almost apocalyptic heat wave: On Monday it reached 107 in Seattle, 115 in Portland, Ore., and 117 in Salem, Ore.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., members of both parties came together to hammer out a bipartisan infrastructure deal. But to get Republicans to agree to it, President Biden and the Democrats had to set aside almost everything they have proposed to do about climate change.

That’s about as clear a summation of American climate politics in 2021 as you could ask for: the effects of climate change becoming more vivid all the time, Democrats eager to move aggressively on the crisis, and the Republican Party working hard to make sure the federal government does as little as possible.

That isn’t to say that the politics are simple. Not every Republican is a deranged climate denier bringing snowballs to the Senate floor to try to prove that climate change is a hoax. The GOP has a diversity of opinion on climate. But while some individual Republicans want to do something, they butt up against a party consensus that emphatically rejects meaningful action, and incentives that push ambitious members of their party toward the most retrograde positions.


The War on History Is a War on Democracy

A scholar of totalitarianism argues that new laws restricting the discussion of race in American schools have dire precedents in Europe.

In March 1932, the cover of Fortune magazine featured a painting of Red Square by Diego Rivera. A numberless crowd of faceless men marched with red banners, surrounding a locomotive engine emblazoned with hammer and sickle. This was the image of communist modernization the Soviets wished to transmit during Stalin’s first five-year plan: The achievement was impersonal, technical, unquestionable. The Soviet Union was transforming itself from an agrarian backwater into an industrial power through sheer disciplined understanding of the objective realities of history. Its citizens celebrated the revolution, as Rivera’s painting suggested, even as it molded them into a new kind of people.

But by March 1932, hundreds of thousands of people were already starving to death in Soviet Ukraine, the breadbasket of the country. Rapid industrialization was financed by destroying traditional agrarian life. The five-year plan had brought “dekulakization,” the deportation of peasants deemed more prosperous than others, and “collectivization,” the appropriation of agrarian land by the state. A result was mass famine: first in Kazakhstan, then in southern Russia and especially in Soviet Ukraine. Soviet leaders were aware in 1932 of what was happening but insisted on requisitions in Ukraine anyway. Grain that people needed to survive was forcibly confiscated and exported. The writer Arthur Koestler, who was living in Soviet Ukraine at the time, recalled propaganda that presented the starving as provocateurs who preferred to see their own bellies bloat rather than accept Soviet achievement.

Ukraine was the most important Soviet republic beyond Russia, and Stalin understood it as wayward and disloyal. When the collectivization of agriculture in Ukraine failed to produce the yields that Stalin expected, his response was to blame local party authorities, the Ukrainian people and foreign spies. As foodstuffs were extracted amid famine, it was chiefly Ukrainians who suffered and died — some 3.9 million people in the republic, by the best reckoning, well over 10 percent of the total population. In communications with trusted comrades, Stalin did not conceal that he was directing specific policies against Ukraine. Inhabitants of the republic were banned from leaving it; peasants were prevented from going to the cities to beg; communities that failed to make grain targets were cut off from the rest of the economy; families were deprived of their livestock. Above all, grain from Ukraine was ruthlessly seized, well beyond anything reason could command. Even the seed corn was confiscated.

The Soviet Union took drastic action to ensure that these events went unnoticed. Foreign journalists were banned from Ukraine. The one person who did report on the famine in English under his own byline, the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, was later murdered. The Moscow correspondent of The New York Times, Walter Duranty, explained away the famine as the price of progress. Tens of thousands of hunger refugees made it across the border to Poland, but Polish authorities chose not to publicize their plight: A treaty with the U.S.S.R. was under negotiation. In Moscow, the disaster was presented, at the 1934 party congress, as a triumphant second revolution. Deaths were recategorized from “starvation” to “exhaustion.” When the next census counted millions fewer people than expected, the statisticians were executed. Inhabitants of other republics, meanwhile, mostly Russians, moved into Ukrainians’ abandoned houses. As beneficiaries of the calamity, they were not interested in its sources.


Tigray Rebels in Ethiopia Retake Regional Capital: Live Updates

Source: New York Times

The rebels are consolidating their hold on the capital, Mekelle, and its outskirts after Ethiopian government forces retreated, in a dramatic turn in the eight-month civil war.

Eight months after Ethiopia’s Army attacked the northern region of Tigray, the civil war has taken a major turn: Tigrayan fighters, now on the offensive, began consolidating control of the regional capital on Tuesday.

Having marched through the night, a column of Tigrayan reinforcements reached the regional capital, Mekelle, just after dawn and were received with a wave of relief and euphoria.

Residents filed from their homes, chanting and cheering, as the fighters walked through the streets — just a dozen in this early group, led by a woman in camouflage, carrying an AK-47 and waving the region’s flag.

“The Woyane have won,” cried jubilant young men who jogged alongside the group, using a term for revolutionaries.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/06/29/world/tigray-ethiopia

The Right Goes All In on Ignorance

As everyone knows, leftists hate America’s military. Recently, a prominent left-wing media figure attacked Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declaring, “He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid.”

Oh, wait. That was no leftist, that was Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. What set Carlson off was testimony in which Milley told a congressional hearing that he considered it important “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and widely read.”

The problem is obvious. Closed-mindedness and ignorance have become core conservative values, and those who reject these values are the enemy, no matter what they may have done to serve the country.

The Milley hearing was part of the orchestrated furor over “critical race theory,” which has dominated right-wing media for the past few months, getting close to 2,000 mentions on Fox so far this year. One often sees assertions that those attacking critical race theory have no idea what it’s about, but I disagree; they understand that it has something to do with assertions that America has a history of racism and of policies that explicitly or implicitly widened racial disparities.


An Unlikely Heroine Steps in to Save Crumbling Dolphin Tower

Ten years ago a Sarasota condo tower began to show serious signs of potential collapse.

By the time you’re reading this, Charlotte Ryan, a retired psychotherapist from New Jersey, will have accomplished what Sisyphus never did. She’ll have pushed her great rock to the very top of the mountain and crawled out from under her burden at last.

The petite, smartly dressed Ryan will have taken the elevator up to her 10th-floor downtown bayfront condo in Sarasota’s Dolphin Tower, let herself in and locked the door behind her. For the first time in five years, she will not have been wearing a protective hard hat.

It will have been quiet in her two-bedroom, two-bath condo, no workmen tramping through her rooms, no noisy hammering and whining construction machinery, no calls from lawyers and reporters. She’ll have reflected on the heartbreak and losses of Dolphin Tower owners who could not complete the journey with her and remembered the engineers, investors, laborers, families and city officials who followed her stubborn lead for years. And, she has predicted, she will have looked out at the sailboats in the harbor by Marina Jack, at the azure view of the bay—perhaps the very best in the city—she fought so hard to see once again, and taken a long, deep breath. Then she’ll have started to cry.

“It will be some kind of awesome feeling,” Ryan said in June, soon after the end of the building’s repair work. “It will be a feeling of, ‘How did I do this?’”


This story is now a few years old, but I think it points out issues that many Florida condo owners -- especially those close to the water -- will need to confront in the near future.

The Cruel Logic of the Republican Party, Before and After Trump

Donald Trump has claimed credit for any number of things he benefited from but did not create, and the Republican Party’s reigning ideology is one of them: a politics of cruelty and exclusion that strategically exploits vulnerable Americans by portraying them as an existential threat, against whom acts of barbarism and disenfranchisement become not only justified but worthy of celebration. This approach has a long history in American politics. The most consistent threat to our democracy has always been the drive of some leaders to restrict its blessings to a select few.

This is why Joe Biden beat Mr. Trump but has not vanquished Trumpism. Mr. Trump’s main innovation was showing Republicans how much they could get away with, from shattering migrant families and banning Muslim travelers to valorizing war crimes and denigrating African, Latino and Caribbean immigrants as being from “shithole countries.” Republicans have responded with zeal, even in the aftermath of his loss, with Republican-controlled legislatures targeting constituencies they identify either with Democrats or with the rapid cultural change that conservatives hope to arrest. The most significant for democracy, however, are the election laws designed to insulate Republican power from a diverse American majority that Republicans fear no longer supports them. The focus on Mr. Trump’s — admittedly shocking — idiosyncrasies has obscured the broader logic of this strategy.

After more than a decade in which Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton provided fruitful targets for an audience fearful of cultural change, conservative media has struggled to turn the older white president who goes to Mass every Sunday into a compelling villain. Yet the apocalypse remains nigh, threatened by the presence of those Americans they consider unworthy of the name.

On Fox News, hosts warn that Democrats want to “replace the current electorate” with “more obedient voters from the third world.” In outlets like National Review, columnists justify disenfranchisement of liberal constituencies on the grounds that “it would be far better if the franchise were not exercised by ignorant, civics-illiterate people.” Trumpist redoubts like the Claremont Institute publish hysterical jeremiads warning that “most people living in the United States today — certainly more than half — are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term.”


The Mentalist

The entire series is available to stream for free on Amazon Prime, for those who may have missed the original broadcasts.

Simon Baker is quite a clever and charming character as Patrick Jane, and there's great chemistry between him and Robin Tunney.

Any other fans out there?

VW to end sales of combustion engines in Europe by 2035

Source: Reuters

German carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) will stop selling combustion engines cars in Europe by 2035 as it shifts to electric vehicles, but later in the United States and China, a board member was quoted as saying on Saturday.

"In Europe, we will exit the business with internal combustion vehicles between 2033 and 2035, in the United States and China somewhat later," Klaus Zellmer, Volkswagen board member for sales, told the Muenchner Merkur newspaper.

"In South America and Africa, it will take a good deal longer due to the fact that the political and infrastructure framework conditions are still missing."

By 2050 at the latest, the entire Volkswagen fleet should be CO2-neutral, Zellmer told the newspaper.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/vw-end-sales-combustion-engines-europe-by-2035-2021-06-26/

Big oil may still remain a major player in the upcoming decades, but it seems to me that their role and influence on government policies and foreign relationships will be diminished.
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