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Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 15,680

Journal Archives

Human blueprint breakthrough: Scientists publish 'gapless' human genome

Source: Washington Post

An important detail went largely unnoticed amid the celebrations two decades ago of the mapping of the human genome: The job wasn’t really done. The historic sequencing of the roughly 3 billion letters that represent the blueprint of humans was only about 92 percent complete.

Scientists had done all they could do with the technology of the day, and soon after the turn of the century, they published their final map. But sections of the genome remained mysterious, with repeated letters that ran on and on like a needle skipping on a scratched record album. The mapping of those sections was kicked down the road, to some future era when new technologies would complete the job.

That future has arrived. In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, a massive collaboration of researchers from government, academic and private organizations, called the Telomere-to-Telomere consortium, produced the first full, “gapless” human genome.

“Hallelujah, we finally finished one human genome,” Evan Eichler, a University of Washington geneticist and one of the leaders of the project, said in a news briefing Thursday.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/03/31/human-genome-complete/

Putin's war will destroy Russia

Whatever happens in Ukraine and in the rest of the world, Russia’s fate is sealed: A future as dark as its darkest past

VIENNA, Austria (Project Syndicate)—A grim old Soviet joke probably rings far too true to Ukrainians today. A Frenchman says, “I take the bus to work, but when I travel around Europe, I use my Peugeot.” A Russian replies, “We, too, have a wonderful system of public transportation, but when we go to Europe, we use a tank.”

That joke emerged in 1956, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ordered tanks into Budapest to crush the anti-Soviet Hungarian Revolution, and reappeared in 1968, when Leonid Brezhnev sent tanks to Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring. But in 1989, when Mikhail Gorbachev chose not to send tanks or troops to Germany to preserve the Berlin Wall, the quip seemed set to become a thing of the past.

If Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown us anything, however, it is that we cannot believe the present, and all that matters for Russia’s future is its past.

For Putin, the past that matters most is the one the dissident author and Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exalted: the time when the Slavic peoples were united within the Orthodox Christian kingdom of Kievan Rus’. Kyiv formed its heart, making Ukraine central to Putin’s pan-Slavic vision.

But, for Putin, the Ukraine war is about preserving Russia, not just expanding it. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently made clear, Russia’s leaders believe that their country is locked in a “life-and-death battle to exist on the world’s geopolitical map.” That worldview reflects Putin’s longstanding obsession with works of other Russian emigrant philosophers, such as Ivan Ilyin and Nikolai Berdyaev, who described a struggle for the Eurasian (Russian) soul against the Atlanticists (the West) who would destroy it.


A federal judge said Trump probably committed a crime. The DOJ can't ignore that.

“A coup in search of a legal theory.”

That was the sober, and apt, assessment made this week of former president Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election — not by a partisan or pundit, but in an opinion by a federal judge. And although that ruling, by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, did not decide a criminal case, it ought to presage one.

We don’t know whether the Justice Department has been considering criminal charges against Trump, or whether it will. We do know that Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a speech commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, vowed that the Justice Department was “committed to holding all Jan. 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.”

Carter’s conclusion makes clear that, for the attorney general’s commitment to be met, the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of Jan. 6 must focus closely on Trump.

The court’s ruling came in a lawsuit that one of Trump’s lawyers, John Eastman, brought against the select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Eastman served as the legal architect of Trump’s effort to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count numerous states’ electoral votes on Jan. 6. Eastman asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 146 times at his deposition before the select committee. His lawsuit argued that some of his emails should be kept from the committee because they were shielded by either attorney-client privilege or “work product” privilege, which protects confidential documents prepared for litigation.

The opinion by Carter, a former prosecutor nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton, makes clear Eastman has good reason to worry about criminal consequences. The attorney-client and work-product privileges must give way if they involve communications that further the commission of a fraud or crime. And Carter found that at least one of the emails did just that.


Trump denies calling Putin a 'genius'

With the U.S. public showing a vast disapproval of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of his invasion of Ukraine, former President Donald Trump has sought to explain his glowing appraisal of the Russian leader's moves leading up to the war.

On Wednesday, Trump released a statement in which he parsed the semantics of using the word "genius" when referring to Putin's military strategy.

"The Fake News is also saying I called Putin a 'genius,' when actually, and to be precise, I called his build-up on the Ukraine border before the war started genius because I assumed he would easily be able to negotiate a great deal with Russia," Trump said in the written statement.

Trump, who seems likely to run for president again in 2024, did not explain why he had praised Putin for seeking to leverage the threat of military conflict to undermine Western interests. While conceding that he had misread Putin's intentions, Trump also placed blame with President Biden's administration for how the war started.


Is Ukraine on the Edge of Defeat?

For years I’ve been corresponding with TPM Reader BF. He’s in the national security world, whereas I’m just an outside observer. He’s prone to intense responses to events whereas I’m characterologically more cautious. But this is his field not mine. So in recent days I was struck to see that he thinks I have the Ukraine situation totally wrong and that notwithstanding its battlefield embarrassments and mishaps Putin is on the verge of getting everything he wants and Ukraine is on the verge of what amounts to surrender.

I would start by saying that I don’t see these as my opinions. I think I’m largely following the analyses of people who seem to have the best handle on the situation. But as I told BF in our correspondence I had great difficulty squaring his take with what I was seeing unfold. I bring this up because I wanted to share his take on the situation and share my reply and reaction with you since perhaps others have similar thoughts …

I think you’re missing the key dynamic. Zelensky is negotiating a surrender that will allow Russia to keep Donbas and recognize the seizure of Crimea, while also renouncing any moves toward NATO membership. This is basically a complete capitulation to all Russian demands. Russian troops are pulling back because they’ve won the war despite their horrible operational performance. Zelensky’s public offer is already a complete acceptance of basically all pre-war Russian demands. He’ll likely have to sweeten the pot somehow, meaning that Russia will likely end up with more than they were even asking for pre-war.

And then …

Much of the coverage of the war is treating it like WW2, following the advance and retreat of forces as if that were the decisive factor. It isn’t. People need to think through the logic of war termination. The conflict won’t end when the Russians plant their flag on the presidential residence in Kyiv. It’ll end when the Ukrainians decide the costs in terms of human suffering become too high. And they’ve reached that point, more or less, especially given the lack of serious support from the US/NATO. Zelensky’s opening offer in the current negotiations is basically accepting the core Russian demands. That’s a simple empirical fact. Just compare his position in the negotiations to Russian demands: No NATO membership, check. No foreign troops on Ukrainian soil, check. Accept Russian dominance and possible secession of Donbas following a “referendum,” check. Recognize Russian claims to Crimea, that’s the one thing not made clear. And what is the Russian concession for all of this? Reparations? No. Just an empty “security guarantee” that literally adds nothing to the Budapest Memorandum.

We certainly agree that the issue is not military performance but the basis on which the conflict is concluded. I think Russia has set itself back pretty substantially in many parts of the world since it’s military now looks much less capable than people thought. See recent events in Central Asia and the Caucasus. But for this conflict that’s not the main thing.


Gov. DeSantis vetoes congressional map, calls Florida lawmakers back into session

Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed boundaries drawn for Florida’s 28 congressional districts Tuesday and will call lawmakers back into an April special session to meet his demand to reduce seats seen as likely to elect Black Democrats.

The Republican governor specifically targeted Congressional District 5 as unconstitutional and racially gerrymandered. Stretching from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, it's where voters have elected Black Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson since 2016.

As he has argued for months, DeSantis insists that Florida’s constitutional standard for protecting Black-oriented districts conflict with requirements in the U.S. Constitution and recent federal case law involving redistricting.

He also is hinting that the state's Fair Districts constitutional amendments passed by voters in 2010 and aimed at "prevent(ing) legislators from drawing lines favoring political parties or incumbents," violate federal law and even the U.S. Constitution.

Read more: https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/politics/state/2022/03/29/florida-special-session-coming-desantis-vetoes-congressional-boundaries-redistricting/7204709001/

DeSantis is going hard-core fascist.

Florida AG files suit challenging federal rules on COVID mask wearing for travelers

Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune

TALLAHASSEE — In Florida’s latest salvo against the Biden administration over COVID-19 restrictions, Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging requirements that people wear masks in airports and on planes, trains and buses.

Moody, joined by attorneys general from 20 other states, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tampa. In part, it contends that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has overstepped its legal authority in requiring masks for travelers.

“Faced with a government that displays outright disdain for the limits on its power — especially when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic — plaintiffs seek vacatur of that mask mandate and a permanent injunction against its enforcement,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit was the latest move by Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis — and Republican leaders in other states — to fight Biden administration regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/politics/2022/03/29/florida-sues-over-federal-rules-on-covid-mask-wearing-for-travelers/7205819001/

Attorney General Who Killed a Man Manages to Dodge Impeachment

Source: Daily Beast

Jason Ravnsborg is now not likely to face any consequences after a special investigative committee of the South Dakota House of Representative voted against his impeachment.

More than a year and a half after he ran down and killed a man, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg may be done with facing any consequences.

A special investigative committee of the South Dakota House of Representatives emerged from a closed-door meeting Monday to recommend against impeaching Ravnsborg. It would have been the first impeachment trial in the state’s 133-year history.

According to a 22-page report released early Monday evening, there was not sufficient grounds to remove Ravnsborg from office. A special investigative committee voted 6-2 against recommending impeachment, with six Republicans voting no, and the two Democrats favoring it. Committee chair Spencer Gosch did not vote.

“The Select Committee finds under a clear and convincing standard that Attorney General Ravnsborg did not commit misdemeanor in office, as he committed no crime or other wrongful act involving moral turpitude by virtue or authority of his office,” according to the report.

The full House, which Republicans control 62-8, will convene on April 12 to decide if it will accept the report.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/south-dakota-reps-recommend-jason-ravnsborg-attorney-general-who-killed-joe-boever-not-be-impeached

Looks like killing someone while driving drunk is A-OK with South Dakota Republicans if you're the state's FUCKING ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Judge Demands Trump Org Quit Stalling on Turning Over Evidence

After two years of delays, a court-mandated auditor will now step in and determine just how much evidence the Trump Organization still hasn't turned over to investigators.

After more than two years of the Trump Organization refusing to fully turn over evidence of alleged financial fraud to the New York state attorney general, a court-mandated auditor will now have to provide detailed reports of just how much is left.

On Monday, Judge Arthur F. Engoron ordered a digital forensics company that’s already helping the Trump Organization identify evidence to be much more explicit in its progress reports, so that, in the next few weeks, investigators can finally figure out whether to formally sue the former president’s firm for bank and insurance fraud.

“I don’t just want a little more meat. I want specific information about these searches. I want detailed reports. We're winding down this whole investigation. We want this to end at some point for numerous reasons,” Engoron told lawyers on both sides.

New York AG Letitia James and her investigators have been locked in a fierce legal battle with the Trump Organization. Former President Donald Trump’s son, Eric, refused to testify until the judge intervened—only to have the executive plead the Fifth nearly 500 times. The company refused to turn over most records until last September, when the judge again intervened to force compliance.


Inside Ted Cruz's last-ditch battle to keep Trump in power

The Texas senator’s effort alienated some allies and sparked questions about ties to John Eastman, a longtime friend and author of key legal memos in Trump’s efforts.

Sen. Ted Cruz was dining near the Capitol on the evening of Dec. 8, 2020, when he received an urgent call from President Donald Trump. A lawsuit had just been filed at the Supreme Court designed to overturn the election Trump had lost, and the president wanted help from the Texas Republican.

“Would you be willing to argue the case?” Trump asked Cruz, as the senator later recalled it.

“Sure, I’d be happy to” if the court granted a hearing, Cruz said he responded.

The call was just one step in a collaboration that for two months turned the once-bitter political enemies into close allies in the effort to keep Trump in the White House based on the president’s false claims about a stolen election. By Cruz’s own account, he was “leading the charge” to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as president.

An examination by The Washington Post of Cruz’s actions between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, shows just how deeply he was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power. As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.


Lock up that piece of shit! And lock up Trump, too!
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