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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 76,330

Journal Archives

St. Clair County siblings charged with entering U.S. Capitol during Jan. 6 riot

(Detroit Metro Times) Siblings from St. Clair County face up to 10 years in prison after they were charged with storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Deborah Kuecken, 67, of Ira Township and Gary Smith, 71, of Casco Township are among 19 Michigan residents to be charged so far in connection with the insurrection.

The FBI began investigating the brother and sister in June 2021 after receiving a tip, the bureau said in its statement of facts.

Photos and videos show Kuecken and Casco inside and outside the U.S. Capitol on the day of the riot.

A federal search warrant of cell phone records showed that they utilized a tower servicing the inside of the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection. ..............(more)


How a Royal Visit Helped Weaken the Crown's Grip on the Caribbean

(The Nation) On Tuesday, March 15, six months before the death of Queen Elizabeth II would reignite a conversation about the British crown’s colonial legacy, the chairman of Indian Creek, an Indigenous Maya village in southern Belize, received a call. A police officer told Sebastian Shol, the chairman, that the village would have to cut down the trees bordering a soccer field in the next few days, because a helicopter would be landing there. Despite being pressed by Shol, the officer refused to give any other information.

The next day, Shol received a call from a woman representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She apologized for not providing information sooner and told him that the visitors would be Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, who would be traveling to Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas the following week to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee, marking her 70 years on the throne.

Although all three countries fought for their independence from the crown, they have not become republics like Barbados, Guyana, or Trinidad and Tobago; instead they remain, along with the majority of countries in the Caribbean, part of the British Commonwealth, with the British monarch as the head of state. Each country has a British High Commission in its capital and a governor-general who represents the monarch in “overseas territories” as a government executive.

Shol convened an emergency meeting during which the villagers decided to stage a protest. Their biggest concerns, he told me during a phone interview, were the fact that they were not consulted before the visit, the requirement that the villagers would have to stay 200 meters away from the royal couple at all times, and an ongoing land dispute with Flora Fauna International, a charity with connections to the royal family. Last year, 12,800 acres in Indian Creek were sold to FFI, but, according to the association of Maya villages in the region, the land—which includes the village school, the community center, and a couple hundred homes—was sold illegally.

On March 18, the day before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were set to arrive, dozens of people gathered at the soccer field carrying signs that read “Not Your Land / Not Your Decision,” “Prince William Leave Our Land,” and “Indian Creek Say No to FFI / Keep Out.” Not long after, the government of Belize told the Daily Mail that, because of “issues,” the visit to Indian Creek had been canceled and the royal couple would visit another village instead. A spokesperson from Kensington Palace confirmed the cancellation to the newspaper. ...................(more)


"They cannot survive without fear": A heretic on leaving the evangelical church

"They cannot survive without fear": A heretic on leaving the evangelical church
In "Heretic," Jeanna Kadlec writes of the hard but necessary journey of escaping fundamentalist Christianity

Senior Writer

(Salon) "Iwas leaving the Garden, the evangelical church, and the only version of myself that I had ever known. I was choosing who I wanted to be — but I had no idea who she was."

In her new book, "Heretic," writer and self-declared "recovering academic" Jeanna Kadlec weaves her personal experiences walking away from the faith of her youth with a larger meditation on the larger social and political damage wrought on the U.S. by the popularity of evangelical Christianity. In an era when the hardcore Christian set's hunger for power leads them to back faux-repentant sleazes like Donald Trump and Herschel Walker, that's an even greater need for her insights about how this religion wields so much control over its followers.

Why do people, especially women, stay in a religion that's so abusive? What does it take to leave? Kadlec can't answer those questions for everyone, but as someone who was fully immersed into young adulthood, only to escape after she discovered her lesbian identity while married a preacher's kid, there's much to be learned from her journey.


In recent years, the percentage of Americans affiliated with a church has declined dramatically. It's almost exclusively due to people leaving evangelical churches when they grow up. So why do you think this is happening? And what do you think the impacts of that are?

The evangelical Church of the past few decades lost a lot of the flexibility that it had cultivated earlier in the century. It refused to evolve and reconsider the humanity of other people in ways that other parts of Christianity did, in light of the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement. In buckling down, and then really getting into bed with far right politicians, they accumulated a lot of power. They were able to do things like introduce abstinence-only education into public schools. They seemed to be very successful in trying to institute their own religious values into the mainstream.

Eventually, those kids that they were raising grew up. We had grown up in this really stringent environment that had no flexibility. And we had specifically grown up increasingly in churches that demanded an absolutely extraordinary amount of cognitive dissonance. Many of us, we're going to public school, we are exposed to different ways of living, we're exposed to people who have different ideas about how the world should be. We see that ideas like purity, no sex before marriage, the Rapture — all of these really extreme tenets — are not necessary in order to be a good person. For so many evangelicals who grow up and leave the church, we can't bear the cognitive dissonance anymore. ..............(more)


Michigan Dem candidates rally with former President Obama

Michigan GOP candidate Tudor Dixon wants a new book ban: No divorced characters

(Salon) With so many radical Republicans running for office across the country, there's been relatively little coverage of Tudor Dixon, the Trump-endorsed Republican nominee for governor in Michigan, who's running against incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. But Dixon, whose name admittedly should belong to the socialite villainess of a Harlequin romance novel, is definitely one to watch in the "how far-right can Republicans get" sweepstakes that is midterm-watching. She has described working women as having "lonely lives," declared a 14-year-old incest victim to be a "perfect" candidate for forced childbirth, and, unsurprisingly, backs Trump's Big Lie. During her debate with Whitmer on Tuesday night, Dixon accused Michigan schools of distributing "pornographic" books.

Naturally, Dixon's idea of what constitutes pornography was lurid but entirely vague, such as "books describing how to have sex." Which could mean anything from actual sex education books to books that simply have sex scenes, a category that encompasses classics like "Romeo and Juliet" and also the Bible. (Neither of which are pornography, a commodity readily available on the internet should Dixon desire to grasp the distinctions.) Whitmer responded by noting that there are many opportunities for parents to be involved in children's education, but also that there's a "duty to make sure that all children feel accepted and safe and can learn and play when they are in school."

So there was plenty of vagueness all around, but a Democratic PAC called American Bridge 21st Century dug up an audio clip demonstrating how expansive Dixon's views are when it comes to controlling what students are allowed to read. In it, she proposes that books featuring divorced characters are just too spicy for most kids.


Dixon complained that her daughter had checked out a book "about having two different homes" and how the very idea of divorce "caused an unnecessary anxiety." ..........(more)


The 3 biggest lies Republicans use to avoid admitting they plan to ban abortion

The 3 biggest lies Republicans use to avoid admitting they plan to ban abortion
Republicans pretend they're "pro-choice" by giving the choice to Republican state legislators, not pregnant people

Senior Writer

(Salon) For decades now, Republicans have been running on an anti-abortion platform. Much to the dismay of feminists, it seems to have done little to discourage voters from turning out for them. It's no wonder, then, that Republicans began to believe that voters either agreed with their anti-choice views or weren't really bothered by them. Then, in June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, opening the door to a stampede of Republican-controlled state legislatures banning abortion. The result was a widespread backlash that made it quite clear that no, actually, the public does not support abortion bans. Instead, it seems that voters had spent years dismissing Republican anti-choice views as empty gestures to placate the religious right, not action plans. (The idea that right wing radicalism is "just talk" strikes again!)

Now the public understands Republicans are dead serious about banning abortion. Abortion has been totally banned in 13 states and banned at six weeks — which may as well be a total ban — in Georgia. Multiple other states have banned second trimester abortions, putting patients who don't discover fetal anomalies until that stage in crisis. Experts believe that soon abortion will be banned in half the states.

For their political prospects, however, Republican politicians would very much like to return to the before times, when voters believed all this "pro-life" talk was meaningless noise, not a concrete plan to dismantle reproductive rights. The rhetoric deployed to prop up this illusion has gone well beyond the typical verbal embroidery politicians employ. Instead, it can be characterized as outright dishonesty meant to trick voters into giving up their own rights. Here's the three biggest talking points Republican politicians are using to distract from their true views on abortion access, and why folks should not fall for them.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the GOP candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, falsely claimed Tuesday that his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman would "allow abortion at 38 weeks, on the delivery table." Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accused his opponent, of supporting abortion "until the moment of birth." Donald Trump takes it to the next level, routinely claiming women go through the entire birth process just so the doctor can "execute" the baby in the delivery room. .............(more)


Georgia's early voting turnout so far is Blacker, older than recent general elections

After one full week of in-person early voting in Georgia, nearly 838,000 people have already cast their ballots in an election that is expected to shatter midterm records.

According to an analysis of absentee data from the secretary of state's office, turnout is nearly 60% higher than the same point in time in the 2018 general election, thanks in part to record voter interest and the increasing shift in voters utilizing the state's three-week early voting period.

Looking at the demographics of Georgia's voters so far, the electorate is older and Blacker than this time in previous elections, as tightly contested races for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide offices is driving voter enthusiasm.

Georgia does not have party registration, but voter data from the 2022 spring primary shows that around 34% of early voters so far participated in the Republican primary, 32% in the Democratic primary and the rest did not vote in that election. It is unwise to read too much into those numbers: Some Democrats crossed over to vote against candidates backed by former President Donald Trump in that primary, while the Democratic Party's did not have as many high-profile matchups — and, of course, people change their mind about who they support. ........(more)


Brazil election: bellwether state could have future of democracy in its hands

(Guardian UK) Armed with red paint brushes and a bucket of glue, the activists marched through the streets of Parrot Hill pasting urgent warnings on to the walls of what has become the frontline in the fight for Brazil’s future.

“Bolsonaro hates the poor,” read one poster. “Bolsonaro speaks nothing but lies. He’s the father of falsehoods,” declared another, asking residents of one of Belo Horizonte’s largest favelas: “Are you really going to vote for him?”

Nil César, one of the fly-posting campaigners, said the president’s contempt for the poor and dramatic loosening of gun laws meant their pre-election operation was quite literally a matter of life or death for the community’s disenfranchised youth.

“I fear this will end in bloodshed … and the problem is that the blood will be black, favela blood,” the 46-year-old activist said as his team plastered Parrot Hill’s redbrick homes with their notices. “We are trying to ensure our survival.”

Belo Horizonte is the capital of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second most populous and fourth largest state. And as the South American country prepares to hold its most important election in decades on Sunday, the south-eastern region has become ground zero for the scrap between the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and his leftist challenger, the ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. ..............(more)


DC/MD/VA: Silver Line service between Reston and Ashburn can start before Thanksgiving, Metro says

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials now say they have the capacity to launch the 11.4-mile, $3 billion extension of the Silver Line before Thanksgiving.

The news came late Tuesday afternoon, just minutes after the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, Metro's safety oversight agency, announced it had approved the latest version of Metro’s “Return to Service Plan” to bring back more of its 7000-series railcars after an October 2021 derailment, as long as Metro provides frequent inspections and data supporting the railcars' safety.

“With this approval and close collaboration on the Silver Line extension safety report, Metro will be able to set an opening date in the near future,” Randy Clarke, Metro’s CEO and general manager, said in a statement. “I want to thank the Safety Commission for their collaboration on reaching this important safety milestone, so we have a clear path forward.”

The news has significant implications for passengers who are looking to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, as phase two of the Silver Line includes a new station at Dulles International Airport. Right now, D.C. travelers can Metro as far as Wiehle-Reston East, but then need a car or bus to catch the final leg to Dulles. ............(more)


Proud Boys protests over drag performers are turning violent -- and now they're targeting kids

Proud Boys protests over drag performers are turning violent — and now they're targeting kids
In the name of "protecting" children, homophobic protesters doxxed and attacked an 11-year-old for playing dress-up

Senior Writer

(Salon) It was just a matter of time before the anti-LGBTQ protests got violent. For months now, egged on by Republican leaders like Gov. Ron "Don't Say Gay" DeSantis of Florida, far-right groups have been mounting increasingly aggressive anti-queer protests under the guise of "protecting" children. By framing any expression of LGBTQ identity that occurs around kids as "sexualizing" children, groups like the Proud Boys have spent months targeting family-friendly Pride events and child-oriented events where drag performers read to kids from storybooks. Even though these events are deliberately sanitized and intended only to amuse children and adults by playing dress-up, lurid claims of "grooming" and pedophilia are being leveraged to send protesters into a frenzy. In some places, protesters are showing up with guns, threatening violence around the children they claim to be "protecting."

Unsurprisingly, then, one protest in Eugene, Oregon got violent this week. Worse, the queerphobic protesters have focused their ire on an 11-year-old child, doxxing her and putting her in danger, all while claiming to do it for her own good.

Sunday morning, a restaurant called Old Nick's Pub hosted a Drag Queen Story Time Brunch. The pub, like many across the country, hosts a mix of events that are sometimes family-friendly and sometimes not. Like the pub's other family-oriented events, such as their Saturday morning pancake party, Drag Queen Story Time is a kiddie event, where drag queens and little kids bask in their shared love of flashy clothes and acting goofy. Indeed, one of the performers is an 11-year-old drag enthusiast-turned-performer who has regularly turned out to entertain the other kids.

Far-right activists seized on the existence of this child as "proof" of their false claims that drag is an elaborate cover for more sinister activities. One woman, going by the name "Honey Badger Mom" on Twitter, posted pictures of the child and made hay out of the fact that, at night on different days, the pub hosts events that are more adult in nature. ..........(more)


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