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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

Robert Reich: Maybe US mainstream media should begin using the term 'fascism'

Maybe US mainstream media should begin using the term ‘fascism’
Robert Reich

My tweet about Ron DeSantis provoked outrage in rightwing media – perhaps it hit the nerve of the fascism now taking root in the Republican party?

(Guardian UK) I’ve been watching the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, for some time. Last Tuesday I tweeted: “Just wondering if ‘DeSantis’ is now officially a synonym for ‘fascist’.”

I was surprised at the outrage my little tweet provoked in rightwing media.

The Washington Examiner, for example, called me an “ultra-leftwing elitist” who wrote an “insulting slur”, which is “what leftwing ideologues do when they discuss Republican politicians who pose any threat to the existence of their political ideology … Anyone the Democrats don’t like or disagree with is a fascist.”

This was among the kindest responses.

After a half-century in and around politics, I’ve got a thick skin. But the size of the blowback on my little tweet makes me think I struck a nerve.

DeSantis is the most likely rival to Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024. The Harvard and Yale educated DeSantis (what do they teach at Harvard and Yale?) has been called “Trump with a brain”. ..............(more)


Bedrock, USA: An Election Day Reckoning in Shasta County

Bedrock, USA: An Election Day Reckoning in Shasta County
The podcast follows the action on election day as far-right activists back candidates for school superintendent, county clerk and sheriff.

ByLaura Bliss
August 31, 2022 at 5:00 AM EDT

(Bloomberg CityLab) Election day had arrived once again in Shasta County, California. Did voters want more far-right leaders?

Many of the same activists who led the recall of Republican county supervisor Leonard Moty were now backing candidates for additional county positions in the June 2022 primary, including school superintendent, county clerk and sheriff — as well as two open seats on the board of supervisors. If they won in a clean sweep, far-right candidates would hold nearly all elected positions in Shasta County.

Cathy Darling Allen, the incumbent county clerk who oversees elections, was concerned — not so much about her own chances for winning, but about local democracy itself. Deep mistrust in government had clouded Shasta County politics for nearly two years, and she feared that some residents would refuse to accept the election results.

“I’m worried about our community,” she said. “I’m worried about, at the national level, the messaging that we see around the election in 2020 and what that means for election administration going forward.”


Allen’s fears ended up playing out late that night. With early returns showing the far-right candidates losing, a group of their supporters showed up in person to the elections office and confronted Allen about the counting process.


The stories of Shasta County and Sequim, Washington, where a group of “good governance” activists took back their city government from a QAnon-supporting mayor and his allies, show whether it’s possible to rebuild faith in elections and may offer a preview of what’s to come at a national level as the U.S. heads toward critical congressional and gubernatorial races. .................(more)


What abortion ban? GOP candidates abruptly ditch long-held positions in post-Roe scramble

(Salon) Numerous Republican candidates who have long campaigned on restricting abortion access and perpetuated false theories about the 2020 presidential election now appear to be recalibrating their extreme views. This change comes as candidates move toward the general election in a shifting political landscape that has at least partly been reshaped by the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade — and perhaps also by the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago.

The recent special-election victory by Democrat Pat Ryan in an upstate New York swing district – where Ryan campaigned on protecting abortion rights and the future of democracy, issues his Republican opponent sought to avoid — and the statewide vote in Kansas rejecting a constitutional amendment that would have permitted abortion bans, have sent Republicans scrambling to adjust their positions on reproductive rights, and sometimes other issues.

Last week, Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters, a Republican supported by Trump and tech billionaire Peter Thiel, released an ad criticizing incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly's "extreme abortion policies." Masters said he supports a ban on "very late-term and partial-birth abortion" – a stance he claimed most Americans agree with. But that's a dramatic shift not just in tone but policy: Not long ago, Masters was on record as favoring a federal personhood law "that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed." He has previously called Roe v. Wade a "horrible decision" and referred to abortion as "genocide."

Masters' campaign website has also been altered. Previous language about being "100 percent pro-life" has been scrubbed from the site, according to reporting by NBC News, and replaced with softened rhetoric in support of a third-trimester federal abortion ban.

Michigan GOP congressional candidate Tom Barrett's website has undergone similar changes. Barrett, who is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin and formerly branded himself as "100% pro life — no exceptions," has erased that position from the website and retracted a statement about working "to protect life from conception." ...........(more)


Rolling down the track: Germany debuts the first hydrogen-powered passenger train service


While many train lines continue to run on diesel, others are electrified with efforts underway around the world, in Australia, India, the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere, to generate the electricity to run the rail lines with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Germany is chugging ahead too, with the first fully hydrogen-powered passenger trains, which began running this week on a regional train line in Bremervörde, Lower Saxony.

The Coradia iLint hydrogen trains are built by French multinational company Alstom and are powered by hydrogen fuel cells that generate electrical energy propulsion.

The recipient of a 2022 Germain Sustainability Design Award, the Coradia iLint is emission-free. Alstom says the trains emit only water vapor (steam) and condensed water. And any heat generated is used for air conditioning.

On this regional German route, 14 hydrogen-powered Alstom trains will gradually replace 15 diesel-trains over the course of a year. Five trains began running this week. ............(more)


A tsunami of dark money is flooding our justice system -- and it's only getting worse

A tsunami of dark money is flooding our justice system — and it's only getting worse
Will a right-wing electronics tycoon's unprecedented $1.6B donation force us to face the tide of corruption?


(Salon) "Idon't care too much for money," sang the Beatles in a 1964 hit — "money can't buy me love." But if that well-known lyric suggests that money can't buy what truly matters, a worrying trend in American politics suggests a different lesson. Vast sums of unregulated dark money are increasingly used to buy influence in the justice system, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for money to buy something that should be beyond price.

Revelations last week by the New York Times and ProPublica highlight the urgency of addressing this problem. As the Times reported, "A new conservative nonprofit group scored a $1.6 billion windfall last year via a little-known donor…The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul, and the donation is among the largest, if not the largest — single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit."

The beneficiary of that unprecedented sum is a newly-created political group controlled by Leonard Leo, a right-wing activist with deep connections to Republican donors and politicians, as well as conservative forces within the Roman Catholic Church. There is little question, as the Times puts it, that Leo has helped to "engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rights and climate change policy."

Justice is supposed to be blindfolded, not to hold her hand out for people to grease her palm with cash from dubious sources. But, as ProPublica reports, Leo has successfully used dark money to "influence the Supreme Court… and… shift the balance of power throughout the judiciary — in federal district and appellate courts, and state supreme courts, too."


Although the infusion of dark money to Leo's group is unprecedented in scale, it is just the latest example of the application of dark-money funding to the judicial appointment process at the federal and state levels, which has become a well-financed and highly politicized process. To put it mildly, such a process threatens the independence and impartiality of judges who are the beneficiaries of such largess.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who has long been a forceful critic of the corrupting role of dark money in the judicial process, warns: "Due to the rise in dark money spending in judicial nominating fights, judges can oversee cases involving litigants who spent millions to get them on the bench, creating the potential for serious conflicts of interest that undermine public confidence in the judicial system." ..........(more)


A shrinking Lake Powell could herald an even worse water crisis in the Southwest's future

A shrinking Lake Powell could herald an even worse water crisis in the Southwest's future
As climate change dries the Colorado River Basin, the region's megacities may eventually dry up, too

Staff Writer

(Salon) As climate change worsens, Americans who live in the Southwest will be hit very, very hard: experts predict that large cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas are going to be uninhabitable within decades, as will the surrounding metropolitan areas in their home states of Arizona and Nevada. Those regions are expected to overheat, like an oven with a temperature that constantly rises; by contrast, as the water cycle intensifies, there is apt to be more flash floods like the ones which already occurred in St. Louis, Mo. and throughout the state of Kentucky.

Already, there are some omens pointing to the Southwest's harsh future: in particular, Lake Powell, the second largest artificial reservoir in the United States, at least, in terms of its maximum water capacity. Connected to the Colorado River, Lake Powell provides water and electricity (through hydroelectric power) to 4 to 5 million acres of southwestern farmland, the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Las Vegas, and the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolises — the two largest metropolitan areas of southern California.

That is why experts are so concerned by the news that Lake Powell is shrinking. As of late August, Lake Powell is filled to only 26 percent of its capacity, the smallest it has been since 1967. Just as sobering, nearby Lake Mead is only at 28 percent of its capacity, while the Colorado River system is only at 34 percent.


The undersupply of water is going to have a dire effect on the roughly 60 million people who inhabit that part of the country. According to Ali S. Akanda, an associate professor and graduate director of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Rhode Island, the situation has already affected Lake Powell's appeal as a tourist and recreational site — "for example, the Grand Canyon National Park and the famous river exploration activities are all dependent on water releases from Lake Powell." But that is just the tip of the iceberg.


"A drying Lake Powell will also mean the downstream users in Arizona and Mexico will have no more water flowing from the upstream," Akanda told Salon, adding that Los Angeles gets approximately 20% of its water from the Lake Powell region. This will have a negative effect on "agriculture, power production, fisheries and ecosystems across the southern part of the Colorado basin," Akanda noted. ...........(more)


Naked man crawls through Taco Bell drive-thru window: police


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A St. Petersburg man was arrested after exposing himself at a Taco Bell late Saturday night, according to police.

The St. Petersburg Police Department said Christopher Ver-Straten, 33, crawled through the drive-thru window of a Taco Bell located on 4th Street North, all while completely nude.

Police said the suspect then began lying on the kitchen floor, refusing to leave.

Ver-Straten was arrested shortly after on a charge of exposure of sexual organs.

Staff shortages, overscheduling, bad weather, .... now alligators...The air travel summer from hell.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A Charleston International Airport flight ran into an unusual delay on the taxiway Saturday night.

Delta passenger John Moroney said his flight from Atlanta landed in Charleston around 7 p.m. Saturday when the pilot announced a delay.

An alligator was passing across the taxiway.

The pilot briefly held the plane to let the gator pass. .........(more)


Michigan's Whitmer plot cases stronger after federal convictions, law experts say

OP's Note: I have a digital subscription to the Detroit Free Press so I'm not sure if this article is paywalled or not. If it is paywalled, I apologize in advance.

(Detroit Free Press) Less than a week after a jury convicted two men in federal court of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the nation's highest-profile domestic terror prosecutions, Michigan assistant attorneys general are set to begin making their case in Antrim County against five others charged with related crimes.

Monday's preliminary examination — a proceeding that requires the prosecution to show probable cause in order for the case to go to trial — before 86th District Judge Michael Stepka is expected to preview the arguments for both sides and mirror those made in federal court.

It's unlikely anything said at the hearing will prevent the case from going to trial, but new details about what happened two years ago may emerge, and the recent federal convictions are likely to give the state cases a boost — at least psychologically for the prosecutors and in terms of public perception in Traverse City and Jackson.

In Antrim County, the defendants — twins Michael and William Null, who are 40, and of Plainwell and Shelbyville, respectively; Shawn Fix, 40, of Belleville; Brian Higgins, 53, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; and Eric Molitor, 38, of Cadillac — are accused of providing material support for terrorism, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Many northern Michigan residents, including Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean, are still shocked that such an act of aggression could have taken place in their backyard. ...........(more)


'It took everything': the disease that can be contracted by breathing California's air

(Guardian UK) The illness that would change Rob Purdie’s life started with a headache, a terrible pain that began around New Year’s 2012 and stayed for months.

It was only after several trips to urgent care facilities, multiple doctors and incorrect diagnoses – everything from sinus infections to cluster headaches – he learned what was wrong with him.

The Bakersfield, California, resident had meningitis caused by Valley fever, a disease that comes from Coccidioides, a fungus endemic to the soil of the US south-west. Years of debilitating illness, struggles finding effective treatments and other hardships followed.

“It took everything – my health,” Purdie said. “It had a huge impact on my family. We lost everything, all our financial security, all our retirement.”

The father of two is among the small percentage of people who develop serious forms of Valley fever – most people don’t get sick after exposure and very few have severe symptoms. But for those who develop the chronic form of the disease, it can be devastating. .........(more)


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