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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

Georgia prosecutors accused of waging 'judicial pogrom' against 'Cop City' activists

(Guardian UK) Prosecutors in Georgia have been accused of a “complete politicization of the law” and a “judicial pogrom” in the way they are pursuing charges against activists arrested at a music festival held as part of protests against a police and fire department training facility known as “Cop City.”

Protests against the project have caught worldwide attention after one environmental activist was shot dead by police – the first such incident in US history.

Protestors arrested by police face domestic terrorism charges and have been refused bail in what some legal experts say is an attempt to falsely portray them as dangerous extremists and a hijacking of the legal system in pursuit of the political cause of building “Cop City.”


Prosecutors are pursuing domestic terrorism charges against them and others – at least 41 defendants to date – under the first use of a 2017 Georgia law. Georgia deployed John Fowler, second in command at the state’s attorney general office, as well as several top county prosecutors, to argue against the 5 March group receiving bond, in what is normally a routine affair handled by lower-level attorneys.

Experts consulted by the Guardian said they were shocked at the lack of evidence proffered by the state to justify keeping the arrestees in jail – and at Dekalb county superior court judge Gregory A Adams’ denial of bond in all but two of the cases, meaning he considered them likely to flee and avoid future court appearances, a threat to the community, or both. .....................(more)


"They banned Dolly": Republicans want the dumbest parent at the school to control the curriculum

"They banned Dolly": Republicans want the dumbest parent at the school to control the curriculum
The anti-education bill from House Republicans would empower a single parent to censor what all students can learn

Senior Writer

(Salon) It's become a truism in recent years that the one thing all Americans agree on is a love for Dolly Parton. The country singer-songwriter has woven together a persona that transcends political divisions. But now even Parton can no longer sidestep the escalating right-wing censorship campaign that is tearing through schools.

It was reported this week that school administrators in Waukesha County, Wisconsin barred first graders from singing "Rainbowland," a song Parton performed with her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, who also wrote the song. The school justified the decision by saying "the song could be deemed controversial." This is a song whose most incendiary lyrics read, "Wouldn't it be nice to live in paradise/Where we're free to be exactly who we are." But such is the current level of paranoia on the right over even a hint of inclusivity and tolerance.

Journalist Jeff Sharlet noted on Twitter that one conservative school board member in Waukesha County told him that "critical race theory" is "intertwined, and it is soft, and it is subtle." Actor George Takei, in contrast, reacted how people who live outside of the paranoid right-wing bubble did: "They banned Dolly‽‽"



Last week, House Republicans passed a bill they misleadingly named the "Parents Bill of Rights." It should be called the "Dumb Parents Empowerment Act." The bill would require the school to allow any parent to "review, and make copies of, at no cost, the curriculum of their child's school." It would also require schools to provide parents "a list of books and other reading materials available in the library of such school."

As Hayes Brown wrote at MSNBC, it's "a blueprint for the harassment of teachers, administrators and school boards that has escalated over the past three years." It's legislation designed to arm that one busybody who has more time than sense to endlessly complain about everything, making it impossible for the school to teach even basic lessons to the students. Luckily, Democrats control both the Senate and the White House, so this bill has no chance of becoming law any time soon. But it's part of a larger GOP-led movement to signal to the biggest bully in any PTA that he or she should be the sole arbiter of what all the students at a school get to read or learn. ............(more)


A rare parasite is killing California sea otters - is cat poop runoff to blame?

(Guardian UK) Scientist Melissa Miller was seeing something in California sea otters that she had not seen before: an unusually severe form of toxoplasmosis, which officials have confirmed has killed at least four of the animals.

“We wanted to get the word out. We’re seeing something we haven’t seen before, we want people to know about it and we want people working on marine mammals to be aware of these weird findings,” said Miller, a wildlife veterinarian specialist with the California department of fish and wildlife (DFW). “Take extra precautions.”

Last week, a study from the DFW and the University of California, Davis, revealed that a rare strain of the parasite, never before reported in aquatic animals, was tied to the deaths of four sea otters. The strain, first seen in Canadian mountain lions in 1995, had not been previously detected on the California coast.

“This was a complete surprise,” Karen Shapiro, with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “The COUG [toxoplasma strain] genotype has never before been described in sea otters, nor anywhere in the California coastal environment or in any other aquatic mammal or bird.”

The extent of the risk to California’s sea otters is not yet clear, but the parasite is concerning, the authors of the study said, due to the effects it could have on the population of the threatened species as well as the risk to other animals. It could pose a public health risk if it contaminates the environment and marine food chain, according to an announcement from UC Davis. The parasite can also infect humans. ..............(more)


Explainer: Why did a grand jury vote to indict Trump and what does it mean for him?

(Guardian UK) Donald Trump will be the first former US president to face criminal charges after a grand jury in New York has voted to indict him on charges related to hush money payments to an adult film star.

Here is what Trump’s indictment means.

What happened?

On Thursday the New York Times first reported that the grand jury had voted to indict Trump, citing four people with knowledge of the matter.

The indictment was confirmed shortly later Thursday by Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for Trump, and other sources.


Why was Trump indicted?

Cohen – now an outspoken Trump foe who testified before the grand jury in the Manhattan case – made the $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016. When Trump was president, he reimbursed Cohen with monthly $35,000 checks from his personal account.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges related to the hush money payment. Court documents in Cohen’s federal case said the Trump Organization falsely described payments as legal expenses, citing a legal retainer that did not exist.


What happens next?

Trump will be arraigned, where he will enter a plea, and various dates for case proceedings will be set. His attorneys are all but guaranteed to fight the charges tooth-and-nail in the pre-trial stages, submitting motions in efforts to exclude evidence and testimony they believe will harm his defense, as is normal in criminal cases. ..............(more)


Why "born alive" bills like Kansas' are a ruse designed to spread abortion misinformation

(Salon) n Wednesday, the Kansas state Senate advanced a bill based on the misleading notion that fetuses are sometimes born "alive" after an abortion. The bill now sits on the governor's desk awaiting approval, months after Kansans voted to uphold abortion care protections in the state.

Meanwhile, critics say that the very name of the bill is a ruse designed to trick the public into believing that viable fetuses are often literally killed after emerging alive from a pregnant person's body.

Colloquially known as the "born alive" bill, legislation HB 2313 would add new criminal penalties in Kansas. In the Kansas legislation, Kansas lawmakers propose that healthcare providers or employees who are present for an abortion have to "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health" of a fetus, if born alive.

"Born alive" is defined as breathing or having a beating heart, the pulsation of an umbilical cord, and voluntary movement of the muscles — regardless of if the umbilical cord has been cut or not. Expulsion of the fetus in the bill is defined as "a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section or induced abortion."


As Rebori-Simmons noted, the Kansas legislation is yet another example of "political theater at the expense of Kansans and their health and well-being," in part because a viable fetus surviving an abortion never happens. In other words, the very name of the bill is a sort of rhetorical sleight-of-hand. .............(more)


Trump's rally cry to MAGA hasn't gone ignored -- they've just redirected their rage

Trump's rally cry to MAGA hasn't gone ignored — they've just redirected their rage
MAGA fans are too afraid of prison to riot, but rising hate crimes suggest they've turned their rage on minorities

Senior Writer

(Salon) It's been over a week since Donald Trump started unsubtly begging his supporters to lash out against government officials like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The former president kicked things off with an all-caps Truth Social post demanding people "PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!" When the violence didn't materialize, Trump escalated. He threatened "death & destruction" if prosecutors didn't back down, posted a photo implying he wanted to beat Bragg with a baseball bat, and sneered at people calling for his supporters to remain "peaceful." The escalating rhetoric culminated in a rally Saturday in Waco, Texas, which was an unsubtle call-out to the far-right militia movement's veneration of cult leader David Koresh, who has become an inspirational figure for those who want to wage war with the federal government.

There have been some death threats to Bragg, some of them quite scary. The possibility of a lone unhinged actor lashing out still looms large. But it's becoming pretty clear that another January 6-style riot is unlikely. Trump fans are even circulating conspiracy theories that the FBI is trying to trick them into rioting. Trump supporters probably don't believe this story, since it requires assuming that Trump is letting the FBI use his social media account to bamboozle them into getting arrested. It's likely more that they're afraid of ending up like all the January 6 rioters who are still sitting in a D.C. jail.

Much credit does go to the FBI and Justice Department for arresting and charging at least 1,000 people for their actions on January 6. Credit is also due to the legions of online sleuths who have spent months studying photos of the insurrectionists, piecing together identifying details that have led to hundreds of arrests. Because of these high-profile efforts, there's a real fear of consequences in the MAGA movement if they take more action against government officials on Trump's behalf. It's likely a major reason there's so much reluctance to take violent action now, no matter how much Trump unsubtly calls for it.

Still, while the threat of reactionary violence against the government is relatively low right now, that doesn't mean that the problem of right-wing political violence has subsided. There's good reason to believe that instead, all the anger and vitriol that is fueling the MAGA movement has been redirected, away from the mythical "deep state" that Trump rails against and towards softer targets like members of minority communities that have become demonized by so many far-right conspiracy theories.

The latest FBI hate crimes report was released earlier this month, showing that hate crimes after Trump lost the 2020 election reached the highest levels since the government started tracking them in the 90s. In 2021, there were almost 11,000 reported hate crimes, up from 8,000 the year before, a 12% rise. This is after years of hate crime numbers rising, making it pretty much indisputable that this is a direct response to the uptick in violent rhetoric from Trump and his acolytes. Studies have shown that counties that host Trump rallies, for instance, see exponential surges in hate crimes. .................(more)


Teachers Union Head Says Critical Race Theory Bans Are a Front for School Privatization

Teachers Union Head Says Critical Race Theory Bans Are a Front for School Privatization
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten says GOP has an “intentional strategy” to sow distrust of public schools.

Published on March 28, 2023
By Jack Ross

(Capital & Main) Randi Weingarten heads the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union in the United States with 1.7 million members. She says the “culture wars” rocking school boards and legislatures are a way to build support for laws to expand private school voucher programs that use education funds to pay students’ tuition at private, online or even religious schools. This year, 29 state legislatures are considering bills to either create or expand voucher programs, according to Weingarten, in addition to the 72 voucher and tax credit programs already passed in 33 states. She asserts that efforts by right-wing lawmakers like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to ban critical race theory and books containing “woke” messaging are only part of this larger effort to redirect public school dollars.

In a March 28 address to the National Press Club, Weingarten declared that the culture wars and voucher programs are an existential threat to public education. She called for reinvesting in teachers, building out experiential learning and expanding community schools to transform campuses into social centers that offer programs and services like English classes for parents, gardens and even legal and medical clinics.


Capital & Main: You have warned of a culture war driven by the far right. How does invoking culture advance their cause, or advance a school privatization agenda?

Randi Weingarten: They have a very intentional strategy. [Anti-critical race theory campaign architect Christopher] Rufo actually said this last year — he said, to get to universal school choice, you really need to operate from a premise of universal public school distrust. So what they’re trying to do is create a wedge, then deepen it and deepen it, so that parents will not trust teachers or their unions, and that they will leave public schools at the same exact time as they’re trying to create these universal voucher programs.

[Universal voucher programs] both defund schools and give people who already go to private schools money to stay in those private schools. So this is to starve public schools of the funds they need to succeed, criticize them for their shortcomings, erode trust in public schools by stoking fear and division, including attempts to pit parents against teachers, and replace them with private, religious, online or home schools.

This is all towards the end of destroying public education as we know it. ...............(more)


Nashville shooting: what it reveals about Americans' love of military-style guns

(Guardian UK) In September 2021, the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson announced that it was relocating from the Massachusetts town in which it was incorporated in 1852 to a new location – Maryville in Blount county, Tennessee.

“We have been left with no other alternative,” the company complained, pointing to proposals in the Massachusetts legislature that would extend the state’s ban on AR-15 style rifles to the selling of all semi-automatic firearms. Some 750 jobs would be moved to Tennessee, the gun maker said, for a number of reasons, the first of which was that the state supported the second amendment right to bear arms.

Bill Lee, Tennessee’s Republican governor who has overseen the loosening of state gun laws in recent years including signing into law the ability of most adults to carry handguns without a permit, was ecstatic. “We’re proud this company has chosen to relocate to Blount Co,” he gloated.

Eighteen months later, and 180 miles away from Smith & Wesson’s sparkling new headquarters, a shooter entered a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday and gunned down three nine-year-old children and three adult staff. The killer was armed with two semi-automatic firearms – an AR-15 style rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, both of which would be banned under the Massachusetts bill.


A Washington Post investigation published on Monday (coincidentally about four hours before the Nashville shooter entered the Covenant school) explores how the AR-15 – a weapon designed for the battlefield and admired by the Pentagon for its “phenomenal lethality” – has become the best-selling rifle in the US.

Polling data from the Washington Post and Ipsos suggests that about one in every 20 US adults – about 16 million people – own at least one AR-15. The Post’s investigation also includes the devastating figure that AR-15s have been involved in 10 of the 17 deadliest mass shootings in the US in the past decade. ..............(more)


33 swimmers accused of harassing pod of dolphins in Hawaii

Nearly three dozen people are being accused of harassing a pod of dolphins in Hōnaunau Bay, Hawaii officials announced Tuesday.

Thirty-three swimmers are accused of "pursuing, corralling, and harassing" the dolphins in Hōnaunau Bay on Sunday, according to a press release from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

It's against federal law to swim within 50 yards of spinner dolphins in Hawaii’s nearshore waters. The prohibition went into effect in 2021 amid concerns that so many tourists were swimming with dolphins that the nocturnal animals weren’t getting the rest they need during the day to be able to forage for food at night.

Officers with the agency's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement initiated cases against the swimmers during a routine patrol in the South Kona District. ..............(more)


Rupert Murdoch has fueled polarization of society, Barack Obama says

(Guardian UK) The former US president Barack Obama has suggested that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has led to greater polarisation in western societies through news coverage designed to “make people angry and resentful”.

Speaking to a capacity crowd of about 9,000 people at Sydney’s Aware Super Theatre on Tuesday night, Obama mixed childhood memories of transiting through Australia as a child with pointed observations about the current political discourse and the rise of China.

Asked by Australia’s former foreign minister and moderator, Julie Bishop, about the history of bipartisanship in the US political system, Obama reflected on the largely Anglo-American male makeup of senators and representatives at the time he was elected to the US Senate in 2004, and on the divisions that have persisted since.


“There’s one other factor that’s led to this polarisation. This is global, this is not unique to the United States, and that is the shifts in the media and the story that is told to people. And there’s a guy you may be familiar with, first name Rupert, who was responsible for a lot of this …

“But really he perfected what is a broader trend, which is the advent of cable [television], talk radio and then social media. The dissolution of the monopoly of a few arbiters of the news and journalistic standards that came out of the post-world war two era.” ..........(more)


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