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Nevilledog's Journal
Nevilledog's Journal
May 15, 2023

Some Christian leaders say it's an 'abomination' to use the Bible to cause harm with anti-trans laws


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Many on the religious right call members of the LGBTQ community an "abomination," using Biblical scriptures to justify their stance against queer and transgender rights and inclusion.

But some within the Christian community have flipped the script, saying the real "abomination" is threatening people's lives with anti-LGBTQ laws and policies.

"As a Christian leader, it's horrifying to me that Christianity and the Bible are being used by the religious right to bludgeon people through these many bills," Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, the president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, told The Associated Press.

Jones, the first woman to lead the UTS, was previously the president of the American Academy of Religion, another LGBTQ-inclusive organization.

"To use religious language like that is an abomination," Jones added.


May 10, 2023

Raskin: "Democracy, Gun Violence and the 'Insurrectionist' Theory of the Second Amendment"



The problem of insurrection has been with us a long time. In the very first Federalist Paper, Hamilton warned of political operators who pandered to the violent passions of the mob in order to usurp power and then destroy the freedoms of the people, political cult leaders who begin as “demagogues” and end as “tyrants.”

In his famous Lyceum Address of 1838, delivered after the murder of abolitionist newspaper editor Elijah Lovejoy in Alton, Illinois by a racist mob, Abraham Lincoln denounced mob violence and observed that if division and destruction ever came to America, it wouldn’t come from abroad, it would come from within. And when the Confederate rebellion against the Union did come, Lincoln sent a message to Congress on December 3, 1861, in which he described the “insurrection” as “a war upon the first principle of popular government—the rights of the people,” specifically the voting rights of the people and their right to choose their own officials.

Insurrectionism is back today. It exploded in America’s face on January 6, 2021, when a demagogue-tyrant galvanized a violent mob to block the peaceful transfer of power and install the loser in the presidential election over the winner. More than 1,000 people have been charged with crimes in connection with this attack. More than 600 have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, a wide range of offenses from assaulting federal officers to seditious conspiracy—meaning conspiracy to overthrow the government or put it down by force—to obstructing Congress in its work.

But insurrectionism is back not just as a practice opposed to American constitutional democracy. It is back as a theory of politics and a justification for unlimited firearm availability and an excuse for 24-7 gun violence in our society.

May 10, 2023

New York law gave jurors three types of battery to consider in the Trump case.


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Judge Lewis A. Kaplan on Monday morning walked jurors through a verdict form, explaining what battery meant in the context of a civil lawsuit and that there were gradations of that wrongful act.
He offered three types of battery for which Mr. Trump might be liable under New York law: rape, sexual abuse and forcible touching.

To find that Mr. Trump raped Ms. Carroll, the jurors needed to believe that it was more likely than not that Mr. Trump engaged in sexual intercourse by physical force. The judge explained that “any penetration of the penis into the vaginal opening” constituted intercourse.

To find that Mr. Trump sexually abused Ms. Carroll, the jurors needed to believe that Mr. Trump subjected Ms. Carroll to sexual contact by physical force. Sexual contact is defined as touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another person, Judge Kaplan said.

Forcible touching, the judge said, “includes squeezing, grabbing, pinching, rubbing or other bodily contact that involves the application of some level of pressure to the victim’s sexual or intimate parts.”


May 6, 2023

How Pundits' Inflation Myth Crushed The Working Class


One year ago, as price hikes were becoming a major national concern, the world’s third-richest man touted his newspaper columnist asserting that corporate profits were not a driving force behind inflation — blaming temporary COVID-19 pandemic aid instead.

While Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos and others were trying to steer the inflation discourse away from a focus on business profiteering, there was already data showing that most of the price increases Americans were experiencing could be attributed to larger corporate profit margins.

Those figures were hardly surprising: Corporations that had been permitted to grow into oligopolies during the era of lax antitrust enforcement were now able to leverage their outsized market power to hike prices — and to do so with less fear of competitors undercutting them. It’s a reality that has since been recognized by a Federal Reserve study, a top economist at UBS, European central bankers, and, most recently, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal.

And yet, corporate media outlets ignored the available data, choosing to publish and platform pundits who scoffed at accusations of what they derisively called “greedflation” and who insisted that the problem is workers being paid higher wages. That decision delivered devastating consequences for America’s working class.


May 6, 2023

Masks Work. Distorting Science to Dispute the Evidence Doesn't


Masks work. Especially respirator-style N95 masks.

Amid an ongoing pandemic and outbreaks of influenza and RSV caused by airborne viruses, arguing over the virus-blocking power of masks remains one of the COVID era’s signature follies. Disconcertingly, despite decades of evidence of their efficacy, some of the disagreement comes from a few in the medical field itself, misusing science and endangering lives.

Most recently a Cochrane review, which systematically assesses multiple randomized controlled trials, provoked headlines after claiming a lack of evidence that masks prevent transmission of many respiratory viruses. Not for the public, health care workers, or anyone. “There is just no evidence that they make any difference,” the lead author said in a media interview. This brought an unusual chastisement from the Cochrane Library’s editor-in-chief, who stated it was “not an accurate representation of what the review found.”

That wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. Late last year, a randomized controlled trial claimed that N95 respirators were no better than medical (or surgical) masks for health care workers. Whereas scientists, engineers and occupational health and safety experts highlighted flaws (see its comments section) in the study, these two episodes point to a bigger fundamental question: whether these types of trials are suitable to test how well physical interventions like masks reduce viral transmission.

Medical assertions of exclusive “ownership” over the science of masks when they are used during a pandemic ignore the fact that they represent a well-understood engineered solution, with decades of widespread and successful use behind them. Demands to reject this evidence reflect a failure to recognize and respect interdisciplinary expertise that has undercut the global pandemic response.

May 5, 2023

Texas is Fabricating Abortion Data


Sue sobbed as she entered her patient’s personal information into the state website: Date of birth, county of residence, last menstrual period. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services even wanted to know whether the woman was married, and how many children she had.

“Reporting every detail of that woman’s information, the fact that I was putting any of it in...it was devastating to me as a physician,” she says.

Sue, a pseudonym, is an emergency medicine physician at a major Texas city hospital. Ever since Roe was overturned and the state’s trigger law went into effect, Sue and other Texas doctors have been required to submit patients’ private medical information into a state-run website without their knowledge or consent—adhering to a mandate that forces them to report women as suffering from abortion complications even when they’re not.

This rarely reported on section of Texas law lists 28 medical issues as abortion complications—conditions that reproductive health experts point out often have nothing to do with abortion. Still, doctors are required to tell the state about any woman who develops one of these issues if she happens to have had an abortion at any point in her life.

Doctors who don’t make these reports can be fined for each ‘violation’; after three violations, they could lose their license. Sue, who got conflicting and often confusing guidance from the large health system that runs her hospital and dozens of others in the state, was terrified not to comply. “For all I knew, I could be one that [Attorney General] Ken Paxton made an example of,” she says.


Tweet text:

Christopher Webb
🚨Texas Republicans are up to no good again.

They know that public opinion is not on their side so they’re pushing false abortion data to make it seem as though abortion-care is unsafe.

*Doctors are being forced to report fake abortion ‘complications’ under threat of losing… Show more

8:49 AM · May 5, 2023

I'm at a loss for words.
May 3, 2023

Jordan Neely Just Needed Some Help


You only get the one life. I keep thinking about that.

A 30-year-old black man named Jordan Neely died on a New York City subway train on Tuesday. He was upset, yelling, possibly in the midst of a mental health crisis, and then a white man came over and put him in a chokehold and held him in that chokehold for 15 minutes, by the end of which Neely was dead. That's pretty straightforwardly murder, by any reasonable moral standard if perhaps not by whichever tortured legalistic one will be offered to defend or exonerate the killer—but that's not really what I'm thinking about today. I'm thinking about how you only get the one life.

Early reporting indicates that Neely was experiencing homelessness at the time of his death. Just before the stranger came over and killed him, witness Juan Alberto Vasquez told the New York Post, Neely had been "screaming in an aggressive manner … he said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn't care if he goes to jail." Maybe Neely was telling the truth. He certainly wouldn't be the first unhoused person to prefer jail to the streets or the broken shelter system. Nobody would be surprised to learn that a person with no place to stay might also be hungry, and thirsty, and tired. Nobody would be surprised to learn that a person with no place to stay, who was hungry and thirsty and tired and could not find relief for any of these conditions, might also be upset about that. It would be remarkable if he were not. You only get the one life.

People have weird ideas about things like vulnerability and safety, sometimes. Imagine this scenario from scratch. Imagine some God's-eye view of it. Not as it actually happened, in the end, but from the beginning. There is a place full of people. Into this place comes a person who has nowhere to live; who is hungry and thirsty and tired and in obvious distress; who very probably, like a huge number of Americans, including many without permanent residences, suffers from mental illness. Go ahead and grant that this person—homeless, hungry, thirsty, tired, stretched just as thin as those conditions might stretch any person—is behaving erratically; that their comportment might disturb others. So: Who is vulnerable here? Who is in the greatest need of help? What is the actual problem? How might this small ad hoc instantiation of community solve it?

I'm struggling to put this into words. I can't tell if it's because what I'm trying to express is ludicrous or because it's so dully obvious that I've never bothered to actually think of how to say it before. Sometimes you have something that somebody else needs more than you do, and you can afford to spare it, and the easiest thing in the world is just to give it to them. In that moment, to have what you can give them is, itself, a gift, a thing to be thankful for. In my lifetime this society has seemed ever more fanatically opposed to that possibility, and ever more committed to the idea that of all the things a vulnerable person might legitimately need, help—simple material help—is never one of them. But, like, how many people were on that train? How come nobody just, like, offered Jordan Neely a swig from their water bottle? Or, hell, tried to pry off the guy literally strangling him to death right there on the floor? Did any of them have anything at all they could give to the person first suffering, and then just straight-up dying, right in front of them?

Thirty years is no time at all. Jordan Neely was a squishy little toddler yesterday, a gangly kid 10 minutes ago. At 30 he had no place to live. He was hungry and thirsty and tired and upset. He was experiencing a whole stack of separate crises piled onto each other. He walked into a crowded subway car carrying those crises; one of the people there decided that the problem, in that situation, wasn't that Jordan Neely was hungry or thirsty or tired, or that he was in obvious distress, but rather that on top of those other things he was also breathing, and killed him. Somebody else took their phone out and recorded it. That was Jordan Neely's whole and only life. It ended when he walked into a room full of people, homeless and hungry and thirsty and tired, and they helped themselves to his silence.

May 3, 2023

Trump Using Photos From His Own Presidency To Argue Life Is Worse Under Biden


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Donald Trump started a new ad campaign on Facebook last week that insists the U.S. is doing worse under President Joe Biden. The Facebook ads even include photos trying to suggest the chaos we see in those images is a direct result of Biden’s policies. The only problem? The two most prominent photos in the ad are from Trump’s time at the White House.

The first thing people will probably notice in the ad is a photo of a burning cop car. But that photo was taken in Chicago, Illinois on May 30, 2020. Trump was president from January 20, 2017 until January 20, 2021, which means the image you’re seeing happened on Trump’s watch.

The photo was published by outlets like the Daily Mail and AZ Central on May 31, 2020, not long after footage surfaced of police officers killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020. One of the cops placed his knee on Floyd’s neck while the other cops sat by and didn’t do anything to stop the killing.

Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests that summer, some of which turned violent. But none of that had anything to do with the Biden presidency despite what Trump is trying to convey with his Facebook ad campaign, which declares in bold white type, “Under Joe Biden, America is a nation in decline.”

April 25, 2023

Fox News digs up an inconvenient fact after Trump rants about 'transgender insanity'


Donald Trump in 2012 allowed a non-binary beauty queen to compete in his Miss Universe competition, a move that comes in stark contrast to the rhetoric he now routinely uses and the current attitude of the Republican party.

Trump in 2012 overturned a decision by the Miss Universe organization disqualifying 23-year-old Jenna Talackova, a Canadian model who the group wanted to ban from the competition, saying she isn’t a “naturally born” female, Fox News reports.

Trump in an announcement that he was allowing Talackova to compete for Miss Canada said the decision brought his group in compliance with Canadian law.

"We let her in," Trump said in an April 4, 2012 video.

"We’ll see what happens. Maybe she’ll do well, maybe she won’t. You have 58 different girls trying to be Miss Canada. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens. If for some reason she should win, well, then she has to win the Miss Universe contest. Everybody wants to be Miss Universe. I don’t think it’s going to be easy."


April 18, 2023

A timeline of the DeSantis-Disney fight in Florida


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TALLAHASSEE — The feud between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Co. started nearly two years ago when the company required its on-site employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Then, when it criticized the governor over Florida’s legislation about restrictions in public schools about teaching and discussing gender identity and other issues, the governor accelerated the feud.

Here’s the timeline:

Spring 2021: The Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that would give Disney special treatment to crack down on social media companies after several conservatives said their accounts had been banned. Republican sponsors added a last-minute amendment exempting companies that own theme parks, particularly to allow programs run by Disney+ for example, that collect viewer reviews, to be exempt from the ban. It turns out that the governor’s own staff helped to create the Disney carveout.

Summer 2021: The governor’s war with Disney starts. The company requires all its on-site employees to be fully vaccinated. By late October, the governor announced he would impose fines against Disney and others with vaccine mandates.

March 11, 2022: Disney employees pressure the company to take a stand against the proposed Parental Rights in Education legislation. CEO Bob Chapek sends a message to all employees “especially our LGBTQ+ community,” and says he’s sorry the company didn’t act sooner and announces that Disney is pausing all political contributions in the state.

March 28, 2022: Disney doubles down in a company statement that the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed by opponents as the Don’t Say Gay bill, should be struck down by the courts.

The company’s statement, posted on Twitter the same day that DeSantis signed the bill into law, said the company would support national and state organizations working to achieve those outcomes.

“Florida’s HB 1557 ... should have never passed and should never have been signed into law,” the company’s statement read.


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