Home Blog Page 2

Overnight News Digest: Happy 14th Birthday to the OND

0

Some stories we’re reporting on tonight:

  • France ‘did nothing to stop’ Rwanda genocide, report claims
  • Eden Project to start drilling for ‘hot rocks’ to generate geothermal energy
  • Judge orders two Proud Boys leaders held in custody over Capitol attack
  • NASA Mars helicopter Ingenuity pulls off first historic flight on another planet
  • Tesla Model S crash with nobody behind the wheel leaves 2 dead
  • US neo-Nazi group should be banned in UK, home secretary says
  • Cuba leadership: Díaz-Canel named Communist Party chief
  • Evacuations as firefighters battle wildfire in Cape Town
  • US Supreme Court questions permanent residency for some migrants
  • Germany: CDU party board backs Armin Laschet as chancellor candidate
  • Russian officials move Alexei Navalny to prison hospital
  • Florida Adopts Nation’s Toughest Restrictions On Protests
  • Europe’s Top Soccer Teams Announce New ‘Super League’
  • U.S. will boost ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories to 80% of world

Walter ‘Fritz’ Mondale, former vice president under Jimmy Carter, dead at 93

CNN

(CNN)Walter Frederick “Fritz” Mondale, who served as vice president under then-President Jimmy Carter before waging his own unsuccessful White House bid in 1984, has died, according to a family spokesperson. He was 93.

Mondale died at home in downtown Minneapolis surrounded by family, spokesperson Kathy Tunheim said.
“It is with profound sadness that we share news that our beloved dad passed away today in Minneapolis, Minnesota,” Mondale’s family said in a statement. “As proud as we were of him leading the presidential ticket for Democrats in 1984, we know that our father’s public policy legacy is so much more than that.”
    In an email to former staffers obtained by CNN on Monday, Mondale acknowledged in a moving message that his “time has come.”
    This is an open thread where everyone is welcome, especially night owls and early birds, to share and discuss the happenings of the day. Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

    France ‘did nothing to stop’ Rwanda genocide, report claims

    The Guardian

    France “bears significant responsibility” for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 because it remained “unwavering in its support” of its allies even though officials knew the slaughter was being prepared, a report commissioned by Kigali claims.

    The accusation is the latest in the continuing dispute between Paris and the small east-African country over the role played there by France before and during the mass killings.

    France has long been accused of not doing enough to halt the genocide.

    The 600-page report, by the US law firm Levy Firestone Muse, labels France a “collaborator” of the extremist Hutu regime that orchestrated the murders of about 800,000 people, mainly from the Tutsi minority.

    Eden Project to start drilling for ‘hot rocks’ to generate geothermal energy

    The Guardian

    A drilling rig is about to arrive at the Eden Project in Cornwall to bore almost three miles down into the granite crust in search of “hot rocks” that will be used to warm the attraction’s biomes and other buildings.

    The first of the lorries carrying a 450-tonne, 55-metre-high drilling rig will arrive on the outer edge of the site next week, and if all goes well the geothermal scheme will begin operating by Christmas or early next year.

    Judge orders two Proud Boys leaders held in custody over Capitol attack

    The Guardian

    A federal judge has ordered two leaders of the far-right Proud Boys group to be detained in jail pending trial for their involvement in the 6 January attack on the Capitol in Washington DC.

    Both were indicted in one of many Proud Boys conspiracy cases to stem from the investigation into the assault on the building that followed a pro-Donald Trump rally.

    Ethan Nordean of Washington state and Joseph Biggs of Florida, along with two other Proud Boys regional leaders, are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election – and with organizing and leading dozens of Proud Boys to the Capitol.

    NASA Mars helicopter Ingenuity pulls off first historic flight on another planet

    C/NET

    Ingenuity, a NASA helicopter no heavier than a 2-liter bottle of soda, has pulled off the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. The feat took place at 12:31 a.m. PT on Monday morning, but it wasn’t until over three hours later that NASA engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory received the first data from Mars.

    The first flight of Ingenuity is an impressive milestone in space exploration, paving the way for future missions to the red planet to utilize the skies. Learning to fly on Earth was difficult enough, but flying on Mars was a grand engineering challenge. NASA has shown that it was up to the task.

    Tesla Model S crash with nobody behind the wheel leaves 2 dead

    C/NET

    A crash involving a Tesla Model S left two people dead after the car collided with a tree and caught fire, according to local NBC News affiliate KPRC 2 in Spring, Texas. Authorities say an investigation into the crash is ongoing, though the consensus so far is that neither of the two men involved in the crash were driving the Model S at the time of impact.

    x

    US neo-Nazi group should be banned in UK, home secretary says

    BBC

    An American neo-Nazi group linked to five murders in the US should be banned in the UK as a terrorist organisation, the government has said.

    Home Secretary Priti Patel will ask for permission from MPs to outlaw the group called Atomwaffen Division (AWD).

    Prosecutors have cited AWD as an influence on a number of teenagers in the UK convicted of terror offences.

    Ms Patel said she was taking action “to protect young and vulnerable people from being radicalised”.

    AWD would be the fourth neo-Nazi group to be banned in the UK, joining National Action, Sonnenkrieg Division and Feuerkrieg Division.

    A formal ban, which will come into effect this week if the move is approved in Parliament, will make it a terror offence to be a member of the group or invite support for it.

    The government will list National Socialist Order as a formal alias of AWD, meaning it is assessed to be the same organisation.

    Cuba leadership: Díaz-Canel named Communist Party chief

    BBC

    Cuba’s Communist Party has announced Miguel Díaz-Canel will succeed Raúl Castro as the party’s first secretary.

    Mr Díaz-Canel, who in 2018 succeeded Mr Castro as Cuba’s president, had been widely tipped for the arguably more influential post of party leader.

    The transition means that the island will be governed by someone other than Fidel or Raúl Castro for the first time since the Cuban revolution in 1959.

    Mr Díaz-Canel is seen as loyal to the Castros and their economic model.

    Speaking on Friday, when Mr Díaz-Canel had not been officially named yet as first secretary, Raúl Castro said that he would hand over the leadership to a younger generation “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit”.

    At 60, Mr Díaz-Canel is almost 30 years younger than his predecessor.

    Evacuations as firefighters battle wildfire in Cape Town

    Al Jazeera

    People were evacuated from Cape Town neighbourhoods on Monday as a huge wildfire sweeping across the slopes of the city’s famed Table Mountain was fanned by high winds and threatened homes.

    City authorities said residents of suburbs on the mountain slopes were now being evacuated as a “precautionary” measure.

    The blaze had been largely contained on Monday, but firefighters were still battling to control it.

    Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said efforts were currently focused on the mountain above the Vredehoek suburb, with residents being evacuated “as a precautionary measure”.

    US Supreme Court questions permanent residency for some migrants

    Al Jazeera

    US Supreme Court justices on Monday appeared reluctant to let people who have been allowed to stay in the United States on humanitarian grounds apply to become permanent residents if they entered the country illegally.

    The justices heard arguments in an appeal by a married couple from El Salvador who were granted so-called “Temporary Protected Status” of a lower court ruling that barred their applications for permanent residency, also known as a green card, because of their unlawful entry.

    The case could affect thousands of immigrants, many of whom have lived in the US for years. President Joe Biden’s administration opposes the immigrants in the case. The dispute puts Biden, who has sought to reverse many of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, at odds with immigration advocacy groups and some of his fellow Democrats.

    Germany: CDU party board backs Armin Laschet as chancellor candidate

    DW News

    Leading officials for the German conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party voted to nominate Armin Laschet as chancellor candidate for this year’s election in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

    A majority of 77.5% of the party board — 31 members — voted in favor of the party leader. His rival for the position, Markus Söder, received just 9 votes.

    The vote is not an official decision on the candidate for the conservative bloc which also includes Söder’s Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU). However, Söder had said he would respect the decision of the CDU party board.

    “It’s about the best answers to the pressing questions of the future. And I am ready to run for office on our behalf,” Laschet said after the board voted.

    Russian officials move Alexei Navalny to prison hospital

    DW News

    The Russian state penitentiary service (FSIN) on Monday said it had decided to move opposition leader Alexei Navalny, currently in his third week of a hunger strike, to a hospital for prisoners.

    The statement said Navalny’s condition was considered “satisfactory” and that he had agreed to some nutritional treatment.

    “The patient has given his consent that vitamins be prescribed to him,” the statement read.

    Navalny was held at a prison colony known for its harsh discipline in the town of Pokrov some 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) from Moscow.

    The FSIN said he was being moved to a hospital for convicts at another penal colony in the city of Vladimir that was specialized in “dynamic observation of such patients.”

    Florida Adopts Nation’s Toughest Restrictions On Protests

    NPR

    This article is part of an NPR series entitled America Reckons With Racial Injustice. The article describes how Florida deals with racial injustice. They punish those fighting it.

    Florida’s governor has signed a law that he called the “strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement measure in the country.” The law was written in response to protests around the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. It provides new protections for police and increases the penalties for people who take part in property damage or violence during protests.

    Florida experienced little of the violence seen elsewhere in the country last summer following Floyd’s death. But Gov. Ron DeSantis said tougher laws were needed to make sure Florida doesn’t see the kind of protests that occurred in Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and other cities. At the bill signing Monday, DeSantis said, “If you riot, if you loot, if you harm others, particularly if you harm a law enforcement officer during one of these violent assemblies, you’re going to jail.”

    Europe’s Top Soccer Teams Announce New ‘Super League’

    NPR

    A battle is brewing between Europe’s top soccer clubs and their governing bodies–one that could cost billions of dollars in television rights payments alone.

    Twelve of Europe’s richest and most powerful soccer teams from Spain, Italy, and England announced Sunday they would abandon the existing Champions League and create a rival Super League.

    The Super League’s 12 Founding Clubs include Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Real Madrid. The organization said three more clubs will be invited to join before a potential inaugural season.

    The new competition is being pitched as a necessary change following the global pandemic which, the group said in a statement, “has accelerated the instability of the current economic model of European football.”

    U.S. will boost ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories to 80% of world

    Reuters

    The U.S. State Department said on Monday it will boost its “Do Not Travel” guidance to about 80% of countries worldwide, citing “unprecedented risk to travelers” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide,” the department said in a statement.

    The State Department already listed 34 out of about 200 countries as “Level 4: Do Not Travel,” including places like Chad, Kosovo, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Mozambique, Russia and Tanzania. Getting to 80% would imply adding nearly 130 countries.

    Most Americans were already prevented from traveling to much of Europe because of COVID-19 restrictions.

    Czechs say Russian retaliation stronger than expected, seeks EU solidarity

    Reuters

    The Czech Republic said on Monday Russia’s eviction of 20 Czech embassy employees in response to Prague’s expulsion of 18 Russian staff was a stronger than expected reaction and the government would consider further steps.

    Pragueexpelled the Russian diplomats on Saturday, saying it suspected that Russian intelligence had been involved in explosions at an ammunition depot in October and December 2014. read more

    Moscow has denied any of its agents were involved in the blast, which killed two people, branding the Czech stance a provocation. The row is the biggest between Prague and Moscow since the end of Soviet domination of eastern Europe in 1989.

    A couple of articles from behind a pay wall

    Authorities Did Not Try to Use ‘Red Flag’ Law for Indianapolis Gunman

    New York Times

    Citing shortcomings of the state’s “red flag” law, the local prosecutor explained why he did not seek a ruling last year that would have barred Brandon Hole from possessing guns.

    INDIANAPOLIS — The senior county prosecutor in Indianapolis said on Monday that his office never sought to invoke a law that could have prevented Brandon Hole from buying two firearms before he shot and killed eight people last week at a FedEx packaging warehouse.

    In a news conference, Ryan Mears, the prosecutor for Marion County, said his office had decided not to use Indiana’s so-called red flag law last year, even though Mr. Hole’s mother’s warnings about her son’s mental instability had prompted the police to seize a shotgun from him.

    The tight deadlines and constraints on evidence gathering built into the state’s 16-year-old statute gave prosecutors too little time to make a convincing case to a judge, Mr. Mears said, adding that losing in court could have backfired.

    Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who engaged rioters, suffered two strokes and died of natural causes, officials say

    Washington Post

    Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the Jan. 6 insurrection, the District’s chief medical examiner has ruled.

    The ruling, released Monday, will make it difficult for prosecutors to pursue homicide charges in the officer’s death. Two men are accused of assaulting Sicknick by spraying a powerful chemical irritant at him during the siege, but prosecutors have not tied that exposure to Sicknick’s death.

    In an interview with The Washington Post, Francisco J. Diaz, the medical examiner, said the autopsy found no evidence the 42-year-old officer suffered an allergic reaction to chemical irritants, which Diaz said would have caused Sicknick’s throat to quickly seize. Diaz also said there was no evidence of internal or external injuries.

    x

    The crew of the Overnight News Digest consists of founder Magnifico, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, Chitown Kev, eeff, Magnifico, annetteboardman, Rise above the swamp, Besame and jck. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) Interceptor 7, Man Oh Man, wader, Neon Vincent, palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse (RIP), ek hornbeck (RIP), rfall, ScottyUrb, Doctor RJ, BentLiberal, Oke (RIP) and jlms qkw.

    I had no problem with Reuters tonight, but soon …

    x

    Top Comments: Pain Songs Edition

    0

    As regular Top Comments readers may remember, my offering last week was Top Comments: Pain Scale Edition. It’s been a long week since then, as my sciatic nerve and I spent a couple of days testing out that scale’s levels bouncing between 4 (my pain is not fucking around) and 8 (I am experiencing a disturbing amount of pain.  I might actually be dying.  Please help). It finally swapped this weekend to “Hey brillig, let’s just pretend you are 95 years old and walking on ice. Move like you don’t want to fall and break something”.

    I’m feeling a lot better today and have stopped what K1 (my-Psychology and Future School Counselor offspring) told me was Catastrophic Thinking. I do believe after PT today that I might both one day rate my back pain at a 0 and be able to make the drive to see K1 now that we’re both vaccinated sooner rather than later. 

    As I write with an ice pack on my back and think about my visit to the orthopedist on Thursday, I give you a themed set of music, in which the title or lyrics are associated with pain. I’m hoping you will share your appropriate music, whether it’s lyrically appropriate or whether the simple sound of the song makes YOU hurt.

    In no particular order:

    Everybody Hurts — REM — and a gorgeous cover by Kelly Clarkson and P!nk

    King of Pain — The Police — and my own favorite version by Alanis Morissette.

    Hurt — Nine Inch Nails — and of course the utterly amazing Johnny Cash version.

    Love Hurts — Boudleaux Bryant, first recorded by The Everly Brothers— You may know the Nazareth or Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris versions best.

    Hurts So Good — John Mellencamp — It’s rare I’m stumped for a cover version. Consider me stumped.

    Her Diamonds — Rob Thomas — References his wife’s autoimmune disease. Another song without an easily discoverable cover version. But poignant and beautiful, with wife Marisol singing on the track.

    Give Me Novacaine — Green Day — You needed a ukelele cover of this, right?

    Comfortably Numb — Pink Floyd — When the ice pack and anti-inflammatories kick in! Have an ethereal version by Dar Williams & Ani DiFranco.

    Hop carefully over the story break for tonight’s trio of Top Comments, Mojo and Pictures!

    Banner for the community diary called Top Comments, a series that features the best comments at the site each day.

    Here at Top Comments we welcome longtime as well as brand new Daily Kos readers to join us at 10pm Eastern. We strive to nourish community by rounding up some of the site’s best, funniest, most mojo’d & most informative commentary, and we depend on your help!! If you see a comment by another Kossack that deserves wider recognition, please send it either to topcomments at gmail or to the Top Comments group mailbox by 9:30pm Eastern. Please please please include a few words about why you sent it in as well as your user name (even if you think we know it already :-)), so we can credit you with the find!

    TOP COMMENTS

    Brillig’s ObDisclaimer: The decision to publish each nomination lies with the evening’s Diarist and/or Comment Formatter. My evenings at the helm, I try reeeeallllyy hard to publish everything without regard to content. I really do, even when I disagree personally with any given nomination. “TopCommentness” lies in the eyes of the nominator and of you, the reader – I leave the decision to you. I do not publish self-nominations (ie your own comments) and if I ruled the world, we’d all build community, supporting and uplifting instead of tearing our fellow Kossacks down. Please remember that comment inclusion in Top Comments does not constitute support or endorsement by diarist, formatter, Top Comments writers or DailyKos. Questions, complaints or comments? Contact brillig.


    From Denise Oliver Velez:

    This evocative comment from Anakai is one I missed – memories of the first time he heard Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly”. 

    From yours truly, brillig:

    In HalBrown‘s Just Sayn’: We’re a plywood nation, despair and anger tear me apart when I read the news was this comment by the author that is the perfect counter to his diary topic itself, and also was the coolest bit of news I read all day.

    I KNOW I shouldn’t have laughed at this thread started by Lost and Found in TheCriticalMind‘s Noted Norwegian COVID Conspiracy Theorist Dies of COVID.  And yet sizzzzlerzER Doc and rightiswrong made me do it.


    TOP MOJO

    Top Mojo for yesterday, April 18th 2021, first comments and tip jars excluded. Thank you mik for the mojo magic! For those of you interested in How Top Mojo Works, please see his diary on FAQing Top Mojo.

    3)

    by Ex Con  +95

    7)  So true. by Youffraita  +83
    9)  Egad. … by Mother Mags  +80
    11)

    by DRo  +75

    14)

    by Youffraita  +71

    15)

    by DRo  +70

    15)

     by BOHICA  +70

    18)

    by BOHICA  +68

    28) Just beautiful.  by f pie  +59

    TOP PICTURES

    Top Pictures for yesterday, April 18th 2021. Click any picture to be taken to the full comment or picture. Thank you jotter!

    Mike Lindell Finally Files His Lawsuit. Here's One Reason It Will Be Quickly Dismissed

    1

    Mike Lindell has finally filed his lawsuit against Dominion voting machines. This was the long promised lawsuit that Lindell claimed would have Trump back in the White House. A review of the lawsuit inexplicably finds that the requested relief does not include seeking that the judge reinstate Trump to the Presidency. Rather, Lindell seeks $1.6 billion from Dominion, the same amount it sued him for.

    Also missing is a single shred of evidence, or even any specific assertion, that Dominion machines miscounted, fraudulently counted, changed the votes of, etc, even a single ballot.  Rather, the Complaint asserts that all of Lindell’s attacks on Dominion as a fraudulent actor were justified primarily because:

    1.  Dominion acquired a company, that previously acquired a company that once had vote counting software problems over a decade ago.

    2.  In October 2020 a Georgia judge found that Dominion’s machines were susceptible to being hacked by outside actors.  No evidence that Dominion’s machines were actually hacked by outside actors is provided or even alleged.  

    Rather than asserting fraud, which would have to be pled with particularity, this lawsuit mostly suggests that Dominion is simply not good at making its machines secure and maybe, just possibly, somebody  might have hacked them.  It does not allege deliberate fraud by the company as Lindell repeatedly did.  Nor does the lawsuit mention at all that Georgia verified the Dominion machine count with 100% hand count audit of the paper ballots.  

    Lindell’s primary cause of action in this case is rooted in a legally infirm premise, that Dominion is an arm of the government, a state actor.  The argument is that since Dominion (a private company) provides voting machines to states, that this means it is performing a government function.  In the words of the Complaint, “as a result of Dominion’s contracts with government entities, it is delegated responsibility to administer public elections—a core governmental function.”

    This premise is essential to much of the rest of the lawsuit because the primary cause of action asserted by Lindell is that by suing him for defamation, and otherwise trying to get him to stop telling lies about Dominion, that Dominion has attacked his rights of free speech.  Lindell claims this creates a cause of action under 18 U.S.C. § 1983 which allows those who have suffered loss of their civil rights under color of state authority to sue the state actors responsible.  The law expressly states that denying someone their privileges under the Constitution (such as free speech) is an infringement of their civil rights.  

    But what must a private company do to rise to being a state actor for purposes of § 1983?  The Supreme Court directly addressed this question in the case of Lugar v. Edmonson Oil Company (1981).  The court found a private company becomes a state actor only “when there is a usurpation or corruption of official power by the private litigant.”

    Not only does Lindell provide no evidence of such “corruption of official power” by Dominion, he does not even allege it.  For this reason, his Complaint should be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).  Under this rule a facially deficient complaint must be dismissed when, even presuming the well pled facts within it to be true, those alleged facts fail to state a cause of action for which the court can grant relief.  Since under the facts alleged Dominion is, by law, not a state actor the Complaint’s causes of action based on it being a state actor should be dismissed.  

    Lindell claims that with this lawsuit he will now get full discovery against Dominion and prove the massive fraud he claimed in his defamatory allegations.  There are two things wrong with that: 

    1. Dismissal under 12(b)(6) occurs before any discovery occurs.  Why allow discover when the Complaint as written cannot win regardless of what is found? 

    2. Whatever rights to discovery Lindell would get by this lawsuit he already has because of Dominion’s defamation suit against him.  Discovery goes both ways and as the Defendant in that case Lindell certainly has a right to any discovery reasonably aimed at showing that his claims against Dominion are actually true.  

    I can see the headlines now, “Mike Lindell Loses My Pillow Case.”  

    Mars Helicopter Ingenuity makes successful first flight on another planet

    0

    Just a few minutes ago, telemetry data came back from Mars reporting on the first instance of a powered, controlled flight on another planet. And it is a high-flying success! The Mars helicopter Ingenuity made history to executing its command sequence autonomously, rising a few feet above the surface of Mars and landing back successfully, all in the thin atmosphere and low gravity of Mars.

    x

    x

    Here is one of the first images — one of its own shadow on the rocky and dusty surface of Mars, taken by Ingenuity’s navigation camera –

    x

    And here is a short video from Perseverance, stationed 64.3 meters away at Van Zyl Overlook.

    x

    This short test flight is being compared with the first flight by Wilbur and Orville Wright. The area where the flight took place has been wrightfully named the Wright Brothers Field.

    x

    Some more info

    From www.nasa.gov/… –

    The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight.

    Confirmation of the flight arrived at JPL at 6:46 a.m. EDT.

    There will be a news briefing today at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

    A second experimental test flight is likely on Thursday, April 22.

    Why is this flight such a big deal? Aside, from operating under extreme cold conditions on a planet 50 million km away, Ingenuity has to operate in an atmosphere, whose surface pressure is about 0.65% that on earth. On earth, pressure drops to about 4% at an altitude of 20 km (about 65,616 feet). No drone or rotorcraft on earth has every flown at 20 km altitude, let alone at a pressure of 0.65% atmospheres.

    About the Ingenuity Helicopter

    NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity is the first to demonstrate powered flight on another world. It is a technology demonstration and assessment experiment and is not critical to the primary mission. It will provide a scouting service for Perseverance by surveying the area around the rover, flying in the thin atmosphere and low gravity of Mars.

    The one-way signal travel time between Mars and Earth is around 16 minutes (on April 19), so real-time remote piloting of the helicopter is out of question. Flight plans will uploaded by controllers at JPL; however, Ingenuity will use autonomous control to manage its flight.

    ITEM DESCRIPTION
    Rotors Counter-rotating coaxial rotors about 120 cm in diameter,  2,400 rpm
    Instruments Hi-res downward-looking camera for navigation, landing, and science surveying of the terrain
    Comm. Used to communicate with the Perseverance rover

    Radio link using low-power Zigbee communication protocol

    250 kbit/s over distances of up to 1,000 m.

    Navigation Solar tracker camera and visual inertial navigation system

    The inconsistent Mars magnetic field precludes the use of a compass

    Power Six Sony Li-ion batteries, solar panels
    Computer Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (ARM architecture, used in smart phones, drones, etc), probably not radiation hardened
    OS Linux


    Perseverance

    NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft and the Perseverance Rover arrived at Mars on Feb 18. The Perseverance rover successfully landed in Jezero Crater, a large impact crater about 45 km wide just north of the Martian equator. Jezero once contained a lake, which scientists think is one of the most ideal places to find evidence of ancient microbial life, the primary objective of this mission.  The rover will also collect and store rock and regolith samples, which will be returned to Earth in a future mission for further analysis.

    Check out diary “The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and the Search for Life” for more info about the mission.

    Some more info for Technology Geeks

    If you remember, this flight was postponed from last week, because of a glitch in one of the pre-flight tests. Over the last week, NASA was testing two solutions to address the “watchdog” timer issue that prevented the helicopter from transitioning to “flight mode” – 1) adjusting the command sequence from Earth to slightly alter the timing of this transition, and 2) modifying and reinstalling the existing flight control software, which has been stable and healthy for close to two years. The first solution required adding a few commands to the flight operations sequence. The first solution was used in today’s successful flight. The 2nd solution remains as a backup.

    The Future of Flight

    To be clear, this short test flight is the small first step in flying on another world. In the coming weeks, Ingenuity will fly up to five times during its 30-day test campaign. If will fly 3–5 metres above ground for up to 90 second missions, traveling as far as 50 metres downrange and back.

    Future missions will probably include flying drones, which greatly expand the capability of exploring and studying Mars. And other planets and moons. NASA already has plans to send a flying drone to Saturn’s moon Titan. Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034.


    Hopefully, one day, humankind will fly around Mars, routinely.

    Epilogue

    Three cheers to Perseverance and Ingenuity — we need more of them in our lives. Let us be inspired to Dare Mighty Things.

    x

    Further Reading

    1. Mars 2020 Mission website — mars.nasa.gov/…
    2. NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight — mars.nasa.gov/…
    3. The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and the Search for Life — www.dailykos.com/…
    4. A Celebration of the first day of Perseverance on Mars — www.dailykos.com/…
    5. Amazing video of Perseverance landing on Mars — www.dailykos.com/…

    Liveblog IV: Chauvin Murder Trial – State's Rebuttal

    0

    gchaucer2 was called away for a bit, but I’m certain she’ll rejoin us in the comments as soon as she’s available. 

    The defense’s closing arguments extended so long that they required a lunch break in the middle. Now we’re ready for the State’s rebuttal.

    I am not watching the trial myself, but have been following the liveblog comments, and they’ve been more than enough to keep me apprised of what’s going on. My sense from reading them is that the state has presented a strong case; the defense, maybe not so much. That’s good news for Justice, in my book, but nothing is certain until a verdict is returned.

    Liveblog updates on the present trial session are found in the comment thread. Many thanks to the erudite commenters who add so much value to the discussion!

    The liveblog schedule has been two posts per day, covering the morning and afternoon court sessions. To get these posts in your activity stream, follow the Community Live Bloggers group (scroll down to find the “follow” button).

    Previous posts in this series so far:

    Day 1: 3/29 (Informal in Laura Clawson’s comment thread)
    Day 2: 3/30 Day 2 Liveblog II
    Day 3: 3/31 Day 3 Liveblog I Day 3 Liveblog II
    Day 4: 4/1 Day 4 Liveblog I Day 4 Liveblog II
    Day 5: 4/2 Day 5 Liveblog I (Good Friday recess)
    Day 6: 4/5 Day 6 Liveblog I Day 6 Liveblog II
    Day 7: 4/6 Day 7 Liveblog I Day 7 Liveblog II
    Day 8: 4/7 Day 8 Liveblog I Day 8 Liveblog II
    Day 9: 4/8 Day 9 Liveblog I Day 9 Liveblog II
    Day 10: 4/9 Day 10 Liveblog I Day 10 Liveblog II
    Day 11: 4/12 Day 11 Liveblog I Day 11 Liveblog II
    Day 12: 4/13 Day 12 Liveblog I Day 12 Liveblog II
    Day 13: 4/14 Day 13 Liveblog I Day 13 Liveblog II
    Day 14: 4/15 Day 14 Liveblog I (Back Monday for closing arguments)
    Day 15: 4/19 Liveblog I: State’s Close Liveblog II: Defense Close
    (Day 15 cont’d) Liveblog III: Defense Close Part 2 Liveblog IV: State’s Rebuttal

    Monday, Apr 19, 2021 · 8:15:30 PM +00:00 · belinda ridgewood

    From DRo, in the previous thread:

    x

    Monday, Apr 19, 2021 · 9:02:21 PM +00:00 · belinda ridgewood

    Comment from csinphilly, on what I can only call the finale of the state’s rebuttal:

    GF said “I can’t breathe” 27 times within a few minutes. He doesn’t let up. When he is unconscious, he doesn’t let up. When he has no pulse, he doesn’t let up. Even when medicas arrive, he doesn’t let up. They have to grab his arm to get him to let up. GF never regained consciousness.

    The biggest shading of the truth [defense objects to this phrase] — claim that GF died b/c he heart was too big.

    Reason that GF is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.

    [mic drop]

    Monday, Apr 19, 2021 · 10:08:43 PM +00:00 · belinda ridgewood

    Thanks to AKALib for locating video tweets of the end of the state’s closing argument and rebuttal.

    x

    x

    OAN staffers know network’s claims are false

    0
    President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, to Olympic gold medalist and former University of Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

    Months after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, One America News Network, a right-wing cable news channel available in some 35 million households, has continued to broadcast segments questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

    “There’s still serious doubts about who’s actually president,” OAN correspondent Pearson Sharp said in a March 28 report.

    That segment was one in a spate of similar reports from a channel that has become a kind of Trump TV for the post-Trump age, an outlet whose reporting has aligned with the former president’s grievances at a time when he is barred from major social media platforms.

    Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times

    Some of OAN’s coverage has not had the full support of the staff. In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel had broadcast reports that they considered misleading, inaccurate or untrue.

    To go by much of OAN’s reporting, it is almost as if a transfer of power had never taken place. The channel did not broadcast live coverage of Biden’s swearing-in ceremony and inaugural address. Into April, news articles on the OAN website consistently referred to Donald Trump as “President Trump” and to Biden as just “Joe Biden” or “Biden.” That practice is not followed by other news organizations, including the OAN competitor Newsmax, a conservative cable channel and news site.

    OAN has also promoted the debunked theory that the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 were left-wing agitators. Toward the end of a March 4 news segment that described the attack as the work of “antifa” and “anti-Trump extremists” — and referred to the president as “Beijing Biden” — Sharp said, “History will show it was the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who called for this violence.” Investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of anti-fascist activists, were involved in the Capitol riot.

    Charles Herring, president of Herring Networks, the company that owns OAN, defended the reports casting doubt on the election. “Based on our investigations, voter irregularities clearly took place in the November 2020 election,” he said. “The real question is to what extent.”

    Herring Networks was founded by Herring’s father, tech entrepreneur Robert Herring, who at age 79 runs OAN with Charles and another son, Robert Jr. About 150 employees work for the channel at its headquarters in San Diego.

    Nielsen does not report viewership statistics for OAN, which is not a Nielsen client. (Charles Herring cited Nielsen’s “heavy fees.”) In a survey last month, Pew Research reported that 7% of Americans, including 14% of Republicans, had gotten political news from OAN. By contrast, 43% of Americans and 62% of Republicans had gotten political news from Fox News, the survey found.

    While OAN appeals to a relatively small audience, its coverage reflects views commonly held by Republicans. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll last month, about half of Republicans said they believed that the Jan. 6 attack, which left five dead, was largely a nonviolent protest or was the handiwork of left-wing activists. Six in 10 Republicans surveyed said they also believed Trump’s claim that the election was “stolen.”

    OAN, which started in 2013, gained attention when it broadcast Trump’s campaign speeches in full before the 2016 election. In recent months, it has courted viewers who may have felt abandoned by Fox News, which on election night was the first news outlet to project Biden as the winner of Arizona, a key swing state. In a mid-November promotional ad, OAN accused Fox News of joining “the mainstream media in censoring factual reporting.”

    OAN’s stories “appeal to people who want to believe that the election was not legitimate,” said Stephanie Edgerly, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. “These are two mutually reinforcing narratives of people who want to believe it and continue to get that fire stoked by OAN.”

    Marty Golingan, a producer at the channel since 2016, said OAN had changed in recent years. At the start of his employment, he said, it concentrated more on neutral coverage based on reports from The Associated Press or Reuters. He saw it as a scrappy upstart where he could produce cheeky feature stories, he said.

    During the Trump presidency, it moved right, Golingan said. And when he was watching coverage of the pro-Trump mob breaking into the Capitol, he said, he worried that his work might have helped inspire the attack.

    He added that he and others at OAN disagreed with much of the channel’s coverage. “The majority of people did not believe the voter fraud claims being run on the air,” Golingan said in an interview, referring to his colleagues.

    He recalled seeing a photo of someone in the Capitol mob holding a flag emblazoned with the OAN logo. “I was like, OK, that’s not good,” Golingan said. “That’s what happens when people listen to us.”

    Charles Herring defended OAN’s coverage. “A review process with multiple checks is in place to ensure that news reporting meets the company’s journalist standards,” he said. “And, yes, we’ve had our fair share of mistakes, but we do our best to keep them to a minimum and learn from our missteps.”

    Golingan added that since Inauguration Day, OAN’s news director, Lindsay Oakley, had reprimanded him for referring to Biden as “President Biden” in news copy. Oakley did not reply to requests for comment.

    “OAN’s staff White House reporters use the term President Biden and then may use Mr. Biden,” Charles Herring said. “The term Biden or Biden administration may also be used.” He declined to reply to a question on the channel’s use of “President Trump” for Trump.

    Allysia Britton, a news producer, said she was one of more than a dozen employees who had left OAN in the wake of the Capitol riot. She criticized some of what the channel had reported, saying it was not up to journalistic standards.

    “Many people have raised concerns,” Britton said in an interview. “And the thing is, when people speak up about anything, you will get in trouble.”

    Charles Herring confirmed that about a dozen OAN workers had left in recent months, saying many of them were not high-level employees.

    Assignments that the elder Herring takes a special interest in are known among OAN staff as “H stories,” several current and former employees said. The day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Herring instructed OAN employees in an email, which The New York Times reviewed, to “report all the things Antifa did yesterday.”

    Some “H stories” are reported by Kristian Rouz, an OAN correspondent who had written for Sputnik, a site backed by the Russian government. In a report in May on the pandemic, Rouz said COVID-19 might have started as a “globalist conspiracy to establish sweeping population control,” one that had ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates, and “the deep state.”

    Britton, the former OAN producer, recalled checking a website that Rouz had cited to back some of his reporting. “It literally took me to this chat room where it’s just conservatives commenting toward each other,” she said.

    In an email to staff last month, Oakley, the news director, warned producers against ignoring or playing down Rouz’s work. “His stories should be considered ‘H stories’ and treated as such,” she wrote in the email, which the Times reviewed. “These stories are often slugged and copy-edited by ME as per Mr. H’s instructions.”

    OAN’s online audience is significant, with nearly 1.5 million subscribers to its YouTube channel. One of its most popular videos, with about 1.5 million views since it went online Nov. 24, criticized Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology company whose equipment was used in more than two dozen states last year, including several won by Trump. Hosted by the OAN White House correspondent, Chanel Rion, the video shows a man who said he had infiltrated Dominion and heard company executives say they would “make sure” Trump lost.

    Dominion has sued Fox News and two of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, accusing them of making or promoting defamatory claims. A lawyer for Dominion, who did not reply to requests for comment, has said the company is considering further legal action.

    Golingan, the producer, said some OAN employees had hoped Dominion would sue the channel. “A lot of people said, ‘This is insane, and maybe if they sue us, we’ll stop putting stories like this out,’” he said.

    Weeks after Dominion filed its first defamation suits, OAN broadcast a two-hour video in which the chief executive of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, made his case that widespread voter fraud had occurred. YouTube removed the video the day it was posted, saying it violated the platform’s election integrity policy. Last month, an OAN report described Dominion’s “voting machines” as “notorious.”

    Two of the current and former employees interviewed for this article — Dan Ball, a talk-show host, and Neil McCabe, a former reporter — described OAN’s coverage as unbiased. McCabe, who now writes for The Tennessee Star, said the network gave a “voice to people that are just not covered.”

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/one-america-news-network-stays-144956696.html

    Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd

    1

    Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday on all counts against him in the killing of George Floyd, nearly one year after kneeling on Floyd’s neck in an incident that sparked global protests against police brutality.

    [Click here for live updates on the verdict.]

    After less than 24 hours of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts against Chauvin, finding him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd on May 25, 2020.

    Under Minnesota law, Chauvin can appeal his conviction after the court enters the judgment and he receives his sentence. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said sentencing will take place in eight weeks. Chauvin’s bail was revoked and he was remanded to custody.

    Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is handcuffed to be led away after a jury found him guilty of all charges in his trial for second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. April 20, 2021 in a still image from video.  Court TV/Pool via Reuters)
    Derek Chauvin is handcuffed to be led away on Tuesday after a jury found him guilty of all charges in the death of George Floyd. (Court TV/Pool via Reuters)

    Chauvin was accused of murdering Floyd by keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck — depriving Floyd of oxygen — during an arrest. Over the course of the 14-day trial, jurors heard from more than 40 witnesses from both the state and Chauvin’s defense team and viewed video footage from the incident, including that filmed by police body cameras.

    Prosecutors argued throughout the trial that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck despite Floyd’s cries for help and acted against Minneapolis Police Department policies when he restrained Floyd — an assertion that was supported by several high-ranking police officials who testified that Chauvin’s conduct was unnecessary and excessive.

    “On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin put his knees upon [Floyd’s] neck and back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath, the very life, was squeezed out of him,” prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell told jurors on the first day of the trial. “You will learn what happened in that nine minutes and 29 seconds, the most important numbers you will hear at this trial.”

    Derek Chauvin and George Floyd. (Via Facebook (2))
    Derek Chauvin and George Floyd. (Via Facebook (2))

    Medical experts testified for the state that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen in his body, with one expert saying his breathing was restricted so severely that it was almost as if his lung were removed.

    Jurors also heard emotional testimony from the bystanders who witnessed Floyd’s death outside the Cup Foods convenience store and from people who knew Floyd, including his girlfriend, Courteney Batay Ross, and his brother, Philonise Floyd.

    Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that Floyd died from multiple causes, not solely from Chauvin’s actions. Floyd had underlying heart disease and hypertension, Nelson said, and also had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, according to the autopsy from the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office. One medical expert for the defense said he wouldn’t classify Floyd’s death as a homicide, opting to instead deem it “undetermined,” due to the contributing factors in Floyd’s death.

    A person reacts after the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in the death of George Floyd, in front of Hennepin County Government Center, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., April 20, 2021. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
    A person reacts after the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in the death of George Floyd, in front of Hennepin County Government Center, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., April 20, 2021. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

    Nelson also argued that Floyd was combative and resistant when police tried to apprehend him. Video shows that Floyd refused to get into the back of the police vehicle before officers pinned him to the ground. Besides Floyd’s resistance, Nelson said, there was an angry crowd of bystanders that was growing more hostile during the incident.

    “So what does Chauvin see?” Nelson said, attempting to put jurors in his client’s shoes. “He sees Officer [J. Alexander] Kueng and Officer [Thomas] Lane struggling with Mr. Floyd, attempting to put him into the car. A reasonable police officer is observing this with his eyes and his ears and assessing what he sees pursuant to policy. And what he sees at a minimum is active resistance. Mr. Floyd’s not just simply getting in the backseat of the car.”

    With everyone from Floyd’s family to the White House watching, Chauvin’s trial had high stakes for the country, due to the immense impact last year of Floyd’s death.

    Derek Chauvin is seen as the verdict is read in his trial for the killing of George Floyd on April 20, 2021. (Court TV via Reuters Video)
    Derek Chauvin is seen as the verdict is read in his trial for the killing of George Floyd on April 20, 2021. (Court TV via Reuters Video)

    During the trial, police departments prepared for potential unrest after the verdict, some of which has already occurred in the wake of other, recent killings at the hands of police. It remains to be seen if the verdict will lead to more demonstrations.

    The jury’s verdict might not be the end of the Chauvin case. Nelson raised multiple objections before and throughout the trial that could form the basis of a strong appeal, according to David Schultz, a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and professor at Hamline University.

    “I am convinced that if there’s a guilty verdict, the defense has laid the groundwork for an appeal on the argument of saying that it was impossible to get a fair trial in this atmosphere,” Schultz told Yahoo News before the verdict.

    “Even before jury selection starts, you’ve got the request for a change of venue,” he continued. “You’ve got the intensity of the coverage. You’ve got the concerns [that], perhaps that if a jury acquits, are there going to be riots? Then we throw in the Minneapolis settlement with the Floyd family. The [Daunte Wright] shooting, Rep. Maxine Waters’s comments.”

    Waters, D-Calif., attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Brooklyn Center, Minn., this past weekend and said that activists should “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is not convicted of murder, Yahoo News’ Marquise Francis reported.

    “I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,” Waters said Saturday in response to a reporter’s question. “And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

    Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., talks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, as she waits for the verdict to be read in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
    Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., talks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, as she waits for the verdict to be read in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

    Nelson flagged the comments Monday as he asked Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill for a mistrial. Cahill denied that request but acknowledged that Waters’s comments were inappropriate.

    “Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill said.

    MyPillow guy countersuing Dominion for $1.6 billion, and his 'free speech' site launch is … weird

    1

    Okay, so MyPillow guy Mike Lindell’s new site, Frankspeech.com, isn’t working quite yet. It was supposed to launch days ago, but if you go there right now (as of this writing, that is), you’ll see Lindell fielding a series of prank phone calls and interviewing Ted Nugent. No apparent social-media-ing going on yet. (According to Lindell, “Frank Speech was attacked this morning,” and so it can’t yet be used. But he promises to stream insane video of himself and other kooks for the next 48 hours.)

    By the time you read this, maybe Lindell will have found a way to expunge the pranksters’ free speech from the free speech site, and perhaps Randy Quaid will show up with absolute proof that 20 million uncounted Trump votes were squirreled away in a Frankfurt, Germany, frogurt machine back in November.

    But that’s burying the lede, because Lindell also announced today that he—or, rather, his company MyPillow—is suing Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion, which is, oddly, more than the amount Dominion sued him for in response to his serial election lies.

    From Insider:

    The suit appears to be a counterattack after Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against both the company and its Lindell in February.

    MyPillow has now sued Dominion for $1.6 billion, Lindell announced in a livestream on his social-media site Frank on Monday.

    “This is all about the first amendment rights and free speech,” Lindell said.

    Well, it’s not about First Amendment rights, because the government never sent a SWAT team to his house to keep him from saying stupid shit that would almost certainly get him sued. They’d have been doing him a favor if they had, but they clearly never did.

    And it’s hard to say it’s about “free speech” when Frankspeech.com doesn’t allow users to cuss or use the Lord’s name in vain. I mean, Jesus F. Christ on a Chicken in a Biskit, what the fuck is wrong with this gonorrheal rhino choad?

    So I guess it’ll be the Wild West when it comes to spreading provably false election conspiracy theories that goad dumbfucks into participating in violent insurrections, but don’t say “Mike Lindell is a gormless, rancid shart on the underpants of the cosmos” or you’ll be bounced. From the free speech site.

    Of course, I’m not the only one who views the lack of profanity with a jaundiced eye. This guy, who was presumably looking forward to the Frankspeech.com launch, is giving it a hard pass:

    x

    Warning: He uses the word “gay” in an offensive way during his diatribe, but I cut off the transcript prior to that.

    BRENDEN DILLEY: “Mike came out yesterday and he equated curse words to pornography. Dude, you lost me, bro. I don’t know what your agenda was, I don’t know what you were trying to attract, but the second you said … you called it a free speech platform and then you said that you’re not going to allow curse words because you equated them to pornography. You fucking lost me. Enjoy your dorky-ass social media platform, bro. Sorry, I don’t know what to tell you. Fucking nerds will hang out there.”

    I give Frankspeech.com about two months. That is, if he ever actually launches it.

    x

    If it’s just videos of Mike taking prank calls and talking to Ted Nugent for the rest of eternity, I have a feeling it won’t take off the way Mike thinks it will. But it will be vastly more entertaining than whatever it is he’s planned.

    ”This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry.” — Bette Midler on author Aldous J. Pennyfarthing via TwitterNeed a thorough Trump cleanse? Thanks to Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, Dear F*cking Lunatic, Dear Pr*sident A**clown and Dear F*cking Moron, you can purge the Trump years from your soul sans the existential dread. Only laughs from here on out. Click those links, yo!

    I'm just plain sick and tired of people, the selfish ones anyway.

    1

    I got the bike out for a bit of a back road run as I’ve not been on one in a bit (apart from an occasional dirt bike ride — yes, at 61 I still ride off road). We’re heading south for a bit of riding in the hills of North Carolina soon. I wanted to flex my muscles with some panic stop and swerving practice before letting SWG on the back. i put on my gear and realized I didn’t have my cell phone.  Meh, I won’t need it.

    I head out and do some riding down back roads where I know I can slam on the anchors and do a bit of abrupt weaving to retrain that reptilian portion of the brain to just react automatically to the presence of danger ahead or behind,  I make a petrol stop, then point it back toward the barn. I get to an intersection on a fairly busy divided four lane where I need to turn left and home is just a few minutes away. I get into the left turn lane just as the light turns green for the stretch I’m on. There’s a jeep in the right lane that isn’t moving. He’s more or less in the intersection, hazards lights on. I get my bike onto the shoulder so I’m not blocking the lane. Cars are zooming past the Jeep. I figure  he must be having mechanical troubles.   I figure I’ll give him a push to get him out of the way of traffic. I run over to him when there’s clearing and he doesn’t know I’m there. I tap on the window. He can’t roll it down and looks confused. Finally he opens the door and I ask him if he needs help.

    On the way to him I noted he’s got a US Army emblem on the spare tire cover. He’s an older fellow, probably a veteran by the tire cover. He seemed rather confused and bewildered. He said it wouldn’t start. I suggested he put it in neutral and I’ll push him out of the way. The light has turned red, so I don’t feel like a target. Yet. People are staring, but no one offers to help. He tells me it won’t go into neutral (automatic transmission) and he fumbles with the start button. The Jeep is fairly new and doesn’t require a key in the ignition so that can’t be turned to unlock the gear selector.

    The light for the cross street is changing to yellow and I’m not feeling good about any of this. He’s fumbling with the start button again. I ask if he’s got a cell phone and he says yes. I suggest he summon a wrecker. He continues to do nothing productive. The cross street light has just turned red, so I hoof it back to my bike. People are glaring at both of us now. One stupid ass honks at him. “HIS GODDAM JEEP WON’T START!” She just glares at me. I get back to the bike and a truck slows down, rolls his window down a bit and asks ME if I’m alright. I tell him the poor old man’s Jeep won’t start. He drives off. The light cycles through a couple of times. There’s a store around the corner so I head there, closed as it’s fucking Sunday. I head home to get my phone and my truck with jumper cables,  a can of petrol, and tow strap. A friend and his kids are riding on my property so I get him to come with me. By the time we get back the Jeep is gone, thankfully.

    I’m so glad that most people are too damn busy twiddling their gonads to offer another person anything more than a blast from their horn and a dirty look.
    The majority of the human race seem to be selfish fucking pricks when they’re caged up in their shiny metal boxes. 

    Oh, right, thank you for your service old fellow.  I hope you made it home safe.   No one else seemed to give a shit.  

    <edit>

    Whoa!  I really expected this one to  fall to the bottom of the page and then off into oblivion.  Thanks for all the replies and the recs.   

    Florida Republicans are about to pass a bunch of ghastly evil laws and no one's paying attention

    3

    Eager to clamp down on power and rile up their evermore extreme right-wing base, Republican legislators have spent the first four months of 2021 passing one egregiously bigoted and short-sighted bill after another.

    For the most part, GOP state legislatures have each prioritized one signature initiative. Many have seized on an abject lie to push extreme voter suppression laws, others have stoked culture wars with attacks on trans people, and still others have gone the tried and true route of further collapsing the social safety net.

    Florida Republicans, ever the ambitious bunch, are in the midst of pursuing all of the above.

    Over the past few weeks, they have floated and in some cases passed legislation to advance malicious policies that, taken together, are designed to hurt anyone that isn’t a wealthy white person:

    • Restrictive voting policies that make it far harder to vote by mail.
    • An attack on teachers’ unions.
    • Blockades on unemployment benefits.
    • The criminalization of protesting.
    • And a bill that would not only ban trans kids from participating in girls’ high school sports, but would subject students to “genital inspections” that one Democratic lawmaker has likened to “state-sanctioned sexual assault.”

    That last one is no misprint or copy error — HB 1475, which passed the Florida House late last week, would subject kids suspected of being trans to invasive examinations regulated by the state board of education, which happens to be chaired by the father of the bill’s lead sponsor, state Rep. Kaylee Tuck.

    As we’ve documented here over the past few months, the Florida Democratic Party has been in disarray for a while now, and its recent run of losses has only emboldened Republicans in the state to tack further to the right. But there is also a new generation of young progressive leaders who are presenting a more vigorous and principled opposition to these GOP policies, including Rep. Anna Eskamani, who we spoke with last month about her work to rebuild the party. Rep. Carlos Smith, another member of that young progressive clique, has also been sounding the alarms about the GOP assaults on Floridians over the past few weeks.

    I spoke yesterday with Smith, the first LGBTQ Latinx legislator in Florida history, about the most egregious of these policies, the politics behind them, what brought the state to this point, and what Democrats are doing to stop them. Consider this the opposite of last week’s report on New York’s big victories.

    The House passed HB 1475, the bill that would ban trans kids from girls’ sports, this week. Can you explain to me what’s in the bill and how this happened? Was this a long-simmering “issue” finally bubbling over or are Republicans just jumping on a national trend?

    This legislation is absurd. It targets the most vulnerable youth in our schools, transgender children, and it’s totally unnecessary. Trans kids have been playing in team sports in Florida openly since 2013 thanks to the FHSAA — the Florida High School Athletic Association, which adopted guidelines to allow trans students to participate. We have not heard any problems whatsoever, no one has complained — not one parent, student, teacher, or anyone else has ever had a problem with trans kids competing in team sports.

    The bill is politically motivated. It is meant to feed red meat to a base of Republican voters who want to make an issue out of this. And unfortunately, our most vulnerable kids, transgender children in our schools, have to pay the price. It’s wrong and we can still kill it because the Florida Senate has not yet taken up the bill on the floor. They’re taking it up in the Senate Rules Committee next week. You don’t have to be transgender, or have a transgender child, or know someone even who is transgender to speak out against this.

    What is the deal with the genital examinations? Are they really going to pursue that?

    It’s an inappropriate invasion of a child’s privacy. The bill basically says that if someone wants to dispute a child’s gender, then the way that the child will prove their gender is through checking their reproductive anatomy or submitting themselves to invasive hormonal tests of testosterone levels.

    First of all, let’s just acknowledge how absurd the idea of disputing a child’s gender is, which is what this bill basically creates a process for. It could be a parent, it could be a mean girl who’s a classmate and wants to weaponize the process of disputing a student’s gender to humiliate either a trans classmate or even a cis classmate. Just imagine how humiliating that would be for any child. Like “Hey, they don’t believe that you’re a girl, so unfortunately, we’re gonna have to go to the doctor to prove that.” It’s totally asinine and it will inflict real damage on the mental health of these vulnerable kids who are impacted.

    Republican supporters of the bill offered absolutely zero defense of this provision in the proposal. We have not heard any comments on the record defending the genital inspection requirements for a child whose gender is disputed in this bill. That’s been their approach all along because Republicans can’t defend the indefensible. We filed 19 amendments on the House floor to draw attention to and remove some of the most egregious provisions of the bill, including the section around genital inspection.

    When Rep. [Michele] Rayner presented her amendment to remove the gender inspection portions of the bill, not one Republican stood up and argued against its removal. No one stood up to say “you should not do this, we need to keep this in the bill, we need to insist on genital inspections of children.” But their votes said everything we needed to know — every single Republican voted against Rep. Rayner’s proposal to remove the genital inspection. And they offered absolutely no comment and defense because they can’t defend the indefensible.

    x

    Is this something Gov. DeSantis wants to sign? Has he encouraged it?

    Governor DeSantis has not made any comments publicly about the bill that I’m aware of, but we believe very strongly, and with lots of good reasons, that the governor will sign it. We’re also going to face economic consequences if we move forward, because the NCAA has basically threatened to not hold their championships in states where these types of discriminatory laws have passed. They have issued public statements saying that they are watching these anti-trans athletic bills and that states that adopt them are risking their ability to host NCAA championships in their state because they would not be aligned with their non-discrimination policy of the NCAA.

    That is $75 million of economic activity that Florida would lose from NCAA championships because they have events scheduled in Florida over the next five years that are basically on the line. And what’s sad is that we heard a statement from the Speaker of the House, Chris Brown, after the bill passed, asking him to respond to the NCAA’s position. His response was, “I could care less.” He basically said the Republican Party was not going to succumb to “corporate bullying” in a way that would influence their policy agenda.

    It’s just appalling to see that the place where Republicans draw the line, where they will no longer listen to their corporate overlords, is when they demand for trans kids to be treated with dignity and respect.

    You mentioned the tax breaks at the expense of social services. I know the unemployment system has been a disaster, denying many people benefits. Has there been a fix there?

    Florida has unequivocally the worst unemployment system in the country. We saw that happen when the pandemic hit and millions of Floridians applied for unemployment benefits and were hung out to dry because the system crashed. They were excluded from qualification. Sure, there were many states that struggled with just the volume of applicants because of the economic consequences of the pandemic. But nowhere was it worse than Florida

    Florida also has one of the most restrictive qualification standards for unemployment. Let’s say you’re a gig worker, you’re not eligible to receive unemployment benefits in Florida versus in other states that you are. We also have one of the lowest weekly benefits for unemployment in the country, $275. And one of the shortest the length of time to collect unemployment benefits, a 12-week benefit.

    Governor DeSantis made headlines when he said he thought the $275 weekly benefit was “fine” and that he wanted people to get back to work, which is just insulting, considering everything that he put unemployment claimants applicants through in the past year. So what they’re doing is they’re throwing money at fixing the broken website that Republicans asked for.

    I know the website has long been flawed. How did this system become such a disaster?

    So in 2011, a new unemployment reform was rammed through with their intent being to exclude as many people as possible from being able to claim benefits. That way they could keep the business unemployment insurance tax low. So that was the justification for all of this. And one of the ways that they kept people from claiming benefits was they cut off and terminated the call center where you could file your unemployment claim.

    So you were only able to apply for unemployment benefits online and that online system was not designed to handle any sort of capacity really whatsoever, so the system crashed. And it crashed by design because that was the website that the legislature intentionally asked for. So that’s a long way of just saying, so what have we done this session to fix all of this? Well, they’ve thrown a bunch of money into fixing the website that they asked for, but not one penny of the taxpayer money we are investing to fix the broken website is actually going in the pockets of unemployment claimants or expanding benefits.

    When the pandemic hit, they had to contract out several call centers. And some of these contracts were terminated, some of them were extended, it’s been all over the place.

    And the big budget surplus coming thanks to the stimulus isn’t going to unemployed or otherwise struggling people either, right?

    This is just again, a budget that rewards giant corporations at the expense of working people. We’ve not seen any direct relief for the millions of Floridians who were pushed into poverty due to COVID. We’ve not even seen any direct relief for the small businesses that have been impacted by COVID. In this budget, we received $10.3 billion from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. And yet they’ve decided that they want to spend the majority of those resources on fixing leaky state buildings rather than actually helping Floridians who need it.

    So I have to ask, for all these awful and publicly unpopular policies being pursued by Republicans, they’re winning elections by wider margins and picking up seats. What’s the disconnect? How do Democrats pin this on them and make the case that they can do better?

    People need to see Democrats standing up and fighting for their values. They need to see Democrats standing up and fighting for pocketbook issues. That’s why we — people like myself and Anna [Eskamani] — were so aggressive for many years and advocating for increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, expanding Medicaid, making sure that we address the affordable housing crisis so that working-class people can have the money that they need to put food on the table. These are the types of things that we need to push really, really hard for, and be loud about because they have such a substantial, direct impact on the lives of working people.

    Last question — the Matt Gaetz scandal, through Joel Greenberg, seems like it could engulf a lot of Republicans in Florida, including Ron DeSantis. What do you expect to happen there?

    The web of corruption that Matt Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, and Frank DeSantis are all wrapped up in is really a web that appears to tie up the entire Republican Party of Florida. It seems like everyone in the Capitol is nervous about what the next revelation is going to be and who else is implicated in this sweeping saga of corruption that they’ve been a part of for so long. This is what happens when any particular party is allowed to stay in power for as long as Florida Republicans have. It’s not only about corruption, but they just get sloppy, they get lazy, and they get messy and arrogant. And I think that that’s how Matt Gaetz got in trouble — he got arrogant.

    Note: This is an excerpt from today’s edition of my newsletter, Progressives Everywhere. Every week, I send deep dives and big features with original reporting. Recent stories include an inside look at the gun control movement’s new strategy, interviews with top progressive lawmakers, and experts talking about voter suppression in different statesthe gig economy, and Democratic victories. I also spotlight groups that are helping build progressive election power and retake red states. We’ve raised over $6 million for candidates and causes and your help is crucial. Every sign-up helps me keep the reporting going and helps me raise money for progressive candidates and causes.

    The weekly post are free! You can subscribe to the newsletter here!