August 12, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:09 PM

NO ONE FLIES AEROFLOT:

Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile blows up, creating "mini-Chernobyl" (SEAN GALLAGHER - 8/12/2019, Ars Technica)

On August 8, during testing aboard a barge in the White Sea near Nyonoksa, Russia, the nuclear engine of an experimental nuclear-armed cruise missile exploded, killing two technicians and injuring six others. On August 11, officials of the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom acknowledged that five employees had died in the explosion of what they described as "an isotopic power source for a liquid engine installation." The head of the nuclear research center, Valentin Kostyukov, called the five "national heroes."

As of today, it is believed that the death toll has risen to seven. The victims were described as suffering from burns, and most were thrown into the sea by the explosion; they all likely suffered from radiation burns.

The nuclear-powered cruise-missile program was announced by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin on March 1, 2018, during an address to the Federal Assembly. Putin described the weapon as a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile with essentially unlimited range, intended to defeat any ballistic missile defenses deployed by the United States.

They are a threat only to themselves.

Posted by orrinj at 5:44 PM

AMERICANS VS TRUMPBOTS:


Posted by orrinj at 4:44 PM

NO PRESIDENT HAS EVER IMPOSED MORE REGULATIONS:


Posted by orrinj at 4:30 PM

ACCORDING TO THE TRUMPBOTS IT'S JUST SELF-DEFENSE:

Charlottesville Victim Heather Heyer Was Not Included in FBI's Hate Crime Registry (Matt Clibanoff, August 12th, 2019, Law & Crime)

On August 12, 2017, neo-Nazi James Fields, 22 drove his car through a group of protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring more than two dozen. Strangely, however, despite the fact that Fields was convicted on 29 federal hate crime charges, Heather Heyer, 32, the woman he killed, was not included in the FBI's registry of hate crime victims for 2017.

Opposing the racists is the real crime.

Posted by orrinj at 1:48 PM

MISOGYNY IS RIGHTWING IDEOLOGY:

Did a Far-Right Star Recruit Jacob Wohl to Terrorize Women? (Will Sommer,  08.12.19, Daily Beast)

A perennial House candidate's alleged harassment of his ex-girlfriend has gone so far that he apparently hired notorious conservative operative Jacob Wohl to pressure her and a former campaign worker, according to text messages and a recording reviewed by The Daily Beast.

Wohl is best known for his blundering, often comical attempts at political trickery, including failed schemes to concoct bogus sexual-assault allegations against former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg. But text messages from a phone number belonging to Wohl suggest that the 21-year-old hoaxer has branched out into making death threats on behalf of his political allies, telling one woman he would "torture you so much that you end up killing yourself."

Posted by orrinj at 12:21 PM

LAUGHINGBUMPSTOCK:

The Shame and Disgrace Will Linger (David Frum, 8/10/19,  The Atlantic)

Reactions to actions by Trump are always filtered through the prism of the ever more widely accepted view--within his administration, within Congress, within the United States, and around the world--that the 45th president is a reckless buffoon; a conspiratorial, racist moron, whose weird comments should be disregarded by sensible people.

By now, Trump's party in Congress, the members of his Cabinet, and even his White House entourage all tacitly agree that Trump's occupancy of the office held by Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and Eisenhower must be a bizarre cosmic joke, not to be taken seriously. CNN's Jake Tapper on August 2 quoted a "senior national security official" as saying: "Everyone at this point ignores what the president says and just does their job. The American people should take some measure of confidence in that."

So even though Trump just retweeted the comedian Terrence K. Williams accusing the Clinton family of murder, the people who work for Trump may ignore that, too. They know that the president punching the retweet button like an addled retiree playing the slots through a fog of painkillers means nothing. The days of "taking Trump seriously, not literally" have long since passed. By this point, Trump is taken neither seriously nor literally. His words are as worthless as Trump Organization IOUs.

But cosmic joke or no cosmic joke, Donald Trump is the president of the United States. You may not like it. I don't like it. Mike Pompeo doesn't like it. Mitch McConnell doesn't like it. Kevin McCarthy doesn't like it. But it's still a fact, and each succeeding outrage makes it no less a fact. Grinning and flashing a thumbs-up over an orphaned baby? Yes, still president. Tweeting that a third-tier dictator has threatened him with more missile tests unless he halts military exercises with a U.S. ally----and that he has surrendered to that blackmail? Shamefully, still president. Accusing a former U.S. president of murder? It's incredible, it's appalling, it's humiliating ... but, yes, he is the president all the same.

Posted by orrinj at 12:19 PM

EXCEPT, OF COURSE, THAT THEY ARE THE MINORITY:


Posted by orrinj at 12:16 PM

FORGET THEM CALLING US AN APARTHEID STATE; WE HAVE TO BE AN APARTHEID STATE:

Right-wing MKs to congresspeople: 2-state solution 'far more dangerous' than BDS (RAPHAEL AHREN, 8/12/19, Times of Israel)

A group of right-wing lawmakers, including two deputy ministers, sent a letter on Monday to four US lawmakers warning that calls for a two-state solution are "far more dangerous to Israel" than efforts to boycott the Jewish state and urging them to refrain from such appeals in the future.

Posted by orrinj at 12:11 PM

WELL, IT DOES LOOK LIKE ROSS PEROT:

Texas Republicans brace for 2020 drubbing: 'Republicans need to be very concerned,' says a GOP member of the state's congressional delegation of next year's elections. (MELANIE ZANONA and LAURA BARRÓN-LÓPEZ, 08/12/2019, Politico)

As bad as it's been for Texas Republicans lately, some members of the party are warning that 2020 could be even worse.

The rash of recent House GOP retirements is just the latest sign of a state party in distress: In last year's midterms, Democrats flipped a pair of longtime GOP districts, a Democrat came within striking distance of a Senate seat, and more than 50 elected Republican judges lost their jobs. Democrats also gained ground in state legislative races.

Changing demographics and a suburban revolt against President Donald Trump have turned Texas from a conservative bedrock to a major political battleground, especially for House seats. Once-safe congressional Republicans are facing competitive races for the first time in their careers -- a potential harbinger of the GOP's future in the state if they don't adapt quickly.

"If the Republican Party in Texas doesn't start looking like Texas, there won't be a Republican Party in Texas," retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who represents a key swing district, told POLITICO. Texas' Latinos are on pace to become the largest population group in the state by 2022.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM

REALIZING THE CHARTER:

Liberal Zionists, Face the Facts: There's Already Only One State From the River to the Sea (Joshua Shanes, Aug 12, 2019, Ha'aretz)

Israel last week advanced plans to build over 2,000 more homes for Jews throughout the West Bank, many well beyond the current settlement blocks. Some of them will be in outposts even Israel considered illegal, which - in a familiar pattern - will now be rendered retroactively "legal."

The government has reaffirmed that every settlement scattered throughout the entire occupied West Bank are part of Israel. "We will deepen our roots in our homeland, in all of its parts," Netanyahu recently stated. "No settlement or settler will be uprooted...That is over...What you're doing here is forever." 

In short, the West Bank is effectively annexed for Jews, even as there remains a military occupation for Palestinians.

The government has openly disavowed any two-state solution, declared its ever-growing settlements to be an integrated part of Israel, allowed polling stations throughout the West Bank (for decades), appropriated public and private Palestinian land for access roads that effectively erase the Green Line for Jews, and much more.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

HIS ISLAMOPHOBIA IS HIS SOLE QUALIFICATION:

The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism (Jo Becker, Aug. 10th, 2019, NY Times)

A New York Times examination of its content, personnel and traffic patterns illustrates how foreign state and nonstate actors have helped to give viral momentum to a clutch of Swedish far-right websites.

Russian and Western entities that traffic in disinformation, including an Islamaphobic think tank whose former chairman is now Mr. Trump's national security adviser, have been crucial linkers to the Swedish sites, helping to spread their message to susceptible Swedes.

At least six Swedish sites have received financial backing through advertising revenue from a Russian- and Ukrainian-owned auto-parts business based in Berlin, whose online sales network oddly contains buried digital links to a range of far-right and other socially divisive content.

Writers and editors for the Swedish sites have been befriended by the Kremlin. And in one strange Rube Goldbergian chain of events, a frequent German contributor to one Swedish site has been implicated in the financing of a bombing in Ukraine, in a suspected Russian false-flag operation.

The distorted view of Sweden pumped out by this disinformation machine has been used, in turn, by anti-immigrant parties in Britain, Germany, Italy and elsewhere to stir xenophobia and gin up votes, according to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based nonprofit that tracks the online spread of far-right extremism.

"I'd put Sweden up there with the anti-Soros campaign," said Chloe Colliver, a researcher for the institute, referring to anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros, the billionaire benefactor of liberal causes. "It's become an enduring centerpiece of the far-right conversation." [...]


There is another curious Russian common denominator: Six of Sweden's alt-right sites have drawn advertising revenue from a network of online auto-parts stores based in Germany and owned by four businessmen from Russia and Ukraine, three of whom have adopted German-sounding surnames.

The ads were first noticed by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, which discovered that while they appeared to be for a variety of outlets, all traced back to the same Berlin address and were owned by a parent company, Autodoc GmbH.

The Times found that the company had also placed ads on anti-Semitic and other extremist sites in Germany, Hungary, Austria and elsewhere in Europe.

Which raised a question: Was the auto-parts dealer simply trying to drum up business, or was it also trying to support the far-right cause?

Rikard Lindholm, co-founder of a data-driven marketing firm who has worked with Swedish authorities to combat disinformation, dug deeper into the Autodoc network.

Hidden beneath the user-friendly interface of some of the earliest Autodoc sites lay what Mr. Lindholm, an expert in the forensic analysis of online traffic, described as "icebergs" of blog-like content completely unrelated to auto parts, translated into a variety of languages. A visitor to one of the car-parts sites could not simply access this content from the home page; instead, one had to know and type in the full URL.

"It's like they have a back door and it's open and you can have a look around, but to do that you have to know that the door is there," Mr. Lindholm said.

Much of the content was not political. But there were links to posts about a range of divisive social issues, some of them translated into other languages. One hidden link -- about female genital mutilation in Muslim countries -- had been translated from English to Polish before being posted. Yet another post, from a site called AnsweringIslam.net, concluded, "Islam hates you."

Thomas Casper, a spokesman for Autodoc, said the company had no "interest at all in supporting alt-right media," and added, "We vehemently oppose racism and far-right principles."

He said the company's digital advertising team worked with third parties to place ads on "trusted websites with substantial traffic." Autodoc, he said, had instituted controls to try to ensure that it no longer advertised on far-right sites.

Autodocs has advertised on far-right sites in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, including this Hungarian site which has a section devoted to Holocaust denialism.

As for the icebergs, after receiving The Times's inquiry, the company removed what Mr. Casper called the "obviously dubious and outdated content." It had originally been placed there, he said, to improve search engine optimization.

But Mr. Lindholm said that made no sense. "By linking to irrelevant content, it actually hurts their business because Google frowns on that," he said.

Another way to look inside the explosive growth of Sweden's alt-right outlets is to see who is linking to them. The more links, especially from well-trafficked outlets, the more likely Google is to rank the sites as authoritative. That, in turn, means that Swedes are more likely to see them when they search for, say, immigration and crime.

The Times analyzed more than 12 million available links from over 18,000 domains to four prominent far-right sites -- Nyheter Idag, Samhallsnytt, Fria Tider and Nya Tider. The data was culled by Mr. Lindholm from two search engine optimization tools and represents a snapshot of all known links through July 2.

As expected, given the relative paucity of Swedish speakers worldwide, most of the links came from Swedish-language sites.

But the analysis turned up a surprising number of links from well-trafficked foreign-language sites -- which suggests that the Swedish sites' rapid growth has been driven to a significant degree from abroad.

"It has the makings, the characteristics, of an operation whose purpose or goal is to help these sites become relevant by getting them to be seen as widely as possible," Mr. Lindholm said.

Over all, more than one in five links were from non-Swedish language sites. English-language sites, along with Norwegian ones, linked the most, nearly a million times. But other European-language far-right sites -- Russian but also Czech, Danish, German, Finnish and Polish -- were also frequent linkers.

The Times identified 356 domains that linked to all four Swedish sites.

Many are well known in American far-right circles. Among them is the Gatestone Institute, a think tank whose site regularly stokes fears about Muslims in the United States and Europe. Its chairman until last year was John R. Bolton, now Mr. Trump's national security adviser, and its funders have included Rebekah Mercer, a prominent wealthy Trump supporter.



Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

THE COURAGE OF TRUMPBOT CONVICTIONS:

How the El Paso Killer Echoed the Incendiary Words of Conservative Media Stars (Jeremy W. Peters, Michael M. Grynbaum, Keith Collins, Rich Harris and Rumsey Taylor, Aug. 11, 2019, NY Times)

Tucker Carlson went on his prime-time Fox News show in April last year and told his viewers not to be fooled. The thousands of Central Americans on their way to the United States were "border jumpers," not refugees, he said. "Will anyone in power do anything to protect America this time," he asked, "or will leaders sit passively back as the invasion continues?"

When another group approached the border six months later, Ann Coulter, appearing as a guest on Jeanine Pirro's Fox News show, offered a dispassionately violent suggestion about what could be done to stem the flow of migrants: "You can shoot invaders."

A few days after, Rush Limbaugh issued a grim prognosis to his millions of radio listeners: If the immigrants from Central America weren't stopped, the United States would lose its identity. "The objective is to dilute and eventually eliminate or erase what is known as the distinct or unique American culture," Mr. Limbaugh said, adding: "This is why people call this an invasion."

There is a striking degree of overlap between the words of right-wing media personalities and the language used by the Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso this month. In a 2,300-word screed posted on the website 8chan, the killer wrote that he was "simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion."

If the Right's rhetoric is true then the shooters are National heroes.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

REPRESENT:

US athletes protest Trump on medals stand at Pan American Games (LUIS ANDRES HENAO, 8/12/19, AP)

Two US athletes have used their medal-winning moments at the Pan American Games to draw attention to social issues in their country that they feel are spiraling out of control.

During their medals ceremonies at the multi-sport event in Lima, fencer Race Imboden took a knee and hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist. Both athletes could represent the US less than a year from now at the Tokyo Olympics, where similar protests would be seen by a much wider audience.

"Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list" of America's problems, Imboden said in a tweet sent after his team's foil medals ceremony. "I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed.