June 5, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 2:41 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:16 PM


Trump campaign removes ad that violated NASA guidelines by showing astronauts (Rashaan Ayesh, 6/05/20, Axios)

NASA doesn't allow the likenesses of its astronauts to be used in advertisements, and an agency spokesperson told Bloomberg it was unaware of the video until it had been posted.

Karen Nyberg, a retired astronaut and Hurley's wife, tweeted, "I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong."

Posted by orrinj at 1:09 PM


The Three Levels of Corruption in the Buffalo Police Assault Video  (JONATHAN V. LAST,  JUNE 5, 2020, The Bulwark)

What we have here is a perfect distillation of the three levels of corruption that exist in law enforcement.

The first is the violence of the police themselves. In this incident they are in total control of the situation. I can count 28 law enforcement officers, all of them wearing armor of some sort and carrying weapons.

They are approached by an unarmed 75-year-old man. It is unreasonable for any of the officers in this situation to have felt as though they were in clear and present danger. But if they had felt threatened, they could have restrained him.

Instead, they assault him, shoving him backward violently. Go back and watch the video again. Listen to the sound the man's head makes at the 0:06 mark when it hits the ground. Look at the blood coming out of his ear. Watch how motionless his body is.

At best, this is a terrible accident by law enforcement officers who are not competent at their jobs. At worst, it is criminal assault.

The second level of corruption comes in the reaction of the officers who did not shove the old man. None of them rush to his side. None of them confront the perpetrators of the assault.

Instead, the first two actions we see from the other police are these:

(a) One of the officers who pushed the man seems surprised that he fell and makes a move to check on him. The officer behind him directs him to keep moving and leave the man alone.

(b) Other officers immediately move to clear witnesses out of the area. There appear to be two civilian witnesses who try to tell the police that the man on the ground is bleeding. One of the other officers says, "Grab these two guys right now."

These two witnesses put their hands in the air and offer no resistance. We see one of them handcuffed.

Another officer goes after the credentialed media present and orders them to leave the scene.

What you're seeing here is, in the immediate aftermath of police misconduct, a large number of officers working in a coordinated manner to cover it up and witnesses to the misconduct being detained for no discernible reason.

Which brings us to the third level of corruption: The press release.

Posted by orrinj at 12:40 PM


The Radically Inclusive Music of Ornette Coleman: a review of Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure by Maria Golia  (Josephine Livingstone, June 5, 2020, New Republic)

During Ornette Coleman's legendary 1959 run of shows at the Five Spot club in New York, there was a joke going around: "A waiter drops a trayload of drinks and a man says to his lady-friend, 'Listen honey, Ornette's playing our song.'" The punchline is a doozy, capturing the nightclub's dankness (capacity: 75; ambience: urine), the hype around Coleman's radical new sound, and the confrontational difficulty of his music.

The first night of that run, November 17, represented a turning point in American jazz. There were other bebop musicians playing with experimental forms in the 1950s, like John Coltrane and Miles Davis, but Coleman brought something wholly unexpected to his signature white plastic saxophone. His sound's arrival in New York made Coleman "an overnight underground sensation," Maria Golia writes in her new book, Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure.

He was the shock of the new. Before Coleman, "free jazz" was an eggheads' pursuit, so obscure that he and his band once had to bail out of a gig that was advertised as a "Free Jazz Concert," which a crowd had assumed meant no entrance fee. [...]

Golia clarifies that Coleman's atonality never diminished his jazz's "requisite virtuosity," although it could certainly sound bewildering. Instead it "proposed an alternative means for its expression." Collaboration and close listening among a practiced ensemble of musicians were essential to accomplishing a state of intimacy Coleman called "unison."

Describing the way Ornette Coleman's music sounds is a challenge, and Golia rounds up some delightful attempts by music critics past. "Eldritch wrongness" is a phrase from Brian Morton's obituary of Coleman for The Wire, describing the sinister sounds Morton thought were the result of Coleman's misapprehensions about musical theory as a child. Francis Davis wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in 1972 that, "Perhaps the trick of listening to his performances lies in an ability to hear rhythm as melody, the way he seems to do, and the way early jazz musicians did," which is genuinely helpful advice. In notes hastily written while "under the spell of a first discovery" of The Shape of Jazz to Come, Martin Williams wrote that "if you put a conventional chord under my note, you limit the number of choices I have for my next note; if you do not, my melody may move freely in a far greater choice of directions." For Williams, this innovation was an escape hatch for a musical form in stasis: "Someone had to break through the walls that those harmonies have built and restore melody."

Critics were as much in search of a language for the avant garde as for a summary of a record. Coleman resisted critical language, Golia notes, quoting his disdain for people who "don't trust their reactions to art or music unless there is a verbal explanation for it." Coleman had a gnomic way with words himself, however. "How do you turn emotion into knowledge? That's what I try to do with my horn," he once wrote. In the liner notes to Change of the Century (1960), he reminds us that "the only thing that matters is whether you feel it or not. You can't intellectualize music; to reduce it analytically is often is to reduce it to nothing very important."

Personally, I still don't get it.

Posted by orrinj at 12:28 PM


Nearly 70 Percent of Americans Disapprove of Trump's Handling of George Floyd's Death, New Poll Shows (MATTHEW IMPELLI, 6/5/20, Newsweek)

Close to 70 percent of Americans said they disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling the death of George Floyd, according to a new poll. [...]

Trump has faced a backlash to his response to Floyd's death and the ongoing demonstrations. After protesters damaged and looted areas across Minneapolis, Trump responded by tweeting, "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd."

During a recent press briefing, Trump also suggested that he would invoke the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy military troops to states that he thinks can't contain the protests. Following his suggestion, he faced opposition from several governors from such states as New York, Texas and Michigan, as well as Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said he did not support invoking the act.

Additionally, Trump was recently accused of allowing tear gas to be used to disperse protesters near the White House before he went across the street for what has been called a photo op at a church.

White bystanders armed with rifles watch Floyd protesters march in Indiana (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 06/05/2020)

Protesters in a rural Indiana city who took to the streets to condemn racism and police killings of black people encountered bystanders who were holding rifles during the demonstration.

A video that circulated on social media shows 21 people standing along a bike trail near downtown Crown Point, Indiana, watching protesters march past them Monday during a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism. Eight of the bystanders held firearms, an act Crown Point Police Chief Pete Land said is protected under state law. [...]

Cedric Caschetta, who attended the nearly three-hour protest said some people stood on the opposite side of the street where the protest began and tried to antagonize them. Caschetta, 20, said the opposition crowd shouted, "Get a job," "You don't belong here" and "You're the problem."

White Alabama Man Accused of Threatening to Shoot Birmingham Protesters, Police and Mayor in Racist 911 Call (CHANTAL DA SILVA, 6/5/20, Newsweek)

An Alabama man was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat on Wednesday evening, accused of threatening to shoot protesters, police and Birmingham's mayor over the city's decision to remove a Confederate statue.

Protest Leaders Largely Calm Amid Unrest as Police Violence Tests Mayors and Governors (MEGHAN ROOS, 6/5/20, Newsweek)

Sharpton's message came as many leaders around the country acknowledged the systemic racism that exists within local and state police departments. In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz on Tuesday announced an investigation into the last 10 years of policing policies and procedures at the Minneapolis Police Department. A former chief of the Minneapolis police told Newsweek Thursday systemic racism existed not just within the Minneapolis Police Department, but within law enforcement organizations across the U.S.

In Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer on Wednesday announced an official review of the Louisville Metro Police Department two days after the department's police chief was fired. The decision came on the heels of an exchange of gunfire between officers and protesters last week, during which one civilian was fatally shot. Earlier this year, Louisville police also gained national attention after the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her home. The shooting occurred as officers served Taylor a "no-knock warrant," a practice that Fischer said this week was suspended. [...]

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday the Los Angeles Police Department would also undergo a review for ways in which it could evolve its policies. Mayors in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Portland and several other cities made similar announcements this week, as former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review policing strategies and accept feedback from their communities.

As government leaders announced their intentions to address calls for reform, and as additional charges were brought against the officers involved in the incident that resulted in George Floyd's death, the violence seen in the early days of the protests began to wane, enabling many cities to lift curfews put in place to mitigate the damage caused during the demonstrations.

"I'm more hopeful today than ever," Sharpton said during his eulogy. "There is a time and a season, and when I looked this time, and saw marches where in some cases young whites outnumbered the blacks marching, I know that it's a different time and a different season."

Posted by orrinj at 8:40 AM


Why are white supremacists protesting the deaths of black people? (Matthew Valasik and Shannon Reid, 6/05/2020, The Conversation)

[O]ur research shows that many share the conspiracy belief that Western governments are corrupt and controlled by the New World Order, a cabal of wealthy Jewish elites. To them, wealthy Jewish investor and democracy advocate George Soros is the puppet master of the world economy.

William Luther Pierce's 1978 novel "The Turner Diaries," which has come to be known as "the bible of the racist right," lays out a plan to instigate a race war and bring about the federal government's collapse. The book has inspired violence from the far-right, most notably the 1995 bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

"Accelerationism" - the idea that inducing chaos, provoking law enforcement, and promoting political tension will hasten the collapse of Western government - has taken root among far-right groups. One such group, the "Boogaloo Bois," identified by their penchant for wearing Hawaiian shirts, has been observed at protests in Minnesota, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Oregon. As with any far-right movement, "Boogaloo Bois" groups are rather unstructured and have varied beliefs, lacking any hierarchical organization.

In Las Vegas, three "Boogaloo Bois" were arrested with firearms and a plan to incite violence during George Floyd protests. Social media posts and online chat groups have also shown them attempting to infiltrate other protests across the country.

Joining the crowds provides these groups an opportunity to discredit protesters by inciting looting, rioting, violence and vandalism - which they hope will spark like-minded white Americans to resist the civil disobedience of protesters. Already, there are roving bands of armed white counterprotesters at protests across America.

Other far-right extremists are talking on social media about the protests requiring a lot of police attention and see an opportunity to engage in targeted terror attacks. Their overall intention is the same: fanning flames to burn down the federal government, making room for them to establish a whites-only country.

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


Book Review: The Surprising Science of Walking: In Shane O'Mara's "In Praise of Walking," even the most mundane walk is rife with scientific and spiritual significance. (M.R. O'CONNOR, 06.05.2020, UnDark)

O'Mara, a professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College in Dublin, writes in straightforward prose, methodically presenting research and studies in support of his thesis that walking has not only been crucial to human evolution but is essential to our health. Studies show that regular walking mobilizes changes in the structure of our brain that can increase volume in the areas associated with learning and memory. He dedicates a chapter to the science behind human navigation and describes how the selective memories of our wanderings are central components of our experiences and ability to make "maps of the world we have experienced."

O'Mara argues that walking influences many aspects of cognition -- how we think, reason, remember, read, and write. In particular, there is a vital relationship between movement of the body and the flow of thinking. "Since antiquity it has been recognized that a good walk is an excellent way to think problems through," he writes.

The neural reasons for this relationship are only now being revealed through research that shows we have two main modes of thought: active mode and mind-wandering. It's the latter that walking can stimulate, allowing our minds to drift and "integrate our past, present, and future, interrogate our social lives, and create a largescale personal narrative."

Studies show that regular walking mobilizes changes in the structure of our brain that can increase volume in the areas associated with learning and memory.

Walking seems capable of shaking us out of old ruminations and opening up the possibility of new potential and patterns of thought. It sets our thoughts free, as O'Mara puts it. The ability to let our thoughts flow while sauntering through a landscape has been long appreciated by poets like Wordsworth. But it's only now that the scientific understanding of cognition in the wild -- meaning outside of the laboratory -- is catching up.

One of the pleasures of reading "In Praise of Walking" is that you may begin to recount the significant foot journeys of your past. I found myself recalling with renewed poignancy a roughly 55-mile walk from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel in Haiti that I only now recognize as a pivotal moment in my personal and professional life, or the regular strolls I have taken since I was a child across the cliffs of Howth in Ireland with multiple generations of my family. "Walking is holistic," writes O'Mara. "Every aspect of it aids every aspect of one's being."

Posted by orrinj at 8:18 AM


74% of Americans view George Floyd's death as an underlying racial injustice problem: POLL (Kendall Karson, June 5, 2020, ABC News)

Nearly three-fourths of Americans view the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer as a sign of an underlying racial injustice problem, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds, a significant shift from a similar question asked just six years ago.

Whenever you drill down on the numbers you get to that core of Donald's support that matches the number who think the Dreamers should be deported.

Posted by orrinj at 8:16 AM


'Antifa' Is Literally Never Mentioned in the First Prosecutions of Protest Violence (Spencer Ackerman, Jun. 05, 2020, Daily Beast)

[T]he early charges do not indicate that antifascist motivations have provoked the violent activity that the Trump administration and its allies have spent the better part of a week attributing to it. With Barr at the helm of the protest response, the administration has tasked the FBI's counterterrorism partnerships with state and local police, known as Joint Terrorism Task Forces, with finding "extremists" and "agitators" within the protest movement. 

"What it definitely demonstrates is that antifascism is not a driving force in the current protest violence," said Mike German, a retired FBI special agent who worked with the Los Angeles JTTF.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:13 AM


Trump Hints At Upcoming Pardon For Roger Stone (Emily Singer, June 05 | 2020, National Memo)

The Trump administration tried to intervene in the case, recommending leniency for Stone. The move by Attorney General William Barr to get involved in a case against one of Trump's allies caused some members of the Department of Justice to resign in protest.

The judge in the case disputed that Stone was the target of a witch hunt, as both Stone and Trump allege.

Posted by orrinj at 8:09 AM


German neo-Nazis trained at Russian camps: report (Deutsche-Welle, 6/05/20)

Right-wing extremists in Germany are participating in paramilitary training at a special camp near city of Saint Petersburg in Russia, German news magazine Focus reported Friday.

Members of the youth wing of Germany's extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD) and the minor right-wing party The Third Way have completed the training, the report said, citing German intelligence sources.

Posted by orrinj at 7:55 AM


Ukrainian prosecutors find no evidence against Hunter Biden (Reuters, 4 Jun 2020)

An audit of thousands of old case files by Ukrainian prosecutors found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Hunter Biden, the former prosecutor general, who had launched the audit, told Reuters.

Ruslan Ryaboshapka was in the spotlight last year as the man who would decide whether to launch an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in what became a key issue in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described Ryaboshapka as "100 percent my person" on a call in July 2019 in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, the man who became his main rival in the 2020 presidential race.

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


America is the greatest story ever told: Ancient narratives continue to shape the assumptions and ideals of the US (Tom Holland, 6/05/20, UnHerd)

This was the tradition that Martin Luther King, in the 1950s, employing his unrivalled mastery of the Bible and its cadences, invoked to rouse white pastors and their congregations from their moral slumbers. The day before his murder, he gave a sermon in which he declared himself ready to die in the cause of redeeming his people from the chains of the slavery into which their ancestors had been brought. "Like anybody," he told his listeners, "I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land."

The allusion, of course, was to Moses: the great prophet who, guided by God, had led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, and then, before he died, climbed Mount Nebo to gaze across at Canaan, the promised land he was destined never to enter. "I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."

Today, although Martin Luther King's people may remain stranded in the wilderness, the Bible no longer structures the dread and the dreamings of Americans in the way that once it did. The book which for King had been a supreme inspiration has chiefly played a role in the current crisis as a prop held upside down by President Trump. Yet the tracks of Christian theology, as Nietzsche once complained, wind everywhere.

"The measure of a man's compassion for the lowly and the suffering comes to be the measure of the loftiness of his soul." It was this -- the lesson taught by the redemption of the Children of Israel from slavery, and by the death of Christ on the cross -- that Nietzsche had always most despised about Christianity. Two millennia on, and the discovery made by Christ's earliest followers -- that to be a victim can be a source of power -- has brought thousands onto the streets of America and Britain alike.

Steeped in the language of intersectionality and postcolonial studies though the protests may be, the slogans derive ultimately from a much more venerable source. A dread of damnation, a yearning to be gathered into the ranks of the elect, a desperation to be cleansed of original sin, had long provided the surest and most fertile seedbed for the ideals of the American people. Repeatedly, over the course of their history, preachers had sought to awaken them to a sense of their guilt, and to offer them salvation. Now, in the wake of George Floyd's murder, there are summons to a similar awakening.

As minorities mass on the banks of the Jordan to attempt yet again to ford the river, white liberals -- often literally kneeling and raising their hands in prayer as they do so -- confess their sins and beg for absolution. Only through repentance, their conveners preach, is there any prospect of obtaining salvation. The activists, however, are not merely addressing those gathered before them. Their gaze, as the gaze of preachers in America has always been, right from the very first voyages of the Puritans across the Atlantic to New England, is fixed on the world beyond. Their summons is to sinners everywhere -- in London as in New York, in Amsterdam as in Los Angeles. Their ambition is to serve as a city on a hill.

Until justice rolls down like waters...
Posted by orrinj at 7:29 AM


Trump's hitting back hard at Republicans who dare criticize his failed Bible photo-op (CODY FENWICK, JUNE 5, 2020, Salon)

He had already lashed out on Wednesday at his former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who sharply criticized Trump's response to the ongoing George Floyd protests. But on Thursday night, Trump took at aim at sitting Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Posted by orrinj at 7:21 AM


BLACK CONSERVATISM IN AMERICA TODAY  (The Editors, 2018, Intercollegiate Review)

The death of George Floyd, the protests, the riots...such recent events show that America has yet to heal from racism and racial tension. They also show that conversation about these issues is more important than ever. While there are many prominent voices on these issues, less prominent are those of African American conservatives. In order to provide a forum for the true diversity of opinion within the broader conservative movement, we present an interview with Chidike Okeem, writer at VoiceofChid.com, to hear his thoughts on the principles, heroes, and misrepresentations of black conservatism.
IR: How do you begin a conversation with an African American progressive about the merits of conservatism? What's your elevator pitch?

Chidike: One of the fallacies that black progressives promulgate about black conservatives is that we have nothing to conserve except historically oppressive structures. Black conservatism is often presented as an ideology that is about protecting and preserving white supremacy. This argument is absurd. Black conservatives believe in the preservation of institutions that have been important to black life and survival, such as the nuclear family, the church, and the community. Although conservation is an important part of the black conservative worldview, it is not about the protection of pillars of oppression. Where demonstrably immoral structures exist, the black conservative cannot ethically justify attempting to look for the positive aspects of such structures. The black conservative is justified in subverting and seeking to dismantle oppressive systems. The conservation mind-set of the black conservative applies only to constructs that are both moral and salubrious. The notion that conservatives of African descent must look for the positive aspects in the apparatus of white supremacy is a caricature of black conservative thought. [...]

IR: How would you describe the relationship between a black conservative philosophy and conservatism in America today?

Chidike: The relationship between black conservatism and mainstream conservatism in America is deeply problematic. Not only is black conservatism viewed as subordinate to mainstream conservatism, but it is wholly ignored when black conservatives do not engage in the performative anti-black rhetoric many mainstream conservatives enjoy. As long as mainstream conservatives continue to be titillated by anti-black rhetoric coming from the lips of black people, there can never be a harmonious relationship between black conservatism and mainstream conservatism in America. As I have posited in previous essays, there are solution-oriented and fame-oriented black conservatives. Fame-oriented black conservatives are the cartoonish characters promoted in mainstream conservatism.

Being an outrageously anti-black "black conservative" like Sheriff Clarke gets one money from mainstream conservative organizations and pathetically obsequious profiles in mainstream conservative publications. Being a "black conservative" writer like Jason Riley, who incessantly pens anti-black pabulum for white conservative audiences, means one gets rewarded with comfortable writing gigs. Mainstream conservatism incentivizes black conservatives to become anti-black cartoons; it does not incentivize thoughtful black conservative thought. It takes a strong person to resist the blandishments of mainstream conservatism and speak the truth irrespective of whose ox is gored. There are few people with such courage.

Posted by orrinj at 7:17 AM


The religious right ousts Steve King (Timothy P. Carney,| June 03, 2020, Washington Examiner)

Sioux County rejected Trump in the 2016 caucuses and King the first time he faced a real primary for the same reason. It isn't because Sioux County Republicans are moderate. It's because Sioux County is so conservative in the way the word was used before Trump changed its meaning.

To give you an idea, back in 2012, Sioux County and neighboring Lyon County were Rick Santorum's best counties as he edged out Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses. Santorum pulled in 49% across those two counties, two of just three counties where he was above 40%. Back in 2008, Mike Huckabee also dominated in Sioux, Lyon, and O'Brien counties, posting about 50% there compared to 35% statewide.

According to the Association of Religious Data Archives, Sioux County has the highest portion of evangelicals in the state, and its rate of mainline Protestants is even higher.

Look at any data that measures the strength of family, faith, and work, and Sioux County tops the list of Iowa counties. Neighboring Lyon and O'Brien are very similar, and they also voted overwhelmingly for Feenstra and against King.

Sioux and Lyon counties are also the two counties with the highest portion of residents with Dutch ancestry. That's not a coincidence: What makes these communities so strong are the Dutch reformed churches and affiliated institutions.

Feenstra is Dutch. He represents Sioux County in the legislature, and so it's not surprising he was strongest here. But that the challenge to King emerged from this Dutch, churchgoing, family friendly corner of the state tells you something about the different types of politics that get called "far-right" or "archconservative."

King was no squish on abortion. He had a pro-life record and was mostly conservative on economic issues with some farm-area and Trumpian exceptions. But he was most widely known for his strident anti-immigration views, and he eventually got tossed overboard for his proximity to racist groups and racist ideas.

If strident on immigration and racially caustic sounds familiar, it's because King was a Trumpian conservative probably even before Trump. But some of you may be old enough to remember when that wasn't the only type of conservative.

The Dutch Reformed churches tend to be very conservative on marriage and abortion, and, in a Christian way, very welcoming to refugees. Love of neighbor is a higher good than nationalism -- or than owning the libs. All of these make Trump and King's style and priorities out of whack with the Christian conservative voters of northwest Iowa.