June 11, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 PM


Black Tulsans call Trump rally plan 'a slap in the face' (ELLEN KNICKMEYER and JONATHAN LEMIRE, 6/11/20, AP)

From Sen. Kamala Harris of California to Tulsa civic officials, black leaders said it was offensive for Trump to pick that day -- June 19 -- and that place -- Tulsa, an Oklahoma city that in 1921 was the site of a fiery and orchestrated white-on-black killing spree.

"This isn't just a wink to white supremacists -- he's throwing them a welcome home party," Harris, a leading contender to be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's running mate, tweeted of Trump's rally plans.

"To choose the date, to come to Tulsa, is totally disrespectful and a slap in the face to even happen," said Sherry Gamble Smith, president of Tulsa's Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce, an organization named after the prosperous black community that white Oklahomans burned down in the 1921 attack.

At a minimum, Gamble Smith said, the campaign should "change it to Saturday the 20th, if they're going to have it."

Trump announced the rally plan as he met with a handful of African American supporters on Wednesday afternoon. It comes as his harsh law-and-order stance appears to fall increasingly out of sync with a growing concern over police abuse of African Americans after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 PM


Republicans across the spectrum slam RNC's decision to keep 2016 platform (GABBY ORR, 06/11/2020, Politico)

Give him credit for a rare moment of honesty: he's achieved nothing.

Posted by orrinj at 6:29 PM


Is Assad About to Fall? (CHARLES LISTER, 06/11/2020, Politico)

"We promised to keep things peaceful ... but if you want bullets, you shall have them."

That was the wording of a message issued to Bashar Assad by the Druze community in Syria's southern Suwayda province on Tuesday after three days of intensifying protests. Since then, its opposition to the Assad regime has only heated up, despite a pro-regime counterprotest on Wednesday, in which local state employees were threatened by secret police should they not participate. Demonstrators took to the streets against Assad again on Wednesday and Thursday, some bearing flags of the Syrian revolution.

Until recently, the Druze, a minority sect, had largely stayed out of Syria's bitter nine years of conflict, but the nation's spiraling economic crisis has forced them onto the street. Addressing Assad directly, protesters chanted "curse your soul, we are coming for you," and expressed their solidarity with the 3 million-strong opposition community in Idlib, the last holdout of the armed rebellion against Assad.

As remarkable as they are, the protests unfolding in Suwayda are merely a symptom of a far greater crisis striking at the heart of the Assad regime and its prospects for survival. Assad's decision to sack his prime minister, Imad Khamis, on Thursday was a clear indication that economic collapse and newly vocal opposition posed a real challenge to his legitimacy.

For some time, it has become commonplace to declare Assad the victor of the war in Syria--a dictator who managed to survive nearly a decade of rebellion and civil war by brutally suppressing dissent and exploiting the support of Russia and Iran to keep his grip on a burning country.

But that has never been an accurate way to see Syria. Assad may have crushed the opposition to his dictatorial rule in 60 percent of the country, but in 2020, every single root cause of the 2011 uprising is not just still in place, but has worsened. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Syria's Assad sacks PM Khamis (AFP, 6/11/20)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday sacked his prime minister of four years, Imad Khamis, as the country grappled with a stinging economic crisis and renewed protests.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Republican senators DEFY Donald Trump by voting to strip Confederate generals' names from Army bases (NIKKI SCHWAB, 6/11/20, DAILYMAIL.COM)

Republican senators rebelled against Donald Trump late Wednesday by voting to tell the Army to rename bases named after Confederate generals within the next three years.

The Armed Services Committee, whose members include Trump ultra-loyalist Tom Cotton, voted behind closed doors for the move, CNN reported.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Men in KKK Hoods Carrying Trump Flags Interrupt Black Lives Matter Protest in Nevada (EWAN PALMER, 6/11/20, Newsweek)

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


As Trump struggles to respond to crises, internal polling instills fear in advisers (John Santucci, Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin, June 10, 2020, ABC News)

The president has also been encouraged to participate in listening sessions with African American leaders, as he has hosted previously at the White House. But that idea was rejected by the commander-in-chief, according to sources.

A person who has attended similar events as a guest of the president previously told ABC News they heard from a White House official to "be on standby" for an event with the president, but then nothing ever materialized.

Trump is "not capable of showing empathy here," said the source, who is still a loyal supporter of the president.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump to hold his 1st rally in months in Tulsa, on Juneteenth (Catherine Garcia, June 10, 2020, The Week)

[I]n 1921, a white mob attacked black residents in Tulsa's Greenwood District, burning down their homes and businesses. When it was over, 35 city blocks were destroyed, and historians estimate that as many as 300 people were killed.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Lara Logan, the Fox 'Investigative Journalist' Who Keeps Falling for Antifa Hoaxes (Justin Baragona & Will Sommer, Jun. 11, 2020, Daily Beast)

On May 31, for example, Logan tweeted out an image of a document she alleged to be an antifa battle plan, claiming they had infiltrated law enforcement and provided a "riot" manual for protesters. 

"For those of you still in denial about who is directing & controlling the protests - take a close look at this," Logan tweeted. 

That document, however, was merely a recirculated version of a hoax first peddled during the April 2015 Baltimore riots over Freddie Gray's death in police custody. There's no proof that the overwrought document, which urges antifa activists to communicate with "agitorg" leaders and rendezvous at a mystery location called "GAMMA PRIME," is real. 

Fox News and Logan didn't respond to requests for comment. 

The following day, Logan posted a picture of a tweet purporting to come from a national antifa group threatening to terrorize majority-white neighborhoods. The tweet she cited read: "Tonight's the night, Comrades...Tonight we say '[****] The City' and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours," along with a black raised-fist emoji. 

That tweet turned out to have come from a fake account linked to white-nationalist group Identity Europa posing as antifa while calling for violence. The fake antifa account even included the acronym "I.E." in its logo, a clear reference to its ties to Identity Europa.

After being called out for credulously passing along two hoaxes, Logan did not correct, update, or delete either tweet, instead lashing out at critics as waging a smear campaign to "destroy" her. There can be "no doubt," she wrote, that liberal media-monitoring group Media Matters for America had "marshaled their army & all their resources" against her. (In 2013, Media Matters exposed Logan's false 60 Minutes reporting on Benghazi, which resulted in a retraction, an on-air apology from Logan, and a leave of absence.)

Several days after posting the fake antifa tweets, Logan would again fall for another hoax--this time taking an obvious joke about rap-loving clowns as serious proof of an antifa conspiracy.

Rightwing investigative journalist is a contradiction in terms.  The job is to be a propagandist.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


COVID Is So Bad in Arizona They're Running Out of Beds"It's like Katrina," one health expert in the state said. (Olivia Messer, Jun. 11, 2020, Daily Beast)

As of Wednesday afternoon, Arizona had at least 28,296 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,706 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, which also showed a concerning upward trend. The state had 1,553 new cases on June 5, its highest daily peak for new cases since the pandemic began. According to a comparison of all 50 states, the Johns Hopkins data showed that Arizona had among the biggest upward case trends of any state in the U.S.

After the state's largest hospital system warned on Monday that its intensive care units were quickly approaching capacity, state and national experts called the upward case trend so "alarming" as to raise the possibility of a second stay-at-home lockdown order, The Arizona Republic first reported.

If nothing else, the situation there seemed like one that might have been plucked out of New York City or another COVID hot zone months ago, rather than a state in the middle of reopening. It was especially remarkable given the state's largely lauded initial lockdown, which experts said "had teeth" and appeared effective. At least until it ended.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Stop Training Police Like They're Joining the Military (Rosa Brooks, 6/10/20, The Atlantic)

It's not hard to see the link between paramilitary police training and the abuses motivating the past several weeks' protests. When police recruits are belittled by their instructors and ordered to refrain from responses other than "Yes, Sir!," they may learn stoicism--but they may also learn that mocking and bellowing orders at those with less power are acceptable actions. When recruits are ordered to do push-ups to the point of exhaustion because their boots weren't properly polished, they may learn the value of attention to detail--but they may also conclude that the infliction of pain is an appropriate response to even the most trivial infractions.

Many police recruits enter the academy as idealists, but this kind of training turns them into cynics, even before their first day on patrol. And although most police officers will go through their entire careers without ever firing their weapons, others will inevitably get the wrong lessons from their paramilitary training, and end up like the fired Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin.

D.C.'s police academy has changed a lot in the short time since I graduated, and even in 2016, it was relatively relaxed compared with the rigid spit-and-polish atmosphere that prevails in many other training programs. The majority of law-enforcement academies in the United States are loosely modeled on military boot camps. Proponents of this approach argue that cops are a lot like soldiers: They have to follow orders regardless of their personal feelings; they have to run toward gunfire, not away from it; and they have to remain cool and professional in the face of chaos, threats, and harassment. In this view, paramilitary training takes undisciplined young recruits and turns them into lean, mean fighting machines, ready to handle the rigors of street patrol.

In most police departments, paramilitary traditions extend well beyond the academy. Senior police officials commonly refer to patrol officers as "troops," chain of command is rigidly enforced, and it's undeniably true that many departments have made enthusiastic use of federal authorities such as the Defense Department's 1033 Program, which provides surplus military equipment--including armored vehicles and grenade launchers--to domestic law-enforcement agencies. (Since its inception, the program has transferred more than $7 billion worth of military equipment to more than 8,000 U.S. law-enforcement agencies; ironically, small-town and rural agencies, rather than large city departments, have been most likely to request heavy equipment such as mine-resistant vehicles.)

The paramilitary aspects of police culture are so deeply entrenched that most officers and police chiefs take them for granted, rarely questioning the need for boot polishing, drill and formations, and rigorous mandatory workouts as a central part of police training. But the paramilitary model is as pernicious as it is ubiquitous, and any meaningful approach to police transformation needs to confront it head-on.

And take away their military weaponry.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


JK Rowling is Right--Sex Is Real and It Is Not a "Spectrum" (Colin Wright, 6/09/20, Quillette)

Both of these arguments--the argument from intersex conditions and the argument from secondary sex organs/characteristics--follow from fundamental misunderstandings about the nature of biological sex, which is connected to the distinct type of gametes (sex cells) that an organism produces. As a broad concept, males are the sex that produce small gametes (sperm) and females produce large gametes (ova). There are no intermediate gametes, which is why there is no spectrum of sex. Biological sex in humans is a binary system.

It is crucial to note, however, that the sex of individuals within a species isn't based on whether an individual can actually produce certain gametes at any given moment. Pre-pubertal males don't produce sperm, and some infertile adults of both sexes never produce gametes due to various infertility issues. Yet it would be incorrect to say that these individuals do not have a discernible sex, as an individual's biological sex corresponds to one of two distinct types of evolved reproductive anatomy (i.e. ovaries or testes) that develop for the production of sperm or ova, regardless of their past, present, or future functionality. In humans, and transgender and so-called "non-binary" people are no exception, this reproductive anatomy is unambiguously male or female over 99.98 percent of the time.

The binary distinction between ovaries and testes as the criterion determining an individual's sex is not arbitrary, nor unique to humans. The evolutionary function of ovaries and testes is to produce either eggs or sperm, respectively, which must be combined for sexual reproduction to take place. If that didn't happen, there would be no humans. While this knowledge may have been cutting edge science in the 1660s, it's odd that we should suddenly treat it as controversial in 2020.

That above-cited 99.98 percent figure falls short of 100 percent because of the roughly 0.02 percent who are intersex. (The actual figure is estimated to be about 0.018 percent.) But the claim that intersex conditions support the sex spectrum model conflates the statement "there are only two sexes" (true) with "every human can be unambiguously categorized as either male or female" (false). The existence of only two sexes does not mean sex is never ambiguous. But intersex individuals do not demonstrate that sex is a spectrum. Just because sex may be ambiguous for some does not mean it's ambiguous (and, as some commentators would extrapolate, arbitrary) for all.

By way of analogy: We flip a coin to randomize a binary decision because a coin has only two faces: heads and tails. But a coin also has an edge, and about one in 6,000 (0.0166 percent) throws (with a nickel) will land on it. This is roughly the same likelihood of being born with an intersex condition. Almost every coin flip will be either heads or tails, and those heads and tails do not come in degrees or mixtures. That's because heads and tails are qualitatively different and mutually exclusive outcomes. The existence of edge cases does not change this fact. Heads and tails, despite the existence of the edge, remain discrete outcomes.

Likewise, the outcomes of sex development in humans are almost always unambiguously male or female. The development of ovaries vs testes, and thus females and males, are also qualitatively different outcomes that for the vast majority of humans are mutually exclusive and do not come in mixtures or degrees. Males and females, despite the existence of intersex conditions, remain discrete outcomes.

The existence of intersex conditions is frequently brought up in an attempt to blur the line between male and female when arguing for the inclusion of trans women in female sports and other contexts. But transgenderism has absolutely nothing to do with being intersex. For the vast majority of individuals claiming either trans or non-binary identities, their sex is not in question. Primary sex organs, not identity, determines one's sex.

In regard to the argument from secondary sex organs/characteristics, the primary flaw is that it confuses cause and effect. Remember, secondary sex characteristics are anatomies that differentiate during puberty. In females, these include (among others) the development of breasts, wider hips, and a tendency for fat to store around the hips and buttocks. In males, secondary sex characteristics include deeper voices, taller average height, facial hair, broader shoulders, increased musculature, and fat distributed more around the midsection. However, these secondary sex characteristics--while plain to the eye, and inseparable from the way most laypeople think about men and women--do not actually define one's biological sex. Rather, these traits typically develop as a consequence of one's sex, via differences in the hormonal milieu produced during puberty by either testes or ovaries.

The different developmental trajectories of males and females are themselves a product of millions of years of natural selection, since secondary sex characteristics will contribute to evolutionary fitness in males and females in different ways. Females with narrower hips had more trouble delivering large-headed children, and so those with larger hips had an evolutionary advantage. This wasn't relevant to males, however, which is one reason why their bodies tend to look different. But that doesn't mean that a person's hips--or any of their secondary sex characteristics, including beards and breasts--define their sex biologically. These traits, while having evolved due to sex-specific selection pressures, are completely irrelevant when it comes to defining one's biological sex.

Analogies help, so let me offer another one. Bikers ride motorcycles, and cyclists ride bicycles. While these two vehicles share many similarities (two wheels, handlebars, seats, spokes, etc.), they differ in at least one fundamental way. Motorcycles are powered by engines and fuel, while bicycles are powered by pedaling legs. Whether someone is a biker or a cyclist depends entirely on the binary criterion of whether they are riding a motorcycle or a bicycle. This is the primary characteristic that defines bikers and cyclists. However, there are also many secondary characteristics associated with bikers and cyclists. Bikers, for instance, are more likely to wear leather jackets, jeans, and bandanas. Cyclists are more likely to wear skin-tight spandex. Bikers wear heavy helmets that contain the entire head and include a face-shield. Cyclists typically wear lightweight helmets that cover only the top of their heads.

Many of the secondary characteristics of bikers and cyclists are not arbitrary or coincidental. Like male and female secondary sex characteristics, we can map the utility of biker and cyclist secondary characteristics to their primary characteristics. Bikers wear tough clothes because they travel at higher speeds, which necessitate protective clothing in case of an accident and to mitigate windchill. Cyclists, on the other hand, exert great physical effort pedaling their entire body weight plus the weight of their vehicle, which necessitates lighter, breathable, wind-breaking clothing and protective gear. Given cyclists' slower crash speeds, the trade-off in favor of less protective gear is worthwhile.

But a person riding a motorcycle wearing a spandex suit and lighter helmet doesn't become a cyclist (or less of a biker) because they share these secondary traits more commonly associated with cyclists. And a person riding a bicycle wearing jeans and a leather jacket doesn't become a biker (or less of a cyclist) by sharing secondary traits more typical of bikers. Just as these secondary traits do not define bikers and cyclists, secondary sex characteristics do not define males and females.