June 22, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Carson v. Makin: Another Win for Education Freedom (Colleen Hroncich and Solomon Chen, 6/22/22, Cato)

"If our neighbors have the freedom to choose a private school and receive tuition from our town, why are we denied this same benefit just because we desire a religious education for our daughter?" This simple question, asked by Maine parents Alan and Judy Gillis, is at the heart of today's Supreme Court ruling in Carson v. Makin.

Fortunately for the Gillis family, and families throughout Maine, a majority of the Court agreed. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that "Maine's 'nonsectarian' requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment."

Carson v. Makin is centered on Maine's tuition assistance program, one of the oldest school choice programs in the nation. Created in 1873, the program funds students from a town without a public school to attend a school of their parents' choice--whether private or public, in‐​state, or out‐​of‐​state. For more than a century, parents could direct these funds towards religious schools. In 1980, Maine Attorney General Richard S. Cohen released an opinion that said funding a child to attend a school with a "pervasively religious atmosphere" would be unconstitutional. In response, the legislature changed the law to prohibit families from using the tuition assistance at religious schools.

In today's ruling, as it did previously in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court flatly rejected the respondent's claims that allowing religious schools to receive the tuition funds violates the first amendment. Written by Chief Justice Roberts, today's opinion states, "As noted, a neutral benefit program in which public funds flow to religious organizations through the independent choices of private benefit recipients does not offend the Establishment Clause." 

Neutrality/universality simply isn't that hard a concept to grasp. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Elections officials, workers rebuffed Trump's pressure, then faced violent threats, Jan. 6 hearing shows (FARNOUSH AMIRI and LISA MASCARO, 6/22/22,  The Associated Press)

"A handful of election officials in several key states stood between Donald Trump and the upending of American democracy," Chairman Bennie Thompson said, praising them as heroes and the "backbone of our democracy."

The hearing was punctuated throughout with accounts of the personal attacks faced by state and local officials.

Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers said he was subjected to a public smear campaign, including relentless bull-horn protests at his home and a pistol-wielding man taunting his family and neighbors.

Officials in Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states told similar stories of having their cellphone numbers and home addresses spread publicly after they refused Trump's demands.

At one gripping moment, two Georgia election workers, a mother and daughter, testified that they lived in fear of saying their names aloud after Trump wrongly accused them of voter fraud.

"There were a lot of threats wishing death upon me," said Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a former state election worker.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Drone Strikes Major Southern Russian Oil Refinery - Reports (Moscow Times, Jun. 22nd, 2022)

One of southern Russia's largest oil refineries was struck by an apparent drone attack Wednesday, setting off a massive fire, authorities and media reported.

Footage published to social media showed a drone flying toward the Novoshakhtinsk refinery in the Rostov region five kilometers from the Ukrainian border before one of its facilities caught on fire.

"Employees noticed a Ukrainian drone. It crashed into the plant's structures, after which there was an explosion and fire," the state-run TASS news agency quoted an unnamed regional official as saying.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Amazon announces its first fully autonomous mobile warehouse robot (Mitchell Clark  Jun 21, 2022, The Verge)

Amazon has announced its "first fully autonomous mobile robot," meant to move large carts throughout its warehouses. The robot is called Proteus, and Amazon says it can safely navigate around human employees, unlike some of its past robots that it kept separated in a caged area.

Amazon says Proteus robots have "advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology," and a (strangely silent) video shows the robots shining a green light in front of themselves as they move around. When a human steps into the beam, the robot stops moving, then resumes after the person moves away.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Oz drops Trump branding in general election shift (Andrew Solender, 6/22/22, Axios)

Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, is quietly shifting his campaign messaging away from former President Trump as he transitions into what's likely to be one of the most hotly contested Senate elections of the midterms.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Rebuked again: Trump's picks for House seats in Georgia go bust (Greg Bluestein, 6/22/22, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Georgia Republican voters rebuked Donald Trump for the second time in a month Tuesday by rejecting his picks for a pair of open U.S. House seats, another blow to the former president after his attempt to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp and other incumbents collapsed. [...]

And Trump's attempts to unseat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Insurance Commissioner John King and Attorney General Chris Carr were rebuffed by Republican voters who gave each of the incumbents convincing victories.

When you can't even get the Confederates to back your insurrection...