March 10, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 7:27 PM


Kevin McCarthy joins the insurrection (Dana Milbank, March 10, 2023, Washington Post)

The benighted McCarthy has been amassing this impressive body of obtuseness for some time. If ignorance is bliss, the California Republican has been in nirvana for years now.

How about Trump's speech on the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, provoking the sacking of the Capitol?

"I didn't watch it," McCarthy said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) calling the insurrectionists' rampage a "normal tourist visit"?

"I don't know what Congressman Clyde said," quoth McCarthy, and "I didn't see it."

When his own designated negotiator reached a bipartisan agreement to form a commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack (a commission McCarthy ultimately killed)?

"I haven't read through it."

Trump, in a recorded phone call, demanding Georgia's secretary of state "find" enough votes to overturn the election results?

"I have to hear it first."

Trump telling four congresswomen of color (three of them U.S.-born) to "go back" where they came from, prompting chants of "send her back" among his rallygoers?

"I didn't get to see the rally."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) harassing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) with shouts and slander just off the House floor?

"I didn't see that. I don't know what happened."

Trump's ludicrous allegation that former GOP congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough may have murdered a staffer?

"I don't quite know about the subject itself. I don't know this subject well."

Trump's scandalous claim that Democrats inflated the death toll from a hurricane in Puerto Rico to "make me look as bad as possible"?

"I haven't read it yet," McCarthy pleaded.

At best, McCarthy's willful cluelessness is just a dodge. But this week, McCarthy's see-no-evil approach was just plain evil.

Posted by orrinj at 6:59 PM


Scientists find a way to suck up carbon pollution, turn it into baking soda and store it in the oceans (Laura Paddison, 3/10/23, CNN)

Scientists have set out a way to suck planet-heating carbon pollution from the air, turn it into sodium bicarbonate and store it in oceans, according to a new paper.

The technique could be up to three times more efficient than current carbon capture technology, say the authors of the study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Posted by orrinj at 6:55 PM


In Florida, far-right groups look to seize the moment (SERGIO OLMOS & JIM URQUHART, 3/10/23, NPR)

Two of the men wear white gaiters with the acronym of their white nationalist group, National Socialist Florida, written in the typeface of German WW II propaganda posters. One of the men kneels down in the alley and takes off his backpack. He removes a commercial grade laser projector that retails for about $3,000. Smaller than a loaf of bread, compact, powerful and mobile.

Josh Nunes, the leader of the small band of white nationalist extremists, keeps a lookout for police while the other man aims the laser onto the skyscraper, careful to avoid helicopters flying overhead and possible detection. He projects a rolling ticker tape onto the building that reads, "Why are child friendly drag shows legal? @ Ron DeSantis." Nunes cranes his neck to see how it looks. [...]

Nunes and his group first tried the laser projections last year during a college football game. They projected a message onto the stadium that read, "Kanye is right about the Jews!" The line was a nod to recent anti-Semitic rants by the artist and business mogul Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. On that night Nunes says he brought along the leader of another small neo-Nazi group in Florida to observe and "to see if it was worth picking up."

Nunes and his group regularly coordinate with other far-right groups, forming what the advocacy organization Anti-Defamation League calls an unprecedented level of coordination among white nationalist groups in Florida.

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 PM


The Boogaloo Bois Are Plotting a Bloody Comeback: 'We Will Go to War' (Tess Owen, March 8, 2023, Vice News)

[T]he breaking point for the government was when a Boogaloo Boi murdered two law enforcement officers in California. The DOJ formed a task force to investigate anti-government extremists and the FBI began knocking on doors. Six months later, almost as quickly as these floral-shirted militants had materialized on American streets, the Boogaloo Bois disappeared from public view. Even Dunn hung up his Hawaiian shirt, changed his phone number, got a job at a county jail, and laid low for a while. 

The sudden disappearance of the Boogaloos fueled speculation that the slew of DOJ investigations and arrests had literally taken them off the board--perhaps destroying the movement forever. "The fact of the matter is the FBI won," a once-prominent Boogaloo from Texas recently wrote online. 

While it's true that the threat of prosecution caused the Boogaloo Bois to lower their profile, the fierce anti-government ideology underpinning the movement never went anywhere. And now, the Boogaloo Bois appear to be regrouping, plotting their public comeback to coincide with what many fear could be a tense, even violent, presidential election season. 

In the last six months, the Boogaloo Bois have returned to Facebook and are using the platform to funnel new recruits (and "OG Bois") into smaller subgroups, with the goal of coordinating offline meet-ups and training, according to data obtained by the Tech Transparency Project and shared exclusively with VICE News. They're posting propaganda videos, guides to sniper training and guerilla warfare, and how-tos for assembling untraceable ghost guns. "The Bois are back in town," declared a member of one of the new groups. (Facebook deleted many of the groups after VICE News reached out for this story.)

Posted by orrinj at 6:51 PM


Over 200 Donald Trump Documents to Be Handed Over in Huge Court Defeat (ALEKS PHILLIPS,  3/10/23, Newsweek)

It comes after FBI agents raided Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida in August 2022 to obtain documents from his time in the White House under the Presidential Records Act (PRA). More than 13,000 documents were seized, 103 of which were classified.

The ruling by Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia, on Thursday marks a stunning legal defeat for Peter Navarro, a former assistant to the president, who oversaw trade policy and, in the last few weeks of the Trump presidency, published a report alleging widespread election fraud.

Posted by orrinj at 4:31 PM


Statement on 'Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses' review (

The Cochrane Review 'Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses' was published in January 2023 and has been widely misinterpreted.

Karla Soares-Weiser, Editor-in-Chief of the Cochrane Library, has responded on behalf of Cochrane:

Many commentators have claimed that a recently-updated Cochrane Review shows that 'masks don't work', which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation.

It would be accurate to say that the review examined whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses, and that the results were inconclusive. Given the limitations in the primary evidence, the review is not able to address the question of whether mask-wearing itself reduces people's risk of contracting or spreading respiratory viruses. 

All one need do is look at some numbers on a topic that the Right hasn't lost its mind over--the reduction in flu during the pandemic response--to know that their talking points are garbage. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:19 PM


Spotting sprouts of democracy (The Monitor's Editorial Board, March 10, 2023, CS Monitor)

For the first time in nearly 20 years, there is evidence that "the world's long freedom recession may be bottoming out," according to Freedom House in its latest global survey. Political rights and civil liberties gained ground in 34 countries and lost in 35 - the narrowest gap since 2005. After tracking such data for a half-century, Freedom House finds "heartening proof that democratic progress is always possible."

"So long as human beings remain true to their natural yearning for liberty, authoritarians will never be secure, and the global movement for democracy will never be defeated," the report stated.

A few factors help explain the shift on rights and liberties. As countries have emerged from the pandemic, basic freedoms have been restored. Russia's aggression in Ukraine has stirred democracies to a more vigorous defense of shared values. In every region, the report found, authoritarian regimes are facing growing popular backlashes against corruption, state violence, and controls on dissent.

The post-Liberal future is Liberal. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:04 PM


Thank you, Kevin McCarthy and Tucker Carlson (Paul Waldman, March 9, 2023, Washington Post)

Certain political leaders inspire grudging respect or even fear from their opponents, but let's face it: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is not among them. His latest political gambit, a ham-handed attempt to rewrite the history of the Capitol insurrection in collaboration with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, was not just a spectacular faceplant. It turned out to be a service to all of us. [...]

[T]he logical howler at the heart of Carlson's presentation was impossible for all but the most deluded Trump devotees to ignore. Displaying snippets of video in which the Jan. 6 rioters were momentarily calm is the equivalent of a murder suspect saying, "Why aren't we talking about all the people I didn't kill?"

Here's where it gets interesting, though. As influential as Carlson is on the right, the first installment of his revisionist version of Jan. 6 was met with a torrent of condemnation -- much of it from Republicans.

At a news conference, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) prominently associated himself with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger's dismissal of Carlson's narrative as "offensive and misleading." Sen. Kevin Cramer (N.D.) called it "just a lie." Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) said "I think it's bulls--t." Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) called it "dangerous and disgusting." Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Tex.) mocked Carlson's "silly" effort to "convince people that nothing bad happened."

The last time so many Republicans condemned something that appeared on Fox News, it was when the network accurately called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night in 2020.

Posted by orrinj at 1:35 PM


Text Shows Carlson Promoting Holocaust Denier On White Nationalist Hub (Eric Hananoki, March 10 | 2023, National Memo)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson shared the work of David Cole, a Holocaust denier who writes for a white nationalist hub that carries headlines like "The Trouble with Blacks" and "Our De Facto Antiwhite Apartheid." Carlson's reading list is the latest revelation in the recently released tranche of documents from the Fox News/Dominion lawsuit.

If Israel ends the Occupation, the Right will not even have to pretend anymore. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:16 PM


The World's First 3D-Printed Rocket Is About to Launch (RAMIN SKIBBA, MAR 10, 2023, Wired)

AN ALMOST ENTIRELY 3D-printed rocket is ready to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, then head for low Earth orbit.

Scheduled for a three-hour launch window that opens at 1 pm Eastern time tomorrow, the inaugural launch of Relativity Space's Terran 1 rocket will constitute a major milestone for the California-based startup, and for expanding the use of 3D printing in the space industry.

Posted by orrinj at 1:12 PM


Latin America poised to become renewable energy giant: report (Joshua Howat Berger, March 9, 2023, AFP)

Latin America is poised to become a major renewable energy producer, with nearly a billion solar panels' worth of large-scale clean-electricity projects slated to come online in the next seven years, a report found Thursday.

In welcome good news for the climate-change race, researchers said Latin American countries had more than 319 gigawatts of utility-scale solar- and wind-power projects due to be launched by 2030 -- equal to nearly 70 percent of the region's total current electrical capacity from all sources combined.

"Rich in wind and solar resources, Latin America has the potential to be a global leader for renewable energy," said the report by the Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a US-based non-profit that tracks clean-energy development.

The Third World stands to renewables as post-war Germany and Japan did to industrialization, able to steal a march.

Posted by orrinj at 1:02 PM


NYT - "Another Stronger Than Expected Jobs Report" - Our Monthly Jobs Day Report (Simon Rosenberg, March 10th, Hopium Chronicles)

The March BLS jobs report is out and its another remarkably strong one - 311,000 jobs! While things have slowed a bit, as we hoped, the "can do" American spirit is clearly alive and well. With this new data my monthly jobs tracker clocks in at:

33.8m jobs - 16 years of Clinton, Obama

12.4m jobs - 25 months of Biden

1.9m jobs - 16 years of Bush, Bush and Trump

Biden's 12.5m jobs is 6 times as many jobs as were created in the 16 years of the last 3 Republican Presidencies, combined. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 AM


Jim Jordan's Weaponization Subcommittee Keeps Firing Blanks (FREDERICK BARON AND DENNIS AFTERGUT,  MARCH 10, 2023, The Bulwark)

Jordan's vacuous Twitter Files hearing appeared to be an effort to distract from the negative response to his hearing on February 9 resurrecting random MAGA grievances. That first hearing led off with 89-year-old Senator Chuck Grassley as a witness complaining that it was Hillary Clinton and Democrats, and not Donald Trump's campaign, who had "colluded with the Russians."

At that hearing, the subcommittee's top Democrat, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, aptly called out Jordan for "weaponizing Congress" and using his subcommittee as "a place to settle scores, showcase conspiracy theories, and advance an extreme agenda that risks undermining Americans' faith in our democracy."

Even Fox News host Jesse Waters moaned to Republican committee members, "Tell me this is going somewhere."

After that first hearing, Jordan shifted attention to his claim that he had "dozens" of "FBI whistleblowers" with knowledge of FBI misconduct directed at Trump. In response, Democratic subcommittee members released a 316-page report documenting that Jordan's staff could point to only three such witnesses, none of whom actually had direct knowledge of such misconduct.

All three witnesses reportedly endorsed an "alarming series of conspiracy theories"; they were "directly connected to a network of extreme MAGA Republican operatives"; and they were disgruntled former FBI officials receiving financial or other support from Trump allies. In short, they were hardly paragons of credibility.

An unnamed Republican called Jordan's performance "amateur hour," suggesting that by advancing conspiracy theories in future televised hearings, Jordan "would make us look like morons."

Posted by orrinj at 7:10 AM


Normandy's English connection: The region combines ancient and modern splendours with an eye turned ever northwards (Matthew Lloyd Roberts, March 2023, The Critic)

For English travellers to France in the first half of the eighteenth century, Normandy held a certain allure and familiarity. Despite the many marked differences that came with crossing the channel, Englishmen felt themselves unexpectedly at home in Normandy. Projecting a medieval history that lingered in the popular imagination onto their built environment, one such gentleman wrote in a published travel account of 1701 that "All public Buildings, and some private in Roan [Rouen], are built by the English." 

The antiquary and librarian Andrew Ducarel declared that "NORMANDY does so nearly resemble OLD ENGLAND, that we could scarce believe ourselves to be in FRANCE," commenting on a vernacular architecture of half-timber and thatch he recognised from his travels in Hertfordshire and Rutland.

An oolitic limestone that verges between clotted cream and brilliant white

The foundations of such insistent recognition lie in a feeling of shared cultural heritage between this region of France and England, most strongly expressed by Ducarel when he visits the tapestry at Bayeux, relating a hardly believable account of the ignorance of its custodians. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:03 AM

LOVE STORY (profanity alert):

Why Are So Many Guys Obsessed With Master and Commander?: 20 years after its release, the mildly successful historical nautical drama has become an inescapable hit with a certain type of movie fan. (GABRIELLA PAIELLA, March 8, 2023, GQ)

If you kidnapped a hundred of Hollywood's top minds and forced them to work around the clock, they could not engineer a more exquisite Dad Movie. Though Master and Commander is ostensibly about the Surprise sailing to intercept a French enemy warship, the battle scenes, exhilarating as they may be, are few and far in between. The bulk of the film--and the heart of its charm--is instead a meticulous rendering of daily life at sea: the monotony of hard labor, the palpable threat of scurvy, the dirty-faced sailors who sleep in close quarters and grin through yellowed teeth. (You know it smells crazy in there.) Even better? All the screen time devoted to close conversations between Aubrey and Maturin, and their two-dude violin and cello jam sessions. You come away with a sense of satisfaction at their accomplishments and camaraderie, and just a bit of longing over a bygone way of life. [...]

[W]hile posting about Master and Commander is popular with an irony-adjacent crowd, the love for it is all sincere. Many of the film's most vocal fans are in their thirties. If they originally saw it in their tween or teen years, their relationship with the movie only deepened as they grew older. Think of it as the male biological clock: Alex Yablon, who works for the New York City Council, said that he rewatched the movie after the birth of his first child. He's since listened to eight of the original source material audiobooks--with only 12 left to go.

"For me, personally, there's a lot of stuff that I have gotten into as I have accepted that I'm in my mid-thirties, that I'm a dad, that I'm boring now. I do boring [***], I read boring history books, and I mostly am pretty fine with that. I'm okay with being a little bit of a goofy, boring dad," Yablon told me. "And I think that the way of sheepishly admitting that and kind of making fun of that a little bit is by being into such a cliché dad thing: naval adventure stories."

Despite any surface-level irony, everyone I talked to adopted a tone of reverence and awe when speaking about the movie. They would get a misty, far-away sound in their voice, almost as if they were on the bow of a ship, gazing out over the open ocean, ponytail flapping in the breeze.

Will Menaker, the co-host of the popular leftist podcast Chapo Trap House, said, "I don't know how there could be ironic fans of a movie that's this brilliant--a movie that does onscreen everything movies promise. What's bad about this movie?"

"I always think of the scene where Aubrey and Maturin are playing their cello and violin--you're hearing that and it's just sort of taking you around the ship and it's all very quiet. And then there's just a moment where the camera goes underneath the boat and it's a shot of the anchor trailing through the ocean as you hear the slightly muffled sounds of Aubrey and Maturin's music," he continued. "I just always am so struck by the beauty of that moment and the fact that every single conceivable detail about the social hierarchies and physical maintenance of this vessel is so lovingly crafted. It's the historical verisimilitude of it and just how it does a very rare thing for movies of this nature--it's like the battles are almost incidental."

Sure, there are no female characters in the movie (except for the ship, and the wooden lady on the ship). But overall, the masculinity of Master and Commander, especially as modeled by Aubrey, is overwhelmingly wholesome and positive. Any nostalgia for the traditionalism in the movie is less reactionary and more about the healthy male bonding between the characters.

"You've got a bromance for the ages in Aubrey and Maturin," Menaker said. "They're just [***]ing buds and they play their violins together as they're traversing the Cape of Horn. It's awesome." Writer David Grossman told me that Master and Commander is "a deeply felt vision of non-toxic masculinity," while Alex Yablon pointed to it as "a portrait of healthy homosociality." Even director Taika Waititi once called it his favorite romance movie.

Russell Crowe is also particularly magnetic. Rachel Millman, the writer and Wrestlesplania podcast host who once remarked on Twitter that, "every February becomes Master and Commander month on here," brought up his specific appeal. "He's very much a 'dudes rock' type of guy," she said. "I don't think dudes rock is exclusive to men anymore. You're underselling yourself when you're like, 'This is a thing for boys.' No, it's just the attitude of 'that guy rocks, he does what he wants, he's great.'"

The idea that it could be fulfilling to live and work on the HMS Surprise--again, a 19th century ship, with all that entails--is also part of the allure for the modern viewer. I recently rewatched Master and Commander early one morning and found myself overtaken by wistful bonhomie. Wouldn't it feel satisfying to spend each day doing industrious and meaningful ship work, I thought, and then retire to candlelit dinners and violin-playing each night? As New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane put it in his review, "we feel ourselves to be in good company with these men, and strangely jealous of their packed and salted lives."

Grossman pointed to the friendship crisis among American men. "When you're in your thirties, you're looking for this sort of community. This is the age when settling down starts to happen," he said. "Friends start to drop off and you have to take more active steps to find a community of male friends, and more guys report loneliness. I guess seeing that rich community strikes some as, 'yeah, that's what I want--just to be on a ship with 150 other guys.'"

There is the beginning of insight here: consider too that Katherine Ross is superfluous to Butch and Sundance, Ingrid Bergman to Casablanca and even Jean Simmons to Spartacus. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:54 AM


Tucker Carlson knows his viewers want to be lied to: Their feelings don't care about your facts. (Aaron Rupar and davidrlurie, 3/10/23, Public Notice)

Ultimately, however, Carlson gave up on such hedging.

Over the ensuing weeks and months, Carlson appears to have realized that he had underestimated his own viewers' gullibility, and failed to recognize the depth of their desire to believe the election had been stolen. His own messages to his audience became all the more untethered from reality. 

In late 2021, Carlson hosted a special strongly suggesting that the January 6 attack wasn't actually the doing of Trump and his supporters, but rather was the product of an FBI false flag operation meant to entrap them. Fast forward another 16 months, and Carlson is now regularly heard on air claiming that Biden's victory was an injustice of historic significance. 

On Monday, for instance, Carlson declared: "In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy."

Carlson's latest gambit is to selectively present the 1/6 footage McCarthy gave him to reframe the insurrection as an honorable protest against a stolen election -- something of a last stand for a lost cause. 

In support of this revisionist history, Carlson played, and replayed, snippets of tape showing the insurrectionists during moments in which they were not vandalizing the Capitol or attacking police officers. It's a bit like insisting arsonists get a bad rap because people don't pay enough attention to all the times they aren't burning things down.

Carlson plainly has no concern that the "revelations" he's offering up are readily shown to be false. For example, he contended Monday that it's a mystery how the "QAnon Shaman," Jacob Chansley, entered the Capitol, suggesting he might have been invited in by police.

But footage of Chansley's entry into the Capitol is readily available. And it shows he was among the first wave of vandals to break in.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger also immediately stated that Carlson's claim about police officers serving as Chansley's tour guides was "outrageous and false," explaining that the officers "did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building." But no matter -- even after the police chief spoke out, Carlson just kept insisting Tuesday and Wednesday that his out-of-context footage showed police and Chansley working together.

Being exposed as a bald faced liar by people outside the right wing media-sphere is plainly of no concern to Carlson. His finger is constantly on the pulse of his audience, and he's wary only of losing their allegiance by telling them facts they don't want to hear.

For Carlson, the "credibility" he feared Fox might lose by acknowledging Trump's Arizona loss is not preserved by telling viewers the truth. Rather, it's maintained by telling them what they want, and are willing, to believe, no matter how false the presentation may be.