May 13, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 5:45 PM


Polling is shifting on conservatives' attitudes on immigration (JEFF BRUMLEY  |  MARCH 17, 2023, Baptist News)

"We found that there is incredible support among conservatives, Republicans and evangelicals for immigration reforms that are humane and sensible. I think that shows that the moment we're in right now is not a policy debate, but a cultural conversation."

The poll found 79% of white evangelical Protestants favor measures to increase border security, provide pathways to citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and ensure a reliable workforce for the nation's farmers and ranchers. Support among Republicans was 74%, with 16% opposed and the rest unsure.

Among all registered voters, 76% agreed that Democrats and Republicans in Congress should cooperate on boosting border security, helping Dreamers become citizens and provide a legal migrant workforce for farmers and ranchers, compared to 14% who were opposed.

The research also uncovered significant support for migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

"Strong majorities also said they would support 'the U.S. providing refuge for individuals and families fleeing serious persecution and torture' (68%-20% overall, 55%-35% among Republicans) and would agree 'that welcoming newcomers to our communities is an American value' (71%-20% overall, 58%-33% among Republicans)," the report said.

"To have 79% of evangelicals who support versus 9% of evangelicals who are opposed to immigration reform -- that's huge."

Murray said she was astonished by the findings: "To have 79% of evangelicals who support versus 9% of evangelicals who are opposed to immigration reform -- that's huge."

Posted by orrinj at 9:27 AM



Lithium-ion batteries are among the most commonly used energy storage devices on the planet. However, these batteries have a number of problems, including frequent overheating that sometimes leads to fires and a tendency to lose effectiveness as they age.

Lithium batteries also have a substantial environmental impact, as one ton of lithium necessitates 2.2 million gallons of water to obtain through mining -- which has a massive effect on the communities near the mines, such as Salar de Atacama in Chile, according to Azo Clean Tech. 

Additionally, lithium batteries include materials made of copper, nickel, and lead, which are all potentially toxic. Improper disposal of lithium batteries can cause major environmental issues.

Oxygen-ion batteries, on the other hand, solve all of these problems. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:34 AM


How Ukrainian forces denied Russia victory in Bakhmut by Victory Day (Siobhán O'Grady, Kamila Hrabchuk and Kostiantyn Khudov, May 12, 2023, Washington Post)

KYIV, Ukraine -- They started shelling at sunrise.

In the dawn haze, under the cover of their own artillery, small groups of Ukrainian soldiers advanced toward a Russian position on the outskirts of the embattled city of Bakhmut.

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Drone footage had identified an avenue of attack on Russian lines on the outskirts of the besieged city. Intelligence suggested the Russians were so focused on the intense street battles playing out inside they were not expecting an assault from this direction, according to two battalion commanders in Ukraine's Third Assault Brigade who helped plan and execute the operation and spoke by telephone.

For nine months, the bloody fight for this eastern city has dragged out inch by inch, with massive casualties on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the high-profile commander of the mercenary Wagner Group, promised to deliver the city by May 9, Russia's hugely important Victory Day celebration. By the end of April he claimed his forces had taken nearly the whole city.

Yet instead of giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a victory to announce in his speech in front of the Kremlin on Tuesday, Ukrainian forces scored a rare advance this week south of the city and held fast in the city center. The two commanders shared details of the surprise offensive, which Ukrainian ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrsky confirmed was successful.

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 AM


Balancing act: Newsom's plan to cover California's ballooning budget deficit (Alexei Koseff, May 12, 2023, CalMatters)

Legislative leaders have been largely optimistic about the budget situation, noting that the deficit is less drastic than during the last recession more than a decade ago and arguing that they have plenty of fiscal tools at their disposal to avoid deep spending cuts. Last month, Senate Democrats pitched increasing taxes on large corporations and suspending a major business tax credit to raise new funds, an idea that Newsom quickly rejected.

The governor reiterated today that it was not "the right time to raise taxes and I was crystal clear on that." He also also took off the table -- at least for now -- dipping deeper into the state's reserves, which he said should be maintained while the state weathers the broader economic uncertainties.

"No one can be wedded ideologically to conditions that may present themselves, but right now, we're able to submit a budget that we think is prudent and it's balanced," he said. "Those are conversations for another day."

Newsom closed his remarks by encouraging the Legislature to show restraint, both in what it seeks in a budget deal and with costly proposals that lawmakers may try to advance to the governor's desk later this year, which he said he would have to veto.

"You don't have to be profligate to be progressive," Newsom said, trotting out what has become a favorite turn of phrase. "We tend to write checks that we can't keep and then we let people down."

Posted by orrinj at 5:58 AM


When Populism Succeeds (FRANCISCO TORO, MAY 12, 2023, Persuasion)

The most dangerous political experiment in Latin America is underway in El Salvador. A strange breed of populism is tipping the scale in the region's age-old tug of war between authoritarianism and democracy. Rather than dividing the country, like populism usually does, it's uniting it solidly behind a new consensus. More than anything, though, it's succeeding, and doing so in the kind of impossible-to-miss way that turns heads up and down the hemisphere.

At the top of it all is the self-described "coolest dictator in the world," the startlingly energetic Nayib Bukele. Having rounded up tens of thousands of suspected gang members in a series of police and military actions that don't even pay lip service to due process of law, Bukele has become something of a national hero, with approval ratings now north of 90%. Under his watch, one of the most violent countries on earth has become considerably safer: a startling transformation that nearly all Salvadoreans seem profoundly grateful for. [...]

The standard account stresses how populists thrive on polarization. But whatever problems El Salvador may have, polarization isn't one of them. Rather than dividing the country, Bukele's extreme security approach has united nearly all Salvadoreans behind him. How wide is this consensus? In polls, a head-spinning 91% approve the job he is doing. 70% support his re-election, even though he is barred by term limits from seeking it. The 6.9% who oppose his autocracy are a tiny, marginal force in Salvadorean politics, about on the same level as the 7% of Americans who think the moon landings were faked.

Why? Because democracy had failed to protect Salvadoreans from the country's uniquely brutal gang culture--a bloody affair largely hatched in U.S. jails and brought over by gang members deported back to their country. Unlike in Mexico where organized crime makes the bulk of its revenue from drug trafficking, the maras in El Salvador live mostly off of extortion: terrorizing local people and violently squeezing every last dime out of them.

It made for a miserable, hopeless situation that seemed to elude orthodox solutions. Police hardly had the resources to investigate gang members and try them one at a time. That retail approach, even if it had been feasible, would have done little good: pick off 1 gang member out of 10 and the mara was still in place and, finding itself short-staffed, could well become even more violent. Salvadoreans were left to grimly conclude the only way to stop the maras would be to throw all their members in jail in one go: a crazy idea, too harebrained to be entertained seriously. Until Nayib Bukele went and did it.

The result is a civil liberties disaster. Yet Salvadoreans understandably have little tolerance for pious discourses about human rights from outsiders who've not been through what they've been through.

The minimum threshold any state must meet is providing physical security.  Establish that and you can start ratcheting back towards freedom, ideally arriving betwixt the two at liberty.