June 24, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 6:16 PM


Breeders of Violence: a review of Spreading Hate: The Global Rise of White Supremacist Terrorism by Daniel Byman (Gabriel Schoenfeld, 24 Jun 2022, American Purpose)

Some of the violence we are witnessing as of late, such as the gunman who killed nineteen children in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, is inexplicable evil. And some of the violence we are witnessing, such as the gunman who killed ten people in a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, is all too explicable: the consequence of White supremacist hatred. Captured alive, the eighteen-year-old Buffalo shooter had placed a lengthy manifesto on the internet championing the Great Replacement theory, the White nationalist conspiracy theory according to which power-seeking elites are plotting to replace the White majority population with Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, and Blacks, thereby destroying the American way of life.

Formerly confined to the fringes, the Great Replacement theory has lately broken into the mainstream. It is pushed on FOX News television by Tucker Carlson--the Father Coughlin of our day--spreading xenophobia and scarcely veiled racism to a massive audience. Donald Trump's incendiary rhetoric about immigration from Mexico--"They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people"--is also echoed in the Buffalo shooter's manifesto, which blasts immigration as an "invasion on a level never seen before in history." The tragedy that has befallen Buffalo must be understood in the context of ideas already put widely into circulation. Even if only a minuscule percentage of the population is a hair-trigger away from committing violent acts, to spread such hatred on highly visible public platforms when deadly weapons are so readily available is to incite bloodshed.

Unfortunately, as Daniel Byman makes plain in his new book, Spreading Hate: The Global Rise of White Supremacist Terrorism (2022), the problem has been with us for some time. Over the past decades, the United States and the world have witnessed a series of spectacularly bloody attacks perpetrated under the banner of racial hatred.

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 PM


The Democrats' Progressive Organization Problem: They're an Albatross Around the Party's Neck (Ruy Teixeira, 6/24/22, The Liberal Patriot)

There are three key aspects to this rot:

1. Internal Dysfunction. The new generation of activists coming into these organizations tends to see internal hierarchies as reflecting their radical critique of society as a whole as a system that oppresses all "marginalized" groups: black, Hispanic, anybody nonwhite, female, gay, trans, indigenous, colonized, etc. Therefore, these internal hierarchies are by definition unjust and must be struggled against with little regard to what function these hierarchies might actually serve.

Needless to say, this plays havoc with an organization's ability to run a merit- and efficiency-based internal system, since so many "diversity" boxes have to be checked to do practically anything. And the need to placate staff demands and smooth over the endless conflicts this produces leads to a stunning misallocation of time and internal resources. The resulting inefficiencies can virtually paralyze an organization. Said one former executive director of a progressive organization quoted by Grim: "My last nine months, I was spending 90 to 95 percent of my time on internal strife". Said another current executive director: "I'm now at a point where the first thing I wonder about a job applicant is, 'How likely is this person to blow up my organization from the inside?"

2. Mission Creep. If society is an intersectional nightmare of different vectors of oppression, mirrored in the internal hierarchies of one's organization, what sense does it make to concentrate on whatever narrow issue or set of issues that organization was originally set up to deal with? For activist staff in these organizations, it makes no sense. All these oppressions and problems are interlinked; to attack one it is necessary to attack them all. This is how you get, on the cusp of the Supreme Court abrogating Roe v. Wade, the main abortion rights organization, NARAL insisting:

If your feminism doesn't include trans women and girls, it's not feminism. If your feminism doesn't understand how anti-trans policies disproportionately impact BIPOC folks, particularly Black trans women and girls, it's not feminism. [...]

3. Maximalist Positions and Rhetoric. Twinned to the bundling together of all progressive positions, there is also a tendency to make demands in any given area more radical. Activist staff who are primarily concerned with pushing radical reforms into the policy conversation (moving the "Overton Window") advocate for these positions and frequently, as with the adoption of unrelated progressive positions, institutional leadership will go along with staff to prove their progressive bona fides and head off internal rebellion.

Thus abortion rights organizations are unwilling to consider any limits on abortion availability. Immigrant advocacy organizations don't want to talk about border security or any limits on immigration. Climate groups want a Green New Deal and insist on an immediate transition away from fossil fuels, despite the obvious impracticality of such a path. Criminal justice reform groups want maximum decriminalization and decarceration without consideration for public safety and social order. You name the area and the tendency of groups ostensibly focused on the area has been to make positions and rhetoric more absolute and less compromising with political/policy reality. The result is an inability to formulate effective political strategy and achieve lasting reform.

It would be bad enough if the damage here was limited to the progressive organizations themselves. Good and important work has been done by them in the past and now these organizations are much less capable of doing such work.

But the damage goes far beyond that. The Democratic party has long benefited from the ability of these groups to mobilize support around specific and attainable goals. That role has now been compromised, if not turned into its opposite, and undermined Democrats' ability to govern effectively.

Even more fundamentally, the evolution of these groups is contributing to the Democrats' inability to form a stable electoral majority. The Democrats may no longer be helped much by these groups' activities but they are bound ever more tightly to them due to the groups' ideological evolution. With their totalizing embrace of progressive positions and cultural obsessions, they are unmistakably partisan groups of the Democratic party left, not big tent issue advocates as they once sought to style themselves. That means Democrats are inevitably and closely associated with these groups' public-facing activities and rhetoric--and given the state of these groups today that's a very bad thing for the Democrats.

The Left is the Right.
Posted by orrinj at 3:09 PM


RNC coordinated fake electors at Trump's 'direct request': Ronna McDaniel (Ryan King, June 21, 2022, Washington Examiner)

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel confirmed that former President Donald Trump was involved in lawyer John Eastman's fake elector scheme.

During a brief excerpt from her deposition played during the Jan. 6 committee hearing Tuesday, McDaniel explained that Trump called her and put her in touch with Eastman, who then engaged with the RNC about the scheme over the following months.

"He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of these legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states. I think more, just helping them reach out and assemble them," she said. "My understanding is the campaign did take the lead, and we just were helping them in that -- in that role."

Posted by orrinj at 8:56 AM


The Republicans Who Wanted Pardons for Their Trump Coup Actions (AMANDA CARPENTER  JUNE 24, 2022, The Bulwark)

In the last half hour of its hearing yesterday, the Jan. 6th Committee revealed the names of six members of Congress who sought or expressed interest in presidential pardons for their participation in various plots to overturn the election. They were: Scott Perry, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Andy Biggs, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Mo Brooks.

At least those are the six pardon-seekers the committee knows of, based on interviews with former Trump administration officials.

Mo Brooks actually went further, recommending a few days after Jan. 6th that Trump grant "all purpose" pardons to all 147 congressional Republicans who objected to certifying Joe Biden's election on January 6 and for the 126 Republicans who signed an amicus brief supporting the Texas lawsuit that sought to cancel votes, outright, in the swing states Trump lost. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:13 AM


The Bonkers Story of How Trump Tried to Corrupt the DOJ to Steal the Election. (David Corn, 6/24/22, MoJo)

The attempted subversion took place in December 2020, after then-Attorney General Bill Barr, up to that point a Trump sycophant, resigned in disgust when his boss refused to accept the election results. Trump then tried to pressure Jeff Rosen, the acting AG, to declare the election fraudulent.

According to notes taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen's deputy, Trump at one point told Rosen to "just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen." This referred to Reps. Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and others who were colluding with the White House to stop the certification of Biden's win. When Rosen refused, Trump threatened to replace him with Clark, a DOJ subordinate who eagerly wanted the department to claim there was evidence of widespread election fraud so states could replace Biden electors with Trump electors.

As the Judiciary Committee pointed out, the White House's communications with DOJ in this matter violated the post-Watergate restrictions governing interactions between 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the department. In fact, Trump's skullduggery wins the contest for most outlandish attempt to politicize the Justice Department. (It takes some doing to one-up Nixon in that regard.)

On Thursday, Rosen and Donoghue provided dramatic testimony chronicling their conversations and meetings with Trump, who was constantly haranguing them and was upset that the Justice Department wouldn't confirm the debunked allegations and batty conspiracy theories he and his allies were hawking. The officials repeatedly informed Trump that the department had investigated the claims and found them inaccurate and that they had no business meddling in the election. It was like telling a mob boss he couldn't get his way. Trump would not accept that.

A key point of the hearing focused on Clark pressing Rosen and Donoghue to send a letter to Georgia and other states stating that the election was tarred by fraud, and thus state lawmakers should select new slates of electors--presumably Trump supporters. Rosen and Donoghue each believed forwarding this letter would be disastrous for the department and the nation, and told Trump as much. But neither he nor Clark would relent. 

The testimony demonstrated just how desperate and crazy Trump and his crew had become, and the extent of their schemes to to prevent the legitimate transfer of power. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows even encouraged Rosen and Donoghue to investigate the ludicrous conspiracy theory that hackers (apparently connected to the CIA and MI6) had used an Italian satellite to switch Trump votes to Biden. The DOJ declined, but the White House managed to have acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller instruct the defense attaché in Rome to look into this bunk. 

The Clark story is especially nutty. An environmental lawyer who was the acting head of the DOJ's civil division, he had no experience whatsoever in criminal investigations, let alone election fraud. Yet Rep. Perry (R-Penn.) had introduced him to Trump, who immediately latched on to Clark as a toady who would corrupt the department to help him stay in power.

Posted by orrinj at 7:11 AM



Medea, the mythical daughter of King Aeetes of Colchis and niece of the famous enchantress Circe (see Books 10 and 12 of Homer's Odyssey), having been rejected by her unfaithful husband Jason, conjures up horrible (horridae, Med. 16) creatures of the underworld to bring death to Creusa, Princess of Corinth and Jason's new bride, as well as her father - spirits of the dead, goddesses of revenge, poisonous and choking snakes. Furthermore, she curses Jason to a peaceless existence as an eternally wandering spirit. In doing so, Medea refers to the traditional dichotomy of the moral worlds of good and evil, metaphorically described as realms of light and darkness.

But our contemporary notions of horror differ from the horror that Seneca wants to provoke.[2] Modern readers and audiences can enjoy fictional horror because they are aware that these characters and situations are safely fictional: this generates an ambivalent mixture of horror, suspense and pleasure in the spectator. In antiquity, however, belief in magical powers and mythical creatures was quite widespread. The fact that Seneca deliberately triggers the fear of his audience is also demonstrated by his decision not to report acts of violence. Instead, he depicts them on stage, contrary to ancient custom. Medea, who kills both of her (and Jason's) sons in an ultimate act of revenge, does so before the spectator's eyes.

At first it seems surprising that Seneca would want to arouse strong painful passions in audience members. According to Stoic doctrine, passions are false value judgements that consider indifferent things to be good or evil as well as relevant for happiness. But for Seneca and the Stoics, only virtue is good, and only vice is evil.

The dominant passion in the tragedy, whose dating is controversial, is Medea's anger. Intent on seriously hurting her unfaithful husband Jason, she poisons his bride, the princess Creusa, and sets fire to the palace in Colchis, which also kills King Creon. In the climax of her revenge, she kills the two sons she has with Jason and flees the scene in a dragon chariot.

Medea's anger, as depicted by Seneca, is based on the false judgement that Jason's infidelity is an evil that affects her happiness. It is Medea's disappointed love, along with her resulting anger, that results in the excessive violence in the tragedy, from the murder of Creon and Creusa to the double filicide. This is precisely what Seneca wants to draw our attention to, and he does this paradoxically by making us afraid of passions with the help of numerous horror motifs. In Stoicism, however, all passions are expressions of false value judgements, including fear.

Posted by orrinj at 7:05 AM


Armchair science (Dan Falkis, 6/23/22, Aeon)

There are - allegedly - occasions when we come to understand something about the world via a peculiar kind of experiment that takes place only in the mind. Thought experiments, as they're known, are an exercise of pure imagination. We think about some particular arrangement of things in the world, and then work out what the consequences would be. In doing so, we seem to learn something about the laws of nature.

Thought experiments have played a crucial role in the history of physics. Galileo was the first great master of the thought experiment; Albert Einstein was another. In one of his most celebrated thought experiments, Galileo shows that heavy objects and small objects must fall at the same rate. On another occasion - building on the ship's mast argument - he deduces the equivalence of reference frames moving at a constant speed with respect to one another (what we now call Galilean relativity), a cornerstone of classical physics.

Einstein, too, was adept at performing such imaginative feats in his head. As a young man, he imagined what it would be like to run alongside a beam of light, and it led him to special relativity. Later, he imagined a falling man, and realised that in freefall one doesn't feel one's own weight; from this insight, he concluded that acceleration was indistinguishable from the tug of gravity. This second breakthrough became known as the 'principle of equivalence', and led Einstein to his greatest triumph, the general theory of relativity.

What these examples have in common is that knowledge seems to arise from within the mind, rather than from some external source. They require no laboratory, no grant proposal, no actual doing of ... anything. When we perform a thought experiment, we learn, it would seem, by pure introspection. 'Seem' is perhaps the key word. Whether thought experiments actually do present a challenge to empiricism is hotly contested.

The universe is homocentric. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:00 AM


The Energy Crisis Is a National-Security Opportunity (MORGAN BAZILIAN and EMILY HOLLAND, JUNE 23, 2022, Defense One)

The administration should also frame other climate-action steps as national-security needs, from getting tougher on industrial methane leaks to subsidizing the development of carbon-capture technology, promoting nuclear power, and incentivizing conservation and energy efficiency. As the U.S. economy teeters on the brink of recession, the administration should also consider clean-energy tax incentives that speed the transition and help consumers save on energy costs.

The administration, which has made partnerships and allies central to its foreign policy agenda, can also explain how clean energy contributes to those goals. Promoting energy efficiency, boosting energy-system resilience, and fast-tracking the Transatlantic Technology Alliance to improve collaboration on innovation and deployment of related technology will help EU members move away from Russian energy imports. 

The effort to turn climate action into a top government priority has long suffered from diffuse or mixed messages, in the United States and elsewhere. The current energy shock--in oil, gas, and electricity all at the same time--offers a chance to focus the U.S. and the world on a clear narrative: energy security is national security.

A major speech announcing that we are going to tax the externalities to speed our liberation from the evil regimes that produce oil and produce unlimited green energy from domestic sources would at least give his presidency some focus.

Posted by orrinj at 6:43 AM


PD James's detection of the deepest mysteries (Ralph Wood, Jun 24, 2022, MercatorNet)

Like Eliot, James is concerned to offer a moral critique of society. Abortion, euthanasia, nuclear power, environmental disaster, terrorism, racism -- all the vexing issues of our time simmer beneath the surface of her murder mysteries. James confesses (presumably against certain psychologists and sociologists) that there are human evils -- she names wife abuse, child battering, and drunkenness -- that cannot be cured. To think that we could draw up legislation or design nostrums against such evils would be akin, she says, to having Parliament pass an act abolishing original sin.

This is not to say that James makes the ingrained human proclivity for evil-doing serve as an excuse for social complacency. Evils that cannot be cured may and should be alleviated. The Murder Room (2003) for example, features the struggling Dupayne Museum, founded by the wealthy and eccentric Max Dupayne.

It is housed in a Victorian mansion, and it is controlled by his three children, Marcus, Caroline, and Neville. Marcus and Caroline are determined to keep it open at all costs, while the psychiatrist Neville wants to close the unprofitable venture. He believes that Great Britain, a nation already obsessed with its past, pays far too little heed to its present concerns, especially the elderly and the mentally ill. He would turn the museum into a social service agency.

At the same time, Lady James, having been made a life peer and created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991, is unyielding in her suspicion of the human capacity "to be good without God," as our humanist friends claim. Her twenty novels give fictional life to St. Augustine's estimation of evil as the ruin of God's good creation by disordered desire: by a perverted love of the wrong persons, or the wrong things, or to the wrong extent. James quotes Adam Dalgliesh, her own master sleuth, on the unwitting Augustinian wisdom that an older detective sergeant once taught him:

"All motives can be explained under the letter L: lust, lucre, loathing and love. They'll tell you that the most dangerous is loathing but don't you believe it, boy: the most dangerous is love."

A complex admixture of good and evil lies at the moral and religious heart of James's fiction. She depicts villains who are not entirely criminal and victims who are not wholly innocent. Most of her murderers kill for honourable reasons -- usually to avenge some previous injustice. Like the rest of us, they commit evil in the name of good. They thus leave us with a troubling sense of our complicity in the hidden crimes of our own lives.

Murder, James contends, is the unique crime. It "carries an atavistic weight of repugnance, fascination and fear." We are at once repelled and attracted to depictions of this supreme offense because the line dividing good and evil does not separate the noble from the savage, the blameless from the guilty. It bisects every human heart.

"Few people opening their door to two grave-faced detectives with a request that they should accompany them to the police station," she remarked, "would do so without a qualm of unease, however certain they may be of their complete innocence."

The appeal of detective fiction, James argues, is especially strong in an age of almost total disorder -- in "times of unrest, anxiety and uncertainty, when society can be faced with problems which no money, political theories or good intentions seem able to solve or alleviate."

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 AM


Car Bomb Kills Russia-Installed Official in Occupied Ukraine (Moscow Times, 6/24/22)

A Russian-appointed official in southern Ukraine's occupied city of Kherson was killed in an apparent car bomb attack, local authorities reported Friday.

Kherson's so-called "military-civilian" administration told the state-run TASS news agency that one person died in a car explosion in a residential neighborhood in the early morning.

Posted by orrinj at 6:19 AM


Trumpublicans have turned on Republicans (Renée Graham June 21, 2022, Boston Globe)

When even Facebook finally objects, you know the MAGA madness has gone way too far.

A political ad from Eric Greitens, the disgraced former Missouri governor, now a Republican Senate candidate in that state, was yanked Monday from the social media site by its parent company Meta for "violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement."

More than the usual arsenal of GOP lies and nonsense, there's an actual arsenal in the campaign spot. Heavily armed men in full military gear use a battering ram and toss flash grenades into an empty house. Holding a shotgun, Greitens says, "Today, we're going RINO hunting." Then he encourages viewers to "Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO hunting license."

RINO stands for "Republicans in Name Only." That term was once applied to Republicans who didn't always toe the party line. Now any GOP member who engages even the slightest brush with reality is met with derision, primary challenges, and warnings of violence from hard-core Trumpublicans.

Greitens's incendiary ad dropped days after Texas Republican convention delegates turned on two of its own conservative stalwarts. Senator John Cornyn was loudly booed because he's leading 10 Republicans negotiating with Democrats on a very modest gun reform bill after massacres last month at a Buffalo supermarket and a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

Then Representative Dan Crenshaw and some staff members were jostled and heckled by the Proud Boys and other right-wing extremists. They called Crenshaw, a Navy Seal who lost an eye during an explosion while serving in Afghanistan, "eyepatch McCain," an insult Tucker Carlson debuted on his nightly Fox News hate hour last month. In a video, a man in a "45″ hat shouts that Crenshaw is a "traitor" who "needs to be hung for treason."

Once considered a GOP rising star, Crenshaw has been roasted by some in his party for debunking Donald Trump's lies about widespread voter fraud in an election he soundly lost.

The Trumpists are right to hate everything the GOP stands for.

Posted by orrinj at 6:14 AM


Jan. 6 committee shows Trump pushed Justice Department to pursue false election fraud claims (ERIC TUCKER, 6/23/22, The Associated Press)

Donald Trump hounded the Justice Department to pursue his false election fraud claims, striving in vain to enlist top law enforcement officials in his desperate bid to stay in power and hosting a dramatic Oval Office showdown in which he weighed replacing the agency's leader with a more compliant lower-level official, according to testimony Thursday to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Three Trump-era Justice Department officials recounted a relentless pressure campaign from the president, including day after day of directives to chase unsupported allegations that the election won by Democrat Joe Biden had been stolen. The officials described the constant contact as a stark breach of protocol for a department that cherishes its independence from the White House but said they swatted away each demand because there was zero evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The president, he said, had this "arsenal of allegations. I went through them piece by piece to say, no, they were not true."

Another witness, Jeffrey Rosen, who was acting attorney general, said he was called by Trump or met with him basically every day from the time he ascended to the post in late December 2020 through early January 2021, with the common theme being "dissatisfaction about what the Justice Department had done to investigate election fraud."

It all added up to a "brazen attempt" to use the Justice Department for his own political gain, said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and co-chairman of the Jan. 6 committee.

Posted by orrinj at 6:12 AM


New Biden rules would bar discrimination against transgender students (Erica L. Green, 6/24/22,  New York Times)

 The Biden administration on Thursday proposed new rules governing how schools must respond to sex discrimination, rolling back major parts of a Trump administration policy that narrowed the scope of campus sexual misconduct investigations and cementing the rights of transgender students into law.

The proposal would overhaul an expansive rule finalized under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which for the first time codified how colleges and K-12 schools investigate sexual assault on campus. The proposal would also address discrimination under Title IX, the federal law signed 50 years ago Thursday that prohibits the exclusion from or denial of educational benefits on the basis of sex in federally funded programs.

June 23, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 5:00 PM


The Coming Contradiction on Judicial Activism (JIM GERAGHTY, June 23, 2022, National Review)

Many progressives seem psychologically incapable of recognizing that the way gun-control advocates feel about today's decision and the Heller decision is exactly the way pro-lifers feel about Roe v. Wade. It's not merely that they oppose the decision; it's that they believe the Supreme Court stepped into a role it was never meant to have, overruling the duly elected legislature based upon a hotly contested interpretation of the Constitution.

The text is a tough taskmistress. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:58 PM


"It's our new cash crop": A land rush for renewable energy is transforming the Eastern Plains (Mark Jaffe, Jun 19, 2022, Colorado Sun)

Colorado's Eastern Plains -- from Yuma County cornfields to Prowers County feedlots and the wheat and sorghum fields in Kiowa County -- are set to undergo their biggest transformation in more than a century as clean electricity is added to the crops they produce.

There is already a flurry of activity as wind and solar developers -- more than a dozen have turned up in Yuma and Kiowa counties -- are locking up acreage for prospective projects in leases with ranchers and farmers.

"We've had windmills around here for a long time. These are just bigger," said Jan Kochis, 73, whose family runs a farm and cattle operation in Elbert County, and already has wind turbines on her land, generating royalties. [...]

The spur for all this activity is Xcel Energy's recently approved $1.7 billion Power Pathway transmission project -- which will belt eastern Colorado with 560 miles of high-tension transmission lines -- an electric highway to Front Range cities and suburbs for new wind and solar installations.

Posted by orrinj at 3:51 PM


Sonny Rollins | Broken Record (Broken Record Podcast, 6/21/22)

Today we're continuing our celebration of Black Music Month with the incredible jazz legend, Sonny Rollins. Rollins is an American tenor saxophonist and composer who is widely regarded as one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. Sadly, now at 91 years-old, Rollins no longer plays as a result of pulmonary fibrosis. Fortunately for us though, he's able to look back over an eight-decade career that started at the beginnings of Bebop, and included playing with the Rolling Stones, and performing on stages all over the world.

On today's episode, Justin Richmond talks to Sonny Rollins about one of his first big gigs in 1949 playing alongside other jazz icons like Bud Powell and Fats Navarro. He also explains why he no longer actively listens to music, and for the first time ever, Rollins talks about how Charlie "Bird" Parker is the reason he kicked drugs.

Posted by orrinj at 6:36 AM


Monkeypox vaccine maker Bavarian Nordic ready to meet demand (AFP, June 23, 2022)

As the lone laboratory manufacturing a licensed vaccine against monkeypox, Danish company Bavarian Nordic has seen its order book fill up as the usually rare disease spreads around the world.

"The approval we got in 2019, when we only sold maybe a few hundred doses, all of a sudden became very, very relevant for international health," the company's vice president Rolf Sass Sorensen says with a smile at the biotech company's headquarters in Copenhagen's harbour.

Bavarian Nordic was caught by surprise by the disease's sudden spread earlier this year to dozens of countries outside West and Central Africa where it had previously been generally confined.

But Sorensen says he is confident the company can meet global demand even though it only has one production facility.

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 AM


Restoring The Founders' Vision Of Religion (FRANK DEVITO, 6/23/22, American Conservative)

The original public meaning of the Establishment Clause is modest and limited: It prevents Congress from making a law respecting an establishment of religion. This means both that Congress is unable to establish a church at the national level and that it cannot interfere with individual states' decisions to establish a religion (or not). 

There are two important takeaways often forgotten in modern discussion of the Establishment Clause. First, the Establishment Clause was uncontroversial at the time of the First Amendment's ratification because it only applied to Congress and not the states. The states were extremely diverse in their establishments of religion. Some states avoided having an established church; others did not. Maryland directly aided the Church of England, while New England states favored the Congregational denomination. Massachusetts kept the Congregational Church as its established state church until 1833. The Founders would have been quite perplexed that in 21st-century Maine, the state government would claim giving tax dollars to sectarian schools violated the Establishment Clause, when the Founders thought it quite consistent to have both an Establishment Clause and established state churches. 

Second, we need to acknowledge the vast distinction between favoring one denomination at the expense of others, and favoring non-religion over religion. These are very different. For the sake of argument, let's accept both that the Establishment Clause now applies to the states as well as Congress, and that the "spirit" of the Establishment Clause is not merely to prevent a state-established church, but to prohibit a state from favoring one denomination over others (the logic of both of these points is disputable and problematic, especially the application of the Establishment Clause to the states). Granting both of these points, there is still no reason that governments cannot subsidize religious education, encourage prayer and religious reading in schools, allow religious symbols in public places, etc. There is nothing in the text or history of the First Amendment, or the traditional practice of the states, that would lead us to believe it is unconstitutional to have Judeo-Christian prayers, readings, symbols, and customs as part of our public institutions. Far from trying to keep religion away from American public life, the Founders thought religion was necessary in our public life. John Adams proclaimed that "[o]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." 

Posted by orrinj at 6:02 AM


I-Team sources: FBI seizes Nevada GOP chairman's phone as part of fake elector investigation (David Charns, Jun 22, 2022, KLAS)

FBI agents served a search warrant Wednesday on Nevada's top GOP official, sources told the 8 News Now I-Team's George Knapp.

Agents seized the cell phone of state Republican chairman Michael McDonald, reportedly as part of an investigation into the fake elector scheme initiated at the end of the 2020 presidential election.

A second search warrant was issued for state party secretary James DeGraffenreid, who also signed the document, but FBI agents could not locate him Wednesday, sources told Knapp.

Posted by orrinj at 6:00 AM


January 6 panel to focus on Trump's relentless pressure on justice department (Hugo Lowell,  22 Jun 2022, The Guardian)

Among the points the select committee is expected to cover include how Trump pursued a relentless campaign against the leadership of the justice department to more aggressively investigate debunked claims of fraud, and threatened to fire them when they refused.

The foundation of that effort, extraordinary even by the standards of the Trump presidency, culminated in a 3 January 2021 meeting at the White House where Trump almost appointed a loyalist as acting attorney general until the leadership warned of en masse resignations.

At that contentious meeting, Trump was about to move ahead with a plot to replace the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, with Jeffrey Clark, a justice department official sympathetic to claims of election fraud.

The former president only relented when he was told by Rosen that the justice department leadership would resign - and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, said he and his deputy, Pat Philbin, would also quit if Trump followed through.

Trump's proposed plan amounted to a "murder-suicide pact", Cipollone is understood to have said, according to a participant at the meeting who testified to the Senate judiciary committee that issued an interim report last year.

The select committee is also expected to examine the fraught weeks leading up to that moment, and the growing fear inside the justice department that Trump might drag them in to overturn the election results.

Perry introduced Clark to Trump, the interim report found. The panel is expected to shed new light on that at the hearing led by Congressman Adam Kinzinger, as well as how Perry sought a presidential pardon days after 6 January.

The hearing is expected to be the select committee's final one in June - there will be at least two more hearings next month but probably not before 12 July when the House returns from recess - and will probably build on the interim report.

In doing so, the select committee is likely to relive other key moments: a 27 December 2020 call in which Trump pressured Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, to declare the election corrupt; Trump's push to get Clark to get Rosen to open investigations into fraud.

Rosen and Donoghue will testify at the hearing, as will Steven Engel, the then assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, the select committee has said. Clark invoked his fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination in a closed-door deposition.

"Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me" and congressional allies including the Republican congressman Scott Perry, Trump said on the call, according to notes taken by Rosen.

Posted by orrinj at 5:50 AM


Startup Says Amazing New Battery Lets EVs Drive 400 Miles, Recharge in 15 Minutes (VICTOR TANGERMANN, 6/23/22, Futurism)

A Silicon Valley-based battery tech startup called QuantumScape claims to have created a solid-state EV battery that can allow an electric vehicle to cover 400 miles and then recharge from 10 to 80 percent in just 15 minutes, Popular Mechanics reports, in a significant potential step forward compared to current charging technologie.

The company says the technology will be deployed in mainstream automobiles --PopMech's reporting namechecked Audi and Volkswagen -- as soon as 2024, bringing EV charging substantially closer to the convenience of filling up a gas tank. [...]

Proponents argue that solid-state batteries are safer and more stable than their lithium-ion counterparts, as they are less prone to catching on fire. They also can cram more energy into the same amount of space -- on paper at least -- while also allowing drivers to recharge their vehicles faster.

Posted by orrinj at 5:48 AM


Justice Department expands Jan. 6 probe with fresh subpoenas (Spencer S. Hsu, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, 6/23/22, Washington Post)

The Justice Department's investigation of the Jan. 6 attack ratcheted up Wednesday as federal agents dropped subpoenas on people in at least two states, in what appeared to be a widening probe of how political activists supporting former president Donald Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory.

Agents conducted court authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at two locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign's efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.

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...

June 21, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 PM


What Is Juneteenth to All Americans? (Tarnell Brown, June 19, 2022, AIER)

During the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, in the wake of the Thirteenth Amendment, African-Americans were allowed to vote, own property, seek office, use public accommodations, and otherwise enjoy the privileges of fully enfranchised citizens. Unless one was an indigenous native, (and, to a large degree, a woman) this was the closest the nation had gotten to honoring the proposition that all men are created equal. Yet, when Reconstruction ended, many individual states, especially in the South, became fearful of political and economic gains made by former slaves and their kin, and passed restrictive laws such as the Jim Crow statutes that reduced Blacks to second-class citizens at best. Once again, the promise of equality to all was broken, and that is why Juneteenth matters.

It is not necessary to give here a full history of the African-American experience between June 19, 1865 and the present. Most of us know it, or enough of it to understand many of the things that still divide us. Recently, I had the privilege of reviewing an excellent book by Rachel Ferguson and Marcus Witcher, Black Liberation Through the Marketplace. One of the points they made is that the history of Blacks in America is so vastly different from that of the majority, that it is nearly impossible to fit us within the nation's political culture. I agree with that assessment, and yet we are all Americans. I have relatives still alive who tell stories of living under the glare of segregation. And while the Civil Rights Act of 1964 put an end to de jure segregation in the United States, de facto segregation remained. 

For instance, public schools were not integrated in my birth state of Florida until 1970. I was born a scant five years later. I have cousins a decade or so older who remember the first time they entered a classroom with new classmates who did not look like them. This is why Juneteenth matters. It is taken as given among classical liberal thinkers that while we may differ in talent, ability and motivation, all of us are born inherently possessed of certain natural rights which should be protected in equal measure for all. Of course I agree with this, but historically, America has not. It was only in 1967 that Loving v. Virginia afforded the right for couples of mixed races to marry without government interference. The very right to love whom one wished to was proscribed until only 55 years ago, which is eight years longer than I have been alive. This is why Juneteenth matters.

Even now, African-Americans are roughly seven times more likely to be approached by police on suspicion of crime, six times more likely to be arrested, and seven times more likely to be convicted. Some may wish to quibble bias at this, and there are certainly arguments to be had over the role of personal choice vs public policy, but that is for another time and place. What is relevant here is that the cost of this is not borne by the African-American community, as the Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation estimates that the carceral state imposes an aggregate burden on taxpayers of over $1 trillion per year. Once again, this is why Juneteenth matters, and not just to me and my fellow African-Americans.

America is a promise, one that has yet to be met. As July 4 commemorates the initiation of that promise, Juneteenth commemorates the work yet to be done, reminding us all that there are still miles to go before we sleep. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:40 PM



"If a State cannot offer subsidies to its citizens without being required to fund religious exercise, any State that values its historic antiestablishment interests more than this Court does will have to curtail the support it offers to its citizens." 

The State may not discriminate on the basis of religion when it provides money.  And it is precisely universality that guards against Establishment.  

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