September 16, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 6:02 PM


'Camp Auschwitz' Jan. 6 rioter was wearing SS shirt underneath, prosecutors say at sentencing (RON KAMPEAS, SEPTEMBER 16, 2022, JTA )

Robert Keith Packer's sister asked people not to judge him by his cover, a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt. A prosecutor said he was wearing a Nazi SS T-shirt underneath.

The revelation of what Packer, a 57-year-old Virginia pipefitter, was wearing on Jan. 6, 2021, came Thursday when a federal judge sentenced him to 75 days for his role in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol spurred by former President Donald Trump's false claims that he had won reelection.

The sweatshirt, which became a symbol of the rioters' ties to white supremacist movements, was "incredibly offensive," U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said before handing down the sentence.

Not if you're a Nativist/Nationalist. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:50 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:45 PM


The myth of western decadence: The enemies of liberalism are always shocked to find that people will fight for it (Janan Ganesh, 9/16/22, Financial Times)

I am sure a contrarian finance bro will insist, if you look at the right geospatial data, from a certain angle, adjusting for media bias, that the invasion of Ukraine is going well. For now, though, it seems the Kremlin has put too much store in western decadence. Neither the resistance on the ground nor the staying power of its sponsors in the democratic world were bargained for. By way of consolation, Russia has plentiful historical company. Terrorist clerics, godless Marxists and other enemies of the west, or "Occidentalists", share few beliefs. One is that free societies have an innate flakiness: a sort of will to impotence. Even as those enemies have failed to survive, the trope does.

I don't pretend that the average westerner has read their Hume and Spinoza. I don't even pretend they deal in such abstractions as "the west". But there is a way of life -- to do with personal autonomy -- for which people have consistently endured hardship, up to and including a blood price. Believing otherwise is not just bad analysis. It leads to more conflict than might otherwise exist. [...]

The eternal error, I think, is to confuse the substance of liberalism (which is compromise-minded) with people's attachment to it (which is far from compromising). Liberalism is sparse in content. It has no account of the good life, but rather allows competing ones to go at it within a framework of rules. If I say "socialist architecture", for instance, you picture something concrete and rectilinear. What is liberal architecture? There are Islamic rules about sex and diet: a liberal can be celibate or wanton, a vegan or a regular at St Johns.

Occidentalists can't believe that a creed that makes so few truth claims would inspire devotion. But here we still are, and here so many of them aren't.

...can't prevent or reverse the End of History.

Posted by orrinj at 4:38 PM


The Clownish Thuggery of DeSantis and Abbott (Jacob G. Hornberger, September 16, 2022, Future of Freedom Foundation)

You can tell how Republicans view illegal immigrants by the clownish thuggery in which two of their most revered governors are currently engaged. After arresting (kidnapping might be a better term) immigrants for violating sacred federal laws against illegal entry, DeSantis and Abbott then have them involuntarily transported to Washington, D.C., or Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where the transporters then dump them. 

In other words, sort of like transporting cattle from Texas to Colorado or oranges from Florida to New York. That's how Republicans view immigrants who have violated their sacred illegal-entry law -- as sub-human, much as they viewed people in North Vietnam and North Korea back in the 1950s and 1960s.

But the fact is that these are real people, not animals or sub-humans. They are people who are fleeing their homeland to save their lives in the hope of coming to the United States to survive, live, work, and prosper. They find themselves not only being arrested (i.e., kidnapped) but then involuntarily transported to places thousands of miles away, without even being informed where they are being forcibly taken.

Many of these immigrants are from Venezuela. That's one of the countries on which the U.S. government, with the full support of Republicans, has imposed a brutal set of economic sanctions. The sanctions target the Venezuelan people with death and impoverishment, with the aim of achieving regime change.

We have a particular moral obligation to welcome peoples we sanction. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:11 PM


Trump openly embraces, amplifies QAnon conspiracy theories (DAVID KLEPPER and ALI SWENSON, 9/16/22, AP)

After winking at QAnon for years, Donald Trump is overtly embracing the baseless conspiracy theory, even as the number of frightening real-world events linked to it grows.

On Tuesday, using his Truth Social platform, the Republican former president reposted an image of himself wearing a Q lapel pin overlaid with the words "The Storm is Coming." In QAnon lore, the "storm" refers to Trump's final victory, when supposedly he will regain power and his opponents will be tried, and potentially executed, on live television.

As Trump contemplates another run for the presidency and has become increasingly assertive in the Republican primary process during the midterm elections, his actions show that far from distancing himself from the political fringe, he is welcoming it.

He's published dozens of recent Q-related posts, in contrast to 2020, when he claimed that while he didn't know much about QAnon, he couldn't disprove its conspiracy theory.

Posted by orrinj at 4:05 PM


Mitch Daniels Is Far More Than An Educator (Marc Ransford & Dustin Siggins, 9/16/22, Real Clear Markets)

As the price of college tuition skyrockets and student loan forgiveness dominates the higher education landscape, one retiring college president looms large: Purdue University's Mitch Daniels, who famously froze tuition for each of the 11 years he held the top position.

But while the freeze has led many of the accolades and favorable news coverage about Daniels' tenure, he has done far more than keep costs low. He's also grown the student body, doubled donor revenue, and improved Purdue's national standing for the quality of its STEM programs. He's also made Purdue the center of attention and investment for major corporations. [...]

Daniels may be humble enough to leave his legacy to the judgment of others. We'd say it's clear that just as Henry Ford wasn't just a car guy and Bill Gates was far more than a computer programmer, Purdue's retiring president is far more than an educator. 

He's a visionary leader. 

...Mitch is the next best way to fill the Bush-shaped hole in the Party. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:00 PM


Migrants who arrived in Martha's Vineyard to be moved to Cape Cod (KELLY GARRITY, 09/16/2022, Politico)

The migrants will be brought to an emergency shelter at Joint Base Cape Cod in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, which served as an alternative medical care site during the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a shelter for displaced Louisiana residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"We are grateful to the providers, volunteers and local officials that stepped up on Martha's Vineyard over the past few days to provide immediate services to these individuals," Baker, a Republican, said in a statement. "Our administration has been working across state government to develop a plan to ensure these individuals will have access to the services they need going forward, and Joint Base Cape Cod is well equipped to serve these needs."

Looks like we just found a use for all the military bases we need to close.

Posted by orrinj at 8:36 AM


The US is on the cusp of a clean energy revolution -- we can't leave anyone behind (DEVASHREE SAHA AND DAN LASHOF, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS - 09/15/22, The Hill)

Clean energy is a major job creator in the U.S., employing 3.2 million Americans and accounting for more than 40 percent of all energy jobs in the country. In 2021, energy sector jobs grew at a much faster pace (4 percent) than overall U.S. employment (2.8 percent). These jobs are benefiting both red and blue states: California, Texas and New York currently employ the most clean energy workers.

Clean energy jobs are set to climb even more in coming years thanks to the massive investments in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that will pour billions of dollars into clean energy technologies, invest in grid updates and electric vehicles, as well as make the U.S. more competitive in global markets. Sectors across the U.S. economy will see job growth from these climate-smart investments, most notably in the buildings and electricity sectors from energy efficiency, constructing new infrastructure for zero-emissions electricity generation, grid modernization and electrification.

In fact, new analysis from World Resources Institute finds that the U.S. can create nearly 1 million more net jobs by 2035 from federal climate measures included in the IRA and IIJA compared to business-as-usual. But the full employment impact can be significantly larger when you factor in provisions related to onshoring manufacturing of clean energy technologies, which could create up to 3.1 million additional net jobs during the same period. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


How California Kept the Lights On during Monster Heat Wave: A combination of rapid growth in battery storage and efforts to reduce power demand helped California avoid blackouts during an intense heat wave (Anna Blaustein on September 16, 2022, Scientific American)

[I]mpressively, California's grid weathered the heat wave. Scientific American spoke with Michael Wara, policy director of the Sustainability Accelerator at Stanford University, about the strategic improvements and unconventional tactics that helped the grid hold up and how power systems can decarbonize and still stand up to climate extremes. [...]

What happened after CAISO announced that a level-three emergency would go into effect?

We were all kind of bracing for these rotating outages to start. The expectation was they'd start around 6 P.M., which is when the sun starts to get lower on the horizon this time of year, and so the solar power plants start to produce less energy.

Instead what happened is that--in contrast to 2020--we had several thousand megawatts of battery storage that started providing energy and helped stabilize the situation. And then the grid operator called all of its demand response resources [large-scale consumers that the operator pays to reduce electricity usage] and reduced demand even further. It took about 1,000 megawatts or so off the demand at around 5 or 5:30 P.M.

And then something really interesting happened: CAISO sent a text to people in California and they said, look, you need to reduce your demand right now, or we're going to have to start rotating outages. And basically, at the moment that that text was sent, demand fell in California by something like [3,000 megawatts.] It's not totally clear yet if that was a result of that text. But it's interesting to note that, simultaneous with the text, there was this large decrease in demand--and that allowed the system to ride out the evening hours.

Posted by orrinj at 8:15 AM


Putin admits China has 'concerns' over Ukraine invasion; Russia's Wagner Group is recruiting convicts (Natasha Turak, 9/16/22,  CNBC)

Signs of tension have emerged between allies Russia and China, as Putin acknowledged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping's "questions and concerns" about Russian operations in Ukraine during the leaders' first in-person meeting since the war began on Feb. 24.

There are reports of mass graves outside the cities recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces after months of Russian occupation, Ukrainian officials and international media present on the scene have said.

Meanwhile, Berlin is taking control of Russian energy giant Rosneft's German operations, citing the need to protect the continuity of business operations and ensure its energy security.

Posted by orrinj at 7:38 AM


Sabra and Shatila: Jewish nurse recounts horrors of Palestinian massacres (Umar A Farooq, 16 September 2022, Middle East Eye)

On the 40th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Siegel recounted how she and other nurses struggled to take care of the hundreds of wounded Palestinians, how she herself was nearly executed, and how justice continues to remain elusive despite the magnitude of the atrocity.

"When I got to Beirut, I was shocked. It was one of the saddest scenes I had ever seen," Siegel told Middle East Eye, recalling the time from her home in Washington DC.

Israel launched an attack on Beirut on 15 September - breaking a weeks-long ceasefire that saw members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation leave the city - and sealed it off so no one else could leave.

Then on 16 September, the Phalange, a right-wing Christian Lebanese militia group, entered the Sabra and Shatila camps in response to the assassination of Lebanon's Christian president, Bachir Gemayel. They killed as many as 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.

"The Phalange came in and started to kill people. They started to massacre people, but in the most horrendous way with axes and knives. Some of these pictures, some of these stories, are just horrendous," she said.

But Siegel says the Phalange wasn't operating in isolation.

"The Israelis shot flares into the air. One of the other physicians and myself, we went to the top floor of the hospital during this time, and we saw flares going up in the air and lighting up neighbourhoods of the camp followed by gunfire," Seigel said.

"What was happening is that [the flares] lit the way for the Phalange to go door to door and kill people."

Siegel and an international group of nurses worked tirelessly over the next several days to treat the wounded Palestinians.

The hospital had served as a sanctuary for those shot and wounded by militia forces, and even as it began to run out of supplies, blood, medicine and food, Palestinians continued to enter the hospital in the hope of escaping the violence.

"This went on for like two days and people started to flee towards the hospital, towards Gaza Hospital, looking for safety and security. The hospital got overwhelmed with people. The morgue got overcrowded."

Despite their attempts to stay at the hospital and continue to care for the wounded residents, Phalange forces took the international team of medics out of the hospital on 18 September and began marching them out of the camp at gunpoint.

On her way out of the camp, Siegel told MEE that she passed by dead bodies scattered across the streets, and mothers with their children being guarded by gunmen.

Being Jewish and growing up learning the horrors of the Holocaust, Seigel said her experience reminded her of the stories she heard of Jewish prisoners marching toward concentration camps and the gas chambers.

"As we got towards the end of the camp, they put us up against a bullet-ridden wall and they were about to shoot us," Siegel said.

"What happened was an Israeli stopped it. From the Israeli command post, [the Israeli] saw what the Phalange were doing and said 'we can't be killing white people, all these Norwegians and Swedish and Americans'."

Posted by orrinj at 7:24 AM


With Migrant Trafficking Stunt, GOP Governors Mimic Segregationist 'Uptown Klan' (Laura Clawson, September 16 | 2022, National Memo)

"For many years, certain politicians, educators, and certain religious leaders have used the white people of the South as a whipping boy, to put it mildly, to further their own ends and their political campaigns," Amis Guthridge, one of the architects of the reverse freedom rides, is quoted in an in-depth 2019 piece by Gabrielle Emanuel at GBH News. "We're going to find out if people like Ted Kennedy ... and the Kennedys, all of them, really do have an interest in the Negro people, really do have a love for the Negro."

Hundreds of Black people, mostly from Arkansas and Louisiana, were misled or, in some cases, coerced onto buses north, ending up in states from California to New Hampshire. But the largest number, nearly 100, were sent to Hyannis, Massachusetts. Because when Amis Guthridge said, "We're going to find out if people like Ted Kennedy ... and the Kennedys, all of them, really do have an interest in the Negro people, really do have a love for the Negro," he was intending to send people literally to the Kennedys' doorstep, or anyway to the bus stop closest to where the Kennedys spent their summers, telling them they would meet President John F. Kennedy when they arrived.

Posted by orrinj at 7:19 AM


FBI charges Massachusetts woman with Boston Children's Hospital bomb threat (Brandy Zadrozny, Ben Collins and Tom Winter, 9/15/22, NBC News)

The FBI said Thursday that an arrest has been made in connection with a bomb threat against Boston Children's Hospital last month.  [...]

Several children's hospitals, most notably Boston Children's, have been the targets of a far-right harassment campaign for months, led by anti-trans influencers with millions of collective followers who have spread misinformation about the hospitals' gender-affirming treatment for minors. The influencers have similarly waged anti-LGBTQ campaigns against schools and libraries that have been featured on conservative news programs. [...]

In the last week, some of the same influencers began to express doubt that the bomb threat was real. On Wednesday, one of the primary drivers of the harassment campaign, Chaya Raichik of the influencer account LibsOfTikTok, tweeted an email response from Boston police saying the threat did not come through 911. "Many questions remain. Will any journalists investigate?" Raichik tweeted to her 1.3 million Twitter followers.

Posted by orrinj at 7:09 AM


Alabama GOP chair refused to show license to vote. That became a problem for poll workers: When poll workers asked Alabama GOP Chairman John Wahl for his voter ID, he gave them a card they'd never seen before, ostensibly from the State Auditor's office identifying him as a press secretary. When challenged at the polls, Wahl texted this photo to the Limestone County Probate court. The Alabama Finance Department says it has no record of Wahl working for the state and it never issued him an employee ID badge. (Kyle Whitmire, 9/15/22,

Clyde Martin is a retired TVA supervisor at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant who now rides motorcycles and does a little yoga. He has a wife and a kid, but that only comes up when I ask him later. Rather, the first thing he tells me about himself is that he's a Republican. He considers himself a fierce fiscal conservative, which he cares about more than his party's positions on social issues.

He also cares a lot about election integrity, which is why, for the last four election cycles, he volunteered as a poll worker outside Athens in Limestone County.

It was there he would butt heads with one of the most influential Republicans in Alabama, John Wahl, a 36-year-old butterfly farmer chosen last year to be chairman of the state party.

Their conflict was over a bread-and-butter issue of Republican Party politics -- voter ID.

Martin insisted Wahl and his extended family show photo IDs like everybody else when they voted.

And as a result, Martin isn't a poll worker anymore.

Most of the facts of this story are not in dispute. Martin and Wahl give similar accounts, as do others.

Posted by orrinj at 6:56 AM


Voices of migrants, from a New England island in a new land (Alexander Thompson and Randy Vazquez, September 15, 2022, Boston Globe)

A 25-year-old undocumented migrant from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Eduardo set out almost three months ago for the United States. Eventually, he reached San Antonio, where he stayed in a migrant resource center for a week and a half. Authorities said they were going to be deported, but then he received word from an agency that he could go to Boston.

"We decided to accept it to see if there were more job opportunities there," he said. "Because here, we want to [find] work quickly."

They were put on a plane, believing they were headed for Boston. But during the flight, the captain said they were heading to Martha's Vineyard.

"We were all surprised because they had said Boston and they threw us here on the island," he said.

When they landed in the afternoon, vans came to pick them up and took them to Community Services of Martha's Vineyard.

"At first they were surprised, just like us," Eduardo said. "But about 15 or 20 minutes later they adapted, just like us. They began to make a list and called the local police and they have been very supportive. We hadn't eaten anything, they gave us food. They offered us to sleep, rest. They tested us for COVID. And they've been supporting us a lot, really a lot."

Two planes land, and an island springs to help (Janelle Nanos and Brittany Bowker, 9/16/22, Boston Globe)

Word of the migrants' arrival ricocheted around the island. 911 was called. A child needed medical attention. The group was exhausted and hungry, and most of the young men wore light clothing that was ill-suited to the island's cooling weather. Vans arrived to transport them the 3 miles to the community services center, which quickly went into action.

Janet Constantino, a nurse practitioner and therapist, was at the center when the migrants arrived. The center reached out to Martha's Vineyard Regional High School for Spanish translators. She said many of the migrants hadn't eaten since 6 a.m.

Within 45 minutes, with the help of the high school, "we had everything set up," Constantino said. The migrants were fed in the center's parking lot, and tested for COVID.

They were eventually bused to the Harbor Homes winter homeless shelter at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Edgartown, where Belcanto was waiting. Army green cots were lined up in rows inside the church, and a play area was set up, with hula hoops for the children. Lawyers showed up too, to help expedite immigration paperwork.

"Some people have their passports and papers and [were] supposed to be in the New York immigration office on Wednesday," she said. "We're working on it step by step."

Meanwhile, local residents were doing what they could.

Maria Sanchez Roa, a senior at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, said she was in her room at home Wednesday "ignoring homework" when her mother came in and told her about the arrival of migrants. The community needed translators, so Justine DeOliveira, a Spanish teacher at the high school, recruited students to volunteer at St. Andrew's Wednesday night.

"I was like, 'Oh all right.' Because we don't have a lot of Spanish-speaking people on the island. It's mostly Portuguese speakers," Sanchez Roa said. She arrived at St. Andrew's with "no idea" what she was supposed to do, so just started talking to people, "to help them along and help them feel more comfortable."

"In English last year, I read books about people coming through the border and their struggles and stuff," she said. "It doesn't really hit you until you build a connection with these people. . . . I'm very grateful I can help."

At about 5:30, Danny Segal, owner of Edgartown Pizza, got a phone call from the community service center asking for 10 extra-large pizzas, he said. So he did what he always does: offered the organization the same steep discount he gives schools and nonprofits. Tim Dobel brought the coffee. The co-owner of Mocha Mott's in Vineyard Haven and his daughter, Casey Engley, who is six months' pregnant, fired up the brewers, filled up a few cartons, and hand-delivered it to St. Andrew's.

As news traveled throughout the island, local residents began arriving to drop off donations outside the church. Local politicians began to arrive as well. By 7:15, Representative Dylan Fernandes was on a ferry to the island.

"Currently migrants are being dropped off on Martha's Vineyard by chartered flights from Texas," he tweeted. "Many don't know where they are. They say they were told they would be given housing and jobs. Islanders were given no notice but are coming together as a community to support them." [...]

"The people here were not expecting us. We were a little confused because we were expecting a city and not an island," said one man, who asked not to be named. "When you arrive at a place where you can finally relax, you are able to relax your mind a bit. You sleep all night. Total relaxation."

Belcastro said she was glad she was able to welcome the migrants and offer them kindness.