Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Though we really did try to make it

People were surprised by the first two rulings out of the current Supreme Court session. Right-wingers hate them, the rest of us are relieved, but many of us are wondering how these same opinions will later be used as foundations for some pretty terrifying right-wing rulings: But for the moment, we are generally seeing them as a good thing.

"US Supreme court rules employers cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers: Court rules 1964 civil rights law bars employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or transgender status. [...] 'Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,' justice Neil Gorsuch wrote."

"US Supreme Court rules against Trump in 'capricious' DACA case: Court ruling allows 650,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children to remain and work. The US Supreme Court dealt US President Donald Trump a major setback on his hardline immigration policies, ruling against his bid to end a programme that protects from deportation 650,000 immigrants, dubbed "Dreamers", who entered the United States as children without documentation. The justices on Thursday upheld lower court rulings that found Trump's 2017 move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, created in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, was unlawful."

"Corporations Are Bankrolling US Police Foundations Without Public Oversight: As calls to defund the police gain traction, bloated police budgets are coming under scrutiny for siphoning public resources away from Black and Brown communities. While police budgets are typically public documents that must be approved by elected officials, there are other institutions in place with the sole purpose of funneling even more resources toward law enforcement. Police foundations across the country are partnering with corporations to raise money to supplement police budgets by funding programs and purchasing tech and weaponry for law enforcement with little public oversight. Annual fundraising events and parties like the St. Paul Police Foundation's 'Blue Nite Gala' and the Chicago Police Foundation's 'True Blue' event are huge moneymakers. The NYC Police Foundation reported that it raised $5.5 million from its annual benefit in 2019. If police departments already have massive budgets — averaging 20% to 45% of a municipal budget — why do these organizations exist? Police foundations offer a few unique benefits to law enforcement.

"Unsanitized: The Federal Reserve Can End the State Fiscal Crisis Today: With Congress inert, the Fed can solve the economy's biggest looming threat. This is The COVID-19 Daily Report for June 12, 2020.. [...] The MLF is a $500 billion fund. Under the self-imposed rules of the emergency credit facilities (governed by Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act), the $454 billion stake from Treasury authorized by the CARES Act must absorb losses from the loans they make. So they could shut down the other credit facilities entirely and tweak the MLF, eliminating the interest rate and making principal payments optional or extending the maturities to 200 years or some other function that makes them effectively grants, with Treasury eating the losses. In other words, the $500 billion that the National Governors Association wants is mostly available, from the Fed, and all it would take is a simple announcement to distribute it." But you know what's really going to happen."

Pareene, "Abolish These Police Departments: Minneapolis's police force has forfeited its right to exist. So have other cities'. [...] Before telling activists and protesters to abandon radical slogans for more targeted reforms, consider that Minneapolis has already tried a number of reforms—it has reached for nearly every piece of low-hanging fruit. It would be great if police departments could more easily fire bad officers, and other police departments could not hire them. But the Minneapolis Police Department couldn't even implement a plan to identify problem officers. Any attempt to do so—to identify problem officers and then fire them—would require an entirely different police culture. It would require, in other words, dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department. Of course, if you come to believe that, because of its unique history and resistance to previous reform efforts, the Minneapolis Police Department has forfeited its right to exist, it is difficult not to apply the same logic to nearly every other urban police department in the nation. Chicago needs public safety; does it need the police department responsible for murdering Laquan McDonald and detaining thousands of people in the Homan Square black site? People who argue that Baltimore needs more and better policing should explain why that policing ought to come from the irredeemable Baltimore Police Department, one of the most fundamentally rotten and corrupt institutions in the country. Public figures have debated what to do about Baltimore's horrific homicide rates for years. The criminal mob that has been wreaking havoc there, while also not preventing or solving very many of those murders has, I think, lost the right to participate in that debate. If the reasons to disband these particular urban police departments are all quite similar, maybe the problem with policing in this country is the way that we have built the modern urban police department. Maybe the problem is the way we conceive of policing. Maybe the problem is the police."

Handy advice from Teen Vogue: "Tear Gas and Pepper Spray: What to Do if You're Exposed: Whether it's tear gas or pepper spray, find out what to do if you're exposed."

Help from Vox, "How to fight an outrageous medical bill, explained: Five patients tell us how they pushed back — and won."

A lot of these warmongering conservative Democrats just don't seem to get that "democracy" thing: New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel on Sunday scolded firebrand lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for backing his progressive primary challenger — going so far as to accuse her of acting like a dictator." Endorsing conservadems is just fine, but endorsing progressives is "a dictatorship".

"Beltway Dems Are Trying To Prevent A Progressive Senate: Party leaders are desperately trying to buy the Colorado Senate primary for a scandal-plagued opponent of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. [...] For years, Democratic party leaders have publicly insisted they follow a 'just win, baby' playbook that leads them to support any candidate -- liberal or moderate -- best positioned to win GOP seats. But activists have come to suspect that, in fact, party leaders are actually willing to prioritize crushing progressive candidates, even if that might risk losing general elections to Republicans. Democratic leaders' heavy-handed behavior in Colorado seems to confirm those suspicions -- and it could now jeopardize the entire effort to take back Congress from Donald Trump's party."

"Football Leaks' Rui Pinto in prison with hard-drive passwords in his head: Website provided evidence that led to Manchester City's ban but Pinto has more information and 'authorities are afraid' Lisbon's Judiciary Police prison is situated just down the road from Eduardo VII Park, one of the Portuguese capital's most popular tourist attractions that is famed for its spectacular views of the city and the River Tagus. With only around 25 tiny cells and based in the depths of the giant white building which is the headquarters of the country's antiterrorist and serious crime authorities, the high-security facility is usually reserved for only the most dangerous criminals. For almost the past year, however, it has also been home to Rui Pinto. The 31-year-old, who created the Football Leaks website which provided some of the evidence that led to Manchester City's Champions League ban and numerous other investigations into tax evasion and corruption in football and beyond, is still awaiting trial for alleged extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information despite being extradited to his homeland from Hungary in March 2019. Last week, his lawyers filed a complaint to the European Commission over inconsistencies in the original arrest warrant that accused Pinto of only six offences before that was increased to 147 while he was in custody."

"The Great Seed Piracy: A great seed and biodiversity piracy is underway and it must be stopped. The privateers of today include not just the corporations — which are becoming fewer and larger through mergers — but also individuals like Bill Gates, the 'richest man in the world'. When the Green Revolution was pushed in India and Mexico, farmers' seeds were 'rounded-up' and locked in international institutions, which used these seeds to breed green revolution varieties which responded to chemical inputs. The first two institutions were the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico. These institutes took diversity from farmers' fields and replaced the diversity with chemical monocultures of rice, wheat and corn."

"Racism and the Working Class: When I tell other middle-class professionals who don't know me well that I'm writing a book about working-class culture, it's amazing how often they respond approvingly that 'white racism' is an important subject. My reaction, depending on the circumstance, ranges from embarrassment to rage. It's frustrating that 'working class' reads as all white to so many people who should know better. And it pisses me off that so many educated people assume that the white part of the working class is either uniformly racist and/or that racism is the most distinctive part of their culture. And it often seems there is a background assumption that little or no racism exists among the educated middle class, that all white racism is contained within the working class."

When you think about how hard (and effectively) the United States government has worked to prevent or destroy democracy in the rest of the world, it's hard to believe they wouldn't stop it at all costs in America, too. "The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade w/ Vincent Bevins - MR Live - 6/9/20. [...] Bevins shares the untold story of the US's role in promoting slaughter across Indonesia in the name of securing western capitalist."

"In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco: In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco, which objected to wearing masks to prevent the spread of influenza. They held meetings of thousands of maskless people. San Francisco was ultimately was one of the cities that suffered most from the Spanish Influenza pandemic."

It's one thing when Republicans call you a conspiracy theorist for suspecting them of cheating, but it's another thing when Democrats agree with them. How did that happen? The voting machines are still suspicious, and so are the outcomes of elections. If you can't do a full manual recount and you can't audit, you should assume someone is rigging elections. "There's No Way to Know If ANY U.S. Elections Are Legitimate." (Full show: "Jennifer Cohn talks to Nomiki - Our Democracy Is Eroding.")

Touré Reed is giving interviews for his new book. "The Pitfalls of Liberal Antiracism and Woke Neoliberalism: "Tonight we're speaking with Professor of history at Illinois State University, Touré Reed, about the political implications of seeing racial identities, separated from material relationships, as the engine of American history. Instead, he spells out why the road to a more just society for African Americans broadly is inextricably linked to that of poor and working-class Americans and coalitions built around their material needs." He makes the important point that, contrary to claims of neoliberal identitarians, the New Deal did a lot for black America. And universal programs usually do.

"Adolph Reed, Cedric Johnson, Willie Legette & Michael Brooks 'Bernie, South Carolina & Black Voters'" — Personally, I found this most gratifying to watch because it horrified me to watch otherwise smart people constantly putting pressure on Sanders about being more race-centered, something he did well to avoid in 2015-16 but succumbed to by 2019-20,sadly.

"Antiracism Campaigns: Twenty Years of Making Racism Worse: Studies over twenty years come to the same conclusion: Antiracism fails because it reduces complex problems to race, which strengthens the idea that race matters enormously."

"The Pitfalls of Liberal Antiracism and Woke Neoliberalism (Stay At Home #12) Tonight we're speaking with Professor of history at Illinois State University, Touré Reed, about the political implications of seeing racial identities, separated from material relationships, as the engine of American history. Instead, he spells out why the road to a more just society for African Americans broadly is inextricably linked to that of poor and working-class Americans and coalitions built around their material needs. His latest book out from Verso is titled Toward Freedom: The Case Against Race Reductionism."

Republicans are certainly a big part of the problem, but there's still the other part: [...] When it comes to the problems with policing in this country, Democrats seem fundamentally unable to conceive of themselves as a big part of the problem. At best there is an argument about the Republicans being worse — which is true, and is almost universally true — that is used to deflect criticism. It is necessary to face up to the reality that many of the places with the worst problems with police violence are, and have been, controlled by Democrats at the local level for a long time. If you look at protesters and don't understand why they burn property rather than channel their anger into voting, the very obvious answer is that there is no imaginary future in which voting for Joe Biden and whoever they just elected Mayor will actually solve the problem. Republicans offer pure authoritarianism — they actively *encourage* police to be brutal — while Democrats have done nothing to stop them, or in many cases abetted them."

Taibbi, "The American Press Is Destroying Itself: A flurry of newsroom revolts has transformed the American press. [...] The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily. They've conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it's established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' out loud to a data scientist fired* from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones! Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who'd made politically 'problematic' editorial or social media decisions." There's been other crazy stuff he doesn't mention here, but I actually think James Bennet should have lost his seat at the NYT because he didn't do his job, which is to read stuff before publishing it.

"RAY McGOVERN: How an Internet 'Persona' Helped Birth Russiagate: Guccifer 2.0 turns four years old today and the great diversion he took part in becomes clearer by the day, writes Ray McGovern. Four years ago today, on June 15, 2016, a shadowy Internet persona calling itself 'Guccifer 2.0' appeared out of nowhere to claim credit for hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee on behalf of WikiLeaks and implicate Russia by dropping 'telltale' but synthetically produced Russian 'breadcrumbs' in his metadata. Thanks largely to the corporate media, the highly damaging story actually found in those DNC emails — namely, that the DNC had stacked the cards against Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary— was successfully obscured. The media was the message; and the message was that Russia had used G-2.0 to hack into the DNC, interfering in the November 2016 election to help Donald Trump win. [...] Adding to other signs of fakery, there is hard evidence that G-2.0 was operating mostly in U.S. time zones and with local settings peculiar to a device configured for use within the U.S., as Tim Leonard reports here and here.) Leonard is a software developer who started to catalog and archive evidence related to Guccifer 2.0 in 2017 and has issued detailed reports on digital forensic discoveries made by various independent researchers — as well as his own — over the past three years. Leonard points out that WikiLeaks said it did not use any of the emails G2.0 sent it, though it later published similar emails, opening the possibility that whoever created G2.0 knew what WikiLeaks had and sent it duplicates with the Russian fingerprints. As Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) told President Trump in a memorandum of July 24, 2017, titled 'Was the 'Russian Hack' an Inside Job?': 'We do not think that the June 12, 14, & 15 timing was pure coincidence. Rather, it suggests the start of a pre-emptive move to associate Russia with anything WikiLeaks might have been ready to publish and to 'show' that it came from a Russian hack.' 'The recent forensic studies fill in a critical gap. Why the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original 'Guccifer 2.0' material remains a mystery — as does the lack of any sign that the 'hand-picked analysts' from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who wrote the misnomered 'Intelligence Community' Assessment dated January 6, 2017, gave any attention to forensics.'"

"Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge: Exclusive: prehistoric structure spanning 1.2 miles in diameter is masterpiece of engineering, say archaeologists [...] Four thousand five hundred years ago, the Neolithic peoples who constructed Stonehenge, a masterpiece of engineering, also dug a series of shafts aligned to form a circle spanning 1.2 miles (2km) in diameter. The structure appears to have been a boundary guiding people to a sacred area because Durrington Walls, one of Britain's largest henge monuments, is located precisely at its centre. The site is 1.9 miles north-east of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, near Amesbury, Wiltshire."

"Cycling Into London As Comic Shops (And Everything Else) Open Up: I took a socially distanced bicycle ride into London this morning. Today is the day that the UK government has decreed that non-essential shops are allowed to open across England, and that includes comic shops. Boris Johnson has read all his Tintin books three times over and was clearly in need of something new. So on my Boris bike, I whizzed in, filming as I went..." Lotsa photos and a video.

Boogaloo WTF?

RIP: "Ian Holm, Shakespearean actor in Lord of the Rings, Alien, Chariots of Fire, dies at 88: [...] His agent confirmed the death to the Guardian newspaper in England: 'It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88. He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,' adding that his illness was Parkinson's related. 'Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.'"

RIP: "Dame Vera Lynn: Forces' Sweetheart dies aged 103" — BBC. "Singer known as the 'Forces Sweetheart' whose recordings of We'll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover shaped the national mood in wartime BritainGuardian

Some favorite commentary on the events of the day from Atrios:
* — "Seems Bad: Remember when the Bush administration fired US attorneys and most people in the press refused to believe it because it was too bad to imagine and now George Bush paints dogs so he is good. I bet you don't recall."
* — "Owning The LIbs: As with any policy, it's reasonable to ask just what the enforcement mechanism is. I don't think cops (especially our glorious boys in blue who don't personally seem interested in any kind of responsible behavior such as mask wearing) should be arresting people for not wearing masks. Even if there is precisely zero enforcement of any kind, simply having a rule means that many people will follow it. Most people are rule followers! Signal people should wear masks, and a lot of people will wear masks! Though conservatives arguing one minute that black people deserve to be murdered for not obeying even the mental commands of cops, and then screaming TYRANNY over the unlikely possibility a cop might tell them to wear a mask is, well, you know what it is. These people who aren't wearing masks specifically to OWN THE LIBS, the plague spreading version of rolling coal, are deeply fucked up individuals. Like most efforts to OWN THE LIBS it doesn't make us mad the way they think it does, because we actually aren't the triggered-by-stupid-shit snowflakes they imagine we are. It makes us a bit worried that people are going to die and the whole damn country is going to collapse into the hellmouth."
* — "Bold: Back the dark ages of the internet, even pre-blog time, there was a little online magazine called Slate, which over time got a reputation for "contrarian" thinking. They did do the "that thing you like is actually bad" kind of contrarian stuff, but mostly it was simply a rhetorical ploy, a way of presenting dominant mainstream positions as being rebellious." (There's more.)
* — "Why Won't The Protesters Take Advice From Me [...] It's clear by now that while there unsurprisingly has been some amount of opportunistic theft (looting is loaded word, also, too), the people escalating violent situations are the people tasked with preventing violence. Calls for "nonviolent protest" place the responsibility on the people who are almost entirely not responsible for any violence. Direct it at the people in power." (Do read the rest.)

"On the Groundbreaking Documentary That Brought the Birthplace of Chicago Blues Alive: It Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without 'Guitar King' Michael Bloomfield. [...] 'You gotta make a movie about Maxwell Street, Mike,' Bloomfield said. 'The hustlers, the pimps, those alte kaker businessmen, man, it's real street action. And the music! Blues, gospel, street corner shouters— it's all down there on Maxwell.'

"Make 'This Land is Your Land' the U. S. National Anthem.."

Mr. Sideshow has just stumbled upon a cache of old R. Crumb comics he forgot he had somewhere which included an issue of HUP with a six-page story from 1989 featuring the kidnapping and forced "interview" of "one of the most evil men alive, real estate tycoon Donald Trump!" (Cover)

"Mel Brooks: Why Blazing Saddles Is the 'Funniest Movie Ever Made'

David Malki's Wondermark is an entertaining comic strip.

Smashing socially-distanced performance by Steve Martin and the Philadelphia Orchestra of Martin's "Office Supplies"

Oh, wow, look at these beautiful redwoods in the snow

Audio of the 1978 WorldCon (Iguanacon) Fans to Pros panel with Terry Carr, Harlan Ellison, Richard Lupoff, Bob Silverberg,Ted White (pt.1), illustrated.

Eyeball in the sky: Halo of the Cat's Eye

Carole King & James Taylor, "It's Too Late" (Live at The Troubadour 2007)

1 comment:

  1. whoever provides the vocal comments about cycling needs some vocal help. most of his words are too clipped to understand. his words should be understandable to anyone that speaks English - not just those who speak the way he does. i got tired of trying to decipher what he was saying and stopped the video.