More to ignore, Book 24....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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You can run, but it doesn't look like you can hide, John Eastman
Brandi Buchman

John Eastman’s bid to evade scrutiny from the Jan. 6 Committee hit a significant rough patch Monday when a federal judge rebuffed his request to dismiss a subpoena sent from the panel investigating the Capitol attack to his former employer, Chapman University.

Eastman, a longtime conservative attorney, first came into the probe’s focus when it was revealed that he authored a legally meritless memo for former President Donald Trump strategizing how to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the 2020 election.

In December, he defied a committee subpoena and promptly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Undeterred, the committee then subpoenaed his employer, Chapman University in mid-January, demanding access to Eastman’s emails pertaining to the 2020 election. Though Eastman argued the probe is unauthorized—numerous courts have found otherwise—and that the subpoena to Chapman University was effectively a violation of his privileges, Judge David Carter in California was unmoved, ordering Eastman to produce a log detailing which emails or other records he wants the university to withhold.

This is something known as a “privilege log.”

Eastman maintains his attempt to keep the Jan. 6 Committee away from records at Chapman is founded on concerns over violations of attorney-client privileges generated during his tenure. Judge Carter, according to CNN, rather deftly unwound that position during a court hearing Monday, as he grilled Eastman’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, about the extent of his client’s engagement with former President Donald Trump.

Burnham confirmed during questioning that Eastman corresponded with state legislators four days before the Capitol attack telling them to fix “egregious conduct” that would result in Joe Biden’s inauguration. Burnham also confirmed Eastman was a guest at the so-called “war room” at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., a location where Trump officials and other campaign hangers-on met repeatedly to discuss the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement and other subversion efforts.

And finally, Judge Carter also got Burnham to confirm that Eastman met with both Trump and Pence on Jan. 3 to discuss blocking the impending certification on Jan. 6.

This information is vitally important to the Jan. 6 Committee because it helps to clarify a crucial aspect of the probe: men like Eastman were not acting alone or on their own volition. They appear to have been acting in direct concert with, or at the direction of, former President Donald Trump.

Burnham, according to CNN, confirmed repeatedly that Eastman “had been working for his client, Trump,” in nearly every capacity.

Crucially, the judge informed Eastman’s counsel on Monday too that their team would lose a “broader challenge of the House's authority” to investigate the Capitol attack—part and parcel of nearly every defense launched against the committee—and that Eastman would also be unable to claim that “his constitutional rights of free speech and protection from illegal search were being violated,” CNN reported.

“The court expects that the parties will work together with the urgency that this case requires,” Judge Carter wrote Monday.

The university must now provide Eastman’s attorneys with access to his emails while at the school.

He retired last January and there are roughly 19,000 emails at review.

It is expected those emails will be remitted to Eastman’s attorney by midday Tuesday.

Once they review them, Eastman and his attorney must decide which items they want to keep under privilege and then list them out in a log.

Judge Carter set a fast track for the compliance schedule, ordering the Jan. 6 Committee and Eastman file a status report by this Wednesday before reconvening again this Friday. The committee must also publicly disclose when it corresponded with Eastman in the past.

“The report should summarize the progress made and any disputes the parties are facing,” Judge Carter wrote.

After those reports are issued, Carter set the next status conference for Jan. 31.

Given the volume of the records requested and the sensitivity of privileges involved, the actual review process could take longer than the next week or two.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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......A lawyer for John Eastman told a judge on Monday that his client had been working for Trump when he told state legislators on Jan. 2, 2021, they needed to “fix this, this egregious conduct” that would put Joe Biden in the White House, when he was in the Willard Hotel with other Trump contacts, and when he met with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 3 about blocking the congressional certification of the 2020 vote.

“That work was done pursuant to representation of the president,” attorney Charles Burnham said, when asked specifically about Eastman briefing hundreds of state legislators.

The judge then asked Eastman’s team who his client was during each of the moments the House sought information about in their letter to Eastman announcing his subpoena. Eastman had been working for his client, Trump, his lawyer said in court to nearly every question........

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones met virtually on Monday with the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, he announced on his podcast.

A source familiar with the investigation also confirmed the meeting to CNN.

"I just had a very intense experience being interrogated by the January 6 committee," Jones said on his podcast on Monday. "They were polite, but they were dogged."

Jones said that, by his lawyer's count, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment "almost 100 times," and that he was told to do "on advice of counsel."

Jones said that while he wanted to answer the questions, he was afraid to do so because he believes that the committee, specifically Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, would twist his words, and Jones said he was afraid of not answering all questions correctly and potentially perjuring himself.

"The questions were overall pretty reasonable," Jones said. "And I wanted to answer the questions, but at the same time, it's a good thing I didn't because I'm the type that tries to answer things correctly even though I don't know all the answers, and they can kind of claim that that's perjury because about half the questions I didn't know the answer to."

Jones said he was shown "a bunch of emails" that he had not seen before. He also said that the committee has gotten access to his phone because he was shown text messages from his phone, including messages with January 6 rally organizers Cindy Chafian and Caroline Wren, who also have been subpoenaed by the committee.

"They have everything that's already on my phones and things because I saw my text messages to Caroline Wren and Cindy Chafian and some of the event organizers," Jones said.

Jones was first subpoenaed by the panel in November........
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Bipartisan gang reforms to talk Electoral Count reform, or how to pretend to try to save democracy
Joan McCarter

Congress remains in recess, but with Ukraine hotting up, COVID digging in, and a government shutdown around the corner (as always) actual congressional behind-the-scenes work has not stopped. The White House’s approach, however, is. That includes a salty hot mic moment from President Joe Biden, who has apparently decided to let his inner Biden out when asked a stupid question.

It also extends to the thorn in everyone’s side, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has led Biden and the rest of the Democrats on a merry chase as they try to pin him down on just what he might support in Build Back Better, the big social investment and climate change bill, or even voting rights and the filibuster. Remember, the bill that Manchin voted against last week in his refusal to help break the filibuster was the Freedom to Vote Act. That’s the bill a bunch of Democrats AND MANCHIN wrote after he rejected the House-passed For the People Act. Manchin is such a turncoat he voted against his own bill.

After months of being strung along in public by Manchin, there’s a new approach from the White House, articulated by Press Secretary Jen Psaki Monday. “We’re just not going to speak to or confirm any conversations the President has with members of the Senate, moving forward.”
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That’s prudent. What Manchin was telling the White House in private clearly didn’t match what Manchin has intended to do or say in public. Assuming he was acting in good faith was clearly a mistake.

Speaking of not acting in good faith, the Mitch McConnell/Susan Collins ploy to derail a renewed push for voting rights with a distraction is playing out. Collins has organized a bipartisan gang to ostensibly work on Electoral Count Act reform. The first Zoom meeting was Monday. The group’s focus is on Congress’s and the vice president’s role in certifying elections, and tightening the process up so the kind of coup Trump attempted would be impossible.

In addition to Manchin and Arizonan Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrats in that first meeting were Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Warner of Virginia, Chris Coons of Delaware, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Ben Cardin of Maryland. This group, minus Murphy and Cardin, were the same Democrats who helped derail Biden’s Build Back Better plan by splintering off on the bipartisan hard infrastructure bill, intentionally or not.

Murphy and Cardin might be there to avoid another similar occurrence, like Democrats giving the whole voting rights and elections reforms game away for a milquetoast agreement on counting the votes after the fact. ECA reform is critical, but it can’t replace ensuring the right to vote to every eligible citizen and free and unfettered access to the polls.

If there’s been progress on Build Back Better, or on avoiding a government shutdown after February 18, it’s not been reported publicly. Presumably, those talks are ongoing. Just not the public eye.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Kamala Harris visited Milwaukee to talk about lead pipe replacement, a touching moment was captured
Rebekah Sager

GettyImages-1237962565.jpg


Despite ongoing criticism, Vice President Kamala Harris continues to keep her head down and do her job. In addition to the many accomplishments she’s had in her first year, Monday, she paid a visit to a nonprofit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and displayed a level of compassion most of us had forgotten existed in politics.

Harris was in the Cream City to tout the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which will allocate $48 million to Wisconsin to remove lead pipes. The Biden administration has announced plans to replace all lead pipes over the next decade.

"What we’re excited about is that it is not only going to be about the children and making sure they drink clean water; it’s going to be about investing in the talented people in the community to build up the skills to do the work," Harris said of the lead pipes that snake through the nation.
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Harris delivered her remarks at the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP, a program that recruits and trains people in skilled trades such as construction and plumbing. While there, she met with activists, community and health leaders, and union workers.

"This is an issue that we should as a nation commit to ending," Harris said.

She was joined by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, and Gov. Tony Evers, and met with union members who are working to replace the lead pipes.

Harris also spoke with Milwaukee's chief medical officer, Dr. Heather Paradis, a pediatrician.

"Any amount of lead in the blood is too much. There is no known safe level, and unfortunately, even low levels of lead in a child's blood can have lasting effects on their growth and development and behavior," Paradis said.

The most touching moment of the stop came when mother and activist Deanna Branch talked about her own health journey, overcoming devastating health Issues, her son’s battle with lead poisoning, and his numerous hospitalizations.

"Aidan was hospitalized not once, but twice. So, many moms are going through the same thing," Branch said. Branch showed off a picture book, she created with her son, featuring a superhero who fights the “lead monster.”

"It means a lot to me and my community that I am hearing and talking to you on their behalf," Branch told the vice president.

”You put out the call and it was heard,” Harris replied.

"I’m glad it was heard," Branch responded.

When Branch finished speaking, she and the vice president shared a private moment, where Harris comforted Branch.



The White House estimates between 6 million and 10 million U.S. households and 400,000 schools get water through lead service lines. According to Science, Americans are at risk of lead leaching from old pipes in their homes and city water systems. Exposure to lead can cause neurological problems in adults and delayed or stunted brain development in children.

In recent years, lead pipes and the dangerous health impacts have come into focus, particularly as it impacts a majority of Black and brown communities, most notably the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

"And here in Wisconsin, as has been said $48 million will be dedicated in the year 2022. These investments will create good union jobs, these investments will address the needs of our children, these investments will result in improved public health, the creation of more jobs, the infusion of support for important mentorship programs, and it's just simply the right thing to do." Harris said. "We are long overdue to get this done. And we will get this done. And generations of Americans will forever benefit because of the work that is happening right here in Milwaukee. Thank you."

Of course, many of the Republicans who voted against the infrastructure law were critical of Harris’ trip.

"Wisconsinites deserve to know how the Biden administration’s plan to eliminate cash bail will keep their families safe and address the issue of rising crime rates, not listen to Kamala Harris shill Biden’s floundering agenda,” RNC spokesperson Rachel Reisner said.

But not all Republicans who didn’t sign the law are critical of it. Some who bashed it are now praising it, like the true hypocrites they are.

As The Los Angeles Times reports, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas made no bones about voting against the measure, calling it a “socialist plan full of crushing taxes and radical spending.” But, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that the very same infrastructure bill would be funding a $403-million flood control project in her district in the Fort Worth area, she swiveled her head faster than Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

“This is a great day for Fort Worth,” she said in a statement, failing to mention the bipartisan bill that allocated the money to her.

Rep. Steve Scalise, the House minority whip from Louisiana ripped the law apart. Now, he’s taking credit for it, highlighting the $400 million set aside for his state to mitigate flooding.

To see the moment where Harris comforted Branch skip to 17:56.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine would not be on the brink of invasion were it not for Paul Manafort and Donald Trump
Mark Sumner

In 1995, a collapse of Soviet-era infrastructure created a massive public health disaster in Ukraine’s second-largest city. Over 1.6 million people were left without drinking water, and sewage was polluting local wells and rivers. A deadly cholera outbreak was considered likely and hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes. Then tanker trucks rolled into the city carrying fresh water, and engineers arrived to help plan and execute an overhaul of the failed systems. That assistance came from NATO.

On Tuesday, as NATO continues to position troops in anticipation of an expansion of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, it’s worth remembering that cooperation between Ukraine and NATO is far from new. It’s not an idea that’s been pushed on the country by the United States. It’s not some kind of one-sided deal to place pressure on Russia. NATO assistance and closer ties to the West—including NATO membership—have regularly sought by Ukraine because its government recognized that those bonds offered not just military protection, but an economic stability that could not be found in the criminal oligarchy of Russia and other kleptocratic former Soviet republics.

However, in addition to facing a string of economic, political, and structural disasters left behind by the crumbling Soviet empire, Ukraine soon found that it was also subject to an enormous rising threat: The vaunting ambitions of Vladimir Putin to create a new Russian empire to fill that Soviet-shaped hole.

To support that ambition, Putin sought out allies who would help him break Ukraine by breaking its connection to the West. He needed propagandists. He needed specialists in subverting elections, raising public ire, and spreading lies about the actual threats. And Putin found that assistance — from Republicans.

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MANAFORT​

To fold Ukraine back into his Greater Russia, Putin first had to break its emerging ties with the West. To do so, he engaged former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

Manafort, along with Roger Stone, was one of the founders of Black, Manafort & Stone, a lobbying firm that helped shape Ronald Reagan’s profile for his 1980 victory. That firm also gained another name around the world, where it became known as “The Torturer’s Lobby” for it’s starring role in helping to promote such figures as Philippine authoritarian Ferdinand Marcos, Angolan mass murderer Jonas Savimbi, and Zairian military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

As Spy magazine put it back in 1992, “The well-compensated flacks at Black, Manafort stand at the pinnacle of organizational apologism. Name a corrupt despot, and Black, Manafort will name [a price].”

That price was often quite high. Mobutu signed a million dollar a year deal in 1989, but from all accounts, he got his money’s worth, because as The Washington Post said at the time, “Black Manafort counts some of the heaviest hitters in politics among its clientele, including President Bush and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp. … Paul Manafort, a partner in the firm, admitted to ‘influence peddling’ to win HUD contracts for his clients, including a housing project in New Jersey that local officials called a horrible waste of taxpayers money.”

What did Manafort’s influence peddling get for Mobutu? Quite a lot. “[Mobutu] keeps coming back to Washington with his hand out, and Congress keeps filling that hand, in spite of the human rights abuses in Zaire and the inexplicable lack of progress by the country under his reign.”

In 2004, it was Ukraine’s turn.

In the decade following the Kharkiv water disaster, Ukraine had seen ample evidence that stronger ties to the West offered the nation’s best chance for progress. The nation was negotiating potential affiliations with both NATO and the European Union. Meanwhile Putin was directly fueling corruption and instability in the country, as well as providing both literal and philosophical ammunition to those who wanted to see Ukraine hustle back under Russia’s wing.

The pro-Russian Party of Regions party had both an unsavory reputation as a group of oligarchs and crime bosses supported by Russia. In fact, the party had been created with Russian support as a means of pushing a pro-Russian viewpoint within Ukraine. While they had been successful at getting a lot of publicity, they had little success in placing their candidates in parliament. But in 2004, the Party of Regions officially shifted their positions to become more popular, embracing both many of the promises of the Communist Party and at the same time agreeing that Ukraine needed stronger ties to Europe. The party also brought in a group of high-priced political consultants—from Russia—to assist in planting propaganda about their opponents. Coincidentally, the leading candidate of the most popular party was disfigured by an unknown poison a month before election day.

The previously unsuccessful Party of Regions appeared to squeak out a surprise marginal victory, making candidate Viktor Yanukovych the new president. That lasted only long enough for a second round of voting, in which Yanukovych lost decisively. The period of instability between and around those elections, including the “Orange Revolution” calling for Yanukovych’s removal, eroded Ukraine’s progress toward becoming a stable democratic state.

Following this period of disruption, Yanukovych and the Party of Regions decided that they needed to bring in a real expert — Paul Manafort.

Two years later, as part of growing ties between Ukraine and NATO, U.S. Marines were visiting the Ukrainian city of Feodosia. The Marines were supposed to be part of a military exercise that would see NATO troops and Ukrainian military working together — a precursor to bringing Ukraine into NATO. Except the Marines fell under attack from “angry locals.”

“We had rocks thrown at us,” reported one Marine. “Rocks hit Marines. Buses were rocked back and forth. We were just trying to get to our base.”

The violence was bad enough that Marines were unable to reach either their base or their supply ship. Eventually the situation was described as an anti-NATO “riot.” The joint exercise was cancelled. However, later analysis of that “riot” showed it to be anything but a spontaneous outbreak of anti-Western sentiment.

American diplomatic cables and Ukrainian prosecutors say the anti-US, anti-NATO protests that threatened these Marines were largely partisan plants, organized by politicians who consulted with Paul Manafort, now the prominent campaign aide to presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Manafort’s staged riot did more than cancel a single exercise. It became the “evidence” that Ukrainians didn’t really want ties with NATO. Nine years later, Vladimir Putin directly cited this event to support his claim that Ukrainians supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine that resulted in the occupation of Crimea.

By the time a spiraling list of charges against Manafort caused him to step back as the official head of Trump’s campaign. Manafort had been paid over $12.7 million by pro-Russian forces inside Ukraine. Over a 15-year relationship, one that continued even as he was working for Trump, Manafort helped to spread propaganda, protect corruption, and conduct illegal lobbying in the U.S. all in support of increasing Russia’s claim on Ukraine.

And it wasn’t all filtered through the Party of Regions. In 2005, in between his being hired to help Yanukovych and the attack on those U.S. Marines, Manafort went to Russian officials directly. At that meeting, Manafort “offered to help Vladimir Putin advance Moscow’s interests.” In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Manafort wrote to oligarch Oleg Deripaska to ensure the Putin ally that he could provide: “a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.” Deripaska would then sign Manafort up for a $10 million contract.

As the Republican-led Senate report on Trump’s connections with Russia in 2016 found:

“Paul Manafort's connections to Russia and Ukraine began in approximately late 2004 with the start of his work for Oleg Deripaska and other Russia-aligned oligarchs in Ukraine. … The Russian government coordinates with and directs Deripaska on many of his influence operations.”

Something else that Manafort did in 2005 — he hired Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik as an employee of his consulting firm. Kilimnik would go on to become Manafort’s primary operative in Ukraine, as well as his intermediary in dealings with Vladimir Putin.

With Manafort’s help, and the injection of untold millions from Russia, the Part of Regions gradually absorbed other Ukrainian parties, inked a supposed commitment to the European parliament, and pushed for prosecutions of officials in the ruling party. By 2010, Yanukovych was president for a second time. However, despite having campaigned on support for an already initialed agreement that would make Ukraine an affiliate of the the European Union, Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement. Instead, he signed onto a deal that strengthened Ukraine’s connection with, and dependence on, Russia. The result was two years of protests eventually leading to Yanukovych’s ouster (again) in 2014.

It was only in the wake of this second collapse that ledgers and records began to reveal the extent of Manafort’s role in keeping Ukraine broken and unable to stand up to Putin.

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TRUMP​

The handoff from Manafort to Trump, when it comes to the ongoing injury to Ukraine, was a smooth one. As the Senate report described in 2020:

“Manafort hired and worked increasingly closely with a Russian national, Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer. Kilimnik became an integral part of Manafort's operations in Ukraine and Russia, serving as Manafort's primary liaison to Deripaska and eventually managing Manafort's office in Kyiv.”

And when it came to the Trump campaign:

“Prior to joining the Trump Campaign in March 2016 and continuing throughout his time on the Campaign, Manafort directly and indirectly communicated with Kilimnik, Deripaska, and the pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine.”

That included injecting into the Trump campaign a “peace plan for eastern Ukraine that benefited the Kremlin.”

Trump’s association with pro-Russian oligarchs and the remnants of Yanukovych’s failed regime would then become the basis of the second act for Ukraine and Trump — the one in which Trump tried to leverage Ukraine into a weapon he could use against Joe Biden.

With Rudy Giuliani acting as his agent on the ground, Trump established ties with disgraced prosecutors, exiled oligarchs, and a series of corrupt officials. All of them were willing to give Trump what he wanted: False claims against Biden and his son, Hunter. What they wanted was never in doubt — support for Russia’s goals inside of Ukraine.

To clear the way for this activity, Trump dismissed a well-respected and experienced ambassador so that Giuliani could operate more freely. This came shortly after the New York Times began running a series of false claims by Giuliani that undercut Ukraine’s sitting government and applied a broad brush of corruption to the people and agencies tasked with ending the corruption being sponsored by Putin through Deripaska, Kilimnik, and others.

Ultimately, Trump would attempt to blackmail the president of Ukraine by putting him into an impossible position. In exchange for vital support, Trump would require the Ukrainian government to not only lie about Biden, but to prove that it was just as corrupt as the opposition claimed. To give Trump what he wanted, president Volodymyr Zelensky wouldn’t have been just lying about Joe Biden, he would have been undercutting the foundation of his own government. There was no right solution to the dilemma Trump posed — just a choice of roads to destruction.

When Trump and Putin met in 2018, Putin said that Trump agreed that Crimea belonged to Russia, and that he would “help resolve the conflict” by following the plan Manafort and Kilimnik created, essentially dividing Ukraine down the middle and handing one half to Russia.

But of course, Trump didn’t stop with battering Ukraine. He also helped Putin from the other end. Throughout his time in the White House, Trump constantly attacked NATO, dangled the possibility of the U.S. dropping out of the alliance, and suggested simply destroying the organization. Trump’s actions not only led to an extreme distrust of the U.S. as an ally — especially after the sacrifices NATO nations made in Afghanistan — it left divisions in the organization that are still affecting the ability to mount an effective opposition to Putin’s threats.
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RIGHT WING MEDIA​

The thread that runs from Putin to Manafort to Trump is far from the only infiltration that the Russian leader has made into the Republican Party. Americans have seen such spectacles as Republican senators choosing to spend their 4th of July holiday visiting with Putin. Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson have become reliable mouthpieces for Russian disinformation, and Republican admiration for the authoritarian leader of the Kremlin has been boundless.

Republican actions demonstrating love for Putin is too widespread to be contained in this or any article. So is Russian expertise in using social media to widen social and political divides in the United States. Even definitive proof that Russia engaged in campaign interference that included sending Russian agents to put “boots on the ground” in the U.S. in order to create fake “grassroots” protests, did nothing but deepen the Republican bonds to the Russian dictator. That Russian state media now has an entire network devoted to strengthening the bonds between Putin and wannabe authoritarians around the world doesn’t hurt.

But over the last few weeks, Fox News has conducted a spectacular display of how willing they are to join in with Russia to invade and dismember a U.S. ally, and how eager that are to consider protecting democracy a “threat” that deserves attack.

While this theme has pervaded Fox’s broadcasts, nowhere has it been so jaw-droppingly straightforward as in the weeks Tucker Carlson has spent forwarding the Kremlin’s agenda. That’s included praising Putin’s “strength,” talking up Russia for its “energy resources,” and dismissing the whole idea that there is anything admirable about supporting a long time ally.

As the situation on Ukraine’s borders gets worse, so does Carlson.



If this looks like a fifth-column effort to forward Russia’s agenda in the United States, that’s only because that’s exactly what it is. Not only that, it’s an effective fifth-column effort.



UKRAINE​

Paul Manafort was instrumental in making possible Putin’s first (and still ongoing) invasion of Ukraine. Now the legacy of Donald Trump, paired with ongoing efforts from pro-Russian Republicans and Fox News, are key to utterly destroying a longtime U.S. ally. Currently, more than than 100,000 Russian forces now located just outside that nation. There is little doubt that, should Putin decide attack, he can overwhelm the nation’s defenses in a matter of days and install pro-Russian puppets in Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Fox News continues to undermine support for defending Ukraine with a pro-Russian position that station has been pushing for months.

With the possibility of conflict not just on the horizon, but facing both the U.S. and Ukraine hour by hour, it’s worth noting that the answer to Tucker Carlson’s question of “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” is a simple one: Because Ukraine has been a U.S. ally for decades, to whom we’ve made both diplomatic and military promises. On the other hand, Russia is a longtime antagonist—if not outright enemy—which has worked tirelessly to undermine the U.S. position at home and abroad, including direct interference in U.S. elections and engaging in extensive propaganda efforts designed to weaken America through raising racial tensions.

There is no world in which Ukraine represents a threat to Russia. It does, however, represent a challenge to Vladimir Putin’s vaunting ambitions to stitch together a Russian empire in the shape of the expired Soviet Union. Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has occupied Crimea since that time. It has also funded rebels in eastern Ukraine—some of whom are certainly Russian military forces—creating a constant crisis that drains Ukraine’s resources and resolve.

Support for Ukraine by NATO—and support of NATO within Ukraine—is far from a new thing, and far from something pushed only by the United States. The same thing goes for other connections between Ukraine and the West. This is a former Soviet republic that has desperately sought to escape from the criminal organization that is Putin’s Russia, but has failed to make that escape, in large part because Republicans in the U.S. have been complicit in shoving them back toward Moscow.

What happens now is still up in the air, but any situation that doesn’t end with Ukraine strong, whole, and more closely supported by the West, is a win for Putin and his minions: Tucker Carlson, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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New study finds cash aid to low-income moms increases brain activity in babies
Laura Clawson

Giving low-income mothers cash early in their children’s lives may actually increase brain activity in babies, a new study finds. It adds to the mountain of evidence that keeping children out of poverty makes a big difference in outcomes—a mountain of evidence that every single congressional Republican plus Sen. Joe Manchin prefers to ignore.

In the study, researchers divided a group of low-income mothers and gave some $20 a month while giving others $333 a month, payments that will continue until the children are 4 years old. After a year, electroencephalograms showed that the babies in the high-cash group showed more fast brain activity—which has been linked to cognitive development—than those in the low-cash group. The research is preliminary, and only time and more testing will make clear if that increased brain activity translates into other positive outcomes. But loads of other studies have shown that children in low-income families see major advantages when family income is boosted.
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Kids are less likely to be absent from school, more likely to graduate from high school or attend college, and have higher grades and test scores when their families get added income, studies of income subsidy programs show.

When food stamps were introduced, researchers found that they improved health outcomes into adulthood for people who got the nutritional assistance as kids. High childhood stress, which is strongly associated with poverty, increases the risk of “a host of inflammatory diseases later in life.”

According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, cited by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Results show that low income, particularly in very early childhood (between the prenatal and second year of life), is associated with increases in early-adult hypertension, arthritis, and limitations on activities of daily living. Moreover, these relationships and particularly arthritis partially account for the associations between early childhood poverty and adult productivity as measured by adult work hours and earnings. The results suggest that the associations between early childhood poverty and these adult disease states may be immune-related.”

As that notes, improved health tends to mean increased work hours, and “one study that followed low-income children from early childhood into their adult years found that each additional $3,000 in annual income in early childhood (in 2005 dollars) is associated with an added 135 hours of work per year as a young adult and an additional 17 percent in annual earnings.”

So boosting income for households with children leads—according to multiple studies of multiple subsidy programs—to a range of improved outcomes. But opponents of the expanded child tax credit that dramatically reduced child poverty in the second half of 2021 say that it’s bad because it discourages parents from working, and parents working is the best thing. Those people are even saying that in response to the study that shows that babies have increased brain activity due to an extra $333 per month.


”If you actually believe that child poverty has these negative effects, then you should not be trying to restore unconditional cash aid,” one conservative think-tanker told The New York Times’ Jason DeParle. “You certainly don’t want to go in the business of reversing welfare reform.” Except that, whoops, there are also studies showing that if you increase parental employment without increasing income—all too possible in today’s economy, with the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage—it doesn’t help kids. Increasing household income does. Congress has the policy right at its fingertips—a policy that was in place in 2021 with significant positive short-term results, including a significant reduction in childhood hunger. Republicans and one or two Democrats are blocking it, and with it, blocking improved educational and health outcomes and increased work hours and incomes when those children grow into adults.

 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Alex Jones pleaded the Fifth with Jan. 6 probe but those loose lips on his podcast could haunt him
Brandi Buchman

Conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump stalwart Alex Jones could be digging himself one hell of a hole. Though he eagerly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to over 100 questions during a private meeting Monday with the Jan. 6 committee, once on his podcast, he shared his “unofficial testimony,” portraying himself as an innocent Trump supporter merely swept up in the chaos of Jan. 6.

Politico was first to report Tuesday that Jones sat for the deposition. Neither a committee spokesman nor Jones returned request for comment; however, Jones did breathlessly describe his experience on his show. He noted he was not sworn under oath during the meeting with the committee and underlined that his lawyers told him to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he appeared.

“It can be used against you and twisted against you,” Jones opined Monday night of the remarks he could make.

Calling the committee’s questions “overall pretty reasonable,” he nonetheless insisted it was a “good thing” he stayed silent with the committee because he’s “the type that tries to answer things correctly even if I don’t know all the answers,” he said.
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“And they can claim its perjury … Half of the questions I didn’t know answers to and [they showed] a bunch of emails I’ve never seen, and planning things I’ve never seen, at least from memory, but who knows,” Jones said before adding that Jan. 6 was “all one big blur.”

“And I just jumped into a river of a million people in D.C. and floated down it,” he added. “You cannot control the river when you’re floating on a tube down the rapids.”

Maybe not. But one can bail from that tube and swim hard for shore before irrevocably plummeting over any dangerous falls that could lie around the bend.

Regardless, Jones said the committee also showed him a series of text messages he had with Caroline Wren and Cindy Chafian. Wren was described on a Jan. 6 Women for America First rally permit as a “VIP Adviser” and was reportedly in regular contact with Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about the impending certification of electoral votes.

Wren was also at the alleged center of a bid to park dark money funds to the Trump campaign with the Republican Attorneys General Association and other groups.

Chafian, who is the founder of the pro-Trump Eighty Percent Coalition, was responsible—according to the committee—for submitting the first permit application for the pro-Trump Women for America First rally on Jan. 6. She also spearheaded another pro-Trump rally on Jan. 5 at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza.

Both women were subpoenaed last fall, and both have reportedly been cooperative with the probe.

In his post-deposition appearance, Jones insisted he did not use members from either the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys to serve as his private security while he was in Washington on Jan. 6.

Referencing the extremist groups, he said he wasn’t “putting these people down” when he decided to hire “12 or 14 security people” from a private firm based in Austin, Texas, instead.

“I try to go and get professional people,” he said, claiming that members of his detail were former D.C. and Maryland police officers.

“There’s no way I have D.C. police and Maryland police off duty trying to do an insurrection. By the way, the company we hired was all Black guys … Big Black guys. They are all the size of NFL lineman—I mean, 6’8”, 6’6” were the little guys … and they were Democrats, I think basically, or nonpartisan leaning liberal,” Jones claimed.

Jones also said he didn’t see the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers as a major threat on Jan. 6 when discussing sedition charges on the podcast that were recently brought against Oath Keepers, including its former leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes.

Jones merely saw it all as “LARPing” or “live action role playing.”

“So, no, we didn’t go with some premeditated plan … We didn’t believe the Capitol was being attacked with D.C. or Maryland Black police. Give me a damn break. And we got the hell out of there once we couldn’t stop it,” Jones said Monday.

The commentator claimed he tried to stop the chaos to no avail once he “learned there were a bunch of people inside the Capitol.”

He lamented having a “mission impossible job” after he said he was asked to “jump onto Pennsylvania Avenue” and try to control the crowd.

He called the rioters “dumb” and “stupid.”

“I didn’t support it that day and I don’t support it now,” he said.

Andrew Laufer, a civil rights attorney, reflected to Daily Kos on Tuesday about Jones’ remarks.

“If he took the Fifth, then spews whatever nonsense on his show which is covered by its assertion, he waives his right and can be compelled to answer the question [or questions],” Laufer said.

David Oddo, a former state prosecutor and onetime president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, told Daily Kos “statements are always subject to cross examination in court and the committee can consider those statements in any determination they make.”

The ramifications also depend on whether the case is a civil or criminal matter.

If Jones’ statements were not made under oath, Oddo cautioned, then they may not be “construed as a waiver of the Fifth Amendment privilege that he asserted before Congress though.”

Oddo added that the Fifth Amendment is a “little complicated in its application.”

But for anyone who testifies before Congress, Laufer said they are still subject to 18 U.S. Code 1001.

“You don’t have to be under oath in order to be held criminally liable regarding information contained in a statement,” Laufer said. “If he makes any incriminating statement under any circumstance, he can be held criminally liable for it.”

Whether Jones realizes this or cares is unclear. But he takes his fate into his own hands with a mountain of damning content behind him, including seemingly endless videos available online where he is heard telling people to “take back” the country and have “another 1776” in the wake of the 2020 election.

“They will be hiding, they will pay, they will be destroyed because America is righteous. 1776 is the answer to 1984,” Jones said in a diatribe delivered at a pro-Trump rally in Arizona on Nov. 5.

A month later in Washington, just one night before the Capitol attack, Jones railed before a large group: “I don’t know how this is all going to end, but if they want to fight, they better believe they’ve got one.”

By morning, Jones posted a video to his website where he’s heard saying that “we declare 1776 against the new world order.”

“We need to understand we’re under attack and we need to understand that this is 21st-century warfare and get on war footing,” Jones said.

Outside of the Capitol on Jan. 6, Jones also spoke to those gathered. He can be heard on video saying: “Let’s march around the other side and let’s not fight the police and give the system what they want.”

Jones told the crowd Trump was “going to speak” and that Trump “was coming.”

Whether Trump truly intended to join his followers or use their presence to sow chaos and delay the counting of certified votes is a key issue at the center of the Jan. 6 probe.

Jones’ speaking record in the runup to the insurrection was absolutely littered with pro-Trump messages and election disinformation, something he shared as far and as widely as he could.

His rhetoric was pumped up, often violent, and unquestionably inflammatory.

Referring to Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the Jan. 6 committee on Monday as a “Moray eel ready to come out of the rocks to eat me,” Jones tried to spin a different story for himself.


“Let's get something clear for the committee and my audience and everybody else: I don't want a civil war in this country and that's a terrible idea … I don't want lawlessness by anybody. And I don't want anybody attacking anybody, okay?"
 

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Exclusive: Federal prosecutors looking at 2020 fake elector certifications, deputy attorney general tells CNN

Federal prosecutors are reviewing fake Electoral College certifications that declared former President Donald Trump the winner of states that he lost, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CNN on Tuesday.

"We've received those referrals. Our prosecutors are looking at those and I can't say anything more on ongoing investigations," Monaco said in an exclusive interview.

The fake certificates falsely declaring Trump's victory were sent to the National Archives by Trump's allies in mid-December 2020. They have attracted public scrutiny amid the House's January 6 investigation into the pressure campaign that sought to reverse Trump's electoral defeat.

Monaco did not go into detail about what else prosecutors are looking at from the partisan attempt to subvert the 2020 vote count. She said that, more broadly, the Justice Department was "going to follow the facts and the law, wherever they lead, to address conduct of any kind and at any level that is part of an assault on our democracy."

This is the first time that the Justice Department has commented on requests from lawmakers and state officials that the it investigate the fake certifications.

The certificates contain the signatures of Trump supporters who falsely claimed to be the rightful electors in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico -- all states that President Joe Biden had won. Some of the certificates were sent by top officials representing the Republican Party in each state, according to the documents, which were obtained and made public by the watchdog group American Oversight.

In her interview with CNN, Monaco also touted the efforts the Justice Department has made to address the threats and harassment that election officials have faced.

"I'm concerned about the really disturbing nature of the threats that we've seen. They've been disturbingly aggressive, and violent and personal," Monaco said. She pointed to an indictment unveiled by the Justice Department last week alleging that a Texas man had threatened to kill Georgia election officials. The indictment was the first to be brought after the formation of a department task force focused on the issue.


"Those charges were the first coming out of that task force but they will not be the last," Monaco said.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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According to a new ethics report released Monday, life as a congressional staffer in the office of Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is…quite strange.

For starters, Lamborn wants you, his office staffer, to give him Christmas presents—beer and food preferred—with a value between $125 and $200.

Also, Congressman Lamborn would like you to throw his daughter-in-law a party to celebrate her naturalization ceremony. While such a party could happen for another constituent, according to this report, the office never seems to have held one for anyone else. “None that I can think of,” as one staffer put it.

Meanwhile, Lamborn’s son could also use your help polishing his résumé for a Pentagon job and running a few mock interviews. But Lamborn, the report says, believes his staff would do this kind of prep work for any constituent who’s a veteran—even though one aide said he’d done “nothing like that” before.......
 

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WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—After the Supreme Court authorized the release of Donald J. Trump’s documents related to the Capitol insurrection, Hillary Clinton recommended that congressional Republicans examine the former President’s e-mails.


“I know that Republicans have thousands of documents to go through,” she said. “But, if I were them, I’d take a close look at Trump’s e-mails.”

Clinton said that she had “no idea” what is in Trump’s e-mails, but added, “Given how hard he tried to keep them from being released, those must be some e-mails.”.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Oath Keepers plead 'not guilty' to charges of seditious conspiracy, as founder asks for release
Mark Sumner

Ten of the eleven members of the white supremacist militia group Oath Keepers who have been charged with seditious conspiracy, including founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes, pleaded not guilty in a virtual hearing on Tuesday. The eleventh person charged was not present, and did not enter a plea.

The judge in this case is U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, the same judge who earlier dealt with, and dismissed, claims that Trump has “absolute immunity.” Judge Mehta also forced Trump’s attorney’s to backtrack over claims that Trump had tried to calm down the situation on Jan. 6.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Mehta reviewed the seriousness of the charges, and asked federal prosecutors to explain a change in the charges, specifically why Rhodes was being charged with the more serious form of conspiracy under 18 USC 1512k. As Marcy Wheeler explained back on Jan 13, this form of conspiracy opens the potential for a lengthier sentence, including potential “enhancements for threats of assassination and kidnapping.”

A court date for the charges has tentatively been set for July. But within the next two days, Rhodes is going to face the results of a ruling from another judge.

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Rhodes is currently being held without bond at a federal penitentiary in Plano, Texas after attorneys from the Justice Department explained his role in organizing the plot to “oppose by force the execution of the laws of the United States.” According to the DOJ, “Under these circumstances, only pretrial detention can protect the community from the danger Rhodes poses." Prosecutors pointed to messages and emails Rhodes sent during the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, including one that read “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war.”

Rhodes earlier tried, and failed, to obtain his release. However, earlier this week Rhodes went before judge Kimberly Priest Johnson. As WFAA reports, federal prosecutors again stated that “there are no conditions of release that can reasonably assure the safety of the community or the defendant's appearance in court."

At the hearing, the DOJ submitted a series of texts from Rhodes that preceded the Jan. 6 events.

[We] "need to scare or intimidate members of congress."
"...about a million surrounding them should do the trick."
"The only chance we have is if we scare the sh*t out of them....to do the right thing."

Defense attorneys argued that Rhodes hasn’t threatened anyone lately. (No, seriously, the argument that Rhodes hasn’t threatened anyone while he was being investigated by the FBI was the best thing they put forward.) The attorneys also argued that Rhodes wasn’t a flight risk because he loves publicity and the trial would be “a very public platform.” Which also doesn’t seem like the most compelling argument to release someone who purchased $40,000 of ammunition just before Jan.6.

Judge Johnson promised a ruling within 48 hours. But as she contemplates that decision, this might help:

Meanwhile his ex-wife in Montana continues to say the thought of having him released "is a living nightmare."

The charges of seditious conspiracy against Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers puts paid to assertions from Republicans that no one involved in the assault on the Capitol was facing more than minor charges. It also opens the door to other serious charges against groups like the Proud Boys, the organizers of the Jan 6 events, and hopefully, against the people actually behind both the Big Lie and the attempted coup.
 

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The University of Florida had to know it was going to lose this case. Barring professors from testifying as expert witnesses is a classic prior restraint, and doing it selectively based on whether they’re speaking against the state is unambiguously not content neutral. But the school probably didn’t expect to get compared to the Chinese Communist Party in the very first paragraph of the order granting the injunction.

So it had to sting when US District Chief Judge Mark Walker began by invoking a statue commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre victims which was recently removed from the University of Hong Kong’s campus because administrators decided that disappearing a marker of Chinese government violence was in “the best interest of the University.” And in case the analogy wasn’t clear, the court described the ongoing decline of academic freedom in Hong Kong as university administrators buckle under China’s demands for “greater patriotism and national Chinese identity” in education.

In Florida, as in Hong Kong, academics are being censored at the behest of a capricious state which brooks no dissent. Election law scholars Daniel A. Smith, Michael McDonald, and Sharon Wright Austin were blocked from testifying in a suit alleging that a recently enacted law deliberately disenfranchises minority voters because administrators determined that their testimony might “pose a conflict to the executive branch of the state of Florida create a conflict for the University of Florida.”

Two additional law professors were later added as plaintiffs, as well as pediatrics professor Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, who was refused permission to testify in a challenge to the governor’s order barring school districts from requiring students to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Goldhagen was providing his services pro bono and still ran afoul of administrators — which somewhat undercuts the school’s protestation that what it objected to was outside paid work.

After the complaint was filed, the university revised its policy on professors taking outside work. Perhaps taking a page from the Supreme Court, the school invoked its own sort of major questions doctrine. Henceforward, there would be a “strong presumption” that UF faculty could testify as expert witnesses in cases involving the state, but the school reserved the right to gag employees “when clear and convincing evidence establishes that such testimony would conflict with an important and particularized interest of the university.”

And in case there was any doubt that they meant “we’re going to stifle you if you piss off Tallahassee,” UF Board Chair Morteza Hosseini said that he wasn’t going to let professors “improperly advocate personal political viewpoints to the exclusion of others.”

“It must stop, and it will stop,” he railed to the board in December. “Let me tell you, our legislators are not going to put up with the wasting of state money and resources, and neither is this board.”

Clearly the school intended to stifle scholars’ speech, and, indeed, that is exactly what happened, according a report issued by UF faculty:

[T]he Report said, there was a “[c]oncern that denials for outside activities were tied to questions of race and ethnicity,” that UF “employees were told verbally not to criticize the Governor of Florida or UF policies related to Covid-19 in media interactions,” and that “websites were required to be changed, that course syllabi had to be restructured, and that use of the terms ‘critical’ and ‘race’ could not appear together in the same sentence or document.” and a German term for self-censorship for fear of retribution

But there’s losing, and there’s getting your ass kicked down the courthouse steps by a furious federal judge. Apparently the school decided to go with the second option, dispatching H. Christopher Bartolomucci, a partner at a D.C. firm Schaerr Jaffe LLP, to attempt to gotcha the plaintiffs last week by accusing them of “misconduct” and having “unclean hands” because they began preparing their expert testimony before getting official approval for the work.

“This Court cannot help noting the sad irony that UF touts its strong ‘presumption’ favoring speech with one breath and with the other condemns Plaintiffs as liars with unclean hands for having the audacity to presume that UF would approve their requests to speak,” Judge Walker writes in one of many furious footnotes, observing that outside work as an expert witness was routinely permitted in the past, and so the plaintiffs had every expectation of a pro forma approval.

“This Court finds Defense counsel’s argument disingenuous,” Judge Walker went on, accusing the lawyers of “feigning ignorance” and adding that it is the defendants, not the plaintiffs, who have “an issue of candor.”

In fact, the court seemed more than a little irate at the quality of lawyering from the school, noting that he asked several times for the defendants to distinguish this case from Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968), which established the right of an employee to speak as a citizen on a matter of public concern.

For one, at the first hearing, Defendants’ counsel made the dubious assertion that he had no idea that this case implicated the Supreme Court’s test from Pickering and its progeny. For the uninitiated, that is roughly equivalent to an attorney in an abortion case feigning surprise in response to a question about Roe v. Wade and its progeny. Even so, this Court permitted Defendants to file additional briefing and continued the hearing. Defendants’ supplemental brief, however, added nothing.

OUCH.

But wait, there’s more!

Defendants first had the chance to address the issue in their initial briefing. But they did not. Defendants then had the opportunity to address the issue at the first hearing. Instead, they claimed to not know that Pickering applied to this case. This Court then gave Defendants another chance to brief the issue. But what Defendants submitted was hardly a brief. Sure, it had words, citations, etc.—all of the trappings of a brief. Yet it was utterly devoid of meaningful content. Finally, Defendants had a fourth chance to discuss the issue at the second hearing. Defendants, however, quickly announced that they had said everything they wanted to say about Pickering in their brief—i.e., nothing.

Well, as long as the words “critical” and “race” don’t appear too close together, Florida taxpayers are probably getting their money’s worth.

Unsurprisingly, plaintiffs got their injunction on enforcement of the school’s conflict of interest policy, with the court refusing to stay its order pending appeal.

“In short, UF’s policy violates the First Amendment as a prior restraint that grants UF unbridled discretion to suppress protected speech,” Judge Walker held. “Even if UF’s policy could survive Plaintiffs’ unbridled discretion challenge, it still violates the First Amendment because it allows UF to bar professors from speaking based on the viewpoint of their speech.”

And if the defendants are unhappy about the ruling, the court has some very pointed advice: “If those in UF’s administration find this comparison upsetting, the solution is simple. Stop acting like your contemporaries in Hong Kong.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ron DeSantis once again bet on a miracle COVID-19 cure that doesn't work—and vows to use it, anyway
Hunter

Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis has been trying to make a name for himself as a Republican willing to be a Worse Donald Trump, and he hasn't been missing a single beat lately in trying to out-Trump the former Dear Leader. He was quick to realize that Republican voters really, really wanted fake COVID-19 treatments, and while he ceded the "what if we somehow shoved a disinfecting light up everyone's ---" territory to Donald, he went all-in on hydroxycholorowhateveride, then switched to becoming the nation's top promoter of monoclonal antibody therapies after the state's hydroxywhatever stockpiles were proven utterly useless.

DeSantis has, in fact, been touting extremely expensive monoclonal antibody treatments as preferable to being vaccinated against COVID. Imagine his fury, then, as the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 variant turned those drugs from expensive-but-plausible early treatments to utterly useless.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Monday that it will be revoking the emergency use authorizations for Regeneron and Eli Lilly-manufactured monoclonal antibody treatments. The reason for the reversal is straightforward: While the therapies did appear to have some merit in fighting earlier COVID-19 variants, they have proven to be ineffective in combating the omicron variant now responsible for over 99% of new U.S. COVID cases. They've been tested; they don't work.
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There are other monoclonal antibody treatments that do still seem to work, but not those two. The FDA, therefore, is withdrawing emergency use authorization for now so that people aren't being treated with drugs that the FDA and the companies themselves agree aren't useful.

The point of treating sick COVID patients is to make them less sick, after all. The point isn't to load them full of treatments that don't work so that scientifically illiterate political figures can boast to their fans that they know the secret cure for our pandemic troubles.

That brings us to the scientifically illiterate political figure in question: Ron DeSantis. As you can imagine, Ron is extremely furious that he has once again centered his political ambitions on a miracle cure that turns out to not do a damn thing, and because Ron is a Republican, and therefore a hoax-promoting fascist, he is instead insisting that this is all a trick, the FDA is doing it to spite him and to hurt Florida, and he's going to make sure Florida's many, many seriously ill COVID patients are pumped full of the two treatments even if he has to sue the federal government to make it happen.

We should note again here that Ron is not a doctor or a medical professional of any kind, and that the closest he comes to one is the part where he inherited the office of a fellow Republican who helped commit the then-largest medical fraud in United States history before popping off to be a U.S. senator. Ron is not only not a medical professional, Ron has never been "professional" about anything in his entire life. But he's very invested in these two particular drugs, perhaps literally, and so all the medical studies in the world aren't going to convince him not to inject people with them.

This is still underselling the extent to which the DeSantis office is now a three-ring crackpot circus, however. The Washington Post's Aaron Blake highlights the simultaneous ravings of DeSantis spokescreature Christina Pushaw, who has become Twitter-infamous for the sort of conspiracy peddling and frothing commentary one normally associates with QAnon urine-drinkers. Pushaw has been retweeting claims that "the FDA is trying to make it so that people in Florida die of COVID."

Looking at it from a distance, it would seem that the people trying the hardest to make sure Floridians die of COVID are those who belittle vaccines, go to great legal and quasi-legal lengths to undermine pandemic safety measures, and now insist that Floridians be treated for COVID with two drugs known to not work—but that would be rude.

And we wouldn't want to be rude, because that would sell the serial-killing sociopathic Trump wannabe and his cretinous minions short. DeSantis has dedicated himself to promoting fake COVID cures while sabotaging real COVID precautions ever since he watched the party's previous Dear Leader sail through an entire pandemic using only those two tools and the halfhearted coaching of a son-in-law. DeSantis deserves far more recognition for his pandemic-escalating actions than mere rudeness can properly convey.

Anyhoo, we'll soon see how far Ron DeSantis is willing to go in his quest to inject Floridians with the useless drugs he bet on rather than the useful ones he didn't. Perhaps he will call out the state National Guard and forcibly start injecting patients—and billing them, of course—with the drugs as part of a new "monoclonal antibody mandate." The Republican base would love it, and insist the state abide by it because, obviously, a mandate like that ought to be enforced.


A toast to Ron DeSantis and his miracle cure, they'd shout, and the Florida air would ring with the sound of clinking glasses. What would be in those glasses? The miracle cure Ron DeSantis will settle on after this miracle cure goes down in flames, of course. You and I can both guess.
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'Rona DeSantis outraged after feds revise authorizations for COVID-19 treatments that don't work
Rebekah Sager
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump's unlaunched 'Truth Social' media network already has lots of competition, critics
Kerry Eleveld

Donald Trump's nascent social media network, Truth Social, is reportedly courting influencers for a launch in the next couple months, according to Axios.

The anticipated entrance of Truth Social into a crowded field of conservative media platforms fighting for the same finite audience is sure to trigger a brawl for users. Twitter-esque rivals such as Gettr, run by former Trump aide Jason Miller; Gab.com, which bills itself as the ultimate free speech platform; and Parler, which surged in November 2020 the weekend after major outlets called the election for Joe Biden, have already started hedging their bets.
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Gettr, which claims some 4 million users, courted Trump with a multimillion-dollar offer to be its marquee user. Although Trump turned down the offer in favor of his own yet-to-be launched network, Gettr has reserved his handle in hopes he might change his mind. Parler, whose user base was recently surpassed by Gettr, also reportedly made Trump an offer.

The CEO of Gab.com, Andrew Torba, has chosen to go the opposite direction, blasting both Trump and Trump-aligned Gettr as sellouts to the bigger movement of Trumpism. Torba has skewered Trump for promoting vaccines—which he called "the death jab"—as "so cringe," and he has shared clips of conspiracy monger Alex Jones promising to "declare war" on Trump for his vaccine support.

Torba appears to be preemptively trying to cleave his 3 million users away from Trump before the launch of Truth Social. Torba, for instance, recently posted his full response to an inquiry from The Washington Post for an article about right-wing sites.

"President Trump has turned into a vaccine salesman which is a total and complete disconnect with the overwhelming vast majority of his voting base," Torba wrote. "His non-stop vaccine shilling has turned many of his supporters off completely."

Torba continued, "People aren’t and never were coming to Gab for an online Trump rally. People are coming to Gab for the Truth and to speak freely."

Civiqs polling has recorded a softening of support for Trump that backs up Torba's argument to some extent.

But the big problem for all these right-wing and conservative inclusive platforms, including Facebook clone Rumble and the chat service Telegram, is they are all fighting for an audience share that is relatively small and stagnant. For example, a platform like Twitter totally eclipses its right-wing counterparts, claiming more than 200 million active users globally and nearly 40 million in the U.S. alone.

As The Washington Post recently noted, many right-wing influencers who joined the conservative sites following Jan. 6 and Trump's deplatforming on mainstream media experienced a flashpoint of growth. "But those audiences have barely grown in the year since. In some cases, they even declined," writes the Post.

Right-wing sites are now suffering the same phenomenon of infighting and backbiting that has plagued Trump's right-wing provocateurs, such as Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell.

They are all competing for space and influence among a diminishing audience that shows no signs of growth. So while Trump's base is still passionate and Trumpism remains extremely dangerous, they have not proven to be scalable and largely mainstream-able.

That limiting conundrum could rebound to the benefit of American democracy if right-wing outlets and moneygrabbers turn their followers against each other, splintering both Trump’s base and its malign influence.
 

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Two years after being cast out of the White House, Stephen K. Bannon spoke from a steep, dusty hill outside El Paso, asking for donations. The former investment banker and Hollywood producer wanted cash in 2019 for his latest quest, to privately build President Donald Trump’s stalled border wall.

Not many news outlets were paying attention — except for one focusing on his every word.

It wasn’t Fox News or Newsmax. It wasn’t even Breitbart News, the far-right website Bannon once led, using it to help remake the GOP and elect Trump.

The coverage came from an upstart network run by a little-known media mogul in Colorado, a felon with a record of unpaid taxes and a family history marked by tragedy and violence. The mogul, Robert J. Sigg, found news value in Bannon’s mission to the desert, which ultimately resulted in fraud charges.

When Bannon launched his own talk show in the fall of 2019, calling it “War Room,” he quickly handed over its distribution to Sigg.

More than two years later, the arrangement has paid off for both men. Sigg used “War Room” as a springboard for an expanded network of conservative hosts — bringing him the commercial opportunity he sought.

The network, Real America’s Voice, helped sustain Bannon despite his removal from YouTube, Spotify and other mainstream platforms. It brings his show into as many as 8 million homes hooked up to Dish satellite television, many in rural, conservative areas without reliable cable coverage.

The rise of Real America’s Voice, built around Bannon and distant from the traditional power structures of cable television and talk radio, reveals how the country’s fractured media landscape has empowered unconventional actors following market incentives toward more and more extreme content.........
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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'Adiós Sinema': Voto Latino announces campaign to replace Arizona senator
Gabe Ortiz

Voto Latino announced Monday evening that its launching a six-figure campaign to unseat and replace Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. The advocacy group says on the Adiós Sinema website that in siding with the Jim Crow filibuster over critical voting reforms, “Sinema’s actions directly undermine and suppress the right and wellbeing of Latinos that elected her into office.”

“Make no mistake: Senator Sinema owes her political career to Latino voters,” Voto Latino President María Teresa Kumar says at the website. “She clearly doesn’t understand that she can’t take that support for granted. Grassroots Latino leaders in Arizona and in Washington repeatedly reached out to Senator Sinema and urged her to protect our constitutional right to cast a vote and have it count, but she refused. Now voters will have the last word.”
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Kumar said in announcing the campaign on Rachel Maddow’s show Monday night that the organization “did not make this decision lightly. We had conference calls and we spoke to individuals, we engaged and we engage with Senator Sinema. We are very clear on the day of the vote what we needed her to do.” But as all know, she (along with West Virginia’s Joe Manchin) joined all Senate Republicans to kill critical voting legislation named after a civil rights icon she’s dared call her
“hero.”

Kumar said Sinema “did not take seriously this idea that voting is the essence as the president said it`s the threshold of democracy, where millions of Arizonans and Latinos will be disenfranchised, millions of Americans across the country if we do not have fair, free elections at the federal level where everybody, regardless of party, are just playing by the same rules.”




Maddow cited a recent poll of Arizona Democrats finding that 72% of respondents “would prefer that there was a different candidate for her seat than her next time around. Another poll found at the best-case scenario for her it would be a very crowded primary for her seat, in a very crowded primary, she would still lose the primary by four points.” Rep. Ruben Gallego, a U.S. military veteran who represents the state’s 7th district, said some of Sinema’s colleagues in the Senate have in fact urged him to challenge her.

"To be honest, I have gotten a lot of encouragement from elected officials, from senators, from unions, from your traditional Democratic groups, big donors,” Gallego recently told CNN. “Everything you can imagine under the sun." He told the outlet that he’ll make a decision on whether to primary Sinema next year.

Latino and Indigenous activists and voters were critical in sending Mark Kelly to the Senate last November. They also delivered the state to President Biden, who became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state in more than two decades. “In Arizona, 30% of the electoral base is Latino,” Kumar said. “By the time that Senator Sinema [gets] on the ballot, we`re going to have 162,000 newly minted eligible voters that have just turned 18 within the last four years.”

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Voto Latino is the first major Latino organization to challenge Sinema following her betrayal to Arizonans. She’s also lost support from EMILY's List and NARAL. "We believe the decision by Sen. Sinema is not only a blow to voting rights and our electoral system but also to the work of all of the partners who supported her victory and her constituents who tried to communicate the importance of this bill," said EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler.

”We have to remind folks that it wasn`t just the filibuster,” Kumar continued. “If we cannot access the voting booth, everything else that Arizonans say that they care about, whether it`s the environment because they don`t have—they don`t have water, whether it’s access to health care, whether it’s access to minimum wage, none of that is possible because there`s an obstructionist government right now that`s being held by the minority party and is being espoused by the minority of Americans, not the majority of Americans.”
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BS Arguments From Sinema Backers About How Wrong It Is To Censure Her.
Merlin196357
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
98,211
18,205
1


Georgia Republicans roll out big Southern welcome back for mumps, measles, whooping cough, and polio
Mark Sumner

Currently, children attending school in Georgia are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningitis, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and polio. For some of these diseases, as many as five doses may be required for a school-aged child. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Georgia Institute of Technology, both based in Atlanta, Georgia, have been instrumental in developing these vaccines and vaccine delivery systems that have allowed kids to be treated with safe and effective preventive medications for generations.

Before these vaccines were available, the number of children dying from each disease in a single year wasn’t huge—nothing like the numbers of people falling to COVID-19 today. Measles might take away 500 children in a year while leaving another 1,000 with lasting brain damage. Similar numbers would fall to mumps. In its peak year, polio killed 3,152 people in America, most of them children. Another 54,000 were left with some level of paralysis. Pertussis—whooping cough—was the biggest of the regular reapers of children, taking some 9,000 a year before there were vaccines.

Really, in any given year, the threat to any individual child was small; the kind that would have a modern television pundit calculating that 99.9% chance of survival. But those children ran this gauntlet again the next year, and the next. The cumulative threat was great enough that the difference was enormous.

In 2000, less than 2% of deaths in the United States were for people under 20. In 1900, 30% of all deaths were among children under 5. That’s the difference that the elimination of childhood diseases has made.

And that’s what a new bill in Georgia would roll back.

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The bill before the Georgia legislature goes under the guise of prohibiting “state and local governments from mandating vaccine passports.”

If there’s any doubt about what is considered a part of state or local government, the bill specifically calls out: “Every state department, agency, board, bureau, office, commission, public corporation, and authority; Every county, municipal corporation, school district, or other political subdivision of this state; Every department, agency, board, bureau, office, commission, authority, or similar body of each such county, municipal corporation, or other political subdivision of this state; and Every city, county, regional, or other authority established pursuant to the laws of this state.” If there’s anything not covered there, it’s hard to think of what it might be.

If there’s any thought that this might apply only to vaccines related to COVID-19, that’s made clear in the remainder of this very, very short bill.

“No agency shall require proof of any vaccination of any person as a condition of providing any service or access to any facility, issuing any license, permit, or other type of authorization, or performing any duty of such agency. No agency, through any rule, regulation, ordinance, resolution, or other action shall require that any person or private entity require proof of vaccination of any person as a condition of providing any service or access to any facility, or as a condition of such person or private entity's performance of any regular activity by such person or private entity."


Under this law, no school can require vaccination—of any sort—for children. Or teachers. The same would be true of any other organization, including county health departments or government-affiliated hospitals. And if there is any thought that some other provision of Georgia law might nullify this effect, that’s not the case:

SECTION 2.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

This is a law that has 17 sponsors in the Georgia general assembly. It’s a law designed by people who are willing to see the landscape littered with small tombstones if that’s what it takes to own the libs.

Don’t let it be said that Republicans aren’t willing to sacrifice. They’ll put their own kids and grandkids on the altar. Just not themselves. Because they’ve all been vaccinated.

And it’s not the only such bill under consideration.