More to ignore, Book 51..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A look inside banned Florida math textbooks suggests Republicans simply lied about what's in them
Hunter

Thanks to actual journalist Judd Legum and crew, we're finally able to look inside some of those math textbooks Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Republican gubbermint found to contain "indoctrination." Legum's Popular Information was able to find copies of eight of the rejected textbooks.

A clue that even Ron DeSantis knows that his Department of Education is reeeeeally stretching in their claims of "indoctrination" might be his emphasis on "social-emotional learning" as a new bogeyman. Even with fascist Republicanism's new, expansive definitions of "critical race theory," you can't squeeze out much panic from a math textbook. But if you expand your complaints to complaints about children being
indoctrinated into giving a flying shit about anyone around them, sure, you can probably find quite a bit more to object to.

So that's what team book-banning appears to be leaning on most heavily in order to winnow down which math textbooks can be shown to Florida's impressionable preteens. Barney the Dinosaur and his
sharing is caring crap is right out. Barney was a damn communist, and Florida Republicans are going to make sure young children aren't exposed to something called (checks notes) "critical thinking" or "learning to work together." That child over there is learning to "value the ideas of others!" Witchcraft!
.......
Legum has some nice pictures of what appears to be the most objectionable content. In one first-grade math textbook, children are told that when we "work together" on solving problems, we "listen to our friends and teachers." In another textbook, first-graders are encouraged to "share your ideas," "ask helpful questions," and "disagree respectfully."

Communism! It's all communism! The Republican Party has been completely retooled around the idea that nobody should ever "disagree respectfully." If you disagree with someone you should tell them to take off their mask, you should cough in their face, you should make big ol' banners that insinuate swear words to bash the president you disagree with, you should get them fired, you should ban the books they write, and you should declare that everyone except for you is a pedophile!

Do you think even for a moment Florida Republicans are going to let a first-grade math textbook through that encourages kids to "disagree respectfully" or "value ideas from others" when learning how to work in groups? Truly, communism is afoot in our public schools. This is yet another reason, Republicans will insist, why parents need to be given vouchers so that they can go to private Republican schools where they can learn how to
not value ideas from others and not disagree respectfully.

Oh, and also curiously enough, both of those examples are illustrated with drawings that feature A Black Person. Coincidence? Hard to say, but it became a theme in Popular Information's examples of theoretically objectionable content. Other examples include short profiles of non-white mathematicians; a genetics-themed math problem that notes Black Americans are far more at risk of sickle cell anemia than white Americans; and another brief example from a high school textbook noting that "stereotyping" can lead to faulty "inductive reasoning" versus "deductive reasoning," which may have been objected to either because it uses the word "prejudice" or may have been nixed because of Republican opposition to teaching basic critical thinking skills. It’s hard to say.

..........
There is, however, also evidence that this whole thing might in fact just be another cheap Republican grift of the sort that the DeSantis hivemind keeps managing to "accidentally" create. The Tallahassee Democrat reports that the curious outcome of the DeSantis administration rejecting the long list of textbooks it rejected is that there is only one remaining publisher whose books are approved for Florida’s regular K-5 math programs. Just one!

That publisher? Accelerate Learning, based in Houston, Texas, a company that was acquired by Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin—who resigned a few years later to run for the Virginia governorship; once ensconced there, one of his very first moves was to, yup, ban objectionable textbooks from Virginia classrooms.

That's a pretty odd coincidence in quite the string of weird Republican coincidences, especially considering that Accelerate Learning does not, the The Tallahassee Democrat reports, appear to shy away from the sort of terribly divisive "diversity" language that has Florida Republicans going absolutely batshit in every other venue. But maybe limiting textbook choices for K-5 students to just one well-connected company is just an accident, in the same way that it's an accident that language about "learning to work together" is now railed against as "social-emotional learning" and triggers all the Florida fascists’ buttons. There are so many scandals blending together in so many ways that, as we've seen, not even the people in the middle of them appear to know what the hell they're doing or why.

 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Yes, Republicans really are moving us towards full-blown fascism
Dartagnan

On Thursday the Florida legislature passed a bill cancelling Walt Disney World’s special tax status in that state. The bill, which will now almost certainly become law, eliminates the company’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, formed in 1967 as a consequence of the Disney corporation’s purchase of land to build its Magic Kingdom. The district and its quasi-ownership by Disney were created in part to alleviate anticipated tax burdens on local governments whose boundaries encompass the 25,000 acre district, and “essentially allows the megaresort, which employs roughly 80,000 people, to function as its own municipal government.”

Disney’s privileged status was revoked because Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek publicly criticized legislation passed last month by DeSantis and the Florida GOP which prohibits discussions about gender-related issues in the state’s public schools. Known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, that bias-affirming legislation is one of the more recent examples of Republican legislation designed to marginalize and demonize LGBTQ people, now an imperative for the Republicans in their effort to gain and cement political power.

The impact this retaliatory legislation will have on Disney's bottom line is unclear, and frankly irrelevant to the larger point. What DeSantis and the Florida GOP have signaled with this action is their willingness to impose and inflict their warped sense of supposed Christian morality (or lack thereof) on the public at large through legislation that financially punishes private corporations which oppose or publicly disagree with their policy views. As Greg Sargent, writing for the Washington Post, explains, this represents a chilling “expanded use of state power to fight the culture wars in a much broader and more pernicious sense.”
........

Again, Disney itself — and whatever your feelings may be about that corporate behemoth — is wholly beside the point here. As explained by Jonathan Chait, writing for New York Magazine, what the Republican Party now apparently sanctions, with little or no debate, is the same type of intimidation autocracies commonly use to stifle dissent and control public opinion in countries such as Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Vladimir Putin’s Russia:

Corporations that publicly question the party’s preferred policy, or withhold donations in protest, will be subject to discriminatory policy. If they enjoy favorable regulatory or tax treatment, they can continue to do so on the condition that they stay in the GOP’s political good graces.
This is one way rulers like Orban and Putin hold power. It is a method that, until quite recently, would have been considered unthinkable in the United States. That bright line has been obliterated. Trump and DeSantis have now made it almost unremarkable.

Chait notes the lack of almost any conservative opposition to DeSantis’ action, a silence which confirms its tacit approval among the right. As Sargent notes, some of the current crop of Trump-vetted candidates, (J.D. Vance, for example, currently running for senate in Ohio) have already voiced their support and approval of such tactics, which they characterize as the philosophy of a rejuvenated, more menacing ‘New Right” repurposed to promote a theocratically-based “post-liberal moral order.”

Sargent’s piece in the Post, however, goes significantly further, explaining exactly how such tactics could — and likely would — play out on a national level assuming Republican control of Congress, or even worse, the Executive branch which controls the function of our federal agencies.


Sargent quotes professor Donald P. Moynihan, of Georgetown University, on the implications of this type of intimidation. Moynihan suggests that in an Executive controlled by DeSantis, for example, administrative agencies could be staffed (much the way they were under the Trump administration) with “right-thinking” officials, but specifically tasked with hunting down and persecuting corporations who refused to toe the administration’s ideological lines; in effect, to “harass or investigate companies perceived as ‘culturally disloyal.’ Changing the tax status of liberal-leaning foundations and targeting specific corporations with punitive measures (akin to what DeSantis is imposing on Disney) would also be possible through the administrative state.

And if for some reason that type of state-controlled pressure didn’t have its desired “chilling effect” on the way such foundations approached certain issues, the added legislative threat from a GOP Congress working in tandem with such agencies certainly would.

Sargent poses the question:

What if such a president were backed in this project by congressional leadership? Josh Chafetz, a Georgetown law professor who studies Congress, says you could see legislation targeted at offending companies, and even if it didn’t survive the courts, it could still function in a punitive way.
Those companies would sink large sums of money into litigating against such measures, even as Congress relied on taxpayer-funded lawyers on their side, Chafetz told me, meaning “the onus of the expense would fall on the companies, which would have a chilling effect.”

All of this, of course, is in the service of maximizing political power through control of the population, be it publicly through their media propaganda outlets or now privately through coercion aimed at businesses and corporations that might threaten the conservative dogma that cements their control. And although conservatives love to pay fealty to the supposedly libertarian principles of “free enterprise,” those sentiments, as we now see in Florida — will readily come to a screeching halt when private businesses act as an impediment to the right’s theocratic cultural dogma.

With their thoroughly corrupted majority on the Supreme Court, their gerrymandered legislative majorities seemingly pending to take control of the Congress and now, their increasing willingness to punish private corporations who decline to submit to their ideological malignancy, Republicans have shown every indication not only that they prefer to live in a country like Hungary or Russia, but that they intend to do whatever is necessary to make that happen as soon as possible. The rest of us --and the incredible diversity of race, religion, and gender that this country actually represents — are simply obstacles to their vision, and thus undeserving of any thought or consideration.

Our task is to prove them wrong.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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WTF? Tucker Carlson Mocks Biden for Believing that He Won in 2020, Which, of Course, He Did!
News Corpse

The descent into delusion is continuing at an increasingly rapid pace at Fox News. For the past sixteen months Fox has been obediently regurgitating Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged." Never mind that neither Trump nor Fox "News" has been able to produce a shred of evidence of their wild accusations. And they lost more than sixty court cases in their efforts to overturn the election and undermine democracy.

On Wednesday evening Tucker Carlson unleashed another inane tirade aimed at disparaging President Biden and his decisive victory over Trump nearly a year and a half ago. Carlson has a unique talent for promulgating lies while making himself look like a jackass. And he was in rare form on this episode of his primetime propaganda program.

Carlson was triggered by an article in The Hill wherein Biden was reported to have told former President Obama that he intends to run for reelection in 2024, and that he would beat Trump again. That could not possibly be less controversial. Biden has been telling that to anyone who asked the same question for months. But to Carlson this was chum in the wingnut waters. He raged that...

Carlson:
Joe Biden believes he’s the only one who can beat Donald Trump. Which, if nothing else, suggests Joe Biden believes he beat Donald Trump the first time.
Carlson (badly impersonating Biden):
Hey guys, I got 81 million votes. Maybe I'll get 500 billion next time.
Carlson: So how did Barack Obama respond to that? Well The Hill newspaper didn't say. We do know that earlier this month Obama referred to Joe Biden as 'Vice-President.' So you can guess.



Seriously? Carlson appears to be downright stunned that Biden "believes" he defeated Trump in 2020. Of course, the only reason that Biden believes that is because it is unambiguously and certifiably true. Other than that, there is also the fact that even Republican governors, election officials, and judges have affirmed Biden's victory - repeatedly! And we'll just ignore Carlson's inability to get Obama's VP joke.

However, that doesn't stop Carlson from humiliating himself by clinging to the "Big Lie" and mocking Biden for his adherence to, you know, reality. Which is especially ironic considering that Carlson was defended in court by Fox News against defamation charges by arguing that "no reasonable person" could possibly take him seriously. After all, this is the same guy who has distinguished himself with such notable commentaries as...

Advocating testicle tanning to forestall "The End of Men"

And...

Why he is turned off by "less sexy," "unappealing" cartoon M&Ms

And...

Pleading to keep the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in power

And...

Taking Russia's side against Ukraine, America, and democracy

And...

Spreading the conspiracy theory that the January 6th insurrection was an FBI "false flag" operation


And...


Oh hell. That's enough. This array of asshattery could go on forever. If Carlson wants to reside in a fantasy world where Trump didn't lose the popular vote twice and never reached 50% approval, we should just let him.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Breaking : Maddow drops a bombshell tape on McCarthy considering asking Trump to resign
Frank Vyan Walton

On January 10th, just 5 days after the Insurrection Kevin McCarthy got on the phone with other congressional leaders — including Liz Cheney — and discussed options for removing Trump from office including the 25th Amendment, his potentially being Impeached and removed by the Senate and also McCarthy calling Trump and telling him to resign.

McCarthy earlier today denied this report from the NYTimes, and tonight Rachel Maddow played an audio tape of this conversation live on the air.

Excepts:

"In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, the two top Republicans in Congress, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell, told associates they believed President Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot and vowed to drive him from politics," The New York Times reported. "Mr. McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Mr. Trump to resign immediately: “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of Republican leaders, according to an audio recording of the conversation obtained by The New York Times."
McCarthy denied the report.
"In a statement on Twitter, Mr. McCarthy called the reporting 'totally false and wrong.' His spokesman, Mark Bednar, denied that the Republican leader told colleagues he would urge Mr. Trump to leave office. “McCarthy never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign,” Mr. Bednar said," the newspaper reported.
Following McCarthy's denial, reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin of The Times provided the tape to Maddow.
The host played it on air, "so that you can know that when Kevin McCarthy denied that this happened, he is not telling the truth.

The call was with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who on Thursday was announced as a 2022 Profile in Courage award recipient. The Kennedy family and John F. Kennedy Library Foundation have been giving out the award since 1989.

Later in her program, Maddow suggested that McCarthy may soon himself resign for being caught in a blatant lie.

"I don't mean to be pollyanna about this at all, or naïve," Maddow said. "But it seems to me that I expect a sort of level — from politicians, in particular — of saying one thing in public and saying it another way in private. Certainly speaking more harshly, less diplomatic terms in private."
"What I don't expect is — for even public officials, even politicians — to flat out lie about what they have said, when it is on the record, when they have reason to believe it might have even been recorded, and they just lie and deny it happened," she explained.
"I think this creates a real problem for Mr. McCarthy, I think he must at least apologize, I would not be surprised if there are calls for his resignation, for him lying and denying that he did this when in fact he did it," she said.

What remains to be explained is why McCarthy turned from this position to again becoming a supplicant to Donald Trump and also why he lied about this when it could so easily be disproven? Also, since Liz Cheney was on the call — and McCarthy knew that — he had to know that she could confirm what he said and that since she was subsequently bounced from Congressional leadership she would no reason not to come forward with the truth. Just why did McCarthy and also McConnell turn around and turn against Cheney the way they have when at one point — they were all on the same exact page?

Sadly, the truth and the documented facts of this matter may not actually matter in the long run. We have our news sources and McCarthy has his. I would expect, within seconds, there will be a full-court press to deny and obfuscate this tape from the Wing-nut media, just as they had previously white-washed the damning text messages that their own people in Congress and on Fox News sent to Mark Meadows on Insurrection Day where many of them were begging for Trump to come forward and make a statement to cause the attack to stop. But he didn’t do it until hours later.

They will do everything they can to sweep this under the rug, to attack the New York Times and Rachel Maddow. They will probably accuse them of being “Groomers” — particularly Maddow since she’s gay — and of indoctrinating children into something or the other.

In the end, this report may not make a real difference, but it should.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia captures small towns along frontlines, but no major breakthroughs
Hunter

The "major" Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine continues, producing minor Russian territorial gains as a "senior U.S. defense official" warns that Russia is still continuing to add to its forces in the region. 42 towns were captured by Russia on Thursday, according to Ukrainian officials.

Despite that, Ukraine's government sounds the most optimistic of the two. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed "cautious optimism" that allied countries now "understand our needs better," rushing to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons that Zelenskyy had been asking NATO countries to send for weeks now. Russian troops continue to be tied up north of Izyum in attempts to keep supply lines open even as Ukraine applies heavy pressure; even Russia taking new ground may be as much a sign of Ukraine tweaking its defensive tactics.

The loss of Izyum continues to be a heavy blow, allowing Russia to stage much closer to other key cities than it otherwise could.

In more curious news, two major fires inside Russia raise eyebrows for their potential long-term significance. A key Russian research center for missile development appears to be a total loss after a fire broke out, reportedly killing at least two and injuring dozens. The Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant, a major producer of chemical solvents, was destroyed by a different fire. Both are a long, long way from the Russian border, but the destruction of two major facilities in one day is, at the least, unusual. It's almost certainly a coincidence ... unless something similar happens tomorrow.

The most substantial question, however, remains the same. Is there a more robust Russian attack coming, or is this the full extent of Russian capabilities? Military experts wildly disagree on that one, with the Pentagon’s warnings growing increasingly dire while outside think tanks remain skeptical after weeks of watching what Russia's commanders have (and haven't) been able to pull off.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A mysterious new loitering 'kamikaze drone' called Phoenix Ghost, developed by the U.S. Air Force specifically for Ukraine's war against Russia, is part of the latest U.S. security assistance package announced on April 21.

The loitering munition is an all-new platform developed quickly, with input from Ukraine, to address the nation's military requirements as it tries to blunt Russia’s renewed assault in the Donbas region, according to Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby.

“This was rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements,” Kirby told reporters on April 21. More than 121 — an oddly specific, yet mysteriously vague number — Phoenix Ghosts are headed to Ukraine along with the newest $800 million aid package announced Thursday.

Phoenix Ghost provides similar, “but not [the] exact," capabilities as the AeroVironment Switchblade tube-launched loitering munition, Kirby said during a call with reporters on April 21, the 57th day of Russia's war on Ukraine. There are differences “in the scope of capability for the Phoenix Ghost,” but what those differences are is unclear. It will be useful against different types of targets, he said.

Switchblade is a tube-launched loitering munition that carries both a camera and a warhead. It can be used for surveillance or to attack targets of opportunity. It can target a fixed position without anyone manually piloting it. Much more information on Switchblade and a range of suicide drones and their use in modern warfare is available here.

The U.S. already has already donated 400 Switchblade loitering munitions to Ukraine. The first shipment of 100 mostly made it to the country last week, when a further shipment of 300 was announced. Switchblades come in multiple sizes for use against different targets — the -300 and far more powerful, anti-armor-capable -600 model. The latter is in very short supply as it was just introduced into U.S. stockpiles. In many cases, the deadly drones can be reused for surveillance missions if they are not employed as kinetic weapons against enemy forces.

Asked how the Phoenix Ghost got its name, Kirby said “I have no idea. I have no idea. I do not know.”

“I'm gonna be loath to get into much more detail about the system at this point for classification purposes, but you can safely assume that, in general, it works,” Kirby said. “It provides the same sort of tactical capability that a Switchblade does. Switchblade is a one-way drone if you will, and it clearly is designed to deliver a punch. It's a tactical UAS, and Phoenix ghost is of that same category.”

Later in the day, Kirby said the system, developed under a U.S. military contract with AEVEX Aerospace, was already in development before the current conflict "for a set of requirements that very closely match what the Ukrainians currently need in Donbas."

AEVEX describes itself as providing end-to-end aircraft and sensor system design, provision, integration, operations, sustainment, and data analysis. The War Zone has reached out to AEVEX for more information on its involvement in developing the drone and the design of the aircraft itself, but has not heard back. The company told Breaking Defense it had "no comment on the issue."



AEVEX does not appear to be an unmanned systems manufacturer. It’s possible the company acted as a prime contractor to develop and integrate components onto an existing UAS, such as control technologies and a warhead. It's also possible it is working as a domestic contractor lead for an imported or licensed design.

In November 2021, AEVEX was awarded a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration under the ASTRO program that encompasses everything involving manned, unmanned, or optionally manned platforms and robotics. That 10-year contract has a $2 billion ceiling and includes use of the company’s test and training range in Roswell, New Mexico, rapid prototyping services, and FAA Part 145 certified repair station for the “design, engineering, and integration of sensors and special mission aircraft, manned and unmanned,” AEVEX CEO Brian Raduenz said in a statement at the time of the contract award. It is not clear whether the development of Phoenix Ghost was performed under that contract, but the scope of work would include such integration of unmanned systems. The contract will "significantly improve our ability to support innovative R&D and data management efforts across aviation for our warfighters operating in all domains,” Raduenz said.

Most tube-launched expendable drones can be deployed from the ground, a vehicle, a seagoing vessel, or an aircraft and are controlled by individual troops. Some loitering UAS have been launched by larger drones, though that is an advanced capability. A Switchblade-300 weighs about 5.5 pounds and has a 10-kilometer range with 15 minutes of endurance cruising at 63 miles per hour. The larger 600 series can fly for 40 minutes, weighs 55 pounds — including a 33-pound warhead — and has a threshold range of about 40 kilometers. We really don't know if this is tube-launched or even a converted multi-rotor type or something else.

The new system should be readily absorbed by existing Ukrainian forces but will require some training, Kirby said.

“It will require some minimal training for knowledgeable UAS operators to be able to use it and we're going to be working through those training requirements directly with the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” he said.

While the exact design of Phoenix Ghost is unknown, suicide drones of many types have been highly effective in modern conflict and need not be highly complex systems. Once again, this new system could be an armed quadcopter, for all anyone knows. Armed commercially available unmanned systems are useful, easily deployed and could be delivered en mass relatively cheaply, as The War Zone Editor-in-Chief Tyler Rogoway mused in March. In fact, enemies of the U.S. and other nefarious actors around the globe have proven this for over five years, converting off-the-shelf hobby and commercial drones into effective killing machines. Even Ukraine is using improvised armed drones on the battlefield today. This is a critical area the U.S. has fallen behind in due to a lack of demand from the DoD, export restrictions, and, some would argue, a social undercurrent that has resisted the weaponization of very low-end unmanned technologies..........



 
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