More to ignore, Book 71.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Needless to say, the rest of the world is none too impressed with our SCOTUS at the moment
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

America used to be a beacon of freedom in an uncertain world. Sadly, that was before a rabid minority of our citizens tapped Adderall Hitler to remake our Supreme Court in The Federalist Society’s image. Now our nation is not so much a beacon as a UV black light in a gross motel room Donald Trump just slept in. The rest of the world is still watching, but they’re no longer nearly as inspired by what they see. And SCOTUS’ seismic decision to vaporize Roe v. Wade is a case in point.

I used to hope the U.S. might eventually embrace Scandinavian-style social democracy. Eventually, I lowered my expectations and thought, “Well, Canada’s nice. Universal health care. Reasonable gun control laws. Ted Cruz-free since 1974. Let’s be more like Canada!” Now I just wish we could be as enlightened as Kazakhstan.

It’s embarrassing to live in a country that does this to its own citizens, but it’s even more horrifying than it is embarrassing. That said, American progressives have been in the boiling-frog stage of this rolling disaster for some time. We see the rot up close. But what does the rest of the world think?


Spoiler alert: They think we’re effin’ bonkers.

The Guardian:

The end of constitutional protections for abortions in the United States has been described as a “backwards” move by world leaders and health organisations, while handing a huge boost to pro-life groups around the world.
The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, all condemned the supreme court’s overruling of the landmark Roe v Wade decision, while New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the decision was “incredibly upsetting”.
“Watching the removal of a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting,” she said.

You know, when Boris Johnson thinks you’ve gone off the deep end, maybe it’s time to reexamine your choices.



Trudeau, Macron, Johnson, and Ardern were hardly alone, of course. World leaders have been nearly universal in their condemnation of SCOTUS’ shocking rollback of individual rights. (The Taliban could not be reached for comment.)

In the wake of the ruling, UN Secretary General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric stated, “
sexual and reproductive health and rights are the foundation of a life of choice, empowerment and equality for the world's women and girls.” She continued: “It’s also important to note that restricting access to abortion does not prevent people from seeking abortion; it only makes it more deadly. UNFPA [United Nations Population Fund] tells us that some 45 percent of all abortions around the world are unsafe, making it a leading cause of maternal [death].”


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted, “We cannot take any rights for granted. Social achievements are always at risk of going backwards and their defense has to be our day to day. Women must be able to decide freely about their lives.”

In another tweet, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stated, “This is a serious step backwards for women's rights!”

And Belgium PM Alexander De Croo tweeted, “Very concerned about implications of [the Supreme Court] decision on #RoeVWade and the signal it sends to the world. Banning abortion never leads to fewer abortions, only to more unsafe abortions. Belgium will continue to work with other countries to advance #SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights] everywhere.”

Meanwhile, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon noted that this rot could spread elsewhere, now that America has decided to get medieval on our ass.



Eventually, with enough dedication and hard work, we may be able to wrest these rights back from the fiends who snatched them away in the night. But it’s easy to get demoralized by the fact that we’re still arguing about this—this!—in 2022.

But argue—and plead, and wheedle, and rage against the system—we must. Two steps forward, one giant leap back. But we keep moving, because we have no choice.

Make them pay, folks. They’ve left us no other option. This is war.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Great Regression, Jim Crow 2.0, and the end of the American Experiment
Mark Sumner

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There’s absolutely no doubt about it, America is exceptional. It’s exceptional in that as other developed nations are moving forward, so-called conservative forces are dragging America back. As the rest of the world is advancing toward an era in which they recognize the value of all people, embrace the role of government in moderating the inherent conflict between individual rights and societal benefits, and understand the importance of protecting what remains of the natural environment, the United States is—suddenly and unexpectedly—doing the exact opposite.

The United States is currently engaged in a project under which the number of people valued by society is being sharply curtailed. It’s engaged in a project to destroy the whole concept of a “general good” It’s determined to ignore consequences of environmental damage, of racism, and of gun violence even as those consequences are visible in fire and blood.

The extraordinary Supreme Court action this week, ending five decades of protection under Roe v. Wade, is a ghastly example of something of something that has more general implications—how the United States is become a dreaded and hated pariah. How the right wing has set out to undo the whole idea of “the American experiment.” And how the “shining city on the hill” is being replaced with a new, improved Jonestown.
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As Daily Beast columnist David Rothkopf puts it, America is experiencing a “concerted campaign” by the right wing, often with the assistance of those who claim to be “centrists” in both parties, whose goal is not simply to arrest progress, but to roll back the enormous gains that have been made since before World War II.

The gains made by women that have opened up more opportunities for individuals and infinitely enriched society aren’t just under assault, they are crumbling. The gains made by Black Americans have been massively undercut on every front from voting, to educational opportunities, to home ownership, to healthcare. The ability of the government to take any action that safeguards people in poverty, protects the aged, or defends those accused of a crime has all been sharply curtailed. More power has been awarded to the powerful. More obstacles have been erected to ensure that social mobility is next to impossible.

Just this week, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in which protections created in 1966 in Miranda v. Arizona were sharply curtailed. That ruling barely got any notice, because it was followed only minutes later by the ruling that eliminated the ability of states to regulate the carrying of weapons outside the home. Then that decision was Trumped (sick pun intended) by the Supreme Court acting, for the first time ever, to remove a right that had had existed for five decades. Expect this to be followed next week by rulings that, among many other things, prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from taking any action to protect the environment … crippling most of the federal government in the process.

The impact of the Supreme Court’s killing of Roe goes beyond just the incredible misery that will be generated and the deaths that will result. As Rothkamp notes, Roe was a signpost. It was “a symbol to several generations that our system worked.”

It was the embodiment of the kind of change Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about when he said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Roe happened only as the result of decades of dedicated efforts by politicians, scientists, doctors, attorneys, and most of all by women activists who many times put their lives on the line to secure rights for coming generations. Roe was proof that change may take a long time. Education and improvement may only come over generations. But eventually the social situation improves; it moves closer to justice.

The end of Roe is a signal that this is no longer true. And in fact, has not have been true for some time.

Republicans have spent decades eroding social progress at the state level. As those Republicans have gained control county-by-county, state-by-state, in areas that were once home to “yellow dog Democrats,” they’ve become the testing ground for more and more radical examples of regressive policy. Coordinated through Republican organizations that have authored legislation expressly designed to test federal law for weak points, they’ve conducted a broad assault on the power of the government to uphold rights or seek justice.

At the same time, Mitch McConnell’s obsession with stuffing the federal courts with conservative extremists under multiple Republican presidents wasn’t just some hobby. McConnell’s efforts have ensured that a party which has won just a single popular election in 34 years has had an extremely lopsided effect on the Court at every level. Policies and laws that would have been dismissed out of hand by any reasonable jurist have been upheld by Republican-appointed judges whose sole qualification is that they signed onto the scheme.

Republican governors, attorneys general, and legislatures regularly push up orders and laws that are far, far more regressive than anything that would have been acceptable four decades ago, and find they have courts friendly enough to their efforts to place the federal government constantly in the role of playing defense. Progressives, and even moderates, have rarely been able to think about moving that arc forward. They’re too busy fighting off attacks on long-held positions.

Funneling money to religious schools and destroying public education. Eliminating rules to protect against discriminations on race or gender. Destroying the role of public health officials to protect the populace in emergencies, and empowering governors and attorneys general to force workers to subject themselves to danger. Individual companies being persecuting for daring to speak out in support of their employee’s rights. The reckless expansion of guns even as children’s blood is running through the halls of schools. Banning books. Allowing officials to literally look up the skirts of teenage girls to inspect their genitals.

Deliberate, intensive, vicious efforts to not just destroy the rights, but the lives of immigrants, Black Americans, trans Americans, every American who dares stand up against a marching tide of ignorance and hate. All of these things are the result of a multi-decade effort, but now that the last firewall has been burned away, the collapse is coming rapidly.

Like a long-running game of Jenga, Republicans have been sliding blocks out of the nation’s social progress for decades. Now the tower isn’t just shaking, it’s falling.

Only five years ago, there was the promise that the good old arc of justice was going to keep right on arcing toward a better United States. The arguments weren’t about whether the U.S. would achieve better rights for LGBTQ citizens, or would improve the process of immigration, or would find some means to address the rising tide of gun violence. The arguments were all about how fast these things would get addressed and over which solutions were most effective. Anyone who even suggested that Roe was in danger was derided as a fantasist.

Call it the Great Regression. Or Jim Crow 2.0. Call it whatever you want. But it’s turning America into an a pariah state; one that represents ignorance, repression, and hate. One that is becoming an object of loathing around the world. One that has enemies drooling over what they can snatch in a post-America world, and has allies planning for the day when they have to sever that gangrened limb.


Sometimes the arc bends toward justice. But if that arc has to bend for too long, it can just snap. Repairing what’s happened won’t come in a moment. But it better start quickly, or it will never happen at all.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans finally got the Roe v. Wade decision they wanted, and in public, they are delighted.

More quietly, however, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republican strategists and party officials, they just didn’t want it to come right now — not during a midterm election campaign in which nearly everything had been going right for the GOP.

“This is not a conversation we want to have,” said John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the country. “We want to have a conversation about the economy. We want to have a conversation about Joe Biden, about pretty much anything else besides Roe … This is a losing issue for Republicans.”


The decision, issued Friday, was a landmark victory for conservatives who have held up overturning Roe as an ambition of near-biblical significance, fundraising, organizing and legislating off opposition to abortion rights for nearly half a century.........
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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This fall’s midterm landscape shook from a tectonic realignment on Friday after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade‘s abortion-rights precedent, giving Democrats a third-rail social issue as they fight to keep their slim majorities.

Senate Democrats clamored to connect the decision to their narrow hold on the chamber, which allows them to confirm new Supreme Court justices with a simple majority vote. Control of future judicial confirmations now may be the biggest prize at stake in the November elections.

Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, who chairs Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, said that pro-abortion rights voters had long voted knowing the Supreme Court’s precedent had put guardrails on state abortion restrictions. Now that’s all changed, and he said “it will be an incredibly motivating factor for people.”

“There’s no question that this is a central issue that will be on the minds of voters,” Peters said......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UGH! Tucker Carlson Smears Companies that Cover Abortion Travel Costs as Being 'Against Families'
News Corpse

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The Supreme Court's ruling that overturned Roe vs Wade is an unprecedented decision that, for the first time ever, removed a Constitutional right that had been affirmed numerous times for more than fifty years. And the judges responsible for the decision were put on the court by Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote twice and tried to overthrow the U.S. government.

The American people are rarely more united on an issue than they are about preserving the reproductive choice rights provided by Roe vs Wade. Nevertheless, the Republican, anti-democratic forces in Washington managed to subvert the people's will in order to impose a religious standard on the nation, in place of a legal one.

On Friday night Carlson launched a new, and patently offensive line of attack. He lashed out at private companies seeking to provide benefits to help employees get the healthcare they need when dealing with pregnancy and family planning. In states where abortion is now - or will soon be - illegal, these benefits will reimburse employees for costs to travel to states where their health needs can be met. And despite conservatives ordinarily supporting free market positions, Carlson is hypocritically attacking companies for trying to do what they believe is best for their employees and their business. He raged that...

"It's obvious why it's so important to America's corporations, almost all of whom immediately weighed in to say, 'We'll fly you to get an abortion at the state of your choice.' Why? Well, of course, employees without families are loyal to the company and, of course, it's much cheaper to pay for an abortion than it is to pay for maternity leave, or an extra name on the insurance policy. So, it's all about the money for corporate America. It always is. Families are bad for big corporations, therefore they're against families."



That is glaringly wrong for so many reasons, Let's begin with the fact that it isn't necessarily cheaper to insure an employee who seeks an abortion. For one thing, Carlson is assuming that everyone who gets an abortion doesn't already have a family. That's false. It's also flagrantly false to suggest that employees without families - by which he means children - are more loyal to their employer. As a frozen food empire trust fund baby, whose father worked for the State Department, Carlson has never had a job that wasn't handed to him by virtue of his wealth and elite status. Where do you suppose his loyalties lie?

More importantly, Carlson is making the repulsive argument that companies make employment decisions based on what it might cost to provide an employee with healthcare. By his own perverse logic, companies would (or should?) discriminate against an applicant who is diabetic, or has congenital heart defects, or suffers any other health challenges. Even those with families.

Carlson's conclusion that corporations are "against families," is not only exceedingly stupid, it ignores the fact that most corporate executives have families. He is also ignoring the broad diversity of the companies that offer the travel cost benefits. They include Meta (Facebook), Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon, Levi Strauss, JPMorgan Chase, Starbucks, and Tesla. Among media companies offering this benefit are Disney (ABC News), Warner Bros. Discovery (CNN), and Comcast (NBC News and MSNBC).

Conspicuously absent from that list is Fox News. Either they do not offer the benefit, or they don't want anyone to know that they do and declined to respond to inquiries. So they are either callously indifferent to their employees' well being, or they're raging hypocrites. And it wouldn't surprise anyone if it turns out to be both. After all, Fox News - and especially Tucker Carlson - have demonstrated that they don't care about the health of their employees, or their viewers. Carlson recently endorsed nicotine addiction. No, really! And when it comes to COVID, Carlson was its biggest advocate. Those aren't exactly pro-health, or pro-employee policies.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Counteroffensive in Donetsk area still advancing, HIMARS is all out of gum
Mark Sumner

As kos reported earlier, Ukrainian forces began withdrawing from Severodonetsk on Thursday evening and as of Saturday all but a handful of troops are reportedly across the river in Lysyschansk. The last report still had Ukrainian forces holding out in the suburb of Borivske, but it can be expected—or at least hoped—that this force is small.

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On the south of Lysychansk, Russian forces have reportedly moved into the edges of the city, but they’ll have to battle uphill through some closely spaced buildings if they want to proceed from that direction. On the west of the city, Russian forces have reportedly entered the area of the power plant at Verkhnokamyanka. That would be a threat to the power in Lysychansk … except it’s already out. The little pocket that extended down to Zolote a week ago is now extinguished.

To the southwest, Ukraine made an unexpected advance across a broad front, liberating a whole cluster of villages in the Donetsk region.

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Ukraine advances along a 45km front.

I’ve violated my own usual rules for coloring the map in leaving the whole area of advance as if in dispute, but I wanted to show just what a big slice of property was carved out in just two days. The top of that yellow area is where Russian control was on Thursday. Then came reports of Ukraine pushing down to the highway that runs from Zolta Nyva to Pavlivka. On Friday, the advance continued to three more villages 10km further south. Whether it is continuing at this moment is unknown, but there were no reports of serious Russian resistance.

Why Ukraine is pushing in this area isn’t clear. The closest position is still 75km from Mariupol, so this would currently not seem to be a threat to Russia’s “land bridge” between the Donbas and the Crimea. It may simply be a matter of Ukraine staying aware of the areas where Russia has drawn down troops to support the effort near Severodonetsk. If Ukraine can capture these areas with few losses, and without adding troops to the area … why not?

There were reports just three weeks ago that Russia was planning an advance in this same area, but this was followed by reports that some of the forces in this region had been drawn off by Ukrainian forces pressing toward Kherson. Ukraine may be engaged in a strategy of poking Russia in one place, grabbing territory that opens up, poking again elsewhere, etc.


In the Kherson area, most of the reports of activity on Saturday are at the north end of the line of battle. Ukraine has been pushing for some time to capture Vysokopillya, where Russia reportedly has stockpiled supplies and which had been their launching point for attacks to the north.

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Ukraine hitting northern end of line with artillery and drone strikes.

On Friday and Saturday, Ukraine went hard against two towns in the immediate vicinity of Vysokopillya. Russian forces reportedly fled the town of Olhyne after a Ukrainian bombardment, and in the village of Arkhanhel's'ke, which Russia was reportedly using as a command HQ Ukraine … well, that’s over.

The Ukrainian military issued an image of the town ...

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Arkhanhel's'ke

And a video of Ukrainian forces at work on the Russian HQ.



Pushing back at this end of the line may not be as sexy as reports that Ukrainian troops are about to stroll into Kherson, but they’re important in reducing damage to Kryvyi Rih, which has been subject to repeated artillery attacks. Vysokopillya would now seem to be hanging out there in an extremely vulnerable position.

Further south, there has been no recent sign of activity from the bridgehead south of Davydiv Brid, and many reports have now made the assumption that Russian forces have eliminated the force on the east bank of the Inhulets River. However, there has been no confirmation of Russia recapturing villages that had been liberated by Ukrainian forces, so it seems early to be making that call.




 
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