More to ignore, Book 74.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony was a preview of what's coming next from Jan. 6 committee
Mark Sumner

Last Tuesday, the House select committee on Jan. 6 conducted an additional hearing on short notice. During that hearing, the committee heard testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, former assistant to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson delivered a series of bombshells directly connected to the events on Jan. 6.

Hutchinson’s statements included Donald Trump acknowledging that he knew his followers were armed and attempting to get metal detectors removed, Trump agreeing with the chants wanting to “hang Mike Pence,” and Trump angrily attempting to force his security detail to take him to the Capitol so he could personally lead the Proud Boys and other insurgents. There was also an angry Trump flinging food at the White House walls.

The impact of this testimony was so powerful that there was an immediate move to discredit Hutchinson. From The Washington Post to Fox News, there have been claims from unnamed officials that members of Trump’s Secret Service team are ready to go on the record contradicting her claims, especially when it comes to Trump’s struggling with his driver and demanding to be taken to the Capitol. But a week after her testimony, the most important detail may be that for all the people claiming to have someone willing to contradict Hutchinson, no one has actually produced such a witness. No one has actually contradicted a word she said.
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The Washington Post is back today, wringing metaphorical hands over whether the committee acted too quickly in getting Hutchinson’s testimony before the public. According to the Post, putting Hutchinson in front of the cameras amounted to “rushing her into the witness stand” and “rolling the dice” while the committee “failed to thoroughly vet her claims.”

Except … they don’t know this. Neither The Washington Post nor anyone else outside the committee staff knows how much of Hutchinson’s testimony lined up with what the committee had already learned from other witnesses. What they do know is that members of Trump’s team were trying to leverage Hutchinson into silence, and that there was a chance she might not speak at all if leaned on long enough.

What is clear, based on an appearance from Rep. Adam Schiff on CBS over the weekend, is that Hutchinson’s testimony fits neatly into with what the public is going to hear the next time the cameras focus on the committee. The very next hearing, according to Schiff, “will be focused on the efforts to assemble that mob on the mall, who was participating, who was financing it, how it was organized, including the participation of these white-nationalist groups like the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and others.”

The testimony up to this point shows that the Proud Boys were directly connected with steering Trump’s supporters to the Capitol, initiating violence and the breaking of police lines, and led the way into the Capitol buildings. Before leaving the stage at his Jan. 6 rally, Trump told those present to go to the Capitol, and he would be with them. There has also been testimony that Alex Jones and member of the Proud Boys who were on site at the Capitol told their followers that Trump was going to join them on the east side of the building. Hutchinson provided testimony showing that Trump absolutely intended to go to the Capitol, and was angry with staff who kept him from being at the scene of the insurgency.

All of this seems to be building blocks for what Schiff is promising next: how the mob at Trump’s rally was funded, directed, and used as a weapon in an attempt to overturn the government of the United States. All of this looks to be building toward extremely widespread charges of seditious conspiracy, including against Donald Trump.

“For four years, the Justice Department took the position that you can't indict a sitting president,” said Schiff in his interview. “If the Department were now to take the position that you can't investigate or indict a former president, then a president becomes above the law. That's a very dangerous idea that the founders would have never subscribed to. Even more dangerous, I think in the case of Donald Trump. This—Donald Trump is someone who has shown when he's not held accountable, he goes on to commit worse and worse abuses of power. So I agree with Judge Carter in California, I think there was evidence that the former president engaged in multiple violations of the law, and that should be investigated.”


Hutchinson’s testimony wasn’t rushed forward because it was an extraordinary outlier. Her testimony was heard last week specifically because it fits exactly into the framework that the committee is seeing from other witnesses. Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was visceral and real, and also a brick in the wall the committee is building. A wall that seems increasingly likely to describe criminal charges against Trump.

The most important thing that the Post article has to say about that testimony may be this:

Hutchinson’s account of cleaning Trump-strewn ketchup off White House walls and pleading with her onetime boss, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, to get off his phone and help quell the Capitol riot was watched by more viewers than all but one of the NBA Finals games this year.

Republicans can make any claim they want about the public’s interest in the hearings, but those numbers say it all. A huge number of Americans turned in to see Hutchinson calmly and clearly explain what it was like to live with Trump’s anger, immaturity, and disregard for anyone else. That’s a stain that’s going to be a lot harder to remove than getting ketchup out of wallpaper.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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House Democrats go on offense, attacking GOP extremism on abortion, Jan. 6
Kerry Eleveld

The House Democratic campaign arm is charting a course to hold Democrats' slim majority in the lower chamber by targeting extremist Republicans on their support for Jan. 6 and criminalizing abortions.

It's a little like the 2012 Todd Akin strategy on steroids. In 2012, then-Rep. Akin practically sunk himself in his bid to unseat then-Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri after suggesting that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. Now, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is making a concerted effort to put GOP extremism on the ballot, branding Republican candidates more broadly as dangerous radicals.

“There’s all these dangerous people running under the new MAGA Republican brand. They’re going to pay a price for it,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, chair of the DCCC, told Politico. “We’re going to beat them over the head with that.”
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Retiring Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky summed up the calculation this way: “If we win, it’s because we scared the crap out of people about the maniacs who will be in charge.”

The strategy is being targeted at a half dozen GOP candidates who have already made eyebrow-raising comments concerning abortion and Jan. 6, but the DCCC is also tracking more than a dozen Republicans who have questioned the outcome of the 2020 election.

Take Yesli Vega, for instance, a local sheriff’s deputy running to unseat Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's newly drawn 7th District that includes a mix of suburban, rural, and military communities.

In a leaked audio recording, Vega was recently heard downplaying the potential of a pregnancy resulting from rape. In the exchange, Vega was asked whether she's heard that it's "harder for a woman to get pregnant” if she's been raped.

"Well, maybe because there's so much going on in the body. I don't know. I haven't, you know, seen any studies," Vega responded. "I can see why there is truth to that. It's unfortunate."

Spanberger called the remarks "devoid from reality," while also noting that Vega has defended Jan. 6 attackers as a “group of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Reflecting on the comments, Spanberger wondered, “Can you rely on a person like that to fix real problems?”

Democrats are betting many suburban swing voters will be asking that very same question about Republicans.

“Swing voters are, by definition, reasonable people,” Maloney said. “MAGA Republicans’ obsession with ending abortion, ignoring Jan. 6 and ignoring violence in our schools is not going to sit well with the suburban swing voters they need to win the election.”

There's already some data to back up Maloney's contention. Several polls out this week found a 2- to 3-point uptick in support for Democrats in the congressional generic ballot. All of that movement came from shifting sentiment among independent voters.

An NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll this week also found that nearly 7 in 10 college graduates (69%) oppose the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Democrats are now aiming to build on the abortion ruling and the Jan. 6 hearings to amplify a broader narrative about a radicalized Republican Party.

In Wisconsin, they're targeting GOP candidate Derrick Van Orden, a former Navy SEAL who is favored to flip a Democratic seat, for using old campaign funds to subsidize his trip to D.C. on Jan. 6.

Similarly, Ohio Air Force veteran JR Majewski raised $25,000 to help transport people to the Jan. 6 protest. He claims his group left before the violence began, but Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur is now running an ad that features photos of Majewski amid the Capitol mayhem.

Another good example comes from New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who recently released an ad blasting his GOP opponent as an "extremist" for aligning himself with the domestic terrorist group the Oath Keepers.

"I think we need to rethink what the Oath Keepers is, and I stand by them," Republican candidate Frank Pallotta says in the ad. The spot goes on to label Pallotta as "extremist Frank Pallotta" several times as he repeats, "I stand by them."

Highlighting GOP extremism is a far more inspired strategy than obsessing about kitchen table issues, which frankly only reminds voters about inflation and the cost of gas. As Rep. Spanberger noted: Is it really possible for people who are so far removed from reality to solve America’s problems? Do voters really want to put Jan. 6 extremists in charge of a government they sought to overthrow through violent means? The obvious answer for any sane voter is: No.

It’s exactly the type of question Democrats want voters to be contemplating as they cast their votes this fall.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: HIMARS has even longer range, thus more effective than its official specs
kos

The ELINT News Twitter account plotted HIMAR strike locations on a map and learned that the rocket artillery system has an actual range of around 85 kilometers, much longer than the 70 kilometers claimed on the system’s spec sheet.

range.png


This might explain Ukraine’s use of HIMARS almost exclusively at night, as it has been driving close to the front lines to hit targets well behind them. Now Russia will be forced to reassess the location of those supply depots, lengthening supply lines it already has a hard time maintaining.

I wrote yesterday that each guided MLRS (GMLRS) rocket cost $135,000 based on some news stories. I dug deeper to confirm, and the cost of GMLRS in 2000 was around $43,000 per rocket. But it’s 22 years later, and the latest contract with Lockheed Martin priced the rockets at $1.1 billion for 9,000 GMLRS rockets and 2,000 cheap practice rounds. Average price is $100,000 per rocket, but given the practice rounds are likely significantly cheaper, $135,000 per actual GMLRS makes sense. That means the bottleneck will continue to be hyperexpensive ammunition. One pod is $810,000, and supply is limited—only 50,000 of the rockets have been produced, not all of them delivered to Ukraine’s partners, some used up in Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and smaller operators won’t surrender their expensive and limited supply to Ukraine. Only 9,000 are produced per year. Older rockets have cluster munitions banned by international treaty, and there seems to be little appetite to deploy them. (Assuming those rockets still exist somewhere, unexploded cluster bombs would dramatically complicate post-war cleanup.)

HIMARS is like the Gillette razor of military equipment—a launcher costs $5.1 million, or just six rocket volleys. It’s the ammo that breaks the bank, which is why the allies have committed to just 15 launchers that fire those pods. Yet there’s a reason these rockets cost so much: They are satellite-guided. So while Russia’s equivalent MLRS systems have a margin of error of around half a mile (adequate, since they’re just leveling cities), a guided MLRS rocket will hit within 1 meter of its intended target.

That level of accuracy allows Ukraine to target Russian ammunition depots nestled in populated areas:



One of the wonders of HIMARS is that each rocket can be individually programmed to hit a different target. You can see the trajectory vary in these rocket launches:



It takes little time to reload a HIMARS, but given likely ammunition shortages and Russian desperation to take these systems out, it’s more important for HIMARS to stay mobile to increase its survivability. It likely won’t fire a second volley anywhere near a launch site.



Note how the HIMARS arrives at a location with a fresh pod already lying on the ground. Supply trucks will sprinkle pods at various locations, making them 1) nearly impossible for Russian drones to find, and 2) easy to limit the damage if they are found and targeted. Even if the HIMARS vehicle itself is found and targeted, the toll would be the single vehicle (which, remember, at $5 million is relatively inexpensive) and three crew members. A typical artillery emplacement, with supply vehicles in tow, could easily lose 20 soldiers or more if successfully targeted.

HIMARS can drive 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour), with a range of around 500 kilometers on a tank of gas. That means it can float freely between the Donbas and Zaporizhzhia fronts. (Sloviansk to Zaporizhzhia city is 330 kilometers, or four to six hours of driving depending on the condition of roads.) The Kherson front is too far, however, so it will need to be covered by some of the HIMARS or M270 MLRS launchers that will be arriving in country later this month.

The Kherson front is starved of modern artillery, per local reports. No HIMARS for sure, but also no M777 howitzers. Despite that, Ukraine continues to advance on that front.

FW3D4RUX0AEytPd


Snihurivka, that pointy red area in the center of the map, has seen fierce fighting the last week as Ukrainian forces have been trying to displace entrenched Russians on the northern edge of the village. Ukraine seems to be having more luck on that northwestern approach to Kherson and has also been rolling back Russians from the Kryvyi Rih approach, the top-right corner of this map.

Look at NASA FIRMS fire data overlaid by territorial control. (Open in new window to see better details.)

FW3Na0wUcAA7NHP.jpeg

Red is Russian, light blue is recently liberated Ukrainian-held territory, green is long-held Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine may not have the latest long-range artillery on this front, but that’s not stopping it from absolutely smacking the shit out of Russian positions. We have never seen this level of fire on this front before. Here it is without territorial control overlay:


screencap.jpg


Ukraine says a full-scale counteroffensive isn’t in store until August and September, but Ukraine is already working hard to “shape the battlefield.”

Meanwhile, recriminations have begun against Ukraine’s decision to defend Severodonetsk—a choice that made little military sense (as I and so many others pointed out).



Lots of reports like this one:



The only way defending Severodonetsk made sense is if Russia was suffering exponentially worse casualties, a number we simply don’t have. Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych claims 7,000 Russians killed in the battle, which is ludicrous given that the Ministry of Defense claimed 5,000 Russians killed in all of Ukraine for the month of June.

What we do know is that Russia wasn’t degraded to the point of combat ineffectiveness, but Ukraine apparently was. They lost not just Severodonetsk, as was always expected, but the far more defensible Lysychansk across the river as Ukrainian defenses in the town’s southern approach collapsed. A full accounting of this decision will someday be made, and I really hope we don’t learn that too many Ukrainians died in vain.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump attorneys who lied, forged documents, and disrupted courts have faced almost no consequences
Mark Sumner

Rudy Giuliani’s law license has been suspended. It’s a satisfying thing to say, but … does it really mean anything? After all, it’s not as if anyone was hiring Giuliani to defend them from murder charges or any other genuine legal issue.

Exactly one time following Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, Giuliani appeared in a Pennsylvania court to spend about 20 minutes telling a federal judge that he was “a fool” to believe the official results of the election. It was, according to the ABA, the first time Giuliani had been seen in court—as a lawyer, at least—since 1992. As Law.com reported, that “rustiness showed” as Giuliani stumbled through his comments to the judge and couldn’t remember what was in his own motion, or what was not. Giuliani’s motion was, unsurprisingly, “eviscerated” by the judge.

None of which actually mattered. Other than having his name on some paperwork, there was not one thing Giuliani did for Trump that depended on his being an attorney. Believe it or not, any layperson is allowed to book the wrong Four Seasons and apply bulk motor oil to their scalp. Giuliani's job is to rant on Fox and peddle ugly sandals on social media. Having his license suspended means nothing—his income and law license had not even a passing acquaintance.

But Giuliani wasn’t the only member of Trump’s legal team who spent time in court insulting judges, twisting laws, and presenting flat-out lies. What’s surprising is that the rest of them are also just fine. In fact, being a member of Trump’s 1-for-64 team now seems to be a big selling point to the MAGA faithful.
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The other big public face of Trump’s legal defense was Sidney Powell. It was Powell who first made claims about how the election had been engineered through the actions of a long-deceased Venezuelan dictator before connecting this plot to the next sinister figure—Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. When Powell first stepped onto the stage and began dragging in Hugo Chavez and claims of overseas servers tallying U.S. votes, the laughter was loud enough to cause Trump to officially oust Powell from the team. But two weeks later, he put her back as “special counsel” in charge of his legal effort.

That’s because Powell had demonstrated a singular knack for confidently stating the most outlandish bullshit as if it were true. Whether it was votes being carried by “mules” or software being mangled by “Italian satellites,” Sidney Powell was there to declare that it was all true, all against Trump, and she was going to keep suing until the world agreed.

A year and a half later, the worst thing that has happened to Sidney Powell is that Texas is considering “disciplinary action” from the state bar. Action that is most likely to amount to a finger-wagging reprimand, if it happens at all.

This is all that has followed Powell not just making almost innumerable false claims in court, but actually altering a document to add a false state seal and a forged signature from Georgia Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger. For this, Powell has so far not suffered even the slightest slap on the wrist. Like Giuliani, she remains in high demand in MAGA circles and is a frequent guest on right-wing media from podcasts to broadcasts.

Despite her clearly illegal actions, and the still-pending lawsuit against her and Giuliani from Dominion Voting Systems, Powell is doing fine. In fact, she’s been acting as a funding source for defendants charged in the January 6 insurrection. That includes funding the legal defense of Oath Keeper members facing charges of seditious conspiracy.

As Mother Jones reported in June, providing a legal defense for Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs is just one of the instances that have brought Powell back to the attention of the House select committee on Jan. 6. As that committee moves to the next hearing, which will focus on how groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were recruited to direct Trump’s mob and incite violence, Powell’s name may well come up again. That’s because Powell is at the head of a group that appears to be putting a lot of money into both the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. How that money relates to any agreements made between Trump’s team and these white supremacist groups is something likely to be explained in that next hearing.

But in most cases, Powell’s job on Trump’s staff was no different than that of Giuliani: Create confusion, make unfounded charges, keep anger levels high. It was really other attorneys who had the task of marching into court and slapping down a bunch of unfounded lies on the bench.

How are those folks doing? As Politico notes, they’re also just dandy.

Attorney Juli Haller defended a claim in Michigan court that directly invoked “vote counts were likely manipulated by a computer algorithm developed by allies of deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez.” The failed lawsuit, which included equally false evidence and inaccurate descriptions of witness testimony, was dismissed as baseless. Heller earned a “blistering rebuke” from the judge who declared the whole thing a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

The judge recommended that Haller be disbarred. She hasn’t been. In fact, Haller is one of those who is out there acting as a defense attorney for the Oath Keepers defendants charged with seditious conspiracy. She has, according to Politico, become the “go-to attorney for MAGA extremists” and is lining up new clients. She’s just one of many.

In total, at least 16 lawyers who represented plaintiffs in five federal lawsuits promoting Trump’s baseless election fraud claims in the key battlegrounds of Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona remain in good standing or have no record of disciplinary action with their respective bar associations or licensing authorities, according to a POLITICO review.

These are attorneys who went into court filing documents that they knew at the time were lies. An internal memo, prepared by Trump’s own communication team, reviewed the claims that were included in these lawsuits and included a thorough debunking of claims about Dominion’s voting machines, the allegations of hardware connected to the internet, and the claims about political connections of the companies involved. Including Hugo Chavez. The lawsuits continued to include these claims.

They didn’t go to court on documents later discovered to have errors. They went to court and defended documents they knew were lies from the outset. At least one of these lawsuits involved a forged election document including a false state seal and a false signature from a state official.

That all of these attorneys are still licensed to practice a year and a half after Jan. 6 is a tragic indictment of state bar associations as a means of regulating legal practice. None of these people should be defending people who were involved with Jan. 6.

But some of them should certainly be defendants.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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....“Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing and investigators do believe he did this to conceal his facial tattoos and his identity,” Covelli said. “He was seen on video camera in women’s clothing.”

He may have even donned a hairpiece to complete his disguise, authorities said.

“A wig is not out of the question,” Covelli said......


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Doctors ask 'What does the risk of death have to be' to make abortion legal under state bans
Laura Clawson

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the fact checkers are at great pains to issue lectures on the subject of ectopic pregnancy treatment. Is it abortion or is it not? More importantly, should we be tut-tutting over viral social media posts describing it as abortion?

Here’s the reality: It doesn’t matter whether the fact checkers or the average layperson consider ectopic pregnancy treatment to be abortion. What matters is whether the treatment is available to people whose lives are endangered by ectopic pregnancy—and there’s a lot of evidence that abortion bans will restrict the availability of this lifesaving medical care.

Ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg attaches outside the uterus, are not terminated by the same medical procedures as pregnancies in which the fertilized egg is inside the uterus. Ah-ha! PolitiFact tells us. This means it’s not abortion!

So, yes: Ectopic pregnancy is commonly treated either through a medication called methotrexate or through laparoscopic surgery, while what we more generally term as abortion is commonly provided either through the medications mifepristone and misoprostol or through vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage, or dilation and extraction.

Additionally, if you consider a procedure or spontaneous bodily event to be abortion only if the product of conception is expelled or removed specifically from the uterus, then termination of an ectopic pregnancy is not, by definition, abortion.

We can talk definitions all day long, but reality is being affected by laws sloppily written by people who do not care about how to properly define the terms associated with medical treatment. For instance, state abortion bans often refer to the “unborn child,” but “that’s a word that means nothing to me as an obstetrician, because I deal in the words of ‘embryo,’ ‘fetus,’ and perhaps ‘neonate,’” Louise Perkins King, director of reproductive bioethics at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Vox.

Fact checkers splitting hairs over the definition of abortion do not help if doctors and pharmacists (and hospital lawyers) are concerned about prosecution for treating an ectopic pregnancy. The reality that doctors and patients face is this: “I am worried that people will sit on very sick, pregnant patients longer than they should, in fear of being prosecuted,” Jeannie Kelly, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Kansas Reflector. “This isn’t just our licenses, this isn’t malpractice. This is a criminal felony charge with jail time.”

“When people are unclear about what these laws mean, and you’re talking large penalties for physicians, you know, loss of license, jail time, felony charges,” Amy Addante, an OB-GYN and fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told PolitiFact in the very same piece that led with hair-splitting over whether ectopic pregnancies are treated with abortion. “The delays that are occurring as they seek legal clarity to make sure that they can legally do what they know to be medically right, it’s really dangerous for that patient.”

If you want to understand how easily the treatment of ectopic pregnancy can be twisted to imply that it’s something other than the removal of a nonviable conception causing serious risk of fatality, consider this trash New York Times op-ed, which argues, “From a pro-life perspective, delivering a baby who is ectopic is closer to delivering a baby very prematurely because the mother has life-threatening eclampsia.” There is, as many, many people pointed out on Twitter, no such thing as “a baby who is ectopic,” yet those words made it into The New York Times. While that piece is arguing that ectopic pregnancy treatment is acceptable in an anti-abortion framework, the existence and high-profile validation of language like “baby who is ectopic” is an active danger to people whose pregnancies are ectopic.

Methotrexate is already becoming more difficult to obtain, even though it is rarely used in medication abortions and is widely used for a range of conditions that have nothing to do with pregnancy. Additionally, there have already been cases under existing abortion bans where medical providers hesitated to provide ectopic pregnancy treatment out of fear of the legal consequences, waiting until the emergency was visible and undeniable enough that they were sure they wouldn’t get in trouble—despite the cost to person whose care was delayed. Your abortion ban can leave something officially legal, but if doctors are too frightened to provide it, the effect is the same as if the ban were explicitly written in the law.

These concerns about delayed care don't just affect ectopic pregnancies. While many abortion bans have exemptions for cases where the life of the mother is endangered, they’re really unclear what that means.

A Texas abortion provider said, ”My lawyer told me, 'Unless they are on that table dying in front of you, you cannot do an abortion on them or you are breaking the law.’”

Writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, Lisa Harris, a professor of reproductive health at the University of Michigan, asked, “What does the risk of death have to be, and how imminent must it be? Might abortion be permissible in a patient with pulmonary hypertension, for whom we cite a 30-to-50% chance of dying with ongoing pregnancy? Or must it be 100%?”

“It’s not like a switch that goes off or on that says, 'OK, this person is bleeding a lot, but not enough to kill them,' and then all of a sudden, there is bleeding enough to kill them,” Harris expanded on her point to NBC News. “It’s a continuum, so even how someone knows where a person is in that process is really tricky.”

”What’s really important and sad is that you really can’t keep the patient’s best interest in mind,” sociologist and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California San Francisco Lori Freedman told Vox. “Her suffering is not accounted for at all. Even if they can keep her from having long-term harm, she’s still going to have worse care. She’s still going to be stalled and scared for longer.”

Abortion bans will kill—not just when people seek unsafe, unregulated care and pay the price, but when doctors look at patients whose lives are genuinely threatened by their pregnancies and … hesitate. Republicans are intimidating doctors away from providing lifesaving care, and “the law has a life-of-the-mother exception” is no defense against the real-world outcomes here.

RELATED STORIES:

Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage are bad enough. Abortion bans make them worse


'A ban on abortion increases maternal mortality by 21% … Black women face a 33% increase'
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, subpoenas Giuliani, Eastman, and Graham over Jan. 6 conspiracy
Mark Sumner

It’s not the House select committee on Jan. 6 that wants a better look at many of those involved in Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Thanks to their wide-ranging activities in many states, investigations are going on at the local, state, and federal level into actions that Trump’s team took in attempting to reverse the will of the American people.

No state may have borne more of Trump’s focused fury than Georgia. President Joe Biden carried the state by over 12,500 votes, making it second to Arizona when it comes to the the narrowest margin of victory. This was far outside the realm of possible change that might be addressed by a recount, but Georgia conducted a recount anyway. When that didn’t make things any better for Trump, he requested that Georgia count a third time, which it did. Trump still lost, and by a bigger number than ever.

But Trump wasn’t done with Georgia. Right up until Jan. 6, Trump’s team tried every possible way to steal Georgia’s electoral votes. And now some of the most familiar names in MAGA land are getting hauled before a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia. That includes Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and attorney John Eastman.


An incomplete list of how Trump attempted to overturn the results in Georgia includes:
  • An “absurd” lawsuit that was blasted by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp as being nothing more than a collection of lies that had been flatly rejected in other states. (That lawsuit was actually withdrawn the morning of Jan. 6.)
  • Trump’s call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump was caught on tape asking for Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to defeat Biden, and threatening the official if he didn’t come through for Trump.
  • Giuliani appeared three times before Georgia state legislators, spreading claims of voter fraud he knew were unfounded and encouraging them to take control of the election process and simply ignore the votes.
  • Eastman also appeared before a legislative hearing and argued that there was “more than enough” evidence of voter fraud and that it was the “duty” of the legislators to appoint alternative electors.
  • Drafting a slate of 16 fake electors who then pretended to be the “lawfully elected electors” of the state and submitted false documents to Congress.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham called Raffensperger and urged him to simply toss out mail-in ballots in counties that favored Biden.
  • Trump, Giuliani, Powell, and a cast of dozens if not hundreds went on to insist that Kemp and Raffensperger were part of an international plot to deny Trump a repeat visit to the White House.
Now, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Trump’s team is going to get another day in court, but not the day they wanted.

The grand jury has subpoenaed Giuliani, Graham, and Eastman, along Trump advisers Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Jenna Ellis. They’ve also subpoenaed conspiracy-mongering podcast host Jacki Pick Deason.

Giuliani, Eastman, Mitchell, Chesebro, and Ellis are all expected to argue attorney-client privilege when it comes to their conversations with Trump. However, this can’t protect Giuliani or Eastman when it comes to their own claims before the legislature, especially since it is now clear they were aware their claims of election fraud were unfounded. When it comes to Graham … well, nothing can justify Lindsey Graham.


State officials who went along with the false elector scheme are also likely to see subpoenas.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The intrigue:
This is the closest jurors have gotten to the former president's inner circle during the investigation into potential criminal interference in Georgia's 2020 election, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which first reported the subpoenas.

Details:
The grand jury also issued subpoenas for podcast host Jacki Pick Deason, as well as lawyers John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesbro and Jenna Ellis.

  • The subpoenas were signed by Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the grand jury.
  • McBurney signed a “certificate of material witness” for Graham, Giuliani and others, saying they're necessary for this ongoing investigation, AP reports.
Zoom out: The subpoenas came after the jury heard testimony over the last weeks from various witnesses in the election investigation, AJC reports. Some of the witnesses included people who had direct contact with Trump.
  • The investigation could end with criminal charges against Trump for violating state law by trying to overturn the 2020 election, Axios' Emma Hurt writes.
  • The panel, which will focus primarily on the Trump investigation, will make recommendations about criminal prosecution for the district attorney's consideration.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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DeSantis signs bill forcing university students and faculty to disclose political beliefs to state
Rebekah Sager

On a fast track to turning Florida from the Sunshine State into the nation’s Most Fascist State, Gov. Ron. DeSantis signed HB 233 Tuesday. The bill requires all faculty and students at public universities to fill out surveys annually to assess the “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at their schools.

Of course, answering truthfully on the required surveys doesn’t come without some risks. According to The Tampa Bay Times, “indoctrinating students” could result in the schools losing their budgets, as suggested by the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ray Rodrigues.

When pushed during a press conference Tuesday to list the cases where conservative students were actually being indoctrinated, DeSantis could not—but did say that he knows “a lot of parents” who are concerned about such things, Salon reports.
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Responses to the survey will not necessarily be anonymous, and how the information will be used has not been laid out, but as the bill states, the information is meant to learn "the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented" at public universities, and whether students "feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom."

While signing the bill, DeSantis reportedly said that universities “used to be” places where students were “exposed to a lot of different ideas.”

"Unfortunately, now the norm is, these are more intellectually repressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted, and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed. … That's not worth tax dollars, and that's not something that we're going to be supporting moving forward,” the governor added.

Cathy Boehme, a researcher with the Florida Education Association, told the Miami Herald in April she worries Florida HB 233 will “force a fearful self-consciousness that is not as much about learning and debate as about appearances and playing into an outside audience.”

Lobbyist and advocate of the bill, Barney Bishop, says he hopes the efforts of the bill will eventually extend to K-12 schools, as well.

“I think that those of us who have diverse thinking and look at both sides of the issue, see that the way the cards are stacked in the education system, is toward the left and toward the liberal ideology and also secularism—and those were not the values that our country was founded on. … And those are the values that we need to get our country back to,” Bishop told the Herald. “I think the problem isn’t just in higher ed… The truth of the matter is that kids are being indoctrinated from an early age,” he added.

At a meeting of the state university system’s Board of Governors meeting Tuesday, according to The Tampa Bay Times, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson referred to public universities as “socialism factories.”

The bill equally prevents a university from “shielding” students from “access to, or observation of, ideas and opinions that they may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive.” Democratic lawmakers in Florida say this could make it easier for white supremacist groups to appear on campus for events, Salon reports.

Playing to his base, DeSantis is hellbent on outrightwinging any and all competition in the coming election months. With his “Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act," or the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” and his “Don’t Say Gay” bills, DeSantis is fast-becoming Trump 2.0—but worse. And DeSantis has made it pretty clear he doesn’t need to kiss the orange monster’s ring to make a presidential run in 2024.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
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Michigan's Republican secretary of state nominee warns demon possession is sexually transmitted
Hunter

Part of the problem with Republicanism's new insistence on elevating far-right cranks with their own far-right radio shows or podcasts is that there are tapes. These things are recorded. God help us, there are tapes, and every damn time the Republican base props up one of these crackpots journalists go back, review those tapes, and find out that wowza the person who now wants to be in charge of some critical infrastructure thing sure spent a lot of time, say, ranting about frog sexuality or the like. There are always tapes.

Republican Kristina Karamo is her party's nominee for Michigan secretary of state. She's backed by Donald Trump because of course she is. She wants to run the state's elections. She has her own podcast. She thinks demon possession is a sexually transmitted disease. I’m not kidding.

The CNN investigation of her podcast history delivers that precious moment of history: "If a person has demonic possession—I know it's gonna sound really crazy to me saying that for some people, thinking like what?! But having intimate relationships with people who are demonically possessed or oppressed—I strongly believe that a person opens themselves up to possession. Demonic possession is real," Karamo said in 2020.

She also called abortion "child sacrifice," a "very satanic practice," and that's of particular note because Karamo is an anti-abortion zealot who served on the board of a local crisis pregnancy center, one of the fake clinics that prey on Americans seeking an end to their pregnancy by instead feeding them disinformation and stuffing them into databases of pregnant Americans kept by anti-abortion groups for their own purposes.

Enough. I am so done. Why must we do this? Why must every recent election quickly decay into a list of ways the Republican candidate has proven themselves to be a conspiracy-addled crank?

You know what? If some American honestly believes that having sexytimes with someone who is demon-possessed may cause the demon to, uh, shoot into you instead, that's fine! It's a little confusing, to be sure: Does that mean the person you had sex with is now free of the demon? Does the demon split itself into two demons? Does the demon phone up another demon to possess you at the height of the intimate act? So if you have intercourse in some sort of holy Faraday cage, will that block the first demon's call, thus sparing you? What are the parameters here?

The theological implications of possible demon mitosis aside, however, it does us no particular harm if some American believes in supernatural possession so long as they are kept far away from levers of authority. Very far. As far as possible. Believing that intimacy spreads demons is one thing, but at this point in America we are coming precariously close to having a Supreme Court cite dead Englishmen who believed in demon sex as reason why marriage laws must be rewritten to disallow sex between any two Americans not personally cleansed by an exorcist in advance.

Americans on the demon sex beat should stay in their lane: warning about demon sex. The last thing we need right now, however, is a Trump-promoting Trump-endorsed election conspiracy theorist as a Michigan secretary of state, and it is doubly bad to have to worry that a new pro-Trump state official might seriously be entertaining the idea that elections could have been stolen in part by new invisible swarms of sexually transmitted demons.

We are all very tired right now, and this is usually around the point where people start complaining that my commentary about the weird lady and her STDs is not being inclusive enough of people who Believe things, and that's well and good but no. No, we do not have to respect people who believe their own little conspiracies and use them as reason to restrict the rights of others. You can believe that abortion is "satanic" if you want; until Justice Samuel Alito came along it was generally understood that you believing something was "satanic" was not sufficient grounds for demanding veto power over your neighbor's medical decisions. I do not have to be nice to the Sexually Transmitted Demons lady; the First Amendment still says, for now, I am allowed to judge her based on the conspiracies she keeps.

Karamo has been an avid promoter of election conspiracy hoaxes, which is the sole reason Donald Trump gives a damn about her. This is disqualifying on its own, because it makes her a liar and a propagandist. That she believes she is allowed to lie and promote sedition-backing hoaxes because she believes Americans who do not agree with her specific religious zealotry are acting on behalf of demons does not make it better. It makes it much, much worse.

We don't have to pretend that the Republican Party elevating conspiracy cranks is anything less than what it is. The party is lost. Whatever it once was, now it is just Republicanism, a conspiracy movement that elevates conspiracy over all else. The people who believe that unauthorized sex leads to demon possession are the same as the people looking to witch hunters to limit the rights of women, and both of them are the same as the people sneering with contempt at those horrified by gun violence, declaring that maybe the problem is that we don't have good enough doors. Enough already. A single day of sanity would be a start; an entire week of it would feel like heaven.