…I might have to cut this one short…which to be fair might be preferred by some…but I’m a little pressed for time today…& the truth is it feels a little bit like “the news” doesn’t feel so new
The amount of heat Earth traps has roughly doubled since 2005, contributing to more rapidly warming oceans, air and land, according to new research from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented,” said Norman Loeb, a NASA scientist and lead author of the study, which was published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “The Earth is warming faster than expected.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/06/16/earth-heat-imbalance-warming/
…so you’d think maybe it’d be easy…but then a lot of it is kind of hard to swallow
In 23 US states, Republicans hold the governorship and the legislature, giving the party near total control to advance its policies. This year, Republicans have used that power to aggressively push their conservative social agenda – taking aim at abortion access, transgender rights and gun safety, as well as voting laws.
This trend of states approving increasingly extreme laws on issues like abortion and trans rights is alarming Democrats, who accuse Republicans of using their legislative power to target vulnerable communities.
A different America: How Republicans hold near total control in 23 US states [Guardian]
A moratorium on evictions did little to address the bigger problem: The country is running out of affordable places for people to live.The U.S. Averted One Housing Crisis, but Another Is in the Wings [NYT]
…it’s sort of like if kafka wrote groundhog day
Donald Trump tried to enlist top US law enforcement officials in a conspiracy-laden and doomed effort to overturn his election defeat, a campaign they described as “pure insanity”, newly released emails show.
The documents reveal Trump and his allies’ increasingly desperate efforts between December and early January to push bogus conspiracy theories and cling to power – and the struggle of bewildered justice department officials to resist them.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/15/emails-reveal-trump-push-overturn-election-defeat
An hour before President Donald J. Trump announced in December that William P. Barr would step down as attorney general, the president began pressuring Mr. Barr’s eventual replacement to have the Justice Department take up his false claims of election fraud.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/us/politics/trump-justice-department-election.html
The emails, turned over by the Justice Department to investigators on the House Oversight Committee, show how Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Rosen to put the power of the Justice Department behind lawsuits that had already failed to try to prove his false claims that extensive voter fraud had affected the election results.
…although even that would be hard pressed to explain some of this shit
The No. 3 Senate Republican, John Barrasso of Wyoming, told a group of voters that he wants to make President Joe Biden a “one-half-term president.”https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/no-3-senate-republican-john-barrasso-vows-make-biden-one-n1270960
…& while that kind of batshit nonsense might wind up working out badly for some of those involved
A crew of conservative lawyers still pushing disinformation that echoes Donald Trump’s false claim that the election was rigged are now battling federal inquiries, defamation lawsuits and bar association scrutiny that threaten to cripple their legal careers.
Former justice department officials say Trump’s legal loyalists are weakening trust in the American electoral system via persistent repetition of his baseless claims. They note that some are actively backing Republican drives in key states to change election laws seen as undermining voting rights for communities of color.Woes mount for legal loyalists who pushed Trump’s election conspiracies [Guardian]
The Manhattan district attorney’s office appears to have entered the final stages of a criminal tax investigation into Donald J. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, setting up the possibility he could face charges this summer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.Trump Executive Could Face Charges as Soon as This Summer [NYT]
…back in that kafkaesque groundhog day…it’s just business as usual it seems
The forceful pushback from McConnell shows his alarm about the latest aggressive move by Democrats to engage in retrospective oversight that could expose Trump for misusing the vast power of the federal government to pursue his political enemies.
It also means Republicans are certain to lock arms to block subpoenas against Trump justice department officials, including former attorneys general Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions. Democrats need at least one Republican member for subpoenas because of the even split between Democrats and Republicans on the panel.Republicans move to block inquiry into Trump DoJ’s secret data seizure [Guardian]
…that said…despite all the “same shit”
To be clear, corporate contributions never dried up entirely. Their professed passion for democracy notwithstanding, plenty of companies and trade groups were even more passionate about not endangering their special friendships with lawmakers. And nothing makes lawmakers friendlier than campaign cash.
Last month, a report by the government watchdog group CREW noted that, although PAC donations were way down in the three months following the Jan. 6 attack, “170 business PACs — some of which had previously committed to stop giving” — still donated over “$2.6 million to campaigns, leadership PACs and party committees allied with” the Sedition Caucus.Corporate America Forgives the Sedition Caucus [NYT]
…it is at least a “different day”
The last time an American president held a summit with President Vladimir Putin of Russia — July 16, 2018, in Helsinki — happened to be my first day working at the White House as National Security Council director for European and Russian affairs. It was not the usual mundane Day 1 of H.R. meetings, to put it mildly. Instead, I was thrust into a vortex of unending press inquiries and hasty meetings with other National Security Council staff members. We were all responding to frantic calls from embassies and congressional aides demanding comments and clarification on President Donald Trump’s bizarre assertion that he seemed to believe Mr. Putin’s (false) denials of interference in the 2016 election at least as much as the assessment of the United States intelligence community.We’ve Come a Long Way Since Trump. Putin Is Still Winning. [NYT]
Critics will argue that little was accomplished Wednesday that would move the needle on U.S.-Russia relations. That may be so, if progress is measured by a single meeting. In reality, diplomacy doesn’t work that way.
Any Americans who believe that this country’s race problem stops at the water’s edge should disabuse themselves of the notion.
Our race problem is also an international problem in that dictators and authoritarian regimes use it as a way to point out American hypocrisy on human rights, as a means of deflecting from their horrible treatment of their own people and as a way to buck American chastisement.
On Wednesday, at a news conference after his meeting with President Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed aside criticism of how his government was treating a pro-democracy group in his country by comparing that group to Black Lives Matter:
“America just recently had very severe events, well-known events, after the killing of an African American. An entire movement developed, known as Black Lives Matter. I’m not going to comment on that, but here’s what I do want to say: What we saw was disorder, destruction, violations of the law, etc.”The World’s Dictators Exploit America’s Racism [NYT]
For the past few years, Republicans in Congress have echoed Russian propaganda. On Wednesday, in Geneva, Vladimir Putin returned the favor: He echoed Republican propaganda.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/06/16/republicans-parroted-putins-propaganda-now-putin-parrots-republican-propaganda/
It would certainly be welcome if Mr. Biden’s discussion with the Russian ruler, and follow-up talks they agreed would take place, led to an end to Russia-based cyberattacks, the relaxation of the Kremlin’s squeeze on the Russian operations of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the release of U.S. citizens unjustly imprisoned in Moscow. Mr. Putin hinted “compromise” was possible on all these matters. Mr. Biden further reported that Mr. Putin had offered “help” on Iran and Afghanistan, and that accommodations were possible on the wars in Syria and Libya, where the two countries back opposing sides.
In short, the rhetoric sounded a lot like that which followed the initial encounters between the past three U.S. presidents and Mr. Putin, who has invariably reneged on his promises and relentlessly escalated his assaults on the U.S. political system and alliances. The Russian ruler’s implacable hostility toward the United States was evident in his performance at a post-summit news conference, in which he repeatedly offered bogus comparisons between his foreign aggressions, his human rights offenses, and U.S. actions. His persecution of the peaceful opposition movement led by Alexei Navalny, he claimed, was comparable to the prosecution of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.Biden offered Putin the benefit of the doubt. He should know better. [WaPo]
…perhaps we somehow stumbled into a dystopian future of some sort
The promise that so much healthcare could be delivered virtually, conveniently – and appealing in the US – cheaply, has perhaps never seemed more feasible. A subscription to Alpha Medical costs just $120 a year and promises “unlimited messaging” with a provider, though no in-person treatment or prescriptions are covered.
But the latest iteration of “telehealth” promoted for everything from therapy to birth control, including by Alpha, will not look like telehealth as most patients understand it.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/15/telemedicine-companies-seeking-to-cash-in-on-covid-pandemic-boom
…let’s just say…I don’t think this sort of thing suggests that’s a great idea?
Each year, hundreds of thousands of workers churn through a vast mechanism that hires and monitors, disciplines and fires. Amid the pandemic, the already strained system lurched.
“We notified your manager and H.R. about your return to work on Oct. 1, 2020,” the message said.
Ms. Castillo was incredulous. While working mandatory overtime in the spring, her 42-year-old husband, Alberto, had been among the first wave of employees at the site to test positive for the coronavirus. Ravaged by fevers and infections, he suffered extensive brain damage. On tests of responsiveness, Ms. Castillo said, “his score was almost nothing.”
For months, Ms. Castillo, a polite, get-it-done physical therapist, had been alerting the company that her husband, who had been proud to work for the retail giant, was severely ill. The responses were disjointed and confusing. Emails and calls to Amazon’s automated systems often dead-ended. The company’s benefits were generous, but she had been left panicking as disability payments mysteriously halted. She managed to speak to several human resources workers, one of whom reinstated the payments, but after that, the dialogue mostly reverted to phone trees, auto-replies and voice mail messages on her husband’s phone asking if he was coming back.
The return-to-work summons deepened her suspicion that Amazon didn’t fully register his situation. “Haven’t they kept track of what happened to him?” she said. She wanted to ask the company: “Are your workers disposable? Can you just replace them?”The Amazon That Customers Don’t See [NYT]
…& it’s not like they really seem to have particularly more respect for their customers at the end of the day
Many have learned a hard lesson about what it means to be an Amazon customer. Even when you’re paying lots of money, you are a guinea pig at the whims of a company endlessly striving to innovate. At any moment, the company could surprise you with an unwelcome change to an Amazon product you own or decide to kill it altogether.
Why does Amazon, a brand that probably knows more about what we want to buy than any other company, need to sell us experimental products just to figure out what it’s doing? Tech companies big and small typically do their research and development in house before releasing products to us.
What’s more, when Amazon fails like this, you, the guinea pig, lose your hard-earned cash and a product you may enjoy. There is also an environmental impact: The electronic device could end up in a landfill, and even if you recycle it, only a small portion of its materials can be reused.Buyers of Amazon Devices Are Guinea Pigs. That’s a Problem. [NYT]
Design veterans with experience creating products for big tech brands like Apple and Samsung confirmed that Amazon’s method was atypical. My general recommendation is to think twice before buying cutting-edge tech products made by Amazon — and if you do, be aware of the risk.
…so it’s not that it isn’t nice to hear that things that seem like they should have happened already might be making it onto the to-do list
Democrats set a timeline Tuesday to move ahead with a sweeping infrastructure and jobs bill that wouldn’t require Republican support, making it clear that they believe a bipartisan deal wouldn’t sufficiently deliver on President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities.
The process would allow Democrats to avoid the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, but it wouldn’t guarantee that they will be able to pass the $4 trillion proposal Biden asked for. Still, it could pave the way for them to send a major piece of legislation to his desk.
Sen. Joe Manchin III, the lone Senate Democrat who is not sponsoring a sweeping voting rights and campaign finance bill, has outlined for the first time a list of policy demands on election legislation — opening the door to a possible compromise that could counter a bevy of Republican-passed laws that have rolled back ballot access in numerous states.
But Manchin’s memo also sketches out several provisions that have historically been opposed by most Democrats, including backing an ID requirement for voters and the ability of local election officials to purge voter rolls using other government records.
According to two Democratic aides familiar with Manchin’s views, he has also signaled to colleagues that he opposes a public financing system for congressional elections that has emerged as one of the most controversial parts of the For the People Act. The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe Manchin’s private communications with other lawmakers.Manchin outlines demands on voting legislation, creating an opening for potential Democratic compromise [WaPo]
…it’s less encouraging when it’s a reminder that this stuff hasn’t seen greater progress before now
Juneteenth, which takes place annually on June 19, marks the true end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Army General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom from slavery in the state of Texas, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday has been celebrated in 47 states and the District of Columbia, but now, if passed through the Senate, will be recognized on a national level.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-unanimously-passes-bill-make-juneteenth-federal-holiday
…because in the meantime…well…I’m pretty sure this isn’t what “what goes around comes around” is supposed to mean
A former St Louis police officer with a track record of violence, including the killing of a mentally disturbed Black man that was condemned as amounting to an execution, has been convicted of beating a suspect as he lay restrained and prostrate on the ground.
Ellis Brown III was found guilty by a federal jury last week after an internal police inquiry cleared him over a car chase in 2019 which ended with the then detective severely kicking Steven Kolb after he surrendered.
Kolb was so badly injured he was taken to hospital. The former officer faces up to 10 years in prison.
But Brown is better known as one of two St Louis officers who shot dead Kajieme Powell in 2014, just 10 days after another police officer killed Michael Brown a short distance away in Ferguson, invigorating the Black Lives Matter movement and sparking weeks of civil unrest.Ex-St Louis officer’s conviction points up revolving door for disgraced police [Guardian]
But Ellis Brown’s history, including other allegations of violence and of fabricating evidence, has raised questions about the ease with which police officers with bad records are able to move between departments after he swiftly found a job with the city of St Ann, a St Louis suburb. There Brown rose to be head of detectives until his arrest for assaulting Kolb.
…or…given how things went down texas way when things got too cold…what that saying about heat & getting out of the kitchen is supposed to be about, either
As temperatures rise to unseasonably warm levels across Texas this week, its citizens are being asked to use less energy on basics like cooking and washing clothes to ease strain on the state’s power grid that is struggling to generate enough electricity to cope with the high temperatures.Texans are urged to cut back on cooking and cleaning to ease power grid strain [Guardian]
…I don’t seem to have the link to hand but another one might be “be careful what you wish for” since the combination of texas’ reputation for some of the cheapest energy in the world & china’s crackdown on the crypto stuff had some people speculating that a bunch of electricity-hungry types might be looking to decamp to the lone star state…although it doesn’t seem like that’s what its governor is getting hot & bothered about
Gov. Greg Abbott said he would draw on $250 million of state revenues to begin work on a border wall and asked supporters to chip in with donations to a crowdfunding website.Texas Says It Will Build the Wall, and Asks Online Donors to Pay for It [NYT]
…when you get down to it…at least for the folks with the most of the stuff…putting your money where your mouth is isn’t exactly the norm
At a time when the lack of taxes paid by the ultrawealthy has occupied a growing space in the national discourse, more and more attention has focused on the benefits that billionaires like Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates accrue from their philanthropic giving. The two men, who along with Melinda French Gates, co-founded the Giving Pledge and together fund the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are the richest they have ever been.
“Most billionaire philanthropists accumulate wealth faster than they give it away. It’s true even for the big-time proponents of giving, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett,” said David Callahan, founder of the website Inside Philanthropy. “MacKenzie Scott seems to be somebody who actually is interested in giving away her money faster than she makes it.”MacKenzie Scott Reveals Another $2.74 Billion in Giving [NYT]
“In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.
With more than 700 million people globally still living in extreme poverty, Scott wrote, her team “prioritised organisations with local teams, leaders of color and a specific focus on empowering women and girls”.
Beneficiaries included organisations staffed by “people who have spent years successfully advancing humanitarian aims, often without knowing whether there will be any money in their bank accounts in two months.
“What do we think they might do with more cash on hand than they expected? Buy needed supplies. Find new creative ways to help. Hire a few extra team members they know they can pay for the next five years. Buy chairs for them. Stop having to work every weekend. Get some sleep.”https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jun/15/philanthropist-mackenzie-scott-gives-away-2bn-to-286-organisations
…& while we’re on the subject of things that might make you feel better about the world
My father, you won’t be surprised to hear, is not a billionaire who, until a few months ago, served as the 45th president of the United States. But if he was, do you know what I would be doing right now? Swigging champagne on a yacht in the Med with the internet off, I reckon. You know what I would absolutely not be doing? Selling sad little videos of myself saying “Hello!” and “Happy birthday!” for $500 a pop on a video messaging service called Cameo. And yet, according to recent reports, it seems Donald Trump Jr is spending his days doing exactly that.
What gives? Is the former president’s eldest child desperate for attention or desperate for money?
At first glance, the former might seem more likely. Don Jr, after all, has shown himself to be as addicted to social media as his dad – and there is no obvious financial need for him to hawk personalised videos. Indeed, Don Jr sold the fancy Hamptons house he owned with his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a few months ago for more than $8m – almost double what they paid for it in 2019. When you are pocketing profits like that, why bother flogging yourself on online video platforms?
Expensive lawsuits, maybe? For legal reasons, I should make it clear that I am in no way insinuating that the Trump family is on the verge of being bankrupted and ruined reputationally by a swathe of lawsuits. But I am also not not saying that.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/16/is-trouble-brewing-for-ivanka-trump-and-don-jr-theyre-certainly-acting-like-it