…a manner of speaking [DOT 27/11/22]

when you lack anything worth saying...

…ok…so…it’s sunday…& with all due respect to anyone who was up early enough to notice how late I got this up today…sundays are supposed to be relaxing…so…maybe this one would be better spent reading this sort of thing

A team of researchers have cracked a five century-old code that reveals a rumoured French plot to kill Charles V.
It took the team from the Loria research lab in eastern France six months to decipher the letter, written in 1547 by the emperor to his ambassador in France. The tumultuous period saw a succession of wars and tensions between Spain and France, ruled at that time by Francis I, the Renaissance ruler who brought Leonardo da Vinci from Italy.

…or…if that’s still too close to the modern day & you don’t want to read about what they used to call crypto for short…maybe this…nobody could accuse it of falling short, at any rate

One of the most massive creatures ever to have walked on Earth, Patagotitan mayorum was a 57-tonne behemoth that would have shaken the ground as it stomped over homelands which now form modern Patagonia. Its skeleton is 37 metres long, and 5 metres in height – significantly larger than the museum’s most famous dinosaur, Dippy the diplodocus, which used to loom over its main gallery.
Patagotitan mayorum lived about 101 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous period, near the end of the dinosaurs’ reign on Earth. It was one of the three or four biggest species of titanosaur now known to science. These creatures were built like suspension bridges with a huge spine, a vast neck for gathering food from trees and a tail to provide balance.
Several mysteries still surround Patagotitan mayorum, however. “You find remains of big dinosaurs in many places but in Patagonia you get ones that are absolutely massive, like titanosaurs,” Barrett said. “So was there something special about the ecology of the region at this time or have we just been unlucky so far in not finding titanosaur remains elsewhere?”

It is also not clear why the six animals died so close together. “They were all almost fully grown and died at the same site,” Marron said. “But why? What could have done that? It is not clear, though the mystery gives an extra dimension to the story of these wonderful animals.”

…or…maybe you’d like to hear about how it might be in humanity’s interests to grow more weed…like…a lot more

Hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and can grow 4 metres high in 100 days. Research suggests hemp is twice as effective as trees at absorbing and locking up carbon, with 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of hemp reckoned to absorb 8 to 22 tonnes of CO2 a year, more than any woodland. The CO2 is also permanently fixed in the hemp fibres, which can go on to be used for many commodities including textiles, medicines, insulation for buildings and concrete; BMW is even using it to replace plastics in various car parts.

…because reading about that stuff sure as hell seems more appealing that confronting some of the other stuff that’s out there

On Sunday, loud cheers from Sharm el-Sheikh greeted the announcement of a new initiative – the global loss and damage fund – to right historical wrongs by compensating climate-hit developing countries. This breakthrough brought back memories of another, the £100bn a year agreed at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to help poor countries mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

That money has never fully materialised. If our 13 years’ experience of the £100bn fund that never was is anything to go by, eulogies of praise will soon turn into allegations of betrayal. The president of next year’s Cop28 will have to answer for yet another fund without funders. Far from the loss and damage fund narrowing the credibility gap on climate action, it is likely to bridge nothing if money fails to flow from rich to poor.

The last decade has been a history of promises made and broken. Before Covid, the cost of financing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) was $2.5tn a year. Now, post-Covid, and with the price of fighting floods, firestorms and droughts – and the debt burden of low-income countries – dramatically escalating, it is $4tn annually. Set against an official development assistance (ODA) budget of only $179bn a year and $130bn on offer mainly in multilateral loans, the SDGs represent yet another unanimous but unfunded pledge of the international community. To make matters worse, the British development aid budget has now been cut from 0.7% of our national income to 0.5% for years ahead, and already our overall contribution to meeting all our climate and development targets is down from the promised £16bn to just £11.5bn.
A world addressing an existential challenge should not have to rely on charity. An action plan for Cop28 that requires donors to contribute to climate finance based on their capacity to pay – and, in the case of loss and damage, based on historic liability for greenhouse gas emissions – should be the starting point for the next round of climate finance. Adequately funding our global goals for the first time would be something to really cheer about. We have the means and the knowhow. What we now need is the political will.

…that’s the thing about massive problems with a ton of variables…it’s hard to tell if they’re impervious to solutions or just intractable

The debate over what China owes to countries that are least responsible for global warming — but most harmed by its effects — has dramatically intensified in the wake of the recent U.N. Climate Change Conference in Egypt. At the end of the two-week summit, known as COP27, negotiators from nearly 200 nations agreed to establish a fund to compensate vulnerable countries for the costs of addressing rising seas, stronger storms and other effects of a warming world.

Analysts say it is unlikely that China will pay into the fund, despite the country’s rapidly rising contribution to the greenhouse gases heating the planet.

…& it’s not like it’s just china looking to duck this stuff

While American diplomats agreed to establish the fund for loss and damage, reversing long-standing U.S. resistance to the idea, there is no guarantee that Congress will appropriate the money. Last year, President Biden requested $2.5 billion for international climate finance but secured just $1 billion, and that was when Democrats controlled both chambers.

This year, Biden has asked for a record $11.4 billion. But Republicans, who generally oppose climate aid, are poised to take control of the House in January, further dampening the prospects for the funding.

“The idea that we owe developing countries some sort of climate reparations is absurd,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said in an interview. “If anything, we could send them a bill for all the things we’ve done over the decades on their behalf.”

…but all the same…it’s not always easy to identify progress

For months, Putin claimed that the “economic blitzkrieg” against Russia had failed, but Western sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine are digging ever deeper into Russia’s economy, exacerbating equipment shortages for its army and hampering its ability to launch any new ground offensive or build new missiles, economists and Russian business executives said.
The Kremlin has trumpeted a lower-than-expected decline in GDP, forecast by the International Monetary Fund at only 3.5 percent this year, as demonstrating that the Russian economy can weather the raft of draconian sanctions.

But economists and business executives said the headline GDP figures did not reflect the real state of the Russian economy because the Russian government effectively ended the ruble’s convertibility since the sanctions were imposed. “GDP stopped having any meaning because firstly we don’t know what the real ruble rate is, and secondly if you produce a tank and send it to the front where it is immediately blown up, then it is still considered as value added,” said Milov, who wrote a report explaining the situation for the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies published this month.

…because even if they are having to raid an increasingly bare cupboard

Russia is firing ageing cruise missiles stripped of their nuclear warheads at Ukrainian targets because Vladimir Putin’s stocks are so depleted, the Ministry of Defence has suggested.

An intelligence update from the British MoD on Saturday said the desperate improvisation by the Russian president’s struggling forces are “unlikely to achieve reliable effects”.
“Whatever Russia’s intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles.”

…I’d have to assume that’s pretty much the definition of cold comfort to the folks in ukraine

Much of Ukraine remained without electricity, heat and water two days after a devastating series of Russian missile attacks against the country’s civilian infrastructure.

…because those missile barrages are certainly having their intended effects in terms of unreliability

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, was seized by Russian forces in March and it has been off the grid since September, amid frequent shelling of the area around it.

Ukraine’s three other nuclear power plants – Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnytskyi – have not been directly targeted in recent Russian missile strikes, but their safety could be threatened by further attacks on the Ukrainian power grid.

Missile attacks last Wednesday on high voltage cables, transformers and substations triggered the first ever simultaneous emergency shutdown, or “scram”, of all four plants.

…despite which…they’re still managing to think about people beyond their borders

In a move that challenges the Russian narrative that the west’s response to its war on Ukraine has aggravated pre-existing food shortages in Africa, Zelenskiy said ships moving out of the Ukrainian port of Odesa can reach humanitarian hotspots such as Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, but only so long as international funding comes forward to subsidise the grain.
Zelenskiy said he was launching the programme on the anniversary of the Holodomor, when millions of Ukrainians starved to death in a man-made famine from 1932-33. The programme is being supported by a new international coordination group for the prevention of hunger.

Zelenskiy said in a statement: “Even as the country struggles with food shortages, devastated farmland, and widespread blackouts, we will never forget our role as a responsible global citizen – especially having experienced famine as a nation ourselves. Africa is in desperate need of food and Ukraine stands ready to support vulnerable people in their hour of need.”
Russia agreed to extend the Black Sea corridor grain deal last week for a further 120 days. Since the deal was first launched – lifting the Russian blockade on Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea towards Turkey – a total of 11m tonnes of Ukrainian agricultural products had reached 38 countries.
Egypt and Madagascar are dependent on either Russia or Ukraine for more than 70-80% of their wheat, while Somalia imports more than 90% of its wheat requirement. Eritrea imports 100% of its grain from Ukraine and Russia.

…one way or another it seems like the trick when it comes to solving a thing is that you have to follow through…to take one example…say you have a problem to which there would appear to be a solution

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

…notwithstanding the semantics about what constitutes an insurrection…personally I have no problem stipulating that a mob assault on a national legislative seat timed to intercede in the transfer of executive powers…however vestigial that action might be in terms of the operative function…comfortably clears the bar from riot to insurrection in a way that for my money even the most unruly of the BLM protests simply do not…so this comes off like a no-brainer…despite the misgivings some have based on the reaction of the same people from whose ranks the active insurrectionists of that day were drawn…or the ones prepared to try to employ some sort of reductio ad absurdam end-run on the logic of the plain language

The more serious problem with Section 3 is that it is easy to see how it could morph into a caricature of what it is trying to prevent. Keeping specific candidates off the ballot is a classic move of autocrats, from Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela to Aleksandr Lukashenko in Belarus to Vladimir Putin. It sends the message that voters cannot be trusted to choose their leaders wisely — if at all. And didn’t we just witness Americans around the country using their voting power to repudiate Mr. Trump’s Big Lie and reject the most dangerous election deniers? Shouldn’t we let elections take their course and give the people the chance to (again) reject Mr. Trump at the ballot box?

…it’s not that I can’t see their point…& I’m aware that precedents set carry a lot of weight in the US…but…in order to see their point I find I have to narrow my view to the point of shutting out damn nearly all of the relevant context in the specific instance in question in order to consider only a kind of generic hypothetical scenario…which, oddly enough, tends to only be possible after something else happens…that section 3 of the 14th amendment would seem explicitly designed to prevent…to wit:

Sometimes a democracy doesn’t protect itself. There is no rule that says democracies will perpetuate themselves indefinitely. Many countries, notably Hungary and Turkey, have democratically undone themselves by electing leaders who then dismantled most of the rights and privileges people tend to expect from democratic government. Section 3 is in the Constitution precisely to help ensure that America does not fall into that trap.

…& while there are some people whose grasp of this sort of logic I find reassuring

To help me resolve my ambivalence, I called Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who sits on the Jan. 6 committee and taught constitutional law before joining Congress. He acknowledged what he called an understandable “queasiness” about invoking Section 3 to keep Mr. Trump off the ballot. But Mr. Raskin argued that this queasiness is built into the provision. “What was the constitutional bargain struck in Section 3?” he asked. “There would be a very minor incursion into the right of the people to elect exactly who they want, in order to obtain much greater security for the constitutional order against those who have demonstrated a propensity to want to overthrow it when it is to their advantage.”

…charitably I suppose I could argue that in his opinion piece jesse wegman is attempting to lay out a variety of devil’s advocate positions in order to preemptively dismiss some of the more frequently deployed straw men…& that maybe the extent to which he frames them as more credible than I feel like they are is in service of pitching the piece at an audience that struggles to get there on their own…but…I guess I’d argue that in a tricky context the importance of a better contextualization of the thing at issue is surely greater where that approach seems guaranteed to go with the reverse…& honestly…even at my most charitable…I can not for the life of me come up with a good reason to keep turning a blind eye to a wider context that is built on saying the quiet part loud

On 2 October, Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court announced that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Leftist leader and former president, had won the popular vote in the first round of the country’s presidential election – receiving six million more votes than incumbent right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.

The next day, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist and a family friend of Bolsonaro’s, took to his podcast, ‘Bannon’s War Room’, to raise allegations of electoral fraud. Bannon was joined by Matthew Tyrmand, a board member for Project Veritas – a discredited US group that uses hidden cameras to supposedly ‘expose’ leftist journalists – and Darren Beattie, a former Trump speechwriter who was fired in 2018 after it emerged he had met with white nationalists two years earlier. (Beattie told US media he had said “nothing objectionable” at this meeting.

…here’s a guy…currently in contempt of congress…& very much a part of the effort to get a less articulate but equally bilious buffoon elected US president…actively looking to play the part of the “friendly” russians from that go around…down to using the not-so-sharp progeny as the vector

Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s third son and a member of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, has also formed close ties to US conservatives. In August 2018, a few months before his father won the presidency, Eduardo met Bannon in New York, at the offices of Breitbart News, the extreme Right propaganda website, of which Bannon was once executive chairman. “We share the same worldview,” Eduardo tweeted after the meeting. “We are certainly in touch to join forces, especially against cultural Marxism.”

The following year, Bannon named Eduardo the South American representative of The Movement, a platform of rightist political parties that had until then been entirely European, which Bannon put together to “support populist nationalism and reject the influence of globalism”. While The Movement never really took off, it enhanced Eduardo’s status in right-wing circles, with Agência Pública counting 77 visits and meetings between him and key Trump supporters in the past five years.

…if that’s too subtle to draw out a parallel with the events of jan 6th…or underline the part where it deserves the insurrection tag…maybe consider this part?

Eduardo Bolsonaro was in Washington at the time, and mystery still surrounds his “surprise visit”, as Brazilian paper O Globo described it, which the Brazilian embassy in the US said the foreign ministry was not aware of.

While Eduardo’s movements on 6 January have never been disclosed, throughout the rest of his trip – which seems to have spanned from 4-11 January – he posted selfies with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner; Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC); and Daniel Schneider, the then-leader of the American Conservative Union, which organises CPAC conferences.

…or…if you prefer…how about the traffic in the other direction?

One secretive meeting took place in September 2021, an explosive moment in Brazilian politics. With his popularity waning, dogged by corruption charges and a record number of impeachment requests in Congress, Bolsonaro urged his supporters to take to the streets on 7 September, Brazil’s national independence day. “We have three alternatives for me: prison, death or victory,” he said at a meeting of evangelical leaders in August, adding that the first was out of the question.

Hundreds of thousands flooded the streets of Brazilian cities, decrying the ‘rigged’ election system and demanding “military intervention” and a “shutdown of the Supreme Court”, which had suspended unconstitutional measures from Bolsonaro. In São Paulo, the country’s largest city, 125,000 people gathered to hear the president say he would not follow judicial orders, proclaiming: “Tell the bastards I’ll never be arrested.” Truck drivers blocked highways in 14 states, causing fears of food shortages. Some groups tried to storm the Supreme Court building, but were stopped by the police.

The riots cooled down only on 9 September when, under the threat of impeachment, Bolsonaro signed a letter stating he had never attacked the Supreme Court. The day before, while the country was still ablaze, 16 prominent US conservatives attended a dinner at Copacabana Palace, a beachfront hotel in Rio de Janeiro. Agência Pública has spoken to six people who were present at the meeting, which was hosted by Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry (CNI) and was officially a business event, though few of the American attendees were businesspeople. Most were politicians, political operatives and donors.

Republican Mike Lee, an influential senator who supported Trump’s efforts to reverse the election result, was arguably the most important US attendee. There were also at least four political consultants there, three of whom were linked to Republican senator Rand Paul: Sergio Gor, Paul’s former senior adviser (who was also the chief-of-staff on Trump’s reelection ‘Victory Finance Committee’), Connor Hickey, Paul’s former staffer, and Doug Stafford, his longtime chief strategist and fundraiser. The fourth was Nick Luna, Trump’s former personal assistant and bodyguard, who was reportedly in the Oval Office on 6 January when Trump called his vice-president to pressure him not to certify the election results.
Republican lawmaker Mark Green – who voted against certifying Biden’s election on 6 January – also met with Bolsonaro on 7 September, during a $15,000 six-day trip funded by the American Conservative Union. Green had spoken at a CPAC conference organised by Eduardo just days earlier, and had also met with two Brazilian congresspeople to discuss ‘vote integrity policies’. Green left Brasilia on 8 September.

…there’s more…but I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds about it given that what I’m trying to get at is the obviousness of it all

[…] Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party filed a request with Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court to invalidate the votes recorded by some 250,000 machines that were manufactured before 2020. Fact-checkers say the inquiry is premised on false information about older machines.

…funny thing, though…I guess the courts in brazil have more time on their hands…because this doesn’t seem to have taken years to reach an as-yet-undetermined conclusion…or maybe it has to do with the judges?

Supreme Federal Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, the president of the electoral court, said the machines were used in both the first and second rounds, and said the party should also request a review of first-round votes — which could put at risk the election of its candidates who won. He gave the party 24 hours to respond.

…it’s not exactly apples to apples

Brazil’s supreme and electoral courts, which are among the most muscular regulators of online speech in any democratic nation, have in recent weeks ordered tech companies to remove the social media accounts of several pro-Bolsonaro politicians and journalists, and in September ordered raids at the homes of business executives accused of promoting election disinformation and defending a military coup in a WhatsApp group.

…but…is judge-envy a thing?

The head of Brazil’s electoral court has rejected an attempt by outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro’s party to overturn the results of October’s run-off election, which he lost.

Alexandre de Moraes, a supreme court justice, also fined the parties in Bolsonaro’s coalition 22.9m reais ($4.3m) for what the court described as bad faith litigation.
De Moraes then wrote in his final decision: “The complete bad faith of the plaintiff’s bizarre and illicit request … was proven, both by the refusal to add to the initial petition and the total absence of any evidence of irregularities and the existence of a totally fraudulent narrative of the facts.”

He also wrote that the challenge to the vote appeared aimed at incentivising anti-democratic protest movements and creating tumult, and ordered an investigation of the president of Bolsonaro’s party, Valdemar Costa.

…I’m guessing if we got that guy’s opinion on that section 3 business it wouldn’t be a column’s worth of equivocation…& I guess I’d be intrigued about his take on this kind of thing, too

Across the country, openly carrying a gun in public is no longer just an exercise in self-defense — increasingly it is a soapbox for elevating one’s voice and, just as often, quieting someone else’s.
Whether at the local library, in a park or on Main Street, most of these incidents happen where Republicans have fought to expand the ability to bear arms in public, a movement bolstered by a recent Supreme Court ruling on the right to carry firearms outside the home. The loosening of limits has occurred as violent political rhetoric rises and the police in some places fear bloodshed among an armed populace on a hair trigger.
A New York Times analysis of more than 700 armed demonstrations found that, at about 77 percent of them, people openly carrying guns represented right-wing views, such as opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. rights and abortion access, hostility to racial justice rallies and support for former President Donald J. Trump’s lie of winning the 2020 election.

The records, from January 2020 to last week, were compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit that tracks political violence around the world. The Times also interviewed witnesses to other, smaller-scale incidents not captured by the data, including encounters with armed people at indoor public meetings.

Anti-government militias and right-wing culture warriors like the Proud Boys attended a majority of the protests, the data showed. Violence broke out at more than 100 events and often involved fisticuffs with opposing groups, including left-wing activists such as antifa.
Many conservatives and gun-rights advocates envision virtually no limits. When Democrats in Colorado and Washington State passed laws this year prohibiting firearms at polling places and government meetings, Republicans voted against them. Indeed, those bills were the exception.

Attempts by Democrats to impose limits in other states have mostly failed, and some form of open carry without a permit is now legal in 38 states, a number that is likely to expand as legislation advances in several more. In Michigan, where a Tea Party group recently advertised poll-watcher training using a photo of armed men in camouflage, judges have rejected efforts to prohibit guns at voting locations.

…it’s not entirely one-sided…but…it’s certainly lop-sided

In about a quarter of the cases, left-wing activists also were armed. Many times it was a response, they said, to right-wing intimidation. Other times it was not, such as when about 40 demonstrators, some with rifles, blocked city officials in Dallas from clearing a homeless encampment in July.

…& moreover…the things they want to argue in a “please notice that I’ve got a gun” sort of a way…those speak volumes, if you ask me

Beyond the mass gatherings, there are everyday episodes of armed intimidation. Kimber Glidden had been director of the Boundary County Library in Northern Idaho for a couple of months when some parents began raising questions in February about books they believed were inappropriate for children.

It did not matter that the library did not have most of those books — largely dealing with gender, sexuality and race — or that those it did have were not in the children’s section. The issue became a cause célèbre for conservative activists, some of whom began showing up with guns to increasingly tense public meetings, Ms. Glidden said.

“How do you stand there and tell me you want to protect children when you’re in the children’s section of the library and you’re armed?” she asked.

…particularly when they get what they want

In August, she resigned, decrying the “intimidation tactics and threatening behavior.”
At a Second Amendment rally in June 2021 outside the statehouse in Harrisburg, Pa., where some people were armed, Republican speakers repeatedly connected the right to carry a gun to other social and cultural issues. Representative Scott Perry voiced a frequent conservative complaint about censorship, saying the First Amendment was “under assault.”

“And you know very well what protects the First,” he said. “Which is what we’re doing here today.”
Across the country, there is evidence of increasing Republican involvement in militias. A membership list for the Oath Keepers, made public last year, includes 81 elected officials or candidates, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League. Most of them appear to be Republicans.

Another nationwide militia, the American Patriots Three Percent, recently told prospective members that it worked to support “individuals seeking election to local G.O.P. boards,” according to an archived version of its website.

…I’ve watched a lot of westerns…hell, I’ve very possibly read more than my fair share of the collected works of the likes of zane grey, j.t. edson, oliver strange & louis l’amour…but…even in a westworld-style with all manner of hidden saftey mechanisms to ensure I personally don’t get shot for real…settling things the high noon way has never been on my bucket list…so if these people want to play at being a cowboy couldn’t they buy some expensive boots & learn to ride &/or rope…instead of this?

An estimated 6 million American adults carried a loaded handgun with them daily in 2019, double the number who said they carried a gun every day in 2015, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The new estimates highlight a decades-long shift in American gun ownership, with increasing percentages of gun owners saying they own firearms for self-defense, not hunting or recreation, and choosing to carry a gun with them when they go out in public, said ​​Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, and the study’s lead author.
The new estimates highlight a decades-long shift in American gun ownership, with increasing percentages of gun owners saying they own firearms for self-defense, not hunting or recreation, and choosing to carry a gun with them when they go out in public, said ​​Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, and the study’s lead author.

But public gun-carrying has appeared to increase rapidly in recent years. A 2015 study by the same researchers, using the same methodology, had found that 3 million adults said they carried a loaded handgun daily, and 9 million did so once a month.
Demographically, those who chose to carry a gun in public in 2019 were more likely to live in the south, the study found. Four in five gun carriers were male, and three in four were white, Rowhani-Rahbar said. Other demographic factors, like education and household income, did not make a difference in whether gun owners chose to carry their guns in public or not, he said. About a quarter of the gun carriers had a household income of at least $125,000 a year, and nearly a third had graduated from college, the researchers found.

Only about 8% of handgun owners and carriers were at the lowest income level, making less than $25,000 a year.
The 2019 gun-carrying study was based on the self-reported behavior of a nationally representative sample of US adults living in firearm-owning households. Because of opposition from gun rights advocates, there are no official government statistics on the number or demographics of US gun owners, or even the exact number of annual consumer gun sales in the US, meaning that survey-based estimates are sometimes the best statistics available.

…smarter people than me are sounding plenty concerned

Frances Fox Piven has a warning for America. Don’t get too relaxed, there could be worse to come.

“I don’t think this fight over elemental democracy is over, by any means,” she said. “The United States was well on the road to becoming a fascist country – and it still can become a fascist country.”
That Piven is cautioning against a false sense of security in the wake of the midterms would not surprise her many students and admirers. The co-author, with her late husband Richard Cloward, of the progressive bible, Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail, has for decades sounded the alarm.
“There’s going to be a lot of vengeance politics, a lot of efforts to get back at Joe Biden, idiot stuff. And that will rile up a lot of people. The Maga mob is not a majority of the American population by any stretch of the imagination, but the fascist mob don’t have to be the majority to set in motion the kinds of policies that crush democracy.”

To say that Piven has come to such a perspective through years of experience as a sociologist and anti-poverty warrior would be an understatement. She recently celebrated her 90th birthday, and her earliest political memories go back to the 1930s.
Piven said she thought a lot about [the] communal mourning for FDR in the aftermath of the midterms with all their discord and rancour. “The thing about FDR was much bigger than partisan politics, anywhere,” she said.

That shared grief over FDR’s death seems worlds apart from the acrimony of today’s politics – all the more so after Trump’s declaration that he is running for the White House again. She talked about the former president’s “performative politics”, and the way it incorporates what she called “the human capacity for cruelty”.

Asked to point to an example of such cruelty, Piven referenced the attack last month on Paul Pelosi, husband of the Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. “This crazy man broke into the Pelosi home and attacked an 82-year-old man with a hammer, broke his skull. And there were actually politicians speaking to a mass audience and laughing at it.

“As thinking people, we don’t pay enough attention to the human lust for cruelty. We are at a point in American politics where those aspects of our nature are being brought to the fore; Trump has been doing that for a very long time, and we have to stop it or else it will continue to grow.”

…it’s not just the youth of today who make me feel like I’ve never really managed to do enough about the stuff that concerns me…I’m still considerably younger than the lady was when she prompted this, for example

More recently she helped to spawn in 2014 the progressive training program for movement organizers, Momentum. That in turn has seeded powerful grassroots networks such as the climate crisis disrupters the Sunrise Movement.
That leaning towards agitation – what she calls the power of “dissensus” as opposed to “consensus” – still burns strongly in her. In her academic writings, as in her on-the-ground organizing, she sees movement politics and seeking change through the ballot box as essential partners.

“I don’t think any large-scale progress has ever been made in the United States without the kind of trouble and disruption that a movement can cause by encouraging large numbers of people to refuse to cooperate,” she said. “But movements need the protection of electoral allies – they need legislative chaperoning.”

…not for nothing…but…as a rule…I’d say we’d all be better off if they didn’t have an armed chorus line…at least it looks that way from where I’m sitting…in fact…I’d say there’s a good chance that if you need to bring a gun to reinforce your point of view because without one you can’t force it down others’ throats…your point of view has a statistically high probability of being for shit…just sayin’



  1. Zelenskiy said in a statement: “Even as the country struggles with food shortages, devastated farmland, and widespread blackouts, we will never forget our role as a responsible global citizen – especially having experienced famine as a nation ourselves. Africa is in desperate need of food and Ukraine stands ready to support vulnerable people in their hour of need.”

    i have a small problem with this statement….as ukrainian grain and wheat and whatevers is still going to the highest bidder…..meaning…actually not all that much is ending up in africa

    quite a lot of it is ending up here in europeland….you know….to feed our cows….

    i mean..dont get me wrong…the majority of wheat getting shipped is going to developing nations….but the majority of stuff actually getting shipped is maize headed straight for europe and i assume fetching top dollar


    • …it’s a fair point…& I don’t aim to take issue with it…but I guess the comparison I was going for was (not least since at the end there several countries were mentioned who rely on either ukraine or russia for 70%-100% of their grain supplies) between the efforts being made in the face of an ongoing military invasion of their territory & those being made by the other possible source for that stuff…being as it is not-coincidentally the aggressor in that invasion

      …I don’t think being impressed by that is incompatible with thinking you make a valid criticism that the rhetoric might be overstating the magnanimity of the ukrainians…but…the UK isn’t taking aerial assaults on the daily & it’s still cutting the already-less-than-promised funding towards staving off disaster in far away places…so I’m still inclined to give them a fair bit of credit?

      • oh im not saying they dont deserve the credit for the good they do…..i just get annoyed at misleading statements….to me its a little akin to the oil companies green washing….i mean..yeah…you are doing some good….but i do believe you are glossing over some shit

        • …indeed…if I understood correctly the “charitable” shipments of grain for humanitarian aid are being underwritten by other countries…so the ukrainians aren’t giving the stuff away…I think that article might have said that the shipment that’s actually shipped was paid for by germany

          …but the fact that russia seems to require a humanitarian catastrophe to actually be in progress before it’s willing to allow them to ship any of what is one of their principle exports feels like it tips the scales even when a certain amount of gilding the lily is undeniably part of the ukrainian side of things

          …whereas with the greenwashing I think I’d take greater issue with the misleading part…not least because that isn’t rhetoric coming from people with a gun to their heads, as it were…if anything they’re the ones holding the rest of us hostage on the wrong end of a barrel…either way I’m with you on the part where a general absence of telling it like it actually is tends to aggravate…I can’t help feeling like it’s a lost cause but I’d surely like to see what things looked like if that was the rule rather than the exception?

  2. Caity Weaver, who once wrote an article for Gawker about eating mozarella sticks for 14 hours in a TGI Fridays, has this article about setting a new record sitting in a “silent” room for three hours.



    Supposedly the quiet room would drive anyone mad after 45 minutes, but Weaver had no problem.

    I’d get bored, no question, but the TGIF mozarella stick challenge  would be far, far worse.

    • …she could always have spent a chunk of her time in the anechoic chamber watching scorsese’s lesser known sleeper hit gangster movie “goncharov“, I suppose…but I’m a little disappointed she made it through that whole piece without a single mention of this?

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