…well…this sucks…it’s a weekend…a holiday weekend, even…but all I seem to have is wall-to-wall bad news…hell, I don’t even know where to start
The state of Arizona is preparing to kill death row inmates using hydrogen cyanide, the same lethal gas that was deployed at Auschwitz.
Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that Arizona’s department of corrections has spent more than $2,000 in procuring the ingredients to make cyanide gas. The department bought a solid brick of potassium cyanide in December for $1,530.
It also purchased sodium hydroxide pellets and sulfuric acid which are intended to be used to generate the deadly gas. The gas chamber itself, built in 1949 and disused for 22 years, has been dusted off and, according to the department, “refurbished”.Arizona ‘refurbishes’ its gas chamber to prepare for executions, documents reveal [Guardian]
…I know it’s sort of lazily reductive to say the MAGA-faithful are a bunch of modern day nazis…but…if the cap fits?
The question now is not so much whether the Republican party can be saved any time in the foreseeable future. It is what Joe Biden and the Democrats should do when faced with a party determined to subvert democracy through any means necessary, including violence.
It is a party that still has room for Matt Gaetz, a Florida congressman under investigation over sex trafficking allegations, who this week appeared to incite supporters to take up arms. “We have a second amendment in this country, and I think we have an obligation to use it,” he said.
Gaetz was speaking in Georgia on his “America First” tour alongside local congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who recently compared coronavirus mask mandates to the Holocaust. The pair of mini-Trumps are taking his playbook of attention-grabbing outrage to new extremes.
Bill Kristol, director of the Defending Democracy Together advocacy organisation, tweeted on Friday morning: “Marjorie Taylor Greene bragged yesterday that she and Matt Gaetz are taking over the GOP. Today Senate Republicans are set to block a January 6th commission that could make that somewhat more difficult. Violence and authoritarianism has enablers as well as instigators.”
One of America’s two major parties now falls outside the democratic mainstream – think “far right” in European terms.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/28/republicans-capitol-attack-commission-vote-analysis
…& it’s not like technology is about to provide us with the unvarnished truth
Despite years of investment, many of the automated systems built by social media companies to stop spam, disinformation and terrorism are still not sophisticated enough to detect the difference between desirable forms of expression and harmful ones. They often overcorrect, as in the most recent errors during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or they under-enforce, allowing harmful misinformation and violent and hateful language to proliferate, including hoaxes about coronavirus vaccines and violent posts ahead of the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.
The Palestinian situation erupted into a full-blown public relations and internal crisis for Facebook. Last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg dispatched the company’s top policy executive, Nick Clegg, to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leadership, according to the company. Meanwhile, Palestinians launched a campaign to knock down Facebook’s ranking in app stores by leaving one-star reviews. The incident was designated “severity 1” — the company’s term for a sitewide emergency, according to internal documents reviewed by The Washington Post and first reported by NBC. The documents noted that Facebook executives reached out to Apple, Google, and Microsoft to request that the posts be deleted.
Meanwhile, a group of 30 Facebook employees, some of whom said they had friends and family affected by the conflict, have complained of “over-enforcement” on the Palestinian content in an open letter on the company’s workforce messaging boards, according to another set of internal documents reviewed by The Post. The group has filed at least 80 tickets to report “false positives” with the company’s automation systems in relation to the conflict, noting many of the problems were with the AI mistakenly labeling images of protests as “harassment or bullying.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/28/facebook-palestinian-censorship/
…but it’s facebook…what could possibly go wrong?
Facebook has lifted a ban on posts claiming Covid-19 was man-made, following a resurgence of interest in the “lab leak” theory of the disease’s onset.
In February, Facebook explicitly banned the claim, as part of a broad policy update aimed at “removing more false claims about Covid-19 and vaccines”. In a public statement at the time, it said: “Following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), we are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines.”
Anyone posting claims that Covid-19 was “man-made or manufactured” could have seen their posts removed or restricted, and repeatedly sharing the allegation could have lead to a ban from the site entirely.
On Wednesday, the company said: “In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of Covid-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that Covid-19 is man-made from our apps. We’re continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge.”https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/may/27/facebook-lifts-ban-on-posts-claiming-covid-19-was-man-made
…china may not be entirely reliable but if the labworkers that got sick back in november tested negative for covid antibodies this whole back-to-the-lab narrative seems…not smart?
The claim that the coronavirus is man-made, long dismissed by the scientific community as a harmful conspiracy, has recently been reopened because of new findings. That includes news that three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care.
But the reopening of debate presents challenging issues for Facebook because the claim has also been associated with a wave of anti-Asian sentiment.Facebook’s reversal on banning claims that covid-19 is man-made could unleash more anti-Asian sentiment [WaPo]
…I dunno…I guess somehow I expected better from biden & co
Despite President Biden’s pledge to aggressively cut the pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change, his administration has quietly taken actions this month that will guarantee the drilling and burning of oil and gas for decades to come.Biden’s Fossil Fuel Moves Clash With Pledges on Climate Change [NYT]
…maybe not a lot better…but better than…well…this
Senate Democrats lined up alongside Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), one of their least-favorite Republicans, to support a measure urging the Biden administration to declassify intelligence on whether the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. A Democratic-led House subcommittee is pledging an investigation into the virus’s origins, including the lab’s safety record.
And President Biden, in an unusual public statement, directed U.S. intelligence agencies to “redouble their efforts” to determine the cause of the pandemic, suggesting that while the virus could have jumped from animals to humans, it also could have escaped from the lab.Renewed focus on Wuhan lab scrambles the politics of the pandemic [WaPo]
…it just seems like doing the GOP’s work for them…& they surely have enough of that to do as it is?
Republicans killed the effort to set up a 9/11-style inquiry into the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob despite broad popular support for such an investigation and pleas from the family of a Capitol police officer who collapsed and died after the siege and other officers who battled the rioters.
In a procedural vote in the Senate on Friday, six Republican senators broke ranks to back the commission, which was more than expected, but four fewer than the 10 needed to overcome a filibuster and for it to advance.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/28/senate-republicans-6-january-capitol-attack-commission
…of course you know when the non-bipartisan efforts to look into that shit do their thing the response is going to be…just as predictable
Lawyers for the Oath Keepers urged a federal judge Wednesday to toss out a lawsuit accusing the group, former president Donald Trump, lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and another far-right organization of inciting the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, calling its actions a form of peaceful political protest protected by the First Amendment.
Attorneys for Trump and Giuliani also filed motions asking the case to be dismissed, with the former president repeating the argument that he is immune from civil lawsuits over actions he took while in office.Trump, Giuliani, Oath Keepers ask judge to dismiss Capitol riot lawsuit [WaPo]
The group added that 11 House lawmakers led by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) had no right to file suit in their personal capacities or as individuals under the Ku Klux Klan Act — an 1871 law enacted after the Civil War to bar violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties — as opposed to a case brought by the whole House.
…same as it ever was & all that sort of thing…but then it seems like the dems have a serious friends-like-these problem…which isn’t any newer
For months, Democrats in Congress have remained united behind passing the For the People Act, legislation that would amount to the most sweeping protections for voting rights in a generation.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/27/democrats-voting-rights-joe-manchin
The senator getting in Democrats’ way is one of their own: Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, who has publicly signaled recently that he does not back the bill and wants bipartisan support for it. Manchin also does not favor getting rid of the filibuster, a procedural rule that requires 60 votes for legislation to advance in the Senate, making it nearly impossible for Democrats to pass this bill or any other without support from 10 Republicans. Even after six months of an unprecedented Republican effort to restrict voting rights across the country, Manchin still isn’t budging.
…while the side of the aisle that likes the guy who liked to remind everybody he was tight with vlad…they’re busy helping themselves every which way
If you want to see what it looks like when a party really uses its power, you have to turn your gaze to the state level, particularly in a few places where Republicans have firm control of state government despite enjoying only tenuous majorities of support among the voters.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Texas, where Republicans are right now engaged in a bacchanal of far-right legislating. Here’s some of what they’ve passed through one or both houses of the state legislature in recent days:
* A bill allowing anyone over 21 without a felony record to carry a handgun, with no permit, background check, or training required.
* A bill that bans abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.
* A “trigger” bill that would ban nearly all abortions, including those resulting from rape and incest, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
* A bill that would require a voter initiative if a city with over 1 million residents (of which there are four in Texas, all run by Democrats) tried to reduce its police budget by even a single dollar; another bill would financially punish any city of over 250,000 that reduced its police budget.
* A bill mandating that any school that is donated a sign reading “In God We Trust” must display it in “a conspicuous place in each building of the school.”
* A bill forcing pro sports teams to play the national anthem at every game.
* A bill aimed at banning schools from discussing critical race theory.
* A bill forbidding cities from banning the use of natural gas in new construction.
* A bill dictating how the state’s largest counties distribute their polling places, which would have the effect of reducing the number of polling places in many Democratic areas and increasing them in many Republican areas.
* One of the most aggressive voter suppression bills seen anywhere this year.
I believe in Texas they refer to that as “going hog-wild.”
It’s not just Texas, either — this combination of purely symbolic right-wing legislation (mandating the national anthem be played) and bills that could have powerful practical effects (voter suppression, encouraging further gun proliferation) is being repeated in state after state.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/26/gop-is-going-hog-wild-states-if-only-democrats-dc-did-same/
…although…when it comes to “just texas” apparently it isn’t enough to try & see to it that anyone can have a gun &/or sue anyone who might so much as look like they might provide any kind of assistance to someone seeking an abortion…nah…in texas apparently they’re so damn “pro-life” they think the thing to do is bring the fucking death penalty into it
Under HB 3326, a person who has an abortion or performs an abortion could be charged with assault or homicide, which is punishable by death, the Texas Tribune reported.
The legislation also directs the state’s attorney general to “direct a state agency to enforce those laws, regardless of any contrary federal statute, regulation, treaty, order, or court decision,” the newspaper reported.
The bill would also ban abortions at fertilization, whereas most abortions in Texas are prohibited after 20 weeks.GOP Texas lawmaker introduces bill to allow death penalty for women who have abortions [The Hill]
…so the last thing we need is them having more friends in “the right places”
Imagine how the 2020 election might have gone if, instead of principled Republican Brad Raffensperger running Georgia’s voting system, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist had been the state’s secretary of state, receiving calls from former president Donald Trump asking to find enough votes to overturn the results. Or if, as Mr. Trump pressured Michigan’s canvassers to refuse to certify President Biden’s win in that state, that state’s chief elections officer had helped drum up rather than tamp down the former president’s bogus fraud allegations.
These what-ifs might become the nation’s reality in 2024, with Republican election-deniers running for secretary of state in several swing states.Imagine 2020 in Georgia with an election-denier in charge. That could happen in 2024. [WaPo]
…& let’s be honest…that isn’t anywhere near the most out there theory doing the rounds…in fact it’s scarily realistic compared to this kind of shit
When we’re talking about 15 percent of Americans, we’re talking about nearly 50 million people, the populations of California and New Jersey combined. It’s a lot of people. And that, according to new research published by PRRI on Thursday, is the number of Americans who say they believe the most out-there components of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
PRRI’s findings come from a survey conducted with IFYC in which they asked people specifically about components of QAnon. For example, they presented this exact statement, which is often presented as the most extreme iteration of the conspiracy theory’s belief system:
“The government, media and financial world in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”
And it was with that, that specific belief, that 15 percent of respondents said they agreed.
On two other statements, similar levels of agreement emerged. When the pollsters asked if Americans agreed that “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders” — again, a theme in QAnon — 1-in-5 said they did. On a more alarming proposition, that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country,” the level of agreement was again 15 percent.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/27/new-data-bolsters-idea-that-far-right-media-ecosystem-is-conspiracy-theory-petri-dish/
…& call me a cynic
…but that shit don’t happen by accident
To claim that the mob at the Capitol didn’t almost entirely consist of fervent Trump supporters is to go to Green Bay in late November and wonder about the loyalties of all those people wearing hats shaped like hunks of cheese. They were there because of Trump, in support of Trump and sporting paraphernalia indicating allegiance to Trump. It was a Trump mob, and its failed goal was to keep Trump in office. Again, there is no serious question about any of this.
Yet most Republicans claim that somehow the political left is to blame.
The most recent data to that point is perhaps the most remarkable. A poll conducted by YouGov this month for Yahoo News asked respondents who bore blame for the events of that day. The question was asked about each of four people or groups: Trump, Trump supporters, Republicans who pushed the false claim that the election was stolen and left-wing protesters trying to impugn Trump.
More than half of Americans said that Trump, his supporters and the Republicans who backed Trump’s untrue assertions about the election bore at least some blame. Among Republicans, though, only about 4 in 10 blamed Trump supporters. Instead, nearly three-quarters suggested that some or most blame should be placed on those purported left-wing protesters.
About a month after the attack, for example, polling from the American Enterprise Institute found that half of Republicans identified antifa as “mostly responsible” for the riots.
So: why? What’s motivating this rejection of an obvious reality?What does it mean that Republicans keep blaming the left for Jan. 6? [WaPo]
…& nor does this shit
The state-backed Russian cyber spies behind the SolarWinds hacking campaign launched a targeted phishing assault on US and foreign government agencies and thinktanks this week using an email marketing account of the US Agency for International Development (USAid), Microsoft has said.
The effort targeted about 3,000 email accounts at more than 150 organisations, at least a quarter of them involved in international development, humanitarian and human rights work, the Microsoft vice-president Tom Burt wrote in a blogpost on Thursday.
Microsoft identified the attack’s perpetrators as Nobelium, a group originating in Russia that was also behind the attacks on SolarWinds customers in 2020.
Microsoft did not say what portion of the attempts may have led to successful intrusions, though Burt wrote that many attacks targeting the company’s customers were automatically blocked.
Burt said the campaign appeared to be a continuation of efforts by the Russian hackers to “target government agencies involved in foreign policy as part of intelligence-gathering efforts”. He said the targets spanned at least 24 countries, though US organisations represented the largest share of victims.
The hackers gained access to USAid’s account at Constant Contact, an email marketing service, Microsoft said. The authentic-looking phishing emails dated 25 May purported to contain new information on 2020 election fraud claims and included a link to malware that allowed the hackers to “achieve persistent access to compromised machines”.
Microsoft said in a separate blogpost that the campaign was ongoing and evolved out of several waves of spear-phishing campaigns it first detected in January that escalated to the mass mailings this week.https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/may/28/russian-solarwinds-hackers-launch-assault-government-agencies
…but…well…ask a stupid question
Onscreen and off, in ways subtle and overt, Fox News has adapted to the post-Trump era by moving in a single direction: Trumpward.Fox News Intensifies Its Pro-Trump Politics as Dissenters Depart [NYT]
Financially, the Murdochs’ formula has produced results: After a rare loss to archrivals CNN and MSNBC in January, Fox News’s ratings strength has recovered; the channel is again the Nielsen leader in cable news. In May, Fox News is on track to more than double CNN’s prime-time viewership.
Despite continuing criticism from liberals, Fox News remains a financial juggernaut for the Murdoch empire; it is expected to earn record advertising revenues this year, the network said.
…& when you fill the heads of impressionable people with malign influences…well…we know how that goes
A teen accused of killing a fellow student at his suburban Denver school in 2019 agreed to participate in the attack as long as it looked like he was pressured into participating and possibly emerged as a hero by killing the other student gunman, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday during the opening of his trial.
Chief Deputy District Attorney George Brauchler said their concocted “victim-hero” strategy unraveled after Kendrick Castillo rushed Devon Erickson when he pulled out a gun inside a darkened classroom as students watched a movie. Erickson’s gun went off, Castillo was killed and others tackled him, he said. Their other possible scenario, in which fellow gunman Alec McKinney killed himself, was stymied after an armed security guard apprehended him, Brauchler said.
However, Erickson’s lawyer tried to discredit that account and said he was manipulated into joining the attack by McKinney, a new friend who preyed on him during a family crisis and who was obsessed with a Florida teen described by authorities as “infatuated” with the 1999 Columbine shooting. Sol Pais, 18, traveled to Colorado, bought a gun and killed herself right before the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. About three weeks later, the May 7 shooting broke out at STEM School Highlands Ranch.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/colorado-school-shooter-was-manipulated-by-friend-attorney-says
…it’s not a pleasant sight…but sometimes it’s important to look the ugly shit in the face…whether it’s recent
The brutal treatment and death of Ronald Greene in police custody in Monroe, La., perfectly illustrates why our police departments can’t be reformed until our prosecutors’ offices are reformed.
Body-cam video can be a critical component of police reform, but only if it is used to hold police officers accountable for wrongdoing. And there is only one actor in a position to play that role. In the Greene case, the police say they gave their investigation materials to local prosecutors as early as August 2019. Those prosecutors apparently watched the video of Greene being brutalized and made the decision not to file a single criminal charge against any of the troopers.
[…]after the murder of George Floyd, journalists often asked how the Minneapolis Police Department could have employed an officer such as Derek Chauvin, who had been the subject of 18 previous complaints. The answer is that there is little accountability for police in the criminal legal system[…]
Incentives matter. Prosecutors are the most powerful entity in the criminal legal system because it doesn’t matter what cases police bring to them — they still decide whether to charge an individual with a crime. Because prosecutors represent the people, not the police and not any individual, they are supposed to focus on doing the right and just thing. Unfortunately, too many prosecutors simply want to “win” — i.e., get a conviction — and this often puts them in the position of trying to justify bad or even unlawful behavior by police.Ronald Greene’s death shows why police can’t be reformed until prosecutors are [WaPo]
…or not so recent
Just decades after slavery in the United States left Black Americans in an economic and societal deficit, one bright spot stood out in Tulsa, Oklahoma — its Greenwood District, known as the “Black Wall Street,” where Black business leaders, homeowners, and civic leaders thrived.
But 100 years ago, on May 31, 1921, and into the next day, a white mob destroyed that district, in what experts call the single-most horrific incident of racial terrorism since slavery.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/tulsa-race-massacre-100-years-later-why-it-happened-why-it-s-still-relevant-today
…or threatening to be recent
The Tulsa Race Massacre’s centennial commemorations in Oklahoma could draw racial violence and white supremacist groups, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned in a bulletin.
“We assess that upcoming commemoration events associated with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma probably are attractive targets for some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists to commit violence,” the department said, according to a memo obtained by NBC News.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/tulsa-race-massacre-events-could-be-targeted-white-supremacist-groups
…or…well…fucking literally dead & buried
A mass grave containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children has been discovered on the grounds of a former residential school in the interior of southern British Columbia.
The grim discovery at the former school near the town of Kamloops was announced late on Thursday by the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc people after the site was examined by a team using ground-penetrating radar.
Some of the remains belong to children as young as three years old, but the causes and timing of their deaths are not yet known. “At this time we have more questions than answers,” said [Rosanne] Casimir [chief of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc].
The Kamloops Indian residential school was established in 1890 under the leadership of the Roman Catholic church, and closed in 1978.
It was part of a cross-Canada network of residential schools created to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children by removing them from their homes and communities, and forbidding them from speaking their native languages or performing cultural practices. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse were rampant within these institutions, as was forced labour.
At least 150,000 children attended such schools in what a historic 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission described as a “culture of genocide” targeting Canada’s Indigenous people.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/28/canada-remains-indigenous-children-mass-graves
…thankfully the brain drain ought to be along in a little while & we can all try & think about something else…because otherwise I’d be feeling that much worse still on account of the guilt at having dumped all that all over your innocent weekend…I really did aim to go a different way…but…then I read the news?