Posted: April 14, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: biological males in women's prisons, Diane Feinstein, Elderly U.S. lawmakers, Elon Musk, January 6 Committee, police killings, Putin's war on Ukraine, Twitter
Peach Trees in Blossom, by Vincent Van Gogh
There are some unusual stories in the news today. Suddenly the advanced age of many U.S. lawmakers may finally be a subject for public debate. Elon Musk is trying to buy Twitter after declining to join the board because of a background check. It seems that there are quite a few biological males being housed in women’s prisons, and now two woman inmates in New Jersey are pregnant. Another killing of a Black man by police is in the the news. And of course Putin’s war on Ukraine continues as does the January 6 Committee investigation.
The San Francisco Chronicle has a disturbing article about Diane Feinstein: Colleagues worry Dianne Feinstein is now mentally unfit to serve, citing recent interactions.
When a California Democrat in Congress recently engaged in an extended conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, they prepared for a rigorous policy discussion like those they’d had with her many times over the last 15 years.
Instead, the lawmaker said, they had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours.
Rather than delve into policy, Feinstein, 88, repeated the same small-talk questions, like asking the lawmaker what mattered to voters in their district, they said, with no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation.
The episode was so unnerving that the lawmaker — who spoke to The Chronicle on condition they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic — began raising concerns with colleagues to see if some kind of intervention to persuade Feinstein to retire was possible. Feinstein’s term runs through the end of 2024. The conversation occurred several weeks before the death of her husband in February.
“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” the lawmaker said. “She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.”
Four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress told The Chronicle in recent interviews that her memory is rapidly deteriorating. They said it appears she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work required to represent the nearly 40 million people of California….
Adding urgency to the recent concerns: If Democrats retain control of the Senate next year, Feinstein will succeed retiring Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy as the Senate’s president pro tem — putting her third in line for the presidency. Feinstein has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission that would allow her to run in 2024, a formality that lets her keep her fundraising accounts active, though she has not yet declared whether she intends to run.
Emphasis added. Read more details at the link.
Early Spring, by Gustav Klimt
Now can we ask questions about Chuck Grassley, James Inhofe, and Richard Shelby? It’s not just age that is the problem though. Nancy Pelosi at 82 still seems sharp. Patrick Leahy is also 82, and he has decided to retire. I think this is an important topic for public discussion. Should there be an age limit for members of Congress?
Bloomberg on the Musk offer to buy Twitter: Elon Musk Makes $43 Billion Unsolicited Bid to Take Twitter Private.
Elon Musk has made a controversial offer to buy Twitter Inc., saying the company has extraordinary potential and he is the person to unlock it.
The world’s richest person will offer $54.20 per share in cash, valuing Twitter at about $43 billion. The social media company’s shares rose just 5.3% to $48.27 at the market open in New York as investors began to assess how one of the platform’s most outspoken users will succeed in his takeover attempt.
Musk, 50, announced the potential deal in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, after turning down a potential board seat at the company. The billionaire, who also controls Tesla Inc., first disclosed a stake of about 9% on April 4. Tesla shares fell about 1.8% on the news.
Twitter said that its board would review the proposal and any response would be in the best interests of “all Twitter stockholders.”
The bid is the most high-stakes clash yet between Musk and the social media platform. The executive is one of Twitter’s most-watched firebrands, often tweeting out memes and taunts to @elonmusk’s more than 80 million followers. He has been vociferous about changes he’d like to consider imposing at the social media platform…
Here’s The Daily Beast take by Allison Quinn: Top Shitposter Elon Musk Escalates Twitter Feud With $43B Takeover Bid.
“I am not playing the back-and-forth game. I have moved straight to the end. It’s a high price and your shareholders will love it,” Musk is said to have told the social media giant, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
Musk, whose fortune is estimated at about $260 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, said Twitter “needs to be transformed as a private company,” and vowed to “unlock” its “extraordinary potential” if the bid is successful.
“If the deal doesn’t work, given that I don’t have confidence in management nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” he said in the filing….
The move comes after the Tesla CEO disclosed a stake of about 9 percent in Twitter last week. That disclosure is reportedly already at the center of a lawsuit filed this week by another Twitter shareholder who alleges Musk made “materially false and misleading statements and omissions by failing to disclose to investors” that he owned a stake in the company.
His delay in disclosing the stake, the lawsuit claims, led to “artificially deflated prices.”
With more than 80 million followers on the platform, Musk has sparked speculation in recent weeks with frequent tweets calling for drastic changes in the company and questioning whether it is really a “free speech” site. Earlier this week, he floated the idea of turning Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter, calling it a “great idea.”
Musk, who last week took to the platform to ask, “Is Twitter dying?” wrote in the filing that he believes it can “neither thrive nor serve” its purpose of promoting free speech if it remains as it is now.
About that New Jersey “women’s” prison from Yahoo News: NJ inmates at women’s only prison pregnant after sex with ‘another incarcerated person.’
Two inmates at New Jersey’s only women’s prison are pregnant after reportedly having sex with a transgender inmate.
It appears the women became pregnant from “consensual sexual relationships with another incarcerated person,” Dan Sperrazza, the Department of Corrections’s external affairs executive director, told NJ.com.
The prisoners are held at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, which has faced a long string of sex assault scandals….
There are 27 inmates who identify as transgender currently housed at the facility, according to NJ.com. New Jersey’s policy does not require trans women inmates to undergo gender-reassignment surgery to be held in the facility.
“While DOC cannot comment on any specific disciplinary or housing decisions that may be considered in light of these events, the Department always reserves all options to ensure the health and safety of the individuals in its custody,” Sperrazza told the Daily Mail.
Two Edna Mahan prisoners filed a lawsuit last year seeking to end New Jersey’s gender identity policy for prisons, claiming they were harassed by trans inmates and that transgender inmates were having sex with female prisoners.
ACLU legal director Jeanne LoCicero defended the policy of allowing transgender inmates in a women’s prison as one that protects the rights of transgender women.
Apparently the rights of women (“people with vaginas”) are secondary, as usual.
The vegetable garden with trees in blossom Spring Pontoise, 1877, by Camille Pissarro
Another killing of a Black man by police has been revealed in Michigan. Detroit Free Press: Grand Rapids police release video of officer fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya.
A Black man facedown on the ground was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids police officer, the violent climax of a traffic stop, brief foot chase and struggle over a stun gun, according to videos of the April 4 incident released Wednesday.
The release by Grand Rapids police sparked renewed protests and calls for justice Wednesday, and state officials promised a full investigation.
It comes in the wake of other police-involved shootings in Grand Rapids.
The video released Wednesday includes footage from the unnamed officer’s body camera, which was deactivated shortly after the officer told the suspect, 26-year-old Congolese refugee Patrick Lyoya, to “let go of the Taser.”
The video, a collection of dashcam footage, body cam footage, a home security camera, and a cellphone video, shows the unnamed officer pulling over Lyoya and a passenger for a “license plate that doesn’t match the car.”
Was the deactivation of the body cam deliberate?
Lyoya gets out of the car, and the officer gets out and tells him to get back in the car. The officer asks for his driver’s license and then asks whether Lyoya speaks English.
Lyoya then appears to run around the car, and the officer chases and tackles him to the ground on the front lawn of a house.
They struggle, and the officer can be heard telling Lyoya to “stop” and to “let go of the Taser.”
After about 90 seconds, the officer is lying on top of Lyoya, who is facedown on the ground. The officer, still yelling for Lyoya to “let go of the Taser,” proceeds to shoot him.
Lyoya was shot in the head, police Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed.
A traffic stop should not be a death sentence. Driving without a license shouldn’t lead to death either.
Updates on Putin’s war:
Reuters: Russia warns of nuclear, hypersonic deployment if Sweden and Finland join NATO.
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the U.S.-led military alliance then Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in an exclave in the heart of Europe.
Bluebonnets and Mesquite, Early Spring, by Texas artist Julian-Onderdonk
Finland, which shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden are considering joining the NATO alliance. Finland will decide in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said that should Sweden and Finland join NATO then Russia would have to strengthen its land, naval and air forces in the Baltic Sea.
Medvedev also explicitly raised the nuclear threat by saying that there could be no more talk of a “nuclear free” Baltic – where Russia has its Kaliningrad exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania….
Medvedev said he hoped Finland and Sweden would see sense. If not, he said, they would have to live with nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles close to home.
NBC News: Russia evacuates flagship after it suffers major damage in Black Sea blast.
Ukrainian officials said their forces launched a successful missile attack on the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, forcing the crew to evacuate the vessel.
The Russian defense ministry said the Moskva warship had been “seriously damaged,” but blamed the incident on a fire. NBC News has been unable to verify what happened on the ship, but its loss could prove a significant setback in Russian forces’ efforts in Ukraine’s south and east, where a fierce battle for Mariupol is ongoing….
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the damaged Russian flagship is the same one that infamously demanded the surrender of Ukrainian forces on Snake Island early in the invasion.
January 6 investigation updates:
The January 6 Committee heard from Trump WH lawyers Pat A. Cipollone, the former White House counsel, and his deputy Patrick F. Philbin, yesterday; today they will question Dr. Evil, Stephen Miller: AP sources: Trump aide Stephen Miller to speak to 1/6 panel.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Miller, who served as a top aide to President Donald Trump, will appear Thursday before the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Miller was a senior adviser for policy during the Trump administration and a central figure in many of the Republican’s policy decisions. He had resisted previous efforts by the committee, filing a lawsuit last month seeking to quash a committee subpoena for his phone records.
The people familiar with the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private testimony. It’s unclear whether Miller will appear in person or virtually. A spokesperson for the committee said the panel had no comment, and Miller did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Dans la prairie, Claude Monet
The Washington Post: Biden White House waives executive privilege for more Trump records.
President Biden has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to hand over a new tranche of Trump White House documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
In a letter released Wednesday by the archives, Biden declined to assert executive privilege over the records — the latest batch sought by the committee after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s bid to block such releases.
The new letter is in line with the Biden administration’s decision to err on the side of disclosure, given the gravity of the events in the Jan. 6 attack. The archives has already turned over hundreds of pages of documents to the committee.
“As to the remaining prioritized records, President Biden has considered the former President’s claims, and I have engaged in consultations with the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice,” White House counsel Dana Remus writes. “The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified.”
That’s what’s happening in the news today, as I see it. What about you? What stories have caught your attention?