Lazy Caturday Reads

winters-day-lucie-bilodeau

Winter’s Day, by Lucie Bilodeau

Happy Caturday!!

Late last night, after receiving widespread condemnation from the likes of the EU and the UN, Elon Musk restored the Twitter accounts of some of the journalists he had impulsively suspended on Thursday. Supposedly he did this based on an unscientific poll of Twitter users.

The Washington Post: Musk’s suspension of journalists on Twitter spurs U.S., international condemnation.

U.S. and international officials condemned Twitter and Elon Musk on Friday after the social media company abruptly suspended several U.S. journalists, expressing concern about retaliation and the potentially chilling effect on free speech.

The moves invited sharp rebuke from public officials at the European Commission and the United Nations, as well as criticism from a U.S. senator. Even some of Musk’s own supporters, who advocate a broad interpretation of free speech, appeared taken aback by the about turn….

Accounts that were suspended include @ElonJet, which tracks the location of Musk’s private plane through the use of publicly available data, as well as other accounts that track helicopter and plane locations. Twitter suspended the accounts of several journalists on Thursday night, including from The Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN.

Musk later accused the reporters of posting “basically assassination coordinates” for him and his family — although he provided no evidence that any of the journalists had done so.

Also on Friday, the account of Linette Lopez, a journalist who has written critically of Musk and Tesla, also appeared to be suspended. It was not immediately clear what had prompted the suspension….

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted in defense of the reporters Friday, saying Musk’s actions “are a fast track to Twitter becoming obsolete.”

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourová, whose brief includes the rule of law and disinformation, tweeted that the “arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying.”

“EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct,” she wrote. “@elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”

Late last night, Musk backed down. 

Matthew Murphy at The Daily Beast: Elon Musk Lifts Twitter Suspensions: ‘The People Have Spoken.’

Elon Musk has reinstated the accounts of the journalists he had suspended after claiming they had shared details about the location of his private jet.

The Twitter CEO launched a poll on the social media site on Thursday asking if the accounts of the journalists should be reinstated “now,” or in “7 days from now.”

Cat_Versus_Snow_FeaturedIn the early hours of Saturday morning he tweeted, “The people have spoken. Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now.”

More than 58 percent of the 3.8 million respondents voted for “now” in the poll….

Journalists including Insider columnist Linette Lopez, Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steven Herman of VOA, as well as Aaron Rupar, Tony Webster, and Keith Olbermann, all found their Twitter accounts suspended with no warning….

While the accounts of Harwell, O’Sullivan, Binder, Lee, Herman, Rupar, Webster, and Mac were all reinstated, those of Olbermann and Lopez still appeared to be suspended as of Saturday morning.

The ElonJet account that has been dedicated to tweeting the location of Musk’s private jet also remained suspended….

Twitter also targeted rival, Mastodon, by blocking users from adding their Mastodon username to their Twitter profile.

There’s quite a bit of news about January 6 investigations. First, the House select committee will be wrapping up its work next week. 

Luke Broadwater at The New York Times: Jan. 6 Panel Plans Vote on Referring Trump for Insurrection and Other Charges.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans on Monday to vote on issuing criminal referrals against former President Donald J. Trump for insurrection and at least two other charges, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it.

It had been widely expected the panel would recommend charges against Mr. Trump for obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the United States. The panel’s members had already argued in federal court that they believed it was likely that he committed those two felonies. But the addition of an accusation of insurrection was a new development.

The House impeached Mr. Trump last year for incitement of insurrection, and the members of the panel have long argued Mr. Trump was the central figure who fomented an insurrection against the United States as he sought to cling to power. Politico earlier reported that a charge of insurrection would be considered.

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By Vicky Mount

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Jan. 6 committee tasked with studying possible criminal referrals, was the lead impeachment manager against Mr. Trump on the count of incitement of insurrection.

Referrals against Mr. Trump, which the committee is slated to approve as part of its report, would not carry any legal weight or compel the Justice Department to take any action, but they would send a powerful signal that a congressional committee believes the former president committed certain crimes….

The committee also was set to consider whether to issue criminal and civil referrals for some of Mr. Trump’s top allies during a meeting scheduled for Monday as it prepares to release a voluminous report laying out its findings about the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Members also were expected to discuss the forthcoming report and recommendations for legislative changes.

Kyle Cheney of Politico reported yesterday that Judge Beryl Howell has ordered the unsealing of emails relevant to the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results: Judge unseals new details of contacts among Rep. Perry, Trump-connected attorneys.

A federal judge revealed Friday that earlier this year she granted Justice Department investigators access to emails between three Trump-connected attorneys and Rep. Scott Perry as part of the federal investigation into election subversion efforts by the former president and others.

At the request of DOJ, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell unsealed a June opinion in which she determined that 37 emails sent among Trump-era Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, his aide Ken Klukowski and conservative attorney John Eastman and Perry (R-Pa.) — another top Donald Trump ally who chairs the House Freedom Caucus — were not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Notably, Howell indicated in her opinion that investigators had prioritized accessing any emails sent to or from Perry’s account.

Howell also unsealed a second opinion, issued in September, in which she determined that 331 documents from Clark — whom Trump nearly installed as acting attorney general as part of his bid to seize a second term — were similarly not protected by attorney-client privilege.

cat-playing-snow-melts-heartsThe documents were largely versions of a potential autobiography Clark had outlined in mid-October 2021, writing that recounted a bizarre effort to have Trump install him as acting attorney general in order to get more traction to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. The outline included a description of a pivotal Jan. 3, 2021, meeting between Trump and senior DOJ officials where almost the entire top echelon of the department threatened to resign if the then-president put Clark in charge.

Clark’s legal team waded into the fight over the apparent book outline. But Howell seemed to disapprove of aspects of the approach Clark’s lawyers took to the document dispute, describing their strategy at one point as “throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.”

The information revealed in the opinions is the most significant insight yet into what prosecutors are doing with evidence they have obtained in their review of figures associated with Trump’s quest to remain in power despite losing reelection.

The House Ways and Means Committee is considering publicly releasing Trump’s tax returns next week.

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Tax Returns May Be Released After House Panel Meets Tuesday.

The House Ways and Means Committee scheduled a closed-door meeting for Tuesday at which lawmakers are likely to review former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and may vote to release some of them.

The committee obtained access to the returns last month when the Supreme Court removed the final obstacle after a yearslong fight against Mr. Trump. Democrats have little time left to act before they lose control of the House majority and the committee on Jan. 3.

The meeting notice sent to lawmakers Friday doesn’t specify what action the committee might take or which documents, reports or analysis, if any, it might make public. The panel has focused its efforts and its legal case on potential changes to the Internal Revenue Service program for annual audits of presidents, which is an agency policy not required by law.

Under the tax code, the Ways and Means Committee chairman—currently Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.)—has the authority to request anyone’s tax returns and records from the IRS. He can then review them, and so can agents he designates. The committee can consider them in a closed-door meeting and then vote to make those normally confidential records public as part of a report to the House.

Under the tax code, the committee has the authority, at its own discretion, to include otherwise confidential tax-return information in reports to the House, which are made public.

“God willing this is the final chapter in this saga,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.), a senior Ways and Means member who has been a persistent advocate for obtaining the returns.

Read more at the WSJ. I didn’t encounter a paywall when I clicked a link at Memeorandum.

6f738ef4146f17ce1e0a5e3475578bf2Shocking new charges have been filed against Edward Kelley, a January 6 defendant, according to Insider: A Capitol riot defendant has been hit with new criminal charges — and this time he’s accused of plotting to kill the law enforcement officials who investigated him.

A man already being investigated for his role in the January 6 riots has been hit with additional charges after being accused of planning to kill the law enforcement officers who investigated his case, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Friday.

Tennessee resident Edward Kelley, 33, allegedly obtained a list of law enforcement officials and discussed plans, starting December 3, to kill these officials with Austin Carter, 26, and a witness who eventually reported their activities to authorities, the complaint says. 

Kelley, who was one of the first people to enter the Capitol grounds on January 6, was previously charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, civil disorder, destruction of government property, and seven other charges for his role in the Capitol riot.

According to the complaint, a witness who was interviewed by the FBI said Kelley handed Carter an envelope with a document of the names, titles, and phone numbers of approximately 37 law enforcement officials who investigated him and were “present at arrest or home search” of Kelley on May 5, 2022. 

The witness then met with Kelley and Carter on December 3 at a park in Maryville, Tennessee, where Kelley discussed plans with both Carter and the witness. 

The witness said Kelley stated “with us being such a small group, we will mainly conduct recon missions and assassination missions,” with one of these missions being an attack on Federal agents. KellLaey also asked whether or not the witness owned firearms and said “we will do more long-distance things,” which the witness believed to be a reference to assassinations.

Read more at the link.

I’ll end with this interesting story by Dan Lamothe at The Washington Post: No alien life discovered on Earth, Pentagon says, but search deepens.

A new office at the Pentagon is scrutinizing hundreds of reports of unidentified objects in air, sea, space and beyond, senior U.S. defense officials said Friday, and while it has discovered no signs of alien life, the search is set to expand.

The issue has taken on increasing seriousness as a bipartisan group of lawmakers presses the Defense Department to investigate instances of unidentified phenomena and disclose publicly what they learn. Established in July, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office is evaluating recent reports and soon could evaluate accounts that date back decades, officials said.

Cat in snow, by Vicki Mount

Black cat in snow, by Vicky Mount

The Pentagon’s top intelligence official, Ronald Moultrie, told reporters during a news conference, the first to discuss the office and its ongoing work, that “At this time … we have nothing” to affirm the existence of space aliens.

The proliferation of drones, including those operated by foreign adversaries and amateur hobbyists, account for many of the reports, officials said.

“Some of these things almost collide with planes,” said Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the new office, who spoke to the media alongside Moultrie on Friday. “We see that on a regular basis.”

The U.S. government employs sophisticated sensors around the globe to collect data, and the office analyzes it for relevant information, they said, declining to elaborate.

While most of the reports the Pentagon investigates are about aerial objects, defense officials are increasingly concerned about unusual activity below the surface of the ocean, in space and on land. For that reason, the Pentagon now uses the term unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAP, rather than previous descriptions such as “unidentified flying object.”

Moultrie said that, “Unidentified phenomena in all domains …pose potential threats to personal security and operational security, and they deserve our urgent attention.”

Unidentified “trans-medium” objects, he said, is a class of phenomena that would jump between domains, like from the air to the sea. None has been documented yet, Moultrie noted.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?


14 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a great weekend, everyone!!

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Meanwhile, Mike Lindell, the pillow guy, was welcomed back to Twitter last night.

    • darthvelma says:

      And yet my account is still suspended. Twitter has always been and will continue to be a cesspit of misogyny.

      I don’t even want back on at this point. Twitter can die in a fire. It’s just the principle of the thing.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s awful. How long has it been suspended? Did you appeal?

        • darthvelma says:

          I have been suspended since September 2021. I appealed repeatedly.

          It’s almost a point of pride that Twitter thinks I’m more dangerous than Trump, MTG, or the MyPillow guy. 🙂

          • quixote says:

            Well, fercryinoutloud, you think women are human beings. Obviously you’re a bigger threat than all the Quasimodos shambling around trying to prop up the Old Order!

  4. quixote says:

    The cat pic of the stodgy one with a mouse (rat?) on a leash — love it! (By Park? Can’t quite read the sig.)

    • bostonboomer says:

      I couldn’t find anything about it. It says P.A.R.K. I tried Googling but couldn’t find anything.

  5. quixote says:

    Isn’t whether or not bigwigs are or are not allowed back on Twitter not really the point anymore?

    What’s been proven to the point of being written in glowing lava is that a private company can be taken over by a jerk and we have no regulations to give us any recourse. That is _never_ going to end well.

    I understand that people don’t want to abandon years of work and networks, but at this point it’s just chasing after sunk costs. Cut losses and start a new life elsewhere. I’m a big fan of open source (=mastodon in this case), but open source can have its own problematic endpoints. Mainly that the whole thing is often carried by a few dedicated enthusiasts, sometimes not even paid, (remember the ssh fiasco a couple of years ago?) and once they’ve had it, the whole thing disappears. So there are no guarantees. But one thing that is guaranteed is that the birdsite in the grip of the Muskrat is not it.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Capitol rioter slams Trump: ‘I can’t believe I’m going to jail for an NFT salesman’
    Far-right troll Tim Gionet, better known by his online persona Baked Alaska, is having regrets

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-jan-6-capitol-riots-baked-alaska-b2246654.html

    A Capitol rioter and far-right social media troll who is facing prison over the January 6 insurrection is suddenly having regrets about supporting Donald Trump.

    After the former president revealed his digital trading card collection on Thursday, Tim Gionet, better known as his online persona Baked Alaska, wrote on Twitter: “I can’t believe I’m going to jail for an NFT salesman”.

    Mr Gionet became a high-profile Trump supporter during the 2016 presidential election and was banned from Twitter in 2017 after repeatedly posting anti-semitic and white nationalist content.

    The poor little guy is subject to up to six entire months in jail!! Where’s my world’s smallest violin for all those small dicks!

  7. dakinikat says:

    Also, twitter is like stalling a lot today. It’s slow to load and freezes. Is the End Near?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m seeing glitches on Mastodon too. Maybe it’s growing too fast. As for glitches on Twitter, that is what experts predicted–that there would be small problems building up over time, not a sudden crash.