I’m getting a very slow start this morning. It feels like everything is kind of awful today, as it often is lately. The politics news is bad enough, but sadly there’s been another mass shooting and the perpetrator is still at large. Not surprisingly, it’s in Texas, and of course the weapon was an AR-15.
Five people are dead after being shot in a Texas home by a suspect armed with an AR-15 style rifle in a horrific series of “execution style” shootings, police said.
A manhunt is currently underway for the suspect, identified by police as 39-year-old Francisco Oropeza, according to ABC station KTRK in Houston.
A judge has issued an arrest warrant for Oropeza and assigned a $5 million bond. Authorities believe Oropeza left by walking or on a bicycle and is currently within a two mile radius of the scene, KTRK reported.
Police said the incident occurred at 11:31 p.m. local time on Friday when officials from the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office received a call about harassment in the town of Cleveland, about 55 miles north of Houston.
When authorities arrived at the location, they found several victims shot at the property, police said. Three of the deceased were females and two were males, including the youngest, an 8-year-old boy.
Two female victims were discovered in the bedroom lying on top of two surviving children, authorities told ABC News.
Three minors were located uninjured, but covered in blood. They were transported to a local hospital.
Police said they believe the massacre occurred after neighbors asked the suspect to stop shooting his gun in the front yard because there was a baby trying to sleep.
“My understanding is that the victims, they came over to the fence and said ‘Hey could [you not do your] shooting out in the yard? We have a young baby that’s trying to go to sleep,” and he had been drinking and he says ‘I’ll do what I want to in my front yard,'” San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told KTRK.
WTF?! I’m at a complete loss for words. There’s more insanity at the link.
Yesterday we got more shocking news about our out-of-control Supreme Court.
Justice Samuel Alito was supposed to speak to law students at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., but when they showed up, he wasn’t there….
It wasn’t a lingering fear of Covid-19. In a mid-April interview in his chambers, Justice Alito fills us in on the May 12, 2022, event: “Our police conferred with the George Mason Police and the Arlington Police and they said, ‘It’s not a good idea. He shouldn’t come here. . . . The security problems will be severe.’ So I ended up giving the speech by Zoom,” he says. “Still, there were so many protesters and they were so loud that you could hear them.”
By now a noisy mob of law students may sound like any other school day, but last May also was a tumultuous time for the court. The preceding week, someone had leaked a draft of Justice Alito’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a landmark abortion case that wouldn’t be decided until late June….
He now says that the leak “created an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. We worked through it, and last year we got our work done. This year, I think, we’re trying to get back to normal operations as much as we can. . . . But it was damaging.”
It was damaging for millions of American women and for doctors too, but Sammy is oblivious to that. Alito also believes he knows who the leaker is.
“I personally have a pretty good idea who is responsible, but that’s different from the level of proof that is needed to name somebody,” he says. He’s certain about the motive: “It was a part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft . . . from becoming the decision of the court. And that’s how it was used for those six weeks by people on the outside—as part of the campaign to try to intimidate the court.”
That campaign included unlawful assemblies outside justices’ homes, and that wasn’t the worst of it. “Those of us who were thought to be in the majority, thought to have approved my draft opinion, were really targets of assassination,” Justice Alito says. “It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us.” On June 8, an armed man was arrested outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh; the suspect was later charged with attempted assassination and has pleaded not guilty.
This man is delusional. No one suggested preventing the decision by murdering one of the justices. People peacefully demonstrated outside their homes. One crazy guy showed up outside Kavanaugh’s house and then turned himself into to police without doing anything.
He adds that “I don’t feel physically unsafe, because we now have a lot of protection.” He is “driven around in basically a tank, and I’m not really supposed to go anyplace by myself without the tank and my members of the police force.” Deputy U.S. marshals guard the justices’ homes 24/7. (The U.S. Marshals Service, a bureau of the Justice Department, is distinct from the marshal of the court, who reports to the justices and oversees the Supreme Court Police.)
He’s a lot safer than women who are refused care after miscarriages until they are at death’s door, but Sammy couldn’t care less about them. He is also ignorant of the history of protests against Supreme Court justices.
If Alito read a little history about the Court, he’d learn this is not in fact new.
After the Brown decision, “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards appeared across the South.
After the Court struck down New Deal agricultural supports, farmers in Iowa hanged six justices in effigy. pic.twitter.com/58krAr1zUx
Two years after John Roberts’ confirmation as the Supreme Court’s chief justice in 2005, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, made a pivot. After a long and distinguished career as a lawyer, she refashioned herself as a legal recruiter, a matchmaker who pairs job-hunting lawyers up with corporations and firms.
Roberts told a friend that the change was motivated by a desire to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, given that her husband was now the highest-ranking judge in the country. “There are many paths to the good life,” she said. “There are so many things to do if you’re open to change and opportunity.”
And life was indeed good for the Robertses, at least for the years 2007 to 2014. During that eight-year stretch, according to internal records from her employer, Jane Roberts generated a whopping $10.3 million in commissions, paid out by corporations and law firms for placing high-dollar lawyers with them.
That eye-popping figure comes from records in a whistleblower complaint filed by a disgruntled former colleague of Roberts, who says that as the spouse of the most powerful judge in the United States, the income she earns from law firms who practice before the Court should be subject to public scrutiny.
“When I found out that the spouse of the chief justice was soliciting business from law firms, I knew immediately that it was wrong,” the whistleblower, Kendal B. Price, who worked alongside Jane Roberts at the legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, told Insider in an interview. “During the time I was there, I was discouraged from ever raising the issue. And I realized that even the law firms who were Jane’s clients had nowhere to go. They were being asked by the spouse of the chief justice for business worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there was no one to complain to. Most of these firms were likely appearing or seeking to appear before the Supreme Court. It’s natural that they’d do anything they felt was necessary to be competitive.”
Roberts’ apparent $10.3 million in compensation puts her toward the top of the payscale for legal headhunters. Price’s disclosures, which were filed under federal whistleblower-protection laws and are now in the hands of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, add to the mounting questions about how Supreme Court justices and their families financially benefit from their special status, an area that Senate Democrats are vowing to investigate after a series of disclosure lapses by the justices themselves.
No wonder Roberts is resisting any serious ethics rules for his powerful court. Unfortunately he’s not alone. Even the liberal justices don’t want ethics rules. The three branches of government are supposed to be equal, but the Supremes are behaving as if their branch is more equal than the other two.
All nine justices, in a rare step, on Tuesday released a joint statement reaffirming their voluntary adherence to a general code of conduct but rebutting proposals for independent oversight, mandatory compliance with ethics rules and greater transparency in cases of recusal.
The implication, though not expressly stated, is that the court unanimously rejects legislation proposed by Democrats seeking to impose on the justices the same ethics obligations applied to all other federal judges.
It appears to be the first time an entire court has publicly explained its approach to ethics issues and attested to specific parts of federal law governing their conduct.
The justices’ statement, appended to a letter from Chief Justice John Roberts to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., appears squarely aimed at answering critics’ concerns and demands from some for outside oversight.
“Without a formal code of conduct, without a way to receive ethics complaints and without a way to investigate them, the Supreme Court has set itself apart from all other federal institutions,” said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, a left-leaning judicial watchdog group that has been lobbying Congress to mandate a high court code.
Durbin said Thursday in a statement that the justices’ explanation of their approach to ethics “raises more questions than it resolves.”
“Make no mistake,” he said, “Supreme Court ethics reform must happen whether the Court participates in the process or not.”
As they investigate former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, federal prosecutors have also been drilling down on whether Mr. Trump and a range of political aides knew that he had lost the race but still raised money off claims that they were fighting widespread fraud in the vote results, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Led by the special counsel Jack Smith, prosecutors are trying to determine whether Mr. Trump and his aides violated federal wire fraud statutes as they raised as much as $250 million through a political action committee by saying they needed the money to fight to reverse election fraud even though they had been told repeatedly that there was no evidence to back up those fraud claims.
The prosecutors are looking at the inner workings of the committee, Save America PAC, and at the Trump campaign’s efforts to prove its baseless case that Mr. Trump had been cheated out of victory.
In the past several months, prosecutors have issued multiple batches of subpoenas in a wide-ranging effort to understand Save America, which was set up shortly after the election as Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising entity. An initial round of subpoenas, which started going out before Mr. Trump declared his candidacy in the 2024 race and Mr. Smith was appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in November, focused on various Republican officials and vendors that had received payments from Save America.
But more recently, investigators have homed in on the activities of a joint fund-raising committee made up of staff members from the 2020 Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, among others. Some of the subpoenas have sought documents from around Election Day 2020 up the present.
Prosecutors have been heavily focused on details of the campaign’s finances, spending and fund-raising, such as who was approving email solicitations that were blasted out to lists of possible small donors and what they knew about the truth of the fraud claims, according to the people familiar with their work. All three areas overlap, and could inform prosecutors’ thinking about whether to proceed with charges in an investigation in which witnesses are still being interviewed.
On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump’s lawyers sent a desperate, 10-page letter to Rep. Mike Turner, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. The punch line comes in its conclusion: “DOJ should be ordered to stand down” in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case against Trump for obstructing justice in his 18 months of stonewalling the return of classified documents improperly held at Mar-a-Lago.
Of course, Congress has no such power. Ironically, the letter achieved something completely unintended. It effectively confirmed that Trump has no viable defense against the likely Justice Department charges for Trump’s obstruction.
The letter also revealed for the first time that the classified documents recovered in the August 7, court-approved search of Trump’s country club home may include briefings of foreign leaders.
It’s hard to know what Trump was trying to achieve beyond “spin.” No crimes to see here, the letter lamely contends.
His lawyers assert that Trump didn’t knowingly possess or retain top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago. His aides were just sloppy, the letter says, in the rushed process of leaving the White House, and Trump didn’t even know the classified documents were there. Even Vice Presidents Mike Pence and Joe Biden inadvertently took classified documents after their time in office.
If these contentions are a preview of Trump’s defenses to an indictment from Smith’s grand jury, Jack Smith can rest easy. The arguments are so abysmally weak that they leave any knowledgeable observer with a simple inference: Trump and his lawyers know an indictment is coming soon and there’s nothing they can do about it but offer smoke and mirrors.
Like asking Congressman Turner to investigate the need for legislation to address the lack of controls on classified documents that elected officials unintentionally take when leaving public service. Here’s the problem for the former president and his letter: Jack Smith has mountains of evidence that contradict Trump’s claim that his improper possession and retention of those classified documents was inadvertent.
The United States is wiring Ukraine with sensors that can detect bursts of radiation from a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb and can confirm the identity of the attacker.
In part, the goal is to make sure that if Russia detonates a radioactive weapon on Ukrainian soil, its atomic signature and Moscow’s culpability could be verified.
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine 14 months ago, experts have worried about whether President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would use nuclear arms in combat for the first time since the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The preparations, mentioned last month in a House hearing and detailed Wednesday by the National Nuclear Security Administration, a federal agency that is part of the Energy Department, seem to constitute the hardest evidence to date that Washington is taking concrete steps to prepare for the worst possible outcomes of the invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s second largest nation.
The Nuclear Emergency Support Team, or NEST, a shadowy unit of atomic experts run by the security agency, is working with Ukraine to deploy the radiation sensors, train personnel, monitor data and warn of deadly radiation.
In a statement sent to The New York Times in response to a reporter’s question, the agency said the network of atomic sensors was being deployed “throughout the region” and would have the ability “to characterize the size, location and effects of any nuclear explosion.” Additionally, it said the deployed sensors would deny Russia “any opportunity to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine without attribution.”
Read more details at the NYT.
I’m going to end there. What else is happening? What stories have captured your interest today?
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Sadly, we’ve learned to expect mass shootings on a regular basis in this country. Americans are no longer safe from gunfire in schools, supermarkets, malls, movie theaters, music festivals, churches, mosques, and temples.
Over the past few days, we’ve learned that it can be dangerous to make mistakes like knocking on the wrong door, turning into the wrong driveway, opening the door of a that you mistook for your own, or even accidentally letting the ball you and your child are playing with roll into a neighbor’s yard.
Will this nightmare ever end? It sure doesn’t look that way.
Hundreds of miles apart, the two men stood in courtrooms, accused of shooting at someone who had made a wrong turn.
In a courthouse in Fort Edward, N.Y., Kevin Monahan, 65, was denied bail on Wednesday in a case where prosecutors say he fatally shot Kaylin Gillis, 20, after she and a group of friends mistakenly drove up his driveway while looking for another friend’s house.
In a small courtroom in Liberty, Mo., Andrew D. Lester, 84, carried a cane as he pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in the shooting of Ralph Yarl, 16, who had come to Mr. Lester’s door mistakenly thinking it was the address where his younger siblings were waiting to be picked up.
The two shootings were among recent cases involving gun attacks on individuals who were simply lost, or had seemingly made a minor misstep during an everyday task. On Tuesday, in Elgin, Texas, two teenage cheerleaders were shot just after midnight after apparently trying to get into the wrong car in a supermarket parking lot. The police said Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, was charged with deadly conduct, a felony.
Lester told authorities that he was “scared to death” when he saw Yarl outside his door. (Yarl is black and Lester is white).
Monahan’s lawyer claimed that Monahan saw “several vehicles speeding up his driveway.” The lawyer also said that Monahan “feels terrible that someone lost their life.” Right. He feels so terrible that police only arrested him after a “standoff.” See this story at the New York Post.
Back to the NYT article:
Neighbors said that Mr. Monahan, a self-employed builder and longtime resident whose home sits on about 40 mostly wooded acres, had a reputation as a sometimes surly character who loved dirt bikes and largely kept to himself….
Adam Matthews, who lives next to Mr. Monahan and has known him for decades, said his neighbor could be aggressive and intimidating. “He was a difficult guy,” Mr. Matthews recalled, adding he was “known to have altercations with people.”
Édouard Manet, Tama, the Japanese Dog (circa 1875).
He added that Mr. Monahan was “always concerned with trespassing” and that the wide opening of his driveway resembled a road to some drivers. At one point, he said, Mr. Monahan had draped a chain across the mouth of his driveway, though the chain was no longer there last weekend….
Mr. Lester lives in a modest beige house outfitted with surveillance cameras, though city data shows there is relatively little crime in his quiet neighborhood near the northern edge of Kansas City. Neighbors said that his wife was recently moved to a nursing home, leaving him alone in his house. He spent considerable time at home in a living room chair, watching conservative news programs at high volume, a relative said….
Klint Ludwig, a grandson, said in an interview that he and his grandfather used to be close. The two had become estranged in part, Mr. Ludwig said, because Mr. Lester had embraced right-wing conspiracy theories.
Mr. Lester used to tell his grandson about serving in the military decades ago, and recount stories of working as a mechanic in the airline industry. They celebrated holidays together with extended family who lived in the Kansas City area. Mr. Ludwig, who described himself as left wing, said that Mr. Lester kept a large number of firearms in his home, including rifles and handguns.
But at a family gathering during the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Ludwig said, Mr. Lester began sharing a conspiracy theory involving Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the infectious disease expert.
“I was like, ‘Man, this sounds crazy,’” recalled Mr. Ludwig, 28. “I told him it was ridiculous.”
The two have not had a relationship since, Mr. Ludwig said.
Lester’s former wife of 14 years told the NYT that their marriage was “troubled,” and that he was violent. “I was always scared of him,” she said.
I saw the grandson on CNN this morning, and he said that Lester watches Fox News all day long.
A grandson of the man charged with shooting a Black teen in Kansas City’s Northland last week said he was “appalled” and “disgusted” at his grandfather’s actions and is thankful Ralph Yarl is recovering.
“I was horrified. I thought it was terrible,” Klint Ludwig said of his immediate reaction to hearing about the shooting of the 16-year-old. “It was inexcusable. It was wrong.
Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Evening (1939).
“I stand with Ralph, and really want his family to achieve justice for what happened to them. Their child or grandchild or nephew’s life was fundamentally changed forever, over a mistake and someone being scared and fearful.” [….]
Ludwig, who lives in the Kansas City area, told The Star on Wednesday that he also was disgusted at the way authorities handled the case.
He was critical of the way both police and the Clay County prosecutor conducted the initial investigation, releasing Lester and not charging him after he was first brought in. “The only reason why he is now receiving charges and an investigation is being held was because of community outreach to bring attention to this,” Ludwig said. “The response has been great. It’s been amazing to see this solidarity and coming together as a community.”
On the Fox News connection, Ludwig said he used to be close to his grandfather.
“But in the last five or six years or so, I feel like we’ve lost touch,” he said. “I’ve gotten older and gained my own political views, and he’s become staunchly right-wing, further down the right-wing rabbit hole as far as doing the election-denying conspiracy stuff and COVID conspiracies and disinformation, fully buying into the Fox News, OAN kind of line. I feel like it’s really further radicalized him in a lot of ways.”
Ludwig said his grandfather had been immersed in “a 24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia.”
“And then the NRA pushing the ‘stand your ground’ stuff and that you have to defend your home,” he said. “When I heard what happened, I was appalled and shocked that it transpired, but I didn’t disbelieve that it was true. The second I heard it, I was like, ‘Yeah, I could see him doing that.’”
Two Texas cheerleaders were shot, and one of them critically injured, early Tuesday after one girl mistakenly got into the wrong car in a grocery store parking lot, she said.
The Elgin, Tex., shooting is the third headline-making incident in less than a week in which someone was shot while approaching a person they apparently did not know.
Edvard Munch, St. Bernard Dog
Elgin police responded to reports of gunshots outside an H-E-B supermarket at 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said in a news release. They arrested and charged Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony, in what they called “an altercation … in the parking lot of HEB” in which “multiple shots were fired into a vehicle.”
One of the victims was identified by a coach as Payton Washington, an 18-year-old high school senior and cheerleader for the Round Rock Independent School District, near Austin. Washington “sustained serious injuries” when she was shot in the back and one leg, police said. She was transported to a hospital by helicopter and is in critical condition, they said. A GoFundMe for Washington says she is “stable in the ICU and will have a long road to recovery.”
The other cheerleader struck by gunfire, Heather Roth, suffered a graze wound on one of her legs and was released from the scene of the shooting, authorities said.
At a Tuesday night vigil shared to Instagram Live, Roth said she and three other cheerleaders with Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. had just completed their Monday night practice when they arrived at the H-E-B parking lot, which their carpool used. When Roth got into a car she thought was a friend’s, she realized that a man was in the passenger seat and quickly got out, she said. After Roth got into her friend’s car, she said, she saw Rodriguez approach and rolled down her window to apologize….
“He pulled out a gun, and then he just started shooting at all of us,” Roth said, according to KHOU, an CBS affiliate in Houston. She added, “Payton opens the door, and she starts throwing up blood.”
A manhunt is underway near Charlotte, North Carolina, for a man who reportedly shot and seriously wounded his 6-year-old neighbor and her dad when a basketball rolled into his yard.
Robert Louis Singletary, 24, should be considered armed and dangerous, Gaston County Police said. He’s 6-foot-2 and about 223 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.
Two-poodles,1891, by Pierre Bonnard
The shooting began after kids had been “playing basketball, and a ball had rolled down that way and had rolled into the yard and they went to go get it,” neighbor Jonathan Robertson told CNN affiliate WBTV.
“We never expected anybody would break a gun out amongst all those kids,” he said. “I mean that was insane.”
The 6-year-old girl said she was shot in the cheek and described to WBTV her understanding of what happened.
“I couldn’t get inside in time so he shot my daddy in the back,” she said.
The shootings reflect the consequences of a country with more civilian guns than people, according to the Small Arms Survey, and the toxic stew of fear, paranoia and distrust that influences so many and leads to violence.
William White, the father of the child is in the hospital with “serious injuries.”
I suppose these types of shootings have happened in the past, but now they are being highlighted because four of them happened in over a brief time period. Mass shootings are seem to be happening more frequently too.
The number of mass shootings in the United States on Saturday was higher than on any other day so far in 2023, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks US gun-related violence.
But seven mass shootings in one day is not the highest this country has seen in recent years. Over each Fourth of July weekend between 2020-2022, there was at least one day with mass shootings in the double digits.
In 2020, the 15 mass shootings that occurred across 13 states on July 5 made for the highest number of mass shootings in one day since 2013, according to GVA.
I hate to say this, but it really looks like we’ve lost the battle to stop gun violence. There are so many guns out there. How will we ever reverse this trend? I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ll see an end to this in my lifetime. And we can blame the NRA, the Supreme Court and yes, Fox News. Please convince me I’m wrong. This next article makes me want to slit my wrists, but I’m afraid Brynn Tannehill may be right, even though I hope and pray she’s wrong.
Bather with a Griffon dog Lise on the bank of the seine, Pierre Auguste Renoir
I wrote this article long before the latest mass shooting that just happened, this time in Louisville, Kentucky, because we all know the pattern, and it never changes. There’s a mass shooting and dead innocents, often children. Angry calls for Republicans to do something, and nothing gets done. The incident fades from the 24-hour news cycle, and we resume the waiting game for the next one. It’s Sisyphus with a boulder that rolls downhill and crushes him over and over for eternity.
That’s something that people who support gun control measures need to understand: The war is lost. There is no conceivable way for things to change for the better within the next 20 to 30 years, short of a national divorce. There is no way to change hearts and minds of Republicans or the courts. There is no way to change who is in office in most states. There is no way to replace who sits on the courts quickly or change conservative disdain for stare decisis.
In reality, mass shootings will only become more and more common over the next few years as Republicans have decided that the only solution to gun violence is adding as many guns as possible to the mix.
At the state level, gerrymandering ensures that red states will never put in place elected representatives who would pass gun control. With the primary system as it is, there is zero chance that Republican primaries in these states would suddenly start producing candidates who would support limiting access to guns, much less taking away assault rifles.
In blue states, they already know that there is no hope that the courts will uphold the laws they pass. The Supreme Court effectively overturned the California law that limited magazine size, after ruling in 2022 that states can do little to prevent anyone from buying a gun in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The conservative Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, ruled in 2023 that the Second Amendment prevents the government from taking guns from people under restraining orders for committing domestic violence. Nor is the government allowed to prevent them from buying guns.
Some Republicans still want to pretend that they’re engaging with the subject seriously: blaming mental health issues, video games, lack of prayer in schools, and transgender people for mass shootings. But this is simply a distraction: Other countries have all those things, but they don’t have mass shootings. The United States is the only country where people have such ready access to hundreds of millions of firearms, and we are the only country where mass shootings happen with such grim regularity….
Short of a national divorce, there is nothing that can be done at this point. Mass shootings, and the accompanying piles of dead bodies, are as American as Mom and apple pie. Continuing to pretend that our current system can fix this is tantamount to accepting the status quo. This is going to upset a lot of people and make them angry. I could be wrong; I’m not a psychic. However, no one has proposed a plausible way to get meaningful gun reform through. It’s not for lack of trying either: Every effort for the past decade has failed despite public outcry after each horrific mass shooting. If there was a way, someone would have already found it. But the truth hurts when it means changing your whole worldview: that the war is lost, and your country cannot be saved from not only what it has become but what it chooses to be.
Read the rest at the link if you can stand it.
There is a lot more news happening today, so please share links to stories on any topic that interests you. Take care and stay safe everyone.
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Late Thursday night, Trump said on social media that he agreed the document should be made public. In another post early Friday, he called the nuclear weapons issue a “hoax” and accused the FBI of planting evidence, without offering information to indicate such a thing had happened. Trump said agents did not allow his lawyers to be present for the search, which is not unusual in a law enforcement operation, especially if it potentially involves classified items.
Material about nuclear weapons is especially sensitive and usually restricted to a small number of government officials, experts said. Publicizing details about U.S. weapons could provide an intelligence road map to adversaries seeking to build ways of countering those systems. And other countries might view exposing their nuclear secrets as a threat, experts said.
One former Justice Department official, who in the past oversaw investigations of leaks of classified information, said the type of top-secret information described by the people familiar with the probe would probably cause authorities to try to move as quickly as possible to recover sensitive documents that could cause grave harm to U.S. security.
“If that is true, it would suggest that material residing unlawfully at Mar-a-Lago may have been classified at the highest classification level,” said David Laufman, the former chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence section, which investigates leaks of classified information. “If the FBI and the Department of Justice believed there were top secret materials still at Mar-a-Lago, that would lend itself to greater ‘hair-on-fire’ motivation to recover that material as quickly as possible.”
Cable News lit up last night with analysis and news.
"This is really Merrick Garland calling Donald Trump's bluff," Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel, says. "Now the ball is in [Trump's] court to say, 'oh wait, I want to hide this from the American public.'" https://t.co/FFizAOyZVepic.twitter.com/bNlMsZGys9
It’s worth emphasizing that the new motion filed by the DOJ isn’t to disclose everything, but it would bring to light the materials Team Trump already has in its possession, which would make clear key details of the search.
It’s why Marcy Wheeler noted, in response to today’s statement, “Garland is calling Trump’s bluff.”
The attorney general went on to note that he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant” in this case — something that was widely assumed, but not confirmed before this afternoon. He added that the Department of Justice “does not take such actions lightly” and first pursues “less intrusive” means.
But before wrapping up, Garland also took about a minute to defend federal law enforcement from “recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors.”
“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly
While the inventory provided to Mr. Trump’s team after the search is unlikely to reveal details about the specific documents he kept, it refers to an array of sensitive material, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, the federal magistrate in the Southern District of Florida who approved the search warrant and is handling the motion to unseal it, had issued an order requiring the Justice Department to serve a copy of its motion to Mr. Trump’s lawyers. It said the department would have to tell the judge by 3 p.m. on Friday whether Mr. Trump opposed the motion.
Mr. Garland’s statement amounted to a challenge to Mr. Trump, who has been free to release the search warrant and the list of items taken during the search on his own, but has declined to do so. Many Trump allies and Republicans have also called on Mr. Garland to explain his decision, adding political complexity — or hypocrisy — to any decision by Mr. Trump to oppose making the search warrant public.
The Justice Department did not seek to release the affidavits — which contain much more information about the behavior of Mr. Trump and evidence presented by others — that were used to obtain the warrant.
The public statement by Mr. Garland came at an extraordinary moment, as a sprawling set of investigations into the former president on multiple fronts gained momentum even as Mr. Trump continued to signal that he might soon announce another run for the White House.
Peek-A-Boo /Hide and seek (Kurragömma) , Carl Larsson, 1898
But Republicans responded furiously to the development, following Trump’s lead in claiming that the search showed the justice department waging a politically motivated witch-hunt. Their florid rhetoric will do little to assuage fears that a prosecution of Trump could lead to social unrest and even political violence.
Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Countless times we have examples of Democrats flouting the law and abusing power with no recourse.
“Democrats continually weaponize the bureaucracy against Republicans. This raid is outrageous. This abuse of power must stop and the only way to do that is to elect Republicans in November.”
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader in the House, claimed in a statement that the justice department had reached “an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and vowed that, when Republicans take back the House, they will conduct immediate oversight of the department.
He said ominously: “Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”
Lindsey Graham, a US senator for South Carolina and Trump ally, noted that midterm elections are about a hundred days away and Trump is likely to run for president again in 2024. “Time will tell regarding this most recent investigation. However, launching such an investigation of a former President this close to an election is beyond problematic.”
Bob Good, a Republican congressman, wrote on Twitter: “The continued weaponization of the federal government against its citizens and political opponents continues under the Biden/Garland march toward a police state.”
Congressman Ronny Jackson added: “Tonight the FBI officially became the enemy of the people!!!”
Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, denounced the search as “un-American”, while Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) – which hosted an event in Dallas, Texas, last week with speakers including Trump and the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán – also joined the condemnation.
“The Deep State will do anything in its power to slime President Trump,” Schlapp said. “Americans need to keep growing the big Red Wave and save the country from these corrupt fascists.”
Mike Pompeo, a former secretary of state under Trump, tweeted: “Executing a warrant against ex-POTUS is dangerous. The apparent political weaponization of DOJ/FBI is shameful. AG must explain why 250 yrs of practice was upended w/ this raid.”
Biden has repeatedly stressed his belief that the justice department must work independently of the White House and that he will not interfere in its investigations. Merrick Garland, the attorney general, insisted last week that no one was above the law.
The gunman who fired at police and engaged in an hours-long standoff in a corn field after trying to enter the FBI’s office in Cincinnati on Thursday has been identified in multiple media reports as someone who was present at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.
The man also apparently left a trail of posts on Truth Social, the social media platform created by former president Donald Trump, announcing his plans to attack the FBI office and indicating that his actions were a direct response to the FBI’s search Monday of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
The suspect is Ricky Walter Shiffer, according to NBC News and the New York Times, which reported that Shiffer was under investigation for having “ties to extremist groups,” including the Proud Boys, which he apparently mentioned on social media.
The standoff suspect was shot and killed by police on Thursday afternoon, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said, but his identity has not been confirmed.
The 42-year-old Shiffer reportedly posted on Facebook on Jan. 5, 2021, showing him attending a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington the night before the Capitol was stormed, according to the Times.
The week’s events have spurred a new addition to the Dark Brandon memes. We now have Dark Merrick.
Merrick Garland became Dark Merrick in the past week. And I’m here for ALL of it!
The conversation during a ferocious lightning storm on Aug. 4 unfolded as a sort of Socratic dialogue between the commander in chief and a select group of scholars, who painted the current moment as among the most perilous in modern history for democratic governance, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.
Comparisons were made to the years before the 1860 election when Abraham Lincoln warned that a “house divided against itself cannot stand” and the lead-up to the 1940 election, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt battled rising domestic sympathy for European fascism and resistance to the United States joining World War II.
We’ve seen this analysis from various Historians that appear on TV News. Here’s some additional reading material,
“If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell.” This chilling NYRB essay is a must read for everyone who cares about the present peril.https://t.co/qBeFSKOClo
No matter how and when the Trump presidency ends, the specter of illiberalism will continue to haunt American politics.
At this point, I’d just like to see Trump himself stop haunting us.
If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. Like Hitler’s conservative allies, he and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump.
Mitch has calmed down some, but the rest of the Republicans have not. This just broke.
Joseph V. Cuffari and his staff have refused to release documents and hindered interviews in an effort to block and delay a probe into his actions, sources say. https://t.co/CETitkBkPW
The White House has faced mounting questions about a decision by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office to abandon attempts to recover missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 6,2021. President Biden, in response, has signaled his intention to stay out of the process as an independent watchdog investigates the inspector general.
But Joseph V. Cuffari and his staff have refused to release certain documents and tried to block interviews, effectively delaying that probe, which has now stretched for more than 15 months and evolved into a wide-ranging inquiry into more than a dozen allegations of misconduct raised by whistleblowers and other sources, according to three people familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.
Some Republican senators have also raised stiff resistance to the investigation — which is being overseen by a panel of federal watchdogs fromthe Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) — questioning the need for a full probe into the Trump administrationappointee.
Pavel Tchelitchew Hide-and-Seek Derby, Vermont and New York, June 1940 – June 1942
An increase in turnout among Democrats and independents and a notable shift in Republican-leaning counties contributed to the overwhelming support of abortion rights last week in traditionally conservative Kansas, according to a detailed Associated Press analysis of the voting results.
A proposed state constitutional amendment would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions or ban abortions outright. But Kansas voters rejected the measure by nearly 20 percentage points, almost a mirror of Republican Donald Trump’s statewide margin over Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
“Between passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, killing al Qaeda’s leader, less pain at the pump, and the Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices taking away abortion rights, the political landscape is less horrible for Democrats,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox surveys with Republican Daron Shaw. “There are successes Democrats can point to that didn’t exist in the spring, but the biggest single change I see in this poll is the increased disapproval of the Supreme Court and suspect that is a significant factor.”
Fifty-five percent disapprove of the Supreme Court’s job performance, up from 48% in June.
Meanwhile, the shift in vote preference mainly comes from women. They preferred the GOP candidate by 1 point in May and now go for the Democrat by 6.
Okay, we’ll keep you updated on the release of the warrant.
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Patriot Front, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center classified as a white nationalist hate group that broke off from Vanguard America after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, march down South Michigan Avenue in the Loop as anti-abortion activists march across the street during a March for Life rally, Saturday afternoon, Jan. 8, 2022.Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Freedom’s Ring is faint and disappearing in the USA!
Guns have more rights in this country than women and children. The Supreme Court is rewriting law after law with little more justification than they were put there by the Federalist Society to get the job done, they now hold a supermajority and their misguided religious fervor will rule every decision. Police can overlook stating Miranda Rights. The EPA can’t oversee pollution releases in carbon-producing companies This is what the post-2016 election era has brought us. We are living in a Republican dystopia and it’s getting worse.
Every American officeholder should announce that they will never appoint anyone recommended by the extremist group funded by the Koch brothers and others to any judicial appointment. Every candidate needs to announce their intent.
I would suggest you read a compelling book about Germany called The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic published in 2018 and written by Benjamin Carter Hett. As you ask yourselves what Germans in the years of 1933-1934 should’ve, would’ve, could’ve been doing finish by asking yourselves what should we be doing now?
To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany’s leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett lays bare the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler’s hands. They had willingly given him the tools to turn Germany into a vicious dictatorship.
Benjamin Carter Hett is a leading scholar of twentieth-century Germany and a gifted storyteller whose portraits of these feckless politicians show how fragile democracy can be when those in power do not respect it. He offers a powerful lesson for today, when democracy once again finds itself embattled and the siren song of strongmen sounds ever louder.
Realize that Republicans at all levels are using these same techniques. We have “spates” of right-wing insurgencies and they appear only helpless and enabling to stop the rise of White Nationalism. Patriot Front marched around the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston this weekend. The Patriot Front also showed up around Independence day in Philadelphia in 2021. The group was run off by residents. They were arrested in Idaho last month. They are a radical white Christian nationalist group. This is not normal. They’re showing up everywhere.
Driving the news: Police received a call around 12:30 p.m. that a group of protesters were marching through the city, though their route was unknown, CNN reported.
Many of the marchers wore khaki pants and dark-colored polo shirts, with cloth coverings over their lower faces, along with sunglasses and caps.
State of play: The group approached a rental truck parked near the Haymarket metro stop and unloaded shields and a number of different flags, according to the Boston Herald.
Among them were U.S. flags, with some being flown upside down and others showing just the 13 stars of the original U.S. colonies. Other flags displayed versions of the symbol used by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, per the Herald.
Patriot Front flags were also flown, per CNN.
Boston police received a report around 1:25 p.m. of a Black man being injured in a confrontation with Patriot Front marchers.
The man told police that he was pushed around, knocked to the ground, and assaulted by members of the group, suffering several lacerations. He was later taken to Tufts Medical Center, the Herald reported.
Around 1:30 p.m. the group left the scene via the metro system after packing their materials into a rental truck, per the Herald.
The big picture: City Council President Ed Flynn wrote in a letter Saturday that members of neo-Nazi groups have “continued to make their presence known” in Boston in recent months.
In February they targeted doctors working to address racial disparities in healthcare at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and appeared at the city’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade in March, Flynn wrote.
What to watch: The Boston Police Department is conducting a civil rights investigation into the incident and no arrests have yet been made, per the Herald.
What they’re saying: “The disgusting hate of white supremacists has no place here. [Especially] when so many of our rights are under attack, we will not normalize intimidation by bigots,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu tweeted on Saturday.
The concept of academic freedom is based on the idea that the free exchange of ideas on campus is essential to good education. Specifically, academic freedom is the right of faculty members, acting both as individuals and as a collective, to determine without outside interference: (1) the college curriculum; (2) course content; (3) teaching; (4) student evaluation; and (5) the conduct of scholarly inquiry. These rights are supported by two institutional practices—shared governance and tenure (see below.) Academic freedom ensures that colleges and universities are “safe havens” for inquiry, places where students and scholars can challenge the conventional wisdom of any field—art, science, politics or others.
If we were in a sane world, this would be a lay-up in court. Nevertheless I expect my First Amendment friends are on it. https://t.co/awBgKlAPat
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday signed legislation mandating public colleges and universities survey students and faculty about their beliefs in an effort to promote intellectual diversity on campuses.
“We obviously want our universities to be focused on critical thinking, academic rigor,” DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday, according to the Naples Daily News.
“We do not want them as basically hotbeds for stale ideology,” he said.
“It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said. “Unfortunately, now the norm is, these are more intellectually repressive environments,” he added.
Under House Bill 233, surveys would be conducted annually on campuses to assess viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom, and determine “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented,” and whether students and faculty “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.”
I would hate to hear what DeSantis thinks is “stale ideology”. Academic freedom supports the free exchange of ideas but basically ensuring your faculty has an agenda you approve of is just about as fascist as you can get. Throw out theory and replace it with whatever. Does this mean Med Schools must teach that a clump of vibrating cells is a heartbeat when there are no valves present in a fetus at that point in development? How about me? We all live in mixed market economies. Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, whatever are political ideologies and are discussed just as philosophical takes on how to apply data and theory. They’re abstracts only. There, I just got in trouble because I use market economies and dump the philosophical vantages for the idea of doing what works for each individual market. Capitalism is a Marxist Construct. Are my views stale or is he just plain ignorant?
Last month, Major League Baseball and its partners again released Independence Day-themed baseball hats that each of the 30 teams will wear. This year’s version features a flush of stars across the front against a blue and white backdrop, offset with a shaggy shock of red. The Toronto Blue Jays, located in a country that does not celebrate American independence, were also issued the caps — even though the Canadian flag does not contain stars nor the color blue. Public outrage prompted a redesign of the Toronto caps. Next is the USA-themed socks, the marketing, the freedom-inspired spikes, gloves, wristbands, the inevitable paeans to the armed forces.
By now, we’re all numb to the spectacle. At least publicly, the emphasis on the Fourth of July shifted from family to symbols years ago — Sept. 11 did that. Two decades of paid patriotism has made it ever harder to center the Fourth on reconnecting with your favorite aunts and uncles. No backyard barbecue and badminton game could compete with 20 years of military tributes and unquestioned nationalism. You think back to Righetti. Cosmetically, there was nothing about that July 4, 1983, that said patriotism. All Yankee Stadium said that day 39 years ago was baseball. Ninety-four degrees. Sox-Yankees. The Stadium looked as it did every other day. The crowd came because it was July 4, a Monday day game — a great day for baseball and family — and, along with Bat Day, the biggest giveaway day of the year: Yankee Cap Day. You smile a little at the victory in that, because only a few decades earlier, the Yankees were most resistant to a brilliant piece of marketing. In the 1950s, the Yankees did not want fans wearing Yankees caps. George Weiss, the Yankees’ general manager at the time, thought a million New York kids wearing the team cap cheapened the brand. Yankees hats were a piece of a professional uniform. They were for players, not fans.
Grilling, baseball and fireworks, first replaced by symbols — and now by a country tearing itself completely apart. July 4, 2022, falls in the midst of devastation. It is Independence Day in America with independence under current and relentless assault. From Miranda rights to the environment, to the separation of church and state, to guns — so many guns — people are reeling. The U.S. Supreme Court has run a chain saw through what two generations of Americans had known to be the legal baselines of their lives. Tens of millions of women today do not feel freedom and certainly are not celebrating independence. The people who can become pregnant who feel celebratory toward the Court may do so from the victory of their position, but it nevertheless remains true that the power of choice — and the right to privacy — has been taken from all of them.
He was not speaking metaphorically. It was not an offhand comment. President Donald J. Trump had every intention of joining a mob of supporters he knew to be armed and dangerous as it marched to the Capitol. And there had even been talk of marching into the House chamber himself to disrupt Congress from ratifying his election defeat.
For a year and a half, Mr. Trump has been shielded by obfuscations and mischaracterizations, benefiting from uncertainty about what he was thinking on Jan. 6, 2021. If he truly believed the election had been stolen, if he genuinely expected the gathering at the Capitol would be a peaceful protest, the argument went, then could he be held accountable, much less indicted, for the mayhem that ensued?
But for a man who famously avoids leaving emails or other trails of evidence of his unspoken motives, any doubts about what was really going through Mr. Trump’s mind on that day of violence seemed to have been eviscerated by testimony presented in recent weeks by the House committee investigating the Capitol attack — especially the dramatic appearance last week of a 26-year-old former White House aide who offered a chilling portrait of a president willing to do almost anything to hang onto power.
So, this is not a drill. This is real. I think it’s time we dig into a little Weimar Republic History and see where the Germans got it wrong and then vow to get it right.
Happy Independence Day even though we are less independent today than we were when Hillary told us during her campaign that all of this was bound to happen.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.