Posted: June 3, 2023 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: abortion rights, cat art, Cats, caturday, Donald Trump, just because | Tags: Amazon, anti-abortion laws, bible, book banning, Chris Licht, Citizens United, CNN, Evan Corcoran, Google, India train crash, North Carolina abortion ban, political contributions, stolen documents case, Utah |
Since it’s Caturday, I decided to share this funny video I found on Twitter before I get started with today’s news. It shows how intelligent cats really are.
Cats prove that there are good things in this world, even though the news people make can be so depressing.
Here’s what’s happening today.
There’s been a terrible train crash in India. The New York Times reports: More Than 260 Dead and 900 Injured in Train Crash in India.
More than 260 people were killed and hundreds more injured when a passenger train derailed and struck two other trains in eastern India on Friday, officials said, a rail disaster whose toll was exceptionally large even by the standards of a nation with a long history of deadly crashes.
The crash, in the state of Odisha, shocked India, now the world’s most populous country, and renewed longstanding questions about safety problems in a system that transports more than eight billion passengers a year. The country has invested heavily in the system in recent years, but that has not been enough to overcome decades of neglect.
The crash killed 261 people, according to Indian railway officials. Odisha’s chief secretary, Pradeep Jena, said that an additional 900 had been injured. Officials said they expected the toll to rise.
As daylight broke, teams of rescue workers with dogs and cutting equipment were laboring to free injured people trapped in the wreckage of twisted train carriages. Officials said that 115 ambulances had been mobilized and that all nearby hospitals were on standby.
The government in the state, home to about 45 million people, declared a day of mourning after India’s worst rail disaster in two decades. Dozens of trains were canceled. Teams from the Army, Air Force and National Disaster Response Force were mobilized to help. And people near the site of the crash were lining up to donate blood.
Of course the death toll is rising. The Washington Post: India train crash toll passes 280; rescue operation ends.
About 1,000 people were injured in the collision Friday night in the state of Odisha, the government said in a preliminary incident report obtained by The Washington Post. Rescue operations were “completed” Saturday afternoon local time, India’s Railways Ministry said on Twitter, adding that “restoration work” was underway.
Pagan Cats, by Cécile Berrubé
The crash involved high-speed trains that collided “head-on,” Odisha’s director of fire and emergency services, Sudhanshu Sarangi, said, calling it “a major, major tragedy.”
“Psychologically, we were not prepared to see so many dead bodies,” said Sarangi, who was supervising the rescue operation. More than 300 rescue workers were involved in the search, “but then as our evening progressed … we were not really hopeful of finding survivors,” he said.
The disaster unfolded around 7 p.m. local time Friday, when the Coromandel Express, which was ferrying passengers from Howrah to Chennai on India’s eastern coast, derailed and hit a freight train near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore, a district in Odisha. Soon after the initial crash, the Superfast Express running from Bangalore to Howrah with roughly 1,000 passengers crashed into the other two trains, according to Aditya Kumar Chaudhary, a spokesman for the South Eastern Railway zone.
By Saturday evening local time, the death toll had reached 288, Chaudhary said, adding that 17 passenger compartments had derailed and were severely damaged.
Photographs and video from the wreckage site showed overturned train cars. Witnesses said people converged at the scene and tried to pull survivors from the mounds of mangled steel as emergency alarms sounded and the injured cried out for help.
A medical officer at Balasore District Hospital said Saturday afternoon that 1,053 people had been brought to the facility, 183 of them already dead. Fifty-five died at the hospital, he said.
“I have never seen something like this in my life. This is the first time we have received so many patients,” D. Jagatdeo said by phone from his office, where he had been stationed since the previous night.
By Martine Coppens
Chris Licht has been demoted at CNN. He’s the moron who decided to give a platform to Donald Trump at a so-called “town hall” with an audience of MAGA fanatics. It was a disaster. CNN got great ratings for the “town hall,” but after that the MAGA folks went back to Fox News, and normal people turned off CNN.
There’s a very long article at The Atlantic by Tim Alberta about this: Inside the Meltdown at CNN: CEO Chris Licht felt he was on a mission to restore the network’s reputation for serious journalism. How did it all go wrong?
I stopped reading after awhile, because I felt I didn’t need to know all the details. You can read it at the Atlantic, or you can just read this summary of the situation at Mediaite: CNN’s Licht Faces Wave of Tough Reporting in Wake of Executive Shakeup.
A series of tough headlines are hitting CNN CEO Chris Licht. First, Mediaite reported Thursday on the appointment of a new executive to take over business operations at CNN in a move seen as a rescue operation for the network leader. Then, The Atlantic dropped a tough cover story on the network chief, and Dylan Byers of Puck News reported Licht faces serious headwinds.
Byers, who used to work for CNN, said in the Puck newsletter on Friday that confidence in Licht has “wavered considerably” following the appointing of David Leavy – chief corporate affairs officer at Warner Bros. Discovery – to now handle the business side.
The revelation of Leavy’s appointment as COO was first reported by Mediaite’s Colby Hall, who followed up with a piece spelling out what this means for Licht and CNN.
“There’s no way they would put David Leavy down into CNN to work for Chris Licht,” one industry insider told Mediaite. “He’s too important to Zaslav to take what on paper sounds like a demotion. It sure sounds like he’s taking one for the team.”
The Puck reporting came hours after The Atlantic also published a lengthy and not exactly flattering profile of Licht’s tenure at CNN, which has seen precipitous ratings declines since Licht replaced former chief Jeff Zucker.
I hope CNN will get back on track, but they’ve lost a lot of viewers. The simple truth is that CNN is never going to be able to compete with Fox News for the Republican audience.
Cats Dancing, Headstand, by Louis Wain
Daknikat sent me this creepy story from The Guardian: Amazon and Google fund anti-abortion lawmakers through complex shell game.
As North Carolina’s 12-week abortion ban is due to come into effect on 1 July, an analysis from the non-profit Center for Political Accountability (CPA) shows several major corporations donated large sums to a Republican political organization which in turn funded groups working to elect anti-abortion state legislators.
The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) received donations of tens of thousands of dollars each from corporations including Comcast, Intuit, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Bank of America and Google last year, the CPA’s analysis of IRS filings shows. The contributions were made in the months after Politico published a leaked supreme court decision indicating that the court would end the right to nationwide abortion access.
Google contributed $45,000 to the RSLC after the leak of the draft decision, according to the CPA’s review of the tax filings. Others contributed even more in the months after the leak, including Amazon ($50,000), Intuit ($100,000) and Comcast ($147,000).
Google, Amazon, Comcast, Wells Fargo and Bank of America did not respond to requests for comment. An Intuit spokesperson pointed out that the company also donates to Democratic political organizations, and that “our financial support does not indicate a full endorsement of every position taken by an individual policymaker or organization.
That is sickening. I guess this all goes back to the SCOTUS’ Citizens United decision.
By Martine Coppens
Here’s an interesting development in the book banning craze. Now they are banning the Bible in Utah. Associated Press: Utah district bans Bible in elementary and middle schools ‘due to vulgarity or violence.’
The Good Book is being treated like a bad book in Utah after a parent frustrated by efforts to ban materials from schools convinced a suburban district that some Bible verses were too vulgar or violent for younger children.
And the Book of Mormon could be next.
The 72,000-student Davis School District north of Salt Lake City removed the Bible from its elementary and middle schools while keeping it in high schools after a committee reviewed the scripture in response to a parental complaint. The district has removed other titles, including Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” following a 2022 state law requiring districts to include parents in decisions over what constitutes “sensitive material.”
Williams said the district doesn’t differentiate between requests to review books and doesn’t consider whether complaints may be submitted as satire. The reviews are handled by a committee made up of teachers, parents and administrators in the largely conservative community.
The committee published its decision about the Bible in an online database of review requests and did not elaborate on its reasoning or which passages it found overly violent or vulgar.
The decision comes as conservative parent activists, including state-based chapters of the group Parents United, descend on school boards and statehouses throughout the United States, sowing alarm about how sex and violence are talked about in schools.
Cat Dance, artist unknown
Finally, The New York Times has a new story on the Trump stolen documents investigation: Trump Lawyer’s Notes Could Be a Key in the Classified Documents Inquiry.
Turning on his iPhone one day last year, the lawyer M. Evan Corcoran recorded his reflections about a high-profile new job: representing former President Donald J. Trump inst an investigation into his handling of classified documents.
In complete sentences and a narrative tone that sounded as if it had been ripped from a novel, Mr. Corcoran recounted in detail a nearly monthlong period of the documents investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Corcoran’s narration of his recollections covered his initial meeting with Mr. Trump in May last year to discuss a subpoena from the Justice Department seeking the return of all classified materials in the former president’s possession, the people said.
It also encompassed a search that Mr. Corcoran undertook last June in response to the subpoena for any relevant records being kept at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida. He carried out the search in preparation for a visit by prosecutors, who were on their way to enforce the subpoena and collect any sensitive material found remaining there.
Government investigators almost never obtain a clear lens into a lawyer’s private dealings with their clients, let alone with such a prominent one as Mr. Trump. A recording like the voice memo Mr. Corcoran made last year — during a long drive to a family event, according to two people briefed on the recording — is typically shielded by attorney-client or work-product privilege.
But in March, a federal judge ordered Mr. Corcoran’s recorded recollections — now transcribed onto dozens of pages — to be given to the office of the special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the documents investigation.
The decision by the judge, Beryl A. Howell, pierced the privilege that would have normally protected Mr. Corcoran’s musings about his interactions with Mr. Trump. Those protections were set aside under what is known as the crime-fraud exception, a provision that allows prosecutors to work around attorney-client privilege if they have reason to believe that legal advice or legal services were used in furthering a crime.
Read more details at the link.
That’s it for me today. I hope you have a peaceful Caturday.
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Posted: May 22, 2023 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Donald Trump, just because | Tags: debt ceiling crisis, Evan Corcoran, F-16 warplanes, Florida, Joe Biden, Kevin McCarthy, LULAC, NAACP, Ron DeSantis, stolen documents case, Ukraine, Uvalde school shooting |
Frederick Childe Hassam, ‘The Breakfast Room’
I’m filling in for Dakinikat this morning, because she’s working down to the wire to get her final grades turned in today. Biden and McCarthy are still haggling over the debt ceiling, Ron DeSantis will soon announce his candidacy for president, and we’re still waiting for the next Trump indictment to drop. But I’m going to begin with stories marking the anniversary of the Uvalde school shooting which will be on Wednesday, May 24.
From Raw Story: A year ago, these Uvalde kids left school early. They’re haunted by what happened next, by Uriel J. García, and photographed by Evan L’Roy, originally published in the Texas Tribune.
UVALDE — At 7 a.m. on a Monday in February, Jessica Treviño, with squinty eyes, goes into her sons’ bedroom and in a low, raspy voice tells them to wake up. Eleven-year-old David James rolls out of bed, but 9-year-old Austin, the youngest of the four Treviño children, doesn’t move from the lower bunk bed.
The siblings get ready for school. David James grabs the car keys and starts the family’s black Ram 1500 truck for his mother.
Austin, who is still in bed covered by a blanket, tells his mother he doesn’t want to go to school.
“I can’t leave you by yourself,” Jessica, 40, tells him, leaning over his body as their fat bulldog, Chubs, tries to jump on the bed. “You have to go to school.”
Austin doesn’t move. The night before, the sound of police sirens woke him.
“It’s ’cause there were cop sounds last night so he’s kinda scared,” David James tells his mother.
It’s not the first time one of the children won’t go to school because something spooked them. And Jessica knows it won’t be the last.
These kids survived the Uvalde mass shooting.
Three of the four Treviño children were students at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022, and were on campus for an awards ceremony as an 18-year-old with an AR-15 rifle approached the school.
That day, Jessica picked up David James, Austin and her now 12-year-old daughter, Illiaña, from the school about 11:30 a.m.
Jessica later found out that as she was driving off, the shooter had just walked into a classroom, killing two teachers and 19 students — including Illiaña’s best friend, a 10-year-old student in room 112, who was Illiaña’s defender when other children made fun of her.
A few days after the shooting, Jessica took Illiaña, whom she calls Nana, to Uvalde’s plaza to leave a teddy bear and flowers at a memorial for her friend. Suddenly, Illiaña’s heart began to race and she had trouble breathing. Jessica took her to the local hospital, which transferred her to an intensive care unit in San Antonio. The doctor there told Jessica that Illiaña was suffering cardiac arrest and her body shut down from acute stress. She was released after a week.
That’s severe PTSD. Read the rest and see photos at the Raw Story link.
Claude Monet – Anémones en pot 1885
Raw Story: Little girl who survived Uvalde shooting counts exits because she doesn’t trust cops to save her.
Khloie Torres was the 10-year-old who repeatedly called 911 on the day of the Uvalde mass shooting. “Please hurry. There is a lot of dead bodies,” she told the dispatcher.
She took blood from some of the other students and smeared it all over herself to make it seem like she was already dead.
CNN reporter Shimon Prokupecz spoke to Khloie’s mother who told him, “Knowing the police didn’t do anything, it’s just crazy. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Does she ever ask you why the police took so long?” Prokupecz asked.
“She does. She’s like, Mom, why did it take police so long to come in here? I don’t even know what to say to her. She don’t (sic) trust any police now,” the mom, Jamie Torres, explained. “They let everybody in those conjoined rooms down. The families have changed forever because they were too weak to go in the room, but my 10-year-old sitting across the door was offering to open it. And they still didn’t want to go in.”
The mother told CNN to show the body camera footage of her daughter. The police are shown leading Khloie out, and the next footage shows her on the bus covered in blood. She’s trying to speak through tears. Sitting in the seat in front of her is her best friend, 9-year-old Kendall Olivarez, who was losing consciousness. She was shot twice, once in the left shoulder and in her back. In the video, first responders were shouting at her to stay with them. A wailing cry is then heard.
“Please help! I don’t want to die,” Khloie cried to the 911 dispatcher.
“It’s definitely stressed her out,” Jamie Torres explained. “PTSD, all of that. She has all of that. You know, she can’t walk into a restaurant or any kind of building without counting every exit of the door.”
“She counts exits?” Prokupecz asked.
“Yes, if we go to McDonald’s, she sits closest to the door that she can,” the mother said.
NBC News: An Uvalde victim’s family feels betrayed by officials withholding details from that day.
UVALDE, Texas — Javier Cazares is haunted by the 30 minutes or so that passed after his 9-year-old daughter, Jacklyn, was shot and before law enforcement officers finally confronted the gunman firing an AR-15 inside Robb Elementary School.
By Marc Chagall
“She wasn’t shot in the very beginning. She was shot somewhere in the middle. If they had gone in 30 minutes, 40 minutes” earlier, he said in an interview, “maybe she could still have been alive.”
A total of 73 minutes passed before law enforcement stopped the 18-year-old armed with an assault rifle.
The loss has been worsened, according to Cazares, by the refusal of people in power to take responsibility for their failures, to fill in the details for the grieving parents who need to know more about what happened each minute of that deadly day, to own up to fateful mistakes and remove those who made them, to make sure the families get the support they need when they need it, and to change gun laws.
“The first couple months, you know, it still seemed unreal,” he said. “And now, it’s like betrayal.”
One more from Raw Story: New Uvalde body cam video shows cops vomiting and sobbing after looking inside the classroom.
A new CNN special on Sunday by Shimon Prokupecz revealed new video footage not previously made public of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting.
After an hour of doing nothing, the shooter was finally dead, and police moved in.
The show opens with the sound of gunfire from the shooter and from the police. The next scene is a group of officers finally entering the classroom. What follows is a collection of body camera footage showing officers vomiting outside. Others were sobbing and holding each other. A different video showed an officer shaking while trying to clean blood off their hands.
Before that, the video that was released showed the police standing around, trying to figure out what to do.
Sorry, but the blood is still on their hands, and they’ll never be able to wash it off.
The footage that CNN showed was approved by the parents to reveal to the public. Prokupecz explained to viewers that the families hope that showing the footage in the special will help create more motivation to do something more to help stop the mass shootings.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told Prokupecz that they’ve fought for the information previously blocked from the public. In some cases, it’s only because of the media that any parents can access information about what happened that day.
Biden and McCarthy are meeting again today about the debt limit. The New York Times:
President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed on Sunday to meet on Monday afternoon to try to jump-start talks aimed at averting a default on the nation’s debt, capping a tumultuous stretch of negotiations that faltered over the weekend as the two sides clashed over Republicans’ demands to cut spending in exchange for raising the debt limit.
Henri Matisse – Femme lisant en Robe violette 1898
Mr. McCarthy announced the meeting — his third with Mr. Biden this month, scheduled for after the president’s return from the Group of 7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan — after he concluded a call with the president on Sunday sounding more sanguine than before about the prospects for a deal.
The speaker said House G.O.P. and White House negotiators would continue talks at the Capitol on Sunday to lay the groundwork. White House negotiators left the Capitol on Sunday night after a two-and-a-half-hour bargaining session with their Republican counterparts but said they intended to keep working before Monday’s session.
Mr. Biden “walked through some of the things that he’s still looking at, he’s hearing from his members; I walked through things I’m looking at,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I felt that part was productive. But look — there’s no agreement. We’re still apart.”
I sure hope that Biden isn’t going to back down like Obama did in 2011.
On Ukraine, The New York Times reports: Biden Announces More Aid for Ukraine as Group of 7 Powers Meet in Japan.
HIROSHIMA, Japan — President Biden and other leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies rallied around Ukraine on Sunday with vows of resolute support and promises of further weapons shipments even as Russian forces claimed to have seized full control of a bitterly contested city.
Mr. Biden and his counterparts figuratively and, in some cases, literally wrapped their arms around President Volodomyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who made an audacious journey halfway around the world from his ravaged homeland to Hiroshima, Japan, to solicit aid for the first time in person from the Group of 7 powers at their annual summit.
“Together with the entire G7, we have Ukraine’s back, and I promise we’re not going anywhere,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Zelensky while announcing another $375 million in artillery, ammunition and other arms for Ukraine. At a later news conference, Mr. Biden voiced defiance of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
“I once more shared and assured President Zelensky, together with all G7 members and our allies and partners around the world, that we will not waver,” he said. “Putin will not break our resolve, as he thought he could.”
Zelensky got what he has long asked for.
Mr. Zelensky won the major prize he sought a day before arriving in Hiroshima when Mr. Biden reversed himself and agreed to make it possible for Ukraine to obtain F-16 warplanes. Mr. Biden on Sunday defended his long reluctance to allow such jets to be sent to Ukraine by saying the time had not yet been right and arguing that they would not have stopped Russia from taking Bakhmut in months of grinding ground combat.
“F-16s would not have helped in that regard at all,” he told reporters. “It was unnecessary. For example, let’s take just Bakhmut, for example. It would not have any additional added consequence.”
In authorizing the F-16 training now, Mr. Biden said he was preparing Ukraine for the day down the road when it would need to deter further Russian aggression.
Lilacs, by Konstantin Alexeevich Korovin (1861-1939), Russia
A new story from Hugh Lowell of The Guardian on the stolen Trump documents investigation: Trump was warned about retaining classified documents, notes reveal.
Federal prosecutors have evidence Donald Trump was put on notice that he could not retain any classified documents after he was subpoenaed for their return last year, as they examine whether the subsequent failure to fully comply with the subpoena was a deliberate act of obstruction by the former president.
The previously unreported warning conveyed to Trump by his lawyer Evan Corcoran could be significant in the criminal investigation surrounding Trump’s handling of classified materials given it shows he knew about his subpoena obligations.
Last June, Corcoran found roughly 40 classified documents in the storage room at Mar-a-Lago and told the justice department that no further materials remained at the property. That was later shown to be untrue, after the FBI later returned with a warrant and seized 101 additional classified documents.
The federal investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith has recently focused on why the subpoena was not compiled with, notably whether Trump arranged for boxes of classified documents to be moved out of the storage room so he could illegally retain them.
In particular, prosecutors have fixated on Trump’s valet Walt Nauta, after he told the justice department that Trump told him to move boxes out of the storage room before and after the subpoena. The activity was captured on subpoenaed surveillance footage, though there were gaps in the tapes.
The warning was one of several key moments that Corcoran preserved in roughly 50 pages of contemporaneous notes described to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, which prosecutors have viewed in recent months as central to the criminal investigation.
The notes revealed how Trump and Nauta had unusually detailed knowledge of the botched subpoena response, including where Corcoran intended to search and not search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as when Corcoran was actually doing his search.
Read more at The Guardian.
There are quite a few stories on DeSantis and Florida, as he builds up to the big announcement that everyone already knows about. Here are a couple floating around today:
CNN: NAACP issues travel advisory for Florida, saying the state is ‘openly hostile toward African Americans’ under Gov. DeSantis’ administration.
Another advocacy group is warning people of color about traveling to Florida – but for different reasons.
The NAACP issued a travel advisory for the state “in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools,” the group said in a written statement Saturday.
Spring Day in the forest with beeches and Anemones in bloom, 1903, Peder Mork Monsted
The announcement came days after LULAC – the League of United Latin American Citizens – issued a travel advisory for Florida after DeSantis signed a new immigration law that will go into effect in July.
Both LULAC and the NAACP say actions under the DeSantis administration are “hostile” to their communities.
“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP said. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
Under DeSantis, Florida has banned the teaching of critical race theory – which acknowledges systemic racism is a part of American history and challenges the beliefs that allowed it to flourish.
The governor said the concept would teach children “the country is rotten and that our institutions are illegitimate.” He also passed legislation barring instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.
The DeSantis administration also blocked a preliminary version of a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies, with Florida’s Department of Education saying it “significantly lacks educational value.”
The NAACP said DeSantis’ actions are “in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon.”
CNN: Biden bets DeSantis’ ‘Florida blueprint’ will help him flip the Sunshine State and win reelection.
Biden advisers believe they can hold up what the GOP governor calls his “Florida blueprint” as a warning to the country about what would happen if DeSantis or any other Republican wins the White House in 2024 – a human embodiment, essentially, of Biden’s argument that “MAGA extremism” goes beyond Donald Trump.
And along the way, they believe the Florida governor’s record may give them a chance at the state’s 30 electoral votes.
The Biden campaign has quietly started putting campaign cash and efforts into Florida – and will decide in the coming months whether to put more – as it gauges the president’s chances of reversing the reddening of a state he lost by a wider-than-expected margin in 2020.
It’s an insurance policy strategy for a campaign that has so far almost exclusively focused on Biden as the alternative to Trump, who continues to lead Republican primary polls and whom DeSantis has already spent months trying to knock out of the way.
And it comes as Biden advisers push back on ongoing criticism from Florida Democrats that they flubbed their chance last year to damage DeSantis early by not investing much energy or money against him as he ran for reelection, racking up a whopping 19-point victory and tens of millions in campaign funds, likely now headed to a supportive super PAC.
“They’ve realized the outcome of their negligence. [DeSantis] now has a lot of resources that he can use,” said former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who won a Miami-area House seat in the 2018 blue wave but lost it two years later as Trump carried the state. “You don’t want to lose your democracy? You want to stop fascism? Then do something about his reelection. We could have stopped [DeSantis] in 2022. No one did anything.”
That’s all I have for you today. This is an open thread–please feel free to discuss these stories or post your own suggested links on any topic.
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Posted: February 11, 2023 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: cat art, caturday, Donald Trump, just because | Tags: Alaska, children with guns, classified documents, Evan Corcoran, grand jury, gun violence, Mike Pence, Turkey/Syria earthquake, unidentified high altitude object |
By Adrie Martens
I have a mixed bag of reads for you today: some stories about the terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria, including a long read about the situation in Syria; a long read about the case of a six-year-old in Virginia who shot his teacher; a story about the still-unidentified flying object shot down over Alaska, and some new Trump investigation stories.
AP News: Survivors still being found as quake death toll tops 25,000.
ANTAKYA, Turkey (AP) — Rescue crews on Saturday pulled more survivors, including entire families, from toppled buildings despite diminishing hopes as the death toll of the enormous quake that struck a border region of Turkey and Syria five days ago surpassed 25,000.
Dramatic rescues were being broadcast on Turkish television, including the rescue of the Narli family in central Kahramanmaras 133 hours after the 7.8-magnitude temblor struck Monday. First, 12-year-old Nehir Naz Narli was saved, then both of her parents.
That followed the rescue earlier in the day of a family of five from a mound of debris in the hard-hit town of Nurdagi, in Gaziantep province, TV network HaberTurk reported. Rescuers cheered and chanted, “God is Great!” as the last family member, the father, was lifted to safety.
Turkish President Recep Tayypi Erdogan, on a tour of quake-stricken cities, raised the death toll in Turkey to 21,848, which pushed the total number of dead across the region, including government and rebel-held parts of Syria, to 25,401….
Still, the day brought one astonishing rescue after another, numbering more than a dozen.
Melisa Ulku, a woman in her 20s, was extricated from the rubble in Elbistan in the 132th hour since the quake, following the rescue of another person at the same site in the same hour. Ahead of her rescue, police announced that people shouldn’t cheer or clap in order to not interfere with other rescue efforts nearby. She was covered in a thermal blanket on a stretcher. Rescuers were hugging. Some shouted “God is great!”
Just an hour earlier, a 3-year-old girl and her father were pulled from debris in the town of Islahiye, also in Gaziantep province, and soon after a 7-year-old girl was rescued in the province of Hatay.
The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation days after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake and a powerful aftershock hours later caused thousands of buildings to collapse, killing more than 25,000, injuring another 80,000 and leaving millions homeless.
This is a long Washington Post article by Louisa Loveluck about the earthquake aftermath in Syria: In earthquake-battered Syria, a desperate wait for help that never came.
JINDERIS, Syria — It took four days and nights after the earthquake for the rubble to fall silent here. The strongest voices belonged to the women, residents said. Parted from their children, or fighting to save them, they screamed until their lungs gave out.
In this forgotten pocket of rebel-held northwest Syria, there were no international rescue workers to save them. No aid shipments brought painkillers to the survivors when stocks ran low. Just six miles away, across the border in Turkey, thousands of tons of relief poured in; support teams from as far away as Taiwan answered the Turkish government’s call for help. But Syria, divided against itself and isolated from much of the world, was left to pick up the pieces alone, as it has again and again over more than a decade of war and dislocation.
In the shattered town of Jinderis, at least 850 bodies had been recovered by Friday morning. Although hundreds are still missing, few believed there were any lives left to save. “We needed help here, we asked for help here,” said the town’s mayor, Mahmoud Hafar. “It never came.”
By Sandra Bierman
On Friday, the Bab Al-Salama border crossing into Syria was almost empty. A single ambulance with flashing lights was waiting to enter. The only Syrians crossing back were those being returned to their families in body bags.
On a rare visit to this Syrian enclave, controlled by Turkish-backed armed groups, The Washington Post found communities gripped by shock and bewilderment, and very much alone. In Jinderis, fathers stood watch over the remains of their homes and told of waking up to find their wives and children dead. As hulking excavators clawed the rubble, searching for a 13-year old boy, a man asked reporters to help him contact the United Nations for help. “Maybe they don’t know what happened in Jinderis,” he said. “No one could see this and not come here.”
This part of Syria has endured crisis after crisis, home to millions of people who have braved war and displacement, hunger and disease. Even before the earthquake, 4.1 million here required humanitarian assistance.
Heartbreaking. Read the rest at the WaPo. There are also many photographs the story.
USA Today has a story about how the Turkey/Syria earthquake compares to others in recent history:100 years of earthquakes: Turkey, Syria disaster could be among this century’s worst.
More than 25,000 people have been killed and the death toll is expected to rise after two earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6. The quakes have become one of this century’s worst natural disasters.
More than 75,000 people have been injured. International rescue efforts from the U.N. and other organizations continue.
The two earthquakes, near the Syrian border, had magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5. They struck about nine hours apart and were the strongest quakes recorded in Turkey in 80 years.
USA TODAY examined earthquake patterns over the past 100 years and how the unfolding tragedy in Turkey and Syria compares. Here is what we found.
See maps and charts at the USA Today link.
The Virginia Six-Year Old Who Shot His Teacher
This is a very interesting investigative piece about the case of a six-year-old boy who shot his first-grade teacher. I can’t do it justice with excerpts, but I’ll give you a taste, and hope you’ll go read the rest.
Hannah Natanson and Justin Jouvenal at The Washington Post: How Richneck Elementary failed to stop a 6-year-old from shooting his teacher.
Abigail Zwerner was frustrated.
It was Jan. 4. A 6-year-old in her first-grade class at Richneck Elementary School had stolen her phone and slammed it to the floor, apparently upset over a schedule change, according to text messages Zwerner sent to a friend.
Administrators, she wrote, were faulting her for the situation.
The 6-year-old “took my phone and smashed it on the ground,” Zwerner wrote in a text message obtained by The Washington Post, “and admin is blaming me.”
Two days later, the 6-year-old told classmates at recess he was going to shoot Zwerner, showed them a gun and its clip tucked into his jacket pocket, and threatened to kill them if they told anyone, according to an attorney for the family of a student who witnessed the threat, offering the first account of events leading to the shooting from someone in Zwerner’s class.
That afternoon, the 6-year-old did as he promised, authorities said — firing a bullet through Zwerner’s upraised hand and into her chest as she was midway through teaching a lesson.
Zwerner’s lawyer and other educators at the Newport News, Va., school have alleged the shooting came after school administrators downplayed repeated warnings from Zwerner and other teachers about the boy. The incident sparked a staffing shake-up at Richneck and the ouster of Superintendent George Parker III.
Administrators had ample warning about the child’s behavior problems.
Teachers’ fears about the 6-year-old date backto his kindergarten year, when he tried to strangle his teacher, according to a letter Zwerner’s attorney sent to the school system Jan. 24 announcing her intent to sue. The letter was first reported by the Daily Press.
“The shooter had been removed from the school a year prior after he chokedhis teacher until she couldn’t breathe,” says the letter, obtained by The Post through a public records request. It was not immediately clear how a boy so young could have choked an adult. The Post was not able to learn other details of the incident and authorities have not released information about the boy.
Early this fall, as Richneck teachers sought to settle their new crop of students inside the low-slung red-brick building nestled amid trees, news of the 6-year-old’s troubled history circulated swiftly among the staff, according to text messages between teachers.
Less than a week into September, officials switched the 6-year-old to a half-day schedule due to misbehavior — but administrators were already lagging in efforts to accommodate the student, according to Toscano’s letter and to text messages sent between Zwerner and a friend of hers who teaches at the school.
It was not clear what specific incident triggered the schedule change.Toscano wrote in her letter that the 6-year-old “constantly cursed at the staff and teachers and then one day took off his belt on the playground and chased kids trying to whip them.”
What was going on in this child’s home life? It certainly seems as if abuse could be a clue to his behavior. And how was he able to get his hands on his mother’s gun, which she claimed was locked in her bedroom closet?
Text messages and a photo shared between teachers show that a student in Zwerner’s class reportedly hit a teacher so hard with a chair that her legs became dotted with green and purple bruises — and that, at another point, a kindergartner was accused of pushing a pregnant teacher to the ground and kicking her in the stomach so hard that she feared for her unborn child, two weeks shy of giving birth. It was not immediately clear how administrators responded to those episodes, although one educator wrote in a text this fall that the bruised teacher had “heard nothing from admin.”
On Nov. 9, the second-grade teacher wrote in a text message to a colleague that she was applying to work in another district because of “how bad the first graders are right now put together with the fact we don’t have doors.”
Yes, you read that right. The classrooms didn’t have doors because the administration said it would cost too much to put them in.
Diane Toscano, Zwerner’s lawyer, has said teachers relayed several warnings to administrators on the morning of the shooting, including at least three reports that the boy had a gun. The Post interviewed a kindergartner who said the boy threatened to punch her at lunch that day and that she informed a staffer — but that the staffer did little more than give the boy a verbal warning.
In the direct aftermath of the shooting, two second-grade classes were left briefly wandering the hallways in search of a safe place to hide because their classroom was not equipped with doors and they had not rehearsed safety drills, according to one second-grade teacher, one fifth-grade teacher and a parent of a second-grade student, as well as text messages obtained by The Post. A second-grade teacher told The Post she had asked to have doors installed but administrators refused, saying the doors would be too expensive.
As someone who attended elementary school in the 1950s, I can’t begin to comprehend what is happening these days. Not only do we have teenagers and adults committing school shootings; there are also 6-10 year-old kid bringing guns to school and even killing other kids. I hope you’ll read this story; it’s both frightening and fascinating.
High-Altitude Flying Object Over Alaska
The New York Times: U.S. Shoots Down High-Altitude Object Over Alaska.
The Pentagon said it shot down an unidentified object over frozen waters around Alaska on Friday at the order of President Biden, less than a week after a U.S. fighter jet brought down a Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic in an episode that increased tensions between Washington and Beijing.
U.S. officials said they could not immediately confirm whether the object was a balloon, but it was traveling at an altitude that made it a potential threat to civilian aircraft.
At a news conference on Friday, John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said Mr. Biden ordered the unidentified object near Alaska downed “out of an abundance of caution.” [….]
Pentagon officials said they were able to immediately bring down the object over water, so they could easily avoid the dilemma posed by the spy balloon drifting over populated areas, which had prompted commanders to recommend to Mr. Biden to wait to shoot down the machine in order to avoid any chance of debris hitting people on the ground.
Three U.S. officials said that as of Friday evening, the government did not know who owned or sent the object seen above Alaska, which, like the Chinese balloon last week, was shot down by an F-22 fighter jet using a Sidewinder air-to-air missile.
Several officials said they believed the object shot down Friday was a balloon, but a Defense Department official said it broke into pieces when it hit the frozen sea, which added to the mystery of whether it was indeed a balloon, a drone or something else.
Mr. Kirby said that the object was “much, much smaller than the spy balloon that we took down last Saturday” and that “the way it was described to me was roughly the size of a small car, as opposed to the payload that was like two or three buses.”
So we still don’t know what this object was. Maybe we’ll find out today.
CNN: Trump team turns over additional classified records and laptop to federal prosecutors.
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team turned over more materials with classified markings and a laptop belonging to an aide to federal prosecutors in recent months, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN.
The Trump attorneys also handed over an empty folder marked “Classified Evening Briefing,” sources said.
The previously undisclosed handovers – from December and January – suggest the protracted effort by the Justice Department to repossess records from Trump’s presidency may not be done.
The Trump attorneys discovered pages with classified markingsin December, while searching through boxes at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence. The lawyers subsequently handed the materials over to the Justice Department.
A Trump aide had previously copied those same pages onto a thumb drive and laptop, not realizing they were classified, sources said. The laptop, which belonged to an aide, who works for Save America PAC, and the thumb drive were also given to investigators in January.
By Ophelia Redpath
Excuse me, how do we know that Trump didn’t order the aide to copy the documents? And how do we know there aren’t other electronic copies out there? I just can’t believe that Trump never shared any of those stolen documents.
NPR: FBI finds an additional classified document during ‘consensual’ search of Pence’s home.
The FBI confirmed it found an additional classified document during a search Friday at the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence.
The search for classified documents as well as materials that aren’t classified but are subject to the Presidential Records Act lasted about five hours. Agents removed one document with classified markings plus six additional pages without classification markings.
The consensual search follows a discovery, relayed by Pence’s representatives to the National Archives and Records Administration last month, that documents bearing classified markings had been, they said, “inadvertently” boxed up and found in the former vice president’s home in Indiana.
This is big news from The New York Times: Trump Lawyer in Mar-a-Lago Search Appeared Before Grand Jury.
A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump appeared before a federal grand jury investigating his handling of sensitive government documents that he took to his Mar-a-Lago club and residence after he left office, two people briefed on the matter said on Friday.
The lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team who handled his responses to the government over its repeated requests for the return of such records, could offer firsthand knowledge of the search the F.B.I. undertook in August and any insights into whether Mr. Trump knew that documents remained at the club.
Mr. Corcoran did not respond to a request for comment. And it was not immediately clear when and under what circumstances he appeared. His appearance was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
Mr. Corcoran has raised eyebrows within the Justice Department for his statements to federal officials assuring them that Mr. Trump had returned all classified materials in his possession.
As part of Mr. Trump’s legal team, Mr. Corcoran was in discussions with the Justice Department in January 2022, after the National Archives and Records Administration recovered 15 boxes of presidential material from Mar-a-Lago containing nearly 200 individual classified documents.
In May 2022, Mr. Corcoran was in touch with the department after a grand jury subpoena was issued for any remaining classified material that Mr. Trump retained. He was also on hand the next month when the top Justice Department counterintelligence official visited Mar-a-Lago and collected more than 30 additional classified documents.
At the time, another lawyer working for Mr. Trump, Christina Bobb, signed a statement attesting that a “diligent search” for all remaining classified documents had been conducted and that what was turned over was all that remained. The attestation was drafted by Mr. Corcoran, but Ms. Bobb added language to it to make it less ironclad before signing it, according to people familiar with what took place.
One more from Raw Story: Pence could be the star witness at Trump’s criminal trial: Watergate prosecutor.
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman explained to MSNBC’s Joy Reid the significance of former Vice President Mike Pence’s cooperation with the Justice Department, as it subpoenas him for information in the January 6 investigation.
Above all, Akerman said, we are approaching the unprecedented possibility that a former vice president may have to testify at the criminal trial of his former president.
“If you had [Pence], you know, as you said, for hours and hours, and hours, what would you want to ask him?” asked Reid. “Myself personally, I would also want to know what the Secret Service agents were saying, did you trust them? Because this could be about Donald Trump, but it could also be about some of them. What would you want to know?”
“Yeah, I think we want to know exactly what his suspicion was based on,” said Akerman. “I mean, why did he think they were trying to whisk him out of the Capitol so quickly? Was it one of the people that was close to Donald Trump that was in charge of doing that? Did somebody say something to him? I mean, I’m sure he knew that part of this whole plot was to stop that vote, stop the Congress from considering the electoral count. And that one way to do it was to get him off premises, get him out of the Capitol. So I think, you know, he probably did have other conversations with people.”
“I mean, don’t forget, once Mike Pence told him there’s no way no how I’m gonna do this, Donald Trump knew that the only way he was going to stop this whole count was through the violence, through the disruption in the chaos that ensued at the Capitol and that one of the ways to do it of course was to get Mike Pence out of the Capitol as a result of all this violence and used the Secret Service as a foil and an excuse to do that,” continued Akerman.
I hope you find something here that interests you. What other stories have you been following?
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