Saturday, December 4, 2021

Chris Cuomo Out at CNN: Network Terminates Prime-Time Host Amid New Revelations of Efforts to Protect His Brother (VIDEO)

Gawd, if they didn't fire the guy...

At NYT, "CNN Fires Chris Cuomo Amid Inquiry Into His Efforts to Aid His Brother":


The star anchor Chris Cuomo was fired by CNN on Saturday, completing a stunning downfall for the network’s top-rated host amid a continuing inquiry into his efforts to help his brother, Andrew M. Cuomo, then the governor of New York, stave off sexual harassment accusations.

The anchor was suspended on Tuesday after testimony and text messages released by the New York attorney general revealed a more intimate and engaged role in his brother’s political affairs than the network said it had previously known.

On Wednesday, Debra S. Katz, a prominent employment lawyer, informed CNN of a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo. Ms. Katz said in a statement on Saturday that the allegation against the anchor, which was made by a former junior colleague at another network, was “unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter.”

It was not fully clear what role the allegation played in CNN’s decision to dismiss Mr. Cuomo. Ms. Katz is also the lawyer for Charlotte Bennett, a onetime aide to Andrew Cuomo who accused the former governor in February of sexual harassment.

Asked about the new allegation, a CNN spokeswoman said in a statement on Saturday night: “Based on the report we received regarding Chris’s conduct with his brother’s defense, we had cause to terminate. When new allegations came to us this week, we took them seriously, and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, Steven Goldberg, said in a statement on Saturday, “These apparently anonymous allegations are not true.”

Ms. Katz said that her client “came forward because she was disgusted by Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements in response to the allegations made against his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.” Ms. Katz cited a March 1 broadcast in which Chris Cuomo said: “I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that.”

Mr. Cuomo’s spokesman responded that the former anchor “fully stands by his on-air statements about his connection to these issues, both professionally and in a profoundly personal way. If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination.”

Earlier on Saturday, CNN said it had “retained a respected law firm to conduct a review” of the anchor’s involvement with Andrew Cuomo’s political team. “While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light,” CNN said. “Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”

As the gregarious and sometimes combative host of CNN’s 9 p.m. hour, Mr. Cuomo was at the peak of a broadcast journalism career that he had forged outside of his famed political family. But it was the troubles of his brother, who resigned the governorship in August, that ultimately embroiled Mr. Cuomo in a controversy that appeared to precipitate his dismissal.

“This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother,” Chris Cuomo said in a statement earlier on Saturday. “So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at ‘Cuomo Prime Time’ and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot.”

Until last month, Mr. Cuomo had enjoyed the support of CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, and he faced no discipline for his behind-the-scenes strategizing with Andrew Cuomo’s political aides, a breach of basic journalistic norms.

But documents released on Nov. 29 revealed that the anchor offered advice on Andrew Cuomo’s public statements and made efforts to uncover the status of pending articles at other news outlets, including The New Yorker and Politico, concerning harassment allegations against the governor.

Mr. Zucker — who had been steadfast in backing Mr. Cuomo, at one point saying the anchor was “human” and facing “very unique circumstances” — informed the anchor on Saturday that he was being fired. “It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved,” Mr. Zucker wrote in a memo to CNN staff. The spectacle of a high-profile anchor advising his powerful politician brother amid scandal was a longstanding headache for many CNN journalists, who privately expressed discomfort at actions that, in their view, compromised the network’s credibility. The CNN anchor Jake Tapper went public with his concerns in May, telling The New York Times that his colleague had “put us in a bad spot,” adding, “I cannot imagine a world in which anybody in journalism thinks that that was appropriate.”

Even so, the timing of Mr. Cuomo’s firing, on a Saturday at 5 p.m., caught many members of the CNN newsroom off guard.

The network’s decision earlier in the week to suspend Mr. Cuomo had left open the possibility that he might return to the channel at a later date. CNN’s chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, speculated on air on Wednesday that it was “possible he’ll be back in January.”

The network said on Tuesday it would begin an internal review of Mr. Cuomo’s conduct. But its executives had not immediately planned to hire an outside law firm, according to a person familiar with the network’s internal decision-making process. That plan changed in recent days, and CNN declined on Saturday to identify the name of the law firm it had retained...

 

 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Cyber Monday

It's tomorrow. 

Interestingly, online shopping was flat this year. Shoppers are getting back out to shopping centers, despite the smash-and-grab crime wave that's been sweeping the country. 

Thanks to everyone who clicks through at my Amazon links to purchase items. It's much appreciated.

Here's some good stuff. 

For the holidays, National Tree Company Pre-lit Artificial Mini Christmas Tree -  Includes Small Lights and Cloth Bag Base - for Tabletop or Desk - Burlap-4 ft, 4', Green.

Also, Enbrighten 37790, Black, Vintage Seasons LED Warm White & Color Changing Café String Lights, 48ft, 24 Premium Impact Resistant Lifetime Bulbs, Wireless, Weatherproof, Indoor/Outdoor, 48 Feet.

And, Achillea Scottish Tartan Plaid Cashmere Feel Winter Warm Scarf Unisex.

Plus, DEWALT 12V MAX LED Work Light, Hand Held (DCL510).

Here, CRAFTSMAN Home Tool Kit / Mechanics Tools Kit, 102-Piece (CMMT99448).

Nice, Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones - Apple W1 Headphone Chip, Class 1 Bluetooth, 22 Hours of Listening Time, Built-in Microphone - Shadow Gray (Latest Model).

BONUS: Karl Ove Knausgaard, The Morning Star: A Novel.

Taliban Covert Operatives Seized Kabul, Other Afghan Cities From Within

Foreign policy is rarely the driving factor in voter choice, but Afghanistan needs to stay in the news, and G.O.P. candidates need to run campaign spots reminding voters of Biden's debacle in Kabul. 

Democrats are quite vulnerable on this issue, and with 11 months until the 2022 midterms, Biden's currently underwater in every single battleground state.

In any case, the Wall Street Journal continues its excellent coverage, here, "Success of Kabul’s undercover network, loyal to the Haqqanis, changed balance of power within Taliban after U.S. withdrawal":

KABUL—Undercover Taliban agents—often clean-shaven, dressed in jeans and sporting sunglasses—spent years infiltrating Afghan government ministries, universities, businesses and aid organizations.

Then, as U.S. forces were completing their withdrawal in August, these operatives stepped out of the shadows in Kabul and other big cities across Afghanistan, surprising their neighbors and colleagues. Pulling their weapons from hiding, they helped the Taliban rapidly seize control from the inside.

The pivotal role played by these clandestine cells is becoming apparent only now, three months after the U.S. pullout. At the time, Afghan cities fell one after another like dominoes with little resistance from the American-backed government’s troops. Kabul collapsed in a matter of hours, with hardly a shot fired.

“We had agents in every organization and department,” boasted Mawlawi Mohammad Salim Saad, a senior Taliban leader who directed suicide-bombing operations and assassinations inside the Afghan capital before its fall. “The units we had already present in Kabul took control of the strategic locations.”

Mr. Saad’s men belong to the so-called Badri force of the Haqqani network, a part of the Taliban that is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. because of its links to al Qaeda. Sitting before a bank of closed-circuit TV monitors in the Kabul airport security command center, which he now oversees, he said, “We had people even in the office that I am occupying today.”

The 20-year war in Afghanistan was often seen as a fight between bands of Taliban insurgents—bearded men operating from mountain hide-outs—and Afghan and U.S. forces struggling to control rural terrain. The endgame, however, was won by a large underground network of urban operatives.

On Aug. 15, after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul, it was these men who seized the capital city while the Taliban’s more conventional forces remained outside.

Mohammad Rahim Omari, a midlevel commander in the Badri force, was working undercover at his family’s gasoline-trading business in Kabul before he was called into action that day. He said he and 12 others were dispatched to an Afghan intelligence service compound in the east of the city, where they disarmed the officers on duty and stopped them from destroying computers and files.

Other cells fanned out to seize other government and military installations and reached Kabul airport, where the U.S. was mounting a massive evacuation effort. They took control of the airport’s perimeter until better-armed Taliban troops arrived from the countryside in the morning. One agent, Mullah Rahim, was even dispatched to secure the Afghan Institute of Archaeology and its treasures from potential looters.

Mr. Omari said the Badri force had compartmentalized cells working on different tasks—armed fighters, fundraisers and those involved with propaganda and recruitment.

“Now these three types of mujahedeen have reunited,” he said. Mr. Omari himself is now deputy police chief in Kabul’s 12th District.

Their success has helped boost the influence of the Haqqanis within the overall Taliban movement. Badri was founded by Badruddin Haqqani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2012. It now is under the ultimate command of his brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is in charge of Afghanistan’s internal security as its new interior minister.

Named after the Battle of Badr that was won by Prophet Muhammad in 624, the Badri force includes several subgroups. The best known is its special-operations unit, Badri 313, whose fighters in high-end helmets and body armor were deployed next to U.S. Marines at the Kabul airport in the two weeks between the fall of Kabul and the completion of the American airlift.

Kamran, who didn’t want his surname to be used, was tasked with taking over his alma mater, Kabul University, and the Ministry of Higher Education.

A 30-year-old from Wardak province west of Kabul, he said he became a Taliban recruiter when he was pursuing a master’s degree in Arabic at the university in 2017. He estimates that, over the years, he persuaded some 500 people, mostly students, to join the insurgency. To maintain his cover, he shaved his chin, wore sunglasses and dressed in suits or jeans.

“Many of our friends who had beards were targeted,” he recalled. “I was above suspicion. While many of our low-ranking friends were arrested, I wasn’t. Even though I was their leader.”

Many of his acquaintances—former classmates, teachers and guards—first realized he was a member of the Taliban when he showed up with a gun on Aug. 15, he said. “Many employees of the ministry and the entire staff of the university knew me. They were surprised to see me,” said Kamran, whose new job is head of security for Kabul’s several universities.

Kamran has since adopted the Taliban’s trademark look: a black turban, a white shalwar kameez and a long beard. As for his suits and jeans, they are gathering dust in his closet. “Those aren’t our traditional outfits,” he said. “I don’t think I will have to wear them again.” Similar Taliban cells operated in other major Afghan cities. In Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest metropolis, university lecturer Ahmad Wali Haqmal said he repeatedly asked Taliban leaders for permission to join the armed struggle against the U.S.-backed government after he completed his bachelor’s degree in Shariah law.

“I was ready to take the AK-47 and go because no Afghan can tolerate the invasion of their country,” he recalled. “But then our elders told us no, don’t come here, stay over there, work in the universities because these are also our people and the media and the world are deceiving them about us.”

The Taliban sent Mr. Haqmal to India to earn a master’s degree in human rights from Aligarh Muslim University, he said. When he returned to Kandahar, he was focused on recruitment and propaganda for the Taliban. After the fall of Kabul, he became the chief spokesman for the Taliban-run finance ministry.

Fereshta Abbasi, an Afghan lawyer, said she had long been suspicious about a man who worked alongside her at a fortified compound, Camp Baron near the Kabul airport, that hosted offices for development projects funded by the U.S. and other Western countries.

But it wasn’t until the day after the fall of Kabul—when the man appeared on television clutching a Kalashnikov rifle—that she discovered he was in fact a Taliban commander. “I was shocked,” said Ms. Abbasi, who is now based in London. The commander, Assad Massoud Kohistani, said in an interview with CNN that women should cover their faces...


 

Smokin' Sunday Women

 On Twitter.

More here and here.

And Bella Thorne.




Representative Rashida Tlaib Struggles to Defend Closure of Federal Prisons

She sponsored a House bill called the BREATHE Act.

It's the Black Live Matter bill. According to Wikipedia:

The BREATHE Act's most notable diversion from past reform efforts is its explicit demand that Congress repeal the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, colloquially known as the "crime bill." For example, the BREATHE Act would repeal the "three-strikes law," which when it passed in 1994 was seen as a rule that would deter repeat criminal activity, and prohibit use of the modern Taser, which was developed in the '90s by a private company and subsequently marketed as a way to prevent police killings as an alternative to firearms.They bill's supporters argue that these practices and policies have been harmful and dangerous.

The bill also stipulates that all federal prisons would be closed within ten years of passage into legislation. This is, in other words, bat-shit crazy.

More here, "The Ghost of Defund Comes for Rashida Tlaib."

And her embarrassing interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan:


 

Democrats Struggle Ahead of 2022

 I love it.

Frankly, there's little more I love than to see Democrats struggle. This like a Christmas present.

At NYT, "Democrats Struggle to Energize Their Base as Frustrations Mount":

Democrats across the party are raising alarms about sinking support among some of their most loyal voters, warning the White House and congressional leadership that they are falling short on campaign promises and leaving their base unsatisfied and unmotivated ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

President Biden has achieved some major victories, signing a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill and moving a nearly $2 trillion social policy and climate change bill through the House. But some Democrats are warning that many of the voters who put them in control of the federal government last year may see little incentive to return to the polls in the midterms — reigniting a debate over electoral strategy that has been raging within the party since 2016.

As the administration focuses on those two bills, a long list of other party priorities — expanding voting rights, enacting criminal justice reform, enshrining abortion rights, raising the federal minimum wage to $15, fixing a broken immigration system — have languished or died in Congress. Negotiations in the Senate are likely to further dilute the economic and climate proposals that animated Mr. Biden’s campaign — if the bill passes at all. And the president’s central promise of healing divisions and lowering the political temperature has failed to be fruitful, as violent language flourishes and threats to lawmakers flood into Congress.

Interviews with Democratic lawmakers, activists and officials in Washington and in key battleground states show a party deeply concerned about retaining its own supporters. Even as strategists and vulnerable incumbents from battleground districts worry about swing voters, others argue that the erosion of crucial segments of the party’s coalition could pose more of a threat in midterm elections that are widely believed to be stacked against it.

Already, Mr. Biden’s approval ratings have taken a sharp fall among some of his core constituencies, showing double-digit declines among Black, Latino, female and young voters. Those drops have led to increased tension between the White House and progressives at a time of heightened political anxiety, after Democrats were caught off-guard by the intensity of the backlash against them in elections earlier this month. Mr. Biden’s plummeting national approval ratings have also raised concerns about whether he would — or should — run for re-election in 2024.

Not all of the blame is being placed squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Biden; a large percentage of frustration is with the Democratic Party itself.

“It’s frustrating to see the Democrats spend all of this time fighting against themselves and to give a perception to the country, which the Republicans are seizing on, that the Democrats can’t govern,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who leads the A.M.E. churches across Georgia. “And some of us are tired of them getting pushed around, because when they get pushed around, African Americans get shoved.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a leading House progressive, warned that the party is at risk of “breaking trust” with vital constituencies, including young people and people of color.

“There’s all this focus on ‘Democrats deliver, Democrats deliver,’ but are they delivering on the things that people are asking for the most right now?” she said in an interview. “In communities like mine, the issues that people are loudest and feel most passionately about are the ones that the party is speaking to the least.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats acknowledge that a significant part of the challenge facing their party is structural: With slim congressional majorities, the party cannot pass anything unless the entire caucus agrees. That empowers moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia to block some of the biggest promises to their supporters, including a broad voting rights bill.

A more aggressive approach may not lead to eventual passage of an immigration or voting rights law, but it would signal to Democrats that Mr. Biden is fighting for them, said Faiz Shakir, a close adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Shakir and others worry that the focus on the two significant pieces of legislation — infrastructure and the spending bill — won’t be enough to energize supporters skeptical of the federal government’s ability to improve their lives.

“I’m a supporter of Biden, a supporter of the agenda, and I’m frustrated and upset with him to allow this to go in the direction it has,” said Mr. Shakir, who managed Mr. Sanders’s presidential run in 2020. “It looks like we have President Manchin instead of President Biden in this debate.”

He added: “It’s made the president look weak.”

The divide over how much attention to devote to staunch Democratic constituencies versus moderate swing voters taps into a political debate that’s long roiled the party: Is it more important to energize the base or to persuade swing voters? And can Democrats do both things at once?

White House advisers argue that winning swing voters, particularly the suburban independents who play an outsize role in battleground districts, is what will keep Democrats in power — or at least curb the scale of their midterm losses. They see the drop among core groups of Democrats as reflective of a challenging political moment — rising inflation, the continued pandemic, uncertainty about schools — rather than unhappiness with the administration’s priorities.

“It’s November of 2021, not September of 2022,” John Anzalone, Mr. Biden’s pollster, said. “If we pass Build Back Better, we have a great message going into the midterms, when the bell rings on Labor Day, about what we’ve done for people.”

Even pared back from the $3.5 trillion plan that Mr. Biden originally sought, the legislation that passed the House earlier this month offers proposals transforming child care, elder care, prescription drugs and financial aid for college, as well as making the largest investment ever to slow climate change. But some of the most popular policies will not be felt by voters until long after the midterm elections, nor will the impact of many of the infrastructure projects.

Already, Democrats face a challenging education effort with voters. According to a survey conducted by Global Strategy Group, a Democratic polling firm, only about a third of white battleground voters think that either infrastructure or the broader spending bill will help them personally. Among white Democratic battleground voters, support for the bills is only 72 percent...

Still more.

 

A Chaotic Rivalry Weekend Sets Up Final Sprint for College Football Playoff Spots (VIDEO)

I watched all three big games: Ohio State at Michigan, Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, and Alabama at Purdue.

All great, especially Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, with four overtimes.

At WSJ, "The semifinal field is still wide open after Michigan defeated Ohio State, Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma and Alabama won ugly in the Iron Bowl":


In Ann Arbor, there was catharsis for Michigan fans. At Auburn, Alabama’s uncharacteristic mistakes set up a quadruple-overtime survival test for the Crimson Tide. And by the time the clock ran out in Stillwater, Okla., the top end of the college football standings had been completely reshuffled.

College’s football’s rivalry weekend brought a huge dose of unanticipated chaos to the College Football Playoff picture. No. 1 Georgia and upstart Cincinnati both remained undefeated. But elsewhere, the top end of the rankings got a major reshuffle.

Michigan has its eye on a playoff spot for the first time after defeating Ohio State 42-27 in a snowy Big House. First it must beat No. 16 Iowa in the Big Ten championship next weekend, however.

Oklahoma State is also eyeing a semifinal debut, having rallied from a nine-point deficit to beat Oklahoma for the first time in seven years and clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game.

Saturday was rougher for No. 3 Alabama, which was held to three points through 59 minutes of the Iron Bowl and needed a last-minute touchdown drive and four additional overtimes to take down a 6-5 Auburn team playing with its second-string quarterback who was visibly injured.

It was an unusually sloppy performance for the Crimson Tide, who tallied 11 penalties for 129 yards. Quarterback Bryce Young, a Heisman Trophy favorite, threw a crucial red-zone interception and completed less than half of his 52 passes, top receiver Jameson Williams got ejected from the game for targeting during a first half kick return and Alabama converted on fourth down just once in four tries. Auburn nearly clinched the game in regulation with just 10 points and 137 total yards of offense.

“I just had a feeling that the way we were playing on defense, that we were going to have some opportunities and be able to come back in the game,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban following the game. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way our players kept competing in the game.”

Oklahoma State also pulled off a second-half comeback in its rivalry game against No. 10 Oklahoma. The Cowboys headed into halftime tied at 24 only to see the Sooners open up a nine-point lead after a special teams gaffe, a missed field goal and a turnover in the third quarter.

Just when everything was going wrong, Oklahoma State clawed its way to a 37-33 lead. Steady defense sealed the deal, breaking up several deep balls to the end zone from Oklahoma’s freshman sensation, quarterback Caleb Williams, then sacking him on the final play of the game...


 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Holiday Shopping

 At Amazon.

Here, LifeSmart HT1013 High Power 1,500 Watt 6 Quartz Element Infrared Large Room 3 Mode Programmable Space Heater w/ Remote and Digital Display.

Also, Christmas Blanket Super Soft Warm Throw Blanket Winter Cardinal Birds Christmas Truck with Xmas Trees Snowman Blanket for Kid Teen Adult (51'' x 59'').

And, Pendleton Outerwear Men's Boulder, Pendleton Iconic RED Buffalo Ombre.

Here's more, Women Knit Wool Beanie - Winter Fashion Solid Wool Hats Real Removable Raccoon Fur Pom Pom Warm Ski Beanie.

Plus, FARVALUE Boy Winter Coat Warm Quilted Puffer Water Resistant Parka Jacket with Detachable Fur Hood for Big Boys.

Okay, The North Face Girls' Gotham Down Parka.

Light, Coleman LED Lantern | 400 Lumens Personal Lantern with 4D Battery.

Heat, DuroMax XP12000EH Generator-12000 Watt Gas or Propane Powered Home Back Up & RV Ready, 50 State Approved Dual Fuel Electric Start Portable Generator, Black and Blue.

BONUS: Joshua Piven, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Expert Advice for Extreme Situations (Survival Handbook, Wilderness Survival Guide, Funny Books) Hardcover.


Mary Grabar, Debunking Howard Zinn

At Amazon, Mary Grabar, Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America.



Boris Johnson Announces New Travel Restrictions (VIDEO)

Following-up, "New South Africa Covid Strain Omicron Sends Shockwaves Across the Globe."

And at the BBC, "LIVE: Travel and face mask rules tightened over new variant."



Caroline Wozniacki

Beautiful family.




Saturday Cartoon

Via Theo Spark.

More at Legal Insurrection, "Branco Cartoon – Enemy Of The State-Run Media."





Saturday Sweeties

On Twitter.

Look at this amazing woman.

And this tattooed one.

BONUS: Malin Ackerman





George Packer, Last Best Hope

At Amazon, George Packer, Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal.




Howard Zinn Poisoned a Generation

 From Mary Grabar, for Prager University:



U.S. Looks to NATO to Deter Russian Aggression as Ukraine Warns of Possible Coup (VIDEO)

Biden won't do anything. And NATO? Pfft. They stood there when Putin annexed the Crimea in 2014, the first territorial revision in Europe since WWII.

At WSJ, "Biden administration considers options from deterrence to diplomacy and wants a NATO meeting next week to discuss common actions":


The Biden administration plans to use a meeting of NATO foreign ministers to focus on how the alliance should respond to Russian military pressure on Ukraine as the Ukrainian president warned Friday of a possible Moscow-backed coup attempt.

The meeting, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, comes amid debate within the alliance’s ranks about how to be firm about the possibility of Russian aggression, as it masses troops near Ukraine, while keeping political channels open to Moscow.

Karen Donfried, the top State Department official for European affairs, said Friday that the U.S. is deeply concerned about “large and unusual” Russian troop movements near Ukraine, which American officials have warned allies could be a prelude to invasion.

She said the U.S. is looking at a range of options and wants to use the NATO meeting to discuss how the alliance can act together.

Although she declined to specify which options are under consideration, they range from more military support for Ukraine to stepped-up diplomacy to de-escalate the conflict, according to U.S. officials.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, accused Russia of backing a plan to overthrow him.

Mr. Zelensky told reporters Friday that he had received information through Ukrainian security services that a coup would be undertaken on Dec. 1-2, according to Ukraine’s national news agency, Ukrinform. He said the Ukrainian government had intelligence as well as audio intercepts in which Russian and Ukrainian conspirators were heard discussing the possible participation of billionaire Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov in the alleged plot.

Mr. Akhmetov’s spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegation.

President Biden said Friday he is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and that “we object to anything remotely approaching” the alleged coup plot. He told reporters in Nantucket, Mass., that he would likely talk with Mr. Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Biden administration has yet to spell out what the consequences of Russian aggression would be.

The gathering of NATO foreign ministers, however, offers an opportunity for the West’s premier military alliance to take a unified stance against Russia’s saber rattling. But the alliance operates on the basis of consensus and perceptions of imminence of Russian action within the organization vary...

Friday, November 26, 2021

Rod Dreher, Live Not By Lies

At Amazon, Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents.




New South Africa Covid Strain Omicron Sends Shockwaves Across the Globe

There's a lot of hype, but Dr. Peter Hotez, at the video, says he's not panicked, as he's not seen anything as infectious as the Delta variant so far. Still, the U.S. has imposed travel bans on eight African nations, and the U.K. announced travel curbs on six nations as well.

At the BBC, "Coronavirus variant fear sparks Africa travel curbs," and the Telegraph U.K. "Coronavirus latest news: EU suspends all flights to southern Africa over omicron Covid variant fears."

More at NYT, "Variant Detected in South Africa Prompts Travel Restrictions":


The World Health Organization said a newly identified coronavirus variant in southern Africa was “of concern” on Friday, as countries around the world moved to restrict travelers arriving from that region to keep it from crossing their borders.

So far, only a few dozen cases of the new variant have been identified in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. There is no proof yet that the variant is more contagious or lethal, or could diminish the protective power of vaccines, but uncertainty on those questions was one factor in the speed of countries’ move toward restrictions.

On Friday evening, the World Health Organization gave the new version of the virus the name Omicron and called it a “variant of concern,” its most serious category. “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” the W.H.O. said in its official description. “Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant.”

Earlier on Friday, the European Commission proposed that its member countries activate the “emergency brake” on travel from countries in southern Africa and other affected countries to limit the spread of the variant.

“All air travel to these countries should be suspended until we have a clear understanding about the danger posed by this new variant,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive arm, said in a statement. “And travelers returning from this region should respect strict quarantine rules.”

In the past, governments have taken days, weeks or months to issue travel restrictions in response to new variants. This time, however, restrictions came within hours of South Africa’s announcement. At least 10 countries around the world had announced measures before South African scientists finished a meeting with World Health Organization experts about the variant on Friday.

The United States and Canada announced restrictions on travelers arriving from countries in southern Africa. Other governments that halted or restricted flights from South Africa included Bahrain, Belgium, Britain, Croatia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malta, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore.

The new variant, initially called B.1.1.529, has a “very unusual constellation of mutations,” according to Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform. On the protein that helps to create an entry point for the coronavirus to infect human cells, the variant has 10 mutations, many more than the highly contagious Delta variant, Professor de Oliveira said.

Still, even epidemiologists who have been the most outspoken in supporting precautions against the virus urged calm on Friday, noting that little is known about the variant and that several seemingly threatening variants have come and gone in recent months.

“Substantively NOTHING is known about the new variant,” Roberto Burioni, a leading Italian virologist, wrote on Twitter, adding that people should not panic...


 

Dow-Jones Industrial Average Suffers Worst Trading Day of 2021

My retirement funds are getting bashed.

At WSJ, "Stocks, Oil Drop Sharply on Concerns Over New Covid-19 Variant":

Stocks, oil prices and government-bond yields slumped after South Africa raised the alarm over a fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus, triggering concern that travel restrictions and other curbs will spoil the global economy’s recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 905.04 points, or 2.5%, to 34899.34. It was the Dow’s biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2020.

The S&P 500 lost 106.84 points, or 2.3%, to 4594.62 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 353.57 points, or 2.2%, to 15491.66. It was the worst Black Friday session on record for all three indexes. Markets closed early because of the holiday.

U.S. crude oil tumbled 13% to $68.15. Traders fretted that lockdowns could reduce demand for transportation fuels. Bitcoin, following the path of other risk assets, skidded lower.

“It’s not a great day to wake up on Black Friday and see news about a concerning variant,” said Jessica Bemer, a portfolio manager at Easterly Investment Partners.

Investors reached for safe havens. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note tumbled to 1.484% from 1.644% before the Thanksgiving break, its biggest drop since March 2020. Gold, another perceived store of value when riskier assets retreat, rose 0.1% to $1,785.30 a troy ounce.

The pullback created whiplash for markets that had, to a great extent, parked worries about coronavirus.

Scientists say the new coronavirus variant, dubbed B.1.1.529, has a high number of mutations that may make it more transmissible and allow it to evade some of the immune responses triggered by previous infection or vaccination. Dozens of countries have already imposed travel restrictions to and from southern Africa.

Investors feared the strain could set back months of efforts to revive the world economy and save lives.

“For now, Covid is back on the table,” said Takeo Kamai, head of execution services at CLSA in Tokyo.

Investors seemed to be following the playbook they pulled out early in the pandemic: sell travel stocks, buy work-from-home stocks. “This is a market that is well practiced in terms of reacting to Covid,” Ms. Bemer said.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines Group all dropped 8% or more, after the U.K., Israel and Singapore restricted travel from southern Africa. The European Union said it would propose stopping air travel from the region. Cruise stocks including Royal Caribbean Group were hammered, while Exxon Mobil fell 3.5%, or $2.23, to $61.25. Chevron fell 2.3%, or $2.68, to $114.51.

Moderna rose 21%, or $56.24, to $329.63. Pfizer gained 6.1%, or $3.11. to $54. Netflix and DoorDash, which previously benefited from stay-at-home orders, rose 1.1% and 1.6%, respectively.

The World Health Organization on Friday said the new strain was a “variant of concern.” Rising caseloads of other variants have already led some European countries to tighten rules for transportation, shopping and workplaces.

Many U.S. investors had taken the day off, extending their Thanksgiving holiday. Ms. Bemer said she’d planned on working Friday, though she was staying with relatives for the holiday. “It’s a busier day than we expected,” she said.

The combined trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq was about 6.9 billion shares. The average Black Friday volume since 2007 has been 2.9 billion shares, according to FactSet.

Oil prices experienced some of the biggest declines. Traders said money managers were rushing to unwind wagers that a mismatch between tight supplies and rising demand would push crude prices toward $100 a barrel. The swoon might encourage the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and a group of Russia-led allies to pause steps to pump more oil when they meet next week.

“If the announcement is, the vaccine works on this, back up we go,” said Adam Webb, chief investment officer of Blue Creek Capital Management. “If the vaccines don’t work against it, then good night Vienna.”

Money managers said that even if the variant proves more resistant to vaccines than earlier strains, there were reasons to think the economic damage could be contained. MRNA vaccines, such as those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, can be quickly updated, and businesses have adapted to containment measures, ensuring that the blow from each lockdown has lessened.

However, elevated inflation could prevent central banks and governments from spraying economies with stimulus in the event of renewed widespread lockdowns...


 

Holiday Babes

She's a beauty, on Twitter.

And here's lovely Roberta

And more here.







Speaking of CNN

Kaitlin Collins, at the previous post, is the evening White House correspondent and appears regularly with my man, Wolf Blizter, seen here enjoying the day off for Thanksgiving.



Kaitln Collins is CNN's Resident #RollTide Expert (VIDEO)

Yep, she's a graduate of the University of Alabama and a big booster of the Crimson Tide. 

She discusses Coach Nick Saban's tirade against the team's entitled, insolent fans, here: "Nick Saban sounds off on 'self-absorbed' Alabama fans in emotional radio show rant."



Thursday, November 25, 2021

The War on Thanksgiving

Hey, it's that special day when deranged "progressive" extremists dunk on U.S. colonialism, genocide, imperialism, racism, and all the other evils of AmeriKKK.

Check out Matt Tabbai: 


In the space of a generation America has gone from being a country brimming with undeserved over-confidence, to one whose intellectual culture has turned into an agonizing, apparently interminable run of performative self-flagellation.

More at Memorandum, "The War on Thanksgiving Is America at Its Worst.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History

At Amazon, M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies.




John Kass on Kyle Rittenhouse

See, "If only Kyle Rittenhouse could ask Biden and media: “Have you no sense of decency?”":

A jury has loudly issued “not guilty” verdicts in the malignant political prosecution of Illinois teenager Kyle Rittenhouse.

And now, what next?

What happens to corporate media—and its phony social justice warrior pundits–who savaged Rittenhouse and used race, when race had nothing to do with the case? They egged on the mob that screamed for the young man’s head on a pike, and now they’re still at it even after the verdict. They got their clicks out of him, and now they expect what, exactly? That we’ll forget how they howled even before the first witness testified?

And what of the politicians, from President Joe Biden on down, who falsely and maliciously defamed the teenager as a “white supremacist” before trial, though no such evidence was ever presented. Biden and company fed him to the mob, stepping on justice for votes.

Can you sue a president for libel, even a witless meat puppet like The Big Guy?

The thing is tragic. Two men are dead. I don’t consider him a hero. He’ll carry the stain of this forever. The kid should never have been there that night with his gun in the chaos of the riots in Kenosha. But he was there, as the governor and mayor pulled law enforcement back, leaving Kenosha’s streets to the violent.

And in America, for now at least, you can still defend your life when a mob tries to take it from you.

At least the jury got it right. They heard the evidence. They considered the testimony and acquitted Rittenhouse. He shot three men in self defense, one who tried to bash his head in with a skateboard, one who tried to take his gun, and the third who pointed a gun at him. Two of them died. And again, the mayor and the governor had withdrawn law enforcement, turning the streets over to the rioters who burned buildings that some fools in media called a “mostly peaceful” protest.

The prosecution revealed itself to be purely political, rushing to charge Rittenhouse before all the facts were in. And they failed.

If they’d succeeded, the kid who cried on the witness stand could have been sentenced to life in prison. How would he survive inside, a kid like that? He wouldn’t. A kid like that wouldn’t survive five minutes. The media that twisted and shaped the facts to suit a political narrative, and politicians who benefitted from narrative support would have moved on with their lives. And as they heaped glory on themselves, Rittenhouse, if put in a state prison, would be dead or wish he were dead every minute of his life.

So he’s free. I wonder if Biden and his Democrat and media allies ever read “The Ox-Bow Incident” that was made into a great classic movie in the early 1940s. It is about a posse that becomes righteous and lynches three innocent men. I suspect a few politicians and media read it, at least those who read more than their own Twitter feeds. And I’ve got to believe Biden read it, and watched the movie. He certainly was lucid enough back then to have handled it. Now, I don’t think so.

For years “The Ox-Bow Incident” was a favorite of liberal teachers and professors, who had lived through the McCarthy era and the “Red Scare,” when it was the political right making accusations and stoking anger through media. Sen. McCarthy’s political reign of terror ended as he hunted for Communists in the U.S. Army. Joseph N. Welch, the lawyer for the Army, confronted McCarthy at a public hearing with this withering question:

“Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

Things change and parallels are conveniently forgotten or ignored. Because now it is the left that goes out hunting for witches in the Armed Forces. Democrats shut their mouths and don’t dare ask the inquisitors if they’ve lost their sense of decency. Careerist generals, their fingers in the wind, have eagerly gone woke reading “White Fragility.”

Now that the jury has cleared Rittenhouse, mealy mouths pipe up and ask us to move past it all. I don’t want us to move past it. And I make a simple request: Don’t forget what politicians, prosecutors and media have done.

If you do want to forget what happened, to make things easier for yourself, at least be honest about the cost of forgetting. Forget, move past it, and you’re inviting the next mob to grab blind Lady Justice by the hair, strip off her blindfold, and bend her to their political will. And if their politics aren’t your politics, you will pay for it. That’s where America is now, lusting for tribal justice, not blind justice.

Imagine your son or daughter in the middle of it all, or yourself or your friends, your neighbors professing innocence and being drowned out by the political barking dogs. In this case, the Kenosha jury stood up, and refused to cave to pressure. They were deliberate. They were careful. They saw that prosecutorial overreach had little in common to the reality they’d lived through in Kenosha. But the next time? Who can say? Is that what you want for America?

If you don’t want to forget, all you have to do is Google your favorite social justice warrior pundit and search out what they said and wrote in August of 2020, when the streets of Kenosha were on fire.

I’d recommend that you also read Miranda Devine of The New York Post. She recently compiled a list of ten debunked lies that were told about Rittenhouse. Or read Bari Weis on Substack, “The Media’s Verdict on Kyle Rittenhouse: Why so many got this story so wrong.”

The media got it wrong the way they’ve gotten other stories wrong, and for the same reasons, from media attacks on innocent Covington, Ky. teenager Nicholas Sandman, or media stubbornly pushing the false “Russia Collusion” narrative that is now completely falling apart. Will the Washington Post and the New York Times return their Pulitzer Prizes that were based on the Russia Hoax lie? They should, immediately. But they won’t...

Still more.


 

Wednesday Women

On Twitter.

And, "Let's play hot."

Plus, a darling babe here

More here, a Hot Reddit Babe Delbabyx.




Why the Left Must Start Caring About Its Victims

It's Michael Shellenbarger, at London's Daily Mail, "The Waukesha Christmas parade slaughter exposes the deadly insanity of the progressive left's drive to protect alleged criminals at the expense of crime victims":

Milwaukee's District Attorney John Chisholm admitted on Monday that the $1,000 bail that released Darrell Brooks Jr., the man who went on to kill at least six people at a Christmas parade in Wisconsin, was 'unacceptably low.'

But Brooks, a repeat offender, was just one of several men to have been charged with serious crimes, who had recently been given relatively low cash bails and diverted away from pre-trial detention by Chisholm and Milwaukee judges.

On November 11, Kenneth Burney was charged with four counts of attempted murder.

Burney reportedly shot and wounded at least three Wauwatosa police officers in a hotel, while he awaited trial for serious charges including 'disorderly conduct with use of a dangerous weapon as a habitual criminality repeater and with domestic abuse assessments.'

Burney was reportedly released on a $1,000 signature bond in March. A signature bond does not require a defendant to deposit any money. It only asks for a promise to pay the bond if they fail to show up at trial.

On November 13, Michael Dabney was charged with 1st-Degree Intentional Homicide, while he awaited trial for 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety involving use of a weapon. His bail was set higher at $10,000.

But Dabney posted bail and was later accused by police of killing a woman and attempting to make it look like a suicide.

All three men had supposedly been under the supervision of the same non-profit diversion program, JusticePoint.

How many lives could have been saved and how many fewer people would have been victimized, had Brooks, Burney, and Dabney, been kept in jail? We do not yet know because the reports that JusticePoint was supposed to file with the Milwaukee Board of Supervisors in 2020 or 2021 are not available on its web site, and the reports for 2017 through 2019 are incomplete, according to an investigation by Bill Osmulski of the MacIver Institute.

Calls to JusticePoint and to the Milwaukee Board of Supervisors requesting the reports were not returned.

What we do know is that some defendants facing serious crimes, some sickeningly similar to the circumstances of the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy, were given low cash bails and released awaiting trial in Milwaukee county.

The MacIver Institute found that defendants charged with crimes like felony hit and run 'are often released without any kind of supervision at all.'

In 2019, 'judges have released 11 of 31 defendants charged with hit and run involving injury or great bodily harm without supervision. Their bail was set as low as $250.'

Regardless of the specifics, the Waukesha killings points to how progressive prosecutors, judges, and policymakers are sacrificing public safety on the altar of reducing incarceration at all costs, ostensibly to reduce racial inequities, namely the disproportionately high representation of African Americans in prison. But the main reason for high levels of incarceration isn't because America is a racist society, it's because we're a violent society. The homicide rate in the United States is four times as high as that of France and Britain and more than five times higher than Australia's. Rising incarceration rates in the past reflected rising rates of violent crime. From 1990 to 2010, two-thirds of the increase in inmates nationwide came from people convicted of violent offenses.

It's true that black people are more likely to receive higher bail requirements for the same crime, to be offered plea bargains that include jail time, and to be incarcerated while waiting for trial, than white people. And African Americans are more likely to be charged with low-level offenses, fined for jaywalking, and have their probation revoked, than white people.

Black Americans are also seven to eight times more likely to commit and die from homicide than white Americans. In 2019, the homicide rate for white people was 2.3 per 100,000 whereas it was 17.4 for black people. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 81% of white victims are killed by white offenders, and 89% of black victims are killed by black offenders.

Our goal should thus be first and foremost on reducing violent crime, which has the secondary benefit of reducing incarceration. And yet the focus of progressives has over the last two decades been narrowly on reducing racial inequity in incarceration.

When District Attorney Chisholm was elected in 2007, he announced that he was seeking to send fewer people to prison even though he knew it would result in homicides. 'Is there going to be an individual I divert, or put into a program, who's going to go out and kill? You bet.'

By diverting even people who attempted homicide, like Brooks, Jr. did of his girlfriend, progressives like Chisholm have been removing the threat of jail from the calculus of criminals. In 2007, the homicide rate in Milwaukee was 12 per every 100,000 people. It rose to 25 in 2015, fell to 17 per 100,000 in 2019, and leapt to 33 in 2020.

In 2019, Milwaukee judges diverted every single one of the 19 people charged with murder into JusticePoint, rather than hold them in jail, Osmulski found. And, between 2017 and 2018, the share of defendants that committed a new crime while under Justice Point's supervision increased from 8 percent to 13 percent.

But another factor behind rising homicides has been the progressive demonization of police which, demoralizes police officers, leading them to withdraw from policing, and emboldens criminals.

In 2014, the police chief of St. Louis described less aggressive policing and more empowered criminals as the 'Ferguson effect.' Three months earlier, a white police officer in nearby Ferguson had killed an unarmed eighteen-year-old black teenager. 'I see it not only on the law enforcement side,' said the chief, 'but the criminal element is feeling empowered by the environment.'

In 2015, the US Department of Justice asked one of the country's leading criminologists, Richard Rosenfeld from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, to investigate whether homicides had, in fact, risen after Ferguson. At first, Rosenfeld was skeptical. He noted that homicides in St. Louis had already started rising before 2014...


 

Must-Read Freddie deBoer

 Ms. Weiss is right. 

You gotta read this Freddie piece multiple times just to be amazed at how astonishing is his writing.



Donald Trump's Voter-Fraud Claims Are Turning Into Litmus Test for Republicans Office-Seekers

I'm tired of talking about voter fraud, but if this is what fires up the base, what the hell?

At WSJ, "Trump’s False Claims of Voter Fraud Test Republican Candidates":

WASHINGTON—Former President Donald Trump’s yearlong campaign falsely claiming he won the 2020 election and demanding redress is turning voter fraud into a litmus test for Republicans seeking office as the party seeks to reclaim the House and Senate in 2022.

Mr. Trump has told advisers the issue will help the party win control of Congress next year and win back the White House in 2024. He has privately floated the possibility of an early presidential campaign announcement to underscore the message to conservative voters.

Many Republican candidates have fallen in line. Some have refused to concede defeats from 2020—and, like Mr. Trump, used fraud claims to raise money. Others seeking office have tailored their campaign messages to echo Mr. Trump’s claim that he won to avoid facing a backlash from his supporters.

Still other Republicans, including Glenn Youngkin, who won the Virginia governor’s race earlier this month, have aimed to navigate the issue by sidestepping many of Mr. Trump’s election-fraud claims without disavowing the man himself. Meanwhile, several of the former president’s most persistent Republican critics, such as six-term Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, have said they aren’t running for re-election. On the local level, some election chiefs have been harassed and subject to intimidation for refusing to say the vote counting isn’t secure. A wave of election officials and longtime professional staff have left their jobs under pressure.

The message appears to be contributing to eroding confidence in the nation’s election systems—similar to the long-running decline of faith in civic institutions such as the government, the criminal justice system and the media. In October, a Grinnell College poll found that 58% of Americans were very or somewhat confident that the 2022 vote will be counted fairly. Confidence among Republicans was at just 38%, down from 85% in March 2020.

In the wake of last year’s election, Mr. Trump’s campaign and his allies lost dozens of lawsuits around the country that challenged the 2020 results. The Justice Department said there were no signs of widespread fraud. A bipartisan consortium of local, state and federal election officials declared the 2020 race the most secure U.S. election in history.

But Mr. Trump never conceded, and a year later continues to press his case. Last month he sent a letter to The Wall Street Journal editorial board making multiple false claims about the results in Pennsylvania. In a recent interview, he raised doubts about the coming elections. “A lot of people are worried that if we don’t take care of that issue, you’re going to have a problem in ’22 and ’24,” Mr. Trump said. “They don’t want the same thing to happen where the election is rigged. I’m very concerned that the elections are going to be rigged.”

Following his example, some other Republican candidates haven’t conceded their 2020 losses.

In Pennsylvania, Republican Sean Parnell hasn’t conceded in a western Pennsylvania House race he lost last year by 2.3 percentage points—a narrow defeat but more than four times the margin required to trigger an automatic recount in the state. Mr. Trump cited unfounded claims about irregularities in Mr. Parnell’s race when he endorsed the candidate, an author and former Army Ranger, in a crowded primary for the state’s Republican Senate nomination next year. Mr. Parnell quit the race Monday.

In Washington state, Republican Loren Culp refused to concede after failing to unseat Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, in 2020. Mr. Culp is one of several primary challengers for Rep. Dan Newhouse who, like Mr. Kinzinger, is one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump on charges that his election-fraud claims incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Mr. Trump’s campaign and support across the party has further inflamed state and local battles over voting rights and regulations. Republicans have sponsored more than 100 new state laws this year making changes to elections and election procedures, saying wider embrace of tactics such as mail-in voting and expanded hours—in some cases introduced during the pandemic—call for new rules to prevent fraud or abuse. Mr. Trump has often praised the new proposals.

Democrats have called the wave of measures a restrictive assault on voting rights and a threat to democracy that are driven by Mr. Trump’s fraudulent claims....

All Three Defendants Convicted of Murder in Ahmaud Arbery Lynching

Very emotional and uplifting press conference.

Spiritual. Grateful for the grace of God.

At NYT, "Three Men Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery: Defendants Face Up to Life in Prison":


BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Three white men were found guilty of murder and other charges on Wednesday for the pursuit and fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, in a case that, together with the killing of George Floyd, helped inspire the racial justice protests of last year.

The three defendants — Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — face sentences of up to life in prison for the state crimes. The men have also been indicted on separate federal charges, including hate crimes and attempted kidnapping, and are expected to stand trial in February on those charges.

The verdict suggested that the jury agreed with prosecutors’ arguments that Mr. Arbery posed no imminent threat to the men and that the men had no reason to believe he had committed a crime, giving them no legal right to chase him through their suburban neighborhood. “You can’t start it and claim self-defense,” the lead prosecutor argued in her closing statements. “And they started this.”

Though the killing of Mr. Arbery in February 2020 did not reach the same level of notoriety as the case of Mr. Floyd, the Black man murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer three months later, Mr. Arbery’s death helped fuel widespread demonstrations and unrest that unfolded in cities across the country in the spring and summer of 2020.

The case touched on some of the most combustible themes in American criminal justice, including vigilantism, self-defense laws, the effects of widespread gun ownership and the role of race in jury selection.

Like many other recent episodes involving the killing of Black people, the confrontation was captured on video that was eventually made public. Unlike many of the others, the video was made not by a bystander but by one of the defendants, Mr. Bryan.

From the beginning, Mr. Arbery’s family and friends raised questions about local officials’ handling of the case. The three men who were later charged walked free for several weeks after the shooting, and were arrested only after the video was released, a national outcry swelled and the case was taken over by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Jackie Johnson, the local prosecutor who initially handled the case, lost her bid for re-election in 2020 and was indicted this year by a Georgia grand jury, accused of “showing favor and affection” to Gregory McMichael, a former investigator in her office, and for directing police officers not to arrest Travis McMichael. The case was ultimately tried by the district attorney’s office in Cobb County, which is roughly 300 miles away from Brunswick in metropolitan Atlanta.

The case brought political and legal upheaval. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed a hate-crimes statute into law, and sided with state lawmakers when they voted to repeal significant portions of the state’s citizen’s arrest statute.

During the trial, defense lawyers relied on that citizen’s arrest law, which was enacted in the 19th century. They argued that their clients had acted legally when, on a sunny Sunday afternoon in February 2020, they set out in two pickup trucks in an effort to detain Mr. Arbery, an avid jogger and former high school football player who spent nearly five minutes trying to run away from them.

Eventually trapped between the two pickup trucks, Mr. Arbery ended up in a confrontation with Travis McMichael, who was armed with a shotgun and fired at Mr. Arbery three times at close range. Mr. McMichael testified that he feared that Mr. Arbery, who had no weapon, would get control of the shotgun from him and threaten his life.

Over the 10 days of testimony in the trial, prosecutors challenged the idea that an unarmed man who never spoke to his pursuers could be considered much of a threat at all.

“What’s Mr. Arbery doing?” Linda Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor said in her closing statement. “He runs away from them. And runs away from them. And runs away from them.”

The verdict, read aloud in a packed, windowless courtroom in the Glynn County Courthouse, came at a time when Americans were already divided over the acquittal, a few days earlier, of Kyle Rittenhouse. Mr. Rittenhouse, who asserted that he was acting in self-defense, fatally shot two men and wounded another during protests and violence that broke out after a white police officer shot a Black man in Kenosha, Wis.

Before the verdict in the Georgia case, some observers worried that the racial makeup of the jury — which included 11 white people and one Black person — would skew justice in the defendants’ favor.

Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley oversaw the proceedings. When he approved the selection of the nearly all-white jury, he noted that there was an appearance of “intentional discrimination” at play, but he said that defense lawyers had given legitimate reasons unrelated to race when they moved to exclude eight Black potential jurors in the final stages of the selection process.

Before the verdict, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Mr. Arbery’s mother, said she had faith in the power of the facts that the jurors were shown. “I’m very confident that they’ll make the right decision once they see all of the evidence,” she said.

Mr. Arbery’s family said he was out jogging on the day of his death, but defense lawyers said no evidence had emerged to show that Mr. Arbery jogged that day into the defendants’ neighborhood of Satilla Shores, just outside of Brunswick, a small coastal city.

Video footage showed Mr. Arbery, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, walking into a partially built house in the neighborhood shortly before he was killed. It was a house he had walked into numerous times before. Each time, surveillance video showed him wandering around the property, but not taking or damaging anything. The owner of the house told police that items had been stolen from a boat that was sometimes stored on the property, though he was not sure the boat was there when the thefts occurred.

General concerns about property crime in Satilla Shores were widespread in early 2020, residents testified at the trial.

Travis McMichael told the police that he had seen Mr. Arbery outside the partially built house one evening 12 days before the shooting. During that encounter, Mr. McMichael said, Mr. Arbery put his hands in his waistband, as if reaching for a gun. Mr. McMichael called 911 that evening. Mr. Arbery ran away.

On the day of the shooting, a neighbor across the street saw Mr. Arbery in the house and called the police. Mr. Arbery left the house soon after, and ran down the street. Gregory McMichael spotted him and, along with his son, jumped into a truck and gave chase. Moments later, the third defendant, Mr. Bryan, began chasing Mr. Arbery as well.

At the trial, defense lawyers sought to show that the men were acting that day out of a “duty and responsibility” to detain a man whom they felt they had reasonable grounds to believe was a burglar, as Robert Rubin, a lawyer for Travis McMichael, put it. In her closing argument, Laura D. Hogue, a lawyer for Gregory McMichael, noted that Mr. Arbery had been on the property before and said he had become “a recurring nighttime intruder — and that is frightening, and unsettling.”

Travis McMichael was the only defendant to take the stand. He told the court he took his shotgun out during the pursuit because his U.S. Coast Guard training had taught him that showing a weapon could de-escalate a potentially violent situation.

He testified that he believed he had little choice but to shoot Mr. Arbery once they clashed...

More at Memeorandum.

And from Ed Driscoll, at Instapundit, "AHMAUD ARBERY CASE: Jury finds Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Ryan, guilty of felony murder, among other charges."

Batya Ungar-Sargon tweets:




Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Vivek Ramaswamy, Woke, Inc.

At Amazon, Vivek Ramaswamy, Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam.




Sixth Victim Has Died After Deadly Car Attack at Waukesha Christmas Parade (VIDEO)

One the kids has passed away. 

How awful. Terrible. Tragic.

Scroll down, at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Sixth person, an 8-year-old boy, dies from parade injuries":

Jackson Sparks, an 8-year-old boy who was marching in the Waukesha Christmas Parade with his baseball team, has died from his injuries.


 

Kenosha, Portland, and the Lies

From Nancy Rommelman, at NYT, "Kenosha, Portland, and the Lies We Must Leave Behind":


On Aug. 25, 2020, violence was exploding on the streets of Kenosha, Wis., two days after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Anyone who had been paying attention since the killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis on May 25 most likely had one of two reactions: “Why is this happening? It’s unjustifiable” or “Of course this is happening, it’s completely justifiable.”

The violence in Kenosha was part of a familiar pattern. In cities across America, amid the upswelling of peaceful protest against racism and police brutality there were repeated episodes of rioting, looting and vandalism. This pattern was polarizing: Each act of violence, each injured participant or bystander, further entrenched the conviction that something was very, very wrong with the other side.

I was at the time reporting from the streets of Portland, Ore., covering the nightly rampages over the course of five months: the setting of fires at police stations and offices, the smashing of storefronts, the battling with forces the Trump administration had sent to protect the federal courthouse. It was an ecstatic experience for some of those young rioters, to be free after months of Covid sequestration, to be taking it to Mr. Trump’s goons and the police, to be, by their lights, able both to save the world and to experience a nightly spurt of relief.

But every morning the streets looked worse, the ideals for which the non-peaceful protesters believed they were fighting not any closer, in fact not in evidence at all. It was often broken glass and ashes, and the riots would happen for 100 nights running and on into 2021. More than once, I heard people refer to what was going on as Groundhog Night, and I wondered, more than once, if anything would shake them from their mission, such as it was. I also wondered when the media was going to do what I felt was our job to do: Report what we saw as clearly and calmly as we could, in order to give the public the information they needed to be informed, form their own opinions and make rational choices.

Along with many Americans, I watched coverage of the Kenosha riots on television. I experienced the cognitive dissonance others did, seeing the live CNN shot of a reporter standing before a conflagration while the chyron read, “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting.” This mismatch mirrored my experience with how much of the news from Portland was being reported, which often sought to present the protesters as only on the defensive, rarely the instigators, as if pointing out any bad actors ran the risk of tarring the entire protest movement.

It was bold that CNN believed its viewers capable of covering one eye, so to speak, so that the picture made sense. But it was also unsurprising, given that the station was constructing that picture, choosing the images that helped confirm viewers’ convictions (just as Fox News did, with Sean Hannity telling viewers that Portland had “been ripped apart by a group of malicious so-called anarchists” and calling the city a “war zone”; Laura Ingraham peddling the theory that 2020s California wildfires had been set “intentionally” by people “including antifa” and using the riots as an election year cudgel, warning that under President Biden the “whole country” would “look like Portland”).

I found these tactical framings reprehensible. How could anyone in good conscience use the looting and burning of people’s livelihoods as fuel for their ideological fires? It made me wonder if those who framed the destruction to fit their own means understood they were supporting violence against the working class and, often, people of color; that by their explicit or tacit encouragement, they were as good as standing on the sidelines cheering as people’s lives were burned to the ground. And if it was OK to destroy property today, what would they be able to see their way past tomorrow?

I would almost immediately have a chance to find out. On Aug. 29, Aaron Danielson, a Trump supporter and member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, was shot dead after participating in a pro-Trump caravan on the streets of Portland. The man suspected of killing him, Michael Reinoehl, was an antifa supporter who claimed to have been acting in defense of himself and others. The story, predictably, became a Rorschach test, some on the left seeing it as evidence that, as a woman who’d never met Mr. Danielson shouted through a bullhorn: “Our community can hold its own without the police. We can take out the trash on our own.” She added that she was “not sad” that a “fascist died tonight,” deriding Mr. Danielson with an expletive. Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, tried to tighten security by fortifying the local police with nearby sheriff’s deputies and Oregon State Police troopers. But the sheriffs of Clackamas and Washington Counties rejected the governor’s plan, taking pains to criticize Portland’s approach to crime as they did so.

After Mr. Reinoehl was killed by officers from a federally led fugitive task force on Sept. 3, there were attempts on the left to lionize him as a casualty of the fight for racial justice. The standoff, even with lives at risk, reified for me how spring-loaded people were for the other side to be at fault, how ready to refashion events into what could be seen as useful weaponry.

Kyle Rittenhouse says he went into the streets of Kenosha with the mission to protect property and people. His father and other relatives lived in Kenosha, he had worked as a lifeguard there, and had a military-style semiautomatic rifle stashed at the home of a friend’s stepfather. The night of Aug. 25, Mr. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, carrying a first aid kit and the rifle, waded into the mayhem with hazy ideas of helping, maybe of heroics. He ended up killing two men and badly injuring another. That it went terribly wrong is inarguable.

Also inarguable is that many see Mr. Rittenhouse as symbolic of the very worst of the other side. There is no hope of consensus regarding what happened in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. There are those who believe that Mr. Rittenhouse’s actions were sensible or even laudable — the city had descended into lawlessness; the teenager, however benightedly, believed that he could offer some semblance of protection...

 

Hey, I'm a Raiders Fan Too!

I just pray they'll win a game or two, sheesh.

Via Lady Lake, "Revisiting the women who wear Daisy Dukes."

ADDED: Dua Lipa Photos.




Monday, November 22, 2021

Think Gas Prices Are Too High? In This California County, a Gallon Costs $6

Shoot, I see signs for $6.00 in Santa Monica. It ain't just one county.

At WSJ, "Mono County, Calif., has the highest gasoline prices in the state with the country’s top prices as costs soar across the U.S.":


BRIDGEPORT, Calif.—When Miguel Lujan needs gasoline for his truck, he gets it in Carson City, Nev., located 80 miles from his hometown. It’s worth it, the store clerk and roller-derby player says, to pay one-third less than the local average of nearly $6 a gallon.

California currently has the highest gas prices in the nation, an average of $4.70 a gallon of regular unleaded, according to AAA. Gasoline prices in the U.S. were up 50% in October from the same month last year, amid rising inflation.

The most expensive gas in California is here in Mono County, a 13,000-person tourist destination on the border with Nevada that is home to the Mammoth Mountain ski resort. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $5.66, according to AAA.

In Bridgeport, a town of about 550 that serves as the county seat, the two gas stations were selling regular unleaded for $5.95 and $5.99 a gallon last week. In the nearby town of Lee Vining, which serves as a gateway to Yosemite National Park, a gallon of regular cost $6.09.

Mr. Lujan said he makes the trip to Carson City about three times a week and sometimes takes the bus to save on gas. He fills canisters, routinely keeping about 100 gallons stored in his house.

He started buying gas out of state soon after moving to Mono County four years ago. “The first year I was here, I spent more on gas than anything else,” he said.

President Biden on Wednesday called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil-and-gas companies are illegally keeping prices high. Outside analysts were skeptical whether the FTC will find sufficient evidence to substantiate those claims.

California has long had the highest gasoline prices in America. It has the highest tax, at nearly 67 cents a gallon, and only a few aging refineries, which sometimes go offline because of maintenance or other issues, are capable of producing gasoline that meets the state’s standards meant to reduce air pollution.

Though $5.66 represents a new high, inflated gas prices are nothing new in Mono County. Local residents and analysts attribute that to a variety of factors including its distance from population centers from which deliveries including gasoline come. Sacramento, the closest major city, is about 200 miles northeast.

Even with the high prices, gas stations are able to operate primarily because of tourists who buy gas on their way through, according to Linda Smith, a clerk at the Lee Vining Chevron station.

“They come in and complain,” Ms. Smith said of customers unhappy with the station’s prices. The most common reason she gives, she said, is that it is difficult to operate a business in a remote area that relies on seasonal tourists.

“We’re a pass-through town,” she said.

Station owners in Lee Vining and Bridgeport didn’t respond to requests for comment. Owners of gas-station franchises typically set their own prices based on factors such as wholesale costs, expenses and competition.

Some people stop at the stations in Mono County simply to gawk at the prices.

Tony Malais pulled over at the Lee Vining station Tuesday afternoon on his way back to Boise, Idaho, from Southern California. He had filled his Cadillac sedan in Northridge, outside Los Angeles, for $3.79 a gallon and hoped to make it to Nevada before needing to fill up again.

He had already stopped to take a photo of the station’s price sign on his way into California. This time he bought a soda. “I had heard it was about $5 a gallon. But I was surprised to see it over $6,” he said.

Pam Mowat, a real-estate agent who also runs a vacation and rental property business in Mono County, stopped by the Chevron on Wednesday. She said sky-high prices at the few area gas stations was a fact of life that local residents had gotten used to.

“I live here, I don’t have a choice,” said Ms. Mowat, who spent about $55 for roughly nine gallons of regular. She said she was headed to Reno later in the day, and would fill her Subaru Forester there, where AAA reported an average price of $4.20 a gallon for regular.

Rose Lierly said it isn’t just gas prices that are high in Bridgeport. Costs for nearly all supplies for Big Meadow Brewing Co., a small brewery she runs with her husband, have been on the rise in recent months.

“I used to buy [cases] of bottled water, 48 for $5.25. Now I get 32 for $5.25,” Ms. Lierly said. “It’s just because we are so remote here and freight charges are going up.” ...