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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
September 26, 2021

'American democracy will continue to be tested': Peril author Robert Costa on Trump, the big lie and

‘American democracy will continue to be tested’: Peril author Robert Costa on Trump, the big lie and 2024
David Smith in Washington

Washington Post reporter calls co-authoring book on end of Trump presidency with Watergate legend Bob Woodward a ‘privilege’

(Guardian UK) It is nearly half a century since Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became the world’s most famous journalistic double act, immortalized by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in the film All the President’s Men.

But Woodward’s latest book, about the decline and fall of Donald Trump, is co-written with a different Washington Post colleague who was not yet born at the time of the Watergate break-in.


Woodward and Costa – time will tell if it has the same ring – interviewed Trump for the Washington Post in March 2016. The presidential candidate’s observation that real power derives from “fear” gave Woodward the title of his first book in what would prove a Trump trilogy: Fear (2018), Rage (2020) and, with Costa, Peril (2021).

The word haunts it from the opening page, which quotes Joe Biden’s inaugural address – “We have much to do in this winter of peril” – to the last sentence of the 418th and final page: “Peril remains.”

The authors interviewed more than 200 people (though both Biden and Trump declined) on “deep background”, resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts covering the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, presidential election, 6 January insurrection and nascent Biden presidency.


Costa warns: “What happened in January 2021 was not a passing storm in American politics. It’s part of a new climate inside of the Republican party, a Republican party where in many states there is a demand to reject Biden’s victory, even to this day, and to elect Trump-allied people to election positions to make sure that President Trump, if he runs again, will have a smoother path to power. ...........(more)


September 26, 2021

Bronx Zoo Visitors Go Bananas Watching Gorillas Engage In Oral Sex (NSFW)

(HuffPost) Tongues are wagging on social media over a video taken at New York City’s Bronx Zoo that shows one gorilla performing oral sex on another.

The video, which was filmed Wednesday, shows one gorilla lying on its back as another pleasures it.

The videographer behind the clip told the New York Post that he was visiting the gorilla exhibit with his 4-year-old daughter and his niece.

“My wife had to stay out of the exhibit with my sleeping son, so I wanted to capture a lot of video,” said the man, who was not named in the Post’s story. “Then this magic happened.”

Video posted by TMZ shows parents quickly moving to hide their kids’ eyes from the amorous apes. ..........(more)


September 25, 2021

Neo-Nazis are still on Facebook. And they're making money

Brussels – It’s the premier martial arts group in Europe for right-wing extremists. German authorities have twice banned their signature tournament. But Kampf der Nibelungen, or Battle of the Nibelungs, still thrives on Facebook, where organizers maintain multiple pages, as well as on Instagram and YouTube, which they use to spread their ideology, draw in recruits and make money through ticket sales and branded merchandise.

The Battle of the Nibelungs – a reference to a classic heroic epic much loved by the Nazis – is one of dozens of far-right groups that continue to leverage mainstream social media for profit, despite Facebook’s and other platforms’ repeated pledges to purge themselves of extremism.

All told, there are at least 54 Facebook profiles belonging to 39 entities that the German government and civil society groups have flagged as extremist, according to research shared with The Associated Press by the Counter Extremism Project, a nonprofit policy and advocacy group formed to combat extremism. The groups have nearly 268,000 subscribers and friends on Facebook alone.

CEP also found 39 related Instagram profiles, 16 Twitter profiles and 34 YouTube channels, which have gotten over 9.5 million views. Nearly 60% of the profiles were explicitly aimed at making money, displaying prominent links to online shops or photos promoting merchandise. ................(more)


September 25, 2021

Spotted lanternfly, a crop-killing pest, is hitchhiking and hopping its way to Michigan

(Detroit Free Press) A small, winged pest some people evenithink is pretty is getting a lot of attention online, as agriculture and natural resource experts warn that it can do considerable damage to grapes and, once established, is difficult to kill.

Lycorma delicatula — better known as the dreaded spotted lanternfly — made its way from Asia to the United States at least a decade ago, and agriculture officials now fear it's slowly making its way to Michigan and other states.

"It's a pest we are concerned about in the state of Michigan," said Robert Miller, an invasive species expert with the state's agriculture department. "We are asking the public to be on the lookout and to report it if they think they see it. I can't say if and when it will arrive. But I think there's a possibility we'll see it eventually."

In the meantime, the internet is turning the insect into an evil Mothra.

In the last few days, there have been multiple online reports and warnings. Many, if not most, of the headlines, invoke the language of violence and death. CBS: "There's a beautiful spotted insect flying across the U.S. — and officials want you to kill it." The New York Times: "Die, Beautiful Spotted Lanternfly, Die" .............(more)


September 25, 2021

The Arizona Recount's Happy Ending Does Not Justify Its Existence

All Is Not Well That Ends Well in Arizona
Just because the new count of votes in Maricopa County confirms Biden as the victor doesn’t mean the debacle was legitimate.

By David A. Graham

(The Atlantic) The so-called audit of votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, will confirm that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election there, and all it took was five months, millions of taxpayer dollars to replace voting machines tainted by the audit, and a full-frontal assault on faith in elections, the foundation of American democracy. The review didn’t merely confirm that Biden won Maricopa County—it reportedly found 99 more votes for Biden and 261 fewer votes for Donald Trump than the original count.

The report is expected to be released by the state Senate today (though many earlier deadlines have passed unmet), but multiple news organizations obtained a draft version of the report, and Randy Pullen, a spokesperson for the audit, confirmed to the local radio station KJZZ that the final report would be similar.

“Was there massive fraud or anything? It doesn’t look like it,” he said.

The new, higher vote tally for Biden is darkly comic, in that the Republican state senators who commissioned the review, the head of the company that conducted the process, and the private donors who provided most of the funding for it all clearly hoped that it would cast doubt on the election results. But those who might like the new number shouldn’t take it seriously, any more than they would have had the review reached the incendiary conclusion that Trump had been cheated out of votes. The process employed in the review was sloppy, inconsistent, and lacked transparency, and there’s no reason to trust it, as I wrote in May. This has not changed.


The goal was to substantiate a new consensus Republican belief that Democrats cannot win elections legitimately, and that any victory they notch must be somehow tainted. It is not a coincidence that the places where audits have focused are those, like Maricopa County, or Harris County, Texas, or Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, with high levels of minority voters, who can be disparaged—mostly implicitly, but occasionally more directly—as illegitimate participants in the polity. Trump has been the foremost proponent of the theory, but he’s been joined by eager sycophants, demagogues, and conspiracists. .........(more)


September 25, 2021

Delta proposes a second national 'no-fly' list -- for unruly passengers

As the number of incidents with unruly air travelers keeps climbing, Delta Air Lines is out with its proposed solution.

This week, the Atlanta-based carrier shared two internal memos with its workforce, which include details about a proposed national “no-fly” list of unruly passengers.

According to the notes, Delta is urging airlines to create a unified list of banned passengers to that they can collectively work to minimize the number of inflight disruptions. Once your name is added to the list, you’d theoretically be banned from boarding a flight, regardless of which airline you’re flying.

Right now, each airline keeps its own record of unruly passengers — if you’re banned from flying Delta, nothing is stopping you from booking a United flight. (According to the memo, Delta already has more than 1,600 people on its own “no-fly” list.)

Delta’s proposed “no-fly” list would essentially become the second national database of banned travelers, joining the existing one of known or suspected terrorists that are barred from boarding a flight and entering the U.S. ............(more)


September 24, 2021

Europe Rethinks Its Approach to Forest Fires

Europe Rethinks Its Approach to Forest Fires
It has been a bad summer for wildfires in Europe, and all signs point to more bad summers to come. Many countries are trying out new approaches to lower the fire danger, but not all of them are high-tech. Catalonia, for example, is turning to livestock.

By Jan Petter
09.09.2021, 10.30 Uhr

(Der Spiegel) When fire is approaching through the forest, says Juliane Baumann, you hear it long before you can see it. The flames crackle through the underbrush. The fire's power rips the leaves from the trees and sends them floating through the air. And if you do ultimately find yourself within sight of the flames, rising in a wall several meters high, you won’t have much time to escape.

Baumann, 43, knows what she is talking about. For the last five years, she has been working as a firefighter in Catalonia, likely the only German on the force. During that time, she estimates, she has seen around 20 forest fires per year. Some of them have been small, requiring the attention of just a couple of fire engines. Others, though, have been much larger, with hundreds of firefighters battling the flames around the clock as helicopters circle overhead and yellow firefighting planes swoop by.

This has been a historic year when it comes to the number and size of fires in Europe. In Italy, firefighters had been called out 44,442 times by August 7, mostly in Sicily, Apulia and Calabria. In Greece, hundreds of people had to be evacuated by ship to escape fires on islands, while flames have also approached to within just a few kilometers of Athens. More than 116,000 hectares have been scorched across the country and at least three people have been killed. Blazes have also torn through Turkey and the Balkans.

"We have seen that the forest fires in Europe are growing worse and worse,” Janez Lenarčič, the European commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid and crisis management, recently told DER SPIEGEL.


For one such area, though, a rather different kind of strategy is being explored: sheep. The animals are perhaps the most unexpected tool in the battle against fire, but they have the advantage of being a cost-efficient way of controlling proliferating undergrowth. Indeed, they might even produce a profit. As in earlier times, the animals are to be driven through the forest instead of just spending their time in grassy meadows. ...........(more)


September 23, 2021

America 2021: Masked and unmasked seating sections at a school board meeting

West Palm Beach, Florida (CNN) Dozens of police officers were standing by as the Palm Beach County School Board held a meeting Wednesday evening with masked and unmasked spectators watching from separate rooms, as the board said it would abide with the latest state rule that takes a "symptoms-based approach" to quarantining students.

A crowd of about 40 people sat in the masked section of the meeting, while those who wanted to go without a face covering were in a room across the parking lot.

During the board meeting, more than 50 people spoke in person or via video conference to address the school system's Covid-19 policies. Others called the board to relay their messages.

The school system is one of several in the state that has a mask mandate, defying Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has said face covering decisions should be left up to parents. ..........(more)


September 23, 2021

James Craig says he supports abortion ban in secret recording

(Detroit Metro Times) Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig said if elected he would block any attempt by Democrats to repeal Michigan’s 90-year-old ban on abortion, according to a secret audio recording obtained by Metro Times.

Craig made the remark Thursday while talking with supporters after his speech at a campaign kickoff event in Marquette.

The 1931 law, which made it a felony to perform an abortion, was nullified following Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that women have a constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies. But abortion-rights advocates are worried that the ruling may be in jeopardy after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision earlier this month to let a Texas ban on most abortions remain in effect.

Democrats, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, are calling on lawmakers to repeal the ban in case Roe v. Wade is overturned. In February, state Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, introduced a bill to repeal the abortion ban in Michigan. ...........(more)


September 22, 2021

Mike Pence's 6-point plan to steal the election: Republicans leave roadmap for future authoritarians

Mike Pence's 6-point plan to steal the election: Republicans leave roadmap for future authoritarians
The memo from John Eastman was circulated in January to some of Trump's staunchest Republican defenders in Congress


(Salon) One of the most important lessons of the 2020 election is just how easy it would be for someone with a little bit more savvy to upend the constitution and prevent the peaceful transfer of power in the future. Democracies don't always crumble as a result of violent revolution. It's often done by manipulating the law and using intimidation to ensure compliance.

The most famous example is the German Enabling Act of 1933, also known as The Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich. That law allowed Adolph Hitler to enact other laws, including ones that violated the Weimar Constitution, without the approval of either parliament or Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, effectively making Hitler a dictator. Through some adroit maneuvering and the detention of certain members of the Parliament, he was able to gain the two-thirds majority required and the courts all went along with it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Donald Trump is no Hitler, of course. He is not that clever. But he does have some of the same impulses, particularly when it comes to seizing power.

This week we learned, through the new Woodward and Costa book "Peril," that one of Donald Trump's closest legal advisers, a law professor by the name of John Eastman, had prepared a memorandum to serve as guidance for the Vice President to overturn the election on January 6th. The memo laid out a six-point plan:

First: The Vice President begins the counting with the state of Alabama as usual. .........(more)


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