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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
July 1, 2022

Supreme Court ends on a low note: Why we should now be more frightened for their next term

Supreme Court ends on a low note: Why we should now be more frightened for their next term
Supreme Court ends infamous term with promise for worse outcomes next time


(Salon) The 2021-2022 Supreme Court term will go down in infamy.

The right-wing majority behaved as if they were kids in a candy store, stuffing their faces with all their favorite goodies knowing there was no one who could stop them and no one who could hold them accountable for having done it. On gun rights, abortion, religion and the environment they took a wrecking ball to the court's precedents and created bold new tests out of thin air. It was a breath-taking exercise of sheer institutional power — and they're just getting started.

On the last day of the term, after handing down yet another shocking ruling (hamstringing the government's ability to deal with climate change), they announced that they plan to take up one of the most hare-brained, right-wing assaults on democracy yet this fall. Surprising even their most cynical critics, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the so-called "Independent State Legislature Doctrine," a half-baked idea that sprang out of nowhere in the opinion written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and signed by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in Bush v. Gore. Rehnquist held that since Article II of the Constitution says that states are to appoint electors "in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct" a federal court can reverse a state court's decision regarding state election law if it finds that that the state court disregarded the intent of the state legislature. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a scathing dissent in response, accusing the opinion of displaying "an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed." He said it would "only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land."

Rehnquist's novel idea was pretty much relegated to the ash heap of history except for some far-right judicial gadflies who were apparently chattering about it a Federalist Society cocktail parties for the past couple of decades. Until it reared its ugly head again before the 2020 election when Republicans started litigating their complaints about changes to the voting system due to the pandemic. ...............(more)


July 1, 2022

Man Poses as Cast Member, Steals $10,000 'R2-D2 Droid' in Attempt to Earn a Job in WDW Security

A man was caught and arrested for impersonating a hotel guest and a Cast Member as he took a gold necklace and an R2-D2 droid worth about $10,000, according to sheriff’s reports detailing the man’s scheme that unfolded across Disney property this year.

Proudfoot caught security’s attention last month as he pushed a cart on Epcot Resorts Boulevard to Walt Disney World Swan Reserve. He wore a Disney World name tag that said “David” and a bright orange safety vest.

The security officer “noticed the behavior as (suspicious) and offered to assist the male with the cart onto the property. The male appeared confused about the location of loading docks or proper procedures of the Swan Reserve. Security then called deputies to respond,” the arrest report said.

Proudfoot claimed to be David Rodgers and said he was a Walt Disney Company employee stationed at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort’s receiving division. ...........(more)


July 1, 2022

Pair of orcas targeting great white sharks off South Africa's coast

(CNN) A pair of orcas drove great white sharks away from a stretch of South African coast after killing five sharks over just a few months in 2017, according to a new study.

Great whites used to dominate areas of the Gansbaai coast, around 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Cape Town, but have been avoiding them in recent years, according to a paper published in the African Journal of Marine Science on Wednesday.

The Gansbaai coast was once a popular spot for great white shark spotting, but sightings have decreased markedly in recent years. The study used long-term sightings and tagging data to demonstrate that great whites have been driven away by the orcas, sometimes known as killer whales.

Researchers also analyzed five great white shark carcasses been found washed up on the shore, four with their nutrient-rich livers removed and one with its heart taken out as well. They all had wounds made by the same pair of orcas, which have likely killed more great whites, say researchers. ................(more)


July 1, 2022

Chilli peppers, coffee, wine: how the climate crisis is causing food shortages

Chilli peppers, coffee, wine: how the climate crisis is causing food shortages
Blistering heat, stronger storms, droughts, floods and fires are putting food production at risk

Victoria Namkung
Tue 28 Jun 2022 06.00 EDT

Sriracha fans are a passionate bunch. They have been known to get tattoos of the popular hot sauce on their bodies and dress up like the red plastic squeeze bottle for Halloween.

So it’s no surprise that an unprecedented shortage of the beloved condiment would send loyalists scrambling to avoid a spiceless summer.

Huy Fong Foods, the southern California company that produces 20m bottles of sriracha annually, has experienced a low inventory of red jalapeño chilli peppers in recent years made worse by spring’s crop failure.

The cause? Severe weather and drought conditions in Mexico.

It’s not just chilli peppers. Mustard producers in France and Canada said extreme weather caused a 50% reduction in seed production last year, leading to a shortage of the condiment on grocery store shelves. Blistering heat, stronger storms, droughts, floods, fires and changes in rainfall patterns are also affecting the cost and availability of staples, including wheat, corn, coffee, apples, chocolate and wine. The climate crisis is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events – and it’s putting food production at risk. ............(more)


July 1, 2022

'People should be aware': eggs of tiny infectious worm found in parks in New York and Europe

(Guardian UK) Scattered in cat sandboxes and dog runs around the world, there’s a parasite invisible to the naked eye that mostly infects these creatures. It’s a tiny worm that lives in the animals’ muscles and digestive systems, but can spread to others.

Sometimes, though, it infects humans. Increasingly researchers are concerned that children are inadvertently consuming these parasites, known as Toxocara, and so they are studying places where humans and pets come into contact with one another: city parks.

In New York City, one of the locations of the studies performed in recent years, these parasites are present in parks in all five boroughs, and there are more of them in parks in more impoverished neighborhoods. Around the world other researchers are also finding Toxocara in parks.

The presence of Toxocara is not necessarily a cause for alarm, the researchers say. It’s not that easy for humans to become infected – they must literally consume infected dirt. But this means children are at a higher risk. Even so, the scientists say, most infections are asymptomatic, though sometimes symptoms may include fever, fatigue, coughing, rash, or abdominal pain. In very rare cases, the parasite can reach the eye, causing blindness, and cause neurological damage in the brain. ..............(more)


June 30, 2022

Ken Paxton embraces a Christofascist version of Sharia Law

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he would defend the state’s archaic anti-sodomy law if the conservative Supreme Court takes aim at LGBTQ rights next.

Paxton, an arch-conservative Republican who is running for reelection, said he would defend the hateful law if the top court overturns its decision legalizing same-sex intimacy, a very real possibility after the justices nixed the constitutional right to privacy by overturning Roe v. Wade.

“My job is to defend state law, and I’ll continue to do that,” Paxton said. “I’m certainly willing and able to do that.” ...............(more)


June 30, 2022

The Story This Court Is Telling About Who Deserves Rights

The Story This Court Is Telling About Who Deserves Rights
Men are free to pray everywhere. Women do not even retain autonomy over their own bodies.

JUNE 29, 20226:03 PM

(Slate) The Supreme Court has been on a maximalist legal tear over the past week. First it overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and then a few days later it presumptively overruled Lemon v. Kurtzman. The result of these decisions fundamentally alters the tests for valid abortion regulations and the test for establishment clause regulations in ways that are not yet clear. This term, the high court has proved itself to be a kind of lethal combination of the History Channel and bazooka—if you’re taking the bar exam this summer, I would suggest that the answer to every constitutional law question is, quite reasonably, “facepalm.”

Those arguing that the brand-new jurisprudence emerging this week is markedly more cruel, more overtly theological, and more contemptuous of the regulatory state are all correct. But it also reflects a new kind of lawlessness that is frighteningly untethered from fact, science, and objectivity—untethered in ways that should frighten anyone who depends on the court for truth above all things. But one other theme in this radical new jurisprudence seems to be a redefinition of privacy and autonomy in ways that allow men to be at home everywhere they go, and women to be at peace nowhere.

Justice Samuel Alito’s radical opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is noteworthy for its casual dismissal of the economic and medical hardships of women forced to carry pregnancies to term. But it’s also striking for the dismissal of any privacy or bodily autonomy interests for the mother, who is deemed a vessel for constitutional purposes largely because she was deemed a vessel when the relevant constitutional provisions were written and ratified. After Dobbs, women’s lives will be subject to more invasive ultrasound readings, denials of health care, whims of vigilante neighbors, and electronic surveillance. Women will be spied on, turned in, and arrested. States are attempting to restrict pregnant people’s right to travel and to receive medication through the mail. They are now less protected from their rapists and predators. Effective last weekend, millions of American women will be less safe from government surveillance and intervention everywhere, both in their physician’s offices and in the privacy of their own homes. The Dobbs dissenters warned of this new reality, writing:

Some States have enacted laws extending to all forms of abortion procedure, including taking medication in one’s own home. They have passed laws without any exceptions for when the woman is the victim of rape or incest. Under those laws, a woman will have to bear her rapist’s child or a young girl her father’s—no matter if doing so will destroy her life.

After this week, women and pregnant people will lose, more than anything else, the “right to be left alone.” In half the states, their bodies are as free as the government allows them to be.


In Dobbs, not only are women of reproductive age denied the personal freedom Kennedy enjoys to claim privacy wherever he goes; they are also denied his spiritual liberty. They are given no spiritual authority over their own bodies. Even their personal, private spiritual values are trammeled by the state’s theologically driven interests in “potential life” and “fetal life” and “personhood.” The state’s zone of religious control swallows the spiritual preferences of the mother herself. Whatever her own religious beliefs may be, they are immaterial if she lives in a state that claims that personhood begins at conception. If Kennedy’s very body is a church that travels wherever he goes, a Mississippi mother’s body is not even her own spiritual domain. As she moves from state to state, from public to private, she is a potential crime scene, in which her beliefs and preferences have no relevance. The state may not place itself between a football coach and his spiritual life, but it can insert itself squarely between a woman and hers. ..............(more)


June 30, 2022

Republican push to recruit election deniers as poll workers causes alarm

(Guardian UK) Republicans and other conservative groups are undertaking a huge effort to recruit election workers, a push that could install people with unfounded doubts about the 2020 election in key positions in voting precincts where they could exert considerable power over elections.

At the forefront of this push is Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who was on Donald Trump’s legal team in 2020 and played a key role in his effort to overturn the election. Over the last few months, Mitchell has held “election integrity summits” in several battleground states, convening groups and citizens who continue to believe the 2020 election was stolen. The summits offer in-depth training on how to monitor election offices and how to work elections. At a mid-June summit in North Carolina, Mitchell mocked the term “election denier” and said “whether the outcome was correct, that’s all I deny”. Voter fraud is extremely rare and there was no evidence of widespread fraud in 2020.

The effort, called the Election Integrity Network, underscores how Trump and allies are capitalizing on now deeply seeded Republican doubt about Joe Biden’s victory and are targeting key election offices and jobs that play a considerable role in determining how ballots are cast and counted. The summits are a project of the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a group with close ties to Trump’s political operation, and where Mitchell is a senior legal fellow. Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, is a senior partner at CPI.

Mitchell has described the effort as a way to take control of the apparatus of local elections, according to ABC News. CPI did not return a request for comment.

“Given that people who were part of the attempted coup are behind this, it’s certainly something that at a minimum we need to be vigilant about,” said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, who works closely with election officials across the country on election administration issues. ............(more)


June 30, 2022

Family Of Victim In Michigan School Shooting Sues Gun Shop

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) — The parents of a teenager wounded during a mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan are suing the shop that sold the handgun used to kill four students and injure six other people.

The complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Detroit on behalf of Matthew and Mary Mueller accuses Acme Shooting Goods LLC of negligently or unlawfully supplying the gun through a straw sale.

Authorities have said James Crumbley bought the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun used in the Nov. 30 shooting as an early Christmas gift for his son, Ethan, who was 15 at the time.

The lawsuit says Ethan accompanied his father to Acme Shooting Goods several days before the shooting and “engaged in behavior or made one or more statements while in the store which further indicated that the Acme gun was intended for” Ethan. ..........(more)


June 30, 2022

Lone Star hate: Right-wing activists in Texas drive a new wave of anti-LGBTQ bigotry

Lone Star hate: Right-wing activists in Texas drive a new wave of anti-LGBTQ bigotry
Sure, Texas is a red state. But the merger of MAGA and anti-LGBTQ activism has revealed a whole new level of ugly


(Salon) Last weekend in Houston, Texas Republicans got a taste of just how far right their party has become. At the state's biennial GOP convention, delegates officially declared Joe Biden an illegitimate president, proposed repealing the 1965 Voting Rights Act and voted for a platform calling on schools to teach that life begins at conception and to avoid all discussion of gender identity or sexuality. Additional planks attacked trans rights, cast gender-affirming medical care as actionable malpractice and declared homosexuality "an abnormal lifestyle choice." When one delegate pushed back on that last point — saying, "We are the Republican Party of Texas, not the Westboro Baptist Church" — he was greeted with boos, laughter and another delegate's tirade about "dildos and fisting."

But perhaps the most explosive takeaway from the convention was a series of heated confrontations (inevitably turned into viral videos) in which a group of far-right activists and social media personalities, led by self-described comedian Alex Stein, followed Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, through the hallways of the convention hotel, chanting "eyepatch McCain." This ended in a violent scuffle between Stein and two Crenshaw staffers. Stein also targeted Sen. Ted Cruz in similar fashion, while a different protester shouted that Crenshaw should be hanged. After the hecklers were ejected from the convention, some were photographed standing amid a group of men wearing the black-and-gold shirts of the "Western Chauvinist" Proud Boys.

Although Stein and his cadre's complaints on Saturday were mainly focused on gun laws and Ukraine aid rather than queer rights, his presence at the convention followed the national notoriety he'd gained just two weeks before, when he filmed himself trying to force his way into a Dallas gay bar that was hosting a family-friendly drag show.

As Salon reported at the time, the protest, organized by a right-wing nonprofit called Protect Texas Children, attracted a broader coalition of far-right activists, including members of the white nationalist America First/groyper movement, which hosted a conference last February praising Vladimir Putin, Hitler and the hanging of political enemies. Also involved were a Catholic youth organization that openly endorses theocratic fascism and a network of anti-LGBTQ activists who have gained substantial social media followings through stunt provocations in the broader Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area, often with the Proud Boys in tow.


On Tuesday, June 7, for the first time in its history, the city council of Frisco, Texas, a suburban community of some 220,000 people due north of Dallas, issued a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month. After an opening invocation by a local minister, praying for open hearts and minds, around two dozen members of the local LGBTQ community came on stage, one sparking tearful cheers by declaring, "Progress is here." Across the majority of the auditorium, there was sustained applause, a standing ovation and the waving of rainbow flags. But from one corner, there were boos.

After the proclamation was read, most of the audience left, walking to a nearby burger joint for a planned reception hosted by the recently-formed group Pride Frisco. And so, when the meeting was opened for public comment, those who rose to respond to the proclamation came almost exclusively from the right, as one person after another got up to condemn the recognition of Pride Month and the LGBTQ community more broadly. ...........(more)


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