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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 8,765

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

She wanted to help her community. Then they took aim at her child

Kelsey and Chris Waits moved to Hastings, Minnesota, to build a dream home for themselves and their two children.

Chris had a promising job opportunity when he left the Navy but it was the neighborhood that drew them in.
"Kelsey said, 'Well, I hope the interview went well because we're moving here. This town is great, this town is perfect, this is what I want,'" Chris recalled his wife telling him.
The city of about 22,000 people is close enough to Minneapolis to be a distant suburb but just far enough away to be surrounded by green Midwest farmland. The historic downtown is in great shape, with a spiffy park along the Mississippi.  All around are nice houses, nice cars, nice shopping.
But when the pandemic put pressure on the community, cracks began to appear. Stressed by school closures and debate over wearing masks, some neighbors started taking aim at the school board.

Kelsey Waits was the face and voice of that school board as its chair. The ugliness that followed in Kelsey's unsuccessful race to be re-elected to the board now has the Waits packing up their dream home to move -- and their love for Hastings likely tainted forever.


How Dangerous Is Peter Thiel?

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently got scared. Last month, he attended the National Conservatism Conference, held in an Orlando hotel, and reported in the Atlantic that this confab demonstrated that the right—of which he used to be a high official in good standing—has become a cauldron of End-Times paranoia posing as populism. The animating theme of this shindig did not arise from policy prescriptions or principles for contending with the nation’s economic or social welfare challenges or for pursuing a foreign policy in this confusing century. It was the notion that conservatives face eradication at the hands of diabolical leftists. As Brooks writes, “The idea that the left controls absolutely everything—from your smartphone to the money supply to your third grader’s curriculum—explains the apocalyptic tone that was the dominating emotional register of this conference.”

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel's speech in October on free thought and dogmatism was incoherent and alarmingly super-nationalistic. Visual China Group/Getty

Editor’s note: This essay from David Corn first appeared in his new newsletter, This Land. Given the importance of covering big money in politics and the move toward authoritarianism on the right, we want to make sure as many readers as possible have a chance to see it. This Land is a newsletter written by David twice a week that provides behind-the-scenes stories about politics and media; his unvarnished take on the events of the day; film, books, television, and music recommendations; interactive audience features; and more. Subscribing costs just $5 a month—but you can sign up for a free 30-day trial of This Land here.

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently got scared. Last month, he attended the National Conservatism Conference, held in an Orlando hotel, and reported in the Atlantic that this confab demonstrated that the right—of which he used to be a high official in good standing—has become a cauldron of End-Times paranoia posing as populism. The animating theme of this shindig did not arise from policy prescriptions or principles for contending with the nation’s economic or social welfare challenges or for pursuing a foreign policy in this confusing century. It was the notion that conservatives face eradication at the hands of diabolical leftists. As Brooks writes, “The idea that the left controls absolutely everything—from your smartphone to the money supply to your third grader’s curriculum—explains the apocalyptic tone that was the dominating emotional register of this conference.”

And the politicians there helped turn the event into a demagogic orgy. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) barked, “The left’s ambition is to create a world beyond belonging. Their grand ambition is to deconstruct the United States of America.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) hissed, “The left’s attack is on America. The left hates America. It is the left that is trying to use culture as a tool to destroy America.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) growled, “We are confronted now by a systematic effort to dismantle our society, our traditions, our economy, and our way of life.” This is what the right used to say about the Reds under our beds.

Brooks was particularly alarmed by a speech delivered by Rachel Bovard, the senior policy director of the Conservative Partnership Institute. He described her as a lovely person—cheery, amusing, and a lover of wine. Nevertheless, he noted, she was now a wigged-out extremist living in a bizarro reality. “Woke elites” want “to destroy us,” she told attendees. “Not only will they use every power at their disposal to achieve their goal,” but they have been at it for years, “dominating every cultural, intellectual, and political institution.” She warned of a “totalitarian cult of billionaires and bureaucrats.” And for this, she received a standing ovation.

Brooks was right to be apprehensive about this grievance-on-steroids festival and the conservatives’ embrace of an Orbán-like culture war in which they will deploy the power of the state to beat back the evil, Godless lefties. But his article left out a part of the conference that gave me the chills: Peter Thiel’s keynote address (which I watched courtesy of YouTube).


Barren forests, dirty rivers, unbreathable air: Inside an Arctic city's vast pollution problem

It was 2 a.m. and the sun was shining, as it does day and night in mid-July in Norilsk, a Siberian city 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Igor Klyushin went to the bank of the river where he used to fish with his father for grayling, a dorsal-finned beauty known for its graceful leaps above the surface. “A very merry fish,” Klyushin recalled. “It enjoys cold and clean, clean water.”

He doubted grayling would be there that night. In any event, authorities had long warned that it was unsafe to fish for them in the Daldykan River.

And besides, he wasn’t there to fish. He began to record images of the clay-colored muck flowing downriver from one of the largest metal mining and smelting complexes in the world. The discolored water represented “the latest environmental crime of Norilsk Nickel,” Klyushin said in the video he posted on “Norilchane” — or “Citizens of Norilsk” — the YouTube channel he helps moderate.The channel and its Facebook group, with about 8,300 members, have become gathering places for distressed residents of Norilsk, the northernmost city in the world. The city of 176,000 has long been recognized by environmentalists — and even by the Russian government — as one of the most polluted places on Earth, because of one business: Norilsk Nickel, the world’s biggest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a top producer of platinum, cobalt and copper.

Built as a resource colony by prisoners in the Soviet Gulag, Norilsk outlasted communism, embraced capitalism, and it now aims to ramp up production to sell the metals needed for electric vehicle batteries and the clean energy economy. Norilsk Nickel is the world’s leading producer of the high-purity Class 1 nickel that electric vehicle industry leaders like Tesla CEO Elon Musk are seeking. The company’s ambitions coincide with those of Russian President Vladimir Putin for greater development in the Far North, which he maintains can be accomplished sustainably.

I knew from my father, way back in the 70s, that Eastern Europe and Russia were terrible polluters. Seems it has only gotten worse. This article is nightmarish.

A nursing home where 83 residents died of Covid is still in business under a new name

In December 2019, Sharon Farrell flew from Florida to visit her brother Stephen at a New Jersey nursing home, where, she said, she found “disgusting” conditions. "I told the nurse, 'I am calling the state,'" she said. "I’m paying $9,000 a month, and I wouldn’t let my dog live like this."

Farrell said that four months later, as Covid-19 was spreading rapidly, she repeatedly called the facility to ask how her brother was doing. When she finally reached someone, she said, she was told he was fine. Within a few days, however, he was dead.

It has been 19 months since the discovery of 17 bodies in a tiny morgue at the Andover Subacute II nursing home in Sussex County, New Jersey, in April 2020. The federal government fined the owners $221,115 for not being in "substantial compliance," and the attorney general’s office began an investigation.

But the owners are still in business. They changed the names of Andover and its sister facility and installed new signs out front. As of Friday, there were 25 residents of Andover with Covid, according to state data.

And the owners are still being paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded programs that pay most costs for U.S. nursing home operators — even though one of the owners, Louis Schwartz, helped run a chain called Skyline Healthcare, which collapsed in 2019 amid accusations of neglect and financial mismanagement, which the chain denied.

This is disgusting and exactly what is wrong with nursing homes. These guys should be LOCKED UP for good!

In the 1950s, rather than integrate its public schools, Virginia closed them

Not long after Patricia Turner and a handful of Black students desegregated Norview junior high school in Norfolk, Virginia, she realized a big difference between her new white school and her former Black school. That February of 1959, she didn’t have to wear a coat in class to stay warm, because Norview was heated.

She hadn’t noticed the difference earlier because of the steady volley of racism directed at her, Turner said. A teacher put her papers in a separate box and returned them wearing rubber gloves. (He later wrote her an apology letter.) And her fellow students spat on her.

“I had my mother, my dad, my church, my pastor, my God,” Turner said, explaining how she survived the daily assaults on her body and spirit.

Turner and 16 other Black students who attended six white schools under court-ordered desegregation were called the Norfolk 17, the young foot soldiers in the campaign against Virginia’s “Massive Resistance”, a state policy to oppose school desegregation. Rather than desegregate public schools after the 1954 US supreme court decision in Brown v Board of Education, which declared segregated education unconstitutional, Virginia officials closed some of them.

Massive Resistance was in place from 1956 to 1959. But in some places, schools weren’t desegregated until a decade after the Brown decision, longer than in any other state in the US south, making Virginia notorious, at the time, among civil rights advocates. The period is so seminal to its history that public school students are required to learn about it beginning in the fourth grade.

I knew about this in Wisconsin at the time. RepubliQans don't want children to know about it.

Dancer, singer ... spy: France's Panthon to honour Josephine Baker

In November 1940, two passengers boarded a train in Toulouse headed for Madrid, then onward to Lisbon. One was a striking Black woman in expensive furs; the other purportedly her secretary, a blonde Frenchman with moustache and thick glasses.

Josephine Baker, toast of Paris, the world’s first Black female superstar, one of its most photographed women and Europe’s highest-paid entertainer, was travelling, openly and in her habitual style, as herself – but she was playing a brand new role.

Her supposed assistant was Jacques Abtey, a French intelligence officer developing an underground counter-intelligence network to gather strategic information and funnel it to Charles de Gaulle’s London HQ, where the pair hoped to travel after Portugal.

Ostensibly, they were on their way to scout venues for Baker’s planned tour of the Iberian peninsula. In reality, they carried secret details of German troops in western France, including photos of landing craft the Nazis were lining up to invade Britain.

The information was mostly written on the singer’s musical scores in invisible ink, to be revealed with lemon juice. The photographs she had hidden in her underwear. The whole package was handed to British agents at the Lisbon embassy – who informed Abtey and Baker they would be far more valuable assets in France than in London.

So back to occupied France Baker duly went. “She was immensely brave, and utterly committed,” Hanna Diamond, a Cardiff university professor, said of Baker, who on Tuesday will become the first Black woman to enter the Panthéon in Paris, the mausoleum for France’s “great men”.

I knew she was a heroine of the Resistance, but not to what extent. Vive La Grande Josephine!

'The goal was to silence people': historian Joanne Freeman on congressional violence

As the House debated whether the Republican congressman Paul Gosar should be censured for depicting the murder of his colleague, one Democratic leader took a moment to reflect on the chamber’s long history of violence.

Speaking on the House floor last week, the majority leader, Steny Hoyer, argued that Gosar had grossly violated the chamber’s rules of conduct by sharing an altered anime video showing him killing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden.

“When those rules were written, they did not anticipate that a member would threaten violence directly against another member,” Hoyer said. “Not because it’s never happened – a congressman from South Carolina nearly beat to death a senator from Massachusetts, Senator Sumner, because he wanted to abolish slavery.”

The 1856 caning of Charles Sumner by Preston Brooks is probably the most infamous example of violence between members of Congress, but it is far from the only one. In her book, The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, the Yale history professor Joanne Freeman details the many threats and attacks between lawmakers during the antebellum era.

The Guardian spoke to Dr Freeman about the history of congressional violence and what it can tell us about the current state of US politics and the significance of Gosar’s censure. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


US Christian right group wages culture war with books, cartoon and nature doc

The son of pastor Douglas Wilson of the controversial Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and a close associate have made significant inroads into mainstream culture in America with a successful streaming cartoon based on a book published by the church’s own imprint.

The Guardian has previously reported on how the church, which aims to create a theocracy in the US, has increased its power and influence in its home town, while also campaigning vociferously against efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Those developments come amid a broader rise in the right wing across the US.

At the same time Christ church is seeking to use television and book publishing to enter US popular culture and promote its interests.

Wilson’s son Nathan Wilson and his manager and close associate, Aaron Rench, have simultaneously been attempting to crowdfund a creationist nature documentary starring Douglas Wilson’s brother, Gordon, and have continued to market young adult fiction through a mainstream publisher.

Following in the footsteps of the Falwells......

Capitol attack: Schiff says Mark Meadows contempt decision imminent

The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is likely to decide this week whether to charge Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s final White House chief of staff, with criminal contempt of Congress, a key panel member said.

“I think we will probably make a decision this week on our course of conduct with that particular witness and maybe others,” Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House intelligence committee, told CNN’s State of the Union.

Schiff also said he was concerned about the Department of Justice, for a perceived lack of interest in investigating Trump’s own actions, including asking officials in Georgia to “find” votes which would overturn his defeat by Joe Biden.

The 6 January committee is investigating the attack on the Capitol by supporters who Trump told to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat.


The 'Visible Deterioration' in American Democracy Is Just the Start

While many in the media and political landscape are distracted by the phantom menace of wokeness, the US was just added to an annual list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time ever.

It’s an urgent reminder to Americans battling windmills like Critical Race Theory and The 1619 project, and desperately rehabilitating former Trump officials, that we have less than a year to try and save our ailing Republic from an increasingly radicalized and weaponized GOP death cult.

Earlier this week, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) based in Stockholm warned about a “visible deterioration” in US democracy that it says began in 2019 and rapidly accelerated after Trump refused to concede the 2020 election. For the fifth straight year, more countries moved towards authoritarianism than democratisation, according to IDEA, which currently sees only 98 democracies around the world—the lowest number in years.

In addition to the Big Lie, which is believed by a majority of Republican voters and promoted by most Republican elected officials, the think tank also cited our decline in civil liberties and checks on government. A co-author of the report also pointed to the “decline in the quality of freedom of association and assembly during the summer of protests in 2020” after the murder of George Floyd.

The acquittal and subsequent adulation of shooter Kyle Rittenhouse—who says he supports the BLM movement and showed it by bringing an AR-15 to a protest and killing two of its supporters—surely isn’t an auspicious sign for the future of our democracy. It is springtime, however, for violent vigilantes and gun enthusiasts who no longer have to wear their hoods in public or abide by laws and election results they don’t like. Republicans in the House are publicly competing to make Rittenhouse their Congressional intern, while Marjorie Taylor Greene has a bill to give him a gold medal.

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