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Hometown: Atlanta
Home country: US
Member since: Sat Jun 1, 2013, 01:19 AM
Number of posts: 4,340

Journal Archives

A Post-Filibuster World Would Be a Nightmare for Progressives

With astonishing speed, it’s become conventional wisdom on the left that the filibuster must go.

Having seized full control of the White House and Congress — but just barely — many Democrats naturally see the Senate’s 60-vote threshold as an inconvenient obstacle to passing their agenda. They call it a “Jim Crow relic” for obstructing voting rights bills and hope to topple it like a Confederate statue.

But progressives pushing to end the filibuster are suffering from a bad case of amnesia. The past three decades, in fact, are filled with moments when the filibuster prevented Republicans from pushing through legislation that would have made America a far darker place.

The Democrats now in power should weigh the present opportunity against future peril. Republicans have their own ambitious agenda which they will be delighted to enact over the helpless cries of a filibuster-less Democratic minority as soon as they can. A tour of recent history offers some stark examples of what that might look like.


- more at link. Another reason to be cautious IMO.

Suspicious' blackout strikes Iran's Natanz nuclear site

Source: ABC News

Iran's underground Natanz nuclear facility lost power Sunday just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium faster, the latest incident to strike the site amid negotiations over the tattered atomic accord with world powers.

As Iranian officials investigated the outage, many Israeli media outlets offered the similar assessment that a cyberattack darkened Natanz and damaged a facility that is home to sensitive centrifuges. While the reports offered no sourcing for the evaluation, Israeli media maintains a close relationship with the country's military and intelligence agencies.

If Israel caused the blackout, it further heightens the tensions between the two nations already engaged in a shadow conflict across the wider Middle East.

It also complicates efforts by the U.S., Israel's main security partner, to re-enter the atomic accord aimed at limiting Tehran's program so it couldn't pursue a nuclear weapon if it chose. As news of the blackout emerged, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin landed in Israel on Sunday for talks with Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/official-accident-strikes-irans-natanz-nuclear-facility-77002407

Court Rules Daily Mail's Publication of Katie Hill's Nudes Is Protected Speech Under the First Amend

Source: Law and Crime

Court Rules Daily Mail’s Publication of Katie Hill’s Nudes Is Protected Speech Under the First Amendment

A judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday tossed a lawsuit filed by former representative Katie Hill (D) over a series of nude and compromising photographs published by a British tabloid.

According to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Daily Mail was protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when they chose to ran those racy and controversial images in October 2019–which ultimately led to the rising star resigning from office in disgrace amidst an ethics probe into her relationship with a staffer.

Judge Yolanda Orozco ruled in the publication’s favor after they successfully raised an anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP) defense based on a California law which prohibits lawsuits designed to chill free speech.

“Courts employ a two-step process to evaluate anti-SLAPP motions” Orozco noted. “To invoke the protections of the statute, the defendant must first show that the challenged lawsuit arises from protected activity, such as an act in furtherance of the right of petition or free speech. From this fact, courts ‘presume the purpose of the action was to chill the defendant’s exercise of First Amendment rights. It is then up to the plaintiff to rebut the presumption by showing a reasonable probability of success on the merits.’”

Read more: https://lawandcrime.com/first-amendment/court-rules-daily-mails-publication-of-katie-hills-nudes-is-protected-speech-under-the-first-amendment/

NASA's Webb Telescope Packs Its Sunshield for a Million Mile Trip

Source: NASA

Engineers working on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have successfully folded and packed its sunshield for its upcoming million-mile (roughly 1.5 million kilometer) journey, which begins later this year.

The sunshield — a five-layer, diamond-shaped structure the size of a tennis court — was specially engineered to fold up around the two sides of the telescope and fit within the confines of its launch vehicle, the Ariane 5 rocket. Now that folding has been completed at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, the sunshield will remain in this compact form through launch and the first few days the observatory will spend in space.

Designed to protect the telescope’s optics from any heat sources that could interfere with its sight, the sunshield is one of Webb’s most critical and complex components. Because Webb is an infrared telescope, its mirrors and sensors need to be kept at extremely cold temperatures to detect faint heat signals from distant objects in the universe.

In space, one side of the sunshield will always reflect light and background heat from the Sun, Earth and Moon. Thermal models show that the maximum temperature of the outermost layer is 383 Kelvin, or about 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the other side of the sunshield will always face deep space, with the coldest layer having a modeled minimum temperature of 36 Kelvin, or about minus 394 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2021/nasa-s-webb-telescope-packs-its-sunshield-for-a-million-mile-trip

I cannot wait for this telescope to successfully deploy. Fingers crossed.

Justice Breyer Insists SCOTUS Isn't Political, Warns Against Court-Packing, and Doesn't Talk About R

Source: Law and Crime

Justice Stephen Breyer, SCOTUS’s ever-agitated octogenarian, made a claim about the Court last night during a speech at Harvard: it’s not conservative, and everyone should stop using political terms to describe justices. Breyer gave a two-hour lecture at Harvard Law School Tuesday, at an event titled “The Scalia Lecture: The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics.”

During the speech, Breyer chastised journalists and politicians for referring to justices by the presidents who appointed them, as well as for describing them as “liberal” or “conservative.” Such labels, according to Breyer, “reinforce the thought, likely already present in the reader’s mind, that Supreme Court justices are primarily political officials or ‘junior league’ politicians themselves rather than jurists.”

A public perception that justices are beholden to political (rather than jurisprudential) beliefs is incorrect, Breyer insisted. As evidence of the Court’s apolitical nature, Breyer pointed to its refusal to take up the many lawsuits aimed at overturning the results of the 202o presidential election. According to Breyer, the Court’s decision not to take up Trump’s cause, even with its perceived 6-3 conservative majority, supports a conclusion that even its ruling in Bush v. Gore hadn’t been politically motivated. “Judicial philosophy is not a code word for ‘politics,'” the justice lectured.


Perhaps Breyer’s boldest move was directly speaking out against expanding the Court — a suggestion that has gained traction with many progressives after Republicans denied then-Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing in an election year. Donald Trump went on to appoint Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the latter after Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. But the court-packing conversation reached new heights after Trump nominated — and the Mitch McConnell-led Senate confirmed — Amy Coney Barrett as the newest justice in an election year. Republicans wasted no time after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death to make that happen. Still, Breyer warned that expanding the Court beyond nine members would threaten public trust in the institution that has been “gradually built” over centuries.

“Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust,” he warned.

Read more: https://lawandcrime.com/supreme-court/justice-breyer-insists-scotus-isnt-political-warns-against-court-packing-and-doesnt-talk-about-retirement/?utm_source=mostpopular

Justice Clarence Thomas Suggests SCOTUS Will 'Soon Have No Choice' But to Rein in Ability of 'Domina

Source: Law & Crime

Justice Clarence Thomas Suggests SCOTUS Will ‘Soon Have No Choice’ But to Rein in Ability of ‘Dominant Digital Platforms’ to Moderate Speech Online

The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday put an end to a lawsuit that challenged then-President Donald Trump’s then-ability to block his critics on his personal Twitter account. The justices unanimously vacated a lower court’s decision, which held that Trump’s actions violated the First Amendment. The high court ordered the case dismissed as moot in light of the fact that the former president has been permanently banned from Twitter. But more significantly, Justice Clarence Thomas became the first member of the high court to endorse a radical new view of social media companies that been steadily gaining steam among conservatives.

Writing a separate concurrence that was not joined by any of the other eight justices, Thomas suggested that social media companies like Twitter and Facebook had become too powerful and should be stripped of their First Amendment rights to moderate speech on their websites.

“Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties,” Thomas wrote. “We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.”

Read more: https://lawandcrime.com/supreme-court/justice-clarence-thomas-suggests-scotus-will-soon-have-no-choice-but-to-rein-in-ability-of-dominant-digital-platforms-to-moderate-speech-online/?utm_source=mostpopular

Police Say They Shot and Killed 'Armed' 13-Year-Old Boy in Chicago

Source: Law and Crime

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) confirmed that the “subject” who was shot and killed during an “armed confrontation” with officers in Little Village early Monday morning has been identified as a 13-year-old boy, several Chicago-area news sources reported on Thursday.

According to the reports, a CPD official said that Adam Toledo, 13, who lived in the South Side neighborhood, died from a gunshot wound to the chest. The teen was identified by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Officers on the scene were responding to a ShotSpotter tip—the city’s gunfire detection network. Shots had been heard in the area at approximately 2:35 a.m. on Monday. Police said that officers, upon arriving at the scene, spotted “two subjects in a nearby alley.”

“One subject fled on foot which resulted in an armed confrontation. One subject shot and killed. 2nd subject in custody. Gun recovered on scene,” CPD spokesman Tom Ahern said, including a photo of the firearm and evidence marker on the ground.

Read more: https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/police-say-they-shot-and-killed-armed-13-year-old-boy-in-chicago/

Secret Service tried to cover up incident involving Hunter Biden's gun - report

Source: The Guardian

The US Secret Service sought to cover up a bizarre incident in which a gun belonging to to Hunter Biden was dumped in a trash can behind a grocery store then found to be missing, the website Politico reported on Thursday.

Delaware police were concerned the gun, a .38 revolver, could be found and used in a crime, the website said, adding that it was eventually found by a man rummaging the trash for recycling. The Secret Service reportedly approached the store where the gun was purchased, seeking to obtain all records of the transaction. The owner reportedly declined.


Politico said it had obtained copies of records relating to Hunter Biden’s purchase of the gun, on 12 October 2018. It said he answered “no” to a question about unlawful use or addiction to “marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance”.

“Five years earlier,” the website said, “he had been discharged from the US navy reserve after testing positive for cocaine, and he and family members have spoken about his history of drug use.

“Lying on the form is a felony, though prosecutions for it are exceedingly rare.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/25/hunter-biden-gun-cover-up-secret-service

BREAKING: Spa shooting suspect had visited Atlanta locations before, cops say

Source: AJC

Police on Thursday said their investigation has revealed that the suspect in Tuesday’s spa shooting spree in the metro area had visited both of the northeast Atlanta locations in the past.

“I can say that he had frequented both of those locations,” deputy police Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said at a news conference Thursday. “Unfortunately, they were at that location. I can’t say that he specifically targeted those individuals. He did frequent those two locations.”

The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was arrested in South Georgia on Tuesday night. The 21-year-old from Woodstock has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.


At a news conference Wednesday, Cherokee investigators said Long had a sex addiction and frequented the types of businesses targeted in Tuesday’s shootings, reportedly calling them a “temptation he wanted to eliminate.”

Read more: https://www.ajc.com/news/breaking-spa-shooting-suspect-had-visited-atlanta-locations-before-cops-say/ZL2A43CHM5H4ZAQTOKZ2HSQ3BA/

Joe Manchin just took an important filibuster reform off the table

Source: Vox

Sen. Joe Manchin, the most conservative member of the Senate Democratic caucus, has spent the past couple of weeks doling out cryptic hints that he might be open to changing filibuster rules that currently allow the Republican minority to block most legislation unless a bill is supported by at least 60 senators.

On Wednesday, however, he appeared to shut the door on several ideas floated by proponents of filibuster reform within the Senate. Manchin’s latest move does not mean that filibuster reform is dead, but it does suggest that Democrats who wish to make it easier to enact legislation may struggle to come up with a strong package of reforms that will win Manchin’s support.

Earlier this month, Manchin told Meet the Press’s Chuck Todd that he’s open to making the filibuster “a little bit more painful” for the minority, and that he might be willing to make senators “stand there and talk” if they wish to maintain a filibuster. The West Virginia senator, in other words, appeared open to a so-called “talking filibuster,” where senators who wish to block legislation must speak continuously on the Senate floor in order to maintain a filibuster.


And Manchin’s newly stated opposition to burden shifting — that is, moving to requiring 41 senators to sustain a filibuster instead of requiring 60 senators to break one — is a particularly significant blow to reform efforts. Burden shifting, combined with other reforms such as a talking filibuster, could have imposed very potent limits on the minority’s power to obstruct legislation.

Read more: https://www.vox.com/2021/3/17/22336181/joe-manchin-filibuster-reform-41-votes-talking-jeff-merkley-senate-rules
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