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crickets

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If only more in media were as conscientious about doing their jobs.

“We’re out on a ledge here,” Lambert remembers thinking. Both he and Blanchard hoped other news organizations would join them. “But it’s been radio silence,” Lambert said.


Shameful.

For people who can't get past the WaPo paywall:

https://www.witf.org/2021/01/28/countering-the-big-lie-witf-newsrooms-coverage-will-connect-lawmakers-with-their-election-fraud-actions/

So, as part of WITF’s commitment to factual reporting, and because many who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 have said their goal was to overthrow the U.S. electoral system and government, we will use language in our reporting to show how elected officials’ actions are connected to the election-fraud lie and the insurrection. [snip]

We are not taking this approach lightly, and will apply it for lawmakers who took at least one of these three actions: signed on to a Texas lawsuit aimed at invalidating Pennsylvania’s election; signed on to a state House or a state Senate letter urging Congressional representatives to object to or delay certification; and voted against certification. The list of lawmakers is here. [snip]

We understand this may be an unusual decision for a news organization to make. But, these are not normal times. As disinformation and misinformation take more and more of a foothold in our social media feeds and dinner-table discussions, it is important for our journalists to adapt, as transparently as possible, to bring you the facts and not memory-hole the damage done to our democracy in the last three months.


I disagree that it's an unusual decision, but aside from that: bravo, WITF!

Meanwhile, in Texas...

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/20/crystal-mason-texas-upholds-sentence-voter-suppression

A Texas appeals court on Thursday upheld a five-year prison sentence for a woman who was convicted of illegally voting even though she didn’t know she was ineligible when she went to the polls in 2016. The punishment for the Fort Worth woman, Crystal Mason, stirred national outrage because of its severity, prompting accusations that prosecutors were trying to intimidate Texans from voting.

Four years ago, Mason was on supervised release, similar to probation, for a federal felony conviction related to tax fraud. She didn’t know that Texas prohibits felons from voting until they finish their sentence entirely. Mason voted in the last presidential election at the urging of her mother and cast a provisional ballot when poll workers couldn’t find her name on the voter registration rolls. The ballot was never counted because Mason was not an eligible voter.

During her 2018 trial probation officials testified that they never told Mason she could not vote, but the appeals court said that didn’t matter. Mason was guilty, the court said, because she knew she was on supervised release. “Contrary to Mason’s assertion, the fact that she did not know she was legally ineligible to vote was irrelevant to her prosecution,” Justice Wade Birdwell wrote for a three-judge panel on Texas’ second court of appeals. [snip]

Because she was convicted of illegal voting while on supervised release, a federal judge had also sent her back to federal prison in late 2018, where she served several months. Her teenage daughter Taylor put off going to college to come home and run the household. The family depended in part on donations from a GoFundMe account. Since her conviction, Mason has become more politically active – she hosted a voter registration drive ahead of Texas’s primary.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Mason

On November 30, 2020 Mason's attorneys filed a petition with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the case.[11] The petition asserts that the lower court ruling violates Texas law and conflicts with the Court's previous ruling in DeLay v. State. The conviction of Former Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay was thrown out on the basis that an individual must "know" that their conduct violates the Election Code. Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas was quoted in a press release saying "The same result must apply to Crystal—a woman who was not aware she was ineligible to vote and had no reason to risk her liberty." On March 31, 2021 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has agreed to consider Crystal Mason's appeal.[12]


Crystal Mason is currently out on bond while her case is being appealed.

Well. Rebekah Mercer gets her pet propaganda project up and running again. Yay.

Major Trump backer Rebekah Mercer orchestrates Parler’s second act / FEB 24
Mercer, whose family also invested in right-wing news site Breitbart, controls two of the three board seats at the company
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/24/parler-relaunch-rebekah-mercer/

Rebekah Mercer, the 47-year-old daughter of major Republican donor Robert Mercer, is a founding investor of Parler. She increasingly pulls the strings at the company, according to people familiar with the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private business matters. She holds the majority stake in Parler and controlled two of three board seats as of early February — a board to which she recently appointed allies. [snip]

Now Mercer, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected president in 2016, is working to revive the site. It came back online last week with her new handpicked CEO, former Tea Party Patriots leader, Mark Meckler, at the helm. It’s the latest in a long line of maneuvers by the Mercer family to create an alternative media industry that pushes a version of the news that fits with their right-wing, populist political agenda — while keeping a low profile themselves. [snip]

Mercer has worked with her father for years to fund and support a complicated web of foundations and companies designed in part to sow distrust of big government. The Mercers invested in data company Cambridge Analytica, the firm that spurred a long-running scandal over misuse of Facebook data. They also invested heavily in right-wing site Breitbart News and were instrumental in connecting its then executive chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, with Trump, whom he served as a senior adviser until mid-2017. [snip]

In the weeks while Parler was dark, Meckler was appointed interim CEO. Matthew Richardson, another Mercer ally and former party secretary of the populist right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP), joined the executive committee.


More info also covered re Rebekah, Parler and its role in the insurrection, as well as the hosting company (SkySilk) and new automated moderating. I don't trust anything about Parler for a second, especially not with the cast involved behind the scenes. Pfffft. This will not be a good thing.

Abolish qualified immunity and require liability/malpractice insurance.

https://twitter.com/Dub9Giant/status/1383884557728894981
Entrée the Giant Cut of meatBurritoSushi @Dub9Giant
Replying to @Ali_Gharib and @mehdirhasan
Qualified immunity is the structural reform that fixes 80% of this shit. Disgusting behavior outside of police regulations should not be insulated from personal responsibility. The effect of one abusive policeman losing everything to a high-profile lawsuit will work wonders.
4:46 PM · Apr 18, 2021


https://twitter.com/dbanttari/status/1383891459040944136
Daryl Banttari @dbanttari Replying to @Dub9Giant @Ali_Gharib and @mehdirhasan
Sure, but then also require cops to get liability/malpractice insurance. Insurance carriers will clear this shit right up because they'll refuse to insure violent cops, and will also likely require training if said training makes them less likely to get sued


They're both right. That would put a stop to a lot of this violent nonsense, and quickly. The problem is getting it done. Police 'unions' are one of the main obstacles. Their power to hamstring efforts in curbing police abuse is far outside what it should be, and something needs to be done about it.

No kidding. Really? But why are the Madison Dinners not being included in this report?

The report did not delve into questions about the Madison Dinners, a set of gatherings the Pompeos held that drew allegations that the pair were trying to beef up their political Rolodexes under the guise of diplomatic work. A person familiar with the issue said investigators looked into the question of the Madison Dinners but determined that the couple had not violated rules that govern such matters.


What? That determination makes no sense at all.

Taxpayers paid for food, a harpist, and goody bags for Pompeo's frequent 500-guest formal dinners
https://news.yahoo.com/taxpayers-paid-food-harpist-goody-145047018.html

Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pompeo often invited hundreds of guests to the U.S. State Department for his "Madison Dinners," referring to how former President James Madison often met with foreign diplomats over a meal. But unlike Madison, Pompeo invited more than just diplomats to his dinners, and sent the bill for food, entertainment, and goody bags to the U.S. government, NBC News reports.

Pompeo held about two dozen Madison dinners since he took office in 2018, and they were scheduled through October until the coronavirus hit, NBC News reports via dinner guest lists and State Department calendars. About 30 percent of invitees worked in politics, another 29 percent came from corporate backgrounds, a quarter were in media and entertainment, and just 14 percent were actually involved in foreign policy. Some of those less diplomatic invitees included Reba McEntire, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, and they all enjoyed harp music and embossed Madison Dinner pens and journals to take home.



https://www.citizensforethics.org/reports-investigations/crew-investigations/mike-pompeo-spent-10k-engraved-madison-dinner-pen/

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent more than $10,000 in taxpayer funds on engraved Madison Dinner-branded pens that he gifted to attendees of the notorious dinner parties, according to records obtained by CREW in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The guests included high-profile Republican donors, who could be politically useful if Pompeo runs for office in the future. This new disclosure brings the total amount of taxpayer funds spent on the dinners to at least $50,000, several thousand more than previously reported.

The new records reveal that the pens, which were custom-embossed with Madison Dinner logos, cost the Department at least $10,433 for a total of 400 pens. [snip]

Pompeo reportedly gifted the taxpayer-funded pens as a keepsake to Madison Dinner guests, who included high-profile Republican political donors. According to NBC News, State Department officials involved in the dinners “had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions.” [snip]

This $10,000 bill to taxpayers is just one piece of what appears to be a larger pattern of the Pompeos abusing government resources for personal gain. If pens alone cost $10,000, the dinners themselves may well be significantly more expensive than shown in the receipts the State Department has so far turned over to CREW.


And that's just the pens. It's a good bet that the food, drink, other gifts, and staff efforts involved in two dozen 500-guest formal dinners cost more than $50,000. Unreal.

Felix Silla was in so many movies and TV shows; it's amazing.

I wondered about the above picture on the left with the Maltese Falcon.

https://deadline.com/2021/04/felix-silla-dies-cousin-itt-on-the-addams-family-tv-show-was-84-obituary-1234737466/

One role where he could be seen was as the villain Litvak, who took on George Segal’s Sam Spade Jr. in The Maltese Falcon sequel The Black Bird (1975).


Mystery solved! Apparently the movie stunk, which is too bad. Another interesting article:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/felix-silla-cousin-itt-on-the-addams-family-dies-at-84

A year later, he worked in the Gig Young-Shirley Jones comedy film A Ticklish Affair and appeared on the Bonanza episode "Hoss and the Leprechauns," and in 1965, he was in "The Cage," the 1965 first pilot for Star Trek.

Silla's size allowed him to stand in, double and/or play youngsters, as in Planet of the Apes (1968), Demon Seed (1977) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and he did stunt work in The Towering Inferno (1974), The Hindenburg (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Poltergeist (1982), The Golden Child (1986), Howard the Duck (1986) and Batman Returns (1992).

His big-screen résumé also included Point Blank (1967), The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), The Brood (1979) and Spaceballs (1987), and on TV, he was a regular performer for Sid and Marty Krofft on H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville


The article goes on, with many more roles mentioned. ...Wait a minute. Felix Silla was in ST: The Cage?

https://www.startrek.com/article/catching-up-with-the-cage-talosian-felix-silla

Short article about his appearance in the episode as well as an interview, well worth the read:

I'm fully retired. I retired in 1996. I did my last movie in Romania and then I just retired. I gave it up. I got my pension. There's not much work left in California. As a matter of fact, not too much work now, because little people, there's so many little people and not enough work for everybody. So, I gave it up, and in 2003 I decided to move out of the San Fernando Valley, and I moved to Las Vegas. And, yes, now I do a lot of conventions, signing autographs, making appearances. I enjoy it. I get to see all of my fans and I get to meet some new ones. I'm having a lot of fun, traveling, a lot of traveling. I’ll be in Las Vegas for the big Star Trek convention. I live here, in Vegas, so it’s an easy one for me. [snip]

When I do these shows, everyone says, "You're a part of my life" or "I grew up with you." I love to hear that. I made a living, I worked with some very talented people, and I also made a lot of people happy. I’ve also got my family… (his wife, two daughters, a son and five grandchildren). So, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. [more]


Yes, he did make a lot of people very happy. It sounds like he had a good time doing what loved and was very happy himself, which makes me glad. What a long interesting career (and life) Felix Silla had.



Kash Patel is not an obscure man.

Who was a big contributor to the Nunes memo? Kash Patel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nunes_memo
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/the-men-behind-the-nunes-memo/551825/

Nunes has been conducting a parallel investigation into the FBI and the Justice Department since March 2017, when he first began examining whether top officials improperly “unmasked” and then leaked the names of Trump associates who surfaced in intelligence reports during the transition period. Nunes did not write the three-and-a-half-page memo outlining the initial findings of that investigation—which is ongoing—by himself, however.

Two sources familiar with the matter told me that much of the heavy lifting was done by Kash Patel, a top Nunes staffer and senior committee counsel. Patel previously attracted media attention by traveling to London late last summer—without the knowledge of the U.S. embassy or British government—along with committee staffer Doug Presley in search of Christopher Steele, author of a controversial dossier on Trump.



Who did an end run around Alexander Vindman for access to trump regarding Ukraine? Kash Patel

https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/lt-col-vindman-says-author-of-the-nunes-memo-misrepresented-himself-as-ukraine-expert-to-trump/

According to two people familiar with the closed-door interview, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that upon returning from the inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelensky in May, he was scheduled to debrief President Trump on the promising start to the new Ukrainian president’s term. [snip]

However, “at the last second,” Vindman’s debriefing of Trump was cancelled, he reportedly told lawmakers Tuesday. According to accounts of the testimony, Vindman was told by NSC senior director for European and Russian affairs Dr. Fiona Hill that his positive outlook on U.S.-Ukraine relations might confuse the president because it would contradict what he had been told by Kashyap “Kash” Patel. Hill previously testified that Trump had been led to believe that Patel, not Vindman, was actually the NSC’s top Ukraine expert.

According to the report, Vindman also said that Patel had been intentionally bypassing NSC protocol in order convince Trump that the Ukrainian government was a hotbed of corruption, feeding him materials that reaffirmed his belief the country interfered in the 2016 election.

Patel, a former counterterrorism prosecutor in the Justice Department’s National Security Division and senior aide to Nunes, had joined the the National Security Council staff in February with no apparent experience in Ukraine or Ukrainian politics.


Anyone paying any attention just before and during the first impeachment has heard of this man. He's a menace, and has been for some time. Thanks for the article, Nevilledog. Apparently Patel was an even busier disruptor than previously realized - it's a relief to know he's finally being investigated.

Not really. Braidy Industries is not holding up their end.

The whole thing sounds like it may have been pie in the sky from the beginning. Mitch, of course, claimed to know nothing about what was going on -- while still pushing hard to get sanctions lifted.

Russian Company Bankrolling Troubled Kentucky Aluminum Plant Suspends Investments / Mar 2021
https://www.wuky.org/post/russian-company-bankrolling-troubled-kentucky-aluminum-plant-suspends-investments

According to a Bloomberg report, Rusal, the formerly blacklisted Russian company with a major stake in the 10-figure project, is suspending its investments while it awaits word that its U.S. partners have raised the necessary funds. So far the company has sunk at least $65 million in the proposed mill, to be built by Unity Aluminum, previously known as Braidy Industries.

The news is only the latest twist for the troubled project, which has been plagued by fundraising questions and the ouster of the CEO formerly overseeing the venture. Rusal's involvement has been controversial from the start, after it was revealed that the company had been subject to sanctions.

Kentucky pledged $15 million in taxpayer dollars toward the project under former Gov. Matt Bevin, but current Gov. Andy Beshear has repeatedly vowed to get the money back if the mill project doesn't materialize.

Backers have touted the plant, which was slated for completion last year, as one that could create up to 550 jobs.


Russian Backer Halts Funds in New Blow to U.S. Aluminum Project / Mar 2021
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-17/russian-backer-halts-funds-in-new-blow-to-u-s-aluminum-project

The funding freeze is the latest in a series of twists, including a battle for control of the mill that led to the ousting last year of Braidy’s chief executive officer, and questions over the timing when the U.S. lifted sanctions on Rusal. The plan announced in 2017 was for a $1.3 billion rolling mill to meet growing demand for the metal from the automotive, packaging and aerospace markets.

“Unfortunately, our partner failed to contribute necessary equity from their side, so then it was a substantial change of the management and shareholder structure of Braidy Industries,” Oleg Mukhamedshin, Rusal’s deputy CEO, said on a call. “We put on hold any further investments of the project as per our agreement, and we still expect our partners to raise necessary financing after the Covid pandemic gets better.”

Mukhamedshin said Rusal’s “Plan B” is to convert the investment into a debt instrument with certain securities if Unity Aluminum isn’t successful in securing the necessary funding.


Braidy Industries gave former CEO Craig Bouchard $6 million to sever ties with company / Jun 2020
https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/19/ex-ceo-craig-bouchard-got-6-million-sever-ties-braidy/3224909001/

A Securities and Exchange Commission report filed by Braidy Industries on Monday showed it paid $6 million to former CEO Craig Bouchard as part of a settlement to drop his lawsuit against the company and fully sever his ties.

Bouchard founded the company in 2017 and announced plans to build a $1.7 billion aluminum rolling mill near Ashland with an initial investment of $15 million from the taxpayers of Kentucky — a project that has stalled because of Braidy's inability to secure enough funding. [snip]

Braidy Industries must raise $300 million before Rusal is required to give an additional $125 million of capital contributions. If that investment is not raised, Rusal could walk away from the agreement, with the report stating it "may leave the Mill without sufficient funding to complete construction and commence operations or obtain the necessary debt financing to do so."


US Senate report says Russian investor in Braidy Industries' mill is a proxy for the Kremlin / Aug 2020
https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2020/08/19/senate-report-russian-investor-braidy-mill-kremlin-proxy/5607217002/

A Russian company that has invested in Braidy Industries' planned aluminum rolling mill in Eastern Kentucky was identified as a proxy of the Kremlin in a new report the Senate Intelligence Committee released this week. [snip]

The Republican-led Senate committee released a report Tuesday that detailed extensive connections between President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign advisers and people with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime. [snip]

The Senate committee's report, which examines Russian efforts to interfere in America's 2016 presidential election, says: "Deripaska's companies, including RUSAL, are proxies for the Kremlin, including for Russian government influence efforts, economic measures, and diplomatic relations." [snip]

A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report Braidy filed in June said Rusal had provided $75 million so far for the mill project as of Dec. 31, 2019, but had discontinued further contributions until Braidy secures another $300 million in funding.

The Kentucky Democratic Party on Wednesday questioned McConnell's decision to support lifting the sanctions on Rusal, in light of the Senate Intelligence Committee report's identification of Rusal as a proxy for the Kremlin. [more]


Apologies for the wall o' text. Moscow Mitch brings out the furious copy and paste in me.

That is the question.

Four of the five helicopters that flew that night were medical aircraft. It was a violation of Army regulations to use them on nonmedical missions without specific approval, the report found. Brig. Gen. Robert K. Ryan, who oversaw the mission, did not seek approval and did not know of the requirement, the report said. [snip]

And as video and photos of the maneuvers spilled onto social media, one of Ryan’s subordinates, who is unidentified in the report, exclaimed to his boss in a text message, “your helicopters are looking good!!!”

“OMG! I am out here too,” the general replied. “Incredible. I got special permission to launch. Full authorities.”

The next day, as D.C. officials and members of Congress demanded answers, Army officials informed Ryan there were concerns about the helicopter flights. Ryan told them the mission had been “fully vetted” by Trump.

Investigators found “no evidence,” the report says, that the use of air assets was ever discussed among senior leaders coordinating the military’s response that night.


I know the president is CIC and all, but in the end it's the brass giving the definitive orders. So, did Ryan give those orders? How precise were they? Who gave 'special permission' and what does that mean? What senior leaders were out of the loop re the use of air assets? What excuse could Ryan possibly have that he didn't know the medical aircraft were illegal to use, much less in flying that dangerously low?

The whole thing is a mess, and "oops" just doesn't cover it. It was so incredibly dangerous for the citizens below, as well as the pilots themselves. One wrong move involving a crash would have been devastating, and for what? As far as I can recall, the D.C. protests were peaceful to that point. There was no need for any of this crap.

eta - and let's not forget the Posse Comitatus issues, which aren't even mentioned in the article. Yowsa.

Well, well, well. What a shame.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/88n48z/leaked-chats-show-white-lives-matter-movement-in-shambles-after-antifa-infiltration

Optics have also been a significant hurdle for White Lives Matter organizers, who hoped to tap into the influx of “normie” MAGA supporters on Telegram following the January 6 Capitol riot. They knew that if they wanted to get any significant numbers for rallies on April 11, they’d have to broaden their appeal and avoid associating their event with explicitly Nazi or white supremacist content. This has been a common goal of several suit-and-tie white nationalist groups in recent years, who rely on dog whistles and euphemism to push their ideas mainstream. But subtlety quickly proved to be a steep challenge for White Lives Matter organizers. [snip]


Gee, ya think?

The Michigan Proud Boy drafted a statement to distribute to various Telegram channels. “Remember, if you wish to be taken legitimately and professionally, behave accordingly,” he wrote. “It shouldn't have to be said, but if your profile picture has swastikas, iron crosses or any other symbols that is commonly associated with the NS movement, consider removing them.”

But then he got self conscious. “God this sounds like left wing sensitivity bullshit drivel,” he added. [more]


There's a bit more detail in the article, including a sadly amusing story about the Michigan Proud Boy getting in trouble with his organization because of his involvement with WLM.

Racists in disarray! GOOD.
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