Sunday, September 16, 2018

Last Call For Supreme Misgivings, Con't

The Borking of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination by whatever means necessary has now become a moral imperative for Democrats.

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.

Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it. 
Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County
While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth. 
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” 
Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house. 
Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

The White House is denying everything, the Senate Judiciary says the Thursday vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation will proceed without delay or without investigating Ford's claim, and most likely we will have a rapist on the Supreme Court who will be the fifth and deciding vote to end legalized abortion, end legalized birth control, and end women's control of their own reproductive health, their bodies, their freedom and their lives.

Republicans will do nothing.

A lawyer close to the White House said the nomination will not be withdrawn. 
“No way, not even a hint of it,” the lawyer said. “If anything, it’s the opposite. If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something.”

"We" meaning white, male, straight Republicans.  "We can all be accused of something."  Racism. Sexual assault.  White privilege.

Brett Kavanaugh is being put on the Supreme Court to end that.

He will be appointed to the court by a man currently under investigation for criminal malfeasance both before and during his term in the Oval Office.

He will be confirmed by a Senate where Republican women will be the deciding votes to sentence America's women to a life of servitude and punishment for daring to have sex while fertile (and otherwise).

Senate Democrats have to find a way to stop him.


Trump Trading Blows, Con't

The Trump Trade War with China will finally hit US consumers starting next week as Donald Trump is expected to officially announce 10% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports as soon as Monday.

President Trump has decided to impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, two people briefed on the decision said, one of the most severe economic restrictions ever imposed by a U.S. president.

An announcement is expected to come within days, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss internal plans.

The new tariffs would apply to more than 1,000 products, including refrigerators, air conditioners, furniture, televisions and toys. These penalties could drive up the cost of a range of products ahead of the holiday shopping season, though it’s unclear how much.

Apple said recently its Apple Watch, AirPods, MacMini and a variety of chargers and adapters would be caught in the tariff war. “Our concern with these tariffs is that the U.S. will be hardest hit, and that will result in lower U.S. growth and competitiveness and higher prices for U.S. consumers,” the company said in a letter to the U. S. Trade representative. “The burden of the proposed tariffs will fall much more heavily on the United States than on China.”

Trump has ordered aides to set the tariffs at 10 percent, likely leading to higher prices for American consumers. These tariffs are paid by U.S. companies that import the products, though they often pass the costs along to U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices.

The U.S. imports roughly $500 billion in Chinese goods each year, and — combined with existing tariffs — these new penalties would cover half of all goods sent to the U.S. from China each year.

The 10 percent tariff is scaled back from Trump’s initial plan to impose 25 percent penalties on all of these imports. But the impact will still likely be felt by millions of American consumers.

A White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: “The President has been clear that he and his administration will continue to take action to address China’s unfair trade practices. We encourage China to address the long standing concerns raised by the United States. ”

Gosh, I can't think of a better way for Republicans to run on the strength of the "Trump economy" than by jacking up prices by 10% or more for American voters just before midterm elections, can you?

No wonder Republicans are already in full panic mode about November.

As Democrats enter the fall midterm campaign with palpable confidence about reclaiming the House and perhaps even the Senate, tensions are rising between the White House and congressional Republicans over who is to blame for political difficulties facing the party, with President Trump’s advisers pointing to the high number of G.O.P. retirements and lawmakers placing the blame squarely on the president’s divisive style.

Yet Republican leaders do agree on one surprising element in the battle for Congress: They cannot rely on the booming economy to win over undecided voters.

And when Trump's trade war starts costing jobs and the economy stops booming, what will they rely on?  Fear? Racism? War?

All three?

Sunday Long Read: Desert Of The Real

Saritha Ramakrishna.  What future can cities like Phoenix have in a world where climate change makes this metro area of nearly 5 million less and less sustainable -- and survivable -- every year, especially for those who can't afford to relocate?

My father once showed me an 8 ½” x 11” photo of a McDonald’s drive-through sign, set against a landscape of red dust. There was nothing around for miles; yellow arches were the only humanizing marker in an endless plain. He asked me where I thought the picture was taken. I had no idea. He later showed the picture to our neighborhood friends at a party and explained that it was land he was considering purchasing south of our home in Chandler, AZ. They nodded, asking about prices and contracts with polite interest. Once this had gone on long enough, he revealed he had actually edited those golden arches onto a stock image of Mars. I cringed, all the adults laughed. It was a summer day. The sun burned with its typical intensity, insistent on my skin. The cracked concrete around the pool tessellated outward like the Martian ground. I let my feet dangle in the water, watched them become silhouettes, ghostly in the unnatural blue. All seemed well.

Years later, on July 20, 2017, temperatures in the City of Phoenix reached 119 degrees, the fourth hottest day the city had ever experienced. The city’s national weather service branch represented the highest temperatures in a shade of brilliant magenta. These areas were designated as “rare, dangerous, and possibly life threatening.” All of Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs glowed pink

People retreated into their homes and let the air conditioning circulate. They dove underwater, and hoped for the best. Days like these are stagnant, the air immobilizing. It presses against the body and asphalt, radiating through a network of suburban homes in Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, the Encanto, and elsewhere in the Valley of the Sun. Cul-de-sacs turn ghostly; the sidewalks catch the light, shimmer like water. For those waiting at the light rail or bus stops, shade provides temporary relief, though it’s a landscape not meant for continuous exposure. In order to save on air-conditioning bills, towels are soaked in ice water, dripped across overheated skin. Elsewhere, water falls from restaurant misters, flows cyclically around the waterpark rivers of Sunsplash and Big Surf.

The city of Phoenix sweltered under these impossibly hot skies, as temperatures climbed in a historic upward trajectory. Every year the city experiences an average of three months of temperatures over 100 degrees, or “triple-digit days” as local weathermen describe them. By 2060, it’s expected that three months will turn into four-and-a-half months.

I grew up in Chandler, AZ, one of many linked suburbs in greater Phoenix. Chandler is composed of networks of pools and round-edged subdivisions. Summers brought the acridity of settling chlorine in sinuses, sweat drying in artificially cooled air. In the Valley of the Sun, heat, wealth, and water move together and apart, repelling and attracting each other, shaping housing markets and their occupants’ bodies and livelihoods.

In friends’ backyards and community pools, the better-off among us gossiped and played Truth-or-Dare, fought over outcomes of Sharks-and-Minnows and Marco Polo. We spent our time hiding from each other amongst the greenery of neighborhood parks, or remained captive indoors, tethered to desktop monitors. On such July days, we lived half-online, half-underwater.

I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts during last year’s heat wave. I sat in my work cubicle refreshing social media feeds every few minutes, clicking through the photos and articles that materialized. In pixelated appreciation I scrolled past videos and photos of recycling bins melted into trickling blue goo, kids frying eggs on sidewalks and on the dashboards of cars. I had been admitted to MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning a few months prior, intending to study climate change. That day, I imagined the entire city melting, congealing into indistinguishability. 
Not long after, I spoke with Dr. Nancy Selover, Arizona’s State Climatologist about this heat wave and the increasing temperatures in the state. She told me that the difficulty of extreme temperatures is that they “typically come in a heat wave” which puts residents at greater health risk. (In 2016, Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix-Metropolitan area, reported 130 heat deaths, the highest count of the past 15 years.) The city’s record high was an impossible 122 degrees in 1990, which has yet to be broken, though she warned that “we’re edging towards probably matching that in the next couple years.” Without adaptive or mitigating measures, by the end of the century the city could be six to eight degrees warmer. Its infrastructure contributes to variations in heat exposure, via Phoenix’s well-acknowledged urban heat-island effect, a phenomenon where paved surfaces trap heat that is slowly released overnight.

“The impact of the heat island in terms of warming the City of Phoenix is almost an order of magnitude greater than climate change, greater than global or regional warming,” Dr. Selover said. Though she does not expect that this will remain the case, this notion is counter to narratives that frame climate-related issues as matters of individual choice, as opposed to summative infrastructural ones. All of Phoenix’s development and its storied overlays play a role in these hazards—developers, sellers, and homebuyers alike.

The city government has acknowledged the heat island, and the importance of canopy coverage to mitigate it. It disproportionately affects the poor, whose neighborhoods do not have the tree and shade coverage of richer areas, where air conditioning bills are an undue financial burden. Dr. Selover pointed out, “We have some older neighborhoods that have been here for years and years and years and they have a lot of turf grass, and they have a lot of big leaf trees, and they have a lot of shade, a lot of cooling,” while “the poorer communities, a lot of the minority communities don’t have the benefit of that shade.”

What I've seen time and time again is that when it comes to the effects of climate change, it's those with the fewest resources who will be made to suffer the most.


Borderline Psychopaths

The death of Mollie Tibbetts last month allegedly at the hands of an undocumented immigrant was all the rage on the right in August, primary evidence that America's most precious natural resource of college-aged white girls were going to be snuffed out by the savage brown horde. We need walls, we need more border agents, we need border agents made out of walls!

Fast-forward to September, where a US Border Patrol employee has been accused of being a serial killer of women, and radio silence from the right.

A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor was charged Saturday with murder in the deaths of four female sex workers following what authorities called a two-week killing spree that ended when a fifth woman escaped from him at a Texas gas station and found help.

Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said in a tweet that Juan David Ortiz, 35, an intel supervisor for the Border Patrol, had been charged with four counts of murder as well as aggravated assault and unlawful restraint.

Ortiz, a 10-year Border Patrol veteran, was arrested early Saturday after the fifth woman escaped and found a state trooper. Ortiz fled and was found hiding in a truck in a hotel parking lot in Laredo, about 145 miles (235 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio.

“We do consider this to be a serial killer,” Alaniz said.

Alaniz told The Texas Tribune that after Ortiz picked up the fifth woman she quickly realized that she was in danger.

“When she tried to escape from him at a gas station that’s when she ran into a (state) trooper,” Alaniz said.

He said that authorities believe Ortiz had killed all four women since Sept. 3. The names of the victims were not immediately released. Alaniz said two of them were U.S. citizens but the nationalities of the other two were not yet known.

“The manner in which they were killed is similar in all the cases from the evidence,” said Alaniz. He declined to say how they were killed.

Alaniz said investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the killings. Authorities believe he acted alone.

“It’s interesting that he would be observing and watching as law enforcement was looking for the killer, that he would be reporting to work every day like normal,” Alaniz said.

Maybe the problem is violent men abuse and kill women, and that a whole lot of violent men who do abuse and kill women seem to gravitate towards jobs in the military and in law enforcement.

Just sayin'.
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