Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Last Call For The Jackson, Hole, Con't

The Biden administration is now investigating the Jackson water crisis and looking a possible criminal probe like the one in Flint, Michigan.

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched a review of the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, which left thousands of residents without water for days, an official confirmed to CBS News Saturday.

Jennifer Kaplan, spokesperson for the EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), told CBS News that the agency had launched a "multidisciplinary review" of the crisis.

The OIG has sent personnel to Jackson who are currently on the ground collecting date and conducting interviews surrounding work related to the city's water system.

"We're going to be talking to as many people as we can and see what kind of work we can do," Kaplan said. "It is all hands on deck."

Kaplan also told CBS News that she had notified the office of Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba of the EPA's inquiry.

Kaplan explained there are three divisions involved in the review: audits, evaluations and investigations.

She would not specify which divisions were deployed by the OIG.

The work is similar to the investigations in Flint, Michigan, and Red Hill, Hawaii, Kaplan said.

The Flint investigation resulted in nine indictments. Kaplan explained that if there is evidence of criminal activity, the information will be referred to Justice Department. The OIG personnel will also be interviewing state and local officials and their employees.
And now it's time for the other massive scandal in Mississippi politics that's under federal investigation as former GOP Gov. Phil Bryant and NFL star QB Brett Farve are looking at federal investigators closing in.

Text messages entered Monday into the state’s ongoing civil lawsuit over the welfare scandal reveal that former Gov. Phil Bryant pushed to make NFL legend Brett Favre’s volleyball idea a reality.

The texts show that the then-governor even guided Favre on how to write a funding proposal so that it could be accepted by the Mississippi Department of Human Services – even after Bryant ousted the former welfare agency director John Davis for suspected fraud.

“Just left Brett Favre,” Bryant texted nonprofit founder Nancy New in July of 2019, within weeks of Davis’ departure. “Can we help him with his project. We should meet soon to see how I can make sure we keep your projects on course.”

When Favre asked Bryant how the new agency director might affect their plans to fund the volleyball stadium, Bryant assured him, “I will handle that… long story but had to make a change. But I will call Nancy and see what it will take,” according to the filing and a text Favre forwarded to New.

The newly released texts, filed Monday by an attorney representing Nancy New’s nonprofit, show that Bryant, Favre, New, Davis and others worked together to channel at least $5 million of the state’s welfare funds to build a new volleyball stadium at University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter played the sport. Favre received most of the credit for raising funds to construct the facility.

Bryant has for years denied any close involvement in the steering of welfare funds to the volleyball stadium, though plans for the project even included naming the building after him, one text shows.

New, a friend of Bryant’s wife Deborah, ran a nonprofit that was in charge of spending tens of millions of flexible federal welfare dollars outside of public view. What followed was the biggest public fraud case in state history, according to the state auditor’s office. Nonprofit leaders had misspent at least $77 million in funds that were supposed to help the needy, forensic auditors found.

New pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts related to the scheme, and Davis awaits trial. But neither Bryant nor Favre have been charged with any crime.

And while the state-of-the-art facility represents the single largest known fraudulent purchase within the scheme, according to one of the criminal defendant’s plea agreement, the state is not pursuing the matter in its ongoing civil complaint. Current Gov. Tate Reeves abruptly fired the attorney bringing the state’s case when he tried to subpoena documents related to the volleyball stadium.

The messages also show that a separate $1.1 million welfare contract Favre received to promote the program – the subject of many national headlines – was simply a way to get more funding to the volleyball project.

“I could record a few radio spots,” Favre texted New, according to the new filing. “…and whatever compensation could go to USM.”

So current GOP Gov. Tate Reeves killed the prosecution, but the embezzled welfare money came from the federal government. I guarantee you the DoJ is looking at all of this too. They turned millions in welfare money into a slush fund for the GOP, and let some of the poorest people in the country continue to suffer rather than help them.

That's corruption and racism, and it's a tale as old as America itself.

Huckle-barrier Graham And The Road To Gilead

Just when the Village idiots were getting comfortable disappearing Republican opposition to abortion down the memory hole while women are dying on the operating table because of lack of heathcare access, along comes SC GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham to remind everyone that the goal is to eliminate abortion access for all with a national 15-week abortion ban bill.

The South Carolina senator chose a uniquely tense moment to unveil his party’s first bill limiting abortion access since this summer’s watershed reversal of Roe v. Wade. It was designed as a nod to anti-abortion activists who have never felt more emboldened. Yet Graham’s bill also attempted to skate past a Republican Party that’s divided over whether Congress should even be legislating on abortion after the Supreme Court struck down a nationwide right to terminate pregnancies.

And some fellow Republicans said they were highly perplexed at Graham’s decision to introduce a new abortion ban — more conservative than his previous proposals — at a precarious moment for the party.

“I don’t think there’s an appetite for a national platform here. My state, today, is working on this. I’m not sure what he’s thinking here. But I don’t think there will be a rallying around that concept,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “I don’t think there’s much of an appetite to go that direction.”

Graham’s past pitches for a 20-week abortion ban attracted most Republicans’ support and even the votes of some Senate Democrats. His latest effort would leave in place state laws that are even more restrictive while also imposing new limits in blue states that currently have none. Coming less than 60 days before the midterms, it’s riled some Republicans, who are watching their once-dominant polling advantage shrink since the Roe reversal.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that questions about the bill should be directed to Graham and that most Republican senators “prefer this be handled at the state level.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested Graham had gone a bit rogue with his latest legislation: “That wasn’t a conference decision. It was an individual senator’s decision.”

“There’s obviously a split of opinion in terms of whether abortion law should be decided by the states … and those who want to set some sort of minimum standard,” Cornyn said of the 50-member Senate GOP conference. “I would keep an open mind on this but my preference would be for those decisions to be made on a state-by-state basis.”

Graham’s bill bans the procedure nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a priority of many prominent anti-abortion activists who have been demanding a far more aggressive response from the GOP. It includes exceptions for rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten maternal health.

While public polling shows majority opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in June, it also shows support for some limits on abortion. Republicans have often parried questions about their positions by turning the spotlight onto Democrats, who generally support no legislative limits on terminating pregnancy.

“There is a consensus view by the most prominent pro-life groups in America that this is where America should be at the federal level,” Graham said. “I don’t think this is going to hurt us. I think it will more likely hurt [Democrats] when they try to explain to some reasonable person why it’s OK to be more like Iran and less like France on abortion.”

Senate Republicans did not broach the subject at their Tuesday strategy lunch, according to attendees.

Nonetheless, the bill could cause especially acute problems for the party’s Senate hopefuls. McConnell said he trusted each individual candidate to calibrate their own positions.

Several Republican campaigns did not immediately respond to questions about Graham’s bill, but Herschel Walker, the GOP Senate nominee in Georgia, said he’d back the legislation.

“Raphael Warnock wants to protect the killing of babies right up to the moment of birth. We need to do better,” Walker said in a statement to POLITICO. “I am a proud pro-life Christian, and I will always stand up for our unborn children. I believe the issue should be decided at the state level, but I WOULD support this policy.”

Others, however, are steering clear. A spokesperson for Washington GOP Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley said that she opposes the Graham bill and believes that states should decide their abortion laws. And Colorado GOP Senate nominee Joe O’Dea made clear he too doesn’t support the bill as he faces Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in the Democratic-leaning state.

“A Republican ban is as reckless and tone deaf as is Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer’s hostility to” compromise, said O’Dea, who said he supports protecting abortion access early in pregnancies and applying “sensible limits” to late-term procedures.
A 15-week national ban on abortion is the GOP compromise position, after both Republicans and the Supreme Court basically destroyed a woman's right to her own body and  the GOP called it a "states' rights issue".

They were going to get away with it too, except now Graham has made that impossible. Every single Democrat up for a House or Senate race needs to plaster Graham's mug all over the TV along with his decree that yes, Republicans want to eliminate safe abortion across the country.

Better see some ads about the Republican's national abortion ban and soon, folks.

The Nice Italian Fascist

Seeing the Washington Post treat far-right Italian fascist Giorgia Meloni's "meteoric rise" towards Prime Minister as a good thing is bad enough, but it's pretty obvious that like Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Meloni is lying about being an authoritarian, and the Post is falling for the lie yet another time. 
The favorite to be Italy’s next prime minister has rocketed almost from out of nowhere.

Her party, until recently, was on the fringes. She was overlooked for years by Italy’s male-dominated political class. She is an unmarried mother with a heavy Roman accent, always casual and blunt, gesturing with hands to the sky, lambasting “woke ideology” and cancel culture.

By any account, Giorgia Meloni’s rise is astonishing. In a matter of weeks, if all goes as expected, she stands to become Italy’s first female leader. She’s also set a benchmark for a far-right politician in Western Europe, earning a level of power that’s been out of reach for her counterparts in Germany and France, and doing so even after the forces propelling nationalism on the continent — a migration backlash and Euroskepticism — have waned.

But Meloni’s profile is distinctive, as is the path she’s found for political success.

Amid war in Europe, she has notably avoided the pitfalls of nationalist figures elsewhere. She’s a strong NATO supporter and shows no affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin. She has pledged not to disrupt Italy’s stability and Atlantic alliances. The country, she says, won’t take some authoritarian turn.

What will surely change, though, is Italy’s tone. Meloni takes shots at the “LGBT lobby” and the “globalist” left. She highlights anecdotes about immigrant crime. She has said that “everything we stand for is under attack” — Christian values, gender norms. Some of her stances — like opposition to gay adoptions, for instance — don’t get much traction among Italian voters, but she cites them as evidence that she cares more about principles than popularity.

“In a political world where everyone’s saying one thing and doing another, our [party’s] system of values is pretty clear,” Meloni said in an interview with The Washington Post. “You may like it or not, but we aren’t misleading.”

If Meloni, 45, prevails, she’ll wind up with a hard job: running a country in a generation-long economic decline that is somewhat wary of her powers.

Those on the left have sounded the alarm, saying that Meloni could push Italy into Europe’s illiberal bloc, alongside Hungary and Poland, fighting against diversity and agitating against Brussels. Her opponents argue that her views can veer into the extreme. They cite past remarks — such as a speech from 2017 — in which Meloni said mass-scale illegal immigration to Italy was “planned and deliberate,” carried out by unnamed powerful forces to import low-wage labor and drive out Italians. “It’s called ethnic substitution,” Meloni said at the time, echoing the far-right “great replacement” conspiracy theory.

Her allies, on the other hand, say Meloni has the kind of serious plans her predecessors have lacked, and that she chiefly wants to address Italy’s economic woes. Her stump speech is theatrical, but it deals mostly with ideas about boosting investment and curbing welfare. Her party’s recently released platform has 25 proposals — everything from extending high-speed rail lines to jump-starting university research. Voters inclined toward Meloni tended to cite, in interviews with The Post, her perceived honesty and coherence as the reasons for their support.

For now, Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia party — the Brothers of Italy, a name that echoes lyrics in the national anthem — is the most popular in the country, favored by roughly one-quarter of voters. It has a coalition agreement with other parties on the right, giving it overwhelming odds to prevail against a fractured and reeling left. The right-wing bloc has said that the premier job should go to the leader of the party with the most votes. Still, following the Sept. 25 general election, the president, Sergio Mattarella, has final say on who gets the mandate. 
The bad news, Italy is about to get a hell of a lot more hostile toward immigrants, Muslims, and of course, Jewish Italians. Meloni cozying up to Viktor Orban is inevitable if she takes power, and she's already letting everyone know her government is going to target LGBTQ+ folks from day one.

Sounds like every GOP politician in America, and the Post is like "But she's different!"

No, she's not.

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