Monday, November 7, 2022

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

Putin's oligarchs are openly admitting to and bragging about the fact that they are interfering in US midterm elections.

Kremlin-connected entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted Monday that he had interfered in U.S. elections and would continue to do so — confirming for the first time the accusations that he has rejected for years.

“Gentlemen, we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do,” Prigozhin boasted in remarks posted on social media.

The statement, from the press service of his catering company that earned him the nickname “Putin’s chef,” came on the eve of the U.S. midterm elections.

It was the second major admission in recent months by the 61-year-old businessman, who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin has previously sought to keep his activities under the radar and now appears increasingly interested in gaining political clout — although his goal in doing so was not immediately clear.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that Prigozhin’s comments “do not tell us anything new or surprising.”

“It’s well known and well documented in the public domain that entities associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin have sought to influence elections around the world, including the United States. The U.S. has worked to expose and counter Russia’s malign influence efforts as we discover them,” she said, noting that Yevgeny has been sanctioned by the United States, the U.K. and the European Union.

“Part of Russia’s efforts includes promoting narratives aimed at undermining democracy and sowing division and discord. It’s not surprising that Russia would be highlighting their attempted efforts and fabricating a story about their successes on the eve of an election,” she added.

In September, Prigozhin also publicly stated that he was behind the Wagner Group mercenary force — something he also had previously denied — and talked openly about its involvement in Russia’s 8-month-old war in Ukraine. The military contractor also has sent its forces to places like Syria and sub-Saharan Africa.

Video also has emerged recently of a man resembling Prigozhin visiting Russian penal colonies to recruit prisoners to fight in Ukraine.

In 2018, Prigozhin and a dozen other Russian nationals and three Russian companies were charged in the U.S. with operating a covert social media campaign aimed at fomenting discord and dividing American public opinion ahead of the 2016 presidential election won by Republican Donald Trump. They were indicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

The Justice Department in 2020 moved to dismiss charges against two of the indicted firms, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, saying they had concluded that a trial against a corporate defendant with no presence in the U.S. and no prospect of meaningful punishment even if convicted would likely expose sensitive law enforcement tools and techniques.

In July, the State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information about Russian interference in U.S. elections, including on Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency, the troll farm in St. Petersburg that his companies were accused of funding. Prigozhin also has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for election interference.

Until now, Prigozhin had denied Russian involvement in election interference.
It would be the most Russian thing ever for Prigozhin to try to claim that $10 million after this. And while the Biden Administration is perfectly aware of Russia's attempts to interfere, the 2020 elections were safe, and the 2022 elections will be too.

It's the Big Lies about the elections that are hurting, and we can thank Trump and his Russian friends for that, too.

Vote tomorrow. Take friends to vote. We need you. Even here in red states like Kentucky.


Vote tomorrow if you haven't done so already.

Climate Of Destruction, Con't

As the COP27 UN Climate Change conference gets underway this week in Egypt, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is warning the world that without a climate pact between industrialized and developing countries, the planet is on the "highway to climate hell".

As presidents and prime ministers from around the globe gathered on Monday to tell the world what they are doing to tackle climate change, the United Nations secretary-general delivered a characteristically dire message about the rapidly warming planet, warning: “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

The secretary general, António Guterres, set the tone for the annual United Nations-led international climate talks, which officially began on Sunday as the accumulating threats of war, warming and economic crisis take a toll on every continent, hitting the world’s most vulnerable people the hardest.

“We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing,” Mr. Guterres said in opening remarks at the summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Dozens of world leaders delivered brief addresses at the event on Monday.

The talks opened under the shadow of grim new data: The World Meteorological Organization said on Sunday that the planet had likely witnessed its warmest eight years on record, including every year since countries came together in 2015 to create the landmark Paris agreement. That was aimed at pivoting the global economy away from fossil fuels and slowing down warming.

The biggest fault line of this year’s talks is the question of what rich, industrialized countries that account for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions owe to those bearing the brunt of climate hazards. On that there was a small breakthrough on Sunday — progress on the contentious issue of who will pay for the irreversible damage that climate change is wreaking on the world’s most vulnerable.

In his opening remarks, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt called on leaders to act with urgency to implement their commitments. “For the sake of future generations, here and now we are facing a unique historical moment, a last chance to meet our responsibilities,” he said.

The government’s policies, however, have undermined its attempts to frame Egypt as a climate champion of the developing world, and some have called into question its role as host, given its troubling records on the environment and human rights. The country’s most prominent dissident, Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who has spent more than 200 days on a hunger strike in an effort to pressure the authorities to let him go, vowed to begin a water strike as the summit began.

The climate talks are the 27th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations convention, which is why the event is known as COP27. Over 44,000 people have registered to attend, including representatives of government, business, and civil society groups.

The talks come at the end of a year that saw extraordinary heat waves across the northern hemisphere, catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and Nigeria, and a punishing drought in China.

According to a list posted by the United Nations, 110 heads of state and government are addressing the conference, a larger number than at many previous climate conferences. Of those, just seven are women.
Remember, the number one reason why there isn't a global climate agreement remains the existence of the Senate filibuster and the GOP using it every single time one is proposed.  We're deep into the triage phase of climate change, and Republicans will deny any action on that, too.

Unless you think the massive hurricanes that have hit the Gulf Coast in the last several years and the flooding accompanying them are flukes.

The GOP Race To The Bottom, Con't

Should Republicans retake the House and/or Senate, there will be a test run for tremendous damage that they can and will do to blue states in order to destroy as many civil rights as possible nationwide. The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein:

If Republicans win control of one or both congressional chambers this week, they will likely begin a project that could reshape the nation’s political and legal landscape: imposing on blue states the rollback of civil rights and liberties that has rapidly advanced through red states since 2021.

Over the past two years, the 23 states where Republicans hold unified control of the governorship and state legislature have approved the most aggressive wave of socially conservative legislation in modern times. In highly polarizing battles across the country, GOP-controlled states have passed laws imposing new restrictions on voting, banning or limiting access to abortion, retrenching LGBTQ rights, removing licensing and training requirements for concealed carry of firearms, and censoring how public-school teachers (and in some cases university professors and even private employers) can talk about race, gender, and sexual orientation.

With much less attention, Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate have introduced legislation to write each of these red-state initiatives into federal law. The practical effect of these proposals would be to require blue states to live under the restrictive social policies that have burned through red states since President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020. “I think the days of fealty [to states’ rights] are nearing an end, and we are going to see the national Republicans in Congress adopting maximalist policy approaches,” Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, a group that advocates for stricter gun control, told me.

None of the proposals to nationalize the red-state social agenda could become law any time soon. Even if Republicans were to win both congressional chambers, they would not have the votes to overcome the inevitable Biden vetoes. Nor would Republicans, even if they controlled both chambers, have any incentive to consider repealing the Senate filibuster to pass this agenda until they know they have a president who would sign the resulting bills into law—something they can’t achieve before the 2024 election.

But if Republicans triumph this week, the next two years could nonetheless become a crucial period in formulating a strategy to nationalize the red-state social-policy revolution. Particularly if Republicans win the House, they seem certain to explore which of these ideas can attract enough support in their caucus to clear the chamber. And the 2024 Republican presidential candidates are also likely to test GOP primary voters’ appetite for writing conservative social priorities into national law. Embracing such initiatives “may prove irresistible for a lot of folks trying to capture” the party’s socially conservative wing, Patrick Brown, a fellow at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, told me.

It starts with abortion. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in September introduced a bill that would ban the procedure nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In the House, 167 Republicans have co-sponsored the “Life Begins at Conception Act,” which many legal analysts say would effectively ban all abortions nationwide.

In elections, Senator Rick Scott of Florida has proposed legislation that would impose for federal elections nationwide many of the voting restrictions that have rapidly diffused across red states, including tougher voter-identification requirements, a ban on both unmonitored drop boxes and the counting of any mail ballots received after Election Day, and a prohibition on same-day and automatic voter registration.

In education, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has proposed to federalize restrictions on how teachers can talk about race by barring any K–12 school that receives federal money from using “critical race theory” in instruction. Several Republicans (including Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri) have introduced a “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” which would mandate parental access to school curriculum and library materials nationwide—a step toward building pressure for the kind of book bans spreading through conservative states and school districts. Nadine Farid Johnson, the Washington director for PEN America, a free-speech advocacy group, predicts that these GOP proposals “chipping away” at free speech are likely to expand beyond school settings into other areas affecting the general population, such as public libraries or private companies’ training policies. “This is not something that is likely to stop at the current arena, but to go much more broadly,” she told me.

Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, along with several dozen co-sponsors, recently introduced a federal version of the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida pushed into law. Johnson’s bill is especially sweeping in its scope. It bars discussion of “sexually-oriented material,” including sexual orientation, with children 10 and younger, not only in educational settings, but in any program funded by the federal government, including through public libraries, hospitals, and national parks. The language is so comprehensive that it might even prevent “any federal law enforcement talking to a kid about a sexual assault or sexual abuse,” David Stacy, the government-affairs director at the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, told me.
The nightmare scenario is that Republicans hold the debt ceiling hostage and collapse the US economy until Biden signs all of these into law, along with trillions in cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

The prevention of this scenario is to vote Blue today and tomorrow.
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