Monday, October 16, 2023

Last Call For Israeli Getting Serious Out There, Con't

Israel's communications minister is proposing emergency regulations that would allow police to arrest citizens and journalists who publish content deemed to "harm national morale".

Under Shlomo Karhi's proposal, those restrictions could be placed upon publications that have been used as a "base for enemy propaganda".

Journalists and other citizens could have their homes searched, property seized and could be placed under arrest for speech the government deems undesirable.

The proposal comes on the ninth day of fighting between Israel and Palestinian groups, which has killed at least 2,450 Palestinians in Gaza, including 724 children and 458 women. In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, 56 people have been killed by Israeli fire. Meanwhile, at least 1,300 people have been killed in Israel.

Earlier on Sunday, Karhi said he was seeking a possible closure of Al Jazeera's local bureau, accusing the Qatari news station of pro-Hamas incitement and of exposing Israeli soldiers to potential attack from Gaza.

The proposal to shut down Al Jazeera had been vetted by Israeli security officials and was being vetted by legal experts, Karhi said at the time, adding that he would bring it to the cabinet later in the day.

Al Jazeera and the government in Doha had no immediate comment.

"This is a station that incites, this is a station that films troops in assembly areas [outside Gaza]... that incites against the citizens of Israel - a propaganda mouthpiece," Karhi told Israel's Army Radio.

In the age of TikTok war correspondents, Instagram military analysis and Twitter/X/Whatever propaganda and disninformation, locking up journalists is bad enough, but locking up citizens for spread of information deemed "harmful" by Israel shouldn't surprise anyone. 

The folks who brought you "Hamas beheads babies!!!!" which of course turned out to be completely fabricated is a reminder that nobody does disinformation quite like the IDF. And when Al Jazeera called bullshit on that story this weekend, well, no wonder Israel wants to get rid of them.

The House GOP Circus Of The Damned, Con't

With a vote on Jim Jordan as Speaker expected to fail miserably, more than a few House Republicans and even some Democrats are coalescing around the idea that The Odious Patrick McHenry, Speaker Pro Tempore, might be the solution to this mess. Semafor's Kadia Goba:

With the House still paralyzed in the absence of a speaker, the idea of giving Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry more power to conduct normal business is picking up growing bipartisan support.

A number of Republicans have been pushing to let the North Carolina lawmaker bring bills to the floor in order to keep the chamber functioning while the party works through its infighting. Now at least a handful of moderate Democrats are getting behind the concept as well, especially as it becomes clear that the GOP’s latest speaker nominee, Jim Jordan, faces an uphill battle.

“I think they’re going to go down in flames on that [vote] because there’s just no way that Jim Jordan, with Donald Trump’s support, gets to 217 or 218 votes in the House,” Rep. Wiley Nickel, D-N.C., told Semafor in an interview Sunday.

Wiley is backing a plan that would temporarily expand McHenry’s authority in the House for 15-day increments, and direct him to only bring legislation to the floor that would avoid a government shutdown in November, provide aid to Israel and Ukraine, and deal with the remaining 2024 appropriations bills. Wiley, along with three other Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, penned a letter to McHenry last week requesting a meeting to discuss the possibility.

They’re also asking McHenry be allowed to introduce so-called suspension bills — which are allowed to head straight to the House floor — “evenly distributed” between Democratic and Republican priorities, to avoid legislation being held up in the GOP-led Rules Committee. Some members have talked about using suspension bills as a route to push through key to-do list items such as the stalled National Defense Authorization Act.

The 10 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of self-proclaimed “pragmatic” Democrats, also endorsed the proposal. Meanwhile, Republicans led by Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio are pushing their own resolution that would empower the interim speaker to advance legislation for a period of up to 90 days. Notably, ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy has endorsed granting McHenry full powers of the speakership while the House looks for a permanent leader.

Of course, as Goba remarks, temporary things in the federal government have this habit of become permanent. 

Giving McHenry more power is being presented as a temporary fallback measure if Jordan can’t sew up a win this week. But it could also be a gateway to Speaker McHenry. Hear me out.

McCarthy’s ousting came as a surprise, even to those who have long anticipated it, because for all its manufactured chaos, Congress doesn’t do well with abrupt changes. So it wouldn’t surprise me if an incremental change in McHenry’s powers morphs into a longstanding position for the North Carolina Republican.

In fact, some New York Republicans are already floating the idea that Congress doesn’t need to vote and McHenry already has the powers.

“The authority and responsibility to do so is inherent in the title,” Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., told Semafor. “The position’s post-9/11 description, done in contemplation of continuity of government, makes this obvious to me and many others. You don’t need to have graduated from Hofstra Law to come to that conclusion.”
My view on McHenry, the now long-time Congressman from back home in Western NC, is evidenced by his sobriquet, one he earned 15 years ago for being a proto-MAGA crank
He'll fit right in here at the Clown Show.  I said that over a decade ago he was headed for big things, and here we are.

Honk. Honk.

Alabama's Bloody Tide

Alabama Republicans have been refusing federal Medicaid expansion money for years now, and like most non-expansion red states, more and more hospitals are reducing services or closing up entirely as a direct result. Three hospitals near Bimingham are shutting down their maternity wards over the next several weeks, leaving tens of thousands of women without a place to go to deliver babies by Thanksgiving.
By the end of the month, two Alabama hospitals will stop delivering babies. A third will follow suit a few weeks later.

That will leave two counties — Shelby and Monroe — without any birthing hospitals, and strip a predominantly Black neighborhood in Birmingham of a sought-after maternity unit.

After that, pregnant women in Shelby County will have to travel at least 17 miles farther to reach a hospital with an OB-GYN. And because the county, one of Alabama’s largest, is bordered by another whose hospital also lacks an obstetrics unit, some of those residents are also losing the closest place they could go to deliver their babies.

“There’s a sense of dread knowing that there’s going to be families who are now not only driving to the county over, but driving through three counties,” said Honour McDaniel, director of maternal and infant health initiatives for the March of Dimes in Alabama.

People in Monroe County, meanwhile, could face drives between 35 to 100 miles to a labor and delivery department.

Trekking that far to give birth is not unheard of in Alabama, in which more than a third of the counties are maternity care deserts, according to the March of Dimes — meaning they have no hospital with obstetrics care, birth centers, OB-GYNs or certified nurse midwives.

The state has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country; only three others had higher rates between 2018 and 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alabama also had the nation’s third-highest infant mortality rate in 2021, the latest data available.

Physicians currently or formerly affiliated with the Alabama maternity units about to close fear the consequences for pregnant women and babies, especially if people are not able to reach birthing hospitals quickly enough in emergencies.

“People are going to show up delivering in the ER, and you’re going to have bad outcomes,” said Dr. Jesanna Cooper, an OB-GYN who formerly worked at Princeton Baptist Medical Center, the Birmingham hospital closing its maternity services. “If you show up with a very premature baby and deliver in the ER, and you don’t have a NICU and you don’t have an obstetrics team, things aren’t going to go well.”
And of course the real kicker:

The closures come as the need for obstetrics care in Alabama is anticipated to rise as a result of its abortion laws. The state has banned almost all abortions since June 2022.
At this point, one would have to believe that the state Republican party, having banned abortion, and the same party letting hospitals die on the vine like this, really don't want those people to have sex at all without potentially ruinous consequences.  

When we talk about Alabama having a similar socioeconomic profile to say, Albania, understand that a poor exploitable populace is what the ruling government wants, and has wanted, for generations.
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