Wednesday, October 19th, 2022


Block and Awe

Right wing Christians who were plenty enthusiastic about then President Trump's Muslim immigration ban have now found a common bond with conservative Muslims. But this isn't a feel good story. It's a story about hyper-religious groups joining forces over a ban they can all get behind: book bans. But not just any books. David Masciotra
in The New Republic: The Growing Religious Alliance to Ban LGBTQ Books. "It wasn't too long ago that there was nothing as boring as a school board meeting. In an America of rising fascism, however, even a mundane gathering to discuss curricula in a small conference room becomes a potential crime scene. And so hundreds of reactionaries have flooded Dearborn school board meetings in recent months to demand the removal of books on the gay rights movement and novels with transgender protagonists ... Dearborn is hardly alone. The American Library Association reports that in 2022, public and school libraries have received a record-breaking 1,650 calls for elimination of books, with over a third of the targets featuring LGBTQ content. What makes the Dearborn story different, and especially disturbing, is that it foreshadows the formation of a powerful and dangerous new right-wing coalition."

+ These movements don't make change with enthusiasm. It takes money. To understand the dark money giving religion an edge over secular society in America, you need to understand SCOTUS architect Leonard Leo. NYT (Gift Article): Leonard Leo Pushed the Courts Right. Now He's Aiming at American Society. "His philosophy is defined by a belief that the federal government should play a smaller role in public life and religious values a larger one, and that institutions and individuals should be challenged for embracing what he sees as subversive liberal positions ... His expanded effort focuses on a variety of causes, including restricting abortion rights in the states; ending affirmative action; defending religious groups accused of discriminating against L.G.B.T.Q. people; opposing what he sees as liberal policies being espoused by corporations and schools; electing Republicans; and fighting Democratic efforts to slow climate change, increase the transparency of money in politics and expand voting access."

+ Related: "A large crowd at Tehran airport greeted an Iranian sport climber who competed without a headscarf at a competition in South Korea, calling her a 'heroine.' Elnaz Rekabi, 33, broke Iran's strict dress code - but later said her hijab had fallen off 'inadvertently.' Many are sceptical about the reason she gave in an Instagram post and repeated in a state TV interview at the airport, believing it was made under duress." What a sad, idiotic world women are forced to live in.


Go Blank Yourself

"House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy warned Tuesday that Republicans will not write a 'blank check' for Ukraine if they win back the House majority, reflecting his party's growing skepticism about financial support for Kyiv as it battles Russia's invasion." In the battle of democracy v totalitarianism, everyone picks a side. And as Nicole Perlroth, cyber security expert and author of This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends, explains: "Interesting timing, don't you think? Reads like an open invitation for election interference." Of course, none of this is just about aiding Ukraine. It's about aiding the most important fight for democracy since WWII. There were plenty American politicians on the wrong side of that fight too.

+ This isn't hyperbole. The world is listening closely. Ukrainians keep a wary eye on U.S. midterm elections, fearing a loss of support.

+ I'll let Timothy Snyder explain: As Ukraine Goes, So Goes the World. "Ukrainian resistance is a model. If we believe that democracy will be brought to us by structural factors, then we will get more fascism, more genocide, more imperialism. But we do not have to believe that. We can believe instead that democracy is always a struggle, but that the struggle is worth it."


Climate Change of Subject

Reuters: Concern about climate change shrinks globally as threat grows. "The COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about more immediate issues such as health and livelihoods may partly explain the drop." Maybe people would focus more if we bundled issues like climate change and pandemics. Next pandemic may come from melting glaciers, new data shows. In poor countries where climate change is already having devastating impacts, no one needs any convincing of the importance of the issue. The Climate Crisis Is Driving Poorer Nations to Desperate Measures.


Bus Striver

I once took a bus from Penn Station to Atlantic City where riders were greeted by a sign with the vehicle's only two rules: No Smoking and No Spitting. About five minutes into the ride, a guy across the aisle sparked up a cigarette, took a drag, and then spit onto the floor. This continued for the entire ride. Apparently, bus travel has improved. NYT (Gift Article): Goodbye Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Hello, Luxury Bus? "Start-up travel companies are hoping more Americans will embrace the concept of sleeper and luxury coaches. Just don't call them buses."


Extra, Extra

Emirates of Exchange: "While the Emiratis remain a close partner, their newfound military muscle has emboldened them to send troops into Yemen and Libya, inflaming civil wars in both countries. Meanwhile, in Washington, Congress and human rights groups have become more critical of the UAE, including for its decision this month to band with Russia and other members of the OPEC Plus cartel to curtail global oil production. In addition, the Justice Department has scrutinized the country's leaders for interfering in U.S. elections and politics." WaPo (Gift Article): UAE Relied on Expertise of Retired US Troops to Beef Up Its Military. This is part of a series. If you missed yesterday's gift link, here it is: Retired u.s. Generals, Admirals Take Top Jobs With Saudi Crown Prince. (It's almost as if we're being played for chumps because of our love of money above all else...)

+ Annex Post Facto: "Russian President Vladimir Putin doubled down Wednesday on his faltering invasion by declaring martial law in four illegally annexed Ukrainian regions and setting the stage for draconian new restrictions and crackdowns throughout Russia. The drastic escalation appeared to be prompted by the threat of more stinging battlefield defeats, sabotage and troubles with his troop mobilization."

+ Nix Degrees of Separation: Employment experts Ryan Roslansky and Byron Auguste argue that it's time for employers to stop caring so much about college degrees. "The old set of indicators – the right degree from the right school, the right network to endorse you and the right past employers on your resume – are weak predictors of what actually matters: a candidate's ability to do the job."

+ Sharing is Erring: Netflix finally turned the corner on its streak of losing customers. But that's not the only reason the stock is up. The password-sharing crackdown is coming.

+ Just Screw It: For years, Nike has featured athletes like Megan Rapinoe and Colin Kaepernick to create progressive street cred and move product. The company's political donations suggest they definitely don't have two left feet. Judd Legum: Nike just did it.


Bottom of the News

McDonuts? We've reached the junk food singularity. McDonald's is adding Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the menu. "The chains jointly announced a small-scale test will start Oct. 26 for nine McDonald's in Louisville, Kentucky, which will get daily doughnut deliveries. The test could 'inform future menu decisions.'" What's the test? To see if customer cardiovascular systems can make it out of the parking lot?

+ America's Best And Worst Rated Fast Food Chains, By State.