Monday, April 17th, 2023


Pelvic Thrust

At least 20 states have recently implemented laws limiting the rights of transgender Americans. Many of these laws are aimed at youth. How and why did the obsessed culture warriors on the religious right build up their latest imaginary enemy that's supposedly threatening the nation? It started with their increasingly ineffective attacks on gay people. What do you do when punching down at one victim doesn't work? You find another victim, preferably more marginalized, more easily demonized, and more likely to exacerbate the communal psychosexual, genital-fixated, mind infection you've been envenoming for decades. NYT: (Gift Article): How a Campaign Against Transgender Rights Mobilized Conservatives. "The effort started with a smattering of Republican lawmakers advancing legislation focused on transgender girls' participation in school sports. And it was accelerated by a few influential Republican governors who seized on the issue early. But it was also the result of careful planning by national conservative organizations to harness the emotion around gender politics. With gender norms shifting and a sharp rise in the number of young people identifying as transgender, conservative groups spotted an opening in a debate that was gaining attention."

+ "What was said in private emails just a few years ago is now said publicly—online, in the media, and on the floors of state houses around the country." Leaked Emails Reveal Just How Powerful the Anti-Trans Movement Has Become.


We Had You At Hello

"You can communicate only with other people on a network to which you've subscribed. Such networks have their own servers, in the manner of Signal or WhatsApp. Hardened phones often have no working camera, and geolocation and tracking services are disabled. A 'wipe' feature instantly deletes all messages. More sophisticated services offer a 'dual-boot' mode, so that the device can—at the touch of a button—look like a normal smartphone. Hardened devices cost about fifteen hundred dollars, and six months of service on a network costs about a thousand dollars." All in all, it's these hardened phones operating on private networks are a pretty useful tool for criminals. But what if the sense of security they provide is an entirely false one. Ed Caesar in The New Yorker: Crooks' Mistaken Bet on Encrypted Phones. "Drug syndicates and other criminal groups bought into the idea that a new kind of phone network couldn't be infiltrated by cops. They were wrong—big time."


Hole in the Wall

"The service road where he stood was a hidden-in-plain-sight path that led from Tajikan Road to a gap in the airport wall. If he could bring people in through that back door, Sam realized, he could approve them himself in freelance rescues that skirted the bureaucratic process entirely. That is, if he could avoid getting himself or anyone else killed. Sam faced a terrible choice: follow the State Department's shifting, confusing, infuriating policies about whom he could save, or follow his conscience and risk his life and career to rescue as many imperiled people as he could. As the morning heat rose toward 90 degrees, Sam concluded that he had no choice after all." Mitchell Zuckoff in The Atlantic with a glimpse of his upcoming book: An American State Department official risked his life and career to save Afghan lives. 'Screw the Rules.'


Ban a Montana

"Montana lawmakers passed a bill on Friday banning TikTok from operating in the state amid growing concerns about the app's suspected ties to the Chinese government. The bill was passed by the state House in a 54–43 vote and now heads to Gov. Greg Gianforte's desk. If Gianforte signs it into law, Montana will become the first state to ban the app outright." Montana Lawmakers Have Voted To Ban TikTok. (Now, according to my kids, I'd have a better shot planning a summer vacation in Hell than Helena.)


Extra, Extra

Local Area Network: "Two men have been arrested on charges that they helped establish a secret police outpost in New York City on behalf of the Chinese government, and more than three dozen officers with China's national police force have been charged with using social media to harass dissidents inside the United States, the Justice Department said Monday. The cases, taken together, are part of a series of Justice Department prosecutions in recent years aimed at disrupting Chinese government efforts to locate in America pro-democracy activists and others who are openly critical of Beijing's policies."

+ Forgotten Coup: "In the early days of a brutal 2021 military crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, members of the nascent resistance movement began asking 'how many dead bodies' it would take for the world community to act. More than two years on from a coup that installed military rule in the Southeast Asian country, pro-democracy protesters say they have yet to receive an adequate answer." Military violence in Myanmar is worsening amid fierce resistance and international ambivalence.

+ Wrong Block: "He was shot Thursday night when he drove to a home a few blocks away from his own to pick up his twin younger brothers. He didn't have a phone with him and went to the wrong block." Homeowner shoots, injures Black teen who went to wrong house. More from CNN.

+ Dissent Away: "I do not ask this court for anything. I know the verdict. I knew it a year ago when I saw people in black uniforms and black masks running after my car in the rearview mirror. Such is the price for speaking up in Russia today." Russia sentences opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza to 25 years in prison. Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador has visited Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russian prison. "He is in good health and remains strong."

+ Mob Family: "At stake were more than two dozen residential and commercial properties worth millions of dollars. Anthony Zottola wanted to control them, prosecutors said, and saw his father, Sylvester Zottola, and his older brother, Salvatore, as obstacles." Mobster's son gets life sentence for orchestrating dad's murder.

+ Control (Cob)alt Delete: "Only 25 percent of the cobalt Apple used last year was recycled. While thats's up from 13 percent in 2021, that makes the new target more ambitious than others." Apple's batteries will use 100 percent recycled cobalt by 2025.

+ Old Man and the C: "Italian police scooped up two tons of cocaine, wrapped in protective plastic and bobbing in the sea off eastern Sicily."

+ Masked Singer: It "has played almost 14,000 performances to audiences of over 20 million, grossing over $1.3 billion. An estimated 6,500 people have been employed by the production – including over 400 actors – and it takes a cast, orchestra and crew of 125 to put on the show. On Monday, it will all be over." 'Phantom of the Opera' takes a final Broadway bow.


Bottom of the News

"Surely you've heard of the Gate Appreciation Society, a Facebook group with 118,000 members. The Ynys Llanddwyn gate has gone down so beautifully with the society that a photo of it has 42,000 likes." Is this the world's greatest gate?

+ "Announcers from visiting teams at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum have been unable to use the visiting broadcast booth this season because a possum is 'living inside its walls.'" (The saddest part is that when the possum shows its head at an A's game, attendance doubles.)

+ "Park officials said just before 2 p.m. Sunday, a 13-year-old boy climbed into a claw machine known as the Cosmic XL Bonus Game in an attempt to steal." I checked YouTube and apparently climbing into claw machines is a thing.