Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Hypocrites: Prominent hosts believed Sidney Powell a dangerous liar but continued to have her on their shows to push Trump’s lies:
Hosts at Fox News had serious concerns about allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election being made by guests who were allies of former President Donald Trump, according to court filings in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the network.
“Sidney Powell is lying,” about having evidence for election fraud, Tucker Carlson told a producer about the attorney on Nov. 16, 2020, according to an excerpt from an exhibit that remains under seal.
The internal communication was included in a redacted summary judgment brief filed Thursday by attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems.
Carlson also referred to Powell in a text as an “unguided missile,” and “dangerous as hell.” Fellow host Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, told Carlson that Powell is “a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy,” referring to former New York mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani.
Sean Hannity, meanwhile, said in a deposition “that whole narrative that Sidney was pushing, I did not believe it for one second,” according to Dominion’s filing.
Related: Influential Fox News hosts conspired to get a fact-checker fired for correctly fact-checking Trump’s lies:
More: After a Fox News staffer correctly fact-checked stuff that was coming out of the network's opinion side, all hell broke loose among the prime-timers. Stunning: pic.twitter.com/gHjwVJoCOJ
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) February 17, 2023
Second news item
President Biden under pressure:
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing President Joe Biden directly to send F-16 warplanes to Ukraine as the fight against Russia’s invasion enters its second year.
Five House members argued modern jets — which Kyiv has sought, but the administration has so far not agreed to — “could prove decisive for control of Ukrainian airspace this year” in a Thursday letter to Biden obtained by POLITICO.
“The provision of such aircraft is necessary to help Ukraine protect its airspace, particularly in light of renewed Russian offensives and considering the expected increase in large-scale combat operations,” the lawmakers wrote.
Ukraine needs the aircraft much sooner rather than later:
Western intelligence shows Russia is amassing aircraft close to the border with Ukraine. It said the move indicates Moscow is preparing to bolster its faltering land offensive.
The paper says intelligence shared among NATO allies shows Russia is assembling both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft……a senior NATO diplomat is quoted as saying that more than 80 percent of Russia’s air force probably is “safe and available,” and that they are expecting the Russians to be “preparing to launch an air campaign.”
A senior US administration official also reportedly said, “Russian land forces are pretty depleted so it’s the best indication that they will turn this into an air fight.”
The official added, “If the Ukrainians are going to survive … they need to have as many air defence capabilities and as much ammunition … as possible.”
Third news item
About those recent “aerial objects”:
Last week, in the immediate aftermath of the incursion by China’s high-altitude balloon, our military, through the North American Aerospace Defense Command…closely scrutinized the — our airspace, including enhancing our radar to pick up more slow-moving objects above our country and around the world…In doing so, they tracked three unidentified objects: one in Alaska, Canada, and over Lake Huron in the Midwest…We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were. But nothing — nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from other — any other country…The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research…We don’t have any evidence that there has been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky. We’re now just seeing more of them, partially because the steps we’ve taken to increase our radars — to narrow our radars.
Related: Trump officials knew about suspected China balloons:
A small number of intelligence officials under former President Trump were aware of several suspected Chinese balloons that crossed into U.S. airspace during his time in office, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Despite suspicions among some officials that the high-flying objects were from China, a Pentagon assessment never conclusively linked the balloons to Beijing, and information on the incidents was not shared broadly within the Trump administration, the Journal noted.
Fourth news item
Iranian protests continue, despite executions:
Protesters in Iran have marched through the streets of multiple cities in the most widespread demonstrations in weeks, online videos purported to show…The demonstrations overnight on Thursday marked 40 days since Iran executed two men on charges related to protests that began last year and went on to grip the Islamic Republic for month…Iranian state media did not immediately acknowledge the protests…Since they began, at least 529 people have been killed in demonstrations, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran. More than 19,700 others have been detained by authorities…Iran for months has not offered any overall casualty figures, though the government seemed to acknowledge making “tens of thousands” arrests earlier this month…The demonstrations had appeared to slow in recent weeks, in part due to the executions and crackdown, though protest cries could still be heard at night in some cities.
Related: On being brave:
What does brave look like?
If you want to know the answer, please watch this short clip#WomanLifeFreedom#MahsaAmini @TheLastWord @MSNBC
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 16, 2023
Women in Iran have two choices: Be miserable or make their oppressers’ lives miserable.
Fifth news item
In the aftermath of the horrible train derailment in Ohio:
The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency got a first-hand look Thursday at the toll left by a freight train derailment in Ohio, where toxic chemicals spilled or were burned off, leaving the stench of fresh paint nearly two weeks later.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who walked along a creek that still reeks of chemicals, sought to reassure skeptical residents that the water is fit for drinking and the air safe to breathe around East Palestine, where just under 5,000 people live near the Pennsylvania state line.
“I’m asking they trust the government. I know that’s hard. We know there’s a lack of trust,” Regan said. “We’re testing for everything that was on that train.”
Note: Since the derailment, residents have complained about headaches and irritated eyes and finding their cars and lawns covered in soot. The hazardous chemicals that spilled from the train killed thousands of fish, and residents have talked about finding dying or sick pets and wildlife.
Sixth news item
People always take priority over fish :
Facing an onslaught of criticism that water was “wasted” during January storms, [Calfiornia] Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday suspended environmental laws to give the go-ahead to state officials to hold more water in reservoirs.
The governor’s executive order authorized the State Water Resources Control Board to “consider modifying” state requirements that dictate how much water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is allowed to flow into San Francisco Bay.
In January, after floodwaters surged into the bay, farm groups, Central Valley legislators and urban water providers complained that people and farms were being short-changed to protect fish. They urged state officials to store more water in reservoirs, which would increase the supply that can be delivered this summer to farm fields in the Central Valley and millions of Southern Californians.
The move put Newsom at odds with environmentalists in the Golden State:
Environmental activists say Newsom’s order is another sign that California is shifting priorities in how it manages water supply for humans and ecosystems.
They said the order will likely harm Chinook salmon and Delta smelt. Large numbers of newborn Chinook salmon have perished in recent drought years — the result of low flows in the Sacramento River and its tributaries
Seventh news item
Nothing will stop her from hustling to become Trump’s running mate:
Arizona Republican Kari Lake’s challenge of her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs in the gubernatorial race was rejected by an appeals court on Thursday.
The Arizona Court of Appeals denied Lake’s request to toss election results in its most populous county and hold the election again. She claimed problems with ballot printers at some polling places on Election Day were the result of intentional misconduct, but the court said Lake presented no evidence that voters whose ballots were unreadable by tabulators at polling places were not able to vote.
BREAKING: I told you we would take this case all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, and that's exactly what we are going to do. Buckle up, America! 🇺🇸https://t.co/DXTi4WoEQ3 pic.twitter.com/ik5sSqMz5P
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) February 16, 2023
Trump addresses Kari Lake, who's again at Mar-a-Lago: "She ran a great race in Arizona, she won, she won by a lot." pic.twitter.com/QlwETJ48CD
— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) February 16, 2023
Eighth news item
In recent years, campus administrative growth has focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Whatever the intentions, the imposition of DEI bureaucracy upon the academy has too often come at the expense of academic freedom and freedom of expression. DEI administrators have been responsible for repeated campus rights abuses…DEI efforts have threatened student and faculty rights in other ways, too. Most significantly, colleges and universities now routinely require students and faculty to pledge their allegiance to a politicized understanding of “diversity” as a condition of consideration for admission, hiring, or promotion. FIRE has repeatedly come to the defense of faculty who have been pressured into proving their fealty to a specific conception of DEI as the price of serious consideration or continued employment…FIRE warned in a statement last year that the First Amendment “prohibits public universities from compelling faculty to assent to specific ideological views or to embed those views in academic activities.” But colleges have not stopped imposing political litmus tests on students and faculty in the guise of furthering DEI efforts…So today, FIRE is introducing model legislation that prohibits the use of political litmus tests in college admissions, hiring, and promotion decisions. Legislation is strong medicine, but our work demonstrates the seriousness of the threat. While the current threat involves coercion to support DEI ideology, efforts to coerce opposition to DEI ideology would be just as objectionable. Attempts to require fealty to any given ideology or political commitment — whether “patriotism” or “social justice” — must be likewise rejected.
As you know, Tuesday was Valentine’s Day. So in light of that, I wanted to post the eloquent valentine from Alexey Navalny to his wife. His hellish imprisonment makes the tender sentiments all the more poignant:
Well, who came up with the proverb “out of sight, out of mind”? I haven’t seen you for a terrible long time, Yulyashka, almost a year, but there are a lot of you in my heart. And it seems to be getting bigger. Sometimes I myself wonder how my great love for you fits in an ordinary human heart.
I talk to you all the time. Like crazy, I’m sitting at breakfast, imagining that we are gathered as a family, inventing a joke – teasing you, and then your answer, and then mine again. And the kids are laughing, and we’re joking around in my head until you say, in mock annoyance, stop it already.
Today is Valentine’s Day, and of course I’m in love with you, so I’m sending you this heart 🧡
I love. I miss. Your husband
It’s nothing less than amazing that love can grow under the most vile of circumstances. It would not suprise me that, along with sheer determination, Navalny’s all-consuming love for his wife is what keeps him alive for another day.