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The electors make it official: Biden is president-elect

December 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

With the vote of California’s electors, President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win over Donald Trump is formalized. States have been voting throughout the day, but it took California’s 55 votes to bring Biden over the 270 needed to win.

Hawaii’s four electors still have to cast their votes, but Biden’s win is sealed. Not that we should expect a gracious—or any—acknowledgement from Trump. Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to even answer a question about whether Trump would accept the result.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Republican congressman reveals he's leaving the GOP over disgust with Trump

December 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

Michigan Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell announced on Monday to CNN’s Jake Tapper that he is officially leaving the GOP over his disgust with President Donald Trump and his increasingly reckless attempt to overturn the 2020 election

Mitchell is retiring and did not run for re-election to his seat, yet another sign that Republicans’ willingness to turn on Trump depends on what they see as the prospects for their political future. Like Michigan Rep. Justin Amash before him, he’s become an independent ahead of leaving Congress altogether. But Mitchell isn’t an insignificant figure in the caucus. He was a part of House GOP leadership, and he consistently voted with Trump during his presidency. He also said he voted for Trump both in 2016 and in 2020.

But on Twitter, Mitchell had grown increasingly critical of the president in recent days.

He had previously been critical of Trump, though he did not vote in favor of the president’s impeachment.

Speaking to Tapper, Mitchell said: “This party has to stand up for democracy first, for our constitution first, and not political considerations.”

He cited the recent lawsuit brought by Texas, joined by Republican attorneys general and a majority of his fellow GOP members, as part of the reason for his break with the party.

“We’ve gone through the process,” he said. “And I saw that amicus brief, as well as discussions over the weekend in the national media, it became clear to me that I could no longer be associated with a Republican Party that leadership doesn’t stand up and say: ‘The process, the election, is over.’ It’s over today! And then I saw the president tweet out that it’s not over until Jan. 20. Somehow he’s going to continue to combat this. The people have voted!”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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The disturbing and growing reach of Amazon's surveillance

December 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Filter

For many, Amazon represents not just a massive online retailer, but the harbinger of a new caste-based society. When Amazon wanted to create its second headquarters in Queens, a huge intersectional coalition of grassroots social justice activists took to the streets to protest. After the coalition gained support from political luminaries like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the corporate monolith gave up its expansion plan in the borough.

One of the major concerns activists brought up was that poorer residents would have been pushed out of their homes in droves, thanks to the skyrocketing real estate prices that would almost certainly follow. But gentrification, whereby these residents are replaced by non-local, higher-wage young professionals from around the country and world, also ironically correlates with local NIMBYism (“Not in my Backyard”) and a troubling trend of surveillance.

Amazon Ring is a smart doorbell-camera combo that is now relatively standard fare for newly constructed middle-to-upper class homes, especially in cities. The outdoor camera provides a live feed to the homeowner’s smartphone, and also records video footage when its motion sensor is triggered. The camera is often not trained precisely on the doorstep of the home, but extends to the public thoroughfare, especially in urban homes without a large front yard.

Recently, the Electronic Frontier Foundation called out an imminent feature in Jackson, Mississippi, whereby police can tap into Ring footage in real time.

As a result of Amazon teaming up with hundreds of police departments and counting, these devices are increasingly hooked up to police monitors.

Most recently, the Electronic Frontier Foundation called out an imminent live-streaming feature in Jackson, Mississippi, whereby police can tap into the Ring footage of participating residents in real time. The society-as-panoptic prison as envisioned by French philosopher Michel Foucault has never been more real.

While data are still scarce, one can predict that Ring partnerships will not help police solve many serious violent crimes. Instead, the video footage will provide irrefutable evidence for petty violations of law arising from difficult personal circumstances, such as “loitering” as a homeless person, or public drug use. Pro-reform prosecutors are among those who increasingly acknowledge that such “crimes” are public health issues, and that their prosecution creates public harms.

Ironically, Jackson, Mississippi is a Democrat-dominated city, with nominal progressives of color holding both the mayor and District Attorney seats. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump sends ominous threat to fellow Republicans if Georgia doesn't overturn Biden's win

December 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

On Monday, the Electoral College met to formalize the results of this year’s presidential election — and that included electors in Georgia, where President-elect Joe Biden won the state’s 16 electoral votes. President Donald Trump, however, has pushed a disinformation campaign alleging he was the real winner in Georgia. And on Twitter, Trump threatened that the state’s two incumbent GOP senators competing with Democrats in runoffs could have a “bad day” on January 5 if the presidential election result isn’t overturned.

With Democrat Stacey Abrams presiding, Georgia’s 16 electoral votes were cast for Biden on Monday. And it was also on Monday that Trump angrily railed against Gov. Brian Kemp on Twitter. Trump is furious with Kemp as well as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, for acknowledging that Biden won Georgia. Trump tweeted:

On Saturday, Trump tweeted:

The incumbent Republican senators in Georgia that Trump is referring to are Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue. While Perdue is competing with Democrat Jon Ossoff, Loeffler’s Democratic opponent is the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

The outcome of these races will determine whether or not Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate. If Warnock and Ossoff are victorious, Democrats will obtain a narrow Senate majority — with the help of a tie-breaking vote from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will be Senate minority leader rather than Senate majority leader.

Kemp recently rejected Trump’s demand for a “special session” to oppose the election results. Earlier this month, Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan warned, in an official statement, “Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the November 3 election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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The myths of neoliberalism: Solutions to our most pressing problems are at hand — if only we use them

December 14, 2020 in Blogs

By TomDispatch

Martin Luther King, Jr., offered this all-too-relevant comment on his moment in his 1967 speech “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”

The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent.

King concluded that American society was degrading human life by clinging to old thinking rather than turning to bold, visionary solutions — words that (sadly enough) ring even truer in our day than in his.In late October as the coronavirus pandemic raged, the Economic Policy Institute released a study showing that it isn’t just morally right but an economic necessity to deal with poverty in this country and fast. “If America does not address what’s happening with visionary social and economic policy,” as that study put it, “the health and well-being of the nation are at stake. What we need is long-term economic policy that establishes justice, promotes the general welfare, rejects decades of austerity, and builds strong social programs that lift society from below.”

Even as, almost two months later, we remain trapped in an unprecedented crisis of spreading illness, there is increasingly clear evidence that, were those in power to make other choices, we would no longer need to live burdened by the social ills of old. Oddly enough, because of the Covid-19 crisis, we’re being reminded (or at least should be reminded) that, in reality, solutions to many of the most pressing issues of our day are readily at hand if those issues were prioritized and the attention and resources of society directed toward them. In a moment overflowing with lessons, one of the least discussed is that scarcity is a lie, a political invention used to cover up vast reserves of capital and technology facilitating the enrichment of the few and justifying the pain and dispossession of so many others. Our present reality could perhaps best be described as mass abandonment amid abundance.

Indeed, the myth of scarcity, like other neoliberal fantasies, is regularly ignored when politically expedient and conjured up when the rich …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Basketball star Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

December 14, 2020 in History

By History.com Editors

On January 26, 2020, a helicopter carrying former pro basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others crashed in Calabasas, California, roughly 30 miles north of Los Angeles; everyone onboard died. Bryant’s death sent shockwaves through the American sporting world.

Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996 until 2016, winning five NBA Championships and the 2008 Most Valuable Player award while making the All-Star team in 15 of his 20 seasons. By his mid-career, Bryant had established himself as one of the greatest players in NBA history, known for his clutch shooting, capable defending, work ethic, and longevity. He was accused of sexual assault in 2003, a charge which he settled out of court—the episode cost him some of his most lucrative sponsorship deals, but he retained his status as one of the wealthiest and most beloved American athletes. In addition to his long playing career, Bryant was known for his philanthropy and several business ventures and film projects (he wrote the 2017 short film Dear Basketball, which won an Academy Award).

Bryant and his daughter, along with the other passengers, were headed to Gianna’s basketball game at the his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Not long after takeoff, the helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. The accident shocked sports fans across America and around the world. Bryant had been set to host the Grammy Awards that very evening, and the ceremony became one of the first of countless tributes to him and his daughter. The Los Angeles Airport, the Empire State Building and the Burj Khalifa were all lit in purple and yellow, the Lakers’ colors, in tribute to Bryant. Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s longtime teammate, sometime rival, and another of the era’s greatest players, said he had “no words to express the pain” he felt at Bryant’s death, and fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan called Bryant “one of the greats of the game and a creative force.”

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Source: HISTORY