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Frontpage Commentary - 6 articles

Jeff Bezos' very bad week just got worse

Jeff Bezos' terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week got even worse Friday, as a slate of antitrust legislation aimed at reining in the power of Big Tech was introduced in Congress to bipartisan fanfare.

It was the latest blow for Amazon's CEO, one of the world's richest men, who made headlines earlier in the week when details from his tax filings were shared by ProPublica, showing that he has paid little federal income taxes relative to his wealth and skirted them entirely for at least two years. He recently agreed to step down from his longtime post in July and hand over the reins to Amazon's head of cloud computing, Andy Jassy — celebrating his departure later that month with an exorbitantly expensive trip to space on a privately funded rocket.

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The inside story of how NY's Bill de Blasio promised, then thwarted police accountability

Years ago, before he was mayor, Bill de Blasio laid out the essence of any effort to reform the country's largest police department. New York City needed true civilian oversight.

Describing the city agency tasked with investigating police misconduct as “more of a lapdog than a watchdog," he proposed in 2009 to give it more independence, authority, and guaranteed funding. A few months later, he again pledged change, saying in a statement, “the NYPD cannot oversee itself."

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Trump's army of God: Doug Mastriano and the Christian nationalist attack on democracy

On May 9, the New Yorker published a feature story by Pulitzer winner Eliza Griswold about Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who could well be the Republican nominee for governor next year, as a flagship example of the swelling power of Christian nationalism within today's GOP. That's an issue I focused on in a 2018 story largely driven by a paper called "Make America Christian Again," co-authored by sociologist Andrew Whitehead. I described this phenomenon as "an Old Testament-based worldview fusing Christian and American identities, and sharpening the divide with those who are excluded from it," and quoted from the paper:

Christian nationalism … draws its roots from "Old Testament" parallels between America and Israel, who was commanded to maintain cultural and blood purity, often through war, conquest, and separatism.

Despite the "Old Testament" slant, this version of Christianity has no room for Exodus 22:21: "You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt," or numerous other biblical passages — which is why Christian nationalism can't be considered synonymous with Christianity per se. Many people in Trump's base perceive it that way, however, as that paper first showed. And Griswold rightly chose Mastriano as a shining — and troubling — example of what that means in practice today.

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How William Barr is desperately trying to rehab his image as the dirty truth comes out

Former Attorney General Bill Barr's record leading the U.S. Justice Department is coming into clearer light as Merrick Garland takes the reins of the agency, and new revelations are bringing the much-maligned Trump acolyte under new scrutiny. It's now clear that under his watch, DOJ obtained the communication records of multiple journalists, a disturbing use of government power that is supposed to face stringent restrictions. Some argue it should never happen at all. The news was revealed when the new administration contacted the journalists to inform them of what happened.

And the public has also learned that Barr's DOJ sought to force Twitter to unmask an anonymous account critical of California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, a close Trump ally. Shortly after Garland was sworn in as attorney general, DOJ dropped the subpoena against Twitter.

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Why the right-wing is turning on Republican Gov. Kristi Noem

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was a favorite of attendees at the recent 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, and former President Donald Trump spoke highly of her during the debut episode of Fox News pundit Lisa Boothe's new podcast. But the hard-right Republican governor is feeling the wrath of some social conservatives for her opposition to parts of a South Dakota bill that would ban transgender athletes from competing against the opposite sex in her state.

Joe Sneve, a reporter for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, explains, "Noem's issuance of a formal recommendation for style and form modifications to HB 1217 not only drew criticism from its authors in the (South Dakota) Legislature, who said the changes she wants don't align with the policy they set out to create. And beyond that, GOP leaders like House Speaker Spencer Gosch have questioned whether the governor's use of the style and form veto is legal considering she's recommending what they say are substantive changes, not minor clerical errors."

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HBO's QAnon series 'Q: Into the Storm' is a bewildering attempt to decode a super-conspiracy

Perhaps you're familiar with TV idiom "the crazy wall." Watch any detective drama for a while and you'll encounter one. The phrase describes a large vertical board kept out of sight by a dogged protagonist or freakish suspect who knows exactly what it says about them. Said board or wall is festooned with newspaper clippings, photos, maps, and Post-It Notes with random words like "PROOF???" written on them.

What makes a crazy wall crazy as opposed to an art installation is the tangle of yarn, push pins and creative thinking connecting everything together.

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Devin Nunes received a mysterious package from a known Russian agent -- so why is he on the Intel Committee?

Rep. Devin Nunes of California is the leading Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. And MSNBC's Rachel Maddow is wondering why the far-right congressman still has that position in light of his connection to Andrii Derkach, a Russian agent and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Maddow, during her March 18 broadcast, noted that Derkach is one of the Russian agents named in a National Intelligence Council report on Russian interference in the United States' 2020 presidential election. The MSNBC host pointed out that according to the report, Derkach was "under the purview of Russian President Vladimir Putin" as part of Kremlin efforts to help former President Donald Trump win reelection and defeat now-President Joe Biden.

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After the insurrection: America’s far-right groups are getting more extreme

As the U.S. grapples with domestic extremism in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, warnings about more violence are coming from the FBI Director Chris Wray and others. The Conversation asked Matthew Valasik, a sociologist at Louisiana State University, and Shannon E. Reid, a criminologist at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, to explain what right-wing extremist groups in the U.S. are doing. The scholars are co-authors of "Alt-Right Gangs: A Hazy Shade of White," published in September 2020; they track the activities of far-right groups like the Proud Boys.

What are U.S. extremist groups doing since the Jan. 6 riot?

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'Traitor' pro-Trump propagandist blasted for siding with Putin over Biden

Charlie Kirk is finding Twitter less supportive these days now that the man he spent four years promoting was banned two months ago from the social media platform.

The far right wing conspiracy theorist and propagandist who created a niche by milking the right wing claim that conservative college students were being silenced – because their views were and continue to be extremely unpopular, especially among educated Americans – on Thursday decided to send some support Vladimir Putin's way.

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'Make him do it': Lindsey Graham slammed after saying he would talk until he 'fell over' to stop voting rights bill

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said this week that if Senate Democrats revive the talking filibuster in an effort to weaken the rule's power as a tool of endless obstruction, he would speak until he "fell over" to try to block passage of a major expansion of voting rights as well as legislation aiming to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

"I would talk 'til I fell over to make sure that we don't go to ballot harvesting and voting by mail without voter ID," Graham said in an appearance on Fox News, referring to the For the People Act. "I would talk 'til I fell over to make sure that the Equality Act doesn't become law."

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