The Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request by the Detroit legislative caucus to redraw Michigan's new voting maps, finding the caucus didn't prove the decrease in majority-minority districts violated federal protections for minority voters. The 4-3 decision noted that expert analysis showed White crossover voting made it possible to elect a preferred minority candidate even without a majority-minority district. "This evidence of White crossover voting — unrebutted by plaintiffs' expert — reinforces our conclusion that plaintiffs have not made the threshold showing of White bloc vo...
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Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon reached a record level during the first half of 2022, the INPE national space agency said Friday.
The world's largest tropical rainforest lost 3,750 square kilometers (1,450 square miles) of jungle since the beginning of the year, the worst numbers for that period since record-keeping began in 2016.
The previous worst figure of 3,605 square kilometers was set last year.
The new figure does not even include the final six days of June.
This year has seen the worst June in 15 years for forest fires.
Monthly records were also beaten in January and February, when deforestation is usually lower, and in April.
INPE satellites identified more than 2,500 fires in the Amazon last month, the largest number since more than 3,500 were recorded in June 2007, and an 11 percent increase over June 2021.
More than 7,500 fires have been recorded since the start of the year, another 17 percent increase on 2021 and the worst numbers since 2010.
"The dry season has barely begun in the Amazon and already we're beating environmental destruction records," said Cristiane Mazzetti, from Greenpeace Brazil.
Environmentalists and opposition figures accuse the government of President Jair Bolsonaro of implementing policies that encourage big businesses to damage the environment.
"The impact of this negligence will be the increasing loss of the resilience of these surroundings, not to mention the damage done to local communities and health," said Mariana Napolitano, of the Brazilian World Wildlife Fund.
Bolsonaro has encouraged mining and farming activity in protected areas.
Critics also accuse him of supporting impunity for gold prospectors, farmers and logging traffickers involved in illegal deforestation.
Last year, the main government environmental protection body spent only 41 percent of its surveillance budget, according to the Climate Observatory NGO.
© 2022 AFP
The Jan. 6 hearings have pulled back the curtain on the 'crazies and cowards' around Trump: Paul Krugman
In his column for the New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman made his case the Republican Party appears to be nothing less than a confederation of "crazies, cowards and careerists," less interested in governing than they are in kowtowing to Donald Trump.
Reflecting on the January 6 House hearings investigating the storming of the Capitol by supporters of the former president, Krugman said the GOP stands exposed as members of Congress who could provide testimony refuse to do so, and their colleagues turn a blind eye.
According to Krugman what has been revealed thus far "has been riveting and terrifying," he claimed, "realistically there is no longer any doubt that Trump tried to overturn the results of a lawful election, and when all else had failed, encouraged and tried to abet a violent attack on Congress."
Adding that he is not a lawyer and is in no position to specify what laws have been broken, he turned his ire on the GOP leadership and the far-right members of Congress who are aiding and abetting Trump -- just so he can keep his 2024 presidential ambitions alive and they can tag along.
"Dozens of people in or close to the Trump administration must have known what was going on; many of them surely have firsthand knowledge of at least some aspects of the coup attempt. Yet only a handful have come forward with what they know," he wrote, "How can we explain this abdication of duty?"
The columnist suggested there may be a simple answer.
"Even now, full-on MAGA cultists are probably a minority among G.O.P. politicians. For every Lauren Boebert or Marjorie Taylor Greene, there are most likely several Kevin McCarthys — careerists, not crazies, apparatchiks rather than fanatics. Yet the noncrazy wing of the G.O.P., with only a handful of exceptions, has nonetheless done everything it can to prevent any reckoning over the attempted coup," he wrote. "
"The Republican Party is a far more monolithic entity, in which politicians compete over who adheres most faithfully to the party’s line. That line used to be defined by economic ideology, but these days it is more about positioning in the culture wars — and personal loyalty to Trump. It takes great moral courage for Republicans to defy the party’s diktats, and those who do are promptly excommunicated," he explained before citing longtime conservatives like Bill Kristol and Max Boot -- as well as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) -- who have bucked the trend and fought back at the former president's attempt to overthrow democratic institutions.
"I don’t think it’s a slur on these people’s courage to note that the neocons were always a distinct group, never fully assimilated by the Republican monolith, with careers that rested in part on reputations outside the party. This arguably leaves them freer than garden-variety Republicans to act in accord with their consciences," he suggested before concluding, "Unfortunately, that still leaves the rest. If the Democrats are a coalition of interest groups, Republicans are now a coalition of crazies and cowards. And it’s hard to say which Republicans present the greater danger."
‘The court doesn’t care’ and it’s illegitimacy is accelerating www.youtube.com
In this term alone, the US Supreme Court has stripped women (and anyone who can get pregnant) of their right to life and liberty (Roe). It has stripped states of their authority to regulate firearms (Bruen).
The court has hurdled over the wall separating church and state to create conditions for the rapid expansion of racial segregation (Carson). It has established a religion in public schools (Kennedy).
It has enfeebled the right to know one’s rights upon arrest (Vega).
And it has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have proper authority to protect the environment (West Virginia).
In one term, the court’s rightwing supermajority has undone a lot of what the 20th century had seen done in constitutional law. The court has unraveled the social fabric that many (white) Americans came to take for granted – that morality matters, that justice prevails and that history’s forward momentum reliably manifests a more perfect union.
This court’s rightwing supermajority has demonstrated to anyone who once believed that social and political progress, once done, can’t be undone, that social and political progress can, in fact, be undone.
If the latter half of the 20th century can be described as the great expansion of individual liberties – from 1954’s Brown v the Board of Education, which overturned “separate but equal,” thus outlawing discrimination, to 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodge, which overruled the Defense of Marriage Act, thus establishing same-sex marriage rights – the first half of the 21st century, all things being equal, might be described over time as the great recession of individual liberty.
It’s important to note that 2015 was not an arbitrary end.
During that year, operatives of the Russian government conspired to wage cyberwarfare against the candidacy of the Democratic nominee of the 2016 presidential election, thus aiding and abetting the GOP candidate. During that year, the Senate majority leader led an effort to breach the separation of powers in the federal government to violate the right of judicial appointment of the incumbent president.
That same leader, Mitch McConnell, stood aside while knowing that Russian operatives were sabotaging Hillary Clinton’s campaign, while knowing that foreign interference would advance the Republican Party’s long-sought goal of bringing the federal government to heel.
McConnell reiterated this week that holding up Merrick Garland’s confirmation was the single greatest choice he ever made. No. His single greatest choice, meaning the one with the most impact on our country, was deciding that a hostile foreign enemy, Russia, was the GOP’s friend, the same enemy committing genocide in Ukraine. If he hadn’t sided with Putanists, we’d be in Hillary Clinton’s second term.
Therefore, it should not be surprising that the previous era of rapidly expanding individual liberty ended with the GOP’s hostile takeover of the Supreme Court. After World War II and throughout the Cold War, political elites in Washington established the idea in the public’s mind that Americans constituted one nation. We were one people. We were no not “these United States.” We were “the United States.”
Thanks to the court’s rightwing supermajority, we are now returning to the time of these United States. With respect to public policy, the US has always suffered under a patchwork system. But after this latest term of the Supreme Court, that patchwork pattern will almost certainly proliferate, perhaps to the point where no one can speak for the whole. Already, Joe Biden is working against doubt on the global stage that he represents one nation on account of this court dissolving the glue that once held the states together – equality.
We don’t usually think of equality as the force that binds us to each other. That’s usually reserved for “culture,” especially the mythical “Judeo-Christian” or “Western” values that rightwingers love, which is a politically correct way of favoring solidarity among white people. In the interest of “social cohesion,” white-power propagandists like Pat Buchanan, Steve Bannon and Ben Shapiro often demand that the southern border be closed, that state laws suppress minority voting rights and that white women give birth to more white babies.
Real social cohesion arises from political equality. It transcends the “cultural” factors that inhibit Americans, especially white Americans, from finding common cause with nonwhite Americans. Real social cohesion is the result of a federal government authorized by federal law to enforce political equality by protecting individual liberty.
With Roe as the law of the land, two “culturally” different women were subject to the same law as well as equally entitled to the same degree of access to abortion. Without Roe, one of these women is, according to the law of her state, seeking health care services while the other, according to the law of her state, is committing murder.
They are unequal.
They are separate.
In that sense, we are not only returning to the time of “these United States.” We are returning to the time of “separate and unequal.” We are returning, I would say, to a two-tiered system of law in which white elites are entitled to protection while everyone else is entitled to nothing – except perhaps the blunt end of law enforcement.
As long as political equality held us together, it made sense for the Democrats to advance their interests and goals from a high perch. But now that political equality’s power to bind us together – to make us whole – is unraveling due to a rightwing court, the Democrats will need to reconsider the posture they’ve taken for a half century and more. They will need to reestablish themselves at the state level.
And they need to do it soon.
The Supreme Court is prepared to hear a case in the fall that could, in the most basic terms, give state legislatures the authority to ignore state law and state court rulings on state constitutional law.
With such power, Republican-controlled legislatures could, in theory, choose to reject the outcomes of presidential elections, assign “alternate” slates of electors and throw out the will of the people. They could make Donald Trump’s dream of insurrection come true.
And thanks to this court, it would be nice and legal.
The Democrats, since the mid-20th century, have advanced their interests and goals mostly from the top down. But in this new era, in which political equality is unraveling as a result of a Supreme Court gone rogue, the sooner they bring the fight to the states, the better.