Even a sympathetic judge turns away Donald Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ lawsuit

Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump
Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Caroline Anders, “Judge throws out Trump’s ‘big lie’ defamation lawsuit against CNN,” Washington Post, July 29, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/07/29/trump-cnn-lawsuit-big-lie-dismissed/


Neoliberalism

Work


Fig. 1. The spectre of Death, in the form of a large skeleton, rises with the smoke and flames of the burning Asch Building during the Triangle fire, as people jump and fall to their death. Artist unknown, from International Ladies Garment Workers Union Photographs (1885-1985) at The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Michael Sainato, “Big business lobbies against heat protections for workers as US boils,” Guardian, July 31, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jul/31/heat-protections-workers-big-business-lobbies?CMP=GTUS_email


Artificial idiocy claims ‘fair use.’ Yes, really

Human Science

Inquiry

Quantitative
Artificial intelligence idiocy

Companies developing artificial idiocy are claiming “fair use” of other people’s creations.[1]

Deepa Seetharaman and Keach Hagey, “Outcry Against AI Companies Grows Over Who Controls Internet’s Content,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2023, Outcry Against AI Companies Grows Over Who Controls Internet’s Content


Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump


Fig. 1. Donald Trump, depicted in an orange jumpsuit, reportedly by the Drudge, via Mediaite,[2] fair use. Apparently, no mugshot was taken when he was actually arrested over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.[3]

James Risen attaches an importance to the Stormy Daniels case that I don’t really agree with. But more importantly, he begins to take on the question of what happens if a convicted felon wins the presidency. Remember that not all of the charges Donald Trump is likely to face are federal and thus susceptible to a presidential partdon.[4]

James Risen, “Stormy Daniels May Have the Last Word on Donald Trump,” Intercept, July 30, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/07/30/trump-indictments-stormy-daniels-pardon/


  1. [1]Deepa Seetharaman and Keach Hagey, “Outcry Against AI Companies Grows Over Who Controls Internet’s Content,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2023, Outcry Against AI Companies Grows Over Who Controls Internet’s Content
  2. [2]Alex Griffing, “Drudge Puts Trump in an Orange Jumpsuit as Site Monitors His Potential Indictment,” Mediaite, August 29, 2022, https://www.mediaite.com/news/drudge-puts-trump-in-an-orange-jumpsuit-as-site-monitors-his-potential-indictment/
  3. [3]Sarah D. Wire and Alexandra E. Petri, “Trump charged with 34 felony counts in alleged hush money cover-up case,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-04-04/donald-trump-alleged-hush-money-investigation-indictment-arraignment
  4. [4]James Risen, “Stormy Daniels May Have the Last Word on Donald Trump,” Intercept, July 30, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/07/30/trump-indictments-stormy-daniels-pardon/

Lying politicians and lying Elon Musk

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Unauthorized violence


Fig. 1. “Ed Gainey poses with CeaseFirePA during the 2020 Women’s March in Downtown Pittsburgh.” Photograph by Megan Gloeckler, undated, via Pittsburgh City Paper,[1] fair use.

Pittsburgh politicians claim crime deviant behavior is dropping.[2]

But the truth is they don’t fucking know. Federal Bureau of Investigation crime statistics have long been problematic, but now they have new rules for statistical reporting that, apparently, some 90 percent of Pennsylvania white supremacist gangs are not in compliance with. Including, yes, Pittsburgh.[3]

So we don’t actually have statistics on deviant behavior in Pittsburgh. But of course, that doesn’t stop politicians from yammering.[4]

Michael Korsh, “Downtown, South Side remain epicenters of violence, despite Pittsburgh’s crime numbers — and response,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 30, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2023/07/30/crime-statistics-violence-downtown-police/stories/202307280097

South Side


Fig. 2. Jack’s Bar. Photograph by User:Piotrus, December 2007, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Michael Korsh, “Downtown, South Side remain epicenters of violence, despite Pittsburgh’s crime numbers — and response,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 30, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2023/07/30/crime-statistics-violence-downtown-police/stories/202307280097


Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 3. “The atomic cloud over Nagasaki 1945.” Photograph from Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch, New York Office, News and Features Bureau, (12/17/1942 – 09/15/1945), by Charles Levy, August 9, 1945, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

If you live with a threat long enough, it becomes “normal,” part of the “background radiation” of everyday life.

I have argued that the logic of Russian statements about Ukraine leads inexorably in the direction of actually using nuclear weapons.[5] I don’t think that former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s threats[6] really change that. The risk is what it was, with Vladimir Putin’s demands still reducing to “give him his fucking empire, including North Atlantic Treaty Organization territory, or he’ll blow up the world.”

With the Wagner mutiny, however, there’s an otherworldly, dissonant aspect to this that seems to me to render an intelligent response impossible.

Andrew Osborn, “Russia’s Medvedev: We’d have to use a nuclear weapon if Ukrainian offensive was a success,” Reuters, July 30, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russias-medvedev-wed-have-use-nuclear-weapon-if-ukrainian-offensive-was-success-2023-07-30/


Electric vehicles


Fig. 4. “A Toyota bZ4X electric sport utility vehicle: EVs currently on the market are fitted with batteries that use liquid lithium-ion electrolytes.” Photograph by Kiyoshi Ota, n.d., via Financial Times, fair use.

Tesla lies about the range of its models and ignores complaints about it.[7] I think you know that Elon Musk is lying the same way you know that politicians are.

Abigail Weinberg, “Tesla Can’t Even Do the One Thing It’s Supposed to Be Good At,” Mother Jones, July 28, 2023, https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2023/07/tesla-ev-battery-range/


  1. [1]Charlie Wolfson, “Neighborhood groups try to curb shootings as Pittsburgh’s mayoral campaign puts political focus on gun violence,” Pittsburgh City Paper, October 20, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/neighborhood-groups-try-to-curb-shootings-as-pittsburghs-mayoral-campaign-puts-political-focus-on-gun-violence/Content?oid=20401296
  2. [2]Michael Korsh, “Downtown, South Side remain epicenters of violence, despite Pittsburgh’s crime numbers — and response,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 30, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2023/07/30/crime-statistics-violence-downtown-police/stories/202307280097
  3. [3]Michael Korsh, “Downtown, South Side remain epicenters of violence, despite Pittsburgh’s crime numbers — and response,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 30, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2023/07/30/crime-statistics-violence-downtown-police/stories/202307280097
  4. [4]Michael Korsh, “Downtown, South Side remain epicenters of violence, despite Pittsburgh’s crime numbers — and response,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 30, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2023/07/30/crime-statistics-violence-downtown-police/stories/202307280097
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Nuclear survival,” Not Housebroken, January 24, 2023, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/13/nuclear-survival/
  6. [6]Andrew Osborn, “Russia’s Medvedev: We’d have to use a nuclear weapon if Ukrainian offensive was a success,” Reuters, July 30, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russias-medvedev-wed-have-use-nuclear-weapon-if-ukrainian-offensive-was-success-2023-07-30/
  7. [7]Abigail Weinberg, “Tesla Can’t Even Do the One Thing It’s Supposed to Be Good At,” Mother Jones, July 28, 2023, https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2023/07/tesla-ev-battery-range/

Red and yellow aren’t enough. Pittsburgh adds purple

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Infrastructure


Fig. 1. Post-collapse scene at the Fern Hollow Bridge, photograph by National Transportation Safety Board, January 29, 2022, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Steve Bohnel, “Pittsburgh is painting some curbs purple. Here’s why — and why they’re frustrating business owners,” PIttsburgh Post-Gazette, July 28, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2023/07/28/pittsburgh-squirrel-hill-purple-parking-zones/stories/202307270091


Imperialism

Israel


Fig. 2. John Bolton and Binyamin Netanyahu at a press conference. Office of U.S. National Security Advisor, August 20, 2018, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Times of Israel, “Military Intelligence warned PM 4 times overhaul rift harming deterrence – report,” July 28, 2023, https://www.timesofisrael.com/military-intelligence-warned-pm-4-times-overhaul-rift-harming-deterrence-report/


Illiberalism

Israel

Dov Lieber, “Israel’s Netanyahu Takes On Judges After First Win Over Judicial Reform,” Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/israels-government-looks-at-next-steps-in-judicial-overhaul-shrugging-off-protests-7172e0ad

Times of Israel, “Military Intelligence warned PM 4 times overhaul rift harming deterrence – report,” July 28, 2023, https://www.timesofisrael.com/military-intelligence-warned-pm-4-times-overhaul-rift-harming-deterrence-report/


Guess what, Tankies! Africa, which knows a thing or two about being colonized, isn’t on your side

Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[1] fair use.

Any idea that Africa as a whole leans toward Russia is clearly mistaken. Through the Wagner mercenary group, Russia has played a decisive, though often destructive, role in nations including Mali, the Central African Republic and Sudan, and Moscow has friendly relations with major powers like Egypt and South Africa.

But look at the totality of the five votes against condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine at the United Nations; things aren’t rosy for Moscow. Yes, the majority of Africa’s 54 member states abstained in most of the several votes condemning Russia’s war, but Moscow has only had two African states actually vote with it — pariah states Eritrea and Mali — and even those didn’t do so each time, instead abstaining in some votes. Meanwhile, 19 African states have voted with Ukraine and its allies at least once.[2]

It shouldn’t be the least bit surprising that Africans distrust both Russia and the United States.[3]

Rozina Sabur, “Ukraine launches main thrust of its counter-offensive against Russia,” Telegraph, July 26, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/07/26/ukraine-russia-war-counter-offensive-zelensky-weapons/

Christopher Miller, “Military briefing: Ukraine switches to artillery power for eastern push,” Financial Times, July 27, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/e26ea4c9-90ed-48e5-a599-b2f306682e18

Adam Taylor, “African nations aren’t tilting toward Putin’s Russia,” Washington Post, July 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/27/russia-africa-non-alignment-summit-putin/

United States


Fig. 2. “American Progress,” painting by John Gast, 1872, digital version 2006, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Adam Taylor, “African nations aren’t tilting toward Putin’s Russia,” Washington Post, July 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/27/russia-africa-non-alignment-summit-putin/


Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump
Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Kate Brumback, “Giuliani concedes he made public comments falsely claiming Georgia election workers committed fraud,” Associated Press, July 26, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/giuliani-georgia-election-workers-lawsuit-false-statements-afc64a565ee778c6914a1a69dc756064

Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, “Trump charged with seeking to delete security footage in documents case,” Washington Post, July 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/07/27/trump-carlos-deoliveira-classified-indictment/


  1. [1]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  2. [2]Adam Taylor, “African nations aren’t tilting toward Putin’s Russia,” Washington Post, July 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/27/russia-africa-non-alignment-summit-putin/
  3. [3]Adam Taylor, “African nations aren’t tilting toward Putin’s Russia,” Washington Post, July 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/27/russia-africa-non-alignment-summit-putin/

The story of a trashed island on the Ohio River

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh


Fig. 1. Along Mifflin Road in Pittsburgh’s Hays neighborhood. Photograph by author, December 1, 2020.

Brunot Island is kind of an oddity. You can only get to it by boat or train. But it has cars on it—I see them occasionally as I drive by on Pennsylvania Route 51. It’s mostly been trashed by industrialization, like much of Neville Island, further downstream. It turns out to have a history.[1]

Jonathan D. Silver, “Blaze on Brunot reignites interest in historic Pittsburgh island,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 25, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/blaze-on-brunot-reignites-interest-in-historic-pittsburgh-island/

Housing


Fig. 2. Most of the homeless encampments I’ve seen around Pittsburgh have been on the North Side. This one is downtown, right by a Parkway (Interstate 376) onramp. Photograph by author, May 22, 2023.

Mark Belko, “A new Downtown? More residential, retail a must as concerns grow over possible office building defaults,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 23, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2023/07/23/downtown-pittsburgh-residential-retail-office-building-defaults-jones-lang-lasalle-real-estate-pittsburgh-downtown-partnership-downtown-neighbors-alliance-vacancies/stories/202307230124

Stephanie Ritenbaugh, “’There’s a mismatch’: Office vacancies continue to climb in Pittsburgh region,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 24, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/regional/theres-a-mismatch-office-vacancies-continue-to-climb-in-pittsburgh-region/

Jake Blumgart, “Here’s why Philly’s empty offices likely won’t become apartments anytime soon,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 25, 2023, https://www.inquirer.com/real-estate/real-estate-market-changing-office-buildings-apartments-20230725.html


Neoliberalism

Banking

Commercial real estate


Fig. 3. “The iconic Crescent stands as recognizable landmark in the upscale neighborhood of Uptown, Dallas.” Photograph by Dallasedits [pseud.], July 5, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Mark Belko, “A new Downtown? More residential, retail a must as concerns grow over possible office building defaults,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 23, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2023/07/23/downtown-pittsburgh-residential-retail-office-building-defaults-jones-lang-lasalle-real-estate-pittsburgh-downtown-partnership-downtown-neighbors-alliance-vacancies/stories/202307230124

Stephanie Ritenbaugh, “’There’s a mismatch’: Office vacancies continue to climb in Pittsburgh region,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 24, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/regional/theres-a-mismatch-office-vacancies-continue-to-climb-in-pittsburgh-region/

Jake Blumgart, “Here’s why Philly’s empty offices likely won’t become apartments anytime soon,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 25, 2023, https://www.inquirer.com/real-estate/real-estate-market-changing-office-buildings-apartments-20230725.html

Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and Credit Suisse, 2023


Fig. 4. “The monument sign in front of the parking lot of the Silicon Valley Bank headquarters at 3003 West Tasman Drive, Santa Clara, California.” Photograph by Minh Nguyen, March 13, 2023, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Lauren Thomas et al., “Banc of California Agrees to Buy PacWest as Regional Lenders Seek Strength Together,” Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/banc-of-california-pacwest-in-advanced-talks-to-combine-d9e48a1f?mod=itp_wsj&mod=djemITP_h


Illiberalism


Fig. 5. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

Barney Jopson, “Spain faces uncertain political future after election deadlock,” Financial Times, July 24, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/4ed90f29-5191-4197-a39b-13982eec86c9

Martin Wolf, “Modi’s India is moving in an illiberal direction,” Financial Times, July 25, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/bf591089-6e9d-4cf9-ac80-8c63e3b12f42

Gilead

Right-wing militias
Police White supremacist gangs


Fig. 6. Photograph by Lorie Shaull, April 1, 2021, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Pittsburgh white supremacist gang chief has decided his force can ignore the ordinance passed to prevent secondary traffic stops.[2] I had seen that the force had resumed enforcement of secondary violations on a flimsy context.[3] The current explanation isn’t much better. The chief claims the ordinance conflicts with gang accreditation.[4] I don’t understand why he gets to make this call, but Mayor Ed Gainey just rolls over and plays dead.

Elizabeth Szeto, “City efforts to address racial bias in traffic enforcement have reduced the number of stops, but disparities remain,” Pittsburgh Public Source, July 25, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-police-traffic-stop-disparity-accountability-race/

Donald Trump
Coup attempt


Fig. 7. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Kate Brumback, “Giuliani concedes he made public comments falsely claiming Georgia election workers committed fraud,” Associated Press, July 26, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/giuliani-georgia-election-workers-lawsuit-false-statements-afc64a565ee778c6914a1a69dc756064

Israel

Jeremy Sharon, “A time for reason: Will the High Court strike down government’s reasonableness law?” Times of Israel, July 26, 2023, https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-time-for-reason-will-the-high-court-strike-down-governments-reasonableness-law/


COVID-19 Pandemic


Fig. 8. Cartoon by Peter Brookes, October 3, 2020, via the Times, fair use.

Lena H. Sun, Lauren Weber, and Hayden Godfrey, “Doctors who put lives at risk with covid misinformation rarely punished,” Washington Post, July 26, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2023/07/26/covid-misinformation-doctor-discipline/


  1. [1]Jonathan D. Silver, “Blaze on Brunot reignites interest in historic Pittsburgh island,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 25, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/blaze-on-brunot-reignites-interest-in-historic-pittsburgh-island/
  2. [2]Elizabeth Szeto, “City efforts to address racial bias in traffic enforcement have reduced the number of stops, but disparities remain,” Pittsburgh Public Source, July 25, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-police-traffic-stop-disparity-accountability-race/
  3. [3]Kiley Koscinski, “Pittsburgh Police resume secondary traffic stops despite city ordinance against them,” WESA, January 12, 2023, https://www.wesa.fm/politics-government/2023-01-12/pittsburgh-police-resume-secondary-traffic-stops-despite-city-ordinance-against-them
  4. [4]Elizabeth Szeto, “City efforts to address racial bias in traffic enforcement have reduced the number of stops, but disparities remain,” Pittsburgh Public Source, July 25, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-police-traffic-stop-disparity-accountability-race/

Israel plows ahead with neutering its courts while Spain may have fended off the far right

I am not caught up.


Some of you may have seen notifications that I have terminated my home Internet service. It wasn’t about the cost, though it is an expensive service.

This story really begins long, long ago, in a galzaxy far, far way when I was a computer programmer. Okay, it was earth, late 1970s into the 1980s.

In those days, there was something called an error message. Like today, error messages could be opaque or ambiguous. But as a programmer, I could look at the code to try to begin to try to isolate the problem.

For the past couple weeks, at least, I’ve been having increasing problems on my home local network. No error message, no nothing. Just, it doesn’t work, duh.

This infuriates me anyway, but what has been even more infuriating was that I was unable to isolate the problem. I tore apart the network, put it back together again, step by step. Still couldn’t isolate the problem. I moved cables around. Still couldn’t isolate the problem.

Sunday night, it looked like the problem might actually be with Verizon FiOS. So I placed a service request. Their diagnostic process blamed my equipment—which is possible—but then the problem reappeared even with a direct connection.

Understand, I’m no longer getting anything done. Technology is not a hobby for me. It’s a field of endeavor that has repeatedly left me brutally unemployed while the arrogant and still employed make everything more unnecessarily difficult, mainly to stroke their own egos. I want my head to be elsewhere. That I’m having to fight this shit is even more infuriating.

But it also means I have the experience to know how this plays. So when I chatted with an agent to terminate the service and they tried desperately and repeatedly to promise me they’d get it fixed, even that day, I know better. This is, they come out, blame my equipment. I blame theirs. We get nowhere. And I’m not even a millimeter closer to resolving the problem with a service that’s costing me money—lots of it.

It’s an old problem really. If memory serves, they called this sort of thing a ‘gremlin’ as far back as World War II. It’s an extremely frustrating situation where you don’t know what’s wrong because everybody and everything points their fingers at somebody or something else. The only way to resolve it is to chuck everything out (that’s thousands of dollars of equipment) and start from scratch.

I’m going to have to move in a few months anyway. Perhaps I will try again at the new location. Only perhaps: I don’t ever want to go through this hell again.


Illiberalism


Fig. 1. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

I have gone ahead and subdivided the Illiberalism category. Pretty much any country (not yet Spain) with numerous stories now has its own page.

Barney Jopson, “Spain faces uncertain political future after election deadlock,” Financial Times, July 24, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/4ed90f29-5191-4197-a39b-13982eec86c9

Israel

“Ben Gvir is going to question my patriotism, as many times that I’ve been shot at, in three different wars?” [Amos Davidowitz] said with angry incredulity, tears in his eyes, referring to the minister’s challenges to the loyalty of protesting soldiers.[1]

Shira Rubin and Steve Hendrix, “In judicial overhaul protests, Israel’s soldiers face off against Netanyahu,” Washington Post, July 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/23/israel-judicial-overhaul-protests-military/

Dov Lieber and Shayndi Raice, “Israel Votes to Limit Supreme Court Powers in Approving Part of Netanyahu’s Judicial Overhaul, Sparking Mass Protests,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-netanyahu-government-judicial-overhaul-protests-862dffd3

Times of Israel, “Police clear Ayalon freeway as thousands rally against overhaul into night,” July 24, 2023, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-july-24-2023/

Gilead

Abortion, reproductive freedom and health


Fig. 2. Sign at demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, May 3, 2022. Janni Rye, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

The USA Today article is based on polls,[2] so the usual cautions apply.

Susan Page, “Bellwether? Ohio voters back abortion rights amendment in a test case for other states,” USA Today, July 24, 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2023/07/24/ohioans-back-abortion-rights-amendment-a-test-case-for-other-states/70413318007/

Migration

Priscilla Alvarez and Hannah Rabinowitz, “Justice Department sues to force Texas to remove floating barriers in Rio Grande,” Cable News Network, July 24, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/24/politics/doj-texas-border-water-barriers/index.html


Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine


Fig. 3. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[3] fair use.

Sarah Anne Aarup, Sergey Panov, and Douglas Busvine, “China secretly sends enough gear to Russia to equip an army,” Politico, July 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/china-firms-russia-body-armor-bullet-proof-drones-thermal-optics-army-equipment-shanghai-h-win/

Melissa Lawford, “‘It’s guns versus butter’: Russia on the brink as Putin’s war chest empties,” Telegraph, July 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2023/07/24/russia-economy-putin-war-cost-oil-revenues/

Ishaan Tharoor, “The moral dilemma of sending cluster munitions to Ukraine,” Washington Post, July 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/24/cluster-munitions-moral-dilemma-united-states-bombs/


  1. [1]Shira Rubin and Steve Hendrix, “In judicial overhaul protests, Israel’s soldiers face off against Netanyahu,” Washington Post, July 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/07/23/israel-judicial-overhaul-protests-military/
  2. [2]Susan Page, “Bellwether? Ohio voters back abortion rights amendment in a test case for other states,” USA Today, July 24, 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2023/07/24/ohioans-back-abortion-rights-amendment-a-test-case-for-other-states/70413318007/
  3. [3]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q

Break out the violins. Elon Musk isn’t getting his attention fix

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Housing


Fig. 1. Most of the homeless encampments I’ve seen around Pittsburgh have been on the North Side. This one is downtown, right by a Parkway (Interstate 376) onramp. Photograph by author, May 22, 2023.

If, for whatever reason, you want to know the current state of Pittsburgh’s downtown, Mark Belko’s article will help, but it tends to minimize the problems as given in favor of prospects for renewal. What’s being advocated is something more like a heavily redeveloped Strip District, where luxury apartments in new buildings mix with retail in remaining repurposed older buildings. Note especially the distinction between Penn Avenue, which bustles with restaurants mostly between 10th Street and 6th Street as it melds into venues in the Cultural District closer in, and Liberty Avenue, which seems relatively desolate,[1] not to mention the area south of Liberty Avenue. What I don’t see here is any mention of affordable housing, which had earlier been part of the proposal[2]—I watch this, but with parking costs and Pittsburgh’s three percent local local income tax (many municipalities have a somewhat lower local income tax), it wouldn’t be something I could consider anyway (My present plan is to move to Erie, to escape Pittsburgh’s awful roads and awful driving).

Mark Belko, “A new Downtown? More residential, retail a must as concerns grow over possible office building defaults,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 23, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2023/07/23/downtown-pittsburgh-residential-retail-office-building-defaults-jones-lang-lasalle-real-estate-pittsburgh-downtown-partnership-downtown-neighbors-alliance-vacancies/stories/202307230124


Neoliberalism

Banking

Commercial real estate


Fig. 1. “The iconic Crescent stands as recognizable landmark in the upscale neighborhood of Uptown, Dallas.” Photograph by Dallasedits [pseud.], July 5, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Mark Belko, “A new Downtown? More residential, retail a must as concerns grow over possible office building defaults,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 23, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2023/07/23/downtown-pittsburgh-residential-retail-office-building-defaults-jones-lang-lasalle-real-estate-pittsburgh-downtown-partnership-downtown-neighbors-alliance-vacancies/stories/202307230124


Gilead

Twitter


Fig. 1. “Elon Musk shared a video of his entrance on his Twitter account.” Photograph attributed to Elon Musk, October 26, 2022, via the New York Post,[3] fair use.

So, you know, with everything else that’s been happening, Twitter’s travails have mostly passed from the headlines. But Elon Musk wants attention. So, guess what?

Varg Folkman, “Twitter to ditch bird logo, Musk says,” Politico, July 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/twitter-ditch-bird-logo-elon-musk-rebrand-social-media-platform/


  1. [1]Mark Belko, “A new Downtown? More residential, retail a must as concerns grow over possible office building defaults,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 23, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2023/07/23/downtown-pittsburgh-residential-retail-office-building-defaults-jones-lang-lasalle-real-estate-pittsburgh-downtown-partnership-downtown-neighbors-alliance-vacancies/stories/202307230124
  2. [2]Mark Belko, “Quicker conversions of Downtown Pittsburgh offices into apartments moving closer to reality,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 21, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2022/09/20/pittsburgh-planning-commission-zoning-apartments-condos-residential-downtown-partnership-larimer-twg-indianapolis/stories/202209200105
  3. [3]Thomas Barrabi, “Elon Musk barges into Twitter HQ as deal nears: ‘Let that sink in,’” New York Post, October 26, 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/10/26/elon-musk-barges-into-twitter-headquarters-as-deal-nears/

Have Prince Andrew’s whopper your way

Jeffrey Epstein


Fig. 1. “Donald Trump with his future wife Melania Knauss, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Mar-a-Lago in February 2000.” Photograph credited to Davidoff Studios Photography/Getty Images, February 2000,[1] fair use.

Prince Andrew tells what is plainly and obviously a whopper about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. He refutes himself: If you’re breaking off a friendship, you don’t then stay at their mansion for several days because it’s “convenient.”[2]

Victoria Ward, “Prince Andrew ‘had dinner with Epstein’, court documents claim,” Telegraph, July 21, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2023/07/21/prince-andrew-staley-epstein-maitlis-newsnight-contact/


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Housing


Fig. 1. Most of the homeless encampments I’ve seen around Pittsburgh have been on the North Side. This one is downtown, right by a Parkway (Interstate 376) onramp. Photograph by author, May 22, 2023.

I don’t quite understand how the numbers usually work out. I see existing subsidized housing that’s pretty densely packed. It’s unattractive. It’s old (the Bedford Dwellings are something like 90 years old[3]). It wasn’t built to last this long and it’s run down. Some of it—a complex on the southern edge of Clairton comes to mind—is in absolutely appalling condition, with blighted units immediately next door to occupied units. It’d have been due for replacement decades ago even with optimum tenants.

The replacement housing that I’ve seen, both in San Francisco and in Pittsburgh, is manifestly less dense, often townhouses for families, raising yet again my question of what happens to displaced people, first while old units are being torn down and new ones built, and afterwards, when there is space for fewer people.

The replacement housing seems more attractive. There are fewer congregations of people socializing, something you generally don’t see very much at all in white neighborhoods, and thus something that I need to be careful in discussing: I’ve said before that Pittsburgh’s Black communities seem especially tight-knit, much more so than those of other races—but given the association between poverty and deviant behavior (criminology-speak for “crime”) with even a mild sprinkling of bigotry, it’s much too easy to assume they’re engaged in illicit behavior. (Another explanation might be that their apartments aren’t adequately air conditioned, so of course they’re outside, and of course there are a lot of them.)

I fear a colonizer’s attitude. I worry that the replacement housing may often be designed more so white people will be less uncomfortable passing through these communities and more for how white people think Black people should live their lives, than for how Black people actually live and want to live their lives. I would be more comfortable if I knew this had been properly studied. I don’t.

It looks like Bedford Dwellings in Pittsburgh’ Hill District will be different. Supposedly the replacement will accommodate twice as many units.[4] The existing complex is already huge:

The [Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh] applied last year for the grant [and won] through Choice Neighborhoods, a program run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to replace all 411 units of Bedford Dwellings with more than 800 mixed-income units. . . .

The authority must build at least 411 units of deeply affordable housing, around 200 of other income-limited units and around 200 at market rates.[5]

Really my question about displacement remains, because these will be mixed-income units rather than all subsidized, and of course the problem of what to do with the people living in units being demolished is the same.

But the “mixed-income” part also worries me. I understand, all too well, the part about how, oh, you live there, therefore you’re on Section 8, therefore you’re poor, therefore you’re stigmatized. But I also see assimilation, as with repeated U.S. attempts to break up American Indian communities in the hope that if subaltern populations live like prosperous white people, they’ll be treated like prosperous white people, a prosper like prosperous white people: It doesn’t work because it doesn’t respect Indian culture and because there is bigotry that is plainly about skin color.

“Culture,” of course, is a term that’s been put into service as a euphemism for race to justify segregation.[6] But that doesn’t mean that subcultures haven’t formed in racially segregated communities and that these subcultures are undeserving of respect. Communities deserve respect regardless of how they form; they are, after all, what really makes us human. So again, I’m concerned about a colonizer’s attitude running roughshod.

Eric Jankiewicz, “$50 million federal infusion coming to Pittsburgh housing authority’s Hill District revamp,” Public Source, July 21, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/federal-hud-choice-neighborhoods-grant-pittsburgh-housing-affordable-hill-district/


Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump
Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Bess Levin is rightly cautious about how Aileen Cannon might handle the classified records trial.[7] After all, in overturning her decision, the appeals court made pretty clear how egregiously wrong her decisions appointing a special master were and the decision was widely regarded as betraying the Trump-appointee’s bias.[8]

I’m wondering if the courts have a means of reining in judges who get too far out of line, as Cannon clearly had, and if so, what sort of leash Cannon might find herself on and how that might affect her decisions.

Holly Bailey, “Trump attorneys again push to block Georgia 2020 election investigation,” Washington Post, July 21, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/07/21/trump-georgia-investigation/

Sadie Gurman, “Judge Sets May 2024 Trial Date for Trump’s Documents Case,” Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-aileen-cannon-sets-may-2024-trial-date-for-trumps-documents-trial-eefddbae

Bess Levin, “That Sound You Hear Is Donald Trump Screaming, Crying, and Throwing Up in a Mar-a-Lago Bathroom,” Vanity Fair, July 21, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/07/donald-trump-fulton-county-racketeering-documents-trial-date

Hugo Lowell, “Fulton county prosecutors prepare racketeering charges in Trump inquiry,” Guardian, July 21, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jul/21/georgia-trump-charges-fraud-election-2020

Matt Stieb, “Trump May Be on Trial During the 2024 General Election,” New York, July 21, 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/07/trump-trial-date-set-by-judge-aileen-cannon.html


  1. [1]Martin Pengelly, “‘She say anything about me?’ Trump raised Ghislaine Maxwell link with aides,” Guardian, October 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/oct/04/trump-ghislaine-maxwell-epstein-maggie-haberman-book-confidence-man
  2. [2]Victoria Ward, “Prince Andrew ‘had dinner with Epstein’, court documents claim,” Telegraph, July 21, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2023/07/21/prince-andrew-staley-epstein-maitlis-newsnight-contact/
  3. [3]Eric Jankiewicz, “$50 million federal infusion coming to Pittsburgh housing authority’s Hill District revamp,” Public Source, July 21, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/federal-hud-choice-neighborhoods-grant-pittsburgh-housing-affordable-hill-district/
  4. [4]Eric Jankiewicz, “$50 million federal infusion coming to Pittsburgh housing authority’s Hill District revamp,” Public Source, July 21, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/federal-hud-choice-neighborhoods-grant-pittsburgh-housing-affordable-hill-district/
  5. [5]Eric Jankiewicz, “$50 million federal infusion coming to Pittsburgh housing authority’s Hill District revamp,” Public Source, July 21, 2023, https://www.publicsource.org/federal-hud-choice-neighborhoods-grant-pittsburgh-housing-affordable-hill-district/
  6. [6]I had to remember this when I was preparing for my dissertation and read Richard Weaver, Visions of Order (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995). If you don’t remember it, you might fail to recognize that he indeed means race when he writes “culture,” and that the Supreme Court decision he objects to is almost certainly Brown v. Board of Education, which mandated school desegregation.
  7. [7]Bess Levin, “That Sound You Hear Is Donald Trump Screaming, Crying, and Throwing Up in a Mar-a-Lago Bathroom,” Vanity Fair, July 21, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/07/donald-trump-fulton-county-racketeering-documents-trial-date
  8. [8]Mariana Alfaro and Eugene Scott, “Judge’s openness to special master for Mar-a-Lago documents raises new questions in criminal probe,” Washington Post, August 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/29/special-master-trump-biden-pennsylvania/; Robert Barnes and Perry Stein, “Supreme Court rejects Trump request on Mar-a-Lago documents,” Washington Post, October 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/13/supreme-court-trump-mar-a-lago-classified-documents/; Devlin Barrett, “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents already examined by FBI, Justice Dept. tells judge,” Washington Post, August 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/29/trumpspecial-master-documents/; Devlin Barrett, “Appeals court sides with Justice Department in Mar-a-Lago case,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/mar-a-lago-appeal-court-ruling/; Aaron Blake, “A thorough rebuke of Judge Aileen Cannon’s pro-Trump order,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/22/thorough-rebuke-judge-aileen-cannons-pro-trump-order/; Jess Bravin and Aruna Viswanatha, “Judge Grants Donald Trump’s Request for Independent Review of Mar-a-Lago Documents,” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-partly-grants-donald-trumps-request-for-independent-review-of-mar-a-lago-documents-11662395427; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/21/donald-trump-special-master-00058176; Ann E. Marimow and Devlin Barrett, “Judge’s special-master order a test of Trump’s post-White House powers,” Washington Post, September 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/06/trump-judge-cannon-special-master-order/; Charlie Savage, “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry,” New York Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/05/us/trump-special-master-aileen-cannon.html; Charlie Savage, “U.S. Asks Court to End Special Master Review of Files Seized From Trump,” New York Times, October 17, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/14/us/appeal-special-master-trump.html; Eric Tucker, “Judge grants Trump bid for special master in Mar-a-Lago case,” Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-09-05/judge-grants-trump-bid-for-special-master-in-mar-a-lago-case; Ariane de Vogue and Katelyn Polantz, “Supreme Court rejects former President Donald Trump’s request to intervene in Mar-a-Lago documents fight,” Cable News Network, October 13, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/13/politics/supreme-court-trump-mar-a-lago/index.html

Ready for some visualization? How about multiple criminal trials of a major party presidential candidate in the midst of the campaign?

Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump
Coup attempt


Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

I’m trying to visualize multiple criminal trials of a major party presidential candidate during the campaign. In the words of, if I remember right, HAL 9000, “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.”

At some point, too many variables, many with unknown values, intervene. Which is one way of saying I have no special insight as to how this plays. But damn, surely, it’ll be worth a few bags of popcorn.

Holly Bailey, “Trump attorneys again push to block Georgia 2020 election investigation,” Washington Post, July 21, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/07/21/trump-georgia-investigation/

Sadie Gurman, “Judge Sets May 2024 Trial Date for Trump’s Documents Case,” Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-aileen-cannon-sets-may-2024-trial-date-for-trumps-documents-trial-eefddbae

Matt Stieb, “Trump May Be on Trial During the 2024 General Election,” New York, July 21, 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/07/trump-trial-date-set-by-judge-aileen-cannon.html