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June 5th, 2022:

Weekend link dump for June 5

“Male TV presenters in Afghanistan are wearing face masks on screen to show solidarity after the Taliban issued an order that all women on news channels must cover their faces.”

“What is now a push to eradicate exceptions for rape and incest won’t stop there because the anti-abortion movement never wanted compromise. They never planned to stop once they restricted abortion to a certain point. If it was, they would have been satisfied with bans at 20 weeks, 15 weeks, 12 weeks, eight weeks, even six weeks. But they were not and are not, because the goal was never to reach a sanitized consensus. The goal has always been clear – to end legal abortion in any and all cases, and to punish those who have abortions.”

“That one decision to go and find the truth underlying Elon Musk’s promises, rather than just take his word for it, changed my life in ways I never could have anticipated. Now, seven long and often lonely years later, the world seems to be understanding what I learned from the experience: Once you stop taking Musk at his word, his heroic popular image evaporates and a far darker reality begins to reveal itself.”

“Why 18-Year-Olds in Texas Can Buy AR-15s but Not Handguns”.

“To many casual observers, Maus is the comic that made the funny pages legitimate literature. But long before Spiegelman’s account of his family trauma won a Pulitzer and broke open establishment conceptions of what comics could be and do, artists were using the medium to talk about difficult nonfiction topics. During World War II, in fact, some comics creators even delved into the grimmest depths of the Nazis’ Final Solution.”

“Here in the hospital, we will always be waiting to receive those who make it to us. We’ll do our best, on our end, every time. But our best will always be a worse option than prevention. Please don’t lose sight of the better option.”

“It is indeed a striking feature of the American political discourse: In determining whether or not something counts as extravagant or aloof, the socio-economic dimension is almost entirely ignored – all that counts are the cultural sensibilities of conservative white people.”

“The science is abundantly clear: More guns do not stop crime. Guns kill more children each year than auto accidents. More children die by gunfire in a year than on-duty police officers and active military members. Guns are a public health crisis, just like COVID, and in this, we are failing our children, over and over again.”

Lock him up.

“There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist.”

“Programming on TMTG+, the document said, will include “blue collar comedy, cancelled shows, Trump-specific programming, faith-based shows, family entertainment, shows that embrace the Second Amendment, and news.””

“Kalush Orchestra, the ensemble that took home the Eurovision 2022 trophy earlier this month, has auctioned off the statue to support their country’s armed forces.”

What Ewan McGregor and Anson Mount say.

“The quick not-guilty verdict was a sharp slap at Durham’s three-year-long investigation, which was launched by William Barr, when he was Trump’s loyalist attorney general, and which has come across as a political crusade mounted to undermine the various Trump-Russia investigations.”

“A new memo offers insight into exactly how Trump’s lawyers imagined a scheme involving alternate slates of electors would play out.”

“I’ve assembled a lengthy, though surely incomplete, list of stolen apes and related scams. (Keep in mind that ape thefts alone are only a fraction all NFT and crypto thefts over time. It’s an expansive universe! Of scams!) Put on your internet face, whether it’s a bored ape or not, and read on.”

“At any rate, as pointed out earlier, it ultimately bears keeping in mind that the so-called “replacement theory” is an ugly old phenomenon, now burnished with a new name with the word “theory” tagged on. From time immemorial, genocides were always actuated by the mindset that the targeted group posed a problem for the society in which they lived. That is the bottom line. We are seeing it again. That being the case, we must not wait until a “substantial” number of Black people, Latino people, Jewish people, etc., have been killed before we recognise genocide as implicated in the spate of murders now being stoked by the so-called “replacement theory”, notwithstanding that these murders are also rightfully described as “hate” crimes.”

“Late on Wednesday evening, the Education Department announced that it will automatically cancel $5.8 billion in loans for 560,000 borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, a chain of fraud-ridden for-profit schools. The move is the single largest student debt cancellation action ever taken by the department. It concludes a multi-year push by ex-Corinthian students and advocates for debt relief for people who enrolled at the schools, which engaged in widespread deception of prospective students.”

If committees are all we’re going to get, then let’s get something from the committees

Not too much to ask, I hope.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan on Friday announced the creation of a legislative committee to investigate the Uvalde shooting.

“The fact we still do not have an accurate picture of what exactly happened in Uvalde is an outrage,” the Beaumont Republican said in a statement announcing the committee. “Every day, we receive new information that conflicts with previous reports, making it not only difficult for authorities to figure out next steps, but for the grieving families of the victims to receive closure. I established this investigative committee for the dedicated purpose of gathering as much information and evidence as possible to help inform the House’s response to this tragedy and deliver desperately needed answers to the people of Uvalde and the State of Texas.”

The three-person investigative committee will have subpoena power for its investigation and will be led by state Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican who is an attorney. El Paso Democrat Joe Moody, a former prosecutor, will serve as the committee’s vice chair. Former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, who recently lost a bid to become the Republican nominee for attorney general, will also be a member of the panel.

Phelan said Burrows, Moody and Guzman have “decades of experience in civil and criminal litigation matters” that make them well-equipped to conduct the committee’s investigations.

The speaker’s latest announcement comes days after he voiced his support for ending the “dead suspect loophole” in Texas public records laws, which could impede the public’s ability to get answers about the police response to the shooting. Law enforcement agencies often use a statute in the law to shield from public release records related to incidents that don’t lead to a conviction, including in cases in which the suspect dies before a chance to prosecute.

“It’s time we pass legislation to end the dead suspect loophole for good in 2023,” he said on social media on Wednesday.

Better than its Senate counterpart, which is admittedly a low bar. I’d not heard of the “dead suspect loophole” before. I’m fine with closing it, but please don’t tell me it’s going to promote gun safety or reduce gun violence in any way. It’s worth doing on its own merits, and it would mean the Lege didn’t do absolutely nothing. It’s also an extremely small step to take, and we should not be close to satisfied with it.

I do hope this committee uses its subpoena powers, because good Lord there are so many things that still need to be explained.

The Uvalde school district police chief who led the response to last week’s shooting and made the decision to wait for reinforcements while the gunman and survivors were still in the building did not have a police radio when he first arrived on campus, possibly missing reports about the 911 calls coming from inside, according to news reports.

Pete Arredondo, police chief for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, instead used a cellphone to call a police landline to tell officers about the shooter, The New York Times reported Friday. Arredondo told his department that the gunman had an AR-15 but was contained, the Times reported, and to send backup and surround Robb Elementary School.

Arredondo’s decision-making has been widely criticized after it took more than an hour for law enforcement to breach the classroom where the gunman was holed up. Parents begged the dozens of officers outside the school to take action and tried to enter the school themselves. Some were physically restrained.

It was Arredondo who decided to not immediately confront the gunman, who killed 19 children and two teachers and injured 17 others, state law enforcement officials have said. Instead, Arredondo chose to wait for backup and equipment and to treat the gunman as a “barricaded suspect” rather than an active shooter, Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said last week.

Meanwhile, 911 calls from students trapped inside the classroom with the gunman were pouring in to local police dispatchers — including a student begging for police officers to show up. Those calls were routed to the Uvalde Police Department, which operates independently from the school district’s police force, Roland Gutierrez, the state senator who represents Uvalde, said Thursday.

Arredondo presumably did not know about the multiple 911 calls while he was on the scene. McCraw said Arredondo believed no children were in danger, possibly because he did not know any survived inside the classroom.

“Unless there was someone relaying him info, there was no way for him to know there were 911 calls coming from inside that room,” Gutierrez told TV news station WOAI on Friday.

Unbelievable, but at this point unsurprising. The problems go way deeper than one incompetent police chief, and while he deserves a lot of blame and needs to be made to answer a bunch of questions, scapegoating him doesn’t get us anywhere. Just again, don’t ever talk to me about “good guys with guns”. It was idiotic before, and it’s insulting now. Daily Kos has more.

Get ready for the Uvalde gun lawsuits

We’ll see if they can get anywhere.

A teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde has filed paperwork indicating she intends to sue the gun manufacturer who made the assault-style rifle the gunman used to massacre 19 children and two teachers.

Don Flanary, a lawyer representing longtime teacher Emilia Marin, filed a petition late Thursday asking a state district judge for permission to gather more information about Daniel Defense LLC in anticipation of a lawsuit. The request includes permission to depose, or interview under oath, officials from the Georgia-based company.

“Petitioner seeks to obtain the deposition testimony and evidence from Daniel Defense to investigate potential claims by the Petitioner,” the filing states. “The subject matter of the potential claim is the conduct of Daniel Defense which was a cause of the injuries and damages suffered by Emilia Marin.”

The teacher was in Robb Elementary that morning, but because the paperwork is preliminary and not an actual lawsuit, it offers no detail as to what harm or injury she suffered.

The petition seeks information regarding the AR-15 variant rifle sold to Uvalde gunman Salvador Ramos — as well as information about four AR-15-style rifles found in the hotel room of a mass shooter who killed 60 people in Las Vegas in 2017. It also seeks information about how Daniel Defense markets its firearms.


San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts told the Express-News this week he and other attorneys contacted by victims’ families were investigating potential claims against the gunmaker. Marin’s petition appears to be the first of a likely wave of filings.

Lawyers say there’s precedent for such potential lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

In February, the families of nine victims of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., agreed to a $73 million settlement with Remington, the maker of the AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle used in the massacre. It was believed to be the largest payout by a gunmaker in a mass shooting case.

The settlement was notable because the plaintiffs’ legal team devised a way around a 2005 federal law that shields gun companies from civil liability. They did so by arguing that Remington violated Connecticut state consumer law by marketing the weapon to unstable young men.

This is a state lawsuit, though given how radical SCOTUS has gotten the potential plaintiffs here may have a better chance of success. I’d love to see a whole bunch of them stick it to the gun makers, but best to keep one’s expectations in check. And via the Trib, we see a second suit begin to take shape as well.

Lawyers for the family of a 10-year-old victim of a Uvalde gunman have requested marketing material from the Georgia-based manufacturer behind the AR-15-style assault rifle used to kill 21 people at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School.

The legal team, which is representing relatives of Amerie Jo Garza, hasn’t filed a lawsuit. But one of its members won a $73 million settlement for nine families of victims in the Sandy Hook shooting after pioneering a legal theory that the marketing of the gun used in that shooting violated fair-trade laws in Connecticut.

In a joint letter, the lawyers asked officials with Daniel Defense, the gun manufacturer, to preserve evidence including marketing plans, social media campaigns and advertising. The letter was sent by Mikal Watts of San Antonio, Charla Aldous of Dallas and Josh Koskoff of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They represent Alfred Garza III and Kimberly Garcia, the parents of Amerie Jo.

“My purpose for being now is to honor Amerie Jo’s memory,” Alfred Garza said in a statement released by the law firms. “She would want to me to do everything I can so this will never happen again to any other child. I have to fight her fight.”

In their letter to Daniel Defense, the lawyers ask that records, including the company’s online purchasing database and their communications with the 18-year-old Uvalde shooter, be preserved. The gunman purchased a DDM4 rifle, which is classified as an AR-15-style weapon.

“If they really are sincere in their desire to support these families, they will provide the information that Mr. Garza has requested without delay or excuse,” Koskoff said in a statement.


The federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act shields gun manufacturers from liability in a mass shooting. However, there are exemptions, which is how Koskoff and his team successfully won a settlement without the case going to trial in the Sandy Hook case.

One of those exemptions to the 2005 law occurs if a state law is violated, according to Dru Stevenson, the Wayne Fischer research professor at South Texas College of Law, who specializes in firearm policy and regulation. In the Sandy Hook case, Koskoff argued that the marketing of the gun violated fair-trade laws in Connecticut.

Whether the same exception could be used in a potential lawsuit by the Uvalde families is not clear.

“It’s going to be a new question for the Texas Supreme Court,” Stevenson said, “to see if this type of marketing violates unfair trade practices law here.”

Like I said, keep your expectations in check, but boy do I want to see all of these plaintiffs succeed.

On the subject of the manufacturer, this recent episode of the What Next podcast took a closer look at them and their very culture war-style marketing; here’s a transcript if you don’t want to listen. I favor all of the usual things we’ve been talking about here – raising the age to purchase a gun to 21, enhanced background checks, red flag laws, reinstating the assault weapons ban, etc etc etc – but requiring gun owners to carry insurance and removing that federal liability shield should be high on the priority list as well. Daily Kos has more.

Cuellar claims victory in CD28

He has a bigger lead now than he did on Election Night.

Rep. Henry Cuellar

With every vote counted in a fiercely contested South Texas Democratic primary runoff, longtime congressman Henry Cuellar was 281 votes ahead of progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.

Cuellar declared victory last week, after coming in 177 votes ahead of Cisneros on Election Day. The remaining uncounted ballots expanded his lead by another 104 votes, final results from each county in the district showed.

“As I said on election night, the margin will hold — and it has not only held but grown,” Cuellar said in a statement.

Cuellar called for those who voted against him in the runoff to back him in the general election, when Republicans hope Cassy Garcia, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, will flip the long blue district.

“While we may differ on certain positions, we share a common ground on many issues to improve our communities and strengthen families,” Cuellar said.

The final tally is still well within the bounds of a possible recount, however. Texas law allows candidates to request one if the vote difference is less than 10 percent of the leading candidate’s vote total; Cuellar finished with 22,895 votes.

Cisernos’s campaign, which did not immediately comment on the final tally, spent the last week raising money for a “recount fund” and telling supporters that “a recount is looking more and more likely.”

Cuellar’s lead is considerably larger than Michelle Vallajo’s in CD15, though as noted both races are subject to recount. On that subject, among the thousands of emails I get each day are several from Cisneros asking for donations to her “recount fund”, which is silly since her campaign would not have to pay for a recount due to the closeness of the election. Such appeals do work, though, so here we are. As I said with CD15, either ask for a recount (which is Cisneros’ right under the law) or don’t, but either way it’s time to wrap this up and move on to November. Whatever you think of Cuellar (and as you know, I’ve never liked him), he’s always a strong performer in November and should be in decent shape to win even in a non-favorable environment. Big picture, y’all. The San Antonio Report has more.


Very interesting.

A Pew Research Center survey has found that 6 million adults in the United States identify as Afro-Latino, noting that this population experiences higher levels of discrimination than Hispanic people who do not identify as Afro-descendant.

The nonpartisan think tank said in a report released this week that 12 percent of the adult Latino population in the country identifies as Afro-Latino, a distinct identity with deep roots in Latin America that can often exist alongside a person’s Hispanic, racial or national origin identities.

The demographic portrait of Afro-Latino adults, who represent 2 percent of the U.S. population, indicates that 49 percent were born in the U.S. when Puerto Rico is included. The report is based on a survey conducted from November 2019 to June 2020 and an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, and incorporates data from another survey, from March 2021.

Among Afro-Latinos, 29 percent come from Mexico; 23 percent from Puerto Rico; 18 percent from the Dominican Republic; 7 percent from Cuba and 5 percent from El Salvador, the survey found. An additional 14 percent belong to other non-identified Hispanic or Latino origins.

“The most interesting thing we found in our research was the fact that when you ask about Afro-Latino identity of the overall adult population in the U.S., you get a small share of those who identify as Afro-Latino who actually do not check the box of being Latino or Hispanic in a typical race and ethnicity question like the one asked by the Census and others,” said Gonzalez-Barrera.

“We did not ask why about 1 in 7 Afro-Latinos do not identify as Hispanic or Latino,” added Gonzalez-Barrera. “But our results point to the fact that Afro-Latino identity is unique and encompasses more than just a race or ethnic label.”

You can find the full Pew survey here. I wish they had broken the data down by state, I’d love to know how Texas compares to the rest of the country. I don’t have any insights, just thought this was worth passing along. Go read the rest of the story.