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Ongoing discussion of the political news of the day. This thread is for 'smaller' stories that don't call for their own thread. If a story blows up, please start a new thread for it.

Book about book bans banned by Florida school board

A book about book bans has been banned in a Florida school district.

Ban This Book, a children’s book written by Alan Gratz, will no longer be available in the Indian River county school district since the school board voted to remove the book last month.

Gratz’s book, which came out in 2017, follows fourth-grader Amy Anne Ollinger as she tries to check out her favorite book. Ollinger is told by the librarian she cannot, because it was banned after a classmate’s parent thought it was inappropriate. She then creates a secret banned-books library, entering into “an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read”, according to the book’s description on Gratz’s website.

In a peculiar case of life imitating art, Jennifer Pippin, a parent in the coastal community, challenged the book.

Pippin’s opposition is what prompted the school board to vote 3-2 in favor of removing it from shelves. The vote happened despite the district’s book-review committee vetting the work and deciding to keep it in schools.

Prederick wrote:

Book about book bans banned by Florida school board

A book about book bans has been banned in a Florida school district.

Ban This Book, a children’s book written by Alan Gratz, will no longer be available in the Indian River county school district since the school board voted to remove the book last month.

Gratz’s book, which came out in 2017, follows fourth-grader Amy Anne Ollinger as she tries to check out her favorite book. Ollinger is told by the librarian she cannot, because it was banned after a classmate’s parent thought it was inappropriate. She then creates a secret banned-books library, entering into “an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read”, according to the book’s description on Gratz’s website.

In a peculiar case of life imitating art, Jennifer Pippin, a parent in the coastal community, challenged the book.

Pippin’s opposition is what prompted the school board to vote 3-2 in favor of removing it from shelves. The vote happened despite the district’s book-review committee vetting the work and deciding to keep it in schools.

Banception!

Jennifer Pippen and "mom's for liberty" are menaces.

She was also an anti-masker (no surprise) that took some entirely unethical approaches to challenging the mandate.

She also hangs out with antisemites

How many books can a book ban ban if a book ban can ban books?

SCOTUS threw out the Mifepristone case. This is good. I'm shocked that it was unanimous.

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously preserved access to a medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the U.S. last year, in the court’s first abortion decision since conservative justices overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

The justices ruled that abortion opponents lacked the legal right to sue over the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the medication, mifepristone, and the FDA’s subsequent actions to ease access to it.

The case had threatened to restrict access to mifepristone across the country, including in states where abortion remains legal.

JC wrote:

SCOTUS threw out the Mifepristone case. This is good. I'm shocked that it was unanimous.

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously preserved access to a medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the U.S. last year, in the court’s first abortion decision since conservative justices overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

The justices ruled that abortion opponents lacked the legal right to sue over the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the medication, mifepristone, and the FDA’s subsequent actions to ease access to it.

The case had threatened to restrict access to mifepristone across the country, including in states where abortion remains legal.

Is this another of those cases where the Court's ruling is providing a wink-and-a-nudge to the people suing, pointing towards a more feasible legal route?

Yeah kinda. Ruling the plaintiff lacks standing doesn't say anything about what the court thinks about the constitutionality of abortion.

NYT wrote:

Those who object to what a law allows others to do can always “seek greater regulatory or legislative restrictions on certain activities,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. But the decision did not rule out the possibility that other plaintiffs — notably states — may be able to pursue challenges to the availability of mifepristone, a medication used in a majority of abortions in the country.

JC wrote:

Jennifer Pippen and "mom's for liberty" are menaces.

She was also an anti-masker (no surprise) that took some entirely unethical approaches to challenging the mandate.

She also hangs out with antisemites

At this point, I feel like it won't be long before I read an article lauding a new volunteer fire department in Florida tasked with burning books, assume it's The Onion, and be wrong.

"Christians" today are not about ethics. Or morality. Just control.

The mifepristone case standing issue was egregious. SCOTUS didn't want to have to deal with the gigantic can of worms it would open up. None of the plaintiffs were harmed by mifepristone or the FDA in any way, not even indirectly.

We decline to start the Federal Judiciary down that uncharted path. That path would seemingly not end until virtually every citizen had standing to challenge virtually every government action that they do not like—an approach to standing that this Court has consistently rejected as flatly inconsistent with Article III.

The case only survived because of the batsh*t insanity of the 5th court.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

SCOTUS didn't want to have to deal with the gigantic can of worms it would open up.

They already did that with the student loan cancellation case and the homophobic web designer case.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

The case only survived because of the batsh*t insanity of the 5th court one single guy.

Fixed that for you.

Full of sound and fury, etc...

Orlando, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis' appointees on Wednesday gave final approval to an agreement that buries the hatchet between Disney and the governing district for Walt Disney World, which the Florida governor took over after the company two years ago publicly opposed a state law critics dubbed "Don't Say Gay."

The five DeSantis-appointed board members to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District unanimously voted to approve a 15-year development deal in which the district committed to making infrastructure improvements in exchange for Disney investing up to $17 billion into Disney World over the next two decades.

The agreement followed a detente in March in which both sides agreed to stop litigating against each other in state court and work toward negotiating a new development agreement and a new comprehensive plan no later than next year. The district provides municipal services such as firefighting, planning and mosquito control, among other things, and was controlled by Disney supporters before the takeover by the DeSantis appointees.

District board member Brian Aungst said at Wednesday night's board meeting that the agreement provides a lasting and stable framework for Disney and the board to work together.

"This is the day we all have been looking forward to," Aungst said. "I was always extremely optimistic and knew we would get here because it was the right outcome."

There’s a Time Bomb Hidden In the Supreme Court’s Abortion Pills Decision

Distressingly, the opinion leaves breadcrumbs for these activists to follow next time—and sets up some roadblocks to keep progressive activists out. For example, Kavanaugh writes that plaintiffs who aren’t actually affected by a given regulation, like the AHM, can still “thread the causation needle” if they show that the parties who are regulated “will likely react in predictable ways that in turn will likely injure the plaintiffs.” The Court also clarified that an organization does not have standing merely if it “diverts its resources in response to a defendant’s actions.”
JC wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

The case only survived because of the batsh*t insanity of the 5th court one single guy.

Fixed that for you.

Not sure who you mean?

Quintin_Stone wrote:
JC wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

The case only survived because of the batsh*t insanity of the 5th court one single guy.

Fixed that for you.

Not sure who you mean?

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. He's the only anti-abortion judge in Amarillo, TX and the case was shopped directly to him because of his stance, that then caused it to go to appeal in New Orleans and then onto to SCOTUS.

Sure but the Fifth Circuit should have been the ones to shut it down. They're just as bad.

Supreme Court Overturns Ban On Gun-Enhancing Bump Stock Devices
*not surprising. Personally I don't know that it matters all that much. It is just modifying how killers kill. Until we, as a country, get over this unquestioning worship of the 2nd amendment nothing will really help.

The Supreme Court Friday overturned a federal agency’s rule banning bump stocks, the devices used in some of America’s deadliest mass killings carried out by lone shooters.

In a 6-3 decision penned by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court found that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had exceeded its authority by reclassifying the devices as “machine guns” in response to an unprecedentedly violent mass shooting.

Plaintiff Michael Cargill, an Austin, Texas, gun store owner, did not claim that the Second Amendment protected his right to own a bump stock. The case focused narrowly on the administrative process by which the ATF banned bump stocks, which harness a firearm’s recoil to achieve rates of firing that approach those of automatic weapons.

The ATF issued a rule in 2018 reclassifying bump stocks as machine guns, making them illegal for civilians to own under federal law. The bureau passed the rule in response to the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, when a single shooter fired more than 1,000 rounds into a concert crowd, killing 60 people and injuring 850 more.

But the Supreme Court found that bump stocks did not meet the statutory definition of a “machine gun,” which requires that a gun fire automatically “by a single function of the trigger.”

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Sure but the Fifth Circuit should have been the ones to shut it down. They're just as bad.

No, 5th circuit found that Kacsmaryk was wrong. Which setup the conflict so that it cold be appealed to SCOTUS. That was the plan all along.

JC wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

Sure but the Fifth Circuit should have been the ones to shut it down. They're just as bad.

No, 5th circuit found that Kacsmaryk was wrong. Which setup the conflict so that it cold be appealed to SCOTUS. That was the plan all along.

Only wrong about part of it. They did not address the standing issue at all AFAIK which was the biggest issue here.

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/h...

The Fifth Circuit decision vacated the district court’s ruling against the FDA’s approval of the drug in 2000 on the grounds that the challenge is probably barred by the statute of limitations. The decision also vacated the ruling against the 2019 Generic Approval because the plaintiffs failed to show they were injured by it. Those parts of the decision would keep mifepristone and the generic version on the market. The panel, however, affirmed the district court’s order staying the 2016 Amendments relaxing some of the initial safety restrictions and the 2021 non-enforcement decision to allow dispensing through the mail. This decision will not change anything given the Supreme Court’s April order, but it will define the arguments that will likely be presented when the case is appealed to the Supreme Court.

https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08...

A federal appeals court on Wednesday said it would restrict access to a widely used abortion medication after finding that the federal government did not follow the proper process when it loosened regulations in 2016 to make the pill more easily available.

A three-judge panel of the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said Food and Drug Administration decisions to allow the drug mifepristone to be taken later in pregnancy, be mailed directly to patients and be prescribed by a medical professional other than a doctor were not lawful.

A January 6 Rioter Is Leading an Armed National Militia From Prison

Years after being accused of swinging a baseball bat at police officers during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, Edward “Jake” Lang is now using encrypted messaging channels to create a nationwide network of armed militias in all 50 states.

Though he has been in prison for over 1,200 days, Lang is working with a network of election deniers and conspiracists to promote the North American Patriot and Liberty Militia, or Napalm for short. The group officially launched last week with 50 state-specific militia groups on Telegram.

Lang claims that the Telegram groups already have 20,000 members, including pastors, farmers, former military personnel, and currently serving sheriffs. However, multiple experts who reviewed the channels tell WIRED that figure was wildly overestimated, and that the real figure was closer to 2,500 members. But a group this size, they warn, is still large enough to cause a serious threat. And while unarmed members are welcome, the group is, at its core, a pro-gun organization. “We are pro open carry, pro always have it on you, rather than waiting for somebody else to be able to defend your life,” says Lang.

As the 2024 US election approaches, Lang says that Napalm will be focusing on potential “civil unrest” around the vote. “We have to make sure that we're prepared for any real-time scenarios, any eventualities,“ says Lang. “Civil unrest at any given moment, especially around an election time, is something that could come along, and so we have to plan for that contingency as well.”

Tensions around the November vote are already at an all-time high, and many Republicans refuse to say if they will peacefully accept the outcome of the November election. Over one-third of Americans now baselessly claim that President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 was illegitimate. These conspiracies have led to a resurgence in far-right activity, of which Napalm is just the latest facet: Lang, along with all other members of the group’s leadership council, ardently believes that the 2020 election was stolen from former president Donald Trump.

“We've noted considerable energy being put into resurrecting far-right paramilitary activism right now,” Devin Burghart, the executive director at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR), tells WIRED. “The growing talk of ‘Second Amendment remedies’ to unfavorable electoral outcomes is a serious cause for concern. Militia groups like Napalm promote political violence and sow the seeds for another potential insurrection.”

In addition to the election, Lang says that Napalm will respond to everything from natural disasters to Federal overreach, political protests, and potential Chinese invasions.

“I thought it was necessary to get organized in case these encroachments, these violations of our civil liberties, our natural rights were to escalate to a point where it'd absolutely be untenable and that we would need to defend ourselves.” Lang tells WIRED from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where he is awaiting a trial set for September. “There is a tyrannical wave that has hit America that we've never seen before. And so it's time that people get organized in case they escalate to something that basically puts our very lives in danger.”

Lang, 29, is from upstate New York. He claims to have been an ecommerce entrepreneur and nightclub promoter before getting sober and finding God in late 2020. At the same time, Lang was getting deeper into “truther content” online that claimed Marxists and Communists were ruining the country. This content overlapped with election-denial conspiracies that led to the Capitol riot and inspired Lang to travel to DC.

Days after January 6, Lang was recruiting people into an armed militia on Telegram that would ostensibly fight against the incoming regime of President Biden.

“It was the first battle of the Second American Revolution—make no mistakes,” Lang wrote about the Capitol riot, according to a tranche of thousands of messages obtained by ProPublica. “This is WAR.”

That effort ended days later when Lang was arrested and charged with multiple counts of assaulting law enforcement officers, as well as felony charges of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding—some of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

After he was arrested, Lang became a figurehead for January 6 prisoners who have been falsely portrayed as “hostages” or “warriors” by Trump and his supporters. While in prison, Lang has published a book, helped produce several films, hosted his own podcast, and raised millions of dollars for inmates and their families—all related to the January 6 attack.

“It's important to recognize that Lang is, first and foremost, a grifter who knows that his ‘political prisoner’ schtick is his only shot at relevance,” says Jon Lewis, a research fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. “This is someone who has intentionally delayed his own trial date in an effort to remain in the spotlight and who continues to promote violent conspiracies.”

And though Lang’s original attempt at starting a militia on Telegram ended with just a few hundred followers and his arrest, he says that he has spent the past year creating Napalm from his cell with the help of far-right figures from around the country.

Among those who Lang has convinced to join his initiative is QAnon promoter Ann Vandersteel, who is the groups’ national vice chairman. Former New Mexico county commissioner Couy Griffin, who is known as the leader of Cowboys for Trump, is also on the council. In 2022, Griffin refused to certify the results of a primary election vote.

Stew Peters, who will act as the militia’s national communications director, is a Florida-based antisemitic podcaster who shot to prominence in recent years by pushing Covid conspiracies, including a wild claim that Covid vaccines were derived from snake venom. The claim was so outlandish that even other conspiracy theorists dismissed his claims as “trash.” Peters has also pushed QAnon conspiracies and white supremacist content and even called for the death sentence for the “traitors” that he claimed have stolen the elections.

When the site launched last week, which was first reported by Media Matters, one of those listed as a member of the council was Richard Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. When contacted by WIRED, however, Mack said he was not affiliated with the group: “Many groups contact me weekly to work together, but in order for that to happen they must join our mission and philosophy of nonviolence.”

Lang told WIRED that a member of his team had been speaking to Mack about his role with the group, and it was likely just a miscommunication. Hours later, however, Mack’s picture was removed from the website.

Guns appear to be a central aspect of all actions taken by the Napalm militias, even when responding to incidents like hurricanes, wildfires, or earthquakes. “Even in a natural disaster, people that are in desperate scenarios may do desperate things,” Lang said. “And I believe that open carry and carrying a firearm on your body is a natural right of all men, and it's not something to be shied away from.”

While Lang said non-gun-owners would be welcome to join the group: “They would still be trained, and they would definitely be supported in their eventual path to gun ownership.”

Though Lang says all militia activity to date has occurred online, Napalm plans to get into the real world soon. “We will have casual outings at local firing ranges for downrange training, different exercises on what to do if the power goes out, if the internet is shut down, if the water lines are contaminated, [and] wilderness survival training,” says Lang.

All new members have to go through a vetting process, which consists of a five-minute video call designed to weed out potential infiltration from law enforcement.

Once vetting has been completed, members are then placed in a private county-level chat group where they can communicate with other members of the militia. Neither WIRED nor the researchers we spoke to were able to gain access to the private chats.

In the past, a county-level militia cell structure has made it harder for law enforcement to infiltrate extremist groups.

Lang says the vetting process has been established in part as a response to what happened to militia groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys in the wake of January 6. “They had these public group chats, and people said inflammatory things on there, and so we don't have those,” Lang said.

Though Lang claims that the group has signed up over 20,000 members, some experts don’t believe him.

“The best we can tell is that the numbers that the group is claiming are grossly misleading,” Jared Holt, senior researcher of US hate and extremist movements at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, tells WIRED. “This is an aspirational project. It doesn't reflect any sort of organizing infrastructure that's actively been built. It is being promoted by a group of political hucksters and shock jocks. And I wouldn't be surprised if would-be joiners of these groups come to learn that there is some kind of membership fee, some sort of financial component involved here.”

Burghart and his colleagues at IREHR also reviewed the 50 state-level Telegram channels and found a total of just over 14,000 members. However, Burghart also says that he believes that this figure is “significantly artificially inflated, with real membership closer to 2,500.”

Lang did not respond to questions about whether the Telegram channels membership numbers were artificially inflated.

But even with inflated membership numbers and lack of real-world coordination so far, experts still believe attention needs to be paid to groups like Napalm.

“The promotion of this kind of rhetoric and just mobilizing people around this idea could have reverberating effects,” says Holt. “It certainly heightens the tension of the political environment. It could certainly drive individuals who are maybe suffering some sort of crisis into thinking about more violent action or taking more extreme measures in their anti-government worldviews. And even if one of these states materializes into something with a dozen people in it, that could still cause a real problem.”

The f*ck? Why is he allowed access to encrypted communications channels from prison?

hbi2k wrote:

The f*ck? Why is he allowed access to encrypted communications channels from prison?

Something something first amendment?

Jonman wrote:
hbi2k wrote:

The f*ck? Why is he allowed access to encrypted communications channels from prison?

Something something first amendment?

Aka, the suicide pact of the constitution.

Mixolyde wrote:
Jonman wrote:
hbi2k wrote:

The f*ck? Why is he allowed access to encrypted communications channels from prison?

Something something first amendment?

Aka, the suicide pact of the constitution.

Given the rate of self-inflicted death by firearm in this country, I'm pretty sure that's the Second.

"Ineffable wisdom of the framers", my arse.

Jonman wrote:
hbi2k wrote:

The f*ck? Why is he allowed access to encrypted communications channels from prison?

Something something first amendment?

Doesn't apply to the incarcerated

Jonman wrote:
Mixolyde wrote:
Jonman wrote:
hbi2k wrote:

The f*ck? Why is he allowed access to encrypted communications channels from prison?

Something something first amendment?

Aka, the suicide pact of the constitution.

Given the rate of self-inflicted death by firearm in this country, I'm pretty sure that's the Second.

"Ineffable wisdom of the framers", my arse.

Yeah, that's bad. But it's barely a dent compared to full on Fascism ushered in by tolerance of intolerance and unlimited spending in politics.

There was a short lived book ban in a local council in Sydney. Two religious nutters pushed a narrow majority banning LGBTQ content when quite a few of the councillors were absent.

Then the State Government pointed out the Libraries Act here imposes a non discrimination requirement to State funding... unsurprisingly within a week a new resolution was passed to overturn the book ban.

Honestly the book ban / burning crap goes back to the days of the great Alexandrian library and Qin Shi Huang purging knowledge. I thought humanity would be past that level of stupidity but the American resurgence in censorship is seemingly infectious.

Trump’s splashy campaign promises have an odd common thread

Trump’s breezy willingness to reverse himself was a problem for Democrats in 2016. Polls found that voters saw him as more moderate than Hillary Clinton; he could hit her from the right on abortion and immigration, from the left on trade and criminal justice reform, and from the center on gay rights.

That wasn’t the case in 2020, when Democrats ran against specific, unpopular Trump agenda items — an unsuccessful push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the passage of polarizing tax cuts.

This cycle has been more of a muddle, shaped by nostalgia for pre-COVID prices and interest rates, and blurred memories of what happened when. A poll conducted for Politico last month found 37% of voters crediting Trump with new infrastructure investments, compared to 40% who credited President Joe Biden, even though the investments famously didn’t happen under Trump.

lol

In addition, lmao

Wow. Just wow.

I have an idea. Let’s have a real president and a fake president. The real one does all the running of the executive branch, constitutional duties, and head of state stuff, while the fake one gets to rule over all the people who don’t understand what reality is.