Last night's debate? Going in, this was supposed to be make it or break it time for Doo-Doo Ron Ron DeSantis. If that's the case, his campaign should be over. He looked like the cowardly, sniveling rat he is. Jonathan Cohn (HUFFINGTON POST) notes:
He didn’t have much of an answer ― which in some ways is pretty surprising and in some other ways isn’t surprising at all.
More than 11% of the state’s residents have no health insurance, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Only in Georgia, Texas and Wyoming is a higher percentage of the population uninsured.
And there’s no great mystery why. Florida (like those other three) is among 10 holdout states that have refused to participate in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which would have made it available to everybody living below or just above the poverty line.
Advocates have long begged the Republicans in charge of Florida to drop their opposition to Medicaid expansion, which is rooted in in their antipathy toward the “welfare state” generally and Obamacare specifically. DeSantis, like his predecessor and other state GOP leaders, has refused.
That prompted Wednesday night’s question, which came from Fox News host Stuart Varney.
“Gov. DeSantis, 26 million Americans don’t have insurance coverage,” Varney said. “Two and a half million of them are in your state. That’s worse than the national average. Can Americans trust you on this?”
DeSantis should be plenty familiar with the subject, and not simply because it came up in his gubernatorial campaigns. As a U.S. House member in 2017, he had a chance to vote on repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He supported the repeal wholeheartedly, to the point that he actually voted against an early version because ― like some other more conservative Republicans ― he thought it didn’t go far enough in undoing the law’s regulations.
But on the debate stage Wednesday night, instead of explaining his position on Medicaid expansion or health care policy, DeSantis launched into a rambling argument about how inflation was driving up the cost of groceries and gas before finally offering a boilerplate line about attacking “Big Pharma, big insurance and big government” in order to have “more power for the people and the doctor-patient relationship.”
Varney, to his credit, tried one more time, asking, “Why is your record in Florida on insurance worse than the national average?”
But once again DeSantis said nothing about Medicaid or insurance, instead touting Florida as a “dynamic state.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has once again been slammed for his "creepy" smile and robot-like body movements at the second GOP Debate in Simi Valley, California.
The netizens had been keeping an eye out on DeSantis' every move since the last debate and have noticed him malfunction yet again on the stage.
A fifth said, "If Ron Desantis can get through this debate without looking creepy he might have a chance. The memes from the last debate were too funny. #republicandebate"
Another concluded, "I said this last time but Ron DeSantis has absolutely zero charisma. Absolutely insane that he diluted himself into thinking running for president was a good idea when he can't even be compelling for 60 seconds"
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Nineteen-year-old Ghaly Nassim was only a few metres away from the al-Haitham banquet hall when the fire broke out on Tuesday evening.
He rushed to help five of his friends who were trapped inside.
"One door was blocked, so we opened it by force. Massive flames came out of the hall. It was like Hell's doors opened," he said.
"The temperature was unbearable. I cannot describe the extreme heat."
At least 94 people were killed and 100 others were injured in the fire, which broke out during the first dance of the bride and groom. Civil defence officials told BBC News Arabic that the couple survived, though initial reports said they had perished.
Mr Nassim described the scenes as a "real tragedy".
"I could not do anything but run away from the fire," he said, sounding exhausted over the phone line.
"After the firefighters arrived, I rushed inside to look for my friends. I saw 26 dead bodies in the bathroom. A 12-year-old girl was completely burnt and left in a corner."
Known on social media as “Noor BM,” 23-year-old Noor Alsaffar had over 370,000 followers collectively on Instagram and TikTok. Alsaffar mostly posted short videos showing dresses, hair and makeup styles, often dancing to music. Following news of the shooting, many posted comments lamenting Alsaffar’s death. Some others cheered it, celebrating the man who fired the shot.
The Iraqi security source told CNN that “an investigation has been opened,” speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media. “The deceased has been taken to the forensic department.”
The killing comes as Iraq cracks down on LGBTQ expression and moves to criminalize it in law. While being queer is not explicitly banned under current Iraqi legislation, LGBTQ people are often targeted under vague morality clauses in its penal code.
Before the shooting, Alsaffar faced online abuse, as well as questions about sexuality and gender. In a 2020 interview on Iraq’s Al Walaa channel, Alsaffar said: “I’m not transgender and I’m not gay. I don’t have other tendencies, I’m only a cross-dresser and a model.” Alsaffar identified as male who worked as a model and makeup artist.
Moderator Ilia Calderón asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to address the descendants of enslaved people regarding his state’s new standards on how to teach Black history in schools.
Calderón: “Florida’s new Black history curriculum says, ‘slaves developed skills, which in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.’ You have said slaves developed skills in spite of slavery, not because of it. But many are still hurt. For descendants of slaves, this is personal. What is your message to them?”
DeSantis: “First of all, that’s a hoax that was perpetuated by Kamala Harris. We are not going to be doing that. Second of all, that was written by descendants of slaves, these are great Black history scholars, so we need to stop playing these games,” DeSantis said.
Facts First: DeSantis’ claim is false. Florida’s new standards for teaching Black history do include the clause that Calderón read out.
In July, the Florida Board of Education approved a new set of standards for how Black history should be taught in the state’s public schools. The standards for middle schoolers include a benchmark that says, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
When asked about the benchmark in July, DeSantis told CNN he “wasn’t involved.” Instead, just as he did in his response tonight, he deferred to those who wrote the education standards.
“You should talk to them about it. I didn’t do it. I wasn’t involved in it,” DeSantis said at the time.
Pressed further at the time, he said: “I think that they’re probably going to show some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into, into doing things later in life. But the reality is, all of that is rooted in whatever is factual. They listed everything out. And if you have any questions about it, just ask the Department of Education.”
DeSantis has argued that it is unfair to depict the standards as broadly pro-slavery, saying that they are clear and detailed about the evils of slavery.
The new standards have been criticized by civil rights advocates and Black lawmakers. Vice President Kamala Harris also criticized the new standards, saying in a speech in July “they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery.”
So, Gov. DeSantis, all within a few days, turns down $350 million in federal aid from the Inflation Reduction Act that would have supported environmental and green energy projects as well as provided rebates to Florida utility customers, at a time when DeSantis has done nothing to improve Florida’s energy efficiency efforts or helped Floridians with the increases in electric rate increases.
Add to this the fact that he refused to meet with President Biden when he visited the hurricane ravaged Big Bend area. Why? He doesn’t seem to see the need, even though the federal government’s FEMA program can and will benefit those hit hardest by this historic storm. Perhaps, DeSantis does not want to give any attention to a president who actually gets things done on his watch rather than restrict freedoms and protect donors, as is DeSantis’ custom.
We have to live with DeSantis folks, but America doesn’t, and America is wise to DeSantis’ autocratic notions, actions and pettiness…and its getting wiser every day. The shame? We will have to put up with him until 2026. Hey, better us than America at large.
The Republican-controlled House is presently barreling toward a government shutdown at the end of the month thanks to GOP lawmakers’ inability to agree on spending bills amongst themselves. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a 45-day stopgap bill that would, if passed by the House and signed by President Joe Biden, keep the government funded until mid-November. In the meantime, the House could try to hammer out twelve separate spending bills that would earn the backing of the Senate and the White House.
Elsewhere, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) succeeded in inserting an amendment that would also reduce Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly’s salary to $1.
“This delusional man thinking he is a woman, embodies and espouses the woke-ism that that’s causing significant harm to our military readiness and troops’ morale!” Boebert said on the floor about the defense official, who is transgender.
Hittner said drag shows were protected by the First Amendment.
“Indeed, First Amendment protection has been extended to all types of activities, even some that seem untasteful to society,” Hittner wrote in his opinion, citing a 2020 case concerning exotic dancers.
“Further, a survey of court decisions related to the issue of drag shows reveals little divergence from the opinion that drag performances are expressive content that is afforded First Amendment protection,” he wrote, referencing recent court decisions blocking drag bans passed in Tennessee, Florida and Montana.
Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader said he is backing President Joe Biden over any Republican or third-party candidate in the 2024 election because of the "two-party duopoly" presidential elections have become.
Nader, best known for running as a Green Party candidate in the 2000 presidential election, said in an interview with the Washington Post that he is "stuck with Biden" because of the perceived threat the GOP poses.
"We are stuck with Biden now," Nader said. "In a two-party duopoly, if one should be defeated ferociously, the logic is that the other one prevails."
The longtime activist also compared the choice between Democrats and Republicans as between "autocracy" and "fascism," arguing autocracy is the better of the two.
"I know the difference between fascism and autocracy, and I'll take autocracy any time," Nader said. "Fascism is what the GOP is the architecture of, and autocracy is what the Democrats are practitioners of. But autocracy leaves an opening. They don't suppress votes. They don't suppress free speech."
The Iraqi authorities must ensure truth, justice and reparations for the killing of hundreds and maiming of thousands by Iraqi security forces, Amnesty International said today ahead of the four-year anniversary of the nation-wide anti-government protests. As an immediate step, the authorities should reveal the fate and whereabouts of people forcibly disappeared during the protest movement that began in October 2019.
During the mass protests, known as the Tishreen [October] protests security forces including anti-riot police, counterterrorism forces and members of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a large network of militias legally considered part of the Iraqi Armed Forces, used lethal force against protesters and pursued a sinister campaign of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
“Since the Tishreen protests, successive Iraqi governments have reneged on their promises to ensure truth and justice for the state and militia violence inflicted on Iraqi protesters, activists, and lawyers and their families. The meagre number of prosecutions and investigations – which pale in comparison to the scale of the abuses – clearly demonstrate that the authorities are not interested in accountability,” said Razaw Salihy, Amnesty International’s Iraq Researcher.
“Justice for the Tishreen protests is long overdue. The Iraqi authorities must ensure independent and impartial investigations into crimes committed since 2019 against protesters, activists and their families, publish the findings and hold those suspected of criminal responsibility accountable in fair trials that meet international standards. They must also protect families demanding justice from reprisals”.
Reprisals to silence calls for justice
While some families have continued to insist on calling for accountability and pursuing investigations left dormant, reprisals for speaking out have deterred other families from continuing their pursuit of justice.
In one stark case, the father of a human rights lawyer who was forcibly disappeared in October 2019 was killed in March of 2021 after campaigning for answers about his son’s whereabouts. Amnesty International had warned of threats to the family’s safety in November 2020 and called on the Iraqi authorities to ensure their protection.
The family of Sajjad al-Iraqi, another prominent activist who was forcibly disappeared in September 2020 in Nasiriya, has also been subjected to numerous threats by people believed to be linked to the abductors and to the PMU. These individuals have on several occasions called the family or come to their home to pressure them to drop their court case related to Sajjad al-Iraqi’s disappearance. Sajjad al-Iraqi’s activism focused on corruption issues.
No meaningful accountability
Very few prosecutions of members of security forces or affiliated militias have taken place for their role in violence against protesters and activists.
The meagre number of prosecutions and investigations – which pale in comparison to the scale of the abuses – clearly demonstrate that the authorities are not interested in accountability.Razaw Salihy, Amnesty International
In a report released in June 2022, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) was only able to identify the conviction of four “unidentified armed elements” since May 2021 and of six members of the security forces for targeted shootings, killings, and abductions. The report added: “UNAMI/OHCHR was unable to identify any other cases that progressed beyond the investigative stage during the reporting period.”
A family member told Amnesty International that they met with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani nine months ago and that he promised to follow up on Sajjad al-Iraqi’s case. On 22 March 2023, the Thi Qar Criminal Court convicted two individuals in absentia for kidnapping Sajjad al-Iraqi.
However, Sajjad al-Iraqi’s whereabouts remain unknown, and no arrests have yet been made in his case. A relative told Amnesty International: “There is no interest in Sajjad’s case. It is just false promises and reassurances. It is just ink on paper.”
Lack of transparency
Since 2019, successive Iraqi governments have formed numerous committees to investigate violations committed in the context of the protests at the national and governorate level, but these committees have failed to deliver on truth or justice.
The most notable was the ‘Fact-Finding Committee’, established by Executive Order 293 issued by then-Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on 18 October 2020 with the goal of gathering evidence, publishing a comprehensive report, and identifying those responsible for the crimes committed. Under the decree, the Committee has the right to refer cases to the judiciary, however there has been no transparency as to whether this has occurred.
In a letter from Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani’s Office to Amnesty International on 2 April 2023, the Office said that “the Prime Minister ordered in November 2022 the activation of the work of the [Fact-Finding] committee and outreach to representatives from the demonstrators”. The Prime Minister’s Office outlined measures the Fact-Finding Committee had taken, including having looked into “more than 215 cases obtained from the Rusafa Central Investigative Court and reviewed more than 5,375 official documents that included medical reports, victim autopsy forms and reports of forensic experts, and the committee continues to examine documents received from courts of appeal”.
The Prime Minister’s Office also confirmed that reparations had been paid to the families of those killed, amounting to ten million Iraqi dinars for each victim.
However, reparations are not a substitute for establishing the truth or bringing perpetrators to justice, and nearly three years after it was first formed, the Fact-Finding Committee has yet to publish any findings.
Enforced disappearance is currently not a crime under Iraqi law and therefore cannot be prosecuted as a distinct offence. On 6 August 2023, the Iraqi Council of Ministers a draft “Missing Persons Law” and sent it to Parliament. The draft’s stated aim is to help relatives of the missing learn their fate and be given access to reparations, including by setting up a national commission for the missing. Yet, this draft law does not criminalize enforced disappearance or outline penalties for perpetrators.