Category Archives: Agni ad Bellum/ The Lamb’s War

YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

Raleigh NC News & Observer
BY ILANA AROUGHETI UPDATED AUGUST 07, 2022

DURHAM The line of cars stretched three blocks as Durham County’s second gun buyback in four months began Saturday morning. The event’s purpose was to encourage responsible gun ownership and get guns off the street, said Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead.

Durham’s first buyback event was held in April. Then, the department netted just over 100 firearms before running out of money, The N&O has reported.

After the first event, community interest increased, Birkhead told The N&O. “People, even after the first buyback, continued to call us and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got guns that belonged to my grandfather, he’s now passed away,’” Birkhead said. “Or, ‘We don’t want guns in the house. We have small kids now. When are you going to do another one?’”

Like the first time, the event was held at two locations — Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and Durham Memorial Stadium. Between the two locations, 295 guns were turned in before the department ran out of money, communications manager David L. Bowser told The N&O. Continue reading YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

Shining Light on the New Church of Rightwing Dark Money

ProPublica: A Right-Wing Think Tank Claimed to Be a Church. Now, Members of Congress Want to Investigate

Andrea Suizzo — August 2, 2022

Forty members of Congress on Monday asked the IRS and the Treasury to investigate what the lawmakers termed an “alarming pattern” of right-wing advocacy groups registering with the tax agency as churches, a move that allows the organizations to shield themselves from some financial reporting requirements and makes it easier to avoid audits.

Reps. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., and Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., raised transparency concerns in a letter to the heads of both agencies following a ProPublica story about the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank based in Washington, D.C., getting reclassified as a church. Thirty-eight other lawmakers, including Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., signed onto the letter.

“FRC is one example of an alarming pattern in the last decade — right-wing advocacy groups self-identifying as ‘churches’ and applying for and receiving church status,” the representatives wrote, noting the organization’s policy work supporting the overturning of Roe v. Wade and its advocacy for legislation seeking to ban gender-affirming surgery.

“Tax-exempt organizations should not be exploiting tax laws applicable to churches to avoid public accountability and the IRS’s examination of their activities,” they wrote.

The Family Research Council did not respond to requests for comment. The IRS told ProPublica that it does not comment on congressional correspondence.

The FRC’s website describes the organization as “a nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to articulating and advancing a family-centered philosophy of public life,” noting that it provides “policy research and analysis for the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government.” Continue reading Shining Light on the New Church of Rightwing Dark Money

Seven Years for Russian War Protester

The Guardian: Alexei Gorinov receives first long-term sentence under harsh laws introduced since Russian invasion

Pjotr Sauer — Fri 8 Jul 2022

A court in Moscow has sentenced an opposition councillor to seven years in jail for criticising Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, the first long-term prison sentence handed out under the new laws that restrict criticism of the war.

Alexei Gorinov, a deputy at Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and trained lawyer, was arrested in April on charges of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian army.

According to the authorities, Gorinov committed the offence when he and a fellow opposition deputy, Elena Kotenochkina, spoke out against the council’s proposal to hold a children’s drawing contest and a dancing festival despite the war in Ukraine, where Gorinov said “children were dying”.

“I believe all efforts of [Russian] civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Gorinov said during the work meeting, which was recorded on video and is available on YouTube.

The charges against Gorinov fall under a series of new laws that have been introduced since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Gorinov’s long sentence will be perceived as harsh even in the current political climate in Russia, where authorities have embarked on an unprecedented crackdown on civil society and opposition since the invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February.

Human rights groups will worry that Gorinov’s case will be the first in a string of rulings against anti-war figures who are awaiting trial.

At least 50 people face long-term prison sentences or steep fines for “knowingly spreading false information” about the military, while about 2,000 people have received smaller fines for criticising the war, according to a human rights group that tracks cases nationwide.

Throughout the hearings, Gorinov continued his staunch opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During his sentencing on Friday, he held a sign that read “Do you still need this war?” while in his glass defendant’s cage.

“War, whatever synonym you call it, is the last, dirtiest, vile thing, unworthy of the title of a man,” Gorinov said. “I thought that Russia exhausted its limit on wars back in the 20th century. However, our present is Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel. [Scenes of reputed Russian war crimes.] Do these names mean something to you? You – the accusers – take an interest and do not say later that you did not know anything,” he added, referring to the three cities outside Kyiv where Russian troops are accused of committing war crimes.

Among those awaiting trial for spreading “false information” about Russia’s military is the prominent opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza and the St Petersburg-based artist Alexandra Skochilenko, who is accused of replacing supermarket price labels with messages protesting against Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“Why We Did It” — A Review in Pieces – Part 1

Timothy Miller is a repentant ex-Republican operative, now a key member of “The Bulwark.” This is a group of mostly like-minded  onetime GOP operatives, now Never Trumpers, still “conservative” on many issues, but dead-seriously dedicated to preventing #45’s overthrow of democracy, and who may well have — at least I hope so— the brains & skills to do it.

Yet with a long record of putting his talents effectively to work for many who have become bigtime Trump loyalists and fascism accelerators, not to mention being a completely closeted hit man for many professional political  homophobes, Miller, as the saying goes, has a lot of explaining to do — first all, to himself.

Hence, Why We Did it, just published last week. Fittingly, it’s both a personal confessional, and an insider apparatchik’s look at the rise and reign of you-know who. This latter category is a crowded one at most bookstores, with new entries popping up every week or so.

Will Miller’s book stand out in this crowd? I don’t know yet. And — full disclosure — I haven’t read all or most of the similar output, and don’t plan to. Life is short.

But in 2020, deep in the gloom of the pandemic’s first autumn, I was captivated by one of the other major confessional tomes, Disloyal, by Trump’s longtime fixer, Michael Cohen. That experience produced a review, not only of the book but of its times, that filled several posts (which can be found here). Continue reading “Why We Did It” — A Review in Pieces – Part 1

Remember “The Stench”? More Comment & Dissent on Roe’s End

The formal dissent, jointly written by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sotomayor, minces few words but primarily adopts a tone of deep concern or even alarm about the implications of the majority’s ruling. Probably the harshest attack on the majority comes on Page 5, where the dissenters assert: Continue reading Remember “The Stench”? More Comment & Dissent on Roe’s End