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Trump speaks at NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas

Entirely Inedible: On Glitches and Losses and Lies

Apologies for re-visiting GOP lowlifes and their yammering Mad Emperor, but damn things are getting weird out there. Having ended his trial not with a bang but a craven whine - so much for "absolutely" testifying: "I tell the truth" - Trump gave a daft, dark speech at the NRA convention, calling Biden "a Manchurian candidate," vowing to roll back all gun control, pondering a third term and slamming the country as a “cesspool of ruin." Then a long glitch turned him bizarrely silent. It was blissful.

In brief: To the cretins of a sick, corrupt, fast-diminishing NRA gathered in Dallas to endorse him, the tinpot babbled and spewed his usual ugly gibberish. Biden is "a threat to democracy" who'd get the electric chair if a Republican, he's fighting "hateful communists and criminals," Alvin Bragg is "Soros-backed," not even Lincoln did more for "the black individual in this country than Donald J. Trump," he won 31 golf championships or 29, he's just like his friggin' "genius" uncle at MIT, he's "a better physical specimen" than Obama, he's started an imaginary "Gun Owners For Trump" to stop "the violent migrant crime wave (Biden) has unleashed on our country" though violent crime has fallen sharply, and gun owners, of which he's clearly not one, are "under seesh, we're under seesh but they didn't move us an inch" so on Day One "we'll roll back every gun control measure."

Then came what was widely billed a McConnell-like, 35-second "freeze" but in fact more resembled a system glitch - in his brain, his reading of the room or the teleprompter. He was in the middle of his 6th-grade report - "The Texas spirit of proud independence was forged by cowboys and cattle hands, ranchers and rangers...Many came here with nothing but the boots on their feet, the clothes on their back, the gun in their saddle. Together they helped make America into the single greatest nation in the history of the world" - when he fell silent. For a long time. So did the room. He shook his head, furrowed his brow, stared. An ad popped up for a gold IRA: "Text TRUMP." Finally, QAnon/Nazi music swelled and he came back to awful life: "But now, we are a nation in declined. We are a failing nation." Cue inflation, collapsing banks, drugs, crime, dirty airports, other "horror" by "these tyrants and villains."

When news came of his "Milli Vanilli-type" malfunction, he shrieked, "Donald Trump doesn’t freeze!" He cited a "record crowd of very enthusiastic patriots" and a standard pause before "the musical interlude" and besides Biden "freezes all the time," also he didn't fall when his podium once almost tipped over and he can drink a glass of water! Observers noted it was like "Amateur City for a live performance": At his rallies there's "cheering MAGA morons," this time "just the abyss" of a dark room and NRA stage, like a sit-com before they add the laugh track. His team miscalculated, the crowd missed their cue, he has a memorized shtick he's too dumb to tweak, and he couldn't understand why nobody was cheering. Besides, one summarized, "Never, ever trust anything when it comes to Trump. His very existence is a criminal fraud, foully perpetrated to the detriment of the universe."

Donald Trump Rejects Claims He 'Froze' During Rallywww.youtube.com

Meanwhile, the universe is diminished by each of his repulsive followers in the news. "Sam Alito is a fascist insurrectionist," notes Noah Berlatsky in a piece subtitled, "Stop with the appeasement, you quisling motherfuckers." "He displayed a symbol of support for fascist insurrection shortly after an attempted fascist insurrection. The obvious conclusion would be that (Alito) supports fascist insurrection. He told us who he is. We should believe him." Ditto Rudy Giuliani, now cringingly hawking coffee to pay his legal bills, and Greg Abbott, who with no legal or moral justification pardoned Daniel Perry, serving 25 years for murdering a BLM protester - a pardon, writes Will Bunch, proving the law only applies if an undemocratic few in power say it does, and "a gross injustice in a former Confederate state that (reeks) of the bad old days (when) white men lynched Emmett Till and laughed at justice."

Thus, the "inverted reality" embraced by VP-hopefuls dutifully echoing the Big Lie. "Once one of the two major governing parties no longer believes elections are binding," notes Rachel Maddow, "in many important ways, the democracy ship has sailed." Along with Christina 'Election Integrity' Bobb's creepy mugshot, we have Marco Rubio, the latest to fudge on accepting election results, arguing it's Democrats who questionGOP wins (and pay people $10 to vote). He also says Dems are the extremists on abortion and he supports protecting "all unborn human life," though when it comes to the lives of what he claims are up to 30 million migrants - "We don't even know who these people are" - the son of immigrants says, "This is not immigration...This is an invasion of the country." Add another sad bootlicker inexplicably in thrall to the guy who praises "the late, great Hannibal Lecter," though it turns out it's not reciprocal.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter DECLINES Trump's V.P. Offerwww.youtube.com

And that guy just keeps losing. New earnings filings show Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social, reported a net loss of $327.6 million, with revenue of just $770,500, in its first fiscal quarter since debuting as a public company on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Also, his campaign to get back the job he so disastrously failed to do isn't doing well in the Saying the Quiet Part Aloud Dept. After eloquently suggesting he might limit access to contraception - "We're looking at that, and I'm going to have a policy on that very shortly...You will find it, I think, very smart" - he abruptly backtracked - "Things really do have a lot to do with the states, and some states are gonna have different policies" - almost like he has no idea what he's talking about. Same with a slipshod video he posted to celebrate his upcoming victory, that touted "A UNIFIED REICH," which quickly went missing.

And there's his trial, nearing its ignoble end. Despite 10 contempt findings, he isn't in jail, but not much else went well. His D-list, red-tie, Hell's Angels! posse - "circling (him) like the cold fragments of a destroyed planet" - was widely mocked, witnesses gave damning testimony, after insisting he'd testify he chickened out, and after claiming MAGA warriors would storm the barricades if he was prosecuted, nobody came. So he made them up: "Thousands of people were turned away, it is an armed camp to keep people away, it looks like Fort Knox." This is complete and utter bullshit," said one observer. Others: "There is virtually complete freedom of movement around the courthouse," "Nothing is happening," "There is a mouse pissing on a ball of cotton in China - that’s how quiet it is out here." Later, he bleated Judge Merchan should dismiss the case: "The right thing to do is to END THIS SCAM NOW AND FOREVERMORE." Yes. Please.

five people in a small boat in a flooded city

'Wake-Up Call for the World': Millions Impacted by Extreme Floods in Brazil

Experts emphasized the escalating risks of climate-related disasters and their disproportionate impacts on low-income people on Monday following flooding in Brazil that has killed at least 150 people and displaced more than 600,000.

The floods that hit over recent days and weeks have knocked out bridges and the main airport in Porto Alegre, a port city in southern Brazil. More than 460 of the 497 municipalities in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sol have been affected, with more than 2 million people impacted, according to provisional government data.

"The situation is catastrophic," said Rachel Soeiro, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical coordinator in Brazil, who visited the area by helicopter. "We were able to view the towns from above and noticed that in some cases we couldn't even see the roofs of houses.”

More than two feet of rain has fallen so far this month, according Brazil's national weather service, inundating large areas.

"Whole towns and large, urban city centers are in some cases almost completely underwater," the BBCreported on Saturday.

Experts connected the extreme rainfall to climate change, which increases the likelihood of such weather events. Incidents of extreme flooding have increased "sharply" across the planet in the last two decades, according to a study in Nature Water released last year.

"In many ways, this is not a disaster of Brazil’s making. The whole planet is experiencing increasingly rapid climate changes due largely to the greenhouse gases produced by a handful of wealthy nations," Cristiane Fontes (Krika), executive director of World Resources Institute (WRI) Brasil, wrote in a commentary earlier this month in which she called the situation a "wake-up call for the world."

In recent weeks, flooding has also hit China, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia, and WRI's staff in Kenya are dealing with dam breaches from heavy rains, Fontes noted.

A Brazilian expert indicated that the flooding, catastrophic as it has been, should not come as a surprise.

"People on the streets here in Brazil, they've attributed this change to global climate change driven by the increase of fossil fuels," Paulo Artaxo, a physics professor at the University of Sao Paulo, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He explained that was in line with IPCC projections showing that southern Brazil would face more extreme rainfall due to tropical and polar currents.

In Brazil, as elsewhere, climate impacts are not evenly distributed. MSF relief efforts are focused on the most vulnerable, including Indigenous communities, one of which had been isolated by rising waters and without help for 10 days before being reached by the humanitarian group.

"Assisting those who are most vulnerable is one of our main concerns in such situations," Soeiro said. "These people were already facing difficult situations before the flooding. But their needs have risen further and access to them has become more difficult."

Some wealthy people in Porto Alegre have choices such as escaping to a second home, but in "rundown towns" on the city's periphery, low-income people have no such options, according to CNN.

Brazilian left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has pledged to provide relief money to families that lost their homes. Brazil is one of most unequal countries in the world, according to World Bank data.

Jim Cramer

FTC Chair Lina Khan Should Take Jim Cramer's 'Unhinged' Obsession as 'Badge of Honor'

The American Economic Liberties Project on Monday called outCNBC's Jim Cramer for at least dozens of "hostile" televised attacks on Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and her "historic pro-working families record."

The left-leaning group has been compiling Cramer's "most egregious on-air outbursts" over Khan since early last year and its tracker now features more than 30 clips from "Mad Money" and "Squawk on the Street."

When President Joe Biden nominated Khan to lead the FTC in 2021, she was an associate professor of law at Columbia Law School who had previously worked for the Open Markets Institute, the office of former Commissioner Rohit Chopra, and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.

As the clips collected by the project show, Cramer has described Khan as an "empty suit," "stupid," and a "total hack." The ex-hedge fund manager has also compared the agency leader's views to those of Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, and Don Quixote.

Cramer has called out specific FTC actions under Khan—repeatedly blasting a lawsuit against Amazon, a company founded by one of the richest persons on the planet—and broadly accused the "rogue" agency of "torturing all the companies that America likes."

When one of Cramer's colleagues pointed out last October that he has taken "every opportunity to just come back to Khan," he responded, "No, I've missed opportunities and I regret that."

The tracker page states that "if Cramer was accurately reporting what the FTC is doing, he would see that Chair Khan is pursuing a pro-business, pro-innovation, and pro-worker agenda. And he is capable of it: he did, for example, proclaim the FTC's case against Kroger-Albertsons to be strong."

Noting Cramer's praise for Jonathan Kanter, an assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice whom the host has called a "heavyweight" and "rigorous thinker," the page adds that "he is so blinded by his obsession of Chair Khan that he sometimes even rails against her for suits brought by the DOJ and forgets to give the Antitrust Division credit for its work."

American Economic Liberties Project spokesperson Jimmy Wyderko said in a statement Monday that "Jim Cramer's anger over the FTC's enforcement record has turned into a full-blown obsession, launching nearly weekly barbs at Chair Khan with the zeal of a carnival barker defending his turf."

"This has manifested on national cable news through a series of unhinged, incoherent, and often inaccurate rants from Jim Cramer attacking the FTC for standing up to big corporations and delivering kitchen table wins to working families," he continued.

"Given Jim Cramer's role as mouthpiece and cheerleader for monopolists across the economy, Chair Khan should consider his harassment a badge of honor," Wyderko added. "We hope to see Jim Cramer get over his fixation syndrome, which is evidently even starting to frustrate his colleagues, as soon as he is able."

A half-robot, half-human is shown in front of the American flag.

'Crucial': FCC Proposes Forcing Disclosure of AI Use in Political Ads

Amid the U.S. political primary season and mounting fears of how artificial intelligence can be abused to influence elections, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to force the disclosure of AI use in campaign advertising.

"As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used," said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement. "Today, I've shared with my colleagues a proposal that makes clear consumers have a right to know when AI tools are being used in the political ads they see, and I hope they swiftly act on this issue."

Rosenworcel's office explained that the proposal aims to increase transparency by:

  • Seeking comment on whether to require an on-air disclosure and written disclosure in broadcasters' political files when there is AI-generated content in political ads;
  • Proposing to apply the disclosure rules to both candidate and issue advertisements;
  • Requesting comment on a specific definition of AI-generated content; and
  • Proposing to apply the disclosure requirements to broadcasters and entities that engage in origination programming, including cable operators, satellite TV and radio providers, and section 325(c) permittees.

The FCC earlier this year took action regarding AI use in robocalls—following a recording that mimicked U.S. President Joe Biden's voice just before the New Hampshire primary—but the agency lacks the authority to regulate internet or social media ads.

While Rosenworcel's Wednesday announcement is just a step toward new restrictions, it was lauded by advocacy groups.

"Americans expect and deserve to know whether the content they see on our public airwaves is real or AI-generated content—especially as the technology is increasingly being used to mislead voters," said Ishan Mehta, Common Cause's Media and Democracy Program director, in a statement. "This rulemaking is welcome news as the use of deceptive AI and deepfakes threaten our democracy and is already being used to erode trust in our institutions and our elections."

"We have seen the impact of AI in politics in the form of primary ads using AI voices and images, and in robocalls during the primary in New Hampshire," he continued, commending the commission and its chair. "It is imperative that regulations around political advertising keep pace with the onward march of new and evolving technologies."

Congress and the Federal Election Commission should "follow the FCC's lead and take proactive steps to protect our democracy from very serious threats posed by AI," Mehta argued, noting Common Cause's comments calling on the FEC "to amend its regulation on 'fraudulent misrepresentation' to include 'deliberately false artificial intelligence-generated content in campaign ads or other communications.'"

"The FCC is modeling how federal regulators should be proactively addressing the threats that deepfakes and artificial intelligence pose to election integrity."

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, similarly thanked the FCC for its step and called on others to do more.

"With deepfake technology fast evolving, the 2024 election is virtually certain to see a wave of political deepfakes that confuse and defraud voters, swing elections, and sow chaos if governmental authorities fail to act. That's why the FCC action is so important," he said. "As the proposal is honed and finalized, the FCC should require advertisers to disclose the use of AI in the ads themselves, not just require a note to files maintained by broadcasters.

"Prominent, real-time disclosure is the essential standard to protect voters from being deceived and defrauded," Weissman asserted. "The FCC action is especially crucial because absent a new rule from the FCC, broadcasters believe under existing law they are unable to refuse political ads or demand alterations or disclosures."

He also said that "the FCC is modeling how federal regulators should be proactively addressing the threats that deepfakes and artificial intelligence pose to election integrity. We need the Federal Election Commission—and Congress—to follow the FCC's lead and take aggressive, proactive action. No one wins with deepfake chaos, and we don't need to sit back and let it happen."

The FEC chair said in January that the agency was expected to act on AI rules by early summer. Critics including Weissman suggested that was far too slow. The Public Citizen leader said at the time that "the FEC's slow-walking of the political deepfake issue threatens our democracy."

Activists deliver boxes full of signatures supporting a Nevada abortion rights constitutional amendment

Nevada Coalition Submits 200K+ Signatures for Abortion Rights Ballot Measure

An amendment to enshrine abortion rights in Nevada's Constitution moved one step closer to appearing on this November's ballot Monday as reproductive rights defenders submitted nearly twice the number of required signatures to state election officials.

Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, the coalition spearheading the ballot measure, said it submitted more than 200,000 signatures from every county in the state—where abortion is legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy—supporting the Nevada Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment. Proposed 2024 Nevada ballot questions need 102,362 verified signatures to qualify; campaigners generally aim to collect double the required number of signatures, as many are disqualified for various reasons.

"This is a true testament to the volunteers, supporters, and coalition partners who recognize the importance of codifying abortion rights into our state constitution," Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom said on social media. "We're officially one step closer."

"The number of signatures gathered in just over three months shows how deeply Nevadans believe in abortion rights and its importance to this moment in our nation's history."

Speaking to supporters outside the Clark County Courthouse in Las Vegas on Monday, Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom president Lindsey Harmon said that "the majority of Nevadans agree that the government should stay out of their personal and private decisions... about our bodies, our lives, and our futures."

"The number of signatures gathered in just over three months shows how deeply Nevadans believe in abortion rights and its importance to this moment in our nation's history," Harmon added.

Nevada constitutional amendments must be approved by voters twice. If the proposed abortion rights amendment qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters this November, it will appear again on the 2026 statewide ballot.

Last November, Carson City District Court Judge James Russell sided with right-wing advocacy groups who argued that the proposed amendment violates Nevada law by covering more than one subject. After Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom subsequently narrowed the proposal's focus, Russell ruled the coalition could proceed with signature gathering. In April, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the proposed ballot measure's original language.

Four states—Florida, Kansas, Maryland, and New York—have abortion rights measures on November's ballot, while Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and Nevada have proposed such initiatives.

Since the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court voided half a century of federal abortion rights nearly two years ago in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, seven states have let voters weigh in on the issue. People in all seven states—including conservative Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana—have voted to either protect and expand abortion rights or defeat measures seeking to restrict access to the procedure.

Meanwhile, 14 states have enacted total abortion bans, while 27 have legislated restrictions on the procedure based on duration of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Israeli troops control a large group of Palestinian woman at gunpoint

Experts Say Israeli Apartheid—Not Palestinian Statehood—Is the Real 'Gift to Hamas'

As Israel and its international supporters seethe over Wednesday's announcement that three European countries will recognize Palestinian statehood, Palestine advocates refuted claims that such recognition is a "gift to Hamas" by arguing Israel's slaughter in Gaza, settler-colonization of the West Bank, and apartheid and other oppression in the illegally occupied territories are a recruitment boon for the militant resistance group.

In a joint statement, Ireland, Norway, and Spain said they will formally recognize the state of Palestine on May 28, which will bring the total number of nations that have done so to 145. Almost all of the Global South recognizes Palestine, while just a relative handful of so-called developed nations do—including Sweden, Iceland, and most of Eastern Europe. The United States has actively discouraged countries from recognizing Palestinian statehood and United Nations membership.

"Hamas feeds off of Palestinian hopelessness. Israel's denial of Palestinian rights has functioned as a Hamas recruitment program."

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz responded to Wednesday's announcement by threatening "severe consequences" for the three countries. Katz—a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party—called recognition of Palestine "an injustice to the memory of the victims of October 7, a blow to efforts to return the 128 hostages, and a boost to Hamas and Iran's jihadists."

The claim that recognition is a "reward" or "gift" to Hamas—whose fighters led the attack on Israel that left more than 1,100 people dead and over 240 others in captivity—reverberated from social media to the halls of the U.S. Congress in the wake of the three countries' announcement. However, some experts weighed in on the policies and practices that they believe are driving young Palestinians to embrace violent resistance.

"Those claiming this 'rewards Hamas' have it exactly backward," said Matt Duss, executive vice president of the Center for International Policy and former chief foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.). "Hamas feeds off of Palestinian hopelessness. Israel's denial of Palestinian rights has functioned as a Hamas recruitment program. Diplomatic recognition offers a credible alternative nonviolent path to liberation."

U.S. political commentator Krystal Ball said on social media that "those saying Palestinian statehood is a 'gift to Hamas,' please take note that what has actually bolstered Hamas is Israel's genocidal slaughter which has allowed Hamas to recruit thousands of new members."

Israel also actively propped up Hamas for years, viewing it as a means of countering and weakening the largely toothless Palestinian National Authority and its leader, President Mahmoud Abbas. The New York Timesreported in December that Israeli security forces helped Qatari officials deliver suitcases stuffed full of millions of dollars in cash to Hamas,which has governed Gaza for nearly two decades and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S.

According to the Times, Israel allowed billions of dollars to flow from the Qatari government into Hamas' coffers, to be spent on government salaries, infrastructure, and humanitarian endeavors. This allowed Hamas to divert funds previously budgeted for those purposes into armed resistance. The payments continued as late as 2021.

Israeli leaders and their U.S. backers similarly claimed that any cease-fire in Gaza would be a "gift to Hamas" that would allow it to regroup and rearm. As the human toll of Israel's assault—more than 126,000 Palestinians killed, maimed, or missing; nearly 2 million forcibly displaced Gazans; widespread starvation; and lifelong trauma—mount, so too do motivations for Palestinians to join Hamas and other militant groups.

"Killing terrorists too often breeds more terrorism. This is an inescapable lesson of both America's decadeslong 'War on Terror' and Israel's ceaseless struggle against Hamas, Hezbollah, and other violent insurgencies," Matthew Levinger, a professor of international relations at George Washington University, wrote earlier this year for Just Security.

So does killing civilians. As U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has acknowledged: "In this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat."