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Ronald DeSantis had just turned 30 when the up-and-coming prosecutor sent a Mayport Navy sailor to prison for six years on child pornography charges. DeSantis’ signature on the 2008 plea agreement was crisp and elegant: A sharp “R” to start; a stately “D” for Dion, his middle name; and “DeSantis” written with an artistic flourish.

Gov. DeSantis' signature as special assistant U.S. attorney in a plea agreement for a court case in 2008.
Gov. DeSantis' signature as special assistant U.S. attorney in a plea agreement for a court case in 2008. [ U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ]

Over the next 13 years, DeSantis’ signature would evolve from the neat cursive of his youth to the hurried one he uses frequently today as Florida’s governor. Along the way, he dropped the middle initial. He altered the look of the “R,” and then switched it back. A quick squiggle and a big swoop replaced most of the letters in his last name.

Handwriting experts say no two signatures from one person are the same. It’s why Florida election officials for years have used all the signatures at their disposal — sometimes more than a dozen — when they authenticate a voter’s signature on a mail-in ballot.

DeSantis wants to rein-in that long-standing practice. Vote-by-mail signatures “must match the most recent signature on file” with the state Department of Elections, DeSantis declared in February. A bill moving through the Florida Senate would make that the law.

Some election officials say limiting signature samples could make it harder to authenticate the identities of voters who choose to cast their ballot by mail. Signatures change over time, they say, and are often affected by the choice of pen, the writing surface, fatigue or a person’s health. A new requirement for a one-to-one match could lead to more rejected ballots.

DeSantis’ own John Hancock has undergone a transformation during his time in government, as demonstrated by 16 of his signatures compiled by the Tampa Bay Times from publicly available sources between 2008 and now.

Experts and election officials who reviewed DeSantis’ signature history for the Times said some of the modifications in his penmanship could have posed trouble for election workers, especially if constrained to one point of comparison. In a handful of instances, it’s possible the ballot could have been rejected, they said.

“It shows why it is better to have multiple signatures for review than to have one,” said Tom Vastrick, a forensic document examiner based in Apopka.

The Times presented DeSantis’ office with his signatures and with a summary of the opinion of the experts interviewed for this story. His spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment on the analysis nor did they say why this change in law is needed.

The new limitations on signature matching are included in a larger bill, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, that would overhaul mail-in voting. He said comparing the signature on the ballot to the most recent one on file with the state will simplify the verification process.

“It’s the most current and more likely to be how they’re signing things now,” Baxley said. “That is the key.”

The proposal is part of a package of voting legislation that Florida Republicans are pushing this session to the state’s election system, even though DeSantis praised Florida for how it conducted its 2020 election. “The way Florida did it, I think inspires confidence, I think that’s how elections should be run,” DeSantis said at the time.

Yet five months later, Florida has joined other GOP-controlled states in proposing new restrictions on voting, especially mail-in ballots, which former President Donald Trump has ridiculed in his failed bid to overturn the election.

The bill is scheduled for a committee vote Wednesday. Baxley said changes could be forthcoming.

The past and the present
The signature on the state paperwork for DeSantis’ first congressional campaign in 2012 bears only a passing resemblance to the one he often scribbles these days on executive actions.

Richard Orsini, a forensic document examiner from Jacksonville Beach, teaches election officials how to spot the similarities.

The initial downstroke of the “R” in “Ron” is consistent in the two signatures, he said. And the finishing stroke in both samples is a cursive “s” that crosses back over the last name in a clockwise curl. Despite other differences, Orsini said it would be reasonable to conclude these signatures belong to the same person.

Orsini and other handwriting experts cram a lifetime of knowledge into their hours-long training sessions with election workers and canvassing boards — the volunteers who make quick decisions on whether to reject or accept a mail-in ballot based on the signature. One of the pieces of wisdom they impart is the importance of having multiple specimens to make a fair determination.

“If I get a call from an attorney for a contested will, here’s my standard ask of them: I need the best copy of the questioned document signature, and then I need 10 to 20 uncontested, known general signatures that you can find written as close to the date of the contested signature,” Orsini said. “That’s my first request.”

Those additional examples could help election workers if they encounter a signature like the one DeSantis adopted as a U.S. Representative.

Then-U.S. Rep. DeSantis' signature on a letter to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 dated Aug. 3, 2017.
Then-U.S. Rep. DeSantis' signature on a letter to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 dated Aug. 3, 2017. [ U.S. House of Representatives ]

This signature appeared on a 2017 letter DeSantis penned to former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Unlike previous signatures or his current one, the finishing stroke is counter-clockwise, noted Vastrick.

“That really sticks out to me,” he said.

Herb Polson, a former St. Petersburg Council member, had to make determinations on mail ballot signatures when he sat on the Pinellas County canvassing board in 2018 and 2020. He said it would be difficult to match that 2017 signature with the one DeSantis has used more recently.

“If those were the only two I had to choose from, I’d have trouble with those two,” Polson said. “It’s a completely different style of start. That in itself could lead me to say, ‘Huh, that doesn’t look like the one from a year earlier.’ ", a NBC news website, reported on Tuesday that DeSantis’ ballot in 2016 was rejected because Flagler County officials deemed his signature did not match the one on file with the state.

Under Florida law, if a mail-in ballot is rejected, the voter has an opportunity to fix it at their local elections office, a process called a ballot “cure.” DeSantis was able to cure his 2016 ballot in time for the vote to count.

The most recent signature for many voters may be the one they used when they signed their driver’s license at a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles office. That signature is often recorded on an older digital pad with a stylus — not with a pen, like how a ballot is signed.

Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida, studies the application of voter signature matching laws. His research has shown counties often apply signature matching rules unevenly, and students and minorities are more likely to have their ballot rejected because of a mismatch.

“It’s really silly you would want to limit the signature to compare,” Smith said. DeSantis’ “own signatures show the reason for that.”

Instead of limiting signatures or relying on a digital facsimile, it would be more helpful to have people sign their name 10 times in ink when they register to vote, Vastrick said.

In response to these concerns, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia last week tweaked his voting bill to allow election officials to use a signature on file from the past four years. Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said the limitation is needed “to make sure there wasn’t signature shopping where you would have 20 different signature iterations going back 20 years.”

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat, said the amended bill is “better than what we had before” but she added: “It’s trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.”

“Our poll workers have been trained to use multiple signatures,” she said, “and it seems wholly ineffficient to be changing the procedures for them.”

Election security?
Lawmakers, students and teachers surrounded DeSantis in May 2019 when he ceremoniously signed the top policy priority of his first year in office: a massive expansion of the state’s school voucher program. After capping a blue Sharpie, DeSantis flashed the signed bills for the cameras.

If that signature appeared on a mail-in ballot, an election worker would have a hard time matching it to a single sample, said Ion Sancho, the former supervisor of elections in Leon County.

“I’ve witnessed them having problems and this probably would be rejected,” Sancho said. “It’s one of the reasons you need multiple pieces of evidence.”

Polson agreed.

“That is more than a reach for me,” he said. “I would have a tough time giving an affirmative to that.”

DeSantis has often voted by mail in Florida, including as recently as the 2020 August Republican primary. After Trump’s months-long crusade against mail-in voting in 2020, DeSantis has made it his priority to put new restrictions on the popular voting method. Most of the attention has centered on DeSantis’ proposals to eliminate ballot drop boxes and a new requirement that people re-register to vote by mail every year.

DeSantis has said these measures are needed for election security. He has said less about why he wants to change the signature matching rules.

“If there needs to be ways to bolster the signature verification, then we need to do that as well,” he said in February in West Palm Beach.

Smith said limiting signatures could have the opposite effect on election security. Fewer signatures means less evidence to verify a positive match.

“If you’re interested in election integrity, wouldn’t you want more signatures to validate the one that is coming in?” Smith said. “Unless that is really not your intention.”

Republicans angered after over 100 top corporate leaders meet to push back against GOP war on voting

"first-of-its-kind" virtual meeting to plan a concerted response to the Republican-backed voting rights restrictions that have swept the nation.

The move comes amid a fissure between the GOP and Corporate America following the latter's denunciation of HB 202, a sweeping anti-voting bill passed by the Georgia state legislature late last month. When the MLB pulled its All-Star game from Atlanta in protest of the newly-minted law, many GOP Senators accused corporate America of falling into the hands of the "radical leftists."

Last month, when 100 major corporations signaled their opposition to HB 202, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., whose PAC received some $475 million from corporate donors last year alone, told Corporate America to "stay out of politics."

"Our private sector must stop taking cues from the Outrage-Industrial Complex," McConnell said. "Americans do not need or want big business to amplify disinformation or react to every manufactured controversy with frantic left-wing signaling. Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order."

During the call, executives from "major airlines, retailers and manufacturers — plus at least one NFL owner" reportedly floated the idea of halting all political contributions to lawmakers that backed any bills designed to suppress the vote, according to Axios. Even more, corporate leaders reportedly discussed discontinuing any investments in states which passed such bills. Among those who attended the meeting were "Arthur Blank, owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons; Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres; Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments; Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart;  Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn; Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines; Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines; and Chip Bergh, chairman of Levi Strauss Company, according to CBS.

"The gathering was an enthusiastic voluntary statement of defiance against threats of reprisals for exercising their patriotic voices," Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale University management professor who helped organize the meeting, told CBS. "They're showing a disdain for these political attacks. Not only are they fortifying each other, but they see that this spreading of disease of voter restrictions from Georgia to up to possibly 46 other states is based on a false premise and its' anti-democratic."

The meeting, which did not amount to any significant action plan, drew sharp rebukes from various Republicans.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted on Sunday, "Oligarchy defined: The most powerful corporations in America get together to plan how to control legislation in dozens of states."

"It's kind of scary how major corporations are trying to force policy changes," echoed Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe.

The event comes following reports that corporate America systematically supported many anti-voting bills' state-level sponsors. According to a report by Public Citizen, a government watchdog group, state legislators pushing for voting restrictions have taken in over $50 million in corporate donations over the past several years. AT&T, for instance, gave over $800,000 since 2015 to sponsors of anti-voting measures throughout the country.

"A contribution of $5,000 to a U.S. senator who is raising $30 million is a drop in a bucket. But in some of these state races, a few thousand dollars can buy a lot of ad time," said Mike Tanglis, one of the authors of the report. "If corporate America is going to say that (Trump's) lie is unacceptable on the federal level, what about on the state level?"

General Discussion Forum / Pray for St. Vincent
« on: Yesterday at 08:11:07 AM »
More flee volcano on Caribbean island of St. Vincent

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent -- More people fled their homes on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent on Sunday as La Soufrière volcano rumbled loudly for a third day and the heavy weight of its ashfall damaged some buildings. Residents reported widespread power failures early in the day, though authorities restored electricity to most of the island by late afternoon.

The eruption Friday of La Soufrière prompted many people to evacuate their homes, and others who had remained in place sought shelter elsewhere Sunday.

The volcano's rumbles were heard in the capital of Kingstown, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south.

“I’m just here wondering when it’s going to calm down,” resident Kalique Sutherland said.

The eruption could continue for some time, said Richard Robertson, the lead scientist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center.

“It’s likely that at some point it would quiet down and hopefully we would have a break so that we could recover a little bit more, but don’t be surprised if after the break it picks up like this again,” Robertson said.

Elford Lewis, a 56-year-old farmer who evacuated his home on Sunday morning, said the ongoing eruption is worse than the last big one in 1979.

“This one is more serious,'' said Lewis, who witnessed the big eruption decades ago.

An eruption of the 4,003-foot (1,220-meter) volcano in 1902 killed roughly 1,600 people.

About 16,000 people have had to flee their ash-covered communities with as many belongings as they could stuff into suitcases and backpacks. However, there have been no reports of anyone being killed or injured by the initial blast or those that followed.

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of the 32 islands that make up the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has said people should remain calm and keep trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus. He said officials were trying to figure out the best way to collect and dispose of the ash, which covered an airport runway near Kingstown, and fell as far away as Barbados, about 120 miles (190 kilometers) to the east.

About 3,200 people took refuge at 78 government-run shelters, and four empty cruise ships stood ready to take other evacuees to nearby islands, with a group of more than 130 already taken to St. Lucia. Those staying at the shelters were tested for COVID-19, with anyone testing positive being taken to an isolation center.

Nearby nations, including Antigua and Grenada, also offered to take in evacuees.

‘Darn’ Tootin’ It Is!’: Gov. Tate Reeves Again Declares Confederate Heritage Month, SCV Says

Hickin' in Mississippi...

Despite asking Gov. Tate Reeves’ office since late March if he planned to again declare April as Confederate Heritage Month with no response, this publication just found what appears to be this year’s proclamation. The new document, which Reeves apparently signed on April 7, 2021, appears on the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Camp 265 Rankin Rough & Ready’s Facebook page. Reeves is from Rankin County.

The proclamation does not yet appear on the secretary of state’s official proclamations page at press time. The last one mentioning Reeves there is dated March 29, 2021.

This writer found last year’s proclamation on a Sons of Confederate Veterans Facebook page rather than through official government channels as well, breaking the news at the Jackson Free Press. In 2016, that publication had broken the news that Gov. Phil Bryant had quietly proclaimed Confederate Heritage Month, a long-time tradition by Mississippi governors, Democratic and Republican, that had flown under the media radar for years.

Bryant’s 2016 proclamation appeared then on the website of Beauvoir, the Gulf Coast home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which is now a museum that has long sold revisionist books about the Confederacy, as well as received state funds, and his staff then refused to return calls before the story broke. The Sons of Confederate Veterans run both Beauvoir, including a Confederate cemetery there, as well as its website.

That 2016 breaking story started a national conversation about the Confederate Heritage Month tradition and led to the popular hashtag #ConfederateHeritageMonth on Twitter often used to explode romantic myths about the Confederacy, including the falsehood that it was not about maintaining and extending slavery as Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession, and those of other soon-to-be Confederate states, made very clear.

“Darn’ tootin’ it is!,” the Rough and Ready’s Facebook page, celebrated at about noon on April 8. “It’s official-April is Confederate Heritage and History Month in our state of Mississippi and we observe it with pride! #ConfederateHeritage #SouthernHeritage #HonoringOurAncestors”

Taking an ‘All Sides Matter’ Approach to the Civil War
In what appears to be the 2021 proclamation, Reeves repeats the same language he used in the 2020 proclamation, which he issued within weeks of COVID-19 hitting Mississippi, amending Bryant’s 2016 order. Bryant said outright that the Confederacy started the Civil War. His 2016 proclamation began: “April is the month when the Confederate states began and ended a four-year struggle.” That is accurate: the South started the conflict by firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., on April 12, 1861, over the right to own and extend slavery to new U.S. states.

Reeves however, takes a more “all sides matter” approach—hearkening back to the “reconciliation” approach of the United Confederate Veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy. Led by former Confederate officer and first Mississippi State University President Stephen D. Lee of Mississippi after Reconstruction ended, Confederate revisionists pushed for a strategy that ended in “lost cause mythology” through textbook censorship and public marketing, including through the proliferation of Confederate statues and memorials across the South.

This “redemption” ideology—which actually advocated for maintaining white supremacy and turning back new-found rights for Black Americans–taught that the north was just as responsible as the south, if not more so, for what some southerners still call the “War of Northern Aggression.” “April is the month when, in 1861, the American Civil War began between the Confederate and Union armies, reportedly the costliest and deadliest war ever fought on American soil…,” his proclamation begins.

The current governor also strongly implies that his proclamation includes those who died fighting for the Union as well with the addition of “as we honor all who lost their lives in this war.” He adds that “it is important for all Americans to reflect upon our nation’s past, to gain insight from our mistakes and successes, and to come to a full understanding that the lessons learned yesterday and today will carry us through tomorrow if we carefully and earnestly strive to understand and appreciate our heritage and our opportunities which lie before us.”

Reeves: ‘I Couldn’t Have Understood the Pain’
The controversial proclamation in honor of a war Confederates openly admitted was over both slavery and white supremacy comes just months after Reeves signed legislation that changed the Mississippi flag in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota at the knee of a police officer. Reeves did not enthusiastically change his long-time stance against changing the flag, but eventually agreed to sign the legislation.

“Now, I can admit that as a young boy growing up in Florence, I couldn’t have understood the pain that some of our neighbors felt when they looked at our flag—a pain that made many feel unwelcome and unwanted,” Reeves said in his statement about signing the legislation. “Today, I hear their hurt. It sounds different than the outrage we see on cable TV in other places. It sounds like Mississippians, our friends and our neighbors, asking to be understood.”

But in those remarks, Reeves also defended those who hold onto signs and symbolism of the Confederacy. “It is fashionable in some quarters to say our ancestors were all evil. I reject that notion. I also reject the elitist worldview that these United States are anything but the greatest nation in the history of mankind,” Reeves said. “I reject the mobs tearing down statues of our history—north and south, Union and Confederate, founding fathers and veterans. I reject the chaos and lawlessness, and I am proud it has not happened in our state.”

Within months, Reeves also pushed for controversial “patriotic education” legislation, but it did not survive the session after historians spoke out collectively against it.

For his part, The SCV awarded Bryant, a member, the John J. Pettus Heritage Award in 2018 named for the “fire-eater” secessionist governor and slave holder who led Mississippi into secession and the Civil War. Pettus and his family lived in Scooba, Miss., which is in Kemper County, with multiple enslaved people until he fled to Arkansas after the war ended. He refused to surrender to the United States before he died there on Jan. 28, 1867.


Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark — who was one of Lyndon Johnson’s soldiers in the 1960s civil rights movement and later ran for U.S. Senate from New York — died Friday at age 93, media reports said.

Clark, the son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark, practiced law in Dallas early in his career and became a federal assistant attorney general in 1961.

When courts ordered the integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962, Clark led civilian federal workers there, and went on to work on other civil rights cases in the South.

Clark was the federal official responsible for protecting marchers in the 1965 march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery. The first night of the march, “I felt like we were in the Civil War,” Clark told an interviewer.

President Johnson appointed Clark as attorney general in February 1967. Clark was involved in writing LBJ-era civil rights legislation, and made fighting organized crime a priority. He also pushed gun control laws and imposed new guidelines for the use of wiretaps by federal law enforcement.

After he left the government in 1969, Clark practiced and taught law in Manhattan, and loudly opposed the Vietnam War.

He ran unsuccessfully in 1974 for the New York U.S. Senate seat held by liberal Republican Jacob Javits, and gained attention for limiting campaign contributions at $100. Javits defeated him by seven percentage points.

Later, Clark was a lawyer for terrorists and war criminals like Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. An interviewer for the American Bar Association Journal asked him in 2018 what advice he had for lawyers who represent widely reviled clients.

“The worse the public perception, the more important the effective defense is,” Clark said. “That’s where you really measure whether our rights are applicable in the most hateful circumstances.”

Asked in the same interview interview about today’s civil rights activism — including the Black Lives Matter movement — Clark said: “I am not involved anymore. ... But I am all for its aspirations.

“I don’t think we’ve overcome our history of racism, which involves human slavery,” he said. “It’s incredible that a country that talks so much about freedom would come from a country that practiced human slavery for so long. It’s up to each generation to do better.”

Reports did not give a cause for Clark’s death.

 :angel: Rest in peace


Republicans propose "Election Integrity Brigade" specifically targeting Black and brown neighborhoods in Houston

Great Again," was always best understood as a threat against nonwhite people, women, the LGBTQI community and others for whom "the good old days" were in many ways not very good at all.

Although Trump may no longer be president, the Republican Party and his followers are still continuing with his crusade.

Because Republicans understand they cannot free win free and fair elections, their party — and the larger white right — is simply trying to stop Black and brown people from voting in Georgia (and soon in many other states as well). This Jim Crow-style campaign is part of a nationwide strategy by the Republican Party and its agents to keep those Americans who support the Democratic Party from being able to exercise their constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote.

Today's Jim Crow Republicans have mated white supremacy and neofascism, in search of creating something like Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin's "managed democracy." The result is a horrible mixture of right-wing racial authoritarianism and anti-democratic fervor. In their attempt to create a new type of American apartheid, the Republicans and their agents are willing to use all means available, legal, quasi-legal or illegal.

As revealed Thursday by Common Cause Texas, the Republican Party in Harris County — which contains Houston and is the third most-populous county in the nation — is planning to organize what is described as an "Election Integrity Brigade" of thousands of pro-GOP election workers and poll watchers. This group of Republican operatives will be sent into predominantly Black and brown communities to engage in de facto acts of voter intimidation and harassment under the pretext of stopping "voter fraud."

This "Election Integrity Brigade" will be a permanent group, not just a list of volunteers called out during election season. As explained by the Republican official who conducted the briefing obtained by Common Cause Texas, the goal is to also recruit poll watchers and other volunteers through "military partnerships." Such a plan is especially troubling given Donald Trump's coup attempt and his followers' attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the prominent role played by retired or active members of the military and law enforcement.

In an evident nod to racist fears and bigotry, Harris County Republican leaders explains that these poll watchers must have "courage" and "confidence" to do such work in Houston's Black and Latino communities.

NBC News offers additional details:

Harris County GOP Chair Cindy Siegel confirmed in a statement to NBC News that the program aims to recruit "an army of volunteers" throughout the county as a way "to engage voters for the whole ballot, top to bottom, and ensure every legal vote is counted." Siegel also called Common Cause "a radical leftist group that is blatantly mischaracterizing a grassroots election worker recruitment video in a shameful effort to bully and intimidate Republicans."

The Harris County Republican Party's intimidation campaign is literally transcribed from the Jim Crow reign of terror, when white people in Southern states would physically prevent Black people from voting. Many of the white people who enforced these racist Jim Crow rules or regulations were armed, and even if they did not have weapons on their person at that moment, the threat of violence was omnipresent.

Once permission has been granted for these assaults on Black and brown peoples' freedom and dignity — as it was by the Age of Trump — they will only escalate in boldness, frequency and, inevitably, violence.

Of course the professional "serious people" in the mainstream news media and professional commentariat have spent recent weeks trying to talk down the concern that the Jim Crow Republicans are literally trying to take away Black peoples' right to vote.

At many of America's leading news outlets, such voices have criticized President Biden for his "tone," because he said that Republicans were engaging in "Jim Crow on steroids" in Georgia and elsewhere. Other members of the "church of the savvy" and adherents of the "view from nowhere" have also tried to litigate and parse whether the Georgia anti-democracy bill really bans giving food or water to voters in line food and water (it does), or tried to argue for reasonable interpretations of the law that leaves Republicans looking less blatantly racist. (Spoiler: Today's Republicans are in fact blatantly racist.)

Jonathan Chait at New York magazine used odd language, for example, in taking Biden to task for his choice of words and describing the Republican Party's current attack on black people's voting rights as "Jim Crow Lite":

President Biden has contributed to the confusion by describing Georgia's vote suppression as akin to, or even worse than, Jim Crow. Contrary to the president's hyperbole, it is more like Jim Crow Lite than "Jim Crow on steroids."

But Jim Crow Lite is still very bad.

Of course, the Jim Crow Republicans and their mouthpieces took to cable news and other media outlets to play the victim, bemoan "cancel culture" and deny the obvious racism and white supremacy driving their campaign to stop Black and brown people and other likely Democratic supporters from voting, a campaign that now spans 47 states and more than 350 proposed laws.

One of the most perverse claims made in defense of the Jim Crow Republican attacks on voting rights in Georgia is that turnout in Georgia and elsewhere has actually increased after barriers to vote were enacted by Republican governors and legislatures. This is like saying that if you can run faster when being chased by an ax-wielding serial killer, then he's doing you a favor.

Those public voices who are trying to downplay the dangers to democracy represented by the Jim Crow Republican Party are, in the worst case, enablers of such civic evil. In the "best worst-case scenario," those voices are offering analyses from their own myopic perch of privilege (most often the position of being white, male and affluent). They have the luxury of imagining themselves detached from "emotions," and have convinced themselves that white supremacy is controlled by a dial that can be carefully calibrated. In reality, it is more like an old, frayed but powerful electrical switch that frequently sparks, shocks whoever is touching it and possesses the potential to blow out the electricity in the entire building — or start a fire that destroys the neighborhood.

I offer a thought experiment. What if Black and brown people who support the Democratic Party started going into majority-white suburban neighborhoods where many people vote Republican, and acted as poll watchers who were trying to stop voter fraud? Given that there is much more reason to monitor Republicans for efforts to undermine, steal or nullify elections, there might actually be a legitimate need for such vigilance in white neighborhoods.

But how would white people react to that idea? Moreover, what if the Democrats were to take power across the country on the state and local level and then impose the same kinds of limitations, in an obvious attempt to interfere with conservative white people's right to vote? What do you suppose would happen then? At the barest minimum, many of the same voices now trying to minimize the danger represented by the Jim Crow Republicans' attack on voting rights would howl in outrage.

Texas Republican goes down in flames against CNN host after trying to justify voter suppression

Things didn't go well for Texas Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes when he faced off against CNN host Pamela Brown on Sunday evening.

Speaking about the new Texas voter suppression bill, Brown asked why it makes sense to pass stricter voter restrictions when the state leaders called the 2020 election "safe and secure."

Hughes desperately tried to change the subject to being about poll watchers not being present to monitor people dropping their ballots in boxes.

"Poll watchers are the eyes and ears of the public," Hughes claimed.

"But what is a new concept is allowing them to videotape voters while they're filling out their ballots with assistants. I was reading through the bill, as it is earlier, and it's all founded on this idea of preventing fraud. It says: 'This was enacted solely to prevent fraud in the electoral process.' But the Texas attorney general's office put 22,000 hours into trying to dig up voter fraud and only found 16 minor cases. That is statistically insignificant. To what end can they put restrictions on voting when the instances of fraud are statistically insignificant, and you risk disenfranchising voters who have a constitutionally protected right to vote?"

Hughes claimed that there are over 400 open investigations into possible voter fraud. Brown corrected him and said not from 2020. The majority of the cases, she said, involved people having errors in their addresses.

"There are over 400 open cases," Hughes maintained. "Let me give you some details in the 2018 election cycle. Please remember our legislature meets every two years. So, when problems come up we try to deal with them. In 2017 the legislature passed a mail ballot reform bill passed with bipartisan support. I filed Senate bill 9. And here we are again."

"I'm talking about the 2020 election and what you're trying to do with this bill," Brown cut in.

Hughes tried to accuse Brown of wanting to fight over the Georgia bill.

"We had Democrats testify under oath about cheating, with mail ballots, with people claiming to offer assistance," Hughes claimed. "We responded to what Democrats told us under oath in front of the Senate committee."

"Are you really saying that this bill is predicated on what Democrats had testified to? Democrats have come out and said that it will disproportionately hurt minorities in Texas because more than half of those voting at those drive-through locations were minorities, according to one Democratic lawmaker," Brown clapped back.

It developed into chaos as Hughes desperately tried to justify why it's safe for someone to put a check in a bank-drop box but not a ballot in a state drop-box.

See the video below:

Texas voter suppression

Losers march

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Hundreds of protesters take over a Fort Lauderdale boulevard for the “Million Maskless March” this weekend.

The event took place Saturday and comes after face masks became mandatory one year ago.

Many protesters carried American and “Trump 2020” flags while marching and driving through the streets.

Several people who were there say they don't believe the CDC or trust the science which has found that wearing a mask can lower the risk of contracting coronavirus

Newly revealed Trump administration emails show depravity and conspiracy against the country

The select subcommittee in the United States House of Representatives that is now investigating how the federal government managed the country's response to the covid pandemic released emails Thursday showing top officials in the Trump administration knowingly, carefully and deliberately sabotaged public understanding of the disease.
According to the Post's Dan Diamond, "The documents provide further insight into how senior Trump officials approached last year's explosion of coronavirus cases in the United States. Even as career government scientists worked to combat the virus, a cadre of Trump appointees were attempting to blunt the scientists' messages, edit their findings and equip the president with an alternate set of talking points."

Diamond's story is about "political interference" in what should have been the neutral administration of public health policy in the face of a once-a-century plague. That framing of the issue will likely be adopted by the Washington pundit corps. That framing has been adopted by the House investigators, too. "Our investigation has shown that Trump Administration officials engaged in a persistent pattern of political interference in the nation's public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, overruling and bullying scientists and making harmful decisions that allowed the virus to spread more rapidly," said House Whip James Clyburn, the subcommittee chair.

But while the press and investigators are right to be careful with language, the court of public opinion, which may be the only court demanding justice in the end, need not be so careful. Let's not obscure the body-count reality of what Michael Caputo and Paul Alexander have done with gauzy abstractions like "political interference." As of this writing, the covid has killed over 573,000 Americans. These men, along with others, including the former president, were engaged in crimes. The question shouldn't be whether this was "political interference." It should be whether this was homicide.

Trump-appointed officials with more background in rhetoric than in infectious disease literally rewrote public statements released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in ways that minimized the deadly risk of the covid, especially with respect to schools, and maximized the risk to the economy. They did, in other words, what their boss wanted of them, which is what he's good at. They put right-wing propaganda in the mouths of public health authorities and called it "the truth."

Those same authorities, including then-CDC director Robert Redfield, played along. Redfield "repeatedly claimed last year that the agency's reports had been protected from political interference," the Post reported. Indeed, he testified under oath to a committee in the United States Senate: "At no time has the scientific integrity of the [The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports] been compromised. And I can say that under my watch, it will not be compromised." That was a gigantic, Janus-faced lie.

Caputo was Donald Trump's choice to head public affairs at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Alexander was Caputo's hand-picked "science advisor." If they didn't get what they wanted, they'd undermine the CDC's findings by writing op-eds packed with misinformation. On the one hand, they empowered lies. On the other, they kneecapped the facts and the public's health. Diamond wrote: "Pointing to one change—where CDC leaders allegedly changed the opening sentence of a report about spread of the virus among younger people after Alexander pressured them—Alexander wrote to Caputo, calling it a 'small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!!'"

Remember, too, that the Trump administration, all the way up to the president, knew the reality of the covid. Thanks to Bob Woodward's reporting, we know they knew it was airborne. We know they knew it was highly contagious. We know they knew it was killing the old and the sick and the feeble. We know they knew the coronavirus had the potential of bringing the US economy to a halt. And now we know they decided anyway to sabotage public understanding of the disease. They were not only involved a scheme to commit negligent homicide. They were involved in a conspiracy to commit treason.

Will Caputo and Alexander be held accountable for this? Not likely. But that doesn't mean the public should not demand some kind of justice. For one thing, Redfield lied under oath. That's a crime. For another, Caputo and Alexander were communicating using government email accounts as well as personal email accounts. Crimes like that goosed the FBI into taking action before the 2016 election when it was discovered that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been using a personal email server. The FBI cleared her eventually, but not before moving heaven and earth to do it.

The FBI should move heaven and earth again, but this time, there's much more at stake. Hillary Clinton was trying to avoid arduous security protocols required by the government. (That's why she set up her own secure network in her basement.) Caputo and Alexander may have used their personal email accounts to avoid criminal liability. (Remember, we know they knew what they were doing and what the outcome, mass death, would be.) We should presume they're hiding incriminating evidence of their involvement in a conspiracy leading to 573,000 dead until it's proven they aren't.

General Discussion Forum / I know that Black don't crack, but
« on: April 10, 2021, 03:42:10 AM »
D.L. Hugley for a 58 year old brother, you're looking kinda rough.  :no:


Striking from the top!!🐍🐍🐍 You Go Rattler!!!

Kim Godwin, a CBS News executive since 2007, is on track to become the first Black woman to run a broadcast network news operation, as she has been offered the top job at ABC News, according to people familiar with the plan.

Godwin will fill the position vacated by James Goldston, who departed the news division at the Walt Disney Co. unit last month. CBS has agreed to let Godwin out of her contract so that she can make the historic move.

A Disney representative did not comment on its discussions. A CBS News representative also declined to comment. NBC News reported that Godwin is currently in negotiations for the job as ABC News president.

Goldston's exit came six months after the ouster of the division’s longtime business affairs chief, Barbara Fedida, who left after an investigation into her alleged use of racist language when discussing the news division’s employees. The investigation followed a report in HuffPost.

Interestingly, it was under Fedida's run as head of talent development at CBS News that Godwin moved from one of the network's owned TV stations to work on the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric."

Now Godwin is being brought into ABC News with the charge to repair the division's culture.

At CBS, Godwin had editorial oversight of the network's newsgathering operation, including the national desks, foreign desks and bureaus.

Godwin's appointment would put women in lead roles at four national TV news operations. Suzanne Scott has headed Fox News Media since 2018. Susan Zirinsky has served as president of CBS News since 2019. Rashida Jones became president of NBCUniversal's MSNBC cable channel earlier this year, making her the first Black woman to lead a major national TV news network.

Before joining CBS in 2007, Godwin served in a variety of positions at local TV stations. She was the acting news director and assistant news director at WCBS-TV in New York, vice president and news director at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, vice president of news operations for NBC Television Stations and vice president and news director at KXAS-TV in Dallas.

The sisters are stepping up across this land.

Civil rights leader Ben Jealous endorses Jennifer Carroll Foy in Virginia governor race

Ben Jealous, a prominent civil rights leader who helmed the NAACP for five years, is endorsing Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy in the race to be Virginia's next governor -- handing the former state delegate a significant boost one day after her rival, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, secured a high-profile endorsement from Gov. Ralph Northam.

In endorsing Carroll Foy, Jealous invoked her "lived experiences" to argue that she is both prepared to meet the moment and be a strong steward of the commonwealth's future.

"Jennifer Carroll Foy's commitment to justice and equity stands head and shoulders above the crowd," said Jealous, who currently serves as the president of People For the American Way. "As a public defender, she saw the two-tiered criminal justice system up close: one that's left Black Americans behind and one that works for everyone else. As a leader in the legislature, Jennifer took on tough fights for justice -- and she won."

"Her proven track record, and plans for Virginia, rooted in her lived experiences as a working mom and someone who has struggled herself, make her uniquely qualified to be Virginia's next governor. She's a fresh leader ready to lead the fight for a more just Virginia where no one gets left behind," he added.

Jealous pursued a campaign to become Maryland's first Black governor in 2018, but was unsuccessful. He rarely wades into primaries but is supporting Carroll Foy's bid, seeing her as aligned with his views and with the might to win, according to a source familiar with the endorsement.

Carroll Foy said she is "proud" to have his support, and that of the group he leads, and assured that she is committed to building a more equitable commonwealth.

"I am proud to be on the front lines fighting for justice for all Virginians because I know what it's like to make impossible decisions just to survive. I'm dedicated to moving Virginia forward so that everyone has the opportunity to thrive," she said in a statement.

The move by Jealous, once the youngest president of the NAACP in its history, underlines a tricky intraparty clash over the politics of race that has been an undercurrent in the contest -- two years after Northam came under intense pressure to resign, including from McAuliffe, when a racist yearbook photo of him from the 1980s emerged.

For Carroll Foy, earning Jealous' backing counters the snub from the state's top Democrat. Northam decided to support McAuliffe as his successor over any one of the diverse, and potentially historic, candidates on the Democrats' deep bench.

Carroll Foy and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan are both competing to be the first Black female governor in the nation's history. Northam also chose McAuliffe over his own deputy, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, only the second African American elected statewide in Virginia, who also became embroiled in controversy over sexual assault allegations which he denied.

Some Democrats see McAuliffe, who is white, as potentially impeding history in Virginia. He is the apparent front-runner in the race, wih widespread name recognition, fundraising prowess and a slate of Democratic leaders in the state lining up behind his bid, including more than 150 Black leaders from across the commonwealth.

But Carroll Foy is proving to be a formidable contender, raising $1.8 million in the first three months of the year and ending the quarter with $2.3 million in the bank. And she isn't the only one answering Northam's endorsement of McAuliffe.

McClellan, who played a key role in recently passing a sweeping voting rights bill for the commonwealth, contended that "Virginia has the worst record of electing women in America" and made clear she is hoping to change that.

"It's no surprise to see one governor endorse another. But this election is up to the voters of Virginia. Virginians aren't looking backward; they're looking forward," she said in a statement hours after Northam's endorsement. "Virginians are looking for a new perspective: the perspective of a mother, a Black woman and a leader driving progress for 15 years in Richmond."

Charlie Wilson Reveals Connection Between Tulsa Race Massacre, The Gap Band's Smash Hit 'You Dropped the Bomb on Me'

There isn’t a dance floor, wedding, cookout, or Black person alive who isn’t familiar with The Gap Band’s signature hit, “You Dropped the Bomb on Me,” and its contagious bassline. And on the latest episode of ABC Audio’s Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth balladeer Charlie Wilson reveals whether or not the 1982 song actually has a much deeper meaning.

Much like myself, the soul legend’s roots can be traced back to Tulsa, Okla., where he grew up mere blocks away from the same Greenwood District where the Tulsa Race Massacre occurred in 1921. On that fateful night, a violent white mob descended upon the prosperous Black community known as Black Wall Street, and in less than 24 hours, they destroyed the entire neighborhood, killing as many as 300 of our people in the process.

It was not only one of the most violent racial attacks in American history, but arguably one of the deadliest instances of domestic terrorism. So considering The Gap Band’s connection to such a horrific event, rumors have persisted for years that “You Dropped the Bomb on Me” actually has a secret meaning.

In speaking with Soul of a Nation: Tulsa’s Buried Truth host Steve Osunsami, Wilson, who co-wrote the song, explained that despite the rumors, the only bomb being dropped is one made out of love. He’s grateful, however, that the confusion has drawn more awareness to the atrocities that continue to be committed against Black folks.

Leader of Neo-Nazi Group Pleads Guilty to Harassing Journalists and Advocates of Color
“It’s bringing attention back to the race riots. I’m so happy about that,” he said. “We knew we were going to go all over the world—at least I did. [And we knew] we’d have to talk about that, and where the name [The Gap Band] came from.”

While touring in the 1980s, the “There Goes My Baby” singer recalls the reactions the band would receive when they would bring up the disturbing history of their hometown.

“People were just kinda lookin’ at us like, ‘Are you sure? I’ve never heard this story before,’” Wilson said.

He also remembers how Lucille Figures, one of the survivors of the riots, shared the story of her escape from the massacre. She was 12 years old at the time it occurred and made Wilson vow to keep any details she shared private.

“She told me a lot of things. But she made me promise, ‘Don’t ever speak about what I told you until I’m gone,’ Wilson said. “She watched people die and getting shot. So she was to never speak about it. They kept it quiet, so they could be would be protected in some way.”

Wilson honored her request—Figures died in 2013 at the age of 104—and now makes it his mission to ensure that Greenwood takes its rightful place in our history books.

“Better late than never,” he said. “The story needs to be told.”

MAGA Rioter Who Gouged Police Officer’s Eyes Complains That He’s Locked Up Like an ‘Inner City’ Criminal

 ::) :lol: :lol:

At what point will the rioters figure out that just because they are white, just because they primarily come from the middle-class, just because they believed Trump and just because they believed that the election had been stolen, doesn’t mean that they didn’t commit a serious crime which results in being treated like people held-over for a trial involving serious crimes.

Moreover, these people have already demonstrated their contempt for law and law enforcement, along with a willingness to do what Trump says. Why would a judge let a person out on bond who has shown such contempt for the law and law enforcement already?

And yet we continue to hear arguments from rioters that reek of entitlement. Many of them presume that they are not “real criminals,” like the type that are in jail for selling an eight-ball of crack. We have another example from tweets issued by Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post:

Lawyer for Tommy Webster, retired NYPD cop accused of beating an MPD officer with flagpole on #J6, says his client is in a “dormitory setting” with people serving time for “inner-city crimes” – “for a middle-aged guy whose never been arrested before this has been a shock for him”

What is an “inner-city crime”? One committed by a black person? Because Tommy Webster is charged with eye-gouging, which sounds pretty bad to us and that’s a significant crime, and – for what it’s worth, was committed in an inner-city. (Wrong race, though).

Webster has a “sparkling record” with the NYPD which led to “the lofty assignment of protecting the mayor,” attorney says – but if he won’t be released he wants him moved back to jail in upstate New York.

O.J. Simpson had a “sparkling record” until arrested for m*rder. Records lose their sparkle fast upon committing or being accused of committing a bad crime. The fact that he was a cop should work against him because he would have a greater appreciation that he was in a situation where it appears he committed a felony, not that it would be a technically difficult call. (We presume innocence, this is the United States)

At what point will the rioters figure out that just because they are white, just because they primarily come from the middle-class, just because they believed Trump and just because they believed that the election had been stolen, doesn’t mean that they didn’t commit a serious crime which results in being treated like people held-over for a trial involving serious crimes.

Moreover, these people have already demonstrated their contempt for law and law enforcement, along with a willingness to do what Trump says. Why would a judge let a person out on bond who has shown such contempt for the law and law enforcement already?

And yet we continue to hear arguments from rioters that reek of entitlement. Many of them presume that they are not “real criminals,” like the type that are in jail for selling an eight-ball of crack. We have another example from tweets issued by Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post:

Lawyer for Tommy Webster, retired NYPD cop accused of beating an MPD officer with flagpole on #J6, says his client is in a “dormitory setting” with people serving time for “inner-city crimes” – “for a middle-aged guy whose never been arrested before this has been a shock for him”

What is an “inner-city crime”? One committed by a black person? Because Tommy Webster is charged with eye-gouging, which sounds pretty bad to us and that’s a significant crime, and – for what it’s worth, was committed in an inner-city. (Wrong race, though).

Webster has a “sparkling record” with the NYPD which led to “the lofty assignment of protecting the mayor,” attorney says – but if he won’t be released he wants him moved back to jail in upstate New York.

O.J. Simpson had a “sparkling record” until arrested for m*rder. Records lose their sparkle fast upon committing or being accused of committing a bad crime. The fact that he was a cop should work against him because he would have a greater appreciation that he was in a situation where it appears he committed a felony, not that it would be a technically difficult call. (We presume innocence, this is the United States)

(He’s not in D.C., where riot detainees are in a separate wing, causing friction on both sides — like others arrested elsewhere he’s been moved around the country on the way to D.C.)

It sounds to us like he’s already getting special treatment, which is exactly what he expects.

Every defense attorney tries to make a decent argument to get the best outcome for his or her client. But one is supposed to make arguments that do not offend the judge. Sounding entitled, sounding like one is “better” than those around him is one way to offend a judge. There are other arguments to make – though we’re not making them for him – that sound far less entitled.

Until then, this argument accomplished nothing more than an assertion based on being too good to suffer such consequences. There is an officer out there with vision troubles (and may have lost an eye) that would strongly disagree.

2 Windsor police officers threatened and assaulted a man during an illegal stop, lawsuit claims. And it’s all on video.

Caron Nazario was driving his brand new SUV through the town of Windsor last December when he saw a police cruiser signal for him to pull over.

The Army second lieutenant slowed down on U.S. Route 460, flipped on his turn signal, and looked for a lighted place to pull over because it was dark outside, according to a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.

Less than a mile away, Nazario saw a BP gas station. He drove his Chevrolet Tahoe into the parking area and stopped, the lawsuit said.

In the meantime, Windsor Police Officer Daniel Crocker radioed he was attempting to pull over a vehicle with no rear license plate and tinted windows. He said the driver was “eluding police” and he considered it a “high-risk traffic stop,” according to a report he submitted afterward and was included in the court filing. The written report acknowledged, however, that the SUV was traveling at a low rate of speed.

Another officer, Joe Gutierrez, was driving by when he heard Crocker’s call, saw him attempting to pull the vehicle over, and decided to join the traffic stop. What happened after that has been disputed by the officers and Nazario.

But the police officers’ own body cam footage — and a cellphone recording made by Nazario — back up the Army lieutenant’s version of events, according to his attorney, Jonathan Arthur of Richmond.

“It’s all right there in the footage,” the attorney said.

Arthur said the lawsuit was filed in federal court because it alleges Nazario’s constitutional rights were violated. Windsor Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle did not respond to a request for comment.

Windsor is a small town in Isle of Wight County, with a population of just 2,700. Crocker and Gutierrez still work for the department, according to the town manager, and are the only named defendants in the lawsuit. Neither could be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, when the two officers got out, they immediately drew their guns and pointed them at Nazario — who is Black and Latino and was dressed in uniform — as he sat in his SUV.

And while Crocker had radioed he was pulling the vehicle over for not having a license plate, his body cam showed there was a cardboard license plate typically used on new cars posted in the rear window, the complaint says.

The officers shouted conflicting orders at Nazario, telling him to put his hands out the window while also telling him to open the door and get out, the lawsuit says. At one point, Gutierrez told Nazario he was “fixin’ to ride the lightning,” a reference to the electric chair, according to the claim.

Nazario repeatedly asked what was going on but got no response. Frightened and unsure what to do, he told the officers he was scared to get out.

Gutierrez then responded, “Yeah, you should be,” the complaint said.

The officers then attempted to pull Nazario out of the vehicle. When the 27-year-old asked that they call a police supervisor, Gutierrez stepped back and pepper sprayed Nazario multiple times, the lawsuit says.

The chemical temporarily blinded Nazario and caused a burning sensation in his lungs, throat and skin. Nazario’s dog was in a crate in the back and also started to choke.

Nazario got out of the vehicle and again asked for a supervisor. Gutierrez responded with “knee-strikes” to his legs, knocking him to the ground, the lawsuit says. The two officers struck him multiple times, then handcuffed and interrogated him, the complaint says.

Gutierrez wrote in his report that his body cam video stopped recording when it was compressed between him and Nazario during a struggle.

Crocker opened the windows and tailgate of the SUV after Nazario expressed concern about his dog.

When Nazario told the officers he waited to pull over until he could get to a well-lit area, Gutierrez said that was “reasonable,” the claim states. The officer also said it “happens all the time” and that “80% of the time it is a minority” who waits to get to a lit area.

Gutierrez told Nazario the problem was that he refused to exit the vehicle, according to the claim, and threatened to charge him with obstructing justice, eluding police and assaulting a law enforcement officer.

“Realizing that they had acted illegally,” the lawsuit says, the officers told Nazario that if he “would chill and let this go,” they would release him without filing any charges. But if he fought it, which Gutierrez acknowledged he had the right to do, Nazario would be charged and would have “to go to court and notify his command.”

Afterwards, the two officers filed reports with “near identical” misstatements, the lawsuit says.

They reported that Nazario refused to show his hands and slapped theirs away when they tried to get him out. Gutierrez wrote that he gave knee strikes to Nazario’s legs because he wouldn’t get on the ground and resisted arrest.

Medics were called and treated Nazario at the scene. The police chief also came and was briefed as to what happened, the report said.

Gutierrez wrote in his report that he felt he had two options: charge Nazario with obstruction, eluding, and assaulting an officer, or release him without any charges.

“I made the decision to release him without any charges,” his report said. “The reason for this decision is simple; the military is the only place where double jeopardy applies. Meaning that whatever happened in civil court, the military could still take action against him. Being a military veteran, I did not want to see his career ruined over one erroneous decision.”

Crocker’s report also states that he chose not to file any charges because Nazario was active duty military, up for promotion, and the officer didn’t want to see his career ruined for “poor judgment.”

The lawsuit argues the officers didn’t have probable cause to charge Nazario with any crimes, the stop was illegal and that the officers threatened to ruin the Army officer’s military career to cover their own misdeeds.

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