Don Lemon Denies CNN ‘Was Ever Liberal’ During Interview With Stephen Colbert

Don Lemon Denies CNN ‘Was Ever Liberal’ During Interview With Stephen Colbert

During an interview on the far-left Stephen Colbert show, CNN’s Don Lemon claimed that he doesn’t think the network which has viciously attacked conservatives for the past several years “ever was liberal.”  Colbert reacts with understandable surprise and a hint of disbelief at the notion. 


While it’s true that the term “liberal” in the traditional sense has barely applied to the political left in the US for decades, it’s doubtful that Don Lemon is playing word games or semantics.  When he uses the descriptive he is referring to progressive ideology, and to claim CNN was never a progressive echo chamber and propaganda machine is truly jumping the shark. 

This is the same network that consistently pushed the debunked Russiagate narrative, claimed that the Barack Obama wire tapping scandal at Trump Tower was a “flat out lie” (it was absolutely true), asserted that the BLM protests were “fiery but mostly peaceful”, spent a considerable amount of energy attempting to demonize Kyle Rittenhouse’s act of self defense for political reasons and was a primary attack dog against American citizens that stood against the covid lockdown and mandates.  There is nothing centrist about CNN.     

Lemon’s attempt to shift the narrative, though absurd and a form of gaslighting, is more confirmation that the new CNN leadership and new ownership is indeed seeking to clean up the failing news outlet’s image as a partisan spin machine and at least give the appearance of objectivity. Lemon is merely trying to keep his job.

CNN has recently suffered one of the worst declines in viewership numbers and profits in the company’s history, along with the cancellation of it’s CNN+ streaming service after only a few weeks due to lack of public interest.  Lemon was recently booted from his prime time show ‘Don Lemon Tonight’ and was moved to the ‘New Day’ morning show with two other co-anchors; a change which he called “a promotion.” 

Tyler Durden
Wed, 11/30/2022 – 18:45

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Amidst The Turmoil, Don’t Handcuff Twitter With Government Control

Amidst The Turmoil, Don’t Handcuff Twitter With Government Control

Authored by Randolph May via,

The Babylon Bee, the satirical website that takes aim – all too effectively in the minds of some – at over-the-top wokeness, has been reinstated on Twitter. A blaring headline from a recent Bee story: “‘Twitter Is Dead,’ 300 Million People Post on Twitter.” A satirical zinger, indeed!

And Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been reinstated too – supposedly based on the results of a poll on . . . you guessed it, Twitter.

Amidst the turmoil and tumult of Elon Musk’s Twitter take-over, predicting what Twitter will be next week, much less next year, is a fool’s game. Count me out. After all, Mr. Musk reportedly has warned the staff: “Bankruptcy isn’t out of the question.”

Assuming for present purposes that Twitter can ensure the security and stability of the platform going forward, I know what I want the platform to be. Throughout this now fifteen part “Thinking Clearly About Speaking Freely” series, I’ve argued that Twitter, along with other major social media platforms, have been far too censorious in restricting content that should remain subject to public debate. And throughout, I’ve cited examples of overly censorious actions, such as restricting posts relating to the origin of COVID-19, the effectiveness of various treatment options, and the educational and economic costs of school and business lockdowns.

I’ve never contended there shouldn’t be any content moderation at all, but rather that Twitter should operate much more like the digital town square that Elon Musk, as a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” long has said he wanted.

In other words, censorship should be considerably more limited, say, to posts demonstrably facilitating terrorism or sex trafficking, or inciting violence.

Perhaps it should not be surprising that amidst all the present chaos, including the substantial downsizing of staff, including those on the “Trust and Safety Team,” that there are more strident calls for the government to exert greater control over Twitter. By way of example, I want to focus on a November 16 letter from the left-leaning Open Markets Institute (“OMI”) to the heads of the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Along with asking these government officials to investigate Mr. Musk’s take-over, OMI proposes to subject Twitter to stringent government control.

Claiming that Twitter is an “essential communications platform,” OMI says that “Twitter long ago proved it serves a unique and irreplaceable role in enabling citizens to communicate and debate key issues of the day.” It contends Twitter’s status as a “utility” is clear.

With Twitter denominated a public utility, it’s not a far leap for OMI to beseech government officials to protect “all communications and political debates” on Twitter from interference by Twitter’s executives, Board members, or employees. And according to OMI, Twitter should be required to enforce its terms of service “without prejudice or discrimination, in a completely transparent manner.” 

If taken literally, OMI is asking that Twitter be regulated in the same “common carrier-like” way that the conservative Texas legislature required when it enacted a law mandating that Twitter and other social media platforms not discriminate in their content moderation practices on the basis of “viewpoint.” And that Justice Clarence Thomas suggested might be appropriate two years ago in his concurring opinion in Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University. There, Justice Thomas took note of what he characterized as the dominant market positions of Twitter, Facebook, and Google, along with the fact that the latter two essentially are controlled by one or two persons. Of course, that’s now true of Twitter too, and it is this concentration of control in one person upon which OMI primarily bases its case for government regulation.

As I pointed out in Part 2 of this series, in his Knight First Amendment Institute opinion, Justice Thomas declared there is a “fair argument” that Twitter, Google, and Facebook could be deemed common carriers, including by laws enacted in the states, so that they would be prohibited from excluding lawful speech from their platforms. And he speculated that the Supreme Court soon would have “no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.”

If enough of his fellow justices agree, as widely suspected, to review the Fifth Circuit’s NetChoice, L.L.C. v. Paxton decision upholding the Texas law mandating that Twitter and other major social media platforms operate like common carriers, then Justice Thomas’s predilection for imposing common carriage obligations on the major platforms might prevail.

Given the excessive censorship in which Twitter and the other dominant social media platforms have engaged, I have considerable sympathy for the impulse motivating calls for common carrier-like regulation of the platforms. But as I said in Part 2, and elsewhere in this series, I have serious concerns about this supposed remedy.

Here’s the nub of the matter as I explained in Part 3:

“As traditionally applied, the core elements of common carriage – rate regulation and nondiscrimination mandates – stifle investment and innovation. And, in any event, the traditional criteria used to assess whether an entity is a common carrier don’t neatly fit the web platforms, or at least not all of them.”

So, rather than embracing the call by the Open Markets Institute, and presumably Justice Thomas too, for imposing common carrier-like control over the platforms’ censorship practices, I continue to prefer offering free market solutions to address my concerns. Previously, I’ve advocated that Twitter and other platforms incorporate explicit presumptions favoring free speech in their terms of service. This presumptive “free speech default” would provide that content will not be removed absent clear and convincing evidence that the speech violates some specific, clearly delineated content prohibition. Such a presumption may be embedded in Mr. Musk’s mind, but it also should be embedded in the terms of service so that it more readily becomes part of the corporate culture.

I’ve also urged Twitter and other sites to adopt additional consumer empowerment approaches that put tools in the hands of platform users to determine the parameters of the content they wish to access. If consumers are allowed to avail themselves of such “personalization” tools, they would be able to assume, to a much greater extent than at present, the content moderation function now performed by the platforms.

Rather than looking first to imposing common carrier-like or other government controls, it is preferable to look to free market approaches to address the problem of excessive censorship.

I wouldn’t necessarily bet my house on it, but Elon Musk, with his entrepreneurial bent, may just be able to succeed at making Twitter much more free speech-friendly, while at the same time avoiding what he has described as the “hellscape.”

Tyler Durden
Wed, 11/30/2022 – 18:25

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NYC To Start Involuntarily Hospitalizing Mentally Ill Homeless People

NYC To Start Involuntarily Hospitalizing Mentally Ill Homeless People

Following a steady stream of vicious attacks perpetrated by New York City’s homeless, Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday announced a new program that will involuntarily hospitalize people deemed a danger to themselves — regardless of whether they’ve demonstrated a risk to others.  

A statement from the mayor’s office said the policy targets an “ongoing crisis of individuals experiencing severe mental illnesses left untreated and unsheltered in New York City’s streets and subways.” At least 26 people have been shoved from NYC subway platforms this year alone — though not all the attacks were perpetrated by homeless people. 

Homeless man Simon Martial was arrested for shoving a woman to her death beneath a NY subway train in January (Jeff Bachner for New York Daily News

“The very nature of their illnesses keeps them from realizing they need intervention and support,” said Adams at a City Hall press conference. “Without that intervention, they remain lost and isolated from society, tormented by delusions and disordered thinking. They cycle in and out of hospitals and jails.”

Of course, there’s more to New York’s crime crisis than “mental health” issues. An overly-forgiving judicial system that returns violent criminals to the streets after a scolding is also to blame — but rounding up some of the bona fide lunatics for treatment could be a good thing for all concerned.  

According to the mayor’s office statement, Adams’ directive “seeks to dispel a persistent myth that the legal standard for involuntary intervention requires an ‘overt act’ demonstrating that the person is violent, suicidal, or engaging in outrageously dangerous behavior likely to result in imminent harm.”

“The common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent,” said Adams. The new program empowers both cops and medical workers to assess people in public spaces and authorize involuntary hospitalizations.

Hospital capacities have been cited as a limiting factor, but, pointing to a commitment by Governor Kathy Hochul to add 50 new psychiatric beds, Adams said, “We are going to find a bed for everyone.” Maybe, but, in a city of 8.5 million people, 50 beds doesn’t exactly sound like a game-changer.  

The new program is certain to invite legal challenges. Indeed, even the mayor’s policy directive to city agencies acknowledges that “case law does not provide extensive guidance regarding removals for mental health evaluations based on short interactions in the field.” 

It points, however, to a few key indicators that police and other first responders might use to involuntarily take homeless people into custody and into care: “serious untreated physical injury, unawareness or delusional misapprehension of surroundings, or unawareness or delusional misapprehension of physical condition or health.” 

The New York Civil Liberties Union’s Donna Lieberman was among the first to criticize the plan: “The Mayor is playing fast and loose with the legal rights of New Yorkers…The federal and state constitutions impose strict limits on the government’s ability to detain people experiencing mental illness — limits that the Mayor’s proposed expansion is likely to violate.” 

In his Tuesday remarks, Adams assured reporters that people wouldn’t be committed merely “because someone’s sitting on the train talking to themselves.” Rather, an “accumulation of factors” would be used by a “trained professional determine that this person is a danger to themselves because they can’t take care of their basic needs.”  

Next, Mayor Adams needs a plan to address scenarios where serial killers transfer their souls into dolls so they can attack unsuspecting people on the subway:  


Tyler Durden
Wed, 11/30/2022 – 18:05

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China And India Are Buying Russian Crude At A 40% Discount

China And India Are Buying Russian Crude At A 40% Discount

By Alex Kimani of

The European Union on Friday once again failed to reach an agreement on a price cap for Russian oil, with the bloc’s eastern-most members including Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania objecting that the proposed $60-$70 per barrel for Russian crude is too generous and well above the rates Russia currently sells crude.  

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis has acknowledged as much, saying, “If you put the price cap too high, it doesn’t really bite. Oil is the biggest source of revenue for the Russian budget, so it’s very important to get this right so it really has an impact on Russia’s ability to finance this war,” he told Bloomberg TV.

Well, they are right: offering $70 per barrel for Russian Urals is incredibly generous, considering that Bloomberg has just reported that China and India are currently getting them for half that price. 

According to Bloomberg’s oil strategist Julian Lee, Russia’s flagship Urals crude oil traded at a massive discount of $33.28, or about 40% to the international Brent crude oil, at the end of last week. In contrast, a year ago, Urals traded at a much smaller discount of $2.85 to Brent. Urals is the main blend exported by Russia. The result: Moscow is beginning to feel the heat of its war in Ukraine, and could be losing ~$4 billion a month in energy revenues as per Bloomberg’s calculations.

Washington is not losing sleep over it. “If Russian oil is going to be selling at bargain prices and we’re happy to have India get that bargain or Africa or China. It’s fine,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen previously told Reuters.

Shipping nations like Greece are in favor of a higher price cap that will help keep trade flowing. However, the situation could get even murkier for Russia with EU sanctions on Russian oil set to kick in on December 5, with disruptions to the market expected if a price cap is not in place. Meanwhile, Russia is reportedly drafting a presidential decree that would ban its companies and any traders from selling it to anyone that participates in a price cap.

Surging Imports From Russia

Previously, India was never a big buyer of Russian crude despite having to import 80% of its needs. In a typical year, India imports just 2-5% of its crude from Russia, roughly the same proportion as the United States did before it announced a 100% ban on Russian energy commodities. Indeed, India imported only 12 million barrels of Russian crude in 2021, with the majority of its oil sourced from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Nigeria.

But back in May, reports emerged of a “significant uptick” in Russian oil deliveries bound for India.

According to a Bloomberg report, India spent a good $5.1 billion on Russian oil, gas, and coal in the first three months after the invasion, more than five times the value of a year ago. However, China remains the biggest buyer of Russian energy commodities, spending $18.9 billion in the three months to the end of May, almost double the amount a year earlier.

And, it’s all about the money.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Urals crude has been offered at record discounts since the war began. In the early months after the war began, Ellen Wald, president of Transversal Consulting, told CNBC that a couple of commodity trading firms – such as Glencore and Vitol – were offering discounts of $30 and $25 per barrel, respectively, for the Urals blend. 

The experts say simple economics is the biggest reason why White House pressure to curb purchases of crude oil from Russia have fallen on deaf ears in Delhi.

“Today, the Government of India’s motivations are economic, not political. India will always look for a deal in their oil import strategy. It’s hard not to take a 20% discount on crude when you import 80-85% of your oil, particularly on the heels of the pandemic and global growth slowdown,” Samir N. Kapadia, head of trade at government relations consulting firm Vogel Group, told CNBC via email.

Still, it will not be lost on many readers that India has maintained a cozy relationship with Russia over the years, with Russia supplying the Asian nation with as much as 60% of its military and defense-related equipment. Russia has also been a key ally on crucial issues such as India’s dispute with China and Pakistan surrounding the territory of Kashmir.

But hey, India and China are not the only ones to blame here. Reports have emerged that whereas supplies of Russian pipeline gas – the bulk of Europe’s gas imports before the Ukraine war – are currently down to a trickle, Europe has been hungrily scooping up Russian LNG.

Europe has been working hard to wean itself off Russian energy commodities ever since the latter invaded Ukraine. The European Union has banned Russian coal and plans to block most Russian oil imports by the end of 2022 in a bid to deprive Moscow of an important source of revenue to wage its war in Ukraine.

But ditching Russian gas is proving to be more onerous than Europe would have hoped for. Whereas supplies of Russian pipeline gas – the bulk of Europe’s gas imports before the Ukraine war – are down to a trickle, Europe has been hungrily scooping up Russian LNG. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the bloc’s imports of Russian liquefied natural gas jumped by 41% Y/Y in the year through August.

Russian LNG has been the dark horse of the sanctions regime,” Maria Shagina, a research fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, has told WSJ. Importers of Russian LNG to Europe have argued that the shipments are not covered by current EU sanctions and that buying LNG from Russia and other suppliers has helped keep European energy prices in check.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 11/30/2022 – 17:45

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Zelensky ‘Invites’ Elon Musk To Visit Ukraine

Zelensky ‘Invites’ Elon Musk To Visit Ukraine

Only very recently Ukrainian government officials were blasting and taking jabs at Elon Musk, but now Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has “invited” the billionaire SpaceX (and more recently) Twitter CEO to Ukraine

Or rather, it’s looking like this “invitation” is itself another sarcastic jab in response to Musk’s unwavering position that compromise or negotiated settlement must be reached with Russia, in order to avoid unpredictable escalation which could spiral into WWIII. Any talk of battlefield or territorial compromise has ‘outraged’ Kiev.

Zelensky in a Wednesday appearance at The New York Time’s DealBook Summit – an event which funny enough (or sadly) also included a live interview with disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, urged Musk to come and see Ukraine “with your own eyes” in order to understand Russia’s actions there.

“If you want to understand what Russia has done here, come to Ukraine and you will see this with your own eyes without any extra words,” Zelensky said during the discussion. “And after that, you will tell us how to end this war, who started it and when we can end it.”

Zelensky also joined other Ukrainian officials in suggesting that Musk has been “influence” by the Kremlin, a baseless charge that was floated by some Western pundits after Musk in early October held a “Russia-Ukraine Peace” Twitter poll. 

According to more from The New York Times

During the interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The Times, the video link cut out, and when it resumed, Mr. Sorkin joked that Mr. Musk might have somehow cut the connection.

“I hear you,” Mr. Zelensky said. “Most important is that Mr. Musk will hear us.”

Mr. Zelensky said the risk that Mr. Putin would use nuclear weapons was not his biggest fear, and that it shouldn’t be the biggest fear of the West.

“I don’t think he will use nuclear weapons,” Mr. Zelensky said. “This is my opinion.”

As for Musk’s offending original sin, he had encouraged his over 100 million Twitter followers to vote on whether they think negotiated settlement to the war is a good idea or not, proposing a “redo” of referendums for the four annexed regions of eastern Ukraine which Vladimir Putin declared part of the Russian Federation last week. It would also be conditioned on Ukraine remaining neutral vis-a-vis future NATO membership. 

Of course, talk of territorial concessions outraged Ukraine officials and their supporters in the West, with an avalanche of blue check mainstream media pundits pouncing amid cries of Musk supposedly being ‘pro-Kremlin’. Soon after, Musk questioned whether SpaceX will continue providing Starlink for free to Ukrainian forces, unleashing more controversy. 

Tyler Durden
Wed, 11/30/2022 – 17:26

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Twitter Quits the Biden Administration’s Ham-Handed Crusade Against COVID-19 ‘Misinformation’

A picture of Elon Musk surrounded by the Twitter bird logo

Twitter recently announced that it will no longer enforce its ban on “COVID-19 misinformation,” a fuzzily defined category that ranged from demonstrably false assertions of fact to arguably or verifiably true statements that were deemed “misleading” or contrary to “guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information.” The change in policy, which users first noticed about a month after Elon Musk completed his acquisition of the company, is consistent with his avowed commitment to lighter moderation and more free-wheeling debate. But according to The Washington Post, “experts” are warning that “the move could have serious consequences in the midst of a still-deadly pandemic.”

That fear has always been the justification for restricting what people can say about COVID-19 on social media, and it is by no means groundless. If false claims deter medically vulnerable people from getting vaccinated or encourage the use of ineffective and potentially dangerous treatments, for example, the consequences could indeed be serious. But policies like the one Musk has ditched present two intersecting problems: Misinformation is an inherently nebulous concept, and private efforts to suppress it on any given platform are strongly influenced by government pressure.

Legal restrictions on COVID-related speech that go beyond recognized exceptions such as fraud and defamation would be plainly unconstitutional. But government officials can achieve similar results by publicly and privately demanding that social media companies do more to curtail the spread of “misinformation.”

Those demands involve not only more vigorous enforcement of existing rules but also expanded definitions of unacceptable speech. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have a strong incentive to comply with those “requests,” given all the ways that dissatisfied officials can make life difficult for them through castigation, regulation, litigation, and legislation. The upshot, to the extent that companies adopt stricter moderation practices than they otherwise would, is censorship by proxy.

That is exactly what we are seeing, according to a First Amendment lawsuit that Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed last May. Discovery in that case has revealed emails showing how keen executives at social media companies were to placate federal officials by suppressing speech they viewed as a threat to public health.

Twitter seems to have had an especially cozy relationship with the government’s misinformation hunters. “I’m looking forward to setting up regular chats,” said an April 8, 2021, message from Twitter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “My team has asked for examples of problematic content so we can examine trends.”

Twitter responded swiftly to the government’s censorship suggestions. “Thanks so much for this,” a Twitter official said in an April 16, 2021, email to the CDC. “We actioned (by labeling or removing) the Tweets in violation of our Rules.” The message, which was headed “Request for problem accounts,” was signed with “warmest” regards.

That same day, Deputy Assistant to the President Rob Flaherty sent colleagues an email about a “Twitter VaccineMisinfo Briefing” on Zoom. Flaherty said Twitter would inform “White House staff” about “the tangible effects seen from recent policy changes, what interventions are currently being implemented in addition to previous policy changes, and ways the White House (and our COVID experts) can partner in product work.”

Facebook likewise was eager to fall in line, especially after President Joe Biden accused the platform of “killing people” by allowing the spread of anti-vaccination messages. Such criticism was coupled with praise for companies that did what the Biden administration wanted. “In an advisory to technology platforms,” CNN notes, “US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy cited Twitter’s rules as an example of what companies should do to combat misinformation.”

That July 2021 advisory, published the day before Biden charged Facebook with homicide, called for a “whole-of-society” effort, possibly including “legal and regulatory measures,” to combat the “urgent threat to public health” posed by “health misinformation.” Murthy’s definition of “misinformation” was alarmingly broad and subjective.

“Defining ‘misinformation’ is a challenging task, and any definition has limitations,” the surgeon general wrote. “One key issue is whether there can be an objective benchmark for whether something qualifies as misinformation. Some researchers argue that for something to be considered misinformation, it has to go against ‘scientific consensus.’ Others consider misinformation to be information that is contrary to the ‘best available evidence.’ Both approaches recognize that what counts as misinformation can change over time with new evidence and scientific consensus. This Advisory prefers the ‘best available evidence’ benchmark since claims can be highly misleading and harmful even if the science on an issue isn’t yet settled.”

Twitter’s now-rescinded policy, which Murthy cited as a model, likewise deferred to the officially recognized consensus. “We have broadened our definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information,” the company said. “We are enforcing this in close coordination with trusted partners, including public health authorities and governments, and continue to use and consult with information from those sources when reviewing content.”

Under that test, any expression of dissent from official advice could be deemed misinformation. Twitter explicitly forbade “statements which are intended to influence others to violate recommended COVID-19 related guidance from global or local health authorities to decrease someone’s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19.” It specifically mentioned advice about masking and social distancing, both of which raise scientifically and politically contentious issues, especially when “guidance” inspires legal mandates.

Is questioning the benefits of general masking misinformation? (Yes, according to Twitter.) What about conceding the effectiveness of properly worn N95s while describing commonly used cloth masks as worthless? (Also misinformation, according to YouTube.)

If contradicting official advice is the criterion, questioning the scientific basis for requiring masks in schools or for maintaining a specific distance from other people likewise could count as misinformation. Even arguing that the costs of lockdowns outweighed their benefits might qualify, since those policies were aimed at enforcing social distancing.

Reasonable, well-informed people can and do disagree about such issues, based on different assessments of the “best available evidence,” which Murthy says is the key to distinguishing between misinformation and acceptable speech. And whatever the correct take might be today, it could be different tomorrow. As Murthy concedes, “what counts as misinformation can change over time with new evidence and scientific consensus.”

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conventional wisdom on subjects such as the utility of cloth face masks, the right distance for social distancing, isolation periods, intubation of patients, and the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing virus transmission has shifted repeatedly in response to emerging evidence. That process would be impossible if every deviation from the “scientific consensus” were deemed intolerable.

Fortunately, neither Twitter nor any other company has the power to enforce such conformity across the country. Thanks to the First Amendment, the government does not have that power either. The Biden administration’s ham-handed crusade against COVID-19 “misinformation” nevertheless aims to reduce the diversity of opinions that people can express on major social media platforms, encouraging policies that equate all skeptics and dissenters with crackpots and charlatans. Whatever you might think about other changes Musk has brought to Twitter, his refusal to participate in that scheme is a hopeful sign.

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Russian Dissenters Fleeing Putin Often Face Abusive Immigration Detention Upon Arrival in the US

Immigration Detention

In my last post, I highlighted David Bier’s helpful summary of the major ways in which the Biden Administration has improved immigration policy. But one area where Biden has fallen woefully short is the treatment of Russians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s increasingly repressive dictatorship. A recent New York Times article reports that Russian political dissenters who enter the US to seek asylum are often subjected to prolonged and cruel detention:

As Vladimir Putin cracks down on dissidents and arrests draft dodgers, growing numbers of Russians are making their way across the U.S. southern border. But contrary to their expectations of asylum and freedom, many of them are being put into immigration detention centers that resemble prisons….

Everyone who touches American soil has the right to claim asylum, though it is granted only to those who can prove they were persecuted in their home country based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Many asylum seekers are released and allowed to argue their cases later in court. But thousands are sent to detention centers, where it is difficult to secure lawyers and collect evidence, and the chances of winning asylum are extremely slim….

“Proportionately, compared to people from other countries, there are more Russians being sent to detention,” said Svetlana Kaff, a San Francisco-based immigration lawyer who said she has been flooded with requests for help….

[M]any said they had come to the United States thinking they would be welcomed as allies in America’s push for democracy in Russia and Ukraine.

Olga Nikitina, who fled Russia with her husband after he was imprisoned there multiple times, spent five months in the same facility as Ms. Shemiatina. “The whole time I was there, they treated us like garbage,” said Ms. Nikitina, 33. “I called hotlines, but it did not help in any way….”

Ivan Sokolovski, 25, another activist, has been held at Pine Prairie for seven months. He recently lost his asylum case and said he fears that he will be deported to his death. “It would have been more humane to be shot dead at the border than to be held in prison so long,” he said….

Russian asylum-seekers interviewed said they have been at the mercy of guards who treat them with indifference and, not infrequently, hostility….


Conditions in immigration detention centers are sufficiently bad that one Russian dissenter who experienced them told the Times that “I came to realize that I had left Russia for a place that was just like Russia.”

Without more extensive data, it is not clear whether Russian asylum seekers are subjected to especially bad treatment because of their nationality, or whether they are “merely” being subjected to abuse at same rate as other asylum seekers. But, either way, the situation is unconscionable.

The ultimate solution to the plight of asylum seekers to is a major general liberalization of immigration policy that would make the process of entering the US legally much easier, more accessible, and faster. But even within the confines of the current system, there are many more humane alternatives to prolonged immigration detention.

In previous writings, I have explained in some detail why opening Western doors to Russians fleeing Putin is the right policy on moral, strategic, and economic grounds (see here, here, and here). Doing so would simultaneously rescue people from horrific oppression, promote US economic growth and scientific innovation, deprive Putin of valuable manpower, and give us a leg up in the the international war of ideas against Putin’s regime. The case has been furthered strengthened by Putin’s “partial mobilization” order, which subjects hundreds of thousands of Russians to the grave injustice of conscription for the purpose of waging an unjust war. The main beneficiary of US mistreatment of Russian refugees is Vladimir Putin, who can use it to bolster his claims that the West is hostile to Russians, as such.

I have also criticized the argument that we should bar Russians because they are responsible for the war in Ukraine. The same goes for the more general claim that citizens of unjust regimes have a duty to stay home and “fix their own countries.”

Because I am a Russian Jewish immigrant myself, some may suspect that I am advocating for Russians fleeing Putin out of some sort of ethnic or racial sympathy or bias. Not so.  I have also long advocated for openness to Ukrainian refugees, as well. In a previous post, I listed some of my extensive writings advocating for opening Western doors to predominantly non-white groups of migrants and refugees. Since then, I have also written this piece on the case for opening Western doors to Chinese fleeing their governments cruel “Zero Covid” policies and other repression.









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Biden Considers Calling On Congress To Boost Heating Oil Supplies As Winter Nears

Biden Considers Calling On Congress To Boost Heating Oil Supplies As Winter Nears

White House officials told CNBC’s Kayla Tausche about a new plan to call on members of Congress to increase heating oil supplies this winter. 

“As we just reported, the White House is considering calling on Congress to double a cap on heating oil storage to build up reserves over the winter, sources tell me,” Tausche tweeted Wednesday morning. 

She continued:

 “US officials also weighing future SPR drawdowns in the new year if prices spike post-embargo/price cap.” 

The proposal comes as a significant supply crunch of heating oil has hit the Northeast and driven prices to levels unbearable for many households. Last week, Reuters reported the White House was mulling over a plan to increase inventories in the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve. 

Two sources told Reuters the plan could “involve directing revenue from future crude oil sales of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to purchase heating oil for the northeast reserves.” 

There was no further explanation by Tausche on what exactly “double a cap on heating oil storage” means. 

Readers have been well informed about the diesel crunch hitting US markets and the world

 “Within months, almost every region on the planet will face a danger of a diesel shortage just as supply crunches in nearly all the world’s markets have worsened inflation and hurt growth,” Bloomberg wrote last week. 

And now it appears anti-fossil fuel Biden administration is scrambling for heating oil and diesel as supplies are expected to tighten as the cold season finally arrives.  

Tyler Durden
Wed, 11/30/2022 – 15:29

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Eric Adams’ Plan To Involuntarily Hospitalize Mentally Ill Homeless People Will Face Legal Challenges

New York City Mayor Eric Adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday that he is directing police and other first-responders to remove people with severe mental illness from the city’s streets for involuntary psychiatric evaluations and hospitalizations, but the new policy will almost certainly face legal challenges from civil liberties groups, who say it tramples on well-established constitutional rights.

In remarks yesterday, Adams, who has also ordered aggressive clearings of homeless encampments in the city, characterized the new policy as a way to ensure mentally ill people on the streets receive compassionate care.

“The man standing all day on the street across from the building he was evicted from 25 years ago waiting to be let in; the shadow boxer on the street corner in Midtown, mumbling to himself as he jabs at an invisible adversary; the unresponsive man unable to get off the train at the end of the line without assistance from our mobile crisis team: These New Yorkers and hundreds of others like them are in urgent need of treatment and often refuse it when offered,” Adams said.

Adams’ policy directive states that, “If the circumstances support an objectively reasonable basis to conclude that the person appears to have a mental illness and cannot support their basic human needs to an extent that causes them harm, they may be removed for an evaluation.”

The policy relies on an expanded interpretation of New York’s mental health laws, which allow judges to compel someone with serious mental illness to take medication or undergo supervised psychiatric treatment if two physicians determine that the person’s mental illness is “likely to result in serious harm to himself or others.”

“The common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent,” Adams said. “Going forward, we will make every effort to assist those who are suffering from mental illness.”

However, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a press release that Adams proposed expansion is “likely to violate” state and federal constitutional limits on when people with mental illness can be involuntarily committed.

“The Mayor is playing fast and loose with the legal rights of New Yorkers and is not dedicating the resources necessary to address the mental health crises that affect our communities,” Lieberman said.

Adams’ policy directive itself notes that “case law does not provide extensive guidance regarding removals for mental health evaluations based on short interactions in the field.”

The Supreme Court ruled in the landmark 1975 case O’Connor v. Donaldson that mental illness alone is not a justification for indefinite custodial confinement, and that “a State cannot confine, without more, a nondangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by himself or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends.” 

“May the State fence in the harmless mentally ill solely to save its citizens from exposure to those whose ways are different?” Justice Stewart Potter wrote in the Court’s majority opinion. “…Mere public intolerance or animosity cannot constitutionally justify the deprivation of a person’s liberty interest.”

Since the ruling in O’Connor v. Donaldson, most state’s laws surrounding involuntary psychiatric evaluations and commitments require that the person be a danger to themselves or others. Adams is also calling on the state legislature to amend New York’s involuntary commitment law, Kendra’s Law, to clarify that “likely to result in serious harm” encompasses basic survival needs such as shelter and food.

Such a change could have broad implications for homeless and disability rights, and give the state much more power to confine people against their will.

The NYCLU already opposes Kendra’s Law in its current form. The organization argues the law unconstitutionally expanded the circumstances under which the state can compel people against their will to undergo mental health treatment.

Civil liberties advocates are also worried that police are not qualified to determine on the spot when someone is mentally ill and unable to care for themselves. 

“I’m also concerned about when someone out on the street, a police officer makes the determination that someone because they smell, because they haven’t had a shower for weeks, because their clothes are disheveled, they’re mumbling to themselves. That in and of itself doesn’t mean that you’re a danger to yourself or others, or even under the watered-down standard that it means that you’re likely to result in serious harm to yourself or others,” civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel told Gothamist.

The potential for police abuse is not hypothetical; it’s happened before. In 2009, NYPD officers raided the apartment of fellow officer Adrian Schoolcraft after Schoolcraft blew the whistle on illegal quotas in his precinct. Schoolcraft’s brothers in blue then had him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward for six days. They also made a challenge coin celebrating their handiwork, which depicted Schoolcraft as a squealing rat in a straitjacket being hauled off in the back of an ambulance.

The only likely delay in a legal challenge to Adams’ new policy will be the time it takes advocacy groups to find a client affected by it, and they won’t have to wait long.

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Kansas Judge Blocks Law Banning Telemedicine Prescriptions for Medication Abortions

Pills being shaken out of the bottle into someone's hand

Last Wednesday, a district court judge in Kansas temporarily blocked a law that banned doctors in the state from prescribing abortion pills to patients using telemedicine. While the ruling is likely to be appealed, pro-choice advocates see the decision as a step forward in increasing access to abortion in a state where many women may live hours from the nearest clinic and where many abortion providers are inundated with out-of-state patients.

In 2019, Trust Women, a chain of abortion clinics that has a location in Wichita, filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against two Kansas laws that banned doctors in the state from prescribing abortion pills to be taken at home and requiring that patients take the drugs at a treatment location with the prescribing physician present. In its lawsuit, the clinic argued that the state laws—the one mentioned above and another that removed protections for telemedicine abortions from an existing telemedicine law—violated women’s right to obtain an abortion guaranteed by the state constitution. (A ballot measure intended to remove that protection from the constitution was rejected by voters in August.)

In their lawsuit, Trust Women argue that medication abortion is safer for pregnant patients than taking “Tylenol, penicillin, or Viagra.” Taking the drugs without physician supervision is low risk. The clinic’s suit says that the success rate for medication abortion is slightly higher among telemedicine patients than in-person ones. Increasing access to medication for abortion also reduces more dangerous procedures. As Trust Women wrote in an appellant brief, “telemedicine expands abortion access earlier in pregnancy when it is safer, thereby furthering public health and reducing second-trimester abortions.”

The Kansas District Court in Shawnee County originally sided with the state and against the plaintiffs. However, the clinic appealed two of the Court’s three decisions in the case to the Kansas Court of Appeals, which sided with the clinic and remanded the case back to the Shawnee County District Court. Last Wednesday, the District Court, in compliance with the Appeals court’s ruling, granted the Trust Women’s request for an injunction against a state law that required doctors to be in the same room as a patient taking abortion pills and reinstated the claims against the lawsuit’s defendants. While the decision leaves abortion-related sections of a state telemedicine law intact, it nonetheless secures a crucial victory for medication abortion access in the state.

“Expanding access to abortion care through telemedicine is a critical component of addressing the health care needs of our region, especially in the face of the manufactured health care crisis caused by abortion bans in Texas and Oklahoma, and backed by the disastrous decision by the Supreme Court in Dobbs,” Trust Women co-executive director Rebecca Tong said in a statement. “Access to telemedicine services for Kansans will go a long way to easing the strain on our reproductive health care systems in the state.”

While this case’s journey through the legal system is likely far from over, for now, Kansas women can more easily exercise their state right to an abortion.

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