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Sen. Whitehouse’s Ethics Complaint Against Justice Alito

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) lodged an ethics complaint against Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and implored Chief Justice John Roberts to “adopt a uniform process to address this complaint and others that may arise against any justice in the future.”

The letter came precisely one month after a coalition of 10 Democratic senators, Whitehouse among them, wrote to Roberts with similar concerns about Alito and the high court’s ethics.

Whitehouse’s new complaint stemmed from an interview Alito gave to attorney David Rivkin and Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto for a July 28 opinion piece published in the conservative newspaper.

In addition to writing for The Wall Street Journal, Rivkin is a lawyer for Leonard Leo, the former Federalist Society chief whose links to conservative billionaires and justices like Thomas have made him a target of the Senate Finance Committee’s probe.

Whitehouse argued the timing of the piece was suspicious and suggested “coordination with Mr. Rivkin’s efforts to block our inquiry.”

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Sen. Whitehouse Calls For Ethics Probe Into Supreme Court Justice Alito

Total Abortion Bans

Between 1973 and 2005, over 400 women were arrested for miscarriage in the U.S. With the current shift toward restrictive abortion policies, the continued criminalization of pregnancies that don’t result in birth, despite how common they are, is a growing concern.
Twenty-two states now ban abortion or restrict the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe v. Wade, which governed reproductive rights for nearly half a century until the Supreme Court overturned the decision last year.

Twenty-two states now ban abortion or restrict the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe v. Wade, which governed reproductive rights for nearly half a century until the Supreme Court overturned the decision last year.

By Kathryn Kavanagh, Associate Professor of Biology, UMass Dartmouth

Many state legislatures are seriously considering human embryos at the earliest stages of development for legal personhood. Total abortion bans that consider humans to have full rights from the moment of conception have created a confusing legal domain that affects a wide range of areas, including assisted reproductive technologies, contraception, essential medical care, and parental rights, among others.

However, an important biological feature of human embryos has been left out of a lot of ethical and even scientific discussion informing reproductive policy – most human embryos die before anyone, including doctors, even know they exist. This embryo loss typically occurs in the first two months after fertilization, before the clump of cells has developed into a fetus with immature forms of the body’s major organs. Total abortion bans that define personhood at conception mean that full legal rights exist for a 5-day-old blastocyst, a hollow ball of cells roughly 0.008 inches (0.2 millimeters) across with a high likelihood of disintegrating within a few days.

As an evolutionary biologist whose career has focused on how embryos develop in a wide variety of species over the course of evolution, I was struck by the extraordinarily high likelihood that most human embryos die due to random genetic errors. Around 60% of embryos disintegrate before people may even be aware that they are pregnant. Another 10% of pregnancies end in miscarriage after the person knows they’re pregnant. These losses make clear that the vast majority of human embryos don’t survive to birth.

The emerging scientific consensus is that a high rate of early embryo loss is a common and normal occurrence in people. Research on the causes and evolutionary reasons for early embryo loss provides insight into this fundamental feature of human biology and its implications for reproductive health decisions.

Intrinsic embryo loss is common in mammals

Intrinsic embryo loss, or embryo death due to internal factors like genetics, is common in many mammals, such as cows and sheep. This persistent “reproductive wastage” has frustrated breeders attempting to increase livestock production but who are unable to eliminate high embryonic mortality.

In contrast, most embryo loss in animals that lay eggs like fish and frogs is due to external factors, such as predators, disease, or other environmental threats. These lost embryos are effectively “recycled” in the ecosystem as food. These egg-laying animals have little to no intrinsic embryo loss.

Each square shows the first 24 hours of embryo development in a different animal species. From left to right: 1. zebrafish (Danio rerio), 2. sea urchin (Lytechinus variegatus), 3. black widow spider (Latrodectus), 4. tardigrade (Hypsibius dujardini), 5. sea squirt (Ciona intestinalis), 6. comb jelly (Ctenophore, Mnemiopsis leidyi), 7. parchment tube worm (Chaetopterus variopedatus), 8. roundworm (Caenorhabditis elegans), and 9. slipper snail (Crepidula fornicata).

In people, the most common outcome of reproduction by far is embryo loss due to random genetic errors. An estimated 70% to 75% of human conceptions fail to survive to birth. That number includes both embryos that are reabsorbed into the parent’s body before anyone knows an egg has been fertilized and miscarriages that happen later in the pregnancy.

An evolutionary drive for embryo loss

In humans, an evolutionary force called meiotic drive plays a role in early embryo loss. The meiotic drive is a type of competition within the genome of unfertilized eggs, where variations of different genes can manipulate the cell division process to favor their own transmission to the offspring over other variations.

Statistical models attempting to explain why most human embryos fail to develop usually start by observing that a massive number of random genetic errors occur in the mother’s eggs even before fertilization.

When sperm fertilize eggs, the resulting embryo’s DNA is packaged into 46 chromosomes – 23 from each parent. This genetic information guides the embryo through the development process as its cells divide and grow. When random mistakes occur during chromosome replication, fertilized eggs can inherit cells with these errors and result in a condition called aneuploidy, which essentially means “the wrong number of chromosomes.” With the instructions for development now disorganized due to mixed-up chromosomes, embryos with aneuploidy are usually doomed.

As many as three out of four human embryos naturally die in the development process. Red Hayabusa/iStock via Getty Images Plus


Because human and other mammal embryos are highly protected from environmental threats – unlike animals that lay eggs outside their bodies – researchers have theorized that these early losses have little effect on the reproductive success of the parent. This may allow humans and other mammals to tolerate meiotic drive over evolutionary time.

Counterintuitively, there may even be benefits to the high rates of genetic errors that result in embryo loss. Early loss of aneuploid embryos can direct maternal resources to healthier single newborns rather than twins or multiples. Also, in the deeper evolutionary history of a species, having a huge pool of genetic variants could occasionally provide a beneficial new adaptation that could aid in human survival in changing environments.

Sorry, Your Paper Coffee Cup Is a Toxic Nightmare

Supposedly eco-friendly cups are still coated with a thin layer of plastic, which scientists have discovered can leach chemicals that harm living creatures.

Leaching chemicals isn’t just a problem when paper cups are littered—it can begin when a cup is used. In 2019, a research group from India filled paper cups with hot water to see if plastic particles or chemicals were released. “What came as a surprise to us was the number of microplastic particles that leached into the hot water within 15 minutes,” Anuja Joseph, a research scholar at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, wrote in an email. On average, there were 25,000 particles per 100 ml cup. The researchers also found traces of harmful chemicals and heavy metals in the water and plastic lining, respectively.

A recently published study shows that paper cups can be just as toxic as conventional plastic ones if they end up littered in our natural environment. Seemingly eco-friendly paper cups are coated with a thin layer of plastic to keep their contents from seeping into the paper, and this lining can emit toxic substances.

“Reusable” cups aren’t necessarily much better when it comes to leaching, as they are often made of plastic; heat and wear accelerate leaching, and acidic drinks like coffee absorb chemicals more easily. The carbon footprint of reusable plastic cups is also disputable: A reusable cup has to be used between 20 and 100 times to offset its greenhouse gas emissions compared to a disposable one, according to some estimates. Blame the high amount of energy needed to make the reusable cup durable and the hot water needed to wash it. That said, a reusable plastic cup at least has the potential to last longer and is easier to recycle.


Sorry, Your Paper Coffee Cup Is a Toxic Nightmare

Clarence Thomas is an Inferior Justice — and He Knows it

And now Black America will be punished for it.

David Saint Vincent  David St. Vincent

I do not publicize this conclusion lightly. I am painfully aware of the historical stereotype about the intellectual capacities of Black men in America. As much as anyone can in the modern theater, I have lived the experience fully. But after thorough examination over an extended period of time, it is abundantly clear that Clarence Thomas, despite his high position, is not a man of high intellect. At the bottom, in a room full of people with high intelligence, Thomas is objectively inferior. And nobody knows that better than he does. If you find that assertion difficult to accept, Thomas’ public presentations of late should make that a lot easier for you.

So while people of good conscience are working to build something good out of the wreckage left behind by the worst Black man in American public life this side of Herschel Walker, we can hopefully be buoyed by the knowledge that history has always called upon legitimately smart people to clean up the mess left by all the rest.

Let me be clear: It is absolutely fine to be a man of unremarkable intellect; unless of course you aspire to, and attain, one of the few positions in America where your intellect will always be on display for the entire country to scrutinize at will. And again, Thomas knows that quite well. He is and has been since law school, deeply fearful of how he sounds speaking in the presence of White people. This man was so afraid of how he articulated himself, that it would eventually expose his intellectual limitations, that for ten full Supreme Court terms starting in 2006, he sat silently on the bench, asking no questions of the attorneys presenting their cases. He may as well have been sitting there leering at the pornographic magazines he has such an affection for. For all practical purposes, he was a prop: a big, black, male prop, wearing that black robe and all its powers with it.

So while people of good conscience are working to build something good out of the wreckage left behind by the worst Black man in American public life this side of Herschel Walker, we can hopefully be buoyed by the knowledge that history has always called upon legitimately smart people to clean up the mess left by all the rest.

Clarence Thomas is an Inferior Justice – and He Knows it

Call it What it Is. White Terrorism

Ryan Palmeter, armed with an AR-15 style rifle and handgun
The three victims were identified on Sunday by Sheriff T.K. Waters of Jacksonville as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr., known as A.J., 29, who worked at the store; and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 19.

“He took that opportunity to put his bulletproof vest on outside and to put his mask on outside and then proceed to the store where he committed this horrible act,” Waters told the press. Sherri Onks, a special agent for the FBI in Jacksonville, said they “opened a federal civil rights investigation” and “will pursue this incident as a hate crime.” While this language sounds reassuring, the shooter killed himself. So, while we will likely learn more about the self-avowed white supremacist in the coming days, their investigation will unlikely result in any arrests since evidence suggests he acted alone. The weapon he used, an AR-15 style rifle, had swastikas drawn on them with white paint, and according to Waters, the gunman’s manifesto said, “He wanted to kill niggers.” Since World War II, the swastika has become a popular symbol for white supremacists, who admire the heinous crimes committed by Nazis.

Perhaps one of the most terrifying aspects of this entire ordeal is the negligence of Americans to identify this as an act of terror. If we make the mistake, as in the past, of describing the event as a one-off, we’ll miss the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about the danger of endorsing racist beliefs. Killing Black people and leaving a manifesto encouraging more acts of violence is more than a hate crime. It’s terrorism, and it’s high time we describe it as such.

Despite this White man’s decision to hunt down Black people in their communities, America is reluctant to identify this problem as white terrorism. When a Muslim man commits a crime, Americans readily call this an act of terror. When a Black man commits a crime, journalists readily describe the event as gang-related. Yet, when a White man commits a crime, despite revealing ties to white supremacists, he is often described as crazy or irrational rather than acknowledging his violence is tied to something bigger. When a White person kills Black people in this country, it’s evident that he is not truly acting alone. He is, along with other racists, creating a hostile environment, actively terrorizing Black people in their homes, their schools, their local stores, and communities.


Why is America So Reluctant to Call These Murders White Terrorism?

Beware the Logical Fallacies

Beware The Logical FallacyA logical fallacy is an argument that can be disproven through reasoning. This is different from a subjective argument or one that can be disproven with facts; for a position to be a logical fallacy, it must be logically flawed or deceptive in some way.

You’ll find logical fallacies just about anywhere you find people debating and using rhetoric, especially in spaces that aren’t academic or professional in nature. In fact, we can almost guarantee that you’ve encountered logical fallacies on social media, especially in the comments under divisive posts. But remember that they can and often do appear in academic writing, especially in the kinds of writing where the author has to defend a position, like argumentative essays and persuasive writing. They can even show up in expository writing.

The best way to avoid making logical fallacies in your own writing is to familiarize yourself with them and learn how to recognize them. That way, they’ll stick out to you when you’re reading your first draft, and you’ll see exactly where your writing needs thoughtful revision.

What are 15 common types of logical fallacies?

As you’ll see below, there are a lot of ways an argument can be flawed. Take a look at fifteen of the most commonly used logical fallacies.

1 Ad hominem

An ad hominem fallacy is one that attempts to invalidate an opponent’s position based on a personal trait or fact about the opponent rather than through logic.

Example: Katherine is a bad choice for mayor because she didn’t grow up in this town.

2 Red herring

A red herring is an attempt to shift focus from the debate at hand by introducing an irrelevant point.

Example: Losing a tooth can be scary, but have you heard about the Tooth Fairy?

3 Straw man

A straw man argument is one that argues against a hyperbolic, inaccurate version of the opposition rather than their actual argument.

Example: Erin thinks we need to stop using all plastics, right now, to save the planet from climate change.

4 Equivocation

An equivocation is a statement crafted to mislead or confuse readers or listeners by using multiple meanings or interpretations of a word or simply through unclear phrasing.

Example: While I have a clear plan for the campus budget that accounts for every dollar spent, my opponent simply wants to throw money at special interest projects.

5 Slippery slope

With a slippery slope fallacy, the arguer claims a specific series of events will follow one starting point, typically with no supporting evidence for this chain of events.

Example: If we make an exception for Bijal’s service dog, then other people will want to bring their dogs. Then everybody will bring their dog, and before you know it, our restaurant will be overrun with dogs, their slobber, their hair, and all the noise they make, and nobody will want to eat here anymore.

6 Hasty generalization

A hasty generalization is a statement made after considering just one or a few examples rather than relying on more extensive research to back up the claim. It’s important to keep in mind that what constitutes sufficient research depends on the issue at hand and the statement being made about it.

Example: I felt nauseated both times I ate pizza from Georgio’s, so I must be allergic to something in pizza.

7 Appeal to authority

In an appeal to authority, the arguer claims an authority figure’s expertise to support a claim despite this expertise being irrelevant or overstated.

Example: If you want to be healthy, you need to stop drinking coffee. I read it on a fitness blog.

8 False dilemma

A false dilemma, also known as a false dichotomy, claims there are only two options in a given situation. Often, these two options are extreme opposites of each other, failing to acknowledge that other, more reasonable, options exist.

Example: If you don’t support my decision, you were never really my friend.

9 Bandwagon fallacy

With the bandwagon fallacy, the arguer claims that a certain action is the right thing to do because it’s popular.

Example: It’s fine to wait until the last minute to write your paper. Everybody does it!

10 Appeal to ignorance

An appeal to ignorance is a claim that something must be true because it hasn’t been proven false. It can also be a claim that something must be false because it hasn’t been proven true. This is also known as the burden of proof fallacy.

Example: There must be fairies living in our attic because nobody’s ever proven that there aren’t fairies living in our attic.

11 Circular argument

A circular argument is one that uses the same statement as both the premise and the conclusion. No new information or justification is introduced.

Example: Peppers are the easiest vegetable to grow because I think peppers are the easiest vegetable to grow.

12 Sunk cost fallacy

With the sunk cost fallacy, the arguer justifies their decision to continue a specific course of action by the amount of time or money they’ve already spent on it.

Example: I’m not enjoying this book, but I bought it, so I have to finish reading it.

13 Appeal to pity

An appeal to pity attempts to sway a reader’s or listener’s opinion by provoking them emotionally.

Example: I know I should have been on time for the interview, but I woke up late and felt really bad about it, then the stress of being late made it hard to concentrate on driving here.

14 Causal Fallacy

A causal fallacy is one that implies a relationship between two things where one can’t actually be proven.

Example: When ice cream sales are up, so are shark attacks. Therefore, buying ice cream increases your risk of being bitten by a shark.

15 Appeal to hypocrisy

An appeal to hypocrisy, also known as a tu quoque fallacy, is a rebuttal that responds to one claim with reactive criticism rather than with a response to the claim itself.

Example: “You don’t have enough experience to be the new leader.” “Neither do you!”

Although this list covers the most commonly seen logical fallacies, it’s not exhaustive. Other logical fallacies include the no true Scotsman fallacy (“New Yorkers fold their pizza, so you must not really be from New York if you eat yours with utensils.”) and the Texas sharpshooter fallacy (cherry-picking data to support a claim rather than drawing a logical conclusion from a broad body of evidence).


Leonard Leo’s In Trouble

Dark money goon Leonard LeoLeonard Leo, everybody’s favorite dark money goon, is under scrutiny: Politico reported that  Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb has launched an investigative probe into his sinister network of nonprofit groups.

The Lever has reported extensively on Leo’s shady shenanigans. From stacking the Supreme Court to bankrolling climate denial, eviscerating abortion protections, and championing the right to discriminate, the man truly does it all. But he might finally be starting to get his comeuppance. The probe follows increased media scrutiny and comes after a progressive watchdog group filed a complaint against Leo with the attorney general and the IRS.

Best known as Donald Trump’s White House “court whisperer,” Leo played a behind-the-scenes role in the nominations of all three of the former president’s Supreme Court justices and promoted them through his multi-billion-dollar network of nonprofits. Trump chose his three Supreme Court picks, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, from a list drawn up by Leo. More recently, Leo was the beneficiary of a $1.6 billion contribution, believed to be the biggest political donation in U.S. history.

It’s unclear what the scope of the investigation will be, or how much power the attorney general has to halt Leo’s influence. But hopefully, the move will bring increased scrutiny to the outsized power Leo holds over the conservative legal movement. At the very least, maybe it’ll make him sweat.

D.C. Attorney General is probing Leonard Leo’s network

Blocking discussions about racism maintains white privilege

What don’t they want you to know, and why (ASALH)


Allison Wiltz

Too much emphasis has been put on the “fears” of White parents who do not want students to learn about America’s legacy of racism. In recent years, numerous school districts put their voices on a pedestal, drowning out the voices of Black parents and those from other marginalized groups. They act as if children who learn about figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ida B. Wells or historical events like Tulsa Race Massacre will melt like the wicked witch when Dorthy tossed a bucket of water on her. In all reality, no one has ever died from learning black history, nor has anyone turned into a puddle on the floor. So why are so many White parents treating black history like the villain in American society?

While personal motivations may vary, White people benefit from maintaining the status quo in America, where they are more likely to own a home, run a business, and have access to clean air and water, properly-funded schools, and hospitals. Privilege shields White people from the harsh realities that Black people experience, and by banning books that shed light on these disparities, some are hoping to stitch a quilt of plausible deniability. As long as White people can claim they’re unaware of Black Americans’ second-class citizenship, they can justify blocking any effort to close the Grand Canyon-sized gap as a product of their ignorance rather than cruelty. If students learned about Black history and understood how the chattel slavery system perpetuates racial disparities in American society, it would be much more difficult to (1) openly oppose restorative justice for descendants of enslaved people and (2) demonize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

The Real Reason White Parents Claim Black History is Scary

New tapes show the fake electors plot goes back to before the election was held

In an exclusive video obtained by “The Beat with Ari Melber,” Trump adviser and ally Roger Stone is seen pushing a plot to overthrow the 2020 Election. In this report, Melber, MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent, breaks the exclusive news and reports on its wider context amidst several election probes and indictments.

Jack Smith and the DC indictment of Trump for trying to overturn a free and fair election puts the beginning of the plot to steal our republic on November 18th. New reporting from MSNBC, however, based on recordings of Roger Stone bragging about how that was exactly what they intended to do, puts the start of the plot on November 5th, two days before America even finished voting on election day (November 7, 2020). You may remember that after the 2016 election, we discovered that Stone and Trump had registered a “Stop The Steal” website in anticipation of losing to Hillary Clinton: they fully intended to run this scam against her back then but didn’t have to because Putin’s 29 million targeted Facebook posts and ads had their desired effect on about 70,000 people in 5 swing states. And Roger Stone had every reason to believe it would have worked in 2016 and 2020 because it worked for him and George W. Bush in 2000.

Stone was on the ground in Miami helping organize the “Stop the Steal” protests that succeeded in getting five Republicans on the US Supreme Court (based on legal arguments written by then-Bush campaign attorneys John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett) to stop the Florida ballot recount and award the election to Bush.

You’ll recall that Roger Stone was already convicted of three felonies (witness tampering, lying to Congress, and obstructing an official proceeding) around Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election but Trump pardoned him. Will he be indicted for what we now know about his earlier November 5th role in this effort to corrupt our republic? Mainly since he’s been doing dirty tricks like this for Republicans since he, Paul Manafort, and Lee Atwater worked for Richard Nixon?

Stay tuned.

MSNBC airs exclusive earlier video evidence for fake elector plot. Cheese, Bro… It’s Roger Stone

Friends of the Court

“We are in a society where everything is quid pro quo,” Thomas said

During his three decades on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas has enjoyed steady access to a lifestyle most Americans can only imagine. A cadre of industry titans and ultrawealthy executives have treated him to far-flung vacations aboard their yachts, ushered him into the premium suites at sporting events and sent their private jets to fetch him — including, on more than one occasion, an entire 737. It’s a stream of luxury that is both more extensive and from a wider circle than has been previously understood.

Like clockwork, Thomas’ leisure activities have been underwritten by benefactors who share the ideology that drives his jurisprudence. Their gifts include:

At least 38 destination vacations, including a previously unreported voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas; 26 private jet flights, plus an additional eight by helicopter; a dozen VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, typically perched in the skybox; two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica; and one standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club overlooking the Atlantic coast.

Do you have any tips on the Supreme Court? Brett Murphy can be reached by email at and by Signal or WhatsApp at 508-523-5195. Justin Elliott can be reached by email at or by Signal or WhatsApp at 774-826-6240. Josh Kaplan can be reached by email at and by Signal or WhatsApp at 734-834-9383.

This accounting of Thomas’ travel, revealed for the first time here from an array of previously unavailable information, is the fullest to date of the generosity that has regularly afforded Thomas a lifestyle far beyond what his income could provide. And it is almost certainly an undercount.

Clarence Thomas’ 38 Vacations: The Other Billionaires Who Have Treated the Supreme Court Justice to Luxury Travel

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