Month: May 2020

Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services; Roberts sides with liberals

A divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal by a California church that challenged state limits on attendance at worship services that have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Over the dissent of the four more conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in turning away a request from the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area. The church argued that limits on how many people can attend their services violate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and had been seeking an order in time for services on Sunday. The church said it has crowds of 200 to 300 people for its services. Roberts wrote in brief opinion that the restriction allowing churches to reopen at 25% of their capacity, with no more than 100 worshipers at a time, “appear consistent” with the First Amendment. Roberts said similar or more severe limits apply to concerts, movies and sporting events “where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in dissent that the restriction “discriminates against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment.” Kavanaugh pointed to supermarkets, restaurants, hair salons, cannabis dispensaries and other businesses that are not subject to the same restrictions. Lower courts in California had previously turned down the churches’ requests. The court also rejected an appeal from two churches in the Chicago area that objected to Gov. Jay Pritzker’s limit of 10 worshipers at religious services. Before the court acted, Pritzker modified the restrictions to allow for up to 100 people at a time. There were no recorded dissents.

Navy builds 10 new heavily armed frigate warships

The Navy’s vision and mission scope for its emerging new combat-capable frigate includes the ability to destroy swarming small boat attacks, operate undersea and aerial drones, support carrier strike groups, conduct disaggregated operations, attack enemies with an over-the-horizon missile and engage in advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare. These plans for the ship are taking a large step forward, following the Navy’s recent ship development award to Marinette Marine Corp. for up to 10 new Guided Missile Frigates (FFX(X)). Concepts for the ship include an advanced, heavily armed frigate with a stronger, reinforced hull, space armor, over-the-horizon missiles and a wider complement of additional high-tech weapons. Sure enough, according to Navy officials, the ship is now being designed as much more than a “toughened” Littoral Combat Ship, but a ship with an even wider combat scope to include additional air-defenses, AEGIS radar systems and major missile attack options with Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems. Following years of debate and deliberation regarding what particular weapons and technology configuration would ultimately take shape for the new vessel, the service appears to have identified a handful of specifics. In a Navy report, service officials identified some of the intended missions and weapons applications for the ship. Initial specs include Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar, a Baseline Ten AEGIS Combat System, a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) and MK 57 Gun Weapon Systems, among other things. This kind of baseline configuration is of course engineered with the technical foundation necessary to integrate new weapons, computer technology, electronics and information warfare systems as they emerge. The Navy described it as having “countermeasures and added capability in the EW/IO (Electronic Warfare/Information Operations) area with design flexibility for future growth.” Upon initial conception, it was not instantly determined that the new ship would include VLS; clearly the service saw the need to more heavily arm the new ship, in keeping with its increased lethality and Distributed Maritime Operations strategic approach for aggressively arming its surface fleet for major warfare on the open seas. Navy officials said that the new FFG (X) “will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations.” As part of its attack strategy for the ship, Navy officials add the ship will “will incorporate Standard Navy systems across the radar; combat system; command, control, communications, computers and intelligence; and launcher elements.” Along these lines, arming the ship with EASR radar is consistent with this plan, as the radar is also arming amphibs and some carriers as a Raytheon-built multi-mission air-defense system. The deal, which is a contract for detailed design and construction, includes a measure of flexibility, meaning the Navy and its industry partners are likely to continue refining requirements and potential weapons and technology for the ship as it further comes to fruition. Significantly, the Navy’s emerging weapons and technology structure for its frigate seem to align with some of the service’s initial requirements, mission scope and technology for the ship. A Navy statement several years ago said the platform will “employ unmanned systems to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary.” A well-armed ship, which is what the emerging structure of the ship clearly seems to be, is consistent with the Navy’s previously articulated plan for the ship, which envisioned a platform that could travel in substantial aggregated combat scenarios such as Carrier Strike Groups and Expeditionary Strike Groups. In addition, it is clear that the service seeks a ship able to function autonomously, control undersea and aerial drones and perform disaggregated or more independent missions. For instance, the Navy’s Request for Information for the Frigate released several years ago states: “concepts of employment for this type of ship will include integrated operations with area air defense capable destroyers and cruisers as well as independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid. Additionally, this platform must defend against raids of small boats.” The ship will be manned with a crew of up to 200 sailors, Navy officials say. A follow-on deal is planned for 2026.

Chris Cuomo’s ratings plummet as Americans tire of brothers’ schtick

Americans have spoken with their clickers — and they’re sick of Chris and Andrew Cuomo show. Chris Cuomo yuks it up with his governor bro during an almost daily “check-in” on his CNN show since the coronavirus started ravaging New York — and America wants it to stop. At first, the shtick was successful. Ratings hit an all-time high on March 30, with 862,000 daily viewers in the 25-54 age demographic. But since then, according to the Daily Mail, the ratings for Cuomo Prime Time have tanked, plummeting by 50 percent since Chris recovered from COVID. While all the cable news shows have seen ratings drop due to COVID exhaustion, Cuomo has particularly grated with his “frequently silly and un-substantive interviews” with his older brother — in which they have fought over who their mother loved more; Andrew’s “double barrel shotgun” nose, and Andrew’s “single status.” The segments have been panned as ratings stunts done for laughs while thousands of New Yorkers died of the coronavirus. The Cuomos were slammed again last week by Queens lawmaker Eric Ulrich, who is demanding the City Council investigate Gov. Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes, where over 5,800 elderly have perished. “Thus far, the Governor has avoided answering tough questions about his decision. His recent appearance on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time was equally disgraceful,” Ulrich fumed. “Journalism that truly aims to restore trust in media would hold Andrew Cuomo to account for these missteps,” David A. Graham wrote in the Atlantic this week. “The problem comes when the efforts to juice ratings start to get in the way of accurate journalism that holds officials accountable.” “The View” host Meghan McCain also blasted the bros on Twitter for the nursing home crisis, retweeting journalist Nicholas Fondacaro who posted a clip of the Cuomos and said: “Instead of asking his brother, @NYGovCuomo why he decided to pack COVID patients into nursing homes, killing untold amounts of people, @ChrisCuomo pulled out oversized, prop cotton swabs to mock how big his brother’s nose was. This is the state of ‘journalism’ on @CNN.” Viewers have also been upset with hair-trigger tempered Chris Cuomo’s hypocritical behavior during the pandemic. At the end of April, CNN aired a posed video of Cuomo “re-emerging” from his quarantine in the basement of his Hamptons mansion, despite Cuomo having been out and about in East Hampton a week earlier and getting into a fight with a “jackass loser fat-tire biker” who had asked why an infected unmasked Cuomo was breaking quarantine.

And, Chris has yet to apologize for that brazenly hypocritical stunt.  Chris is an idiot, and his older brother has proven to be a disaster in NY.  So, it’s no surprise that people are voting with their remote and changing the channel to..well..anything else.

Armed Texans Defend Alamo from Potential Rioters

Armed Texans placed themselves at the Alamo Cenotaph Saturday afternoon in advance of George Floyd protests in San Antonio, Texas. Protesters defaced the monument early Friday with downward-facing arrows placed next to the statements “white supremacy,” “profit over People” and “the ALAMO,” according to an article by the San Antonio Express-News. Texans consider the Cenotaph sacred because it is a memorial to those who died fighting at the Alamo. “Well, it’s all pretty simple. If you’re mad that George Floyd got murdered, well good. So am I,” David Ahmad with Open Carry Texas said in a video posted on Facebook. “If you want to respond to that by burning Target, or a drug store, or looting a liquor store, or destroying the Alamo, you can kiss both sides of my ass. We’re going to put a stop to you.” He was very clear that some of those there would use “any means necessary” to put a stop to it. “So, just do it right. Protest the man’s death because it should be protested. Things need to change. This bullshit’s got to stop.” He warned protestors not to use Floyd’s death to “tear up the Alamo or tear up a restaurant,” or use it as an excuse to burn or steal. “This Is Texas Freedom Force,” warned that “the Brown Berets and Black Lives Matter” would be rallying at a park close to the Alamo. The nonprofit organization describes its mission as “Protectors Of All Things Texas.” The group posted on Facebook: “Given the incident that took place Thursday night (Cenotaph Vandalized) and the fact that PD did not protect that site, it is up to Texans to watch over our most valuable historical monument and ensure its safety.” A self-identified Second Amendment advocate who is a pastor and college instructor said he was there to support those armed and ready to protect the Cenotaph. He explained that the memorial had been defaced less than 48 hours ago. “They are showing up here to do what they have been doing for a long time. For months. And that’s protecting this place. For years for that matter.” He said they were standing up for what’s right.” He then invoked the names of Walter Scott of South Carolina, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and George Floyd of Minneapolis. “To make sure that 184 years ago when our true patriots were fighting to protect the Alamo, that I too can stand and let them know that it’s worth fighting for.” When asked about the “white supremacy” graffiti, he answered, “It’s saddening because they obviously don’t know the history of what has taken place.” He explained that 200 men fought for 13 days. “That was not just for white people. Or Hispanics. It was for Americans. That was the point whereby we still call the ‘rally cry.’ That rally cry is ‘Remember the Alamo.’ That rally cry is something that has affected me as an African American, as a black man in American, because that rally cry led toward the freedom for all of us.” Some said the group was not really concerned about any damage being done at the Alamo. Officers arrived at the Alamo Plaza dressed in riot and protective gear. They had batons and zip ties, and a few had shields, reported the San Antonio Express-News.

Good for these guys protecting the Alamo.  More people need to follow their fine lead, and stand up against these thugs and losers destroying businesses, government bldgs, and so on.  We have a Second Amendment, and the right to self-defense.  If you’re home or business is threatened, then stand firm and protect what’s yours.  Don’t let these thugs, losers, and punks win.

Bored of the indoors? These are the best outdoor activities for social distancing

The best activities for this summer are the ones that involve staying away from people. After much of the country spent the winter and spring cooped up inside, many people are probably looking for ways to get out of the house during the summer months. Since the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, however, it’s important to remember to social distance. This can be hard with typical summer activities, like going to the beach, amusement parks or outdoor concerts, which all tend to draw large crowds. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, however, posted on its website that most fishing rods are the perfect length for social distancing. On its website, the AGFC wrote, “Most common fishing rods are between 6 and 7 feet long, the distance the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend to space apart from others in public. Of course, the best way to practice this technique is to get outside and enjoy some angling.” While fishing is definitely a great option for people looking to spend some time outside, it might not be for everyone. For families looking to get the kids out of the house, Health.gov writes that playgrounds may not be a great choice, even if they’re empty. Since a lot of people use and touch the equipment, an empty playground can still have germs. Instead, Health.gov recommends playing games like hopscotch or four-square, which keep kids (and sometimes parents) active and don’t require any equipment (other than some chalk and some space). Health.gov also recommends avoiding activities like group fitness classes and team sports. The website recommends practicing individual skills, whenever possible, in an open space. They also recommend going to parks but avoiding ones that are too crowded. Also, the website advises that people come prepared knowing that certain facilities at these parks, like concessions and bathrooms, will likely be closed.

For more, click on the text above.

Jim Hanson: Trump is right – Antifa has hijacked protests of George Floyd’s death and turned them into riots

President Trump was right when he placed blame Saturday for the riots tearing apart cities around the country on Antifa and other radical left-wing groups. He should now go one step further and declare Antifa a domestic terrorist organization. The rioting this past week was ostensibly sparked by the death of George Floyd – a 46-year-old black man who was arrested by Minneapolis police Monday for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. There is no question that Floyd’s death was horrific and should never have happened. But in fact, many of the rioters affiliated with Antifa simply and cynically have used Floyd’s tragic death as an excuse to spread mayhem and destruction. The officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck – Derek Chauvin – was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin and any other officers who go on trial for Floyd’s death should be punished to the full extent the law allows if convicted. But Floyd’s killing should not be used as an excuse by anyone to justify rioting and domestic terrorism that in many cases has victimized African-American small-business owners and others in many cities. “These are ‘Organized Groups’ that have nothing to do with George Floyd. Sad!” Trump tweeted Saturday in describing the rioters. “It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!” The president’s accurate description of Antifa fits the definition under federal law of a domestic terror group. Under that definition, such a group breaks laws “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population” or to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” Antifa claims to be an anti-fascist group dedicated to stopping oppression of marginalized communities. But the group considers law enforcement officers and many government agencies to be among the “oppressors,” along with many others who reject its radical agenda. Antifa members have been advocating for and conducting violence to intimidate for a long time now, but the wave of terror they unleashed this past week makes taking action against them truly urgent. There’s no question that many of those protesting the killing of George Floyd had every right to peacefully express their outrage over his death. But in many cases, Antifa radicals hijacked those legitimate protests to turn them into riots. Antifa sent the word out far and wide to burn buildings, loot stores, destroy cars and attack law enforcement officers. Police agencies warned that Antifa and its many tentacles were using the Floyd protests to further their agenda. “Domestic extremists, including anarchist extremists and other anti-government extremists, are using the unrest in Minneapolis to amplify and justify their calls for dismantling law enforcement agencies and carrying out attacks on law enforcement, government, and capitalist targets,” a Philadelphia Police Department bulletin reported. Antifa members have instigated violence many times before and for a variety of leftist causes like shutting down speech they don’t like, armed attacks on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detention facilities and other anti-police violence. The nexus for violence at any leftist protest will always be a band of black-clad Antifa thugs burning, breaking windows and attacking anyone they see as part of the oppressive system Antifa’s track record of violence is undeniable, but it is a nebulous and diffuse group. Antifa is anarchistic by nature and members are more likely to be squatting in an abandoned building than running a storefront office. Since all terrorist groups operate mostly in the shadows, we must empower our law enforcement and security agencies with all the tools possible to illuminate their malevolent and dangerous activities. These vital tools will become available under the Patriot Act if Antifa is designated as a domestic terrorist group. As a terrorist group, Antifa could have its electronic communications monitored by law enforcement agencies that obtain search warrants. This would enable authorities to gain knowledge of what criminal activity Antifa was up to and more easily prevent violence and apprehend organizers. In addition, the terrorist designation would make it a federal offense for Antifa to engage in terrorist attacks and other acts of violence against mass transportation systems. A favorite tactic of Antifa members is to burn buses when rioting. As a terrorist group, they could face federal prosecution for this crime. The terrorist designation would also ban aiding Antifa because that activity would be considered to be providing material support to terrorists and terrorist organizations under federal law. Antifa members often work with other leftist groups, serving as their shock troops. These other activist groups know that they can rely on Antifa to do the burning and breaking, but would themselves be held liable for these crimes if Antifa is officially designated as a terrorist group. The bottom line we need to keep in mind is that peaceful protesting is a cherished American right – but violent attacks are criminal conduct. By accurately labeling Antifa as a domestic terrorist group we can protect against its terrorist crimes without infringing on the rights of the rest of us to protest and exercise our rights of free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Agreed!!  And well said, Jim.  Jim Hanson is the author of that piece.  Jim is President of the Security Studies Group and served in US Army Special Forces.  As an update..  President Trump Tweeted today that he intends to declare Antifa a domestic terrorist organization.  Hopefully that’ll help those in law enforcement, and give them extra weapons to go after those punks and losers.  They need to be identified, arrested and charged…every single one of them.  And, in addition to time in jail, they need to pay restitution for all the damage they did.  There have been cameras everywhere.  So, shouldn’t be too hard.  And, the cops need to publish their mug shots so we can see who these punks are.  Maybe they’ll get expelled from school, or fired from their jobs..

SpaceX spacecraft docks with International Space Station on historic NASA mission

SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft crewed by NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken has docked with the International Space Station on its historic Demo-2 mission. The spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Saturday. The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. The spacecraft made its ‘soft capture’ docking with the International Space Station at 10:16 am ET after an almost 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. The space station was 262 statute miles above the border of northern China and Mongolia when the docking occurred. “Hard capture” docking was complete at 10:28 am ET with the full docking sequence complete two minutes later. “Happy to be aboard!” said Hurley when the capsule was docked. The hatch is expected to open around 12:45 pm ET, with a welcome ceremony at 1:15 pm ET “Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! America’s two favorite dads in space have docked to the @Space_Station,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. President Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, were at Kennedy Space Center to watch Hurley and Behnken lift off from storied launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. On Saturday evening Hurley announced that the spacecraft, previously known as capsule 206, has been renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. “We would like to welcome you aboard capsule Endeavour,” he said. “We chose Endeavour for a few reasons – one, because of the incredible Endeavour NASA, SpaceX and the United States has been on since the end of the shuttle program in 2011. The other reason we named it Endeavour is little more personal – Bob and I, we both had our first flight on Shuttle Endeavour and it just meant to much to us to carry on that name.”

Nice!!  To see videos from this morning’s docking, click on the text above.  Great job Bob and Doug!     🙂