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Sarah Huckabee Sanders Uses a Jay-Z Sample in Hype Video to Defend $19,000 Podium

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Welcome back to Barf Bag.  You might think that being a political nepo baby would bestow the tiniest amount of humility, but former Trump press secretary and current Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) appears to have zero shame. Sanders, the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, chose to respond to an audit about her office spending more than $19,000 on a lectern with an incredibly stupid video. This objectively ugly podium—a custom "Falcon-style" lectern with an hourglass base and blue trim—has been causing Sanders headaches for months. An Arkansas blogger and attorney was digging into public records on her spending and found a $19,029.25 payment to Beckett Events, a Virginia-based company founded by a GOP lobbyist and consultant. After the blogger sued the state for alleged violations of the state’s Freedom of Information Act, Sanders proposed a special session to add new restrictions to the FOIA laws. Hmm! The blogger eventually got documents showing that the payment was for a lectern. The Republican Party of Arkansas reimbursed the state for it—but emails show it only did this after the blogger filed the records request. The state legislature ordered an audit of this whole situation and that took several months, which brings us to Monday. The audit said Sanders' office may have violated state laws by shredding a document that should have been preserved. After the 68-page audit was released, Sanders posted this video on Twitter, with the text, "My thoughts on the podium..." It shows a simple lectern with the state seal going poof into the gauche podium at the center of the inquiry. There are close-ups, animation, and smoke??? Unfortunately, you need to have the sound on in order to appreciate just how embarrassing it is. https://twitter.com/SarahHuckabee/status/1779986507580764449 Yes, she used a Jay-Z sample from "Public Service Announcement" to make it even more cringe: "allow me to reintroduce myself / my name is....po-dium." As the Washington Post notes, the video "ends with the silhouette of a lectern atop the words 'COME AND TAKE IT.'” That's a phrase famously used by Second Amendment freaks. And if I were one of those, I'd be annoyed that my Big Bad slogan was being used for an overpriced hunk of wood meant for speeches.  Somehow, this isn't even the first over-produced video Sanders has released while serving as Governor. In April 2023, she tried to dunk on Bud Light for partnering with trans TikToker Dylan Mulvaney. The video is a parody ad for anti-woke beer koozies and, as my colleague Kady Ruth Ashcraft wrote at the time, the clip felt way too close to a Saturday Night Live skit making fun of people like Sanders. Now I'm left wondering if Sanders wanted to be a stand-up comedian but got pushed into the family business instead. She loves the spotlight! Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote on Twitter that people upset with pro-Palestinian protestors blocking highways should "take matters into [their] own hands." How long until he says to send in the National Guard? [The Hill] Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed that "emissaries" for Donald Trump asked him to be his running mate. Meanwhile, more than a dozen of RFK's relatives endorsed Joe Biden. [The Guardian/CBS] A headline that should elicit an immediate hiss: "Southern governors tell autoworkers that voting for a union will put their jobs in jeopardy" [Associated Press] Trump seems very upset that his porn-star hush money trial could mean he may not be able to attend the graduation of his son with the woman on whom he cheated with said porn star. [People/Bluesky] A dismissed juror in Trump's hush-money case said he looks…
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hannahdraper
11 hours ago
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Arkansas just keeps setting records here.
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Protocol

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New Mexico’s state senate took up a startling amendment in 1995 — it would have required psychologists to dress up as wizards when providing expert testimony on a defendant’s competency:

When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant’s competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts. Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than 18 inches in length and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding a defendant’s competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong.

The measure had received unanimous approval in the senate and was headed for the house of representatives when sponsor Duncan Scott explained that he’d intended it as satire — he felt that too many mental health practitioners had been acting as expert witnesses. It was withdrawn and never signed into law.

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hannahdraper
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The true post-cyberpunk hero is a noir forensic accountant

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mostlysignssomeportents:

I’m touring my new, nationally bestselling novel The Bezzle! Catch me in TOMORROW (Apr 17) in CHICAGO, then Torino (Apr 21) Marin County (Apr 27), Winnipeg (May 2), Calgary (May 3), Vancouver (May 4), and beyond!

A yellow rectangle. On the left, in blue, are the words 'Cory Doctorow.' On the right, in black, is 'The Bezzle.' Between them is the motif from the cover of *The Bezzle*: an escheresque impossible triangle. The center of the triangle is a barred, smaller triangle that imprisons a silhouetted male figure in a suit. Two other male silhouettes in suits run alongside the top edges of the triangle.ALT

I was reared on cyberpunk fiction, I ended up spending 25 years at my EFF day-job working at the weird edge of tech and human rights, even as I wrote sf that tried to fuse my love of cyberpunk with my urgent, lifelong struggle over who computers do things for and who they do them to.

That makes me an official “post-cyberpunk” writer ™. Don’t take my word for it: I’m in the canon:

https://tachyonpublications.com/product/rewired-the-post-cyberpunk-anthology-2/

One of the editors of that “post-cyberpunk” anthology was John Kessel, who is, not coincidentally, the first writer to expose me to the power of literary criticism to change the way I felt about a novel, both as a writer and a reader:

https://locusmag.com/2012/05/cory-doctorow-a-prose-by-any-other-name/

It was Kessel’s 2004 Foundation essay, “Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality,” that helped me understand litcrit. Kessel expertly surfaces the subtext of Card’s Ender’s Game and connects it to Card’s politics. In so doing, he completely reframed how I felt about a book I’d read several times and had considered a favorite:

https://johnjosephkessel.wixsite.com/kessel-website/creating-the-innocent-killer

This is a head-spinning experience for a reader, but it’s even wilder to experience it as a writer. Thankfully, the majority of literary criticism about my work has been positive, but even then, discovering something that’s clearly present in one of my novels, but which I didn’t consciously include, is a (very pleasant!) mind-fuck.

A recent example: Blair Fix’s review of my 2023 novel Red Team Blues which he calls “an anti-finance finance thriller”:

https://economicsfromthetopdown.com/2023/05/13/red-team-blues-cory-doctorows-anti-finance-thriller/

Fix – a radical economist – perfectly captures the correspondence between my hero, the forensic accountant Martin Hench, and the heroes of noir detective novels. Namely, that a noir detective is a kind of unlicensed policeman, going to the places the cops can’t go, asking the questions the cops can’t ask, and thus solving the crimes the cops can’t solve. What makes this noir is what happens next: the private dick realizes that these were places the cops didn’t want to go, questions the cops didn’t want to ask and crimes the cops didn’t want to solve (“It’s Chinatown, Jake”).

Marty Hench – a forensic accountant who finds the money that has been disappeared through the cells in cleverly constructed spreadsheets – is an unlicensed tax inspector. He’s finding the money the IRS can’t find – only to be reminded, time and again, that this is money the IRS chooses not to find.

This is how the tax authorities work, after all. Anyone who followed the coverage of the big finance leaks knows that the most shocking revelation they contain is how stupid the ruses of the ultra-wealthy are. The IRS could prevent that tax-fraud, they just choose not to. Not for nothing, I call the Martin Hench books “Panama Papers fanfic.”

I’ve read plenty of noir fiction and I’m a long-term finance-leaks obsessive, but until I read Fix’s article, it never occurred to me that a forensic accountant was actually squarely within the noir tradition. Hench’s perfect noir fit is either a happy accident or the result of a subconscious intuition that I didn’t know I had until Fix put his finger on it.

Keep reading

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hannahdraper
2 days ago
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‘Pablo Escobar’ can’t be registered as EU trademark, court rules

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The EU’s General Court on Wednesday blocked the registration of the name “Pablo Escobar” as a trademark, upholding a ruling from the Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

A Puerto Rican company linked to Escobar’s family had filed to trademark the name of the notorious Colombian drug lord in the EU in September 2021.

The applicant argued that names such as Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone and Che Guevara have already been registered as EU trademarks and that, “Pablo Escobar, because of his many good deeds for the poor in Colombia, has become a mythical figure in mainstream popular culture.”

Escobar, a narco-terrorist who was killed in a shootout in 1993, was the leader of the infamous Medellín Cartel and over decades of drug-trafficking became one of the world’s leading cocaine barons.

Wednesday’s court decision came after EUIPO previously refused to accept the registration as Escobar’s name, and what the European public associates with it, contradicted EU values.

“EUIPO rejected the application for registration on the ground that the mark was contrary to public policy and to accepted principles of morality,” a press release from the Court of Justice of the European Union said Wednesday, adding that EUIPO had relied on the perception of the Spanish public.

According to the court, “reasonable Spaniards, with average sensitivity and tolerance thresholds” who shared European values “would associate the name of Pablo Escobar with drug trafficking and narco-terrorism and with the crimes and suffering resulting therefrom.”

In its original decision in February 2023, EUIPO also referenced a ruling in which the registration of a restaurant chain called “La Mafia se sienta a la Mesa” (“The Mafia sits at the table”) was refused in 2018 because it could be perceived as immoral by the average citizen.

The General Court added that, “Pablo Escobar’s fundamental right to the presumption of innocence has not been infringed because, even though he was never criminally convicted, he is publicly perceived in Spain as a symbol of organised crime responsible for numerous crimes.”

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hannahdraper
3 days ago
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The applicant argued that names such as Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone and Che Guevara have already been registered as EU trademarks and that, “Pablo Escobar, because of his many good deeds for the poor in Colombia, has become a mythical figure in mainstream popular culture.”
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The Woman Who Ate Eric Adams for Breakfast

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Photo: Chris Perez

Last month, critics of Eric Adams who’ve wanted the camera-friendly, hard-partying mayor to publicly answer for his tough-on-crime agenda got some catharsis. Adams appeared on the popular hip-hop morning radio show The Breakfast Club alongside an activist and political commentator named Olayemi Olurin. She held Adams verbally captive from the jump, needling the mayor for bragging that New York City is safe while also using “fearmongering” rhetoric to justify a bigger police presence. “Is it safe or is it not?” she asked. The mayor, so used to deploying charisma or bluster to evade criticism, instead stuttered, squirmed in his chair, and turned his back on Olurin to face the show’s hosts. “You would realize how I turned the city around if you follow everything I do,” Adams told Olurin. “I would say ‘no,’ but we can get to that,” she snapped back.

Olurin had been preparing for this moment for years. Since Adams’s election she’d used every available platform, from social media to op-eds to media appearances, to attack his handling of Rikers Island, the migrant crisis, homelessness, and bail reform. (AOC is a “big fan” and John Oliver once gave her a shout-out on his show.) For the better part of 50 minutes, she forced Adams to explain his support for policies that criminalize poor Black New Yorkers. Any time he questioned her facts, Olurin, a former public defender, cited reports and statistics to back them up. The dressing-down came at a particularly vulnerable time for Adams, with his approval rating in the toilet, a federal investigation into his campaign looming, and a sexual-assault lawsuit to fight. “Someone call in a wellness check on the Eric Adams comms team,” one reporter wrote on X after the interview aired. The former editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone called it “the most important interview of Eric Adams in a long, long time.”

On a sunny Friday afternoon the following week, I meet up with the 30-year-old to take a walk in Flatbush, one of the Black working-class communities Adams claims to represent and where Olurin lives. We pass the bodega where they know her sandwich order (Salsalito turkey with Sazón, jalapeños, and cheese) and a boutique filled with mannequins wearing colorful head wraps where she recently got her measurements taken for a dress. “It’s so Caribbean and it reminds me of home,” the Bahamas native tells me. She says “hi” to strangers as she bounds down the street. “I literally walk my neighborhood any time of night,” she says. “Never has any crime happened to me, I’ve never felt unsafe, none of that.” In just five minutes of walking, we see six cops. Olurin points out a police van and two officers standing guard outside a playground where three boys are playing basketball. “He becomes mayor and this is what we get,” she says. “This is a Black neighborhood. And so we have an exorbitant amount of police.”

When I say I hate Eric Adams, it really means I hate what he stands for. If Eric Adams resigned tomorrow, you would never hear me say his name again.

Lately, Olurin feels like she has a target on her back. The NYPD’s top brass have been going after her on social media since the interview, in which she’d said Adams seems to care more about a cop who was recently killed during a traffic stop than the “at least seven” civilians killed by NYPD officers this year. “This ‘Movement Laywer’ [sic] epitomizes everything that true NYers are against !” the NYPD’s chief of patrol wrote on X; the deputy commissioner piled on. Watching the NYPD lose “the fight in the court of public opinion online,” she says, “makes me nervous. Are these people gonna retaliate and do something in real life.” As an attorney, Olurin is well aware of her rights. But as a Black woman, she also knows that officers could violate those rights at any time. For two weeks, Olurin didn’t go out on her daily five-mile walk. Her doctor told her she was under high stress and gave her a heart monitor. She took down the Bahamian flag hanging outside of her apartment window, worried that officers would find out where she lives. “They’ll probably identify me,” she says. “How many Bahamian Nigerians are there?”

Inside her apartment, though, Olurin is at ease. Wearing a shirt that says “May all the motherfuckers who spite me burn in hell for all of eternity,” she sits cross-legged on a purple couch, the walls around her covered with images of Tupac, Malcolm X, and characters from Dragon Ball Z and The Boondocks, all made by Black artists. She tells me she was raised by strict parents who saw three career options for their five children: doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Olurin was the natural debater of the bunch. To watch a Harry Potter movie, she had to convince her grandmother via PowerPoint presentation that the film wouldn’t corrupt her brain. She also coaxed her parents into letting her attend high school in the U.S. so that she could more easily become a lawyer. At her West Virginia boarding school, Olurin was voted “most opinionated,” which came as something of a shock. Bahamians tend to be boisterous, so “I never thought of myself as a loud person that has this animated personality,” she says, raising her hands.

She was also the only Black girl in her high-school senior class. Olurin remembers one of her classmates saying that “Black people can’t swim and that we like chicken and watermelon or whatever.” Bahamians are always in the ocean and have no preference for either of those foods; she was confused. “I hadn’t figured out the word racist yet,” she says. “I knew something wasn’t adding up, but it was hard for me to navigate.” She went on to Ohio University, where she minored in African American studies, watched the Ferguson protests unfold, and decided to become a public defender so that she could help fight systemic racism.

Photo: Chris Perez

Once she moved to New York for law school, Olurin was so broke that she struggled to afford subway fare. “I understood deeply what it was like to be poor in the city,” she says, “and to have that be received so negatively.” After graduating in 2018, she got a job with the Legal Aid Society, where she spent her days arguing that her clients didn’t deserve jail time for petty crimes like jumping a subway turnstile. In 2021, she posted a video that appeared to show an NYPD officer kneeling on one of her client’s necks to Twitter. She got the charges dismissed, and the media attention made her realize she could have more of an impact on the criminal-justice system by becoming an advocate. She was also becoming disenchanted with Legal Aid. “It’s incredibly stressful. It’s incredibly underpaid,” she says. Olurin quit at the end of 2022 to become, as she puts it, a “professional loudmouth.”

While paying her bills with a full-time job helping criminal-justice reform advocates to craft their messaging in the media, she started a YouTube channel last year. It hosts lively podcasts where she and guests debate topics like, “Are More Black People Becoming Republican?” as well as political deep-dives, including a two-hour-long magnum opus branding Adams “the Worst Mayor in America” over his support for racist policing policies like stop and frisk. She has a loose-lipped, energetic style in these videos that’s a stark contrast to the talking heads on cable news. She swears, wears bright-red lipstick, and calls herself “a bitch who’s chronically online.”

Olurin first appeared on The Breakfast Club in 2022 to talk about criminal-justice issues. After she criticized the program for platforming Candace Owens in March, co-host Charlamagne tha God called Olurin and invited her back to square off with the mayor. She doubted Adams would actually show up to their interview — “I think I am his loudest critic” — but threw herself into prep anyway. She sourced every stat she planned to quote, from the 31 people who have died on Rikers Island on Adams’s watch to the $17 million he cut from the jail’s programming budget. A defense attorney “has to be in tune with the facts,” she says. “A cross-examination is basically being able to call out the discrepancies.”

I understood deeply what it was like to be poor in the city, and to have that be received so negatively.

It still came as a surprise to Olurin when Charlamagne told her Adams was en route to the studio. “Don’t hold back,” he told her. “Ask him whatever you want.” She viewed this as permission to go scorched-earth, a luxury she knows many members of the City Hall press corps don’t have. “I went into it with the recognition that this is never happening again,” she says. She did her best Olivia Pope impression — “I had to give all Black people the version of a lawyer they like to see” — and though the left praised her for delivering a knockout, Olurin thought she was “nice and polite” to Adams. “In a normal world, I wouldn’t let you shout over me,” she says. “This is me giving grace.”

Olurin hasn’t gotten any of the agent, book-deal, or pundit-contract offers that can come with viral fame since the interview aired, though. “That says a lot to me about what the media is really invested in seeing.” While she’d love a plush commentator job at a big network, Olurin’s not surprised that her phone isn’t ringing; she says “it’s often the media helping steer this ‘copaganda.’” (Olurin is, however, doing a one-off CNN appearance to analyze the Trump hush-money trial.) She feels the biggest payoff from the appearance has been attracting tens of thousands of new followers. “I feel like I always had a large white audience by virtue of being a lawyer,” she says. “But this allowed a lot of Black people who weren’t previously familiar with my work to see it.” Her ultimate goal is to have “an advocacy version of Issa Rae’s career,” she says. “I want to have my own production company and have my own platform that’s big enough to garner the traffic.”

Olurin stresses that her beef with Adams is not personal. “When I say I hate Eric Adams, it really means I hate what he stands for,” she says. “If Eric Adams resigned tomorrow, you would never hear me say his name again.” That said, it may be just a little bit personal. She and Adams exchanged numbers after the interview at Charlamagne’s urging, and the mayor texted her a few hours later to ask about the origins of her name. She told him it’s Nigerian and means “affluence befits me,” to which he responded with a yellow-skin-toned prayer-hands emoji. She found the detail “incredibly telling,” given that Adams “uses his Blackness as a convenience to sell us on, but who has no real attachment to it or community.” “I’ve never in my life seen a Black person not change the color of this emoji,” she says. “That tickled me greatly. I laughed.”

Production Credits

Photography by Chris Perez

,

Photo Assistant Irma Mauro

,

The Cut, Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Peoples

,

The Cut, Photo Director Noelle Lacombe

,

The Cut, Photo Editor Maridelis Morales Rosado

,

The Cut, Features Editor Catherine Thompson

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hannahdraper
3 days ago
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Let’s Turn Abandoned Malls into Housing!

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I fully support Rachel Cohen’s ideas here about turning our many abandoned malls into housing.

Amy Casciani, a longtime real estate developer whose corporation built housing across seven states, watched her local community struggle for years to add new homes.

Casciani grew up in upstate New York, in a suburban town outside Rochester. She eventually started a family and raised her children there, and in the early 1990s, a new mall opened up, bringing over 100 new stores including anchor retailers like Sibley’s, J.C. Penney, and Sears.

The mall was a proud boon to the town of Irondequoit, and a go-to spot for teenagers to hang out. “Hands down the most attractive shopping mall in the area,” an editorial for a newspaper serving Albany declared. “From its blue Legolike entrances and splashing fountain to its light-trimmed glass roof, columns and carousel, the mall exudes carnival gaiety.”

But in a few short years, retail patterns across the United States began to change. Mall foot traffic slowed and online shopping ticked up. Stores in the Irondequoit Mall began to close, and by 2016, the last major anchor, Sears, called it quits.

Casciani ached for her town, which not only was dealing with the eyesore of the abandoned mall but also lacked enough vacant land to develop desperately needed affordable housing. Her nonprofit development group, PathStone, embarked on a complex but meaningful project: They retrofitted the Sears department store into 73 rental apartments and built a new four-story multifamily building with 84 rental units on the adjacent parking lot.

PathStone connected the two buildings by a raised pedestrian walkway, and the Skyview Park Apartments now serves adults 55 and up who need subsidized housing. Half of the units are reserved for seniors at risk of homelessness, who can receive on-site supportive services.

“As affordable housing needs and costs keep going up and a shortage of available vacant land is growing, why not use what we already have?” Casciani said. “Why not creatively turn it around from being a blight on the community to an asset?”

Across the country, policymakers, researchers, and real estate developers are paying more attention to mall conversions like the one in Irondequoit as they grapple with their own shortage of affordable housing. While the Irondequoit Mall was a traditional mall, strip malls in particular offer some unique advantages, like big empty parking lots, that could make housing redevelopment an easier task.

A report last fall from Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit focused on increasing housing supply, estimated that strip mall conversions could create more than 700,000 new homes across the United States.

There’s so much broken in our discussions about the housing issue, mostly which has to do with everyone having a single talking point that is far too simplistic. One thing that connects a lot of these issues is issue of space. When a person buys up 5 old New York apartments and turns them into his personal fiefdom, that’s a lot of housing that is taken off the market. When everyone wants 2,000 square feet of housing, that really limits what we can do. But also, we have often struggled to retrofit previous disastrous uses of space (and the endless decaying malls, both traditional and strip), is a great example of this.

Here in Rhode Island, where what was once a state of density, the postwar housing boom turned huge parts of what is today Warwick and Cranston into completely unplanned strip malls that are today are decrepit, empty, or just look like shit because they are 50 years old, were poorly planned in the first place, and are half or less full. And yet, for all of our very real housing problems, none of this so far as I can tell has been converted into housing. It’s right there!

The post Let’s Turn Abandoned Malls into Housing! appeared first on Lawyers, Guns & Money.

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