Midday open thread: Kerry faces science deniers at hearing; NZ bans military-style semi-auto rifles

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is The alt-right clowns around:

New Zealand parliament bans military-style semi-automatic rifles with only one dissenting vote: In the final reading of a bipartisan bill reforming the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the March 15 mass murder of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, the vote was 119-1, with the single opposition vote coming from the libertarian ACT Party’s sole MP, David Seymour. He had complained about the speed with which the bill was being pushed, but last week while he was speaking to the press about his complaint, he missed a parliamentary vote designed to slow down the speed of approval, which failed. In addition to the ban, the bill, which will come into force Friday, includes a buy-back provision that allows anyone to turn in their prohibited firearm by September 30 in exchange for payment based on the weapon’s condition and age. So far, more than 300 such weapons have been turned in. Anyone who fails to meet the deadline faces up to five years in prison. A few exemptions are included in the bill for heirloom weapons and professional pest control. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has received wide praise inside and outside the nation for her response to the shootings, spoke for the ban in parliament: “We are ultimately here because 50 people died and they do not have a voice. […] We, in this house, are their voice and today we have used that voice wisely.”

Boeing didn’t book any sales of its 737s last month: It was the first month since May 2012 that the Chicago-based company failed to book a commercial 737 sale. And it appears there is more trouble ahead after the fatal crashes of two of its 737 Max jets. Boeing delivered only 11 of the 737 MAX jets in March. That’s less than half what it delivered in January and February and well short of what it needs to reach the company’s guidance that it would deliver a total of 900 jetliners this year. That total was to have included more than 550 MAX planes. Analysts predict Boeing will more likely deliver just 750 jets this year. That means a shortfall of from $2 billion to $3 billion through a mix of compensation, delayed airline payments and costs to fix the MAX. Boeing shares closed on Tuesday at $3.69.04, only $1.29 off their 52-week low.

Ultra-rightist wins seat on Wisconsin Supreme Court: State Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer on Wednesday conceded the close race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to Brian Hagedorn. Before the election, most conservative groups that normally support right-wing candidates for judgeships in Wisconsin had abandoned Hagedorn over his anti-gay stance. But the Republican State Leadership Committee came through for him, and he ultimately raised more than $1 million for his campaign. David Nir at Daily Kos Elections writes:

While Hagedorn attempted to wave away his extremist beliefs with thin promises that they wouldn’t impact his actions on the bench, a series of revelations about his hatred of gay people kept pouring out over the course of the campaign: He’d penned blog posts arguing that striking down laws against sodomy would lead to legalized bestiality; founded a school that bans gay students and teachers and expels pupils if their parents are gay; and accepted thousands of dollars to give speeches to an anti-gay organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels a hate group.

MIDDAY TWEET

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It may have seemed like pointless drama, but inviting Candace Owens to “Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism” hearing had the intended effect. How many clips have you seen of Eileen Hershenov of The Anti-Defamation League? Or Eva Paterson of the Equal Justice Society?

— Steve Mullis (@stevemullis) April 10, 2019

Democrats trash White House’s planned hostile review of climate science as it relates to national security: At a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, during which some of the nation’s most ridiculous climate-science-denying Republicans said the plan would be a good thing. Democrats labeled the whole adversarial approach as a disinformation campaign:

Former Secretary of State John Kerry said climate change is a threat multiplier capable of worsening drought and extreme storms that spark conflicts in the Middle East and Africa in particular. He also said Russia and China would be the primary beneficiaries if the U.S. military deprioritizes climate change, particularly in the Arctic.

“The only people cheering the president’s apparent attempt to erase climate change from U.S. national security considerations live in Beijing and Moscow,” Kerry said. “China and Russia have for years been mapping the resource competition, military implications and geostrategic challenges that climate change will present in an ever-changing, climate-affected Arctic. What a gift to them if we stop making our own assessments because we have our heads buried in the sand while their eyes are on the tundra.”

Teensy bees living off woman’s tears removed from her eye: Physicians found four sweat bees in a Taiwanese woman’s swollen left eye after she complained of weakened vision and agonizing pain. Sweat bees are 3 to 4 millimeters (0.12-0.16 inches) long. The four were extracted without damaging them. Like other bees, this species normally feeds on nectar and pollen, but human perspiration provides “precious moisture and salts,” according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Hung Chi-ting, the head of the ophthalmology department at Taiwan’s Fooyin University Hospital, said it was fortunate that the woman only waited a few hours to come to the hospital because the bees had already caused severe corneal erosion and a delay might have forced him to remove her eyeball.

• Housing discrimination has a long history as a major contributor to the titanic wealth gap between black and white Americans:

Wealth is a crucially important measure of economic health—it allows families to transfer income earned in the past to meet spending demands in the future, such as by building up savings to finance a child’s college education.

That’s why it’s so alarming to see that, today still, the median white American family has twelve times the wealth that their black counterparts have. And that only begins to tell the story of how deeply racism has defined American economic history.

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On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin, who’s not shy but is retiring, brings a mix of polling & international intrigue. Joan McCarter has this year’s nominees for Most Dangerous Man in DC. Trump to spike Office of Personnel Management, because he’s so awesome at personnel.

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