1. says


    Jim Jordan asks Zelinsky who the supervisor referenced in his opening statement is.

    J.P. Cooney, he says.

    This was the tense exchange Zelinsky had with Cooney in the aftermath of the Stone sentencing….

    [at the link]

    J.P. Cooney is the chief of the public corruption unit in the DC US Attorney’s Office. It’s extraordinary to me that it was a Republican congressman hostile to this hearing who first elicited his name from Zelinsky.

    If you are investigating the politicization of the Stone prosecution, the name of the DOJ official through whom the political influence was transmitted to the prosecution team is likely to be *the most important fact* a member of the prosecution team can give you.

    We got it two hours into the hearing because Jim Jordan made a blunder.

    Will Nadler now subpoena J.P. Cooney?

  2. blf says

    Reality is biting back in Texas, Texas Covid-19 cases hit all-time daily high as Houston hospitals near capacity:

    Texas recorded an all-time daily high of 5,489 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday as hospitals neared capacity in Houston.

    The dramatic increase in cases prompted the governor, Greg Abbott, to tighten public health restrictions after resisting calls to slow the state’s reopening process.

    Cases have steadily increased in Texas since March, but a surge in the past two weeks has activated concerns about the state’s ability to respond.

    To cope with the surge, some adult ICU patients are being treated at Texas Children’s hospital in Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city.

    “Just like that — in Houston we, the pediatricians at Texas Children’s Hospital, will now start seeing adult patients,” tweeted pediatrician Shubhada Hooli. “I’m up for the challenge, but please help us out. #WearAMask and stay home. I guess its time to retire my giraffe reflex hammer…”

    I know of some alleged governors and a so-called president who need a giraffe to fall on them. Unfortunately, that would probably hurt the giraffe even if it managed not to get shot by teh policegoons.

    Houston’s Texas medical center, often referred to as the largest medical center in the world, showed its ICU beds were at 97% of normal capacity[]. The hospital has maximum capacity for nearly 1,000 more ICU beds if it activates its plans for public health emergencies.


    Texas was one of the first states to reopen, prompting Donald Trump to praise Abbott’s leadership of the state during the pandemic. At a meeting in the White House in May, the president [sic] said of Abbott: I rely on his judgement.

    In the face of criticism that Texas was reopening too quickly, Abbott had insisted the state could contain any new outbreaks. But the skyrocketing number of cases have prompted him to reverse course.

    Abbott tightened lockdown restrictions on Tuesday — one day after declaring that Texas would remain wide open for business.

      † When I checked, it was 1298 ICU beds occupied out of a normal total of 1330 available. No idea what the situation is with regards to staffing or PPE for the health workers.

  3. says

    Guardian (support the Guardian if you can) – “Thousands gather for Russia’s Victory Day parade as Covid-19 cases pass 600k”:

    Few face masks could be seen in Red Square as Vladimir Putin hosted foreign leaders and war veterans, now in their 90s, at the country’s Victory Day military parade, which came as the number of coronavirus cases in Russia surpassed 600,000.

    Thousands of Muscovites ignored calls to stay home and crowded along Tverskaya Street and near the Kremlin to see tanks, artillery pieces, and ICBMs make their way through Moscow and on to Red Square, where the parade marked the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

    The president of Kyrgyzstan, who had travelled to Moscow for the parade, said he did not attend because two members of his delegation tested positive for Covid-19.

    As refurbished Soviet T-34 tanks made their way onto the square, Russian medical officials announced they had counted 7,176 new cases of coronavirus, including 811 in Moscow, bringing the country’s total to 606,881 cases. Officially, 154 people were reported to have died in the last day from the disease.

    More than 20 cities across Russia cancelled their festivities, saying they were concerned for the health of veterans and the public. But key cities like Moscow have pushed forward, even appearing to curtail coronavirus restrictions to prepare for the parade. Large gatherings are still banned for fear of spreading the disease.

    On Red Square, Kremlin officials said they had tested all those attending for Covid-19. More than 80 veterans, some who flanked Putin on the parade bleachers, had been quarantined for two weeks in a Moscow region sanatorium before the parade.

    Spectators were separated by empty seats but otherwise the parade differed little from the outsize display of Russian military power that it has become in recent decades.

    In a speech, Putin did not mention coronavirus and delivered largely conciliatory remarks that only nodded at his sharper accusations published in English earlier this week, that the west was rewriting the history of the war.

    Putin, who has largely appeared on television from a windowless room panned as his “bunker” since April, shook hands with war veterans and met friendly leaders from mainly ex-Soviet countries, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Moldova, and Uzbekistan, as well as Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    He was forced to delay the parade from 9 May by more than a month due to the coronavirus epidemic, which has upended a busy political season in Russia during which Putin is seeking to change the constitution to allow himself to stay in the Kremlin until 2036, if he so chooses.

    Online voting for the referendum on the plan will begin in less than 24 hours and the Kremlin is hoping for a boost from the patriotic spectacle, which featured an air force flyover and soldiers dressed in the replica uniforms from the second world war.

    Key guests like China’s Xi Jinping and France’s Emmanuel Macron had cancelled, downgrading the event from the showcase of global diplomacy that the Kremlin hoped the anniversary to be.

    But those who made the trip were enthusiastic. The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, who was sharply criticised for holding his own 9 May parade despite the coronavirus epidemic, was joined on the parade bleachers by his two sons. The Serbian leader, Alexandar Vučić, thumped his chest as a delegation of soldiers marched by the podium….

  4. blf says

    Hair furor is at again. Again. Trump admin mulls new tariffs on $3.1bn of European, UK exports:

    The US. is weighing new tariffs on $3.1 billion of exports from France, Germany, Spain and the UK, adding to an arsenal the Trump administration is threatening to use against Europe that could spiral into a wider transatlantic trade fight later this summer.

    The US Trade Representative wants to impose new tariffs on European exports like olives, beer, gin and trucks, while increasing duties on products including aircrafts, cheese and yogurt, according to a notice published late Tuesday evening. The statement lays out a month-long public comment period ending July 26.


    The new duties might be as high as 100%, which would double the price of such products for U.S. importers and may prevent their entry into the US entirely.


    New US duties might also dampen demand for German beer ahead of any Oktoberfest celebrations that aren’t already canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.


    The Distilled Spirits Council in the US said it opposed any additional spirits tariffs, which would “escalate trade tensions across the Atlantic and further jeopardize American companies and hospitality jobs already under duress as a result of COVID-19,” according to a statement.

    The move is related to Europe and America’s 15-year-old World Trade Organization aircraft subsidy fight. A couple of years ago the Geneva-based trade arbiter said both the US and the EU were guilty of illegally supporting their respective aircraft industries.

    [… tit-for-tat details…]

  5. says

    Here’s a link to the June 24 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their summary:

    The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he expects the number of coronavirus cases around the world to reach 10 million in the next week. Nearly 9.3 million people have tested positive for the Sars-CoV-2 virus, and 478,289 have died of Covid-19, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

    Pandemic rule enforcement in Europe disproportionately impacted racialised individuals and groups, who were targeted with violence, discriminatory identity checks, forced quarantines and fines, according to a report by Amnesty International on 12 European countries.

    Volunteers in Brazil and South Africa began to receive injections of an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by researchers at Oxford University. The vaccine, developed together with AstraZeneca, is one of dozens that researchers worldwide are racing to test and bring to market. It is already being tested in volunteers in Britain.

    Iran’s deputy health minister has called for mask wearing to be made compulsory, as the country reported its highest daily coronavirus death toll in more than two-and-a-half months on Wednesday. The health ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday that 133 fatalities in the past 24 hours brought the country’s overall virus death toll to 9,996.

    Portugal has tightened restrictions in and around Lisbon after recording thousands of new cases in recent weeks. From 21 May to 21 June, the country has documented more than 9,200 new cases – a rate per 100,000 inhabitants that ranks among the highest in Europe, behind only Sweden, according to data compiled by news agency AFP.

    India has recorded its highest one-day rise in new coronavirus cases, with 15,968 infections detected in the past 24 hours…. So far, 456,183 people in India have tested positive for the virus.

    Latin America’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday, according to Reuters, while the number of infections, at 2.2m, doubled in less than a month. The region has seen a spike in cases and deaths even as the tide of infection recedes in Europe and parts of Asia.

    France’s coronavirus contact-tracing app has alerted just 14 people that they have been near someone with the virus in three weeks since its launch, with only 68 people have signalling they has tested positive on the app. Digital minister Cédric O said the app was installed 1.8m times since 2 June, but had been subsequently uninstalled by 460,000.

    Seven US states have reported their highest coronavirus patient admissions in the pandemic so far. Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas –which also confirmed a record daily case increase on Tuesday – each admitted record numbers of infected people to hospital, the Washington Post reported.

    UK medical leaders warned of “real risk” of a coronavirus second wave just a day after the biggest lifting yet of lockdown restrictions in England. “While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk,” said the experts.

  6. says

    JUST IN: Judge Amy Berman Jackson making super clear to US Atty’s office in DC that she wants to know if acquiesence in Roger Stone’s request to delay prison is a special favor or really policy.”

    Minute Order and link to background information at the link. The order reads:

    The government’s submission due on June 25, 2020 should direct the Court to any existing DOJ or USAO-DC policies concerning responding to defendants’ requests to voluntarily surrender or to delay surrender dates in light of COVID-19, and it should indicate how it has responded to similar motions in other cases.

  7. blf says

    Trump in Arizona: My border wall stopped the coronavirus.
    blf in S.France: your rallies in OK and AZ will infect people there and in other states.

    In the blazing heat, Trump briefly stopped to inspect a new section of the concrete and rebar structure where the president [sic] and other officials took a moment to scrawl their signatures on the wall.

    Isn’t that — graffiti — vandalizing or destroying Federal property, and so (see @425(previous page)), quoting hair furor, the Federal Government [shall] arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act?

    It stopped COVID, it stopped everything, Trump said.


    Trump’s visit to the Phoenix church comes on the same day that Vice President [sic] Mike Pence kicked off a faith-centred tour, highlighting the central position that religious conservatives — particularly white evangelicals, but also right-leaning Catholics — continue to occupy in the president’s [sic] base. […]

  8. says

    I’m glad Rep. Raskin recognized how effective Ayer is as a witness and focused his questions on him.

    In other news, “Polish officials look amused as a White House official screams at reporters to leave the room.”

    Video atl. Duda is here shortly before Polish elections in which he’s a candidate, during a pandemic, now laughing at Trump’s disgusting thwarting of press rights.

  9. says

    Andrew Desiderio:

    Scoop: The White House asked a Republican senator to block a bill that punishes China over its encroachments in Hong Kong.

    That senator, Kevin Cramer, obliged, blocking unanimous passage of the bill last week — even though he’s a co-sponsor of it.

    The episode, which had not been previously reported, underscores the uphill battle for Congress’ China hawks as they push the Trump administration to punish Beijing over an array of issues, from Hong Kong to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Cramer told me that 30 mins before Van Hollen tried to UC the bill, WH sent a list of proposed “technical” changes.

    Cramer defended his decision, saying he hopes the bill eventually passes but that he wanted to try to “accommodate” the admin’s concerns.

    Politico link atl.

  10. says

    Ayer on Barr’s actions related to Lafayette Square: doesn’t know what went on behind the scenes, but Barr’s subsequent statements “haven’t covered him in glory”; “his handling of” questions about it “was such as to give us enormous distrust in what he says.”

  11. says

    Follow-up to comment 450 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    Whatever Trump Admin May Say, Locals Want Fed Support For Testing Sites

    People living in communities hit hard by COVID-19 want federal support for free, drive-through testing sites in their communities to continue.

    The Trump administration is letting support for 13 testing sites around the country lapse on June 30, meaning that the federal government will stop supplying testing kits, staff, and contracts for laboratories and patient notification of results across five states at the end of this month.

    After TPM broke the story on Tuesday, Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir issued a statement saying that the government was not ending “funding or support” for COVID-19 testing sites, but that it was instead focusing on a separate program supporting testing at pharmacies and federally qualified health centers.

    “The only truthful, but still misleading report in the media, is that we are transitioning 13 sites from the original now antiquated program to the more efficient and effective testing sites outlined above,” Giroir said, adding that governors from the five affected states had “agreed that it was the appropriate time to transition out of the original 13 sites and into the thousands of new testing options.”

    At the same time as Giroir calls the testing sites “antiquated” and praises the “new testing options,” local officials and representatives for some of the testing locations have been begging his department to keep supporting the sites.

    Take the example of Texas.

    COVID-19 is battering the state with abandon, with the state recording its fastest-yet rate of increase in cases. Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) advised citizens to stay at home on Wednesday, while stopping short of issuing a formal order that would require citizens to do so.

    Houston has been especially hard hit, with some hospitals in the city seeing as much as 47 percent more COVID-19 patients than they did a week ago.

    Dr. Umair Shah, head of public health for Harris County, where Houston is located, sent a letter to HHS and FEMA on June 20 asking them to extend federal support for sites in the city.
    “We need to do everything we can to continue #COVID19 #testing – we do not need less testing which is what @FEMA’s departure would mean, we need instead more esp as #HarrisCounty #Houston see increases in cases/hospitalizations”

    Dr. Shah was joined in his demand by City of Houston Public Health Authority Dr. David Persse, who sent a separate letter to HHS on the same day asking for an extension for federal support for the sites. [Letter available at the link]

    The demand for continued support for the sites appears to exist outside of the hotspot state of Texas.

    In relatively mildly hit Colorado, for example, the federal government has continued to support a testing site in Pueblo County.

    Randy Evetts, public health director for the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, said on a press call on Tuesday that he expected his state department of health would step in to keep the site open.

    “We’ve been requesting it since end of May, first part of June, and we have been told that we have been able to extend it,” Evetts said. “It’s coordinated very closely with our state emergency management department, and so I’m not completely clear if it’s going to remain an HHS site or if it’s going to be a state site.”

    Pueblo’s site tests 250 people a day. For Evetts, that’s a significant help.

    “We’re looking at trying to expand our testing so that we have the capacity and capability to reach out to vulnerable populations that cant get access,” he added.

    In Pennsylvania, the feds have continued to support a site that was nearly closed in April. But that one — in Montgomery county — would also lose support at the end of this month.

    A spokesperson for Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) told TPM that her office “is reaching out to our Governor’s office to discuss this and lobby the federal government to keep this necessary community-based testing sites in place.”

    “Rep. Dean is especially concerned about this plan considering Dr. Fauci’s testimony yesterday and the nationwide upward trend of Coronavirus cases,” the spokesperson added.

  12. blf says

    US immigration agency proposes job cuts that could halt system:

    US Citizenship and Immigration Services is preparing to furlough 70 percent of its staff, worsening immigration backlog.


    US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) […] is dependent on fees from new immigration applications for its operations and is facing a historic budget shortfall. Meanwhile, President [sic] Donald Trump has made cutting legal and undocumented migration a centrepiece of his 2020 re-election campaign.

    The number of new immigrants coming into the US has been dramatically stemmed by new regulations and a series of executive actions, along with travel restrictions put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The agency has already seen a 50 percent drop in fees since March, when most travel and immigration stopped as countries moved to control the spread of coronavirus, a USCIS spokesperson said in a statement.


    The furloughs [c.13,400 USCIS employees], if implemented, “will for sure cause noticeable delays immediately,” one USCIS employee, who asked not to be named, told the Reuters news agency. “There are already so many backlogs to work through. It’s insane to even contemplate how bad this is going to get.”

    Meanwhile, the staff of the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations division of USCIS has been informed in an email seen by Reuters that notices would be sent on July 24 and 25 to approximately 1,500 employees of the 2,200 on staff in that unit.


  13. says

    Kayleigh McEnany:

    Today’s decision by an appeals court to dismiss the case against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is a VICTORY for justice and truth.

    All Americans are entitled to equal justice under the law and due process. No American should ever be unjustly targeted by their government.

    FLYNN [US flag emoji]

    Susan Hennessey:

    Trump world is pushing an exceptionally bizarre and dishonest misreading of the DC Cir. opinion. The issue is about a federal court’s ability to get answers regarding politicization and irregularity in DOJ decision making. It is in no way a substantive vindication of Flynn.

    They are actually celebrating the opinion because it allows DOJ to drop charges without having to account for its own conduct. But they are pretending the opinion is about affirming that Flynn was wrongly prosecuted or that dropping charges was just.

  14. blf says

    US officials summon National Guard troops to protect monuments:

    Officials in Washington DC and Wisconsin seek help protecting statues and monuments targeted by anti-racism protesters.

    Hundreds of unarmed National Guard troops have been activated and on standby in Washington DC, to assist law enforcement personnel with protecting historical monuments in the United States capital, officials said on Wednesday, after protesters tried to tear down a statue of Andrew Jackson in a park near the White House and threatened others in the city.

    If they really are unarmed, that show someone has at least attempted to think it through, albeit not very well — troops, unarmed or not, will escalate the anger.

    Meanwhile, in the Midwest state of Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers said on Wednesday he was prepared to activate the National Guard to protect state properties after protesters outside the Wisconsin Capitol tore down statues commemorating an abolitionist and women’s rights and threw a Molotov cocktail into a government building during a night of violence that also included an attack on a state senator.

    If there was a Molotov cocktail or an actual physical attack on anyone, then yeah, someone went waayyyy out-of-bounds. But again, troops are not a way to descalate and defuse tensions. Although I wonder about this one: (1) Who are the people commemorated on the “statues commemorating an abolitionist and women’s rights” — or more to the point, What was the problem with the statues? … and (2) Who did the tearing-down (doesn’t quite seem like BLM / antifa?)?

  15. says

    SC @16, Yes. Trump world is pushing a dishonest reading of the DC Circuit opinion. Trump just added his own take, which is that Flynn was “exonerated” No! He was not.

    The Hill link

    […] Trump said Thursday that his former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been “essentially exonerated” by new documents unsealed in his criminal case.

    “He’s in the process of being exonerated. If you look at those notes from yesterday, that was total exoneration,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday, after suggesting that the media wasn’t covering the story properly. “These were dirty, filthy cops at the top of the FBI.”

    That’s a lie. It was NOT “total exoneration.”

    “He is essentially exonerated,” Trump continued. “Now, that’s not official yet, but when you read the notes, how can you do anything else?” […]

    “Now, we have to see what’s going to happen, but General Flynn was treated … like nobody in this country should be treated,” Trump told reporters while meeting with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in the Oval Office.

    “They came at him with 15 buses and he’s standing into the middle of the highway,” Trump continued. “They tormented him. They destroyed him.”

    Asked whether he thought it was a mistake to fire Flynn in February 2017 after details about his contacts with the Russian diplomat emerged, Trump said he wished he had “all of the information” to weigh the question.

    Trump also said that he doesn’t “have to stay out of it,” apparently referring to Flynn’s case, but that he would “like to stay out of it.” […]

  16. says

    ‘We feel anguished’: ICE is still endangering parents and kids by keeping them jailed amid pandemic

    Face masks weren’t the only things facility officials reportedly rushed to give detained immigrants before an inspection of a Texas facility by a congressional delegation earlier this week. A mom detained by immigration officials at the privately run migrant family jail said that after denying her 8-year-old son any toys, staff gave him one just minutes before members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were set to arrive […]

    But the traumatic treatment of this child by officials isn’t the family’s only worry, the report continues. They’re currently in the isolation wing of the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, after they were told a staffer who has tested positive for COVID-19 was in contact with them. The mom, who asked to not be identified to protect her case, said her son is now terrified. “I tell him we’re not going to die,” she told the AP. “We feel anguished. We can’t do anything for our own lives or the lives of our children.”

    […] we know ICE lies as sure as the sun rises in the morning. Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas, among the Hispanic Caucus members who inspected facilities this week, tweeted: “Some detainees told us that many of them did not get masks until April,” weeks after officials claimed they’d given masks to detainees. Garcia further told San Antonio Current that she believes some mask distribution and “enforcement of the masks just started last week in anticipation of our arrival. It looked like window-dressing for our visit.”

    According to the report, two CoreCivic employees and one ICE employee who work at Dilley or were at the facility have tested positive, endangering all 160 children and families currently jailed there. […] the detained mom told the AP that ICE hasn’t yet tested the families who were in contact with the staffer. […]

    “ICE was sued earlier this year by advocates for a 5-year-old boy who had suffered a head injury before his family was arrested by immigration agents,” the AP continued. “His aunt alleged Dilley medical staff was disregarding the child’s severe headaches and hypersensitivity to sound. He and his mother were eventually released after an appeals court prevented their deportation.”

    This is intentional child abuse—and it’s happening in front of our eyes with state approval.

  17. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Huh! They’ll call out the National Guard to protect the statue of a long-dead traitor, but if you’re a black person confronted by cowardly, racist cop, you’re on your own.


  18. says

    Steve Herman:

    …”We expect to get along with Russia. We expect to get along with everybody,” says @POTUS, adding #Germany is not treating @NATO fairly.

    “After the election they’ll just have to pay more,” says @POTUS of #Germany and its defense costs….

    Does he…think it’s 2016?

  19. says

    From Wonkette: Let’s Watch Kamala Harris Slap John Cornyn Upside The Head For Five Minutes

    Video available at the link.

    Senate Republicans offered a piddly-ass bill that gently, but not too strongly, encouraged police departments to “revise their practices,” which in a total coincidence keep resulting in dead Black folks. The police have proven no more capable of voluntarily reforming themselves than Keith Richards in the 1970s, so Senate Democrats blocked the bill today. Republicans are aghast: “But we thought you wanted meaningless reform that changes nothing but will make us look slightly less racist during an election year?”

    The gentlewoman from California wasn’t having it. Kamala Harris said the Senate can’t pass a “police reform bill” that doesn’t reasonably address the concerns of Black people, who the police are killing … a lot. […]

    Republicans wanted to slap South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s smiling face on their raggedy-ass bill like it’s a pancake syrup, but the bill didn’t even remove the “qualified immunity” that shields police from murder-related lawsuits or impose new federal restrictions on lethal force (like, please stop doing it so much). The most it could muster was a “penalty” of less free money for police departments that don’t require the use of body cameras. I think cops would gladly pay you Tuesday for not incriminating themselves today. […]

    When John Cornyn grossly claimed that Democrats were “blocking their own lynching bill,” which shows you how much he cares about the lynching bill, Harris informed him she wasn’t falling for the Republicans’ banana in the tailpipe.

    HARRIS: I think it’s important we not get distracted. We cannot pull out a specific component of this bill and leave everything else in the garbage bin. And that is the logical and practical and actual conclusion of where you are going with the suggestion that we would sacrifice issues like no-knock warrants, issues like national standard for use of force, issues like the need for independent investigations for police misconduct, issues like pattern and practice investigations with subpoena power for the United States Department of Justice … […]

    Cornyn asked Harris if she’d yield for a question, and Harris said, “Absolutely,” but she cocked her hips as she said it, as though she was preparing to skin him alive. Never ask a Black woman a question under those circumstances. Let your curiosity remain unsatisfied.

    He asked if Harris was “familiar with the rules of the Senate that allows senators to offer amendments to improve legislation.” Yes, she is, asshat, and Harris reminded the Texas senator that they both serve on the Judiciary Committee, where Democrats had asked for a meaningful discussion but none occurred. Cornyn kept digging.

    CORNYN: What I’m trying to fathom … is why the senator would rather have these negotiations occur behind closed doors as opposed to here on the floor of the Senate to see broadcast on television. Don’t you think that sort of interaction and debate and negotiation out in front of all 330 million Americans would be beneficial to healing our country?

    If you too were having trouble figuring out what Cornyn’s damned point was, he was annoyed that Democrats were blocking the bill rather than letting it pass and then offering amendments to it later. Because they should trust Mitch McConnell. Harris responded like she was talking to simple-minded kids watching “Ms. Kamala’s Neighborhood.”

    HARRIS: “Indeed. That is the beauty of the Judiciary Committee. Our meetings are public meetings.” She paused to give Cornyn a chance to recover and respond, but it was cold without his skin, so he just slunk away

    Scott tried to save the useless bill with an even more useless speech about how it was an opportunity to say “not only do we hear you, not only do we see you, we are responding to your pain.” I’m not into kink shaming, but I know few Black people who are into having salt poured into our police-inflicted wounds.

  20. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Brazil recorded 42,725 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours as well as 1,185 new deaths resulting from the disease, the country’s health ministry has said.

    The country has registered nearly 1.2 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths total 53,830, according to the ministry.

  21. blf says

    Eric Metaxas Says Black Lives Matter Is an Evil Enemy Run by Mad Marxist Anarchists:

    Black Lives Matter does not care about Black lives, [radio ranter Eric] Metaxas said, marveling at the level of cynicism and deception that he claimed was at work behind the movement.


    Ignoring the fact that Christianity was long used to justify and defend the practice of slavery in America, Metaxas insisted that the only reason that we know racism is wrong is because of the Bible and that all of the people who opposed racism, who opposed slavery, who opposed Jim Crow … got their ideas from the Bible.

    The only reason we abolished slavery, the only reason we had a civil rights movement is because of the Bible, he claimed. It was because of Jesus and because of a lot of white people, especially in the abolitionist movement, that we had the end of slavery, that we had a war to end slavery.

    Ok, extra for referring to as the war to end slavery. In fact, minus the Mr Carpenterson reference, that very last quote is sufficiently plausible to have not warranted eejit quotes. Everything else has a high batshite loony rating.

  22. blf says

    Various snippets from links at Right Wing Watch:

    ● Twitter Permanently Bans Pro-Trump Meme Creator Carpe Donktum for Repeated Copyright Violations:

    Twitter’s move to kick Carpe Donktum off the platform Tuesday came just days after a video from the account — tweeted by Trump — was pulled after a copyright complaint from the original video’s owner. The doctored video of a pair of 2-year-olds in New York was faked to appear as if it had aired on CNN, with fake chyrons reading Terrified Todler [sic] Runs From Racist Baby and Racist Baby Probably a Trump Voter. The father of one of the boys, whose viral video was featured in a CNN story last year, filed a DMCA takedown notice over the Carpe Donktum meme.

    Twitter previously had removed several Carpe Donktum videos after receiving DMCA takedown notices for copyright infringement, including one shared by Trump in February 2019 lampooning congressional Democrats during the president’s [sic] State of the Union speech that included R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.”


    In July 2019 [“Carpe Donktum”, Logan] Cook met with Trump at the White House’s social-media summit, where the president [sic] referred to him as a genius, the Washington Post reported.

    Meanwhile, Carpe Donktum accounts remain active on Facebook and Instagram […]

    ● Matt Gaetz complains his history is being erased by people who are ashamed of the Confederacy at the hearing on Roger Stone. He also ranted about Secretary Clinton, the size of his penis, Benghazi, and having only one tongue to lie with, concluding [W]e have the audacity to have a meeting about the rule of law on a case that’s already over, on an impeachment that’s already failed, when there is real work for this committee to do. It’s a joke.

    ● Richard Spencer Loses Attorney in Charlottesville Case Because He’s Too Broke to Pay Legal Fees. The judge is clearly losing patience with the nutcase (Law & Crime edits in {curly braces}):

    The judge chided Spencer in a footnote for emailing the judge directly about his apparent financial woes: “The Court … disapproves of Mr. Spencer emailing documents, such as a brief in opposition, that should be filed with the Clerk’s Office. Moreover, the Court will not allow ex parte communications absent a properly filed motion requesting such relief.”

    The judge further ordered that Spencer will be “solely responsible for conducting his defense in accordance with all rules, court orders, and deadlines” — unless he finds a new attorney — and that “{n}either the trial date nor any deadline will be continued because of the granting of the motion to withdraw.”

  23. says

    Chris Lu:

    New @IHME_UW model:

    179,000 Americans projected to die by Oct.

    33,000 of those deaths could be prevented if people wore masks

    Meanwhile, we have a president who won’t wear a mask and holds events where no one wears masks – and GOP governors who think masks are unconstitutional

  24. tomh says

    To celebrate the pathetic, partisan opinion of Judge Rao (one of Trump/McConnell’s most insidious appointees) today in the Flynn matter, the Senate confirmed the 200th Trump appointee to the bench.

    Senate confirms 200th judicial nominee from Trump, a legacy that will last well beyond November
    By John Wagner
    June 24, 2020

    A divided Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Trump’s 200th judicial nominee, a milestone that reflects the breakneck speed at which he and fellow Republicans have moved to create a legacy that will endure regardless of the outcome of this year’s elections.

    On a largely party-line vote of 52 to 48, the Republican-led chamber approved the nomination of Cory Wilson of Mississippi to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, elevating another conservative judge to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.

    For the first time in more than four decades, there are no longer any vacancies on the nation’s appellate courts, the judicial level where most of the major rulings are handed down.

    The effect of the GOP push was made clear on Wednesday, as a federal appeals court ruled that a longtime district judge cannot scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its long-running prosecution of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and must dismiss the case.

    The ruling was written by Judge Neomi Rao, a recent nominee of the president.

    Wilson … called the Affordable Care Act “illegitimate” and “perverse” and wrote that he wished the Supreme Court would strike down the signature health-care law that Obama signed in 2010.

    Wilson’s confirmation came less than a week after the Senate approved Judge Justin Walker, Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, elevating a young conservative and a protege of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the powerful post.

    The high-profile appeals court has been a pipeline for nominees to the Supreme Court and handles major clashes between Congress and the White House, along with challenges to administration policies.

    Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized Walker’s nomination as part of a pattern in the Senate of fast-tracking young, inexperienced lawyers whom lawmakers characterized as “hostile” to the 2010 Obama-era health-care law and civil rights.

    BTW, Susan Collins voted with the 47 Democrats in an effort to shore up her re-election campaign.

  25. says

    CNN – “GOP aghast as Trump’s polls sink amid divisive racial rhetoric: ‘It’s been a bad couple weeks'”:

    …Instead of seeking a unifying tone, Trump has retrenched into the divisive themes he believes are the not-so-secret ingredient to his political success thus far. A successive series of advisers have encouraged a bigger approach they believe more befits an incumbent President. But Trump has resisted, unwilling or unable to move past the rhetoric he insists is a political winner.

    That the current tumult over race coincides with troubling news for his reelection prospects — including sinking poll numbers and a disappointing foray onto the campaign trail last weekend — has only sharpened the impression of Trump reaching for racially divisive language and messages as both a political life jacket and a personal security blanket.

    The examples have mounted. On Monday, a day before Trump delivered his speech in Arizona, he tweeted seemingly random videos portraying White people being assaulted by Black people, asking in one, “Where are the protesters?” Last week he posted a blatantly manipulated video of Black and White toddlers, suggesting the news media was inaccurately covering American race relations.

    His attacks on his predecessor Barack Obama, which began with his promotion of the racist “birther” conspiracy 10 years ago, have continued, including his suggestion this week that Obama had committed “treason” and — if it were 50 years ago — some in his administration may have been executed.

    In his vehement opposition to athletes kneeling during the National Anthem at professional sports games, Trump has called players “sons of bitches” and suggested they are un-American — even as their kneeling protests seek to highlight police brutality.

    Trump has openly used imagery and descriptions of police tactics that hearken to the violence during the civil rights era, including descriptions of “vicious dogs.” He tweeted a phrase, “when the looting starts, shooting starts,” that originated in the 1960s with a police chief in Miami accused of racism.

    And while Trump has stressed the importance of preserving the nation’s history and “heritage” as he takes steps to prevent the destruction of Confederate monuments and symbols, he did not acknowledge the racist violence that took place in Tulsa 99 years ago when he visited the city for a campaign rally the day after Juneteenth.

    Even as institutions like NASCAR — as rooted in White American culture as Trump is — seek to eliminate vestiges of a racist past, the President has resisted and this week signaled he would sign an executive order to protect monuments like a statue of Andrew Jackson, a predecessor he admires and whose portrait hangs in the Oval Office.

    Racial overtones filled Trump’s appearance in Phoenix. The President was onstage and nodded in approval as a young woman lamented the loss of the branding of the Aunt Jemima pancake mix and accused White, evangelical pastors of telling their congregations to “kneel and apologize for the color of their skin.”

    Another speaker, an African American woman, claimed her college had shut down a conservative student group but allowed a group that supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The mention of Sanders’ name brought more boos and led one person in the crowd to yell: “And he’s a Jew!” (The group Students for Trump later said the comment does not reflect its views and the individual would have been “promptly removed” had “we been alerted” to the incident when it occurred.)

    Across the country in Washington, Republicans hope that the last few weeks are only a blip in the high-stakes campaign.

    “What we see right now is all aimed at taking everybody down,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican of West Virginia. “Obviously if his poll numbers are down, it doesn’t mean they can’t come back up.”

    Much more atl.

  26. says

    CNN – “GOP aghast as Trump’s polls sink amid divisive racial rhetoric: ‘It’s been a bad couple weeks'”:

    …Instead of seeking a unifying tone, Trump has retrenched into the divisive themes he believes are the not-so-secret ingredient to his political success thus far. A successive series of advisers have encouraged a bigger approach they believe more befits an incumbent President. But Trump has resisted, unwilling or unable to move past the rhetoric he insists is a political winner.

    That the current tumult over race coincides with troubling news for his reelection prospects — including sinking poll numbers and a disappointing foray onto the campaign trail last weekend — has only sharpened the impression of Trump reaching for racially divisive language and messages as both a political life jacket and a personal security blanket.

    The examples have mounted. On Monday, a day before Trump delivered his speech in Arizona, he tweeted seemingly random videos portraying White people being assaulted by Black people, asking in one, “Where are the protesters?” Last week he posted a blatantly manipulated video of Black and White toddlers, suggesting the news media was inaccurately covering American race relations.

    His attacks on his predecessor Barack Obama, which began with his promotion of the racist “birther” conspiracy 10 years ago, have continued, including his suggestion this week that Obama had committed “treason” and — if it were 50 years ago — some in his administration may have been executed.

    In his vehement opposition to athletes kneeling during the National Anthem at professional sports games, Trump has called players “sons of [b—–s]” and suggested they are un-American — even as their kneeling protests seek to highlight police brutality.

    Trump has openly used imagery and descriptions of police tactics that hearken to the violence during the civil rights era, including descriptions of “vicious dogs.” He tweeted a phrase, “when the looting starts, shooting starts,” that originated in the 1960s with a police chief in Miami accused of racism.

    And while Trump has stressed the importance of preserving the nation’s history and “heritage” as he takes steps to prevent the destruction of Confederate monuments and symbols, he did not acknowledge the racist violence that took place in Tulsa 99 years ago when he visited the city for a campaign rally the day after Juneteenth.

    Even as institutions like NASCAR — as rooted in White American culture as Trump is — seek to eliminate vestiges of a racist past, the President has resisted and this week signaled he would sign an executive order to protect monuments like a statue of Andrew Jackson, a predecessor he admires and whose portrait hangs in the Oval Office.

    Racial overtones filled Trump’s appearance in Phoenix. The President was onstage and nodded in approval as a young woman lamented the loss of the branding of the Aunt Jemima pancake mix and accused White, evangelical pastors of telling their congregations to “kneel and apologize for the color of their skin.”

    Another speaker, an African American woman, claimed her college had shut down a conservative student group but allowed a group that supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The mention of Sanders’ name brought more boos and led one person in the crowd to yell: “And he’s a Jew!” (The group Students for Trump later said the comment does not reflect its views and the individual would have been “promptly removed” had “we been alerted” to the incident when it occurred.)

    Across the country in Washington, Republicans hope that the last few weeks are only a blip in the high-stakes campaign.

    “What we see right now is all aimed at taking everybody down,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican of West Virginia. “Obviously if his poll numbers are down, it doesn’t mean they can’t come back up.”

    Much more atl.

  27. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, It got to 38 degrees in the Arctic! Civilisation is burning down (cartoon): “New research proves what we already knew, the main problem with climate change is … the super wealthy!”

    From the BBC, Arctic Circle sees ‘highest-ever’ recorded temperatures:

    Temperatures in the Arctic Circle are likely to have hit an all-time record on Saturday, reaching a scorching 38C (100F) in Verkhoyansk, a Siberian town.

    The record still needs to be verified, but it appears to have been 18C higher than the average maximum daily temperature in June.

    Hot summer weather is not uncommon in the Arctic Circle, but recent months have seen abnormally high temperatures.

    The Arctic is believed to be warming twice as fast as the global average.

    Verkhoyansk, home to about 1,300 people, sits just inside the Arctic Circle, in remote Siberia. It has an extreme climate with temperatures plunging in January to an average maximum of -42C and then surging in June to 20C.

    But a persistent heatwave this year in the Arctic Circle has worried meteorologists. In March, April and May, the Copernicus Climate Change service reported that the average temperature was around 10C above normal.

    Earlier in June, parts of Siberia recorded 30C, while in May, Khatanga in Russia — situated in the Arctic Circle at 72 degrees north — set a new May temperature record of 25.4C.

    It was c.25℃ where I live by the Mediterranean Sea.

    Over the last few months a large area of high pressure in eastern Russia has been dominant. This has led to southerly winds bringing warmer air from near the tropics, leading to higher than average temperatures.

    However, the persistence of this weather pattern has led to a longevity and scale of heat that is worrying. This is consistent with what climatologists believe will happen in the Arctic with climate change.

  28. says

    Ashish Jha:

    We’ve all been hearing about states with spiking cases, specifically AZ, TX, FL, and NC

    But there are 5 other states where data also very concerning

    They have rising case count, rising test positivity, and rising hospitalization

    They each deserve more attention…

    [numbers provided for Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nevada, and South Carolina]

    So in each of these 5 states

    Cases are up
    % of tests positive are up
    hospitalizations are rising.

    This is very concerning.

    Remember that rising hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, occurring 10-12 days after infection, 5-7 days after symptom onset

    That means that as hospitalizations rise, you’ve got 10+ days of rising infections baked in

    Each of these states needs to take more urgent action to curtail its rising number of infections.

    Window for action is much narrower than most people realize.

    There are other states where data also look concerning but where one of the criteria (% positive, new hospitalizations) either not rising significantly or not available.

    But am still worried about them.

    They include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Utah, to name a few.

  29. says

    Amanda Litman:

    In NY’s primary, I didn’t vote for Biden. (I believe in voting your [heart] in primaries, even in long-over races.) But I want to tell you a story — in a long thread, sry! – about why I’m not just voting *against* Trump but actively *for* Biden this fall. TL;DR: It’s about grief….

  30. says

    New episode of Trump, Inc. – “Trump Team Online”:

    …“Trump, Inc.” explores the Trump campaign’s universe of podcasts and YouTube shows, which has expanded since the coronavirus began locking down huge swaths of the country….

    People are starting to pay attention. Nightly programming of the unofficial Trump Network reaches upward of a million viewers each week. It’s a realm dedicated to reinforcing even the president’s most incendiary ideas — with no pushback, skepticism or difference of opinion.

    To learn more about how the programs lay out their views of everything from bin Laden assassination plots to the controversy over vote by mail, listen to this week’s episode of “Trump, Inc.”

    22-minute podcast at the link. The fact that so many family members are involved (and cashing in) makes it even more cultish.

  31. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 44

    “There needs to be a national conservative pro mask movement or lots of Americans are going to needlessly die.”

    Yeah, after decades of the Right cultivating a culture of anti-science toxic individualism currently “informed” by a bunch of antigovernmental conspiracy kooks, good luck with that.

  32. says

    Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian – “For a bitter taste of Polish populism, just watch the evening news”:

    As Poland approaches the climax of a presidential election campaign on which the future of its democracy depends, and Donald Trump gives his fellow populist Andrzej Duda electoral help by receiving him in the White House, come with me on a tour through the magical world of the evening News programme on Polish state television (TVP).

    We start on Sunday 14 June. The first item marks the 80th anniversary of the first deportation of Poles to Auschwitz in 1940. This is indeed a moment worthy of the most solemn remembrance. Too many people around the world forget that innocent and sometimes heroic Poles were the first prisoners in Auschwitz. But in the entire news item, lasting more than four minutes, the words ‘Jewish victims’ do not appear once. Instead, the head of the Institute of National Remembrance tells viewers: “That was the purpose of Auschwitz – that there would never be an independent Poland; to murder it.” No other groups of victims are mentioned until the footage of a memorial ceremony in Berlin, where the Polish ambassador to Germany says that from the moment of the creation of Auschwitz “we talk of the Holocaust”.

    Soon the programme turns to what can only be described as pure election propaganda for the candidate of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), Trump’s pal Duda, the country’s current president. Sample:

    Announcer: Voters speak about the credibility of Andrzej Duda.

    Unidentified woman: He’s a great patriot and really we need such patriots, and not any of those egoists.

    After berating Poland’s independent media, the News turns to differences between Duda and the front-running opposition candidate, Rafal Trzaskowski. Now the Jews do get an explicit mention, as the programme characterises the two candidates’ allegedly different responses to Jewish restitution claims, or, as the announcer puts it “giving money back to the Jews for the second world war”.

    Then comes an attack on Trzaskowski for his “way of thinking, thinking not in line with Polish interests”….

    The next day News tells us that President Duda’s “family charter” envisages “the defence of children against LGBT ideology”. Returning to the Jewish restitution theme, the announcer makes this truly despicable claim:

    “Experts have no doubt [that] the stream of money that currently flows from the state budget into the pockets of Polish families will dry up if Trzaskowski, after his possible victory in the presidential election, will seek to satisfy Jewish demands.”

    And so it goes on, day after day, with the crude, mendacious, repetitive blows characteristic of propaganda….

    Polish state television makes Fox News look like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It is still notionally meant to be a public service broadcaster, but since the Law and Justice party won both parliamentary and presidential elections five years ago it has become a partisan mouthpiece, widely known as “TVPiS”. With the ruling party obviously rattled by the Trzaskowski challenge, it has now plumbed new depths.

    One media monitoring service found that, between 3 and 16 June, nearly 97% of TVP News stories devoted to Duda were positive while almost 87% of those on Trzaskowski were negative. Worse than that, it has descended into the paranoid mental world of the far right, where spotless, heroic, perpetually misunderstood Poles are being conspired against by dark international German-Jewish-LGBT-plutocratic forces meeting secretly in Swiss chateaux.

    …Professedly defending Poland’s good name, TVP is besmirching it. Detecting anti-Polish forces everywhere, it is itself an anti-Polish force, doing serious damage to the country’s reputation in the world.

    A defeat for PiS-man Duda in this election could stop Poland descending all the way down the Hungarian path, and that would have positive implications for the whole of Europe. But even then, the long-term future of democracy in Poland will depend on defending free and diverse media.

    (Tangential opinion: since so many writers can’t seem to stop using the word “emasculate” on their own, news outlets should prohibit it.)

  33. says

    Here’s a link to the June 25 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their summary:

    Cases worldwide passed 9.4 million on Thursday, with the WHO saying it expected global infections to pass 10 million by the end of the week. At least 480,000 people have died so far.

    Cases continue to surge in the Americas, with the United States confirming its second-highest one-day total in the pandemic so far, with 34,700 new infections, according to Oxford University data project Our World in Data. Mexico confirmed its second-highest daily coronavirus death toll so far, with 947 fatalities on Wednesday.

    Europe has seen a surge of Covid-19 cases since countries began easing restrictions, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, has told reporters. “Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months,” he said, adding that more than two dozen countries in Europe had recorded resurgences of the deadly virus.

    Israel is experiencing an alarming surge in new coronavirus cases, which has prompted the government to approve the reimposing of a controversial tracking system administered by the country’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet.

    The World Health Organization has warned that hospitals are facing a shortage in oxygen concentrators, which are needed to support the breathing of Covid-19 patients suffering from respiratory distress, as 1 million new cases of coronavirus are confirmed worldwide per week….

  34. says

    Also from the Guardian liveblog:

    Over one thousand workers employed on projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have tested positive for the coronavirus, and an engineer has died after contracting Covid-19, as preparations for the tournament have continued relentlessly despite the global pandemic.

    The 51-year-old engineer, who died on 11 June, is the first reported coronavirus death among world cup workers. He had worked on World Cup projects since October 2019 and had no underlying health issues, the Supreme Committee, the body organising the World Cup, said in a statement.

    A source close to the organising committee also confirmed a report that around 1100 World Cup workers have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the outbreak.

    Qatar has one of the highest rates of infection per capita in the world, with almost 92,000 cases, in a population of just 2.8 million. During May over a third of those tested were found to be positive. The number of deaths have remained low, with just 106 fatalities.

    Despite the high infection rate, there has been almost no let up in the pace of construction at the new stadiums. Last week, Education City stadium, the third of eight World Cup venues to be completed, was officially opened.

    In mid-April the organising committee told the Guardian that eight workers employed on World Cup projects had tested positive, but until now the Qatari authorities, FIFA and FIFA’s human rights advisory board have refused to release any further figures.

    Human rights groups have accused the Qatari authorities and FIFA of putting workers’ welfare at risk in the race to complete the stadiums.

  35. says

    David Gura at NBC – “1.48 million people filed for first-time unemployment last week, worse than predictions”:

    Around 1.48 million people filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, the 14th consecutive week that states have processed over a million first-time applications — and a larger weekly figure than economist predictions of 1.35 million.

    While the figures for the week ending June 20 are a far cry from the peak of 6.6 million in March, it is still an astonishing number, and a continuation of the grim ritual that has happened at 8:30 a.m. every Thursday since the pandemic hit, when the Department of Labor announces how many claims have been made for unemployment insurance.

    The U.S. economy is showing some signs of improvement — in housing and online retail sales, for instance, but the labor market is still in rough shape.

    As the downturn wears on, economists are paying closer attention to continuing claims. According to the latest release from the federal government, around 20 million are still out of work and receiving ongoing benefits.

    [Moody’s economist Mark Zandi] argues the economy needs more sustained support, and he worries about what will happen when emergency benefits expire, at the end of July. A Democratic proposal would extend the expanded unemployment benefits that give jobless Americans up to an additional $600 a week through the end of the year.

    Tens of millions of Americans would be out of work, Zandi said, and many of them would have no savings. “That is fodder for a recession,” he argued, adding that would be the case regardless of what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The U.S. officially hit a recession in February, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the agency that identifies periods of economic growth and contraction.

    [Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome] Powell has studiously avoided advising lawmakers on what kind of fiscal support the economy needs, but he has suggested there is a need for Congress and the administration to do more.

    “The economy is just now beginning to recover,” he told members of the House Financial Services Committee last week. “It is a critical phase, and I think that support would be well placed at this time.”

    Trump has suggested the economy will bounce back as states lift lockdowns, but the growing number of out-of-work Americans filing for benefits suggests that is not happening.

    Businesses that have been trying to stay afloat — with help from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Main Street Lending Program — are now plotting a path forward.

    According to Knightley, “If you are still firing 1.5 million people in the middle of a reopening story, that to me suggests that these are companies trying to adjust their workforces to a new future that they are anticipating.”

    On Capitol Hill, the Fed chairman acknowledged the labor market is going to look different in the months and years ahead.

    “I think there are going to be a large number of people who will not be able to immediately go back to work at their old job, or even in their old industry,” Powell said. “There will be a significant group that is left over even after we get the employment bounce.”

    According to Powell, there are 25 million workers who have been “displaced,” as he put it. “We have a long road ahead to get those people back to work.”

    During his testimony, Powell fielded questions from lawmakers about what that road will look like. Time and time again, he said it is dependent on how quickly and successfully we are able to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

    Like Powell, Grant Thornton’s chief economist, Diane Swonk, is paying close attention to public health data. “We have a long summer ahead of us,” she said. “We are in the thick of it all over again. This is a much more systemic problem than people are understanding.”

    So, when does the grim ritual end? Swonk said the economy faces another round of layoffs in the weeks to come, as state governments — many of which have to have balanced budgets — make some tough decisions about who they can keep on their payrolls.

  36. says

    Ari Berman:

    7 years ago today Supreme Court conservative majority led by John Roberts gutted Voting Rights Act, unleashing wave of new voter suppression in states like GA, TX & NC

    Bill passed by House to restore VRA has been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk for over 200 days

    States that previously had to approve voting changes under Voting Rights Act have closed 1,688 polling places since SCOTUS gutted law:

    -750 in Texas

    -320 in Arizona

    -214 in Georgia

    -126 in Louisiana

    -96 in Mississippi

    -72 in Alabama

    On the bright side, all of that voter suppression has led to these states having outstanding leadership during the pandemic.

  37. says

    Chris Mason, BBC:

    Long Bailey sacked:

    A spokesperson for Keir Starmer said:

    “This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the Shadow Cabinet. The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.”

    “As Leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority. Antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”

  38. says

    I had no idea:

    New figures out today: there are now more humanist marriages in Scotland (where they’ve been legally recognised since 2005) than Christian ones. Beggars belief that the UK Government continues to deny couples in England and Wales this same right.

    Parliament gave government the power to legally recognise humanist marriages in 2013. They’ve refused and since then, over 6,000 couples have had a humanist wedding without recognition. @RobertBuckland and @MoJGovUK could change that tomorrow if they wanted.

    There’s an order drafted and ready to go (it only requires secondary legislation). It would boost the economy, help clear the Covid wedding backlog, and give tens of thousands of waiting couples the choice they want. No brainer. Government inaction completely inexplicable.

  39. says


    ACTUAL quote from a “news” broadcast in [Hungary]:
    “Viktor Orban changed his profile picture. The photo got 60.000 likes in a few hours. Not only likes, but comments also. Many think the PM looks more handsome than earlier. Others believe the photo depicts a confident and strong leader”

    The personality cult forged by pro-government propaganda hits a grotesque new low every single day.

  40. says

    Re #33 above:

    Many of these testimonials are now done in a performative style because they’re made for FB Lives. Antivax groups in particular have been coordinating “no mask” testimonial sessions; the broader group watches and cheers along in the comments.

  41. says

    Aaron Rupar:

    During interview with Fox 10 Phoenix, Trump revealed he *still* hasn’t figured out that the 1918 flu pandemic didn’t happen in 1917

    Video atl. This is one of those Trump tics that makes me irrationally angry, like how he uses transitive verbs without the objects.

  42. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC@62 My guess is they don’t like the socialist nanny state telling them what is good for them. Their libertarian contrarianism is showing.

  43. says

    Nerd @ #64, it really seems to undercut their whole bullshit argument about how they oppose vaccines because they contain mercury or whatever. They just oppose any preventative measure? Are they protesting physical distancing? Handwashing?

  44. says

    Update to #s 98 and 210 on the previous thread – NPR – “Citing A Breached ‘Firewall,’ Media Leaders Sue U.S. Official Over Firings”:

    New U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack swept into office like a man on a mission last week, firing the top executives and advisory boards of federally funded international broadcasters which weekly reach 340 million people abroad. A new lawsuit alleges he broke federal law in doing so.

    On June 9, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Pack’s aides ordered the international broadcasters under his agency’s supervision to “freeze” all new hiring, staff promotions and other contractual obligations.

    The next day, Pack informed the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Office of Cuba Broadcasting and the Open Technology Fund that they were fired, effective immediately.

    He also disbanded their separate bipartisan advisory boards and replaced them with five Trump administration political appointees and an attorney who works for a Christian legal defense and advocacy group, according to the lawsuit.

    The lawsuit was filed by four former members of the advisory boards, including two former U.S. ambassadors with prominent roles in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, Ryan Crocker and Karen Kornbluh. They contend Pack has broken federal guarantees of the broadcasters’ journalistic independence.

    “Their independence from political interference is protected by a strict ‘firewall’ embodied in statutes, regulations, and binding contract provisions,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Pack’s actions this past week constitute the most egregious breach of that firewall in history.”

    As a legal matter, the suit contends the specific broadcasters are actually private non-profit corporations that receive federal grants but are not owned by the government. Pack therefore lacks standing to fire them, they argue. As he was coming into office this month, a key USAGM board restated the importance of the journalistic firewall of the broadcasters. It too was then dissolved.

  45. says

    G liveblog:

    Texas is halting its reopening as cases of coronavirus soar. Businesses allowed to open under the previous phases of reopening can continue to operate.

    A press release from the state governor’s office, quoted by CBS News, reads:

    The State of Texas will pause any further phases to open Texas as the state responds to the recent increase in positive Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations

    As we experience an increase in both positive Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families.

    As far as I know, Abbott is still refusing to let local officials mandate masks or implement other measures.

  46. KG says


    There ‘s a lot more context to Starmer’s sacking of Long-Bailey on the Grauniad UK politics live thread. It seems to be a considerable stretch to say the article Long-Bailey retweeted contained “antisemitic conspiracy theories”. It was an interview with the British actor Maxine Peake, in which she claimed the “neck-kneeling” practice that killed George floyd was taught to American police by the Israeli Secret Services. A spox for the Israeli police has denied this, I’ve no idea whether it’s true, offhand I wouldn’t have thought American police needed any training in violence against African-Americans, but it is apparently true that many American police forces are trained by Israeli “security” services, who themselves have quite a reputation for excessive use of force. But why should an accusation against Israeli security forces, even if false, be characterised as an “antisemitic conspiracy theory”? Of course the Israeli lobby in the UK (and it would be absurd to deny the existence of such a lobby) will so interpret it, because they want any serious criticism of the Israeli state or its forces to be seen as antisemitic. Starmer himself justifies the sacking in terms of the priority he gives to “regaining the trust of the Jewish community”. But this identification of “the Jewish community” (I know quite a few British Jews who will be furious at this sacking) with the interests of the Israeli state is not good for British Jews. Starmer may well have been pleased to have an excuse to sack Long-Bailey, the only “Corbynite” left in the shadow cabinet, but it will be seen as a declaration of war by many on the Labour left.
    Starmer himself explains the sacking in terms of

  47. says

    About various rightwing media outlets claiming that Bubba Wallace perpetrated a hoax:

    I swear I’m not going to spend this day explaining to people that a NASCAR official was the one who found the noose, reported it and then NASCAR released a public statement. It wasn’t the media or Bubba Wallace.

  48. says

    KG @ #70, thanks for the information. Hm. I think I’m with Starmer on this. Given the history of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorizing, I question the purpose of alleging a vague, unevidenced link to Israel for something that, as you note, would hardly need to be taught to US police forces and which I don’t think has been shown to be a “practice” or “tactic” that’s taught at all, much less to these specific policemen. Even if the assertion turned out somehow to have some basis in reality, there’s no way for Peake or Long-Bailey to know that, so it’s a stretch to draw some connection to Israel for this murder of a black man by US police. I’m no defender of the Israeli government or its security forces, but I think insinuating this sort of influence in an inflammatory situation is really questionable.

  49. says

    Ah – from the UK liveblog (linked @ #70): Maxine Peake just tweeted: “I feel it’s important for me to clarify that, when talking to The Independent, I was inaccurate in my assumption of American Police training & its sources. I find racism & antisemitism abhorrent & I in no way wished, nor intended, to add fodder to any views of the contrary.”

  50. says

    SC @37, dissemination of disinformation via Fox News affects what people do, (and don’t do), in the red state in which I live.

    The frame on my prescription sunglasses broke. I really find it difficult to do without that pair of glasses, so I decided to gear up for a trip to the office of my optometrist, (the office sold the frame to me, so the fix would be free). I donned a hat, other glasses, and a mask.

    At the office, I saw five workers not wearing masks. The only preventative measure was a plexiglass barrier around the reception desk.

    This was a medical office, and office where work was done on a face-to-face basis … and no one I saw was wearing a mask. (I didn’t see what the situation was in the actual exam rooms.)

    I kept trying to back away from the young man trying to fit my newly-fixed frame to my face. The dialogue running in my head was, “Don’t touch my face!”

    Luckily, there were only two other patients in the large waiting room, so I was able to stay socially distant from them.

    Our political leaders in this state keep saying that they trust people to take the right steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. No. Just, no. They have to mandate the right steps.

    I will feel better about this visit to the optometrist after about 14 days … if I am still healthy.

  51. says

    SC @33, JFC! Why is it always worse than I thought it was? “Masks are killing people.” “God’s wonderful breathing mechanism …” Why do they think all of those hospital workers are wearing masks?

  52. says

    SC @77, yeah, that’s a noose. That’s what you think when you see it. And extra care was taken to make the garage pull look like a noose. For right-wingers, this is another “don’t believe your eyes” moment.

    In other news: White House’s dubious line on ventilators unravels for Trump

    “When we took over, we didn’t have ventilators,” Trump has repeatedly argued. Even the Trump administration now concedes that was a lie.

    “We had a ventilator problem that was caused by the fact that we weren’t left ventilators by a previous administration,” Donald Trump said in April, referring to his Democratic predecessor. Soon after, the president argued, “When we took over, we didn’t have ventilators. Nobody knew what a ventilator was.”

    For Trump, this line of attack — repeated over and over again the past couple of months — serves a handful of purposes. First, it advances his goal of blaming Barack Obama for, well, everything Trump can think of. Second, it reinforces the president’s goal of convincing the public that he’s overcome insurmountable hurdles that mere mortals couldn’t have addressed.

    […] Trump believes this is an angle to the coronavirus response that’s legitimately worth bragging about. His administration went from having no ventilators in the national stockpile to having so many ventilators that the United States can now export them abroad. It’s a success story.

    At least, it would be, if the president’s version of events were true. As the Washington Post noted, reality tells a different story.

    There were nearly 17,000 ventilators available for use that had been left behind by the Obama administration. Trump instinctively wants to blame Obama, but no matter how you do the numbers, 16,660 is far more than zero.

    It’s worth emphasizing that the 16,660 figure came by way of the Trump administration itself: the Department of Health and Human Services released the information this week to

    The president’s “cupboards were bare” talk has long been absurd, and now the rhetoric looks just a little worse.

    Complicating matters, presidential dishonesty isn’t the only relevant angle to the larger story. NBC News reported overnight on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, who’s pressing the White House for answers on why the administration is sending ventilators abroad without congressional approval, and whether the distribution process has been politicized.

    “I write to express concern about the absence of clear guidelines for providing ventilators to foreign countries,” the New Jersey Democrat wrote in a letter to Trump. Menendez is also seeking the White House’s criteria for deciding which countries should receive ventilators.

  53. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 62

    It seems right now that anti-vaxxers and the militia, anti-government, NWO conspiracy kook Right are running in the same quarters these days. Depending on who you talk to, the severity of COVID-19 has been grossly exaggerated by “THEM” (e.g. Big Pharma, Big Tech, the Deep State, Globalists, Jewish lizard me, Satan’s interdimensional communist demons, etc.) or have fabricated the existence of the virus completely as part of their nefarious plans for world domination. Since the pandemic is “fake,” then any public health measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus (e.g. masks, social distancing, quarantine, contact tracing, future vaccination programs) is really a means to crash our wonderful free-market capitalist economy, embarrass Dear Leader Trump, and foist a “vaccine” upon the public containing nanoscopic tracking devices. Therefore, wearing a mask is a sign that you are cowardly submitting to will of the shadowy forces who want to enslave you. Refusing to mask-up is a sign of patriotic defiance.

  54. says

    MSNBC is airing Biden’s speech in Lancaster, PA, right now. He’s talking about Trump’s cruelty, callousness, and dishonesty.

    “That’s what he’s worried about. He’s worried about looking bad.”

  55. says

    Pseudonymous Cow 1, Devin Nunes 0

    In March 2019, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) thought it’d be a good idea to sue Twitter and some of its users, accusing them of defamation and negligence. As NBC News reported at the time, the defendants included two pseudonymous parody accounts: “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.”

    The Republican congressman — who, ironically, co-sponsored legislation intended to discourage frivolous lawsuits — sought $250 million in damages. No, seriously.

    […] as the Fresno Bee reported yesterday, the case was a predictable failure.

    A judge has ruled that Rep. Devin Nunes has no right to sue Twitter over statements made by a fake Internet cow, someone parodying his mother and a Republican strategist. Judge John Marshall said in a decision Friday that Twitter was “immune from the defamation claims of” Nunes, R-Tulare, due to federal law that says social media companies are not liable for what people post on their platforms.

    […] This is not to say the case was inconsequential: […] when Nunes first sued, in part over the “Devin Nunes’ Cow” Twitter account, it had 1,000 followers. Thanks to the California Republican’s litigation, it now has over 725,000 followers.

    […] All is not lost for Nunes, however. According to a recent tally from Dana Milbank, the congressman has also filed suit against the Washington Post, McClatchy, CNN, Hearst Magazines, Fusion GPS, Republican strategist Liz Mair, a watchdog group called the Campaign for Accountability, and an organic fruit farmer who called Nunes a “fake farmer.”

    The GOP lawmaker has faced some questions about how he’s paying for all of this litigation.

    My bet is that is Nunes is not obeying House Ethics rules that require him to publicly disclose who is funding the legal work.

  56. says

    SC @81, Biden sounds good. He made a good case for:
    – wearing masks
    – expanding testing
    – continuing the practice of social distancing
    – mocking Trump for asking his people to slow down testing
    – working with allies and other global health organizations to contain the coronavirus pandemic
    – fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act as Trump tries to destroy it

  57. says

    SC @84, right. But Trump gives such bad speeches that we are all too pleased to hear that Biden at least makes sense when he speaks. Pretty sure that Biden didn’t lie during that speech.

  58. says

    From New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    You told the people of your state, and you told the people of this country, White House, “Don’t worry about it. Just open up, go about your business, this is all Democratic hyperbole.”

    Oh, really? Now you see 27 states with the numbers going up. You see the death projections going up. You see the economy going down. It was never politics. It was always science. And they were in denial, and denial is not a life strategy.

    Cuomo was referring to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and to other Republican governors.

  59. says

    He Removed Labels That Said ‘Medical Use Prohibited,’ Then Tried To Sell Thousands Of Masks To Officials Who Distribute To Hospitals.

    TPM link

    Using TaskRabbit and Venmo, a Silicon Valley investor and his business partner had workers repackage non-medical KN95 masks so he could sell them to Texas emergency workers.

    Lucas Rensko was making money through a popular handyman-for-hire app called TaskRabbit, doing odd jobs and delivering groceries, when he picked up a task that led him to a leaky-roofed warehouse on a tattered road in northwest San Antonio.

    Inside, a man named Jaime Rivera had set up long tables where five or six other “Taskers” earning about $20 an hour were ripping Chinese masks out of plastic bags and stuffing them into new ones that were identical but for one potentially deadly difference. The old packages were labeled in all caps “MEDICAL USE PROHIBITED,” meaning not to be used by doctors and nurses who need the strongest protection from tiny particles carrying the novel coronavirus. The new bags, intended to make their way to Texas hospitals, simply omitted that warning. […]

    Texas officials have tried to block ineffective masks from making their way to hospitals with screenings and by rejecting anything labeled as non-medical, yet at the same time, the mysterious brokers sourcing millions of masks were working hard to evade those safeguards. The operation Rensko witnessed had the potential to push faulty masks into the Texas supply chain just as Gov. Greg Abbott eased lockdown restrictions and COVID-19 infections began to soar.

    […] Rensko knew something wasn’t quite right and walked away from the TaskRabbit gig. He told his wife, who told a friend, who told another friend, who told me.

    Over weeks of reporting, I’d learn that Rensko had scratched the surface of a larger scheme involving a Silicon Valley investor named Brennan Mulligan to sell what Texas health officials later flagged as “fraudulent” masks to the agency directing protective equipment to hospitals. Mulligan had enlisted Rivera, who was desperate for money after the pandemic had sapped his primary source of income, building furniture and manual labor via TaskRabbit. As countless others have, the two had a chance to make money off of the country’s public health nightmare.

    […] Both would defend their actions as simply cutting through onerous red tape put up by the Chinese and U.S. governments to get masks to those desperate for them.

    […] The federal government’s efforts to get protective equipment out quickly to essential workers had failed spectacularly, and the supply chain that normally moves products from producers to vendors to end users had almost completely broken down. Counterfeit masks were flooding the market, and prices for even unreliable masks had skyrocketed. […]

    The 6-foot stack of boxes were labeled as coming from a Chinese manufacturer, Guangzhou Aiyinmei Co. Ltd., which had been identified by the FDA as one of the companies producing ineffective KN95s. The masks filter as little as 39% of particles, according to testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re so ineffective that Canada issued a recall. The FDA had hastily approved them and others for health care use at the beginning of the pandemic, but it changed its mind last month, even as millions of the masks circulated in the U.S. […]

  60. says

    Biden on Trump: ‘Amazingly, he still hasn’t grasped the most basic fact of this crisis: to fix the economy we have to get control over the virus. He’s like a child who can’t believe this has happened to him. All his whining & self-pity … his job is to do something about it’.”

    Video atl.

  61. says

    So much for the rightwing talking point that outdoor protests would spread the coronavirus:

    […] In Minneapolis, the cradle of the current movement, there have been testing sites stood up specifically for those who attended the protests.

    Four sites run in partnership with the Mayo Clinic reported late last week that only 62 positive cases came out of 4,487 people tested, for a positivity rate of 1.4 percent, said Dave Verhasselt, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health. […] Hospitalizations have also continued their steady decline in the state.

    New York City, which sometimes saw thousands of protesters demonstrating in multiple boroughs at once, is “not seeing an increase in cases associated with the demonstrations (as of yet),” Michael Lanza, NYC Health Department spokesperson, told TPM.

    In particular, New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said that her department has been closely tracking hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and has seen no spike since the protests began.

    The public health department in Seattle is telling the same story. […]

    And in Washington D.C., which has been undulating with daily protests for weeks — memorialized most famously in pictures from the aggressive clearing of Lafayette Square for the President’s photo-op — the positivity rates are getting better, not worse.

    “D.C. Health is still analyzing data to assess the impact of first amendment events in D.C., however we are continuing to see a downward trend in cases overall for the District,” D.C. Health spokeswoman Alison Reeves told TPM.

    The same seems to be true in cities across the country.

    The National Bureau of Economic Research produced a working paper on Monday after analyzing data from 315 cities that had protests.

    “We find no evidence that net COVID-19 case growth differentially rose following the onset of Black Lives Matter protests, and even modest evidence of a small longer-run case growth decline,” the researchers concluded. […]

    It’s not that there was no spread of the coronavirus, but it is true that there has not been a huge spike.

    “My first reaction is that we’re lucky,” laughed Dr. Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

    She pointed to two features of the protests in her home city of New Orleans that appear to be shared with demonstrations in other cities: they are taking place outside, and the majority of participants are wearing masks.

    Compare that to Trump’s recent indoor, mask-less rallies.

    More at the link.

  62. says

    Trump Has Made More Than 18,000 False Claims Since Taking Office. Voters May Have Finally Had Enough.

    “He is the only president since World War II who has never once achieved a 50 percent approval rating.”

    Nine years after award-winning reporter Glenn Kessler became the editor and chief writer of the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” “awarding Pinocchios” has entered the vernacular of Washington insiders as a euphemism for “calling out falsehoods.”

    Using a sliding scale of one to four Pinocchios, Kessler and the fact-check team made it their job to keep track of how well politicians tell the truth—and how far they stray from it. “We’ve not often used the word ‘lie,’” Kessler said in an interview […] “Because ‘lie’ means deliberate.” Even so, at last count, the team has awarded more than 18,000 Pinocchios to President Trump for his many, many distortions, false claims, mistruths, and outright lies since the beginning of his term in office. It’s a process that Kessler and his fellow fact-checkers, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, detail in their new book, Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies.

    “He has created his own alternative reality,” said Kessler of his experience covering Trump, describing an entrenched psychology of denial, aided and abetted by a right-wing media ecosystem, that goes far beyond mere flubs or petty exaggerations. Kessler describes an all-out attack on the very idea of the truth, with real-world impacts. “Let’s talk about the coronavirus for instance,” Kessler said. “He convinced himself it was not a problem.” […]

    While the fact-check team has committed to keeping up their database of Pinocchios for the first four years of Trump, Kessler is not sure if he’d sign up for a second term of fact-checking if Trump gets reelected—especially because Trump’s rate of falsehoods have surged from an average rate of six per day during his first year of presidency to 22 now.

    “It’s just a terrible time suck,” Kessler complained. “The Post may have to hire a few more people for us to keep it up.”

  63. says

    Good … for now. Judge throws out attempt to block Trump’s niece’s book.

    A New York judge on Thursday tossed an application by […] Trump’s brother Robert seeking to block a tell-all book by their niece Mary.

    In the ruling, Queens County Surrogate Court Judge Peter Kelly said Robert Trump’s filing contained “several improprieties,” dismissing it on the grounds that it should have been filed in the New York Supreme Court.

    The Surrogate Court is responsible for handling wills and estate issues. Lawyers for Robert Trump had argued that a confidentiality clause Mary signed during the disposition of Trump’s father Fred’s estate, she is legally barred from publishing the book.
    “The court has promptly and correctly held that it lacks jurisdiction to grant the Trump’s family’s baseless request to suppress a book of utmost public importance and concern,” Mary Trump’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous, said in a statement. “Democracy thrives on the free exchange of ideas, and neither this court nor any other has authority to violate the Constitution by imposing a prior restraint on core political speech.” […]

    Robert Trump will proceed with filing a new lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court.

  64. KG says

    Further to #95,

    Of course Starmer can’t say anything about Israeli police kneeling on the necks of Palestinians, because then he’d have to expel himself from the shadow cabinet for antisemitism.

  65. says

    Oh, no. This is bad.

    The Supreme Court just allowed Trump’s expansion of deportations to go unchecked.

    Asylum seekers now have little recourse to challenge fast-tracked deportations.

    The Supreme Court just issued a ruling with sweeping, immediate implications for the immigration enforcement system, potentially allowing the Trump administration to move forward in deporting tens of thousands of immigrants living in the US with little oversight.

    The case, Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam, concerns immigration officials’ authority to quickly deport migrants who don’t express fear of returning to their home countries, which would make them eligible for asylum. The process, first enacted in 1996 and known as “expedited removal,” takes weeks, rather than the typical years it can take to resolve a full deportation case, and does not involve a hearing before an immigration judge or offer immigrants the right to a lawyer.

    In a 7-2 decision, the justices found Thursday that newly arrived immigrants don’t have the right to challenge their expedited removal in federal court, which advocates claim is a necessary check on immigration officials to ensure that migrants with credible asylum claims aren’t erroneously turned away and have access to a full and fair hearing.

    Until recently, only a small number of immigrants who had recently arrived in the US could be subjected to expedited removal. But […] Trump has sought to vastly expand US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s power to use expedited removal as a means of deporting any immigrant who has lived in the US for up to two years, potentially affecting an estimated 20,000 people.

    Thursday’s decision therefore allows Trump to significantly scale up his immigration enforcement apparatus while going largely unchecked.

    “Trump has made it very clear that ICE has the authority to use this process throughout the entire country,” Kari Hong, a professor at Boston College Law School, said. “They could start stopping anyone at anytime on any suspicion that they have committed an immigration violation and deport them. I don’t think it’s unreasonable [to predict] that ICE agents will target dark-skinned individuals.”

    [snipped details available at the link]

    The Trump administration has also proposed changes to the credible fear interview process that would make it much more difficult for asylum seekers to pass the credible fear screening.

    […] What’s more, CBP agents have historically failed to identify and refer every migrant who claims fear of persecution in their home country to asylum officers, allowing people with potentially valid asylum claims to fall through the cracks, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, a professor at Pennsylvania State Law, said. […]

    The implications for asylum seekers caught in the middle of Trump’s efforts to expand expedited removal are clear: Because the government faces no possible repercussions for wrongfully subjecting migrants with legitimate asylum claims to expedited removal, it will have no incentive to prevent mistakes from happening.

    “The decision deprives [asylum seekers] of any means to ensure the integrity of an expedited removal order, an order which, the Court has just held, is not subject to any meaningful judicial oversight as to its substance,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

    More at the link.

  66. says

    Follow-up to comment 98.

    From Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern: The Supreme Court Doesn’t See Asylum-Seekers as People

    […] In a 7–2 ruling, the justices approved the Trump administration’s draconian interpretation of a federal law that limits courts’ ability to review deportation orders. This time around, the court did not note immigrants’ contributions to the nation or acknowledge their humanity in any way. Having last week treated one class of immigrants like actual people, the court on Thursday pivoted back to callous cruelty. All of the chief justice’s kind words about DACA recipients seemingly do not apply to immigrants who—according to the executive branch—do not deserve asylum. […]

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned a lengthy, vivid dissent joined by Justice Elena Kagan that accused the majority of flouting more than a century of precedent and “purg[ing] an entire class of legal challenges to executive detention.” (In his own opinion, Alito dismissed Sotomayor’s criticisms as mere “rhetoric.”)

    This outcome strips due process from immigrants seeking asylum, who now have even fewer rights to a fair adjudicatory process under an expedited system that already afforded them minimal protections. It will also embolden the Trump administration to speed up deportations for thousands of people with no judicial oversight. […]

    Alito breezily dismissed Thuraissigiam’s individual claims by stripping a broad swath of constitutional rights from unauthorized immigrants. First, he declared that habeas corpus does not protect an immigrant’s ability to fight illegal deportation orders. Sotomayor fiercely contested this claim, citing an “entrenched line of cases” demonstrating that habeas has long protected the right of individuals—including immigrants—to challenge illegal executive actions in court. Second, Alito held that unauthorized immigrants who are already physically present in the United States have not actually “entered the country.” Thus, they have no due process right to challenge the government’s asylum determination. Sotomayor noted that this holding departs from more than a century of precedent by imposing distinctions drawn by modern immigration laws on the ancient guarantee of due process.

    Alito not only waved away these galling consequences; he seemed to laugh at them.

    The upshot of the decision will mean almost certain death for Thuraissigiam and others like him. Thuraissigiam faced brutal persecution in Sri Lanka, a fact Alito did not seem to understand at oral arguments. […]

    Alito not only waved away these galling consequences; he seemed to laugh at them. Not for a moment does he appear to believe that asylum-seekers may be genuinely in fear for their lives. Among the many bon mots dropped by Alito in his opinion, he wrote: “While [Thuraissigiam] does not claim an entitlement to release, the Government is happy to release him—provided the release occurs in the cabin of a plane bound for Sri Lanka.” Given that Thuraissigiam claims he will likely be tortured to death if he is sent back to Sri Lanka, it’s not clear that line means what he thinks it does. Throughout the opinion Alito refers to Thuraissigiam as either “alien” or “respondent” and appears simply incapable of imagining that his claims are truthful. […]

  67. says

    “The number of Americans who have been infected with the novel coronavirus is likely 10 times higher than the 2.3 million confirmed cases, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    In a call with reporters Thursday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said, “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections.”

    Redfield said the estimate is based on blood samples collected from across the country that look for the presence of antibodies to the virus. For every confirmed case of covid-19, 10 more people had antibodies, Redfield said.

    Using that methodology would pushes the tally of U.S. cases to at least 23 million.

    Redfield and another top official at the CDC said that young people are driving the surge in cases in the South and West. They attributed that to the broader testing of people under 50. “In the past, I just don’t think we diagnosed these infections,” he said. […]

    He also estimated that 92 to 95 percent of the U.S. population is still susceptible to the virus. […]

    Washington Post link

  68. says

    Treasury sent more than 1 million coronavirus stimulus payments to dead people, congressional watchdog finds.

    The checks sent to dead people as of April 30 totaled nearly $1.4 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office.

    Washington Post link

    […] The U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative agency that reports to Congress, issued the finding as part of a comprehensive report on the nearly $3 trillion in coronavirus relief spending approved by Congress in March and April. It said it had received the information from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in an accounting as of April 30.

    […] The news that so much money has gone to the dead could add to reluctance from some Republicans to agree to more direct relief payments.

    The GAO said that the payments to dead people came as Treasury and the IRS rushed to disburse some 160.4 million of these payments totaling $269 billion after the Cares Act was passed in March. The problem relates partly to the fact that, while the IRS has access to the Social Security Administration’s full set of death records, the Treasury Department and its Bureau of the Fiscal Service — which actually issue the payments — do not, the GAO said. [WTF? Why not?]

    The GAO also recommended that the IRS “should consider cost-effective options for notifying ineligible recipients how to return payments.” The IRS agreed with this recommendation in a response to the GAO.

    The IRS has previously said that stimulus payments issued in the name of dead people have to be returned. But aside from announcing on its website on May 6 that stimulus payments made to dead or incarcerated individuals should be returned, the IRS does not have plans to take additional steps toward recouping the payments, the GAO said. […]

  69. says

    Once a fraudster, always a fraudster.

    Former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff has reportedly pleaded guilty to criminal charges and is facing a separate SEC complaint for an allegedly fraudulent crypto-currency scheme.

    Abramoff did prison time a decade ago on notorious Bush-era corruption charges that dragged down other lobbyists, congressional staff, and one member of Congress. He was released in 2010.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California is charging Abramoff with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud and lobbying disclosure violations,” according to an SEC release.

    […] he could face up to five years in prison.

    The SEC announcement of its complaint alleged that Abramoff had conducted an “fraudulent, unregistered offering” of a BitCoin product, AML BitCoin.

    The scheme involved false claims that “multiple government agencies were negotiating to use AML BitCoin,” according to the SEC. The SEC said Abramoff “falsely claimed that they were on the verge of advertising AML BitCoin during the Super Bowl in an effort to create interest in the offering.”

    TPM link

  70. says

    KG @ #95, this was the claim made by Peake in the interview:

    “Systemic racism is a global issue,” she adds. “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

    This is an unfounded claim, as Peake herself recognizes. It was irresponsible, and not helpful to any of these causes I support:

    ending the militarization of policing
    ending the domestic importation of formal or informal practices or ideologies from imperial/colonial/occupation contexts
    ending the sharing of equipment and practices across racist/authoritarian regimes

    This isn’t an advanced technique or weapons system or something the US would need to get from abroad. And the US (and Britain) have a long history of racist, oppressive policing, both imported and exported. I agree with this from the article you linked:

    Still, while human rights activists have long denounced US and Israeli police exchanges, those speaking to MEE were quick to point out that the United States has its own history of police brutality and systemic racism.

    “It is important to understand that US police have harmed Black people long before Israel existed, and that Israel harms Palestinians without any special training from the US,” an activist whose work focuses on building Black-Palestinian solidarity told MEE.

    Even so, these training exchanges with Israeli law enforcement “should be opposed”, she said, “because they help two already repressive forces learn how to enhance state violence against populations fighting racism and colonialism”.

    I find this section troubling:

    Still, before being fired and charged over the incident, all four officers had been employed by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), which participated in a 2012 training conference in Minneapolis that was held by the FBI and Chicago’s Israeli consulate.

    MEE reached out to the MPD several times to inquire as to whether Chauvin was one of the 100 Minnesota police officers that participated in the training. The MPD did not respond to requests for comment, but before he was fired Chauvin was a training officer at the department, having worked there for the past 18 years.

    He’s a police officer in the US, with its history, and they’re focused on the possibility that he might have participated in a 2012 training conference with Israeli police in understanding this murder in 2020? It’s weird and unsettling.

    Honestly, if I were a Jewish Labour supporter I’d find this exhausting.

  71. says

    SC @104, that was great!

    In other news: 3 North Carolina police officers fired over racist rants.

    Three members of a North Carolina police department have been fired after a department audit of a video recording captured one of the officers saying a civil war was necessary to wipe Black people off the map and that he was ready. […]

    “When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened and disgusted,” Williams [Police Chief Donny Williams ] said at a news conference on Wednesday. “There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.”

    According to documents released by the police department, a sergeant was conducting a video audit as part of a monthly inspection and was reviewing footage from Piner’s car that had been classified as “accidental activation.” After the sergeant listened to the conversation and determined comments made by Piner and Moore were “extremely racist,” she contacted the department administrator for the camera system.

    At the 46-minute mark of the video, Piner and Gilmore began talking from their respective cars, at which time Piner criticized the department, saying its only concern was “kneeling down with the black folks.” About 30 minutes later, Piner received a phone call from Moore, according to the investigation, a segment in which Moore referred to a Black female as a “negro.” He also referred to the woman by using a racial slur. He repeated the use of the slur in describing a Black magistrate, and Moore used a gay slur to describe the magistrate as well.

    Later, according to the investigation, Piner told Moore that he feels a civil war is coming and that he is ready. Piner said he was going to buy a new assault rifle, and soon “we are just going to go out and start slaughtering them (expletive)” Blacks. “I can’t wait. God, I can’t wait.” Moore responded that he wouldn’t do that.

    Piner then told Moore that he felt a civil war was needed to “wipe them off the (expletive) map. That’ll put them back about four or five generations.” Moore told Piner he was “crazy,” and the recording stopped a short time later. […]

  72. says

    Reporters should be honest: McConnell doomed the police reform bill right from the start.

    Want to know why the police reform bill died in the Senate this week? Because, with the exception of must-pass government funding bills, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t know how to actually legislate in any instance that doesn’t involve him pulling a shifty procedural move in order to pass things on a party line basis.

    There is a formula for passing difficult legislation through the Senate—it involves bipartisan talks and inclusion in crafting the original legislation. […] But McConnell is either fundamentally incapable or just patently unwilling to engage in that kind of give and take, and reporters should be ethically bound to explain that to readers rather than telling them, as most did, that talks simply broke down.

    No, talks didn’t break down. There were no talks—just Republicans crafting their own bill and then demanding that Democrats deal with it. […] But reporters almost uniformly failed to explain to readers that McConnell’s approach ensured the police reform bill would be dead on arrival. […]

    CNN: Senate Democrats block GOP police reform bill, throwing overhaul effort into flux

    NPR: Senate Democrats Block GOP Police Reform Bill

    Politico: Dems sink GOP police bill, leaving Senate deadlocked as country reckons with racism

    […] reporters utterly failed to explain that Republicans predetermined the outcome from the start by cutting Democrats entirely out of the process of crafting the bill. McConnell could have let debate over the bill go through the committee process, otherwise known as regular order. He did not.

    […] In 2017, McConnell shaped his disastrous 400-page tax bill entirely behind closed doors and then, using a procedural stunt, passed it two weeks later without holding a single hearing and without getting a single Democratic vote. […]

    On taxes, McConnell managed to sneak his legislative love letter to the mega-rich through the Senate. It was a shoddy, dodgy legislative process that led to a terrible bill that most Americans still frown upon to this day. But at least back in 2017, most outlets went to the trouble of explaining upfront that Republicans were using procedural tricks to exclude Democrats […]

    on police reform, McConnell entirely sidelined Democrats once again. But this time he did it on a bill for which he couldn’t use any procedural hooey to push it through without Democratic votes. Therefore, the GOP bill was dead on arrival because McConnell ensured it would be.

    So, no CNN, this isn’t accurate:

    But efforts to find common ground have largely devolved into bitter, partisan finger-pointing …

    There were no “efforts to find common ground” by Republicans.

    And no, Politico, this technically true half-truth doesn’t cut it:

    The outcome is a deadlocked Senate once again, with both parties accusing the other of failing to negotiate in good faith …

    Readers deserve more than half truths in order to help them understand why this piece of legislation actually failed.

    NPR flirted with illumination, but still missed the mark:

    But by Tuesday, Democrats were demanding bipartisan talks before greenlighting floor debate. The move rankled Republicans, who say they already addressed Democrats’ demands to move quickly on a bill addressing police brutality.

    Perhaps explaining that bipartisan talks are the precursor to getting any tough legislation through would help readers make sense of what’s happening in Washington.

    […] the public would likely be much more grateful for the job Washington reporters are doing if these reporters made real, good-faith efforts to explain why nothing important or transformative ever seems to come out of our nation’s capital. Yes, the country is polarized. McConnell, in particular, holds the power to do something about that division and has explicitly chosen to do nothing but exploit it for his own political purposes.

    McConnell has broken the Senate on so many levels. But if that’s too big a story to explain in every piece, journalists could easily start small by relaying the simple and honest truth on a single piece of legislation.

    McConnell and the GOP caucus did not make an honest effort to broker a deal on police reform. That is the simple truth. And whether there was ever any consensus to be reached is something Americans will never know, because Mitch McConnell deprived us all of that opportunity.


  73. says

    So I’ve now read the full Peake interview (linked @ #103). I didn’t know who she was before this, but I like her.

    From there:

    Peake believes we should be able to learn from our smaller slip-ups, too – particularly when it comes to terminology. “The thing with language is I think some people get frightened,” she says. “When people don’t understand, they get frightened, and then they get embarrassed and then they get angry and then it turns ugly. We need to break down that embarrassment, don’t we? It’s alright to get it wrong as long as you’re gonna move towards getting it right. Sometimes I’d rather people say something wrong than never say anything because they’re too frightened. So you said something wrong – nobody died! Somebody pulls you up on it, somebody tells you the right word, then you move on. But we’ve got so much shame and guilt in our society about putting a foot wrong. I think people should be allowed to make mistakes, as long as people make those mistakes with a view to going, ‘Well how do I rectify this?’ But make that the culture. That it’s alright to get it wrong every now and again.”

    Peake campaigned for the Labour Party at the last general election, and was a vocal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn even as many people turned their back on him. “Those people who were normally Labour supporters who felt they couldn’t vote Labour? Well I’m sorry, they voted Tory as far as I’m concerned,” says Peake. “And it breaks my heart, because you know what? I didn’t like Tony Blair, but I still voted Labour because anything’s better than the Tories. There’s a lot of people who should hang their heads in shame. People going, ‘Oh, I can join the Labour Party again because Keir Starmer’s there,’ well shame on you.”

    What does she think of the new Labour leader? “You know what, at the end of the day, all I want is the Tories out. I think people will get behind Starmer, won’t they? He’s a more acceptable face of the Labour Party for a lot of people who are not really left wing. But that’s fine. Whatever. As long as the Tories get out, I don’t care anymore. You can’t be sad, you’ve just got to get on and organise, without standing at the rooftops and going, ‘You reap what you sow!’ There were moments when I wanted to scream that,” she adds with a doleful laugh, “but no, we’ve got to keep moving forward.”

  74. says

    Trump administration wants to open up 82 percent of Alaska reserve for drilling

    […] The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) unveiled its plan for oil and gas leasing at the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

    The plan would allow for 18.7 million acres of the approximately 23 million acre area to be leased to oil and gas companies.

    This is significantly greater than the 11.8 million acres of the reserve that are currently open for oil and gas leases.

    It would open to drilling all of the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, which is currently protected and is home to a variety of animals like caribou and migratory birds. […]

    Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Hill that she believes the plan is “incredibly reckless and short-sighted.”

    “It’s taking us in the exact wrong direction, which would spell more disaster for our climate and communities and species that are already feeling the effects of climate change,” Monsell said.

    An environmental impact assessment included in the plan said it would result in 12.4 million to 51.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions over a 20 year period.

    By contrast, keeping the status quo would result in 6.3 million to 26.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions over the same period. […]


  75. says

    From the NYT article to which SC linked in comment 112:

    Shortly after he became attorney general last year, William P. Barr set out to challenge a signature criminal case that touched President Trump’s inner circle directly, and even the president’s own actions: the prosecution of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer.

    The debate between Mr. Barr and the federal prosecutors who brought the case against Mr. Cohen was one of the first signs of a tense relationship that culminated last weekend in the abrupt ouster of Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan. It also foreshadowed Mr. Barr’s intervention in the prosecutions of other associates of Mr. Trump.

    By the time Mr. Barr was sworn into office in February, Mr. Cohen, who had paid hush money to an adult film star who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, had already pleaded guilty and was set to begin a three-year prison sentence, all of which embarrassed and angered the president.

    But Mr. Barr spent weeks in the spring of 2019 questioning the prosecutors over their decision to charge Mr. Cohen with violating campaign finance laws, according to people briefed on the matter.

    At one point during the discussions, Mr. Barr instructed Justice Department officials in Washington to draft a memo outlining legal arguments that could have raised questions about Mr. Cohen’s conviction and undercut similar prosecutions in the future, according to the people briefed on the matter.

    The prosecutors in New York resisted the effort, the people said, and a Justice Department official said Mr. Barr did not instruct them to withdraw the case. The department official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, noted that Mr. Cohen was convicted and sentenced in December 2018, before Mr. Barr was sworn in, so there was little he could do to change the outcome of the case.

    Still, Mr. Barr’s unexpected involvement in such a politically sensitive case suggested that he planned to exert influence over prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, long known for operating independently of Washington. Mr. Barr and other officials have told aides and other United States attorneys that the Southern District needs to be reined in. […]

    the Manhattan office had pursued investigations that angered Mr. Trump. During the case against Mr. Cohen, for instance, prosecutors had indicated that Mr. Trump directed the hush money payments, although the office was not seeking charges against the president.

    In addition to prosecuting Mr. Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer, the office has also been investigating his current one, Rudolph W. Giuliani, over his actions in Ukraine.

    Other points of contention included how to proceed against a state-owned Turkish bank that was eventually indicted in an alleged scheme to avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran, and the Justice Department’s decision to assign the United States attorney in Brooklyn to oversee all investigations into matters related to Ukraine. Mr. Berman’s office successfully fended off that oversight.

    The conflict erupted publicly last Friday, when Mr. Barr announced that Mr. Berman was stepping down and would be replaced temporarily by an ally of the administration. Mr. Berman then issued his own statement saying he had no intention of resigning. By Saturday afternoon, amid the unusual standoff, Mr. Barr informed Mr. Berman that Mr. Trump had fired him and that he would be replaced temporarily with Mr. Berman’s own deputy. […]

    The New York Times reported previously that Mr. Barr had questioned the legal theory of the campaign finance charges against Mr. Cohen, but it was not known that the attorney general went so far as to ask for the draft memo or had raised his concerns more than once. […]

    Mr. Barr’s maneuvering in the Cohen case was not his only attempt to insert himself in Southern District cases. […]

  76. says

    Everything about this Trump campaign fundraising message is cultish. The cult leader’s son (who’s supposed to be running the family business completely separately, and whose wife is part of the campaign’s media network) pressuring followers to demonstrate their commitment by giving more money, suggesting that the leader is personally aware of and interested in their actions and their dedication, all the while undoubtedly skimming a substantial portion of the money for the family.

  77. says

    Thanks, Lynna @ #113!

    At one point during the discussions, Mr. Barr instructed Justice Department officials in Washington to draft a memo outlining legal arguments that could have raised questions about Mr. Cohen’s conviction and undercut similar prosecutions in the future, according to the people briefed on the matter.

    By twisting things to protect and help Trump in the short run, Barr is significantly weakening the DoJ in the long run.

  78. says

    Update to #150 on the previous thread – Guardian – “Call to block key Bolsonaro ally from World Bank job”:

    The World Bank is facing growing pressure to block Brazilian attempts to hand one of Jair Bolsonaro’s most notorious allies a plum £210,000-a-year job at its headquarters in Washington.

    Abraham Weintraub, who until last week was the Brazilian president’s hard-right education minister, flew to the US, possibly using a diplomatic passport to skirt a Covid-19 ban on travellers from Brazil.

    “I’m leaving Brazil as quickly as possible,” Weintraub, whose detractors suspected he left the South American country for fear of arrest, announced on Twitter.

    According to Brazilian reports the 48-year-old economist, who critics call “the worst minister in Brazilian history”, is the subject of multiple investigations, including for alleged racism and the online dissemination of fake news.

    In April Weintraub was filmed labelling supreme court judges “punks” who needed jailing, remarks some believe could configure a crime against national security.

    Weintraub’s dismissal was announced last Thursday as Brazil’s political crisis – which has seen Bolsonaro’s ratings fall amid a soaring coronavirus death toll, a series of scandals involving his supporters and sons, and the resignation of a key minister – deepened with the arrest of one of his longstanding associates.

    The World Bank subsequently confirmed the ex-minister had been put forward for a job as a senior executive there.

    But growing outrage in Brazil and at the bank could jeopardise that. World Bank employees this week petitioned its ethics committee, saying staff were “profoundly disturbed” by the choice. The association said the kind of behaviour Weintraub was accused of was “totally unacceptable”, citing his racist and derogatory remarks about Chinese and indigenous people.

    In a separate letter, Brazilian opinion-makers appealed to the bank and the governments of the eight countries who must approve Weintraub’s appointment, saying he lacked the “basic ethical, professional and moral qualifications” for the job.

    Thiago Amparo, a law professor and one of the signatories, urged bank directors to oppose Weintraub’s “disastrous” nomination – a “sweet deal” he suspected was designed to help the former minister avoid investigators.

    He boasts significant support from the far right, including Bolsonaro’s politician sons, and more than 900,000 Twitter followers, but is also widely loathed. In a recent interview the author Ignácio de Loyola Brandão called him “an educationless education minister, vulgar, horrendous, sickening”.

    Reuters said the chair of the World Bank ethics committee, Guenther Schoenleitner, had told employees it would not tolerate racist remarks but could not influence Brazil’s choice….

  79. says

    Here’s a link to the June 26 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their summary:

    About 40% of residents in the Tyrolean skiing resort that has been described as a possible “ground zero” for the pandemic in Europe have developed Covid-19 antibodies, scientists have found. Of those infected, only 15% had experienced any sort of symptoms, the study found. This means as many as 85% experienced the infection without noticing.

    Ukraine on Friday reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases as authorities warned lockdowns may have to be reimposed if people continued to flout restrictions. Health authorities recorded 1,109 new coronavirus infections in the previous 24 hours, bringing Ukraine’s total to more than 41,000.

    Millions of children could be pushed to the brink of starvation as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across war-torn Yemen amid a “huge” drop in humanitarian aid funding, the UN children’s agency warned Friday. The stark prediction comes in a new Unicef report, Yemen five years on: Children, conflict and Covid-19. It said the number of malnourished Yemeni children could reach 2.4 million by the end of the year, a 20% increase in the current figure.

    A preliminary study of 125 patients hospitalised with COVID-19 across the UK has found the disease can damage the brain, causing complications such as stroke, inflammation, psychosis and dementia-like symptoms in some severe cases. The findings, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal on Thursday, are the first detailed look at a range of neurological complications of Covid-19, the researchers said, and underline a need for larger studies to find the mechanisms behind them and assist the search for treatments.

    Cases worldwide passed 9.6m on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, with the WHO saying it expected global infections to pass 10 million by the end of the week. The total stands at 9,609,829. At least 489,312 people have died so far.

    US government experts believe more than 20 million Americans could have contracted coronavirus. Cases are rising in 27 US states, up from 22 earlier this week. The CDC’s new estimate that for every diagnosis of coronavirus in the US it is likely that 10 more people are or have been infected is based on serology testing used to determine the presence of antibodies that show whether an individual has had the disease, the officials said.

    UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, threatens to close beaches. A major incident was declared after tens of thousands of people defied pleas to stay away and descended in their droves on beaches in Bournemouth and other stretches of the Dorset coast. Hancock said on TalkRadio he had the power to close the beaches if people did not respect physical-distancing rules. He said he was reluctant to go down that route as “people have had a pretty tough lockdown”. But he added that if there was a spike in the number of coronavirus cases “then we will take action”.

  80. says

    Video of #117.

    (The end features another of those Trump speech habits that drives me crazy and is similar to one I mention @ #63 above: the use of an adjective without the noun it describes – “Well, he did release classified.”)

  81. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The governor of Texas is shutting down bars and lowering restaurant capacity back down to 50%, as the state grapples with a surge in new coronavirus cases.

    Before this morning’s announcement from governor Greg Abbott, restaurant capacity was capped at 75% and bars were allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

    “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said in a press release. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”…

    Trump tweeted late last night: “Coronavirus deaths are way down [LIE]. Mortality rate is one of the lowest in the World [LIE]. Our Economy is roaring back and will NOT be shut down [LIE]. ‘Embers’ or flare ups will be put out, as necessary!”

    “Embers,” AKA Florida, Texas, Arizona,…

  82. says

    G liveblog:

    Florida is reporting a record-high number of new coronavirus cases in a single day, after the state set its last record earlier this week.

    The Florida department of health reported 8,942 new cases from yesterday, shattering the state’s previous single-day record of 5,506 cases, which was reported on Wednesday.

    Florida has now confirmed 122,960 coronavirus cases in total, and the state has lost 3,366 residents to the virus so far [officially].

    The rate of positive test results has also increased, the Florida department of health reported. Thursday saw 13.1% of test results come back positive, up from 8.9% on Wednesday.

    For comparison, that’s more cases than Russia reported yesterday.

  83. says

    G liveblog:

    A Florida official has announced the state is closing its bars after reporting a record-high level of new coronavirus cases.

    Halsey Beshears, the head of Florida’s department of business and professional regulatinon, said the policy would be in effect “immediately.”…

  84. blf says

    Grrrr… To-date, I’ve been trying to select the restaurants, bars, and cafes I visit to those I am confident will be fairly strict in their Covid-19 policies —staff wear masks, masks required inside except at the tables, tables separated by at least 1 metre, hand sanitiser readily available, etc — much of which is required. However, earlier this week I had lunch at a restaurant I was less-confident of, with, as it turns out, reason: The tables were separated by a metre or more, which the only thing they got right. None of the staff wore masks, there was no insistence on masks when going inside (e.g., to the toilet), there was hand sanitiser but it was deep inside (by the toilet (not very useful)), and what really really annoyed me, the staff were greeting various known people with la bise (kiss on the cheeks).

    Then this afternoon, at a bar which has been careful, a huge lapse: People were crowding around and drinking at the counter (a big no-no, which is explicitly forbidden). Despite wearing a mask, I was deeply uncomfortable when going to pay (at this bar, there is no table service, you order & at the counter).

    I’ve also noticed what seems to be less mask-wearing in general. Admittedly, it’s hot out (high-20s making masks even more uncomfortable) and social distance is still happening (fortunately), but I do the impression people are relaxing. At the moment, last I checked, there is no(?) sign of an uptick here in France, but all these lapses are not good…

  85. says

    Pence is talking about how the surge in cases is confined to certain parts of states, but they’re the parts with huge portions of the country’s population!

  86. says

    Pence claims that the US is making great progress with fatalities, but we have yet to see what these huge numbers of new cases will mean going forward, especially three weeks or a month from now. ICUs are increasingly overwhelmed. They keep declaring victory when there’s no reason to.

  87. says

    Now he’s talking about the guidelines for re-opening, which he and Trump have actively encouraged states not to follow. (Note who’s standing next to DeSantis in #130/132.)

  88. says

    Pence is lecturing young people about their responsibility to protect more vulnerable people, and telling people to listen to state and local officials. Trump just held a mask-free, social-distancing-free rally with young people in a global hotspot in the face of explicit disapproval of local health officials.

  89. blf says

    SC@141, quoting a paraphrase of Pence, We have done great. Everything is fine. Keep praying.

    USAlienstan has done great! What other region has managed to, instead of “flattening the curve”, achieved an upturn at about the same rate as the initial exponential growth? (See the chart in poopyhead’s I get it now post.) More praying will ensure this remarkable already world-beating success will continue!! Making American Ghastly Adobe of the the dead!!!

  90. says

    Asked about why their campaign continues to hold mass events while recommending social distancing measures, Pence refers to the freedom of speech and assembly (!).

    He’s still trying to present this as a few locally contained outbreaks.

    Now he’s just throwing out random platitudes: “It’s not one size fits all,”…

  91. blf says

    ‘Please for the love of God do not vote for my dad’: Republican’s daughter voices opposition (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    It’s not the usual rallying cry one might expect from a political candidate’s child as their father runs for office, but the daughter of a Republican candidate has urged people in Michigan to “please, for the love of God” not vote for her father.

    “Tell everyone,” Stephanie Regan wrote in a viral tweet — which has now been liked more than 180,000 times on Twitter.

    In a follow-up tweet, she called on voters to research the background of her father, Robert Regan, for themselves, writing: “I don’t feel safe rn [sic] sharing further information regarding his beliefs, but please look him up and just read for yourself.”

    Regan is running in Michigan’s primary for a state house seat this August.


    Robert Regan has spoken on local TV since his daughter sent out the tweet, blaming her liberal college education for her views.

    When they go off to college, quite frankly they get involved with these Marxist, socialist universities, and they start getting indoctrinated with things that are completely polar opposite from where you raised them, Regan told local TV.

    Regan, who describes himself on his own website as so conservative {he} makes Rush Limbaugh look like a liberal, says he and his daughter have disagreed on systemic racism, white privilege and Black Lives Matter.

    “She’s a big believer in that,”[] he told the Hill. The only place where I really see systemic racism would be the abortion clinic, because they seem to target the African American community.


      † Not set in eejit quotes because the claim is both very plausible and not unbelievably stoopid.

  92. says

    Pence was just asked a fantastic, pointed question about “do as we say not as we do” in light of the recent campaign events. He’s answering again about Constitutional rights to speech and assembly, followed by total blather.

  93. says

    Daniel Dale livetweeted the singularly unhelpful event:

    …Told that it’s as if he’s saying do as we say not as we do, given they held the Tulsa rally and an event at a packed church in Arizona, Pence sighs, then says freedom to peaceably assemble is in the Constitution and people don’t forfeit that even in a health crisis.

    It is, obviously, not an infringement of Americans’ constitutional rights for a candidate to not schedule arena events during a pandemic.

  94. says

    Why Trump [and Pence] may regret emphasizing the virus death toll

    As part of an effort to focus on “encouraging signs,” Trump is emphasizing the coronavirus death toll. Whether he realizes it or not, that’s a risky move.

    In recent months, Donald Trump has moved the goalposts on his projected coronavirus death toll seven times, but in each instance, he’s moved them in the same direction: forward. […]

    This week, however, Trump made the curious decision to move the goalposts backwards, telling a Fox affiliate in Arizona, “We’re going to be at 115,000.” Whether the president was aware of this or not, the number of Americans who’ve succumbed to COVID-19 is well over 120,000 — and was above 115,000 when he made the comments on Tuesday.

    “Coronavirus deaths are way down,” the president boasted on Twitter last night. He added during his Fox News event, “[W]hat they don’t say is there are fewer deaths than there have been — way, way down.” Others at the White House have pushed the same line.

    As a political matter, I can appreciate the thinking behind the strategy: as infection rates reach new heights, Team Trump is looking for a trend line that isn’t discouraging. As the number of daily fatalities drops, it’s an appealing metric.

    But it’s also a risky one. As a Washington Post analysis noted, “The death toll we are seeing now — which is still hundreds every day — is mostly reflecting those who got sick a few weeks ago. Health experts, including top infectious-disease specialist Anthony S. Fauci, warn that the death toll could rise considerably in July, commensurate with case increases, once those who are sick today start to deteriorate.”

    Politico had a good piece on this, too.

    Death rates tell nothing about the current spread of the virus and only offer a snapshot of where the country was roughly three weeks ago. If the caseloads in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida are any indication, the U.S. will almost certainly see a spike in deaths in July that could undermine the entire nationwide reopening effort.


  95. says


    As of this morning, the Texas Republican Party is still planning to hold a live, in-person state convention in about three weeks. The event is scheduled to take place in Houston, which is struggling with a severe coronavirus outbreaks.

    In other campaign news, this is a good summary moment from the speech Biden gave yesterday:

    Biden delivered remarks in Lancaster, Pa., yesterday, taking aim at the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “[Trump’s] like a child who can’t believe this has happened to him — all his whining and self-pity,” the former vice president said. “Well, this pandemic didn’t happen to him. It happened to all of us. And his job isn’t to whine about it. His job is to do something about it, to lead.”

  96. says

    Good. Public activism, (and even some reasonable requests from Republicans), wins out again over bad policy proposed by Team Trump.

    HHS Forced To Keep Texas COVID Testing Sites Open Following Public Outcry

    The Trump administration reversed itself and extended support for testing sites in Texas on Friday.

    The extension followed a public outcry after TPM revealed on Tuesday that federal help was set to end on June 30.

    Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir said in a statement that his agency would support five testing sites in Texas for two weeks longer than initially planned.

    Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday requesting an extension of support for the free, drive-through testing sites.

    Local officials in Texas have spent weeks clamoring for the sites to be extended. The move comes as cases and hospitalizations in the state have skyrocketed, and as Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has paused the state’s reopening.

    “Federal public health officials have been in continuous contact with our public health leaders in Texas, and after receiving yesterday’s request for an extension, have agreed to extend support for five Community-Based Testing Sites in Texas,” Giroir said in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 diagnoses and assess the need for further federal support of these sites as we approach the extension date.”

    HHS and FEMA have supported the sites by providing test kits and signing contracts with labs and call centers to notify patients of their results.

    Local officials told TPM this week that the federal exit will force them to rely on a private contractor to replace the lost capacity. The cities will then be forced to use a limited pool of CARES Act funding to pay for the sites, coming as localities around the country already face a budget crunch due to the pandemic. […]

  97. says

    Follow-up to comment 158.

    From comments posted by readers:

    A favor for Cruz and Cornyn. Of course, there’s no extension for any blue states.
    And yeah, it’s just Texas, but how soon before litigation is started in favor of the other States. This sets a precedent that would be hard to overlook.
    the task force didn’t say a word about it as far as I know.
    Does HHS believe the virus will simply vanish from Texas in two weeks? And what about the other states? Why ONLY Texas?
    You put the federal government “on the hook” for supporting testing in Texas, it’ll be a lot tougher to explain why dying Arizonans and Floridians don’t get the same help. Why, it could even give people “ideas” that the feds have some “responsibility” for the “common welfare of the country” or something…

  98. says

    From Joan McCarter: “Have fun with this, Senate Republicans: Trump tells SCOTUS it was your idea to dismantle the ACA.”

    The brief filed by Donald Trump’s Justice Department in support of striking down the Affordable Care Act is truly remarkable, at every level. The timing: he is telling the Supreme Court to essentially dismantle the nation’s healthcare financing system and take coverage away from at least 23 million people while a pandemic is surging. Also the timing: there is an election in 129 days. The argument: even hardcore, anti-ACA wonks are calling it specious and ridiculous. The very core at that argument: every Republican who voted for the Trump tax cut scam three years ago was really voting to overturn the entirety of Obamacare.

    That bill zeroed out the penalty for not purchasing insurance under the individual mandate. Note that it did not repeal the mandate, or anything else in the law, but made it moot. But that’s not what Trump’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco says. “Nothing the 2017 Congress did demonstrates it would have intended the rest of the ACA to continue to operate in the absence of these […] integral provisions,” Francisco writes in his brief. “The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.” Well, have fun with that, Senate Republicans!

    Those same Republicans are being remarkably quiet today about Obamacare. [snipped details of extensive efforts in the past, by Republicans, to repeal the ACA]

    The Republicans finally stopped talking about Obamacare repeal when the blue tsunami of 2018 put the House back in the hands of Democrats, and when the top issue for voters was health care in general and specifically the protections the law gave people with preexisting conditions. […]

    how remarkably dangerous and irresponsible this brief from the Trump administration is can’t be overstated. Particularly coming this week, when coronavirus infections in the U.S. are at record levels and the primary response from Trump and team is to end federal support for testing. Instead of stepping in to overrule the administration and actually save lives, McConnell’s Republican Senate is enabling him.


  99. says

    Oh, FFS!

    Betsy DeVos changes rule to funnel more than $1 billion of COVID-19 relief to private schools

    Cartoon dubious rich person Betsy DeVos issued a new rule on Thursday that will require public schools to share more of the CARES Act relief funds—meant for public schools—with private schools. Specifically, DeVos’ rule will cut into the already low $13.5 billion allotted for the country’s public K-12 schools. According to NPR, the education secretary’s new rule would re-imagine the intention of the CARES Act funds to mean that public schools must pay for tutoring and transportation for private school students. This new “reading of the law” would take the $127 million already being received by private schools and add another $1.23 billion. That’s a 10-fold increase.

    […] the new rules set out by DeVos restrict public school districts’ ability to use the funds for broader pandemic needs, like paying all staff and cleaning all facilities.

    DeVos, like all Trump administration officials, is a Clue-caricature villain. She has already made sure that people in need of the coronavirus relief, like DACA students, will get none. The pandemic is exposing the very tough reality that there are things and institutions in our society where if we want them to survive, we will need to give them money and help them weather our country’s leadership’s incompetence in handling the pandemic. The problem that private schools—or “non-public” schools, as DeVos and others like to rebrand them—have is that they only work if American taxpayers fund them. This is identical issue to the issue that public schools have. The difference is that public schools must follow considerably better vetted policies of equality than private institutions.

    The novel coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the bad behaviors and exposed more of our broken infrastructures. The DeVos money grab is just a sharper chance for DeVos and privatization acolytes to take more of the public’s money for private interests.

  100. says

    A closer look at some of the negative results if one has COVID-19, but survives:

    When looking at patients who had survived a critical encounter with COVID-19, a team of British researchers found that almost two-thirds suffered strokes, and just over a quarter were left with damage resulting in dementia. This lede was brought to you as a reminder that the death rate from COVID-19 is far from the whole story. From limb amputations to heart attacks to permanent brain damage, the blood clots caused by infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus aren’t just occasionally devastating—they are often devastating.

    Over the last four months as the pandemic has spread around the planet, doctors have gained experience with COVID-19 patients. They’ve learned that ventilated patients have better outcomes when moved to different positions rather than being left on their backs. They’ve learned remdesivir can improve the odds for patients before they’re at the most critical phase, and that common anti-inflammatory steroids can help those who might otherwise have no hope. Experience and familiarity is genuinely improving the odds of patients who are hospitalized with severe or critical cases of COVID-19. Even so, and despite a real increase in the extent of testing, the rate of mortality in the United States remains above 5% and, as the British study shows, those deaths are just a small part of the swath of destruction that this disease is carving. […]

    One other factor that has reduced the death rate over the span of the pandemic in the United States has been that the median age of COVID-19 patients has continuously skewed younger. A disease that had its first significant U.S. outbreak among the elderly at a Washington nursing home has become one where those over 65 are the least likely to be infected. That’s almost certainly because older people are continuing to follow social distancing rules and being careful in their interactions while many younger people seem to have completely discounted the potential harm of the virus. […] the idea that this is an “old person’s disease” has been so baked in that it can’t be dislodged.

    The decision made by many states to reopen in early May was so clearly wrong that experts everywhere warned of the outcome—not the potential outcome, the certain outcome—of rolling back social distancing rules at a point when the nation had over a million confirmed, active cases. […]

    For example, when Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, issued a stay-at-home order on March 30, it came following the first day in which Arizona had more than 200 cases. Deaths in the state to that point totaled 20. But Arizona rescinded that order at a point when the case count was at 500 and deaths had passed 600. More importantly, they reopened at a point where there were 10,000 known active cases in the state, and over 10% of all tests were turning up positive. […] That story was repeated again and again across the nation.

    […] the state has “lost control of the epidemic” with testing stations overwhelmed, hospitals on the brink, and a response that’s nothing short of pure chaos. Unwilling to demonstrate leadership, Gov. Ducey has left it up to city and county officials to take action. That’s made for a patchwork of shifting rules that are consistent only in their lack of enforcement. […]

    The lack of federal leadership left the burden of handling this crisis on states. The lack of state leadership has put the burden of meeting this moment on towns and counties woefully unprepared for the task. The levels of government with the most resources and options are consistently passing the responsibility for handling this catastrophe on to levels of government where both funding and authority are weakest. […] ridiculous and tragic.


  101. says


    The House just passed the #DCStatehood bill (#HR51), marking the first time since the creation of the District of Columbia 219 years ago that either chamber of Congress has passed a bill to grant statehood to D.C. residents and, with it, equal citizenship.”

  102. says

    Tom Cotton’s Argument Against DC Statehood Is the Same One Racists Have Always Used

    Or, why it took New Mexico 62 years to become state.

    […] on Thursday, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton cut through the euphemism[s] and simply laid out the nature of his opposition directly.

    Cotton hit some of the familiar notes, posing the constitutional question and warning that statehood would present a security risk because many federal agencies would be based outside the small district that would remain under federal jurisdiction. (This does not seem to be a problem for the literal Pentagon, which is in Virginia.) […]

    The core of Cotton’s argument, though, was about the people who live there. Although he conceded that the District has more residents than both Wyoming and Vermont, he argued that its economy and political leanings disqualified it from full representation. Its citizens, he suggested, were incapable of governing themselves responsibly and, in any case, did not deserve a voice in Congress because they hold jobs he considered illegitimate. Democrats were “committing an act of historical vandalism as grotesque as those committed by Jacobin mobs roaming our streets,” Cotton said.

    It was a startlingly blunt assertion—that Washingtonians should be entitled to fewer rights because they are simply the wrong kind of people. There’s a reason why opponents prefer to hide behind legal constructs. But it’s an argument with a familiar history. Washington was, until recently, majority Black, and it still has a higher percentage of Black residents than any state. The contention that places with large non-white populations would be too inept—or would lack the proper values—to govern themselves and others has been used to block statehood and home rule repeatedly in the nation’s history.

    Take New Mexico. It became a United States territory in 1848, after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican War. New Mexico was floated for statehood in 1850. But it did not become a state until 1912, even as more sparsely populated western states (like Wyoming) jumped the line. Why the holdup? New Mexicans were just the wrong kind of people. Here’s how the University of New Mexico describes it:

    Many historians have identified racism as a key factor in the delay. In 1848 when the Mexican North was ceded to the United States, New Mexico contained the highest Mexican population in the whole region. […] Members of Congress and the American population at large worried that such a “foreign” people would not make good American citizens. Senator C.K. Davis of Minnesota suggested so in an 1892 letter. Many agreed that New Mexico would have to wait until the population of Protestant, English-speaking “Americans” grew higher.


    Cotton’s opposition to statehood echoes the critics of the time. […] The people of Washington, he insists, do not deserve and are not capable of handling the full responsibilities of citizenship. They do not deserve them because, as he explained, they do not have the right kind of culture. Wyoming, a place with two escalators and fewer than 8,000 Black residents, is a “well-rounded working-class state,” because it has both cattle and coal, Cotton said. But Washington, DC—a booming and diverse city with large education, government, military, service, and construction sectors—has no “vital industry” to speak of, he claimed. Its people should, in Cotton’s view, continue to be lesser citizens, because they have the wrong jobs. Cotton argued that DC was civically immature. Its residents could not handle the responsibilities statehood would demand of them. “Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor?” he asked. […]

  103. says

    Trump’s use of Pentagon funds for US-Mexico border wall illegal, court rules

    A federal appeals court in California on Friday ruled that the Trump administration’s use of Pentagon funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is illegal.

    In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that President Trump’s diversion of defense, military and other funding — billions of dollars that were not originally earmarked for border wall construction — violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive power of the purse.

    “These funds were appropriated for other purposes, and the transfer amounted to ‘drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute and thus violating the Appropriations Clause,’ ” the majority wrote. “Therefore, the transfer of funds here was unlawful.” […]

    The practical effect of the ruling was not entirely clear because the Supreme Court last July ruled 5-4 that Trump could begin spending $2.5 billion in reallocated Pentagon funds to build the border wall while the legal challenges proceeded through the courts.

    A related challenge brought by House Democrats is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. […]

  104. says

    From Wonkette:

    Donald Trump is really starting to feel badly for himself.

    The way he sees it, he’s had an absolutely incredible presidency, filled with joy and laughter and prosperity for the whole country. Sure, the “fake news” didn’t like him, but they weren’t actual people. The other people who didn’t like him didn’t count as actual people either, because surely they were either all brainwashed to not like him by the mainstream media or they were antifa. One of the two. Everyone else thought he was great.

    But then, out of nowhere (not out of nowhere), a completely unpreventable virus (that we knew about several months before it hit us) hit our shores and there was nothing we could do to prevent it from killing over 126,000 people (there were so many things we could have done) — and now he’s worried that he’s not going to win election to a second term. Legally, anyway. And then the country will be saddled with Joe Biden, who is not as good at talking as he is.

    Last night, Trump confessed this fear to to Sean Hannity. “It’s so crazy what’s happening. Here’s a guy who can’t talk. Whenever he does talk, he can’t put two sentences together. I don’t want to be nice or un-nice. The man can’t speak. And he is going to be president because some people don’t love me, maybe. And all I’m doing is doing my job.”

    OMG. Trump projected his faults, (“a guy who can’t talk”), onto Joe Biden. And then he whined about people not loving him.

    Oh, poor poor pitiful Pearl. He was just trying to do his job. Sure, he did it terribly and everything is a garbage fire now, but he was trying. If “trying” means playing a lot of golf and inventing new words and yelling at people on Twitter like an angry 15-year-old boy.

    It is true though. Joe Biden is not particularly eloquent when he speaks and often makes a lot of gaffes. But to be fair, who among us can compete with the kind of high-level rhetoric Trump used to explain to Hannity what his priorities would be in his second term?

    Nice use of sarcasm, Robyn Pennacchia, who wrote this article for Wonkette.

    […] He has experience now. For instance, the next time there is a pandemic, he knows not to do much testing so it doesn’t look like there’s actually a pandemic happening.

    […] Trump is really unhappy about all of the testing that’s been happening. Sure, if we are ever going to get back to anything close to normal, we need widespread testing so that people who are asymptomatic carriers are not waltzing through Target infecting everything they touch, but when you increase testing, the numbers go up and then that makes Trump look bad. And that should take precedent over people not dying. […]

    Also, he claimed in the interview, if someone has a “sniffle” they will be diagnosed with COVID-19 even if they don’t have it. This is not true, but if we all agree to pretend to believe it, it makes the numbers seem less bad. Numbers like 40,184, which is how many people were diagnosed with it yesterday — the highest number of diagnosed infections in a single day so far. If you assume that’s a big lie and all of those people just have a headache or allergies, then that’s not as bad as it sounds.

    Clearly, everyone just needs to put the fact that they don’t love Donald Trump and that him being president has led to us living in a freaking hell dimension aside and do what’s best for the country, which is electing literally anyone (or any inanimate object) who is not him. […]

  105. says

    […] Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of California has made something of a name for herself in committee hearings the past couple of years. She has stood up to banking CEOs and feckless Trump administration stooges, and she has exposed their incompetences and hypocrisies every time. Her questioning of Clayton was no different. Rep. Porter began by asking Clayton about bipartisanship—specifically, if he truly believed he would be able to show the kind of objective integrity a U.S. attorney is required to have. Clayton, of course, said that he totally would be able to do that. In fact, Clayton said he already did do that as the chairman of the SEC.

    One of Rep. Porter’s great strengths is her reliance on facts and not the gaslighting bullcaca most Republican operatives peddle […]. Porter decided to take Mr. Clayton at his word and asked him to provide a single example of a regulation or deregulation passed by the SEC under Clayton that had bipartisan support. Clayton couldn’t come up with one because there are none. Clayton couldn’t come up with one because he’s a tool. Clayton couldn’t come up with one because to last this long in this administration, one must embody the soulless hackery of an absolute sociopath.

    Rep. Porter, realizing that Clayton had nothing to add, decided to bring things down to a more pedestrian level of understanding. According to reports, one of the reasons Trump tapped Clayton for this incongruously different position in the government [U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York] was their golfing relationship. Rep. Porter decided to ask: “Based on your experience, do you think independence from the president is possible if you and the president are golfing buddies?”

    Clayton said he totally could be objective and that his record at the SEC—the one that Porter exposed as being complete hack partisanship—proved this.

    Rep. Porter responded with a follow up: “How many times have you and president Trump golfed together?” After Clayton feigned an indignant response while hemming and hawing at the question, Rep. Porter calmly asked: “Is it a large number and you have trouble recalling it?” Clayton responded that he had played golf with Trump “a handful of times.”

    Sounds about right. Only the best people—willing to pretend to lose to Trump in golf—get to manipulate our country’s purse strings.


  106. says

    “Vector-In-Chief,” Fintan O’Toole’s piece in last month’s New York Review of Books, inspired one journalist to take another look at one of Trump’s peculiarities, his tendency to classify sick people as “losers.”

    […] Trump’s peculiar aversion to germs has a deeper significance, because, according to O’Toole, it directly influences the way he perceives his world, a perception which […] narrowly circumscribes all of his political enemies as “haters and losers.”

    In How to Get Rich, Trump links his own germaphobia to the idea that some people are born losers. Winners are people who think positively—and positivity repels germs. “To me, germs are just another kind of negativity.”

    He then goes on to tell the story of an unnamed acquaintance who is driven home from the hospital in an ambulance after being treated for injuries sustained in a crash. The ambulance crashes and he has to be taken back to the hospital: “Maybe he’s just a really unlucky guy. Or maybe he’s a loser. I know that sounds harsh, but let’s face it—some people are losers.”

    The train of thought here is typically meandering, but the logic is clear enough. Losers are inevitably doomed by their own negativity, of which germs are a physical form. Infection happens to some people because they are natural losers.

    So in the context of the pandemic, Trump is unable to separate the random chance of Covid-19 infection (and the deaths that stem from it) from his sense that it’s really only the “losers” who could possibly fall victim to the ravages of this virus.

    Another example cited by O’Toole:

    In 2013 Trump suggested that there was an upside to the Great Recession caused by the banking crisis: “One good aspect of the Obama depression is that it will separate the winners from the losers. If you can make it now, you deserve it!” Apply this to Covid-19 and you get an instinctive belief that it too will separate the wheat from the human chaff. Great public crises are not collective experiences that bring citizens together. On the contrary, they reveal the true divisions in the world: between those who “deserve” to survive and thrive and those who do not. Faced with the threat of the coronavirus, this becomes an ideology of human sacrifice: Let the losers perish.

    Taken in this light, we can see a depressing pattern in Trump’s remarkably glaring inability to empathize with a single one of the 120,000 people officially recorded as dying from Covid-19 as of this date. We see his complete lack of concern for the victims and his dismissive attitude suggesting that the only thing those death counts represent is a threat to his own political fortunes. In short, we are not merely dealing simply with a sociopathic lack of empathy here, but a twisted perception that essentially attributes “loser” status to those who have died from the virus. In the back of Trump’s mind, anyone who dies from Covid-19 does so because he or she are simply losers. And he, with his daily regimen of personal testing, isn’t going to end up as one of them.

    The correlative aspect of this, as O’Toole emphasizes, is the need for Trump to prove himself as “superior” to the virus […] The mass psychosis of denial that we are witnessing in Republican-governed states is a direct consequence of Trump’s “macho” attitude towards “winning” or “beating” the pandemic. […]

    It explains why he continues to hold rallies before (dwindling) unmasked crowds, in which he claims against all facts to the contrary that his administration has “perfectly” handled the pandemic, […] For Trump this is not the willing embrace of insanity that it appears to everyone else, it’s simply an affirmation of what he already believes, and what he needs his followers to believe. In Trump’s mind, for Americans to succumb to the virus is to admit that they are losers, contemptible, unworthy, and, ultimately, unfit to live.


  107. says


    The Trump admin has been deliberating for months about what to do about a stunning intelligence assessment.

    Russia’s Unit 29155 is linked to nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, an attempted coup in Montenegro and poisoning an arms manuf in Bulgaria

    Some U.S. officials theorized Russia may be seeking revenge on NATO for a 2018 battle in Syria in which the American military killed several hundred pro-Syrian forces, including numerous Russian mercenaries, as they advanced on an American outpost

    NYT link atl.

  108. says

    Evan McMullin: “The Russian intel service that backed Trump’s 2016 campaign pays the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. In other words, the commander in chief’s foreign backers are killing his soldiers and he hasn’t done a thing about it. What a disgrace.”

  109. says

    NYPD union calls on officers to ‘defy’ elected city government to do ‘what is right’.”

    The SBA tweet reads: “DEFY DeBlasio lead the NYPD don’t be afraid to be fired! Doing what is right and not popular is never easy, DO what is RIGHT & the men and women of the NYPD will walk through the FIRES of hell with you. Show NO FEAR, DeBlasio is weak. Defend the city honor your OATH [three US flag emojis]”

    They’re certainly defying punctuation.

    Also, fire these douchebags.

  110. blf says

    This is a news article — well, technically, a satirical sketch — in the Grauniad, not a opinion column, Pinocchio Pence casts off reality and insists everything’s under control (my added emboldening):

    Trump has been called the worst person to lead a country through a crisis. Friday’s briefing was a reminder Pence may be the second worst

    Mike Pence is the guy you’d want in your foxhole. You might be out of ammo, bleeding profusely and about to be run over by a tank, but the hard-praying vice-president [sic] would assure you that total victory is assured and it will all be over by Christmas.

    The Baghdad Bob of Washington was on top form on Friday, reassuring an anguished nation that up is down, square is round and an all-time high of daily coronavirus infections is proof positive that America has flattened the curve.

    Sans face mask, Pence was holding his first White House coronavirus task force briefing in nearly two months — not at the White House at all but at the health department, a sign of diminished status since the halcyon days when Donald Trump pondered the efficacy of bleach.

    The vice-president [sic] will have impressed his boss with his truthiness.

    We have made truly remarkable progress in moving our nation forward, Pence declared, against a backdrop of nearly 2.5m infections and 125,000 deaths, the worst tallies on the planet. As we stand here today, all 50 states and the territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly.

    Pinocchio! On Friday Texas, where cases have topped 130,000, became the first state to reimpose a lockdown that had previously been lifted. Florida closed down bars after a record one-day high of 8,942 infections.

    “We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives,” Pence went on, a day after America saw a record 40,000 new cases nationwide. There may be a tendency among Americans to think we’re in a time of great losses and great hardship on the American people, like we were two months ago. But in reality, we’re in a much better place.

    Yes, Pence admitted, we are now seeing cases “rise precipitously across the south”, but always look on the bright side of life: Thirty-four states across the country … are experiencing a measure of stability.

    He echoed Trump by claiming it’s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases. […]


    Drs Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, who had been virtually banished from the public gaze like embarrassing relatives, returned to action with masks and sobering graphics. Fauci offered a reality check: “We are facing a serious problem in certain areas.”

    But health secretary Alex Azar decided to rival Pence in the sycophancy stakes, somehow conjuring the phrase major public health victory.

    […] When in February [Pence] was appointed head of the taskforce, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez noted his failures to tackle HIV as governor of Indiana and tweeted: “Mike Pence literally does not believe in science.”

    Pence once claimed the pandemic in the US would be behind us by Memorial Day — 25 May. At the latest briefing, the devout Christian finally revealed his secret plan: Pray, and keep praying.

    The response of public health experts was duly withering. Dr Irwin Redlener of Columbia University told MSNBC: “George Orwell could have called his book 2020 as opposed to 1984. It was a stunning example of misrepresenting reality.”

  111. says

    Elie Mystal last night on Chris Hayes, talking about how his base is in it for the bigotry and no one really wants Republican policies: “The only people who want a balanced budget amendment are George Will and Carlton from Fresh Prince.”

  112. says

    Daniel Dale at CNN – “Fact check: As pandemic situation worsens, Pence paints a deceptively rosy picture”:

    …At a Friday press briefing by the White House’s coronavirus task force, the first in nearly two months, task force leader Pence painted a rosy picture of a country steadily getting safer and back to normal.

    It was a picture at odds with reality.

    Leaving out critical information, Pence delivered a more polished version of the upbeat, all-is-well dishonesty that was a hallmark of previous briefings by President Donald Trump, who did not attend the Friday session.

    “Despite what you heard, we are in the middle of a public health disaster,” CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on air after the briefing.

    Pence boasted that “we flattened the curve” — though the curve for the number of new confirmed cases has headed sharply upward again in June after a decline and then plateau in April and May.

    Pence said that “what we’re observing today” in Sun Belt states is that many young people who “have no symptoms” are testing positive — though Texas, Arizona, and Florida communities willing to report data keep hitting new highs for people with symptoms serious enough that they need to be hospitalized.

    Pence described the Sun Belt situation as particular “outbreaks” occurring in “specific counties” and “specific communities” — declining to emphasize that, as expert Dr. Peter Hotez noted on CNN after the briefing, the places experiencing a “massive resurgence” include some of the most populous counties in the country.

    “This is a tragedy, and what’s more, it’s not presented as a tragedy — it’s presented as, ‘We’re doing a pretty good job and now there are a couple of hotspots.’ These are not ‘hotspots’ — these are the largest metropolitan areas in the United States,” said Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

    Pence also claimed that “all 50 states” are “opening up safely and responsibly” — even though about 30 states were experiencing increases in the rate of new cases, and though states reopened without having met the administration’s recommended safety milestones.

    And Pence claimed that “to one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country” — yet many states are seeing rising percentages of positive tests, which are indicative of genuinely rising levels of infection in the community.

    In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the true number of US cases is likely 10 times higher than the number cases found by testing. Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post on Thursday that “something’s not working” with the current approach to testing. And, as Gupta has pointed out, true success with testing should mean that the number of cases falls over time as infected people are found and isolated.

    Perhaps Pence’s most egregious claim of the briefing was his suggestion that the country is finished with the painful part of the pandemic.

    “As we see new cases rising — and we’re tracking them very carefully – there may be a tendency among the American people to think that we are back to that place that we were two months ago. That we’re in a time of great losses and great hardship on the American people. The reality is we’re in a much better place,” he said….

  113. says

    CNN – “Measures to protect Trump from coronavirus scale up even as he seeks to move on”:

    President Donald Trump appears ready to move on from a still-raging coronavirus pandemic — skipping the first White House task force briefing in months and moving the event out of the White House itself. But the measures meant to protect him from catching the virus have scaled up dramatically.

    As he seeks to insert rival Joe Biden’s health into the presidential campaign, Trump has voiced escalating concern about how it would appear if he contracted coronavirus and has insisted on steps to protect himself, even as he refuses to wear a mask in public and agitates for large campaign rallies where the virus could spread.

    When he travels to locations where the virus is surging, every venue the President enters is inspected for potential areas of contagion by advance security and medical teams, according to people familiar with the arrangements. Bathrooms designated for the President’s use are scrubbed and sanitized before he arrives. Staff maintain a close accounting of who will come into contact with the President to ensure they receive tests.

    While the White House phases out steps such as temperature checks and required mask-wearing in the West Wing — changes meant to signal the country is moving on — those around the President still undergo regular testing. And even as Trump attempts to put the pandemic behind him by encouraging reopening and downplaying the new surge, there are signs of the still-raging pandemic even within his orbit.

    This week, the virus again struck members of the President’s staff, this time a collection of campaign aides and US Secret Service personnel who had been working on Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa.

    And CNN has learned a third White House staffer who was recently in Trump’s vicinity also tested positive. According to two sources familiar with the matter, the staffer is a senior economic official who was in the Rose Garden with Trump during an event this month. Because of privacy concerns, CNN is not naming the individual.

    After Trump told aides at the beginning of the outbreak he must avoid getting sick at all costs, efforts to prevent him from contracting the virus have progressively become more intensive and wide-ranging. Early steps such as keeping more hand sanitizer nearby eventually evolved into an intensive safety apparatus, including the testing regimen requiring dozens of staffers.

    So far the efforts appear to have been effective, at least at preventing the President from contracting the virus. But events of the past week have also underscored the primacy of Trump himself to the safety measures, with the safety of staffers who compose his massive footprint coming second.

    For months, anyone who comes into close proximity with the President has been administrated a coronavirus test, though the Abbott Laboratories product used by the White House has raised concerns for high rates of false negatives….

    A journalist covering the Tulsa rally has also tested positive.

  114. says

    Huh – I didn’t close the bold tag properly after “during an event this month,” so it highlighted the rest of that paragraph and then the paragraph at the end.

  115. says

    BBC yesterday – “Scotland ‘not far away’ from eliminating coronavirus”:

    Scotland is “not far away” from eliminating coronavirus, the country’s first minister has predicted.

    Nicola Sturgeon was speaking as she announced there have been no deaths from confirmed cases of the virus in the past 24 hours.

    This was the first time the figure had been zero on a weekday since 20 March.

    Ms Sturgeon said the statistic was “really significant” and a further sign of the progress that has been made.

    But she again warned against complacency because the virus “has not yet gone away” and is “on the rise again” in some other countries.

    Ms Sturgeon said: “Suppressing the virus, driving it as far as we can towards total elimination, has to be our overriding priority.

    “We have made exceptional progress over the past three months, and the figures today highlight that.

    “But it has only been possible because the vast majority of us have stuck to the rules.”

    The first minister stressed that elimination was different from eradication, and was about “getting it to the lowest possible levels we can in a country”.

    She added: “It doesn’t mean it has gone away, it doesn’t mean it won’t rise again if we stop doing the things we need to do, but it gives us more confidence that we can keep it under control.

    “I think we are not that far away from that. The challenge is keeping it there.”

    The number of cases of coronavirus in Scotland has fallen dramatically in recent weeks, with the number of people testing positive in single figures on some days.

    There are currently only 17 coronavirus patients in the country’s intensive care units.

    And Ms Sturgeon said the percentage of people who tested positive for the virus was now well below 1% – and was just 0.3% on Thursday.

    But with the country’s three-month lockdown due to be eased significantly over the coming weeks, she urged people not to become complacent of the threat caused by the virus which has been linked to the deaths of more than 4,100 people in Scotland….

  116. says

    AP – “Sunday election in Poland a test for president and populism”:

    Poland’s right-wing president, Andrzej Duda, is fighting for a second term in an election Sunday that will test whether he was helped by a campaign that depicted LGBT rights as a dangerous “ideology” and an unconventional last-minute reception by President Donald Trump at the White House.

    It will be another electoral test for populist leaders in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last weekend, Serbia’s autocratic right-wing president, Aleksandar Vucic, strengthened his hold on power there in a parliamentary election that was boycotted by opposition parties.

    The Polish election is widely seen as an important test for democracy, in this case in the fifth most populous country in the 27-member European Union.

    A crowded field of 11 candidates — all men — could make it harder for anyone to reach the required 50% of votes on Sunday, in which case a runoff will be held July 12.

    Duda is backed by Law and Justice, a nationalist, conservative party that is popular with many for introducing welfare spending programs. Those policies have eased hardships for older Poles and others left behind in the dramatic economic transformation since communism fell in 1989.

    Duda and Law and Justice, both in power since 2015, have also triggered tensions with the EU and provoked repeated street protests at home for controversial laws giving the party control over the top courts and other key judicial bodies.

    “The destruction of the democratic state of law is close to completion,” said Jaroslaw Kurski, the editor of the liberal daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, in an appeal this week for readers to choose a democratic candidate.

    “If we, citizens, democrats, do not mobilize, the next elections will be as ‘democratic’ as in Belarus, Russia or Hungary,” Kurski wrote.

    According to polls, Duda’s biggest challenge comes from the liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who belongs to the pro-EU and pro-business Civic Platform party.

    That party governed from 2007-15, with Donald Tusk as prime minister until 2014, when he left Poland to take on a top leadership role as president of the European Council.

    Civic Platform oversaw strong economic growth but is now blamed by many for pro-market policies that helped businesses, but allowed poverty to fester and economic inequalities to grow.

    On the campaign trail, Trzaskowski, 48, has promised to keep Law and Justice’s popular spending programs while vowing to restore constitutional norms.

    Trzaskowski entered the race late after an election originally scheduled for May 10 was scrapped due to the pandemic. Duda’s strong support, bolstered by adulatory coverage in public media, began to slip once restrictions were lifted and other candidates could campaign.

    As he appeared to be losing support, Duda seized on family values, vowing to protect Polish families from the propagation of “LGBT ideology” in public institutions.

    LGBT activists held street protests after Duda accused the LGBT rights movement of promoting a viewpoint more dangerous than communism and saying he agreed with another conservative politician who said “LGBT is not people, it’s an ideology.”

    Some Polish veterans of World War II who resisted a Nazi German occupation that considered Poles subhuman strongly denounced Duda’s targeting of LGBT people as a new form of dehumanization.

    Duda dropped that language in recent days, saying at a rally Friday that “in Poland there is place for everyone.”

    The election will take place four days after Duda was hosted at the White House by Trump, who praised Poland for its “rule of law.”

    “He’s doing a terrific job. The people of Poland think the world of him,” Trump said Wednesday at a joint news conference with Duda.

    However, the visit to Washington appeared to bring no breakthroughs, and it is not clear if Trump’s apparent endorsement will win over undecided voters.

  117. says

    Sahil Kapur:

    NEW: Black Democrats are torn between Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren for Biden’s VP.

    To some activists, a diverse ticket is paramount. But polls show black Dem voters prefer Warren.

    Both have reached an advanced vetting stage, per sources familiar.

    “I don’t support an all-white ticket,” says She The People’s @aimeeallison, who praises Harris.

    Black Lives Matter activist Jorden Giger prefers Warren as VP. “It’s not enough just to have a Black face in a high place.”

    Joe Biden’s campaign won’t say who he’s vetting for vice president. An aide says that “the process is dynamic and ongoing and no final decision has been made.”

    NBC link atl.

  118. says

    George Conway: “He’s at his golf club to make sure no one takes down his monument commemorating the nonexistent Civil War battle that never happened there.”

    Incidentally, the plaque reads: “Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,…”

  119. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 192:

    […] it is not clear if Trump’s apparent endorsement will win over undecided voters.

    It’s about time that people the world over begin to see an endorsement from Trump as a huge negative. If Trump endorses another world leader, that leader should be instantly seen as loser.

  120. says

    SC @191, that interview that Rachel Maddow conducted with the former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services was just remarkable.

    The tsunami of COVID-19 patients may force Arizona medical personnel to start triaging patients as if they were in a war zone with inadequate health care. One of the things they would take into account: how many years is the sick person likely to live if doctors save his/her life?

  121. says

    SC @187, yes, some countries are doing quite well when it comes to containing the virus. At the very least, they have slowed down the spread of the disease significantly. That gives us more time to find treatments that work, and better yet, a vaccine.

    Meanwhile, a conservative person in my neck of the woods told me, “Yeah, pretty much everyone will be exposed to it eventually. Nothing can be done I think.” The idea is that, yes, a lot of people will die. We can’t stop that. We need to focus on the economy.

    I feel like my neighbors are trying to kill me.

  122. says

    Lynna @ #202, yes, it is!

    Lynna @ #203, especially when you’re the leader of Poland, the only thing you got was some vague verbiage about US troops possibly coming, and then it emerges two days later that Trump is letting Putin put a bounty on the heads of his own country’s soldiers.

  123. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 182:

    Pence also claimed that “all 50 states” are “opening up safely and responsibly”

    Almost simultaneously, the governors of some states were announcing pauses or actual steps backwards when it comes to re-opening.

    Pence is a smoother liar than Trump, but he is still a liar. He is dangerous.

  124. says

    Lynna @ #205, I’m so sorry (and angry) it’s like that there. It’s far better here, and I’m still tense. You must feel trapped.

    I read that American and United are going back to full flights. It’s crazy. I don’t understand.

  125. says

    blf @176, thanks for posting that. The Guardian often does a better job of highlighting the lies of Pence and Trump than other media outlets. And they do it with a biting sense of humor. We need that perspective.

    SC @174:

    Evan McMullin: “The Russian intel service that backed Trump’s 2016 campaign pays the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. In other words, the commander in chief’s foreign backers are killing his soldiers and he hasn’t done a thing about it. What a disgrace.”

    That’s the most succinct summary I’ve read. McMullin has a talent for honing in on the essence of the problem.

  126. says

    SC @208, “You must feel trapped.” Yes, sometimes I do. Thanks for understanding.

    I get by, in some measure, by conversing online with more reasonable people. I also do a lot of gardening. My flowers are beautiful this year. My son told me that I should have been sheltering in place long before the pandemic. There are too many white supremacists and Trumpers here. It’s not safe to go out. [smile]

    Regarding your other comment, the idea that some airlines are returning to booking full flights makes me shudder. I won’t be on any of those flights.

  127. says

    Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves tweeted:

    The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag. The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it.
    If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it.

  128. says

    Lynna @ #210:

    I get by, in some measure, by conversing online with more reasonable people. I also do a lot of gardening. My flowers are beautiful this year.

    I hate to say it, but I giggle every time I think about your comment several weeks ago describing how your young neighbor came out and shouted at you that “old people” should be staying inside, when you were in your own yard and there was no one within like 40 ft. of you. I hope she’s taking all of the guidelines that literally.

  129. says

    Oh, jeeze. This reminds me of Trump’s task force to find voter fraud.

    Barr Joins Trump Effort To Will Antifa Into Existence With New ‘Anti-Gov Extremists’ Task Force

    Attorney General Bill Barr is hopping aboard […] Trump’s effort to go after “antifa,” an amorphous “anti-facist” movement that has become a bugaboo for some on the far-right, including Trump.

    According to a memo obtained by the Washington Post, Barr on Friday directed staff to create a task force focused specifically on countering “anti-government extremists.” The “extremists” reportedly include groups “of all persuasions.” The task force will focus specifically on the nebulous “antifa” movement as well as supporters of a far-right mentality referred to as “Boogaloo,” a movement that openly advocates for a civil war, according to the Post.

    “Among other lawless conduct, these extremists have violently attacked police officers and other government officials, destroyed public and private property, and threatened innocent people,” Barr wrote in a memo that, according to the Post, was sent to all the DOJ’s law enforcement officials and U.S. attorneys. “Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the core constitutional values of a democratic society governed by law. … Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion.”

    The move comes in the wake of nationwide protests speaking out against police brutality and racial injustice, and follows Trump’s efforts to brand “antifa” as a terrorist organization. As violence broke out at protests in various cities across the U.S., Trump blamed the movement for inciting riots. Since Trump’s Twitter terrorist designation, there have been multiple incidents around the country in which residents of local communities have lashed out against other citizens, over a misguided — and oftentimes patently false — belief in their allegiance to “antifa.”

    In the memo on Friday, Barr also suggested that “foreign entities” might be involved in the creation of the extremists groups, but, as the Post noted, he cited no evidence or specifics related to such a claim.

    “Some of these violent extremists, moreover, may be fortified by foreign entities seeking to sow chaos and disorder in our country,” Barr said.

    You can safely bet that Barr will mostly ignore all the white supremacists, wannabe Nazis, Boogaloo Bois and other rightwing groups that want to start a new civil war and/or get rid of most government altogether. Barr will mouth the appropriate words about including “all extremists,” but he will probably force his task force to focus on “antifa.”

    From comments posted by readers:

    Manufactures “evidence” for Trump and spends tax payer dollars to do it! How crazy and corrupt is that? Such a miscarriage of justice!
    If you EVER thought that Donnie and Bill don’t ‘create’ their own crisis and then pretend to solve them, PAY ATTENTION. This is a prime example. ANTIFA! DAMMIT! does not ‘exist’.
    On some level, I am curious if he actually believes this stuff or if he is just pandering to the crazy man in chief.
    In light of the recent CSIS analysis highlighting that 90% or more of all recent domestic terror acts have been the work of right wing groups and individuals, this is both sides-ism of a caliber rarely seen even in Trump’s White House.

    Unfortunately, I expect they will have the chance to do damage, follow racist vendettas, and generally corrupt our lives even further.
    Perhaps the response is for established hate-monitoring organizations to bombard the “task force” with information about violent right-wing groups – and to do so very publicly

    Abundant documentation about these well-armed and threatening groups may help to hijack the task force and force it to confront more pressing threats.

  130. says

    SC @212:

    I hate to say it, but I giggle every time I think about your comment several weeks ago describing how your young neighbor came out and shouted at you that “old people” should be staying inside, when you were in your own yard and there was no one within like 40 ft. of you. I hope she’s taking all of the guidelines that literally.

    That was funny. Probably the most humorous moment in my coronavirus pandemic experience.

    She and my other neighbors never wear a mask. It looks like they pick and choose the guidelines with which they comply.

    On the bright side, they do stay out of my yard. My closest visitor is currently one cow. The bovine is munching grass in what used to be horse pasture beyond my back fence. I don’t know what became of the horses. One cow is not enough to stink up the place, (it’s a big pasture, with more farmland beyond), so the cow and I are getting along just fine.

    Pretty sure that is not Devin Nunes’ cow.

  131. says

    OMG, Louie Gohmert opened his mouth and uttered nonsense again.

    Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert has no plans to slow the spread of the coronavirus personally by wearing a mask, even as infection rates reach catastrophic levels in his home state.

    Gohmert, who is 66-years-old, regularly attends sessions on the House floor sans-mask. The lawmaker told CNN on Friday that he has no intention of wearing one unless he contracts the deadly virus, despite the fact that health experts and even fellow Republicans are urging Americans to wear masks in public to combat the spread.

    “I don’t have the coronavirus, turns out as of yesterday I’ve never had it. But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask,” he said.

    When asked about concerns about asymptomatic spread, Gohmert dug his heels in: “But I keep being tested and I don’t have it. So I’m not afraid of you, but if I get it I’ll wear a mask.”

    The remarks follow moves by the governor of Texas this week to pause the state’s reopening as COVID-19 cases reach record highs — nearly every day this week the state saw more than 5,000 new infections.

  132. says

    From Mark Sumner: Additional sources confirm Russian cash-for-corpses bounties for murders of American soldiers

    On the last day of February, the United States signed a preliminary agreement with the Taliban that was intended to bring to an end to two decades of conflict and U. S. military occupation in Afghanistan. However, despite an extended round of chest-thumping by Donald Trump, it took only two days for that agreement to prove the weakest of weak tea, as violence resumed and the Taliban ordered its fighters right back into the fray. Since then, there has been attempts to negotiate a series of interim agreements that would build toward an actual working agreement, but the negotiations haven’t even seriously begun.

    Officially, the blame for that failure has been on COVID-19 and the pandemic that’s spread around the globe. But on Friday, The New York Times reported another reason why things might not be settling down: Russia paid bounties for militants to attack American forces.

    Now The Washington Post has confirmed that story and provided additional details. That includes how Moscow’s bounties on American troops are intended to “muddy the negotiations on Afghanistan” and keep the United States involved in this long, costly, and distracting effort. Which leaves Russia free to attack Ukraine, romp through the Middle East, and generally have its way around the world—all while Donald Trump defends their actions and makes regular phone calls to Vladimir Putin.

    As the earlier story made clear, Trump has known about Russia’s contract killing of American soldiers since at least March. That hasn’t prevented Trump from launching into an argument that Russia deserves to be re-admitted to the G7 and that Putin should be invited to the next meeting of the economic organization. Trump was on the phone with the Russian autocrat earlier this month to renew that invitation over the objections of both Canada and the U. K.

    As has become all too typical, the White House provided no details on the call. However, the Kremlin did provide a readout to say that: Trump initiated the call, they talked about COVID-19 and some ventilators sent to Russia from the U. S., they talked about the oil market and their mutual desire to see higher prices, and they talked about Russia continuing to act as source of flights for the U. S. space program. What’s notably not on that list is any mention of Russia paying for the death of U. S. forces, or any warnings of retaliation, or even a request to stop.

    The topic also didn’t seem to come up on previous phone calls. Like back in May, when Trump called Putin to gloat about the William Barr Justice Department trying to withdraw charges against Michael Flynn. There was supposedly some discussion of arms control that day, but the focus seemed to be on getting rid of treaties that prevent development of next-generation nuclear awfulness. Again, there was no mention of Russia’s program of paying out cash bonuses for people who murder American soldiers. Trump definitely knew about it. He just didn’t complain.

    Trump is also not complaining about how the Russian cash-for-corpses program extended to other members of the NATO coalition that have worked with the United States in Afghanistan. Which is certain to have an effect on the enthusiasm that the leaders of those nations have for helping the United States the next time there is a crisis — as well as their enthusiasm about meeting with Putin at one of Trump’s country clubs.

    With these additional sources verifying the facts, Trump will have more of a problem just claiming that The New York Times published “fake news.” Trump can try, but his claim won’t stick.

  133. blf says

    The cow, asserts the mildly deranged penguin, are horses in disguise (think Trojan Cow).

  134. says

    G liveblog:

    The speaker of the National Assembly of Serbia, Maja Gojković, the defense minister Aleksandar Vulin and the head of government office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Đurić, have tested positive for Covid-19, media reports suggest.

    All of them were present at the crowded victory celebration of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) following the election on Sunday, 21 June, European Western Balkans reports.

    Portal NOVA reported on Friday evening that Speaker Gojković has been hospitalised, while Vulin and Đurić are in self-isolation, having developed no symptoms so far, according to Danas.

    Several additional government officials in the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, as well as the president of the Business Chamber of Serbia, Marko Čadež, have also tested postive.

    The US states Florida, Arizona and Nevada recorded daily highs for coronavirus infections on Saturday, highlighting the worsening spread of the virus in several southern and western states, prompting some of them to roll back their reopening plans, Reuters reports.

    Florida on Saturday morning reported 9,585 new infections in the last 24 hours, a record for a second day, while Arizona recorded 3,591 new cases, matching its prior record on 23 June.

    Nevada disclosed 1,099 new cases, double its previous record high.

    The surge in cases has been most pronounced in a handful of southern and western states that reopened earlier and more aggressively, serving as a warning to the potentially illusory nature of any perceived progress in controlling the virus….

  135. says

    SC @218, I talk to the cow, so I think your delighted shouting about “Bunneee” is, you know, normal.

    blf @219, I too have my suspicions about the cow. After all, a lone cow is suspicious already. Thank the deranged penguin for me. I appreciate receiving the alert signal.

    In other news, we see more fuckery and hell has been inflicted on the federal judge system by team Trump.

    With Senate confirmation of Cory Wilson to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit earlier this week, Trump officially filled the last remaining open appellate court seat and appointed his 200th federal judge. This is the first time in four decades that there have been no vacancies in our federal appellate courts.

    Everything is bad.

    Wilson, a state court judge in Mississippi and former Republican legislator, is known for supporting policies that attack women, people of color, and poor people. He was confirmed by the Senate in a 52-48 party-line vote.

    Wilson is an anti-woman extremist who has called for a “complete and immediate” reversal of Roe v. Wade. Wilson is an extremist, even compared to your usual anti-woman extremist: he thinks that women whose lives are in danger should just die, rather than have access to abortion care. “Pro-life,” indeed.

    […] It’s almost like this has never been about abortion at all and is in fact is actually about controlling women! But I digress.

    And that’s not all! In the midst of a national conversation on systemic and institutional racism, the Senate chose to confirm this particular nominee, who is an outspoken proponent of laws that disenfranchise people of color.

    […] He has also complained about “the ACLU and other rent-a-mobs” opposing his racist voter ID efforts and mocked people who oppose making it more difficult for Americans to exercise their right to vote:

    […] Wilson was nominated to this seat after […] Ted Cruz killed the nomination of Halil Suleyman Ozerden, probably because his name wasn’t white enough. (Their official reasoning was that he “wasn’t conservative enough” because he accidentally followed the Constitution as a judge one time.) […]

    As Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP said,

    Cory Wilson belongs nowhere near the Mississippi seat on the Fifth Circuit, where voting rights are always on the docket. His nomination is patently offensive to Black Mississippians who have struggled long and hard for the right to vote. Wilson crafted and defended voter ID laws, denied voter suppression exists, and criticized those who enforce the Voting Rights Act. Wilson is utterly incapable of dispensing equal justice to millions of Black and Brown residents of the Fifth Circuit. Even Mitch McConnell’s Senate should reject this nomination.

    […] Although SCOTUS gets all the attention, the vast majority of appellate decisions come from US Circuit Courts of Appeal like the Fifth Circuit. The Supreme Court gets more than 7,000 requests to review appellate decisions every year and only hears 100 to 150 of them.

    The Fifth Circuit itself has jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, a population of nearly 38 million people and one of the largest percentages of Black people of any circuit court.

    […] Even if (knock on wood, spin around three times, go outside, and spit) Joe Biden wins in November, we are going to need radical action to try to repair the damage that has already been done to our federal court system. […]

    Wonkette link