1. says

    Another thing Trump said to state governors on that phone call:

    Someone throwing a rock is like shooting a gun. You have to do retribution.

  2. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    * George Floyd’s case: “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has been appointed to lead the prosecution of any cases arising from the death of George Floyd, said he plans to charge the four officers involved to ‘the highest degree of accountability that the law and the facts will support.'”

    * Minneapolis: “Since the beginning of 2015, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department have rendered people unconscious with neck restraints 44 times, according to an NBC News analysis of police records. Several police experts said that number appears to be unusually high.”

    * In Kentucky: “Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad has been fired, Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday afternoon, after it was announced that no body camera footage was available from the shooting of David McAtee.”

    * Heartening news out of Spain: “Spain on Monday reported no official deaths from the new coronavirus in a 24-hour period for the first time since March. The development is ‘very, very encouraging,’ emergency health response chief Fernando Simon said.”

    * U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan: “The federal judge who is handling the extraordinary proceedings in the Michael Flynn case told an appeals court on Monday it should not yet intervene in the matter, as Flynn is seeking.”

    * Moscow: “Russian President Vladimir Putin has set July 1 as the new date for a constitutional referendum that could allow him to remain in power through 2036.”

    * Unanimous SCOTUS ruling: “The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the oversight board established by Congress to help Puerto Rico out of a devastating financial crisis that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak, recent earthquakes and damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017. The justices reversed a lower court ruling that threatened to throw the island’s recovery efforts into chaos.” [good]

    * In light of recent events, this one’s worth watching: “A senior Trump administration official misused his office for private gain by capitalizing on his government connections to help get his son-in-law hired at the Environmental Protection Agency, investigators said in a report obtained by The Associated Press. The Interior Department’s Inspector General found that Assistant Interior Secretary Douglas Domenech reached out to a senior EPA official in person and later by email in 2017 to advocate for the son-in-law when he was seeking a job at the agency.”

  3. says

    Hope is not a plan, but without a plan, there’s little hope

    Trump doesn’t have a plan – on the pandemic, the economy, or social unrest – but he has hopes that others will make his problems go away.

    With multiple crises unfolding simultaneously, one might expect to see an American president deliver a national address of some kind. But the Washington Post spoke over the weekend to a senior administration official who said Donald Trump and some members of his team have decided “he should not speak to the nation because he had nothing new to say and had no tangible policy or action to announce yet.”

    […] The United States continues to struggle with a deadly pandemic; 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March; and there’s unrest in communities across the nation, with protestors taking to the streets to condemn racial injustices and violence against people of color.

    But the president doesn’t have anything “new to say” and has “no tangible policy or action to announce yet.”

    It got me thinking about something Chris Hayes said on his show on Thursday night:

    “[T]here is no plan from the president who warned against ‘American Carnage’ — the carnage and chaos we are living through now. Not the pandemic, not the economic crisis, not societal inequities, not predatory policing, not the protests in Minnesota, nothing except to make it all worse.”

    Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein stressed the same point in a related column this morning: “Trump simply seems to have given up on the job. He’s had no policy on the pandemic for about a month now. He basically has no policy on recovering from the economic calamity. And he has no policy to deal with the police violence, demonstrations and the rest of the upheaval that has gripped the nation for the past week.”

    There’s nothing hyperbolic about the observation. When Congress required the White House to produce a national testing strategy on the coronavirus, Trump and his team responded with a document that effectively dumped the problem on governors. When reporters asked the president for his economic plan, he acted as if he barely understood the question. […]

    Trump is a post-policy president who lacks the wherewithal to use the levers of power effectively to serve the nation’s interests. […]

    So what does the president have? A preoccupation with his desire to maintain power. The New York Times asked the White House yesterday about Trump’s intentions to address national unrest. He replied through an aide, “I’m going to win the election easily.”

    […] Obama, an unabashed technocrat, went to great lengths to bolster his vision with a meaningful policy platform.

    In 2020, Trump hasn’t endorsed “hope” as a message, but it nevertheless seems to be guiding his thinking. He hopes the coronavirus will go away. He hopes state officials will address the public-health crisis in such a way that helps him avoid blame. He hopes the economy will recover before Election Day. He hopes re-opening initiatives will be enough to reduce unemployment quickly. He hopes governors will get “tough” and end protests. […]

  4. says

    Steve Schmidt: “Watching Trump preen in front of St. John’s, moments after he threatened to deploy the American military against the American people, with a bible held above his head, I remembered this quote, ‘when [fascism] comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross’.”

  5. Saad says

    Turns out there was always an Upgrade to Dictator option once you are elected. The other presidents just didn’t have a bad enough conscience (or lacked the requisite confidence) to take it.

    Sooo…. what’s next?

  6. John Morales says

    “We’re going to win so much. You’re going to get tired of winning. you’re going to say, ‘Please Mr. President, I have a headache. Please, don’t win so much. This is getting terrible.’ And I’m going to say, ‘No, we have to make America great again.’ You’re gonna say, ‘Please.’ I said, ‘Nope, nope. We’re gonna keep winning.’”

  7. says

    Fascism: Donald Trump makes Rose Garden announcement while military attacks protesters outside.


    In a Rose Garden address outside a White House lined with military troops and vehicles, the incompetent and fascist Donald Trump is purportedly about to make a national announcement.

    Police fired numerous flashbang grenades and tear gas at protesters around the White House immediately before he appeared. It was clear the action was intentionally planned to coincide with Trump’s announcement.

    From Maggie Haberman:

    Tear gas has been fired outside the White House at protesters who, on TV, appeared to have their hands raised or were not being aggressive, just chanting. Given that the attorney general was just looking this scene over moments before it began, it’s safe to assume the adminiatration wanted this backdrop.

    More from the link above:

    […] Trump announces he will “end” the protests “now.”

    He warns that if governors cannot solve the problem, “I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

    “Thousands and thousands” of military forces are being deployed, says Trump.

    Despite his rhetoric, it’s completely unclear what the hell Trump thinks he’s talking about. He did not explicitly invoke the Insurrection Act, as many feared and warned, only issued threats.

    This may have been entirely aimed at creating a reason to attack protesters outside the White House.

    It’s self-evident that right-wing militants and “Boogaloo” adherents will take Trump’s invocation of “2nd Amendment Rights” as presidential signal to attack protesters. That, too, had to have been intentional.

    Yes, Trump did imply that he is bringing calling up thousands of “heavily armed” military troops to somehow protect people’s second amendment rights, all while he is ridding the streets of protestors and “dominating” every thing in sight.

    More from the link:

    […] Arlington County, Virginia is immediately recalling its police officers from DC. Arlington County County Board member Libby Garvey tweeted “Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op.”

    Trump also claimed that he has a “new court” that will back him up. Presumably, he means the Supreme Court.

    Trump also claimed to be putting General Milley “in charge,” but we don’t know what that means. In charge of what? Mark Alexander Milley is a United States Army general and the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Chairman, he is the highest-ranking and senior-most military officer in the United States Armed Forces.

    Trump says the top U.S. military officer is ‘in charge’ as George Floyd protests rock the nation

    In a contentious call with the nation’s governors Monday, President Donald Trump said he was putting America’s highest-ranking military officer “in charge” as protests over the death of George Floyd rock the United States for a seventh day.

    “General Milley is here who’s head of Joint Chiefs of Staff, a fighter, a warrior, and a lot of victories and no losses. And he hates to see the way it’s being handled in the various states. And I’ve just put him in charge,” Trump told governors, according to audio obtained by NBC.

    It was not immediately clear what Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley would be tasked with as it relates to the domestic unrest across the nation. The Pentagon added few details. “The chairman will continue to advise the secretary of Defense,” Pentagon spokesperson U.S. Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said.

    “As of this morning, 23 states and the District of Columbia had mobilized personnel in support of state and local authorities. Combined, they provided over 17,000 National Guard troops in support,” Mitchell added.

    When asked to elaborate, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she would not “get ahead of any actions that will be announced” on the matter.

    “There will be additional federal assets deployed across the nation and there will be a central command center in conjunction with the state and local governments that will include general Milley, [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper and [Attorney General William] Barr, but I won’t go any further in announcing any actions,” McEnany said during a White House press briefing. […]

  8. says

    Defense Secretary Calls Turmoil On America’s Streets A ‘Battlespace’ To ‘Dominate’

    “I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,” Esper said in a White House call with governors, according to audio obtained by the Washington Post. […]

    The president’s call to designate “antifa” as a domestic terrorist organization in a tweet Sunday seems to have incited some members of Congress to advocate the use of violence and force against their fellow Americans. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted his desire to “hunt them down” in the tradition of Americans hunting terrorists “in the Middle East.” […]

  9. says

    So, yeah, Trump claimed to be designating ANTIFA as a terrorist organization. The idea is so bonkers that journalists are having a hard time analyzing or describing what Trump has done … or could do.

    […] Trump tweeted Sunday that his administration will designate antifa — a loosely organized, left-wing movement and occasional conservative bogeyman — as a terrorist organization.

    Attorney General Bill Barr followed it up with a statement late Sunday evening, making the slightly more tailored statement that “the violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

    TPM undertook this morning to ascertain the legal particulars of the Trump administration’s policy. For sure, there are a lot of questions to be asked.

    What’s the precedent for this? How could a designation used for foreign organizations apply to a domestic group? How could it apply to a group like Antifa, less an organization than a collection of people who label themselves anti-fascist? What?

    The deafening answer was silence. None of the specialists in this area of national security law contacted by TPM would bite on the underlying topic. The reason? The order is too half-baked to comment on.

    […] For one attorney, the lack of clarity was both a factor of the President’s lack of understanding of what he’s discussing and a reflection of how chaotic the Trump administration has been in following Trump’s own directives.

    It’s a loud bark, so to speak, but one that’s too incoherent at this point to have much bite.

    Rather, it follows on years of Trump and his cohort attempting to turn antifa into a violent enemy of peace and prosperity in the U.S. […]

    Even on the merits, various legal analysts have dismissed the proposal to designate antifa as a terrorist group as unconstitutional.

    CNN legal analyst Peter Bergen called the move “crazy” in a column, saying it was “surely unconstitutional because it would effectively criminalize joining an American domestic ideological group.”

    Yet the move by Trump has paid dividends as his very online supporters spin rhetoric that’s as inflammatory as it is cringe-inducing.

    Benny Johnson, the fired Buzzfeed staffer who now works for the right-wing group Turning Point USA, took it as an opportunity to fantasize: “Imagine how many scared little white skinny jean communists are sitting in their parents basement right now shaking and clutching their Soy Latte while trying frantically to delete their ANTIFA laden FB profiles before federal agents drag them to GITMO.” […]


  10. says

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    […] Trump somehow imagined it was a good idea to unleash law enforcement on peaceful demonstrators before the 7 p.m. curfew Monday night as he stepped into the Rose Garden to give a knockoff version of Richard M. Nixon’s “law and order” message.

    The president who called NFL protesters peacefully taking a knee “sons of [B-word],” lied when he declared that he is a friend of peaceful demonstrators. The police firing rubber bullets and launching tear gas at protesters in Lafayette Square in front of the White House said otherwise. Then, as if the scene was not evidence enough of his desire to raise the level of violence, he pledged to deploy the U.S. military on U.S. soil, against U.S. civilians, if governors did not heed his incendiary advice to fill the streets with National Guard troops. It was later revealed that Trump instigated the assault on protesters specifically to make a gesture of walking to St. John’s church.

    Nothing could be more representative of the dangerous narcissism of a president in over his head, resorting to threats of violence against a country he ostensibly is supposed to lead. The deliberate instigation of violence for his own photo op tells Americans how deeply twisted and deformed his character is.

    […] The invocation of a religious institution to justify an assault on peaceful protesters was as great an abuse of religious symbols as anything Trump has done. Surely, he never heard of the “Blessed are the peacemakers” passage from the Christian bible. He worships not peacemakers but instruments of brute force.

    Moreover, any attempt to use the military against civilians in this fashion would almost certainly be illegal and unconstitutional. Even under the Insurrection Act, federal troops would have to be invited into the states to suppress an actual rebellion. For Trump, the threat of force, however unrealistic, is his go-to move when his manliness is called into question — as it was when he fled to the bunker at the White House over the weekend.

    If anyone in America had any doubt as to his intentions — to foment violence, to increase racial animosity, to glorify himself at the expense of the national good — Tuesday’s events should silence them. Democrats and any Republicans with a modicum of decency should denounce the stunt, call for a full review of the incident and conduct congressional oversight.

    We hope a strong bipartisan assembly of elected officials joins the protesters at the White House, and that one or more civil rights groups will file suit for use of excessive force and deprivation of the peaceful protesters’ rights of assembly and free speech. You are either for Trump or for democracy at this point.

    Washington Post link

  11. says

    Here’s a link to the June 2 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Hundreds of far-right supporters led by opposition’s leaders Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni are breaching social distancing restrictions as they protest in Rome against Italy’s government, writes Lorenzo Tondo, the Guardian’s southern Italy correspondent.

    The demonstrators, who took to the streets to celebrate Italy’s Republic Day, have been chanting against prime minister Giuseppe Conte and the lockdown measures, which, according to the protesters, have “limited our freedom.” Many supporters are not wearing masks as the police struggle to restore order and social distancing measures.

    Even Salvini, who yesterday exhorted his followers to march on the streets of Rome, flaunted the regulations by removing his mask.

    ‘’Experts are saying the virus is dying’’, said Salvini when asked by journalists why he was not wearing the mask. [Experts are not saying this. – SC]

    Thousands of people attacked Salvini on social media for his choice to protest publicly in such a delicate moment for the country. Many even pointed out that until recently Salvini detested Republic Day. As one of the most outspoken supporters of northern secessionism, on Republic Day in 2013 Salvini tweeted, “Good night, friends. There’s not a fucking thing to celebrate today.”

    The International Rescue Committee has warned that Afghanistan faces a humanitarian disaster as coronavirus spreads undetected and confirmed cases rose 684% in May, Akhtar Mohammad Makoii reports from Herat.

    IRC said in a statement that Afghan the health ministry has the capacity to test 2,000 suspected patients each day, but are receiving between five and 10 times as many samples.

    “That means between 80 and 90% of potential cases are not being tested. Afghanistan has one of the highest test positivity rates (40%) of all the countries where the IRC works, suggesting a high level of undetected population infection” IRC said.

    The organisation urgently called on the international community to work with Afghanistan to improve their testing capacity, and to increase direct support for frontline responders like the IRC.

    “Four decades of war has devastated the health care system in Afghanistan and left more than five million Afghans, especially women and children, living in fear of abuse, neglect, conflict, exploitation and violence,” said Vicki Aken, Afghanistan Country Director at the IRC.

    “The Covid-19 outbreak is making the already terrible situation much worse. Many health clinics do not have the proper protective gear to treat or refer Covid-19 patients and are turning away those showing signs and symptoms”. Aken added. “Our teams on the ground are seeing an increase in violence against women and children, and women are likely to face increased economic hardship”.

    According to IRC the outbreak has left almost 11 million people facing severe food insecurity, unsure of where their next meal will come from.

    The humanitarian organisation said it is “extremely concerned” not only for the severe health impacts the virus will have on Afghans, but also for the way this disease is already exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

    On Tuesday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed 16,000 in the war-torn country, as the health ministry reported 759 new transmissions and five more deaths from Covid-19. The total number of infections in the country is now 16,509 and the death toll is 270. There have been 1,450 recoveries.

    Most of the new infections were recorded in the capital, Kabul, and the western province of Herat, which have been the hotspots of the outbreak in Afghanistan. Kabul recorded 266 new cases and Herat 212. Kabul is the nation’s worst affected area with 6,478 confirmed cases. Three of the latest deaths recorded in the northern province of Balkh.

    Problems with testing continue in Kandahar, with no suspected patient tested in the southern province in around three weeks.

    Iran has recorded its second highest number of new coronavirus cases since its outbreak began, with 3,117 people in the country testing positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, according to the latest health ministry report.

    The number of new daily infections in Iran has now returned to levels previously seen at the peak of its outbreak in late March. Iran’s highest number of new cases in a single day was reached on 31 March, when 3,186 positive tests were reported.

    Death tolls remain well below levels seen then, however. In his latest update, Kianoush Jahanpour, the health ministry spokesman, said 64 Iranians had died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours.

    So far, 157,562 people in Iran have tested positive for coronavirus, of whom 123,077 have recovered and 7,942 have died.

  12. says

    More re #474 on the previous thread – Independent – “Brazil’s political rivals unite to oppose Bolsonaro and ‘defend life, freedom and democracy’ amid spiralling coronavirus crisis”:

    Prominent Brazilians from across the political spectrum have launched a manifesto urging officials to shield the country from its increasingly authoritarian president Jair Bolsonaro and the fallout from his dismissive approach to the coronavirus crisis.

    As Brazil’s official Covid-19 death toll surpassed that of France on Saturday, the Movimento Estamos Juntos (We Are Together Movement) published its manifesto in multiple newspapers, with 1,600 initial signatories pledging to put aside political divisions to resist Mr Bolsonaro.

    Over 100,000 people have now put their names to the document, which urges elected officials to “set aside old disputes” and mobilise in defence of “life, freedom and democracy”, demanding leaders “exercise their role with dignity in the face of the devastating health, political and economic crisis”.

    The following day, Mr Bolsonaro rode on horseback with his supporters to protest against Congress and the Supreme Court, which is investigating his interference in police affairs.

    His fury was compounded last week after several of his key supporters’ homes were raided over alleged libel and intimidation campaigns, prompting Mr Bolsonaro to make an expletive-laden appearance outside his residence wearing a tie decorated with assault rifles.

    Mr Bolsonaro insists his aims are democratic and that his opponents are trampling the constitution in their efforts to oust him.

    However on Saturday, around 600 prominent lawyers bought pages in several newspapers to publish their own anti-Bolsonaro manifesto, called Basta! (Enough!).

    “Brazil, its institutions, its people, cannot continue to be attacked by someone who … exercises the noble mandate that was given to him to undermine the foundations of our democratic system,” they wrote.

    The jurists added: “We all believe that it is necessary to stop this night of terror with which it is intended to cover this country”, concluding: “Let us be intolerant of the intolerant.”

    In Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the tensions spilled over into the streets this weekend, with the president’s supporters and critics narrowly avoiding clashes.

    On Saturday night, a group of masked Bolsonarists in the capital marched to the court carrying torches to call for its closure, and that of Congress, urging the military to intervene.

    The following day in Sao Paulo, the country’s coronavirus epicentre, a broad coalition of black-clad football fans [?] united in their opposition to the president clashed with riot police, just a short distance away from the president’s supporters.

    Military police chief, Alvaro Batista Camilo, said tear gas was fired to keep the groups apart after some pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators carrying what he called a neo-Nazi flag approached the protesters.

    After joining his supporters’ demonstrations for weeks, Mr Bolsonaro on Monday changed tack, telling his backers to “leave things alone” this coming Sunday. He rejected responsibility for the protests, saying: “I don’t coordinate anything … I just attend.”

    The attempt to rein in his supporters came as the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, said he would decide whether to open impeachment proceedings against Mr Bolsonaro “at the appropriate time”.

    While Mr Maia did not rule out doing so, he said Brazil’s most pressing concern was unity in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he did not want to put “more wood in the fire”.

    With more than 520,000 confirmed cases, Brazil is now thought to be the second-largest Covid-19 hotspot in the world, behind the US. Some 33,000 cases were identified on Saturday alone.

    Mr Bolsonaro continues to be scornful of the virus,…

    Writing in support of the Estamos Juntos manifesto on Saturday, left-wing politician Flavio Dino said: “Bolsonaro sometimes comes across as a caricature, something comical. But he’s dangerous – he and the followers of this fanatical far-right sect are dangerous.”…

  13. says

    These must be the experts to whom Salvini is referring in #14 above. The doctor they primarily quote appears to have a clear political agenda (“We’ve got to get back to being a normal country,” he said. “Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country.”). Also, if they’re finding lighter viral loads, it could be explained by the effects of social distancing in Italy.

  14. says

    Moscow Times – “Russia Coronavirus Cases Rise Past 420K as [official – SC] Deaths Surpass 5K”:

    Russia confirmed 8,863 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 423,741.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced that a postponed nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that could extend his hold over power will go ahead on July 1.

    The authorities have also rescheduled Russia’s massive May 9 Victory Day military parade for June 24.

    Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s pandemic with around half of the country’s total cases, on Monday eased a nine-week lockdown allowing shops to reopen and residents to leave their homes for short walks.

    Putin was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday to discuss proposals to restart an economy badly hit by lockdown measures and a sharp fall in oil prices.

    RFE/RL – “Russian Police Colonel Being Treated For COVID-19 Falls From Moscow Hospital Window”:

    A female police lieutenant colonel has fallen from a window on the fifth floor of a Moscow hospital treating coronavirus patients, Russian media reported.

    The reports said the incident occurred at Moscow City Clinical Hospital No. 24 on the evening of May 30.

    The woman, identified as 45-year-old Yulia B. by Komsomolskaya pravda, was described as a senior expert at the Forensic Center of the Interior Ministry.

    The newspaper reported that the police lieutenant colonel died on the spot, but Russian media organization RBC said she survived the fall and was placed in an intensive-care unit.

    Komsomolskaya pravda said the police colonel left her ward to go into the corridor, then “fell” from the fifth floor window, and landed on the grass below.

    It was not immediately clear what exactly happened.

    She had arrived at the hospital on May 23 after being diagnosed with the coronavirus.

    The incident comes after three physicians in Russia fell out of windows amid mysterious circumstances during the coronavirus outbreak….

  15. says

    Religion News Service – “Ahead of Trump Bible photo op, police forcibly expel priest from St. John’s church near White House”:

    Early Monday evening (June 1), President Trump stood before the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Washington, DC, and held aloft a Bible for cameras.

    The photo opportunity had an eerie quality: Trump said relatively little, positioned stoically in front of the boarded-up church, which had been damaged the day before in a fire during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

    The church appeared to be completely abandoned.

    It was, in fact, abandoned, but not by choice: less than an hour before Trump’s arrival, armored police used tear gas to clear hundreds of peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square park, which is across the street from the church.

    Authorities also expelled at least one Episcopal priest and a seminarian from the church’s patio.

    “They turned holy ground into a battleground,” said the Rev. Gini Gerbasi.

    Gerbasi, who serves as rector at a different Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown, arrived at St. John’s Lafayette earlier that day with what she said were at least 20 other priests and a group of laypeople. They were organized by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to serve as a “peaceful presence in support of protestors.”

    The volunteers and clergy offered water, snacks, and hand sanitizer to demonstrators who were gathered in Lafayette Park across the street — which sits directly in front of the White House — to denounce racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd.

    But sometime after six in the evening, when volunteers were packing up supplies, Gerbasi said police suddenly began to expel demonstrators from the park — before the 7:00 pm curfew announced for Washington residents earlier in the day.

    “I was suddenly coughing from the tear gas,” she said. “We heard those explosions and people would drop to the ground because you weren’t sure what it was.”

    The Rev. Glenna J. Huber, the rector of the Church of the Epiphany who was at St. John’s but left as the National Guard arrived, said she watched as police rushed into the area she had just fled. Concerned, the priest sent a frantic email to clergy at the church urging them to be careful.

    Back at St. John’s, Gerbasi said she was dressed in clerical garb and standing on church grounds as police approached.

    “I’m there in my little pink sweater in my collar, my gray hair up in a ponytail, my reading glasses on, and my seminarian who was with me — she got tear gas in her eyes,” she said.

    Gerbasi said as she and the seminarian watched, police began to expel people from the church patio.

    “The police in their riot gear with their black shields and the whole bit start pushing on to the patio of St. John’s Lafayette Square,” she said, adding that people around her began crying out in pain, claiming to be shot with non-lethal projectiles.

    Gerbasi and others eventually fled the scene, leaving emergency medical supplies behind. By the time she reached K street several blocks away and checked her phone, Trump was already in front of the church holding a Bible.

    “That’s what it was for: to clear that patio so that man could stand in front of that building with a Bible,” said Gerbasi….

    More atl. They basically forcibly occupied a church to do a photo op claiming to be defending religion.

  16. says

    NBC – “White nationalist group posing as antifa called for violence on Twitter”:

    A Twitter account claiming to belong to a national “antifa” organization and pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests has been linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, according to a Twitter spokesperson.

    The spokesperson said the account violated the company’s platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts. Twitter suspended the account after a tweet that incited violence.

    As protests were taking place in multiple states across the U.S. Sunday night, the newly created account, @ANTIFA_US, tweeted, “Tonight’s the night, Comrades,” with a brown raised fist emoji and “Tonight we say ‘F— The City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what’s ours …”

    This isn’t the first time Twitter has taken action against fake accounts engaged in hateful conduct linked to Identity Evropa, according to the spokesperson.

    The antifa movement — a network of loosely organized radical groups who use direct action to fight the far-right and fascism — has been targeted by President Donald Trump as the force behind some of the violence and property destruction seen at some protests, though little evidence has been provided for such claims.

    Other misinformation and misleading claims spread across Twitter on Sunday night and into Monday related to the protests.

    Two hashtags that trended worldwide on Twitter falsely claimed that there was a “cover-up” or a “blackout” of protests in Washington, D.C., overnight. Both appeared to insinuate that protesters have been silenced in some way, perhaps by a secret internet blackout.

    Twitter says it has removed the trend from its “trending topics” section because of “coordinated attempts to disrupt the public conversation” around the protests.

    Twitter said it suspended several hundred accounts and is investigating the viral spread of the hashtag, which it said was boosted by “hundreds of spammy accounts.”

    “We’re taking action proactively on any coordinated attempts to disrupt the public conversation around this issue,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

    The spokesperson said the company sometimes pulls down hashtags that violate the company’s rules, like platform manipulation.

    Many accounts tweeting the message had few to no followers. The same messages were also posted on Reddit and 4chan late Sunday. The posts pushing the #DCBlackout hashtag peaked in popularity around 12:30 a.m. ET Monday.

    A second narrative boosted by bots and hacked accounts claimed that #DCBlackout is a misinformation campaign. The same message was tweeted verbatim by multiple accounts.

    “Yeah…… as someone seeing #dcblackout trending, who lives and works in the DC metro area, and who has friends telecommuting into DC rn….. This hashtag looks like misinformation,” read the tweet, which was posted hundreds of times.

    The goal of the hashtag seems to be to sow confusion and fear during a chaotic time and to push the #DCBlackout hashtag to the front page of Twitter, where all users would at least glance at the disinformation.

    Josh Russell, an independent bot researcher who identifies foreign and domestic hacking and trolling operations, said events like the weekend’s protests are ripe for this kind of platform manipulation.

    Off Twitter, viral text messages of screenshots of doctored tweets have circulated throughout the country. Some of the false text messages claim that extremist groups are plotting to move into residential areas this week.

    Bot researchers call this kind of disinformation distribution “hidden viral” text messages, which go undetected on mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter and can spread like wildfire without moderation.

    Similar “hidden viral” text messages went viral at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with messages claiming that the institution of martial law was imminent, vaguely citing friends or co-workers.

    American officials later claimed that the texts were boosted by Chinese disinformation agents to spread panic.

    Russell said hostile foreign governments frequently “look at opportunities to make it seem as though there is an infrastructure failure” during times of crisis.

    “This is a common thing for foreign disinformation agents,” Russell said. “They would be trying to get people to believe that things are much worse on the ground than they are.”

  17. blf says

    It occurred to me this morning that, in a sense, hair furor is “correct” to call out the military — PROVIDED their mission is sensibly defined (and/or they interpret it sensibly); e.g., “Neutralize the terrorists”. That means the policegoons are the principle target.

    Of course the proviso “sensibly defined” is unlikely from teh dalekocrazy, albeit the “interpret it sensibly” (by the military) might not be? Using the military against people on States soil is a rare event, and one which is tightly constrained. Doing so at the whim of a delusional manic has never(?) happened, and it’s not impossible to imagine generals, officers, and/or troops refusing to employ force against protestors (albeit there are very probably some who would, perhaps with unrestrained glee). Without checking, I believe the Geneva Conventions require disobeying clearly unethical orders, and the hair furor’s rantings — against the protestors — would seem to be a example of such. But interpreting such orders as to get the policegoons, the cause of the protests, under control?

  18. blf says

    Here in France, today was the first day of the second cycle of “deconfinement”. Locally, this meant restaurants & bars are now open, albeit with restrictions. Despite having a full fridge, I went out for lunch today, carefully choosing the restaurant where I was confident the owners (a young couple) would be following the guidelines whilst serving their usual excellent meal. Yes, yes, and yes! To a “T”, including confirming I had to wear a facemask to visit the toilet.

    I then popped off to a bar, but as it turned out, one not so careful: One server wasn’t wearing a mask at all (they are supposed to), and another was doing the cover-the-mouth-but-not-the-nose silliness. And the (tap) beer seemed a bit stale, as-if it’d been sitting around since the start(-ish) of the lockdown, over two months ago.

    The local village council has come up with what seems like a good plan: In the evenings, the main esplanade will be closed to traffic (as it is during the summer tourist season), allowing the bars & restaurants to expand their outdoor seating. (There are also various tax breaks and similar.) Whilst I think the main esplanade should be pedestrianised all the time, I do realise that does present some problems, largely due to the maze of very narrow twisty streets (on which I recently got lost! (again!! (again!!!))).

  19. blf says

    ‘Words of a dictator’: Trump’s threat to deploy military raises spectre of fascism:

    The president [sic] suggested the US could use troops against Americans — true to the instincts of a man surrounded by sycophants

    “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” goes an oft-quoted line of uncertain origin.

    On Monday evening, Donald Trump, with four US flags behind him, threatened to send in the military against the American people, then crossed the road to pose for a photo outside a historic church while clutching an upside-down Bible.

    He was only able to get there after heavily armed police and horse-mounted national guardsmen fired teargas and rubber bullets to chase away peaceful protesters and journalists.


    Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator for Oregon, tweeted: “The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens. I fear for our country tonight and will not stop defending America against Trump’s assault.”

    Kamala Harris, a Democratic senator for California, told the MSNBC network: “These are not the words of a president. They are the words of a dictator.”


    The alarming development ended days of speculation over how the president [sic], already overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, might respond to the most widespread civil unrest in America in more than half a century.

    Media reports suggested heated debates among White House officials over whether Trump should deliver an Oval Office address. In the end, there was a familiar winner: Trump himself.

    The choreography of his remarks in the White House Rose Garden and protesters being roughed up just outside was a made-for-television moment around the time of the evening news. Trump remains a reality-TV impresario.

    The darkness of his tone was also true to his instincts. His authoritarian tendencies include a love of military parades, putting his name on buildings, hiring family members, staging populist rallies, berating the media and threatening to lock up political opponents. […]


    Earlier in his presidency [sic], Trump was surrounded by military figures, including chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser HR McMaster, who might have found ways to thwart his strongman posture. Now such guardrails are gone and the president’s [sic] inner circle is compliant.

    Chris Whipple, author of The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, said: “This is someone who has never empowered anyone to tell him what he does not want to hear and the result is a complete failure of leadership. It’s clear that he no longer has a functioning White House chief of staff.”

    “There is no one who can walk into the Oval Office, close the door and tell him hard truths … He has the presidency [sic] he’s always wanted, which is a presidency [sic] of enablers and sycophants and people who will not dare to tell him what he needs to hear, and so we’re seeing the results,” Whipple said.


    Joe Lockhart, a former White House press secretary, tweeted on Monday night: “I lived through MLK and Bobby being assassinated, our cities burning, Watergate, 9/11 and other national tragedies. I’ve never been so frightened for our country as I am tonight. Trump has to go now.”

  20. blf says

    Bishop ‘outraged’ over Trump’s church photo op during George Floyd protests (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    The Rev Mariann Budde says the institution aligns itself with those seeking justice for Floyd’s death

    The Episcopal bishop of Washington DC has said she is “outraged” after officers used teargas to clear a crowd of peaceful protesters from near the White House to make way for Donald Trump.

    Minutes after speaking in the Rose Garden about the importance of law and order to quell the unrest over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Trump walked across the street to St John’s Episcopal church […]

    But not before police used teargas and force to clear the streets for Trump’s photo opportunity.

    Once he arrived at St John’s, Trump held up a Bible that read “God is love”, while posing in front of the church’s sign.

    The Right Rev Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, told the Washington Post: “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing {the area} with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.”


    “Let me be clear, the president [sic] just used a Bible, […] and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” she told CNN. [the “antithetical” can be disputed — this is the death cult — as well as the “teachings” of someone would never existed… but it’s clear the magic sky faerie botherer is very very annoyed –blf]

    “We align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others. And I just can’t believe what my eyes have seen,” she added.

    “I don’t want President [sic] Trump speaking for St John’s. We so dissociate ourselves from the messages of this president [sic],” she told the Washington Post. […]

    Other religious leaders echoed her comments.

    Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Primate of the Episcopal church, accused the president of using the church and Bible for “partisan political purposes”. [… hah! that‘s very very common, frequently aided & abetted by the sorts now (legitimately?) outraged, albeit perhaps not as blatant and self-serving –blf]

    Father Edward Beck, a Catholic priest, tweeted: ‘“Has the Bible ever been used in a more disingenuous and exploitative way?” [yes. eejit. e.g., ask the children your cult rapes. … –blf]

    Whilst I’m obviously not very sympathetic to the multi-faced repeated liars, hair furor’s exceptionally crude exploitation of their mythology — and the events leading up to it (both immediate and historical) — does mean I acknowledge their anger as (probably) mostly-legitimate, if not based on rationality or reality.

  21. blf says

    No real comment on this Grauniad article, but I love them (the Grauniad) living up to their reputation for Tpyos offerings, Austria unveils design to turn Hitler’s house into a police station: “Conversion of building where Nazi leader was born will cost €5m and be completed in 1922”. Snort! (I presume this may be fixed, albeit I won’t be the one telling them neither they nor the Austrian police have a Tardis.)

    (Accidentally originally posted in poopyhead’s Looking for Linux advice thread.)

  22. blf says

    Trump has reached the ‘mad emperor’ stage, and it’s terrifying to behold:

    He incites violence from the safety of a bunker, then orders peaceful people tear-gassed for the sake of a surreal photo op

    Writing from a Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King Jr famously told his anxious fellow clergymen that his non-violent protests would force those in power to negotiate for racial justice. “The time is always ripe to do right,” he wrote.

    On an early summer evening, two generations later, Donald Trump walked out of the White House, where he’d been hiding in a bunker. Military police had just fired teargas and flash grenades at peaceful protesters to clear his path, so that he could wave a Bible in front of a boarded church.

    For Trump, the time is always ripe to throw kerosene on his own dumpster fire.

    In the week since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers, Trump has watched and tweeted helplessly as the nation he pretends to lead has reached its breaking point. After decades of supposedly legal police beatings and murders, the protests have swept America’s cities more quickly than even coronavirus.

    This is no coincidence of timing. In other crises, in other eras, there have been presidents who understood their most basic duty: to calm the violence and protect the people. In this crisis, however, we have a president [sic] who built his entire political career as a gold-painted tower to incite violence.


    Trump can no more end today’s violence than he can manage a pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans, or create the jobs that will rescue more than 40 million unemployed.

    Faced with a threefold crisis of racial, health and economic disasters, we have a three-year-old in the Oval Office.

    Our get-tough president started his day by telling the nation’s governors that the world was laughing at them — a recurring nightmare that he loves to project on to everyone else.

    […] Trump demonstrated to the world that he had learned precisely nothing in his three and a half years in charge of the world’s most diverse nation.

    I am your president of law and order, he said in the Rose Garden, as thousands of Americans protested against the nation’s agents of law and order. Trump said he would mobilise all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting to protect your second amendment rights.

    If you’ve missed all the protesters seizing weapons from NRA members, you’re not alone. That last bit was a call to arms for every vigilante to escalate the violence. We have somehow devolved from dog whistle to foghorn politics.


    Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas tweeted that the protesters — he prefers to call them terrorists — should face combat troops on American streets. Let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division, he wrote of the Screaming Eagles, who actually killed real fascists in the D-Day landings.

    Never mind the actual law of the land that expressly prohibits the US military from domestic law enforcement, unless a state governor requests it.


    Trump has used his time in the White House far more effectively than anyone could have imagined. He ignored the dead and dying in Puerto Rico and brutalised the children at the border. He ignored the dead and dying in the pandemic and wants to brutalise the protesters in our cities.


  23. says

    In contrast to the description of Trump’s statements and actions in blf’s comment 27, here is some more coverage of what Obama and Biden have been doing:

    Former President Barack Obama published a piece to Medium yesterday, sketching out “some thoughts on how to make this moment a real turning point to bring about real change.” The missive, which was only about 1,000 words, was clearly intended by its author to be constructive and help lay the groundwork for sustained and meaningful change. […]

    The former president began by acknowledging the legitimacy of the protests, emphasizing the fact that the vast majority of protestors have been peaceful, and condemning those who’ve turned to violence. Obama went on to explain the importance not only of voting, but of the relevance of voting in state and local elections, where police reforms can have the greatest impact.

    He added, as part of an effort to move the process forward, “[A]s a starting point, here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.”

    This wasn’t the point of Obama’s piece, but it stood as a reminder of what a president sounds like — and how leaders should try to use their platforms.

    […] his former vice president is trying to step up, too.

    Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the nationwide peaceful protests to the death of George Floyd, calling his killing in police custody a “wake-up call for our nation” and drawing a stark contrast between […] Trump’s tactics and how he would respond.

    Biden delivered the remarks in Philadelphia — the same city Obama delivered his famous “A More Perfect Union” speech in March 2016. (It also comes a day after Biden met with community leaders at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Delaware.)

    “Look, the presidency is a big job,” the Democratic candidate said this morning. “Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either. But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.”

    Biden’s remarks included a policy component, including endorsing police-reform measures, most notably a proposed national ban on chokeholds. He added that would launch a police-oversight commission within 100 days of his inauguration. Just as importantly, Biden emphasized that issues such as health care and pay equity are pieces of the same larger puzzle.

    But as the former vice president was poised to speak this morning, the man he hopes to replace was on Twitter, thanking himself for cities with diminished unrest last night, and touting the importance of “domination” over certain Americans. […]


  24. says

    Some bits and pieces of campaign news:

    […] * In light of the crisis conditions, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) yesterday issued an executive order extending the deadline for primary mail ballots in his state. […]

    * Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) told Trump yesterday she’s concerned about possible security problems ahead of his scheduled visit to her state later this week. The president said he’s going anyway.

    * On a related note, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said yesterday she will not be accompanying her party’s president during his trip to her home state.

    * Yesterday was the filing deadline for Kansas’ U.S. Senate race, which means we can now officially stop talking about whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might run for the seat.

    * In 2016, conservative columnist George Will announced his departure from the Republican Party. In his latest column, Will not only calls for Trump’s defeat, he added, “Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting.”


  25. tomh says

    Secret Service blocks off area surrounding White House after protests
    Dave Lawler

    The U.S. Secret Service has closed the streets immediately on all four sides of the White House, with an agent telling Axios they’ll remain closed “probably until the riots become peaceful, or stop.”

    Protesters near the White House were aggressively dispersed with tear gas and shields last night, before President Trump walked across Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church. This decision will presumably force any protests to take place farther from the White House.

    A fence was also erected overnight near Lafayette Park, apparently to keep protesters out of the area. The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the closures, or how long they will be in place.

  26. says

    Jeh Johnson, former secretary of Homeland Security, talks with Rachel Maddow about the logistics and legalities of invoking the Insurrection Act and whether Donald Trump’s threat to deploy the U.S. military against Americans is realistic.

    Great video snippet. The video is 6:33 minutes long.

    When the President says he is putting General Milley in charge? I’m sure that was a head-turn for General Milley. General Milley is the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff. He is, by law, the principle legal advisor to the President and the National Security Council. General Milley, with all due respect, is not in charge of anything except the joint staff bureaucracy on the second floor of the Pentagon, and a few other things like the National Defense University.

    Aside from that, as you pointed out, there is the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which generally forbids the active duty military to engage in direct domestic law enforcement. It’s one of the things that makes our country great. It’s an American value. It’s one of the reasons why we have so much respect for our military today, because we keep them cabined in that way.

    The Insurrection Act of 1807, which some lawyer pulled out of the closet, has been amended over time, over the years, and it’s cobbled together in various different places. But the Insurrection Act is something that empowers the President to commit the active duty force domestically, but essentially when all else has failed. It is a measure of last resort when state governments have failed in their law enforcement mission, when state court systems have melted down, like, for example, when there is violence on the streets and states refuse to abide by federal court order. In those types of circumstances which are clearly not applicable here. Violence is widespread. The violence is serious, but we are not at a point … I think we’re far from a point where law enforcement, with the help of the National Guard under state control, can deal with it. I think we’re a very long way off from invocation of the Insurrection Act. […]

  27. says

    From Joe Biden:

    When peaceful protesters are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the President is more interested in power than in principle.

    Biden also said that Trump is “sweeping away” the “guardrails of Democracy.”

  28. says

    US Ambassador To Australia Responds To US Police Violence Against Australian Journalists

    […] “Freedom of the press is a right Australians and Americans hold dear,” Ambassador Arthur Culvahouse Jr. said in a statement. “We take mistreatment of journalists seriously, as do all who take diplomacy seriously.”

    “We remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting journalists and guaranteeing equal justice under law for all,” he added after quoting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the importance of a free press.

    The two Australian reporters, Seven Network’s cameraman Tim Myers and reporter Amelia Brace, can be seen being smacked by police with a riot shield and baton as they cleared the area near the White House. Audiences in Australia watched live.

    “You heard us yelling there that we were media but they don’t care, they’re being indiscriminate at the moment,” Brace narrated on the live feed.

    The two were later hit by rubber bullets and tear gas, per the Sydney Morning Herald.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly ordered the embassy to look into the episode, and to express Australia’s strong concerns to local authorities.

    Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called the attack “unacceptable.”

    The two reporters were swept up in one of the most startling onslaughts of law enforcement aggression Monday, as officers violently cleared the square in front of Lafayette Park before D.C.’s 7 p.m. curfew began.

    […] Trump had ordered the protesters be removed so he could take a picture in front of the historic St. John’s Church. The Church’s basement had been mildly burned on Sunday, though the blaze was extinguished before it spread to other parts of the building.

    Videos available at the link.

  29. says

    Esper, Milley claim they didn’t know Trump was attacking Americans for their ‘walk’

    Sound like bullshit to me.

    A “senior” Defense Department official has been eagerly telling multiple reporters that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley were “unaware” that peacefully demonstrating Americans were being attacked by police and military forces to clear a path for a Trump photo-op that both of them took part in only minutes later. It is an obvious, brazen lie from both Esper and Milley.

    We know it is a lie. They know it is a lie. The whole nation watched, on television, and can confirm that they are lying. Both were fully complicit in Trump’s act.

    Notable: Even as Esper and Milley deny involvement, AG Barr releases a statement explicitly thanking them by name for “their support” in his actions.

    According to reporter Nick Schifrin, Esper and Milley’s “understanding was they were walking out of the White House to walk through Lafayette Park to review efforts to quell the protests.”

    The further claim: “They were not aware that the park police and law enforcement had made a decision to clear the square. … Once they walked out, they continued with him.”

    Reporter Paul Shinkman, speaking with the same or a different “senior” anonymous defense official, reports both were summoned to the White House while en route to the FBI to “work with the director and AG.” (But the attorney general, however, was himself heading to the White House at the same time.) As their White House meeting with Trump concluded, “the president indicated an interest in viewing the troops that were outside. And the secretary and chairman went with him to do so.”

    This is so obvious and brazen a lie from the Defense Department that it defies words. Esper and Milley were with Trump, in the White House. At the precise time Trump’s Rose Garden speech was intended to start (presumably, a horrific White House tactic to ensure live television coverage), flash-bang grenades were detonated directly next to the White House, rattling reporters waiting in the Rose Garden. Smoke rose from the area.

    We are expected to believer that neither of the two military men noticed or were alarmed by explosions going off, repeatedly, immediately next to the White House. That they had no awareness that an action was taking place directly adjacent to the building. That they thought nothing of it.

    After fifteen minutes of explosions, smoke, and advancing riot-gear clad police and soldiers, Trump stepped out for a brief teleprompter-based speech that concluded with the announcement that he would be walking to the church that had just been cleared of worshippers, through the park that had just been cleared with flash-bang grenades.

    And both Esper and Milley accompanied him as he walked through that park, smoke still in the air, and did not make the connection that the numerous explosions rattling the area and the military force surrounding the area were unconnected with Trump’s announced walk.

    Bullshit. There is lying, and then there is lying, and this is absolute nonsensical bullshit from Esper and Milley. It is lying propaganda.

    It is the claims of two sniveling cowards who took part in an illegal act against American citizens.

    There is no plausible way that Esper and Milley both did not know, with absolute certainly, that the White House had just used force to clear the path Trump walked. It is impossible. And yet they walked beside him.

    […] For lying about it, they are propagandists and cowards.

    From Hunter Walker:

    This is like doubly Orwellian because I was gassed. These people are literally asking me not to believe what my eyes saw and felt. It’s actual teargaslighting.

  30. says

    Followup to comment 35.

    From Wonkette: “Trump Pentagon Goons Shocked To Find Selves Covered In Sh*t After Lying Down With Trump”

    Oh bless their hearts! The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of Defense have awakened surprised that what happens when you lay down in the bunker with Donald Trump is you get covered in shit. […]

    Gen. Mark Milley, who walked along as the feds tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park so Donald Trump could desecrate the Lord’s house with an upside down Bible, and who allowed Trump to tell governors he was “in charge” of some new program where the military would attack the American people, is just trying to clarify!

    Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who also gladly walked with Trump, after earlier that day on that same governors’ call referring to the streets of America, full of America’s peaceful citizens, as a “battlespace” to “dominate,” is just having a Susan Collins moment over here, oh bless this mess! That’s not what he meant to do at all! […]

    They didn’t know they were going to tear gas those people! What are they, the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs on the day Trump declared war on the American people or something? How could they possibly have seen that coming?

    They thought maybe they would walk to Lafayette Park with Trump, to talk about how to “quell” the protests there, even though there was nothing to “quell,” since MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake and everybody else on the scene have confirmed they were 100 percent peaceful all goddamned day.

    They thought Trump just wanted to “view the troops.” So they went with him! Oh fiddlesticks, they never guessed what was going to happen next!

    And when Mark Milley gallivanted around later on like some kind of G.I. Joe-wannabe motherfucker … […] [Video at the link]


  31. tomh says

    Barr personally asked for protesters to be pushed back from D.C. park just before Trump spoke

    Attorney General William P. Barr ordered law enforcement officials on the ground to extend the perimeter around Lafayette Square, which is adjacent to the White House, just before President Trump spoke Monday, a Justice Department official said.

    According to two federal law enforcement officials, the decision had been made late Sunday night or early Monday morning to extend the perimeter around Lafayette Square by one block. The plan was to be executed, according to the Justice Department official, the following afternoon. Barr was a part of the decision making process, the official said.

    The Justice Department official said that in the afternoon, Barr went to survey the scene, and found the perimeter had not been extended. The attorney general conferred with law enforcement officials on the ground — which the official said is captured in a video of the incident.

    “He conferred with them to check on the status, and basically said, ‘This needs to be done. Get it done,’ ” the Justice Department official said.

    Police soon moved on the protesters, pushing them back with riot shields and horses. The group had been peaceful.

    The official said Barr “assumed that any resistance from the protesters of being moved would be met with typical crowd control measures.” The official said Barr had been told on the scene there were reports of the crowd passing rocks among themselves, and a bottle had been thrown in his direction — though the Washington Post did not observe that.

    The official defended Barr’s decision. “This plan was happening, regardless of any plans of the president,” the official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak ahead of Barr addressing the matter himself publicly.

    By Matt Zapotosky

  32. says

    From Representative Val Demings:

    When we impeached this president, we warned that he was a dictator in waiting.

    I believe now what I believed then: this president is a threat to our democracy, our families, and to us.

  33. says

    More on the way Trump uses religion:

    In the fall, facing an impeachment crisis, Donald Trump turned to religion. [He] called into a Fox News program in October to insist there’s a Christian revival underway in the United States, and it was the result of “everybody” knowing that “the Russian witch hunt was a faux, phony fraud. And we got rid of that. And then they came up with this Ukrainian story that was made up by Adam Schiff.”

    Why would White House scandals lead to a Christian revival? No one had any idea, but [Trump] insisted this made sense.

    More recently, with polls showing Trump losing support among key religious groups, the president held a hastily thrown together White House event in which he declared houses of worship “essential” during the pandemic crisis. The president added that he’d override governors that kept houses of worship closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    […] this was meaningless theater. It’s not up to Trump to decide who and what is deemed “essential” at the state level, and he lacked the authority to mandate open religious services.

    [Trump] apparently sees matters of faith as a political life-preserver. There was more evidence of this today.

    […] Trump toured a Catholic shrine on Tuesday in his second straight religious-themed appearance as the nation grappled with widespread unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Critics said the president was misusing religious symbols for partisan purposes. The White House said Trump and first lady Melania Trump were observing a “moment of remembrance,” laying a wreath in a quiet visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.

    […] Evidently, [Trump] is of the opinion that he’ll politically persevere so long as he effectively says, “The health, economic, and social crises may look catastrophic, but don’t worry, I’m religious.”

    Part of the problem with this is that Trump is almost certainly not religious. As is well known, [Trump] — a thrice-married former casino owner — claimed to go to a New York church that rarely saw him. Asked if he’s ever asked God for forgiveness, he said, “I don’t think so.” Asked whether he’s drawn more to the New or Old Testaments, Trump replied, “Both.”

    And, of course, there was the whole “Two Corinthians” incident.

    […] Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in a statement this morning, “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree.” […]


  34. says

    Right-Wing Commentariat Cheers Trump’s ‘Domination’ Strategy Against Protesters

    […] To Trump’s supporters, Monday’s show was a victory that followed on days of calls for a militaristic approach to the protests.

    “Hard to imagine any other @POTUS having the guts to walk out of the White House like this: @realDonaldTrump,” former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker swooned. [JFC!]

    “If they were peaceful protesters, there would be no need to use teargas,” the conservative columnist Marc Thiessen said on Fox News. “It means they resisted.” [Aiyiyiy! Lies.]

    […] “Suddenly #Antifa and #BlackLivesMatter aren’t so tough because, instead of storekeepers and little old ladies, the cavalry showed up,” Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author, wrote under a picture of a helicopter laden with soldiers. “Paramilitary, meet the US military!” [Dinesh fucking D’Souza!]

    […] In the National Review on Tuesday, after the smoke cleared, editor Rich Lowery called for “overwhelming force” to deal with protesters across the country.

    That matched a similar call from the pundit Buck Sexton on Saturday. “This isn’t going to stop until the good guys are willing to use overwhelming force against the bad guys,” he wrote.

    […] politicians and pundits took the opportunity to expound on some of their fantasies about military-style attack on the American left.

    Noah Pollack, a contributor at The Washington Free Beacon, envisioned orange-jumpsuited antifa prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. “We did it with Al-Qaeda terrorists,” he reasoned.

    And in a post that has since been removed from Twitter, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) salivated at the idea. “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?”

    Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), meanwhile, suggested there ought to be “no quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters,” once U.S. military forces took to the streets.

    The military term “no quarter,” put simply, would mean killing those arrested rather than affording them due process or even capturing them alive; Cotton later backtracked, citing other examples of writers using the phrase metaphorically. […]

    “If local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division,” he wrote.

    The President was appreciative.

    “100% Correct,” he responded. “Thank you Tom!”

  35. says

    Just as many National Guard members deployed in America as troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria

    Protestors advocating for justice after a white cop kneeled on the neck of an unarmed Black man for more than eight minutes have been met with unreasonable force. Many of them are taking to the streets in memory of George Floyd, the man who died in police custody last Monday, have been ironically and ruthlessly targeted by law enforcement with tear gas and rubber bullets. In part responding to violence distracting from the protest movement, more than 17,000 National Guard members have been deployed in 23 states, according to CNN. That’s about the same number of active-duty troops deployed in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, the news network reported.

    Still, proclaiming himself the “president of law and order,” President Donald Trump has urged local officials to use more force in responding to protests and even bragged about a willingness to meet protestors breaching the White House fence with “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons.” […]

    From D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser:

    I imposed a curfew at 7pm. A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful! DC residents — Go home. Be safe.

    From Rebecca Cardenas:

    In a powerful moment, The Tennessee National Guard lays down their shields at a protest that has made its way up the steps of the Tennessee Capitol.
    Photo at the link. Powerful indeed.

  36. says

    Katy Tur on MSNBC is reporting that as the huge crowds of protesters march through New York streets, people are coming out on their balconies to cheer them on. The healthcare workers at Memorial Sloan Kettering also came out to applaud the demonstrators (video here).

    Also, “Thousands defied a police ban and converged on the main Paris courthouse to show solidarity with U.S. demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd.” Photo atl. As several responses point out, the protests are mainly about Adama Traoré.

    BBC – “Adama Traoré: French anti-racism protests defy police ban”:

    Thousands of people have joined protests in France over the 2016 death of a black man in police custody, defying police orders not to assemble due to coronavirus restrictions.

    The death of Adama Traoré, 24, has been likened to the killing of George Floyd in the US, whose death has sparked protests across the country.

    Police clashed with protesters in the Paris suburbs on Tuesday.

    The Paris police chief has rejected charges of racism against his force.

    About 20,000 people defied the order on mass gatherings to join the protest. Initially peaceful, the march turned violent, with stones thrown at police and tear gas fired back.

    There were also demonstrations in other cities, including Marseille, Lyon and Lille. Some of the demonstrators carried Black Lives Matter placards – the movement that began in the US and has spread internationally.

    Mr Traoré died in a police station after being apprehended by officers in the Paris suburbs and losing consciousness in their vehicle.

    One of the officers told investigators that he and two colleagues pinned down Mr Traoré using their bodyweight.

    Official reports indicate he died of heart failure, possibly due to an underlying health condition. Last Thursday, the officers who detained Mr Traoré were exonerated by a police investigation.

    Following his death in 2016, violent protests were seen in Paris for several days.

    His case has become a rallying cry against police brutality in France, which young ethnic minority communities say targets them.

    On Tuesday campaigners defied authorities, after their request for permission to protest was denied by police.

    Public gatherings are limited to 10 people to control the spread of coronavirus.

    Video showed police firing tear gas at crowds in Paris, as well as several fires and blocked roads.

    “Today we are not just talking about the fight of the Traoré family. It is the fight for everyone. When we fight for George Floyd, we fight for Adama Traoré,” his sister, Assa, told the protest, according to AFP.

    Paris police chief Didier Lallement defended his force against allegations of brutality and racism.

    In a letter to police officers, he said he sympathised with the “pain” they must feel “faced with accusations of violence and racism, repeated endlessly by social networks and certain activist groups”.

    Meanwhile, Capitol Police in riot gear greeted with boos.

  37. tomh says

    McConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump’s actions against peaceful protesters

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked a resolution introduced by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday that would have condemned the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters outside the White House on Monday in order to allow President Trump to walk to St. John’s Church…

    “It’s very simple why the Republican leader objected to our resolution and offered this one instead,” Schumer said, after objecting to a counter-resolution from McConnell that stripped out references to Trump. “It’s because they do not want to condemn what the president did, though every fair minded American of any political party would…”

  38. tomh says

    It’s been drowned out by current events, but for anyone following the Flynn case, Judge Sullivan’s defense to the Appeals Court of his decision not to immediately approve the Justice Department’s request to dismiss its criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn is here.

    CBS News has pulled out some of the highlights (from the 46 page brief.)

    …Flynn’s attorneys asked the federal appeals court to order Sullivan to grant the department’s request and dismiss the case. But Sullivan urged the appeals court to stay out of the case until he has a chance to study the dismissal request.

    Wilkinson argued the appeals court should not “short-circuit” Sullivan’s ability to review the case.

    “The question before this Court is whether it should short-circuit this process, forbid even a limited inquiry into the government’s motion, and order that motion granted,” she wrote. “The answer is no…”

    Wilkinson, in her brief pointed out the unusual circumstances of the Department’s position. “It is unprecedented for an Acting U.S. Attorney to contradict the solemn representations that career prosecutors made time and again, and undermine the district court’s legal and factual findings, in moving on his own to dismiss the charge years after two different federal judges accepted the defendant’s plea,” she wrote.

    The brief also noted that the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss was not signed by any of the career prosecutors involved in the case, and that it cited “minimal legal authority” for some of it its positions.

    Though Sullivan may end up granting the Justice Department’s motion, he was duty-bound to seriously consider the significant legal issues that the case raised, the brief said.

  39. John Morales says

    Australian satirical site:

    Fed up with the growing violence in their streets, many Republican voters are wishing the George Floyd rioters could follow the lead of coronavirus lockdown protesters, who peacefully stormed the Michigan statehouse with semi-automatic rifles last month.
    One of the participants from last month’s anti-lockdown rallies said the most respectful thing was to start a dialogue. “That’s what we did. We went right up to our elected officials – within an inch or so of their face – and courteously shouted very loudly and very clearly what we wanted. That’s how to do it.

  40. johnson catman says

    re SC @43 and @48 and tomh @53: Instead of de-escalating the situations, the police in these (and many other) instances are escalating and exacerbating confrontations. It is their authoritarian mindset, and it the root of the problem. Until the police actually begin to do the job of serving and protecting the general public instead of rich white people, the problem will not begin to move towards a solution.

  41. johnson catman says

    re John Morales @55: The contrast between the treatment of those “protesters” and the protesters in the last week is stark, and anyone who fails to see and acknowledge the difference is being willfully ignorant. I think that if the protesters in the last week had tried to mimic the actions of the earlier “protesters” by carrying weapons, there would have been a lot of dead people.

  42. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    “In a powerful moment, The Tennessee National Guard lays down their shields at a protest that has made its way up the steps of the Tennessee Capitol.”

    Nice to see there were some real heroes in uniform at this moment.

  43. blf says

    And back to the pandemic, Governments and WHO changed Covid-19 policy based on suspect data from tiny US company:

    Surgisphere, whose employees appear to include a sci-fi writer and adult content model, provided database behind Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine hydroxychloroquine studies

    The World Health Organization and a number of national governments have changed their Covid-19 policies and treatments on the basis of flawed data from a little-known US healthcare analytics company, also calling into question the integrity of key studies published in some of the world’s most prestigious medical journals.

    A Guardian investigation can reveal the US-based company Surgisphere, whose handful of employees appear to include a science fiction writer and an adult-content model, has provided data for multiple studies on Covid-19 co-authored by its chief executive, but has so far failed to adequately explain its data or methodology.

    Data it claims to have legitimately obtained from more than a thousand hospitals worldwide formed the basis of scientific articles that have led to changes in Covid-19 treatment policies in Latin American countries. It was also behind a decision by the WHO and research institutes around the world to halt trials of the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine.

    Two of the world’s leading medical journals — the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine — published studies based on Surgisphere data. The studies were co-authored by the firm’s chief executive, Sapan Desai.

    Late on Tuesday, after being approached by the Guardian, the Lancet released an “expression of concern” about its published study. The New England Journal of Medicine has also issued a similar notice.

    An independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has now been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere because of “concerns that have been raised about the reliability of the database”.

    The Guardian’s investigation has found:

    ● A search of publicly available material suggests several of Surgisphere’s employees have little or no data or scientific background. An employee listed as a science editor appears to be a science fiction author and fantasy artist. Another employee listed as a marketing executive is an adult model and events hostess.

    ● The company’s LinkedIn page has fewer than 100 followers and last week listed just six employees. This was changed to three employees as of Wednesday.

    ● While Surgisphere claims to run one of the largest and fastest hospital databases in the world, it has almost no online presence. Its Twitter handle has fewer than 170 followers, with no posts between October 2017 and March 2020.

    ● Until Monday, the “get in touch” link on Surgisphere’s homepage redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, raising questions about how hospitals could easily contact the company to join its database.

    ● Desai has been named in three medical malpractice suits, unrelated to the Surgisphere database. In an interview with the Scientist, Desai previously described the allegations as unfounded.

    ● In 2008, Desai launched a crowdfunding campaign on the website indiegogo promoting a wearable next generation human augmentation device that can help you achieve what you never thought was possible. The device never came to fruition.

    ● Desai’s Wikipedia page has been deleted following questions about Surgisphere and his history.

    Questions surrounding Surgisphere have been growing in the medical community for the past few weeks.


    Many more details at the link, including waffling from quack Sapan Desai; e.g., There continues to be a fundamental misunderstanding about what our system is and how it works.

  44. blf says

    According to the Grauniad’s current States pandemic / politics live blog:

    Esper opposes using Insurrection Act to send military to states

    Mark Esper, the defense secretary, has said there is no grounds for invoking the Insurrection Act, which Trump has threatened to do.

    [According to ABC:]

    Defense Sec Esper: “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

    “The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now.”


  45. blf says

    Scientists alarmed as Trump embraces fringe views and extreme theories amid pandemic:

    Trump has a history of defying scientific findings but his actions during coronavirus have startled even his most vocal critics

    [… S]cientists have been struck by Trump’s embrace of fringe beliefs and extreme, unsupported theories. Suddenly, it is not the profit-driven lobbyists and lawyers that are the worry, it is the quacks, cranks and conspiracy theorists.

    “They have exceeded my imagination with their scientific denial,” said Gretchen Goldman, a research director at Union of Concerned Scientists. “Previous administrations at least gave the appearance of wanting scientific evidence and qualified people in positions of power. This administration clearly doesn’t care, which changes the game.”

    Trump himself has a long history of defying mainstream scientific findings on the existence of climate change and the efficacy of vaccines, but his actions during the coronavirus pandemic have startled even his most vocal critics.

    Congratulations to the Grauniad for explicitly noting hair furor’s anti-vax tendencies, an MSM-oversight Orac has been going on about since before Putin had hair furor “elected”.

    [… T]he administration has also increasingly shown willingness to ally itself with groups far more fringe than the standard class of lobbyist that inhabits Washington DC.

    The administration defended Trump’s use of hydroxychloroquine by pointing to supportive statements from the Association of Physicians and Surgeons, an outlier group that has questioned whether HIV causes Aids (it does), argued abortion causes breast cancer (it does not) and even alleged former president Barack Obama used hypnosis techniques to trick voters, especially Jewish people, into supporting him (there is no evidence of this).

    [… T]he Trump administration has aligned itself with an anti-abortion lobbying group called the Center for Family and Human Rights, helping spread its message to the UN, while Trump’s own spiritual adviser Paula White has said she hopes abortion laws are overturned, declaring on a video that emerged in January: We command any satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now!


    “This administration is antithetical to science, there is an ideological mandate to roll back regulations. Facts and logic doesn’t matter, even the law doesn’t matter,” said Chris Frey, a a professor of environmental engineering at NC State University.

    Frey was part of an EPA clean air advisory panel that was dismantled as part of a revamp that has seen agency panels filled with industry-aligned and fringe characters — including an official who has argued air pollution is good for public health — and the process of considering science rerouted to bypass a large body of research that links pollution to harm such as asthma and heart disease.

    “It will take years to undo the damage. This administration is honestly a threat to public health,” Frey said. […]

  46. blf says

    Albeit many of these images are from Paris, similar scenes were happening locally (modulo a smaller number of people due the local village not being a major city), Cafe culture returns to France after lockdown (pictures). There are similar stories / reports on France24 and other sites (it’s been 11 weeks since anything except take-away was possible).

  47. says

    From Evan McMullin:

    Trump gassed Americans for a photo op. What would he be willing to do to hold onto power?

    From Joe Biden:

    When 100,000 Americans died because of his incompetent leadership, this president golfed.

    When Americans peacefully protested outside the White House, this president tear-gassed them for a photo-op.

    Donald Trump was elected to serve us all — but he only looks out for himself.

  48. says

    Well, I finally broke. I started to contribute to this thread this morning, as usual, but I just kept bursting into tears. I had to take a break for a few hours.

    Now somewhat recovered.

    Let’s get on with it.

    Fallout from Trump’s Lafayette Square scandal continues to unfold

    “When the history of the Trump presidency is written, the clash at Lafayette Square may be remembered as one of its defining moments.”

    […] It was, by any fair measure, among the most ridiculous presidential photo-ops anyone has ever seen, at least in this country. A New York Times report noted this morning, “[W]hen the history of the Trump presidency is written, the clash at Lafayette Square may be remembered as one of its defining moments.”

    A senior White House official told Axios that when they saw the tear gas clearing the crowd for Trump to walk to the church with his entourage, “I’ve never been more ashamed. I’m really honestly disgusted. I’m sick to my stomach.” But in the next breath, that same official added, in reference to Team Trump’s reaction to the ugly display, “[T]hey’re all celebrating it. They’re very, very proud of themselves.” […]

    Yesterday, multiple Senate Republicans publicly expressed their discomfort with Team Trump and its heavy-handed tactics in Lafayette Square. Even Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), a prominent presidential ally, told Politico, “If your question is, ‘Should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo op?’ the answer is no.”

    […] the Pentagon chief [Defense Secretary Mark Esper, see blf’s comment 61] was willing to speak on the record about an ongoing controversy that he apparently wants no part of.

    Indeed, by Esper’s telling, he basically stumbled into an impromptu parade of Trump administration officials, walking to a church for no reason, through a park where peaceful protestors had just been removed by force.

    One of the first signs of trouble when a group of people know they’ve screwed up: those hoping to avoid blame start effectively saying, “Don’t blame me; I just work here.”

    House Democrats have begun demanding answers from relevant agencies about what transpired in Lafayette Square. Watch this space.

    Postscript: The White House apparently began arguing yesterday that the peaceful protestors in the park weren’t subjected to literal tear gas. Rather, the argument goes, security forces fired smoke canisters and “pepper balls.”

    On the flip side, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, according to CDC standards, that was tear gas. Second, when a presidential team wants to engage in a semantics debate over the subtle nuances of tear gas, it’s fighting a losing battle.

    Team Trump has effectively been reduced to arguing, “It’s not tear gas; it’s just a gas that generates tears. That’s totally different.” What the White House should be working on is an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

  49. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, (excerpted and summarized from text posted by Steve Benen):

    Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump 52% to 41%. In Monmouth polling, Biden led by three points in March, four points in April, nine points in May, and 11 points now.

    Biden hasn’t yet officially secured a majority of the available delegates, but he’s close, and he should become the presumptive nominee next week.

    Valarie Plame came up short in New Mexico in her Democratic congressional primary against Teresa Leger Fernandez.

    Voters in Ferguson, Mo., elected Ella Jones, a City Council member, as the city’s new mayor. She’ll be Ferguson’s first African-American and first woman mayor.

    Former officials from the Bush/Cheney administration have created a super PAC to help boost Biden’s 2020 campaign. It’s called 43 Alumni For Biden and it will be led in part by Karen Kirksey, a former Treasury Department official.

    Julian Castro is joining Biden’s team to help tackle police reform..

    PZ covered the fact that the racist, trumpian lickspittle, Steve King lost his primary. Also noted up-thread here in comment 58, etc.

  50. says

    blf @66, cartoonists often associate Trump with shit, with chamber pots, or with manure. Seems appropriate.

    In related news, the pushback against Trump’s use of the military, and his use of law enforcement is growing in intensity. Most of the pushback includes dismay over Trump’s stupid photo op at the church. From the New York Times:

    Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote on Twitter that “America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy.” Gen. Tony Thomas, the former head of the Special Operations Command, tweeted: “The ‘battle space’ of America??? Not what America needs to hear … ever, unless we are invaded by an adversary or experience a constitutional failure … ie a Civil War.”

    From Admiral Mike Mullen:

    Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.

    From James Miller, a former undersecretary of defense, who resigned in protest yesterday from a Pentagon board.

    Secretary Esper, you have served honorably for many years, in active and reserve military duty, as Secretary of the Army, and now as Secretary of Defense. You must have thought long and hard about where that line should be drawn. I must now ask: If [Monday] night’s blatant violations do not cross the line for you, what will?

  51. says

    The problem with Trump’s proof that he’s helped the black community

    Maybe Trump doesn’t realize that his Opportunity Zones policy has been exposed as a sham. Maybe he does realize it and hopes we won’t know the difference.

    On Twitter yesterday, Donald Trump insisted, in all seriousness, that his administration has “done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln.” [gag] The missive, which he pinned to the top of his Twitter timeline, suggested the president genuinely believes he can win over African-American voters, who polls show hold Trump in very low regard.

    […] Trump boasted, for example, that he “Passed Opportunity Zones” with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Congress’ only African-American Republican. The tweet came just two weeks after Trump and Scott hosted a White House event on Opportunity Zones as proof of his administration’s interest in economic development in inner cities.

    Apparently, Americans are supposed to believe Trump’s policy on Opportunity Zones has been a great success. It has not. The New York Times reported last summer that the policy, touted as a way to help poor communities, has become “a windfall for the rich.”

    […] Trump has portrayed America’s cities as wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by rats. But the Trump administration’s signature plan to lift them — a multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help low-income areas — has fueled a wave of developments financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans.

    New York’s Jon Chait added in March that Opportunity Zones are “a corrupt scam to enrich Trump’s cronies,” and the whole initiative “is, or should be, a massive scandal.”

    The provision, added to his 2018 tax cut, sounds appealing on the surface. It gives a capital gains tax cut to developers who build new projects in poor urban areas.

    The problem is that, even conceptually, the incentive is not going to drive investment in the poorest areas. Developers will look for the least-poor blocks that qualify for the tax cut and build there. In practice, the designation of which areas get the tax credit has been hopelessly (and predictably) abused, so that well-connected builders can go into already-gentrifying neighborhoods and get lucrative tax breaks for projects they wanted to build anyway, including Jaguar dealerships, pet spas, and other luxury playgrounds for the rich.

    […] Maybe Trump doesn’t realize that his Opportunity Zones policy has been exposed as a sham. Maybe he does realize it and hopes the public won’t know the difference.

    Either way, he appears to be proving the opposite of his intended point.

    Jaguar dealerships!

  52. blf says

    Oh good grief, He wears the armor of God: evangelicals hail Trump’s church photo op:

    The president’s [sic] appeal to his base amid protests was derided by some Christians. Others saw a victory in a world of evil

    [… M]any of Trump’s evangelical supporters, far from Washington’s political stage, saw the move as a victory in a world rife with evil.

    My whole family was flabbergasted, said Benjamin Horbowy […].

    The Horbowys had gathered in Tallahassee, Florida, to watch live as Trump walked from the White House to St John’s. My mother just shouted out, ‘God give him strength! He’s doing a Jericho walk!’

    A Jericho walk, in some evangelical circles, refers to the biblical book of Joshua, where God [sic] commanded the Israelites to walk seven times around the opposing city of Jericho, whose walls then came crashing down.

    [… He babbled on,] I thought, look at my president! He’s establishing the Lord’s kingdom in the world.

    Did he feel that conflicted with the Gospel of John, where Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world”?

    Well, Horbowy said, that’s a philosophical question.

    After watching Trump’s gesture, Horbowy changed his Facebook profile photo to one of Trump outside St John’s, with added rays of light emanating from the Bible. It was the coolest thing he could do. What more could he do, wear blue jeans and ride in on a horse? he said. [facepalms so hard the nearby pub momentarily goes quiet –blf]

    [… These death cult nazi nutcases] power and worldview is a culmination of trends that started decades ago, according to John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College and himself an evangelical Christian. “It’s rooted in fear,” he said.

    In the 1980s, Fea said, several forces converged to alarm white Christians: a removal of official prayer and Bible readings from schools, an influx of immigrants from Asia and the Middle East, and the final desegregation of schools like Bob Jones University.

    “So came the emergence of the Christian right,” Fea said.

    Figures like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson started wielding political influence in a new way, followed today by a new generation that includes Franklin Graham and the Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s leading evangelical defenders.


    Jeffress sees no conflict between Trump’s behavior and the Bible he held up on Monday evening. You mean, does he pretend to be perfectly pious? he said. No.

    Fea calls faith leaders like Jeffress “court evangelicals”.

    “Trump has these people around him,” Fea said. “They’re telling him, ‘You need to get your evangelical base on board.

    People once concerned with piety, Fea said, now crave “an exercise in pure political power”, and the Bible is no longer a spiritual weapon but an earthly one.

    When Trump describes himself as a law and order president [sic] and holds aloft a Bible, he conflates which law he will enforce, and whose order will follow. In a short speech before the walk to St John’s, Trump said he would dominate the streets. That is the kingdom in the world Horbowy referenced.

    I believe it’s like Ephesians 6:10 through 19, Horbowy said from Florida. I believe this is a president who wears the full armor of God.

    But one of those verses — verse 12 — says explicitly that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood”, but against spiritual enemies.

    Well, Horbowy said. He’s fearless.

  53. says

    U.S. intelligence officials are worried about the trends they are seeing in the USA.

    From the Washington Post:

    […] The scenes have been disturbingly familiar to CIA analysts accustomed to monitoring scenes of societal unraveling abroad — the massing of protesters, the ensuing crackdowns and the awkwardly staged displays of strength by a leader determined to project authority. In interviews and posts on social media in recent days, current and former U.S. intelligence officials have expressed dismay at the similarity between events at home and the signs of decline or democratic regression they were trained to detect in other nations. […]

    From King University professor Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst:

    I’ve seen this kind of violence…. This is what autocrats do. This is what happens in countries before a collapse. It really does unnerve me.

    From Marc Polymeropoulos, who formerly ran CIA operations in Europe and Asia:

    It reminded me of what I reported on for years in the third world.

    More from the Washington Post:

    Former intelligence officials said the unrest and the administration’s militaristic response are among many measures of decay they would flag if writing assessments about the United States for another country’s intelligence service.

  54. blf says

    Follow-up to @70, The Power Worshippers: A look inside the American religious right:

    An insight into the history and present of Christian nationalism, the movement behind Donald Trump’s religious support.


    The secret to making sense of them is simply stated in the title of Katherine Stewart’s new book: The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. It draws on more than a decade of first-hand experience and front-line reporting that began when her daughter’s public elementary school was targeted to house a fundamentalist Bible club.

    “The purpose of the club was to convince children as young as five that they would burn for an eternity if they failed to conform to a strict interpretation of the Christian faith,” she recalls.

    The struggle to stop them, and what she learned in the process about the broader plan to undermine public education and make way for sectarian religious education, led to her 2012 book, The Good News Club.


    She argues [the xian nationalist “movement”] is not premodern, as both adherents and critics commonly assume.

    It is, in fact, modern in its methods and doctrines, which “notwithstanding their purported origins in ancient texts have been carefully shaped to serve the emotional needs of its adherents, the organisational needs of its clerical leaders, and the political needs and ambitions of its funders”.


    Al Jazeera: How have the doctrines been shaped to meet the needs of the movement’s clerical leaders?

    Stewart: Fundamentally the doctrines of religious nationalism reinforce authority — of scripture, of course, but also the authority of religious and political leaders.

    This is what religious nationalism does around the world. Their doctrines make an absolute virtue out of obedience to a literalist or strict interpretation of their religion.

    This is very handy both for the clerics and the politicians and elites that they serve, as it reinforces their authority, power and privilege.

    Al Jazeera: Who funds the movement, and how have the doctrines been shaped to meet their needs?

    Stewart: The movement has multiple sources of funding, including small-dollar donors, various types of public subsidy and funding, and affluent donors.

    Many of those affluent donors belong to super-wealthy hyperextended families. So it is not surprising that many of the doctrines the movement favours are about money. They say the Bible and God oppose progressive income taxes, capital gains taxes and minimum wage laws. That the Bible favours low taxes for the rich and minimal rights for the workforce. They argue that environmental regulation, regulation of businesses, and public funding of the social safety net are “unbiblical” or “against the biblical model”.

    [… L]eaders of this movement have thrown in their lot with a bunch of selfish economic reactionaries who tell us we don’t owe anybody anything.

    These doctrines, of course, preserve plutocratic, often nepotistic fortunes. This is why religious nationalism often goes hand in hand with authoritarianism, which around the world frequently exploits religious nationalism to suppress dissent and keep the disempowered members of their societies in a subordinate position.


    Al Jazeera: What is most important for people to know about these origins of the Christian nationalist movement?

    Stewart: Pro-slavery theologians, like Christian nationalist thought leaders today, were intensely hostile to the principle of equality, plurality and critical thinking. They endorsed an austere biblical literalism and rigid hierarchies, which they asserted were ordained by God.

    The idea the US is a Christian nation, chosen by God; that it should be an orthodox Christian republic; that women should be subordinate to men; that at some point America deviated horribly from its mission and fell under the control of atheist and/or liberal elites — these ideas are still at the heart of Christian nationalism today.


  55. says

    Donald Trump has built his wall between the people and the people’s house

    n 1967, nearly 100,000 people gathered around the White House to protest the Vietnam War. In 1969, an estimated 500,000 people surrounded the White House and spilled out for blocks in every direction in a moratorium to end that war. Neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon much enjoyed being at the center of mass of a huge number of protesters—and Nixon responded by giving his “Silent Majority” speech, a phrase that Donald Trump repeated on Monday. But one thing that neither man did was to wall themselves off from America and bring into the city an army of unidentified paramilitary forces.

    Donald Trump has built his wall. He built it between the people and the people’s house. And on Wednesday, he expanded the perimeter of his wall again as militia without badges, identifications of service, or name tags of any sort steal more square miles of public space from the public and claim it for the Bunker King.

    […] After stealing Lafayette Square from the people and surrounding the White House with a brand new 8’ high wall, Trump on Wednesday had his nameless, badgeless goons push back the line another half block in all directions.

    Trump is not just denying the people their right to petition for grievances at the White House, he has absconded with parks, streets, and private businesses to create his expanded bunker. And he has peopled his bunker with a mercenary force of people who refuse to provide any information on their identity, the source of their authority, or their supervisors.

    […] Americans have been pushed away from a public park. Priests have been driven from their church. The Lincoln Memorial has been occupied by an armed and armored company that appears to have no master but Trump.

    These people are not the Park Service, they are not regular military, they are not National Guard. So … who are they? Are they guards from the bureau of prisons sent out to treat the public like criminals? Are they private mercenaries courtesy of Betsy DeVos’ family? Are they Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which Trump has seemed to groom for this moment? Are any of them, in any way, trained for dealing with civilians?

    What are their standing orders? Under what authority are they operating? How can any of them be held accountable when they are wearing no identification whatsoever? What level of force are they allowed to use against the unarmed public? […]
    This isn’t a question of security, this is a reverse coup.

  56. says

    Evidence mounts of far-right extremists at police protests around the nation

    Good photo of “Boogaloo Boi” at the link. The guy was in Kansas City.

    Donald Trump may not want to believe it, but the evidence is beginning to mount around the nation that white supremacists and assorted far-right “Boogaloo Bois” are working overtime to leverage protests around the United States […] not to merely join the protests, but to both inflict violence and property damage, as well as to threaten other communities with it, all in order to heighten political tensions around the protests.

    The tactics vary: Some are showing up disguised as anarchists or sympathizers, while some are arriving fully armed, in camo and body armor, with the Hawaiian shirts signifying the far-right “Boogaloo” civil-war movement. Others are simply spreading false information on the Internet by posing as antifa and telling smaller suburban and exurban communities that hordes of ravening anarchists are about to descend on their communities and break all their windows—sending those communities into fits of paranoid overreaction.

    Trump has been insistent that the violence in the streets has primarily been the work of antifa, while denying the presence of far-right extremists: “I don’t see any indication that there were any white supremest groups mixing in. This is an ANTIFA Organization,” he tweeted on Monday.

    In fact, there is abundant evidence that, as The New York Times’ Neil McFarquar observed, the mix at the protests has involved a broad range of actors. And so far, according to The Nation, the FBI has found no indication of organized antifascist involvement in the protest violence.

    […] “We know for a fact there have been far-right agitators both online and at these rallies, as well as far-left.”

    Not only are white supremacists involved in the violence and property damage at the protests, but it’s clear that they are working multiple strategies to leverage the chaos into what they hope will be a democracy-destroying race and civil war. The tactics so far include:

    Dressing up in clothing typically worn by antifascist demonstrators, mainly the all-black clothing and masks worn by so-called “black bloc” activists. This has been observed both in Portland and in Seattle, where well-known far-right “Proud Boy” street brawlers have been spotted and reported on social media.

    Turning up at protest demonstrations fully armed with body armor, often wearing the Hawaiian shirts that signify participation in the “Boogaloo” civil-war movement, and claiming to be sympathetic to the anti-police protesters […] The most notorious case occurred in Denver, Colorado, where a “Boogaloo Boi” was arrested by police at a protest with a large arsenal in the trunk of his car.

    Pretending to be antifascists or anarchists on the Internet, primarily with the purpose of duping the public into believing that antifascists were on the verge of attacking communities. One fake flier, spread around Olympia, Washington, offered people $200 to act as “paid protesters,” all of it ostensibly paid for by George Soros and the Open Society Foundation. The most glaring hoax was a Twitter account calling itself “ANTIFA US” […] The account was taken down after Twitter ascertained it was associated with activists involved in the white-nationalist Identity Evropa organization. Despite being a fairly obvious hoax, it nonetheless duped Donald Trump Jr. into repeating the post on Instagram with a message supporting his father’s attempts to blame antifascists for the violence.

    […] In Idaho, rumors spread by the militia group Real Three Percenters of Idaho on Facebook claimed that antifascists were being bused into Boise and neighboring counties to ransack local businesses. […]

    No such plans existed, however. I[…]

    The most disturbing scene, however, may have occurred in Snohomish, Washington, a suburb about 30 miles outside Seattle, where similar rumors grew so thick that a large contingent of heavily armed “Patriot” militiamen showed up on the streets of the town, ready and eager to defend local businesses from marauding antifascists. As the scene grew rowdier, Confederate flags began to show up. Proud Boys also made their presence known, flashing white-power “OK” hand signals and wearing body armor. […]

    In Cleveland, officials say they have evidence white supremacists were involved in protest violence there Saturday, and will be investigating it closely. […]

    In Minneapolis, meanwhile, three young white men wearing masks were filmed savagely beating two nonwhite protesters who had followed them while they committed property crimes, and then asked them where they were from. The men, one of them with a machete, rushed their interlocutors, beat them with fists and a pole, and left them huddled on the sidewalk.

    […] On at least one Telegram channel, neo-Nazis could be found urging their comrades to attend protests and then shoot into the crowds.

    […] is part of the right’s long tradition of justifying violence against “the left” by painting it as inherently violent itself.

    That narrative was trotted out for prime time on Fox News Tuesday night on Tucker Carlson’s program, when he claimed that in the riots’ aftermath, law enforcement will wither, and “violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them.”

    Ironically, that happens to be exactly the scenario that far-right “Boogaloo Bois” have in mind for their post-civil-war political landscape. Projection isn’t just for theaters.

    […] “The ‘violent left’ narrative is dangerous not only because it heightens already raised suspicions, but also because it can be used to delegitimize genuine political activism and justify right-wing acts of violence and even terrorism.”

  57. says

    FBI found no evidence that antifa was involved in violence, and of course Trump ignored them

    […] Just before Trump issued that tweet about designating antifa as a terrorist organization, the FBI told him there was “no intelligence” to indicate that antifa was involved, or even present, at incidents of violence.

    […[ the FBI’s Washington office prepared the briefing for Trump earlier on that same day. Using agents on the ground, online resources, informants, and every other tool the FBI could leverage. Their finding was that antifa was not behind incidents of violence and looting. The situation report ran through a list of such incidents, including those such as throwing bricks or destruction of property, which had featured predominantly on the news. None of the results found any evidence of antifa involvement.

    […] with this information on his desk, Trump made his Twitter announcement that the group—which doesn’t even exist as an actual organization—was to be designated as terrorists.

    […] Trump has tweeted about antifa six times in the last five days, including an additional claim that would be named a “terrorist organization.” And while the FBI report was on his desk, and mayors and governors on the ground were telling Trump exactly who was to blame, he instead went with a quote from Fox News to say “I don’t see any indication that there were any white supremest groups mixing in. This is an ANTIFA Organization.” And yes, he said “supremest.” […] It also shows how far Trump will go to defend the very fine white supremacists who have been his vocal supporters.

    As Wired has noted, antifa doesn’t just serve as an all-purpose left-wing boogeyman, it’s also convenient cover for Republicans. Why hasn’t the government acted against far-right militias who threaten citizens, invade state houses, and wave semi-automatic rifles in the face of officials? Why not go after genuine torch-waving Nazis? Well … look over there, it’s antifa!

    Antifa isn’t a vast, shadowy organization. It’s certainly not a “major terrorist organization.” It’s not even an organization. But it is a scapegoat. A man who takes responsibility for nothing at all needs a whole herd of those.

  58. Paul K says

    New charges have been brought against all four criminal cops. I haven’t placed a link here for so long that I’ve forgotten how, but it’s all over, and you’re all probably already aware, but, hey, I’m happy to share it! This tragedy happened in the congressional district I lived in for twenty years, once represented by Keith Ellison, and now Ilhan Omar.

  59. says

    Here’s a link to the June 3 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    Also in the Guardian, “Business secretary tested for Covid-19 after feeling ill during Commons speech”:

    Alok Sharma, the business secretary, has been tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell while delivering a statement in the House of Commons.

    The cabinet minister has gone home to self-isolate following his appearance at the dispatch box earlier on Wednesday….

    From the liveblog:

    The parliamentary authorities are understood to have given the area a deep clean and MPs were at the time sitting at least 2 metres apart. “This was done as a precaution,” a House of Commons source said.

    However, Sharma’s suspected illness is likely to cause concern about the government’s decision to bring back parliament in its physical form, after weeks of allowing MPs to attend remotely via video link.

    Many MPs have protested against the new arrangements, which have seen them queuing around the parliamentary estate while complying with the 2-metre physical distancing rules in order to vote.

    Observers noticed that Sharma appeared unwell and to be sweating profusely while he spoke about the corporate insolvency and governance bill in the Commons.

  60. says

    Nancy Pelosi joined the protestors in Washington D.C.

    JSpeaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday joined a crowd of demonstrators outside the Capitol protesting police brutality toward black Americans following the death of George Floyd […]

    Pelosi wore a mask and was accompanied by her usual entourage of staff and members of her security detail while walking through the crowd, which a spokesman confirmed was on the Capitol’s east front.. […]


    Video available at the link.

    I guess Nancy Pelosi didn’t need an order from William Barr to have law enforcement clear a path for her.

  61. says

    From yesterday’s G liveblog (linked @ #14 above):

    A record 1,262 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Brazil today – taking the country’s total death toll to 31,199 – but the president continues to downplay the pandemic.

    The figures were announced on Tuesday evening by Brazil’s health ministry, which also said the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 555,383, second only to the United States.

    The South American country is now on the verge of overtaking Italy, where 33,530 deaths have been recorded, as the country with the third highest number of deaths.

    But Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has dismissed Covid-19 as a “little flu”, again brushed off the tragedy on Tuesday.

    “I regret each of the deaths – but that’s everyone’s destiny,” Bolsonaro told supporters outside his palace in the capital Brasília.

    Brazil’s most populous state, São Paulo, registered a record number of deaths on Tuesday taking the total number of fatalities there to nearly 8,000. Rio de Janeiro has Brazil’s second highest death toll with 5,686 deaths, followed by the northeastern state of Ceará where 3,421 people have died.

    For all Bolsonaro’s dismissiveness, scientists and medical experts believe the situation is dire and likely to get worse. “Not even in our most dreadful nightmare could we have imagined the situation we are now in,” Drauzio Varella, a doctor and broadcaster, wrote in one of Brazil’s top newspapers last week.

    For the last two months, Keir Starmer has been cautious about criticising the UK government’s coronavirus response.

    The opposition leader has preferred to be forensic rather than furious, accepting that ministers have a difficult job.

    But it appears that his patience has finally run out.

    The calamitous events of the past week, from the Dominic Cummings affair to the mixed messages over the easing of the lockdown, has changed the mood of the new Labour leader. He has a tougher message now.

    I am putting the prime minister on notice that he has got to get a grip and restore public confidence in the government’s handling of the epidemic.

    If we see a sharp rise in the R rate, the infection rate, or a swath of local lockdowns, responsibility for that falls squarely at the door of No 10. We all know the public have made huge sacrifices. This mismanagement of the last few weeks is the responsibility of the government.

  62. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Starting To Doubt SecDef Mark Esper’s Commitment To Fascist Bible Gassing”

    […] We noted that he [Esper] said, out loud, that Trump should not invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 in order to attack American citizens with “Army” on American soil.

    […] now we’re getting reports that Trump is BIG MAD.

    […] Did you know he [Esper] said — out loud with his mouth! — that all the officers who helped kill George Floyd should be “held accountable”? And not only that:

    “With great sympathy, I want to extend the deepest of condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd, for me and the department,” Esper said during a Pentagon briefing. “Racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it.” […]

    “What happened to George Floyd happens way too often in this country. And most times, we don’t speak about these matters as a department, but as events have unfolded over the past few days, it became very clear that this is becoming a very combustible national issue.”

    […] And now, CNN is reporting that the White House was like “WHAT?” to all of this, just like “WHAT?” That does not sound like a solid commitment to Racist Sparkle Motion Fascist Bible Gassing! […]

    A senior Republican source told CNN that there has been ongoing tension involving Esper and that Trump has no respect for his defense chief. […]

    A US official close to Esper and familiar with White House thinking said the secretary is being “skewered” by those inside the White House for coming out Wednesday to express his views. […]

    Funny how this keeps happening with pretty much every Cabinet secretary in the Trump administration except the woman who married Mitch McConnell on purpose and not on a dare. Anyway, we were just remembering the resignation letter from Trump’s last confirmed secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, where Mattis did everything but call Trump an unhinged piece of shit. (All the Defense secretaries between Mattis and Esper were “acting,” obviously.)

    […] Trump and other top officials, including national security adviser Robert O’Brien, are “not happy” with Esper after his Wednesday remarks, three people familiar with the White House’s thinking said. […]

    […] what kind of secretary of Defense is he, anyway? Doesn’t support attacking the American people with tanks, probably doesn’t even subscribe to Tomi Lahren’s Racist Quote Of The Day inspirational email list.***

    […] But again, things had been going poorly even before this. Trump apparently bitched and moaned about Esper for a whole long time at Camp David recently, and reportedly “both Trump and O’Brien [view] Esper as not entirely committed to the President’s vision for the military.” You know, the one where Trump gets to HEREBY ORDER the military to do fascist take-overs while he does photo ops […]

    Also CNN says Trump is upset because Esper doesn’t say sweet things about Trump on TV enough.

    […] “Another person” CNN talked to said maybe Trump could just leave Esper there and blame him for shit. Because that’s a thing Trump does!

    Or maybe Trump will just fire him Friday.

    “I think this is the end for him,” [a source] added.

    […] we can tell you that it seems like the active-duty troops Trump brought into Washington are going home.

    […] Trump is starting to feel like the states should just handle all the fascism themselves, just like coronavirus.

    That’s right, Donald Trump is TOO LAZY to even finish one whole fascism, LOLOL, probably got distracted “inspecting” a bunker or something, yep that’s probably it. […]


  63. blf says

    Spotted in the Irish Times, Tyrone midwife on the cover of Vogue magazine:

    Rachel Millar […] from Coagh, near Cookstown, was one of three women chosen to front the latest edition, which celebrates frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

    “It’s insane,” she told The Irish Times. “It’s not really every day you see your face plastered over the news and social media.” [she’s been aware of the selection for about a month, but had to keep it a secret –blf]


    As well as Millar, Narguis Horsford, a train driver on the London Overground, and Anisa Omar, who works in a supermarket in King’s Cross in London, also have their own covers in the July edition.

    The editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, wrote that he could “think of a no more appropriate trio of women to represent the millions of people in the UK who, at the height of the pandemic, in the face of dangers large and small, put on their uniforms and work clothes and went to help people.”

    The BBC has more details, including images of all three covers, Coronavirus: London key workers to star on cover of British Vogue. Ms Horsford is black, and Ms Omar (judging by the pictured costume) identifies as Muslim.

  64. says

    Reuters – “Russia’s St. Petersburg records 1,552 more deaths in May than same month last year: official data”:

    The Russian city of St. Petersburg, which has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, recorded 1,552 more deaths in May than in the same month last year, official data shows.

    Official data also shows that Russia’s second-largest city only had 171 deaths from the coronavirus last month.

    Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, St. Petersburg has recorded 17,069 coronavirus cases and a total of 240 deaths.

  65. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States pandemic / politics live blog:

    Pentagon reverses decision to move troops away from Washington

    [… F]rom the Associated Press: defense secretary Mark Esper has reversed the decision to send active duty troops back to their bases after they were moved towards Washington, as the president [sic] threatened to deploy them against protesters.

    Earlier, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany pointedly did not say Esper’s job was safe, after he told reporters he disagreed with Trump over the possible need to deploy troops. […]

  66. blf says

    Of course he would, Trump tried to vote with wrong address while railing against voter fraud:

    Records reviewed by the [Washington] Post found the president [sic] had to resubmit his application, despite railing against the vote by mail process


    Trump registered to vote in Florida last September under his White House address — 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, according to the Washington Post. But Florida does not allow people to register to vote without an in-state address, and one month later, Trump resubmitted his application with a Florida address and voted in the Republican primary.

    On his registration form, Trump told Florida officials his legal residence was in Washington DC but on another day also said he was a bona fide resident of Palm Beach, Florida, home to his Mar-a-Lago Club, according to the public records reviewed by the Post.

    Other voters have faced significant consequences for the same mistake. In fact, as some Democrats pointed out, the same issue is listed on White House website as voter fraud.[]

    A city manager in Florida paid $5,000 in fines for putting the wrong address on her registration, as did a restaurateur in Palm Beach county. […]

      † That Wacko House “site” is really something, A Sampling of Election Fraud Cases from Across the Country (PDF). First thing to notice is it’s some Heritage Foundation propaganda (not any government report, nor is there any indication the government commissioned or paid for the gibbering). Second, it (ambiguously) says there have been 1071 “proven” cases of fraud (ambiguous because it’s unclear if it’s talking about what’s in the 300+ page propaganda, or something else). And third, it claims 938 of those cases have resulted in criminal convictions. Presuming its numbers are broadly correct, what is the problem, please? Proven frauds are being dealt with.

  67. says

    AP – “Police shove, make AP journalists stop covering protest”:

    New York City police officers surrounded, shoved and yelled expletives at two Associated Press journalists covering protests Tuesday in the latest aggression against members of the media during a week of unrest around the country.

    Portions of the incident were captured on video by videojournalist Robert Bumsted, who was working with photographer Maye-E Wong to document the protests in lower Manhattan over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

    The video shows more than a half-dozen officers confronting the journalists as they filmed and took photographs of police ordering protesters to leave the area near Fulton and Broadway shortly after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect.

    An officer, using an expletive, orders them to go home. Bumsted is heard on video explaining the press are considered “essential workers” and are allowed to be on the streets. An officer responds “I don’t give a s—-.” Another tells Bumsted “get the f—- out of here you piece of s—-.”

    Bumsted and Wong said officers shoved them, separating them from each other and pushing them toward Bumsted’s car, which was parked nearby. At one point Bumsted said he was pinned against his car. He is heard on video telling the officer that Wong has his keys and he needs them to leave the area. Officers then allowed Wong to approach and the two got in the vehicle and left.

    Both journalists were wearing AP identification and identified themselves as media.

    “They didn’t care,” Wong said. “They were just shoving me.”

    NYPD officials said they would “review this as soon as possible.”

    Journalists have faced aggressive police and protesters during demonstrations across the U.S. over the killing of Floyd,…

    MSNBC is reporting that the Park Police officers who assaulted the Australian journalists have been placed on administrative leave and it’s under investigation.

  68. says

    YouTube link to the Obama Foundation panel that just happened a few hours ago: A conversation with President Obama: Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence

    I thought it was very good discussion, and I thought some others might also be interested. Those “8 ideas that can’t wait” are a good start for sure.

  69. blf says

    Related to @70 & @72, Rare rebuke for Trump from US evangelical Christian leader:

    Evangelical leader Pat Robertson says ‘it isn’t cool’ for Trump to berate governors over unrest after Floyd’s death.


    Robertson opened his nightly “700 Club” television show on Tuesday by saying the political moment in the US now calls for compassion and reassurance, not the threats of dominance and military force that President [sic] Trump offered in recent days.


    “And he [hair furor] issued a heads up. He said: I’m ready to send in military troops if the nation’s governors don’t act to quell the violence that has rocked American cities. Matter of fact, he spoke of them as being jerks,” Robertson said.

    “You just don’t do that. Mr president. It isn’t cool,” he said.

    The rebuke was surprising because Robertson, who is one the founding leaders of the white, evangelical Christian movement in the US, has been a consistent supporter of Trump. His television show, begun in 1966, is seen by an estimated one million Americans every day.

    One in four American adults belong to an evangelical Christian denomination and they voted 81 percent for Trump in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center […]

    [… I]n a Fox News radio interview, Trump rejected the criticism from church leaders as partisan.

    Most religious leaders loved it. I heard Franklin Graham this morning thought it was great. Most religious leaders thought it was great, Trump said.

    It’s only the other side that didn’t like it, the opposition party as the expression goes, Trump said.


    In his 700 Club monologue, Robertson also questioned Trump’s public threats to call in the US military against the protesters […]

    “The question is, does the president have the authority to call out the troops,” he said. “You have got to go all the way back to pre-Civil War days to find an ordinance to give him that authority.”

    The Pentagon had deployed rapid response, assault troops to military bases in the Washington DC, region as well as two brigades of military police.


    An evangelical magazine founded by the late Reverend Billy Graham published an editorial on December 19 during Trump’s impeachment in Congress calling for his removal from office for “gross immorality and ethical incompetence”.

    A survey conducted in late April and early May by Pew found that support among evangelicals for Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while still strong, had slipped by 6 percentage points.

  70. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States pandemic / politics live blog (quoted in full):

    Former defense secretary fiercely criticizes Trump’s handling of mass protests

    Former defense secretary James Mattis has broken his silence on the Trump administration, fiercely criticizing the president’s [sic] handling of the recent mass protests over George Floyd’s death.

    In an article for the Atlantic, Mattis accuses the president [sic] of dividing the country and ordering the military to violate the constitutional rights of Americans.

    “Donald Trump is the first president [sic] in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

  71. blf says

    Apparently, teh NKofE’s “PM”, Boris Johnson, has said he’s taking back control of the Covid-19 pandemic response. Steve Bell in the Grauniad on that, Boris Johnson taking direct control of pandemic response (cartoon).

    And a snippet from John Crace on the farce, No hiding place for Boris at PMQs:

    […] Boris has become his own worst enemy. The charmer turned charmless. Mr Happy turned Mr Angry. It also doesn’t help that even when his friends at the Daily Telegraph try to big him up with a story about how he was going to take direct control over the government’s handling of the coronavirus, they only succeed in teeing up [Labour leader Keir] Starmer with his first free hit. Who had been in charge of the government during the past three months? […]

    Boris immediately became defensive and snappy. He had always been in control. All that was changing was that now he would be in total control. Besides, he stood behind what the government had done so far. There hadn’t been many other countries that had managed to kill so many of its citizens through negligence and indifference, so that was something of which we should all be proud. […]

  72. says

    CNN – “New suspect identified in 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann”:

    British and German authorities are investigating a new suspect in connection with the disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann, 13 years ago. UK authorities on Wednesday described the development as a “significant new line of enquiry.”

    The three-year-old vanished while sleeping in her family’s holiday apartment in Portugal on May 3, 2007, in a case that has since gained widespread media attention in the UK. She has never been found, and no one has ever been charged over her disappearance.

    The new suspect is a 43-year-old German man, authorities from both countries said.

    The suspect has previously been convicted for sexually abusing children, German State Prosecutor’s office of Braunschweig, State of Lower-Saxony said in a statement on Wednesday, which added that he is currently serving a “long” jail sentence “for an unrelated matter.” He is now being investigated for “possible murder” in connection with McCann, the office said.

    The suspect had lived in Portugal’s Algarve region from 1995 to 2007, and also resided in a house in Praia de Luz, the resort from which McCann disappeared, according to the prosecutor’s office.
    London’s Metropolitan Police on Wednesday also revealed details of two cars linked to the suspect around the time of the disappearance, and called on the public to step forward with any information about them.

    The child’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, on Wednesday thanked the “police forces involved for their continued efforts in the search for Madeleine.”

    “All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice. We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace.”

    UK authorities are offering a £20,000 (about $25,000) reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.

  73. blf says

    More on @92 and SC@93, from the Grauniad’s current States live pandemic / politics blog:

    Mattis equates Trump attempts to divide with Nazi slogan

    In perhaps the most extraordinary passage of James Mattis’s extraordinary condemnation of Donald Trump, […] the former Marine Corps general and US defense secretary seems to equate the president’s [sic] behaviour in dividing Americans with the aims of the Nazi regime during the second world war.

    Mattis writes: “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was Divide and Conquer. Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis — confident that we are better than our politics.


    In a Medium post from 2017, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum elaborated on the Nazis’ strategy and propaganda efforts.

    “The Nazis were virulent racists,” the post says, “… they identified black people as an inferior, alien race that threatened the future existence of western society. But that didn’t stop them from trying to exploit racial tensions among US forces to encourage desertion in the closing days of World War II.

    “Creating wedges between people had been a Nazi strategy since the party’s inception.”

    [… I]n 2019 the retired marine published a memoir, Call Sign Chaos, which only obliquely referred to his differences with Trump. Publicising the book, Mattis said he believed it would be inappropriate for him to criticise a sitting president.

    It seems Trump’s actions on Monday, when he ordered an assault on peaceful protesters outside the White House so he could stage a photo op at St John’s church, helped to change Mattis’s mind. Defense secretary Mark Esper and Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, accompanied Trump on his walk to the church.

    Mattis joined criticism of their presence and wrote: “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square.”


  74. says

    Yikes. Another Inspector General bites the dust.

    Labor Department Inspector General Scott Dahl announced Tuesday he was retiring from his post just a day after warning lawmakers of massive fraud in the unemployment insurance system, becoming the latest watchdog to exit the Trump administration.

    Politico link

    […] Dahl, who will leave the office effective June 21, said the decision “has been long in the works and is for entirely personal reasons,” adding that he was not “told or asked to resign.” […]

    On Monday, Dahl and other officials from his office told a House oversight subcommittee that they’ve seen a “significant amount of fraud” in unemployment programs during the coronavirus pandemic. He told lawmakers that DOL punted on his recommendation that states should collect more earnings information from applicants to combat the fraud.

    Dahl also said he was “very surprised” that DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration had only issued one citation during the entire Covid-19 pandemic.

    “This is something that we’re planning on turning our attention to to look at [OSHA’s] enforcement activities and seeing if they are following their standards, and what can be done to make them more efficient, effective,” he told lawmakers.

    During the briefing Dahl also suggested, in response to a lawmaker, that he could investigate Scalia for pressing a federal retirement board to reverse plans to begin investing in a new index that includes Chinese companies. The board’s decision came after Scalia and White House officials applied pressure.

    His exit comes as the Trump administration has seen an exodus of watchdogs across the federal government, including Glenn Fine, who resigned from the Defense Department inspector general’s office last month.

    Seems to me like there might be more to this story.

  75. blf says

    Related to Lynna@75, from the Grauniad’s current States pandemic / politics live blog:

    Nevada men associated with right-wing extremist Boogaloo movement arrested

    Three men with ties to a right-wing extremist movement have been arrested on terrorism-related charges, the AP reports.

    Authorities said there was a conspiracy to spark violence during the protests in Las Vegas. Prosecutors said the thee white men had US military experience and were arrested after making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles and filling cans with gas, according to a criminal complaint obtained by the AP […]: “They were arrested Saturday on the way to a protest in downtown Las Vegas after filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles […]”

  76. John Morales says

    SC @93, here:

    In Union There Is Strength

    I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

    When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

    From the July/August 2020 issue: History will judge the complicit

    We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

    James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

    Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

    Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

    We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

    Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

  77. KG says

    Boris has become his own worst enemy. – blf@94, quoting the Grauniad’s John Crace

    As Ernie Bevin said of Herbert Morrison (or possibly of Nye Bevan*, accounts differ, maybe he even used the line twice):

    Not while I’m alive he ain’t!

    *All three were WWII and early postwar Labour politicians.

  78. KG says


    The appalling performance of Sweden’s leaders is one of the biggest and most revealing disappointments of the pandemic so far. The government is a Social Democrat-Green-Liberal coalition, which one might expect to prioritise people’s lives. Apparently there’s a tradition of the government not overruling public officials such as the chief epidemiologist, and the no-lockdown policy has had majority public support, but neither justifies such reckless gambling with lives. I suspect the root of the problem is a kind of Swedish exceptionalism. Defenders of the approach keep trotting out the “Too early to judge”, and “It’s a marathon not a sprint” excuses, but this is nonsense. Tegnell has said that if they had known then what they know now about the virus, they might have acted differently. But the lack of knowledge then (and indeed, still) is precisely the point: faced with an obviously highly contagious and dangerous virus with many unknowns, the only rational response was (and is) to buy time by minimising infection numbers. Sweden is rich and well-organised enough to have done this as effectively as its neighbours did – and they are now, as it turns out, able to loosen their own lockdowns.

  79. blf says

    Teh NKofE’s PM is following hair furor and Jair Bolsonaro in doing a very wrong thing at a very wrong time for self-serving profiteering “reasons”, and in direct contradiction of people who actually know what they are talking about, Boris Johnson says he wants to relax 2-metre physical distancing rule (my added emboldening):

    PM’s comments come despite warnings by scientific advisers that rule should remain


    The prime minister struck an optimistic note about easing the lockdown further after demands from Tory MPs for a review of the 2-metre rule to help pubs, restaurants, cafes and other venues to reopen profitably.

    […] Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, and Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical adviser, took a much more cautious tone, stressing that the UK needed to move very slowly given the current infection rate.

    Whitty listed a series of measures including hand washing, “good cough etiquette”, the use of face coverings and the 2-metre rule that are “going to carry on really for as long as this epidemic continues”.

    Vallance said there was still a risk of a second wave and highlighted other countries where there had been subsequent outbreaks after physical distancing measures were eased.


  80. blf says

    Also in teh NKofE, Journalists at Reach consider legal action after 10% coronavirus pay cuts:

    Daily Mirror, Daily Express and local newspaper staff furious after bosses get £300,000 in bonuses and £1.18m in shares


    Staff at Reach, the publisher that owns the titles, said their wages were docked by 10% at the start of April “without consultation or consent”, and without any reduction in the amount of work they were expected to do.


    Reach employees are particularly angry because their chief executive, Jim Mullen, and chief financial officer, Simon Fuller, were paid almost £300,000 in bonuses at the end of March relating to the previous financial year. The pair were also given shares worth £1.18m […]


    Reach has paused its dividend, pension contributions, and future bonus scheme. But staff have noted that earlier this month it told shareholders that its £20m cash reserves had increased to £33m during the crisis.


    Other media outlets have taken a different approach to cut costs in the pandemic, with the Daily Mail asking journalists to take a pay cut in return for shares in the parent company. The Guardian has furloughed around 100 non-editorial staff but not changed terms for its journalists.


    Additional details at the link (e.g., the union’s response, some speculation about what Reach is really up to, Reach’s excuses, &tc).

  81. blf says

    And more from teh NKofE, with the feckup this time being helped by the States (from the Grauniad’s current NKofE politics / pandemic live blog):

    Tens of thousands of Britons have had to be retested for coronavirus following a controversial decision to send swabs to a US laboratory.

    Almost 30,000 Britons will have to be retested for coronavirus costing taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds, the Telegraph reports.

    Ministers admitted that 67,000 Covid-19 tests were sent to a lab in the US over 10 days at the beginning of last month, [warning! Grauniad gibberish ahead] after capacity at a lab in Northern Ireland suddenly stopped processing samples.

    The newspaper reveals that when these tests were returned to the UK, more than four in 10 — nearly 30,000 — were “voided” because of the way they had been processed. The cost to the taxpayer is likely to have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

  82. blf says

    Here in France, teh lepenazis haven’t been attracting too much attention since the start of the lockdown 11 weeks ago, which coincided with the first round of local elections. The second round was postponed due to the pandemic lockdown, and is now scheduled to happen later this month, so I expect they’ll start being obnoxious again. They apparently have a chance in Perpignan (here on the South coast near Spain), where, last I heard, perhaps a week or so ago, the opposition parties have formed a shaky collation to try and hold the lepenazis off (Mainstream parties make ‘fragile’ pact against far-right National Rally in France’s Perpignan: “Perpignan on France’s Mediterranean coast is seen as the best bet for the National Rally (formerly National Front) as it seeks to win a major city in the second round of the country’s local elections on June 28. All other candidates have dropped out to back the conservative incumbent, but there are doubts as to whether this tactic will hold off the populists”).

    Today-ish, Russian firm, French far-right party settle $10m debt dispute:

    National Rally led by Marine Le Pen reaches a legal deal with a Russian aviation parts firm over a controversial loan.


    Documents filed in December last year to Moscow’s Court of Arbitration showed aviation parts company Aviazapchast was suing Le Pen’s party for 639.8 million rubles ($10.1m) loaned to the party.


    The debt-recovery action was filed with the Russian court late last year, and the National Rally party was notified in a December letter of the first hearing in June.

    The court said a document outlining the full agreement would be published within five working days.

    The French far-right party, which has struggled financially for several years, took out the loan with Russia’s First Czech-Russian Bank in 2014.

    News of the lending sparked concerns the Kremlin had thrown its weight behind Le Pen’s party, which is critical of Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

    In March 2016, the original loan was passed to Russian car hire firm Konti, shortly before the First Czech-Russian Bank went into administration and eventually shut down in July the same year.

    State-owned Deposit Insurance Agency then indicated that the loan had been passed on to Aviazapchast in late 2016.


    The Al Jazeera article doesn’t go into who owns the (now-defunct) First Czech-Russian Bank, or Konti, or Aviazapchast, but it’s easy to imagine Putin’s crony’s fingerprints all over the place.

  83. blf says

    me@110, Obviously, I meant “a shaky coalition”. And I forgot to mention a heartwarming sight locally from earlier in the week: The local lepenazi office, brazenly located on the main pedestrianised shopping street, was vandalized (lock apparently broken and posters torn down). The lock’s been fixed, but the remnants of the torn-down posters are stlll stuck to the walls and windows, making the place look even more pathetic than before. It’s also empty, devoid of anything except a table & a few chairs, but that’s how it normally is; it was staffedinfested back in December (and has been in existence for about a year now), but that’s about the only time I’ve ever seen anyonezombie lurking there. It has been vandalised before.

  84. blf says

    Related to Lynna@71, The US would condemn other countries who acted this way. What a sad state of affairs:

    America’s brutal response to protests has weakened its global standing — and been a propaganda gift to foreign dictators


    Faced with massive protests against this racism, President [sic] Donald Trump has responded like an autocrat. Trump has repeatedly encouraged violence against protesters and threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy troops on US soil. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff […] stood next to Trump as he talked about deploying troops, then walked the streets of DC in his combat fatigues to survey the scene like an occupying general. The US secretary of defense told governors to dominate the battlespace — the battlespace meaning the streets of American cities.

    The breadth and depth of the structural problems at play can be seen in police forces’ responses to protests, which often range from heavy-handed to outright dangerous. Police are shooting people with paint pellets and rubber bullets, running into protesters with cars, and shooting teargas and flash-bang canisters into crowds. A helicopter in Washington DC flew low over a crowd to disperse it with noise and wind, a tactic used in war zones against insurgents. And the police violently dispersed a group of peaceful protesters in front of the White House to clear a path for Trump to walk to a church for a photo op.

    If these events were taking place in any other country, a normal US government would express its outrage in statements and high-level phone calls and coordinate with allied countries and international organizations to pressure the offending government. From repression in the Soviet Union to the brutal suppression of protests in the Middle East during the Arab spring, the US has helped lead principled international responses to countries that violently oppress their citizens.

    Today, in a truly sad state of affairs, dictatorships around the world […] are able to give their propagandists a break from fabricating stories about America because they can just post pictures and videos of current events. […]

    America is, justifiably, the focus of intense anger, frustration and disappointment from people across the world. United Nations officials have spoken out about the murder of George Floyd. […] Australia launched an investigation into an incident in which a police officer attacked an Australian journalist covering the US protests. If the situation in America continues to escalate, one could easily imagine some of America’s closest democratic allies beginning to consider steps like offering protesters asylum, criticizing America’s state-sanctioned violence in international organizations, and even perhaps sanctioning US officials responsible.


    Today, America’s protestors are its ambassadors to the world, reminding everyone of the ideals the country strives to embody. And even in these dark times, people around the world still believe in the vision of America that the protesters are struggling to build. Like the protesters at home, those taking to the streets around the world to speak out against racism in America — and to remember George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others — understand what makes America great far better than Donald Trump.

  85. John Morales says


    … what makes America great …

    Heh. The MAGA slogan indicates that its adherents believe America (well, that portion of America that’s under the regime of the USA) is not currently great. So they’ve got that part right.

    (Also, what’s with your [sic] regarding President? It’s quite correct)

  86. blf says

    Moar profiteering (probably) and thug incompetence (probably), Iowa touted its Covid-19 testing. Now officials are calling for an investigation:

    The state’s governor awarded a Utah-based company a $26m no-bid contract to run the program, but it has been fraught with complaints

    Iowa is betting on its new public health program to allow for the reopening of businesses such as bars and movie theaters following weeks of Covid-19 closures. But health experts and lawmakers are raising questions about the program and the little-known company behind it, pointing at missed deadlines, long test delays and complaints over the accessibility of testing sites.

    The principle behind TestIowa is one familiar to many states and countries by now. Residents participate in a survey that determines whether they qualify for Covid-19 testing; people determined to be at higher risk of having contracted Covid-19 are directed to free testing sites, and positive cases are identified to allow those residents to isolate and curb the spread of the virus.

    [… long story, featuring a very common set: dubious characters / companies, often inexperienced or inappropriately experienced, opaqueness & seeming-coverups, inaccessibilty (both physical & to even make a booking for testing (Internet and English / Spanish required)), etc, etc, etc…]

    Some health experts in the state have questioned the government’s decision to award the testing contract to an out-of-state company. “The expertise of Nomi Health and their partners appear to be in the fields of data analytics and engineering, which are not the same as epidemiology,” said [executive director at the Iowa public health association, Lina] Tucker Reinders.

    To Rossana Rosa, an infectious disease specialist based in Des Moines, it’s clear when looking at the TestIowa platform that it was not made in partnership with existing public health framework in Iowa. “Of course we welcome any effort to expand testing in Iowa,” she said. “But this is a web based platform without any relationship or integration with any of the healthcare systems. Patients get a lot of the burden of interpreting a test result or knowing what to do once they get it.”

    “I was surprised by the fact that instead of utilizing established public health entities, we went to a company that has never been involved in diagnostics before,” said Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease physician at the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Global Health and infectious disease. “It is unusual to do in the setting of a pandemic when we really want to use resources that are reliable.”


    Meanwhile, Iowa is one of the fastest growing states for cases of coronavirus, fueled in part by spikes at meatpacking plants where hundreds of mostly-immigrant workers have fallen ill. Nearly 60% of employees at one Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa — 730 employees — reportedly were infected with the virus. Another Tyson plant, in Waterloo, Iowa had 1,031 reported cases among about 2,800 workers.

    An additional outbreak was revealed in a news conference in May in Storm Lake where 555 of the plant’s 2,517 employees have tested positive.

    In that announcement, the Iowa Department of Public Health said it would not be publicly announcing continuing outbreaks at meatpacking plants unless directly asked by reporters. The Iowa Department of Public Health and the governor’s office declined to respond to questions about the number of coronavirus hotspots in the state, and whether those would be tracked by TestIowa.

  87. blf says

    Sensible, France cancels July 14 military parade over Covid-19: “France will cancel its traditional July 14 military parade this year due to coronavirus social distancing requirements, replacing it with a ceremony to pay tribute to medical personnel at the forefront of the pandemic battle, the presidency said Thursday.”

    Slightly related, I’ve been wondering about the upcoming June 21st Fête de la Musique. Some admittedly quick Generalisimo Google™ searching finds that it will happen (e.g., (French) Un événement « sans prendre de risques » : à quoi pourrait ressembler la Fête de la musique ?), through clearly not in its usual form. However, just what form it will take still seems unclear? (As it so happens, June 21 is almost the start of the third déconfinement cycle.)

  88. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, We’re horrified by what’s going on in the USA. Of course nothing like that could happen here (cartoon): “There have been 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody since 1991 yet there has not been a single conviction” (First Dog on the Moon is Ozland-based).

    The “couldn’t happen here” Ozland story referenced in several panels is NSW police commissioner says officer who slammed Indigenous teen to ground had a bad day: “Mick Fuller says he is concerned by footage but most of the community wouldn’t want to see officer sacked”. The teenager assaulted by the goon had apparently said something the goon didn’t like (no actual action, just words, as far as I know), but that gives the goonpologists an opening. E.g., “[NSW police minister David] Elliott, who has consistently defended accusations of misuse of police power, said he was more concerned about the language the boy had used, saying the officer had been provoked, I was just as disturbed about the threat from a young person to physically assault a police officer as I was with the response from the police officer.”

  89. blf says

    Related to @70, @72, @91, and probably other comments, Trump’s Bible photo op splits white evangelical loyalists into two camps:

    Ardent supporters saw the photo op as a blow against evil while others saw the gesture as cynical and a ploy

    On Monday when Donald Trump raised overhead a Bible […] he unwittingly cleaved his loyal Christian supporters into two camps.

    His most ardent evangelical supporters saw it as a blow against evil and described his walk from the White House to St John’s Episcopal church, over ground violently cleared of protesters, as a Jericho walk [ see @70].

    [… E]vangelicals are not monolithic: some saw the gesture as cynical, a ploy by a president [sic] whose decisions, both private and public, do not align with biblical principles.


    Trump’s photo opportunity required police to attack and push away protesters against police brutality. He walked surrounded by key civilian and military advisers, some of whom later said they were caught unaware by the stunt and the violence that preceded it. Some evangelical leaders said they felt similarly aghast, watching the event unfold.

    “Pelting people with rubber bullets and spraying them with teargas for peacefully protesting is morally wrong,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. […]


    Trump can’t afford to lose evangelicals, even by the handful. A record 81% of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016, and he only narrowly won [sic] the presidency [sic], sometimes by just a few thousand votes in crucial areas. His gesture with the Bible outside St John’s was meant to shore up that support, reminding his base of a tacit agreement. […] In exchange for their ballots […] Trump has packed the courts, including the supreme court, with conservative judges who agree with them on social issues.

    [… Professor of American history at Messiah College, John] Fea said it was unclear what happens next: whether evangelicals will stay by Trump, or make a significant split. But whatever happens, he said, is unlikely to be peaceful.

    “Here’s a good rule of thumb,” he said. “Looking back through history, whenever you see someone in authority using the Bible to justify law and order, it ends badly.”

  90. blf says

    Movement to defund police gains ‘unprecedented’ support across US:

    Activists say the way to stop police brutality and killings is to cut law enforcement budgets and reinvest in services. Some lawmakers now agree

    The movement to defund the police is gaining significant support across America, including from elected leaders, as protests over the killing of George Floyd sweep the nation.

    For years, activists have pushed US cities and states to cut law enforcement budgets amid a dramatic rise in spending on police and prisons while funding for vital social services have shrunk or disappeared altogether.

    Government officials have long dismissed the idea as a leftist fantasy, but the recent unrest and massive budget shortfalls from the Covid-19 crisis appear to have inspired more mainstream recognition of the central arguments behind defunding.


    Floyd’s death on camera in Minneapolis, advocates say, was a powerful demonstration that police reform efforts of the last half-decade have failed to stop racist policing and killings. Meanwhile, the striking visuals of enormous, militarized and at times violent police forces responding to peaceful protests have led some politicians to question whether police really need this much money and firepower.


    Amid the protests, some local leaders with budgeting powers have started proposing modest cuts to policing. The most substantial change so far, has come in Minneapolis where the school board on Tuesday voted to end its contract with the police department. The University of Minnesota has also pledged to stop working with police.


    Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles mayor, addressed the broader protests in a speech late Wednesday night and said he was now working to make cuts of up to $150m to the police budget and reinvest funds in black communities, though specifics of his plans were unclear.


    Kamau Walton, a Philadelphia-based member of Critical Resistance, a long-running US abolition group, said the absurdity of increased police spending in this moment was visible to many. Walton lives across from a recreation center and library that has been closed due to Covid, and said houseless people now gather outside, because they have nowhere else to go.

    The city, however, is further cutting housing and homelessness services and seems to lack a summer plan for these communities who have lost programs, resources and jobs, they said. “At a drop of a dime, they can find money for uber-militarized tanks and fly helicopters all over the city and shoot rubber bullets, but we can’t put people in houses?”

    Kelly Lytle Hernández, a UCLA historian and recent MacArthur recipient, said this could be a pivotal moment for the US: “We’ve created over the last 30 to 40 years a sense that our safety and wellbeing always comes from investing more and more in police.”

    This week, it seems there is increasing recognition of this failure, she said, adding, “Defunding the police is the first step in a much broader historical transformation that I’m hoping you’re seeing broad-based support for on the streets today.”

  91. blf says

    New York police take seconds to restore reputation for brutality:

    Driving vehicles into protesters demanding justice for George Floyd earned the backing of the mayor, but of few others

    It doesn’t take long to blow up a reputation. In the case of the New York police department, an institution with an already troubled history, the clip lasted all of 27 seconds.

    It showed an NYPD vehicle in Brooklyn lined up against a metal barricade behind which protesters were chanting during Saturday’s demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd. Projectiles were thrown on to the roof of the car, then suddenly a second police SUV drew up alongside and instead of stopping continued to plough straight into the crowd.

    Seconds later the first vehicle lurched forward, knocking the barrier over and with it propelling several protesters to the ground amid a harrowing chorus of shrieking.

    A 27-second video, now viewed more than 30m times, had quickly shredded years of effort to repair the deeply tarnished image of the NYPD. New York’s “finest” were firmly cast in a role normally reserved for the security corps of petty dictators.

    The shocking video was compounded hours later when the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, spoke about the incident. A politician who won election in 2013 largely on a promise to reform the NYPD and scrap its racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy, astounded even his closest supporters when he defended the police.

    De Blasio said: I do believe the NYPD has acted appropriately.

    Social media lit up. Was it appropriate to drive those two SUVs into the crowd? Was it appropriate for an NYPD officer forcibly to remove the coronavirus mask of a black protester whose arms were raised in the air, then pepper-spray his face?

    Was it appropriate for another officer to tell a protester to get off the street, then physically shove her several feet towards the curb where she landed on her head? Or that the police officers involved in the pepper spray incident had covered their badge numbers, presumably to avoid having to answer for their actions. Or to beat a nurse walking home from a shift at a hospital?

    [… T]he force continues to be systemically resistant to public oversight. Under Section 50-A of New York state law, the disciplinary files of police officers are largely held in secret, making the task of holding them accountable almost impossible.

    Jennvine Wong, a staff attorney at the Cop Accountability Project (CAP) within the Legal Aid Society, told the Guardian that there were currently more than 200 police officers still being employed by the NYPD on full pay who should have been considered for termination following reports of misconduct.


    If there has been unrestrained use of batons in the city, it would be with the full approval of Ed Mullins, the provocative president of one of the main police unions, the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA). He wrote to members urging each and every one of you to report for duty with your helmet and baton and do not hesitate to utilize that equipment in securing your personal safety.

    The sister Police Benevolent Association of New York City has also spoken to its members in inflammatory terms about them being under attack by violent, organized terrorists while New York City council and other politicians sit at home demanding we ‘de-escalate’.


  92. blf says

    More violent terrorist activity, from the Grauniad’s current States pandemic / politics live blog:

    Virginia governor to announce removal of Confederate monument

    The governor of Virginia is expected to announce the removal of a prestigious Confederate monument from the state capitol’s historic Monument Avenue, the AP has reported.

    Democrat Ralph Northam […] is expected to announce the state will remove a massive statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee, and place the statute in storage. The state will then seek a new location for the statue.


  93. blf says

    Follow-up to @60, Unreliable data: how doubt snowballed over Covid-19 drug research that swept the world:

    A vast database from a little-known company called Surgisphere has influenced rapid policy shifts as the world seeks treatments for Covid-19. But as researchers began to examine it more closely, they became increasingly concerned


    [Dr Carlos] Chaccour is known for his work with the research institute ISGlobal in Spain examining parasites and microbes, exploring how these vectors spread disease and what works to treat the infections they transmit. He is particularly interested in mosquito-killing drugs, especially ivermectin. […]


    Chaccour’s first surprise was that the study had found 52 Covid-19 patients who had received ivermectin. At the time, ivermectin was not being widely discussed as a potential Covid-19 treatment. Yet the study said patients around the world had already been receiving it.

    The study also included data from three patients in Africa who, as of 1 March, were on mechanical ventilation and receiving ivermectin.

    “But there were two patients in the entire continent alone at that time, let alone people on ventilators,” Chaccour says.

    Chaccour, who has worked throughout Africa and knows African healthcare systems well, believes many hospitals there are not equipped with the electronic health systems required to be a part of such a database.

    “And they’re supposed to be connected to a fancy automatic thing that gives all this data to a corporation in the US? It was so weird.”


    On 2 May, two weeks after the study appeared online, a doctor in Peru wrote a white paper for the government about the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19, heavily citing the preprint Surgisphere study as evidence. […]

    Less than a week after the white paper was published, the Peruvian government included ivermectin in its national Covid-19 therapeutic guidelines. Projects involving ivermectin around the world received thousands of dollars in grants.

    Chaccour was concerned. He knew ivermectin well and was shocked at how quickly it was being adopted as part of treatment protocols without rigorous research to back up its use. He believes more studies should be done first, as he wrote in an editorial in which he was lead author, published on 16 April. He sent the lead researcher on the preprint paper an email with some questions and concerns about the data, which were forwarded to a co-author of the paper, the Surgisphere founder and chief executive, Dr [recte quack] Sapan Desai.

    Instead of answering his questions about the data, Chaccour says, Desai flattered him and spoke enthusiastically about potential collaboration.

    “Let’s just say my concerns about the study did not reduce whatsoever,” Chaccour says.


    Meanwhile, ivermectin had continued gaining momentum throughout Latin America. The ivermectin preprint paper had been downloaded more than 15,000 times, its abstract viewed 90,000 times. Bolivia went a step further than Peru, announcing on 19 May that 350,000 doses of the drug would be distributed. “Demand goes up hugely, so much so that a blackmarket of ivermectin emerges,” Chaccour says. “So ivermectin threatens to become the new hydroxychloroquine in Latin America.” Researchers in Latin America who found hydroxychloroquine was not effective for Covid-19 began receiving death threats after their findings were published in a US medical journal.


    Chaccour was baffled that [Harvard University vascular surgeon Dr Mandeep] Mehra and Desai were publishing these large studies in prestigious journals every few weeks. It was research that would take months, at least, to write up, longer than the pandemic has been around.

    […] Guardian Australia revealed errors in the Australian data, which overestimated the number of deaths. It led to the Lancet issuing a correction, but Desai insisted the error did not change the overall findings of the study […]

    An investigation by Guardian Australia found the database the studies were based on contained seriously questionable data. Desai did not adequately answer questions from Guardian Australia about how Surgisphere, once listed as a medical education company, came seemingly out of nowhere to become a data analytics company implementing a global database using artificial intelligence and cloud sharing in a matter of months, and with just 11 staff.

    [… Desai] did not explain how the artificial intelligence worked to gather the data, or how hospitals went about putting the system in place and feeding data into it. Desai later said hospital staff were responsible for de-identifying patient data before feeding it into the database. Not one major Australian hospital spoken to by Guardian Australia had heard of Surgisphere or the database.

    [… Chaccour] found race data was reported in the studies that used the database. “It is not clear how Surgisphere gets race data, since collecting it is uncommon in most countries, and illegal in some,” Chaccour says. Surgisphere did not respond to questions from the Guardian about how race data was collected.


    Surgisphere’s Covid-19 “Mortality Prediction Tool” has also come under fire. Surgisphere claims that its tools are based on machine-learning algorithms and derived from real-time data. But when different ages are entered into the tool, it appears to simply divide them by 20 to get the predicted mortality, rounded up to the nearest 0.1%. For example, a 10-year-old would have a 0.5% risk of death, according to the tool.

    A senior London infectious diseases doctor concerned by the tool told the Guardian: “We know that this is not what happens in Covid-19, where there is an exponential relationship between age and mortality.


    Surgisphere data is used for retrospective observational studies, a type of study which can be problematic because of the presence of variables that were not controlled for, and selection bias. Scientists worldwide and the World Health Organization have repeatedly said randomised control trials are needed to show which drugs, if any, are effective for Covid-19 and that these should be made public. Randomised control trials are seen as the gold standard of science due to limited opportunities for bias.

    [… I]n a YouTube video talking about the Lancet study, Desai also said of Surgisphere: The real question here is, with data like this, do we even need a randomised control trial? […]

    It’s a long article, and I’ve omitted many parts, including some previously excerpted in @60.

  94. blf says

    Donald Trump is in trouble, and that could spell very bad news:

    Increasingly desperate US president [sic] would sabotage democracy to stay in power

    It Can’t Happen Here was the title of a 1930s novel about America. Fascism never came to the US — nor is it likely to. But martial law, or something close to the militarisation of America’s cities, is plausible.

    [… summary of hair furor’s recent antics & threats…]

    What is the point of all this? The key is to view these images through the lens of reality television.

    Trump wants Americans to believe that the White House is threatened by domestic terrorists, arsonists, thugs, looters and killers — words he has used frequently in the past few days. US stability is under threat, he claims. The president’s [sic] life, and those of decent law-abiding Americans, are threatened by the extremists on the streets. That is the gist of Trump’s message. But it requires a visual backdrop. Hence the hyped-up situation in Washington.

    A more sober assessment is that Trump’s poll numbers are dropping. He is faced with the triple cocktail of a badly-managed pandemic, the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression and an inability to quell the legitimate anger behind America’s demonstrations.

    Most of those protests are peaceful. There has been looting and scuffles with police. So far, there is no instance of a protester having killed or maimed anyone, let alone a police officer. Several protesters have been killed or maimed by the police. Moreover, most of the looting appears to have been carried out by criminals under cover of the chaos.

    It is a very different reality to the one Trump depicts. There is little prospect of him legitimately reversing his fortunes in the coming months. I have lived in enough democracies, including America, to know a doom-laden government when I see one.

    Trump was fortunate to have avoided a real crisis in his first three years. Now he has three on his hands. His instincts are mostly optical. He is threatening to use powers that he does not have, such as sending the army into the streets. But he is refusing to use powers he does have, such as marshalling a national response to coronavirus.

    These are the actions and inactions of someone with little interest in governing. But Trump does have a burning desire to be re-elected. In his mind defeat would lead to the dismantlement of the Trump Organization and his prosecution and possible imprisonment.

    Faced with a choice between sabotaging American democracy or a future spent in and out of court rooms, I have no doubt where Trump’s instincts would lie. It would be up to others to stop him.

    Apparently, this column, excerpted from the Irish Times, was first published by the Financial Times, which is not exactly a progressive-leaning source. As someone (KG?) recently noted in this series of poopyhead threads, the FT has been described as “read by people who own the country” (from Yes, Prime Minister (1987)):

    The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country; The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; The Financial Times is read by people who own the country; The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

  95. blf says

    A follow-up of sorts to @399(previous page) and Lindsey Graham setting out to whitewash / cover-up Mr Floyd’s extrajudicial killing, from the Grauniad’s current States pandemic / politics live blog:

    Republican senator Lindsey Graham said James Mattis had been duped by the liberal media after the defense secretary issued an excoriating statement about Trump’s response to the George Floyd protests.


    During a Fox News interview this morning, the South Carolina senator issued a message directly to Mattis.

    I think you’re missing something here, my friend, Graham said. You’re missing the fact that the liberal media has taken every event in the last three and a half years and laid it at the president’s feet. I’m not saying he’s blameless, but I am saying that you’re buying into a narrative that I think is, quite frankly, unfair.

    […] Graham had similarly harsh words [as Mattis] for Trump during the 2016 campaign, before becoming one of his closest allies. Graham said in December 2015 that a Trump nomination “would be an utter, complete and total disaster. If you’re a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot, you’re going to have a hard time being president of the United States, and you’re going to do irreparable damage to the party.”

  96. blf says

    Apparently, the family of an Irish individual who resided & died in England two years ago wanted the gravestone engraved with a Gaeilge (Irish language) phrase. That set off all sorts of bigots, Church of England distances itself from Irish language ruling on gravestone:

    The Church of England has sought to distance itself from a decision by one its ecclestiastical judges who ruled that an Irish-language inscription on a gravestone must have a translation with it to ensure the phrase is not mistaken as being a political statement.

    The family of Irish-born Margaret Keane want the words “In ár gcroíthe go deo” on the stone above her grave at St Giles burial ground at Exhall, Coventry. Translated the words mean “in our hearts for ever.” She died in July 2018 at the age of 73.

    Stephen Eyre QC in his role as a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court (an ecclestiastical court) ruled that without a translation the inscription would not be understood by many visiting the church yard.


    Though Mr Eyre is a recognised judge within the church, the Church of England has stated that it does not approve of the ruling.

    “This decision does not reflect any national Church of England policy,” said a spokesman.


    The spokesman went on to point out that Christianity in England was originally established in the country by Irish-speaking monks.

    In 635 the Northumbrian king, Oswald summoned an Irish monk named Aidan from Iona — the island-monastery off the south-west coast of what is now Scotland — to be bishop of his kingdom.

    Oswald granted Aidan and other Irish monks the small tidal island of Lindisfarne on which to found a monastery which became the centrepoint of the spread of Christianity in northern England.

    The spokesman explained “The Irish language is an important part of the heritage of the Church of England. It was, after all, Irish speaking monks in Lindisfarne and beyond who played a central role in establishing the Church in what is now England.”


  97. blf says

    Back in teh banana republic of hairfurorstan, from the Grauniad’s current States politics / pandemic live blog:

    The secretary of the army interestingly sent a tweet about soldiers needing to protect Americans’ right to peaceably assemble, just three days after a group of peaceful protesters near the White House were forcibly removed using tear gas.

    “Every Soldier and Department of the Army Civilian swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution. That includes the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” secretary of the army Ryan McCarthy said in a tweet.


    As various people (including myself) have pointed out, if there is any constructive role for the military to perform, it would be to round up and detain the policeteh goons. As Mano Singham here at FtB quotes Matthew Dessem, “Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide”, noting “that should have been the headline for the events of the past few days, not headlines ascribing the violence to the demonstrators”.

  98. blf says

    Another thug panders for more Putin-worshippers’s money, from the Grauniad’s current States live politics / pandemic blog:

    Republican senator says she’s struggling with whether to vote for Trump

    Republican senator Lisa Murkowski said that she is struggling with whether to support Trump in the 2020 election.

    Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Murkowski applauded James Mattis for his excoriating statement about the president’s [sic] response to the George Floyd protests.

    Murkowski said the former defense secretary’s words were “true, honest, necessary and overdue,” going on to say she is sruggling with whether to support Trump this year.

    “Perhaps we’re getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally, and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up,” Murkowski said.


    Struggling? Oh for feck’s sake, what could possibly be causing any doubt?

    Using the “Follow the money! Follow the money!” advice, a probable reason becomes obvious, reinforced by her being a thug. Her struggling is a coded message to the moneybags, etc.

  99. blf says

    Court overturns EPA approval of popular herbicide made by Monsanto:

    Ruling says EPA ignored clear evidence that the new herbicide would cause widespread damage to crops


    The decision by the US court of appeals for the ninth circuit invalidates the registrations for dicamba-based herbicides made by Monsanto, which is owned by Bayer AG, BASF and Corteva Agrisciences that are designed to be sprayed on genetically engineered soybeans and cotton. The court order effectively makes it illegal for farmers to continue to use the dicamba herbicides this summer as they tend to millions of acres of crops.

    In a stinging rebuke, the court said it had no choice but to cancel the EPA’s approval of the herbicides because the agency had strayed so far from its duty to properly assess the dangers presented by the “new use” of dicamba.

    “The EPA made multiple errors in granting the conditional registrations,” the court said.

    The petition seeking to overturn the EPA’s approval was brought by the National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America.

    “Today’s decision is a massive win for farmers and the environment,” said George Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, lead counsel in the case. “It is good to be reminded that corporations like Monsanto and the Trump administration cannot escape the rule of law, particularly at a time of crisis like this. Their day of reckoning has arrived.”

    An EPA spokesman said the agency was currently reviewing the court decision and will move promptly to address the court’s directive.

    The issue at the heart of the court case is a crop and chemical system designed by Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018. The company said that soybean and cotton farmers could plant “dicamba-tolerant” versions of the crops and then spray new types of dicamba herbicides directly over the top of their fields to easily kill weeds. Previously, farmers used dicamba sparingly and were largely restricted from using dicamba during the growing season because the chemical can easily drift long distances, killing or injuring a wide array of crops and other plants it settles on.

    Monsanto, BASF and Corteva Agriscience told the EPA that their herbicides would have low volatility and if farmers followed instructions on the product labels, they could prevent drift. But since the introduction of the new dicamba crops and herbicides, farmer complaints have been filed with state agricultural officials, reporting dicamba damage across several million acres in at least a dozen states.

    The Guardian reported in March that Monsanto predicted its dicamba crop system would lead to thousands of damage claims from US farmers but pushed ahead anyway, and risks were downplayed to the EPA.

    The court found that the EPA “refused to estimate the amount of dicamba damage”, failed to acknowledge that restrictions it placed on the use of the dicamba herbicides would not be followed, and did not acknowledge evidence that the new use of dicamba herbicides would “tear the social fabric of farming communities”.


    Bayer and Corteva both issued statements saying their herbicides were important farmer tools that could be used safely and they disagreed with the court’s decision. Both companies said they were assessing options in response.

    If the ruling stands, we will work quickly to minimize any impact on our customers this season, Bayer said.


  100. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States live politics / pandemic blog:

    Former White House chief of staff Kelly supports Mattis, hits out at Trump

    John Kelly, formerly secretary of homeland security and White House chief of staff, has dismissed Donald Trump’s criticism of James Mattis, the former secretary of defense who on Wednesday night aimed a blistering broadside at the president’s [sic] handling of protests over the death of George Floyd.

    [… In response to Mattis,] Trump tweeted back: Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General.

    Almost as inevitable as the abuse was the fact that the tweet contained a lie. Mattis resigned in December 2018, over Trump’s attempt to withdraw US troops from Syria. Trump brought his departure forward, but didn’t fire him.

    On Thursday Kelly, like Mattis a retired general though from the Army rather than the Marines, told the Washington Post: “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation. The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused. The president tweeted a very positive tweet about Jim until he started to see on Fox News their interpretation of his letter. Then he got nasty. Jim Mattis is a honorable man.”


    I normally don’t link to fox, but this is an exception, even they are fact-checking hair furor (albeit on a somewhat more trivial point), Tensions flare between Trump, military figures over handling of George Floyd unrest (fox’s marked edits in {curly braces}):

    Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General, Trump said in a pair of tweets Wednesday night. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was ‘Chaos’, which I didn’t like, & changed to ‘Mad Dog.’

    Despite his claim, Trump did not give Mattis that nickname on his own. He has been referred to as “Mad Dog” as far back as 2004.

    […] Mattis is far from the only military figure to contradict Trump in recent days. John Allen, a former four-star Marine general and current president of the Brookings Institution, a DC think tank, wrote an op-ed for Foreign Policy Thursday morning excoriating Trump for his actions on Monday, which included a photo-op at St John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.


    “{I}in a bid to create some appearance that he can empathize with those demonstrating peacefully in the streets, the president proclaimed himself the ally of peaceful protesters,” Allen wrote. “But, at that very moment, just a few hundred feet away across Lafayette Park, fully equipped riot police and troops violently, and without provocation, set upon the peaceful demonstrators there, manhandling and beating many of them, employing flash-bangs, riot-control agents, and pepper spray throughout.”

    Allen added that if the US is to come out of the current turbulence a better country, it cannot look to the president for leadership, but must look to the protesters and people like George Floyd’s brother, Terrance.

    “So mark your calendars — this could be the beginning of the change of American democracy not to illiberalism, but to enlightenment,” he said. “But it will have to come from the bottom up. For at the White House, there is no one home.”


    I have not verified any of the quotes given by fox, but they look fairly plausible and legitimate.

  101. blf says

    Oh good grief, now teh wannabe-dalek codenamed Barr is going all hair furorshite, from the Grauniad’s current live States politics / pandemic blog:

    Barr claims evidence Antifa instigating violence

    At a press conference in Washington on Thursday, Attorney General William Barr said federal law enforcement officers had gathered intelligence that extremist groups including Antifa had hijacked peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd, seeking to incite violence and destruction.

    We have evidence, Barr said, that Antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.


    Barr added: We are also seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.

    Pressed by a reporter about why he mentioned Antifa as opposed to “boogaloo” or other far-right extremist elements, Barr said there was a witches brew a lot of different extremist organizations trying to exploit the protests.

    Federal forces have taken over Washington’s response to the unrest, under Barr’s direction. All of the justice department components — including the FBI, the US Marshals, the Bureau of Prisons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration — have been tapped to respond to violence and looting.

    Questions have been raised about such officers appearing in public — and being used to control the public — without identifying marks or insignia on their uniforms.


    BOP director Michael Carvajal said officers were not told to not identify themselves. He said they normally operate only with their own institutions and therefore don’t need to identify themselves. He added that he probably should have considered marking the officers when they were deployed outside the White House.

  102. tomh says

    Pentagon’s coronavirus plan includes millions for missile tubes and body armor
    By Aaron Gregg and Erica Werner
    June 4, 2020

    …Ten weeks after President Trump invoked wartime production powers to address deep medical supply shortages, only 15 percent of that funding has been placed under contract. The department also received $10.5 billion in Cares Act funding to address the crisis, and had spent about $2.65 billion as of Wednesday afternoon, a department spokesman said…

    In a statement, Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said, the department continues to “aggressively” identify opportunities to use the Cares Act funding, while emphasizing the need to spend funds responsibly…

    The document obtained by The Post shows that Pentagon plans for the Cares Act money include spending hundreds of millions of dollars on projects seemingly unrelated to the pandemic, including submarine missile tubes, space launch facilities, and golf course staffing…

    The plan includes $3.48 billion for various costs needed to prevent the coronavirus from degrading the U.S. military’s readiness to respond to a national security threat. That includes setting up quarantine facilities for people who are designated “mission essential,” such as pilots and missile crews. Hundreds of millions of dollars is designated for extra IT spending needed to help the military services work remotely, including unspecified “commercial solutions” that would allow remote access to classified computer systems.

    Another $307 million is being used to protect Defense Department jobs during the pandemic…

    But the bulk of that funding is being spent to shore up the military supply chain, primarily to correct problems that are only tenuously related to the pandemic — including $150 million for shipbuilders, including funds for submarine launch equipment and missile tubes; $40 million for hypersonic missile development; $80 million for microelectronics; $150 million for space launch companies, and $62 million for body armor and pelvic protectors…

    Dan Grazier, a former Marine captain who now works at the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, attributed the defense industrial base spending to “defense lobbyists leveraging this crisis” on behalf of their clients…

  103. blf says

    Hair furor is retreating into wannabe-dalek codenamed Barr’s “Downfall” fortified Wacko House rant bunker, from the Grauniad’s current live States pandemic / politics blog (quoted in full):

    As Nick Confessore of the New York Times put it on Twitter today, “Trump began his term promising to build a wall to protect America from the world. He ends it building a wall to protect himself from Americans.”

    Trump insisted yesterday that he did not visit the White House bunker on Friday night because protesters were clashing with law enforcement officers outside, as had been widely reported, but instead had been down there briefly during the day for a quick inspection.

    Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post duly disproved that, but who’s even counting how many fibs the president [sic] tells about reported fact anymore?

    Anyway — back to Confessore’s point. Tom Fitzgerald, for Fox 5 in Washington, has like many other reporters out and about in the capital noticed concrete barriers being put into place around the White House:

    Crews are now adding concrete Jersey barriers now being added, fortifying the new steel wall that is surrounding The White House as #GeorgeFloyd protests continue. @Fox5DC

    Earlier, the Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, noticed Confessore’s tweet and decided to make a point:

    And American taxpayers, not Mexico, will again be sent the bill. We NOTICE these things on the Senate and House #Appropriations Committees…

    Does anyone have access to, or a summary of, Carol Leonnig’s report in the Washington Post?

  104. says

    Follow-up to blf’s comment 127.

    GOP senator wants party to ‘be more honest’ about Trump concerns

    Murkowski hinted at a truth that generally doesn’t rise above a whisper in GOP politics: much of the party realizes there’s something wrong with Trump.

    After former Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote a brutal rebuke of Donald Trump’s presidency yesterday, it stood reason that Senate Republicans would be pressed for a response. It was against this backdrop that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) praised the retired general’s blistering assessment as “true and honest and necessary and overdue.”

    Murkowski said: “When I saw Gen. Mattis’ comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up. And so I’m working as one individual to form the right words, knowing that these words really matter so I appreciate General Mattis’ comments.”

    […] The three-term senator, who won as a write-in candidate in 2010 after losing in a primary, has repeatedly been more willing than most GOP lawmakers to go her own way on key issues.

    When her party tried to replace the Affordable Care Act with a far-right alternative, she balked. When her party rallied behind Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, Murkowski was the only GOP senator to vote “no.” When Senate Republicans pushed a resolution last year to denounce the House’s impeachment inquiry, the Alaskan didn’t sign it. When Mitch McConnell vowed to remain in “total coordination” with Team Trump during the president’s impeachment trial, she made her displeasure known.

    And while Murkowski didn’t vote to convict Trump in the Senate’s impeachment trial, she was one of a handful of GOP senators to concede that the president’s extortion scheme toward Ukraine was wrong.

    Republicans in Congress who still have some level of integrity are so rare that we are seeing praise for Murkowski’s admittedly small steps in the right direction.

    […] the part of Murkowski’s comments that stood out for me as most notable was her hope that Republicans “can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally.” She didn’t say this explicitly, but that line hinted at a truth that generally doesn’t rise above a whisper in GOP politics: many of the party’s members realize something is deeply wrong with Donald Trump — but to borrow Murkowski’s phrasing, they’re afraid to be “more honest” about the concerns they “hold internally.”

    I’m skeptical that even recent events will cause a lasting shift in Republican politics — the fear of the president, his media allies, and his followers is powerful — but it was nevertheless a pleasant change of pace to hear a sitting GOP senator acknowledge “the concerns” about Trump out loud.

  105. says

    Nope. This is history that Trump cannot rewrite.

    It’s too late to rewrite history on the Lafayette Square scandal

    Trump boasted that the clearing of Lafayette Square was “handled very well.” If that were true, the White House wouldn’t have to lie about what happened.

    Yesterday afternoon at the White House Rose Garden, Donald Trump declared himself “an ally of all peaceful protesters.” But as the president spoke, there were noises of unrest audible in the background […]

    Moments before […] Trump vowed to use military might to stop rioting, police backed by the National Guard stormed into a peaceful protest outside the White House and scattered a large group of people protesting unprovoked police violence against African Americans. At the time, none of the protesters or nearby journalists knew the reason for clearing the street. But the purpose became clear as soon as Trump finished his speech in the Rose Garden.

    […] there was a group of peaceful protestors in Lafayette Square. There was no violence or unrest, and those assembled in the park had every right to be there. (There was a curfew in Washington, D.C., last night, but it had not yet taken effect.) Nevertheless, shortly after Trump touted himself as “an ally of all peaceful protesters,” law enforcement launched a rather extraordinary offensive against the demonstrators, which included, among other things, firing tear gas and flash-bang shells at those who had peaceably assembled.

    Once Lafayette Square had been cleared by force, Trump walked across the park — the length of a city block — stood in front of St. John’s, held up a Bible, posed for the cameras, and then walked back. [He] did not go inside the church; he did not read from the Bible; he did not pray or engage in any form of worship; he didn’t even visit with a pastor.

    “Is that your Bible?” a reporter asked. “It’s a Bible,” Trump replied. […]
    On the New York Times’ online homepage this morning, there was a 13-word headline that summarized what transpired nicely: “Peaceful Rally Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Can Pose at a Church.” It’s apt because it’s precisely what happened.

    Brendan Buck, a former top aide to Paul Ryan, told Politico, “We long ago lost sight of normal, but this was a singularly immoral act. The president used force against American citizens, not to protect property, but to soothe his own insecurities. We will all move on to the next outrage, but this was a true abuse of power and should not be forgotten.” […]

    “He did not pray,” the bishop, Mariann E. Budde, said in an interview. Referring to the death of the black man in police custody that set off the protests, she added: “He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years. We need a president who can unify and heal. He has done the opposite of that, and we are left to pick up the pieces.”

    The article added that a visiting priest attending St. John’s was sprayed with tear gas as she tried to help scared demonstrators leave the area. The bishop told the Washington Post that she’s “outraged,” not only by the heavy-handed tactics, but also by Trump’s willingness to use a church “as a prop.”

    Just when it seems the president can’t go any lower, he finds a way.

  106. blf says

    Not much of a surprise, Ukrainian prosecutors finds no evidence against Hunter Biden:

    Audit probed energy company Burisma, of which Biden was a board member from 2014–2019

    An audit of thousands of old case files by Ukrainian prosecutors found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Hunter Biden, the former prosecutor general [Ruslan Ryaboshapka], who had launched the audit, told Reuters.


    After taking office, Ryaboshapka in October announced an audit of old cases he inherited, including those related to the energy company Burisma, of which Hunter Biden was a board member between 2014–2019.

    The audit was intended to probe whether cases Ryaboshapka had inherited from his predecessors had been handled properly, given the reputation of the prosecution service as being riddled with corruption and influence-peddling.


    “I specifically asked prosecutors to check especially carefully those facts about Biden’s alleged involvement. They answered that there was nothing of the kind,” he added.

    Ryaboshapka was fired in March after lawmakers accused him of not moving quickly enough in prosecuting cases. Ryaboshapka said he was axed because he had started bringing real reform to the prosecution service for the first time in a way that threatened the interests of corrupt politicians.


  107. Czech American says


    Quick summary (I don’t remember how to do quoting):

    At least 4 protesters were arrested on Friday after they hopped the temporary fencing erected at the White House. They did not enter the actual White House grounds, and were surprised that they were arrested. This is what caused Brave Sir Trump do go into his hidey hole along with Melania and Barron.

    Reports of his hiding made Trump big mad and he vented to Brian Kilmeade, claiming he was only inspecting the bunker. Former secret service members say this explanation makes no sense.

    It was the first night of protests, so the secret service was “taken aback”.

    Trump’s frustration at being labelled a coward factored into his decision to do his violent church publicity stunt on Monday.

    In 2017, a single protestor made it over the treasury fence and on to the treasury grounds next door to the White House, which was probably a factor in the secret service response to this even though the Friday protesters didn’t get anywhere near that far.

    “I didn’t even realize what I did was illegal,” said one of the protesters, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the pending charges. “I stepped over a barricade. I never got onto the Treasury grounds or White House grounds.”

  108. Czech American says

    By the way, I get 30 day codes to give out for the Washjngton Post. Would anybody like to receive those codes?

  109. blf says

    Follow-up to @60 & @122, Covid-19: Lancet retracts paper that halted hydroxychloroquine trials:

    The Lancet paper that halted global trials of hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 because of fears of increased deaths has been retracted after a Guardian investigation found inconsistencies in the data.

    The lead author, Prof Mandeep Mehra, from the Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, Massachusetts decided to ask the Lancet for the retraction because he could no longer vouch for the data’s accuracy.

    The journal’s editor, Richard Horton, said he was appalled by developments. “This is a shocking example of research misconduct in the middle of a global health emergency,” he told the Guardian.

    A Guardian investigation had revealed errors in the data that was provided for the research by US company Surgisphere. These were later explained by the company as some patients being wrongly allocated to Australia instead of Asia. But more anomalies were then picked up. A further Guardian investigation found that there were serious questions to be asked about the company itself.

    An independent audit company was asked to examine a database provided by Surgisphere to ensure it had the data from more than 96,000 Covid-19 patients in 671 hospitals worldwide, that it was obtained properly and was accurate.

    Surgisphere’s CEO, Sapan Desai, had said he would cooperate with the independent audit, but it is understood he refused to give the investigators access to all the data they asked for.

    In a statement on Thursday, Mehra said: “Our independent peer reviewers informed us that Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO audit report to their servers for analysis as such transfer would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements. As such, our reviewers were not able to conduct an independent and private peer review and therefore notified us of their withdrawal from the peer-review process.”

    [… Quack Desai had previously told the Grauniad] There are also a number of inaccuracies and unrelated connections that you are trying to make with a clear bias toward attempting to discredit who we are and what we do, he said. We do not agree with your premise or the nature of what you have put together, and I am sad to see that what should have been a scientific discussion has been denigrated into this sort of discussion.

  110. says

    blf @132: Does anyone have access to, or a summary of, Carol Leonnig’s report in the Washington Post?”

    Here are some excerpts from that article:

    […] Trump was rushed to a secure bunker in the White House on Friday evening after a group of protesters hopped over temporary barricades set up near the Treasury Department grounds, according to arrest records and people familiar with the incident.

    The security move came after multiple people crossed over fences that had been erected to create a larger barrier around the White House complex around 7 p.m. […]
    The breach occurred around the time that the Secret Service alert level on the White House complex was elevated from “yellow” to “red,” according to a law enforcement official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal safety maneuvers. Officials familiar with the incident told colleagues that the president, the first lady and their son Barron were rushed to the bunker because of the episode […]

    The events contradict the president’s claim Wednesday that he went to the bunker simply to inspect the secure location. […]

    “The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions,” spokesman Judd Deere said in an emailed statement. […]

    Former Secret Service agents said Trump’s explanation did not make sense, noting that all presidents and their families are routinely given a security briefing in their first days in office. They are briefed on steps the Secret Service will take in an emergency and also shown secure locations where they will be taken in case of danger. […]

    Trump’s frustration with the impression that he was in hiding amid the tumult contributed to his decision Monday to walk from the White House to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church. […]

    The entire White House fence line was recommended for replacement after a 2014 fence-jumper incident, but the portion around Treasury had been delayed by Secret Service budget constraints.

    Washington Post link

  111. says

    Questions about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s involvement in various corrupt schemes are not going away.

    This is new:

    Fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick told Congress in a private interview Wednesday that before he was ousted, he had informed at least three top aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he was reviewing Pompeo’s and his wife’s use of government resources, two lawmakers told NBC News. The revelation potentially undercuts Pompeo’s claim to have been unaware that Linick was looking into that issue when he asked President Donald Trump to fire Linick.

    Quoted text is from NBC News.

  112. blf says

    The other thug from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, may be trying to annoy hair furor, from the Grauniad’s current live States politics / pandemic blog:

    Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, announced on Thursday that he will block the confirmation of Donald Trump’s nominees until the White House provides Congress with “adequate explanations” for the firing of two inspector generals in recent months.

    It is rare for a president to remove an inspector general, a role created in the aftermath of Watergate. But in the last few months, Trump has carried out a purge of such government watchdogs who he deemed as insufficiently loyal, among them intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, state department inspector general Steve Linick, acting Pentagon inspector Glenn Fine, and acting Health and Human Services inspector Christi Grimm.

    By law, the administration is supposed to serve notice to Congress at least 30 days before the removal of an inspector general:

    Im placing holds on 2 Trump Admin noms until I get reasons 4firing 2 agency watchdogs as required by law Not 1st time ive raised alarm when admins flout IG protection law Obama did same& got same earfull from me All I want is a reason 4 firing these ppl CHECKS&BALANCES

    Grassley’s move is a rare break from the president [sic]. But the former judiciary committee chairman, who has long considered himself an advocate for inspectors general, has led the charge calling on the administration to provide an explanation for the removals. […]

  113. says

    Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, is standing up to both Trump and Mitch McConnell … at least a little bit.

    […] Grassley announced Thursday that he is placing a hold on two Trump administration nominees until the White House provides him with an explanation for the firing of two inspectors general.

    I’m placing holds on 2 Trump Admin noms until I get reasons 4firing 2 agency watchdogs as required by law Not 1st time ive raised alarm when admins flout IG protection law Obama did same& got same earfull from me All I want is a reason 4 firing these ppl CHECKS&BALANCES

    The two nominees are Christopher Miller to be director of the National Counterterrorism Center and Marshall Billingslea to be the undersecretary of State for arms control and international security […]

    The nominees are deliberate choices, one from each department that lost an inspector general to President Trump’s firing for which Grassley is demanding an explanation.

    He said last week that the White House had “failed” to give him adequate rationale for the President’s firing of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.

    He added that the White House also did not address the “glaring conflict of interest” created by Trump nominating replacements for the axed IGs from the departments they oversaw, some of whom are maintaining both positions at once. […]

    Trump has fired or removed from leadership positions five inspectors general this spring alone.

    The most recent of those, Linick, testified Wednesday in private to a slew of House committees who are leading a probe into his firing.

    Democrats who listened to the testimony reported that he said he had “not heard any valid reason that would justify my removal.”


    From the comments posted by readers:

    Can’t show the tiniest amount of spine against the Orange Menace without the obligatory shot at Obama.
    Put a hold on the right wing judges then you might get our attention
    Sen. Snooze suddenly woke up from naptime to start screaming “Checks and Balances”?

    You can bet your bottom ruble he sees a Democratic freight train barreling down the track.

    Come November, that Blue Tsunami in 2018 is gonna look like a ripple in the kiddie pool.
    That it has taken Grassley this long, though, does not suggest actual wisdom, just dawning self-preservation.

  114. says

    Yesterday was an anniversary:

    On Wednesday, top Democratic leaders marked the one year anniversary of the House of Representatives passing permanent protections for over 2 million immigrants, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, by calling out the one person who’s ultimately responsible for blocking further advancement of the legislation in Congress: Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    “One year ago, House Democrats took a momentous step forward for justice by passing H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Yet, for 365 days, Leader McConnell has refused to take up this legislation, which has the overwhelming support of the American people.” Two immigrants who would be able to apply for legal status under the bill, DACA recipient Luz Chavez Gonzales and TPS holder Elizabeth Valencia, joined leaders for a press call to share how McConnell’s inaction has continued to leave their lives in limbo.

    Chavez Gonzales said that she’s dealing with both a looming decision from the Supreme Court on the program’s future, and she’s struggling to support her family amid a pandemic. “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, I’ve become the sole provider of my household,” she said during the press call. “I live with my parents and two siblings, and they’ve all lost their jobs […] if the Supreme Court sides with Trump and I lose my DACA, not only would my family lose their only source of income, but I could be a priority for deportation from Trump’s deportation force.”

    ”For that reason, the Senate must pass H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act,” Chavez Gonzales continued, […] “It’s imperative that Congress work to defund the enforcement agencies of ICE and CBP, whose resources are currently being used to not only terrorize immigrants, but also protestors across the country, taking action against the murders of Black people by police,” she said.

    During her often-emotional testimony, Valencia described her work in the COVID-19 wing at a nursing home amid the pandemic. […]


  115. says

    The New York Times is being lambasted, and rightfully so:

    The New York Times […] decided to run a wildly fascistic op-ed from Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. The op-ed titled “Tom Cotton: Send In The Troops,” really says it all. Cotton has been pressing for Donald Trump to employ the military to squash racial injustice protests erupting throughout the country, going so far as to name check the 101st Airborne Division as a good unit to enforce this decidedly anti-American and anti-First Amendment attack.

    New York Times staffers slammed the decision, leading to publisher A.G. Sulzberger offering a weak-sauce defense using the buzzword “diversity.” In a letter to staffers, Sulzberger reportedly said the opinion section of the Times “provide readers a diversity of perspectives,” but more importantly—and this is key—he claimed that the opinion section does have criteria for the argument being made: “they need to be accurate, good faith explorations of the issues of the day.” This is an interesting thing to say, especially after publishing Sen. Tom Cotton’s fact-free screed of authoritarian fear-mongering.

    Yeah, not so much regarding the “accurate, good faith” etc. Cotton lied.

    […] Cotton asserts all kinds of things that even the Times itself has debunked. For example, the bloviated claims by Trump officials and people like Cotton that antifa elements have been the wide cause of looting and property damage connected to the protests going on across the country. […].

    It’s also important to understand why running transparent fascistic bullshit is antithetical to news reporting. As The New York Times staff itself reports, sourced by way of New York Times’ staff, fascism is terrifying to people who investigate the news and to the sources they depend on for information.

    Three Times journalists, who declined to be identified by name, said they had informed their editors that sources told them they would no longer provide them with information because of the Op-Ed.

    It is also a racist performance piece by Cotton, and New York Times staffers across the board saw it for what it was. […]


  116. says


    From Hunter:

    Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake published the Trump/Pence campaign’s latest “FOR PATRIOTS ONLY” email. In it, the campaign says it is assembling a “Trump Army.” It is unconcerned with subtlety, directly extending Trump’s own calls for, as he put it, “Second Amendment” responses to Americans protesting police violence. The “President,” you see, is raising a brownshirt army:

    “The President wants YOU and every other member of our exclusive Trump Army to have something to identify yourselves with, and to let everyone know that YOU are the President’s first line of defense when it comes to fighting off the Liberal MOB.” […]


    See also:

    More from Hunter:

    During any period when a sitting president had not already encouraged his base, from the White House Rose Garden, to arm themselves and perhaps start shooting at other Americans, this emailed exhortation would be seen as merely crass. Today, at this moment, it is self-evident that Trump supporters who receive this email will be further convinced that they are an “Army,” that they are Trump’s “first line of defense,” and that they should prepare for “fighting off” not attackers, not rioters, not even looters, but “Liberals.”

    The last line, imploring Trump’s collection of paranoid Americans to “not pass this information on to anyone,” is further meant to fire off conspiracy synapses. […]

    This is not happening in a vacuum. In addition to Sen. Tom Cotton’s latest treason against America, other Trump defenders are calling for violence against liberals. […]

    Trump’s calls for far-right, “Second Amendment” militia action are already bearing fruit. Three Nevada extremists are now in custody on terrorism charges after being arrested “on the way to a protest in downtown Las Vegas after filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles,” part of a plan to cause violence in Las Vegas protests that could be blamed on supposed “antifa” groups.

    On Tuesday, a uniform-wearing, heavily armed man was arrested in Los Angeles for impersonating a National Guard soldier and attempting to blend in with security teams. […]

    We are in a true moment of fascism. Fox News and other Trump allies are calling for the military occupation of America, over objections of individual states. Retired military officers are coming forward to give the boldest warnings they know how. Trump has now ordered at least one attack on peaceful protesters for the sole reason of gaining media coverage for that attack on live television. Far-right militias are mobilizing. The Republican-controlled Senate has already nullified itself, giving explicit permission for overt criminal behavior from “their” president if it is in service to his reelection, and therefore their own power.

    And Donald Trump’s campaign, filled with the dregs of criminal-minded scum that the Trump team could not plausibly put in even his ramshackle administration, is fundraising by selling camouflage-styled merchandise meant to identify wearers as members of an official “Trump Army,” one that is the “line of defense when it comes to fighting off” liberalism.

    By which they mean Black Americans and anyone allied with them—anyone who is currently defying Trump, on any street, for any reason.

  117. says

    A follow-up, and an update to SC’s comment 93.

    Yet another change: Esper is sending the troops home.

    Defense Secretary Mark Esper is sending hundreds of active duty soldiers who had been on standby in the Washington, D.C., area back to their home base after reversing course on such a decision the day before.

    A senior defense official confirmed to The Hill that the Pentagon “made the decision to return members of some of the active duty units in the capital region to their home base.” […]

    The troops — reported by numerous outlets as from the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C. — are part of the roughly 1,600 U.S. forces brought to the D.C. area but never used to respond to civil unrest […]

    This marks the second time in as many days that Esper has ordered the troops home. On Wednesday morning, the Pentagon chief instructed forces to return home but changed his command later that day following a White House meeting, asking them to “to remain on alert” in the region for an additional 24 hours.

    The change to diminish troop presence in the capital region comes after Esper made a signifiant break from White House messaging. […]


  118. blf says

    The ACLU is now on the case, from the Grauniad’s current States politics / pandemic blog:

    ACLU and Black Lives Matter sue Trump and Barr

    The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Donald Trump, William Barr and other federal officials over the assault on peaceful protesters near the White House on Monday, which was ordered by Barr so Trump could walk to St John’s church […] and hold up a Bible in a photo op meant to reassure evangelical supporters.

    According to a release from the ACLU of the District of Columbia, the lawsuit filed on behalf of Black Lives Matter DC and individual protesters accuses Trump and the other officials are accused of “violating their constitutional rights and engaging in an unlawful conspiracy to violate those rights”.


    Trump and supporters have claimed protesters in Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, and near St John’s church were not tear-gassed. But as an Associated Press fact check points out, “the US Park Police denied using tear gas, yet acknowledged deploying a pepper compound, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientific organizations list as one form of tear gas”.

    The White House has also contested reports that rubber bullets were also used to clear the crowd before Trump, who had just promised law and order in a brief Rose Garden address, walked to the church and posed with a Bible carried by his daughter, Ivanka.

    Here’s a telling Washington Post headline: “White House says police didn’t use tear gas and rubber bullets in incident that cleared protesters with chemical irritants and projectile munitions.”


  119. says

    Holy Buckets! The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, did some good stuff while we weren’t looking.

    […] they are debating the terms of their yearly Intelligence Authorization bill, and […] they managed to include some really strong enhanced whistleblower protections. They voted the bill out of committee […]

    The inquiry began after the Trump administration withheld the whistleblower complaint about the president’s interactions with Ukraine from Congress, despite a law requiring that the country’s top intelligence official turn it over to lawmakers. […]
    Briefly, the bill would:

    More fully protect the identities of whistleblowers.

    Get real legally specific on what an “urgent concern” is, where whistleblower complaints are concerned.
    Remember, there was a huge fight at the beginning of the Ukraine scandal, where (now fired) intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson said “yes, this is URGENT CONCERN, I should give it to Congress!” and (now fired) Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said “Lemme ask Donald Trump’s personal bagman Bill Barr over there at the Justice Department” and Trump’s bagman said “Crimes are not crimes when Donald Trump commits them, no urgent concerns here.” (Not exact quotes.) […] sussing out the definition of “urgent concern” more fully empowers the IGs to make those decisions themselves.

    Make it easier for both IGs and whistleblowers to bring their concerns, and their information, to the intelligence committees.

    […] make it A CRIME to receive a whistleblower complaint about for example Donald Trump and then show it to Donald Trump, which Maguire did, by calling up the White House when he got the whistleblower complaint about Trump’s PERFECT CALL.They’d now have to get permission from the whistleblower to do that, for it not to be a crime.[…]

    Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee will also vote on its own version of this bill […]

    So this is all good!

    On top of the whistleblower protections, the committee also voted 8-7 to amend the bill to include a version of the FIRE Act, […] The amendment would require presidential campaigns to tell the FBI if foreigns were trying to help them in any way. […]

    Don’t get confused. The 14-1 vote was on sending the whole bill out of the committee. The 8-7 vote was to include the FIRE Act amendment in the bill, which was then voted out of committee 14-1. The 8-7 vote on the FIRE Act amendment was along party lines, except for how Susan Collins — probably troubled and dismayed at the time — crossed the aisle and voted with the Democrats. We guess the other Republicans on the committee, including fascist Tom Cotton, don’t think campaigns should have to report it when foreigns try to give them reacharounds. Wonder why!

    Anyway, still, the bill passed, at least out of committee […]

    Now Tell Us About The Fuckery. There HAS To Be Fuckery.

    There very well may be much fuckery, before this thing is actually voted on by the full Senate. It’s possible some of these Republicans just wanted it on the record (SUSAN COLLINS) that they voted for #GoodThings when there’s little risk to them […]

    the Senate might look at the bill by itself, or they might roll it in with the humongous National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as they’ve done before. And there’s ample time for asshole GOP senators to try to get good things in the bill taken out before they have to vote for good government provisions like these, because keeping foreigners out of American elections is bad for GOP electoral prospects.

    Guess we’ll just have to see. But as of now, the Senate Intelligence Committee did a good thing. Please nobody tell Donald Trump, he will get mad and they are very a-skeered of him when he gets mad.

    Wonkette link

  120. says

    There was even more racism than we knew behind the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. More? Yes, more overt evil and racism.

    William Bryan, who filmed Armaud Arbery’s gruesome death, presumably for the next KKK-sponsored independent film festival, was charged with felony murder in late May. Since then he’s been singing like Mariah Carey in ’95. According to testimony Thursday from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, Bryan claimed Travis McMichael shouted, “fucking n***er” after fatally shooting Arbery.

    Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial testified in court that Bryan and his alleged accomplices, Gregory and Travis McMichael, chased Arbery through the streets of the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick, Georgia, on suspicion of appreciating architecture. Arbery tried desperately to avoid them, which annoyed the sport-hunting vigilantes.

    From CNN:

    Bryan “made several statements about trying to block [Arbery] in and using his vehicle to try to stop him,” Dial said. “His statement was that Mr. Arbery kept jumping out of the way and moving around the bumper and actually running down into the ditch in an attempt to avoid his truck.”

    Arbery had almost made it out of the neighborhood when the McMichaels forced him to turn back and run past Bryan, who struck him with his truck.

    Investigators found a swipe from a palm print on the rear door of Bryan’s truck, cotton fibers near the truck bed that “we attribute to contact with Mr. Arbery” and a dent below the fibers, he said.

    Yeah, those excellent KKKeystone cops on the scene — and two local DA’s before the third turned it over to the GBI — missed that the dead black guy was recently hit by a moving vehicle.

    […] When someone with a Confederate flag sticker on their truck is chasing you, it’s safe to assume that the “n-word” is one of the […] words in their vocabulary. I still wish Arbery didn’t have to hear it in his dying moments. As Richard Pryor observed, the epithet makes you feel like you’re not a person anymore. […]

    The McMichaels and Bryan probably thought they’d committed the perfect murder when they hunted Arbery down and killed him. They had a pleasant chat with the police over Arbery’s dead body and went home without any of the hassles a black man might experience if he tried to buy a candy bar with a fake $20. […]

    Unfortunately, Gregory McMichael leaked the video because, as impossible it is to believe, he’s as dumb as he looks. He wasn’t a team player in this cover-up. The McMichaels already had two districts attorneys serving for the defense. The first, Jackie Johnson, recused herself because McMichael used to work for her. The second and worst, George E. Barnhill, declared there was “insufficient cause to arrest” Arbery’s killers and argued that everyone involved “acted legally under Georgia’s citizen arrest and self-defense laws.” Barnhill should lose his job and his license to practice law, and be charged with obstruction of justice.

    The only reason the case didn’t end with Barnhill is because Arbery’s family pressured him to recuse himself. They couldn’t just grieve and trust the system to work as it should […] No, Arbery’s loved ones had to start their own side business, hiring their own attorney to see that justice was done. Black people don’t have the luxury of law enforcement serving as their “protection agency,” as it does for people like Amy Cooper.

    William Bryan and Gregory and Travis McMichael should all rot in jail, but we can’t stop there. We must dismantle the corrupt system they almost successfully exploited.

    Wonkette link

  121. says

    Rand Paul Demands Anti-Lynching Bill Cover Only Highest-Quality Lynchings

    […] Rand Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky, where at least 138 black people were lynched between 1877 and 1934. […] He is the only senator in a Senate with Republicans in it who insists on obstructing a bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime. His half-assed excuse is that he’s afraid the legislation could be “wrongly applied.” What does that even mean? […]

    From the Washington Post:

    “We think that lynching is an awful thing that should be roundly condemned, that should be universally condemned,” Paul told reporters at the Capitol.

    Dear God, he’s gonna add a “but” to this, isn’t he?

    But he said the bill might “conflate lesser crimes with lynching,” which Paul said would be a “disservice to those who were lynched in our history” and result in “a new 10-year penalty for people who have minor bruising.”

    “Minor bruising”? What the fuck is he … I’m sorry. I just can’t.

    I don’t think the spirits of 4,743 American lynching victims are going to complain because the Zimmermans and McMichaels aren’t setting black people on fire anymore during their extrajudicial killings. “What? You mean, they just shoot ’em? Where’s the razzle dazzle?” […]

    Paul wants to add a new “serious bodily injury standard” to the legislation and ensure that you can only prosecute crimes as lynchings if they result in a “substantial risk of death and extreme physical pain.” […]

    Ron Paul, the senator’s crackpot father, thinks the 1964 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional and violated the rights of racists. There’s a family history of the Paul family standing on the wrong side of history. […]

    Last year, Lindsey Graham described Donald Trump’s impeachment trial as a “lynching in every sense.” That is a “disservice” to lynching victims. This bill isn’t, and Paul needs to get out the way of its passage.

  122. says

    A Week in America on Right-Wing Radio

    On Monday evening, as police in riot gear attempted to quell protests across the country, Mark Levin reassured his listeners they are not the problem.

    “Our system is not ‘systemically racist.’ We have one of the most tolerant, beneficent societies on the face of the earth,” the conservative radio host said. It was one week after the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police, and mere hours after federal officers in the District of Columbia charged a crowd of peaceful protesters to facilitate a presidential photo-op. Levin was focused on a different threat: “This idea that we can become a more perfect union if we just embrace democratic socialism, if we just embrace more centralized government, is absurd. Absolutely absurd.”

    Levin surely knows that the protests that have erupted across the country have nothing to do with socialism and everything to do with accumulated outrage over inequitable policing and a system of justice that too often treats black lives as disposable. He and other prominent radio personalities on the right have loudly and unequivocally condemned Floyd’s murder.

    What Levin’s brain has not been able to countenance, however, is the idea that the killing was anything but an isolated tragedy. Systemic racism? “I will not accept that there’s systemic racism in America. You know, the American people pretty much get along. They really do,” Levin said. Police abuse of power? “I’m quite tired of the notion that bad cops or bad people generally are illustrative of or representative of the group as a whole.”

    OK, but what about what happened to the protesters in Lafayette Square? “I think the time has come, ladies and gentlemen, to put down this insurrection. ’Cause that’s what it is,” Levin said, all but asserting that the unrest has been stage-managed by radical leftists. “It’s not just antifa. There’s other groups involved in this too. And their agenda is not an agenda of unity and peace. So it’s absurd when people say, ‘The president just needs to speak to unity and peace and conciliation.’ There’s an insurrection going on here. Of sorts. And I think the American people are getting pretty damn tired of this.”

    Mark Levin does not speak for the American people. But he does speak to a lot of them. The Mark Levin Show is consistently one of the most popular radio talk shows in the nation. Night after night, in tones alternately somnolent and hysterical, Levin expounds on the central thesis of the right-wing mediasphere in the late Trump era: that the only systemic oppression in America today is the targeting of conservatives by the liberal elite. The events of the past week have done nothing to throw this calcified worldview into question, either on Levin’s show or on any of the other conservative radio shows that consistently top ratings in markets across America. To the contrary, the death of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide outrage have only served to reinforce this deathless and unfalsifiable narrative of conservative victimhood.

    “We are not going to be defined—I’m not going to mention his name—by this former bad cop. That doesn’t define white America!” Levin said. […]

    On Tuesday, May 26—the day after Floyd was killed—I sat down to listen to a week of the country’s top conservative radio programs. (Though ratings for specific shows are hard to pin down, I picked five of the most prominent terrestrial radio hosts and left out more digital-native ones like Ben Shapiro, who has a radio show that began as a podcast.) Though I watch a lot of Fox News for Slate, the truth is that right-wing talk radio has a far bigger footprint than does Rupert Murdoch’s cable network. There are more right-wing radio hosts, for one thing, on stations all over the country—and listeners spend more time with them. At the end of 2019, Nielsen estimated that Americans spend 12 hours per week listening to the radio: double the amount of time they spend watching television. Talk radio is the top radio genre, and conservative talk is the top talk genre.

    My goal was to see how these programs were covering the nearly 3-month-old coronavirus crisis. That’s not the crisis America ended up most consumed by during my weeklong tour of the AM dial. It is, however, the crisis we began with, and the ways in which right-wing radio got from there to here while managing to stay on message nearly all the while were instructive, ridiculous, and sadly typical. […]

    Last Tuesday, Limbaugh’s lecture concerned how liberals had allegedly extended the coronavirus crisis in order to sabotage President Donald Trump. “For healthy people, COVID-19 is essentially the flu. Experts were spectacularly wrong,” Limbaugh asserted, noting that, by enacting statewide quarantines (which were put in place by Democratic and Republican governors alike), liberals “drove America’s economy into the ground and it was an excuse to destroy Donald Trump. The coronavirus was going to finish what Obama’s deep state started.” Key to their foul plan was forcing Americans to wear “worthless” masks, which, according to Limbaugh, are “simply a symbol of fear, anyway, that is now in the Democrat Party arsenal.”

    This all sounds incredibly stupid until you filter it through the dominant right-wing radio grievance narrative. It sounds stupid after that, too, but it’s at least easier to parse. Limbaugh’s aim is to convince his listeners they are under attack by people who do not share their values […] These attackers include the media, “the professoriate,” liberals in general, public health officials, blue-state governors, and many people of foreign extraction. When pronouncing Dr. Anthony Fauci’s surname, Limbaugh repeatedly assumed a mocky Italian accent. […]

    Later that night I tuned in to Levin, who makes up in bile what he lacks in charm. Though Levin’s show is cut from the same cloth as Limbaugh’s—aging white dude soliloquizing for three hours about his interesting opinions—it is dyed in a different pattern. […]

    Levin’s show is oddly hypnotic. He begins very slowly, as if he is literally just waking up, only to accelerate quickly and loudly with little prelude. “The Democrat Party is at war internally with the United States,” Levin began, and you could almost hear him yawn at the sentiment he has expressed so many times before. The most recent front, he said, is the COVID-19 noncrisis. Like Limbaugh, Levin argues that the Democrats exaggerated the danger of the coronavirus in order to tank the economy and sabotage Trump. Unlike Limbaugh, Levin seemed personally affronted by the Democrats’ wacky adherence to public health advice. “We knew the death rate that was being put out originally was bogus. Why?” he asked. “Because I followed the science. I FOLLOWED THE SCIENCE!” […]

    Much more at the link, including a look at Sean Hannity’s fuckery, at Bill O’Reilly, at Dana Loesch, at Michael Savage, etc. “Are you telling me we don’t have a civil war going on in this country? Are you telling me the left isn’t a foreign nation to most Americans? Well, I would disagree with you. We’ve been in [a civil war] since 1967, when the hippies invaded the media, the hippies invaded the universities.”

  123. tomh says

    In win for Texas GOP officials, federal appeals panel blocks lower-court decision to allow any Texan to vote by mail
    By Amy Gardner, June 4, 2020

    A federal appeals panel Thursday rejected a lower-court decision to allow any Texas voter afraid of contracting the coronavirus to cast a mail-in ballot, a case with far-reaching implications for this year’s election that could end up at the Supreme Court.

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that it was up to the state, not the courts, to determine how to administer voting during a pandemic…

    Judge Jerry E. Smith, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, wrote the 5th Circuit’s opinion. The other two judges on the panel were James C. Ho, an appointee of President Trump, and Gregg J. Costa, an appointee of President Barack Obama…

    Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) celebrated the decision, claiming that “allowing universal mail-in ballots, which are particularly vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters…”

    The attorney general also said that mail-in balloting is allowed in Texas only “to aid those with an actual disability or illness.” He did not explain why he supports the law’s inclusion of all Texans age 65 and older.

  124. John Morales says

    tomh, from your quoted text:

    The attorney general also said that mail-in balloting is allowed in Texas only “to aid those with an actual disability or illness.” He did not explain why he supports the law’s inclusion of all Texans age 65 and older.

    Perhaps he did; if age 65 and older is equated to an actual disability or illness, it follows.

    (But then, the USA is gerontocracy at the top levels)

  125. Trickster Goddess says

    Warning for the video at link: the sound of the man’s head hitting the pavement is sickening

    Buffalo police officers suspended for pushing 75-year-old to ground during protests

    Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, have been suspended without pay after a video showed them pushing a 75-year-old man to the ground, as protests over the police killing of George Floyd continued into their tenth night.

    Footage taken by a reporter from a local public radio station and posted online showed the unidentified man approaching a line of officers in riot gear. One officer pushes him with a baton and a second one with his hand. The advancing police line halts when a loud crack is heard as his head hits the pavement and blood could be seen trickling from the man’s head.

    The incident drew widespread condemnation as protesters returned to the streets of several US cities to demonstrate against police brutality.

    “I was deeply disturbed by the video,” Buffalo mayor Byron Brown said in a statement. “After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening.”

    New York state governor Andrew Cuomo said the incident was “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful”, adding: “Police Officers must enforce – not abuse – the law.”

    Warning: the footage below contains graphic scenes.

    Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT)

    This video is equally graphic and has a horrific sound when the 75-year-old man falls. In other footage, blood streams from his ear as one officer after another walks by him and doesn’t help. Men in military fatigues were the first to kneel near him.
    June 5, 2020

    The video in Buffalo shows the majority of the officers march past after the man falls, though the officer who pushed him with a baton starts to lean over him before he is motioned away by another officer. Someone is heard calling for a medic.

    The radio station, WBFO, reported that two medics came forward and helped the man into an ambulance. Police later said that a man was injured after tripping and falling, the radio station said.

    But after viewing the video, Buffalo police commissioner Byron Lockwood ordered an investigation and suspended the two officers, Brown said.

    The 75-year-old victim was in stable but serious condition at Erie County medical center hospital in Buffalo, Brown said.

  126. blf says

    This is just the beginning, I promise you: an open letter to Donald Trump (quoted in full; this is rather well written, so I have refrained from my usual commentary-by-typesetting, e.g., no eejit quotes or snarky-[sic]s, excepting in the Grauniad-added text):

    The US president’s [sic] racism is so blatant he may be an unwitting catalyst for overdue cultural change all over the world

    Dear President Trump,

    I realise this is an extremely busy time for you between games of golf and tweeting but I hope you may be boosted by a rare and welcome thank you letter from a black man at such an inconvenient moment in the history of the United States of America.

    While all of those “animals” are rioting and looting in the streets over something as petty and unimportant as justice and equal human rights for black people and who, for some ridiculous reason, seem to be upset at police “doing their jobs” by applying a little too much physical pressure in apprehending yet another black citizen who subsequently died in their custody — I realised no one has thanked you for the wonderful work you are doing.

    Keep it up!

    I’m sure a man of your vast intellect may think my sentiment is tinged with a hint of sarcasm but I can assure you my gratitude is genuine, for you have unwittingly become the most influential US president in the history of that great country for all the wrong reasons.

    Thank you for being so open and forthright in your evil attitude and lack of care towards the black population you preside over.

    Thank you for not pandering to the “politically correct” and even pretending you have any empathy towards anyone who doesn’t look like you or share your outdated, disgraceful, disturbing views on society.

    Thank you for showing us anyone can become president (even you!) and showing us the way forward by (unintentionally) inspiring us to instigate lasting change, not just a peaceful protest backed up by empty clicks of support on social media. This is just the beginning. I promise you.

    Thank you for shining a spotlight to people around the world who have been sadly unaware of your country and the state it has been in for hundreds of years, and for outing the racist, hateful, bigoted and violent people who not only voted for you but have held the cultural key to an unjust, corrupt and fundamentally prejudiced society and system from the conception of the USA, built on the genocide of Native Americans and the slavery and incarceration of millions of black people.

    Thank you for giving us a tangible, symbolic enemy (yourself and your Make America Great Again minions) against which people now have fuel to organise, strategise and mobilise a long-lasting movement and process to change our planet for good.

    These problems have been here throughout my lifetime and generations before me, and as a black man my biggest pain, anguish and dejection has come not only by witnessing these atrocities committed repeatedly against my people, but actually the lack of shock and vivid desensitisation built up over the years while hearing (and sadly believing) that “things won’t change”.

    Before you, we had presidents who turned a blind eye to this, who didn’t do nearly enough and were too busy working to fulfil the wishes of corrupt corporations who had lobbied them into power. The difference is they were media savvy and clever enough to say the right thing in public and show just enough fake sympathy in response to these human rights violations to pacify the growing numbers of people who inherently knew there had to be change.

    Through your open hatred, indifference and disregard towards a people subjugated by physical, economic, mental and emotional abuse for more than 400 years you have unwittingly created a movement where increasing numbers of people from all creeds and colours around the world are discussing and debating the most constructive way to fight back together. We now understand we have to fight this injustice on a systemic level; protests are not enough.

    You are the wolf in wolf’s clothing we’ve needed for years rather than your predecessors who posed as sheep.

    You are the reason why my daughters — who are US citizens[] — ask me: “Why does the president hate black people?”

    You are the catalyst for our future generations to impact lasting change not only to your corroding country but countries all over the world, including here in the UK.

    You truly mirror the views and ideology of a group of people we must and will overcome.

    For that Mr President, I sincerely thank you.

    Liam Rosenior

      † Mr Rosenior is a (recently retired) professional soccer player in the UK, and since he was born in London, is presumably a UK citizen.

  127. says

    Update to Lynna’s #144 above – Guardian – “New York Times says senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed did not meet editorial standards”:

    The New York Times has issued a mea culpa over the paper’s decision to publish an op-ed by the Republican senator Tom Cotton entitled: “Send in the troops”.

    The decision to run the piece, which advocated for the deployment of the military against protesters rallying against police brutality toward black Americans, drew widespread criticism. Dozens of Times journalists voiced their opposition, noting that inciting a heavy-handed response to the protests put black journalists, and people of color more broadly, in danger.

    Times publisher AG Sulzberger initially defended the decision, saying the paper was committed to representing “views from across the spectrum”.

    James Bennet, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, also defended the piece, saying in an essay on Thursday: “Readers who might be inclined to oppose Cotton’s positions need to be fully aware of it, and reckon with it, if they were to defeat it. To me, debating influential ideas openly, rather than letting them go unchallenged, is far more likely to help society reach the right answers.”

    But in a remarkable reversal on Thursday evening, the paper issued a statement saying the piece fell short of its editorial standards.

    “We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,” said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman. “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an op-ed that did not meet our standards. As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds we publish.”

    The decision follows a substantial backlash by staff members. Many spoke out on Twitter on Wednesday following the initial publication, posting the same message: “Running this puts Black @nytimes staffers in danger.”

    The New York NewsGuild called the decision to publish Cotton’s piece “an irresponsible choice”, noting that “invoking state violence disproportionately hurts Black and brown people. It also jeopardizes our journalists’ ability to work in the field safely and effectively.”

    On Thursday, more than a dozen employees at the Times also called in sick.

    The protest at the newspaper came as staff at the Philadelphia Inquirer also called in sick over the newspaper’s decision to use the headline “Buildings Matter, Too” on an architecture article, a choice considered tone deaf and insensitive to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Inquirer has since apologized for a “horribly wrong” decision….

  128. says

    Here’s a link to the June 5 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    So much about countries around the world opening up while cases continue to rise. I’m dumbfounded.

    Moscow Times – “Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Approach 450K”:

    Russia confirmed 8,726 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 449,834.

    New infections have been steadily dropping since mid-May when officials were reporting daily increases of around 11,000 cases.

    Officials say Russia’s high virus count is the result of mass testing and that a steady decline in new infections and its low fatality numbers mean the country can begin to return to normal.

    Yet critics have cast doubt on the numbers, accusing the authorities of under-reporting deaths and threatening a new wave of infections by lifting restrictions.

    Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s pandemic with around half of the country’s total cases, on Monday eased a nine-week lockdown allowing shops to reopen and residents to leave their homes for short walks.

    Putin was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday to discuss proposals to restart an economy badly hit by lockdown measures and a sharp fall in oil prices.

    “Steadily dropping” is a bit of an exaggeration. The number of new cases per day has been hovering around 10,000 for weeks. For several days, it was around 11,000, and for the past week or so it’s been around 9,000, which is still a very high number.

  129. says

    Portland Press Herald editorial – “Our View: To President Trump: You should resign now”:

    President Trump: We’re sorry that you decided to come to Maine, but since you are here, could you do us a favor? Resign.

    You have never been a good president, but today your shortcomings are unleashing historic levels of suffering on the American people.

    Your slow response to the coronavirus pandemic has spun a manageable crisis into the worst public health emergency since 1918.

    We are also in the middle of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. There is no national strategy to recover from the shock that is disproportionately affecting people who were already struggling to make it.

    And in the face of the worst civic unrest since 1968, with millions of Americans in the streets protesting systemic racism, you fan the flames.

    In just the last week you gleefully tweeted about shooting fellow citizens; you goaded governors into escalating violent situations so they don’t “look like jerks;” and you authorized the use of rubber bullets and tear gas to clear peaceful protesters out of a public space so you could pose for a Bible-waving photo-op.

    These are just a few examples of why you lack the character, maturity and judgment to lead our country in this perilous time. You should resign.

    We have to agree with you on one point: You were right to skip making an address to the nation as other presidents have done in times of national emergency.

    You correctly concluded that you have nothing to say that would make the situation better. When what’s called for is compassion, clear vision and a commitment to lead, you are out of ammo.

    But bringing the nation together in times of distress is a big part of the job when you are head of state. You can’t do it, so you should resign.

    As head of government, you have unmatched power to direct resources to relieve suffering. You can’t or won’t do that, either, so you should resign.

    And in your mistreatment of lawful protesters and abuse of religious symbols, you have violated your oath to protect and defend the Constitution, so you should resign.

    Your supporters will no doubt say that this is an election year, and it should be left up to the voters to decide whether you deserve to stay in office.

    But ask yourself – can this country take five more months like the last five? You are a president supported by a minority of the people, and your only path to victory in November is to further divide the nation. This campaign could do even more lasting damage than you have done already.

    America needs to heal again. Please resign now, and let us begin.

  130. says

    From Maddow last night:

    “Unidentified, Armed Federal Troops Raise Accountability Concerns”:

    Rachel Maddow looks at the disturbing development in Washington, D.C. in which federal police are amassing with insignia, badges, nameplates or other identifying markings, risking confusion for civilians but also raising questions about what is behind the creation of this force.

    “Schmidt: Trump, Barr Building ‘Thugocracy’ With Secret Police”:

    Steve Schmidt, former senior Republican strategist, talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump putting Bill Barr in charge of an unmarked collection of federal police.

    YT videos at both links.

  131. says

    Aaron Rupar livetweeting Trump’s speech:

    Trump’s ad libs about medical science continue to make no sense


    Trump to governors of states where protests are still happening: “I hope that you also use our National Guard. Call me, we will be ready with them so fast their heads will spin.”

    “We went into a ventilator period the likes of which nobody has seen since the second World War” — Trump is out here just incoherently rambling on about any and all topics

    TRUMP: “We built a tremendous thing, a tremendous power platform. So when it got ill, when we had a problem, we were able to cut it off, stop it, just like this, stop it. Keep everyone inside. Keep em away. Keep em together, away, uninfected. And we saved millions of lives.” #wut

    Trump is more than 15 minutes deep into one of his most incoherent rants. Get a load of how many different topics he touches upon in this one clip. He had no remarks prepared and so we’re just getting a stream of consciousness.

    Trump to governors: “Don’t be proud. Get the job done. You’ll end up looking much better in the end. Call in the National Guard. Call me. We’ll have so many people — you have to dominate the streets. You can’t let what’s happening happening. It’s call ‘dominate the streets.'”

    Trump on George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis cops: “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘this is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ This is a great day for him.”

    TRUMP: “Today is probably, if you think of it, the greatest comeback in American history.” (The unemployment rate is 13.3 percent)

    Trump has now been ranting and raving for more than a half hour, nonstop

    Trump, sweating profusely, can’t remember what an RV is called

    Trump on Covid: “If you have diabetes, or you have a bad heart — it’s like a magnet. They say if you’re heavy — so I say, thank goodness I’m in perfect shape — but if you’re heavy it’s not good.”

    Trump claims no president has accomplished more than him (lol), then lists among his accomplishments Veterans Choice legislation that was actually signed into law by President Obama in 2014

    In response to a question from @Yamiche, Trump suggests his plan to solve systemic racism is to have a good economy. As she tries to follow up, he admonishes her, “you are something.” [She is a black woman. – SC]

    I have to take my baby to a doctor checkup now but suffice it to say that Trump’s 40+ minute rant was a bizarre spectacle

    Even Mia is like WTF

    Video clips at the link.

  132. tomh says

    In giant yellow letters, D.C. mayor sends message to protesters, and to Trump
    By Fenit Nirappil, Julie Zauzmer and Rachel Chason
    June 5, 2020 at 8:58 a.m. PDT

    D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed the street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” on Friday and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

    The actions are meant to honor demonstrators who are urging changes in police practices after the killing in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, city officials said…

    Local artist Rose Jaffe said she and others joined city work crews to paint the giant slogan, starting around 4 a.m.

    The art will take up two blocks on 16th Street NW, between K and H streets, an iconic promenade that leads directly north of the White House.

    Shortly after 11 a.m., a city worker hung up a “Black Lives Matter Plz NW” sign at the corner of 16th and H streets NW. Bowser (D) watched silently as onlookers cheered and the song “Rise Up” by Audra Day played from speakers.

    “In America, you can peacefully assemble,” she said in brief remarks to the crowd…

    “There was a dispute this week about whose street it is, and Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear whose street it is and honor the peaceful demonstrators who assembled Monday night,” said John Falcicchio, the mayor’s chief of staff.

  133. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The UK became the second country to officially record more than 40,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, as health officials said another 357 people who had tested positive for the virus have died.

    So far, 40,261 deaths due to the virus have been recorded, giving the UK the world’s second-highest pandemic death toll behind the United States.

    The actual Covid-19 death toll is widely considered to be higher as the total only includes those who have tested positive for the virus.

    According to the department of health, 1,650 more people were recorded as testing positive for the coronavirus, pushing the country’s total caseload up to 283,311.

    On Friday, leading medics and scientists called on the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to order a public inquiry to prepare Britain for a second wave of the coronavirus this winter, warning that many more will die unless the country improves its response.

    Police in Paris cited ongoing health risks related to the coronavirus pandemic as they banned a demonstration against police brutality planned to take place outside the city’s US embassy on Saturday, Reuters reports.

    Trouble broke out at another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday. Thousands had turned up despite a police ban on the event in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation which some have likened to Floyd’s death.

    A protest was similarly blocked in Australia.

  134. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The politicisation of the coronavirus crisis and the Brazilian government’s deliberate “torpedoing” of social distancing efforts has condemned South America’s largest country to a historic tragedy that will most punish the poor, Brazil’s most respected medical voice has said, writes Tom Phillips, the Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, in Rio de Janeiro.

    As Brazil’s death toll surpassed that of Italy, Drauzio Varella told the Guardian that historians would be unkind to president Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing international condemnation for his handling of the pandemic.

    “I think history will ascribe to him a level of guilt that I really wouldn’t want for myself,” said Varella, an oncologist, author and broadcaster who is a household name thanks to decades of public health activism.

    Only two countries, the US and the UK, have lost more lives, and Brazil seems poised to overtake the latter. Brazil has confirmed 615,000 cases, second only to the US.

    “Because in Brazil we are already the third country in the world in terms of deaths, we will soon become the second, and we are going to come close to the level of mortality in the US, which has 330 million citizens – that’s 60% larger than Brazil’s population,” predicted Varella.

    “The situation couldn’t be worse. It just couldn’t.”

  135. says

    Trickster Goddess @154, you can also hear on the video an onlooker saying, “You’ve got a fucking linebacker pushing an old guy over!” That’s a fairly accurate description.

    Even 75-year-olds who are in good shape for their age may not have great balance. The man who fell did not have the balance nor the reflexes to recover from a hard shove.

    He’s in the hospital, but there is no guarantee that he will recover at all.

  136. says

    blf @155, I’ve been thinking myself that Trump is so unremittingly awful, (on all levels), that he may finally be the catalyst we need to make progressive changes. Thanks for posting that.

  137. says

    CNN – “White House turns press corps into social distancing props”:

    Members of the White House press corps became the latest political prop in President Donald Trump’s quest to reopen the country on Friday.

    The White House set up press seats for a Friday event in the Rose Garden, which was billed as a news conference, though Trump ended up taking no questions from reporters.

    The folding chairs were originally placed six feet apart, just like they have been since April, in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

    News crews took photos of the set-up, then left the Rose Garden, and were brought back in several minutes later.

    Sometime in between, White House staffers clustered the chairs together much more tightly, with approximately one foot between each seated reporter.

    Visually it was back to business almost as normal, pre-pandemic, without social distancing, despite ongoing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control to take precautions.

    The president seemed to like what he saw.

    “You’re getting closer together, even you, I noticed,” Trump remarked to reporters. “I noticed you’re starting to get much closer together. Looks much better.”

    But the White House staffers set up the seats — not the White House Correspondents’ Association. Some journalists and news executives were privately outraged by the bait and switch.

    White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said he made the decision to move the seats.

    “It was my decision. It looks better. I would remind you that those in the pool are tested, everyone is temperature checked, and asked if they have had symptoms,” he told CNN in an email.

    The event was open to other reporters who had not been tested because they were not in the pool — the small, rotating group of reporters covering the President each day. There have been many cases of asymptomatic spread nationally, and it’s possible to spread the virus before one begins exhibiting symptoms.

    The Trump administration’s own CDC guidelines maintain that social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus.

    It appeared that the White House was using the press corps as human props to send a message that social distancing is no longer necessary — something the President is insisting, as well, as he seeks to fill a packed arena for the Republican National Convention.

    “This is a flagrant violation of CDC guidelines on social distancing and a move that puts reporters at risk for the purpose of turning the press corps into a prop for a so-called ‘press conference’ where the president refuses to answer a single question,” WHCA president Jon Karl said in a post on Twitter.

    Here’s a thought: don’t fucking go along with it.

  138. says

    Two videos and a picture from DC today.

    NEWS: the corner of 16th and H Streets NW, right by St. John’s Church and immediately north of Lafayette Square, has been symbolically renamed ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ by @MayorBowser. This was the scene of @realDonaldTrump’s photo op on Monday.

    Remember: this is not the first time D.C. has symbolically renamed streets. The last one was Boris Nemtsov Plaza right in front of the Russian Embassy. He was a good-government activist and opponent of President Putin.

    I am told the street renaming and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ paint on 16th Street was pulled together ‘quickly’, mostly within the last 24 hours. The painting was an initiative from @DCDPW and started at 4 a.m. with assistance from city muralists.”


  139. says

    Follow-up to comments 161 and 169 (SC and blf).

    Indifferent to conditions, Trump picks the wrong time to celebrate

    Those waiting for Trump to add the obligatory “there’s plenty of work still to be done” line were left wanting. He pretended that happy days are here again.

    Donald Trump has several bad habits, but among the most macabre is the frequency with which the president speaks for the dead. Apparently convinced that he’s qualified to serve as the Medium in Chief, Trump likes to periodically point at the sky and report on how the deceased are feeling about earthly developments.

    [He] has done this with such unnerving frequency that the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank got a whole column out of the phenomenon last summer, noting, “The next time you are about to ridicule something seemingly foolish that President Trump has said or done … be forewarned: He has supernatural powers. He sees dead people. He doesn’t just see them. He talks to them and relays their thoughts back to the living.”

    Trump kept this going again this morning, drawing a connection between the new jobs report and the George Floyd, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

    Trump spoke nearly an hour and only briefly mentioned Floyd…. The president otherwise touted an economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that has disproportionately affected black Americans. “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Trump said. “This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.”

    MSNBC’s Chris Hayes noted soon after, “[Trump] really pointed up to the sky and said today’s jobs report marks a great day for a dead man killed by police.”

    Well, sure, when you put it that way — which is to say, accurately — it doesn’t sound great.

    But it’s also worth emphasizing the larger context: the United States has the second highest unemployment rate of the last 80 years; the death toll from the pandemic is nearly 109,000 (and climbing); countless protestors have taken to the nation’s streets to condemn racial injustices; and Donald Trump thought it’d be a good idea to host a celebration in the Rose Garden. […]

    What’s more, even putting aside the politics, there are real economic risks to consider. It’s obviously good news that the latest jobless rate wasn’t higher, but there’s nothing good about a 13.3% unemployment rate.

    There’s now reason to believe the economic rescue package, largely written by congressional Democratic leaders, has had a beneficial effect. But Republicans looking at today’s BLS report and feeling a sense of complacency have it backwards: policymakers opened a spigot and prevented an even more severe economic collapse, but tightening the spigot now, with the unemployment rate still ridiculously high, could prove disastrous.

    […] the jobs report looked great because some of the workers who were temporarily laid off in April went back to work in May. But the economy didn’t actually add jobs, and the number of Americans who were told they were terminated got quite a bit worse.

    And yet, there were Republicans this morning, both on Capitol Hill and in the White House, suggesting there’s no longer any need for lawmakers to approve another economic aid package. As Stephen Moore put it, the job numbers take “a lot of the wind out of the sails of any phase 4 — we don’t need it now.”

    Republicans are now convinced the nation needs less of what worked. It’s a tough position to defend.

    Right. And those Republican dunderheads are determined not to help state, county and other local level governments with financial aid. State, county and city governments are already laying people off … and a LOT more of that is going to happen soon.

  140. says

    Well, this looks like a recipe for confusion and chaos:

    The AP reported overnight that the Republican National Committee is moving forward with plans to conduct the official business of the party’s national convention in Charlotte. Donald Trump, however, will apparently accept the Republican nomination somewhere else.

    And where, pray tell, will the president accept his party’s nomination? The same AP report added, “Republican officials visited Nashville on Thursday and plan to tour other major cities in the coming days. The RNC’s top considerations to host Trump include Orlando, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; New Orleans, Dallas and Phoenix.”

  141. says

    Cuomo Now Admits He Was Wrong To Downplay NYPD’s Excessive Use Of Force

    Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) dramatically walked back his previous defense of the New York Police Department during a press conference Friday, admitting that video evidence documenting the excessive use of force to contain protests is verifiable and “undeniable.”

    Cuomo’s Friday admission was a significant reversal from his remarks just a day earlier. When asked by reporters on Thursday about instances of police abuse — documented en masse in online videos that show police officers shoving and bludgeoning protesters, journalists, and passersby with batons — Cuomo instead accused the media of launching a partisan attack. He then admonished New Yorkers for showing “disrespect” for police.

    “Police bludgeon peaceful protesters with batons for no reason? That’s not a fact,” Cuomo said Thursday. “They don’t do that. Anyone who did do that would be obviously reprehensible if not criminal.”

    The governor pulled up a different set of facts during his Friday press conference when he flashed a video clip of a 75-year-old man in Buffalo, New York being pushed to the ground by police.

    “These are undeniable situations,” adding that he had spoken to the mayor of Buffalo and they agreed the officers involved should be immediately suspended.

    Cuomo’s reversal on Friday comes after he swatted away questions earlier this week about graphic video footage collected from multiple sources that showed officers throwing demonstrators to the ground, beating passersby on bicycles and demonstrating an overwhelming show of force to constrain and dominate protesters.

    New York Times reporter Ali Watkins captured the aftermath of what she described as undue force used by officers who charged at protesters.

    “More later, but this is a moment after cops, unprompted as far as I can tell, charged protestors, including a sheltered group of nurses and medics trying to tend to bleeding, injured people who got struck by batons. They had just called an ambulance.” […]

    From Scott M. Stringer, NYC Comptroller:

    The penalty for protesting after curfew is not to be beaten senseless by the police.

  142. says

    Law enforcement seizes mask shipments intended to keep protesters safe from COVID-19

    The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), an affiliate of Black Lives Matter, spent tens of thousands of dollars producing cloth masks imprinted with “Stop killing Black people” and “Defund police” to provide to protesters around the country, masks that were seized by law enforcement before they even left the post office, HuffPost reports. The Oakland-based organization received a notice from the U.S. Postal Service that its first four shipments of 500 masks each—bound for Washington, St. Louis, New York City, and Minneapolis—had been seized. […]

    To be clear, we don’t know what law enforcement agency seized M4BL’s masks. But you can be damned sure that the BLM-monitoring by law enforcement hasn’t been curtailed in the Trump administration. The United States Postal Inspection Service has not yet responded to requests for more information from the press. All that M4BL and Movement Ink know is that the tracking numbers associated with their shipments say “Seized by Law Enforcement.”

    “Police have rioted coast to coast, beating and gassing protesters who have called for an end to police violence, with the explicit approval of President Trump,” Chelsea Fuller, a spokesperson for the M4BL,” said in a statement to HuffPost. “Now, it appears they want to ensure that people who protest are susceptible to the same deadly pandemic that they have failed miserably at stopping. […] The continued surveillance and disruption of social movements under this administration is as chilling as it is dangerous. It should be roundly condemned.”

    Movement Ink has been in business since 2009, and touts its background in “organizing, violence prevention and youth advocacy work [and] investment in impacting and contributing to our community.” Quinonez told HuffPost that he and his family stayed up late producing the masks that were seized. “We’re tired, but we’re going to try to rally some support and figure out how to replace these masks and how to support the movement,” he said. “This isn’t a weapon. It’s more about safety. We’re trying to figure out how to keep our community safe.”

  143. says

    More details regarding police violence in Washington D.C: and other areas

    […] what happened most notably on Thursday evening was that in multiple locations police used curfews as an excuse to come after nonviolent protesters with violence of an extraordinary, and in many cases sickening, degree. The images left behind were of genuine riots—police riots—and an incident that may be the very definition of “depraved indifference.”

    Warning: For those triggered by violence, there are no safe images, no safe videos, no acceptable moments to be found below. The violence displayed in each of these moments is at a level that would earn an R-rating for any film, and of a nature that would never be broadcast on the many television programs featuring “hero cops.”

    In some locations, the police didn’t even wait for curfew to provide an excuse before launching into civilians with a level of violence and brutality that absolutely underlines the need for massive, systematic change in law enforcement. […]

    But it wasn’t all violence. There were moments of cooperation … like this moment when a Salem, Oregon officer takes aside a group of gun-toting white supremacists to warn them before they start gassing everyone else. […]


    See also:


    More at the link.

  144. says

    Email evidence shows Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson lied when he claimed that HUD hadn’t changed policy regarding DACA recipients.

    […] Carson went in front of legislators to try to debunk reports that the Trump administration had been denying government-insured home loans to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, claiming: “No one was aware of any changes that had been made to the policy whatsoever. I’m sure we have plenty of DACA recipients who have [Federal Housing Administration]-backed loans.”

    That—in a long tradition of Trump administration officials appearing under oath before federal lawmakers—was a lie. BuzzFeed News reports that emails obtained by watchdog group Democracy Forward through the Freedom of Information Act show HUD “made a specific internal decision by August 2018” to block DACA recipients from these loans. “That decision was communicated to staff during an internal credit policy conference call on Aug. 30, 2018,” the report said.

    […] in late 2018 that DACA recipients and their advocates said they were being denied loans after having been eligible in previous years. […]

    “The newly obtained emails show that HUD officials were telling lenders not to approve FHA-backed loans from at least early 2018,” BuzzFeed now reports, “and that they had made a specific decision by that August to use an employment authorization category that only applies to DACA recipients to justify excluding them, though it’s not clear why that category was considered disqualifying.” This isn’t the first time administration officials have made a deliberate decision to single out DACA recipients just to be hateful assholes.

    Earlier this year, Education Sec. Betsy DeVos blocked DACA recipients and other undocumented students from billions in emergency funds that the department received to assist students just like them with expenses ranging from child care to housing during the novel coronavirus pandemic. […]


  145. says

    Julia Davis in the Daily Beast – “Russian Gloating About U.S. Unrest Is Racist as Hell”:

    America’s heartbreak brought considerable joy to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but the gloating also exposes the deep ugliness of his regime.

    Russian reporters covering protests on American soil appear to sympathize with the protesters, but state media reports for domestic audiences tell an entirely different story.

    War correspondent Dmitry Steshin authored a despicably racist article for the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, purporting to give advice to the American protesters. His mockery of the ongoing protests in the United States made references to “muscular criminal Negroes,” described “twerking” as the “national Negro dance,” recommended the use of amphetamines, and called for blood, with as many deaths as possible.

    While the article itself is a disgusting display of the casual racism that is very prevalent in Russia, Steshin went even further when he posted the same graphic material on his social media account. Steshin entitled the post “Kindly Advice to the Negroes of Minnesota and the United States” and urged: “Beat the whites until they turn black.”

    But most revealing of all about Kremlin attitudes: the offensive material was shared in its entirety by none other than Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-funded propaganda networks, RT and Sputnik.

    This approach lies at the heart of the Kremlin’s information operations against the United States. While the English-speaking offshoots of Russian state media outlets appear to side with the plight of the American people, domestic reporting twists it into grotesque propaganda that serves only the interests of the Putin regime.

    Russia’s 60 Minutes provided another glimpse into a typical session of U.S.-bashing, when host Evgeny Popov blatantly lied, saying: “Russia doesn’t have such levels of poverty as the United States,” then claimed, “Russia doesn’t have any cities the police cannot enter. Not one. I can name at least ten such cities in America. Ten no-go cities for the police, which they can enter only in APC’s (Armored Personnel Carriers) and fully armed.” Needless to say, he cited no examples.

    Instead of siding with the protesters, Russian state media focused on the benefits Trump may be able to reap once he is able to crush the uprising. Political scientist Vladimir Kornilov suggested, “It would be better for Trump to wait it out—just not too long—to terrorize a significant part of the society; 83 percent of the Minnesotans are white, a great majority. That’s why he should wait it out, to create fear and terror. And then he can ride in on a white horse as someone who will restore order. That will be very important for him right now, especially in light of the economic difficulties.”

    “This is to Trump’s benefit,” concurred Sergei Markov, a political consultant to the Kremlin.

    So, while the United States of America is reeling from escalating outrage and violence, on the Russian state TV show 60 Minutes, deputy of the State Duma Aleksey Zhuravlyov rejoiced: “This is an excellent situation. Because they’ve declared my country an enemy.”

    Indeed, while Trump has tried repeatedly to cozy up to Putin, what we’re seeing in America now is what the Kremlin has wanted for a long time. Back in 2018, appearing on Russia’s state TV show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, deputy dean of world politics at Moscow’s State University, Andrey Sidorov, complained: “Unfortunately, Trump didn’t reach the level of Abraham Lincoln and didn’t drive the U.S. to civil war. That’s sad. Hopefully, he’ll become Herbert Hoover and at least drive them into a Great Depression.”

    Vladimir Soloviev…played clips depicting U.S. police abusing the protesters. He commented: “Watch the way American cops are acting, for anyone who ever had any complaints about our police.”

    Anticipating a goldmine of anti-American propaganda, Russian state TV has dispatched multiple reporters to cover the protests in the United States, up close and personal….

    Since last year when U.S. President Donald J. Trump suggested inviting Russia to participate in a future G7 Summit—without demanding or extracting any concessions—Russian experts and pundits believe that a reset is within reach. (This year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to attend the G7 scheduled for June in the U.S., forcing Trump to postpone the meeting even as he claimed the group is passé.)

    The prospect that all or most of the sanctions might be lifted during Trump’s second term overrides the Kremlin’s periodic dissatisfaction with the course that is being charted by the current administration. So in spite of their poorly concealed irritation with the unpredictable showman who has his finger on the nuclear button and is floating the idea of renewed nuclear testing, pro-Kremlin pundits, experts and government officials are still rooting for Trump, not least, the agent of America’s internal chaos.

    Whether or not the turmoil stands to benefit Trump’s re-election prospects, it most certainly serves as a handy distraction from Russia’s own problems—from dwindling human rights and growing dissatisfaction with the Putin regime, to the crumbling economy hit by the oil slump and the heavy toll of the coronavirus. Appearing on Russia’s 60 Minutes, MP Aleksey Zhuravlyov summed up the pro-Kremlin point of view about the unrest in the United States: “I couldn’t care less who’s playing whom. What’s important is that it doesn’t happen here.”

  146. says


    BREAKING: The North Carolina Supreme Court just ruled the repeal of the Racial Justice Act — which allowed proof of racial bias to be considered in death penalty cases — unconstitutional.

    The death penalty in our country stems from the legacy of lynching. It is impossible to separate it from racism.

    Good, if confusingly worded, news.

  147. tomh says

    Citing an economic emergency, Trump directs agencies across government to waive federal regulations
    By Steven Mufson, Juliet Eilperin, Jeff Stein and Renae Merle
    June 5, 2020

    The Trump administration is doing by fiat what it has struggled to accomplish through lengthy rulemaking — dismantling federal regulations designed to protect workers, consumers, investors and the environment.

    Invoking an economic “emergency” stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the administration has made it harder for people to challenge inaccuracies on credit reports, eased required breaks for commercial truckers and told factories and power plants that, while they should obey pollution limits, they do not have to monitor or report their emissions routinely — among other things.

    President Trump formalized this strategy two weeks ago when he signed an executive order instructing agencies across the government to rescind, modify or simply stop enforcing regulations if they burden the economy. On Thursday, he signed another order to allow agencies to waive 50-year-old environmental laws to speed federal approvals of pipelines, highways and other projects.

    The moves come on top of waivers that federal agencies had already granted businesses and industries earlier in the health crisis. The White House will seek to make many of those roughly 600 deregulatory actions permanent…

  148. says

    Wajahat Ali:

    I appreciate the NYT listening to its employees, especially people of color, & suggesting the work culture will change. In that spirit, let me tell how many live in fear of the “Bret Stephens Policy.” So many have been contacted by editors because Brett has whined or complained.

    This is so common there’s now a community of us writers & editors whom Bret has narced on bc he was upset they were critical of one of his many terrible takes. We usually get contacted by a high ranking editor & given a warning or told to be mindful of the social media policy.

    He has even emailed the masthead complaining about fellow editors or writers. As a result many walk on eggshells when it comes to him. There’s a simmering resentment and feelings of a very real double standard. People fear for their jobs so remain quiet. This is not just a few.

    A writer who recently joined told me during the orientation and social media overview there was a carve out dedicated to Bret Stephens. I’m saying this because so many people want to but were afraid to go on record. I’ve never met the man and have nothing again[st] him personally.

    But if we are serious about changing the work culture then this has to be addressed. So many have wanted to speak out on the record but are afraid for their jobs. That tells you everything you need to know. I respect my editors and writers and love writing pieces for the NYT.

    There are so many good writers and reporters and editors there who really care and put in the time and effort and listen. It’s important for you all to know that.

    Writers and journalists have now messaged me saying this thread was “brave.” No, I should have spoken out earlier. I am not salaried like others. If I lose opportunities, so be it. Still, I hope it leads to change ACROSS the media landscape. People are tired.


    From one of the “wokes” who is about to be a “40+ liberal.”

    Update: I want people to know I have received support for this thread from NYT editors and writers. People are listening and want to be part of the change.

  149. John Morales says

    Bit of a follow-up:

    In a video that went viral on Thursday, officers in the city of Buffalo, New York, were seen shoving an elderly man to the ground.

    The 75-year-old was seriously injured, and taken to hospital.

    All 57 officers in the riot squad have now reportedly quit in protest at their two colleagues’ suspension.

    According to the Buffalo News, the members have quit the Emergency Response Team, but not the police department.

    John Evans, president of the local police union, told the newspaper: “Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square.

    “It doesn’t specify clear the square of men, 50 and under or 15 to 40. They were simply doing their job. I don’t know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards.”

    So, yeah: “Simply following orders”, “simply doing their job”. Good job, there.

  150. johnson catman says

    re John Morales @192: I hope all of the officers who quit the riot squad turned in their riot gear.

  151. John Morales says

    johnson catman,

    Anyone who is opposed to ANTIFA is, by definition, pro-fascist.

    Logically speaking, that’s not true. I concede that, in practice, that’s not a bad heuristic.

    (Specifically, it’s the fallacy of the excluded middle; for example, one could be anti-fascist yet opposed to their willingness to employ violence)

  152. says

    Here’s a link to the June 6 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    In Russia, 197 more people have died with coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s official death toll to 5,725.

    There were 8,855 new cases of the virus, according to officials, pushing the total number of infections to 458,689.

    It comes after it emerged earlier this week that new mortality data from Russia’s second-largest city reignited questions about whether the country’s official tally has discounted thousands of deaths tied to the coronavirus outbreak.

    St Petersburg issued 1,552 more death certificates this May than in the previous year, a nearly 32% rise indicating that hundreds of deaths tied to the pandemic are not reflected in the city’s official coronavirus death toll for the month of 171.

    Update to #165 above:

    More from the Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney, which saw thousands take to the city’s streets to protest.

    Aerial footage shows demonstrators snaking through the Australian city as at least 2,000 people marched on the ‘Stop All Black Deaths in Custody’ rally.

    It was declared an authorised public assembly minutes before its scheduled start time of 3pm, after a court ruling was overturned.

    Thousands of protesters are marching in cities and towns across Australia against indigenous deaths in custody and the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

  153. says

    AJ – “Bolsonaro threatens WHO exit as Brazil’s coronavirus toll soars”:

    Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to pull his country out of the World Health Organization (WHO) after the United Nations agency warned governments about the risk of lifting lockdowns before slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.

    “I’m telling you right now, the United States left the WHO, and we’re studying that, in the future,” Bolsonaro told journalists outside the presidential palace on Friday. “Either the WHO works without ideological bias, or we leave, too.”

    Bolsonaro has followed a similar script to the US president in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, downplaying its severity, criticising state authorities’ stay-at-home measures and touting the purported effects of the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

    His threat to leave the WHO came shortly before Brazil announced that its death toll from the coronavirus had risen above 35,000, the third-highest in the world behind the US and the United Kingdom.

    In an editorial running the length of newspaper Folha de S Paulo’s front page, the Brazilian daily highlighted that just 100 days had passed since Bolsonaro described the virus now “killing a Brazilian per minute” as “a little flu”.

    “While you were reading this, another Brazilian died from the coronavirus,” the newspaper said.

    On Thursday, Brazil’s Health Ministry reported that confirmed cases in the country had climbed past 600,000 and 1,437 deaths had been registered within 24 hours, the third consecutive daily record. Authorities reported another 1,005 deaths on Friday night, but Bolsonaro continues to argue for quickly lifting state isolation orders, arguing that the economic costs outweigh public health risks.

    Bolsonaro’s dismissal of the coronavirus risks to public health and efforts to lift state quarantines have drawn criticism from across the political spectrum in Brazil, where some accuse him of using the crisis to undermine democratic institutions.

    But many of those critics are divided about the safety and effectiveness of anti-government demonstrations in the middle of a pandemic, especially after one small protest was met with an overwhelming show of police force last weekend.

    In Latin America, the virus has now infected more than 1.1 million people.

    While Brazil and Mexico are seeing the highest rates of new infections, the pandemic is also gathering pace in countries such as Peru, Colombia, Chile and Bolivia.

    Most Latin American leaders have taken the pandemic more seriously than Bolsonaro, but some politicians who backed strict lockdowns in March and April are pushing to open economies back up as hunger and poverty grow.

  154. says

    Guardian – “Tory MP attended lockdown barbecue with journalists”:

    The Tory MP spearheading efforts to promote the Covid-19 contact-tracing app trial on the Isle of Wight appears to have broken lockdown rules at a barbecue also attended by the chairman of the Brexit party and political journalists, the Guardian has learned.

    Bob Seely went to the evening gathering hosted by the Spectator magazine’s deputy editor, Freddy Gray, in the village of Seaview on the island last month. Richard Tice, the Brexit party chairman, and his partner, the political journalist Isabel Oakeshott, were also there.

    Seely said he was unaware others would be present when he arrived for a meeting, and that at all times social distancing was followed.

    At the time, there was strict guidance against groups mixing from different households or people visiting and entering another person’s home, with the health secretary stipulating that that included gardens.

    Seely, who has been a strong advocate of the government’s coronavirus app being trialled on the island, attended the barbecue with his partner. He has pushed the government’s stay-at-home message, as well as highlighting warnings against people visiting second homes. In March, Seely urged new visitors to the island to self-isolate for at least a week, adding: “We need to do what we can to make sure our NHS is not overwhelmed.”

    Tice and Oakeshott did not deny their attendance and made reference to testing their eyesight – an apparent nod to the reason given by the prime minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, for driving to a beauty spot during lockdown.

    Oakeshott is thought to have been staying last month at her nearby apartment in Seaview, a second home which she purchased in 2018. Government rules have stated that people must remain in their primary residence, specifying that essential travel does not include visits to second homes.

    Gray’s wife was also present at the gathering on Friday 22 May, as well as his family.

    Gray told the Guardian: “You’ve busted me. I did invite Bob over to discuss the app – since we had had a falling out over the article I had written. I did not, however, tell him that it would be a massive rave in the garden involving children flagrantly eating barbecue food, champagne and a baby being flung around.

    “Bob didn’t stay long. I apologised for having caused him distress with my app article and he said no hard feelings. We talked about a follow-up piece on how the app was performing, as I moved on to white wine. Bob didn’t drink – though I believe he may have eaten one or possibly two sausages.”

    Asked for comment about his attendance at the gathering and to explain the purpose of his visit to the Isle of Wight, Tice said: “I have followed the prime minister’s advice to wash my hands, stay alert, maintain social distancing and test my eyesight when appropriate.”

    Oakeshott said: “I work on the Isle of Wight all year round. It is where I go to write. I have stayed alert, washed my hands regularly and, as always, enjoyed my time on this paradise isle. Now and again I’ve also tested my eyesight, which seems to be in good order. Along with the rest of the nation, I am delighted at the recent decriminalisation of barbecues.”…

    More atl. The arrogance.

  155. KG says

    The arrogance. – SC@198

    The message couldn’t be clearer, could it? “We’re the elite, rules are for you little people.”

  156. says

    G liveblog:

    The British home secretary Priti Patel has urged protesters in the UK not to gather for Black Lives Matter and George Floyd demonstrations during the pandemic.

    “We are in a health pandemic across the United Kingdom, and coronavirus is a deadly virus, and of course I’d say to those that want to protest: ‘Please don’t,” Patel said in an interview with broadcaster Sky.

    “We must put public health first at this particular time,” she added.

    Dutch mink farms have begun a government-ordered mass cull amid concern that animals infected with coronavirus could transmit the illness to humans.

    Infected mink have been found on ten Dutch farms where the ferret-like animals are bred for their fur, according to the country’s Food & Wares Authority, Reuters reports.

    “All mink breeding farms where there is an infection will be cleared, and farms where there are no infections won’t be,” said spokeswoman Frederique Hermie.

    The government ordered the cull of 10,000 mink on Wednesday after determining that affected farms could act as a long-term reservoir of disease.

    Dutch mink were first infected with coronavirus by their handlers in April.

    In May, the government identified two cases in which humans had been infected by sick animals – the only animal-to-human transmissions known since the global outbreak began in China.

    Infected mink don’t necessarily develop signs of disease, making them potential silent sources of the pandemic virus, said Arjan Stegeman, a veterinary epidemiologist at Utrecht University who is investigating the outbreak, according to Bloomberg.

    The cull involves farm workers in protective clothing using gas on mink mothers and pups. The bodies will be sent to a disposal plant and the farms will be disinfected.

    Groups opposed to the fur trade say the outbreak is another reason to close all farms.

    “We are calling for the 24 countries around the world that still allow mink farming to very rapidly evaluate the situation and evidence coming out of the Netherlands,” said Clair Bass, executive director of the Humane Society International.

    The group says China, Denmark and Poland are the largest mink producers, with 60 million killed annually for their fur.

    According to the Dutch Federation of Pelt Farmers there are 140 mink farms in the Netherlands, exporting 90 million euros ($101.56 million) worth of fur a year.

    Federation spokesman Wim Verhagen said the cull was “very hard for farmers to accept” as few infected animals show visible signs of sickness. The government is compensating affected farmers.

  157. says

    HuffPo – “As They Scream Voter Fraud, Trump And His Press Secretary May Have Voted Illegally”:

    Even as they both attack the idea of voting by mail, President Donald Trump and his new press secretary may have voted by mail illegally, using residential addresses on their registrations that were not their residences.

    Kayleigh McEnany cast Florida ballots in 2018 using her parents’ address in Tampa, even though she lived in Washington, D.C., and held a New Jersey driver’s license. Trump cast a Florida ballot this year using a business address in Palm Beach, where he had promised the town government he would not live.

    “If Florida is not really your primary residence, then it’s inappropriate for you to be registered as a voter in Florida,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a fellow at the Brennan Center and a professor at Stetson University in Florida.

    McEnany did not respond to HuffPost queries about either her or her boss’s voter registration discrepancies. Providing false information on a registration in Florida is a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.

    Trump made a show of moving to Florida last year and used the state’s vote-by-mail option to cast his ballot in the March presidential primary. He registered to vote using his Mar-a-Lago resort as the “address where you live” – even though he signed an agreement with the town of Palm Beach nearly three decades ago promising that it would not be used as a private residence.

    “It’s illegal,” Reginald Stambaugh, a Palm Beach County lawyer involved in a dispute over a dock Trump recently tried to build at Mar-a-Lago, said of Trump’s voter registration.

    Trump tried to claim 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the location of the White House in Washington, as his legal residence on Sept. 27, 2019, but that registration was rejected by Palm Beach County elections officials. His revised form filed a month later gives the Mar-a-Lago address. Both require a signature affirming that the information provided is true. (Trump confused matters further this week when he declared on a conference call with governors: “I live in Manhattan.”)

    Under the Aug. 10, 1993, agreement with Palm Beach, first reported by The Washington Post, Trump received permission to turn the estate he had bought in 1985 into a social club, but only after promising it would not be used as a residence. The agreement specified that the club could not have any more than 10 guest suites, that they could not be advertised or available to the public, and could not permit its members to use them more than 21 days in a given year.

    “The use of guest suites shall be limited to a maximum of three (3) non-consecutive seven (7) day periods by any one member during the year,” the agreement states.

    Florida law does not allow a place of business, including a social club, to be used as a residence for the purpose of registering to vote.

    “I think he just forgot what he promised,” Stambaugh said. “Now it’s incumbent on the town of Palm Beach and the people of the state of Florida to remind him that Mar-a-Lago is not the appropriate residence for him to vote.”

    McEnany defended her own choice to vote using mail ballots because she was not in Florida at the time, but did not address why she did not vote in places where she happened to be living.

    “Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason. It means you’re absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person,” McEnany last month told the Tampa Bay Times, which first reported her extensive use of mail ballots through the years. “President Trump is against the Democrat plan to politicize the coronavirus and expand mass mail-in voting without a reason, which has a high propensity for voter fraud. This is a simple distinction that the media fails to grasp.”

    Daniel Smith, a voting rights expert at the University of Florida, said McEnany’s statements about voting are filled with hypocrisy.

    “Florida doesn’t have absentee voting, we have vote by mail,” Smith said. “We don’t use the term absentee. One does not need to have an excuse or be absent to vote by mail. So it’s not just for people like her who may be temporarily out of Florida.”

    Trump and McEnany are not the only White House officials attacking mail voting while using it themselves. Top aide Kellyanne Conway ― who last month said that if people could wait in line an hour to buy designer cupcakes, they should also be able to wait in line to vote ― nevertheless cast her own New Jersey ballot in the 2018 midterm by mail.

  158. says

    (Minneapolis) Star Tribune – “Florida attorney seeking probe of Derek Chauvin’s voting record”:

    A Florida attorney wrote a letter Friday to a state prosecutor alleging that the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd while in police custody had voted illegally in Florida in 2016 and 2018.

    Derek Michael Chauvin, 44, is listed as having property in both Oakdale, Minn., and Windermere, Fla. On Friday, Dan Helm, a Florida attorney and candidate for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, asked Orange County State Attorney Aramis Ayala to prosecute Chauvin for violating the state’s election laws when he voted in Florida elections. Helm said the violation is a third-degree felony.

    Orange County, Fla., voting records list Chauvin as an active voter and affiliated with the Republican Party of Florida.

    In an e-mail Friday, Helm told the Star Tribune that he checked the county’s voter file after learning Chauvin had property there. “When I learned he voted here to influence our elections, while living in Minnesota, I was outraged,” said Helm, who described himself as active in voter protection efforts in Florida.

    Eric Nelson, an attorney for Chauvin, declined to comment on Friday and the Orange County State Attorney was not immediately available for comment.

    Helm alleges that because Chauvin lived, worked and presumably paid taxes in Minnesota during the 2016 and 2018 elections, he could not claim residency in Florida, thus making him ineligible to vote in the state.

  159. says

    SC @183 and 186. Putin and his Russian propaganda media networks have good reasons to gloat. They are getting everything they want. Trump is destroying NATO and the USA from the inside. We’ll see that Russian, racist propaganda reused on social media, on Trump’s new favorite network (OANN, One America News Network), and by rightwing media of all sorts. Disgusting developments.

    In other news: Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman Privately Reached Out To Dem Leadership This Week

    The nation’s top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, spoke privately with congressional leaders and many other lawmakers as Pentagon officials came under fire for the military’s role in containing protests following the police killing of George Floyd.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to express her concerns on Tuesday, according to two people who were not authorized to publicly discuss the private conversations and were granted anonymity. That was the day after authorities cleared protesters near the White House so President Donald Trump could hold a photo opportunity at a nearby church. Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were sharply criticized for accompanying Trump and thereby giving the impression of endorsing a politicization of the military.

    Milley also reached out Tuesday to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, said another person granted anonymity to discuss the situation. A third official said Milley had spoke with perhaps 20 or more members of Congress in the days following Monday’s photo op and Trump’s implicit threat to invoke the Insurrection Act to permit him to use federal troops in a law enforcement role in the nation’s capital and in other cities.

    The outreach comes as Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have tried to contain damage in the aftermath of Monday’s walk with Trump. Federal authorities used smoke canisters and pepper balls to clear peaceful protesters from a park so the president and his entourage could walk to the church and Trump could pose with a Bible.

    Late Friday, Esper and Milley declined a request from Democrats to appear before the House Armed Services Committee next week.

    “This is unacceptable,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the committee chairman, said in a statement Friday, joined by the panel’s 30 Democrats.

    “Our military leaders are sworn to be accountable to the people of this country, and Congress is constitutionally responsible for oversight,” the Democrats wrote. “They must appear and testify on these crucial matters in order to meet that responsibility.”

    An informal briefing Friday with the secretary of the Army was also canceled, according to a congressional aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that had not been publicly disclosed.

    The White House has prohibited officials from the administration from testifying before the House unless they have cleared any appearances with the White House chief of staff. […]

  160. says

    Trump spent a morning bragging about an unemployment rate of 13%, but it was actually 16%

    Remember all the way back to Friday morning when Donald Trump strolled out to bask in the warm glow of an unexpected drop in the May unemployment rate? According to the jobs report issued on Friday morning, unemployment across the nation fell from 14.7% in April, to 13.3% in May. That makes unemployment merely a third higher than it was at the peak of the Great Recession. Trump was so excited by this outcome that he declared he wanted to buy “one of those trailers, what are they called?” and drive around the country with Melania. It was “the greatest comeback in American history.” In fact, it was so good that “George is looking down right now and saying: ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ This is a great day for him.” Yes, Trump really said that.

    So … funny thing. The actual jobs report appeared later in the day and it did say that the unemployment rate was 13.3%. But it also said that the BLS and the Census Bureau were investigating a “misclassification error” around workers sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic. The truth is that the actual unemployment rate was around 16.3%.

    The problem was that the the surveys used for the jobs reports polled employers about jobs and put a large number of people into the category of being absent from work for “other reasons.” In this case, the reason was that companies had shut down or cut back because of the pandemic and related impacts. However, that category of “other reasons” is normally used for workers who are essentially taking some uncategorized form of leave. It’s used for people who are on jury duty or taking personal time off to deal with a family crisis. These people are still counted as being employed.

    But in this case, that same category was used for people who had genuinely been let go due to the downturn caused by the COVID-19 crisis. […]

    Had the unemployment rate actually declined to 13.3%, it still would have been a horrible number that was indicative of an economy struggling to cope with the sudden impact of the pandemic and a the bungled federal response. But that rate was illusory. The actual rate of 16.3% shows that the economy is still in serious trouble, and that the “rocket ship” of recovery Trump bragged about on Friday was science fiction … minus the science.

    None of this means that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is intentionally mangling the numbers to please Trump. It simply means that this is an extraordinary situation in which the conventional categorizations of what it means to be employed or unemployed are being strained. It also means that Trump definitely should not have been in a hurry to rush out and deliver an 82 minute incredibly discursive discourse. But it doesn’t mean he can’t have an RV. He definitely should climb into an RV … and just keep driving.

    Oh, and he should just keep George Floyd’s name out of his mouth.

  161. says

    tomh @198: “Citing an economic emergency, Trump directs agencies across government to waive federal regulations.”

    On Friday Trump said the coronavirus pandemic was “largely over.” (A thousand people per day are still dying from COVID-19, and tens of thousands are found to be carriers of the disease. The number of cases in many western states are still climbing.) But, now that Trump has declared the pandemic is “largely over,” why is he using it as an excuse to nullify environmental regulations? (Rhetorical question.)

    Some commentary from Mark Sumner:

    […] Back in April, Trump began using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to roll back regulations of all kinds. That included eliminating enforcement of safety standards on job sites. It meant allowing coal mines to operate without effective supervision. It meant suspending regulations on business that were “an absolute invitation to wage theft.”

    It also meant simply telling companies to pollute away, as the EPA would be taking something of a holiday on environmental regulations. Because nothing says taking a public health crisis seriously like letting companies know they can dump anything they like into the air and water.

    Oddly enough, now that Trump has declared the pandemic largely over, announced that the economy is a “rocketship,” and stated that things will only get better from here, he is … using the pandemic as an excuse for still more regulatory slashing. As The Washington Post reports, this includes telling power plants that no one is going to monitor their pollution, but it also includes some other changes that are sure to make American life more … interesting. […]

    This is also apparently the right time to take away regulations that truckers can only go so far in a day and must take regular rest breaks. It’s understandable that there are concerns about the distribution system, and there have been multiple stories about farms dumping produce on the ground. But the first thing that leaps to mind when it comes to finding solutions should probably not be “let’s allow guys driving a 40-ton vehicle at high speed blast down the road no matter how tired they are.” At least, not if those guys are expected to share the highways with anyone else. […]

    The overall effect of these changes are not trivial. They’re also not temporary. Trump’s new executive order completely overturns regulations that gave local communities some control of projects that can be built in their areas. The new executive order means that not just environmental groups, but residents around proposed projects, tribes whose land is directly affected, and basically anyone in the way of a destructive extraction industry like mining, logging, or drilling now has little to no options. Trump’s order takes the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, which was meant to protect communities and give both locals and outside groups a say in permitting of large projects, and shreds all enforcement.

    It’s also worth noting that one of the reasons this law was enacted wasn’t so much about the environment as it was race. This same law is the one that allowed communities of color to stand up for the first time against projects that would pollute their areas, or block federal highways that would cut through their neighborhoods.

    Somehow, it doesn’t seem like the right moment for Trump to be removing that protection.


  162. says

    Occasionally, even rightwing legislators realize that Trump is wrong.

    Liz Cheney blasts Trump move to draw down troops in Germany: ‘Dangerously misguided’

    Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) slammed […] Trump’s decision to draw down troops in Germany, warning the decision was “dangerously misguided.”

    “This is a dangerously misguided policy. If the United States abandons allies, withdraws our forces, and retreats within our borders, the cause of freedom—on which our nation was founded & our security depends—will be in peril,” Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House and a top foreign policy hawk, tweeted Saturday.

    The rebuke comes after Trump directed the Pentagon to send 9,500 troops home from Germany, which would bring the total stationed there down to 25,000.

    A defense official told The Wall Street Journal the plan, which was ordered by national security adviser Robert O’Brien, has been underway since September and is not related to rising tensions between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    “… not related to rising tensions between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel” … Yeah, right. I suspect a lie is being promulgated here.

    […] Democrats have come out in force against the withdrawal, saying it could further strain relations with Berlin and pave the way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to have more sway in Europe.

    “This order is petty and preposterous. It’s another favor to Putin and another leadership failure by this Administration that further strains relations with our allies,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

    “Vladimir Putin must be delighted that the American president is gutting our own deterrent against Russian aggression in Europe. And the President’s insulting dismissal of one of our most important relationships because of a personal vendetta confirms that he lacks moral leadership, respect for our allies, and understanding of our national security interests,” added Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

  163. says

    Yep, it is now all but a done deal. “Joe Biden now has the delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.”

    He’ll officially become the party’s presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August.

    […] Biden, who has been the presumptive Democratic nominee since Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out on April 8, earned the last few delegates he needed to reach the 1,991-delegate threshold for nomination following primary races in seven states and the District of Columbia Tuesday. He now has 1,995 delegates with eight states and three US territories still left to vote.

    “It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded — and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party,” Biden said in a statement Friday evening. […]

    Biden will officially be nominated at the Democratic National Convention, which was originally scheduled to be held in mid-July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — however, the pandemic forced the party to reschedule for the week of August 17. He won’t be able to use general election funds until his nomination is made official at the convention.

    The Biden campaign, along with the Democratic National Committee, raised $60.5 million in April, the last month for which reported data is available. The fundraising haul brought them close to even with the Republican National Committee and […] Trump’s fundraising efforts for that month, although the Republicans have a massive ($255 million to Biden’s $97.5 million) cash-on-hand advantage. […]


  164. says

    From Wonkette:

    If there is any way in which the Left has a certain amount of privilege, it is that when we wish to cite examples of right-wing terrorism, we do not have to go back 50 years in order to do so. We have all the material we need in very recent history. […]

    We’ve also got piles of current right-wing extremist groups to reference: the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Boys, various militias, III%’s, American Identity Movement/Identity Evropa, Atomwaffen Division, Patriot Front, and, of course, classics like the KKK and the League of the South. There are many more than that. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center lists 940 right-wing hate groups operating in the United States right now. […]

    Alas, when people on the Right want to talk about left-wing terrorism, they either have to totally make shit up about “antifa” or they have to literally go back 50 years. Or 110 years, to the Los Angeles Times bombing, if they want to come up with the last time anyone was purposely killed in an act of left-wing terrorism.

    This could be why on her show last night, Laura Ingraham invited author and former FBI agent (and current nut) Terry Turchie to discuss The Weather Underground and their enduring influence. Yes. The Weather Underground. A group that disbanded in 1976, and which Turchie claims was responsible for over 2,000 bombings. They were not, for what it is worth, responsible for over 2,000 bombings. That is ridiculous.

    […] The gist of this interview was to establish that the Weather Underground also opposed police brutality, which means that basically anyone who thinks police brutality is bad is a member of the Weather Underground and loves bombing things. Also dethroning God. […] everything that is happening right now is a long con set in motion by the Weather Underground back before many of us were born. […]

    What was their strategy? Their strategy was resistance. Not too long, maybe 5 minutes after […] Trump won the election in 2016, Democrat Party leaders came out and said we’re going to resist. We’re going to embark upon a strategy of resistance of the President. […]

    Turchie then explained, ever so helpfully, that the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers collectively invented police racism and systemic racism in order to tear America apart and dethrone God. […]

    basically, what they think is going on is that the Left tells people who are not victims that they are victims, and then those people just go along with them, even though they have never been victimized and everyone, especially in the 1960s, is treated equally and fairly by everyone else, most certainly by police. And the reason they do that is because … communism? Is it communism? Or the dethroning of God? Or just general evil […]

    Frankly, this is a terrible strategy. We are not very good supervillains. If we were really smart and were really dedicated to enacting all of our nefarious dethroning plans, we’d go after people with the most power. Yeah! We’d convince rich people, white people, Christian people, men, and most specifically rich, white, Christian men that they are the real victims here. Get them riled up, scared, tell them that immigrants are coming to replace them, that gay people were gonna make their marriages less special, that women were gonna falsely accuse them of rape, that Muslims were gonna force them to follow Sharia Law, that some rich foreign Jewish person was going around paying people to not like them, that scientists made up a whole pandemic just to take away their freedom for a few months and, probably, that black people are making up racism and police brutality just to hurt them and ruin their lives.

    That’s what we’d do if we were really trying to fuck shit up. […]


  165. says

    From Wonkette:

    Oh no, lamentations, teardrops and fiddlesticks, Joe Biden made a gaffe with his gaffe machine, which is his mouth. […] What did Joe Biden say? Did he somehow seem to suggest George Floyd is probably having a celebration in Heaven today because of a really tremendous jobs report?”

    No, that was Donald Trump.

    Joe Biden just said some people suck, but not even as many as Hillary Clinton said, when she said half of Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables,” which was a severe misunderestimationism on her part.

    […] according to our back of the napkin math, about 62.9 million people voted for Trump, as opposed to 65.8 million, almost three million more for Hillary Clinton. So if you divide Trump’s number of voters in half and put that half in the basket of deplorables, you get 31.45 million people who suck.

    Meanwhile Joe Biden! Well, we will let the New York Times tell you, because the Times is like “OMG! We are for shocked and appalled! This is almost as bad as the time Hillary Clinton had a Hotmail and Joe Biden had a son named Hunter! Maybe we should get Tom Cotton to write an op-ed about sending the troops to declare wars on Joe Biden!”

    “Biden Says about ’10 to 15 Percent’ of Americans Are ‘Not very Good People'”

    […] if we are to fairly assess it like an expert journalist of the caliber of, say, Chris Cillizza. If it’s 10 to 15 percent of Trump voters, then that is way less than the 31.45 million deplorables Hillary Clinton identified and placed into a basket. On the other hand, it does kind of sound like he said “there are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people,” and it sounds like that because it’s an exact quote.

    So, America has about 329 million people. That means according to Joe Biden’s math, somewhere between 32.9 million and 49.35 million Americans fucking suck. We are sorry, but we are still not seeing how this is not a severe misunderestimationism. […]

    Let’s go with context.

    It was an event about racism, a virtual town hall discussion with black supporters, moderated by very cool actor Don Cheadle. Wanna watch a clip? […]

    [See the link for the clip]

    BIDEN: The words a president says matter. So when a president stands up and divides people all the time, you’re gonna get the worst of us to come out. The worst in us all to come out.

    [If a president] constantly talks about equality, without lecturing, talks about and has an administration that looks like the country […] it changes attitudes. And it’s about the attitude of the country. Do we want our kids — do we really think this is as good as we can be as a nation? I don’t think the vast majority of people think that.

    There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people. But that’s not who we are. The vast majority of people are decent. We have to appeal to that, and we have to unite people, bring them together.

    Wow, that’s all just true. And if you take what he says literally, it sounds like he means the vast majority of people, including people who voted for Trump last time, are decent people. We kept waiting for him to say something terrible, but it didn’t come.

    And how do we know that? Because we took the time to listen to the whole thing for ourselves, instead of being intellectually dishonest assholes.

    To be clear, the Times article, if you actually read beyond the headline, isn’t complete garbage, and other outlets are also reporting on this. But it’s pretty garbage, because of how that’s literally the headline, and how it’s being framed as a gaffe, when it wasn’t remotely that. Also we see no reason to be nice to the Times right this particular moment. […]


    So, the New York Times published a misleading, anti-Biden headline … again.

  166. says


    Trump Retweets Interview Trashing George Floyd’s Character as He Breaks Own Twitter Record

    […] Trump retweeted a video of an interview in which conservative activist Candace Owens blasted George Floyd’s character. In the interview with Glenn Beck, Owens said that it “sickens” her that Floyd “has been held up as a martyr.” In the tweet of the interview that Beck shared, the radio host said that whatever Floyd did doesn’t matter because the “officer should have never treated him like that and killed him!” But in the interview Beck questioned Floyd’s past. “This is a guy with a very long record and a very long criminal record,” Beck said. […]

    Beck asked Owens whether Floyd is “the symbol of black America today.” Owens responded affirmatively, saying that he is “a symbol of black America today” and the “broken culture” that no one wants to talk about. “The fact that he has been held up has a martyr sickens me. George Floyd was not a good person. I don’t care who wants to spin that,” Owens said. […]

    Trump’s retweet of the video came hours after he had declared that it was a “great day” for Floyd. “Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Trump said as he celebrated a surprisingly strong jobs report. “This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.” […]

    The retweet of Beck’s interview with Owens came on a day in which the president broke his Twitter record as he posted 200 tweets and retweets in one 24-hour period. If the tweets had been evenly spaced out throughout the day, it would have meant the commander in chief sent a tweet or a retweet once every seven minutes and 12 seconds.[…]

  167. says

    From Kerry Eleveld:

    […] Trump is a top-down, zero-sum simpleton presiding over a country in the midst of a people-powered moment of civic unrest and social change. Americans of varying races, backgrounds, and socioeconomic status are demanding reforms to our justice system that have been left unaddressed since our nation’s founding. Rather than engage in that dialogue, Trump’s natural instinct is to meet the passionate pleas rising up from the streets with the brute force of autocratic oppression. But the result is a ham-handed photo op that will almost surely become the defining moment of Trump’s presidency.

    After Attorney General Bill Barr ordered federal officers to forcibly clear peaceably assembled protesters from the park outside the White House, Trump shuffled across the street to hoist an upside-down Bible over his head in front of a church that had been given no warning it would soon become a tool of Trump’s propaganda.

    […] pathetically comical. Trump, assisted by the country’s top law enforcement official, physically endangered a throng of civilians exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights so that he could execute a shambolic display of his mental, emotional, and intellectual unfitness to lead.

    Trump’s acts of desecration were aided not only by Barr, but also by the nation’s secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, and the military’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, who instead of donning a dress uniform usually worn to the White House, showed up in combat fatigues—as if he were headed for battle.

    […] Trump is in crisis. […] Trump’s incapacity to lead is now being propped up by the twin forces of both the military and civilian law enforcement.

    […] Barr has giddily embraced the opportunity to portray the streets of the nation’s capital as a war zone, “flooding the zone” with thousands of armed, unidentifiable forces. […] But it’s not order, it’s chaos. In effect, anyone could show up in fatigues with a firearm and claim to be part of Barr’s federal force. […]

    For his part, Barr has tried to pin blame for the mayhem on the leftist group antifa. But Barr has also provided zero evidence for his assertion and, in fact, a leaked FBI report found no support for the idea that antifa inspired any of the violence that rocked Washington D.C. last Sunday.

    […] the Department of Justice has given the Drug Enforcement Administration authority to “conduct covert surveillance” of people participating in the protests over the killing of George Floyd.

    But so far, the efforts by Trump and Barr don’t appear to be resonating with the broader public.

    Support for the Black Lives Matter movement is up. [Graph at the link]

    Trump’s approvals are tending down. [Graph at the link]

    Trump’s electoral prospects are so dismal, in fact, his campaign is basically manufacturing skewed polls and leaking them to the press to keep Trump from having an aneurysm. The national head to heads between Trump and Joe Biden have been terrible this week, showing Biden up anywhere between 7 and 11 points, […]

    Trump is flailing disastrously. Unfortunately, the nation will continue to pay the price for his incompetence. In the coming weeks, Trump and Barr will surely double down on their efforts to wreak havoc in America because Trump can’t possibly win reelection in any normal political environment.

    The good news is, the retired generals of America have finally come down on the side of democracy in full force. Trump may never be able to recover from the assertion by Mattis, his own former Secretary of Defense who spent some 50 years in the service, that’s he’s a clear and present danger to the republic.


  168. says

    An apology from Fox News? That’s rare.

    Fox News Apologizes For Chart Comparing Stock Performance After Killings Of Black Men

    Fox News host Bret Baier tweeted out a statement of apology from the network after it was dragged for airing a chart that compared stock market reactions to the historic and ongoing killings of black men.

    The network said the graphic “should have never aired on television without full context.”

    […] the chart, which compared how the stock market reacted to the killing of black men throughout history and major events surrounding their deaths — like Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the Rodney King verdict.

    The graphic was displayed on Fox News Friday night during Baier’s show, “Special Report With Bret Baier.” Baier at one point turned the broadcast over to Fox Business reporter Susan Li when the graphic appeared with the label: “S&P 500 PERCENTAGE CHANGE ONE WEEK AFTER EVENT.”

    “Stock markets hitting new height despite the protests this week. Historically, there has been a disconnect between what investors focus on and what happens across the rest of the country,” Li said during the segment.

    Excerpts from comments posted by readers:

    Context? CONTEXT? The full context is that this was intended propaganda for Fox News consumers. It’s not just a depraved graphic; it’s the mindset behind creating such things for their viewers.
    When things like this happen I wonder how it went through the whole chain of approvals it had to get to air without someone saying, “Are you fucking crazy?”
    And the equivalent graph with stock market reactions to white-collar perps receiving slaps on their wrists?
    ‘Without full context’? And what exactly would that be, Bret? Just putting the best face possible on a murder?
    “We forgot to include the week after Kristallnacht. That market just exploded.”
    “full context” would have meant showing the breakdowns as to what components of the market were most effected…military and arms/munitions stocks perhaps?!?
    Full context – killing black men is good for the economy.

  169. says

    Some rightwing groups that encouraged people to bring guns to protests over police brutality have seen their accounts deleted by Facebook. Good.

    Facebook removed nearly 200 social media accounts connected with white supremacy groups that were planning to encourage members to attend protests over police brutality and killings of black people.

    Some of the accounts encouraged members to bring guns to the demonstrations, The Associated Press reported.

    Accounts were removed from both Facebook and Instagram. They were reportedly tied to the Proud Boys and the American Guard, which are considered hate groups under Facebook’s user guidelines and are already banned from the social media platform.

    Officials were monitoring the accounts prior to their removal and removed them after they saw posts attempting to exploit ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died while in Minneapolis police custody.

    “We saw that these groups were planning to rally supporters and members to physically go to the protests and in some cases were preparing to go with weapons,” said Brian Fishman, Facebook’s director of counterterrorism and dangerous organizations policy.

    Facebook did not provide details of the account users or precisely where their plans for protests were located but said “approximately” 190 accounts were removed from the platform.

    The company also announced the removal of a “handful” of accounts earlier this week created by white supremacists who had been pretending to be members of the far-left antifa movement on Twitter. […]


  170. says

    From Wonkette: Medical Supply Company Tosses All Swabs Made During Trump’s Visit. Wonder Why!

    When Donald Trump was first running for president, a whole lot was made about how he was a germaphobe who constantly washed his hands and would not shake hands or touch anybody ever. Now, it seems, he’s gotten over that. While the COVID-19 pandemic has led the rest of us to be more careful about things like that, it has driven Trump to embrace all of the germs and wantonly spread them around himself. Because machismo, I guess.

    He’s even refused to wear masks while touring various facilities producing supplies meant to keep us all safe during the pandemic, […] Yesterday, he toured the Puritan Medical Supply company in Guilford, Maine, and not only did he not wear a mask, he actually took one of the nasal swabs and put it near his nose. Later, he the workers “I shouldn’t tell you this, but I use it every other day.”

    Now, Puritan has announced that they are throwing out all of the nasal swabs they made for testing for COVID-19 while Trump visited. They’re not saying why, but we have our guesses, don’t we.

    This is especially crappy because we actually have a shortage of nasal swabs happening right now, in Maine and elsewhere. Puritan is one of only two companies that even make the swabs, and so really, every swab counts. Having to throw them away so the President can have a photo op kind of sucks! Though on the bright side, at least he didn’t have the entire company teargassed in order to do one this time.

    We have to wonder — who is he even doing this for? And why? The people who voted for him don’t believe that COVID-19 is real, and the rest of us are just annoyed at all those swabs getting thrown out and at him for touring a medical supply company without a mask on. There is literally no audience for this. […]

    I mean, maybe his people like seeing him tour these companies with no mask because it makes them feel like he is busting the balls of all of the people who think COVID-19 is a legitimate threat? Or maybe he thinks they’re going “Wow, he’s so manly he doesn’t even need a mask! His penis is all he needs to keep the viruses at bay! So macho” Is that what’s going on here? I don’t know.

    What I do know is that, really, we could have used those damn swabs.

  171. says

    Humor/satire from The New Yorker:

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Lashing out at critics who have charged him with building a wall around the White House to protect himself from peaceful protesters, Donald Trump claimed on Friday that the purpose of the wall is to prevent staffers from quitting en masse.

    “The wall is not to keep people out. It’s to keep people in,” Trump angrily told reporters. “If anyone thinks he’s going to quit this White House, he’s going to have to climb over a ten-foot wall first.”

    Trump added that he was considering invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to put down further rebellions by the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper.

    “Between the wall and the Insurrection Act, no one is getting out,” he said. “No one.”

    Trump also dismissed reports that he had spent much of the week hiding under his desk.

    “I have been inspecting the area under my desk,” he said. “There are no problems.”

  172. blf says

    This was rather fun to watch (and I’m not too much of a fan of dance), Matthew Bourne’s company perform The Red Shoes from home:

    One of the major dance productions cut short by the coronavirus crisis was Matthew Bourne’s tour of The Red Shoes, his rapturously received version of the Powell and Pressburger film. The UK tour […] has been cancelled. [… I]n the meantime Bourne’s company New Adventures unveiled a special 12-minute film version online […]

    The Red Shoes from Home has been created by the cast of the show during lockdown and they perform among children’s toys in their living rooms, on tables, in gardens and backyards, and in the kitchen. While the original production won acclaim for Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous costume design, the dancers appear in football kit, homemade outfits and, in one case, a couple of towels.


    Video at the link.

  173. says

    @johnson catman 194
    I think what you are seeing is some people trying to turn antifascism into a shadowy villain/group. Instead of acknowledgement of the political disposition that it is they are attempting to create an enemy to fight and focus the government on.

    I’ve started interrogating people paranoid about antifa as a group and demanding to see this group that represents that level of threat. No takers so far, just the typical attempts to shift the burden of proof by shaming me into looking up their claims.

  174. says

    From Susan B. Glasser, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] As always with Trump, there’s an intense element of farce mixed with the fury.

    On Monday, there was a cringe-inducing moment when Trump, having marched across the emptied park, stood awkwardly in front of the church while his daughter Ivanka, in heels and a spangly face mask, extracted the Bible from her oversize white purse, a fifteen-hundred-dollar number from Max Mara.

    The whole affair seemed to have been precipitated at least in part by the President’s fury at being mocked as “#BunkerBoy,” following reports that he had been taken to the White House’s underground bunker on Friday, when protests got heated. On Wednesday, the President admitted in an interview that he had gone into the White House bunker, but claimed that it was “more for an inspection” that had lasted only a “tiny, little, short period of time” which, completely coincidentally, happened to take place during the protests.

    Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, meanwhile, admitted during a press conference that he had not, in fact, thought that he was going to inspect alongside the President a looted toilet when he ended up at Trump’s controversial church photo op, as he had claimed in an interview. This was all before 11 a.m. Wednesday. By early afternoon, Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, announced to reporters with a straight face that Trump’s walk to St. John’s was just like when Winston Churchill toured London during the Blitz.

    Washington has never been a more tragic combination of the menacing and the absurd. There are helicopters and drones overhead and big men in combat fatigues in the streets of the capital. There are thousands of protesters clamoring for action over police abuses and racial inequality. And then there is Trump, bashing CNN on Twitter and claiming, without irony, that he has personally done more for African-Americans than “any President in U.S. history, with the possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln.

    […] Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was “sickened” by the use of security personnel to clear the way for Trump—and that it was a gross misuse of American military might. On Wednesday, Trump’s former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis broke his silence about the President to denounce his “bizarre photo op” and to call the action a violation of protesters’ “constitutional rights.” Trump may be a clown, but he has managed, in the week since Floyd’s killing, to present the world with dystopian images of America as Egypt or Russia or Turkey or any of the other unfree places that we Americans are used to smugly lecturing about freedom.

    Under the cover of the chaos that he is so adept at generating, Trump has made several decisions in recent days that amount to a radical reordering of the international scene, as well as an intimidating show of force at home. On Friday, before his “inspection” of the bunker, he held a press conference to announce that he was pulling the United States out of the World Health Organization, in the midst of the covid-19 outbreak, because he claims that it is too pro-China. On Saturday, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not attend, Trump cancelled the G-7 summit of world leaders that he planned to hold in Washington later this month, called the collection of close U.S. allies “very outdated,” and invited Russia to rejoin the group for a September gathering. Europeans quickly rejected the idea, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Trump ally whose unlikely premiership had been boosted by the American President. Undeterred, Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday morning to formally propose the plan, hours before he announced that he was ordering the U.S. military to Washington to defend his White House from American protesters.

    Inviting Putin to the United States just weeks before the American Presidential election and torching the G-7 alliance at a moment of international economic crisis are no less malevolent acts because they are being carried out by a clown. These past few days have shown, once again, that Trump is in permanent burn-it-down mode. It’s just that he is smashing windows in the way that rich, entitled types do, and the damage will be much harder to fix than broken glass and looted sneaker stores. […]


  175. says

    Putin is getting what he wants. I have this dream that the things we do to fix our society spreads to his though. It would be glorious if our solutions dismantle his manipulation and help Russians. I can’t say it’s organized but I try to make my solutions and arguments things that apply to more than our country.

  176. says

    Trump wanted to deploy 10,000 troops in Washington DC.

    The White House wanted to have 10,000 active duty troops on the streets of Washington and other cities earlier this week to quell protesters, but Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint of Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley pushed back at the use of any active duty troops, according to a senior defense official.

    Esper did move approximately 1,600 active duty troops to be in the Washington, DC, region to respond if needed but the approximately 5,000 National Guard troops already there never needed assistance and the active troops began to leave Thursday night.

    A second defense official said Milley strongly felt the threshold — informally described as dire circumstances — for calling in active duty troops could not be met, opening the door to whether such a potential presidential order would be legal.

    CBS first reported that the White House wanted 10,000 troops. […]

    While the exact discussions with the Democratic congressional leaders have not been disclosed, by Monday night Milley had already had tense words with Trump that active duty military troops against protesters in DC was absolutely not needed despite the President’s threats, several officials confirmed.

    The second defense official said despite a Saturday White House statement of support for Esper, both men remain aware they are at risk of Trump’s ire and there is always the possibility their jobs are at risk. […]
    Both men have also told colleagues they are distressed with the criticism about the walk to St. John’s Church because it became a photo-op with political overtones. When asked if they regret being on the walk, one administration official close to both men answered, “Of course they do.”

    Esper this week told reporters he tries to stay out of political events but knows he doesn’t always succeed. Milley has not yet spoken publicly about the walk in which he was in a battlefield uniform.

  177. says

    Here’s a link to the June 7 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Britain’s failure to impose a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus sooner has cost many lives, one of the government’s scientific advisers said on Sunday.

    Britain is one of the worst-hit countries in the world, with a death toll that is estimated to top 50,000 already.

    Critics from a broad spectrum including medical professionals, scientists, and lawmakers, say the government has botched its response to the outbreak by being too slow in imposing crucial measures such as the lockdown and protecting the elderly in care homes.

    Despite reservations from some of its own scientific advisers, the government is now easing nationwide lockdown measures that were introduced on 23 March.

    John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told the BBC: “We should have gone into lockdown earlier.”

    While the World Health Organization has signalled that Latin America is the new centre of the pandemic, cases in Cuba have fallen for two months.

    My colleague Ed Augustin reports from Havana….

  178. says

    AP – “Brazil govt yanks virus death toll as data befuddles experts”:

    Brazil’s government has stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections in an extraordinary move that critics call an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in Latin America’s largest nation.

    The Saturday move came after months of criticism from experts saying Brazil’s statistics are woefully deficient, and in some cases manipulated, so it may never be possible to gain a real understanding of the depth of the pandemic in the country.

    Brazil’s last official numbers showed it had recorded over 34,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world, just ahead of Italy. It reported nearly 615,000 infections, putting it at the second-highest, behind the United States. Brazil, with about 210 million people, is the globe’s seventh most populous nation.

    On Friday, the federal Health Ministry took down a website that had showed daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in Brazilian states. On Saturday, the site returned but the total numbers of infections for states and the nation were no longer there. The site now shows only the numbers for the previous 24 hours.

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted Saturday that disease totals are “not representative” of the country’s current situation.

    A Bolsonaro ally contended to the newspaper O Globo that at least some states providing figures to the Health Ministry had sent falsified data, implying that they were exaggerating the toll. Carlos Wizard, a businessman expected to assume a high-level post in the Health Ministry, said the federal government would be conducting a review intended to determine a “more accurate”′ toll.

    “The number we have today is fanciful or manipulated,” Wizard said.

    A council of state health secretaries said it would fight the changes by Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and tried to thwart attempts to impose quarantines, curfews and social distancing, arguing those steps are causing more damage to the economy than the pandemic.

    “The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries council said Saturday.

    While precise counts of cases and deaths are difficult for governments worldwide, health researchers have been saying for weeks that a series of serious irregularities with Brazilian government statistics was making it impossible to get a handle on an exploding situation.

    Beyond the shifting and incomplete information, critics say, the Brazilian federal government has further eroded trust in its count-keeping with cosmetic changes to official sites that appear designed to de-emphasize the gravity of the epidemic.

    One bulletin published by the president’s press office refers to patients in hospitals and intensive care units as “recovering,” even though a significant number eventually die of COVID-19.

    “We are becoming an international joke in terms of public health,” said Domingos Alves, an associate professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo. “Deaths cannot be hidden by decree.”

  179. says

    Guardian – “Cabinet unrest over U-turn on animal welfare in US trade talks”:

    Downing Street has been accused of reopening the door to imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef, after a leaked memo instructed ministers to have “no specific policy” on animal welfare in US trade talks.

    The letter from No 10 states that the ministerial mandate for the US negotiations was “being updated to reflect” the fact that the UK was to have no policy position on animal welfare. The revelation will raise more concerns about the government’s commitment to upholding “high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards”. [LOL]

    The note, seen by the Observer and dispatched at the start of last month, gave approval for the US trade talks to go ahead and set out the conditions of engagement. It reveals serious cabinet unrest over the shape of a US deal and appears to suggest UK regulations could be changed to accommodate an agreement. It also makes clear that talks were to be used to “maximise leverage” in trade negotiations with the EU.

    “Consultation and agreement from relevant colleagues is sought before agreeing to change domestic policy or regulations as part of the negotiations,” it states. “In the context of preserving the integrity of UK domestic law, any decisions taken in sensitive areas … must take into account the potential legal implications for the UK and be agreed by the relevant ministers.”

    The memo reveals how contentious the US trade talks are regarded as being within the cabinet. Issues were raised by 11 cabinet ministers, including health secretary Matt Hancock, environment secretary George Eustice and Mark Spencer, the chief whip.

    “Written responses were received from the health secretary, foreign secretary, the chief whip, the business secretary, the environment secretary, the chancellor of the exchequer, the justice secretary, the defence secretary, the culture secretary, the Welsh secretary and the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster,” it states. “All other members of the committee were content.”

    The briefing also states that a cabinet committee would return to the animal welfare issue “in June to settle all outstanding agriculture issues”, suggesting an unresolved split. Meanwhile, it demands that “ministers receive regular progress reports of concurrent EU and US negotiations to help maximise leverage and allow policy tensions to be resolved as they emerge”.

    A government spokesperson said that it had been “very clear since the outset that we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards”.

    Campaigners want legal guarantees on those standards to be enshrined in an agriculture bill currently being debated in parliament. The issue has already prompted a Tory rebellion in the Commons.

    It comes after reports last week that the government was proposing a “dual scheme” that would see higher tariffs on US foods with lower animal welfare standards. It is not clear whether higher tariffs would also be linked to environmental standards.

    Alistair Carmichael, the Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson, said: “People can now see that promises made by Johnson and Gove were worthless.”

    Luke Pollard, the shadow environment secretary, said: “It is unacceptable for the government to allow our high food standards to be compromised and our farmers undercut in any future trade deals. Attempts by ministers to use tariffs and tax rates to get around their manifesto commitment on food standards won’t wash.”

    A government spokesman said: “We will always stand up for British farming and are determined to use trade negotiations to secure new opportunities for farmers.

    “Having left the EU, we will get to decide how we set and maintain our own laws, standards and regulations, upholding our food, environmental and animal welfare standards. Our food regulators will continue to provide independent advice to ensure that all food imports into the UK comply with those standards.”

    Setting aside the absurdity of speaking about “animal welfare” in this context, this was always such a transparently cynical bigoted propaganda campaign. The claims from this gang that Brexit would mean higher standards than the EU’s were obvious lies and this whole act – including the “serious cabinet unrest” – is an offensive charade.

  180. says

    Reuters – “Washington Mayor Bowser, ‘unbought and unbossed,’ challenges Trump”:

    Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has drawn a battle line right up to the White House.

    Bowser, one of seven black female mayors of America’s 100 largest cities, on Friday declared a small but symbolic patch of the U.S. capital – a section of 16th Street bounded by a church on one side and Lafayette Square opposite the White House on the other – “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”

    The Democratic mayor then had the District Of Columbia’s departments of transportation and public works paint giant yellow letters spelling “Black Lives Matter” followed by the city’s flag on the street spanning two city blocks leading to plaza. To finish, Bowser posted on Twitter a video taken from a nearby roof showing the White House overlooking the results.

    “There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen,” Bowser told a news conference, “and to have their humanity recognized, and we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city.”

    Glynda Carr, president and chief executive of Higher Heights for America PAC, a political action committee dedicated to helping more liberal black women win elective office, said Bowser “showed the world that she leads, unbought and unbossed.” Carr’s organization has never raised money for Bowser.

    For his part, the Republican president denounced Bowser as “incompetent.”

    Bowser has supported peaceful demonstrators while denouncing violence and looting. Trump has advocated a militarized response to civil unrest and even summoned a contingent of active-duty troops to Washington, though they were never deployed on the streets. Bowser said she did not want any out-of-state military forces in Washington.

    When Trump threatened protesters who come near the White House with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” Bowser shot back with a comment that summed up their relationship.

    “There are no vicious dogs & ominous weapons. There is just a scared man. Afraid/alone. … I call upon our city and our nation to exercise great restraint even while this President continues to try to divide us,” Bowser wrote on Twitter.

    After baton-swinging federal police fired smoke canisters, flashbang grenades and rubber bullets to drive away peaceful protesters near the White House so Trump on Monday could pose holding a Bible in front of a church near what is now “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” Bowser called the scene “shameful.”

    A single mother to a toddler, Bowser is only the second woman to serve as Washington’s mayor and the first to win a second term in office.

    Like other elected officials in Washington over the years, Bowser has advocated statehood for the District of Columbia, which has no voting members of Congress even as states with smaller populations have two senators and one member of the House of Representatives. Washington’s mayor was a federal appointee until the 1970s when the city was granted “home rule” and began electing its mayors….

  181. says

    Reuters – “Protests worldwide embrace Black Lives Matter movement.”

    VOA – “Protests Support Floyd, Black Lives Matter On 3 Continents.”

    London, Hamburg, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Brisbane, Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Naples, Manchester, Cardiff, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne…

    Large demonstration in Rome today. The NBC correspondent said there had been fascist/far-Right (he actually used the word “fascist,” somewhat surprisingly) rallies there in recent weeks, but this massively outnumbered those.

  182. blf says

    I used to live in Bristol and an delighted that thing has finally been pulled down (from the Grauniad’s current live States politics / pandemic blog):

    Black Lives Matters protesters in Bristol have pulled down a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston.

    Demonstrators in the British city attached a rope to the grade II listed statue on Colston Avenue on Sunday before pulling it to the ground as crowds cheered.

    They then jumped on it and rolled it down the street to the harbour before pushing it into the river Avon.

    The 18ft bronze statue, erected in 1895, has long been a focal point for anger at the city’s role in the slave trade and the continued commemoration of those who were involved in it.


    Image and more at the link.

  183. says

    Oh, FFS, what won’t they do?

    Videos Show Cops Slashing Car Tires at Protests in Minneapolis

    After long nights of tear gas and rubber bullets, some protesters, news crews, and medics in Minneapolis last weekend found themselves stranded: The tires of their cars had been slashed.

    In a city upended by protests about police brutality after the death of George Floyd, many assumed protesters were to blame. But videos reveal a different culprit: the police.

    In the videos, officers puncture tires in a K-Mart parking lot on May 30 (below) and a highway overpass on May 31 (above). Both areas briefly turned into police staging grounds near protest hot spots.

    The officers appear to be state troopers or county police, though it’s not clear from the videos. Neither the Minnesota State Patrol nor the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office responded to requests from Mother Jones. The Minneapolis Police Department and Minnesota National Guard denied involvement.

    The gray car in the video above was the rental car of Luke Mogelson, a New Yorker writer who typically covers war zones and is now stationed in Minneapolis to write about the protests. As the protest on Sunday evening turned hairy, with law enforcement tear-gassing peaceful groups soon after curfew, Mogelson went to check on his car, showing his press pass to officers along the way. (Media were exempt from the curfew.) One officer took a picture of his press pass and said he would “radio it up the chain so everyone knew that car belonged to the press,” said Mogelson. When he came back later that evening to retrieve his car, officers informed him that the tires were punctured. “They were laughing,” Mogelson recalled. “They had grins on their faces.” […]

    See also, this tweet from Andrew Kimmel:

    Minneapolis Police slashed every tire on my rental car, as well as every tire of every car in this parking lot. Photo at the link.

    From Sean Craig:

    Radio-Canada journalists covering the protests in Minneapolis had their tires slashed. Witnesses told them police did it.

    “We’re so busy, it’s just unbelievable,” said a tow truck driver in an interview from the K-Mart parking lot with Andrew Kimmel, formerly the head of BuzzFeed’s video team. The towing company had received “call after call after call.” Asked whose cars were being towed, the tow truck driver said, “Everybody. Medics over there. News crews. Random people that were just here to protest and—tires slashed.”

    From Ben Taub:

    Cops in Minneapolis shot my friend, the photographer @philip_nyc, in the chest, with a rubber bullet, causing bruising over his heart. They also slashed his tires.

    Link to Philip Montgomery’s photos:

  184. says

    Another high-ranking military officer pushes back against Trump’s rhetoric and tactics:

    Retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis said Sunday that the protests over George Floyd’s death aren’t “a battlespace to be dominated,” as […] Trump suggested.

    The former NATO supreme allied commander told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he thinks there are “plenty of people” in law enforcement, including officers and the National Guard, who can police the demonstrations without the military getting involved.

    “Their real role is to protect these peaceful demonstrators,” he said. “This is not a battlespace to be dominated.

    “There are sufficient forces to do that, and I think the military is very concerned about getting pulled into the maelstrom of politics in an election year in order to push protesters, as they were at Lafayette Square,” he said. “That was wrong.”

    […] Trump threatened to activate the U.S. military to respond to demonstrations in Washington, D.C. He also urged governors to deploy National Guard units and threatened to send U.S. troops to their cities if they didn’t.

    Stavridis said he decided to join the voices of former military leaders criticizing the president’s rhetoric after seeing the removal of protesters from Lafayette Square. Protesters were cleared just before Trump walked to a nearby church for a photo op.

    “This is a moment when I think many of us watched the use of active-duty military to clear peaceful protesters out of Lafayette Square, and it rang echoes of what the founders feared more than anything which was the use of armed active-duty military against citizens,”Stavridis said.

    The president on Sunday morning said he had ordered the National Guard to withdraw from D.C. because “everything is under perfect control.”


  185. says

    Retired General Colin Powell, a Republican, says he will not support Trump in November’s election. He will support Biden.

    Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who served as secretary of State under former President George W. Bush, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he will be voting for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in November.

    “I certainly cannot in any way support President Trump this year,” Powell said.

    Other guests on the Sunday political talk shows discussed largely peaceful protests in the past few days over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

    The question of whether there is systemic racism in policing was also addressed.


  186. says

    Follow-up to comment 240.

    Trump’s response:

    Colin Powell, a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars, just announced he will be voting for another stiff, Sleepy Joe Biden. Didn’t Powell say that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction?’ They didn’t, but off we went to WAR!

    More details regarding Powell’s statements:

    […] Powell said he did not vote for Trump in 2016, and said the situation “gotten worse.”

    He said he agreed with other high-profile current and former military officers who criticized Trump’s handling of the nationwide protests over police brutality that broke out after the killing of George Floyd.

    “We have a Constitution, and we have to follow that Constitution. And the president has drifted away from it,” Powell said.

    Powell’s condemnation followed a blistering statement released Wednesday by former Trump Defense secretary James Mattis who called Trump the first president in his lifetime who is trying to divide Americans.

    Senators Romney and Murkowski have also said they have doubts about supporting Trump’s re-election.

  187. says

    Why the NFL Is Suddenly Standing Up for Black Lives

    Roger Goodell knows which way the wind blows.

    […] Watson [Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson] appears 19 seconds into the video, asking viewers to ponder a world in which he and other NFL stars were George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25. […]

    “We assert our right to peacefully protest,” the players said in unison at the end of the video, titled “Stronger Together,” after asking the NFL to listen to its players, “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people” and “admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting.”

    It didn’t even take 24 hours for the NFL to publicly concede their argument. The league released its own video of commissioner Roger Goodell soberly responding to the players’ demands from the basement of his house on Friday. “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”

    It was a stunning turnaround for a league that had catered more to Donald Trump than its players during the 2017 kneeling protests, but let’s not confuse this sudden change of course with a sincere change of heart. The new stance comes from the very same place as the league’s previous prohibition of peaceful protests during the anthem: a morally bankrupt commitment to shifting with the winds of what its white fans find acceptable.

    It’s worth remembering the NFL’s response in September 2017 after President Trump said he would “love” to see an owner remove from the field and fire any “son of a [B-word]” who chose to kneel during the national anthem. The first impulse of the NFL owners, many of whom had supported Trump’s campaign in 2016 and seven of whom had donated at least $1 million to him, was not to defend their players but to protect the league’s bottom line and not offend the president and his supporters. […]

    In a meeting with owners and team executives, Texans owner Bob McNair—who donated $2 million in 2016 to a pro-Trump super PAC and $1 million for his inauguration—reportedly dismissed the player protests by saying, “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.” McNair later apologized, and when he died a year later, Watson spoke fondly of the late owner. “Every game, really, is for the McNair family and I know he’s watching over us. We’re going to make sure we make him proud,” Watson said then.

    In other words, nothing would get in the way of the uneasy public peace between the league and its labor. Not Kaepernick, not Trump, and not even a racist comment by one of his wealthy supporters who also happened to be an NFL team owner.

    […] Celebrities, corporations, and many other brands are now publicly supporting Black Lives Matter and related movements because their previous silence or, even worse, resistance is no longer tenable. […]

    Everything I know about the NFL tells me that Goodell and the league were pressed to publicly change their tune not by the players but by the example of a disparate group of corporations, from Amazon and Netflix to Citigroup and Sephora. […]Goodell’s statement came after Taylor Swift tweeted about white supremacy. Only weeks after the start of Kaepernick’s protest in 2016, a Reuters poll found 72 percent of Americans said they thought he was being unpatriotic and 61 percent said they didn’t support his protest. By contrast, new polling now shows a majority of Americans believe racism and discrimination is “a big problem” and believe that the protesters’ anger is justified. […]

    More at the link.

    From Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab

    And you @nflcommish STILL have @Kaepernick7 blackballed for peacefully protesting.”

  188. says

    I’m a cop. I won’t fight a ‘war’ on crime the way I fought the war on terror.

    “The failed strategy I participated in for years as a CIA officer is not how to police people I consider my neighbors. It’s not how to police at all.” The article is written by Patrick Skinner, and published in The Washington Post. Skinner is a police officer in his hometown of Savannah, Ga. He is a former CIA operations officer and served in the United States Coast Guard.

    When I left the CIA, I no longer wanted to fight our “war on terror.” For seven years after the 9/11 attacks, I served as an operations officer in the CIA counterterrorism center. My role in our efforts overseas was small but left a large impression on me: We were creating more tensions and threats than we countered or mitigated. By approaching the issue as a “war,” we fought it as one, and this was a categorical mistake. There were significant tactical achievements, but overall it has been a strategic defeat, costing lives, money and opportunities. We focused on who and what we were fighting against instead of who and what we were fighting for, and in the shade of that difference, a rot grew. […]

    I’m now a cop in my hometown, Savannah, Ga., and I don’t want to fight another war — our “war on crime.” But I’m not going anywhere. I’m just speaking up, to propose that we end what never was a war to begin with. We need to change our mind-set about what it means to “police” in America. At this moment of maximal national tension and outrage, when national leaders are calling the streets of America a “battlespace,” with police officers as warriors who should “dominate” and give “no quarter,” I am telling whoever will listen: Police are not warriors — because we are not and must not be at war with our neighbors.

    For decades, the United States has funded and created police departments that resemble occupying military forces, unable to protect and serve. […] What we now see deployed in many cities and towns is anti-policing. […] The well-documented militarization of American police departments has inevitably produced officers who see themselves and their roles as “warriors” or “punishers” or “sheepdogs.” Much of what our society finds so distressing and unacceptable in police interactions with their neighbors — disrespect, anger, frustration and violence — is not a result of “flawed” training; it’s a result of training for war.

    In my limited experience as a police officer in a high-crime, high-tempo city, I and my colleagues who trained me have tried a different mind-set, a neighbor mind-set. It sounds simple, and it’s not complicated — but it is certainly not easy. I approach every person I meet on the streets as my neighbor. Often this is literally true because I live where I work. […] I was just trying to figure out how to be a good cop, and, for me, that meant being a good neighbor. […]

    For example, if there was a phone number associated with the 911 call I was dispatched to, I called it from my personal cellphone and spoke to the person needing help while I was en route. This littlest of things has proved immensely valuable to me as I try to slow everything down while racing to an emergency. I got real-time accurate information about what colleagues and I were heading into, which was often not as serious as it was portrayed initially. I remember being dispatched to deal with a “domestic fight, he’s destroying the house,” […] I called the number at the bottom of my computer screen and spoke to a woman, who told me her autistic brother, whom she cares for, had acted out and, having broken stuff in the house, was now standing in the yard motionless. All we needed was to know what name her brother liked to be called and what to avoid doing to make things worse, and the potential drama and risk evaporated before we ever stepped out of our cars. […]

    Apart from providing us a clearer view of what crime or emergency was in progress or had just occurred, my phone calls with neighbors gave me the chance to step out of my patrol car, often into dramatic and loud scenes, and say this powerful truth: “Hi, I’m Officer Skinner, we just spoke.” […]

    How do you build a better cop? By making them slow down.

    […] Recently a struggling neighbor waved me over and told me that she couldn’t get in touch with her parole officer. Failure to check in could lead to an arrest warrant for parole violation. Plus, she was running out of minutes on her prepaid cellphone. We stood on the side of the road, and I let this sworn enemy in our war on crime use my phone to check in and video-chat with the officer. […]

    As I got better at being a rookie cop, I kept asking myself this question: “If I didn’t have a badge and a gun, how would I handle this call?” Whatever I came up with that was legal, transparent and kind, I would try.

    […] I’m not saying police should not have a badge and a gun, I’m just saying that we must not rely on them. It also placed on me the rightful burden of not bringing what I call “drama” to my calls. […]

    I’m often wrong, like anyone else, in initial assessments of chaotic loud scenes, but I try to be wrong silently and without acting on my rush to be wrong. […]

    Most police training, as befits training for war, is about “force protection” and officer safety above all. The training revolves around the idea not just that anyone could harm me, but that they will. This is where terminology such as calling people “civilians,” however well-intended, creates the impression and the actions of war. […]

    A funny thing happened on the way to becoming a better rookie cop by being a better neighbor: I became a better person. This is the opposite of what wars do. Wars make monsters of us all. Overseas, our war on terror was fought and lost by mistreating entire communities while looking for a handful of people, all the while saying we were doing no such thing. […]

    I’m not to blame for the historical and ongoing injustices in law enforcement and the judicial system, but I am responsible. Anyone who wears a badge and swore an oath to serve and protect their neighbors is responsible. […]

    At the CIA, I worked in failed states where there was a shortage of everything but weapons and strife. We are replicating our failures abroad here at home. The rhetoric and the tactics and the aggression of war have no place in local police work. Making matters worse is the unseemly urging of the White House to federalize an armed response to local protests against local policing; to do so is to pour gasoline on a burning house and give the firefighters guns to fight the fire. Progress in police work in our communities is measured in years and generations. It can be destroyed in hours.

    Refusing to fight this war on crime has, improbable as it seems at age 49, become the fight of my life. And I am not alone. Because my neighbors are not just the point of being a local cop; they are how I can be a local cop. It is their consent that enables me. It is their trust that empowers me. And it is our truth that drives me: that we all matter, or none of us do.

  189. blf says

    Where I live in S.France has not, sofar, been badly hit by Covid-19; I don’t know any numbers, but also know of no reason to think the effects have, to-date, been contained — yes, some people have died, but, e.g., some of the nursing homes (and there are a fair number since this is an understandably popular retirement area) had no cases at all. I am now fretting precautions are being lax. I went to the outdoor market this morning, early (deliberately so-as to avoid people), and whilst I didn’t have any problems per se, was distressed by the others about who weren’t “social distancing” at all — despite there not being too many people out, meaning it was easy to keep one’s distance, &tc. I had to take a helluvalot of “detours” around imbeciles.

    As it was a nice day, I decided to go out for lunch, again, carefully choosing a restaurant which I expected would be careful. They were, and lunch was great. Burp! However, both on the walk there, and then afterwards, doing a bit of “bar hopping”, there were completely undistanced unmasked “crowds” everywhere (so lots more detouring). I carefully selected and inspected the bars, and had no problems at them, it was the walking between them which was infested with eejits.

    This is worrisome. And what is now concerning me is the French “vacation season” happens soon (July & August), when the village & Mediterranean beaches are typically rather crowded. That’s alarming, perhaps more so when one realises it’s reasonable to presume some of those people will becoming from areas where Covid-19 is nowheres-near as well contained as locally (e.g., Paris, teh NKofE, to name two examples), especially as assorted travel restrictions are lifted.

  190. says

    What William Barr said:

    Attorney General Bill Barr on Sunday vehemently defended the aggressive use of force used on peaceful protesters outside of the White House ahead of […] Trump’s surprise photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

    When asked by CBS’ Margaret Brennan about whether he thinks it was appropriate for police to use smoke bombs, tear gas, pepper balls and projectiles at protesters who seemed to be peaceful, Barr hit back that they were “not peaceful protesters” and that the notion that they were is a “big lie” by the media.

    Brennan then cited three of her CBS colleagues who were at the scene who didn’t hear warnings or see protesters throwing anything, before Barr pivoted to violent unrest in the area over the weekend.

    Barr insisted that “there were three warnings given” before going on to explain that he approved a plan for law enforcement to “increase the perimeter” around Lafayette Park at 2 p.m. that day as “park police was facing what they considered to be a very rowdy and non-compliant crowd.”

    After Brennan once again pointed out that her colleagues did not witness protesters throwing anything at the police, Barr insisted that he personally “saw them thrown” and that the removal of protesters “was not an operation to respond to that particular crowd—it was an operation to move the perimeter one block.”

    Asked again if he thought it was appropriate for police to use tear gas to disperse protesters ahead of Trump’s photo-op, Barr argued that “there were not chemical irritants.”

    “Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant,” Barr said. “It’s not chemical.”

    Barr’s remarks were aired two days after Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a spokesperson for the Park Police, told CNN that it was a “mistake” to say the force didn’t use tear gas on protesters before the President and his allies walked over to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.

    TPM link

    From Nathan Baca:

    This is what our crews picked up on 17th near H minutes after federal law enforcement cleared streets Monday night: Natural OC and artificial CS tear gas canisters. Released green choking gas that attacked our lungs and eyes. Item on right is flash bang.

    See photo at this link:

    Barr is digging a deep hole for himself as he tries to defend Trump, and as he uses semantics to try to excuse his own actions.

    He is a slippery, lying lickspittle.

  191. says

    blf @222, that was fun to watch!

    In other news, some details concerning what Retired Admiral William H. McRaven said:

    This fall, it’s time for new leadership in this country — Republican, Democrat or independent. President Trump has shown he doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be a good commander in chief. As we have struggled with the Covid pandemic and horrible acts of racism and injustice, this president has shown none of those qualities. The country needs to move forward without him at the helm.

    McRaven is the Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

  192. says

    Uh-oh. racism in the military shows up again.

    A retired U.S. Navy captain let his racist ideology show on Facebook Live when he apparently didn’t know he was going live in a conversation with his wife Friday night in Florida. Capt. Scott Bethmann could be heard in an Atlantic Beach community group spewing the n-word in complaints about his position as a white man in American society […]

    “So all the white people have to say something nice to the black b–ch that works in the office. But the black b–ch don’t get fired. It’s bulls–t,” Bethmann said, reportedly giving his thoughts on companies that support the Black Lives Matter movement. “Management’s going to fire the white people.”

    In response to his wife’s warning that he “better watch” himself on the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association board, Bethmann can also be heard telling her: “I don’t say anything, that’s my point. The white m—–f—–s can’t say anything, that’s the point we’re making here, Nancy.”

    His wife also reportedly broadcasted her ignorance when the couple started talking about admissions to the U.S. Naval Academy. “You can bend over and kiss the U.S. Naval Academy goodbye,” she said. “They’re gonna get the blacks, and the females, and the f—–g Asians from China, and let them steal all of our intellectual properties.” […]

    The conversation lasted 33 minutes before Bethmann realized he had went live with his remarks on Facebook, First Coast News reported. “I clicked onto some live event. What are they talking about,” he asked. His apology soon followed.

    “There are no words that can appropriately express how mortified and apologetic my wife and I are about the insensitive things we said that were captured on social media,” Bethmann said in a statement First Coast News obtained. “There is never a time when it is appropriate to use derogatory terms when speaking about our fellow man. I know that an apology from us rings hollow on many ears in our community, especially in the current environment.

    “We intend on using this experience as an opportunity to grow, listen, learn, and reflect. We are deeply sorry for the impact our actions have had on the Naval Academy, my fellow servicemen and women, our former colleagues, friends, family, and the community as a whole. We are committed to educating ourselves more on the racial inequalities in this country and being better people.”

    Samuel Locklear III, chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees, said in a statement Saturday that he accepted Bethmann’s resignation. “These attributed statements do not represent the mission and values of the Alumni Association, the Naval Academy or the U.S. Navy,” Locklear said. […]

    Bethmann, 63, also had his membership in the Atlantic Beach Country Club rescinded, according to The Florida Times-Union. “Be assured we find these comments extremely offensive, inflammatory and antithetical to what this Club stands for and represents,” the country club said in a statement The Florida Times-Union obtained. “As such, we have voted today to immediately expel this member and his family from the Club.”


    Aww. They got kicked out of their country club.

  193. says

    Yay. High voter turnout. A good sign.

    States that moved to rapidly expand mail-in balloting amid the coronavirus pandemic are seeing some of their highest levels of voter turnout in years, even as […] Trump looks to clamp down on such efforts.

    In at least four of the eight states that held primaries on Tuesday, turnout surpassed 2016 levels, with most of the votes being cast via mail, according to an analysis of election returns by The Hill. Each of those states took steps earlier this year to send absentee ballot applications to all of their registered voters.

    In Iowa, for instance, total turnout reached 24 percent, up from about 15 percent in the state’s 2016 primaries and its highest ever turnout for a primary. But more strikingly, of the roughly 524,000 votes cast, some 411,000 of them came from absentee ballots – a nearly 1,000 percent increase over 2016 levels.

    The high turnout could encourage more states to take similar steps ahead of the November general elections. Trump has resisted such efforts, even threatening last month to hold up federal funding to Michigan and Nevada over state election officials’ decisions to send mail-in ballot applications to registered voters.

    The president’s argument against expanding mail-in voting is two-fold: he has claimed that it not only increases the risk of voter fraud, but it gives a structural advantage to Democrats. Elections experts have knocked down those claims, noting that fraud is exceedingly rare in all instances and that there’s little to no evidence that widespread mail-in voting benefits one party over another. […]

    For mail-in voting advocates, the surge in turnout on Tuesday was a major victory in the biggest test for vote-by-mail since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

    “The June 2 primaries proved what we already knew – access to absentee ballots increases voter turnout,” said Tom Ridge, a Republican former Homeland Security Secretary and governor of Pennsylvania, who co-chairs the bipartisan group VoteSafe. […]

    Four states – Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi – have yet to expand mail-in voting practices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    In one of those states, Texas, the refusal by GOP state officials to expand mail-in voting is at the center of an ongoing legal battle. […]

    Meanwhile, in Tennessee, a judge ruled that the state must give all of its registered voters the option to cast a mail-in ballot during the coronavirus pandemic. That ruling is likely to be appealed.

    […] the recent expansions in mail-in voting have caused problems in some parts of the country. A handful of states that held primaries on Tuesday struggled to handle the surge in mail-in ballot requests. […]

    In the District of Columbia, which also voted on Tuesday, officials urged all registered voters to cast their ballot by mail. On primary day, they opened just 20 in-person polling sites open instead of the 143 that are usually available. But they ultimately struggled to fulfill all the requests for mail-in ballots, forcing many voters to wait in long lines to vote on Tuesday.

    In an effort to respond to the lines, D.C. election officials allowed some voters to submit their ballots by email – a practice that security experts have long warned against. […]

    Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the primary was “nothing short of a failed execution.” But she pledged to have the system running smoothly by November.

    “I can assure D.C. voters that we will have the appropriate action plan,” she said.


    Yep, still some problems, and still some issues to be ironed out..

  194. says

    OMG, William Barr. WTF?

    Barr: ‘I don’t think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist’

    Attorney General William Barr said Sunday that he doesn’t think the law enforcement system in the U.S. is “systemically racist” as protests over George Floyd’s death continue across the country.

    CBS’s “Face The Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan asked the attorney general if he believed there is “systemic racism in law enforcement.”

    Barr responded, “I think there’s racism in the United States still but I don’t think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist.” […]

    Barr said the U.S. has to acknowledge that “for most of our history, our institutions were explicitly racist.”

    “Since the 1960s, I think we’ve been in a phase of reforming our institutions and making sure that they’re in sync with our laws and aren’t fighting a rearguard action to impose inequities,” he said.

    When Brennan asked if the reforming was “working,” Barr said it’s been “difficult,” but “I think it is working and progress has been made.”

    Other Trump administration officials said on Sunday shows that systemic racism in law enforcement didn’t exist. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he grew up in a time “when there was real systemic racism,” which is “very uncommon now.”

    Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf also said there is no “systemic racism problem” in law enforcement but added there are officers who “abuse their jobs.” […]

    So that’s the official line from the Trump administration, that systemic racism in law enforcement doesn’t exist. Good luck selling that load of bullshit.

  195. says

    On Face the Nation, William Barr lies repeatedly and brazenly about St. John’s Church attack

    Trump’s loyalist attorney general, William Barr, was on Face the Nation this morning to do what he does: betray his oath of office and the nation while lying to the American public to protect Donald Trump from consequences. Barr’s own story on his involvement with the attack on Lafayette Park and St. John’s Church protesters continues to shift with the winds; in a Saturday interview, Barr backed away from reports he ordered the attack with the rock-solid defense “My attitude was get it done, but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it.’”

    One of today’s new Barr claims was that Trump “never asked or suggested that we needed to deploy regular troops” to put down the protests. This flies in the face of reports by multiple reports of Trump furiously demanding that exact thing, on that exact afternoon, in a meeting William Barr was in.

    Barr is demonstrably lying, which is yet another reason he and everyone else in the administration has refused to testify to Congress about any of their acts. Trump insisted “We need 10,000 troops up here. I want it right now,” The Washington Post relays from a senior Pentagon official; Trump was only talked out of it by the combined efforts of the now-lying Barr, Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Even then, Esper moved 82nd Airborne units into position nearby to keep Trump “at bay,” Trump was so insistent.

    Asked to follow up, Barr had to admit that those troops were indeed called up, and tried to bullshit and bluster his way through:

    “Well, your question to me just a moment ago was did he demand them on the streets, did he demand them in D.C.. No, we had them on standby in case they were needed.”


    […] He insisted “There were not chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.” And “there was no gas.”

    Again, each of these statements was contradicted by reporters on the ground, and the Park Police itself had to withdraw its earlier claim that tear gas was not used in the park. He’s lying. He’s simply lying about all of it, via the time-warn practice of redefining questions and words themselves so that they mean whatever he prefers them to mean. He is not just lying, he is brazenly trolling his questioner.

    The big lie, however, was that the attack on Lafayette Park and Trump’s walk to the church mere minutes later were “not connected.” The Park Police had been preparing to clear the park since that morning, said Barr, but it was complete coincident that the operation began, and the use of flashbang grenades, at precisely the moment networks began broadcasting an expected Trump speech that ended with Donald Trump announcing that he would now be taking a walk through the very grounds just cleared. Barr, in fact, says he “didn’t know” even that Trump would be speaking, when he “gave the green light” (which was not an order, but which was an order?) to clear the park.


    […] The one true thing we can take from all of this is that even William Barr, a devoted fascist, is aware that last Monday’s attack crossed a line that not even a president is allowed to cross. Donald Trump is not allowed to beat, gas and drive out clergy on private church property or an adjacent park for the sole purpose of commandeering church property for a photo shoot. Both Trump and Barr believed he was, when the order was given; only days later did Barr realize that the country was not following him into his new definition of our laws.

    House Democrat reluctance to insist on Barr’s immediate testimony, as well as the testimony of all others involved in the militarization of Washington, the mobilization of unidentified paramilitary-outfitted groups, and the attacks on protesters, remains baffling. Barr and the others will of course refuse; Congress then must act to compel their cooperation in investigating these brazen violations of the Constitution and civil rights even if it means dragging each official to a hearing room in handcuffs and under guard.

    As Barr has once again shown, nothing in the Constitution applies if there is no consequence for violating it […] Barr must be removed for his actions; Esper, Milley and others in the vague, seemingly invented-on-the-fly chain of command that led to these events must be expelled from public service.


    From Ryan McCarthy:

    PepperBall’s own website brags that it’s “the most effective chemical irritant available”

    More definitions:

    Pepper spray (also known as capsaicin spray or capsicum spray) is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause a burning sensation, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control.

    Sorry, I don’t know how to properly code the chemical formula for capsaicin so that it appears correctly.

    From comments posted by readers:

    He [Barr] used to be an adept liar. Now he’s just a stupid dumbfuck dangerous liar. Everything out of his mouth should be fact checked. I can’t believe he hasn’t been referred on complaint to the DC and federal bars.
    The Democratic House should impeach that lying, SOB, Barr.
    Since they only care about the message to their base and don’t really give a damn about thinking americans, we are being treated to a litany of in-your-face lies.

  196. says

    New York Times editorial page head resigns after publishing fascist Tom Cotton op-ed

    he New York Times’ Editorial Page Editor James Bennet has resigned after the publication of an editorial by Sen. Tom Cotton advocating that the military be deployed to end racial injustice protests throughout the United States. Bennet had been the head of the Times’ editorial pages since 2016.

    The Times faced immediate and furious backlash for publishing the op-ed, including from within the Times itself. After repeatedly defending the decision to run Cotton’s anti-American screed, it came out that the Times’ editors had themselves solicited for Cotton to make his case—and that Bennet had not even read the piece before publishing it.

    The Times has long ignored critics of their editorial policies, but the internal fury over Cotton’s call for “no quarter” against fellow Americans proved too much for Bennet to weather. He is expected to remain with the paper, but in a “new role in the newsroom.”


  197. says

    AG Bill Barr’s latest claims won’t help his damaged credibility

    As the attorney general tries to distance himself from the Lafayette Square scandal, he’s making a variety of claims that appear to be false.

    […] Trump administration officials spent last week trying to distance themselves from the Lafayette Square scandal, and Attorney General Bill Barr seemed to join them with comments to the Associated Press.

    “I’m not involved in giving tactical commands like that,” he said. “I was frustrated and I was also worried that as the crowd grew, it was going to be harder and harder to do. So my attitude was get it done, but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it.'”

    Sure. And when Henry II said, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” he perhaps didn’t literally tell anyone to kill Thomas Becket, but some knights made the trip to Canterbury anyway.

    Barr’s comments seemed to contradict the White House’s own line about Barr’s role in clearing Lafayette Square of peaceful protestors a week ago today — White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was quite explicit about the attorney general’s efforts — but on Team Trump, sometimes the right hand doesn’t know what the even-further-to-the-right hand is doing.

    While we wait for the White House to sort out its story, Barr made a variety of related claims over the last couple of days […]

    [Barr] told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan, for example, “The president never asked or suggested that we needed to deploy” active-duty troops onto American streets. There’s been a whole lot of independent reporting pointing in the opposite direction.

    Barr also told Brennan the clearing of the park across the street from the White House was not “connected” to Trump’s photo-op, despite the fact that the former occurred immediately before the latter. A Washington Post analysis concluded that the attorney general’s claims on this point “collapse under scrutiny.”

    And finally, Barr went on to tell the CBS News anchor, in reference to the offensive against peaceful protestors, “There was no tear gas used.” Pressed further, the attorney general added, “There were not chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.”

    […] “[T]he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies the sort of devices that the Park Police admitted using as a form of tear gas. It was a specific, organic iteration of irritant, but it was a qualifying irritant nonetheless.”

    William Barr had a credibility problem long before last week, but it’s striking how eager he seems to make the problem worse.

    Basic takeaway: The attorney general’s claims “collapse under scrutiny.” I hope that, in the future, Attorney General Kamala Harris can prosecute Barr.

  198. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news:

    […] A new national poll from CNN, meanwhile, points in a more discouraging direction for the president: it found Biden up by 14 points, 55% to 41%. Though comparing 2020 and 2016 polling is tricky, there were zero national surveys at this point four years ago showing Hillary Clinton with support above 50%.

    […] Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, who derailed Obama-era policing reforms after taking over as attorney general, hasn’t changed: the Republican U.S. Senate candidate said last week he doesn’t want policymakers to “overreact” to instances of police abuses. True to form, Sessions added that he’s concerned about “politically correct policing.”


  199. says

    An illustration of the difference between the Democratic Party’s concept of governing well and the Republican/Trumpian concept of not really governing at all:

    […] House and Senate Dems are poised to unveil the “Justice in Policing Act of 2020.” [they already unveiled it] It representst a sweeping and ambitious overhaul of federal policing laws. […] the proposed legislation […] intends to “broaden police accountability, tracking ‘problematic’ officers through a national misconduct registry, and restricting ‘qualified immunity’ (lawsuit limitations) for officers over actions in the field.

    The John Oliver video that PZ posted on the homepage discusses “qualified immunity,” and what a pernicious force it is when it comes to holding law enforcement officers accountable for their actions. Oliver provides specific details that illuminate the problem.

    The same bill would reportedly “reform police training, make lynching a federal crime, and ban chokeholds and the use of no-knock warrants in drug cases.” […]

    It’s against this backdrop that Donald Trump was asked late last week for his plan to combat systemic racism. His answer was emblematic of a larger problem.

    “It’s the greatest thing that can happen for race relations, for the African-American community, for the Asian American, for the Hispanic-American community, for women, for everything, because our country is so strong,” Trump said when asked if he had a plan to address systemic racism. “And that’s what my plan is: We’re going to have the strongest economy in the world.”

    Right off the bat, there’s an obvious problem with the president’s pitch: the United States has had the strongest economy in the world for the better part of a century. Obviously, a robust, internationally dominant economy isn’t a cure-all for societal ills, including institutional racism and police abuses, since the scourges haven’t gone away.

    But just below the surface, a related problem comes into view: Donald Trump doesn’t want to govern.

    The president and his team don’t have a plan to address the lingering coronavirus crisis. When reporters recently asked Trump his economic plan, he acted as if he barely understood the question. Pressed for a social-justice plan, [Trump] said he intended to simply wait for the economy to improve, at which point he expected racial problems to simply go away on their own.

    The asymmetry between the parties is painfully obvious […] as Democrats look for governing solutions, Trump and his party could see these unfolding crises and take steps to use the levers of power to address them, but they don’t — because they’ve made the transition from being a governing party to being a post-policy party.


  200. says

    As death toll rises, Trump’s failed prediction comes into focus

    Trump made a prediction exactly one month ago today: the United States would see no more than 110,000 fatalities from the pandemic. That was wrong.

    Exactly seven weeks ago today, Donald Trump said he believed the overall American death toll from the coronavirus pandemic would be between 50,000 and 60,000 people. It wasn’t long before the president’s forecast was exposed as tragically wrong, but that didn’t stop him from repeating the same mistake, over and over again, for no apparent reason.

    The number of U.S. fatalities would be 65,000, he said. Or maybe 70,000. Make that 90,000. Or it could be 100,000.

    May 8, exactly one month ago today, Trump appeared on Fox News, strained to pat himself on the back, and predicted that the death toll could go as high as 110,000. That was wrong, too.

    The number of coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 110,000 Saturday, according to NBC News’ accounting of virus data. The nation has seen 1,916,237 cases and 110,041 deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the data. […]

    The problem, of course, is not just that the president peddled a series of bizarre predictions that turned out to be wrong. The more significant problem is that Trump has effectively declared victory and shifted his focus away from the pandemic. […]

    The virus, however, doesn’t much care whether the White House remains engaged or not. According to a New York Times analysis, the number of states where infection numbers are rising currently stands at 21. That’s nearly half the country. [The state in which I live is one of those 21. Graphs of increasing cases show a steep rise.]

    And yet, the president nevertheless stood in the Rose Garden on Friday morning, and said that the United States is “largely through” the crisis. Why? Apparently because he says so.

    If this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve heard similarly triumphant rhetoric from Trump before. In mid-May, the president declared, “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed.” (He later clarified that he was referring to testing, which was also wrong.)

    […] In early March, Trump went so far as to brag, “This came unexpectedly a number of months ago. I heard about it in China. It came out of China, and I heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down; we stopped it.” […]

  201. says

    About those Republicans willing to say that they will not support Trump’s re-election:

    […] the number of Republicans who refused to stand with Trump in 2016 was very likely influenced by the widely held assumption that he would inevitably lose. [Correct!]

    […] what’s especially striking […] is the number of Republicans who’ve worked directly with [Trump] — even having served in his cabinet. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis broke with Trump in a very high-profile way last week, for example, and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who also served as Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, wasted little time in letting the public know he stood with Mattis, not the president.

    Even former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a former Republican senator, has not endorsed Trump’s re-election, saying through an aide that he “remains a loyal Republican,” but he believes “the American people will decide.”

    It’s striking enough when national GOP leaders withhold support from their own party’s presidential ticket, but when Republicans like Coats, Mattis, and Kelly, among other former members of Trump’s team, do the same thing, it’s qualitatively different.

    These officials worked side by side with [Trump]. Unlike four years ago, when Trump was simply a foolish television personality, folks like Coats, Mattis, and Kelly had a front-row seat, watching Trump try to lead. They saw up close how Trump conducted himself, how he processed information, how he evaluated evidence, and how he made decisions.

    And now that they’ve left the administration and had an opportunity to reflect on their time on Team Trump, some of these same officials are not on board with the president’s re-election.

    There’s no precedent for this in modern history.


  202. says

    Wow. Georgia Sees At Least 2,500% Increase In Absentee Voting

    […] Ahead of its primary Tuesday, elections officials by Sunday had received 943,000 ballots — a 2,500 percent increase from the 2016 presidential primary, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

    Of the 1.2 million who have already voted (a number that includes in-person early voting, which ended Friday), there was close to an even split between Democrats and Republicans, according to the AJC report. […]

    The state sent absentee ballot request forms to its 6.9 million active registered voters.

    Ultimately, 1.6 million absentee ballots were sent out, meaning that some 657,000 have not been returned, […]

    It’s not clear how many of those voters experienced delays in receiving their ballots that will prevent them from submitting them in time — a problem that plagued Washington, D.C. voters and some voters in Pennsylvania, where absentee voting skyrocketed in last week’s primary.

    Jeff Ellington — the president of Runbeck Election Services, which Georgia hired to send out its mail-in ballots — told TPM Monday that his company sent out the last batch of ballots on June 1, having received the final tranche of absentee voter data from the state a few days prior to that.

    Georgia’s election so far has not gone without its hiccups. […]

    There were major lines at early voting sites on Friday, with some voters waiting for more than six hours to cast a ballot. Georgia, like many states, has had to reduce polling places because of the challenges COVID-19 poses, and social distancing requirements further limited the number of people who could be inside the voting sites that remained open.

    Meanwhile, absentee voters in Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, experienced notable delays in receiving their mail-in ballots, causing confusion. The delay was caused in part by the elections office being closed for several days after an employee died of COVID-19. Election officials also blamed technical issues in processing ballot requests submitted by mail, according to an AP report.

  203. says

    Trump threw a tantrum … again.

    […] Trump had a fit on Monday morning on Twitter in response to a new CNN poll showing that the President is in deep trouble ahead of the presidential election in November.

    “CNN Polls are as Fake as their Reporting,” the President tweeted. “Same numbers, and worse, against Crooked Hillary.”

    The survey, which was held June 2-5 with 1,259 respondents, shows that Trump’s approval rating has sunk to 38 percent. Meanwhile, his disapproval rate skyrocketed to 57 percent, a whopping 6-point increase from CNN’s survey in May.

    To make matters worse, the poll also revealed that 55 percent of registered voters support Democratic president candidate Joe Biden, while only 41 percent back Trump.

    The survey has a 3.4 percent margin of error overall.

    The grim numbers indicate that Americans largely disapprove of Trump’s war-like response to the nationwide anti-police brutality protests.

    Additionally, CNN began its survey a day after Trump had peaceful protesters teargassed so he could take his infamous photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.


    Comments from readers:

    His routine is getting more than stale and everyone’s just had enough. Go back to whatever shithole you call home. Nobody wants to hear any more of your tantrums.
    he will leave office. He won’t have a single friend in D.C. including his family. And he’ll physically leave so as not to be filmed being carried out by the Secret Service, which is what they’d do if Biden is sworn in and Trump won’t go. They wouldn’t let the now non-president physically remain. They’d put him out on the sidewalk.
    I think there’s a better chance he resigns after the election.

    He will still claim he really “won” because the result was “rigged,” but he will come up with some reason that he has to leave office by his own choice rather than admit he was defeated.
    This would be the largest lead in a credible Presidential poll since Clinton over Dole in 1996. Definitely bigger news that “Trump having a tantrum”
    These polls are meaningless without electoral college projections and only serve to lull swing state “Lean Democrat” voters into staying home.
    Every single one of his enablers knows how to read a poll, and what they’re reading isn’t good. I’m absolutely sure he’ll be shocked to find that nobody will raise a hand to help him. He won’t be a damn president any more. He’ll be an obnoxious moron in a pile of legal trouble.

  204. says

    Pandemic sparked broadest economic collapse since 1870, World Bank says

    The coronavirus pandemic led to the furthest-reaching economic collapse globally since 1870, the World Bank said Monday.

    In the organization’s latest Global Economic Prospects Report, it said the scale of the economic contraction will be worse than any recession in 150 years due to the number of countries affected […]

    “This is a deeply sobering outlook, with the crisis likely to leave long-lasting scars and pose major global challenges,” Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, World Bank Group vice president for equitable growth, finance and institutions, said.

    Pazarbasioglu told reporters that between 70 million and 100 million people will end up in extreme poverty due to the recession, exceeding the previous estimate of 60 million, and that even as a rebound is expected by 2021, a potential second wave could hinder the recovery and trigger a “wave of defaults.”

    Pazarbasioglu said the World Bank’s current worst-case scenario projected a contraction of up to 8 percent but said “given this uncertainty, further downgrades to the outlook are very likely.” […]

    if the forecast of a 4.2 percent global recovery in 2021 proves accurate, “in many countries, deep recessions triggered by COVID-19 will likely weigh on potential output for years to come,” the report said.

  205. blf says

    In Ozland, Black Lives Matter protesters referred to our count of 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody. It’s now 437:

    Over the weekend, Black Lives Matter protests brought thousands onto the streets campaigning for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody.

    Many signs at rallies referred to the 432 deaths that are known to have happened since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody delivered its final report in 1991.

    That figure is based on Guardian Australia’s findings from a two-year long project to monitor Aboriginal deaths in custody, Deaths Inside.

    We updated the database and published new results on Saturday. We found the number had risen to 434.

    But by Saturday morning even that number was already out of date. Just before marches began in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and towns around the country, the department of corrective services in Western Australia confirmed that a 40-year-old Aboriginal man had died in custody at Acacia prison, near Perth.

    As of today, based on reports that have reached us from families and other sources, including coronial reports, we can say that number is now at least 437.


  206. says

    Follow-up to comment 248.

    […] Joseph Maguire, a retired three-star admiral who served as Mr. Trump’s acting intelligence chief, invoked the comments of Mr. Mattis and two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also criticized the president this week.

    “Jim Mattis, Mike Mullen and Marty Dempsey are all good friends, and I respect them tremendously,” Admiral Maguire said in an interview. “I am in alignment with their views.”

    Asked who Mr. Boehner and Mr. Ryan will vote for in November, representatives to both former House speakers declined to say.

    Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asked if she would support Mr. Trump for re-election, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that she didn’t want to discuss politics right now, adding that her focus was on addressing divisions in the country. She did not support Mr. Trump in 2016. […]

    NY Times link

  207. says

    Armed ‘Militia’ Saves California Town From Non-Existent BLM Protest

    In what was perhaps a letdown for some members of the armed, unofficial organization known as the “California State Militia,” no Black Lives Matter protest took place in Oakdale on Saturday.

    Instead, all the heavily armed group got was an earful from the cops.

    The California State Militia’s “Echo Company” — part of a larger group of gun lovers with no actual law enforcement authority, just plenty of free time — did not come out to protest the police killing of George Floyd. Rather, they were invited by a local business owner to guard their property against a rumored protest that never actually took place, police told The Modesto Bee.

    It’s not exactly clear where the speculation began, but a couple posts online suggested a flier that had, purposefully or not, incorrectly advertised a rally. The small town of about 24,000 people is a two-hour drive east of San Francisco.

    A group of men wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying long rifles guarded H-B Saloon and adjacent business on Saturday; the building owner invited the militiamen to stand guard, Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller told The Modesto Bee. Some from Echo Company stood guard from the roof, ever vigilant for what turned out to be non-existent threat.

    The organization is well-known among the fringe armed groups in the state, and photos from Echo Company’s Facebook page show crowded shooting range sessions and other fun activities like wading through chest-high water — “river crossing and navigation” — and lugging comically large sniper rifles. […]

    “The group wearing military attire were not members of the U.S. National Guard and they had no affiliation with the Oakdale Police Department or any of our partner agencies,” the Oakdale Police Department said in a Facebook post Sunday, noting they had heard residents’ concerns about “people dressed in camouflage or ‘militia’ at a downtown business.”

    The county sheriff said Sunday that the group’s presence “was counterproductive to keeping the peace in the City of Oakdale” and “did nothing to protect the city.” […]

    California is not an open-carry state, so questions remain as to why armed militia men were there openly carrying guns.

  208. says

    A Virginia County is considering hate crime charges after a “KKK Leader” drove a truck into a group of protesters.

    Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor announced Monday that she is weighing hate crimes charges for an “admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan” after he allegedly steered his pickup truck into a group of protesters.

    “The accused, by his own admission and by a cursory glance at social media, is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology,” she said in a statement provided to TPM. “We are investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate.”

    Henrico County Police identified the man publicly as Harry Rogers, a 36-year-old from nearby Hanover County, and said that he has so far been charged with attempted malicious wounding, felony vandalism and assault and battery. He is being held without bond.

    Per police, Rogers allegedly committed his offense on Sunday evening in Lakeside, Virginia. Multiple witnesses reported that a vehicle revved its engine and “drove through the protesters occupying the roadway.” Police said that a victim was checked out at the scene but declined further treatment.

    Taylor confirmed that the victim’s injuries did not seem “serious,” though she added that the attack on peaceful protesters was still “heinous and despicable.”

    Pictures provided to TPM by Justice RVA, a local activist group supporting anti-racism protests, show Rogers smoking a cigarette and talking with police officers. The group told TPM that the pictures were taken while the officers were collecting witness statements after Rogers had drove into the crowd.

    “He was not put into handcuffs until after EVERY statement was taken,” the group said in an email.

    This is not the first time Rogers has made headlines in the commonwealth.

    In 2016, he created a stir by dressing in white robes emblazoned with a KKK insignia and waving a Confederate flag next to a war memorial in Colonial Heights, Virginia.

    He identified himself then as “Skip” — the same nickname he uses for his business, Skip’s Firewood Service — and said that he was a member of the National Association for the Awakening of Confederate Patriots, which uses the same NAACP acronym as the famous civil rights organization.

    The group’s Facebook page, which hasn’t been active since 2015, is littered with pictures of guns and grievances about the “outlawing of American history” in the form of removing Confederate iconography.


    The police did not immediately put handcuffs on him, nor did they make him lie face down on the pavement, nor did they kneel on his neck.

  209. says

    An ugly, internet-based attack from rightwing trolls is ongoing against BLM groups.

    […] 4chan, a notorious alt-right troll hub online, is trying to meddle in protesters’ online operations.

    On Sunday night, users of 4chan made several highly trafficked posts with links to dozens of Black Lives Matter channels on Telegram, a privacy-oriented, encrypted messaging app that has been used for organizing protests across the country. Users on 4chan encouraged others to post disinformation in the groups, find “incriminating” information that they can pass to law enforcement, and trawl the channels for as much personal, identifying, and organizational information as they can about people in the groups.

    Some have already posted the phone numbers of volunteers organizing food and water for protesters, and phone numbers for jail support for arrested protesters. […] the implication is to harass the person on the other end of the line. In some cases, users in the threads are also doxxing what they believe to be “Antifa safehouses” by posting addresses of these homes. […]

    “A lot of these retards have identifying info on their telegram profiles, instagram, personal website, real name, phone number, etc. get that,” another wrote, urging other 4channers to store what they found on internet archive sites like and Pastebin (links on Pastebin aren’t accessible, suggesting that the site may have taken moderation action). Others encouraged people to share their findings with “trustworthy public sources” and “right wing journalists.”

    […] Many of the Black Lives Matter channels don’t let anyone without authorization post. And administrators of some of the channels seem to be aware of the people trying to infiltrate. […]

    4channers aren’t the only group monitoring Black Lives Matter Telegram channels. Extremist groups that label themselves as various brands of facist and white supremacists have compiled lists of Black Lives Matter channels on their own Telegram channels, and frequently repost content from BLM organizers on their pages.

    White supremacists and far-right extremists on Telegram have been a recurring problem that the platform has been unwilling to handle. The encrypted messaging service took action against public ISIS channels, but has been unwilling to do the same with far-right extremists, leaving up channels that compile lists of Jewish people, and others that encourage white supremacist violence.


  210. John Morales says

    Across the sea, in Aotearoa:

    New Zealand’s Commissioner Andrew Coster announced that Armed Response Teams (ARTs) would no longer be part of the future New Zealand policing model.

    The decision comes a six-month trial of armed patrol units organised in response to last year’s Christchurch shootings, where 51 worshipers were killed at two mosques.


    Police encouraged the public to submit their views on whether or not ARTs made their communities feel safer and whether they should be established across New Zealand.

    Thousands of responses indicated the ARTs did not make their communities feel safer.

  211. says

    AJ – “Brazil: Rival rallies held for and against Bolsonaro”:

    Thousands of people in Brazil have defied a lockdown to demonstrate against what they see as threats to democracy and health under President Jair Bolsonaro.

    He has described the protesters as ‘terrorists” and says he will continue pushing to arm ordinary Brazilians to defend the country.

    In Rio de Janeiro, a group of Bolsonaro supporters ridiculed his opponents calling them “the antifas”, or antifascists.

    President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the dangers of the disease throughout the outbreak.

    Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports….

    Video report atl.

    ITV – “Beleaguered Bolsonaro moves to shore up support”:

    Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is focused on ensuring his political survival and is mobilising far-right supporters to help him do so as the coronavirus claims tens of thousands of lives in the country.

    With less than one-third of Brazilians approving of Mr Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic, and protests against him increasing, analysts say he is shoring up his base to shield himself from possible impeachment and to improve governability.

    “He’s losing support and needs something to put in its place,” said Maurício Santoro, a professor of political science at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.

    “Bolsonaro needs people on the street defending him.”

    Casting doubt on Covid-19 statistics has been a mainstay in far-right circles and Mr Bolsonaro has amplified such claims.

    So far the disease has killed more than 36,000 Brazilians, although such information is now unavailable on the Brazilian Health Ministry’s website. It stopped publishing cumulative totals last Friday, the day after Brazil surpassed Italy to register the world’s third highest death toll.

    After a backlash, a senior Health Ministry official told reporters on Monday that the body would restore the cumulative death toll to its website, as early as Tuesday, but with changes to the methodology for how daily deaths are tallied.

    Critics complained that the extraordinary move to not report the death toll resembled tactics used by authoritarian regimes.

    It came after months of Mr Bolsonaro downplaying Covid-19 and maintaining economic meltdown would inflict worse hardship than allowing the virus to run its course.

    Pollster Datafolha found roughly 30% of Brazilians surveyed on May 25-26 rated Mr Bolsonaro as good or excellent and approved of his handling of the pandemic.

    Bolsonaro foes, seeing weakness, have submitted more than 30 requests for impeachment to Congress, where so far they have been stalled by the lower house speaker.

    The president’s allies hope energised supporters could make it costly to support such moves.

    The muted support for Mr Bolsonaro was on display over the weekend, with protests against his government held in 20 cities while pro-government demonstrations were significantly smaller than prior weekends.

    Mr Bolsonaro still enjoys considerable support on the far right. Backers in April were quick to join his call to defy social isolation recommendations even as the outbreak started exploding. They then echoed the president’s call to treat Covid-19 with chloroquine, which many doctors refuse to prescribe owing to a lack of evidence it can help, and the fear it may hurt some.

    Mr Bolsonaro has tried to vitalise his base by joining weekend rallies in the capital that feature banners denouncing the Supreme Court and Congress, sometimes in lurid terms, for undermining his administration.

    On May 31, he flew over the crowd in an Army helicopter and, after landing, rode into the plaza on horseback flanked by mounted military police.

    On Friday, he pledged to make it easier for police officers and servicemen to import guns for personal use, part of the far-right’s longstanding demand to make guns more accessible.

  212. says

    Re #235 and others above – Trump just tweeted: “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

    Quoting the tweet, MSNBC reported that Gugino is still in the hospital.

  213. says

    I forgot to mention above – one of the photo captions in the ITV report @ #274 above reads: “Fans of two distinct soccer clubs hold a banner that reads in Portuguese ‘We are for Democracy’, as they joined forces for a recent anti-government protest in Sao Paulo.” I would love to hear more about the role of soccer fans in the protests. This is the second time I’ve seen it mentioned in the past several days (see #16 above).

  214. says

    Politico – “Trump to restart MAGA rallies this month despite coronavirus”:

    Donald Trump is planning to restart rallies in the next two weeks in a major turning point for the president since the coronavirus shut down traditional campaigning.

    Trump’s advisers are still determining where the rallies will take place and what safety measures will be implemented, depending on the type of venue chosen. Campaign manager Brad Parscale is expected to present Trump with possibilities within the next few days.

    The president has been itching to resume his boisterous rallies, his favorite way to connect with supporters and let off steam. He’s planning to use the events to drive home what is expected to be a major theme of his campaign: that he is the leader of the country’s reopening and economic rebound. Trump held a hastily-called press conference Friday to celebrate an unexpectedly strong jobs report, and his campaign immediately began running a massive ad campaign seizing on the news.

    “Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump. The great American comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous,” Parscale said in a statement. “You’ll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of.”

    The move comes at a precarious moment for Trump. National and swing state polls show him taking a major hit amid his handling of the pandemic and the social unrest that followed the killing of a African American man at the hands of Minnesota police. He is trailing Joe Biden substantially in many polls.

    The president’s team views the rallies as a way of rejuvenating his base and displaying the enthusiasm behind his reelection bid….

    While Trump is likely to face blowback for resuming in-person events while the coronavirus pandemic is still ravaging the country, his advisers contend that the recent massive protests in metropolitan areas will make it harder for liberals to criticize him.

    With the election less than five months away, there’s a growing sense of urgency within the Trump campaign….

  215. says

    CNN – “Fact Check: McEnany makes false claim about Romney’s share of black vote”:

    During a White House briefing on Monday, a reporter asked White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany if President Donald Trump agrees with Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who marched in a Washington protest on Sunday, that “black lives matter.”

    McEnany did not directly address the question, but instead compared Trump’s performance with black voters in the 2016 presidential election to Romney’s performance in 2012, when he was the Republican presidential nominee.

    “Mitt Romney can say three words outside on Pennsylvania Avenue, but I would note this: that President Trump won 8% of the black vote. Mitt Romney won 2% of the black vote,” McEnany said.

    She then pivoted to attacking Romney’s past controversial comments, including his infamous 2012 campaign comment in which he said “47% of Americans will vote for the president no matter what” and that these people “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.” McEnany claimed that Trump took “great offense to those words.”

    Facts First: McEnany’s claim about Romney’s share of the black vote is false. And in 2012, Trump defended the Romney “47%” remarks by which McEnany is now claiming Trump is greatly offended.

    Trump did win 8% of the black vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to exit polls, but Romney won 6% of black voters, not 2%. Romney was running against the first black president.

    Trump also did not take offense to Romney’s 2012 comments, but supported them. In a 2012 appearance on CNN, Trump was asked about Romney’s comments, and said, “I don’t think he should be apologizing for anything,” adding that Romney’s comments needed to be debated in American politics.

    “This is something that has to be discussed. And, as you know, there are tremendous numbers of people — whether it’s 47% or close to 50% — that don’t pay taxes and that don’t pay income taxes, and probably lots of other taxes,” Trump said.

    Trump, of course, has not released his own tax filings, and it is unclear how much or how little he has paid in income tax. In 2019, The New York Times reported that Trump paid little to no income tax over a 10-year period.

    (As Willie Geist pointed out this morning on Morning Joe, it’s a little weird to hear someone bragging about how they lost 92% of the black vote. Also noteworthy that they understood Romney’s saying “black lives matter” to be an attack on Trump for which they needed to prepare a false counterattack.)

  216. says

    Incredible Guaridan (this was a typo but I’ve left it in their honor) liveblog: “UK protests live: all Labour councils in England and Wales to review statues as Rhodes Oxford demo starts.”

    Hundreds of protestors have gathered outside Oriel College in Oxford to demand the removal of a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes, my colleague Aamna Mohdin reports.

    Femi Nylander, an organiser for Rhodes Must Fall, welcomed the support the campaign had received from the local council, MP and the thousands who signed the petition to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes.

    He said: “It’s good to see public consciousness is changing. We are seeing a paradigm shift. You can see that everywhere.” He added that he hopes today’s protest will see the resurgence of the Rhodes Must Fall movement in Oxford.

    A tweet linked there: “Demonstrators chanting ‘decolonise’ at Oxford University and call for the Cecil Rhodes statue to be taken down. #RhodesMustFall”

  217. says

    Jake Sherman:

    …THE THEORY — that a 75-year-old man shoved by police amid protests in Buffalo was a violent antifa foot soldier — is so zany that Republican senators not only find no need to comment on it, but are refusing to physically view the tweet in public.

    @burgessev — our senior reporter who covers the Senate — has the tweet printed out, and senators are treating it as if it’s a bar of radioactive substance, refusing to read it in the presence of other human beings, and certainly declining comment on it.

    SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-Colo.) declined to look at the tweet because he was worried about getting to the Senate floor for an outdoors bill, @burgessev reports.

    SEN. JOHN THUNE — the No. 2 Senate Republican from South Dakota — said, “Well, I mean it’s a, it’s a, it’s a serious accusation, which should only be made with facts and evidence. And I haven’t seen any yet.” (h/t to the Hill pool on this quote)

    CORNYN — up for reelection in Texas — said he wouldn’t comment on the tweet.

    Also, Rubio: “I didn’t see it. you’re telling me about it. I don’t read Twitter. I only write on it.”

  218. says

    Here’s the summary from the liveblog @ #280 above:

    About 1,000 demonstrators gathered in Oxford to peacefully demand the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a 19th Century imperialist who critics say is steeped in colonialism and racism. Protestors sat in silence for several minutes before chanting “decolonise” at Oxford University, whose building the statue adorns. Organisers have announced a Black Lives Matter protest in the city on Saturday.

    Students of the Oxford University college at the centre of the Rhodes protest said the institution’s silence was “equal to complicity in the perpetuation of white privilege and supremacy”. Undergraduates at Oriel college said the university had “failed to address its own issues of racial inequality and history of colonialism”.

    The leader of Oxford City Council wrote to Oxford University inviting it to apply for planning permission to remove the statue. The college, which has resisted pressure to remove the statue for years, said it opposes racism and discrimination in all its forms and that it was committed to “debate and discuss” the issues raised by the monument.

    Dozens of people descended on Parliament square to pay their respects to George Floyd, who was killed by a US police officer and whose funeral took place in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday night. About 50 people then marched to Downing Street, some carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs, and chanted “we want Boris” and “justice for Windrush”.

    All Labour councils in England and Wales – including London and Manchester – vowed to review their statues and public monuments amid rising concern about the celebration of historical industrialists with links to the slave trade. The effect of the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol on Sunday rippled across the country, with hundreds of local authorities now expected to consider renaming public monuments.

    The Museum for London said it was working with partners to remove the statue of 18th Century slave owner Robert Milligan. The monument has become a focus of protest since it was targeted at the weekend.

    A statue of King Leopold II in Belgium was taken down after being vandalised and set on fire by protestors. The bust of the brutal colonialist is now expected to be retired to a museum in Antwerp.

  219. says

    SC @282, Trump is retweeting Russian propaganda and disinformation. He such a dolt.

    As Steve Benen said, “Trump saw the Buffalo video, learned of the public’s revulsion, and decided to go after the hospitalized old guy who was left bleeding on the ground.”

    I pointed out before that a 75-year-old man may not have good balance or reflexes. If you push him, he may fall harder than you expected him to fall. That is no excuse for pushing him in the first place. If I were stiff-armed by a policeman who was both younger and stronger than I am, I would fall down.

    More commentary:

    […] Where does one even start? With the fact that Trump can’t substantiate any of his new conspiracy theories with evidence? With the idea that we’re supposed to believe the elderly man was responsible for his own head injury? With the president’s apparent clarification as to what he thinks “law and order” means?

    […] this ties into Trump’s repeated promotion of violence against protestors [against protestors with whom he disagrees. He likes the while guys with big guns]

    […]: Trump is struggling with seniors, who were an important part of the 2016 coalition of voters who put him in power in the first place. The president didn’t do himself any favors with older voters in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and I have a hunch his thoughts on Buffalo won’t help, either.

    Indeed, I’m trying to imagine the conversation between Trump and his campaign strategists…

    Campaign team: Sir, you’re struggling with seniors, who were a key part of your 2016 coalition.

    Trump: What if I go after a 75-year-old man who was hospitalized after the police shoved him to the ground?

    Campaign team: We don’t think that’s —

    Trump: Someone get me my phone.

    * Update: Evidently, the conspiracy theory peddled by the president this morning originated on fringe, right-wing websites. The ridiculous theory has no basis in reality. Washington Post Link

    The person responsible for the absurd report Trump touted in his tweet is reportedly a former employee of Sputnik, Russia’s propaganda network.

    * Second Update: NBC News did a really nice job this morning tracking this bizarre theory from an anonymous Twitter thread, to an anonymous blog, to a right-wing media outlet, to the president of the United States


    From the Washington Post:

    […] The White House communications team has gone to great lengths to present […] Trump’s position on the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests as evenhanded and sympathetic. He has twice offered scripted responses to the protests that approximate the expected tone of a president faced with roiling unrest, including his comments from the White House Rose Garden on June 1 when he declared that he was “an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
    […] Efforts to present Trump as understanding of the protests, though, conflict with the president’s obvious and visceral dislike of what is happening and his determined effort to cast the protests as an extension of violent far-left opposition to American ideals. Trump keeps insisting that the worst effects of the early demonstrations were a function of “antifa,” a loosely knit movement that opposes fascism and racism. Antifa is a useful enemy for Trump in the moment, allowing him to avoid criticizing black protesters and to identify the opposing wing of American politics as dangerous. That the role of antifa has been limited has not prevented Trump from blaming it broadly. […]

    Gugino [the old man] approached, holding his phone in his hand, a police officer pushed him, causing Gugino to stumble backward, fall and hit his head on the pavement. […]

    That was the story, until the unfailingly pro-Trump network One America News ran a segment elevating ridiculous accusations about Gugino from a right-wing website called Conservative Treehouse. It’s not the first time that One America News has pushed out obviously nonsensical conspiracy theories. Earlier this year, reporter Chanel Rion reported that the coronavirus originated in North Carolina — because some random unidentified guy on Twitter said it had. Rion is OAN’s White House reporter, who attends White House press briefings at the invitation of the administration after the White House press corps barred her for violating social distancing efforts. […]

    If you’d like to see the report on Gugino to which Trump’s refers, it’s here. It’s so obviously false and so impressively sloppy that it’s not worth sharing directly. But we should nonetheless parse its contents.

    The report is from OAN’s Kristian Rouz, whose prior media employment was with Sputnik News — an outlet funded by the Kremlin. […] Rouz is no stranger to antifa conspiracy theories, having “reported” in 2017 that Hillary Clinton’s political action committee provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to antifa. […]

    This theory about Gugino scanning police communications devices is an obvious effort to create a justification for police to push him away. Cellphones can be used to record information from embedded chips that put out short-range signals; this is how tap-to-pay systems work, essentially. But beyond Gugino holding his phone in his hand, there’s no evidence this is what he was doing. There’s no evidence that the places he held his phone had any chips that would emit such a signal. There’s no evidence that if he had collected any information about the chips being used that he would be able to do anything with them. There’s no evidence — besides the claims of this one website — that this is an “old trick” used by antifa. Particularly since the implementation of near-field communications (as this short-range interface is called) has happened within the last 10 years. […]

    Gugino is obviously just gesticulating and pointing. The Conservative Treehouse blog — which slows Gugino’s motions down in order to make them appear more nefarious — argues that it’s suspicious when Gugino holds his phone near a police officer’s radio microphone. But that microphone is connected to the radio itself, which broadcasts publicly. What information is Gugino supposed to be picking up here? The frequency at which Buffalo police radios broadcast? If so, he could have saved himself a head wound by Googling it.

    Oh, but wait. Is this a false flag — a faked injury to cast the police in a negative light — or is it intelligence gathering? […]

    In another context, this would all be laughable, something not even worth parsing. It’s so sloppy and obviously untrue, and any actual media organization should be embarrassed to run it. Normally, we’d ignore it.

    But OAN has created a loyal viewer in Trump, thanks to its sycophantic coverage of his administration. And that means that Trump saw the report on Gugino, accepted it as believable enough to warrant consideration — and then shared it with 80 million people on Twitter.

    For some reason, Trump then decided to make his own assumptions about how the technology worked. Gugino was trying to “black out the equipment,” which means … what? He wanted to keep two police officers from being able to use their microphones? Well, the good news is that dozens more police were in earshot. Trump says Gugino was “aiming scanner,” which is a very scary-sounding way of saying he was “holding a phone.”

    Remember the bigger context: Trump is elevating this nonsense because it casts protesters in a negative light and police in a positive one. […] implying that Gugino somehow deserved to be pushed and injured by police because the police viewed him as being involved in criminal acts. Never mind that there’s a process for adjudicating claims about criminal activity that doesn’t depend on the police meting out physical punishment. And never mind that there’s no evidence that the police pushed Gugino because of that suspicion.

    […] The president of the United States apparently finds it less believable that the Buffalo police pushed an elderly man to the ground, injuring him, than that a 75-year-old activist deployed sophisticated technology to track police on behalf of a shadowy far-left militant movement and then threw himself on the ground in order to make the police look bad. […]

    Gugino remains hospitalized in critical condition.

  220. says

    Joy Reid: “The black funeral service — the black church service in general — is such a testament to the ability of a people to craft beauty and meaning out of the theft of all that you are and have. #GeorgeFloydFuneral #achangeisgonnacome #BlaclLivesMatter”

  221. says

    Update! – BBC – “Robert Milligan: Slave trader statue removed from outside London museum”:

    A statue of noted slaveholder Robert Milligan has been removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands.

    Sadiq Khan earlier announced a review of all of London’s statues and street names, saying any with links to slavery “should be taken down”.

    On Sunday, anti-racism protesters in Bristol tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston.

    Milligan’s monument was removed to “recognise the wishes of the community” said the Canal and River Trust.

    There were cheers and clapping as the monument was lifted from its plinth using a crane.

    The Museum of London Docklands said the statue of the prominent British Slave trader, who owned two sugar plantations and 526 slaves in Jamaica, had “stood uncomfortably” outside its premises “for a long time”.

    “The Museum of London recognises that the monument is part of the ongoing problematic regime of white-washing history, which disregards the pain of those who are still wrestling with the remnants of the crimes Milligan committed against humanity,” they added.

    The Canal and River Trust said it had worked with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the museum and partners in Canary Wharf to have it removed.

    As the Milligan statue was lowered from its plinth, thousands of people gathered outside an Oxford college to demand the removal of a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

    Mr Khan said London had to face “an uncomfortable truth” with its historical links to slavery.

    The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm will review the city’s landmarks – including murals, street art, street names, statues and other memorials – and consider which legacies should be celebrated before making recommendations.

    Mr Khan said London was “one of the most diverse cities in the world”, but said recent Black Lives Matter protests had highlighted that the city’s statues, plaques and street names largely reflect Victorian Britain.

    “It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade,” he said.

    “While this is reflected in our public realm, the contribution of many of our communities to life in our capital has been wilfully ignored.”

    During a Black Lives Matter protest in central London on Sunday, a statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square was sprayed with graffiti.

    But Mr Khan said he did not consider statues of the likes of Churchill to be included in the review.

    He said pupils needed to be educated about famous figures “warts and all” and that “nobody was perfect”, including the likes of Churchill, Gandhi and Malcolm X.

    Mr Khan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he did not have ownership of the statues and the land they are on.

    He also said it would be “inappropriate” to single out which statues and street names he thinks should go.

    Instead a number of new memorials in the capital have been pledged by Mr Khan, including ones for Stephen Lawrence, the Windrush generation, a National Slavery Museum or memorial and a National Sikh War Memorial….

    I’m so very glad Niall Ferguson has to watch this all go down.

  222. says

    From SC’s link in comment 289:

    Kinda surreal when the President starts accusing your 75 yr old friend of being an agent of ANTIFA.

    My friend Martin Gugino is an old man with cancer who is now in the hospital with brain damage after being pushed to the ground by a police officer he was trying to talk to.

    I hope Trump’s despicable behavior in regard to this violent act (see comment 285) takes his poll numbers down … again.

    About the polling, and how much it obviously bothers Trump:

    […] On Twitter, the president claimed he “retained” John McLaughlin’s services for this anti-polling endeavor. Trump added that he believes major American news organizers are conspiring against him, releasing “fake” results in order to “suppress” enthusiasm among his followers.

    OMFG. My bet is that Trump actually believes that. The man’s mind is gone.

    Before even considering the nature of the truly unhinged conspiracy theory, it’s worth pausing to appreciate the broader context. The United States is currently dealing with a deadly pandemic; millions have taken to the streets to demand social justice; and unemployment has reached levels unseen since the Great Depression. It’s against this backdrop that Trump is seeing polls showing his support slip — a fact he finds so ridiculous that he’s hired a pollster to go after other pollsters. […]

    Let’s also note that while Trump touted John McLaughlin as “highly respected,” McLaughlin is actually “notorious for producing rosy polling data on behalf of his clients.” Reflecting on the pollster’s record from the most recent national elections, the New York Times’ Nate Cohn described McLaughlin as “perhaps the worst pollster of 2018.” […]

    But even if we put aside these relevant details, Trump’s entire pitch is just pitiful. Major American news organizations are publishing made-up polls? While engaging in a mass conspiracy with rival outlets? All in the service of suppressing voter enthusiasm five months before Election Day? […]

    Perhaps most importantly, the McLaughlin memo the president is so excited about is based on the idea that pollsters are deliberately under-counting Republican voters. The subject line on the memo reads, “Skewed Media Polls.” […]


  223. says

    Another Trump photo-op goes horribly awry

    For a politician who focuses so heavily on appearances, Trump’s photo-ops keep going horribly awry.

    Photo at the link.

    Donald Trump cares a great deal about how things look. On Friday, for example, the White House forced reporters to sit closer together, despite the pandemic and the administration’s own safety guidelines, because the president’s team thought it would “look better.”

    Similarly, Trump wants to speak at his nominating convention in August in front of a large crowd that ignores safety precautions, because of his preoccupation with “a pre-coronavirus look and feel.” […]

    It’s been a staple of Trump’s style from the outset — up to and including his willingness to make personnel decisions based on his perceptions of “central casting.”

    But for a politician who focuses so heavily on appearances, many of his photo-ops have gone horribly awry.

    Last month, for example, the president visited a mask factory, where he refused to wear a mask. (“Live and Let Die” played over the facility’s loudspeaker to help punctuate the stranger-than-fiction moment.) Last week, Trump walked across a park that had been forcibly cleared of peaceful protestors, posed in front of a church, and briefly waved a Bible, creating a scandalous photo-op that ricocheted around the world.

    And then four days later, the president arrived in Maine for another photo-op that the White House’s advance team probably ought to regret. USA Today reported:

    […] Trump traveled to Maine Friday to tour a facility that makes medical swabs used for coronavirus testing, but the swabs manufactured in the background during his visit will ultimately be thrown in the trash, the company said. Puritan Medical Products said it will have to discard the swabs, a company spokeswoman told USA TODAY in response to questions about the visit.

    While Trump’s visit was underway, the images suggested something was amiss: the facility appeared to take care to create a sterile environment, which the president was indifferent toward. He did not wear a mask, and at one point, Trump picked up a swab — he wasn’t wearing gloves, either — and held it up to his nose.

    Given the circumstances, the fact that the facility is throwing away the swabs isn’t too surprising.

    The trouble, of course, is that these swabs are important: extensive coronavirus testing requires extensive access to swabs, and as USA Today’s article added, there’s a “national shortage” of the supplies […]

    Someone should ask how many swabs they threw away. The photo is bad.

  224. says

    Yeah, Trump came close to firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

    […] According to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday citing several administration officials, advisers and allies on Capitol Hill talked the President out of firing Esper. Officials told the Journal that Trump was “furious” over the defense secretary’s opposition to invoking the Insurrection Act.

    The officials also told WSJ that Trump consulted several advisers — which included White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; longtime Trump friend and outside adviser David Urban; and Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and James Inhofe (R-OK) — about their opinion regarding Esper’s stance, and Trump intended to fire the defense secretary that day.

    After speaking with advisers — who warned the President against firing Esper because it would put his administration in a tough spot — Trump held off, the officials told WSJ.

    Esper, however, began preparing a letter of resignation at the same time, officials told WSJ. The defense secretary considered resigning in light of his differences with the President regarding the military’s role, but aides and other advisers convinced him not to do it.

    TPM link

    It’s only a matter of time.

  225. says

    Follow-up to comment 295:

    I want to know which toady came up with the idea of using the Insurrection Act and then it planted into the Orange Gasbags head.

    ‘Cause he sure a sh#t didn’t come up with the idea on his own.

  226. says

    ‘Please God help us’: Georgia voters outraged after mass equipment failures block voting access

    Massive voting delays and machine failures have been reported throughout metro Atlanta according to social media users tracking the resulting frustration and outrage in the state. Still, the looping lines and bustling crowds reported at various precincts haven’t inspired the state’s Republican leadership to fess up to the obvious: Maybe rolling out new equipment the same year that the state faced the deadly coronavirus pandemic wasn’t the best idea.

    As many as 25 precincts in the state’s Gwinnett County, which is northeast of Atlanta, “didn’t have machines or other equipment up and ready to go” at 7 AM, Channel 2 Action News reporter Tony Thomas tweeted. “In some cases no scanners, or printers, or paper. That’s about 20% of precincts in (the) county [156 in total],” he said.

    A voter at the Metropolitan Library, which is about three miles south of downtown Atlanta, told CBS 46 he had been standing in line since 7 AM and the line wasn’t moving. All machines were reported down at the location, reporter Melissa Stern tweeted. […]

    Another CBS 46 video showed “outraged” voters who learned they couldn’t vote not only in Gwinnett County but throughout other areas of metro Atlanta. “I ran for office. I worked for President (Barack) Obama in the White House. This is wrong,” one woman yelled. “This is America. Please God help us. I mean it. This is a crisis in our world to make us not exercise our right to vote.” […]

    Gabriel Sterling, implementation manager for Georgia’s voting system, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “So far we have no reports of any actual equipment issues. […] We have reports of poll workers not understanding setup or how to operate voting equipment,” Sterling said. “While these are unfortunate, they are not issues of the equipment but a function of counties engaging in poor planning, limited training and failures of leadership.”

    Several Georgia residents, from social media users to the presiding officer of the DeKalb County Commission Steve Bradshaw, have called state officials out for prioritizing the blame game at this point. “It’s astounding to me what an abdication of leadership that is, to push the ownership down to the counties,” Bradshaw, a Democrat, told the AJC. “I was raised that if you mess up, fess up.”

    The state’s [Republican] leadership apparently doesn’t adhere to that principle. In addition to their moral ineptitude, there’s been little acknowledgment that maybe the same racial and economic disparities observed nationwide in education, incarceration, and health systems impact voting and elections too. […]

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Raisa Habersham tweeted that although she’s seen several reports of voting issues at precincts in downtown Atlanta and South Atlanta, “I want to point out that I haven’t seen or have been told of any voting issues at the precincts I’ve been to in Buckhead.” The neighborhood is one of Atlanta’s wealthiest communities. […]

    Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms begged voters not to allow their votes to be suppressed in a tweet Tuesday morning: “PLEASE stay in line. They should offer you a provisional ballot if the machines are not working.” […]

  227. says

    Lie, lies, and more damned lies:

    On Monday evening, the commissioner of the New York Police Department, Dermot Shea, put out a call urging New Yorkers to be vigilant against a dire threat. Warning that the NYPD had found “concrete disguised as ice cream at George Floyd protests,” Shea urged the public to report to detectives if they knew anything about this dire plot. This followed an earlier police alert saying that police had found cups “filled with cement and made to look like chocolate chip ice cream” in the area of protests.

    The only thing wrong with this story is … everything. First, the cups are not ice cream cups. They’re clearly small espresso cups. Second, there’s no attempt to disguise the contents as anything other than concrete that looks like concrete. Third, the side of each cup is marked with the percentage of different materials used in making the concrete. Because these cups were clearly created by construction workers testing out concrete mixes for use in a building or pavement, quite likely at the building where they were found.

    But this attempt to convince the public that protesters are—secretly, secretly—threatening violence is far from the most ridiculous example of police attempts to justify treating peaceful protesters like a deadly threat.

    If you’re going to justify all those tanks, body armor, and storm trooper helmets, it certainly helps to have a threat—even a make believe threat. And lots of make-believe crimes. Crimes like the one in this other NY Post story where a broken window was reported as: “Looters broke into a Soho Rolex store during rioting and stole $2.4 million worth of watches, police sources said Monday.” A statement that is backed up by a repeat: “’The Rolex store is empty,’ a police source said. ‘They stole like $2.4 million in Rolexes.’”

    What was actually stolen? Nothing. A couple of windows were broken. That was it. But why should the Post report that boring truth when the NYPD was happy to join them in a much more exciting story of million-dollar looters?

    Keeping the public on edge and convinced that protesters are violent and threatening is a demanding task, but police on both coasts have shown that they’re up for the challenge. In Seattle, there was the dastardly case of the “improvised explosives” reported by the police department there. Explosives that were clearly … smashed candles. […]


  228. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Martin Gugino is a peace activist with the Catholic Worker community, those wonderful lefty people inspired by Dorothy Day to actually take that “love your neighbor” stuff literally by feeding the hungry and working for peace. They’re thoroughly devoted to nonviolent activism in the Martin Luther King/Gandhian tradition. Gugino, like many Catholic Workers, also supported the Plowshares movement, those nifty folks who occasionally break into military bases to bang with hammers on missile silos, too. In other words, a grave threat to national security.

    Now, as anyone who watches movies knows, people who assault children, pets, or old folks are clearly the bad guys. So the Conservative Treehouse blog invented a load of horseshit claiming that Gugino was a “professional agitator and Antifa provocateur” who “brags on his blog about the number of times he can get arrested and escape prosecution.” (We looked at the link, and if there was any such bragging, we didn’t see it.) The post also claimed Gugino’s Twitter Account is also filled with anti-cop sentiment, although the account appears to have been deleted now. But the Treehouse post did indeed include a screenshot of a tweet in which Gugino wrote “Fuck the police,” and that clearly proves he’s a terrorist Antifa murderer, doesn’t it? […]

    More recently, Rouz [OANN’s Krstian Rouz] has done some perfectly sane journalism explaining that the Clintons, Soros, Anthony Fauci, and the Chinese government are all out to use the coronavirus to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids […].

    From Matthew Gertz:

    YIKES! OAN ran a segment last night on “mounting evidence of a globalist conspiracy” by the Clintons, Soros, Gates, Fauci, & Chinese gov’t to use coronavirus “to establish sweeping population control” by backing remdesvir over hydroxychlorquine. It cites Plandemic’s Mikovits!

    The OAN segment concludes, “There is concern that the deep-state Democratic cabal and the Big Pharma are working to derail President Trump’s reelection, and force the American people into total submission and control.”

    Trump has repeatedly endorsed this network.

    More from Wonkette:

    […] Yes, that’s a favorite source of “information” for the guy with the nuclear codes. And now the guy who wants to “dominate” Americans who oppose police brutality is passing along a load of crap claiming that a wily Antifa infiltrator faked his own injury to “set up” the innocent cops, while he was also spying on them. Shouldn’t be long before Trump starts passing along other far-Right lunacy, like the notion that Gugino had a secret fake-blood pumper that ran from his shoulder strap to his face mask […]

    Yes, that “fake-blood pumper” part of the conspiracy theory actually exists.

  229. says

    From Wonkette:

    We don’t know how to say this, but it seems Fox News is spreading some fake news about Black Lives Matter and the nationwide civil rights movement that has activated in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. It’s weird, because usually Fox News is so thoughtful and careful with its reporting. […]

    We’ll start with Tucker Carlson’s White Power Hour, then we’ll switch over to Laura Ingraham’s White Power Hour.

    They’re saying Tucker might lose some advertisers over this one, and we can see why. Here is a video of Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson saying that none of this is even about black lives, and you better remember that when “they” come for you. Who is “they”? Black people with lives, sounds like! […]
    [video at the link]

    TUCKER CARLSON: No matter what they tell you, it has very little to do with Black lives. If only it did. If Democratic leaders cared about saving the lives of Black people, and they should, they wouldn’t ignore the murder of thousands of young Black men in their cities every year. They wouldn’t put abortion clinics in Black neighborhoods. They would, instead, do their very best to improve the public schools and to encourage intact families which we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is central to the life prospects of children. They’d try to make Black neighborhoods as safe as their own neighborhoods. They would close the payday lenders that add so much misery to the lives of poor people of all colors.

    […] If only somebody would listen to white Republicans, then black people would be saved! Plus … payday lenders, a thing we have just learned Tucker Carlson has even said before. Congratulations on being right on one thing, Tuck!

    Bonus points for invoking the wingnut fundamentalist Christian lie that abortion is black genocide, because we all know forcing women to carry pregnancies to term so that white Republicans can deny them healthcare and housing works out way better, for black people.

    […] CARLSON: Anyone who has ever been subjected to the rage of the mob knows the feeling. It’s like being swarmed by hornets. You cannot think clearly. And the temptation is to panic. But you can’t panic. You got to keep your head and tell the truth. Tell the truth. If you show weakness of any kind, they will crush you.

    Oh nothing, just Tucker giving people advice on how to stand your ground when THEY come for you, because THEY definitely are going to do that. […]

    It’s like he’s giving marching orders for the race war, which makes sense, because Tucker Carlson is a white nationalist. Fox News swears he was referring to “Democratic leaders and inner city politicians,” not black people in general. In other words, Tucker didn’t mean to say Klan words that loudly […]

    Meanwhile, Laura Ingraham hosted a black guest who also said Black Lives Matter isn’t about black lives, but rather about … *spins wheel of Fox News grievances* … the gays! White Fox News idiots love it when a black person will say the extremely batshit stuff for them, because then they don’t have to say it out loud themselves […]

    This is Niger Innis, national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the executive director of some dumbass Tea Party group, and he has thoughts. […]
    [Video at the link]

    INNIS: The BLM movement […] was founded by Alicia Garza and a number of other co-founders that were promoting a hard Marxist and LGBT agenda. A gay agenda. […]


    INNIS: And look, I don’t have a problem with people exercising their First Amendment rights […] but I’ll be goddamned if you use the suffer[ing] and misery of black Americans and our legacy to the United States of America as your shield and use us as cannon fodder when your agenda really has not a damn thing to do with saving black lives. If you look at their agenda, defunding the police, that would put black lives in danger! […]

    Anyway, Laura Ingraham was like “I hadn’t been aware of the LGBTQ connection at all,” and Innis was like “Yeah!” and everything was great on Fox News, because everybody was full of shit […]

    The end.


  230. says

    From Wonkette:

    This weekend, the Florida Fraternal Order of Police announced a plan to recruit terrible, racist, violent cops from across the country to serve in the Brevard County Police department.

    All of the cops who were tired of being told they can’t beat up old Catholic Worker guys or pull college students out of cars and shock them with tasers for no reason, he said, would be welcome there and the city would have their backs if and when they felt the need to assault a citizen for funsies, […]

    Facebook Post: Hey Buffalo 57… and Atlanta 6… we are hiring in Florida. Lower taxes, no spineless leadership or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences… Plus… we got your back! #lawandorderflorida #movetowhereyouare♥️

    While the post was soon removed, Brevard County FOP President Bert Gamin claimed responsibility for it and stood by it in comments to Florida Today:

    “Our citizens have a right to protest peacefully and legally. They do not have a right to block roadways, trespass on private property or disobey lawful commands from law enforcement officers,” he wrote in response to emailed questions from FLORIDA TODAY.

    He also defended the incidents in Buffalo and Atlanta.

    “The police had the legal authority in both cases. At the time the warnings were provided, the citizens were already breaking the law. Those citizens chose to disregard the warnings. It led directly to escalations and confrontations with the police. When we issue lawful commands/warnings, citizens have a responsibility to comply. The reality is failure to comply leads to escalation.”

    “Failure to comply” should not mean the cops have free rein to assault people in any way they see fit. I am sorry, but if those cops in Buffalo, in full on riot gear, were so afraid for their lives due to the oncoming threat of a 75-year-old Catholic Worker walking very slowly that they had to push him down on the ground so hard that the guy literally bled from his ears. That is not an appropriate response.

    Also, leaving a protest in a car is not a “failure to comply” no matter how much the police might not like the thing they were protesting.

    This, friends, is why the AFL-CIO needs to dump the FOP.

    On the bright side of things, it turns out that ol’ Bert Gamin does not actually have the ability to recruit all of the bad cops in the land to come beat the shit out of innocent people in Brevard County. That distinction belongs Sheriff Wayne Ivey, and he would like to be very clear that the Brevard County police department will not be an asylum for wayward cops.

    Via Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    “To be clear, the ‘Brevard County F.O.P.’ page and organization has no official affiliation with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and was not authorized in any capacity by me or our agency to recruit or comment on our behalf!!,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey said on his own social media page. “The comments made by their members do not in any way represent the views of our agency and were made as individuals who were not acting in the capacity of a Law Enforcement Officer!!”

    […] It’s certainly strange to be on the side of a Sheriff and opposing a union president, but it’s 2020 and the FOP is trash anyway. Perhaps it is time for Gamin and all of the terrible cops he loves so much to consider employment elsewhere. […]


  231. says

    About Trump’s deteriorating condition:

    […] his [Trump’s] ability to see clearly and make good decisions, always questionable to begin with, may be deteriorating.

    […] his campaign has to spend a good deal of its time accommodating his mood swings and insecurity. The Daily Beast reports that the campaign recently spent $400,000 airing ads on Fox News in Washington, where they knew the president would see them — about as useless a campaign expenditure as one could imagine — to soothe Trump’s nerves and convince Republicans in Congress that he’s doing great.

    That’s right: His own campaign has to buy TV ads to communicate with him and keep him from going off the deep end. Even if it’s a relatively small expenditure given the size of his campaign (the reelection effort and affiliated groups have already spent more than $200 million, to little apparent effect), it’s an indication of what his campaign staffers have to spend their time worrying about.

    Meanwhile, we’re in a moment where Trump’s impulses put him on the wrong side of public opinion on the protests against police brutality sweeping the country. While polling shows broad, bipartisan support for the protests, Trump can only return again and again to the divisive rhetoric and disastrous stunts that he is convinced got him where he is. As The Post reports: “Some Republicans are expressing concern that the president, over the past two weeks, has further deepened the nation’s racial wounds and harmed the party’s electoral prospects.”

    Trump may be surprised to learn that for a change, deepening the nation’s racial wounds is not an effective political strategy. But either he can’t wrap his head around that reality, or he just can’t bring himself to do anything different.

    Casting about for something to improve his standing, Trump has resorted to bringing back the band of geniuses who worked for him in 2016. So again: If you were a Republican in a close race, would you look at the White House and say, “Oh good, Corey Lewandowski is back. Everything’s going to be okay”?

    If all you knew about Trump came from his public comments and the tweets in which he insists that the polls showing him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden are all fake, you might believe that he is oblivious to the problem he faces. But that’s clearly not true. He may have built a career on confidence and bluster, but he is not unaware of the many failures he’s had along the way, even if he has faith that with enough persistence he can come out on top. […]

    There are certainly some Republicans who believe the same of Trump — that his instincts are so insightful and his decision-making so visionary that despite the way things look right now, he’ll pull out another unexpected triumph. But they have less and less reason to think so.

    Washington Post link

  232. says

    ICE had to be ordered by a federal judge to provide detainees with soap amid pandemic

    A federal judge has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to give people detained at three Florida facilities soap, cleaning supplies, and masks to protect them against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Miami Herald reports. “The judge stopped short of ordering that detainees be released, but the ruling—which was critical of the government’s treatment of people in ICE custody—was still a victory for the detainees who filed the lawsuit back in April,” the report said.

    “In sum, in this moment of worldwide peril from a highly contagious pathogen, the court is not satisfied that ICE’s commitment to detention has meaningfully shifted since the start of the pandemic,” District Judge Marcia Cooke wrote, the report continued. Deservedly critical, but that ICE has to be forced to provide detained people with essential items to protect themselves against a virus that has already killed over 110,000 people in the U.S. so far is a disgrace. […]

    Detainees asked for soap, masks, and other essential items in April.

  233. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #303 above (wow):

    …[Tucker Carlson:] They would close the payday lenders that add so much misery to the lives of poor people of all colors.

    […] If only somebody would listen to white Republicans, then black people would be saved! Plus … payday lenders, a thing we have just learned Tucker Carlson has even said before. Congratulations on being right on one thing, Tuck!…

    He’s right that payday lenders suck, but he knows his claims about Dems are bullshit. Payday lenders have been a major target of Elizabeth Warren’s and other Democrats’ for years.

    From the world of reality – ProPublica last year – “How Payday Lenders Spent $1 Million at a Trump Resort — and Cashed In”:

    In mid-March, the payday lending industry held its annual convention at the Trump National Doral hotel outside Miami. Payday lenders offer loans on the order of a few hundred dollars, typically to low-income borrowers, who have to pay them back in a matter of weeks. The industry has long been reviled by critics for charging stratospheric interest rates — typically 400% on an annual basis — that leave customers trapped in cycles of debt.

    The industry had felt under siege during the Obama administration, as the federal government moved to clamp down. A government study found that a majority of payday loans are made to people who pay more in interest and fees than they initially borrow. Google and Facebook refuse to take the industry’s ads.

    On the edge of the Doral’s grounds, as the payday convention began, a group of ministers held a protest “pray-in,” denouncing the lenders for having a “feast” while their borrowers “suffer and starve.”

    But inside the hotel, in a wood-paneled bar under golden chandeliers, the mood was celebratory. Payday lenders, many dressed in golf shirts and khakis, enjoyed an open bar and mingled over bites of steak and coconut shrimp.

    They had plenty to be elated about. A month earlier, Kathleen Kraninger, who had just finished her second month as director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, had delivered what the lenders consider an epochal victory: Kraninger announced a proposal to gut a crucial rule that had been passed under her Obama-era predecessor.

    Payday lenders viewed that rule as a potential death sentence for many in their industry. It would require payday lenders and others to make sure borrowers could afford to pay back their loans while also covering basic living expenses. Banks and mortgage lenders view such a step as a basic prerequisite. But the notion struck terror in the payday lenders. Their business model relies on customers — 12 million Americans take out payday loans every year, according to Pew Charitable Trusts — getting stuck in a long-term cycle of debt, experts say. A CFPB study found that three out of four payday loans go to borrowers who take out 10 or more loans a year.

    Now, the industry was taking credit for the CFPB’s retreat. As salespeople, executives and vendors picked up lanyards and programs at the registration desk by the Doral’s lobby, they saw a message on the first page of the program from Dennis Shaul, CEO of the industry’s trade group, the Community Financial Services Association of America, which was hosting the convention. “We should not forget that we have had some good fortune through recent regulatory and legal developments,” Shaul wrote. “These events did not occur by accident, but rather are due in large part to the unity and participation of CFSA members and a commitment to fight back against regulatory overreach by the CFPB.”

    This year was the second in a row that the CFSA held its convention at the Doral. In the eight years before 2018 (the extent for which records could be found), the organization never held an event at a Trump property.

    Asked whether the choice of venue had anything to do with the fact that its owner is president of the United States and the man who appointed Kraninger as his organization’s chief regulator, Shaul assured ProPublica and WNYC that the answer was no. “We returned because the venue is popular with our members and meets our needs,” he said in a written statement. The statement noted that the CFSA held its first annual convention at the Doral hotel more than 16 years ago. Trump didn’t own the property at the time.

    The CFSA and its members have poured a total of about $1 million into the Trump Organization’s coffers through the two annual conferences, according to detailed estimates prepared by a corporate event planner in Miami and an executive at a competing hotel that books similar events. Those estimates are consistent with the CFSA’s most recent available tax filing, which reveals that it spent $644,656 on its annual conference the year before the first gathering at the Trump property. (The Doral and the CFSA declined to comment.)

    “It’s a way of keeping themselves on the list, reminding the president and the people close to him that they are among those who are generous to him with the profits that they earn from a business that’s in severe danger of regulation unless the Trump administration acts,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of consumer group Americans for Financial Reform.

    The money the CFSA spent at the Doral is only part of the ante to lobby during the Trump administration. The payday lenders also did a bevy of things that interest groups have always done: They contributed to the president’s inauguration and earned face time with the president after donating to a Trump ally.

    But it’s the payment to the president’s business that is a stark reminder that the Trump administration is like none before it. If the industry had written a $1 million check directly to the president’s campaign, both the CFSA and campaign could have faced fines or even criminal charges — and Trump couldn’t have used the money to enrich himself. But paying $1 million directly to the president’s business? That’s perfectly legal.

    The inauguration of Donald Trump was a watershed for the payday lending industry. It had been feeling beleaguered since the launch of the CFPB in 2011. For the first time, the industry had come under federal supervision. Payday lending companies were suddenly subject to exams conducted by the bureau’s supervision division, which could, and sometimes did, lead to enforcement cases.

    Before the bureau was created, payday lenders had been overseen mostly by state authorities. That left a patchwork: 15 states in which payday loans were banned outright, a handful of states with strong enforcement — and large swaths of the country in which payday lending was mostly unregulated.

    Then, almost as suddenly as an aggressive CFPB emerged, the Trump administration arrived with an agenda of undoing regulations….

    Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson is both a genuine reactionary douche and a huge populist phony, as is true of so many of them.

  234. says

    G liveblog:

    Brazil has restored detailed Covid-19 data to the official national website, Reuters reports, following a scandal about the removal of cumulative totals and a ruling by a Supreme Court justice that the full set of information be reinstated.

  235. Akira MacKenzie says


    Hey! Bolsonario!


    (And may you and your children end up on the business end of a Guillotine or a firing squad. através da revolução…FUCKER!!!)

  236. blf says

    New York lawmakers vote to scrap police discipline secrecy law:

    New York lawmakers voted on Tuesday to repeal a decades-old law that shields police officers’ disciplinary records from the public. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign the bill into law […]


    On Monday, the legislature voted to ban the use by police of chokeholds. […]

    Advocates for police accountability have long been pushing for the repeal of the contentious section of New York’s Civil Rights Law, 50-a, that prevented disclosure to the public of disciplinary records of police officers.

    “The legislation that will be passed over the coming days will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that brutality, racism, and unjustified killings will not be tolerated,” New York Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

    New York police unions have called the legislation an attack on police.

    The message has been sent very clearly to police officers by our elected officials: We don’t like you, Richard Wells, president of the statewide union the Police Conference of New York, told reporters. We don’t respect you. We will not support you. We want you to go away. […]

    A better interpretation might be: “The message has been sent very clearly to police officers by our elected officials: We don’t tolerate your tactics nor your immunity from prosecution for using illegal tactics. We don’t respect brutality. We will not support those who engage in such brutality. We want policing by consent.”

  237. blf says

    In case you missed it, Trump’s former lawyer compared protesters to terrorists:

    Trump’s former personal lawyer, John Dowd, rushed to Trump’s defense. His letter — a personal note to Mattis, whom he addresses as “Jim” — is an unusual and disturbing document. In it, Dowd accuses Mattis of letting himself be used by a bunch of hack politicians and aligning himself with the ugly, hateful, disgraceful attitudes of Democratic politicians. Mattis, Dowd asserts, has sullied his once-sterling reputation for all time.

    But Dowd’s letter does more than simply seek to discredit Mattis. By way of justifying the president’s [sic] use of force in DC, Dowd brands those collected in Lafayette Park as phony protesters who were not peaceful and are not real. They were, Dowd declares, terrorists. […] He is describing citizens who were doing what the constitution recognizes as a fundamental right — engaging in peaceable protest. That is, until, without warning, they were stormed in a show of force that smacked of an authoritarian crackdown.


    In labeling protesters as terrorists, Dowd engages in something far more ominous and shocking than mere rhetorical overkill. He is effectively erasing the difference between Americans peaceably exercising their constitutional rights and Isis insurgents laying down roadside explosives.

    That Trump has approvingly retweeted Dowd’s unhinged rhetoric is disturbing enough. More alarming still, Dowd’s words find a powerful echo in Tom Cotton’s recent, alarming call in the New York Times for an overwhelming show of force to restore order to the streets of America — shock and awe as a tool for pacifying the American citizenry. […]

    [… I]f he [hair furor] loses re-election he will almost certainly frame his electoral defeat as a fraud orchestrated by the Democratic party and the mainstream press.

    Imagine, then, that pro-Biden demonstrators take to the streets, demanding that Trump leave office. Does anyone believe Trump would recoil from invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 […] to use troops to restore order? […]

    Come the weeks after 3 November, it is doubtful that an impulsive, cornered Trump would listen to calls for restraint — not with the likes of John Dowd and Tom Cotton whispering in the president’s [sic] inflamed ear.

    Another, related, opinion column, Think Trump is bad? President Tom Cotton would be even more terrifying:

    The Arkansas senator, who seems likely to run in 2024, is a dangerous extremist who appeals to the Republican establishment and Trump’s base

    If you were going to write a novel about a bigoted southern Republican senator eager to turn the US into a military dictatorship, it would feel heavy-handed to name the protagonist Tom Cotton. The only thing less subtle, perhaps, would be calling him Tommy Plantation.

    But this is real life, I am afraid, not a dystopian novel — and real life in 2020 does not seem interested in subtlety. Nor does Cotton. […] Send in the troops, the headline bluntly declared. The nation must restore order, it continued. Nothing says “land of the free” like turning your troops on your own people.

    […] According to a Washington Post reporter, Cotton has “quintupled his fundraising” since the fracas started. He has also garnered the public approval of Donald Trump.

    […] Despite having the charisma of a soggy bag of lettuce, the senator is hugely powerful: Cotton has influenced many of Trump’s decisions, including cuts to legal immigration and the banning of commercial flights between the US and China during the early days of Covid-19. He is also the guy who told Trump it would be a great idea to buy Greenland. When not urging the acquisition of the world’s largest island, Cotton can often be found fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia. He has repeatedly used the phrases China virus and Wuhan virus and has floated the conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was created by the Chinese government in a weapons lab.

    [… Cotton] appeals to the Trump wing of the Republican party, but, crucially, he also has strong ties with the establishment. “How many guys in town can give a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations and also get kudos in the pages of Breitbart?” Steve Bannon asked the New Yorker in 2017. “The answer is, one guy.” That guy? Cotton.

    We will eventually see the end of Trump’s presidency [sic], but it will be far harder to get rid of Trumpism. The question is: how will Trump’s legacy evolve? Will it fade into the fringes or take on a more serious, more sinister, facade? Trumpism is largely defined by incompetence and farce, but Cotton could spin it into something a lot more terrifying and even more tragic.

  238. blf says

    Al Jazeera’s attempt at a live blog (they still haven’t figured it out), reports:

    Statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond torn down, set on fire and thrown into a lake.

    A statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond, Virginia, was torn down by protesters. […]

  239. says

    On IG firing, Pompeo’s version of events starts to look a little worse

    Pompeo ousted the State Department’s inspector general, who was investigating him at the time. The secretary’s defense is looking quite shaky. (Understatement.)

    It’s been nearly a month since Donald Trump — late on a Friday night — fired the State Department’s inspector general at the behest of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It quickly became apparent that the independent watchdog, Steve Linick, was ousted in the midst of his office’s investigations into possible Pompeo misconduct.

    The cabinet secretary initially said he didn’t know about Linick’s probes. Pompeo changed direction soon after, conceding that he was, in fact, aware of the IG’s investigation into Pompeo’s role in circumventing Congress on a dubious arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

    Last week, NBC News reported on a private congressional interview in which Linick said he was reviewing controversies related directly to Pompeo — including an inquiry into possible misuse of department resources — and the watchdog alerted top Pompeo aides to the inquiry. This morning, the House Foreign Affairs Committee released a lengthy transcript of the Linick interview in which he described talking about probes with Undersecretary of State Brian Bulatao, Deputy Secretary Steve Biegun, and Executive Secretary Lisa Kenna.

    I didn’t want them to be surprised,” Linick said of the State Department officials, while referencing the materials he was seeking as part of the investigation.

    A Washington Post analysis added this morning:

    …Bulatao is one of Pompeo’s closest allies, having previously served as chief operating officer of the CIA when Pompeo served as the intelligence agency’s director. Pompeo said in an interview last year that Bulatao was one of his “longest, best friends in the whole world.” So in order for Pompeo’s defense to hold up, Linick would have informed all of these high-ranking officials — including a very close ally in Bulatao — and requested documents from the secretary’s office, yet none of this would have been brought to Pompeo’s attention.

    Remember, according to Pompeo, the idea that he fired his own agency’s independent watchdog couldn’t have been to derail the investigator because, according to the secretary, he had no idea he was under investigation.

    That was dubious at the time. It seems a bit worse now.


    I still can’t figure out why Pompeo thought he could get away with the lie. It was a big lie, and the truth had already been shared among many people.

  240. says

    Regarding Trump’s fake religiosity:

    In an interview last week, Sean Spicer asked Donald Trump whether he’s grown in his faith, and whether he prays often. “So I think maybe I have [grown spiritually], from the standpoint that I see so much that I can do,” [Trump] replied. “I’ve done so much for religion. The Johnson Amendment, getting rid of it…. Nobody thought any of this stuff would happen.”

    Trump did not, in reality, get rid of the Johnson Amendment, though it’s a lie he enjoys repeating. But just as importantly, his answer offered a peek into a curious perspective: asked about his religiosity, Trump’s instinct was to reflect on how impressed he is with himself.

    As a result, polls like these seem inevitable.

    As […] Trump leans on religion to reconnect with his political base ahead of the November election, most Americans dismiss the notion that he himself is a man of faith. Only 27 percent of registered voters in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll said they somewhat or strongly agree that Trump himself is religious, while 55 percent somewhat or strongly disagree.

    How disappointing for the Trump campaign.

    […] It was a few weeks ago when Trump held a hastily thrown together White House event in which he declared houses of worship “essential” during the pandemic crisis. The president added that he’d override governors that kept houses or worship closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    […] this was meaningless theater. It’s not up to Trump to decide who and what is deemed “essential” at the state level, and he lacked the authority to mandate open religious services.

    […] The same was true when Trump briefly posed with a Bible at St. John’s Episcopal Church — after peaceful protestors were removed by force from Lafayette Square, clearing a path for the president’s photo-op. A day later, he toured a Catholic shrine for no particular reason.

    […] the public’s skepticism is hardly outrageous. As regular readers know, Trump — a thrice-married former casino owner — claimed to go to a New York church that rarely saw him. Asked if he’s ever asked God for forgiveness, he said, “I don’t think so.” Asked whether he’s drawn more to the New or Old Testaments, Trump replied, “Both.”

    And, of course, there was the whole “Two Corinthians” incident.

    If the president’s campaign strategy is rooted in performative displays of religion, he might need to start looking for a Plan B.


  241. says

    Trump blindsided his own admin … again!

    Trump didn’t just surprise our allies by deciding to move troops out of Germany; he also surprised the Trump administration.

    […] Trump is slashing the U.S. troop presence in Germany by nearly 30%. As part of the same directive, [he] is capping the number of American servicemen and women who can be deployed to Germany at 25,000, despite troop levels that are routinely twice as high.

    As we discussed, the WSJ had a follow-up report noting that the Republican White House’s decision “surprised” the United States’ allies, whom Trump hadn’t bothered to consult or inform in advance of the move. Evidently, as Reuters reported, the Trump administration was caught off guard, too.

    Trump’s decision to cut U.S. troop levels in Germany blindsided a number of senior national security officials, according to five sources familiar with the matter, and the Pentagon had yet to receive a formal order to carry it out,[…]

    One U.S. official told Reuters that personnel at the Defense Department were left “scrambling” to figure out the effects of Trump’s announcement on relations with Germany. Another source said senior officials at the State Department, Pentagon, and National Security Council were blindsided and “learned something was up when calls started coming around and the WSJ article hit.”

    Part of the problem with the American president’s gambit is substantive: with this one move, Trump is undercutting NATO and handing the Kremlin a victory for no apparent reason. […]

    Trump appears to have kept most of the relevant players — in his administration, in Berlin, in other foreign capitals, on Capitol Hill — in the dark. […]

    Trump did speak to Vladimir Putin before making the announcement, but it’s not clear if they spoke about troop withdrawals in Germany. […]

  242. says

    Good news for Justice, bad news for Michael Flynn:

    The judge presiding for Michael Flynn’s case was told by the former prosecutor he appointed to advise him that he should deny the Justice Department request and move towards sentencing Flynn.

    The former prosecutor, John Gleeson, who also is a retired judge, told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan that the Justice Department’s reasons for wanting the case dismissed were contradictory and were disproven by previous filings in the case.

    That’s William Barr’s submission of reasons, submitted to please Donald Trump.

    “They contradict and ignore this Court’s prior orders, which constitute law of the case,” Gleeson said of the DOJ’s new reasons for why the case should be dismissed. “They are riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact.”

    Gleeson described the DOJ’s explanations for dropping the case as “not credible,” saying that it was involved in “corrupt, politically motivated dismissals.”

    “The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President,” Gleeson wrote.

    Gleeson recommended to Sullivan that, rather than initiate a separate contempt proceeding against Flynn for perjury, he should take into account Flynn’s perjury during sentencing in the underlying case.

    “This approach—rather than a separate prosecution for perjury or contempt—aligns with the Court’s intent to treat this case, and this Defendant, in the same way it would any other,” Gleeson wrote.

    Flynn and the Justice Department are trying to get Flynn’s case dismissed. Judge Sullivan has initially balked, given the extraordinary circumstances of the matter. […]


    The friend-of-the-court filing submitted by John Gleeson can be read at the link.

    From the comments posted by readers:

    “For the foregoing reasons, the court-appointed amicus curiae respectfully submits that the Government’s motion to dismiss should be denied and no Order to Show Cause why Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt should issue.”

    TL;DR – Stop wasting our fucking time!
    Bill Barr is not going to be happy about this… what’s the next move going to be?
    Sullivan will get on with it expeditiously and sentence him. Then Trump can pardon him.
    The man lied under oath and even Judge Emmet Sullivan called him a traitor. Sentence him and it will FORCE tRump to pardon him in the middle of his polling numbers free fall. That will be a great optic and a new Lincoln Project and Republicans Against Trump next ads.
    Can’t wait to hear what the Law and Order President has to say about this.
    Under normal circumstances, this would prompt the resignation of the Attorney General.

  243. blf says

    One of the most racist and disgusting films of all time will not be available (until some context is added), Gone With the Wind dropped from HBO Max over depiction of slavery:

    […] Gone With the Wind has been dropped from HBO Max […] after protests over its depiction of slavery.

    The move followed an article in the LA Times by John Ridley, Oscar-winning scriptwriter of 12 Years a Slave, in which he described it as “a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color”.

    Ridley added: “At a moment when we are all considering what more we can do to fight bigotry and intolerance, I would ask that all content providers look at their libraries and make a good-faith effort to separate programming that might be lacking in its representation from that which is blatant in its demonisation.”

    HBO responded with a statement, which said: “These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.”

    The streaming service added that the film would return to the platform accompanied by “a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions”, but would remain unaltered “because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed”.


  244. lumipuna says

    Re 315:

    If the president’s campaign strategy is rooted in performative displays of religion, he might need to start looking for a Plan B.

    I have to say, at least Trump hasn’t done this religion performance thing very often, considering his general showman tendencies and his political dependence on evangelical godbotherers. (Normally, I wouldn’t notice this kind of thing when it’s missing in a politician’s repertoire, but, with Trump, it’s just so amazingly crass when it does come up.)

    It’s like half the time his advisors recognize that he’s really, deeply, incurably incapable of of convincingly portraying religiosity, so it’s better to not bother.

  245. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States pandemic / politics live blog (quoted in full):

    More than 1,200 former DOJ staffers call for investigation into Barr’s role in removing protesters

    More than 1,200 former employees of the justice department are calling for an investigation into attorney general William Barr’s role in the forcible removal of peaceful protesters from near the White House last week.

    In a letter to the justice department inspector general Michael Horowitz, the former staffers said, “We are deeply concerned about the Department’s actions, and those of Attorney General William Barr himself, in response to the nationwide lawful gatherings to protest the systemic racism that has plagued this country throughout its history, recently exemplified by the brutal killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by sworn law enforcement officers acting under the color of law.”

    The letter noted that those who have signed on to the request have worked under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The former staffers said they had severe concerns about Barr’s role in the decision to use tear gas against protesters in order to allow Trump to stage a photo op at a nearby church.

    The former staffers said they were also concerned about the decision to deploy federal law enforcement officers to Washington DC, in response to the protests.

    “For all of these reasons, we are asking you to immediately open and conduct an investigation of the full scope of the Attorney General’s and the DOJ’s role in these events,” the letter says.

    “If the Attorney General or any other DOJ employee has directly participated in actions that have deprived Americans of their constitutional rights or that physically injured Americans lawfully exercising their rights, that would be misconduct of the utmost seriousness, the details of which must be shared with the American people.”

  246. says

    Trump has moved on. He’s bored. So, coronavirus pandemic? That’s in the past as far as he is concerned. Of course, he is wrong, deadly wrong.

    The White House would really like to change the subject from that whole coronavirus pandemic thing, mmmkay? Donald Trump is itching to hold some big rallies, and it would be a lot easier if everyone would just pretend that COVID-19 is not still killing around 1,000 people every day, with hospitalizations surging in some states.

    Parts of the White House losing interest in the coronavirus are positive—not having Trump in front of the cameras suggesting bleach injections is a very good thing. But to the degree that the loss of focus on the still-deadly pandemic means a diminished government response, it’s bad. To the degree that Team Trump is actively encouraging Americans to believe that everything is fixed and there’s no problem, it’s worse.

    […] Far from planning to stomp out the embers, Trump is planning to fan the flames with big campaign rallies and his ongoing encouragement to states to reopen regardless of whether their COVID-19 statistics make it safe to do so.

    The White House task force only meets twice a week rather than daily now, which, again, is not a bad thing to the extent that it gets Donald Trump himself out of the process. But that’s not the only way the administration’s response has shifted […]

    The task force is not sending as many updates to state health officials. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention briefing calls are similarly offering less top-down information to the states—and the CDC remains sidelined. Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci aren’t doing as many media interviews, and they’re not being allowed to testify to Congress, either. The Department of Health and Human Services is taking over responsibilities from the Federal Emergency Management Agency—which, again, might not be a bad thing except that it’s happening as the Trump administration tries to play down the dangers of the pandemic.

    Donald Trump has taken his victory lap. He “made every decision correctly.” The pandemic is “largely over.” So the serious response—as flawed as it was all along—is over, too.

    The problem is that the danger has not passed.


    See also: The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and the time of greatest danger may be right now

    I live in a red state. I live among lots of Trump supporters. Nevertheless, many of my neighbors were wearing masks a few weeks ago. Now they are not. Cases of coronavirus are increasing here. Trump’s actions and statements are making a bad situation worse.

  247. blf says

    In Chile, Chile’s women’s minister, Pinochet’s great-niece, resigns following backlash:

    Macarena Santelices oversaw a string of controversial decisions, prompting #WeDoNotHaveAMinister to trend

    Chile’s women and gender minister, a great-niece of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, has resigned after just a month following a furious backlash to her appointment and a string of misssteps [thank you Grauniad!] in office.


    Before she was named minister in May, Santelices, had spoken positively of the good side of Pinochet’s regime, under which thousands of women were subjected to torture and almost all female political prisoners endured sexual violence.

    Once in office, she oversaw a string of controversial decisions, prompting the hashtag #WeDoNotHaveAMinister to trend in Chile.

    On Monday, she named Jorge Ruz — a former tabloid editor best known for working on a reality TV show in which women are judged in a swimsuit competition — to head the ministry’s research division.

    The Plurinational Feminist Assembly described the move as “unacceptable”, tweeting: “We demand her departure NOW.”


    Santelices, who describes herself a feminist, had condemned Chile’s forceful feminist groups for seeking chaos and destruction.

    The women’s ministry seat is held by rightwing party Independent Democratic Union, a part of the conservative coalition government led by President Sebastian Piñera.

    Santelices is replaced by Mónica Zalaquett, a former deputy who staunchly opposed Michelle Bachelet’s push to ease on the total abortion ban, and permit termination in instances of rape or if there is a risk to the life of the woman or foetus.

    In 2013, when abortion was still prohibited under all circumstances, Zalaquett applauded the bravery of an 11-year-old girl who gave birth after being denied abortion rights by the state.

    Women’s rights groups welcome the news of Santelices’ resignation, but the appointment of Zalaquett once again prompted the hashtag #WeDoNotHaveAMinister to trend.

    As a reminder, Chile is where Un Violador en Tu Camino was composed (‘The rapist is you!’: why a Chilean protest chant is being sung around the world).

    You don’t tug on superman’s cape
    You don’t spit into the wind
    You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
    You don’t appoint phony Ministers
    (Ok, ok, I’ve no sense of lyrics…)

  248. says

    Elizabeth Warren is going after corruption and incompetence in yet another area: the operation of military prisons.

    […] Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) raised concerns about the American Correctional Association, a trade group for prisons that simultaneously acts as an official accreditor. The arrangement presents an obvious conflict of interest for the group, rendering “ACA’s standards toothless,” the lawmakers wrote. Documents provided to Warren’s office, they said, suggest that the ACA “has not denied accreditation to a single facility in the last six years.” […]

    Aside from Guantánamo Bay, not much is known about military prisons or other detention facilities run by the Defense Department across the globe, but the ACA apparently plays a key role in regulating them. Warren’s office found that several Army, Navy, and Marine Corps prisons rely on ACA accreditation, despite indications that the process is not truly independent. According to the lawmakers’ letter, “the ACA grants facilities three months’ advance notice of its audits; provides facilities with ‘technical assistance,’ including ‘standards checklists’ and an ‘audit readiness evaluation’ that help a facility know when to schedule its audit and what to expect; and, at a facility’s request, the ACA will first conduct a ‘mock audit’ to help the facility prepare for the real thing.”

    […] The problem, as the lawmakers see it, lies in the ACA’s dual role as “accreditor and advocate.” Unlike most de facto regulatory bodies, the ACA makes millions of dollars each year from its annual conferences, which are sponsored by private prison giants such as CoreCivic, the GEO Group, and MTC. The ACA also makes money from accreditation contracts with prisons owned by these firms, potentially creating an incentive for auditors to ignore shoddy conditions, according to Warren and Gallego. […]


    More at the link.

  249. says

    From Wonkette:

    You might think the White House would want to make like a common GOP senator right now and duck and cover from Trump’s latest batshit senile conspiracy theory tweets about 75-year-old Catholic peace activist Martin Gugino. After all, Axios did report this morning that they are “at their wits’ end” over that tweet, and starting to wonder if Trump even wants to be re-elected. (Of course he does. He just doesn’t want it to happen fairly, and he doesn’t know how stupid he is, so he thinks he’s helping himself, by creating imagination stories about Gugino being an antifa-trained super-spy.)

    But not Kayleigh McEnany! Nobody thought she’d really set herself apart as press secretary — she is a shameless fucking liar, tell us how that makes her special in the Trump administration — but she’s doing it, because she has so little self-respect, so empty a soul, that she’s actually willing to say with a straight face that Trump is just asking normal questions, like for instance when he accuses Joe Scarborough of murder. […]

    So when Trump accused the 75-year-old Catholic peace activist, who is still in the hospital after the Buffalo police […] made his head bleed, of being an “ANTIFA provocateur.” McEnany was ON IT. She always is when she’s dealing with subject matter that comes from Trump’s favorite clearinghouse for batshit QAnon-grade conspiracy theories, the One America News Network (OANN).

    She appeared on the “Fox & Friends” morning idiot breakout session, and she said Trump was just asking very good questions.

    BRIAN KILMEADE: So yesterday, the president, Kayleigh, tweeted out that this Buffalo protester, the 75-year-old who was shoved to the ground by a police officer, might have been part of antifa, and a provocateur, in order to get that type of reaction, just to paraphrase. Could you expand on that? Does the president think this guy is part of antifa?

    MCENANY: So, the president was raising questions based on a report that he saw. There are questions that need to be asked and every case we can’t jump on one side without looking at all of the facts at play. This individual has some very questionable tweets, some profanity-laden tweets about police officers. […] We need the appropriate amount of force used in any interaction, but there are a lot of questions in that case.

    […] OK, so to recap, McEnany needs us to know that:

    1) Donald Trump saw a “report.” (from the One America News Network, which is not actually a news network, but which does spew a lot of Russian propaganda, especially from the “reporter” who did this “report,” who used to literally work for Russian state-owned media!)

    2) And because Trump saw a “report” from that very valid “news network,” there are “questions that need to be asked.” Obviously! Trump is never outright accusing, he is just asking questions! Rush Limbaugh admiringly explained recently how Trump is very “clever” when he shitposts propaganda like this. It was revealing of how dead inside both Limbaugh and Trump really are.)

    3) ALSO DID YOU HEAR MARTIN GUGINO’S MOUTH IS A BIG CUSSYPOTTY? Kayleigh McEnany needs the Fox News morning audience to know this.

    McEnany also said that an important question that needs to be asked about this is why all those cops resigned from the emergency response team, because we guess “because they’re fucking assholes” isn’t the answer she wants you to arrive at. There must be something to Trump’s antifa conspiracy theory!

    We should note that there is a possibility this strategy came from inside the White House, and not just from inside Trump’s brain and itchy Twitter fingers. […] Note that “provocateur” is both used and spelled correctly in the initial tweet […]

    See SC’s comment 276 for Trump’s original tweet.

    Bill Barr still hasn’t found any antifa provocateurs to prosecute. And he is looking hard.

  250. says

    Police behaving badly:

    […] The New York Police Benevolent Association held a whiny-ass press conference yesterday where they complained that protests against ongoing police violence hurt their feelings — although, the literal police violence at these protests hurt people’s skulls. The New York Post described noted asshole Patrick Lynch as the “fiery head of the city’s largest police union,” because a “fiery head” is what you want in police work.

    Lynch admitted that the murder of George Floyd was in fact a murder. He wanted a cookie for that shit, even though he has zero interest in addressing the systemic issues that gave Floyd’s killer a badge in the first place or kept him in the force after more than a dozen complaints. If someone hadn’t recorded the murder with 21st Century technology, the police would’ve covered it up (they did try!) and blamed Floyd for his own death. No, what’s grinding Lynch’s gears the most is the imaginary “abuse” of police officers.

    LYNCH: They’re asking us to pull back! They’re asking us to walk away from you! They’re asking us to abandon our communities! They’re asking me to walk away from where I live. They’re asking me to walk away from where I work. They’re asking us to walk away from neighborhoods we brought back. And that’s what’s happening. And you know