Comments

  1. says

    The adviser chosen to set up UK race inequality commission has cast doubt on the existence of institutional racism and condemned previous inquiries for fostering a ‘culture of grievance’

    It’s almost as if the government doesn’t want this to succeed!…”

    Thread with much more at the link. It’s astonishing to hear accusations of a “culture of grievance” from this crowd. Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro, Netanyahu, and their followers are like grievance-based life forms.

  2. says

    Gothamist – “De Blasio’s Out Sick With Symptoms Associated With Coronavirus. Why Isn’t He Getting Tested?”:

    The guidance on the New York City Health Department’s website is unambiguous: “All New Yorkers should get a COVID-19 diagnostic test, whether or not they have symptoms or are at increased risk.” Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called out sick on Monday, says he has not gotten a coronavirus test, and has no plans to get one in the future.

    The Mayor’s Office cited “gastrointestinal symptoms” for de Blasio’s illness. “Based on what he is experiencing, the mayor does not believe there’s a need to be tested,” de Blasio spokesperson Freddi Goldstein wrote in an email.

    Yet the CDC clearly lists diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting as one of COVID-19’s many symptoms. “Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea,” says the city’s DOH. One third of COVID-19 patients experience a loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea, according to a Stanford University study released in mid-April.

    The mayors of Houston, Miami, and Richmond, Virginia, all said they have been tested for coronavirus. Governor Andrew Cuomo got tested on live television. Why not the mayor?

    “Up until very recently, the guidance was to only get tested if symptomatic, which he has not been,” Goldstein said.

    That guidance changed 12 days ago, when the de Blasio administration began urging all New Yorkers, regardless of whether they experienced any symptoms, to get a coronavirus test.

    “Widespread testing holds the key to re-opening our city safely,” de Blasio said in a statement announcing the new policy. “After months of fighting, we are finally able to say that every New Yorker who needs a test will get one.”

    On June 10th, the mayor again urged all New Yorkers to get tested:…

    De Blasio spent the weekend in close proximity to a wide swath of New Yorkers. On Saturday, he toured a Cure Violence site in Jamaica, Queens.

    On Sunday he spoke to a group of protesters at the Exodus Transitional Community in Harlem, and was seen painting a Black Lives Matter mural in Bed-Stuy with Councilmember Robert Cornegy, Jr….

    Shouldn’t he at least be tested so that they can contact-trace if necessary?

  3. KG says

    SC@4,

    The appointment of yet another commission on race inequalities in the UK – to follow all the others whose recommendations have been implemented only very partially or not at all – could by itself be seen simply as an attempt to kick the issue into the long grass. The appointment of Munira Mirza to set it up can only be seen as a deliberate insult, a “two-fingered salute” in British parlance, to BLM and all who take such inequalities seriously. Mirza is a prominent member of the ex-RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) mafia, a number of whom have gained prominent media, academic and political positions to push an extreme “libertarian” agenda, including anti-environmentalism, anti-multiculturalism, and Brexit. Mirza in particular has focused on attacking any attempt to identify and counter systemic racism. (There are questions about whether the RCP was a front organization set up to discredit the far left – it took bizarre positions, one of which eventually led to a libel case that bankrupted it, and it was never clear where a tiny Trotskyite sectlet got the money to publish its very glossy, small circulation magazine in the first place.)

    The appointment is of a piece with the way the commission was announced – behind a paywall at the Daily Telegraph, favourite paper of the middle-class Tory, in the middle of an article by Johnson largely about consisting of huffing and puffing about the evil of removing statues, particularly that of Churchill, which only a few fringe individuals have said should be removed. Johnson has said he wants to “change the narrative” around race inequalities, focusing on “success stories” – in other words, distract attention from real problems through a PR offensive, just as his government has tried to do over Covid-19.

  4. says

    KG @ #6:

    The appointment of yet another commission on race inequalities in the UK – to follow all the others whose recommendations have been implemented only very partially or not at all – could by itself be seen simply as an attempt to kick the issue into the long grass.

    In case anyone missed it, David Lammy’s righteous rant about it was yesterday’s tweet o’ the day.

    Mirza is a prominent member of the ex-RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) mafia,…

    Everything about that is almost comically suspect.

  5. says

    CNN – “Investigations launched after Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to inspect hospitals themselves”:

    Brazil’s Attorney General has called for an investigation into several invasions of hospitals in the country, after its President called on Brazilians to inspect the conditions of medical wards treating Covid-19 patients.

    Augusto Aras’s request will be sent on Monday to several state prosecutor offices, including in São Paulo and Brasilia, where hospital invasions occurred on June 4 and June 9 respectively, according to a press release by the AG’s office.

    On June 4, several State deputies — including some from Bolsonaro’s party (PSL) — also invaded a Covid-19 field hospital in São Paulo and took pictures of it, and patients without authorization, the city’s mayor told CNN Brasil.

    “This behavior endangers the physical integrity of the brave professionals who dedicate themselves to reversing a health crisis unprecedented in the country’s history,” the Attorney-General Augusto Aras said in the press release.

    In a Facebook Live last Thursday, Bolsonaro called on citizens to enter hospitals to film the conditions themselves in order “to show if the beds are occupied or not.” He claimed that local politicians might be inflating data on the number of deaths from coronavirus to receive more money and to blame his government for an increase in the resulting death toll.

    “No one lost their life, in most cases, due to the lack of ICU beds or ventilators,” Bolsonaro said….

    Reuters – “Brazil’s Bolsonaro says military will not remove elected president”:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that the country’s military would not obey any order to remove an elected president, deepening a war of words with the judicial branch that has led to fears of threats to democracy in the country.

    Speaking during a radio interview, the far-right former army captain said the armed forces would not accept “a political judgment to remove a democratically elected president.”

    He added: “Us, military men from the armed forces, and I’m also a military man, hold the true responsibility for democracy in our country. We would never follow absurd orders.”

    Bolsonaro’s comments echoed a similar statement, released on Friday and co-signed by Vice President Hamilton Mourão and Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo, that have sparked concerns over a looming constitutional battle between Bolsonaro and Brazil’s Supreme Court.

    The court is overseeing a probe into whether Bolsonaro illegally interfered in Federal Police appointments, and another investigation into an alleged pro-Bolsonaro disinformation campaign on social media.

    Bolsonaro is also facing multiple impeachment proposals in Congress.

    This all comes as Brazil has become the world No. 2 coronavirus hot spot, with nearly 44,000 deaths….

  6. says

    Guardian – “‘Slipper revolution’: Lukashenko’s reign under pressure in Belarus”:

    Viktor Babariko, an outspoken ex-banker, embodies elite discontent with Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko and his 26 years at the head of Europe’s most authoritarian state.

    After decades out of politics, Babariko says he decided to mount a challenge and run for president this year both to oppose economic integration with Russia and because of the “totally irresponsible” handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Lukashenko refused to impose a lockdown, claimed that drinking vodka would keep the virus at bay and went ahead with a 9 May Victory Day parade involving thousands of soldiers and elderly war veterans.

    The country currently has 54,500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 – significantly more than the 29,700 in neighbouring Poland, which has four times its population.

    “The government has lost touch with reality. The response to Covid-19 was absolute evidence of that,” Babariko said in an interview. “They think that the Belarus that has lived so quietly and meekly for the last 26 years will continue. But the country that they think still exists is gone.”

    Lukashenko has been president since 1994, winning re-election in curated campaigns that delivered 80% majorities. But on the verge of his sixth term as leader, he is in danger of facing a real election. Grassroots campaigns have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures to attempt to register three genuine opposition candidates.

    In response, the government has launched a crackdown. One candidate has already been charged with public disorder and Babariko’s former bank was raided last week. Opponents say Lukashenko’s public approval has collapsed. “I can nearly guarantee you that Lukashenko has less than 50%,” Babariko said. “That’s what makes these elections unique.”

    There are numerous factors for the discontent: a faltering economy, the bungled response to coronavirus, the growing reach of criticism through social media, an increasingly confident civil society – and exhaustion with a government that seems to have run out of ideas.

    “It became an explosive cocktail,” said Valeriya Kostyugova, the editor of the Minsk-based Nashe Mnenie, noting that coronavirus had helped bring the crisis to a head. “The focus turned considerably to the elections and to hopes of somehow getting rid of Lukashenko and his government system.”

    Among the usual run of puppet candidates who represent little threat to Lukashenko, real challengers have appeared. Establishment candidates such as Babariko and Valery Tsepkalo, a former ambassador to the US, indicate cracks in the elite. Sergei Tikhanovsky, a popular YouTuber with more than 235,000 subscribers, attracted thousands of Belarusians to events to collect signatures for his campaign under an anti-corruption slogan of “stop the cockroach”.

    Many supporters brought slippers, the preferred weapon to kill household pests, at Tikhanovsky’s suggestion. Some media have dubbed it the “slipper revolution”.

    Opinion polling is severely limited by the government but thousands have stood in mile-long queues to endorse the candidates, a political spectacle that observers say is unprecedented.

    “Lukashenko has managed to frustrate and irritate a lot of social groups,” said Artyom Shraibman, a Minsk-based political analyst, noting that the groundswell of opposition had helped expose the “myth” of Lukashenko’s popularity. “It’s a street protest but it’s also this middle-class drift into politics where people who never were political are now joining.”

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tikhanovsky, with an appeal to regional and working-class voters who may have previously supported Lukashenko, was arrested first. On Thursday, he was charged with violating public order and assaulting police at a rally to collect signatures in the city of Grodno, and may face up to three years in prison. Observers say he will likely be held until after the 9 August elections.

    Lukashenko appears to be considering a larger crackdown….

    “I see everything. The main things is not to worry,” Lukashenko told his elections chief in a meeting last week. “There will be no coup in this country. Nor will there be a Maidan,” he added, referring to the 2014 revolution in Ukraine….

    I read several weeks ago that the public had largely tuned out his delusional claims about the coronavirus and people were organizing themselves to take precautions, get PPE to medical workers, etc.

  7. says

    NYPD clears Shake Shack employees against whom two of the city’s police unions had made incendiary accusations late Monday night.

    One hopes the rapid collapse of these claims will lead to reflection and apologies from the city’s far-right police unions and certain members of the media who credulously amplified inflammatory statements targeting hourly restaurant workers while obscuring their source.”

    Images at the link. I saw Shake Shack trending last night but didn’t know the reason. JFC.

  8. says

    From the Guardian liveblog (link @ #11 above; support the Guardian if you can):

    Steroid reduces deaths among patients with severe Covid-19, trial shows

    Giving low doses of the generic steroid drug dexamethasone to patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 reduced death rates by around a third among those with the most severe cases of infection, trial data has shown.

    The results, described as a “major breakthrough” by scientists leading the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY, suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients treated in hospital with the pandemic disease, the researchers said.

    Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the trial, said:

    This is a result that shows that if patients who have Covid-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost.

    His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone – a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation – is “the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly.”

    “It is a major breakthrough,” he said.

    There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19.

  9. says

    Business Insider – “Mike Pence reportedly urged governors to reiterate a misleading claim that coronavirus infection spikes are due to increased testing”:

    Vice President Mike Pence urged governors during a call to use a misleading claim to explain the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in coronavirus cases across the US, The New York Times reported Monday.

    The claim, which has repeatedly been touted by the Trump administration, says the reasoning behind what Pence called “intermittent” spikes coronavirus cases in various states is increased testing, The Times reported.

    “I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing,” Pence told governors, according to audio obtained by The Times. “And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that’s more a result of the extraordinary work you’re doing.”

    “But also encourage people with the news that we are safely reopening the country,” he continued. “That, as we speak today, because people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery and getting ordinary care, hospitalization rates may be going up. But according to our most current information, hospitalizations for coronavirus are going down across the country.”

    According to a Times data analysis, “positive case rates are increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests” in at least 14 states. White House health expert Dr. Deborah Birx also said that coronavirus hospitalization rates are on the decline, but that is not the case in some states….

    Lying at the public’s expense.

  10. says

    AP – “North Korea blows up inter-Korean office, raising tensions”:

    North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the heavily armed border with South Korea on Tuesday, in a carefully choreographed display of anger that sharply raises tensions on the Korean Peninsula and puts pressure on Washington and Seoul amid deadlocked nuclear diplomacy.

    The demolition of the building, which was in North Korean territory and had no South Koreans working in it, is largely symbolic. But it’s still the most provocative act by North Korea since it entered nuclear diplomacy in 2018 after a U.S.-North Korean standoff had many fearing war. It will pose a serious setback to the efforts of liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in to restore inter-Korean engagement.

    North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said the country destroyed the office in a “terrific explosion” because its “enraged people” were determined to “force (the) human scum, and those who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes,” apparently referring to North Korean defectors living in South Korea who for years have floated anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

    South Korea issued a statement expressing “strong regret” over the destruction of the building, warning of a stern response if North Korea takes additional steps that aggravate tensions.

    The statement, issued following an emergency National Security Council meeting, said the demolition is “an act that betrays hopes for an improvement in South-North Korean relations and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

    South Korea’s Defense Ministry said separately that it closely monitors North Korean military activities and was prepared to strongly counter any future provocations. The South’s vice unification minister, Suh Ho, who was Seoul’s top official at the liaison office, called the demolition an “unprecedentedly senseless act” that shocked “not only our people, but the whole world.”

    The North said last week that it was cutting off all government and military communication channels with the South while threatening to abandon bilateral peace agreements reached during North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s three summits with Moon in 2018.

    South Korea’s response to Tuesday’s demolition was relatively strong compared to past provocations. Moon’s government has faced criticism that it didn’t take tough measures when North Korea performed a series of short-range weapons tests targeting South Korea over the past year.

    Moon, a liberal who champions greater reconciliation with North Korea, shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to help set up the first summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in June 2018.

    The liaison office has been shut since late January because of coronavirus concerns. The office, built with South Korean money at a reported cost of $8.3 million, was opened in September 2018 to facilitate better communication and exchanges between the Koreas. It was the first such office between the countries since they were divided into a U.S.-backed South Korea and a Soviet-supported North Korea at the end of the World War II in 1945. The office was considered a symbol of Moon’s engagement policy.

    On Saturday night, Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korea’s leader, warned that Seoul will soon witness “a tragic scene of the useless North-South liaison office (in North Korea) being completely collapsed.” She also said she would leave to North Korea’s military the right to take the next step of retaliation against South Korea.

    North Korea has threatened to dismantle the shuttered Kaesong factory complex completely and abandon a 2018 bilateral tension-reduction agreement, which observers say could allow the North to trigger clashes along the land and sea borders.

    Earlier Tuesday, North Korea’s military threatened to move back into unspecified border areas that have been demilitarized under agreements with South Korea and “turn the front line into a fortress.”

    On Monday, Moon urged North Korea to stop raising animosities and return to talks, saying the two Koreas must not reverse the 2018 inter-Korean summit deals.

    North Korea has a history of taking highly visual symbolic steps for political gains….

    “It’s hard to see how such behavior will help the Kim regime get what it wants from the world, but clearly such images will be used for domestic propaganda,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

    Inter-Korean relations have been strained since the breakdown of a second summit between Kim and Trump in Vietnam in early 2019. The summit fell apart because of disputes over how much sanctions relief the North should get in return for Kim’s dismantling of his main nuclear complex, which was seen as a limited denuclearization measure….

  11. says

    Chelsea Clinton:

    Dr. Amy Acton, Emily Brown & Dr. Nichole Quick deserve our gratitude-not threats & harassment-for their work during #covid19. They are among the more than two dozen public health officials who recently have resigned in part because of the hate targeting them and their families.

    They are urging the public to wear masks in public & social distance to save lives! We owe them our support, attention, and the ability to work without fearing for their or their families’ safety. Anything less is unacceptable – and bad for public health.

  12. says

    Jake Tapper:

    Rep. @IlhanMN’s father Nur Omar Mohamed died today due to complications from COVID-19.

    “No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him,” she says in a statement.

    May his memory be a blessing. RIP

  13. KG says

    Johnson has been forced into a “humiliating U-turn” by a campaign led by Marcus Rashford, a black Manchester United footballer. The Tories were going to halt food vouchers for the poorest children (those who normally receive free means at school) over the summer school holiday period, and were getting the vouchers while schools were closed). The cost of extending the scheme is piddling compared to the vast sums already spent or committed during the Covid-19 crisis. Johnson has now buckled, after a number of Tory MPs sided with Rashford.

  14. says

    Zelinsky is expected to testify about corrupt actions related to the sentencing of Roger Stone, and Elias about some “purportedly improperly motivated activity by the Antitrust Division” related to fuel standards. Donald Ayer, from whom Barr took over as Deputy AG in the George H.W. Bush administration, is also expected to testify, which is interesting.

    The hearing is next Wednesday, June 24.

  15. says

    From the G liveblog:

    The World Health Organization’s regional director for the Americas, Carissa Etienne, has said the region is fast approaching four million cases of coronavirus and the pandemic continues to accelerate.

    Etienne said Brazil accounts for 23% of the more than 3.8 million cases in the Americas and 23% of the almost 204,000 deaths in the region, and “we are not seeing transmission slowing down.”

    Based on my nonrigorous reading of the data, these are the countries in the worst shape/most danger right now: the US, Brazil, Russia, India, Iran, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, possibly Turkey and the UK.

    Two of Brazil’s top football clubs, Botafogo and Fluminense, have said they will defy an order from their federation to resume playing competitively this week, as the country’s daily coronavirus death toll hovers around 1,000.

    The Rio de Janeiro state football federation proposed that the state championship, one of several state-wide tournaments that take place in Brazil before the national leagues begin in the second half of the year, restart on 18 June, pending state government approval.

    Botafogo president Nelson Mufarrej called the ruling “disconnected from reality”, and both clubs said they planned legal action on health and safety grounds to avoid having to resume playing so soon.

    Mufarrej said in a statement:

    Unfortunately, the majority of clubs understand that this is the time to play games again, in spite of the chaotic scenes we’re living through right now.

    We’re against it.

    Brazil’s documented deaths from the pandemic stand at just below 44,000, more than any country in the world except the United States, and that toll has been rising by around 1,000 per day for the past week.

    City rival Fluminense’s chairman, Mario Bittencourt, said his players, inactive since action was halted in mid-March, were also not ready to play competitively again.

    The pandemic persists.

    The dates set for our games (22nd and 24th) are unacceptable from the point of view of the health of our players and we won’t be taking the field, and we will look to take action in the sporting court to do what is right.

    Botafogo and Fluminense have been asked to play in the first round of rescheduled games. All four of the state’s top teams, which also include Flamengo and Vasco da Gama, are down to play a game between 18 and 22 June.

  16. says

    Nine months later, the relevance of ‘Sharpiegate’ lingers

    Remember “Sharpiegate” from September? The details of Trump’s NOAA fiasco are still coming into sharper focus.

    Nine months ago, as Hurricane Dorian approached the United States, Donald Trump published a tweet that included Alabama among the states “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Soon after, the National Weather Service told the public the opposite. When news outlets noted the president’s error, Trump took great offense, insisting he was right, facts be damned.

    It set in motion a series of increasingly ridiculous events, which included the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issuing a written statement endorsing the Republican’s false claims, while also criticizing professionals at the National Weather Service for having told the truth. As part of the same fiasco, Trump displayed a map in the Oval Office in which he literally took a pen and drew a bump onto an NOAA forecast map in order to bend reality to his will.

    The mess became known as “Sharpiegate.”

    Oddly enough, the story was back in the news yesterday. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

    An investigation conducted on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that agency leadership violated its scientific integrity policy through actions that led to the release of a statement that backed President Trump’s false statement about the path of Hurricane Dorian, according a new report…. The report, whose findings were accepted by NOAA’s leadership and released Monday, found that Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator, and former NOAA deputy chief of staff and communications director Julie Kay Roberts twice violated codes of the agency’s scientific integrity policy amid their involvement in the Sept. 6 statement.

    […] as it turns out, there may yet be additional revelations. The Post’s report added that the same mess is facing scrutiny from the Commerce Department’s inspector general and the House Science Committee, both of which are expected to release reports.

    […] there were some questions surrounding the controversy that were never quite resolved. The New York Times reported in September, for example, that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department includes the NOAA, threatened to fire top employees at the federal scientific agency unless the NOAA agreed to endorse the president’s false claims. As we discussed at the time, Ross’ office denied the accuracy of the report, though if the Times was right, it led to a series of related questions about public safety, scientific integrity, Trump’s war on reality, and weaponizing federal resources for political reasons.

    […] the White House allegedly having a direct role in ordering relevant officials to do the wrong thing. Similarly, the Washington Post added that the president personally told his staff that the NOAA needed to correct National Weather Service tweet that didn’t need correcting. It was this presidential instruction, the article added, that “led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue.” […]

  17. says

    The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics

    Steve Benen exposes the Republican Party as a gang of impostors who have abandoned their duty to govern, gravely endangering American democracy.

    […] the Republican Party has undergone an astonishing metamorphosis, one so baffling and complete that few have fully reckoned with the reality and its consequences.

    “There is nobody who is writing in an episodic, daily way, in any medium, anywhere in the world, who has more influence on the way I think about politics than Steve Benen.”—Rachel Maddow

    Republicans, simply put, have quit governing. […] the contemporary GOP has become a “post-policy party.” […] they are winning–at the cost of pushing the political system to the breaking point.

    Despite having billed itself as the “party of ideas,” the Republican Party has walked away from the hard but necessary work of policymaking. It is disdainful of expertise and hostile toward evidence and arithmetic. It is tethered to few, if any, meaningful policy preferences. It does not know, and does not care, about how competing proposals should be crafted, scrutinized, or implemented. […]

    The implications of this approach to governance are all-encompassing. Voters routinely elect Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence to powerful offices, expecting GOP policymakers to have the technocratic wherewithal to identify problems, weigh alternative solutions, forge coalitions, accept compromises, and apply some level of governmental competence, if not expertise. The party has consistently proven those hopes misguided. […]

  18. says

    The administration’s half-trillion-dollar transparency problem

    As a rule, when Team Trump acts like it has something to hide, it’s because Team Trump has something to hide.

    In early April, about a week after Donald Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act into law, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin [said] the public should expect transparency. “I think that the American public deserves to know what’s going on, given the amount of money that we’ll be putting out,” […] In a separate interview, Mnuchin endorsed the idea of “full transparency.”

    And yet, the Associated Press published this report late last week.

    Building ramparts of secrecy around a $600 billion-plus coronavirus aid program for small businesses, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has moved from delay to denial in refusing outright to disclose the recipients of taxpayer-funded loans. Mnuchin told Congress at a hearing this week that the names of loan recipients and the amounts are “proprietary information.” While he claimed the information is confidential, ethics advocates and some lawmakers see the move as an attempt to dodge accountability for how the money is spent.

    Understatement.

    Mnuchin isn’t alone. Over the weekend, Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told CNN’s Jake Tapper he didn’t much see the point in letting the public know which private-sector enterprises received taxpayer money through the Paycheck Protection Program. “As far as naming each and every company, I don’t think that promise was ever made, and I don’t think it’s necessary,” Kudlow argued, apparently unaware of Mnuchin’s “full transparency” vow in April. […]

    The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell made a compelling case this morning that with “a half-trillion dollars of our hard-earned cash” in question, taxpayers should be asking, “What are they hiding?”

    [T]he administration has worked to sabotage virtually all of these accountability mechanisms. While paying lip service to “transparency,” it has fired, demoted or otherwise kneecapped inspectors general, some of whom recently wrote to congressional leaders warning of systematic efforts to avoid scrutiny required by law. The watchdog Government Accountability Office also complained that the administration has refused to provide critical data on the bailout. Last week, the administration backtracked on its commitment to publicly disclose the beneficiaries of its $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — including, presumably, information about whether any of the “small businesses” helped happen to be President Trump’s. This is unacceptable.

    […] House Democrats opened an investigation yesterday […]

    How hard is the White House prepared to fight to keep this information under wraps? How will Team Trump defend its insistence on secrecy?

  19. says

    […] “The heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a ‘civil guard,’ were there for one reason: To menace protesters, to present an unsanctioned show of unregulated force,” Lujan Grisham said. “To menace the people of New Mexico with weaponry — with an implicit threat of violence — is on its face unacceptable; that violence did indeed occur is unspeakable.”

    Violence is wrong “no matter who strikes first,” the governor added, vowing to root out “the instigators this evening.” […]

    TPM link

  20. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of being part of the “Medical Deep State” as she pushed a new and ridiculous conspiracy theory.

    […] During a monologue on her show, Ingraham railed against Fauci’s so-called “one-man effort to depress us all” after the doctor told the Telegraph in a interview on Sunday that he “would hope that we could get back to some degree of normality within a year or so, but I don’t think it’s this winter or fall.”

    “The medical deep state strikes again,” Ingraham said with a snort.

    The Fox host then gave […] Trump a pep talk on live television, saying that he and his campaign “should simply not react to any of this alarmist COVID drivel from here on out.”

    “None of these people, sadly including Dr. Fauci, can be really taken all that seriously anymore given what we’ve seen,” she declared. “Because science, just like journalism and entertainment, has become obscenely politicized.”

    Ingraham’s attack against the medical expert is a repackaged version of Trump allies’ notorious “deep state” conspiracy theory, which attempts to shield the President politically by claiming without evidence that the intelligence community is secretly working to undermine him.

    Fauci has become a lightening rod for conservatives’ fury over his sobering, science-based reports and predictions on COVID-19, which contradict Trump’s blatantly political efforts to downplay the severity of the pandemic as his approval ratings sink. […]

    TPM link

  21. says

    The Trump Cult is a religion.

    Trump’s base of fact-free believers is imagining ‘a landslide’ for him in November.

    […] interviews with more than 50 Republican party chairs at the state, district, and county level revealed a mindset of optimistic denialism. They apparently think coronavirus is over, the economy is roaring back, and don’t comprehend the national conversation about systemic racism and police brutality. […]

    “The more bad things happen in the country, it just solidifies support for Trump,” Phillip Stephens, GOP chairman in Robeson County, North Carolina, told Politico.[…]

    Robeson is a rural Obama-to-Trump county in a swing state that Trump won by 3.5 points and has grown very competitive in the last several months. “We’re calling him ‘Teflon Trump.’ Nothing’s going to stick, because if anything, it’s getting more exciting than it was in 2016.” Never a dull moment with a stable genius at the helm. “We’re thinking landslide,” Stephens added.

    The outlook of these state GOP officials range from optimistic to delusional. Since Trump eked out a surprise victory in 2016, now they’re prone to dismissing anything coming from outside their personal bubbles. […]

    Jane Timken, the state party chair in Ohio—where Trump is polling so low that his campaign is freaking out—says Trump’s support is as strong as ever. And the state GOP chair in Pennsylvania, Lawrence Tabas, predicted Trump would best Biden in the Keystone state by over 100,000 votes, more than twice Trump’s margin in 2016.

    In Michigan, where recent head-to-heads favor Biden by an average of more than 7 points, Muskegon County GOP chair Joe Bush dismisses the Beltway “narrative” out of hand. “Here in the heartland, everybody is still very confident, more than ever,” Bush says.

    If progressives are leery of polling after 2016, Republicans at the state level have grown outright dismissive of it—despite a good deal of accuracy in the 2018 midterm polling. In fact, to many Republicans, polling is just a conspiracy now. “Republicans see an industry that maliciously oversamples Democrats or under-samples the white, non-college educated voters who are most likely to support Trump,” writes Politico. […]

    In the meantime, GOP Sen. Martha McSally is repeatedly getting trounced by double digits in recent polling against Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, and Trump appears to be trailing Biden in a state [Arizona] he won by 3.5 points.

    […] If you live in a Democratic stronghold, Crooked Media has a cool “adopt a state” program where they’re training people to conduct remote outreach in battleground states. Let’s make sure that “landslide” is in Democrats’ favor come November.

  22. says

    Six months into what began as an epidemic and became a worldwide pandemic, experts around the world have a much better idea of how COVID-19 spreads and what steps can be taken to stamp out an outbreak and prevent new waves of disease. The best estimates are that, in normal conditions, everyone infected with COVID-19 will infect between two and three other people. Reducing the spread of the disease means changing “normal” through social distancing and self-isolation. Anything that brings the number down is good. And when each person infects less than one new person, the epidemic begins to fizzle. Keep that up for even a few weeks, and the numbers can be driven to nearly zero. That’s what happened in China, and in North Korea, and in many other countries.

    The opposite happened in the United States. COVID-19 exploded, killing at least 118,000 people and infecting millions. And now, months into the epidemic in America, with states insistent on reopening no matter what, evidence shows that there is a single measure that is highly effective in slowing the spread of the virus. A single step that can be taken that could save thousands of lives, genuinely push down the number of cases, and make reopening and a return to something close to “normal” practical without requiring a human sacrifice. So why won’t Republicans wear a f#cking mask?

    Good question.

    I snipped details about mask-wearing in Japan, etc.

    […] [Swing] back around the world to Springfield, Missouri. That’s where two hairstylists who tested positive for COVID-19 went back to work and between them saw 140 clients. That these workers felt so pressured to return to their jobs that they risked infecting clients and coworkers is an awful example of the squeeze placed on American workers by a system that is, in many cases, leaving them with zero income. But something else interesting happened when the clients of those two stylists were traced—none of them had contacted COVID-19 when the state tracked them down.

    Two people working in proximity to 140 others in a situation that required close contact for an extended period, and did not pass along the disease. That’s a marked contrast to situations like the cluster of cases traced back to a West Virginia church service. And the reason for that difference seems absolutely clear: Not only were the stylists cleaning up the area around their stations after each client, both they and the clients were required to wear masks throughout.

    As it turns out, just two behavioral changes—frequent hand-washing and wearing masks—is enough to drastically reduce the possibility of catching COVID-19. It certainly doesn’t eliminate the risks, but it takes it down from very high, to quite low. […] When everyone is wearing masks, the possibility of catching COVID-19 may be reduced by 85% or more.

    So why the hell isn’t everyone wearing a mask? Well, early on there was a lot of disinformation, some of it coming from people who really should have known better than to make such pronouncements. […]

    If 70% of Americans wore masks in public, it would provide an effect that mimicked the much-sought after “herd immunity” until a vaccine becomes available. If 80% of Americans wore masks in public, it might push the rate of transmission so low that, well before the end of the year, America would be in the position of China or South Korea or Japan—fighting the occasional local flare up, rather than going forward in a fog of rising cases and impending doom. […]

    We don’t need guidelines on mask use. We don’t need more FDA suggestions about mask use. We need a nationwide requirement that all people wear masks over both mouth and nose while in public areas, always, for the duration of the emergency. And keep them on, even when there’s a television camera pointed your way.

    Instead we’ve got “smoking doesn’t kill” Mike Pence, the titular head of the coronavirus task force, refusing to wear a mask. And we’ve got Florida Gov. Mike DeSantis who has been so resistant to putting on a mask that when called on to demonstrate, he put it on sideways. And above all we’ve got the guy who worries that a mask might mar his perfect application of whatever that orange stuff really is; the guy who equates wearing a mask with slavery [Trump].

    If everyone would wear a mask, practice at least some level of social distancing, and wash their hands when possible, reopening could happen with greatly reduced risk. […] If everyone would wear a mask, it would save tens of thousands of lives in the next few months.

    But Republicans are instead chasing people who are wearing masks, and sometimes assaulting people who are wearing masks, and even barring people from their stores if they are wearing masks. It’s almost as if they’re determined to rack up the biggest body count available. But at least they’ll die knowing how they owned those libs.

    Link

  23. blf says

    Pence falsely claims Oklahoma has flattened the curve ahead of Trump rally:

    […]
    At the White House, Mike Pence claimed that in a very real sense, Oklahoma had flattened the curve of new Covid-19 infections.

    Today their hospital capacity is abundant, said Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus taskforce and will attend the rally in Tulsa. The number of cases in Oklahoma has declined precipitously and we feel very confident going forward with the rally this coming weekend.

    But what he said was untrue.

    At the weekend, Oklahoma reported its highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases, 225, since the pandemic began. On Sunday, Tulsa county reported its largest single-day increase since early March. On Monday, state statistics showed the seven-day rolling average for new cases in Tulsa county was 65, up on a previous peak of 26 in early April.

    And on the 19,000–300,000–800,000–now (allegedly) 1m mystery:

    […] The BOK Center venue holds 19,000. A convention center nearby will extend capacity to around 62,000. Campaign manager Brad Parscale perhaps indicated the true purpose of the promotional effort when he heralded the biggest data haul and rally signup of all time by 10x. […]

    i didn’t notice any announcement of a “nearby convention center” when I visited hair furor’s site (see @473(previous page)) or (later) that of the BOK Center, but both were quite sparse on details. However, as I noted, they are harvesting vast amounts of data — including both mobile phone numbers and e-addresses — and at least in the case of the former, saying they will be using them in the future.

  24. says

    Follow-up to comment 31.

    Members of Congress took small-business loans — and the full extent is unknown

    Some GOP lawmakers who benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program also opposed legislation requiring lending transparency.

    At least four members of Congress have reaped benefits in some way from the half-trillion-dollar small-business loan program they helped create.

    And no one knows how many more there could be.

    It’s a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have acknowledged close ties to companies that have received loans from the program — businesses that are either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive.

    Republicans on the list include Rep. Roger Williams of Texas, a wealthy businessman who owns auto dealerships, body shops and car washes, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, whose family owns multiple farms and equipment suppliers across the Midwest. The Democrats count Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada, whose husband is CEO of a regional casino developer, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell of Florida, whose husband is an executive at a restaurant chain that has since returned the loan.

    And there are almost certainly more, according to aides and lawmakers. But only the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department have that information, and the Trump administration is refusing to provide any details. That leaves it entirely up to business owners — including elected officials — to decide whether to come forward about a loan, which can be as large as $10 million.

    Democrats have tried to pry free the list of recipients. But their push in the House to require disclosure of at least some companies was blocked on the floor late last month by Republicans — including Williams and Hartzler, who voted against the bill. Lee and Powell joined all Democrats in supporting it. All four lawmakers have previously voted in favor of the small-business program. […]

  25. says

    Bits and pieces of news.

    From Jon Passantino:

    US attorney announces the gunman who allegedly killed two law enforcement officers in California was associated with the right-wing Boogaloo movement. A patch bearing the group’s symbol was found in the van used by the shooter in Oakland and Santa Cruz killings

    From Cathleen Decker:

    Trump just said Obama/Biden didn’t try to reform police. They did, and the Trump administration undid it.

    From Kevin Rector:

    On Trump claim Obama “didn’t even try” on police reform:

    – Obama DOJ aggressively pushed thru a sweeping consent decree mandating @BaltimorePolice
    reforms

    – Trump DOJ immediately tried to halt it bc they thought it restrained police power too much

    From Daniel Dale:

    Among other things, such as a policing task force and restrictions on military equipment transfers to police, the Obama-era Justice Department used consent decrees to secure changes from rights-violating police departments.

    Since last month, Trump has:
    – Falsely said Obama didn’t try to do anything on policing
    – Falsely said Obama wiretapped him
    – Falsely blamed Obama for bad coronavirus tests
    – Falsely said Obama left him no ventilators
    – Falsely said he got Obama’s Veterans Choice law

    Trump says he has great respect for scientists, and “they’ve come up with the AIDS vaccine…or the AIDS — as you know, there are various things — and now various companies are involved — but the therapeutic for AIDS.” (There is no AIDS vaccine, yes good therapeutics.)

    Trump on the economy: “When the numbers reach the point that I know they will, there will again be a great unity and a great spirit in our country. People will have their job back that they might have lost. They’ll be making even more money than they did before.” ?

    Trump frequently describes his executive orders as if they do more than they do. We’re still waiting for a final text, but this order is *not* expected to ban chokeholds around the country, as Trump said/suggested.

    Trump, after talking about Black people killed by police, says that “school choice” “really is the civil rights of all time in this country.” He adds, “Frankly school choice is the civil rights statement of the year, of the decade, and probably beyond.” [WTF?]

    Trump is boasting about how the National Guard “put down” problems in Minneapolis and declares again that the government is ready to help in Seattle. He denounces looters.

    In other words, Trump was supposed to hold a press briefing in which he announced an executive order on police reform. Instead, he gave a campaign speech, and he didn’t take any questions from the press.

    Also from Daniel Dale, regarding John Bolton’s new book, and Trump’s lies:

    No, it’s not unprecedented to publish a fast insider book with the prez still in office. No, Bolton doesn’t admit he didn’t finish the review. And while Trump is the boss on what is classified, “any conversation with me” has never been the standard

  26. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, So here are some statues we might not pull down! A tribute to Egg Boy and a pillar of chicken salt (cartoon): “The Black Lives Matter Antifa PC Imported American Ideas Leftists and WAR want to burn on all the statues then throw them into the sea!” (Sorry, I’ve no idea who / what “WAR” refers to — I presume that’s something Ozlandish — nor, for that matter, “chicken salt”? (First Dog on the Moon is an Ozland-based / -centric cartoon.))

  27. says

    blf @39, ha! “They have no regard for history, unlike the people who paid good money for it!”

    “[…] the owners of history might care more about statues than they do about people.”

  28. says

    Police Make Arrests After Motorcycle Gangs Descend On Protesters In Ohio Village

    Police have made arrests and are investigating “scuffles” after a small protest in Bethel, Ohio was overrun with biker gangs on Sunday, leaving the village in an ongoing state of tension.

    Bethel Police Chief Steve Teague told TPM that five arrests were made Monday evening, […]

    Just a few days ago, the protest planned for the small village, shy of 3,000 inhabitants and about 40 minutes outside of Cincinnati, seemed likely to be a modest affair.

    Sunday’s protest, billed as Bethel’s Solidarity with Black Lives Demonstration, was expected to have a turnout of 80 to 100 people. But soon, per a joint statement by the village’s mayor, chief of police and administrator, “several motorcycle gangs, back the blue groups, and second amendment advocates” caught wind of the event and decided to show up, armed with guns and bats.

    […] 250 motorcycles flooded the area. […]

    At the same time, most of the police stationed to monitor the event were called away. […]

    Though police called the influx of counter-protesters “manageable,” video shows several instances in which nothing separated the angry crowd from the demonstrators. In some cases, violence ensued. […]

    Online ahead of Sunday’s protest — and again ahead of a second protest on Monday — rumors flew that buses full of outside agitators were coming to town. […]

    The rumors followed what has become a nationwide pattern of unfounded speculation about roaming bands of “antifa” — short for antifascist — destroying towns under the pretext of Black Lives Matter protests. The whispers frequently center on “busloads” of outside infiltrators and often inspire heavily armed counter-protesters to stand guard. […]

    TPM link

    Yeah, some people are really trying to stoke violence.

  29. says

    A Definitive Rundown Of Unrelated Tangents Trump Raised During His Police Reform Event

    […] Shortly after announcing his police reform executive order — which he said includes banning chokeholds “unless an officer’s life is at risk” — [Trump] went off script to jab Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and tout the stock market’s performance amid an economy hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. […]

    Reminder: I’m the President of “law and order”
    Soon after his remarks about being “one nation” united in grief amid protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Trump argued that “law and order must be restored.”

    “Americans want law and order, they demand law and order. They may not say it, they may not be talking about it, but that’s what they want,” Trump said. “Some of them don’t know that that’s what they want, but that’s what they want. They understand that when you remove the police, you hurt those that have the least, the most.”

    Jabs at his presidential rival Joe Biden
    Not long after suggesting now is not the time for the “stoking of fear and division,” Trump threw a punch at former President Barack Obama and his then-VP Biden, accusing them of “never” trying to reform policing tactics.

    “We will have reform without undermining our many great and extremely talented law enforcement officers,” Trump said. “President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period. The reason they didn’t try is because they had no idea how to do it and it is a complex situation.” [Big lie. Easily debunked.]

    Calling school choice the “civil rights of all time”
    After hyping his belief that his administration is “focused on creating opportunity, fighting for equal justice and truly delivering results,” Trump insisted his team is fighting for school choice, which “really is the civil rights of all time in this country.”

    “Frankly, school choice is the civil rights statement of the year, of the decade and probably beyond because all children have to have access to quality education,” Trump said. “A child’s zip code in America should never determine their future. That’s what was happening.”

    Trump went on to reiterate that all children deserve equal opportunity “because we are all made equal by God” before arguing that “a great jobs market and thriving economy is probably the best thing” that his administration can do to help black, hispanic and Asian communities.

    Brags about retail sale increases amid the COVID-19 pandemic
    After claiming that he’s “building up” the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic ruined what were once “the best unemployment and employment numbers,” Trump touted strong performances in retail sales.

    “Jobs are rapidly coming back and retail sales that were just announced two hours ago, just a little while ago, they’re up a staggering 17.7%,” Trump said, receiving applause from attendees before adding how “amazing” it is that projections exceeded expectations. “What does that mean? The stock market went through the roof. These good numbers, they drove it up to a level that were almost at the same level, hard to believe.”

    Trump added that the country’s economy is “getting close to the level” it was before the pandemic and “before all of the things that you’ve seen happen happened.”

    Falsely claiming that an AIDS vaccine exists
    Trump predicted that there will be a “very successful” vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of the year before claiming that “incredible” scientists and doctors developed an AIDS vaccine. There is no such vaccine.

    The President quickly corrected himself in a deadpan manner by saying that there is a therapeutic way to treat AIDS.

    “AIDS was a death sentence,” Trump said. “Now people will live a life with a pill — it’s an incredible thing.”

    Comments from readers of the article:

    When does a cop applies a chokehold or shoot someone unless their life it’s at risk? Never! Even those guys being shoot in the back were passing lethal farts as they ran
    ———————-
    This is just a fig leaf so that the fascists can say “yeah Trump is addressing the issue”.
    ——————
    [December 18, 2014] President Obama signs an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and announces the members of the new task force.
    ———————–
    ‘School choice’ is republican code for school segregation. Trump may be too stupid to realize this, but no one outside of the Fox bubble is.
    ———————-
    A model of rhetorical vacuity and intellectual bankruptcy.
    ————————
    “Some of them don’t know that that’s what they want, but that’s what they want.”

    Paternalistic bullshit.
    —————————
    I studied charter schools for my doctorate. Vouchers can help pay for private schools. However, a voucher, particularly if pegged to the cost of a year of public education, does not cover the difference between that and private school education. Which, of course, will block out students from poor families, while having the effect of subsidizing boat payments for the well-to-do.

    Moreover, just because you have a voucher does not mean you get into the private school–they take who they want. And generally, they won’t want students from poor families. And, if you are a Special Needs student, forget it.

    And none of that even touches on using vouchers to pay for private, religious schooling.

    Public education, per Horace Mann, is the great equalizer, and is one of the things that makes America great.

  30. says

    No, it’s not just increased testing that documents growing coronavirus outbreaks.

    Arizona set statewide records on Monday for the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ventilators in use, and ICU beds in use, a range of markers that point to the severity of the ongoing outbreak.

    In all, the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services recorded 2,392 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, according to data released today.

    More worrisome from an epidemiological standpoint, however, is the state’s steady increase in hospitalizations and ICU and ventilator usage.

    The state logged 1,506 COVID-19 patients in hospitals on Monday, setting another record, along with 340 ventilators in use and 502 ICU beds taken up by COVID-19 patients.

    Dr. Murtaza Akhter, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and a supervisory emergency physician at the Maricopa Integrated Health System, [said] “COVID was here a couple of weeks ago, but nothing like at this level,” he said.

    Akhter described to TPM an emergency department brimming with COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom had already tested positive and who arrived at the ER knowing what was going on. […]

    “I worked yesterday in the ER, and I was taken aback,” he said, recalling one patient who arrived and said her husband lay dead at their home, presumably also from COVID-19.

    “The patients kept coming in, kept coming in,” he said. “There were people being diagnosed in the ER, and people who had already tested COVID-positive and were struggling to breathe.” […]

    Local reports suggest the situation could be deteriorating far faster in hotspot areas.

    In Tuscon, Dr. Steven Oscherwitz tweeted on Monday that his hospital had only one ICU bed remaining. […]

    The state’s stay-at-home order was lifted on May 15.

    Epidemiologists and public health officials have noted that Arizona’s case count began to increase sharply on May 25 — a long enough time after the stay at home order was lifted to suggest the virus has begun spreading widely again.

    Akhter added that more cases were likely to come, in part because of the time it takes between infection and a patient falling into a serious enough state to require hospitalization.

    “One thing we know about this disease is that there’s a lot of time from testing positive to decompensation,” he said.

    Link

  31. says

    Vice President Mike Pence is spreading lies about COVID-19.

    […] Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Pence denies that there is such a thing as a “second wave” to the pandemic, and he doesn’t mean because we haven’t exited the first wave. According to Pence, the American healthcare system is “far stronger” than it was four months ago, because there’s nothing like endless overtime, constantly full hospital beds, and 600 dead doctors and nurses to make the system so much better. […] And of course, Pence promises a “viable vaccine by the fall.” Because this is a fairy tale that calls for an October surprise!

    On Monday, Mike Pence outright lied to reporters when explaining why it was just dandy for Trump to hold a rally in Tulsa on Saturday over the objection of local officials. “In a very real sense, they’ve flattened the curve,” said Pence. “And today their hospital capacity is abundant, the number of cases in Oklahoma has declined precipitously and we feel very confident going forward with the rally this coming weekend.”

    None of that—none of that—is true. Oklahoma has racked up its highest number of new cases ever during the last week. So did the county where Tulsa is located. And then Oklahoma beat its old record today. There is no sense in which the curve is flattened, or cases are declining. […]

    Compared to neighboring states like Texas, Oklahoma has gotten off relatively lightly—so far. But an event like the one Trump intends to hold is tailor-made for disaster. Something that the Trump campaign definitely recognizes by requiring those signing up for tickets to also complete a disclaimer holding Trump harmless if they catch COVID-19 at the ill-advised event.

    Pence scoffs that “the media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way,” because sure … 120,000 dead Americans is a walk in the park. Nothing to be concerned about. It’s not like any of them were killed by Muslims or immigrants. Because then every life is definitely sacred. But 120,000 people dead from a virus … that’s what winning looks like.

    According to Pence, it’s time for “celebration,” not “fearmongering.” Because as we know, this is definitely all behind us. All behind us. And all so, so goodly.

    Pence provides no details about the supposed vaccine coming for the fall (it’s not a “surprise” if you announce it too many times in advance), but he does spend a good deal of time bragging about how testing is now so good that “today less than 6% of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus.” “Today” clearly not being today, where Florida’s rate of positives was an amazing 23%.

    Even if the U.S. was turning up positives at the rate Pence suggests, that would still be a horrible signal of an outbreak in progress. In Italy, once the world’s biggest hot spot, daily positives are down to 300 with a rate of positives below 0.5%. Germany is at 0.8%. Australia is currently conducting over 3,400 tests for every positive case found, for a rate of 0.03%. That is what adequate testing looks like. Not only is a 6% positive rate nothing to brag about, it’s an absolute sign of a broken system where in many locations people still aren’t being tested until they are displaying obvious symptoms. […]

    Florida had its worst day today. Arizona had its worst day today. Oklahoma had its worst day today. Texas had its worst day last week, but then Texas hasn’t yet reported its tallies for Tuesday. Ten states are at new highs for hospitalization. And the states with Republican governors who listened to Trump and Pence are heading for catastrophe.

    No matter what Pence says, the United States is definitely not in better shape than it was four months ago. It’s exhausted physically and economically, buffeted by conflicting information—with Pence himself being a primary source of pure lies.

    And why in holy hell won’t Mike Pence put on a mask?

    Link

  32. says

    He didn’t wear a mask. He contracted coronavirus, possibly in the House of Representatives. He got sick. His family got sick.

    Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina took to his Facebook page on Monday to announce that he, his wife, and his son had all tested positive for COVID-19. Calling it the “Wuhan Flu,” Rice said that his son got it the worst, with a high fever and coughing, but seemed “on the mend.” Rice said his and his wife’s cases were less severe, with his wife having it worse. According to him, his son first came down with symptoms last Sunday, which would be June 7. Rice himself says he came down with it on Monday, June 8, and his wife Wrenzie “got it on Thursday.” An important thing to distinguish here is that these dates aren’t necessarily when this family “got” or contracted the virus; they just represent the days that each of them started displaying symptoms.

    CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Rep. Rice was in the House chambers and on the floor the week before his son showed symptoms. At that time, Rep. Rice did not wear a mask when he was on the floor. Raju asked him about this lack of precaution at the time and Rice explained that “I’m socially distancing. I’m staying six feet away from folks.” […]

    Link

  33. says

    How Rich Investors, Not Doctors, Profit From Marking Up ER Bills

    TeamHealth, a medical staffing firm owned by private-equity giant Blackstone, charges multiples more than the cost of ER care.

    In 2017, TeamHealth, the nation’s largest staffing firm for ER doctors, sued a small insurance company in Texas over a few million dollars of disputed bills.

    Over 2 1/2 years of litigation, the case has provided a rare look inside TeamHealth’s own operations at a time when the company […] is under scrutiny for soaking patients with surprise medical bills and cutting doctors’ pay amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Hundreds of pages of tax returns, depositions and other filings in state court in Houston show how TeamHealth marks up medical bills in order to boost profits for investors. […]

    the Texas court records contradict TeamHealth’s claims that the point of its aggressive pricing is to protect doctors’ pay. In fact, none of the additional money that TeamHealth wrings out of a bill goes back to the doctor who treated the patient.

    Instead, the court records show, all the profit goes to TeamHealth. […]

    “In the market for emergency medicine, where patients can’t choose where they go in advance of care, there’s a real opportunity to take advantage of patients, and I think we’re seeing that that’s almost precisely what TeamHealth is doing, and it’s wildly lucrative for the firm itself and its private equity investors.”

    Some of TeamHealth’s own physicians say they’re uncomfortable with the company’s business practices.

    “As an emergency medicine physician, I have absolutely no idea to whom or how much is billed in my name. […]

    “This is not what I signed up for and this isn’t what most other ER docs signed up for. I went into medicine to lessen suffering, but as I understand more clearly my role as an employee of TeamHealth, I realize that I’m unintentionally worsening some patients’ suffering.”

    Most ER doctors aren’t employees of the hospital where they work. Historically they belonged to doctors’ practice groups. In recent years, wealthy private investors have bought out those practice groups and consolidated them into massive nationwide staffing firms like TeamHealth and its largest competitor, KKR-owned Envision Healthcare.

    […] patients can receive huge medical bills even when they pick a hospital within their insurance plan’s network, because the individual doctor working for a contractor like TeamHealth could be out of network. […]

    TeamHealth said surprise bills are “rare and unintended,” but with millions of patients, it has happened tens of thousands of times. The company has called surprise billing a “source of contracting negotiating leverage” to demand higher payments from insurers. […]

    As an alternative to going after patients themselves, TeamHealth said it sues insurers to demand higher payments for out-of-network charges. The company has filed 38 such lawsuits since 2018.

    In the Texas case, two TeamHealth affiliates that provide doctors and nurses to emergency rooms in the Houston and El Paso areas sued a small insurance company called Molina Healthcare. TeamHealth identified almost 5,000 out-of-network claims in 2016 and 2017 for which it billed $6.6 million and Molina paid $760,000. TeamHealth sent a letter demanding that Molina pay $2.3 million. Molina’s lawyers viewed this as an admission that the original bill was far higher than even TeamHealth thought was fair.

    The actual costs of medical services are not a factor in setting TeamHealth’s prices, according to the deposition of Kent Bristow, a TeamHealth executive in charge of revenue. At some locations, TeamHealth’s prices were higher than those of 95% of other providers and eight or nine times more than what Medicare would pay, according to Bristow’s deposition. […]

    The amount that TeamHealth charges doesn’t determine how much TeamHealth pays its doctors who perform those services […] Instead, the doctors are paid a base compensation plus an incentive tied to how much work they do (which is not the same as the price billed for their services). […]

    The TeamHealth executive in charge of the two affiliates said he assumed the profit would be shared with the doctors who did the work. “It would most likely go back to the providers,” the executive, Lance Williams, said in a deposition. Under further questioning, he admitted, “Yeah, I’m not sure.”

    In fact, the entire leftover $26.1 million went to TeamHealth’s “management fee.” […]

    In other words, out of the $1.6 billion that was originally billed but not collected, any additional dollar that TeamHealth managed to recover would be passed through to the corporate parent. The doctors would not see it. […]

    To establish this business model, TeamHealth had to find a way to deal with long-standing state laws that were specifically designed to protect the medical profession from becoming beholden to profit motives. These laws […] require doctors to work for themselves or other doctors, not lay people or corporations like TeamHealth. Court records in the Molina case show how TeamHealth’s lawyers use shell entities to avoid directly employing doctors.

    “TeamHealth monetizes this process by unilaterally setting charges and then billing patients and payors for those amounts and retaining all of the profits of the enterprise,” […] “The fees generated, billed, and retained by TeamHealth reflect the type of overt commercialization of the medical profession that the prohibition on the [corporate practice of medicine] is designed to prevent.” […]

    According to the American Medical Association, the laws are meant to prevent profit motives from influencing medical judgments—a recognition that corporations’ devotion to shareholder value shouldn’t mix with doctors’ Hippocratic oath. […]

    TeamHealth and Envision have themselves acknowledged that they operate on questionable legal ground. During periods when the companies were publicly traded, their investor disclosures highlighted the controversy surrounding their compliance with state licensing regimes. […]

    TeamHealth says the laws are outdated and unnecessary—as one of the company’s senior lawyers called it in a deposition, “this arcane law we call the corporate practice of medicine that nobody needs.” […]

    Doctors working for TeamHealth are technically independent contractors to a “professional association,” or P.A. In order to comply with Texas law, the professional association is owned by a licensed physician. The professional association then contracts with TeamHealth subsidiaries to provide administrative services—such as billing, payroll and malpractice insurance—in exchange for payment. […]
    “Everything about your right to own, operate, and manage ACS and EST [the two professional associations] is dependent upon you staying in the good graces of the TeamHealth organization, correct?” Molina’s lawyer asked in the deposition.

    […] In sum, the contract between TeamHealth and the professional associations gives investors more control of the business than doctors, according to Chuck Pine, a financial investigator who specializes in examining shell companies to determine the real beneficial owners. […]

    Molina’s lawyers called the arrangement “a sham to permit TeamHealth to unlawfully practice medicine by allowing it to in effect employ physicians in violation of state law.”

    TeamHealth countered that whether or not Molina’s claims are right, they aren’t enforceable through private litigation; only the state’s attorney general could prosecute a corporation for practicing medicine without a license. […]

    TeamHealth has used the same argument to defeat other lawsuits. It puts opponents in a Catch-22: State licensing boards have no control over a corporation that might be practicing medicine without a license because the boards don’t license corporations. The boards could theoretically punish the “owners” of the professional associations, but those doctors are not always licensed in the same state as the practice, and TeamHealth could always replace them with someone else. […]

    More at the link.

    Health care, (and insurance), in the USA is already a troubled and inefficient system. It already drives people into bankruptcy. And now we have these private-equity firms like Blackstone turning healthcare into a scam. They are ripping people off left and right.

    Sorry for the long post, but when private-equity asshats and lawyers join forces to run a scam on sick people and doctors, you know it is going to be complicated.

  34. says

    On Monday, people associated with far-right groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer entered the CHAZ, beating at least one man on camera nearby.

    Link

    After a week of lusting for conflict in a six-block activist zone in Seattle, far-right figures went and made their own trouble.

    Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone—or CHAZ, although some newer stylings refer to it as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP—is a small protest area that emerged last week, after police vacated a nearby precinct and city leaders agreed to leave the streets open for Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Almost immediately, figures on the right looked for evidence that the loosely organized protest area was a den of violence and criminality, with […] Trump tweeting threats to send in law enforcement and Fox News editing a picture of a gunman into otherwise-nonthreatening images from the area.

    Then, on Monday, people associated with far-right groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer entered the CHAZ, beating at least one man on camera nearby.

    Footage from The Daily Caller on Monday night shows a group of men in Proud Boys gear—jackets with the group’s name, and the group’s trademark polo shirts—pushing and punching a man and smashing his phone before piling into a minivan with the license plates removed and driving away. The Proud Boys are a far-right ultranationalist group linked with overt white supremacists that has been implicated in violent brawls across the country, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization as a hate group. […]

    Seeking brawls with the left is standard practice for Proud Boys. […]

    Some Proud Boys in the Pacific Northwest, and members of the sometimes-overlapping Patriot Prayer group, routinely seek out fights. […]

    More people stoking violence.

  35. says

    Related to #s 23-25 above – NYT – “Justice Dept. Official to Exit, Signaling Third Departure in Recent Days”:

    The head of the Justice Department’s civil division told staff members on Tuesday that he planned to resign after nearly two years in the post, according to an email obtained by The New York Times, making him the third top official at the department to step down in the past week.

    The official, Joseph H. Hunt, who previously was chief of staff to Jeff Sessions when he was the attorney general, did not say why he was leaving, and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on his departure. It came hours after the department filed a lawsuit signed by Mr. Hunt against President Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton. The suit seeks to delay the imminent publication of Mr. Bolton’s coming memoir that is expected to disclose damaging details about Mr. Trump.

    Besides Mr. Hunt, Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said last week that he was leaving in July, and Noel J. Francisco, the solicitor general, told officials at the department that he planned to leave when the Supreme Court wrapped up its session this month.

    Mr. Hunt, a 20-year Justice Department veteran, led the division that defends presidential administrations in court — and that has faced formidable pressure under Mr. Trump as it undertook deeply polarizing cases that career lawyers often refused to sign. Those include the administration’s decision to no longer defend the Affordable Care Act in court, the president’s fight to add a citizenship question to the census, and the adoption of harsh stances on immigration. The division must also defend Mr. Trump against lawsuits accusing him of illegally profiting from his personal business since he took office.

    So many lawyers in the division left or asked to be temporarily reassigned to other parts of the department that at one point it froze reassignment requests.

    In his email to staff members, Mr. Hunt, 58, said that his last day would be July 3. He did not say where he was going next but told his staff that he was “amazed” by their work ethic and integrity. “I have the utmost respect and admiration for you because I have personally witnessed the manner in which you have carried out your responsibilities,” he wrote.

    Mr. Hunt joined the Justice Department in 1999, rising through the ranks and spending much of his time in the branch of the civil division that defends lawsuits filed against the president, administration officials and the administration’s approximately 100 federal agencies and departments.

    As Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, Mr. Hunt drafted the letter recusing Mr. Sessions from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — a decision that poisoned the relationship between Mr. Trump and his first attorney general.

    Mr. Hunt had a front-row seat to the early days of the Russia investigation, led by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Notes from his time as chief of staff were the basis for some of the Mueller report’s more dramatic moments, including Mr. Trump’s realization that the appointment of the special counsel signaled “the end of my presidency,” a concern he underscored with an expletive.

    Mr. Hunt was confirmed in 2018 to lead the civil division by a bipartisan group of senators, a rare show of broad support for a Trump appointee….

  36. says

    Thread from southpaw about the attempts on the Right to propagandize around the California attack before the facts became known (see Lynna’s #38 above).

    NBC – “Alleged ‘Boogaloo’ extremist charged in killing of federal officer during George Floyd protest”:

    An Air Force sergeant who was arrested in the fatal ambush of a Santa Cruz County deputy was charged Tuesday in connection with the killing of a federal security officer during George Floyd protests in Oakland last month, authorities said.

    Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, was charged with murder and attempted murder in the killing of federal officer Dave Patrick Underwood, 53.

    Underwood was one of two officers who were shot May 29 while guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. The other officer was critically wounded in the drive-by attack. Both were members of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service.

    Authorities said Carrillo and a second man traveled to Oakland with the intent to kill police and believed the large demonstrations spurred by the death of Floyd in Minneapolis — which they were not a part of — would help them get away it.

    “They came to Oakland to kill cops,” said John Bennett, special agent in charge of the San Francisco division of the FBI.

    Carrillo’s alleged accomplice, Robert Justus, was also charged with murder and attempted murder.

    The killing of Underwood set off a massive manhunt. Eight days later, officers showed up at Carrillo’s home after they discovered an abandoned white van that belonged to him and contained ammunition, firearms and bomb-making equipment, authorities said.

    Carrillo ambushed the officers, killing Santa Cruz County Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller and critically injuring another deputy, according to authorities.

    Carrillo suffered a gunshot wound but managed to flee the scene on feet, authorities said. He carjacked a vehicle but was ultimately taken into custody, bleeding from his hip, authorities said.

    He was charged with multiple offenses, including murder and attempted murder, in the attack on the Santa Cruz County officers.

    Federal authorities said an AR-15 was recovered at the scene where Carrillo was arrested and linked to the Oakland federal courthouse shooting. The assault rifle used by Carrillo was privately made, had no markings and had a silencer attached to the barrel of the weapon, authorities said.

    Investigators found inside Carrillo’s vehicle a ballistic vest with a patch on it that featured an igloo and a Hawaiian-style print — symbols associated with the far-right extremist “Boogaloo” movement, according to his federal complaint.

    Carrillo, prior to his arrest, used his own blood to scrawl the word “boog” and “I became unreasonable” on the hood of the vehicle he carjacked, the complaint says. Both phrases are also associated with “Boogaloo,” a term used by extremists to reference a violent uprising or impending civil war in the U.S., the complaint says.

    The complaint alleges Carrillo met Justus on Facebook, and that Justus gave him a ride to the rally in a white van.

    According to the complaint, Carrillo wrote in a Facebook group on May 28 that the unrest is “on our coast now, this needs to be nationwide” and that “it’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois.”

    In Boogaloo groups on Facebook and Reddit, “soup bois” is shorthand for government agencies that are abbreviated in acronyms like “alphabet soup” such as the FBI and ATF.

    Online Boogaloo communities frequently post memes about targeting federal agencies in advance of another civil war.

    In response to Carrillo’s message, the complaint alleges Justus wrote “let’s boogie,” another reference to the Boogaloo movement.

    In Boogaloo Facebook groups, the complaint says, Carrillo was even more explicit about taking advantage of protests to stir up unrest and violence against police.

    “Go to the riots and support our own cause. Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage,” Carillo wrote in one Facebook group, according to the complaint.

    Carrillo believed that the Boogaloo, or second civil war, was “kicking off now and if its not kicking off in your hood then start it,” according to the complaint.

    Boogaloo groups are actively allowed on Facebook. Earlier this month, Facebook told NBC News it would stop recommending the groups in its recommendations algorithm, but the groups would be allowed on the site.

    From an earlier NBC piece – “Man charged in deputy ambush scrawled extremist ‘Boogaloo’ phrases in blood”:

    …The phrase “I became unreasonable” has become a meme in public Boogaloo communities on Facebook, which discuss weapons and fantasize about a second civil war. One recent meme on Facebook shows a man holding a Boogaloo flag at a protest, along with the phrase “Become unreasonable.”

    “I became unreasonable” is a reference to a quote written by Marvin Heemeyer, an anti-government extremist who bulldozed 13 buildings in Granby, Colorado, in retribution for a zoning dispute. Heemeyer killed himself after the rampage, which occurred on June 4, 2004, almost 16 years to the day of Carrillo’s attack.

    Heemeyer is known by the nickname Killdozer in extremist groups online and is frequently quoted in Boogaloo Discord chats and Facebook groups.

    “Heemeyer is revered in Boogaloo groups,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who tracks online extremism and is monitoring several private Boogaloo groups online.

    Referencing a nickname for Heemeyer, Squire said, “Killdozer represents the intersection between the libertarian ideal of small government and the militant fantasy of the Boogaloo. Heemeyer, as Killdozer, meticulously planned a revenge fantasy on some local government entities that he blamed for excessive regulation of his business.”

    Carrillo also wrote the phrase “Stop the duopoly” in blood on the car hood. “Stop the duopoly” is an otherwise nonviolent political slogan frequently pushed by third party and libertarian candidates….

    Movie trivia: Heemeyer was the inspiration for the 2014 Russian film Leviathan, which won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s interesting how rightwing propertarians never seem to find inspiration in, say, movements like this.

  37. says

    Independent – “‘Is this opposition questions?’: Keir Starmer offers to take Boris Johnson’s place at PMQs”:

    Keir Starmer offered to take Boris Johnson’s place at prime minister’s questions in the Commons, as the PM repeatedly sought to dodge a grilling about his handling of coronavirus by demanding answers from the leader of the opposition.

    The Labour leader accused Mr Johnson of failing to protect local council finances and prevent child poverty rising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    But – despite the convention that the weekly half-hour session is reserved for questions to the prime minister – the PM responded by repeatedly pressing Starmer to say whether he believes it is safe for children to go back to school.

    To cheers and laughter from the Labour benches, Starmer addressed Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle: “This is turning into opposition questions.

    “If the prime minister wants to swap places, I’m very happy to do it, to do it now.”

    And at one point, Hoyle himself appeared to get muddled about who was on which side of the despatch box, sparking hilarity among MPs by calling Starmer to speak with the words “Prime Minister”.

    In all, Mr Johnson asked four times for the Labour leader’s opinion on whether it was safe for children to return to schools, saying that “a great ox has stood on his tongue” in the shape of unions who oppose full reopening.

    Starmer replied: “Mr Speaker, every week the prime minister seems to complain that I ask him questions at prime minister’s questions. If he wants to swap places, so be it.”

  38. says

    Reuters – “Russia’s Putin protected from coronavirus by disinfection tunnels”:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin is protected from the coronavirus by special disinfection tunnels that anyone visiting his residence outside Moscow or meeting him in the Kremlin must pass through, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

    One such special tunnel, manufactured by a Russian company based in the town of Penza, has been installed at Putin’s official Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow and two more in the Kremlin, said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman.

    Demonstration footage of the tunnel, published by the state-controlled RIA news agency on Tuesday night, showed masked people passing through it being sprayed with disinfectant from the ceiling and from the side.

    RIA described the disinfectant as a fine mist that covered people’s clothes and any exposed upper body flesh.

    Putin has spent much of the pandemic running the world’s largest country from his residence rather than the Kremlin, chairing video conference meetings from a room that his critics dubbed a bunker.

    Peskov said in April that anyone meeting Putin in person underwent testing for the coronavirus. A month later, Peskov said he had himself been infected.

    Russia has recorded over half a million infections, the third highest number of cases in the world after Brazil and the United States, something it attributes to a massive testing programme….

  39. says

    DW – “Brazil: Police raid Bolsonaro supporters’ homes, offices”:

    Brazilian federal police have raided supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accused by prosecutors of funding “anti-democratic” activities. The raids follow the arrest of an affiliated far-right activist.

    Among those targeted early Tuesday were federal lawmaker Daniel Silveira and conservative blogger Allan dos Santos as part of a probe into the financing of anti-democratic rallies, Reuters reported.

    Brazilian media giant Globo said the search and confiscation warrants were issued by Brazil’s PGR prosecutions office and authorized by Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes.

    Tuesday’s sweep, reportedly in six cities, follow an incident last week when a small far-right group of the president’s supporters, known as 300 do Brasil (300 from Brazil), tried to invade Congress in Brazil’s capital, before security intervened.

    On Saturday, Brasilia’s governor, Ibaneis Rocha, closed the zone around Congress, the Supreme Court, ministries and presidential palace to prevent repeat occurrences.

    On Monday, police arrested Sara Winter, leader of the radical group whose real name is Giromini, who recently posted a video threatening de Moraes and reportedly led the attempted Congress break-in.

    In recent weeks, Bolsonaro’s supporters had challenged coronavirus lockdowns and called for military intervention against Congress and the Supreme Court.

    Last month, group members held a torch-bearing march outside court buildings.

    The hard-line former army captain’s confrontations with the institutions comes as Brazil suffers the worst COVID-19 outbreak outside the United States in terms of gross numbers….

    This is Sara Winter. The article says she was arrested under the terms of the National Security Law. I don’t have access to this full article about the law.

  40. says

    Here’s a link to the June 17 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said he had been diagnosed with coronavirus, is receiving treatment and will work remotely and through his aides.

    Just resign, already, illegitimate occupant.

  41. says

    CNN – “Buffalo protester Martin Gugino has a fractured skull and cannot walk”:

    Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester who was pushed by two Buffalo, New York, police officers earlier this month, has a fractured skull and is not able to walk, his lawyer said in a statement provided to CNN on Monday.

    “I am not at liberty to elaborate at this time other than to confirm that his skull was fractured,” Gugino’s attorney Kelly Zarcone said. “While he is not able to walk yet, we were able to have a short conversation before he became too tired. He is appreciative of all of the concern about him but he is still focused on the issues rather than himself.”

    CNN has not been able to speak with Gugino directly, but in her press statement, Zarcone passed along a message from him: “I think it’s very unnecessary to focus on me. There are plenty of other things to think about besides me.”

    Gugino is focused on getting better and he remains in rehabilitation, Zarcone told CNN on Tuesday.

    “Barring something unusual and unforeseen, I don’t expect much change at all this week,” she said….

  42. says

    Politico – “Pentagon official who questioned Ukraine aid freeze resigns”:

    A senior Pentagon official, Elaine McCusker, has submitted her resignation three months after the White House pulled her nomination to be the Pentagon comptroller. McCusker had questioned the legality of the Trump administration’s efforts to freeze military aid to Ukraine.

    McCusker, who has been acting comptroller since last summer, submitted her resignation effective Friday, June 26, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday.

    McCusker was nominated for the top position late last year, but the White House pulled her nomination in March after emails leaked to the media showed that she expressed concern over the administration’s demands to hold up aid to Ukraine.

    Trump was impeached this year on charges that he abused his power by freezing the aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals. Since his acquittal, the White House embarked on a loyalty purge, firing officials who had input into Ukraine issues. John Rood, the Pentagon’s top policy official until February, was another victim.

  43. says

    Josh Marshall: “For all the hysteria and misinformation over the last two weeks we have one individual who assassinated two police officers for clearly political reasons. And he was a member of one of the white supremacist/fascist groups ‘antifa’ is mainly designed to combat.”

  44. says

    “‘Trump will welcome President Andrzej Duda of the Republic of Poland to the White House on June 24, 2020’, White House statement says.”

    Tom Wright: “Totally inappropriate. Four days before Poland’s presidential election in which Duda is a candidate and in the middle of a pandemic.”

  45. says

    TPM – “READ: Flynn Rages At Ex-Judge Appointed To Oppose Dismissal Of His Case”:

    In response to the allegations made by a former federal judge about the Justice Department’s dropping of his case, former National Michael Flynn went on an indignant tear against the decision to appoint the former judge to oppose the dismissal.

    He said that the arguments made by retired U.S. District Judge John Gleeson were “an affront to the Rule of Law and a raging insult to the citizens of this country who see the abject corruption in this assassination by political prosecution of General Flynn.”

    As for U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, the judge presiding over Flynn’s case, Flynn said Sullivan had “exuviated [LOL – SC] any appearance of neutrality” by appointing Gleeson to make “these scurrilous arguments.”

    Flynn argued that Sullivan had no choice but to immediately dismiss Flynn’s case….

    Flynn’s fiery response comes amid his efforts to get an appeals court to intervene in Sullivan’s handling of the case. Sullivan appointed Gleeson to serve as a “friend of the court” (also known as an “amicus”) after the Justice Department made the shocking decision last month to seek the case’s dismissal. Last week, Gleeson argued that DOJ’s reasons for wanting the case dropped were pretextual and that effort to get it dismissed amounted to a “gross abuse” of prosecutorial power.

    “The irony and sheer duplicity of Amicus’s accusations against the Justice Department now—which is finally exposing the truth—is stunning,” Flynn’s filings said.

    Many of Flynn’s shots at Gleeson were aimed at the fact that he was appointed in the first place.

    “All it has accomplished is degradation of the court itself needless and counterproductive delay, waste of scarce government resources, and dramatic increase of costs to the defendant,” Flynn said.

    The filing ended with an especially trollish dig at Gleeson. Flynn quoted at length a “federal judge” who praised a U.S. attorney for asking him “to remedy injustices” by dropping two counts against another defendant.

    A footnote revealed that Flynn was quoting “Judge John Gleeson applauding U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.”

    Flynn’s response did little to address the substance of Gleeson’s claims about the DOJ reversal. Rather, he pointed to other cases, and said that, “Those who might claim that dismissal post-plea, or the government changing its position is somehow suspicious have not researched the law.”

    Read the filing below:…

    Truly appalling. Dude pled guilty twice and claimed under oath that he was remorseful. He’s made of unjustified grievance nursed over years.

  46. says

    G liveblog:

    The Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez has been hospitalised for Covid-19 and is being treated for pneumonia, a health official has said, shortly after the Central American leader’s diagnosis was revealed.

    While his condition is serious enough to require specialised hospital care, including receiving medicine via an intravenous drip, the president is generally in good heath, said Francis Contreras, a spokesman for Honduran health agency SINAGER.

    He’s 51.

  47. says

    Politico – “House Republican leaders condemn GOP candidate who made racist videos”:

    The House’s highest-ranking Republicans are racing to distance themselves from a leading GOP congressional candidate in Georgia after POLITICO uncovered hours of Facebook videos in which she expresses racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views.

    The candidate, Marjorie Taylor Greene, suggested that Muslims do not belong in government; thinks black people “are held slaves to the Democratic Party”; called George Soros, a Jewish Democratic megadonor, a Nazi; and said she would feel “proud” to see a Confederate monument if she were black because it symbolizes progress made since the Civil War.

    Greene finished first in a primary for a deep-red, northwest Georgia seat last week by a nearly two-to-one margin over the second-place candidate. She is entering an August runoff as the heavy favorite to secure the Republican nomination for a district where that is tantamount to winning the general election in November. Her initial victory — which has sparked panic in GOP circles — comes as Republicans are grappling with a national reckoning over racial inequality and police brutality after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last month.

    Republicans had just felt relief after they finally ousted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a controversial member with a long history of making racially charged remarks, in a primary earlier this month.

    Now GOP lawmakers, aides and operatives fear Greene — a wealthy businesswoman who already drew national attention because of her belief in a trove of “QAnon” conspiracy theories — could create an even bigger black eye for the party if she wins the nomination. Greene will face neurosurgeon John Cowan in the Aug. 11 primary runoff.

    “These comments are appalling, and Leader McCarthy has no tolerance for them,” said Drew Florio, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

    House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) went further, throwing his weight behind Greene’s opponent.

    “The comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don’t reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great,” Scalise said in a statement. “I will be supporting Dr. Cowan.”

    When asked for comment on quotes from the videos, Greene campaign manager Isaiah Wartman did not deny their veracity but declined to elaborate.

    “Thank[s] for the reminder about Soros. We forgot to put him in our newest ad. We’re fixing that now,” he wrote in an email to POLITICO. “Would you like me to send you a copy?”

    The top three House GOP leaders, as well as the head of the party’s campaign arm, denounced Greene’s rhetoric upon learning from POLITICO of her derogatory comments about blacks, Muslims and Jews.

    Despite Greene’s penchant for controversy — she has already faced public criticism for taking a photo with a white supremacist, floating a conspiracy theory that the Las Vegas shooting massacre was a plot to abolish the Second Amendment and calling one of the student activists from Parkland high school “little Hitler”— Greene has earned some congressional support.

    She nabbed endorsements from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus; Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill; Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), a Freedom Caucus member and former pastor; and the House Freedom Fund, the political arm for the Freedom Caucus. Jordan and Hice both said they disagree with her statements but have not yet pulled their endorsements; Biggs did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

    There is now a growing effort in the GOP to rally around Greene’s opponent. Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) both backed Cowan on Wednesday morning, as did Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). Ferguson called her comments “abhorrent” and said in a statement that she “shouldn’t have a place in Congress.”

    House Democrats have also pounced on Greene, even before the publication of the videos. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the chair of the House Democratic campaign arm, called her a “next-generation Steve King” in a statement.

    And Greene’s opponent, Cowan, is making a similar argument ahead of the runoff.

    “These comments do not reflect the views of the people of the 14th District,” he said in an interview. “I think she would embarrass our state, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep her from representing northwest Georgia in Congress.”…

    More atl.

  48. says

    ICE is blocking detainees at a notorious detention facility from making calls to advocates

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have blocked immigrants at one of the most notorious detention facilities in the nation from making calls to advocates out of supposed “safety concerns,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. […]

    What is known is that Otay Mesa Detention Resistance and Pueblo Sin Fronteras have been critical to the survival of detainees at California’s Otay Mesa Detention Center, helping them with funds for commissary, being a sympathetic ear, and shining a light on the inhumane conditions inside. Now, that lifeline is being blocked. “This is dangerous because we don’t know what abuses are happening inside if we can’t receive calls,” Otay Mesa Detention Resistance tweeted.

    Officials at the for-profit prison blocked the line at ICE’s order as it remains hard-hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with at least 164 detainees and 11 workers testing positive for COVID-19 per ICE’s most recent numbers. Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, the first person to die from the virus while in ICE custody, had been held at Otay Mesa for nearly six months before dying at a hospital on May 6. His family said he continued to languish at the facility after an immigration court cruelly denied his release.

    […] Al Otro Lado, an organization that provides critical legal assistance to asylum-seekers, detailed further dangers in ICE’s decision to shut off communication. […]

    “As we know from our own battle with ICE after the agency blocked our free, confidential Hotline, the US immigration detention system thrives in secrecy,” advocacy group Freedom for Migrants tweeted. “They have an incentive to block communication.”

  49. says

    Bolton wrote that he knows the president of the country he lives in is vastly more corrupt than the House impeachment proceedings revealed, but he didn’t tell anyone at the time. He kept it as ammunition to say some catty stuff about Democrats in his book.”

    Per Bolton, the White House sought to suppress the conversation in which President Trump corruptly solicited the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s assistance with his re-election campaign in 2020.

    Bolton: According to an interpreter and a named NSC staffer, Trump twice blessed Xinjiang concentration camp construction in conversations with Chairman Xi.”

    “…‘Trump then told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people’, Bolton writes.”

  50. says

    Senate Republicans’ policing bill designed more to screw Democrats than save Black lives

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has bowed to pressure and decided that he has to allow the Senate to act on policing reform legislation. More to the point, McConnell has recognized that he can use the urgency of this moment to screw Democrats. He’s going to hold a vote on the Republican bill next week, but he made it clear in the announcement of that legislation Wednesday morning that it’s really a dare to Democrats to oppose it and prevent it from advancing to a full vote. Because the bill does nothing to stop police brutality, it likely won’t get Democratic support. […]

    […] on the floor following the bill announcement, McConnell doubled down on the politics: “I’m going to file cloture on the motion to proceed and our Democratic friends, if they want to make a law, and not just try to make a point, I hope they’ll join us in getting on the bill and trying to move forward in the way the Senate does move forward when it’s trying to actually get an outcome,” McConnell said. “A law.” […]

    Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer didn’t bite. “This bill will need dramatic improvement,” he said. “Let me be clear: this is not about letting the perfect being the enemy of the good, this about replacing what’s ineffective with what’s effective.” Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Democrat who is one of the lead authors of the bill Democrats released last week, the Justice in Policing Act, called this bill a “baseline for negotiation” on a final package. “We obviously want a broader package. […] The environment is so much more ripe for legislation than it is for the First Step Act.”

    This Republican bill is barely that. It doesn’t not ban chokeholds. It doesn’t not ban no-knock warrants. It would “incentivize” departments to do it themselves by restricting some federal grants to departments that bar the tactics and creates data collection on the use of force. It tells police they have to keep and update disciplinary action on officers to share with other departments the cops might be seeking jobs at, but does not create a national public database to expose the bad apples. It actually gives more money to the police for more training and equipment, as if that hasn’t been tried repeatedly and proven to have failed. […]

    The Democrats’ bill, while not nearly as far-reaching as justice demands, is vastly stronger. It does strictly ban police chokeholds and carotid holds. It does ban no-knock warrants for drug cases. It does reinstate Obama’s limits on the transfer of military-grade equipment to police departments. It does reform qualified immunity for cops and it does make it easier for victims of police violence to sue individual officers and departments. It does create a national database for the public to see police misconduct. It makes racial profiling by law enforcement covered under civil rights protections. It mandates departments use existing federal funds to require the use of dashboard and body cameras. […] it also gives states’ attorney generals grants to conduct independent investigations.

    There are some real teeth in that bill, teeth that Democrats need to fight for and make very clear—right here, right now—that McConnell is delivering none of them. […]
    Democrats need to show the Black community and everyone who has taken to the streets to say “Black Lives Matter” that they get it.

  51. says

    Val Demings:

    During our impeachment investigation, dozens of patriotic public servants did what was right, They risked—and some lost—their careers and livelihoods by testifying about the president’s cover-ups and illegal abuses of power.

    Their honor, duty, bravery, self-sacrifice, and fidelity to the Constitution proved the quality of their personal character: the very highest.

    John Bolton is not among the most courageous and honorable. Where was he when his country needed him the most?

    I am reminded of the words of Dr. King: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

  52. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 69.

    […] Trump solicited Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assistance in winning reelection, according to a forthcoming book from former White House national security adviser John Bolton.

    Bolton describes an exchange that took place at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in June 2019 in his new book, “The Room Where it Happened.”

    During the exchange with Trump, Xi referenced unnamed American political figures who were too critical of Beijing and were threatening the U.S.-China relationship. […]

    “Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats. Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote.

    “He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

    […] also describes Trump as turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in China as he sought to negotiate a trade deal with Beijing.

    […] similarly downplayed the need to issue a White House statement on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Bolton wrote, and appeared to side with Xi’s explanation for why he was building the equivalent of concentration camps for Muslim Uighurs living in northwest China.

    “According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton wrote. “The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.”

    Bolton’s […] departed the Trump White House on rocky terms with the president, who has disparaged Bolton repeatedly in the months since he left. […]

    Link

  53. says

    About those summits with North Korea, another example of Trump’s abject failures:

    Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an interview said that North Korea “seems to have succeeded in acquiring de facto nuclear state status” after the nation’s leader Kim Jong Un has had three high-profile meetings with […] Trump.

    Ban, who served as UN secretary from 2007 to 2016, told Time magazine that he is “very worried” about ongoing missile tests in North Korea, saying Trump has allowed for the behavior to continue.

    “President Trump has been saying that it’s okay that [North Korea] are testing some small range missiles, as it cannot reach the American continent. It’s not only the security and safety of the American continent. It’s the safety, security and threat to the whole of humanity,” Ban said.

    […] Trump has touted his relationship with the country as a success in his first term.

    The 2018 summit was largely symbolic and lacked a tangible agreement. At the second summit in 2019, the U.S. failed to reach a deal with North Korea to completely give up its nuclear weapons, and North Korean failed to get demands for swift sanctions relief addressed. […]

    Ban told Time that “embarrassingly, we are seeing some absence of American leadership since the Administration of Donald Trump began … at a time when American leadership is most needed.”

    “[…] at this time, unfortunately, by just granting a one-on-one summit three times, [it] perhaps played to Trump’s ego and penchant for pageantry, and Kim Jong Un seems to have succeeded in acquiring de facto nuclear state status,” Ban told Time.

    Link

    Yep.

  54. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Masks no longer required in West Wing, McEnany says

    Masks are no longer required of West Wing employees, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday, […]

    The White House issued a memo on May 11 requiring staffers to wear masks when away from their desks and when social distancing was not possible after two staffers tested positive for COVID-19. But enforcement of the policy had been lax in recent weeks, and McEnany confirmed Wednesday that the policy had changed.

    “Masks are recommended but not required,” she said when asked about the protocol around the West Wing.

    […] the loosening of requirements on masks contradicts the advice of experts and members of the president’s own government, who have urged the public to wear face coverings when outside their homes and cited the use of masks as one of the most effective ways to prevent the transmission of the virus.

    […] The Trump campaign is planning to hand out masks to attendees at the president’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday. While rallygoers will be encouraged to wear them, McEnany said they will not be required to do so.

  55. says

    Since Some Republicans Still Refuse to Wear Masks in Congress, Now Nancy Pelosi Is Requiring It

    Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is an act of citizenship. It is also, of course, an act of self-preservation, but because mask-wearing appears more effective at preventing transmission of the virus than preventing your catching it yourself, wearing a face covering amounts to a small self-sacrifice in service of the greater good of communities, states, and, in aggregate, the country.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci articulated why he wears a mask this way: “I wear it for the reason that I believe it is effective,” he said. “It is not 100 percent effective—I mean, it’s sort of respect for the other person and have that other person respect you. You wear a mask. They wear a mask. You protect each other.”

    Many Americans, however, particularly those on the God-fearing, freedom-idolizing political right, refuse to wear masks, including the president of the United States. […] Trump’s signaling has been clear: He’s not only refused to wear a mask, he’s mocked those who do. Others in Congress have followed the president’s lead, refusing to wear a mask in the cramped corridors of the Capitol. The GOP’s “no-mask caucus” is an outlier even in its own party, but as virus rates continue to climb in portions of the country, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a move Tuesday to require House members to don a mask in committee hearings.

    Pelosi is tightening restrictions on mask-wearing that had until this point been “strongly recommended” and largely adhered to by the vast majority of House members, other than the Trumpy no-mask holdouts, like Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, and Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins, among others […]

    The rationales used are diverse and generally nonsense. “Can you smell through that mask?” Higgins asked a CNN reporter during an interview at the Capitol. “Then you’re not stopping any sort of a virus. It’s part of the dehumanization of the children of God. You’re participating in it by wearing a mask.”

    Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho told CNN “there’s just no need” to wear a mask because the “only way you’re going to get” herd immunity “is to get exposed.”

    These are obviously bogus lines of thinking and lead to situations like that of South Carolina Republican Tom Rice, who announced this week he and his son had tested positive for the virus after being asked just 2½ weeks ago why he didn’t wear a mask around the Capitol.

    New guidelines issued Tuesday by the attending physician of Congress, Brian Monahan, now require a mask for anyone meeting “in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room, for greater than 15 minutes.” Pelosi, in turn, directed committee chairs to require masks at committee meetings starting Wednesday and authorized the sergeant-at-arms to enforce the rule by barring entry to those refusing to cover their faces. Members who refuse to wear a mask will also be given the option of participating in hearings remotely. Under the new guidance, members are still encouraged but not required to wear masks on the House floor and in most other areas of the Capitol.

  56. says

    Josh Marshall: “The only saving grace to these revelations is that John Bolton decided to reveal them in such a way as to make it entirely consistent and even necessary to continue to think he is a loathsome and self-serving turd.”

  57. says

    ‘That is, if true, obscene. The president of the United States of America, signing off with the Chinese president, go ahead and build your concentration camps locking up this ethnic minority’. –Jake Tapper”

    Edward Wong: “…Bolton book should also make us reexamine all the praise Trump heaped on Xi over China’s handling of the coronavirus. It seems Trump wanted the trade deal to stick for reelection & believed whatever Xi said about the outbreak. Now 120,000 Americans are dead. See this tweet….”

    Bianna Golodryga: “Reminder that Bolton remained silent as Trump and other Republicans smeared impeachment witnesses, even questioning their loyalty…when they testified to similar asks re Ukraine.”

    Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch, Bill Taylor, Jennifer Williams, Laura Cooper,… He also called for the killing of the whistleblower, ousted the ICIG Atkinson, and continues to purge officials who objected to his corrupt scheme (see #58 above). Bolton is a first-order scumbag.

  58. says

    Here’s a link to the June 18 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The global death toll from coronavirus nears 450,000

    The Johns Hopkins University tracker is recording more than 449,273 deaths from Covid-19 across the world on Thursday. More than one in four fatalities are in the US, making it by far the worst-hit country. There are 8,349,950 cases worldwide.

    Nearly 500 Russian medics who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, the head of the state health watchdog has said, a far higher figure than given before.

    “Four hundred and eighty nine – that is medics, unfortunately we have lost almost 500 of our colleagues,” the Roszdravnadzor watchdog chief Alla Samoilova said at an online conference, Tass state news agency reported.

    Previously a health ministry official on 26 May gave a confirmed death toll of 101.

    The new number is even higher than that given by an independent website set up by medics where colleagues report deaths, the Remembrance List, which lists 444 deaths.

  59. says

    Confirmed: Team Trump on Facebook posted for Trump supporters to stand against Antifa – and added a giant upside down red triangle. Just google that ‘upside down red triangle’ and see what comes up first….”

  60. says

    U.S. News – “Ex-Driver for Bolsonaro’s Son Arrested in Brazil Probe”:

    Brazilian authorities on Thursday arrested a man sought as part of an investigation into allegedly suspicious movements of money he made while a driver for Flavio Bolsonaro, a Brazilian senator and son of President Jair Bolsonaro.

    Fabrício Queiroz was arrested as part of a joint operation between public prosecutors of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo states, the Rio prosecutors’ office said in a statement. Images on local television showed police escorting him out of a property in Atibaia, a town in Sao Paulo’s interior.

    The investigation began when the government’s watchdog for financial transactions detected suspicious movements in the bank account of Queiroz, according to authorities. It is suspected the money may form part of a corruption scheme involving appropriation of salaries from phantom employees of Flavio Bolsonaro’s office while he was a lawmaker in Rio state’s legislature.

    The financial regulator has said that many of the payments to Queiroz came on pay days for people on Flavio Bolsonaro’s payroll. In December, Rio prosecutors carried out searches at 24 properties, including a chocolate shop owned by Bolsonaro….

  61. says

    Update to #s 10 and 55 above – Reuters – “Belarus president’s main rival detained before election, lawyers say”:

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s main rival has been detained for questioning in a crackdown on opponents before an Aug. 9 presidential election, lawyers for the detained candidate said on Thursday.

    Lukashenko has allowed little dissent in the former Soviet republic since his rule began in 1994 but faces the biggest challenge to his authority in years, with thousands of people taking to the streets to support opposition candidates.

    Viktor Babariko, widely seen as Lukashenko’s main challenger in the election, had been taken in for questioning by police, his lawyers said. State television said he was being questioned, without citing a source.

    “According to the information we have, his car was stopped and he was delivered for what they call a conversation,” lawyer Alexander Pylchenko told reporters. “Actually this is a detention.”

    Babariko’s lawyers were not allowed into the building where he was taken and were not told of his legal status, they said.

    “This is a flagrant violation of the constitutional right to defence,” said one of his lawyers, Dmitry Loevsky.

    Babariko’s election team said the authorities were also conducting a search at Babariko’s house.

    Public frustration with Lukashenko’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and grievances about the economy and human rights have reinvigorated opposition to his rule.

    Babariko is a former head of the local unit of Russia’s Gazprombank, whose offices were raided in June in a tax evasion and money laundering case. Belgazprombank has been taken into temporary administration and 15 employees have been detained.

    Another election candidate said this week she was pressing on with her campaign despite receiving a threat to have her children taken away.

    Svetlana Tikhanouskaya decided to run after her husband, an anti-Lukashenko blogger, was arrested last month for threatening public order.

  62. blf says

    Officer who killed Rayshard Brooks accused of covering up 2015 shooting (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    ● Garrett Rolfe involved in shooting of black man Jackie Harris
    ● Court documents show police officers did not report incident

    The Atlanta police [sic] officer [Garrett Rolfe] who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks was accused of covering up an earlier shooting he and other officers participated in, according to a judge who reviewed the case.

    […]

    In August 2015, Rolfe and two other officers opened fire on Jackie Jermaine Harris, who they chased after he was caught driving a stolen truck […]

    However, the shooting was not reported by the police involved. Harris, like Brooks, is African American.

    Harris rammed a police vehicle and officers shot at him several times inside the truck, striking Harris once and collapsing his lung. Harris survived and later pleaded guilty to charges including theft, property damage, fleeing arrest and damaging a police vehicle.

    Judge Doris L Downs, during a 2016 court hearing, called the case a “disaster” and said “it’s the wildest case I’ve seen in my 34 years here.”

    Downs said she was so troubled by officers failing to report the shooting that she wanted the matter investigated.

    “None of the police put in the report that they shot the man – none of them. And they sent him to Grady {Memorial Hospital} with collapsed lungs and everything, and the report doesn’t mention it,” Downs said.

    “I am ethically going to be required to turn all of them in.”

    Downs even suggested state and federal authorities get involved.

    She said: “What the police did was wrong, and they will have to answer for what they did.”

    It is unclear if any action was taken. Downs could not be reached for comment.

    The Atlanta police department and Fulton county district attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it did not investigate the shooting, according to a spokesperson.

    Harris echoed the judge’s concern about the officers’ conduct at his court hearing.

    “I just don’t want them to get away with what they did to me,” said Harris […]

    Rolfe was apparently not disciplined, according to a personnel file released by Atlanta police on Tuesday, which listed the 2015 incident only as a firearm discharge but did not say how the department addressed the incident. Rolfe could not be reached for comment.

    Harris’s attorney Serena Nunn said police admitted in their report that Harris had been injured during the incident — but not that police shot him.

    […]

    In a letter to Downs sent from an Atlanta jail, Harris said the public would not be safe as long as Rolfe and the other officers who shot him continued to patrol the city.

    “Not only have I been wronged, but society as well {has been wronged} by allowing this officer to continue to patrol our streets of Metro Atlanta,” Harris wrote.

  63. blf says

    Arizona governor backtracks on mask rules as Covid-19 cases surge:

    Doug Ducey will stop blocking mayors from requiring masks but stops short of issuing statewide regulation

    For days, as coronavirus cases climbed across the state, Arizona’s Republican governor blocked local lawmakers from being able to mandate that residents wear masks.

    The mayors of Arizona’s largest cities went on national television and radio shows, pressing the governor, Doug Ducey, to give them the power to require mask-wearing in their cities if he was unwilling to mandate it statewide.

    Hundreds of Arizona medical professionals sent Ducey an open letter this week, outlining the evidence that masks save lives and asking him to require citizens to wear them.

    Partially bowing to pressure, Ducey announced on Wednesday that he would allow local governments to set their own mask-wearing regulations.

    He confirmed in a press conference that Arizona was headed in a dangerous direction, with nearly 2,400 new coronavirus cases announced on Tuesday and another 1,800 announced on Wednesday, and hospitals reporting that intensive care units are already at more than 80% capacity.

    But just a week before Donald Trump is expected to come to Arizona for a major campaign rally, the Republican governor is continuing to resist calls to make mask-wearing required in public places statewide.

    Masks have become a charged partisan issue in Arizona, one of the key swing states in the 2020 presidential election. As thousands of people watched Ducey’s press conference live on Facebook, many commenters demanded, “Make masks mandatory!” but others pushed back: Breathing is not aggression. Fear is not a virtue, one posted.

    […] Trump is expected to hold a campaign rally in Phoenix, with an unconfirmed date of 23 June.

    Ducey’s Democratic critics have accused him of repeatedly making coronavirus policy choices in response to Trump’s visits to Arizona, rather than in response to public health data.

    “I just hope that it’s not tied to Trump’s visit, the unwillingness to make the call for mandatory face masks in Arizona,” said Regina Romero, the Democratic mayor of Tucson, who has publicly pushed Ducey to make mask-wearing mandatory. “But it seems to all tie together.”

    “These are people’s lives,” she added.

    In May, just one day before Trump’s visit to a mask production plant in Arizona, Ducey had suddenly announced he was accelerating plans for reopening barbershops, salons, and dine-in services at coffee shops and restaurants.

    The timing of the announcement was suspicious, and obviously not coincidental, an Arizona Republic opinion columnist argued at the time, although likely shaped by a rebellion among Republican state lawmakers against public health measures, as well as the president’s [sic] visit.

    Now, just over a month since Arizona’s full reopening on 15 May, coronavirus cases are spiking, the death toll has risen to more than 1,200 people, service workers are speaking out on social media about being required to keep working at restaurants that remain open even as their coworkers are diagnosed with coronavirus, and the president [sic] is once again planning a trip to Arizona.

    […]

    Arizona’s former public health director Will Humble, who served under a previous Republican governor, has been arguing publicly that requiring masks, at least in indoor spaces like grocery stores, is an essential step to flatten the curve and keep Arizona hospitals from being overwhelmed.

    Without any change in the state’s public health policies, the latest model from researchers at Arizona State University projected that Arizona hospitals could run out of hospital beds in late June or early July […]

  64. says

    Great reporting by Jennifer Hansler and Brian Stelter at CNN – “‘Wednesday night massacre’ as Trump appointee takes over at global media agency”:

    The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were all dismissed Wednesday night — a move likely to heighten concerns that new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack means to turn the agency into a political arm of the administration.

    In what a former official described as a “Wednesday night massacre,” the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund were all ousted, multiple sources told CNN.

    “They let go all of the heads of the networks. It’s unprecedented,” an agency source told CNN.

    A source familiar with the situation said at least two of the removals — that of RFE/RL’s Jamie Fly and MBN’s Alberto Fernandez — were unexpected. The head of the Open Technology Fund, Libby Liu, had resigned effective July, but was still fired Wednesday evening, one of the sources said.

    In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, an ally the ultra-conservative former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is expected to be named to lead the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

    The rash of firings came just hours after Pack, another Bannon ally, introduced himself to employees, nearly two weeks after being confirmed for the job.

    Work has been “piling up,” sources told CNN, amid a leadership vacuum at the agency, which oversees Voice of America and other US government-funded media operations around the world. And a spending freeze could put the agency in dire circumstances within a week.

    USAGM says its mission is “is to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” In addition to VOA, it oversees Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Open Technology Fund, and other entities.

    Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement late Wednesday about the changes.

    “As feared, Michael Pack has confirmed he is on a political mission to destroy the USAGM’s independence and undermine its historic role,” Menendez wrote. “The wholesale firing of the Agency’s network heads, and disbanding of corporate boards to install President Trump’s political allies is an egregious breach of this organization’s history and mission from which it may never recover.”

    The shakeups at the agency are set against the backdrop of Trump’s attacks on Voice of America, which have heightened concerns that his administration wants to turn VOA into a right-wing propaganda machine.

    Shapiro, who is expected to be the new chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, told colleagues in 2017 that his goal was to turn the entire USAGM — then called the Broadcasting Board of Governors — into a “Bannon legacy,” CNN reported at the time.

    On Monday, two top officials at Voice of America — director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandy Sugawara — resigned, citing Pack’s takeover and his right to install new leadership.

    No new director has been appointed at VOA yet.

    Trump has repeatedly railed against VOA and accused it of disseminating Chinese propaganda. The news outlet — which produces digital, radio and TV content — is journalistically independent. Created in 1942, the outlet benefits from a “firewall” that is supposed to prevent any US government official from interfering with its reporting.

    In Wednesday’s memo, Pack said “I am fully committed to honoring VOA’s charter, the missions of the grantees, and the independence of our heroic journalists around the world.”

    However, there were already concerns that Pack could target career federal employees at the agency.

    The source familiar with the situation said Pack’s team reached out to the head of human resources and asked for a list of federal employees that were still in their probationary period, where there is more discretion for them to be fired. This source said they can think of only one reason the team would request this information — to try to figure out how to eliminate federal employees.

    Human Resources has reminded political appointees that employees cannot be fired without cause, but there is concern that they will disregard the legality of it and fire people anyway, the source added.

    According to the source, a member of Pack’s transition team was told to go through the trash and recycling to look for evidence of opposition to Pack’s appointment.

    Trump sent up Pack’s name in June 2018, but the appointment stalled in the Senate. His name advanced in May after Trump applied more pressure.

    Once Pack was confirmed, he instituted freezes on hiring and spending at USAGM, according to the source familiar with the situation. The freeze on hiring is standard, this source said, but the freeze on spending has a direct impact on operations — and no one knows when it will be lifted.

    With the spending restriction in place, the agency is unable to pay for things such as stringer journalists or satellite contracts, this source said, and within a week the situation could be dire.

    This source said there had been plans to roll out a suite of internet tools in Hong Kong before further crackdowns by China — crackdowns which have been met by strong condemnation and announcements of retaliatory action by the Trump administration. But now those plans are now on hold and if delayed too long, might not be able to happen.

  65. says

    CNN – “What we learned from John Bolton’s eye-popping tale of working with Trump”:

    …Bolton claims that Trump privately complained about sanctions and other punitive measures imposed on Russia with “extended grumbling and complaining,” even as he touted them in public.

    After the US announced a first round of sanctions on Russia for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, Bolton said Trump wanted to rescind the penalties and thought they were being too tough on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “Trump told Pompeo to call Lavrov and say ‘some bureaucrat’ had published the sanctions — a call that may or may not have ever taken place,” Bolton wrote.

    Bolton also claimed Trump stopped the issue of a statement criticizing Russia on the tenth anniversary of its invasion of Georgia. The former national security adviser writes that these actions were a reflection of Trump’s “difficulty in separating personal from official relations.”…

  66. says

    Barack Obama:

    Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation. Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals…

    …and now to stand up for those ideals, we have to move forward and elect @JoeBiden and a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that’s truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all.

  67. blf says

    The super-secret code name of Trump’s super-duper missile is … Donald Trump:

    The administration is doing its best to publicize Bolton’s book by trying to stop its publication — but maybe the super-duper missile will self-destruct

    Last month Donald Trump blabbed his mouth about a brand new, top-secret weapon in front of own gobsmacked military leaders.

    […]

    By the powers of deduction, we can now reveal the super-secret code name of this most awesome missile, capable of delivering the swiftest possible destructive power to the highest value targets. Its name is Donald Trump.

    For the last several years, the Trump administration has declared in no uncertain terms that China is its greatest enemy. Back when he was running for president, about a century ago, Trump said that China was raping our country with trade and currency policies that he called the greatest theft in the history of the world.

    Say what you like about his mastery of national security, but Trump is something of an expert in heists. At least when it comes to foundations and universities.

    [… O]ur great populist president looked out for the little guy by launching a massive trade war with China to teach Beijing a thing or two about all that thieving and cheating.

    There were tariffs that cost American importers $48bn and about 300,000 jobs. There were farming subsidies that cost American taxpayers $28bn.

    But it was so worth it because Trump was standing tough and the Chinese would surely crumble. After all, according to Trump, the Chinese were paying the tariffs. Just like the Mexicans were paying for the border wall.

    Then came the pandemic, or the Chinese virus, as Trump preferred to call it. Maybe it came from a Chinese government lab, or maybe the Chinese had corrupted the World Health Organization.

    You may have gotten the unfortunate impression from all this that China was some kind of enemy for Trump. You may have noticed the Trump campaign gearing up for a titanic struggle to paint Joe Biden as being weak on China, probably because of some self-interested dealings with Beijing.

    Blame China seemed like the only strategy left for a campaign laid low by a catastrophically mismanaged pandemic and historic recession. One pro-Trump group even spent $10m on a TV ad last month called Beijing Biden.

    Then, just as it was all coming together so nicely, a super-duper missile dumped its payload faster than a president can run down the last 10ft of an astonishingly steep ramp.

    As recently as a year ago, our strongly anti-China president was — to use the diplomatic term of art — sucking up to Xi Jinping.

    You’re the greatest Chinese leader in 300 years! he told his great adversary in one of those epic face-offs about the trade war he had launched so strongly. A few minutes later, he upgraded Xi to the greatest leader in Chinese history.

    What on earth could possibly trigger this stealth attack by the Trumpahawk missile on something so precious and permanent as Trump’s loathing of Chinese power?

    You may be surprised to hear this. It could shake your beliefs to their core. But apparently America first takes second place to Trump first.

    […]

    In his flop sweat for a deal, the leader of the free world told his Chinese foe that it was fine and dandy to build concentration camps for Muslim Uighurs. It’s debatable whether that’s more or less shocking than his offer to Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to drop legal proceedings for breaking the sanctions against Iran.

    Those are the sanctions that Trump has made even more severe than the very severe ones he was willing to help his Turkish friend dodge.

    […]

    To be clear, John Bolton is no hero in this whistleblowing account […].

    Bolton is merely the ferret-in-chief in this sack of fighting predators. He was Dick Cheney’s plant inside Colin Powell’s state department, manipulating the deep state apparatus for his own warmongering goals.

    Now he has turned his finely-tuned chest-stabbing skills into a best-selling book while somehow neglecting to dish to the Congress during this thing called impeachment. His lawyer said the House needed to sue to get him to testify, but his publishers just wrote him a $2m contract to get the same result.

    Stupid Democrats. They committed what Bolton calls impeachment malpractice by not offering him $3m to serve the nation.

    It’s a remarkable coincidence how many of Trump’s most senior aides have the lowest possible opinion about his patriotism, competence, and whether he is even compos mentis. […]

    Maybe, just maybe, this super-duper missile will self-destruct in the next five months.

  68. says

    Trump’s been tweeting idiotically:

    These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!

    Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?

    I was trying to think earlier of all of the people and entities the Trump cultists have so easily been led to view as ill-intentioned enemies of theirs: the leadership of the FBI and DoJ, the CIA, SDNY, New York, California, Mexico, the EU, NATO, multiple judges, the Supreme Court, the diplomatic corps, career professionals in numerous government agencies, Romney, McCain, Scarborough, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, VOA, several former Trump-appointed cabinet heads, various Fox commentators, political pollsters, governors and public health officials, inspectors general, CDC officials, NOAA officials, the WHO,…

  69. blf says

    Eejits! Fecking magic sky faerie-brotherers, Enter through the back door: secret church services in Mexico and Brazil defy Covid-19 rules:

    Thousands of worshippers sneak in to invitation-only assemblies organized like illegal dance parties, despite rising death tolls

    […]

    Worshippers at the Nuestra Señora de Fátima church in Zacatecas [Mexico] have been allowed into secret masses on the condition they sit behind the camera live-streaming the liturgy on Facebook.

    In Jalisco’s capital, Guadalajara, the faithful have continued to frequent the San José y Santo Tomás de Aquino church.

    […]

    In Brazil, home to the world’s largest Catholic congregation and also a rapidly growing and politically powerful community of born-again Christians, evangelicals have also made surreptitious church visits.

    Lift up your hands and shout: ‘I wasn’t chosen to hide myself!’ Pastor Gilvrando Rodrigues shouted at a recent service for about 80 believers at his church in Rio’s biggest favela, Rocinha.

    I won’t accept having to cower in a cave, I won’t accept hiding in a hole because I have a calling from God, Rodrigues added as he encouraged his flock — most of whom were not wearing face masks — to flout social isolation for their faith.

    […]

    Such services have been easier to pull off in Rio than Mexico.

    The city’s mayor, Marcelo Crivella, is an evangelical bishop from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God who, alongside Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been actively pushing for churches to reopen. […] Last week a judge ruled services could resume.

    […]

    At least 60 of [Brazil’s 45,000] deaths happened in Rocinha and Rodrigues, who himself contracted the disease early in the pandemic, admitted the virus was no joke.

    But we can’t stop proclaiming the word of Christ either, he insisted, calling churches an essential service. [My eyeballs are now rolling so fast they have exceeded FTL speeds, and now FFTL, and still increasing in speed –blf]

    The pastor claimed God had allowed the pandemic, partly in order to help transform the church. Faith had become a commodity, Rodrigues complained. [… he then asks for donations to alleged work on his Covid-19–temple –blf]

  70. tomh says

    Trump has his usual measured response on Twitter:

    “These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!

    Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?”

    “No one likes you” now trending on Twitter.

  71. says

    Jake Tapper:

    I found this section of the Bolton book — and a remark made by then-WH chief of staff John Kelly — rather jarring.

    Bolton writes of Trump’s “vindictiveness, as evidenced by the constant eruptions against John McCain, even after McCain died and could do Trump no more harm…

    “Another example of his vindictiveness was Trump’s August 15 decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance.”

    Bolton didn’t like Brennan but didn’t approve of the move, either…

    Kelly tells Bolton that he and the president argued about the move.

    “Kelly told Trump it was ‘not presidential,’ which was true, and he told me it was ‘Nixonian,’ also true. ‘Has there ever been a presidency like this?’ Kelly asked me, and I assured him there had not…”

    “In what by this point was already an emotional discussion for both of us, Kelly showed me a picture of his son, killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Trump had referred to him earlier that day, saying to Kelly, ‘you suffered the worst.’ …

    “…Since Trump was disparaging the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at the time, he had seemingly implied that Kelly’s son had died needlessly. ‘Trump doesn’t care what happens to these guys,’ Kelly said. ‘He says it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela.'”…

    This is the former national security adviser, quoting the former WH chief of staff — a retired Marine General who lost a son in Afghanistan — saying that the president doesn’t care what happens to U.S. servicemembers.

    He 100% doesn’t care about them. Thinks they’re suckers.

  72. blf says

    White Lives Matter painted on African American monument:

    A statue of African American tennis legend Arthur Ashe was vandalised with a white nationalist catch phrase in Richmond.

    […]

    Photos show the base of the monument tagged with white spray paint and the words “White Lives Matter” as well as the initials WLM. Those initials were then later painted over with “BLM”, for Black Lives Matter.

    Richmond Police said they were alerted to the vandalism at about 10:15am on Wednesday. Police said red paint on the statue itself was already being cleaned off by community members.

    […]

    The most recent statue to fall in Richmond was the Howitzer memorial, which was erected for troops that fought during the Confederate rebellion to maintain slavery.

    The monument showed a Confederate artilleryman standing in front of a gun and was erected in 1892 to memorialise the city’s Civil War artillery unit, according to the Encyclopedia of Virginia.

    It fell on Tuesday evening […]

  73. says

    Re #89:

    What’s so crazy about this is that Gaetz implies that his kids are black, Richmond says if that’s the case I’m showing more concern for your kids than you are, then Gaetz erupts in rage over the offense to his love of his black children, except MATT GAETZ HAS NO CHILDREN AT ALL

    It’s so bizarre.

  74. blf says

    Rights groups renew concerns over US Unalienable Rights panel:

    […] Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights has been met with controversy since its launch last year.

    Now, less than a month away from the expected release of its report on recommendations for the role of human rights in US foreign policy, rights groups are renewing their calls to end the commission, which they say has done little to allay fears that it will advise on a more limited understanding of human rights that emphasises freedom of religion over other rights, while de-emphasising the rights of marginalised groups.

    [… M]ore than eight months after the panel started holding public meetings, the directors of international human rights clinics at Duke and Columbia law schools, who have been monitoring and analysing the makeup, meetings, and stated justifications of the 11-member panel, put it bluntly.

    “The bottom line,” the directors, Jayne Huckerby and Sarah Knuckey, wrote in March on Just Security, an online forum on national security policy based out of New York University, “the commission is poised to adversely shape US foreign policy, dismay US allies, provide a playbook for other conservative governments looking to follow suit, and produce normative scaffolding for other, similarly conservative moves within the United States.”

    […] Pompeo’s stated focus on the United Nations’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a “soft-law” treaty that does not have explicit binding legal force, as well as his focus on the philosophy of the US founders, “risks diminishing the subsequent core binding human rights treaties and modern human rights institutions that make it very clear that human rights are for everyone and go beyond civil and political rights to include economic, social, and cultural ones”, according to Huckerby.

    Those include nine core UN conventions, which are binding for countries that ratify them. They have formed the basis of most international human rights law and have corresponding committees that oversee their implementation and resolve conflicts between stated rights.

    In the 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human rights, those core agreements, of which the US has ratified three, signed four without ratifying, and withheld from signing or ratifying two, have come to further enshrine internationally the rights of marginalised groups, particularly for women, LGBT communities and the poor.

    […]

    Alexandra Schmitt, a policy analyst for the Center for American Progress, also noted in October that “just three commissioners are women” and most members were white.

    “There is no apparent representation of the LGBTQ, immigrant, Indigenous, or disabled communities. As studies show, groups that lack the diversity of the population they seek to represent often make flawed decisions,” she wrote.

    Huckerby and Knuckey, writing after the panel’s last public meeting to date, argued that many of the ideological concerns about the panel members have borne out.

    They identified, analysing the commission’s framing and the panel’s comments during the public meetings, “a general scepticism toward international human rights, treaties, and institutions”, a perception “that there is or needs to be a ‘hierarchy’ among rights”, and a “belief that religious freedom is one of the most, if not the most, important human rights, and it can get lost when other rights are recognised”.

    [… lawsuit and additional criticisms…]

    While the State Department has repeatedly rebuffed such criticisms, some observers have argued that terms like natural rights and natural law, which appear in the mission statement, are a not-so coded reference to an anti-LGBT and anti-reproductive rights agenda.

    Eric Weitz, a distinguished professor of history at City College of New York and author of A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the age of the Nation States told Al Jazeera that the commission’s use of the terms relates to a specifically Christian, specifically Catholic thinking on rights, as far back as St Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages.

    […]

    Weitz also questioned the unilateral nature of the commission, which he described as “suspect”.

    “Since 1946 We have had international bodies and regional bodies, like the (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights), like the European Convention on Human Rights and European Court on Human Rights,” he said. “Why is the United States doing this on its own, when we have so many international and regional conventions and institutions?”

    […]

    Keith Harper, the former US ambassador to the [UN Human Rights Council] and the last person to fill the role [before the States withdrew in 2018], told Al Jazeera Pompeo’s attempts to define the most fundamental human rights outside of international institutions risked politicising those rights, much like Pompeo has condemned other countries for doing.

    “It has a touch and feel more of what we would call the way human rights are cognised by the rights abusing states, like Russia and China,” Harper told Al Jazeera, “having a narrow view of these rights, and having basically exceptions to rights based on culture and religion and things of that nature.”

    The administration’s approach, he added, “is far more, in my judgment, consistent with the autocrats, than with democracy”.

  75. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Waldman: “…except MATT GAETZ HAS NO CHILDREN AT ALL”

    Well, that he’s acknowledged, anyway.

  76. says

    BBC – “UK virus-tracing app switches to Apple-Google model”:

    In a major U-turn, the UK is ditching the way its current coronavirus-tracing app works and shifting to a model based on technology provided by Apple and Google.

    The Apple-Google design has been promoted as being more privacy-focused.

    However, it means epidemiologists will have access to less data.

    The government now intends to launch an app in the autumn, however it says the product may not involve contact tracing at that point.

    Instead the software may be limited to enabling users to report their symptoms and order a test.

    Baroness Dido Harding – who heads up the wider Test and Trace programme – will only give the green light to actually deploying the Apple-Google technology if she judges it to be fit for purpose, which she does not believe is the case at present. It is possible this may never happen.

    Germany, Italy and Denmark are among other countries to have switched from a so-called “centralised” approach to a “decentralised” one. [Germany’s at least has already been rolled out, so that’s one difference. – SC]

    The move comes the day after the BBC revealed that a former Apple executive, Simon Thompson, was taking charge of the late-running project as part of Baroness Harding’s team.

    If Baroness Harding decides the Apple-Google tech is never good enough to roll out, then another alternative might be a system based on wearable tech.

    While the government is still set to launch an app of some kind across England, health is a devolved issue.

    As a consequence, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have still to commit to the initiative.

    “We will continue to work with the UK government to gather the information we need on data integration, technical information and overall timescales before making any decisions on whether or not to support its use,” a spokesman for the Scottish government told the BBC.

    A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Executive added: “People in Northern Ireland already have access to a symptom checker and advice app called Covid-19 NI, which more than 50,000 have downloaded and use regularly. This helps people to improve access to information, particularly when they have been advised to self-isolate.”

    Pippa Crerar:

    Boris Johnson, 20 May: “We have growing confidence that we will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating and, yes, it will be in place by June 1.”

    Boris Johnson, 18 June:… [this]

    Ian Dunt:

    You have to keep reminding yourself that the government only just won an election with a fat majority. Incompetent, directionless, with no idea of what they want to do or why – Johnson’s administration acts like it’s been in power for decades.

    Fucking hell. Imagine the state of them in four years’ time. It’ll be a wonder if they can wipe their arsehole.

  77. says

    Politico – “UK government preparing ‘shock and awe’ Brexit media campaign”:

    The U.K. will use “shock and awe” tactics based on behavioral science to spur businesses and the public to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.

    The term, more often used to describe a military strategy of overwhelming force and closely associated with the Iraq war, is contained in a document setting out the government’s communications plan.

    A massive information campaign is set to warn the public about the “consequences of not taking action,” before moving to a new phase focusing on avoiding losses as a result of the post-Brexit disruption.

    The plan forms part of a £4.5 million advertising deal the government has struck with media agency MullenLowe London, which has also been working on communications around the coronavirus pandemic. The contract was found on the Tussell government procurement database.

    Britain is set to leave the transition period on December 31, even if it fails to strike a trade deal with Brussels. Either way, there is expected to be new administration and checks on cross-border trade next year, as well as action needed by EU nationals in Britain, British nationals on the Continent and other groups in order to avoid disruption.

    “The Transition Campaign is the most important government campaign this year,” says a tender document. It says the advertising blitz will begin in July and could stretch as far as May 2022.

    The current plan is to split the publicity across four “bursts.” Between July and August there will be a drive to “nudge” or “shove” people to take action by warning of the “consequences and opportunity” ahead, before moving to a “shock and awe” approach between September and November.

    Between December and January the campaign will focus on “loss avoidance” and from January 2021 onward it will be about “new opportunities.”

    The strategy was drawn up with the help of behavioral experts after the “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign, which sought to prepare people and businesses for Brexit throughout last year, was criticized by the National Audit Office.

    Government research showed businesses are reluctant to take action without certainty….

    Meanwhile, Brexit voters are “less likely to prepare as they don’t believe in any potential negative consequences of leaving.”

    Polling in January this year showed 74 percent of U.K. adults had done nothing to prepare for leaving the EU and did not plan to. Eight percent had taken action and 9 percent intended to do so.

    The new approach will use behavioral science to make people feel they should act and make them feel capable of acting. It will use some nongovernment channels to convey messages because “people have a higher level of trust in third parties and peers than they do in government.”

    The communications drive to prepare businesses and citizens is one of five “strategic goals” of the overall government plan for quitting the EU institutions at the end of this year.

    Another goal is to convince the EU that the U.K. is ready to leave the transition period without a deal, while others include minimizing short term disruption and implementing necessary changes.

  78. says

    Update to #s 92 and 109 above! – CNN – “Facebook takes down Trump ads ‘for violating our policy against organized hate'”:

    Facebook (FB) on Thursday said it had take action against ads run by President Trump’s re-election campaign for breaching its policies on hate. The ads, which attacked what the Trump campaign described as “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups,” featured an upside-down triangle.

    The Anti-Defamation League said Thursday the triangle “is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps.”

    “We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate. Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, told CNN Business.

    The ads targeted the far left group Antifa, calling on Trump supporters to back the President’s calls to designate the group a terrorist organization.

    Responding to criticism of the ad earlier Thursday, the Trump campaign claimed the red triangle was “a symbol widely used by Antifa.”…

  79. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… @ # 71, quoting dailykos.com:

    This Republican bill is barely that. It doesn’t not ban chokeholds. It doesn’t not ban no-knock warrants.

    Does this not show why many of us don’t not dislike the Daily Kos non-editing policy?

  80. says

    From text quoted by blf in comment 115:

    “It has a touch and feel more of what we would call the way human rights are cognised by the rights abusing states, like Russia and China,”

    Putin will love it, and may even be an advisor behind what Pompeo and Trump are doing here.

  81. says

    Pierce @125, almost every news source I read contains errors like that. I dislike the diminishment of editing standards that I see everywhere. Your comment is funny. Thanks for the laugh.

    In other news, (as a follow-up to SC’s comments 105 and 106), I like that “no one likes you” is trending on Twitter. I’ve been wanting to tell Trump that every day. It will take a lot of repetition for him to get it. Trump’s claim that the Supreme Court justices don’t like him, and that that is why they rule against some of his policies, (or against cases he has his DOJ bring before the court), is ridiculous.

    From Neal Katyal:

    Typical of this President to think the Supreme Court rules based on who it likes. What a disgrace to the Office and America’s commitment to the rule of law.

    It’s not about you, it’s about your silly arguments. The Court doesn’t like those. End of story.

    Trump is so incompetent, and has such contempt for the rule of law, that he prompts these rulings. A normal POTUS might have won in SCOTUS.

    Even for immigration hardliners, “Trump is tough on immigration and incompetent at doing anything about it” isn’t much of a rallying cry.

    This is even more deranged from reality than usual Trump nonsense. Trump ended DACA. He sent his top lawyer in to SCOTUS to end DACA. He lost, even w/all the deference Presidents get. Just like with the census citizenship case, halfway competent POTUS probably could have done it

    Very striking that Chief Justice Roberts writes an opinion finding Trump cabinet acted illegally, just as he did last year in the census case.

    This is the Rule of Law, coming back. Trump has spit on it. The Court hasn’t always protected it (see Muslim Ban), but this week has been a good one for standing up for it.

    No one likes you, Hair Furor. And, no one thinks you are a competent leader.

  82. says

    On H1N1, Trump keeps pushing a fight he simply cannot win

    The more Trump tries to compare the federal responses to COVID-19 and H1N1, the more he picks a fight that makes him look worse.

    Donald Trump is probably at least tacitly aware that many Americans are not impressed with his administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. [Trump], however, seems to believe he can turn this mess around on Joe Biden by focusing on the Obama administration’s response to H1N1 in 2009. Here was Trump on Twitter this morning:

    “Biden got failing grades and polls on his clueless handling of the Swine Flu H1N1. It was a total disaster, they had no idea what they were doing. Among the worst ever!”

    To be sure, the president has invested a fair amount of time and effort into trying to gaslight the public on this one. As the COVID-19 crisis began in earnest a few months ago, Trump insisted, over and over again, that the Obama administration’s handling of H1N1 in 2009 was a “debacle” and a “disaster.”

    The Republican even had proof: it was a disaster, Trump said in April, because “17,000 people died.” A day later, the president repeated the statistic on Twitter, labeling the federal response to H1N1 a “debacle” because “17,000 people died.”

    With this in mind, let’s unpack Trump’s case:

    1. “Biden got failing grades and polls.” Actually, the Democratic White House’s response was broadly popular. In April 2009, Donald Trump himself had positive things to say about the Obama/Biden response to response to H1N1

    2. The federal response to H1N1 “was a total disaster.” Wrong again. The New York Times’ Nick Kristof described the Obama administration’s handling of H1N1 as “a model” for others to follow: “Prompt response, quick development of a vaccine and then messaging for people to get vaccinated.”

    3. “17,000 people died.” As we’ve discussed, there’s reason for some caution on the figure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the virus was responsible for 12,469 deaths in the United States across all of 2009.

    But even if we accept Trump’s figure at face value, if 17,000 fatalities is evidence of a “debacle,” how exactly would he describe 118,000 fatalities over a much shorter period of time?

    In fact, this whole line of attack is as bewildering as it is wrong. Trump obviously hopes to convince people there was something awful with the federal response to H1N1, even if that means lying, as a way of helping excuse his tragic COVID-19 failures and undermining his 2020 rival.

    But by bringing this up so frequently, what the president is actually doing is inviting a comparison that makes him and his team look even worse. If Democrats are lucky, maybe Trump will keep this up.

    Link

  83. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump seems to think that everyone is as ignorant as he is.

    Trump on Juneteenth: ‘Nobody had ever heard of it’

    There are a handful of phrases Donald Trump uses when describing things he’s recently learned, but which many others were already well aware of. For example, the president is clearly a big fan of “A lot of people don’t know that” — a phrase he uses to effectively say, “I recently learned some new detail, and since I wasn’t aware of it, I’m going to assume most people didn’t know it, either.”

    Trump also has a long track record of throwing around its rhetorical cousin: “People don’t realize.” He tends to apply the phrase to things plenty of people did realize, but which only recently came to his attention.

    And there’s the third unfortunate phrase of the trio: “Nobody had ever heard of” something.

    The president has argued, for example, that “nobody ever heard of” Osama bin Laden before Trump referenced him in a book. […]

    And when speaking with the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Trump used the phrase again when speaking about Juneteenth, which honors the end of slavery in the United States. Referencing his decision to delay a scheduled campaign rally in Tulsa, the president was a little too eager to pat himself on the back.

    “I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Mr. Trump said, referring to news coverage of the rally date. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

    The article added that it was at roughly this point in the interview that Trump paused to ask an aide if she’d heard of Juneteenth. She replied that the White House had issued an official statement commemorating the day each year of his presidency.

    “Oh really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” Trump said. “Ok, ok. Good.”

    […] As for the idea that “nobody had ever heard of it,” just because the president didn’t know what it was before last week doesn’t mean the rest of us were equally lost.

  84. says

    The state of Georgia is still basically in voter-suppression mode:

    In the wake of his state’s recent election debacle, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) is reportedly eyeing some improvements, including additional voting locations. The Georgia Republicans is not, however, planning to send absentee ballot requests to the state’s registered voters.

    link

    I doubt that “additional voting locations” will be adequate, especially in communities dominated by minority or student populations.

    As for not sending out absentee ballot requests when the coronavirus pandemic will continue to a threat during November’s election … I have no words.

  85. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is reportedly planning to turn Saturday’s event in Tulsa into a made-for-commercials event, including musical acts, high-profile surrogates, and “multiple film crews.”

    Polling update:

    Nate Silver this morning unveiled FiveThirtyEight’s polling round-up on the presidential race. As things stand, Biden appears to be leading the incumbent nationally by about 9 percentage points.

    For his part, Trump argued in an interview yesterday, “[P]olls are fake, just like the reporters and the news are fake.”

    Lafayette Square fiasco update:

    the Associated Press reported yesterday that Trump’s re-election team “quickly produced a slick ad” in the immediate aftermath of the Lafayette Square photo-op gone awry. The article added, “The ad doesn’t run anymore.”

  86. says

    Well done:

    NEW: @SpeakerPelosi just requested removal from the Capitol of 4 portraits of former Speakers of the House who served in the Confederacy.

    She writes she is doing this ahead of Juneteenth.

    NOTE: these are NOT the statues, but these don’t need full Congress to weigh.

    CONFEDERATES GOING INTO STORAGE: While Pelosi uses the word “request”, she is essentially ordering that these portraits of former Confederates go into storage – leave display in the Capitol. (Or anywhere.)

    UPDATE: These portraits are being removed now.

  87. says

    The Prison Was Built to Hold 1,500 Inmates. It Had Over 2,000 Coronavirus Cases.

    Jason Thompson lay awake in his dormitory bed in the Marion Correctional Institution in central Ohio, immobilized by pain, listening to the sounds of “hacking and gurgling” as the novel coronavirus passed from bunk to bunk like a game of “sick hot potato,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

    Thompson lives in Marion’s dorm for disabled and older prisoners — a place he described to ProPublica in a phone call as the prison’s “old folks home” — where 199 inmates, many frail and some in wheelchairs, were isolated in a space designed for 170. As the disease spread among bunks spaced 3 or 4 feet apart, Thompson said he could see bedridden inmates with full-blown symptoms and others “in varying stages of recovery. While the rest of us are rarely 6 feet away from anyone else, sick or not.” […]

    Nationwide, Marion ranked as the largest recorded coronavirus outbreak of any U.S. institution in a New York Times analysis. Three other prisons, including another packed one in Scotia Township, Ohio, were in the top five. The fifth is the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

    With fears that a second wave of infection will erupt in the fall, some state corrections officials are realizing the coronavirus is a wake-up call, forcing them to confront the problem of prison overcrowding. They’re considering how to achieve social distancing in confined spaces, where inmates are unable to do the only thing that has proven effective in stopping the viral spread.

    States and the federal government responded to the initial onset of the coronavirus by releasing some individual prisoners who were particularly vulnerable, although ProPublica found the federal directive was undermined by secretive Bureau of Prisons guidance limiting early release. But even when it looked like the first wave of the coronavirus was subsiding outside prison walls, cases in prisons and jails kept climbing. A Times analysis found a 68% increase in prison and jail cases in May. […]

    Reducing populations has proven challenging in states like Ohio, where the overall prison population has declined while the inmate count at Marion has increased. When Ohio addressed overcrowding of female inmates by converting a minimum-security men’s prison into a second women’s prison, some of the displaced men were sent to Marion instead; the same thing happened when the state closed a minimum-security prison for cost reasons in 2018. Looming fiscal crises in states across the country are ratcheting up pressure to further cut prison budgets, and efforts to build more prisons are on hold.

    Ohio has shelved plans to rebuild the overstuffed Pickaway Correctional Institution (site of the second-largest recorded coronavirus outbreak in the Times analysis) and has no current plans to permanently address overcrowding at Marion.

    The response is, basically, do nothing.

    […] Ohio stopped reporting the capacity estimates of its prisons to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015, but an inspection that year showed Marion approaching twice its official capacity. More recent figures show Marion was at 153% of that capacity at the end of March, on the eve of the coronavirus’s arrival. […]

    The inmates in those overstuffed prisons became kindling in the coronavirus fire. […]

    Much more at the link, including perverse incentives for prisons to exacerbate, instead of correct, over-crowding.

  88. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump is now claiming that wearing a mask is dangerous.

    As part of his interview with Sean Hannity, Donald Trump had good news for America. The COVID-19 pandemic is “dying out.” In fact, it’s going away so completely that Trump doesn’t even feel the need to discuss progress on vaccines. “[…] because it’s fading away,” said Trump. “It’s going to fade away.” And in another interview in what seems to be Trump’s big day of wacky interviews, Trump declared not just that COVID-19 is “dying out,” but that ”the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was.”

    When it came to the subject of masks, Trump said he was going to make masks available for those attending his indoor rally on Saturday, but he certainly won’t be wearing one. In fact, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that masks make people more likely to get infected. That’s right. According to Dr. Trump, people fiddle with their masks, making them more likely to get infected. Even worse, says Trump, people are wearing masks … just to piss him off.

    The World Health Organization found that when both people in an encounter wear masks, it can reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by 85%. […]

    But that’s not Trump’s primary reason for scowling at anyone who wears a mask. In addition to saying that masks were “overrated,” Trump said that “some Americans wore facial coverings not as a preventive measure but as a way to signal disapproval of him.” Which would seem to make it unlikely that many of those in Tulsa will be taking Trump up on that offer of a free mask. […]

    […] Wear a mask because it preserves your health. Wear a mask because it protects others. Wear a mask because it sends a signal that you care.

    Wear a mask because it makes Donald Trump think you don’t like him. […]

    Link

  89. says

    From a discussion of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s DACA Concurrence:

    […] Sotomayor agreed the government had goofed, but chided the chief justice for taking an approach that ignored ample evidence of illegal bias from the president targeting Mexican Americans and migrants. Roberts and a plurality of the court, she argues, ignores this track record, and thus “prematurely disposes of respondents’ equal protection claims by overlooking the strength of their complaints.”

    First, Sotomayor writes, Roberts was wrong to discount Trump’s myriad racist comments about Mexican immigrants as “people who have lots of problems,” “the bad ones,” “criminals, drug dealers, [and] rapists,” and his comparison of undocumented immigrants to “animals.” As she wrote,

    Taken together, “the words of the President” help to “create the strong perception” that the rescission decision was “contaminated by impermissible discriminatory animus.”

    Relatedly, Sotomayor criticizes Roberts for minimizing the disproportionate impact that ending DACA would have on Latinos given the president’s expressed views:

    “I would not so readily dismiss the allegation that an executive decision disproportionately harms the same racial group that the President branded as less desirable mere months earlier.”

    Third, Sotomayor chided Roberts for dismissing the idea that DHS’s handling of the DACA recision raised red flags.

    “As late as June 2017, DHS insisted it remained committed to DACA… But a mere three months later, DHS terminated DACA without, as the plurality acknowledges, considering important aspects of the termination. The abrupt change in position plausibly suggests that something other than questions about the legality of DACA motivated the rescission decision. Accordingly, it raises the possibility of a “significant mismatch between the decision…made and the rationale…provided.” […]

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/06/sonia-sotomayor-daca/

  90. blf says

    Russian priest who called coronavirus a pseudo-pandemic seizes convent:

    […]
    A rogue Russian priest who denies the existence of Covid-19 has seized a convent in the Urals region and announced he will only be removed by force.

    Father Sergei Romanov stormed the Sredneuralsk convent this week, after being banished by church leaders in April for protesting the closure of churches due to the coronavirus epidemic, which he called a pseudo-pandemic.

    He was backed by Cossack fighters who were guarding the convent’s perimeter, according to regional media. The mother superior and nuns had left the convent “in order to avoid unnecessary strife”, the regional diocese said in a statement. No one has been harmed as of Thursday evening.

    Romanov is a leader of an Orthodox religious cult of “tsar worshippers” and has legally changed his last name to that of Russia’s last imperial dynasty. He helped found the Sredneuralsk convent in the early 2000s not far from the site where the Bolsheviks buried the tsar and his family in 1918 and tried to dissolve them in acid.

    Tsar worshippers? Good grief. (They are apparently also known as tsarebozhniki.)

    […]
    The fundamentalist group has prominent followers among politicians and sport figures and launched vehement protests against the 2017 film Matilda, which depicted an affair between tsar Nicholas II and ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya. There were several arson attacks targeted against the film’s director and a man drove his car into the facade of a cinema.
    […]

    The Grauniad doesn’t explain this “tsar worshipping” cult. The BBC doesn’t either, but adds this tidbit (Coronavirus: Covid-denying priest Father Sergei Romanov seizes Russian monastery):

    Father Sergei has made numerous controversial claims in the past, including suggesting the Antichrist would soon rise in Russia as a counterpart to President Vladimir Putin, and has criticised laws against domestic violence and anti-Semitic sermons. He has also ministered to several Russian sports stars and politicians.

    The Independent (which I’m hesitant to trust) does have a long-ish article on the cult, Inside Russia’s secretive cult of Tsar worship: How royalism is thriving 100 years after murder of Nicholas II (Nov-2017). It’s a twisty tale.

    The tsar-worshipper ideology is simple as it is attractive: the supposedly peace-loving Nicholas II sacrificed himself and his family to atone for the sins of the entire Russian nation. But it is the “Wahhabism of the Orthodox faith”, says [the head of the Romanov history department in the local Sverdlovsk Regional History Museum, Nikolai] Neuimin — a fantasy that has given birth to any number of other historical untruths.

    Appearing at the end of the 1990s, Russia’s tsar worshippers were initially a cranky group that few paid attention to. But earlier this year, the radical edge of the movement showed its teeth. The trigger was a new film, depicting […] the true story of a love affair between Nicholas and a young ballerina, Matilda Kshesinskaya. The director of the blasphemous film, Alexei Uchitel, was targeted in two separate arson attacks.

    RFE / RL explains in similar terms (Rogue Russian Priest Seizes Convent With Cossack Brigade, Sparking Public Showdown With Church):

    Tsarebozhniki, a breakaway sect of the Orthodox Church whose adherents worship Nicholas II, the last tsar, as a saint who suffered a martyr’s death for them, and advocate a return to monarchy. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized the last tsar and his family in 2000, but not as martyrs killed for their faith.

    […]

    In a sermon on April 26, Romanov cursed all state and church figures who uphold the ban on Russian Orthodox gatherings and called the coronavirus pandemic an invented threat whose ultimate aim was to facilitate the implantation of tracking microchips in Russia’s population, apparently echoing a conspiracy theory that has resonated worldwide despite being patently false.

    I presume there could be, someplace, cult(s?) which want to crown hair furor or worship him like a magic sky faerie.

  91. says

    From Wonkette: “We Read President Batsh*t McDumb’s Wall Street Journal Interview So You Don’t Have To”

    One of the more enjoyable parts of the excerpts dropping from John Bolton’s new book are just the unbelievably bugfucking stupid things Donald Trump has said and thought, because of how he is unbelievably bugfucking stupid. On the other hand, Trump shows us how unbelievably bugfucking stupid he is on a daily basis. We don’t need Bolton […]

    We can just let Trump talk to the Wall Street Journal. Which he did on Wednesday. At length. […]

    He Thinks People Wear Masks To Hurt His Feelings.

    To be fair, Michael Bender, the WSJ reporter, sort of set him up for that one:

    TRUMP: It could be, yeah. It could be.

    But aside from that, Trump thinks masks don’t work because people mess with their masks and then they infect themselves, with their own mask germs:

    TRUMP: People touch them. And they grab them and I see it all the time. They come in, they take the mask. Now they’re holding it now in their fingers. And they drop it on the desk and then they touch their eye and they touch their nose.
    What?

    TRUMP: But the mask is a double-edged sword and I see it. People come in, they’re talking through the mask for hours. They probably don’t clean them after, you know, they get a little cocky, right? Then they take the mask, they put their finger on the mask, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth. And then they don’t know how they caught it.

    I wash my hands before and after I take off my mask. I clean and disinfect the mask. I get a new mask fairly frequently. I avoid touching both the mask and my face while I am wearing it.

    TRUMP: But think of it, they’re touching it. I watch them all day long. They’re playing with it. You watch some of these politicians, they start talking, they take their fingers and they put them inside the mask and they rip it down. Now their fingers are infected. Potentially. And then they touch their nose. They touch their eyes, they touch their mouth. Voila.

    Hate it when you get coronavirus from your own face. America’s coronavirus numbers wouldn’t be the biggest in the world if everybody stopped giving themselves coronavirus.

    He Thinks ‘GIIIIIINA Maybe Intentionally Spread Coronavirus, Because Trump’s Tariffs Were Hurting American Farmers […]

    TRUMP: They did something because if you look, they had very little outbreak, although now they seem to have an outbreak in Beijing, which is interesting, as of yesterday. But everybody knew they had it. I acted very early. I closed our country to China.

    Wait what?

    TRUMP: Correct. They’re saying, man, we’re in a mess. The United States is killing us. Don’t forget, my economy during the last year and a half was blowing them away. And the reason is the tariffs.

    It’s not that he really thinks that, he clarified. “But you never know.”

    Trump added that Stupid John Bolton disagreed with his brilliant decision to close America to China because of coronavirus. (John Bolton left last September. Before coronavirus.) […]

    But wait, Michael Bender asked, did you actually consult with Bolton coronavirus?

    TRUMP: No. I lost respect for Bolton’s intellect fairly early in the process.

    He Thinks Coronavirus Testing Is Stupid, Even Though He Is So Awesome At It.

    TRUMP: I personally think testing is overrated, even though I created the greatest testing machine in history. I’ve created the greatest testing machine in history. And I think testing is overrated.

    If you can’t just say something stupid once, by all means say it twice.

    He Thinks Nobody Had Ever Heard Of Juneteenth Before He Made It So Popular.

    [snipped details, see comment 129]

    Millions upon millions of Americans have heard of it. Donald Trump, on the other hand, had not heard of it. That, we believe.

    He says one Black Secret Service agent knew about it and told him. [snipped more details of Trump’s ignorance related to Juneteenth]

    He Says He Didn’t Bring Any Black Friends Along That Day When They Gassed People So He Could Waddle Across The Street And Hold A Bible In The Air And Declare Fascism, Because There Weren’t Any Black Friends At The White House.

    TRUMP: I walked a long distance away. It’s like a three block walk.

    He also said he didn’t actually do anything with the Bible — like, you know, read from it, or say a prayer or something — because it was just too “noisy.”

    TRUMP: It was very, very noisy, as you can imagine. […] And I didn’t think it was exactly the right time to pray. I’m on the sidewalk.

    We all remember the famous part of the Ten Commandments about “Don’t pray on sidewalks.”

    He Says Hey, You Think That Three-Block Walk Was The Longest Walk Any Human Ever Took? Well Let Me Tell You About The West Point ICE RAMP!

    TRUMP: After the helicopters came over, the hats went up, the general said, Sir, are you ready? I said, I’m ready. And he led me to a ramp that was long and steep and slippery. And I said, I got a problem because I wear, you know, the leather bottom shoes. I can show them to you if you like. Same pair. And you know what I mean, they’re slippery. I like them better than the rubber because they don’t catch. So they’re better for this. But they’re not good for ramps. I said, General, I got a problem here. That ramp is slippery.… So I’m going to go real easy. So I did. And then the last 10 feet I ran down. They always stop it just before I ran, they always stop it.

    There was no “run.” […]

    He Says He Will Fix Systemic Racism By Economy Economy Economy YELL AT ‘GIIIIIIIIIINA!

    TRUMP: So I think, Michael, that the best way I can do it, it’s leadership. But I want to bring the economy back. Because if I can bring the economy back, African-American unemployment was the best it has ever been, by far. Number of jobs overall. Hispanic, Asian. But if I can bring the economy back, we’re gonna have great jobs, we’re gonna have families where life is going to be a lot easier. Their life is just going to be better. And I was there. We had the greatest economy. We had the largest increases and, you know, 3.2% increases, It’s unheard of what we did, and I think you would have seen a lot of people starting to come together. And now I’m starting that process all over again because Wuhan. I can give you 12, I can give you 15 different names for that. We can call it China. We can call it Wuhan. We can call it many different things. But because of the virus, it came from China, I have to start that process all over again.

    […] The question, for the record, was “when it comes to healing the country, is that something you think about and have you thought about ways to try to bring people back together?

    He Says He DID NOT EITHER Tell President Xi That Putting Uighur Muslims In Concentration Camps Was So Fuckin’ Awesome, Like Stupid John Bolton Said.

    TRUMP: In fact, I approved a deal—a reprimand, etc, etc—from Congress. That’s been done. It’s been all done. It’s been signed. But I approved. The deal came in from Congress recently. And it’s been going along in Congress. I could have killed that very easily. All I would have to do is make a statement that I’m against it.

    Tell us why he’s full of shit, Michael Bender:

    BENDER: That was today that you signed that.

    It was.

    He Doesn’t Believe Mike Pompeo Called Him ‘Full Of Shit,’ Like Stupid John Bolton Said.

    LOL we bet Pompeo did, though.

    He Says Some People Call John Bolton A ‘Hard Liner,’ Well He Calls Him A ‘STUPID LINER.’

    No really, that’s a quote.

    He Says He’s Pulling American Troops Out Of Germany (Which Is A Total Gift To Putin) Because Blah Blah Blah Blah ‘They’re Still Delinquent On Their NATO Payments,’ AKA That Dumb Shit Still Doesn’t Understand How NATO Works.

    Gonna just mark that down as “Christmas came early for Putin this year.”

    Finally, He Says It’s Fine If Ivanka Gets Coronavirus At His Tulsa Rally.

    […] Besides, he says, if you really think about it (like he obviously has), it would only be a “very small percentage” of people that might get “the plague that was sent by ‘GIIIIIIIINA” at his rally, so what’s the big? Also too, “they said there’s a spike” in Oklahoma, but he would say “the spike ends, has already ended.”

    Maybe he could HEREBY ORDER the spike to end, on Twitter.

    See? We didn’t need John Bolton to find out how stupid Donald Trump is. All we had to do was read his words, in the newspaper!

    Link

  92. says

    From Wonkette: “Hero Trump Lady Not Gonna Wear A Mask, ‘Cause She’s Not Even A Porn Burglar!”

    OMFG. You have to see the video. Scroll down to view it.

    Excerpt from Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] What is your favorite part of the video? Is it this quote?

    I am a healthy American! I used to be free! I am not a terrorist! I am not ANTIFA! I am not a sex slave that wears masks! I am not into sado-masochism and bondage! I am not a burglar! I am not a pandering politician like we see here! and here! and here! and here!

    […]

    I am a proud Trump Republican! Trump Republican! Yearning to be free again! […] I WILL NOT BE COMPELLED!

    WHO ARE YOU? VICTIM? OR VICTOR?

    No really, y’all. It’s like that. […]

    Also Deborah Baber followed that with an a cappella rendition of “God Bless America,” which was completely serviceable. Most of the notes were right there on the piano scale where they were supposed to be, or reasonably close, and she didn’t forget any of the words.

    And we can’t tell for sure from the video, but we don’t think anybody in the room busted their shit out laughing […]

  93. blf says

    In teh NKofE, the Foreign Secretary is trying to be even more bug-fecking stoopid than hair furor, Raab betrays his ignorance of the origin and meaning of taking a knee:

    […]
    The foreign secretary Dominic Raab’s assertion that the act of taking a knee appears to be a symbol of subjugation and subordination that originates from the TV show Game of Thrones showed a startling level of ignorance of the genesis of the protest adopted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

    When the then NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the US national anthem before a game on 1 September 2016 to highlight racism, it began a protest that would reverberate around the world.

    [… some history of kneeling…]

    […] It is often forgotten that his initial protest was to remain seated for the national anthem, mirroring a 1996 protest by the NBA basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who took the same action citing US tyranny.

    It was Nate Boyer, a white former NFL player and army veteran, who advised Kaepernick to take a knee instead of sitting down. Boyer told National Public Radio: “In my opinions and in my experience, kneeling’s never been in our history really seen as a disrespectful act. I mean, people kneel when they get knighted. You kneel to propose to your wife, and you take a knee to pray. And soldiers often take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave to pay respects. So I thought, if anything, besides standing, that was the most respectful.”

  94. blf says

    US corporations fund police through a rarely-scrutinized backdoor route, report reveals:

    [… A] new report sheds light on the myriad other ways corporations engage with police forces, including by donating to police foundations that don’t face the same scrutiny as police departments.

    The report was released on Thursday by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its research database project LittleSis. It details how more than 25 large corporations in the past three years have contributed funding to private police foundations — industry groups designated as nonprofits that provide additional funds to police forces.

    […] Foundations, according to a 2014 report from ProPublica, “can be a way for wealthy donors and corporations to influence law enforcement agencies’ priorities”.

    Legally, police budgets are typically public documents that must be approved by elected officials. But designated as private charities, police foundations are not subject to the same public information laws that apply to law enforcement agencies.

    These foundations receive millions of dollars a year from private and corporate donors, according to the report, and are able to use the funds to purchase equipment and weapons with little public input. The analysis notes, for example, how the Los Angeles police department in 2007 used foundation funding to purchase surveillance software from controversial technology firm Palantir. Buying the technology with private foundation funding rather than its public budget allowed the department to bypass requirements to hold public meetings and gain approval from the city council.

    [… other examples…]

    A variety of companies — including financial institutions, technology companies, retailers, local universities and sports teams, provide funding to police foundations. Donations may be, in part, to curry favor with a force that exists primarily to protect property and capital, the report said.

    “Police foundations are a key space for orchestrating, normalizing and celebrating the collaboration between corporate power and the police,” the LittleSis report said.

    [… examples of various large companies, including Amazon, Bank of America, Target, Starbucks, farcebork, Generalissimo Google, Microsoft, …— few-to-none of which would comment… ]

    Evan Greer, the deputy director of digital rights group Fight for the Future, said the report highlights companies can’t claim to stand for human rights while funding government agencies accused of violating them. “Corporations who cozy up to police, build surveillance software to them, or funnel them money through shady donations are actively propping up systemic racist violence and oppression.”

  95. says

    Laura Rozen:

    Top State Dept legislative affairs official resigns, citing Trump’s failures on race: “The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions,” Mary Elizabeth Taylor, Ass. Sec. for LegAffairs wrote in resignation letter to Pompeo.

    “Taylor, 30, was unanimously confirmed to her position in October 2018 and is the youngest assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in history and the first black woman to serve in that post.”

    Earlier this week, top State Dept officials reportedly asked the US Embassy Seoul to take down a large Black Lives Matter banner that Trump was said to be displeased about.

    hearing of another incident of a @USAID advisor, a Trump admin appointee, involved in removing BLM signs in her capitol hill neighborhood. good grief.

    hearing this woman allegedly involved in anti BLM harassment in her neighborhood has a job at USAID in which she works closely with Ivanka Trump on her women economic empowerment initiative. Have written @USAID to inquire.

  96. says

    Reuters – “Vatican urges Catholics to drop investments in fossil fuels, arms”:

    The Vatican urged Catholics on Thursday to disinvest from the armaments and fossil fuel industries and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment.

    The calls were contained in a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature, life and defenseless people.

    The compendium suggests practical steps to achieve the goals of the encyclical, which strongly supported agreements to contain global warming and warned against the dangers of climate change.

    The manual’s section on finance said people “could favor positive changes … by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters.” It listed these as respect for human rights, bans on child labor and protection of the environment.

    Called ‘Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home’, one action point called on Catholics to shun “shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology, such as abortion and armaments, and to the environment, such as fossil fuels”.

    Another section called for the “stringent monitoring” of extraction industries in areas with fragile ecosystems to prevent air, soil and water contamination.

    Last month, more that 40 faith organizations from around the world, more than half of them Catholic, pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies.

    The document urges Catholics to defend the rights of local populations to have a say in whether their lands can be used for oil or mineral extraction and the right to take strong stands against companies that cause environmental disasters or over-exploit natural resources such as forests.

    Bill McKibben tweeted:

    On a busy day with actual good news, one more piece: The Vatican just called for our planet’s 1.2 billion Catholics to divest from fossil fuel stocks–indeed to ‘shun’ those companies. It is one of the great moments in a 10-year campaign–thanks to all!

    I very much do not appreciate ignoring the reference to shunning companies involved with abortion (whatever those might be), which is the opposite of respect for human rights. And it says nothing about any nonhuman lives. Gah. Religion.

  97. says

    More re #98, from Walter Shaub:

    This bananas issuance [at the link – SC] from Michael Pack, the Bannon affiliated, new head of the govt’s media outlets is like something straight out of the DPRK propaganda machine. Bonkers stuff! This is the guy who’s running what are supposed to be objective news sources.

    Many people are saying. The sun praises Dear Leader.

    “Pack’s message was met with an overwhelmingly positive response by staff and grantees, who personally reached out and candidly congratulated him… ‘I am sure that with your arrival we will be able to rejuvenate our agency'”

    Cue the eery song of madness, boing boing boing:

    “These transitional steps are precisely what every new leader of an organization does; however, it was received differently, because the Senate confirmation of Pack was delayed almost three years due to obstructionism.”

    Totally normal, definitely not insane government press release says what now?

    “Hours later, Pack effected a series of significant and long-overdue actions to keep assurances to restructure the agency, fully in accordance with the law.”

    Here’s a weird and subtly paranoid line about dissidents, who will presumably be required to wear shame ribbons in the office:

    “One noted, ‘you emphasized that we all have a mission that unfortunately some have forgotten in recent and past years, to the disgrace of all.'”

    As in every completely normal transition, dear citizen, as in every last one:

    “As in every transition, Pack brings a leadership team that is committed to eradicating the known mismanagement and scandals that have plagued the agency for decades.”

    The not-at-all unhinged Mr. Pack repeats, citizen, that this is a completely normal part of every transition since the dawn of man:

    “These transitional steps are precisely what every new leader of an organization does; however, it was received differently, . . . .”

    You should not have “received” it “differently.” And you certainly should NOT have delayed his ascension to the seat of power the prophesy foretold would be his and his alone:

    “. . . because the Senate confirmation of Pack was delayed almost three years due to obstructionism”

    The new leader, who is not weird at all, assures you, citizen, that—

    “We will press ahead now as that is the charge with which we have been bestowed by all stakeholders, and we will do so with enthusiasm”

    As that IS the charge! Stop calling him weird. He is not weird. You are.

    Going from reading Robert Jay Lifton on the Cultural Revolution directly to this is quite the experience.

  98. says

    BBC – “Australia cyber attacks: PM Morrison warns of ‘sophisticated’ state hack”:

    Australia’s government and institutions are being targeted by ongoing sophisticated state-based cyber hacks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

    Mr Morrison said the cyber attacks were widespread, covering “all levels of government” as well as essential services and businesses.

    He declined to identify a specific state actor and said no major personal data breaches had been made.

    The attacks have happened over many months and are increasing, he said.

    The prime minister said his announcement on Friday was intended to raise public awareness and to urge businesses to improve their defences.

    But he stressed that “malicious” activity was also being seen globally, making it not unique to Australia.

    Who has been targeted?

    Mr Morrison did not name specific cases but said it had spanned “government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure”.

    Who is behind it?

    Speaking on Friday, Mr Morrison said officials had identified it as a state hack “because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the trade craft used”.

    “There are not a large number of state-based actors that can engage in this type of activity,” he said, without giving specifics.

    When asked to identify a country, Mr Morrison said he would not make “any public attribution”.

    Cyber intelligence experts have long linked various hacks in Australia to China.

    They say China is one of the few states, along with Russia, Iran, and North Korea, which have the capacity for such attacks – and are not allied with Australia. However, they also note that cyber espionage between countries and even allies is common.

    “There’s always simmering tensions between Russia and China so really it comes down to those being the key actors they [Australia] would be referring to,” expert Joshua Kennedy-White told the BBC.

    The Reuters news agency has previously reported that Australian intelligence agencies suspected China of carrying out the parliament hack in 2019. Canberra declined to comment.

  99. says

    Reuters – “Brazil minister quits as Supreme Court sends message to Bolsonaro”:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s firebrand education minister resigned on Thursday, following blunders that aggravated tense relations between the right-wing president and the country’s Supreme Court.

    Education Minister Abraham Weintraub has been one of the loudest ideological voices in the government. His aggressive style made trouble for the president, including racist remarks about China, Brazil’s top trading partner, and a comment that Supreme Court judges should be locked up.

    “If it were up to me, I’d stick all those bums in jail,” the minister said in a videotaped cabinet meeting.

    The court included Weintraub in its investigation of an alleged libel and disinformation network run by Bolsonaro’s supporters after that recording became public in May.

    Speaking on Thursday after justices voted 10-1 in favor of moving ahead with the “fake news” probe, Chief Justice Dias Toffoli warned that the gradual destabilization of institutions can lead to authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

    “We cannot trivialize attacks and threats to the Supreme Court, guardian of the constitution,” he said.

    Bolsonaro has ramped up tensions with the Brazil’s top court in recent months, participating in demonstrations calling for it to be disbanded after it authorized an investigation of his alleged interference in law enforcement.

    In a bid to calm tensions with the court, Bolsonaro publicly rebuked Weintraub when he participated on Sunday in the latest protest, feeding speculation about the minister’s departure.

    In a video on social media, Weintraub said he would not discuss why he was leaving the government to take a role at the World Bank. He read from a statement to the stone-faced president and then gave him a hug….

  100. says

    CNN – “Twitter labels video Trump tweeted as ‘manipulated media'”:

    Twitter on Thursday night labeled a video tweeted by President Donald Trump as “manipulated media.” The move marks the third time Twitter has taken action against Trump in a month.

    Trump tweeted a video with a fake CNN graphic; the video claims, “America is not the problem. Fake news is.”

    A Twitter spokesperson said Thursday night, “This Tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context.”

    The video, which runs for 60 seconds, starts with footage of one part of a viral video that shows a black child run from a white child. The fake CNN graphic reads, “Terrified todler [sic] runs from racist baby.”

    The rest of the video — in which the two children run to embrace one another — is then shown.

    CNN covered the full version of the viral video in 2019.

    A spokesperson for CNN responded to Trump’s tweet Thursday night, “CNN did cover this story – but exactly as it happened. Just as CNN has reported your positions on race (and your poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts and invite you to do the same, rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. Be better.”

    After Trump tweeted the video it quickly went viral, racking up millions of views in less than two hours.

    Twitter twice flagged Trump tweets over the past month, enraging the President and his supporters and even prompting the President to sign an executive order targeting social media companies….

  101. says

    Guardian – “Finns aghast that Trump could think their country is part of Russia”:

    Finnish social media users reacted with derision to the claim in John Bolton’s book about the Trump administration that the US president didn’t know if Finland was part of Russia.

    The former US national security adviser’s unflattering account was highly critical of Trump during his 17 months in the White House. According to excerpts, Trump asked his former chief of staff John Kelly whether Finland was part of its vast eastern neighbour, ahead of his 2018 visit to Helsinki for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

    Finland, home to 5.5 million people, became independent from neighbouring Russia in 1917, and fought off two attempted Russian invasions during the second world war.

    “Trump asked if Finland belongs to Russia. Of course this irritates us Finns,” Hussein al-Taee, a Social Democrat MP, tweeted on Thursday.

    But, he added, “attracting attention for his bad geography isn’t Trump’s biggest worry.”

    Meanwhile, Tuuli Kamppila, a Finnish political activist, tweeted of the president’s alleged question: “That’s nothing, Putin still thinks Ukraine is part of Russia.”

    Referring to the investigation into whether Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, political science professor Teivo Teivanen wondered: “Trump may have thought he was colluding with Finland as well?”. He added: “For once Finland’s at the heart of global politics, even if it’s just a fantasy.”

    Bolton’s claim is not the first time the US president’s knowledge of Finland has come under scrutiny.

    In 2018 following the California forest fires, Trump said that Finland, with its vast forests, avoids fires because “they spend a lot of time on raking”.

    The comments sparked bafflement among Finnish forestry experts, while social media users were quick to brand the claim “rake news” and began posting pictures of themselves brandishing the garden implement.

  102. says

    Update to #94 above – Reuters – “Protesters snake through Minsk as Belarus president’s rival held in pre-election clampdown”:

    Protesters formed a line up to 4 km (2.4 miles) long in Minsk, the Belarus capital, on Thursday evening after President Alexander Lukashenko’s main rival was detained in a widening crackdown ahead of August’s presidential election.

    Viktor Babariko, who is widely seen as Lukashenko’s main challenger in the election, was detained after being accused of crimes including taking $430 million out of the country in money-laundering schemes.

    Babariko was detained along with his 30-year-old son, Eduard, who was running his father’s election campaign. Babariko’s election team said authorities were also searching his home.

    In Minsk, protesters took to the streets and passing cars honked their horns in solidarity for hours.

    “We came to support a candidate for whom we were going to vote, who was illegally detained in order not to be allowed to run for election. The whole country wants change,” said 50-year-old Gennady in the protest line.

    Public frustration with Lukashenko’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and grievances about the economy and human rights have reinvigorated opposition.

    Babariko’s campaign team said it would still field him in the presidential vote on Aug. 9.

    “We consider the events of recent days and, in particular, today’s detention and the barring of lawyers from access to Viktor and Eduard Babariko as a direct violation of human rights,” the campaign team said in a statement. “What we hear about the criminal case and the detention from state television channels, we consider it an absurdity.”…

  103. says

    CNBC – “Top Pentagon official Wheelbarger resigns, urges colleagues to be guided by U.S. Constitution”:

    Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the Pentagon’s most prominent and respected policy officials, is resigning after three years in the job after President Donald Trump dropped plans to nominate her for an intelligence post, sources tell Reuters.

    The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Wheelbarger, who is highly regarded by national security experts in Trump’s Republican Party and among Democrats, had been named by the White House on Feb. 13 to a senior intelligence position at the Department of Defense.

    But in a surprise move last week, the White House instead announced plans to nominate Bradley Hansell, a former special assistant to Trump, to the position of deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence.

    In her resignation letter, which was seen by Reuters, Wheelbarger said she trusted her colleagues would “continue to be guided by the U.S. Constitution and the principles of our founding, which ensure both our security and our freedom.”

    Both current and former U.S. officials accused the White House of passing over Wheelbarger because of her past work with the late Republican Senator John McCain, a fierce Trump critic and the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Her departure will come as Trump attempts to overcome stiff Senate opposition among Democrats to his nomination of retired Army General Anthony Tata, a strong defender of Trump on Fox News, to the Pentagon’s most senior policy position.

    Tata has misportrayed former President Barack Obama as a Muslim and accused him of being a “terrorist leader” working to benefit Iran, according to now-deleted Tweets seen by Reuters.

    Democrats, including Senator Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the chamber’s Armed Services Committee, have signaled they would oppose Tata’s nomination.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is also on the committee, called Tata “by far Trump’s most unqualified & ill-suited senior defense nominee — a high bar.”

    “An Islamophobic conspiracy theorist who called President Obama a ‘terrorist leader’ should not be #3 at the Pentagon,” Warren said in a statement.

    Tata is batshit.

  104. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The coronavirus was present in two large Italian cities in December, more than two months before the first case was detected, a national health institute study of waste water has found.

    That suggests the virus appeared in Italy around the same time it was first reported in China.

    Researchers discovered genetic traces of Sars-CoV-2 – as the virus is officially known – in samples of waste water collected in Milan and Turin at the end of last year, and Bologna in January, the ISS institute said in a statement seen by AFP on Friday.

    Italy’s first known native case was discovered mid-February.

    The results “help to understand the start of the circulation of the virus in Italy,” the ISS said.

    They also “confirm the by-now consolidated international evidence” as to the strategic function of sewer samples as an early detection tool, it added.

    The results feed into an effort by scientists around the world to trace the virus’s family tree.

  105. says

    Politico – “‘My biggest risk’: Trump says mail-in voting could cost him reelection”:

    President Donald Trump called mail-in voting the biggest threat to his reelection and said his campaign’s multimillion-dollar legal effort to block expanded ballot access could determine whether he wins a second term.

    In an Oval Office interview Thursday focusing on the 2020 election, the president also warned his party in blunt terms not to abandon him and cast Hillary Clinton as a more formidable opponent than Joe Biden, despite Biden’s commanding lead in polls.

    The president’s assertion that mail-in voting will endanger his reelection comes as states across the country are rushing to accommodate remote voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of voters could be disenfranchised if they decide to stay home on Election Day rather than risk contracting the virus at crowded polling stations.

    But Trump and his campaign argue, despite a lack of evidence, that widespread mail-in voting will benefit Democrats and invite fraud. The Republican Party is spending tens of millions of dollars on a multifront legal battle.

    “My biggest risk is that we don’t win lawsuits,” Trump said. “We have many lawsuits going all over. And if we don’t win those lawsuits, I think — I think it puts the election at risk.”

    Trump was asked a two-part question during the interview: Would a substantial amount of mail-in voting — which is widely expected because of coronavirus — cause him to question the legitimacy of the election? And would he accept the results no matter what?

    “Well, you can never answer the second question, right? Because Hillary kept talking about she’s going to accept, and they never accepted it. You know. She lost too. She lost good.” Clinton conceded the day after the 2016 election.

    Trump struck a firmer note last week in an interview with Fox News, when he said he would leave office peacefully if he lost.

    The president’s rare admission of concern about his political future comes at the most precarious moment of his presidency. Polls have shown the president trailing in an array of key states — some of which haven’t been lost by a Republican in decades — amid criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his response to the protests against police brutality.

    Now, with Republicans fighting to keep their Senate majority, lawmakers running in competitive races are having to decide whether to align themselves with the president or risk his wrath by creating daylight. Trump made clear those who choose the latter will pay a heavy price.

    Joined by top aides, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump put Senate Republicans on notice: Running away from him would only trigger a revolt by his loyalists.

    “If they don’t embrace, they’re going to lose, because, you know, I have a very hard base. I have the strongest base people have ever seen,” said Trump, who met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week to discuss the party’s prospects in key Senate races.

    Even as coronavirus cases are rising in many places, the president insisted the virus is on the decline. He said it is “heading south” — “meaning leaving.”… [It is heading south – not meaning leaving. – SC]

  106. says

    G liveblog:

    The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

    Thursday’s 150,000 new cases were the highest in a single day and nearly half of them were in the Americas.

    “The world is in a new and dangerous phase,” Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva. “The virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible.”

    More than 8.53 million people have been reported infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 453,834 have died.

    Tedros urged people to maintain social distancing and “extreme vigilance.”

    As well as the Americas, a large number of new cases were coming from South Asia and the Middle East, Tedros added.

  107. says

    Update to #27 above – France24 – “‘Out with Bolsonaro’: Anger and joy as football returns to Brazil”:

    Professional football resumed in Brazil on Thursday, June 18, after a three-month hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic with Flamengo beating Bangu 3-0 in an empty Maracana stadium. However, the country continues to record hundreds of deaths from the virus a day and not all fans were happy to see the return of the national sport.

    Outside the Maracana, which until recently was the site of an emergency field hospital for Covid-19 victims, a number of fans gathered ahead of the match to protest against football’s return and the policies of right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro who they accuse of prioritising the economy over lives.

    “Today, our movement criticises the reopening of the championship as one that is a fascist irresponsibility of the government, which is not committed to the people, to helping people, which is only concerned about the economy. Exchanging lives for the economy,” Flamengo fan Paulo Cesar Alevato told Reuters.

    “The people are against the reopening of the Rio championship and are in favour of getting rid of Bolsonaro.”

    Bolsonaro has been criticised for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen Brazil record a death toll of more than 47,000 including another 1,238 deaths reported on Thursday. The return of football with the virus still raging has sparked controversy among both players and the public….

  108. says

    ‘Why do you keep hiring people you believe are wackos and liars?’

    Asked why he keeps hiring people he considers “wackos and liars,” Trump didn’t answer. That’s a shame – it’s a question in need of a response.

    As part of the White House’s pushback against John Bolton’s new book, Donald Trump yesterday described his former national security advisor as a “liar” and a “wacko.” The result was an interesting moment at a White House event yesterday.

    […] Trump stared in silence on Thursday afternoon when CBS News reporter Paula Reid asked him why he keeps hiring “wackos” and “liars,” referencing the president’s own label for his former national security adviser John Bolton… “Mr. President, why do you keep hiring people that you believe are wackos and liars?” Reid shouted at the end of a White House roundtable, to no response from Trump. […]

    There can be little doubt that Trump is not a buck-stops-here kind of leader, and when his administration suffers failures, the president is quick to blame his team for falling short. A Washington Post analysis noted yesterday, for example, that Trump has lashed out — at times quite aggressively — at everyone from Jeff Sessions to Dan Coats, Steve Bannon to Anthony Scaramucci, Rex Tillerson to James Mattis.

    “Someone, somewhere, should identify the individual or individuals responsible for hiring all of them and hold them to account,” the analysis concluded. “I’m sure no one would want to see that happen more than Trump himself.”

    Former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney added on CNN this morning, “If there was one criticism that I would level against the president, [it] is that he didn’t hire very well. He did not have experience at running government and didn’t know how to put together a team that could work well with him.”

    Perhaps not, but as an explanation for White House personnel failures, that’s not exactly satisfying. For one thing, if Trump wasn’t prepared to run the executive branch, he shouldn’t have sought the office. For another, the president’s problems persisted in this area well into his term.

    But even putting these relevant details aside, isn’t it easier to explain the White House’s breakdowns by pointing more to Trump’s ineptitude and less to the many “wackos and liars” he hired to work by his side?

  109. says

    Everyone is probably already aware of this, but I’ll post the news anyway:

    Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota and a former presidential candidate, withdrew from vice presidential consideration. She said she would like to see Joe Biden put a woman of color on the Democratic ticket.

  110. says

    Polling update: The latest national Fox News poll found Biden leading Trump, 50% to 38%. In May, Fox found Biden ahead, 48% to 40%.

  111. says

    Trump Threatens Protesters Who Plan To Show Up At His Tulsa Rally

    Inciting violence … again.

    […] Trump issued a vague threat on Friday to those who plan to protest at his campaign rally Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    “Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a much different scene!”

    Trump’s threat is a stunning escalation of his hostility toward demonstrators who have been protesting against him and police brutality for the past several weeks. […]

    The upcoming rally has raised safety concerns with regards to not only COVID-19, but also potentially violent clashes between anti-Trump protesters, pro-Trump counter-protesters and the police.

    Two-hundred-fifty Oklahoma Army National Guard soldiers with pepper spray and batons will be deployed at the rally.

    Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has set a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the area surrounding the rally arena until Sunday.

  112. says

    An Indiana Councilman apologizes after saying that “Uneducated protesters unfortunately breed’.”

    […] He made the offensive comment at a Thursday meeting, which was filmed, while expressing his frustration with emails from constituents threatening to vote council members out of office.

    Allen County is in the northeast part of the state, very close to both the Ohio and Michigan borders. It includes the city of Fort Wayne, the second largest in the state. It has recently been the site of frequent protests, as nationwide anger over the police killing of George Floyd boils over. […]

    The Allen County Council is made up of six Republicans and one Democrat. The Democrat, also president of the local NAACP chapter, Shiela Curry-Campbell, agreed that she liked when the council acted together, but that it’s imperative that they “go out there and support these young people.”

    Brown said that he “absolutely will not participate” in the protests. Curry-Campbell cut across him, saying that she will and has. He said that there’s a “fine line” between a peaceful and violent protest, and that stopping traffic is illegal.

    Councilman Ken Fries, also the former county sheriff, interjected with a comparison of the protesters to his children, saying that when his children break something or do something wrong, they get “a spanking.”

    “The African American community has been getting a spanking for a long time,” Curry-Campbell retorted, saying that though the protesters may not be using their anger “in the best way,” “these kids are out there for a reason. They are angry.”

    “At what?” Fries asked incredulously.

    “They are angry about the criminal justice system and the disparity,” Curry-Campbell said.

    Brown tried to pull the increasingly heated conversation back to his point.

    “We’re all being threatened with votes,” he said. “As uneducated as they are, obviously, on local government, they do vote. And, unfortunately, they also breed. But um, they do vote, and they’re gonna be an uneducated voter.”

    Council President Joel Benz jumped in, saying that the meeting was “not the format to address that” and the meeting was quickly adjourned. […]

  113. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 156.

    A purge is underway at the Pentagon as ‘loyalty concerns’ place Trump above the Constitution

    During the protests over the police murder of George Floyd, the sore point between Donald Trump and the Pentagon got considerably sorer. While Trump was cringing in the White House bunker, he ordered tens of thousands of active military into the streets of Washington D.C. to take down peaceful protesters. Then attempts to keep Trump from pitting elite military forces—with bayonets—from coming nose to nose with unarmed civilians, actually ended up with calls for the National Guard to get “more aggressive.” And when Trump finally surfaced, he got General Mark Milley to join him in strolling past tear-gassed civilians for a Bible-waving photo-op.

    Afterward, Milley apologized […] Trump wants it absolutely clear that the military is his military. […] Just as he’s done with every other department of the government, Trump has ordered up the broom to sweep the Pentagon clear of “disloyal” officers.

    […] after launching his White House with an armload of generals, Trump has fired them all, along with several of their replacements. It’s become clear to him that career military officers just won’t do to run the military. So, as Politico reports, a “loyalty purge” is underway at the Pentagon to stamp out any last trace of respect for the constitution, honoring the rule of law, and keeping the military even nominally apolitical.

    Unsurprisingly, the first heads to hit the floor are two high-ranking women. Both the top official overseeing international security, Kathryn Wheelbarger, and acting comptroller Elaine McCusker are out. Both had been put into those positions by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and he tried to keep both in place. However, Esper himself is a prime candidate for visiting the rusty, well-worn bottom of the Trump bus any day now. […] Occupied chairs are especially scarce in oversight roles—the inspector general seat has been open for over a month.

    That doesn’t mean slots aren’t being filled. Republicans recently confirmed 11 positions simultaneously. In lower level slots, the Trump White House has filled dozens of roles, with dozens more coming. […]. In many military situations, a failure to be promoted is a signal of a career that is either over, or doomed to hopeless spiral downward. [Like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman] Trump doesn’t have to fire every officer personally. He just has to let his staff filter, filter, filter.

    Just as with Mitch McConnell’s blanket replacement of the federal judiciary, Trump’s team is reweaving the fabric of the Pentagon at every level. Those whose loyalty is to tradition, the services, and law, are being driving out in favor of those who support Trump. And only Trump.

    […] The next time Trump orders an attack on American civilians, he wants an attack. Dammit.

  114. says

    Trump Has a Half Billion in Loans Coming Due.

    Win or lose in November, one thing won’t change for Donald Trump: Over the next few years, his company must settle a series of whopping debts. Before the end of a theoretical second term, his company will have to refinance—or, in a far less likely scenario, pay off—nearly a half-billion dollars in loans linked to some of his most prized assets, including Trump Tower. These debts are maturing at a perilous moment for Trump, whose hotels and resorts have been plagued by declining revenues. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic pummeled the hospitality industry in general […]

    On financial disclosure forms, Trump has reported holding 14 loans on 12 proper­ties. At least six of those loans, representing about $479 million in debt, are due over the next four years. Some are guaranteed by Trump himself, meaning a creditor could come after his personal—not corporate—­assets if he defaults. If he holds onto the White House, the refinancing of these debts could take his conflicts of interest to absurd new heights. How will the public know if these deals are on the up and up or whether Trump is receiving sweetheart terms from a bank that wants an in with the president? And what might a lender desire in return for helping Trump out of a financial jam?

    Trump’s biggest creditor is Deutsche Bank […] eventually Deutsche’s commercial lending division learned the hard way one reason why other banks considered [Trump] persona non grata […] In 2008, after he defaulted on a loan for his Chicago hotel and condo development, he filed a multibillion-­dollar suit accusing Deutsche Bank and others of contributing to the recent financial meltdown, which he blamed for his inability to repay the loan.

    Nevertheless, Deutsche’s private banking division, which caters to wealthy clientele, continued to lend to Trump, giving him $125 million, spread over two loans, to finance the purchase and renovation of his Doral golf resort in 2012. Both are floating rate loans, meaning the interest rate fluctuates based on market conditions, which lending experts say usually indicates they are interest-only loans. If so, Trump probably hasn’t paid down much if any of the principal and will owe something close to the whole $125 million when the loans come due in 2023.

    In 2014, Trump took out a separate floating loan from Deutsche’s private bank to bankroll the development of his luxury hotel in Washington, DC. The balance of this $170 million debt is payable in 2024. That year, Trump will also owe Deutsche between $25 million and $50 million in connection with his Chicago hotel and complex.

    Trump has received additional loans from a company named Ladder Capital […] Companies like Ladder are often lenders of last resort for people and companies that, for one reason or another, have difficulty obtaining money from traditional banks (ahem, Trump). Such firms are willing to take risky bets because they securitize the debt and pass the responsibility for it on to investors. Trump has two Ladder loans due over the next several years: a $100 million interest-only mortgage on Trump Tower and a roughly $13 million loan against Trump Plaza. […].

    Trump has long had a mortgage on Trump Tower, never paying it off and periodically increasing the loan’s size when he refinances.

    […] with Trump a lightning rod for controversy, the economy faltering, and his company not faring well—it may not be easy for Trump to convince either Deutsche or Ladder to refinance. […]

    Nancy Wallace, a real estate finance professor at University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, says the scrutiny that Deutsche Bank has faced may scare off other banks. “Any bank I can think of in the United States would have exactly the same response: [Trump] is toxic. […]”

    Kevin Riordan, a longtime real estate finance executive and director of Rutgers University’s Center for Real Estate, says that Ladder prospered in its previous dealings with Trump—but he notes that the economics have changed. Ladder and its competitors in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (cmbs) industry can only lend if there’s a market for real estate bonds, which could dry up during a financial crisis. “This is a whole different ballgame today,” he says. […]

    Offit says that hedge funds might do business with Trump. “They would lend to Ted Bundy. They don’t care.”

    In any scenario, Trump’s soon-to-be-due loans are an unprecedented ethical minefield, rife with potential conflicts of interest and the possibility of corruption. “It’s highly disconcerting,” says Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former ethics lawyer at the Treasury Department and Securities and Exchange Commission. “I’m sure in some ways the best thing that could happen is that he not win reelection.”

  115. says

    Barr sides with Idaho on preventing transgender women from playing women’s sports

    Attorney General Bill Barr filed a statement of interest Friday defending Idaho’s law that bans transgender female athletes from competing in women’s sports.

    In the statement, Barr referred to transgender women as “biological males” and says that allowing them to compete in women’s sport leagues is “fundamentally unfair to female athletes.”

    In March, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) approved legislation to prohibit sex changes on birth certificates and ban transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports leagues. Civil rights groups promptly filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law.

    Barr wrote that under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, Idaho is allowed “to recognize the physiological differences between the biological sexes in athletics.”

    “Because of these differences, the Fairness Act’s limiting of certain athletic teams to biological females provides equal protection,” he wrote. “[…] the goal of ensuring that biological females have equal athletic opportunities.”

    “Single-sex athletics is rooted in the reality of biological differences between the sexes and should stay rooted in objective biological fact.”

    The ban applies to all teams associated with or sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities and cites “different athletic capabilities” between men and women. It is set to be enacted on July 1.

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has argued that the state law is unconstitutional, citing violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against invasions of privacy.

    The ACLU also argues that the law opens the door for any women to be probed about their gender, potentially in the form of invasive genital and genetic screenings.

  116. says

    About Juneteenth:

    When American schoolchildren learn about slavery in the US, they are often told it ended with Abraham Lincoln’s signature on the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

    But as late as June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Texas were still held in bondage. On that date, federal troops entered the state and began to punish slave holders and former Confederates who refused to obey the law.

    “Juneteenth is a deeply emotional moment for enslaved people,” says historian Karlos K. Hill, of the University of Oklahoma.

    In Texas and across the country, emancipated African Americans began celebrating annually, with parades, concerts, and picnics. “Being able to go wherever they want and being able to wander about; for enslaved people, it was an expression of their freedom,” says Hill. “Formerly enslaved people celebrating, in public, their newfound freedom, was an act of resistance.”

    However, by 1877, the federal government had largely abandoned the South. The lynching era — when hundreds of African Americans were killed by white mobs each year across the North and the South — began soon after.

    Today, Hill says, commemorating Juneteenth is important for all Americans because it helps us see all the ways that slavery still shapes this country, including, as he says, “the desire to master and dominate black bodies.” […]

    Link

  117. says

    G liveblog:

    Brazil is expected to surpass 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, second only to the United States, with total deaths fast approaching 50,000 as the country struggles with a tense political climate and worsening economic outlook.

    The true extent of the outbreak in Brazil far exceeds official figures released after 6 pm local time on most evenings, according to many experts, who cite a lack of widespread testing in the country as a factor adding to many uncertainties about the disease, Reuters reports.

    Alexandre Naime Barbosa, a medical professor at the São Paulo State University said:

    That number of 1 million is much less than the real number of people who have been infected, because there is under-reporting of a magnitude of five to ten times. The true number is probably at least 3 million and could even be as high as 10 million people.

    Brazil’s health ministry reported 978,142 total confirmed cases and 47,748 related deaths on Thursday evening. The count has risen by a daily average of 25,000 new cases and 1,000 fatalities for the past week.

    But by Friday afternoon, a consortium of Brazilian news outlets keeping an independent tally of COVID-19 statistics from state health officials reported the country had already passed the benchmark of 1 million confirmed cases.

  118. says

    NBC – “Top members of coronavirus task force advised against Trump’s Tulsa rally”:

    Leading members of the coronavirus task force warned White House officials about the health risks of holding large-scale indoor campaign rallies and advised against the mass gatherings, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx both vocalized concerns internally in the last week about the safety of holding a rally with as many as 19,000 of people in an enclosed arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday.

    But President Donald Trump and his campaign advisers are proceeding with the event, which is expected to draw tens of thousands inside and outside the venue who will neither be socially distant nor required to wear face coverings. They claim attendees “assume a personal risk” and “that is part of life.”

    It has been nearly two months since the last coronavirus task force briefing and four weeks since Birx answered questions about the coronavirus pandemic from the White House briefing room.

    Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the group, and his top aides have at times flouted their own administration’s guidance, opting not to wear face masks during multiple trips in recent weeks.

    While Pence and the president have tried to paint a rosier picture of the virus and project a return to normalcy, some members of the task force are eager to resume appearances from White House grounds and speak directly to the American people, per two people involved in the task force meetings.

    There is no current plan to bring back the once-daily press conferences, according to a person close to Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, so he has found other outlets to offer his medical advice.

    Fauci has consistently done media interviews with a range of outlets, which has annoyed the president, this person said. He has also repeatedly contradicted and undercut both Trump and Pence’s more optimistic messaging with science and data that suggests a second wave is indeed coming. Trump and Fauci have not spoken or met face to face in several weeks.

    Earlier in the pandemic, the president praised Fauci and touted his expertise. But he has also publicly broken with him at times when he has felt challenged, tweeting Friday in response to safety comments Fauci made about resuming football.

    “Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!” Trump tweeted.

    Asked whether the briefings will ever return, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Friday it was unlikely and that instead she will be the one to present new information after consulting with Birx.

    The task force still meets weekly, behind closed doors, and is slated to gather on Friday.

    When asked if he would personally attend the Tulsa rally, Fauci said “of course not” given his age and cautioned anyone going to wear a face mask, though the Trump campaign says that will not be required.

    This comes despite the Trump administration’s own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention new guidance which classifies huge crowd setting as “highest risk,” especially when it’s not possible for people to be six feet apart.

    The BOK Center has requested a more detailed safety plan from the Trump campaign, which as of 24 hours before the event, had not yet submitted one. Campaign officials have warned individuals with pre-existing conditions or other factors that would put them more at risk for contracting and battling the virus not to attend Saturday’s rally, where supporters had to sign a digital waiver releasing the campaign and president of any liability if they get sick.

    The president’s political aides are worried about the narrative that may emerge if there’s a significant spike in cases in Oklahoma following the rally, according to people close to the White House. That will also likely complicate the planning of future gatherings. [This is what they’re worried about! – SC]

    Next week, the president is headlining another large-scale event with thousands of students in a Phoenix megachurch. The state has seen a steady uptick in cases this week, with back-to-back records for single-day increases Thursday and Friday, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

  119. says

    Sarcasm and facts from Wonkette: “If FEMA Wanted COVID-19 Tests To Be ‘Sterile’ or ‘Usable’ It Should Have Said So!”

    As part of the Trump administration’s Very Be Best response to the coronavirus pandemic, a whole bunch of government agencies are shoveling money at contractors that have never provided medical supplies before.

    […] as a jaw-dropping ProPublica story explains, the government is in some cases getting far less than it paid millions of dollars for. Like for instance COVID-19 “test tubes” that turned out not to be test tubes at all, but plastic tubes used in making soda bottles — not only are they the wrong size to be used in labs, they’re also not sterile. FEMA has so far paid $7.3 million for three million of the tubes, which have been sent on to all 50 states, even though they’re unusable. […]

    ProPublica found that, in the rush to get caught up on the nation’s medical supply shortage, the government handed out a whole bunch of multimillion-dollar no-bid contracts to companies that have never had federal contracts before, including
    – A firm set up by a former telemarketer who once settled federal fraud charges for $2.7 million. A vodka distributor accused in a pending lawsuit of overstating its projected sales. An aspiring weapons dealer operating out of a single-family home.
    – Fillakit LLC was in that story too; it’s the one founded by the former telemarketer, one Paul Wexler, who settled a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit in 2013 after his company was accused of “illegal robocalling, making unauthorized charges to consumers’ bank accounts and falsely claiming to be a nonprofit organization” that did “credit counseling.” […] in May, six days after Fillakit was incorporated, the new venture was awarded that $10.5 million FEMA contract for test kit swabs and containers to hold the samples obtained from swabs.

    Usually, those containers would be sealable vials made of glass or sterile plastic that also contain a sterile “viral transport medium” […]

    The tubes Wexler’s company delivered aren’t medical supplies at all. They’re plastic tubes called “preforms” that are designed to be expanded by heat and a burst of compressed air into 2-liter soda bottles. And whoo boy, how’s this for the very best in Clean Room manufacturing technology? The preforms arrive at Fillakit in big shipping containers, and then workers, who may or may not be wearing masks, use snow shovels to sort ’em into plastic bins. After that, since “viral transport medium” is in short supply, the workers squirt some saline solution into the bottles before capping them. […]

    Three former Fillakit employees said that its process was unsterile. Workers shoveled up the tubes from unsanitary surfaces. The liquid that they added to each tube to preserve samples for lab analysis was kept in trays exposed to the air, which was whipped around by large fans.

    […]This is one of those stories where virtually every new paragraph left us saying “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” One former employee said that in the first week of manufacturing, none of the workers wore masks. After that, “supervisors did hand out masks but did not require employees to wear them.”

    On June 10, a ProPublica reporter observed workers, some not wearing masks, standing over snow shovels and bins of tiny soda bottles.

    Wexler and workers loaded a shipment of tubes into an Enterprise rental truck, which lacked the refrigeration that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say is needed to safely transport legitimate testing supplies.

    Wexler denied a request to tour the warehouse. Asked about the lack of sterile conditions and the use of soda preforms, Wexler screamed, “What’s your problem, man?”

    […] since the tubes Fillakit delivered to FEMA mostly end up in storage, because they’re utterly unsuited to lab use. Talk about a safety protocol! One state official said the Fillakit tubes set back their state’s testing program: “They’re the most unusable tubes I’ve ever seen,” […]

    Because there’s just SO MUCH in this piece, we’ll leave aside the other quotes from distressed state health agency workers who can’t believe FEMA would send them such crap. You deserve your own “Oh for fucksake” moments, but in response to state officials’ complaints, FEMA “has asked health officials in several states to find an alternative use for the unfinished soda bottles.” Nobody has found any such alternative uses. […]

    Why did FEMA pay for stuff that doesn’t meet basic standards? […] The agency did not answer questions about the size and lack of sterilization of Fillakit’s tubes or about why it sought an alternative use for them.

    […] A contract law expert at the University of Baltimore, Richard Loeb, told ProPublica that FEMA does have the ability to “claw back” payments for crappy supplies, and said it was “outrageous” that the purchases went through at all. “I still am a little bit troubled as to why FEMA accepted them. … They may have stupidly accepted something that was nonconforming.”

    That seems a bit harsh of him, however, since stupid, ineffective, and grifty are top Republican governing priorities.

    Link

  120. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Governor Ron DeSantis falsely blamed the rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida on ‘overwhelmingly Hispanic’ workers.

    The slow-rolling disaster that is Florida continues apace, with Orange County, home to the Orlando area, reporting a massive 15.1% positive rate on coronavirus tests on Thursday, and the state leading the nation in raw new cases totals as of Friday. Being a true Trump Republican, state Gov. Ron DeSantis is abdicating all responsibility and blaming brown people for those numbers. He says it is the “overwhelmingly Hispanic” day laborers and agricultural workers who are causing the spike.

    “Some of these guys go to work in a school bus, and they are all just packed there like sardines, going across Palm Beach County or some of these other places, and there’s all these opportunities to have transmission,” DeSantis said this week. His agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, disagreed, pointing out that most new cases accounting for the spike are in non-agricultural parts of the state. What’s more, most of the farmworkers have already left the state, moving north to follow the harvest. But what’s particularly galling about DeSantis’ finger-pointing is that the failure to keep this community safe lands solidly on him.

    Back in April, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida group fighting for farmworker rights, raised the alarm. “[I]if something isn’t done—now—to address their unique vulnerability, the men and women who plant, cultivate and harvest our food will face a decimating wave of contagion and misery in a matter of weeks, if not days,” co-founder Greg Asbed wrote in a New York Times op-ed. The state didn’t even start testing farmworker communities until May. […]

    How big of a failure was DeSantis? The international medical humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which works largely in underdeveloped and war-torn areas, saw the need and moved in. […] “We wanted to ensure that these workers received COVID-19 health education and testing before they started to migrate north at the end of the southern Florida farming season,” said Nadimpalli. “If we don’t reach them now, it may be much more difficult to ensure their safety.”

    MSF handed off its mobile clinics to the state at the end of May, with the harvest winding down in the state and many of the farmworkers having moved on. The state is well aware that any spike in numbers can’t be blamed on these workers, and state officials aren’t shy about speaking up. Franco Ripple, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, issued a statement reiterating that the rise in new cases in the past 10 or so days has not been in agricultural areas, and saying that “naming rural and farm communities as a main driver is not accurate. […]

    The governor is cherry-picking data in an attempt to blame farmworkers and agriculture for the spread of COVID-19, by highlighting a small sample size from one farm.” […]

    Link

  121. says

    White House confirms plans for July 4 celebration in D.C.

    Trump is planning a high-profile Independence Day event for the second straight year — despite opposition from local politicians.

    […] On Friday, the White House said in a statement that Trump will be hosting a “2020 Salute to America” at the White House on July 4, replete with “music, military demonstrations, and flyovers.” Trump is also set to give a speech before a fireworks display over the National Mall. […]

  122. says

    Yeah, he’s not going to give up.

    Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, said Friday that […] Trump ordered the agency to “restart the DACA process” after the Supreme Court’s decision against Trump’s order to end the program.

    […] “The administration retains the authority to rescind the program, they just have to be much more deliberate and meet certain steps in order to do so,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council.

    […] Cuccinelli said in an interview on Fox Business on Friday that the administration is prepared to draft a new order, with the intention of forcing Congress to act on immigration.

    “This morning [Trump] gave us the instruction at the Department of Homeland Security to redo the guidelines to wind down DACA and that is intended, and will have the practical effect, of forcing this into Congress’s hands, where it always belonged in the first place,” said Cuccinelli. […]

    Loweree said the administration’s reaction to the Supreme Court ruling amounts to a political distraction amid the coronavirus pandemic and debate over racism in the country.

    “Both Cuccinelli and the president have been playing games with the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth who want nothing more than a fair shot at the American dream,” said Loweree.

  123. says

    Watch Donald Trump Jr. Interview Daddy And Drink Every Time Junior Craves Daddy’s Love: A Drinking Game!

    Wonkette link

    Donald Trump Jr.: “Will you let us know if there’s aliens? … Will you ever open up Roswell?”

    JUNIOR: Which is your favorite Trump child, and why is it Ivanka?

    JUNIOR: When I look at your accomplishments, they’re incredible!

    All of the quotes above are real. That really happened.

    Video snippets available at the link.

  124. says

    Hmmm. What’s this all about?

    The Air Force inspector general is investigating whether the military improperly used a little-known reconnaissance plane to monitor protests in Washington and Minneapolis this month, the Air Force said on Thursday.

    Quoted text is from The New York Times.

  125. says

    Update to #151 above – CNN – “Parent of toddler in ‘manipulated’ Trump video forces Facebook to remove it”:

    …Michael Cisneros, the father of one of the boys in the video, said last year he had posted the original video to social media because he thought it was a beautiful, candid moment to share in the midst of racism and hate in the world.

    “The reason that it’s getting attention [is] because it is with a little black boy and a little white boy…But if it can change someone’s mind, you know, or just change their view on things, then it’s totally worth it,” Cisneros said last year.

    Responding to Trump’s use of the video, Cisneros wrote in a Facebook post Thursday night, “HE WILL NOT TURN THIS LOVING, BEAUTIFUL VIDEO TO FURTHER HIS HATE AGENDA!! !! !! !!”

    CNN Business has reached out to Cisneros for comment.

    The clip Trump promoted suggested that CNN would have spun the viral video to make it appear negative.

    In fact, CNN covered the full version of the viral video in 2019. The toddlers and their fathers also appeared on the “The Van Jones Show” on CNN.

    Twitter labeled the video Trump tweeted as “manipulated media” shortly after he tweeted it Thursday night.

    “This Tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

    Facebook also has a manipulated media policy. The company declined to comment on whether the video violated that policy. Facebook took no action until a copyright claim was filed….

    Twitter has also now disabled the video “in response to a report by the copyright owner.” Brad Parscale has been “threatening” Twitter with the suggestion that Trump and his deplorable cult will leave the platform, a move which would be welcomed by millions, but which unfortunately is probably an empty promise.

  126. says

    Jason Leopold:

    BREAKING: After a year of legal battles, @BuzzFeedNews news and I and @EPICprivacy have scored a MAJOR #FOIA victory: the Justice Department has unredacted portions of the Mueller report pertaining to Roger Stone and Wikileaks and more.

    Story to come:…

    MASSIVE thanks to @mvtopic & his team at @LoevyAndLoevy for waging this battle on our behalf.

    AND we are not done! We are still fighting to have additional material unredacted.

    This is a HUGE historical victory for the public and transparency

    MOREOVER, you can see how ridiculous some of the government’s redactions are and this is why we have challenged the legality of the redactions

  127. says

    Vanity Fair link

    “HE’S THE CHOSEN ONE TO RUN AMERICA”: INSIDE THE CULT OF TRUMP, HIS RALLIES ARE CHURCH AND HE IS THE GOSPEL

    Trump’s rallies—a bizarre mishmash of numerology, tweetology, and white supremacy—are the rituals by which he stamps his name on the American dream. As he prepares to resume them for the first time in months, his followers are ready to receive.

    Yusif Jones, standing in front of a long row of porta-potties, slides his plastic Trump mask over his face. “I’m him!” he exclaims. He puffs up his chest in his homemade Trump shirt. It’s a short-sleeved American flag pullover, onto which he has ironed black felt letters across vertical red and white stripes: GOT TRUMP? Then he flashes the O.K. sign, a silver ring on his pinky. “I’m him, dude!”

    For Trump supporters like Jones, the O.K. sign—thumb meeting index finger, three fingers splayed—is a kind of secret handshake. It began as a joke—a “hoax” meant to trick liberals into believing that the raised fingers actually represent the letters WP: white power. The joke worked so well that it became real. Now, in certain circles, O.K. does mean white power—unless you say it doesn’t. Jones, a big, vein-popping, occasionally church-going white man burdened with what he calls an “Islamic” name by his hippie mother, revels in this kind of coded message, a sense of possessing knowledge shared only by a select few. It’s Möbius strip politics, Trumpism’s defining oxymoron: a populist elite, a mass movement of “free thinkers” all thinking the same thing. They love Trump because he makes them feel like insiders even as they imagine him their outsider champion. That’s what’s drawn Jones here, to the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana, two weeks before Thanksgiving. Like many of the president’s 14,000 followers waiting for the rally to begin, Jones believes that Trump is on a mission from God to expose (and destroy) the hidden demons of the deep state.

    To attend a Trump rally is to engage directly in the ecstasy of knowing what the great man knows, divinity disguised as earthly provocation. Jones tells me about Jesse Lee Peterson, a right-wing pastor and talk show host who calls Trump “the Great White Hope.” He doubles over and slaps his knee, signaling to me that it’s another joke. “He’s black!” says Jones, meaning Jesse Lee Peterson. “I love that dude,” he says. He considers Peterson, like the White Hope himself, awesomely witty. Jones straightens up. “But it’s true!” he adds. Which is how racism works at a Trump rally, just like the president’s own trolling—signal, disavowal, repeat; the ugly words followed by the claim that it was just a joke followed by a repetition of the ugly words. Joking! Not joking. Play it again, until the ironic becomes the real.

    Later, I listen to Peterson’s show. He calls Trump the Great White Hope because, he says, “Number one, he is white. Number two, he is of God.” Peterson does not mean this metaphorically. Trump is the chosen one, his words gospel.

    Peterson is hardly fringe in this belief. Many followers deploy a familiar Christian-right formula for justifying abuses of power, declaring Trump a modern King David, a sinner nonetheless anointed, while others compare him to Queen Esther, destined to save Israel—or at least the evangelical imagination of it—from Iran. Still others draw parallels to Cyrus, the Old Testament Persian king who became a tool for God’s will. “A vessel for God,” says former congressman Zach Wamp, now a member of The Family, the evangelical organization that hosts Trump every year at the National Prayer Breakfast. Lance Wallnau, a founding member of Trump’s evangelical coalition, dubs him “God’s chaos candidate”: “the self-made man who can ‘get it done,’ enters the arena, and through the pressure of circumstance becomes the God-shaped man God enables to do what he could never do in his own strength.”

    In Trump’s case, divine backing is more about smiting than healing. When Rep. Elijah Cummings died last October shortly after sparring with Trump about Baltimore, Peterson declared on his radio show, “He dead”—like Trump enemies John McCain and Charles Krauthammer, Peterson noted. “That’s what happens when you mess with the Great White Hope. Don’t mess with God’s children.”

    Jones only recently became one of those children. “I’ve been on the side of evolution my whole life,” he confesses. Not so much the science end, he wanted me to understand. His had been the partying wing of agnosticism. Then his fiancé persuaded him to start attending a fundamentalist church, not long before Trump was elected, and the veil was lifted. For instance, he says, now he can see the “gay agenda” of the Democrats. “Actually, they’re pedophiles.”

    Jones is only the second person I’ve met at the rally, so I don’t yet know just how common this perspective is. Through a season of Trump rallies across the country, before the global pandemic forced the president to retreat for a while from the nation’s arenas, I spoke with dozens of Trump supporters who believe that the Democratic establishment primarily serves as a cover for child sex trafficking. Some were familiar with “QAnon”—the name claimed by believers in a host of conspiracy theories centered around an alleged “deep state” coup against Trump and his supposedly ingenious countermeasures, referred to as the coming “Storm,” or “Great Awakening”—but most were not. It was, they told me, simply known. “Perverts and murderers,” said a woman in Bossier City. One man, a Venezuelan immigrant, explained that many socialists are literal cannibals. There were the Clintons, of course, but a youth pastor promised me that Trump knew the names of all the guilty parties and was preparing their just deserts. The president himself, in speech after speech, intimates that Judgment Day is coming. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, he spoke of “illegals,” hacking and raping and bludgeoning, “relentlessly beating a wonderful, beautiful high school teenager to death with a baseball bat and chopping the body apart with a machete.” And that, he added, was only what he could reveal. There was more, he said, much, much more. Believe me.

    Such is the intimacy of Trumpism: innuendo and intimation, the wink and the revelation. Jones gets it. To demonstrate, he pops up his Trump mask, bends over, and begins sniffing the wet blacktop like a hound. “Creepy Joe!” cries another supporter. Jones bounces up and beams. It’s his imitation of Joe Biden, on the trail of young boys to molest. Biden as child sniffer is a popular right-wing meme, but it’s not really Biden himself who matters. They know Joe is one among many. “Demons,” says Jones, speaking of the Democratic Party leadership in general. “Not even human.” Which is why it will take the Great White Hope, chosen by God, to confront them. They’re too powerful for the likes of ordinary men such as Jones. He’d tried.

    “I made a mistake,” he says. “I called them up.”

    On December 4, 2016, a man traveled from North Carolina with an AR-15 and opened fire on Comet Ping Pong, the D.C. pizzeria believed by some Trump supporters to be the HQ of Hillary Clinton’s child sex trafficking ring. Jones, inspired, decided to do his part. Three days after the assault, according to testimony he later gave, Jones called another pizzeria down the street. “I’m coming to finish what the other guy didn’t,” he declared. “I’m coming there to save the kids, and then I’m going to shoot you and everyone in the place.” It didn’t occur to him to block his number.

    After spending 40 days and 40 nights in jail, he says (33, actually), Jones decided to plead guilty to one count of interstate threatening communications. He claims he didn’t actually threaten to shoot, but he had his lawn service business to attend to. Also, pets. “So I said fuck it, I’ll take the guilty plea, because at least what I’m pleading guilty to is good. Even my preacher said that. He said, ‘You did a good thing.’ ”

    “It’s good,” agrees another Trump supporter, impressed by Jones’s skirmish with the enemy.

    “It’s real!” says Jones, eyes wide.

    The real of which he speaks—“I was on Yahoo News,” Jones says, holding up the page on his phone—is that of the reality TV from which his leader sprang, The Apprentice, Celebrity Apprentice. A reality set free from context or history, shimmering with feeling, millions of individual truths—Jones’s, Jesse Lee Peterson’s, the Ping Pong shooter’s—all streaming toward one great fact: Trump.

    Jones disappears behind his mask. It’s past noon. The president will be here in less than seven hours. It’s time to get in line. […]

    Quid pro quo, a deal with God: affluence (or the dream of it to come) in return for unquestioning loyalty. Trump’s campaign channeled a convergence of conservatisms: Fred Trump’s brutality, Cohn’s corruption, and the cross wrapped in a flag preached by Peale. […]

    “The numbers tell us certain things,” she says. “And the capital letters”—the tweets, just as Pastor Dave had told me in Louisiana. “Anything capitalized,” Diane says, “we add up as a number.” Such codes are a baseline of conspiracy theories going back centuries. To Diane and other Q believers, this does not disprove the system; it is evidence of how deep runs the struggle. “Two thousand years,” says Diane. Christianity, roughly speaking.

    “It’s a lot to take in,” I stammer. “I didn’t know Q had anything to do with God.”

    “It’s all about God!” Diane shouts. “All about spiritual warfare. Trump will tell you that. Over and over and over.”

    “But he didn’t talk a lot about God—”

    “You’re not listening.” The knowledge is waiting for me, she whispers, moved again nearly to tears: awaken. […]

    Much more at the link.

  128. says

    Follow-up to comment 192.

    […] “The tweets?” I ask.

    “Yes,” says Pastor Dave. “They matter.”

    “Right,” I say.

    “They mean things,” he explains. He points. There: a shirt. And there, up in the seats. Another shirt. And there, and there, and there. As if repetition itself is all the proof needed.

    “It’s not a joke?” I ask Dave. The shirts seem like a rebuke to Black Lives Matter.

    “No!” Dave isn’t offended. It’s unthinkable that anyone down here, so close to Trump’s podium, could really believe that. “It’s like—” he looks for a word.

    “Scripture?” I say.

    “Yes,” he says with a youth pastor’s grin. “Like Scripture.” Every tweet, every misspelling, every typo, every strange capitalization—especially the capitalizations, says Dave—has meaning. “The truth is right there in what the media think are his mistakes. He doesn’t make mistakes.” The message of the shirt to Dave is: Study the layers. “Trump is known as a five-dimension chess player,” Dave says later. And he’s sending us clues. About the Democrats and Ukraine and his plans. “There are major operations going on,” Dave tells me months later, suggesting that Trump is using COVID-19 field hospitals as “a cover” to rescue children from sex trafficking. […]

  129. says

    Follow-up to comments 192 and 193.

    […] The Democratic Party, as far as this crowd is concerned, is dead, and the Republicans have a lifeline only so long as they hitch it to Trump. The joy of a Trump rally is not partisan; it’s the ecstasy of liberation. It’s the convert’s conviction that they have transcended compromise and coalition, that they have entered into the light, undiluted and pure. […]

    Enter the businessman. “Trump is not my God,” says Diane. “But God put him there.” God put him in power and planted a seed of faith in his heart. If you knew how to look, you could watch it grow. “It’s amazing,” Diane shouts. She takes hold of my arm, squeezing. “It gets bigger and bigger!”

    As her faith in Trump grew, so too her certainty that what she’d witnessed abroad had been not just wrong but wicked. “They’re raping and pillaging Haiti!” she tells me.

    It’s too terrible to speak of. She turns away, to the happiness of a small circle of new friends she’s made at the rally, a whole family decked out in Trump wear. But she keeps coming back. “The truth and the lies,” she says. I don’t know what she means. She turns away again, returns again, her eyes watery. “I’m going to say it,” she decides. But she can’t. She walks away. Her friends seem worried. She comes back, leans in. “They eat the children.” She shakes with tears. Her friends nod. […]

    After the rally, in the far reaches of the parking lot, Diane invites me to sit with her in her white Cadillac SUV. Beside us a mini-jumbotron, attended by a group of Black Trump supporters, displays rapid-fire images of Trump, his giant face illuminating the night. Music throbs, blue, green, purple light pulses into the Caddy, but Diane’s face is in shadow. She wants to know if I got the message, if I had discerned. “You listened to him tonight and you kept in mind what I said and you realized he talks to us in codes, right?” she asks. “Now you get it?” […]

  130. says

    Follow-up to comments 192, 193 and 194.

    […] Then there’s what really happened in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, when, according to the official story, a lone gunman named Stephen Paddock shot and killed 59 concertgoers at a country music festival. According to Diane, this was part of a plan to kill Trump, who she said was scheduled to speak in Vegas just days after. Whose plan? Saudi Arabia’s.

    “I didn’t know that,” I say.

    Diane rolls her eyes. “I know that,” she says. “I’m telling you.”

    Later, as I listened to my recording of our conversation (made with Diane’s permission) I found myself thinking, I can’t use any of this. It’s too much. This doesn’t represent anything but one woman’s delusions. Then I googled the Las Vegas shooting. And holy shit—Diane is far from alone. The belief that the Vegas massacre was the work of a nefarious “they” is actually much closer to the world most of us inhabit than the outer reaches of QAnon. It began with Alex Jones, then gathered force via a 51-page PowerPoint document by a retired senior CIA officer and Rich Higgins, Trump’s former director of strategic planning for the National Security Council. The theory notes that the Islamic State claimed credit for the attack; that a man on the same floor as the shooter had reportedly eaten Turkish kebab; and that this man was also known to have supported transgender rights on his Facebook page. Which adds up to—obviously—an ISIS-antifa attack on American soil. From Jones to Higgins and then to Tucker Carlson, who several months after the shooting invited Scott Perry, a GOP congressman and retired Army National Guard brigadier general, onto his show to promulgate what he described as “credible evidence of a possible terrorist nexus” behind the massacre.

    Which may seem to you insane. But it is also, compared to this article, “mainstream.” Carlson’s show alone has three times the viewership of this magazine’s print circulation. Add to that Jones’s Infowars empire, and countless tweets, posts, and threads online—not to mention the conspiratorial anti-Muslim musings of Trump himself—and what you get is this: Diane is not fringe. She may be closer to the new center of American life than you are. […]

  131. says

    More of the same:

    […] “If you watch,” Dave says, “he’ll [Trump will] do the air Q with his hands, a circle with a slash at the bottom.”

    Does Trump really mean to slide in such an obvious tell? Wouldn’t that give it away?

    “Take it as a whole,” Dave says. All of it—virus, rapists, child murderers. How they conspire against Trump.

    Aren’t they winning?

    Not at all. This is the plan. “He wants to discipline us,” Dave says. He, in this instance, means not Trump but his father: God. Like Trump, COVID-19 is an instrument of his will, and he has allowed the virus as a punishment for our “corporate” sin, our failure as a nation to fully embrace him and his messenger, Trump, a view not so distant from that of many Christian right leaders, including Franklin Graham, Fox News preacher Robert Jeffress, and Ralph Drollinger, who leads a White House Bible study.

    But there’s good news, says Dave. God has given us a chance to redeem ourselves: “We could use this as an opportunity to purge. To get rid of the dross and hold on to the pure.”

    A purge. A promise. “Take it as a whole,” Dave repeats, advising me to watch the briefings for every detail—the way those on the stage next to Trump tap their legs, perhaps a spiritual Morse code, the way they blink. Open your eyes. The awakening will be great, the greatest, and the rallies will return. (Indeed, as this story goes to press, the death toll of one pandemic, COVID-19, rising, and that of another, anti-Blackness, coming into national focus as never before, Trump has announced his plans to gather again his masses before him.) […]

  132. John Morales says

    With a sense of wonder, I note Choam Nomsky is still going. Very aged, but still cogent.

  133. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Trump administration in standoff with Manhattan U.S. attorney
    Devlin Barrett, June 19, 2020 at 8:39 p.m. PDT

    The Trump administration announced Friday night that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who has handled a number of investigations involving the president or his campaign, will be leaving that job, though Berman fired back that he hadn’t resigned and would stay on to ensure his office’s cases proceed unimpeded.

    Barr announced the personnel change in a statement, saying the president plans to nominate the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, for the job.

    Berman’s office has been conducting a criminal investigation of President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in a campaign finance case that has already led to charges against two of Giuliani’s associates.

    Berman fired back with a blistering public statement.

    “I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York,” Berman said.

    “I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate. Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption…”

    Barr said in his statement that while the Senate considers Clayton’s nomination, the job will be filled by Craig Carpenito, who is the U.S. attorney in New Jersey. Carpenito will take over the job on July 3, Barr said…

    People familiar with the case [the Giuliani investigation] have said investigators are scrutinizing Giuliani’s consulting business and eyeing donations made to America First Action, the main pro-Trump super PAC set up by his advisers and allies after his election, as well as a nonprofit affiliated with the super PAC.

  134. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 192-196

    Well, I’m thoroughly terrified about the future. If Trump loses, these loons aren’t just going to away and I doubt they’d take his defeat well. These people are going to be a serious problem.

  135. tomh says

    Re: #198

    Before Jay Clayton became chairman of the SEC, he was a corporate lawyer who, among other shady clients, represented Deutsche Bank in its “mirror trade” Russian oligarch money laundering scandal.

    He has never worked as a prosecutor, and reportedly would be the first non-prosecutor to lead the SDNY if he is confirmed.

    Last year it was reported that the SDNY was among a group of federal investigative entities that was probing whether Deutsche Bank had complied with anti-money laundering and other laws.

  136. blf says

    tomh@198, Yeah, I was waiting / hoping someone with a spine would do that. It’s always struck me that some(? many?) of the “firings” and “resignations” during hair furor’s delusionocracy perhaps “aren’t legal” in that they don’t follow the appropriate federal code(s?). (I’m talking here about the method — e.g., by twittering, by chauffeur, by press release, &tc — rather than the motivation, rationale, reasons (alleged or actual), and so on.) So it’s always struck me as a bit odd (almost?) everyone has simply gone along with teh savage butchery, albeit, of course, I suspect most of them were glad to be out from under the control of the dalekocrazy. US attorney Geoffrey Berman seems to be insisting on proper procedures.

    The Grauniad’s story, US attorney behind inquiries into Trump allies refuses to resign despite Barr announcement.

  137. blf says

    Protesters topple Washington DC’s only Confederate statue after Juneteenth rallies (there are two videos at the link which, whilst perhaps interesting / informative, neither deals directly with the subject in the title):

    […]
    In a stark illustration of the tensions roiling the nation, President [sic] Donald Trump issued a solemn White House statement commemorating Juneteenth, while also threatening protesters on Twitter ahead of his controversial rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday.

    […]

    Late on Friday a statue of Confederate general Albert Pike was torn down by demonstrators in the capital and set on fire, in an act labeled a disgrace by Trump.

    The DC police are not doing their job as they watch a statue be ripped down & burn. These people should be immediately arrested, Trump tweeted.

    […] Trump issued a blunt warning to counter-protesters headed to Tulsa.

    Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis, he said. It will be a much different scene!

    Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum declared a curfew in the city amid fears of violence but Trump later announced it had been lifted for our many supporters attending the rally.

    A full lifting of the previously-announced curfew seems to true, Tulsa mayor rescinds curfew for parts of downtown ahead of Trump rally:

    The mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has rescinded a curfew for the area around President [sic] Donald Trump’s rally in the city that had been imposed ahead of the event.

    “Last night, I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received,” Republican Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement Friday. “Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it.”

    […]

    Bynum had issued an executive order Thursday establishing the curfew in parts of the city’s downtown area, saying more than 100,000 people were expected in the vicinity of the event.

    The order also said that individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior in other States are planning to travel to the City of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally.

    […]

    Mr Mayor, a more correct statement would be “fascists will be spreading a deadly disease”.

  138. blf says

    For feck’s sake, UK councils warn over coronavirus test-and-trace messaging scam:

    Scammers request bank details despite NHS home testing kit being free

    Criminals are using bogus phone calls, emails and text messages posing as members of the NHS test-and-trace service to try to steal money from people, local councils have said.

    The Local Government Association (LGA) […] said criminals were asking for bank card details to cover the cost of a coronavirus home testing kit, despite the genuine NHS service being free.

    The LGA has urged the public to be wary of such scams and reiterated that the official scheme will never ask for any payment information, passwords or pins, ask someone to buy a product or download any software, or to call a premium rate phone number to speak to the NHS.

    […]

    Research by Citizens Advice has indicated that one in three people have been targeted by scammers since lockdown began.

    […]

  139. blf says

    Yikes! Wall Street banking on a COVID-19 vaccine before US election:

    Analysts see White House pushing through vaccine approval to bolster Trump’s chances before voters head to polls.

    Wall Street predicts the White House will push through approval of one or maybe even two Covid-19 vaccines to help bolster Donald Trump’s chances before the US presidential election.

    While scientists, including the nation’s top virus expert Anthony Fauci, have set their eyes on a vaccine by early 2021 at the earliest, sell-side[] research analysts have been bringing in experts to weigh in on the possibility of a shorter timeline — ahead of the Nov 3 vote.

    That date is increasingly important as Democratic challenger Joe Biden gains steam, with more Americans scrutinizing the Trump administration’s handling of both the pandemic and the nation’s divisive racial inequities.

    […]

    “All the datapoints we’ve collected make me think we’re going to get a vaccine prior to the election,” Jared Holz, a health-care strategist with Jefferies, said in a phone interview. The current administration is “incredibly incentivized to approve at least one of these vaccines before Nov 3.”

    Holz is not alone in that view. Raymond James policy analysts wrote in a client note that “the Trump White House is putting tremendous pressure on the FDA to approve an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a vaccine prior to the election.”

    “In an ideal world for the Trump campaign, the EUA would be issued in October and images of health-care workers and vulnerable senior populations getting the vaccine in ‘record time’ would lead the nightly news,” the Raymond James analysts said.

    The Trump administration has also been prodding health officials, according to a Washington Post report this week that cited two senior White House officials. [no explanation of what “prodding” means here –blf …]

      † This is joint(?) Al Jazeera–Bloomberg article; I presume the “sell-side” gobbledygook is Bloomberg’s fault. That perhaps also explains the slightly odd writing style (at least for Al Jazeera, which is normally much more BBC-ish, probably in part due to many of their initial staff being BBC). The lack of realistic analysis — e.g., only a cursory nod to health experts and no significant mention of the numerous difficulties in testing, approving, and manufacturing a vaccine by October — also makes me think this is mostly a Bloomberg “financial news” piece. As such, probably accurate (and certainly plausible), but also typical of the superficial understanding of the world where “rentier” is understood to be a bad thing, and “sell-side” is gobbledygook.

  140. blf says

    Apparently the latest “must have” for tinpot governments is their very own satnav system. GPS is the best known, but Russia also has one, so does the EU (called Galileo), and (from memory) both Big China and India also have one each. (Not all of these are fully operational or even have satellites in orbit yet.) Since Galileo is an EU project, and teh NKofE left the EU at Putin’s order, they aren’t part of Galileo anymore (there’s perhaps more to the story than that?). Anyways, in a huff, teh NKofK announced, back in 2018, they’d build their own a satnav system (unnamed as yet, as far as I know). However, only now has teh NKofE brainztrust realised how expensive and complicated it is — UK seeking to scale back plans for independent satnav.

    This is the same country which scrapped its only functional albeit aging aircraft carrier in order to build two new superdooper carriers, only to discover it didn’t have money to even build one, and then discovered cancelling the contract for one (building just one which it still couldn’t afford) would cost more than building it, and so which is now building the second (the first has been launched) hoping to sell it so some not-yet-found buyer. And one which is now floating? It has no aeroplanes. Nor will it get any for some time (delusional accounting strikes again!). Hence, it the meantime, it throws a tantrum and decide to build satnav, which it also cannot afford… (Then there’s the saga of replacing the aging nuclear submarine war-making fleet…)

  141. blf says

    (Cross-posted from Mano Singham’s The 1921 Tulsa massacre here at FtB.)

    On the capitalisation of “Black”, Associated Press changes influential style guide to capitalize ‘Black’ (my added emboldening):

    […]
    The Associated Press has changed its influential writing style guide to capitalize the “b” in the term Black when referring to people in a racial, ethnic or cultural context […].

    The change conveys “an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa,” said John Daniszewski, AP’s vice-president of standards. “The lowercase black is a color, not a person.”

    The news organization will also now capitalize Indigenous in reference to original inhabitants of a place.

    Daniszewski said the revisions aligned with long-standing identifiers such as Latino, Asian American and Native American. […]

    The current Grauniad stylebook says: “black should be used only as an adjective when referring to race, ie not ‘blacks’ but ‘black people’ or whatever noun is appropriate. Lower case unless an individual or organisation specifically prefers to use Black”.

  142. blf says

    Tomorrow is 21st June, which is when the annual Fête de la Musique happens. It is going ahead but with numerous restrictions. Sadly, in the village were I live, the council was unable to get permission from the regional authorities to proceed with its plan for threesome socially-distanced stages, and so has cancelled. (There has to be agreement between the local and regional authorities for any event.) The social-distancing regulations mean it’s very unlikely any bars or restaurants will be featuring any gigs (the local site lists all of two, and I don’t recognise either venue). That rather settles the question of whether-or-not to risk going out tomorrow night; there’s (probably) nothing to go to.

    The national site does list some streaming events, a Zoom(?) sing-a-long, and other somewhat creative endeavors, albeit nothing like simply wandering about the village on Midsummer’s Eve with a beer & eating crêpes, listening to various bands & individuals, some profressional, some semi-pro, others amateur or school or club or so on. (Actually, in France, Midsummer’s Eve is sometimes considered to be June 24th (Fête de la Saint-Jean, derived from pre-xian rituals).)

  143. blf says

    Whilst I do not suggest anyone buy the thing, this is still good news, John Bolton: judge declines to block tell-all Trump book:

    […]
    A federal judge has declined to block the publication of a tell-all book by John Bolton, Donald Trump’s third national security adviser.

    […] Judge Royce C Lamberth […] did have harsh words for Bolton, who he said had failed to complete a national security review and “likely published classified materials”.

    On Twitter, Trump said Bolton must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him.

    […]

    Lamberth, a US district court judge in Washington, wrote that though Bolton’s “unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns, the government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy”.

    He added: “As noted at the hearing, a CBS News reporter clutched a copy of the book while questioning the White House press secretary. By the looks of it, the horse is not just out of the barn — it is out of the country.”

    […]

    “[… I]n the internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality. A single dedicated individual with a book in hand could publish its contents far and wide from his local coffee shop. With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe — many in newsrooms — the damage is done.”

    On Twitter, Trump cited Steve Schmidt, a Republican critic of the president [sic], who called Wacko John Bolton ‘a despicable man who failed in his duty to protect America’. Also stated that he should never be allowed to serve in government again. So true!

    Plain and simple, John Bolton, who was all washed up until I brought him back and gave him a chance, broke the law by releasing classified information (in massive amounts). He must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him. This should never to happen again!!!

    Schmidt responded: “He failed in his duty to protect America from you. The most failed president in American history. You are incompetent and inept. You are amoral and indecent. You are losing this election. You will be defeated and repudiated. Your legacy is death, weakness and economic collapse.”

    […]

    In January 2018, Trump responded to the publication by the Guardian of excerpts from Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, the first Trump tell-all, by threatening to sue its publisher. Henry Holt & Co simply rushed the book to sale.

    […]

  144. says

    Akira @199: “These people are going to be a serious problem.” I agree. They already are a serious problem.

    tomh @200, thanks for the additional information.

    blf @202, I remain worried about violence in Tulsa. Tensions are high there. And there are some gun-toting yahoos bound to show up. Coronavirus will explode (even more than it already is in Oklahoma) about two weeks from now thanks to Trump’s rally. In the meantime, I worry that physical violence will explode tonight as soon as Trump’s cult followers start to leave his rally.

  145. says

    For those who may not have seen it, here is a link to Rachel Maddow’s coverage of reports on Trump’s stripping the leadership from the U.S. Agency for Global Media and replacing it with Michael Pack, who cites Steve Bannon as his mentor. Pack also sacked old board members and replaced them with a new set of board members and officials loyal to Trump.

    The video is 11:45 minutes long. It presents the history of the Voice of America, and then the video brings us up to date. VOA reported in 46 languages men landing on the moon. It reported on Watergate. It was nonpartisan, and usually adhered to high journalistic standards. From a Chechoslovakian citizen: “They were lying. If we wanted to get some real information, we listened to Radio Free Europe or the Voice of America.” Now the entire U.S. Agency for Global Media is being turned into a taxpayer-funded Trump propaganda machine.

  146. says

    Follow-up to comments 198 and 201.

    From a reader of TPM’s coverage:

    […] Even if Trump can ultimately dislodge Berman (under 28 USC 541 he, though not Barr, can likely fire him), he can’t pick the temporary replacement. Until the Senate confirms someone, that choice plainly belongs exclusively to the SDNY judges under 18 USC 846. If Trump tries to ignore that and install his own pick anyway he faces two problems he can’t easily overcome. First, there would be a staff revolt. Second, every criminal defendant indicted under the bogus US Attorney would have standing to seek dismissal because the indictment was not authorized or signed by the lawful US Attorney — and those motions would be decided by the same SDNY judges whose authority Trump is trying to usurp. […]

  147. KG says

    Two items of non-Covid UK news from the Grauniad:

    Israel names a far right religious extremist as ambassador to the UK. A number of prominent British Jews have protested, but the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which is often treated as speaking for the whole community (it doesn’t) came out with a statement of welcome.

    Thirty MPs from across parties, including Tories, have condemned Johnson’s refusal to publish a report into Russian infilitration into the UK. It looks increasingly likely he is just not going to allow its publication at all, rather than just delaying it, as it would have made sense to put it out while the Covid-19 crisis andor BLM demos were dominating the news. It’s almost certain the report establishes how Russian oligarchs have been funding the Tory Party, but possibly it comes too close to Johnson personally for him to risk allowing it out.

  148. says

    Follow-up to comments 198, 201, and 211.

    Nadler To Invite Berman To Testify After Barr Attempts To Fire Him In Friday Night Massacre Gone Awry

    House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced late Friday night that he will invite U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoff Berman to testify after Attorney General Bill Barr abruptly attempted to fire Berman.

    “America is right to expect the worst of Bill Barr, who has repeatedly interfered in criminal investigations on Trump’s behalf,” Nadler tweeted. “We have a hearing on this topic on Wednesday. We welcome Mr. Berman’s testimony and will invite him to testify.” […]

    Nadler’s committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday with John Elias and Aaron Zelinsky, two whistleblowers at the Justice Department, to “describe the unprecedented politicization” of the DOJ under Trump and Barr’s leadership.

  149. blf says

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

    Death seems to follow Donald Trump wherever he goes. At least, the Trump Death Clock does. The real-time tracker, that estimates the number of Americans who have died needlessly as a result of White House incompetence and inaction, has arrived in Tulsa ahead of the US president [sic].

    The clock, which currently puts the number of preventable deaths in the US at 71,662, is now beaming out from three strategically-located billboards in the Oklahoman city where they will be hard to miss by Trump supporters and detractors alike. A truck is also circling the Bank of Oklahoma Center where Trump will be speaking, carrying the clock and blasting out the names of Covid-19 dead over a loudspeaker.

    […]

  150. says

    Campaign news from Joan McCarter:

    Say this for the impeached popular-vote losing, white supremacist, wanna-be dictator, grifting demagogue squatting in the Oval Office—he makes for good opposition ad fodder. Like this one done by the DNC for Joe Biden called “Descent.”

    “Five years ago Donald Trump descended to the basement of Trump Tower,” the narrator says over video of that gross golden escalator ride he took to announce his candidacy. “For the last five years,” it continues, “he’s brought America down with him.” Then the ad launches into a litany of what Trump has managed to destroy in just three-and-a-half years: “attacking health care for people with preexisting conditions; giving massive tax cuts to billionaires, not working families; praising white supremacists, stoking racial division; losing 300,000 jobs in a failed trade war with China; locking children in cages.”

    “He ignored science on coronavirus and misled the American people,” the ad continues, then shows a snippet of Trump saying it would “miraculously go away,” but “It didn’t. Now, over 100,000 dead Americans, 20 million jobs destroyed. Recession.” And then again a video snippet of Trump saying “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.” Then it hits national security and how he “shredded our alliances and turned our military on American citizens,” showing video of the attack on protesters in Lafayette Square and Trump’s Bible photo op. “You have the power to end the descent of our nation, to choose justice, unity, leadership,” the ad concludes. “Because we can’t afford four more years of Trump.”

    This is part of a five-week, six-figure ad buy the DNC will run, focused on hitting Trump “for four years of failures driven by his own ego and self-interest and defined by his incompetence as a leader,” the DNC said. Other ads will focus specifically on Trump’s trade dispute with China as well has his failed leadership at the outset of the coronavirus crisis.

    Link

    You can view the Biden campaign ad at the link.

  151. says

    Analysis of Trump’s perfidy and incompetence; and analysis of Mike Pence’s lack of leadership and toadyism, (and how both are slowing the U.S. recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic); written by Mark Sumner:

    Mike Pence should never again write an editorial. […] Pence’s Tuesday editorial in the Wall Street Journal appears to have pulled off the rare reverse-Cassandra: Everything Pence said was going to happen, has already fallen apart. For example, there was this sequence: “Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000—down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May.”

    On the day Pence wrote that, cases topped 25,000 for only the second time in two weeks. The next day, they topped 26,000. The next day, they touched 28,000. And on Friday, new cases of COVID-19 in the United States were at 33,300. That’s the highest number of new cases since May 1. It’s also a solid signal that the benefits of the temporary lockdowns have been expended. […]

    Back in March, after weeks of foot dragging and denial, Donald Trump and other Republican leaders finally jumped when confronted with charts laying out the expected numbers of dead from an unchecked epidemic in the United States. Trump never became energized enough to actually do anything, like call on governors for a coordinated national stay-at-home order, or institute a federally-managed system of testing and case management. But at least, for a short time there, Trump stood aside long enough for a medical professional to reach the White House microphone and encourage people to take precautions.

    But that was then. After repeated exposure to evidence that Donald Trump was going to kill well over a hundred thousand Americans, Republicans haven’t just become inured to the idea of the worst disaster in over a century, they’ve already declared it a win, and done, no do-overs, no takey-backseys. Trump has already declared there will be “no more shut downs,” and Republican governors have taken that to heart. […] there’s no sign that anything like sensible action is at hand. […]

    [snipped details of current virus case increases in several states]

    Texas is now the fifth highest state in overall cases of COVID-19. Florida is close behind at number seven. And both are now far outpacing the results from states like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that formed the first flank of the U. S. epidemic. In fact, none of those states have seen numbers like those in Florida and Texas since the first week of May.

    The amazing graphic from The Washington Post, showing how red states have taken over as the chief location of new cases, does not even include the data from the last half of this week.

    Visit the link to see the graphic.

    […] The far-too-rapid reopening of America, followed by the refusal to mandate masks or enforce social distancing, is the reason that the lines in this other Washington Post chart are so distinct.

    Visit the link to see the additional graphic.

    In March, as cases in Italy and Spain exploded, then spilled over into other European nations, the word was always that the United States was “two weeks behind.” But that period is long over. By strict, nation-wide application of social distancing guidelines, extended lockdowns, and far more use of masks, the nations of the European Union have turned the COVID-19 pandemic into something that both their citizens and their economies can tolerate until a vaccine or effective treatment is available.

    But in the United States … roll tide.

    Link

    “A ‘red tide’ of cases in Republican states isn’t just slowing pandemic recovery, it’s reversing it.”

  152. says

    Even before it begins, Trump’s rally in Tulsa is being deliberately unsafe.

    Donald Trump doesn’t just like to pretend that his rallies, most of which are held in smallish municipal auditoriums usually reserved for high school graduations and reunion tours of 70s bands, are actually attended by throngs of people. The simplest part of that illusion is that Trump constantly overstates the capacity of those arenas by double, or triple, or dodecuple. Then Trump claims that there are many times more people gathered around the outside of the building, cheering his face on giant—and absolutely nonexistent—screens.

    But one part of that illusion is that Trump never bothers to try and restrict the number of seats at a rally. Instead, the focus is to invite as many people as possible. In the case of Tulsa, Trump’s campaign claims that they’ve sent out more than 800,000 tickets for an auditorium that seats 19,000. Of course, none of those people get assigned seats. Trump rallies are strictly “first come, first served.” That’s because Trump wants those images of people camping out hours in advance of the doors opening, so he can chat up the “excitement” over his appearance. That also means that, in the middle of a pandemic, hundreds of Trump supporters spent the night lined up on a sidewalk … and you don’t even have to ask about masks or social distancing.

    Repeated studies have shown that transmission of COVID-19 is unlikely to occur during brief encounters or from contact with surfaces. The best way to transmit the virus is from prolonged association with an infected individual, especially in a situation where people are talking, shouting, or singing. That’s why so many church gatherings and funerals have turned into super spreader events—they tick every box on the “how to get this disease” checklist.

    Across the country, movie theaters and other entertainment venues are looking for ways to reopen without endangering public safety. To that end, they’ve come up with some simple steps.

    1) When seats are too close together, some seats will deliberately be left empty to maintain proper social distancing.

    2) All customers and employees are required to wear masks, and to leave them on while in any area of the building.

    3) All tickets are being sold in advance for assigned seats, so that theaters can determine proper capacity and spacing.

    Donald Trump is deliberately doing none of this. […]

    Masks are being made available, but no one is being required to wear them. And since Trump already made it clear that he thinks anyone wearing a mask is “trying to show they don’t like me,” it seems extremely unlikely that mask-wearing will be much in evidence during the event. It can also be expected that anyone who does wear a mask will be subject to plenty of harassment.

    Finally, Trump is continuing the practice of not assigning seats, so that those who want to attend will have to crowd around the building and wait for hours before being admitted. Trump wants those pictures of crowds on the street. He wants to make sure people have time to wave Confederate flags, blather about the latest statements from “Q,” and buy T-shirts that describe Joe Biden (and Hillary Clinton, of course) using a vast collection of four letter words. Better yet, Trump wants there to be clashes with protesters and plenty of footage of his supporters waving fists and red hats. Those are the money shots.

    Trump isn’t just doing everything he can to make his event into a human Petri dish, he’s starting the experiment on the sidewalks hours in advance. It takes some time for SARS-CoV-2 to manifest, so it’s unlikely that Trump will be leading cheers of “Lock [cough] her up!” But … give it a couple of weeks and check back.

    By then, Trump is scheduled to do two more.

  153. says

    From Wonkette:

    Yesterday, there were 33,539 new documented cases of COVID-19, most of them coming from the South and California. It was the largest daily number of cases since May 1st.

    So, naturally, morons across the country are celebrating “No Mask Day” and asking people not only to go out without a mask, but for all stores, cities and towns to end their mask orders so that Republicans can spread the virus to their heart’s content. […]

    […] there are scheduled events all over the country. Except for Tulsa, Oklahoma, as all of the non-mask wearers there will be attending the Trump rally today. […]

    There have been crowds of people, coming from all over the country, waiting in line for days to go to the Trump Rally in Tulsa, and pretty much none of them are wearing masks. The odds of someone there having it are pretty strong, meaning that these people will likely become a bunch of Typhoid Marys, bringing their germs back home with them when it’s over. That is why the rest of us need to run screaming from anyone we see not wearing a mask, because they are exactly the kind of people who would be interacting with the kind of people who would go to a Trump rally at this time.

    Obviously we all need to keep wearing masks until it is very safe to not wear them anymore, which won’t be for a while. Better to have to wear them now than to drag this out forever, which is what some states appear to be doing.

    Definitely don’t be like this lady, Healthy American Peggy Hall, who thinks she can take down Big Mask by refusing to talk to anyone wearing a “demonic device,” which is what she calls masks, and then everyone will be so sad that they don’t get to interact with her that they will also stop wearing their masks. […]

    Alarming video available at the link. “I make them remove the mask!”

  154. blf says

    Related to Lynna@218, How coronavirus has created a new split in American life (“As some Americans return to bars, dining and beaches, others shy away, concerned that the virus is still raging”). A snippet:

    “People are seeing this as a personal decision, and it’s based on our own personal risk tolerance,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and a professor of public health and pediatrics at Columbia University. “That’s not public health, because in public health, your risk should not be my risk.”

  155. blf says

    From Right Wing Watch:

    ● Mark Taylor Says Black Men Are Hanging Themselves to Stoke Racial Division and Prevent Trump’s Reelection:

    Mark Taylor, a QAnon conspiracy theorist and so-called firefighter prophet about whom Liberty University made a movie in 2018, appeared on Chris McDonald’s “The MC Files” program Tuesday night and declared that Black men have been hanging themselves in an effort to stir up racial strife and prevent the reelection of President Donald Trump.
    […]
    It’s all about keeping the narrative focused on a civil war, Taylor said. A bunch of garbage that’s been going on like that — we’ve had what, five hangings now? They found bodies hanging? Give me a break. We know that’s deep state-related, that’s pushing some of this stuff to try to drive the narrative. Now, some of them have been maybe suicides, people trying to martyr themselves because they know what it’s gonna do to this whole black, white thing, to try to start the civil unrest, to try to stoke the fires again. This is what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to keep this going through the election.

    Taylor and McDonald then asserted that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is sabotaging the case against Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, so Chauvin will be acquitted, which will lead to more protests and riots. […]

    ● John Guandolo Calls on Trump to Take Direct Military Action Against Minneapolis to Prevent Formation of Sharia-Adherent Police Department (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    A radical right-wing commentator and conspiracy theorist, Guandolo is a disgraced former FBI agent and anti-Islam activist who now trains law enforcement agencies around the country to identify seemingly anyone with dark skin and a beard as an Islamic terrorist. Guandolo has called for Muslims to be banned from serving in Congress or working in government, called for the United States to bomb Mecca, repeatedly called for members of the Obama administration to be executed for treason, and urged Trump to round up and execute the leaders of Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist groups.

    The Minneapolis police department is probably going to be disbanded, Guandolo said on the June 6 call. What do you think they’re going to replace it with in Minneapolis? It’s going to be a Sharia-adherent police department … The people running it will be jihadis and that will be the enforcement arm.

    Do you understand [Minnesota Attorney General] Keith Ellison is going to be the Islamic leader of Minnesota? he continued. That’s what we’re talking about. And if you think that’s not where this is going, then you don’t understand what’s going on. That’s real. It’s happening there. If it happens this week, it won’t surprise me that they disband a municipal police department in a major metropolitan area and replace it with a Sharia-{adherent one}. That is your sign.
    […]

    This is not the Onion!

  156. says

    blf @220, that figures. This situation is so bad! And the “end mask tyranny” people are making it so much worse. I will venture forth soon to do my grocery shopping. I will be wearing a mask. A lot of other people in my community will not be wearing masks. They will look at me with disdain. So I’ve got that to look forward to.

  157. blf says

    And speaking of the Onion (@222):

    ● Heavily Armed Fans Guard Statue Of Yogi Bear In Case It Turns Out He Supported Confederacy:

    Wielding assault rifles and chanting “smarter than the average bear” as they gathered around the cartoon character, heavily armed fans reportedly guarded a statue of Yogi Bear Wednesday on the off chance that he turned out to have supported the confederacy. “We will lay down our lives to protect this monument to Jellystone’s finest bear, whether or not he happened to be a defender of Southern slave states” […]. At press time, the group’s leader was arguing this could all be a slippery slope to removing Yakky Doodle or Snagglepuss statues, or even shaming someone for simply singing “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear” in public.

    ● White House Toilet Doesn’t Know If It Can Handle Another 4 Years Of Trump:

    […] “I know I’m supposed to be apolitical and serve at the pleasure of the president, whoever it is, but I truly don’t think that I can take it if Trump wins reelection,” said the porcelain commode, explaining that it had served honorably through several administrations and had never experienced anything as unspeakable as Trump’s bowel movements. […] “[…] The sink doesn’t get what my deal is, but obviously she doesn’t understand because she’s never been used.” At press time, the White House toilet claimed to be most worried about the possibility of Trump refusing to give up the bathroom voluntarily in November.

    ● Resigned Pew Research Study Has No Fucking Clue What’s Going On With 15% Of Americans:

    Classifying millions of citizens around the country as “total goddamn mysteries,” a resigned Pew Research study released Friday found it was impossible to determine what the fuck was going on with 15% of Americans. “After an exhaustive, year-long venture, we are still just as confused, if not more confused, about what the deal is with all these indecipherable weirdos,” said lead researcher Jenna Kirkman, before throwing her arms into the air, and calling a large portion of Americans “lost causes.” […]

  158. blf says

    Lynna@223, Put on a frogman / scuba-diving suit? Complete, of course, with flippers as well as googles, mask, and so on. And a sign: “Pandemic Seal” or “Dive Under Coronavirus!”

    Main problem will be safely taking it off afterwards, albeit it does have the distinct advantage you can wash it whilst still wearing it.

  159. KG says

    There have been crowds of people, coming from all over the country, waiting in line for days to go to the Trump Rally in Tulsa, and pretty much none of them are wearing masks. The odds of someone there having it are pretty strong, meaning that these people will likely become a bunch of Typhoid Marys, bringing their germs back home with them when it’s over. That is why the rest of us need to run screaming from anyone we see not wearing a mask, because they are exactly the kind of people who would be interacting with the kind of people who would go to a Trump rally at this time. – Lynna, OM quoting Wonkette@218

    Not only for that reason. For non-surgical-quality masks, it’s thought they have only a small protective effect for the wearer; their main function is to protect others from the wearer, if they happen to be infected without knowing it.

  160. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog:

    Spain will not quarantine UK visitors

    Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez has said that British tourists can visit the country from Sunday without facing quarantine.

    Spain will reopen its borders to visitors from other EU countries and the Schengen area on Sunday […]

    I’m none-too-thrilled about that. I lack confidence Covid-19 is adequately under control in teh NKofE, so letting people in from there is perhaps riskier then desirable; once in, they can then travel essentially unimpeded through much of continental Europe. (Also, I myself am sometimes thought to be from there or the States, and so am concerned about being mistaken for a “plague carrier” (this has not happened, and I don’t expect it to here in the village).)

  161. blf says

    Lynna@209, “I remain worried about violence in Tulsa. Tensions are high there. And there are some gun-toting yahoos bound to show up.”

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

    […] A spokesman for Bikers For Trump, tells him [Grauniad’s US southern bureau chief Oliver Laughland] 50 members of the group are in the city to protect the rally from antifa. Many of the bikers are armed. Police and national guard are already guarding the area. There have also been reports of arrests at counter-protests nearby. It looks like it’s going to be a long, hot afternoon.

    The current lead photograph at the blog is striking: A queue (more of a mob, actually) of white people, none wearing masks, none socially distanced, standing in the sun (no(?) shade), and very few carrying water bottles (it’s currently c.28℃ at c.15:00, and forecast to get hotter; the Covid-19 spreading event doesn’t start until something like 19:00, albeit I believe people are being(? will be?) let in before that — into a confined indoor space even better for spreading Covid-19).

  162. Pierce R. Butler says

    Shooting in Seattle protest zone leaves 1 dead, 1 injured

    A pre-dawn shooting in a park in Seattle’s protest zone killed a 19-year-old man and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday.

    The shooting happened at about 2:30 a.m. … Officers responding to the shooting initially had trouble getting to the scene because they were “were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims,” police said on their blog. … The suspect or suspects fled and investigators had no description of the shooter or shooters as of Saturday morning, police said.

    AP has no update, ~ 10 hours later. CNN report half an hour ago has nothing further, either.

  163. says

    blf @225, Ha! I like the idea of washing it while still wearing it. Good plan.

    blf @228, yep. They are making it as bad as possible. Meanwhile there are photos of some of the disabled people who have already been admitted into the arena. People in wheelchairs, etc. are positioned near the stage. Most of them are old.

    The Trump campaign says they are doing contract tracing to follow-up with the six advance team members who tested positive. I doubt they’ll do a good job of that. Their plan is to ask all of the contacts to quarantine themselves. I doubt that will work.

  164. says

    So now Barr sent a letter to Berman saying they thought he’d just scurry off but now he has chosen spectacle [!!!], so Barr has asked Trump to fire him and Trump has. Notably, they’ve walked back appointing Clayton and are now saying Berman’s deputy is to take over as of today (Berman was shown going into the office for work earlier today). They’re clearly trying to avoid Trump having his fingerprints on Berman’s firing at all costs, but Barr doesn’t have the authority to fire him on his own. Reporters just asked Trump about it as he boarded the helicopter leaving for Tulsa, and he claimed it was all Barr and that he’s “not involved.”

    If I were Berman I’d insist on being informed directly by Trump by phone or in writing.

  165. blf says

    Follow-up to @228, the lead photograph for the Irish Times article Contradictory ambitions as Trump walks tightrope with Tulsa rally is also quite striking: A security checkpoint at the Covid-19 spreading event, again everyone’s white, only the security personal are wearing masks (also gloves), no social distancing at all nor any 6-foot markers on the ground, and teh eejit in the foreground has a pro-slavery flag on his T-shirt (with a slogan that I think is heritage not hate).

    There are other images in the article. One shows a masked elderly gentleman carrying a “Black Lives Matter — Dump Trump — 86yr old vet says so” sign near some National Guard (who are not masked). Another shows a Black individual wearing a face mask on which is the slogan “Trump 2020”.

    (The article itself may be an edited version of a New York Times article; and makes a few somewhat off-kilter claims the NYT is prone to do, such as “Many Oklahoma officials now acknowledge that racist past in Tulsa […]. That openness has helped support racial reconciliation.”)

  166. says

    SC @231, OMG, what a farce.

    Barr now says, “I have asked the president to remove you as of today, and he has done so.”

    That directly contradicts what Trump just said:

    Reporters just asked Trump about it as he boarded the helicopter leaving for Tulsa, and he claimed it was all Barr and that he’s “not involved.”

    Those two ne’er do wells definitely don’t have their stories straight.

  167. says

    Also noteworthy that (Senate Judiciary Chair) Lindsey Graham, prior to the latest letter from Barr, said that he would follow the standard blue-slip procedure for replacing Berman, wherein the two New York Senators (both Dems) have a role in choosing the new US Attorney for the SDNY. Seems like Graham is trying to keep himself clear of whatever criminal conspiracy Trump and Barr have cooked up. This was probably the main reason they backed off trying to install Clayton (who very well might not have been aware of what they were planning himself).

  168. says

    Follow-up to SC @235.

    More mind-boggling details:

    […] Barr’s previous note didn’t say that Berman was fired. It said he had resigned. The second note claims that Barr and Berman were having “discussions” about Berman moving to another role. Which underlines the fact that Barr is a liar, and also shows just how awful he is at every aspect of this. Barr offered Berman something else. Berman turned him down. Barr then said that Berman had resigned. Berman said, correctly, that he had not. Barr then chided Berman for telling the truth. That’s Saturday at the Barr DOJ.

    Barr’s statement gives Berman a deadline of … pretty much right now, to clear out of his office. Oddly, this note from Barr completely leaves out the idea included in the first note that the New Jersey U. S. Attorney would step into the acting role. Which almost makes it seem like that attorney might have begged out of this farce. […]

    Link

  169. says

    I can’t remember who it was or what her position was – I think she might have been an IG – but fairly early on IIRC they tried to pull this with some woman in the administration, announcing that she was leaving and being replaced. She came out publicly hours later and said she hadn’t resigned and was coming into work as usual and they backed off for a time.

  170. says

    “That’s all up to the Attorney General,” Trump said, distancing himself from the decision to fire SDNY USA Berman.

    “That’s all [Barr’s] department, not my department.”

    “I’m not involved,” Trump said, minutes after Barr said Trump ordered Berman’s removal.

  171. says

    Dan Goldman:

    There are many open questions about what transpired last night in the SDNY, but one thing is clear:

    Bill Barr lied when he said Berman stepped down.

    Bill Barr also lied about the Mueller Report.

    Bill Barr is a dangerous, lying enabler who is destroying the DOJ.

  172. says

    From Joe Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield:

    Last night’s news raises yet more fundamental questions about the rule of law in the Trump Administration, and heightens extraordinary concerns about an attorney general who seems to subvert his duty to seek impartial justice in order to further the political interests of the president.

    The Administration must be held to account for the rash of irregular actions taken by Attorney General Barr’s Department of Justice for the president’s personal and political benefit.

    From Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

    This late Friday night dismissal reeks of potential corruption of the legal process. What is angering President Trump? A previous action by this U.S. Attorney or one that is ongoing?

    Forty-seven years ago, Elliott Richardson had the courage to say no to a gross abuse of presidential power. Jay Clayton has a similar choice today: He can allow himself to be used in the brazen Trump-Barr scheme to interfere in investigations by the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, or he can stand up to corruption, withdraw his name from consideration, and save his own reputation from overnight ruin.

  173. says

    From Wonkette: “Meanwhile At The Justice Department, Everything Is ON FIRE”

    Could these fuckers just give us one Friday night in peace? One day of rest where we don’t have to check Twitter every five minutes to make sure the Trump administration hasn’t declared martial law and invaded New Mexico? The answer is NO, of course. Every weekend for the rest of the year will start off with a Friday News Dump “Happy” Hour, featuring two nervous breakdowns for the price of one. Hooray!

    Now it is time for your Justice Department Dumpster Fire Lawsplainerpalooza. Ready?

    Barr Shivs Berman

    Last night at 9:30, Attorney General Bill Barr announced that Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, was stepping down. Trump would be nominating Jay Clayton, the current head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer with exactly zero experience running criminal prosecutions, to replace Berman. And pending Clayton’s Senate confirmation, sitting US Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito would take over SDNY from Berman.

    Carpenito, who represented Chris Christie in the “Bridgegate” scandal, knows how to run a federal prosecutors’ office the way Barr likes it. He’s the last guy you want in charge of a whole raft of investigations involving Trump and his allies, including Rudy Giuliani’s possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman who are in deep shit for illegal contributions to Trump’s PAC, and the potential charges against Turkey’s Halkbank — the very ones Trump promised Turkish President Recep Erdogan he would make disappear when he got his own guys installed at SDNY, according to John Bolton.

    Convenient, huh? […]

    Well, let’s assume that Trump can fire Berman. Barr certainly can’t nominate SEC head Clayton himself as Berman’s replacement, and his announcing the nomination won’t make it so. More to the point, Clayton’s name is dead on arrival in the Senate, where the Judiciary Committee still allows “blue slips” for federal district court officials below the level of appellate court nominees. In plain English, this means that both “home state” senators have to sign off — i.e. return the “blue slip” — for a local applicant’s name to be considered by the Committee.

    Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham confirmed this morning that Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who have no intention of helping Barr defenestrate Berman, will be allowed to nix Clayton’s name. So clearly this nomination is going nowhere, as Barr knew damn well from the jump. (And Lindsey Graham, Trump’s new BFF, was pretty quick with that announcement. Almost like he’d coordinated it with the White House.)

    So why did Barr announce Clayton’s nomination? And why did CNN and the New York Times immediately run stories saying that Clayton wanted to leave his SEC job and go back to New York, and he “expressed interest in the SDNY job” to Barr?

    Are we really supposed to believe that Clayton called up his old pal Bill and said, “Hey, I miss the Big Apple. How about you give me one of the top jobs at the Justice Department, despite my having no criminal experience at all?” And Barr said, “Great plan! I’ll just fire the guy there now, and the position is all yours! It might take six months to get you confirmed, but that will give you like five whole weeks in the job before Biden takes over in January.”

    It’s bullshit. Barr never intended Clayton to take over, he just wants Berman out and Carpenito in. And he wants it bad enough that he’s willing to burn down the entire Justice Department to make it happen. You know all those people who insist that Trump has some grand plan? The ones who shout “This is a distraction!” whenever the president does something super crazy, like there’s some nine-dimensional chess game happening? Well, this time, they’re sort of right. Clayton’s nomination is a distraction from Barr’s real objective, which is to get rid of Berman STAT. […]

    The odds of Berman testifying while still a Justice Department official are slim to none. He showed up to work today, telling reporters, “I issued a statement last night, I have nothing to add to that this morning. I’m just here to do my job.”

    Speaking of Roger Stone, though, that weaselly fucker is due to report to jail at the end of this month. Which leaves just one more Friday Night News Dump for Trump to drop that pardon he promised. Something for us all to look forward to!

    Link

  174. says

    blf @228, in addition to the armed Bikers for Trump, there are now heavily armed Boogaloo Bois near the entrance where people are expected to be let into the arena. I saw the images. In addition to giant guns, the Boogaloo dunderheads are also wearing Hawaiian shirts (one of their ways of identifying themselves as Boogaloos who want to start a new civil war).

  175. says

    Trump cult follower: “It was important to me to support what I believe in. I’m not going to let a bunch of people tell me I can’t do something. We’re still in a free country,” said Janet Arnold, 64, a massage therapist who drove to the rally from Bolivar, Mo., and described herself as “a gun-toting grandma.” [She said she did not intend to wear a mask.]

  176. says

    Ashley Cowburn, The Independent:

    US Department of Homeland Security says Nigel Farage was allowed to board flight as it was in “the national interest”. He was initially denied boarding.

    He was exempt from travel ban under clause that says “any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.”

    He’s here for Trump’s Tulsa coronapalooza. No quarantine, either.

  177. blf says

    Republican governors blame familiar targets as coronavirus rates soar:

    […]
    As new coronavirus cases surge across several southern states, Republican governors are looking to apportion blame — and resting upon some familiar targets.

    In Florida, migrant Hispanic farm and construction workers are driving the huge uptick in Covid-19 infections, according to Governor Ron DeSantis, who has repeatedly identified the immigrant workforce as the No 1 source of outbreaks in the Sunshine state.

    [… DeSantis is lying…]

    [… I]n Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has been accused of being very Trumpian for pinning blame for his state’s own record numbers on younger residents not wearing masks and refusing to keep social distance.

    [… Abbott is lying…]

    In Arizona […] Governor Doug Ducey has been accused of shutting out Democratic politicians as he presses ahead with the state’s reopening. Ducey, like his counterparts in Florida and Texas, has insisted that increased testing accounts for the increased rates of positivity, an argument that public health officials have rejected as unsound.

    […]

    For representatives of Florida’s agricultural workers, DeSantis’s comments represent an attack on essential workers who have kept the state fed during the pandemic. […]

  178. blf says

    And cannot recall if it’s Eric or Don Jr who is considered dumber (neither is very bright), but Eric makes a move for the title (from the Grauniad’s current States politics / pandemic blog, complete with snark):

    Eric Trump has deleted an Instagram post which contained a graphic from QAnon, a conspiracy theory that states a powerful group of paedophiles control the world (although, at least, they are not secretly lizards). The theory is popular among some Trump supporters and the ADL calls it “a dangerous theory that has inspired violent acts.”

    https://twitter.com/jaredlholt/status/1274415729333415938

  179. blf says

    me@254, “And cannot recall…” → “I cannot recall…”. Today’s werid Tpyos offerming.

  180. blf says

    A recursive correction (@254)! Maybe @253’s “Lizards for hair furor” are out to get me!! Ah-hahahaha!!!!1!

  181. says

    Update – “BERMAN: ‘In light of Attorney General Barr’s decision to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss become Acting U.S. Attorney, I will be leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately’.”

    I was wondering about this. From what I’ve read today, which admittedly isn’t much, Strauss won’t put up with any nonsense.

  182. blf says

    No real surprise (from the Grauniad’s current States live politics / pandemic blog):

    [… The Grauniad’s] Oliver Laughland has been inside the BOK Center and reports that most of those gathering are not wearing masks […]:

    I’m briefly inside the BOK Center. There is precisely zero social distancing and most people aren’t wearing masks. It’s about 1/3 full at the moment.

    I won’t be staying inside for the rally due to public health guidance

    https://twitter.com/oliverlaughland/status/1274450700307763201

  183. says

    Berman’s statement is atl @ #256. Includes: “…I could leave the District in no better hands than Audrey’s. She is the smartest, most principled, and effective lawyer with whom I have ever had the privilege of working…”

  184. says

    Lisa Page:

    One of the most eye-opening and bewildering aspects of the Trump era is the unexpected discovery of men and women possessed w/ innate courage (Vindman, Yovanovich, Hill, Taylor, now Berman) and those that aren’t (Kelly, Bolton, Graham, Collins, [insert Republican senator here]).

  185. says

    Preet Bharara:

    Geoff Berman has agreed to leave. Thank you for your service to the country. Despite challenges, the fine people at SDNY will continue the long tradition of integrity and independence under Audrey Strauss. Let’s all wish her well.

    Yes I know Audrey Strauss. She is an excellent and principled lawyer.

    Bharara will be on SOTU with Jake Tapper tomorrow morning.

  186. says

    Brian Stelter:

    Re: the 6 Trump campaign staffers [sic] who have tested positive for Covid-19: “Trump, who was made aware of the sick campaign aides before departing for the rally, was incensed that the news was made public, according to two people familiar with his reaction.”

    Per @KevinBohnCNN: “Trump spent much of Saturday upset because he believes the coverage of the status of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman and the campaign staffers who have tested for coronavirus are overshadowing” tonight’s Tulsa event, a person familiar with the matter said.

  187. says

    In related news, “Less than packed house 90 mins out from start of #TulsaTrumpRally”

    Photo atl. I must have been off by an hour @ #260 above. It’s possible people are waiting until it’s closer to the start to go in – don’t know how many are still outside. Hoping it really is a smaller crowd.

  188. says

    As others are reporting, looks like attendance here in Tulsa is well below campaign’s expectations. Here’s the main floor at the arena currently

    I should add that the event isn’t supposed to start for some time (90 mins ish). But this isn’t a normal rally, there was overflow space and and a scheduled outdoor program. Even if arena fills up, those areas remain below expectations (which they heightened!)”

    Photo atl.

  189. blf says

    SC@269, About an hour ago, the Grauniad’s live States politics / pandemic blog reported:

    Donald Trump had planned to address the public outside the BOK Center before tonight’s rally, but that segment of proceedings has now been cancelled. Protesters and counter-protesters have been gathering in Tulsa today, and some of them are armed so that may well have played into the decision. […]

    Images at the time (see the link) also indicate an essentially vacant “overflow” area. How significant that was then, or is now-ish, is unclear (to me): Based on my own experiences at (music) festivals / concerts, nobody around several hours beforehand is no big deal — it’s the beer tents which are a better indicator (but I’ve no experience when there is extensive security precautions, which must slow things down).

  190. blf says

    Some more from the Grauniad’s current live hair furor is a lying eejit blog:

    The president — on board Air Force One — has just flown a loop over Tulsa as the city prepares for his rally later tonight.

    […]

    Donald Trump’s campaign has blamed radical protesters for frightening away the president’s supporters from tonight’s rally in Tulsa. Sure, that and the prospect of sharing a confined space with thousands of others in the middle of a pandemic.

    Sadly, protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally. Radical protesters coupled with relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out, said campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

    Yeah, there are numerous pictures — imaged by hair furors own supporters, no less — of radical protesters blocking the entrances & metal detectors despite all the armed kooks, National Guard, &tc — NOT.

    The relentless onslaught from the media is perhaps best illustrated by Mano Singham’s Trump’s no good, very bad, horrible week here at FtB.

    (Hair furor has now plopped down, and is due to start bellowing in c.30m (19:00 Tulsa time), albeit as the Grauniad notes, he’s not known for being punctual. So the missing 990,000 eejits now seems rather real and convincing; with the absurd lies as strong confirmation.)

  191. blf says

    SC@281, There’s a picture from about an hour ago at CNNs live blog of the overflow area. Excluding obvious staff, I counted something over 20 people, so that 12 is about right, certainly the correct order of magnitude.

  192. blf says

    There’s an image at the CNN blog (see @282) showing the upper tier all-but-empty. The individual in the foreground is wearing a mask. There is only one other individual in the entire section, about six or seven rows away. Those two people, and just about everyone else in the upper tier, are very well socially distanced.

    (The image itself is not time-stamped, so I cannot be sure it is contemporaneous with the text (just a few minutes ago), but it seems probable.)

  193. says

    Gary Tuchman from CNN, reporting from outside the Tulsa arena where they’re breaking down the outdoor stage, just said that shortly before he just came on Secret Service agents approached them and asked them to leave, at the request of the campaign.

  194. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 270

    Wait, either the Trump campaign is lying and his popularity has really dropped, OR they just implied that the flag-waving, gun-toting, citizen-soldiers-againt-the-BLM/Antifa-traitors who support him are really a bunch of sniveling cowards.

    Which is it?

  195. blf says

    CNN’s blog (see @282) has just fact-checked teh eejit:

    Fact check: Trump claims his administration is responsible for passing Veterans Choice

    The President [sic] claimed his administration was responsible for passing VA choice, which provided the Department of Veterans Affairs more resources to improve access for veterans and allow them to seek care from non-VA providers.

    Trump later added to the falsehood, saying for decades and decades they wanted to get it done.

    Facts First: The Veterans Choice bill, a bipartisan initiative led by senators Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain, was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014. In 2018, Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which expanded and changed the Choice program.

  196. says

    As soon as the Trump campaign started making excuses for the small crowd, I knew the arena was partially empty, and that it would remain that way.

    No one saw, nor documented any protestors keeping Trump fans out of the arena. Near one entrance, there was a group of protestors, but they let everybody through who wanted to walk through. In some cases, police showed them the path to take.

    It was reported that Trump supporters carrying guns were asked to leave, and they did leave. So much for the Boogaloo group.

    One woman, one single Oklahoma teacher, was asked to leave by police. She had a ticket. She was let in. Trump staff asked police to escort her out because she was wearing a BLM T-shirt.

    The Trump campaign very likely lied twice, or thrice.. They lied about the number of people they expected to show up. They lied about the number of people who did show up. They lied about protestors blocking Trump supporters who wanted to enter the arena.

    Soon, the Trump campaign, and Trump himself, will continue the lies. They will lie about the number of people in the arena, etc.

    We know what we saw. A deflated balloon. A failed party. Boring and ill-attended. But Trump was there, telling stupid, discursive stories about women home alone being attacked and no police come to help because Democrats defunded the police. Effing dolt.

  197. blf says

    Related to @291, etc., from the Grauniad’s live lying traitor blog:

    Trump says Joe Biden is a puppet of the radical left. He says that a bunch of maniacs were outside the rally earlier so he could not attend an event outside. As reported by my colleague Oliver Laughland earlier, there was no evidence of violence from counter-protesters this evening outside the event: “Just to add, there were multiple (I believe four) entry points, so even if one had been disrupted by protesters, there were many other ways to get inside.”

    And (snarks ahoy!):

    Trump is on his second free-jazz riff of the evening. This one is an in-depth story about getting a new aircraft for Air Force One from Boeing; Angela Merkel appears at some point. It ends, surprisingly, with Trump being proved to be correct despite other people telling him he was wrong. This one is getting less traction from the crowd than the one about the time he drank a glass of water at West Point, possibly because it makes very little sense.

  198. says

    Lies, lies and more lies.

    “Americans have watched left wing radicals burn down buildings, loot businesses, destroy private property, injure hundreds of dedicated police officers … and injure thousands upon thousands of people only to hear the radical fake news say what a beautiful (protest) it was,” Trump said.

    Suggesting that protesters had kept away the crowds away from his rally, Trump called the attendees at the Tulsa arena “warriors” and said there were “some very bad people outside,” although CNN reporters on the ground saw no evidence of that interference.

    The President also praised the federal government’s effort to get the National Guard to Minneapolis, the city where Floyd’s death took place.

    “I got them to take 8,000 national guardsmen and in one hour it all ended and they went through the next three weeks with no problem,” Trump remarked.

  199. says

    Trump’s worst nightmare comes true—humiliated with a partially empty arena for comeback speech

    Donald Trump is having what has to be one of the worst public relations days of his life and holy cow, that is saying something. Saturday was yet another day of Black Lives Matter rallies nationwide, COVID-19 cases are growing exponentially, Attorney General Bill Barr was caught publicly lying not once, but twice in the last 24 hours, Trump and Barr’s plan to takeover the office of the Southern District of New York with a handpicked crony thwarted, the media was informed six members of Trump’s advance team tested positive for COVID-19 (including two members of the Secret Service) and now……..his crowd in Tulsa is a bust in every imaginable way.

    It turns out, not that many people were willing to attend an indoor rally with the most rabid MAGA fans, many of whom have been to dozens of Trump rallies in faraway states and follow Trump like some sick twisted version of Deadheads. MAGAheads?

    Despite bragging on social media that they’d gotten more than 1 million ticket requests online, they could’ve held this rally in a large high school gym. The first overhead video I came across on Twitter was an indication the crowd seemed……light. [ See https://twitter.com/QuickTake/status/1274406840340746244%5D

    OK, but maybe there is a really huge long line down a block not seen, right? Turns out….no. It started to crystalize about 90 minutes before Donald Trump was scheduled to speak. […]

    Ooooooooof. I mean, what if you threw a party and nobody came? […]

    Around the time Trump was climbing down the stairs of Air Force One, his campaign was already releasing excuses to reporters. Team Trump blamed……..protesters. LOLOLOLOLOL. […]

    From Maggie Haberman:

    This was what some advisers feared/dreaded about an event they’re counting on to get the president more focused on a race they say his heart hasn’t been in for awhile.

    From Will Steakin:

    Trump just days ago: “We’ve never had an empty seat, and we certainly won’t in Oklahoma.”

    From the earlier DailyKos link:

    Even at the most generous angles, the crowd was light, light, light. This arena’s capacity is 19,199 and as you can see, the upper deck is largely empty. […]

    At the end of the day, we are in a global pandemic and it turns out, most people don’t want to die.

  200. says

    Follow-up to comment 300.

    From comments posted by readers:

    They STILL had thousands of people in close quarters, mostly not wearing masks, in a State where the the virus spread is accelerating.
    ———————
    I’ve read where some people came from 400 miles away. They can spread this far and wide. The local news merely says there are ‘thousands and thousands in attendance but from the video clip above it looks like about 10-12k at most.
    ———————-
    All the invisible people from his inauguration crowd showed up in Tulsa tonight.
    —————————-
    And invisible Antifa, apparently. Blocking the metal detectors? With Secret Service, National Guard, and police everywhere? Pics, or it didn’t happen
    ————————-
    The first thing that I think looking at that stadium is—with that light crowd they could have practiced social distancing, instead of bunching them up to look better for the cropped video/photos. I just…these people are going to be transmitters—I don’t spot any masks in that Astead Herndon video, not that I’m surprised, just…damnit, the vectors are going to disperse.

  201. blf says

    Follow-up to @289 & @295, about slowing down testing. from the Grauniad’s current lying traitor blog:

    A White House official said that an earlier comment from Trump in the speech, when he said he told my people to slow down the testing was a joke […]

    Did anyone notice the crowd’o’morans laughing?

  202. says

    More batshit bonkers stuff Trump said, to the delight of his audience:

    “I look better than them. Much more handsome. Got better hair than they do. I got nicer properties, I got nicer houses, I got nicer apartment, I got nicer everything.” — Trump compares himself to the “elite.”

    Trump claims that pro-choice Democrats want to legalize “afterbirth execution.” (That sort of thing is called murder.)

    “They get rid of the worst scum on earth” — Trump hails ICE for brutalizing people

    Trump refers to 2020 as “two-twenty”

    While his audience sits in awkward silence, Trump brags about how he made the call to install new TVs in Air Force One

    Trump claims that if Biden gets elected, “money itself will be worthless”

    rump pleads with Jay Inslee to ask him to bring in the military to crush protests in Seattle

    Trump admits that he shook hands with people at West Point last weekend, even though health experts say it’s not a smart thing to do during a pandemic

    “I don’t want to get water on the tie” — Trump is now whining that people noticed that he seemed to have a hard time drinking water out of a glass at West Point last weekend. He then drinks water with one hand to prove he can do it.

    Here’s Trump mocking himself for the way he walked down a ramp at West Point last weekend. He’s been talking about this for about 6 or 7 minutes now.

    Trump calls the coronavirus “Kung flu” and then says, “many call it a flu.” (Nobody with a working brain says that.)

  203. blf says

    SC@299, “the crowd, such as it is, looks really bored.”
    Yeah. I been checking the (muted) livefeed from The Hill every so often, and the people behind teh bellowing blowhard look bored out of their skulls (insert snark here about having nothing much in the skulls which can get bored), with lackluster placard waving for the camera. (Now; at first they seemed genuinely excited; but I have a suspicion the “excitement” now is in response to unseen cues (e.g., stage manager or blinking light or something).)

  204. says

    Trump calls Rep. Ilhan Omar a ‘hate filled America-bashing socialist’ who wants to make the US ‘just like the country from which she came, Somalia. No government, no police, no safety, no nothing’.

    Omar fled Somalia as a refugee. Also, her dad died from covid-19 five days ago.”

  205. blf says

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

    […] Trump repeatedly said during his speech that counter-protesters made life difficult for his supporters tonight. From where Oliver [Laughland] is, the crowd seems pretty calm: “There’s a national guardsman watching, dancers holding BLM signs, a funk band, and local pastors.”
    https://twitter.com/oliverlaughland/status/1274507174971138049

    Doesn’t look like a big turnout (I have no idea what was expected), but almost everyone seems to be wearing masks, social distancing is Ok but could be better, and a mix of ethnicity. No obvious firearms (not even the National Guardsman). Clearly a bunch of maniacs.

  206. says

    Ashish Jha:

    This is consistent with everything I have heard in conversations with folks in the federal government.

    A concerted effort to reduce availability of testing for Americans

    While ramping up testing White House staff

    Its amazing to hear the President publicly admit this policy

  207. blf says

    Tom Petty estate issues cease and desist over Trump’s use of song:

    […]
    The family of Tom Petty has issued a formal cease and desist letter to the Donald Trump campaign over its use of his song I Won’t Back Down at a rally in Tulsa on 20 June.

    In a statement posted on Twitter, Adria, Annakim, Dana and Jane Petty said the president [sic] was “in no way authorised to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense left behind”.

    […]

    Other musicians have attempted to prevent the Trump campaign from playing their music at his events. In 2015, Neil Young said Trump had not been given permission to use Rockin’ in the Free World in his presidential [sic] campaign announcement. Rihanna sent a cease and desist letter over the use of her music at “one of those tragic rallies”.

    Elton John, REM, Adele, Guns N Roses, the Rolling Stones, Pharrell, Queen, Prince, Aerosmith and Earth Wind and Fire have also denounced the president’s [sic] use of their music.

    […]

  208. says

    Unable To Stop Bolton Book, Trump Threatens To Sue Anyone Who Buys It

    He’s at it again.

    Now that a judge has ruled John Bolton can publish his tell-all book, the man who elevated the filing of frivolous lawsuits into an art form is threatening to sue anyone who has the nerve to buy a copy of the juicy memoir.

    Donald Trump has never been a man to take rejection lightly. Whenever he has found himself up against a wall, he threatens to take legal action.

    Yes, Trump might be forced to file millions of lawsuits but that won’t stop the “king of litigation.”

    Writing in today’s Washington Post, Dana Milbank gives a great summary of all the people or entities Trump has sued or threatened to sue:

    “Since 2015, Trump, his business or the Republican Party have sued or threatened to sue MSNBC, NBC, the Associated Press, the Daily Beast, Univision, an anti-Trump T-shirt maker, authors Michael Wolff and David Cay Johnston, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), former Ohio governor John Kasich (R), a Jeb Bush supporter, a super PAC, the Republican Party, sanctuary cities, former aide Steve Bannon, former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the U.S. Golf Association, a 92-year-old widow in Scotland, the women who alleged he sexually assaulted them, the co-author of his own memoir, the Club for Growth, the Culinary Workers Union, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the organizer of a “Dump Trump” campaign, the city of Minneapolis, and an artist who painted a nude of him.”

    “Before that, he sued or threatened to sue the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, a Chicago Tribune architecture critic, Bill Maher, the now-deceased rapper Mac Miller, the Village Voice, ABC and the BBC, a random Twitter user, a woman critical of Trump University, a critic of his golf courses, a Miss USA contestant, Rosie O’Donnell, the Obama Justice Department, and the Onion.”

    Milbank, surprisingly, failed to mention the time Trump threatened to sue Mother Teresa.

    For Trump, the underlying motive for his litigation threats is intimidation. Trump believes the mere mention of the word “lawsuit,” and all the costs it entails, will stop people with perfectly winnable cases from taking him on.

    As Milbank ends his piece, “If you can’t beat ‘em, sue ‘em.”

  209. says

    From a Trump supporter in Tulsa:

    Why isn’t Trump investigating Fauci and Gates [Bill Gates] and the COVID-19?

    This guy was really reaching when he tried to answer a question asked by a reporter: “Is there anything he’s [Trump has] done that you don’t support?”

    More of the answer:

    I don’t support him [Trump]… not exposing [Bill] Gates financing it with Soros. The money going to Wuhan Lab. Fauci, as the leader of the NIH, sending the money to the Wuhan Lab as a biological weapons scientist who has the patent to HIV & that HIV was in the COVID-19.

    Okaaaay.

    Watch two video snippets here:
    https://twitter.com/andrewkimmel/status/1274382007460560897

  210. says

    Aiyiyiyi.

    MNSBC just interviewed a Trump Tulsa attendee who said (and I paraphrase), “yeah, a friend of mine died from the virus, and his son was on a ventilator, but on the other hand, you don’t know who to believe, even friends of mine who are worried aren’t wearing their masks.”

    https://twitter.com/aravosis/status/1274355082402955269
    Video at the link.

    Transcript:

    We had a friend who died from Covid, and his son was on a ventilator, he almost died. So we know it’s real, but then at the same time you don’t know what’s the facts, you feel like maybe one side plays it one way and the other side plays it another. So me personally, I don’t really know. But I do know this, the ones that are very concerned about Covid, when we spend time with them in the last five days, they were interacting without their masks.

    The speaker was not wearing a mask.

  211. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @321:

    Watch two video snippets here:

    NO THANKS!!! I am not going to take a chance that their stupidity gets a chance to infect me!

  212. says

    Trump rallies in red-state America — and faces a sea of empty blue seats.

    Washington Post link

    He threatened violence against protesters, endangered his supporters by flouting health recommendations and endured a 110-day, coronavirus-induced dry spell, but when […] Trump finally stepped back onto his rally stage Saturday night in Tulsa, he saw a sea of blue seats.

    The thousands of empty arena chairs, after his campaign had hyped overflow crowds and ticket requests totaling more than 1 million, symbolized the beleaguered state of Trump’s presidency and of his quest to win a second term.
    To a nation broken by a pandemic and a recession — and with a racial justice movement roiling communities across the country — Trump offered neither reconciliation nor rapprochement. […]

    Trump belittled the seriousness of the coronavirus, mocked heath experts and recalled, “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down,’ ” because as more tests are conducted, more infections are discovered. And the president uttered a racially insensitive term in describing the “many” alternate names for the novel coronavirus that originated in China.

    With cities coast to coast pulsating in protest of racial injustice, Trump used his bully pulpit to exacerbate the chaos and division in hopes of capitalizing on the nation’s fraying bonds. He condemned what he called “this cruel campaign of censorship” and, in reference to the debate over removing monuments and memorials to Confederate generals, declared: “They want to demolish our heritage. . . . We have a great heritage. We’re a great country.”

    Trump’s rallies have long been singular events in U.S. politics, but rarely have so many currents charging through the country converged as they did Saturday at the BOK Center in Tulsa. […]

    Trump’s performance masked a presidency in peril. This past week alone, the Supreme Court twice stymied Trump’s administration, including on one of its signature immigration policies. His former national security adviser alleged that he sought help with his reelection campaign from Chinese President Xi Jinping. His firing of a U.S. attorney who had been investigating his associates drew loud condemnations.

    And he has yet to present a comprehensive governing plan to end the pandemic, provide long-term relief for the millions of people who are unemployed or address the burgeoning civil rights movement with significant action.

    Did anyone really think that Trump would see the rally in Tulsa as an opportunity to present a plan to deal with the pandemic or the current civil rights demands from citizens?

    Falling further behind in the polls and bruised by bouts of self-sabotage, Trump planned to show onstage in Tulsa how he intends to fight for a second term.

    How is that? Ineptly?

    If Trump had settled on a new message for this relaunch phase of his campaign, it was difficult to discern. His 101-minute address was rambling and discordant, ranging from some of his favorite hits, such as attacks on CNN and the “fake news” to dark imagery about “Joe Biden’s America” as overrun by rioters and looters to a lengthy monologue explaining his slow and unsteady walk down a ramp and two-handed sip of water last weekend at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

    The president spun an alternate reality of the national crises over which he presides. In Trump’s telling, he has been the victim against dangerous villains old and new. He portrayed presumptive Democratic nominee Biden as a hapless captive to “the left-wing mob.”

    Trump basked in the raucous, mask-free adulation of thousands of supporters, some of whom traveled long distances to take in the show, though the crowd filled about half of an arena that holds 19,000. The campaign built a second stage for Trump to address an expected overflow crowd of thousands, but with no attendees, the speech there was scrapped, and workers quickly got to dismantling the stage. […]

    Biden, meanwhile, plans to continue campaigning largely through live-stream technology in accordance with social distancing recommendations. The former vice president only recently returned to having in-person events at all and requires attendees to wear masks, which Trump does not. Attendees in Tulsa, who had to first agree to forgo the right to sue the Trump campaign if they get infected, were given masks but were not required to wear them.

    With polls showing Biden far ahead — including a Fox News Channel national survey released Thursday that had Biden leading Trump 50 percent to 38 percent — Trump was trying to show off one asset that his opponent lacks: the ability to turn out a crowd. Massive, rowdy rallies are part of Trump’s political DNA and, as he and his advisers see it, give him an edge against Biden […]

    Biden has called Trump reckless for hitting the campaign trail even as the virus continues to spread.

    “Now he’s just flat surrendering the fight” against the pandemic, Biden said Wednesday in Darby, Pa. “Instead of leading the charge to defeat the virus, he just basically waved a white flag and has retreated. He’s so eager to get back on his campaign — to his campaign rallies — that he’ll put people at risk.” […]

    Joe Arpaio, the longtime former sheriff of Maricopa County in the Phoenix area who received a pardon for criminal contempt charges from Trump in 2017, said “I praise his courage” to be willing to fly around the country holding rallies during a pandemic.

    “If people don’t want to go, they don’t have to go,” said Arpaio, an early backer of Trump’s 2016 campaign. “. . . People can take care of themselves. I think he has a lot of courage to do these rallies. He’s not hiding, staying locked up in home arrest. He’s out there fighting for his country.” […]

    Joe Arpaio is equating stupidity with bravery.

    Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has considerable influence over the president’s travel schedule and rally site selection and is the one who talks through possibilities with Trump and executes whatever the president ends up deciding, according to people familiar with the internal dynamics. […]

    Jared? Sheesh. Only the best advice … from only the best people.

  213. KG says

    <A href=”https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/21/brad-parscale-donald-trump-tulsa-rally-covid-ivanka-kushner-rick-wilson#img-22>A truly delightful photo of Trump!

  214. KG says

    Whoops, forgot to clse the tag.

    <A href=”https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/21/brad-parscale-donald-trump-tulsa-rally-covid-ivanka-kushner-rick-wilson#img-22″>A truly delightful photo of Trump!

  215. says

    Hunter comments on Barr:

    After not just one, but two apparent false statements from Trump Attorney General William Barr on the matter, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman resigned Saturday evening—a decision he publicly said was due to “Attorney General’s decision to respect the normal operation of law” in having his Deputy U.S. Attorney take over the position on an acting basis.

    That doesn’t end the story, however. What is still unclear is why William Barr was so motivated to remove Berman that he first issued a false claim that Berman had resigned—prompting a public response from Berman stating that he quite emphatically had not—and a second, later claim to Berman that Donald Trump had fired him—only to have Trump soon afterward declare to reporters that he was “not involved” in the firing. No matter how you parse out that series of events, it’s so far impossible to come up with an explanation that is not, on Barr’s part, brazenly corrupt.

    For starters, Barr needs to be forced to explain why he manufactured an alleged resignation, to begin with. Barr’s first claim, that Berman had resigned, was intended to pave a path for Barr and Trump to install Barr personal friend Jay Clayton, a corporate attorney with no prosecution experience whatsoever who currently serves as Trump’s chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Southern District of New York is currently either prosecuting or investigating a litany of apparent crimes by individuals close to Trump—and potentially by Trump himself. […]

    There is no other way to read the move to install Clayton other than as corrupt, given the proximity of SDNY to at this point an unknowable number of investigations that tie directly into Trump, Clayton’s status as Barr ally, Barr’s bizarre announcement of a resignation that did not happen, and Barr’s now well-reported moves to “reach down” into numerous federal prosecutions that Trump, personally, has objected to.

    According to The Washington Post, Barr met on Friday with Berman, “offering him a new position” heading the Justice Department’s Civil Position if he would move from his current role; Berman evidently did not agree to the move. […]

    three other Post sources only say they “believed Barr could have been spurred by long-standing tensions” between his office and SDNY—again, seemingly due to Barr’s insistence that he be read into the loop on the status of investigations touching on Trump’s allies, and SDNY’s reluctance to do so due to the obvious stink of corruption in the requests.

    That’s all fine and well, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Barr did not just want Berman out of his office, and immediately: He also sought to install a personal friend in the role, and bypass laws governing who Berman’s acting successor would be, and went so far as to invent a resignation when Berman was not willing to go along with the move. […]

    As the Post’s Aaron Blake points out, in offering Berman a job within the main Justice Department to convince him to vacate his post, Barr has demolished any pretense that Barr’s move was based on “job performance issues.” Barr did not want Berman to go because Berman was not performing up to the task or even because Barr, personally, did not want to work with him. Barr wanted Berman to go because he wanted a loyalist in the role.

    Berman seems to believe the same. He resigned only when Barr acquiesced, allowing Berman’s non-political, non-Barr-lapdog deputy to take over the position as the law indicated. […]

    House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler has already indicated that Berman will be summoned to testify on these events, and soon. There still seems no urgency to force Barr’s own testimony, however, part of a continued reluctance on the part of the committee and House Democrats to truly pressure Barr on even the most brazenly corrupt moves, whether it be the gassing of a peaceful protest on Trump’s apparent orders or the order to drop charges against Trump ally Michael Flynn outright. That is not good enough. The premise by House Democrats appears to be that no matter what criminality Barr and Trump get up to, it can be tolerated until November under an assumption that it can later be undone.

    […] Barr’s corrupt acts are focused on paving the way for further corruption by Trump […] And Barr’s current acts, sabotaging each federal probe into potential Trump criminality one-by-one, will have consequences that an election cannot so easily paper over.

    Link

  216. says

    More than 100 former Manhattan prosecutors condemn Berman firing

    […] At least 135 former U.S. attorneys and assistant U.S. attorneys signed an open letter saying they “deplore” […] Trump and Attorney General William Barr’s firing of Berman “without cause,” according to a letter obtained by Corporate Crime Reporter.

    “The actions of the President and the Attorney General are an attack on the concept that investigations should be conducted in a nonpartisan manner,” the former prosecutors said. “They are politicizing an office that for more than 200 years has remained apolitical, and are undermining confidence in our criminal justice system.”

    “We call on our elected officials – Republicans and Democrats alike – to take all appropriate action to protect the administration of justice in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere from this kind of political interference,” the letter continued.

    The former prosecutors cite that the SDNY was the first federal attorney’s office and has “stood for the independence of the administration of Justice” for more than 200 years.

    “The impartial administration of Justice is what distinguishes the United States from authoritarian regimes around the world and is fundamental to our democracy,” the letter reads. “[Trump] and the Attorney General have put this long and important tradition at risk.”

    The letter also referenced former national security adviser John Bolton’s interview set to air on ABC Sunday night, in which he said the president proposed intervening in an SDNY investigation into the Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank.

    In a preview clip, Bolton said [Trump] had discussed the case with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who wanted a settlement for the bank, which was charged in a six-count criminal indictment with fraud, money laundering and sanction offenses.

    “And [Trump] said to Erdoğan at one point, ‘Look, those prosecutors in New York are Obama people. Wait till I get my people in, and then we’ll take care of this,’” he said. […]

  217. says

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    The American people are owed answers about why President Trump wants less testing when experts say much more is needed.

    Testing, tracing, treatment and social distancing are the only tools we have to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but President Trump orders his Administration to slow down the testing that saves lives.

    The President’s efforts to slow down desperately needed testing to hide the true extent of the virus mean more Americans will lose their lives.

    [Trump is] ethically unfit and intellectually unprepared to lead.

  218. says

    From Eric Lach, writing for The New Yorker:

    […]

    In Tulsa, Trump seemed to be enjoying himself. He was doing his arm flaps and his struts and his small-mouthed yelling like it was the summer of 2016. (He even took some shots at Hillary Clinton.) But the past few months have made his limitations more visible than ever. He’s been unable to shout down a virus, or to make protests a wedge issue. What will Trump be able to campaign on in the months ahead? The public has sided with the people demonstrating in the streets. Polls show that large majorities of Americans believe that racism is a major problem in the country. This is a change. And, as much as it is an accomplishment of the Black Lives Matter movement, it might also have something to do with the special, public abuse that the man in the White House has unleashed these past five years on black people, Muslims, Latinos, and Asian-Americans. (Not to mention women, the disabled, and gay and trans people. The list is long.) Meanwhile, on Saturday, even before Trump was finished giving his speech, people were sharing clips on social media of maga-clad fans in the audience, yawning as their President rattled on.

    Link

  219. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Art teacher arrested at Trump rally plans to fight charge
    By Ziva Branstetter
    June 21, 2020

    When Sheila Buck left her apartment two blocks from President Trump’s rally Saturday, she knew she might provoke some people with her black “I can’t breathe” T-shirt. She wound up handcuffed in a jail cell for hours, as video of her arrest played on television.

    Buck had reserved a ticket to Trump’s rally days earlier. She planned to attend to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, despite the risk to her health and safety.

    A little after noon on Saturday, she showed her ticket to police and stepped into the outdoor area cordoned off for the event. When she knelt down to pray, she was asked to leave. When she refused, she was arrested at the request of the Trump campaign…

    During a decade teaching art in predominantly black elementary schools in Tulsa, Buck said, she witnessed many episodes of discrimination directed toward her students. “I have seen how they’re treated when I took them on field trips,” the 62-year-old Catholic school art teacher said. “This was a chance for me to have my voice heard.”

    As she approached the black metal gates surrounding a swath of downtown Tulsa near the BOK Center, where Trump would later speak, Buck said, she told police she had a ticket to the event and held up her phone.

    “They said, ‘You don’t need a ticket, we’re letting you in, first come first served.’ And so I just walked through the barrier.”

    She said she knelt down to pray and was approached by uniformed Tulsa police and law enforcement officials who she said appeared to be Secret Service, dressed in plainclothes and wearing ear pieces.

    “They said, ‘You’re not allowed in here,’ and I said, ‘Yes I am, I have a ticket.’”

    Police told her the blocks around the city-owned arena are “like a private home, and if you’ve been asked to leave, you have to leave.’”

    She told police she had as much right to be there, in a public street blocks from her own home, as the president. “I said, ‘I live in Tulsa. This is my home. This is my country,’ and I was praying … and they arrested me, handcuffed me and shoved me away,” Buck said…

    Tulsa Police Capt. Richard Meulenberg said Trump campaign staffers directed police to arrest Buck because the event permit included the city streets surrounding the area…

    Meulenberg said he had not seen contract language that allowed the campaign to direct police to arrest citizens but added, “They basically have that area, and they can pick and choose whom they want.”

    The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  220. blf says

    Teh moolsins are coming! Something called teh Islam is comming!! It’s gonna nuke Tennessee!!! Brahahahahhhaaaa!!!1! Tennessee paper religious ad claims ‘Islam’ will detonate nuclear bomb in Nashville:

    […]
    A Tennessee newspaper said on Sunday it was investigating what its editor called a “horrific” full-page advertisement from a religious group that predicts a terrorist attack in Nashville next month.

    The paid advertisement that appeared in Sunday’s editions of the Tennessean from the group Future For America claims Donald Trump is the final president of the USA and features a photo of Trump and Pope Francis.

    It begins by claiming that a nuclear device will be detonated in Nashville and that the attack will be carried out by unspecific interests of “Islam”.

    The group also ran a full-page ad in Wednesday’s editions of the newspaper stating its intention to warn Nashville residents about next month’s event so that they may be able to make a decision intelligently.

    […]

    “Clearly there was a breakdown in the normal processes, which call for careful scrutiny of our advertising content,” [vice-president and editor Michael] Anastasi said.

    “The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances. It is wrong, period, and should have never been published. It has hurt members of our community and our own employees and that saddens me beyond belief. It is inconsistent with everything the Tennessean as an institution stands and has stood for.”

    […]

    It was not immediately known how much Future for America paid for the ads.

    According to its website, the group’s ministry warns of so-called end-of-the-world Bible prophecies whose fulfillment is no longer future — for it is taking place before our eyes.

    […]

    A snippet from the nutcases’s current (July 2020) newsletter at their website (which I won’t link to):

    […] We have spoken much about the USA being struck by Islam on July 18, 2020, but the prophetic word identifies that it will happen a second time on December 25, 2021. Then the USA will surrender its national sovereignty and lead the world into a modern League of Nations. At that point, the Jesuits will have assassinated the USA just as they did Abraham Lincoln. It is at the second nuclear event that the USA will die by the sword that they began to live by in 1945, the year the United Nations was established, and a year that represents the 45th president of the USA. […] This final crisis will be over the mark of papal authority, which the papacy claims is based on its ability to lead the entire Christian world to accept the pagan worship day of the sun in place of God’s Seventh-day Sabbath. The war for the USA began with a surprise attack by Japan, and that war included a weapon called Kamikazes. Surprise attacks are symbolic of Islam. […]
      The word kamikaze means divine wind and Islam is represented as the east wind. [… T]he little backwoods spot in Tennessee, now known as Oak Ridge, began to fulfill the vision set forth decades before. […] Before the allies would agree to such a terrible attack, they sent Japan a warning to surrender. That warning was called the Potsdam Declaration and it was sent on July 26, 1945, but Japan never received it until July 27, 1945. July 27 is a symbol of Islam, based on many witnesses. Japan rejected the warning message, will you?
    […]
      Every historical marker from “The Potsdam Declaration” until the surrender took place on a date that represents Islam or the Midnight Cry. The Bible informs us that based on two or three witnesses a thing is established. The Midnight Cry of our history is identifying a nuclear attack. It is identifying Islam and judgment and based on three witnesses it will include the day, the month, and year in that warning.

    And on and on and on. Pages and pages of such drivel.
    I didn’t see Mein Kampf in their bookstore, but it’s probably there someplace.

  221. blf says

    ‘State-sanctioned violence’: US police fail to meet basic human rights standards:

    Report finds not one police department in the 20 largest American cities are compliant with international rights laws

    Police in America’s biggest cities are failing to meet even the most basic international human rights standards governing the use of lethal force, a new study from the University of Chicago has found.

    Researchers in the university’s law school put the lethal use-of-force policies of police in the 20 largest US cities under the microscope. They found not a single police department was operating under guidelines that are compliant with the minimum standards laid out under international human rights laws.

    Among the failings identified by the law scholars, some police forces violate the requirement that lethal force should only be wielded when facing an immediate threat and as a last resort. Some departments allow deadly responses in cases of “escaping suspects”, “fugitives”, or “prevention of crime” — all scenarios that would be deemed to fall well outside the boundaries set by international law.

    In other cities, police guidelines failed to constrain officers to use only as much force as is proportionate to the threat confronting them.

    Remarkably, the researchers from the law school’s international human rights clinic discovered that none of the 20 police departments were operating under state laws that were in accord with human rights standards.

    America’s biggest police forces lack legality, the study finds, because they are not answerable to human rights compliant laws authorizing the use of lethal force.

    “The fact that police forces in the biggest US cities don’t meet very basic human rights standards is deeply concerning,” said Claudia Flores, the clinic’s director.

    The Chicago study underlines how far policing in America is adrift from international norms, making the US a lonely outlier on the world stage. Across Europe, policing policies are much more closely aligned with human rights directives.

    In Spain, for instance, officers have to use verbal cautions and fire warning shots before they are permitted to aim at anybody. Chokeholds have been banned in Europe for many years. [NO, they are not banned here in France — they were, briefly, earlier this year, but the policegoon union(s?) forced a U-turn –blf]

    […]

    The need for restrictions on police power has been recognized in international law for 40 years. Two basic human rights are involved: the right to life and personal security, and the right of freedom from discrimination. Those rights have also been enshrined in core United Nations standards. All 193 member nations of the UN, including the US, have signed up to a code of conduct for law enforcement officials adopted in 1979.

    […]

    When things go wrong, the Chicago study also found that police use-of-force policies fall woefully short on accountability. All 20 city forces were found to have internal systems for reporting the deployment of lethal force, but only two — Los Angeles and Chicago — require independent external investigations to be carried out in tune with international standards.

    […]

    Of the 20 cities, the police forces of Chicago and Los Angeles are at the top end of the table in terms of the degree to which they comply with human rights laws. At the bottom is Indianapolis, in the state of Indiana whose governor between 2013 and 2017 was Mike Pence […].

    The Indianapolis PD ranks so badly because it breaches international standards on numerous counts. It allows the use of lethal force to prevent a felony being carried out – without specifying what kind of felony.

    Its rules carry no mention of the need for force to be proportional to the danger. It also makes no requirement on police officers to apply an escalating set of measures before they reach the point of lethal force — Indianapolis only talks about issuing a “verbal warning, if feasible”.

  222. says

    Guardian – “‘The power of volume’: Africa unites to lower cost of Covid-19 tests and PPE”:

    African countries have pulled together to set up a one-stop shop to give the continent a fairer chance in the international scramble for Covid-19 test kits, protective equipment and any vaccines that emerge.

    The Africa Medical Supplies Platform will work like eBay or Amazon, unlocking access to supplies across the continent, and could save billions of pounds.

    South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said it was the “silver lining” to Covid-19, and “the glue that is going to bind the continent together”.

    It “will address shortages and security of supply, ensure price competitiveness and transparency in procurement, reduce logistical delays, simplify payment processes and provide a common platform where governments can access services from quality and certified suppliers”, Ramaphosa said during the digital launch.

    Ramaphosa spoke in his capacity as African Union chair after tasking Zimbabwean mobile mogul and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa to come up with solutions to the shortage of test kits.

    Lockdowns are already being lifted to stimulate flagging economies even as coronavirus infections are on the rise.

    “Testing and lockdown are two sides of the same coin,” Masiyiwa said.

    Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, said lockdowns are losing the continent an estimated $65bn (£52.6bn) a month. “If we can use a third of this amount to test, we don’t have to lock down. This platform could save us $40bn [in losses],” she said.

    The platform is set to be run as a non-profit by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia and Afreximbank in Egypt, which is already managing a $3.8bn Covid-19 fund for the continent….

    Ethiopian Airways and South African Airways will help with shipments to hubs like Addis Ababa and Johannesburg so that volumes can be leveraged to lower costs, Masiyiwa said. While preference will be given to continental suppliers such as South African company Invicta, which has pledged to supply 10,000 inexpensive ventilators, or Senegal’s $1 rapid test kits, supplies will also be shipped from countries like China.

    “What we do is demonstrate the power of volume, which we as Africa always have known we can unleash,” Masiyiwa said….

    The platform was initially piloted to supply drugs to prevent maternal and child deaths and as an early demonstration of how the yet-to-be-launched African continental free trade area agreement can leverage the collective market of Africa’s 1.3 billion people. The free trade area was supposed to come into effect on 1 July, but this was delayed by six months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  223. says

    From yesterday’s Guardian US news liveblog:

    White House confirms Trump will tour border wall construction on Tuesday

    The White House has confirmed Donald Trump will visit the Arizona border on Tuesday to commemorate the completion of 200 miles of wall along America’s southern border with Mexico.

    This wil[l] mark Trump’s second visit in as many months to Arizona, which has emerged as a key battleground state ahead of the November general election.

    Trump’s visit comes at a time when coronavirus cases in Arizona have nearly doubled in the last two weeks.

    Arizona health officials reported 2,592 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 52,390. On 7 June, the state reported 26,989 total cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

    Following a stopover in Yuma to inspect the long-promised border wall, Trump will head to Phoenix to deliver “an address to young Americans”.

    “The President promised to build a strong border wall system and he continues to deliver on his promises,” the White House said last week in a statement. “His Administration continues to take bold, decisive action to safeguard our nation. A strong border system also combats the heinous human trafficking and exploitation of children and vulnerable populations by cartels.”

  224. says

    Reuters – “Threat of Brazil military coup unfounded, retired generals say”:

    Calls for Brazil’s military to close Congress and the Supreme Court have screamed from banners at marches attended by President Jair Bolsonaro in recent weeks, but retired generals and close observers of the armed forces call it empty talk.

    A defender of Brazil’s 1964 military coup and the two decades of dictatorship that followed, Bolsonaro has allowed his sons and supporters to fan threats against democratic institutions in part because he has been backed into a corner, analysts say.

    As the right-wing populist struggles with a sinking economy, the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak outside the United States, and police investigations targeting his family and friends, those anti-democratic outbursts seem likely to continue.

    However, three retired generals told Reuters in recent days that there was no risk of a military intervention and expressed concern that the armed forces were being unduly politicized under Bolsonaro, a former army captain disciplined in 1986 for insubordination.

    “The idea of ​​putting the armed forces in the middle of a dispute between branches of the state, authorities and political interests is completely out of place,” said Carlos dos Santos Cruz, a retired army general who served in the cabinet last year until he fell out with Bolsonaro’s sons.

    “It is a lack of respect for the armed forces,” he told Reuters.

    The threats of democratic rupture are aimed at intimidating rivals, prosecutors, and the Supreme Court, according to political scientist Christian Lynch. But military commanders have publicly dismissed any likelihood of a coup.

    “The Supreme Court called Bolsonaro’s bluff,” said Lynch, a professor at Rio de Janeiro State University Social and Political Studies Institute. “He didn’t have the coup card. He was bluffing all along.”

    For retired General Roberto Peternelli, who was elected to Congress in 2018 for the same party that nominated Bolsonaro, the military would simply not obey a presidential order to shut down Congress or the Supreme Court.

    “The armed forces totally respect the constitution and such an order would be unconstitutional and illegal,” said the ex-paratrooper, who commanded the Brazilian army’s helicopter fleet, in a telephone interview.

    Retired General Paulo Chagas, a former infantry officer, said the president did not have the power to close Congress or the top court and would lose legitimacy if he attempted it.

    Some critics say Bolsonaro is already politicizing the military, which worked for decades to establish itself as an apolitical defender of democracy after the human rights abuses of the 1964-1985 dictatorship.

    With military brass in a third of Bolsonaro’s cabinet posts, including two active duty generals among his closest advisors and retired General Hamilton Mourao as his vice president, the reputation of the armed forces is tied up with the government.

    According to a Federal Audit Court investigation, there are now as many as 3,000 military personnel in government jobs.

    Paulo Kramer, a University of Brasilia professor who knows many of Bolsonaro’s cabinet well, said the generals who are in the cabinet, such as top security advisor Augusto Heleno, remember vividly how the legacy of the 1964 coup stained the reputation of the armed forces.

    “This generation of General Mourao and Heleno are vaccinated against any coup attempts. They feel uneasy when the president and his sons make those threats,” Kramer said.

  225. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt for decades, the World Health Organization’s director-general warned an online conference today, after the WHO reported a record increase in global cases on Sunday.

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual health forum organised by Dubai authorities that the greatest threat facing the world was “the lack of global solidarity and global leadership”. He said:

    We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world. The politicisation of the pandemic has exacerbated it. None of us is safe until all of us are safe.

    The total number of cases rose by 183,020 on Sunday. While Europe is easing lockdowns, Covid-19, which has killed more than 465,000 people and infected almost nine million worldwide, is surging in the Americas and parts of Asia.

    Tedros said:

    The pandemic is still accelerating. We know that the pandemic is much more than a health crisis, it is an economic crisis, a social crisis, and in many countries a political crisis. Its effects will be felt for decades to come.

  226. blf says

    Follow-up to @204, Fear mounts Trump may pressure FDA to rush Covid-19 vaccine by election:

    Concerns rise after White House attacked agency for reversing itself on an experimental drug treatment

    Concerns that Donald Trump’s inner circle might pressure the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rush a coronavirus vaccine to market in time for the presidential election have risen after the White House attacked the agency for reversing itself on an experimental drug treatment.

    Critics say that the FDA’s decision in April to approve hydroxychloroquine for emergency use — an approval that the agency revoked last Monday — demonstrated that the regulator is vulnerable to political pressure from the White House.

    But other outside experts said that regulatory approval for any vaccine would require a degree of data transparency that would prevent the process from being unduly rushed.

    […]

    “The worry here is that they will use the emergency use authorization standard” to approve a vaccine, said Ezekiel Emanuel, a medical professor at the University of Pennsylvania and former Obama White House health policy adviser.

    “And if you give it to people and they think ‘Wow, I’ve got the vaccine now,’ they’re likely not to physically distance, wear face masks. And then if it doesn’t actually work, Oh! We’ve got a disaster on our hands.”

    And now (below) for the expert who doesn’t seem to get how malicious dangerous and dishonest hair furor and his dalekocray is:

    […]
    Wayne Koff, president of the Human Vaccines Project, said he did not think “there’s going to be political pressure” to rush vaccine approval. “Because I think the data is going to be transparent, as all the data has been in this field,” Koff said.

    But others fear that with the approach of the November election, regulators could come under unprecedented pressure to deliver winning headlines for Trump.

    […]

    Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, has attacked the FDA in wild terms for its reversal on hydroxychloroquine, which the agency now says is “unlikely to be effective in treating Covid-19” and could have “potential serious side effects”.

    This is a Deep State blindside by bureaucrats who hate the administration they work for more than they’re concerned about saving American lives, Navarro told the New York Times.

    […]

    Other powerful pressures will be in play as the Trump administration strives to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020, the marquee promise of the vaccine drive called Operation Warp Speed.

    By elevating certain vaccine candidates, the Trump administration exercises immense power over which products may eventually be brought to market — and which companies cover their growing at-risk investments in research and production.

    Five vaccine candidates were selected by the Trump administration earlier this month to receive millions of dollars in funding and priority status in upcoming trials involving tens of thousands of patients to test the candidates’ efficacy.

    Operation Warp Speed, which is overseen by Jared Kushner […], has issued no public standards or explanations for which vaccine candidates received priority and why.

    “It’s been so chaotic, and it’s not even transparent to those of us who are trying to help out,” an unnamed source linked to Warp Speed told Science Magazine’s Jon Cohen of the candidate selection process.

    [… more details about Operation anoint hair furor]

    Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner under Trump, questioned why the group of “finalist” vaccine candidates elevated by HHS did not include any traditional vaccine platforms, which use inactivated or attenuated virus to provoke an immune response. The vaccines advanced so far by HHS use novel genetics platforms.

    “There’s no sort of old-style technology in this mix,” Gottlieb said on CNBC. “I’m surprised… because if you want to spread your bets, you probably want to spread your bets across different platforms. And they chose very novel platforms.”

    […]

    An FDA spokesperson said the agency would “thoroughly evaluate the data submitted in support of a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, and will approve a vaccine for the prevention of Covid-19 only if the FDA determines that it is safe and effective for its intended use.”[]

    But concerns persisted that the agency had caved on hydroxychloroquine and might do so again on vaccines. In the event the FDA appeared to be doing so, scientists might have a limited ability to raise the alarm, said Emanuel.

    “This administration — they have objectives that aren’t necessarily adhering to what scientists like me say, right?” Emanuel said. “I mean that’s the problem here.”

      † Not set in eejit quotes because that is, broadly, part of what the FDA does. Nonetheless, it is enmeshed-inside teh dalekocrazy, so my confidence they won’t be further compromised is very very low.

  227. blf says

    Hair “bouncing dead cat” furor tries to distract (from the Grauniad’s current live States politics / pandemic blog):

    Here comes an attempt at a dead cat bounce, of a sort, it being that thing where a scandal-ridden politician lobs something shocking on the table and cries, “Look! A dead cat!” and everyone looks so the pressure on the other thing goes away.

    Trump on Twitter this morning (capitals author’s own): RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!

    There is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to mass, or even more than very rare, voter fraud, involving foreign countries or not. Trump himself has both voted by mail and tried to do so using the wrong address. Republican secretaries of state across the country (and Democrats, obviously) have mailed out ballots to voters living under a pandemic. Election infrastructure is already subject to chaos, shortages and abuse which can depress turnout and disproportionately affect minorities. In general, Republicans benefit from lower turnout. Trump is well behind Joe Biden in national polls and most polls in battleground states. […]

  228. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    After more than 100 days of lockdown, New York City residents have been celebrating their progress in curbing the coronavirus pandemic by getting their first haircuts in months, shopping at long-closed stores, and dining at outdoor cafes.

    Once the epicentre of the global outbreak, New York City was the last region in the state to move into Phase 2 of reopening with restaurants and bars offering outdoor service and many shops reopening.

    Barber shops and hair salons welcomed customers for the first time since mid-March on Monday, Reuters reports.

    Playgrounds were also due to reopen in the most populous U.S. city. The pandemic has killed nearly 120,000 Americans.

    At the same time, a dozen states in the South and Southwest reported record increases in new coronavirus cases – and often record increases in hospitalizations as well, a metric not affected by more testing.

    The number of new cases rose by a record last week in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, together home to about a third of the U.S. population. Alabama, Georgia, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming also experienced record spikes in cases.

    Cuomo is considering a quarantine for people traveling to New York from Florida, and said this morning on MSNBC that he’s discussing it with other regional governors (i.e., it looks like it could be a regional requirement). I saw the mayor of Miami Francis Suarez (a Republican who got coronavirus at Mar-a-Lago the fateful weekend of the Brazilian delegation visit) on recently. He’s long favored shutting down flights.

  229. says

    For months during the pandemic, the White House has been doing temperature checks & asking health Qs of all journalists entering the grounds. For some reason, that wasn’t the case today. Tents normally staffed during business hours for these screenings are being taken down.”

    Several members of Trump’s advance team (I’m unclear on whether it was four campaign staffers and two Secret Service agents or six campaign staffers and two Secret Service agents) tested positive the day before yesterday. This is not a safe workplace.

  230. says

    Ari Berman:

    Top Republicans who voted by mail or requested absentee ballots:

    Trump
    Pence
    Melania
    Ivanka
    Jared
    Kellyanne
    Barr
    McEnany
    Azar
    Kudlow
    Ross
    Esper
    McDaniel

    GOP only opposes mail voting when Democrats use it

  231. Akira MacKenzie says

    @346

    And when rational, pro-science-based-medicine lefties express skepticism about a rushed, politically-motivated “vaccine,” Trump and his conspiracy kook supporters will point and scream “anti-vaxxers” at us.

    I hate this reality.

  232. says

    From text quoted by blf @346,

    Operation Warp Speed, which is overseen by Jared Kushner

    And, of course, that is terribly reassuring.

    We see the usual chaos, incompetence, (or at the very least, mismanagement), that is the signature modus operandi of the Trump administration. No transparency, possibly choosing the wrong vaccine candidates to support with federal dollars, lack of follow-up, not enough experts making the decisions, etc.

    But we have Jared.

    I hate to think that the vaccine development and distribution stage of this pandemic is also going to be a trumpian clusterfuck … but it sure looks like that is what we will see in the near future.

  233. says

    Bolton gets good news and bad news from federal judge

    “Bolton was no doubt pleased the judge cleared the way for the book’s release, but there’s no reason to assume his legal troubles are over.”

    With former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book scheduled to be released tomorrow, the Trump administration went to court to block its publication. That didn’t turn out especially well for the White House — though the proceedings weren’t a total win for Bolton, either. NBC News reported:

    A federal judge declined the Justice Department’s request for an order delaying publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book about his 17 months in President Donald Trump’s administration. In a 10-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth sharply criticizes Bolton and while he suggests that the national security concerns may indeed be valid, he rejects the government’s argument that an injunction would be effective at this point given its already-wide circulation and discussion in the media.

    On the surface, this was the outcome Bolton and his lawyers wanted to see: the Trump administration wanted to block the release of the book, and a federal judge rejected the argument. Barring some 11th-hour development, The Room Where It Happened will be available to the public tomorrow. […]

    “Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States,” the judge concluded. “He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability. But these facts do not control the motion before the Court. The government has failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm. Its motion is accordingly DENIED.”

    With this in mind, the president was in a celebratory mood, despite the fact that his administration failed to block the book. “BIG COURT WIN against Bolton,” Trump wrote on Twitter. He added, “Bolton broke the law and has been called out and rebuked for so doing, with a really big price to pay. He likes dropping bombs on people, and killing them. Now he will have bombs dropped on him!”

    So, what happens now? NBC News’ report concluded:

    Lamberth conducted a review late Friday, out of public view, of the information the government claimed is classified. Although the judge declined to delay the book’s publication, the government’s lawsuit remains alive, partly because it also seeks an order seizing any profits Bolton earns from the book. Lamberth will have to decide whether the book did, in fact, contain classified information and whether Bolton abided by all the requirements for review.

    […]

  234. says

    Yeah, this is very trumpian:

    Ahead of the president’s rally in Tulsa on Saturday night, six members of Trump’s campaign staff — each of whom were in Tulsa to help set up the rally — tested positive for the coronavirus.

    [Trump] was reportedly “fuming,” not about the six positive test results, but about the fact that the public learned about the six positive test results.

  235. says

    Voter suppression efforts in Kentucky:

    As Kentucky gets ready for its Primary Day tomorrow, the Washington Post reports, “Fewer than 200 polling places will be open for voters in Kentucky’s primary Tuesday, down from 3,700 in a typical election year. Amid a huge influx in requests for mail-in ballots, some voters still had not received theirs days before they must be turned in. And turnout is expected to be higher than in past primaries because of a suddenly competitive fight for the Democratic Senate nomination.”

  236. blf says

    Lynna@355, I haven’t looked into this — and do not have any expertise in the matter myself — but since apparently all the possible-vaccines under development supported by operation re-anoint hair furor use “novel platforms”, I speculate they would need additional testing, which might further delay proof-of-safety (at least).

    One possibly good thing about Jared overlooking operation re-anoint hair furor is that he and his cronies are liable to feck-up any attempt to credit hair furor. (You know hair furor will take full credit.) What hasn’t he fecked-up? (Of course, if it just so happens the vaccine is safe and even just somewhat effective, the presumed & probable fecking-up of the distribution, etc., would be, as you say, a disaster.)

    Sadly, as you say, the same-ish points apply to a vaccine which is not part of operation re-anoint hair furor.

    Also (I didn’t excerpt this bit in @346), at least some of the operation re-anoint hair furor is going to rather dubious concerns / candidates (you didn’t think otherwise, did you?): An alleged candidate-vaccine not on WHO’s list, and another one being developed by a company associated with one of the operation re-anoint hair furor board members (this one could be legit, but still…).

  237. says

    Oh, look! Proper organization and preparation!

    Biden’s team has asked Ted Kaufman, a longtime aide to [Biden], to help lead a transition team, and NBC News reports that Kaufman has “tapped a half-dozen government veterans to work with him as part of a formal transition operation.”

    I wish Mr. Kaufman well. I wish all the government veterans and experts well. They have a lot of work to do.

  238. says

    Follow-up to comment 347 (blf).

    White House’s ‘foreign’ ballot theory crumbles under scrutiny

    U.S. mail-in ballots can’t be printed by foreign governments, but Trump, in a bit of a panic, wants you to believe the opposite.

    [snipped Trump’s all-caps tweet, see comment 347] it was just a few weeks ago when Attorney General Bill Barr floated a theory [that raised] the prospect of foreign governments conspiring to mail in fake ballots. The Republican lawyer had no evidence to substantiate the claim, but he added that he’s “real worried” about foreign countries “that could easily make counterfeit ballots, put names on them, send them in. And it’d be very hard to sort out what’s happening.”

    Since Trump apparently expects the public to take this seriously, let’s circle back and review why this is foolish.

    States that have already embraced postal balloting have implemented safeguards, including bar codes, that make the prospect of a foreign actor “easily making counterfeit ballots” impossible.

    What’s more, vote-by-mail programs rely on signed security envelopes that, again, prevent the scenario the attorney general described. The Washington Post reported recently that elections officials in multiple states “said it would be virtually impossible for a foreign government to achieve what Barr described.”

    States use a variety of safeguards to confirm the validity of mail ballots. In about half the states, ballot envelopes bear a tracking bar code or tally mark that is unique to each voter. About 15 states require signatures to be matched against voter registration. Ballots are rejected if they are not sent in regulation envelopes that vary widely from state to state in format, size and paper stock. And there is little chance, administrators said, that election officials would not detect a surge of duplicate ballots arriving from the same voter.

    The article quoted Colorado’s elections chief saying “there is zero chance” Barr’s — and now Trump’s — theory could happen in reality.

    And yet, it’s a near certainty that the president and his team will continue to repeat the claim anyway.

    I would not say “impossible,” but “extremely unlikely.”

    Besides, foreign actors who want to influence elections in the USA have easier, tried and true methods.

  239. says

    blf, @359, if Team Trump gets any of the vaccine development and distribution right, it will be by luck. Or maybe real experts will manage to go around Team Trump to get the job done. Or maybe other countries not burdened by the Hair Furor Millstone-Around-Our-Necks will succeed with a vaccine, and then Trump can just buy it from them (or try to get it from them with multiple threats).

    I do expect any, even small, success having to do with vaccines will be trumpeted by Trump.

    We are in an odd situation, hoping fervently for successful vaccine development and distribution, but seeing before our eyes that Trump is increasing the likelihood that the USA will fail.

  240. says

    A president who wants to remain in power, but who won’t say why

    In the wake of Donald Trump’s Campaign Kickoff 2.0, he reminded voters that he has no real agenda and doesn’t much care about governing.

    “We begin! We begin!” Donald Trump said at the start of his campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday night. “We begin our campaign.” The line may have made the president feel better — he was, in effect, trying to re-launch his re-election bid — but he actually began his campaign in Orlando, almost exactly one year to the day earlier.

    On June 18, 2019, Trump officially kicked off his 2020 campaign on a Florida stage, where he seemed preoccupied with the 2016 campaign: NBC News’ Monica Alba noted that the president mentioned Hillary Clinton at least seven times in the span of about 30 minutes. The president could’ve taken the opportunity to present his vision for the future, or share with his supporters the kind of priorities he’d fight for if given a second term, but at his official campaign launch, Trump offered nothing of the kind.

    The president said in Orlando that he wanted a second term, and that he believed he’s entitled to a second term, but at no point did he give any indication of what he intended to do with a second term.

    One year and two days later, Trump took the stage in Tulsa for what was effectively his second attempt at a campaign kickoff. Or put another way, the president who had no second-term agenda as of last June had 368 days to come up with some kind of governing vision.

    By all appearances, he didn’t even try. In Oklahoma, [Trump] offered falsehoods, racial grievances, and ill-considered “jokes,” but he never got around to saying what he intended to do if the electorate rewarded him with another term.

    This wasn’t an oversight; it was evidence of a president who can’t bring himself to care about governing. […]

    Consider this striking statistic: over the course of his 103-minute speech, the president spent one-eighth of his time whining about coverage of his appearance at West Point last weekend. Trump didn’t spend any of his time, however, engaging in the major issues of the day or laying out priorities for a second term in the White House. […]

  241. blf says

    Follow-up to KG@330, ‘Everybody hurts’: Trump’s sad ‘walk of shame’ after Tulsa rally delights critics:

    Video of Trump disembarking Marine One after lower than expected turnout as his campaign rally has been captioned, narrated and set to music in memes

    […]

    A video of Trump disembarking Marine One back in Washington later that night captured the seemingly exhausted and defeated tenor of the president perfectly.

    @howardfineman: “This picture of #Trump at Andrews after the #Tulsa disaster is unlike any we’ve ever seen. Ever the dime-store dramaturg, he’s undone his tie and put on the look of a defeated man. He thinks he’s crafting a new script as a Comeback Kid. He doesn’t realize that he really HAS lost.
    https://twitter.com/howardfineman/status/1274837066724098048

    Naturally Trump critics were quick to make sport of the video and still pictures from the “walk of shame.” [… many examples…]

    This morning, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted on Fox News that Trump was actually happy with the sleepy, low energy crowd. The president was not angry at all, she said. The president was quite energized. I was with him after the rally. It was a huge success. His speech got rave reviews. He was in good spirits on Marine One.

    Ms McEnany, I know a Nigerian prince who owns many toll bridges in places like New York, London, Tokyo, Paris. He needs to raise money quickly. He has specially selected you as the ideal new owner, and will sell you his entire multizillion portofolio for a pittance…

  242. says

    ‘Uhhhhh’ Trump falters as reporter pins him down on whether he slowed COVID-19 testing

    Trump used a whole lot of words to refuse to say “no” when asked if he really told his administration to slow down coronavirus testing. During his flop of a Tulsa rally Saturday, Trump had bragged about doing exactly that, saying “testing is a double-edged sword” and “when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people; you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down please.” White House officials had claimed Trump was joking, except that it sure didn’t look like he was, and the statement was in line with other things he’s said about the negatives he perceives in testing.

    Asked about it on Monday, Trump tried to deflect and dodge, but it was Trump, so he also fumbled and stumbled and confirmed that his view is that testing causes cases. “If it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you wanna know the truth. We’ve done too good of a job,” he ultimately said.

    But it was what came immediately before that line that was the most telling. Trump had been rambling on about how “Every time you do a test, it shows more and more cases” and “You’re showing people that are asymptomatic, you’re showing people that have very little problem, you’re showing young people that don’t have a problem.”

    The reporter finally moved to pin him down: “But did you ask to slow it down?”

    And the most telling moment, more telling than the flood of words that had come before, was the “Uhhhhh” Trump started his response with, before moving on to the non-denial of “If it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you wanna know the truth. We’ve done too good of a job.”

    Watch that “Uhhhh.” It’s at 44 seconds into the video below. [video is available at the link]
    […]

  243. says

    Trump says his niece is ‘not allowed’ to write a mean book about him: She ‘signed a nondisclosure'”

    Today we learned that Donald Trump, who is a garbage human being […] is mad at his niece for writing a mean book about him because, he says, she signed a nondisclosure agreement with him and is “not allowed” to do that. Yes, his own niece. Of course.

    Axios reports that in an interview, Trump insisted his niece, Mary L. Trump, author of the upcoming Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man is “not allowed to write a book.” Evidently referring to the brutal legal fights in the family when Donald’s garbage father died, Trump said: “When we settled, she has a total […] signed a nondisclosure.” And that it is a “very powerful” nondisclosure. The one he has with his niece. Who he hates.

    This is, of course, unsurprising. Trump’s cruelty towards the rest of his extended family has already been documented (see: attempting to kill off Mary’s half-brother in an act of sociopathic revenge), his insistence on nondisclosures is obsessive and legendary […]

    It seems difficult to believe that Mary Trump would write a book subtitled “How my family created the world’s most dangerous man” if the only outcome were severe financial harm. […] according to Vanity Fair, she is “very determined” to see the book released. Maybe the “severe financial harm” part was considered acceptable collateral damage. (It’s also not clear how much money Mary L. Trump and brother Fred III got in the settlement Donald is referring to, but knowing Donald, it might not be as much as, say, the book advance for writing a tell-all about Typhoid Hitler.) […]

  244. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Johnson and May ignored claims Russia had ‘likely hold’ over Trump, ex-spy alleges (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Christopher Steele claims May government turned blind eye to Trump allegations

    [Current PM] Boris Johnson and [former PM] Theresa May ignored claims the Kremlin had a “likely hold” over Donald Trump and may have covertly funded Brexit, the former spy Christopher Steele alleges in secret evidence given to MPs who drew up the Russia report.

    In testimony to MPs, the MI6 veteran accused the government led by May and in which Johnson was foreign secretary for two years of turning a blind eye to allegations about Trump because they were afraid of offending the US president [sic].

    Steele first presented a dossier about Trump to senior UK intelligence figures in late 2016, who he says took it seriously at first. But, he writes, “on reaching top political decision-makers, a blanket appeared to be thrown over it”.

    “No inquiries were made or actions taken thereafter on the substance of the intelligence in the dossier by HMG {Her Majesty’s government},” Steele says in the critical document.

    The allegation is contained in a short summary of a larger file of information presented in August 2018 by Steele to parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), inquiring into Kremlin infiltration into British politics and public life.

    […]

    Downing Street said on Monday it could not comment on the Russia report or its evidence until it was published. The cross-party committee finished the report in October 2019 but, ahead of December’s general election, Johnson refused to release it. After the election, he cleared the report for publication in principle, but doing so would require the ISC to be reconstituted.

    The committee is yet to be formed amid growing speculation that there is a row about who will chair it. Downing Street has indicated it wants the former transport secretary Chris Grayling to do so.

    Failing Grayling is one the most incompetent ministers evar. A recent summary is Chris Grayling’s failings: a catalogue of the former minister’s errors. (I will not attempt to excerpt that list.)

    […]
    Steele’s summary evidence is likely to raise concerns that Downing Street may have suppressed the ISC’s final Russia report to avoid embarrassing questions in the run-up to the election, and afterwards, as Britain left the EU, although No 10 has consistently denied that is the case. These include whether Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 EU referendum in support of Brexit and whether Vladimir Putin holds compromising information on Trump, Johnson’s ally.

    “My understanding, arising partly from personal experience with the ‘Trump-Russia dossier’, is that this government perhaps more than its predecessors is reluctant to see (or act upon) intelligence on Russian activities when this presents difficult wider political implications,” Steele writes in his testimony to MPs.

    “Examples of this include reporting on the Kremlin’s likely hold over President [sic] Trump and his family / administration and indications of Russian interference in and clandestine funding of the Brexit referendum.”

    […]

    It is unclear how much of Steele’s testimony and the information he provided is reflected in the Russia report. The document has a public section and a classified annexe. Some of those who have read it hint that its public part is discursive and does not include recommendations.

    It is expected to say there is no evidence of any successful interference by Russia in recent British elections, but will highlight a surprising lack of coordination across Whitehall to examine what Moscow has been attempting to achieve.

    In his memo to MPs, Steele also argues that Russia under Putin has become a “powerful rogue state”. A lack of pushback from the UK and others has emboldened its bad behaviour, he writes. This trajectory was not inevitable and, he says, has been driven by a “corrupt political elite” fearful of regime change and seeking to protect its “ill-gotten” wealth.

    He cites seven “paradigm shift” moments that have surprised and wrong-footed successive western governments. They include the breakup of the oil company Yukos, the poisonings of Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, and the invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. He also mentions Russian election meddling, in particular during the 2016 US presidential vote. In each case the west’s response was limited. Moscow perceives this as “weakness”, he writes.

    […]

    Russia under Putin now represents potentially a greater threat to the UK and its way of life than terrorism, the MPs heard.

    “No terrorist group has to date successfully deployed a weapon of mass destruction, either nuclear or chemical, in the UK. Russia has deployed both,” Steele points out, adding: “If not effectively deterred going forward, clearly Putin’s regime will stop at little to achieve its objectives.”

  245. says

    Trump’s Tax Cuts Were a Disaster. Naturally, Republicans Want Even More.

    In 1980 the federal deficit was soaring and Ronald Reagan campaigned on a singular promise: He planned to cut taxes on everyone, but especially the rich. He insisted that those benefits would quickly trickle down to everyone and supercharge the economy. Throw in some social safety net cuts, Republicans said, and the whole plan would pay for itself.

    They were wrong. The rich got lower taxes all right, but the economy flatlined and the deficit skyrocketed. […] In 1982 Reagan was forced to raise taxes to make up for his cuts, and he continued raising them throughout his presidency.

    In 1993 Bill Clinton passed a tax increase to reduce the deficit. Republicans insisted it would do no such thing. In fact, they said, it would cripple the economy.

    They were wrong. The economy boomed, and for the first time since the Roaring ’20s the deficit turned into a surplus for four consecutive years.

    In 2001—and again in 2003—George W. Bush passed a tax cut. Once again, Republicans said it would supercharge the economy and pay for itself.

    They were wrong. All we got was a jobless recovery and a housing bubble that wrecked the economy. It produced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

    At the beginning of 2013, as part of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, Barack Obama forced Republicans to accept a tax increase on high earners. But even though the bill passed with bipartisan support, some Republicans insisted it would kill the economy.

    They were wrong. The deficit declined and Obama produced the longest economic recovery in American history—one that was still going strong until the coronavirus pandemic killed it.

    Finally, in 2017, Republicans passed yet another tax cut. This one primarily benefited corporations and the rich, and once again Republicans insisted it would supercharge the economy and pay for itself.

    They were wrong. No—scratch that. They lied. They knew the evidence of the past 40 years as well as anyone, but they sold the public a bill of goods anyway.

    Why? Because for all of Donald Trump’s bluster, this was the one thing he really, truly had to do. It’s the one thing the Republican Party’s big donors insist on. […]

    The 2017 tax cut had to be supported by a farrago of dishonesty for an obvious reason: The public would never support a tax cut aimed primarily at making the rich richer and swelling the coffers of large corporations—which also benefited the rich. Why would they? So Republicans had to lie. And this time they couldn’t rest with a single lie. Polls showed that voters were skeptical of their tax cut, so this time Repub­licans had to pile lie on top of lie.

    […] lies about tax cuts have determined the course of America’s economy, and the individual fortunes of millions of families including yours, for decades. […] Every single economic indicator Republicans said would go up, didn’t.

    […] Weren’t American corporations actually doing pretty well? Why did they need a huge handout?

    This is where the first lie came into play. It’s true that the United States had a high corporate tax rate, but few American corporations paid that official rate. In fact, if you look at actual corporate tax revenue, it turns out the United States has been pretty friendly toward big business. The real corporate tax rate is middling, and among the 20 richest developed countries, the US tied for dead last in how much of its GDP comes from such taxes.

    […] Republicans had to manufacture a laundry list of reasons it would be good for the economy. And that’s when the lies started piling up.

    1. Business investment will skyrocket

    […] corporations will only make investments that are likely to be profitable. Taxes are part of this, so if you decrease the tax rate on profits, more investments will go forward. In the words of Larry Kudlow, the lifelong supply-sider who became director of President Trump’s National Economic Council, corporate tax cuts produce an “investment boom.”

    […] Kudlow’s boom never came. Taxes may matter, but what matters a lot more is whether corporations have confidence that the economy will grow vigorously and produce more demand for their products and services. […]

    Sure enough, business investment, which usually reflects decisions made in the past, grew on autopilot for a couple of quarters, but after that, steadily declined. In the last quarter of 2019, the level of business investment was lower than it was a year before. […]

    In the past, Democrats have mostly just tried to gin up opposition to Republican tax cuts by pointing out how unfair they are. It’s never worked, but the fiasco of the 2017 cut, which even the Republican rank and file was lukewarm about, gives Democrats an opportunity to fight back. Instead of just opposing cuts even if there’s a strong case that we need them to stimulate the economy, they can propose better, more equitable tax cuts than Republicans. That would be something new: a chance to educate the electorate by having a showdown over competing tax plans. In the red corner, tax cuts for millionaires. In the blue corner, tax cuts for everyone else. That’s a fight worth having.

    Much more, including charts and graphs, at the link.

  246. says

    Even without buying the book, a lot of people are hearing what Bolton has to say.

    Bolton interview with ABC watched by 6.2 million to win Sunday night

    Former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s interview special on ABC with anchor Martha Raddatz drew 6.2 million viewers, making it the most-watched program on television Sunday night, according to Nielsen Media Research. […]

    During the interview, Bolton argued that Trump should not be president, saying he did not have “the competence” to do the job. […]

  247. says

    Racist hate for Bubba Wallace was inevitable. Now NASCAR must stand with him.

    Washington Post link

    Hate, not heritage. Pure hate. What else could prompt a person, or multiple people, to place a noose in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the man who nudged NASCAR into finally outlawing the Confederate flag? […]

    On Sunday, before bad weather delayed the race at Talladega Superspeedway, fans still angry about the flag ban waved their Confederacy relics as they drove by the racetrack in Lincoln, Ala. A plane also flew above the event towing both a [Confederate] flag and a banner that read “Defund NASCAR.” The protests were inevitable, but it takes a disturbing combination of bigotry and nerve to try to intimidate Wallace in this manner. And when you consider that Wallace drives the No. 43 Chevrolet of Richard Petty Motorsports, this was also an attack on the sport’s greatest living legend. […]

    Wallace isn’t scared, and now NASCAR is on a mission to “identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.” With video surveillance and limited access to key areas because of novel coronavirus precautions, it shouldn’t be difficult to find the scum.

    “As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all,” NASCAR said in a statement announcing the incident. […]

  248. says

    Hmmm. Interesting. More background regarding the ouster of Geoffrey Berman:

    Ex-U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman had a disagreement with top officials at the Justice Department the day before he was ousted over a letter the department wanted to send New York Mayor Bill De Blasio […]

    The letter sought to bash De Blasio for COVID-19 public health orders that limited religious gatherings in the city […]

    On Thursday, Berman refused to sign on to the letter […] He believed the letter to be a “political stunt” […] and worried that it would strain his office’s relationship with the city. […]

    It is not clear if the disagreement over the De Blasio letter was a factor in Barr’s decision to get Berman fired by […] Trump over the weekend. The two met in person in New York on Friday, hours before the department announced that Berman was being replaced. But the [Wall Street] Journal could not confirm that the De Blasio dust-up was discussed at the meeting.

    The Justice Department, under the directive of Barr, has been on a spree of public statements chastising local and state officials for their coronavirus public health orders — including orders that affect religious gatherings. Some of those statements have come in the form of legal filings that support private individuals challenging the orders in court. In other instances, the department has issued letters like the one Berman apparently refused to sign last week, or has pressured officials behind the scene to rethink their COVID-19 orders. The De Blasio letter has not been publicly issued. […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/berman-de-blasio-letter-ouster-doj

    Comments from readers of the article:

    This wouldn’t be enough to get him fired. It all goes back to Epstein, and whatever SDNY is doing with the reams of stuff they collected from his place.
    ——————
    Bill Barr in damage control mode. No chance all of this was over a dumb letter. It’s simply not believable.

    WSJ is either playing along or getting played.
    ———————-
    republicans have a habit of running to the WSJ when they want to plant a seed of a story and see if it gets wings
    ——————-
    Barr continues to throw stuff up against the wall to see what sticks. This is break the law and order regime. Barr is Trump’s fixer.
    ———————-
    Barr and his bogus “religious freedom” extreme agenda and slight of tongue keeps popping up.
    ———————–
    If you’re Barr and need to get the dogs off the trail leading to a stinking Pile of corruptIon by pitching out a red herring, where else would you go to but the most respectable Murdoch outlet?

  249. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Trump now daily asserts power he cannot sustain. ‘Law and Order’ street fighting confrontations using the US military, Bolton’s book, bungled DOJ purges, a humiliating Tulsa venture. Each gambit newly exposes his deteriorating power and thus hastens the process, emboldening others to oppose or resist him.

    We now know that that Attorney General repeatedly made knowingly and materially false statements, not in some general way to the press or public but in official communications for the specific purpose of ousting a US Attorney which is something he lacked the legal authority to do. […]

    Bill Barr’s latest explanation is that he was simply trying to find the Chairman of the SEC new employment in New York City, where Jay Clayton is expected to return later this year with an eye to burnishing his litigation resume for post-government employment. This explanation is plainly absurd. The Senators from New York, who can veto such an appointment, would never have consented to a replacement with zero prosecutorial experience, especially given how many Trump-adjacent investigations the office already has underway.

    Remember that the original announcement was that Berman would be replaced on an acting basis, not by his current deputy, which is the lawful order of succession, but by the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito. This is an entirely irregular, bordering on absurd plan – one US Attorney overseeing two offices at once. There was certainly some corrupt aim behind this whole plan. This is as sure as night follows day. Barr wanted Berman out of the way and was not content to leave key decisions in the hands of his respected deputy, Audrey Strauss. He was confident that he could leave those decisions in the hands of Craig Carpenito. Why?

    There’s an answer. Someone should find it.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-fall

  250. blf says

    It’s not clear if Kayleigh McEnany has brought any bridges yet (see @364), but it looks like you could also sell her two private islands off the coast of Jupiter and a purple dog that goes “meow” (from the Grauniad’s current quoting credulous-liars-ranting live blog):

    White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked if Trump regrets using the racist phrase kung flu to describe coronavirus during his Saturday rally.

    McEnany replied that the president [sic] never regrets putting the onus back on China for the coronavirus pandemic.

    Another reporter noted that, earlier this year, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway described the phrase kung flu as offensive and wrong.

    Asked repeatedly whether the White House disagrees with Conway’s characterization, McEnany ignored the question and then called on someone from the far-right website One America News Network.

  251. says

    Trump admin still won’t say if it’s accepting new DACA applications following Supreme Court ruling

    In a relief for 700,000 young immigrants and their families, the Supreme Court last week ruled that the Trump administration illegally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, meaning the program stays in place for now. But while the decision came to the relief of beneficiaries, thousands of otherwise eligible youth who haven’t been able to apply because the administration stopped accepting new applications in 2017 are still in limbo.

    “There are about 66,000 of them, according to an estimate by the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan research center, and they could be eligible to apply for DACA after the Supreme Court decision,” The Marshall Project’s Julia Preston reports. “But it is not clear that Trump will let them in.” […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  252. says

    Not really political, but nice and fun:

    Paul McCartney teamed up with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to perform a lockdown rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” alongside Dave Matthews, Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, Jim James, Irma Thomas, Nathaniel Rateliff and several others.

    The performance was part of the ‘Round Midnight Preserves livestream hosted by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which was put together to raise money for the Preservation Hall Foundation. The three-hour event also featured Dave Grohl and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s take on “Come With Me to New Orleans,” Elvis Costello delivering a solo acoustic rendition of “The River in Reverse,” Jim James tackling My Morning Jacket’s “Wonderful” and Irma Thomas singing “Time Is on My Side.” The event culminated with everyone from the event uniting for the New Orleans standard “When the Saints Go Marching In” with Paul McCartney taking a rare turn on the trumpet.

    Like nearly every music venue in America, Preservation Hall is struggling due to the complete shutdown of the concert industry over the past few months. They set up the Preservation Hall Foundation Legacy Relief Fund to help them make it through this unprecedented crisis. […]

    Rolling Stone link
    I preferred the part where McCartney sang to his trumpet playing.

  253. blf says

    Whilst this isn’t quite as funny as teh monkey carpenterson “restoration”, it’s still rather appalling, and might lead to a change (the political connection), Experts call for regulation after latest botched art restoration in Spain:

    […]
    Conservation experts in Spain have called for a tightening of the laws covering restoration work after a copy of a famous painting by the baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo became the latest in a long line of artworks to suffer a damaging and disfiguring repair.

    A private art collector in Valencia was reportedly charged €1,200 to have the picture of the Immaculate Conception cleaned by a furniture restorer.

    However, the job did not go as quite as planned and the face of the Virgin Mary was left unrecognisable despite two attempts to restore it to its original state.

    […]

    Fernando Carrera, a professor at the Galician School for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, said such cases highlighted the need for work to be carried out only by properly trained restorers.

    “I don’t think this guy — or these people — should be referred to as restorers,” Carrera told the Guardian. “Let’s be honest: they’re bodgers who botch things up. They destroy things.”

    Carrera, a former president of Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators (Acre), said the law currently allowed people to engage in restoration projects even if they lacked the necessary skills.

    “Can you imagine just anyone being allowed to operate on other people? Or someone being allowed to sell medicine without a pharmacist’s licence? Or someone who’s not an architect being allowed to put up a building?”

    While restorers were “far less important than doctors”, he added, the sector sill needed to be strictly regulated for the sake of Spain’s cultural history.

    “We see this kind of thing time and time again and yet it keeps on happening,” said Carrera.

    “Paradoxically, it shows just how important professional restorers are. We need to invest in our heritage, but even before we talk about money, we need to make sure that the people who undertake this kind of work have been trained in it.”

    [… P]art of the problem, he added, was that “some politicians just don’t give a toss about heritage”, meaning that Spain did not have the financial resources to safeguard all the treasures of its past.

    “We need to focus society’s attention on this so that it chooses representatives who put heritage on the agenda,” he said.

    “It doesn’t have to be at the very top because it’s obviously not like healthcare or employment — there are many more important things. But this is our history.”

    Imagine at the link. Neither “restored” version looks anything like the original.

  254. blf says

    In the UK, Scrap Stonehenge road tunnel plans, say archaeologists after neolithic discovery:

    […]
    Leading archaeologists say a £1.6bn scheme to build a road tunnel through the historic Stonehenge landscape should be scrapped altogether after the sensational discovery nearby of the largest prehistoric structure ever found in Britain.

    Mike Parker Pearson, professor of British later prehistory at University College London, said: “This is just another reason to give up this disastrous white elephant of a scheme.”

    A giant neolithic structure, created 4,500 years ago, has been uncovered 1.9 miles (3 km) north-east of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain near Amesbury, Wiltshire. To the astonishment of archaeologists, a series of vast shafts — each more than five metres deep and up to 20 metres across — were found to have been aligned to form a circle 1.2 miles in diameter.

    The discovery was made possible by new technology that is yet to play a significant role in our understanding of this extraordinary ancient landscape.

    Through geophysical prospection, ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry, the shafts showed up as geophysical anomalies. They had previously been dismissed as natural sinkholes and dew ponds. The technology revealed their true significance.

    More about the discovery, Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge: “Four thousand five hundred years ago, the Neolithic peoples who constructed Stonehenge, a masterpiece of engineering, also dug a series of shafts aligned to form a circle spanning 1.2 miles (2km) in diameter. The structure appears to have been a boundary guiding people to a sacred area because Durrington Walls, one of Britain’s largest henge monuments, is located precisely at its centre. […]” There’s a great illustation and map at the link showing just how huge this newly-discovered pit structure is.

    Back to the first article (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The potential for technology to reveal so much more is enormous because only a tiny percentage has been explored so far, Parker Pearson said.

    While Highways England has argued that its plan to improve the A303 [highway] with a tunnel will cut congestion, Parker Pearson said: “The expenses per mile are mind-boggling. It’s a tunnel that’s basically 2.9km long and it’s going to cost £1.6bn.

    “Colleagues who work in that business say, ‘You might as well add 40%.’ I think they’re saying {it’ll take} five to seven years to construct, so that would be continuous traffic jams, and there’s concern that the vibrations will actually impact on archaeological deposits, causing the ground to crack.”

    Vincent Gaffney of the University of Bradford, co-principal investigator of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, which made the discovery while surveying the landscape, has described the discovery as unprecedented. He said: “In a world heritage site as complex as Stonehenge, it is essential that we take sensitive decisions with respect to the best evidence we have, as future generations are unlikely to forgive us if we damage this unique landscape.”

    […]

    Parker Pearson said: “Vince and his team have identified various other shafts that may be part of other formations further over to the west, even nearer Stonehenge. We just don’t know how many other big pits like that there are in the Stonehenge environs.”

    He added: “The problem is that this is a scheme that was hatched back in the 1980s, when they really had no idea about the potential of what might be there. Most archaeologists around the world are horrified at what’s going on.”

    The government is expected to make a planning decision by 17 July.

    Kate Fielden, an archaeologist and honorary secretary to the Stonehenge Alliance, which has campaigned against the tunnel scheme, said: “The astonishing finds we have learned about today serve to underline not only how much there is still to learn about the Stonehenge landscape, but also how much as yet unknown information about our distant past we could lose should the A303 Stonehenge tunnel and expressway go ahead.”

    […]

    Derek Parody, Highways England project director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: The latest finds are in the north-east of the world heritage site, well outside the scheme boundary and at its closest point half a kilometre north of the planned A303 upgrade. In our meticulous planning for the proposed route, we have used ground-penetrating radar as part of our geophysical survey strategy, to Historic England-required standards, and we have also supplemented this with a wealth of trial trenching and test pits to further evidence our results.

    I admit that well the tunnel scheme was first suggested, I thought it had merit, albeit as the idea advanced back then it was clear the routing of the tunnel was wrong (a compromise between cost(= length) and avoiding the then-known archeological sites). However, in the decades since it’s become clear the tunnel scheme, however well-intended, is daft, and for some years now I’ve been opposed to the scheme. (Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge summarises the scheme / problem.)

  255. says

    Lynna @ #365, isn’t that like a fucking crime? Shouldn’t he have to be removed from office like immediately? He’s killing people he’s sworn to protect!

  256. blf says

    Oh FFS, hair furor’s next Covid-19 spreading event in Phoenix, Arizona, tomorrow, looks like it is even more deranged (from the Grauniad’s current fecking eejits live blog):

    […]
    The president [sic] will speak at a “Students for Trump” event at the Dream City Church in Phoenix, despite Arizona seeing a rise in its number of coronavirus cases.

    In a video, two of the church’s leaders said they have installed cutting-edge technology that kills 99.9% of Covid within 10 minutes […]

    You can know when you come here you’ll be safe and protected, one of the church’s leaders says in the video. Thank God for great technology.

    But it’s unclear how this ambiguously-described technology would prevent respiratory droplets from potentially spreading the virus, and the CDC has previously confirmed instances of coronavirus outbreaks among church communities.

    There are disinfecting tunnels, but that won’t help (much) if someone is a carrier (as seems very likely will happen). I haven’t watched the video, but the above excerpt / report suggests it’s opaque on this great technology (if it even exists, has been installed properly, and will be used properly).

  257. blf says

    Clarification to me@381: I wrote in comments at the end, “There are disinfecting tunnels…”. To clarify, I did not mean there are such tunnels at the venue for hair furor’s next Covid-19 spreading event, only that such tunnels exist.

    Whilst I have no idea how effective the tunnels are (against Covid-19), I cannot see how they could possibly stop a carrier from spreading Covid-19 once thorough the tunnel and inside. You would want to detect and stop the carrier before they get inside the building, which (presumably) means before they enter the tunnel (which I am presuming would be at the entrance to the building (at least)).

    And still no idea what super-dooper technology(? magic?) is at the venue — if any, etc., etc.

  258. blf says

    A snippet from the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog:

    […] An alarming 20% of Covid-19 tests in Arizona are coming back positive.

    The number of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US has reached 26,000, up from 21,000 per day two weeks ago, according to an Associated Press analysis. […]

    Hair furor’s next deliberately spread Covid-19 event is in Arizona, tomorrow.

  259. says

    I’m enraged at the egregious and nonsensical use of “anarchist” in this announcement. It’s dishonest and an outrage.

    The DoJ spent years claiming that animal liberation and environmental activists were the biggest terrorist threat in the US, all while allowing far-Right groups to organize and grow when it was fucking obvious that they were a violent threat.

    They’re actively endangering the US (and global) public with their political lies.

  260. blf says

    OhhhhhKaaay… Barcelona opera reopens with performance for nearly 3,000 potted plants (video):

    Barcelona’s El Liceu opera house reopened on Monday with a concert to an audience of 2,292 potted plants. The event took place a day after Spain’s three-month state of emergency came to an end. It was the work of Spanish conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia, who said the inspiration came from a connection he built with nature during the pandemic: ‘I watched what was going on with nature during all this time. I heard many more birds singing. And the plants in my garden and outside growing faster. And, without a doubt, I thought that maybe I could now relate in a much more intimate way with people and nature’

    I have to congratulate the performers for not breaking into giggles. (The plants, according to the video, will be donated to health care workers as a “thank you” gesture.)

  261. says

    Here’s their own press release:

    Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging ETHAN MELZER for allegedly planning an attack on his U.S. Army unit by sending sensitive details about the unit – including information about its location, movements, and security – to members of an extremist organization named Order of the Nine Angles (“O9A”), an occult-based neo-Nazi and racially motivated violent extremist group. MELZER is charged with conspiring and attempting to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring and attempting to murder military service members, providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country. The FBI and the U.S. Army thwarted MELZER’s plot in late-May 2020, and the FBI arrested MELZER on June 10, 2020. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Gregory H. Woods.

    “…Melzer allegedly provided this potentially deadly information intending that it be conveyed to jihadist terrorists. As alleged, Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal. Thanks to the efforts of the agents and detectives of the JTTF, our partners in the Departments of Defense and State, and the career prosecutors of this Office, a hate-fueled terrorist attack against American soldiers has been thwarted.”

    FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Melzer declared himself to be a traitor against the United States, and described his own conduct as tantamount to treason. We agree. He turned his back on his county and his unit while aligning himself with members of the neo-Nazi group O9A. Today, he is in custody and facing a lifetime of service – behind bars – which is appropriate given the severity of the conduct we allege today.”

    According to the criminal Complaint and the Indictment charging Melzer,[1] which were unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

    MELZER joined the U.S. Army in approximately 2018, and he joined O9A by approximately 2019. Members and associates of O9A have espoused violent, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and Satanic beliefs, and have expressed admiration for both Nazis, such as Adolf Hitler, and Islamic jihadists, such as Usama Bin Laden, the now-deceased former leader of al Qaeda. Members and associates of O9A have also participated in acts of violence, including murders.

    In approximately October 2019, MELZER deployed abroad with the Army. Prior to planning the attack, MELZER consumed propaganda from multiple extremist groups, including O9A and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, which is also known as ISIS….

    In approximately April 2020, the Army informed MELZER of plans for a further foreign deployment by his unit. MELZER thereafter sought to facilitate a deadly attack on his fellow service members. After he was notified of the assignment, MELZER used an encrypted application to send messages to members and associates of O9A and a r