1. Alt-X says

    Have you heard Public Enemy’s new trump diss track? So good! “State of the union, STFU”.

    Ohh looks like the lappy has hit the US! :D

  2. says

    Josh Lederman, NBC:

    JUST IN – @PressSec says neither Trump nor Pence were briefed on the “alleged Russian bounty intelligence” first reported by NYT

    This raises the obvious and very serious question: The US had intelligence that Russia was paying militants to kill US & allied troops, and officials decided NOT to tell the president or VP about it?

    LOL, sounds legit.

  3. says

    Guardian – “Over 30 protesters arrested in Moscow for supporting LGBT activist – rights group”:

    Russian police on Saturday detained more than 30 people, most of them women, who were staging separate one-person protests in central Moscow against charges of spreading pornography levelled against a prominent LGBT activist, a monitoring group said.

    One activist was also detained in St Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, which monitors law enforcement issues in Russia.

    Earlier this month, police in the Russian far east charged Julia Tsvetkova, an LGBT and feminist activist, with spreading pornography via her pictures, she said on her Facebook page.

    If found guilty, Tsvetkova may face up to six years in prison.

    One of those detained in Moscow held a placard saying: “Today they send to prison for pictures, tomorrow they will send to prison for letters? Freedom for Julia Tsvetkova!”

    A vote on proposed changes to the Russian constitution is ongoing. Among many amendments put forward by president Vladimir Putin is an article defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

  4. says

    BREAKING: Both the House and Senate clear the most difficult hurdle to removing and changing the state flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem.

    They’re expected to move quickly now to make it official and remove the flag.”

  5. says

    From the Washington Post link to which SC referred in comment 2:

    In the hours before […] Trump’s rally in Tulsa, his campaign directed the removal of thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers from seats in the arena that were intended to establish social distance between rallygoers, according to video and photos obtained by The Washington Post and a person familiar with the event.

    The removal contradicted instructions from the management of the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena in downtown Tulsa where Trump held his rally on June 20. At the time, coronavirus cases were rising sharply in Tulsa County, and Trump faced intense criticism for convening a large crowd for an indoor political rally, his first such event since the start of the pandemic.

    As part of its safety plan, arena management had purchased 12,000 do-not-sit stickers for Trump’s rally, intended to keep people apart by leaving open seats between attendees. On the day of the rally, event staff had already affixed them on nearly every other seat in the arena when Trump’s campaign told event management to stop and then began removing the stickers, hours before the president’s arrival, according to a person familiar with the event who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

    In a video clip obtained by The Washington Post, two men — one in a suit and one wearing a badge and a face mask — can be seen pulling stickers off seats in a section of the arena. It is unclear who those two men are. When Trump took the stage on Saturday evening, the crowd was clustered together and attendees were not leaving empty seats between themselves.

    The actions by Trump’s campaign were first reported Friday by Billboard Magazine.

    As rally preparations were underway, Trump’s campaign staff intervened with the venue manager, ASM Global, and told them to stop labeling seats in this way, Doug Thornton, executive vice president of ASM Global, told the magazine.

    “They also told us that they didn’t want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue,” Thornton said. “The campaign went through and removed the stickers.” […]

    Washington Post link

    The lie from Trump’s campaign: “There were signs posted and we are not aware of any campaign staff asking that they be removed.”

  6. says

    Partial repost of comment 221 from the previous chapter of this thread. (The Political Madness thread, which has been running for years now, periodically runs up against Free Thought Blogs’ time limit for the existence of threads. The thread has to be given new life by PZ in order to continue. “Chapters,” as I call them, are limited to 500 comments, but sometimes the thread hits the time limit before a chapter racks up 500 comments.)

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

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

    Everything is bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wonkette link

  7. says

    From Mark Sumner: “White House knowingly allowed bad COVID-19 test kits to circulate, possibly affecting millions.”

    In the first weeks of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, a shocking breakdown in quality control at the CDC’s central laboratory in Atlanta led to cross-contamination of test materials that made the first round of tests shipped out around the country worthless. Correcting the issue took more than a month, during which time COVID-19 was spreading across the country, undetected and unacknowledged by the White House, where Donald Trump continually assured the nation that all was well. As it became clear that the number of cases was far outrunning the available tests, the FDA used emergency authority to allow the use of alternative antibody tests that ultimately flooded in from more than 200 companies.

    Now CBS News is reporting that not only where many of these tests flawed, but agencies knew they were flawed. But, eager to cover up the shortage of U. S. tests available, these tests were allowed to circulate, unchecked for 50 days. Meanwhile, state and county officials made decisions about how to handle social distancing and stay-at-home orders on the results of these tests. Cities used the test to find first responders and social workers had been exposed, and to test essential personnel. People made life and death decisions on the basis of tests that didn’t work — and the people who allowed those tests to circulate, knew it.

    The story, which will appear Sunday evening on 60 Minutes, details how some cities detected the flawed tests on their own. Laredo, Texas purchased thousands of tests with the intention of setting up drive-through testing sites. Fortunately, before they did so, the city’s health director checked the tests against known samples and found their accuracy was only 20% — they were wrong far more often than they were right. […] other cities had it worse because they trusted the tests. […]

    the worthless tests were reported. Officials from Homeland Security appeared, took the tests, and … there is no “and.” No apparent results came from reporting the tests, other that someone showed up to hide them.. […]

    Even the 50 day free-for-all where the FDA allowed in tests without any consideration at all was far from the end of the problem. It took three months before the FDA began to pull the ineffective tests. In May, they began to require companies to submit data showing their tests were accurate—though it’s completely unclear how much scrutiny that data received. It’s possible that millions of people in the United States took tests that were either worthless—or worse than worthless. […]

    Donald Trump and Mike Pence have bragged about the response to COVID-19 as a “whole government effort.” That certainly seems to be the case. From the CDC that failed to produce sufficient tests, to the FDA that allowed an unchecked flood of inaccurate tests into the country, to Homeland Security that failed to follow up on investigations, it took everyone working together to screw up this completely.


  8. says

    Follow-up to comment 13.

    From Wonkette:

    […] It’s hard to really grasp what their actual issue is. Even if, as they seem to believe, the masks are unnecessary and the pandemic isn’t as bad as the media is making it out to be, the absolute worst case scenario there is that they wore a mask for a while and didn’t really have to. The worst case scenario if they are wrong, however, is that it turns out that they are an asymptomatic carrier and they infect someone after screaming at them, and then that person dies.

    […] cases in areas where people don’t want to wear masks have shot up pretty significantly, while areas where people are wearing masks are experiencing a decline in COVID-19 cases. [Chart available at the link.]

    […] The main thing it seems these anti-mask people all agree on is that we (the Left) are using the mask orders as a ploy — not to keep asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 from infecting people — but as a way to take away their “freedoms.” Some think it is so we can do 5G things to them, some think it is part of our plan to force them all to accept the Mark of The Beast, some think it is just because we get off on making them unhappy, and some think it is all of those things, plus other things that are equally stupid.

    And yet, they have not gotten around to telling us what is actually supposed to be in it for us. I think it is only fair, if they are going to go around accusing us of being up to something nefarious, that they tell us exactly what it is that we are after.

    So I have some questions.

    First of all — this seems like an incredible amount of effort on our part for zero payoff. We institute totally unnecessary mask mandates across the country, encourage social distancing and what? Cui bono? Who benefits? Big Mask?

    […] What is it that we’re supposed to even be doing once we use the masks to take their freedoms? Do we use our newfound power to force them to live in a brutal hellscape where everyone has healthcare and a secure job with vacation time, police don’t get to go around killing random Black people, we stop fighting stupid forever wars and we don’t have mass shootings every other day? Cancel their student loan debt? Give them family leave when they have children and sick leave when they are sick? Send their children to preschool and college for free? Not charge them obscene amounts of money for using an ambulance? And then laugh at their pain? […]


  9. microraptor says

    Disney’s retooling the Splash Mountain ride to be based off The Princess And The Frog instead of Song of the South.

    Given that Disney had decided to never release the film in the US well before the ride was built, I have to wonder what took them so long.

  10. KG says

    The tsunami of COVID-19 patients may force Arizona medical personnel to start triaging patients as if they were in a war zone with inadequate health care. – Lynna, OM@last-incarnation-204

    They are! Trump has allied with SARS-CoV-2 to wage war on people of color, old people who can’t ensure everyone around them is repeatedly teated as he can, people with “underlying health conditions”. The Second Civil War the boogalooers want is already happening.

  11. Trickster Goddess says

    It turns out that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg is a homophobic, sexist and racist institution.

    Current and former employees of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg say its management would sometimes ask staff not to show any gay content on tours at the request of certain guests, including religious school groups.


    Gabriela Agüero, a former program developer and tour guide, had gone public to CBC News with allegations of censorship. She said she was told by her superiors at times to not show the same-sex display.

    “When I complained about it, [management said], ‘Well, that’s what we request and we have to honour the requests from the schools because they pay us for those tours,'” said Agüero.


    A current employee says LGBT tour guides were among staff who were asked to not speak about gay content.

    The staffer said the organization stopped requesting employees shield homosexual content following an internal uproar after a staff member from the LGBT community was asked to physically block an alcove in the Canadian Journeys exhibit that has photos of same-sex couples displayed in the shape of a cake and items from two same-sex weddings.

    “The staff member was outraged. And there was a lot of outrage within the team,” said the current employee, who CBC has agreed not to identify because the staffer fears losing their job for speaking out.

    “There [was] a lot of upset that they would ask somebody to do that and especially … somebody [who] did identify that way as an LGBT person.”

    CBC link

    Five current and former female employees at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights allege they’ve been sexually harassed by the same male colleague and say their complaints to human resources were dismissed.

    The women, who’ve come forward to CBC News, allege the man, who works with visitors at the national museum in Winnipeg, has grabbed and touched them, stared at their genital areas and made inappropriate comments about them and other women for years.

    Gabriela Agüero, a former program developer and tour guide, said she’s seen the man get close to women and objectify them. She said he would also repeatedly get close to her and ask her to go places, even when she told him no and asked him to stop inviting her.

    She said he was allowed to keep working at the museum after an internal probe into his conduct. “It left us all traumatized because we all had to continue working with him, be in the elevators, in the lunchrooms, everywhere.”

    Agüero, who said she left the museum after being bullied by her manager, said she went to the museum’s human resources department after the man allegedly clapped his hands and told a female employee much younger than him, “Oh you’re so hot” in a meeting while looking her up and down.

    Agüero and the woman, Madeleine McLeod, now 26, went to HR together in 2018 to report the incident.

    “And then essentially [the HR director] asked me [whether I thought] he maybe meant ‘I’m so hot because of the weather, like it was hot outside.’ So when she said that comment, I just already knew it’s not going to go anywhere,” McLeod said in a phone interview from Vancouver, adding the museum is normally very cold.

    “I just felt really belittled by her, just the whole interview was not very pleasant. I ended up being really emotional and I actually thought of quitting right away because I thought I don’t want to work for the institution that promotes human rights, and they can’t even deal with such a basic human right.”


    A current museum employee said she has been harassed by the man, seen him harass new female staff and look at young visitors inappropriately.

    “They have just been hired, looking at them in very inappropriate ways, touching them, feeling like he can do that,” she said.

    CBC News has agreed not to identify the woman because she fears reprisals for speaking out.

    The employee said multiple complaints have been made to HR about the man, investigations have been launched and an external lawyer was brought in to review the allegations.

    She said she was shocked when she first started experiencing the behaviour at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

    “How come these people cannot understand that you’re working in a place where you’re promoting rights for everyone, human rights?”


    The union said it has approached management in the past before asking some members to file a grievance after not being satisfied with how HR handled complaints.

    Three weeks ago, the union said, it made a proposal in contract talks with the museum to create mandatory anti-harassment training for all museum staff, including management, but those proposals were rejected.

    CBC link

    A former employee of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights says she was “livid” when the museum’s CEO said claims of racism at the institution came as a surprise.

    Employees there have been fighting for change for years, said Thiané Diop.

    “I was like, stop lying. You know — you and I both know — that these conversations have already been going on and there hasn’t been enough concrete change, because people are still coming forward with similar stories,” she said.

    Diop worked at the Winnipeg-based museum for four years and said she started the recent #cmhrstoplying hashtag after some people began sharing their experiences with the museum anonymously on Instagram.


    In one public social media post that used the hashtag, former CMHR employee Armando Perla said the museum’s officials were “vicious and made me feel like I had no value the whole time I worked there” after he spoke up about racist and homophobic attitudes.


    Diop said she experienced racism from other staff, visitors and stakeholders that she identified to management.

    “I tried to address it, and that fell on deaf ears,” she said, adding other Black, Indigenous or people of colour at the museum had similar experiences with management.

    “For many of us, that was exactly the reason we ended up leaving.”

    CBC link

    The CEO of the museum has now resigned.

  12. says

    Guardian – “Voting begins in Poland presidential election as race tightens”:

    Voting is under way in Poland’s presidential election, with the incumbent, Andrzej Duda, up against a field of challengers including the liberal mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski.

    Duda, who campaigned on a deeply conservative social agenda that was often laced with homophobia, is allied with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which since coming to power in 2015 has clashed with Brussels over eroding the country’s rule of law. Opponents hope that if Duda is defeated, the legislative agenda of PiS could be stymied by presidential veto, and a new era of Polish politics would begin.

    The election was initially scheduled for May, when Duda had a commanding lead in the polls and was expected to win easily. It was postponed at the last minute owing to the coronavirus pandemic, and the race has since narrowed, partly due to the late entrance of Trzaskowski. Recent polls suggested that although Duda was still likely to win, he would probably fail to get the 50% required to avoid a run-off.

    A potential run-off would take place in two weeks time, and polls suggest a race between Duda and Trzaskowski would be extremely close, with no clear favourite.

    People were mostly voting in person, although they were required to wear masks at polling stations….

  13. says

    Here’s a link to the June 28 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog. (Support the Guardian if you can!)

    From there:

    …The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States rose to more than 2.5 million on Saturday. More than 125,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, the highest known death toll from the disease in the world. New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker noted on Twitter that more Americans have died than in the Vietnam War since US President Donald Trump stopped his daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House.

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

    Brazil recorded 38,693 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths. The country has now registered 1,313,667 total confirmed cases of the virus and 57,070 deaths….

  14. says

    @DHSgov continues to topple ancient saguaro cactuses for #BorderWall construction at Organ Pipe. An arm on this giant had just started to fruit before it was bulldozed over.

    Saguaros are deeply sacred to the Tohono O’odham, who have fought the wall strenuously from day one.

    I’ve been documenting this horror story for months. Hundreds and hundreds of ancient saguaros have met a similar fate. The Trump Admin is crushing everything in its path to build this wall of hate.”

    More at the link.

  15. says

    New Lincoln Project ad: “Putin paid a bounty to kill American soldiers. @realDonaldTrump knew about it but did nothing. How can Trump lead America when he can’t even defend it?”

    “When Trump tells you he stands by the troops, he’s right. Just not our troops.”

  16. says

    Laura Rozen:

    There was a Trump Putin phone call on March 30.

    On March 30, Putin and Trump “spoke by telephone, the first of 5 calls between the two over a period of three weeks, a flurry of communication unprecedented during Trump’s 3 1/2 years in office.”

    There were Trump Putin phone calls on:

    March 30
    April 9
    April 10
    April 12
    June 1

    Trump and Putin also issued a joint statement on April 25

    so a month after the US interagency debated how to respond to US intel on Russian bounty for Taliban to kill US troops, Trump chose to issue a joint statement with Putin commemorating the ‘spirit of the elbe’

    Seems to me Trump decided how he wanted to respond to the intel. He further kissed up to Putin.

  17. says

    CONTENT WARNING: This video of today’s shooting at Jefferson Square Park was pulled from the FB livestream of one of Louisville’s more vocal protesters. Absolutely horrifying to see. To my friends, coworkers and anybody else down there, please be vigilant. Please be safe.”

    Video at the link. It was recorded by Maxwell Mitchell.

    One person was killed, and another injured. This CNN report is odd in light of the video. They seem to be treating it like it was a dispute amongst the protesters or the protest turning violent, but it looks (based on this admittedly limited evidence) more like an attack on the protesters.

  18. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Amazing. The President just posted this video and praised his supporters who appear in it. The first to appear agrees he’s a racist and then chants “white power!”

    Perhaps less significantly here we have the President posting a video of his supporters at a retirement community in Florida holding a pro Trump golf cart parade and chanting white power, which is a decent encapsulation of Trumpism. He says he can’t wait to visit soon.

    Trump saying “Corrupt Joe is shot” would also seem to be a problem.

  19. says

    Sen. Murphy:

    Our President is openly working to help a deadly virus spread that has killed 120,000.

    Russia is putting bounties on the heads of American soldiers and he seems ok with it.

    He’s distributing white power videos.

    And that’s just the last 48 HOURS.

  20. says

    Nicola Sturgeon:

    3 days in a row with no registered COVID deaths in Scotland. The sense of relief that I – & I’m sure all of us – feel as these numbers fall is enormous. But it’s coupled with an anxiety that we do all we can to keep COVID under control. So please follow the rules and #StaySafe

  21. says

    John Fugelsang (yet another failed listmaker, but setting that aside):

    Here’s a thread for anyone who’s been conned into believing Donald Trump cares about the US military or our troops.

    -Faked a disability 5 times to avoid a war he didn’t oppose
    -5 non-rich guys went to Vietnam in his place
    -Tried to kick homeless vets off 5th Ave
    -Stole from vets via his fraud online U
    -Lied about donating $1 million to veterans’ nonprofits
    -Said he’d make troops commit war crimes
    -Pardoned a guy who committed war crimes
    -Falsely claimed he signed Vets’ Choice into law
    -Insulted POWs
    -Insulted Gold Star Families
    -Fined for misusing funds from 2016 Vets fundraiser
    -Called Generals “dopes & babies”
    -Falsely accused US service members of stealing funds for Iraqi reconstruction
    -Deployed 5,600 soldiers to the border in a midterm election stunt
    -Personally insulted Generals Allen, Mattis, Kelly, Powell, McChrystal; Purple Heart recipients Mueller & Vindman, & Admiral McRaven
    -lied about donating $6 million to veterans groups in 2016
    -Sided with Putin against all branches of military intelligence
    -Blew off Veterans Day cemetery ceremony in France bc it was raining.
    -What he said to Myeshia Johnson, widow of ambushed Sgt. La David Johnson. Not gonna repeat it.
    -He’s trying to cut SNAP. Do you understand how much that hurts military families & vets?
    -His budget seeks to cut medicaid. Do you understand how much this hurts military families & vets?
    -Froze pay for all Fed agencies via Executive Order – Fed workforce is 31% veteran, approx 623k vets
    -Undid regulations on predatory lenders who target military members
    -He’s trying to destroy the Post Office, which employs thousands of veterans
    -Declared a fake national emergency to divert billions from the Pentagon to fund a wall he lied that Mexico would pay for
    -Downplayed & trivialized troops w/traumatic brain injuries in Jan 2020
    -Insulted troops with PTSD
    -Used the national guard to tear gas US protestors so he could be photographed w/an upside down bible
    -Forced West Point cadets to travel back for graduation during a plague, endangering their health & the health of their families, for a photo-op
    -Said 26,000 military sexual assaults were to be ‘expected’ bc America lets women serve
    -announced that transgender troops could no longer serve, via a tweet, without informing the Pentagon.
    -Invited the Taliban to Camp David on the anniversary of 9/11
    -claimed, stupidly, that his military budget made up for his lack of military experience
    -Told wife #2 he’d disown their daughter if she entered the service
    -remember his fake ‘veterans hotline?’
    -Lied to US troops in Iraq that he’d given them their 1st pay raise in over a decade
    -Trump Institute fired a vet for ‘absences’ after he was deployed to Afghanistan
    -Claimed if an armored Humvee was hit by an IED, soldiers “go for a little ride upward & they come down.”
    -blamed military leaders for the deadly failed Yemen mission he approved
    -He can’t stop defending the Confederacy
    -said his expensive prep school gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
    -attacked Navy Captain Crozier, who sounded COVID alarm for his sick sailors
    -used military against peaceful protests by citizens of color
    -Had gov’t give hydroxychloroquine to 1300 vets w/COVID-19 despite evidence it was dangerous
    -didn’t know what happened at Pearl Harbor
    -pulled out of Syria w/no notice, abandoning US allies
    -Russia posted footage of Syrian base, built by US, that they now own
    -exploited 4 murdered Americans in #Benghazi for crass political purposes, after his own party had cleared the Obama WH in multiple investigations
    -He keeps trying to destroy NATO
    -BC of his govt shutdown, members of US military worked w/out pay for the 1st time
    -No Other President Would Have Survived Defrauding Veterans’ Charities
    -Said in 2018 that he was too busy to visit the troops: “I don’t think it’s overly necessary”
    -Ordered Navy to Strip Medals From Prosecutors in Eddie Gallagher’s War Crimes Trial, even though Gallagher was extremely guilty.

    If these new allegations prove even partially true then we’ve all got to start demanding that Combover Caligula resign the office.

    Every day.

    He can declare victory, buy OAN & start paying defense attys for the rest of his life. But the time has come.


    Much more atl.

  22. says

    Mark Zaid:

    My law firm will provide free legal assistance/protection to any #whistleblower who can confirm Pres Trump or VP Pence was provided intel briefings on these disturbing Russian efforts. We will ensure #WBer acts completely within legal boundaries.

  23. says

    #1 story this morning is about Trump tweeting some ancient boomer screaming about white power. The real story broke last night and involves Russia paying bounties to the Taliban for the bodies of American soldiers. IT’S A DISTRACTION. This is his MO. If I was on Twitter I could probably find dozens of stupid old white people being racist. It’s blatantly obvious that he posted that video as red meat to his opposition (us) to distract from the actual criminal thing that’s happening. DO NOT let it distract you. Ignore “white power man” and focus on the real fight, please.

  24. davidc1 says

    @13 There is a clip from FL out there as well ,one woman says she won’t wear a mask giving the same reason as to she doesn’t wear underwear ,things gotta breathe .Another woman says masks wearing interferes with gods great plan .

  25. says

    From SC @36:

    “Donald Trump just killed the tweet where he amplified the video of The Villages contretemps where a supporter had yelled ‘white power’.”

    I have always wondered why Trump has to have a massive load of backlash dumped on him before he realizes that what he just tweeted was both offensive and wrong.

  26. says

    Pence Blames The Media When Pressed On Trump’s Baseless COVID-19 Testing Claims

    Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday continued backing […] Trump’s misleading claims on COVID-19 testing by blaming the media.

    On Friday, Pence insisted during the first briefing in nearly two months from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that despite the country setting a new daily record for new COVID-19 cases, “this moment is different.” The VP also argued that states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona emerging as coronavirus hot spots can be attributed to more people under 35 years old testing positive.

    “In many cases, they have no symptoms but they are coming forward and confirming they have contracted the coronavirus,” Pence said on Friday.

    Pence sang a similar tune during an interview on CBS that aired on Sunday morning.

    When pressed on Trump’s misleading claim that there would be no coronavirus cases if testing wasn’t being done, Pence doubled down by blaming the media’s reporting of it.

    “The President was observing the fact that rising cases, which is — which the media has focused exclusively on has been in part a result of increased testing,” Pence said. “What the media doesn’t focus on at all is because of the sacrifices the American people made in those 45 days to slow the spread and the good commonsense measures they continue to do.”

    Pence then insisted that “we’ve continued to see fatalities decline,” echoing his remarks on Friday.

    “I grieve for every American family that lost a loved one, for the more than 125,000 Americans that we’ve lost in this,” Pence said. “We’re going to continue to take steps to protect the most vulnerable and testing will be a critical part of that going forward.”

    CBS’ John Dickerson pointed out how testing is critical to protect and to open the economy, before pressing Pence again on why the President continues to undermine confidence in testing.

    “I just disagree that the President’s undermining confidence in testing,” Pence said. “He observed that the volume of new cases is in part a result of all of the rapid scaling of testing that we’ve done around the country.”

    Last week, Pence defended Trump’s claim during his Tulsa campaign rally that he asked his administration to “slow the testing down, please” on the coronavirus was a “passing observation.”


    Pence has a sneaky, mealy-mouthed way of lying.

  27. says

    @43 Lynna
    It’s an obvious distraction. We’ve become so used to Trump being a racist and a supporter of racism that it’s barely news any more. The real story is the bounties Russia was paying for American soldier’s bodies. Trump retweeted that to distract us. There’s something serious he’s trying to hide. Morning news shows are all focused on that Tweet right now and, for some reason, some prick turning up on CNN with a QANON pin.

    Not a coincidence, the dead soldier story has teeth and they want us talking about anything else. They’re hiding something.

  28. says

    ‘He would have been briefed instantaneously’: WH veteran slams Trump’s BountyGate denials

    David Gergen, who you probably know as an analyst for CNN, also served as an adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. So he knows how a (functional, anyway) administration operates.

    And he’s calling extreeeeeeme bullshit on the Trump administration’s new claim that Donald Trump and Mike Pence were never briefed about the bounties Russia reportedly placed on our soldiers in Afghanistan:

    CNN’s ANA CABRERA: “The White House is now denying the president was briefed on this, but if the New York Times‘ reporting is accurate, this would mean the president was briefed on this in late March. In early May he announced the U.S. had a great friendship with Russia. And later that same month, he reiterated his desire to invite Russia into the G-7. David, you have worked in four White Houses. Why wouldn’t a president have been briefed on intelligence like this?”

    GERGEN: “He would have been — in every single White House that I’ve ever worked in, and every single White House I know anything about. This is very, very important information. It does affect the relationship with Russia. He would have been briefed instantaneously. It would have been in the materials sent in to him, and it would have been discussed with him. And I think Vice President Biden makes a very good point, what is raising so many objections on Capitol Hill is that this was in the same timeframe the president has extended an olive branch to Putin, inviting him to this G-7 meeting over the objections of Chancellor Merkel and others who do not want that to happen. The president stood up for him. So all of that suggests that this is a much more complicated story. What we’re possibly facing is that … the president was briefed but that he had reasons relating to his reelection and his relationship with Russia that he’s being very dovish about this.”

    […] the portrait that’s being painted here isn’t good forv[Trump]. Either Trump and Pence have been deemed inessential to the functioning of the federal government or — far more likely — they’re lying their asses off. Again.

  29. says

    Ray @45, yes, I know that tweet is meant to be a distraction, but it is also legitimate news when Trump openly supports white supremacists.

    In other, coronavirus news, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had this to say:

    This is a continuation of the first wave, and it was a failed effort to stop the first wave in the country. If you listen to what the president says, what they said at the White House briefing, they’re saying what they said three months ago. They’re basically in denial about the problem. They don’t want to tell the American people the truth.

    And they don’t want to have any federal response. I knew what they were saying: “You’re on your own.” And it’s not a good feeling […]”

    [Cuomo said the rate of transmission, as monitored through extensive testing, should drive the reopening schedule. He expressed optimism about how his own state was faring, after becoming the epicenter of the health crisis earlier this year. But Cuomo also said he was worried that rising infection rates in other states would begin pushing up New York’s rate.]

    This is a virus; it doesn’t respond to politics. You can’t tweet at it. You have to treat it. And we never did that.

  30. says

    The data is in: Fox News kept millions from taking the coronavirus threat seriously.

    Washington Post link

    It’s another one of those Trump Era realities best described as unsurprising but nevertheless shocking.

    Three serious research efforts have put numerical weight — yes, data-driven evidence — behind what many suspected all along: Americans who relied on Fox News, or similar right-wing sources, were duped as the coronavirus began its deadly spread.

    Dangerously duped.

    The studies “paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others,” […]

    Here’s the reality, now backed by numbers:
    Those who relied on mainstream sources — the network evening newscasts or national newspapers […]— got an accurate assessment of the pandemic’s risks. Those were the news consumers who were more likely to respond accordingly, protecting themselves and others against the disease […]

    Those who relied on Fox or, say, radio personality Rush Limbaugh, came to believe that vitamin C was a possible remedy, that the Chinese government created the virus in a lab, and that government health agencies were exaggerating the dangers in the hopes of damaging Trump politically […]

    Beyond the risks the general public faces from consuming this nonsense and misinformation, there’s the fact that the president himself has been picking up these same ideas and using them to steer policy. […]

    The upshot was clear: For too long, many devotees of most right-wing news decided they didn’t need to stay home. Others absorbed the idea that wearing a protective mask was an act of left-leaning partisanship.

    […] And so, it’s tragic — but again not all that surprising — to see the virus spiking now in red states where governors and other public officials joined Trump and his favorite news outlets early on in downplaying the dangers.

    When confronted with the information in one study that cast Sean Hannity in a dim light, Fox News responded with defensive gaslighting […]

    One of the study’s authors persuasively rejected Fox’s criticism that underlying data was chosen unfairly: There’s no “cherry-picking” possible, he said, because the independent coders read every transcript between late January and late March. These academic studies, published in Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review and the National Bureau of Economic Research, are cautious. They don’t make wild claims, and they wisely hedge their conclusions because they don’t want to go too far.

    Still, it’s difficult to come away from them without believing that serious harm has been done. And that it’s far from over.

  31. blf says

    Hundreds of pride flags fill Spanish town after town hall one removed :

    The 8-metre long rainbow flag flew from the town hall for less than 48 hours. But after a trio of complaints led to its removal, residents in the southern Spanish town of Villanueva de Algaidas responded swiftly, plastering the town’s bars, buildings and balconies with more than 500 rainbow flags of their own.

    Officials in the town of about 4,200 people had flown the flag at the town hall to mark pride month since 2018. This year was no exception, despite a recent supreme court ruling barring administrations in Spain from hanging unofficial flags on government buildings.

    After three residents went to police, citing the ruling and demanding that the flag be taken down, officials said they had no other option. “The gesture, sadly, has been short-lived,” officials said in a statement. “The government team has been forced to remove the flag.”

    The news soon reached Antonio Carlos Alcántara, who had moved to nearby Torremolinos after growing up in Villanueva de Algaidas. “It bothered me that they had to pull down a flag that wasn’t hurting or bothering anyone,” he told the Guardian. A quick glance at the town’s Facebook page confirmed that he wasn’t the only one upset by the decision.

    He realised that he might have a solution. In the run-up to Pride he had ordered hundreds of rainbow flags to sell at his shop on the Costa del Sol. But after the coronavirus cancelled the local pride celebrations, the flags were now sitting in his storeroom. “So I left a comment on the town’s Facebook page, telling residents that I would bring them a free flag if they wanted.”

    [… word spreads and the gesture mushrooms…]

    [… N]o municipality has responded to the ruling quite like Villanueva de Algaidas. “I knew the town was very tolerant, open and respectful,” said Alcántara, pointing to a vote last year by residents to use an image of two women holding hands and sporting rainbow bracelets to promote its local fiesta.

    “Now I’m trying to propose that this doesn’t just become something that happened once and never again,” he said. “Every year Villanueva de Algaidas should fill up with colour.”

  32. blf says

    Bannon aims to make a comeback in circle of Trump influencers ahead of election:

    As an election approaches, Steve Bannon and his allies are trying to return the former chief White House strategist to media circles known to influence the president’s [sic] thinking [sic].

    [… R]ecently, Bannon and Jason Miller, a former Trump communications adviser, worked on a podcast called Bannon’s War Room, a niche offering for the right wing of the party.

    Both men have now returned to more mainstream Republican and conservative media circles.

    Miller recently returned to the Trump campaign as a senior adviser, briefing Trump often and is reportedly in good standing with the president [sic].

    Bannon’s successes have been more modest. But he recently appeared on Fox News, discussing the forthcoming election and lavishing praise on [hair furor].

    When people see the difference between the order of Trump and the chaos of Biden, he said, I think it’s going to be a pretty clear choice and I think Biden’s going to have a very tough time making this case to people.


    “The president [sic] has spoken very highly about Steve to a number of people lately,” said one Republican operative who has spoken often to Trump.


    In an interview on the John Fredericks radio show, Bannon praised Trump for traveling to Arizona this week, and touring the border wall. […]

  33. blf says

    Trump attacks on mail-in ballots will cost Republicans (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    If Trump’s intention is to convince his own base not to vote in November, evidence suggests he is doing a good job.

    As own goals go, President Donald Trump’s continued fixation on and bad-mouthing of mail-in voting ahead of the United States’ November general election may end up being one of the factors that cost him — along with many other players on the Republican team — the match.

    […] The president [sic], in what has been seen as an attempt to call into question the outcome of the vote in case he loses, is clearly dead set against the prospect of states making it easier for their citizens to vote because of the coronavirus pandemic.


    If another of Trump’s intentions is to convince his own voters not to participate in November if they are still worried about COVID-19, anecdotal evidence has emerged that he is doing a pretty good job.

    In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, which passed a law last year allowing anyone to vote by mail for any reason, about 1.9 million people requested mail-in ballots for the primaries this year. In 2016, the number was 107,000. And 71 percent of them have been Democrats, according to an analysis by the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.


    “More than one person”, she [chairwoman of the Northhampton County, Pennsylvania thugs, Lee Snover] added, has told her that Trump doesn’t want us mailing in, {so} I’m not mailing it in. [set in eejit quotes because it was blurted by a nazi –blf]

    In Florida, Democratic Party officials crowed this week about the avalanche of requests for mail-in ballots there. Since the March primary in that state, they said in a statement, Democrats have convinced 350,000 voters to sign up to the programme, compared to the 160,000 voters signed up by Republicans.


    Robert Stein, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas, has been surveying voters’ attitudes toward mail-in voting there since shortly after the pandemic erupted. Generally speaking, he found, Democrats prefer mail-in voting and Republicans favour doing so in person.

    Interestingly, Stein reports, only one day after Trump started tweeting against mail-in voting, the pollsters noticed a drop in the percentage of Republicans who said they were in favour of remote voting — from 41 percent to 34 percent. Initially, Stein was puzzled because so many Republicans there have voted by mail in past presidential elections.

    But, he said, “Republican voters follow the lead of their party and president.”

    The thing is, voters are not following the lead of their party. They are following the lead of the president. Outside of Trump’s West Wing / Capitol Hill echo chamber, Republican officials across the country are almost uniformly in favour of mail-in voting.

    Despite the reticence from local GOP leaders in Northampton County and elsewhere, the state Republican party in Pennsylvania has gone all out to promote voting by mail, calling it both safe and smart.

    “Democrats will use the new mail-in ballot to greatly increase their turnout,” the party correctly predicted on its website earlier this year. “Republicans would be smart to do the same so that we have the advantage.”

    Trump’s incessant drumbeat against the messaging of his own party would be remarkable were it not so predictable. Through words and actions throughout the campaign, the president [sic] has made it clear that the election is not about the Republican Party’s prospects. It’s about Trump’s prospects.

    US Senators, members of Congress and other down-ballot Republicans be damned.

  34. says

    Ray Ceeya @ #s 41 and 45, just stop. Comments of that sort are really unhelpful. It’s an ongoing thread, and we can comment about multiple things at a time. The occupant of the Oval Office tweeting a video of his supporter chanting “White Power” is terrifying and significant. If you don’t think so, fine – don’t comment about it. The TV news has had plenty of coverage of the bounty scandal.

    Prior to your comment @ #41 informing us that “The real story broke last night and involves Russia paying bounties to the Taliban for the bodies of American soldiers,” we had commented on the explosive reports about the bounty scandal

    in the previous chapter: @ #s 171 (when the story first broke), 174, 181, 185, 186, 206, 209, and 217

    and in this thread: @ #s 3, 22, 23, 30 (please read this one), 32, 35, and 39.

    It’s so weird that I feel like I have to make a similar comment every time we start a new chapter. If you have something to share about a story you think is important, just share it, and skip the lectures about what others are allegedly being distracted from or ignoring.

  35. says

    It’s the end of June, the US has 2.5 million confirmed (and probably many multiples of this in reality) cases and more than 125,000 deaths, both of these numbers are climbing, and it’s news warranting chyrons on both CNN and MSNBC that Pence just said he encourages people to wear masks. (I’m not criticizing the news for emphasizing this – it is news; I’m just pointing out how insane the situation has to be for this to be news.)

  36. says

    Steven Dennis:

    ARIZONA reported 3,858 COVID-19 cases today, setting another record.

    Testing positivity is well over *20%*

    Record 2,691 suspected COVID patients in hospital beds (+114)

    Record 475 ventilators in use (+42)

    Arizona COVID hospitalization chart showing a 229% increase since Memorial Day:…

  37. says

    Guardian – “Lisa Nandy urges ban on imports of West Bank goods”:

    The UK must ban the import of goods from illegal settlements in the West Bank if the Israeli government presses ahead with annexation plans this week, Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, has said.

    The move would be a “major step” and require “courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show”, she told the Observer. But “such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences”.

    Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has said Israel will “apply sovereignty” to up to 30% of the occupied West Bank as early as Wednesday, despite mounting international opposition and warnings that annexation would kill off a future Palestinian state.

    Boris Johnson told MPs earlier this month that the UK government “strongly objected” to the plan and restated support for the two-state solution. But the government is coming under increasing pressure to take concrete action if Netanyahu’s annexation proposals are implemented.

    Nandy said: “The proposal to unilaterally annex nearly a third of the West Bank is an illegal act which will undermine the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and has serious implications for the stability of the Middle East.

    “It is a shameful proposition to which the UK cannot be a silent witness. Across the world concern is growing … So far the UK government has been conspicuously absent from this global response.

    “This is now urgent. The government must be clear with the Israeli coalition government that concrete action will follow, including a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is a major step, but such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences. It will take a level of courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show.”

    Nandy’s proposal, backed by Keir Starmer, is a significant toughening of Labour’s policy on Israel. In the 2019 manifesto, the party merely called for a diplomatic solution.

    The Trump administration’s support for Netanyahu’s plan might discourage UK action for fear of jeopardising a UK-US trade deal, she added. But Britain had a “unique moral responsibility and must step up. Should we fail to do so, the world will pay the price for a long time to come.”

    Last week, more than 1,000 European parliamentarians signed a letter opposing annexation, saying “acquisition of territory by force … must have commensurate consequences” and calling on European leaders to “act decisively”.

    In a statement to be issuedon Monday, a coalition of UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations will demand the government outlines “clearly and publicly, what actual, meaningful consequences will result if Israel proceeds with its illegal annexation plans”….

  38. stroppy says

    Two stories can be real at the same time.

    In fact I’d be curious to know if anyone has compiled a list of all of Trumps far right, fascist, racist, and nationalist retweets/posts/comments–the really egregious ones, ones that even morons who can’t hear dog whistles can’t ignore– to be used to compose a timeline for people to see when things blow up and they are left saying “Too bad we couldn’t see this coming!” Again.

  39. says

    SC @52, well said. Thanks.

    From the New York Times link to which SC referred in comment 53:

    United States intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter.

    The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019 […]

    The emerging details added to the picture of the classified intelligence assessment, which The New York Times reported on Friday was briefed to […] Trump and discussed by the White House’s National Security Council at an interagency meeting in late March. The Trump administration had yet to act against the Russians, the officials said.

    Mr. Trump defended himself on Sunday by denying that he had been briefed on the intelligence, expanding on a similar White House rebuttal a day earlier, as leading congressional Democrats and even some Republicans demanded a response to Russia that the administration had yet to authorize. […]

    Appearing on the ABC program “This Week,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she had not been briefed on the intelligence assessment and had asked for an immediate report to Congress. She accused Mr. Trump of wanting “to ignore” any charges against Russia.

    “Russia has never gotten over the humiliation they suffered in Afghanistan, and now they are taking it out on us, our troops,” she said of the Soviet Union’s bloody war there in the 1980s. “This is totally outrageous. You would think that the minute the president heard of it, he would want to know more instead of denying that he knew anything.” […]

    Though the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, claimed on Saturday that Mr. Trump had not been briefed about the intelligence report, one American official had told The Times that the report was briefed to the highest levels of the White House. Another said it was included in the President’s Daily Brief, […]

    Ms. McEnany did not challenge The Times’s reporting on the existence of the intelligence assessment, the National Security Council meeting and the White House’s inaction. Multiple other news organizations also subsequently reported on the assessment. […]

    Republicans in Congress demanded more information from the Trump administration about what happened and how the White House planned to respond. […] “We need answers.” […]

    Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said that the reported Russian actions “would be consistent with the Russian practice over the last few years of doing its best secretly to try to undermine Western government, including the United States.”

    In addition to saying he was never “briefed or told” about the intelligence report — a formulation that went beyond the White House denial of any formal briefing — Mr. Trump also cast doubt on the assessment’s credibility, which statements from his subordinates had not.

    Specifically, he described the intelligence report as being about “so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians”; the report described bounties paid to Taliban militants by Russian military intelligence officers, not direct attacks. Mr. Trump also suggested that the developments could be a “hoax” and questioned whether The Times’s sources — government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity — existed.

    [head/desk] So typical of Trump.

    […] Two officials said the information about the bounty hunting was “well-known” among the intelligence community in Afghanistan, including the C.I.A.’s chief of station and other top officials there, like the military commandos hunting the Taliban. The information was distributed in intelligence reports and highlighted in some of them. […]

    John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, said on the ABC program “This Week” that he was not aware of the intelligence assessment, but he questioned Mr. Trump’s response on Twitter.

    “What would motivate the president to do that, because it looks bad if Russians are paying to kill Americans and we’re not doing anything about it?” Mr. Bolton said. “The presidential reaction is to say, ‘It’s not my responsibility. Nobody told me about it.’ And therefore to duck any complaints that he hasn’t acted effectively.”

    Mr. Bolton said this summed up Mr. Trump’s decision-making on national security issues. “It’s just unconnected to the reality he’s dealing with.”

    NY Times link

  40. says

    Update to #19 above – BBC – “Poland presidential election heads for second round – exit poll”:

    Exit polls in Poland’s presidential election suggest the incumbent, Andrzej Duda, has finished first but without enough votes to win outright.

    If confirmed, Mr Duda, a conservative, will face the liberal mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, in the second round in two weeks’ time.

    The polls suggest Mr Duda took just under 42% of the vote and Mr Trzaskowski just over 30%.

    Turnout was high despite coronavirus and social distancing restrictions.

    The president has the power to veto legislation, so Mr Duda’s re-election would be of benefit to PiS, of which he used to be a member.

    Mr Trzaskowski, meanwhile, has pledged to heal rifts with the European Union. Mr Duda’s allies have frequently clashed with the bloc over controversial reforms to the judiciary and media.

    “This is a decisive time. A lot will really depend on this decision,” said Poland’s anti-communist hero Lech Walesa as he voted in the northern port of Gdansk. [He thinks PiS should be prosecuted. – SC]

  41. says

    Updates on another and ongoing disaster:

    The remote Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, three thousand miles east of Moscow and six miles north of the Arctic Circle, has long held the record, with another Siberian town, for the coldest inhabited place in the world. The record was set in 1892, when the temperature dropped to ninety below zero Fahrenheit, although these days winter temperatures are noticeably milder, hovering around fifty below. Last Saturday, Verkhoyansk claimed a new record: the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic, with an observation of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit—the same temperature was recorded that day in Las Vegas. Miami has only hit a hundred degrees once since 1896. […]

    Anthropogenic climate change is causing the Arctic to heat up twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Climate models had predicted this phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, but they did not predict how fast the warming would occur. Although Verkhoyansk has seen hot temperatures in the past, Saturday’s 100.4-degree record follows a wildly warm year across the region. Since December, temperatures in western Siberia have been eighteen degrees above normal. […] As the meteorologist Jeff Berardelli reported for CBS, the heat that has fallen on Russia in 2020 “is so remarkable that it matches what’s projected to be normal by the year 2100, if current trends in heat-trapping carbon emissions continue.” By April, owing to the heat, wildfires across the region were larger and more numerous than they were at the same time last year […] this summer could be worse. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, they will also be more complicated to fight.

    […] The heat and fires are also hastening the dissolution of Siberian permafrost, perennially frozen ground that, when thawed, unleashes more greenhouse gases and dramatically destabilizes the land, with grave consequences. On May 29th, outside Norilsk, the northernmost city in the world, the thawing ground buckled, causing an oil-storage tank to collapse and spew more than a hundred and fifty thousand barrels, or twenty-one thousand tons, of diesel fuel into the Ambarnaya River. The spill was the largest to ever occur in the Russian Arctic.

    Norilsk, which was constructed in the nineteen-thirties by prisoners of a nearby Gulag camp, Norillag, was already one of the most polluted places in the world. […]

    A 2017 report from an Arctic Council working group said that “communities and infrastructure built on frozen soils are significantly affected by thawing permafrost, one of the most economically costly impacts of climate change in the Arctic.” […] They also noted that “the vast Bovanenkovo gas field in western Siberia has seen a recent increase in landslides related to thawing permafrost.” […]

    In early June, President Vladimir Putin declared a national emergency, and scolded local authorities for their slow response to the spill. The Kremlin allegedly found out about the spill two days after the fact, from pictures of a crimson river posted on social media. Although the Russian prosecutor general’s office agreed, in a preliminary finding, that the thawing permafrost was a contributing factor to the spill, investigators also said that the fuel-storage tank had needed repairs since 2018. […] Vladimir Potanin, the president of Norilsk Nickel and the richest man in Russia, said that the company will pay for the full cost of the disaster, which he estimated at ten billion rubles, or a hundred and forty-six million dollars. (A Russian environmental watchdog, Rosprirodnadzor, put the cost at around one and a half billion dollars.) […]

    The company will construct a pipeline to pump the contaminated muck to unspecified disposal sites. But the region will remain toxic. […]

    Putin, however, is not known for his environmentalism. His anger and concern about the Norilsk oil spill might have more to do with how much it exposed his government, making visible the overwhelming economic and environmental risks facing oil, gas, and mineral development in Siberia if temperatures there continue to rise. […] sixty per cent of Russia is permafrost. Although much of the newest oil and gas infrastructure in the Far North has been engineered with climate change in mind, temperatures are currently on track to far exceed projections. Perhaps that is why the Kremlin did, finally, officially ratify the Paris accord last October. […]

    With its abundant plant life, the Arctic, for tens of thousands of years, was a carbon sink for the rest of the planet. Permafrost across the Arctic and boreal regions contains between 1.46 trillion and 1.6 trillion tons of organic carbon, which is almost twice the amount present in the atmosphere today. […] Sue Natali, a scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, told me that, even though climate change has caused an increase in summertime Arctic plant life, which absorbs carbon dioxide, it is not enough. The warmth also increases the microbial decomposition of soil and plants in the winter, resulting in a higher annual release of carbon. “While the plants may have been ramping up,” she said, “in the wintertime, the microbes are keeping pace and actually exceeding them.” This cycle creates a terrifying feedback loop: […] by 2100, the Arctic could emit forty-one per cent more carbon each winter than it does now. That amount equals the emissions from two hundred and sixty-six million cars, nearly as many as are currently on the road in the United States.

    The permafrost found in the area surrounding Verkhoyansk is some of the deepest and oldest in the world, descending as much as five thousand feet. […] One of Russia’s most extreme examples of thermokarst, known as the Batagay megaslump, is a two-hundred-and-eighty-foot-deep, half-mile-wide depression, situated just outside Verkhoyansk. It first began forming as a small gully in the nineteen-sixties, because of deforestation, but has grown significantly in recent years, exposing the remains of ancient creatures, including musk ox, a cave lion, a Pleistocene wolf, a woolly mammoth, and an almost perfectly preserved, forty-thousand-year-old foal. While exciting for scientists and tusk hunters, the megaslump is another sign of the challenges that people in the region—home to several indigenous cultures and languages, including Sakha, Evenki, Even, and others—face if they want to remain on their land. […]

    The article was written by Carolyn Kormann, a staff writer at The New Yorker.
    More at the link.

  42. says

    Joe Biden:

    Today the President shared a video of people shouting “white power” and said they were “great.” Just like he did after Charlottesville.

    We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation — and the President has picked a side. But make no mistake: it’s a battle we will win.

  43. says

    Update to #24/25 above – CNN – “Suspect in custody in fatal shooting at a Louisville park during protests over the killing of Breonna Taylor”:

    A suspect is in police custody after the fatal shooting of a man at a park in Louisville, Kentucky, where peaceful protesters have been gathering to demand justice for the killing of Breonna Taylor.

    The suspect is at a local hospital, Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder said.

    The suspect — whose name was not released — was asked to leave the park several times during the protest due to his disruptive behavior, Schroeder said. The man had been arrested during protests in recent weeks, the chief said.

    The shooting happened Saturday night at Jefferson Square Park, police said. A second shooting victim found at the Hall of Justice near the park was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police did not release details on the person’s gender….

    Not sure why CNN has to get all their information from the police…

  44. tomh says

    WaPo Opinion piece by James Downie:

    Yes–My Congresswoman (the best!) Barbara Lee

    …Wins for several black progressives in New York congressional primaries, including Jamaal Bowman’s defeat of House Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Eliot L. Engel, and, in Kentucky, Charles Booker’s possible win over establishment-backed Amy McGrath in the Senate primary, showed that candidates who unite voters of color and white progressives are the party’s future. If Biden wants to show he’s listening to these voters, there’s one name that apparently isn’t on his current vice-presidential shortlist, but should be: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)…

    …Lee worked her way up to become his chief of staff [Ron Dellums], served eight years in the California state legislature, and in 1998 won a special election to fill the retiring Dellums’s seat. She’s been in the House ever since, including stints chairing the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus…

    Fifty-six percent of Americans — including 78 percent of Democrats — now support Medicare-for-all, which Lee has backed for years. And her years as “the House’s steadiest advocate for peace” have permanently endeared her to progressive and younger voters and activists.

    Her most notable stand on that issue came on Sept. 14, 2001, when Congress voted on President George W. Bush’s request for the authorization of using military force against those the president determined “responsible” for the attack. The resolution’s wording was vague and overbroad, but just three days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, no one in Washington wanted to be seen as holding up America’s vengeance. No one, that is, except Barbara Lee. Despite appeals from her Democratic colleagues to reconsider, she voted no — the only member of Congress to do so.

    In an op-ed at the time, she called the resolution, “a blank check to the president … without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit.” A conservative columnist called her “anti-American”; angry callers jammed her office lines with death threats. But history has vindicated Lee…

    Adding Lee to the vice-presidential shortlist would signal that Biden is committed to breaking out of wrongheaded policy consensuses. It could fire up progressive voters who have been lukewarm about the former vice president, and whose turnout will be crucial in the fall. And it would show that he is willing to admit to and learn from past mistakes — a trait as deeply lacking in our leaders as it is sorely needed.

    If only, but never going to happen, sadly.

  45. birgerjohansson says

    Ed Brayton at the blog ‘Dispatches from the culture wars’ provided an interesting comment: Trump rails aagainst those he considers to be ‘losers’….but confederate generals are OK.

  46. blf says

    Teh Russian Shooty McShootface mafia seems to be having problems… cue an out-of-tune atom-sized violin played by a baby hair furor balloon… NRA has shed 200 staffers this year as group faces financial crisis:

    Gun rights organization may struggle to support Trump in 2020 election amid layoffs and furloughs

    After spending over $30m to help elect Donald Trump in 2016, the National Rifle Association faces a deepening financial crisis with over 200 staff layoffs and furloughs in 2020, according to three NRA sources, gun analysts and documents.

    The situation is likely to hinder efforts by the gun rights group to help Trump and other Republicans win in November’s election.

    The 200-plus layoffs and furloughs, which have not previously been reported and were mainly at NRA headquarters in Virginia, were spurred by declines in revenues and fundraising, heavy legal spending, political infighting, and charges of insider self-dealing under scrutiny by attorneys general in New York and Washington DC, the sources say.

    “The widespread Covid layoffs and furloughs have further harmed both the NRA’s legal capacity and political influence beyond what was already a troubling deterioration,” said one NRA official who requested anonymity to discuss internal matters. The official added the outlook this year for NRA political spending was “deeply concerning.”

    NRA staff learned about the furloughs, plus 20% staff pay cuts, four-day work weeks and other belt tightening, in an April email from Wayne LaPierre [their führer].


    In 2018, the NRA’s financial problems caused it to spend a relatively lackluster $9.4m on the midterm elections, and gun control groups outspent the NRA for the first time, which analysts say helped the Democrats win the House majority.


    “The NRA is entering the summer and fall campaign with a series of crippling financial, legal, and political problems,” said Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at Cortland State University in New York.


    The donor revolt has been spurred in part by several reports of lavish personal spending by LaPierre. The Wall Street Journal revealed last year that according to the NRA’s former ad firm Ackerman McQueen, which has been in legal battles with the NRA and LaPierre, he took about $240,000 worth of trips to Italy, Hungary, the Bahamas and other locales that were charged to the ad firm. The Journal reported that the ad firm had paid for about $200,000 in expensive suits for LaPierre, including some from a Beverly Hills boutique.

    LaPierre’s yearly salary in 2018 was close to $2m.

    Two Democratic attorneys general in New York and DC have reportedly been investigating whether the NRA abused its non-profit tax-exempt status in different ways such as improperly transferring funds from an NRA Foundation to the NRA.

    Further, the AGs are said to be examining the allegations of self-dealing by NRA leaders, including financial transactions involving LaPierre, the NRA and the former ad firm.

    If the AGs bring charges, the NRA could lose its coveted non-profit status in New York, where it has long been chartered.


  47. blf says

    Top Brazil newspaper in pro-democracy drive as unease grows about Bolsonaro:

    One of Brazil’s leading newspapers has launched a major pro-democracy campaign as unease grows about the threat many fear Jair Bolsonaro and his most militant supporters pose to the country’s political future.

    Unveiling the initiative on Sunday, the Folha de São Paulo said systematic attacks from pro-Bolsonaro extremists were putting Brazilian democracy through its greatest “stress test” since the return of civilian rule in 1985.

    The broadsheet urged readers to wear yellow in support of democracy and said voters needed to urgently remember the dark days of Brazil’s 1964-85 military regime, when hundreds of political opponents were killed or disappeared.

    “We saw, and will never forget, the horrors of dictatorship, and we will always champion democracy,” the Folha de São Paulo declared.

    The century-old publication announced that until Brazil’s next elections it would change the motto on its masthead from “a newspaper at the service of Brazil” to “a newspaper at the service of democracy”. It would also offer a free online course examining the social, economic, environmental, cultural and political impact of the dictatorship.

    Folha’s editor-in-chief, Sérgio Dávila, said the campaign was born out of the realisation that more than half of the country’s population were too young to remember a period that for all its abominations is still celebrated by Brazil’s far-right leader and many of Bolsonaro’s devotees.

    [… Bolsonaro] has packed his cabinet with military men, and in recent months he has attended a series of anti-democracy rallies, including one outside the Brazilian army headquarters in the capital, Brasília.

    Hardcore supporters at the rallies held up banners demanding the closure of democratic institutions and the return of a dictatorship-era decree used to crack down on opponents in the late 1960s.

    One small group of pro-Bolsonaro radicals, whose members were subsequently arrested, tried to storm congress and launched fireworks at the supreme court earlier this month.

    Prominent bolsonaristas, including the president’s national security chief and his son, have also hinted that some form of military takeover could be on the cards.


    The provocations have, however, stirred fears of a return to military rule and spawned a growing number of pro-democracy coalitions involving figures from both left and right. Those initiatives include a recent manifesto inspired by Diretas Já — a historic pro-democracy movement that helped to end the dicatorship.

    Dávila said Folha’s campaign was also modelled on Diretas Já, including its decision to “rescue” the colour yellow as a symbol of democracy.

    Under Bolsonaro, Brazil’s yellow and green flag and yellow football shirt have become unmistakable emblems of support from the rightwing populist. […]

  48. blf says

    Some nazi nutcases in St Louis threaten peaceful protesters with guns. Hair furor approves (from the Gruaniad’s current States politics and pandemic live blog):

    Trump retweets video of white couple pointing guns at protesters

    In another move bound to prove controversial and inflammatory — and perhaps to deflect attention from reports about Russia placing bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan — Donald Trump has just retweeted news footage of a couple in St Louis, Missouri, pointing guns at protesters marching for police reform:


    The unidentified man in the footage holds an assault-style rifle, the woman a handgun. Here’s an extract from the AP report on the incident:

    A white couple pointed guns at protesters in St Louis, Missouri, as a group marched toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation.

    A social media video showed the unidentified armed couple standing outside their home on Sunday evening in the Central West End neighbourhood shouting at protesters, while people in the march moved the crowd forward, urging participants to ignore them.

    The group of at least 500 people were heading towards the home of the mayor, Lyda Krewson, chanting, “Resign Lyda, take the cops with you,” news outlets reported.

    Calls for her resignation came after a Facebook live briefing on Friday, at which Krewson read the names and addresses of several residents who wrote letters to the mayor suggesting she defund the police department.

    The video was removed from Facebook and Krewson apologised on Friday, stating she did not intend to cause distress.

    Reporting over the weekend said part of Trump’s planned campaign reset would focus on how he can keep people safer, amid such protests, than Joe Biden.

  49. says

    Ryan Goodman:

    Associated Press confirms: Trump knew

    “Intelligence officials told the AP that the president was briefed on the matter earlier this year”

    Plus: “The administration discussed several potential responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step.”

    AP link atl.

  50. says

    Here’s a link to the June 29 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Daily new cases in India near 20,000 as Mumbai extends lockdown

    India reported close to 20,000 new Covid-19 cases for the second day running on Monday, as the financial hub of Mumbai extended its lockdown by a month.

    There were 19,459 new cases reported in the previous 24 hours, according to data from India’s federal health ministry. That is down slightly from Sunday’s record of 19,906.

    India lags behind only the United States, Brazil and Russia in total cases.

    More than 16,000 have now died from the disease caused by the virus since the first case in India in January – low when compared to countries with similar numbers of cases.

    But experts fear its hospitals will be unable to cope with a steep rise in cases.

  51. blf says

    French court jails ex-PM Fillon over fake jobs scandal involving his wife:

    A French court on Monday found former Prime Minister Francois Fillon guilty of embezzlement of public funds in a fake jobs scandal that wrecked his 2017 run for president and opened the Elysée Palace door for Emmanuel Macron.

    Fillon was sentenced to five years in prison, three of them suspended. The court ordered him to pay 375,000 euros in fines and barred him from seeking public office for 10 years.


    Fillon’s bid for the presidency unravelled after allegations surfaced that he had paid his British-born wife hundreds of thousands of euros for doing little, if any, work as his parliamentary assistant.

    “The payment was disproportionate to the work done,” the chief judge said, reading the court’s ruling. “Mrs Fillon was hired for a position that was without use.”

    The Fillon couple were also ordered to pay 401,000 euros in damages to France’s National Assembly.


    Now for Jared Kushner and the other nepotism in Wacko House.

    Here in France, yesterday was the 2nd round of the local elections, postponed from earlier in the year due to the pandemic. The socialist mayor of Paris kept her job, as did the PM (who is also mayor of Le Havre (his deputy does the actual mayoral duties whilst he’s PM)), and unfortunately, teh le penazis & their allies did take Perpignan, a city here on the South coast very close to Spain. The Greens (Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV)) are apparently the big winners, apparently taking Marseille (also here on the Mediterranean coast and the second-biggest city in France), Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Poitiers, etc. Very low turnout (c.40%).

  52. says

    These are the pending Supreme Court cases (from the link @ #72):

    Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc.
    A case in which the Court will decide whether a provision of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 creating an exception to the prohibition on automated calls for government debt collection calls violates the First Amendment, and whether the proper remedy for any constitutional violation is to sever the exception from the remainder of the statute.

    Chiafalo v. Washington
    A case in which the Court will decide whether “faithless elector” laws, which require presidential electors to vote the way state law directs, violate the First Amendment rights of the electors.

    Colorado Department of State v. Baca
    A case in which the Court will decide the constitutionality of state laws that prohibit so-called “faithless” electors from casting their votes in the Electoral College, and whether those electors may sue the state for enforcing such laws.

    Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue
    A case in which the Court will decide whether a state law that provides funding for education but excludes religious education options violates the Religion Clauses or the Equal Protection Clause of the federal Constitution.

    June Medical Services LLC v. Russo
    A case in which the Court will decide whether the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding Louisiana’s law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital conflicts with the Court’s binding precedent in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

    Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania
    A case in which the Court will decide whether the federal government acted properly when it added extensive exemptions to regulations requiring employers to include contraceptive coverage in employee health plans.

    Mathena v. Malvo
    A case in which the Court will decide whether its prior decision regarding constitutional rules for sentencing juveniles is a substantive rule of constitutional law and thus retroactive, as the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, below, concluded in direct conflict with Virginia’s highest court.

    McGirt v. Oklahoma
    A case in which the Court will decide whether parts of eastern Oklahoma is an Indian reservation subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction.

    Opati v. Republic of Sudan
    A case in which the Court held that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) applies retroactively, thereby permitting recovery of punitive damages against foreign states for terrorist activities occurring prior to the passage of the current version of the statute.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru
    A case in which the Court will decide whether the First Amendment’s religion clauses prevent civil courts from adjudicating employment-discrimination claims brought by an employee against her religious employer, when the employee carried out important religious functions.

    Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    A case in which the Court will decide (1) whether the vesting of substantial executive authority in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent agency led by a single director, violates the separation of powers; and (2) whether, if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is found unconstitutional on the basis of the separation of powers, 12 U.S.C. § 5491(c)(3) is severable from the Dodd-Frank Act.

    Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP
    A case in which the Court will decide whether the Constitution prohibits subpoenas issued to Donald Trump’s accounting firm requiring it to provide non-privileged financial records relating to Trump and certain of his businesses.

    Trump v. Vance
    A case in which the Court will decide whether, consistent with Article II and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, a county prosecutor may subpoena a third-party custodian for the financial and tax records of a sitting president, over which the president has no claim of executive privilege.

    U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. B.V.
    A case in which the Court will decide whether the addition by an online business of a generic top-level domain (“.com”) to an otherwise generic term can create a protectable trademark, despite the Lanham Act’s prohibition on generic terms as trademarks.

    United States Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc.
    A case in which the Court will resolve a question over the scope of Congress’s power to condition federal funding to organizations that fight HIV/AIDS abroad on those organizations’ express policies on prostitution and sex trafficking.

    Walker v. United States
    A case in which the Court will decide whether a criminal offense that can be committed with a mens rea of recklessness can qualify as a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

  53. blf says

    Iran issues arrest warrant for Trump, asks Interpol to help:

    Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining US President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the drone strike that killed [General Soleimani and others] in Baghdad.

    Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on Monday that Trump, along with more than 30 others Iran accuses of involvement in the January 3 attack that killed General Qassem Soleimani, face “murder and terrorism charges”, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.


    Alqasimehr was also quoted as saying Iran had requested a “red notice” be put out for Trump and the others, the highest-level notice issued by Interpol, requesting that seeks the location and arrest of the individual named.

    Under a red notice, local authorities make the arrests on behalf of the country that requested it. The notices cannot force countries to arrest or extradite suspects, but can put government leaders on the spot and limit suspects’ travel.

    After receiving a request, Interpol meets by committee and discusses whether or not to share the information with its member states. Interpol has no requirement for making any of the notices public, though some do get published on its website.

    It is unlikely Interpol would grant Iran’s request as its guideline for notices forbids it from “undertaking any intervention or activities of a political” nature.


  54. says

    SCOTUSblog liveblog: “Justice Breyer dissents, joined by Ginsburg and Sotomayor. He says this case ‘is not about the First Amendment rights of foreign organizations. It is about–and has always been about–the First Amendment rights of American organizations’.”

  55. says


    Chief’s bottom line is stare decisis: “The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

    “We have examined the extensive record carefully and conclude that it supports the District Court’s findings of fact. Those findings mirror those made in WWH in every relevant respect and require the same result. We consequently hold that the Louisiana statute is unconstitutional.”

  56. says

    #SCOTUS rules that structure of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional because the agency is led by one director who can only be removed ‘for cause’, but leaves rest of statute creating the CFPB in place”

  57. says

    Elie Mystal:

    Lost in the abortion ruling… @SenatorCollins said that Brett Kavanaugh would “follow precedent” when it came to abortion rights, but today JOHN ROBERTS followed precedent, explicitly so, and Kavanaugh DID NOT.

    Never forget that Susan Collins lied to you about Kavanaugh.

    I know the political media doesn’t usually pay *that* much attention to the Supreme Court. But honest @SenatorCollins shouldn’t be able to go for a coffee today without cameras in her face asking her to explain the Kavanaugh vote again.

    Her condescending and almost contemptuous speech announcing her vote to confirm Kavanaugh was one of the most infuriating moments in the whole travesty.

  58. says

    That last one is a really good question. Regardless of what Trump knew when and whether he read his briefings at all, surely this is the kind of thing that ought to be briefed to the intelligence committees. Someone had to have made a decision not to.

  59. tomh says

    The SC also declined to take up a challenge to new federal death penalty procedure, clearing the way for the first federal executions in 17 years. Barr has said there are 3 scheduled for July and another for August.

  60. says

    AJ – “Protests target Bolsonaro after Brazil’s worst coronavirus week”:

    Protesters in Brazil and around the world gathered to denounce President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Latin American country recorded its worst week in terms of new cases.

    The “Stop Bolsonaro” protests were staged online and on the streets in Brazil’s main cities and in more than 20 other countries on Sunday, demanding the right-wing leader’s resignation and calling him a threat to democracy.

    Brazil registered its highest number of infections at 259,105 in seven days through Sunday, according to health ministry figures.

    The country also reported its second-highest weekly death toll, with 7,005 people killed, just below the record of 7,285 set the previous week.

    With more than one million registered cases of the coronavirus and 57,622 deaths, Brazil has risen in the charts as a global hot spot for the pandemic – second only to the US in the number of cases and fatalities.

    Bolsonaro, who called the coronavirus a “little flu”, has come under heavy fire over his handling of the crisis and his continued denial of the growing evidence of the disease’s deadly impact on Latin America’s most populous country.

    In the capital, Brasilia, protesters put up 1,000 crosses on a lawn in front of Congress to pay tribute to COVID-19 victims, with a banner reading “Bolsonaro, stop denying!”

    “Brazil is suffering immense pain, a hidden pain that throbs in the face of the incredible numbers of deaths caused by COVID-19,” the organisers said in a statement.

    Waving red flags and holding banners, the protesters, who included members of left-wing parties, also joined a rally in Sao Paulo.

    At Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Copacabana beach, military police clutching riot shields used batons to push back people protesting under the slogan “Stop Bolsonaro” as well as for Gay Pride day and against racism.

    The harsh police reaction against the crowd of around 200 drew more people to protest from their windows, shouting “Get out, Bolsonaro!”…

  61. says

    Guardian – “Poland set for ‘dirty’ political campaign ahead of presidential run-off”:

    Poland is set for a fortnight of political campaigning that will be combative, intense and is likely to involve “dirty” smears of the challenger from public media outlets, ahead of a presidential run-off on 12 July.

    Most polls have shown the vote is likely to be extremely close and the result will be decisive for the country’s future political trajectory.

    In Sunday’s first round, incumbent Andrzej Duda, allied to Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government, won 43.7% of the vote, while his main challenger, Rafał Trzaskowski, won 30.4%.

    PiS won power in 2015 and embarked on an agenda that has mixed right-wing populist rhetoric on social and cultural issues with increased government spending. Duda has been a loyal ally, signing off on almost all of the PiS legislative programme, as the government has stood accused of democratic backsliding and weakening the rule of law by European officials and civil society organisations.

    “It’s the last battle, it’s a battle about everything. It’s historical. Three more years for them is enough time to finish building this entire infrastructure of power,” said Sławomir Sierakowski, head of Krytyka Polityczna, a left-wing publishing house in Warsaw.

    Opponents of PiS say that if Trzaskowski wins, he will be able to frustrate the legislative agenda of PiS through the presidential veto, as well as provide a different face of Poland to Brussels and the outside world.

    Poland’s former president Aleksander Kwaśniewski said on Monday he expected a “dirty campaign” over the next two weeks, with a potential media smear campaign against Trzaskowski.

    Duda has taken advantage of the support of Poland’s partisan public television network, which has boosted his campaign, while portraying Trzaskowski as beholden to LGBTQ+, Jewish or foreign interests. Analysis by the OKO[dot]press news portal found that in the three hours after polls closed, public television showed Duda speaking for 56 minutes, while Trzaskowski was featured for just eight minutes.

    Election monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Monday public media had heavily favoured Duda and had “failed in its duty to offer balanced and impartial coverage”. In a statement, the OSCE also accused Duda of using “inflammatory language” and running a campaign that “was at times xenophobic and homophobic”.

    Pitching for the middle ground in strongly Catholic Poland, and trying to shake off claims by pro-government media that he is an “extremist candidate”, Trzaskowski has sidestepped the LGBTQ+ rights issue for most of the campaign. Instead, he has spoken about equality and tolerance in general terms.

    On Sunday night, he appealed to the votes of the dissatisfied on all sides of the political spectrum….

  62. says

    G liveblog:

    Pandemic “not even close to being over” – WHO chief

    The Covid-19 pandemic is not even close to being over, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing on Monday.

    He said:

    We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives.

    But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over.

    Although many countries have made some progress globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up.

    The global body is planning to convene a meeting this week to assess progress in research towards fighting the disease.

  63. blf says

    Ben Jennings in the Grauniad, On [PM Boris] Johnson’s pledge to rebuild the UK economy (cartoon).

    Also in the Grauniad, Martin Rowson On Britons flocking to the beaches (cartoon): “Sooooo Embrasscing”. In case you don’t recognise it, the original is a c.1908 advertising poster, Skegness is SO bracing. The cartoon is referring to an incident several days ago when multiple beaches were heavily crowded — in the middle of a pandemic — Major incident declared as people flock to England’s south coast, with no social distancing, essentially no masks, and the sort of loutish & rowdy behaviour typical of England’s often-polluted beaches. (When I lived in England, I never ever went near the seaside beaches, not even when attending music festivals in seaside villages / towns.)

  64. says

    Polling update: The latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll shows Trump has a 40% approval rating, and a 58% disapproval rating. Worst disapproval rating of Trump’s term so far.

    In other campaign news:

    The Biden campaign released statistics over the weekend on the diversity of its staff. As the New York Times noted, “35 percent of his full-time staff members and 36 percent of his full-time senior staff members are people of color. A majority of Mr. Biden’s staff members and senior staff members are women — 53 percent and 58 percent, respectively.”

  65. says

    About that couple with guns, the man and woman who threatened protestors with guns:

    Statement from attorney Mark McCloskey:
    “A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear of our lives.”

    That turns out to be bullshit. There’s video of protestors walking through the open gate, which is not damaged, and protestors were walking in the street, not onto McCloskey’s property:

    In this video you can see protestors walk right through the gate. It’s not destroyed when they walk onto the street.

    You can hear McCloskey, “get the hell out of my neighborhood.”

    From Walter Einenkel:

    […] This, of course, begs the following questions: a) whether or not protesters were the ones to break this gate, and b) was the gate broken after a couple escalated a peaceful protest by brandishing and threatening people with weapons? It’s hard to say, and it’s sad that the gate is broken. According to St. Louis reporter Alexis Zotos, the McCloskeys’ mansion is the first residence on Portland Place, a “private street.” […]

    According to St. Louis Magazine, the McCloskeys have owned the palatial mansion for at least 30 years and have sunk a lot of money into restoring it back to its somewhat aristocratic origins […]


  66. says

    Trump is still trying to deny the obvious:

    Donald Trump again denied having been briefed on the Russian bounty program paying the Taliban to target American troops in Afghanistan. “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!” Trump tweeted Sunday night.

    It’s not just The New York Times reporting that Russia paid the Taliban to attack U.S. troops. The Washington Post reported that the program resulted in American deaths. The Wall Street Journal and Britain’s Sky News have also reported on the program, with their own sources confirming it. Trump’s denial is just the latest of a series from his White House, but the thing is, Trump’s White House doesn’t have a lot of credibility or a reputation for truth telling. […]

    when it’s sources confirming the story to multiple publications vs. the Trump White House, the presumption of truth is not with the White House. The question is what the truth behind the lies coming from the White House is. Was Trump briefed and he just didn’t pay attention? Briefed and didn’t have a problem with it? Not briefed because intelligence officials worried he’d get right on the phone to Russian President Vladimir Putin and reveal the sources of the intelligence?

    This is yet another scandal that would define a presidency, if the volume of Trump’s scandals hadn’t already overwhelmed the possibility of any single issue breaking through to be the one that people remember. And the White House’s muddled response, along with Trump’s need to personally lash out on Twitter, guarantees that it will drag on, with new information leaking out bit by bit.


  67. tomh says

    Jacksonville issues public face mask requirement

    Jacksonville, Fla., announced Monday that it would require the use of face masks indoors and in public to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

    The Republican National Committee relocated the main events of its August convention, including President Trump’s acceptance speech, to the city…

    Poor Trump, where will he go next?

  68. says

    Voters in deep-red Oklahoma weigh Medicaid expansion as virus cases climb

    A ballot measure on Tuesday, if successful, could also set back Trump’s efforts to block grant Medicaid.

    Voters in deep-red Oklahoma this week could order Medicaid expansion for at least 200,000 poor adults, defying state and Trump administration officials fighting to limit the Obamacare program.

    If voters approve a ballot measure on Tuesday, Oklahoma would become the first state to broadly expand government-backed health insurance to many of its poorest residents since the beginning of a pandemic that has stripped many people of coverage. At the same time, that could scuttle the Trump administration’s efforts to make Oklahoma a test case for its plan to transform the entitlement program into a block grant. […]

  69. blf says

    In teh NKofE†, Woman sues police for telling her to cover up anti-Boris Johnson T-shirt:

    A woman who was challenged by police officers for wearing an anti-Boris Johnson T-shirt at a Black Lives Matter demonstration is launching legal action against them over the right to free speech and political debate.

    Jessie-Lu Flynn, an actor who is also the founder of the immersive theatre company Wide Eyes, estimates that she has attended more than a dozen demonstrations wearing the “Fuck Boris” T-shirt without being challenged by the police.

    But that changed when she attended a BLM demonstration in central London on 3 June. She did not experience any problems at the demonstration itself. She said she saw various banners bearing the same slogan but did not see any intervention by police officers to challenge those holding these banners.

    When she and a friend left the demonstration and were walking to Oxford Circus she saw two police officers gesturing to her. She did not understand what they were trying to communicate and went over to speak to them.

    She was asked to zip up her jacket to cover up the slogan and was informed that she was in breach of section 5 of the Public Order Act, which states that: “A person is guilty of an offence if he — (a) uses threatening words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening.”

    It is not an offence if they “had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress”.

    Flynn filmed part of the incident on her phone and when she posted it on YouTube it went viral. The officers, from British Transport Police, informed her that she was in breach of the law by wearing the T-shirt because it displayed an obscene word that could cause alarm or distress.


    Her lawyers, Joanna Khan and Michael Oswald at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, are arguing that the officers were in breach of human rights legislation. […]

    Khan and Oswald said: “Being able to criticise politicians is fundamentally important in a democracy. The importance of freedom of speech should be particularly clear to this prime minister who has compared women in burqas to letterboxes without any criminal sanction himself.”


      † NKofE — N.Korea of Europe — sometimes called the “U”K, a small and largely not-relevant isolated authoritarian nuclear-armed land ruled by paranoid self-serving wealthy gangsters having no concern for the other inhabitants of that land.

  70. says

    From Wonkette:

    Princeton University announced this weekend that it’s removing noted racist crackpot President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges, where presumably some Black students live. Princeton’s board voted in 2016 to keep the 28th president’s name on campus buildings and programs, despite student protests, so this is four years and a few dozen dead Black people late. But it’s something.

    Princeton’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, released a statement acknowledging that Wilson wasn’t just racist “for his time” — a cop-out statement that diminishes the victims of racism at that time — but was exceptionally racist.

    Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time. He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades, thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice. He not only acquiesced in but added to the persistent practice of racism in this country, a practice that continues to do harm today.

    […] When a university names a school of public policy for a political leader, it inevitably suggests that the honoree is a model for students who study at the school. This searing moment in American history has made clear that Wilson’s racism disqualifies him from that role. […]

    […] Wilson tried to justify his segregationist policies during a 1914 meeting with civil rights activist and newspaper editor William Monroe Trotter. Wilson said there was “great prejudice against colored people,” which Trotter probably already knew because he was Black. The president claimed it would “take one hundred years to eradicate this prejudice,” which seems like both a threat and overly optimistic in hindsight.

    WILSON: Segregation is not humiliating, but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen. If your organization goes out and tells the colored people of the country that it is a humiliation, they will so regard it, but if you do not tell them so, and regard it rather as a benefit, they will regard it the same. The only harm that will come will be if you cause them to think it is a humiliation.

    That’s some absurd racist double talk, worthy of Tucker Carlson, and Trotter stated firmly that the facts didn’t support Wilson’s racist actions. This pissed off Wilson, who said Trotter’s “manner” and “tone” offended him.

    TROTTER: But I have no passion in me, Mr. President, you are entirely mistaken; you misinterpret my earnestness for passion.

    Despite what old movies might have you believe, Black folks in the past weren’t running around singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” We had enough sense to oppose racial discrimination even when it was still filmed in black-and-white. The following year, Wilson would host a White House screening of KKK propaganda film Birth of a Nation, which he said was like “writing history with lightning.” (Trotter led protests against the film and was arrested at one outside the Tremont Theater in Boston, Massachusetts.)

    Birth of a Nation even quotes Wilson’s History of the American People, which claimed pro-Black congressional leaders had attempted “a veritable overthrow of civilization in the South … in their determination to put the white South under the heel of the Black South” — presumably by letting us vote and hold elected office. Wilson wrote that “white men were roused by a mere instinct of self preservation … until at last there had sprung a great Klu Klux Klan.” (The Klan was not great.)

    […] Princeton’s decision apparently devastated Texas senator and Princeton alum Ted Cruz […] Cruz tweeted the shocking news that Wilson was a Democrat. […]

    He’s got us there! Wilson was a Democrat. He even supported many progressive policies that are less “progressive” considering they would exclude Black Americans, whom he barely considered human. Cruz should understand — or admit that he understands — that political parties and ideologies aren’t set in concrete. They can shift over the years. One major realignment was after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Cruz is currently soaking in another one. Donald Trump’s overt white nationalism and the GOP’s enabling of his grossness has caused many decent — if there are such — Republicans to abandon the grand old party. This growing list includes but is not limited to Steve Schmidt, Ana Navarro, Nicole Wallace, and Sophia A. Nelson. […] Maybe Cruz still thinks there’s a political future in defending Confederate monuments and white supremacist presidents, both dead and alive, but the senator’s sailing on a Titanic with primarily white-robed passengers.

  71. blf says

    Republicans told to wear masks in House panel or be barred from speaking:

    After every single Republican on the coronavirus subcommittee turned up to a Friday meeting without wearing a mask, the Democratic chair has threatened to stop them from speaking at future meetings if they fail to do so again.

    Not wearing a mask in a confined space such as a committee hearing room violates rules written by Congress’s attending physician, if attendees intend to be in the space for more than 15 minutes.

    Representative Jim Clyburn who chairs the coronavirus subcommittee meetings released a letter on Monday morning, expressing his “profound disappointment” at this rule being flouted at a time when the “United States reached the highest number of new coronavirus cases on record, and after the disease has already killed more people in the United States than in any other nation on Earth”.

    Clyburn said he reminded attendees in person of that requirement and that posters outside the committee room also flagged the issue. […]

  72. says

    blf @111:

    NKofE — N.Korea of Europe — sometimes called the “UK”, a small and largely not-relevant isolated authoritarian nuclear-armed land ruled by paranoid self-serving wealthy gangsters having no concern for the other inhabitants of that land.

    Good definition.

    In other news the white guy who created the cartoon character Dilbert is upset:

    On Sunday night, Scott Adams, the creator of “Dilbert” and a total dillhole himself, announced on Twitter that he had been fired not once, not twice, but three times in his life for being a white man — one of those times being the time UPN canceled “Dilbert” the animated series we all forgot ever existed. […]

    I lost my TV show for being white when UPN decided it would focus on an African-American audience. That was the third job I lost for being white. The other two in corporate America. (They told me directly.)

    Curiously, that is not what Adams said in a 2006 interview with Ground Report.

    It was on UPN, a network that few people watch. And because of some management screw-ups between the first and second seasons the time slot kept changing and we lost our viewers. We were also scheduled to follow the worst TV show ever made: Shasta McNasty. On TV, your viewership is 75% determined by how many people watched the show before yours. That killed us.

    Seeing as “Shasta McNasty” was a show about a rap-rock band starring Gary Busey’s son, that seems plausible. A lot more plausible, frankly, than “Dilbert” getting canceled because Scott Adams was white. I won’t discount that perhaps he was told that, by someone, to spare his feelings, but as an actual fact? Seems dubious!

    Particularly since after “Dilbert” was canceled, UPN picked up both “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Roswell,” both of which were very white shows. I love “Buffy,” but how many seasons did it take to get a regular character (Principal Robin Wood) on there who wasn’t white? I mean, they killed off poor Kendra the Vampire Slayer after what? Three episodes? Where on earth poor Kendra was from that she had that Irish-Jamaican accent remains a mystery to this very day.

    But I digress.

    I watched the first episode of this show, for research purposes, and I gotta tell you, it was not good. It was cringey. Not because it was particularly outdated or “not PC,” but because the jokes were just painfully overwrought and not funny. Am I saying this because I do not like Scott Adams as a person and was invested in it being terrible? No, because I also knew that the voice of Alice, a lady at Dilbert’s office, is done by Kathy Griffin, whom I like and want good things for. Also, Dilbert and Dogbert were played, respectively, by Daniel Stern and Chris Elliott, which I think is a very bold and fascinating choice, what with them being the same guy and all. According to Wikipedia, Andy Dick, who is also that same guy, had a guest appearance. I am not mad at that.

    It just wasn’t good. The gist of the episode was that the company where Dilbert works had to come up with a new product, and his boss, who is stupid, wants them to come up with the name of the product first and then figure out what it does later. For some reason, this falls on Dilbert rather than any of the marketing people, who are too busy banging? […]

    If all of the episodes of this series were that excruciating, it’s not hard to see why it was canceled.

    Additionally, it ran for two seasons. […]

    In the comments on that tweet, there are myriad white men complaining that they, too, were fired or not hired for being white men, and that they were told as much by bosses who clearly did not care that saying this directly would open them up to a lawsuit. Amazing! […]

    In reality, it turns out, the belief among white men that they are better at things but are unfairly losing out to minorities is deeply unfounded. Including in Dilbert’s specialty, engineering. The fact is, women are outperforming men in school, particularly in STEM fields, and companies are hiring less-qualified men in order to have some amount of gender balance. Whoops.

    Wonkette link

  73. says

    John Oliver Explains Why the Rent Crisis Could Make the Pandemic Even Worse

    Many have addressed these dangers, but perhaps no one else has done it using Pokémon.

    […] As Oliver points out, while evictions have been placed on hold, that only covers physically removing tenants from their homes. The federal moratorium on evictions—which only applies to about 25 percent of cases to begin with—allows the legal process of eviction proceedings to move forward as normal. The fact that those proceedings are sometimes conducted over Zoom because it’s not considered safe for people to leave their homes only underscores the possible consequences of people being turned out onto the streets en masse.

    The state and federal protections put in place at the onset of the pandemic are beginning to expire, and without them, Oliver warns, the coronavirus crisis could evolve into a terrible new phase. (Warning: He illustrates this point with a graphic of the Pokémon Mr. Mime topped with Kevin Spacey’s head.) […]

    Video available at the link.

    Related news: Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduces nationwide eviction moratorium bill

    The coronavirus is exposing America’s housing crisis. Democrats in Congress are proposing a nationwide eviction moratorium.

  74. says

    Azar says, basically, “Trust us.”

    The Trump administration is full steam ahead on its ridiculous Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but does not have the “exact details” for an alternative plan if the court wipes out the ACA. (You’re shocked, I can tell.)

    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar dropped that bombshell on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, telling Jake Tapper that if it happens: “We will work with Congress to create a program that genuinely protects individuals with preexisting conditions.” Right now the administration is arguing that the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions is unconstitutional. That was front and center of the brief they filed last week with the court.

    Azar also told Tapper the plan they don’t have details on now would be “something very different than what we see today.” Which, unless it’s Medicare for All, is pretty much not possible because there are only so many ways you can do private health insurance. “It is 2020. We haven’t seen a replacement plan,” Tapper reminded him […] Don’t worry, says Azar. Reelect Trump and it will be fine because “we have made very clear what we’re going to do, which is protect those with preexisting conditions through mechanisms that genuinely can protect them, real insurance, and have financing that meets the needs of people the way they want them met, not with a one- size-fits-all solution.” Which is utter gobbledygook, and the same gobbledygook we’ve been hearing for 10 years from Republicans. Ten. Years.

    “The exact details,” Azar said, “will be dependent on the—frankly, the composition of Congress if and when the Supreme Court does strike down all or a large part of Obamacare.” Give us Congress again, he says, and we’ll do it, we’ll have a plan. Like the one that failed in 2017 and led to the House flipping to Democrats? There. Is. No. Republican. Plan. […]

    That we’re still having this stupid fight with Republicans after 10 years is absurd. The very premise of this legal challenge to the law is absurd, as is the fact that Supreme Court would accept such a ridiculous case and that there are definitely four and possibly five justices who will gleefully take health coverage away from 24 million people. The only thing to do, America, is get rid of every Republican on the ballot this November.


  75. blf says

    Trump ignores Covid-19 risk in renewed attack on corrupt mail-in voting:

    Donald Trump has continued to suggest that fear of contracting Covid-19 is not a good enough excuse not to appear at the polls, and that Americans should only be able to vote by mail under limited circumstances:

    Absentee Ballots are fine. A person has to go through a process to get and use them. Mail-In Voting, on the other hand, will lead to the most corrupt Election is USA history. Bad things happen with Mail-Ins. Just look at Special Election in Patterson, N.J. 19% of Ballots a FRAUD!

    Trump is wrongfully conflating no-excuse vote by mail, a system where anyone can request a ballot, and universal mail-in voting, a system where all registered voters are mailed a ballot. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia allow anyone to request an absentee ballot, but just five have universal vote by mail.

    While fraud is extremely rare in mail-in voting, the New Jersey case Trump referenced occurred in a local election held entirely by mail and was caught as ballots were being counted.

    The president [sic] and his campaign have repeatedly tried to make the false distinction as part of an effort to explain why Trump and many other administration officials have voted by mail, even though they staunchly oppose the practice.


    Pressed on Trump’s history of voting by mail during a Sunday interview on 60 Minutes, Justin Clark, a senior adviser to the president’s [sic] campaign said, the president [sic] votes absentee. That’s different. If you are absent, you are ill, you’re outta state, you name it, there needs to be a mechanism whereby people can get their vote cast.

    That distinction is not accurate. Like 33 other states, Florida does not require an excuse to vote by mail. In Florida, all voters essentially go through the same process to request an absentee ballot, regardless of the reason they want to vote by mail. Florida itself describes its system as “vote-by-mail” and does not use the term “absentee” on the state website explaining the process.


    “Mr President [sic]: you still have no idea what you are talking about,” tweeted Amber McReynolds, a former election official in Denver who is now the chief executive of the National Vote at Home Institute.

    “It would make sense for you and your advisors to tour an election office or seek expert advice from those of us that have actually run an election.”

  76. says


    “I’m just different.”

    That’s what 23-year-old Elijah McClain told police in Aurora, Colo., after they stopped him as he walked home from a convenience store last August because someone saw the young black man and reported a suspicious person. Those would be some of McClain’s last words. They haunt me as the parent of a child who is neurodiverse.

    My autistic son was only 5 the first time I took him to our local police precinct so that officers could meet him and understand that he is different.

    Last summer, police tackled McClain, who was listening to music and may not have initially heard the officers. They put him in a carotid hold — which cuts off blood flow to the brain — and paramedics called to the scene administered ketamine, a strong sedative, although the unarmed, 140-pound McClain was already handcuffed and on the ground. McClain went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital.

    On body-cam footage, he could be heard pleading and sobbing in police custody: “Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.” He also told officers that he loved them.

    Like many Americans, I had not heard of McClain until this month […] (McClain himself told police he was an introvert.)

    I only knew that being different and black in America means that my son is vulnerable if stopped by police. A 2016 report, analyzing incidents from 2013 to 2015, found that nearly half the people killed by police had some sort of disability. A 2019 study of police-involved deaths found that 1 in every 1,000 black men is at risk of being killed by law enforcement.

    My son’s behavior can be unpredictable. He doesn’t read social cues, and he doesn’t really understand authority. When he makes a mistake, he often starts shouting. After he calms down, he always apologizes — almost immediately — for “causing a little bit of trouble.”

    I took my son to the police station as a kindergartner because I wanted officers to understand more about autism and how he might react if they confronted him. Autistic people may be extra sensitive to light, sound and touch, or have difficulty following commands — especially if they are yelled. So to officers, their behavior can appear suspicious or aggressive. Confrontations between police and people with autism often escalate quickly. Police need better, and mandatory, training about people who are “different,” people like McClain or my son. Some departments use virtual reality programs to simulate interactions with someone who is autistic. A Florida-based organization that certifies theme parks as autism-friendly also provides training for first responders.

    I’m scared of how my son’s behavior might be interpreted by others even now. I’ve been trying for years to get him to walk on the sidewalk and not cross the grass in other people’s yards. If he sees a flower or leaf he likes, he often approaches to get a closer look. I’m terrified that someday he’s going to try to pick the wrong flower in the wrong yard. […]

    Washington Post link

  77. says

    From text quoted by blf in comment 117:

    “Mr President [sic]: you still have no idea what you are talking about.”

    Yes! I wish someone would say that to Hair Furor’s face every time he lies.

    In other news, a TPM reader offered this commentary on this morning’s Supreme court decision on stare decisis (abortion issue):

    A very interesting abortion decision for John Roberts.

    I think that Roberts deserves this much credit: He may vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, but Roberts seems reflexively opposed to hollowing out abortion rights through sneaky ancillary attacks, like limiting standing in abortion cases to pregnant women or allowing intellectually dishonest regulations that claim to “protect the health of mothers” by stripping their rights away. It almost seems like Roberts is telling his conservative peers that if the Court strikes down abortion rights, it should do so by grappling with the core holding of Roe v. Wade rather than through these stealth attacks.

    This must be very frustrating for the conservative justices who see a much easier path by gradually eroding abortion rights so that Roe v. Wade can be eliminated in the future with a whimper rather than a bang.

  78. says

    Quoted in blf’s #113:

    After every single Republican on the coronavirus subcommittee turned up to a Friday meeting without wearing a mask, the Democratic chair has threatened to stop them from speaking at future meetings if they fail to do so again.

    Everyone’s been focusing on Gohmert’s embarrassing shenanigans at the beginning of the Judiciary Committee hearing, and rightly so, but later in the hearing one of the Dems criticized Jim Jordan for sitting up on the dais without a mask, and he started in on how no one cares about this and “The only unmasking we should be concerned about is the unmasking of General Flynn by the Democrats.” Then, stupidly grinning like he’d invented the cleverest political line ever, he repeated “The only unmasking we should be concerned about…”

  79. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Trump believes wearing a mask is personal decision

    US president Donald Trump believes the decision to wear a mask to help prevent spreading coronavirus, currently infecting record numbers of people in many places in the United States, is personal, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday.

    “Its his choice to wear a mask. It’s the personal choice of any individual as to whether to wear a mask or not,” McEnany said, when asked about a new mandate to wear masks in Jacksonville, Florida, where part of the Republican nominating convention will be held.

    “He encourages people to make whatever decision is best for their safety. But he did say to me he has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests,” she added.

    In a rare split with the mask-averse president, fellow Republican leaders are however making a public push for face coverings as Covid-19 cases surge in some Republican-leaning states, Reuters reports….

    It isn’t a fucking personal decision. We’re in the middle of a pandemic caused by a virus spread by respiratory droplets. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, I’m so sick of this dipshittery.

  80. says

    “Russia denies allegation that it offered bounties to militants in Afghanistan for killing American troops” has somehow managed to trend on Twitter for three days. Major developments in the scandal come and go, but this propaganda remains. I don’t see how that could happen organically.

  81. says

    Follow-up to SC @125: Reddit Bans Trump Page For Repeated Rules Violations

    TPM link

    Reddit on Monday announced that it was terminating what was once one of the largest pro-Trump forums on the internet.

    The forum or “subreddit” was “The_Donald,” the most popular page on the site for Trump supporters. But in recent months, after being placed under tight restrictions by Reddit, its activity had fallen off almost entirely.

    For years, The_Donald served as a community of Trump fans and an incubator of memes, attacks and strategy — some of which ended up on [Trump’s] Twitter account.

    In a statement, Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman said the page was banned for consistently violating the site’s “Rule 1,” which prohibits “communities and users that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability.”

    The_Donald also violated the site’s rules against spamming and other attempts to undermine the platform’s integrity, Huffman said. […]

    The_Donald was one of about 2,000 subreddits banned Monday, though Huffman said only about 200 had more than 10 daily users. One of those was the subreddit for the popular socialist podcast Chapo Trap House, which “consistently host[ed] rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community,” Huffman said.

    The_Donald had been on thin ice for a while: A year ago, Reddit had “quarantined” the page, putting it behind an “opt-in” screen that required viewers to affirm they wanted to see its content.

    That move came after Media Matters tracked posts on the page that discussed attacking law enforcement officers in Oregon. (The officers were said to be looking for conservative members of the Oregon legislature who’d gone briefly into hiding in order to prevent the quorum needed to vote on a piece of climate change legislation.) […]

    The_Donald was so relentlessly self-promoting that it routinely dominated Reddit’s front page — so much so that content from other communities, from cat photos to celebrity interviews, had been marginalized. (Sound familiar?) […]

    The subreddit wasn’t just for Trump’s supporters — it was also for White House officials.

    Politico reported last year that Dan Scavino, the Trump assistant and White House social media guru, regularly checked Reddit — “with a particular focus on the pro-Trump /r/The_Donald channel.”

    That’s because the subreddit was home to a number of now-famous meme makers, who re-mixed videos to compliment “God Emperor” Trump, as he was frequently called on the forum — or, just as often, to attack his opponents.

    In 2017, The Atlantic noted that a then-shocking meme that Trump had posted on his Twitter account — of himself during a pro-wrestling event, body slamming someone with a CNN logo as a head — had originated on The_Donald.

  82. says

    NBC – “Reddit bans hundreds of subreddits for hate speech including Trump community”:

    Reddit said Monday it was banning about 2,000 subreddits including r/The_Donald, where supporters of President Donald Trump had gathered, in a crackdown the tech company said was aimed at communities that promote hate.

    “All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in a post on the site.

    The announcement came on the same day that Twitch, a live streaming service, temporarily banned Trump for “hateful conduct.” The company, which is owned by Amazon, said in a statement that politicians had to follow the same rulebook for using its site as anyone else, and it cited Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants.

    Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, said in response to the Twitch suspension that people should download the campaign’s app.

    Reddit had previously placed r/The_Donald behind an extra page that required users to click through, a restriction the company referred to as a “quarantine.” But even after that limited punishment, the subreddits moderators “have refused to meet our most basic expectations,” the company said.

    Many of the 2,000 other banned subreddits were dormant or had few daily users, Reddit said. Only about 200 had more than 10 daily users.

    “Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to support our communities by taking stronger action against those who try to weaponize parts of Reddit against other people,” Huffman, also a co-founder of the company, wrote.

    The announcement by San Francisco-based Reddit comes four months before the presidential election and as tech companies are increasingly at the center of political debates — often ones that anger politicians and spark discussion of government regulation.

    Twitch said Monday that two comments made by Trump on its service violated its rules against hateful conduct: a rebroadcast of past Trump comments when he called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” and a video from a rally where Trump spoke about “tough hombres” committing break-ins.

    “Like anyone else, politicians on Twitch must adhere to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. We do not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content, and will take action on content reported to us that violates our rules,” Twitch said in a statement. Any hateful conduct is considered a zero-tolerance violation, the company added.

    The Trump-focused Reddit community had been almost entirely abandoned in recent months. Only one new post has appeared in the last 100 days, as users were told to flee to a pro-Trump site that cloned Reddit’s functionality and design, but promised more lax moderation.

    The community was a notorious meeting hub for conspiracy theories ahead of the 2016 election and was embraced by the Trump campaign. Then-candidate Donald Trump conducted an “Ask Me Anything” question-and-answer session on the subreddit in the run-up to the 2016 election. Over 2,000 accounts were banned by the subreddit’s moderators for asking questions deemed negative about the future president. Trump’s digital director Dan Scavino said on Twitter in 2016 that he monitored the subreddit “daily.”

    While many tech platforms started out with a hands-off approach, Reddit stood out as a platform where hate speech thrived in numerous communities, some of which actively antagonized communities of color.

    The company made some changes to its rules to limit harassment but remained hesitant to crack down on hate speech. In 2018, when asked if the site would allow racial slurs and hate speech, Huffman said that “on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so.”

    Now, a new page on Reddit’s help section includes an expanded definition of hateful activities and examples that would violate its rules.

  83. says

    From Wonkette: Gun Companies Get In On The Boogaloo

    Gun companies are deliberately marketing weapons, ammunition, and Hawaiian shirts to dunderheads who say they want to start another Civil War. (I wish they’d leave the Hawaiian shirts out of this.)

    Over the past month or so, multiple crimes and acts of violence have been attributed to men associated with online Boogaloo groups, including the murder of a police officer and an attempted terrorist bombing. “Boogaloo” — sometimes styled as Big Igloo or Big Luau — is code for a second Civil War, a take on the classic 1980s dance movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, and members of these groups are hoping to be on the front lines. Or so they say on the internet. They wear Hawaiian shirts (because “Big Luau”) and hoard weaponry in preparation for this coming Civil War […]

    The movement is growing by the day, despite the many half-assed attempts by social media to put a lid on it, and gun manufacturers are getting hep to the fact that there is a lot of money to be made there.

    The Trace, a nonprofit newsroom focused on gun violence, reported on Monday that many gun companies are openly marketing to Boogaloo Boys, with hashtags, memes, Hawaiian-print themed guns and other paraphernalia, and even going so far as to ask these groups to list them as “Boogaloo-friendly” companies. And it’s worked. One of the biggest offenders, Fenix Ammunition, went from an average of $4,000 in sales per day to $40,000 per day, after the company — and its owner, Justin Nazaroff — jumped on the Boogaloo bandwagon. […]

    “I’ll be honest, it drives sales,” Nazaroff said in April of his company’s marketing practices. “People think it’s funny. People click on boogaloo memes. It’s something that gun people enjoy joking about.”

    “You can look up any firearms social media influencer and probably find them using the term boogaloo at some point in time,” he added. […] “It’s something that gun people enjoy joking about,” he says. Because sure, what’s more hilarious than murdering a bunch of people?

    […] cops are among those they say they wish to murder […] In fact, many of them have attempted to join the George Floyd protests, not because they give a damn that he was killed by a cop, but because they see it as an opportunity to engage in violence against cops themselves. And then, ideally, have that be blamed on Black people and Antifa, in hopes of getting that race war they’re so jazzed about.

    This puts companies like Fenix in a slightly awkward position, as they also supply police departments. It’s also awkward that that the Boogaloo movement has a strong Nazi bent, which Fenix pretends to not know about.

    In the days before the rally, members of a neo-Nazi group called The Base were arrested after federal agents said two of them discussed opening fire on the rally. An FBI affidavit claimed the group wanted to use the event to start the boogaloo, which some neo-Nazis see as a race war or civilizational collapse. […] Fenix posted on Instagram about our reporting, writing: “Our company wants nothing to do with anyone claiming to be a Nazi, or a white supremacist. We’ve banned people from our page for saying such things in the past and we’ll continue to do so in the future. The Boogaloo is for everyone.”

    Except not, because it’s supposed to be a race war.

    In another post, Fenix responded to a suggestion that looters target white neighborhoods, like Novi, Michigan, the Detroit suburb where Fenix is located. The response included a picture of four high-powered guns with the comment “send bachelors.”

    “Send bachelors” is a popular meme on the right. The gist of it is “people are going to die doing this thing, so don’t send anyone who has a family.” It’s pretty sickening. Earlier this year, when Democratic Governor Kate Brown of Oregon threatened to make state legislators do their job and vote on an environmental bill, Republican state Senator Brian Boquist responded by saying she had better “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon.”

    Oh boy, killing people sure is hilarious. And that’s exactly what these gun companies who are marketing to the Boogaloo Boys want everyone to think.

    “It’s literally an internet joke. It’s like ‘Harambe,'” said Dimitri Karras of Firearms Unknown, which sells “ghost guns,” unserialized but legal firearm parts that can be assembled by customers at home. […]

    [not a joke] These people are literally arming themselves and they’re actually going out there and hurting people, or at least trying to.

    As The Trace points out, using humor to make radical ideologies more palatable to people who might otherwise be turned off by them is a common tactic, particularly on the far right. Rewind back to 2015, and we saw a whole lot of people trying to claim the anti-Semitism and racism on 4chan and other right-wing sites and message boards was just totally ironic and not at all serious. Fast-forward a few years later and they’re marching down the streets of Charlottesville angrily chanting “Jews will not replace us.”

    It wasn’t a joke. It was never a joke. It was a purposeful erosion of societal norms. […]

    […] in order to have a Civil War you have to have people fighting against you, otherwise it’s just murder […] If someone were to spend hours in these groups, joking/fantasizing about killing all of us with people who also enjoy joking/fantasizing about killing all of us, if they were to see that they were being catered to by gun companies, they’re going to start feeling like it’s not totally out of the realm of normalcy to want to go on a killing spree of some kind. Especially if they were a little off to begin with.

    These companies may see themselves as simply taking advantage of an existing trend that benefits them, but what they’re doing is normalizing an extremely violent and dangerous subculture, and making it just a little easier for someone to do something drastic.

  84. says

    Jennifer Rubin re June Medical: “Bad news for Collins , who disingenuously claimed both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch would uphold Roe v. Wade. If not for Roberts, her votes on confirmation would have been disastrous for pro-choice voters. Her chances of reelection, already slim,are fading”

  85. says

    George Conway:

    This Russian-bounty story is as huge a presidential scandal as there can be. It’s an order of magnitude more outrageous than what he got impeached for, even though the Ukraine scandal was plainly criminal from the beginning. And it’s clearly not going away.

  86. says

    Pentagon officials were ‘pounding on the door’ to get Trump to do something about Russia’s assassination bounty.

    Raw Story link

    Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” longtime political columnist David Ignatius said that his own follow-up on the New York Times’ explosive report that Donald Trump’s administration was well aware that the Russians were offering a bounty for the death of U.S. military members revealed that Pentagon officials have “pounding on the door” and trying to get Donald Trump to do something about it.

    Speaking with host Joe Scarborough, Ignatius said he was stunned by the report from the Times and started looking into the details himself for confirmation.

    “Based on my reporting trying to confirm the New York Times’ excellent story it’s clear in late March you had senior U.S commanders, senior civilian intelligence officials, in effect pounding on the door of the White House saying we need to do something about this, we need to come to a conclusion about what damage the Russian program is doing, we need to reassess our programs in Afghanistan and they couldn’t get an answer,” he reported. “To this day there’s not an answer, there’s not a real response. Was this because the president was briefed and did nothing or because he wasn’t briefed because people were afraid to give him bad news and kept it to themselves? I don’t know.”

    “But it almost doesn’t matter in terms of the breakdown in terms of the way the government is supposed to work,” he continued. “In some ways, it’s almost worse the department didn’t tell him, ‘Mr. President while you’re encouraging Russia to rejoin the G8, we should mention Russia is putting bounties on the heads of American soldiers.’ If they didn’t tell him that, it’s a stunner.”

    “I think people are steamed up about it, there’s nothing that would make American commanders angrier other than the idea that their soldiers had targets on their back because of the actions of somebody that the president was still speaking of as a prospective ally,” he added.

  87. says

    Mitch McConnell shredded for coming out in support of wearing masks ’75 days’ and ‘125,000 bodies too late’

    Raw Story link

    Wearing a mask has somehow become part of the Republican Party’s ongoing war against science and facts. For some reason, […] Trump refuses to wear a mask and has mocked some of those who do so. […]

    Supporters have been dogged about their stance against masks, taking to municipal meetings to clutch their throats and pretend they are somehow suffocating.

    Public opinion has turned against the mask-phobic and many have posted videos of irate white women having public meltdowns when asked to put one on.

    Since the winds shifted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has decided that masks are important. “We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people. Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter.”

    Predictably, Republicans unleashed on McConnell treating him like a traitor to their pro-COVID advocacy. “You can take your mask and shove it up your a$$‼️”

    On the other side, it prompted many to ask where McConnell has been for the last 75 days and why McConnell has been so unwilling to weigh in on the mask battle until now. […] “That is an excellent, rational, informed assessment, and simple but superb advice. I do have one question, though…Who are you? And what have you done with McConnell?” […]

  88. says

    Follow-up to comment 107.

    TPM Reader BL writes in to offer a clarification on the gun-toting couple in St. Louis. It’s potentially important context in a legal sense, but in the larger context I’m not so sure that armed residents of a Gilded Age knockoff of an Italian Renaissance palazzo defending their own private street patrolled by private security guards changes the essential meaning we can draw from this cartoonish encounter:

    […] I’m a local St. Louis reader […]

    The street where “Bonnie & Clyde” live is Portland Place, and this is a private street in the city of St. Louis. (Maybe a little bit analogous to Gramercy Park in NYC.) The street is not city property, it is owned by the residents of Portland Place. It is blocked off from the city streets by a wall and a gate. The gate has a sign: “Private Place, No Trespassing.” […]

    Context is important for the legality of Bonnie & Clyde brandishing weapons in front of their house. The street where the protesters were walking was not a public right-of-way. Legally, it appears as if the protesters were trespassing just by dint of being on Portland Place at all.

    (Additional context: tourists cannot go strolling through that neighborhood either. If you walk through the gate and you’re NOT a resident, in less than a minute, private security is usually on the scene politely directing you to leave the neighborhood at once.)

    Just want to make clear: I support #BLM here in St. Louis and think Bonnie & Clyde were acting ridiculously. But there is a legal gray area here concerning “property” and that maybe needs additional clarification.

  89. says

    from 2018:

    ‘Kavanaugh’s views on women’s reproductive rights are crystal clear’, Sen. Feinstein [said]. ‘There aren’t any restrictions he would consider “too burdensome” to violate Supreme Court precedent related to women’s reproductive freedom’.”

  90. says

    Mississippi lawmakers voted Sunday to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, a symbol that has flown for more than 120 years. The state House and Senate approved a suspension of the rules Saturday, allowing for debate and a vote on the bill. It passed the House on Sunday by a vote of 91-23, quickly followed by a 37-14 Senate vote.

    NBC News link

  91. says

    One month after President Donald Trump ordered the nation’s governors to immediately reopen churches, his administration is facing a difficult dilemma.

    Clusters of Covid-19 cases are surfacing in counties across the U.S. where in-person religious services have resumed, triggering questions about whether his administration should reassess its campaign to treat houses of worship the same as other essential businesses, or leave them alone and risk additional transmission of the deadly coronavirus — including in communities that are largely supportive of the president.

    An outbreak at a Pentecostal church in Oregon, where hundreds of worshipers resumed gathering over Memorial Day weekend, forced an entire county to return to phase one of its reopening after local officials traced 258 cases of Covid-19 back to the facility. In West Virginia, six health departments across the state have reported coronavirus outbreaks linked to churches. One of them, a Baptist church in Greenbrier County, had 34 congregants test positive for the virus. And in Texas, which hit an all-time high of new cases last week, health officials have received numerous reports of church-related exposures. […]


  92. says

    From The New York Times:

    As the 2020 campaign enters its final months, the independent regulator of America’s elections will once again be without enough commissioners to do its job starting in July.

    One of the Federal Election Commission’s four current members, Caroline C. Hunter, a Republican, submitted a letter of resignation to President Trump on Friday, just weeks after a new commissioner had joined the agency and restored the minimum number of members required by law.

    “The F.E.C. would benefit greatly from new faces and fresh perspectives,” Ms. Hunter wrote in the letter, going on to rebuke a Democratic colleague on the commission with whom she and fellow Republican members had frequently deadlocked on votes, displaying reliably different views of the law.

    The agency has been dormant for most of the past year, unable to conduct investigations or impose penalties from September 2019 to June 2020 because only three commissioners were in place. There are six seats on the F.E.C. board, and at least four must be occupied for the agency to function fully. […]

  93. says

    Florida Man Rep. Matt Gaetz goes full white fright on Twitter and gets smashed … again

    Florida Man Rep. Matt Gaetz was online today, doing what he does online: saying stupid, frequently racist, shite. Gaetz was responding to the story out of St. Louis, Missouri, of the wealthy white lawyer couple who decided to stand in front of their home and threaten peaceful protesters with guns as those protesters walked—legally—down their street, on Twitter. He tweeted out an image of the couple and wrote:

    “In Joe Biden’s America your job is illegal, you are locked in your home, borders don’t exist, MS-13 lives next door and the police aren’t coming when the mob arrives. This is all of us.” Such a strange thing to say, eh? Very quickly, Rep. Gaetz’s Twitter feed was overrun with people wondering how Rep. Matt Gaetz is able to type and breathe at the same time. So, #MattGaetzIsATool began trending, as it seems to do at least once every week these days.

    Most people are empathetic by nature, so they wanted to give Gaetz some advice. […]


    See also:
    “Got to stop tweeting while drunk, Matt.”

    See also:

    More comments:

    Matt Gaetz doing his obligatory tweet to get #MattGaetzIsATool trending on twitter… once again. You’d think he’d take a day off once and a while but the man is a tool.
    So we all agree that you are a privileged white person with poor taste, little common sense, who doesn’t understand the concept of a well regulated militia and overreacts to the concept of democracy and diversity?

    Good, that’s settled.#MattGaetzIsATool
    In Trump’s America… We’ve got a botched response for a global pandemic, children still locked in cages, criminality persisting in the highest level of govt and Trump is ok with Russians paying bounties for dead US service members.

    Matt… You need to sit down and sober up.

  94. says

    Beyoncé urges public “to vote like our life depends on it, because it does”

    Superstar Beyoncé Knowles-Carter received the prestigious Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards on Sunday. Former first lady Michelle Obama presented the night’s biggest honor to the singer.

    “No matter how big the stages get, I know my girl isn’t satisfied unless she’s sharing all that shine she has with the next generation,” Mrs. Obama said. “She’s always turning up, looking out, and making us all a little bigger, better, a little more fierce. And she’s doing it all while staying devoted to her children and the loved ones she holds dear. So to my girl, I just want to say, you inspire me. You inspire all of us.”

    Beyoncé, who received the award in recognition of her philanthropic work through her BeyGOOD initiative, used her acceptance speech to acknowledge those who have been protesting against police brutality and racial inequality.

    “I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me—marching and fighting for change. Your voices are being heard, and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain,” she said. […]

    “I’m encouraging you to continue to take action. Continue to change and dismantle a racist and unequal system. We have to continue to do this together,” she said. “Continue to fight for each other and lift each other up, because there are people banking on us staying at home during the local elections and primaries happening in states across the country. We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”

    Beyoncé’s humanitarian efforts have covered a range of issues that are prominent in minority communities across America.

    In April, she announced that her BeyGOOD charity would collaborate with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and his Start Small campaign to donate $6 million in relief funds to African-American essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

    This past Mother’s Day weekend, the star teamed up with her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, to launch the the #IDIDMYPART campaign to promote coronavirus testing in minority communities in their hometown of Houston.

    Earlier this month, she posted an open letter on her website addressed to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, asking him to bring charges against the police officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor inside her home.

    And on Juneteenth the singer, who is fond of surprise releases, dropped her latest song, “Black Parade.” Proceeds from the new single will benefit BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund to support Black-owned small businesses, according to Beyoncé’s website.

  95. tomh says

    Those who are pinning their hopes on Chief Justice Roberts in the upcoming abortion cases (there are at least half a dozen in the pipeline that could make it to the SC) should pay attention to what he wrote in his concurring opinion released today.

    I joined the dissent in Whole Woman’s Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided. The question today however is not whether Whole Woman’s Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case…..

    He joined the majority today because the case was identical to the Texas case (Whole Woman’s Health.) That won’t be true of some of the upcoming abortion cases.

  96. says

    Sarcasm and humor from Andy Borowitz, writing for The New Yorker:

    In an act of retaliation against the Russians for sponsoring Taliban attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Donald J. Trump is sending Jared Kushner to the Kremlin to offer advice on its coronavirus response, the White House confirmed on Monday.

    “To all those who thought that this President was not taking the Russians’ actions seriously, this response should speak for itself,” the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said. “The President had an array of responses to choose from, and the one he selected is by far the most punishing.”

    According to White House insiders, Trump and his advisers debated the response to the Russians for hours before finally settling on the Kushner option late Sunday night.

    “Jared Kushner is the most brutal weapon in our arsenal, and deploying him is a decision that no one should ever take lightly,” one adviser said.

    McEnany indicated that Kushner will be dispatched to the Kremlin by Monday afternoon and will start advising the Kremlin on ventilators, personal protective equipment, and other coronavirus-related matters as early as Tuesday.

    “He will bring Russia to its knees,” she said.

    Many in Washington were surprised by the severity of Trump’s retaliation against the Russians, including the esteemed virologist Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    “I know that the Russians are our enemies, but I’m still not sure I would wish Jared Kushner on them,” he said.

  97. says

    CNN piece:

    In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

    The calls caused former top Trump deputies — including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials — to conclude that the President was often “delusional,” as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.

    By far the greatest number of Trump’s telephone discussions with an individual head of state were with Erdogan, who sometimes phoned the White House at least twice a week and was put through directly to the President on standing orders from Trump, according to the sources. Meanwhile, the President regularly bullied and demeaned the leaders of America’s principal allies, especially two women: telling Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom she was weak and lacked courage; and telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “stupid.”

    Trump incessantly boasted to his fellow heads of state, including Saudi Arabia’s autocratic royal heir Mohammed bin Salman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, about his own wealth, genius, “great” accomplishments as President, and the “idiocy” of his Oval Office predecessors, according to the sources.

    In his conversations with both Putin and Erdogan, Trump took special delight in trashing former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and suggested that dealing directly with him — Trump — would be far more fruitful than during previous administrations. “They didn’t know BS,” he said of Bush and Obama — one of several derisive tropes the sources said he favored when discussing his predecessors with the Turkish and Russian leaders.

    The full, detailed picture drawn by CNN’s sources of Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders is consistent with the basic tenor and some substantive elements of a limited number of calls described by former national security adviser John Bolton in his book, “The Room Where It Happened.” But the calls described to CNN cover a far longer period than Bolton’s tenure, are much more comprehensive — and seemingly more damning — in their sweep.

    Like Bolton, CNN’s sources said that the President seemed to continually conflate his own personal interests — especially for purposes of re-election and revenge against perceived critics and political enemies — with the national interest.

    To protect the anonymity of those describing the calls for this report, CNN will not reveal their job titles nor quote them at length directly. More than a dozen officials either listened to the President’s phone calls in real time or were provided detailed summaries and rough-text recording printouts of the calls soon after their completion, CNN’s sources said. The sources were interviewed by CNN repeatedly over a four-month period extending into June.

    One person familiar with almost all the conversations with the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Canada, Australia and western Europe described the calls cumulatively as ‘abominations’ so grievous to US national security interests that if members of Congress heard from witnesses to the actual conversations or read the texts and contemporaneous notes, even many senior Republican members would no longer be able to retain confidence in the President.

    The insidious effect of the conversations comes from Trump’s tone, his raging outbursts at allies while fawning over authoritarian strongmen, his ignorance of history and lack of preparation as much as it does from the troubling substance, according to the sources. While in office, then- Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats expressed worry to subordinates that Trump’s telephone discussions were undermining the coherent conduct of foreign relations and American objectives around the globe, one of CNN’s sources said. And in recent weeks, former chief of staff Kelly has mentioned the damaging impact of the President’s calls on US national security to several individuals in private.

    Two sources compared many of the President’s conversations with foreign leaders to Trump’s recent press “briefings” on the coronavirus pandemic: free form, fact-deficient stream-of-consciousness ramblings, full of fantasy and off-the-wall pronouncements based on his intuitions, guesswork, the opinions of Fox News TV hosts and social media misinformation.

    In addition to Merkel and May, the sources said, Trump regularly bullied and disparaged other leaders of the western alliance during his phone conversations — including French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison — in the same hostile and aggressive way he discussed the coronavirus with some of America’s governors.

    But his most vicious attacks, said the sources, were aimed at women heads of state. In conversations with both May and Merkel, the President demeaned and denigrated them in diatribes described as “near-sadistic” by one of the sources and confirmed by others….

    The calls “are so unusual,” confirmed a German official, that special measures were taken in Berlin to ensure that their contents remained secret….

    The calls with Putin and Erdogan were particularly egregious in terms of Trump almost never being prepared substantively and thus leaving him susceptible to being taken advantage of in various ways, according to the sources — in part because those conversations (as with most heads of state), were almost certainly recorded by the security services and other agencies of their countries.

    In numerous calls with Putin that were described to CNN, Trump left top national security aides and his chiefs of staff flabbergasted, less because of specific concessions he made than because of his manner — inordinately solicitous of Putin’s admiration and seemingly seeking his approval — while usually ignoring substantive policy expertise and important matters on the standing bilateral agenda,…

    In separate interviews, two high-level administration officials familiar with most of the Trump-Putin calls said the President naively elevated Russia — a second-rate totalitarian state with less than 4% of the world’s GDP — and its authoritarian leader almost to parity with the United States and its President by undermining the tougher, more realistic view of Russia expressed by the US Congress, American intelligence agencies and the long-standing post-war policy consensus of the US and its European allies.

    Both officials cited Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria — a move that benefited Turkey as well as Russia — as perhaps the most grievous example. “He gave away the store,” one of them said.

    Erdogan became so adept at knowing when to reach the President directly that some White House aides became convinced that Turkey’s security services in Washington were using Trump’s schedule and whereabouts to provide Erdogan with information about when the President would be available for a call.

    On some occasions Erdogan reached him on the golf course and Trump would delay play while the two spoke at length.

    Two sources described the President as woefully uninformed about the history of the Syrian conflict and the Middle East generally, and said he was often caught off guard, and lacked sufficient knowledge to engage on equal terms in nuanced policy discussion with Erdogan. “Erdogan took him to the cleaners,” said one of the sources.

    The sources said that deleterious US policy decisions on Syria — including the President’s directive to pull US forces out of the country, which then allowed Turkey to attack Kurds who had helped the US fight ISIS and weakened NATO’s role in the conflict — were directly linked to Erdogan’s ability to get his way with Trump on the phone calls.

    Despite the lack of advance notice for many of Erdogan’s calls, full sets of contemporaneous notes from designated notetakers at the White House exist, as well as rough voice-generated computer texts of the conversations, the sources said.

    According to one high-level source, there are also existing summaries and conversation-readouts of the President’s discussions with Erdogan that might reinforce Bolton’s allegations against Trump in the so-called “Halkbank case,” involving a major Turkish bank with suspected ties to Erdogan and his family….

    Unlike Bolton, CNN’s sources did not assert or suggest specifically that Trump’s calls with Erdogan might have been grounds for impeachment because of possible evidence of unlawful conduct by the President. Rather, they characterized Trump’s calls with heads of state in the aggregate as evidence of Trump’s general “unfitness” for the presidency on grounds of temperament and incompetence, an assertion Bolton made as well in an interview to promote his book with ABC News last week:…

    In addition to rough, voice-generated software transcription, almost all of Trump’s telephone conversations with Putin, Erdogan and leaders of the western alliance were supplemented and documented by extensive contemporaneous note-taking (and, often, summaries) prepared by Fiona Hill, deputy assistant to the President and senior NSC director for Europe and Russia until her resignation last year. Hill listened to most of the President’s calls with Putin, Erdogan and the European leaders, according to her closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last November.

    Elements of that testimony by Hill, if re-examined by Congressional investigators, might provide a detailed road-map of the President’s extensively-documented conversations, the sources said. White House and intelligence officials familiar with the voice-generated transcriptions and underlying documents agreed that their contents could be devastating to the President’s standing with members of the Congress of both parties — and the public — if revealed in great detail. (There is little doubt that Trump would invoke executive privilege to keep the conversations private. However, some former officials with detailed knowledge of many of the conversations might be willing to testify about them, sources said.)

    The common, overwhelming dynamic that characterizes Trump’s conversations with both authoritarian dictators and leaders of the world’s greatest democracies is his consistent assertion of himself as the defining subject and subtext of the calls — almost never the United States and its historic place and leadership in the world, according to sources intimately familiar with the calls.

    In numerous calls with the leaders of the UK, France, Germany, Australia and Canada — America’s closest allies of the past 75 years, the whole postwar era — Trump typically established a grievance almost as a default or leitmotif of the conversation, whatever the supposed agenda, according to those sources.
    “Everything was always personalized, with everybody doing terrible things to rip us off — which meant ripping ‘me’ — Trump — off. He couldn’t — or wouldn’t — see or focus on the larger picture,” said one US official.

    “There was no sense of ‘Team America’ in the conversations,” or of the United States as an historic force with certain democratic principles and leadership of the free world, said the official. “The opposite. It was like the United States had disappeared. It was always ‘Just me’.”

    Much, much more at the link.

  98. says

    Erin Burnett on CNN just showed video of Trump from several weeks ago saying he “just can’t see” himself wearing a mask when meeting with “presidents, dictators, kings, queens,…” It’s really disturbing how he discusses dictators (and kings, insofar as he’s thinking of a nonceremonial role) like that’s just a totally normal and acceptable political form. And that’s setting aside his clear fear of dictators specifically seeing him as weak for wearing a mask.

  99. says

    Mitt Romney: “The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany would be a gift to Russia, and that’s the last thing we should do. Not to mention it threatens U.S. national security and undermines our NATO alliance. Our #FY21NDAA amendment would prevent this troop reduction.”

    Jennifer Griffin, Fox: “Def Secretary Esper was at White House today to discuss US military force posture in Europe, including pulling troops out of Germany, which sources tell me was former Ambassador Rick Grenell’s idea after Merkel rebuffed Pres Trump suggestion to host G-7 in person during pandemic.”

  100. says

    Since it appears nobody is mentioning it, Keir Starmer (centrist leader of the UK Labour Party) has said, recently, on the subject of LGBTQ:

    I’m convinced there’s a way forward here if everyone is prepared to stop chucking bricks at each other”

    Which is at best tone-deaf, given the context of, e.g., Stonewall, and if deliberate then deserving of censure. Nigel Farage, right-wing a**hat extraordinaire has issued a statement on Twitter “heartily agreeing” with Starmer.

    Meanwhile, on the subject of BLM, Starmer said today:

    That’s nonsense, and nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police. And I would have no truck with that. I was director of public prosecutions for five years, I worked with police forces across England and Wales, bringing thousands of people to court. So my support for the police is very, very strong and evidenced in the joint actions I have done with the police.

    There’s a broader issue here, the black lives matter movement, or moment if you like, internationally is about reflecting something completely different and it is about reflecting on what happened dreadfully in America a few weeks ago and showing or acknowledging that as a moment across the world.

    It’s a shame it’s getting tangled up with these organisational issues, with the organisation black lives matter but I wouldn’t have any truck with what the organisation is saying about defunding the police or anything else, that’s just nonsense.

    So, just as in the US, UK centrists are actively against actually doing anything minorities in practical terms as soon as they gain power, despite espousing rhetoric claiming they are deeply concerned. (Can’t wait to hear what the Democrats have in store for us, now that they’ve decided to nominate a rapist with a multi-decade history of this garbage.)

  101. says

    Most inmates at San Quentin test positive for coronavirus in last 14 days

    Most of the more than 1,000 inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

    A total of 1,021 of inmates at San Quentin currently have active cases of COVID-19, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). More than 95 percent of those cases – 978 cases – are classified as new in the last 14 days.

    The prison now has almost 40 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in the California prison system, which has a total of 2,573 confirmed cases. […]

  102. says

    Rachel Maddow’s interview with Susan Rice was great … very informative. I’ll look for a link to post when one becomes available.

  103. says

    Donald Trump Hates Being President, Hates Losing, and Hates the Americans About to Make Him a Losing President

    “He has no conscience, of course, but awareness of his complete inadequacy at every single aspect of this job must barge its way into his mind every so often.”

    Donald Trump’s aides tried their best to explain to The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng that POTUS really does have an agenda for a second term, but, as the headline says, his real reason is fear of becoming a one-term loser.

    He doesn’t want to accomplish much of anything as a matter of policy. There is a war going on in what passes for Trump’s soul, and because he’s such a needy, turbulent 5-year-old whose life is a nonstop freak show, we are all inevitably sucked into that war, which is this: He wants to win, but he doesn’t want any of the responsibilities that actually come with being president. […]

  104. says

    Great. The Vicar is here. I’ll now proceed to ignore the Vicar.

    AP – “AP sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019”:

    Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.

    The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.

    The White House did not respond to questions about Trump or other officials’ awareness of Russia’s provocations in 2019. The White House has said Trump was not — and still has not been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they have not been fully verified. However, it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials.

    The revelations cast new doubt on the White House’s efforts to distance Trump from the Russian intelligence assessments. The AP reported Sunday that concerns about Russian bounties were also included in a second written presidential daily briefing earlier this year and that current national security adviser Robert O’Brien had discussed the matter with Trump. O’Brien denies he did so.

    The administration’s earlier awareness of the Russian efforts raises additional questions about why Trump did not take any punitive action against Moscow for efforts that put the lives of Americans servicemembers at risk. Trump has sought throughout his time in office to improve relations with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, moving earlier this year to try to reinstate Russia as part of a group of world leaders it had been kicked out of.

    The intelligence that surfaced in early 2019 indicated Russian operatives had become more aggressive in their desire to contract with the Taliban and members of the Haqqani Network, a militant group aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan and designated a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 during the Obama administration.

    The National Security Council and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence did hold meetings regarding the intelligence….

    Concerns about Russian bounties flared anew this year after members of the elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known to the public as SEAL Team Six, raided a Taliban outpost and recovered roughly $500,000 in U.S. currency. The funds bolstered the suspicions of the American intelligence community that the Russians had offered money to Taliban militants and other linked associations.

    The White House contends the president was unaware of this development as well.

    The officials told the AP that career government officials developed potential options for the White House to respond to the Russian aggression in Afghanistan, which was first reported by The New York Times. However, the Trump administration has yet to authorize any action.

    The intelligence in 2019 and 2020 surrounding Russian bounties was derived in part from debriefings of captured Taliban militants. Officials with knowledge of the matter told the AP that Taliban operatives from opposite ends of the country and from separate tribes offered similar accounts.

    The officials would not name the specific groups or give specific locations in Afghanistan or time frames for when they were detained.

    The U.S. is investigating whether any Americans died as a result of the Russian bounties. Officials are focused in particular on an April 2019 attack on an American convoy. Three U.S. Marines were killed after a car rigged with explosives detonated near their armored vehicles as they returned to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan.

    The Defense Department identified Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, 43, of Newark, Delaware; Sgt. Benjamin Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania; and Cpl. Robert Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, New York, as the Marines killed in April 2019. The three Marines were all infantrymen assigned to 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, a reserve infantry unit headquartered out of Garden City, New York.

    Hendriks’ father told the AP that even a rumor of Russian bounties should have been immediately addressed.

    “If this was kind of swept under the carpet as to not make it a bigger issue with Russia, and one ounce of blood was spilled when they knew this, I lost all respect for this administration and everything,” Erik Hendriks said.

    Three other service members and an Afghan contractor were also wounded in the attack. As of April 2019, the attack was under a separate investigation, unrelated to the Russian bounties, to determine how it unfolded.

    The officials who spoke to the AP also said they were looking closely at insider attacks — sometimes called “green-on-blue” incidents — from 2019 to determine if they are also linked to Russian bounties.

  105. says

    BBC – “Hong Kong security law: China passes controversial legislation”:

    China has formally adopted a controversial security law, giving it new powers over Hong Kong and deepening fears for its freedoms.

    It is set to criminalise secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces, but will also effectively curtail protests and freedom of speech.

    The move follows increasing unrest and a widening pro-democracy movement.

    Pro-democracy organisation Demosisto reacted to the news by announcing it was ceasing all operations.

    Earlier Joshua Wong, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent activists, said he was leaving the group, which he had spearheaded.

    But some other veteran activists have said they will join a key march on Wednesday, despite the risk of arrest under the new law.

    China’s state news agency, Xinhua, confirmed that President Xi Jinping had now signed the security law. It has been added to Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the 50-year mini-constitution agreed when the territory’s sovereignty was returned to China by the UK in 1997.

    Its terms are not yet clear, meaning residents still do not know the measures they will have to abide by. The law could be implemented as early as Wednesday.

    What does the new law do?

    The law went through unanimously in a session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.

    It comes a day before the 23rd anniversary of the handover from Britain to China – a date usually marked by pro-democracy protests.

    It will make criminal any act of secession, subversion of the central government, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces.

    A new office in Hong Kong would deal with national security cases, but would also have other powers such as overseeing education about national security in Hong Kong schools.

    In addition, the city will have to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing-appointed adviser.

    Hong Kong’s chief executive will have the power to appoint judges to hear national security cases, a move which has raised fears about judicial independence.

    Importantly, Beijing will have power over how the law should be interpreted. If the law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Beijing law takes priority….

  106. says

    Sen. Blumenthal writing at SCOTUSblog – “Symposium: June Medical decision is no cause for congressional complacency”:

    Today’s Supreme Court decision in June Medical Services v. Russo is a landmark legal victory against radical politicians relentlessly attacking reproductive rights cross the country. Roe v. Wade is safe—for now. This ruling is an important vindication of the fundamental right to abortion. But the decision, which did not garner a majority opinion, concerning a restrictive state law “almost word-for-word identical” to one the court struck down only four years ago, is no cause for complacency. In fact, it calls out for congressional action to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. These rights are too important to leave in the hands of an increasingly politicized court that, even in this decision adhering to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, has demonstrated that the fundamental right to choose is in need of stronger protections than the courts alone can provide.

    The court’s opinion affirmed that principles of stare decisis do in fact govern the laws that impact access to abortion….

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in this case went out of its way to try to undermine the Supreme Court’s command in Whole Woman’s Health, so much so that it even violated another foundational principle of adjudication—that a district court’s finding of facts can only be reviewed for clear error. The precedent here was utterly clear, and the 5th Circuit’s departure from it plainly egregious. In a world in which the Supreme Court were truly committed to protecting the fundamental right to abortion, and to upholding the principle of stare decisis, this case would have resulted in a swift, per curiam, unanimous opinion. Instead, we have a 45-page plurality opinion, in which Breyer had to meticulously pick apart the 5th Circuit’s treatment of the factual record (and the dissents’ arguments), a concurrence and four dissents. The fact that we are today celebrating that the Supreme Court, by a hair, came to the obviously correct conclusion is cause for concern. In a system governed by the rule of law, we would never have cause to doubt that the court would continue to protect the constitutional right to abortion. If the court’s pronouncements on abortion were taken as seriously as its commands in other areas, Louisiana would never have even pressed this case.

    …Since 2011, states have passed over 450 restrictions on abortion access, including provisions requiring wider doors in clinics, unnecessary waiting periods, and, just like Texas and Louisiana, admitting privileges. In fact, Breyer’s opinion points to some of the obstacles that Louisiana has enacted that this decision does not directly displace:…

    The court’s opinion today should serve as a caution against relying on the judiciary to protect these essential rights. The dissents make clear that there are currently four strong votes on the Supreme Court to abrogate, if not outright overturn, Whole Woman’s Health. This month, President Donald Trump confirmed his 200th federal judge, making this an even more perilous time to look to the courts to vindicate the right to abortion. But, even in a world where we did not fear that the courts would inappropriately depart from precedent, the scale of the attack that abortion providers face across the country is not one that we could ever reasonably ask the courts to address alone.

    Clearer direction from Congress is sorely needed, which is why it is more important than ever that we pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which I introduced last year. This bill would address the various, medically unnecessary restrictions that states have imposed on abortion by explicitly prohibiting laws imposing burdens on the provision of abortions that are not imposed on comparable medical procedures. These laws – known as targeted restrictions on abortion providers – do nothing to improve the health of people seeking an abortion, and instead seek to close clinics and leave women with few or no options. These restrictions will not disappear because of this decision, nor will their radical proponents rest because of the plurality opinion in this case.

    Thankfully, Whole Woman’s Health and Roe v. Wade will live to fight another day. But reproductive freedom is too important, and activists and advocates have worked too hard for too long, for Congress to stay silent. We have the chance to act and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act before irreparable damage is done; we must take it.

  107. says

    CNN – “Trump appointee at USAID repeatedly made anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ comments, said ‘female empowerment is a civilizational calamity'”:

    A Trump administration appointee at the United States’ agency responsible for foreign aid has a history of inflammatory rhetoric aimed at refugees, the LGBTQ community and women.

    The comments come from Merritt Corrigan, the recently appointed deputy White House liaison at the US Agency for International Development, in tweets in 2019 and 2020. CNN’s KFile reviewed 400 previously unreported tweets from Corrigan’s feed, which were captured by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

    Corrigan previously worked at Hungary’s Embassy in the US where she repeatedly tweeted support for far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, calling him “the shining champion of Western civilization,” according to ProPublica, which reported on several of Corrigan’s tweets on June 5.

    Axios reported Wednesday that USAID employee groups requested to meet with John Barsa, the acting administrator of USAID, over concerns about Corrigan and several other recent appointees. On June 8, Barsa defended Corrigan and two other appointees with a history of anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim remarks, saying in a statement articles on their comments were “unwarranted and malicious attacks.”

    “I have full confidence that each political appointee at USAID has and will continue to implement the President’s policies and agenda to the best of his or her ability,” Barsa said.

    Corrigan did not respond to multiple CNN requests for comment.

    Corrigan frequently criticized notions of gender equality and feminism for running counter to her view that women were primarily mothers and wives and belonged in the home.

    In response to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren making a statement in support of same-sex marriage during a Democratic presidential townhall, Corrigan said women shouldn’t be in office.

    “This sick statement by Warren, which glibly mocks a real crisis happening in our society, is exactly why women shouldn’t be in office. They will always advocate for themselves at the expense of men, and revel in it,” she tweeted in October 2019.

    In another tweet from October, Corrigan attacked a conservative radio host Michael Knowles for sharing a photo of himself with a drag queen.

    “Right wing gatekeepers have made it abundantly clear that their allegiance is to Satan and those who carry out his agenda of appalling sexual perversion over those who question the liberal status quo,” she tweeted.

    Her expressed views run counter to USAID’s mission statement that LGBTQ people have a right “to live with dignity, free from discrimination, persecution, and violence.”

    In other tweets, Corrigan repeatedly expressed support for far-right anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim European political parties like the National Front in France and AfD in Germany.

    Corrigan repeatedly expressed hostility towards refugees and immigration, both in the United States and in Europe.

    In response to a report on improved conditions in Somalia, Corrigan wrote in October 2019, “Great, can we send the 70,000+ Somalis in Minnesota back then?”

    Later, in the same month, she said, “Immigration is the hostile governing elite’s preferred agent of chaos.”

    In another pair of tweets she added, “America has no moral imperative to accept immigrants,” and said that “culture is just as relevant if not more” than economics to merit-based immigration. In another tweet, she cheered the United Nations reporting a deficit of $230 million saying, “No more money to promote eternal third world immigration.”

    Also in October 2019, Corrigan tweeted support for the far-right Germany political party AfD, an anti-immigration and anti-Muslim group.

    Corrigan repeatedly shared multiple tweets critical of the LGBTQ community and the growing societal trend towards tolerance.

    In October 2019, she shared a Breitbart article which reported that anti-transgender ads bolster Republican turnout in elections, and said, “We have to speak out now about the transsexual agenda before it becomes normalized.”

    In October 2019, Corrigan called for establishing a “Christian patriarchy,” and when another user compared her belief to Shariah law, she said her worldview was a “dignified and respectful way of organizing society.”

    In November 2019, she said that “female empowerment is a civilizational calamity and a Trojan horse for corporate interests.” Later that month, she said that “birth control is an evil tool that has been used to systematically manipulate women into believing casual sex doesn’t hurt them as long as don’t get pregnant.”

    Also in November 2019, she wrote multiple tweets arguing that it was cruel and wrong to “empower” girls and tell them they are “equal” to men.

  108. says

    Sen. Murphy:

    In a phone call last June, Trump promised Chinese President Xi the U.S. would keep its mouth shut about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

    That’s why the Chinese government moved so fast here – they know Biden is coming.

  109. says

    Al-Arabiya – “Angry crowd heckles Italy’s far-right leader Matteo Salvini”:

    An angry crowd greeted Italy’s far-right leader Matteo Salvini during a visit to a town under coronavirus lockdown in the Naples region Monday, with some heckling and pelting him with eggs and water.

    The confrontation took place when Salvini visited a neighborhood of Mondragone, the scene of tensions last week between some residents and foreign workers, some of whom have been infected by the coronavirus.

    When Salvini arrived an hour later than scheduled there was a hostile crowd waiting for him, many of them shouting insults.

    Salvini, wearing a face mask in the colors of the Italian flag, quickly lowered it to begin his speech, but could scarcely be heard over the heckling.

    “Salvini is worse than the Covid,” some shouted, with others calling him a “jackal” or a “clown” and telling him to leave.

    Salvini, as he tried to continue his speech from behind a police line, was forced to dodge eggs and water thrown from the crowd.

    In brief comments to television crews at the scene, he denounced what he said were agitators who had come in from outside,
    “We have to guarantee the rights of Italians, and expel foreigners without papers,” he told AFPTV.

    “We need to invest more in the Naples region, in resources and in the forces of order,” he added.

    He left the scene after half an hour, but promised to return at a later date.

    …[description of tensions between some Bulgarian laborers and some other residents of the town last week]…

    Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, served as interior minister and deputy prime minister in the last coalition government, pursuing hardline policies that were hostile to immigrants.

    With the collapse of that administration last year and the coronavirus crisis this year his profile – and his standing in the opinion polls – has fallen.

    The coronavirus tragically exacerbating tensions in a small community is like Salvini’s fash-signal to swoop in seeking to cynically exploit the situation.

  110. says

    NBC – “S. Dakota Gov. Noem says ‘we will not be social distancing’ at July 3 celebration with Trump at Mount Rushmore”:

    South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says the thousands of people who attend the July 3 celebration for Independence Day at Mount Rushmore with President Donald Trump will not be required to practice social distancing despite an increase in coronavirus cases across the country.

    “We will have a large event at July 3rd. We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we will not be social distancing,” Noem, a Republican, said in an interview Monday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

    State officials have told the people of South Dakota “to focus on personal responsibility,” said Noem, adding, “Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with.”

    Trump is expected to attend the celebration and deliver remarks at the event, a day before the July Fourth holiday. Mount Rushmore is located within a national park in Keystone, S.D. The event will happen amid a surge in coronavirus infections across the U.S., which has caused some states including Texas to pull back on their plans to further reopen.

    A website detailing information for the July 3 event says that “attendance will be limited” through an online lottery that occurred in June “to around 7,500 participants.”

    On South Dakota’s Department of Health website, it says that in order to avoid the illness, people should “avoid close contact with people…stay at home as much as possible,” and “put distance between yourself and other people.” It also says, “everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.”…

  111. says

    First up, booking dot com. 8-1. Written by Ginsberg.

    “A term styled ‘generic[dot]com’ is a generic name for a class of goods or services only if that term has that meaning for consumers.”

    More opinions coming today.

  112. says

    Espinoza. Last one for today. Grr.

    5-4. Written by Roberts.

    “The Court holds that the application of the provision of the state constitution barring aid to religious schools discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend the in violation of the free exercise clause.”

  113. blf says

    EU bans Pakistan national airline flights over pilot exam cheats:

    The European Union’s aviation safety agency announced today that Pakistan’s national airline [PIA] would not be allowed to fly into Europe for at least six months after the country’s aviation minister revealed that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots had cheated during their pilot’s exams.


    An inquiry into a 22 May Airbus A320 crash that killed 97 people at the southern port city of Karachi resulted in the revelation that 260 of 860 pilots in Pakistan had cheated during their exams, but were still given licences by the Civil Aviation Authority.

    The government has since fired five officials of the regulatory agency and criminal charges are being considered.


  114. blf says

    Trump’s presidency is like a dead man golfing. So will he drop out of the election?:

    […] Donald Trump has never looked so pathetic. There’s an air of defeat about the president [sic]; the master of puff seems deflated. It has been another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for Trump. Unless something radical happens, the president [sic] is a dead man golfing.

    Trump is mired in a number of potentially presidency [sic]-ending crises. First, there are the bombshell allegations that Russia offered cash bounties to Taliban-linked fighters for successful attacks on American troops in Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, Trump was briefed on this but did nothing — apart from offering to invite Vladimir Putin to a G7 summit. An allegation like this, as house speaker Nancy Pelosi has noted, is about “as bad it gets”. If Trump was told about the bounties, he betrayed US soldiers; if he wasn’t told, then his administration is murderously incompetent.

    Trump has responded to the crisis in his usual manner: outraged tweets. On Sunday night, Trump called the story another fabricated Russia hoax and claimed he hadn’t been briefed on the bounties claim because it wasn’t credible. How, one might ask, did he ascertain the information wasn’t credible if it was never reported to him? His incredible intuition?


    It’s not only accusations of treason that Trump is battling: there’s also the coronavirus. He has done his best to ignore the pandemic but, rudely, it hasn’t gone away. Quite the opposite: cases are surging in the US. And while the pandemic was initially clustered mainly in Democrat-controlled states, most of the new cases are coming from election battleground states, including Texas and Florida.

    And then there are the anti-racism protests. Trump has been trying to posture as a law and order president [sic], but his laziness keeps getting in the way. Last Friday, Trump grandly announced that he had cancelled a trip to New Jersey in order to stay in DC and ensure order was enforced. The next day he headed to one of his own golf courses in Virginia. According to CNN, this was his 271st visit to a golf course during his presidency [sic]; on average, he’s been golfing once every 4.6 days. […]

    Trump doesn’t seem to care about Americans dying. He certainly doesn’t care about racism or police brutality. But he does care about his ratings — and these are abysmal. Trump is polling so badly that even he, a raving narcissist, seems to realise he might lose. Last week he told Fox News that Joe Biden was going to be president because some people don’t love me, maybe.[ …]

    Things are so dire that the possibility has been floated that Trump might not stick around for the election. […]

    I doubt Trump will throw in the towel: he would rather drink bleach than be seen as a loser. […]

      † Set in eejit quotes because hair furor bleated it, despite the statement being broadly true.

  115. says

    This from Gorsuch is ridiculous. The metaphor doesn’t even work. The other end of the extreme of a government pointing its gun isn’t putting its finger on a scale; it’s opening its wallet, which is what’s happening in this case. It should be no threats and no favors. And refusing to open its wallet to favor religion would be the opposite of putting its finger on the scale.

  116. says

    A link to Rachel Maddow’s interview with Susan Rice, former national security advisor in the Obama administration. Rice talked with Maddow about reporting that Russia paid Taliban fighters to kill U.S. service members and that Donald Trump, upon learning this, did not do anything. Susan Rice was clear and forceful when she said that it “makes no sense” that Trump wasn’t told about the bounties offered by Russia.

    The video is 10:05 minutes long. Maddow presented a good summary of all of the intelligence assessments.

  117. says

    House Dems reject Trump’s ‘hoax’ talk on Russia, bounty scandal

    Trump suggested the Russia/bounty controversy could be “another fabricated Russia Hoax.” After a briefing, House Dems are convinced otherwise.

    […] As for the “hoax” talk, House Democrats received a closed-door White House briefing this morning, and quickly took aim at the president’s dismissal of the burgeoning scandal.

    “The president called this a ‘hoax’ publicly. Nothing in the briefing that we have just received led me to believe it is a hoax,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told reporters after leaving the briefing. “There may be different judgments as to the level of credibility [of the reports], but there was no assertion that the information we had was a hoax,” he added.

    […] a handful of House Republicans had a private briefing on the Russia/bounty matter yesterday, and they left with more questions. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) acknowledged that he “of course” wanted additional information.

    Last night, a group of senators received access to intelligence materials related to the controversy, and soon after, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted to Trump, “I just reviewed the intel. It’s not a hoax, Mr. President. And if you continue ignoring the facts, more soldiers and marines are going to die.”

    This was followed by this morning’s briefing for House Dems, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who added this morning, “I find it inexplicable in light of these very public allegations that the president hasn’t come before the country and assured the American people that he will get to the bottom of whether Russians are putting a bounty on the heads of American troops.”

    That said, the consensus among Democrats who attended today’s session was that it wasn’t a satisfying briefing: Politico reported that senior Democratic lawmakers agreed they were given “no substantive information” about the allegations from White House officials, and key U.S. intelligence leaders were not in attendance.

    “What we need is a briefing by the intelligence community to give us their assessment of the credibility of this information,” Hoyer told reporters. Schiff added, “The right people to give the briefing really were not in the room.”

    This controversy has a long way to go.

    For Trump, this is just going to look worse and worse.

  118. says

    The time frame for catching Pence in his various lies, and calling him out for those lies, is shortening.

    Pence’s virus boasts take an unfortunate turn

    Two weeks ago today, amidst widespread concerns about coronavirus data in the U.S. that didn’t appear to be improving, Vice President Mike Pence wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. The message was simple: thanks to Donald Trump, “we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”

    It’s worth pausing to reflect on [Pence’s] boasts — because they don’t appear to be holding up well.

    “While talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable.”

    As of today, according to the New York Times’ latest data-visualization report, most states are seeing increases in their coronavirus cases.

    “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.”

    The latest data shows a daily average of 40,000 new cases per day — roughly double the numbers the vice president bragged about two weeks ago.

    The truth is that we’ve made great progress over the past four months, and it’s a testament to the leadership of President Trump.

    Donald Trump isn’t even trying to lead, and evidence of “great” national progress is hard to find.

    “Our administration launched a partnership with private industry…. Part of this effort, Project Air Bridge, has conducted more than 200 flights bringing equipment from overseas.”

    According to FEMA, the Project Air Bridge figures have been wildly exaggerated: “The total number of those supplies is about 7% — or one-thirteenth — of the numbers cited in Mr. Pence’s article.”

    “The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different.”

    The first wave never really ended. The problem is not with media coverage; it’s with an administration that’s failed to respond responsibly to a public-health crisis.

    To be sure, Pence, who leads the White House’s Coronavirus Taskforce, has made plenty of other claims that proved to be completely wrong. What’s more, I’m just highlighting some of the more egregious errors of fact from his WSJ piece, skipping over some other dubious assertions.

    Given the current conditions, the vice president probably wishes he’d never sent that op-ed for publication.

  119. blf says

    Teh NYT’s famous fact-checking missed one detail, again. The Grauniad has a bit of fun, The New York Times said Britons were ‘cavorting’ in swamps. Where did it mean? (minor tweaks to the formatting (unmarked)):

    ● Name: Swamps.

    ● Age: It’s debatable.

    ● Let’s debate it. Presumably, we’re talking Triassic v Jurassic, something like that, when dinosaurs roamed the land, squelching about, squelch, squelch … Actually, a bit more recently than that. More like last week.

    ● Really? Swamps in Britain? The ones teeming with giant alligators, anacondas and swarms of malarial mosquitoes? Do you mean the Fens? The Norfolk Broads, perhaps, or the Somerset Levels? Because those areas are lovely. Nope, swamps.

    ● Glastonbury can get pretty swampy. It was cancelled. And this year would have been a relatively dry one.

    ● I give up, then. Where are these elusive British swamps? Well, in the paper. More specifically, the New York Times.

    ● The Gray Lady, winner of multiple Pulitzers, with a worldwide reputation for thoroughness and accuracy? That one.

    ● Go on, what did it say? An article by a London-based reporter, Ceylan Yeğinsu, about the behaviour of some Britons in the heatwave, said we’d flocked to parks, beaches, and “cavorted by the hundreds in swamps”.

    ● I wish! To be fair, a few people did get stuck in the mud at low tide at Weston-super-Mare. [Better know as Weston-super-Donkey –blf]

    ● Mudflats, as there are all around the coast, but hardly a swamp. Nor did they seem to be cavorting. The piece implied that we went to the swamps specifically to cavort. What about Bournemouth? Remember the scenes when half a million visitors descended?

    ● Oi! Sorry, it’s one of our loveliest beaches, if a little busy at times. Definitely not a swamp.

    ● Was it perhaps more metaphorical, about the behaviour of the ravers, the litterers and the urinators? Like a moral swamp? Oh, I see. A drain-the-swamp kind of swamp. No, it’s just another example of them getting us wrong, I’m afraid, or trolling us […].

    ● It ran a correction? Front page, I hope. No, just a few words, but a correction, at least. “An article on Saturday about a heatwave in Britain referred incorrectly to one of the areas where crowds had formed during hot weather. People flocked to parks, beaches and streams, not swamps.”


    My opinion of British seaside beaches is a swamp “teeming with giant alligators, anacondas and swarms of malarial mosquitoes” is very possibly an improvement (see @104).

  120. says

    Campaign news: Trump insisted that Biden is trying to get out of participating in this year’s presidential debates, citing the coronavirus. That’s not even close to being true. Biden has already committed to taking part in the three scheduled events. Biden said today that he is looking forward to the debates.

  121. says

    White House’s politicization of intelligence reaches new low

    As one member put it, “It’s hard to say the Trump admin isn’t politicizing the military when only members of their party get invited to the briefing.”

    In October, as U.S. forces closed in on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS, Donald Trump limited access to the information about the upcoming raid. [He] kept Russia and some congressional Republicans in the loop, but he excluded Democratic lawmakers and nearly everyone in the Gang of Eight.

    A few months later, ahead of a U.S. airstrike that killed Qassim Suleimani, a commander of Iran’s military forces in the Middle East, Trump was only willing to alert one lawmaker: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was notified while golfing with the president.

    But if those earlier examples of politicizing U.S. intelligence were too subtle, this week’s example was far more brazen. Politico reported yesterday:

    The White House briefed eight House Republicans on intelligence that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants who targeted U.S. troops for assassination, according to Trump administration officials and congressional sources…. Noticeably absent from the briefing, which are traditionally bipartisan affairs, were any Democrats, despite controlling [the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence Committees].

    Among the eight House GOP lawmakers who received a White House briefing was Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) — who isn’t a member of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, or Intelligence Committees, but who does lead the right-wing House Freedom Caucus. […]

    As Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) put it on Twitter, “It’s hard to say the Trump Administration isn’t politicizing the military when only members of their party get invited to the briefing.”

    It may be tempting to assume that this is in keeping with norms in the nation’s capital: it’s a Republican White House, so administration officials are sharing information with Republican lawmakers.

    Except, that’s backwards: traditionally, when dealing with a controversy in which a foreign adversary is accused of paying for the murder of American troops, there’d be no reason to limit information to one party. It’s a national issue, not a partisan one.

    Politico’s report added that the White House arranged for a separate briefing for House Democrats, [which did take place]. And while that’s better than the alternative of hiding the intelligence from Dems indefinitely, it still doesn’t explain why non-partisan, apolitical information had to be shared first with foreign officials, then with Republicans, and then finally with House Democrats. […]

  122. says

    Oh, no. Sort of “oh, no,” … things could change.

    “NY Court Blocks Trump Niece From Publishing Her Book”

    Trump’s brother secured a court order Tuesday temporarily blocking the publication of a book by his and the President’s niece.

    Robert Trump took his niece Mary Trump to court over her plans to release a memoir titled “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” which is scheduled to come out in late July. Robert Trump alleges that publication of the book is a violation of a nondisclosure agreement the family signed when settling the estate of Robert and Donald Trump’s father.

    The New York Supreme Court said in its order that Mary Trump and her publisher Simon & Schuster are temporarily restrained from publishing the memoir. The order sets the stage for more proceedings on the matter next month.

    Mary Trump’s lawyer Ted Boutrous has indicated she will “immediately” appeal the order, even though it is only temporary.

    Boutrous called the order “a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment.”

    “This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in [an] election year, should not be suppressed even for one day,” Boutrous said in the a statement.

    Lawyers for Simon & Schuster also quickly filed an appeal, according to Politico.

    Robert Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, issued a statement praising the order and promising that Robert Trump “will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages caused by Mary Trump’s breach of contract and Simon & Schuster’s intentional interference with that contract.”

    “Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end,” Harder, who has a reputation for his aggressive litigative approach, said.

    Mary Trump is the daughter of Robert and Donald’s late brother Fred Trump Jr.

    You can read the actual court order at the link.

  123. says

    Republicans look to blame anyone but Trump for failures responding to Russian bounty program

    Senate Republicans are once again caught between their allegiance to Donald Trump and their traditional opposition to Russia—now with the added practice of Taliban paying militants to kill U.S. troops. Republicans are making the appropriate noises about being angry at the bounties on U.S. forces and the need to get tough on Russia, but that involves a lot of dodging and evading the big questions about what Trump knew and when he knew it.

    Sens. Cory Gardner and Thom Tillis, both facing extremely tough reelection campaigns, are both calling for Russia to be named a state sponsor of terrorism. Neither appears to have much to say about Trump, though.

    Sen. John Cornyn, facing a somewhat less challenging reelection, did have something to say about Trump—an attempt to exonerate him.

    “Well, I think the president can’t single-handedly remember everything, I’m sure, that he’s briefed on, but the intelligence officials are familiar with it and briefed him,” said Cornyn. “But again somebody’s leaking classified information and then trying to further a narrative that isn’t necessarily supported by the facts.”

    As others have pointed out, Trump has raised the cost of government workers becoming whistleblowers through official channels—and Senate Republicans have made clear that there will never be any consequences for Trump—so where else are witnesses to wrongdoing supposed to go but the media at this point?

    Indiana Sen. Todd Young wrote Trump a letter praising his supposed past toughness on Russia and calling for investigations into who failed Trump by not briefing him. “I am alarmed by reports that you, the Vice President, and the relevant Congressional Committees were not briefed on this critical threat to our service members and to our national security,” Young wrote. “I believe that you would have wanted to know this critical intelligence information and be provided with the resources necessary to save the lives of our men and women in uniform. I stand ready to hold any members of your Administration accountable for their gross negligence in performing such a grave responsibility.”

    Sure, buddy. Trump really wanted to know.

    […] they own [Trump’s] non-response […] it happened.

  124. says

    The CDC surrenders: COVID-19 spreading too rapidly to be brought under control

    For nations like South Korea and New Zealand, the rapid institution of testing and case tracing, mixed with social distancing, allowed outbreaks of COVID-19 to be addressed and, in the latter case, completely extinguished. Countries like Italy, Spain, and France, where the explosion of cases was severe and widespread, applied weeks of enforced, nationally supported lockdowns to break the back of a spiraling epidemic, reduce the number of new cases by orders of magnitude, and allow cautious restoration of their economies. […]

    And then there’s the United States. […] on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that this fire can’t be brought under control. The United States simply has “too much virus” to contain.

    As MSNBC reports, these disheartening words came courtesy of the principal deputy director of the CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat. “We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” said Schuchat. “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging.”

    It’s not just discouraging. It’s enraging. […] the reaction to that virus was a series of human choices.

    The United States doesn’t have a coordinated federal testing program. The United States doesn’t have a national system of case management and contact tracing. The United States doesn’t have consistent nationwide regulations on how to conduct social distancing, when businesses and gatherings should be closed, or when to enforce stay-at-home orders. The United States doesn’t have something as simple as a national mandate to wear the masks that have been proven as one of the most effective measures in slowing the speed of the virus. […]

    Donald Trump chose not to provide any genuine federal response to the crisis, and Republicans refused to address his failure.

    If Schuchat’s statement that the virus is raging out of control and the United States has no means to check the spread seems daunting … that was just the warm-up. “This is really the beginning,” said the deputy director the CDC. “I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country […] What we have in the United States, it’s hard to describe because it’s so many different outbreaks. […] there’s more virus circulating than there was.”

    Given that Trump has made it clear that the inaction he took at the outset of the pandemic was the peak of his involvement, no one should be expecting that Washington, D.C. will in any way pick up this burden and try to stomp out that fire. […] any response will be left to states. And increasingly, as in Texas and Arizona, Republican “leaders” at the state level are shrugging off their responsibilities to county and city officials. Those officials have far less authority and far less ability to enforce their decisions. So as Trump passed to governors, and governors pass to cities, the response goes from small, to smaller, to smallest.

    Effectively, the response becomes microscopic and the virus becomes huge. And a nation that regards itself as “the greatest” becomes the absolute worst.

  125. says

    Revelations put Trump in an even worse light: […] AP report sets the date of Trump’s initial brief on the Russian program as no later than March of 2019. And the information wasn’t just being shared among “top White House officials,” it was included in Trump’s daily briefs at least as early as that date. But of course, Trump’s disdain for reading the critical information put in front of him […] has been the the focus of endless stories since the 2016 election. Both McEnany’s response in the press conference and reactions from Republican politicians seem to be aimed at the “he’s not a traitor, he’s just incompetent” fallback position in suggesting that even if the information was in Trump’s daily briefing, he didn’t read it.

    But even that innocence-through-illiteracy position doesn’t seem sustained in light of information included in the AP report. While previous stories have been sourced anonymously, the latest information comes with a name: former national security adviser John Bolton. Not only was the information on Russia’s program of offering bounties included in the daily briefings, Bolton assured others at the White House that he had personally briefed Trump on the information. The information on Russia buying the death of American soldiers wasn’t just one item in a list of things presented by Bolton, it was the only item on the agenda—the sole purpose of the meeting.

    […] Trump was attempting to pretend ignorance to avoid the consequences. “He can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it,” said Bolton. […]

    The news that Trump has known about the Russian program to pay for the death of American soldiers for over a year casts a spotlight on all his upbeat statements about Russia and praise for Putin. In particular, Trump hasn’t just been publicly trying to get Russia re-admitted to the G7 and threatening to invite Putin over the objection of other nations, New York Magazine reported in 2019 that Trump’s behind the scenes efforts were even more intense.Link, “Russian bounty story keeps growing: Trump has known for over a year, was fully briefed by Bolton.”

  126. says

    […] Trump’s failures are so abject and glaring that Biden will have plenty of material. The question is whether the media will pay him a tenth of the attention Trump’s most unhinged ranting gets, allowing voters to see the contrast between the two.


  127. says

    Text in comment 210 is from <a href=”this article by Mark Sumner. My apologies for forgetting both the block quoting and the link. Sheesh!

    In other news: House passes first ACA expansion bill since the law passed in 2010, Trump promises veto

    In response to the Trump administration’s plea to the Supreme Court to kill the Affordable Care Act, in the midst of a pandemic with no end in sight, the House of Representatives passed legislation expanding the law on Monday, the first significant expansion in the decade the law has been in effect. It will not, of course, become law because Mitch McConnell won’t bring it to the floor and the White House has already promised a veto.

    The bill would expand subsidies for people purchasing insurance through the ACA marketplaces, so that more people could qualify for coverage. It would put a financial squeeze on the last hold-out states that have refused the Medicaid expansion by reducing the traditional Medicaid payments they’re receiving, but would also incentivize expansion by paying for the entire initial cost of the expansion. It would also allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, and end the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term insurance plans, junk insurance, that don’t have to meet all the demands of the ACA’s protections and benefits. For example, the plans allowed under Trump’s short-term plan expansion don’t have to provide coverage for preexisting medical conditions.

    That all sounds good to me.

    […] In Trump’s veto statement, the White House said that the bill “attempts to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to resuscitate tired, partisan proposals.” It also said that it would hamper development of new drugs in a way that is “imprudent given the current focus on developing vaccines and therapeutics rapidly to help America and the world combat the coronavirus.” That exposes the real concern here: profits to the drug and health insurance industries.

  128. blf says

    Oh FFS! From the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog (quoted in full):

    The US has bought up virtually all the stocks for the next three months of one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for the UK, Europe or most of the rest of the world.

    Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and outmanoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.

    A longer article, US buys up world stock of key Covid-19 drug:

    President [sic] Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for Covid-19, said the US health and human services secretary, Alex Azar. To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it. The Trump administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for Covid-19 and secure access to these options for the American people.


    Remdesivir would get people out of hospital more quickly, reducing the burden on the [UK’s] NHS, and might improve survival, said [senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University, Dr Andrew] Hill, although that has not yet been shown in trials, as it has with the other successful treatment, the steroid dexamethasone. There has been no attempt to buy up the world’s stocks of dexamethasone because there is no need — the drug is 60 years old, cheap and easily available everywhere.


    This strikes me as a variant of the predicted hair furor has a vaccine! gambit prior to the election. As noted in the article, this isn’t the first time hair furor and his dalekocrazy have tried similar stunts. I presume there will also be lies about what Remdesivir can be used for, when it should be used, etc.

  129. blf says

    Fraudsters in the States (and I don’t mean hair furor and his dalekocrazy), from the Gruniad’s current main pandemic live blog:

    In the US, three major government agencies are warning of scammers posing as contact tracers as a way to steal personal information.

    The Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services and Federal Trade Commission have warned that fraudsters were asking for money and trying to collect social security numbers, bank and credit card information from individuals.


  130. says

    AP – “China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization”:

    The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

    While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”

    The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.

    The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.

    After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted. Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway. They gave Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children.

    If she didn’t, they warned, she would join her husband and a million other ethnic minorities locked up in internment camps ¬— often for having too many children.

    “God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong,” said Omirzakh, who tears up even now thinking back to that day. “They want to destroy us as a people.”

    The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, as seen in interview after interview. Birth rates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics. Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24% last year alone — compared to just 4.2% nationwide, statistics show.

    The hundreds of millions of dollars the government pours into birth control has transformed Xinjiang from one of China’s fastest-growing regions to among its slowest in just a few years, according to new research obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication by China scholar Adrian Zenz.

    “This kind of drop is unprecedented….there’s a ruthlessness to it,” said Zenz, a leading expert in the policing of China’s minority regions. “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uighurs.”

    U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo denounced the policies in a statement Monday.

    “We call on the Chinese Communist Party to immediately end these horrific practices,” he said.

    China’s foreign minister derided the story as “fabricated” and “fake news,” saying the government treats all ethnicities equally and protects the legal rights of minorities….

    Much, much more atl.

  131. says

    Guardian – “Elijah McClain: police use pepper spray to disperse violin vigil:

    Police dressed in riot gear used pepper spray to disperse a largely peaceful gathering of thousands of protestors in Aurora, Colorado, who had come together over the weekend to demand justice for Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old who went into a coma and died after being placed in a chokehold by officers last year.

    Saturday’s events began in City Center Park as local musicians played violins at a vigil that had been planned to pay respects to McClain, who studied the instrument for much of his life and had played to soothe stray cats.

    By late evening, however, police began warning demonstrators that they had to leave the “illegal gathering” or they would use pepper spray to disperse the crowds, according to the Denver Post.

    As police advanced, demonstrators locked arms to form a human chain around the violinists, protecting them from officers. In videos captured by bystanders and posted on social media, the sound of strings is heard before it is drowned out by screaming demonstrators and demands from police that protesters disperse.

    Protesters chanted phrases such as: “Why are you in riot gear? I don’t see no riot here!”

    The vigil for McClain came after more than 3 million people signed an online petition demanding the Aurora mayor, Mike Coffman; the city’s police department; and Adams county “bring justice for Elijah” through “a more in-depth” investigation.

    The petition demands that the two officers involved be fired and prosecuted. So far, they remain on the force after the county district attorney, Dave Young, concluded there was “no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial” last November.

    However, the state attorney general, Phil Weiser, has since announced his office would investigate McClain’s death, stating that “whenever someone dies after an encounter with law enforcement, the community deserves a thorough investigation”.

    “Elijah McClain should be alive today,” he said in a statement released on Thursday. “His life mattered and his death was tragic. The pain, frustration, and anger that his family and many Coloradans are feeling from his death is understandable and justified.”

    The Colorado governor, Jared Polis, has appointed Weiser as a special prosecutor to investigate McClain’s death.

  132. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@172, US left out as European Union reopens borders to 15 countries:

    The 27-member bloc gave approval on Tuesday to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders […]

    The countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

    China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors. Reciprocity is a condition of being on the list.

    Russia, Brazil and Turkey, along with the United States, are among countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than that of the EU average and so will have to wait at least two weeks. The bloc will carry out fortnightly reviews.


    It acts as a recommendation to EU members, meaning they could potentially set restrictions on those entering from the 14 nations and will almost certainly not allow access to travellers from other countries. […]

    I’m bothered by that “almost”: The States is a huge source of visitors to the EU, and I have (admittedly vague) recent recollections of some pressure being put on some governments to allow in people from the States provided there is proof of a recent negative test, or they are tested on arrival and self-isolate until the results are known. Both ideas are silly and dangerous; e.g., just one infected person on the aeroplane and the entire planeload (passengers and crew) is now posing a risk.

    Locally, German-speakers are beginning to show up. This area is popular with Germans so it’s not surprising.

    Unrelated to that, I’m now wearing a mask quite regularly. I’ve been appalled at how lax things seem to be becoming. At the outdoors village market this morning, it was crowded with essentially no social distancing, and a rather haphazard attitude to masks (ranging from none, to improperly worn (what the feck is so hard about covering both the nose and mouth?!), to clearly having one but not wearing it (e.g., dangling from an ear or wrist)).

  133. says

    The latest stunt of French racist pundit Eric Zemmour. Zemmour is upset because the Greens won many cities in the latest municipal elections. The reason -according to him-: ‘The green of the Greens is coincidentally the green of Islam’. And nobody AFAIK responded.

    This is Alex Jones level of conspiracy theories. He’s a well-known racist, an anti-Muslim bigot, a xenophobe & a homophobe. Zemmour has been condemned for incitement to racial hatred many times & yet,is granted the honor of being a regular commentator on TV, & hosts his own show

    But this is French media for you: they give a platform to this kind of individuals, they amplify their voice so they can spread their racism, hatred and also can spread fake news and conspiracy theories as much as they want.

    If only someone could have at least responded. Even the show host did not say anything because you know why? This guy creates a buzz & the audience increases. They make money out of hate speech, racism and fake news. This is not journalism, this is sick deplorable entertainment.”

    In their defense, they might have been stunned by this laughable linkage.

  134. blf says

    Venezuela’s Maduro gives EU ambassador 72 hours to leave the country:

    Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Monday gave the head of the European Union mission in Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, 72 hours to leave the country after the bloc announced sanctions against 11 Venezuelan officials.

    Who are they to try to impose themselves with threats? said Maduro.


    The above-excerpted France24 article doesn’t really give any details on the EU’s sanctions. The EU’s press release, Venezuela: eleven officials added to sanctions list (29 June) explains:

    The Council today added 11 leading Venezuelan officials to the list of those subject to restrictive measures, because of their role in acts and decisions undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.

    The individuals added to the list are responsible notably for acting against the democratic functioning of the National Assembly, including by stripping the parliamentary immunity of several members of its members, not least its president, Juan Guaidó. Actions motivating the decision for listing also include initiating politically motivated prosecutions and creating obstacles to a political and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela, as well as serious violations of human rights and restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of press and speech.

    Today’s decision brings to 36 the total number of individuals under sanctions, which include a travel ban and an asset freeze. These measures target individuals and do not affect the population in general. […]

    More detailed information, including a timeline, Venezuela: the Council’s response to the crisis.

  135. says

    Trumpy Census Bureau hires revive fears of political meddling

    The White House installed two political appointees in the studiously nonpartisan agency responsible for the 2020 census, and officials there aren’t happy.

    The White House and Commerce Department forced the Census Bureau to take two new political appointees last week whose unexpected arrival has deepened fears at the agency that the 2020 census will be politicized […]

    […] the two new appointees, Commerce aides Nathaniel T. Cogley and Adam Korzeniewski, had been installed in senior roles at the Census Bureau […]

    Cogley, a frequent radio commentator who received a Ph.D. in political science from Yale in 2013 and was the head of the department of government, legal studies and philosophy at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, will be deputy director for policy. Korzeniewski, now a senior adviser for Cogley, once worked as a Republican political consultant for the failed Staten Island congressional run of Joey Saladino, a Trumpy young YouTube star known as “Joey Salads.”

    […] inside the Census Bureau, a technocratic agency long accustomed to carrying out its work without political meddling, the hires were viewed with suspicion. Not only had they occurred while the 2020 census was already well underway, officials didn’t view them as particularly qualified for their new positions. The fact that the White House had installed them only raised further alarms.

    “No one has expressed any support for the decision” at the bureau for the decision to hire the two new appointees, according to the Census Bureau official. “There’s great concern.”

    They basically swallowed hard,” a person close to the bureau said. “They have no choice, and they must do it.”

    Prior to Monday’s notification, the Commerce Department, which houses the Census Bureau, and the White House had held zero discussions with both Dillingham, a Trump appointee, and Jarmin about the prospect of those people joining the bureau and they had no input into their placement into the agency […]

    […] to Census officials, the arrival of the two political hires came as a shock. Even though Cogley and Korzeniewski started early last week, their titles didn’t come with the usual defined job descriptions — and Korzeniewski’s paperwork hasn’t even been given to senior Census leadership yet. Potential responsibilities under discussion for the two include working on census assessments, potential improvements for the census, strategic planning and planning the 2030 census, and working to implement the 2018 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. […]

    Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, ripped the hires as “starkly partisan.”

    “The decision to create two new senior positions at the Census Bureau and fill them with political operatives is yet another unprecedented attempt by the Trump administration to politicize the 2020 Census,” Maloney said in a statement.

    […] The appointment of Cogley, in particular, was met with deep skepticism inside the Census Bureau.

    During meetings and briefing calls in his previous role, he had raised some questions about how the census was conducted — a delicate subject given that small changes in methodology could lead to dramatic swings in numbers. Everything from congressional redistricting to the apportionment of certain federal programs relies on the figures, lending what might otherwise seem like wonkish data collection questions vast political weight.

    […] there are ongoing discussions about how vigorously the Census Bureau must try to reach people who haven’t responded to the census questionnaire. That follow-up, which begins August 11, can mean making as many as 16 attempts to reach someone at their suspected residence. Minority groups, especially Black Americans, have historically been underrepresented in census data; for various reasons, they have traditionally been harder to reach. […]

    Cogley’s new job, as the deputy director for policy, also raised internal eyebrows; in recent decades, there hasn’t been a political appointee who was put in at such a senior level. […]

    “At this point in the census cycle, it’s disturbing that these two positions would be created, and it gives the appearance that the administration is attempting to politicize the 2020 census,” said John H. Thompson, who was director of the Census Bureau in the last few years of the Obama administration and first five months of the Trump administration. “If the career people at the Census Bureau were ordered to do something that was not in the best interest of getting an accurate count, they would just walk out of the building.”

    A person close to the bureau said the expectation is that the two will not have any hand in direct operation of the 2020 census and no line authority. That will prevent them from telling Census employees which Americans to count, and which not to.

    They are also expected to not have access to the data files that store Americans’ responses to the census or from any of the statistical surveys, which is highly restricted to a very small number of the Census Bureau’s thousands of employees. […]

    The new hires come as the Census Bureau deals with the coronavirus pandemic, which poses a challenge as the agency seeks to keep employees in the field safe as they start to collect data in August. […]

    “The biggest concern to me is the reputation of the Census Bureau as a nonpartisan non-political agency that provides information and supports the democracy and helps drive it so to the extent that additional political appointees are fabricated and inserted into a federal statistical agency you really really run the risk of damaging the reputation and it raises questions in people’s minds,” said the person close to the bureau.

    […] “There are two people ill equipped to actually manage the census,” said Kenneth Prewitt, a former director of the bureau at the end of the Clinton administration. “They’re very well equipped to advance political interests, especially of the Republican Party. That’s their background and their career goals. It’s unprecedented for two political appointees to be added to the bureau in the middle of a census count in the recent history of the Census Bureau.”


  136. says

    From Wonkette. (Long, but thorough. Worth reading.):

    […] Trump spent an entire year ignoring reports that Russia was paying the Taliban to murder US and coalition troops in Afghanistan, and the White House’s plan to deal with the exploding scandal is to pretend that those nervous nellies at the NSA couldn’t be sure about the intel, so the White House had no choice but to wait indefinitely for verification before taking any action that might upset Trump’s pal Putin.

    It’s a really dumb plan.

    FFS, the New York Times’s Rukmini Callimachi has half of ISIS on speed dial. Did the White House think she wouldn’t know a guy in the Taliban?

    Take it away, Times:

    American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, which was among the evidence that supported their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan […]

    Though the United States has accused Russia of providing general support to the Taliban before, analysts concluded from other intelligence that the transfers were most likely part of a bounty program that detainees described during interrogations. Investigators also identified by name numerous Afghans in a network linked to the suspected Russian operation, the officials said — including, two of them added, a man believed to have served as an intermediary for distributing some of the funds and who is now thought to be in Russia.

    So, they had SIGINT and HUMINT to back up the allegations that Russia put out a hit on American troops? Cool, cool. As the paper drily notes, this helped to “reduce an earlier disagreement among intelligence analysts and agencies” over the reliability of the intel.

    Does the Times have contacts on the ground in Afghanistan? You bet your ass they do!

    Afghan officials this week described a sequence of events that dovetails with the account of the intelligence. They said that several businessmen who transfer money through the informal “hawala” system were arrested in Afghanistan over the past six months and are suspected of being part of a ring of middlemen who operated between the Russian intelligence agency, known as the G.R.U., and Taliban-linked militants. The businessmen were arrested in what the officials described as sweeping raids in the north of Afghanistan, as well as in Kabul.</blockquote
    Safiullah Amiry, the deputy provincial council chief in Kunduz City, told the Times that 13 people were arrested in the joint US-Afghan raids of suspected Taliban militants, but "[t]wo of the main targets of the raid had already fled — one to Tajikistan and one to Russia." What a coincidence! Amiry said he was told that "the raids were related to Russian money being dispersed to militants," and indeed it was at the home of one of these men where Navy SEALs discovered half a million dollars in greenbacks.

    The US government suspects that the Russians may have paid a bounty for the murders of three Marines in a roadside attack in April 2019 outside Bagram Air Base. And here again, the Times has on-the-ground sources.

    In Parwan Province, where Bagram Airfield is, the Taliban are known to have hired local criminals as freelancers, said Gen. Zaman Mamozai, the former police chief of the province. He said the Taliban’s commanders are based in two districts of the province, Seyagird and Shinwari, and that from there they coordinate a network that commissions criminals to carry out attacks.

    And Haseeba Efat, a former member of Parwan’s provincial council, also said the Taliban have hired freelancers in Bagram district — including one of his own distant relatives in one case. […]

    So, kinda looks like there was a quite a bit of intelligence evidence supporting this bounty scheme. And while the White House is at pains to emphasize that it wasn’t “verified,” the Times notes that it was sufficiently credible to be included in the May 4 edition of the CIA’s in-house daily World Intelligence Review, AKA “The Wire.”

    Meanwhile the the White House keeps repeating that there wasn’t perfect agreement between the intelligence agencies about the Russian plot, while simultaneously denying reports that it appeared in the Presidential Daily Briefing at least twice, once last year and once this past February.

    Yesterday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe huddled up with congressional Republicans to get their story straight. And OH LOOK guess where else the New York Times has good sources.

    That briefing focused on intelligence information that supported the conclusion that Russia was running a covert bounty operation and other information that did not support it, according to two people familiar with the meeting. For example, the briefing focused in part on the interrogated detainees’ accounts and the earlier analysts’ disagreement over it.

    Both people said the intent of the briefing seemed to be to make the point that the intelligence on the suspected Russian bounty plot was not clear cut. For example, one of the people said, the White House also cited some interrogations by Afghan intelligence officials of other detainees, downplaying their credibility by describing them as low-level.

    The administration officials did not mention anything in the House Republican briefing about intercepted data tracking financial transfers […]

    Just to disambiguate that one and make the subtext into text, the White House is trying to point to the disagreement last year, when the only intel they had on the Russian plot came from detainee interrogations, to make the case there was too much confusion for the president to act to protect American troops. They are deliberately not talking about the Russian wires of cash, or the money seized during the raid. Which seems ever so slightly disingenuous, no?

    […] we are four days into this metastasizing scandal and Donald Trump has STILL not said a damn word condemning Russia for targeting American troops.

  137. says

    Commentary from Mark Joseph Stern:

    On Tuesday, in a sweeping 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court forced a majority of states to fund private religious schools in a ruling that compels millions of U.S. taxpayers to subsidize Christian education—even if financing another religion violates their own beliefs. […] In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor described the majority’s decision as “perverse.” That may be an understatement: Its decision is the culmination of a yearslong assault on secular governance and augurs even more radical rulings down the road.

    The basis for Tuesday’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana originated in a creative scheme devised by the Montana Legislature to fund sectarian schools. The Montana Constitution contains a “no-aid” provision that bars the state from providing public funds to religious institutions, as do 37 other state constitutions. To work around this rule, the Legislature granted tax credits to residents who donate money to Big Sky Scholarships, which pays for students to attend private schools, both secular and sectarian. (Montana’s demographics ensure that the only sectarian schools that participate are Christian.) In other words, residents get money from the state when they help children obtain a private education, including religious indoctrination. […]

    Chief Justice John Roberts revived Montana’s tax credit scheme on Monday in a convoluted opinion that announces a startling new constitutional principle: Once a state funds private education, “it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.” Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico all provide tax credits or vouchers to families that send their children to private schools. Under Espinoza, they must now extend these programs to private religious schools.

    The upshot: Taxpayers in most of the country will soon start funding overtly religious education—including the indoctrination of children into a faith that might clash with their own conscience. For example, multiple schools that participate in Montana’s scholarship program inculcate students with a virulent anti-LGBTQ ideology that compares homosexuality to bestiality and incest. But many Montanans of faith believe LGBTQ people deserve respect and equality because they are made in the image of God. What does the Supreme Court have to say to Montanans who do not wish to fund religious indoctrination that contradicts their own beliefs? In short, too bad: Your rights just don’t matter as much.

    This decision flips the First Amendment on its head. The amendment’s free exercise clause protects religious liberty, while its establishment clause commands that the government make no law “respecting an establishment of religion.” Just 18 years ago in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, a bare majority of the Supreme Court ruled that, under the establishment clause, states were allowed to fund private schools through vouchers or tax credits, over vigorous dissents from the four liberal justices. Now the court has declared that, under the free exercise clause, most states are compelled to fund private religious schools. The conservative majority has revolutionized church-state law in record time. […]


    More at the link.

  138. says

    Bellingcat thread:

    Thread – The New York Times reported last night that the GRU’s Unit 29155 paid militants in Afghanistan to attack US troops. Bellingcat has been tracking the activity of Unit 29155 for quite some time now

    In the recent episode of @Bellingchat [I had no idea they had a podcast! – SC], @christogrozev explained his investigation into the Skripal assassination atempt, one of Unit 29155’s most notorious operations

    We were also able to identify a third suspect linked to the Skripal poisoning, Denis Sergeev, who appeared to be the commander of the other two suspects

    We then were able to connect Sergeev to another attempted assassination using a nerve agent, this time in Bulgaria in 2015

    Further investigation allowed us to identify many more suspects involved in the Bulgaria poisoning, all seemingly linked to Unit 29155

    We were able to acquire travel details of many of the suspects, and found some interesting patterns. For example, Sergeev spent a lot of time around the World Anti-Doping Agency building in Switzerland

    Other Unit 29155 operations include an attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016

    Another GRU officer who was linked to the Bulgaria assassination attempt then ended up working at a diplomat at the World Trade Organisation, leaving suddenly once we started reporting on Unit 29155’s activities

    The New York Times report demonstrates what we’ve found in our investigations, that what we’ve published is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the activities of Unit 29155, which includes plotting coups, assassinations, and other spying activity….

  139. says

    NBC – “Facebook to remove anti-government ‘Boogaloo’ groups”:

    Facebook announced Tuesday that it is removing groups dedicated to the Boogaloo extremist movement one month after federal officials alleged the anti-government network’s adherents used the platform to plan the murder of a federal agent.

    The social media giant said it removed 220 Boogaloo Facebook groups and 95 Instagram accounts that violated its policies against organized violence. It said 400 additional groups that were tangentially associated with the movement would be taken down, too.

    “Today we are designating a violent U.S.-based anti-government network as a dangerous organization and banning it from our apps. This network uses the term boogaloo but is distinct from the broader and loosely-affiliated boogaloo movement because it actively seeks to commit violence,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in a statement.

    In May, federal officials alleged that Steven Carrillo killed a federal security officer during protests in Oakland, California, against the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. Carrillo allegedly plotted the attack with a man he met in a Boogaloo Facebook group and aimed to use protesters to “support our own cause” of a second Civil War.

    The Boogaloo is a heavily armed, mostly conservative libertarian militia movement with extreme anti-government views that advocates for a violent uprising targeting mostly law enforcement. The movement, which has strong ties to current and former military members, grew to tens of thousands of followers since January, mostly in Facebook groups.

    Several self-professed “boogaloo boys” have been arrested in recent months, charged with crimes including the murder of law enforcement officers and planning terror attacks at Black Lives Matter protests.

    Facebook’s announcement comes amid several crises at the company. A growing chorus of Facebook employees have spoken out against company policies surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the lack of policy enforcement for politicians. And a growing advertising boycott now includes Unilever, Verizon, Ford, Starbucks and nearly 250 other advertisers.

    Facebook has reacted to the mounting pressure with new policies that include labeling political speech that violates the company’s content rules and cracking down on “hateful content.”

    Facebook said it worked with extremism researchers to determine its new policy.

    “These acts of real-world violence and our investigations into them are what led us to identify and designate this distinct network,” the Facebook spokesperson wrote in the statement.

  140. blf says

    SC@226 (sticks out tongue)
    I don’t want to talk to you no more, you pea-brained horse’s bottom wiper. I fart at your general election. Your mother was a hare, and your father smelt of furor. Fetchez la vache Troie!

    (With apologies to Monty Python.)

  141. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog:

    Slovenia’s interior minister has resigned and the economy minister has been detained in connection with an investigation into alleged irregularities in the purchase of protective gear during the pandemic.


    Slovenian media have reported numerous alleged irregularities during the acquisition of protective equipment and respirators shortly after a new centre-right government was appointed in March.

    They have accused the economy minister Zdravko Počivalšek of favouring some companies that did not offer adequate equipment. He has denied any wrongdoing.

  142. says

    What the president was doing the same day the PDB reportedly detailed that Russian intelligence was offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. forces in Afghanistan, while a deadly pandemic was spreading across the country.

    Put this tweet in a museum.”

    The tweet [from Josh Dawsey) reads: “Trump spent 45 minutes today w/producers behind a play that dramatized the text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, complaining about why ‘some people are in prison and others aren’t’. He is now meeting with Diamond and Silk and others.”

  143. blf says

    Scott Lively Would Rather Be Beheaded Than Forced by the Government to Wear a Mask:

    [… A]nti-LGBTQ activist Scott Lively posted a video on YouTube Saturday in which he argued that requiring people to wear masks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus is akin to the Nazis forcing Jewish people to wear yellow stars on their clothing and declared that he’d rather be beheaded than to be forced to wear one by the government.


    Welcome to the Green Mask Cult (not a band, as far as I know)! Please form a line to enter the hand sanitiseatron and holiest of holies, the vaccineamatic.

    So if masks are mandated in this loon’s area, there will be one less loon (supposedly). Sounds like a win-win — fewer infections and fewer loons!

  144. blf says

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

    A new set of polling data from Pew Research has this doozy: The share of Republicans who say they’re satisfied with the direction of the country has dropped below 50%… to 19%:

    Until today, GOP satisfaction with how things are going in the US had been above 50% for nearly all of Trump’s presidency [sic].
    It is now 19%.
    [Public’s Mood Turns Grim; Trump Trails Biden on Most Personal Traits, Major Issues: “Just 17% say they are ‘proud’ when thinking about state of the US]

    In the same poll, a 56–42 majority said Trump has a responsibility to release his tax returns, with 20% of Republicans saying so. A 55–25 majority said Trump had changed the tone of political debate in the country for the worse and nearly six in ten disapprove of Trump’s job performance as president [sic].


  145. says

    Something we don’t need, but that is likely coming our way anyway:

    White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that U.S. health officials are keeping an eye on a new strain of flu carried by pigs in China that has characteristics of the 2009 H1N1 virus and 1918 pandemic flu.

    CNBC link

    In other news, more signs of incompetence from the Trump administration:

    The stimulus program [Paycheck Protection Program] that has both infuriated and sustained small-business owners since its launch in April closed on Tuesday with more than $130 billion left unused, prompting lawmakers to consider how to repurpose the money for the still-ailing economy.

    Quoted text is from the Washington Post.

  146. says

    From Politico:

    Roger Stone’s underlying health issues are ‘medically controlled’ and the prison he’s being sent to has no documented cases of coronavirus, and therefore he doesn’t merit an additional 60-day delay of his prison term, the judge in his case has determined in a newly unsealed opinion.

  147. blf says

    A follow-up to @219, Ireland left out as EU opens borders to 15 states including Australia, Canada and Japan:

    [Ireland] was invited to take part, but could only do so if Britain agreed due to open border

    European Union member states approved a list of 15 countries around the world that are deemed safe for travel, agreeing that member states should open their border to them for all travel from Wednesday.

    Unusually among EU member states, Ireland is not part of the agreement because it is not in the Schengen area of free travel and has a Common Travel Area with the United Kingdom. [that includes, but is not limited to, the famous open border between N.Ireland and the Republic –blf]

    Ireland was invited to take part in the joint agreement, but could only do so if Britain also agreed due to the open border, and it opted not to do so, The Irish Times understands. […]

    To take part, Ireland would need to close off travel to all states but those on the “safe” list. The agreement notes that it “also includes Ireland and the United Kingdom if they decide to align”.


  148. says

    From Politico, evidence that Republicans in the House of Congress are acting like petulant children:

    Democrats see a boycott motivated by partisan politics. Republicans argue they have legitimate security concerns. Either way, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee have skipped all but one of the panel’s proceedings, public and private, since before Congress went into its coronavirus-lockdown in early March. And that impasse shows no signs of ending, even as the panel takes up issues like China, Covid-19 and the annual intelligence policy bill.

    This looks to me like a way for Republicans to think they are saying “fuck you” to Adam Schiff.

  149. says

    Even The Trump Admin’s Best Testing Effort Is Laughably Small

    For eight drive-through testing sites around the United States, today is the last day of federal support.

    The Trump Administration has downplayed the importance of the sites, whose lapse in funding [was] first reported last week, calling them “antiquated” and “inefficient.”

    But, late Tuesday afternoon, as the end-of-month expiration date drew near, HHS Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir abruptly announced that the Trump administration will keep supporting 600 separate testing sites at pharmacies around the country, which the administration has highlighted as its preferred alternative to the eight federally funded sites.

    Giroir announced that the Trump administration would extend the partnership through August, in part because of spiking numbers of coronavirus cases in states around the country.

    Despite the administration’s touting of the pharmacy collaboration, experts told TPM that the program is responsible for a laughably small number of testing sites, and that it barely compares with local, state-level, and corporate attempts to ramp up capacity independent of support from the Department of Health and Human Services.

    The scale of testing needed to adequately surveil COVID-19 in the United States is vast.

    Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, has estimated that the U.S. should be doing more than 900,000 tests per day. […]

    Currently, the country is performing around 500,000 tests per day. Giroir said that the pharmacy testing program the Trump administration is extending at the last minute has delivered 750,000 tests since March.

    […] HHS claimed in response that the drive-through sites which lose support on Wednesday don’t constitute the administration’s current, primary effort, and are part of an “antiquated,” “1.0” stage of the response.

    […] But the funding and support which remains in place is very limited. Out of 67,000 pharmacies in the U.S., HHS is extending direct support to 600 of them.

    […] Joe Goode, a CVS spokesman, told TPM that the drugstore chain had set up 1,400 testing sites without help from HHS.

    […] The extent of the federal help also falls far short of the 1 million tests per day number that experts say would provide adequate testing for the U.S. population. HHS told TPM that as of June 25, its community-based testing program had performed a total of 1,021,161 tests since the program’s inception in March.

    […] The government has no intention of funding the sites indefinitely, HHS told TPM. Rather, the Trump administration is intent on shifting costs for the public health measure back onto people’s insurance plans.

    […] it’s not clear how tightly-knit that insurance backup safety net will be. Experts describe contradictory and vague guidance from the administration that could leave some people falling through the cracks, depending on how their insurance companies interpret the jumble of directives.

    […] “It’s entirely unclear from one day to the next what is getting paid for by whom and what is getting delivered by whom.”

    […] it’s not clear why the federal government has not been more aggressive in setting up testing.

    “I don’t disagree with HHS’s assertion that they’re making a contribution — the question is why aren’t they making a larger contribution,” […].

  150. blf says

    FDA issues guidance for coronavirus vaccine approval:

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday released guidance for approving a coronavirus vaccine, saying the vaccine has to prevent or decrease disease severity in at least 50 percent of people who are inoculated.


    Vaccine developers have also been asked for data to support use during pregnancy and to show safety and effectiveness in children, the health regulator said.

    “The guidelines are pretty standard, they look pretty much like influenza vaccine guidelines,” said Gregory Poland, director of Mayo vaccine research group. “I don’t think that’s a high bar. I think that’s a low to maybe an appropriate bar for a first-generation Covid-19 vaccine.”

    Flu vaccines are 30–70 percent effective in any given year, according to Jefferies[] analyst Michael Yee. The guidelines could be seen as a relatively high bar given the urgency to accelerate availability of a vaccine, Yee added.


      † I have no idea why the feck the Irish Times and/or Reuters is quoting a financial analyst about vaccines!

  151. blf says

    Teh NKofE is finally getting a currency to match its abilities, British pound sinking to ‘emerging market currency’ status:

    The pound is now an emerging-market currency in all but name, according to analysts at Bank of America, who say that Brexit has turned it into a mirror of the “small and shrinking” UK economy.

    In the four years since the UK voted to leave the EU, trading conditions in the pound and the big swings in exchange rates make it a better match with the Mexican peso than the US dollar, said Kamal Sharma, a currency analyst at Bank of America. He said movements in the currency since the June 2016 Brexit vote had become “neurotic at best, unfathomable at worst”.


    Traditionally, sterling has been part of the so-called G5 currency group — alongside the dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and Swiss franc — as one of the most heavily traded and therefore safest currencies in the world.


    The pound has not recovered to levels before the UK voted to leave the bloc, losing about a fifth of its value. And since the start of the pandemic, sterling has moved violently. At the height of the crisis, investors were bracing for such great swings in the pound that only the Brazilian real experienced a larger increase in implied volatility [“a measure of investors’ expectations of the scale of future price moves”].


    This is apparently based-on, or a reprint-of, a Financial Times article (hence all the jargon).

  152. tomh says

    Another QAnon supporter headed for Congress.

    Gun rights activist defeats five-term GOP congressman in Colorado primary
    David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz
    June 30, 2020 at 8:33 p.m. PDT

    The owner of a gun-themed restaurant who battled the city and state over coronavirus restrictions pulled off an upset Tuesday, defeating five-term Rep. Scott R. Tipton in Colorado’s Republican primary…

    Lauren Boebert prevailed in the rural, conservative 3rd Congressional District over Tipton, a member of the tea party class of 2010 who had the endorsement of President Trump…

    “Everything I’ve heard of Q — I hope this is real,” Boebert told the QAnon-aligned web interview show Steel Truth last month. “Because it only means America is getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values.”

    Boebert, a gun rights activist, owns Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., where the staff carries their weapons as they serve customers who can order a “Guac 9” burger or a “Turkey Ham Uzi Melt…”

    Sounds like a fun place to go.

  153. lumipuna says

    The green of the Greens is coincidentally the green of Islam

    There may be fifty shades of grey … but there’s no green but Green!

  154. says

    Noga Tarnopolsky:

    In an amazing interview with @ReshetBet, Energy Minister & Netanyahu crony @steinitz_yuval says Israelis should hope for annexation “in the next months or weeks” (lol) before plunging into a fullsome paean to PM, who he describes as a wizard of the study of Americans.

    Meanwhile, West Bank settler leader @DElhayani now excoriates Netanyahu for being a loser wimp who doesn’t have the guts to buck the Americans and unilaterally, maybe regally, decree annexation & exhorts him to realize “the Ameicans will be fine with it, they’ll deal.”

    It feels prurient to listen in on right-wing ministers’ declarations of Israeli submission to the United States when it comes to “sovereignty.” Their pride & joy when talking about waiting for the White House to rule on Israel’s “unilateral” decision is, um, weird.

    In related news:

    Israel’s Foreign Minister when asked if there will be annexation today – “I don’t know. Ask Netanyahu.”

    That’s all.

    Israel’s coronavirus response has gone off the rails. Perhaps they should be focused on that.

  155. blf says

    Clever. Madrid’s Teatro Real reopens with socially distanced opera:

    The opening scenes of merriment have taken on a sombre tone, with the chorus clad in black and white and spaced exactly 2 metres apart. Minutes into the staging of La Traviata, the surgical masks come off, timed with the rising notes of an orchestra led by a conductor standing behind a plastic screen.

    Spain’s Teatro Real will reopen its doors to the public on Wednesday, becoming one of the world’s first opera houses to return to the stage with a production that includes a chorus, orchestra and soloists after months of lockdown. On offer is Verdi’s La Traviata, tweaked to reflect life in the time of Covid-19.


    The Teatro Real […] had originally scheduled a run of La Traviata for May and July and, given the relatively small orchestra needed for the performance, it saw it might be possible to salvage some of the season and still abide by physical distancing.

    The result is a production in which every aspect — both on and off stage — is coloured by the pandemic. “This isn’t an opera staged in normal conditions,” said [artistic director Joan] Matabosch. “This is an effort by the Teatro Real to actively push for a progressive return to normality.” The decision was also made out of respect for the artists, many of whom “have gone five months without earning one euro”, he added.

    Every move onstage has been carefully calculated to keep soloists two metres apart. Members of the 56-piece orchestra wear masks when possible and sit 1.5 metres from each other, with plastic panels in front of the woodwind section. Artists have been asked to arrive much earlier than normal for the 27 performances, their entrances staggered to avoid any crowding and to allow them to have their temperature taken.

    More than €340,000 (£310,000) has been spent gearing up for a half-capacity audience of up to 869 people, who will each also have their temperature taken before being allowed in and be required to wear a mask at all times. No-touch features have been installed in the washrooms and the intermission extended to 40 minutes to avoid crowds or long queues.

    With scenes of ballroom dances, social gatherings and passionate embraces punctuating the original production, the task of redesigning the stage concept fell to the director Leo Castaldi.

    The tale of La Traviata, woven through with one character’s battle with tuberculosis, seemed like the perfect opera in which to explore this disconnect. “It’s not that La Traviata is the story of an epidemic, but it’s clear that one cannot watch this opera without thinking of what we’re living through,” Castaldi said.

    The production is peppered with nods to the current situation, such as the grid of red lines that divide the stage into 2-metre boxes, hinting at what Castaldi described as the psychological “imprisonment” of limited space.

    The wide swaths of empty space initially proved complicated for the artists, who strained to hear each other over the metres of distance that separated them. After 10 days of rehearsal — an accelerated timeline forced by the lockdown — they adjusted.

    “It’s a La Traviata that makes sense for today’s times,” said Castaldi. “And in doing it this way we discovered things. We discovered that, yes, there is distance but that music can fill this distance.”

    There’s several images at the link (no video, however).

  156. blf says

    ‘Wear your crown, because change is coming’: Virginia joins states banning hair discrimination (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […] Virginia became the fourth US state, and the first in the south, to pass legislation banning hair discrimination based on racial identifiers including hair texture and hair type, as well as “protective hairstyles such as braids, {locs} and twists”. The law, known as the Crown Act, goes into effect on Wednesday.


    The crowd [at “the recently defaced statue of Confederate leader Robert E Lee in Richmond, Virginia”] at times included many Black men and women sporting natural and protective styles like braids, Afros, dreadlocks and twists. The Guardian interviewed more than a dozen Black Virginians who wear their hair naturally, and were told personal stories of social isolation, professional microaggressions and racist bullying they have faced.

    Mimi Fairyqueen was seven when her hair was first chemically straightened, calling it “a coming-of-age practice that all the women in {her} family did”. […] She once pre-qualified for a role teaching Spanish, only to show up for her interview and be told there were no vacancies.


    First crafted and sponsored by California state senator Holly Mitchell, the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair — or Crown — Act passed unanimously and was signed into law in 2019, followed by similar versions in New Jersey and New York soon after.

    Friday will mark National Crown Day, on the first anniversary of California’s adoption of the Crown Act, which campaigners have created to celebrate Black people, their right to wear their natural hair without fear of discrimination, and to help push for other states to take up the legislation.


    Black hair has a complicated history in the US. Many descendants of Africans, brought from cultures in which hairstyles could indicate a person’s family background, tribe or social status, were forced to adopt protective styles to prevent their hair from being damaged by the elements as they endured centuries of slavery.

    In Louisiana in the 1700s, Tignon Laws even forced Black women to wear head wraps. Their natural hairstyles were considered a threat to the beauty of White women. Many adopted elaborate scarf and head wrapping techniques in a defiant effort to reclaim their beauty and image.

    Today, federal regulations on Black hairstyles are inconsistent. A federal court ruled in 2016 that employers can legally fire employees or deny applicants for wearing dreadlocks and other hairstyles commonly associated with African Americans.

    But many activists point to the US military as a source of hope. Known for enforcing some of the strictest appearance and grooming regulations, its five branches formally revoked bans on natural hairstyles, including dreadlocks, in 2017 after a years-long legal battle.

    Whennah Andrews [then] of the US national guard led that fight, beginning with a 2014 challenge to revised army restrictions that would have banned the dreadlocks she had worn for several years, as well as styles like braids and twists. She [now educates] corporations on how to better accommodate Black cultural expressions in the workforce.

    Today, most states don’t have laws that explicitly ban discrimination based on a person’s natural hairstyle or texture. But that is changing. Colorado, where Andrews resides, followed Virginia and became the fifth state to pass the Crown Act in March. Thirteen states are currently weighing similar legislation.


    The article doesn’t identify the 13 states currently considering the Crown Act.

    As a reminder, one of the tests used in apartheid S.Africa to determine whether or not a person should be classified as “black” was to insert a pencil in their hair. If it fell out, they weren’t “black”, and it if didn’t, they were. (If you inserted a pencil in my hair with my permission, it’d fall out; without my permission there’d, well, let’s just say go Librarian; and if you did that to my hedgehog, er, beard, the various critters that live within would be the ones going Oook! Ooook!!…)

    Lots of neat pictures at the link (including the quoted Ms Fairyqueen)!

  157. blf says

    An opinion column from Ozland, Unemployment is no fun at the best of times, but it’s particularly strange during a pandemic:

    The government website suggested I apply to be a Portuguese-speaking chef or steel fabricator. I’ve been to Portugal! I … know what steel is!

    One morning recently, my day began like every other: I pulled back the curtains, made a strong cup of coffee, and looked for work. This has been my ritual since March. I logged on to the government Jobactive website and saw the following jobs suggested for me: Portuguese-speaking chef, experienced steel fabricator, and tennis coach.

    I’ve now been out of work for over three months after my workplace shut down due to restrictions — freelance work, too, has dried up due to budget constraints or publications closing.

    By now, I’m considering everything. After seeing these jobs, that curious part of my brain wondered if I could bluff my way into any of them. I’ve been to Portugal! I played tennis in high school! And I … know what steel is!

    A friend suggested a Mrs Doubtfire situation, with me running between jobs and hastily changing outfits. I imagined backhanding Portuguese tarts in a steel factory. Although this did appeal to me, especially as I could work in a Benny Hill-style nudie run at the end, it seemed that the right thing to do was not waste anybody’s time. (Besides, who wants to be around a tennis club when a rogue Novak Djokovic could start a covid conga line at any given moment?)

    Tennis player Novak Djokovic held a series of games in the Balkans with no precautions whatsoever; now he, other players, and presumably others are infected. Having proved themselves selfish eejits, I hope Mr Djokovic and the others players and officials who participated get a lifetime ban: They proved themselves perfectly willing to kill people for money, so a mere lifetime ban from the game seems an appropriate penalty. That’s less serious than the ban from life they were doing for money. They don’t even have to give up their medals or repay their awards. I doubt much of anything will happen, however.

    Unemployment is no fun at the best of times, but it’s a particularly strange experience during a pandemic. In April, I searched every job site online to cross-reference, and despite my degrees and work experience in several different industries, only fit the bill for three jobs. I’ve joined Facebook groups for local job listings and witnessed posts less than 30 minutes old have their comments turned off because they received hundreds of messages from applicants.

    My anxiety has even taken me to the deepest, darkest, most disturbing corner of the internet … LinkedIn.

    I broke out in loud laughter here, from which I’m only just recovered (bar a few giggles). Yonks ago, a colleague convinced me to sign up. It didn’t take me too long to realise the author is putting it very very politely. Whilst I did maintain or make genuine professional contacts there, I never really saw the point, and the antics of both the site itself and its members made several of the alleged circles of hell seem a pleasant day in a park with no social distancing necessary, and on a world without peas.

    A place where businessmen named Chad smile at me with their unnervingly white teeth and soulless eyes, urging me to buy their eBook titled Sharks Never Sleep: 8 Hacks For Business And Success We Can Learn From Great Whites.

    At this point I think we can safely say if you need a clever writer, please get in contact with the author!

    […] I’ve worked in the community with people applying for jobs after a sleepless night at a boarding house. Or people accessing treatment for mental illness or substance use issues only to be labelled a “bludger” [Ozland slang for a lazy person, a scounger –blf]. Young people fleeing violence applying for private rentals knowing the real estate agent isn’t going to grant a lease to a teenager on youth allowance. I’ve seen these attitudes and systems destroy hope in people who desperately need support.

    Today, I am just another person feeling useless and guilty for … what, exactly? Existing in a world where even prior to Covid-19, underemployment and increased casualisation of workplaces were a concern? For benefiting from the coronavirus supplement in an admission that the typical jobseeker rate is not enough to live off? Despite knowing this intellectually, it remains an ongoing challenge to resist feeling like a failure. But I’m not — and neither is anyone who was unemployed prior to March 2020.

    Not sure that specific of a date — or indeed any date — is necessary, albeit the point is clear: Un- or under-employment due to Covid-19 isn’t your fault (unless you are hair furor or similar others).

    [… A]s for me? Perhaps I’ll look up what a steel fabricator actually does … or maybe I’ll take the afternoon off.

    • Deirdre Fidge is a writer whose work has appeared on ABC News [Ozland’s “BBC” –blf], SBS, the Sydney Morning Herald, Frankie magazine and television’s Get Krackin

  158. blf says

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

    Fauci comes under fire

    As coronavirus cases surge across the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, who lead’s the CDC’s pandemic response, is facing growing backlash from conservative leaders fed up with his warnings about states’ reopening efforts.

    He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t need his advice anymore, Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.


    Ingraham went on to accuse Fauci of working for Donald’s Trump Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

    The backlash comes following Fauci’s testimony at a senate hearing Tuesday, where he said he’s certain that more new Covid-19 cases among young Americans can be attributed to bars opening back up, and large social gatherings — even though that same demographic marched side-by-side in major cities.

    [… T]he data backs up Fauci: parties, not protests are the cause for spikes in young people.

  159. blf says

    Turkey: Erdoğan vows social media controls over insults to family:

    Turkish leader threatens new law to regulate immoral social media over tweets directed at daughter and son-in-law.


    Addressing his party’s provincial leaders via a conference call on Wednesday, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened new legislation by the year’s end to stringently regulate immoral social media.

    Do you understand why we are against social media such as YouTube, Twitter and Netflix? To eradicate such immorality, Erdoğan told members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    He said his government is determined to introduce legislation that would force social media companies to establish a legal presence in Turkey.

    The requirement would mean they could be held financially accountable and forced to respond to Turkish court decisions.


    Although Erdoğan’s comments came days after the reported insults on social media, his government has long been considering amendments that would enable it to keep social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in check by forcing them to remove content or risk facing heavy fines and restricted access to their platforms.

    Critics fear the move is aimed at further limiting the Turkish public’s ability to access independent news outlets in an environment dominated by pro-government media.

    Turkey has blocked access to thousands of websites. In January, the government lifted a more than two-year ban on Wikipedia after Turkey’s top court ruled the block was unconstitutional.

    Turkey had halted access to the online encyclopedia after it refused to remove content the government deemed to be offensive.


    I’ve corrected the spelling of Erdoğan (unmarked). Al Jazeera really should fix their spelling problem. Unlike the Grauniad, it seems to be deliberate; unlike me when I deliberately misspell, it does not seem to editorial sarcasm.

  160. blf says

    Covid-19 outbreaks at meat-processing plants in US being kept quiet:

    Testing has found positive cases at North Carolina facilities, but officials refuse to release the information

    A chicken processing facility in western North Carolina reportedly underwent widespread testing for Covid-19 in early June.

    Workers at the plant were scared. Several employees had already tested positive and the company, Case Farms — which has been repeatedly condemned for animal treatment and workers’ rights violations — was not providing proper protective equipment.


    The testing turned up 150 positive cases at the facility, the worker said.

    On 8 June, the health department for Burke county, where the Case Farms facility is located, reported 136 new Covid cases, a 25% increase in its total caseload. Yet neither the company, county officials nor the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services would confirm whether those cases were connected to Case Farms.


    In late April, while outbreaks began emerging at meat processing plants across the country, Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing the facilities to remain open. That same month, the US exported a record amount of pork to China, despite industry claims of a domestic shortage.

    Since the pandemic began, more than 36,000 meat processing and farm workers have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 116 have died, according to a tally by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, though the true number is likely higher.

    Through case interviews and contact tracing, the Burke County Health Department, where Case Farms is located, does have data about where people with positive cases work, but are choosing not to release it, said spokeswoman Lisa Moore.

    We know where they are, but we are not a county that can divulge every place where they are, Moore said.

    Case Farms requested the health department direct all questions regarding their facility to a company representative, Moore added.

    In response to a series of detailed questions from the Guardian, a Case Farms spokesperson wrote that the company is committed to continue producing food for our nation’s food supply, while taking additional safety measures to protect our employees, our company and our customers, in accordance with USDA regulations and CDC guidelines.

    Earlier this year, North Carolina’s health department had previously reported the names of farms with two or more positive cases, but in May replaced the names with addresses in order to better reflect the location of the outbreak, according to a department spokesperson.

    “Why, when a nursing home has an outbreak, it’s in the paper, but when a meatpacking facility does, it’s not?” said Mac Legerton, a longtime grassroots policy advocate and co-director of the Robeson County Cooperative for Sustainable Development […]

    As of Thursday [eh? today, date of this article, is Wednesday], there were 2,772 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 28 meat processing plant “clusters” around the state, the department said, but would not specify further.


    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has received nearly 350 Covid-related complaints from employees at North Carolina businesses. One business, Pilgrim’s Pride, a poultry processing plant in Sanford, was the subject of at least eight separate complaints, with workers alleging the company was not informing them of positive tests or mandating the wearing of some protective equipment. A worker there died in May.


  161. blf says

    Unicorn Riot: the tiny media outlet on the frontlines of US protests:

    Non-profit’s dedicated reporting of George Floyd protests has prompted surge of donations that could ensure its future for years to come


    Unicorn Riot, a small non-profit with just eight correspondents, has reported, often via live stream, some of the most engrossing, and frequently shocking, footage of the protests that have spread across the US.

    In some cases Unicorn Riot reporters have become targets for violence themselves, as they have documented the heavy-handed policing and pugnacious rightwing counter-demonstrations that have accompanied the George Floyd protests.

    “We’ve been covering police killings a ton in this area for the last five years,” said Niko Georgiades, one of the founders of Unicorn Riot. […] “So it’s definitely not something new to us, this whole topic.”


    The frontline work is not without dangers.

    In mid-June a Unicorn Riot journalist filmed as a group of people — mostly male, mostly white — gathered around a statue of Christopher Columbus. […] As reporter Chris Schiano filmed, he was confronted by a group of men, some carrying baseball bats. His video, which tens of thousands of people liked and retweeted on Twitter, showed more than one man attempting to grab Schiano’s camera, and another attempting to drag off his bicycle. Another member of the crowd then emerged and slashed the tires of the bike.

    The reporter was assaulted “multiple times” over the course of the protest, Unicorn Riot said.


    It is those raw moments, frequently shared on Twitter and beyond, which have brought newfound attention to Unicorn Riot. The rapid rise has seen the organization, a non-profit which in early May was struggling to raise $5,000 to pay for equipment and staff wages, receive $1m in donations in roughly four weeks.

    Its founders say the money will secure Unicorn Riot’s future, and some will be spent on working with young people of color, encouraging the “next generation” of journalists.

    “It’s been super humbling, and it’s been super amazing and incredible, and it shows our five years hasn’t been in vain,” Georgiades said. “​But this new found interest in us, this new found love for our work, unfortunately came off of a black death. That’s something we really need to be cognizant of, I don’t take that lightly.”

    [… Unicorn Riot — the name was drawn from a pot of founders’ suggestions, and has “provided a huge conversation starter”, Georgiades said —] was formally founded in 2015 by a group of journalists, some of whom had cut their teeth covering Occupy Wall Street protests, others who had reported from Ferguson […]

    “We knew the media was having difficulty with the narrative,” Georgiades said. “There were a lot of movements — the tar sands movement, the Occupy movement, just people fighting for change in multiple arenas — who were not getting their voices heard.”

    […] A recent Icebreaker series was based on homeland security manuals that were leaked to Unicorn Riot, enabling it to report on how police “were constantly using Facebook surveillance of protesters and interagency cooperation to target specific protest organizers” who were demonstrating against the police shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota.


  162. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States politics and pandemic live blog (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Lawsuit claims Trump admin violates First Amendment of immigration judges

    A lawsuit filed by the Knight Institute Wednesday is challenging the Trump administration’s use of gag orders to bar immigration judges from speaking or writing to the public and media.

    The institute, which represents the National Association of Immigration Judges, alleges that restrictions the administration has placed on immigration judges violates the First Amendment, and “imposes an unconstitutional prior restraint on {their free} speech”.

    From the complaint:

    For years, {the Executive Office for Immigration Review} permitted immigration judges to speak in their personal capacities on issues relating to immigration, so long as they provided a disclaimer that they were not speaking on behalf of the agency. In recent years, however, the agency has taken steps that have strictly limited the ability of immigration judges to speak publicly in their personal capacities.


  163. says

    Here’s a link to the July 1 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Germany takes over the European Union’s six-month presidency on Wednesday, with outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel staking her legacy on a massive economic recovery plan to help the bloc with the coronavirus fallout.

    Merkel’s last major role on the international stage comes as the 27-member club faces its deepest recession since the second world war, triggered by a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people globally.

    The crisis has galvanised Europe’s most powerful leader who, with just over a year left in her final term, has ditched her usual wait-and-see approach to call for “extraordinary measures” to weather the storm.

    “Europe’s future is our future,” Merkel said on Monday as she stood beside French president Emmanuel Macron to push for a €750bn ($843bn) coronavirus recovery fund.

    The proposed fund would controversially be financed through shared EU borrowing, which marks a stunning U-turn for Germany after years of opposition to debt pooling.

    The EU’s rotating presidency is Merkel’s “last chance” to make her mark as one of Europe’s great leaders, Der Spiegel weekly wrote.

    “For years the chancellor put off dealing with the chronic problems of the EU and the euro. Now, towards the end of her political career, she has the opportunity to make up for past mistakes,” Spiegel wrote.

    There will be no shortage of challenges to tackle in the months ahead.

    Post-Brexit negotiations, a more assertive China, rocky transatlantic ties, climate change and the conflict in Libya will all be jostling for attention, even if the pandemic promises to dominate the agenda.

  164. says

    Yahoo – “Belarus denies main president challenger spot on ballot”:

    The central elections commission in Belarus has rejected a top challenger’s bid to run against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko in this summer’s election.

    The commision’s decision Tuesday to bar Valery Tsepkalo from the ballot removes any serious competition for Lukashenko, who has stifled opposition and news media during a quarter-century in power.

    Tsepkalo, a former ambassador to the United States and a founder of a successful high-technology park, submitted 160,000 signatures on petitions to get on the ballot for the Aug. 9 election, but the commission said only 75,000 were valid — less than the 100,000 needed.

    Another strong challenger, former banker Viktor Babariko, has been jailed and is facing charges of money-laundering.

    Popular opposition blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky has been jailed on charges of attacking a police officer. Tikhanovksy’s wife, who was running for president, has suspended her campaign.

  165. says

    KDVR – “More Aurora officers under fire for ‘disturbing’ photos taken near McClain memorial”:

    Community activists are livid after learning a group of Aurora police officers are under investigation for photographing themselves, allegedly posing inappropriately, mocking the manner in which Elijah McClain was restrained by police, near his memorial site.

    “We all just cried on the phone,” said Lindsay Minter, a newly appointed member of the City’s community police task force. Minter said she was on the phone with Candice Bailey, a fellow activist, and Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother.

    McClain posted her own thoughts on her personal Twitter account, remarking, “It’s a bunch of smoke, Aurora Colorado has failed in providing justice to its citizens by allowing corrupt officials and police officers to roam the streets,” she wrote. “I am not surprised that these photos are showing up now because the whole department is corrupt. Killers being protected by cowards and cowards being protected by killers.”

    Bailey said she spoke to the interim police chief, Vanessa Wilson, upon learning of the photos that had been circulated.

    While the Aurora Police Department would not confirm how many officers were involved or what, exactly, they were depicted doing, Bailey said she was told the officers were joking about the altercation that preceded McClain’s death.

    “She told me that… there were three officers that were involved, placed on administrative leave, re-enacting what occurred with Elijah,” she said. Bailey said she did not see the photos.

    Meanwhile, the vice chair of Aurora’s Public Safety Courts and Civil Service Commission Policy Committee, Curtis Gardner, said he thought the actions of the officers, as described to him, were callous and disgusting.

    The FOX31 Problem Solvers have learned Wilson sent out pre-disciplinary letters to the officers who were involved, including her recommendations for punishment. The officers have 72 hours to respond with a rebuttal.

    Wilson promised to release the photos, the names of the officers and the full investigative files when the entire investigation is complete.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Justice also revealed that it has been actively reviewing the police altercation with McClain for a “potential federal civil rights investigation” since 2019….

  166. blf says

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

    Cuomo to Trump: ‘Put a mask on it, Mr President!’

    New York governor Andrew Cuomo, in his daily press briefing excoriated Donald Trump for his continued defense of the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying “the buck stops on the president’s [sic] desk”.

    He was in denial. He has been denying what every health expert in America has been saying… Come clean with the American people. At least have the courage to admit what everybody else already knows: you were wrong!

    The governor went on to implore states to reject the president’s [sic] rhetoric and listen to the science, making a play on Trump’s former time as a reality TV host.

    “Denying reality does not defeat reality. He has lived in denial, and he has been denying the scientific facts since day one,” he said. “Reality wins and reality won, and now the country is suffering because of the president [sic]”.

  167. blf says

    China asks US media to submit information about their work:

    AP, CBS, UPI and NPR asked to send government details of their operations in seven days

    Beijing has asked four US media outlets to submit information about their operations in China as a tit-for-tat media row between the two countries escalated.


    Foreign media in China have come under more pressure as press freedoms in the country appear to shrink. In the last year, more than a dozen journalists, many of them from the US, have been expelled from the country.

    China has said such expulsions are in response to moves by the US but critics say that officials have used Washington’s moves as a way to get rid of reporters covering sensitive topics such as internment camps in Xinjiang or the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.


    The excerpted article doesn’t say anything about what it is Big China wants from NPR and the others.

  168. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The global coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, the World Health Organization has said, pointing out that June saw more than half of all cases reported since the start of the pandemic.

    “For the past week, the number of the new cases has exceeded 160,000 on every single day,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.

    Sixty percent of all cases so far have been reported just in the past month.

    With over 511,000 deaths and more than 10.5 million known infections worldwide, the coronavirus pandemic is “not even close to being over”, the WHO warned earlier this week.

    Tedros reiterated that taking a “comprehensive approach” was the best way to rein in the virus.

    Countries that have implemented a wide range of measures, including contact tracing, isolation, physical distancing and mask wearing “have suppressed transmission and saved lives”, he said.

    The UN health agency was therefore very concerned, he said, to see that a number of countries “have not used all the tools at their disposal and have taken a fragmented approach.

    “These countries face a long, hard road ahead,” he said.

    He stressed that while the pandemic posed a scientific challenge, “it’s also a test of character”.

  169. says

    Charlie Pierce in Esquire – “Hey, Foregone Conclusion Fans: Big News Out of Russia!”:

    Oh hey, fans of foregone conclusions, Russia held an election on Tuesday. Vladimir Putin was elected Tsar of all the Russias. Well, not really. Technically, the election dealt with a series of constitutional amendments, one of which guarantees that our president*’s favorite international phone pal will be in office until 2036. This would give Putin the longest tenure of any Russian ruler since…checks notes…oh, yes, Peter the Great.

    That amendment, however, was tucked into a whole raft of other hot-button referenda, including a ban on gay marriage and a formal institutional recognition of a “faith in God.” There was also a provision that gave some sort of pride of place to ethnic Russians, something that historically has not worked out well for those people who are not ethnic Russians. These were seen as mechanisms to goose support for the one amendment that really matters: extending Putin’s term of office. The other amendments appealed to the deep sense of Russian grievance over the country’s perceived fall from international influence, especially among older Russians….

    Which is not to say that the elections were devoid of user-friendly fun. As The Guardian reports, there were…prizes! Tell them what they’ve won, Johnny Olson!

    The referendum is both momentous and absurd. Russians can endorse (or oppose) a plan to let Putin run for two more terms, potentially prolonging his rule beyond that of Stalin, and then win a washing machine or a hairdryer. The raffles and prize giveaways are just part of a broad get-out-the-vote effort endorsed by the government. Companies have authorized their own prize giveaways that could allow them to track employee voting, while government workers such as teachers and doctors – some of whom are busy fighting the coronavirus outbreak – are reportedly being urged to cast ballots, in systematic attempts to boost turnout.

  170. says

    Moscow Times – “‘All We Have Is Putin’: Russians Vote to Grant President Ability to Extend Rule Until 2036”:

    The final day of Russia’s week-long vote on overhauling its Constitution is ending with no surprises. Vladimir Putin, who was first elected president in 2000, has been all but handed the opportunity to remain in office until 2036. If that happens, the former KGB officer will overtake Josef Stalin as the country’s longest-serving leader.

    In an unprecedented week-long vote — ostensibly to thin crowds at polling stations during the coronavirus pandemic — Russians voted yes or no to a bundle of over 200 amendments to their Constitution. The changes included social protections like guaranteed minimum pensions and the enshrining in the document of traditionalist ideology — including an affirmation of Russians’ faith in God and a definition of marriage as possible only between a man and a woman.

    Taken together, the changes are the biggest overhaul of the Constitution since it was written two years after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    But there is one amendment among the many that is key for the Russian president and his supporters, and that critics identify as the reason for the changes being presented in a single yes-or-no vote. It scraps Putin’s term limits — his second consecutive and fourth overall term will come to an end in 2024 — allowing him to run for office again in 2024 and 2030.

    “All we have is Putin,” said Galina Morozova, 81, outside a polling station in central Moscow Wednesday afternoon after voting yes to the changes. “We have to make sure he stays in power.”

    Although the referendum was postponed from its original date in late April by the pandemic, it had long been considered a formality. Before the vote even kicked off on June 25, bookshops in Moscow had begun selling copies of the new Constitution, which was approved by both houses of parliament — the State Duma and the Federal Council — as well as regional assemblies nationwide in March.

    On the eve of the start of voting, Grigory Melkonyants, a co-chairman of the independent election monitor Golos, or Voice, described the vote as one of the “most manipulative” and “least transparent” in the country’s history. A week later, before the final day of voting had kicked off — which Putin declared a national holiday so Russians could head to the polls — Golos had received over 1,500 complaints of violations. The organization said that about half of them held weight.

    Election commission officials fashioned a host of new procedures for the referendum, which Melkonyants warned could enable voter fraud.

    In perhaps the only surprise of the day, early Wednesday afternoon, nearly five hours before the close of polls in Moscow, the Central Election Commission began publishing results: 72.9% had so far voted in favor across the country.

    “We typically have a moratorium on publishing results early because it can influence voters who have not yet voted,” Melkonyants said. “But they’ve made their own rules. What you have is the dirtiest technology being used to influence voters.”

    “We can’t trust these results,” he added.

    Because of this, Kremlin’s loudest critic and de facto opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for his supporters to boycott the vote rather than participate in what he has called a farce.

    Other opposition activists rallied around a movement they called the “No! Campaign.” Throughout the day, the group published its own exit polls for Moscow and St. Petersburg. As of early evening, its results showed 47% in favor of the constitutional changes in Moscow and only 37.8% in St. Petersburg.

    “I know I can’t influence the results, but I would have a guilty conscience if I didn’t at least try,” said Polina Volkova, a 23-year-old waitress, explaining why she voted against the changes.

    Volkova also said that she didn’t see why the voting had to happen during the pandemic, with new daily coronavirus infections remaining in the thousands. Critics have said the Kremlin wants to push the amendments through before discontent over its pandemic response overflows, as Putin’s approval rating is hovering near a historic low of 60%.

    “What we are seeing is a regime that is becoming less and less embarrassed about violating the law to push through what it needs,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of the R.Politik analysis project. “Ultimately, though, it is lying to itself. It does not have this 70 plus percent support that the results are showing.”

    Small protests against the reforms erupted throughout the day.

    …But with Navalny abstaining from political action around the vote, the rally was muted.

    Opposition-minded Russians projected an air of resigned helplessness throughout the day.

    Alexander Klyukin, 63, a former Moscow election commission member, quit last year because he said he realized voting in Russia cannot influence proceedings. He showed up to vote nonetheless.

    “Doing something is still better than doing nothing,” Klyukin said. “Otherwise we are acquiescing to a forever ruler.”

  171. says

    Bianna Golodryga:

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that, through a sham process, Vladimir Putin will make official today what has been a long-time goal: becoming dictator for life. Along the way, he further corrupted a weak but promising democratic system and wrecked countless lives.

    None of this happened in a vacuum. One can debate different US administration policies over the years that may have unintentionally fostered his increased recklessness. But no US President, through his actions, has so consistently benefited Putin the way Trump has.

    That Putin’s “coronation” will occur just as Americans are digesting reports of Russian bounties on US soldiers- with no US action taken to stop or punish Putin, is as stinging an indictment on Trump, as it is on the Russian Duma. Let’s just hope Trump doesn’t congratulate.

  172. blf says

    Spanish towns offer new home for statues targeted by protests in US:

    A handful of towns in Spain have sought to wade into America’s reckoning with its past, offering to rehome controversial statues targeted over their links to colonialism and centuries of genocide against indigenous peoples in the Americas.


    The small town of Boadilla del Monte, on the outskirts of Madrid, has also contacted American officials, this time in a letter directed to San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed.

    The town’s conservative mayor, Javier Úbeda, said he had been disheartened to see a statue of the Spanish priest Junípero Serra had been toppled, while another of Miguel Cervantes, author of the literary classic Don Quixote, had been defaced with graffiti.

    Describing both men as architects in part of what we so proudly today call western civilization, the mayor said he stood ready to take the statues if San Francisco could not protect them with the honour and respect they deserve.


    After the Serra’s statue was toppled in San Francisco, the embassy of Spain in the United States shot back, writing that it deeply regretted the destruction and would like to offer a reminder of his great efforts in support of indigenous communities, on Twitter.

    Junípero Serra’s what? The individual who enslaved many(? most?) of the coastal First Nations, driving them to extinction, did great efforts in support of indigenous communities? The Spanish Embassy is very high on something, but it’s neither facts nor sensitivity.

    The outreach was part of a broader offensive, launched by the Spanish government and aimed at officials across the United States after protesters targeted dozens of monuments related to Spain’s conquest of the Americas. [… F]oreign minister Arancha González Laya […] chalked up the incidents to the lack of knowledge over the shared history between the United States and Spain. This great part of American history that was the Spanish legacy has been overlooked.

    I was partly educated in California. The FM is full of it, so full of it it’s leaking out of her mouth. The Spanish & Mexican legacy was most certainly not overlooked, and the remains of Serra’s string of concentration camps are a popular tourist attraction, albeit not all of them acknowledge the genocide the missionaries perpetuated. Spanish placenames are all over the western states; San Francisco, e.g., is named after Saint Francis.

    (I suppose places where the Spanish weren’t part of the European invasion, e.g., N.Dakota, very possibly due “overlook” (in a broad sense) the legacy; e.g., I don’t recall there being much detail about the French or German legacy being taught in California, which is presumably not the case in some other states?)

  173. blf says

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

    Texas sets a new single-day record for fresh Covid-19 cases

    Covid-19 cases are skyrocketing in Texas, with the state reporting a single-day high of 6,975 newly confirmed cases on Tuesday.


    Despite the spike, protesters gathered outside the state capital Tuesday to express their outrage over the continued shut down of bars and restaurants to combat the spread, which CDC officials sources as a substantial factor in the increase among young people.

    One sign even read Bar Lives Matter. Classy.

    Unrelated, previously:

    POTUS [sic] rejects NYC plan to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ next to Trump Tower

    Donald Trump is criticizing New York City’s plan to paint “Black Lives Matter” on 5th Avenue outside Trump Tower — calling it [an expensive] symbol of hate.


    The move comes as the president [sic] stepped up his defense of actual symbols of hate: Confederate flags and monuments. Using a racist slur against Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, Trump threatened to veto defense spending bills that include provisions to rename Confederate bases.

    In trolling fashion, opponents of the president [sic] are now calling on the city to rename the street that lines Trump Tower President Barack H Obama Ave. […]

  174. says

    “At anti-D.C. statehood press conference, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mt.) urges lawmakers to ‘go out to where the real people are at across the country and ask them where they think’….”

    Funny how Republican Senators keep insisting that residents of DC (46% black) are somehow not ‘real people’. Tom Cotton did that last week as well.”

    In the early twentieth century when the powers-that-be at Harvard (where Tom Cotton went) went into an anti-Semitic panic because they were admitting too many urban Jewish kids, they shifted their standards away from pure academics (can’t have too many nerdy eggheads at…Harvard) and sent recruiters out to the Midwest to find “well-rounded,” “all-American” boys. When Cotton referred to Wyoming as a “well-rounded working-class state” he knew exactly what he was doing. But rhetoric from the 1920s doesn’t have quite the same zing in the 2020s.

  175. says

    On Russia-bounty scandal, Trump is contradicted by his own team

    When it comes to the Russia-bounty scandal, Trump’s message bears little resemblance to the line taken by his own team.

    It was late last week when the New York Times reported on a stunning story: according to U.S. intelligence, while peace talks were underway to end the long-running conflict in Afghanistan, a Russian military intelligence unit “offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.”

    It wasn’t long before it became clear that the White House wasn’t at all sure what to say about this. […] Trump suggested he’d received an intelligence briefing on the controversy, but White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the opposite. What’s more, while Trump said the allegations were deemed not credible by U.S. intelligence, McEnany told reporters that the information was still being “evaluated.”

    The confusion is apparently ongoing. This morning, [Trump] returned to Twitter to offer a new condemnation of the entire controversy.

    “The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party. The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself. If the discredited [New York Times] has a source, reveal it. Just another HOAX!”

    About an hour later, he added that “this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me [and] the Republican Party.”

    These missives […] aligned the Oval Office’s message with the Kremlin’s line on the scandal.

    But it’s not what the president’s team is saying about the same story.

    Soon after Trump dismissed the matter as “fake” and a “hoax,” White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told a national television audience that administration prepared “options” to respond to Russia’s efforts in response to the U.S. intelligence — just as the original NYT report said.

    If the scandal was “made up” to hurt Republicans, why did national security officials bother to prepare possible U.S. responses?

    Similarly, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said this week, “There was intelligence reported on the allegation that the Russians were offering a bounty to the Taliban to kill Americans,” though there were dissenting views within the intelligence community. British officials were reportedly told the same thing.

    But again, if there “was intelligence” on this from U.S. officials, then it necessarily means the controversy isn’t “fake” and wasn’t “made up” by journalists as part of some partisan conspiracy.

    As the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake added this morning, Kayleigh McEnany told reporters yesterday that the White House is “still investigating” the allegations. But if the entire scandal is a “hoax” cooked up to hurt the GOP, why bother with an investigation?

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this morning told reporters, “The fact that the Russians are engaged in Afghanistan in a way that’s adverse to the United States is nothing new. We took this seriously, we handled it appropriately.”

    And while I certainly hope it’s true that the administration took the matter seriously and handled it appropriately, Pompeo’s line appears to be at odds with Trump’s message that there was nothing to take seriously or handle appropriately.

    As the controversy grows more serious, we’ll apparently have to wait for the right hand at the White House to know what the even-further-to-the-right hand is doing.

  176. says

    Polling update:

    In the latest national poll from the Pew Research Center, released yesterday, Joe Biden led Donald Trump among registered voters, 54% to 44%.

    And while Republicans probably found those results discouraging, the latest national USA Today/Suffolk poll was slightly worse for the presidential incumbent: it found the Delaware Democrat leading Trump, 53% to 41%.

    Looking for #nobodylikesyou to trend on Twitter as a way to needle Trump.

  177. says

    YouTube link

    The Lincoln Projec promoted a new minute-long video yesterday, featuring retired Navy SEAL Dr. Dan Barkhuff slamming the president over the Russia/bounty scandal.

    It’s a good ad. Powerful.

  178. says

    Follow-up to SC’s link @284.

    Appeals Court Reinstates Florida’s Ex-Felon ‘Poll Tax’ Law While It Hears Case

    A federal judge’s ruling striking down Florida’s ex-felon “poll tax” law was put on hold Wednesday, after the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit voted to hear the case.

    That is really too bad. I was looking forward to seeing that “poll tax” effort by Republicans in Florida struck down once and for all.

    Florida had used an uncommon procedural move to get the case in front of the full circuit court — which was recently flipped to a majority GOP-appointed court — while skipping the usual step of having the case first heard by a three-judge panel from the appeals court.

    Sneaky, unethical move. GOP chicanery.

    […] At stake are the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in the swing state who still owe court fines and fees. The trial court judge had ruled that Florida could not block ex-felons from voting if they could not afford to pay off those fees.

    Florida voters approved in 2018 a constitutional amendment restoring the franchise of more than 1 million ex-felons in the states. The Republican legislature passed a law in 2019 requiring the repayment of all court fees before an ex-felon can register. It was immediately met by a legal challenge from individual ex-felons and from voting rights groups, who have argued that the regime amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax. […]

    The 11th Circuit granted the state’s request to put that order on hold while it hears the case. Of the ten appellate judges who are considering the case, six are GOP appointees. Five of those GOP appointee were put on the circuit court by […] Trump.


    More at the link.

    From comments posted by readers:

    I thought John Roberts ruled that institutional racism was extinct in America. Well somebody needs to tell John that it can still be seen wandering free in the 11th Circuit.

    I will just add that the system that adds fines and fees of various kinds is also corrupt in the first place.

  179. says

    Follow-up to SC @289.

    More from Aaron Rupar’s thread:

    Asked to detail his thoughts on raising the minimum wage, Trump once again reveals that he’s completely unable to discuss policy in any way shape or form

    Trump dodges a question about how he’d respond if it turned out to be true that Russia put bounties on US troops

    he throws in the vaccine bit when given the chance to follow up after he presented plan A: hope.

    I’m old enough to remember when he said that exact same thing in February.

    Video snippets are available at the link SC provided in comment 289.

  180. says

    Nothing to see here: Just Mike Pompeo talking to the Russians about how to handle the Russian threat.

    […] these reports—which definitely were presented to Donald Trump, at least twice—became the basis of tactical adjustments for the military in Afghanistan. So the intelligence that Republicans are continuing to dismiss was not dismissed by the people whose boots are on the ground. However, even that point seems less alarming than the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We’ve talked to the Russians about how we can reduce the risk,” said Pompeo. “The President has taken the threat incredibly seriously.”

    It’s difficult to even know where to start with Pompeo’s statement. Is the claim that Trump “has taken the threat incredibly seriously” when Trump has called it “a hoax” four times in the last two days, the bigger issue? Or is the more salient point that Pompeo discussed how to reduce the risk of Americans being murdered because Russia was conducting a proxy war of assassination, with the Russians? How did this conversation go? […]
    What’s obvious at this point is that:

    The intelligence community has known about the Russian scheme for over a year.

    Trump was personally briefed in March of 2019 and received an update in a daily brief on Feb. 27.

    Intelligence has tracked the transfer of Russian money into accounts of the Taliban militants.

    The intelligence was regarded as high enough quality to be briefed to Trump, reported to allies, and form the basis of tactical change in Afghanistan.

    Through all of this, Trump did not confront Putin, attempt to halt the payments, or threaten any sanctions or other pushback.

    Instead, Trump invited Putin to attend the G7, tried to convince other leaders into putting Russia back in the group, and conducted a cluster of personal calls with Putin—at least five calls in the last four months.

    What’s also obvious is that the “briefings” being given to Congress represent another instance of this White House deliberately obscuring the truth in an effort to protect Trump.

  181. says

    From Wonkette: “Cops Killed Elijah McClain, Busted Up Vigil In His Honor, Took Photos Mocking His Death”

    Last August, 23-year-old Elijah McClain was walking home from a convenience store — itself a dangerous activity for Black people — when Aurora, Colorado, police officers confronted him because a 911 caller claimed McClain looked “suspicious.” He was wearing a ski mask, which is not exclusively crime-related apparel. You can buy ski masks at Walmart not just at Thieves-R-Us. In McClain’s case, he suffered from anemia so was frequently cold.

    McClain wasn’t armed and hadn’t committed a crime, but within 15 minutes, the cops had tackled him to the ground and put him in a “carotid” hold that restricts blood flow to the brain (not recommended). Paramedics pumped him with a sedative even though he was handcuffed and kissing pavement. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was later pronounced brain dead. His ski-mask-wearing “crime” spree had ended.

    Like George Floyd almost a year later, McClain begged for his life to people professionally conditioned not to give a damn. It’s heartbreaking to anyone who didn’t trade in their heart for a badge.

    I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.

    McClain described himself as an “introvert,” and although there’s no evidence that McClain was on the autism spectrum, parents with children who are have expressed their horror at how the police treated someone who said multiple times that he was “different.” Here’s the important thing: The police don’t give a fuck, and they are trained not to give a fuck. They believe every “criminal” who claims they “can’t breathe” is just getting their Meryl Streep on … for reasons.

    From NPR:

    Someone picks up a body camera and McClain can be seen lying on his side with both hands restrained behind his back, and one officer jamming his knee on the man’s torso.

    When McClain attempts to roll over to vomit, they shout at him to “stop fighting us.”

    “If you keep messing around, I’m going to bring my dog out here and he’s going to bite you,” says an officer standing over McClain.

    McClain proceeds to vomit.

    “I can’t fix myself,” he says weakly.

    McClain’s body goes limp and he passes out.

    Eventually one officer asks, “Are you OK?”

    But he’s not asking McClain. He’s speaking to the officer on top of him.

    “Yeah, I’m good,” the officer says shifting his weight.

    It is painful to consider all these lonely deaths, where Black people either die or lose consciousness for the last time surrounded by stone-cold sociopaths. No mercy is every demonstrated. […]

    The Aurora Police Department later “found the three officers connected to McClain’s death had acted within acceptable policy and training.” That’s an easy ruling when police are trained to brutalize people and it’s official policy to gaslight citizens into thinking cold-blooded murder is an appropriate response to wearing ski masks before Labor Day.

    The police argued that McClain demonstrated “incredible, crazy strength.” There were at least four cops. McClain was 5 foot 6 and weighed 140 pounds. You shouldn’t believe anything these motherfuckers say. […]


    More at the link.

  182. says

    AP – “Trump allies take aim at his global media chief for firings”:

    Seven U.S. senators, including two strong allies of President Donald Trump, harshly criticized Trump’s new chief of U.S.-funded global media on Wednesday for firing the heads of several international broadcasters without consulting Congress. They expressed concern that the independent agency may become politicized.

    Led by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the group questioned the leadership of Michael Pack, Trump’s pick to head the Agency for Global Media, which runs the flagship U.S. broadcaster Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Cuba-focused Radio/TV Marti.

    Democrats have been outspoken in their concerns that Pack, a conservative filmmaker and associate of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, has been brought on board to turn VOA and the other outlets into a pro-Trump propaganda machine with little regard for the independence granted them by their founding charter. Wednesday’s letter was notable in that it was signed by the two powerful Trump allies who are particularly close to the president.

    In a scathing letter to Pack, the senators complained he had given lawmakers no reason for the purge of qualified leaders at RFE/RL, RFA, MBN and the Open Technology Fund, a non-broadcast arm of the agency that works to provide secure internet access to people around the world. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned just days before the firings, which also included the dismissal of each of their governing boards.

    “The termination of qualified expert staff and network heads for no specific reason as well as the removal of their boards raised questions about the preservation of these entities and their ability to implement their statutory missions now and in the future,” they wrote. “These actions, which came without any consultation with Congress, let alone notification, raise serious questions about the future of USAGM under your leadership.”

    Pack was bitterly opposed by Democrats but was confirmed to his position last month on a party line 53-38 vote in the Senate. Rubio, Graham and the other two Republicans who signed the letter, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Susan Collins of Maine, all voted for his confirmation. Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who opposed Pack’s confirmation, also signed.

    Pack has defended the moves as necessary to reform the agency, but Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans have taken issue with actions they fear could subvert its non-partisan mission. Conservatives have in particular assailed the firings of former Rubio staffer Jamie Fly as head of RFE/RL and former U.S. diplomat Alberto Fernandez as head of MBN.

    “We urge you to respect the unique independence that enable USAGM’s outlets and grantees to help cultivate a free and open world,” the wrote. “Given the bipartisan and bicameral concern with recent events, we intend to do a thorough review of USAGM’s funding to ensure that United States international broadcasting is not politicized and that the agency is able to fully and effectively carry out its core mission.”

  183. says

    Sleeping Giants:


    According to our count, there are now 530 ADVERTISERS who have joined the #StopHateForProfit campaign and will pause their advertising on Facebook platforms through at least July with 97 today alone!!!

    WHAT??? Unreal!

  184. says

    Update to #s 61 and 102 above – Rafał Trzaskowski tweeted:

    I appreciate the opportunity to speak to @BarackObama this evening about the importance of Polish democracy within the European Union and the significance of the U.S.-Polish alliance. The trust between our countries is a cornerstone of the transatlantic relationship.

  185. says

    From The Washington Post:

    […] Trump on Wednesday said painting “Black Lives Matter” on New York’s Fifth Avenue would be “a symbol of hate” and wind up “denigrating” the street outside Trump Tower, as he ratcheted up objections to a plan that he suggested the city’s police could stop.

    That last bit comes very close to inciting violence.

    […] White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany later defended Trump’s tweet, claiming that he was referring to the Black Lives Matter organization, not the cause. [bullshit]

    “All black lives do matter,” she said. “He agrees with that sentiment.”

    She pointed to remarks made by a man who describes himself as the president of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter chapter — “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it” — to justify Trump calling the organization a “symbol of hate.”

    But the man, Hawk Newsome, who Trump accused of treason last week, has no relationship with the official organization despite using the name for his own group.

    “Only BLM chapters who adhere to BLM’s principles and code of ethics are permitted to use the BLM name, said Kailee Scales, managing director of Black Lives Matter Global Network. “The reason for this is simple: unaffiliated uses of BLM’s name are confusing to people who may wrongly associate the unsanctioned group and its views and actions with BLM.”

    The movement against racial profiling and police violence has played a prominent role in demonstrations for which Trump has expressed disdain, despite his claims that he supports peaceful protests.

    In his Wednesday tweets, Trump decried a move by New York officials to shift about $1 billion from the city’s police budget in a bid to respond to calls to “defund the police” that resonated following the recent deaths of Floyd and other African Americans in police custody.

    “NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the @NYCMayor is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue,” Trump tweeted. “This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York. . . . Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!”

    Yep, that’s a thinly-veiled call for violence, perpetrated by police, from Trump.

    De Blasio responded on Twitter less than two hours later, writing that Trump does not understand that “Black people BUILT 5th Ave and so much of this nation” and highlighting that the tribute to the movement would be painted near Trump Tower, which houses Trump’s company and one of his homes.

    “Your ‘luxury’ came from THEIR labor, for which they have never been justly compensated,” de Blasio said. “We are honoring them. The fact that you see it as denigrating your street is the definition of racism.”

    De Blasio also took issue with Trump’s appeal to New York police, noting that “NY’s Finest are now a majority people of color.”

    “They already know Black Lives Matter,” de Blasio said. “There is no ‘symbol of hate’ here. Just a commitment to truth. Only in your mind could an affirmation of people’s value be a scary thing.”

    Trump also sought to sow division between de Blasio and the city’s police force last week […]


  186. says

    Trump Admin Scales Back Mandate That Health Insurers Cover COVID Tests

    As the pandemic worsens around the country, the Trump administration has moved to place limits on who insurers are required to cover COVID-19 tests for.

    The Trump administration made the move in a little-noticed guidance sheet released June 23 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    CMS said that insurers no longer have to cover COVID-19 testing when employers mandate a test before an employee can return to work, or when someone is tested as part of a public health surveillance program.

    The move comes as the Trump administration has failed to put the weight of the federal government behind scaling up widespread COVID-19 testing, handing that task to state and local governments with minimal contributions from the feds.

    Public health and insurance experts described CMS’ move to TPM as indicative of a bungled federal response to the pandemic — and, specifically, to providing testing capacity — leaving CMS to sort out questions of health insurance policy that are ill-suited to the public health needs of a national pandemic. […]

    Through two laws, Congress mandated at the start of the outbreak that health insurers would fully cover COVID-19 tests — with no copays.

    But the mandate came with no additional government support attached, requiring insurance companies to foot the bill for at least part of the national testing plan.

    Experts in responding to pandemics argue that testing should be free, to encourage widespread usage. […]

    Instead, the cost was shifted to insurers, with CMS issuing guidance that could be construed as limiting testing to a degree far narrower than Congress had in mind, according to Christen Linke Young, a fellow at the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.

    The Trump administration’s approach left CMS “in a difficult position,” but its new guidance was not consistent with the statute, Linke Young told TPM.

    “The statue says insurance companies have to pay, period — you can debate whether you think its good policy, but that’s the statute,” she added.

    CMS first issued guidance in April that limited insurance coverage of testing to tests that are “medically necessary” without further defining that term, and then issued updated guidance last week which walled off tests ordered by employers or pandemic surveillance tests from insurance coverage. […]

    It remains unclear on the employer side who would end up footing the bill for tests that companies require of their employees before returning to work. […]

    federal and state-sponsored free testing initiatives [are beginning] to recede […]

    Recipe for even more disaster than we already have.

    From comments posted by readers:

    I wonder if everyone who opposes a single-payer health insurance program is thrilled by yet another triumph of “market forces.”

  187. says

    Sorry – there’s more @ #302:

    2. More than 50 US mission employees in Saudi Arabia fell ill from the virus. A driver for top diplomats died. More than 20 people were quarantined after a birthday BBQ. The country’s hospitals are overwhelmed. Some mission employees want full evacuation.

    3. Saudi Arabia reports about 4,000 new cases daily. It’s one of the world’s fastest-growing caseloads & astounding given country’s population size. Yet the Saudis have ended lockdown. US did ordered departures from other Middle East missions months ago.

  188. tomh says

    Trump Campaign and R.N.C. Raised $131 Million in June, a New High
    By Shane Goldmacher
    July 1, 2020

    President Trump announced by far his biggest cash haul of the 2020 campaign in June, bringing in $131 million between his campaign and the Republican National Committee, showing that his money machine continues to hum even as he has slipped in the polls…

    The Trump campaign said that it now had $295 million in the bank, a formidable financial advantage entering the summer months, and that it had raised nearly $950 million over the last two years…

    Mr. Trump had a tumultuous month of June,…[snipped-his many problems]…None of that slowed the flow of money. Nor did multiple national polls showing Mr. Trump trailing by double digits, including a New York Times/Siena College survey that had Mr. Biden at 50 percent and Mr. Trump at 36 percent.

    Mr. Trump’s campaign said it had set a single-day record for online fund-raising on his birthday, collecting $14 million. The full $131 million sum came as Mr. Trump only held two fund-raising events for the month…

    Does anyone think he won’t leave office with a lot of that money stuffed in his pockets?

  189. says

    Guardian – “Revealed: legislators’ pro-pipeline letters ghostwritten by fossil fuel company”:

    This March, North Dakota’s governor, Doug Burgum, sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) emphatically supporting the North Bakken Expansion Project, a 61.9-mile natural gas pipeline that has angered environmentalists and Native American nations alike.

    Building pipelines, the 8 March letter stated, “ensures the long-term viability of our state’s oil and gas industry, preserves the quality of our environment, and allows our state’s producers to capitalize on this valuable commodity while supplying markets in need”.

    Yet Burgum’s letter omitted a key detail: it was based on a template provided by Justin Dever, a senior public affairs officer for MDU Resources.

    The line that claimed the pipeline would bolster both the oil and gas industry and “the quality of our environment”, was lifted verbatim from the template letter sent by Dever, email correspondence obtained through a public records request shows.

    The letter sent by Burgum was one part of a broader ghostwriting campaign that saw several key legislators send pro-pipeline support letters ghostwritten by officials of MDU Resources – a subsidiary of the fossil fuel giant WBI Energy – to key regulatory agencies.

    The records, obtained by the watchdog group the Energy Policy Institute and provided to the Guardian, show that three North Dakota state legislators and a Williams county, North Dakota, commissioner signed and mailed letters to Ferc and the US army corps of engineers that reproduced word-for-word letters sent to them by MDU Resources’ political strategists.

    Although the fossil fuel industry’s dominance of North Dakota politics is well-known, the records shed new light on the extent of the industry’s role in shaping what the public – and federal regulators – hear about these industries from supportive state and local officials.

    The North Bakken Expansion Project pipeline would deliver natural gas from Bakken shale production sites in western North Dakota to an interconnection point with the Northern Border pipeline, which extends from western Canada to a terminus near Hayden, Indiana, and is owned by TC Energy – best known as the builder of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

    Ferc is scheduled to rule on the project this coming November, with MDU Resources aiming to put it in operation by late 2021.

    Those politicians who reproduced an MDU Resources support letter verbatim include the North Dakota state senator Dale Patten and North Dakota house representatives Keith Kempenich and Denton Zubke, who collectively signed a letter to FERC on 20 February supplied by company lobbyist Cory Fong, a former North Dakota tax commissioner.

    In another indication of the revolving door in North Dakota politics, MDU Resources’ Dever – who supplied the template letter to Burgum – was previously an official with the North Dakota commerce department.

    Ted Auch, Great Lakes program coordinator of the health and safety watchdog organization FracTrack, says the ghostwriting of letters by a fracking company is the most egregious example of the industry’s dominance over a state government that he has ever encountered….

  190. says

    Doesn’t bode well!:

    JUST IN: More than 40 South Bay school principals are in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 during an in-person meeting to plan the reopening of schools.

    Some members of the school board questioned Superintendent Stella Kemp’s decision to hold an in-person meeting.

    “I know there may be some that question every decision we make but the reality is there is no road map for this pandemic,” Kemp said.

    SF Chronicle link atl.

  191. says

    tomh @ #305, it seems like there are (understandably, given everything going on) fewer articles this year about their corrupt campaign skimming, but all along they’ve been directing campaign cash to Trump’s family members, Parscale, Trump’s properties, Trump’s lawyers,… There must be a massive amount coming in from corporations and foreign regimes trying to get what they can before the bottom falls out. Trump is going to loot that campaign like there’s no tomorrow.

    Worth noting that Biden and the DNC are consistently raising more than Trump and the RNC. It’ll also be used more effectively because they’re more interested in winning than stealing or catering to the pathological whims of a delusional cult leader. Hard to even conceive of what a boondoggle the Jacksonville convention is shaping up to be, but I’m sure Trump is finding ways to personally profit from it.

  192. says

    Update to #206 above – Ted Boutrous last night: “Presiding Justice Scheinkman (Appellate Division) has lifted the TRO against Simon & Schuster restraining it from publishing Mary Trump’s book. The TRO remains in effect as to Ms. Trump, but we will be filing a brief in the trial court tomorrow explaining why it must be vacated.”

  193. says

    Julia Ioffe: “What galls me most about the spike in #Covid19 cases in the U.S. is that all the economic, psychological, physical pain we went through in the spring was all for naught. All our sacrifice was nullified by a handful of states who, like Trump, just hoped the virus would go away.”

  194. says

    Jim Sciutto at CNN – “Trump’s resistance led intel agencies to brief him less and less on Russia”:

    President Donald Trump’s resistance to intelligence warnings about Russia led his national security team, including those who delivered the President’s Daily Brief to brief him verbally less often on Russia-related threats to the US, multiple former Trump administration officials who briefed Trump, were present for briefings and who prepared documents for his intelligence briefings tell CNN.

    As the White House denies Trump was briefed about Russia placing bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan, which CNN has confirmed was included in the written PDB this spring, the question of what the President knew and when has moved to center stage. And it brings Trump’s aversion to hearing negative analysis about Russia into renewed focus.

    Multiple former administration officials I spoke to for my upcoming book, “The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World,” which will be published August 11 by Harper Collins, paint a picture of a President often unwilling to hear bad news about Russia.

    According to one former senior intelligence official, the President’s briefers had one simple rule with Trump: never lead with Russia.

    Early in his term, Trump’s briefers discovered that when his oral briefing included intelligence related to Russia’s malign activities against the United States, including evidence of its interference in US politics, Trump would often blow up at them, demanding to know why they kept focusing on Russia and often questioning the intelligence itself, multiple former administration officials said.

    “The President has created an environment that dissuades, if not prohibits, the mentioning of any intelligence that isn’t favorable to Russia,” a former senior member of Trump’s national security staff told me.

    In response, his briefers — who must make difficult judgment calls every day on which intelligence to highlight to the President — reduced the amount of Russian-related intelligence they included in his oral briefings, instead often placing it only in his written briefing book, a document that is provided daily and sometimes extended to several dozen pages containing the intelligence community’s most important information .

    But his briefers discovered over time that he often did not read the briefing book, leaving him unaware of crucial intelligence, including threats related to Russia and other parts of the world.

    The end result was the President now heard less, not more, about the threat posed by one of the nation’s most dangerous adversaries. Among his national security staff, this approach led to fears that the President was becoming less and less aware of the threat from Russia, even as the intelligence confirming the country’s misbehavior mounted.

    The President’s reluctance to hear intelligence about Russia fits into his growing disinterest in his intelligence briefings in general and may explain why the White House is currently denying that he was aware of intelligence about Russia offering the Taliban bounties to kill US soldiers — even though former intelligence officials say that it’s “inconceivable” that Trump would not have been briefed on the bounties, which the New York Times first reported Friday evening.

    The White House attempts to insulate the President from criticism over the deeply sensitive issue of military deaths — particularly less than five months before the election — come as Carl Bernstein reports for CNN that the President shows extraordinary deference to the Russian leader in phone calls, obsequiously courting Putin’s admiration and approval to the point that Trump sometimes “left top national security aides and his chiefs of staff flabbergasted.”

  195. says

    CNN – “A potentially deadly weather pattern is setting up across the central US”:

    Extreme temperatures coupled with high humidity flowing from the Gulf of Mexico have set the stage for life-threatening heat in parts of the central and southern US.

    Texas and Oklahoma are no strangers to excessive heat in the heart of summer and, a little over 10 days into the season, the region is bracing for stifling heat through the upcoming holiday weekend.

    Temperatures are set to feel hotter in Dallas than in Death Valley, California.

    Earlier in the week, parts of Texas registered the ultimate mark of oppressive warmth. Some cities including San Antonio, Lufkin and Victoria set records for hot low temperatures, with some failing to dip below 80 degrees even in the overnight hours.

    When little relief is found overnight, conditions lend themselves to dangerously hot temperatures the following day.

    The seriousness of excessive heat cannot be overstated. Although hurricanes and tornadoes gain the most notoriety in the world of weather, many are surprised to learn that it is heat that is the top weather killer.

    In fact, heat kills nearly twice as many Americans each year than tornadoes and almost three times more Americans than hurricanes.

    Heat advisories are in effect for over 22 million Americans from Missouri to Texas, including in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

    “Highs will push well into the 90s and above 100s in some areas,” CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said….

    The extreme heat also means more people will be indoors in air-conditioned spaces, which will lead to more virus spread.

  196. blf says

    Trump has ‘gone awol’ as president amid coronavirus pandemic, says ex-CIA director:

    Donald Trump has “essentially gone awol from the job of leadership that he should be providing a country in trouble” during the coronavirus pandemic, a former defence secretary and CIA director [Leon Panetta] said on Wednesday.


    “[… T]he president [sic], rather than bringing together some kind of national strategy to confront this crisis, simply resorts to tweeting about vandalism and other things to kind of divert attention from the crisis that’s there.”

    He added: “We have a president [sic] that is not willing to stand up and do what is necessary in order to lead this country during time of major crisis. I have never experienced a president who has avoided that responsibility.”

    [… Moe Vela, a Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to Biden at the White House, now] chief transparency officer of TransparentBusiness, added: “It could easily rank in the top one or two examples of the epitome of failed leadership in the history of our nation. You contrast this to an Abraham Lincoln and you can dramatically see the extreme ends of the spectrum of leadership.”


    A poll by Hart Research for the pressure group Protect Our Care found that even voters who approve of Trump’s handling of the economy care more about his botched response to the virus. Some 57% believe that Trump’s policies are increasing the chances that many more people will die from the coronavirus, while only 17% believe they decrease it.

    Overall, the survey found, 60% of voters disapprove of how Trump has handled the coronavirus and 57% believe the president is to blame for the deaths associated with it.

  197. says

    Politico – “Record cash floods Democrats, Black groups amid protests and pandemic”:

    Online donors poured a record $392 million into campaigns and causes via ActBlue in June, a sign of surging activism and political enthusiasm on the left that smashed the previous monthly high, from just before the 2018 election, by a whopping 50 percent.

    The eye-popping numbers on ActBlue, the favored digital fundraising platform for the Democratic Party as well as a growing host of left-leaning nonprofits, make for a startling split-screen next to Great Depression-level unemployment and spiking coronavirus cases across the country.

    But the left’s online giving surge is blunting one of President Donald Trump’s remaining advantages in the presidential election, as his poll numbers sink: his financial edge. Small-dollar donors are filling up Joe Biden’s campaign coffers, giving Democratic Senate and House candidates a financial cushion in many of the biggest 2020 elections, and pouring resources into newly emboldened civil rights organizations, which are scaling up rapidly amid rising support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

    ActBlue processed nearly $25 million in donations on the final day of June, as Biden and other Democratic candidates pushed their email lists to deliver a big end-of-quarter fundraising haul, according to the live fundraising ticker on ActBlue’s website. It would have been a record day for the service — but for an enormous surge of ActBlue donations in the first four days of June, over $115 million, at the height of the protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer.

    The money flowing through ActBlue has been a less visible piece of the summer of activism — but no less tangible, fueling everything from bail funds for protesters to think tanks promoting police reform, as well as Democratic political candidates….

  198. says

    Dan Pfeiffer at Crooked Media – “Donald Trump Has A Secret Plan to Win (Seriously)”:

    …When I’m trying to understand what a campaign is thinking, I always apply two maxims. First, follow the money. Tweets are free. Ads cost a lot of money. Campaigns only run ads that are backed by polling and data. Second, ads released with great fanfare are usually designed to shape media narratives, not to persuade voters. Therefore, the ads that campaigns want to fly under the radar tend to be the most suggestive of what they believe internally will have the greatest influence on the electorate.

    In the past week, the Trump campaign quietly began airing two ads that speak volumes about its plan to win. One ad running in the Philadelphia media market hits Biden for his role in passing the 1994 crime bill and says he “destroyed millions of Black lives.” The campaign is also airing a Spanish-language ad in multiple markets that falsely claims Biden is in cognitive decline and not up to being president. Notably neither of these ads mentions or shows Trump outside of the legally mandated disclaimer at the end. The Trump campaign isn’t trying to grow his support among Black and Latino voters—even they understand that is a fool’s errand. Instead they want to narrow margins among Black and Latino voters by diminishing Biden’s support in those communities. In other words, they want to diminish overall Black and Latino turnout to make it easier to win the election with only white voters. This strategy isn’t crazy. According to the New York Times/Sienna College polls of battleground states, Biden’s recent surge has come despite relative weakness among Black and Latino voters. Biden’s margin with Latino voters is the same as Hillary Clinton’s margin in the 2016 election and he is three points behind Clinton’s margin with Black voters. It would not surprise me if the Trump campaign targeted similar efforts at young voters in the coming weeks to exploit lingering resentment over the outcome of the primary. In a close race, reducing turnout among these groups by a point or two could be decisive.

    The second part of Trump’s plan is embedded in the Spanish language ad. The Trump campaign wants to convince some portion of the public that Biden is too old and confused to be president. Trump aides have been circling around this argument for months (with help near the end of the primary from elements of the left) which is why they are already including video footage of Biden misspeaking in ads that are putatively about other subjects, like China. Once again, the Trump campaign isn’t trying to increase Trump’s vote total, just shrink Biden’s. Trump’s failed response to the pandemic and the resulting economic recession, along with his generally erratic behavior in the face of a crisis, has driven a lot of voters who were skeptical of both candidates to support Biden. A smear campaign to paint Biden as cognitively unfit aims to push those voters towards a third party candidate, or, more likely, to give up and sit out the election.

    The fatal flaw in this part of the plan was evident earlier this week when Biden addressed reporters with more clarity and coherence than Trump has ever demonstrated. Likewise, his message to Black voters clashes badly with his more public messages like tweeting “LAW & ORDER” for no reason, or trying to increase housing discrimination in the suburbs. However, it is important to remember that the voters who will decide the election are ones that are paying the least attention to politics. These voters are unlikely to ever see much of Biden outside of the ads the campaigns pay to place on their televisions and their phones. As of right now at least, Trump and his allies have more money to buy more ads to paint this picture. The Trump campaign had clearly hoped to run against someone they could paint as radical socialist in thrall to Hollywood, the Squad, and ANTIFA. Biden has been so immune to this caricature that even Trump was recently forced to admit on Fox that Biden is not “radical.” Therefore the ancillary benefit of the cognitive decline strategy is to at least paint Biden as weak enough to be led by the elements of the party that the right loves to caricature.

    The final part of Trump’s strategy is to dip into the old Republican playbook and prevent as many people as possible from voting. He will benefit once again from tried and true tactics like voter ID laws, but the centerpiece of the strategy is an assault on mail voting….

    These suppression tactics are much more dangerous against the backdrop of a lethal virus that has spread fastest in urban areas that drive Democratic turnout. The prospect of waiting eight hours to vote and at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 could prove to be a powerful disincentive to anyone skeptical of politics.

    Trump spent last weekend tweeting racist videos while golfing during a pandemic, so I recognize that trying to find some strategic signal in the incredibly absurd noise emanating from him and his campaign probably seems silly. And if the pandemic persists, the economy craters further, and Trump continues to self-sabotage, maybe it will prove to be silly. But there is a real probability that the race will narrow. If that happens, these tactics backed by his endless resources and the abuse of his official powers to help his campaign could matter. That’s why we need to at least know what they are trying to accomplish and be prepared to respond.

  199. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Trump says jobs report proves US economy “roaring back”

    US president Donald Trump celebrated a government report showing the country gained 4.8m jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 11.1% last month, when states began allowing businesses to reopen from strict shutdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic.

    “Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back,” Trump said, rattling off different sectors that saw job gains according to the monthly report.

    “These are historic numbers.”

    The jobs numbers go through a few weeks ago, before the virus started rampaging across the country again. He called this rampant uncontrolled spread, with states re-closing businesses and beaches and ICUs at or over capacity, as “a few temporary hotspots.”

  200. blf says

    Legislators’ pro-pipeline letters ghostwritten by fossil fuel company:

    Letters by key legislators including North Dakota’s governor written by officials of MDU Resources, a subsidiary of WBI Energy

    This March, North Dakota’s governor, Doug Burgum, sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) emphatically supporting the North Bakken Expansion Project, a 61.9-mile natural gas pipeline that has angered environmentalists and Native American nations alike.

    Building pipelines, the 8 March letter stated, ensures the long-term viability of our state’s oil and gas industry, preserves the quality of our environment, and allows our state’s producers to capitalize on this valuable commodity while supplying markets in need.

    Yet Burgum’s letter omitted a key detail: it was based on a template provided by Justin Dever, a senior public affairs officer for MDU Resources.

    The line that claimed the pipeline would bolster both the oil and gas industry and the quality of our environment, was lifted verbatim from the template letter sent by Dever, email correspondence obtained through a public records request shows.

    The letter sent by Burgum was one part of a broader ghostwriting campaign that saw several key legislators send pro-pipeline support letters ghostwritten by officials of MDU Resources — a subsidiary of the fossil fuel giant WBI Energy — to key regulatory agencies.

    The records, obtained by the watchdog group the Energy Policy Institute […], show that three North Dakota state legislators and a Williams county, North Dakota, commissioner signed and mailed letters to Ferc and the US army corps of engineers that reproduced word-for-word letters sent to them by MDU Resources’ political strategists.


    Ferc is scheduled to rule on the project this coming November, with MDU Resources aiming to put it in operation by late 2021.


    In another indication of the revolving door in North Dakota politics, MDU Resources’ Dever — who supplied the template letter to Burgum — was previously an official with the North Dakota commerce department.

    Burgum’s office and Barry Ramburg, the Williams county commissioner who reproduced an MDU Resources letter, did not respond to requests for comment on this story. A spokesperson for MDU Resources wrote in a statement that they see nothing improper about public officials passing off letters written by the company as their own.


    Ted Auch, Great Lakes program coordinator of the health and safety watchdog organization FracTrack, says the ghostwriting of letters by a fracking company is the most egregious example of the industry’s dominance over a state government that he has ever encountered.

    “I’ve been doing a lot of pipeline work in the past eight years, and it’s common for the industry to engage in political subterfuge,” says Auch, whose organization published a visual study this month of fracking’s environmental impacts in North Dakota. “But this really takes the cake.”

    […] Executives for the oil and gas industry gave over $100,000 to Burgum’s 2016 election campaign, according to North Dakota secretary of state data.

  201. says

    Erica Orden, CNN:

    SDNY is having *in-person* press conference at noon “to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein.”

    It will be the first one for Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

  202. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Florida shattered records on Thursday when it reported over 10,000 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally.

    Outbreaks in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona have seen the United States break records and send cases rising at rates not seen since April.

    In June, Florida infections rose by 168% or over 95,000 new cases. The percent of tests coming back positive has skyrocketed to 15% from 4% at the end of May.

    Home to 21 million residents, Florida has reported more new daily coronavirus cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks.

    To contain the outbreak, the state has closed bars and some beaches but the governor has resisted requiring masks statewide in public or reimposing a lockdown.

    Only one other state has reported more than 10,000 new cases in a single day. New York recorded 12,847 new infections on 10 April, three weeks after the state implemented a strict lockdown that closed most businesses. While the state has relaxed many measures, it requires masks in public and mandates anyone arriving from 16 other US states with high infections self-quarantine for two weeks.

  203. says

    Update to #s 321 and 325 – Biden just made a solid statement responding to Trump’s criminally misleading statement about the job numbers, and it was covered live on MSNBC (at least).

    Biden: ‘There’s no victory to be celebrated. We’re still down nearly 15 million jobs, and the pandemic is getting worse, and not better’.”

  204. blf says

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

    Arizona congressman Andy Biggs wants to see the White House’s coronavirus task force disbanded. [From Melanie Zanona:]

    GOP @RepAndyBiggsAZ calls on the White House coronavirus task force to be disbanded so that President Trump’s message is not mitigated or distorted and says Dr Fauci & Dr Birx “continue to contradict”[] Trump’s goal of reopening the economy.

    Biggs — who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus — represents a district in Arizona, which has recently seen record-breaking spikes in coronavirus cases.


      † Correcting hair furor’s lunacy — contradicting his lies — is sensible, hence no eejit quotes despite being said by an eejit. An example of a stuck-clock-is-sometimes right?

  205. raven says

    CNN July 1, 2020
    Trump himself suggested in an interview Wednesday the virus may take care of itself.

    “I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear,” he said.

    I rarely pay much attention to what Trump says.
    It’s never anything worthwhile.

    This is however, delusional magical thinking even for him.
    The Covid-19 virus isn’t going to disappear.
    It is more likely to be with us forever as part of the background load of diseases we have to deal with.

    FWIW, he said the same thing in February.
    Since then, 130,000 Americans and 400,000 other people have died of Covid-19.

    PS Thanks a lot to everyone, mostly Lynna and SC for keeping this thread going.
    I look at it most days.

  206. says

    raven @335:

    PS Thanks a lot to everyone, mostly Lynna and SC for keeping this thread going.
    I look at it most days.

    Thanks for letting us know, raven. [smiles]

    You are right about Trump’s delusional thinking. He has repeated the idea that the coronavirus will disappear at least six times verbally, on camera. And he has posted the same idea on Twitter more times than I care to count. One of his first delusional pronouncements was, as you noted, back in February. He specified “April” as the month in which it would disappear.

    He is not doing his job … dereliction of duty. Worse yet, Trump is actively spreading the kind of disinformation that gets people killed. Trump’s followers have been harassing and threatening public health officers all over the USA.

    Thanks to Trump, more people in the red state in which I live are ignoring public health officials and CDC guidelines. They are certainly putting my life at risk.

  207. says

    Excerpts from a New York Times article which SC mentioned in comment 327. The article is by Mujib Mashal, Eric Schmitt, Najim Rahim and Rukmini Callimachi.

    He was a lowly drug smuggler, neighbors and relatives say, then ventured into contracting, seeking a slice of the billions of dollars the U.S.-led coalition was funneling into construction projects in Afghanistan.

    But he really began to show off his wealth in recent years, after establishing a base in Russia, though how he earned those riches remained mysterious. On his regular trips home to northern Afghanistan, he drove the latest model cars, protected by bodyguards, and his house was recently upgraded to a four-story villa.

    Now Rahmatullah Azizi stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington, named in American intelligence reports and confirmed by Afghan officials as a key middleman who for years handed out money from a Russian military intelligence unit to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting American troops in Afghanistan, according to American and Afghan officials.

    As security agencies connected the dots of the bounty scheme and narrowed in on him, they carried out sweeping raids to arrest dozens of his relatives and associates about six months ago, but discovered that Mr. Azizi had sneaked out of Afghanistan and was likely back in Russia. What they did find in one of his homes, in Kabul, was about half a million dollars in cash.

    American and Afghan officials have maintained for years that Russia was running clandestine operations to undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and aid the Taliban.

    But U.S. officials only recently concluded that a Russian spy agency was paying bounties for killing coalition troops, including Americans which the Kremlin and the Taliban have denied.

    So much for Pompeo claiming that the Russians have always done this. (See comment 286.)

    According to officials briefed on the matter, U.S. intelligence officials believe the program is run by Unit 29155, an arm of the Russian military intelligence agency known as the G.R.U. that has carried out assassinations and other operations overseas.

    That a conduit for the payments would be someone like Mr. Azizi — tied to the American reconstruction effort, enmeshed in the regional netherworld, but not prominent enough to attract outside attention — speaks to the depth of Russia’s reach into the increasingly complicated Afghan battlefield, exploiting a nexus of crime and terror […]

    the White House has insisted that the information was uncertain.

    Details of Mr. Azizi’s role in the bounty scheme were confirmed through a dozen interviews that included U.S. and Afghan officials aware of the intelligence and the raids that led to it; his neighbors and friends; and business associates of the middle men arrested on suspicion of involvement. All spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.

    U.S. intelligence reports named Mr. Azizi as a key middleman between the G.R.U. and militants linked to the Taliban who carried out the attacks. He was among those who collected the cash in Russia, which intelligence files described as multiple payments of “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Those files were among the materials provided to Congress this week.

    Through a layered and complex Hawala system — an informal way to transfer money — he delivered it to Afghanistan for the missions, the files say. The transfers were often sliced into smaller amounts that routed through several regional countries before arriving in Afghanistan, associates of the arrested businessmen said.

    Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets. […]

    NYT link

  208. says

    blf @322, so the pipeline/extractive-industries people do all the work for the North Dakota politicians … and then the pipeline people ice the toxic cake by giving the politicians $100,000. This is how Republican politicians learn how to avoid anything that looks like work; how they learn to ignore environmental considerations and the people they are supposed to serve; and how they learn to avoid good governance in general.

    This reminds me of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that puts mostly conservation legislators in the same room with industry lobbyists. The lobbyists write legislation for the politicians.

  209. says

    Seung Min Kim:

    Wow — Duckworth says she will block Senate approvals of **1,123** senior U.S. Armed Forces promotions until Esper “confirms in writing that he did not, or will not, block the expected and deserved promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to Colonel.”

    (As southpaw points out, this should be “and will not.”)

  210. says

    Herman Cain, a Trump surrogate, has been hospitalized for coronavirus. He was at Trump’s Tulsa rally on June 20th, but didn’t meet with Trump. CNN just showed pictures of him right in the middle of a bunch of people at the rally.

  211. KG says

    Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said this week, “There was intelligence reported on the allegation that the Russians were offering a bounty to the Taliban to kill Americans,” though there were dissenting views within the intelligence community. British officials were reportedly told the same thing. – Lynna, OM@286, quoting MSNBC

    As far as I’ve seen this bounty story has hardly been reported in the UK as it affects British troops and government, although Sky News had a report on 29th June. Certainly, Johnson has said nothing about it. A Tory MP, Tobias Elwood, who chairs the Commons Defence Select Committee, put down an “urgent question”, but despite the name, this will not necessarily be selected for a minister to answer – I don’t know who decides. Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter. Certainly, Johnson seems to have said nothing about it. Added to his refusal to publish a report on Russian political interference in the UK, one has to wonder if Putin has personal “compromat” on Johnson as well as on Trump.

  212. says

    SC @316, I concur with this reader’s comment: “So Trump’s retake on his empty answer was to give a longer empty answer.” Yep.

  213. says

    Re: #342
    I feel like this needs highlighting: He tweeted against masks after he tested positive and on the same day that he was hospitalized.

    Can we discuss what we’re going to do about the fact that some percentage of people seem to be deliberately trying to wreck human civilization? It’s not just stupidity. It doesn’t even seem to be greed. It looks to me like it’s just sadism. I’m not sure what can be done with people like that other than killing them.

  214. says

    Ignoring irony, McConnell warns Dems may ‘vandalize’ the Senate

    If he’s looking for those willing to “vandalize” the institution’s traditions, McConnell probably ought to look in the mirror.

    […] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell realizes his days running the chamber may not last much longer, and he’s aware of the discussion in Democratic circles about reforming how the institution works. It’s why the GOP leader is warning Dems to leave things exactly as they are. […]

    [Quoting text from The Hill]:

    McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, noted that some progressives want to expand or reform the Supreme Court and that Democrats, more broadly, are calling for Washington, D.C. to be the 51st state. “And to accomplish all this, destroying the Senate’s distinguishing feature that makes radical change hard by design. We have an entire political movement that is telling us literally out loud that they’ve lost patience with playing by the rules and may well declare war on the rulebook,” McConnell said. He added that Democrats were under pressure to “vandalize the rules to pass legislation with a simple majority.”

    I have a hunch McConnell knows how foolish this is, but I also have a hunch he assumes the public won’t know better, so let’s explore this in a little more detail.

    Broadly speaking, there are two angles to this. The first is McConnell’s suggestion that filibusters are the Senate’s “distinguishing feature.” That’s not even close to being true.

    For the better part of American history, the Senate operated as a majority-rule institution: if a proposal or a nomination enjoyed the support of most senators, the majority carried the day. The idea that the minority had the authority to demand supermajorities for every vote of any significance was absurd.

    At least, that is, until recent decades. Consider a chart based on data maintained by the Senate. [chart available at the link]

    Those talking about reforming how the institution conducts business aren’t recommending “radical change”; they’re exploring ways to restore what’s been lost.

    As the image suggests, the numbers started really spiking in 2007 — when a Kentucky lawmaker by the name of Mitch McConnell took over as the Republican Party’s Senate leader.

    All of which leads us to the second angle: there is no one in politics less credible on this subject than the current GOP leader.

    McConnell doesn’t believe in “playing by the rules”; he’s spent years twisting and manipulating those rules to the point that the Senate barely even tries to legislate anymore. […]

    The GOP’s Senate leader has taken every possible opportunity to maximize his party’s interests, using the levers of power at his disposal, and ignoring any sense of norms or institutional limits. If you’re a loyal Republican partisan, that’s to be applauded. If you’re not, McConnell’s tactics have been disastrous.

    But through it all, abusing filibuster rules, creating a 60-vote “norm” that didn’t exist, has been McConnell’s weapon of choice. It’s why he’s afraid to see it disappear. It’s also why he’s pretending those who want to see the Senate function the way it used to, and not McConnell and his cohorts, are the real “vandals.”

  215. blf says

    KG@348, The Grauniad has had an article or two which, judging solely by the titles (as I recall), did cover the UK angle. As I don’t recall reading any of those articles, I can neither confirm nor deny the UK angle was covered, or to what degree.

  216. says

    LykeX @351, I see that as an example of stupidity and willful ignorance married to incompetence. There is also a religious/cult flavor to that kind of impenetrable stupidity. Nevertheless, on this thread we do not threaten to kill anyone, even in jest. We do not incite violence against other human beings, no matter who they are. Don’t post stuff like this on this thread: “I’m not sure what can be done with people like that other than killing them.” I will ask PZ to ban you if you continue in that vein.

    There is no cure. Electing leaders who can mitigate the stupidity is the only semi-cure.

    In the latest polls, Biden holds a narrow lead over Trump in Texas. That’s the way the wind is blowing.

    In other news, Trump is threatening to veto military funding over the issue of Confederate names for some military bases. Trump has publicly threatened to veto a massive military bill in order to protect the names of Confederate generals. Dems are daring him to follow through.

    For many years, several U.S. military bases and installations have been named after Confederate military leaders — which is tough to defend given the fact that they took up arms against the United States. With this in mind, U.S. Army leaders recently opened the door to renaming the facilities after Americans.

    Donald Trump tried to slam that door shut last month, insisting he would “not even consider” renaming military bases that honor Confederate leaders. The president added that naming the bases after Confederates reflects “a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom” — suggesting he may not understand the Civil War as well he as probably should. [JFC]

    Congress proceeded to ignore Trump’s posturing and added a provision to a massive defense spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would rename the bases over the course of the next three years. In a rare display of bipartisanship on a hot-button issue, the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee agreed to the change last month.

    All of which led the president to go out on a risky limb.

    […] Trump threatened … to veto a national defense bill the Senate is considering if an amendment from Sen. Elizabeth Warren to rename military bases honoring the Confederacy is not removed. […]

    Because the president remains unfamiliar with how the legislative process works, and because he’s quick to make threats without a plan for success, Trump probably doesn’t know that it would take 60 votes in the Senate to remove the provision of the pending NDAA that he doesn’t like. What are the odds that 60 senators will scrap the measure just to satisfy the White House? Roughly zero.

    […] Senate Republicans are planning to continue with the existing bill, working from the assumption that the president is bluffing. […]
    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday went so far as to literally dare the president to follow through on his own posturing.

    But wouldn’t a presidential veto risk hurting the military? Probably not: Trump’s veto would probably be overridden by Congress. Even Senate Republicans don’t see much value in having this fight.

    What’s extraordinary is how Trump left himself in this position for no reason. If he keeps his commitment and vetoes the NDAA in order to champion the names of Confederate generals, the president will look ridiculous. If he retreats, Trump will look weak and feckless, making a very public threat before backing down.

    A strategic mastermind he isn’t.


  217. says

    The Democrats in the House of Congress continue to do their job.

    Checking items off their to-do list, Dems pass infrastructure plan

    House Democrats entered this Congress with an ambitious agenda. They’ve done surprisingly well checking off items on their lengthy to-do list.

    House Democrats promised to pursue a serious infrastructure plan in this Congress, and they apparently meant it. As the Associated Press reported yesterday, the “Moving Forward Act” is an ambitious package that focuses on environmentally-sound transportation, but also includes federal investments in schools, health care facilities, public utilities, and affordable housing.

    And though it didn’t generate major headlines, it cleared the lower chamber yesterday afternoon.

    The Democratic-controlled House approved a $1.5 trillion plan Wednesday to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into projects to fix roads and bridges, upgrade transit systems, expand interstate railways and dredge harbors, ports and channels. The bill also authorizes more than $100 billion to expand internet access for rural and low-income communities and $25 billion to modernize the U.S. Postal Service’s infrastructure and operations, including a fleet of electric vehicles.

    […] The bill now heads to the Republican-led Senate, where it will meet the same fate as nearly every major piece of legislation from this Congress: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will ignore it, allowing it to gather dust alongside dozens of other measures.

    Nevertheless, yesterday’s vote was a breakthrough of sorts for House Democrats. As regular readers know, in every Congress, the House majority leadership, regardless of which party is in control, sets aside the first 10 available bill numbers. It’s intended as a symbolic way to signal a party’s top legislative priorities: H.R. 1 through H.R. 10 will reflect the leadership’s most important goals.

    So far in this Congress, the House Democratic majority has passed its democracy-reform package (H.R. 1), its infrastructure package (H.R. 2), the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), the Equality Act to expand civil rights to LGBTQ Americans (H.R. 5), the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), the Paycheck Fairness Act to address pay disparities between men and women (H.R. 7), a bill to expand background checks on gun purchases (H.R. 8), and a bill to address the climate crisis (H.R. 9).

    As legislative track records go, that’s pretty impressive.

    […] Trump continues to obsessively refer to his opposition as “Do-Nothing Democrats,” reality notwithstanding. […]

  218. says

    Yahoo – “As coronavirus surges, Fox News shifts its message on masks”:

    When Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this week on Fox News that Americans needed to wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, anchor Sandra Smith did not challenge him on the science. Or the policy. She did not accuse him of fearmongering, or working to undermine President Trump.

    “For the most part, we do see a lot of people that are willing to engage in that good behavior,” Smith said instead during the notably vitriol-free Thursday afternoon interview.

    The interview followed an op-ed that the Obama-era public health expert published on the Fox News website. “The more we fight among ourselves, the more the virus divides and conquers us,” Frieden wrote, alluding to the political and cultural battles that have shadowed the medical one, against a deadly pathogen. “The more people wear masks when near others, the less opportunity the virus has to spread.”

    Another headline on the Fox News website earlier this week posed a question laced with obvious skepticism: “Wasn’t summer supposed to kill the coronavirus?”…

    It was a remarkable turn for a news organization whose most prominent personalities have been among Trump’s most trusted advisers. However haltingly and incompletely, the president’s favorite news outlet has started to acknowledge, across various programs and its news site, that the coronavirus is a far graver threat than even Trump himself will acknowledge.

    That has sometimes put Fox News at odds with the man many say it helped install in the White House….

    In other ways, too, the network appears to be backing away from certain controversial coronavirus positions.

    On May 12, for example, an article on its website announced that Alex Berenson, an independent journalist and former New York Times reporter who has garnered significant attention for his skeptical views on the threat of the coronavirus, would be hosting an internet-based program called “COVID Contrarian,” in which he would presumably dispute conventional wisdom on the pandemic.

    Berenson’s profile photograph on Twitter shows a face mask defiantly pulled down over his chin.

    Just how many episodes of “COVID Contrarian” were supposed to run remains unclear, though both the May 12 article and an on-air introduction from Carlson made it seem like the program would be a regular feature on a streaming platform called Fox Nation. The landing page for the program, however, has been scrubbed and shows only an error message: “Looks like you found a page with nothing on it.”…

    More atl.

    Neil Cavuto just interviewed Andy Biggs (see #334 above), and now the Trumpers are going after Cavuto (Juanita Broaddrick tweeted: “That smirking, arrogant pig, Cavuto, would not even let you finishing answering one question before attacking you. I don’t know how on earth you stayed as civil as you did.”). I want to know who these doctors are with whom Biggs is allegedly speaking on a regular basis and what they’re allegedly telling him. Are they ER physicians treating COVID patients in his district? Why doesn’t he ask them to speak publicly? Smug, lying Trump-clone.

  219. says

    Is the Republican Nat’l Convention still coming to Jacksonville? @VP Mike Pence is asked. He won’t answer. He’s next asked if numbers remain the same is it safe to go? He says he still excited about it but won’t commit; people need to ‘take ownership for their own behavior.'”

    In a related report from the Guardian liveblog:

    UK prime minister Boris Johnson will urge the public not to overdo it when pubs and restaurants reopen in a warning that the health of the economy “is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly”.

    He will lead a press conference ahead of the easing of the lockdown in England on Saturday.

    Johnson is expected to urge people to act safely or run the risk of the Government “putting on the brakes” and bringing back severe restrictions, as has been witnessed in Leicester.

    He is expected to paint the easing in England as a means of supporting the livelihoods of bosses and their employees but warn “we are not out of the woods yet”.

    “They are our local restaurants, hairdressers, libraries, museums, cinemas, and yes, pubs. They are also hotels, B&Bs, indeed much of our tourism industry,” he will say, according to an extract released to the media.

    “All these businesses and their workers have put in a heroic effort to prepare their venues for this reopening, to work out a way to trade in a way that keeps their customers safe.

    “But the success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly. We must not let them down.

    “The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that. If it starts running out of control again the Government will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions.

    “Anyone who flouts social distancing and Covid-secure rules is not only putting us all at risk but letting down those businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare for this new normal.”

    Asked if Mr Johnson would be visiting a pub or restaurant on Saturday, Johnson’s spokesman said: “He’s talked about his enthusiasm for a haircut and pint previously but I don’t know exactly what he’s doing on Saturday yet.”

    These fuckers.

  220. says

    Gabe Sherman in Vanity Fair – “‘What Do I Do? What Do I Do?’: Trump Desperate, Despondent as Numbers Crater, ‘Loser’ Label Looms”:

    With Donald Trump’s approval sinking to Jimmy Carter levels and coronavirus cases spiking across the country, Trump is reluctantly waking up to the grim reality that, if the current situation holds, his reelection is gone. Republicans that have spoken with Trump in recent days describe him as depressed and “down in the dumps.” “People around him think his heart’s not in it,” a Republican close to the White House said. Torn between the imperative to win suburban voters and his instincts to play to his base, Trump has complained to people that he’s in a political box with no obvious way out. According to the Republican, Trump called Tucker Carlson late last week and said, “what do I do? What do I do?”

    To console himself, Trump still has moments of magical thinking. “He says the polls are all fake,” a Republican in touch with Trump told me. But the bad news keeps coming. This week, Jacksonville, Florida—where Trump moved the Republican National Convention so he could hold a 15,000-person rally next month—mandated that people wear masks indoors to slow the explosion of COVID-19 cases. According to a Republican working on the convention, the campaign is now preparing to cancel the event so that Trump doesn’t suffer another Tulsa–like humiliation. “They probably won’t have it,” the source said. “It’s not going to be the soft landing Trump wanted.”

    Trump remains furious at his son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom he blames for the campaign’s dismal poll numbers. Axios reported this week that Trump complained privately that Kushner’s advice on criminal-justice reform damaged Trump politically. But because Kushner is family, sources say it’s unlikely that Trump will formally strip him of authority.

    Kushner’s vast sway over West Wing decisions has become a flashpoint between him and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, sources say….

    Nervous Republicans worried about losing the Senate are now debating when to break from Trump. Trump campaign internal polls show Trump’s level of “strong support” dropping from 21 to 17 points since last week, a person briefed on the numbers said. A source close to Iowa Republican Joni Ernst’s campaign said Ernst advisers are upset that a solid seat is now in play…. A Republican strategist close to Mitch McConnell told me that Republicans have Labor Day penciled in as the deadline for Trump to have turned things around. After that, he’s on his own.

    Love how they think they can get distance from him like six weeks from the election.

  221. blf says

    SC@365, “Love how [teh thugs] think they can get distance from [hair furor] like six weeks from the election.”

    We need to encourage their magical “thinking”. E.g., point out to them hair furor’s “October surprise”, a Covid-19 vaccine, will quickly clear up the pandemic, make the economy skyrocket, and make all those pesky protestors and politicians who stopped supporting him look like fools as his wins with 114% of the vote. And point out to hair furor a personal loyalty oath by the party’s politicians to him would be excellent policy, something Putin would be proud of. A grand parade of senators swearing to support him at the convention would a great spectacle, the HUGHEREST EVAR!!1!

    The idea, of course, is for them to not only not dump him, but to also make it more obvious they very much support him, helping to make it easier to get rid of the whole lot in one giant shove overboard at the election. Otherwise, there will be a lot of rats swimming in the sea beforehand, and some of them might sneak back on board.

  222. blf says

    The exceptions would seem to undercut this exceptionally late order (that damned horse from the barn has made it to the moon by now… and it walked there), Texas governor orders residents to wear face masks as coronavirus cases surge:

    Republican Greg Abbott had previously said government could not order people to wear masks

    The governor of Texas has ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, in a dramatic ramping up of efforts to control a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

    The move marks a major reversal for Republican Greg Abbott, who had pushed Texas’s aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, and had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements.

    But faced with rising numbers of newly confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus and a wave of hospitalizations, Abbott changed course with Thursday’s mask order. It requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive Covid-19 cases, with few exceptions”.


    The mask order takes effect Friday. Mask order violators can be fined up to $250. There are exceptions for people who have a medical condition or disability, who are exercising outdoors, or who are participating in a religious service or voting. […]

    I.e., the covidathrons at magic sky faerie mystical mass gatherings still don’t need masks (not to mention still happening, not always with appropriate social distancing); nor do I see the point the the voting exception. The outdoor exercise exception is too easy to abuse.

    Abbott also gave mayors and county authorities the ability to ban outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.

    In his order and a statement, Abbott said wearing a mask was a proven method to slowing down the virus’ spread and said if Texans comply “more extreme measures may be avoided”.


    The move was applauded by the Texas Medical Association. “There is no question about it, face masks reduce the spread of Covid-19,” said the association’s president, Dr Diana L Fite.


  223. blf says

    Delusional… from the Grauniad’s current live States poitical nuttery blog with added pandemic:

    GOP strategists: Tucker Carlson could run for president in 2024

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s repeated racist comments have prompted major advertisers […] to pledge that they will no longer advertise on his show.

    Meanwhile, high-profile Republicans are publicly speculating that Carlson could run for president in 2024, as the next-generation leader of Donald Trump’s movement.

    Politico interviewed 16 prominent Republicans who gushed about Carlson as a formidable presidential candidate. Business Insider reported that conservative donors are taking the idea seriously.

    From memory, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) will be eligible to run in 2024.

  224. blf says

    Brazil’s new education minister resigns amid scrutiny over qualifications:

    Brazil’s latest pick for education minister has been forced to resign after just five days following reports that he repeatedly lied about his qualifications […].

    Carlos Decotelli, an economist and former navy man, stepped down yesterday after Brazil’s Getúlio Vargas Foundation business school publicly refuted his claims he had worked there as a teacher.

    It proved to be the final straw for [far-right president Jair] Bolsonaro, after the same school had accused Decotelli of plagiarism on his master’s dissertation, and an Argentinian and a German university disproved that he had completed a PhD and a postdoctorate.

    In an interview with CNN Brasil, Decotelli attributed his resignation to fake facts divulged by the school.

    Decotelli’s appointment had apparently pleased Bolsonaro’s military allies. But the UOL news site reported that he even exaggerated about the length and prestige of his naval career. His resignation was widely ridiculed on social media.

    “Will Decotelli put on his curriculum that he was education minister?” Matheus Leone, a political scientist, questioned in a tweet.


    Other users questioned why Decotelli — who would have been Bolsonaro’s first black minister — was forced out while other prominent white ministers alleged to have lied about their qualifications remained in government.

    His resignation comes a fortnight after the former education minister Abraham Weintraub, the target of investigations for racism and online defamatory attacks, quit and flew to Miami, which many saw as a move to avoid charges in Brazil.

    “Despite everything, I found Decotelli’s term better than Weintraub’s,” tweeted JP Gadêlha, a reality TV star.

    A court is investigating how Weintraub, commonly described as “Brazil’s worst-ever minister” by critics, managed to enter the country and circumvent Covid-19 quarantine restrictions.


  225. says

    SCOOP: Secret Service agents preparing for Pence Arizona trip contracted coronavirus

    The official said the Secret Service estimated that a total of eight to 10 agents and other officers from sister agencies — all of whom were helping prepare for Pence’s visit to Arizona — had fallen ill.”

    WaPo link atl.

  226. says

    Leah Litman: “For those who said @ProfMMurray @kateashaw1 and I were too ‘pessimistic’ about the Chief Justice’s reasoning in June Medical and suggested his standard might be better for abortion rights, today #SCOTUS asked CA7 to rethink 2 WINS for abortion rights in light of June Medical…”

    More atl.

  227. says

    Look at this Trump communication.

    This is supposed to be a political campaign, but we’re fully at the stage of the cult where the cult leader expects constant demonstrations of loyalty and commitment from followers: public displays of adulation, unquestioning propaganda, opposition to the people and institutions attempting to hold him to account, attacks on critics and the media, rationalizations and excuses for his irrational and harmful acts, and of course financial contributions.

    It goes in one direction – toward Trump. Astonishing to see a US presidential campaign take this form.

  228. KG says


    Thanks, I must have missed those. Somewhat distracted lately as I’ve been applying for then starting a new, Covid-19 related, job.

  229. blf says

    Two snippets from What we’re learning about coronavirus as cases surge after US states reopen:

    Do you think states are going to have to go back into full-on lockdowns?
    Saskia Popescu, epidemiologist with George Mason University and University of Arizona: People view it as a dichotomy — you’re either open or closed. Right now is a really good time to focus on communicating risk and harm reduction; you can still run errands or see a friend or two and do it safely.


    David Rubin, director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania: […] Dr Fauci’s warning about the potential for 100,000 new cases a day was conservative.

  230. blf says

    An opinion column in the Grauniad, The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys (slightly redacted due to poopyhead’s filter):

    New studies show that men are worried masks are not masculine. Are masks becoming the ‘condoms of the face’?

    Last week, our social media feeds were flooded by the image of Dr Anthony Fauci […] telling US senators that the country was “going in the wrong direction”. The image had a vivid, layered power. Not only did it feel like a national death knell, but Fauci’s appearance — in an imperial-red face mask emblazoned with the insignia of baseball’s Washington Nationals — seemed to signal another culture war. Fauci was making a comment about how to maintain one’s masculinity while wearing a face mask.

    Fauci apparently isn’t the only one anxious about face masks impeding his masculinity. The shock jock Joe Rogan, known for his massive following of male listeners, recently suggested that only [b-word] wear masks. Donald Trump Jr was photographed at a packed party in the Hamptons […] conspicuously sans mask.

    It seems that in certain circles, wearing a mask has been conflated with the kind of archaic, knuckle-dragging rhetoric that casts wearing pink or having a cat on a dating app as effeminate. […] Can masculinity be so glacially unmovable and paper-thin fragile?

    Apparently, yes — which is unfortunate, because the danger from Covid-19 remains very, very real. This week Scientific American called masks the “condoms of the face”, arguing that the struggle to get men to wear masks during this pandemic has parallels in the struggle to get men to wear condoms during the rise of HIV. While it seems strange to compare something you’d wear so visibly in public to something worn privately in intimate moments, the analogy underscores how some men’s notions of masculinity are intertwined with a corrosive mix of petulance, indestructibility and, ultimately, privilege. The article cited research showing that “masculine ideology” is associated with rejection of condom use.

    Similar research by Middlesex University and the Mathematical Science Research Institute in Berkeley has found that men are less likely than women to wear face masks because they view the masks as embarrassing. According to the study, men are more likely than women to agree with the idea that wearing a mask is “shameful, not cool, a sign of weakness and a stigma”. […]

    [… T]the truth is that mask-wearing shouldn’t have to be complicated. It should just be common sense.

    Who’s with me?

  231. blf says

    Online privacy experts sound alarm as US Senate bill sparks surveillance fears:

    The Earn It Act, described as an effort to address sexual exploitation, could threaten encryption practices, opponents say

    A US Senate bill that critics say would enable widespread censorship and surveillance has taken a significant step towards becoming law, raising alarm among internet freedom advocates.

    The Senate judiciary committee voted on Thursday to advance the Earn It Act, legislation that on paper is intended to address sexual exploitation. However, privacy experts say the act would give the Department of Justice unprecedented power over the internet and potentially threaten the privacy of messages sent online.

    The Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology (Earn It) Act was introduced in March by the South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham [so you know the bill is stooopid –blf], Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein [so you know the bill assumes intelligence agencies cannot make mistakes or abuse their abilities –blf] of California to address what lawmakers characterized as “the rapid increase of child sexual abuse material on prominent online platforms”.

    The bill would weaken protections under Section 230, a measure that has historically shielded internet publishers from legal responsibility for the content shared on their sites. It would also allow individuals to sue tech companies that don’t take “proper steps” to prevent online child exploitation. Those steps would be determined by a 19-member panel of unelected officials, mostly law enforcement, who would impose a set of best practices that websites and online forums would have to follow, or risk getting shut down.

    [… P]rivacy advocates are concerned its powers could overreach and pose a threat to encryption […].

    If technology companies are to be held liable for content on their sites, the privacy advocates say, they could be required to scan all user messages, requiring a weakening of encryption practices.

    “The Earn It Act could end user privacy as we know it,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Tech companies that provide private, encrypted messaging could have to rewrite their software to allow police special access to their users’ messages.”

    [… T]he Earn It Act would “undermine the privacy of every single American and stifle our ability to communicate freely online”, the ACLU said in a letter urging senators to vote no on the bill.

    Advocates fear the commission created by the Earn It act would recommend of best practices required by tech companies that disproportionately censor content relating to LGBTQ+ matters, sex work, and the sex industry. [and since there’s no way of knowing if an encrypted whatever has anything to do with child porn, everything has to be decryptable, so whilst there is no a priori limitation on what is censored or forwarded to the policegoons… in principle this includes your on-line credit card details & purchases, whether it be cheese or a sex toy –blf]

    “Our online freedoms are now in serious jeopardy,” said Kate Ruane, ACLU senior legislative counsel, in response to the Senate judiciary committee’s vote.


  232. says

    SC @374, this is from the comments at that link:

    Jesus, they reworked the Nigerian prince scheme to guilt gullible people out of their money.

    SC @370, more proof that Pence and Trump are actively spreading coronavirus around.

    blf @368, so Republicans are looking for the next generation of racists to carry Trump’s torch. I don’t think this is what some conservatives had in mind when they suggested that the Republican party needs to be reformed and rebooted.

    blf @367:

    I.e., the covidathrons at magic sky faerie mystical mass gatherings still don’t need masks (not to mention still happening, not always with appropriate social distancing); nor do I see the point the the voting exception. The outdoor exercise exception is too easy to abuse.

    Agreed. There should be no exceptions for religious/church gatherings. The rule should be that when you leave your house, you wear a mask. You can’t give people leeway to make mistakes if you are trying to slow down the spread of an infectious virus.

  233. says

    Last night, Rachel Maddow made the point that in the USA, there is still no real testing plan. The Trump administration failed at that. Link

    And, she made the point that history is unfortunately repeating itself as the Trump administration fails to fix the PPE shortage crisis … again. Link

    This is so frustrating. We know how to fix the problems, but Trump gets in the way every time.

  234. says

    Vox – “The Supreme Court just handed down some truly awful news for voting rights”:

    The Supreme Court handed down two brief, unsigned orders on Friday concerning what restrictions states may place on absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Though neither order is a final judgment — one grants a temporary stay of a lower court decision, the other denies expedited review of an important voting rights case — the practical impact of both orders is that voters in Alabama and Texas will find it harder to cast a ballot during the pandemic.

    The Texas order is particularly ominous because it suggests that Texas will be able to apply election rules that ensure that older, Republican-leaning voters have an easy time casting a ballot — while younger voters could be forced to risk infection in order to vote….

    More about both cases and orders atl.

  235. says

    “Mary Trump Says Family Settlement Agreement Based On ‘Fraudulent’ Valuations”


    […] Trump’s niece told a state court Thursday that she never believed a settlement agreement she’d signed over her grandfather’s will would preclude her from writing about Trump.

    What’s more, Mary Trump argued in an affidavit, a restraining order on her should be lifted because the settlement agreement was based on “fraudulent” assessments of the Trump family’s wealth.

    The affidavit from Trump came a day after a state appeals court allowed her publisher to distribute the upcoming book about her uncle, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

    After that court lifted the restraining order against Simon & Schuster on Wednesday, Mary Trump’s lawyer Ted Boutrous said he would seek the same outcome for Ms. Trump herself — “based on the First Amendment and basic contract law.”

    […] Mary Trump said, the asset valuations provided to her in connection with the settlement agreement have been revealed to be “fraudulent.” She pointed to the New York Times’ award-winning investigation on Donald Trump’s use of tax dodges to build his wealth. (Mary Trump herself was “critical” in helping the Times put the investigation together, the Daily Beast reported last month.)

    “Indeed, the Settlement Agreement is unenforceable and void because Plaintiff and his siblings (including Donald Trump, the president of the United States) fraudulently induced Ms. Trump to enter into it based on false valuations that were revealed by the New York Times,” Boutrous said in a separate legal memo Thursday.

    As of Wednesday, Simon & Schuster is free to publish Mary Trump’s book as planned. A state appeals court judge ruled that the publisher was not a party to the settlement agreement, and therefore could not be controlled by the restraining order a lower court had placed on her.

    Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp has said thousands of copies of the book have already been shipped.

  236. says

    “White Michigan Couple Charged After Pulling Gun On Black Family”


    […] Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, were arrested after Wednesday night’s confrontation and charged Thursday with felonious assault […] They were later arraigned and are free on a $50,000 personal bond, […] As a condition of the bond they must turn over all firearms, not engage in “assaultive behavior” and not leave Michigan […]

    Cellphone video captured the confrontation outside a Chipotle in Orion Township, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

    Jillian Wuestenberg can be seen outside her vehicle shouting, “Get the (expletive) away! Get away!” while pointing a handgun. She eventually gets back in her vehicle, which her husband drives away. […]

    The Detroit News first reported on the three-minute video posted online that shows part of the interaction. Takelia Hill, who is Black, told the newspaper that it happened after the white woman bumped into Hill’s teenage daughter as they were entering the fast food restaurant.

    The video footage starts after that, in the parking lot. A woman since identified as Jillian Wuestenberg is heard arguing with Hill and her daughters. Wuestenberg climbs into the vehicle, rolls down the window and says, “White people aren’t racist,” and, “I care about you,” before the vehicle she was in starts to back away.

    Her husband, who had led his wife to the vehicle, turns to the camera and asks, “Who … do you think you guys are?” using an expletive.

    Then, as someone is behind the vehicle, Jillian Wuestenberg jumps out and points a handgun in the direction of a person who’s recording. She screams at people to get away from her and her vehicle. A woman shouts, “She’s got a gun on me!” and urges someone in the parking lot to call the police. […]

    After the video surfaced, Eric Wuestenberg was fired from his job at Oakland University near Detroit, a spokesman said. He worked as a veterans support services coordinator, according to a university website.

    “We have seen the video and we deem his behavior unacceptable,” the university said in an emailed statement. “The employee has been notified that his employment has been terminated by the university.”

    Democratic U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin said in a statement that Eric Wuestenberg also had participated in one of her voluntary advisory boards, on veterans’ issues. She said the conduct she saw in the video “is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior” and that she removed him from the advisory board Thursday.

    “I care about you,” but I will point my loaded weapon at you at the drop of a hat.

  237. says

    From Laura Clawson:

    Most of Donald Trump’s supporters don’t think they’re racists. They don’t think Trump is racist, despite his well-documented, decades-long history of racism. And that’s the thing: Too many white Americans have defined racism down to the point where an active KKK member might not make the cut.

    The Washington Post’s Robert Klemko talked to Trump supporters outside his Tulsa rally last month, looking at Black Lives Matter protesters, and found a series of cases in point—people claiming not to be racist while telling the children and grandchildren accompanying them things about race and anti-racist protest that would not be out of place in a “how to raise a racist” manual.

    Racial colorblindness was big with the Trump supporters […] here’s a great example of how flawed that ideology is, coming from a man who said of protesters that “I don’t think they even understand what they want.” Why doesn’t he think protesters know what they want? “Because black lives do matter. Every life matters. I have lots of white friends and black friends. I’m out in the oil field. We don’t see color. You either work, pull your weight, or you go home. There’s no color.”

    That’s it in a nutshell: “I don’t see color” and “all lives matter” come from the same place. It’s a place of refusal to acknowledge that the system doesn’t operate exactly the same for everyone […]

    […] The protesters’ behavior was peaceful, but that wasn’t enough. Speech that made this woman uncomfortable was quickly filed under the category of violence. […]

    Another man, there with his granddaughter, watched a white man jump out of a truck and pepper-spray Black protesters, then said “I’ll just tell her it’s wrong the way they’re doing things.” As in, the protesters, not the guy with the pepper spray. “Violence is not the answer; it’s not the way we grew up learning about the history of our country.” Again, the violence he thought he saw came from the protesters, not from the guy with the pepper spray.

    But this father may have taken the cake. Jeff Brown was outside the Trump rally selling flags such as “an Oklahoma flag with the Osage Nation buffalo-skin shield mashed up with the Confederate battle flag” or saying “Trump 2020: Make Liberals Cry Again.” His view of the Confederate flag? He used to think it represented slavery, but “I have since learned a lot of other variations of the history,” so “I think that it’s allowed for people to have their own interpretations from their family and their experience.” […]

    ”Joshua’s [his son is] going to have to form his own opinions,” Brown said. “In our family, we use our brains.” We can take issue with the idea that any brain use has been involved in moving from the historically accurate view that the Confederate flag represents slavery to concluding that hey, reasonable minds can disagree about whether the flag of a nation formed to defend slavery […] But the idea that Brown wants his son to form his own opinions is even more questionable here. Joshua is home-schooled. What about keeping a kid at home to be educated solely by his parents says “we’re looking for him to form his own opinions”?


  238. says

    UK to allow quarantine-free travel with nearly 60 countries — but not the U.S.

    English holidaymakers can travel to Paris, Berlin and a host of other destinations from July 10 without restrictions, but the U.S. and China are not included.

    The British government on Friday unveiled a list of safe destinations from where travelers will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days when they enter England. The list covers 59 countries and 14 British Overseas Territories including Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland and Spain.

    New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland and Vietnam have also been deemed safe. But China, the U.S., Portugal and Sweden were among the countries that did not make the list.

    Public health officials considered factors such as the prevalence of coronavirus, the number of new cases and the potential evolution of the disease.

    The announcement means Europe could see an influx of English travelers as soon as this weekend if they plan to stay for a week or more. The exemption will apply to England alone, after the government failed to get the administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on board. […]


  239. says

    Infectious disease expert: Trump Mt. Rushmore event is ‘beyond irresponsible’ and ‘the behavior of a cult leader’

    Dr. Celine Gounder, a prominent infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist, said Friday that […] Trump’s Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore is “beyond irresponsible” as the nation sees record-breaking outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. […]

    “This is the behavior of a cult leader who is jumping off the cliff, except he’s jumping off into a safety net where he has protections around him. People around him are being tested. He’s being tested on a regular basis. While he asks his followers to jump off a cliff into nothing,” she continued. “I mean, this is extremely dangerous behavior and unfortunately, this has become so politicized where you abide by public health and scientific recommendations on the basis of your political beliefs not based on the science. And people are really going to be harmed as a result of this.”

    Trump will attend a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore on Friday, where thousands are expected to gather without masks or social distancing requirements. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) also confirmed this week that social distancing would not be enforced at the event. […]

    Meanwhile, indigenous leaders in the area — which was sacred land to local tribes before gold was discovered and Native Americans were forced off — have also expressed concerns over coronavirus, and some have even called for the removal of the Mount Rushmore monument altogether.

    “Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement.

    Wildfire experts are also worried the event has more than a 60 percent chance of causing a forest fire.

    “Burning debris, the burning embers and unexploded shells fall into a ponderosa pine forest and ponderosa pine is extremely flammable,” Bill Gabbert, former fire management officer for Mount Rushmore and six other national parks in the region, told the Rapid City Journal. “Shooting fireworks over a ponderosa pine forest, or any flammable vegetation, is ill advised and should not be done. Period.”

    Trump is a super-spreader of virus and wildfires.

  240. says

    The Senate goes home for July Fourth recess as states wait on coronavirus stimulus

    Economists see the uncertainty as devastating for state budgets.

    Yep. We could see this coming. The next subchapter in the coronavirus saga will be states furloughing more workers thanks to financial disaster.

    It’s now been more than six weeks since the House passed the HEROES Act, […] The Senate, however, wants to wait two more [weeks] before considering a bill of its own.

    Both chambers of Congress have officially left for a two-week July Fourth recess and Senate Republicans have said floor consideration of stimulus legislation won’t happen until they’re back.“ […]

    (The House is focused on committee work in the interim.)

    Democrats have argued that this delay could have serious consequences, as states stare down budget cuts and households across the country deal with layoffs and upcoming rent and mortgage payments. […]

    This past week, a monthly report showed an influx of 4.8 million jobs in June, a seemingly promising boost, but data collected more recently also revealed that more than 1 million new unemployment claims were filed last week. Additionally, the current unemployment rate remains one of the highest the country has seen in years, at 11.1 percent. Another complicating factor: Some recent gains are a result of states reopening businesses, a move that some have had to reverse as coronavirus cases have spiked.

    […] the delays of additional support make it tough for states to plan how well they will (or won’t) be able to provide public schooling, support for higher ed and Medicaid payments as they keep fielding sharp dips in revenue. For many states, their fiscal year budgets began on July 1, which has now come and gone.

    “States are making decisions every day about what services they can provide and where they are going to need to lay people off, and, if they don’t know for sure that more funding is in the pipeline, they are going to err on the side of caution,” says Harvard Kennedy School economics professor Karen Dynan […] “That can’t be good, particularly when we are seeing cases surge in some places and all the more need for good health care and aggressive public health policy.”

    Democrats’ legislation would have allocated more than $900 billion to states and localities to help cover some of the revenue shortfalls they’ve experienced, in addition to the $150 billion that’s already been set aside to help address coronavirus-related costs in the CARES Act. […]

    It’s unclear whether Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach an agreement on the boost in state funds and next steps on other important programs, including pandemic unemployment insurance, which is due to expire at the end of July. For now, it’s a question the Senate won’t be addressing for a few weeks.

    Mitch McConnell is still in “Grim Reaper” mode (as he describes himself), even as he goes home to rest after doing almost nothing beyond clogging up the work of the Senate.

  241. says

    Nancy Pelosi highlights Trump’s con:

    […] “You got the con. The White House put on a con that if you don’t have 100 percent consensus on intelligence, it shouldn’t rise to a certain level,” she told reporters. […] She correctly pointed out that if you needed to have 100 percent certainty before alerting the president to a threat to the troops, you would never look into anything.

    She is right, of course. We have seen a familiar pattern of deflection and misdirection on this scandal. First, Trump was not “briefed.” (Well, he was briefed through the PDB.) But it was a hoax. (Then why was it in the PDB?) The upshot is that Trump, to this day, has taken no action in defense of our troops. At a time when the Kremlin was placing bounties on the heads of our servicemen and women, he was calling for Russia to be let into the Group of Seven.

    Pelosi reiterated her observation that “all roads lead to Putin” and then did what Trump has not — called for a muscular response to Russian aggression. “When Congress in a bipartisan way passed sanctions on Russia, the administration told us to take out the sanctions on the [Russian military intelligence agency, the] GRU — the intelligence, as well as the defense, sectors of Russia,” she recollected. “Those should definitely still be there. They were there in a bipartisan way. It’s just administration wanted them out. I don’t know why. So we should have those in there.” […]

    Washington Post link

  242. says

    Yesterday an armed man crashed his vehicle through the front gates of Rideau Hall in Ottawa, home of the Governor General, and currently the home of Prime Minister Trudeau and his family. He was captured by the RCMP. Vice is reporting that he may be a QAnon fan.

    This comes the same week CBC reported that the so called Boogaloo movement has adherents in Canada.

  243. KG says

    Thanks, SC@384. It’s a temporary research post – a bit daunting to be back in regular work after several years of formal retirement (though I’ve published intermittently), but the job advert almost seemed written for me, and it’s a chance to do something useful in this crisis. Meanwhile, Ms. KG is working as a contact tracer so bizarrely, while so many are losing their jobs, we both have new ones.

  244. says

    NEW – Kim Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and a top campaign official, tested positive for coronavirus in SD ahead of attending Mt Rushmore event, according to a person familiar w what happened. She was never was with POTUS, and neither was Don Jr., who tested negative.

    Neither ever went to the event w Trump and didn’t travel on AF1. They’re expected to drive back to the east coast to avoid contact w others per the person familiar.

    Guilfoyle was at the president’s campaign rally in Tulsa, after which there have been positive tests for coronavirus.”

    How can they drive from South Dakota to New York and not have contact with anyone? It’s halfway across the country.

  245. says

    I can’t get over the fact that these selfish people haven’t been taking any precautions and then took the virus to one of the few states where cases aren’t yet exploding.

  246. says

    CNN – “At least 8 Secret Service agents stuck in Phoenix with coronavirus after Pence trip”:

    At least eight Secret Service agents are currently holed up in a hotel in Phoenix, some suffering the flu-like coronavirus symptoms after coming down with the disease while preparing for a visit by Vice President Mike Pence, two people familiar with the matter say.

    Last month, up to 15 agents who tested positive for the virus loaded into cars and drove themselves home, avoiding flights after becoming infected while preparing for President Donald Trump’s campaign rally, according to another source familiar with the situation.

    And in South Dakota, agents have been on the ground for days preparing for Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore — but also for what some view as the inevitability that one or many of them will contract the virus.

    On Thursday morning, a group of approximately 20 security officers, including Secret Service agents, conducted a walk-through of the event clustered close together, surveying seating at the top of the Mount Rushmore amphitheater, the press area and the stage where the President will speak. Just two members of that group wore a mask; a separate group of a half-dozen uniformed officers assembling magnetometers at the park’s entrance did not wear masks. But every agent screening attendees at the entrance was masked hours later.

    As Trump and Pence resume regular travel schedules after months of pandemic-induced lockdown, the risks posed to the large contingent of US Secret Service personnel who accompany them have become obvious as roughly two dozen agents — if not more — have tested positive for the virus, sources familiar with the situation said.

    The health peril has emerged as a sore point for many within the agency, where sources describe a heightened sense of anxiety and anger over being put at what some view as senseless risk. One agency source said there is “growing anger and frustration” among some in the Secret Service at what they consider to be “unnecessary trips and exposure” because of Trump and Pence’s travel.

    “Even ardent Trump supporters are fed up,” one agency source said. “We signed up to take a bullet for him, we did not sign up to get sick for him for no good reason.”

    In addition to the agents who have become ill, many more have been required to quarantine after coming into contact with others who tested positive, putting a strain on the agency’s numbers as Trump and Pence continue to schedule trips around the country. Each trip requires multiple teams of agents, who work in shifts to ensure proper rest….

  247. says

    CNN article about Guilfoyle:

    Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. had been in the upper Plains region hosting high-dollar fundraisers for several days, people familiar with the matter said.

    Guilfoyle has “been with a lot of the campaign donors” in recent days, one source familiar with the matter said.

    Billed as a “Mountain West Ranch Retreat,” one event occurred in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, from Tuesday until Thursday, according to one of the people.

    Another event was billed as the “Rapid City Roundup Retreat” in Rapid City, South Dakota, from Thursday to Friday.

    The people said Guilfoyle was not seen wearing a mask during the events.

  248. says

    Josh Marshall at TPM – “Catastrophe”:

    …None of this had to happen. It is a failure of cataclysmic proportions. It has many roots. It has revealed many insufficiencies and failures in our society. But the scale of it, the unifying force is a man who never should have been president, who has abandoned his responsibility to lead and protect the country, making it every state for itself, a chaos only organized by a meandering effort to help himself at all costs at every point.