Comments

  1. says

    Follow-up to previous comments 195, 206, 312, and 386.

    The publisher has moved up the release of that book by Trump’s niece, Mary Trump.

    The publisher of a tell-all book written by[…] Trump’s niece Mary is planning to rush the book out next Tuesday despite ongoing litigation aimed at bottling up the insider account of life in the Trump family.

    Simon & Schuster announced Monday that “due to high demand and extraordinary interest” the firm is moving up the book’s publication date by two weeks, to July 14 from July 28.

    The publishing house also revealed new details about the scathing portrait of her uncle that Mary Trump will unveil in the book: “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

    Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, argues in the book that Donald Trump was emotionally hobbled at a young age because his mother fell ill and his hard-charging, real-estate-developer father made no effort to take over childrearing duties.

    “Donald is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information,” an excerpt on the book’s back jacket cover says. “Donald suffered deprivations that would scar him for life.”

    Mary Trump’s account appears to be unsparing, according to a release from the publisher. She alleges that her uncle Donald values human beings “only…in monetary terms” and subscribes to “cheating as a way of life.” […]

    Link

    Sounds like an accurate portrait.

  2. says

    We hit the 500-comment mark on the previous chapter of this thread, so the thread started again at comment #1.

    For your convenience, here are a few links back to the previous chapter:

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2020/06/27/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-15/comment-page-1/#comment-2050856
    Lynna regarding Trump’s idiotic statement that of all the COVID-19 cases in the USA, “99 percent” are “totally harmless.”

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2020/06/27/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-15/comment-page-1/#comment-2050856
    Pierce Butler regarding reports of percentage of people diagnosed with COVID-19 that progress to severe disease.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2020/06/27/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-15/comment-page-1/#comment-2050849
    The two problems at the heart of Trump’s false line on testing

  3. says

    From Wonkette: “Eric Trump Helpfully Reminds Voters His Dad Palled Around With A Pedophile”

    […] Eric Trump probably shouldn’t have joined the guilt-by-association game considering his father was photographed so often with Epstein you’d think they were in a 1990s boy band together.

    Within minutes, Eric Trump was getting dunked on Twitter like a doofus. [see the link for images]

    Yep, there’s the president — back when he was safely a celebrity asshole without access to the nuclear codes — canoodling with Epstein and Maxwell, who is charged with serving as Epstein’s “madam” and not the cool Dolly Parton kind but the kind that enables child rape.

    This was such a self-own you’d think Eric Trump was working for Joe Biden’s campaign, but we know that’s not true because Biden has standards. […]

    Eric Trump eventually deleted the tweet — it’s unclear if the president’s White Power! Rapid Response team reached out to him — but the damage was done.

    You’ll notice Melania Trump appears in one of these photos. This was from 1990, before she signed her demonic contract with Trump. She doesn’t look happy to be there, but that’s her normal facial expression so it’s hard to interpret as a moral statement.

    Sunday, during a segment on Maxwell’s arrest, Fox News repeatedly showed this photo but the network edited out Trump. However, it kept Melania in the picture. Maybe it was too hard to photoshop both the president and the first lady or — yes, I know this is petty — they didn’t recognize Melania as the first lady. They thought she was just a pouty-faced model hanging out with gross rich assholes […]

    Link

  4. says

    From Wonkette: “Right-Wingers Hate New ‘Free Speech’ Platform Parler, You Can’t Even Own The Libs There :(”

    Conservatives have long complained about Twitter restricting their right to free speech, banning them from the site for perfectly innocuous things like directing their troll armies to tweet racist and fat-phobic crap at Leslie Jones; accusing Ilhan Omar of loving female genital mutilation and Sharia Law; and setting up rings of fake accounts. In the past week, at the urging of several prominent MAGA personalities and elected officials, over 500,000 new users have signed up for Parler, the social media app for conservatives who truly love and value free speech (wait for it).

    It should be a perfect solution. Conservatives can go on there and say all of the things that Twitter won’t let them say, harass other users to their hearts content, and perhaps, as a result, other social media can be less of a garbage fire. They can stop pushing for congressional hearings about supposed “social media censorship” if they have a problem. Plus, they can see principles of the free market they claim to love so very much at work.

    You think they’d be happy, but they’re not.

    According to a Politico report, many noted MAGA personalities actually don’t like the site — because all of the liberals they hate so much, the very ones who have been facilitating their “oppression” by reporting them for harassment or otherwise violating the terms of service, aren’t there. And if they aren’t there, who are they going to “influence”?

    In fact, they’re so lonely that the social media site is willing to pay any progressive with 50K or more followers $20,000 to sign up. That’s so sad! [And oh so funny!]

    The MAGAfication problem is so bad that CEO and founder John Matze has openly begged progressive pundits to join the platform, offering a “progressive bounty” of $20,000 to any left-wing influencer with a following of 50,000 or more users on Twitter who makes an account. And with even establishment conservatives like Sens. Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney eschewing Parler for now, Trump supporters worry that Parler’s influencers will be preaching to a MAGA choir forever.

    “The question is not pure engagement. The question is influence,” said Will Chamberlain, the editor-in-chief of the populist magazine Human Events. “Twitter is interesting because there’s so many people, prominent people, that can be influenced. Parler is not that.”

    Clearly, they need us more than we need them. Personally, I would be totally fine just having a nice time on social media. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  5. says

    “Evictions are likely to skyrocket this summer as jobs remain scarce. Black renters will be hard hit.”

    Washington Post link

    Eviction moratoriums and unemployment benefits are expiring, which will have a bigger effect on minority neighborhoods.

    A backlog of eviction cases is beginning to move through the court system as millions of Americans who had counted on federal aid and eviction moratoriums to stay in their homes now fear being thrown out.

    A crisis among renters is expected to deepen this month as the enhanced unemployment benefits that have kept many afloat run out at the end of the July, and the $1,200 per adult stimulus payment that had supported households earlier in the crisis becomes a distant memory.

    Meanwhile, enforcement of federal moratoriums on some types of evictions is uneven, with experts warning that judges’ efforts to limit access to courtrooms or hold hearings online because of covid-19 could increasingly leave elderly or poor renters at a disadvantage.

    Of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20 percent are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to an analysis by the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, a Colorado-based community group. African American and Hispanic renters are expected to be hardest hit.

    Judge Yvonne Williams, glasses snuggled tight to the blue mask covering most of her face, peered into the camera in her Texas courtroom recently to press a renter about the more than $4,000 she owed her landlord.
    “What do you have toward the rent?” Williams asked.

    The renter appeared on another shaky screen from a dark room and explained that she had been furloughed as the spread of the novel coronavirus shut down much of the U.S. economy. But she had three kids and nowhere to go, the renter said, and was working to raise the money, which included more than $1,000 in late fees.

    “I have heard almost 60 cases so far, and this is everybody’s problem,” Williams responded before approving the eviction. […]

  6. says

    Trump is running an openly racist campaign.

    All dictators and would-be dictators need enemies — the more villainous the better — to justify their seizure of power. […] Trump, an aspiring authoritarian, based his 2016 campaign on fomenting fear of Mexicans and Muslims. In 2018 his midterm campaign was based on (unsuccessful) scaremongering about caravans of refugees from Central America. So how will he stampede voters into supporting him this year?

    The Islamic State’s caliphate no longer exists and, because of the pandemic, the U.S. borders are closed. There are no more caravans — or immigrants of any kind — for him to inveigh against. Terrorism continues to be a problem — white supremacist violence is on the rise, and last December a Saudi gunman with al-Qaeda links killed three service members in Pensacola, Fla. — but it no longer excites the kind of attention it once did.

    There are bigger things to worry about — notably, a pandemic that has killed more Americans than those who died in all of our post-1945 wars combined and has caused unemployment to rise to its highest level since the 1930s. But, even as case numbers are hitting new highs, Trump has neither the ability nor the aptitude to battle this enemy. His response amounts to a combination of wishful thinking (“I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of disappear, I hope,” he said last week) and fatalism (the White House’s new message is “Learn to live with it”).

    In his Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore, Trump unveiled a new set of enemies that he prefers to battle instead until November. His supporters ignored the actual dangers they face as they packed in, mainly without masks, to listen to Trump inveigh against largely imaginary foes.

    Trump warned of “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” of “angry mobs,” and of a “cancel culture” that is “driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.” He described this as “the very definition of totalitarianism” — a word he struggled to pronounce. “The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice, but in truth, it would demolish both justice and society,” he warned darkly. “Their goal is not a better America; their goal is to end America.”

    What the heck is he talking about? Only someone who binge-watches Fox “News,” as Trump does, can imagine that violent hordes are marauding through U.S. cities — most of the demonstrations occurred weeks ago, and they were overwhelmingly peaceful — or that millions of political dissidents are being fired for disagreeing with a “new far-left fascism.” […]

    The #MeToo and Black Lives Matters movements have done a world of good by calling attention to the abuses of a power structure dominated by white men. But their very success threatens Trump’s white supporters. They won’t give up their privileges without a fight.

    That’s who Trump was addressing on Friday night in a speech that was by turns deranged and disingenuous. He made it sound as if he is single-handedly preventing the destruction of every monument — including Mount Rushmore […]

    Trump is running an openly racist campaign at odds with public opinion that has shifted against Confederate monuments and in favor of Black Lives Matter. So he prefers to pretend that he is battling against the unreasonable demands of “cancel culture” — and his supporters pretend to believe him. But everyone knows that what he is really defending is not “our freedom” or “our history,” as he said on Friday, but, rather, “white power” — the words uttered by a Trump supporter in a video that the president himself posted on Twitter and later deleted but did not disavow. […]

    Washington Post link

  7. logicalcat says

    In case it hasnt been said enough, thank you all for this forum. The political madness forum is awesome.

  8. says

    From the Guardian world liveblog (support the Guardian if you can):

    New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday called on Donald Trump to not be a “co-conspirator” of the coronavirus and acknowledge the “major problem” it poses as cases spiked in dozens of states after some rushed to reopen, Reuters reports.

    The number of US coronavirus deaths exceeded 130,000 on Monday (see 3.59pm.), following a massive surge of new cases that has put Trump’s handling of the crisis under the microscope and derailed efforts to restart the economy.

    “So, Mr. President, don’t be a co-conspirator of Covid,” Cuomo said at a news briefing.

    Acknowledge to the American people that Covid exists, it is a major problem, it’s going to continue until we admit it and each of us stands up to do our part.

    Cuomo said the president was “enabling” the virus if he failed to acknowledge the severity of the situation, and slammed the president’s comments that the surge in US cases was due to increased testing.

    “He makes up facts. He makes up science,” Cuomo said, citing several past Trump statements on the virus such it would disappear like a miracle as the weather got warmer.

    He said all those things, none of them were true. And now we have a problem in 38 states because some people believe him.

    Cuomo said coronavirus hospitalisations in New York dropped to 817 – the lowest since 18 March – and nine people died from Covid-19 on Sunday, adding:

    The numbers have actually declined since we started reopening.

    Cuomo warned about complacency now that the worst seemed to be over in New York, pointing to reports of some July Fourth celebrations, including in Manhattan and on Fire Island and upstate, where revellers ignored social distancing and face covering rules. He said:

    That curve was purely a function of what we did. If we change what we’re doing, you’re going to change the trajectory of the virus.

  9. says

    WaPo editorial – “Trump plumbed new depths of depravity this Fourth of July”:

    It should be no surprise that President Trump has chosen to center his reelection campaign on appeals to racism and the demonization of his opponents. After all, that is what he did from the opening of his 2016 run with his invocation of Mexican immigrant “rapists,” and before the 2018 congressional midterms, when he decried a supposed “invasion” by “caravans” packed with “bad hombres.” Still, Mr. Trump plumbed new depths of depravity in two speeches he delivered over the weekend, nominally in celebration of the July 4 holiday.

    On a day when presidents typically extol the values that bring Americans together, Mr. Trump launched an unhinged attack on the movement for racial and social justice that has surged in the last month….

    As The Post’s Jennifer Rubin pointed out, Mr. Trump’s description of “the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters” who want to destroy the country closely echoed the rhetoric of George Wallace, the avowedly racist 1968 independent presidential candidate. Mr. Wallace won only five states in the Deep South, and half a century later a solid majority of Americans reject such hate speech. Polls show a majority support the Black Lives Matter movement and want monuments to Confederate leaders removed.

    Even many Republicans believe that Mr. Trump is wrong in calculating that he can eke out a victory in the electoral college simply by remobilizing the white voters who carried him to victory four years ago. But whether or not it is politically wise, the president’s renewed attempt to polarize the country along racial and cultural lines is despicable.

    But wait, protest some of Mr. Trump’s most disingenuous supporters: There was no racism in those July 4 addresses! Why, the president even cited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.! It’s true Mr. Trump’s teleprompter texts did not make explicit whether his zeal to defend “our monuments” and “our national heritage” extended to the former Confederacy. Unfortunately for his apologists, however, the unedited president was back on Twitter on Monday morning, decrying the decision by NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from its races and attacking its only African American driver. He is threatening to veto the annual defense bill if it includes a mandate to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals. And he still has not denounced the “white power” slogan shouted by a supporter in a video he tweeted last week.

    Mr. Trump claimed his opponents would “tear down the beliefs, culture and identity that have made America the most vibrant and tolerant society in the history of the Earth.” In fact, in describing his political adversaries as traitors and in bluntly appealing to racial animus, it is this president who poses the greatest threat to American democratic values.

    Call on him to resign.

  10. Czech American says

    Logicalcat @7, seconded. Many thanks to the indefatigable regular contributors.

    Though I do feel like I should take more mental health breaks from reading this stuff, the thread is mostly a much-needed assurance to me that others see the madness for what it is.

  11. says

    logical cat @7, thank you for letting us know that this thread is useful to you.

    Czech American, thank you as well. I know what you mean about sometimes needing a break.

    The White House cannot explain Trump’s tweet defending the Confederate flag, though you can be sure that official liars on Team Trump will try:

    White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday attempted to defend […] Trump’s tweet that baselessly accused NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace of creating a “hoax” following the controversy that ensued over a noose found in his garage stall last month.

    In a Monday morning tweet, the President demanded that Wallace, the only Black competitor in the top-level Cup Series, apologize to NASCAR drivers and officials after an FBI investigation found that the noose had been in his garage stall months before it was assigned to him. Trump added that the scandal prompted by Wallace’s finding of the noose in his garage stall along with NASCAR’s “flag decision” — referring to its move to ban the Confederate flag from its events late last month — caused the auto racing company’s ratings to tank.

    Hours after Trump’s tweet, McEnany was pressed repeatedly on it during a White House press briefing.

    When asked why the President appears to support the flying the Confederate flag, McEnany accused the reporter who posed the question of “mischaracterizing” the tweet and explained that it was aimed at pointing out the FBI’s investigation on the matter.

    Asked again later in the briefing about the President’s tweet and whether he thinks NASCAR made a mistake by banning the Confederate flag, McEnany claimed that she spoke to Trump this morning and he told her he “was not making a judgment one way or the other.”

    McEnany then slammed the media for its coverage of the NASCAR scandal.

    “The intent of the tweet was to stand up for the men and women of NASCAR and the fans and those who have gone,” McEnany said. “This rush of judgment of the media to call something a hate crime when, in fact, the FBI report concluded this was not an intentional racist act. And it very much mirrors other times when there’s been a rush to judgment — let’s say with the Covington Boys and Jussie Smollett.”

    When asked again whether Trump thinks it was a mistake for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag, McEnany responded by accusing the reporter of “focusing on one word” at the bottom of the President’s tweet.

    “The President said he wasn’t making a judgment one way or the other. You are focusing on one word at the very bottom of the tweet,” McEnany said. “That is completely taking it out of context and neglecting the complete rush to judgment.”

    McEnany went on to repeat similar talking points throughout the rest of the briefing, arguing that the President’s tweet was intended to defend NASCAR men and women who are being accused of being racist, to point out that the FBI did not find a hate crime against Wallace and that it did “not indicate approval or disapproval of that particular policy at NASCAR.”

    NASCAR responded to Trump’s tweet shortly after the White House briefing ended by defending Wallace in a Monday afternoon statement.

    “We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership,” NASCAR wrote in its statement. “NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.” […]

    TPM link.

    Video available at the link.

  12. says

    G liveblog:

    The state of the epidemic in the US is “really not good” and a “serious situation that we have to address immediately”, the top White House health official Dr Anthony Fauci has said.

    The nation is still “knee-deep” in the first wave, having never got the case number as low as planned, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said during a live internet interview with National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins.

    It’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.

    Fauci said that he expects an eventual vaccine, now in development by several companies, to work well and provide protection at least for some period of time, but that it will not be infinite protection such as the vaccine for measles.

    The WH won’t let Fauci appear on US TV, so I have to read what he said during some internet interview in a British newspaper.

  13. says

    Okay, now what kind of anti-immigrant fuckery is this?

    ICE tells students on visas they must leave US if schools go online-only

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday that international students in the U.S. whose schools switch to online classes for the fall semester will have to leave the country or risk violating their visa status. […]

    The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) had allowed for foreign students to take their spring and summer 2020 courses online while remaining in the United States, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    SEVP, the institution that sets the rules for student visas, is run by ICE, which is generally dedicated to immigration enforcement.

    In its announcement, SEVP said foreign students who do not transfer to in-person programs and remain in the United States while enrolled in online courses could face “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

    Students taking in-person programs will be allowed to remain in the country, while schools with hybrid online/in-person courses will be required to certify their programs are not entirely online.

    Students in English language courses and certain students pursuing vocational degrees will not be allowed to take online courses. […]

    According to the Commerce Department, international’s students contribute about $45 million per year to the U.S. Economy. And that’s in addition to their other contributions, such as contributing to the knowledge base and to diversity.

    And what’s the logic behind increasing the number of students who are required to attend classes in person during a pandemic?

  14. says

    I can’t believe Trump’s campaign managers think this approach will get him reelected. It’s certainly a big contrast with Joe Biden’s approach.

    Advisers to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden see the covid-19 crisis as perhaps the clearest way yet to contrast the former vice president with […] Trump, using the stumbling response and renewed surge in cases as ways to paint Trump as uninformed, incapable of empathy and concerned only about his own political standing.

    Trump’s advisers, by contrast, are seeking ways to reframe his response to the coronavirus — even as [Trump] himself largely seeks to avoid the topic because he views it as a political loser. They are sending health officials to swing states, putting doctors on TV in regional markets where the virus is surging, crafting messages on an economic recovery and writing talking points for allies to deliver to potential voters.

    The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve.

    White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official. […]

    Washington Post link

  15. says

    U.S. News – “South Dakota Governor, Exposed to Virus, Joined Trump on Jet”:

    Shortly after fireworks above Mount Rushmore disappeared into the night sky on Friday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem accompanied President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One despite having had close contact with Trump’s son’s girlfriend, who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Trump has been in a position all along to encounter a virus that spreads from people who don’t feel sick, such as Noem, who had interacted closely at a campaign fundraiser with Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who turned out to be infected. Noem didn’t wear a mask on the plane and chatted with the president as the flight returned to Washington, D.C., according to her spokesperson, Maggie Seidel.

    Noem had tested negative for COVID-19 shortly before welcoming Trump to South Dakota on Friday, a day after she had interacted with Guilfoyle. One photo on social media showed Noem and Guilfoyle, who is also a Trump campaign staff member, hugging. The Trump campaign announced that Guilfoyle had tested positive on Friday.

    Guilfoyle’s infection prompted some Republicans, such as Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana, to take precautions against the spread of the coronavirus. He suspended in-person campaigning for his gubernatorial bid after his wife and his running mate both attended a fundraiser with Guilfoyle earlier in the week.

    Noem doesn’t plan anything similar or to get tested again for the virus, Seidel said. She cast Noem’s decision to fly on Air Force One as a demonstration of how to live with the virus….

    The CDC says that people with active infections can still test negative, especially if it is early in the infection. The agency recommends that even people who test negative take precautions like avoiding close contact and wearing a mask around others.

    Asked about Trump’s interaction with Noem, the White House noted the frequency with which the president is tested.

    “The president is tested constantly, has tested negative, and those around him are tested as well,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

    When asked why Noem was allowed to travel on Air Force One, McEnany referred the question to the Secret Service, but added: “They take the president’s health very seriously. They would never put him in a situation that would put him in harm’s way.”

    The Secret Service referred questions to the White House press office, which provided no additional comment.

    Ian Fury, a spokesperson for Noem, said Monday on Twitter that the governor had consulted with the White House doctor before she boarded Air Force One and was told it would be OK to fly.

    As the number of people hospitalized from COVID-19 in South Dakota has decreased in recent weeks to just 59 people statewide, Noem has doubled down on her relaxed approach to the pandemic….

    On Friday night, she told the crowd, “Tonight, if you look to your left, if you look to your right, you’re going to see that this crowd isn’t just from South Dakota, but it’s from everywhere across this nation.”

    The influx of tourists for the Rushmore fireworks has some local leaders and doctors concerned that the area could see a spike in cases. Seidel said the governor worries about other effects of the virus, such as unemployment and domestic violence.

    When Seidel was asked about a risk to Trump’s health from Noem’s presence on Air Force One, she said, “I don’t understand why Gov. Noem now needs to manage the president’s medical care.”

  16. says

    Reuters – “U.N. expert deems U.S. drone strike on Iran’s Soleimani an ‘unlawful’ killing”:

    The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Monday.

    The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani’s convoy as it left Baghdad airport, said Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

    The attack violated the U.N. Charter, Callamard wrote in a report calling for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.

    “The world is at a critical time, and possible tipping point, when it comes to the use of drones. … The Security Council is missing in action; the international community, willingly or not, stands largely silent,” Callamard, an independent investigator, told Reuters.

    Callamard is due on Thursday to present her findings to the Human Rights Council, giving member states a chance to debate what action to pursue. The United States is not a member of the forum, having quit two years ago.

    Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran’s campaign to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq, and built up Iran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East. Washington had accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

    “Major General Soleimani was in charge of Iran military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the U.S. was unlawful,” Callamard wrote in the report.

    The Jan. 3 drone strike was the first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defense as a justification for an attack against a state actor in the territory of a third country, Callamard added….

  17. blf says

    White House claims US is a leader in fight against Covid-19 as cases rise. They™ can also square the circle and eat peas:

    […]
    The White House claimed on Monday that the US has been a leade in the global fight against coronavirus, despite infections nationally now approaching 3m, with 130,000 deaths, and America recently witnessing the highest ever number of new daily cases reported in the world.

    With the majority of US states reporting increases in new cases, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said at a briefing on Monday afternoon: I think the world is looking at us as a leader in Covid-19.

    The US has not yet got new infections under control, according to the leading public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci’s recent alarmed comments to Congress. And the EU chose not to include the US as a country approved for non-essential travel as it starts to open its borders.

    This as officials in states across America’s southern sun belt are closing down parts of the economy again.

    […]

    USAlienistan is indeed a a leader in Covid-19.

  18. says

    The reports in English I’ve seen only say that Bolsonaro has symptoms and has been tested, but aren’t reporting a result yet. He went to a luncheon on Saturday without a mask. The reports did say that when he left the hospital after the test he was wearing a mask and told people to keep their distance, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the reports that the test was positive are correct.

  19. says

    Re Bolsonaro – CNBC – “Brazil’s Bolsonaro tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell, reporting a high temperature”:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has undergone another test for the coronavirus, shortly after the presidential palace said the right-wing leader had displayed symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

    Bolsonaro told supporters gathered outside the presidential palace in Brasilia on Monday that he had taken a test for the virus and “everything is fine.”

    Speaking while wearing a face mask, he also said that a separate medical exam had shown his lungs were “clean,” according to a video broadcast on a YouTube channel.

    A couple of local news sources — including an affiliate to CNN in Brazil — have reported that Bolsonaro has tested positive for the virus, but this has not been verified by CNBC or officially confirmed.

    A government spokesperson was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC on Tuesday morning.

    On Monday, the presidential palace said that Bolsonaro was currently in good health but told NBC News that he had been feeling unwell and was running a fever of 38 degrees Celsius (about 100.4 Fahrenheit).

    Local media has reported Bolsonaro has canceled all his official activities until he gets the results of his test for Covid-19. The results are expected at around 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday….

    (I think the local reports might be saying he tested positive and that this is a second test to confirm the results, but it’s not clear.)

  20. says

    Guardian – “Fury as Boris Johnson accuses care homes over high Covid-19 death toll”:

    Care leaders, unions and MPs have rounded on Boris Johnson after he accused care homes of failing to follow proper procedures amid the coronavirus crisis, saying the prime minister appeared to be shifting the blame for the high death toll.

    With nearly 20,000 care home residents confirmed to have died with Covid-19, and estimates that the true toll is much greater, there has been widespread criticism about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and clear guidelines for the sector. On Monday, the total UK coronavirus death toll rose to 44,236, up 16 on the day before.

    The Guardian has previously revealed how public health officials proposed a radical lockdown of care homes at the height of the pandemic, but they were overruled by the government. Agency staff were found to have spread the virus between homes, but a health department plan, published in April, mentioned nothing about restricting staff movements. Around 25,000 patients were discharged into care homes without being tested for coronavirus, an official report said.

    Speaking during a visit to Goole in Yorkshire, Johnson said the pandemic had shown the need to “make sure we look after people better who are in social care”.

    He went on: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time. Most important is to fund them properly … but we will also be looking at ways to make sure the care sector long term is properly organised and supported.”

    The comments followed fears that ministers – mindful of a likely future inquiry into how the UK came to have the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, with the proportion of care home deaths 13 times higher than in Germany – could be seeking to lay some of the responsibility on outside bodies, including Public Health England (PHE).

    A No 10 spokesman insisted Johnson was not blaming care homes, saying they “have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances”. He added: “The PM was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time.”

    But Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, which represents smaller and medium-sized care providers, said Johnson’s comments were “a huge slap in the face for a sector that looks after a million vulnerable people, employs 1.6 million care workers and puts £45bn into the economy every year”.

    She added: “Despite the fact PPE was diverted, despite the fact we didn’t have testing in our services, despite the fact they’ve not put any money into our sector, it has worked its socks off, and it’s a huge disappointment to hear the leader of our country say what he’d said.”

    While the government said it had “thrown a protective ring around care homes”, studies and reports from the sector have painted a different picture….

  21. says

    Here’s a link to the July 7 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    Their morning summary:

    Melbourne is to re-enter Stage 3 lockdown after a record increase in cases. Victorian state premier Daniel Andrews said there was “simply no alternative” to reimposing stay at home restrictions in Australia’s second-biggest city.

    A New Zealand MP has confessed leaking private details of Covid-19 cases to reporters. Hamish Walker, an opposition politician from the centre-right National party, said he was the source of a list of private information about 18 active cases in the country.

    South Africa’s cases have passed 200,000, the highest total in Africa. In Kenya, the government has announced it would press on with plans to ease the country’s lockdown despite a steep rise in cases.

    Four new coronavirus hospitals have been opened in Mumbai after India’s death toll rose past 20,000. Buildings including schools and a stadium have been repurposed for the facilities in the region, where about a quarter of the deaths have occurred.

    Coronavirus infections in Russia have risen to 694,230. On Tuesday, the country’s coronavirus response crisis centre said 6,368 new cases had been recorded in the past 24 hours. Russia has the fourth highest total of cases globally.

    I’m concerned about Russia. They had a parade, they had a “referendum,” and they’ve opened things precipitously.

  22. says

    Beto O’Rourke:

    Abbott opens Texas too soon, issues mask order too late, denies local leaders authority to contain the virus — causing uncontrolled covid spread, many hospitalized & soon dead because of his negligence — and then blames local officials? Pathetic. Resign.

    Abbott quote atl.

  23. raven says

    US to withdraw visas for foreign students if classes moved fully online
    BBC 6 July 2020

    Students could face deportation if they do not comply with the rules
    Foreign students will not be allowed to stay in the US this autumn if their universities have moved classes fully online, unless they switch to a course with in-person tuition.

    The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said people could face deportation if they do not comply with the rules.

    This is a cosmically stupid and pointless action again from the Trump/GOP regime.

    .1. The US university systems are the best in the world.
    They are a main source of US “soft power”.
    Strangely enough, much of the leadership in the rest of the world has been educated in the USA.
    We are where the elites everywhere send their kids for at least a year or two.
    I saw a list of the Iranian leadership once. All but one had attended university in the USA.
    This gives the US a huge amount of influence without spending any money or piling up a lot of dead bodies.

    .2. Foreign students pay for US universities.
    They generally pay full out of state tuition and are a source of important revenue for higher education.
    The universities especially these days really need their money.

    .3. There is no point to this.
    By and large foreign students are harmless and a net benefit.
    It’s just racism, an attempt to make a nation that is 40% nonwhite, white again.
    It’s not going to work either.
    The universities will just make in class an option with the same price as on line for foreign students and not check which they take.

  24. says

    From the Guardian liveblog:

    The Republican Party will provide mandatory coronavirus testing at its national convention in Florida next month, Reuters reports.

    The plan to require thousands of attendees to get tested for the coronavirus before entering the convention site in Jacksonville illustrates the efforts the party is undertaking to ensure President Donald Trump speaks to a packed house when he accepts the nomination.

    Quite how the tests would be conducted is not yet clear.

    “Everyone attending the convention within the perimeter will be tested and temperature checked each day,” wrote Erin Isaac, communications director for the host committee, in a memo to reporters.

    The convention was originally supposed to take place in North Carolina but was moved to Florida amid concerns over the pandemic.

    The decision to relocate was made prior to Florida’s recent spike in coronavirus cases, which have grown from 667 new cases on June 1 to more than 10,000 new cases on Monday.

    Lunacy.

  25. raven says

    I don’t see that they will open up the schools and universities at least even mostly this fall anyway.
    There is way too much virus around and it is getting worse.

    One of the fastest growing categories of cases is children under 10.

    With the present trend, I’m guessing they will open the schools and universities, there will be clusters of cases, and some children and young adults will just die.
    And then they will rethink the whole idea in a hurry.

  26. raven says

    We need to live with it’: White House readies new message for …
    http://www.nbcnews.com › politics › politics-news › we-need…

    4 days ago – The effort to craft a clearer response comes after months of Trump downplaying the health crisis and mixed signals from the administration. Image …

    Supposedly the new Trump campaign strategy is to just tell Americans to live with the raging pandemic.

    That isn’t going to work either.
    Most people aren’t going to ever get used to 50,000 new cases a day and a thousand people a day dying while the hospitals are overfilled and struggling.

    It’s possible to deal with the virus as the EU, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Asia has shown.

    PS Testing is still a problem 6 months into the pandemic.
    There have been several cluster outbreaks in my area.
    They are having a hard time dealing with them because…they ran out of testing reagents.

  27. says

    Joshua Yaffa:

    Putin era, and its hostility toward independent journalists, have stretched on for so long that multiple generations have now faced successive crackdowns: Ivan Safronov Sr. died in murky case in 2007; his son, Ivan Safronov Jr., arrested for treason today.

    I’m inclined to listen to @AndreiSoldatov on Safronov arrest, and his take sounds as ominous as I feared: FSB is sending a signal to journalists that investigative reporting is now fair game for treason charges, and delineating which topics are off limits.

    thinking more about echo of Safronov father and son, it strikes me how as Putin system has aged, it has settled into a legalistic veneer, in which courts, more than physical attacks, have come to be the go-to instrument for going after meddlesome independent journalists

    Link to a Meduza article with much more atl. Safronov Sr. “fell out a window” at home.

  28. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Israel’s public health director has quit amid a spike in new coronavirus cases, saying the country had been too hasty to reopen its economy and had lost its way in dealing with the pandemic.

    Reuters reports that Siegal Sadetzki, an epidemiologist, announced her resignation a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet reimposed a series of restrictions, including the closure of bars, gyms and event halls.

    After a national lockdown in April, Israel flattened the coronavirus infection curve in May to about 20 new cases a day.

    But since the reopening of schools and many businesses two months ago, the number of cases has soared, reaching more than 1,000 a day last week. The Health Ministry said it expected the number of patients on ventilators – now 32 – to reach 2,000.

    In a statement on Facebook (in Hebrew), Sadetzki said she decided to resign because her warnings about attempting to return to normal conditions too quickly had been ignored. She wrote:

    “It has been several weeks since Israel’s compass for handling the pandemic has lost its bearings. The achievements in dealing with the first wave (of infections) were cancelled out by the broad and swift opening of the economy” that outpaced many other countries.

    With only 37% of Israelis trusting the government’s handling of the pandemic, according to a survey published on Monday by N2 News, against 59% who distrust it, her criticism of official policy could add to a sense of public unease.

    At a cabinet session on Monday, Netanyahu said Israel needed to take “limited actions” now to avoid a wider lockdown later that could paralyse its economy, where unemployment is just above 20%.

    In her statement, Sadetzki recommended that Israel limit gatherings to no more than 20 people and reimpose greater social distancing in work places and schools.

    Israel, with a population of nine million, has reported more than 31,000 coronavirus cases and 338 dead.

  29. tomh says

    The Trump Administration agenda rolls merrily on.

    Lawfare:
    New Proposed Asylum Regulations Would Endanger Women’s Lives
    By Sherizaan Minwalla
    Tuesday, July 7, 2020

    Women and girls fleeing forms of extreme abuse that mostly targets women—such as rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced and child marriage, human trafficking, and severe domestic violence—have always faced an uphill battle in securing asylum protection in the United States. After decades of strategic litigation, female asylum-seekers have made important legal gains. But new rules proposed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice would obliterate that progress.
    […]

    The recently proposed regulations would eliminate legal protection for the vast majority of asylum-seekers fleeing persecution in their homelands and seeking protection in the United States. For women and girls fleeing gender-based persecution, these rules are problematic in two significant ways. First, they arbitrarily limit the ability of women to present claims based on gender-based persecution or gender-specific political opinion. Second, the regulations would also include procedural barriers for women presenting claims that involve gender-based persecution, which are already more difficult to present.

    The rules appear designed to eliminate gender-based persecution claims.

    More at the link.

  30. says

    David Enrich:

    Breaking: Regulators impose $150 million penalty on @DeutscheBank for violating anti-money-laundering rules in its relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

    The behavior revealed in regulatory documents is stunning –– even by Deutsche standards.

    [NYT link atl]

    The Epstein relationship continued even after DB’s anti-money-laundering officers raised concerns and urged execs to stop serving Epstein.

    At one point, a senior executive went to Epstein’s NY home and, later that day, staff’s money-laundering objections were overruled.

    The result was that Epstein continued to use his DB accounts to move money to young women via a Russian bank and to pay secret settlements to his victims.

    Senior executives repeatedly engaged in what looks like willful blindness.

    Epstein’s lawyer asked DB for advice on how to withdraw huge amounts of cash without triggering money-laundering alerts.

    The lawyer withdrew a total of $800,000+ for Epstein –– and there is no record of the bank asking serious questions about what the money was being used for.

    Deutsche finally cut ties with Epstein last year, after it became impossible to ignore how awful he was.

    At that point, Epstein’s loyal relationship manager at DB wrote him reference letters to other banks, saying DB was “unaware of any problems.”

    Keep in mind that DB has been repeatedly busted for violating money-laundering laws. For years, DB was basically the bank of choice for criminals. (And, of course, for @realDonaldTrump)

    NY regulators today are also punishing DB for money-laundering lapses in Cyprus and Estonia.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there’s a ton more detail on @DeutscheBank’s sordid history with Epstein and money laundering and more in my book Dark Towers!

    [Amazon link atl]

    Just got the following statement from @DeutscheBank spokesman Dan Hunter…

    Screenshots from the settlement atl.

  31. says

    SC @35, yes, that segment hosted by Rachel Maddow was one of the best she has ever done. The entire show was extraordinary. All the details she provided, all the backstories, all the current information … it all painted a bleak picture. Horrifying … but at least we are getting the truth here. I kept wishing that we could somehow make Trump and his cronies watch that show over and over.

    If only we could base government policy on the facts presented by Rachel.

  32. says

    A young Donald Trump paid his friend Joe Shapiro to take his SATs for him, [Mary Trump’s] book claims.

    ‘That was much easier to pull off in the days before photo IDs and computerized records’.”

    Tony Schwartz: “There is no way Trump could have been admitted to a decent university without cheating on SATs and his father’s money. He has been incapable of focusing of any subject for more than a few minutes throughout his life.”

    I remember during the 2016 campaign when Frontline did a biographical episode on each of the presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton’s was full of friends and colleagues talking about her positive qualities, inspirations, challenges. I don’t think there was a single person from Trump’s entire life who could point to a single admirable quality or kind act. Or even just anything that made him sound like something other than a selfish asshole.

  33. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 59

    Seeing that Trump’s worshippe’s place no value on higher education, this revelation won’t hurt him all that much.

  34. says

    Willfully ignorant Republican politician dives ever deeper into FantasyLand:

    In mid-March, as the scope of the pandemic was coming into view, Sen. Ron Johnson [from Wisconsin] went further than most in arguing that the coronavirus crisis should not shut down the economy, even temporarily. As part of his case, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “[W]e don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about.”

    This was a bad argument, for reasons the Wisconsin Republican didn’t seem to fully grasp.

    Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee!

    A couple of months later, Johnson was seen on the Senate floor without any facial covering. “I wear a mask when I go into grocery stores, that type of thing,” the GOP senator said. “I think around here, we probably won’t have to.” This, too, was a bad argument.

    As the crisis continues, Johnson’s perspective just isn’t improving. Axios reported last week:

    The country “overreacted” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Ron Johnson told Axios’ Mike Allen during a virtual event on Wednesday…. “[I]n hindsight, I think we overreacted. We closed too much of our economy down, and I don’t think we focused enough on what we needed to do: isolate the sick, quarantine them, protect the vulnerable.”

    [four months ago] the Wisconsin Republican told USA Today, “People are going to have to work. People do need to recognize the fact that this is not Ebola. This is not MERS. It’s not quite the seasonal flu. But we have to keep things in perspective and we got to keep our economy.”

    That, however, was in March, when some officials hadn’t yet come to terms with the scope and scale of the public-health crisis — dire warnings from public-officials notwithstanding. Indeed, the day Johnson made those comments, the United States was adding fewer than 1,000 cases per day, and the overall domestic death toll was well under 100 people.

    But much has changed in the ensuing months. The United States is now adding nearly 50,000 new cases per day, and COVID-19 has claimed the lives over 130,000 Americans.

    Imagine looking at these numbers and thinking that the United States “overreacted” to the crisis. Then imagine a political party putting the person who thinks the United States “overreacted” in charge of the Senate committee responsible for domestic security.

    Link

  35. says

    Some discussion of Mike Flynn’s latest decision to reside permanently in the bonkers QAnon camp was posted previously on this thread. I wanted to highlight this again.

    Chances are, you didn’t celebrate the 4th of July the same way Michael Flynn did.

    The former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn celebrated Independence Day by taking an oath — one that ended with a reference to the bonkers conspiracy theory QAnon. “Where we go one, we go all!” Flynn declared Saturday night, surrounded by a huddle of others repeating after him…. Accompanied by the hashtag “#taketheoath,” QAnon supporters repeat the same oath of office recited by newly elected lawmakers as a way to declare themselves “digital soldiers.”

    If you missed it, MSNBC’s Joy Reid aired footage from Flynn’s oath “ceremony” yesterday, and it’s as unsettling as you might imagine.

    Malcolm Nance is on that discussion panel. Nance says that Flynn “has lost it,” and that “he’s crazy.” Flynn also added a QAnon hashtag to his Twitter bio, and he has written several columns full of QAnon batshit bonkers bullshit.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the crackpot QAnon conspiracy theory, Vox had an explainer a while back, which is as good as any summary. The basic idea is that Donald Trump is secretly at war with nefarious forces of evil, including Democrats, Hollywood celebrities, the “deep state,” cannibals, and an underground ring of pedophiles that only adherents are aware of.

    As we recently discussed, this isn’t just the usual conspiratorial nonsense bubbling up from the right. It’s vastly weirder and more radical. Last year, the FBI went so far as to classify QAnon as a domestic-terror threat in an internal memo.

    And now Michael Flynn — who served as the White House national security advisor in 2017, before he was forced to resign in disgrace — has voluntarily posted a video of himself taking an oath in support of the bonkers theory, effectively declaring himself a “digital soldier” in support of the bizarre cause. […]

    It led Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum to raise a notable observation yesterday: “Apparently Flynn’s descent into madness, which started around 2014, is now complete. Thank God he’s nowhere near the levers of power at this point.”

    That certainly sounds about right. It’s striking to see Flynn go over the edge, especially given the heights he’d once reached, and his descent says something notable about the state of far-right politics, […]

    In late April, Trump told reporters that he was open to bringing Flynn back. Asked specifically if he might invite Flynn into his administration, the president replied, “I would certainly consider it, yeah. I would. I think he’s a fine man.”

    Two weeks later, Vice President Mike Pence added that he, too, would be on board with bringing Flynn back into government.

    Is this still the White House’s opinion? If Trump is re-elected, should we expect to see Flynn in a new position of power? If so, it makes his latest strange antics that much more relevant.

    Link

  36. says

    Lynna @ #63, they’re all tweeting about it in the same way, too.

    Steve Schmidt: “.@realDonaldTrump You can trust no one. If they are so smart how come you are the POTUS? They all talk about how crazy and inept you are. Your meetings are compromised. Whenever you meet with your political team and wherever outside groups gather Abe is there. @ProjectLincoln”

    George Conway: “.@realDonaldTrump:

    Some people—a lot of shrinks, in fact—say you’re paranoid.

    But in fact, even your own people are working to take you down.

    Everyone’s out to get you. Don’t trust them.”

  37. says

    Lynna @ #58, I agree. The segments weren’t up on YT yet when I checked this morning, but they are now:

    “Trump Family Separation Figures Move To Botched COVID-19 Response”:

    Rachel Maddow points out that HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Mike Pence press secretary Katie Miller had prominent roles in the Trump administration’s family separation scandal and are now integral to the Trump administration’s botched response to the coronavirus.

    “New Book Shows Depravity Of Trump Admin Family Separation Policy”:

    Rachel Maddow revisits the initial public awareness of the Trump administration’s most morally bankrupt policy, separating children from their parents at the Mexican border, and shares passages from the new book by MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff, Separated: Inside an American tragedy.

  38. says

    The US embassy in Moscow tweeted: “‘#Russia through the eyes of the media in 2020’ is a more current topic. Watching arrest after arrest of Russian journalists – it’s starting to look like a concerted campaign against #MediaFreedom. @mfa_russia”

    The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted back: “Mind your own business.”

  39. says

    What Trump said:

    “COVID-19 (China Virus) Death Rate PLUNGES From Peak In U.S.” A Tenfold Decrease In Mortality. The Washington Times @WashTimes Valerie Richardson. We have the lowest Mortality Rate in the World. The Fake News should be reporting these most important of facts, but they don’t!

    Commentary that debunks Trump’s lies:

    […] It’s pretty straightforward to compare COVID-19 mortality rates, and the United States isn’t close to the lowest in the world: Even accounting for our large population, we’ve done poorly.

    […] nearly 40 Americans have died of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, second worst in the world behind only the United Kingdom. […]

    Well, maybe Trump was just talking about recent COVID-19-related deaths — which would paint a much better picture than overall deaths. Out of those known to have the virus, a smaller proportion have died in recent weeks than overall.

    But still, even by that metric, he’s wrong.

    As the Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted Tuesday morning, at least 29 countries recorded fewer deaths as a percentage of total cases over the prior two weeks than the United States did.

    […] It’s certainly true that the case fatality ratio has gotten better with time, likely due to a combination of factors.

    For one thing, increased testing capacity means we’re now including many more people in our count of people sick with COVID-19, including so-called “asymptomatic” people and otherwise mild cases who have a very low risk of death. Also, as states have “reopened” their economies, younger people who are less likely to die of the virus have made up a larger share of newly confirmed cases.

    Treatment has also advanced with time, as has the capacity of emergency rooms and available PPE supplies.

    New York Times data from late March through June shows the case fatality ratio in the United States as a gently downward-sloping hill: That’s good news!

    Still, the White House and conservative pundits are spinning an overly optimistic version of this story — especially as the virus spikes in several states.

    Take the article Trump appeared to cite in his tweet about the false mortality statistic on Tuesday, “Coronavirus death rate keeps dropping even as alarm grows over summer surge,” by the Washington Times’ Valerie Richardson.

    Richardson noted what several others have about the death toll: According to a recent CDC update, “Mortality attributed to COVID-19 decreased compared to last week and is currently at the epidemic threshold but will likely increase as additional death certificates are processed.”

    Both parts of the sentence are important: COVID-19 mortality has decreased, likely for the reasons discussed above. But also, we don’t yet have a full picture.

    Public health officials have cautioned that this lag in death statistics could spell trouble. “We know deaths lag at least two weeks and can lag even more,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday. “Deaths always lag, considerably, behind cases,” Anthony Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease effort testified last month.

    […] The Washington Times reported that the good news about dropping mortality “has been all but lost amid the alarm over the summer surge of COVID-19 cases and talk about a second shutdown.”

    […] The optimism over the mortality rate also misses the bigger picture: According to public data compiled by Woldometer, just a handful of countries — Mexico, India, Brazil, Iran and Russia — have surpassed or are close to surpassing the United States’ daily death toll from the virus.

    Link

  40. says

    Matthew Gertz:

    Fox News last night: “Sweden was smart”

    NY Times today: “Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale… Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.”

    [Fox video and NYT link atl]

    “Per million people, Sweden has suffered 40 percent more deaths than the United States, 12 times more than Norway, seven times more than Finland and six times more than Denmark.”

    “In short, Sweden suffered a vastly higher death rate while failing to collect on the expected economic gains.”

    Pushing the Swedish model in April was foolhardy: [MMFA link]

    Doing it now is insane.

  41. says

    More delusional thinking from Team Trump:

    Donald Trump’s health and human services secretary, Alex Azar, basically mocked the concerns of teachers about whether schools can reopen without risking the teachers’ health Tuesday, saying: “Health care workers don’t get infected because they take appropriate precautions. They engage in social distancing, wear facial covering […] This can work. You can do all of this, there’s no reason schools have to be in any way any different.”

    More than 750 healthcare workers have likely died of COVID-19. That’s a far cry from “they don’t get infected because they take appropriate precautions.” Appropriate precautions are not always enough. Appropriate precautions are also not always possible […]

    Teachers point out that they already pay for basic school supplies year after year, and that their schools often lack adequate soap for normal hand-washing needs. Do we really think school systems that haven’t provided enough pens, paper, and soap for years are now suddenly going to come up with enough masks and hand sanitizer while facing coronavirus-related budget crises and, in many cases, having laid off teachers prior to bringing students back for what are supposed to be less crowded, socially distanced classrooms?

    Really? […]

    The thing that’s especially infuriating is that the well-being of kids and the well-being of teachers are being pitted against each other because schools have been an afterthought in planning. Because the government—the administration in which Azar is the highest ranking health official—didn’t get on top of the pandemic early; because those months of total shutdown were basically wasted as far as testing capacity and planning for a safe reopening; because all those bars have opened up, driven by Azar’s boss’ push for the appearance of economic health over public health […]

    Huge bailouts to private companies like airlines, layoffs for teachers—and then the teachers who are left are supposed to somehow figure out how to do even more than they were already doing. Schools should have been able to reopen in some serious capacity. It’s just that the U.S. has spent the last four months making it impossible for that to happen and now is pretending that isn’t the situation. […]

    Link

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/Lily_NEA/status/1280238911961300992

    Also from Lily Eskelsen Garcia:

    Our nation has about 1.4 million more K-12 students than we had in 2008. Yet, now we have 135,000 fewer educators than we had 12 years ago. The layoffs that could stem from pandemic-related budget cuts would worsen what is already a dire situation. We need the #HeroesAct!

  42. says

    From Mark Sumner: “Russian bounty story triggers action at White House—to find whistleblowers who leaked story.”

    Donald Trump’s silence over the Russian scheme to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan hasn’t been getting much press, displaced from the headlines by Trump’s own schemes for killing wholesale volumes of American civilians in America. But never let it be said that Trump can’t multitask. Trump can hate everyone who tries to inject any semblance of reality into the nation’s planning for the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump can hate everyone who spilled the beans on how he kept chatting up Vladimir Putin months after he was aware that Putin had [put out contracts to kill] Americans.

    […] Trump is engaged in an internal investigation to locate and punish the people who let slip both the knowledge of Russia’s efforts to buy American deaths in Afghanistan, and the people who keep making it clear that Trump knew about the scheme for over a year. […]

    Whistleblowers of any sort have long been on Trump’s naughty list. His own twisted sense of morality requires that personal loyalty to Trump trumps all other concerns—even when Trump is in the midst of plans that could harm large numbers of people or the nation. Even when he’s doing something purely illegal. Trump made it clear that he was perfectly willing to breech both the spirit and the letter of whistleblower protection laws during his impeachment (Reminder: Donald Trump was impeached!) and the purge of inspectors general shows that Trump is out to get the tattletales, no matter where they live. […]

    [snipped examples from the past]

    And now even more of Trump’s White House is involved in investigating those scoundrels at … Trump’s White House, this time in an effort to catch whoever let slip the Russian bounty scheme, and then kept making if obvious that Trump knew. Because he did.

    As a quick reminder:

    Trump was personally briefed on the Russian operation by John Bolton over a year ago.

    Trump received updates on the scheme at multiple points, including a February 27 daily brief.

    Trump has called Putin at least five times since March, with the content of those phone calls unknown.

    Trump has made repeated demands, despite knowing that Russia was both conducting a proxy war against American forces and engaged in an effort to thwart peace negotiations in Afghanistan, to have Russia readmitted to the G7, and threatened to invite Putin personally if other nations did not agree.

    […] Again and again, members of Trump’s staff have spoken up to denounce his policies after they’ve been removed from office—and often after they’ve secured a book contract so they can collect a check for describing just how dysfunctional things are within Trump’s regime. But none of them seem to be willing to step forward openly and immediately when seeing Trump engaged in behavior harmful to the nation.

    There should always be whistleblower protections, and the information brought forward by these women and men is invaluable. But the fear with which insiders continue to regard Trump is frustrating specifically because Trump mistakes that fear for respect.

    Link

  43. says

    From Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms:

    The irony of that is that I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no. But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard.

  44. says

    Fauci calls focus on lower coronavirus death rate, touted by Trump, “a false narrative.”

    Washington Post link

    The nation’s top infectious-disease expert on Tuesday called recent focus on the coronavirus’s decreasing mortality rate in the United States a “false narrative,” while […] Trump continued to tout those numbers on Twitter.

    “It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” said Anthony S. Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, during a news conference. He said that the country has gotten better at treating people and that the average age of virus patients is dropping.

    Trump has called “99 percent” of coronavirus cases “totally harmless,” contradicting health experts, even as rising new infections and hospitalizations in many states prompt some alarmed officials to roll back reopening. […]

  45. says

    Republican Senators who’ve now said they won’t be attending the Republican National Covidtion in Jacksonville:

    Chuck Grassley
    Lamar Alexander
    Susan Collins
    Lisa Murkowski

  46. says

    More details related to Mary Trump’s book:

    […] According to Mary Trump, Donald’s success was simply based on the fact that he was [a mediocre enough sociopath] to fit into his father’s plans. “[…] his personality served his father’s purpose. That’s what sociopaths do: they co-opt others and use them toward their own ends—ruthlessly and efficiently, with no tolerance for dissent or resistance.”

    Mary Trump, who is an actual clinical psychologist, also explains that while her uncle has all of the clinical traits of someone with narcissist personality disorder, he is even more troubled than that, and a comprehensive breakdown of his mental health landscape would be virtually impossible to achieve.

    Needless to say, Mary Trump writes what we all know to be true, without money and a corrupt and rigged system, someone like Donald Trump would likely be in a situation that required lots of professional and government-aided help: “Donald has been institutionalized for most of his adult life, so there is no way to know how he would thrive, or even survive, on his own in the real world.”

    The most important issue facing Donald is that his entire life has been a fake news myth-making endeavor. He’s been a terrible businessman, a terrible “ladies man,” a crap parent, a boring talk show host, and now a truly incompetent and dangerous world leader. What Mary Trump’s book does more than anything is remind Trump of his mediocrity, and it hits Trump in the place that hurts him the most—the public’s imagination.

    The most important issue facing the United States—if not the world—is also contained in this tell-all tome: we live in a world that not only is not a meritocracy, but it is designed to allow terrible people to rise into outrageous positions of power, with little to no oversight and zero justice.

    It is a story of our country’s well-known, but not spoken about, caste system, created by income inequality and our current economic and health crisis is the proof-positive of how few people for which this system works. When the going gets tough, the rich and people like Trump buy their way forward at the expense of hundreds, thousands, and millions of other people’s lives.

    Link

  47. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just had a phone call from a pollster, but they were really upset when I wouldn’t give my name. I don’t want to be on anybody’s list. They have my phone number, and I’m the only one living at the phone number. At that point it was good-bye and hang up.

  48. says

    Stanford, where Michael McFaul works, has video of today’s hearing in which McFaul was one of four expert witnesses:

    The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment held a public hearing on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, in response to a U.S. intelligence report that accused Russia of paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

    The hearing, “Exposing and Demanding Accountability for Kremlin Crimes Abroad,” included testimony by Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

  49. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Thousands of people have demonstrated against the Serbian president’s announcement that a lockdown will be reintroduced after the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll.

    Police fired tear gas as the protesters, some chanting “Resignation! Resignation!” gathered in front of the parliament building in Belgrade. Some briefly managed to enter by force but were pushed back by riot police.

    The protesters responded by throwing flares, stones, bottles and eggs at the police, the Associated Press has reported.

    Earlier, the president Aleksandar Vučić called the virus situation in the Serbian capital of Belgrade alarming and critical as the city’s hospitals neared their capacity limits.

    He said the government would reimpose a curfew as of Friday. He said it will probably last from 6pm on Friday until 5am on Monday (CEST). He also said the groups of no more than five people will be allowed together.

    Many blame the autocratic Serbian president for lifting the previous lockdown measures just so he would cement his grip on power after parliamentary elections. He has denied those claims.

  50. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Been thinking bout my experience in #81. I’ve been answering political polls for almost 50 years, and that was the first time I can remember where my name, not just my demographics, was asked for. It set off my scamdar…

  51. says

    Guardian – “Warning of serious brain disorders in people with mild coronavirus symptoms”:

    Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned.

    Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient’s first and main symptom.

    The cases, published in the journal Brain, revealed a rise in a life-threatening condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), as the first wave of infections swept through Britain. At UCL’s Institute of Neurology, Adem cases rose from one a month before the pandemic to two or three per week in April and May. One woman, who was 59, died of the complication.

    A dozen patients had inflammation of the central nervous system, 10 had brain disease with delirium or psychosis, eight had strokes and a further eight had peripheral nerve problems, mostly diagnosed as Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune reaction that attacks the nerves and causes paralysis. It is fatal in 5% of cases.

    “We’re seeing things in the way Covid-19 affects the brain that we haven’t seen before with other viruses,” said Michael Zandi, a senior author on the study and a consultant at the institute and University College London Hospitals NHS foundation trust.

    “What we’ve seen with some of these Adem patients, and in other patients, is you can have severe neurology, you can be quite sick, but actually have trivial lung disease,” he added.

    “Biologically, Adem has some similarities with multiple sclerosis, but it is more severe and usually happens as a one-off. Some patients are left with long-term disability, others can make a good recovery.”

    The cases add to concerns over the long-term health effects of Covid-19, which have left some patients breathless and fatigued long after they have cleared the virus, and others with numbness, weakness and memory problems.

    “We want clinicians around the world to be alert to these complications of coronavirus,” Zandi said. He urged physicians, GPs and healthcare workers with patients with cognitive symptoms, memory problems, fatigue, numbness, or weakness, to discuss the case with neurologists.

    “The message is not to put that all down to the recovery, and the psychological aspects of recovery,” he said. “The brain does appear to be involved in this illness.”

    The full range of brain disorders caused by Covid-19 may not have been picked up yet, because many patients in hospitals are too sick to examine in brain scanners or with other procedures. “What we really need now is better research to look at what’s really going on in the brain,” Zandi said.

    One concern is that the virus could leave a minority of the population with subtle brain damage that only becomes apparent in years to come. This may have happened in the wake of the 1918 flu pandemic, when up to a million people appeared to develop brain disease….

  52. says

    Guardian – “‘They find you and shoot you’: Chechens in fear after third Kadyrov critic killed”:

    Chechens in Europe have expressed renewed fears for their safety, after a strident critic of the Kremlin-backed Chechnya leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, was shot dead in Vienna on Saturday.

    “Everyone is scared. We all left to find safety and forget about home, and they find you and shoot you like a dog,” [how I hate this expression – SC] said a Chechen man who has received asylum in Austria and asked to remain anonymous, shortly after attending a wake for the dead man in Vienna on Monday afternoon.

    Saturday’s attack was the latest in a string of brazen killings of critics of Kadyrov, or Chechens with a background in the anti-Russian insurgency, in locations across Europe. It was the fourth violent attack on Chechens living inside the European Union in the past year, three of which ended in murder.

    Austrian police have named the victim as 43-year-old “Martin B”, but Austrian media, as well as friends and associates, identified him as Mamikhan Umarov, who was widely known online as “Anzor from Vienna”. He posted foul-mouthed tirades against Kadyrov on YouTube.

    Umarov was shot three times on Saturday near a shopping centre on the outskirts of Vienna. Austrian police later apprehended a suspect, also a Chechen man, in the town of Linz. Another Chechen is also in custody. Both have lived in Austria for many years, according to prosecutors. A spokesman for the prosecutors’ office said it had not yet been established whether there was a political motive behind the killing.

    The Chechens targeted in Europe appear to break down into two broad categories: some are outspoken anti-Kadyrov bloggers, while others have a history of supporting the insurgency, which morphed over the years from an independence movement into a more Islamist organisation that used terrorist methods.

    In the latter cases, such as the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin last August, Russian federal forces may be involved. Khangoshvili, a Georgian citizen of Chechen origin who had fought against Russian forces in the early 2000s, was shot dead in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten. German authorities accused the Russian government of being behind the hit and expelled two Russian diplomats.

    In cases where the victims are noisy critics of Kadyrov, the evidence trail seems to point towards Grozny rather than Moscow. In January, 44-year-old blogger Imran Aliev, known as Old Mansur, was murdered in a hotel room in Lille. He had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck.

    A few weeks later, the well-known Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov [was] reportedly attacked in Sweden, but was able to overpower his attacker. He posted a video online of him standing over the bloodied body of his assailant. “They have my mother,” the man said, when questioned. A year before, the head of the Chechen parliament, Magomed Daudov, known as Kadyrov’s right-hand man, had publicly declared a “blood feud” against Abdurakhmanov.

    On Monday, Abdurakhmanov dedicated an episode of his popular video blog to the murder of Umarov. “Nobody was surprised by this. It angered us, it saddened us, but it didn’t surprise us. Everyone understands clearly why he was killed and who is responsible,” he said.

    More at the link.

    In yesterday’s House hearing (@ #82 above), Vladimir Kara-Murza discussed the involvement of Kadyrov and his loyalist troops in Russian domestic oppression and international crimes, including this murder. He said attention needs to be paid to money Kadyrov is hiding in the Middle East, particularly the UAE. HBO has a documentary film, Welcome to Chechnya, about Kadyrov’s persecution of LGBT people. I haven’t seen it, but it’s received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

  53. says

    Guardian – “US anti-abortion groups received millions in federal Covid-19 aid”:

    Christian anti-abortion lobbying organizations received millions in taxpayer-backed forgivable loans from the US government’s coronavirus aid program, even as lawmakers demanded the nation’s largest abortion provider return federal loans.

    Pro-reproductive rights groups have also received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Planned Parenthood, America’s largest network of abortion and sexual health clinics, received $80m in PPP loans.

    However, the government agency that oversees the program later tried to claw back loans from Planned Parenthood after Republican criticism, whereas Christian conservative groups were not subject to such efforts.

    “What we’re seeing with this is a lightyear leap into direct government financing of major Christian right political entities on a scale we’ve never seen before,” said Frederick Clarkson, a senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, an expert on the American religious right.

    The discrepancy in how Planned Parenthood and Christian anti-abortion groups were treated after they received coronavirus stimulus money, “is absolutely a double standard”, Clarkson said. “That’s an egregious violation of ethical norms.”

    A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the vice-president of government relations, Jacqueline Ayers, called the clawback, “a clear political attack on Planned Parenthood health centers and access to reproductive healthcare”.

    Among the Christian right organizations that received Cares Act funding were the American Family Association (AFA), an influential conservative Christian group which opposes abortion and LGBTQ+ rights.

    The AFA has been described as a hate group by tracking experts at the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the past, AFA has described homosexuality as, “a poor and dangerous choice” and blamed the Holocaust on gay people.

    The American Center for Law & Justice, an anti-abortion group led by Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow, also received funding.

    Pay to the ACLJ’s staff of attorneys could amount for a large proportion of their PPP loan. The group’s senior litigator alone earns more than $514,000 a year. He is one of a dozen key employees, most of whom earn six-figure salaries.

    Neither the AFA nor the ACLJ responded to the Guardian’s request for comment.

  54. says

    Here’s a link to the July 8 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Israel is confronting a resurgence of coronavirus by putting a West Bank settlement into lockdown, while its controversial tracking system comes under fire for reportedly putting thousands into quarantine unnecessarily.

    Israel was praised for quickly tackling the pandemic when it emerged earlier this year, imposing strict stay-home orders, but there has been a spike in infections following the easing of restrictions.

    More than 1,300 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Israeli over the past day, while there have been 343 deaths in total.

    The increase prompted Israel to last month reimpose the tracking system administered by its domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, but its accuracy in ordering people to self-isolate is now being questioned.

    Israelis found no way of appealing against messages saying they had come into contact with someone with coronavirus, when they had not actually been in the same place, Haaretz newspaper reported.

    A Shin Bet spokesperson did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request to comment on the apparent failings, which are expected to be discussed between security and government officials later on Wednesday.

    The Israeli government has started reimposing measures, such as shutting gyms and bars, and on Wednesday made the settlement of Beitar Illit a “restricted zone” for a week over an outbreak of the virus there.

    The move shutters businesses and limits access to the town, home to around 60,000 people, a decision the mayor said was made without him being consulted.

    “I simply don’t understand where sanity has disappeared to,” the mayor, Meir Rubinstein, told Army Radio.

    Rather than cut off the settlement, a measure that has also been imposed on other Israeli towns and neighbourhoods, the mayor wants coronavirus patients to be quarantined in hotels as authorities have done in the past.

    Settlements are home to 450,000 Israelis and are viewed as illegal under international law. More than 3 million Palestinians live in the rest of the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority re-imposed a lockdown on Friday.

    About 400 cases have been registered among Palestinians in the West Bank over the past day, with at least 18 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

  55. says

    “Tucker Carlson says masks and social distancing ‘have no basis of any kind in science. It’s like a kind of bizarre health theater’.”

    Tucker Carlson in late March: ‘Of course, masks work. Everyone knows that. Dozens of research papers have proved it. In South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the rest of Asia — where coronavirus has been kept under control — masks were key’.”

    Carlson has also kept up his stomach-turning attacks on Sen. Tammy Duckworth. I’m sure it’s still possible for them to sink lower, but I don’t want to think about how. (In 2011, incidentally, in Mount Vernon, IL, the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a statue Carlson might find of interest. It’s of…Duckworth.)

  56. says

    Less than an hour until Supreme Court opinions.

    These are the five pending cases (from #82 on the previous thread):

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    It’s unknown whether they’ll get to all five, or if not which of the five they’ll rule on today. In related news, “Chief Justice Roberts was hospitalized after a fall last month spokeswoman for the court confirmed to the Washington Post. According to the story, doctors believe he was dehydrated.” It happened at a club, and we’re hearing about it today for some reason.

  57. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The coronavirus pandemic is showing the limits of “fact-denying populism,” the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has told the European parliament, as she set out her country’s plans for its six-month presidency of the European Union, the Associated Press reports.

    Germany took over the task of chairing EU meetings on 1 July and faces the challenge of seeking a compromise on a coronavirus recovery fund for the 27-nation bloc as well as the EU’s budget for the next seven years as the continent faces up to the task of pulling out of a deep recession.

    “The depth of the economic decline demands that we hurry,” Merkel told MEPs. “We must waste no time — only the weakest would suffer from that. I very much hope that we can reach an agreement this summer. That will require a lot of readiness to compromise from all sides — and from you too.”

    “We must not be naive: In many member states, opponents of Europe are just waiting to misuse the crisis for their ends,” she said. “We must show them all where the added value of cooperation in the European Union lies. We must show that a return to nationalism means not more, but less control.”

    Without naming any countries or politicians, Merkel pointed to cautionary examples elsewhere.

    “We are seeing at the moment that the pandemic can’t be fought with lies and disinformation, and neither can it be with hatred and agitation,” she said.

    “Fact-denying populism is being shown its limits,” she added to applause. “In a democracy, facts and transparency are needed. That distinguishes Europe [?], and Germany will stand up for it during its presidency.”

  58. says

    Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Written by Alito. 7-2. Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissent.

    “The First Amendment’s Religion Clauses foreclose the adjudication of [the teachers’] employment-discrimination claims.” Lawsuits are barred.

    (I’m quoting from SCOTUSblog.)

  59. says

    “Although these teachers were not given the title of ‘minister’ and have less religious training than” the teacher in Hosanna-Tabor, an earlier case involving the ministerial exception, “we hold that their cases fall within the same rule that dictated our decision in Hosanna-Tabor. The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission.”

    “Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”

    (SCOTUSblog is extremely helpful.)

  60. says

    “We hold that the Departments had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.”

    It’s insane that people’s bosses have any say whatsoever in their health care, and that needs to come to an end.

  61. says

    “The vote is 7-2. Kagan has an opinion concurring in the judgment, joined by Breyer. Ginsburg has a dissenting opinion, joined by Sotomayor.”

    They’ve announced that tomorrow will be the last day for opinions.

  62. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC: “I don’t think there was a single person from Trump’s entire life who could point to a single admirable quality or kind act. Or even just anything that made him sound like something other than a selfish asshole.”

    And thus a perfect representative of today’s Republican party.

  63. Akira MacKenzie says

    @98-101

    One rule for the Church, another rule for the rest. Any outrage is legal as long as it’s in the name of “God.”

  64. says

    Trump is tweeting delusional rants:

    In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!

    I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!

    Economy and Jobs are growing MUCH faster than anyone (except me!) expected. Job growth is biggest in history. China Virus Mortality Rate is among the LOWEST of any country. Shaping up for a good third quarter, and a great next year! NASDAQ at new record high, 401k’s way up!!!!

  65. says

    Mark Joseph Stern:

    Today is a good day for those who believe that religious employers, from churches to private corporations, should be allowed to impose their beliefs on employees, even when doing so inflicts real harm. The court’s expansion of (what it deems) religious liberty is breathtaking.

    SCOTUS’ decisions in Morrissey-Berru and Espinoza mean that (1) states that fund secular private schools are also obligated to fund religious schools, and (2) states generally can’t enforce their civil rights laws against the religious schools they’re forced to fund.

  66. tomh says

    @ SC #92
    Only reason we’re hearing about Roberts’ health is that the Washington Post got a tip about it. Otherwise, never would have heard.

  67. says

    Sarah Boxer:

    From @jimsciutto: Lt. Col Alexander Vindman is retiring from the Army, after he determined that his future in the armed forces “will forever be limited” due to political retaliation by the President and his allies, his lawyer tells @CNN.

    The WH has been attempting to block Vindman’s upcoming promotion to the rank of colonel. It is “absurd and frightening” for WH to be involved in that, source says. At one point a senior officer quipped about sending him to “man a radar station in Alaska.”

  68. says

    CNN – “Exclusive: Vindman to retire from military. His lawyer blames White House ‘campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation'”:

    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry, is retiring from the US Army after more than 21 years of military service because he determined that his future in the armed forces “will forever be limited” due to political retaliation by the President and his allies, his lawyer told CNN Wednesday.

    Vindman has endured a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” spearheaded by the President following his testimony in the impeachment inquiry last year, according to his attorney, Amb. David Pressman.

    News of Vindman’s retirement marks the culmination of a months-long saga dating back to his public testimony in November.

    Trump fired Vindman as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council in February and also ousted his twin brother who also played a key role in impeachment proceedings while serving at the White House as an NSC lawyer.

    In recent weeks, the controversy has centered around allegations that the White House was attempting to block Vindman’s upcoming military promotion to the rank of colonel.

    “The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers,” Pressman said in a statement to CNN.

    “These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it,” he added, noting that Vindman “did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies.”

    Top Pentagon leaders, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, have insisted that Vindman is not being targeted for political reasons, but a source familiar with his decision said military officials have communicated to Vindman that the White House has sought to become involved in the promotion process.

    In response, Vindman was told that that there have been discussions within the Department of Defense about sending his name forward on a “list of one” or holding his name back until after the election to avoid impacting the promotions of other service members, the source said.

    It is “absurd and frightening” for the White House to be involved in promotions at this level, the source added.

    Ultimately, Vindman decided to retire from the military rather than attending the National War College, which was his next planned assignment, after speaking with senior Army officials who made clear that there were forces working against his advancement within the military.

    Specifically, Vindman was told by senior Army officials that he would no longer be deployable in his area of expertise, which includes Ukraine, the source familiar with the situation told CNN.

    He was also told by senior officers he would need a “rehabilitative assignment” even if he had opted to attend the National War College, an option he had been considering before Wednesday’s announcement, the source added.

    In one case, a senior officer quipped about sending him to “man a radar station in Alaska,” the source said.

    The White House and Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment….

  69. blf says

    Auditor blasts Facebook’s handsoff policy on Trump posts:

    […]
    Facebook Inc’s decisions to allow controversial posts by US President [sic] Donald Trump established a “terrible precedent” that could allow the platform to be “weaponized to suppress voting”, an external civil rights audit has found.

    The report, which Facebook commissioned two years ago, said the social network has not done enough to protect users from discrimination, falsehoods and incitement to violence, adding to pressure on the company in the midst of an advertiser boycott.

    […]

    “Many in the civil rights community have become disheartened, frustrated and angry after years of engagement where they implored the company to do more to advance equality and fight discrimination, while also safeguarding free expression,” the auditors wrote.

    […]

    The auditors expressed “significant concern” about the company’s steadfast commitment to protecting a particular definition of free expression, even where that has meant allowing harmful and divisive rhetoric that amplifies hate speech and threatens civil rights.

    Civil rights group Muslim Advocates, which helped push for Facebook to have an audit, said on Wednesday the report confirmed the platform helps enable anti-Muslim violence.

    […]

    “Allowing the Trump posts to remain establishes a terrible precedent that may lead other politicians and non-politicians to spread false information about legal voting methods, which would effectively allow the platform to be weaponized to suppress voting,” the auditors said.

    Facebook commissioned the audit in 2018 as part of its response to a range of criticisms over issues such as data privacy, voter suppression, incitement of violence and a lack of transparency in political advertising. The audit was led by Laura Murphy, a former director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative office.

    […]

    Organisers of the advertising boycott met for more than an hour via video conference with Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and [COO Sheryl] Sandberg on Tuesday. After the meeting, activists said they saw “no commitment to action” from the company.

    And a Grauniad editorial on farcebork, Facebook and democracy: real and present danger:

    […]
    In every political debate since Facebook began to dominate democracy, the company has placed itself on the wrong side of history. The social media firm cannot be reformed from within because its business model profits from hosting bomb-throwing circuses of hate, humbug and hogwash. The platform harvests users’ personal data to algorithmically recommend content but can’t seem to help steering people towards vilifying one another while keeping their attention. It is not good for society, but it is good for Facebook.

    That apparently is fine for the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who is worth $85bn. Consider the latest ugly episode in the firm’s life. After some of the world’s biggest brands boycotted Facebook over its refusal to ban racist and violent content, the company reached for the usual bromide of reassurance that the matter was being taken seriously. Internally it was a very different story. The boycotters, Mr Zuckerberg said, would be back and his company was not going to change our policies … because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue.

    […] The firm’s hands-off approach means it won’t drain its swamp of racism, misogyny and conspiracy. In a speech last October, Mr Zuckerberg had controversially signalled that Facebook’s interests aligned with Donald Trump’s. The Facebook founder said it’s not right to censor politicians. Mr Trump has been notably softer on Facebook than its rivals.

    […]

  70. says

    The WH is now saying they’re going to release their own guidelines for opening schools because the CDC’s are too restrictive. This is absurd. I honestly don’t see how this situation, with a madman in the White House, can continue.

  71. blf says

    Brazil: Bolsonaro reportedly uses homophobic slur to mock masks (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Top broadsheet says president [sic†] taunted staffers wearing masks to protect against Covid-19 by claiming they were for fairies

    […]

    The Folha de São Paulo, a leading broadsheet, claimed Brazil’s far-right leader had baited presidential staff who were using protective masks, claiming such equipment was coisa de viado (a homophobic slur that roughly translates as for fairies).

    Bolsonaro is a longstanding enemy of Brazil’s LGBTQ+ community and during three decades in politics has made no secret of his homophobia.

    I have {parliamentary} immunity to say: yes, I’m homophobic — and very proud of it, he said in one filmed interview during his seven-term stint as a congressman.

    In a 2013 interview with Stephen Fry — which the British actor later called “one of the most chilling confrontations I’ve ever had with a human being” — Bolsonaro alleged homosexual fundamentalists were brainwashing heterosexual children so they could satisfy them sexually in the future.

    […]

    The Folha de São Paulo reported that despite Brazil’s intensifying coronavirus crisis — which has caused nearly 67,000 deaths and 1.6 million infections — Bolsonaro insisted on greeting visitors with a handshake and shunned masks.

    Realizing such behaviour discombobulated guests, Bolsonaro dismissed fears of contamination as nonsense.

    On Tuesday [… h]e said: I confess I thought I’d caught it way back. I’m the president of the republic and I’m on the front line. I don’t shy away from my responsibilities, nor will I step back from the people.

    Many Brazilians wish he would.

    […]

    That last quote suggests — to the extremely limited extent one can trust anything he says — he was infected previously (as widely speculated).

      † Bolsonaro has the same qualifications, aptitude, and qualiities for President as hair furor has — less than none-at-all, so like hair furor, his quoted babblings are always set in eejit quotes, and the description of his position is laughable and tragic, hence the mandatory sarcastic “[sic]”.

  72. blf says

    Not exactly political, but an argument I’ve had for as long as I can recall  since and probably in University, if not before — to the extent I try to no longer use the work, irregardless of its history, etc. First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, To the distress of wordists, a dictionary has confirmed the lexical veracity of ‘irregardless’ (cartoon): “I use it whenever I can primarily because it gives people the massive pip with ever an outcry and miffled disgruntlement”.

    As an aside, I checked the Grauniad style guide, which says nothing at all on the matter. Merriam-Webster puts it quite succinctly:

    Is irregardless a word?

    Yes. It may not be a word that you like, or a word that you would use in a term paper, but irregardless certainly is a word. It has been in use for well over 200 years, employed by a large number of people across a wide geographic range and with a consistent meaning. That is why we, and well-nigh every other dictionary of modern English, define this word. Remember that a definition is not an endorsement of a word’s use.

  73. says

    Just in: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who blocked more than 1,000 US military promotions over the Vindman case, slams Defense Secretary Esper for failing ‘to protect a decorated combat Veteran against a vindictive Commander in Chief’ after impeachment witness retired from Army today.

    Duckworth says she will keep a partial hold on the nominees in place ‘until the Secretary of Defense provides a transparent accounting of this disgraceful situation’. Sr Defense Official said today that Esper had OK’d promotion list with Vindman’s name that was to be sent to WH”

  74. says

    Trouble coming down the pike for Senator Susan Collins, trouble Collins has earned:

    In Maine, U.S. Senate hopeful Sara Gideon (D) raised $9 million in the second quarter, which is an enormous amount for Maine, and more than double the amount raised by her opponent, incumbent Sen. Susan Collins (R), over the same period.

  75. says

    After Trump’s directive, churches become key source of virus cases

    Seven weeks ago, Trump deemed places of worship to be “essential” workplaces that had to be re-opened immediately. This was clearly unwise.

    In mid-May, Donald Trump’s political advisers were concerned about the president’s slipping support among religious conservatives. Those concerns prompted a strange White House event intended to address the political problem.

    The president stood in the Rose Garden and announced that his administration had deemed places of worship to be “essential” workplaces that had to be re-opened immediately. Trump added that governors had to follow his directive on worship services or he would “override” them.

    None of this made any sense. The White House had no authority in this area, and administration officials hadn’t thought through any of the public-health implications of such an announcement. […]

    Seven weeks later, the New York Times took note of how coronavirus infections have spread by way of houses of worship.

    Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed. The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri. It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.

    Alas, this isn’t an entirely new problem. The week Trump announced his directive, several churches that tried to re-open too early were forced to re-close when congregants and church leaders alike were infected with the coronavirus.

    CNBC also reported in May that the CDC “tracked a cluster of coronavirus cases in rural Arkansas back to a church pastor and his wife, indicating that faith-based organizations and events could be sources of COVID-19 transmission.”

    The Times’ report reinforced the unfortunate fact that the problem has spread in the wake of those incidents.

    Stepping back, there is a larger context to keep in mind: as was clear yesterday, Trump is pushing for broad re-openings throughout American society, without any apparent regard for public-health consequences.

    Given the president’s recent track record, maybe now would be a good time to disregard his politically motivated demands?

  76. says

    Trump is deliberately making things worse, and those who remain at the White House know it

    From Mark Sumner:

    Dr. Anthony Fauci has been one of the few White House voices trusted by the nation to deliver serious scientific information about the COVID-19 crisis. […] what is emerging from the White House is a stream of self-praise, actions certain to make things worse, and a very deliberate message that experts, like Fauci, should not be trusted.

    As Fauci has sought to deliver some sense of the danger facing the nation, Donald Trump has repeatedly undercut that message. […] Trump has intentionally limited Fauci’s appearances before the public. With the White House determined to ignore the mounting crisis until people simply become inured to death on a mass scale, it’s time for Fauci to realize that he has accomplished everything he can through trying to stay, even marginally, in the fold. His greatest value is as a public face for pandemic response, telling Americans the truth about what’s coming and what should be done. It’s time for Dr. Anthony Fauci to tell the whole, raw truth, and to do so loudly and frequently. Even if that means defying Trump’s orders.

    On Tuesday, […] In an interview on Fox, Trump openly stated that he disagreed with Fauci, then he went on to disparage Fauci’s knowledge of how to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Well, I think we are in a good place,” said Trump. “I disagree with him. Dr. Fauci said don’t wear masks, and now he says wear them.” That wasn’t the end of Trump’s efforts to dismiss Fauci’s knowledge. “And he said numerous things. Don’t close off China. Don’t ban China. I did it anyway. I didn’t listen to my experts and I banned China. We would have been in much worse shape.”

    This isn’t the first time Trump has blamed his failure to address the pandemic on others. Back in April, Trump claimed that “very good experts” told him that COVID-19 “would never affect the United States.” At that time, Trump wasn’t accusing Fauci by name. Now he is.

    If the evidence suggested that, even as Trump continued to use him as a punching bag, Fauci was being given the resources and freedom to direct a government response to the virus, his remaining within the White House might make some sense. However, that is clearly not the case. The handful of federally sponsored testing locations have been closed. No more are coming. The effort to trace cases has overwhelmed the states. Trump is making no effort to assist. The need to wear masks could not be clearer. Trump is almost single-handedly wrecking that effort. […]

    It’s obvious that Trump sees the COVID-19 crisis as yet another opportunity to operate through the shock doctrine. He has no intention of making things better because he is not interested in making things better. Instead, the White House is now viewing the crisis as an opportunity. An opportunity to provide even greater power to ICE and to limit all types of immigration. [See comment 22] An opportunity to crush public education between impossible demands. An opportunity to push state and local budgets and infrastructure to the brink; to leave every form of public assistance starved for funds and facing overwhelming demand; to deliberately spark a crisis in evictions and foreclosures.

    […] Fauci is perhaps the one person whose vocal break with Trump might still be heard. Every day that he remains, the value of his voice is diminished. He can stand up now, call out the failings of the White House response, demand that Congress move to install a strong centralized program of testing and case management, state clearly the need for a national mask mandate, insist that no school be opened unless the area meets strict guidelines, make obvious the need to better protect healthcare workers and essential workers of all types. Or not.

    Dr. Fauci can break with the White House and deliberately oppose the effort underway by Donald Trump to not just refuse to act, but to exacerbate the crisis. Or he can remain a prop at Trump’s side; someone to be trotted out for the occasional appearance, but whose knowledge and evidence is brushed off without a thought. He cannot have it both ways.

  77. says

    Seriously.

    Perhaps the Lincoln Project or someone could make an ad mixing clips of Gidley, Dobbs, and the like with those of cult members and people in Communist dictatorships talking about their leaders.

  78. says

    Weapons-grade stupidity: <a href=”https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/7/8/1959059/–STOP-GETTING-TESTED-GOP-lawmaker-gives-Ohio-residents-dangerous-COVID-19-advice>‘STOP GETTING TESTED’: GOP lawmaker gives Ohio residents dangerous COVID-19 advice

    An Ohio lawmaker is using conspiracy theories to justify giving potentially dangerous advice to his constituents. “Are you tired of living in a dictatorship yet,” GOP Rep. Nino Vitale asked Tuesday in a Facebook post. “This is what happens when people go crazy and get tested. STOP GETTING TESTED!”

    Vitale went on to claim COVID-19 testing is “giving the government an excuse to claim something is happening that is not happening at the magnitude they say it is happening. Have you noticed they never talk about deaths anymore, just cases,” he said. “And they never talk about recoveries. They just keep adding to numbers they have been feeding us from over 3 months ago!”

    Vitale, who is up for reelection in November, was responding to an order that Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday, which requires residents in seven counties to wear face coverings in public. The counties identified—Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery, and Trumbull—were selected because officials have determined there is a “very high risk” of “exposure and spread” in those areas. […]

    Ohio has reported 57,956 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,927 related deaths […] Ohio’s death toll rivals that of new COVID-19 epicenters like Texas, Arizona, and Florida. In fact, Florida is the only state of the three with more reported COVID-19 deaths than Ohio. Florida has reported 3,778 COVID-19 deaths. Texas has 2,655, and Arizona has 1,810, according to the CDC.

    DeWine acknowledged in his news release that expert recommendations of wearing masks, along with social distancing and limited interactions with others, can help protect communities. “It has been, and remains, a very strong recommendation that I urge all Ohioans to continue doing even if you are not in a red-alert (very high exposure) county,” he said.

  79. says

    “Dear God, The CDC Just Caved To Trump’s Ass-Whining AGAIN.”

    Wonkette link

    They did it again. Donald Trump whined like a screaming bunker baby, and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was once known as the top health organization in the entire world, is caving, and will change its recommendations on how to safely reopen schools. Because Trump doesn’t care what happens to your children or their teachers.

    If you remember, this is where we started our day […]:

    I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!

    And apparently “meet with them!!!” he did. The announcement about the CDC de-balling its recommendations because the president is having a tantrum came from Vice President Mike Pence […]

    The Washington Post reports:

    Citing Trump’s concern that the guidance might be “too tough,” Pence said that the CDC would issue additional recommendations starting next week that would provide “more clarity” and stressed that the guidelines should not supplant the judgment of local officials.

    “We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don’t open,” Pence said. “I think that every American, every American knows that we can safely reopen our schools. . . . We want, as the president said this morning, to make sure that what we’re doing doesn’t stand in the way of doing that.”

    Holy fuck. And deja vu all over again, because just a couple months ago, in May, they did the same damn thing. First, they weren’t allowed to publish the document they’d prepared with careful guidelines for how states and cities should reopen, which had been approved by CDC Director Robert Redfield weeks before.

    Turns out the White House had killed it, because, as Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, they were “too prescriptive.” […] They at last released some weak-sauce watered-down guidelines, but we’re pretty sure Trump probably didn’t like those either.

    And now here we are again!

    They don’t want no stinkin’ CDC in there, giving schools actual recommendations from actual doctors and scientists, to keep actual kids from getting infected and either getting sick/dying themselves, or taking it home to kill Nana. That would interfere with Donald Trump’s big yooge re-election plans! Because we know at this point, based on all available information, that the only thing Trump cares about is getting re-elected. He doesn’t care if you die, whether from a pandemic in America or a Russian bullet in Afghanistan. He doesn’t care if millions of Americans are left with debilitating conditions, even after they “beat” coronavirus.

    He just doesn’t give a shit.

    All he knows is that an America where the schools are closed for months on end reflects poorly on him (AND IT FUCKING SHOULD) and hurts his chances of having another term as Dear Leader.

    At the same briefing where Pence made those remarks, CDC Director Redfield tried to pretend like nothing was going on:

    Redfield said he recognized that “there is a variety of unique circumstances for different schools and that the additional guidance would reflect that.

    “It would be personally very disappointing to me and I know my agency if we saw that individuals were using these guidelines as a rationale for not reopening our schools,” he added.

    Hate it when people use CDC recommendations to come to an informed decision that conflicts with Donald Trump’s political fortunes. […]

    From Yamiche Alcindor:

    Spoke w/ CDC Director Robert Redfield in a small gaggle of reporters. He said he, CDC & Pres Trump are totally “aligned” on what needs to happen next. I asked, if you’re so aligned, why is the president lashing out at CDC on Twitter? Redfield sort of shrugged & didn’t answer.

    Today is the day the United States topped 3,000,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. We passed 2,000,000 about a month ago.

  80. says

    From Joe Biden:

    Today’s awful — and avoidable — news that America surpassed three million COVID-19 cases is yet another sad reminder of the cost our country is paying for President Trump’s failure to lead us through this crisis.

    While other countries safely re-open their economies and their citizens get back to work, businesses in America are being forced to shut down — again — as Donald Trump’s failures make countless workers and families face an uncertain future.

    […] Trump claimed to the American people that he was a wartime leader, but instead of taking responsibility, Trump has waved a white flag, revealing that he ordered the slowing of testing and having his administration tell Americans that they simply need to “live with it.” […]

    Commentary:

    […] Biden essentially declared Trump AWOL and pleaded with him to “ramp up testing, get protective equipment to first responders, health care workers, and other essential workers, and … finally provide science-based leadership on re-opening safely.” Biden rightly called Trump out for spending so much time on racist rhetoric (“devoting what energy he has left to dividing our nation, the opposite of a commander in chief’s duty at all times, let alone a moment of historic crisis”). […]

    There is no sly political tactic at work here. There is no campaign playbook that says: “Override experts on children’s health.” Perhaps Trump is in full denial about the extent of the problem. Perhaps he does not have a clue how to address it. Perhaps he thinks people will not hold him accountable for preventable deaths. In any event, his unfitness was never so evident, nor has the refusal among Republicans to dump him been more irresponsible.

    Washington Post link

  81. says

    Roger Stone was using dozens of fake Facebook accounts to make himself look good.

    Roger Stone and his associates were behind dozens of fake Facebook accounts that coordinated their activity and boosted his work and political priorities, Facebook said Wednesday — all at the same time Stone was under federal scrutiny for his alleged attempts to work with Wikileaks and boost Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election. […]

    Facebook said the full scope of the Stone network was only visible after the release of search warrants earlier this year from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election meddling.

    The warrants, released in April after a petition from several media organizations, showed Stone using a huge network of fake accounts to boost stolen Democratic emails published on Wikileaks.

    Stone’s assistant told a Mueller investigator that he bought “a couple hundred fake Facebook accounts,” and that bloggers working for Stone sought to set up authentic-looking profiles to push the emails published by Wikileaks. Stone said in April that the released warrants “prove no crime.”

    Facebook said in a press release Wednesday that “some pages appeared to have acquired followers from Pakistan and Egypt to make themselves seem more popular than they were.”

    The Stone network was faulted for breaking Facebook’s rule against “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Facebook said. In all, the take-down affected 54 Facebook accounts, 50 Pages, and 4 Instagram accounts. […]

    The accounts were most active between 2015 and 2017 and since then the majority of them have been dormant.

    Facebook said they discovered the network while investigating the Proud Boys, a right-wing “western chauvinist” group it banned from the platform in 2018. The group has vocally supported Stone for years.

    Stone’s personal accounts were among those removed from Facebook and Instagram, Facebook’s head of security Nathaniel Gleicher told The Washington Post. A few days ago, Stone posted a meme on his Instagram page showing himself photo-shopped as the hero of the movie “300,” Spartan King Leonidas, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson as the Persian King Xerxes.

    Stone is currently expected to report for his three-year prison sentence later this month after being found guilty last year on five counts of lying to Congress and one each of witness tampering and obstruction — though the sentence has already been delayed for weeks due to COVID-19. A career prosecutor who withdrew from Stone’s case, Aaron Zelinsky, alleged in congressional testimony last month that the DOJ’s recommended sentence for Stone was reduced as a direct result of political pressure.

    TPM link

    From Gabriel Sherman, writing for Vanity Fair:

    At a moment when he needs to calm restive Republicans, Trump may antagonize them further by commuting Roger Stone ’s 40-month sentence. According to sources, Trump has told people he wants to commute Stone’s sentence before Stone reports to prison on July 14.

    […] Sources say the West Wing is at war over a possible Stone commutation. White House counsel Pat Cipollone is against the move, and even Attorney General Bill Barr is opposed. “Barr has told Trump not to do it, and if he does there will be a mutiny at DOJ,” said a source briefed on the internal debates. People close to Trump fear he won’t listen. “You can’t underestimate how hard it is to get information through to him,” a Republican close to the White House said. “When you talk to him, he just talks at you. He doesn’t like to read memos, so there’s not really a way to get through to him. Everyone agrees.”

  82. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    In almost every instance, Donald Trump presents a choice: You can believe he’s acting out of ignorance or you can believe he’s acting out of malice. But in most cases, this is a false choice. He’s acting out of both.

    This is absolutely the situation when it comes to Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. From the beginning, Trump has insisted that it would go away “like magic,” or fade in the summer heat, or go down to zero “at the appropriate time.” That hasn’t changed. In an interview on Tuesday, Trump insisted that America is in “a good place.” It’s not. He said that America has the lowest rate of deaths in the world. It doesn’t. He claimed that everything would be fine in a few months. It won’t.

    There’s more to it than just Trump brushing off concerns to clear the way for the golf trip that begins on Friday. There’s […] a deliberate White House effort to reach a point where Americans no longer even notice that death is all around them. Trump realizes that he can’t win a campaign that’s focused on how he handled the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he believes he can still be king of the ashes.

    […] the Trump White House set out to both duplicate and expand on every failing of the Crimson Contagion study. Information wasn’t just inconsistent, it was completely inaccurate, with false statements from Trump, Mike Pence, and others on the availability of testing and the extent of contagion. Supplies weren’t just hard to locate, they were handed out in an arbitrary and capricious manner, with states forced into a competition for White House attention, Trump openly threatening to cut off supplies to governors who didn’t demonstrate their personal loyalty. It seems clear that states like Florida got more supplies than they required, while others, like Michigan, were deliberately shorted despite overwhelming need.

    But Trump did more than ignore the findings of Crimson Contagion and past exercises. As he stated explicitly in a Fox News interview on Tuesday “I sort of didn’t listen to my experts” when it came to how to handle the looming disaster. Not only did Trump fail to take the steps that might have blunted the initial impact through a coordinated system of national testing, case tracing, and isolation, he was critical of governors who moved to protect their citizens. Rather than create a national system of lockdowns with clear standards for placing and removing restrictions, Trump insisted that governors open up, tweeting not just threats about refusing to distribute federal funds, but encouragement for gun-waving followers to invade state capitals.

    Trump first took over the daily appearances of the COVID-19 task force and used them to spread doubt and misinformation. Then he simply discarded the whole structure. When that task force appeared for a single briefing last week, it was the first time it had been seen in public in more than two months.

    Meanwhile, Trump has moved on to insisting that schools must reopen, regardless of the clear danger. He’s again leveraging that threat against governors and local officials, as well using it as a means to invoke still more authority when it comes to immigration. Trump’s actions place schools at every level in an impossible crisis, one in which they cannot safely educate their students, and cannot withstand the fiscal pressure being applied. […]

    In the past, Trump’s response to scandal has often been to throw another scandal at it. […] Trump has redefined the “Gish Gallop” for a new age […]

    Trump isn’t just dealing with his failings in the bedroom or boardroom, he’s serving up national disasters. The scale of everything is larger. The cost is unbelievable. But Trump’s tactics are the same—pile it on. Add calamity, to crisis, to disaster, to catastrophe. Make things deliberately worse. Get the guns in the street. Put fear in the air. Create a blood-dimmed tide rising so fast that people are unable to see where one horror ends and another begins. […]

    Trump could be ignorant. Trump could be evil. He can certainly be both.

    Link

  83. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #129:

    Redfield said he recognized that “there is a variety of unique circumstances for different schools and that the additional guidance would reflect that.

    Gaaaah! This is the exact same nonsense they pulled with the general guidelines a couple months ago! Those literally contained flowcharts so that people could adapt them to local conditions. There aren’t any unique circumstances for any businesses or churches or schools that change the behavior of the fucking virus. “We don’t want to follow the guidelines because we’re in denial and listening to a destructive sociopath” isn’t a unique circumstance to the virus. It’ll roll right over them. FFS! They tried this already and we’re seeing the results! Redfield needs to stand up to this insanity and get fired or resign. The CDC cannot acquiesce to this calamitous idea.

  84. says

    Via southpaw – more re Lynna’s #132:

    Facebook took down three other networks in addition to Stone’s – “Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior”:

    Today, we removed four separate networks for violating our policy against foreign interference and coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB). These networks originated in Canada and Ecuador, Brazil, Ukraine, and the United States.

    In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts as a central part of their operations to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing, and that was the basis for our action. When we investigate and remove these operations, we focus on behavior rather than content, no matter who’s behind them, what they post, or whether they’re foreign or domestic.

    The majority of the activity we removed today focused on domestic audiences in each country and was linked to commercial entities and individuals associated with political campaigns and political offices….

    We have shared information about our analysis with law enforcement, policymakers and industry partners.

    2. We also removed 35 Facebook accounts, 14 Pages, 1 Group and 38 Instagram accounts that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior in Brazil. This network focused on domestic audiences.

    This network consisted of several clusters of connected activity that relied on a combination of duplicate and fake accounts — some of which had been detected and disabled by our automated systems — to evade enforcement, create fictitious personas posing as reporters, post content, and manage Pages masquerading as news outlets. They posted about local news and events including domestic politics and elections, political memes, criticism of the political opposition, media organizations and journalists, and most recently they posted about the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the content posted by this network had already been taken down for Community Standards violations including hate speech.

    We found this activity as part of our investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in Brazil reported on by press and referenced in recent congressional testimony in Brazil. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Social Liberal Party and some of the employees of the offices of Anderson Moraes, Alana Passos, Eduardo Bolsonaro, Flavio Bolsonaro and Jair Bolsonaro.

    Bolsonaro’s sons are currently under investigation for this in Brazil. One of the examples FB provides reads “[Brazilian newspaper] Globo Lies” “Globo is fabricating the coronavirus deaths/death rate.”

  85. says

    Adam Schiff:

    A letter to Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman:

    Right does not matter to Donald Trump. But it matters to you. It matters to this country and to its people. It will always matter.

    And with those words, you have left an indelible mark on our nation’s conscience and history.

    Letter at the link.

  86. says

    NBC – “Democratic task forces send Biden a progressive policy roadmap”:

    A coalition of Democrats has presented Joe Biden with a roadmap for an ambitious, progressive agenda in the White House that would include proposals to immediately address ongoing crises, reflecting areas of consensus reached after weeks of deliberations between allies of the presumptive nominee and Bernie Sanders.

    The former primary rivals, whose sharp differences were on display throughout the year-long Democratic nomination battle, will jointly release the specific policy recommendations made by the so-called Unity Task Forces they appointed in April to find common ground on six key areas: climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care and immigration.

    The recommendations include draft language that will be submitted to the Democratic National Committee’s party committee as a “starting point” for their consideration, the Biden campaign said, adding that the former vice president “looks forward to reviewing” their work.

    A review of the 110-page document provided to NBC News in advance of its public release offers fresh evidence of how the Biden campaign, having held firmly to the center in a Democratic primary that began with a record field of candidates racing to the left, is open to some — but not all — of the progressive wing’s approaches as he prepares for the general election campaign.

    The health care task force, for instance, focused on ways to expand coverage through Biden’s firmly held position of building on the Affordable Care Act, rather than pursuing a single-payer system like Medicare for All. But the climate task force, co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., recommended more aggressive timelines for achieving net-zero carbon emissions than Biden had called for in the campaign.

    Both sides highlighted the final work product as reflecting unprecedented — and to many unexpected — party unity….

    The final product reflects the growing recognition across the party that a Biden administration will have a unique opportunity, and in their view necessity, to take far more aggressive actions on multiple fronts than many were considering at the start of the campaign.

    Even Biden, who campaigned throughout the primaries as a pragmatic Democrat and argued that Americans were more interested in “results” than a “revolution,” has increasingly spoken of a New Deal-style agenda to start his administration, nodding to the robust federal response to the Great Depression promised by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    In May, when most of the U.S. was still in a lockdown due to the pandemic, Biden declared on his podcast “Here’s the Deal” that the moment had led the country to “need some revolutionary institutional changes.”

    “For the millions of Americans facing hardship due to President Trump’s failed coronavirus response, this election offers the chance to usher in a stronger, fairer economy that works for our working families,” Biden said in a statement welcoming the task forces’ recommendations.

    “I commend the task forces for their service and helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country. And I am deeply grateful to Senator Sanders for working together to unite our party, and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come,” Biden said.

  87. tomh says

    WaPo
    Outbreak in the Mississippi Capitol sickens 26 legislators

    As many Mississippi hospitals run out of intensive care beds and the state’s new coronavirus case numbers continue to rise, a new cluster of infections has emerged this week in the capital.

    Three dozen people connected to the Mississippi state legislature have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including 26 lawmakers, a top health official said Wednesday.

    State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs confirmed the new infections that the health department traced back to the Capitol in Jackson, Miss.

    Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn both tested positive, Reeves said Monday. Since then, dozens of others have tested positive.

    Many Mississippi politicians have resisted wearing masks, even as the pandemic has stretched the state’s resources in recent weeks. The Mississippi Clarion Ledger reported this week that many lawmakers in the state Senate and House chose not to wear masks or pulled them off to talk to colleagues at committee meetings and on the Capitol floors.

    By Katie Shepherd

  88. says

    The RNC tweeted a video (indirect link):

    Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders brags that the policies Joe Biden has adopted ‘will make Biden the most progressive president since FDR’

    First, the responses to their tweet are superb.

    Second, I was concerned the Unity Task Forces’ recommendations (@ #140 above) wouldn’t get any attention, so thanks for helping out, RNC.

    Third, an indication of FDR’s current popularity is that Boris Johnson, a rightwing foreign leader, is trying to dishonestly associate his spending plan with Roosevelt’s New Deal.

  89. says

    Helen Prejean:

    One of the most disturbing aspects of @TheJusticeDept’s ill-conceived plan to restart federal executions next week is the fact that victims’ family members have been iced out and ignored. One family is trying to sue AG Barr to make sure that their wishes are heard and respected.

    AG Barr has told the media that these scheduled federal executions are about justice for the victims. If this is about the victims and their families, then why do they need to sue you in order to get your attention?

    AG Barr and the current administration are using murder victims’ families as pawns in furtherance of a political agenda. These families deserve so much better.

  90. says

    tomh @ #141, someone on MSNBC (Maddow, I think) reported that Reeves is recommending people get tested if they’ve been around a state legislator (at the same time as he’s talking about how he’s “100% committed” to opening Mississippi schools).

  91. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    #141 & #147
    Link to Maddow segment on the Mississippi legislature.

  92. says

    Politico interview with Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo – “How the Smallest State Engineered a Big Covid Comeback”:

    …So how did Rhode Island do it? The short answer is Raimondo copied the playbook of nations like South Korea and New Zealand that have fared much better than the United States in battling the virus—intensive testing, tracing and isolation plus wear-your-damn-mask policy and messaging—while adding innovative twists through uniquely American public-private partnerships. It doesn’t hurt that Rhode Island is home to drugstore giant CVS, which is also the state’s largest employer; in part through help from the company, more than 25 percent of Rhode Islanders have been tested, many of them barbers, grocery clerks and other public-facing workers with no symptoms. She persuaded Salesforce to develop a state-of-the-art contact tracing app for Rhode Island for free, while working with Infosys on a location tracking feature and SurveyMonkey on symptom monitoring. Brown University has provided dorms for health care workers who want to remain isolated from their families. Raimondo was also one of the first governors to shut down schools and businesses, ban large businesses and require masks.

    Basically, it’s worked. Deaths have plunged from more than 20 per day to fewer than five, infections from more than 400 per day to fewer than 50, and there’s plenty of room in the state’s intensive care units….

    MG: There have been a lot of good results in foreign countries—in South Korea, in Taiwan, in New Zealand. They did massive testing, tracing, isolation. Did you essentially adopt that model?

    GR: Absolutely. You know, this entire crisis would have played out so differently with leadership and a national plan from the federal government. If the Trump administration in January had started to stockpile PPE [personal protective equipment], get serious about testing, put together a plan, we would have far fewer deaths, far fewer people out of work, far fewer sick people. Those first couple weeks of March, when we still weren’t certain how bad it would be, we were getting zero direction or guidance from the federal government. That’s when I took it on myself to dive in deeply. To figure out what’s going on in South Korea, in Singapore, in Europe, in China—like, immediately. I had this moment of clarity very early on, at 2 a.m. while I was working in my house alone: There’s no way you can outrun this thing. You have to stay a step ahead. That’s when we said we need aggressive testing, very aggressive contact tracing and social distancing. We came to that realization earlier than some other places, because it seemed like the only way to keep a lid on the virus. Otherwise, we could see it would outrun us and we’d never be able to catch up.

    MG: Every time you said something like that, people said, “Oh, it’s a hoax, you’re destroying my freedoms.” What’s it like being a leader in a time like this?

    GR: Look, there have been times where it’s been downright scary. In the thick of it, we were doubling our hospitalization rate every three days. We had an R of over 4! [The R value is the number of people the average infected person will infect; anything above 1 is extremely dangerous.] We’re a couple hours from New York City, where things were terrible. Meanwhile, I was looking at the models for my state, and I really wasn’t sure where I was going to get the ventilators and N95 masks and hospital beds. There were weeks of sleepless nights. I felt so responsible to minimize the loss of life. So the criticism never had any impact on me at all. I knew how bad this could get. Sure, for a while, I took a lot of heat. And I get that it stinks to have to do distance learning, to God forbid lose your job. But I was so certain that what we were doing was necessary. If you actually dig into the facts and the data and the science, you realize there’s only one solution, there’s only one way to do this right. By the way, those people who were critical have quieted down, because our results have been so good. We’ve tested 25 percent of our population, our positive rate is only 1.5 percent, our beaches are open, we’re going to open school in the fall, you can go out and get your haircut and go to dinner, our unemployment rate is declining. I don’t look so crazy anymore.

    MG: The president doesn’t seem to be taking the same approach.

    GR: Look, very early on, President Trump made it crystal clear on phone calls with the governors, that we were on the front lines, it would be up to us to figure out how to get this done, the federal government would be taking a back-seat role. That was obviously an abdication of his duty.

    MG: It’s odd that he was so open about that. It’s as if Pearl Harbor has been invaded and they’re asking Rhode Island to come up with a plan to fight the war.

    GR: Yeah, good luck, Hawaii. My God, I can give you so many examples of deep dysfunction in the federal response.

    MG: OK, let’s hear one.

    GR: It was crazy, I spent hours and hours of my days and nights scouring the earth to find PPE for my state. I’d call FEMA and say, “Uh, can we tap into our national stockpile?” And I’d just constantly get the runaround. “Sure, we’ll have it to you on Tuesday.” Tuesday comes, I’d call back, “Oh, gosh, it’s not going to happen.” One time they promised me, “OK, it will be there today, a truck full of PPE.” I said: “Tell me the time, I’ll check on it myself.” They said 7 p.m. Great. At 7 p.m., no truck. I call and ask where is it, they say 9 p.m. Fine. Around 9 p.m., I get a text from FEMA: Governor, the truck arrived. Hallelujah! I called my director of health. “Great news, the truck is finally here!” She says governor, it’s an empty truck. They sent an empty truck. No PPE. I can tell you a dozen stories like that. So if you’re the governor, what do you do with that? You call every friend you know. I cold-called CEOs of diagnostic companies. I engaged the Chinese consulate. I called every CEO in the medical device world that I knew. My husband laughed at me, I’m on phone with China and Vietnam and Korea at 2 a.m. trying to cut deals.

    MG: The feds didn’t take the lead on any of this?

    GR: In an ideal world, this is what the president would do. He would have immediately gotten CEOs into the Oval Office early in the year, and used the Defense Production Act to mobilize all the best of what America has to offer—innovation, testing, PPE, medical products, we’d be in so much better shape today. But in the absence of that, we had to do it one state at a time.

    We’re doing about as well as any state. I put together a plan, set up 10 work teams with a work flow that report to me on a daily basis, stood up a military-style operation with urgency and innovation in March. But if the feds had done something like that in February, we wouldn’t have all these deaths. We wouldn’t have double-digit unemployment. It’s very frustrating, because it didn’t have to be that way. The fact is, we have a showboat in the White House. The president spends a lot of time showboating. We need leaders to do your job, like Bill Belichick says. That’s what governors have been doing. Do the damn job. Take it seriously. People’s lives are at stake. Don’t worry about your politics….

    Much more atl.

  93. says

    Here’s a link to the July 9 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Pandemic ‘still accelerating’ and ‘not under control’ – WHO

    The spread of the coronavirus pandemic is “still accelerating” and most countries have not yet managed to get it under control, the head of the World Health Organization has said.

    Speaking at the weekly member states information session, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more than 11.8 million cases of coronavirus had been reported to the UN’s health agency, half of them in the past six weeks.

    He said the outbreak had exposed global and national inequalities both in health systems and in wider societies, and that its impact had “unravelled gains” previously made in the fight against diseases. Tedros said:

    It is often said that disease knows no borders. It does not care about our political differences, and it disregards the distinctions we draw between health and economy, lives and livelihoods. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted them all.

    It has exploited the inequalities in our health systems and the schisms in our societies. It has exposed existing inequities, widening and deepening the cracks between us.

    The virus has upended health systems in some of the world’s wealthiest nations, while some countries that have mounted a successful response have been of modest means.

    But in most of the world the virus is not under control. It is getting worse. 11.8+m cases of Covid-19 have now been reported to WHO. More than 544,000 lives have been lost. The pandemic is still accelerating. The total number of cases has doubled in the last six weeks.

  94. says

    Here we go…

    McGirt. Written by Gorsuch. 5-4.

    “For purposes of the Major Crimes Act, land reserved for the Creek Nation since the 19th century remains ‘Indian country’.”

    SCOTUSblog: “The Gorsuch opinion is joined by RBG, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.”

  95. says

    Vance. By Roberts. 7-2.

    “Article II and the Supremacy Clause do not categorically preclude, or require a heightened standard for, the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President.”

    “Kavanaugh concurs in the judgment, joined by Gorsuch. Thomas dissents, joined by Alito.”

  96. says

    Gaaaaaah!: “The arguments here and in the Court of Appeals were limited to absolute immunity and heightened need. The Court of Appeals, however, has directed that the case may be returned to the District Court, where the President may raise further arguments as appropriate.”

  97. says

    Mazars.

    “Again by Roberts, again 7-2: From the syllabus: ‘The courts below did not take adequate account of the signficant separation of powers concerns implicated by congressional subpoenas for the President’s information’.”

    “Kavanaugh and Gorsuch join in full. Thomas and Alito dissent.”

    “The chief rejects the ‘demanding standards’ proposed by the president and the solicitor general.”

    “But, he says, the House’s approach ‘fails to take adequate account of the significant separation of powers concerns raised by congressional subpoenas for the President’s information’.”

    JFC: “The Court has vacated the decisions below in Mazars, and it holds that congressional subpoenas may be enforceable but that the courts below did not take account of all the possible separation of powers concerns. The case will this go on. So this issue is back in the hands of the DC and Second Circuits for now.”

  98. says

    Mark Joseph Stern: “The Mazars decision is a punt, and the House should be disappointed. SCOTUS has ordered further proceedings in the lower courts that will take some time. If Biden wins in November, the House may never get its hands on Trump’s financial records.”

  99. says

    Roberts’ compromises mean the American people probably won’t see Trump’s tax returns or financial records before November, if ever. But they also deny the president the sweeping immunity from grand jury and congressional subpoenas that he sought.”

    On first glance, I guess I’m not entirely unhappy with the decisions. They clearly said Trump’s not above the law. All of this draws attention to what he’s trying to hide, which might be more significant politically than if anything had leaked out of or been released by congress. We already know he’s a crook and a conman. Vance and other prosecutors will get the documents eventually. The truth will come out.

  100. says

    Neal Katyal’s read is that Trump lost resoundingly, including with his own appointees. He thinks Vance will move quickly and quite possibly get the information prior to the election, and that Trump is scared.

  101. says

    TPM – “Pentagon Leaders Face Grilling Before Congress Thursday On Use Of Military In Unrest”:

    The Pentagon’s top leaders are going before Congress for the first time in months to face a long list of controversies, including their differences with President Donald Trump over the handling of protests near the White House last month during unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd in police hands.

    The House hearing Thursday will provide the first congressional testimony by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, since March 4, when they appeared to discuss the administration’s defense policy proposal. That was before the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic became apparent and before nationwide civil unrest threw the Pentagon’s relations with Trump into crisis.

    Esper and Milley also are likely to be grilled by members of the House Armed Services Committee on a simmering debate over removing the names of Confederate Army officers from U.S. Army bases and banning other Confederate symbols. That also puts them potentially at odds with Trump, who has said he opposes removing the Confederate names from bases like Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

    Neither Esper nor Milley has spoken publicly about two other controversies likely to be raised at the House hearing — intelligence reports that Russia may have offered bounty money to the Taliban in exchange for killing American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, and reported White House resistance to permitting the Army to promote Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to the rank of colonel….

    The hearing is at 1 PM ET and will be on C-SPAN.

  102. blf says

    Televangelists take a slice as churches accept billions in US coronavirus aid:

    […]
    More than 10,600 religious organizations have taken at least $3bn in coronavirus financial aid from the US government, according to an analysis by the Guardian […].

    The list of recipients of federal Paycheck Protection Program [PPP] payments includes churches, synagogues, temples and private religious schools. Among them are the ministries of wealthy televangelists accused of fraud and one “secretive sect”.

    Religious leaders who have advised the Trump administration have seen their operations receive millions, as did a not-for-profit organization that supports Israeli soldiers.

    […]

    Nineteen organizations received the highest loan amount available — between $5m and $10m, according to data released on Monday by the SBA [Small Business Administration]. Seven of those 19 are affiliated with the Catholic church, including the archdiocese of New York. Only 60% of the funds churches receive must go to salaries to be forgiven. The other 40% can be used on other expenses.

    Most of the thousands of churches that received aid are not mired in controversy. They range in size and denomination.

    [… H]ighly controversial figures have also received aid. They include the televangelists Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker and Peter Popoff.

    Word of Faith Fellowship, which the Associated Press calls a “secretive North Carolina sect”, also received funds. The organization has been investigated for allegedly abusing congregants and its leaders have faced charges from fraud to human trafficking, according to NPR. The group’s website responds to various allegations in a section called Response to Media Lies.

    Pete Evans, who investigates religious fraud for the Trinity Foundation, said he had expected controversial churches would receive the aid.

    “You’re getting free money, and that’s what these guys are good at,” Evans said.

    Many of the leaders of the churches receiving funds are wealthy. Mac Hammond’s church, Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota, acquired a private jet on 11 March, just as the pandemic was beginning in the US, according to government records. Less than a month later, it was approved for between $2m and $5m in coronavirus aid.

    Among the top loan recipients is Joyce Meyer Ministries, a Missouri-based Christian ministry with TV shows and radio programs. It received between $5m and $10m, even though it reported having $12m cash on hand at the end of 2019, according to an annual financial report.

    […]

    Several religious groups whose leaders are reportedly Trump evangelical advisers took between $2m and $5m each.

    Paula White’s City of Destiny received between $150,000 and $350,000. She is the chair of Trump’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

    Eternal Word Television Network, a conservative Catholic network on which Trump appeared on 22 June to announce his executive order protecting statues that have been torn down by protesters, received between $2m and $5m.

    […]

    Some non-ministry organizations received large sums too, including Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, which describes its mission as to offer educational, cultural, recreational, and social services programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide.[] It received between $2m and $5m.

      † I’ve never heard of this group, and whilst it’s not impossible they are benign, the quoted mission statement is too similar to the bellowings of the not-at-all-benign “Israel is never wrong” racists — hence the eejit quotes.

  103. blf says

    Here in France, there is a lot of hand-wringing about the reconstruction of Notre Dame. For example, the incoming Culture Minister claims ‘Consensus’ that Notre-Dame spire should be rebuilt in original form. One of the more interesting claims is Notre-Dame Cathedral: Volunteer carpenters aim to settle reconstruction debate:

    A group of volunteer carpenters are hoping to settle the debate over how Paris’s fire-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral should be rebuilt by constructing a replica of part of the structure’s roof entirely by hand using traditional techniques and materials.
    Advertising

    Armed with axes and hand saws, the team of 25 craftsmen and women, who belong to a collective called Carpenters Without Borders, managed to build one of the 25 trusses that made up the wooden roof of Notre-Dame that they say is identical to the original.

    “It is a demonstration of traditional techniques on one of the trusses of the framework of the nave of Notre-Dame that serves to show how viable these techniques are from an economic point of view on the one hand and from a technical point of view on the other,” researcher Frédéric Epaud told AFP.

    Known as ‘the forest’ and built out of vast oak beams, the 800-year-old intricate wooden lattice of Notre-Dame’s knave was completely destroyed in last year’s fire.

    Since then debate has raged over how it should be rebuilt. Some have argued that reconstructing the original roof is impossible as sufficiently old and large enough oak trees no longer exist in France.

    […]

    I admit that short after the fire I wondered how “the forest” could be rebuilt, and speculated non-French oak trees would have to be used, if rebuilding it was the decision.

    Completely unrelated, just before the pandemic lockdown started, I happened upon an unknown-to-me restaurant only a few minutes walk away from the lair. (It’s on a shady lance I rarely venture down.) A check on the Web showed it was getting great reviews. Then, before I could try it out, lockdown. Bah…

    Today, mostly on a whim — my first-choice restaurant was full so I was heading towards a second-choice — I passed that lane, and decided to take a look. Still a very interesting menu… Ok then, let’s give them a try. (They also had a very prominent sign — several, in fact — insisting on masks, and the staff were all properly masked.)

    Success! A very very nice lunch with fresh local seafood and produce, friendly and helpful staff, and a wonderful garden. And, as it turns out, the owners previously owned a nearby (practically around the corner) restaurant, which was then and still is now one of the best in the village.

  104. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    My take on the Supreme Court decisions on Trump’s cases is that they are classic Roberts–he bends over backwards, forwards and sideways to make the case about general principle (no, the President is not above the law), but still having zero effect on the particular issue at hand. It ensures that none of Trump’s financial crimes will become grist for the current political campaign.
    The two rulings are interesting because which one poses the greatest threat to Trump depends on whether he wins or loses the election. If he loses, Vance is free to go after him with all the vigor and force New York Law can muster, and the power of Congressional subpoena is irrelevant outside of some sort of general investigation into the criminal activity of the current administration. If Trump wins, and especially if his support in the Senate is eroded down-ballot, then the Congressional subpoena becomes the threat.

    And all the while, Roberts can smile and say, “It’s not about politics. It’s not about Trump.” No one wins but Roberts.

  105. says

    Polina Ivanova:

    Eight days since voting ended on July 1 on Russia’s constitutional reforms, that open the door for Putin to stay on in power for another decade and a half.

    Since then, a flurry of arrests, detentions, trials. And a tornado.

    Here’s one week of journalism in Russia:…

    Holy shit, she can hardly keep up with all of the arrests.

  106. says

    NPR – “U.S. Broadcasting Agency Will Not Extend Visas For Its Foreign Journalists”:

    Dozens of foreign nationals working as journalists in the U.S. for Voice of America, the federal government’s international broadcaster, will not have their visas extended once they expire, according to three people with knowledge of the decision.

    Those with knowledge of the decision say the new CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Michael Pack, signaled he will not approve the visa extensions. Also Wednesday, according to those with knowledge of the decision, Pack ordered the dismissal of former Radio Free Asia chief Bay Fang, whom Pack had previously demoted. The sources asked not to be identified because of a fear of retaliation.

    The foreign journalists are particularly valued for their language skills, which are crucial to VOA’s mission as an international broadcaster. One VOA journalist who asked not to be named because of a fear of retaliation, said some of the foreign journalists forced to return home would likely face repercussions from regimes hostile to the U.S….

  107. says

    As case totals climb, Trump flunks test on testing (and arithmetic)

    Several months into this crisis, Trump is lost and increasingly impatient with the public’s resistance to embracing his flawed understanding of reality.

    At a strange White House event on school re-openings this week, Donald Trump, unprompted, peddled a familiar claim: “Because we’re doing more testing, we have more cases. If we did half the testing, we would have far fewer cases. But people don’t view it that way.”

    What the president still struggles to understand is that “people don’t view it that way” because such an assertion doesn’t make any sense.

    He nevertheless brought the same claim to Twitter again this morning.

    “For the 1/100th time, the reason we show so many Cases, compared to other countries that haven’t done nearly as well as we have, is that our TESTING is much bigger and better. We have tested 40,000,000 people. If we did 20,000,000 instead, Cases would be half, etc. NOT REPORTED!”

    I’m mindful of the fact that there’s little value in trying to peek into Trump’s psyche, but given his phrasing and the frequency with which he pushes this line, it seems the president isn’t lying, so much as he’s just confused.

    […] Trump has apparently convinced himself that there’s no need to blame himself for his administration’s failures — because he can just blame testing.

    Indeed, as he tweeted, the president has told us this one-one hundredth times. (We’re occasionally reminded why it’s so easy to believe Mary Trump’s assertion that the president paid someone to take his SAT exam for him.)

    What’s less clear is how best to explain this to Trump in a way he’d understand. Does he realize that a summer heat wave would still exist if we got rid of thermometers? Does the president know glaucoma wouldn’t disappear if we ended eye exams?

    Sam Stein framed this nicely this morning with a helpful analogy: “Look, for the 100th time, if we had 40,000,000 pregnant women but only administered 20,000,000 pregnancy tests then we would halve the number of births in our country. Everyone knows this and yet… NOT REPORTED!” […]
    It’s July, for goodness’ sake. When Trump was struggling with basic details in March, his defenders might have credibly made the case that he was just getting up to speed on a new and deadly pandemic. After all, the president has no background in science, health care, or public service, so it stands to reason that it might take him a little while to find his governing footing.

    But several months into this crisis, Trump is both lost and increasingly impatient with the public’s resistance to embracing his flawed understanding of reality.

    With each passing tweet, the president is effectively telling the world, “I’m just not up for this.”

    Like SC always says: He should resign.

  108. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Greek authorities say they are ready to re-impose public and travel restrictions next week, warning that safety guidance for the coronavirus is being frequently flouted, the Associated Press reports.

    Stelios Petsas, the government spokesman, said authorities were “determined to protect the majority from the frivolous few,” adding that the government was likely to announce new restrictions if needed on Monday.

    Greece, which imposed strict lockdown measures, has kept infection rates low. But cases have crept up since restrictions were lifted and international travel resumed in recent weeks.

    Petsas said authorities were focused on the rising number of cases in nearby, Balkan countries and tourists who traveled to Greece over the land border with Bulgaria, at the single crossing point that has been opened to non-essential travel.

  109. says

    Laurence Tribe: “The Vance case should be expedited in the lower courts. If the Nixon tapes case could be decided in three months and Bush v. Gore could be decided in one month, this really should not drag out beyond the November election.”

  110. says

    Yes, Trump’s rally in Tulsa made the coronavirus crisis in Oklahoma worse.

    Local official: Trump rally likely intensified public-health crisis

    Trump’s recent campaign rally in Tulsa was already an embarrassing debacle. The latest word from the local health director makes it look even worse.

    By any fair metric, Donald Trump’s recent campaign re-launch event in Oklahoma was a debacle. After the president boasted about how extraordinary the crowd size would be, for example, turnout proved to be embarrassing.

    Trump’s remarks made matters worse. The Republican had nothing to say about why he was running for a second term, and instead peddled falsehoods, racial grievances, and ill-considered “jokes.” Perhaps the most notable part of the Tulsa event came when the president said he told members of his team to deliberately slow down coronavirus testing — because the results were politically inconvenient.

    […] As the Associated Press reported yesterday, Trump’s vanity exercise appears to have been a public-health disaster, too.

    […] Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa that drew thousands of people in late June, along with large protests that accompanied it, “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday. Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday.

    If Dart’s name sounds at all familiar, it’s because, ahead of the event, he urged the president’s re-election campaign not to hold the rally in an indoor venue, citing public-health risks. […]

    For its part, a Team Trump spokesperson replied in a written statement that “everyone [at the Tulsa event] was provided a mask, and there was plenty of hand sanitizer available for all.”

    Perhaps. But what this statement didn’t address was the fact that mask-wearing was optional and photographs from the rally gave every indication that most attendees had no face coverings. Complicating matters are reports that the Trump campaign took deliberate steps to discourage social distancing in Tulsa. […]

    After the latest update from Tulsa, […] the question is why other New Hampshire Republicans would show up for the president’s latest self-indulgent rally.

  111. says

    Joe Biden responds to Trump:

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden swiped at President Donald Trump on Thursday in wake of the Supreme Court’s blockbuster decision that upheld Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s subpoena for Trump’s tax returns.

    “As I was saying,” Biden tweeted in a repost of an old video in which the former VP tells Trump to “release your tax returns or shut up.”

    “Mr. President, you want to talk about corruption? I’ve released 21 years of my tax returns,” Biden says in the video.

    On Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with Vance in a 7-2 ruling that shot down the Trump legal team’s claims of presidential immunity from criminal investigations.

    Trump subsequently threw a fit, tweeting that the decision was “not fair to this Presidency or Administration!”

    Link

  112. blf says

    Victory for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears as court rules they cannot be hunted:

    […]
    In a stunning victory for wildlife conservationists and indigenous tribes — and for bears — a US court ruled on Wednesday that grizzly bears living in the vast Yellowstone ecosystem will remain federally protected and not be subjected to sport hunting.

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service had sought to strip Yellowstone-area grizzlies of safeguards conferred by the Endangered Species Act. This would have allowed the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to permit a limited number of people to obtain hunting licenses, though sport hunting would have remained prohibited within Yellowstone itself.

    […]

    WildEarth Guardians was among eight environmental groups, citizens and tribal entities that sued to have the highest level of species protection restored to grizzlies, on the basis that the bears’ recovery had not been assured.

    The Greater Yellowstone population of bears is not only globally renowned and the focus of a robust nature-tourism industry, but synonymous with the wild character of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park.

    The number of bears in the region has rebounded from about 140 in the 1970s to more than 700 today, and grizzlies have expanded their range to places where they haven’t been in 100 years. Their comeback is considered one of the greatest successes in conservation history.

    Both the states and sportsmen’s groups contend that hunting is therefore on the table. The grizzly population has more than recovered, says Tex Janecek, outgoing president of the Montana state chapter of Safari Club International. We should be having a hunting season and the states should be regulating it. Bears are ranging far beyond the greater Yellowstone region and they are getting in trouble with livestock and putting people at risk. Hunting can be an effective tool.

    Tim Preso of the environmental law firm EarthJustice, who argued the case on behalf of conservation groups and Native American clients, said the federal government and states have been managing grizzlies effectively for more than four decades without needing to enlist hunters to remove bears that get into conflict with people.

    […]

  113. says

    “BREAKING: The Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds most laws passed by Republicans in 2018 before Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers took office, shifting some of their power to the Legislature.”

    Wisconsin GOP wins power in 2010, gerrymander the legislature such that they can win a supermajority of seats without a majority of votes, pack the state courts, and raise new barriers and obstacles to voting. When Democrats win nonetheless, they strip power from the offices.

    instead of a ‘laboratory of democracy’, wisconsin is a laboratory for building a one-party state with a veneer of partisan competition.”

  114. says

    Biden announces plan to make sure America produces all the medical gear it needs, boost economy

    Biden […] has a plan for handling the coronavirus crisis now, one that he’s even offered to Donald Trump since that guy clearly doesn’t have a clue. […]

    In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Biden’s campaign previewed the plan Biden will introduce in Dunmore, Pennsylvania on Thursday. Taking priority in his plan, Biden would boost U.S. production of personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, all of which healthcare providers are warning are again in critically short supply in the resurgence of the virus. The campaign told reporters that his proposals would lessen America’s dependence on foreign countries for critical medical supplies and equipment. Given the persistence of the coronavirus and the likelihood of future pandemics fueled by climate change, this seems like a no-brainer.

    […] The plan includes $400 billion for an infrastructure program with federal spending on American steel, cement, and concrete. It also includes $300 billion in research and development for alternative energy, electric vehicles, and other emerging technologies. […]

  115. says

    Some details from Geoffrey Berman’s testimony:

    Attorney General William Barr repeatedly and persistently pressured Manhattan’s former top federal prosecutor to resign during a June 18 meeting at a New York hotel and in a subsequent phone call, the ex-prosecutor, Geoffrey Berman told lawmakers Thursday, detailing for the first time the series of events that led to his firing by […] Trump the next day.

    Berman, in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, said Barr repeatedly attempted to coax Berman into resigning his post by offering him other positions in government, including the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    “I said that there was no job offer that would entice me to resign from my position,” Berman told lawmakers in his opening statement, obtained by POLITICO.

    But Barr, later that night, issued a statement announcing Berman’s resignation anyway, which triggered Berman to publicly respond that he had done no such thing. The extraordinary exchange culminated the following day, when Barr agreed to name Berman’s deputy as his successor and Trump ordered Berman’s firing. Berman told lawmakers he had consulted with private attorneys and was prepared to contest his removal until Barr had agreed to elevate Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, rather than insert an attorney from outside the office to replace him.

    The events have raised alarms on Capitol Hill that Trump was seeking to assert control over the office of a prosecutor handling cases connected to Trump himself and his close associates. […]

    Berman described in great detail his interactions with Barr, noting that they met at 12:10 p.m. on June 18 in the Pierre Hotel on New York City. “There were sandwiches on the table, but nobody ate,” Berman recalled.

    “The Attorney General began the meeting by saying that he wanted to make a change in the Southern District of New York,” Berman continued, adding, “I asked the Attorney General why I was being asked to resign prior to a nominee being confirmed. He said it was because the Administration wanted to get [SEC Chairman] Jay Clayton into that position.”

    Link

  116. blf says

    SC@188, Makes perfect sense. There were armed loons running about attacking the protestors. They just so happened to be wearing “police” uniforms and firing “police”-issued weapons, but hey, nobody’s perfect…

  117. says

    Fauci says states with major outbreaks should ‘seriously look at shutting down’ again.

    Washington Post link

    Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease official, is advising that some states seriously consider “shutting down” again if they are facing major resurgences of the virus — a warning that conflicts with […] Trump’s push to reopen the country as quickly as possible.

    “I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down,” Fauci said Wednesday. “It’s not for me to say, because each state is different.”

    I call bullshit on that last sentence. It is for you to say. Say it loudly and repeatedly.

    Fauci […] urged states to pause their reopening process to slow the spread of the virus so that renewed shutdowns are not necessary.

    With coronavirus infections soaring across the United States, hospitals in hot spot states are on the verge of becoming overwhelmed. Personal protective equipment is once again in short supply, and intensive care units in many hard-hit areas are approaching capacity.

    Here are some significant developments:

    A record 62,751 new infections were reported across the United States on Wednesday, including 9,979 in Texas and 11,694 in California. The total number of cases has surpassed 3 million in the United States, where the death toll is approaching 130,000.

    […] The battle over reopening schools intensified as experts said bringing students back to classrooms could prove disastrous in some states. Trump and senior administration officials are pushing for a return to full in-person learning, undercutting advice from their own health experts.

    Republican leaders are considering restricting the number of Americans receiving the next round of stimulus payments, as conservative lawmakers face internal pressure to limit the size of the next relief package.

    GOP officials are looking into moving next month’s Republican National Convention to an outdoor stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., the latest uncertainty over the convention which […] Trump is determined to hold even as cases surge in Florida and elsewhere.

    About 1.3 million Americans filed for unemployment for the first time last week, according to the Labor Department.

  118. blf says

    Whilst not at all political, a welcome break from the steady pitter-PLOP! of actual real villains so evil they fail the “suspension of disbelief” test, Far Side creator Gary Larson publishes first new cartoons in 25 years:

    […]
    There are taxidermists driving taxis, there are bears picnicking on cub scouts. It can mean only one thing: the return of Far Side creator Gary Larson, publishing his first new work in 25 years.

    […]

    Learning how to draw digitally had been “a bit of learning curve”. He wrote: “I hail from a world of pen and ink, and suddenly I was feeling like I was sitting at the controls of a 747. But as overwhelmed as I was, there was still something familiar there — a sense of adventure. That had always been at the core of what I enjoyed most when I was drawing The Far Side, that sense of exploring, reaching for something, taking some risks, sometimes hitting a home run and sometimes coming up with ‘Cow tools’. (Let’s not get into that.)”

    […]

    “So here goes. I’ve got my coffee, I’ve got this cool gizmo [a tablet], and I’ve got no deadlines. And — to borrow from Sherlock Holmes — the game is afoot,” he wrote.

    Links at the link.

  119. blf says

    Workers fight back as US hotels try to lay off staff and hire on the cheap:

    [… O]ther well-known hotels in California, including the famed Chateau Marmont, have also told longtime employees they have lost their jobs permanently. Several hotels in Baltimore, Phoenix and Boston, including the Four Seasons in Boston, have taken similar moves, sometimes telling dismissed employees that they could reapply for their jobs and, if hired, start out as new employees. These steps have infuriated workers and quickly gotten the attention of many labor leaders and lawmakers.

    The result: Los Angeles, Long Beach, and several other California cities as well as Los Angeles county, have enacted legislation requiring hotels (and sometimes other industries) to rehire by order of seniority any workers they laid off because of the pandemic. Similar legislation is moving forward in Oakland and Pasadena, and has been introduced in the Baltimore and Phoenix city councils, although the Phoenix legislation was pulled from the council’s agenda last Wednesday in the face of intense hotel industry opposition. Supporters say such a recall bill will be introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature later this month.

    […]

    Hotels and business groups have lobbied hard to defeat such legislation. While worker advocates see these bills as simple justice, business groups denounce them as heavy-handed, big-government mandates. They say these measures will undermine managerial flexibility and increase costs.

    […]

    The legislation also provides for emergency paid sick days during the pandemic, and protects workers’ jobs if their companies are sold to new owners.

    […]

    Ron Herrera, president of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said unions would continue to fight for the legislation.

    “It’s one of the best labor policies that have come out in years,” he said. “It really helps workers who are in dire straits. It gives them hope knowing that their job will be waiting for them when the economy and their employers gear everything back up. It really provides hope. That’s huge.”

    The (redacted) quotes from industry people all seem to assume managers always know what is best; e.g., some workers are “better” than others. Yes, some are — but that ALSO applies to both managers and executives, both of whom seem to be mysteriously not-affected by fire-than-rehire-as-new…

  120. says

    LOL – Earlier, one of the Trumpublicans asked Esper whether he’d seen an intelligence report that used the word “bounties,” like if that word wasn’t specifically used it wouldn’t be the same thing. Now this guy from Nebraska just asked them “The report about the Russian bounties, that didn’t come from Defense intelligence, did it?” Brilliant.

  121. says

    Oh, sure. Esper has no idea who gave the order to clear Lafayette Square on June 1st. Liar.

    Committee chair Adam Smith: “See, I find that hard to believe….”

    It seems like it was Barr.

  122. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #189 above:

    Berman described in great detail his interactions with Barr, noting that they met at 12:10 p.m. on June 18 in the Pierre Hotel on New York City. “There were sandwiches on the table, but nobody ate,” Berman recalled.

    Joyce Vance:

    Among the interesting info in Berman’s statement, the Attorney General had a suite at the Pierre in New York. Nice use of taxpayer dollars.

  123. blf says

    ‘The virus can kill anyone’: families condemn Bolsonaro’s claim young people face little risk:

    Far-right leader is adamant the young can rest easy but 3,500 Brazilians under the age of 40 have already died from Covid-19

    Young people should not fret about coronavirus, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro declared on Tuesday […]

    Unless they have some serious health problem, the chances of under-40s suffering more serious consequences from the infection are close to zero, Bolsonaro claimed […]

    But experts dispute Bolsonaro’s claim younger people are almost completely exempt.

    “The president’s [sic] remarks do not hold water. The message should be one of protecting everyone,” said Carlos Machado, a researcher at the respected Fiocruz health research institute in Rio.

    […]

    In a recent interview Margareth Dalcolmo, a Fiocruz pneumologist, said experts had expected Covid-19 to “rejuvenate” in Brazil, because of its young population, 87% of which is under 60.

    “It isn’t a disease of the elderly here, even though fatality and mortality rates are higher among older people. It affects younger people — and this is because there’s a concentration of younger people among the more deprived sectors of society into which the epidemic has migrated,” Dalcolmo said.

    […]

  124. says

    Barb McQuade: “What people say and don’t say is such a window into their own minds. Barr repeatedly tries to convince Berman to take the civil job by appealing to an ambition to make money, while Berman is thinking about helping his office complete investigations during COVID.”

  125. tomh says

    NYT:
    DeSantisIs Said to Quietly Hinder Fund-Raising for Trump Convention

    […]

    Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, has directed his top fund-raiser, Heather Barker, to tell donors not to give to the convention because of a personal dispute between the governor and Susie Wiles, his former campaign manager who is serving as an informal adviser to the convention planners, according to multiple people familiar with his actions.

    Ms. Wiles is a veteran Republican operative who led Mr. Trump’s Florida team in 2016 and who ran Mr. DeSantis’s 2018 campaign for governor. Mr. DeSantis’s relationship with Ms. Wiles soured over his suspicion that she had leaked embarrassing information.
    […]

    The feud between Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Wiles first erupted in September, after a leaked internal memo from the governor’s political committee suggested he could elevate his profile and raise funds for himself by charging lobbyists for access, including $25,000 for a round of golf with him. Mr. DeSantis’s tight inner circle blamed the leak on Ms. Wiles,

    Ms. Barker, the top DeSantis fund-raiser, has been explicit with donors in Florida that the governor will not be helpful with rounding up money for the convention because of the involvement of Ms. Wiles, according to the people familiar with the conversations. In a phone call with Mr. Trump about whether to involve Ms. Wiles in the convention planning, Mr. DeSantis also told the president that she was overrated as an operative and that she had little to do with Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory in the state, a person familiar with the discussion said. Mr. Trump did not respond, and changed the subject.

    Ms. Wiles declined to comment.

  126. tomh says

    For anyone interested, the petition from Judge Sullivan for a rehearing in the Flynn case is here.

    Pretty much all legal authorities agree that, as a matter of law, this is an open-and-shut case in favor of Sullivan. But, as we saw with the three judge panel that found for Flynn, that’s not always how courts decide things these days.

  127. says

    SC @207, I would guess the William Barr did order the aggressive tactics against peaceful protestors in Washington D.C. Everybody, including Esper, is too afraid of Barr to say so.

  128. says

    SC @199, that statement from Barb McQuade is so good!

    In other news, Trump melts down … again:

    We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT…and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear. No Republican Senate Judiciary response, NO ‘JUSTICE’, NO FBI, NO NOTHING. Major horror show REPORTS on Comey & McCabe, guilty as hell, nothing happens. Catch Obama & Biden cold, nothing. A 3 year, $45,000,000 Mueller HOAX, failed – investigated everything. Won all against the Federal Government and the Democrats send everything to politically corrupt New York, which is falling apart with everyone leaving, to give it a second, third and fourth try. Now the Supreme Court gives a delay ruling that they would never have given for another President. This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. We catch the other side SPYING on my campaign, the biggest political crime and scandal in U.S. history, and NOTHING HAPPENS. But despite this, I have done more than any President in history in first 3 1/2 years!

    Trump posted all of the above text in a series of tweets, then he deleted the that rant, and then he re-posted his tirade.

  129. says

    Lynna @ #211, I think he deleted it because the first time it said “AND GOT CAIGHT” and “CAIGHT” was trending on Twitter and everyone was mocking him. He needs to resign.

  130. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @ 211:

    But despite this, I have done more than any President in history in first 3 1/2 years!

    Yeah, he has done more to destroy the United States than ANYONE in the history of the country. And I fear what damage he can still do before January 2021.

  131. says

    Julián Castro:

    .@GoyaFoods has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations.

    Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway

    Yes, goodbye black bean soup. (Should maybe rethink #Goyaway. :))

  132. tomh says

    I wonder why the US is having such a hard time getting control of the virus.

    Ohio sheriff refuses to enforce governor’s mask order: ‘I’m not going to be the mask police’

    Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones appeared on CNN Wednesday and told anchor Brianna Keilar that while he wears a mask and is “good with that,” he has no plans on enforcing the governor’s mask order.

    “I’m not going to be the mask police. Period,” Mr Jones said.

    The sheriff is a supporter of President Donald Trump and comes from a county of like minded individuals; Butler County voted for Mr Trump by a 2-to-1 margin in 2016 and nearly all of its officeholders are Republicans.

    The sheriff isn’t the only public official in the county that plans to ignore the order.

    According to local broadcast news WLWT, the county’s health commissioner, Jennifer Bailer, said her department won’t be enforcing the order either.

  133. Saad says

    I wonder if even after this how many Americans are still not realizing that it’s not okay to be conservative/right-wing/republican. It’s not merely a difference of opinion that we need to find common ground with and compromise with. You’re supposed to work to remove conservatives from government, not work with them.

  134. blf says

    Pure unadulterated evil, Texas border county had ‘model’ Covid-19 response — then the governor stepped in:

    Officials in Latino Starr county say Greg Abbott’s reopening orders have rendered them toothless, and cases are surging

    Five residents from Starr county on Texas’s southern border died on a single day last week after contracting Covid-19. New infections in the rural border community of around 65,000 people have soared in recent weeks, and two intubated patients had to be airlifted to Dallas and San Antonio when overwhelmed local hospitals couldn’t care for them.

    […] Starr county’s public officials knew months ago that is was especially vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic: roughly one in three residents lives in poverty, a sizable slice of the population doesn’t have health insurance, and risk factors such as diabetes and obesity prevail. To protect their constituents, who are more than 99% Latino, they acted fast to curtail the contagion.

    They developed what officials said was at the time the only drive-through testing site south of San Antonio. They closed schools. They implemented a stay-at-home order, curfew and mandatory face coverings. Only when necessary, they flexed their authority to fine and even jail anyone who flouted the law.

    Their strategy worked. The first few coronavirus cases trickled into Starr county in late March, but for three weeks in April, there were no new infections. Before the end of May, weekly tallies of new confirmed positives never once reached double digits. Even seasonal influenza, coughs, colds and fevers that would normally travel through the community suddenly vanished.

    “What we did here was a model for the rest of the nation to follow, but it was lost,” said Joel Villarreal, the mayor of Rio Grande City, one of four small cities in the county. “In fact, I think we had it right.”

    The inflection point came when Texas governor Greg Abbott unilaterally decided to reopen the state, and stripped local governments of their power in the process. […] Texans lost their fear of the virus as politicians told them it was safe to re-emerge from lockdown, and once masks became politicized, localities could no longer require their use.

    “We had local input to close down. But to reopen, we didn’t have any, at all,” said Villarreal.

    When local officials contacted the attorney general’s office for clarity about what orders they could continue to enforce, they were informed that the governor’s policies superseded their own. Any attempt to give feedback fell on deaf ears.

    Both Eloy Vera, the county judge, and Villarreal agreed that the state had to reopen at some point, but they felt Abbott’s approach was too much too fast, and ignored science.

    […]

    They’ve tried to devise workarounds to protect their communities, including incentivizing businesses to act responsibly. At Border Town Foods, Amando Peña requires all of his employees to wear masks and face shields. He has lost a handful of customers because he continued to enforce mask-wearing at his stores, even when the law and big-box retailers didn’t.

    “I was like, ‘OK, well, that’s all right,’ because our employees need that protection,” Peña said. “They deserve that respect. So I don’t care that some customers left.”

    As of last week, Starr county can now mandate face coverings again. But the local government’s other emergency protocols — including a curfew and quotas on gatherings — remain toothless in practice. In Rio Grande City, attorneys are trying to work out what can actually be enforced.

    “Here we are, fighting a global pandemic, and we’re having to figure out loopholes on how to keep people safe. That is so ridiculous,” Villarreal said.

    […]

    “Basically, you have no chance to be admitted in a hospital here in the Valley,” said Jose Vazquez, the county’s health authority. As the situation grows dire, people are starting to realize that “if you were to get sick, nobody can guarantee you any longer that you are going to be doing fine”. Vazquez has also tested positive.

    Although Texas’s official count is lagging, the county has already suffered 18 fatalities, according to its own data. Its local hospital only recently expanded the Covid-19 unit from eight beds to 18, and in one day, the unit’s occupancy rocketed from eight to 13.

    “We’re the ones down here. We’re the ones who know our community, we know what our needs are,” said Villarreal. “I say this to the governor: you cannot tie my hands at all.”

  135. blf says

    Hair furor, his family and dalekocrazy aren’t the only incompetent Putin-controlled scumbags profiteering off the pandemic. In teh NKofE, Firm with links to Gove and Cummings given Covid-19 contract without open tender. (Michael Grove is a minister, and the unelected Dominic Cummings is teh NKofE’s Stephen Miller.)

    Research company owned by associates of senior Tory and PM’s adviser gets £840,000 job

    […]

    Public First, a small policy and research company in London, is run by James Frayne, whose work alongside Cummings — the prime minister’s senior adviser — dates back to a Eurosceptic campaign 20 years ago, and Rachel Wolf, a former adviser to Gove who co-wrote the Conservative party’s 2019 election manifesto.

    The government justified the absence of a competitive tendering process, which would have enabled other companies to bid, under emergency regulations that allow services to be urgently commissioned in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

    However, the Cabinet Office’s public record states that portions of the work, which involved focus group research, related to Brexit rather than Covid-19, a joint investigation by the Guardian and openDemocracy has established.

    A Cabinet Office spokesman said this was because of bookkeeping methods, and insisted that, contrary to government records, all the focus group research done by Public First was related to the pandemic.

    The Cabinet Office, where Gove is the minister responsible, initially commissioned Public First to carry out focus groups from 3 March, although no contract was put in place until 5 June.

    […]

    When a contract was finally produced on 5 June, it was made retrospective to cover the work done since 3 March. The Cabinet Office paid Public First £253,000 for the two projects listed as being Brexit-related and two more pieces of work done before the contract was put in place.

    […] The deal also included “on-site resource to support No 10 communications” in the form of a Public First partner, Gabriel Milland, being seconded to Downing Street until 26 June.

    Milland was the head of communications at the Department for Education when Gove was the minister and Cummings was his political adviser.

    […]

    Rachel Reeves, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: “It beggars belief that the government’s desperate defence of handing a contract for daily focus groups on Covid-19 to longstanding friends of ministers is coincidence, and to blame clerical incompetence for the reference to the work on Brexit. They should come clean about the purpose of this project, why this company was chosen without it going to tender and publish the research findings and recommendations for people to see for themselves.”

    […]

  136. says

    WaPo – “CDC feels pressure from Trump as rift grows over coronavirus response”:

    The June 28 email to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was ominous: A senior adviser to a top Health and Human Services Department official accused the CDC of “undermining the President” by putting out a report about the potential risks of the coronavirus to pregnant women.

    The adviser, Paul Alexander, criticized the agency’s methods and said its warning to pregnant women “reads in a way to frighten women . . . as if the President and his administration can’t fix this and it is getting worse.”

    As the country enters a frightening phase of the pandemic with new daily cases surpassing 57,000 on Thursday, the CDC, the nation’s top public health agency, is coming under intense pressure from President Trump and his allies, who are downplaying the dangers in a bid to revive the economy ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. In a White House guided by the president’s instincts, rather than by evidence-based policy, the CDC finds itself forced constantly to backtrack or sidelined from pivotal decisions.

    The latest clash between the White House and its top public health advisers erupted Wednesday, when the president slammed the agency’s recommendation that schools planning to reopen should keep students’ desks six feet apart, among other steps to reduce infection risks. In a tweet, Trump — who has demanded schools at all levels hold in-person classes this fall — called the advice “very tough & expensive.”

    “While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” Trump tweeted Wednesday. The CDC was already planning to issue new guidelines in the coming days. But Vice President Pence on Wednesday explicitly tied the effort to Trump’s ire.

    “The president said today we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Pence told reporters. “And that’s the reason next week the CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools.”

    Analysts say the deepening divide is undermining the authority of one of the world’s premier public health agencies, which previously led fights against malaria, smallpox and HIV/AIDS. Amid the worst public health crisis in a century, the CDC has in recent months altered or rescinded recommendations on topics including wearing masks and safely reopening restaurants and houses of worship as a result of conflicts with top administration officials.

    “At a time when our country needs an orchestrated, all-hands-on-deck response, there is simply no hand on the tiller,” said Beth Cameron, former senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council.

    In the absence of strong federal leadership, state and local officials have been left to figure things out for themselves, leading to conflicting messaging and chaotic responses. Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the World Health Organization further undermined efforts to influence global strategies against the coronavirus, including how vaccines will be distributed.

    The CDC, meanwhile, is increasingly isolated — a function both of its growing differences with the White House and of its own significant missteps earlier in the outbreak.

    During a May lunch with Senate Republicans, Trump told the group the CDC “blew it” on the coronavirus test and that he’d installed a team of “geniuses” led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner to handle much of the response, according to two people familiar with the lunch who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    “There is a view the CDC is staffed with ‘deep state’ Democrats that are trying to tweak the administration,” said one adviser who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations.

    White House officials, who see the president’s reelection prospects tied to economic recovery, also say they’ve been deeply frustrated by what they view as career staffers at the agency determined “to keep things closed,” according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations.

    Trump believes the CDC is “ineffective” and a “waste of time” but doesn’t blame CDC Director Robert Redfield and generally likes him, said another official speaking on the condition of anonymity. “He just thinks he is a poor communicator,” the official added.

    Even Redfield’s supporters say he has failed to be an effective advocate for the agency.

    The diminished role of the 74-year-old agency has bewildered infectious-disease experts, as well as members of the public seeking guidance.

    After six states set one-day case records on July 3, Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at Emory University’s School of Medicine, tweeted at Tom Frieden, a former CDC director, “Tom, where is @CDCgov ? Why are they not out there shouting ‘fire’?”

    Frieden shot back: “They are still there, still doing great work, just not being allowed to talk about it, not being allowed to guide policy, not being allowed to develop, standardize, and post information that would give, by state and county, the status of the epidemic and of our control measures.”

    Jeffrey Duchin, the health officer at Seattle and King County health department, added: “Agree. Muzzled, neutered and exiled.”

    The agency has been largely invisible. After more than three months of silence, it resumed briefings for the public last month. There have been two.

    By comparison, when the H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit the United States in the spring of 2009, the CDC held briefings almost every day for six consecutive weeks.

    CDC officials say they are still getting their message out, pointing to more than 2,000 documents providing pandemic-related information about reopening and staying safe for dozens of groups and venues, including funeral home directors, amusement parks and pet owners. Each Friday, the CDC also posts CovidView, a weekly report of selected data and trends on testing, hospitalizations and reported deaths.

    But the information is posted without additional explanation or analysis.

    “I want to hear a real person give me three minutes based on these findings,” said del Rio, also a global health and infectious-disease professor at Emory. “I want to see them in the news, being interviewed, giving us the data.”

    Scientists at the CDC and former colleagues speak of deep frustration and low morale over its inability to fully share and explain scientific and medical information.

    Researchers are fearful for their jobs and want to protect the integrity of the data they release. “If you want to say something, you’re thinking, ‘what’s the White House going to say and how are they going to use it,’ ” said one longtime scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

    Alarmed at the agency’s diminished role, nearly 350 public health organizations sent a letter Tuesday to Azar urging him to advocate for the CDC. The agency must be allowed to speak based on the best available science “and with an unfettered voice,” said John Auerbach, president and chief executive of Trust for America’s Health, a public health nonprofit that led the effort.

    House Democrats echoed those concerns in a separate letter to Azar last month. Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said they were troubled by reports that administration officials are considering narrowing the CDC’s mission and embedding more political appointees at the Atlanta-based agency.

    Traditionally the CDC has one political appointee, the director. Now it has Redfield and five other political appointees, including two advisers added in recent weeks.

    White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows views the agency as a problem and has criticized the CDC repeatedly to other administration officials, said a senior administration official.

    White House and HHS officials are discussing what the CDC’s “core mission needs to be,” said one adviser familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on policy deliberations. The discussions were first reported by Politico.

    Over the years, the agency that was founded to fight malaria now works on virtually every aspect of public health. “It has tried to be everything to everyone,” the adviser said, suggesting the agency might need to refocus more narrowly.

    On the global front, administration officials are also weighing a $2.5 billion initiative called the President’s Response to Outbreaks that would move a significant portion of national and international pandemic responses to the State Department, according to a draft obtained by The Post. Details were first reported by Devex.

    Administration officials are “seeing political boogeymen where there aren’t any,” the federal health official said, adding that such narratives could further hamper the U.S. response.

    “It could feed the fire to limit the flow of scientific data and communication to the general population,” the official said. “People are getting sick and dying. Can we just focus on the science?”…

    Everything about this is insane. The situation is completely untenable. Republicans are propping up a cult of personality around a psychopathic imbecile, they’re destroying the government, and people are dying. This can’t continue.

  137. says

    Daniel Dale:

    Trump complained on Hannity tonight that the media keeps reporting on coronavirus cases. He said, “All the time, ‘cases.’ And those cases get better. In most — most cases — in almost — I mean, literally, in most cases, they automatically cure. They automatically get better.”

    He has to resign.

  138. blf says

    More amusing than sinister, here in France, Facing ridicule, France changes title for its ‘minister for attractiveness’ (France24 edits in {curly braces}):

    After provoking mockery on social media with its new “minister for foreign trade and attractiveness”, the French government on Tuesday dropped the overly literal translation for the dossier tasked with luring more trade and investment to France.

    […] Macron’s cabinet revamp brought commentary of another variety when the French foreign ministry’s Twitter account offered a list of its new cabinet positions into English, naming Franck Riester the new “minister for foreign trade and attractiveness”.

    The Twitterverse was quick to respond.

    Politico reporter Zia Weiss tweeted: “only France could have a minister for attractiveness (but srsly: what)”. “‘Attractiveness’. International relations are going to get interesting …” one French joker replied to original tweet. “When you think your mastery of a foreign language is better than it is. Although {Riester} is, in fact, an attractive man,” another responded.

    The Quai d’Orsay’s assertion that it had looked up the word on the Oxford English dictionary website did little to stem the mockery. The three definitions it gives are, “The quality of being pleasing or appealing to the senses,” “(in a person) the quality of being appealing or sexually alluring to look at” and “The possession of qualities or features that arouse interest.”

    A French foreign ministry communiqué issued on Tuesday instead referred to Riester as the minister for trade and “appeal”. The next day, the Quai d’Orsay’s head of English-language communications said “economic attractiveness” would be the phrase to use.

    But that works much better in the language of Molière than of Shakespeare. “Attractivité” can describe something that is economically attractive, as in the case of attracting investment, rather than good looks.

    […]

    Other problems arise when trying to communicate the happenings in French politics. It seems impossible to translate La France Insoumise — the name of the far-left party led by firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon — with a straight face. The Economist calls it “Unsubmissive France” and Politico came up with “France Untamed”. The New York Times writes “Rebellious France”. In its 2017 French presidential election coverage, FRANCE 24 called the party “Indomitable France” and later settled on “France Unbowed”.

    The name of the centrist party Macron founded for his insurgent run for the Élysée Palace — En Marche — poses another translation challenge for the anglophone world. At the time, Macron’s PR people opted to translate En Marche! as “Onward!” although many Anglophone media translated it as, “On the move!”

    […]

    I suggest “minister for foreign trade and atrocious translation”.

  139. says

    Rep. Joaquin Castro:

    My stepmom, Alice Guzman, passed away today from COVID-19. She and my dad were for married for 31 years. Alice (pictured with my daughter) was a warm, loving person and we’ll miss her incredibly.

    My heart goes out to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this terrible illness.

  140. blf says

    US senators press Trump over detention of Saudi ex-spy’s children:

    Saad al-Jabri’s children Sarah and Omar have been detained by the Saudi government since March.

    Four US senators have called on President [sic] Donald Trump to help free the detained children of a former top Saudi intelligence official exiled in Canada.

    In a joint letter released on Thursday, Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy, Tim Kaine and Chris Van Hollen, alongside Republican Senator Marco Rubio, said the Saudi royal family was holding the children of Saad al-Jabri — Sarah and Omar — as leverage to force his return to the kingdom.

    The two adult children, and a brother of Saad al-Jabri, who is said to hold key state secrets, were detained in Riyadh in March.

    […]

    The senators claimed that al-Jabri was a “highly valued partner” of US intelligence agencies, who had aided Washington in the fight against armed groups such as al-Qaeda.

    “As a top intelligence officer in Saudi Arabia, Dr Al-Jabri has been credited by former CIA officials for saving thousands of American lives by discovering and preventing terrorist plots,” the letter said

    “His development of a modern forensics system in Saudi Arabia reportedly contributed to the significant curtailing of terrorist groups including al-Qaeda,” the senators added.

    Al-Jabri’s intelligence career came to an end following the power struggle between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and his predecessor, Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN), to whom al-Jabri was a top aide.

    […]

    Saudi Arabia has been exerting pressure on Canada to extradite al-Jabri even though Ottawa does not have an extradition treaty with the kingdom, local media outlet The Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Monday.

  141. blf says

    New York report finds 25 wrongful convictions, most Black men:

    First-time US district attorney report shows poor police, legal practices cost 25 men 426 combined years in prison.

    A groundbreaking report released Thursday details 25 wrongful convictions by The Kings County District Attorney’s office (KCDA) in Brooklyn, New York, costing people 426 combined years behind bars.

    Entitled “426 Years: An Examination of 25 Wrongful Convictions in Brooklyn, New York” (PDF) released in conjunction with the Wilmer Hale law firm and the Innocence Project, marks the first time a US District attorney has conducted a comprehensive review of their office’s wrongful convictions, the Innocence Project’s Senior Litigation Counsel Nina Morrison said in a release.

    […]

    The 25 wrongful convictions came from across 20 cases that were reviewed by the Conviction Review Unit (CRU), established in 2014. Their findings highlight the significant racial disparity in wrongful convictions. Of the 25, only one was white.

    […]

    The cases featured various levels of misconduct from police, prosecutors and defence lawyers, the CRU found. These included false or unreliable confessions, witness misidentifications, credibility issues with witnesses and the plausibility of confession.

    For example, no evidence suggested Scott Moore nor Tony Stevens, who were both 16 at the time of the crimes, “could drive, had ever driven a car before, had access to a car, or had a license.”

    “Yet to believe their confessions, one would have to accept that the two boys drove continuously for hours in traffic during the day from Queens to Brooklyn — while holding their victim in the backseat of the car at gunpoint — and then later gassed up the vehicle at a self-serve filling station and parallel parked on a street,” the report said.

    Some cases even featured evidence that was withheld.

    […]

  142. blf says

    Police interrogate five Australian Al Jazeera journalists accused of sedition in Malaysia:

    Journalists ordered to be questioned after broadcast of documentary about migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur during Covid-19 pandemic

    Six journalists including five Australians are being interrogated by Malaysian authorities who have accused them of sedition and defamation after the broadcast of a documentary about migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur during Covid-19.

    A week after the broadcast of the Al Jazeera English documentary in Malaysia, the journalists were ordered to attend the police station for questioning on Friday morning.

    Malaysian police have told them they are being investigated for sedition, defamation and violation of the country’s Communications and Multimedia Act.

    Officials have also issued a search notice for a migrant who was interviewed during the documentary, prompting concern that he may be retaliated against. […]

    […]

    The film documented immigration raids and migrants hiding from officials, events which were covered by the local and international media.

    Since the broadcast of Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown on 3 July the documentary team, who are almost all Australian, has been subjected to online abuse and death threats.

    […]

    Al Jazeera said: “Al Jazeera is deeply concerned that its staff are now subject to a police investigation.

    “Charging journalists for doing their jobs is not the action of a democracy that values free speech. Journalism is not a crime.

    “Al Jazeera also has grave concerns about the sustained online harassment its staff are facing. Reporters have been targeted with abusive messages and death threats.

    “The personal details of current and former staff have been published online, in a serious breach of privacy which could potentially expose them to great risk both now and in the future.”

    The 25-minute film, by the award-winning 101 East documentary strand, examined why Malaysia’s undocumented foreign migrant workers were at risk in the time of Covid-19.

    Malaysian authorities were widely criticised for rounding up and detaining hundreds of undocumented migrants in May, through operations intended to control coronavirus. Police walked people through Kuala Lumpur in single file to a detention building, apparently to prevent undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas and spreading Covid-19. At the time, the UN said the move could push vulnerable groups into hiding and prevent them from seeking treatment.

    Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has written to the Malaysian high commission urging it to drop the case.

    […]

    The Malaysian defence minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, called on Al Jazeera to apologise to Malaysians, saying allegations of racism and discrimination against undocumented migrants were untrue.

    Rights groups have expressed alarm at an intensified crackdown on critical voices under the government of Muhyiddin Yassin, who was named prime minister by the king in March, following the collapse of the multiracial reformist coalition that had been elected two years earlier.

    Over recent months, prominent journalists, NGO workers, opposition figures and members of the public have faced investigations or charges.

    […]

    Just last week, a 57-year-old man was fined around $470 for posting insulting remarks about the country’s health minister, despite the court noting that his comments were not malicious or excessive. He could face prison if he fails to pay the fine.

    The increased use of the country’s notoriously broad laws — including the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act — have added to fears that the country is returning to the repression of previous governments.

    […]

    Al Jazeera’s own report on this harassment, Al Jazeera journalists questioned over Malaysia documentary:

    […]
    “This is part of quite a sustained effort by the government to quell down on freedom of expression,” said Aira Azhari from the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs. “It also speaks to a broader effort to perhaps contain certain critical views within the press and civil society.”

    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Friday called on Malaysia to drop the case against Al Jazeera and to allow journalists to do their jobs.

    “There has been a distinct pattern under the COVID-19 crisis of media workers targeted under Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act and Penal Code for simply doing their job,” the federation said in a statement. “It is urgent for Malaysia during the pandemic to prioritise the public’s right to know and for the media to be able to report freely and failrly without the threat of persecution.”

    […]

  143. blf says

    Facebook used extensively to spread neo-Nazi music:

    An Al Jazeera investigation identified some 120 pages belonging to bands with openly white supremacist and racist views.

    Facebook has removed several pages belonging to music groups espousing white supremacist ideology following an investigation by Al Jazeera into the prevalence of such bands on the social media platform.

    Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit identified more than 120 pages from mostly heavy metal groups and record labels with direct ties to white supremacy. The pages had gained a total of more than 800,000 likes and some have been online for more than 10 years.

    After sending five examples to Facebook, the platform removed three of the pages of such bands, adding that the two others were still under review.

    The three removed pages of the SoldierSS of Evil, Whitelaw and Frangar groups all violated Facebook’s policies, according to the social media giant.

    However, other pages identified by Al Jazeera are still online in breach of the company’s policies on hate speech.

    The news comes the same week Facebook released an internal audit that heavily criticised the company’s record on addressing civil rights and preventing hate speech.

    […]

    Al Jazeera discovered the majority of the pages have been online for years, with many actively posting news on upcoming performances, music releases and advertising for merchandise, sometimes using white supremacist imagery.

    One of the more popular pages belongs to M8l8th, a black metal music act from Ukraine, whose full name means Hitler’s Hammer.

    […]

    The band’s founder, a Russian national named Alexey Levkin, is closely linked to Ukraine’s far-right nationalist Azov Battalion […]. Levkin is also one of the organisers of Asgardsrei, a neo-Nazi music festival held annually in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Festivalgoers have been seen waving swastika flags and making Nazi salutes.

    Al Jazeera identified Facebook pages belonging to bands that have performed at Asgardsrei, including Goatmoon, a Finnish black metal band whose page has more than 12,000 likes.

    Despite denying links to white supremacy, an image posted on the band’s Facebook page shows a picture of one of the guitarists with a tattoo blurred. Uncensored pictures indicate that the tattoo is of a swastika. [images at link …]

    [… more examples…]

    “White supremacists have always used extreme music, from punk to black metal, as a recruitment opportunity,” Nick Spooner, who works for anti-racist and anti-fascist advocacy group HOPE not hate, told Al Jazeera.

    “But social media has completely changed the ways people come in contact with far-right material,” Spooner explained.

    “Before social media, you’d have to go to a show or meet someone to get in touch with these types of bands. Social media has completely changed that, it’s now just a few clicks away.”

    [… yet more examples…]

    In response to questions, a Facebook spokesperson told Al Jazeera the company does not allow hate speech on its platform, including white supremacist content.

    Unfortunately zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero incidents. We have removed three of these Pages for breaking our rules and are reviewing the remaining two against our policies, the spokesperson said.

    […]

    On Wednesday, Facebook released a two-year audit into civil rights and the company’s attempts to curb the spread of hate speech on the platform. The 89-page [“Facebook’s Civil Rights Audit — Final Report” (PDF)] by civil rights experts heavily criticised Facebook, saying it needs to do more about anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish and other hate speech.

    “In our view Facebook’s approach to civil rights remains too reactive and piecemeal,” the report concluded.

    […]

  144. blf says

    Eejits in Ozland, KFC birthday party in Melbourne costs $26,000 in Covid-19 fines after police track order (that’s presumably Ozland dollars, or c.18,000USD):

    […]
    A run for KFC in Melbourne has led to a $26,000 (£14,360) lockdown fine for a group of birthday partygoers.

    The infringement of stay-at-home directions was discovered after two people ordered about 20 meals at a KFC store in Dandenong about 1.30am on Friday.

    The large order raised suspicion among ambulance workers at the store, who notified police of their concern.

    Police followed their car to a townhouse in the suburb where they found a group of people who then tried to hide in the backyard, garage and under beds.

    The Victorian police commissioner, Shane Patton, on Friday said 16 fines for breaching coronavirus restrictions were issued at the party, as the state posted a record 288 new cases of Covid-19.

    “That is absolutely ridiculous that type of behaviour, and it’s a very expensive night,” Patton said.

    “That’s $26,000 that birthday party is costing them. That’s a heck of a birthday party to recall and they’ll remember that one for a long time.”

    […]

  145. stroppy says

    220 Saad

    “It can’t happen here.”
    +
    Low information
    +
    Self-absorption
    +
    Pig headedness
    +
    Throw in a dash of meanness to taste.

    (Just my anecdotal reverse engineering.)

  146. stroppy says

    Fake news! Hoax! So unfair! Like you’ve never seen before! Huge! The greatest in history! Fake news! Hoax! So unfair! Like you’ve never seen before! Huge! The greatest in history!…over and over and over ad nauseam.

    We’ve been stupefied into submission.

    Well, some of us have.

  147. says

    AP – “AP: After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4B in virus aid”:

    The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.

    The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.

    Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration. But as the economy plummeted and jobless rates soared, Congress let faith groups and other nonprofits tap into the Paycheck Protection Program, a $659 billion fund created to keep main street open and Americans employed.

    By aggressively promoting the payroll program and marshaling resources to help affiliates navigate its shifting rules, Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools and other ministries have so far received approval for at least 3,500 forgivable loans, AP found.

    The Archdiocese of New York, for example, received 15 loans worth at least $28 million just for its top executive offices. Its iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue was approved for at least $1 million.

    In Orange County, California, where a sparkling glass cathedral estimated to cost over $70 million recently opened, diocesan officials working at the complex received four loans worth at least $3 million.

    And elsewhere, a loan of at least $2 million went to the diocese covering Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, where a church investigation revealed last year that then-Bishop Michael Bransfield embezzled funds and made sexual advances toward young priests.

    Simply being eligible for low-interest loans was a new opportunity. But the church couldn’t have been approved for so many loans — which the government will forgive if they are used for wage, rent and utilities — without a second break.

    Religious groups persuaded the Trump administration to free them from a rule that typically disqualifies an applicant with more than 500 workers. Without this preferential treatment, many Catholic dioceses would have been ineligible because — between their head offices, parishes and other affiliates — their employees exceed the 500-person cap.

    “The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a kind of structural favoritism,” said Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor specializing in constitutional issues and religion who has studied the Paycheck Protection Program. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.”

    The amount that the church collected, between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion, is an undercount. The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, an organization of Catholic financial officers, surveyed members and reported that about 9,000 Catholic entities received loans. That is nearly three times the number of Catholic recipients the AP could identify.

    The AP couldn’t find more Catholic beneficiaries because the government’s data, released after pressure from Congress and a lawsuit from news outlets including the AP, didn’t name recipients of loans under $150,000 — a category in which many smaller churches would fall. And because the government released only ranges of loan amounts, it wasn’t possible to be more precise.

    Even without a full accounting, AP’s analysis places the Catholic Church among the major beneficiaries in the Paycheck Protection Program, which also has helped companies backed by celebrities, billionaires, state governors and members of Congress.

    The program was open to all religious groups, and many took advantage. Evangelical advisers to President Donald Trump, including his White House spiritual czar, Paula White-Cain, also received loans….

    Much more at the link. Deep breaths.

  148. blf says

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

    We know the Donald Trump cares deeply about his rating numbers — whether that is political polls or on the television. He maybe shouldn’t look at the app store at the moment.

    Bloomberg are reporting that thousands of TikTok fans are review-bombing the official Donald Trump campaign app in the Apple store in retaliation for noises coming from Trump’s administration that they are considering a ban on the app for security reasons.

    […]

    Unrelated, just now-ish:

    Speaking to reporters before leaving for Florida, Trump also accused Joe Biden of copying his campaign platform with the Democrat’s “buy American” proposal.

    […]

    It’s a plan that is very radical left but he says the right things because he’s copying what I’ve done. But the difference is he can’t do it, and he knows he’s not doing that.

    […]

    According to the Washington Post, some of the president’s allies were frustrated that Biden released his proposal before Trump unveiled his similar “buy American” plan, which has been held up for months due to internal White House objections.

    So Trump is essentially accusing Biden of plagiarizing a plan that has not yet been released.

  149. blf says

    ‘Not your sexual object’: Corsicans harness the #IWas movement to challenge a culture of silence:

    A burgeoning movement on the French island of Corsica has harnassed [sic (France24 does Grauniad!)†] the #IWas hashtag to recount and denounce acts of sexual violence they suffered as minors, challenging a local culture that is more used to victims’ silence. The hashtag is often simply followed by an age: #IWas7.

    In the southwestern Corsican city of Ajaccio, at least 400 people, mostly young women, marched on July 5 to bring attention to the sexual abuse of minors. Some held signs bearing messages: “Not your sexual object”, “She files a complaint, she dies anyway” and “From 6 to 10 years, by my father”. Marchers chanted, “We are strong, we are proud feminists and radicals, and angry!” The Ajaccio protest followed one in the northern city of Bastia on June 21 when some 300 marched with similar slogans.

    The movement has gained the support of Ajaccio Mayor Laurent Marcangeli, who joined the July 5 march, as well as the mayors of Bastia and Bonifacio, Corsica’s southernmost town. […]

    […]

    The movement comes as something of a surprise for a patriarchal, insular island culture where a code of silence known as omerta has long protected criminals from justice. […]

    “On the island, silence comes from shame and fear of reprisals,” Laetitia Maroccu, a town councillor in Ajaccio and the president of Donne e Surelle, a nonprofit devoted to helping women in Corsica, told AFP.

    “The omerta is not a myth on the island,” said a policeman who is familiar with cases of sexual violence. “Most cases are committed by relatives,” he said, adding: Without a trial, “the victims are not recognised as such”.

    […]

    While victims’ complaints are still rare, 48 complaints of defamation have been filed in Haute-Corse, the French administrative region on the northern half of the island, following “the publication of dozens of names of potential assailants or rapists” in private messages on social media, Tharot said. A 49th complaint has been filed in South Corsica, the island’s second such region.

      † Actually, Wiktionary claims “harnass(ed)” is both a rare and archaic spelling of “harness(ed)”. So possibly more like a “minister for attractiveness” (see @226); the literal French is, I think, “harnais“, albeit in-context “exploiter” might be more appropriate (not too sure!)?

  150. tomh says

    WaPo
    Kentucky governor issues mask mandate amid restraining order, drawing attorney general’s ire

    Kentucky’s Democratic governor has vowed to challenge a judge’s restraining order against future coronavirus-related executive orders, moving ahead with a mask mandate that has put him at odds with the state’s Republican attorney general.

    A county circuit judge on Thursday sided with plaintiffs who sued over Gov. Andy Beshear’s capacity limit on agriculture tourism businesses, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported — delivering a victory for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has challenged Beshear’s measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

    The judge also took aim at future orders from the governor, saying Beshear must “specifically state the emergency that requires the order, the location of the emergency, and the name of the local emergency management agency that has determined that the emergency is beyond its capabilities,” according to the Courier-Journal.

    Beshear went ahead Thursday, however, with a new requirement that people wear face coverings in many public settings, slamming the judge who “thinks he’s an epidemiologist.” He called the judge’s actions “absolutely irresponsible” and “absolutely wrong under the law.”

    But the new rule drew immediate opposition from other Kentucky officials. Cameron, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne noted the county circuit judge’s move in a letter shared by LEX 18 and said Beshear’s approach to the pandemic “has repeatedly violated the Constitution and laws of this Commonwealth.” They criticized “unilaterally imposed arbitrary and over broad orders.”

    On Twitter, Cameron said Beshear’s “attacks on judges … must stop.”

    The mask mandate applies to stores, restaurants and other indoor spaces, as well as outdoor settings where social distancing is impossible.

    By Hannah Knowles

  151. blf says

    More from the Grauniad’s current States pandemic & politics blog:

    Trump has adopted a “woe is me” attitude as the country suffers the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and experiences a reckoning over racism, according to those who have spoken to the president [sic] in recent weeks.

    The Washington Post reports:

    The president [sic] rants about the deadly coronavirus destroying the greatest economy, one he claims to have personally built. He laments the unfair[] fake news media, which he vents never gives him any credit. And he bemoans the sick, twisted police officers in Minneapolis, whose killing of an unarmed black man in their custody provoked the nationwide racial justice protests that have confounded the president [sic].

    Gone, say these advisers and confidants, many speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations, are the usual pleasantries and greetings.

    Instead, Trump often launches into a monologue placing himself at the center of the nation’s turmoil. The president [sic] has cast himself in the starring role of the blameless victim — of a deadly pandemic, of a stalled economy, of deep-seated racial unrest, all of which happened to him rather than the country.

    […]

      † My added eejit quotes, since hair furor has said that, and otherwise the sentence could be misconstrued as the Washington Post saying / agreeing with the unfair description.

  152. says

    Here’s a link to the July 10 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Iraqi lawmaker Ghida Kambash died on Friday after contracting the novel coronavirus, parliament announced, its first member to succumb to the virus as its spread ramps up across the country.

    The 46-year-old was a three-time MP from Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, and helped pass laws on education reform and social welfare. She leaves behind four children.

  153. blf says

    New York’s hungry rats torment al fresco diners after lockdown famine:

    <

    blockquote>[…]
    Diners are facing a surge in rat activity following a lockdown period where the rodents were cut off from key food sources as businesses including restaurants and grocery stores shut down, forcing rats to battle for snacks and even eat each other.

    Since 22 June, New York City restaurants have been allowed to serve people again in outdoor settings, prompting sidewalks and car parking spaces to be dotted with tables and chairs. But the resumption of al fresco dining has led to people having unexpected rodent companions for their meals.

    Giacomo Romano, who owns Ciccio, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan’s Soho, said rats from a nearby park have been harassing diners since the outdoor meals were permitted. “Last night, a customer had a baby rat running on his shoe, and I let you just imagine his reaction,” Romano told NBC.

    […]

    The resumption of dining activity is likely to stir a wave of activity among rats following a period of relative famine, meaning interactions with people are set to continue.

    “Rats are designed to smell molecules of anything that’s food-related,” Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC. “They follow those food molecules like heat-seeking missiles — and eventually you know they end up where those molecules are originating.”

    <

    blockquote>

    If a rat is a food-seeking missile, the mildly deranged penguin is a cheese-seeking horde (all by herself) with added trebuchet.

  154. blf says

    @248, Apologies for the blocked borkquote, I pressed Post Comment by mistake whilst dodging a certain horde and her trebuchet.

  155. lumipuna says

    SC 229:

    Hospitalizations continued to surge in multiple states. Almost a thousand people died.

    Trump is doing an in-person fundraiser in Florida today and a rally in New Hampshire tomorrow.

    My prediction: Fatality rate is starting to shoot up, but won’t be obvious/undeniable until early next week, because of the usual weekend slump in accounting.

    At his two speaking events, Trump will extensively whine about the media’s “unfair” focus on the rising case rate, when fatality rate is supposedly “the lowest ever”.

    On Monday, various health officials will return to their workplace (remotely or not) and figuratively find every fridge filled with dead bodies.

  156. blf says

    Eminem criticises non-mask wearers on new rap track:

    Collaboration with Kid Cudi takes aim at people spreading Covid-19 by not wearing masks

    […]

    On the song [The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady (video)], Eminem raps: “Bunch of halfwits up in office. Half of us walking around like a zombie apocalypse. Other half are just pissed off and don’t want to wear a mask and they’re just scoffin’. And that’s how you end up catchin’ the shit off ’em.

    “I just used the same basket as you shoppin’, now I’m in a fuckin’ casket from you coughin’.”

    Eminem’s lines are a long way from any that the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, would ever use but they articulate similar sentiments. It became compulsory from Friday in Scotland for people to wear face coverings in shops because, Sturgeon said, “we usually don’t know the people we have been in contact with”.

    […]

    The track also refers to the deaths of George Floyd […], and Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed in February while out jogging.

    “Prayers to George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. How the fuck is it that so many cops are dirty? Stop, man, please officer, I’m sorry / But I can’t breathe when I got you on top of me / Your goddamn knee’s on my carotid artery.”

  157. says

    Law&Crime – “E. Jean Carroll’s Lawyer Is Already Using Supreme Court’s Trump v. Vance Decision Against Trump’s ‘Immunity’ Arguments”:

    On Thursday, the Supreme Court held that President Donald Trump was not absolutely immune to the criminal process. On Friday, a lawyer for a woman who has accused the president of rape cited—in the context of a civil case—the day-old SCOTUS decision against the president’s “meritless” claims of “absolute immunity.”

    A lawyer for E. Jean Carroll, the author and journalist who claimed President Trump defamed her when he called her rape accusation a lie, wrote the letter on Friday. Attorney Roberta Kaplan filed a notice adding the Supreme Court precedent of Trump v. Vance as a supplemental authority, in order to argue against continued delay of Carroll’s case in state court:…

    The president’s attorneys countered that Trump was immune from any state court lawsuit while in office and was, therefore, immune to Carroll’s “numerous and burdensome discovery requests,” such as the requested DNA swab.

    Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink, said Friday that the Supreme Court has defenestrated this argument.

    “The United States Supreme Court reminded us yesterday of two crucial principles that guide this nation. First, ‘in our system of government no one is above the law.’ Second, this principle applies to President Trump just like it does to everyone else. Despite years of delay caused by Trump’s lawyers arguing to the contrary, it is now clear that Donald Trump has no special right to defame women who have accused him of sexual misconduct and then avoid the consequences of his actions because he is President,” Kaplan said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “E. Jean Carroll should be permitted to resume discovery in her case as soon as possible so that a jury can decide who is telling the truth – E. Jean or Donald Trump.”…

    Letter atl.

  158. blf says

    lumipuna@250, “My prediction: Fatality rate is starting to shoot up, but won’t be obvious / undeniable until early next week, because of the usual weekend slump in accounting.”

    Broadly, yes, albeit I wouldn’t put(? predict?) it quite as precisely as that. The current surge in cases started mid-June(-ish), about four weeks ago. Some (admittedly quick) searching suggests deaths aren’t recorded as Covid-19–related until four-to-six weeks after infection(? positive test? hospitalisation?). So yeah, that does suggest the States is at about the start of the anticipated unfortunate surge in deaths, but it won’t be “obvious / undeniable” for awhile, at least not to the loons who don’t wear masks, ignore epidemiology, etc. Unfortunately, that includes hair furor and his dalekocrazy, who are perfectly capable of, and prone to with a long history of, both denying and ignoring the obvious.

  159. says

    Michael McFaul re #225 – “I watched this interview tonight live and was shocked that President Trump revealed that he had recently taken a cognitive test at Walter Reed. Wow. We obviously need to know more about that visit.”

    He’s supposed to be visiting Walter Reed this weekend (and wearing a mask, but the whole visit is wildly irresponsible). I almost wonder if it’s a cover for some sort of exam.

  160. lumipuna says

    blf 255:

    Well, I’m not too serious about the accuracy of my prediction, and I certainly don’t expect Trump to immediately shut up about the “low” death rate.

  161. blf says

    Follow-up to @111(previous page), Police apologise to woman told to cover up anti-Boris Johnson T-shirt:

    British Transport Police say instruction to Jessie-Lu Flynn at BLM protest was unlawful

    Police have apologised to a woman after she was challenged by officers at a Black Lives Matter demonstration for wearing an anti-Boris Johnson T-shirt and admitted that asking her to cover up the slogan on her clothing was unlawful.

    Jessie-Lu Flynn, an actor and the founder of the immersive theatre company Wide Eyes, was wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Fuck Boris” at a BLM rally in central London on 3 June. She said she had worn the T-shirt on more than a dozen occasions without being challenged by police.

    […]

    Flynn welcomed the police apology and admission that they had acted unlawfully towards her. “I’m thrilled,” she said. “Now I can be confident that I can wear the T-shirt without fear of arrest.”

    She said she had decided to take legal action because an important principle was at stake. “Two of the early signs of an authoritarian state are being told what to wear and being told you can’t criticise the government,” she said.

    She said she was conscious that the colour of her skin and her connections, which enabled her to find good lawyers, might have helped her secure the outcome.

    “I’ve been very concerned about the recent media reports of police racism against some black individuals. I hope that the police can focus on rectifying those problems of racism rather than on stopping people for wearing T-shirts,” she said.

    […]

    Flynn said as the original producer of the Fuck Boris T-shirts was no longer manufacturing them, she and a friend had started producing similar T-shirts, with 20% of proceeds being donated to BLM charities.

    […]

  162. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    A French bus driver declared brain dead after an attack by passengers who refused to wear face masks died on Friday, his family told AFP.

    Philippe Monguillot, 59, died in hospital, his daughter Marie said. “We decided to let him go. The doctors were in favour and we were as well,” she said.

    Monguillot was attacked in the southwestern town of Bayonne on Sunday after he asked three passengers to wear masks – in line with coronavirus rules across France – and tried to check another man’s ticket.

    Two men have been charged with attempted murder, two others with non-assistance to a person in danger and another with attempting to hide a suspect, the local prosecutor’s office said.

    The two charged with attempted murder are aged 22 and 23. They were previously known to the police.

  163. blf says

    lumipuna@257, Ok, that was just my pedantism sneaking into your very valid general point.

  164. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Record 24-hour increase in global cases

    The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 228,102 in 24 hours.

    The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report.

    The previous WHO record for new cases was 212,326 on July 4. Deaths remained steady at about 5,000 a day.

    Global coronavirus cases exceeded 12 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than 555,000 people in seven months.

  165. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s raging bigots & supporting daleks current live blog:

    Trump threatens universities’ tax-exempt status as he pushes schools to reopen

    Shortly before landing in Florida this afternoon, Trump sent a pair of tweets threatening the funding and tax-exempt status of universities and schools.

    Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education, Trump said in the tweet thread.

    Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status … and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!

    […]

    Presuming he’s not lying yet again, the recommendation should be to remove that or other special status of places like liberty “university”, sunday schools, and various others places of similar ilk (including trump “university”, albeit that scam no longer exists). They do not Educate in the sense educated people understand the word. This is also a dog-klaxon to his dwindling base.

  166. says

    Amid ongoing concerns of small crowds, the Trump campaign canceled a rally planned for Saturday in New Hampshire, citing safety concerns about an incoming tropical storm”

    (Tropical Storm Fay is the earliest F storm on record, and the previous storm Edouard was the earliest E storm on record. None of the six named storms this year have become hurricanes, but the water is getting very warm.)

  167. blf says

    Apparently, hair furor’s covidathron in New Hampshire has been postponed — he didn’t employ his sharpie soon enough — Trump’s New Hampshire rally delayed because of Tropical Storm Fay:

    President [sic] Donald Trump’s Portsmouth, New Hampshire, rally has been delayed, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday.

    McEnany told reporters aboard Air Force One that the rally would be postponed a week or two due to the impending storms in the area. The rally was slated to be held outside at an airplane hangar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    […]

    Ahead of the now-postponed Saturday rally, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared to downplay crowd expectations, claiming that millions of supporters are staying home because they already support Trump and don’t need to see him in person amid a pandemic.

    […]

  168. blf says

    A snippet from the Grauniad’s raging bigots & supporting daleks current live blog:

    The president [sic] continued, Joe Biden is a puppet of Bernie Sanders, AOC, the militant left, the people that want to rip down statues and monuments to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin.

    Trump then repeated his bizarre claim that Democrats are pushing for the removal of statues of Jesus Christ. Jesus! Okay, Jesus. They want to rip down statues to Jesus, Trump said, before confidently predicting Biden would lose the election.

  169. blf says

    @268 and @270, and as per @269, The current weather forecasts for the Portsmouth NH area do suggest that at the Covidathron’s scheduled time, and for some hours both before and after, weather isn’t likely an issue. The Grauniad has also picked up on this, Trump’s New Hampshire rally delayed by weather, White House claims:

    White House said Saturday event postponed due to tropical storm despite weather forecasts showing area not expected to be affected

    […]

    The White House said the event had been postponed for safety reasons because of Tropical Storm Fay and would be rescheduled, despite local weather forecasts showing the area was not expected to be affected.

    Tropical story Fay was expected to bring 2–4in (5–10cm) of rain, with the possibility of flash flooding in parts of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England, The US National Hurricane Center said in its 5am advisory on Friday, revising the severity of the storm down from earlier forecasts.

    […]

    The currently-predicted track puts both the storm and the area affected over 200km away (my estimated distance). I don’t know about previous track predictions, or about knock-on effects on flights and other transport, but at the moment, presuming hair furor’s dalekocrazy isn’t lying again, the main storm-related reason I can think of to postpone is to not put an undue burden on New Hampshire’s resources (First Responders &tc). Of course, knowing who is making the claim and their unfamiliarity-with and contempt-of transparency, truth, and so on, there are many possible other reasons…

  170. says

    blf @ #272, this is the forecast for Portsmouth tomorrow evening. Any storm NH gets, which should be a few thundershowers in any event (it’s in northern New England), would be long gone by the time of the event. As Jennifer Rubin put it, “Cloudy with a chance of a puny crowd.”

  171. quotetheunquote says

    @ SC 267 – Well, I was going to say, but… the days are so long now, you never know what kind of abomination will come up in the next hour.

    @SC 262 – My fave was Sarah as the Dr. – “…rarely has anyone done what you just did!” Her eyebrows, omg…

  172. blf says

    Over 40 Florida hospitals max out ICU capacity as Covid-19 cases surge across US:

    Coronavirus infections rising in 41 states, including less densely populated areas

    […] Cases a day have nearly doubled in Florida, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 40 hospitals across the state maxed out their intensive care unit capacity, NBC News reported.

    “We’re putting ourselves at risk and other people aren’t willing to do anything and in fact go the other way and be aggressive to promote the disease,” Dr Andrew Pastewski, intensive care unit medical director at Jackson South medical center in Miami, told Reuters. Pastewski himself was diagnosed with Covid-19. “It’s just disheartening,” he said.

    [… S]tates are now facing immediate questions about how and whether to reopen school buildings. Students in many sunbelt states return to classes in early to mid-August. The Trump administration ratcheted up the pressure this week by threatening the funding of schools which remain closed.

    “We’re truly not ready,” Marcia Andrews, a Palm Beach county, Florida, school board member, told the Palm Beach Post. “We’re not ready from a health standpoint. And we’re not ready from a planning standpoint.” The district, where Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is located, will hold entirely virtual classes this fall.

    But with cases rising in 41 states, even less densely populated areas are now seeing hospitals fill up, with no end in sight.

    “Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients,” Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi health officer, said at a press conference on Thursday, according to the Mississippi Free Press. He said the state’s five largest hospitals were filling up, and he and other health officials begged the public to wear masks.

    “Many days, we have more patients than we have rooms,” said Dr LouAnn Woodward, vice-chancellor of the University of Mississippi medical center.

    The Trump administration has largely sought to ignore the pandemic. On Friday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, told the Financial Times he had not directly briefed the president [sic] in two months. […]

    Meanwhile, As COVID-19 Cases Spike, Right-Wing Activists Plan National Rallies to Combat Radical Leftists:

    [… R]ight-wing activists Scott Presler and Brandon Straka are planning and fundraising for national rallies meant to confront the radical leftists they believe have taken over the country in the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd.

    Presler, a former activism strategist for the ​anti-Islam ACT For America, spoke at the Fairfax County Republican Committee in Virginia on July 7 and turned his final minutes over to Straka, who founded the #WalkAway campaign designed to turn Democratic voters into Republicans. On his way to the stage, Straka stopped to hug several audience members.

    You guys, it feels so good to be hugging people again, Straka said, adding, I am so sick of all this shutdown bullshit. [keep on hugging and that won’t be your only sickness –blf]

    […] Straka said that watching news reports about civil unrest following the death of George Floyd made him feel powerless and that he didn’t see conservative leadership doing much on the issue.

    In the absence, it seems, of any real leadership, any real pushback, we’re just going to step up and take leadership ourselves, Straka said.

    […]

    Everybody right now is just waiting for one person to step up and say ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’ So guys, here’s what we’re going to do,” Straka said. “We’re going to take our streets back. We’re going to take our neighborhoods back. We’re going to take our cities back. We’re going to take this whole damn country back.

    […]

    Brandon Straka is the nutter American Airlines banned for refusing to wear a face mask. So far, RWW reports, Presler and Straka haved raised 67,000USD of a 500,000USD goal to finance their coup d’état attempt.

  173. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 223:

    administration officials are also weighing a $2.5 billion initiative called the President’s Response to Outbreaks that would move a significant portion of national and international pandemic responses to the State Department

    OMFG. So they would put Pompeo in charge?

    That will end up being $2.5 billion that is spent mostly on trumpian propaganda … and some of it may go directly into the pockets of Trump and his buddies.

  174. blf says

    Scrabble bans racist and LGBTQ slurs from N.American tournaments:

    Head of North American Players Association defies advisory board to blacklist some 230 offensive words.

    North American Scrabble competitors will no longer be able to play racist and homophobic slurs [examples redacted], the head of the players’ association has said, in an 11th-hour ruling that went against his own advisory board.

    John Chew, chief executive of the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA), said he was overturning a vote by the board against the proposed change, and would remove a list of more than 230 offensive words from the game.

    “We cannot … continue to look only inward or think that how we feel about our vocabulary is more important than broader social issues,” he said in an emailed statement late on Thursday.

    “Accordingly, on behalf of the executive committee, and with the consent of our board of trustees, I am … overturning the advisory board’s ruling and ensuring that the offensive slurs will be removed from our NASPA Word List by September.”

    […]

    Hasbro, the American toy company which owns the US and Canadian trademark for the popular board game, had previously said it was changing the official rules to make clear that slurs are “not permissible in any form”.

    The company has not allowed offensive slurs in Scrabble’s dictionary since 1994. However, technically, Hasbro does not have control over the nearly 200,000 playable words used by the independent association.

    […]

  175. says

    IG report puts ‘Sharpiegate’ in a new, relevant, unflattering light

    New “Sharpiegate” evidence offers a case study in Team Trump prioritizing public-relations considerations over reality-based assessments from experts.

    I can appreciate why parts of the political world dismissed “Sharpiegate” as trivial. After all, for some observers, the whole controversy — to the extent that it deserved to be called a “controversy” was built around Donald Trump needlessly drawing on a map.

    […] there wasn’t anything especially substantive about the fiasco.

    I’ve long disagreed with this perspective, and an inspector general report issued this week helped underscore why.

    The Commerce Department inspector general issued a delayed and harshly critical report laying out how political pressure originating from the White House resulted in the issuance of a poorly crafted and unsigned National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) statement on Sept. 6, 2019.

    Let’s circle back to our earlier coverage for those who may need a refresher on how we arrived at this point.

    [snipped details, as I’m sure most of this thread’s readers remember them well]

    […] Trump displayed a map in the Oval Office in which he literally took a pen and drew a bump onto a NOAA forecast map in order to bend reality to his will. “Sharpiegate” was born.

    […] From the Washington Post’s report:

    According to the inspector general’s report — which does not include redactions, not even for presidential privilege — then-acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Sept. 5 to have the public record corrected in favor of the president, and Mulvaney and Ross were involved in the [NOAA] statement approval process.

    Outraged that the National Weather Service had told the public the truth, Mulvaney wrote on Sept. 5 to the cabinet secretary, “As it currently stands, it appears as if the NWS intentionally contradicted the president. And we need to know why.” Apparently in reference to the president, Mulvaney added, “He wants either a correction or an explanation or both.”

    […] as the inspector general’s report added this week, “The broader, longer-term consequence is that NOAA’s rebuke of the NWS Birmingham office could have a chilling effect on NWS forecasters’ future public safety messages.” In other words, federal forecasters may curtail future public alerts for fear of upsetting an intemperate and easily confused president.

    But taking a step back, “Sharpiegate” also offers a case study in the White House prioritizing public-relations considerations over reality-based assessments from experts and government scientists.

    We couldn’t have known it at the time, but it was a precursor to Team Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis that unfolded soon after.

  176. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] talked to 143 patients who had been hospitalized for and survived COVID. Only 5% had been on a ventilator. So this wasn’t just people who had been on the edge of death. The mean hospitalization had been about two weeks. They were interviewed 60 days after the onset of symptoms. Only 12.6% reported being symptom free. A worsened quality of life was observed among 44.1% of the group. The most common symptoms were fatigue and labored breathing. There are many instances of people with what appears to be permanent organ damage from COVID, persistent neurological or psychiatric impacts. One day you’re healthy and the next you have a permanently compromised heart or kidneys. It’s not great.

    If you’re staying up on COVID news you probably don’t need me to tell you this. Certainly you don’t if you have loved ones who are affected. But even at roughly 130,000 Americans having died of this disease much of the public discussion is significantly understating the full impact of the disease either nationally or individually.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/not-just-die-or-survive

  177. says

    Trump’s surefire strategy of defending dead traitors unexpectedly hits a wall:

    Just a week after Donald Trump used the patriotic backdrop of Mount Rushmore to declare his fealty to the memory of dead traitors, the strategy doesn’t seem to be polling so well among the American public. A new ABC News/Ispos survey released on Friday showed that more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of his handling of race relations, 67%-32%.

    The same poll found that just 5% of Americans report having a “positive reaction” when seeing a Confederate flag displayed, while 43% said they have a “negative reaction” and 52% relayed feeling agnostic on the issue. That 5% is almost surely an undercount, but it still represents the fact that only the slimmest of slim slices of the electorate is proud enough about their warm feelings for a symbol of racism and bigotry to relay them to a pollster.

    Still, Trump is reportedly “going with his gut” on continuing to stoke racial divisions, snatching that 5% […]

    On Wednesday, Trump continued, telling RealClear Politics, “If the Republicans don’t toughen up and get smart and get strong and protect our heritage and protect our country, I think they’re going to have a very tough election.”

    Vice President Mike Pence also pounced on the dead traitor issue Thursday in an “exclusive” interview with Breitbart News, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of a “surrender to the mob.” […]

    During an appearance on Capitol Hill Friday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that Trump is indeed defending dead traitors with his order to safeguard Confederate monuments. “[T]hose officers turned their back on their oath,” Gen. Mark Milley said of the Confederate generals whose names still grace some military bases. “It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution,” Milley added, testifying in support of renaming those bases.

    […] Trump assured reporters Friday that his campaign is “doing very well” in what he called “the real polls.” Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Link

  178. says

    Trump ordered officials to find some reason to deny Vindman’s promotion—they found nothing.

    The early retirement of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman isn’t the largest story in a nation racked by a deadly pandemic, a fragmented economy, and an ongoing fight to restructure public safety in the face of racial violence by police. No one died in this story. No one was locked in a detention center. No one was pulled before a kangaroo court.

    But as more details emerge on Vindman’s final months in the U. S. military, his story does seem to encapsulate so many themes of the last three years. In part that’s because Vindman’s story is the American story—an immigrant who demonstrated that, in America, he could be accepted right in the heart of the government for his expertise. In part that’s because Vindman so clearly placed his bet on honesty and patriotism, trusting in the story of America that America tells itself. And in part it’s because Vindman’s story is the story of Donald Trump’s America, where nothing is more important than vengeance.

    Vindman wasn’t kicked out of the military and he wasn’t facing charges—it was just clear that he was facing a future of … no future. The promotion he was due to receive this summer was not going to happen. Worse still, it was made clear to him that his lifetime of experience in working on issues related to Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern Europe was now worthless, because he was not going to be allowed to work in this area. Instead, what Vindman faced was a future of make-work positions […]

    That’s not a unique situation. […] Facing a lifetime of zero potential and unfulfilling assignments, resignation is the expected response. Those who don’t resign right away, soon realize just how cold it can be within the military when the chain of command turns its back.

    The thing is that Vindman got such a black spot without doing anything wrong. As The New Yorker reports, Vindman’s colleagues and supervisors had nothing but praise.

    When he went in front of the House to testify in Trump’s impeachment, Vindman began with an opening statement for the ages, one that underscored both his commitment to the nation, and his belief in the character of America. “Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision, forty years ago, to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America, in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry—I will be fine for telling the truth.”

    […] his former boss Fiona Hill makes it clear that the moving statement was exactly as honest as it seemed. “Alex had no clue,” said Hill. “He’s a distinguished soldier and was not involved in politics. He was prepared to deal with the enemy outside, but not when the enemy was within. He was pretty shocked as it played out.”

    After being escorted out of the White House, Vindman was slated to be promoted to full colonel, go to the National War College for a season, then return to a foreign posting. None of that happened. Because the White House made it clear that Trump opposed Vindman’s promotion.

    […] White House officials informed Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy that they should “dig for misconduct” and find something in Vindman’s record that would justify blocking his promotion. Esper and McCarthy dug. They didn’t find anything.

    It didn’t matter. Vindman was made aware that he would not be promoted, and “never be deployable overseas again.” He took the route that many have taken in the past and left under his own power.

    It’s a personal tragedy for a man who should have had another decade or more of contributing to the future of the nation he loved. It’s a national tragedy in that it clearly shows how Trump is willing to use his power to quash the lives of honorable people who have the temerity to believe that America is what America claims to be.

  179. says

    ‘You get made fun of’: Trump campaign office shuns masks, social distancing

    Inside the Trump campaign’s headquarters this week, a team of cleaners scrubbed down surfaces and disinfected equipment — a recognition that coronavirus has found its way into the heart of the president’s reelection bid, regardless of Donald Trump’s public dismissals of recent risk.

    The campaign’s headquarters — located on the 14th floor of an Arlington, Va., office building that shares space with multiple businesses — is normally packed with dozens of staffers, often sitting in close proximity to conduct phone calls and other campaign business […]

    But the office was shut down for its first deep cleaning in weeks after a senior campaign official tested positive for the virus. […] There are no face coverings or temporary barriers between desks at headquarters, and leaders have limited efforts to implement social distancing.

    The campaign’s lack of safety protections were visible during Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the office last month, during which he posed for a photo with more than 70 campaign staff, closely packed together and without wearing face coverings — an image that infuriated local officials, who called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to take action and enforce state public health orders on universal masking indoors and social distancing. But Northam, a Democrat, ultimately declined to do so.

    “The governor’s office did not want to get bogged down in a political fight,” […]

    Facing no threat of enforcement, the Trump campaign has continued to make its own rules on coronavirus protections, […] For instance, staff have been told to wear masks outside the office, in case they’re spotted by reporters, but they’ve been instructed that it’s acceptable to remove them in the office […] staff also publicly joke about the risk of coronavirus and play down the pandemic’s threat.

    “You get made fun of, if you wear a mask,” said one person. “There’s social pressure not to do it.”

    The individuals described an environment where campaign staff have been discouraged from telling colleagues whether they were exposed to the virus, particularly after a series of negative headlines about multiple campaign staff testing positive ahead of last month’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. […]

    The most recent scare: Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraising official for the campaign and the girlfriend of President Donald Trump’s oldest son, tested positive for coronavirus last week. […]

    Citing evidence that the coronavirus can be rapidly spread in enclosed spaces, the Centers for Disease Control in May instructed businesses and other organizations to implement social distancing and other protections for employees, like using partitions. Northam also has repeatedly issued orders that organizations must modify office spaces and encourage telework, and the governor on June 30 reiterated that there is a Virginia-wide requirement on wearing face coverings in indoor spaces.

    The Trump campaign defended its approach to office safety.

    “The campaign takes the health and safety of our staff very seriously,” spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told POLITICO in an emailed statement. “We have enacted numerous safety measures above and beyond what most private employers consider, at the expense of the campaign, including weekly deep cleaning, daily temperature checks in the office for staff and guests, widely available masks and PPE, and testing of staff both before events and before returning to the office.”

    Murtaugh did not respond to questions about when the deep cleanings began, why the use of masks and social distancing was limited or how many campaign staff had been sickened. […]

    Raise your hand if you want to work in an office that is run like Trump’s campaign office.

  180. says

    From Wonkette:

    President Mopey McLoserpants is flopping around the White House [complaining] all day, and his aides have had it up to here with the endless pity party. Luckily, the Washington Post reporters are always there with a shoulder and a tape recorder to cry on.

    “Every guy that talks to him, the first half of the conversation is, ‘Woe is me,'” a source told the Post. “They’re all saying, ‘You’ve got to snap out of it. You’re the president. Presidents are supposed to deal with crises.’ But he’s fixated.”

    On the Black Lives Matters protests, the president was similarly statesmanlike.

    “Some stupid cop in Minneapolis kneels on someone’s neck and now everyone is protesting,” he griped to an advisor.

    Whatcha got on the economy, big fella?

    “I had this great economy and they made me shut it down,” he’s reported to say over and over and over to everyone he meets.

    THEY.

    […] Luckily the Toddler in Chief has got aides brainstorming ways to cheer him up. In April, Hope Hicks and Dan Scavino scheduled a Truck Day. You know, like at your kid’s preschool. [photo at the link, big trucks parked in front of the White House]

    BEEP BEEP VROOOOOOOOM!

    Plus those helpful minions are busy cooking up “social media videos that feature throngs of his adoring fans” and sticking bullshit internal polling under his nose that “shows him in a better position than public surveys.” […]

    And if that whiner is still down in the mouth, they can send him over to Hannity for an on-air reacharound. Here is an actual transcript from last night.

    HANNITY: Let me ask you this. I know, when you built all of these hospitals, you brought in the Navy ship for New York. You built the hospital. You built 3,000 beds at the Javits Center. They only used 1,000. The only used like 200 on the Comfort. But you also manned those beds. You also provided the PPE. But you also converted both the ship and the Javits Center, 3,000 beds.

    TRUMP: That’s right.

    HANNITY: They only used 1,000 — to COVID capability. Now, my understanding is, you had to change the ventilation system to actually make that happen.

    TRUMP: Right.

    America,[…] why aren’t you thanking your president for personally manning the COVID ward in New York City?

    Then after talking about ventilation on hospital boats — “they circularize” — Trump went back to claiming Biden was demented and bragging about his amazing ability to differentiate between CLOCK and CAMEL.

    Back at the White House, it’s not all gloom and doom, though. Some advisors tell the Post that Trump’s mood is finally starting to improve as he grows increasingly confident that it’s all starting to turn around and he’ll get that victory he’s got coming to him.

    He has continued to tell advisers, for instance, that he is certain the virus will go away by October and that there will be a “cure” by then — a word he favors over “vaccine.”

    Then, he adds in these tellings, the economy will rebound overnight and he will win a second term.

    You bet, Poppy! Just keep watching that Fox, and it will all be fine.

    Link

  181. says

    The mayor of Seattle confirms that Trump lied … again:

    On Sean Hannity’s show on Thursday night, […] Trump made a startling claim: He said that the mayor of Seattle acted to close down the protests in her city only because she had been privately warned that if she didn’t, Trump would act himself.

    “We were going in,” Trump told Hannity, suggesting he or someone close to him had alerted the mayor of impending action, perhaps military, of some kind: “We let them know that.”

    But in an interview with us, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan flatly denied that any conversation like this with Trump — or anyone around him — ever took place.

    “It just never happened,” Durkan told us. “I don’t know what world he’s living in.” […]

    Washington Post link

  182. says

    NEW: A federal judge in NY – acting quickly on his own and without being asked by either side — has ordered attorneys for President Trump and Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance to inform the court by next Wednesday morning how they expect to proceed with the subpoena for Trump’s tax docs.

    MORE: Judge Victor Marrero who has already ruled that the tax documents from Mazars USA should be handed over through the Grand Jury, a ruling that prompted the Supreme Court fight, is asking the parties to detail ‘potential areas for further argument’.”

  183. says

    Another bleak day: USA reports a record 66,645 cases, more than 4,000 over the last record of two days ago. Positivity 8.09%. 854 fatalities. Fourth day over 800 a day. This is the mortality trend since the beginning minus NY and NJ. You can see the clear shift on the far right.”

    Graph atl.

  184. says

    Michigan Republican Party responds to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new mask order… with new masks”

    The masks say like “Trump 2020” and “Fire Whitmer” and they’re presenting it as some sort of sick burn. These people are so twisted! NO ONE (including Whitmer) CARES what pettiness or cultic affirmations or stupidity you print on the mask! We care about protecting people from a contagious illness! If printing your little slogans on the masks gets you to actually wear the masks we’re all very much for it!

  185. says

    Senior administration official confirms to Politico that President Trump has commuted Roger Stone’s sentence”

    I’d read that there was a threat of rebellion at DoJ if he did something like this. I don’t know if that will come to pass. At this point, it just highlights their contempt for the country, for congress, and for the rule of law. I hope the media focus stays largely on the pandemic and economic collapse.

  186. says

    So, yes, Trump commuted Stone’s sentence. Once Trump pardons a criminal, that criminal, (and other criminals), are tied more closely to Trump. They are more loyal. They are more willing to eat shit if necessary. Trump is the head of a cult with mafia-like criminal tendencies.

  187. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #282:

    There are no face coverings or temporary barriers between desks at headquarters, and leaders have limited efforts to implement social distancing.

    “You get made fun of, if you wear a mask,” said one person. “There’s social pressure not to do it.”

    The individuals described an environment where campaign staff have been discouraged from telling colleagues whether they were exposed to the virus, particularly after a series of negative headlines about multiple campaign staff testing positive ahead of last month’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla.

    I know I’ve been banging this drum for a while, but an organization in which you have to deny reality and risk your own and others’ health and lives to accommodate the whims and delusions of the leader isn’t a campaign; it’s a cult.

  188. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 293:

    ‘He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t’.”

    Translation: Trump is guilty. I didn’t rat on Trump because he bribed me with a promise to get me out of prison.

  189. says

    Hard to imagine a more brazen abuse of power than letting off your own accomplice for deceiving investigators about your collusion with a hostile foreign power’s attack on American democracy.

    https://twitter.com/moscow_project/status/1281738893683900416

    From Caroline Orr:

    Incidentally, Roger Stone admitted today that he expects a commutation from Trump in exchange for refusing to share incriminating information about Trump. Stone said he could have “turn[ed] on him” at any point, which is interesting because how do you flip on an innocent person?

    Just a reminder that issuing a pardon or commuting a sentence in exchange for a witness refusing to testify about your own criminal behavior is in itself an act of obstruction that would need to be investigated by Congress & could lead to new charges (esp. if Trump loses in Nov).

  190. says

    From Andrea Junker:

    It’s so lucky for Roger Stone that he’s just a wealthy white man convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury, and witness tampering, and not, let’s say, a black man sleeping in his car at Wendy’s, because there are serious consequences for that.

    From Lindsey Graham:

    In my view it would be justified if President @realDonaldTrump decided to commute Roger Stone’s prison sentence.

    Mr. Stone is in his 70s and this was a non-violent, first-time offense.

    From Renato Mariotti, in response to Lindsey Graham:

    There are many people over the age of 70 who have been convicted of crimes during Trump’s presidency.

    Roger Stone isn’t receiving a commutation because he’s elderly. He’s receiving a commutation because he didn’t rat out Donald Trump.

  191. says

    JFC!

    In a statement released shortly before 8 p.m., White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”

    Washington Post link

    A few facts:

    Stone, 67, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison after being convicted of seven felony counts including lying about his attempts to get details of Hillary Clinton’s private emails from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, then threatening a witness who could contradict his story.

    A grand jury unanimously convicted Stone on all seven felony counts. Not a hoax.

  192. says

    From Andrew Weissmann:

    Time to put Roger Stone in the grand jury to find out what he knows about Trump but would not tell. Commutation can’t stop that.

  193. says

    From Matthew Miller:

    Vote. If you care at all about whether the rule of law will continue to exist in America, just vote, organize, and if you’re able, donate.

    From Mimi Rocah:

    Any coverage of the Stone commutation must make clear-this didn’t happen just because Stone is a “friend” of Trump’s. It happened because Stone clearly could have implicated Trump & didn’t & has made very clear that he wasn’t doing so in order to get this benefit.

    From Ruth Marcus:

    It is bad enough for Trump to misuse his clemency power to protect Stone–and himself. But this blast at Mueller and prosecutors–“These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice”–is beyond even the Trumpian pale.

    From Bill Kristol:

    Nixon’s Articles of Impeachment (1.9)
    “Endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, & individuals duly tried & convicted, to expect favoured treatment & consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.”

  194. says

    This is useful against people who want to give covid 19 a racist name.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3956094/
    “From the very beginning, syphilis has been a stigmatized, disgraceful disease; each country whose population was affected by the infection blamed the neighboring (and sometimes enemy) countries for the outbreak. So, the inhabitants of today’s Italy, Germany and United Kingdom named syphilis ‘the French disease’, the French named it ‘the Neapolitan disease’, the Russians assigned the name of ‘Polish disease’, the Polish called it ‘the German disease’, The Danish, the Portuguese and the inhabitants of Northern Africa named it ‘the Spanish/Castilian disease’ and the Turks coined the term ‘Christian disease’. Moreover, in Northern India, the Muslims blamed the Hindu for the outbreak of the affliction. However, the Hindu blamed the Muslims and in the end everyone blamed the Europeans [4-6].”

  195. says

    MSNBC last night:

    “Chris Hayes: GOP Is Becoming A Pro-Virus Party Before Our Eyes”:

    Chris Hayes on GOP: “This party is intellectually bankrupt, and entirely unable to meet the moment. It is so corroded … that it will revolt against one of its own members when they do something right to fight the plague to save lives. It’s becoming a pro-COVID party before our eyes.”

    “Steve Schmidt On Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley: ‘Small And Silly Men At A Serious Hour’”:

    Steve Schmidt on GOP leaders: “Not only are they demagogues and silly people, they’re just empty vessels. They’re the type of soulless men and women we see in this terrible age that care nothing of the ideas and ideals of this country.”

    From Maddow last night:

    Nicolle Wallace: “Here’s the problem: You pull the fire alarm, who’s coming? There’s nobody coming.”

  196. says

    Gov. Cuomo:

    New York promised to help states in need as we were helped when we needed it.

    Today we pay it forward.

    Tomorrow we will deliver Remdesivir to Florida to help care for COVID patients.

    The people of NY stand shoulder to shoulder with Americans fighting this virus.

  197. says

    Here’s a link to the July 11 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Dozens of US marines have been infected with coronavirus at two bases on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa in what is feared to be a significant outbreak, the Associated Press reports.

    Okinawa prefectural officials said they could say only that a few dozen cases had been found recently because the US military asked that the exact figure not be released.

    The outbreaks occurred at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is at the centre of a relocation dispute, and Camp Hansen, Okinawan officials said.

    Local media, citing unnamed sources, said about 60 people had been infected.

    “Okinawans are shocked by what we were told [by the US military],” governor Denny Tamaki told a news conference.

    He questioned disease prevention measures taken by the US military and renewed his demand for transparency regarding the latest development.

    Okinawan officials asked the US military on Friday to provide the number of cases and other details in order to address growing concerns among local residents, Tamaki said.

    The marines said in a statement on Friday that troops were taking additional protective measures to limit the spread of the virus and were restricting off-base activities.

    The statement said the measures “are to protect our forces, our families, and the local community”, without providing details on the infections.

    Okinawa is home to more than half of about 50,000 American troops based in Japan under a bilateral security pact, and the residents are sensitive to US base-related problems.

    Many Okinawans have long complained about pollution, noise and crime related to US bases.

  198. says

    CNN – “Debunking 12 lies and falsehoods from the White House statement on Roger Stone’s commutation”:

    President Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend and political adviser Roger Stone on Friday, days before Stone was required to begin his 40-month prison term for lying to Congress about the Trump campaign’s ties to WikiLeaks.

    The extraordinary act of clemency was announced by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She released a lengthy statement that was littered with lies and false claims about the Russia investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller and the details of Stone’s legal case.

    Stone was convicted in November of lying to Congress, obstructing its inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and threatening a witness who could have exposed his lies. The commutation erases Stone’s prison sentence — but the guilty verdicts remain on the books.

    Here’s a breakdown of 12 baseless claims from the White House statement….

    Love this one:

    “Mr. Stone would be put at serious medical risk in prison.”

    -The judge in this case questioned this claim when Stone made it earlier this month, trying to delay the prison sentence. Stone’s lawyers filed a motion saying that he has serious medical conditions, but the judge said their filing “does not identify any medical condition or conditions or contain any private medical information.”

    -She noted that there is not a large coronavirus outbreak fat the federal prison in Georgia where Stone was supposed to serve his sentence. A federal appeals court upheld that ruling on Friday, clearing the way for Stone to report to prison. Trump’s commutation shields Stone from prison.

    Berman said in her order that there wasn’t a single case at the prison to which Stone had been assigned. She ordered him to do two weeks of home confinement to protect himself and the others at the prison because he’s in a global hotspot. Last night, he celebrated with a party in Ft. Lauderdale.

  199. KG says

    Today is the 25th anniversary of the Srebranica massacre, when several thousand Bosian Muslims were murdered by Bosian Serb forces. Here’s part of what Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson said about it in a 1997 article for the Ottawa Citizen:

    Alright, I say, the fate of Srebrenica was appalling. But they weren’t exactly angels, these Muslims.

    Johnson has refused to apologise for this victim-blaming, with his office using the classic “taken out of context” excuse. Here is the context. Judge for yourselves.

  200. says

    Abraar Karan:

    So as states are literally drowning, need to point out that the CDC- your favorite silenced gov org- has a full (actually strong) report out on when to “rebound” & move back phases, w/ public health metrics…

    There are actual gating criteria, based on *public health* data, that guide when moving to a next phase is safe, & when that move has to be reversed (one example below).

    The guidance has been out since May.

    I share this to say– it *did not* have to be this way.

    Many states are spiraling toward recurrent lockdowns.

    This time around, *listen to public health expertise*– reopening was never meant to be easy.

    It was always going to be the hardest part.

    And locking down initially was literally so that we could get systems in place.

    A key part of this was having *surveillance systems* in place that could quickly detect new outbreaks, not relying solely on lagging indicators like deaths or hospitalizations.

    Proactively staying ahead of spikes should be one of the biggest parts of the response.

    Another *key part* was NOT reopening early.

    As you are either fully aware of, or realizing quickly– the economy v the virus “debate” is BS.

    Most of the economy can’t run when people are not safe.

    People are not safe when the virus is uncontrolled.

    There is so much more to be said/done but in short…there has been public health guidance.

    State leaders have chosen to systematically ignore it or take major shortcuts to reopen prematurely.

    They need to be held accountable. If they try to blame it on you, they’re wrong.

    Link to and screenshots from the CDC guidance atl.

  201. says

    Bernie Sanders:

    Remdesivir costs less than $10 to manufacture. @GileadSciences is charging $3,100 for it.

    Taxpayers spent $70 million to develop this drug. Coronavirus has killed 130,000 Americans. It’s time to take control of this patent and provide remdesivir to all who need it.

  202. blf says

    Follow-up to @250, @255, and others:

    US coronavirus deaths on the rise again

    A long-expected upturn in US coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the south and west, where cases have been surging calamitously, according to data on the pandemic.

    […]

    Scientists warned [the recent low death rate] wouldn’t last. A coronavirus death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected. And experts predicted states that saw increases in cases and hospitalizations would, at some point, see deaths rise too.

    Now that’s happening. “It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.

    According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the US has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10, though still well below the heights hit in April.

    Daily reported deaths increased in 27 states over that time period, but the majority of those states are averaging under 15 new deaths per day. A smaller group of states has been driving the nationwide increase in deaths.

    California is averaging 91 reported deaths per day while Texas is close behind with 66, but Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and South Carolina also saw sizable rises.

    New Jersey’s recent jump is thought to be partially attributable to its less frequent reporting of probable deaths.

    […]

    From the Grauniad’s genocidal thugs current live blog.

  203. says

    Sherrilyn Ifill: “Do not forget the jurors who served honorably in this case and were attacked by the President. They sacrificed months of their lives and dealt with death threats. And now the President has undone their work, making a mockery of our lgl system.”

  204. says

    William Barr decapitated yet another U.S. attorney’s office by removing its leadership and putting his own lackeys in charge. This is the third U.S. attorney’s office Barr has turned into a protect-Trump and punish-Trump’s-enemies office.

    At least he tried for three: Washington DC, Southern District of New York, and now the Eastern District of New York. Earlier, we covered in this thread that Berman, the head of the Southern District of New York, won a partial victory by fighting back. Berman forced Barr to keep the Deputy U.S. Attorney, Audrey Strauss, l in place, thus providing some measure of assurance that investigations being run in the Southern District would continue.

    Here is Rachel Maddow’s coverage. The video is about 8 minutes long.

    Maddow made the point that federal prosecutors also handle the cases of Trump’s cronies, and that William Barr is trying to neuter those cases as well. (Flynn, Stone, etc.)

  205. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Just hours after commuting his longtime friend and former political adviser, Roger Stone, […] Trump on Saturday tweeted support for his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

    The president claimed that “new documents” [exonerated] Flynn who admitted to lying to the FBI amid the Russia probe had surfaced according to the conservative news network One America News.

    Alert! One America News is not a reliable source. That network is worse than Fox News when it comes to peddling conspiracy theories and trumpian propaganda.

    While Trump has hinted at a pardon for Flynn in the past, some in the Trump camp are also calling to have the general join the president’s re-election campaign trail […]

    Flynn has been embroiled in a long legal battle after admitting that he lied to the FBI during an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

    The tweet comes just a day after the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday put on hold an order that the judge immediately dismiss Flynn’s case, reigniting a fight over whether a federal judge can question the Justice Department’s reasons for wanting to dismiss the case.

    While it was not evident which “new documents” the president was referring to, a report from One America News on Thursday pointed at a detailed a new lawsuit by Judicial Network, a conservative group that claims to have documents that reveal how former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power made multiple requests to unmask Flynn’s identity. “Documents show Power made at least seven requests to obtain Michael Flynn’s redacted identity in meetings with top Russian officials,” OAN said.

    […] after the Justice Department called for the dismissal of Flynn’s case which it said was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis,” Trump lauded his former adviser, telling reporters that Flynn was “an even greater warrior” and calling those who pursued him “human scum.”

    In another tweet on Saturday, emboldened by his own move to commute his friend, Trump further articulated his own warped ideas about “law and order” that involved the jailing of his opponents. Perhaps further seeking his own vindication, Trump called for the jailing and extradition of Christopher Steele […]

    TPM link

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    It’s obvious that he’s trying to get rid of every piece of evidence of his conspiracy with Russia.
    ———————–
    Sadly, everything his does is in full view and yet the GOP continues to give him a wink and a nod.

    Susan Collins was right after the Senate voted to not impeach when she announced “I think he learned his lesson”. He did, he learned it well as the GOP gave him the green light.
    ———————–
    “conservative group that claims to have documents that reveal how former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power made multiple requests to unmask Flynn’s identity. “Documents show Power made at least seven requests to obtain Michael Flynn’s redacted identity in meetings with top Russian officials,” OAN said.”
    The fellow was conspiring with Russians and the Turkish government. Power was NOT in dereliction of duty.
    ——————
    “Documents show Power made at least seven requests to obtain Michael Flynn’s redacted identity in meetings with top Russian officials,”
    This description is twisted: Power made seven requests to identify people talking to our Russian adversary. As it happened, they were all Michael Flynn.
    ONAN is insinuating fore knowledge of the outcome and, so, malice in the request.

    As a side note, I didn’t include the fact that Trump called Steele a “sick lier,” in his tweet, misspelling the word “liar.” Icing on the stupid cake.

  206. says

    Sociopaths—that’s all that’s left of the Republican party

    A new book released by Donald Trump’s niece [see comment 79] revealed what anyone who has been paying attention already knew: sociopathy dominated Trump’s upbringing and he clearly didn’t escape its grasp.

    But what also became crystal clear this week is that the standard-bearer of the GOP has turned it into nothing short of a band of sociopaths masquerading as a political party.

    Perhaps Trump’s wild lie last weekend that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless” wasn’t a surprise at this point—the man lies about everything […] But watching White House chief of staff Mark Meadows enthusiastically defend the claim revealed just how depraved Trump’s cronies in the administration have become.

    Asked whether Trump had simply been generalizing on Fox News Monday, Meadows refused to take that somewhat face-saving out, instead defending Trump’s lie with gusto. “I don’t even know it’s a generalization,” Meadows said, adding, “The vast majority of people are safe from this” and “the facts and the statistics back us up there.”

    No, they don’t. It’s a bald-faced, life-and-death lie, told with zero compunction or concern for the people Meadows might be leading to their death beds.

    Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, retweeted Meadows appearance, saying bluntly, “This messaging will kill people.” […]

    Still, Meadows continued pushing his lethal lie with White House reporters. “A lot of these cases are asymptomatic,” he said, claiming the 99% figure came from “actual numbers” and adding, “You can look at numbers a number of different ways.”

    […] But wait, it gets sicker. The Washington Post would also report Monday that the White House goal was to “convince Americans they can live with virus,” rather than mounting any concerted effort to stop or mitigate its spread. In fact, the entire White House strategy was to let the pandemic so wildly ravage the country that the data would start to feel meaningless to the electorate, and they’d simply get used to the threat. […]

    Seriously, what kind of dystopian hellscape produces this kind of “thinking”? Only one that is overrun with sociopaths.

    But this misanthropic depravity clearly doesn’t just start and stop at the White House doors, it has seeped into the DNA of the entire party just the way the sociopathy of Trump’s father, Fred Trump, rained down on his family.

    […] emblematic of an entire conspiracy among Senate Republicans to explicitly avoid drawing the wrath of Trump in pursuit of maintaining their majority. […]

    The idea is for them to subtly signal their independence on issues that play well back home without ever upsetting madman Trump or his acolytes. Senate Republicans up for reelection this cycle need the votes of his loyal supporters too badly to risk losing them, so instead of taking a decisive and moral stand against Trump’s dangerous disinformation, they’re trying to win over independents and swing voters with a trail of breadcrumbs.

    “The sweet spot is finding real ways to show your independence and to do it in ways that don’t antagonize the base,” Republican strategist Matt Gorman, vice president at the consulting firm Targeted Victory, told the Post.

    In other words, the “sweet spot” is standing silently by while Trump and his top lieutenants lead Americans to slaughter in some sort of wicked frog-in-boiling-water scheme.

    That’s what’s left of the Republican party—silence in the face of death to achieve one’s own ends. Sociopaths—all of them—from the White House to the lawmakers to the strategists. […]

  207. says

    Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is seeking to limit the president’s pardon powers after President Trump commuted the sentence of longtime adviser Roger Stone on Friday.

    “President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of top campaign advisor Roger Stone, who could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct, is an act of staggering corruption,” Pelosi said in a statement Saturday.

    She added “Congress will take action to prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing. Legislation is needed to ensure that no President can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that President from criminal prosecution.” […]

  208. says

    Covid-19 testing in the US is abysmal. Again.

    The US never fixed the core causes of its testing problem. So it’s now seeing the same kinds of issues pop up again.

    Covid-19 testing in the US improved dramatically over the first half of 2020, but things [are] now breaking down once more as coronavirus cases rise and outstrip capacity — to the point that the mayor of a major American city can’t get testing quickly enough to potentially avoid spreading the virus.

    “We FINALLY received our test results taken 8 days before,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted on July 8. “One person in my house was positive then. By the time we tested again, 1 week later, 3 of us had COVID. If we had known sooner, we would have immediately quarantined. Perhaps the National Guard can help with testing too.”

    […] people waiting days or even weeks for their Covid-19 test results after standing in lines for hours to get tested. Labs have warned about problems: Quest Diagnostics, one of the biggest lab companies in the US, said wait times for test results are now averaging between four and six days for most people.

    “Basically, two things are happening,” Ashish Jha, faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), told me. “One is the outbreaks are getting much bigger, so the amount of testing we need to get our arms around the outbreak is going up. And second, what we did [before] was some tweaking on capacity issues to get ourselves up to 500,000 to 600,000 tests a day, but didn’t fundamentally address the supply chain problems.”

    He added, “This was supposed to be the job of the White House. … But they just never have prioritized really building up a robust testing infrastructure for the country.”

    […] this is a big problem for getting the coronavirus outbreak under control: Testing is crucial for controlling disease outbreaks because they let officials and individuals see when further action, such as isolation and contact tracing, is necessary. But if testing is slow or insufficient, it can’t show people they’re infected and need to take action until it’s likely too late. That’s especially true with Covid-19 because people can have the virus and spread it without showing any symptoms.

    “[…] What we’re learning now is that none of the things that should’ve happened in the interim [during lockdowns] happened.”

    So as America faces a surge of new coronavirus cases, the testing delays threaten to make the pandemic even worse.

    […] America made huge improvements in Covid-19 testing capacity over the past few months, largely due to local, state, and private action as […] Trump’s administration delegated the issue downward and said the federal government would act merely as a “supplier of last resort.” […]

    The Trump administration appeared to lose interest: The country’s “testing czar,” Brett Giroir, stood down and went back to his regular job at the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump falsely claimed in May that “America leads the world in testing”; at his Tulsa rally in June, he said he told his people to “slow the testing down” because the rising case count made him look bad. […]

    As all this happened, many of the underlying problems with testing capacity remained. […]

  209. says

    America still doesn’t have enough N95 masks

    Five months into the pandemic, the Trump administration has failed.

    In the early weeks of the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to buy N95 masks. These masks, unlike surgical masks or cloth masks, are tight-fitting and filter airborne particles that can carry the virus, making them a key source of protection for health care workers, some of whom have died after being exposed to Covid-19 at their medical facilities. Now, as the United States continues to reopen and the number cases and hospitalizations surge, that troubling shortage of personal protective equipment — and especially N95 masks — is once again a problem.

    A survey from the National Nurses Union found that 85 percent of nurses reported being asked to reuse personal protective equipment that’s meant to be single-use. At one private clinic in Arizona, medical workers are treating Covid-19 patients without being given any N95 masks, […]

    why is there still a shortage? Despite months of shutdown that were meant to reduce pressure on the health care system and give the US more time to prepare, production for personal protective equipment, which includes N95 masks, medical gowns, and medical gloves, never adjusted to meet the massive demand caused by the pandemic. At the same time, reopening in many states has meant that other businesses, like outpatient medical offices and construction firms, are now in search of N95 masks too. Meanwhile, the recent surge in Covid-19 cases that has followed reopening is almost certainly leading to a greater need for protective equipment in hospitals […]

    In early April, Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), which allows the federal government to order private companies to produce needed supplies, to obtain more masks produced by 3M, one of the major American mask manufacturers. Later that month, the Department of Defense announced several other contracts for N95 masks. But as it becomes increasingly evident that these measures weren’t enough, organizations like the National Nurses United, a nationwide nurses union, and the American Medical Association have in recent weeks called for the Trump administration to use the law more aggressively to address the PPE shortage.

    Earlier this week, presidential candidate Joe Biden released a supply chain plan for Covid-19 that calls for more broadly invoking the DPA, in part to deal with the ongoing shortage of N95 masks. […]

    […] national coordination of a supply chain was never set up to effectively distribute personal protective equipment and other supplies, despite calls for the federal government to step in. The National Strategic Stockpile didn’t have a large amount of backup supplies to begin with, and it wasn’t set up to respond to the full needs of a pandemic. Without leadership from the federal government — which insisted that supplies should be handled on the local and state level — governors and hospital systems have been arranging their own private purchases of personal protective equipment, often directly competing with one another. […]

    At the end of June, the American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emphasizing that doctor’s offices and practices outside of hospital systems were struggling to get access to personal protective equipment. James Madara, the AMA’s CEO and executive vice president, raised the alarm about “growing concern” from doctors about shortages and said that despite pleas to Congress, “a remedy remains elusive.” In fact, the problem in outpatient medical facilities was bad enough that Madara also sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, asking the administration to invoke the Defense Production Act.

    On its own, the US simply isn’t producing enough N95 masks and other protective equipment to meet demand, despite major producers like 3M and Prestige Ameritech ramping up production. Even before the pandemic, the US relied significantly on imports, especially from China, and many point to a lack of leadership and coordination in the early months of the pandemic as a cause for the ongoing shortages.

    The federal government actually turned down an early offer from Prestige Ameritech to produce millions of masks early this year […] there’s still no national coordination of a supply chain. […]

    “Our government has basically said that we’re going to allow the free economy to fix the issues,” Val Griffeth, an Oregon-based doctor who co-founded a nonprofit PPE effort called Get Us PPE, told Vox last month. “Unfortunately, it takes time and capital to ramp up production, and because the government has not devoted capital to helping solve the situation, we’re seeing a delay in its resolution.”

    In fact, officials don’t seem to think shortages are as significant as some medical workers have said. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said that the supply of PPE is “very strong” and encouraged medical workers to re-use products. […]

    It’s difficult to estimate exactly how bad the national shortage is at scale, but direct reports from medical facilities are alarming. Doctors at a medical center in Houston told the New York Times they’ve been instructed to reuse N95s for up to two weeks. […]

    The shortages of PPE don’t just endanger patients, those shortages are almost certain to result in the deaths of more healthcare workers.

  210. says

    From Wonkette: “Who Would Have Believed This Woman-Hating Racist Was Writing Tucker Carlson’s Show?”

    In August of last year, Tucker Carlson declared that white supremacy was a “hoax,” perpetrated by the left and “used to divide the country and keep a hold on power,” […]

    It is […] likely that the person who wrote that rant, along with the many other rants that made Tucker a favorite with all the non-existent white supremacists, was a guy who spent pretty much all his spare time writing extremely racist and bigoted things on the internet.

    Carlson’s head writer for the last four years, Blake Neff, resigned yesterday after a CNN investigation revealed his years-long history of writing bigoted and sexist posts on AutoAdmit, an unmoderated message board considered to be “4Chan for law students and lawyers.”

    Via CNN:

    Just this week, the writer, Blake Neff, responded to a thread started by another user in 2018 with the subject line, “Would u let a JET BLACK congo n****er do lasik eye surgery on u for 50% off?” Neff wrote, “I wouldn’t get LASIK from an Asian for free, so no.” (The subject line was not censored on the forum.) On June 5, Neff wrote, “Black doods staying inside playing Call of Duty is probably one of the biggest factors keeping crime down.” On June 24, Neff commented, “Honestly given how tired black people always claim to be, maybe the real crisis is their lack of sleep.” On June 26, Neff wrote that the only people who care about changing the name of the NFL’s Washington Redskins are “white libs and their university-‘educated’ pets.”

    Well, that certainly tracks. […]

    In addition to the many, many excruciatingly racist threads Neff participated in, he was also a dedicated woman-hater, spending the last five years mocking the dating life of a woman he knew from Facebook — a woman whom he referred to “as a slightly overweight Azn woman who is in her mid-30s and definitely looks it.”

    Now, there are certainly some things we could say about that, but there are lots of perfectly nice people out there, probably, who look like Neff. His looks are not his problem. I also think it’s crappy to mock men for premature balding, because that’s not anything they can help, unlike being a racist incel who hates women and writes for Tucker Carlson.

    Neff had also recently started a new thread on another woman he knew, who had also dared to get older.

    In March 2020, Neff started another lengthy thread mocking a separate woman with whom he was connected on social media. The woman had posted about freezing her eggs, and Neff apparently found that worth deriding in the AutoAdmit forum. He began posting about her in March of this year, in a thread he titled “Disaster: WuFlu outbreak endangers aging shrew’s quest to freeze eggs.” Neff posted to the thread, which racked up dozens of comments as users ridicule the woman, as recently as June 28.

    You know, Neff having to resign from his job is a good outcome, but really, the best thing that can come out of all of this is that no woman ever speaks to him again, as long as he lives.

    In 2017, Neff was featured in the Washington Post’s Date Lab — a series in which D.C. professionals are set up with one another, go on a date and then report back.

    He told his blonde date that he preferred brunettes. When he saw her drinking a cocktail at the bar while waiting for him because he was late, he told her that alcohol was poison. On the subject of hobbies, he said “Most of my hobbies allow me to escape women.” He brought a giant book about Catherine The Great with him.

    When his date said she “wasn’t looking for a relationship right now” as they said goodbye, he told the Post that his first thought was “If I were Brad Pitt, you would be.” […]

    Neff mentioned, both in that article and on the message board that he doesn’t date much. It seems fair to say that this is probably one of the few positive things he has done for this world.

    Alas, it’s hard to imagine what the point of Neff resigning actually is. It’s not as if he’s going to be replaced with someone who is not an extremely racist right-wing wannabe edge-lord, because who else would want to write for Tucker Carlson? Frankly, he’s absolutely perfect for the job, and Fox is probably going to have to spend a whole lot of time in the recesses of /pol/ or incels.co to find someone who can take his place.

    Link

  211. blf says

    The Encyclopedia of American Loons (which adds entries alphabetically) has finally gotten to hair furor (all emphasis in the original, the use of eejit quotes is mine):

    #2356: Donald Trump
    […]
    Donald Trump is a conspiracy theorist, rich buffoon (inherited wealth), almost remarkably unsuccessful businessman whose main business strategy has been pushing for bankruptcies (I do play with the bankruptcy laws — they are very good for me), reality TV celebrity and 45th president of the US, since a large number of people apparently thought that would be a good idea. According to some, including himself, he is also the chosen one and the King of Israel, something that — apparently this needs to be pointed out — does not make electing him a better idea. Now, we are not going to try to provide anything resembling a comprehensive portrait of Donald Trump here. In particular, we will not cover his incompetence and ignorance (which he is proud of, remember); his moral corruptness; his feeble, rambling, vindictive incoherence; lack of integrity; infantile delusions; strategically problematic (idiotic) political decisions and visions […]; his total disconnection from reality; hypocrisy; striking character flaws (even those that have led to actual deaths) or his pandering to worrisome sentiments in the electorate. Heck, we won’t even comment (much) on his systematic (or, rather, mostly completely random) lying […] and well-established complete disregard for the truth, his fabrications (anyone still remember his claims about people in New Jersey cheering 9/11 and subsequent claim that a media conspiracy is suppressing footage and citing Infowars as supporting source?), complete lack of a bullshit detector and inability to distinguish reliable sources from InfoWars or random, genuine nazis on Twitter. Donald Trump is, in short, incompetent as a president, as well as generally incompetent as a human being (this description is pretty apt). […]

    […]

    Nor can we avoid mentioning Donald Trump’s completely uncritical reliance for information on sycophants who tell him exactly what he wants to hear — often by repeating claims Trump himself has made up a bit before. This is, needless to say, not a quality most sane people would be looking for in a president. Trump’s supporters, however, tend to accept any conspiracy theory, no matter how incoherent and wild-eyed, Trump pushes, giving the whole dynamics a cult-like tinge. (Such as when right-wing pastor Curt Landry told his viewers that they should listen to Trump and not medical experts on the COVID-19 outbreak, or Kenneth Copeland telling his fans that the Holy Spirit is guiding king (!) Trump through the coronavirus crisis.)

    […]

    Trump is setting out to dismantle every single aspect of the government that isn’t solely dependent on the President’s word, which is perhaps not, in itself, lunacy (just scary). His followers tend to cheer him on, because they tend to confuse division of powers and checks on power with deep state conspiracies. That, of course, puts the lunacy on them rather than on Trump. But Trump also seems to share those lunatic conspiracy theories, and that clearly qualifies him for the “deranged conspiracy kook” title.

    […]

    Otherwise, Trump’s disregard for the Constitution probably needs a brief mention. According to his son Eric Trump, conservatives can trust Donald Trump to protect constitutional principles, but insofar as he cited his father’s engagement with the imaginary War on Christmas as his sole piece of evidence, few minimally reasonable people would be much swayed (This is a guy who jumps up and down every time somebody says, ‘holiday tree.’ No, it’s not a holiday tree guys, it’s a Christmas tree, said Eric Trump, who seems to have as little conception of what the Consitution actually is as his father.) Donald Trump has otherwise vowed to change libel laws to sue journalists who write horrible articles about him, urged the Federal Communications Commission to fine a media commentator who criticized him and urged Bill Gates to begin closing that Internet up in some way (no, you wouldn’t suspect him of knowing how the Internet works, would you?), while dismissing concerns about free speech rights: Somebody will say, ‘oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. […]

    […]

    Donald Trump vacillates between claiming to know science better than the scientists and rejecting science and dismissing scientists as airheads who promote fake news [… F]or instance, when he claimed some golf course he owns was also the site of a historic Civil War battle, and real historians told him this was not the case, Trump was ready to dismiss their objections in a manner that … some of us have become rather familiar with: How would they know that? Were they there?

    […]

    […] Trump says of global warming that a lot of it’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it because if you repeat it three times it becomes true.

    Apparently, the idea of global warming is merely the result of scientists having a lot of fun. […]

    He is apparently also an ozone depletion denialist. If I take hair spray, and if I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer? I say, no way, folks. No way, OK? No way, said Trump, apparently unaware that gases sprayed inside will eventually get outside or in general how doors and windows work (unless he was planning on storing said hair spray in his lungs).

    Trump is, moreover, an asbestos denialist. In his book The Art of the Comeback (which he is, in fairness, unlikely ever to have read), he denied any association between asbestos exposure and cancer, stating instead that the asbestos scare was a conspiracy by politicians afraid of the asbestos-pushing mob. It is notable that Trump was still pushing asbestos denialism in 2018 via his EPA director Scott Pruitt, who announced that the EPA would cease evaluating asbestos hazards in the environment. Meanwhile, Trump does believe, falsely, that wind turbines cause cancer. (Later rants about wind turbines, including wind turbine fumes, have been even less coherent).

    Trump’s education policies would be worth a separate chapter, starting with him tapping Jerry Falwell jr. for his education panel and appointing anti-public education activist Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.

    […]

    He also said that the IRS was auditing him because he is a strong Christian. We seriously doubt that Trump believes that he is a strong Christian, but given Trump’s general mindset it is hard to know. […]

    […]

    Remember also that he is very humble; indeed, he is much more humble than you would understand.

    As all the ellipsises (“…”) suggest, large parts are not included in this excerpt.
    And finally, usually one of the best parts of entry, the conclusion:

    Diagnosis: You probably don’t need us for this part.

    An important point about entries is almost every claim is backed-up by a citation (via hyperlink, which are, unfortunately not always maintained and so can go dead). One commentator notes:

    What a piece of work. It’s like an AronRa inverted (He said of a creationist that there were more lies in a stated sentence than words. Quite an achievement) This article has almost more citations than it’s own text! Impressive. On all accounts!! This is one to come back to from time to time! Awesome job.

  212. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 311.

    Military cases of COVID-19 are increasing at twice the national average and effectiveness is at risk

    When looking at the frightful daily tally of new COVID-19 cases, it’s understandable that the concentration has been on states at the top of all the charts. Florida has already logged over 10,000 new cases and 95 deaths on Saturday—and it’s early. Yesterday, the United States topped 71,000 cases, with a marked increase in deaths trailing, predictably, behind the spike in cases that began three weeks ago.

    But way down at the bottom of many lists is another entry that does not get talked about too often—the U. S. military. With a total of 1.3 million active duty members, and with families and dependents on bases around the world, the military is larger than the population of a dozen states. Unfortunately, it also has a number of COVID-19 cases that’s higher than even more states—and the rate at which it’s growing would put the military near the top of the list no matter how it’s calculated. That’s not just a concern for the effectiveness of the U. S. military, it’s becoming a concern for other nations where those service members are stationed.

    Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of his command over the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt when he expressed concern over the growing number of COVID-19 cases on the ship back in March. Crozier had good reason for his concern. The thousands of Naval personnel on a vessel the size of the Roosevelt are tightly packed for much of the day. Its hard to practice social distancing when sleeping in ranks 18” apart. The ship ended up spending the next two months in Guam, and when it finally sailed at the end of May, it left 1,800 sailors behind in quarantine.

    The Roosevelt is just one of many ships, bases, and remote postings where military personnel have almost no means of keeping distant from their colleagues. […] cases in the military are growing at twice the national average. Military cases of COVID-19 are up by a third in just the last ten days, with over 1,600 cases on Friday alone. And while the 41 deaths logged by the military may seem low, there’s still another tally to consider. VA hospitals log both cases and fatalities separately from the active military. The VA has recorded 1,776 deaths as of Friday.

    […] the 50,000 U. S. troops stationed in Japan—already generating friction with the local population due to concerns over crime and cultural insensitivity—are viewed as a potential source of disease.

    The failure of the military to take measures to control the spread of COVID-19 doesn’t just risk the health and lives of service members, and threaten to make bases unwelcome around the world, it also directly impacts the ability of the military to do its job. Defense officials are attributing the recent rise in military cases both to, wait for it … increased testing. And are “expressing faith that local commanders are enforcing protective measures.” But no one seems to be enforcing these measures. […]

    When Captain Crozier was relieved, part of the justification was concern of how his speaking up might let unfriendly nations know that one of the biggest weapons in the U. S. arsenal had been weakened by disease. But the Pentagon seems intent on allowing the entire military to fall into a morass of illness — and it’s obvious to everyone.

  213. says

    Trump Allegedly Suggested Selling Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria Approached

    A former cabinet member recalls the president’s bizarre ideas.

    Donald Trump’s initial reaction to the devastating hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico in 2017 were to suggest that the United States sell, or “divest” from the territory, a former acting secretary of Homeland Security said on Friday. Elaine Duke, who served as Trump’s second secretary of Homeland Security, replacing John Kelly when he became Trump’s chief-of-staff, has become the latest former Trump cabinet member to speak out against her old boss, telling the New York Times in an interview this past week that Trump cares little about policy, and uses “hate-filled, angry and divisive” language.

    Duke was acting secretary when she signed off on ending the DACA protections—the program set up by the Obama administration to protect young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, from deportation. Duke told the Times that she agreed the program was illegal, but wasn’t ready to sign off on its closure, and that she was “ambushed” by Trump and his political allies at an August 2017 White House meeting. Last month the Supreme Court ruled that the DACA program was improperly ended—giving the Dreamers a reprieve […]

    Duke also described to the Times how as Hurricane Maria approached Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017—it would go on to devastate the island, leaving much of it without power for months—other Trump cabinet members derided her for trying to urge the president to take it more seriously. Duke said that Trump did initially show concern for the suffering of Puerto Rican people after the disaster, but was disturbed by his first instincts on how to react:

    “The president’s initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know,” she recalled. “Can we outsource the electricity? Can we can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?”

    She said the idea was never seriously considered or discussed after that meeting.

  214. tomh says

    Axios:
    Don Jr. plans convention-week Biden book
    Mike Allen

    Donald Trump Jr., in quarantine since girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle tested positive for the coronavirus, says he’s used the time to finish a book that he’ll self-publish the week of the Republican convention, at the end of August.

    Trump partnered on the project several months ago with Sergio Gor, who has worked on several conservative bestsellers. Since then, Gor has become chief of staff of the Trump Victory Finance Committee.

    Trump, 42, …said he plans to self-publish his new hardcover as “a shot across the bow” to traditional publishers.

    TJ Ducklo, Biden’s national press secretary, responded: “Is there anything more on brand than Donald Trump Jr. trying to cash in on a book filled with disgusting lies and smears about Joe Biden?”

    “This is the latest in a series of desperate and pathetic attempts to distract from the president’s historic bungling of the coronavirus response.”

  215. says

    […] The Los Angeles County health department reported this week that Black residents were dying at twice the rate its white residents were. The same is true of Black Alabamans. In Florida, Black people account for a higher share of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths than their share of the population.

    The George Floyd protests forced a difficult conversation about the trade-offs of congregating in large groups during a pandemic and the urgency of fixing structural inequities. But more than a month later, there is little evidence the protests contributed to a significant acceleration of the coronavirus’s spread. The health consequences of US inequality, however, are still being felt by Black (and Hispanic and Native) Americans during the worst pandemic of our lifetimes.

    […] “Whether it’s from violence in the street or violence in the health care system, Black Americans have been dying for not just the last three months but the last three centuries,” Utibe Essien, a practicing physician who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh’s medical school, told me.

    […] Numerous studies, some of them conducted as recently as 2016, have foundBlack people were less likely to be given pain medication in an emergency department.

    And in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, a new report found that Black people who reported Covid-like symptoms — namely, fever and cough — were less likely to be given a test for the virus compared to white people with the same symptoms. In all these ways, internalized and interpersonal racism lead to worse health outcomes for Black Americans. […]

    the best place to start in understanding how structural racism breeds racial health disparities is residential segregation. Where a person lives has direct health effects and, maybe as importantly, it will situate them for economic success or failure for the rest of their lives — which we also know is an important determinant for health.

    This analysis isn’t meant to be comprehensive. That would require a whole book. But if you want to better understand how structural racism translates to the health disparities that have left Black Americans prone to Covid-19, those factors should be a good place to start. […]

    “I think of residential segregation by race as one of the upstream drivers,” David Williams, a professor of public health and sociology at Harvard, told me. […] “Social inequities are patterned by place, and opportunities to be healthy vary markedly at the neighborhood level.”

    The culprit for racial housing segregation is what was called “redlining” during the mid-20th century. […] redlining meant that certain neighborhoods were given preference by the Federal Housing Administration. To receive loans to build housing developments or mortgages to buy one of those homes, real estate developers and homebuyers were directed to areas with “harmonious” racial groups […]

    And though racial discrimination is no longer enshrined in official government policy, its legacy is still felt among Black homebuyers today.

    “There is a direct line from US government-led discrimination against Black people in housing — also known as redlining — to racism against Black buyers in housing in real estate today,” Belinda Archibong, an economics professor at Columbia University, told me. She cited a three-year investigation published by Newsday in late 2019 that found half of Black homebuyers on Long Island faced some kind of discrimination from real estate agents.

    […] housing segregation persists. […]

    How does that discrimination affect Black people’s health? If you’re well-versed in health wonk lingo, you know the phrase “the social determinants of health.” First and foremost, those determinants reflect where a person lives. Williams, in his JAMA piece, ticked through all the ways in which the simple location of a person’s residence can affect their health:

    Segregation also adversely affects health because the concentration of poverty, poor-quality housing, and neighborhood environments leads to elevated exposure to chronic and acute psychosocial (eg, loss of loved ones, unemployment, violence) and environmental stressors, such as air and water pollution. Exposure to interpersonal discrimination is also linked to chronic disease risk. Greater exposure to and clustering of stressors contributes to the earlier onset of multiple chronic conditions (eg, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, asthma), greater severity of disease, and poorer survival for African American individuals than white persons. […]

    During Covid, we have seen Black neighborhoods in New York City bear the brunt of infections and deaths. These disparities are even found in testing sites; News 5 in Cleveland reported this week that many chain pharmacy locations inside the city were not offering coronavirus testing, while the stores situated in the suburbs were much more likely to make tests available. […]

    Residential segregation also helps determine economic opportunity, which strongly influences health
    It’s not just how the environment affects one’s health. It’s how your place of residence affects your economic opportunities, which in turn can also have an outsized impact on a person’s health.

    “Homeownership was and has been the way that Americans build wealth and are able to pass that wealth down,” Jessie Marshall, who studies health disparities at the University of Michigan’s medical school, told me. “With these government-subsidized mortgages being made available to whites and not so for Blacks, that really further set the stage for income inequality. […]

    Economic status matters profoundly for reducing the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Lower-income and minority workers are overrepresented among essential service workers who must work outside the home when shelter-in-place directives are given. Many must travel to work on buses and subways.

    Black Americans have been squeezed from both sides by the coronavirus crisis: Many of them work in the industries enduring serious layoffs, and they are also more likely to work in jobs that are considered “essential,” which requires them to go into work and risk exposure to the coronavirus. […]

    Link

  216. says

    tomh @333, No, just NO. [I’m shaking my head “no”] I’m not going to buy Donald Junior’s book. A lot of people will not buy that book. However, I predict that sales of the book will be artificially inflated. The RNC (and/or Don Junior) will require those hosting the Republican convention to buy truckloads of books. Vendors at the convention will likewise be required to flog that book.

  217. says

    From Wonkette: “Fired North Carolina Cop Explains That His Super Racist Comments Were Actually His Religious Beliefs”

    James “Brian” Gilmore, one of the officers fired from the Wilmington, North Carolina police force this June for making some absurdly racist statements about the Black Lives Matter protests, is claiming that the racist things he was recorded saying were not in fact racist, but rather an expression of his religious beliefs.

    Oh.

    […] His concern, he explains, was that people he did not know in videos he saw on the internet were violating the tenets of his religion by “worshiping” black people. The letter did not mention the statements from the other officers, which included such gems as “we are just going to go out and start slaughtering them (racial slurs).” [He used the N-word.]

    Below are the comments that got Gilmore canned, via Port City Daily:

    Gilmore, who had parked beside [Piner’s] patrol car, said the department was only concerned with “kneeling down with the black folks,” according to a report summarizing the internal investigation in explicit detail. During a May 31 protest that resulted in multiple rounds of tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets fired almost entirely by deputies from the New Hanover and Brunswick Sheriff’s offices, WPD officers were applauded for kneeling with protestors.

    Gilmore then said he watched a video posted on social media showing white people bowing down on their knees and “worshipping blacks.”

    “How many times have I told you it’s almost like they think they’re their own god?” Gilmore asks Piner. He then tells Piner about another video he had seen where a “fine-looking white girl and this punk little pretty boy bowing down and kissing their toes.”

    […] enough to warrant his dismissal.

    In the letter, Gilmore claims these comments were not racist, which they very obviously were:

    “I began to discuss a matter of which I hold strong religious beliefs (Christian), that being worship of the Lord,” Gilmore wrote. “The Holy Bible teaches that no one should bow down before another human being or idol and worship them.”

    One issue with this particular defense is that if it were true — if he were actually correct in his assumptions and white liberals were actually worshiping Black people as Gods — this would be religious discrimination on his part, not on the part of those who fired him. As a police officer, he has no business expecting those he serves to follow all of the tenets of his religion. […]

    Other people are allowed to practice their own religions where they worship other Gods or human beings or no one at all. […]

    “I wasn’t being hateful towards Black people, I was being hateful towards non-Christians” does not really make things much better.

    He continued:

    My entire conversation was based upon personal beliefs that I expressed to another officer based upon my religious beliefs. I did not make any comments based upon racist ideology and my comments were directed towards the Black Lives Matter movement, which has cost officers their lives, threatened officers with death, threatened to kill officer’s family members, to include their children. This movement involves members of all races and is not solely comprised of black members of society. The matters for which I commented were matters of public concern. The conversation, while on duty, was not made pursuant to my official duties, and my conversation was not directed towards any other employee of the WPD. Therefore, I believe my speech is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and my termination is without cause.

    You know what commandment I really like? Thou shalt not lie. […] Gilmore ought to think real long and hard about that one before he continues with this defense. Especially if he doesn’t get nearly that worked up over people who do not belong to his religion coveting their neighbor’s cattle.

    Link

  218. says

    “After the fastest recession in U.S. history, the economic recovery may be fizzling.”

    I wouldn’t say, “may be fizzling.” It is definitely fizzling.

    United Airlines announced plans to lay off more than one-third of its 95,000 workers. Brooks Brothers, which first opened for business in 1818, filed for bankruptcy. And Bed Bath and Beyond said it will close 200 stores.

    Welcome to the recovery.

    If there were still hopes of a “V-shaped” comeback from the novel coronavirus shutdown, this past week should have put an end to them. The pandemic shock, which economists once assumed would be only a temporary business interruption, appears instead to be settling into a traditional, self-perpetuating recession.

    When states and cities began closing most businesses in March, the idea was to smother the virus and buy time for the medical system to adapt. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, spoke of hopes “that by July the country’s really rocking again.”

    But without a uniform federal strategy, many governors rushed to reopen their economies before bringing the virus under control. Now states such as Florida, California, Texas and Arizona are setting daily records for coronavirus cases and more than 70 percent of the country has either paused or reversed reopening plans, according to Goldman Sachs.

    […] the economy could begin shedding jobs again this month and in August […] Many small businesses that received forgivable government loans have exhausted their funds while some larger companies are starting to thin their payrolls in preparation for a longer-than-expected downturn. […]

    Several regional Federal Reserve officials last week expressed concerns about the recovery petering out. Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, warned that economic activity “is starting to level off.” […]

    At the White House on Friday, however, the president insisted that his plans were on track. “I created the greatest economy we’ve ever had. And now we’re creating it again,” he said before leaving for Florida.

    A day earlier, he told a group of Hispanic leaders he had launched “the fastest economic comeback in history.”

    In a worrisome sign, more than two months after states like Georgia lifted their shelter-in-place orders, layoffs are spreading beyond companies that provide services requiring direct human contact. As disruption from the pandemic lingers, this could mean that the job loss is starting to feed on itself in a classic recessionary spiral […]

    Harley-Davidson last week said it was eliminating 700 jobs as part of a restructuring plan […] In April, the company said: “The crisis has provided an opportunity to reevaluate every aspect of our business and strategic plan. We have determined that we need to make significant changes to the company.” […]

    The labor market remains a ruin. First-time claims for unemployment benefits have exceeded the previously unheard of figure of 1 million for 16 consecutive weeks.

    […] Almost 33 million Americans now are collecting some form of unemployment benefits […]

    Even allowing for some double-counting in the figures, that means nearly 20 percent of those who were working in February are now jobless […]

    It is no longer a question of returning to the pre-pandemic environment that existed as recently as four months ago, economists said. Under the remorseless influence of the pandemic, the U.S. economy is being reshaped. There will be fewer jobs in airlines, hotels, restaurants and traditional retail and more in e-commerce and technology industries. […]

    Employment and spending data suggest the recovery sagged after June 22. The number of people telling government researchers they were not working rose in each of the past two weeks, climbing by more than 1.4 million […]

    Millions of additional layoffs could come soon from cash-strapped state and local governments, unless Congress provides additional relief, and small businesses that have exhausted their borrowing under the Paycheck Protection Program. […] half of respondents had used up their loans and 22 percent planned to lay off workers as a result. […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  219. tomh says

    @ Lynna #335

    That was the case with Junior’s first book, Triggered. Although it was listed #1 on the non-fiction list, a dagger symbol appears next to the listing, indicating that some of the sales were “bulk purchases,” often meaning that the author or someone associated with the author bought a substantial number of copies. A spokesman for the Republican National Committee, Steve Guest, said that the RNC offered “Triggered” as a fundraising incentive.

  220. says

    WaPo – “Mueller breaks his silence to defend Russia investigation and Stone prosecution”:

    Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III broke a nearly year-long silence Saturday to defend his office’s prosecution of Roger Stone and his larger investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign, writing an op-ed piece to publicly push back against attacks from the president and his supporters.

    The piece, which appears in Sunday’s Washington Post, is a remarkable departure from Mueller’s self-imposed silence as the political debate surrounding his work has continued to rage more than a year after he concluded his investigation of Russia’s interference in the last presidential election. And it underscores the degree to which the cases Mueller brought have been undone or undermined by the Trump administration and others.

    Mueller’s 700-word piece recounts the high-stakes investigation that consumed the White House for the better part of two years, resulting in convictions of a number of President Trump’s confidants, including Stone. Trump granted Stone a commutation Friday evening, days before he was due to report to prison.

    “We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Mueller wrote. “We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”

    In recent weeks, some former members of Mueller’s famously reticent team have become more publicly outspoken. One ex-special counsel prosecutor testified to Congress about what he said was political pressure brought to bear at the end of the Stone case. Another makes regular appearances on cable news.

    “Mueller didn’t really break any new ground here, but his speaking out might give some of the other members of his team license to do so as well,” said Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman during the Obama administration. “They’ve been fairly quiet as a group, and most of them aren’t in government anymore so are free to speak their minds.”

    “We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law,” Mueller wrote. “The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”

  221. says

    Today is the runoff in the Polish presidential election.

    Reuters – “Poles vote in presidential election that highlights country’s deep divisions”:

    Poles were voting on Sunday in a knife-edge presidential election that has highlighted the country’s deep political divisions and may shape its future relations with the European Union.

    Incumbent Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS), takes on liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski after a campaign that has shown sharply contrasting visions for the future.

    Duda’s re-election is crucial if PiS is to deepen judicial reforms that the European Union has criticised as increasing political control over the courts.

    The president holds the power of veto and Trzaskowski, who has said he is seeking a more open Poland, has promised that if he wins he will block legislation that he believes would undermine democratic norms.

    “(This election) is important because it will be crucial for the next 30 years in Poland,” said Przemyslaw Bochenski, a 60-year-old doctor, at a polling station in northern Warsaw.

    “If we do not take the right direction now I am afraid that Polish democracy and Poland, everything we have built, will collapse.”

    Given that Poland’s president holds few executive powers, it is unlikely Trzaskowski could bring about significant change if he won. But with the presidency as well as the upper house of parliament in opposition hands, PiS’s ability to implement its agenda would be hampered.

    Polling stations in the election, a run-off after a first round on June 28, close at 1900 GMT, at which point the results of an exit poll will be announced.

    Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw since 2018, became a target for religious conservatives for promoting gay rights after he took part in pride marches and pledged to introduce sex education classes in the city’s schools in line with WHO standards.

    Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of PiS and Poland’s de-facto ruler, told Catholic television station TV Trwam on Thursday that Trzaskowski was at the centre of attempts to allow minorities to “terrorise” the rest of society.

    Trzaskowski says he seeks a more tolerant Poland and has criticised PiS’s rhetoric, while vowing to abolish state news channel TVP Info.

    “Have you ever heard such homophobia, such anti-Semitism, such attacks on everybody who is brave enough to say ‘we have had enough’,” he asked supporters on Friday, contrasting PiS’s use of language with that of opposition politicians.

    But while vowing to block PiS’s judicial reforms and condemning attacks on minorities, Trzaskowski has stressed that he would leave PiS’s popular social benefit programmes intact and not seek to raise the retirement age.

    Trzaskowski has tried to portray himself as someone who can unite a divided nation, but many observers say a period of bitter conflict between the PiS-dominated parliament and the presidential palace awaits if he wins.

  222. says

    Josh Gad:

    If you are a reporter and you are giving Trump “credit” for wearing a mask five months and 130,000 plus American lives later, kindly go f**k yourself.

    Wearing a mask in a hospital, where it’s required, and where he shouldn’t be making unnecessary visits during a pandemic in the first place.

  223. says

    Matthew Gertz:

    Significant number of lives hanging in the balance over the question of whether Trump’s staff can amass enough tweets of people praising him for wearing a mask to convince him to keep doing it.

    Probably for the good of the country if Monday’s Fox programming is pure sycophancy about how brave/presidential/sexy he looked.

    On the one hand this seems super-culty… on the other hand the moral argument for bullshitting him on this so he keeps wearing a mask is pretty strong (which is not to say that’s why they are doing it).

  224. says

    Moscow Times – “New Russia Protest Over Governor’s Arrest”:

    Hundreds of people joined a second day of protest on Sunday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk over the arrest of a popular governor accused of ordering the murders of several businessmen.

    Sergei Furgal, 50, was detained Thursday and has been ordered to remain in pre-trial custody for two months over the crimes 15 years ago.

    The move triggered a mass demonstration on Saturday in Khabarovsk that was joined by between 10,000 and 40,000 people, according to various estimates.

    On Sunday, several hundred people marched through the city center to the local government headquarters, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

    Local supporters of leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny put the turnout at around 2,000.

    Furgal won the race for Khabarovsk governor by a landslide in 2018, dealing an upset to President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

    Furgal, leader of the Kremlin-friendly LDPR opposition party, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

    Saturday’s demonstrations — which saw protesters chanting anti-Putin slogans — were unprecedented for almost any Russian city outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.

    The local government on Sunday denounced the “provocative slogans” and urged people to show “common sense,” noting that all gatherings were banned under coronavirus restrictions.

  225. says

    Betsy DeVos is being interviewed on CNN’s SOTU and man do I want to throw something through the television. She’s a fucking fanatic, and is putting millions of people at risk.

  226. says

    New Lincoln Project ad:

    Trump’s campaign manager is a felon.
    His deputy campaign manager is a felon.
    His national security advisor is a felon.
    His foreign policy advisor is a felon.
    His personal lawyer is a felon.
    His long time advisor is a felon.

    It’s not a campaign, it’s a criminal enterprise.

    Ad atl.

  227. says

    ‘Yes or no: Can you assure students, teachers, parents that they will not get coronavirus because they’re going back to school?’

    @BetsyDeVos: ‘Well, the key is that kids have to get back to school. And we know there are going to be hotspots’.”

    She just kept repeating “kids have to get back to school,” as Dana Bash pointed out. At the end, Bash accurately summed up the interview: “You haven’t answered my questions.”

  228. says

    Kaitlin Collins:

    Should teachers who are at risk because of their age or have an underlying illness go back into the classroom if they don’t feel comfortable? “That’s something for them to work out with their local district,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tells @DanaBashCNN.

    According to the Kaiser Foundation, one in four teachers have a condition that puts them at higher risk of serious illness from coronavirus.

    Also speaking from a practical matter, if teachers do return and get sick, it can be difficult to get a substitute for multiple days during a normal time, much less for weeks during a pandemic.

  229. says

    BBC – “Coronavirus: Thousands protest in Israel over handling of economy”:

    Thousands of Israelis have staged a demonstration in Tel Aviv to protest against what they say is economic hardship caused by the government’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

    Rabin Square was filled with mainly young protesters wearing masks but not observing social distancing.

    They say government compensation payments have been slow to arrive.

    The event was organised by small businesses, self-employed workers and performing artists’ groups.

    Many are experiencing economic hardship and have been angered by coronavirus measures which have taken their livelihoods away. They say money they are due from government support schemes has not been paid.

    While workers on salaries received unemployment benefits via a furlough scheme, the self-employed say most of them have been waiting months for promised government aid.

    Israel imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March but started lifting restrictions in late May. Unemployment has risen to 21%.

    The country has seen a spike in coronavirus cases with nearly 1,500 new cases reported on Friday. A total of 354 people have died from Covid-19 in Israel, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

  230. tomh says

    Re: DeVos. She sees every crisis as an opportunity to shift funding from public schools to private (preferably religious) schools.

    DeVos told “Fox News Sunday” that public schools that don’t reopen in the fall should not get federal funds, and that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children…

    “American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds.”

    “Then give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise. It’s a promise to the American people, let’s follow through on the promise.”

    If she had her way she would shut down public schools altogether, and private (religious) schools would be the only educational option.

  231. says

    Robert Mueller wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post: “Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”

    The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.

    Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names — fronts for Russian military intelligence — also released Clinton campaign emails.

    Following FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination in May 2017, the acting attorney general named me as special counsel and directed the special counsel’s office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The order specified lines of investigation for us to pursue, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. One of our cases involved Stone, an official on the campaign until mid-2015 and a supporter of the campaign throughout 2016. Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

    We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

    Uncovering and tracing Russian outreach and interference activities was a complex task. The investigation to understand these activities took two years and substantial effort. Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes.

    Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

    The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

    Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

    We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.

    Washington Post link

  232. says

    “It’s the duty of the White House press secretary to hold briefings. But not like this.”

    On the Monday following […] Trump’s Independence Day weekend speeches, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany opened her briefing as she often does: by reprimanding “the media” for mischaracterizing the president’s words.

    “This vision is not a culture war, as the media seeks to falsely proclaim,” McEnany said. The very next day, in an interview with RealClearPolitics, [Trump] said: “We are in a culture war.”

    Such head-spinning contradictions are routine at Trump White House briefings, where the press secretary often admonishes reporters for asking about the president’s exact words.

    At one recent briefing, reporters asked McEnany to explain a presidential tweet, sent a few hours earlier, maligning NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace — the circuit’s only full-time black driver — suggesting he had perpetrated a “HOAX” and calling on him to apologize.

    Although the president had written “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” McEnany denied that the president had criticized NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag at its events. (For the record, Trump was wrong, and NASCAR’s ratings rose after its ban.)

    I decided to follow up.

    “What is the president’s position?” I asked. “Does he think NASCAR made a mistake by banning the Confederate flag?”

    None of the words she said in reply answered my question. So I tried again.

    “But what is his position on it?”

    McEnany could have said that the tweet speaks for itself. Instead, she attacked the question.

    “You’re focusing on one word at the very bottom of a tweet that’s completely taken out of context,” she said.

    A few things are important here: The issue wasn’t one word, and it wasn’t taken out of context. The White House press secretary was denying the president’s own words and failing to answer legitimate questions about something he had done hours earlier. The denial of reality was frustrating, but McEnany’s silence was illuminating, as it suggested that the president’s position is so politically toxic that his spokesperson thinks she shouldn’t defend or even acknowledge it.

    But the most troubling moment that day came as McEnany ended the briefing.

    “You know,” she said, “I was asked probably 12 questions about the Confederate flag. This president is focused on action, and I’m a little dismayed that I didn’t receive one question on the deaths that we got in this country this weekend. I didn’t receive one question about New York City shootings doubling for the third straight week.”

    This statement seemed to suggest that reporters don’t care about people getting killed. But, really, it was an attempt to mislead people about the purpose of a White House briefing. Rising crime rates are an important issue, but the administration wasn’t offering any new policy to address it; the press secretary is there to answer questions about the actions of the president and his administration.

    As a reporter and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, I have often advocated a return of regular briefings by the White House press secretary, which lapsed in early 2018. The merits of the briefings over the years can be debated, but I think the White House spokesperson has an obligation to regularly answer questions about the policies and pronouncements of the executive branch.

    The White House press secretary’s job differs fundamentally from that of a spokesperson for a candidate or political party. The White House press secretary serves at the pleasure of a president but is also a public servant whose salary is paid by taxpayers. The job is to inform the public: to be an intermediary between the president and a press corps the public relies on for information. As former White House press secretary Mike McCurry has pointed out, this intermediary role is embedded in the layout of the West Wing; the press secretary’s office is midway between the Oval Office and the briefing room.

    Denying reality and using the White House podium for purely political purposes is a violation of public trust.

    Briefings under the current press secretary rarely last 30 minutes — which is short by traditional standards — but routinely include opening and closing messages that more closely resemble the monologues of a partisan political talk show than a public official’s briefing.

    Recently, McEnany stepped to the microphone and declared, “I am pleased to inform everyone that Seattle has been liberated.” She called the so-called autonomous zone of about six city blocks that had been occupied by protesters “a failed four-week Democrat experiment by the radical left” and implied that “liberation” was credited to her boss: “President Trump set the tone: Law and order must prevail to preserve peace in our streets.”

    Seattle’s Democratic mayor ordered the removal of protesters, and its police chief oversaw the police action. The federal government was not involved. But like so much else, this opening monologue wasn’t about briefing the media; it was about making a political point.

    I still believe it is the duty of a White House press secretary to regularly hold briefings — but not like this.

    Washington Post link

  233. says

    Trump finally wore a mask in public.

    The Biden campaign was quick to call out […] Trump after he finally wore a mask publicly after months of refusing to do so […]

    During a visit to wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday night, Trump visibly wore a mask for the first time following months of expressing his reluctance to comply with mask wearing requirements amid surging coronavirus cases throughout the country.

    The move came after several prominent Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), urged the public to wear masks despite Trump and Vice President Mike Pence refusing to commit to issuing a nationwide mask mandate even after encouraging the public to adopt the practice. […]
    “I think when you’re in a hospital especially in that particular setting, where you are talking to a lot of soldiers, people that in some cases just got off the operating table. I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump said on Saturday. “I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place.”

    After Trump gets all kinds of praise for this wearing of a mask, expect his explanations to more further towards an outright lie. We’ll probably hear, “I was always for masks. Fauci wasn’t.”

    Shortly after news broke of Trump wearing a mask during his hospital visit, staffers for his re-election campaign roundly praised him for it. “Joe Biden is finished.” “Rocking a mask like a boss.” “President Trump looks pretty badass in a mask.”

    The Biden campaign called out the President not long after, however.

    Biden campaign director for rapid response Andrew Bates issued a scathing statement against Trump in reaction to finally wearing a mask in public in a statement shared with TPM on Sunday.

    “Trump spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask, one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” Bates said. “Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from taking a very basic step to protect each other.”

    Bates added that the former VP “has led by example from the start” and if elected as President he “will make decisions informed by science to protect the American people and defeat the virus.”

    Several other Biden campaign staffers criticized the President as well in a series of tweets.

    “When the child finally does that thing you’ve been asking him to do👇🏾”

    “I mean it is just crazy that it’s notable that the president would wear a mask in a hospital!”
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/biden-campaign-trump-mask-public

  234. says

    Follow-up to comment 361.

    From readers of that article:

    Saw some photos where the Manchurian Cantaloupe pulled the mask off of his nose at the hospital. Figures: he couldn’t even get that part right and rendered the mask useless.
    ——————–
    So pitiful…his lapdogs run out and tweet so their leader’s precarious ego is supported during his “vulnerability”. Imagine a man so fragile that his campaign has to worry that mask wearing might shatter his “tough guy” image. He’s a child in every sense.
    ———————-
    He only did it because, unlike the previous ‘tours’ he did as in the mask factory where the entire day’s production had to be destroyed because of his refusal to mask, the hospital actually cares about its patients and supports the troops by telling Trump from the get-go that if he doesn’t mask, he isn’t getting in. No amount of bullying and arguing was gonna change that protocol.

    I wish more had done it sooner – we might have more support for masking, had it happened earlier.
    ——————
    I’m sure the idiot’s excuse is he had to wait for the specially made mask with the presidential seal on the side.
    ——————
    like parents do when they get their toddler to use the toilet for the first time. What a good boy you are!!!
    ——————
    He can’t even wear it right for a few minutes. What a failure.

    See also: ‘You Had One Job Today’: Twitter Points Out as US President Donald Trump FINALLY Wears Face Mask in Public But in Wrong Way Ahead of Elections

    Photo of Trump wearing the mask below his nose. Link

  235. says

    How Trump launders $$ through his golf courses.

    The text below is excerpted from Adam Davidson’s Twitter thread.

    Fun project you can do at home for FREE:

    Look at public records for Trump’s Aberdeen property:
    beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/SC2921…

    Look for “Accounts for a Small Company” start with 22 Aug 2007 and do every year after. In a spreadsheet or notebook, write down:
    Tangible Assets
    Creditors (falling due in more than one year)
    Cash on hand

    Keep going through 2012 and on.

    A fascinating story emerges:
    In the midst of the financial crisis and housing bubble bursting, when Scotland was in economic crisis, golf resorts were struggling, Aberdeen—in particular—was in economic free fall due to end of North Sea oil exploration, this one mediocre golf resort outside Aberdeen was appreciating in value by millions every year.

    Specifically: each year, the Trump Org “lent” itself millions, from NY to Scotland, spent it all or did something with it, because they had no cash on hand at end of year. And the self-proclaimed tangible value increased by the same amount as the loan. Even though the actual market tangible value was collapsing.

    They did NO work on the grounds for the first several years and then did minimal work afterwards.

    It starts slowly, but by 2010, we’re talking about real money—10s of millions disappearing.

    If this feels confusing or hard to follow, just send the Companies House accounts to an accountant in your life. They’ll see at a glance.

    Then, do the same for Turnberry, Doonbeg, and—to the extent you can—Doral.

    Same story. (Though the others are harder work, because of multiple ownership over the years)

    Compare the dates and dollar/pound amounts to other projects at the time.

    What you see is a NY “real estate” company claiming to be spending 100s of millions of dollars on consistently money-losing golf projects in a country overrun with money-losing golf courses.

    This is (he says) his own money. But if you look at his public accounts and the data Michael Cohen provided, he doesn’t have this kind of money.

    Also, think of all you know about Trump—does he spend 100s of millions on long-term projects that bring minimal glory?

    One possibility:
    – Trump so believes in the long-term value of resort golf in Scotland that he invested every penny he had (including huge amounts of money he never talked about because he’s modest). He signed on to a 20+year plan to work through the slow-moving Scottish planning process to put all his chips on a project that could only return a profit long after he’s dead. And would bring minimal glory.

    – OR he has a scheme to hide the source and destination of money through a nonsensical business.

    – I have shown these docs to many accountants, former prosecutors, an FBI agent, and others.

    Everyone agrees there is something profound here. Clear evidence of hiding money.

    But work needs to be done: whose money? Where does it come from? Where does it go? [Russian money?]

    Some interesting observations:

    – It’s relatively small until 2010 then begins to explode, as if there is more money coming in than they know what to do with.

    – He met Anar Mammadov in 2010. He uses golf to, um, process his wealth.

    – Money goes up, more in 2014.

    https://twitter.com/adamdavidson/status/1282288622134341633

    Trump cannot pardon himself for state crimes. The Trump Organization is based in NYC.

  236. says

    From Wonkette: “Grown-Ass President Wants A Cookie For Wearing A Mask In Public”

    Donald Trump finally wore a mask in public Saturday during a visit with wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He said it “wasn’t hard” — yeah, that’s a real quote — and the average 10-year-old who wears a mask without complaint would agree.

    From CNN:

    “I’ll probably have a mask if you must know. I’ll probably have a mask. I think when you’re in a hospital especially in that particular setting, where you are talking to a lot of soldiers, people that in some cases just got off the operating table. I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask. I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” Trump told reporters ahead of his visit.

    Joe Biden’s spokesman Andrew Bates correctly pointed out that Trump has whined like a baby for months about masks. […]

    First Lady Melania Trump released a hostage video PSA urging people to wear masks in April. Trump continued to have his face hanging out during his coronavirus task force briefings. He accused a reporter of being “politically correct” because he wouldn’t take off his mask while speaking into a dirty ass microphone. Trump’s Disney villain sidekick, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, said it was “peculiar” that Biden didn’t wear a mask at home, where he’s in quarantine, but wears one outside, where random people roam around. She’s an idiot.

    Trump didn’t wear a mask at his superspreader event in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month. He also didn’t require that attendees wear masks. This is around the same time he said he wouldn’t watch NFL games if players didn’t stand for the national anthem — no kneeling! — but performative displays of patriotism have no proven medical benefits. Herman Cain, a cancer survivor, didn’t wear a mask or social distance much at the rally and was later hospitalized with COVID-19.

    The president’s reckless defiance regarding masks has caused a great deal of damage already and is arguably directly related to the dumb ass culture war around wearing them. But his advisers reportedly “pleaded” with Trump to “set an example” for the people stupid enough to still support him. I don’t know how they managed it. They might’ve showed him the latest swing state polls […]

    Trump’s fans are now celebrating him as a real American hero the likes we haven’t seen since the Lone Ranger. His 2016 campaign sycophant Jason Miller declared that Biden can’t possibly win against a president who now almost, sort of acknowledges that COVID-19 exists.

    Biden has publicly worn a mask for months. He’s not Little Richard. Trump can’t just copy his style and declare himself a trailblazer. Ebony Bowden, a putative journalist, claimed the president “looks pretty badass in a mask.” That’s not the point. We’re not debating the aesthetic merits of masks as a fashion accessory. Trump’s deputy communications director, Erin Perrine, replied to Bowden’s tweet and boasted that Trump rocked a “mask like boss.” Sweet Christ. It’s like they’re parents who are happy that their child slept in his own bed all night like a “big boy.”

    What Trump’s done isn’t impressive, and he’ll likely not wear a mask again for weeks. It’s absurd to think he’ll consistently model good behavior. At least 134,581 Americans are dead, so I have no cookies or fucks to give Trump for doing the bare-ass minimum during a pandemic.

    Link

  237. says

    He’s sorry, and he is going attend an anti-racist program. Better than doing nothing, I guess.

    A man who was seen on video going off on a racist tirade against an Asian American family at a restaurant has resigned form his job as CEO of a tech company in California after drawing viral backlash.

    Michael Lofthouse, the now-former CEO of San Francisco-based cloud computing firm Solid8, confirmed his resignation to Fox Business in a statement this weekend.

    “It is with regret that my initial statement and apology did not go far enough in addressing my behavior in Carmel last weekend and the steps that I need to take. I can confirm that I have stepped down from Solid8, terminating all business relationships with immediate effect,” he told the news outlet.

    “I will make it my duty to ensure my personal actions do not continue to have a detrimental impact on those people closest to me. I have once again begun my journey back to sobriety and have enrolled in an anti-racist program with immediate effect,” he continued. “My comments towards the families involved were racist, hurtful and deeply inappropriate. The reactions to what was said have been deserved and I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I am complicit in a system that enables this behavior and these broken beliefs to exist but I am dedicated to changing.”

    His comments come several days after footage first emerged online showing Lofthouse yelling at an Asian American family at a restaurant.

    In the video, he could be seen sitting at a table alone, telling the family, “Trump’s gonna f— you” after flipping his middle finger at them.

    “You f—ers need to leave… F—ing Asian piece of shit,” he also tells the family. […]

    Link

    He used Trump as a cudgel.

  238. says

    Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet.

    Schadenfreude moment, or moments.

    Less than four months before the presidential election, Team Trump seems dazed and confused. Held despite warnings from public health officials, the big rally in Tulsa was poorly attended. Concerns over turnout factored into canceling a rally in New Hampshire. Revelations that White House staff, Secret Service personnel, and members of the president’s entourage who attended recent events tested positive for COVID-19 embarrassed the administration. Most important, Team Trump’s response to this summer’s surge in Coronavirus cases and the protests following the killing of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks by police officers has been inconsistent and incoherent.

    On July 5, Trump bit Fox News, the hand that has fed him, for reporting on polls showing that Joe Biden has a substantial lead in battleground states. “We are leading in the real polls,” the president tweeted, without evidence. Declaring that Fox was “getting into CNN and MSDNC territory,” Trump recommended that his supporters switch to OANN, a far-right platform that has promoted false claims that Hillary Clinton is secretly bankrolling antifa, California legislators want to ban sales of the Bible and that the Coronavirus was created by the Deep State in North Carolina (citing a “citizen investigator” who believes Dr. Anthony Fauci personally funded the creation of the virus).

    Wow. That’s some ever-crazier batshit bonkers conspiracy theories that are detailed in the paragraph above.

    Team Trump fought a belated — and futile — fight to suppress publication of John Bolton’s book “The Room Where It Happened,” alerting potential readers to the former National Security Advisor’s claims that the president always put his own personal interests ahead of national security. And, apparently, Team Trump did’t learn. An ill-considered effort to block the release of a memoir by Mary Trump, the president’s niece, has helped propel her book to the top of the bestseller list.

    Yep. Team Trump, ready to shoot themselves in the foot over and over again.

    In “Too Much and Never Enough,” Ms. Trump, a clinical psychologist, describes her uncle as “much as he was when he was three years old: incapable of growing, learning or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information”; a man who values human beings “only in monetary terms,” subscribes to “cheating as a way of life,” and now “threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.”

    The administration’s apparent plan to urge Americans to “learn to live” with the Coronavirus, complemented by the president’s false claim that 99 percent of cases are “completely harmless,” has not played well, especially with older voters, who provided the margin of victory for Trump in many states in 2016. According to recent polls, many Americans over 65 now find Trump coarse, disrespectful, and divisive. Feeling at risk from COVID-19, they believe his administration has not prioritized public health over reopening the economy.

    President Trump has vowed to veto the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act — despite bi-partisan support in Congress and from Pentagon officials — if the legislation authorizes the DOD to remove the names of Confederate officers from military bases, ships, aircraft, streets and other federal property. And Trump has blasted NASCAR, the National Football League, the owners of the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians for succumbing to political correctness. That said, perhaps in a tacit acknowledgment that a substantial majority of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of race relations and protests, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany recently told reporters that he “was not making a judgment, one way or the other” on flying the Confederate flag.

    McEnany is a liar and a flinger of bullshit.

    Asked by Sean Hannity for his second term agenda, President Trump replied: “Well, one of the things that will be great – you know the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. But the word experience is a very important word… Now I know everybody, and I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, you know, an idiot like Bolton.” [Trump] did not mention a single proposal, policy, or priority. He did not indicate whether Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, John Kelly, Dan Coats, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, and Tom Price were great people or idiots.

    Offered a redo by Sinclair Media’s Eric Bolling, Trump rambled for 380 words, the gist of which was “It’s very simple; we’re going to make America great again” (a campaign slogan he stole from Ronald Reagan). […]

    Link

  239. says

    From Jeffrey Toobin, writing for The New Yorker: “The Halted Progress of Criminal-Justice Reform”

    Prosecutors are charging protesters with federal crimes, exposing them to long prison sentences, in another example of the Justice Department’s grotesque overreach under Attorney General William Barr.

    The cause of criminal-justice reform has been, in recent years, a welcome exception to the extreme polarization that has afflicted so much of our politics. Since 2008, the prison population has dropped in most parts of the country, in both red states and blue. It’s gone down sixteen per cent in Louisiana and twenty-two per cent in South Carolina, which is roughly similar to reductions in more liberal places, such as California (twenty-six per cent) and New York (twenty-one per cent). The fight against mass incarceration even engendered a brief moment of bipartisanship in Washington, in 2018, when Congress overwhelmingly passed, and President Trump signed, the First Step Act, which made modest improvements in federal sentencing practices.

    But this progress, at least at the federal level, has come to a halt. […] the Justice Department, under Attorney General William Barr, has engaged in precisely the kinds of excesses that the reform movement has endeavored to correct. Most of the protests were peaceful, of course, but there was some violence and destruction of property. These sorts of crimes have traditionally belonged in the bailiwick of state prosecutors […] Yet Barr’s prosecutors have stepped in and charged at least seventy people with crimes in connection with the protests. In Mobile, Alabama, a protester allegedly used a bat to break a window of a police cruiser. Such an act is a paradigmatic state crime—an assault—but federal prosecutors contrived to bring a case for “civil disorder,” drawing on a rarely used federal law. Bringing the case in federal court allows Barr to posture against the protesters and, even more important, to make them eligible for longer prison sentences, as is usually the case in federal prosecutions.

    The most egregious example of this kind of federal excess is taking place in New York, where prosecutors in Brooklyn may be on the verge of responding to a crime with an injustice. On May 29th, two well-regarded lawyers, Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, participated in protests in Fort Greene. According to the complaint filed in federal court, just after midnight, Rahman stepped out of a minivan driven by Mattis and flung a Molotov cocktail through a broken window of an unoccupied police car. (In another part of Brooklyn, Samantha Shader, a twenty-seven-year-old woman from upstate New York, was charged in a separate Molotov-cocktail attack on a police van; neither attack caused any injuries.)

    The two lawyers are both in their early thirties. Mattis is a graduate of Princeton and of New York University’s law school, and he worked until recently at a well-known corporate law firm in Manhattan. He is active in community affairs in Brooklyn, and is responsible for the care of several young family members. Rahman, a graduate of Fordham University’s college and law school, worked at Bronx Legal Services. Neither had a criminal record. (Shader did have a record of various arrests in different parts of the country.) Mattis and Rahman have pleaded not guilty, but the case against them appears strong. According to prosecutors, there is video evidence of Rahman throwing the improvised bomb, and police found the ingredients to make Molotov cocktails in Mattis’s van.

    In bringing the case against them, though, the Justice Department has engaged in grotesque overreach. If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Mattis and Rahman face a minimum of forty-five years and a maximum of life in prison. (If they were prosecuted in state court, as they should be, they would likely face five years or less.) The case demonstrates the perversity of mandatory-minimum sentences, which remain common in federal court, despite the changes wrought by the First Step Act.

    The problems with mandatory minimums only begin with the simple fact that they keep people in prison for too many years. They also concentrate power in the hands of prosecutors and remove discretion from judges, who usually have a broader perspective on the appropriate levels of punishment. […]

    Faced with the certainty of decades of prison time if convicted by a jury, what defendant wouldn’t try to cut a deal for a lesser sentence? In federal court today, a remarkable ninety-seven per cent of defendants plead guilty rather than go to trial. But a system in which practically no one goes to trial gives government prosecutors far too much power. Judges and juries are supposed to operate as a check on prosecutors, and they can’t do that job if nearly every defendant pleads guilty. Too often, prosecutors, like those in the case of Mattis and Rahman, use indictments to extort guilty pleas rather than to achieve justice.

    This is, in many respects, a hopeful moment for progress in the criminal-justice system. District attorneys in cities like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and San Francisco are pulling back from the mindless pursuit of more convictions and longer sentences.

    Eric Gonzalez, the Brooklyn District Attorney, is also a reformer, which may be a reason that Barr’s minions snatched the Molotov-cocktail cases away from him.

    The Attorney General has expressed nothing but contempt for more civilized approaches to law enforcement. [snipped details]

    As usual, Barr is channelling his boss, who has responded to the George Floyd protests with ugly spasms of race-baiting and bigotry. But, as bad as Trump’s invective is on Twitter and elsewhere, Barr’s actions are worse, because individuals and communities will be paying the costs for years, or decades, to come.

    Link

  240. KG says

    Just eyeballing the graphs at the link, it looks like confirmed cases are rising in the UK, and deaths have stopped falling. Completely unsurprising, as Johnson has greatly relaxed the lockdown while there are still on the order of 100 deaths and several hundred new confirmed cases per day. The map indicates that Scotland (where the relaxation has been more cautious) is doing considerably better than England (Northern Ireland was never so badly affected), although to be fair the Welsh government has also been more cautious, and still looks about as bad as England.

  241. KG says

    According to recent polls, many Americans over 65 now find Trump coarse, disrespectful, and divisive. – Lynna, OM quoting from The Hill @367

    now????

    A couple of further points about Covid-19 in the UK.
    1) Johnson and his senior ministers, are almost as reluctant as Trump to wear masks in public.
    2) There have been notable outbreaks of the virus:
    (a) in the city of Leicester, where garment workers appear to have been kept at work, paid below the legal minimum and working in overcrowded condiitons, throughout lockdown. The vile Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has blamed this on police “cultural sensitivities” (many of the sweat shop owners are of South Asian origin). Those who know say the real reasons are the Tory downgrading of factory inspections over the past decade (checking on conditions and wage rates is the job of factory inspectors, not the police), and the lack of unions.
    (b) At a farm where large numbers of low-paid fruit pickers, most of them from eastern Europe, were crammed into multiple mobile homes.
    As in many other countries and contexts, particularly exploitative workplaces turn out to be particularly hospitable to an infectious disease organism. Who could possibly have guessed???

  242. KG says

    @370, I should have noted that the great majority of workers in the Leicester sweat shops are also of South Asian origin. Leicester has the higest proportion of people of colour (and specifically, those of South Asian origin) of any town in the UK – I think they are a majority there.

  243. says

    White House attacks on Fauci described as ‘nuclear grade bananas’

    The more Fauci’s reality-based assessments prove inconvenient, the more Team Trump finds it necessary to discredit Fauci.

    On March 23, as the coronavirus crisis in the United States was coming into focus, Donald Trump held a White House press briefing and was asked whether he planned to follow Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recommendations. “Sure,” the president replied. “I would certainly — he’s very important to me, and I would — I will be listening to him.”

    That was Act One: a period in which Trump saw Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as a trusted source who could help guide the White House’s response to the pandemic. Act Two, which unfolded gradually over the ensuing months, saw the president start to ignore and marginalize Fauci, who had the audacity to present Trump with information that was politically unsatisfying.

    We’ve now reached Act Three, in which the president’s indifference has transitioned into overt hostility. As NBC News reported, the White House is now “seeking to discredit” Fauci.

    In a remarkable broadside by the Trump administration against one of its own, a White House official said Sunday that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” The official gave NBC News a list of nearly a dozen past comments by Fauci that the official said had ultimately proven erroneous.

    Those who don’t work in politics or journalism may not be familiar with “oppo dumps,” but they’re fairly common. The practice is relatively straightforward: political operatives will do extensive opposition research against an opponent, and instead of releasing one or two damaging tidbits at a time, the operatives package all of their research together and release it all at once. These “dumps” of opposition research are intended to be devastating by their sheer volume: the recipient is supposed to see the size of the research project and come away with the belief that the targets are as controversial as their critics claim.

    We’ve now reached the point at which the White House is conducting oppo dumps on the country’s leading infectious disease expert — during a deadly pandemic, and amidst rising infection and fatality rates. Indeed, multiple organizations received the anti-Fauci research.

    […] As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) noted over the weekend, “Don’t let this feel normal. It’s nuclear grade bananas to have White House staff sending reporters opposition research on their own top infectious disease doctor in the middle of a worsening pandemic that has already killed 130,000.”

    […] White House officials have the resources and interest to smear the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but it doesn’t have a national testing strategy, a PPE distribution plan, or any kind of strategy to re-open schools.

    […] Trump is “galled” by the fact that the infectious disease expert has a higher approval rating than he does.

    […] Most importantly, however, Fauci has become an impediment to the White House’s plans. Trump and his team effectively want to stop fighting the coronavirus pandemic and start encouraging Americans to pretend everything has returned to normal. Fauci and other experts have adopted a far more responsible line […]

    And so, the calculus is simple: the more Fauci’s reality-based assessments prove inconvenient, the more the Team Trump finds it necessary to discredit Fauci. The White House wants the public to stop listening to the authorities and start listening to the president.

    My point isn’t that Fauci and other leading experts are infallible. They’re obviously not. But Fauci, his colleagues, and his scientific contemporaries are focused on evidence and best practices — which is more than anyone could say about their misguided political critics.

  244. says

    Follow-up to comment 372.

    OMFG. “Trump Boosts False Conspiracy Theory That Doctors And CDC Are ‘Lying’ About COVID.”

    […] Trump on Monday morning escalated his efforts to whitewash COVID-19 by attacking health experts and even his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose science-based evaluations of the virus continue to clash with Trump’s falsely rosy portrayal of it.

    Trump retweeted a deranged post by Chuck Woolery, a faithfully pro-Trump radio host, that ranted about so-called “outrageous lies” about the virus […]

    “Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust,” Woolery tweeted. “I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election.”

    The President reposted the commentator’s evidence-free conspiracy theory on Monday morning: “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”

    […] Part of Trump’s attempts to publicly dismiss the alarming figures is to falsely claim that the outbreak is “going away” (Arizona, Florida, and multiple other states are seeing record-breaking increases in COVID-19 cases daily) […]

    But health experts, including White House COVID-19 task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, have pushed back on Trump’s deceptive framing of the pandemic and warned that the coronavirus is still very much on the rise.

    Trump and the White House have begun trying to discredit those experts in response, with the President telling Fox News host Sean Hannity last week that they have been “wrong about a lot of things.” The White House even sent several media outlets on Sunday a list of remarks Fauci had made about COVID-19 in the beginning of the pandemic that turned out to be incorrect later on.

    Link

  245. tomh says

    NYT:
    Inside the White House, a Gun Industry Lobbyist Delivers for His Former Patrons
    By Michael LaForgia and Kenneth P. Vogel
    July 13, 2020

    The Trump administration lifted a ban on sales of silencers to private overseas buyers that was intended to protect U.S. troops from ambushes. The change was championed by a lawyer for the president who had worked for a firearms trade group.

    Michael B. Williams spent nearly two years helping to run a trade group focused on expanding sales of firearm silencers by American manufacturers.

    But try as he might, he could not achieve one of the industry’s main goals: overturning a ban on sales to private foreign buyers enacted by the State Department to protect American troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    Then Mr. Williams joined the Trump administration.

    As a White House lawyer, he pushed to overturn the prohibition, raising the issue with influential administration officials and creating pressure within the State Department, according to current and former government officials.

    On Friday, the State Department lifted the ban, and a longtime industry goal was realized. The change paved the way for as much as $250 million a year in possible new overseas sales for companies that Mr. Williams had championed as general counsel of the American Suppressor Association.

    …in this case, Mr. Williams’s victory comes for a key constituency as President Trump seeks re-election…the gun lobby, which plays a leading role in Republican get-out-the-vote efforts and views eliminating silencer restrictions as an emerging issue. It’s a subject that has been embraced by the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — an ally of Mr. Williams’s former trade group — as well as by other powerful gun industry groups…

    “This is another win for the firearm and suppressor manufacturers by the Trump administration,” said Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, in a statement after the ban was lifted Friday.

    … That association said it was “thrilled” with the ban’s end…

  246. says

    Follow-up to comment 373.

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Seriously, Chuck Woolery…

    A 1980’s game show host.

    I mean, I’m not surprised… but still somewhat amazed
    ———————
    How dare he malign the memories of the doctors, nurses and others who have lost their lives because he screwed up royally.
    ——————–
    You only need to look at the infection rate curves of the EU and compare that against the US to know who the liar is.
    ——————-
    I hope the U.S. can survive until January 2021.
    ——————-
    Poor Deranged Donnie. Everyone is out to get him. It’s a freakin’ global conspiracy to undermine the greatest POTUS in the history of the nation. Thank god we have third rate game show hosts to set the record straight.
    ——————–
    Trump keeps insisting that experts, doctors, epidemiologists, etc., are LYING about COVID to harm his reelection chances. Those who lie regularly (including Trump himself) lie for a reason.

    Trump doesn’t understand that all of these experts are NOT lying and stating the facts for the betterment of humanity, not for some petty personal reasons, like Trump.
    ———————
    If tRump wins in November, the nation is sunk. If Biden wins, he will need legions of decent Americans to clean the stink out of every government agency. And legions more of us outside government to have their backs.
    ——————-
    I’d love to see a push for his resignation. Just put it out there and keep pounding away. Getting to November is one thing but then there’s almost three more months till he’s pushed to the curb. Washington Democrats need to turn up the volume. The trajectory of his madness is scary.

  247. says

    KG @370:

    As in many other countries and contexts, particularly exploitative workplaces turn out to be particularly hospitable to an infectious disease organism. Who could possibly have guessed???

    Exactly. Well said.

    In other news, here are more details, and more commentary, related to the fact that the White House has launched an anti-Fauci campaign:

    Even as the COVID-19 pandemic spirals out of control, mostly in Republican-led states that were contemptuous of basic pandemic precautions even as New York showed how vital they were, Donald Trump continues to obsess over punishing his perceived enemies, using corrupt means to reward allied criminals, and making new declarations of imaginary victory even as 130,000 Americans lie dead. His White House aides, sycophantic suck-ups one and all, continue to do their very best to assist.

    Team Trump’s latest declared target is therefore Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government infectious disease expert now known for Publicly Disagreeing with a delusional shitposting idiot […] On Sunday the Trump team mounted a full assault on Fauci, one conducted both anonymously and fully aided by a political press corps still incapable of dealing with the moment. As usual, it is apparently based solely on appeasing a crabby and pouting Trump.

    The new Team Trump attack on Fauci is premised on a Trump declaration to, also as usual, Fox News meathead Sean Hannity. During a Fox News interview with Hannity, Trump dismissed Fauci as making “a lot of mistakes.” By Sunday Dear Leader’s White House team had thus assembled a talking point list about all of Fauci’s “mistakes” in the outbreak, and shopped it vigorously to the press.

    The notion of the Trump-Pence White House team assembling a list of somebody else’s purported pandemic missteps, and for the sole sake of propping up Dear Leader’s own delusional claims (yet again), ought to be a rich source of shame ]…]

    The Washington Post was, however, at least willing to provide some insight on how this attack likely came to be. Last week the White House’s continued efforts to limit public appearances by Fauci and other government experts publicly erupted again after CBS Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan told viewers that “we have not been able to get our requests for Dr. Fauci approved by the Trump administration in the last three months, and the CDC not at all.”

    According to the Post, this public revelation led to the White House approving Fauci appearances on PBS, CNN, and NBC. But after Fauci appeared on a Facebook Live event last Tuesday with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, in which Fauci called the Trump-pushed notion that declining death rates showed that the nation’s pandemic response was improving a “false narrative” and “false complacency,” the White House again cancelled all those appearances. Within two days, Trump himself was nipping at Fauci from inside Hannity’s welcoming swamp.

    Short version? The pandemic is now taking off throughout the country, but the Trump team’s top priority remains coddling an unstable ever-raging incompetent through each day rather than taking obvious steps to control it. Again. Still. The U.S. death toll is now all but assured to reach a quarter million, and may grow far beyond even that, but Trump, Pence, and their top advisers remain obsessed with retaliating against anyone who might warn Americans what the reality of the situation truly is.

    Link

    I will add an additional not that much of the official White House sniping at Fauci includes statements taken out of context, which, when put back in context, do not damage Fauci’s reputation at all. Not at all. More on that later.

  248. blf says

    I haven’t yet seen any report giving much in the way of details, but France has reached an agreement with the various healthcare workers unions about improved pay, etc., France raises pay for health care workers by more than €8 billion:

    […]
    The bulk of the package comprises 7.5 billion euros ($8.5 billion) for pay increases for nurses and careworkers, who will get an average monthly raise of 183 euros ($208).

    There is also 450 million euros ($510 million) for doctors intended to bolster wages for those who solely work in the public sector, a move aimed at luring them from more lucrative private clinics.

    […]

    Some unions haven’t signed, but that’s not too surprising — this is France, where trying to get three people to agree makes alligator dentistry in a minefield a relaxing hobby.

    Rather notable was the (new) PM Jean Castex apologising for the delay in reaching a settlement (slightly garabledconfused translation by France24), “[This is] also a way of catching up the delay for each and every one — including perhaps myself — has their share of responsibility.”

  249. says

    More on the White House campaign meant to discredit Dr. Fauci:

    […] Dan Scavino, deputy chief of staff for communications, shared a cartoon on his Facebook page late Sunday that depicted Fauci as a faucet flushing the U.S. economy down the drain with overzealous health guidance to slow the spread of the pandemic.

    The cartoon, which shows Fauci declaring schools should remain closed and calling for “indefinite lockdowns,” did not accurately portray what Fauci has advised in public. […]

    Public health experts have leaped to Fauci’s defense on Twitter, noting that Fauci is one of the most respected health experts in the world, having worked for six presidents and researched HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika and a variety of other infectious diseases.

    “When studies show that, opposite from SARS & MERS, COVID19 is most infectious soon after infection & less infectious later, we recognize asymptomatic transmission and importance of masks,” tweeted Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC.

    “That’s called science, not a mistake. The real, deadly mistake is not listening to science.”

    Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, tweeted, “His track record isn’t perfect. It’s just better than anyone else I know. Sidelining Dr. Fauci makes the federal response worse. And it’s the American people who suffer.” […]

    Link

  250. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Judge blocks Justice Dept. from resuming federal executions as court battles mount
    By Mark Berman
    July 13, 2020

    A judge on Monday blocked the Justice Department from resuming federal executions as planned this week, setting up a new front in the myriad legal challenges to the Trump administration’s push to start carrying out capital punishment after a nearly two-decade hiatus.

    The Justice Department’s plan to carry out the first federal executions since 2003 has led to numerous court battles between the government and death-row inmates, their spiritual advisers and even relatives of victims in one case.

    In an order Monday, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the District of Columbia wrote that she was blocking the Justice Department from executing inmates as scheduled — including three set to take place this week — saying it was necessary to let their legal challenges to the government’s lethal-injection protocol play out in court.

  251. says

    From Wonkette: “White House Tries To Shiv Dr. Fauci”

    We’ve reached the point in the pandemic where the White House is putting out oppo research on its own public health officials. Because if Dr. Anthony Fauci is going to hurt Trump’s re-election chances by telling Americans the truth about COVID, then he should probably expect to find a knife in his back, right?

    Well, not in a functional democracy. But in Trump’s America, letting people die so Dear Leader can pretend all is well is just par for the course.

    It started Saturday when Trump’s henchmen passed a memo to the Washington Post saying that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things” and listing statements he made early this year that were overtaken by facts on the ground. With Fauci’s approval ratings on handling the pandemic running 40 points ahead of Trump’s, the president knows firing him would be politically deadly. So the White House and Fox News are waging a systematic campaign to soften their own public health guy up by destroying his credibility. […]

    So then those honorable public servants — hey, you pay their salaries! — decided to put their hit memo on blast. If they couldn’t get the Post to do their dirty work on the DL, they’d go for quantity instead of quality. But even the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman wasn’t willing to swallow their spin, pointing out that the White House had selectively quoted Fauci to make it seem as if he’d pooh-poohed the possibility that coronavirus posed a real danger to Americans.

    For example, White House officials pointed to a statement by Dr. Fauci in a Feb. 29 interview that “at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.” But they omitted a warning he delivered right after.

    “Right now the risk is still low, but this could change,” he said in the interview, conducted by NBC News. “When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread.”

    In the same interview, Dr. Fauci also warned that the coronavirus could become “a major outbreak.”

    […] Last week Dr. Fauci went on the FiveThirtyEight podcast and admitted that 135,000 dead Americans and tens of thousands of positive tests every day are not, in fact, indicative of a wonderful pandemic response by the Trump administration.

    “As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. I mean, we’re just not,” he said.

    The doctor has been similarly tepid on Trump’s plan to throw open the schoolhouse doors and send kids back to class next month. So if the White House can’t get the media to smear him, they’ll have to make do with muzzling Fauci. The Post reports that after he appeared on a Facebook live event with Democratic Senator Doug Jones on Tuesday warning Americans against “false complacency,” the White House revoked its permission for him to appear on PBS, CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday. Instead they sent Admiral Brett Giroir, an undersecretary at HHS, in his place. […]

    When asked if Fauci’s recommendation that parts of the country will have to be shut down again in response to localized coronavirus spikes, Giroir responded, “I respect Dr. Fauci a lot, but Dr. Fauci is not 100 percent right, and he also doesn’t necessarily — and he admits that — have the whole national interest in mind. He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view.”

    Presumably he meant that Dr. Fauci was doing his damn job and making public health recommendations, not economic ones. Although perhaps he was referring to the good doctor’s failure to consider Trump’s electoral prospects. We should probably ask Chuck Woolery about this one.

    [see comment 373]

    Link

  252. says

    Trump’s attacks on Fauci and other experts reinforce that he’d rather Americans be confused than concerned.

    Washington Post link

    […] not entirely unusual that Trump would attack someone over whom he has authority within the government. There are enough former administration officials who have been the targets of abuse by Trump […] that they could form a small basketball league. […]

    What’s unusual about the White House’s efforts to undermine Anthony S. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases […] is that the only way in which Fauci has undercut the president is by being honest about the moment.

    […] What Fauci has done is make obvious both that the pandemic is as bad as it seems and that there are ways in which it can be addressed, which at times conflict with what Trump would like to see. Trump’s vision for what happens with the virus’s spread is fairly straightforward: Businesses reopen and kids go back to school and he gets reelected and then it just sort of becomes a nonissue somehow. […] What Fauci and, more broadly, government and medical experts foresee is grimmer: With better containment and Americans taking more responsibility for stopping the spread of the virus, maybe we can keep the death toll down until there’s a vaccine.

    The White House’s release of wan talking points about ways Fauci has been “wrong” — a descriptor that’s bolstered heavily by being applied with the benefit of hindsight — is a fundamentally hollow act. Fauci’s approach to the pandemic has been guidance tempered by uncertainty. Trump’s has been certainty unhindered by guidance. White House officials now want to rein in Fauci by cherry-picking instances in which they can take Fauci out of context to use the uncertainties of the pandemic against him

    […] Notice, though, the form of the attack on Fauci. It’s a fundamentally Trumpian one, aimed not at proving Fauci incapable or of elevating some expert they see as more fit for the moment but, instead, at arguing that Fauci’s word can’t really be trusted. It’s not that Trump and his team think that Fauci’s messing up, really. It’s that they want people to be unsure just how good or bad things are. […]

    we’ve seen Trump try to seem less obviously deceptive by positioning his opponents as similarly unreliable. […]

    Again: Trump would rather have no one be trusted than that he stand out as unusually untrustworthy […]

    We should highlight, too, that what the CDC and Fauci are saying about the pandemic isn’t even particularly exceptional. The CDC, for example, offers fairly nuanced guidelines for reopening schools safely. Trump just wants them fully open and is frustrated that any school district would use the guidelines to decide that it is perhaps not quite ready to do so. So why have guidelines?

    […] It’s not as if there’s a recent example of how this could go wrong. [bars and restaurants reopening too soon]

    But Trump thinks he knows what to do and Fauci and other experts are saying something else, so he’s kindly requesting that you believe that Fauci and the CDC are unreliable because that increases the odds that you’ll listen to him instead. And if you listen to him, he thinks, businesses will reopen and kids will be in schools and one day, the virus will simply go away, like magic.

    The experts respectfully disagree.

  253. blf says

    ‘Tsunami of untruths’: Trump has made 20,000 false or misleading claims:

    Washington Post says Trump hit the milestone on 9 July
    […]
    The Post created its database during Trump’s first 100 days in office. Staff have since gone through every statement the president [sic] has made at press conferences and rallies, in TV appearances and on social media.

    In those first 100 days, the Post’s factcheckers counted 492 false or misleading claims, at a rate of about five a day. Since then, the factcheckers note: “The tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.”

    “The notion that Trump would exceed 20,000 claims before he finished his term appeared ludicrous when the Fact Checker started this project,” wrote Glenn Kessler, editor and chief writer, and factcheckers Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly.

    Over the last 14 months, as events have unfolded around the Mueller report, Trump’s impeachment, the coronavirus pandemic and the police killing of George Floyd, Trump has averaged 23 false or misleading claims a day. [a lie an hour! –blf]

    The column notes Trump has expressed nearly 1,200 lies and misleading claims about the pandemic, many of which revolve around America’s testing capacity. Trump often says the US has the best record on testing. Experts say testing has not been on par with the size of its outbreak.

    The Post’s Fact Checker staff found that Trump’s most prolific lie is his claim that the US economy is the best it has ever been.

    Political scientists generally agree that a strong economy is the most important factor for a president seeking re-election. […] Trump has since “been forced to adapt {the message} for the tough economic times, and doing so has made it even more fantastic. Whereas he used to say it was the best economy in US history, he now often recalls that he achieved the best economy in the history of the world.”

  254. says

    From Steve Benen: “Not to put too fine a point on this, but no good can come of a presidential campaign to weaken public confidence in reality.”

    […] a former gameshow host [Chuck Woolery] becomes a pundit, peddles baseless conspiracy theory, which is celebrated by another former gameshow host who became the leader of the free world, and who loves baseless conspiracy theories. […]

    From Politico’s Kyle Cheney:

    It’s hard to underscore how dangerous it is for the president — amid a raging pandemic — to use the most powerful communication megaphone in the world to say scientists and doctors are nearly all politically motivated liars.

  255. says

    50 million unemployment claims have now been filed. Almost half still haven’t been paid

    […] The only possible takeaway is that once again, we’re screwed, and we’re going to be screwed for a while. […] because small-government zealots have both blocked modernizations and relentlessly cut access to unemployment insurance under the conservative claim that people who cannot find jobs that might not exist have only laziness to blame […]

    First, to the numbers cited: About 50 million unemployment claims have been filed so far during the pandemic. A bit over half of them have been paid to at least some extent, and it can take literally months for a new claim to work through the still thoroughly overwhelmed state systems. That doesn’t mean the recipients are then getting enough cash to stabilize themselves, especially after going heavily into debt waiting for that help to arrive.

    For those whose claims have still not been processed, the situation is getting more desperate with each passing week. And even getting yourself into the system to begin with may require waiting outside a state office for up to eight hours, or camping out overnight.

    […]The population of the United States in total is about 330 million, which would suggest that one out of every seven Americans has now filed an unemployment claim. None of these offices were built to handle one out of every seven people in the country all needing assistance in the span of a few months.

    […] So now what? On economic issues, many states seem collectively to be in roughly the same place as they are on mask orders, shelter-in-place orders, and other pandemic responses. The bare minimum is done, and the bare minimum is done only after weeks of it being obvious that it was urgently, urgently needed. Republican-led governments in states like Texas and Florida have resisted lifesaving measures every step of the way, begrudgingly making changes only after the charts show that disaster has already arrived; similarly, the nation still seems to be slow-walking its way to the realization that escalating mass unemployment is going to lead to widespread poverty … real soon now.

    Meanwhile, the negotiations for “Phase 4” of federal pandemic relief are underway. According to the resident White House depression-creator, they would prefer it revolve around tax cuts, unemployment cuts, and “bonuses” for returning to work during the pandemic.

    Yeah. It’s depressing.

  256. says

    By Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker: “How Trump Is Helping Tycoons Exploit the Pandemic.”

    The secretive titan behind one of America’s largest poultry companies, who is also one of Trump’s top donors, is ruthlessly leveraging the coronavirus crisis—and his vast fortune—to strip workers of protections.

    On June 22nd, in the baking heat of a parking lot a few miles inland from Delaware’s beaches, several dozen poultry workers, many of them Black or Latino, gathered to decry the conditions at a local poultry plant owned by one of […] Trump’s biggest campaign contributors. […]. The union, part of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., represents some 1.3 million laborers in poultry-processing and meatpacking plants, as well as workers in grocery stores and retail establishments. Its members, many defined as “essential” workers—without the option of staying home—have been hit extraordinarily hard by the coronavirus. The union estimates that nearly thirty thousand of its workers in the food and health-care sectors have contracted covid-19, and that two hundred and thirty-eight of those have died.

    […] in the middle of the pandemic, as the number of infected workers soared, the plant’s owner, Mountaire Corporation—one of the country’s largest purveyors of chicken—conspired, along with Donald Trump, to “kick us out.” [to kick the union out]

    […] The jobs at Mountaire rank as among the most dangerous and worst paid in America. Government statistics indicate that poultry and meat-processing companies report more severe injuries than other industries commonly assumed to be more hazardous, including coal mining and sawmilling. Between 2015 and 2018, on average, a slaughterhouse worker lost a body part, or went to the hospital for in-patient treatment, about every other day.

    Unlike meatpackers, two-thirds of whom belong to unions, only about a third of poultry workers are represented by organized labor—and those who are unionized face mounting pressure. The industry, which is dominated by large multinational corporations such as Mountaire, has grown increasingly concentrated, expanding its political influence while replacing unionized employees with contract hires, often immigrants or refugees.[…] Trump has weakened federal oversight of the industry while accepting millions of dollars in political donations from some of its most powerful figures, including Ronald Cameron, Mountaire’s reclusive owner. In 2016, Cameron gave nearly three million dollars to organizations supporting Trump’s candidacy.

    […] Mountaire has operations in five states. It reportedly generated more than $2.3 billion in revenue last year. Because it is owned almost entirely by Cameron—and because it supplies poultry to other companies that put their own labels on the meat—the company’s public profile is virtually nonexistent. Cameron himself has received almost no media attention. […] According to trade journals, however, Mountaire has been spectacularly successful. Arkansas Business reported that the company’s sales in 2019 were a billion dollars higher than they were in 2010, nearly doubling the size of the business. […] as Mountaire’s revenues have risen wages for poultry workers have fallen even further behind. In 2002, workers were paid twenty-four per cent less than the national average for manufacturing jobs; today, they are paid forty-four per cent less. On average, poultry workers now earn less than fourteen dollars an hour.

    [snipped details about weakening and busting unions]

    “We’re really being let down by the federal agencies,” Williams, the union spokesperson, said. He also lamented a shift at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the division of the Labor Department that enforces workplace safety. […] during the pandemic the Times editorial board has been prompted to ask, “Why is OSHA awol?” Democrats pushed for the agency to issue an emergency rule forcing businesses to comply with the Centers for Disease Control’s health guidelines for covid-19, but the Labor Department refused.

    Instead, on April 28th, […] Trump issued an executive order defining slaughterhouse workers as essential. The White House had appointed Cameron to an advisory board on the pandemic’s economic impact. The executive order commanded meat-processing facilities to “continue operations uninterrupted to the extent possible.” The Labor Department released an accompanying statement that all but indemnified companies for exposing workers to covid-19. It assured employers in essential industries that the agency wouldn’t hold them responsible if they failed to follow the C.D.C.’s health guidelines, as long as they made a “good faith” effort.

    […] David Michaels, a professor of public health at George Washington University, who headed OSHA during the Obama Administration, told me that the agency was “saying that the Labor Department would side with the employers if workers sued,” and added, “That would be unthinkable in any other Administration. OSHA’s job isn’t to protect corporations—it’s to protect workers!”

    […] reports show that in April, as Tyson and other producers were warning that “millions of pounds of meat will disappear” from American stores if they had to shut down, exports of pork to China broke records—and Mountaire’s chicken exports were 3.4 per cent higher than they were a year earlier.[…] “They were crying about shortages, and yet we’re still exporting meat. The shortage was phony.”

    Meanwhile, coronavirus cases exploded in the meat-and-poultry industry. Initially, Mountaire released statistics about employee infections. […] Hill’s shop steward, Manuel Rosales, told him not to trust this number. […] A month later, a television station in North Carolina reported that a Mountaire plant, in Siler City, which employs some sixteen hundred workers, had at least seventy-four positive cases among workers and their families. After that, the company stopped sharing its covid-19 numbers. Mountaire became so secretive, Hill said, that workers “were seeing people disappear, and they didn’t know what the hell was going on.” […]
    […] Trump’s executive order was interpreted as superseding state and local health departments. In a private conversation with the union, Delaware’s governor, John Carney, a Democrat, admitted that he had wanted universal testing in the plants, and had considered ordering them shut, but felt “handcuffed” by Trump’s order. […]

    The union also maintains that Mountaire charged employees for the protective equipment necessary for them to work safely. The company denies this: Bassett told me that Mountaire has distributed cloth masks to workers, although not N95 masks, and, “where possible,” has erected Plexiglas shields between employees, along with instituting daily body-temperature checks. But Williams, the union spokesperson, sent me a screenshot of a Mountaire paycheck stub that shows deductions for “plant supplies.” Williams said that the supplies in question were “gloves and aprons and such,” adding that deductions like these were illegal. […]

    The union’s struggles with the Labor Department are part of a much larger reversal of federal protections for workers, consumers, and the environment under Trump. [snipped details] “Everyone is looking at the shiny object—the pandemic,” he said. “Meanwhile, the government is deregulating everything. It’s unreal.”

    In April, for instance, the United States Department of Agriculture granted fifteen waivers to poultry plants, including a Mountaire facility in North Carolina, authorizing them to increase the number of birds per minute—or B.P.M.—that workers must process. The waivers enabled companies to accelerate the pace from a hundred and forty B.P.M. to a hundred and seventy-five. […] as the line speed increases so do injuries and other stresses on workers’ bodies. […] faster production lines require more workers, who must then squeeze closer together. […] the U.S.D.A. has now indicated that it plans to permit faster line speeds throughout the poultry industry. […] “these policies will result in the deaths of many more workers.”

    […] “If you’re a worker in a plant bursting with covid-19, it’s a shitshow for you,” Berkowitz said. “The industry is getting away with murdering people.”

    Michaels, the former osha head, told me, “We’re very much back in Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ ”—the 1906 novel that exposed abuses in the meat industry. […] Although Trump claims to be a defender of the working class, he has delighted wealthy donors […] “Mountaire and others are taking advantage of the covid-19 crisis to say, ‘We need more chickens.’ The Trump Administration is aiding and abetting this. […]

    She [an employee from the Selbyville plant] asked to speak anonymously, because she feared retribution both from Mountaire and from local racists, who, she said, seemed more aggressive recently toward African-Americans like her; when out shopping, she had noticed more Confederate-flag paraphernalia on public display. But she was eager to describe working conditions so exploitative that, as she put it, “it’s slavery, baby.”

    […] She was paid about thirteen dollars an hour until the pandemic hit. Mountaire then instituted a hazard-pay raise of a dollar an hour, but in June the raise was cancelled. Even local convenience stores, she noted, gave workers a three-dollar-an-hour raise. “And then Mountaire took it back!” she said, shaking her head. “Why are they giving us a one-dollar raise and giving two million dollars to Donald Trump? What are we, animals?”

    She works in the refrigerated side of the plant, handling eviscerated carcasses. The temperature, she said, is so cold that “it’s unbearable.” Although she is under fifty, she said that she already has arthritis. […]

    respiratory systems had suffered from inhaling harsh antimicrobial chemicals, such as peracetic acid, that are used to protect chicken from contamination. When she walks through some parts of the plant, “I hold my breath,” she told me.

    When the pandemic hit, she said, “a lot of people died.” […] she warned her supervisor that another friend at the plant, an émigré from Guatemala, seemed sick. The supervisor sent the woman to see the company nurse. The employee told me, “The nurse sent her right back on the God-damned line to work. The nurses aren’t worth shit in there.”

    The Guatemalan woman eventually stopped showing up for work. One day, one of her four sons called and said that his mother was sick with covid-19 and was on a ventilator. “That woman worked right by me!” […] “It’s an evil company.”

    […] at least twenty-two hundred poultry workers on the Delmarva Peninsula contracted covid-19, and at least seventeen died. […]

    Bassett, the Mountaire spokesperson, said, “This has really been a challenge for everyone. We tried to follow the C.D.C. guidelines, but they changed.” At first, the C.D.C. had advised that anybody exposed to the virus should quarantine for two weeks. But, Bassett said, “at some point the C.D.C. realized essential workers were being sent home for fourteen days.” Williams alleges that the C.D.C. rolled back its recommendation “after interventions from lobbyists and Trump.”

    […] Another surge appears to be coming: in late June, word spread through the Selbyville plant that fifteen more workers had been sent home because of the virus. […]

  257. says

    Follow-up to comment 387.

    Here is the link

    Much more information, and background on Trump-donor Ronnie Cameron, is available at the link. Excerpts from the background material:

    Cameron was raised an Episcopalian, but he and his wife now attend one of Little Rock’s biggest evangelical churches, Fellowship Bible. A hub of social conservatism, it lists condemnation of homosexuality as among its key beliefs, stating on its Web site that “Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women.”

    Six years ago, Duffy told me, he ran into Cameron at a memorial service. They hadn’t seen each other in years, but, because they had been close in school, Duffy felt that he could speak openly about his life. “You know I’m gay, don’t you?” he said.

    “Yes,” Cameron replied. “And I also know you’re going to Hell.” He turned his back and walked away.

    […] By 2001, Cameron had extended his sphere of influence beyond Arkansas by becoming a director of one of the Washington area’s most secretive and best-connected religious organizations: the Fellowship Foundation, also known as the Family.

    […] critics such as Jeff Sharlet see its blurring of church and state as a threat to democracy. Cameron has long been a major funder of the group, typifying what Sharlet sees as its conflation of big business and Christian nationalism. […] “They think God favors the powerful, and that Jesus came as a leader of the rich and powerful, not of the powerless.” He added, “They should just own up to what they are—the American Religion of Autocratic Capitalism.”

    […] The Jesus Fund has the same address as Cameron’s corporate office, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and shares the same phone number. [… a huge source of funding for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that facilitates lawsuits aiming to curb abortion and L.G.B.T.Q. rights, and also supports limiting insurance coverage for contraceptives […]

    By 2014, Cameron’s name was appearing on lists of the nation’s largest campaign contributors. He and his company spent $4.8 million on Republican candidates and groups that year. […]

  258. says

    An old Bill Barr quote about presidential pardons makes a comeback

    Bill Barr counseled Donald Trump not to grant clemency to Roger Stone. Perhaps it’s because the attorney general feared it might be a crime?

    In January 2019, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation neared its end, many congressional Democrats were understandably concerned about Donald Trump issuing corrupt pardons to his friends and allied operatives. It was against this backdrop that Bill Barr — the president’s then-nominee to serve as attorney general — fielded questions on the matter as part of a Senate confirmation process.

    Constitutional law professor Harry Litman, a former federal prosecutor, flagged one of particular interest over the weekend: Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) asked the Republican lawyer, “Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him?”

    Barr responded with no real equivocation. “No,” he told Leahy. “That would be a crime.”

    […] NBC News reported over the weekend that the attorney general advised Trump not to rescue Roger Stone from legal jeopardy. The president, we now know, did it anyway.

    It’s against this backdrop that a Washington Post analysis today asked the right question: Why did Barr counsel Trump against the move in the first place?

    Why exactly Barr counseled against this isn’t known, but there are two obvious options: He worried about the obviously problematic political appearance of a president commuting the sentence of a man who lied in ways that protected the president himself, and/or he worried about the legal implications of doing it. It seems possible from Barr’s comments that it might be the latter.

    Exactly. Barr is hardly indifferent to political considerations. On the contrary, we’ve seen examples of the attorney general making recommendations to the White House specifically with the 2020 election in mind.

    […] Perhaps the A.G. tried to steer Trump in a more responsible direction because he realized the president was allowing himself to drift into felonious waters?

  259. says

    RNC Spokesperson Deletes Bizarre Tweet Attacking Biden Family Photo

    The Republican National Committee’s “rapid response” director on Monday deleted a bizarre attack against Joe Biden that featured a picture of the former vice president and one of his children.

    The GOP official, Steve Guest, captioned the photo — in which a younger Biden [the very young child wears the hat] wears a Washington “Redskins” hat — with the text, “Hey Joe Biden, are you still a Redskins fan?” (The Washington football team announced Monday that, after years of criticism, they would pick a new name.)

    Guest, responding rapidly to criticism of his tweet, dug himself deeper in the mud with another.

    “To the libs in my mentions, odds are this is a photo of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s crack smoking son who was administratively discharged from the Navy for testing positive for cocaine and who has abused his dad’s elected position to get rich off the Chinese Communist Party,” he wrote. […]

    Both tweets are now gone. […]

    But the family moment was an odd choice for an attack: Just last month, Biden posted the photo and others on his Facebook page under a note about Father’s Day. […]

  260. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz, writing for The New Yorker:

    Betsy DeVos vowed on Sunday to do everything in her power as Secretary of Education to protect the nation’s children from education.

    In an interview on CNN, DeVos said many parents were “understandably concerned” that, if their children return to school in the fall, they might be exposed to learning.

    “That will not happen on my watch,” she promised. “We are working around the clock at the Department of Education to keep your children safe from comprehension.”

    DeVos said that her staff had drafted strict distancing measures to ensure that America’s students are as distanced as possible from anything resembling a curriculum when they return to school.

    “If it means eliminating books, computers, or even teachers, your kids will be distanced,” she said.

    Raising a worst-case scenario, DeVos said that, if knowledge is somehow transmitted to students, “I will shut down that school in a minute.”

    “We will be doing a lot of testing,” DeVos said. “If students’ test scores somehow go up, then I have failed.”

    Link

  261. says

    Worse:

    […] Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s 40-month prison sentence also includes clearing Stone of his two years of supervised release and his $20,000 fine, according to a clemency grant document released by the Justice Department Monday.

    Quoted text is from TPM.

    Update on Trump’s financial disclosure forms:

    […] Trump has been granted a second 45-day extension to file his personal financial disclosure forms, which will give the American public its only detailed look at the president’s private business interests, according to a letter released by the White House. The forms are supposed to detail Trump’s income, debt, stock holdings and outstanding loans for 2019. They were originally due May 15, but Trump got an extension until the end of June.

    Quoted text is from the Washington Post.

  262. blf says