1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    “Watch this space”. Tomorrow night, Mary Trump will be interviewed by Rachel Maddow on her show. Must see TV.

  2. says

    Fauci Says WH Effort To Discredit Him Is ‘Major Mistake’ That ‘Ultimately Hurts’ Trump

    The nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told The Atlantic in an interview published Wednesday, that recent attempts by the White House to attack and discredit him are “nonsense” and “completely wrong.”

    When asked how he would respond to claims coming from the White House that he had lied about the coronavirus, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told The Atlantic, “I stand by everything I said.”

    Over the weekend, a White House memo sent out to multiple media outlets smearing Fauci claimed that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” The memo cited a list that purported to show examples of how Fauci contradicted himself in the early stages of the outbreak.

    When asked about the Trump administration’s mounting crusade to discredit him, Fauci referred to the memo, saying that the list “was a major mistake” and “doesn’t do anything but reflect poorly on them.”

    Fauci also addressed his meeting at the White House on Monday with White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows, saying he told Meadows that the memo was an unwise move that ultimately undermines efforts to defeat the coronavirus and hurts the President.

    “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the President,” Fauci said. “I don’t really want to hurt the President. But that’s what’s happening.” […]

  3. says

  4. says

    Changes are being made in Trump’s campaign staff.

    Trump tweeted:

    I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump Campaign Manager. Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign. Both were heavily involved in our historic 2016 win, and I look forward to having a big and very important second win together. This one should be a lot easier as our poll numbers are rising fast, the economy is getting better, vaccines and therapeutics will soon.

    Trump’s poll numbers are sinking, looking worse week by week.

    […] Two polls released earlier Wednesday found Trump behind by double digits, and a Quinnipiac University poll for the first time found more voters trust Biden on the economy.

    Trump has also faced underwater approval ratings in most recent polls for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 135,000 Americans. […]


    See also Biden leads Trump by 11 points in new national poll

  5. says

    “I’m from Wuhan. I got covid-19 — after traveling to Florida.”

    Washington Post link

    […] Since news of the coronavirus began to emerge, I’ve been living with extreme vigilance. I wore masks everywhere, despite being coughed at and made fun of. “Thank you, China. God bless America,” a lady shouted at me at a supermarket near Washington in late March. But the mocking didn’t bother me. I’ve seen what it takes for 11 million people in Wuhan to get the coronavirus under control, and I knew eventually everyone would have to come to terms with it.

    In June, as months of lockdown fatigue crept in, my husband wanted to celebrate his father’s 70th birthday in Marco Island, Florida. Although the thought of traveling on an airplane was stressful, I let down my guard after seeing the curve flatten and multiple states reopen.

    In Marco Island, my in-laws, my husband and I were a paranoid foursome who stuck out in every crowd. When we ventured out to a popular ice cream shop, we were horrified that none of the customers waiting in line or the staff serving the scoops were wearing masks. Shortly after we flew back to D.C., my husband and I came down with the virus.

    When I told my family in Wuhan, they were in disbelief. In six months, it feels like China and the United States have swapped places: Wuhan, where it all started, has reported zero cases and found just 300 asymptomatic carriers since late May, while some U.S. states are seeing thousands of new cases daily. On Sunday, Florida set a single-day record in the United States, with more than 15,000 cases.

    My mother is baffled by the U.S. pandemic response: “Americans just won’t listen,” she would tell me with frustration. She is used to seeing Chinese authorities aggressively stomp out every flare-up of the virus. In mid-May, Wuhan swabbed 9 million residents in a “10-day battle” in response to a handful of new cases. […]

  6. says

    Good news.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Wednesday, one day after she was admitted with a possible infection, a Supreme Court spokesperson said in a statement. ‘She is home and doing well,’ the spokesperson said. […]

    CNBC link

  7. says

    Bits and pieces of news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    The stockpile is back in the news in a discouraging way: “The federal government may not have the capacity to supply medical professionals with personal protective equipment amid the latest surge in coronavirus cases, according to internal administration documents obtained by NBC News.”

    Referring to coronavirus testing, Donald Trump told CBS News yesterday, “There are many people that think we shouldn’t do this kind of testing because all we do — it’s a trap.”

    No good can come of this: “To help figure out the U.S. citizenship status of every adult living in the country, the Trump administration has made agreements to accumulate driver’s license and state identification card information from states including Iowa, Nebraska, South Carolina and South Dakota, NPR has learned.”

    Possible progress: “Moderna is aiming to begin its final phase of testing for its coronavirus vaccine July 27. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company is the first in the U.S. to announce an estimated start date for phase 3 trials.”

    Culture of corruption: “The U.S. government has paid at least $970,000 to President Trump’s company since Trump took office — including payments for more than 1,600 nightly room rentals at Trump’s hotels and clubs, according to federal records obtained by The Washington Post.”

    The latest congressional infection: “Rep. Morgan Griffith, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has tested positive for coronavirus — a diagnosis that comes five days after the Virginia Republican attended a GOP press conference and which spurred an effort at contact tracing within the group.”

    Tulsa: “A search for a mass grave in Tulsa is ongoing this week, nearly 100 years after a white mob killed an unknown number of Black victims and destroyed the city’s 35-block ‘Black Wall Street’ — a thriving business district.”

    Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has some good advice for Congress: “To continue to provide services that its citizens need and to avoid severe budget and employment cuts that will drag down the economy, states and localities need more federal help. Providing that help is in everyone’s interest.”

  8. says

    There was always a logical explanation for why cases rose through the end of June while deaths did not:

    The deaths are not happening in unpredictable places. Rather, people are dying at higher rates where there are lots of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations: in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California, as well as a host of smaller southern states that all rushed to open up.
    The deaths are also not happening in an unpredictable amount of time after the new outbreaks emerged. Simply look at the curves yourself. Cases began to rise on June 16; a week later, hospitalizations began to rise. Two weeks after that—21 days after cases rose—states began to report more deaths. That’s the exact number of days that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated from the onset of symptoms to the reporting of a death.

    So why has there been so much confusion about the COVID-19 death toll? The second surge is inconvenient for the Trump administration and the Republican governors who followed its lead, as well as for Mike Pence, the head of the coronavirus task force, who declared victory in a spectacularly incorrect Wall Street Journal op-ed titled, “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave.’”
    “Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000—down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May,” Pence wrote. In the month since Pence made this assertion, the seven-day average of cases has tripled.

    The point in laying out these scenarios is not that we’ll reach 300,000 or 800,000 American COVID-19 deaths. That still seems unlikely. But anyone who thinks we can just ride out the storm has perhaps not engaged with the reality of the problem. As the former CDC director Tom Frieden has said, “COVID is not going to stop on its own. The virus will continue to spread until we stop it.”

    Numbers, graphs, and details at the link.

  9. says

    Guardian (please support the Guardian if you can!) – “Dutch city ends ties with Polish twin declared ‘gay-free zone'”:

    A Dutch city has severed its longstanding ties with its twin in Poland after the Polish municipality established itself as an official “gay-free zone”.

    The city council of Nieuwegein, south of Utrecht, voted almost unanimously to end its friendship with Puławy in eastern Poland.

    The municipality 80 miles from Warsaw is one of 100 that have vowed to discourage tolerance and avoid providing financial assistance to NGOs working to promote equal rights.

    “LGBT-free zones”, backed by resolutions voted on by local councillors, are said by equality campaigners to cover about a third of Poland.

    Following the decision by councillors in Nieuwegein to vote by 26-1 to terminate the relationship, stickers with a rainbow flag were placed on one of the city’s entrance signs to cover up its Polish counterpart’s name.

    “Setting the gay-free zones is a serious business and our council has issued a very clear statement that this is not acceptable,” said the Dutch city’s alderman, Marieke Schouten. “We are a rainbow city. And we are both part of Europe, in which we believe that whoever you are, regardless of your orientation, you can be there in public space. It does not include a gay-free zone.”

    The Polish president, Andrzej Duda, who secured a new term last weekend, vowed during his election campaign to “defend children from LGBT ideology”. The pledge proved popular among his conservative base and the Catholic church.

    In a survey conducted last year, when asked to name the biggest threat to Poland the most popular answer among men under 40 was “the LGBT movement and gender ideology”.

    Duda, who is allied with the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) , also vowed to oppose gay marriage or adoption by gay couples, which he described as part of “a foreign ideology”.

    Bożena Krygier, the president of Puławy city council, told the Dutch broadcaster RTL Nederland: “Poland is Poland with its own identity, its own history and its own ideas. This is why we believe that partner municipalities should not interfere with our resolutions.”

    Relations between the two cities had already been in the deep freeze since 2015 after more than 21 years of official twinning.

    The motion backed by the councillors this week formally proposed to “unfriend” the two municipalities and terminate all contacts.

    “We therefore hope that the people concerned, who belong to the LGBTI community in Poland, feel supported by us,” Schouten said.

  10. says

    Here’s a link to the July 16 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Israel faces the prospect of a fresh lockdown as a new daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases was reached.

    The country’s health ministry on Thursday reported 1,898 new cases of the virus, as it registered more than 44,500 total cases.

    At least 380 Israelis have died of Covid-19. It comes as a new economic plan announced by the embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, came under fire as the economy continues to struggle.

    Netanyahu had announced a plan on Wednesday to give out hundreds of dollars in economic aid to every Israeli citizen.

    Whereas the initial virus outbreak was concentrated predominantly in ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities, whose populations often live in poorer, crowded conditions, the health ministry has now warned the disease is spreading more widely.

  11. says

    From Twitter (there’s no credit – just Twitter):

    Governor Brian Kemp bans Georgia cities and counties from mandating masks and face coverings

    Local governments in the state will not be able to order people to wear masks in public places, according to a new executive order issued by Kemp on Wednesday, which also extended many COVID-19 provisions. The Republican governor’s previous COVID-19 orders have for months banned cities and counties from taking more restrictive steps than the state but the new rules explicitly specify for the first time that the state’s local governments can’t enforce mask mandates.

  12. says

    More re #8 from Noga Tarnopolsky:

    Why are Israelis protesting in the streets? Last night PM Netanyahu finally revealed a stimulus plan, which will provide each single citizen *a one-time* payment of $215; a family w/1 child $570; a family w/2 children $715; & a family w/3 children $857.
    This is [peanuts].

    #Breaking: After a near-vertical spike in #COVID19 diagnoses, Israeli cabinet orders all summer schools & kindergartens to close down immediately– today. Here is my chronicle of a public health disaster foretold….

    Daily Beast link at the second link.

  13. says

    Politico – “Trump team launches a sweeping loyalty test to shore up its defenses”:

    In the middle of a devastating pandemic and a searing economic crisis, the White House has an urgent question for its colleagues across the administration: Are you loyal enough to President Donald Trump?

    The White House’s presidential personnel office is conducting one-on-one interviews with health officials and hundreds of other political appointees across federal agencies, an exercise some of the subjects have called “loyalty tests” to root out threats of leaks and other potentially subversive acts just months before the presidential election, according to interviews with 15 current and former senior administration officials.

    The interviews are being arranged with officials across a wide range of departments including Health and Human Services, Defense, Treasury, Labor and Commerce and include the top tier of Trump aides: Senate-confirmed appointees. Officials are expected to detail their career goals and thoughts on current policies, said more than a dozen people across the administration with knowledge of the meetings.

    White House officials have said the interviews are a necessary exercise to determine who would be willing to serve in a second term if President Donald Trump is reelected. But officials summoned for the interviews say the exercise is distracting from numerous policy priorities, like working to fight the pandemic, revitalizing the economy or overhauling regulation, and instead reflect the White House’s conviction that a “deep state” is working to undermine the president.

    It’s “an exercise in ferreting out people who are perceived as not Trump enough,” said one person briefed on the meetings.

    “If they’re spending time trying to hunt down leakers, that’s time they’re taking away from advancing an agenda,” said a former senior administration official who’s spoken with officials undergoing the interviews. “And that’s irresponsible.”

    The interview process, along with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ ongoing hunt for leakers, shows how the White House — less than four months before the presidential election — remains consumed by loyalty and optics despite urgent policy problems such as a raging coronavirus pandemic, nationwide worries about reopening schools and historically high unemployment….

    The reinterviewing exercise is being led by Johnny McEntee, a 30-year-old who’s been a Trump aide since the 2016 campaign and was installed earlier this year as chief of the White House personnel office and is responsible for filling thousands or jobs across the federal agencies.

    The interviews also have exposed some Trump appointees to unexpected risks: Labor Department officials were forced to quarantine after meeting with a White House personnel staffer who later tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Bloomberg Law first reported.

    For Trump‘s true believers, the interviews are viewed as a mandatory part of working in the Trump administration.

    “If we’re going to extend this amount of capital on you, and push for you, they should ask more questions. I’m glad they’re doing it finally,” one White House official said. “The fact that PPO is finally considering whether people are aligned with the president — it’s long overdue.”

    You’re not “extending” any fucking capital. These people are paid by the people of the United States, on whose behalf they’re supposed to be working. As are you.

  14. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Russian state-sponsored hackers are targeting UK, US and Canadian organisations involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine development, according to British security officials.

    The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre said drug companies and research groups were being targeted by a group known as APT29, which it said was “almost certainly” part of the Kremlin’s intelligence services.

    British officials would not say if any of the attacks had been successful in their goal of stealing medical secrets – although they stressed that none of the vaccine research had been compromised as a result.

    It is rare for the UK to explicitly state that it believes another country is behind a coordinated campaign of cyber-attacks, but British officials indicated it shared its assessment with the United States and Canada, both of whom are expected to release their own updates shortly.

  15. says

    Kentucky governor Andy Beshear:

    I just learned the attorney general is asking the Boone Circuit Court judge to void every COVID-19 rule or regulation, and prevent any future orders needed to respond to escalating cases.

    With no rules, there is no chance of getting kids back to school, we will lose over $10 billion in our economy and many Kentuckians will die. I hope everyone understands how scary and reckless this is.

  16. says

    Jennifer Taub:

    Getting ready for the Trump v. Vance teleconference at the SDNY with Judge that begins at 10 a.m. Just dialed in. Will “live tweet” when it commences. Back soon

    What this means:

    Trump has until July 27th (a week from Monday to file an amended complaint).

    Presumably, Vance will then file a motion to dismiss.

    And final briefs due by August 14th.

    Excellent livetweets of the conference atl.

  17. says

    Carol Leonnig:

    The most fascinating part of this Mary Trump interview:
    She sees Trump replaying in the White House his broken relationship with his sociopathic father.
    Like his father, he finds weak people to manipulate.
    Like his young self, he can be used by strongmen.

    Link to Ashley Parker WaPo interview atl.

    From my July 2017 blog post:

    Trump’s success says a great deal about the state of our culture, and of the Republican Party in particular. But [Karen] Horney makes clear that, while our culture often tragically tends to misinterpret aggressive neurotic behavior, especially in men, as strength, like all authoritarian tendencies it’s based in fundamental psychological weakness. Unable to overcome the basic anxiety developed in childhood, the aggressive type relies on fragile and pathetic neurotic “solutions.”

    Trump desperately needs others’ attention, approval, and affirmation, to the point that he has to surround himself with fawning sycophants and a protective shell of delusions. His insecurity runs so deep that no amount of success can ever overcome it. His neurotic pride is the basis of his real self-loathing. Maintaining his neurotic “realist” worldview requires the constant distortion of reality, and his self-image is so brittle that it leaves him always on the defensive, projecting his self-hatred onto others. Unable to handle criticism, he needs to attack and silence critics. Feeling threatened from every direction, he’s constantly on guard for signs that he’s not perceived as his neurotic pride demands, which would bring his self-loathing once again to the surface. Utterly dependent on external validation, he’s easy prey for anyone – or any adept intelligence service – who knows how to manipulate him.

  18. johnson catman says

    re SC @26: What is surprising is that the cops didn’t shoot the kangaroo.

  19. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC: “His insecurity runs so deep that no amount of success can ever overcome it.”

    Well, in fairness, we don’t have any empirical evidence for this as Donald Trump has never succeeded at anything. Even his ascendancy to the highest office in the land occurred despite the fact that he lost the popular vote, despite the assistance of both the Russians and the FBI director. He fails at everything, especially being human.

  20. says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space @ #29:

    Well, in fairness, we don’t have any empirical evidence for this as Donald Trump has never succeeded at anything. Even his ascendancy to the highest office in the land occurred despite the fact that he lost the popular vote, despite the assistance of both the Russians and the FBI director.

    It’s an interesting topic. On one hand, in his pathologically distorted sense of things, “winning” through cheating and lies is as satisfying as (if not more satisfying than) a genuine accomplishment. On the other, part of him always recognizes that his aren’t true accomplishments, which leads to his rage at those who draw attention to his cheating and failures and his desperate need for people to pretend to him that he really is successful. I would say the one area in which he has been successful is as a cult leader, but that could be crumbling. And his constant, all-consuming insecurity and neediness despite the fact that millions of people continue to follow and praise him is evidence for Horney’s argument.

  21. tomh says

    Nancy Pelosi today, on Trump and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.: “Observing his behavior, I have concluded that he is like the man who refuses to ask for directions. All of the answers are there… Ask for direction. Ask for direction from our scientists who know better.”

  22. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The team behind the development of the Covid-19 vaccine at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute in the UK hope to begin tests on volunteers who will be intentionally exposed to the virus in a “challenge trial”, a move seen as controversial since there is no proven cure for the illness.

    Although challenge trials, in which healthy volunteers are given a pathogen, are routine in vaccine development, taking the approach for Covid-19, where there is no failsafe treatment if a volunteer becomes severely ill, has been questioned.

    In human challenge trials volunteers are intentionally exposed in a controlled laboratory setting, meaning the trial can be completed in weeks and requires far fewer people.

  23. blf says

    This afternoon inoutside the pub (at a quiet and nicely socially-distanced time), I found — partly by accident — this music-at-home video which explains what happened to many of those hoarded toilet paper rolls, Atholl Highlanders, Home Office version (Celtica-Pipes Rock!). Also shows a variety of masks and a suggestion for how to deal with those not wearing a mask.
    Warning: Contains bagpipes (they must have very tolerant neighbours). Not “traditional”, however…

  24. says

    Laura Kuenssberg at the BBC – “Curious timing of Russian meddling claims.”

    I have too many problems with her framing to excerpt from the article, but I think it’s obvious that the government’s weak-tea claim about Russian meddling in the 2019 election is part of an attempt to spin the imminent release of the report they’ve gone to great lengths to hide (including prior to the 2019 election!). …So I suppose I should be happy anyone at the BBC would do anything other than fall for it entirely.

  25. blf says

    The raping children cult is trying another diversionary pretend “solution” to their pedophiles, Vatican urges bishops to report sex abuse crimes to police (my added emboldening):

    The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

    The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.

    While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws requires it.

    The manual says: Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.

    And it says church leaders must comply with legitimate subpoena requests.

    The manual, issued in a half-dozen languages, appears aimed in part at depriving bishops and religious superiors of their frequent excuses not to carry out preliminary investigations into accused priests or cooperate with law enforcement.

    The manual states, for example, that anonymous allegations should not be dismissed outright, and that even hearsay and social media posts can constitute the basis on which to launch a preliminary probe.

    In addition, the manual says bishops should not ignore allegations just because they fall outside the church’s statute of limitations, since the Vatican can at any time decide to waive the time limit.


    For any bishop not knowing, it makes clear that the type of crimes that fall under sexual abuse is “quite broad” and includes not only sexual relations but any physical contact for sexual gratification. The manual lists exhibitionism, masturbation, pornography production and “conversations and/or propositions of a sexual nature” that can occur through a variety of means of communication as crimes that must be investigated.

    And it warns that bishops can themselves be prosecuted canonically for negligence if they fail to take allegations seriously and investigate them.


    The No 2 at the Vatican office responsible, Monsignor Giacomo Morandi, acknowledged that no new norms are being promulgated. The real novelty, however, is that for the first time the procedure is described in an organized way — from the first report of a possible crime to the definitive conclusion of the cause, he told Vatican Media.

    The Vatican has long refused to flat-out require bishops to report abuse allegations to police, arguing that such a universal law could lead to unjust treatment of priests in countries where Catholics are a persecuted minority. Survivors and advocates have long blasted the position, arguing that the Vatican could make a universal reporting mandate with certain exceptions if needed.

    So, no change. The child raping cult will continue condone rape, and continue to protect the rapists, with the added nonsense the chief high rapist has said pretend you care.

  26. says

    blf @35, thanks for that. So much fun! Even the drummer’s stick-handling was amusing. Pipes & Rock!

    blf @37, that Catholic manual reminds me of all the “should” constructions in the recent CDC guidelines for meat packing plants. Totally without teeth. Every “should” must be replaced with “must.” Effing loopholes everywhere.

  27. says

    The Hill – “Game show host retweeted by Trump deletes his account after announcing his son has coronavirus”:

    Former game show host Chuck Woolery announced Wednesday his son has tested positive for COVID-19, just days after Woolery accused medical professionals and Democrats of lying about the virus in an effort to hurt the economy and President Trump’s reelection chances.

    Woolery, who hosted several popular game shows including “Love Connection” and “Wheel of Fortune” and who is a staunch supporter of the president’s, has since deleted his Twitter account following the announcement about his son.

    “To further clarify and add perspective, Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus, and I feel for of those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones,” Woolery tweeted before his account disappeared.

    The message comes after Woolery tweeted Monday denouncing “outrageous lies” being told about the coronavirus, comments that Trump retweeted to his more than 83 million followers.

    “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,” Woolery wrote….

  28. says

    Some bits and pieces of campaign news:

    […] the latest Quinnipiac poll was even worse: it showed Biden ahead of Trump, 52% to 37%. “Yes, there’s still 16 weeks until Election Day, but this is a very unpleasant real time look at what the future could be for President Trump. There is no upside, no silver lining, no encouraging trend hidden somewhere in this survey for the president,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said. […]

    Bolstering Democratic hopes in Texas, turnout for this week’s Democratic U.S. Senate runoff shattered a state record set in 1994: 746,641 votes were set 26 years ago, compared to 955,735 votes this week. [Great news!]

    The nation’s largest LGBTQ rights advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, has traditionally supported Sen. Susan Collins’ (R) re-election campaigns, but this year, it’s endorsing her rival, former state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D). […]


  29. says

    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, wrote this:

    I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals.

    Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death. So every governor went their own way, which is how the United States ended up with such a patchwork response…. So many nationwide actions could have been taken in those early days but weren’t.

    [Trump] avowed, falsely, that “anybody” could get a test, even as my fellow governors were desperately pleading for help on testing. Then he shifted from boasting to blame. “We inherited a very obsolete system” from the Obama administration, he claimed, conveniently ignoring the fact that his own CDC had designed the troubled U.S. testing system and that his own Food and Drug Administration had waited a full month before allowing U.S. hospital labs to develop their own tests.

    On March 25, the president was back to bragging again. “We now are doing more testing than anybody by far,” including South Korea, whose widespread testing program was being praised around the world. This was true in absolute numbers, since we are a much bigger country, but we’d tested far fewer per capita than the Koreans had — 1,048 tests per million people vs. South Korea’s 6,764 per million — and of course that was the only figure that mattered. During one White House briefing in late March, Trump said the issue had been dealt with. “I haven’t heard about testing for weeks,” the president insisted. Really?

    As Trump was making these comments, I was requesting his approval to conduct joint testing at the National Institutes of Health. I even called Francis Collins, the head of NIH, to make this request, but he stopped me before I could. Not to argue but to plead: “Actually, Governor,” he said, “I’m glad you called, because I was going to ask you for help.” At NIH headquarters, he explained, his people had the capacity to perform only 72 tests a day. “I don’t even have enough tests for my immune-compromised patients or for my staff,” he said. He wondered if I might prevail upon Johns Hopkins, whose Suburban Hospital is across the street from NIH, to do some testing for him. I could only shake my head at that. The federal government — a much bigger and better-funded institution, with tens of thousands of scientists and physicians in the civil service — wanted my help! Governors always do the hard work, make the tough decisions and take the political heat. But an undertaking as large as a national testing program required Washington’s help. We expected something more than constant heckling from the man who was supposed to be our leader.

    Quoted text above is excerpted from an article written for the Washington Post.

  30. says

    Damn! “SCOTUS Allows FL Ex-Felon Voter Restrictions Struck Down By Judge To Be Reinstated”

    Talking Points Memo link

    Florida’s restrictions on ex-felon voting will likely remain in place at least for August’s primary, after the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to remove a hold on a trial judge’s ruling that those restrictions are unconstitutional.

    The Supreme Court’s action in the case, where the voting rights of hundreds of thousands ex-felons could be at stake in the swing state, is the latest example of the conservative majority siding with restrictive laws.

    […] “This Court’s inaction continues a trend of condoning disfranchisement,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her dissent to the Florida matter, as she referenced the so-called “Purcell” principle instructing courts to avoid injecting chaos in the lead-up to the elections.

    “Ironically, this Court has wielded Purcell as a reason to forbid courts to make voting safer during a pandemic, overriding two federal courts because any safety-related changes supposedly came too close to election day,” she wrote. “Now, faced with an appellate court stay that disrupts a legal status quo and risks immense disfranchisement—a situation that Purcell sought to avoid—the Court balks.”

    Sotomayor is right!

    […] Using an unusual procedural tactic, Florida turbo-charged its appeal of the merits ruling last month to get it quickly before the full 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which President Trump recently flipped to a majority GOP appointees.

    […] In voting to deny the request that they intervene did, the unnamed majority did not explain the move to let the hold remain in place. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan joined Sotomayor’s dissent, but it’s possible that another justice may have dissented privately.

  31. says

    The Pentagon wants to ban the Confederate flag on military bases—but Mark Esper might intervene

    […] top military leaders are “pressuring” Defense Secretary Mark Esper to ban Confederate flags on military bases […] The premise here is that the Pentagon wants Mark Esper to go directly against Dear Dumb Leader, Donald Trump, who most specifically has been campaigning against Confederate flag bans, against renaming military bases to strip the names of Confederate leaders, and against removing statutes of Confederate-traitors-and-the-horses-they-rode-in-on.

    Let’s all put on our pundit hats and take a guess where Mark Esper is going to come down on this, shall we?

    The facts are these: Mark Esper has supported Trump through every rotten thing Trump has done to the military. He stood by while Trump pardoned war criminals and removed top brass who opposed it. He enabled Trump’s reach-down to punish a military official who provided damning testimony during the congressional impeachment investigation against Trump. He followed orders to dispatch troops in preparation to sweep Black Lives Matters demonstrators from Washington, D.C. streets by force, if necessary. Mark Esper remains defense secretary right now because he has methodically made sure to keep on Donald Trump’s good side, even if keeping on Trump’s good side means standing aside while Trump does grotesquely corrupt or anti-American things.

    So if the joint chiefs and other top officials are requesting Esper do the obviously decent thing here, but Donald Trump’s ever-frothing Twitter feed is absolutely purple-faced with rage against anyone who would dare do such a thing, one would have to be a bit dense to presume Esper was suddenly going to decide the nationwide symbol of slack-jawed white supremacy needed to be given the boot.

    Oh, and while the Marine Corps, for example, tried to ban Confederate flags on their own authority, Esper put those policies on hold, ostensibly in preparation for a “department-wide” policy on the matter. […]

    this seems to be yet another situation, as in Trump’s pardoning of war criminals or Trump’s retaliations against military officers, in which Esper must choose between doing the obviously right and decent thing, and chucking that thing in order to polish Trump’s boots. The odds that Esper would have stood by while Trump was a rat bastard all the other times, but this issue is the one he’ll break from Dear Leader on, seem kind of low.

  32. says

    Health department watchdog finds wrongdoing by Medicare/Medicaid chief, HHS attacks watchdog

    […] The HHS inspector general has found that Seema Verma, who is in charge of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), used her position to steer millions of dollars in federal contracts to friends. More than $5 million in taxpayer money went to communications consultants apparently hired to burnish Verma’s image, who circumvented civil servants in the CMS communications department

    […] these contracts put the Government at increased risk for waste and abuse. In her first two years, the report finds, Verma frequently circumvented the civil servants in the communications department and personally directed her hand-picked contractors to write her speeches, secure media appearances, and “even accompan[ied] one for a ‘Girl’s Night Out’ networking event.” […]

    The inspector general’s report also included Verma’s recommendation to contractors that they hire Washington, D.C.-based communications expert Pam Stevens to set up Verma’s media appearances. Stevens created a publicity plan to put Verma in magazines like Glamour, get her invited to glitzy public events like the Kennedy Center Honors, and to get her put on “Power Women” lists. None of which does anything about providing health care for people in a global pandemic or developing a healthcare plan for the contingency that Trump prevails in court and destroys the Affordable Care Act.

    HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo responded in a very Trumpian way to the inspector general’s report—he attacked the watchdog. “The President, Vice-President and the Secretary have enormous confidence in Administrator Verma and the great work she has done, and will continue to do, for the American people,” he said. “But confidence in the Inspector General? Not so much.” That could be an indication that the long-simmering pissing match between Verma and HHS Secretary Alex Azar has been extinguished. They do have a common enemy now: transparency.

  33. says

    “The Former Head of the CDC Has an Audacious Idea for Handling the Pandemic.”

    […] Tom Frieden […] served as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under President Obama from 2009-2017. As the pandemic wore, he became increasingly frustrated by the red tape that held up the implementation of an effective plan. So Frieden, who now runs the global healthcare nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives, proposed a new way of funding projects that are critical to Americans’ health.

    In an early May hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, Frieden introduced a funding mechanism he calls Health Defense Operations. Under this budget, pandemic response projects would be exempt from budget caps, in much the same way as the United States treats additional funding to protect its armed forces. A key part of the plan: Public health experts would be allowed to ask Congress directly for appropriate funding. […]

    On why we need a new way to fund a swift response to pandemics: Even if you’ve got a great project, it has to do battle with every other program within an agency, and every other program within the whole government. It goes up to the larger agency like Health and Human Services and does battle with really wonderful programs like Head Start, or cancer research. And then it makes it over to the Office of Management and Budget, where some 27-year-old, who’s never run a program, makes the budget spreadsheet add up. And then it gets turned over to Congress, which pretty much ignores all of that, and bases this year’s budget on last year’s— plus or minus a little bit here or there.

    We have a new idea, which is to make some of the health defense operations budget-cap exempt. That requires what’s called a bypass professional judgment, which means that the experts in an area are the ones who actually provide information on what is needed in that area. The health defense operations idea is really a new idea. We’re encouraged that we have support from a wide group, as well as bipartisan support in the House. And we’re just beginning conversations with the Senate.

    On why public health agencies must be allowed to act independently of the White House: It’s naive to say, “We should insulate public health from politics.” It doesn’t happen. All public health positions have a political component. But are there ways to avoid the kind of catastrophic malfunctioning that occurred over the past few months, and that is continuing to occur here in the United States. […] The problem is that there are lots of things that an administration can do to someone besides tell them to be quiet. They can cut their budget, for example.

    On why we need to make it easier to track people down in our healthcare system—without compromising their privacy. Fundamentally, it’s very hard to know who is who in our healthcare system. So if John Smith comes in with a COVID test that’s positive, and says he exposed eight people, it’s really hard to find him and other people. That is something that has to be addressed in a way that is entirely transparent to people and protects confidentiality and privacy, and doesn’t lead to people avoiding care if, for example, their immigration is status is not clear. We don’t have that, and it’s one of the fundamental problems in why we have trouble with infectious disease outbreaks.


    Per the last paragraph, even the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant nonsense has played a part when it comes to the out-of-control coronavirus pandemic in the USA.

  34. says

    DACA recipient in detention:

    Carlos Martinez was one of the first people in Arizona to get DACA back in 2012. He was literally a poster child for the program: In 2012 and again in 2015, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) brought a large poster board portrait of Martinez to the Senate floor to help illustrate the need to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from Republican efforts to kill it.

    Durbin argued that Martinez was the kind of Dreamer whose overachieving personality and talents contributed to this country and its economy. He told his fellow senators that though Martinez couldn’t afford a computer when he started college, he ended up graduating with a computer engineering degree and was named top Hispanic graduate of his class at the University of Arizona. He pointed out that Martinez went on to get a master’s and later worked for a major tech company in San Francisco. “Giving up on these Dreamers,” Durbin said, “is giving up on the future of this country.”

    But for the last 11 months, Martinez has been locked up in a for-profit immigration detention center in Arizona. He has lost his DACA status and fallen ill with COVID-19. And all of it happened because of a poorly thought-out decision to take a brief detour into Mexico—and an immigration justice system more interested in walls and hardliner rhetoric than in showing the slightest bit of mercy to people who have jumped through hoop after hoop to continue living in the only country they’ve ever called home. […]

    Martinez was one of the first to apply and receive the two-year work permit that provides protection from deportation. He met all the requirements for DACA back then and continued to meet them every two years when he renewed it. DACA eventually allowed him to get a job at IBM in San Francisco, but after a round of layoffs a few years ago he returned to his parents’ home in Tucson.

    Martinez renewed his DACA status in 2018, so it was still valid for another year while he hunted for a job, unsuccessfully, last summer. He told me he flew to California for multiple rounds of interviews for developer gigs at tech companies like Google, Pinterest, and Niantic, the creator of the Pokémon Go app. “I kept getting so close that I was definitely getting frustrated, plus I had the pressures every day thinking DACA might be eliminated,” he said. “Then I heard a couple recruiters say they don’t trust DACA because it may end tomorrow.”

    So in an impulsive moment on August 7, 2019, after getting yet another rejection from a potential employer, he decided he’d get out of Tucson for a while to visit his grandmother in Sonora. He was at the US-Mexico border within an hour. But as he drove into Mexico, he realized what he had done: In leaving the United States, he’d just forfeited the protections that went with his DACA status. He turned the car around and was back at the port of entry 45 minutes later, explaining to US Customs and Border agents what had happened. He showed them his DACA permit, hoping that’d be enough to be let in. Instead, he was taken into custody, classified as an “arriving alien,” and sent to the Eloy Detention Center. […]


    More at the link.

  35. blf says

    Follow-up to @35, One of the pipers who used to be in Celtica-Pipes Rock! (Jane Espie, “The Phantom Piper”, who left at the end of 2019) happens to be an NHS nurse in Scotland. She’s put together this tribute to her fellow NHS heroes, Highland Cathedral (video). This is a music video that perhaps work best if you actually watch it. Warning: Contains a bagpipe (a modern (1982) “traditional”-style tune played in a “traditional” style).
    (Found whilst browsing Celtica “Visiting Friends” 02: Jane Espie, the Phantom Piper (video).)

  36. says

    From Wonkette: “Here’s Eight Solid Minutes Of Lou Dobbs And Stephen Miller Talkin’ Weird White Nationalist Sh*t”

    We almost do not have words to describe how utterly weird this interview Lou Dobbs did with Trump White House white nationalism czar Stephen Miller is. […] this is eight solid minutes of just the weirdest pant-shitting racism we’ve seen from the Trump administration and its state media organ Fox News in at least a week […]

    Again, this is eight minutes of racism and white nationalism and all kinds of other vile things, but it is also just a good snapshot of how these people occupy a completely different reality from the rest of us, one that is actually not real.

    Video is available at the link.

    Dobbs started by congratulating Miller on “the MS-13 operation.” Gentle reader, did you know there was an “MS-13 operation”? Apparently there was. Maybe it’s legit and got some real bad guys. Maybe it’s Donald Trump’s evil henchmen at DOJ and ICE doing their usual fear-mongering race-baiting bullshit. IDEA: maybe it’s both. […]

    Miller said it was a “historic day” and referred to the gang members as “soulless barbarians,” because you can’t just fight violent crime. You have to call the people with brown skin “barbarians,” because how else will people remember to think of them as animals? […]

    Miller then explained who the real enemy is, and it is the liberal mayors and the radical left and the socialists:

    You have this president taking out criminal gangs and terrorists at record speed, and with record force and focus. And then you have the radical left, the liberal mayors, the crazy socialists unleashing violence and mayhem upon our cities. That’s the choice that every American faces: public safety under this president, or lawless mayhem under the radical left!

    Lou Dobbs nodded along like yes, that is the truth about how it is in America. The liberal mayors and the leftists are doing mayhem to you, but only Trump can keep the socialists from killing you. Ayup.

    Dobbs described how Portland is being “savaged by antifa and Black Lives Matter,” expressing alarm that they are not even taking one night per week off from their mayhem! Everybody else takes a day off. BUT NOT THESE DEVILS.

    Miller replied that there is a “silent majority” that will “clean house of these leftist mayors.” You know how big liberal cities like Portland and Minneapolis and New York, just full of secret “silent majority” white nationalists who totally live there. Also, do not worry, because Miller said Trump is going to announce a thing next week to “come to the rescue of these long-suffering citizens.” […]

    Miller said “moms and dads,” even in these liberal hellholes, totally support the police, and also too are totally scare-mongered about the MS-13s murdering their children all the time, so we guess they will probably be happy when Trump invades their cities. […]

    It just goes ON and ON and ON like this.

    Blah blah blah “Obama-Biden administration allowed MS-13 into our country” blah blah blah “unleashed these killers into our communities” blah blah blah “normal Americans” (Stephen Miller meant white nationalists like him) don’t like it when MS-13 murders all living (white) Americans at all times blah blah blah blah blah. […]

    Oh yes, and Dobbs would like to know why the Justice Department is not investigating Black Lives Matter. Miller did not have an announcement to make about that, but he assured Dobbs that the Trump administration is on the case, […]

    Dobbs ended the interview with this brain thought about Black Lives Matter:

    DOBBS: It’s interesting that they don’t put that in their motto, Marxist lives matter, as well. You would think a Marxist organization would, but there it is.
    […] Did we mention it was eight solid minutes of weird shit? It was eight solid minutes of weird shit.


  37. says

    Follow-up to comments 16, 17, 36, and 44.

    “U.S., Britain and Canada say Russian cyberspies are trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research.”

    Washington Post link

    […] Paul Chichester, director of operations at Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said the government-backed hackers launched “despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic.”

    The British urged organizations working on vaccines and antivirals “to defend their networks,” Chichester said in a statement.

    Britain’s cybersecurity agency, alongside the National Security Agency in the United States, said that a group named APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear,” has targeted British, American and Canadian vaccine research and development organizations. […]

    “APT29 has a long history of targeting governmental, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy organizations for intelligence gain so we encourage everyone to take this threat seriously and apply the mitigations issued in the advisory,” Anne Neuberger, cybersecurity director for the U.S. National Security Agency, said in a statement.

    It was highly likely that the group was trying to collect information on vaccine development or research on the virus itself, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
    The Russian spying is ongoing, with British, American and Canadian cyber experts working to defend laboratories and research data […]

    Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, the agency responsible for the country’s foreign signals intelligence, said in a statement that the attacks “serve to hinder response efforts at a time when health-care experts and medical researchers need every available resource to help fight the pandemic.” […]

    “We’ve seen some compromises in research organizations that we’ve been helping to mitigate,” […]

    In recent efforts targeting vaccine developers, the Russian hacker group scanned computer IP addresses owned by the organizations and then deployed malware to try to gain access, British officials said. In some cases, the hackers used custom malware known as “WellMess” and “WellMail” to conduct further operations on a victim’s system, they said. […]

    Russia is developing 26 vaccines, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Wednesday, but only two are undergoing clinical trials. A month-long trial on 38 people for one of the vaccines concluded this week, and Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, told reporters that a larger trial with several thousand people is expected to begin in August.

    “We will produce 30 million doses of the vaccine in Russia, or 50 million if necessary, which means that Russia may complete vaccinations early next year,” Dmitriev said.


    Despite their own efforts, the Russians are cheating, Western cyber sleuths say.

    “I have absolutely no doubt that if there was the slightest probability of stealing it, the Russians would do it,” said Jonathan Eyal, international director at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank.

    “Mr. Putin has not had a good pandemic,” Eyal said, “He has devolved the handling of it to regional governments to try and escape responsibility. He’s nowhere to be seen. The figures about the numbers who have died are clearly manipulated.”

    The Russian hackers in APT29 are well known to cyber experts. The group was one of the two Russian intelligence actors that hacked Democratic National Committee servers during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. […]

    “They quietly steal information from their targets, and if you are hit by this actor you may never know it,” said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis for the cybersecurity firm FireEye. “It’s not going to be some hack and leak or destructive operation. We’re talking about a quiet intelligence collection operation where Russia quietly leverages the research of others to advance their own.”

    […] Russia’s not alone,” Hultquist said. “This is an existential threat to almost every government on Earth, and for Russia, China and Iran, we can expect that tremendous resources have been diverted from other tasks to focus on stealing research.”

    U.S. officials say a desire for geopolitical influence is also driving nations’ actions.

    […] John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said earlier this year: “Whatever country’s or company’s research lab is first to produce that is going to have a significant geopolitical success story.”

    Last week, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said that “it’s not unusual” to see “cyber activity” traced to China soon after a pharmaceutical company or research institution makes an announcement about promising vaccine research. “It’s sometimes almost the next day,” he said. […]

  38. says

    Days after hospitals were told to stop sending information to CDC, all the fears appear justified

    Until this week, hospitals across the nation sent their data each day to the National Healthcare Safety Network. There had been some complaints about this network—mostly that it was unforgiving when it came to the data format and didn’t provide flexibility for capturing additional information. But that information fed dashboards at the CDC, which provided information not just on the number of confirmed cases and deaths, but on the rates of hospitalization and number of available beds. On Thursday morning, that site temporarily vanished. Then it returned, featuring data from … last week.

    The change in where and how hospitals report data, backed up by Donald Trump threatening to send the National Guard in to make them “do it right,” means that the CDC is now bypassed. Instead, the data is now going into a new system from HHS. And what’s coming out is significantly less information. Just a couple of days into the new program, experts at both the state and national level are finding that the change is doing exactly what many feared—making it more difficult to track the threat of COVID-19.

    As the Idaho Statesman reports, the switchover had an immediate effect on the ability of state officials to see what was going on in their own states, with the spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Health reporting “significant challenges” in their ability to monitor the number of hospitalizations. […] what comes out the other side is only what the White House chooses to make available.

    […] the alternative system, which is managed by private healthcare firm TeleTracking, is already resulting in delays and a lack of information that state officials called stunning and disappointing.

    Idaho is far from the only state complaining about this abrupt and unexpected change to the system in the middle of a public health crisis. Unlike the CDC data, the HHS database that is now taking in the information is not visible to the public. That means not just unavailable to the casual observer, but also to anyone who wants to research, provide projections of trends, or double-check information coming from leadership at the state or federal level. It also means that thousands of city and county health officials have lost their direct access to their own local data. […]

    HHS spokesman Michael Caputo issued a statement on Thursday saying that the CDC had been directed to “make the data available again.” At the time of publication, the CDC site was running again, but was showing only information last updated on Monday, meaning that any agencies or researchers depending on the information were already well out of date. The HHS statement also indicates that at some point, the new system will offer more opportunities for data display and analysis, but that ability doesn’t seem to be ready, and there’s no date given for when it will be ready. [Empty promises.]

    As The New York Times reported on Tuesday just before access to the CDC site was removed, health experts feared that COVID-19 data will be easily politicized, or withheld from the public, in a system where everything is invisible until the White House makes it visible. […]

  39. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current dipshites-in-charge live blog:

    White House: The science should not stand in the way of reopening schools

    Moments [c.20mins] ago, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s push to reopen schools, despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom.

    And when he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school, McEnany noted furing [sic (thank you, Grauniad!)] her White House briefing.

    The science should not stand in the way of this, McEnany said, adding moments later, The science is on our side here.


  40. tomh says

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
    Kemp’s office seeks to block Atlanta mask mandate in court
    Greg Bluestein

    The lawsuit also challenges city’s other coronavirus restrictions

    Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration went to court Thursday seeking to block Atlanta from enacting coronavirus restrictions and requiring residents to wear masks, setting up a legal showdown between the state and local governments over efforts to contain the disease.

    The state filed a lawsuit challenging Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ July 10 decision to revert to “phase one” guidelines that push restaurants to close dining rooms and urge residents to leave home only for essential trips. It also seeks to block the city’s new mask requirements.

    “This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp said in a statement. “These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth.”

    The legal complaint, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, came one day after Kemp signed a statewide order that explicitly bans cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates. Atlanta and a dozen other cities have adopted such requirements, defying an order from Kemp that encourages but not mandates them.

    More details at the link.

  41. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Had another poller call. I can’t figure out out if the state rethugs are looking for something on Gov. Pritzger, or he’s worried about his support. No personal questions beyond the usual vague demographics.

  42. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment #9.

    “The President Is Shilling Beans,” by Masha Gessen

    The President and his daughter Ivanka have been using their social-media accounts to advertise canned beans. On Twitter, she posed with a can of Goya black beans in her right hand, her left hand held as though cradling an imaginary cloud beneath the product. On Instagram, he sat at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, stars, stripes, and gold velvet curtains behind him, and Goya products arrayed in front of him. He held both thumbs up. In between attacking Joe Biden and the Times and touting his success at fighting the MS-13 gang, Trump tweeted, “.@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT. The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!” The First Family is fighting back against calls for a boycott of Goya after the company’s C.E.O., Robert Unanue, praised the President during a White House event last week.

    “This one’s got everything: the Trump family, using official office to promote a private business, rewarding political allies with business help from the White House,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, tweeted. “So much corruption in one post, and likely a violation of ethics rules.” (According to the Department of Justice, “An employee’s position or title should not be used to coerce; to endorse any product, service or enterprise; or to give the appearance of governmental sanction.”) But corruption may not be the best term to describe this spectacle. The word implies something illicit, hidden from the public; the remedy for “corruption,” in political discourse, is usually “transparency.” The Trumps are, without a doubt, corrupting the Presidency in the sense that they are changing it beyond recognition, but they are doing it in plain view.

    On the face of it, the shilling for beans is trolling. Like Trump’s lies, it’s a demonstration of power—he is saying, in effect, No matter how absurd, how blatantly false, how clearly spiteful and meaningless my statement or picture or post might be, you have no choice but to engage with it, because I am the President. Here, he wins every time: we do engage with his latest outrage, because ignoring it is the worse option. […]

    When I’m at a loss for words to describe our political reality, I look to the work of Bálint Magyar. He is the Hungarian sociologist who has pioneered and systematized a language that political science can use to describe contemporary demagogues and the regimes they create. More than a decade ago, he described the Mafia state, a distinct political system built around a patron who distributes money and power. A year and a half ago, he told me that Trump acts “like a Mafia boss without a Mafia”: he couldn’t turn the United States into a Mafia state, but he was acting as though he could.

    Since then, the U.S. has devolved in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and Magyar has continued his research on post-Communist autocracies, which, in turn, continue to offer ways to examine the American Presidency. Magyar’s new book, co-authored with Bálint Madlovics, is “The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes: A Conceptual Framework.” […] Magyar and Madlovics write that the problem with measurements used by, say, Transparency International, which produces an annual index of perceived corruption, is that the index assumes that corruption represents a departure from a norm […] This view of corruption fails when confronted with a government to which corruption is central, or in which corruption is not voluntary but coercive—where the corrupt relationship is forced by one partner upon the other. In other words, conventional measures of corruption are not applicable to the U.S. under Trump. Corruption is no longer deviant in this country: it is instead the defining characteristic of this Presidency.

    […] people in charge instrumentalize the apparatus of the state for their own gain. This kind of state capture leads to a “criminal state pattern,” where corrupt relationships imposed from the top become permanent and unavoidable.

    The term “criminal state pattern” is extraordinary even to contemplate at this moment, when, in the wake of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, our society is questioning established notions of crime, criminality, and their opposite: the police. On the day of Trump’s Instagram post, the Times published a compilation of videos of New York City police attacking protesters, the agents of the state menacing and beating people for exercising their political rights. Such incidents have been documented all over the country, in keeping with the rhetoric and behavior of the head of state.

    The President and the First Daughter hawking the canned beans of one of their supporters while police attack protesters in the streets and a preventable pandemic rages unchecked through vast swathes of the population is what a criminal state looks like. It’s cruel, ridiculous, disgusting. And the President gives it two thumbs up.

    New Yorker link

  43. says

    Speaking of books by Trump family members: “Trump Jr. gets dragged for self-published book that includes glaring error on the cover.”

    There are a few things that equal the mediocrity and base idiocy of Donald Trump. Their names are Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and Jared. But, the greasy, sweaty, desperate nature of Donald Trump Jr. has a special patina of existential impotency that is hard to ignore. It’s hard to ignore, in part, because not unlike his father, Junior speaks at a loud blunt volume of dumb about 100% of the time.

    Donald Trump Jr.’s newest idea is to self-publish a new book. But this time, it isn’t just about how liberals are being triggered all the time by the pure corruption of the conservative megalomaniac money machine. This time, in another sad attempt to receive the love his father is unable to feel for anything, Trump Jr. will spend however many pages it takes to try and make some money before the Republican National Convention in August. Unfortunately, the Trump family crest includes a guy wearing a dunce cap and cutting corners, and Junior’s announcement needed some copy editing.

    “Thrilled to announce that during the last few months of quarantine, I’ve been working on a new book, LIBERAL PRIVILEGE! Blown away by what Biden has gotten away with, more details next week! Libs already triggered! #LiberalPrivilege” Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter this past Saturday. He also provided a hellfire-inspired cover design [See the link for an image.]

    As The Guardian points out, the subtitle “Joe Biden and the Democrat’s Defense of the Indefensible,” has a misplaced apostrophe among other problems. Of course, because Junior is such a clever boy, he even name-checked his fabricated New York Times best seller Triggered. The one that was propelled into the category of “best seller” by the generous purchases of thousands of books by the Republican National Committee.

    The book will be another “collaboration* with Trump Victory finance Committee Chief of Staff Sergio Gor. Junior told Axios that the audio book will be read by his girlfriend and former Fox News TV personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, who he explained helped him with the book. “That’s how we came up with the idea for her to do the audio book. We would take turns reading the chapters out loud for flow. … Love in a time of COVID.” I’ll give you a moment to gargle with 100 proof alcohol or whatever you need to get that vomit taste out of your mouth.

    Trump Jr.’s move away from traditional publishing comes after he complained that he didn’t receive the kind of support from bookstores that he deserved. Instead he got that “support” when the RNC bought about $100,000 in books. What will the book cover? It will likely be filled with the misinformation being continuously peddled by Trump and others: conspiracy theories on how the deep state is trying to oust Trump from the White House. [See the link for twitter responses].


    From Mike Dorsey:

    A New Yorker who was born rich wants to lecture folks about “privilege”

    Guardian link.

    Donald Trump Jr appears to have forgotten one of the cardinal rules of the apostrophe: it comes after the “s” when the possessive noun is plural. […]

  44. says

    Follow-up to comment 57.

    Maybe Donald Trump Junior really meant to refer to only one Democrat in the text on his book’s cover?

    I kind of like that idea. I don’t feel “triggered” by his book. Maybe other liberals are also not triggered? Maybe he could only find one? One Democrat to justify this on the cover: “The Democrat’s Defense of the Indefensible.”

  45. says

    Everything is going great! Florida’s emergency operations center closes due to coronavirus cases.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been doing his darnedest to pretend that he and his liege lord, Donald Trump, haven’t completely botched the handling of the American public’s health during the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Since the ill-advised reopening of Florida, COVID-19 cases have very predictably surged, and sadly seem to have spread out of control. At the same time, Gov. DeSantis has alternately attempted to blame migrant workers for the spread, while also working to make sure the true nature of the spread is being underreported.

    The last couple of weeks have been a steady stream of record-breaking COVID case days across the country, and Florida has been leading these morbid stories the entire time. Now, the Washington Post reports that on Thursday, the Sunshine State’s emergency operations center has been shut down due to a “new set of cases.” The emergency center in question is located in Tallahassee. And while Florida officials have predictably not given any numbers in their statements about this closure, the Post says that sources tell them at least 13 people at the center tested positive for the virus. […]

    While all of this is happening, Gov. DeSantis has successfully gotten Trump to bring the Republican National Convention to his state, along with other—wealthy and better tested—professional sports leagues. And yet, like Sweden, the only positives that can come out of their business first, science last approach, is exposing how craven and deadly bad leadership can be. […]

    This tweet reply to the state’s Division of Emergency Management statement sort of sums it up nicely […]

    See the Twitter link below for the image-dominated reply.


  46. says

    ABC – “Utah public hearing on schools dismissed after angry parents pack room without masks”:

    Tensions flared at a public hearing in Utah over the state’s mask mandate for schoolchildren after several parents defied orders by packing the room without face coverings.

    The parents, some of whom carried signs condemning face masks, failed to sit in the marked seats and booed at the Utah County officials Wednesday night. The hearing was held over a letter by Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, which asked Gov. Gary Herbert to waive his requirement kindergarten to 12th grade students wear a mask when schools reopen.

    Utah County Commissioner Tanner Ainge has opposed the letter citing safety for the students and admonished the crowd for blatantly putting everyone in the hearing room at risk by not wearing masks or socially distancing.

    “This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing,” Ainge told the crowd before he was booed.

    The hearing, held in Provo, Utah, was postponed by a 2-1 vote, which triggered more boos and angry calls from the mask mandate’s opponents.

    Utah has seen a jump in coronavirus cases over the last few weeks, with 21,639 new cases reported since June 1, according to the state’s health department. The state saw an average of 481 cases a day during that period, with some days seeing a record number of new cases. On July 9, 868 Utah residents contracted COVID-19, according to the health department.

    As of July 16, there have been 234 deaths in the state due to the virus, the health department said.

    Despite the rise in cases, some parents questioned the need for masks for their kids.

    “I think it’s totally wrong. I think it’s a political hoax, and I am against masks,” Denna Robertson told Salt Lake City ABC affiliate KTVX….

    I’m speechless. The quotes and video are like something out of a nightmarishly real version of the Onion.

  47. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC: “On one hand, in his pathologically distorted sense of things, “winning” through cheating and lies is as satisfying as (if not more satisfying than) a genuine accomplishment. ”

    Oh, I’m sure he takes more joy in cheating to win that he would in an earned win, but the really amazing thing is that even with all the cheating, he still doesn’t win. He just doesn’t pay the penalty/consequences for losing. He could have taken the money he inherited from Fred Trump and made more by investing in an index fund. He actually bankrupted his casinos. Yes! Casinos! The only reason he didn’t lose everything is because his bankers decided to try to trade on his name to recoup some of their losses.
    He has 3 failed marriages. Every one of his children is a joke. You can’t even say what his golf handicap is, because he’s never played a round without cheating. He’s like Midas, except that everything he touches turns to shit. He may well be the most pathetic man to ever walk the planet. I’d feel sorry for him if he weren’t wrecking my country!

  48. Saad says

    SC, #60

    This widespread mentality in this country is sickening. I almost can’t believe it’s real. I wonder if the country can recover from this.

  49. says

    Guardian – “Pompeo claims private property and religious freedom are ‘foremost’ human rights”:

    Mike Pompeo has sought to redefine the US approach to human rights by giving preference to private property and religious freedom as the foremost “unalienable rights” laid down by America’s Founding Fathers.

    Pompeo, launching a draft report by a Commission on Unalienable Rights he established a year ago, also claimed that a proliferation of human rights asserted by different US and international institutions had the effect of diluting those rights he viewed as the most important.

    “Many are worth defending in light of our founding; others aren’t,” Pompeo said at a launch ceremony in Philadelphia. He did not specify which rights he thought were superfluous, but the state department during his tenure has been aggressive in opposing references to reproductive and gender rights in UN and other multilateral documents.

    In the report launched on Thursday, the authors – a mix of academics and activists – said they could not agree on the application of human rights standards to issues like “abortion, affirmative action, and capital punishment, to name a few”.

    The state department presentation was quickly criticised by human rights activists for seeking to establish a hierarchy of human rights, in which some were more important than others, and for presenting human rights advocacy as distinctively American.

    The Trump administration’s own human rights record has come under scrutiny for its policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and holding them in cages and its response to nationwide protests driven by anger over police treatment of black Americans. Donald Trump has also sought to intimidate journalists, frequently referring to the press “the enemy of the people”.

    Pompeo did not mention freedom of the press in his remarks, but he repeatedly attacked the New York Times, accusing it of purveying Marxist ideology. The secretary of state has been rebuked by human rights groups for his selectivity in applying norms.

    He has for example, been a staunch supporter of the Saudi monarchy, in the face of evidence of atrocities from its war in Yemen, its use of torture and the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The commission report refers to Saudi Arabia as a “flagrant human rights abuser”.

    Pompeo, who is widely believed to harbour ambitions to run as a religious conservative candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, infused Thursday’s launch event with a heavily religious tone, beginning with an invocation by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

    “America is fundamentally good, and has much to offer the world, because our founders recognized the existence of God-given unalienable rights, and designed a durable system to protect them,” Pompeo said in his own remarks.

    “As the report emphasises, foremost among these rights are property rights and religious liberty. No one can enjoy ‘the pursuit of happiness’ if you can’t own the fruits of your labor! And no society can retain its legitimacy – or a virtuous character – without religious freedom. Our founders knew faith was also essential to nurture the private virtue of our citizens.”

    Pompeo acknowledged historical US failings, including slavery and the dispossession of Native Americans, but he argued that those wrongs had been remedied and was scornful of those who argued that they represented enduring flaws….

  50. says

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

    From there:

    Covid-19 cases in the France’s Brittany region, which is popular with tourists, have risen sharply in less than a week, according to government data. This is the latest indication that the virus is again gaining momentum in France.

    According to data released on today, the disease’s reproduction rate, known as the R0, in Brittany had risen from 0.92 to 2.62 between July 10 and July 14, Reuters reports. The number is one of several indicators authorities are watching when deciding on whether to reimpose tougher restrictions after ending the country’s lockdown in May.

    A reproduction rate of 2.62 means that each Covid-19 infected person is, on average, passing the disease on to between two and three other people. A rate of less than one is needed to gradually contain the disease.

    The government on Thursday accelerated plans to make it compulsory to wear face masks in enclosed public spaces amid concerns about renewed spikes of Covid-19, especially in areas in western and southern France that had been relatively spared during the height of the outbreak between March and May.

    (I’m with blf – I don’t understand what plans or preparations are required to make masks mandatory.)

    As the headline notes, the US had more than 77,000 new cases recorded yesterday.

  51. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    With protests growing, economically punishing restrictions reimposed and surging coronavirus cases in Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s poll numbers are sinking.

    After a late-night cabinet meeting, the government on Friday announced that stores, markets and various other public spaces would be closed on weekends. It said restaurants would be limited to takeaway services through the week, with a later statement specifying the measure would start from Tuesday.

    Netanyahu’s office said the premier wanted to avoid another “general lockdown” – a move that would likely infuriate a public battered by the pandemic.

    But it is clear that coronavirus stumbles by Netanyahu, a right-winger, have dented his support.

    A poll this week by Channel 13 found that 61% of voters were “displeased” by his handling of the crisis. That marks a stark reversal for Netanyahu, whose response early in the outbreak won praise.

    After his government curbed flights and imposed lockdown measures in March, Israel briefly reduced its daily tally of newly confirmed cases to the single digits in early May, but in recent weeks new cases have regularly topped 1,000 per day.

    According to the Israel Democracy Institute think tank, 57.5% of the public supported Netanyahu’s coronavirus management at the beginning of April. As of July 12, that number had fallen to 29.5%.

    Ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, whose support has been essential to keeping Netanyahu in power, have voiced frustration over the looming threat of renewed synagogue closures.

    Netanyahu met with ultra-Orthodox party leaders this week and said he wanted to ease their “distress,” while pledging to hold consultations before imposing any closures.

  52. says

    Jay Bookman, Georgia Recorder:

    According to a document compiled for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, but withheld from the public, Georgia is one of 18 states in the “red zone” for high caseload growth, and one of 12 in the “red zone” for high positive test results.

    “Disease trends are moving in the wrong direction in Georgia with record numbers of new cases in urban, suburban and rural areas,” the report warns. GA had 202 new cases for 100,000 population last week, compared to the nationwide average of 119 per 100K population.

    The hardest hit counties are Gwinnett, DeKalb & Fulton, which together account for 25.9% of new cases statewide. (Some local officials have tried to respond to that crisis by imposing mask orders and other public-health measures, but Gov. Kemp is fighting hard to stop them.)

    Among the report’s suggestions for GA:

    – “Allow local jurisdictions to implement more restrictive policies”
    – “Mandate statewide wearing of cloth face coverings outside the home”
    – In counties with high positive rates, “close bars, restrict social distancing [?] in restaurants”

    According to the leaked report, deaths in GA were up 65% over the previous week, positive tests were up 20.6%, total tests reported were DOWN 3.3%. So these numbers are not the result of more testing. It also lists specific communities at heightened risk.

    Those communities at heightened risk include Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah and Athens-Clarke County, all jurisdictions that have attempted to implement steps advised in the White House report but have been blocked by doing so by Gov. Kemp.

    In Kemp’s defense, he probably has not had the benefit of seeing these recommendations, which again were delivered to the White House Task Force but not made available to those who could actually make use of them. Yet somehow I don’t think it would matter to Kemp.

    By not releasing this report & similar documents, the Trump WH actively deceives the American people about how best to protect themselves and about the actions that they should be demanding of their public officials. That is not by accident. It is, apparently, the plan.

  53. stroppy says

    Saad @ 62

    Good question. Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s hard as hell to put back in. Another crisis or two like C-19 before we right ourselves and we’re pretty much done for, imo.

    Courage friends.

  54. says

    MSNBC is reporting that the Pentagon has banned the Confederate flag at military installations. (They created a list of flags that can be displayed which doesn’t include it, so as not to anger Trump, who’s from Queens, by singling it out.)

  55. tomh says

    Jamaal Bowman ousts longtime Rep. Eliot Engel in New York Democratic primary
    John Wagner
    July 17, 2020

    Finally official.

    Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal, has ousted longtime Rep. Eliot L. Engel in a closely watched Democratic congressional primary in New York that shaped up as a generational and ideological contest.

    It was a victory for the left-wing of the party over a powerful 16-term Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and had the endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D)…

    It didn’t help Engel that, at a Bronx news conference on protests over the killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, he was heard on a live mic saying, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”

  56. says

    Oregon governor Kate Brown:

    This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.

    I told Acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets. His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.

    This, coming from the same President who used tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters in Washington, DC to engineer a photo opportunity.

    Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa.

    This is the new caravan.

  57. says

    New Biden ad:

    From day one, Donald Trump has been focused on the stock market and delivering for his wealthy friends and big corporations.

    As president, I will be laser-focused on working families and small businesses.

    Video atl. Also, this meme can still make me laugh.

  58. Saad says

    SC, #76

    Seriously, under what authority is this acting clown occupying a US city and kidnapping people against the express instructions of local and state officials?

    Maybe future generations will actually established clearly stated actionable unignorable legal consequences in place for such people. Turns out just repeating feel-good platitudes to each other about being a country of the people, by the people, for the people, and checks and balances, blah blah blah isn’t sufficient.

  59. blf says

    @57/@58, On the possessive apostrophe on junior’s book, recall that teh thugs think the dummie party’s name is The Democrat Party. Hence, for someone as stoopid as junior, the possessive would indeed be as he managed to spell it.

    I speculate the thug’s use of the incorrect name is a mixture of malice, indifference, teh stoopid, laziness (not bothering to fact-check), and an analogy with their own name, The Republican Party, who members are thugs, er, Republicans. Since the dummie’s members are Democrats, ergo, it follows, by analogy, the party’s name is The Democrat Party.

  60. blf says

    A rat that’s plopped overboard, ‘The guy stinks and he’s a racist’: Anthony Scaramucci on Donald Trump. I tempted to use eejit quotes for Scaramucci’s quoted comments as he’s a self-serving liar, but, in perhaps a bit of confirmation of my own opinions, am refraining from doing so for the stuff which is known true or (widely?-)presumed to be likely:

    [… During his 11 days] in the west wing, Scaramucci observed up close the most powerful man in the world. “My observation was, OK, he’s not listening, and good leadership requires delegation and listening, and he’s too defensive and too insecure to actually take in input,” he says.

    “I found that when I was briefing him, I had to put pictures of him in the briefing. When I put the pictures in, it was a good sign, and when I didn’t put the pictures in, you couldn’t get him to focus on it.

    “Here’s the bad news, though. Even if you got him to focus on it, he wouldn’t listen to you anyway because he’s so maniacally narcissistic. He wants to immobilise everybody around him and then he wants to go on and win the presidency anyway on this nihilistic rampage and show everybody, See, I wiped out all of you with napalm and I didn’t need any of you. That’s full blown narcissism.”


    “[Hair furor]’s doing things every single day that is literally forcibly unravelling his political career and that is the hidden secret, the underbelly of a narcissist. They have a very full blown self-destructive streak in their personalities. He’s got his hand on the self detonator now.”

    It is unclear if by “pictures” teh rat means illustrations (images), or just a very quick “description” (e.g., antifi mobs roam the streets and attack cops). I tend to assume illustrations is meant.

    Lots more at the link if you can stomach teh rat.

  61. says

    Video of Mary Trump confirming that she heard Trump using racial slurs, including the N-word: Link

    Casual anti-semitism was also confirmed.

  62. says

    As countries ban US travelers, Team Trump argues against int’l travel

    As much of the world closes its doors to Americans, the Trump campaign’s position, in effect, is that international travel isn’t so great.

    As coronavirus infection rates climb in the United States, members of the European Union have decided to block American travelers from their countries. Our allies in the U.K. aren’t eager to see us, either.

    Closer to home, the U.S./Canada border is still closed to travelers, though Politico reported this week that many U.S. lawmakers are pressuring Ottawa and D.C. to ease restrictions. The trouble is, few Canadians want to welcome their American neighbors any time soon.

    Canadians — and some of their most prominent political leaders — are staunchly opposed to hosting American visitors while the U.S. breaks records on confirmed Covid-19 infections on a daily basis. Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned weeks ago against reopening the border, and British Columbia health authorities have released data showing that a large share of the virus strains identified there originated in Washington state. Polling released last week by Abacus Data shows that 89 percent of Canadians want to see the border stay closed longer.

    […] Donald Trump’s campaign team has come up with a new spin to make this less embarrassing.

    Border restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States were officially extended until Aug. 21 this week amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But a spokesperson for […] Trump’s campaign says he can’t imagine why Americans would want to come to Canada anyway.

    CNN’s Brianna Keilar reminded Trump campaign press secretary Hogan Gidley that Canada won’t let Americans in due to coronavirus fears. Gidley reportedly replied, “I’m not sure why you would want to go to Canada when we live in the greatest country on the face of the planet, that’s Donald Trump’s mentality on it.”

    The comment led the host to reply, “Well, if you want to get away from coronavirus you might.”

    So to recap, as much of the world closes its doors to Americans, the Trump campaign’s position, in effect, is that international travel isn’t so great. It’s a reflection of the president’s “mentality.”

  63. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current eejits-running-amok live blog:

    Trump weighs executive order banning undocumented people from being counted in census

    The Trump administration is weighing issuing an executive order that would ban undocumented people from being counted in the census […].

    Such a move, if executed, would be unprecedented and have severe lasting consequences. The US constitution mandates that the government count all “persons” every 10 years, regardless of their immigration status.

    […] Not counting undocumented persons in the census would put areas where they live a severe disadvantage when it comes to funding and representation.

    It’s unclear how exactly the Trump administration could actually exclude undocumented people from the census. None of the 10 questions on the decennial survey, which goes out to every household, asks about citizenship status. The Trump administration had previously attempted to add a question asking about citizenship to the census, but the US supreme court blocked the question last year.

    After the supreme court’s decision, Trump issued an executive order instructing the Census Bureau to use existing records from other federal agencies to try and determine citizenship status. Four states have also agreed to provide the Bureau with driver’s license records.

  64. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    Democratic officials continue to scale back plans for their upcoming national nominating convention, with party leaders telling members of Congress yesterday they should not plan to travel to Milwaukee for the 2020 gathering.

    Rep. Justin Amash confirmed overnight that he will not seek re-election in Michigan. The Michigan lawmaker, a former Republican, is currently the only self-identified independent in the U.S. House.

    Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), facing a tough re-election fight this year, is facing a new round of criticism this week after suggesting “the Hispanic population” is being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic because Hispanic Americans have shown “less consistent adherence to social distancing and wearing a mask.”

    Gallup’s latest national survey points to a “dramatic” shift in Americans’ party preferences, with support for Democrats climbing and support for Republicans sliding since the start of the year.

    New York held its primaries on June 23, and more than three weeks later, may races are still unresolved. Election officials are pointing to the unusually large number of absentee ballots, which take longer to count.

    That said, according to the Associated Press, Jamaal Bowman has, in fact, defeated House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel in New York’s 16th congressional district. [As tomh already noted up-thread.]

    […] in the wake of Donald Trump demoting Brad Parscale as his 2020 campaign manager, the Trump campaign insisted yesterday that Parscale wasn’t actually demoted, reality notwithstanding.

  65. blf says

    Also from the Grauniad’s current blathering eejits live blog:

    Well, that’s a new one: the Trump campaign now says the lack of boat parades in support of Joe Biden indicate low levels of enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate, who is leading by double digits in a series of national polls released this week.


    The president’s [sic] reelection campaign said in a new press release, President Trump is beating Biden on the most important factor in this campaign: enthusiasm.

    Whether it’s the President’s [sic] historic primary voter turnout, his record-setting boat parades, or the thousands of people who turn out to see the President [sic] speak, it’s clear President [sic] Trump’s voters will run through a brick wall to vote for him.

    Ain’t nobody running through a brick wall to vote for Joe Biden — and he certainly won’t be having a boat parade any time soon.

    The president [sic] and some of his allies have gushed over recent pro-Trump boat parades across the country, a few of which have attracted thousands of participants.


    The press release quickly attracted mockery, with the anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project sarcastically saying, “How will Biden recover from this.”

    Terrible puns — and giggle-worthy images — at the embedded twittering link.

  66. says

    Kellyanne Conway acknowledges, spins Trump’s drop in polls

    To hear Conway tell it, Trump’s polls “were much higher” when he did daily coronavirus briefings. I’m not sure she’s fully thought this one through.

    The official line from the White House is that Donald Trump’s public standing is fine, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany touted his public support during yesterday’s briefing, and the president himself tweeted a day earlier that his campaign’s “poll numbers are rising fast.”

    Today, however, Kellyanne Conway took the extraordinary step of acknowledging Trump’s slumping polls — though the former Republican pollster was eager to put a spin on the numbers.

    White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Friday advocated for President Trump to resume giving regular coronavirus briefings as approval of his handling of the pandemic sinks in public polls.

    Asked on Fox News why most Americans oppose Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, Conway replied, “The president’s numbers were much higher when he was out there briefing everybody on a day-by-day basis about the coronavirus, just giving people the information.”

    […] In case anyone’s forgotten, the president’s daily coronavirus briefings were an unmitigated disaster. Trump was seen repeatedly lying, struggling with basic questions, contradicting members of his own team, and at one point, suggesting disinfectant injections might be an effective treatment.

    By early April, even many Republicans were begging the White House to end these cringe-worthy daily events. Trump was eventually convinced that he was doing far more harm than good to his own standing, so he curtailed the briefings.

    […] the better explanation for Trump’s woeful public standing is that he’s failing spectacularly to respond to a deadly public-health crisis.

  67. says

    Members of Team Trump act as if ethics rules don’t apply to them

    It’s not that Team Trump is ignorant about ethical limits; the trouble is, Trump and his team simply don’t care.

    Federal ethics laws are not ambiguous when it comes to White House officials: they can’t use their position “to endorse any product, service or enterprise.” Ivanka Trump nevertheless endorsed Goya Foods this week, because its CEO faced pushback after praising her father.

    When the presidential daughter faced criticism for effectively doing an advertisement for a private company, Donald Trump went a little further, releasing a photo of himself endorsing Goya with several of its products arrayed on the Resolute Desk.

    […] Andrea Mitchell noted this week that during her career, she’s covered seven presidents, but she’s “never seen” a sitting president “use the Rose Garden or any White House platform to launch a political attack against his opponent for reelection.”

    Donald Trump, Mitchell added, has demonstrated a willingness to hold “a campaign rally barely disguised as a faux news conference” at the presidential mansion. […]

    [W]hile every incumbent in some way blurs that line between the official and the political, Trump stands apart from his predecessors in that, his aides say, he doesn’t even see a line.

    Trevor Potter, a Republican and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission who is now the president of the Campaign Legal Center, talked to the New York Times about these changing standards.

    “Every White House I have known until this one — of both parties — has rigorously worked to separate campaign activity and official business,” Potter said, adding, “Traditionally, the White House counsel’s office has policed campaign activity to keep it off the White House grounds and out of official events. What we are seeing now is a complete overturning of these ethical and legal norms.” […]

    Ethical limits are supposed to prevent White House officials from doing advertisements, but Trump and his team don’t care.

    Ethical limits are supposed to prevent White House officials from using the Rose Garden as a prop for campaign rallies, but Trump and his team don’t care.

    […] unethical behavior is fine, just so long as it’s not literally criminal behavior that could lead to someone’s arrest.

    This helps capture the mindset of a White House team that’s convinced itself that it can play by its own set of rules. Ethical limits are intended for others, the argument goes, not for [Trump] and his allies.

  68. says

    Trump fails to follow through on minimum wage

    Pressed on the minimum wage, Trump promised a statement within two weeks. That was 17 days ago. We’re still waiting.

    Just six months into Donald Trump’s presidency, Bloomberg News made a terrific observation: the Republican had an unnerving habit of responding to every difficult question by saying the answer was “two weeks” away. […]

    On July 1, Trump was interviewed by the Fox Business Network, which asked the president whether he supports or opposes minimum-wage increases taking effect in several cities and states. Trump replied: “I’m going to have a statement on minimum wage. I feel differently than lot of people on minimum wage, some people in my own party. But I will have a statement over the next two weeks on minimum wage.”

    Asked about the nature of this upcoming statement, the president added, “Well, I think I’m going to have a very positive statement on minimum wage.”

    […] The idea that Trump “feels differently” about minimum-wage increases was a deception he was eager to peddle as a candidate in 2016, apparently because he realized that minimum-wage increases are popular with the American mainstream.

    It was, however, a sham — as evidenced by the Trump White House’s ongoing opposition to increasing the existing federal minimum. […]

    Well, it’s now been 17 days, and that mysterious “very positive statement on minimum wage” that Trump “thought” he’d have never materialized — which surprised no one, since he was obviously just trying to dodge the question.

    This has been a go-to move since Inauguration Day 2017, and it’ll continue until Trump leaves office.

  69. says

    About Trump’s sudden, repetitive expressions of interest in the suburbs:

    […] All of a sudden, Trump is preoccupied with suburbs and their pending doom. On Tuesday, for example, during a campaign event in the White House Rose Garden, [Trump] said Democrats are “going to abolish the suburbs.”

    Yesterday, he went a little further.

    “Joe Biden and his bosses from the radical left want to significantly multiply what they’re doing now. And what will be the end result is you will totally destroy the beautiful suburbs. Suburbia will be no longer as we know it. […]”

    He added, “Our plan is to protect the suburbs from being obliterated by Washington Democrats, by people on the far Left that want to see the suburbs destroyed — that don’t care. People who have worked all their lives to get into a community and now they’re going to watch it go to hell.”

    Trump has echoed the sentiment with tweets this week.

    […] after barely ever uttering the word for most of his presidency, Trump was almost certainly told that polls show him hemorrhaging support from voters in suburbs. It coincided with the president’s belief that a message based on racial grievances and racial animus will help give his struggling campaign a boost.

    And so, Trump is tying the two threads together. NBC News’ Jonathan Allen explained yesterday, “[…] Trump says Joe Biden wants to ‘abolish the suburbs.’ But what he appears to mean is that Biden wants to stop suburban segregation…. Watching Trump talk about the issue is like playing a documentary on the civil rights movement in reverse slow motion.

    […] At issue is a policy called the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule (AFFH), which is designed to help implement provisions of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. As a Washington Post fact-check piece explained this week:

    The rule, which was finalized in July 2015 and been in limbo since Obama left office, is designed to push “meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics.” Put simply, it was designed to help state and local officials provide better access to opportunity, following the original 1968 guideline.

    […] a federal rule designed to counter segregation in housing.

    […] the Justice Department accused Trump of violating the Fair Housing Act several decades ago as part of the future president’s discriminatory practices against African-American renters.

    Nearly a half-century later, Trump’s views on discrimination in housing are every bit as offensive.


  70. says

    Federal court orders Trump admin to accept new DACA applications following Supreme Court ruling

    A federal court has ordered the Trump administration to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision last month on DACA and fully reopen the program to new applicants. The court’s ruling finding the administration had illegally ended the program was certified on Monday, yet U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had yet to announce anything about accepting new applications, meaning officials were defying the court’s order. […]

    USCIS must now accept new applications following the Maryland order, attorneys said on Twitter. “Administration will be accepting new #DACA applications!” attorney Amy Maldonado tweeted. “New court order makes mandate explicit,” tweeted immigration reporter Alisa Zaira Reznick. So USCIS, fully reopen the program to potentially hundreds of thousands of new applicants now. That’s not an ask, that’s an order.

    Good news.

  71. says

    Follow-up to comment 50, 65, and 77.

    What Donald Trump is doing in Portland is just as big a threat to America as COVID-19

    […] Trump went deep into Nixonian demands for “law and order.” Only what Trump means by that isn’t really law, it’s force. And it’s not really order, it’s fear.

    What’s now happening in Portland, Oregon, is a deployment of that strategy. Unidentified men in camouflage uniforms on are on the ground in Portland over the express orders of both the governor and the mayor. And they are taking people off the streets for simply being protesters, no crime required. They aren’t arresting people, because these aren’t really police. This is military rendition. Or even more accurately: extrajudicial kidnapping. It’s happening repeatedly in an American city, and it’s barely bringing notice. Pay attention to Portland: What’s going on is a trial run for what Trump is bringing to the rest of the nation.

    This isn’t the first version of Trump’s nameless, badgeless, not-so-secret police. Trump did a test run in Washington D.C. […] There was absolutely no justification in deploying these people, and absolutely no chain of command. They reported to Barr and Trump, local officials be damned.

    […] As The Washington Post reports, a flood of “men in green military fatigues” and driving unmarked vehicles, many of them apparently rental cars, have appeared in areas of Portland. This time, instead of the Bureau of Prisons, the source of the unbadged “police” appears to be the […] Department of Homeland Security—in other words border patrol. None of them are trained either in dealing with protests or even ordinary law enforcement. […] holding [protestors] without access to an attorney. They’re behaving as if they are beyond all laws, because, thanks to the backing of Trump and Barr, they absolutely are. That includes laws in Oregon that don’t allow the use of tear gas against protesters—Trump’s un-secret police are using it anyway.

    As Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, following a night of peaceful protest in which there were no clashes with police, “people in camouflage were driving around the area in unmarked minivans grabbing people off the street.” […]

    There’s a name for that action. It’s called kidnapping, and it’s a federal crime. Except that these are sanctioned federal criminals.

    […] acting DHS Security Secretary Chad Wolf made it clear that the federal government was acting not just without the knowledge of state and local officials, but over their express opposition. “Earlier this week, I called not only the mayor but the governor,” said Wolf. “I offered DHS support to help them locally address the situation that’s going on in Portland. And their only response was, ‘Please pack up and go home.’”

    […] this is not a law enforcement action—it’s a campaign strategy. […] Fox and right-wing media are exaggerating the situation in Portland to a degree that makes it unrecognizable to anyone on the ground. On Fox, Portland is “a city under siege” by a collection of rampaging radical forces including, of course, antifa. It’s a city that has “descended into chaos,” and can only be saved by Trump sending in federal forces to bash heads and … that’s just. Just bash. The presence of Trump’s forces in Portland has increased tension and violence. By design.

    […] Trump spoke about his plans to expand this scheme. In words that directly supported those of Wolf, Trump made it clear that just because people elected a mayor or a governor, doesn’t mean he has to respect their choice.

    “The left-wing group of people running our cities are not doing the job they’re supposed to be doing,” said Trump. […] Trump made it clear he intends on “sending people in to clean it up” in other cities. […]

    […] Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan declared that all the protesters were criminals […] “I don’t want to get ahead of the president and his announcement,” said Morgan, “but the Department of Justice is going to be involved in this, DHS is going to be involved in this; and we’re really going to take a stand across the board. And we’re going to do what needs to be done to protect the men and women of this country.”

    […] What Donald Trump is offering this audience is a new entertainment: He will put a federal boot on the throat of these cities, and he will press. No matter what any governor, or mayor, or representative has to say.

    This is the pushback he’s offering against signs that white privilege may be slipping. Trump isn’t just surrounding himself with Confederate statues and other symbols of racism. Trump is so determined to have his second Civil War, that he’s willing to fire the first shot—and in Portland, it’s already been fired.

  72. says

    Trump re-ups demand that Social Security be destroyed in next COVID-19 relief bill

    […] Trump has returned to his fixation of a payroll tax cut for employees as part of the federal response to coronavirus, despite the fact that it can’t be any kind of stimulus when there are at a minimum 36.4 million people in the U.S. who aren’t getting a paycheck to have pay payroll taxes not withheld from. What a payroll tax holiday would do is harm Social Security and Medicare since those taxes are dedicated revenue for those programs

    […] entirely bullshit. With unemployment this high and with the coronavirus pandemic still raging, a payroll tax cut will do very little to help anything, particularly stimulating the economy—what will keep everyone afloat is keeping the $600/week unemployment boost as well as another round of direct payments to everyone.

    […] “Congress must not give into Trump’s hostage-taking. Every Senator and Representative needs to call Trump’s bluff and work together to quickly send a COVID relief bill to Trump’s desk—without including any cuts to Social Security’s dedicated revenue.”

    Trump’s ploy here could not be more transparent. Even Senate Republicans have been cool to the idea of a payroll tax cut for this economic disaster because they know it wouldn’t do a damned bit of good and is bad politics. This is ALL about hurting Social Security, something Trump promised he wouldn’t do. That’s just another one of Trump’s 20,000+ lies.

  73. says

    Major USPS Changes Could Hamper Vote-By-Mail At The Worst Possible Time

    […] Mail service could be slowed down in coming months, as part of a campaign to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service launched by new agency leadership appointed by […] Trump. […]

    major questions remain about how the newly-reported changes could affect the ability of absentee voters to get their ballots in on time to be counted. Several other aspects of the election process also rely on the mail, […]

    […] the refusal to let USPS employees work overtime — the main driver of the changes being described — could lead to voters being disenfranchised.

    “It’s really a concern. The Trump administration is looking at the Post Office as a business. It’s not a business, it’s a critical public service,” Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos told TPM. […]

    “There are a variety of stages where this is impactful,” said Tammy Patrick, a vote-by-mail guru who has been advising election officials. The particularities of mail-in-ballots create several potential chokepoints in the delivery process […]

    A persistent trend of voting in the pandemic is that, in jurisdictions without prior experience handling large-scale absentee voting, ballots were not making it back in time to be counted.

    […] tardiness resulted in at least 65,000 mail ballots not being counted in the primaries, according to an NPR analysis. In total, 34 states have requirements that mail ballots be received by Election Day or earlier in order to be counted.

    Particularly vulnerable to disenfranchisement are the voters who do not apply for absentee ballots until days before an election, and several states set that application deadline for under a week before Election Day. […]

    “The states that allow for late requests, they’re not going to change between now and November,” Patrick said.

    […] delays also impede steps earlier in the process, before voters reach the point of applying for and receiving ballots. With the pandemic restricting in-person interactions, mail is playing a larger role in facilitating several election-related operations, not just vote by mail.

    Many voters learn of their in-person polling location via a card in the mail, and this year’s elections stand to bring major changes to where Americans must go to cast ballots in person. […]

    The list maintenance process outlined in federal law, meanwhile, instructs election officials to use mail cards to confirm the registrations of voters who appear to have moved or otherwise may have become ineligible.

    Actions that hinder these election mail operations, according to National Vote At Home Institute CEO Amber McReynolds, are “going to create inaccurate voter registration lists [and] make the system more susceptible to issues.” […]

    There’s no evidence yet that the recently-reported changes are being implemented with the goal of hampering the vote-by-mail process. But, even if those effects are unintentional, the postal service’s defenders see the changes as part of a broader approach that ignores the post office’s civic obligations, of which facilitating democracy is a part. […]

  74. says

    Trump skirting Congress to install loyalists in the Pentagon

    Experts and Democratic lawmakers alike decried the campaign to root out those seen as disloyal and replace them with Trump acolytes.

    The White House is taking advantage of a loophole to install loyalists to […] Trump in acting senior roles at the Pentagon, effectively skirting the Senate confirmation process.

    While the number of vacancies isn’t new — one-third of the Defense Department’s 60 Senate-confirmed positions are filled on a temporary basis — the White House in recent months has been sending over people to fill open spots, as opposed to the more traditional method of tapping people within the Pentagon.

    The White House on Monday announced that it was assigning Michael Kratsios, a 33-year-old White House chief technology officer, as the head of research and engineering for the entire DoD. Kratsios, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science, is replacing Michael Griffin, a former NASA administrator with a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

    The administration has also discussed installing Anthony Tata, the controversial Fox News regular who has been nominated to be the Pentagon’s top policy official, in a different senior DoD role on an acting basis, according to an official familiar with the discussions. The move would head off what is expected to be a bruising confirmation hearing focused on now-deleted Islamophobic tweets. […]

    a climate that values loyalty over expertise scares away the best prospects and injects politics into an organization that tries to operate above partisanship. […]

    “This administration is shamefully circumventing the Senate confirmation process to install partisan puppets in senior Pentagon posts,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “By exploiting loopholes, they seek to escape congressional and public scrutiny of these underqualified officials. This is a threat to our national security and I will keep fighting to ensure rigorous oversight of executive branch appointees.” […]

    Under the Vacancies Act, a person who is not Senate-confirmed cannot serve as an acting undersecretary or higher. But the act allows the president to grant exceptions in three cases: someone confirmed to a position at a different agency; the “first assistant”; and someone who has been employed by the agency for at least 90 days and paid at least at a GS-15 rate.

    Kratsios, who previously served as an aide to venture capitalist Peter Thiel, was named as the Pentagon’s technology chief under the first exception. Kratsios will keep his White House job while wearing the Pentagon hat, a balancing act that critics say will make it impossible to do the Pentagon job well.

    […] “This is also that pattern Trump has had of putting actings in there. They are in there only for a year, they are beholden to him, they will do what he says.”

    “The real problem is the Trump Administration simply can’t attract top tier talent for these critical posts,” added Chip Unruh, spokesperson for ranking Senate Armed Services Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island. “The President prioritizes blind fealty to him above competence and it shows.” […]

    More at the link.

  75. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s current Astroturfing education post.)

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

    California’s plan to reopen schools, new today, includes requirements for personal protective equipment, physical distancing, distance learning and guidance for what should happen if students get sick.

    Schools would not be able to reopen for in-person instruction until the counties they’re located in have been off a statewide monitoring list for 14 days, based on stable case rates.

    Masks will be required for students in third grade and older; for students in second grade and younger, masks or face shields (which can be less intimidating to youngsters) will be strongly recommended.

    Staff must maintain six feet of distance between each other and students, and each day would begin with checks for symptoms. If 5% of students at a school are sick, it would force a school closure.

    Distance learning, which saw a disastrous rollout this spring, will also have new requirements: connectivity and devices for all kids, a requirement of daily live interaction with teachers and others students, assignments that are comparable to in-person classwork and lessons adapted for English learners and special education students.

    As the Grauniad noted previously:

    Schools in counties that are on the state’s monitoring lists, as determined by case rates and community spread, will not be allowed to reopen for in-person classes this fall.

    With 31 of California’s 58 counties now on the watch list, including the state’s most populous areas, that would mean most of the state’s 10,000 schools would start the school year without in person instruction.

    No word in these short blog entries about funding, help for the teachers, and so on.

  76. says

    Fox host Chris Wallace fact-checks Trump claim Biden wants to defund police

    […] “It’s gotten totally out of control and it’s really because they want to defund the police, and Biden wants to defund the police,” Trump said in a clip of the interview, which will air in its entirety on Sunday.

    “Sir, he does not,” Wallace interjected.

    “Look, he signed a charter with Bernie Sanders,” Trump shot back, referencing a lengthy unity platform unveiled by Biden and the Vermont senator that offers a number of progressive policy proposals.

    “And it says nothing about defunding the police,” Wallace said.

    “Oh really? It says abolish, it says defund. Let’s go. Get me the charter, please,” Trump said, turning to staff off camera.

    Wallace recounted on Fox News that Trump had his staff fetch highlights of the unity pledge from the Biden and Sanders team and found “a lot of things that he objected to that Biden has agreed to. But he couldn’t find any indication — because there isn’t any — that Joe Biden has sought to defund and abolish the police.”

  77. blf says

    Not exactly political, I should face up to my new roommate. But she is quite fast and has a tail:

    We are not cohabiting well, and the night-time scurrying is particularly tortuous

    I have a new roommate. Like me, she is short and brunette, with a sometimes chaotic energy. Unlike me, she has a tail. She is a mouse. And lives behind my wardrobe.

    We are not cohabiting well. The night-time scurrying is particularly torturous. As soon as I try to sleep, the scratching starts. I show the mouse I’m awake by swearing at it, which wins me a reprieve. But when I drift off, it starts again. I know I should not give up my territory to the invader, but I move to the living room anyway.

    Mus musculus. That’s the Latin name for a mouse. I learned that by blue light, researching tactics and reading into mouse-besting greats: the nimble cat (Felis catus), or wily red fox (Vulpes vulpes — so good they named him twice).

    […] This is not my first mouse visit: my childhood home was a favoured rodent getaway (inevitable when living in an old house, especially one owned by the council where even the roof being blasted off by a UFO would not constitute an urgent repair). Back then, I screamed at the mice, but also at spiders, heights and open water. Those other fears eventually disappeared, vanquished by my logical adult brain and the experience of facing up to them. But it is hard to face up to a mouse: they are quite fast.

    […] I have come to accept my mouse problem will stay with me a little while longer, safely nested under the floorboards, and under my skin.

  78. says

    From Wonkette:

    The city of Portland, Oregon, is under assault from its own federal government.

    People are being detained by unidentifiable alleged law enforcement officers, blindfolded, thrown into unmarked vehicles, and detained without even knowing where they are or who is holding them. This is not a dystopian thriller — it’s America in 2020.

    Since at least July 10, federal officers from the Department of Homeland Security have been terrorizing Black Lives Matter protesters. Now, alleged federal officers wearing military fatigues have been rounding up Portlanders and throwing them into unmarked vans. Because apparently, forcibly disappearing people is something we do now.

    Usually, the Department of Homeland Security props up white supremacy by acting as immigration Nazis. Now, it’s also brutally attacking journalists, peaceful protesters, and apparently anyone who happens to be in downtown Portland in the middle of the night.

    Last weekend, federal officers shot peaceful protester Donavan LaBella in the face with an allegedly “less lethal” weapon. His skull was fractured and he had to undergo reconstructive surgery.

    Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown have both asked the feds to GTFO. These requests have been ignored by both Trump and his chief DHS lackey, Chad Wolf.

    Can Trump do this?!

    Well, he shouldn’t be able to.

    Forced disappearances are, of course, not supposed to be a thing here in the US of A, where we pretend to care about things like the rule of law. It’s also illegal, fascist bullshit. You see, we have a constitution. And it requires crazy things like “free speech,” “due process,” “probable cause,” and “equal protection under the law.” All of these things mean you can’t just arrest, disappear, or shoot at people who are peacefully protesting.

    Protesting injustice is a celebrated exercise of First Amendment rights — the government isn’t allowed to stop protests just because it doesn’t like them. The government also can’t search, detain, or arrest people for no reason. The Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures says that’s a no-no. And, just for posterity, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments’ guarantees of due process mean that the government isn’t allowed to just disappear people. […]

    Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, called the arrests “terrifying,” saying

    It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay[.] You have laws regarding probable cause that can lead to arrests[.] It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.

    In fact, under both US and international law, what’s happening in Portland is what those of us educated in the law call “fascist fucking bullshit.” Enforced disappearances are a crime against humanity, codified in such documents as the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, and the Statute of the International Criminal Court. […]

    Among the federal forces deployed in Portland are members of an elite Border Patrol tactical team, a special operations unit that is based on the U.S.-Mexico border and has been deployed overseas, including to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Among the BORTAC members patrolling the streets of Portland are snipers.

    Yeah, you read that right. There are government-sponsored snipers in Portland. Training their weapons at protesters. Who are protesting police brutality. ]…]

    Litigation over the feds’ fuckery is already happening in federal court. Local officers in Portland are under a court order preventing them from using violent measures like tear gas unless lives are in danger. The feds don’t think it applies to them, but yesterday, lawyers for protesters argued in court that does.

    “[…] You can’t get a third person to continue the harassment that was restrained in an order. If the evidence shows that [the Portland Police Bureau] was directing the federal police to fire tear gas into a crowd and it’s not in accordance with Oregon law, then it’s a violation.”

    And protesters aren’t the only people under threat. The ACLU had to file a class action suit on behalf of journalists, and legal observers had to file a class action suit to get Portland police to stop arresting them simply for documenting police violence at the protests against police brutality. Now, they are adding the federal officers terrorizing their streets to their list of defendants.

    “It’s a logical relationship,” Athul Acharya, attorney for the journalists said Thursday. “Claims against city and the federal police involve both actors doing the same thing, at the same time and working together on the same nights while using the same tactics, like tear gas and batons. Federal police are working in the PPB command center and plaintiffs in the case saw federal agents swarm out of the Justice Center, which is PPB’s headquarters.”

    Judge Michael Simon ruled today that the federal defendants could be added to the suit, opening the door for the ACLU to file a motion for a temporary restraining order against them for all of this authoritarian garbage. […]

    People on the ground in Portland often had no idea whether these military-looking men were federal officers at all. Terroristic militias love to do things like cosplay as soldiers and go after protesters — and these days, the federal government is looking more and more like a white supremacist militia.

    […] the Ammon Bundys of the world haven’t made a peep about all of the actual fascism going down on American streets. […]

    Remember: this is not normal, it is not okay, and it must be stopped.

  79. blf says

    Yikes! Desperate Bolivians seek out toxic bleach falsely touted as Covid-19 cure (my added emboldening):

    Long lines form every morning in one of the Bolivian cities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic as desperate people wait to buy small bottles of chlorine dioxide, a toxic bleaching agent that has been falsely touted as a cure for Covid-19 and myriad other diseases.

    The rush in the city of Cochabamba to buy a disinfectant known to cause harm to those who ingest it comes even after the Bolivian health ministry warned of its dangers and said at least five people had been poisoned after taking chlorine dioxide in La Paz, the capital.

    […] Bolivia’s opposition-controlled congress is promoting the use of chlorine dioxide. Last week, the senate approved a bill authorizing the emergency manufacture, marketing, supply and use of chlorine dioxide solution for the prevention and treatment of coronavirus.


    The governor of Cochabamba state, Esther Soria, said she supports a plan for a state law authorizing the use of chlorine dioxide and traditional medicine to treat Covid-19. Cochabamba’s mayor, José María Leyes, said he favors the free distribution of the bleaching agent to treat patients.


  80. says

    The House Committee on Education and Labor announced Friday that the White House had blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from providing a witness to testify at a hearing next week on opening schools during the pandemic.

    Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) sent a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield on July 9 requesting that he or someone else from the agency participate in the hearing. The committee tweeted Friday that the White House wouldn’t allow that to happen.

    The CDC is putting together guidance on how schools can safely reopen in the fall. It had been expected this week, but Redfield has delayed the release until the end of the month.

    “It is alarming that the Trump administration is preventing the CDC from appearing before the Committee at a time when its expertise and guidance is so critical to the health and safety of students, parents, and educators,” Scott said in a statement. “This lack of transparency does a great disservice to the many communities across the country facing difficult decisions about reopening schools this fall.” […]

    Washington Post link

  81. blf says

    I hadn’t heard that she had died (due to Covid-19), Tributes pour in as Zindzi Mandela buried in South Africa (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s youngest daughter buried in northern Johannesburg suburb.

    Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of South African liberation hero Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has been laid to rest following her death earlier this week.


    Zindzi Mandela, who was South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark, had tested positive for coronavirus before her death in the early hours of Monday at a hospital in Johannesburg, according to her family.

    South African President Cyril Ramaphosa thanked the Mandela family for “the very important gesture of sharing this information with the nation”.

    “In doing so you are helping to encourage social acceptance for sufferers,” he said in a eulogy at a virtual memorial on Thursday night.

    “This is a virus that affects us all, and there should never be any stigma around people who become infected,” added Ramaphosa.


    One of her most prominent moments was in 1985 when she read out — in front of a huge crowd of ANC supporters at Soweto’s Jabulani stadium — a letter in which her father rejected an offer of release from PW Botha, the then apartheid president.

    At the time, Botha had offered to free Mandela from prison on condition he renounced the anti-apartheid violence and protests.


    Julius Malema, a left-wing opposition leader, told public broadcaster SABC at the cemetery: “She survived the most brutal regime at an early age and we thought that this crisis and invisible enemy {coronavirus} we are confronted with today, she is going to survive it because she has seen worse.

    “And when people like mama Zindzi succumb to this invisible enemy we all remain hopeless and we are shattered.”


  82. blf says

    Wisconsin police officer who killed 3 people in 5 years suspended:

    Activists and lawyers have called for the officer to be fired. Local authorities are investigating the latest death.

    A police officer in a Milwaukee suburb who’s killed three people in five years was suspended by the city’s Police and Fire Commission (PFC) on Wednesday, following calls from local parents and lawyers for his firing.

    Joseph Mensah, an officer with the Wauwatosa Police Department, was previously put on administrative leave with pay after the death of Alvin Cole, a 17-year-old Black youth shot by Mensah in February.

    The PFC’s five members voted unanimously to suspend Mensah, though he will continue to receive pay while Cole’s death is under investigation by the local district attorney’s office.

    Police claim Cole fired a gun at them before his killing. Lawyers representing Cole’s family dispute the claim.

    Aside from Cole, Mensah killed two other people: Jay Anderson in 2016 and Antonio Gonzalez in 2015.


    “He’s only been an officer for five years, and within that five, very short years of him being an officer, he has fired his weapon 19 times,” Motley told Al Jazeera. He is also the only officer in his precinct to have killed anyone in the past seven years, she said.

    “I do think it’s a homicide. I do think he should be criminally charged for shooting and killing Alvin Cole,” Motley said. “I also think that there may be an argument to be made that he should also be charged with homicide as it relates to Jay Anderson and Antonio Gonzales.”


    “The law demands each shot fired from a police officer’s gun is carefully and thoroughly scrutinized. Nineteen shots and three deaths in five years are not a pattern of accidents” [observed a full-page advertisement in a local paper paid for by rapper Jay-Z’s Team ROC …]

  83. says

    SCOTUS Green lights NY’s Cy Vance to Issue Judgement on Trump’s tax returns immediately!

    The US Supreme Court granted the Manhattan district attorney’s request to immediately issue its judgment in the case over […] Trump’s tax returns, paving the way for new challenges to a grand jury subpoena to be handled by a lower court judge.

    The Supreme Court last week ruled that the President does not have broad immunity against a state grand jury investigation.

    Judgments, however, are generally not formally issued for 25 days.

    Judge gives Trump until July 27 to add new challenges to subpoena in taxes case.

    The district attorney asked for that time to be cut short, and Trump’s attorney agreed. Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts said the request is granted.

    Trump’s lawyer said they plan to file an amended complaint to raise new challenges to the state grand jury subpoena to Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA. A lawyer for the district attorney has called this a delay tactic. […]

  84. says

    Judge rejects Trump administration challenge to California cap-and-trade program

    A federal judge on Friday upheld a California program that caps carbon emissions from the transportation sector after the Trump administration sued the state over it.

    The Justice Department last year challenged the cap-and-trade program, which aims to improve air quality and allows companies in the state to trade emissions credits with others in Quebec.

    The federal government argued that California exceeded the role of the states and intruded on the federal government’s foreign policy authority, particularly its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

    However, judge William Shubb disagreed, ruling that “the United States has failed to show that California’s program impermissibly intrudes on the federal government’s foreign affairs power.” […]

    “California’s Cap-and-Trade Program has existed since 2012 and was only strengthened from our collaboration with Quebec.”

    “California has long been a leader in fighting climate change for the sake of protecting public health, our natural resources, our economy, and indeed our planet.”

    Shubb had previously nixed another argument by the Trump administration, claiming the program was akin to a treaty, in March.

    Another loss in the courts for Trump.

  85. says

    Follow-up to comment 109.

    Kyle Cheney:

    JUST IN: The Supreme Court just expedited the implementation of its ruling in VANCE. This is about two weeks earlier than the ruling would typically take effect, and Trump didn’t object.

    The House is asking for similar consideration in Mazars but Trump has opposed that effort.

    Amy Howe:

    #SCOTUS grants request from NY district attorney Cy Vance to have ruling in Trump financial records case go into effect asap. Trump had consented to the request.

    In other news, a candidate for Tweet o’ the Day:

  86. says

    Re Lynna’s #104 above, I briefly saw someone on the news earlier, I believe one of the journalists covering the story in Portland but I didn’t get his name, and he said CBP had finally responded and confirmed that the people in the camo are theirs. I thought first of the CBP when reading Tim Snyder’s point in On Tyranny: “Be wary of paramilitaries.” (He tweeted about it last month at the time of the events in DC.) The same guy or someone else on TV said that he’d spoken with one of the people who was kidnapped, and the guy said that when he told them he wanted to see a lawyer, they released him. He still hasn’t been given any information.

    Ken White tweeted:

    Do we know whether any of the people snatched up by anonymous secret police are still missing, and if so can we get a team to do an emergency habeas corpus proceeding (maybe against DHS) to try to force disclosure of exactly who has them and where?

  87. says

    Matthew Chapman:

    THREAD: You might have noticed right-wingers all just sort of…stopped talking about Parler.

    That’s because they realized it’s actually a pretty crappy social network.

    To begin with the most obvious problem, it was an echo chamber. The whole thing was based on a right-wing conspiracy theory that conservatives are being censored, so only conservatives joined, and there was no political debate. Boring.

    But that’s just the start of it.

    Parler claims that it’s a true haven for free speech, but it isn’t.

    Its terms of service have nearly all the content restrictions Twitter does, and some, like its prohibitions on vulgar language, are stricter. And they reserve the right to take down anything with no explanation.

    But it gets worse. Parler also has way worse privacy protections than Twitter.

    You can’t even unlock all of its features, like direct messaging, without submitting your Social Security Number and a photo of your driver’s license, and they don’t give any compelling reason why. [!!! – SC]

    And that’s not the only crazy shit buried in Parler’s terms of service.

    There’s also a forced arbitration and indemnification clause. You can’t sue them, and if *they’re* sued, they can hold you liable for their damages if they decide your content is at fault.

    And as if all of that isn’t bad enough, unlike Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or even TikTok, Parler’s *entire site* is hidden behind a login wall!

    That inherently cripples it as a useful social network because it has no reach on other sites.

    Parler is going to stick around as a sad little echo chamber for people who got banned from other social networks for hate speech. But it isn’t going to take off, even among any significant fraction of the right.

    Already most politicians who jumped on it are abandoning it.

  88. says

    Cook Political Report – “House Rating Changes: 20 Races Move Towards Democrats”:

    …AZ-02: Ann Kirkpatrick (D) – Likely D to Solid D
    CA-04: Tom McClintock (R) – Solid R to Likely R
    CA-39: Gil Cisneros (D) – Lean D to Likely D
    CO-06: Jason Crow (D) – Likely D to Solid D
    IN-05: OPEN (Brooks) (R) – Lean R to Toss Up
    KS-02: Steve Watkins (R) – Likely R to Lean R
    MN-01: Jim Hagedorn (R) – Likely R to Lean R
    MN-03: Dean Phillips (D) – Likely D to Solid D
    NE-02: Don Bacon (R) – Lean R to Toss Up
    NC-08: Richard Hudson (R) – Likely R to Lean R
    NC-09: Dan Bishop (R) – Solid R to Likely R
    OH-01: Steve Chabot (R) – Lean R to Toss Up
    OH-12: Troy Balderson (R) – Solid R to Likely R
    PA-08: Matt Cartwright (D) – Toss Up to Lean D
    TX-03: Van Taylor (R) – Solid R to Likely R
    TX-06: Ron Wright (R) – Solid R to Likely R
    TX-21: Chip Roy (R) – Lean R to Toss Up
    TX-25: Roger Williams (R) – Solid R to Likely R
    VA-10: Jennifer Wexton (D) – Likely D to Solid D
    WA-03: Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) – Likely R to Lean R…

  89. says

    This Portland abuse is totally making me want to go out and graffiti things. (I mean, full disclosure, I am an anarchist, but the last time I spray painted anything was when I restored rattan bookshelves some guys moving out of my old building gave me, which came out great.)

  90. says

    BREAKING: The [ACLU of Oregon] is taking federal authorities in Portland, Oregon, to court.

    This is a fight to save our democracy. These federal agents must be stopped and removed from the city.

    Federal agents are terrorizing the community, threatening lives, and relentlessly attacking protesters demonstrating against police brutality.

    This is not law and order. This is lawlessness — and it must be stopped.

    The lawsuit — the first of multiple to be filed against the Trump administration in Portland — seeks to block DHS and other agencies from attacking journalists and legal observers at protests.

    We’re bringing the full power of the ACLU to bear until this lawless policing ends.”

  91. blf says

    Not exactly political — albeit certain current alleged politicians are touched on — I used to think clothes mattered. Now I am part Miss Havisham, part Jess Glynne:

    People laughed at last week’s story about pop singer Jess Glynne being denied entry to a restaurant called Sexy Fish, and not just because she wanted to go to a restaurant called Sexy Fish. [… P]eople laughed because Glynne claimed on Instagram that she was discriminated against when she wasn’t allowed into a restaurant because she was wearing a hoodie. She later apologised, saying she had “used the wrong word”, but I have more sympathy with Glynne than apparently everyone else. Like her, I have forgotten how to dress, speak and pretty much do anything that signifies I am a fully socialised adult. Lockdown has stripped away my outer trappings and revealed my inner self, which is, it turns out, entirely feral. Not only would I now 100% turn up to a restaurant in a hoodie, but I would probably try to buy shoes there and start talking in tongues.

    I feel honestly astonished when I think back, pre-lockdown, to all the energy and money I spent on clothes, shoes and makeup, trying to make the hair on my head thicker, and the hair on my face and body thinner, like an unceasing form of crop rotation. […] Then I stopped for four months and here I am, looking like Rab C Nesbitt, and I don’t care. I really don’t. When hairdressers opened again, my friends rushed to them in grateful tears, and while I envied their commitment, it wasn’t enough to make me do anything as effortful as book an appointment (!) and leave my home (!!!!). […]

    I gaze upon my makeup bag as if it were an ash-covered artefact from Pompeii, something from another era now calcified into irrelevance. And then there are my clothes. I used to think of them as not just an articulation of identity, but my actual identity. The cotton beach dresses from holidays past; the ankle boots bought when I lived downtown in New York; the designer jackets from when I worked on the fashion desk and got invited to sample sales: once, I knew all these objects better than I know my own body. But when I tried one on the other day I felt like Miss Havisham determinedly wearing her wedding dress long after that moment had passed. I now wear just four outfits in rotation, all of which involve an enormous amount of give. I used to insist that fashion had nothing to do with the external gaze, but was a personal expression. Yet, now that there is no external gaze, my personal expression is a pair of Topshop tracksuit bottoms with busted waist elastic.

    I have long assumed that I would end up one of those batty older New York ladies, the kind who suddenly breaks into Sondheim on the subway, or goes out for fast food in a ballgown […] This morning, while waiting for my takeaway coffee, I realised I was singing out loud to the music on my headphones, which was Wait For It from Hamilton. Aside from looking completely deranged, standing in your local cafe and singing the solo song from the guy who shot Alexander Hamilton is probably not the best way to prove you are — to use the popular phrase — on the right side of history.

    [… T]he reality is, the whole global situation has made me, like so many others, a little bit depressed and quite a bit loopy. “Oh, I’m fine,” we all say, as if living through a worldwide plague with a pair of sociopathic clowns in the White House and Downing Street is totally fine. But it’s not fine, none of it.

    It’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever return to normality, and, given that in normal times someone named a restaurant Sexy Fish, we were probably due for a hard reboot anyway. […]

    The mildly deranged penguin is puzzled by all this introspection. She’s still wearing her feathered tuxedo, thinks a Sexy Cheese restaurant is good idea, and what’s this “introspection” anyways… sounds like — she says — a gastrointestinal aliment gotten by eating a decidedly non-sexy sociopathic clown.

  92. says

    NYT – “John Lewis, Towering Figure of Civil Rights Era, Dies at 80”:

    Representative John Lewis, a son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality, and who then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress, died on Friday. He was 80.

    His death was confirmed in a statement by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives.

    Mr. Lewis, of Georgia, announced on Dec. 29 that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer…

    On the front lines of the bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, with blows to his body and a fractured skull to prove it, Mr. Lewis was a valiant stalwart of the civil rights movement and the last surviving speaker at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

    More than a half-century later, after the killing in May of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody in Minneapolis, Mr. Lewis welcomed the resulting global demonstrations against police killings of Black people and, more broadly, against systemic racism in many corners of society. He saw those protests as a continuation of his life’s work, though his illness had left him to watch from the sidelines.

    “It was very moving, very moving to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over America and around the world take to the streets — to speak up, to speak out, to get into what I call ‘good trouble,’” Mr. Lewis told “CBS This Morning” in June.

    “This feels and looks so different,” he said of the Black Lives Matter movement, which drove the anti-racism demonstrations. “It is so much more massive and all inclusive.” He added, “There will be no turning back.”

    He died on the same day as did another stalwart of the civil rights movement, the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a close associate of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Mr. Lewis’s personal history paralleled that of the civil rights movement. He was among the original 13 Freedom Riders, the Black and white activists who challenged segregated interstate travel in the South in 1961. He was a founder and early leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which coordinated lunch-counter sit-ins. He helped organize the March on Washington, where Dr. King was the main speaker, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

    Mr. Lewis led demonstrations against racially segregated restrooms, hotels, restaurants, public parks and swimming pools, and he rose up against other indignities of second-class citizenship. At nearly every turn he was beaten, spat upon or burned with cigarettes. He was tormented by white mobs and absorbed body blows from law enforcement.

    On March 7, 1965, he led one of the most famous marches in American history. In the vanguard of 600 people demanding the voting rights they had been denied, Mr. Lewis marched partway across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., into a waiting phalanx of state troopers in riot gear.

    Ordered to disperse, the protesters silently stood their ground. The troopers responded with tear gas and bullwhips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. In the melee, known as Bloody Sunday, a trooper cracked Mr. Lewis’s skull with a billy club, knocking him to the ground, then hit him again when he tried to get up.

    Televised images of the beatings of Mr. Lewis and scores of others outraged the nation and galvanized support for the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson presented to a joint session of Congress eight days later and signed into law on Aug. 6. A milestone in the struggle for civil rights, the law struck down the literacy tests that Black people had been compelled to take before they could register to vote and replaced segregationist voting registrars with federal registrars to ensure that Black people were no longer denied the ballot.

    Once registered, millions of African-Americans began transforming politics across the South. They gave Jimmy Carter, a son of Georgia, his margin of victory in the 1976 presidential election. (A popular poster proclaimed, “Hands that once picked cotton now can pick a President.”) And their voting power opened the door for Black people, including Mr. Lewis, to run for public office. Elected in 1986, he became the second African-American to be sent to Congress from Georgia since Reconstruction, representing a district that encompassed much of Atlanta.

    While Mr. Lewis represented Atlanta, his natural constituency was disadvantaged people everywhere. Known less for sponsoring major legislation than for his relentless pursuit of justice, his colleagues called him “the conscience of the Congress.”

    When the House voted in December 2019 to impeach President Trump, Mr. Lewis’s words rose above the rest. “When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something,” he said on the House floor. “To do something. Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’ For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

    His words resonated as well after he saw the video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as Mr. Floyd gasped for air.

    “It was so painful, it made me cry,” Mr. Lewis told “CBS This Morning.” “People now understand what the struggle was all about,” he said. “It’s another step down a very, very long road toward freedom, justice for all humankind.”

    As a younger man, his words could be more militant….

    Mr. Lewis was arrested 40 times from 1960 to 1966. He was beaten senseless repeatedly by Southern policemen and freelance hoodlums. During the Freedom Rides in 1961, he was left unconscious in a pool of his own blood outside the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Montgomery, Ala., after he and others were attacked by hundreds of white people. He spent countless days and nights in county jails and 31 days in Mississippi’s notoriously brutal Parchman Penitentiary.

    Once he was in Congress, Mr. Lewis voted with the most liberal Democrats, though he also showed an independent streak. In his quest to build what Dr. King called “the beloved community” — a world without poverty, racism or war (Mr. Lewis adopted the phrase) — he routinely voted against military spending. He opposed the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 1992. He refused to take part in the 1995 “Million Man March” in Washington, saying that statements made by the organizer, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, were “divisive and bigoted.”

    In 2001, Mr. Lewis skipped the inauguration of George W. Bush, saying he thought that Mr. Bush, who had become president after the Supreme Court halted a vote recount in Florida, had not been truly elected.

    In 2017 he boycotted Mr. Trump’s inauguration, questioning the legitimacy of his presidency because of evidence that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

    John Robert Lewis grew up with all the humiliations imposed by segregated rural Alabama. He was born on Feb. 21, 1940, to Eddie and Willie Mae (Carter) Lewis near the town of Troy on a sharecropping farm owned by a white man. After his parents bought their own farm — 110 acres for $300 — John, the third of 10 children, shared in the farm work, leaving school at harvest time to pick cotton, peanuts and corn. Their house had no plumbing or electricity. In the outhouse, they used the pages of an old Sears catalog as toilet paper.

    John was responsible for taking care of the chickens. He fed them and read to them from the Bible. He baptized them when they were born and staged elaborate funerals when they died.

    “I was truly intent on saving the little birds’ souls,” he wrote in his memoir, “Walking With the Wind” (1998). “I could imagine that they were my congregation. And me, I was a preacher.”

    Not surprisingly, Mr. Lewis’s long congressional career was marked by protests. He was arrested in Washington several times, including outside the South African Embassy for demonstrating against apartheid and at Sudan’s Embassy while protesting genocide in Darfur.

    He supported Mr. Obama’s health care bill in 2010, a divisive measure that drew to the Capitol angry protesters, including many from the right-wing Tea Party. Some demonstrators shouted obscenities and racial slurs at Mr. Lewis and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

    “They were shouting, sort of harassing,” Mr. Lewis told reporters at the time. “But it’s OK. I’ve faced this before.”

    In 2016, after a massacre at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub left 49 people dead, he led a sit-in on the House floor to protest federal inaction on gun control. The demonstration drew the support of 170 lawmakers, but Republicans dismissed it as a publicity stunt and squelched any legislative action.

    Through it all, the events of Bloody Sunday were never far from his mind, and every year Mr. Lewis traveled to Selma to commemorate its anniversary. Over time, he watched attitudes change. At the ceremony in 1998, Joseph T. Smitherman, who had been Selma’s segregationist mayor in 1965 and was still mayor — though a repentant one — gave Mr. Lewis a key to the city.

    “Back then, I called him an outside rabble-rouser,” Mr. Smitherman said of Mr. Lewis. “Today, I call him one of the most courageous people I ever met.”

    Mr. Lewis was a popular speaker at college commencements and always offered the same advice — that the graduates get into “good trouble,” as he had done against his parents’ wishes.

    He put it this way on Twitter in 2018:

    “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

    Much, much more at the link. (My favorite tweet from John Lewis.)

  93. blf says

    ‘Abuse of federal law’: Remove troops, Portland mayor tells Trump:

    Ted Wheeler, mayor of the US city of Portland, has demanded that President Donald Trump remove federal agents he had deployed to the city after some of the officers detained anti-racism protesters on streets far from the monuments and buildings they were sent to protect.

    “Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Wheeler said at a news conference on Friday, describing the arrests and the crackdown on protesters as an “absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials”.


    A spokeswoman for the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)[gestapo] told Reuters news agency that federal agents had been deployed to Portland to support a newly launched Department of Homeland Security (DHS)[another gestapo] unit, tasked with enforcing last month’s executive order from Trump to protect federal monuments and buildings.


    In a statement on Friday, the CBP[gestapo] said its agents were behind the arrest carried out in the video as the officers had information indicating the person in the video was suspected of assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property.

    Once CBP[gestapo] agents approached the suspect, a large and violent mob moved towards their location. For everyone’s safety, CBP[gestapo] agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location, the agency said. However, the video shows no mob.

    Meanwhile, another video showed an officer shoving away medics trying to aid someone. And still, another showed a protester bleeding profusely from his head after federal troops allegedly shot him with a weapon firing non-lethal munitions.


    Kate Brown, governor of Oregon, of which Portland is the largest city, called the deployment of federal troops “a blatant abuse of power by the federal government”.

    “This political theater from President [sic] Trump has nothing to do with public safety,” Brown wrote on Twitter, adding that Trump was looking for a confrontation in the hopes of winning political points elsewhere.

    Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would file a lawsuit in federal court against the DHS, the CBP, the Marshals Service, and the Federal Protection Service[gestapo], alleging they have violated the civil rights of Oregonians by detaining them without probable cause.

    [… ACLU…]

    Oregon’s two senators and two of its House members announced they will also be asking the DHS, inspector general, as well as the US Department of Justice[gestapo], to investigate “the unrequested presence and violent actions of federal forces in Portland”.

    “It’s painfully clear this administration is focused purely on escalating violence without answering my repeated requests for why this expeditionary force is in Portland and under what constitutional authority,” Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said.


    Homeland Security acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said Friday morning on US TV show, Fox & Friends, that the federal government has a responsibility to protect buildings such as the court.

    What we’ve seen around the country is where responsible policing is advanced, violence recedes, Cuccinelli said. [technically probably true, but that technical meaning using the commonly-accepted meaning of those words is not at all what this wannabe-dalek means, hence the eejit quotes –blf]

    And Portland hasn’t gotten that memo. Nor have a lot of other cities. And the president [sic] is determined to do what we can, within our jurisdiction, to help restore peace to these beleaguered cities.

  94. says

    Josh Marshall at TPM:

    …As I’m sure it is for many of you this news just lands like a punch in the gut. That would be the case at any time but especially now when so much is uncertain, when even the course of our national story seems in doubt.

    Here are the closing lines of Lewis’s speech at the March on Washington in 1963.

    “They’re talking about slow down and stop. We will not stop. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Thurmond will not stop this revolution. If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South; through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Cambridge, through the streets of Birmingham. But we will march with the spirit of love and with the spirit of dignity that we have shown here today. By the force of our demands, our determination, and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them together in the image of God and democracy. We must say: ‘Wake up America! Wake up!’ For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient.”

  95. says

    From Marina Hyde’s new piece in the Guardian (too much there to excerpt):

    …Either way, it’s time for all redshirts to get back to their offices if they can. Or, as Johnson’s chief scientific officer said yesterday, there is “absolutely no reason” to change advice to work from home. This was the appearance before a Commons committee by Patrick “herd immunity” Vallance, who, like Glenn Hoddle, now seems to think he never said them things. Vallance certainly seems to have missed the announcement from chancellor Rishi Sunak, who this week warned sluggish consumer units – “people”, in the old parlance – that the economic recovery would fail unless Britons got back into the shops and restaurants.

    Please do enjoy the spectacle of the Conservative-run state commanding its populace to participate in capitalism. It’s semi-optional, for now, though I’d like to think the participation drive will swiftly escalate into backbench MPs being instructed to motor round the streets of their constituencies with a PA system blasting out the message: “YOU MUST RETURN TO THE MARKET ECONOMY.” Commuter commandants to be introduced by October….

  96. says

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

    Also from the Guardian – “Thousands protest again over arrest of Russian regional governor”:

    Tens of thousands of people in the Russian city of Khabarovsk have turned out for a protest over the arrest of the region’s governor on charges of involvement in multiple murders.

    Local media estimated that the rally on Saturday attracted between 15,000 and 50,000 people. Protests have taken place every day this week, typically drawing hundreds of people .

    Last Saturday a crowd of up to 35,000 people reportedly rallied in the city centre. The protests are the largest ever to have taken place in Khabarovsk, a city of 590,000 people in the far east of Russia.

    Furgal, a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic party, was elected governor in 2018. His unexpected victory reflected growing public frustration with Vladimir Putin’s policies and marked a painful setback for the main Kremlin party, United Russia.

  97. blf says

    Bravo for the Grauniad (please support them if you can!), Scott Trust commissions research into Guardian founder’s possible links to slave trade:

    Independent researchers have been commissioned by the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian, to look into any historical connections the newspaper may have had to the slave trade.

    The review will research any links between transatlantic slavery and John Edward Taylor, the journalist who founded the Manchester Guardian in 1821, as well as with his associates, their investments and business activities.

    “We have seen no evidence that Taylor was a slave owner, nor involved in any direct way in the slave trade,” the chairman of the Scott Trust, Alex Graham, said in an email to staff on Friday.

    “But were such evidence to exist, we would want to be open about it. In any event, we must acknowledge that as cotton and textile merchants, some of Taylor and his funders’ family businesses would almost certainly have traded with cotton plantations that used enslaved labour.”


    Graham wrote that in the decades after Taylor’s death, in 1844, the Manchester Guardian did not always adhere to progressive ideals and values — the paper sided with the slave-owning south in the American civil war.

    “The Guardian of today took shape when Taylor’s nephew CP Scott, regarded as one of the greatest newspaper editors, took over in 1872. Scott transformed the Guardian, outlining the Guardian’s values in a 1921 essay, a blueprint for independent liberal journalism which has been central to our identity ever since,” he said.

    “As Scott wrote, a newspaper must have a ‘a moral, as well as a material existence’. In 1936, after his death, CP Scott’s family established the Scott Trust, which still oversees the Guardian and the Observer, unlike the vast majority of national [UK (actually, internationally)] news publishers, which are owned either by shareholders or billionaires.”


    The review at the University of Nottingham will be led by Dr Sheryllynne Haggerty, an expert in the history of the transatlantic slave trade and the economy of the British empire.

    Haggerty, director of the institute for the study of slavery at the University of Nottingham, who has published on the British slave trade and transatlantic commerce, said: “This is an important legacy project and it’s good to see a large British institution such as the Guardian explore its historical foundations and acknowledge any potential ties to transatlantic slavery.”


    Graham said: “We will do our best to hold ourselves to account, just as we do others, and the work will be shared with staff and our readers, once complete. It is incumbent on all of us to examine our histories, understand the injustices which have disadvantaged some and benefited others &mdash and then act, in the present day, in ways which actively encourage progress, not hold it back.”

    At least two possible glitches here (in no particular order): First, whilst Mr Taylor was a principle founder, he wasn’t the only founder, nor the only Gruaniad-associated individual during the period of active chattel slavery. Others might also have some (however indirect) involvement, as suggested by the support at the time for the slave-owners during the War to End Slavery. Second, the Grauniad (Scott Trust) nowadays also owns The Observer, which is even older (founded 1791, and usually considered Britain’s(? world’s?) first Sunday newspaper). That suggests there could be unpleasant links with, e.g., chattel slavery — albeit apparently The Observer supported the Union during the War to End Slavery.

  98. says

    Barack Obama in a Medium post – “My Statement on the Passing of Rep. John Lewis”:

    …It’s fitting that the last time John and I shared a public forum was at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who were helping to lead this summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts — of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office. I told him that all those young people — of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation — they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They had understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they had heard of his courage only through history books.

    Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders — to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.

  99. blf says

    Yellen, Bernanke urge Congress to step up with more virus aid (and Al Jazeera / Bloomberg does a Grauniad-ish thing — not more aid for the SARS-CoV-19 virus, but more aid for those most seriously affected by the pandemic):

    Former Fed chiefs argue for extended financial lifeline for unemployed and more support for state and local governments.

    Former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen urged Congress on Friday to do more to help the economy deal with the devastating coronavirus pandemic, such as extending increased unemployment benefits and providing assistance to hard-hit states and local governments, something many Republicans oppose.

    The two former Fed leaders, making their first appearances before a congressional panel since leaving the central bank, praised the efforts already made by the Fed and Congress but said both should be ready to do more given the severity of the shock the economy has endured.


    Yellen and Bernanke, in a joint statement to a House Oversight subcommittee, said the new measure should provide substantial support to state and local governments. [… I]n their statement, Yellen and Bernanke said: “The enormous loss of revenue from the recession, together with the new responsibilities imposed by the pandemic, has put state and local budgets deeply in the red.”

    The two argued that Congress needs to avoid the mistakes made during the Great Recession when state and local governments did not get adequate support and this ended up making the downturn worse and the subsequent recovery painfully slow.


    The two also urged legislators to adequately fund enhanced unemployment benefits, which are scheduled to stop at the end of this month, and to do so in a way that would allow the extra support to continue without additional action by Congress as long as the jobless rate remains at elevated levels in particular areas of the country.

    The two former Fed officials also urged Congress to provide increased support for medical research into the virus and for more testing, contact tracing and protective equipment as well as other needed hospital supplies.


  100. says

    From Laura Bassett, regarding Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

    Has everyone stopped to meditate on the fact that an 87-year-old woman on chemo has to keep working full-time, full-force, because she’s quite literally the only thing stopping the country’s full slide into fascism?

  101. says

    From Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli:

    […] this is a posture we intend to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country.

    So glad to see that the ACLU filed a lawsuit to block these actions by federal agents in Portland.

  102. says

    Ammon Bundy tries to bully his way inside Idaho health board meeting on mandating masks

    In case anyone had forgotten that threats, intimidation, and ultimately force form the core of far-right politics, anti-government “Patriot” leader Ammon Bundy gave us all a reminder Thursday in Idaho.

    Bundy, the self-styled leader of Idaho’s “resistance” to coronavirus-related stay-at-home measures (in much the same fashion as his 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon), showed up at the doors of the Southwest Health District in Caldwell with a contingent of his belligerent supporters and attempted to bully his way—physically, even—into a discussion of a possible mask mandate for district residents. The problem was that the meeting, as announced and planned, was being held online on Zoom.

    The health district’s board was meeting to discuss enacting a requirement for Canyon County residents to wear face coverings in public, as well as for businesses to require them. Such mandates are already in place in neighboring Ada County and the city of Boise. The meeting was already under way on Zoom—with some 200 people logged in—when Bundy and his bellowing cohort arrived.

    Informed at the door that he would not be permitted inside the building without a mask, Bundy began yelling at the man tasked with the job of only allowing district workers wearing masks inside.

    “You can’t have a meeting without the public!” Bundy told the man. “You’re gonna cancel the meeting, or you’re gonna let us in, or you’re gonna call the officers to arrest us.”

    “Orders are not law!” shouted the woman who filmed the encounter for Bundy’s Facebook feed.

    “You need to stay back and let the people in!” Bundy piled on. “This is not your building! This building belongs to the people!”

    Eventually, after haranguing the people at the doors with an endless stream of gobbledygook claims, Bundy attempted to force his way inside the building, and indeed succeeded briefly—shoving the man who was blocking the door as he tried to pull the door closed. Once inside, though, Bundy found himself alone, and shortly afterward went back out and rejoined his supporters.

    The health district board announced after awhile that it had chosen to cancel the meeting “as a safety precaution … Southwest District Health staff are safe and a crisis response team has been deployed to provide support to staff,” it said in a news release.

    Canyon County is in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases. Located just to the west of Boise, it now has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in Idaho behind Ada County, but cases have been rising rapidly; its count Thursday was the state’s highest.

    “The Board of Health recognizes the need to address the daily increase in COVID-19 case numbers as well as increases in COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths in the region,” Southwest District Health said in the news release. “Today the board intended to hear from local hospitals, SWDH staff, and discuss public health strategies for slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

    Board member Tom Dale told reporters the rescheduled meeting will be held Tuesday, but no venue has been set yet. The district plans to coordinate the Tuesday event with Caldwell Police.

    Bundy—who said the board “tried to keep the people out of the meeting while planning to mandate masks”—claimed victory on Facebook: “Meeting was canceled due to public insisting their rights to be present at the meeting. Keep pressure on. Be respectful and voice your concerns. Please keep sharing. We can do this,” he posted.

    No wonder Idaho now appears on all the scary maps showing in RED the states with spiking COVID-19 cases.

  103. says

    Mark Sumner writes about John Lewis:

    Just as with the events of World War II and the holocaust, we are losing our living memory of the Civil Rights movement. With each passing year, there are fewer people remaining who actually bore the blows of batons and the blasts of fire hoses, fewer who rode those buses, made those marches, crossed that bridge. […]

    To say that John Lewis was a towering figure of the Civil Rights movement, is underselling him. An eternal agent of peaceful protest, “the conscience of congress,” and a man of such earned dignity, that his presence, in the congress and the nation, was palpable. […] pulling others toward their better natures, and toward action. […] He was outraged, ever day and every hour, in the best possible way, seeking “good trouble” right into his final days.

    As Lewis himself said when he talked about his pancreatic cancer in 2019. “I have been in some kind of fight—for freedom, equality, basic human rights—for nearly my entire life.” How could anyone be sure they were on the right side of history? If they were fighting alongside John Lewis.

    How long has John Lewis been a key figure in the nation? His New York Times obituary was partially written by a man who left that paper in 1978.

    It’s difficult to speak about Lewis without pointing at the past. Yes, he endured horrific beatings. Yes, he was a Black man elected to Congress from the South at a time when that alone seemed miraculous. Yes, books can be written about everything he did as one of the “Big Six.” Books have.

    But John Lewis wasn’t frozen in 1960s amber. His will wasn’t just in the Civil Rights achievements that came in his 20s, but in the Civil Rights act of 1991. It was also in the 2003 authorization of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. [snipped details about gun law activism]. Lewis was also a pivotal player in the impeachment of Donald Trump. His support for that vote […] was key to giving others the courage to move forward.

    Too often in the last decades, Lewis was forced to spend his energies not on moving the nation forward, but in the struggle to keep it from sliding back. He fought back attempts to derail and defund the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in Congress, only to see courts and the Trump White House undercut his efforts.

    Lewis saw the protests following the police murder of George Floyd as not just a continuation of the struggle from the 1960s, but as a new chapter in that story. He reached out to younger leaders, both giving them the wisdom of his experiencing, and listening to their own stories. […] We may be losing our living memory of the events that first brought John Lewis to the attention of the nation, but John Lewis saw that America is still expanding its ranks of Black leaders—and, unfortunately, the ranks of those who have seen firsthand that peaceful protest is still met with violence. If the Congress is in need of a new conscience, there are a million progressive, young Black women and men ready to take on that role.

    As he often does, President Barack Obama may have summed it up the best. “John Lewis,” said Obama, “loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise.”

    Donald Trump has not yet commented on Congressman Lewis’ passing. Hopefully, it stays that way.


    Trump is playing golf today. Others in his administration have issued anodyne statements, (“civil rights icon” and so forth), and someone got it together enough to order the flag lowered to half mast.

  104. says

    One of my favorite statements about John Lewis:

    “In the face of what John considered the evils of segregation, he was fearless,” said longtime SNCC activist Courtland Cox.

    This is from the past, but it is still good:

    “Generations from now,” Obama said when awarding him a Medal of Freedom in 2011, “when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind — an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.”

    And here is what that villainous canker-boil Trump said in 2017:

    All talk, talk, talk — no action or results.

  105. KG says

    An interesting Covid-19 story out of the UK. Two medical academics, Yoon K Loke and Carl Heneghan, the latter head of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford (which as far as I can tell has done some good work), has claimed that Covid-19 deaths are being overcounted in England (specifically, England), because Public Health England counts anyone who has had a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 at any time as a Covid-19 death if they die. They point out that deaths attributed to Covid-19 outside hospital now make up the bulk of Covid-19 attributed deaths in England, and suggest a lot of them are just old people dying as usual (I paraphrase). The other 3 parts of the UK don’t do this – in Scotland there’s a 28-day cutoff after a test. The UK government has leapt on this to stop publishing daily death figures while an investigation takes place. Now Loke and Heneghan have a point – likely some of the deaths had nothing to do with Covid-19. But how many? And how many that do are missed because of a cutoff, as used in Scotland? We don’t know. We do know that Covid-19 can cause widespread damage in survivors, and that even in “mild” cases symptoms can persist for months. Tellingly, Loke and Heneghan’s own graph shows that the out-of-hospital deaths attributed to Covid-19 have declined more or less in parallel with the hospital ones. Why should this be so, if in fact they have nothing to do with Covid-19? If we look at total deaths in England and Wales (scroll down to figure 1), we see that there’s no reason to expect any marked decline in total deaths over the period in the year Loke and Heneghan’s graph covers. The work has also been leapt on by the usual anti-lockdown right-wingers and covidiots in the UK – I forbear to link to any of them, but they are easily found.
    /tbc, because I’m not sure what the limit on links is.

  106. says

    From Wonkette: “Anti-Maskers Are Crocheting Useless Spite Masks To Own The Libs”


    One Etsy listing for a pattern for a crocheted “anti-mask” mask (pictured above) says: [See the link for the photo]

    Make your own Anti Mask! Stylish, breathable and don’t protect you from a darn thing! Masks required? No problem! Breath free while making a statement.

    […] The hilarious thing about this is that the pattern is, according to buyers, super difficult (it doesn’t look difficult but sometimes you can’t tell, I guess?) […]

    Even if it were not a crappy pattern, I think it would probably take about two hours to make if you hadn’t made it before. Imagine taking two hours out of your life to spite crochet a face mask that doesn’t work!

    So naturally a bunch of people just bought the premade versions […]

    The reviews for those are a real prize as well, and will make you want to pull the covers over your head and scream I HATE EVERYONE into your pillow. […]

    “Beautiful! I ordered for my husband and myself. I am pregnant and these masks make it so I can go to my ultrasound appointment and still breath. Thanks!”

    There’s also a lace “anti-mask” being sold on Etsy, if you’re going for that “incredibly stupid but maybe also sexy look?” “Rock this anti-mask mask so you can still breathe, appease the sheep and get your groceries at the same time.”

    These aren’t the only people doing this. One man filmed a video of himself going into a Florida Walmart wearing a mesh mask meant for paintball that doesn’t actually do anything, to prove the mask wearing is all about “compliance.”

    […] “Just had a cup of coffee and a two cans of Goya beans! Take that, libs!” […]


    I despair. Too much stupidity for one day. The last comment is from KW Miller, a guy who is running for Congress in Florida.

  107. KG says

    /contd from #146

    I should have mentioned – we also know not all fatal cases of Covid-19 are confirmed by a test, even now.

    Heneghan at least “has form” in this area. In April, he suggested that Covid-19 infections in the UK had peaked before the lockdown was imposed on March 23 (there was already some advice to avoid unnecessary contacts, and undoubtedly some changes in public behaviour, from about March 16), and that therefore the lockdown had been unnecessary. He also praised Sweden for “holding its nerve”. Sweden now has death rates an order of magnitude higher than Norway, Denmark and Finland, without aapparently having benefitted much if at all economically; and of course the experience of the USA, and many other countries, has shown that relaxing lockdowns, unless done with great caution, leads to renewed growth in cases and deaths. Heneghan’s claim depended on working back from what he claimed was the peak of deaths on April 8, assuming the average time from positive test to death (among those who died) was 3 weeks (21 days is the cutoff he now suggests). But looking again at the ONS link from above (scroll to figure 2), we can see that the peak of both Covid-19-attributed deaths, and total excess-over-expected deaths, came at least 10 days later, completely refuting his claim according to his own method. AFAIK, he’s never acknowledged this, nor the evidence that lockdowns were indeed necessary, and have saved many lives. On May 20, he predicted that there would be days in June of no Covid-19 deaths in the UK. Even just counting deaths in hospital of people tested and diagnosed, there have been no such days yet. A regular associate of Heneghan, Tom Jefferson, also of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), has also made the bizarre claim that SARS-Cov-2 did not originate in China, or anywhere else in particular, but had been waiting around everywhere until some unspecified conditions were right for it to emerge. I think (but I’m not sure) Heneghan agrees with this. Jefferson’s claim is based on findings of the virus in sewage systems outwith China before the epidemic in Wuhan emerged, but AFAIK, none of these findings predate the earliest Wuhan case (in November 2019), and the sequencing of viruses from multiple sites indicates an origin in that area. In short, the CEBM seems to be a Centre for Covid-19 Contrarianism.

    Heneghan has also been involved in controversy over the treatment of transgender children. His original article (he’s editor-in-chief of the BMJ for evidence-based medicine) is here. Again, his article was leapt on by those you might expect, in this case, the transphobisphere. I can’t help suspecting that Professor Heneghan is perhaps not as devoid of bias, or as capable of the unbiased consideration of evidence, as he might like to think.

  108. blf says

    Mandatory mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces starts on Monday here in France. I don’t know much details (yet), ranging the technical matter of what is / isn’t an enclosed public space to how it will be enforced, whether or not there will be fines, and so on. Masks are already mandatory on public transport and in certain other situations (e.g., in restaurants: All staff, and all customers indoors when not sitting (eating)). The rule is already in effect in part of France (Mayenne, I think) which has an uncomfortable rise in cases.

    Whilst looking for some (English-language) details, I did find a partial(?) plausible answer to the mystery “why the big delay between announcement and implementation?” Originally, mandatory masks wasn’t going to be until August-ish, but that got accelerated last week, in part due to the (slowly) rising R-number (now c.1.1 (as I recall)). According to the article — which I won’t link to and does not cite its sources — the authorities wanted to ensure the logistics were in place in the more remote, rural, and improvised areas. Despite there being a surplus of masks now available in France, it does strike me as plausible they aren’t universally available, such as in some of the cited areas.

    I don’t completely trust the site where I found that brief explanation, it part because it has, in the past, struck me as one of those badly infected with the “all English-speaking expats in France live in Paris, have a cottage in Provence, are wealthy (and usually retired), and pay in Roubles” disease.

  109. blf says

    Lynna@147, That reminds me of an incident during lockdown here in France, when I was contemplating how to deal with my hedgehog-swallowed-sideways beard and also wear a mask. I did some searching for beard-friendly masks. I now cannot remember how many I found, but one site in particular had me both amused and enraged: They were selling the masks as a Covid-19 precaution, when the masks very clearly were not: The masks were a loose mesh you could easily see through; the masks would catch / stop a droplet only if one carefully aimed… and the model wasn’t wearing it correctly in any case, covering only the mouth (and neatly trimmed beard), but not the nose.

    From memory, the “mask” looked similar to the hairnets / beardnets some kitchen staff wear in restaurants. (I do not know if it was such a beardnet “repurposed” for making a few bucks off the pandemic or not.)

  110. says

    Cross posted from PZ’s “I’ve had about enough of 2020” thread.

    Here is a good explanation, (an explanation, not an excuse — DHS is exploiting loopholes in order to engage in all kinds of fuckery in Portland):

    […] The Federal Protective Service is the federal police agency with jurisdiction over federal buildings and other federal facilities and property around the country. There’s nothing particularly controversial or surprising about this. When you go to a federal court house and see police you probably know that they’re not from the local police department. They’re federal officers. The FPS has been housed within the Department of Homeland Security since the Department was created in 2002.

    Unconfirmed political appointees at DHS (which include the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary and the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection) say that the FPS in Portland and other cities has been overwhelmed by ‘violent agitators’ so they’ve sent in CPB, ICE and other federal police agencies housed within DHS to support FPS’s mission and, critically, under FPS’s jurisdiction. In other words, in their view, it’s really not ICE of CPB. These are just other federal officers supporting FPS since it’s overwhelmed. The jurisdiction of FPS is being used as a hook or loophole to give CBP and ICE police powers over citizens in American cities for purported crimes entirely unrelated to immigration enforcement. […]


    As Josh Marshall said:

    […] CPB and ICE are among the most aggressively politicized branches of federal law enforcement and heavily supportive of the President’s policies. They are also accustomed to and indeed trained to deal with people with few civil or political rights and little ability to invoke the few rights they have. The specific officers deployed in support of FPS aren’t even regular CBP and ICE officers. They’re the immigration equivalent of SWAT teams. The acting head of CBP openly says they won’t wear name tags or numbers because this would allegedly put them and their families at risk from Antifa. In other words, they’re explicitly invoking the Antifa hysteria one sees on Fox News and right wing media to justify what are commonly understood as secret police tactics. […]

  111. says

    blf @150, yeah. Way too much mask ignorance is being passed around on the internet. As far as your beard goes, maybe you could wear a face shield and a surgical mask and call that good enough?

  112. says

    Follow-up to comment 145:

    And here is what that villainous canker-boil Trump said in 2017:
    “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”

    Trump actually said more than that:

    Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”

    Today, in a tweet posted after 2 p.m., Trump claimed to be “saddened” and he tweeted that he sends “prayers.”

    Meanwhile, Joe Biden, responded more appropriately, and earlier:

    Joe Biden, lauded Lewis as a “moral compass,” in a statement issued Saturday morning.

    “He absorbed the force of human nature’s cruelty during the course of his life,” Biden wrote, “and the only thing that could finally stop him was cancer.”

    In a nod to recent protests, Biden added that “peaceful marchers for racial and economic justice around the world who are asking where we go from here” should follow Lewis’ lead.

    Link to Joe Biden’s complete statement.


    John’s life reminds us that the most powerful symbol of what it means to be an American is what we do with the time we have to make real the promise of our nation — that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally. Through the beatings, the marches, the arrests, the debates on war, peace, and freedom, and the legislative fights for good jobs and health care and the fundamental right to vote, he taught us that while the journey toward equality is not easy, we must be unafraid and never cower and never, ever give up.

  113. says

    Things were going fairly well in Portland before Trump sent his gestapo in there to make things worse.

    From the New York Times:

    […] Last Saturday, the crowd was 100 or so. It was very chill—nothing going on beyond the now-normal occupation of the Justice Center. And feds came out grabbing people seemingly at random and beating people with sticks. There was the kid who got shot in the head and his skull was fractured. […]

    Commentary from Mark Sumner:

    […] The federal forces didn’t just shoot an unarmed student in the head. They shot the relationship between the police and the protesters. They blew away an already tentative sense of cause and effect. They made it clear that there are no rules. Anyone could be hurt at any time for any thing. Or nothing.

    This is not accidental. In both the protests in Washington D. C. and what’s going on in Portland, the forces sent in by Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and acting Director of Homeland Security Chad Wolf are people completely untrained in dealing with either public demonstrations or even normal law enforcement. These are ass-kickers, and they’ve been sent in to kick ass.

    They are not there to make things better. They are very, very much there to make things worse.

    And they’re being successful. Early on in the sequence of protests in Portland, a man called “Legend” started providing free food to protesters. His efforts got him tear gassed, but the community response ended up allowing him to create an always-open spot where anyone—protester, homeless, or just hungry—could come in for a free plate of food. The community rallied around him, local merchants provided supplies, voluntary contributions covered all the costs. Other services grew up around “Riot Ribs,” including free medical care, and even help in finding jobs and homes for those on the streets. But after the federal forces smashed the unspoken agreement between the police and protesters, the location was stormed, Legend and everyone else involved was driven away or arrested, and all the donated food was confiscated. A fence was put up to make sure no one could come back. The relationship between the police and protesters went way down. The chance of violence … through the roof.

    This is exactly the kind of outcome Trump is going for. It does Trump no good to have people sitting around sharing food, helping their community, and planning for the future. He needs there to be violence. So he, and Barr, and Wolf, are creating it. They have no intention on stopping with Portland. […]

    Fox News and right wing sources are already selling their audience on a vision of America in which blue states and cities are in “anarchy” and where violence “demands” a federal presence. […] They mean to make violence not just understandable, but inevitable. […]

    But the most important thing at the moment may be to elevate the videos and reports from those on the ground. To join in saying that this is unacceptable. And to make it clear to Donald Trump that you see what he is doing. […]


  114. says

    Trump administration seeking to block funding for CDC, contact tracing and testing in new relief bill: report

    The Trump administration is attempting to block billions of dollars for contact tracing, additional testing and other coronavirus mitigation efforts that would potentially be included in Congress’ next coronavirus relief package […]

    […] the administration is also trying to block billions in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that GOP senators want to give the agency as it continues to battle COVID-19 on the frontlines.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled this week that Senate Republicans’ version of a new COVID-19 relief package could be unveiled this coming week, as both the Senate and the House return to session.


    From The Washington Post:

    The Trump administration is trying to block billions of dollars for states to conduct testing and contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill, people involved in the talks said Saturday.

    The administration is also trying to block billions of dollars that GOP senators want to allocate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and billions more for the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic at home and abroad, the people said.

    The administration’s posture has angered some GOP senators, the officials said, and some lawmakers are trying to push back and ensure that the money stays in the bill. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal confidential deliberations, cautioned that the talks were fluid and the numbers were in flux. […]

    Negotiations are expected to kick off with increased urgency because of the rapid growth of cases — and steady uptick in deaths — in the United States. The number of cases began falling in April but accelerated sharply after Memorial Day, shattering records in the past two weeks.

    […] the conflict between Trump administration officials and Senate Republicans on money for testing and other priorities is creating a major complication even before bipartisan negotiations get under way. Some lawmakers are trying to reach a deal quickly, as enhanced unemployment benefits for millions of Americans are set to expire in less than two weeks.

    One person involved in the talks said Senate Republicans were seeking to allocate $25 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing, but that certain administration officials want to zero out the testing and tracing money entirely. […]

    Trump and other White House officials have been pushing for states to own more of the responsibility for testing and have objected to creating national standards, at times seeking to minimize the federal government’s role.

    The last major coronavirus spending bill Congress approved, in April, included $25 billion to increase testing and also required the Health and Human Services Department to release a strategic testing plan. The agency did so in May, but the plan mainly reasserted the administration’s insistence that states — not the federal government — should take the lead on testing. […]

    As it currently stands, the main bottleneck to a big ramp-up in testing is less technical than the White House’s own intransigence.” […] [Trump is to blame.]

    The administration is also seeking to zero out $10 billion in new funding for the CDC in the upcoming bill, while slashing spending for the Pentagon and State Department related to foreign aid, the person said.

    Trump has been skeptical of State Department spending and foreign aid generally, but it was unclear why the Trump administration would seek to block money for the Pentagon for a variety of coronavirus-related expenses such as reimbursing contractors for providing paid leave to employees. […]


    Incompetence and perfidy.

  115. blf says

    Breitbart Editor Warns US Will Have ‘Black Lives Matter Administration’ if Trump Not Reelected. Fairly standard facist rant.

    DeAnna Lorraine Claims That God Does Not Want Us Wearing Masks:

    During a livestream broadcast yesterday, Trump cultist, QAnon conspiracy theorist, and failed congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine warned her viewers that God does not want them wearing masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

    After saying that she doesn’t want any kind of vaccine ever, Lorraine declared she will absolutely not receive any eventual COVID-19 vaccine because it will be full of mouse genes and robotic nanoparticles.

    I don’t want robotic nanoparticles in my body, she said. We don’t want any of that crap.

    [… fundie-tinted lunacy about wearing masks…]

    A single robotic nanoparticle would increase the number of functioning brain cells in that loon by several orders of magnitude.

  116. blf says

    Although this Grauniad opinion column is specific to teh NKofE, it applies in various forms elsewhere — sadly, probably just about everywhere — The ‘digital strip search’ has gone, but rape survivors still live in fear. The “digital strip search” is teh NKofE policegoon practice of demanding rape victims, including children, hand over their mobile phones; if they refused, the case was dropped (Police in England and Wales dropping rape inquiries when victims refuse to hand in phones). From the opinion column:

    What is it going to take to get rid of the enduring “good girls / bad girls” rape narrative? Controversial consent forms allowing police to examine the mobile phones of rape complainants have been scrapped, little more than a year after they were introduced. These “digital strip searches” were dropped after a lengthy, complex fight, culminating in a legal threat from two survivors whose case was taken on by the Centre for Women’s Justice and funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, arguing that the forms were unlawful, discriminatory and intrusive.

    Rape survivors in the UK now owe a huge debt of thanks to the anonymous women, “Courtney” and “Olivia”, who brought the case despite having their own assaults and their aftermath to deal with. Courtney’s rape case was dropped when she refused to hand over her phone. The police demanded seven years of irrelevant data that predated the rape of Olivia. She said: “The police have repeatedly said to the press that they only pursue reasonable lines of inquiry. This is untrue.”

    The forms will now be withdrawn and “replaced” by August. Replaced by what? Let’s keep an eye on that. The notably low number of rape cases making it to court — and even worse conviction rates — continues to be a national scandal. In this shameful context, how were “digital strip searches” of survivors, spanning years, ever considered a good idea? Obviously, anyone accused of rape deserves justice. However, what does this have to do with, say, a survivor’s three-year-old “sext” to another man or a five-day-old photograph of them wearing a bustier to a party?

    Yet this is what women continue to face: a culture that not only demands proof of rape, but also that survivors prove that they were “good girls” who didn’t “deserve” to be raped and not “bad girls” who were “asking for it”.

    In this way, we are plunged straight back into the archaic mindset that decrees women in miniskirts, or women walking about late at night, or women with any kind of sexual agency or social life at all, somehow colluded in their own assaults. […]

    […] Will there be a miracle in August or will rape survivors continue to live in fear that their lifestyles / characters could end up ludicrously over-scrutinised and used against them?

    Until sexual violent crime is judged on the assault and not on the victim, the good girl / bad girl deserving / undeserving narratives of rape culture aren’t going anywhere.

  117. tomh says

    GitHub, the world’s largest open-source software site, just had mounds of data stored in the permafrost chamber of an old coal mine deep in an Arctic mountain for 1,000 years
    Business Insider

    GitHub just stored a full archive of all current public repository data in a frozen Norwegian mountain.

    Dubbed the GitHub Arctic Code Vault, the project was designed “to preserve open-source software for future generations” for the next 1,000 years.

    The code was officially stashed not only inside the mine but even further inside a chamber “deep inside hundreds of meters of permafrost.”

    Don’t you feel better now?

  118. says

    KG @ #146/148, thank you for that information. I had seen references to this in the Guardian liveblog and it seemed suspect but without the background I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The idea that the number of people being diagnosed with COVID and dying shortly thereafter of completely unrelated causes is significant enough to matter in the death statistics seems highly implausible. To ignore this and the other empirical issues you raise smacks of an agenda.

    A regular associate of Heneghan, Tom Jefferson, also of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), has also made the bizarre claim that SARS-Cov-2 did not originate in China, or anywhere else in particular, but had been waiting around everywhere until some unspecified conditions were right for it to emerge. I think (but I’m not sure) Heneghan agrees with this. Jefferson’s claim is based on findings of the virus in sewage systems outwith China before the epidemic in Wuhan emerged, but AFAIK, none of these findings predate the earliest Wuhan case (in November 2019), and the sequencing of viruses from multiple sites indicates an origin in that area.

    Also, wouldn’t they have to show the existence of virus in sewage systems outside of China prior to the existence of the virus in sewage systems in China to even try to make the argument?

    I can’t help suspecting that Professor Heneghan is perhaps not as devoid of bias, or as capable of the unbiased consideration of evidence, as he might like to think.

    In short, the CEBM seems to be a Centre for Covid-19 Contrarianism.


  119. says

    AJ – “Israel: Netanyahu corruption trial resumes amid anti-gov’t anger”:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial has resumed as the long-serving leader faces mounting discontent over his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

    The trial at the Jerusalem District Court resumed on Sunday after a two-month break. The court had ruled in May that Netanyahu, the first serving Israeli prime minister to go on trial, would not have to be present during the proceedings.

    Netanyahu, 70, is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals in which he is alleged to have received lavish gifts from billionaire friends and exchanged regulatory favours with media moguls for more agreeable coverage of himself and his family.

    Netanyahu denies wrongdoing, painting the accusations as a media-orchestrated witch-hunt pursued by a biased law enforcement system.

    Bribery charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail, while fraud and breach of trust carry a prison sentence of up to three years.

    The corruption trial resumes as Netanyahu faces widespread anger over his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

    While the country appeared to have tamped down a first wave of infections, a hasty reopening sent infections soaring.

    But Netanyahu and his emergency government – formed with the goal of dealing with the crisis – appeared to neglect the numbers and moved forward with other policy priorities and its reopening plans.

    It has since paused them and even reimposed restrictions, including a weekend only lockdown set to begin later this week.

    Netanyahu’s government has been criticised for its response to the new wave, which has seen daily cases rise to nearly 2,000. It has been slammed for its handling of the economic fallout of the crisis.

    The anger has sparked protests over the past few weeks that have culminated in violent clashes with police.

    On Saturday, police used water cannon to disperse demonstrators around Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence. In Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub, thousands gathered to demand better state aid to businesses hurt in the health crisis.

  120. says

    WaPo quoted in Lynna’s #157:

    One person involved in the talks said Senate Republicans were seeking to allocate $25 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing, but that certain administration officials want to zero out the testing and tracing money entirely. […]

    The administration is also seeking to zero out $10 billion in new funding for the CDC in the upcoming bill, while slashing spending for the Pentagon and State Department related to foreign aid, the person said.

    Trump and his doomclowns have to go.

  121. says

    From blf’s #158:

    Breitbart Editor Warns US Will Have ‘Black Lives Matter Administration’ if Trump Not Reelected.

    Their strategy of threatening voters with hugely popular outcomes if Biden wins is an interesting one. The other day, Nikki Haley tweeted:

    If Biden wins in November, it’s clear that Warren will significantly shape his approach — on domestic policy in particular — whether or not her name’s on the ticket.

    I’m not sure what response she was expecting, but it was overwhelmingly this.

  122. says

    NBC – “Roger Stone calls Black radio host a racial slur on air”:

    Roger Stone, friend and former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, called a Black radio host a racial slur on air Saturday while the two debated Stone’s federal conviction.

    Stone’s sentence was commuted by Trump on July 10, just days before he was scheduled to surrender for 40 months of incarceration after he was convicted of witness tampering and making false statements to Congress as it investigated Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.

    On Saturday night, Stone was grilled by radio host Morris W. O’Kelly on “the Mr. Mo’Kelly Show” on KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles. The phone interview was broadcast and streamed.

    Stone claimed his conviction last year was the result of bias against himself and the president.

    “It was a jury of my political opponents,” Stone said.

    O’Kelly pushed back and challenged the idea that Stone did not get a fair trial or that the evidence did not clearly show his transgressions.

    The host also suggested that not only was Stone not a victim of biased justice, but that he likely benefitted from knowing the president.

    “There are thousands of people treated unfairly daily,” O’Kelly said. “Hell, your number just happened to come up in the lottery. I’m guessing it was more than just luck, Roger, right?”

    Stone was silent, then it sounded like he was either away from the phone or covering it up when he said, “I don’t really feel like arguing with this negro.”

    “I’m sorry, what was that?” O’Kelly responded. “Roger? I’m sorry, what did you say?”

    Stone denied calling him that, saying on air, “I did not. You’re out of your mind. You’re out of your mind.”

    Stone could not be reached for comment Saturday night….

    Link to the radio show atl. The comment comes just after the 12-minute mark.

  123. says

    Mo’Kelly’s description (from the link atl):

    …To that end, at one point in the conversation Stone became so irritated at my line of questioning he almost ejected from the conversation altogether. You can even hear him CLEARLY say to someone else in the room with him…

    “I can’t believe I’m arguing with this Negro.”

    (Ain’t this some shit.)

    The audio is, what it is. Stone could have reached for any pejorative, but unfortunately went there. He denies saying it…but the audio is, what it is. At the end of it all, despite never having introduced race into the conversation, ever…Stone offered an unfiltered, unvarnished one-sentence expression of how he saw the journalist interviewing him.

    He didn’t see me as a journalist, not as a professional, not a radio host…but a “Negro” first and foremost. Thirty years as an entertainment professional, twenty of them in radio. “Negro” was the first pejorative uttered. The low-calorie version of the N-Word.

    The audio is, what it is and it’s mine. The subsequent conclusions are yours.

  124. blf says

    In quickly reading the Grauniad’s current live ranting lunatic blog (link is to start), this snippet struck me (quoted in full):

    Trump is asked if the Confederate flag is racist.

    When people proudly have their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the south, says Trump. He then equates Black Lives Matters flags with Confederate flags, a staggering and offensive claim given that the latter represents a system that thrived on slavery.

  125. says

    From the link SC provided in comment 176:

    “Ready? Will you please get me the mortality rate? Kayleigh is right here… I heard we have the best mortality rate” – the WH just flat out made up a chart to create a false impression that the US has the best mortality rate in the world during Trump’s interview w/ Chris Wallace

    “They have the sniffles … many of those cases shouldn’t even be cases” — Trump is still downplaying the severity of contracting Covid-19

    “It is what it is” — Trump on the mounting US coronavirus death toll [Trump goes on to blame China.]

    “I’ll be right eventually” — Trump defends his comment that the coronavirus will “disappear” on its own. [No, he’ll never be right.]

    “I don’t believe in that … masks cause problems too” — Trump on possibility of a national mask mandate (masks do not cause problems) [He doesn’t believe that if everyone wore masks the number of coronavirus cases in the USA would be less. He’s an idiot.]

    “When people proudly have their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag. It represents the south. They like the south. People right now like the south. I say it’s freedom of, of, many things” — Trump

    “I don’t care what the military says” — Trump dismisses military’s support for renaming bases named after Confederate generals. “We won two world wars. Beautiful world wars. That were vicious and horrible. And we won them out of Fort Bragg, we won them out of all of these forts, and now they want to throw those names away” — Trump

    “First of all, I’m not losing. Because those are fake polls” — Trump dismisses a Fox News poll showing Biden up by 8 points

    “The Democrats are purposely keeping their schools closed, keeping their states closed. I called Michigan. I want to have a big rally in Michigan. Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Michigan?” – Trump dismisses health concerns, accuses Dems of conspiring against him

    “I took the [cognitive] test too, when I heard you passed it. It’s not the hardest test. It shows a picture and it says, ‘what’s that,’ and it’s an elephant.” — Chris Wallace pushes back on Trump hyping the cognitive test he passed at Walter Reed

    “Religion will be gone” — Trump offers some absurd fear-mongering about what will happen if Biden is elected

    “We’re signing a health care plan within two weeks. A full and complete health care plan, that the Supreme Court decision on DACA gave me the right to do” — Trump routinely cites a two week timeframe for new policy initiatives when he’s just making stuff up

    TRUMP: “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election.”

    WALLACE: “Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results?”

    TRUMP: “I have to see.”

    WALLACE: “Can you give a direct answer that you will accept the election?

    TRUMP: “I have to see.”

    WALLACE: “How will you regard your years as POTUS?”

    TRUMP: “I think I was very unfairly treated.”

    WALLACE: “But what about the good parts?”

    TRUMP: “I have done more than any POTUS in history in the first 3.5 years … here’s the bottom line: I’ve been very unfairly treated.”

    If Trump thought his pre-taped interview with Chris Wallace went well, he would’ve promoted it on his Twitter feed as he has with countless previous Fox News interviews. But he hasn’t done that. Draw your own conclusions.

    From readers comments:

    Only 1 flag represents the south and its the same that represents the north, east and west.

    The confederate flag DOES NOT represent the south. I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life and that flag has nothing to do with the modern day south. It is absolutely a symbol of racism.

  126. says

    Follow-up to comment 179.

    […] [Trump] then claimed, without evidence, that he has “other polls” showing that he’s leading, before going on to slamming Biden because he “can’t put two sentences together.”

    “They wheeled him out, he goes up, he repeats, they ask him questions, he reads the teleprompter and then he goes back into his basement,” Trump said. “You tell me the American people want to have that in an age where we are in trouble with other nations that are looking to do numbers on us.” […]

    Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Nevada? We’re not allowed to have rallies in these Democrat-run states. […]


  127. says

    And yet another example of a white policeman unjustly harassing a black man:

    Virginia state trooper Charles Hewitt is under investigation after a video of him violently harassing and threatening a Black driver, Derrick Thompson, went viral online. According to NBC News 12, the incident took place in 2019—pre-COVID-19 pandemic—and action was not taken until video, shot by Thompson himself during the encounter—found new life online in recent days. Hewitt has been placed on leave pending this new investigation of the year old example of abuse of power. According to the police, the incident began with Hewitt pulling Thompson over because his tags were expired. What ensued is textbook police racism and overreach.

    In the video, which you can watch below, Thompson can be seen talking to the camera, explaining that the police officer (Hewitt), flanked by other Virginia state troopers is reaching into his car and unlocking his car. “They just illegally entered my car.” From there, the tatted-up, overgrown Hewitt, with his angry red face, illustrates virtually everything wrong with law enforcement’s interactions with Black people, and specifically Black men.

    While Thompson speaks to the camera in a very calm voice, a voice that most people would be hard-pressed to exhibit in a similar situation, Hewitt leans down and puts his face inches from Thompson, saying “Take a look at me. I‘m a fucking specimen right here, buddy. You have gotten on my last nerve.” It is at this point that Thompson, as calm as a saint, explains, “Sir, you are on camera, I have my hands up. I am no threat to the officers.”

    As Thompson is saying he is no threat to the officers—something that is very easily understood by anyone listening or watching the video—Hewitt interrupts him to say “You’re gonna get your ass whopped in front of Lord and all Creation.”

    […] there is no context in which Hewitt isn’t terrorizing Thompson. At this point, Thompson swivels the camera so that you can see that not only is there a state trooper behind Hewitt, there is at least one other officer on the passenger side of his door. According to Virginia police, Hewitt smelled marijuana in the car. Shockingly, nothing even resembling marijuana was found in the car.

    At this point, Hewitt tells Thompson he is giving him “one more chance,” telling him “you can film the whole thing!” Thompson continues speaking in a calm voice, saying he feels “threatened,” and “unsafe.” Remarkably, Thompson is able to keep his thoughts collected as he narrates exactly what is going wrong in this situation. “I have just been threatened by a law officer, as two other officers stand by and say absolutely nothing. Willing to participate. My passenger door was opened. My driver’s door was opened.”

    Thompson explains that he is not “resisting,” and Hewitt begins taking off his seat belt, and then grabbing one of his raised hands, to which Thompson politely asks Hewitt to “please stop touching me.” This sets off the possibly supplement-soaked Hewitt to scream at Thompson while pointing his fisted finger into Thompson’s face. “I’m giving you to the count of three! Don’t do this. Don’t do it.”

    At this point, Hewitt says that “now you’re being arrested for disobeying an officer.” To which Thompson repeats incredulously, “Obeying a law officer? Sir, I have been unlawfully detained.” It is at this point that the true sociopathy of Hewitt’s actions are revealed as Hewitt begins counting to three, and at the count of two, points to the camera, smiling, and saying “Watch the show, folks,” as he forcibly wrestles and grabs Thompson around the neck, and before the camera falls down Thompson can be heard saying “My life is in danger.” While there is no more image, the camera continues recording audio of this arrest. You can hear Hewitt yelling “How do you like that? How do you like that?” and telling Thompson that he is resisting.

    According to Thompson’s lawyer, Joshua Erlich, while there were no drugs found in his car, and expired tags are a moving violation, Thompson was convicted of obstructing justice. Erlich told NBC 12 that Thompson “had lacerations to his head that were bleeding profusely. He also had some injuries to his legs. … He asked several times for medical treatment and did not receive it.”


    Video available at the link. While Derrick Thompson is outside of the car, being attacked by the Virginia state trooper, you can hear him saying, “I am not resisting. I am not resisting sir. My hands are behind my back.”

  128. says

    From the New York Times:

    […] A team in the White House led by President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, met daily on the crisis, but the ultimate goal was shifting responsibility. “They referred to this as ‘state authority handoff,’ and it was at once a catastrophic policy blunder and an attempt to escape blame for a crisis that had engulfed the country — perhaps one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in generations,” write Michael D. Shear, Noah Weiland, Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman and David E. Sanger.

    As PZ highlighted in his thread, Deborah Birx’s reputation will never recover, the New York Times also pointed out:

    For scientific affirmation, they turned to Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the sole public health professional in the Meadows group. A highly regarded infectious diseases expert, she was a constant source of upbeat news for the president and his aides, walking the halls with charts emphasizing that outbreaks were gradually easing. The country, she insisted, was likely to resemble Italy, where virus cases declined steadily from frightening heights.

    More from the New York Times: Over a critical period beginning in mid-April, President Trump and his team convinced themselves that the outbreak was fading, that they had given state governments all the resources they needed to contain its remaining “embers” and that it was time to ease up on the lockdown.


    […] Birx’s role in delivering deliberately upbeat information to Trump (in the face of dire negative news directly to the contrary) played a major role in Trump’s decision-making […]

    Not surprisingly, these were the exact types of messages guaranteed to please Trump (who from Times investigation was clearly too uninterested and self-absorbed to interpret any data himself). […]

    The results of this deliberate exercise in self-delusion manifested themselves in an overall attempt to minimize the necessity of lockdowns and social distancing, with the catastrophic results we are now witnessing today.

    […] Trump’s policy was not simply a matter of misjudgments, but “a deliberate strategy that he would stick doggedly to as evidence mounted that, in the absence of strong leadership from the White House, the virus would continue to infect and kill large numbers of Americans.”

    It was also a strategy designed solely with Trump’s re-election prospects in mind […]

    The Times’ report includes several facts not previously disclosed. First, nearly the entirety of the administration’s policy was formulated by aides with no public health or scientific background whatsoever. Second, Trump’s perverse “campaign” against testing was intentional and in fact directly related to shifting wholesale responsibility to individual states so that he, Trump, would not be blamed for the catastrophe. Third, the silencing of Fauci through limiting his media appearances was deliberate as they were afraid he would “go off message” and start telling Americans the truth about skyrocketing infection rates; and fourth, California’s governor was told by administration officials that if he wanted bulk deliveries of nasal swabs to test for Covid-19 infections, he would have to call Trump personally and thank him before they would be delivered.

    The article also confirms that it was Jared Kushner, as well as administration officials acting on his cues, who was largely influential at the federal level in depriving states of the number of tests necessary to adequately combat the virus. […]

    The Times article is a devastating portrait of a slow-motion train-wreck in the making, with the health and safety of the American public repeatedly treated as an afterthought to Donald Trump’s political fortunes.

    Unfortunately, as we now know, that train is now bearing down on all of us.


  129. blf says

    Follow-up to @149, from the Grauniad’s current main live pandemic blog:

    The French government has announced that it will issue a €135-euro (£122) fine to people who flout its decree to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

    That answers one of my questions in @149 (and yes, I approve).

    Two of the things which are bothering me at the moment locally are the outdoor markets (social distancing has collapsed and there are very few masks), and the now-obvious influx of visitors / tourists.

    I also spent some time earlier today struggling with the appropriate French sites, and as far as I could figure out, whilst the local R is still <1 (good), there is an uptick(ing trend?) in the number of cases albeit a very low positivity rate (<1%). (Nationally, R is c.1.2 (not good); don’t recall the positivity.) I’ve no clear idea about test coverage, or contract tracing, locally or nationally.

  130. says

    Chris Wallace: You’ve been wrong a lot on coronavirus, claiming it will quickly disappear and go down to zero.

    Trump: “I will be right eventually…I’ll say it again, it’s going to disappear.”

    Trump blamed other people for his own false statements: “Everybody thought the summer it would go away and come back in the fall, well in the summer it came,” Trump said. “They used to say the heat, the heat was good for it and really knocks it out…They got that one wrong. They got a lot wrong. The World Health [Organization] got a tremendous amount wrong. They basically did whatever China wanted them to.”

    Trump is the guy who got all that wrong … repeatedly.

    More from Wallace, as he tried valiantly to correct Trump’s lie about testing being the main reason for the rise in coronavirus cases: “But sir, testing is up 37 percent,” Wallace said. “Cases are up 194 percent. It isn’t just that the testing has gone up, it’s that the virus has spread. The positivity rate has increased.”

  131. says

    How Munich Turned Its Coronavirus Outbreak Into a Scientific Study

    New Yorker link to an article by Elisabeth Zerofsky.

    […] In late March, the government of the state of Bavaria, which includes Munich, was trying to decide how to respond to what appeared to be an accelerating community spread of covid-19.

    Michael Hoelscher, the director of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at L.M.U., was involved in official debates about whether to impose a citywide lockdown. That, to him, was a foregone conclusion. […] What was less clear was how the city could effectively track the disease’s spread. Because so many cases of covid-19 appeared asymptomatic, as Hoelscher had first noted in a paper published in January, diagnostic testing alone would only provide a partial measurement. “So I said, ‘O.K., we need something,’ he told me. The only way to get an accurate measurement of the epidemic, he reasoned, was to implement wide-scale antibody testing. Within six hours, just before the lockdown was announced, on March 21st, he received a million euros from the government.

    […] Like many infectious-disease researchers of his generation, Hoelscher began his career working on H.I.V. and aids. […] (Deborah Birx, the coördinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was one of his collaborators.) […] The H.I.V. virus, his team discovered, was able to “hide” itself in the immune response, transcribing its genome into the cells. “So that’s an example where the antibody doesn’t help against it,” he said. “In history so far, we only have been able to produce or manufacture a vaccine if the natural immune response would be able to prevent a secondary infection.”

    […] sars-CoV-2 is obviously different. But it is also exhibiting unusual features. “It can affect multiple organs,” Hoelscher said. “Not only the lower respiratory tract. It can replicate in the upper respiratory tract, it can most likely replicate in different organs.” The course of the disease, the time that it remains in the body, is long, and in some cases, his team found, the immune response does not develop until nearly two months after an infection. “Absolutely surprising or frightening,” Hoelscher said, “is that there might be really some reason to believe that you cannot eliminate it from your body.”

    Not far from Hoelscher’s office, L.M.U.[Ludwig-Maximilians University] had set up a testing tent near the poplar trees of Leopoldstrasse […] Test subjects who preferred to have their blood drawn outside of their home could come here instead. […]

    The blood samples are delivered to a laboratory that Andreas Wieser, the study’s head virologist, set up in late March. […] The Roche and Euroimmun tests check for different immune responses to the virus, so that they can do a kind of “cross-sectional” examination to correct for some of the statistical unreliability still inherent in the antibody tests; by doubling up, Wieser gets a more accurate result. […]

    Locally run antibody studies, coördinated by the Robert Koch Institute, the German counterpart to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are being carried out across Germany in an orchestrated effort to construct an over-all picture of the disease’s penetration in the country. […] “We feel that there is an enormous number of questions that will only come after” the initial outbreak, Hoelscher told me: Do antibodies provide immunity? If so, for how long? Can people who’ve been infected become reinfected? […]

    According to Böhmer, Bavaria, with thirteen million inhabitants, is the only federal state in Germany with such a rapid-response task force; it was put in place in 2014, during the Ebola epidemic. Two days after the country confirmed its first case of covid-19, Böhmer’s team sent a group of doctors to Webasto to swab employees—fifteen more tested positive. Every high-risk contact at the company, which ended up being more than two hundred people, was placed into a strict two-week quarantine. “We were able to contain this outbreak,” Böhmer told me. “And that granted Germany, I think, two to three weeks of time for preparation.” […]

    With the biggest pharmaceutical industry in Europe (and a medical technology industry second only to the U.S.), Germany had developed its first diagnostic test in mid-January, and scaled up to a robust testing infrastructure by the end of February. But when it comes to containment, testing is only as good as the ability to follow up with swift tracing measures. This method was successful in Japan, for example, which, with its teams of contact-tracing “cluster busters,” has managed one of the lowest death rates in the world without resorting to draconian restrictions. […]

    Much speculation about the factors behind Germany’s relatively low death rate has pointed to high public-health spending. As a recent Deutsche Bank report observed, in many cases, the underlying and pre-existing conditions that, elsewhere, have led to bad outcomes with covid-19 are often diagnosed early and well treated in Germany. But robust access to health care can’t fully account for how little of the country’s I.C.U.-bed capacity, in the end, proved necessary. […]

    The government made a broad effort to encourage sick patients to first contact their primary-care doctors and to avoid overloading the hospitals. A friend who worked in the intensive-care unit at a Berlin hospital told me that, because the facility remained well under capacity, its doctors were able to spend several hours each day carefully tracking and calibrating the respiratory treatments of each individual patient. […] Many experts I spoke with speculated that the early containment efforts in Munich, and other cities, allowed Germany to stay in front of the virus’s spread rather than having to play catch-up. Lockdown came at the right moment.

    Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who has a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry, has been praised, both inside and outside Germany, for her focussed, apolitical, data-driven management of the pandemic. Even as regional leaders across Germany bickered over shutdown procedures, with some of them vying for national attention in the face of upcoming elections, Merkel effectively held them in line.

    OMG, that last paragraph above has me so fervently wishing that Angela Merkel was in charge of the coronavirus response in the USA. She is the polar opposite of Trump.

    [snipped more details about the response Merkel supervised]

    […] The protocol for the home visits is, unsurprisingly, strict. The priority is to prevent researchers from bringing anything in or taking anything out. They are instructed not to touch anything. One researcher reads aloud all the information requiring consent, while the other pulls on a gown and gloves. After the participants have signed off, the gloved researcher retrieves the papers and slips them into a plastic sleeve held out by the non-gloved researcher. The gloved researcher sets up the folding chair and lays out a protective sheet on top of the best surface available. […]

    More at the link.

  132. says

    More than 80 babies test positive for COVID-19 in one Texas county

    […] While many believe that the elderly are most susceptible to the virus and children are out of risk, new reports show otherwise.

    More than 80 toddlers under the age of two, with a majority younger than 1-years-old, tested positive for the coronavirus in a single Texas county, according to a local public health official. “These babies have not even had their first birthdays yet,” Annette Rodriguez, director of public health for Corpus Christi in Nueces County said Friday during a press conference. “Please help us to stop the spread of this disease. Stay social distanced from others; stay protected. Wear a mask when in public and for everyone else please do your best to stay home.” Rodriguez did not provide further information on the conditions of the babies outside of stating that fewer than 10 infants have been hospitalized.

    According to NBC News, on Friday Rodriguez initially said statistics showed 85 infants under 1-years-old having tested positive for the virus, by Saturday she clarified the total included children between the ages of one and two years old. Of the 85 infants who tested positive 52 are younger than one. […]

    Zanoni noted that while in April the city saw reports of three to five new cases a day, by July the seven-day average for the county was up to 357. Public officials told The Texas Tribune an increase in tourist and visitor activity on beachfronts could have contributed to an increase in cases. The city has reported more than 8,000 coronavirus cases and 82 deaths as a result of the virus, CNN reported.

    […] Nueces County Medical Examiner Adel Shaker told The TexasTribune last week that a baby boy, younger than 6 months old, tested positive for the virus and died last week. […]

    With the county reaching a 38 percent positivity rate for residents who test for coronavirus, Rodriguez emphasized the urgent need for residents to work with officials to lower the spread. […]

    According to data compiled by John Hopkins University, nearly 140,000 people have died in the U.S. as a result of COVID-19. As of this report, there have been at least 330,645 cases of coronavirus in Texas. At least 3,976 deaths have been reported in the state as a result of COVID-19.

  133. says

    Tweet o’ the day.

    (From the Navy veteran in #175 above, whose name is Christopher David.)

    His tweets today:

    Thanks for all the offers of support, but I’m good.

    I’m typing only with my left hand now, so will be slow to respond to all of you wonderful people.

    I plan to go back. This won’t stop me.


    My hand is pretty damaged. The hand surgeon splinted it for now, but it looks like plates, screws and/or pins await me on Friday.

    Since I’ve got so many followers now, I’d like to put in a plug for the USNA wrestling team.

    Please go watch them compete!

    Almost nobody used to come to our matches.

    I would really, really, really like to thank Tav. She’s my street medic angel who pulled me out of the park and took me to safety when I couldn’t see anything anymore. She stayed with me the whole time and then her and her friends drove me around to find an ambulance.

    She and her fellow medics are the real heroes here.

    I just wanted to thank her from the bottom of my heart.

    I’m exhausted and I haven’t slept in over 24 hours.

    I love you all, but I need to go take a nap.


  134. says

    CNN – “Son of federal judge killed after gunman opened fire at her New Jersey home”:

    The son of US District Court of New Jersey Judge Esther Salas has died after a gunman opened fire on her North Brunswick home Sunday, the top judge at the federal courthouse confirmed to CNN.

    Chief Judge Freda Wolfson told CNN late Sunday that Salas’ son Daniel Anderl, 20, was killed in the shooting and her husband, Mark Anderl, was injured. Salas was unharmed, Wolfson said.

    Both the US Marshals and FBI are investigating the shooting. Initial reports from law enforcement said Daniel Anderl opened the door with his father right behind him. The door opened to a hail of gunfire and the gunman fled, a law enforcement source told CNN.

    “We are looking for one subject,” the FBI said in a statement. “We are working closely with our state and local partners and will provide additional updates when available.”

    The gunman appeared to be wearing a FedEx uniform, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

    It is not yet known whether the gunman was a FedEx employee or someone posing to be an employee.

    Law enforcement has not been aware of any threats against the judge, the source told CNN. Right now investigators don’t know the motive.

    “Judge Salas and her family are in our thoughts at this time as they cope with this senseless act,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “This tragedy is our latest reminder that gun violence remains a crisis in our country and that our work to make every community safer isn’t done.”

    Democratic US Sen. Bob Menendez, who said he was proud to have recommended Judge Salas to former President Barack Obama, also issued a statement sending his prayers to the family.

    North Brunswick Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack told CNN over the phone Sunday night that Judge Salas’ husband Mark Anderl is “one of the most straight-up honest attorneys” he has dealt with.

    “He’s a very very exuberant, vibrant, one hundred percent pleasant person,” Womack said. “He loves to talk about his wife, and he loves to brag about his son, and how his son would excel in baseball, and how he was doing down in college in Washington … I’m just very sorry to see him going through this.”…

  135. says

    Here’s a link to the July 20 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    France has made it compulsory to wear face masks in all indoor public buildings from Monday under threat of fines for those who refuse.

    President Emmanuel Macron had announced the measure in his traditional 14 July Bastille Day address but said it would begin on 1 August. However, the government brought forward the regulation after concerns that the number of Covid-19 cases was on the increase.

    Masks will have to be work in banks, supermarkets, post offices and covered markets as well as all offices, buildings, commerces and establishments that receive the public. Masks are already obligatory on public transport. Anyone found without a mask or refusing to wear one will be fined €135.

    On Monday, health minister Olivier Véran justified the regulation saying there was a “worrying dynamic” in the spread of Covid-19.

    “We are seeing worrying signs of new outbreaks of the epidemic in certain places across the country that have led us to ‘harden’ our position regarding the health message,” Véran told FranceInfo on Monday.

    France went into a strict lockdown on 17 March that was only partially lifted on 11 May, then eased further in the following weeks as the number of Covid-19 cases continued to fall.

    The latest official figures from Friday show an increase of 834 new cases. The total number of reported deaths in France in hospitals and care homes is now 30,152, an increase of +14 on the previous day. New figures will be released today.

    However, a number of new clusters is causing worries of a new spike in Covid-19. Jean Castex, the prime minister of France, has said the government’s plans in the event of a second wave include targeted lockdowns in the most affected areas.

    “We are preparing for a second wave in order to preserve our economic and social life as much as possible,” Castex said after taking up office two weeks ago. “It’s the role of the state to prepare and anticipate. The coronavirus is still out there.”

    He added that an “urgent” lockdown would be introduced “if the number of daily positive cases doubles”.

    At the weekend, Castex said the French government had not ruled out re-closing its borders with Spain, where a new wave of Covid-19 has been reported. The border between the two countries was opened on 21 June.

  136. says

    More re France from the Guardian world liveblog:

    The authorities in France have reported 400 to 500 active coronavirus outbreak clusters but there are no signs of an imminent “second wave,” according to the health minister Olivier Veran, AFP reports.

    Many of the current virus clusters involve abattoirs or other contained professional settings such as old age homes, he said.

    Others had resulted from family reunions during the summer holidays.

    “At this point we are very far from a second wave,” Veran told Franceinfo radio, as face masks were made mandatory in all enclosed public spaces including shops, covered markets and administrative buildings.

    “The goal is not to worry people excessively, but to keep them on their guard,” he said.

    Nationwide the “R” number indicating the viral transmission rate now stands at 1.2, meaning 10 infected people will infect an additional 12 on average, according to the Sante Publique France health agency.

    But in some areas on the French mainland, the rate is much higher, with the southern Mediterranean region including Marseille and Nice now reporting a rate of 1.55.

    Brittany in western France stood at 2.6% – meaning 10 infected people could infect on average 26 more people.

    If the “worrying trends” continue the government will again consider regional lockdowns or even new nationwide confinement orders, Veran said, adding: “All options are on the table.”

  137. says

    “State Dept. whistleblower said they witnessed misconduct by @SecPompeo, but was blocked from further action by executive office & legal aides. Other officials continued supporting Pompeo’s behavior, a new document says. State IG Linick began an inquiry.”

    There are indications the accusations of misuse of resources went much deeper and involved activities related to Mr. Pompeo’s political career. Laws and federal rules prohibit government employees from using taxpayer resources for personal political activities.”

  138. says

    Just Security – “Portland’s Pretext: Barr’s Long History Manipulating Law to Put Federal Forces on U.S. Streets”:

    Attorney General Barr has been building his playbook for using federal forces against an unwilling state for decades. In an interview with the Miller Center in 2001, Barr explained his strategy for deploying federal troops to address unrest in the Virgin Islands after a major hurricane in 1989. At the time of the incident, Barr was an assistant attorney general and head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. He boasted that during this time he found a way to deploy federal forces based on a legal justification that appears to now being played out in Portland:

    Barr: We started quickly looking at the legal books. What authority do we have to go in there and start enforcing the law in St. Croix? We looked at some statutes, and we finally decided that without Presidential authority we could send down law enforcement people to defend the federal function. That is, we said, “People are interfering with the operation of our courts” and so on. I said, “We can send people down to defend the federal function, keep our courts open, and if they see any crime being committed in front of them, then, as law enforcement officers, they can make the arrest.” Our object was just to get federal law enforcement down there and play it by ear….

    …Basically we were claiming that there was breakdown, civil unrest that was interfering with the federal function. We found these old cases that said the federal government could go in there. This was without declaring martial law.

    The White House’s true concern in 1989 was not to defend the federal function of courts — but to quell widespread looting and disorder across the Virgin Islands. Barr bragged in his 2001 interview that he had found a way to get the federal forces “down there and then play it by ear” without having to declare martial law.

    As a side note: This was not the only time Barr boasted in the Miller Center interview about his ability to deploy military force by changing facts on the ground. The other example involved the president’s ability to use force abroad without congressional support.

  139. blf says

    From SC@196 and the AFP (via France24) France Says Up To 500 Virus Clusters But No ‘Second Wave’ Yet: “[I]n some areas on the French mainland, the rate is much higher, with the southern Mediterranean region including Marseille and Nice now reporting a rate of 1.55.”

    That’s exactly the part of France I’m in — well, between Marseille and Nice on the Mediterranean coast — and I’ve been whinging for some time now about low levels of mask wearing, the incoming visitors, the less-frequent social distancing, and the increasing absence of hand sanitizing points (none set up by the village and fewer and fewer outside the shops). At the moment, I do not know how effective the new rule requiring masks in enclosed public spaces is, as I haven’t been outside yet today to form my own impression. My suspicion is it won’t make a large difference to (most) of what I’m complaining about, since at this time of the year, almost everything is outside (nice weather, and too hot inside buildings, excepting cooled shops (where the masks are now mandatory)).

    I suspect the new rule shouldn’t have been “enclosed public spaces” — as an aside, several sources have noted that isn’t a defined term / phrase and could possibly be construed as not applying to churches — but “whenever & whereever social distancing is not possible” (excepting one’s own home and certain other situations), as is apparently the case in some other places.

  140. says

    Daily Beast – “Besieged Netanyahu Blames Israel’s Protests on Epstein Money Conspiracy Theory”:

    A perfect storm of grievances has enveloped Israel just as a second coronavirus lockdown appears inevitable and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems close to losing control of his government.

    Protests were held in more than 200 cities and highway junctions all across Israel on Saturday night, and on Sunday, Netanyahu said money from the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was funding the mounting demonstrations.

    Hard-liner Netanyahu heads a rickety coalition formed only in May with former rival Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief, following a year and a half in which Israelis went to the polls three times, never giving either leader enough support to form a workable government without the other.

    On Sunday morning, Netanyahu’s only comment about the rallies, which drew thousands in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, was to repeat a conspiracy theory that the Wexner Foundation, an American philanthropy, is funneling Epstein money to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, which he is using to “organize the protests.”

    Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the peaceful protesters, arresting 28.

    Netanyahu has reason to be rattled, and Israelis have reason to be frustrated: Since May 17, when it looked like the country had vanquished the coronavirus and a six-week lockdown was lifted, cases of COVID-19 have soared to previously unseen levels.

    Hospitals are filling up. Unemployment, which stood at 4 percent in early March, is at nearly 25 percent, and the government has no plan to help the unemployed or to rescue the economy. But the elephant in the room remains Netanyahu himself, whose trial for fraud, bribery, and breach of trust resumed Sunday morning.

    The most theatrical part of his trial, when Netanyahu will be obliged to be present in court three days a week, to hear the testimony of witnesses including many of his one-time closest aides, will begin in January 2021.

    Netanyahu and three former associates were indicted in January in three cases involving the prime minister’s alleged efforts to control various aspects of the Israeli media. He is the first Israeli prime minister indicted for crimes while in office.

    Netanyahu has gone to great lengths to attempt to scuttle his trial, including accusing his attorney general of perpetrating a coup d’état, attempting to pass legislation that would have granted him immunity, requesting special parliamentary immunity and, for the first time in Israeli history, closing down two branches of government.

    Bypassing parliamentary approval, Netanyahu used emergency powers acquired to impose the nationwide corona quarantine to shutter the judiciary and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, a measure never before seen in Israel, not even in wartime, and postponed the start of his trial by two months.

    Opponents accused him of using the pandemic as cover for a power grab. In March, dozens of Israelis began congregating at highway junctures or outside the Knesset carrying Israel’s blue-and-white flag adorned with a smaller black flag warning of the threat to Israel’s democracy.

    By April, thousands were participating in weekly Black Flag protests across the country, and the initiative garnered international attention for its dramatic, socially distanced demonstrations in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

    The popular movement has become a significant political player. Every Saturday night, it attracts tens of thousands to Rabin Square, to Jerusalem’s Paris Square, in front of Netanyahu’s official residence, and to highway junctions all over the country.

    Netanyahu and his allies are clearly nervous. On Sunday, Miki Zohar, the prime minister’s coalition chairman, tweeted that with the pandemic as cover, the protests are “a coordinated propaganda campaign orchestrated by leftists, with almost the complete backing of the media, to topple the right wing.”

    Zohar added darkly that “many forces want to stymie” Netanyahu.

    Leaders of Saturday’s protests demanded Netanyahu’s resignation over the criminal charges, and many participants wore masks emblazoned with the words CRIME MINISTER or carried posters accusing him of acting like the KGB.

    …Yair Netanyahu, 28, is the originator of the Epstein conspiracy theory adopted by his father. On Friday, he called the demonstrators Nazis. On Saturday, he said Israel’s civil servants—in particular the attorney general—were “terrorists.”

    Just four months ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was on top of the world….

    A July 14 poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute showed a massive 75 percent of Israelis “disappointed, angry or alienated regarding the government’s handling of coronavirus.” Trust in Netanyahu sank to 29 percent.

    After talks with the finance ministry collapsed, underpaid and understaffed Israeli nurses are going on strike on Monday. The teacher’s union is threatening to prevent the reopening of schools on Sept. 1 if health and safety concerns are not addressed.

    New COVID-19 diagnoses have risen from about 10 cases a day in mid-May to an out-of-control 2,000-plus this weekend, as Israel clocked its 409th death from the disease.

    The tracking system deployed by Israel’s security agency, at Netanyahu’s insistence, to trace the whereabouts of citizens diagnosed with COVID-19 has brought him only opprobrium and ridicule. No other democracy adopted such a measure. Israel’s Privacy Protection Authority, a watchdog agency, slammed the civilian use of a tool created to follow terror suspects. Then, an early bug resulted in health care workers being sent home. This week, the health ministry admitted that fully 60 percent of those who appeal being identified as people exposed to COVID-19, are, in fact, false alarms.

    No “corona czar” has been managing Israel’s efforts to fight the virus. Gantz’s offer to use the army’s logistics branch flopped when the candidate realized he’d be used as a puppet—or as a fall guy.

    There is no economic plan. An initial scheme, granting every single Israeli a one-time lump-sum payment of $218, was mocked and widely panned before being abandoned. A new almost $2 billion plan approved by ministers on Sunday may not have enough Knesset support to pass as a bill.

    “Netanyahu is losing his grip,” writes political analyst Chemi Shalev. “Alone at the top, Netanyahu is bearing the brunt of Israel’s summer of fear, loathing and discontent… Israel’s resurgent coronavirus pandemic is shaking the foundations of Israeli society and politics as we’ve come to know them.”

  141. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people tested.

    British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. Such early trials are usually designed only to evaluate safety, but in this case experts were also looking to see what kind of immune response was provoked.

    In research published Monday in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental Covid-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55.

    “We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.

    Hill said that neutralising antibodies are produced molecules which are key to blocking infection. In addition, the vaccine also causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells which help to fight off the coronavirus.

    He said that larger trials evaluating the vaccine’s effectiveness, involving about 10,000 people in the UK as well as participants in South Africa and Brazil are still underway.

    (They also found it was safe.)

  142. blf says

    Trump’s sweaty Fox News interview shows his 2020 chances melting away:

    Two generations ago, Richard Nixon sweated his way to losing the first ever presidential debate on television to a young, fit and cool John F Kennedy.

    It was the kind of rookie mistake you could put down to the newness of TV.

    So how do you explain — 60 years later — the drenching sweat that trickled down the face of the reality TV star who is now living inside the White House?

    Of the very few things Donald Trump is supposed to know in any modicum of detail, TV sits right at the tippity-top. There are more historic crises challenging his presidency [sic] than there are cable news channels, but that doesn’t stop him tweeting about all the TV he’s watching all day.

    For a man who still measures his manhood by his own TV ratings, it was a curious choice to sit outside in the humid steamer of a Washington summer, caked in his glowing orange make-up, to field the pesky questions of the best interviewer on Fox News.


    Trump has made so many more consequential blunders than failing to prepare for his double-sided grilling by the weather and [Chris] Wallace. But this chargrilled interview laid bare how the Wicked Wizard of the West Wing is melting before our eyes.

    [… Hair furor’s insults] and catchphrases supposedly destroyed his rivals in 2016. They came up with 12-point plans while he was going to make America great again. He threatened North Korea with his big nuclear button, then fell in love with the North Korean leader in a summit staged just for the cameras.

    But now his repeated attempts to smear Joe Biden have flopped and the great showman is reportedly asking aides if he should try to find another nickname[insult].


    When asked if Biden was senile, Trump answered with the kind of half-baked half-thoughts of a mind cooking slowly in the heat of the presidency. I’d say he’s not competent to be president, he warmed up. To be president, you have to be sharp and tough and so many other things.

    What are these so many other things, pray tell?

    He doesn’t even come out of his basement. They think, ‘Oh this is a great campaign.’ So he goes in.

    It wasn’t clear who they were or what he was going into. But it seemed totally clear to our sharp and tough president, who is also so many other things.

    I’ll then make a speech. It’ll be a great speech. And some young guy starts writing, ‘Vice President Biden said this, this, this.’ He didn’t say it. Joe doesn’t know he’s alive, OK? He doesn’t know he’s alive.

    It may be tempting to blame all of this on the young guy whose writing clearly leaves a lot to be desired.

    But it’s the old guy in the Oval we should be worried about. He doesn’t know he’s dying out there.

    There have been some clues, of course. There was the disastrous riot of a photo op with a pretty bible and a ton of tear gas. There was the Tulsa rally for a million people who failed to show up. There was that weird Mount Rushmore speech about the fascists who say mean things about racists.

    Then again, as Chris Wallace pointed out, there are the polls that show this desperate act isn’t working. And there’s all the endless video of our sharp and tough president predicting the pandemic would just disappear, like a miracle, with a little disinfectant injected inside. Or perhaps some bright light.

    I’ll be right eventually, Trump insisted when confronted with his own cringe-inducing comments about the coronavirus. I will be right eventually. You know I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again.

    They say a stopped clock is right twice a day. But this broken timepiece will only be happy when all the clocks have stopped.


    After Nixon sweated his way to defeat against Kennedy, he returned to win the presidency eight years later with a law and order campaign that promised to shut down civil rights protests and stop enforcing civil rights laws.

    Our Trumpified version of Tricky Dick is a little less subtle than the original.

    He claimed that people flying the confederate flag were not talking about racism. But when asked about removing the names of confederate generals from US military bases, Trump could only think about race. And some weird stuff about a couple of world wars.


    Ah yes, those beautiful world wars. So vicious and horrible. All at the same time. Like the man says, there is indeed a whole thing here.

    Let Biden sit through an interview like this, Trump declared at another point. He’ll be on the ground crying for mommy. He’ll say, ‘Mommy, mommy, please take me home.’

    In his own man-childish way, Trump thought he was proving his point about senility and sharpness and toughness. And so many other things.

    But with every new interview, it sounds like he’s just asking his mommy to please take him home.

  143. blf says

    Quack Didier Raoult’s hydroxychloroquine “study suffers from major methodological shortcomings which make it almost, if not completely, uninformative”, and “the tone of the report, presented as evidence… is unfounded… and, given the desperate demand for treatment for Covid-19, coupled with the potentially serious side effects of hydroxychloroquine, totally irresponsible” — Frits Rosendaal’s peer review (requested by the Dutch health organisation ISAC), as quoted in Forbes, Hydroxychloroquine: Europe Turns Away From Doctor Who Championed Drug With “Irresponsible” Study, based on Le Parisien’s «Irresponsable» : la première étude de Didier Raoult mise à mal par une revue critique: “Publiée le 13 juillet, la critique de l’étude de Didier Raoult est sans appel. Selon son auteur, le texte qui a popularisé l’usage de la chloroquine devait être tout simplement rétracté.” Forbes reports the quack’s spokesduck said the quack would continue to treat patients with hydroxychloroquine.

  144. says

    I don’t know how the CDC is going to make it through this month without firings or resignations if they’re going to release the school reopening guidelines. They’ve already postponed the release, but are running up against the beginning of the school year. Redfield and other officials have been prevented from testifying before congress. Trump, Pence, DeVos, and McEnany have all spouted some variant of “The CDC guidelines shouldn’t be the reason schools don’t reopen.” They respond to almost every question about safety with “The schools must reopen.” The people at the CDC know what’s required for schools to reopen safely and that many schools won’t be able to do it. I don’t see any way we get to the end of the month without this coming to a head.

  145. blf says

    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
       He chortled in his joy.
    ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
       Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
       And teh eejit outburble…
    (with apologies to Lewis Carroll).
    Hair furor will resume his bleachdrinkathrons (from the Gruniad’s current live outburbling eejit blog):

    Trump to resume coronavirus briefings tomorrow
    The president [sic] held daily White House briefings at the start of the coronavirus crisis, but he suspended them amid widespread criticism of the many false or misleading statements he made during the briefings.

    Perhaps most famously, Trump suggested Americans could protect themselves from coronavirus by ingesting disinfectants, a false and dangerous claim that led public health officials to issue warnings against doing so.

    However, one of Trump’s senior advisers, Kellyanne Conway, argued last week that resuming the briefings could help the president [sic] improve his falling polling numbers.

    The president [sic] had a 51% approval rating … when he was doing the daily briefings, Conway told Fox News. They don’t need to be two hours long. … But he can provide information to Americans because nobody does that quite like President [sic] Trump.

    The Grauniad then confirms:

    […] Trump explained his decision to resume the White House coronavirus briefings by pointing to his “record” ratings from the briefings.

    I was doing them, and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching in the history of cable television, and there’s never been anything like it, Trump said, according to the White House pool report.

    It’s a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccines and the therapeutics, Trump added, even though he was frequently criticized for making false or misleading claims during the briefings.

    No(?) word yet on whether or not Dr Fauci or anyone sane will be present (most reporters excepted), or if questions will be taken.

    In other words, hair furor is able to make matters even worse. Again.

  146. blf says

    The Gruaniad’s current live outburbling eejit blog reports:

    DHS[gestapo] to send 150 federal agents[goons] to Chicago
    The Chicago Tribune reports:

    The US Department of Homeland Security[gestapo] is crafting plans to deploy about 150 federal agents[goons] to Chicago this week, the Chicago Tribune has learned, a move that would come amid growing controversy nationally about federal force being used in American cities.

    The Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, agents[gestapo goons] are set to assist other federal law enforcement and Chicago police in crime-fighting efforts, according to sources familiar with the matter, though a specific plan on what the agents will be doing had not been made public.


  147. blf says

    Hair furor is outburbling (from the Grauniad’s current live outburbling eejit blog):

    Moments ago in the Oval Office, Trump was asked about the widely criticized actions taken by federal law enforcement officers against peaceful protesters in Portland, Oregon.

    The president [sic] applauded the federal agents, saying they had done a fantastic job in Portland. We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you, Trump said.


    He disparaged the protesters in Portland as anarchists, claiming lawmakers there are afraid of the demonstrators.

    These are anarchists; these are not protesters, Trump said. These are people that hate our country, and we’re not going to let it go forward.

    He went on to paint a picture of a country going to hell because of the recent protests against racism and police brutality.

    This is worse than Afghanistan, by far, Trump said. This is worse than anything anyone has ever seen. All run by the same liberal Democrats. And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell.

    Trump was also asked what action he intends to take against other Democratic-led cities, as one report indicates the department of homeland security intends to send 150 federal agents to Chicago.

    I’m going to do something, that I can tell you, Trump said. Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore, and all of these — Oakland is a mess — we’re not going to let this happen in our country.

  148. blf says

    Trump consults Bush torture lawyer in bid to skirt law and rule by decree:

    ●  John Yoo wrote memo used to justify waterboarding
    ● Trump keen to use executive orders and circumvent Congress

    The Trump administration has been consulting the former government lawyer who wrote the legal justification for waterboarding, on how the president [sic] might try to rule by decree.

    John Yoo told Axios he has been talking to White House officials about his view that a recent supreme court ruling on immigration would allow Trump to issue executive orders that flout federal law.

    In a Fox News Sunday interview, Trump declared he would try to use that interpretation to try to force through decrees on healthcare, immigration and various other plans over the coming month.

    Constitutional scholars and human rights activists have also pointed to the deployment of paramilitary federal forces against protesters in Portland as a sign that Trump is ready to use this broad interpretation of presidential powers as a means to suppress basic constitutional rights.

    “This is how it begins,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard constitutional law professor, wrote on Twitter. “The dictatorial hunger for power is insatiable. If ever there was a time for peaceful civil disobedience, that time is upon us.”


    In a book titled Defender in Chief, due to be published next week, Yoo argues that Trump is restoring the powers of the presidency envisioned by the framers of the US constitution.

    In a June article in the National Review, he wrote that a supreme court decision which blocked Trump’s attempt to repeal Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, known as Daca and established by executive order, meant Trump could do the same thing to achieve his policy goals.

    Daca suspended deportations of undocumented migrants who arrived in the US as children. As an example of what Trump might achieve in the same way, Yoo suggested the president could declare a national right to carry firearms openly, in conflict with many state laws.

    He could declare that he would not enforce federal firearms laws, Yoo wrote, and that a new ‘Trump permit’ would free any holder of state and local gun-control restrictions.

    Even if Trump knew that his scheme lacked legal authority, he could get away with it for the length of his presidency. And, moreover, even if courts declared the permit illegal, his successor would have to keep enforcing the program for another year or two.

    Yoo’s article was later spotted on Trump’s desk in the Oval Office.

    Constitutional scholars have rejected Yoo’s arguments as ignoring limits on the executive powers of the president imposed by the founders, who were determined to prevent the rise of a tyrant.

    Tribe called Yoo’s interpretation of the Daca ruling “indefensible”.

    He added: “I fear that this lawless administration will take full advantage of the fact that judicial wheels grind slowly and that it will be difficult to keep up with the many ways Trump, aided and abetted by Bill Barr as attorney general and Chad Wolf as acting head of homeland security, can usurp congressional powers and abridge fundamental rights in the immigration space in particular but also in matters of public health and safety.”

    Alka Pradhan, a defence counsel in the 9/11 terrorism cases against inmates in the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, said: “John Yoo’s so-called reasoning has always been based on What can the president get away with? rather than ‘What is the purpose and letter of the law?’

    “That is not legal reasoning, it’s inherently tyrannical and anti-democratic.”


    “The fact that John Yoo is employed and free to opine on legal matters is an example of the culture of impunity in the United States,” she [Pradhan] said.

    “Our failure to hold him (and other torture-promoters) accountable after the Bush administration enabled him to continue to rot the legal checks and balances around the presidency today.”

  149. says

    Regarding Trump’s short attention span, and his tendency to get bored when it comes to addressing major issues:

    One of the persistent challenges White House officials have faced in recent years is capturing and maintaining Donald Trump’s interest in important subjects. In March, aides appeared to have some success convincing the president that the coronavirus crisis was significant: Trump told reporters at the time that he considered himself “a wartime president.”

    The trouble, of course, is that sometimes wars take a while — and Trump has the attention span of a fruit fly. Reflecting on what went wrong with the White House’s pandemic response, the New York Times reported over the weekend:

    “The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, a Republican, said of the pandemic. He noted that Mr. Abbott directs his requests to [Vice President Mike Pence], with whom he speaks two to three times a week.

    The article added that Trump currently seems “less interested in the specific challenges the virus presents and is mostly just frustrated by the reality that it has not disappeared as he has predicted.”

    There’s ample reporting to bolster the idea that Trump “got bored with” the crisis.

    The Washington Post reported last week, for example, that aside from asking about vaccine updates, the president “has expressed little interest in the specifics” of the federal response to the pandemic.

    Over the weekend, a separate Post report cited members of his team saying Trump has been “committing less of his time and energy” to the coronavirus crisis. One adviser added that the president is “not really working this anymore. He doesn’t want to be distracted by it. He’s not calling and asking about data. He’s not worried about cases.”

    I’m fascinated by the idea that Trump could see a deadly pandemic wreaking havoc on his own country, and draw the conclusion that he shouldn’t be “distracted” by it — as if there were other, more pressing matters demanding his attention.

    An Associated Press report added on Saturday that the president has “taken an increasingly hands-off approach to the coronavirus crisis in recent days.”

    Or put another way, the nation’s “wartime president” had no idea combating the virus would take several months, so he’s effectively gone AWOL.


    Okay, but now Trump is reviving the coronavirus briefings! Desperate for the TV time, I guess. The last time he appeared in a coronavirus briefing, Trump suggested that people drink bleach and/or disinfect themselves on the inside with other disinfectants or strong lights. I really do not want to watch that kind of crap every day.

  150. says

    Update to #191 – ABC – “Judge Esther Salas’ son shot and killed, husband injured in attack at their NJ home”:

    …Salas’ husband, Mark Anderl, is in critical but stable condition as of Monday morning, according to law enforcement sources.

    The suspect was a white man who wore a face covering and a FedEx uniform, law enforcement sources told ABC News, and he used an ordinary car to make a getaway.

    At about 5 p.m. Sunday, the gunman knocked at the door to the family’s North Brunswick home. Mark Anderl answered the door and was shot first, before his son was also shot.

    “He was shot through the heart,” Womack said of Daniel Anderl, who was a student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

    “Daniel was a rising junior, enrolled for classes beginning in the next few weeks,” Catholic University President John Garvey said in a statement Monday. “He turned 20 last week. We all mourn and grieve this loss to our University community.”

    The suspect was later found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound near Liberty, New York, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News. A municipal employee discovered the body in a car.

    The deceased suspect was an attorney who had a case before Judge Salas in 2015, sources said.

    A FedEx package addressed to Judge Salas was discovered in the car, sources said….

  151. stroppy says


    “This is how it begins,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard constitutional law professor, wrote on Twitter. “The dictatorial hunger for power is insatiable. If ever there was a time for peaceful civil disobedience, that time is upon us.”

    How it starts:

  152. says

    As US testing system falters, Trump seeks congratulations

    As Trump peddles nonsense on virus testing, we’re reminded that he’s acting as if he has no idea that a problem even exists.

    In late March, with his country struggling with the coronavirus crisis, Donald Trump […] was pressed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) on testing availability and the need for a far more robust federal response. The president was incredulous.

    “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks,” [Trump] told governors, adding, “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem.”

    Four months later, one can only hope the president has heard about testing being a problem — because it clearly is. The New York Times reported over the weekend:

    As demand for coronavirus testing surges around the nation, laboratories that process samples are again experiencing backlogs that have left anxious patients and their doctors waiting days — sometimes a week or more — for results. At the city and state levels, testing delays could mask persistent rises in case numbers and could cloud ways to combat the coronavirus, as health officials continue to find themselves one step behind the virus’s rapid and often silent spread […].

    An Associated Press report added the other day that public-health experts “say the testing system is in shambles and federal leadership is lacking.” The article added that the president’s salesmanship “about the prowess of testing in the United States is colliding with a far different reality for those affected by the explosion in coronavirus cases.”

    In response to all of this, Donald Trump’s strategy is tragically misguided. When he and his administration aren’t pushing Congress to curtail investments in virus testing, the president is peddling nonsense to the public that suggests he has no idea that problem even exists.

    Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace, for example, “We go out into parking lots and everything, everybody gets a test.” It’d be great if that were true, but it’s not.

    The president added, “No country has ever done what we’ve done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world. They call and they say the most incredible job anybody’s done is our job on testing.” If Trump, who has a habit of describing conversations with world leaders that occurred only in his mind, can name any country that called to praise our testing system, I’m all ears. […]

    In a tele-rally with supporters last night, the president added, in reference to the U.S. testing system, “I’ve been congratulated by a lot of the experts, but the media never congratulates us. It’s literally a one-way street.” [WTF!]

    First, there are no experts congratulating the United States for its woeful testing system.

    Second, it’s not the job of journalists to congratulate administrations for struggling to do their jobs. […]

  153. stroppy says

    @ 211

    Joizee. Is it just me or does this stink of mob–all the way down to cleaning up the suspect.

  154. says

    As pressure grows, Trump’s talk on race grows far less subtle

    Behind in the polls, Trump is turning his attention to talk about race and suburbs.

    During his Fox News interview yesterday, Donald Trump was reminded that many U.S. military leaders believe it’s time to change the name of bases named after Confederate generals. “I don’t care what the military says,” the president said. “I’m supposed to make the decision.”

    Moments later, [Trump] added, “We’re going to name it after the Rev. Al Sharpton?”

    In context, no one had brought up the MSNBC host and no one has suggested naming installations after Sharpton. Trump simply wanted to defend the practice of naming U.S. military bases after Confederates who took up arms against American troops. And to help bolster his case, the first name that came to the president’s mind as an example of someone who shouldn’t be honored was a prominent voice from the African-American community.

    Soon after sitting down with Chris Wallace for the interview, Trump held a tele-rally with Wisconsin Republicans, where race remained on his mind.

    On Friday evening, he told supporters in Wisconsin that Mr. Biden supported an Obama-era fair-housing rule. “They want to eliminate single-family zoning, bringing who knows into your suburbs, so your communities will be unsafe and your housing values will go down,” he said.

    It’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer.

    […] Diane Yentel, president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, told the AP, “He’s flatly saying that property values will go down and crime will increase if black people move into your neighborhoods. It’s especially abhorrent for Trump to be furthering racial entrenchment of segregated communities at this moment in our history.”

    […] On Thursday, he went a little further, insisting that Democrats “will totally destroy the beautiful suburbs…. People who have worked all their lives to get into a community and now they’re going to watch it go to hell.”

    […] It’s easy to imagine what led to Trump’s sudden fixation on all things suburban. In fact, it seems pretty obvious: after barely ever uttering the word for most of his presidency, Trump was almost certainly told that polls show him hemorrhaging support from voters in suburbs. It coincided with [Trump’s] belief that a message based on racial grievances and racial animus will help give his struggling campaign a boost.

    […] NBC News’ Jonathan Allen explained last week, “[…] Trump says Joe Biden wants to ‘abolish the suburbs.’ But what he appears to mean is that Biden wants to stop suburban segregation…. Watching Trump talk about the issue is like playing a documentary on the civil rights movement in reverse slow motion.”

    […] What Trump is describing as a policy intended to “abolish” suburbs is actually a federal rule designed to counter segregation in housing.

    It’s a subject the Republican ought to know well: the Justice Department accused Trump of violating the Fair Housing Act several decades ago as part of the future president’s discriminatory practices against African-American renters.

    Nearly a half-century later, Trump’s views on discrimination in housing are every bit as offensive.

  155. says

    From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

    The fact is, whether he [Trump] knows it yet or not, he will be leaving. Just because he might not want to move out of the White House doesn’t mean we won’t have an inauguration ceremony to inaugurate a duly elected president of the United States.

    There is a process. It has nothing to do with the certain occupant of the White House [who] doesn’t feel like moving and has to be fumigated out of there.

    From Joe Biden:

    We are perfectly capable of escorting trespassers off the property.

    From comments by readers:

    there is only so much babysitting one can do with an out-of-control three-year-old.
    Remember that we need to hold everyone of his enablers accountable as well once this shitshow ends it run.

    And it’s gonna take more than a few criminal charges to clean up this mess as well.
    This will drive Trump nuts because a lady-person just told him what he can and can not do.
    You’d need a bigger drainage pipe than the one Gaddafi hid in…
    He can go Bunker Boy and hide in the basement all he wants. It won’t matter.
    Donny-Boy is first and foremost a coward–the Secret Service will escort him out on January 20th.
    You may think that small factions of different groups will follow Trump’s orders. But effective noon on Inauguration Day, Trump looses all rank and becomes a regular citizen. From there the bootlickers turn cowards and have to follow the new Chain of Command.

    And Trump doesn’t have the military. Joint Chief have rubuffed him and I am sure would relish the chance to give him the bums rush to the door. They definitely won’t be calling in 82nd Airborne to defend the White House.

  156. says

    In Mark Meadows, Donald Trump finally has a chief of staff as stupid as he is

    White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been, from the start of his political career, a complete ideologue. A tea party darling, Meadows led the U.S. House Freedom Caucus—the crazy wing of the crazy party. Among his greatest hits was voting against Hurricane Sandy relief, leading the charge for the 2013 government shutdown, and providing the catalyst (via a resolution) for Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation in 2015. And he was oh-so-loyal to Donald Trump from day one.

    […] One would further think that once put in actual charge would lead one to behave more responsibly. But nope. In Meadows, Trump finally found someone as destructively stupid as he.

    Exhibit A: There are lots of reasons Trump has f’d up the national response to the global mass death event wreaking havoc in our country. Turns out, Meadows is a big one. In one corner, you had Trump too afraid to lead, over his head, and stewing that the virus was so unfairly harming his reelection chances. In the other corner, you had ….

    Casting the decision in ideological terms, Mr. Meadows would tell people: “Only in Washington, D.C., do they think that they have the answer for all of America.”

    Funny. In South Korea, Seoul thought they had the answer for all of South Korea. And they got control of the virus in zero time flat. Same thing in New Zealand, where Wellington squashed the virus through their entire nation. […]

    It is only in the countries that have royally screwed things up, that states and other municipalities have been left to try and salvage what they can—places like the United States, Brazil, and Russia.

    […] you have to be a special kind of asshole to think that the most powerful and best-resourced governmental institution should sit out a pandemic raging throughout the country. But, if you remember that Meadows voted against federal aid for disaster-struck Texas and Louisiana, well then, it makes more sense, right? […]

    Gonna stress this again, because those words are so unbelievably stupid that it beggars the mind: Mike Meadows thinks that ignoring the virus will help Trump. He thinks that the thing that is the number one concern of voters will cease being a concern if only the White House pretends it doesn’t exist. […]

    Given that Trump systematically purged his team of any semblance of competence, it’s only fitting the chief of staff he finally settled on is as stupid as he. The only problem is that, with real power, he’s causing real damage to our nation. Something that is, unfortunately, true of every Trump official.

  157. says

    ‘Deliberate incompetence‘: USCIS hasn’t printed thousands of green cards and work permits.

    Over 100,000 green cards and work permits that should have already been printed and sent to their recipients by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remain unprinted and unsent to their recipients because the broke agency can’t print them. No, really: “The administration claims that its reduction in printing capacity is due to a USCIS budget shortfall that it has blamed on a reduction in fee revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Immigration Impact said.

    Immigration Impact said that USCIS claimed it would print documents in-house after ending a contract with an outside vendor. “Of the two facilities where these credentials were printed, one, in Corbin, Ky., shut down production three weeks ago,” The Washington Post said this month. “The other facility, in Lee’s Summit, Mo., appears to be operating at reduced capacity.”

    If USCIS was really going to print these hugely important documents in-house without disruption, fine, but USCIS is also broke and set to furlough more than 13,000 of its 20,000 workers in exactly two weeks if there’s no Congressional intervention soon. “However, that isn’t the whole story,” Immigration Impact noted.

    The report said that “[w]hile COVID-19 has had a significant impact across our immigration system, USCIS has been on a path to financial ruin for years due largely to its own fiscal mismanagement” and anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration. The agency could potentially be bringing in massive revenue by processing new applications from young immigrants who could now be eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections following the Supreme Court’s decision last month, but the Trump administration is now in open defiance of the court and has so far refused to reopen the program. […]

    “The agency’s only public acknowledgment of the Court’s ruling, which was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, was to question its legitimacy,” The American Prospect noted. So, hundreds of thousands of young immigrants are getting fucked over by a lawless and corrupt administration in addition to the tens of thousands of others who followed the rules in applying for their green cards and work permits.

    “The people impacted by these printing delays have already had their petitions and applications approved by USCIS,” Immigration Impact noted. “They have paid the often-exorbitant filing fees, completed the necessary paperwork, and gone through extensive background checks. Despite this, the agency says it ‘cannot speculate on future projections of processing times.’

    “This leaves hundreds of thousands of people without the documents needed to support themselves,” the report continued. “These documents are important in normal times—but are even more critical during a worldwide pandemic.” Just imagine knowing the documents you worked so hard to gain are just out of reach because the government isn’t getting its shit together, on purpose.

  158. says

    Op-ed by Sen. Ron Wyden at NBC – “Trump sent federal agents to Portland to help with his political agenda — not the protests”:

    For weeks now, Donald Trump has seemingly sought to incite violence on the streets of Portland.

    Not content with simply dropping squads of federal agents into my hometown to clash with peaceful protesters, as he first did in early July after signing an executive order to supposedly protect monuments from protesters, Trump and his acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, have now unleashed these agents like an occupying army — complete with fatigues, military-style equipment and tactics that are utterly unacceptable in an American city.

    These invaders are mounting this assault against my city on the flimsiest of justifications: While Acting Secretary Wolf rants about law and order, most of the incidents of “violent anarchists” he cites are actually graffiti or low-level vandalism.

    I condemn violence by anyone, and, as in many other cities, we have real problems we need to fix. That is why I spent much of the last week in Oregon, working to reduce tensions on the streets by coming up with peaceful solutions to address the concerns highlighted by protesters. Oregon communities are taking the lead in using unarmed responses to mental health crises, offering more professional, compassionate mental health care to people that is less expensive than relying on traditional law enforcement tactics.

    But the federal agents who have been parachuted into Portland are creating more problems, not solving any of them.

    On July 11, a federal agent shot a peaceful protester in the head with a crowd-control munition, sending the man to the hospital with a fractured skull. On Wednesday, videos captured men in fatigues jumping out of unmarked vans and grabbing people off of the street without explanation. And agents from Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Marshals Service have since ramped up aggressive tactics against demonstrators in downtown Portland.

    Right-wing media and members of Trump’s administration have long tried to market a fun house mirror version of the city I love. In their telling, Portland is a lawless wasteland, where roving bands of anarchists are re-enacting “Mad Max” every night after dark. Until the federal agents began engaging in violent tactics to end protests, nothing was further from the truth. Portland is struggling with the economic disaster of COVID-19, but Portlanders love our city for its vibrant creativity — and, by the way, crime in Portland has actually been lower than average in recent weeks.

    It seems that, because liberal Portland in blue Oregon is not the violent wasteland the far-right echo chamber imagines, Trump and his flunkies are determined to bring violence to us.

    It is not surprising that among agencies tasked with occupying Portland against the wishes of our residents and elected officials are tactical units from Customs and Border Protection — the same agency that is still detaining innocent children at the border as a cruel political ploy. Under Trump, Homeland Security and its leaders spent four years refining their violent tactics against immigrants across the country, snatching people off the street and arresting them in federal courthouses without explanation. DHS agents even once held an American citizen — and a veteran, no less — for a month, even though he had proof of citizenship.

    Is it any wonder that this is the agency being used in Portland to create more twisted political stagecraft at Trump’s behest?

    Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is right to challenge the legality of what Trump is doing in Portland: The Trump administration’s claim that DHS police are needed to enforce the president’s executive order to protect statues is laughable. Terrorizing peaceful protesters and arresting people for graffiti and other nonviolent offenses has nothing to do with securing federal property.

    My colleagues and I in the Oregon delegation have demanded that these occupying troops leave Portland, demanded answers from the administration and called for an independent investigation. And this week, my fellow senator from Oregon, Jeff Merkley, and I will introduce a measure to require Trump to remove these unwanted forces from our city.

    But from a broader perspective, the high-profile law enforcement killings of Black Americans have sparked a long-overdue conversation about reforming policing and improving public safety in recent months — and what’s happening in Portland shows that limiting the authority of federal agents at DHS is sorely needed as well.

    I’d remind anyone participating in this shameful occupation of an American city that they cannot hide behind Donald Trump forever. The willingness of officials to participate in such a flagrant abuse of power exposes a rot that goes deep into the agency, and that rot must be removed.

    To start, any official who signed off on this unconstitutional operation will be identified and held legally responsible. The militarization of DHS must be ended. And the absurd expansion of authority must be reversed. Our border and customs agencies must and will be restricted to securing the border and stopping smuggling, while more appropriate agencies handle refugees, asylum-seekers and others seeking help.

    This is about more than just Portland. Americans have already seen how Trump callously used force against peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square just so he could hold a photo op. Clearly, there must be fundamental reform of how these forces can be deployed and a commitment to holding people accountable for participating in illegal attacks against Americans’ constitutional rights.

  159. blf says

    First COVID-19, now bugs: US states brace for illness outbreaks:

    As the coronavirus subsides in some parts of the US, health experts warn of the return of insect-borne illnesses.


    As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard-hit northeast United States, public health officials in the region are warning about another potentially bad summer for EEE [Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling,] and other insect-borne illnesses.

    EEE saw an unexpected resurgence last summer across 10 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

    There were 38 human cases and 15 deaths from the virus, with many of the cases in Massachusetts and Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most years, the country sees just half a dozen cases of the virus in humans, the agency said.


    In Massachusetts and New Jersey, officials have already detected EEE in mosquitoes this year, the earliest on record in those states. There have been no human or animal cases yet.

    “It’s unnerving,” said Scott Crans, who heads up mosquito control efforts for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “It could signal a busy year.”

    Crans and other state health officials say EEE, which has no cure for humans, tends to come in two- to three-year cycles, but they also stress that mosquito borne-diseases are notoriously tricky to predict.

    A relatively mild winter may have benefitted mosquito populations, but below-average rainfall could have also provided a welcome counterweight, he said.

    Local health officials are also warning about the risk of contracting other insect-borne illnesses as more people are spending a longer time outdoors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    In Michigan, an invasive mosquito known to transmit dengue, Zika and other tropical viruses has already been detected for the first time this season, said Mary Grace Stobierski, the state’s public health veterinarian.

    The state also had its first case of West Nile virus this season. A more common but less severe mosquito-borne disease than EEE, it can cause fevers, headaches, body pain and other symptoms. […]

    [… other risks and more details…]

    [… T]he two earliest cases of EEE in mosquitoes this year were found in a northern part of the state [Massachusetts], close to New Hampshire, rather than the virus’ typical hotspots near Cape Cod, where officials also detected the virus in a mosquito sample last week.

    That, along with last year’s widespread cases, strongly suggests the territory of EEE-carrying mosquitoes is expanding, according to [State Epidemiologist Catherine] Brown. Climate changes that are causing warmer summers and altering bird migration patterns and local mosquito populations could be among the drivers, she said.


    The mildly deranged penguin points out that since Eastern Equine Encephalitis is carried by “mosquitoes”, there are either some very small horses or very large disguised mosquitoes… or perhaps the virus is a disguised horse.

  160. says

    From southpaw’s thread @ #224: “In addition to a raft of frivolous MRA lawsuits, the deceased suspect sued a large number of media organizations (invoking the hardly ever appropriate civil version of RICO) to try to win more favorable coverage for Donald Trump.”

  161. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States pandemic & facism live blog:

    Republican senator Rand Paul voiced opposition to Trump’s efforts to send federal law enforcement agents to Democratic-controlled cities.

    “We cannot give up liberty for security,” Paul said in a tweet. “Local law enforcement can and should be handling these situations in our cities but there is no place for federal troops or unidentified federal agents rounding people up at will.”


    Paul’s comments marked quite a contrast from one of his Republican colleagues, senator Lindsey Graham, who said Trump is right to demand that law and order be restored in American cities.


    From earlier:

    Republican senator Lindsey Graham voiced support for Trump’s efforts to send federal law enforcement agents to Democratic-led cities to crack down on protests against racism and police brutality.

    Graham, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, said in a tweet, President [sic] Trump is right to demand that law and order be restored in American cities. These protests and riots are getting out of hand, jeopardizing public safety and economic recovery.

    The South Carolina Republican added, If federal law enforcement officials are necessary to do the job and President [sic] Trump chooses to go down this path, I completely support him.


  162. says

    Via Josh Marshall, a 2008 Media Matters report: “Cavuto hosted ‘anti-feminist attorney’ Den Hollander, who advocated ‘cut[ting] out the feminazi, feminist women’s studies programs’ at Columbia.”

    Roy Den Hollander is the dead suspect in the murder of Judge Salas’ son and attempted murder of her husband.

    He was so unhinged and hateful in 2008 that even on Fox these were responses:

    CAVUTO: You have issues, don’t you?

    CAVUTO: Roy, you’re angry. You’re very angry.

  163. says

    Politico – “‘We can’t pull it off’: Florida sheriff says he can’t muster security for GOP convention”:

    The sheriff of Jacksonville, Fla., said he can’t provide security for the Republican National Convention because of a lack of clear plans, adequate funding and enough law enforcement officers.

    “As we’re talking today, we are still not close to having some kind of plan that we can work with that makes me comfortable that we’re going to keep that event and the community safe,” Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams told POLITICO.

    “It’s not my event to plan, but I can just tell you that what has been proposed in my opinion is not achievable right now … from a law enforcement standpoint, from a security standpoint.”

    The controversy deals one of the biggest potential blows to Trump’s decision to hold an in-person nominating convention during a pandemic. The proposal has already been beset by concerns over safety and reports of high-profile Republicans declining to attend.

    Williams, a Republican, wouldn’t definitively say that there is no way the event could be held. But he said he had grave doubts about it, especially in an era of heightened protests concerning police use of force.

    Williams said the event, scheduled for Aug. 24-27, was announced in June, giving his agency little time to plan and prepare. The Republican National Committee has not yet nailed down which convention events will be at which venues, making it more challenging. And a pledged $50 million grant has been paired back to $33 million and, Williams said, there are strings attached that make letting contracts too difficult.

    Other sheriffs told POLITICO they sympathize with Williams.

    Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Trump’s security detail already makes such big demands of local law enforcement that it makes it difficult to supply security for him, which Chitwood witnessed firsthand during the president’s recent trip to Daytona Beach.

    Chitwood said he didn’t believe the event should be held and said the RNC is struggling to do the impossible.

    “There’s a fear of telling him no because anyone who tells the president no, it’s like, off with their heads,” Chitwood said.

    Chitwood, who committed to sending about two dozen officers, said that conventions need months of planning “and that’s without Covid-19.”

    “There are going to be tons of issues,” he added. “This has something that has never ever happened before. And for some reason commonsense is being thrown out the window.”

    Williams referenced the lack of time repeatedly, saying that even if he started planning in June, it would have been difficult to pull off.

    “At virtually 75 days it was an incredible lift, and everything would have to be perfect. And needless to say it has not,” Williams said. “So you know with that, we can’t pull it off in any kind of current configuration. But again, it’s not my job to plan the RNC. It’s my job to be able to provide security for it, but I can’t do it right now in this time frame with this current configuration of the event.”

  164. says

    Evidently, Den Hollander is also suspected of involvement in this case from last week – NBC – “Men’s rights attorney Marc Angelucci’s fatal shooting prompts investigation”:

    California police say they are investigating the death of a prominent men’s rights attorney who was fatally shot at his home over the weekend.

    County deputies responded to reports of a shooting around 4 p.m. Saturday on Glenwood Drive in Cedarpines Park and found Marc Angelucci “unresponsive and suffering from apparent gunshot wounds,” according to a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The 52-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing and the motivation behind the shooting remains unknown, the office said.

    Angelucci founded the Los Angeles chapter of the National Coalition for Men, a controversial group that describes itself as “a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the ways sex discrimination affects men and boys.”…

    NCFM has been criticized as a male supremacist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which accuses the group of distorting statistics and deploying litigation “to indicate female privilege, blame women or create false equivalences between the oppression of men and of women, rather than simply seek to advance the cause of men and fathers.”

    Angelucci also appeared in the “The Red Pill,” a divisive 2016 documentary about the men’s rights movement that inspired protests and was decried by critics as “misogynistic propaganda.”…

    Ronda Kennedy, a Republican candidate running to represent the 26th congressional district in California who had served as co-counsel with Angelucci on previous cases, said she had spoken to detectives and urged anyone with information to reach out to authorities.

  165. says

    It’s very dangerous for people to keep distinguishing some protesters from anarchists. Of course, many of the protesters (and I assume the vast majority of the Portland moms) aren’t anarchists. It’s also fair to criticize certain protest actions, without making assumptions about the people involved. While some actions are illegal, being an anarchist is not illegal. Nor is “anarchist” necessarily joined with “violent” (much less with attacks on persons vs. damage to physical objects), and it’s obviously not antithetical to “protester.” There have been plenty of anarchists over the past century and a half, including in the US, who’ve been moms, who’ve joined peaceful demonstrations, who’ve been jailed and persecuted. No one should seek to protect any movement by disowning anarchists as such. On the contrary, everyone should stand up against the stigmatization of any one group. It’s the right thing to do and it’s good politics.

  166. says

    New @JoeBiden statement: ‘I am putting the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice. If elected president, I will treat foreign interference in our election as an adversarial act’.

    Biden says he hopes to bring international community together on efforts to fight COVID-19 and other issues.

    But ‘if any foreign power recklessly chooses to interfere in our democracy, I will not hesitate to respond as president to impose substantial and lasting costs’.”

  167. says

    About Trump taking that cognitive test, and then bragging about well he did:

    […] Two weeks ago, during a different Fox News interview, Trump boasted that doctors were “very surprised” that he “aced” the cognitive test. (He didn’t explain why physicians asked him to take it or why they were surprised. The White House also wouldn’t release any information, including the test results.)

    As the public saw yesterday, the president is not only still focusing attention on this, and not only arguing that Wallace couldn’t fare as well as he did on the exam, Trump has also added a new argument: the last five questions on the test are “very hard.”

    I don’t know why he would think that.

    While the precise wording of different MoCA tests can vary, and the final questions are marginally more difficult than identifying an elephant, one sample test included among the final questions asked respondents to name words that begin with the letter F — with the expectation that people could list at least 11 in a minute. Another final question asked respondents to recite a three-digit number backwards.

    To be sure, if the president is telling the truth about having “aced” the test, I’m glad. It’s a good thing if he did well. But let’s be clear: we’re talking about being able to clear a very low bar for an adult in a position of enormous responsibility.

    The fact that Trump keeps pointing to this as proof of intellectual prowess is unsettling.


  168. says

    SC @240, and of course he loves/worships Trump. While do all these worst human traits cluster together in Trump’s cult followers?

  169. says

    David Futrelle at We Hunted the Mammoth – “Men’s Rights attorney Roy Den Hollander accused of shooting a federal judge’s husband and son”:

    On Sunday evening, a man dressed as a FedEx employee knocked on the door of the house of federal judge Esther Salas. When the judge’s husband and son opened the door, the man shot them both, killing the son.

    According to the Daily Beast, law enforcement sources are saying that the shooter was Men’s Rights attorney Roy Den Hollander, who was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Monday morning.

    A publicity-seeking activist attorney, Hollander was perhaps best known for a series of lawsuits taking aim at “Ladies Nights” at bars and clubs, which he felt discriminated against men. (He appeared on the Colbert Report once as a “Difference Maker” eager to show off his hip-hop dance moves.) He also sued a nightclub claiming that it was a human rights violation to be forced to pay $350 for a bottle of vodka. In 2016, he sued an assortment of big names in the news business, claiming they had committed “wire fraud” by broadcasting “fake news” about Donald Trump.

    I’ve written about him several times, describing the controversy over a “male studies” course he thought he was slated to teach in Australia (the University in question said it had never approved the course in the first place). Hollander later sued two Australian journalists — in the lawsuit he described them as “modern-day, book-burning, Bacchae reporters from down-under” — for allegedly posting falsehoods about him and getting him fired from the teaching gig the school says he was never actually hired for.

    But among some Men’s Rights activists the man was a hero. Paul Elam of A Voice for Men once praised him for

    putting his name on the line and his license to practice law at work, taking on everything from financial discrimination against men by nightclubs in “Ladies Nights” to Columbia University’s Women Studies Program which he contends more resembles a religion than not. …

    [A]s much as I loathe the idea of anyone claiming authority on what a “real” man is, if I had to venture a guess, it would be men like Hollander.

    A Voice for Men also published an article by him back in 2010, making him the first alleged murderer to be linked directly to the hate site.

    Strangely, only a week ago another prominent Men’s Rights attorney, a man named Marc Angelucci, was gunned down outside his house in San Bernardino County, California. No suspects have been named, but I can’t help but wonder if Hollendar was somehow involved in this murder as well….

  170. says

    Rather than releasing detainees, ICE moved many to a Virginia prison and created a COVID-19 disaster

    COVID-19 got major help from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and for-profit detention executives in decimating one immigration prison in Virginia and creating the single worst outbreak of any such facility in the nation […] Facing lawsuits demanding the release of detained people amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the agency instead shuffled many to Immigration Centers of America (ICA) in Farmville—and to disastrous results.

    The report said that as of last weekend, “at least 268 out of around 360 detained people” and at least 22 guards at the for-profit prison have tested positive. […]

    ICE has refused to release even children and their parents together from migrant family jails across the nation amid the pandemic, with unconfirmed acting Department of Homeland Security Sec. Chad Wolf comparing it to a “jailbreak.” [That frigging Wolf guy again!] […] ICA also claims that since the facility is half full, detained people have space to social distance. Not so, some said.

    […] “’No, we’re sleeping like we’re partners. The beds are basically attached to each other. The space here is small,’ Freddy said.” The detained man also pushed back on claims that nearly all of the positive cases at the facility are asymptomatic. “No, that’s a lie. Here, everyone has symptoms,” he said in the report.

    Keep in mind that so much of this misery is happening because of mass detention policies. The agency has always had the ability to just release people, but that would mean showing some humanity to immigrants. “In my opinion, to avoid releases, they’re shifting people around the country or moving them to other detention facilities outside of south Florida,” immigration attorney Heriberto Hernandez told Daily Beast. He said that when one client tested positive at ICA, “all they did was give him cold medicine.” […]

    From Representative Gerry Connolly:

    Conditions at the ICE detention center in Farmville are inhumane and unforgivable. More than 70% of the population is sick with #COVID19.

    I am demanding answers, and again calling for the immediate release of all ICE detainees.

    More from the article:

    Also keep in mind that ICE has also played a major role in spreading this virus across the world. An investigation by The New York Times and The Marshall Project last month “tracked over 200 deportation flights carrying migrants, some of them ill with coronavirus, to other countries from March through June. … So far, the governments of 11 countries have confirmed that deportees returned home with Covid-19.” At the Mexican camp where asylum-seekers have been forced by the Trump administration to wait out their cases, some have also become sick. “This was avoidable,” Refugees International tweeted. […]

    “We think we’re going to die at any time,” detained immigrant “Michael” told Daily Beast. “The help we need we’re not getting. We think we’re going to die without seeing our families. A lot of people here are suffering.”

  171. says

    South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and countries around the world are seeing COVID surges, but the tragedy unfolding in the Americas is breathtaking. The attention has been on the US and Brazil, but cases and deaths are also rising relentlessly in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Panama, Honduras.

  172. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz, writing for The New Yorker:

    Donald J. Trump said on Sunday that he will eventually be right about the coronavirus going away when there is no human life left on the face of the earth.

    Speaking to Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said that, once there are no living humans left for it to infect, “like I have said before, the virus will just disappear, like a miracle.”

    “The virus isn’t stupid,” Trump said. “It wants to infect people. And when there are no people left to infect, it’s not going to hang around doing nothing. It’s going to go away. And then I’ll be right.”

    Trump added that, when the planet Earth no longer has any trace of human life, “I’ll have the last laugh.”

    “In a way, it’s too bad that those beauties in the fake news media like Jim Acosta will be extinct at that point, because I wish they could be alive to see how I was eventually right,” he added. “But I guess you can’t have everything.”

    Trump offered no timeline for the disappearance of all human life from the planet, saying only, “We’re moving quite strongly and powerfully on that.”

  173. says

    Guardian – “Russia report reveals UK government failed to address Kremlin interference”:

    British government and British intelligence failed to prepare or conduct any proper assessment of Kremlin attempts to interfere with the 2016 Brexit referendum, according to the long-delayed Russia report.

    The damning conclusion is contained within the 50-page document from parliament’s intelligence and security committee, which said ministers “had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes”.

    The committee, which scrutinises the work of Britain’s spy agencies, said: “We have not been provided with any post-referendum assessment of Russian attempts at interference” – and contrasted the response with that of the US.

    “This situation is in stark contrast to the US handling of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, where an intelligence community assessment was produced within two months of the vote, with an unclassified summary being made public.”

    Committee members said they could not definitively conclude whether the Kremlin had or had not successfully interfered in the Brexit vote because no effort had been made to find out.

    “Even if the conclusion of any such assessment were that there was minimal interference, this would nonetheless represent a helpful reassurance to the public that the UK’s democratic processes had remained relatively safe,” the report added.

    The cross party committee noted that publicly available studies have pointed to “the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories” on the Russia Today and Sputnik TV channels at the time of the vote and “the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’” on Twitter, as evidence of Russian attempt to influence the process.

    But committee members complained that when they asked for written evidence from MI5 at the start of their inquiry, the domestic spy agency “initially provided just six lines of text” – prompting criticism from the committee.

    It accused MI5 of operating with “extreme caution” and that its “attitude is illogical” because the issue at hand was “the protection of the process and mechanism from hostile state interference, which should fall to our intelligence and security agencies”.

    The keenly anticipated document was completed last October, but was sat on by Boris Johnson before the general election and only declassified and cleared for release by the prime minister in December….

  174. says

    Via the Guardian, the Intelligence and Security Committee’s summary of the Russia report:

    Intelligence and security committee questions whether government took its eye off the ball on Russia, finds that they underestimated the response required to the Russian threat and are still playing catch up:

    Russian influence in the UK is the new normal. Successive governments have welcomed the oligarchs and their money with open arms, providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London ‘laundromat’, and connections at the highest levels with access to UK companies and political figures.

    This has led to a growth industry of ‘enablers’ including lawyers, accountants, and estate agents who are – wittingly or unwittingly – de facto agents of the Russian state.

    It clearly demonstrates the inherent tension between the government’s prosperity agenda and the need to protect national security. While we cannot now shut the stable door, greater powers and transparency are needed urgently.

    UK is clearly a target for Russian disinformation. While the mechanics of our paper-based voting system are largely sound, we cannot be complacent about a hostile state taking deliberate action with the aim of influencing our democratic processes.

    Yet the defence of those democratic processes has appeared something of a ‘hot potato’, with no one organisation considering itself to be in the lead, or apparently willing to conduct an assessment of such interference. This must change.

    Social media companies must take action and remove covert hostile state material: government must ‘name and shame’ those who fail to act.

    We need other countries to step up with the UK and attach a cost to Putin’s actions. Salisbury must not be allowed to become the high water mark in international unity over the Russia threat.

    A number of issues addressed in this published version of the Russia report are covered in more depth in the classified annex. We are not able to discuss these aspects on the grounds of national security.

    I can see why it was withheld by the government!

  175. says

    After several days of contentious negotiations, the EU has agreed on a coronavirus relief package. Meanwhile in the US, the headline today is something like “Trump throws wrench into negotiations with Senate Republicans.”

  176. KG says

    Further to SC’s #252 and #253, here’s a link to the report itself (which I haven’t read yet), and here is a Guardian article about it.

    There was an attempt to spin the report, undoubtedly inspired by Johnson-Cummings, in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, the tame paper of the Tory Party, apparently claiming (I haven’t read it, i’m relying on a Guardian description in the live blog) that Russia had interfered in the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014, but not in the Brexit referendum. The press release from the ISC says no such thing: it doesn’t mention the Scottish referendum (I haven’t yet looked in the report itself, it’s not implausible Russia did try to interfere), and of the Brexit referendum, says it could not get any information from the government or MI5 (the domestic arm of UK Secret Intelligence). But the overall tenor of the press release is highly critical of the UK government, and makes clear there is a rich and powerful pro-Putin lobby well established in the UK, which there has been no attempt to control. No wonder Johnson blocked its release before the election.

  177. says

    Rep. Swalwell:

    You know what kind of man @TuckerCarlson is?… After protestors vandalized his house a few years ago, I tweeted that was wrong. I took heat. Didn’t care — that was wrong. What did Tucker do? Just months later, Tucker repeatedly lied on his show that I’d be taking everyone’s guns. What do you think happened next? Death threats rolled in against me and my children. A Small business run by family members was harassed. Did Tucker care? No. He lies and spreads disinformation for the worst reason: it sells. Any one who has met and talked to Tucker knows he doesn’t believe the bullshit he’s peddling. I’ve talked to him before shows. He laughs at his own act. He’s a phony. I’m sorry he feels his family is threatened. But, when I spoke up to protect his family, he went on air to cash in on dangerous lies about me.

    He’s responding to “Tucker Carlson accuses the New York Times of putting his family at risk by publishing his home address in an upcoming story. Why? @TuckerCarlson says because ‘they hate my politics’.”

    It was obvious bullshit that the NYT had any intention of doing this, but imagine – he was telling this self-serving, ridiculous lie in the wake of the attack at Judge Salas’ home.

  178. says

    Guardian UK liveblog:

    Julian Lewis, the ISC chair, is wrapping up the press conference now.

    He says the committee has been subjected to “unprecedented delay and dislocation”. That must never happen again, he says. He says the sooner normal relations with government are resumed, the better, he says.

    But he says the government’s decision to make a written statement this morning (presumably its reply to the committee – see 11.38am), without giving the committee advance notice of what was in it, did not help.

  179. says

    Here’s a link to the July 21 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Unsurprisingly, the huge European recovery plan has not been welcomed by anti-EU and far-right figures.

    The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen describes the deal as “the worst agreement for France in the history of the EU”. She says Emmanuel Macron has sacrificed “our future and our independence” to “protect his ego”.

    Geert Wilders, of the Netherlands, called it a “€390bn gift for southern Europe”.

    Jessica Stegrud MEP, a member of the nationalist Sweden Democrats party, said the deal hands “more power to Brussels”, saves the Eurozone in the short term and hits “indebted Swedish taxpayers”.

    I hope this hurts the southern European far Right and drives a wedge between them and the northern European far Right.

  180. says


    In Dec 2016, Sir Alex Younger, the head of MI6, made a highly unusual public speech. He didn’t name Russia. But he made it clear that the UK was at risk from bad actors exploiting social media platforms.

    We now know that this warning was not heeded

    In April 2017, a senior intel analyst told me it was a marker. I used it to preface 2nd major report on Cambridge Analytica.

    The head of MI6 understood the risks.

    His boss, Boris Johnson, & his boss’s boss, Theresa May, stopped him investigating. No other explanation now

  181. KG says

    It’s worthorth noting that Julian Lewis, the ISC chair, is not just a Tory, but a hard-right, Brexiteer Tory. Before becoming an MP, he infiltrated a local Labour Party branch in an (unsuccessful) attempt to influence its choice of candidate, funded by a “libertarian” group caling itself the Freedom Association, which opposed trades unions and supported apartheid. He has supported a range of hard right and militarist causes ever since. But I guess he just can’t stomach Johnson.

  182. says

    I know we’re all desensitized but this is a high ranking DHS official participating in Tucker Carlson’s incitement against the NYT (with no factual basis whatsoever)….”

    The acting thug in question is Ken Cuccinelli. He responded to a tweet saying “By printing Tucker Carlson’s address, The New York Times is deliberately encouraging violence against him” with “That is clearly their intent.” The responses to the original tweet, many from Q-cultists, are expressions of outrage at this nonexistent act by the NYT and demands that they be held accountable for doing something they didn’t and never intended to do; with a few people pointing out that it’s a lie, asking the people raging about the NYT to provide evidence that it happened, and receiving no response.

  183. says

    As I was just going to watch the Kemp/Bottoms hearing (see #68), MSNBC reported that it’s been postponed because the judge recused herself. Why would she wait until this late?

  184. blf says

    me@199, “At the moment, I do not know how effective the new rule requiring masks in enclosed public spaces is, as I haven’t been outside yet today to form my own impression. My suspicion is it won’t make a large difference to (most) of what I’m complaining about, since at this time of the year, almost everything is outside (nice weather, and too hot inside buildings, excepting cooled shops (where the masks are now mandatory)).”

    Today I went out to the morning outdoor market, and was pleasantly surprised the mask wearing had increased significantly from perhaps 10% to perhaps 50% (and mostly worn not-obviously-incorrectly). Still low, but not as dismal as before, but still very few hand sanitizing stations.

    Then went to a restaurant for lunch near the beach. The restaurant was fine, almost perfect adherence to the rules (as was the case at the beach-side bar afterwards, and the bus to-and-fro), but… The beach itself was crowded, no social distancing, and no masks. (Think of the scenes in Florida or S.California.) The restaurant did have a hand sanitizing station, sensibly located, but that was literally the only one I saw. Arrggghhhh!!!1!

    Apropos of nothing much, the specialist gourmet foods shop (near the restaurant) I visited before lunch had very strict protocols — masks, limited number of people inside, direction of circulation marked on the floor, etc — and, quite unexpectedly and very kindly, gave me a free chilled roasted whole chicken. (I’m a “known” customer there, and at the restaurant.) That did present a problem, first keeping it cool until I could return to the lair, and now (in the lair), keeping it cool as there’s “no” room in the fridge due to this morning’s market shopping (room was manufactured by removing some unopened vin that was chilling)… albeit it does “solve” the puzzle of what to have for dinner tonight!

  185. blf says

    German Jewish leaders fear rise of antisemitic conspiracy theories linked to Covid-19:

    Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews, said Jews were increasingly being held collectively responsible for the spread of the virus and compared the situation to narratives around the plague in the Middle Ages.

    At high-profile demonstrations against coronavirus measures, figures such as the Hungarian-born financier George Soros have been blamed for starting the pandemic with the help of the German government in order to gain power and influence.

    One prominent participant in the demonstrations, the celebrity TV chef Attila Hildmann, has espoused increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories over the course of the coronavirus crisis that have praised Adolf Hitler and described the chancellor, Angela Merkel, as a communist dictator. State prosecutors say they are investigating whether they can press charges against him.

    Schuster said of particular concern to him were the frequent comparisons being made between the measures taken to dampen the spread of the pandemic and the treatment of Jewish people under the Nazis. Anti-vaxxer demonstrators at so-called “hygiene demonstrations” have often worn yellow stars similar to those Jews were forced to wear during the Third Reich, but bearing the word ungeimpft (unvaccinated) instead of Jude (Jew). Their wearers have said when a vaccination against coronavirus becomes available they will refuse to be inoculated, seeing themselves as victims of a dictatorship.

    Others have worn striped clothing, mimicking the uniforms of death camp inmates, or have carried placards with the slogan “masks set you free”, a play on the slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free) […]


    Separately, the Robert Koch Institute, the main public health advisory body to the German government, has reported receiving hundreds of emails threatening its scientists and slandering individuals. Several of the emails have stated What a shame for those of you who are accessories of this phoney government that there are no more gas chambers […]


    The government has previously said it believes the conspiracy theories are being spread by the Reichsbürger movement — groups and individuals of a far-right and antisemitic persuasion who reject the legitimacy of the modern German state — as well as individual personalities, including high-profile doctors, Hildmann, and former journalists.


    Prominent virologists and epidemiologists advising the government have already reported receiving death threats.

  186. blf says

    ACLU says Trump sent Michael Cohen back to prison ‘for writing a book’:

    Lawsuit claims Cohen is being held in solitary confinement at New York prison in ‘retaliation’ for drafting book that’s critical of Trump


    In a tweet on 2 July, Cohen said he was “close to completion of my book, anticipated release date will be late September”. A week later, the former top Trump aide was returned to prison after he had been released due to the coronavirus pandemic.


    Cohen […] was convicted of crimes including lying to Congress and facilitating illegal payments to silence two women who alleged affairs with Trump, the adult film-maker and actor Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model.


    Cohen went to prison in May 2019. He was released a year later, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and expected to complete his three-year sentence at home. Last week, however, the BOP said Cohen had “refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility”.

    Those conditions, which many observers said were unusual, included forbidding Cohen to speak to the media or to publish his book. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, pointed out that Cohen had been allowed to speak to the media from the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York.

    Now the ACLU and law firm Perry Guha LLP have filed suit in US district court in New York. According to the suit, Cohen is being held in solitary confinement at a federal prison in New York state.

    “He is being held in retaliation for his protected speech,” the suit says, “including drafting a book manuscript that is critical of the president — and recently making public his intention to publish that book soon, shortly before the upcoming election about President Trump.”

    Cohen’s book promises to combine elements of Bolton’s close-access account and Mary Trump’s description of the president’s personal behavior.

    Cohen, the suit says, will “tell the American people about Mr Trump’s personality and proclivities, his private and professional affairs, and his personal and business ethics”.


    In a tweet last week, Davis contrasted the treatment of his client with another former aide to the president, Roger Stone.


    Stone’s conviction stands but most observers said he was being rewarded for not turning on Trump during the Russia investigation, as Cohen did.

    Trump, Davis said, “can try to bully Michael Cohen by sending him back to jail to try to stop him from telling the truth in his forthcoming book while rewarding Roger Stone for lying about Trump knowledge of Russian meddling.


    When he worked for Trump, Cohen was known for bullying and intimidating those who crossed his boss.

    Whilst Cohen is exceptionally untrustworthy, the law and rights and protections apply equally. Presuming Cohen was returned to prison as intimidation or retaliation by the Barr–hair furor dalekocrazy, the ACLU is correct in bringing this lawsuit. (Whether or not Cohen should have been released to home confinement in the first place is a separate matter.)

  187. tomh says

    You can practically see the GOP licking their chops over Ginsburg’s health.

    Republican leaders vow to fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy this year, despite some apprehension
    By Ted Barrett and Manu Raju, CNN
    Updated 10:38 AM ET, Tue July 21, 2020

    Senate Republican leaders, undeterred by the scathing criticism leveled against them for blocking President Barack Obama’s election-year Supreme Court nominee in 2016, are signaling that they are prepared to confirm a nominee by President Donald Trump even if that vacancy occurred after this year’s election.

    “We will,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican leader, when asked if the Senate would fill a vacancy, even during the lame-duck session after the presidential election. “That would be part of this year. We would move on it.”

    Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who is running for reelection, told Iowa PBS last week she supports confirming a potential nominee this year…
    “(If) it is a lame-duck session, I would support going ahead with any hearings that we might have,” she said. “And if it comes to an appointment prior to the end of the year, I would be supportive of that.”

    More quotes at the link. They have no shame.

  188. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The United States is failing to report vital information on Covid-19 that could help track the spread of the disease and prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, according to the first comprehensive review of the nation’s coronavirus data.

    The report, Tracking Covid-19 in the United States, paints a bleak picture of the country’s response to the disease. Five months into the pandemic, the essential intelligence that would allow public health authorities to get to grips with the virus is still not being compiled in usable form.

    That includes critical data on testing, contact tracing, new cases and deaths.

    What the authors call “life-and-death information” is being pulled together haphazardly by individual states in a way that is “inconsistent, incomplete and inaccessible in most locations”. Without such intelligence the country is effectively walking blind, with very little chance of getting “our children to school in the fall, ourselves back to work, our economy restarted, and preventing tens of thousands of deaths”.

    The review has been carried out by Resolve to Save Lives, a part of the global health group Vital Strategies. It is led by Tom Frieden, the former director of the main US public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  189. blf says

    US public increasingly sceptical of Covid-19 death toll, poll finds:

    Thirty-one percent of respondents in the [Axios-Ipsos] survey said they believe the number of Americans dying from Covid-19 is in reality smaller than public data portrays. Skepticism was up from 23% in May.

    Skepticism about coronavirus statistics was heavily correlated with media consumption habits, the poll found. A 62% majority of Fox News watchers said the statistics are overblown, while 48% who reported no main news source thought so. Only 7% of CNN and MSNBC watchers thought so.

    […] The official coronavirus death toll is in fact likely to undershoot the actual toll because many serious Covid-19 patients suffer from underlying conditions that might appear as the cause of death on a death certificate, public health experts advise.


  190. says

    Press sec just said potus is tested for Covid ‘multiple times a day’.”

    He’s tested all the time. Everyone around him is tested all the time. And yet none of them can even acknowledge that testing outside their bubble has a purpose other than simply counting cases. And they bully people who have no such protection to go back to work and school and consuming. They’re psychopathic monsters.

  191. blf says

    Ocasio-Cortez hits back after Republican’s foul-mouthed tirade on Capitol steps (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The Hill reported that Ocasio-Cortez was confronted by the Florida Republican congressman Ted Yoho, who did not like her recent comments about the connection between poverty and crime.

    According to the Hill, Yoho said Ocasio-Cortez was disgusting for saying of spiking gun violence in New York this month that “crime is a problem of a diseased society, which neglects its marginalized people … policing is not the solution to crime”.

    Yoho reportedly told Ocasio-Cortez: You are out of your freaking mind.

    Ocasio-Cortez responded by saying Yoho was being “rude”.

    After the pair parted, Yoho was overheard to say: Fucking bitch.

    Ocasio-Cortez reflected on the tense exchange on Tuesday morning, writing in a tweet: “I never spoke to {Representative} Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation’s Capitol yesterday.

    “Believe it or not, I usually get along fine with my GOP colleagues. We know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door.”

    The progressive congresswoman closed the tweet by cheekily adding: “But hey, ‘bitches’ get stuff done.”


    The Grauniad doesn’t go into detail, but apparently other thugs were present and presumably saw / overheard, but now claim not to have seen the incident.

  192. blf says

    Ocasio-Cortez hits back after Republican’s foul-mouthed tirade on Capitol steps (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}; redacted slightly due to poopyhead’s filter):

    The Hill reported that Ocasio-Cortez was confronted by the Florida Republican congressman Ted Yoho, who did not like her recent comments about the connection between poverty and crime.

    According to the Hill, Yoho said Ocasio-Cortez was disgusting for saying of spiking gun violence in New York this month that “crime is a problem of a diseased society, which neglects its marginalized people … policing is not the solution to crime”.

    Yoho reportedly told Ocasio-Cortez: You are out of your freaking mind.

    Ocasio-Cortez responded by saying Yoho was being “rude”.

    After the pair parted, Yoho was overheard to say: Fucking [b-word].

    Ocasio-Cortez reflected on the tense exchange on Tuesday morning, writing in a tweet: “I never spoke to {Representative} Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation’s Capitol yesterday.

    “Believe it or not, I usually get along fine with my GOP colleagues. We know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door.”

    The progressive congresswoman closed the tweet by cheekily adding: “But hey, ‘[b-word]es’ get stuff done.”


    The Grauniad doesn’t go into detail, but apparently other thugs were present and presumably saw / overheard, but now claim not to have seen the incident.

  193. blf says

    Not exactly political — but with a great quote — Venice gondola tours reduce capacity due to ‘overweight tourists’ (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The limit on a gondola da nolo, which offers the classic tour of the city’s canals, has been reduced from six to five people, while on a gondola da parada, boats mainly used to cross the Grand Canal, the number has decreased from 14 to 12.


    Speaking to La Repubblica on the topic, Raoul Roveratto, the president of the association of substitute gondoliers, didn’t mince his words: “Tourists are now overweight. From some countries, bombs load {onto the boats}. And when {the boat} is fully loaded, the hull sinks and water enters. Advancing with over half a tonne of meat on board is dangerous.”


  194. says

    From the Guardian world liveblog – related to #249 above:

    Covid-19 is showing no signs of “slowing-down” in the Americas, according to the Pan American Health Organization director, amid surges in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

    During a virtual briefing from the organisation’s Washington base on Tuesday, Carissa Etienne also said some central American nations were seeing their highest weekly increase of cases since the pandemic began.

    She added that because of the high burden of infectious diseases and chronic conditions in the continent, three out of ten people – 325 million – were at “increased risk” of developing complications from the virus.

  195. says

    From southpaw’s thread about the report @ #286: “It’s not customary, but I think as a society we’d arrive at a healthier place if we start treating men whose misogyny seems out of control and entirely ungoverned by reason—as Yoho’s does in this reported incident—as a potential danger to others and not a laughing matter.”

    The MSNBC report last night on the attack on Salas’ family was terrible. It was disjointed, the killer was described by Brian Williams as an “emotionally disturbed lawyer,” and not once was it treated as a terrorist attack in the context of other similar attacks. The media have to do much better covering misogyny and misogynistic movements.

  196. blf says

    BLM: Lawyer calls for removal of prosecutor in Brooks case:

    Fulton County DA Howard faces a financial investigation and contested runoff election in his quest for a seventh term.

    A lawyer representing the former Atlanta police officer charged in the alleged murder of Rayshard Brooks has requested the prosecutor on the case be recused, citing “ethically inappropriate” conduct, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported Monday.

    The motion, filed by lawyer Noah Pines, claims that Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard “has systematically sought to deprive Garrett Rolfe of a fair trial and impartial jury since the day he announced his decision to arrest Garrett Rolfe,” the newspaper reported.

    Rolfe shot and killed Rayshard Brooks on June 12 at a fast food parking lot where Brooks was reportedly asleep in his vehicle in a drive-through lane.


    Rolfe was charged on June 17 with 11 counts, including felony murder and five counts of aggravated assault.


    Pines also stated that Howard would be a necessary witness for the defence, which plans to question the DA on public statements he made, which they claim are contradictory.

    Howard said publicly that Brooks posed “no threat” to officers after allegedly stealing a stun gun. The motion claims that Howard previously said a taser is a “deadly weapon” some 10 days previous, the newspaper reported.

    [… Howard’s re-election problems…]

    Howard has faced further controversies, including allegations of violations on financial disclosures from the state ethics commission.

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the use of a nonprofit to allegedly funnel roughly $140,000 to supplement his salary.


    Circular firing squad?

  197. blf says

    Meltdowns over masks amid coronavirus outbreak go viral (video). I’ve not watched the video. Description quoted in full:

    Videos of people having meltdowns when asked to wear masks are going viral on social media amid coronavirus pandemic.

    As several US states continue to report rises in new daily coronavirus cases, videos of people refusing to wear masks have gone viral on social media.

    I’m filing a f***ing class action lawsuit, a shopper in a grocery shop shouted. You can take your fake f***ing, global terroristic, false flag attack, shove it up your m*********ing a**. You’re terrorists!

    Police said the man was asked to wait outside for assistance after entering a local business without a mask.

    He reportedly refused and used profane language before attacking an employee when asked to leave.

    In Texas, a woman was recorded throwing items out of a shipping trolley after the manager told her she had to keep her mask on.

    As more US states mandate the use of masks and face coverings, more incidents like this seem likely.

    Whilst I’m unawares of any anti-mask incidents locally (the bus driver who was killed was in another part of France), I’m still tempted to get this or perhaps this other mask. (And thanks to the model for wearing the mask correctly!)

  198. says

    The White House just formally threatened [to] veto the House’s annual defense bill for a laundry list of reasons, led by a provision requiring renaming of military bases that bear names of Confederate leaders.”

    They’re publicly threatening to prevent the funding of the military. You’d think something would sink in when they composed this sentence: “The Administration strongly objects to section 2829 of the bill, which would require renaming of any military installation or defense property named after any person who served in the political or military leadership of any armed rebellion against the United States.” What an unreasonable requirement!

  199. says

    Murtaugh is pushing hydroxychloroquine again! Gaaaaah! WTF is it with this fucking drug?

    Keilar: “I think you’re doing a real disservice to Americans.” “Tim, we’re done with this conversation.”

    She ended it and now she’s bringing in a doctor. Thankfully.

    I can’t fucking believe they’re still pushing this drug!

  200. says

    Keilar: “So Dr. Phillips, thank you so much. I’m sorry to make you talk about hydroxychloroquine. I feel like May called and wants its like BS talking point about a drug back, but you know it’s always important that we knock these things down because everyone’s health is at stake.”

  201. says

    “Thank you @brikeilarcnn for calling Tim Murtaugh a liar. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Just saying @brikeilarcnn is taking ZERO bullshit right now. Zero.

    If you’re not watching @brikeilarcnn right now you’re missing how confronting liars like Tim Murtaugh should be handled. This is amazing.

    FYI @brikeilarcnn just officially set the bar for interviewing idiots.

    Brianna Keiler trending worldwide in 3… 2… 1…”

    (These are all tweets from the same person, but they’re not threaded. I only linked to one.)

  202. blf says

    SC@300, The States did buy several-hundred-zillion doses of hydroxychloroquine — strong-arming India in the process — and Kushner want$ to make hi$ profit$. (Not to mention hair furor’s claim he’s taking it — ergo, it’s Teh Bestest GREAT Proven we have the Biggest PROVENS and snoozing Joe doens’t wnat to cure you! Teh antifa violent anarchists want to burn down our statues to hydroxychloroquine!! Storys it’s dangerous or doesn’t work or is needed by lupus a FAKE DISEASE; are FAKE NEWS!!!1! — so the dalekocrazy jumps and pushes the drug.)

  203. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current lying-liars-and-their-wannabe-daleks live blog:

    Bolton: no justification for DHS agents in Portland


    In an interview with the Guardian, Bolton pointed out that he served in the Reagan justice department, giving him an insight into the legal and practical issues involved. He said that even if the situation was so extreme it demanded federal involvement, the DHS was not the right department.

    “The protection of federal courthouses now is the responsibility of the US Marshals Service, who also responsible for physical protection for US judges, as part of the justice department,” said Bolton […]


    “If a governor or mayor says, ‘Look, this is out of control, I need federal help,’ there are occasions when you do that. There are no such requests. I’m not saying everything’s hunky dory in Portland, Oregon, because it clearly is not. But I don’t see any justification for the deployment of the Department of Homeland Security personnel.”


    There’s no link to the mentioned Grauniad interview — it’s possible it’s still being written up as I type this. I decided not to set Bolton’s comments in eejit quotes because he is, in this instance as quoted, saying generally reasonable things. (As an aside, it’s supposedly not just federal courthouses which are supposedly at-risk, but other federal buildings as well. Whether or not the Marshalls have the responsibility to protect those is unknown to me. (From memory, Bolton is correct about the Marshalls — who are part of the DoJ — protecting judges and courthouses.))

  204. blf says

    From the Gruaniad’s current kooks live blog (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Senator Rand Paul lashed out against his Republican colleagues, as majority leader Mitch McConnell prepares to unveil a coronavirus relief bill expected to cost roughly $1 trillion.


    Just came from Progressive Democrat, whoops, {I} mean Republican caucus, the libertarian senator said in a tweet.

    They’re going to spend $105b more on education, more than we spend every year on the Dept of Education. Anyone remember when Reagan conservatives were for eliminating the Federal Dept. of Education?

    However, the $105 billion for schools is well short of the $430 billion Democrats have proposed to help schools safely reopen.

    Paul added, The majority of Republicans are now no different than socialist Democrats when it comes to debt. They simply don’t care about debt and are preparing to add at least another trillion dollars in debt this month, combined with the trillions from earlier this summer.

    The Kentucky Republican voiced similar criticism of a coronavirus relief bill McConnell introduced in April, but Paul ultimately decided against blocking passage of the bill, which was signed into law.

    What about the other c.900bn$ Mr I Don’t Need No Alive Students or Teachers? (That’s not to say he’s correct, he obviously isn’t, but it is noticeable that, as quoted, he didn’t criticise c.90% of the funds, apparently only concentrating on one (already underfunded!) exceptionally important item.)

  205. blf says

    Not at all political — unless, perhaps, you’re an avian dinosaur, rice plant, or grape vine — the free roasted chicken of @278, served with a mélange de riz and highly-regarded local vin blanc, is going down a treat…

  206. says

    Four months ago today, Fox News hosts including Bret Baier, Brit Hume and Laura Ingraham shared a later-debunked Medium post that argued the coronavirus was not accelerating in the US, was not easily spread and would likely ‘burn off’ in the summer.”

    Screenshots atl.

  207. blf says

    SC@314, Thanks! Early on that article mentioned “Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey” — there apparently is such a thing — but at first I wondered if it had some (obscure) relationship to Skewbald (music), sung here by Martin Carthy, complete with a rare mistake. I’m now listening to that whilst digesting dinner and finishing that article. Again, Thanks!

  208. blf says

    SC@317, According to the Grauniad’s current live outburbling eejit blog‘s summary:

    Trump has wrapped up his very brief briefing, after taking a few questions from reports. Unlike his previous coronavirus briefings, which would sometimes ramble on for hours, the president kept this one tight and mostly stuck to talking points

    Though, as Eli Stokols at the LA Times pointed out, there was some waffling away from the scripted message:

    Trump on COVID (reading from notes): “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.”

    Minutes later (w/o notes): The virus will disappear. It will disappear.

    Whilst there were lies, it seems the “scripted message” contained some sense:

    Trump has noted a “concerning rise” in cases in parts of the South, in a complete shift from his previous strategy — refusing to acknowledge that there is a problem.

    He’s staying uncharacteristically on-message. He said the government is “asking Americans to use masks, socially distance and employ vigorous hygiene — wash your hands every chance you get.” He also asked younger people to “avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings.”

    Trump asked Americans to wear masks “whether you like the mask or not”, despite repeatedly downplaying the importance of wearing masks and refusing to wear one on many occasions.


    Note an extreme rarity here: Despite this being hair furor, most of the excerpted quotes do not deserve the eejit quotes editorialising. Whilst read by an authoritarian “moran”, and in complete contradiction to his previous lying, it could have straight from Dr Fauci (who wouldn’t have needed notes or someone else to write them).

  209. says

    In reference to the link provided by SC in comment 319:

    Trump starts his July 21 coronavirus briefing with some casual xenophobia

    Ha! [bitter laughter] Yes. “casual xenophobia” is the right description. Trump insisted on calling COVID-19 “the China virus.”

    Quoting Trump again: “significant spice in virus cases.”

    More from Aaron Rupar’s coverage:

    Asked about testing delays, Trump dodges by citing the total number of tests conducted (testing is useless if it takes 2 weeks to get results)

    Trump’s list of first term accomplishments includes legislation signed into law by President Obama in 2014

    “The virus will disappear. It will disappear” — Trump, July 2020

    Comments on Trump’s press briefing from other viewers:

    “those numbers are similar are in other places” (in regards to waiting times for test results) – no they aren’t. In many other countries around the world, people aren’t waiting 7-10 days to get test results! The only people getting test results back in less than 15 minutes are Trump & co!
    I’m in Canada. My results took 24 hours exactly.
    Today’s case/test lag time is still 13 days for #Arizona.
    He knows nothing. He’s just spewing crap to make his base believe him.

  210. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    From the Miami Herald:

    Less than three weeks after reopening its borders to international visitors, the Bahamas on Sunday announced that it is closing all of its airports and seaports to tourists from the United States, effective Wednesday.

    From NBC News:

    A lawsuit filed Monday accuses four Fox News personalities of sexual harassment, including an allegation that co-anchor Ed Henry “violently” raped a colleague…. In addition to Henry, the federal suit accuses on-air personalities Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz of harassing a woman in various instances.

  211. johnson catman says

    re tomh @282 filling a SCOTUS vacancy: OF COURSE the republicans have no shame. Moscow Mitch’s ploy in 2016 was merely mouth movements with no meaning. He was blocking Obama from getting a judge on SCOTUS no matter what. I have no doubt that if RBG died on December 31, McConnell would call a special session of the Senate to confirm a nominee to replace her. Fairness DOES NOT MATTER to these assholes, even if the people have clearly spoken (Mitch’s justification) about The Orange Toddler-Tyrant. Our only hope is that RBG has the strength to hold on until after January 20, 2021.

  212. says

    As the Associated Press reported, Joe Biden unveiled a blueprint for universal pre-K and overhauling the nation’s system of elder care. The plan is projected to cost $775 billion over 10 years and, according to the campaign’s estimate, would create 3 million new jobs.

    Biden offered some details as to how he is going to pay for that plan. For one thing, he would rescind the tax cuts that Trump put in place to benefit the wealthy. Biden also mentioned enforcement actions that would ensure that corporations pay the taxes they owe.

  213. says

    So I’ve been reading Robert D. Hare’s 1993 Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us for several months, putting it aside and then picking it up again. (I have many problems with it, but it’s useful – the descriptions could have been written about Trump.) He has these little blocktext sections offering illustrations or asides, and this was one I came upon the other day in the chapter on psychopaths engaged in white-collar crime:

    At this writing, the mysterious death of publishing czar Robert Maxwell has opened an enormous can of worms. Maxwell’s business empire collapsed amid charges that hundreds of millions of dollars were illegally siphoned off. The case is relevant here as a good example of how a carefully managed public persona can conceal dark deeds and a black heart.

    Although it was widely known that he was a crook and a charlatan who was adept at moving money from one company to another, most of those who knew him, including journalists, managed to keep remarkably silent. Maxwell had a great deal of power and was able to intimidate his critics. He also benefited from the ‘unscrupulousness of greed’ and an establishment that turns a blind eye toward ‘unconvicted money-making crooks’. (Quotes are from an article by Peter Jenkins, ‘Captain Bob Revealed: A Crook and a Conspiracy of Silence’. Independent News Service, December 7, 1991.)

    Robert Maxwell was Ghislaine Maxwell’s father.

  214. says

    Trump Goes All In On Rigging The System To Advance White Rural Political Power

    […] Trump’s new census memo is both a shameless power grab and an almost unbelievable Hail Mary.

    With the flick of his pen, he is seeking to undercut the growing political power of immigrant communities — with an approach that could boost the electoral power of whiter, red states, while diminishing the representation given to more diverse, bluer parts of the country.

    The policy will spark a major legal battle, and whether it is even feasible is still in doubt.

    But for now, the gambit will serve has pure red meat for Trump’s base […] Trump explained in a statement that he was standing up to attempts by the “the radical left” to “erase the existence of this concept” of “citizenship.”

    Trump is instructing his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is overseeing the 2020 census, to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count used to dole out U.S. House seats among the states — a practice known as apportionment. That count also determines how many Electoral College votes each state gets.

    The idea is, at best, legally dubious, as the Constitution mandates that the “the whole number of persons ” in each state be enumerated in the count. […]

    Excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count will likely affect the states with the largest numbers of unauthorized immigrants […] Those states include California, Florida and Texas, he said. […] the political ramifications are only one aspect of understanding how monumental this shift would be. There are long-held philosophical underpinnings to the idea of politicians representing not just who can vote for them, but all of the constituents living in the jurisdictions that they serve.

    Trump doesn’t employ much nuance to get around this idea.

    “Just as we do not give political power to people who are here temporarily, we should not give political power to people who should not be here at all,” his statement said. […]

    The ACLU, which led one of the lawsuits challenging the citizenship question [in the census], has already vowed to sue over this new policy, and it will likely be joined by several other voter advocacy and immigrant rights groups.

    […] the Census Bureau is not explicitly doing the counting of unauthorized immigrants. Rather it appears that the administration will try to derive who those people are based on existing government records on citizenship. […]

    Meanwhile, outside redistricting experts were already questioning whether the citizenship data the Bureau will produce is useable for that purpose, given the accuracy issues that have been raised. […]

    The Census Bureau was already facing considerable challenges in implementing the census during the pandemic. The in-person activities the Census Bureau conducts to complete its count have been hobbled, and the resulting undercount is most likely to affect communities of color and lower-income people, according to experts.

    Those consequences will be amplified if Tuesday’s policy is allowed to be implemented.

  215. blf says

    @324, “Our only hope is that RBG has the strength to hold on until after January 20, 2021.”

    Not quite. Should both hair furor and Pence be unable to carry out their duties — not that they actually do anyways, has to be something obvious, like dissolving in salt like a slug — before Justice Ginsburg’s succession is an actual issue, President Pelosi could nominate someone. However, the thugs would (very probably) have to loose control of the Senate before the sensible someone— whether nominated by President Pelosi or President Biden — is approved.

    Realistically, barring a big lump of salt falling from the sky, yeah, the best of health to Justice Ginsburg.

  216. says

    TPM – “Season 2 Premiere: Trump’s Reality TV Coronavirus Briefings Are Back”:

    We can’t make this up.

    The return of President Trump’ reality TV-style press conferences included offering well wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of being an accomplice to the late sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of underage girls.

    “I just wish her well, frankly,” Trump during his first press conference since April that was billed as an update from the administration on the coronavirus pandemic.

    The President added that he met Maxwell “numerous times over the years” especially when they both lived in Palm Beach.

    Last week, a federal judge denied bail to Maxwell after she pleaded not guilty to sex crime and perjury charges. Prosecutors allege Maxwell helped Epstein in the mid-1990s recruit young girls in an operation that forced them into engaging in sexual acts. Maxwell’s trial is scheduled to begin in July 2021.

    Trump’s kind words for Maxwell came amid a press conference where he once again insisted that the coronavirus will “disappear” someday and expressed his newfound advocacy for mask-wearing after months of shunning the simple but effective face coverings.

    Here’s how Trump’s first press conference since April played out:…

  217. blf says

    Mike Pompeo attacks WHO in private meeting during UK visit (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    US secretary of state said the World Health Organization was responsible for Britons who had died from Covid-19


    Pompeo told those present that he believed the WHO was political not a science-based organisation and accused its current director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of being too close to Beijing.

    Those present at the meeting on Tuesday said that Pompeo told his audience of 20 MPs and peers that he was saying on a firm intelligence foundation, a deal was made with China to allow Tedros to win election in 2017.

    The secretary of state went on to to claim when push came to shove, you’ve got dead Britons because of the deal that was made — without providing any further details.

    [… other antics…]

    Speaking alongside the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, after the pair held talks, Pompeo launched a strongly worded attack on China, including over the Covid-19 pandemic, which he called preventable.

    The Chinese Communist party’s exploitation of this pandemic to further its own aims has been disgraceful, Pompeo said. Rather than helping the world, general secretary Xi {Jinping} has shown the world the party’s true face.


    Pompeo also announced that down is actually up, and the colour blue sings in a bass voice, except when strawberries are migrating.

  218. says

    Asha Rangappa:

    I, for one, do not wish Ghislaine Maxwell, “well.” Watch the Netflix docuseries “Filthy Rich” to understand the atrocities this woman committed against young girls FOR DECADES. I hope she gets all the due process she deserves, mainly so the sentence she finally gets is airtight.

  219. blf says

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

    On CNN, Nancy Pelosi is referring to the coronavirus as the “Trump virus” castigating the administration’s response to the pandemic.

    The president [sic] has taken to using the racist term China virus tp [sic (thank you, Grauniad!)] describe to novel coronavirus, including that [sic (thank you, Grauniad!)] his briefing today.

  220. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC… quoting some tweet @ # 309: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wants Republican Rep. Ted Yoho to apologize …

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for that. Yoho’s civility is matched only by his intelligence.

    The good news: Ted Yoho has both announced his retirement and let the deadline pass to file for reelection in his (my) district.

  221. blf says

    Update to @333, the Gruaniad(?’s correspondent?) seems to have taken a decision not to repeat what hair furor calls Covid-19, and has updated the linked-to live blog entry to now say “a racist term” rather than what I’d excerpted. I noted that some terminology earlier in their entries during today’s eejit outburbling.

  222. johnson catman says

    re blf @328: If you think that the possibility of President Pelosi is more than 0%, you are either deluded or have been drinking too much wine with that free chicken. The republicans are licking their chops (and praying fervently) for the demise of RBG so that they can install another political hack on the SCOTUS.

  223. blf says

    @340, NO, it is not impossible (0%). Ever hear of the Presidential Succession Act of 1947? Should both the offices of the President and VP be vacant, the the Speaker of the House becomes President. It is extremely unlikely both offices will be concurrently vacant, but not impossible. (“Vacant”, in this context, does not mean “dead” (albeit that is one cause of the office being vacant)).

  224. johnson catman says

    re blf @341: So what would you rate the possibility at? The republicans in power would never allow both offices of POTUS and VP to become vacant at the same time. It ain’t gonna happen.

  225. says

    The QAnon Prayer Wall is split over how to handle President Trump sending well wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell.

    One post: ‘some anons need to go sit at the kids table and not question 5D Trump plays’

    Another: ‘So, like, nothing is adding up now. Wtf just happened?'”

  226. says

    NBC – “Twitter bans 7,000 QAnon accounts, limits 150,000 others as part of broad crackdown”:

    Twitter announced on Tuesday it has begun taking sweeping actions to limit the reach of QAnon content and banned many of the conspiracy theory’s followers due to ongoing problems with harassment and the dissemination of misinformation.

    Twitter will stop recommending accounts and content related to QAnon, including in email and follow recommendations and will take steps to limit content circulation in places like trends and search. This action will affect approximately 150,000 accounts, according to a spokesperson, who asked to remain unnamed due to concerns about the targeted harassment of social media employees.

    The Twitter spokesperson also said the company had taken down more than 7,000 QAnon accounts in the last few weeks for breaking its rules on targeted harassment as part of its new policy.

    The sweeping enforcement action will ban QAnon-related terms from appearing in trending topics and the platform’s search feature, ban known QAnon-related URLs, and ban “swarming” of victims who are baselessly targeted by coordinated harassment campaigns pushed by its followers.

    The spokesperson said while the targeted enforcement against QAnon fell under Twitter’s existing platform manipulation rules, its classification of QAnon as coordinated harmful activity was a new designation. The spokesperson said Twitter was taking action now because of an escalating degree of harm associated with the conspiracy theory.

    Twitter plans to permanently suspend accounts that violate existing policies around platform manipulation, ban evasion and operate multiple accounts, behaviors commonly seen used by QAnon accounts, the spokesperson said. Twitter began blocking QAnon websites last week and will continue to block the distribution of QAnon-related URLs, the spokesperson said.

    Some QAnon supporters have also become more organized and aggressive in attacking celebrities. QAnon followers frequently comb through social media posts and Instagram pictures of Trump’s famous political opponents, intentionally misinterpreting benign photos as proof the celebrities are eating children. The followers then target those celebrities with harassment campaigns, coordinated by influencers in the QAnon community on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

    TV personality and author Chrissy Teigen has been a constant target of harassment by QAnon and Pizzagate accounts in recent weeks. The harassment campaign has since targeted friends in her life, some of whom are private figures, who have had their Instagram accounts swarmed by conspiracy theorists posting violent threats.

    This type of harassment campaign is known as “swarming” or “brigading,” and Twitter said those swarms will no longer be allowed on the platform. Twitter will ban users who threaten users during QAnon-related swarms, and will limit the reach and search visibility of those who participate in them.

    A Twitter spokesperson said this sort of anti-harassment policy could apply to other groups that are primarily motivated by targeted harassment in the future….

  227. says

    Politico – “Matt Gaetz appears to run afoul of House ethics rules”:

    Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has privately engaged in several spending practices in his nearly four years in office that appear to be in conflict with the House’s ethics rules, a POLITICO investigation has found.

    Gaetz, a close ally of President Donald Trump from the Florida Panhandle, improperly sent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a limited liability company linked to a speech-writing consultant who was ousted from the Trump administration, in direct conflict with House rules.

    In another possible violation, a private company installed a television studio in his father’s home in Niceville, Fla., which Gaetz uses when he appears on television. Taxpayers foot the bill to rent the television camera, and the private company that built the studio — which Gaetz refuses to identify — takes a fee each time he appears on air, his office said. It’s unclear how much it cost the private company to construct the studio.

    This may run afoul of the House gift rule, which prohibits any lawmaker, aide, and their family members from accepting gifts worth more than $50. The official definition of a gift is very broad and covers virtually any good or service with monetary value.

    Gaetz’s office denies wrongdoing in both cases. Gaetz’s aides said the House Ethics Committee approved both arrangements but declined to produce any evidence that that was the case.

    His latest actions suggest a broader pattern by the second-term lawmaker of pushing the bounds of — if not outright defying — restrictions intended to guard against corruption and conflicts of interest.

    The Florida Republican concedes that he improperly sent $28,000 in taxpayer funds to a limited liability company connected to the speech-writing consultant, Darren Beattie, a former White House aide who was ousted after appearing at a convention known as a forum for racist and white supremacist views. Gaetz’s aides said it was a clerical error that they are now working to reverse. House rules explicitly prohibit spending taxpayer dollars on speech-writing consultants.

    Gaetz’s office likewise declined to detail the television studio arrangement or produce documentation that it was approved. House officials and experts on the chamber’s rules said it was extraordinarily unusual and likely violates the gift ban rule.

    Gaetz’s spending has already been under review….

    Much more atl.

  228. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Regarding Presidential succession, whenever the Vice President has succeeded the President due to the latter’s death, the VP has remained vacant until the next election. The replacement of Spiro Agnew with Gerry Ford was a bit of an anomaly and required Senate approval–which could have been derailed by a fillibuster.

  229. says

    Here’s a link to the July 22 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Worrying trends of coronavirus infection are emerging in southern Europe and in the Balkan region, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, said on Wednesday.

    “Obviously the Americas is clearly still the major hot spot, North, Central and South America, but we have disease beginning to accelerate in Africa,” Ryan told the Newstalk radio station in his native Ireland.

    He added: “Also, even in Europe, while certainly in western Europe the disease has come under control, we still have some worrying trends in southern Europe and the Balkans so we’re not out of the woods just yet in the European environment. It requires sustained vigilance.”

  230. says

    From Marina Hyde’s latest piece in the Guardian (the title seems to have a distant relationship with her main point):

    …Through sheer unconvincing overuse, “dead cat” is now political gush. It is bandied about so incontinently that these days it conveys nothing so much as the gaucheness of the bandier. Above all, it should be treated with deep suspicion as it seeks to flatten complex events into an endless series of binaries in which only idiots are paying attention to the “wrong” side. In fact, two things can be important at the same time. It is extremely important we understand the government’s post-Brexit trade machinations, and it is extremely important that we understand they and their predecessors didn’t want to understand what Russia was up to. Can we please finally give the “dead cat” its last rites?

    Pretending you know EXACTLY what is going on, all the time, is a form of conspiracist mindset. While distraction is absolutely a major weapon in the arsenal of the majority of politicians, it is neither accurate nor illuminating to reduce virtually all events down to simple “dead cats” – much less a feline centipede of them. More than being unhelpful, it is itself riven with a dangerous kind of contempt, perhaps of the same type the denouncer thinks they’re denouncing. What is it really born of, bar the sense that you know better, and the sheeple who don’t agree with you are dupes or idiots? In that specific respect, perhaps those dead-catting around are not so different from Putin himself. After all, both are gripped by the deeply superior belief that electorates need to be saved from themselves.

  231. says

    BBC – “Anti-Semitism: Labour pays damages for ‘hurt’ to whistleblowers”:

    Labour has agreed to pay “substantial” damages to seven former employees who sued the party in an anti-Semitism row.

    The party has issued an unreserved apology in the High Court for making “false and defamatory” comments about seven whistleblowers who spoke out in a BBC Panorama programme last year.

    The individuals had criticised the then leadership’s handling of complaints.

    Labour said they were wrongly accused of “bad faith” and caused “distress, embarrassment and hurt” by the party.

    The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the payout was an “extraordinary moment” and underlined leader Sir Keir Starmer’s determination to get to grips with the shadow of anti-Semitism hanging over the party.

    In the July 2019 programme, entitled Is Labour Anti-Semitic?, a number of former party officials alleged that senior figures close to the leadership at the time had interfered in the process of dealing with anti-Semitism complaints.

    They also claimed they had faced a huge increase in complaints since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.

    In response, a party spokesman denounced them as “disaffected former staff” who had “personal and political axes” to grind. They were also accused of trying to undermine Mr Corbyn.

    Seven of the whistleblowers – Kat Buckingham, Michael Creighton, Samuel Matthews, Dan Hogan, Louise Withers Green, Benjamin Westerman and Martha Robinson – took legal action and asked the Labour Party formally to apologise in court.

    In a statement read out in the High Court, Labour said it unreservedly apologised and was determined to root out anti-Semitism in the party and the wider Labour movement.

    “Before the broadcast of the programme, the Labour Party issued a press release that contained defamatory and false allegations about these whistleblowers,” the party said.

    “We acknowledge the many years of dedicated and committed service that the whistleblowers have given to the Labour Party as members and as staff. We appreciate their valuable contribution at all levels of the party.

    “We unreservedly withdraw all allegations of bad faith, malice and lying. We would like to apologise unreservedly for the distress, embarrassment and hurt caused by their publication. We have agreed to pay them damages.”

    Labour has also agreed to pay damages to the presenter of the programme, BBC journalist John Ware.

    It said Mr Ware, an award-winning investigative reporter who has worked for the BBC for more than 30 years, was subject to “false and defamatory” comments before the programme was aired which had now been withdrawn.

    Shadow Attorney General Lord Falconer, who was attending court on the behalf of the Labour Party, told the BBC the settlement had brought a “disastrous chapter” to an end.

    The legal settlement was welcomed by current and former Jewish Labour MPs, including Margaret Hodge and Ruth Smeeth, the latter describing the whistleblowers are “heroes”.

    Labour MP Chris Bryant told the BBC that the party had been “dragged through the mud” and he “really hoped this can a moment where we move forward”.

    The Jewish Labour Movement said the Panorama programme had “shone a light on the party’s failure to act” against anti-Jewish racism and the “growing culture of denial” within its ranks.

    “Under new leadership, our hope is the party will continue to demonstrate this willingness to change,” it said.

    But Unite general secretary Len McCluskey described the settlement as a “misuse” of party’s funds, suggesting Labour had been advised that it would win the case.

    Yesterday, reportedly “Jeremy Corbyn, Jennie Formby and Seumas Milne…instructed lawyers to complain to the Labour Party about the party’s proposed settlement of its libel suit from whistleblowers featured in the BBC’s Panorama last July.”

  232. says


    a new Trump ad warning of chaos & violence depicts a cop being attacked by protesters…

    …only it’s a pic from Kyiv in 2014, when Yanukovich’s thugs fought to quash a democratic uprising.”

    Images atl.

  233. says

    Reality Winner, the U.S. Air Force veteran sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to leaking an NSA document about Russians hacking U.S. voting software, is one of the more than 500 women in a Texas Federal prison who have contracted Covid-19 her mother tells CNN.”

    Whistleblower #RealityWinner is being ‘retaliated against harshly’ for talking to press & was congratulated by guard for her #COVID19 positive test results, according to sister @WinnerBrittany. Asked #11thCircuit for compassionate release 3 months ago re: pandemic”

  234. says

    Thread from Brianna Keilar: “Today on my show @TimMurtaugh made the false and irresponsible claim that hydroxycholorquine is safe and effective. It’s neither. He cited only one study, because there is only one study out of a large body of research that shows a positive result – and experts suspect its wrong….”

  235. says

    Holy back flips.

    This ‘Senator Johnson…fully and repeatedly endorsed Vice President Biden’s efforts to remove Viktor Shokin’

    Biden Campaign’s memo on #RonJohnson’s sham investigation is devastatingly good. They have the receipts.”

    Link to the memo atl. LOL at “Whether he will call himself as a witness remains unclear.”

  236. says

    Geoff Garin:

    From today’s NY Times:

    As of June, there were nearly 300,000 fewer factory jobs in the United States than there were when Mr. Trump was inaugurated.


    U.S. factory output declined throughout 2019, as Mr. Trump’s trade war intensified, and it has dropped further this year

  237. says

    SC @370, it takes lot of death, a lot reporting on overwhelmed hospital and morgues, for some people to start getting a clue.

    In other news, it’s informative to take a look at how the two major campaigns for president of the USA are spending their ad money: an NBC News analysis found that 52% of Donald Trump’s campaign cable-television advertising is going toward Fox News. For the Biden campaign, 22% of the cable-television ad buys have gone toward Fox News, while a 23% plurality is going to CNN.

  238. says

    The Trump campaign lied, so they got slapped by some people in Maine:

    […] the Bangor Daily News reported this week that the owners of a Maine brewery were originally told that some members of the Trump campaign were going to come in for a beer while getting pizza from an adjacent restaurant. Soon after, the owners discovered the campaign was instead advertising a formal “Women for Trump” event at the brewery. Feeling misled, the owners canceled the gathering.

  239. says

    New Legal War Over Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Census Policy

    The first official shot in what could be a massive legal war over […] Trump’s new anti-immigrant census policy was fired on Wednesday, in an existing case that immigrant rights groups had previously brought against the administration.

    Trump directed the Census Bureau on Tuesday to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count that will be used to dole out U.S. House seats among the states. The policy will boost the electoral power of white, rural parts of the country, while starving immigrant-rich regions of representation.

    The administration was already facing a lawsuit challenging the underlying citizenship data project that will fuel this new policy.

    In that case, the groups suing the administration — Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund — told the court on Wednesday that they will be expanding their lawsuit to target the new policy dealing with congressional apportionment as well.

    The new policy presents the “same attendant issues of lack of accuracy and discrimination against Latinos, non-U.S. citizens and those who live near non-U.S. citizens,” as the data collection project, the groups said.

    “Plaintiffs allege that this exclusion from apportionment intends to discriminate, and will result in discrimination against these groups,” the filing said. “Accordingly, Plaintiffs give notice that they intend to seek leave of Court to amend their complaint to include new allegations and claims.” […]

  240. says

    From Wonkette:

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is being gross, you guys. He traveled to Denmark on an aeroplane, coming directly from the dirtiest, nastiest most COVID-infested country in the world, the one from which pretty much no countries are allowing visitors — we are talking about the good old USA — and proceeded to just … ugh … touch people. […]

    even during Not Pandemic, you don’t want Mike Pompeo touching you.

    […] Pompeo tried to touch Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod right on his hand skin. Kofod deflected the gesture, because A) gross and B) Denmark does not have a coronavirus problem and would not like one, please and thank you.

    [Link to YouTube video of the incident described above. Snipped details of Pompeo trying 3 times to shake hands, and being rebuffed every time.]

    […] we have accidentally shaken hands during this very weird time. It happens. We are all living through a thing, and it’s strange, and when it happens, you are like “OH SHIT, I AM DISGUSTING!” and then […]. We just go wash our hands.)

    But to fuck it up once and then immediately fuck it up like two seconds later? How dumb and gross ARE you, Mike Pompeo?

    Pompeo has been making some news lately, because for some racist reason he’s been attacking the New York Times’s 1619 Project, even though it debuted almost a whole year ago. He’s also released his long-awaited (like a herpes flare-up) draft report on “unalienable rights,” put together by his Commission on Unalienable Rights, a fundamentalist Hitler Jesus poison document meant to rid the world of all these so-called newfangled “rights” America has been exporting, like abortion rights, and the right to live fully and equally anywhere in the world as an LGBTQ person. Pompeo thinks that’s a bad right!

    Pompeo, a Christian theocrat if there ever was one, thinks rights should be based on “natural law,” a made-up concept propagated by Christian Right whackjobs that underpins most religious Right “scholarship” today. The idea is that the only true rights are those that come from God. […] dressed up in faux-intellectual language. Pompeo wanted his natural law […] commission to help get America back to the “Judeo-Christian tradition on which this country was founded,” and away from stuff he in his limited knowledge thinks Jesus does not approve of. ([…] “Judeo-Christian” is a buzzword used by Christian supremacist theocrats to hide their true Christian supremacist views; they add the “Judeo” in hopes the reader will think American Jews are aligned with, or even want fuckall to do with them. They are not, and they do not.)

    Surprise, Pompeo’s commission found that the “foremost” “unalienable” rights are property rights and religious freedom (to impose fundamentalist Christianity on the rest of the population). Its report says “abortion, affirmative action, [and] same-sex marriage” are “divisive social and political controversies,” but certainly not on the level of “unalienable” rights!

    Basically, under Mike Pompeo, notions that gay rights and women’s rights are human rights, which the State Department used to push around the world, are gone. Pompeo doesn’t want America exporting any kind of diplomacy that doesn’t fit into his rightwing Christian supremacist bigoted worldview.

    Anyway, that is just some other news you need to know about Mike Pompeo, which you might not know if we hadn’t clickbaited you into reading a thing about his stinky, sticky, sweaty, foul, unwashed front paws.


  241. says

    From Megan McArdle, writing for The Washington Post:

    […] [Trump’s] whoppers are getting too big to be believed, even by people who really want to.

    “You will never hear this on the Fake News concerning the China Virus,” he tweeted on Tuesday, “but by comparison to most other countries, who are suffering greatly, we are doing very well — and we have done things that few other countries could have done!”

    This is false. Indubitably, indisputably false.

    Sure, we did better during the first wave than most major European nations, largely because our initial outbreak moved more slowly, giving us more warning to lock down. But those other countries now have their first waves under control; we don’t. Our death rate per 1 million citizens has surpassed that of Switzerland and will soon overtake that of France. Data show we are not only one of the worst performers in the entire world, but the only rich economy in which the death rate is both high and climbing.

    […] we’re still outperforming some developing countries run by incompetent strongmen — Iran, say, or Brazil. But that’s not really a comparison we should brag about. Americans don’t aspire to do a hair better than a handful of the world’s worst governments […]

    Finally, we have discovered the limits to Trump’s spin strategy. […]

    […] the public is inclined to forgive many of the lies, as long as the stakes are low enough. […] “Everybody that wants a [covid-19] test can get a test.” The public didn’t seem to care nearly as much as we did. At the time Trump made that statement, his polls were actually on the high side of normal for him, and stayed there weeks longer.

    Three months later, of course, the president’s polling numbers are not so good, because a half-controlled pandemic is still burning through the country. Covid-19 is moving too fast, and its results are too grim, for anyone to ignore.

    Responding to a pandemic is just one of those things you can’t fake, or spin, or bluster into submission. If every other country in our economic class is controlling the virus while Americans continue to die, no amount of presidential prevarication will distract voters from that essential fact. And there are no magic words, no outlandish accusations against immigrants or Democrats or the mainstream media that can persuade them to care about something else instead. With reelection looming, Trump is finally learning the lesson that most salesmen learn in their 20s: In the short term, expedient lies may get you the deal, but in the long run, the only way to keep the customer is to actually deliver.


  242. says

    So Much For The Job Gains Trump Talked Up: Census Data Shows Employment Downturn

    For several weeks, real-time data has suggested that the economic recovery could be stalling in the United States. [N]ew data from the Census Bureau on Wednesday reveals that employment has taken a significant hit and the economy could be declining again.

    The New York Times reported Wednesday, that new data from the Census Bureau showed that the number of employed people fell by more than 4 million last week — marking the fourth consecutive week of decline.

    […] job gains that were once touted by […] Trump may have been lost since mid-May, when new coronavirus cases surged in parts of the country.

    Just under 52 percent of American adults were employed last week, according the survey, down from 54 percent in June. […]

    The latest data corresponds to the survey week for the July report, which will be released in early August. If the results hold up again, it suggests that report could show a loss of millions of jobs, just as enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government are set to expire.

  243. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Megan McArdle is, as usual, entirely too optimistic. Darth Cheeto’s faithful will keep lapping up his lies not just in spite of their being outlandish, but because they are outlandish. They demonstrate their loyalty by believing things that are humiliating.

    This is the same sort of “middle ground” McArdle keeps trying to stake out–as in her lukewarmer climate positions that wind up being an attempt to average between truth and denial. She keeps failing to understand her subject matter precisely because she doesn’t realize that understanding is important.

  244. says

    “Top Trump ally @RichardGrenell is getting deep into QAnon this week — blaming @chrissyteigen
    for the QAnon hordes harassing her and retweeting QAnon promoter Jordan Sather, who urges his fans to consume a substance the FDA says is the equivalent of drinking bleach.”

    As Laura Rozen notes, this nutball was recently Acting DNI. Prior to that, he was the US ambassador to Germany. He’s also gay, but had no problem being a part of Pompeo’s State Department (see #s 63 and 374 above).

  245. says


    A federal official who may not have been lawfully appointed is using camouflaged, anonymous officers who aren’t trained for domestic policing under a statute that doesn’t authorize shows of force to arrest protestors under a standard that violates the Fourth Amendment.”

  246. tomh says

    Texas AG Press Release

    Attorney General Ken Paxton today [July 17] issued a guidance letter to religious private schools in Texas, informing them that local public health orders attempting to restrict their reopenings violate the United States and Texas Constitutions and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Moreover, local orders seeking to restrict the reopening of religious private schools or institutions is inconsistent with Governor Abbott’s executive orders, and therefore, are invalid.

    Full text of the letter, which concludes:

    Thus, as protected by the First Amendment and Texas law, religious private schools may continue to determine when it is safe for their communities to resume in-person instruction free from any government mandate or interference. Religious private schools therefore need not comply with local public health orders to the contrary.

  247. says

    CNN – “NFL owner and Trump ambassador to UK sparks watchdog inquiry over allegations of racist and sexist remarks and push to promote Trump business”:

    The billionaire NFL owner who serves as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom was investigated by the State Department watchdog after allegations that he made racist and sexist comments to staff and sought to use his government position to benefit the President’s personal business in the UK, multiple sources told CNN.

    Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, the top envoy since August 2017 to one of the United States’ most important allies, made racist generalizations about Black men and questioned why the Black community celebrates Black History Month, according to exclusive new information shared with CNN by three sources and a diplomat familiar with the complaints to the State Department inspector general.

    His comments about women’s looks have been “cringeworthy,” a source with knowledge of the situation said, and two sources said it was a struggle to get him on board for an event for International Women’s Day.

    “He’s said some pretty sexist, racist,” things, the diplomat with knowledge of the complaints made to the IG said of Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and one of the owners of the New York Jets.

    Asked about the specific allegations reported by CNN, Johnson did not deny them. He called it an “honor of a lifetime” to serve as ambassador and “to lead the talented, diverse team of the U.S. Mission to the United Kingdom.” Johnson called the team “the best in diplomacy” adding, “I greatly value the extraordinary work that each and every member of the team does to strengthen and deepen our vital alliance.”

    On Wednesday afternoon, Johnson tweeted, “I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times. These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.”

    A House Foreign Affairs Committee aide told CNN Wednesday that Chairman Eliot Engel “has instructed the Committee to look into this matter, and we will be seeking information from the State Department in the days ahead.”

    It is unclear how much the investigators focused on Johnson’s inappropriate comments. Of particular interest to them were allegations that, after being asked by the President, the ambassador pushed to have the Open — the prestigious British golf championship — take place at one of Trump’s golf properties, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

    Last week, a “Pledge for a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace” was circulated in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Among its steps, the bureau said it was committed to holding “toxic leaders accountable through counseling and coaching, as well as refer for formal discipline, when warranted,” according to the internal memo seen by CNN.

    It is unclear if the specific allegations of offensive remarks are included in the inspector general’s report, which has not been published. It is also unclear whether the report will recommend disciplinary action for the ambassador.

    Johnson is a deep-pocketed Republican donor. According to Federal Election Commission records, in February, Johnson gave $575,000 to Trump Victory, a fundraising committee for the President’s re-election, and $355,000 to the Republican National Committee. In May, the ambassador gave an additional $1 million to America First Action, Inc., a political action committee that promotes Trump’s policies….

    Much more atl. I’m so angry today.

  248. says

    Guess who has an anti-racism analysis?

    Navy Vet Chris David, who went viral standing while being beaten by Portland police.

    This is a beautiful man.

    ‘I want to use my 15 minutes to put out a message to my fellow vets. I also want to use my 15 minutes to try to refocus this whole discussion back to #BlackLivesMatter, as opposed to an old white guy who got beat up, because I don’t think I’m worth the attention…’

    Not cool how ABC ended the video with an unchallenged police statement contradicting what we all witnessed with our lying eyes on video.”

    Video atl.

  249. says

    Mehdi Hasan:

    Me: “Jack, would you inject yourself with disinfectant because Donald Trump is like Henry Ford, you say?”

    Trump supporter Jack Kingston: “Tell me what the definition of disinfectant is.”

    My show @AJHeadtoHead is back this Friday, and it’s lively:…

    Video clip atl.

  250. johnson catman says

    re SC @385: Yeah, I wish I was an omnipotent being. I have much anger, like you. Not being omnipotent, I feel a lot of despair because of republicans, authoritarians, and rich people. I want the world to be a better place, but there are so many assholes that have power and DON’T want the world to be better for most people.

  251. tomh says

    NBC News:
    Trump says he is sending ‘hundreds’ of federal law enforcement officers to Chicago
    By Lauren Egan, July 22, 2020, 3:58 PM PDT

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would send federal law enforcement officers to Chicago to address the city’s recent uptick in violence, marking his latest deployment of federal agents to cities run by Democrats that the president has claimed are out of control.

    “I am announcing that the Department of Justice will immediately surge federal law enforcement to the city of Chicago. The FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and Homeland Security will together be sending hundreds of skilled law enforcement officers to Chicago to help drive down violent crime,” Trump announced Wednesday at a White House event addressing crime in cities.

    The president said he would also be sending law enforcement to other cities, “soon,” including Albuquerque.

    Trump has suggested that he is considering sending federal law enforcement to New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore as well as other cities.

    “The cities unfortunately that are in trouble are all run by Democrats,” Trump said later Wednesday at a White News news conference when asked if he was unfairly targeting certain cities for political reasons. “I think in their own way, they want us to go in.”

    “At some point, we may have no other choice but to go in,” he said.

    Federal agents have already been sent to Kansas City, Missouri, as part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Legend” aimed at addressing violent crime in cities.

    Trump’s “Wag the Dog” war.

  252. says

    Hannah Rosenthal at JTA – “Anti-Semitism is rising worldwide — so why is Trump’s special envoy targeting the president’s American Jewish critics?”:

    Around the world — from Argentina to Poland to the United States — anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise. On social media, an intensifying wave of COVID-19 conspiracy theories is spreading unchecked, pinning blame for the pandemic on George Soros, Israel and the Jewish people. In Germany this month, the defense minister was forced to disband one of the country’s most elite military units after uncovering an infestation of neo-Nazis in its ranks.

    From 2009 to 2012 under the Obama administration, I served as the U.S. Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Anti-Semitism. Today I watch this growing tide of hatred and intolerance with mounting dread. And I feel tremendous frustration as I watch the current occupant of my former role, Elan Carr, use his position to score political points for President Trump and shamefully malign the president’s Jewish critics.

    Last week, Carr took to Twitter to accuse J Street, a prominent liberal Jewish American advocacy group, of using an anti-Semitic image as part of its campaign against the Israeli government’s threatened unilateral annexation of the West Bank. (Full disclosure: I attended J Street’s first planning meeting as a member of J Street’s Advisory Council in 2007.)

    The image, which Carr claimed evoked “anti-Semitism and crude anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” turned out to be nothing more than a press photo from a White House event that featured the key U.S. and Israeli figures who are now publicly coordinating on potential annexation: Trump, Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

    Labeling J Street’s post as anti-Semitic was both absurd and malicious. Even leaving aside the utterly dubious merits of Carr’s claim, it is entirely inappropriate that he would use his official, taxpayer-funded position to meddle in domestic politics and attack Jewish critics of the president’s foreign policy. Such bad-faith, transparently partisan behavior can only serve to undermine the special envoy’s own credibility and ability to fight actual anti-Semitism around the world.

    For the Trump administration, this is sadly nothing new. Time and again, the president, his advisers and his appointees to senior positions have sought to politicize questions of anti-Semitism and policy toward Israel. By smearing their political opponents as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, they create the false impression that all criticisms of Israel are anti-Semitism, and myopically focus the entire conversation about anti-Semitism on critics of Israel, while ignoring the much broader canvas of hatred against Jews in this country and around the world.

    By conflating fair criticism of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism, the Trump administration has led us to this ridiculous spectacle. The self-proclaimed “best friends” of the Jewish people are hurling charges of anti-Semitism at American Jews themselves while continuing to largely ignore the anti-Semitic beliefs, statements and actions of some of their own far-right, white nationalist supporters and allies. Despite study after study showing that the vast majority of today’s violent anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. originate from the far right, the Trump administration remains committed to its myopic culture war against an exaggerated enemy on the left….

  253. johnson catman says

    re tomh @391: How long before these US gestapo units actually kill someone? Even “non-lethal” or “less lethal” projectiles have a chance to kill someone, and with the increased presence of these unidentified troops doing the bidding of Barr and Trump, the odds are that someone is going to die because of their actions.

  254. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC @387 Clenched tentacle salute to Chris David. That’s how to serve your country.

  255. tomh says

    God Help Us if Judy Shelton Joins the Fed
    By Steven Rattner
    Mr. Rattner served as counselor to the Treasury secretary in the Obama administration
    July 22, 2020

    Having failed in past attempts to put unqualified ideologues on the Federal Reserve Board, President Trump is giving it another try — and is closer to victory than previously.

    The nominee in question — Judy Shelton, known for taking long-discredited positions on the monetary system — makes Mr. Trump’s earlier rejected choices seem almost conventional. Among other heretical stances, she has supported the abolition of the Federal Reserve itself, putting her in a position to undermine the very institution she is being nominated to serve.

    “Why do we need a central bank?” Ms. Shelton asked in a Wall Street Journal essay in 2009. She wants monetary policy set by the price of gold, a long-abandoned approach that would be akin to a Supreme Court justice embracing the Code of Hammurabi…

    Regrettably, after much hesitation and with evident reluctance even from Republicans, the Senate Banking Committee voted Tuesday to advance Ms. Shelton’s nomination to the full Senate. We mustn’t let her nomination become overshadowed by the many other daunting challenges we face at the moment…

    Until her confirmation hearing, she backed getting rid of federal deposit insurance, a key protection for individual savers…

    If Mr. Trump wins re-election, he will have the chance to nominate a new chair of the Fed when Jerome Powell’s term expires in 2022…God help us if the next chair is Ms. Shelton or anyone else with her views. Senate Republicans must recognize this danger and show some backbone.

    What are the chances that Republicans show some backbone? Two chances — slim and none.

  256. says

    MSNBC last night:

    “Isolated Coronavirus Antibodies Offer Hope For Vaccine, Treatment”:

    Dr. David Ho, scientific director and CEO of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, talks with Rachel Maddow about new research into using antibodies from COVID-19 survivors in developing a treatment or vaccine against new coronavirus infections.

    “Dr. Vin Gupta: ‘There Is No School Reopening Strategy’”:

    Dr. Vin Gupta tells Lawrence O’Donnell that he’s “astonished” that governors in states with rising coronavirus cases are moving ahead with plans to reopen schools in the fall without a national strategy from the Trump administration to open safely with resources and testing: “We don’t have enough PPE stores for health care workers… much less teachers.”

    “Neal Katyal: Donald Trump Is ‘Fighting The American People’”:

    Neal Katyal, the former U.S. Solicitor General, joins Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss Donald Trump’s “cowardice and lack of principle” in sending federal officers to Portland to end anti-racism protests.

    At the end of his legal analysis, Katyal points to something that’s a hallmark of Trump’s actions: the shifting rationales, which would be implausible independently but are obviously pretextual lies when rolled out in succession like this. Same thing they did with the Muslim ban. Same thing they did with the attempt to change the census form. It’s just constant bad faith and gaslighting.

  257. says

    PRI – “Why is Brazil’s Bolsonaro peddling hydroxychloroquine despite the science?”:

    It’s been two weeks since Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was diagnosed with COVID-19. He has been quarantined to the presidential palace in Brasília since then, but that has not kept him out of the spotlight, nor has it changed his response to the pandemic.

    In fact, he has doubled down, repeatedly calling for the economy to be reopened despite rising cases, and praising the medication, hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, for his returning health.

    “This was my experience,” he told a group of religious supporters outside the palace in Brasília on Saturday. “Twelve hours after taking that first dose of hydroxychloroquine, I was 100% better. So, it worked for me. I’m the living proof.”

    The following day, he again greeted his fans outside the palace and lifted a box of hydroxychloroquine into the air, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

    The video went viral on social media. His opponents joked that it reminded them of Disney’s “The Lion King,” with baby Simba being lifted up over the Pride Rock landscape.

    It is a fitting metaphor for Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 infection. He’s used his illness as a platform to sell both his cynicism about the coronavirus and social restrictions and his praise for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Those are the anti-malaria drugs that the World Health Organization says should no longer be prescribed to COVID-19 patients. Tests have shown they likely offer no benefit and could even increase the risk of death.

    Nevertheless, Bolsonaro has become one of the drugs’ most vocal champions.

    “I trust hydroxychloroquine; how about you?” he told followers in a video he posted over social media on July 7.

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has downplayed the coronavirus, fought with state governors over social restrictions, forced out two health ministers, attended rallies without wearing a mask, and repeatedly called for the economy’s reopening. He did so again over the weekend.
    “From what they tell me, no one has died from a lack of ICUs or respirators. So, we need to think about the economy. We can’t keep talking about lives, lives, lives. Social isolation kills,” he told supporters. “Without a salary, without a job, you die from hunger.”

    But Brazil has been reopening far too soon, according to researchers, analysts and even a recent report from Citibank Brazil. The country has yet to hit a peak number of cases of the coronavirus, but stores, shopping malls, restaurants and bars have been getting back to work. At the same time, the number of cases has risen. Brazil has been averaging more than a thousand deaths a day from COVID-19 for weeks, and more than 80,000 people have died.

    Bolsonaro’s opponents blame the president for the country’s failed response to the pandemic that has made it the world’s hardest-hit country after the United States.

    “The president is an enemy of the fight against COVID-19, and one day, he should be held responsible for the tens of thousands of deaths,” Rogério Carvalho told the Brazilian outlet TVT last week.

    He’s a former surgeon general of the Brazilian state of Sergipe and congressman for the Workers Party, one of Bolsonaro’s staunch opponents.

    “He used chloroquine as a trick to create the false illusion that COVID-19 would be easy to manage because there was a drug,” Carvalho said.

    That opinion is echoed by many.

    “Obviously, the president wants people to get back to work soon to boost the economy, which was already shrinking and plummeted during the pandemic. So, by praising chloroquine, he’s offered a placebo so that people lose their fear of leaving their homes,” said Brazilian political blogger Marcelo Idiarte.

    There may be both political and practical reasons behind the government’s active promotion of the drugs.

    “This is a person that denies reality. Creates his own reality and then presents that reality as propaganda for his followers and for the whole of Brazilian society. So, we are talking about a very radical and fanatic way of doing politics,” said Federico Finchelstein, an Argentine historian at The New School for Social Research.

    “Basically, what we are seeing is a very fascist way of telling lies and then believing those lies.”

    According to Brazilian media outlets, a number of companies producing chloroquine in Brazil are owned by Bolsonaro supporters who have met with the president during the pandemic. Additionally, the investigative outlet Reporter Brasil revealed in June that the country’s Army Chemical and Pharmaceutical Laboratory had increased its chloroquine production a hundred-fold since March, producing 750,000 tablets per month since then. The country now has a glut of the product to sell and distribute.

    But not all doctors are following orders.

    “For now, we live in a free country, despite the president of the republic that we have,” said Marlus Thompson, head of the ICU unit at a hospital in the northeastern state of Espírito Santo, in a widely publicized WhatsApp message earlier this month.

    “In the Intensive Care Unit [chloroquine] will not be used under any circumstances, because I am the technician responsible. I sign for the unit. I take responsibility for what happens there.”

    The Brazilian Medical Association and the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases recently joined WHO in recommending that doctors stop prescribing chloroquine to their patients. But with Bolsonaro on the mend, it’s clear that he’ll be using his case as a sign of the treatment’s effectiveness for months, regardless of the scientific and medical evidence.

    “It’s difficult to try to imagine what’s going through his head. It might be a political game. He might really believe that it works,” said Márcia Grisotti, a sociology professor at the Santa Catarina Federal University. “When someone believes that something works, they are going to take it to the very end. But it’s a risky game for a politician because he puts everything else at risk. And Bolsonaro is defending something that has no foundation.”

  258. says

    Democracy Now! – “COVID-19 Lays Bare South Africa’s Rampant Inequality & Fault Lines of Post-Apartheid Society”:

    COVID-19 infections are skyrocketing in South Africa, now fifth in the world for coronavirus cases, with an already fragile hospital system. “I really think it’s our inequality reckoning moment,” says Fatima Hassan, a human rights lawyer with the Health Justice Initiative. “All of the fault lines of South Africa’s post-apartheid democracy, and its inequality and its violence, is actually coming to the fore.”

    AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to South Africa, where skyrocketing COVID-19 infections have made the country fifth in the world for coronavirus cases, overwhelming an already fragile hospital system and signaling a dangerous turn for the African continent, which has so far avoided the worst of the pandemic. South Africa recorded nearly 382,000 cases as of Wednesday, a number that’s certain to be an underestimate. So far, the death rate in South Africa has remained low, even as case numbers soar, with nearly 5,400 reported fatalities. But South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the number of deaths could reach 50,000.

    FATIMA HASSAN:…So, I think the first issue with the [vaccine] trial is that what’s significant is that the president and the government agreed to offer solidarity and participate in the trial, which is being led by Oxford University through South Africa’s Wits University. The difficulty, of course, is, one, trying to secure a sufficient number of volunteers for the trial, with — as you correctly point out, within a climate where the numbers of people living with COVID are increasing, and we also estimate that that is a significant undercount because our testing strategy has been hampered by the lack of available testing kits, so the criteria for testing has changed, and, in effect, it amounts to rationing at the moment.

    The second issue with the trial, which actually is — you know, involves, quite significantly, a pharmaceutical company called AstraZeneca. And the issue around AstraZeneca’s relationship with Oxford, the relationship with the South African government, as in the contractual relationship, including Wits University, and clinical participants in other parts of the world, in Brazil, as well, is unclear. We’re calling for transparency in those agreements, because, on the one hand, if we are going to participate in a trial that is trying to ensure equitable access to a vaccine, if it is successful, then, certainly, there has to be a framework where equitable access can actually be achieved. And we certainly don’t want to be in a situation like we were during the HIV/AIDS crisis, where wealthier countries are able to access a vaccine much sooner, or some countries in Africa are able to access life-saving vaccination and treatment, and others are not.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask you specifically about this issue. You mentioned trials in Brazil, as well. Is there a situation already developing where the testing of vaccines is occurring in the Third World, but the initial beneficiaries of many vaccines will be in the advanced, developed countries?

    FATIMA HASSAN: So, certainly, there’s a concern that there are countries that have volunteered to participate in the trial, including in the Global South, but the terms and the conditions for what access would mean, if the trial is successful, is uncertain and unclear. I think what is, you know, concerning is that people are labeling it the “Oxford trial,” but we know that there’s deep involvement of AstraZeneca, and the terms and conditions between Oxford University