Comments

  1. says

    Democrats brace for a flood of disinformation about vote-by-mail.

    Washington Post link

    So what’s going on with Russian efforts to disrupt the 2020 election?

    We got a glimpse into this question on Friday, when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence put out a statement that purported to “share insights with the American public about foreign threats to our election.”

    The news is that foreign interference is happening right now. It says “our adversaries” are “seeking to compromise the private communications” of campaigns and candidates — which appears to mean efforts at another 2016-style cybertheft. […]

    The statement also says this:

    In addition, foreign nations continue to use influence measures in social and traditional media in an effort to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, to shift U.S. policies, to increase discord and to undermine confidence in our democratic process.

    Specifically, it says that Russia in particular is trying to undermine such confidence, via the “spread” of “disinformation.” In other words, there are active disinformation campaigns underway, they are focused on undermining public faith in our democracy, and Russia is pushing such messaging.

    […] as Democratic leaders pointed out in their own statement in response, we need a far more “concrete and specific statement” from Trump’s intelligence officials about what all these efforts really entail, so voters can be protected against them.

    […] When it comes to disinformation, this would mean more specific answers to what disinformation is being spread, and how is it intended to mislead the public about the electoral process.

    […] Trump’s intelligence officials might be constrained from answering that question in great detail: because there will likely be no shortage of overlap between what that disinformation is saying and what Trump is saying on a regular basis.

    Trump’s own intelligence officials tell us that disinformation efforts are now trying to undermine confidence in the democratic process. But you know who else is doing that? Trump, that’s who.

    [Trump] routinely claims that vote-by-mail […] will be riddled with fraud. He suggests that, due to vote-by-mail, the outcome won’t be legitimate unless he wins.

    Do you think that maybe Russian disinformation might end up trafficking in something similar to that […]

    Rep. Adam B. Schiff […] said he fears the Russians will “amplify the false messages that the president is putting out” about vote-by-mail.

    […] Clint Watts, an information warfare expert at FPRI who tracks disinformation, tells me that Russian disinformation will seek to undermine our elections in exactly this way, and that this is already happening.

    “Russian disinformation about mail-in ballots repeats what President Trump is saying about mail in ballots,” Watts told me. “Russia is using Trump’s comments to undermine American confidence in mail-in ballots and the electoral process.”

    Watts noted that if officials wanted to communicate to the public that Russia is trying to undermine faith in vote-by-mail — and genuinely safeguard voters against such disinformation — they might do some kind of joint press briefing with election security officials at the Department of Homeland Security.

    In this scenario, intelligence officials could stress that some Russian disinformation efforts are trying to undermine faith in vote-by-mail, while the election security officials could specify what they’ve “done to secure it,” Watts says. Of course, Watts says, such a move would inevitably “counter the president.” Which is exactly the problem.

  2. says

    Lynna @ #491, thanks so much!

    The courts not only dealing him reverses but beginning to call out his/Barr’s dishonesty, and Geoffrey Berman’s public defiance, also seem important.

  3. says

    From the closing summary of today’s Guardian world liveblog:

    The WHO reported the greatest single-day increase in global cases yet seen, with the total rising by 284,196 in 24 hours. The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report.

  4. says

    Joy Reid brought “Who Won the Week?” to her MSNBC primetime Friday show.

    Fernand Amandi: Portland Wall of Moms
    David Jolly: Joe Biden
    Tiffany Cross: Joy Reid
    Joy Reid: the Yankees and the Nationals (for kneeling)

    Tiffany Cross will be hosting Reid’s former show this weekend. All In starts now, with guest host Mehdi Hasan.

  5. says

    SC @500, I agree.

    We reached the 500-comment total for the previous chapter of the Political Madness thread, so I am sure it will roll over and begin again at comment #1.

    For the convenience of readers, here are some links back to the previous chapter:

    Democrats brace for a flood of disinformation about vote-by-mail.

    From Wonkette: “In Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Times Sees Scheming Woman”

    Trump bypasses arms control pact to sell more large armed drones

    You don’t have mail: New postmaster general is generating exactly the anger and distrust Trump wants.

  6. says

    Mehdi Hasan is doing a good job of filling in for Chris Hayes on MSNBC. He guided a good interview with Masha Gessen about Fascism, especially Trump’s fascism. Gessen is a Russian-American journalist. She’s seen it all.

  7. says

    Oh, no, this is bad news. “Federal judge refuses Oregon’s attempt to limit abuses by Trump’s militarized thugs.”

    The day after one federal judge ruled to protect journalists from the Trump administration’s invasion of unmarked, militarized Department of Homeland Security thugs, another federal judge rejected a lawsuit by the state of Oregon seeking to force the federal troops to identify themselves and to place limits on their ability to detain protesters.

    U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum lacked standing to bring the lawsuit protecting Oregon residents from federal abuses. The state, according to Mosman, “has not shown it is vindicating an interest that is specific to the state itself.”

    This is bad news because Mosman declined to put the brakes on the Trump administration’s abuses (not that the DHS thugs would have obeyed a court order anyway), but the ruling at least does not foreclose the possibility of successful suits by other parties.

    “In the first place,” Mosman wrote, “although it involves allegations of harm done to protesters by law enforcement, no protester is a plaintiff here.” So a protester, or someone representing them, could have standing. (Hi there, ACLU!)

    Additionally, Mosman objected, the suit “is not seeking redress for any harm that has been done to protesters. Instead, it seeks an injunction against future conduct, which is also an extraordinary form of relief.” Psst, judge: federal forces are committing the same abuses night after night. It is ongoing conduct.

    In any case, these things “render the standing inquiry an unusually high bar to clear,” and, phew, give Mosman an out he was apparently looking for. The fight to protect the people of Portland and other U.S. cities continues, though.

    Link

  8. says

    If the federal government does something wrong, why doesn’t every citizen automatically have standing? How can you not have standing, when it’s your own friggin’ government?

  9. says

    As Rachel Maddow reported, the botched reopening in the USA may require a shutdown do-over, and an attempt to get the response to the coronavirus right this time.

    The video is only 2:43 long, but covers a lot of issues.

  10. says

    Representative Ted Yoho is using the New York Times approach. (See PZ’s thread The NY Times version of spin isn’t at all subtle.) Yoho is centering his criticism of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an argument that she is “making hay” out of the whole situation.

    Yoho is the guy in the wrong. Yoho is the guy who issued a not-apology.

    Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) on Friday denied reports that he had accosted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on the Capitol steps on Monday or that he had directed a sexist slur at the congresswoman claiming that “everything was directed at policy.”

    “I’m not going to try to defend myself,” Yoho told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on Friday. “I feel bad for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez who thinks this was — I called her these names, I did not call her these names. This was strictly on policy,” the congressman said, adding that he was “not worried about this.”

    Rep. Ted Yoho told Fox News on Friday that he had not accosted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Capitol steps or called her names. “She’s making hay out of this, she’s fundraising off of this,” Yoho said.

    The comments come after the Florida congressman appeared to make gestures at a watered down apology Wednesday, saying that he regretted “the abrupt manner” of the “conversation” he had with Ocasio-Cortez after a report surfaced that a reporter from The Hill overheard Yoho calling the congresswoman “disgusting” and saying that she was out of her “freaking mind” to suggest that an upshot in crime was linked to the economic burdens made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

    “It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America but that does not mean we should be disrespectful,” Yoho said on the House floor on Wednesday, adding that he would not apologize “for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country.”

    But any of what looked like it could be considered as a vague attempt at apologizing was taken back by Friday.

    When MacCallum asked Friday if he had used the words ‘fucking [B-word]’ in reference to Ocasio-Cortez, Yoho again denied the remarks, sayin that as he walked down the steps he said “‘this is such freaking B.S.’ That’s all I said.”

    The congressman suggested that the New York lawmaker had “spun” their interaction “into saying that I’m attacking all women and women of color,” but that the altercation was “strictly policy” and that Ocasio-Cortez advocated for policies that were “bad for this nation.”

    Yoho said that he often had conversations with members of Congress and that while “we don’t always walk away agreeing,” those conversations often ended in laughter “we’re always amicable,” he said.

    In a passionate rebuke Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said that the incident with Yoho reflected a culture of violence and violent language against women. “ I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    Yoho responded by claiming the progressive lawmaker was using “identity politics” saying, “I don’t play that.”

    The Republican congressman accused Ocasio-Cortez of using their confrontation to her advantage politically all the while “making fun” of the incident in private.

    “She’s making hay out of this, she’s fundraising off of this,” Yoho said.

    TPM link

    So, yeah, Yoho went on Fox News and lied, further slandering AOC.

  11. says

    Follow-up to comment 8.

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Sounds like Yahoo may have got a call from Trump, who reminded him of the pillars of Republicanism: never apologize, always lie, always attack.
    —————-
    Keep him talking. Great window on his party.

    YoHo is too dense to understand that Hannity is just putting him on to make money for Fox.
    ——————
    Keep digging your own grave, idiot.
    —————-
    He’s a member of the Board of a Christian organization in Orlando and they’re considering dumping him. He’s getting blow back from his colleagues ( even GOP’ers ) as well. But the thing that must gall him the most is that phony Christian image he puts on just took a hit.

    He should know better than to take on the real deal in a person like AOC from the phony one he occupies. He’s no damn match for her. It must piss him off to no end that he spent 6 years in the House as a back bencher but she came in on a roll to immediate stardom.
    ——————-
    we all heard his statements on the floor of the House. it was so sad that using his daughters and wife not only as a shield but as an example. his daughter and wife count. not some young poor upstart Latino woman who is someones daughter who has gained power. an articulate woman fighting for her beliefs. poor guy is lost in space. America is filled with woman like her.

  12. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    Somehow, 2020 seems to have just barely begun, and also to have been 10,000 years long. Does anyone remember the United States squaring off with Iran in an abortive war that involved American missiles blowing up a Iranian general and Iran mistakenly blowing a Ukrainian airliner out of the sky? Yeah, believe it or not, that was this year. Adam Schiff’s impassioned speech to the Senate, leaving everything on the field as he begged for a single witness before Republicans handed Donald Trump a free pass? Also 2020. Trump getting the president of South Korea to ferry a birthday card to Kim Jong-un? Nancy Pelosi demonstrating how she felt about Trump’s state of the disunion? Both 2020. Things actually happened before we descended into virus-Confederate statue-murder hornet stew.

    […] It’s hard to exaggerate just how terrible 2020 has already been. It’s also hard to exaggerate how transformative it’s becoming. The pandemic is still raging. The protests against racist actions by police that reignited in the wake of the murder of George Floyd are far from over, and those protests are being met with resistance from an all-new, all-stasi federal force. Trump and Republicans are still trying to forge racism, xenophobia, and conspiracy theories into a campaign strategy.

    Only this time, it doesn’t seem to be working. Because Trump is aiming his message at a world that no longer exists.

    For many Americans of every race, Trump’s electoral victory in 2016 was devastating […] he was explicitly racist. He didn’t disguise his fascistic mix of xenophobia and nationalism […]

    But 2020 feels different. That doesn’t mean we’ve “solved racism” or anything like it. […] It’s too much to suggest that the nation as a whole has moved even one notch on this scale—and it’s way off base for me to even attempt to make that measure—but the crowds that have come out in the fight against racist police violence in every city, the marches that have happened in even the most conservative rural areas, the baseball players kneeling at the start of this season’s games all suggest that something has changed. […]

    That’s far from the only thing that seems to have finally tipped over in the last few months. When President Obama looked for a stimulus package following the Great Recession in 2009, it took months of negotiation to gain a $831 billion program that covered a decade up to and including the first two years that Donald Trump was in office. In 2020, the CARES Act alone authorized expenditures of $2.2 trillion after a debate of two weeks, and it was just the first round of dealing with the pandemic. Not only have there been additional rounds of legislation, more will come. And when the disease itself is in the rear view, there will be still legislation to address the lasting economic impact.

    Somewhere back about April, the entire Chicago School of Economics that had dominated not just Republican thinking, but American policy, for decades … was quietly flushed. No one seems to have noticed, and Senate Republicans are still pounding their chest over the refusal of minimum wage workers to get out there an make ‘em a sam’ich no matter what the cost, but that argument appears to be done. It’s a dead certainty that once Trump is enjoying golf in some non-extradition country, Republicans will attempt to wave the “but the budget” flags once more. It’s just as certain that no one will listen to them. […]

    The Republican stance on the environment? Dead. Objections to national healthcare? Dead. […]

    It’s far too much to suggest that America is going to emerge from this crisis as a progressive paradise. […] we did just emerge from a record national recession caused by deregulation of banks and a massive imbalance of wealth, and the almost immediate response was to make the imbalance greater, strip away more regulations, and grease a pipeline to take tax dollars straight into the pockets of billionaires. […]

    Right now, 2020 America is still wearing 2019 America’s clothes, but it’s not that country. 2021 America is going to shed that disguise … and what we’ll find is likely to be something very different than what we expect.

    Link

  13. says

    Yikes. Bad news.

    The discredited researcher behind “Plandemic”—a viral video that falsely suggests the coronavirus is “activated” by face masks, amid other bizarre claims—is set for a major revival this weekend. And you have the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has drawn criticism for its ultra-conservative, pro-Trump programming, to thank.

    On the show America This Week, which is distributed to hundreds of local news stations operated by Sinclair, host Eric Bolling interviewed Judy Mikovits, the virologist whose wild assertions about the coronavirus and infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci are at the center of “Plandemic.” The interview […] included chyrons asking, “Was COVID-19 Created in a Lab?” and “Did Dr. Fauci Create Coronavirus?” […]

    Mikovits gained notoriety in May for her starring role in “Plandemic,” a 26-minute video asserting several misleading or false theories about Fauci and the origin of the coronavirus. The video, which was viewed more than eight million times in one week despite being removed from most social media platforms, is supposedly excerpted from a forthcoming movie, which aims to “expose the scientific and political elite who run the scam that is our global health system.”

    […] Mikovits has become an icon of the coronavirus-skeptic community for her outlandish allegations, including that a possible virus vaccine will “kill millions.” She also has carried a long personal grudge against Fauci, who she holds responsible for her personal downfall. […]

    In the interview with Bolling, Mikovits said Fauci “manufactured” the coronavirus at a military base in Maryland and “shipped” it to Wuhan, China. She cited no evidence. Bolling did not push back, only acknowledging it was a “hefty” claim—though Bolling insisted to CNN, that was him challenging her. He also told the network he was completely unaware of her role in “Plandemic.” [bullshit]

    Sinclair, originally founded in Baltimore, has become one of the largest local television providers in the country and well known for its pro-Trump programming. […] All this is particularly problematic since, as CNN notes, public opinion research shows more Americans trust their local news than media more broadly.

    Link

    Propaganda and conspiracy theories dressed up to look like local news.

    That’s all the USA needs, more coronavirus/anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Makes me wonder how much Russian backing Mikovits and Sinclair have.

  14. says

    Supreme Court rejects Nevada church plea to allow larger congregation

    The court voted 5 to 4 against the request.

    The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a Nevada church’s request to block the state’s cap on attendees for religious services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The court voted 5 to 4 against the request, filed by Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberal-leaning justices. The decision keeps in place a limit of 50 people in houses of worship due to the pandemic.

    The church had argued the cap was an unfair attack on its First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion. […]

    The conservative justices wrote in their dissent that the decision revealed preferential treatment for for-profit enterprises over houses of worship.

    “The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges,” Justice Neil Gorsuch, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote. “But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.”

    The Supreme Court’s decision was issued without comment. But in his June decision against the church, U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware wrote that other secular institutes that partake in activities similar to a house of worship are also restricted. Other venues with congregating audiences — such as museums, movie theaters and concert venues — are subject to similar or stricter restrictions, he wrote. […]

    He also rejected the comparison between houses of worship and casinos, pointing out they operate differently and that casinos also remain constricted by substantial Covid-19-related regulations issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

    The Supreme Court in May struck down a plea from a San Diego church that California’s lockdown order was inhibiting its right to free religion. That decision also fell narrowly along ideological lines, with Roberts siding with the liberal faction. Roberts argued against the court intervening in states’ responses to a public health crisis.

    “The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement,” Roberts wrote at the time.

    Link

  15. says

    Do you need a little food poisoning to go with your coronavirus fears?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an outbreak of salmonella across 23 states, with reports of hundreds of people being sickened.

    The federal agency announced in a release on Friday an additional 87 illnesses, and eight new states had been affected since the last update on the matter Tuesday.

    The statement added that as of July 23, a total of 212 people have been infected with the salmonella strain, and 38 of the infections stemmed from new states: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Virginia.

    The agency noted that a specific source for the salmonella strain has not been identified, and there are currently no advisements against eating or consuming particular foods, nor are there any links to specific retailers that might be supplying contaminated goods.

    Infected persons reported illnesses starting between June 19 and July 11. According to the CDC, Salmonella symptoms can take up to two to four weeks to show in patients.

    […] Thirty-one patients have been hospitalized as a result of infections, and zero fatalities have been reported.

    According to CDC state data, Oregon had the most cases of salmonella with 51 reported infections. Utah followed close behind with 40 reported cases. […]

    Link

  16. says

    LykeX @6, I agree. It looks to me like the judge may have been looking for any excuse to forestall a ruling against the Trump administration. I expect both the ACLU and the state of Oregon to follow up with another lawsuit.

    In other news, Economists say congress should think big on the next economic rescue

    Congress is wrangling over details of a stimulus package […] in the trillions to get us through the fall, but macroeconomists are urging policymakers to think much bigger and much further ahead.

    House Democrats have pushed for a giant $3 trillion stimulus. Republicans are pushing for a bill that will deliver $1 trillion or less. In either case, the goal is to build a bridge to Election Day or Inauguration Day when a new Congress can evaluate the situation in the first quarter of 2021, hopefully amid good news about vaccine development.

    […] even if good news arrives, the Congressional Budget Office calculates that an output gap — a need for fiscal stimulus to avoid elevated unemployment — will persist for years unless additional stimulus is provided soon to stop job losses […]

    The best way to achieve long-term successes, eonomists say, would be to incorporate more automatic fiscal stabilizers into whatever Congress comes up with, but that’s not on the table. So whether the next administration is Donald Trump’s or Joe Biden’s, it will be forced to govern in immediate crisis mode — a needlessly precarious position for the economy that could have longterm consequences.

    A lot of political wrangling is focused specifically on the question of whether the CARES Act’s imminently expiring bonus unemployment insurance payments are too generous. […]

    Karl Smith, an economist with the center-right Tax Foundation offers a balanced assessment telling me that bonus UI “helped cushion what would have been a massive demand shock in the wider economy” but he worries about the implications of extending it indefinitely.

    […] for now “the jobs aren’t there” so cutting off the UI lifeline would be counterproductive.

    […] “people with more generously expanded benefits also resumed working at a similar or slightly quicker rate as others did,” confirming the view that work disincentives are not a binding factor on employment right now.

    Joseph Altonji, an economist who was one of the authors of the report, makes the obvious point in an accompanying release that “the collapse of labor demand during the Covid-19 crisis mattered most.” […]

    The output gap
    The CBO formally models what it calls the “output gap” — the gap between how much it thinks the economy could produce given the workers and supplies available and what it will actually produce.

    In their latest economic outlook report, they expect the output gap to remain very large […] throughout next year and only decline gradually after that. [chart available at the link]

    […] The upshot is that even if we avoid a catastrophic cliff this fall, there’s plenty of need for stimulus unless we want to revisit the Great Recession experience of years worth of elevated unemployment and sluggish wage growth.

    Jared Bernstein, is an economist with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who served as Joe Biden’s chief economic advisor during the Recovery Act era. Looking at the how much stimulus it would take to fill the output hole forecast fly the CBO says “the real gap over the next 3 years is about $3 trillion” and that’s assuming that funds are all spent on highly effective stimulus. If the political situation requires spreading some cash around to lower-multiplier endeavors even more might be needed. […]

    The point of these higher estimates is not necessarily that the economy is doomed if Congress settles on something in the $1.5 trillion range, it’s simply that a package like that will still leave us with the need for more action early next year. Biden has what is in many respects a surprisingly aggressive policy agenda, but just as Barack Obama had to delay action on his platform to push for a quick economic rescue package it seems likely that Biden could inherit an economy teetering on the bring of a new cliff and find himself fighting for economic stimulus rather than long-term reform. […]

    More at the link.

  17. says

    Coronavirus update: deaths from the virus have topped 1,000 for four days in a row. In Houston, Miami and other cities there is a shortage of health care workers.

    Republicans, including Trump, are still fiddling as Rome burns.

  18. says

    Trump Tweets Video Of ‘Q Supporter’ Who Says Trump Has ‘Never Been Wrong For This Country’

    […] Trump shared a video early Saturday from conspiracy theorist Antoine Tucker in which the self proclaimed “Q Supporter” says that Democrats “don’t give a fuck about helping Americans.”

    Trump tweeted the video on Saturday morning, with the words, “Wow!”

    The President has repeatedly retweeted QAnon supporters and cheered candidates who openly support the conspiracy theory, among them, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican House candidate in Georgia.

    The clip, which was original posted by Tucker in March, involves a profanity-laden rant about Democrats amid controversy with Republicans to finalize a deal for a coronavirus relief package.

    In addition to running a far-fetched campaign to unseat progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Tucker frequently posts conspiracy memes, tweeting earlier this month that he was a “Q Supporter.”

    Yes I am a Q Supporter and as your Congressman I’ll make sure The Truth will never have to be Questioned in DC again

    Trump’s move to share the video, comes after Twitter’s announcement earlier this week that it had shut down 7,000 QAnon-related accounts and that with time, it would reduce the visibility of a total 150,000 in an attempt to quash cyber attacks and the proliferation of misinformation.

    In the video, Tucker claims to provide “proof that it’s never been about Donald Trump,” saying that [Trump] has “never been a racist” and “never been wrong for the country” by accusing Democrats of blocking a coronavirus relief bill.

    “This stimulus package would have helped every last one of us,” Tucker said. “But the Democrats don’t give a fuck.”

    Two days after the video was posted, Democrats in the Senate secured a deal with Republicans for a $2 trillion relief package — significantly padding the package that Tucker slams Democrats for turning down.

    Readers of the TPM article posted comments:

    It’s a mutual need. Neither the Trumpers nor QAnon has a way out of swampy conspiracy land. All they’re left with is these little kiss-kiss call-outs.
    ————–
    the GOP splinter groups are getting more and more radical. Remember when the Tea Party forced out mildly evil bastard John Boehner in favor of completely evil people like Jim Jordan? Now, the Tea Party is the “mainstream GOP” and the completely insanely evil Q people are popping out of the woodwork. I can’t wait until the next wave of GRU-supported internet drivel […]
    ———-
    What he’s [Trump is] doing here is just his usual reflexive retweet of anyone who praises him, or says something derogatory about Dems. I’m not sure he even understands what the Q stuff is all about.

    A politician would think about this strategically, and keep some distance from the loonier fringe of their support, but Trump is incapable of that. He’s impulsive; only looks at the surface of whatever he sees.
    ——————
    As Trump descends into further madness, the minions follow suit.

    Becoming more cult-like by the day

    Trump is golfing today … while a hurricane threatens Texas, a coronavirus hot spot.

  19. says

    OMFG.

    McConnell Says He Hopes COVID Relief Bill Will Go To House In ‘Two To Three Weeks’

    Two to three weeks!

    […] “Hopefully in the next two to three weeks we’ll be able to come together and pass something that we can send over to the House and down to the President for signature,” McConnell told WKTY, a CNN- affiliate station in Kentucky, in an interview published Friday evening. […]

    The comments come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a statement Friday ripping GOP members of Congress and the White House for “disarray” and “delay” of a coronavirus relief bill that is urgently needed to help millions of Americans who are suffering under severe economic duress amid fallout from unemployment and other financial strain brought on by the pandemic.

    On Thursday, McConnell said the delay was because the Trump administration “has requested additional time to review the fine details,” while assuring that “we will be laying down the proposal early next week.”

    The pushed deadline and waffling comes as millions of jobless Americans anxiously await a decision from Congress about whether an enhanced payment of $600 — which was provided in an earlier coronavirus relief package — would be continued following its scheduled expiration at the end of July.

    McConnell has said he does not support an extension of the enhanced federal unemployment benefits […]

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Well what the fuck is taking so long… The Democrats passed the bill in the house months ago […]
    ————
    Awesome! I’ll just tell the Coronavirus to go on a break for 2-3 weeks. It’s due for a vacation anyway.

    And I’m sure landlords won’t mind waiting for their rent checks. They’re renowned for their understanding and generosity.
    ——————–
    The GOP fundamentally believes “the poor” are poor because they did something to deserve it, which is a corollary to their belief that their own wealth must be deserved. It is a weird this-worldly Calvinism that justifies maximal cruelty in times of crisis.
    ——————
    I’m thinking they are dragging this out so the pain is just starting to cause problems and then they both [Republicans and the White House] have “leverage” to do something quickly and can claim they saved the day. It feels like the stuff they did back during the last budget shutdown “crisis”.
    ——————-
    Their thinking is, the more they delay, the less the Democrats will settle for. And the less they have to spend on the people, the lower will be the taxes on the wealthy.

    McTurtle and his minions are going to ride this pandemic for every cent they can make.
    ———————
    from Galbraith:
    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

  20. says

    Hoo Boy!

    The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which runs the 40th president’s library near Los Angeles, has demanded that President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) quit raising campaign money by using Ronald Reagan’s name and likeness. […]

    What came to the foundation’s attention — and compelled officials there to complain — was a fundraising email that went out July 19 with “Donald J. Trump” identified as the sender and a subject line that read: “Ronald Reagan and Yours Truly.”

    The solicitation offered, for a donation of $45 or more, a “limited edition” commemorative set featuring two gold-colored coins, one each with an image of Reagan and Trump. The coins were mounted with a 1987 photograph of Reagan and Trump shaking hands in a White House receiving line — the type of fleeting contact that presidents have with thousands of people a year.

    “Friend,” the fundraising email purportedly from Trump said, “I just saw our new Trump-Reagan Commemorative Coin Sets and WOW, these coins are beautiful – I took one look and immediately knew that I wanted YOU to have a set. These aren’t any ordinary coins. They symbolize an important time in our Nation. This year, in addition to being re-elected as YOUR President, it also marks the 40th anniversary of our Nation’s 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, we already sold out of the first batch we had in stock. But I liked these coins so much that I asked my team to rush order another batch for my TOP SUPPORTERS ONLY.”

    It cautioned: “I’ve authorized a very limited production of these iconic coins, which is why I’m ONLY offering them to our top supporters, like YOU. This offer is NOT available to the general public, so please, do NOT share this email with anyone.”

    Proceeds from the coin sales went to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising operation that benefits both the Trump campaign and the RNC. […]

    Washington Post link

    Scammy, scummy con artists.

  21. says

    From Richard Haass:

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a blistering speech about China on Thursday. The problem was not simply that the nation’s chief diplomat was decidedly undiplomatic. Worse was his misrepresentation of history and his failure to suggest a coherent or viable path forward for managing a relationship that more than any other will define this era.

    The secretary asked what Americans have to show for 50 years of “blind engagement” and said the answer was little or nothing. He instead erected a straw man: U.S. policy failed, he said, because China did not evolve into a democracy when, in fact, the purpose of the policy developed by Richard M. Nixon and Henry Kissinger was to use China as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and shape China’s foreign policy, not its internal nature.

    What’s more, their efforts largely succeeded. In cementing China’s split from the Soviet Union, the United States gained leverage that contributed to the Cold War ending when and how it did.

    Yes, China continues to flex its muscles in the South China Sea, but Pompeo failed to note it has not fought a war with another country since its 1979 border conflict with Vietnam. Importantly, China has not used force against Taiwan, which has emerged as a thriving democracy.

    Pompeo also sought to commit the United States to a path that is bound to fail. It is not within our power to determine China’s future, much less transform it. To be sure, the country faces enormous challenges: an aging society that will soon start shrinking dramatically, a badly damaged environment, an inadequate public health system, an unsustainable economic model that relies on massive amounts of investment for growth, and a top-heavy leadership that stifles creativity and has difficulty correcting its mistakes. […]

    […] the Trump administration is undermining prospects for moderating China’s behavior. The first foreign policy decision of the then-new administration was to pull out of the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership. This grouping, which represented about 40 percent of global gross domestic product, had the potential to force China to change the very economic behavior the secretary criticizes. Instead, the United States focused on negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with China that has achieved little more than a Chinese commitment (so far not realized) to import slightly more U.S. products while shelving larger structural issues.

    An administration committed to changing Chinese economic behavior would be spearheading reform of the World Trade Organization, rather than paralyzing its appellate body. […]

    It is ironic, too, that an administration that embraces “America First” is doing so little to make this country more competitive vis-a-vis China. A real strategy would include the federal government spending more on basic research, modernizing infrastructure and making it possible for the most talented people in the world to come and stay here, rather than pushing them away.

    Pompeo spent a good deal of his speech highlighting China’s human rights failures, which are many and deserve U.S. condemnation. But our standing for criticizing China would be immeasurably greater if we were equally tough on Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, our words appear to be nothing so much as opportunistic.

    […] Trump and those who work for him have forfeited much of their credibility as democracy advocates with their repeated descriptions of the U.S. media as an enemy, their attacks on an independent judiciary and their use of federal forces to repress dissent in our cities.[…].

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  22. says

    This is a few days old, but I don’t think it’s been posted here. It’s a professor explaining how the real reason for poverty is the culture of poor people. I don’t have access to the full article, but the thread has some excepts.
    Thread.

    I would like to comment further, but this is my fourth try at this post and it devolves into angry ranting every time, so I’ll just leave it at that.

  23. says

    LykeX@20, those concepts applied to poor people sound to me like they were written by someone who is desperate to prove that he is superior to other people. It’s disgusting and ignorant at the same time. A lot of effort was put into something that makes no sense.

    In other news, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said some stupid stuff:

    […] Mnuchin on Sunday downplayed the GOP’s rejection to including a payroll tax cut in the next COVID relief bill by shifting the blame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

    On Thursday, […] Trump in a tweet attempted to blame Democrats after Senate Republicans rejected a payroll-tax cut in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill that they had been working on with the White House. Last week, Trump told Fox News that he might not sign a relief package that doesn’t include the provision.

    Later Thursday, the White House scrapped Trump’s payroll tax cut demand in the COVID relief bill after Republicans expressed vehement opposition towards including the provision.

    Mnuchin echoed Trump’s assertion during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

    When pressed by Chris about why the Trump administration caved on the payroll tax cut so quickly, Mnuchin responded that “it was very clear that the Democrats were not going to give us a payroll tax cut” and that it’s something the President will come back and look at later in the year.

    Wallace then pushed back by pointing out that both Democrats and several top Republicans rejected the inclusion of a payroll tax cut in the coronavirus bill — which included Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

    Mnuchin responded by insisting that there are other Republicans that supported the provision and that “we need bipartisan support.”

    Mnuchin went on to tout tax credits that he believes will “incentivize people to get back to work and small businesses to hire people” as well as direct payments that are a “much quicker way of effectively giving everybody a tax cut.”

    Mnuchin’s remarks on Fox News Sunday come two days after Pelosi and Schumer ripped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the White House for their “months-long disarray and delay” on delivering a proposal for a COVID relief package.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/mnuchin-covid-bill-payroll-tax-cut

    So, basically, no one but Trump and his closest lickspittles thought a payroll tax cut was a good idea at this time, but Mnuchin needed to inflate a bogeyman that Trump’s base could punch, (and one that Fox News hosts could pretend is real). I am so tired of this kind of gaslighting by the Trump administration.,

  24. says

    Yeah, we know that Trump did not criticize Putin for election interference during any of the recent Trump/Putin phone calls (seven calls that we know about this year), but White House chief of staff Mark Meadows still felt like he needed to muddy the waters in a vain attempt to make Trump look good.

    […] When asked about whether [Trump] brought up election interference with Putin during his last phone call with him and what steps he’s taking to prevent it, Meadows sidestepped the question by arguing that Trump is “doing a great deal to prevent it” before going on to slam the Obama administration.

    “You know, as we saw the previous administration, they talked about election interference and did very little to address it,” Meadows said. “Not only have we seen hundreds of millions of dollars that have been invested, but two different legislative actions that this President has signed off on to make sure that election integrity is important.”

    After insisting that the Department of Homeland Security, the intel community, the Department of Justice, are working to ensure that foreign interference doesn’t play into this year’s election, Meadows argued that “there’s a big difference between foreign interference and foreign influence.”

    “They continue to try to influence, as everyone does across the globe,” Meadows said. “But in terms of actually affecting the vote totals and interacting, I think we’re in a good place.”

    Meadows added that the Trump administration is willing to work with secretaries of states of all 50 states regarding concerns of foreign interference in the election.

    Link

    Comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Remember Trump doesn’t view it as interference, he views as help, so maybe the press should rephrase the question.
    —————–
    He [Trump] obviously didn’t bring it up. Why would he? It’s a major plank of his electoral strategy to cheat to win. Forget about actually appealing to the voters. That’s old school.

    Was Meadows asked whether Trump brought up the Russian bounties at all?
    —————-
    https://mobile.twitter.com/JuliaDavisNews/status/1286358405922328577

    Here is what the Kremlin says was discussed during today’s phone call between Trump and Putin.

    Not a word about Russian bounties on our soldiers’ heads.

    Not a word about Russia’s hacking of our coronavirus vaccine research. [Issues of “strategic stability and arms control” and “the great importance of the Russian initiative to hold a summit of countries” and the “Iranian nuclear program” were discussed according to the Russian readout.]
    ———————
    Of course he brought it up. He wants to make sure his Top Daddy Vlad is gonna help get him re-elected.
    ——————–
    Good place = The foreign meddlers are advocating for our side.

    If meddling is proven, Meadows will blame the “secretaries of state of all 50 states.”

  25. says

    The late John Lewis crosses Selma bridge for a final time in remembrance procession

    Memorable photo at the link.

    […] The bridge became a landmark in the fight for racial justice when Lewis and other civil rights marchers were beaten there 55 years ago on “Bloody Sunday,” a key event that helped galvanize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis returned to Selma each March in commemoration.

    Sunday found him crossing alone — instead of arm-in-arm with civil rights and political leaders — after his coffin was loaded atop a horse-drawn wagon that retraced the route through Selma from Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the 1965 march began.

    As the wagon approached the bridge, members of the crowd shouted “Thank you, John Lewis!” and “Good trouble!” the phrase Lewis used to describe his tangles with white authorities during the civil rights movement. […]

    Lewis died July 17 at 80, months after he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Lewis served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death.

    The wagon rolled over a carpet of rose petals, pausing atop the bridge over the Alabama River in the summer heat so family members could walk behind it. On the south side of the bridge, where Lewis was beaten by Alabama state troopers in 1965, family members placed red roses that the carriage rolled over, marking the spot where Lewis spilled his blood and suffered a head injury.

    As a military honor guard lifted Lewis’ casket from the horse-drawn wagon into an automobile hearse, Alabama state troopers, including some African American ones, saluted Lewis. […]

    That’s quite a change compared to having Alabama State Troopers crack John Lewis’ skull and almost kill him 55 years ago.

  26. says

    Trump backs out of throwing first pitch at Yankees game

    […] Trump announced Sunday he wouldn’t be throwing out the opening pitch for the New York Yankees next month as he had planned, citing meetings and other work related to the U.S.’s COVID-19 outbreak.

    In a tweet, Trump said that he would plan to throw out the first pitch at a game later in the MLB’s season, which began last week.

    “Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15th. We will make it later in the season!” he tweeted.

    […] “And I say, ‘How’s the crowd going to be?’ And, you know, it’s like you don’t have a crowd.” […]

  27. says

    Follow-up to comment 18.

    […] Trump lashed out at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute on Sunday following a report that it had requested the Trump campaign stop using President Reagan’s name and image in fundraising.

    The president made the remarks in a tweet that also shared a post pointing out that the Reagan Foundation’s chair, Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., is the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post. In his tweet, Trump also hit Fox News over recent polls that have showed him trailing his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.

    “So the Washington Post is running the Reagan Foundation, and RINO Paul Ryan is on the Board of Fox, which has been terrible. We will win anyway, even with the phony @FoxNews suppression polls (which have been seriously wrong for 5 years)!” Trump posted.

    The tweet came after the Post first reported that the foundation had called on Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) to stop using Reagan’s name and image […]

    Link

    If you read comment 18, you will see that the Reagan Foundation’s objections had nothing to do with the Washington Post. Trump’s campaign had used Reagan’s image for a cheesy scam to raise money.

  28. says

    Follow-up to comment 11.

    Update:

    […] a documentary called Plandemic. This documentary featured the kind of scientist that cannot actually do science anywhere anymore because of how often their work has been discredited and the fact that they were arrested for having a co-worker steal research and notebooks from the lab they were just fired from […].

    In this version of events, that smug scientist who was on TV every day thinking he [Fauci] was better than everyone and telling them what to do actually invented the virus himself, and also all of the things he and all of the other scientists were telling people to do — specifically the very things that inconvenienced people the most, like quarantining, social distancing and mask-wearing — were actually bad.

    Unfortunately for all of these people, the claims of that former scientist, Judy Mikovits, were very swiftly debunked by legions of non-idiots in a matter of days. Also just literally as they watched it or read about it, it because there was almost no way anyone with two brain cells to rub together would buy that shit when it was so obviously wrong.

    Sinclair Broadcasting Station was all set to run an “America This Week” segment in which Eric Bolling interviewed Mikovits and her lawyer, Larry Klayman […]

    There was a lot of backlash to this, particularly to a graphic stating “Did Dr. Fauci Create COVID-19?” displayed during the interview. So much backlash, in fact, that Sinclair decided not to air the interview at all (although it has been available online since Wednesday night), and tweeted that not only will they not air it, but that they did not believe that Dr. Fauci created the virus at all.

    After further review, we have decided to delay this episode’s airing. We will spend the coming days bringing together other viewpoints and provide additional context. All stations have been notified not to air this and will instead be re-airing last week’s episode in its place.

    Eric Bolling, for his part, claims this was all the doing of his “producers” and that he had no idea what Plandemic was, who Judy Mikovits was, or what the interview would even be about prior to having Mikovits and Klayman on. […]

    So he didn’t have any idea who Judy Mikovits was, but he invited her on his show to “question and challenge” her beliefs […]

    What he’s actually admitting to here is that he somehow missed one of the bigger stories of the summer, something that was trending on social media for days, and something that is deeply, deeply important to the kind of people who watch Eric Bolling or who watch anyone who regularly interviews Ted Nugent. He is obviously very bad at his job! Perhaps he should consider a new career, doing something that does not require knowing anything whatsoever, and also where he can freely send “lewd pictures” to his coworkers without fear of blowback. You’d think Sinclair Broadcasting would be the perfect spot for that […] but it seems like it’s not working out!

    This has to be a very sad moment for all of the Plandemic fans out there. If even Sinclair Broadcasting thinks it’s above airing the nonsense they believe in, and OAN defends you but won’t say what you actually believe on air, and Fox News personalities like Jesse Watters diminish all of the important work you did on the Pizzagate and Wayfair scandals […] who can you even count on?

    People like me are out here calling you crazy, and Fox, Sinclair and OAN just let you hang there, not even bothering to do the work of getting that video of Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin running around wearing the peeled-off face of a child that you are so very sure exists and was in Anthony Weiner’s laptop, so that you can rub it in our faces that you were right all along and think things you invented out of thin air were true. How is that fair? They should really get on this. […]

    Wonkette Link

    If Sinclair won’t air your nonsense …

  29. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Sen. Hawley lays down new antiabortion marker for Supreme Court nominees
    By Robert Costa
    July 26, 2020

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that he would not support any future nominee for the Supreme Court unless they had publicly stated before their nomination that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established federal protection for abortion, was “wrongly decided.”

    “I will vote only for those Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade is wrongly decided,” Hawley said in an interview with The Washington Post. “By explicitly acknowledged, I mean on the record and before they were nominated.”

    Hawley added: “I don’t want private assurances from candidates. I don’t want to hear about their personal views, one way or another. I’m not looking for forecasts about how they may vote in the future or predications. I don’t want any of that. I want to see on the record, as part of their record, that they have acknowledged in some forum that Roe v. Wade, as a legal matter, is wrongly decided.”

    Hawley’s new marker comes as Republicans are preparing for the possibility that President Trump could name a third member of the court later this year, should there be a vacancy.
    […]

    … McConnell has said he would push through a Trump nominee this year, should an opening occur. The difference from 2016, he maintains, is that now the same political party controls the White House and Senate.
    […]

    Of course, according to this “McConnell Rule,” if Biden wins and the GOP keeps the Senate, there’s no reason to take up any SC nominee for four years, since different parties control the WH and Senate. And that’s exactly what I would expect.

  30. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @26:

    . . . Mikovits and her lawyer, Larry Klayman . . .

    THAT right there should be enough to disqualify Mikovits from saying a god-damned thing in public without extreme ridicule.

  31. says

    Here’s a link to the July 27 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    In the US, more than 40 people were infected with the coronavirus after attending a multi-day revival event at a north Alabama Baptist church, the Associated Press reports.

    “The whole church has got it, just about,” Al.com quoted pastor Daryl Ross of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist church in Marshall County as saying.

    The pastor says the churchgoers, including himself, tested positive after the congregation held a series of religious services featuring a guest pastor over the course of several days last week.

    Ross said the services were shut down by Friday after learning that one of the members who attended had tested positive for the virus. The member presented no symptoms, but got tested when several of his coworkers received positive tests, according to the pastor.

    Over the weekend, dozens more fell ill, Ross said, adding: “I’ve got church members sick everywhere.”

    “We knew what we were getting into,” he said. “We knew the possibilities.”

  32. blf says

    Anti-fascists linked to zero murders in the US in 25 years:

    [… L]eftwing attacks have left far fewer people dead than violence by rightwing extremists, new research indicates, and antifa activists have not been linked to a single murder in decades.

    A new database of nearly 900 politically motivated attacks and plots in the United States since 1994 includes just one attack staged by an anti-fascist that led to fatalities. In that case, the single person killed was the perpetrator.

    Over the same time period, American white supremacists and other rightwing extremists have carried out attacks that left at least 329 victims dead, according to the database.

    More broadly, the database lists 21 victims killed in leftwing attacks since 2010 , and 117 victims of rightwing attacks in that same period […]. Attacks inspired by the Islamic State and similar jihadist groups, in contrast, killed 95 people since 2010, slightly fewer than rightwing extremists, according to the data set. More than half of these victims died in a a single attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.

    [… long discussion of the difficulties in counting…]

    Antifa activists have been the targets of domestic terror attacks by white supremacists, including in a terror plot early this year, in which law enforcement officials alleged that members of the neo-Nazi group the Base had planned to murder a married couple in Georgia they believed were anti-fascist organizers.

    “Antifa is not going around murdering people like rightwing extremists are. It’s a false equivalence,” said [a co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Heidi] Beirich.

    […]

    The new CSIS [Center for Strategic and International Studies] database only includes attacks through early May 2020, and does not yet list incidents connected with the massive national protests against police violence after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, including the killings of two California law enforcement officers by a man authorities say was linked to the rightwing “boogaloo” movement.

    […]

    Daily interpersonal violence and state violence pose a much greater threat to Americans than any kind of extremist terror attack. More than 100,000 people have been killed in gun homicides in the United States in the past decade, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US police officers shoot nearly 1,000 Americans to death each year. Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be shot by the police as white Americans, according to analysis by the Washington Post and the Guardian.

    But the president’s [sic] rhetoric about “antifa” violence has dangerous consequences, not just for anti-fascists, but for any Americans who decide to protest, some activists said.

    Yvette Felarca, a California-based organizer and anti-fascist activist, said she saw Trump’s claims about antifa violence, particularly during the George Floyd protests, as a message to his “hardcore” supporters that it was appropriate to attack people who came out to protest.

    “It’s his way of saying to his supporters: ‘Yeah, go after them. Beat them or kill them to the point where they go back home and stay home afraid,’” Felarca said.

  33. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@32, the Grauniad is currently reporting “according to Bloomberg, O’Brien is believed to have contracted coronavirus at a family event, not from his travels” (from the current gestapo antics live blog). In addition, multiple (later) entries in that blog are saying various staffers, apparently including those in near proximity to O’Brien after his presumed infection event, were not told or e-mailed, and mostly learning about it from the press.

  34. says

    Guardian – “Council of Europe ‘alarmed’ at Poland’s plans to leave domestic violence treaty”:

    The Council of Europe has said it is alarmed that Poland’s rightwing government is moving to withdraw from a landmark international treaty aimed at preventing violence against women.

    Poland’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, said on Saturday that he would begin preparing the formal process to withdraw from the Istanbul convention on Monday. The treaty is the world’s first binding instrument to prevent and tackle violence against women, from marital rape to female genital mutilation.

    A previous centrist Polish government signed the treaty in 2012 and it was ratified in 2015, when Ziobro called it “an invention, a feminist creation aimed at justifying gay ideology”.

    The treaty was spearheaded by the Council of Europe, the continent’s oldest human rights organisation, and its secretary general, Marija Pejčinović Burić, condemned the rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) government’s plan to withdraw.

    “Leaving the Istanbul convention would be highly regrettable and a major step backwards in the protection of women against violence in Europe,” she said in a statement on Sunday. “If there are any misconceptions or misunderstandings about the convention, we are ready to clarify them in a constructive dialogue.”

    PiS and its coalition partners closely align themselves with the Catholic church and promote a conservative social agenda. Hostility to gay rights was one of the main issues promoted by the president, Andrzej Duda, during a successful re-election campaign this month.

    About 2,000 people marched in Warsaw on Friday to protest against the government’s withdrawal plan. There was also outrage from several members of the European parliament, with Iratxe García Pérez, the Spanish leader of the Socialist group, calling the decision “disgraceful”.

    The Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt said the decision was “scandalous”, adding that “violence is not a traditional value”.

    The Council of Europe emphasised that the Istanbul convention’s sole objective is to combat violence against women and domestic violence. The treaty does not explicitly mention same-sex marriage.

    That has not stopped the backlash to it in Hungary and in Slovakia, where the parliament rejected the treaty, insisting, without proof, that it is at odds with the country’s constitutional definition of marriage as a heterosexual union.

    The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, which is separate from the EU, has no binding powers but brings together 47 member states to make recommendations on rights and democracy.

  35. says

    “Breaking: Eight more players and two Marlins coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of cases to at least 14 in recent days sources told @JeffPassan and @JesseRogersESPN.

    The team’s home opener against the Orioles tonight has been canceled.”

    Chris Hayes:

    The best laid plans of a multi-billion dollar sports league with effectively unlimited resources has made it a week before an outbreak.

    Now consider large, underesourced public school systems. Or, good God, *college dorms* this fall

  36. says

    More re the video featured by the Lincoln Project in #38 above, from Simone Del Rosario, the journalist who recorded it in Seattle:

    …This nurse in scrubs gets blasted by spray while trying to grab someone away from police. Her “day job” is RN at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She told me helping people is her calling and that’s why she’s here. And yes, her skin burns all over.

    Here’s part of my interview with her about her decision to go down and grab that guy away from the cops, getting pepper sprayed in the process…

    Video atl.

  37. says

    Major Adam DeMarco of the DC National Guard tells the House under oath what he witnessed on June 1st:

    …Members of the Committee, the events I witnessed at Lafayette Square on the evening of June 1 were deeply disturbing to me, and to fellow National Guardsmen. Having served in a combat zone, and understanding how to assess threat environments, at no time did I feel threatened by the protestors or assess them to be violent. In addition, considering the principles of proportionality of force and the fundamental strategy of graduated responses specific to civil disturbance operations, it was my observation that the use of force against demonstrators in the clearing operation was an unnecessary escalation of the use of force. From my observation, those demonstrators –our fellow American citizens –were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights. Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.

    As the late Representative John Lewis said, “When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something.”

    The oath I swore as a military officer, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, is a bedrock guiding principle and, for me, constitutes an individual moral commitment and ethical instruction. It is the foundation of the trust safely placed in the Armed Forces by the American people. And it compels me to say something –and do something –about what I witnessed on June 1 at Lafayette Square.

    Link to his full statement atl.

  38. says

    Rep. John Lewis will today become the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, as the civil rights icon receives one of the highest American honors.

    His coffin will then be moved outside so the public can pay respects safely.”

    His hearse traveled through DC on the way, passing by or stopping at landmarks important to Lewis: the MLK memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Black Lives Matter Plaza, the National Museum of African American History and Culture,…

    What a trajectory of a life.

  39. says

    Tom Cotton sparks controversy with comments on slavery, history

    “Obviously, describing slavery as “evil” was appropriate, but suggesting that slavery was once “necessary” is something else altogether.”

    […] Fox News’ Chris Wallace reminded [Trump] that he’s argued that U.S. schools are teaching people to “hate America.” [Trump] insisted that his assessment is accurate, and when pressed to support the claim, Trump said, “I look at school. I watch, I read, look at the stuff.”

    [Trump] added, “Now they want to change 1492, Columbus discovered America. You know, we grew up, you grew up, we all did, that’s what we learned. Now they want to make it the 1619 Project. Where did that come from? What does it represent? I don’t even know.”

    It fell to the host to remind Trump that the 1619 Project was a New York Times initiative, published about a year ago, marking the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship to reach what would become the United States. […]

    Sen. Tom Cotton is going even further than Trump, introducing legislation last week that would impose a federal prohibition on public schools using the 1619 Project in curricula. […] telling the newspaper the 1619 Project is “left-wing propaganda,” “revisionist history,” and “a distortion of American history.”

    […] Cotton, however, went a bit further.

    “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,” he said. Instead of portraying America as “an irredeemably corrupt, rotten and racist country,” the nation should be viewed “as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind,” Cotton said.

    Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before a controversy ensued over Cotton’s use of the phrase “necessary evil.” Obviously, describing slavery as “evil” was appropriate, but suggesting that slavery was once “necessary” is something else altogether.

    […] Cotton published multiple tweets yesterday arguing that he didn’t see slavery as a “necessary evil,” he was simply summarizing the beliefs of the nation’s framers. […]

    Part of the problem, of course, is the context. Look at the quote again: “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built….”

    This doesn’t like a politician taking issue with the framers’ beliefs on the matter.

    Yes, in the next part of the quote, Cotton says the Founding Fathers also put slavery “on the course to its ultimate extinction,” but that’s highly dubious. As Jon Chait noted, the institution of slavery expanded for generations after the nation’s founding, and far from being destined to collapse, it took a civil war to actually put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction. […]

    As for the far-right Arkansan’s contention that slavery was an evil “upon which the union was built,” ironically that was one of the central points of emphasis in the 1619 Project that Cotton finds so offensive.

  40. says

    Trump continues to undermine public confidence in the USA’s electoral system, tweeting that the 2020 election is or will be “rigged.”

    The 2020 Election will be totally rigged if Mail-In Voting is allowed to take place, & everyone knows it. So much time is taken talking about foreign influence, but the same people won’t even discuss Mail-In election corruption. Look at Patterson, N.J. 20% of vote was corrupted!

    So much bullshit, so little time to correct it.

  41. says

    GOP, White House get 2020 sabotage story completely backwards

    If Democrats genuinely wanted to sabotage the economy to further derail Trump’s campaign, they’d be doing the opposite of what they’re doing now.

    On CBS News’ “Face the Nation” yesterday, Margaret Brennan reminded Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that there’s broad public support for another economic aid package, including an extension of existing unemployment benefits. The host asked the senator why he’d oppose such a package, and the Texas Republican answered in part:

    “What Democrats want to do — we’re a hundred days out from the presidential election. The only objective Democrats have is to defeat Donald Trump.”

    For quite a while, we’ve heard similar talk out of the White House, where the president is convinced that rascally Democrats have balked at some of his poorly thought out ideas — such as re-opening schools without a meaningful safety plan — as part of an elaborate scheme to hurt the economy and undermine his re-election campaign.

    What’s amazing about this is the degree to which Republicans have the entire dynamic backwards. E.J. Dionne had a great column along these lines nearly a month ago, explaining, “The underappreciated story in Congress is that it’s Democrats who want to do the most to limit the economic damage caused by COVID-19, while McConnell’s Republican Party slow-walks action.”

    Quite right. If Democrats genuinely wanted to sabotage the economy in order to further derail the president’s re-election campaign — which is to say, if Dems were acting in 2020 the way Republicans acted throughout much of Obama’s first term (see the second chapter of my book) — they would be fighting tooth and nail to take money out of working families’ pockets.

    Democrats are instead doing the opposite, first by largely taking the lead in writing the CARES Act in March, and then by passing the ambitious and progressive HEROES Act in mid-May. […]

    Democrats are no doubt aware of the fact that taking steps to buoy the economy in an election year might benefit the incumbent president, but they’re doing it anyway to prevent widespread public suffering.[…]

  42. says

    Even White House allies are asking: Where’s Trump’s pandemic plan?

    Trump isn’t bothering to “pantomime a sense of command over the crisis,” in part because he has no idea what that would look like.

    Late Friday, Politico ran one of those reports that led me to double-check the date, to make sure it wasn’t an old article. The headline said Donald Trump’s backers are “pleading” with him to craft a plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

    Trump’s political allies, alarmed by his sinking poll numbers, are warning that the president’s best chance to get reelected is to outline more detailed plans to conquer the coronavirus he keeps trying to wish away. They are advising him to offer people something concrete they can look to as the pandemic surges in dozens of states, eroding months of progress.

    […] it was hard not to marvel at the absurdity of the broader circumstances. Six months after the first documented infection on American soil, people close to the White House — folks who want the president to succeed politically — have been reduced to reminding Donald Trump that he should probably come up with some kind of plan to deal with the crisis.

    The pleas are necessary, of course, because the president, even now, still doesn’t have a blueprint for success — aside from waiting for COVID-19 to “sort of just disappear.” […]

    The Washington Post ran an interesting report on this yesterday.

    People close to Trump, many speaking anonymously to share candid discussions and impressions, say the president’s inability to wholly address the crisis is due to his almost pathological unwillingness to admit error; a positive feedback loop of overly rosy assessments and data from advisers and Fox News; and a penchant for magical thinking that prevented him from fully engaging with the pandemic.

    The article added that Trump’s shortcomings “have perplexed even some of his most loyal allies,” some whom don’t understand why the president hasn’t “at least pantomimed a sense of command over the crisis.”

    In other words, Trump isn’t just failing to lead; he’s also struggling to fake it.

    […] Trump and his party have arrived at a point at which none of these things matter. As has become clear in recent years, the president does not know how to govern responsibly, and he’s indifferent to learning. He’s not bothering to “pantomime a sense of command over the crisis,” in part because he has no idea what that would look like.

    It’s why Trump sidelines experts and ignores policy briefings, turning instead to those who tell him what he wants to hear, while clinging to the belief that the crisis will go away on its own — because the alternative would require him to do real work for which he’s wholly unprepared.

  43. says

    Trump brags about ‘largely symbolic’ executive order on drug prices

    Many of Trump’s executive orders are largely symbolic.

    Those waiting for Trump’s new policies to “massively reduce the prices of prescription drugs” are going to be disappointed.

    […] before taking office [Trump talked about] the pharmaceutical industry’s powerful lobbyists, and insisted publicly that drug companies are “getting away with murder.”

    Trump even went so far as to accuse the drug industry of corruption, arguing that pharmaceutical companies contribute “massive amounts of money” to politicians as part of a scheme to keep the cost of medicines higher.

    […] Once in the White House, Trump abandoned many of 2016 positions and started installing pharmaceutical industry insiders into key administrative posts.

    […] last week, [Trump] put his signature on four executive orders related to drug pricing, and over the weekend, he turned to Twitter to take a victory lap.

    “Yesterday I signed four measures that will massively reduce the prices of prescription drugs, in many cases by more than 50%. Nothing like this has ever been done before because Big Pharma, with its vast power, would not let it happen.”

    […] We’re apparently supposed to believe this was a bold presidential move […]

    […] if “nothing like this has ever been done before,” what exactly is “this”?

    The answer, not surprisingly, is that there’s far less here than the White House is trying to pretend. The New York Times reported, for example, “The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s event was a vague proposal that could tie the price that Medicare pays for drugs administered by doctors to prices negotiated by foreign governments. The White House released no details about how the policy would be devised.”

    The same article added that one of the four executive orders — the one related to the international pricing index — was not released with the other three orders.

    A Politico report noted that the White House’s “plans are rife with limitations” and are “not immediately enforceable.”

    The Washington Post added that Trump’s latest moves “are largely symbolic because the orders are unlikely to take effect anytime soon, if they do so at all, because the power to implement drug pricing policy through executive order is limited.” […]

    Whether the post-policy president understands that his executive orders have little practical value is unclear, but the end result is the same: those waiting for Trump’s new policies to “massively reduce the prices of prescription drugs” are going to be disappointed.

  44. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Trump administration sending more federal agents to reinforce Portland courthouse
    By Devlin Barrett and Nick Miroff
    July 27, 2020 at 10:27 a.m. PDT

    The Trump administration is sending more federal agents to Portland, Ore., as officials consider pushing back harder and farther against the growing crowds and nightly clashes with protesters, vandals, and rioters, The Washington Post has learned.

    To strengthen federal forces arrayed around the city’s downtown courthouse, the U.S. Marshals Service decided last week to send 100 deputy U.S. Marshals to Portland, according to an internal Marshals email reviewed by The Post. The personnel began arriving Thursday night.

    The Department of Homeland Security is also considering a plan to send an additional 50 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel to the city, but a final decision on the deployment has not been made, according to senior administration officials involved in the federal response.
    […]

    The Marshals personnel previously sent to Portland were primarily members of the Special Operations Group, personnel that has some training in handling riots and crowds. The 100 law enforcement officers now being sent there are being pulled from the ranks of deputy marshals who rarely have training in riot response or crowd control, according to law enforcement officials.

    Another idea being discussed among federal officials is expanding the fencing perimeter around the courthouse, to create a second, more secure area where protesters could not bring certain items, such as gas masks, shields or weapons. As part of that scenario, a stronger secondary fence would be erected that would be more resistant to nightly efforts to move or dismantle it, according to people familiar with the discussions.

  45. says

    A demonstration organized by a Democratic congressional candidate in Texas ended in violence Sunday when the candidate’s campaign manager and others were attacked.

    […] counterprotesters, many of them armed, vastly outnumbered the candidate and his supporters.

    Democrat Hank Gilbert faces an uphill battle against eight-term incumbent Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) in Texas’ deep-red First District. But the candidate has made protesting the ongoing federal police presence in Portland, Oregon a rallying cry for his campaign. On Sunday, he’d scheduled a demonstration in solidarity with Portland at the Tyler, Texas city square.

    That was met with dozens of counterprotesters attending a “Back the Blue” event scheduled in response to Gilbert’s demonstration, some sporting rifles and camouflage and many wearing pro-Trump attire, according to local reports.

    The counterprotesters used air horns to drown out Gilbert’s attempt at making a speech. Then came the violence. […]

    Miller’s [campaign manager Ryan Miller] phone was stolen and he was attacked by several people.

    “He was hit in the chest, in the back of the head, under the ear and a couple of punches to the face,” Gilbert campaign consultant Vince Leibowitz told TPM, referring to Miller.

    “He’s seeking medical attention today,” Leibowitz added. […]

    at least one person in the crowd Sunday was carrying a confederate flag. Another had “White Pride” tattooed on his arms. […]

    Link

    Video available at the link.

    Louie Gohmert has not criticized the violent actions of his supporters.

    Readers comments:

    “The incident occurred as officers from the Tyler Police Department drove around the square idly, waving at the Blue Lives Matter counterprotesters who had come to support Gilbert’s opponent,” the statement added.
    ——————
    No arrests were made
    ——————
    Watch for the same type of “protectors” to show up at voting sites in November. Democracy is not a spectator sport; it requires commitment and courage. Vote no matter what!
    ——————
    And now we see how the republicans intend to hold on to power this election. We knew it was coming to this. Armed thugs breaking up political rallies and peaceful protests. There will be armed poll watchers, too. It’s disgusting.
    Welcome to Putin’s Amerika.

  46. says

    Several of the mourners at the John Lewis service in the Capitol are wearing “Good Trouble” face masks and I think they could sell a gazillion of them to raise money for voting-rights efforts.

  47. says

    Ari Berman:

    Mitch McConnell is praising John Lewis right now but has been blocking a vote on legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, Lewis’ greatest legacy, for 234 days

    If Mitch McConnell really wanted to honor John Lewis, he would allow a vote on legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, which he’s been blocking for 234 days

    In December John Lewis presided over House as it voted to restore Voting Rights Act

    The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act now has 48 sponsors in Senate

    Mitch McConnell won’t bring it up for a vote

  48. says

    SC @60, thanks for posting that. Ari Berman presented the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell perfectly. It’s a wonder that people don’t stand up and walk out when McConnell starts to talk about John Lewis.

  49. says

    Trump will not go in person to pay his respects to John Lewis while Lewis lies in state in Washington DC:

    […] Trump on Monday said he would not visit the U.S. Capitol Building to pay his respects to the late civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis, who is lying in state there on Monday and Tuesday.

    “No, I won’t be going, no,” Trump told reporters before taking off on a flight for North Carolina.

    Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence are scheduled to pay their respects to Lewis on Monday, The Hill noted, as are Joe and Jill Biden.

    The day after Lewis’ passing on July 17, Trump ordered flags flown at half staff for a day and tweeted brief condolences to Lewis’ family. […]

    TPM link

  50. says

    COVID-19 cases in children, an update:

    In Florida, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate. That’s taking a worrying turn as the state’s incompetent Gov. Ron DeSantis remains absolutely determined to open schools mere weeks from now: There are now over 31,000 children in the state who have tested positive for the virus.

    That isn’t just a new high. As CNN reports, cases among children have soared 34% in just the past eight days. That means the last week has seen about 1,000 new cases among children each day.

    The Trump administration’s various toadies and hangers-on, along with Fox News talking heads and other conspiracy theorists, continue to assert that children aren’t affected by the virus and can’t easily spread it. They’re lying, and they’re lying as part of the overall effort to restart the all-valued economy before the full ramifications of the Trump administration’s catastrophic incompetence result in late-election mass poverty.

    Three hundred Florida children have been hospitalized—50 of them in the past week—and that number can also be expected to increase sharply. There’s no evident way to track how many of those children have spread the virus to others, because Florida. As the percent of positive tests ticks up—CNN reports the positive rate among tested children in Martin County, just north of Palm Beach, is over 25%—there’s no plausible reason to believe Florida is even close to being able to measure the pandemic, much less contain it.

    […] No matter what retaliatory moves DeSantis takes to attempt to force them open, most teachers and most parents do not want children to die in order to boost conservative egos. Like Trump’s asinine pandemic political convention, DeSantis will likely have to retreat from his position while making it look somehow look like it was his idea all along, like the craven jackass that he is.

    […] There is a level of incompetence that in and of itself should be considered criminal, and “open the schools while a deadly pandemic rages still-uncontrolled through the state” is well, well on the other side of that line.

    Link

  51. says

    Follow-up to comment 66:

    […] DeSantis bragged about his COVID-19 response just a few weeks ago. Now, one out of every 52 Floridians is infected with the virus. Over the weekend, Florida surpassed New York state in total confirmed coronavirus cases: 423,855. […] The governor declared “Mission Accomplished” in May in a video that will haunt him for whatever remains of his political career. […]

    Thursday, Trump called off the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville because even he realized people weren’t going to show up. Back in May, Trump and DeSantis were denying the best recommendations of medical experts and gleefully planning a big triumphant bash. Trump asked DeSantis if people would have to wear masks. DeSantis said no. The president asked the governor if the “virus would be a problem,” as if the virus was a labor union threatening one of his real estate projects. DeSantis promised the virus wouldn’t be a problem in August […] There’s no telling when Florida will recover or contain the virus sufficiently to safely host large-scale events, but it definitely won’t be next month.

    […] DeSantis was looking forward to a starring role at the convention. He’d hobnob with fat cats and negotiate a fair purchase price with “deep-pocketed” donors. He was also in key position for a primetime speaking slot that would set the stage for a presidential run in 2024.

    Now the dream is over. DeSantis was one of many political hacks who tried to model themselves after Trump in hopes of emulating his unlikely 2016 success. But Trump-ism isn’t effective governing. Like the president, DeSantis also sidelined experts who told him things he didn’t want to hear. He refused to issue a statewide mask mandate or extend stay-at-home orders that proved effective for states with competent governors. He also reportedly ordered data manipulated to justify his actions, causing honorable people to resign. He’s followed the lead of Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about schools reopening in the fall, and the state teachers union has sued him because they don’t want to die.

    Trump has praised DeSantis in the past, but it’s only a matter of time before he cuts his “protege” loose and lays all the blame for this growing disaster at his feet. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/ron-desantis-never-gonna-be-president-now

  52. says

    From the editorial board of the Washington Post: “The world is realizing the U.S. is no longer committed to basic standards of decency.”

    Not so long ago, asylum seekers turned to the United States, seeking refuge from repressive states. Now the United States is one of those repressive states.

    That’s the gist of a Canadian federal court ruling, which would scrap a 16-year-old bilateral treaty called the Safe Third Country Agreement, under which Canada and the United States each recognize the other as a safe place to seek refuge. Justice Ann Marie McDonald ruled that Canada’s practice of turning back third-country refugees who try to cross at official points of entry along the U.S.-Canada frontier — on the theory that they have already reached a safe harbor in the United States — no longer makes sense given the atrocious treatment to which they are subjected south of the border.

    Canada, she wrote, can no longer turn a blind eye to the reality that the United States denies decent and dignified treatment to asylum seekers.

    Justice McDonald based her ruling partly on testimony from asylum seekers who described harrowing conditions of confinement in U.S. detention […] Other testimony in the Canadian court provided evidence that detainees in U.S. facilities were denied access to counsel, phone calls and translators, and some were subjected to solitary confinement.

    The judge found that the “accounts of the detainees demonstrate both physical and psychological suffering because of detention, and a real risk that they will not be able to assert asylum claims” in the United States.

    None of this is surprising to advocates and others who have monitored the travails of asylum seekers, especially since […] Trump took office. In the past two years, his anti-immigration policies have prompted more than 50,000 asylum seekers to cross into Canada outside official ports of entry, thereby skirting the treaty’s automatic-return provision — until the pandemic forced the border’s closing this spring. After arriving in Canada and undergoing security and medical screening, they have been allowed to work and receive basic benefits such as medical care as they await adjudication of their asylum claims.

    Canada is among the United States’s closest allies; gratuitous America-bashing is not the norm there. That a Canadian judge would give a failing grade to this country’s commitment to human rights where they concern refugees is a damning rebuke.

    Before her ruling takes effect, the judge gave the Canadian government six months to appeal, should it choose to do so. Until now, the treaty’s supporters have justified it on the grounds that it bars “asylum shopping” by refugees. The question facing the administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is whether its neighbor to the south still adheres to what Western democracies regard as the basic standards of dignity and decency on which the original treaty was based. The evidence suggests it does not.

  53. tomh says

    WaPo Live Updates:
    Trump says ‘a lot of the governors should be opening up states’ that aren’t reopening

    In remarks to reporters Monday at a biotech company in Morrisville, N.C., Trump urged states that have shut down because of the pandemic to reopen.

    “I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening,” Trump said in response to a question from a reporter about the economy. “And we’ll see what happens with them.”

    The remarks came hours after the White House announced that O’Brien had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    The president noted several states that have experienced a spike in cases in recent weeks, and he voiced optimism that they will soon be on their way toward reopening.

    “These states are not out of the woods, but rigorous compliance with guidelines should allow them to turn the corner very, very quickly,” he said.

    By Felicia Sonmez

  54. says

    Quoted in tomh’s #72:

    “I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening,” Trump said in response to a question from a reporter about the economy. “And we’ll see what happens with them.”

    He’s a madman and needs to resign.

  55. johnson catman says

    re SC @73: Not only is The Orange Toddler-Tyrant a sociopathic madman, so are his (and Gohmert’s) supporters. Look at the pictures from Lynna @70. THAT is pure, uncontrolled, sociopathic rage. That man in the hat should, at a bare minimum, be arrested for assault. There is no reasoning with these cult members that have been cultivated over the last four years.

  56. says

    NBC – “Jihadist plots used to be U.S. and Europe’s biggest terrorist threat. Now it’s the far right.”:

    The threat of terrorism — particularly from the far right — should be a major concern for governments on both sides of the Atlantic as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease, according to multiple experts and former law enforcement officials who have experience monitoring violent extremist activity.

    High unemployment levels due to the pandemic, poor economic prospects and the spread of disinformation through the internet and social media could accelerate radicalization, they said.

    And after a major drive by law enforcement agencies to disrupt the organizing potential of violent Islamist movements in the United States and in Europe, where hundreds of people have returned from the battlefields in Iraq and Syria, recent analysis suggests far-right groups now pose the most significant threat to public safety.

    “We see an increasing percentage of plots and attacks in the United States shifting over the past couple of years from jihadist motivations, increasingly, to far-right activity,” said Seth Jones, who directs the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

    Jones defined right-wing extremists as “sub-national or non-state entities” with goals that could include ethnic or racial supremacy. They can also be marked by anger against specific policies like abortion rights and government authority, as well as hatred toward women, or they may be members of the “involuntary celibate,” or “incel,” movement.

    A report he co-authored recorded 14 terrorist incidents, including attacks and disrupted plots, from Jan. 1 to May 8. Thirteen of them were classified as right-wing, and the other was recorded as being religiously motivated in the context of jihadism.

    The report found that the comparable figure for right-wing attacks and plots in 2019 was a little more than 60 percent, which itself was the highest level of such activity since 1995, the year of the Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building, which killed 168 people. And in both 2018 and 2019, right-wing attackers caused more than 90 percent of the terrorism-related deaths in the United States.

    Jones said the threat of terrorism had probably increased in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the combined activities of those opposed to lockdowns and other restrictions, anti-federal militia members and their backers, and far-right activists energized by the country’s polarized politics or angered by the Black Lives Matter movement.

    The highest-profile recent attacks came in late May and early June, when California police officers and security personnel were ambushed in separate attacks, leaving two people dead and three others injured. The FBI said one of the suspects who was arrested was associated with a loosely organized far-right “Boogaloo” movement.

    “There is a growing trend of right-wing extremism in the U.K., but it is not as significant as the rising right-wing extremism in America,” said retired Maj. Gen. Clive Chapman, the former head of counterterrorism for Britain’s Defense Ministry.

    He said that, in the almost two decades since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., more Americans — 335, according to data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies — have been killed by adherents of a form of right-wing extremism than any other terrorist ideology.

    He said terrorists need more than just an ideology to act — they often nurse grievances of some kind and typically have encountered what he termed a “recruitment environment.” That could be a social activity in a real-life community, he said, or it could be online.

    But Thomas Hegghammer, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment in Oslo, said that while the recent shift to far-right terrorist activity has not passed unnoticed by law enforcement internationally, the kind of websites that might radicalize right-wing actors have been subject to far less scrutiny than has been accorded to the equivalent jihadist literature.

    “The threat hasn’t been perceived as sufficiently severe,” he said. “To put it bluntly, there hasn’t been enough mass casualty terrorism from the far right for Western governments to put the full weight of their intelligence apparatus into this.”

    The limited censorship and law enforcement surveillance of “hard-core far-right extremist propaganda” on the internet has made it easier for users to access such material without inviting attention from government intelligence agencies, Hegghammer said — at least for now.

    Meanwhile, the clampdown on online jihadist activity has significantly affected the ability of organizations like the Islamic State militant group to reach new audiences online and to recruit adherents, he said. After a spate of high-profile attacks in Brussels, Paris and London several years ago, the frequency of such incidents has fallen recently….

    (I’m not the first to point this out, but…while it makes sense to distinguish different forms of far-Right terrorism, Islamists are also on the far Right.)

  57. tomh says

    At least 40 test positive after week-long church revival in Alabama

    More than 40 people who attended a Baptist church revival in Alabama have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to AL.com.

    Located in the tiny northern Alabama community of Strawberry, about 45 minutes south of Huntsville, the Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church typically has 80 to 100 attendees. “The whole church has got it, just about,” pastor Daryl Ross told the paper on Sunday. He, too, tested positive but said he has been out “building fences and bush-hogging” with minimal symptoms while others are afflicted by fevers and respiratory issues…

    Those who attended the revival were aware of the risks and “knew what we were getting into,” Ross told AL.com.

    “But, my goodness, man, for three days we had one of the old-time revivals,” he added. “It was unbelievable. And everybody you ask, if you talk to our church members right now, they’d tell you we’d do it again. It was that good.”

    By Antonia Farzan

  58. says

    Bill Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee today at 10 AM ET. It will be on C-SPAN and I assume cable news. I don’t think I’ll watch it live. He’s already released his opening statement, and what I’ve seen of it is infuriating. He’s one of the most unscrupulous people I’ve ever seen, he’s corrupt, and he’s a religious fanatic. He’s lied to courts, to people in the DoJ, to others in government, and to the public. He’s blocked any real oversight. Representatives often have difficulty getting to the truth through these hearings even without the media treating them like theatrical productions and Trumpublican obstruction, both of which will be in overdrive today; add to this Barr’s willingness to lie, and I think it’s better for my blood pressure to skip the live hearing.

  59. says

    Here’s a link to the July 28 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    A video posted by far-right news site Breitbart, in which a group of doctors claimed hydroxychloroquine was a “cure” for Covid-19 and that masks were useless, reached 20 million views on Facebook, and was retweeted twice by Donald Trump on Twitter, before it was taken down has been taken down from both sites for spreading false information about the pandemic.

    Reposts of the video, a livestream of a Friday press conference held by a group calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors”, are already hitting millions of views again on both platforms.

    The press conference, which had racked up millions of views on Facebook over the weekend without attracting a significant amount of mainstream attention, gained sudden notoriety overnight when Trump retweeted a clip of the video posted by alt-right personality Melissa Tate. Tate’s caption of the footage, in which Dr Stella Immanuel claims that hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for Covid-19, said that the “suppression” of the drug was a scandal by [White House medical advisor] “Fauci and the democrats to perpetuate Covid deaths to hurt Trump.”

    Following the US president’s retweet, both Twitter and Facebook appeared to become aware of the footage, and removed it from their platforms, with a Facebook spokesperson saying that it was removed “sharing false information about cures and treatments for Covid-19.”

    Dr Immanuel warned Facebook against taking down the footage, lest God begin causing computer problems for the company.

  60. KG says

    SC@81,
    You anticipated me on the “Breitbart” post. But here’s what immediatelty follows what you posted:

    Stella Immanuel MD (@stella_immanuel)

    Hello Facebook put back my profile page and videos up or your computers with start crashing till you do. You are not bigger that God. I promise you. If my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name.

    This person is really an MD? Evidently she thinks she is “bigger than God”, since she’s telling him what to do.

  61. says

    Guardian – “Women unite in maverick attempt to unseat Lukashenko in Belarus”:

    Three women are spearheading a maverick opposition campaign for next month’s presidential election in Belarus, transforming the country’s politics as they attempt to unseat Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled for 25 years.

    At their head is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a reluctant candidate who has grown increasingly confident in her challenge to Lukashenko.

    Last week Tikhanovskaya delivered campaign speeches on national television and to crowds in their thousands in the capital, Minsk, and in smaller cities and towns.

    Initially a stand-in for her husband, a popular blogger barred from running and jailed by the authorities, she has come into her own as a political candidate and is comfortable forming a direct connection with voters, allies say.

    “Her growth has been colossal,” said Maria Kolesnikova, the head of the presidential campaign for another opposition politician, Viktor Babariko, also barred from the elections and jailed by the government, who has allied with Tikhanovskaya.

    “It needs to be said that she’s an extremely brave and courageous woman. She has taken an enormous load on herself,” Kolesnikova said.

    Protests in support of opposition candidates are the biggest challenge in years to Lukashenko, amid anger over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and grievances over the economy and human rights. As well as jailing his main election rivals, he has detained hundreds of people in a crackdown on dissent.

    Tikhanovskaya has also had to make sacrifices. Last week it was revealed that she had taken her children out of the country for their own safety, after she had nearly been driven out of the race by threats against her family. Her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, remains behind bars for taking part in a rally in May.

    “Yes, I was scared at first,” she said in a televised speech. “I know what depths this government can go to in order to preserve its place. But I am no longer scared.”

    At boisterous campaign rallies, Tikhanovskaya and Kolesnikova have been joined by Veronika Tsepkalo, a former Microsoft employee and campaign head for her husband, Valery Tsepkalo, who has also been turfed out of the race and fled the country with his children to Moscow last week, saying he had been warned that an order had been put out for his arrest.

    In a bombshell announcement this month, the three women said they would be uniting their campaigns, connecting what are seen as complementary electorates between wealthier urban voters and opponents of Lukashenko in the countryside.

    Kolesnikova said they hammered out the decision to unite in just a quarter of an hour….

    The optics of the announcement also caught the public imagination. In photographs, together, Tsepkalo flashed a peace sign, Tikhanovskaya held up a fist and Kolesnikova formed her two hands into a heart. A surge of fan art has followed.

    “We believe that we are not of a second sort, that we stand equal to men and believe that we can win,” said Tsepkalo after the announcement, in a dig at Lukashenko, who has said politics should remain a sphere dominated by men.

    “Our constitution is not made for a woman,” he said. “Our society hasn’t matured to the point to vote for a woman.” He also referred to them as “poor things”.

    Tikhanovskaya has embraced her role as a reluctant candidate, saying she is not interested in running for politics but is doing so from a sense of duty.

    “I love my husband so I am continuing his cause,” she told a crowd of several thousand voters in a stump speech in Barysaw on Thursday. “I love my children and want them to grow up in a country where people don’t have their mouths shut. I love Belarusians, so I want to give them the possibility to choose.”

    She also appeared speaking in fluent English on a BBC report in a segment that so angered Lukashenko that he called for the news agency to be tossed out of the country, along with local reporters for RFE/RL.

    #Lukashenko is not even trying to pretend that he talks to people and travels to villages and towns. He has visited three military bases in the past two weeks, to make sure that the military is ready to violently disperse protests. This is what was shown on the state TV…”

    Video of “riot police” training to shut down protests atl.

  62. says

    KG @ #83, she does appear to be a doctor, scarily enough, but also a nut (Christian variety):

    Trump and his allies have embraced @stella_immanuel, a doctor with a viral video saying masks aren’t needed. But Immanuel has also claimed that some medical issues are caused by sex with demons and witches, and that alien DNA is used in medical treatment.

    Dr. Immanuel’s claim that hydroxychloroquine works against coronavirus has gone viral on the right. But Trump supporters haven’t noticed so far that Immanuel also believes that some gynecological problems are caused by demonic sperm.

    Pro-HCQ doctor @stella_immanuel has also claimed that witches are using everything from “That’s So Raven” and “The Wizards of Waverly Place” to toys to push witchcraft. She also believes the Magic 8-Ball “was a psychic.”

    Finally, viral Covid doc @stella_immanuel claimed that her clinic staff wore medical masks, and that any masks aren’t needed. But video from her clinic shows her wearing an N-95. In one, she tells people visiting her office that they have to wear masks.

  63. says

    AJ – “Brazil medics seek ICC probe of Bolsonaro gov’t COVID-19 response”:

    A group of unions representing Brazilian health workers have urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro’s government for crimes against humanity over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Brazil has the world’s highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths after the United States.

    The umbrella group on Monday filed a complaint to the court, accusing the government of being “criminally negligent in its management of the COVID-19 pandemic – risking the lives of healthcare professionals and of members of the Brazilian society.”

    “The unions believe it is the first suit of its kind to be filed against a government for large-scale death and illness due to public health failings,” they said in a statement.

    The ICC – established in 2002 in The Hague to achieve justice for the world’s worst crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – is under no obligation to consider such complaints.

    Brazil has recorded almost 2.44 million coronavirus cases and more than 87,000 related deaths. Hospitals are struggling to cope with an influx of patients, as infections are peaking in new locations across the country.

    Bolsonaro has downplayed the pandemic, comparing the virus to a “little flu” and attacking stay-at-home measures imposed by local authorities to contain it.

    The far-right leader tested positive for the virus himself on July 7 but said on Saturday he was now negative – crediting his controversial use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, a drug with no proven effectiveness against COVID-19.

    On Monday, the 65-year-old president was seen outside his official residence in the capital, Brasilia, where he removed his mask in public, greeting supporters and posing for pictures with them.

    Bolsonaro’s government “should be held accountable for its callous response to the pandemic”, said Marcio Monzane of UNI Americas, the organisation that led the legal action.

    “Filing a case with the International Criminal Court is a drastic measure, but Brazilians face an extremely dire and dangerous situation created by Bolsonaro’s deliberate decisions,” he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

  64. says

    Jason Leopold:

    DOJ has stonewalled, blocked, obstructed the release to @BuzzFeedNews and me of what DOJ lawyers claim are millions of pages of documents related to the Mueller/Russia probe & Barr’s intervention in two criminal cases: Flynn & Stone because Barr wants to control the narrative

    I know from numerous sources that the documents I have requested via #FOIA from DOJ on these issues & others, which would result in “significant media attention” go through high level review right up to the OAG.

    Barr/DOJ are selectively declassifying docs to fit their narrative

    Unfortunately for Barr & DOJ, I’m very patient and I fully intend to continue pursuing the documents long after they’re all gone.

    Remember, back in Marchx, the federal judge presiding over my/@EPICprivacy’s #FOIA lawsuit to unredact the Mueller report called Barr’s integrity and credibility into question saying he misled the public about it

    Congressional hearings bring out the most aggravating tendencies of cable news. Every time, they lapse into the pattern of framing it as “What should the Democrats ask? How successful will they be rhetorically in this hearing I’m reviewing like I’m a theater critic?” They should be informing the public about Barr’s pattern of corruption, politicization, stonewalling, and lying, the damage he’s doing, and the people bravely standing up to him, but they shirk that responsibility by criticizing the Democrats.

  65. blf says

    This is a rant, sorry…
    I finally “lost it” today with one of those individuals who neither mask nor socially distance properly. I was “primed” yesterday by another such individual, a young lady who whilst “wearing” a mask, only covered her chin but neither her nose or mouth, and who also had no concept of social distancing. A young man with her (who I took to be her brother (I could be mistaken)) was more sensible: He didn’t have a mask, but was using his T-shirt as a makeshift mask, covering both his nose and mouth, albeit not really social distancing. Fortunately, I was able go keep ≥1m away from the both of them, mostly because the shop wasn’t busy.

    This morning at the outdoors market, I was trapped between two (elderly) ladies — neither wearing a mask — with no concept of social distancing. Initially, I was able to keep my distance (whilst glaring at both of them), but when it came time to weight-up and pay for my purchases, I was trapped: The lady preceding me was chatting and very very slow to leave (a common hazard in France), the lady following me was crowding up next to me (also common (pre-pandemic)), and there was no room to back up or get out of their inconsiderate way. Things finally came to a steam-out-of-ears head when the preceding lady finally left, the following lady darted into her place (uncommon, the French are usually very polite), and I felt trapped by the passers-by and other customers. I yelled at the remaining lady, who reacted by moving closer and grabbing me. In her defense, she perhaps didn’t understand English and was trying to calm me down, but “closer and grabbing” is NOT the right thing to have done. I totally freaked out at this point, and it was the stall-holders who calmed the situation down, albeit it took a very nice lunch (at a new restaurant replacing an old favorite) to finally calm me down.

    (To the best of my knowledge, wearing- or not-wearing-a-mask is not an issue here in France, albeit the rules are (in my opinion) too weak, as I’ve commented-on before.)

  66. says

    Unreal – “The GOP’s liability immunity bill would make it impossible to sue negligent businesses, while also flooding the federal courts with lawsuits by businesses against people they infected, plus lawsuits by AG Barr against unions, lawyers, and doctors. A thread:…”

    Also – CNN – “Senate GOP coronavirus relief bill includes $1.75B for new FBI building at administration’s request”:

    The Republican coronavirus stimulus proposal includes funds for the design and construction of a new FBI headquarters at the request of the Trump administration.

    The bill includes $1.75 billion “for the design and construction of a Washington, D.C. headquarters facility for the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” according to the bill text.

    The provision comes after the administration’s successful push for the funds caused significant problems during the intraparty negotiations. But the funding could still face an uncertain future, with at least two key Republicans withholding full support.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially indicated at a news conference Monday that he was not aware the FBI provision was in the bill but then moments later said the White House “insisted that be included.”

    The Trump administration and specifically President Donald Trump have long been involved in plans surrounding FBI headquarters.

    The Justice Department’s inspector general said last year that it would probe a decision to scrap plans to move the FBI headquarters out of Washington to the district’s suburbs, a decision that may have benefited Trump’s nearby hotel.

    Plans to relocate the FBI from the aging Hoover building, which had been in the works since at least 2012, could have resulted in the construction of a hotel to compete with Trump’s hotel a block away.

    But in 2017 and early 2018, the FBI’s new leadership began to reconsider, preferring to stay in the nation’s capital. Government property managers at the General Services Administration called off prior development plans.

    The decision ultimately went to the White House, and was discussed in an Oval Office meeting with the President.

    In late 2018, senior House Democrats said they had reviewed documents indicating that Trump was “directly involved with the decision to abandon the long-term relocation plan and instead move ahead with the more expensive proposal to construct a new building on the same site, and thereby prevent Trump Hotel competitors from acquiring the land.”

    The White House pushed back, with then-press secretary Sarah Sanders asserting at the time that “the President wanted to save the government money and also the FBI leadership did not want to move its headquarters.”

    A financial analysis conducted by the GSA’s inspector general, however, concluded that constructing a new FBI building in downtown Washington “would actually be more costly” than relocating the bureau….

  67. blf says

    On specific details (e.g., what “restricted” means), but from the Grauniad’s current dalekocrazy running amok live blog:

    Donald Trump Jr’s Twitter account was restricted after he reshared a video of Dr [sic] Stella Immanuel, who has made a number of baseless claims about coronavirus.

    Immanuel has hailed hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronavirus […].

    The Houston doctor [sic] has also dismissed mounting evidence that face masks substantially help to limit the spread of coronavirus.

    The Daily Beast has more on Immanuel:

    Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

    She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington DC to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by reptilians and other aliens.

    Clearly auditioning for a part in teh dalekocra\y. She could do a lot of damage at the FDA (the CDC is already torpedoed), or the NIH, or as a replacement for Dr Fauci… alls teh besteringest peeploes!!1!

  68. blf says

    Another correction to me@96 & @97: Earlier entries in the Grauniad’s blog indicated that twitterings actions about hair furor-wannabe Jr’s nonsense was merely that twittering “had only required the president’s [sic] son to delete a tweet with false claims about coronavirus and limited some account features for 12 hours.”

  69. KG says

    she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens – The Daily Beast on Stella Immanuel

    So that’s why Trump has orange skin and that weird thing growing on his head! The attempt to disguise him as a human being was only partially successful.

  70. blf says

    Hadley Freeman (one of my favourite writers in the Gruaniad)… normally, I would ignore articles like this as I have nothing but absolute contempt for the entire dysfunctional family of hereditary authoritarian leaches, but the excerpted bits are so on point, What’s the bombshell in the Harry and Meghan book? That the royals are all as bad as each other:

    […]
    The [NKofE’s] royals are the embodiment of the Tinkerbell effect: they are only a big deal if we think they are a big deal. If people stopped looking at them and the papers stopped writing about them, they would ostensibly cease to exist, something Harry and Meghan may discover for themselves if they really think they can control all that’s written about them. We may be their subjects, but their actual role is to be our objects.

    The bizarre edifice that the British public and media have constructed to maintain this deranged pretence about the relevance of the royals was in full view this weekend when the papers published extracts of Finding Freedom, a book about Nelson Mandela’s time on Robben Island. Wait, I’m sorry — I mean the time Harry and Meghan escaped the prison of subsidised luxury to live in Tyler Perry’s mansion in Los Angeles.

    Now, I’ve written about Harry and Meghan a fair amount by this point, because I have an incredibly low brow and I think it’s interesting that this heretofore little-known actor inspires such insanity from some British columnists. Plus, her family is an absolute trip, with a father who makes even the Windsors look like novices when it comes to inflicting emotional abuse on your own children, and they’ve been practising the art for generations. I also — I admit it! — enjoyed how before the wedding, some commentators complained that Meghan was only marrying Harry to be in the royal family, and then afterwards complained she only married him to destroy it. Social climber or destructor? Who knows?

    But at no point did I think people believed Harry and Meghan matter in the great scheme of things. I […] assumed we all understood they do not, any more than Prince Andrew ever did or does, except to various members of international law enforcement, to whom he possibly matters quite a lot.

    Well, last weekend’s headlines put paid to my delusion, with half the press regurgitating whatever was in the book, and the other half regurgitating whatever counter-narrative the royals are putting out. Fair enough — it’s not as if there’s any news on at the minute. Whether Harry and Meghan had any involvement in the book is a topic I’ll leave to those who care. Yet it was hard not to suspect this much-touted “bombshell” may be lacking in any bombs, or even shells, if the biggest headline the papers could lead on was that William “behaved like a snob” to Meghan.

    Confirming that a member of the royal family is a snob is like getting excited about the pope’s Catholicism or, perhaps more aptly, bears’ woods-based activities. If William was not a snob, he would throw up all over himself every time he introduced himself. There would be no way he could possibly justify his existence to himself if he was not an absolute raging snob, and the same goes for every stupid member of his stupid family. […]

    [… M]any things can be true at once, as true as they are obvious. Are the Windsors awful, riddled with snobbery, sexism and racism? Yes! Were they unfriendly to Meghan? Undoubtedly. Did Harry and Meghan have a ludicrously cushy deal in the UK? Yes. Do they now? Yes. And do they seem to not really appreciate that? Well …

    […]

  71. blf says

    Back in the world of reality (as opposed to the morans of @111), Authors condemn Saudi Arabia’s bid to host World Science Fiction Convention:

    More than 80 writers sign an open letter protesting against Jeddah’s plan for the 2022 Worldcon, saying it is antithetical to everything SFF stands for

    […]

    Pointing to the fact that homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, its escalating restrictions on freedom of speech, and the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the writers argue that it is unacceptable to stage an international event against this backdrop.

    “On a personal level, we note that many of us would ourselves not be able to write or to live freely under Saudi law. We refuse to attend an event if those staffing it cannot have the same basic freedoms,” they write, in the letter addressed to the board of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the 2020 Worldcon chair, Norman Cates. “We express deep concern that many members of the SFF community would be excluded.”

    WorldCon, where the winners of the prestigious Hugo awards are announced, has been running every year since 1946, with members of the WSFS voting for each year’s location, and for the Hugo winners. This year’s event will take place, virtually, in New Zealand on Saturday, with next year’s lined up for Washington DC. As well as Jeddah, a bid for 2022 has been submitted by Chicago.

    While the writers acknowledge that holding the convention in Jeddah would “open up a new world to fans who may otherwise never have an opportunity to travel there, and show solidarity with creative communities within Saudi Arabia and other Arab states”,they state that “the Saudi regime is antithetical to everything SFF stands for”.

    “We stand in solidarity with those who seek change in the country. And we write in protest but also in hope — that by raising awareness of the political situation in Saudi Arabia a WorldCon SA will one day be possible,” say the writers.

    [Anna] Smith Spark said the initial response from the WSFS had been dismissive of the authors’ concerns, but that the response from readers, writers and publishers had been “astonishingly positive”.

    […]

    Ms Smith Spark is apparently the individual who organised / led the protest letter.

  72. says

    Oh look at that. The Umbrella Man cited as the instigator of the worst post-Floyd violence in Minnesota is a white supremacist biker from a gang called the Aryan Cowboys.

    No charges…yet.

    Pair that with the two cops killed in California having been done by right-wing Boogbois, one of whom is in the Air Force.

    Didn’t stop Ted Cruz & co from immediately blaming antifa with no retraction since.”

  73. blf says

    US: Law to bring civil rights-era crimes to public view stalled:

    The White House has not appointed a board observers say may help to bring the truth of US racial killings into light.

    In spite of a law to that effect, the process meant to make public case documents from investigations into unsolved civil rights movement-era hate crimes has languished because US President [sic] Donald Trump has so far not appointed a review board central to gathering and declassifying the files, observers say.

    The Civil Rights Cold Case Collection Act of 2018 […] calls for the creation of a public archive of civil rights-era “cold cases” — unsolved killings that appear motivated by racial hatred that occurred between 1940 and 1980 during the movement for equal rights for all citizens in the US.

    The digitised collection at the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) is intended to pool all relevant documents from any federal agency, including “any State or local government” that worked in connection with a federal civil rights cold case investigation.

    The law also calls for a five-person review board to serve as “an independent agency” that will “ensure and facilitate the review, transmission to the Archivist, and public disclosure of civil rights cold case records”.

    […]

    In 2006, the FBI launched the Cold Case Initiative, which called for the Department of Justice to identify, review and if possible prosecute unsolved racially motivated murders committed decades ago. Under that and the 2008 passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, the FBI and Justice Department have closed 116 of the 132 incidents investigated.

    [… O]utside scrutiny of cases closed by the FBI has in the past yielded new leads.

    In 2019, US broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR) reported that its journalists, using only the FBI case files from the closed investigation, were able to identify a man who had participated in the murder of Boston minister James Reeb, killed in 1965 during a voting-rights campaign in Selma, Alabama. The suspect died shortly after his involvement was confirmed.

    NPR also learned that the case files had never been shared with local authorities.

    […]

    Trump signed the bill […] but included a lengthy statement detailing several serious constitutional concerns, including issues of the bill possibly being interpreted to allow interference with executive privilege and the integrity of the law enforcement processes.

    He also took issue with the review board’s purported authority … to compel agency heads to provide cold case records to the Board, its investigative powers, and its ability to make decisions on public disclosure of documents.

    The legislation calls on the president, “if practicable”, to appoint the board within 120 days of the law’s passage, or 60 days of receiving recommendations from several legal and historical organisations.

    Those organisations began providing recommendations in July of last year.

    The delay creates several issues, including cutting into the four-year time period the board has to complete its work. The board can vote to extend for one year, after which new legislation would be needed.

    […]

    In a June letter to Trump, Senator Doug Jones, who co-sponsored the bill, noted that if appointments are not made, it is unclear what will happen to the one million dollars allocated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2020, which ends September 30, to support the board’s work.

    […]

  74. blf says

    I’ve walked by that hotel hundreds of times (when I lived in Dublin) and recall the statues, but don’t recall noticing they were shackled slaves, Shelbourne Hotel removes 153-year-old statues of slave girls from its plinth:

    […]
    The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin has taken down four statues which have stood outside it for the last 153 years because of their associations with slavery.

    The four bronze statues were commissioned by the Shelbourne Hotel’s owner in 1867 when the celebrated facade was erected.

    They depict two Nubian princesses from the lower Nile and their slave girls holding torches.

    That’s probably why I never noticed: The statues were clearly of the “faux ancient Egyptian” style which was all the craze at the time, a style I generally detest. Some are also bare-breasted, which amused me as I’d thought that would be very unpopular in at-the-time heavily religious Ireland (albeit at the time, the opinions of the Irish and their priests won’t have mattered a hoot). There are images at the link. (I am aware of the irony of not remembering the shackles whilst recalling the bare breasts.)

    […]
    The hotel’s general manager JP Kavanagh said the decision to take the four statues down had been taken by them alone and there had been no complaints from outsiders about them.

    “It was a decision taken just by us with our owner and operator. This decision has been coming for a number of weeks given what has been happening in the world,” he said.

    […]

    “What comes next I don’t know at this stage, but we will work with the relevant authorities.”

    Mr Kavanagh said there was a possibility that some or all of the statues might be restored to their old plinths but “right now” that is not an option and they hoped to work with Irish Heritage to replace them. […]

    I applaud their sensitivity — to both artistic good taste and current events.

  75. blf says

    In teh State of Frauida, Man buys Lamborghini after getting nearly $4m in coronavirus loans, authorities say:

    Complaint alleges Florida man bought luxury goods after receiving PPP loans meant to help small businesses hit by the pandemic

    […]

    A US Department of Justice complaint alleges that David Hines applied on behalf of a few companies for about $13.5m in PPP loans, used money he received to shop at luxury stores and resorts in Miami Beach, then lied about how much he had paid to employees.

    Hines was charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds.

    Bank of America approved three PPP applications for Hines. In each he claimed 70 employees, with monthly payroll expenses totaling $4m. He was paid $3,984,557.

    But his accounts for preceding months indicated monthly inflows and outflows of $200,000 and payments resembling payroll were for small amounts to just 12 people.

    On receiving the PPP funds, he made two payments of $30,000 to a recipient noted as “Mom”.

    “Within days of receiving the PPP funds, Hines purchased a 2020 Lamborghini Huracan sports car for approximately $318,000, which he registered jointly in his name and the name of one of his companies,” prosecutors said.

    […]

    At least 15 other individuals have been charged in similar cases to that involving Hines, including defendants in Virginia, Texas and Ohio.

    In May, Forbes reported that David A Staveley (AKA Kurt D Sanborn) of Andover, Massachusetts, and David Butziger of Warwick, Rhode Island, allegedly conspired to illegally obtain PPP funds.

    Staveley and Butziger, who allegedly claimed more than $500,000, were charged with conspiracy after claiming on dozens of employees at four business entities when in truth they had no employees at all.

    Staveley allegedly faked his own death to avoid prosecution but was arrested last week in Alpharetta, Georgia.

    To pull off this sort of fraud more successfully, change your surname to Kushner. Or Trump.

  76. says

    I have a need for someone to ask Barr to confirm that when he went to try to strongarm/bribe Geoffrey Berman he booked a suite at the Pierre with public money.

  77. blf says

    Zimbabwe brands US ambassador a thug as crackdown on dissent intensifies:

    Ruling Zanu-PF accuses US delegate of fomenting unrest ahead of planned anti-corruption demonstrations

    Zimbabwe’s ruling party has threatened the US ambassador with expulsion, amid an intensifying crackdown on opposition and union activists ahead of planned anti-corruption demonstrations on Friday.

    Officials from the Zanu-PF called ambassador Brian Nichols a thug who was fomenting unrest by funding protest organisers.

    The accusation came as police published a wanted list of 14 prominent critics of the government including trade unionist Peter Mutasa, opposition legislator Job Sikhala and two former youth leaders of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

    Patrick Chinamasa, the spokesperson for Zanu-PF, said Nichols and a coterie of gangsters should stop mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgency. Our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders.

    Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug, Chinamasa said.

    The outburst follows criticism from the US and other western powers of last week’s arrests of opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who has been an outspoken critic of corruption under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule.

    Chin’ono recently published documents raising concerns that powerful individuals in Zimbabwe were profiting from multimillion-dollar deals for essential supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

    […]

    As the economic situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated in recent months, there has been a surge of repression, and a series of abductions of government critics. Many detainees have been assaulted, humiliated or threatened and several have been told not to criticise the government.

    Millions in Zimbabwe face acute shortages of basic foodstuffs as prices soar. The country is also facing a looming health crisis as Covid-19 cases increase.

    This has made the government particularly sensitive to accusations of corruption.

    Chinamasa also issued what appeared to be a call for vigilante action, telling government supporters to use any means necessary if there was disorder during the protests planned for Friday.

    Don’t ask for permission from anybody, it’s your constitutional and legal right. Don’t be sitting ducks … phoning us. No, this time no, use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves. We are reminding our people that self-defence is a right especially when your security is under threat from these violent so-called protesters, Chinamasa said.

    Despite the country’s problems, Zimbabwe’s divided opposition has yet to mobilise a mass protest movement.

    […]

    The health minister, Obadiah Moyo, was charged last month in connection with the awarding of a $60m (£47m) contract to a company that allegedly sold Covid-19 supplies to the government at inflated prices.

    Whilst Ambassador Nichols was appointed by hair furor, he seems to be a career diplomat, serving previously as Ambassador to Peru. (As an aside, don’t confuse the Ambassador with the mass-murderer of the same name.)

  78. says

    Campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    In one of Georgia’s U.S. Senate races, Sen. David Perdue (R) recently ran an ad featuring a manipulated picture of his opponent — Jon Ossoff (D), who is Jewish — with an enlarged nose. The Republican campaign took down the image and claimed it was an “unintentional error” by an outside, unnamed vendor.

    About a month ago, the University of Michigan withdrew from hosting the second 2020 presidential debate, and yesterday, the University of Notre Dame withdrew from hosting the first debate. As NBC News noted, the debate commission said the event will instead be co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, and will be held at the university’s Health Education Campus in Cleveland.

    Donald Trump has canceled plans to hold a Republican convention event in Florida next month, but the misguided effort is reportedly costing party donors millions of dollars.

    Of the $38 million raised by the host committee for Charlotte, North Carolina, most has been spent, according to Republicans familiar with the finances.

    The host committee in Jacksonville, Florida, where Trump had moved the convention, raised an additional $6 million, but GOP officials said much of that money remains.

    Now, the president’s team is searching not only for a new stage from which he can deliver a speech accepting his party’s nomination for a second term, but also a way to appease Republicans who have nothing to show for their donations.

  79. says

    Why does the GOP aid package include millions for fighter jets?

    The Republican aid plan slashes benefits for the unemployed, but it includes money for fighter jets that Donald Trump believes are literally invisible.

    It was late yesterday when Republican leaders finally unveiled the economic aid package, the contents of which are still being carefully reviewed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, seemed to have no idea that his party’s proposal included money for a new FBI headquarters — as part of an apparently corrupt scheme to help one of Donald Trump’s businesses.

    But that’s hardly the only controversial element of the GOP plan. Roll Call reported overnight:

    Senate Republicans have laced their roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package with at least $7 billion for weapons, most of which are built by leading contractors that contribute heavily to congressional campaigns. […] includes money for fighter jets, helicopters, radars, ships and armored vehicles that the measure’s authors have deemed “emergency” spending that is not capped by the budget control law.

    Remember, the ostensible point of the aid package is to bolster U.S. efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and relieve the economic burdens felt by Americans during the recession.

    It’s also, evidently, an opportunity for Senate Republicans to try to direct billions of dollars to defense contractors.

    Among the many provisions along these lines in the GOP bill is $686 million for Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Air Force fighter jets — which Donald Trump genuinely seems to believe are literally invisible. […]

    After careful intra-party negotiations, which lasted weeks, GOP officials settled on a plan that slashes benefits for the unemployed, while ignoring Democratic calls for food assistance and aid to states. Those are priorities, Republicans concluded, that the country simply can’t afford.

    These same Republicans, however, apparently believe we can afford a plan that includes $1 billion for P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance jets, $283 million for Apache helicopters, $720 million for the C-130J Hercules transport planes, $200 million for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense anti-missile system, and $650 million to replace the wings on A-10 attack aircrafts. […]

    Update: In case this isn’t obvious, these proposed military investments are on top of the money the Senate allocated for defense in the NDAA, which was approved in the chamber last week.

  80. says

    Follow-up to comments 81, 83, 85, 96 and 108.

    Having learned nothing, Trump promotes bogus COVID ‘cure’ online

    Trump knows what the FDA thinks about hydroxychloroquine. He just finds the conclusions of random people he finds on Twitter to be more compelling.

    […] evidently [Trump] saw an online video featuring Stella Immanuel, a woman who purports to be a Houston-based medical professional, making the case that hydroxychloroquine can “cure” people of COVID-19. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube agreed that the content was false and potentially dangerous misinformation, and as such, the online giants took down the video.

    Trump, however, saw the content as worth promoting to the public. […]

    In fact, the topic appears to be foremost on the president’s mind lately. Just since Sunday, Trump has retweeted a series of bizarre items, each of which touted hydroxychloroquine as a game-changing medication. One of the missives promoted by the president claimed that the drug is being “suppressed” as part of a political conspiracy “to keep deaths high so the economy can be shut down ahead of the election.”

    Yes, this is clearly bonkers, but it’s also the kind of thinking that the Leader of the Free World (a) finds compelling; and (b) wants to share with his 84.2 million Twitter followers.

    It comes a month after the Food and Drug Administration withdrew its authorization for emergency use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients. The FDA concluded that the medication carries significant health risks, and it doesn’t appear to help those with the virus. […]

    […] the Washington Post published an article over the weekend that included a sentence that resonated with me: “Trump is also predisposed to magical thinking — an unerring belief, at an almost elemental level, that he can will his goals into existence, through sheer force of personality, according to outside advisers and former White House officials.”

    This is a ridiculous and unsettling quality in a leader, but it also explains quite a bit about Trump’s approach to, well, practically everything.

    In this case, the Republican seems to realize that the pandemic is a problem, so he wants a cure. The president then finds people who tell him there’s already a cure. Trump wants that to be true, so he decides that it is true, and anyone who takes issue with his magical thinking must be part of a nefarious plot.

    Adults, especially those in positions of authority, are supposed to have the wherewithal to think more clearly and responsibly. […]

  81. says

    Notes from Barr’s testimony today:

    […] Pressed by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Barr tries to defend his baseless claim that foreign governments could flood a vote-by-mail election with counterfeit ballots.

    She notes that several election officials have pointed out that the theory is implausible and that there are multiple layers of security with vote-by-mail that prevent that kind of attack from happening.

    “There are not multiple levels of security,” Barr claims in response. [Bullshit. Barr is lying, or he is remarkably ill-informed.]
    ————————
    Barr defends Trump’s new census policy excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count.

    Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) brought up guidance the Department gave in a letter to a lawmaker in the late 1980s, while Barr was in a leadership role, concluding that the Constitution required that undocumented immigrants should be included in the count.

    Barr says that the Department is now advising that Congress has the power to determine whether the meaning of the word “inhabitant,” as it applies to apportionment, includes or excludes undocumented immigrants.

    Barr says that the Department thinks that the Commerce Secretary has been delegated the congressional power to define that term.
    ————————-
    Barr admits that Berman did not agree to resign before the DOJ announced he was “stepping down” — an announcement that prompted public rebuke from Berman.

    Barr said that that term — “stepping down — is what is typically used to leave some “flexibility” about the circumstances of a departure. [Bullshit]

    Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) brought up a claim by Rudy Giuliani that Berman may have been ousted because of the “baseless” (in Giuliani’s words) investigations that were happening.

    “That’s nonsense,” Barr says, because removing a component head won’t affect a pending investigation. (Berman has testified that his ouster would have had the effect of slowing down investigations, because the administration was planning on bringing on an outsider to lead the office while Berman’s permanent replacement was confirmed.)

    Demings asks Barr if he has influenced or interfered with any SDNY investigations. Barr says he has not interfered but he has “raised questions about certain matters.” [So, yes, he has interfered.]
    ———————–
    When Barr tries to claim that tear gas was not used to disperse protestors at the White House in June, Jayapal brings up the testimony of D.C. National Guard major alleging tear gas and other excessive tactics were used.

    Barr responds by arguing that the national guard major, Adam DeMarco, was not involved in the decision making for clearing out the square.
    ——————–
    Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI): Is it ever appropriate for a president to solicit or accept foreign assistance in an U.S. election?

    Barr: “Depends on what kind of assistance.”

    Cicilline: Is it ever appropriate for a president to solicit or accept foreign assistance in an U.S. election?

    Barr: “No, it’s not appropriate.”
    ———————-
    Barr just defended a now-infamous arrest in Portland this month in which an unidentified person was apprehended by camouflage-clad DHS agents and thrown into a van — only to be released later. DHS has said that the apprehension wasn’t actually an “arrest,” but rather that agents were moving the detained person to another location for questioning.

    Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called the arrest illegal because Kris Cline, the principal deputy director of the Federal Protective Service, later described the detainment as a “simple engagement” rather than an arrest.

    But Barr did appear to imply the person was arrested, saying, “There is a distinction between whether the person ultimately can be shown to have violated the law and whether there was probable cause for the police to make the inquiry and interrogate them or ask them questions, at least.”
    ————————-
    Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) raises Barr’s statements during his confirmation hearing about the criminality of a president exchanging a pardon for a defendant’s promise not to incriminate the president. Swalwell then brought up Stone’s comments in the lead up to his commutation, in which Stone stressed that he had refused to turn on the President. Swalwell brought up these events as he asked Barr whether the DOJ was investigating Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence.

    Barr said there was no such investigation.

    “We require a reliable predicate before we open an investigation,” Barr said, calling Swalwell’s narrative a “Rube Goldberg theory.”
    ———————–
    Barr goes all in on his false claims about vote by mail, telling Richmond that he thinks there will be a “high risk” for massive voter fraud if there’s a large-scale switch to vote by mail. [Bullshit]
    ———————
    Barr is trying to clean up a damaging exchange he just had with Rep. Deutsch over the Stone sentencing, accusing the four line prosecutors who resigned over the attorney general’s politicization of “trying to force a new U.S. Attorney to adopt seven to nine,” referring to Stone’s recommended sentence.

    Barr downplayed Stone’s threats against a witness in the Mueller case, characterizing it as “a phone call late at night where he told a witness, ‘if you want to get it on, let’s get it’ on, and ‘I’ll take your dog.’”

    In fact, Stone threatened to kill Bianca, the service dog of comedian Randy Credico, and also threatened Credico himself.
    ———————–
    Rep. Deutsch wraps up an effective line of questioning, where he managed to pin Barr down on his involvement in pushing for a lighter sentence for Stone. The attorney general was eventually reduced to claiming that the sentencing judge issued a sentence in line with Barr’s, and not the line prosecutors’, recommendation — quite a dodge.
    ———————-
    Barr repeats the claim that the DOJ is walking away from the Flynn prosecution because it had determined that the investigation that led to him making false statements to the FBI was not legitimate.

    From Daniel Goldman:

    Ineffective opening line of questioning by @RepJerryNadler.

    Follow-up: have you intervened in ANY other sentencing in the DOJ?

    Note: Stone prosecutors advocated for a sentence within the Guidelines, which is the default practice of DOJ and happens in almost every case after trial verdict. [Barr said that the sentence was not within the guidelines, which is bullshit]

  82. blf says

    The Onion:

    ● US Policing By The Numbers (video).

    ● Trump Administration Plants 137,000 Corpses In Fauci’s Bed To Frame Him For Coronavirus Deaths:

    Placing an anonymous phone call to report a foul smell emitting from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director’s home, officials from the Trump administration reportedly planted 137,000 corpses in Anthony Fauci’s bed Monday to frame him for the country’s coronavirus deaths. “We finally got the guy responsible for coronavirus,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who cited police reports that found information on the coronavirus dating back to January on Fauci’s laptop. […] At press time, authorities suspected that Fauci was working with an accomplice after the coronavirus death toll continued to increase despite his arrest.

  83. says

    More notes regarding Bill Barr’s testimony:

    “I don’t agree there is systemic racism in police departments,” Barr tells Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
    ——————–
    He claims that he has not given Trump’s friends “special breaks” but says, rather, that he intervened in the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn cases to make sure they were treated equally.
    ———————
    “I am not going to discuss what I discuss with the President,” Barr says, while stressing that he’s pushed for cities to be chosen for the crackdowns for “neutral” reasons. [Bullshit]
    ———————-
    The GOP anti-protester video is several minutes long. It mixes together scenes of violence around protests and efforts to pull down confederate statutes. It plays into Trump’s framing that a law-and-order crackdown is necessary to calm the violent unrest.
    ————————
    Jordan rambles on at length about the Russia probe and why it was supposedly a politically motivated scheme against Trump. “Spying, that’s why they’re after you,” he tells Barr, referring to Barr’s claim that the Russia probe amounted to spying on Trump’s campaign.

    Barr said that 8 Black people had been killed by police officers since the beginning of the year, and that “more” white people had been killed by law enforcement officers, 11 white people. Later, during his testimony he made the same mistake again. He refuses to see or to admit to the fact that he is ignoring population statistics. 72% of the people in the U.S. identify as white. About 13.4% identify as Black people. There is some wiggle room in the statistics. Depending on the source, I see 12.1% to 15% of people being identified as Black. Even with some wiggle room, Barr cannot, in good conscience claim that white people are killed more often than black people by police.

    Barr was backing up Trump’s recent statements:

    “So are white people!” Trump said when asked in an interview with CBS News about why so many African Americans have been killed at the hands of police. “So are white people! What a terrible question to ask.”

    Trump added that “more white people, by the way” are killed by police than Black people.

    From NPR:

    […] More white people may be killed by police annually, but Black Americans are killed at a far higher rate.

    According to a database of police shootings since 2015 compiled by the Washington Post, 1,301 Black people have been killed by the police in the past five and a half years; 2,495 white people were killed.

    But, importantly, African Americans, who make up a far smaller portion of the total population than whites, are killed at a rate more than twice that of whites. […]

  84. blf says

    ‘Beyond the pale’: antics of Trump ambassadors highlight crisis in US diplomacy (my added emboldening):

    The president [sic] has rewarded big donors with key diplomatic roles — who have stood out for their lack of qualifications or aptitude

    The US ambassador to Iceland, a dermatologist and major Republican donor, reportedly became so paranoid about his security he asked to carry a gun and to be taken everywhere in an armoured car.

    Despite the absence of particular security concerns, the embassy in Reykjavik advertised in the local press for bodyguards, to placate the ambassador, Jeffrey Ross Gunter.

    […]

    A report to be published on Tuesday by Senate Democrats on the current situation at the state department, titled Diplomacy in Crisis, said: “While it is true that every administration has its share of questionable appointments, the Trump administration’s choices have gone beyond the pale, jeopardizing the department’s ability to safeguard our nation’s interests.

    Since being nominated May 2019, Gunter has proved so hard to work with he has gone through seven deputy chiefs of mission (DCMs), career diplomats who do most of the day-to-day management of the embassy. According to CBS News, he rejected his first deputy, who had spent months learning Icelandic, because he didn’t like the look of him at their introductory meeting.

    Gunter also reportedly refused to return to his post after attending a conference in Washington in February, arguing he could do the job remotely, and was only coaxed back to Reykjavik in May after a call from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

    The state department said that Gunter’s return was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, an explanation that drew scepticism from Ronald Neumann, the head of the American Academy of Diplomacy and former deputy assistant secretary of state who was ambassador to Afghanistan, Bahrain and Algeria and served across the Middle East.

    “As somebody who has served in three critical-threat posts, and came under fire as a diplomat, I find this cowardice pathetic,” Neumann said.

    Also, Covid-19 wasn’t seen as a problem (by hair furor and his dalekocrazy) in February, and Iceland had one of the best responses to the pandemic. He’d probably have been safer in Iceland. Pathetic, indeed!

    […]
    CBS reported that Gunter was persuaded not to make a formal request for a gun permit to the Icelandic authorities, who have very strict firearms laws.

    Gunter is far from being the only wealthy Trump donor turned diplomat to stand out for their eccentricities. The ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, a billionaire Trump backer, has been investigated by the state department office of the inspector general (before the inspector general was fired in May) for racist and sexist remarks.

    Johnson is reported to have resisted holding Black History Month events in 2018, asking his aides whether he would be addressing a whole bunch of black people. He was also reported to have held a number of official functions at a men-only London club, White’s.

    Johnson fired the London embassy’s DCM after he praised Barack Obama in a speech.

    Lana Marks, was a handbag designer and member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club before he made her ambassador to South Africa, where she also forced out her DCM, amid reports that she was seeking to install her son in a senior role in the embassy.

    The rate at which DCMs are being removed, and the reasoning behind the removals, has created cause for concern,” the Senate Democratic report, said. “In the process, the department lost significant institutional knowledge and substantive experience.

    […]

    Neumann said that the Trump diplomatic record was “somewhat outside the norm in numbers, and I think further outside the norm in poor quality of political appointees”.

    Of the 189 US ambassadorial posts, only three are currently held by African Americans, according to the American Foreign Service Association. The increasing share of top jobs going to Trump donors have also served to close off avenues of career advancement in general, leading to an exodus of aspiring diplomats.

    […]

    A state department spokesperson rejected widespread reports of low morale, using one of Pompeo’s favourite buzzwords.

    The state department’s swagger is fully back, the spokesperson said. From day one, Secretary Pompeo has delivered on advancing the interests and values of the American people both here at home and around the world.

  85. blf says

    Watchdog accuses Trump campaign of hiding $170m in spending:

    Group says firms linked to former campaign manager Brad Parscale masked millions in payments in violation of laws.

    President [sic] Donald Trump’s re-election effort allegedly hid nearly $170m in spending from mandatory public disclosure by routing payments through companies tied to his former campaign manager, a government oversight group claimed on Tuesday.

    The use of firms linked to former campaign manager Brad Parscale masked the ultimate recipients of the money, which the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) described as a “laundering” effort that violates election law, according to a complaint the group filed with the Federal Election Commission.

    […]

    Most of the payments by Trump’s campaign committees were made to American Made Media Consultants, which has received at least $177m since 2018, according to FEC records. The other firm, Parscale Strategy, has collected at least $32m during that period, the records show.

    The campaign said that American Made Media Consultants was formed to purchase advertising directly — and save money by not relying on middlemen. But records show the company instead acted as a clearinghouse for spending, while still using third-party vendors, which it was ostensibly created to avoid, the complaint states.

    In at least two cases, outside firms owned by Trump’s digital director Gary Coby appeared to have been the firm tapped to make purchases or develop digital communication products, though there is no record of payments made to Coby in Trump’s campaign finance disclosures, according to the complaint.

    Meanwhile, Parscale Strategy has been used to pay the salaries of some Trump re-election officials, including Lara Trump, the wife of Trump’s son Eric, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr, the complaint states.

    […]

    Brendan Fischer, a lawyer with the CLC, said the campaign was improperly avoiding mandatory disclosure.

    “This illegal conduit scheme leaves voters in the dark about the entities working for the Trump campaign, the nature of their services and the full amount they are paid,” Fischer said. “We don’t know all of what is being hidden by this scheme, but we do know that it violates the law.”

    [… I]t is unlikely that the group’s complaint will be taken up by the FEC before the election. The federal agency can take years to address complaints and it often deadlocks along partisan lines.

    Earlier this month, one longtime commissioner announced she was stepping down, denying the FEC enough members to legally meet to conduct business.

  86. says

    AP – “US officials tell AP: Russia spreading virus disinformation”:

    Russian intelligence operatives are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

    Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort directed at American and Western audiences, U.S. government officials said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

    The information had previously been classified, but officials said it had been downgraded so they could more freely discuss it. Officials said they were doing so now to sound the alarm about the particular websites and to expose a connection between the sites and Russian intelligence.

    Between late May and early July, one of the officials said, a trio of websites published about 150 articles about the pandemic response, including coverage aimed at propping up Russia and denigrating the U.S.

    Among the headlines that caught the attention of U.S. officials are “Russia’s Counter COVID-19 Aid to America Advances Case for Détente,” which suggested that Russia had given urgent and substantial aid to the U.S. to fight the pandemic, and “Beijing Believes COVID-19 is a Biological Weapon.”

    The disclosure comes as the spread of disinformation, including by Russia, is an urgent concern heading into November’s presidential election as U.S. officials look to avoid a repeat of the 2016 contest, when Russia launched a covert social media campaign to divide American public opinion to favor then-candidate Donald Trump. The country’s chief counterintelligence official warned in a public statement Friday about Russia’s continued use of internet trolls to advance their goals.

    Even apart from politics, the twin crises buffeting the country and much of the world — the pandemic and race relations and protests — have offered fertile territory for misinformation or outfight falsehoods.

    Officials described the disinformation as part of an ongoing and persistent Russian effort to cause confusion. They did not say whether the effort was directly related to the November election, though some of the coverage on the websites appeared to denigrate Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. The stories call to mind Russian efforts from 2016 to exacerbate race relations in America and drive corruption allegations against U.S. political figures.

    U.S. officials on Tuesday singled out a news agency, InfoRos[dot]ru, that operates a trio of websites InfoRos[dot]ru, Infobrics[dot]org and OneWorld[dot]press — that they say have leveraged the pandemic to promote anti-Western objectives and to spread disinformation.

    The sites promote their narratives in a sophisticated but insidious effort that officials liken to money laundering, where stories in well-written English — and often with pro-Russian sentiment and anti-U.S. sentiment — are cycled through other news sources to conceal their origin and enhance the legitimacy of the information.

    The sites also amplify stories that originate elsewhere, the government officials said.

    The sites focus on contemporary politics as well. A headline Tuesday on InfoRos[dot]ru about the unrest roiling major American cities read “Chaos in the Blue Cities,” accompanying a story that lamented how New Yorkers who grew up in the tough-on-crime approach of Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg “must adapt to life in high-crime urban areas.”

    Another story carried the headline of “Ukrainian Trap for Biden,” and claimed that “Ukrainegate” — a reference to stories surrounding Biden’s son Hunter’s former ties to a Ukraine gas company — “keeps unfolding with renewed vigors.”

    Two individuals who have also held leadership roles at InfoRos, identified Tuesday as Denis Valeryevich Tyurin and Aleksandr Gennadyevich Starunskiy, have previously served in a GRU unit specializing in military psychological intelligence and maintain deep contacts there, the officials said….

  87. blf says

    The Trump Administration Doesn’t Understand Memes:

    During a press conference Friday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany decried the supposed cancelling of Nickelodeon’s popular kids show PAW Patrol and, in doing so, proved why outrage over so-called cancel culture is usually nothing more than deflective bullshit.

    She also proved that the Trump administration is clueless when it comes to internet culture, but we already had a hunch about that after last month’s massive covert troll effort to sabotage the president’s [sic] rally.

    […]

    We saw a few weeks ago ‘Paw Patrol,’ a cartoon show about cops was cancelled, […], Lego halted the sales of their Lego city police station, it’s really unfortunate, she continued.

    As has come to be expected with any news coming out of the White House these days, that statement isn’t entirely true. Not only is Paw Patrol still airing on Nickelodeon, but there also was never any serious campaign to pull it off the air to begin with. It was all a meme sparked by the cancellation of several series that depict police violence […]

    After Paw Patrol, a children’s cartoon about animated pups performing public services, posted a milquetoast public statement that called for “Black voices to be heard” on Twitter in June, dragging the show’s police dog character quickly became the internet’s new favourite hobby. […] Calls to “defund the Paw patrol” started going viral, along with a slew of similar posts echoing that same hyperbolic response to a cartoon about puppies.

    [… M]any people, particularly conservatives, failed to pick up on the joke. The president’s [sic] son, Eric Trump, along with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, several right-wing news anchors, and their entourage of quick-to-anger supporters went on Twitter to rage over these supposed calls for the show’s cancellation, which only made trolls double-down and further commit to the meme.

    […]

    The press secretary’s statement about Lego was similarly fearmongering nonsense: The company didn’t pull its police-related Lego sets off store shelves, it issued a moratorium on marketing for items in its “City Police” toy set in response to ongoing racial justice protests.

    A Lego spokesperson confirmed this Friday, saying in a statement to CNN, “We did not halt sales of any LEGO sets, and any reports otherwise are false.”

    [… T]he loudest critics of cancel culture are either: a) bigots throwing a tantrum at being held responsible for their awful behaviour for once; or b) folks pissed at so-called “political correctness” that are looking for the next issue to rage over, no matter if it’s real or imagined.

    This amusing example of hair furor’s incompetent dalekocrazy came up in the comments on Mano Singham’s post How pathetic can you get? here at FtB.

  88. blf says

    Chris McDonald Smears John Lewis As a Rabid Racist Who Never Fought for Anything:

    […]
    John Lewis was a rabid racist, [radical right-wing conspiracy theorist Chris] McDonald said. He said some of the most racist rhetoric to this nation over the last 10 to 20 years of his life than any politician has ever said. He sowed division into this nation, he sowed discord into this nation racially.

    […]

    The nation didn’t lose an icon, McDonald added. The nation lost a race-baiter, they lost a race-divider. He never did anything to unite races. And if you can’t see that out there tonight, you can’t discern good from evil.

    I have no idea of this loon gave any examples of Lewis’ supposedly racist comments — the excerpted RWW article doesn’t list any, and I refuse to listen to the rant. Speculating, assuming he did give some real quotes, they were either taken out-of-context or, perhaps more likely, were comments about racism and racists — comments which racists seem to tend to claim are “racist” (calling out one’s bigotry is somehow “bigoted”).

  89. ffrancis says

    Something appears off with Barr’s comments in 125 (okay, a lot appears off, but specifically): 8 Black people and 11 white people killed by police “since the beginning of the year”; if true this would be an astonishing decline in police killings since the WaPo stats mentioned later show about 3800 Black and white people killed by police “since 2015”, or about 900 – 1000 a year.

  90. blf says

    Josh Bernstein Urges White People to Get Armed Immediately, Claiming BLM Activists Want to Spill White Blood:

    […]
    I’m proud to be white, [Next News Network radical right-wing commentator Josh] Bernstein said. I have zero guilt for being white. I love being white. I can’t help it, but I love being white. Hell, I eat white bread. I like white sugar over brown sugar. Does that make me racist too? I have zero white guilt. Zero. And I’m a big strong proponent of the Second Amendment. I am always packing heat. So if anyone out there is going to try to kill white people, I suggest that white people get armed immediately.

    […] [… T]here is also a certain amount of people that truly do want to spill white blood, and you have to be prepared for that. You have to protect yourself. You have to be packing heat. I don’t care how you get a gun. I don’t care what the state laws state. I’ve always said and I’ll say it again, ‘The Second Amendment is your gun permit.’ That’s it. It is final, it is finite, and you need to protect yourself.

    Finite?

    This rant was apparently triggered by a BLM protestor in London pointing out white men’s racism over the centuries had caused many many problems.

  91. blf says

    ffrancis@137, According to teh wannabe-dalek’s written statement, he said (my added emboldening) According to statistics compiled by the Washington Post, the number of unarmed black men killed by police so far this year is 8. The number of unarmed white men killed by police over the same time period is 11 (Written Statement of William P Barr, Attorney General (PDF)). So he was talking about the policegoons killing unarmed people. I have no idea if those figures are correct, or if he is (e.g.) misstating what the Washington Post is reporting.

    He also claimed [… T]he overall number of police shootings has been decreasing. An admittedly quick & trivial search suggests that claim is bullshite.

  92. blf says

    Lorde and Mick Jagger urge politicians to seek permission before using music:

    […]
    Music stars including Lorde, Sia and Mick Jagger have signed an open letter demanding politicians gain clearance to their music before using songs in campaign advertising or events.

    The letter, produced in partnership with the Artist Rights Alliance, urges political parties to “establish clear policies requiring campaigns to seek consent” from any artists they hope to feature.

    “This is the only way to effectively protect your candidates from legal risk, unnecessary public controversy, and the moral quagmire that comes from falsely claiming or implying an artist’s support or distorting an artists’ expression in such a high stakes public way,” the letter reads.

    Using a song without going through the correct channels is called “dishonest and immoral” and publicised use “can compromise an artist’s personal values while disappointing and alienating fans — with great moral and economic cost”.

    The letter also warns that improper use can “inevitably draw even the most reluctant or apolitical artists off the sidelines, compelling them to explain the ways they disagree with candidates wrongfully using their music”.

    […]

    Here’s a chance for Biden and the dummies to clearly distinguish themselves from hair furor and teh thugs.

  93. blf says

    Americans warned not to plant mysterious seeds appearing in the mail:

    […]
    Agriculture officials in several US states issued warnings this week about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them.

    Residents in more than a dozen states recently reported receiving seed packets they did not order that appeared to have been sent by mail from China.

    […]

    The [federal Department of Agriculture] is urging US residents to report the suspicious packages and not plant the seeds. But it it “doesn’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales”.

    […] “At this point in time, we don’t have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism,” [Kentucky agriculture commissioner Ryan] Quarles added. “Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment.”

    […]

  94. tomh says

    Re: #121 Money for the Pentagon

    WaPo:
    GOP coronavirus bill replaces money for Pentagon projects Trump raided for border wall
    By Erica Werner and Karoun Demirjian
    July 28, 2020

    Senate Republicans’ new $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package would restore hundreds of millions of dollars in Pentagon spending that the Trump administration redirected to help pay for building President Trump’s border wall.

    Projects involving Navy aircraft and ships and Air Force planes that the Trump administration canceled this year so the money could pay for the wall have reappeared in the GOP package, introduced Monday. The programs are part of $30 billion in defense spending in the GOP plan to which Democrats are objecting. Republicans are defending the spending as important to protect jobs and help the Pentagon cope with the impacts of the coronavirus.
    […]

    In one example, the administration sought to zero out a $261 million account for the Navy’s Expeditionary Fast Transport ship. The coronavirus bill would put $260 million back into this program. The ship is built by Austal USA, based in Shelby’s home state, Alabama.

    The administration’s reprogramming notice also took $180 million from the budget for the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft, saying there were already enough planes and describing it as a “congressional special interest item.” The new bill would put more than $1 billion into the P-8A program.

    The Trump administration’s reprogramming notice redirected $365 million from the Air Force’s C-130J aircraft program. The coronavirus bill would put $720 million into that program…[More examples at the link]
    […]

    House Democrats, however, made clear that they do not support the Pentagon spending in the Senate GOP’s package.

    “While doing nothing to address food security or provide payroll protection for state and local workers in critical jobs, Senate Republicans have instead splurged on weapons systems,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.). “Amphibious ships don’t feed hungry children, and the Senate Republican bill doesn’t meet the desperate needs of the American people.”

  95. blf says

    Teh policegoons are upset because Milwaukee won’t let them deploy gas chambers, Police agencies withdraw from convention duty over tear gas rules:

    Departments that pledged to send officers to help with security during Democratic convention withdraw those offers.

    More than 100 United States police agencies are withdrawing from agreements to send personnel to bolster security at next month’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in part because they are concerned about a recent directive ordering police in the city to stop using tear gas to control crowds.

    A citizen oversight commission last week directed Milwaukee’s police chief to publicly account for why the department used tear gas during protests in late May and early June after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and to change Milwaukee’s police policies to ban the use of tear gas and pepper spray. The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission said in its order that Police Chief Alfonso Morales could be fired if he fails to comply.

    […]

    Since the Milwaukee order was issued, more than 100 law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin and across the US decided against coming to Milwaukee, Morales told WTMJ-TV on Tuesday. They were concerned with directives placed on the police department, including not allowing tear gas or pepper spray, he said.

    […]

    Our concern is that in the event protests turn non-peaceful, such a policy would remove tools from officers that may otherwise be legal and justifiable to utilise in specific situations, West Allis[, Wisconsin] Deputy Chief Robert Fletcher told the Journal Sentinel in an email.

    […]

  96. blf says

    US teacher’s union backs strikes to ensure schools reopen safely:

    […]
    One of the largest United States teachers’ union is authorising its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic.

    The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans. The group says school buildings should open only in areas where coronavirus infections are low enough and if schools enact certain safety measures.

    […]

    The union’s resolution lays out conditions the group wants met for schools to reopen. It said schools must require masks, promote social distancing and update ventilation systems, among other measures.

    It also said schools should reopen only in areas with infection rates below 5 percent and transmission rates below 1 percent, and only if local officials have taken steps to trace and isolate cases.

    For many schools, more funding will be needed to reopen safely, the group said. It estimated the average school would need at least $1.2m, amounting to $116bn nationwide. The resolution said Trump and Senate Republicans have “have failed to negotiate and pass a new stimulus bill to address the resources vitally needed for reopening our schools”.

    The latest stimulus proposal from the White House and Senate Republicans includes $105bn for schools and colleges, though some of the money is only for schools that reopen for in-person classes. In May, the Democratic-led House included $100bn for schools — none of it limited to those holding on-site classes — but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said even more money is needed.

    In her speech, Weingarten said teachers want schools to reopen. Children need in-person instruction, she said, adding that remote instruction is “no substitute for it”. But she said teachers needed to know they would be kept safe.

    […]

    Along with strikes, the union said it would fight unsafe reopening plans through lawsuits and labour grievances. The union’s Florida chapter filed a lawsuit last week attempting to block the state’s plan to reopen schools, which the suit called “reckless and unsafe”.

  97. says

    NBC – “Dark money and PAC’s coordinated ‘reopen’ push are behind doctors’ viral hydroxychloroquine video”:

    A dozen doctors delivered speeches in front of the U.S. Capitol on Monday to a small crowd, claiming without evidence that the coronavirus could be cured and that widely accepted efforts to slow its spread were unnecessary and dangerous.

    It was the latest video to go viral from apparent experts, quietly backed by dark money political organizations, evangelizing treatments for or opinions about the coronavirus that most doctors, public health officials and epidemiologists have roundly decried as dangerous misinformation.

    Donald Trump Jr. was left unable to tweet for 12 hours on Tuesday morning after Twitter took punitive action on his account for tweeting the video. “This is a must watch!!! So different from the narrative everyone is running with!” Trump Jr. tweeted at 8:13 p.m. on Tuesday. Twitter’s press account tweeted that Trump Jr.’s tweet broke the social media company’s policy of “sharing misinformation on COVID-19.”

    “We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement to NBC News. Stone also noted that Facebook is directing users who have interacted with content that has been removed to a World Health Organization website debunking COVID-19-related misinformation.

    YouTube and Twitter followed Facebook, removing the video as it racked up thousands of views.

    President Donald Trump also retweeted a clip of the video late Tuesday. The tweet was later deleted, and no action was taken against his account.

    Dressed in white coats with “America’s Frontline Doctors” stitched on the chest, the stars of the Facebook video claimed that business and school closings, social distancing and even masks were not needed, because hydroxychloroquine, a drug commonly used to treat malaria, could both prevent and cure the coronavirus….

    “We don’t need masks. There is a cure!” said Dr. Stella Immanuel, a licensed pediatrician from Houston. In one of the event’s most fiery speeches, Immanuel, who claims to have effectively treated 350 COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine out of her medical clinic, but declined to provide data, referred to doctors who declined to treat patients with hydroxychloroquine as “good Nazis” and “fake doctors,” and called published research “fake science.”

    That Monday’s so-called news conference had more speakers than attendees was of little matter. Livestreamed by the far-right website Breitbart News, the video spread quickly, initially through conservative, anti-vaccination and government conspiracy groups. Within hours, it had reached over 20 million Facebook users.

    The event was hosted and funded by the Tea Party Patriots, a right-wing political nonprofit group led by Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s co-founder, who spoke at the news conference.

    The group, which collects funds through two nonprofit groups and a political action committee, has raised over $24 million since 2014 to support Republican causes and candidates.

    Tea Party Patriots have been critical of measures enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Before America’s Frontline Doctors, the group launched the Second Opinion Project, a website that hosted videos of doctors attacking state and local coronavirus efforts.

    Videos from supposed experts bucking public health consensus have been a recurring brand of misinformation during the pandemic. In April, viral videos were eventually removed from Facebook and YouTube of two doctors in Bakersfield, California, downplaying the risk of the coronavirus and spreading a conspiracy theory about doctors purposefully misattributing unrelated deaths to the coronavirus. Dan Erickson, one of the two doctors in the clip, spoke at Monday’s news conference.

    In May, a “Plandemic” video from a discredited scientist promoting conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, drew 8 million views before it was removed.

    America’s Frontline Doctors is led by a group of 10 doctors of varying specialties, according to its website, which was registered two weeks ago. The group’s leader, Dr. Simone Gold, is a “concierge immediate-needs physician,” who offers private medical consultations, according to an archive of her recently deleted professional website.

    Along with America’s Frontline Doctors, Gold has been the face of two other contrary medical websites registered since the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S., thegoldopinion[dot]com, and adoctoraday[dot]com, which publishes videos of doctors criticizing state government and public health responses to the disease. Gold was also the first of over 400 doctors to sign a letter to the president in May warning that state lockdown efforts would lead to “millions of casualties.”

    In recent months, Gold has been a fixture on conservative media and at protests and rallies calling on reopening, and was on the panel that recommended that the Orange County Board of Education reopen schools without masks or distancing.

    In April, she made several videos answering questions about COVID-19 while standing outside of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, wearing a white lab coat emblazoned with “Emergency Dept.” In a tweet, Cedars-Sinai said Gold was not on its staff or affiliated in any way with the hospital.

    The group’s other members also include doctors seen at recent reopen protests and rallies, often organized by anti-vaccine activists. Dr. Jeff Barke has been a fixture of such rallies since April, where he’s made several misleading and inaccurate claims, according to PolitiFact.

    Immanuel has been a vocal supporter of Trump on social media since 2016, and used Facebook and Twitter to spread conspiracy theories,…

    The Associated Press reported in May that CNP Action discussed recruiting doctors who were willing to push narratives about reopening the economy before safety benchmarks were met in a May 11 phone call.

    CNP Action is part of an alliance of conservative think tanks called the Save Our Country Coalition, which previously hosted viral “Liberate” Facebook events in April, urging protesters to rally in states that had adopted social distancing restrictions.

    I linked to the AP report at the time in May: “GOP fronts ‘pro-Trump’ doctors to prescribe rapid reopening.”

  98. blf says

    The Babylon Bee:

    ● Portland Police Raise Millions By Letting Citizens Throw Tear Gas At Antifa For $5 A Pop:

    Facing massive budget cuts, the Portland Police Bureau has come up with an exciting new way to fund their department. Upstanding citizens can now pay 5 dollars to throw tear gas at communist protesters. People from across the country are lining up to live their lifelong dreams of blasting dirty commies with tear gas.

    “Getting bathed in tear gas is the closest my son Fidel has been to taking a shower in weeks,” said a local Portland mom after paying her five bucks and chucking a canister at the crowd. “I’m hoping our basement will smell a little better now. I used to think that all police were evil fascists, but my time gassing commies has opened my eyes. That was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Thanks, Portland Police!”

    […]

    ● Trump Installs Ejection Seats Throughout Press Briefing Room:

    Trump excitedly unveiled his latest improvements to the White House Press Briefing Room at Monday night’s press conference: ejection seats.

    Controlled by a panel on Trump’s podium, the ejection seats allow him to instantly send any White House reporter on a free trip to somewhere a few hundred yards down Pennsylvania Avenue. Any journalist parroting Chinese propaganda, insulting the president, or asking a question without referring to Trump as “His Majesty Donald Trump May He Live Forever” is likely to get a free flight courtesy of the White House.

    “Mr President, why do you hate AmericaaaaaaaaAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” screamed one reporter as Trump solemnly pressed a button and sent her rocketing through the roof. Stunned journalists stared in shock at their colleague soaring hundreds of feet into the air. They were speechless, which was a “welcome change” according to sources.

    […]

    Perhaps not as good as the Onion, but still a few giggles.

  99. says

    Guardian (support the Guardian if you can!) – “Caetano Veloso: ‘Bolsonaro is so confused, so incompetent'”:

    Half a century has passed since agents of the Brazilian dictatorship appeared on the doorstep of the music legend Caetano Veloso and announced: “You’d better bring your toothbrush.”

    Six months of detention and confinement later he was forced into European exile, spending the next two and a half years as a resident of Chelsea, West Kensington and Golders Green, where he would rehearse what remains his most celebrated album, Transa, in the vestry of a local church.

    Fifty years later the composer, now 77, is again perturbed by the intolerant political winds sweeping his native land – although this time he has a front-row seat to the turbulence from his seaside home in Rio.

    Brazil, which emerged from two decades of dictatorship in the mid-1980s, is governed by Jair Bolsonaro, a democratically elected but openly anti-democratic former paratrooper who has packed his administration with military figures and reveres the generals who banished artists and intellectuals such as Veloso from Brazilian soil.

    In recent months hardcore Bolsonaro supporters have hit the streets with banners calling for the closure of Congress and the reintroduction of the dictatorship-era decree that paved the way for Veloso’s exile – with the president himself attending several of the rallies.

    “An utter nightmare. It’s just madness,” the musician said of the rightwing “fanatics” demanding the return of military rule, with Bolsonaro at the helm.

    “Having a military government is awful and Bolsonaro is so confused, so incompetent. His government has done nothing,” Veloso complained. “What has the Brazilian executive done in the period since he’s been president? Nothing … There’s been no government – just a racket of insanities.”

    For all the differences between Brazil’s democratic present and dictatorial past, there are disturbing echoes of Brazil’s current political panorama in Veloso’s experience of exile.

    “I’d say: ‘No, the dictatorship isn’t Brazil!’ But of course we knew that the dictatorship was a symptom of Brazil, an expression of Brazil – and that was what Brazil was being at that moment, just as it’s being a whole bunch of things today that aren’t easy for us to swallow,” Veloso said.

    “You can’t say that Bolsonaro isn’t Brazil,” he added. “He’s very much like many Brazilians I know. He’s very similar to the average Brazilian – in fact, the ability of him and his bunch to stay in power depends on stressing this identification with the ‘normal’ Brazilian.”

    For all Bolsonaro’s popular appeal – polls suggest that despite his calamitous response to coronavirus he retains the support of about 30% of Brazilians – Veloso described his administration as a disaster and a danger to democracy.

    “There’s something rather farcical about it – but you know that the European experiences of the 20th century, in Italy and Germany, teach us that lots of things that seem farcical – and indeed are – can also have really tragic results that last for a long time, for many people,” said the artist, who has thrown his weight behind a series of recent initiatives and manifestos denouncing Bolsonaro’s attacks on education, culture and the environment.

    Like other rightwing populists in the US, Hungary, Poland and Britain, Veloso said Bolsonaro proposed “suspiciously easy solutions to complex problems”. (“‘Bolsonaro will sort everything out! Bolsonaro’s the solution!’ … That’s why he got so many votes!”)

    But since taking power in January 2019 the nationalist had achieved nothing, Veloso said.

    “What we’ve seen has been more about destruction,” he said. “Everything that’s been done in the Amazon has been to encourage deforestation; everything that’s been done in the cultural sphere has been about dismantling … museums, theatre groups, makers of music and film.”

    Meanwhile, nearly 90,000 Brazilians had lost their lives to a pandemic critics accuse Bolsonaro of catastrophically mishandling, with the help of an interim health minister who is an active-duty army general.

    Veloso admitted he was afraid of falling ill or dying because of Covid-19, and had been sheltering at home in the company of his wife and son, the books of the Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo and classic films by the likes of Glauber Rocha, Hitchcock and Antonioni.

    “I’m a very curious person, and I don’t want to miss out on seeing how this will play out – because this will unravel somehow,” he said of Brazil’s current political bind.

    But he feared Brazilians “would have to suffer greatly because of all these backwards steps” under Bolsonaro and saw the risk of “great violence” being sparked by the political tension between the president and his hardcore supporters and their opponents.

    “I fear these people won’t want to let go of power so easily,” he said of Bolsonaro’s “ultra-reactionary bunch”.

    But the musician, who has continued to compose during his five-month quarantine, said there was also a convenience to pessimism and insisted he remained “scandalously optimistic” about Brazil’s future. Perhaps being subjected to “an affliction like Bolsonaro” was the price Brazil had to pay in order to fulfil its enormous potential.

    As its young democracy faced perhaps its greatest test since being reconquered 35 years ago, Veloso clung to childhood memories of a “sweet Brazil” in Santo Amaro, the culturally rich north-eastern town where he grew up steeped in Brazilian customs, patriotism and tradition.

    “If I was sitting in front of a foreigner who was interested in Brazil … I’d tell them: ‘Brazil is here, right here,” the composer said, smiling.

    “Our forests, our songs, our plays and our films … are being threatened by this government – and are in the process of being destroyed. But, as one of the members of the group that produces popular music, I can assure you we are here – Brazil is here.”

    More at the link.

  100. blf says

    SC@151, “Ambassador to Iceland doing a bang up job.”
    That would be dermatologist and thug donor Jeffrey Gunter — see @129. He’s a paranoid kook.

  101. says

    RFE/RL – “YouTube Blocks Accounts Of Pro-Kremlin Analyst, Orthodox TV Channel In Russia”:

    YouTube has blocked accounts of the Tsargrad TV channel in Russia and its former chief editor, pro-Kremlin analyst Aleksandr Dugin.

    Representatives of Google, which owns YouTube, said on July 28 that the accounts were blocked due to the violation of laws on sanctions and trade regulations.

    The account of the TV channel, which has more than one million subscribers and positions itself as an outlet for conservative Orthodox Christians, was disabled without the right to restore, Google said.

    The founder and owner of the Tsargrad TV channel, Konstantin Malofeyev has been under U.S. sanctions for about six years over his participation in the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russia in 2014 and his public support for Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east, where some 13,200 have been killed in an ongoing conflict.

    The TV channel’s editor, Daria Tokareva, said YouTube blocked the channel’s account without warning, adding that the company will fight in court to restore the account.

    Earlier in May, Facebook cited U.S. sanctions when it blocked the Instagram accounts of the head of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, a Russian lawmaker from Chechnya Adam Delimkhanov, the speaker of the Chechen parliament Magomed Daudov, and the deputy prime minister of the Chechen government Abuzaid Vismuradov.

  102. says

    Slate – “The Republicans Have Written a Pro-Virus Bill”:

    …Now, with 151,000 dead, the economy in tatters, and unemployment benefits for millions about to officially expire, Republicans have finally introduced their last-minute stab at a new relief bill. And what would it do? Despite its name, the HEALS Act largely aims to help businesses reopen and nudge people back to work, whether or not we have successfully curtailed the coronavirus’s spread….

    In ways large and small, the bill is designed to herd people back to work. It slashes unemployment benefits. It gives companies liability protections, so they don’t have to worry about lawsuits if they want to call back staff. It includes a new round of small-business subsidies that are mostly designed for outfits that stay open, whether or not it’s a good idea for public health. It encourages more people to eat out (and more restaurants to open their dining rooms) by letting companies fully expense business meals. Barron’s economics writer Matthew C. Klein joked Monday that it was effectively a “pro-virus tax plan.” But really, you could say the same of the whole economic side of the GOP’s proposal. The legislation is so pathogen-friendly it reads like it was brought to us by the lobbyists at Big COVID.

    To be fair, McConnell & Co. haven’t quite gone full death cult on us. Their legislation does include a number of measures designed to actually combat the virus, which is nice, since it means that Democrats don’t have to spend time bargaining for those. There’s money to protect nursing homes, increase testing so that people don’t need to wait a week for results, and build out contact tracing (which hasn’t gone well so far); it also provides tax credits for businesses that want to make themselves a little more sanitary for employees and customers.

    On the other hand, Republicans have also decided to use education funding as a cudgel to force schools to physically reopen, whether it seems prudent or not, since that will make it easier for parents to go back to work. As Israel has shown, sending kids back to class too quickly could easily fuel another resurgence of the virus.

    The fundamental problem with the bill is that conservatives are still laboring under the delusion that we can quell the pandemic while simultaneously going back to some semblance of our old lives… Our entire experience so far suggests that’s really not possible. There are simply too many spaces—offices, indoor bars and restaurants, theaters, gyms, nightclubs, and, in some places, schools—that probably cannot open safely. The sensible approach would be to pay to keep those places closed and to support people who can’t work as a result, both for their sake and for the wider economy’s. The frustrating reality is that we failed to quash this virus when we had a real chance in the spring, and the country doesn’t seem to have the appetite for another full lockdown—and so our only option is to muddle through until there’s a vaccine. We can pay money, and be patient, to do that somewhat safely. Or we can rush back into another disaster. Right now, the GOP is pushing us toward the latter.

  103. johnson catman says

    re SC @156: Change “Communists” to “Republicans” and delete the “always”, and you can say that Pompeo’s statement is accurate.

  104. says

    Essentially, what @EsperDoD and Gen. Hyten announced at the Pentagon today was a conviction to start planning pulling 12K US troops out of Germany. There’s no budget, no dates, few details, lots of diplomacy to do. This isn’t happening before November.”

    An alternative to this slowrolling would be to get someone on Trump’s TV or Twitter feed to say it’s been done. He’d believe it, and couldn’t care less whether it’s actually happened in any event.

  105. says

    MSNBC last night – “Neal Katyal On A.G. Barr’s Testimony About Affordable Care Act”:

    Neal Katyal tells Lawrence O’Donnell that Attorney General Barr’s testimony that he would not reverse his challenge to the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic is a “total dereliction of principle” and criticizes Barr for invoking his own children: “How dare he analogize his two children to the millions of Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck with pre-existing conditions.”

    He points out that Barr has $20 million.

  106. says

    Carrie Cordero:

    An as yet unremarked upon aspect of AG Barr’s testimony:

    Politics aside, and even when given the chance to respond, he was deeply unimpressive on substance….

    …he failed to give even the most basic of explanations of surveillance related legal authorities in response to a question from Rep Lofgren…

    …his response to Rep Cicillinne on whether a president can accept foreign assistance in a campaign was unnecessarily confused and inadequate…

    …his purported lack of knowledge of the potential legal relevance of the president’s tweets about the Stone case was either unbelievable or negligent, given his involvement in the case, in response to questioning from Rep Swalwell…

    …and his command of facts regarding the matters about which he was called to testify – including the facts surrounding the events in Lafayette Square – were underwhelming…

    …I came away unsuprised at his political defense of the president and himself, but stumped, really, that he’s had such a successful – by the measures of the legal profession – career, and yet, was really, by any objective measure of an Attorney General, weak.

  107. says

    Gohmert is 66. Herman Cain, who is 74, has been in the hospital, likely on a ventilator, for a month now after appearing at Trump’s Tulsa rally (see #69 above).

  108. says

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

    From there:

    A government minister in Bosnia has died after contracting Covid-19, state television channel BHRT reported (via AFP).

    Salko Bukvarevic, 53, held the cabinet post of minister for veterans’ affairs in Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat entity, one of the country’s two main administrative regions.

    He had been hospitalised for health complications from the virus and was placed Monday on assisted ventilation, Sarajevo University clinic told BHRT.

    The Balkan country of 3.5 million has reported around 11,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 300 fatalities.

    It has faced a rampant resurgence of infections, with nearly 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest infection rates in Europe, the World Health Organization warned last week.

    Fadil Novalic, 61, the prime minister of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat federation, also suffered from an infection but has recovered and was released from the hospital last weekend.

  109. says

    Good news – Oregon governor Kate Brown:

    After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland.

    Our local Oregon State Police officers will be downtown to protect Oregonians’ right to free speech and keep the peace. Let’s center the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands for racial justice and police accountability. It’s time for bold action to reform police practices.

    Trump was talking like this an hour ago.

  110. tomh says

    Aah, Texas.

    Schools risk losing Texas funding if they shutter under local health orders
    By Melissa B. Taboada
    Posted Jul 28, 2020

    Local health authorities can’t force schools to shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but such decisions should be left to the leaders of public and private schools, according to new guidance by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

    Local health authorities across the state, including in Travis County, have issued orders that would delay the start of in-person instruction of school. Earlier this month, the Texas Education Agency softened its stance on in-person instruction mandates, defaulting to health authorities that issued orders to keep school doors closed and creating guidelines that said school districts would remain fully funded by offering remote instruction so long as such local mandates were in place.

    But Paxton’s guidance prompted the Texas Education Agency on Tuesday to rescind those rules…

    Paxton, in a letter said, “nothing in the law gives health authorities the power to indiscriminately close schools — public or private — as these local orders claim to do.”

  111. says

    TPM – “From Masking Naysayer to COVID Victim: The Louie Gohmert Story”:

    With the news that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has been diagnosed with COVID-19, it’s worth looking back at the congressman’s stance on the virus in recent months.

    The congressman, who’s become known on Capitol Hill for often refusing to follow public health experts’ guidance to wear a mask, said in June that he’d mask up in the event that he got sick.

    Given that masks are meant to protect against asymptomatic people spreading the virus, the comment was just one in a long line of bizarre or wrong statements about the virus from the Texas lawmaker.

    Here’s a look back through the congressman’s greatest hits….

  112. blf says

    Stoopid son of hair furor, number whichever, well, continues… Donald Trump Jr tries to tidy up his book Liberal Privilege’s grammar:

    […]
    Trump Jr’s Liberal Privilege, due out on 25 August, was initially subtitled Joe Biden and the Democrat’s Defense of the Indefensible. But after it was pointed out that this would generally refer to only one Democrat, […] the US president’s [sic] son has reissued images of his book cover with the new subtitle the Democrats’ Defense of the Indefensible.

    However, Trump Jr’s grasp of apostrophes still appears uncertain: announcing that the book was now available for pre-order, he wrote on Twitter, Sleepy Joe wont (sic) like this one. But lets (sic) be honest he probably doesn’t keep up with current events.

    Trump Jr’s website promises the book will reveal the facts the media refuses to cover, including countless liberal scandals, years of entrenched racism in the democrat [sic] party and decades of failed polices.

    It is assumed that “polices” actually refers to “policies”, rather than being an unusual plural for police.

    I continue to speculate that, in addition to being stoopid with poor factchecking skills, another reason for the original error was the faulty back-formation “Republicans are members of the Republican Party, so Democrats are members of the Democrat party”. His use of democrat party in the above excerpt (which the Grauniad did not pick up on), tends to confirm. That faulty reasoning — or more accurately, the wrong name — seems to be very common with thugs.

  113. tomh says

    Not quite as clear cut as Kate Brown’s statement makes it. Statement from DHS.

    Acting Secretary Wolf’s Statement on Oregon Agreeing to Cooperate in Quelling Portland Violence
    Release Date: July 29, 2020

    FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS WILL CONTINUE THEIR MISSION

    Over the past 24 hours, Governor Brown and I have been in regular communication and have agreed to a joint plan to end the violent activity in Portland directed at federal properties and law enforcement officers. That plan includes a robust presence of Oregon State Police in downtown Portland. State and local law enforcement will begin securing properties and streets, especially those surrounding federal properties, that have been under nightly attack for the past two months. Oregon State Police will coordinate with Federal Protective Service (FPS) officers to ensure all federal facilities remain protected and secure.

    This plan is possible due to the valiant efforts of the DHS law enforcement officers protecting federal property in Portland from violent activity for the past two months.

    The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked and that the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure. This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began.

    More blather and “Praise Trump” at the link.

  114. says

    PLAYBOOK PM: After we reported that @replouiegohmert was positive, we got an email from a Gohmert aide….”

    Email atl. It reads:

    JAKE, THANK YOU for letting our office know Louie tested positive for the Coronavirus. When you write your story, can you include the fact that Louie requires full staff to be in the office, including three interns, so that ‘we could be an example to America on how to open up safely.’ When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks.

    After testing positive, he went to his office.

  115. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC @179, Kodak will not be producing generic drugs per se, as the API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) market is tough to get into with large quality assurance issues (ICH guidelines). Kodak wants to manufacture starting materials for generic API’s as items of commerce, with far less regulatory issues, and they can be used if it passes the specifications and testing of the API manufacturer. Some of these starting materials are in short supply world-wide, including some used in the manufacture of HCQ. Hence the push by the rethugs.

    Personally, the market for HCQ is going to fall drastically within a year, and Kodak sales of the starting material will plummet to nothing as they can’t compete on price with China and India.

  116. says

    Jake Sherman:

    Ever since PM came out, Ive gotten a flood of emails from republican staffers who say they too are being forced to come to the hill without a mask now.

    If you’re one of those people, email me or dm me.

  117. Pierce R. Butler says

    blf @ # 176: … the wrong name … seems to be very common with thugs.

    It goes way back, but the notorious Sen. Joe McCarthy seems to have started its systematic and deliberate misuse. He inspired a lot of other now-routine Republican sleaze as well.

  118. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog (yes, really, albeit this seems more like an item for the States-specific raving plague-carrying loons blog):

    US president [sic] Donald Trump has defended his push to use a coronavirus relief package to fund a new FBI headquarters near his Washington hotel despite opposition from fellow Republicans, citing his background as a real estate developer.

    […]

    Trump at first did not directly answer a question about whether he would drop his demand for $1.8bn to fund a new FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, one block from Trump International Hotel. He later said the provision should stay.

    He told reporters at the White House: Republicans should go back to school and learn. I’m very good at real estate.

  119. blf says

    SC@190, Without checking any numbers, whole countries have fewer active cases than the Martins. (New Zealand and Iceland both come to mind.)

  120. blf says

    Netanyahu rattled by Last Supper sculpture in Tel Aviv square:

    […]
    A sprawling sculpture of Benjamin Netanyahu gorging on a giant frosted cake, Moët champagne and pink macaroons has irked the Israeli leader, who suggested the Last Supper-inspired artwork was the equivalent of a death threat.

    […]

    Displayed in Rabin Square, the focal point of the city’s demonstrations, the installation depicts Netanyahu alone at a 10-metre long table, surrounded by candles and a medieval feast of fruits and pastries.

    While inspired by the 15th-century Leonardo da Vinci mural, the spread includes pink champagne and cigars, a nod to the corruption allegations. One of three cases against him alleges that his family received luxury gifts from two wealthy businessmen. Netanyahu denies all wrongdoing.

    On Wednesday, [he asserted] the mock tableau of Jesus’ final meal before his killing was the equivalent of a death threat, as it implied he was heading for the same fate.

    There is no room for incitement and threats of murder […] against me and my family, including the shameful threat of crucifixion today in Tel Aviv, he said on Twitter.

    However, the artist, Itay Zalait, said the fake banquet was instead meant to symbolise the last supper for democratic freedoms for Israelis.

    “You have the prime minister of Israel sitting in the centre of the table and grabbing and sucking all this rich food to himself,” Zalait told the Associated Press. “Now he’s practically finished this meal, and he’s now at the stage of the dessert, which is referring to the last minutes of time we can do something to save Israeli democracy.”

    [… other eejits also losing whatever they have which tries to be a mind…]

    Image at the link.

  121. says

    ‘The answer to violence is 100,000 protesters on Saturday night’, say ⁦@TheBlackFlags1.”

    Background from Haaretz – “How Israel’s Far Right Went on the Attack Against anti-Bibi Protesters”:

    As the size and intensity of demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have grown, so has a new and disturbing phenomenon. Night after night, the most extreme forms of brutality and violence have come not from clashes with police, but groups of vigilante thugs roaming the streets and after the protests have ended.

    The violence reached its height in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening, following a demonstration in front of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s home, to protest police brutality and what they see as the minister’s attempts to subdue the growing protests against Netanyahu.

    Young men wielding bats, broken glass bottles and street signs stalked protesters – beating them, stabbing them, throwing objects and spraying mace at them.

    From video shot at the scene, the young attackers were visibly indistinguishable from the young protesters and appeared to have fully infiltrated the event. Some even carried black flags, a symbol of the protests, and then used them as weapons.

    According to demonstrators, police ignored their calls for help and only arrived at the scene later to break up the clashes. The attackers, whose identity is unknown and who pretended they are part of the anti-government protest, managed to flee the scene.

    One man was arrested for throwing a stone during the protest, but he was a part of the demonstrators. Only on Wednesday, after a wave of condemnations, including by Netanyahu himself, three were arrested for their role in the violence. Reports said the three are being represented by lawyer Itamar Ben-Gvir, a known Kahanist.

    On Wednesday evening, police finished investigating the three suspects. Two put themselves at the scene of the crime and the attack itself, but claimed that they did not plan it in advance. They said that they clashed with protesters, rather than committed a premeditated attack. The third suspect denied his presence at the scene and participation in the attack.

    The attacks on Tuesday recalled previous incidents following large-scale demonstrations in front of Netanyahu’s residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem and in other parts of the country….

    It was last Thursday – the first evening when attendance at the Jerusalem vigil ballooned into the thousands – that the first signs of an organized vigilante effort to assault protesters appeared.

    It was at this demonstration that the group known as La Familia – a notorious band of far-right, racist supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team – made its first appearance at the Jerusalem demonstrations.

    Haaretz reporter Moran Sharir, who covered the small pro-Netanyahu counterdemonstration, accompanied members of La Familia after the protest. He described their frustration at police efforts to keep them away from the main demonstrators and said they left, walking the streets of Jerusalem “to infiltrate the left-wing protest from behind.”

    He wrote: “Like sharks on the move, they wanted to advance, to hunt down prey on the street,” recounting how they cursed anyone who looked “like a leftist,” called women “[w—-s]” and beat up a fifty-something man they thought was carrying a Palestinian flag – though it was actually a Rastafarian one.

    Last Saturday night, following a still-larger demonstration outside Netanyahu’s Balfour Street home, the late-night scenes of violence were repeated….

    At a protest at the Aluf Hasadeh junction in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, a Netanyahu supporter – 34-year-old Eliran Kambitis – was detained for spraying mace at a protester, police reported. He told officers he had been motivated in part by incitement on social media.

    He was possibly referring to the recent rage-filled posts by Netanyahu’s supporters on Twitter and Facebook, railing against “traitorous” leftists and the threat they pose to the prime minister’s life. Such posts are often amplified by Netanyahu’s social media team and by his son, Yair, who has in the past been suspended from both platforms for posting hate speech.

    In a post published on the group’s official Facebook page on Tuesday, La Familia wrote that due to “the ongoing debasement of Jewish symbols and anything Jewish by the haters of Israel,” it will convene in Jerusalem. The post ends in a warning: “Watch out leftist wimps, the rules of the game are changing.”

    The involvement of La Familia also came in the week in which the public security minister was heard in a leaked audio file unloading his frustrations on the Jerusalem police and other officials, telling them in no uncertain terms they were failing to crack down on the escalating demonstrations in front of the prime minister’s official residence in the capital.

    The protesters were branded as “anarchists” and “leftists” by Ohana, the minister seemingly urging police to deal with them more “intensively and aggressively,” or ban the demonstrations entirely.

    While some of the protesters are indeed hard-core, anti-Netanyahu activists, a large number are young middle-class Israelis, economically devastated by the COVID-19 crisis and expressing their pain over receiving no assistance from the government.

    There is no evidence that all of the perpetrators of the violence against the anti-Netanyahu protesters are connected to La Familia. But the group’s links to politically driven violence beyond the soccer field is not new….

  122. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Brazil confirms over 70,000 coronavirus cases in new daily record

    Brazil set a daily record on Wednesday for both confirmed cases of Covid-19 and related deaths, with 70,074 new cases and 1,595 fatalities, health ministry data showed.

    Brazil has now registered more than 2.5 million confirmed cases of the virus and 90,134 deaths since the pandemic began.

  123. says

    As summarized by Steve Benen:

    It sure looks like South Carolina’s Republican governor fired these education officials for telling him what he didn’t want to hear: “A week after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged schools to reopen for in-person classes five days a week, board members for the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, who voted to hold virtual classes in the fall, were replaced.”

    Link to longer article from local South Carolina media.

  124. says

    From the New York Times:

    Why is the U.S. enduring a far more severe virus outbreak than any other rich country? There are multiple causes, but one of them is the size and strength of right-wing media organizations that frequently broadcast falsehoods. The result is confusion among many Americans about scientific facts that are widely accepted, across the political spectrum, in other countries.

  125. says

    About Trump’s latest pro-Putin statements:

    It’s been a little over a month since the New York Times first reported on U.S. intelligence pointing to Russia allegedly offering “bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.”

    […] many of the nation’s leading news agencies confirmed key elements of the story: U.S. intelligence agencies had reason to believe Vladimir Putin’s government offered financial rewards to those who killed American servicemen and women.

    Asked earlier this week whether he’d ever spoken with his Russian counterpart about the matter, Trump evaded, responding, “We don’t talk about what we discussed.” A day later, however, [Trump] was more forthcoming with “Axios on HBO.”

    In Tuesday’s interview, he was definitive: “I have never discussed it with [Putin].” Pressed on why he didn’t raise the matter in Thursday’s call, [Trump] said: “That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.”

    [Trump] added that the bounty intelligence “never reached my desk.” [Lie]

    […] He dismissed the controversy as “fake news,” despite the fact that top Pentagon leaders have conceded that there were, in fact, intelligence reports on the alleged bounties.

    […] while he insisted that the matter didn’t reach his desk, the intelligence was reportedly included in the President’s Daily Brief as far back as February — and when Swan specifically asked if he reads his daily intelligence briefing, Trump replied, “I do.”

    […] the bounty matter did reach the president’s desk, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

    In the same interview, Swan reminded Trump that retired Gen. John Nicholson, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said Russia has supplied weapons to the Taliban. Trump, seemingly eager to excuse the Kremlin’s policy, responded, “Well, we supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too. You know, when they were fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan.” [whataboutism]

    […] The implication wasn’t subtle: [Trump] seems ready to excuse Russia extending military support to the Taliban […].

    Trump proceeded to question whether Moscow is actually supporting the Taliban, adding once again, “It’s never reached my desk…. Russia doesn’t want anything to do with Afghanistan.”

    If Vladimir Putin had literally scripted Trump’s answers to these questions, would they have been any different?

    I can answer that: No.

    Link

  126. says

    OMFG.

    Officials contradict Trump claims about military, vaccine distribution

    Trump insists a process has “been fully set up” in which military officials will help distribute an eventual vaccine. No one knows what he’s talking about.

    By all accounts, it’ll be a while before a COVID-19 vaccine is ready for the public. But once it’s been tested and deemed safe, a new challenge will emerge: how will it be distributed across a large country like the United States?

    Unprompted, Donald Trump brought this up during a press briefing yesterday, insisting that a vaccine could be ready “very, very soon” — wishful thinking, to be sure — at which point the president expects to ramp up production to 500 million fairly quickly. As for distribution, the Republican added, “[L]ogistically, we’re using our military, our great military — a group of people, their whole life is based around logistics and bringing things to and from locations — and they’ll be able to take care of this locationally and bringing it where it has to go very, very quickly. They’re all mobilized. It’s been fully set up.”

    At face value, this sounded quite encouraging. There are, however, a couple of problems with this, starting with the apparent fact that no one in the Trump administration knows what the president’s talking about. McClatchy News reported overnight:

    It is unlikely the military will be involved, either in the distribution of a vaccine or in deciding who gets those precious initial deliveries, officials from both the White House and Defense Department said. Two defense officials told McClatchy on the condition they not be identified that the military commands most likely to have a stake in establishing a delivery strategy — including U.S. Northern Command, which is responsible for homeland defense, or the U.S. National Guard — had not been asked to plan or prepare for distribution.

    […] The Department of Health and Human Services further suggested that the military may not be involved at all.

    Naturally, this raises some awkward questions, starting with the fact that Trump appeared in the White House press briefing room, and assured reporters and the public that military officials are “all mobilized,” and the process has “been fully set up.”

    Does Trump actually believe that? If so, why? Is this another one of those instances in which the president wants something to be true, so he simply asserted that it is true?

  127. says

    The Census Bureau was not involved. Trump wants the 2020 census count used/abused in ways that will give white rural voters an advantage when it comes to elections. The Census Bureau had nothing to do with Trump’s anti-democratic policy.

    […] Asked at a House hearing whether he or other Census Bureau officials provided input on the policy, Director Steve Dillingham said he “certainly” did not, nor was he aware of anyone else at the bureau contributing to it.

    [caveat] In June the White House installed two new political appointees at the bureau — an extraordinary move given that there are usually only only four or five political appointees at the bureau total.

    Dillingham said he couldn’t speak to their actions prior to them joining the bureau. [consulting with Trump, no doubt]

    The two appointees, Nathaniel Cogley and Adam Korzeniewski, who were at the Commerce Department prior to the shift, have questionable backgrounds for their current senior bureau roles [Their questionable backgrounds include a lot of] very partisan activity.

    […] Trump last week ordered the bureau to remove undocumented immigrants from the count from the 2020 census that will be used to determine how many House seats each state gets. That will decrease the amount of congressional representation in diverse, immigrant-rich states get and increase the representation for the whiter, more rural parts of the country.

    […] the Census Bureau will have to use existing government records to determine the number of undocumented immigrants in each state. [Is that even feasible?]

    Earlier in the hearing, former Census Bureau directors testified they were concerned that the extra work being imposed on the bureau was jeopardizing the accuracy of the count, particularly as the bureau also faces major challenges with the pandemic.

    Dillingham […] only initially found out that the plan was in the works when it was publicly reported a few days prior to Trump’s announcement. […]

    Link

  128. tomh says

    3:50 p.m.
    Alabama candidate for U.S. Senate defies D.C. quarantine orders

    Alabama Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (R) is in Washington, D.C., for fundraising events and face-to-face meetings following his primary victory last week over former attorney general Jeff Sessions. Tuberville spent at least some of his time in the District at the Trump International Hotel, according to a photo posted to Facebook by Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman (R) showing the two men in the hotel lobby. In the photo, neither man is wearing a mask.

    Alabama is among the states identified by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser as a coronavirus hotspot, and any visitors from there are expected to self-quarantine for 14 days. Alabama’s coronavirus cases are surging, with more than 25 percent of the state’s cases being confirmed in the last two weeks.

    After Tuberville’s win last week, Heather Kendrick, president of D.C.-based GOP fundraising operation High Cotton Consulting, emailed contacts offering an in-person meeting with the candidate while he was in town from early afternoon Tuesday through Thursday.

    “We are accepting in-person meetings during that time frame. Let me know if you and your group are interested in sitting down with the NEXT Senator from Alabama just let me know and we will put you on the schedule,” Kendrick wrote, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

  129. says

    Ilhan Omar:

    Stop saying “we can’t afford” Homes for All, Green New Deal or Medicare for All.

    If we didn’t spend trillions on endless wars and tax breaks for millionaires, we could afford to house our homeless, care for our seniors, and save our planet.

    We suffer from greed, not scarcity.

  130. tomh says

    NBC:
    From ‘de-arrests’ to leaf blowers, Portland protesters find new ways to stand up to federal agents
    By Maura Barrett, David Douglas and Safia Samee Ali
    July 29, 2020

    “We came out here dressed in T-shirts and twirling Hula-Hoops and stuff, and they started gassing us, so we came back with respirators, and they started shooting us, so we came back with vests, and they started aiming for the head, so we started wearing helmets, and now they call us terrorists,” Mac Smiff, a local Black organizer in Portland, said. “Who’s escalating this? It’s not us.”

    Protests in Portland have been going on for two months, but the situation intensified when federal agents — from the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Marshals Service — were deployed to the city beginning the weekend of July 4.

    Since that time, the agents have used tear gas, pepper spray and shot “less lethal” munitions, at times indiscriminately, into crowds. The city saw its largest turnout of the protests this past weekend, when upwards of 5,000 people gathered in front of and around the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, which has been heavily guarded by federal agents.
    […]

    At one point, Marine veteran and protester India Wynne thought it started raining in the middle of the night as they wore their gas mask. It turns out, it was the density of what appeared to be pepper spray from federal agents.
    […]

    Portland’s Bureau of Transportation filed a cease and desist order calling on federal agents to remove the fence Tuesday, alleging that it was put up illegally and that it impedes the city’s public right of way. The agency added that it has already begun assessing a maximum fine of $500 for every 15 minutes the fence obstructs the street, which has already totaled nearly $200,000 in penalties.
    […]

    As of Wednesday, at least 114 federal officers were known to be in the city per a court filing by the government.
    […]

    “I’m so tired of this. I am so tired. I’m sleep deprived because I am a single mom and I work full time and I have to come and spend my nights with you because I can’t stand in my own street and say, ‘Black lives matter,’” a woman, dressed in a signature yellow T-shirt with the Wall of Moms, said Monday night. “Black lives matter, that’s why we’re here. We’re not here because of some d– building. We don’t care about the building, we don’t care about your stupid fence, we care about Black lives.”

  131. says

    Chris Hayes just now: “The only way this administration can get away with breaking the Post Office is if they try to do it sneakily and behind the scenes. And we’re not going to let them.”

  132. says

    Ex-border agent: Special unit sent to Oregon among ‘most violent and racist in all law enforcement’

    The unidentified Customs and Border Protection (CBP) special tactical agents who’ve kidnapped at least two demonstrators right off the street in Portland, Oregon, are wholly untrained in how to properly deal with large demonstrations and a former senior Border Patrol agent turned whistleblower calls the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, or BORTAC, among “the most violent and racist in all law enforcement”.

    “Racism has plagued the institution for decades,” The Guardian reports. “Jenn Budd recalled that when she signed up for service in 1995 her Spanish instructor blithely informed her that Latino migrants were referenced within the agency as ‘tonks’ and ‘wetbacks.’” […] As recently as 2019, agents have pleaded guilty to assaulting migrants while on duty. One agent called migrants “disgusting subhuman shit unworthy of being kindling for a fire” in the weeks before he hit a Guatemalan man with his truck and then lied about it.

    “Local officials and other critics say the tactical unit, which is trained for high-risk missions and usually conducts operations along the border targeting smugglers and criminal organizations, shouldn’t be responding to a matter of civil dissent in a major city far from any national border,”[…]

    […] BORTAC is more than happy to do it, because like the impeached president, the unit’s agents view themselves as above the law—and act like it.

    “That strain of extra-judicial aggression runs through everything Bortac does, Budd said,” […] “[t]hey view people they encounter in the military sense as enemy combatants, meaning they have virtually no rights.” […] “They don’t do normal vehicle stops. They will rip drivers from their seat, throw him against the side, put him in handcuffs —the same tactics you are now seeing Bortac agents use in Portland.” […]

    Budd has written that Border Patrol in particular “has spent decades waiting quietly in the wings, stocking up on weapons and nearly tripling in size since 2001. Waiting for that moment when a president would see them for the heroes they believe themselves to be. Waiting for that moment when a president would fully activate these extraordinary powers to do his/her bidding. That moment is here.”

    […] “This agency is bloated, overfunded, and it operates with impunity.” […]

    “The difference here is, this time they implemented their tactics openly and under the protection of an authoritarian president,” she continued. “If this is what they do to mostly white U.S. citizens in front of the media, imagine what they are doing to people in their custody, to people who are seeking refuge in isolated parts of the border. Trump must be defeated in November. Trumpism must be defeated as well. […]

  133. says

    Satire/humor from Andy Borowitz:

    In a rare public statement by beings from another planet, a group of prominent aliens declared on Wednesday that having sex with them does not spread the coronavirus.

    In the statement, which the aliens published on Medium, the space creatures expressed concern that the dissemination of pseudoscience about sex with demons and alien DNA might cause some Earthlings to erroneously conclude that intimate relations with aliens were in some way a health risk.

    “We can assure you, based on years of research, that it is perfectly safe for Earthlings to have sex with aliens,” the aliens wrote. “In this, as in all matters, it’s important to follow the science.”

    The extraterrestrials added that the coronavirus pandemic had caused them to rethink their planned invasion of the planet Earth, which had been pencilled in for later this year.

    The aliens indicated that they would now limit their invasion to places like Canada and New Zealand, but would avoid the United States.

    New Yorker link

  134. tomh says

    Trump threatens National Guard mobilization in Portland
    By Jessica Wolfrom

    President Trump said Wednesday that he would send the National Guard into Portland if the violence doesn’t subside.

    The president’s remarks come as federal officials are preparing to pull out of the city and de-escalate the fevered tensions between police and protesters. Just hours earlier, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that the federal government had agreed to pull federal officers out of the city.

    “After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland,” Brown tweeted.

    But Trump took the podium at an energy conference in Midland, Tex., and redoubled his threats to activate the National Guard, calling the protesters anarchists.

    “And I told my people a little while ago, if they don’t solve that problem locally very soon, we’re going to send in the National Guard and get it solved very quickly, just like we did in Minneapolis and just like we will do in other places,” he said. “They want to solve their problem. They’ve got a very short time to do it. But they’ll either solve that problem or we’ll send in the National Guard.”

  135. says

    Here’s a link to the July 30 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The United Kingdom suffered the highest rate of excess deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic in a comparison of 21 European countries, an analysis from Britain’s statistics office showed on Thursday.

    Epidemiologists say excess mortality – deaths from all causes that exceed the five-year average for the time of year – is the best way of gauging deaths from a disease outbreak because it is internationally comparable.

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis confirmed the UK’s place as one of the countries worst hit by a pandemic that has killed more than 666,000 people worldwide.

    About 65,000 more people than usual have died from all causes across the United Kingdom so far this year, the highest total in Europe.

    Thursday’s figures showed the United Kingdom also had Europe’s highest excess death rate when adjusted for the size and age of its population. The ONS said the excess deaths were spread throughout the UK, in contrast to many European countries where they were concentrated in particular regions.

    Even so, England had a noticeably higher death rate than Scotland, which in turn had higher death rates than Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Spain recorded a higher peak of excess deaths but the slower decline of deaths in Britain following its own coronavirus peak made for a worse picture overall, the report – based on age-standardised data – showed.

    “This meant that by the end of May, England had seen the highest overall relative excess mortality out of all the European countries compared,” the ONS statistician Edward Morgan said….

  136. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #208
    Somebody down-thread mentioned that the curent POTUS would not be in attendance, because reasons. There followed an epically underrated reply:
    I thought he was throwing out the first eulogy!

  137. says

    From a Democracy Now! interview with Noam Chomsky last week:

    …And if there is defeat, he may just refuse to leave the White House, as he intimated on Fox News the other day, in which case you really have to ask: What happens next? Does the military move in and remove him? Or what happens when armed militias start surrounding the White House? We don’t know. This is a situation which has never arisen in a functioning democracy, apart from the fascist takeovers in Italy, Germany, some other countries, in the interwar period.

    Trump is sometimes, even by experts in the topic, called moving towards fascism. I think, frankly, that gives him much too much credit. Fascism was a serious ideology. I think it’s well beyond his ken or concern. This is more like a minor dictator in a kind of small country that’s subjected to military coups over the years. There’s no conception of introducing real fascist ideology. In fact, in some ways, we’re almost the opposite of it. The fascist systems were based on the principle that the powerful state, under the leadership of the ruling party and the maximal leader, should basically control everything. They should run and control the society, including the business community. We’re almost the opposite: It’s the business community controlling the government. And any infringement on their power would lead to a kind of confrontation that is almost unimaginable.

    So I don’t think it’s fascism. It’s essentially tin-pot dictatorship. And he’s desperate, will do anything, almost anything imaginable, to try to keep himself from being tossed out of the White House. How this will eventuate, we don’t know, but it’s going to be a very difficult couple of months ahead.

    In related news, “Breaking: The economy contracted at a record 32.9% annual rate last quarter and weekly jobless claims rose to 1.43 million amid signs of a slowing recovery”

    Shortly after this came out, Trump tweeted: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

    (This isn’t actually a thing he can do.)

  138. johnson catman says

    re SC @225:

    Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

    Not so subtle suggestion that the election should be cancelled and that he should remain in office. Tin-pot dictator indeed.

  139. johnson catman says

    re SC @228: I know that. It is written into the Constitution. But that won’t stop him from doing everything he can to make it more difficult to carry out a safe election. Or to suggest to his sycophants to do what they can to prevent people from getting their votes counted.

  140. says

    johnson catman @ #226, it’s really something that he’s resorting to his dictatorial posturing even when it’s completely empty and just makes him look weaker and more desperate.

  141. says

    But that won’t stop him from doing everything he can to make it more difficult to carry out a safe election. Or to suggest to his sycophants to do what they can to prevent people from getting their votes counted.

    Oh, he’s absolutely doing that. The Republicans should immediately (after agreeing on a bill to protect millions of people from utter destitution) head to the WH and demand his resignation. Of course, they won’t, but they should. Apologies if I initially read your first response as suggesting he could actually delay the election and remain in office.

  142. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The ruling African National Congress in South Africa is facing allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest linked to procurement of key medical supplies to fight Covid-19.

    South Africa is currently has 471,000 confirmed Covid infections, almost half those on the continent and one of the highest totals in the world. The disease has spread rapidly since the easing in early June of a strict lockdown, and now threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems.

    The spokesperson for the president Cyril Ramaphosa has now been forced to take leave of absence after reports that that her husband had won multimillion dollar government deals for the procurement of personal protective equipment, and the most senior elected health official in Gauteng, the most populous and richest province, has been suspended for four weeks pending the result of an investigation into improper award of similar contracts.

    David Makhura, the leader of Gauteng province, told journalists on Thursday that the allegations of graft “have profoundly eroded public confidence in the government … and undermined the work done by or health workers in the fight against Covid-19.”

    The ANC, in power since 1994, has struggled to maintain the goodwill of many South Africans during the pandemic.

    In a recent televised address, Ramaphosa pledged a crackdown on any corruption linked to the fight against Covid-19, saying that he was concerned by “instances where funds are stolen, where they are misused, where goods are overpriced, where food parcels are diverted from needy households, where there is corruption and mismanagement of public funds.”

    Many observers pointed out that there have been few investigations or convictions for corruption despite repeated allegations made against senior ANC officials for many years.

  143. says

    Last night- @JoeBiden suggested @realDonaldTrump may attempt to delay the general election.

    [link to report atl]

    This morning, the Trump Campaign is responding: ‘Those are the incoherent, conspiracy theory ramblings of a lost candidate who is out of touch with reality. President Trump has been clear that the election will happen on November 3rd’. – @TimMurtaugh Comms Director”

    This response from the campaign must have gone out just before Trump tweeted. Clownshow.

  144. says

    Josh Marshall on Herman Cain:

    I feared this was coming. Monthlong hospital stay was ominous. Remember that the timeline makes it quite likely Cain contracted COVID either at the President’s Tulsa rally or traveling back and forth to it. Appeared maskless there.

    It is incredibly sad and it is a microcosm of the loss already suffered by over 150,000 Americans and millions of their family members. My best wishes and prayers to his family, as indeed to all of our fellow citizens who have experienced this grief.

    I was just thinking this morning that Cain would likely die, and how preventable it was. I had been checking on his Twitter account over the past few weeks for updates on his condition. As was pointed out in the tweet @ #71 above, his employees were tweeting garbage under his name while he was in the hospital struggling to live. They tweeted about Portland – “If they’d enforced the law in the first place, DHS agents would never have shown up” – earlier this morning.

  145. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Florida records record rise in coronavirus deaths for third consecutive day

    Florida reported a record increase in new Covid-19 deaths for a third day in a row on Thursday, with 252 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the state health department.

    The state also reported 9,956 new cases, bringing its total infections to over 461,000, the second highest in the US behind California. Florida’s total death toll rose to 6,709, the eighth highest in the nation, according to a Reuters tally.

    Due to the surge in cases, the Miami-area school district, the nation’s fourth-largest district, said students would not return to classrooms when the new academic year begins in a few weeks.

    Florida was among six states on Wednesday that reported single-day records for coronavirus deaths. California, Idaho, North Carolina, Texas and South Dakota also had their biggest one-day increases in coronavirus fatalities since the pandemic started.

    California, Florida and Texas are the three most populous state and where about a quarter of all US residents live.

    One person in the United States died about every minute from Covid-19 on Wednesday as the national death toll surpassed 150,000, the highest in the world. Deaths are rising at the fastest rate since early June.

    Nationally, Covid-19 deaths have risen for three weeks in a row while the number of new cases week-over-week recently fell for the first time since June.

  146. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Brazil’s first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro, has tested positive for Covid-19, presidential officials have announced.

    ”She appears to be in good health and will follow all the existing protocols,” the presidential communication secretariat said in a statement, adding that she was being cared for by the president’s medical team.

    The diagnosis comes just over three weeks after Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, announced he had tested positive for the disease. He announced he had tested negative last Saturday and has returned to work after a period isolated in his official residence.

    Jair Bolsonaro has faced domestic and international condemnation for his handling for the coronavirus pandemic, which has now claimed more than 90,000 Brazilian lives – the second highest number in the world after the US.

    On Wednesday, Brazil suffered its highest daily death toll – 1,554 fatalities registered in a single day – and a record 70,869 new cases. Despite that much of the country is now reopening. On Wednesday it was also announced that foreigners would be allowed to enter Brazil through its airports for the first time since March.

  147. KG says

    The aliens indicated that they would now limit their invasion to places like Canada and New Zealand, but would avoid the United States. – Andy Borowitz quoted by Lynna, OM@220

    It has occurred to me that SARS-CoV-2 could act as a deterrent to invasion in some circumstances. For example, would China be keen to send the PLA into Hong Kong right now?

  148. KG says

    So Trump has, very probably, killed the co-chair of Black Voices for Trump by his callous stupidity. Perhaps Trump’s remaining black supporters should take note.

  149. tomh says

    Re SC @222

    Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation
    By John Lewis
    Mr. Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral.

    While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

    That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

    Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

    Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

    Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

    Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

    You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

    Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

    When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

  150. says

    Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation by John Lewis

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/opinion/john-lewis-civil-rights-america.html

    While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

    That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

    Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

    Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

    Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

    Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

    You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

    Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

    When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

  151. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Michael Flynn case to be reheard by full federal appeals court in D.C.
    By Ann E. Marimow
    July 30, 2020

    A federal appeals court in Washington will take a second look a judge’s effort to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed Thursday to revisit U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s plan to examine the politically charged matter, reviving the unusual case testing the limits of the judiciary’s power to check the executive branch.

    The court’s brief order set oral argument for August 11.

    The only reason the full court wouldn’t reverse the panel’s pathetic opinion by Trump appointee and defender, Judge Rao, would be cowardice. As it stands, the count is 7-4 favoring Democratic appointees on the court, so there’s a chance it will go forward.

  152. says

    Follow-up to comments 225, 226, 231 and 232.

    In recent months, prominent Trump campaign staffers rejected the idea that the president would seek a delay in the election over and over and over and over again. Funny, they’re saying far less this morning.

    See also: Despite US law, Trump raises specter of delaying election

    [Earlier, Trump said] “I never even thought of changing the date of the election. Why would I do that? November 3rd. It’s a good number. No, I look forward to that election.” Trump added that the very idea of him seeking an election delay was “just made-up propaganda.”

    Yeah, about that…

    […] Trump on Thursday questioned whether the 2020 presidential election should potentially be postponed, claiming it could be ripe for fraud.

    [snipped Trump’s tweet, which was posted in comment 225]

    Right off the bat, the context for this is highly relevant. I don’t generally subscribe to the idea that Trump is trying to distract from x by pushing y, but it’s quite likely he was watching television this morning, saw coverage of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, the U.S. coronavirus death toll topping 150,000, his team’s failure to negotiate a new economic aid package, and his woeful standing in polls that show him likely to lose.

    It was at this point that he likely started looking for ways to change the public conversation.

    With this in mind, I feel like I’m being baited into writing the blog post the flailing president wants me to write.

    So why am I doing it anyway? A few reasons.

    First, there are probably going to be some folks who hear about this and feel genuine concern about what Trump might try to get away with. Let’s make one thing clear: a president can’t change the date of an election. There is no legal mechanism in the United States that makes this even remotely possible. In the event of a genuine emergency, Congress has that authority, but there’s no reason to believe lawmakers would even consider such a change in the three months remaining before Election Day 2020.

    Second, while I’m not concerned about Trump delaying the election, I am concerned about him refusing to accept an electoral defeat, and tweets such as the one he published this morning — peddling a fraudulent claim about Americans planning to vote the same way he’s voting — may be part of an effort to lay the groundwork for dangerous political mischief in the fall.

    And third, if the president is genuinely concerned about the integrity of his country’s election process — a big “if,” to be sure — he could stop tweeting nonsense and start working on meaningful protections that would improve the existing system. Among Trump’s many options would be bolstering the U.S. Postal Service and endorsing pending legislation designed to prevent another round of foreign interference in our elections.

    Trump won’t take any such steps, of course, because by all appearances, he’s eager to undermine confidence in his own country’s system.

    The challenge now is for Republican leaders to step up and make clear that they won’t tolerate the president’s ongoing efforts and they’ll reject any White House push to delay the election. […]

  153. says

    Campaign news: CNN reported yesterday that Sen. Lindsey Graham’s re-election campaign released a Facebook ad this month “featuring a digitally altered image of his opponent — who is Black — with a darker skin tone.” This comes on the heels of Sen. David Perdue running an ad featuring a manipulated picture of his opponent — Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish — with an enlarged nose.

    Examples of Republicans exhibiting moral and ethical deficits while they campaign to lead our country.

  154. says

    Oh, FFS. The clown show is still clowning around:

    Less than a week after suggesting he’d accept the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in North Carolina, Trump said yesterday that he and his team are “thinking about” an acceptance speech at the White House. As a matter of American history, that would be a first.

    And that comes after saying he would be grandstanding in Jacksonville, Florida … and then cancelling that.

  155. says

    tomh @ #243 and Gabrielle @ #244, thank you so much. Beautiful.

    That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

    I’m so glad that he got to do this and that he lived to see this movement.

  156. tomh says

    On Trump and the election date, when Barr was asked on Tuesday, in front of the Judiciary Committee, if it was legal for a sitting president to change the date, he said, “I haven’t looked into that question, under the Constitution.”

    Someone really should have asked him whether he has ever read the Constitution, then read him the one sentence that settles it.

  157. says

    KG @ #241:

    It has occurred to me that SARS-CoV-2 could act as a deterrent to invasion in some circumstances. For example, would China be keen to send the PLA into Hong Kong right now?

    Along those lines, I’ve been wondering about the people Trump is sending to Portland and other cities. Are they all staying together in hotels? Eating their meals together? Exposing people or being exposed to the virus?

  158. johnson catman says

    re SC @252: Like you referred to @45 on July 27, multi-billion dollar sports clubs can’t keep out the virus so how the fuck can poor school systems be expected to keep children safe from it? It is purely criminal to force school systems to fully open for the fall.

  159. blf says

    SC@257, It’s entirely possible Pompeo fraught onnear the E.German border — with his fellow Army types, the local antifa, the police, other drunks, and /or the barbed wire he stumbled into.

  160. says

    Jamila Thompson did a great job. I would have been terrified to share the stage with this lineup. It was so nice to hear what a great boss, mentor and friend John Lewis was to his staff. Sadly that is rare on Capitol Hill.”

    I cried when Thomas, Lewis’ deputy chief of staff, was speaking. In this week of contrasts, the experience of his staff vs. Gohmert’s is one of the starkest.

  161. says

    CBS – “U.S. expands charges against ex-Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia”:

    Fresh off dismissing spying charges against two former Twitter employees and another individual on Tuesday, the U.S. government has unfurled a new superseding indictment that accuses the three individuals of even more offenses.

    The two former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah, and the third person named Ahmed Almutairi were originally charged with fraudulently accessing private information and acting as illegal agents of a foreign government for allegedly spying on Twitter users critical of the Saudi royal family.

    This time around, the individuals have been charged with seven offenses instead of two. The charges include acting as an agent for a foreign government without notice to the attorney general; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud; money laundering; destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations; aiding and abetting; and criminal forfeiture.

    The factual accusations made by the U.S. government are largely the same when compared to the original complaint, with the two former Twitter employees still being accused of using their company privileges to provide non-public information of Twitter accounts to the Saudi government and royal family.

    The original complaint had claimed that the two former Twitter employees accessed information such as telephone numbers, recent IP address information, devices used, user-provided biographical information, logs containing a user’s browser information, and a complete log of a user’s actions on Twitter without authorization or consent.

    In the new indictment, the U.S. government provides more detail on whose information was allegedly taken. According to the new indictment, Abouammo and Alzabarah accessed information on the accounts of journalists, celebrities, and public interest and branded organisations in the Middle East….

  162. says

    Mehdi Hasan:

    Yesterday, the founder of TPUSA died from it; today a former GOP presidential candidate. Last week, the president’s NatSec adviser tested positive; yesterday a prominent GOP congressman, too.

    And yet STILL they don’t get it, don’t take it seriously, won’t wear masks… MADNESS.

    I remember in the innocent, early days of his crisis when many of us thought ‘Once they start getting it, once it happens to people they care about, then they’ll stop calling it a hoax and take action’ and yet, nope, they’re willing to let it all burn, let everyone die. Fanatics.

  163. blf says

    Italy’s senate votes to lift Matteo Salvini’s immunity from prosecution:

    […]
    The Italian senate has voted to lift Matteo Salvini’s immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for possible charges against the far-right former interior minister for refusing to allow 164 migrants to get off a ship in Sicily.

    […]

    During his 14 months as interior minister, he repeatedly denied ships carrying rescued migrants access to ports. The policy resulted in numerous standoffs, leaving migrants stuck at sea for many weeks before European countries could identify a willing port or courts intervened.

    […]

    Immunity has already been lifted in another refuse-permission-to-dock / -disembark case.

  164. says

    SC @262, I really admired the way President Obama included all the facts about the Voting Rights Act, and the current suppression efforts (with details!). He related all of that to John Lewis’ life in a way that was inspirational and factual. Now that’s how a president should address the public.

  165. says

    Republicans probably didn’t expect this: the fallout/backlash following Louie Gohmert’s announcement that he tested positive for coronavirus now includes even more GOP staffers going public with their unsettling experiences.

    Quite a few members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus, but due to the larger political context, some announcements generate a bit more news than others.

    Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who has refused to wear a mask, tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday shortly before he was expected to travel with […] Trump to Texas. Gohmert, 66, one of the most outspokenly conservative members of Congress, said he tested positive during the routine screening at the White House prior to boarding Air Force One and blamed his infection on the fact that he had begun to wear a mask more frequently in recent days.</b

    The far-right Texan wasn’t displaying symptoms. If he weren’t scheduled to be with the president yesterday, it’s quite likely that Gohmert wouldn’t have known that he’d contracted the virus. It’s also likely that he would’ve returned to Capitol Hill and continued to interact with others — lawmakers, executive-branch officials, journalists, et al. — without taking any meaningful precautions.

    But there’s one specific group of people who were at particular risk: the Republican congressman’s aides, who learned about Gohmert testing positive when he told them, in person, yesterday.

    As unsettling as those developments were, they took an even more striking turn when a staffer in the Texan’s congressional office reached out to Politico to note that Gohmert has required a full staff — with interns — to work in his Capitol Hill office during the pandemic in order to be “an example to America.”

    The same unnamed staff added that in Gohmert’s office, aides have been “berated for wearing masks.”

    When Politico’s Jake Sherman noted this on Twitter, it apparently sparked “a flood of emails from Republican staffers who say they too are being forced to come to the Hill without a mask.”

    Evidently, at this point in the crisis, there’s an amazing number of people who “feel unsafe and uncomfortable” working for members of Congress. A scheduler for one House Republican, for example, said mask-wearing in the office is “not encouraged,” adding those who take the precaution have been “derided on several occasions by the [chief of staff] and the member” of Congress.

    Another Republican aide said, “Ridiculing people for wearing masks is also not uncommon.” The person added that the GOP’s “anti-mask brigade” appears to be “forcing staff to report to work even if they have legitimate concerns about their health.” […]

    yesterday’s developments have apparently produced meaningful changes, including new mask requirements announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Capitol officials.

    Pelosi announced Wednesday evening that all members will be required to wear a mask when voting on the House floor and that one will be provided if anyone forgets. Several hours later, the House sergeant-at-arms and the Capitol’s top physician issued an order requiring masks inside House office buildings, with few exceptions.

    This new policy took effect this morning.

    Link

  166. johnson catman says

    re SC @262: The contrast between Obama, who is intelligent, coherent, and a great orator, and the idiot in the White House presently is so stark that it is inconceivable that anyone could support such an idiot. I just want to hug Obama. On the other hand, every time that I even hear his voice , I want to smack The Orange Toddler-Tyrant repeatedly. I look forward to the days when that orange idiot is removed permanently from our lives.

  167. says

    “As economic aid talks falter, let’s not forget that we have a self-professed, world-class deal-maker in the Oval Office. So, where is he?”

    With the economy in trouble and the coronavirus crisis still raging, much of the United States could use a lifeline. It’s against this backdrop that the CARES Act and its benefits are set to expire tomorrow. There have been some bipartisan talks this week, raising the possibility of a new agreement, but by all accounts, the negotiations are failing spectacularly.

    Perhaps some hands-on presidential leadership could generate a breakthrough? Maybe, if the United States had a self-professed, world-class dealmaker in the Oval Office, an economic aid package could still come together?

    One of the more notable tweets Donald Trump published ahead of his political career came in late 2014, not long before he launched his Republican presidential campaign. He wrote:

    “Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully or write poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” […]

    Trump proceeded to take the message to the public, assuring voters that he had a unique skill set normal politicians lacked: he knew better than most how to negotiate, bring people together, and reach the kind of “big deals” that would produce real results.

    […] then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “[T]he president is, I think, the ultimate negotiator and deal-maker.”

    So, where is he? If deal-making is Trump’s “art form,” and he’s a world-class negotiator, why isn’t he at the negotiating table with congressional leaders, working something out?

    […] the truth has become painfully obvious […]: Trump’s vaunted deal-making skills were just part of his 2016 deception, presenting himself to the electorate as something he clearly is not.

    […] reaching deals has proven to be one of the things Trump is worst at. […] he’s tried to negotiate sweeping agreements on everything from health care to immigration, gun violence to government shutdowns, and he’s repeatedly come up short.

    None of this is the result of misfortune or near-miss opportunities. Trump has struggled at deal-making because he doesn’t care to do the work necessary to reach agreements. […]

    even if he did sit down with congressional leaders to work on an economic aid package this week, there’s no reason to believe the president would be aware enough of current events to even have an intelligent conversation. Yesterday, Trump criticized the Democratic aid package as overly stingy, the day after his team and their allies criticized the Democratic aid package as overly generous. […]

    As CARES Act benefits expire tomorrow, many Americans might wonder why the president didn’t at least try to negotiate a compromise solution. The answer is an awkward one for the White House: Trump doesn’t know how.

    Link

  168. says

    No one seems happier about Trump’s decision to move troops out of Germany than the Kremlin.

    When Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced plans yesterday to withdraw almost 12,000 American troops permanently stationed in Germany, the Pentagon chief insisted to reporters that the decision was unrelated to German defense spending and NATO payment targets.

    At nearly the same time, about four miles north, Donald Trump told reporters at the White House:

    “Germany is delinquent. They haven’t paid their fees. They haven’t paid their NATO fees.”

    The president, indifferent to contradicting his own Pentagon chief, soon after peddled the same line on Twitter:

    “…Germany is very delinquent in their 2% fee to NATO. We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!”

    At this point, we could note the fact that there’s no such thing as a NATO “fee,” which is a detail Trump really ought to understand by now. We could also explain that Germany is not, in reality, “delinquent.” We could also note how embarrassing it ought to be when a president and his own Defense secretary explain the same decision in contradictory ways at roughly the same time. We could emphasize, as Susan Glasser did, that Trump is undermining his own ostensible point by moving U.S. troops to other European countries that are also not spending 2% of their respective economies on defense.

    While we’re at it, we could also note that the president’s decision has been condemned by lawmakers in both parties, some in conservative media, and retired military leaders — including Mark Hertling, the former commanding general of U.S. Army forces in Europe, who described himself as “sickened,” both by the decision and the official explanation.

    But as important as all of these angles are, I’m stuck on an entirely different question: why did Trump do this? We know the rationale peddled by the administration isn’t true, so what is true?

    It’s possible that the president’s feelings were hurt when German Chancellor Angela Merkel politely declined his invitation to a G-7 gathering at Camp David. It’s also possible that Trump expects to lose his re-election bid, and he’s trying to lock in lasting foreign-policy changes, effectively salting the earth behind him.

    But let’s not brush past the fact that the American president appears to be handing an unnecessary gift to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Indeed, the Kremlin was only too pleased to celebrate the White House’s decision in an official statement this morning.

    Esper said yesterday that that the move will, among other things, “deter Russia.” And yet, no one seems happier about Trump’s decision than Moscow.

    Link

  169. blf says

    Amusingly, I was reflecting on this today during lunch. I went to one of the better — and, and this is relevant, pricier — restaurants today, with a nice view of the bay from the terrace, excellent staff, on a good day during the summer holidays. I was almost the only one there, when (at this time of year) they’d be full(-ish). The bar next door was completely empty, which is even more astonishing.

    What’s going on is there aren’t too many foreign visitors in France (the most-visited country in the world) due to the pandemic, nor are the French going to other countries. This means most vacationing people in France are French, “rediscovering” their own country. The catch? The French are notoriously tight-fisted and don’t spend a lot. So the (pricey) restaurant and next-door bar were largely empty, despite the beaches being busy (cue usual whinge about poor social distancing, etc.).

    France24, As French tourists discover Paris, local restaurants discover a demanding clientele (video): “Fear of the coronavirus coupled with travel restrictions have made foreign tourists a rare sight in Paris. Instead it’s the French who are converging on the city to re-discover their capital. But the French have tighter purse strings than US or Asian tourists, and they are not spending enough to compensate for the loss of tourism revenue. Some restaurants have seen a 90 percent drop in income compared to last year. […]”

    And lunch was great. A mélange of tomatoes as starter, a beouf and stuff wok-cooked dish, and a nice local rouge.

  170. says

    A fact-checking article: Barr Repeats Trump Falsehoods in Congressional Testimony.

    NY Times link

    The attorney general echoed many of Trump’s liess on nationwide protests, police shootings and the coronavirus.

    […] WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    “The president has not attempted to interfere in these decisions. On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever call I think is right, and that is precisely what I’ve done.”

    This is misleading. In posts on Twitter and in other public statements, Mr. Trump has repeatedly disparaged the Justice Department’s investigations and employees and made his feelings clear in high-profile cases, including those of allies like Roger J. Stone Jr. and Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Barr has expressed frustration with Mr. Trump’s attacks, saying in February that the president’s attacks “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

    WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    “According to statistics compiled by The Washington Post, the number of unarmed Black men killed by police so far this year is eight. The number of unarmed white men killed by police over the same time period is 11. And the overall numbers of police shootings has been decreasing.”

    This is misleading. Mr. Barr accurately cited a database of police shootings compiled by The Washington Post. But the raw numbers obscure the pronounced racial disparity in such shootings. (The statement was also an echo of Mr. Trump’s technically accurate, but misleading claim that “more white” Americans are killed by the police than Black Americans.)

    When factoring in population size, Black Americans are killed by the police at more than twice the rate as white Americans, according to the database. Research has also shown that in the United States, on average, the probability of being shot by a police officer for someone who is Black and unarmed is higher than for someone who is white and armed. […]

    WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    “The vast majority of them, around 90 percent, are killed by other Blacks, mainly by gunfire.”

    This is misleading. Mr. Barr cited this statistic to argue that “the threat to Black lives posed by crime on the streets is massively greater than any threat posed by police misconduct.”

    He is correct that about 88.9 percent of Black murder victims were killed by Black perpetrators in 2018. But left unsaid was the fact that murder victims and their perpetrators are overwhelmingly of the same race or ethnicity: 80.7 percent of white murder victims were killed by white perpetrators, and 68.4 percent of Latino murder victims by other Latinos.

    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in a 2018 report on police shootings, identified claims like Mr. Barr’s about intraracial crime among Black Americans as part of an “inevitability argument.”

    “The ‘Black on Black’ crime narrative as an explanation for police excessive use of force disregards the structural and historical issues that formed these neighborhoods, as well as the social and economic factors that currently sustain them,” the commission wrote. […]

    WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    “In the wake of George Floyd’s death, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protest to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims. The current situation in Portland is a telling example. Every night for the past two months, hundreds of rioters have laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property.”

    This is exaggerated. While some protesters in Portland have been violent, many others have been peaceful and have included high school students, military veterans, off-duty lawyers and lines of women who call themselves the “Wall of Moms.”

    Videos show that federal agents […] responded aggressively and sometimes with disproportionate force through the use of tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls. In some cases, they attacked protesters when there was no apparent threat, including the case of a Navy veteran whose hands were smashed by officers.

    Mr. Barr’s timeline of two months of nonstop riots in Portland is also hyperbolic. Protests have ranged in size and violence levels, and the police have not declared the situation a riot every night. The Oregonian also reported that the courthouse was not a target of protests until July, when federal agents were dispatched to the city.

    WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    “The problem with the testing system was a function of President Obama’s mishandling of the C.D.C. and his efforts to centralize everything in the C.D.C.”

    False. Mr. Barr, like Mr. Trump, was most likely referring to a “draft guidance” issued in 2014 by the Obama administration to regulate laboratory-developed tests necessary to track a pandemic. But the policy was never made final or enforced, undermining the argument that it was to blame for the scattered and insufficient delivery of coronavirus tests this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention botched the development of its own tests, leaving the United States initially blind to the virus’s spread and behind other nations. […]

    WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    “The historical building on Lafayette Park was burned down. St. John’s was set on fire.”

    This is exaggerated. When protesters gathered on June 1 in Lafayette Square, near the White House, as part of demonstrations in response to the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, the authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters. Mr. Trump then walked across the park for a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Church. A day earlier, a small fire had been set in the basement of the church, but it was contained.

    A spokesman for Washington’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said that damage from the fires was largely negligible throughout the protests and that no buildings were permanently destroyed as many had sprinkler systems installed.

    Mr. Barr may have been referring to a utility and bathroom facility in Lafayette Square that was badly damaged, but not “burned down.” But other than its location in the park, the spokesman said, it had no historical significance.

    WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    “Well, first, it is my understanding that no tear gas was used on Monday, June 1.”

    This is misleading. The United States Park Police has said it did not use chloroacetophenone, or CN, gas, one of the most common types of tear gas. But it did use “smoke canisters and pepper balls” — and specifically products made by the PepperBall company — on protesters in Lafayette Square that day.

    The C.D.C. defines the term “tear gas” as riot control agents made of chemical compounds that “temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs and skin” — symptoms that protesters and reporters described experiencing in Lafayette Square.

    Mr. Barr’s denial was also disputed by an Army National Guard officer who was present during the protests and who also testified to Congress on Tuesday.

    “I could feel irritation in my eyes and nose, and based on my previous exposure to tear gas in my training at West Point and later in my Army training, I recognized that irritation as effects consistent with CS or tear gas,” Maj. Adam DeMarco wrote in his opening statement. “And later that evening, I found spent tear gas canisters on the street nearby.” […]

    WHAT MR. BARR SAID
    Representative Mary Scanlon, Democrat of Pennsylvania: “OK. But in fact, you have no evidence that foreign countries can successfully sway our elections with counterfeit ballots, do you?”

    Mr. Barr: “No, I don’t, but I have common sense.”

    This lacks evidence. Election officials and experts have widely rejected this idea as nearly impossible, noting that ballots are printed on very specific stock and often have specific tracking systems like bar codes.

    “It’s so much more difficult than a cyberattack,” said Lawrence Norden, the director of the election reform program at the Brennan Center. “You’d not only have to attack the printer, you’d have to get information from the jurisdiction and get voter registration information. You’d have to have some way of mailing the ballots from an address and get the signature of the voter. It would be an exceptionally difficult attack.”

  171. says

    More asinine behavior from Hair Furor:

    […] Trump applauded himself […] after his tweet about possibly delaying the election (which he has now pinned at the top of his Twitter profile) drew widespread concern […]

    “Glad I was able to get the very dishonest LameStream Media to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting (not Absentee Voting, which I totally support!),” he tweeted, once again peddling the false claim that voting by mail leads to election fraud.

    Trump also declared that he “Must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months, or even years later!” a virtually impossible task given the prevalence of absentee and mail-in voting, and how long the process of vote tallying takes in large states, such as California.

    The President’s tweets appear to be laying the groundwork for portraying the election as illegitimate if he were to lose to his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

    Link

    Readers of the TPM article above posted comments:

    Smells like flop sweat and despair.
    ——————-
    He got spanked by the governors and Republican leadership of Congress and he thinks that’s a victory?
    ———————
    One you mail in and the other you send by mail.
    ———————
    Steven G. Calabresi is a co-founder of the Federalist Society: this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.
    ———————-
    Too much push back from the right and he tacks to this idea that he got media to discuss voting fraud.
    ——————-
    The co-founder of the Federalist Society, Steven Calabresi, is calling for trump to be re-impeached over his threat to postpone the election in November.
    ——————–
    “What would Vlad want?” Everybody being nervous about whether an election is going to happen, and whether it will be accepted as valid, plays right into [Putin’s] hands.
    —————–
    Today a Democratic majority in the house saved the election from being postponed.

  172. says

    Barr makes it clear that he intends to deliver an October surprise

    In his Tuesday hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General William Barr made plenty of statements that justifiably raised eyebrows—among them his refusal to acknowledge a direct threat against a federal judge, his lack of concern for Donald Trump’s pardoning people directly involved in his campaign, and his smug willingness to overlook any evidence, no matter how obvious, against Trump or anyone close to Trump. Barr’s entire appearance was simply dripping with disdain for the entire legal process, Congress, and plain old decency.

    So it’s not surprising that among the statements made by Barr, one threat got little attention. Not only did Barr make it clear that he intends to lob an “October surprise” into the election works, he added in a signal that he’s going full QAnon by adding not-at-all-disguised reference to Pizzagate in the mix. Sometime in the final weeks of the campaign, Barr fully intends to fulfill every Republican fantasy with a “report” on how Democrats tried to … do something.

    […] Not only did Barr begin his second session as attorney general (AG) by purposely distorting the results of the Mueller investigation and hiding evidence collected by the Department of Justice, he drafted U.S. Attorney John “Bull” Durham to begin an international quest to find anything that could back up Pizzagate-level claims of persecution.

    The Where in the World is Hillary’s “Missing Server” world tour has seen Barr and Durham in Australia, trying to get that government to admit that Australian official Andrew Downer was actually an instrument of U.S. intelligence planting false justification to open an investigation. They’ve visited Rome and London in an attempt to get officials there to agree that Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud was another CIA plant put in place to lure George Papadopoulos into spilling the beans on Trump. And they’ve met with an array of Rudy Giuliani approved pro-Russian Ukrainians, looking for that elusive proof that Joe Biden something something Hunter. Also, they’ve seriously spent time pursuing a Democratic National Convention (DNC) email server and Ukrainian hackers, neither of which ever existed. The list of actions that Barr has taken to support Trump’s ludicrous conspiracy theories is lengthy, and still growing.

    From all of this, Barr is preparing a report that will undoubtedly confirm that Trump was “right.” Barr is almost certain to paint already identified infractions by FBI agents and decisions made by Justice Department officials as parts of a deep state conspiracy meant to set up Trump before he was elected […]

    How far down into QAnon white rabbit land is Barr willing to go? As The Washington Post reports, when Republican Rep. Tom McClintock took the opportunity during the hearing to join Barr in moaning about the failings of the Russia investigation, he asked Barr if Durham’s report was going to beat the election deadline. […]

    After complaining that the investigation had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Barr went on to say: “Justice is not something you order up on a schedule like you’re ordering a pizza.” That was far from an accidental statement. QAnon conspirators frequently sift through public statements to find some obscure reference that can be construed as having something to do with their impossibly arcane beliefs. Barr didn’t make it that hard. Considering that the entire QAnon conspiracy theory began with claims about Democratic officials hiding an “international pedophile ring” behind pizza orders, Barr was blowing a QAnon bullhorn, underlining his intention of delivering the goods.

    Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell took the oppositite approach, asking Barr if he would “commit to not releasing any report by Mr. Durham before the November election.” Barr’s answer in this case was much more succinct: “No.”

    Barr is making it clear that sometime in the remaining 98 days before the election, he intends to drop a sheaf of documents that builds every molehill of wild speculation into a mountain of even wilder accusations. At this point, more pretense around Ukraine or servers or commas in the warrant for Carter Page may seem picayune, especially as the tide of coronavirus deaths rolls on toward 200,000. On the other hand, Barr could even include manufactured indictments against Clinton, or Obama, or even Biden. That would get attention. After all, Barr has made it absolutely clear that there are no lines.

    And both Barr and Trump are counting on the media to be every bit as cooperative in trumpeting whatever is in this report as they were in making Clinton’s emails the number one story in 2016.

  173. says

    Jake Sherman:

    We are getting more and more messages from deep inside the Trump administration from aides and senior officials who feel like they cannot work safely during COVID, and are being told not to wear masks

    Pls, pls continue reaching out. We want to tell you story in Playbook.

    I mean, they’re not safe. At all.

  174. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current raving wannaba-daleks live blog:

    […]
    Asked about school re-openings, Trump falsely claimed that young people are almost immune to coronavirus, even as transmission of the disease among young people has become an area of increasing concern.

    The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the opposite in a press conference just hours ago, CNBC reported.

    “We have said it before and we will say it again, young people are not invincible,” the WHO Director-General said. “Young people can be infected, young people can die and young people can transmit the virus to others.”

    […]

  175. says

    Trump spoke (told lies from a White House podium) again today as he pretended to give a Coronavirus press briefing.

    From Aaron Rupar:

    Trump on Herman Cain: “Unfortunately, he passed away from a thing called the China virus.”

    Trump still seems to think that the coronavirus public health crisis is a Democratic hoax.

    REPORTER: A week ago you said you’re in the process of developing a coronavirus strategy that’s very powerful. Where is it?

    TRUMP: “Well, I think you’re seeing it. And I think you still see it.”

    On topic of schools reopenings, Trump falsely claims that “young people are almost immune to this disease”
    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1288961985019817984 [Video at the link>

    Trump threatens Portland protesters: “Many should be arrested … we’re telling them right now that we are coming in very soon. The National Guard. A lot of people. A lot of very tough people … these are people who are allowed to go forward and do what they have to do.”

    “It’s China’s fault” — Trump on the coronavirus

    Trump claims that November’s election will be “fixed” and “rigged”

    Trump on if he’s serious about delaying the election: “I don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything. That is what is going to happen.”

    “Postmen are in big trouble now … voter fraud … no, I want to be standing, hopefully, hand held high. Big victory” — Trump

    How are these thoughts related to each other?
    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1288958727723384837 [Video at the link]

    Asked about his tweet suggesting the election should be delayed, Trump reiterates “pants on fire” claims that mail-in voting is ripe for election fraud.

    Trump ludicrously claims that keeping schools closed is causing “probably more death” than Covid-19

    Trump is reading very strongly
    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1288957142834262017 [Video at the link]

  176. says

    Josh Marshall:

    This ghastly presser was on par with this morning’s tweet. Repeated attacks on the November elections, claiming he’ll need to delay it. But his affect told a different story. He seemed staggering, almost punch drunk. He feels defeated and he’s lashing out. It will continue.

  177. blf says

    This is pretty good (from one of the replies in the twittering linked-to in @277), Trump 2020 Fool-Proof Talking Points For Trump Supporters To Debate With:

    […]
    As a Trump Supporter, it is imperative that you can easily recite these talking points. Please study these, so that you can credit Donald Trump for his historic accomplishments.

    […]

    1. GDP: The United States Commerce Department today reported that the countries GDP dropped 32.9% in the 2nd quarter of 2020. This Trump historic accomplishment is more than three (3) times higher than any GDP drop in history. […]

    And other points like it. One quibble, the author refers to a non-existent (as far as I know) “United States Intelligence Department” in what looks to me like a mistake, albeit as it’s trolling hair furorians, it may not be an error. (Actually, that name has been used in some fiction.)

  178. says

    Norm Eisen:

    I never imagined I would see this:

    A US ambassador paying tribute to Nazi German fighters & occupiers. Including SS

    I don’t care if they’re dead or alive, & I don’t care how long it’s been

    Wish I could visit graves of my family the SS killed but I can’t: they were incinerated.

    US ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra’s tweet from Ysselsteyn cemetery at the link.

    Eisen was the US ambassador to the Czech Republic. His mother was a Holocaust survivor.

  179. blf says

    Eid at Croke Park[, Dublin]: ‘It shows Ireland has moved to accept diversity’:

    […]
    For most of its 136-year history the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has embodied an Irish identity that was Catholic, nationalist and conservative.

    [… O]n Friday this nationalist crucible will showcase a very different Irish identity when it hosts the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha. Covid-19 restrictions limit indoor gatherings so Muslim leaders asked to use Croke Park and received an emphatic yes.

    “They didn’t hesitate,” said Shaykh Umar al-Qadri, the chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, which is organising the event. “This Eid festival is symbolic. It gives us an opportunity to express our dual identity.”

    The decision by an Ikea store in Germany to lend its car park to a local mosque for socially distanced prayers prompted the idea, said Qadri. “I thought Ireland can do even better so I approached Croke Park, the most iconic, Irish, symbolic venue you could think of.”

    […]

    Government ministers are to attend along with Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religious leaders. The national broadcaster, RTÉ, is to carry live coverage.

    […]

    There is one disappointment: organisers hoped to have 500 people at the stadium, one of Europe’s biggest, with a capacity of 82,300, but authorities capped the number at 200.

    […]

    Ireland is hardly immune to Islamophobia. About half of Irish people do not want more Muslims in Ireland and feel confident publicly stating this, according to a survey published this week by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Economic and Social Research Institute.

    “Many people in Ireland who hold negative attitudes towards Muslims believe that their opinions are socially acceptable, unlike people who hold negative attitudes towards black immigration,” it said.

    […]

    Ireland now has about 80 mosques and Islamic places of worship, says Ali Selim, a spokesman for the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland. “Muslims in Ireland are at home. They share the Irish layer of their identity with a religious layer and cultural layer.”

    He credited state and religious leaders of all faiths with setting a tone of inclusion that has kept far-right voices on the political fringe. It also helped, said Selim, that Ireland had not colonised or invaded Muslim-majority countries. “In fact Ireland has been occupied by Britain. So many Muslims here share the same history.”

    As the article briefly mentions (redacted from the above excerpt), Croke Park is where, in 1920, the “black & tans”, a British paramilitary force, machine-gunned a crowd watching a hurling match, killing 14 people, during the Irish War for Independence. Similar to the Ohio State Massacre, they opened fire without warning and for no reason whatsoever; and then tried to cover-up. I may be mistaken, but I don’t believe any of the shooters or their officers was ever tried. One result is Croke Park is something of a “shrine” for independent Ireland, as hinted-at in the above excerpt.

  180. johnson catman says

    re SC @285:

    Federal unemployment benefits will expire tomorrow.

    For some, they expired last week. Depending on how the states determine the “week”, the states that end the unemployment “week” on Saturday do not get the extended benefits this week because Saturday is August 1st, not in the month of July.

  181. says

    Update to #215 above: Isaias became a tropical storm the other night and a hurricane late last night. It’s now expected to strengthen into a Category 2 as it moves over the Bahamas tonight, then weaken before it hits Florida tomorrow.

  182. says

    McClatchy – “Judge rips into Ghislaine Maxwell as sealed Epstein documents begin to emerge”:

    A much-anticipated batch of newly unsealed documents from a settled defamation suit began trickling out Thursday night over the objections of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of sex trafficking and alleged to be the madam of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

    In a 2015 e-mail Epstein advised Maxwell to return to the high-society world the two had inhabited without any shame.

    “You have done nothing wrong and i would urge you to start acting like it,” Epstein wrote. “[G]o outside, head high, not as an escaping convict. go to parties. deal with it.”

    Maxwell, awaiting trial in a federal prosecution, had delayed the planned release of the documents from a 2015 civil suit by filing objections at the last minute, provoking the ire of U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska.

    The judge ruled last week that the documents should be unsealed.

    “The Court is troubled — but not surprised — that Ms. Maxwell has yet again sought to muddy the water as the clock clicks closer to midnight,” Preska wrote in a filing denying a request from Maxwell’s lawyers for an emergency phone conference. They argued, unsuccessfully, that the documents threaten her defense and complained she had already been convicted by the media.

    The judge had allowed two key depositions to be exempt from release while Maxwell filed an appeal Thursday with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. But Preska ordered a second large tranche of documents from the case settled in 2017 unsealed and released Thursday night.

    Last August, the court unsealed nearly 2,000 documents in the defamation suit involving Virginia Giuffre, who alleges Maxwell recruited her and others who were underage for sex with Epstein and powerful men. The documents provided a detailed picture of Maxwell’s alleged obsessive quest to procure girls to satisfy Epstein’s insatiable sexual appetite.

    And they provided sordid details of Maxwell’s alleged involvement, which undercut efforts by Maxwell’s attorneys to distance Maxwell from Epstein’s sex crimes.

    In one document, the transcript of Giuffre’s deposition, she describes how Maxwell brought her and her father from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club — where they both worked — to the Epstein mansion, gaining their trust. Giuffre recounts that Maxwell even stripped naked with her the first time she was abused as a minor by Epstein.

    She detailed how Maxwell took nude photographs of her for Epstein, and described a secret room with the entire wall covered with photographs of nude underage girls who’d been through the Palm Beach mansion. And she alleged that within nine months Maxwell involved her in efforts to procure other underage girls for Epstein.

    That same transcript also names people who traveled with Epstein. While many of the names have been publicly linked to Epstein before, seeing them in the context of the document was jarring. Giuffre tells of celebrities traveling with Epstein like magician David Copperfield, model Naomi Campbell, former Sony Records President Tommy Mottola and Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famed undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.

    Giuffre also provides a sworn statement about former President Bill Clinton visiting Epstein’s Little St. James Island.

    The earlier documents also included the names of a number of men whom Giuffre said she and other victims were directed to have sex with, including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, the late scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel, and prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin.

    Giuffre has said she was directed to have sex with prominent defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who previously represented Epstein, as well as Prince Andrew….

    A 2015 e-mail unsealed Thursday between Epstein and Maxwell appears to suggest that Maxwell was “not part of, nor…[had] anything do with, JE plea bargain.”

    That could undercut efforts by Maxwell’s attorneys to argue that Maxwell is protected by a non-prosecution agreement that was part of Epstein’s 2008 plea deal, which shielded his co-conspirators from charges. And the very existence of the e-mails disputes Ma[x]well’s claim, in an earlier filing seeking bail, that she had not been in contact with Epstein for more than a decade.

    Legal woes are catching up with Maxwell on numerous fronts….

    A victims compensation fund has recently started operating to help Epstein victims quietly achieve settlements out of court, even as Giuffre and other women seek legal remedies too.

    The source of Maxwell’s wealth is coming under scrutiny. Prosecutors said there were large sums of unexplained wealth, and the cash purchase of the mansion where she was arrested was notable….

    More atl.

    Julie Brown:

    The one name, besides Epstein, that stands out in all the documents is Maxwell. Virginia claims that Maxwell was Epstein’s lead procurer, trainer and participant in his sex trafficking operation. A lot of the girls/women/models they trafficked couldn’t speak English, she said.

  183. says

    Belarus update:

    Latest count of the number of people at Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s campaign rally in #Minsk, #Belarus, tonight is 63,000, according to Viasna human rights NGO.

    SIXTY THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE.

    Sorry for caps lock but I am just ecstatic about the energy in my native city.

    More photos from last night’s campaign rally by opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in #Minsk, #Belarus. Estimated 63,000 – 70,000 people joined the rally, making it the largest political event in Belarus since 1991:…

    Massive rally. Video from the rally. (“L’Estaca” was composed by Catalan singer Lluís Llach under the Franco dictatorship in 1968.) Tsikhanouskaya campaign ad.

  184. says

    Here’s a link to the July 31 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The Hong Kong government has postponed its upcoming elections for one year, citing the growing coronavirus outbreak in the city but sparking immediate accusations that the pandemic was being used as a pretext to suppress democracy.

    The city’s leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, announced on Friday she had invoked emergency regulations to delay the 6 September vote, saying it was the “hardest decision I have made in the past seven months”.

    Hong Kong is experiencing its worst outbreak of the pandemic, with more than 100 daily new cases – mostly community transmissions – and hospital Covid-19 wards at about 80% capacity. Lam said part of the government’s response to the virus was “a willingness to make hard choices”, however, she also suggested the social unrest and political instability had contributed to the delay.

    “The Legco election is held once every four years and it’s a really tough decision to delay it but we want to ensure public safety and health, and we want to make sure the elections are held in an open fair and impartial manner,” Lam said.

    She said the Chinese central government supported the decision.

    The government’s consideration of a postponement was leaked earlier this week, and was labeled an “assault on fundamental freedoms” amid growing Beijing control over the semi-autonomous region, and coming a day after 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running.

    The potential postponement has sparked fury from opposition and pro-democracy groups.

    On Friday afternoon, a coalition of pro-democracy legislators accused the government of using the pandemic to delay an election they were looking like losing.

    The group said they represented 60% of the population and “collectively and sternly oppose a postponement”.

    (Similar things are happening in Bolivia.)

    UK prime minister Boris Johnson has announced he will reverse a decision to relax a range of lockdown measures due to come into force in England on Saturday, including cancelling plans to allow a full range of beauty treatments.

    The further easing of lockdown restrictions in England that were due on 1 August for higher risk settings, including allowing small wedding receptions and the reopening of bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos, has been postponed for at least two weeks, he said.

    Indoor performances will not resume, pilots of crowds in sports centres will not take place, and wedding receptions of more than 30 people will not be permitted, he added.

    His announcement follows that to tighten restrictions in parts of the north of England as part of targeted measures.

  185. says

    This, from the Guardian world liveblog, is bonkers:

    Thousands of demonstrators are expected to gather in Berlin at the weekend to protest against restrictions introduced to dampen the spread of coronavirus.

    Under the umbrella title ‘End of the pandemic – the Day of Freedom’ diverse groups from the extreme left and right, including anti-vaxers, Holocaust deniers, and conspiracy theorists who believe the virus has been imposed by an elite in order to gain power, are due to hold dozens of individual protests across the German capital.

    Police and lawmakers have urged participants to observe physical distancing rules and to wear face coverings, amid evidence that the frequency of the virus is increasing once again.

    Among the demonstrators, one group has suggested ‘storming the Reichstag’, the German parliament building. Others have rejected the idea, arguing it could bring the entire demonstration into disrepute. Over 1500 police are expected to be on duty, with around 22,000 protesters due to take part from across Germany, according to Berlin’s interior ministry.

    The main gathering is expected to take place at the Brandenburg Gate in the centre of Berlin, before participants march down the wide ‘17. Juni’ boulevard to the Victory column. Other protests are planned for elsewhere in the city.

    The anti-coronavirus restriction demonstrators had been thought to be in decline since Germany began to gradually relaxed its lockdown rules, after reducing the number of active infections.

    But parts of what is meanwhile being viewed an established scene, drawing in a range of interest groups, including followers of the elusive US group QAnon -an online conspiracy theory cult focused on the idea of a “deep state” dominance, one of whose heroes is US president Donald Trump, or the alliance ‘Querdenken’ (‘lateral thinking’) whose followers sport tin foil pendants and are against a coronavirus vaccine – have gained more traction the longer the pandemic has continued. Its sympathisers have used social media to gain support. This weekend’s events are supposed to mark the first time the various groups will actively, rather than accidentally, come together.

    One of its figureheads, a celebrity vegan cook called Attila Hildmann, has been banned from speaking at the rally due to the defamatory, far-right rhetoric he has used at previous protests.

    Nikolai Nerling, a prominent Holocaust denier, who broadcasts his views on YouTube, is expected to be present. The far-right NPD has also announced it will participate.

    One of the protesters’ broad demands is for the German parliament to call new elections in September, a year ahead of schedule, so that voters have the opportunity to bring down what is referred to as the “corona emergency government” of chancellor Angela Merkel.

  186. says

    SC @295, Feeling sorry for chancellor Angela Merkel who has to deal with these beyond-the-fringe conspiracy theorists.

    In other news, this is an interesting campaign tidbit:

    Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) confirmed yesterday that she’s been interviewed by Joe Biden’s team as part of the vetting process for the party’s vice presidential nomination.

    Polling update:

    […] surveys from the last day or so show Biden up by 10 points in Minnesota, four points in Florida, nine points in Pennsylvania, and seven points in New Hampshire.

    Good news: Trump seems to be losing some major donors.

    Business Insider reports that while Robert and Rebekah Mercer were among Trump’s key backers four years ago, “they’ve all but abandoned the embattled president and aren’t likely to help him in the home stretch for 2020.”

  187. says

    From the link provided by SC in comment 287:

    […] Over the next three months, the tests’ mysterious provenance would spark confusion and finger-pointing. An Abu Dhabi–based artificial intelligence company, Group 42, with close ties to the UAE’s ruling family, identified itself as the seller of 3.5 million tests and demanded payment. Its requests were routed through various divisions within Health and Human Services, whose lawyers sought in vain for a bona fide contracting officer. […]

    Looks like Jared Kushner was the “contracting officer,” and he ordered bogus test kits (didn’t work, were contaminated).

    Kind of figures that Kushner would deal with the United Arab Emirates.

  188. says

    From text quoted by blf in comment 283:

    […] He credited state and religious leaders of all faiths with setting a tone of inclusion that has kept far-right voices on the political fringe. […]

    Ah, if only we had leaders like that in the USA. It really does matter leaders at the top of the hierarchy say and do.

  189. says

    Breaking

    In the realm of hyper-politicizing the State Dep’t, #Pompeo has apparently handed over thousands of pages of documents to Senate REPUBLICANS probing Biden-Burisma.

    But refuses even to provide duplicates to House Foreign Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Next move: A Subpoena”

    Engel is subpoenaing the documents.

  190. says

    SC @301, Ha! I was expecting the opposite from the Trump administration. I thought this would be the spin offered by Trump’s lackeys, “If Hong Kong can delay elections for health reasons, so can the USA.”

    And of course, Trump himself is still talking about delaying elections in the U.S., as SC noted in comment 280. His press secretary will probably change her tune soon.

  191. says

    New data:

    <

    blockquote>NEW from CDC: #COVID19 outbreak at an overnight camp in Georgia infects at least 260 campers & staff.
    -51% of positives 6-10yo
    -44% 11-17 yo
    -Camp required a test <12 days before arriving & attempted “pods”
    -Masks required for staff but NOT campers
    -*Out of 597 campers & staff, 344 were tested and 76% of those tests were positive

    -26% positives report no symptoms

    -Bottom line from @CDCgov: Children of all ages are susceptible to #SARSCOV2 & “might play an important role in transmission”

    Paper online soon & here…

    They’re driving off a cliff with school openings the same way they did with opening states back up a few months ago. Lunacy.

  192. says

    Trying one more time because I’m curious what went wrong…

    New data:

    NEW from CDC: #COVID19 outbreak at an overnight camp in Georgia infects *at least* 260 campers & staff.
    -51% of positives 6-10yo
    -44% 11-17 yo
    -Camp required a test [less than] 12 days before arriving & attempted “pods”
    -Masks required for staff but NOT campers
    -*Out of 597 campers & staff, 344 were tested and 76% of those tests were positive

    -26% positives report no symptoms

    -Bottom line from @CDCgov: Children of *all* ages are susceptible to #SARSCOV2 & “might play an important role in transmission”

    Paper online soon & here…

    They’re driving off a cliff with school openings the same way they did with opening states back up a few months ago. Lunacy.

  193. says

    Rep. Connolly:

    A Trump crony is actively undermining the Postal Service from the inside. He will destroy this American institution so you can’t vote by mail.

    I chair the subcommittee with jurisdiction over USPS. This has been a smoldering crisis for months.

    Now, it’s a five alarm fire.

    WaPo link atl. Postal and shipping services are critical national infrastructure. If a foreign country was causing this damage to the USPS, it would rightly be considered an attack. This is sabotage of a service people rely on to get fucking medications.

  194. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 312.

    As Election Day nears, USPS rings the alarm

    The debate that’s coming into focus is centered around an unsettling question: are “reform” efforts at USPS part of a deliberate political campaign? [Spoiler alert: the answer is “yes.”]

    In his eulogy for the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) yesterday, former President Barack Obama noted the many ways in which voter-suppression advocates continue to put barriers between Americans and the ballot box. His list culminated with a timely example.

    These opponents of voting rights, Obama explained, are “even undermining the postal service in the runup to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

    I was so glad to see Obama highlight this issue. I think Trump and lickspittles are trying to fly under the radar with this particular mode of sabotage. They are not going to get away with it.

    It was a few hours later when the Washington Post published this report:

    The U.S. Postal Service is experiencing days-long backlogs of mail across the country after a top Trump donor running the agency put in place new procedures described as cost-cutting efforts, alarming postal workers who warn that the policies could undermine their ability to deliver ballots on time for the November election.

    The broader context of these developments is important. Donald Trump has long targeted the USPS as a perceived enemy, largely because he wants it to punish Amazon.com. It’s convoluted nonsense: the online retailer is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which has covered Trump’s presidency in a way he doesn’t like, which has led Trump to call USPS “a joke” because it won’t do more to punish Amazon.com.

    This has led the White House to, among other things, fiercely oppose any effort to bolster USPS finances.

    But as the president’s handpicked donor makes institutional changes at the Post Office, and Trump hysterically attacks postal balloting, we’re well past the point at which [Trump’s] Bezos preoccupation is the only problem. The Washington Post’s article added:

    As […] Trump ramps up his unfounded attacks on mail balloting as being susceptible to widespread fraud, postal employees and union officials say the changes implemented by Trump fundraiser-turned-postmaster general Louis DeJoy are contributing to a growing perception that mail delays are the result of a political effort to undermine absentee voting.

    Exactly. […]

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter yesterday, “Mail delays could mean delays for mail-in ballots, essential supplies, and life-saving medications. Louis DeJoy is the Betsy DeVos of the Postal Service, and he’s sabotaging his own agency when its work has never been more important.”

  195. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 280.

    Following this morning’s press briefing/trumpian-lying-session, Aaron Rupar posted some excerpts and comments. You can view video at https://twitter.com/atrupar

    Trump teasing that Russia will forge ballots is disconcerting [Damn straight! Trump is basically asking Russia to forge ballots.]

    Trump on November’s election: “This is going to be the greatest election disaster in history.”

    Asked for his thoughts on Hong Kong delaying its election, Trump says, “Ahh. I want to right now focus on this election. I’ll have a statement about that soon. I heard that, that they did the delay in Hong Kong, and we’ll have a statement about that. But I want to focus on this.”

    @PeterAlexander: We heard your frustrations with how long it takes to count ballots. So why not spend more energy to provide states with additional funding for elections?

    TRUMP: “Peter, you know nothing about my energy … listen, you know nothing about what I do.” [LOL]

    […] TRUMP: “It’s China’s fault!” [in reference to COVID-19]

    Trump delusionally claims that “Democrats are going to lose the election. You see what’s going on with the polls right now.” (Trump is handily losing to Biden in reputable polls.) “The Democrats are playing for November 3rd. We’re playing for the people, for the good of the people. I told my people, ‘The Democrats do not care about the people of our country. They don’t wanna do what we should be doing for the people of our country, whether it’s unemployment or anything else. All they care about is the election, and they’re going to lose the election.'”

    Trump went on to quote discredited Rasmussen polls.

  196. says

    Follow-up to comments 287 and 300.

    Did Kushner and his team see the virus as a blue-state problem?

    The fear in the spring was that the White House would be passive in its COVID response because blue states were suffering. Those fears were well grounded.

    It was in mid-March when Politico first reported that Jared Kushner was taking on a key role in guiding Donald Trump on combating the pandemic. A CNN White House correspondent added the same day that Kushner is “becoming more involved” in the administration’s coronavirus response, with one source telling the network that the president’s young son-in-law is “in total control.”

    […] it wasn’t long before the presidential son-in-law was reportedly leading a “shadow task force” of his own, which had the effect of “causing confusion among many officials involved in the response.” […]

    Katherine Eban takes a deep dive in Vanity Fair into what went wrong, explaining in detail how Kushner and his operation originally intended to launch a coordinated response to the pandemic, including a national testing strategy, before the plan, as one insider put it, “just went poof into thin air.”

    The article offers a lot to chew on, but this excerpt is generating attention this morning for good reason:

    Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national [testing] plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert. That logic may have swayed Kushner.

    The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman added this morning, “[T]reating the coronavirus as a blue-state problem was a fairly widespread approach in the West Wing.”

    This is indefensible, but not altogether surprising. When the scope and scale of the crisis first started coming into focus, the hardest hit states were also “blue” states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, et al. The fear in many circles was that Donald Trump’s White House would be more passive in its response because it wouldn’t much care what happened in states that didn’t support the Trump/Pence ticket.

    The latest reporting suggests those fears were well grounded. Indeed, it appears to paint a picture in which the Republican administration might have at least tried to respond more effectively to the crisis if, say, Oklahoma and Alabama were suffering in March the way New York and New Jersey were.

    The White House’s posture started to shift a bit after officials started to believe “our people” were being adversely affected by the pandemic.

  197. says

    Why isn’t the GOP more concerned about the economic downturn?

    Republicans are approaching the economy and the pandemic with the same misguided posture: wait for everything to be fine, while doing very little work.

    […] Will the economy look like an “L,” dropping sharply and staying low? Will the recovery look more like a “W,” falling, then rising, then dropping again before returning to normal? Perhaps we should expect more of a “U,” which would offer more gradual gains?

    On Team Trump, of course, there’s only one letter that matters. Earlier this week, Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council and the top voice on economic policy in the White House, told Fox Business that the economy isn’t in bad shape. He added that he believes a “V-shaped recovery … is still very much intact.”

    To bolster his argument, Kudlow pointed to a series of metrics, including, “[U]nemployment claims and continuing claims are falling rapidly.”

    Kudlow’s claim (above) is not true, not even close.

    […] The New York Times had a good report on this today:

    The United States just suffered its worst economic quarter in nearly 75 years. Its recovery from the depths of a pandemic-induced recession has stalled, as coronavirus deaths rise again across the country. […] Trump has what appears to be one final chance to cut a deal with Congress to ensure hard-hit workers and businesses do not collapse before the November election. He has shown little interest in taking it.

    To be sure, Donald Trump’s passivity is difficult to understand, but it appears to be a party-wide problem. After House Democrats, eager to stay ahead of deadlines, passed a sweeping economic aid bill in mid-May, congressional Republicans dithered for 10 weeks, choosing to do effectively no work on the issue at all.

    […] Republicans were so indifferent to the economic details that they disagreed on what belonged in their own blueprint, even after its unveiling, and criticized the Democratic plan for completely contradictory reasons.

    […] without an 11th-hour miracle, millions of families will soon lose economic lifelines, including the $600 weekly unemployment supplement, which have kept many Americans’ heads above water during the pandemic. The real-world impact on these households will be dramatic, and the effects on the economy won’t be any better.

    And yet, Trump, who hoped to make the economy the centerpiece of his re-election campaign, seems unfazed and reluctant to do any real work. Asked this week if he’s worried about the economy, the president replied, “I don’t think so. I think the recovery has been very strong.”

    It really hasn’t been, but he either doesn’t know that or he’s been persuaded not to care. The Times’ report added:

    Some members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle, along with his allies in the Senate, have urged the president to oppose a large new spending bill, including some of the provisions included in the Senate Republican proposal unveiled on Monday. The economists Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore, who informally advise Mr. Trump, have told him to focus on a payroll tax cut for workers and businesses — a move that few Republicans support and that economists say would do little to help the 30 million Americans without a job.

    This isn’t a good sign. The president’s perspective is being steered by the likes of Kudlow, Moore, and Laffer, who collectively have been wrong about practically every major economic question raised in recent decades.

    […] asked for an economic strategy, some post-policy Republicans don’t bother to come up with a plan because they don’t see the need to even try. Their ideological assumptions take precedence over the public’s need for policymakers to take action.

    And if this attitude seems familiar, it’s because the GOP’s approach to the economic crisis is eerily similar to the party’s approach to the coronavirus crisis: hope everything will be fine, wait for everything to become fine, and do very little to make sure everything is fine.

  198. says

    Trump’s ‘exciting’ new health care plan doesn’t exist

    Two weeks ago, Trump vowed to “sign” a “full and complete health care plan” by today. So, where is it?

    […] Trump sat down with Fox News’ Chris Wallace in the White House Rose Garden, and the host asked about the president’s ongoing efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act, which would strip benefits from tens of millions of families. [Trump] replied that he still intends to “replace” the ACA.

    The host reminded Trump, “But you’ve been in office three and a half years, you don’t have a plan.” It was at this point that the president responded with an unexpected vow:

    “Well, we haven’t had. Excuse me. You heard me yesterday. 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…. [T]he decision by the Supreme Court on DACA allows me to do things on immigration, on health care, on other things that we’ve never done before. And you’re going to find it to be a very exciting two weeks.”

    In terms of the Supreme Court ruling, Trump was apparently referring to a bizarre legal theory that the justices, in their recent DACA ruling, effectively gave the president license to, as John Yoo put it, “violate the law.” Or put another way, when Congress won’t act on an issue, Trump now believes the high court’s conservatives have empowered the White House to basically do as it pleases — not only on immigration policy, but in practically every area.

    That’s a difficult proposition to take seriously, but let’s save the details of that legal debate for another day. What I’m especially interested in right now is that “full and complete health care plan” that Trump promised he’d be “signing” by today.

    Where is it? What’s in it? At what time should we expect this “signing” to take place?

    […] I suspect the White House would point to the president’s recent executive orders on prescription drug costs, but (a) these measures don’t do nearly as much as Trump is claiming; and (b) no one would seriously describe some orders on the price of medication as a “full and complete health care plan.”

    […] What we appear to have instead is yet another example of an annoying pattern. Just six months into Trump’s presidency, Bloomberg News made a terrific observation: [Trump] had an unnerving habit of responding to every difficult question by saying the answer was “two weeks” away. At the heart of the line was a lazy political strategy: Trump hoped that people, over the course of 14 days, would simply forget what he’d promised. […]

  199. says

    WTF!?

    Trump Now Says He Wants Election Day Moved Up

    […] Trump stood by his push to change the date of the 2020 election on Friday, but apparently he now wants it moved in the opposite direction.

    During a press availability at the White House, Trump rambled on about how absentee ballots are “actually very good” while mail-in ballots are “a disaster,” even though they’re functionally the same thing given that absentee ballots are submitted … by mail.

    [Trump] claimed voting by mail means Americans are “never going to know what the real result of an election is” (elections officials and experts have not found any indication that mail-in voting systems cause election fraud) and that it would take too long to count the vote.

    “I wish we would move it up, okay?” Trump told reporters. “Move it up.”

    He also baselessly claimed that Russia and China will “be able to forge ballots,” an argument Attorney General Bill Barr has also tried to make while also admitting he did not have evidence to back it up. […]

  200. says

    Stephen Miller Falsely Claims Voter Identity Is Not Confirmed For Mail-In Ballots

    White House senior adviser Stephen Miller spewed some mistruths [today], calling mail-in ballots a “catastrophic problem” as he tried to justify fresh attempts by […] Trump to sow doubt about the legitimacy of an election […]

    “The President brought attention to the catastrophic problem of universal mail-in ballots,” Miller told “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning.

    “Nobody who mails in a ballot has their identity confirmed, nobody checks to see if they are even a U.S. Citizen,” Miller added, warning that voter fraud could be “happening on a scale of potentially millions of people.”

    But Miller’s claims just aren’t true. While some states require copies of identification to be sent along with ballots, others require that an elections officials compares the signature on the identification envelope to the one found on the elector’s voter registration or other another form in the voter’s registration record. Driver’s license numbers and partial Social Security numbers, are also often used checked voter registration system data. […]

    While in a press briefing later on Thursday the President tried to walk back the tweet [about delaying the election], he seized on the opportunity to expand on an angle that only thinly veils his own anxieties about losing — that a win for Joe Biden will be illegitimate.

    Comments from readers of the TPM article pointed to other election shenanigans being perpetrated by the Trump administration, as well as pointing out just how awful Stephen Miller is:

    The Census Bureau is cutting short critical door-knocking efforts for the 2020 census amid growing concerns among Democrats in Congress that the White House is pressuring the bureau to wrap up counting soon for political gain, NPR has learned.
    ——————
    Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis has repeatedly voted by mail in Colorado, a state that largely does its entire election by mail with little fraud.
    ——————-
    Y’all keep lying about something that voters know about. Most voters know that you don’t just get a blank ballot that anyone could use.

    It’s a big fat lie and and easy fucking lie to dispute and one that most people already know is a lie.
    ———————-
    I completed my PA mail-in ballot info a few weeks ago. I had to enter my private info including my driver’s license #.
    ———————
    Q: What else did Miller falsely claim?

    A: Miller claimed that his grandmother did NOT die of Covid despite the death certificate saying so!

    That is how morally bankrupt and mendacious this mal-administration is!

    AND Miller is the best at Making America Segregate Again!
    ——————–
    A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth
    Joseph Goebbels – Miller’s idol
    —————-
    What is amazing to me is Uberfuhrer Miller doesn’t realize that a very large percentage of people who vote by mail completely understand the process. That leads to some questions. Who is he trying to convince not to vote by mail? Republicans many of whom are like Trump and already vote by mail? Does he want his senior citizen voters not to vote? The press who also vote by mail? Democrats who won’t hear him?

    I can can only conclude that he is addressing an audience of one – Donald J. Trump.

  201. says

    Another lawsuit against Trump:

    Trump is facing more legal woes for blocking people on Twitter despite a court order that he cannot do so.

    The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a new lawsuit against Trump on Friday for keeping several Twitter users blocked on his @RealDonaldTrump account. The group is suing in federal court in New York — the same court that ruled in May 2018 that Trump cannot block people from using his account because he uses it to announce important policy updates. That decision was backed by a federal appeals court in July 2019, and the circuit court declined to review its decision in March. […]

  202. says

    Trump in leaked conversation bragged about retweets for defending Confederate history

    [Trump] boasted about the amount of retweets he received in a post saying that Sen. Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, assured him that military bases named after confederate heroes will not be changed.

    “I had about 95,000 positive retweets on that. That’s a lot,” Trump told Inhofe on a phone call the senator put on speaker while dining at a Washington, D.C., restaurant Wednesday night, according to audio leaked to the New York Times.

    Inhofe, 65, reportedly put the call on speaker so he could hear better, making the conversation audible to those seated at Trattoria Alberto, a small Capitol Hill eatery frequented by Republican lawmakers.

    “We’re going to keep the name of Robert E. Lee?” Trump said.

    Inhofe responded to Trump’s question by saying: “Just trust me, I’ll make it happen.”

    The two reportedly spoke about somebody “resigning” and being placed into another position. They also discussed personal matters regarding somebody’s “divorces” that could be the subject of media attention.

    The call occurred the day before Anthony Tata, the retired Army brigadier general whose nomination for a top Pentagon policy position has become controversial, was supposed to testify before the committee.

    His hearing was canceled less than an hour before it was set to begin on Thursday because “many” Democrats and Republicans “didn’t know enough about Anthony Tata to consider him for a very significant position at this time.” […]

  203. says

    Coronavirus data no longer going through CDC contains errors, misinformation: report

    Analysts say the Trump administration’s new online COVID-19 data system that bypasses the old platform managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) leads to delays and misinformation.

    According to data analysts interviewed by NPR, the new system using data aggregated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allegedly contains errors and inconsistencies, with listed accounts of medical facilities reporting difficulties sending information to HHS.

    The delays in data reports leave the exact numbers of available hospital beds, ventilators and other vital equipment for treating COVID-19 somewhat unknown […]

    Lisa Lee, a former chief science officer for public health surveillance at the CDC, told NPR, “If the information is not accurate, it could cost time — and lives.”

    This month, the White House announced new requirements instructing hospitals and medical facilities to bypass the CDC on COVID-19 data reporting. […]

    Redfield said the reason for the administration’s decision to place HHS at the helm of COVID-19 data analysis was to supply the administration with real-time hospitalization data to speed up shipments of remdesivir, a drug proven to treat COVID-19, to medical facilities.

    HHS sent a notice to hospitals across the country on July 10 notifying facilities about the change to COVID-19 data reports. The federal health department added it would be using a reporting platform developed by the private contractor TeleTracking, NPR reported. […]

    On this new, and supposedly better system, hospital bed capacity was last updated July 23. Slow. Not up to date. Some hospitals not able to report. This is another Trump administration failure.

  204. says

    From Wonkette: DHS Doing ‘Intelligence Reports’ On Journalists​, Like In Real, Live Police State!

    The Washington Post broke some news last night about the latest Department of Homeland Security fuckery in Portland, reporting that DHS’s “intelligence” branch collected copies of tweets and newspaper articles by two US journalists. They then sent reports to federal law enforcement agencies warning the journos had posted copies of leaked, unclassified internal DHS documents about the DHS compiling intelligence reports on protesters in Portland.

    Which makes for a nice circular abuse of intelligence resources, we suppose, but the problem, as the Post points out, is that the reports make use of a “government system meant to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.” For all Donald Trump’s prating on about the press being enemies of the people, reporters are definitely not.[…]

    The Post summarizes the operation thusly:

    Over the past week, the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has disseminated three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, summarizing tweets written by two journalists — a reporter for the New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare — and noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland. The intelligence reports, obtained by The Washington Post, include written descriptions and images of the tweets and the number of times they had been liked or retweeted by others.

    […] The entire story is simultaneously farcical and disturbing. Here’s a government agency treating tweets and newspaper articles as if they were national security matters. It’s as absurd as the FBI monitoring John Lennon, “a former member of the Beatles singing group,” to see if he was a subversive. It’s also chilling, for the very same reasons: You don’t use spy tools on people who are simply doing First Amendment stuff. Or rather you’re not supposed to.

    In an update, the Post notes that after the story broke last night, (Acting) DHS Secretary Chad Wolf seems to have realized just how stupid and banana-republic-y it all looked; Wolf ordered DHS’s pretend spies to knock it off, and opened an “investigation” into the embarrassing fuck-tussle. In a statement, a DHS spokesperson said

    Upon learning about the practice, Acting Secretary Wolf directed the DHS Intelligence & Analysis Directorate to immediately discontinue collecting information involving members of the press. […] In no way does the Acting Secretary condone this practice and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter.

    Remember, the reporters had been reporting on another iffy DHS intelligence operation, in which DHS collected publicly available information on protesters it suspected of possibly planning to damage monuments or statues, whether they were on federal property or not, as part of Donald Trump’s mission to save America’s statues from Antifa. […]

    So no more spying on journos, but yeah, we’re going to keep snooping on protesters, who do need to be treated as potential terrorists.

    The Post points out that the leaked documents posted by the journos “revealed shortcomings in the department’s understanding of the nature of the protests in Portland, as well as techniques that intelligence analysts have used.” For instance,

    A memo by the department’s top intelligence official, which was tweeted by the editor of Lawfare, says personnel relied on “FINTEL,” an acronym for financial intelligence, as well as finished intelligence “Baseball cards” of arrested protesters to try to understand their motivations and plans. Historically, military and intelligence officials have used such cards for biographical dossiers of suspected terrorists, including those targeted in lethal drone strikes.

    Well sure, but since “Antifa” is a terrorist group, according to Donald Trump, it only makes sense American protesters need similar treatment. Warm up the Predator drones!

    And again, the intelligence reports on the two reporters — Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes and New York Times reporter Mike Baker — aren’t supposed to be used for American citizens who aren’t doing terrorism.

    “This has no operational value whatsoever,” said John Sandweg, who previously served as the department’s acting general counsel. […]

    In fact, it appears Wittes and Baker may have been targeted because the leaked materials they separately reported on made DHS look like a bunch of dipshits […] A DHS memo Baker wrote about, for instance, claimed the protests were part of a longstanding campaign against the government by “anarchist extremists,” but it also acknowledged that “we have low confidence in our assessment” when it comes to understanding the current protests in Oregon’s largest city.

    […] Wittes told the Post he’s not worried that his tweets were circulated, but he is bothered that they were compiled as an “intelligence report,” because what’s to keep DHS from keeping dossiers on Americans doing journalism? He said he’s looking at his legal options.

    For our money (a buck and a quarter), the best paragraph in the story is this assessment of the DHS intelligence branch’s reputation even prior to this latest fuckup:

    The Intelligence and Analysis Office has for years been the butt of jokes among larger, more established agencies like the CIA and the FBI, who liken it to a team of junior-varsity athletes. The DHS office produces reports that are largely based on unclassified, often public sources of information that current and former officials have said are of limited use.

    […] bush-league spyfuckery..

    Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes will run legal rings around them.

  205. says

    Yesterday, Kellyanne Conway tweeted:

    Herman Cain led a remarkable life and will be missed. He loved his family, the country and the Lord. He triumphed in business, beat cancer and was a voice for freedom. God bless you and yours, Herman.

    Her 15-year-old daughter just responded:

    yes it is sad but wasn’t your administration complicit in his death ?? yikes

  206. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    WHO records record daily rise in coronavirus cases

    The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 292,527.

    The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, where deaths rose by a total of 6,812.

    The previous WHO record for new cases was 284,196 on July 24.

    Deaths rose by 9,753 on July 24, the second largest one-day increase ever.

    Deaths have been averaging 5,200 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

  207. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Florida reported another record increase in Covid-19 deaths on Friday.

    The state health department said Florida registered 257 fatalities, a record for the fourth straight day despite predictions that the U.S. coronavirus epicenter could be shifting to the Midwest.

    The one-day loss of life in the state was roughly equivalent to the number of passengers on a single-aisle airplane.

    Florida also reported 9,007 new cases, bringing its total infections to over 470,000, the second highest in the country behind California.

    It is among at least 18 states that saw cases more than double in July, when almost 25,000 people in the United States died of Covid-19.

  208. says

    Reuters – “French daily coronavirus infection rate back to lockdown levels”:

    France reported 1,346 new coronavirus infections on Friday, taking the total to 187,919 as the daily tally of new cases remained above 1,300 for the third day running, a level last seen during lockdown.

    At the end of the first month of school holidays, with millions of French people traveling and mingling with friends and family not seen for weeks, the infection rate has risen back to a level last reported in late April, when the epidemic was in full swing and a strict lockdown was in place….

  209. says

    Ian Dunt in the New European – “Boris Johnson cannot win the battle for the union”:

    …Once upon a time, Unionists could at least argue that Westminster provided stable, competent government. But that case no longer holds either. It’s more like being chained to a someone who occasionally flies into fits of rage and starts waving a knife around threatening to cut his own legs off.

    In the face of that kind of mania, Sturgeon has projected an image of firm, reasonable, reliable authority. Her response to Brexit was evidence-based and unemotional, in stark contrast to the gibbering hysterics of the Leave leadership in London.

    During the pandemic she has provided a more consistent and reassuring leadership than that available in Downing Street. Anyone looking for competent, experienced and judicious governance would be hard put to select Westminster over Holyrood.

    But in the end, it wasn’t the SNP’s strong performance which brought us to this point. It was English nationalism – a political movement which simply didn’t care about Scotland, which treated it with indifference and became lost in a deranged culture war over Europe which it could neither articulate nor sensibly pursue.

    This was all preventable. Every step of the way, the warnings were issued and every step of the way they were ignored.

    And now here we are: watching Britain tear itself away from Europe, and then Scotland tear itself away from the 
Union.

    A once great power carving itself up into smaller and smaller units, for no discernible purpose. That is what English nationalism has created. A man alone in a raft, lost at sea, insisting he is a navy.

    Much, much more atl.

  210. says

    NPR – “A 37-Year-Old Opposition Candidate Challenges The Longtime Leader Of Belarus”:

    In Belarus, a 37-year-old political novice is giving Europe’s longest-serving leader a run for his money.

    Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is challenging Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, 65, in an unexpectedly contentious election set for Aug. 9.

    An English translator and mother of two, Tikhanovskaya decided to run after her husband, a popular blogger, was jailed in May.

    “I don’t need power, but my husband is behind bars,” Tikhanovskaya told a giant campaign rally in the capital Minsk on Thursday. “I’ve had to hide my children. I’m tired of putting up with it. I’m tired of being silent. I’m tired of being afraid.”

    A huge crowd of supporters filled a city park, waving the flashlights on their cellphones as darkness fell. Tikhanovskaya has been attracting crowds in towns across Belarus ever since she united with the campaigns of two other opposition candidates, one of whom is in pre-trial detention, the other who has fled to Russia for his safety.

    Belarus — sandwiched between Russia and NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia — has existed in a vacuum since the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has survived on energy subsidies from the Kremlin, even while staving off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s overtures for closer political and economic integration.

    Tikhanovskaya became Lukashenko’s chief opponent after her husband Sergei was denied registration as a candidate and jailed on charges of violating public order and election laws. Sergei Tikhanovsky had gained popularity with his YouTube channel that took on socioeconomic issues ignored by state television.

    Amnesty International considers Tikhanovsky a “prisoner of conscience” and has condemned “a growing clampdown on human rights” in advance of the August vote. Candidates, their supporters and political activists have all faced detention during the election campaign.

    The United States has been without an ambassador to Minsk since 2008, when bilateral relations broke down amid a crackdown on the Belarusian opposition.

    Now Lukashenko is pursuing rapprochement with Washington as a way of countering pressure from the Kremlin. In February, he received Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Minsk, and President Trump has since nominated a new U.S. ambassador.

    The Kremlin is interested in negotiating with a weakened Lukashenko, Sinitsyn said, but his removal as a result of a democratic election — or a revolution — would set a “terrible precedent” for Russia….

    More atl.

    BBC World will air a short documentary about her campaign this weekend. (I don’t think I have access, unfortunately.)

  211. johnson catman says

    re SC @298:The orange idiot claiming 12,000 people were at the Tulsa rally!!! From the pictures, you could easily see that 2/3 of the 19,000 seat arena was EMPTY. Delusional does not even begin to describe the orange idiot.

  212. johnson catman says

    re SC @336:

    Dozens of people turned out for Trump’s speech in Florida this afternoon

    He must be SO proud. Let’s just hope that all his future rallies have the same number of enthusiastic supporters (or even less).

  213. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC @334, NASA is planning on bring back to Earth the SpaceX Demo-2 crew mission this weekend. Recovery ships are not only in the Atlantic, but also in the Gulf of Mexico in case a diversion to a secondary landing site is needed due to the weather. Final decisions made before the undocking.

  214. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Mexico’s president has said he will only wear a mask when the country eradicates corruption, a pledge made the day after Mexico surpassed the United Kingdom in total Covid-19 deaths.

    W.T.F.

  215. says

    johnson catman @ #337, and it appears from the clip that Swan was asking him about his sociopathic decision to hold and promote the rally during a pandemic, and Trump’s cognition is so narcissistically distorted that he couldn’t even grasp what Swan was saying. His response was to claim that there were twice as many people there!

  216. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #321:

    The two reportedly spoke about somebody “resigning” and being placed into another position. They also discussed personal matters regarding somebody’s “divorces” that could be the subject of media attention.

    The call occurred the day before Anthony Tata, the retired Army brigadier general whose nomination for a top Pentagon policy position has become controversial, was supposed to testify before the committee.

    In this version (I don’t know how true to the original), it clearly sounds like Inhofe refers to there being some question about “whether or not he forged”…something.

  217. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ll also say in support of SC#343, The Reid Out is an excellent hour of your time. MSNBC 6:00 CDT.

  218. tomh says

    @ #350
    I don’t care how long ago that was, that was enough for me. Forget her.

  219. says

    johnson catman @337, right. Plus, Trump got in trouble for holding a rally indoors, so you would think he would grab onto the low occupancy rate as a good anti-coronavirus protocol. But no, he has to falsely claim double the number of attendees. In his mind, this proves that more people love him. Sheesh.

  220. says

    SC @341, sorry, I should have refreshed the page before I posted. I didn’t see that you and I were thinking along the same lines.

  221. says

    President Donald Trump had his public schedule clear through mid-afternoon Thursday — right up until his predecessor Barack Obama was about to take the dais at civil rights leader John Lewis’ funeral 600 miles to the southwest — when suddenly, reporters and cameras were called into the Oval Office.

    Quoted text is from the Huffington Post.

    Trump’s ploy didn’t really work. The ratings for numbers of people watching Obama were higher.

  222. blf says

    Follow-up to @143, Sowing doubt: people around world receive mystery seed parcels:

    Packages marked as ‘earrings’ spark biosecurity concerns and global investigations into origins

    [… S]ome mystery seeds she received in the post this week — ostensibly from Singapore, and marked as stud earrings — […] are among potentially thousands of shipments reported this week in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Europe, including about 100 cases in the UK. The packages have sparked biosecurity concerns and international investigations into their origins.

    […]

    On Tuesday, US agriculture officials issued warnings about the spate of “suspicious, unsolicited” seeds, reported in more than a dozen states, apparently sent from China.

    Florida has recorded more than 630&nbs;instances, with one man claiming to have received three shipments in a week. A woman in Texas said she had received seeds in April and planted them, mistaking them for a gift — but with no results.

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has asked recipients not to plant the seeds as it works with Customs and Border Protection and federal agencies to uncover their source. In the UK, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is investigating reports of similar shipments across the country.

    An Apha spokesperson said: “Biosecurity is of vital importance and we have robust checks in place to protect our plants and wildlife, including for online plant sales. We are currently investigating packages of seeds marked as ‘ear studs’ sent to people in the UK. Anyone who has received such seeds should not plant them and instead report them to us.”

    In New Zealand, a parcel claiming to contain a “toy” arrived in Auckland from Zambia.

    […]

    The Central News Agency in Taiwan reported on Wednesday that seeds apparently sent from there to Canada were in fact trans-shipped via Taiwan on behalf of a client in a third origin. The Taiwanese postal service intends to levy a $3,400 (£2,500) fine against the unidentified logistics company for sending prohibited items.

    In a press conference, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said the address labels from China had been forged and that China Post had asked the US postal service to return packages for investigation.

    The seed shipments are addressed by name, indicating a data breach of some sort.

    […]

    A more nefarious theory is that the seeds are of an invasive species, such as Japanese knotweed, or an attempt to introduce pathogens or disease, or to otherwise threaten national security.

    Gerard Clover, head of plant health at the Royal Horticultural Society, says it is difficult to comment without identifying the seeds’ species or origins. “Anything that has the ability to grow has the potential to be a threat.”

    […]

    • Members of the UK public should report any suspicious seeds to PlantHealth.Info@apha.gov.uk. In the US, report the seed package to the USDA APHIS anti-smuggling hotline at 1-800-877-3835 or SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.

  223. says

    Ginsburg Released From Hospital Following Stent Procedure

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from a New York hospital on Friday following a procedure on a bile stent that was placed last August, the Supreme Court said.

    According to a court statement obtained by Reuters, Ginsburg is home and “doing well.”

    The news of her discharge comes two days after the court’s oldest justice was admitted to “revise a bile stent” at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

    The procedure follows another one last month to clean out the stent.

    A Wednesday statement issued by Kathleen Arberg, a public information officer for the court, said that Ginsburg’s doctors had assured that stent revisions are “common occurrences” and that the procedure, which was conducted using endoscopy and medical imaging, was done to “minimize the risk of future infection.”

    The justice had formerly issued a statement on July 17 announcing a recurrence of cancer after a scan in February followed by a biopsy revealed lesions on her liver.

    The justice said at that time that chemotherapy treatments were yielding “positive results,” saying that recent scans on July 7 showed “significant” reduction of the lesions “no new disease.” Ginsburg said at that time that she would continue bi-weekly chemotherapy, adding, “I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that.” […]

  224. says

    McConnell gives GOP candidates permission to dump Trump

    […] CNN reports that McConnell has given Republican Senate candidates permission to distance themselves from Trump, particularly on his mass-murder approach to the coronavirus and Trump’s continued claims that it’s safe for children to return to school.

    The problem for Republicans looking to separate themselves from Trump is … they can’t. By now, every single candidate up for election in House or Senate who carries a GOP label has signed on to Trump’s most outrageous claims repeatedly. McConnell may have authorized them to show “flexibility” and “independence,” but neither of those qualities have been on display in the least over the last three years.

    […] even Republicans who went into the Trump era after disparaging Trump the candidate have been utterly subservient to his every random whim. They’ve backed Trump on his destruction of vital alliances, backed Trump in his racism and xenophobia, backed Trump on an endless array of unsupported conspiracy theories. And in January, they underscored their support for Trump by signing the ultimate loyalty pledge when Republicans in both House and Senate refused to remove Trump from office despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt. […]

    Having bowed down to Trump and refused to call him out over any statement, no matter how ridiculous, racist, or facistic, Republicans are absolutely wedded to those policies. There is no Republican Party except the Donald Trump Party. There’s not a single Republican voter who will reward them for being flexible. Absolute loyalty is their only real play, even if that means hanging onto the tail of the Trumptanic as it heads for the ocean floor.

    Because there is definitely one person who will make sure that if they do try to claim any independence from Trump, they stand no chance at all—that’s Donald Trump. Shooting “independent” Republicans in the back has been Trump’s favorite sport. McConnell may have given them permission to edge away from Trump, Trump hasn’t. The moment any Republican says a thing that seems counter to Trump’s most muddle-headed utterance … Trump smash.

    No matter what Mitch McConnell says, Republicans signed onto Team Trump in 2016 and utterly sealed their fate in January. […] they long ago sold their souls.

    My question is, “why would they need permission?” Can’t they think for themselves? Just more evidence that Trump’s Republican Party is a cult, I guess.

  225. blf says

    Lynna@358, “why would [thugs] need permission [to ‘dump’ hair furor]?”
    Loyalty test: Anyone who believes moscowmitch and seems to be disloyal is themselves dumped.

  226. says

    Trump did the crime, then he arranged the cover-up; only this time the crime is genocide

    […] taken together this new information seems too large to even comprehend. One of these stories was the revelation that efforts at national testing were suspended because Donald Trump became convinced that deaths were concentrated in states with Democratic governors, and letting Americans in blue states die would be good politics. The second was an investigation into shifting COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to Health and Human Services (HHS) actually meant gifting it to a pair of billionaire friends of Trump without following any rules of competitive bidding.

    […] when it became clear that his decision to let the pandemic burn out of control began to singe red states as well as blue, Trump brought in some experts to help him cover up a crime against humanity.

    When Trump stepped out of the White House on March 13 along with the CEOs of some of America’s largest retailers and pharmacy chains, it got exactly the response that Trump wanted. The media reliably reported on Trump’s latest “pivot,” how he was acting “presidential,” and how he was “finally taking the coronavirus seriously.” […]

    But six weeks later, Trump’s promise of a nationwide network of drive-thru testing centers came down to just five locations, all of them soon to be closed as Trump withdrew the last bit of federal funding from testing support. […] The big plan that was announced to great acclaim—and soaring stock prices—was totally abandoned.

    And now we know why. It wasn’t because Trump grew bored with the pandemic, or simple incompetence prevented the CDC or HHS from moving forward. Instead, Trump specifically halted the program. […] Trump waited almost six weeks to announce any sort of plan at all, and that plan was: Every state for itself. […] All because according to a member of Kusher’s planning team: “The political folks believed that because [COVID-19] was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.”

    Donald Trump made the explicit decision not to address the crisis because he believed allowing blue-state Americans to die would benefit him politically. And if you’re wondering whether the word “genocide” fits, the U.N. certainly thinks so […]

    Many instances of such crimes of genocide have occurred when racial, religious, political and other groups have been destroyed, entirely or in part.— UN Resolution 96(1), 11 December 1946

    Then there’s the second part of this story, where Trump closed down the CDC website that had collected data on disease, hospitalization, and cause of death and handed it over to Republican mega-donors. […]

    Not only does the new system take healthcare information into a private database where only a fraction is reflected back to the public—hospitals that previously reported their data directly to state governments can no longer do so. Instead, all 6,000+ hospitals have to send their data first, and only, to the new site managed by TeleTracking. And now, as many analyses have shown, what’s coming out of the system is completely unreliable. […]

    First Trump did the crime. Then he arranged the cover-up. It wasn’t the first time he practiced that two-step, but it’s certainly the most devastating.

    If the reports of Trump deciding to abandon American states for a political advantage are true, the question isn’t how Trump compares to George W. Bush or James Buchanon. It’s how he compares to Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.

  227. says

    Could Trump Have Another Reason for Banning TikTok?

    Hundreds of TikTok teens pranked the campaign by registering for the free tickets to his Tulsa rally with no intention of showing up.

    The latest target in the Trump administration’s escalating tensions with China is TikTok, the wildly popular music-video app with 2 billion downloads worldwide and a 165 million in the United States.

    “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” […] Trump told reporters on Air Force One on his way back from Tampa on Friday. “Soon, immediately. I mean essentially immediately.” Trump said he would sign an order Saturday. He claimed, “I have that authority,” with the administration pointing to the president’s powers to ban foreign apps from American app stores granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

    […] the Trump administration has claimed that TikTok, a Chinese-owned company, is a threat to national security because it could be susceptible to censorship and breaches of data privacy by Chinese officials.

    […] With Microsoft now reportedly in talks to buy TikTok’s US operations, Trump suggested Friday that a Microsoft stake wouldn’t change his decision to block the social media platform.

    A TikTok spokesperson responded to Trump’s remarks on Friday: “TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety.” […]

    The president has another reason to dislike TikTok. In June, Trump held a rally in Tulsa, in spite of public health experts’ warnings. (There was a subsequent spike in coronavirus cases there.) Before the rally, hundreds of K-pop fans and TikTok teens pranked the campaign by registering for the free tickets, with no intention of showing up. When the campaign could only fill a fraction of the 19,000-seat stadium in a Republican stronghold, the TikTok teens claimed victory […]

    Trump was furious that there were so many empty seats, and, quite possibly, resentful that TikTok teens had outsmarted his campaign.

    It wasn’t just the “TikTok teens” that were responsible for the low attendance at the rally. A lot of Trump fans stayed away because they feared they would catch coronavirus.

  228. says

    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman:

    After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.

    This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate. The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.

    At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving. […]

    Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished. The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country. The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society. Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.

    There is another way.
    During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism firsthand, saying, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.” Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction. Even as I experience the low of ending my military career, I have also experienced the loving support of tens of thousands of Americans. Theirs is a chorus of hope that drowns out the spurious attacks of a disreputable man and his sycophants.

    […].America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation. It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act. […]

    A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world. I look forward to contributing to that effort.

    In retirement from the Army, I will continue to defend my nation. I will demand accountability of our leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity. I will speak about the attacks on our national security. […] I will promote public service and exalt the contribution that service brings to all areas of society. […]

    Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what’s right matters.

    Washington Post link

  229. lumipuna says

    If the reports of Trump deciding to abandon American states for a political advantage are true, the question isn’t how Trump compares to George W. Bush or James Buchanon. It’s how he compares to Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.

    I have to say, at the start of the Trump era, I half expected one of his political blunders would get hundreds of thousands of foreigners killed for no good reason.

    (Eh, it’s not too late for that.)

  230. says

    An, “oh, FFS” moment courtesy of the Bill Maher show.

    Former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss likened cancel culture to “social murder” on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday night, arguing it isn’t about criticism but “punishment.”

    “We’re used to criticism. Criticism is kosher in the work that we do,” said Weiss, who resigned from The New York Times last month in a public letter to publisher A.G. Sulzberger.

    “Criticism is great. What cancel culture is about is not criticism. It is about punishment. It is about making a person radioactive. It is about taking away their job,” Weiss told Maher. “The writer Jonathan Rauch [of The Atlantic] called it social murder. And I think that’s right.”

    “It’s not just about punishing the sinner. It’s not just about punishing the person for being insufficiently pure. It’s about this sort of secondary boycott of people who would deign to speak to that person or appear on a platform with that person,” she added. “And we see just very obviously where that kind of politics gets us. If conversation with people that we disagree with becomes impossible, what is the way that we solve conflict? It’s violence.” […]

    At the time of her resignation, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told The Hill that the paper is “committed to fostering an environment of honest, searching and empathetic dialogue between colleagues, one where mutual respect is required of all.” […]

    Link

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    Barri Weiss is a hypocrite. She actively tried to silence the voices of professors whose views on Palestine differed from her’s. She has every right to voice her opinion, and so do I.
    ——————–
    Weiss pretends that her history of trying to ruin the careers of professors didn’t happen, but it was widely reported in the press at the time. Not only is she a hypocrite, but she is a gaslighter as well.
    ——————–
    As always with the 1st amendment, you’re free to say what you want, and then everyone else who disagrees with you is free to shun, denounce, and laugh at you for your stupid far right opinions.
    ——————-
    Sometimes people don’t want to buy what people like Bari are selling

    She and her ideas were rejected
    ———————-
    “Cancel culture” is all about you leftards silencing those you disagree with, not the other way around, fck face.
    —————-
    Who’s been silenced? Silencing how? By mocking and denouncing you?
    ————————
    Trump and his cult are constantly suing media organizations to silence them
    ——————–
    leftard corporations like Facebook and Twitter are constantly censuring ideas they disagree with.
    ———————
    You just don’t like it when they stop Trump from posting his propagandist lies

  231. says

    lumipuna @364, I thought that too. Who knew he was just looking for a way to kill Democrats in the USA.

    In other bad news: The Supreme Court just handed Trump a victory regarding his border wall

    The Supreme Court’s new border wall opinion bends the rules to benefit Trump.

    The Supreme Court ruled Friday evening, in a 5-4 decision along partisan lines, that […] Trump may move forward with his plans to build a multi-billion dollar wall along the US/Mexico border.

    The Court’s order marks the second time Trump v. Sierra Club has come before the justices, and the Friday decision says as much about the unusual deference this Court gives to Trump as it does about the wall itself.

    The case first reached the Court in late July 2019, after a lower federal court blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to transfer $2.5 billion that Congress appropriated for military pay, training, and similar personnel-related matters to wall construction. The administration claims that it was allowed to do under a statute permitting the Secretary of Defense to transfer military funds “for higher priority items, based on unforeseen military requirements.”

    But, as several lower court judges have pointed out, there’s nothing “unforeseen” about the circumstances that led Trump to build this wall. Trump’s campaigned on plans to build a border wall since 2015. In late 2018 and early 2019, Trump even shut down much of the federal government due to a disagreement over how much money should be appropriated to pay for the wall.

    So Congress did not deny Trump much of the funding he sought because it failed to foresee an emergent problem that could only be solved by a border wall. It was well aware of Trump’s case for additional funding for his wall, and it rejected that case. […]

    Technically, the Sierra Club litigation remains ongoing. The July 2019 order merely stayed the lower court’s decision blocking transfer of the military funds until after Sierra Club winds its way through the full appeals process. Friday’s order denies a request by the Sierra Club plaintiffs to lift the stay imposed last year.

    The difference between last year’s order and the one handed down Friday turns on a partial dissent written by Justice Stephen Breyer in the 2019 iteration of this case. As Breyer explained, a party seeking a stay of a lower court opinion needs to show more than just a “fair prospect” that the Supreme Court will agree with its arguments. That party also needs to show “a likelihood that irreparable harm will result from the denial of a stay.”

    As Breyer noted in 2019, “the Government has represented that, if it is unable to finalize the contracts by September 30, then the funds at issue will be returned to the Treasury.” Thus, he argued, a limited stay might be justified to prevent this money from being returned. “Allowing the Government to finalize the contracts at issue, but not to begin construction, would alleviate the most pressing harm claimed by the Government without risking irreparable harm to” the plaintiffs.

    One year later, however, there’s no longer any need for such a limited stay. As Breyer notes in a dissent to Friday’s order, “the Government has apparently finalized its contracts, avoiding the irreparable harm it claimed in first seeking a stay.” Since there’s no longer a likelihood that the government will face irreparable harm in the absence of a a stay, Breyer argues in dissent, the stay should lift.

    […] the Court’s order in Sierra Club is part of a much broader pattern. The Roberts Court rarely enforces its own rules governing stays of lower court opinions whenever the Trump administration seeks such a stay.

    […] Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused many of her colleagues of “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the Trump administration whenever that administration seeks relief from a lower court order.

    The data bear out Sotomayor’s accusation. According to a November 2019 paper by University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, the Trump administration is unusually likely to seek stays from the Supreme Court, and the Roberts Court is unusually likely to grant them.

    […] Past administrations typically shied away from making such requests because a stay from the Supreme Court is considered extraordinary relief — the kind that is rarely granted and that parties should be exceedingly reluctant to request. And yet, the Trump administration has a very high win rate, achieving a full or partial victory in about two-thirds of cases where it seeks to temporarily block a lower court opinion.

    As Sotomayor wrote last fall, “granting a stay pending appeal should be an ‘extraordinary’ act. Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal.” And the Court appears to have rewarded this behavior.

    Friday’s Sierra Club order is significant, in other words, not just because it will allow construction of the wall to move forward. It is also significant because it suggests that the Supreme Court will relax its ordinary procedural rules for the current president.

  232. blf says

    On the Eid celebration in Croke Park, Dubln (see @283 & @382):

    ● Al Jazeera, Ireland’s Muslims flock to sporting grounds to celebrate Eid:

    […]
    On a crisp, bright morning in Dublin, worshippers sit on prayer mats spaced across a sport pitch, listening to a woman dressed head-to-toe in white recite the Quran.

    From over the looming, concrete walls of the stadium, Catholic prayers barked into a microphone can be heard from the rosary rally protest outside.

    Ireland’s hallowed sporting grounds, Croke Park, opened its doors to Muslims this Eid al-Adha so that they could gather in large numbers for the first time since the country’s coronavirus lockdown put strict limits on all indoor religious services.

    […]

    For many of the worshippers, Friday’s event was also a cherished opportunity to celebrate their dual identities — they are Muslim and Irish, and proud to be both.

    “The Kaaba is the pulse and heart of the Muslim world,” said Karen Kirwan, the ceremony’s MC. “Well, Croke Park is the heartbeat of all the Irish people here in Ireland. It’s where we are drawn to.”

    More than a stadium, Croke Park dominates a central position in Ireland’s psyche.

    “Croke Park has been a physical expression of a nationalist, cultural, sporting organisation. And it’s freighted with history,” historian Tim Carey said.

    […]

    The arena is also the site of the most notorious atrocity of the Irish War of Independence, the Bloody Sunday massacre, in which 14 people were shot dead by police who swarmed the field during a match.

    “To have a sporting venue attacked in such a manner by the state really put Croke Park in a different league in terms of symbolism,” Carey says.

    After independence, the stadium was seen as a reflection of the new, often insular and deeply Catholic nation.

    “The bishops threw the ball in at every major match in Croke Park until the 1970s,” Carey says.

    But on Friday, as protesters — some carrying prayer beads or anti-Islam signs — screamed through a line of police officers at an anti-racism counterprotest outside the stadium walls, the highest-ranking Catholic in Ireland, Diarmuid Martin, spoke along with Anglican and Jewish representatives to the hundreds of Muslims gathered on the field, expressing support for the Eid celebration.

    […]

    When the event was first announced, an article from a fringe news site falsely reported that animals would be slaughtered in Croke Park during the Eid celebrations as part of a large blood sacrifice. The claim was quickly debunked.

    However, Carey said he reaction has been overwhelmingly positive inside the Gaelic Athletic Association community and the event’s organisers say that, while Irish Muslims still face Islamophobia, Irish society has been largely accepting.

    [… Omayma Madani, 17, …] spoke about having to buy a specially-made hijab to go with the uniform of the Catholic school she attended and not being able to eat with her community during Ramadan and how her mosque was still eerily quiet when she last visited.

    Madani was born in Ireland to parents who had immigrated from Algeria but, when asked how she saw her own identity, she did not answer with nationality or religion.

    Instead, she said: “I’m an artist. I’m a boxer. I teach Arabic. I enjoy teaching, but I wouldn’t want to do it forever. I want to be a lawyer. And, one day, I want to be the prime minister of this country.”

    ● Irish Times, Croke Park hosts 200 Muslims in historic Eid celebration:

    […]
    Shaykh Al-Qadri asked for blessings for health care professions, for Allah to give people strength to follow the health regulations and for the Government to show strength in its leadership during the pandemic.

    President Michael D Higgins, who was unable to attend, sent his best wishes. “The celebration in such an iconic Irish venue of this significant holiday in the Islamic calendar is an important moment in Ireland’s narrative,” he said in a statement. “It reminds us of the richly diverse community we have become and the enormous contribution that you, our new communities, have made and continue to make to Ireland.”

    He thanked the Muslim community for their “valuable contribution to a shared society”.

    Archbishop [Diarmuid] Martin said “today marks a new chapter in the history of Croke Park. Today our celebration is a gesture of recognising publicly the place of the Muslim community as an integral part of the family of the Irish and to recognise the contribution of your Muslim community to the Ireland of today and to the Ireland of tomorrow.”

    […]

    Rabbi Zalman Lent said that, at a time of so much anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic feeling, “it is special we can all sit here together…as brothers”.

  233. says

    Colbert King:

    The Trump administration’s standard operating procedure for running the covid-19 disaster relief effort must be: “Put the money on the stump and run like crazy.” It’s hard to draw other conclusions following the release of the Small Business Administration inspector general’s report on potential fraud in the government’s emergency loan and grant program.

    Let’s put it this way. If something akin to this purportedly fraud-riddled program had materialized on President Barack Obama’s watch, Republicans in Congress would be calling it a high crime and misdemeanor.

    Yes, it’s just that bad.

    Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware kicked off his investigation after getting complaints regarding more than 5,000 instances of suspected fraud from financial institutions receiving SBA economic injury loan deposits. After a preliminary review, the IG found “strong indicators of widespread potential fraud.”

    With more than $200 billion left in the SBA’s lending kitty, Ware decided to blow the whistle and publicly call for the SBA to take action immediately “to reduce fraud risk and prevent further losses.”
    […]
    Among the IG’s initial investigative findings:
    ●$250 million in SBA economic injury loans and advance grants were given to potentially ineligible recipients.

    ●$45.6 million in economic injury loans that were approved for nearly 300 businesses were potentially duplicate.
    […] Of the 275 duplicates, according to the report, one business was approved four times and got four loans and six businesses were approved for three loans. The other 268 businesses were approved for two.

    […] accounts had been established using stolen identities […] some account holders tried to transfer funds to investment accounts.

    The investigations also found that some economic injury loans made to agricultural businesses were being deposited in accounts of unrelated third parties in states different from the business locations.

    […] “a London-based international money-transfer business claims to have identified $1.9 million in pending SBA deposits being made to accounts to be transferred internationally.”

    [A] credit union audited 60 of the transactions and determined that 59 appeared to be fraudulent.” […]

    In her July 23 response to the IG’s July 15 draft “Management Alert,” which was titled “Serious Problems and Deficiencies in Internal Controls Over Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program Pertaining to the Response to COVID-19,” Carranza [SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza] maintained that her agency has a “robust set of internal controls” for the lending program for which the IG failed to account.

    She cited her deployment of “sophisticated technology” designed to deal with the kind of complaints filed by financial institutions.

    Oh! “Sophisticated technology.” Everything is okay then. That phrasing sounds like a trumpian case of hyperbole mixed with ignorance.

    […] It is astonishing that Carranza’s response described financial complaints as “unexpected.” How can an agency engaged with financial institutions be unaware of so many complaints of suspected fraud with these economic injury loan deposits?

    Nearly 3,800 instances of suspected fraud complaints came from only six financial institutions.

    What is going on here? Is the Trump administration, besieged by a recession and visions of an Election Day disaster, hoping to flood the country with SBA cash by putting money on the stump and running like hell?[…]

    Washington Post link

  234. says

    Satire/humor from Andy Borowitz:

    Donald Trump stirred controversy on Friday by signing an executive order that would ban the month of November.

    While legal scholars protested that he did not have the right to reduce the number of months in a year from twelve to eleven, Trump argued that “the Constitution doesn’t say anything about how many months you have to have.”

    “All of those smart guys like Jefferson and Madison, those beauties, this is something they didn’t think of,” he said. “I got them on the months.”

    Trump said that eliminating November from the calendar was “long overdue,” calling it “a rigged month.”

    “November is a hoax,” he said. “Some people say it may not even be a real month.”

    Responding to a reporter’s question about the future of Thanksgiving, Trump said that “nobody will miss it.”

    “Just ask anyone in this country,” he said. “Nobody has anything to be thankful for.”

    New Yorker link

  235. blf says

    Right Wing Watch:

    ● Michelle Malkin Says Members of Proud Boys Hate Group Deserve Medals, Not Condemnations:

    Far-right columnist Michelle Malkin said she regretted ever supporting Sen. Ted Cruz after the Texas senator called members of the Proud Boys far-right group bigoted idiots. Malkin says that rather than condemnations from Republicans, Proud Boys members deserve medals for trying to save this country when it was still salvageable.

    […]

    Shame on you,” Malkin said of Cruz. You’re a bigoted moron, Ted Cruz. Screw you! These brave men put their bodies on the line while Ted Cruz and all of the Conservative Inc. punditocracy urge people to get out there and fight for America and stand up for your rights. What have you done?

    [… Malkin] recently collaborated with far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on a reading list for young activists that included several anti-Semitic and racist works of literature.

    Newsmax TV recently hired Malkin to host a program on its network. Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media, said in an article about the hire, Michelle is a true conservative, a respected media personality and a powerful voice for of millions Americans that the big media ignore.

    ● Frank Amedia Says 2020 Pits Trump Against the Spirit of Antichrist:

    Frank Amedia, a former Trump campaign adviser who says God told him to create the POTUS Shield network on the night of President [sic] Donald Trump’s election, published a video message this week urging supporters to engage actively in the 2020 election, which he said was part of a mighty conflict between the spirit of Christ versus the spirit of Antichrist. He called on God to fire up the pastors and fire up the pulpits before Election Day.

    Amedia repeated his prediction of a prophetic thumb and finger pulling President Trump out of quicksand in September to save his presidency [sic]. Trump, he said, has an assignment from God to put more anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court.

    Declaring that he would not buy into the separation of church and state, Amedia said this would be the first of multiple messages about the Nov 3 election, which he said would include a focus on key US Senate races as well as the presidential campaign. He called POTUS Shield a spiritual weapon that was anointed by God, and said the Lord told him that he wanted 10,000 people praying over POTUS Shield’s prayer points in the coming months.

    [… and so on…]

    Amedia also portrayed public health restrictions on churches as a sign that there’s something afoot that is targeted against the body of Christ.

    […]

    The turtle moves!

    ● Trump’s Reelection Will Make Christians The Head and Not the Tail in US, Says Ralph Reed at Evangelicals for Trump Event:

    The Evangelicals for Trump arm of President Donald Trump’s reelection operation held a Thursday night campaign event in Georgia at which prominent religious-right figures portrayed the president’s political opponents as agents of Satan and told conservative Christian voters that the election of Joe Biden would mean the end of religious freedom in America.

    The event was emceed by Todd Lamphere, who works for White House aide and Trump spiritual adviser Paula White. Lamphere helps White use her official position and her One Voice Prayer Movement to promote Christian nationalist rhetoric and assist Trump’s political outreach to conservative evangelical Christians.

    White was the event’s keynote speaker, and she drew on her long relationship with Trump to heap praise on his character, generosity, faith, and commitment to conservative evangelical leaders’ political priorities. [loonnngggg pause as one cleans up the vomit on the keyboard, screen, and mildly deranged penguin…] She agreed with other speakers that God has put him here. And she engaged in the religious freedom fear-mongering that is shaping up as a key Trump campaign strategy, as it was in 2016. They want to take our churches. They want to take our freedoms. They want to take our liberties. They want to take everything, she said.

    White described Biden as a Trojan horse for a very radical left agenda that is behind him that wants to take down our churches. She claimed that this radical left agenda will take God out of everything.

    You get to make a decision on Nov 3, she said. Will you stand for God? Will you stand for the church?

    White was preceded by a series of religious-right leaders who took turns praising Trump and warning of disaster if he is not reelected.

    [… lots more looneyness from other bellowers…]

    Among those [Atlanta-based pastor Richard] Lee trashed in his remarks were what Lee called atheistic socialistic demonic school teachers who teach children garbage and the Democratic Party, which he said has been taken over by the spirit of the Antichrist and is an evil party.

    Lee is editor of the American Patriot’s Bible, a Christian-nation version of the scriptures published in 2009 that one critic called “one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever witnessed coming from a Christian publishing house.”

    […]

    Lamphere urged people to sign up to work as poll monitors. One of the most important things you can do as a servant of God is to protect the ballot box on Election Day, Lamphere said.

  236. says

    Raúl Grijalva, a congressman from Arizona who’s 72, has now tested positive:

    This is infuriating. Grijalva chairs the committee investigating the clearing of Lafayette Square. He wanted his hearing to be via video. The Trump administration said it wouldn’t cooperate unless Grijalva flew from Arizona to DC to appear in person.

    Given his comorbidities, Grijalva and his staff told me they saw this as a childish taunt — a dare. He agreed anyway, because he thought investigating what happened is important.

    Guess who else is on that committee, and attended the hearing in person?

    Louie Gohmert.

    There’s of course no way to know if Gohmert gave it to him. But the in-person hearing was a stupid risk, insisted upon by the GOP. The bargain was literally no oversight unless Grijalva subjected himself to the Capitol Hill COVID Petri dish the Republicans have created.

    Here’s Interior Sec. David Bernhardt, telling Grijalva’s committee that he’ll only debrief him in person, and that the flight from Arizona to DC is an “easy trip.”…

    Here’s Po[l]itico’s @JakeSherman explaining how Republican members of Congress pressure, shame their staff into *not* wearing masks….

    And here’s my piece on the fight to get the head of the Parks Police to testify….

  237. says

    Here’s Rep. Louie Gohmert’s daughter on wearing a mask after her father tested positive this week for COVID-19.

    ‘Please please listen to medical experts. It’s not worth following a president who has no remorse for leading his followers to an early grave’.”

    “My father ignored medical expertise and now he has COVID. This has been a heartbreaking battle bc I love my dad and don’t want him to die.”

  238. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Been watching the SpaceX DM-2 separation/ landing coverage. The Houston control center has maybe a quarter of the controllers masked. Socials distancing, I would need a tape measure, Hawthorne, CA, everybody is masked with the same eyeball distance between stations. I know where I would feel safer working.

  239. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Did look at some old videos, and I think I spotted Gwynn Shotwell’s (COO of SpaceX) Hawthorne control room station, and she was there today wearing a mask during critical steps setting a proper example. She is also the low female voice heard doing the final countdown, “ignition and liftoff” on many launches.

  240. KG says

    SC@373,

    It’s clear that much of Europe is now experiencing a strong rise in Covid-19 cases – both places that had a bad “first wave” which they thought they had brought under control (Spain, France, Belgium, and just getting underway in the UK), and much of eastern Europe which was less affected early on because they locked down in time. Nowhere yet as bad as the USA, but complacency on both governmental and personal levels seems to be responsible. In the UK, there has been a significant rise over the past week (and the number of cases detected by testing is several times less than the estimates of actual new cases) but at least the UK government has postponed some further relaxation. Parts of northern England have had new restrictions imposed, at very short notice the day before Eid (these areas have considerable Muslim populations), the claim is that trnasmission at present is largely intra-household, but it seems to me crazy to keep pubs and restaurants open. There’s a good summary of the European situation, regularly updated, here.

  241. says

    NBC Sports – “Eduardo Rodríguez out for the year due to an inflamed heart”:

    Boston Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez will miss the entire season because of heart inflammation caused by COVID-19.

    He has been on the injured list since mid-July and has not pitched this season.

    “In the course of monitoring Eduardo after his return, we discovered that he was showing evidence of myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart, and fortunately, the severity of that complication looked mild,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said before Saturday night’s game against the Yankees.

    “We were optimistic that it would resolve in short order and that we would be progressing back to pitching. As we’ve continued to monitor it, it has not resolved. It is still there,” he said.

    Rodríguez was a career-best 19-6 last year with a 3.81 ERA. The Red Sox said July 7 the the 27-year-old had tested positive for COVID-19. He returned July 18, but the team said five says later that an MRI revealed an issue that turned out to be the heart condition.

    “We are confident that he is going to make a full recovery and that his long-term prognosis is excellent,” Bloom said. “But the fact of the matter is that there just isn’t enough time left this season to safely ramp him back up to pitching.”

    Bloom five times described the condition was “mild.” Boston received the medical update Friday night and Rodríguez told his teammates during a Zoom call on Saturday.

    “Here’s one of the best pitchers in the game last year and he’s not able to perform on the field,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “You’re more at risk when you’re older, but it hits the young pretty hard, too, at times. And Eddie just, unfortunately, is one of those guys that it hit hard, and to get to lose an entire season, it’s pretty rough on anybody.”

    Rather than travel with the team, Rodríguez will return to his home in Florida.

    “While the heart is is affected like this, we just can’t responsibly put any this kind of cardiovascular load on him,” Bloom said. “So once it once it resolves, we’ll be able to progress him back.”

    He expects Rodríguez will make a full recovery.

    “This case, while it’s something that is persistent, is not something that has that has impacted or damaged the functioning of his heart,” Bloom said. “Now myocarditis following COVID, it is obviously not something that the medical community has a lot of data on because the virus itself is new, much less in an athlete.”

  242. says

    A few podcast recommendations:

    Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes – “REVISITED The Information Crisis with David Roberts”:

    How did wearing a mask become a polarizing issue? If you’re paying close attention, the arguments against masks might sound familiar: denying the science, cherry-picking data, cries of infringing on personal freedoms. It’s a page out of the Republican establishment’s playbook for weaponizing climate change denial. Back in 2018, Chris spoke with Vox writer David Roberts about the crisis of information cultivated by the current conservative movement and it’s a conversation that seems, if possible, more relevant than ever.

    I probably linked to this back in 2018. It’s excellent.

    Pod Save America – “99 days to the election (with Mehdi Hasan)”:

    The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan joins to discuss the state of the presidential campaign now that we’re less than 100 days out, how COVID reached deep into the White House and forced major changes to Trump’s campaign, the latest with COVID relief in Congress, how Trump’s message went from calling Biden soft on China to member of Antifa, and how the media can learn from the mistakes of 2016. Then Jon F. interviews Mother Jones’ Ari Berman about voting during the pandemic.

    Slate Trumpcast – “Our Interview with Mary Trump”:

    Virginia Heffernan talks to Mary L. Trump, niece of Donald Trump and author of Too Much and Never Enough, going further into family stories from the book and insights into the Trump family, Donald Trump’s enablers and inability to laugh, his weird sexuality, and iceberg lettuce.

  243. says

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

    From there:

    India’s interior minister Amit Shah said on Sunday he had tested positive for coronavirus and had been admitted to hospital.

    Amit Shah, a close aide to prime minister Narendra Modi and one of the country’s most powerful politicians, heads a key ministry that has been at the forefront of managing India’s coronavirus outbreak.

    “I request all of you who came in contact with me in the last few days to isolate yourselves and get tested,” Shah said in a tweet.

    Their summary:

    India has reported nearly 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and the Philippines recorded another daily high to surpass 100,000 total infections, while Florida braced for a tropical storm that threatened to hamper anti-disease efforts. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned that the coronavirus pandemic would be lengthy and could lead to “response fatigue”, as the case count in South Africa topped half a million.

    Residents in the Australian city of Melbourne will be subject to an overnight curfew for the next six weeks, and be banned from travelling more than 5km to go shopping or to exercise, as Victoria attempts to get the number of new coronavirus cases under control. The premier, Daniel Andrews, announced that from 6pm on Sunday, residents in the Melbourne metropolitan area would be under curfew for six weeks until 13 September.

    There are nearly 18 million known coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, with 17,853,948 confirmed. Just over 685,000 deaths have been confirmed so far.

    In the UK, prime minister Boris Johnson is considering new lockdown measures in England should there be a second wave of coronavirus infections. Plans are being assessed after a rise in Covid-19 cases forced the prime minister to slow the lockdown easing on Friday, with proposed relaxations for the leisure and beauty sectors delayed.

    Donald Trump claims Anthony Fauci ‘wrong’ about cause of Covid-19 surge. Donald Trump launched an extraordinary attack on his own top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, arguing against the doctor’s claim that high rates of infection in the US stem from a less aggressive reaction to the virus in terms of economic shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.

  244. says

    KG @ #379, thanks for the European update link. The northeastern US, where I am, is pretty much the only part of the US that’s doing OK right now, but there are similar issues with complacency (which I don’t get, since we were hit hard in the spring) and people coming in from other regions. I’m watching the numbers pretty obsessively.

    From Boston 25 – “Researchers warn New Englanders of coronavirus wave spreading up the East Coast”:

    A Philadelphia epidemiologist tracking an uptick in coronavirus cases spreading north along the East Coast is warning New England and Mid-Atlantic residents a COVID-19 resurgence could be coming.

    Researchers at PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have been mapping the country’s coronavirus cases by county and forecasting each area’s projected cases for the next four weeks. Experts have found a clear pattern of growth along the East Coast as summer travelers and vacationers venture north.

    “We all know about what’s going on in Florida in the south,” Rubin said, referring to the current virus hot zone. “But we’ve been watching basically this wave sweep up the Mid-Atlantic and the East Coast. A couple weeks ago, we were talking about North Carolina and South Carolina, and then very quickly now Maryland and Virginia have been subsumed.”

    That wave has reached Rubin’s city of Philadelphia, he said, prompting local leaders to shut down schools for the academic year ahead. Students will begin classes in the fall online only.

    That could be Massachusetts’ fate, too, Rubin said, if the transmission rate continues its climb.

    Rubin pointed to an uptick on Cape Cod. In Chatham, at least 13 people have tested positive after attending a house party with as many as 50 people. Eight Falmouth lifeguards also tested positive for the virus following another party.

    Transmission rates are increasing not only due to travelers from the South, but also Massachusetts residents choosing low-risk local destinations, like Cape Cod and the islands, and packing beaches and gathering spots.

    Compounding the problem is the return of college students to New England schools, Rubin said.

    “We had thought that there was going to be a big surge in maybe October, November, but it looks like some of this wave is starting to come in now,” Rubin said….

    Massachusetts’ drastic measures to curb the spread, including closing businesses, limiting large gatherings, keeping physical distance and wearing masks, were successful in decreasing coronavirus cases, Rubin said. While Rubin doesn’t believe another shut-down is necessary, he urges New Englanders to continue taking precautions.

    “It’s still early, but I think what happens is people get complacent, and they think, ‘Our positivity rates are down, we’re doing pretty well, we’re pretty safe,’” Rubin said….

    Now is not the time for eschewing masks or vacationing in the Carolinas or throwing house parties or packing anywhere or flocking anywhere. I’m gobsmacked that anyplace would have indoor dining or pubs/bars open, nor do I think in-person schooling should resume in the fall. The scariest thing is that, in contrast to what happened here when cases surged, the South isn’t in lockdown. I know people in Florida who are basically going about their normal business. In Florida!

  245. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Nerd of Redhead@376,377
    That is odd, because the main thing that has been emphasized by agency management has been the need to mask and maintain social distancing during the re-opening. Center guidance says specifically: “Note that face coverings are mandatory for all in common areas around the center.”

  246. says

    In the map at KG’s link @ #379, you can see a major outbreak in Romania. Politico reports:

    “Disinformation fuels Romania’s coronavirus spike”:

    In Romania, COVID-19 conspiracy theories have entered the mainstream, and they are costing lives.

    Across Europe, countries are contending with an upsurge in infections as rigid controls on gatherings have been relaxed and people return from summer getaways. But in Romania, a coronavirus spike is being fueled by disinformation, conspiracy theories and suspected Russian-backed propaganda.

    National television stations have been broadcasting anti-vaccine and corona-skeptic messages from prominent campaigners and politicians, sowing doubt about preventive measures among the population and contributing to a rise in the number of infections, according to a top government official and two experts.

    Since July 22 Romania has logged over 1,000 new confirmed infections per day, with the number of patients in intensive care also rising. The country brought in local lockdowns and several local authorities mandated mask-wearing in all public places, hoping to reverse the trend. The government has warned against giving credence to unofficial sources spreading misinformation about the virus.

    “We have had several types of disinformation campaigns,” Raed Arafat, the head of the Romanian government’s Department for Emergency Situations, and one of the country’s top civil servants involved in the response to the pandemic, told POLITICO. These campaigns range from online articles and social media posts, to “attacking any person, including officials who publicly wrote any information to warn the population about what to do,” Arafat said.

    “We also had very well-financed campaigns from some who wanted to appear publicly to defy our recommendations, targeting young people to convince them to stop wearing masks,” he said.

    “Some people appeared in the mass-media with opinions that lacked scientific basis, including doctors who are not specialized in COVID-related fields, arguing against preventive measures.”

    The current spike can be attributed to disinformation “at least partially,” said Arafat.

    “All of this taken together definitely had an impact on the population, creating confusion and recruiting a number of people who stopped following the rules, stopped wearing masks and began propagating conspiracy theories. From here we of course end up with a wider virus spread through the community because the rules aren’t followed,” he added.

    Some of the disinformation can be traced back to Russian state-backed media organizations, said one expert.

    “Those who construct these disinformation campaigns are state actors as well as a multitude of local ones,” said Corina Rebegea, director for democratic resilience at the Center for European Policy Analysis. Rebegea pointed to Russia’s media organization Sputnik and to several ultra-nationalist and anti-vaccination groups in Romania, which have been promoting conspiracy theories about the virus since the onset of the pandemic.

    Rebegea said Romanian politicians are also “playing an irresponsible game” by amplifying and giving weight to online disinformation about the coronavirus in order to damage the government.

    “Messages that minimize the effects of the coronavirus are taken up by mainstream politicians and commentators,” Rebegea said. “It seems to be very dangerous in Romania, because we are seeing a model that is characteristic of the Balkans, where the penetration of Russian propaganda is deeper,” she said.

    The local edition of Russia’s website Sputnik has promoted street demonstrations against government safety measures and has repeatedly suggested the effects of the virus had been exaggerated by the government.

    A large minority of Romania’s population is susceptible to disinformation both on- and offline, said Nicolae Țîbrigan, an analyst at the Laboratory for the Analysis of Informational Warfare and Strategic Communication (LARICS), citing a study in April that showed 41 percent of Romanians believed COVID-19 was a U.S.-made biological weapon.

    Compared with most European countries, the number is high, said the expert, but compared to neighboring Central and Eastern states it is unexceptional. Low levels of trust in accredited news media and in state authorities are part of the reason more Romanians turn to conspiracy theories, he said.

    “Polls suggest that the people who are predisposed to believe these conspiracy theories are also at higher risk of getting sick with COVID-19,” Țîbrigan said in an email. “Unfortunately the negligence of this category of people who are credulous toward internet lies is putting their own lives and the lives of those around them in danger.”

  247. says

    Excerpts from the Washington Post link mentioned by SC in comment 391, “How the Trump campaign came to court QAnon, the online conspiracy movement identified by the FBI as a violent threat.”

    Outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, Kayleigh McEnany raised a microphone to a mega-fan and asked what it felt like to be acknowledged by President Trump at his February rally in Sin City.

    […] McEnany nodded as the supporter said the shout-out was most meaningful because of the words on the shirt he was wearing, which he read aloud: “Where we go one, we go all,” the motto of QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe Trump is battling a cabal of deep-state saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex.

    McEnany, who has since become the White House press secretary, continued, asking the supporter, “If you could say one thing to the president, what would you say?”

    “Who is Q?” he replied, inquiring about the mysterious online figure behind the baseless theory. McEnany smiled and said, “Okay, well, I will pass all of this along.”

    […] Trump and his campaign have courted and legitimized QAnon adherents.

    The viral online movement, which took root on Internet message boards in the fall of 2017 with posts from a self-proclaimed government insider identified as “Q,” has triggered violent acts and occasional criminal cases. […]

    As the worldview took shape online, its followers flocked to Trump rallies with QAnon apparel and placards. Recently, as the election has drawn closer, actions by the president and his associates have brought them more directly into the fold.

    The Trump campaign’s director of press communications, for example, went on a QAnon program […] QAnon iconography has appeared in official campaign advertisements targeting battleground states. And the White House’s director of social media and deputy chief of staff for communications, Dan Scavino, has gone from endorsing praise from QAnon accounts to posting their memes himself.

    [Trump shared] their tweets more than a dozen times on Fourth of July alone. His middle son, Eric, [posted]] an image drumming up support for his father’s Tulsa rally that included a giant “Q” and the text, “Where we go one, we go all.”

    The apparent convergence of Trump’s inner circle with an ever-widening cohort of QAnon believers is alarming to scholars of extremism and digital communications […] Even more worrisome, these observers say, is that the president’s messaging is increasingly indistinguishable from some key elements of the conspiracy theory.

    The erroneous ideas defining QAnon — that Trump is a messianic figure fighting the so-called deep state, that he alone can be trusted, that his opponents include both Democrats and Republicans complicit in years of wrongdoing and that his rivals are not just misguided but criminal and illegitimate — represent core tenets of the president’s reelection campaign, especially as his poll numbers slump.

    Meanwhile, the salvation envisioned by QAnon believers, including military takeover and mass arrests of Democrats, rhymes with the president’s vow to use the armed forces to “dominate.” They back his endorsement of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that has not been proved to prevent coronavirus infection, and cast skeptics, including Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, as a deep-state plant.

    […] The oft-mutating QAnon philosophy has captured the imagination of a new corps of pro-Trump congressional candidates, about a dozen of whom have already secured spots on the ballot in November […] Among them is Angela Stanton-King, a Republican House candidate in Georgia who served two years in prison for her role in a car-theft ring but whose sentence was commuted by Trump in February. A month later, she posted a popular QAnon video on Instagram, writing of the president, “This would explain why they tried so hard to make us hate him.” She has since posted repeatedly about the scourge of pedophilia, a fixation of the QAnon movement.

    In an interview, she said, “People have a right to look into information and do their own research.” Her research has led her to misguided beliefs about the coronavirus, including that the pandemic represents a “political game, to make it seem like the economy has crashed.” […]

    Individuals who had posted in support of QAnon or otherwise expressed their devotion to it, according to police, have been arrested in at least 10 incidents, including two murders, a kidnapping, vandalism of a church and a heavily armed standoff near the Hoover Dam. […]

    […] aspects of the conspiracy theory are filtering up to conservative websites, as well as to the pro-Trump One America News and Fox News. […]

    Recent ads from Trump’s reelection campaign have included shots of supporters with QAnon paraphernalia […] A spot in Arizona showed a still of a man in a similar shirt carrying a World War II veteran into an arena. The man posed for a photo with Donald Trump Jr. at a recent event, according to material later uploaded to Facebook. […]

    The inclusion of QAnon symbols in official campaign media, previously unreported, sent shock waves through the QAnon community, whose primary aim is to be noticed by Trump. The ads racked up thousands of comments on YouTube, where users with QAnon references in their accounts seized on the fleeting visuals to declare victory.[…]

    Sometimes, the signaling from the campaign is less subtle. Last fall, Erin Perrine, director of press communications for Trump’s reelection campaign, went on Patriots’ Soapbox, a show on YouTube and other platforms devoted to QAnon coverage. […]

    Neither Perrine nor her hosts mentioned QAnon directly during the interview, but their discussion was studded with references to the conspiracy theory, including mention of the “insurgency from within” and remarks about Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, who is central to the QAnon worldview. […]

    Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with a Russian diplomat in late 2016, recently recorded a video of himself repeating an oath originating on 8kun, a message board where Q, who claims high-level security clearance, posts esoteric references and half-baked ideas that followers call “bread crumbs.”

    “Where we go one, we go all,” intoned Flynn at the end of the oath […]

    During a conversation this month with Eric Trump, Jesse Watters [Fox News host], credited Q with having “uncovered a lot of great stuff,” saying later in a statement he does not “support or believe in” the conspiracy theory. In a pitch to potential guests, shared with The Washington Post by someone who received it, Fox characterized the segment this way: “Inside Twitter’s crackdown on QAnon — How the social media giant is engaging in election interference and shutting down free speech.”[…]

    The congressional candidates who put stock in the theory say its proximity to Trump makes it appealing. Flynn’s apparent endorsement — his move to swear his allegiance to QAnon — was decisive for some who had once only flirted with the theory. Theresa Raborn, a Republican House candidate in Illinois, said she had been on the fence, unable to “definitively debunk or definitively confirm.”

    “But when General Flynn posted that video, he’s a highly respected general and has been for decades, and he is very close to President Trump,” she said. “So I don’t think he would do that for a conspiracy theory, or at least logically that’s where I’m at. I don’t know if he has information about whether it’s a conspiracy theory or whether it’s real, but it seemed to give a lot of validity to people who support me who also happen to follow Q.” […]

    Flynn’s role is just as important to the supporter interviewed by McEnany in February. He described himself as “one of the digital soldiers General Flynn talks about.” […]

    Washington Post link

  248. says

    Samuel Chu:

    Today, I woke up to media reports that I am a wanted fugitive.

    My alleged crimes? “Inciting secession” & “colluding with foreign powers” under HK’s National Security Law.

    Except I am an American citizen & have been for 25 years.

    HK police is targeting a US citizen for lobbying my own gov’t. I might be the 1st non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last. If I am targeted, any American/any citizen of any nation who speaks out for HK can-and will be-too.

    We are all Hong Kongers now.

  249. says

    Belarus update:

    Thousands came to support Tsikhanouskaya in Brest. Authorities allowed the rally in the park, which can accommodate massive rallies. Many former paratroopers came with military flags and wore in the uniform. The song “Changes” by Viktor Tsoy is playing.

    Someone punctured the tires of Tikhanovskaya’s team car on the way from Baranavichy. There could be an accident. The arrival of the opposition trio was delayed for an hour and a half

    Tsikhanouskaya began her speech by mentioning the names of political prisoners, her husband, Siarhiej, and Aliaksandar Kabanau, the local blogger from Brest.Earlier today, in Baranavičy they mentioned local journalist Ihar Losik (@belamova) who faces a multi-year prison sentence.

    The pro-Lukashenka’s rally in neighboring Pinsk look much more modest. The problem of the regime is that it is not able to mobilize even the core audience. Belarus province si in deep poverty and disappointed with the ruler.

    Vieranika asked people to register at the virtual platforms (Desktop + Viber and Telegram chatbot) aimed to ensure alternative voices count and prevent falsifications. She also asked people not to participate in early voting because major manipulations are made there.

    Human Rights organizations counted 15 thousand attendees of the rally in support of Tsikhanouskaya in Brest. This is the most massive electoral rally ion the regions so far.

    Photos atl. The part about the paratroopers is wild. The setting is lovely – they’re like in a forest clearing.

  250. says

    From the link provided by SC in comment 378:

    […] The thrust of Feffer’s argument is twofold: First, that Trump is backed by an amalgam of forces, including “the bulk of conservative civil society,” and even if he’s defeated, Trumpism — the particular articulation he’s given to those forces — will survive the election and continue to be an existential threat. It “could succeed in finishing what Trump started — disuniting the country and destroying the democratic experiment — unless, that is, the United States were to undergo a thorough de-Trumpification.” […]

    Trump himself may be expendable, from the far right’s point of view, but Feffer writes that “Trumpism — which lies at the intersections of racial and sexual anxiety, hatred of government and the expert class, and opposition to cosmopolitan internationalism — is not so easily rooted out.[…]

    Second, Feffer argues that we must learn from the examples of the past, flawed though they might be in many ways, in order to do better. […]

    Two of the examples — Nazi Germany and Saddam’s Iraq — are classic examples of “pathocracies,” which I’ve written about before, and thus led me to reach out to two experts I’ve consulted in the past: Ian Hughes, the author of “Disordered Minds: How Dangerous Personalities Are Destroying Democracy,” and therapist Elizabeth Mika, who wrote perhaps the most politically crucial chapter of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” […]

    “Pathocracy is the situation where dangerously disordered personalities predominate in positions of power.” Hughes said. “Such individuals’ propensity for violence and greed, their incapacity for basic human empathy and their disordered perception and cognition, which renders them unable to ameliorate their distorted worldviews with reality and reason, mark them out as a danger to others.”  […]

    democratic recovery is extremely difficult, Hughes warns. He mentioned the example of Jared Diamond’s book “Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change,” which explores how countries have successfully navigated similar major upheavals in the past. “The lesson I drew from his book, however, and from history more broadly, is that nations seldom learn from their descent into pathocracy,” Hughes said  So he argued that a more limited, targeted approach is better than one that tries to change everything at once. […]

    America as “a place where bad ideas never die.” […] The ideas Hughes cited were that “inequality is good,” that “religious freedom [so-called] trumps public good,” that “in the Civil War, the wrong side won,” the myth of “American exceptionalism,” i.e., “the idea that the U.S. is a unique, morally-superior civilization destined to guide the world” and “the myth of redemptive violence,” meaning “the belief that good can triumph over evil only by means of conflict.” […]

    “Today’s Republicans, […] a true confederacy of dunces, cannot be allowed to persist in their current incarnation as a vehicle for Trumpism.” To avoid that, “the next administration would have to drain the swamp Trump created, bring criminal charges against the former president and his key followers, and launch a serious campaign to change the hearts and minds of Americans who have been drawn to this president’s agenda.” 

    To accomplish that, he concludes, “it’s imperative to separate the legitimate grievances of Trump supporters from the illegitimate ones,” and both must be addressed in different ways. 

    This is the strongest aspect of Feffer’s argument — which is not to say it will be easy to pull off. Bringing charges against Trump may well be justified on multiple grounds, but doing so itself threatens democratic norms: The winners don’t throw the losers in jail, not in fully-functioning healthy democracies. But “no one is above the law” is also a central norm — […] this needs to be carefully thought through, and a professional, non-political investigation into Trump’s actual or potential crimes will be required. […]

    “Vigorous action is required,” Hughes told me. “We need to make the distinction between the minority actively driving an authoritarian agenda, and supporters who are drawn to aspects of their agenda but who will not violently resist democratic decisions,” Hughes said. “The vast majority of Trump supporters are not violent and will accept Trump’s defeat, even as they organize and campaign for the election of someone who will pursue similar policies and similar means in 2024.”  […]

    Toward the end of his column, Feffer issued a warning: 

    To avoid a second Civil War, however, a second American Revolution would need to address the root causes of Trumpism, especially political corruption, deep-seated racism, and extreme economic inequality.

    Otherwise, even if The Donald loses this election, the political creature he represents will rise from the ashes and eventually return to power. […]

  251. says

    What!?

    “GOP Convention Bars Journalists For The First Time Ever”

    The vote to renominate […] Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, without members of the press present, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention, citing the coronavirus.

    While Trump called off the public components of the convention in Florida last month, citing spiking cases of the virus across the country, 336 delegates are scheduled to gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 24 to formally vote to make Trump the GOP standard-bearer once more.

    Nominating conventions are traditionally meant to be media bonanzas, as political parties seek to leverage the attention the events draw to spread their message to as many voters as possible. If the GOP decision stands, it will mark the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters.

    “Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed press Friday, August 21 – Monday, August 24,” a convention spokeswoman said. “We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.”

    The decision was first reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

    Privately some GOP delegations have raised logistical issues with traveling to either city, citing the increasing number of jurisdictions imposing mandatory quarantine orders on travelers returning from states experiencing surges in the virus.

    The subset of delegates in Charlotte will be casting proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 official delegates to the convention. Alternate delegates and guests have already been prohibited.

    TPM link