Comments

  1. blf says

    Teh loons in Spain strays mainly on teh plandemic (with apologies to My Fair Lady), Spaniards hold anti-mask protest in Madrid as Covid-19 cases rise:

    Chanting freedom, hundreds of people rallied Sunday in Madrid to protest against the mandatory use of facemasks and other restrictions imposed by the Spanish government to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

    […]

    The demonstration drew a variety of attendees, including conspiracy theorists, libertarians and opponents of vaccination.

    Pilar Martin, a 58-year-old housewife from the northeastern city of Zaragoza, said she had come to Madrid for the rally because she believed governments around the world were exaggerating the number of infections to curb people’s freedoms.

    They are forcing us to use a mask, they want us to stay home practically locked up. It’s obvious that they are continuously tricking us with talk of outbreaks. It’s all a lie, she told AFP at the rally.

    A number of participants cited a slickly edited documentary [sic] dubbed Plandemic […].

    Many protesters did not wear a mask even though it is required by law in public across Spain […].

    […]

    The protest comes two days after the government announced new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of discos and a ban on smoking in public areas when it is not possible to keep at least two metres from other people.

  2. blf says

    ‘Resign!’: Alexander Lukashenko heckled by factory workers in Minsk:

    Embattled Belarus president looked shaken as people yelled ‘liar’ in fresh blow to regime

    […]

    The visit to the the state-owned MZKT military vehicles factory on Monday was meant to show the Belarusian president was still in control and retained the support of workers at the vast factories that are the backbone of the country’s neo-Soviet economy, a day after the biggest rally in the country’s recent history against his rule.

    Instead, leaked video and audio from his speech to selected workers at the factory showed him being met with shouts of “Resign!” Lukashenko looked shaken but carried on speaking, as people yelled “liar!”. […]

    That rather reminds me of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s last speech in Romania:

    […] Ceaușescu was out of touch with his people and completely misread the crowd’s mood. The [audience] remained unresponsive, and only the front rows supported Ceaușescu with cheers and applause. About two minutes into the speech, some in the crowd began to jeer, boo, whistle and yell insults at him, a reaction unthinkable for most of his rule. Workers from a Bucharest power plant started chanting “Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!”, which was soon picked up by others in the crowd. In response, Ceaușescu raised his right hand in hopes of silencing the crowd; his stunned expression remains one of the defining moments of the end of Communism in Eastern Europe. […]

  3. blf says

    EU calls leaders to emergency summit to support Belarus people:

    […]
    The president of the European council, Charles Michel, has invited the European Union’s 27 heads of state and government to an extraordinary meeting by video conference on Wednesday. “The people of Belarus have the right to decide on their future and freely elect their leader,” Michel tweeted. “Violence against protesters is unacceptable and cannot be allowed.”

    […] Joerg Forbrig, director for central and eastern Europe at the German Marshall Fund thinktank[, …] said: “The EU needs to make it very clear to Russia that there are ways of resolving this peacefully. It needs to make it absolutely clear that the Russian appearance in this situation, or even an invasion in Belarus of some sort, would carry consequences.” The analyst suggested the EU needed to step in with an offer of conducting dialogue that includes Russia, via the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    The OSCE, a body that counts EU member states and Russia as members, said it was not invited to monitor the latest elections in Belarus.

    […]

  4. blf says

    Why Germany would be especially happy to see the back of Trump:

    The competence embodied in Merkel provokes loathing from the US president [sic]

    Donald Trump has declared war on Germany. In a manner of speaking. Europe’s most important country, potentially America’s most valuable partner, has in the mind of the president [sic] become an adversary. Of all Trump’s many foreign policy disasters, this is perhaps his most significant.

    In late July, it was announced that retired army colonel Douglas Macgregor […] would become the next ambassador to Berlin. Macgregor is a regular contributor to Trump’s favourite channel of information, Fox News. He has variously suggested that the US border guard should shoot people if they tried to enter illegally from Mexico; described eastern Ukrainians as Russians; defended Serbia’s actions against a Muslim drug mafia in Kosovo; and criticised Germany for giving millions of unwanted Muslim invaders welfare benefits rather than providing more funding for its armed services.

    Most painfully for his new hosts, Macgregor seems to have sided with the far right in talking down Nazi crimes. He described the concept of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with history), which has underpinned culture and politics since the war, as a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany.

    Germany has only existed as a single country since 1871 (and no, I’m not forgetting it was split in two for decades after WW ][). And, according to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, “A region named Germania was documented before AD 100.” About 1500 years ago was when the Kingdom of the Franks (Francia) was established, in c.496 CE: “It is the predecessor of the modern states of France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.” So in addition to being a nazi, one of hair furor’s bestestinger peoplewannabe-dalek, a bigot and liar, this kook-for-ambassador misrepresents documented history.

    […]
    From the outset, Trump loathed Merkel. She represents everything he is not. On the international stage, she respects interlocutors who do their preparation and don’t spring surprises. She disdains his visceral vulgarity. The leader who let in a million of the world’s most destitute in 2015 refuses to be cowed by a bigot and bully.

    She couldn’t be accused of not trying to get along. In March 2017, two months into his administration, she flew to Washington for their first meeting. She prepped assiduously. She studied a 1990 Playboy interview that had become a set text on Trumpism for policymakers. She read his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal. She even watched episodes of his TV show, The Apprentice.

    It started badly. She offered him a handshake in the Oval Office in front of the cameras. He didn’t take it. Her studied lack of emotion and her deeply analytical mind were anathema to him. Her aides say she learned to explain complicated problems to him by reducing them to bite-size chunks. He read this as high-handedness.

    Trump has a track record of misogyny and some cite this as the reason for his dislike. Others put it down to a narcissistic resentment of praise conferred on others. When she was chosen as Time magazine’s person of the year in 2015, he said: They picked the person who is ruining Germany. What particularly upset him was the magazine calling her chancellor of the free world. What Merkel did to Germany, it’s a sad, sad shame.

    Yet this same woman, who from a young age dreamed of driving across the American plains and adored Ronald Reagan for freeing the world (and her native GDR) from communism, is by instinct a staunch Atlanticist.

    […]

    The German foreign policy establishment is clinging to the hope that Trump will be defeated in November. A Biden presidency would not remove all the tensions, but it would signal that the US was moving back towards the diplomatic mainstream. The country that personifies the mainstream would have reason to celebrate.

  5. blf says

    There’s a long article in the Grauniad about Louis Dejoy, Louis DeJoy: is Trump’s new post office chief trying to rig the election? Some snippets:

    […] DeJoy’s appointment represents the culmination of a years-long attempt by the Trump administration to gain control over the USPS: earlier this year the president [sic] also filled two vacancies on the agency’s board of governors with agency outsiders, giving him complete control over the regulatory body.

    Whilst writing / calling the board members might help, that makes it seem unlikely they will do anything useful.

    According to financial disclosures obtained by CNN, DeJoy still maintains a large stake in XPO Logistics, and owns large amounts of Amazon stock, creating two glaring conflicts of interest for a man leading a government agency that competes with both companies in some areas. Outside ethics experts called the disclosures “shocking”.

    DeJoy has also enrolled about 400 post offices in a pilot program that prohibits postal clerks from hand-sorting the morning’s mail before letter carriers leave the station to deliver it. Any letters that were not automatically sorted by the station’s machinery are simply left at the station and delivered on some future day, if the carriers get around to it. The union that represents letter carriers has filed a national-level grievance against the program, saying the program unduly restricts carriers’ ability to get the mail out.

    [… F]or employees like Mark, the postal carrier in Pennsylvania, whose station is taking part in the pilot program, the changes have only led to the massive mail buildup and weeks-long delays. He said he now doubts that the USPS can ensure accuracy in the upcoming election, especially in his home state, which Trump carried by about 40,000 votes in the 2016 election.

    “If you asked me a month ago can the postal service handle an influx of mail-in ballots, I would have said, ‘We’ve been through two world wars and a depression, we’ve been doing this for more than 200 years,’” he said.

    “Now, I’m not so sure.”

    According to CNN, Financial disclosures reveal postmaster general’s business entanglements and likely conflicts of interest, experts say (link embedded in second snippet):

    Outside experts who spoke to CNN were shocked that ethics officials at the postal service approved this arrangement, which allows DeJoy to keep at least $30 million in XPO holdings.

    […]

    Raising further alarms, on the same day in June that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price, according to the disclosures.

    This could lead to a separate conflict, given President [sic] Donald Trump’s disdain for Amazon, and his reported effort in 2018 to pressure DeJoy’s predecessor to raise prices on Amazon and other firms, while complaining about its founder Jeff Bezos. The Treasury Department also recently struck a loan deal with USPS that gives the Trump administration more leverage to push for higher shipping prices — one of his pet projects.

    Much more at both links.

  6. blf says

    USPS crisis: Democrats urge FBI to open criminal inquiry into postmaster general:

    […]
    “There is evidence that making mail-in balloting more difficult may be one of the motivations for the changes instituted at the Post Office,” Ted Lieu of California and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, both Democrats, wrote in a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray.

    The letter referred to reports that postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a mega-donor to Donald Trump, and the USPS board of governors “have [delayed†] the passage of mail”. Evidence suggests actions have been taken “to affect mail-in balloting or was motivated by personal financial reasons”, the letter said.

    […]

      † I think the word they actually used is triggering poopyhead’s filter.

    And from the Grauniad’s current blithering bumbling wannabe-dalek live blog:

    Donald Trump called into Fox News this morning [… and bellowed] he was going to make the post office great again, but did not identify how he would do that. Instead, he spoke about Amazon and how they use the postal system to send products they sell. He did not announce plans to address his concerns about Amazon, either.

    Trump was asked about concerns that he won’t leave office if he loses the November election.

    The first thing I think of is crooked Hillary Clinton, Trump said. He then repeatedly criticized Clinton and did not address the initial question.

    […]

    Trump then lied about China’s ability to stop the spread of, presumably, the coronavirus. He described it as the plague.

    […]

    As others have pointed out, he and his dalekocrazy, and teh other thugs, are probably trying to distract from this week’s dummie virtual convention.

  7. blf says

    A snippet from the Grauniad’s current blithering bumbling wanna-delak live blog:

    While Trump is traveling, his re-election has arranged for a sweeping digital ad buy that could reach $10 million, a campaign official said.

    Trump’s campaign will take over the banner of YouTube for 96 hours starting on Tuesday, and will put ads up on the home pages of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and FoxNews.com.

    The full entry is on how hair furor, teh dalekocrazy, and teh thugs, are planning on disrupting teh dummie virtual convention. (What’s not mentioned is cyber-attacks on the convention itself — that possibility is speculation on my part.)

  8. blf says

    Also from the Grauniad’s current blithering bumbling wannabe-dalek live blog:

    [US intelligence] suggests Iran paid bounties to the Taliban for targeting Americans

    CNN have reports this morning that US intelligence indicates Iran paid bounties to the Taliban for targeting American troops in Afghanistan.

    US intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for targeting American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, identifying payments linked to at least six attacks carried out by the militant group just last year alone, including a suicide bombing at a US air base in December, CNN has learned.

    “Bounties” were paid by a foreign government, identified to CNN as Iran, to the Haqqani network — a terrorist group that is led by the second highest ranking leader of the Taliban — for their attack on Bagram Air Base on December 11, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70 others, including four US personnel, according to a Pentagon briefing document reviewed by CNN.

    We know from his own words that commander-in-chief [sic] Donald Trump has not raised the issue of allegations that Russian bounties were paid to the Taliban directly with Vladimir Putin. I’m not entirely sure we can expect the same restraint on an issue like this when it comes to Iran.

    CNN’s article, US intelligence indicates Iran paid bounties to Taliban for targeting American troops in Afghanistan.

  9. johnson catman says

    re blf @10:

    I’m not entirely sure we can expect the same restraint on an issue like this when it comes to Iran.

    I would entirely expect the response to be the exact opposite of how the issue with Russia was treated. I would be surprised if he didn’t try to use it as an excuse for military action against Iran.

  10. says

    Thanks, everyone, for all of the weekend updates.

    NYT – “Pelosi to Recall House for Postal Service Vote as Democrats Press for DeJoy to Testify”:

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced on Sunday that she would call the House back from its annual summer recess for a vote this week on legislation to block changes at the Postal Service that voting advocates warn could disenfranchise Americans casting ballots by mail during the pandemic.

    The announcement came after the White House chief of staff on Sunday signaled openness to providing emergency funding to help the agency handle a surge in mail-in ballots, and as Democratic state attorneys general said that they were exploring legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service.

    The moves underscored rising concern across the country over the integrity of the November election and how the Postal Service will handle as many as 80 million ballots cast by Americans worried about venturing to polling stations because of the coronavirus. President Trump has repeatedly derided mail voting as vulnerable to fraud, without evidence, and the issue had become a prominent sticking point in negotiations over the next round of coronavirus relief.

    The House was not scheduled to return for votes until Sept. 14, but is now expected to consider a Postal Service bill as soon as Saturday, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the plans. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, is expected to announce the final schedule on Monday.

    “Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy are under threat from the president,” Ms. Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week.”

    The abrupt return to Washington was announced just hours after Democrats called on top Postal Service officials to testify on Capitol Hill this month about recent policies that they warned pose “a grave threat to the integrity of the election.” It also demonstrates the growing alarm over changes the Postal Service is enforcing under its leader, Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general and a Trump megadonor, less than three months before a general election. Some of the changes, which Mr. DeJoy describes as cost-cutting measures, include ending overtime pay and the removal or transfer of some sorting machines.

    The move also increases political pressure on Republican senators facing competitive re-election in rural states like Montana and Alaska that are heavily mail dependent, some of which have already expressed unease with delays in mail delivery. (Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, called on the Senate to return and act on a coronavirus relief package that included funding for the agency.) It is unclear whether the Senate will take up the legislation, which would require the agency to maintain current service standards until Jan. 1, 2021, or until after the pandemic is over.

    Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, demanded on Sunday that Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, bring senators back to Capitol Hill to take up the House measure that he said in a statement “will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service.”

    “The postmaster general and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election,” top Democrats said in a joint statement on Sunday. Mr. DeJoy had been scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee in late September, and lawmakers have already requested information about the changes.

    But Ms. Pelosi and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, pressed for Mr. DeJoy and Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, to testify on Aug. 24. Mr. Schumer and Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said Senate Democrats had begun investigating the slowdown in mail deliveries. Mr. Peters urged his Republican counterpart, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, to hold a similar hearing.

    A coalition of Democratic attorneys general are also considering suing the administration over the implications of recent policy changes at the Postal Service for the November election. Washington State is expected to be the first to file this week, and Pennsylvania and New York are likely to follow, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

    “We are going to make sure that every American’s vote counts this fall, whether cast by mail or in person,” said Mark R. Herring, the attorney general of Virginia, one of the states considering legal action. “My colleagues and I are working as we speak to determine what Trump and DeJoy are doing, whether they have already violated or are likely to violate any laws, and what tools we have at our disposal to put a stop to President Trump’s ongoing attack on our Postal Service and our democracy.”

    The changes under Mr. DeJoy, who has significant financial interests in the Postal Service’s rivals and contractors, in addition to Mr. Trump’s frequent attacks on the agency, have prompted concerns about its politicization. Since his appointment in May, Mr. DeJoy has put in place cost-cutting measures that he says are intended to overhaul an agency beleaguered by billion-dollar losses.

    Mr. Trump, for his part, has assailed the service near daily, baselessly claiming that the election could be riddled with fraud if voting by mail is widely used. (He also requested an absentee ballot in Florida, public records show.) He has made clear that he opposes providing additional relief to the agency, though he said he would not veto an economic stimulus package over such funding.

    Protesters in Washington called over the weekend for the resignation of the postmaster general, saying changes under his purview had jeopardized people’s ability to vote.

    About 100 people gathered outside Mr. DeJoy’s apartment complex on Saturday, according to videos posted on social media. Banging spoons on pots, blaring horns and chanting “resign” in the wealthy residential neighborhood of Kalorama, many in the group were wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

    Posts on social media also showed protesters delivering fake absentee ballots to the entrance of Mr. DeJoy’s building, cluttering the glass front doors with folded sheets of paper that read: “Save the post office. Save our democracy.”

    Rep. Jim Cooper from Tennessee was interviewed on MSNBC this morning and floated having DeJoy arrested if he didn’t comply with a congressional subpoena.

  11. says

    Here’s a link to the August 17 Guardian (support the Guardian if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    One of the more familiar tropes of coronavirus: sceptic goes to crowded place to protest against coronavirus restrictions, sceptic gets coronavirus. The latest episode is via the Associated Press:

    A conservative pastor in South Korea who has been a bitter critic of the country’s president has tested positive for the coronavirus, health authorities said Monday, two days after he participated in an anti-government protest in Seoul that drew thousands.

    More than 300 virus cases have been linked to the Rev Jun Kwang-hun’s huge church in northern Seoul, which has emerged as a major cluster of infections amid growing fears of a massive outbreak in the greater capital region.

    Officials are concerned that the virus’ spread could worsen after thousands of demonstrators, including Jun and members of his Sarang Jeil church, marched in downtown Seoul on Saturday despite pleas from officials to stay home.

    Jang Shi-hwa, a disease control expert in Seoul’s southern Gwangak district, said Jun was tested Monday morning at an area hospital, which later reported to her office that he had tested positive but did not exhibit any symptoms. Jun was seen smiling and talking on his cellphone, with his mask pulled down his chin, as he boarded an ambulance that took him to a different hospital in Seoul for isolated treatment.

    South Korea reported 197 new cases of the virus on Monday, the fourth straight day of triple-digit increases. Most of the new cases in the past few days have come from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people.

    Churches have been a constant source of infections, with many failing to require worshipers to wear masks, or allowing them to sing in choirs or eat together.

    Health workers have so far linked 319 infections to Juns church after completing tests on about 2,000 of its 4,000 members. Police are pursuing some 700 church members who remain out of contact.

    Vice health minister Kim Gang-lip urged anyone who participated in the weekend protest to come forward for testing if they experience fever or other symptoms. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there’s concern that the outbreak at the church could spread nationwide through its members’ activities.

    “We believe we are in the early stage of a major outbreak,” she said.

    During Saturday’s protest, Jun, who is known for provocative speeches that are often filled with bizarre claims, said the outbreak at his church was a result of an attack, accusing an unspecified opponent of pouring the virus on to the church.

  12. blf says

    Soon there won’t be anyone left [teh NKofE] government hasn’t blamed for its mistakes:

    […]
    As a second peak of Covid-19 infections looms, one thing is certain: the Conservative party is dedicating itself to what it does best — crafting a narrative that blames everyone else for its mistakes.

    […]

    Led by a shallow prime minister, populated by careerists and directed by a grandiose and sophomoric special adviser, the government at present is fashioned towards ruling — not governing. But it’s not lack of qualification alone that has produced its incompetence. The defining feature of today’s Conservative party is indifference to the outcomes of its failed policies — none of which it has been seriously punished for.

    The gutting of the state, the impoverishment and deaths caused by austerity, the chaos of Brexit and the global embarrassment that has been its pandemic response are failures that should have brought an end to its tenure. But the party has developed one skill: avoiding consequences by way of constructing false enemies — immigrants, welfare scroungers, the European Union. It has achieved this herd impunity with the help of a credulous and oftentimes knowingly complicit media.

    When faced with the actual task of governing during a real crisis, not a confected one, the government has flailed, U-turned and contradicted itself. Throughout it has stuck competently and consistently to its one principle — never apologise, never explain, always blame someone else.

    […]

    And everything is about to get worse. What lies ahead is the diversionary plan to make the British public accountable for the government’s failures. The seeds for this deception were planted during the pandemic’s first act. We were to “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives”, and then later “stay alert, control the virus and save lives”. Cabinet ministers rolled out these staccato orders to us whenever they were cornered on the detail of their policies, as if the entire success or failure of the pandemic response hinged only on public observance and not the government’s decisions.

    The seeds are flourishing. The Conservatives want us to believe that their efforts were thwarted by a mass exercise in national sabotage by irresponsible individuals, by black and ethnic minority communities allegedly not observing its rules, by badly run old people’s homes, even by the poor advice of its own scientists.

    […]

  13. says

    #UK government does not accept the results of the 9 August election in Belarus, which was rigged and its results fabricated. UK joins the #EU position:…”

    Five major groups of the European Parliament @Europarl_EN, representing 506 out of 705 MEPs, announced that they did not recognise the outcome of the 9 Aug presidential election in #Belarus.

    This delegitimatises Lukashenka’s administration for he #EU:…”

    Video of blf’s #3 above:

    “Thanks, I’ve now said everything. You can shout ‘Leave!’”

    “LEAVE! LEAVE! LEAVE! LEAVE!”

  14. says

    More re Belarus – Guardian – “Tens of thousands gather in Minsk for biggest protest in Belarus history”:

    Tens of thousands of Belarusians have gathered in Minsk for the biggest protest in the country’s history, as an extraordinary week of rising sentiment comes to a close.

    Seven days after the country’s authoritarian ruler, Alexander Lukashenko, claimed to have secured 80% of the vote in a presidential election, his legitimacy is in tatters and his regime faces its biggest crisis since he came to power 26 years ago. The mood at Sunday’s rally was stoked further by egregious police violence against thousands of protesters earlier in the week.

    After Lukashenko called his own rally in Independence Square, the anti-government protesters instead converged on a second world war monument in another part of the city. The carnival atmosphere of the last three days continued, as people cheered, passing cars beeped their horns, and chants of “Resign!” rang out.

    Maria Kolesnikova, one of a trio of female opposition leaders including presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, told a small part of the crowd through a portable speaker that she was appealing to Belarusian law enforcement officials and diplomats: “This is your last chance to fight your fear. We were all scared too. Join us and we will support you.”

    The protest came as the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, told Lukashenko in a phone call on Sunday that Moscow stood ready to provide help in accordance with a collective military pact if necessary.

    The Kremlin said in a statement that external pressure was being applied to Belarus. It did not say by whom.

    Lukashenko addressed a crowd of several thousand supporters in front of the country’s parliament on Sunday. They waved Belarusian flags and cheered as he said he had no intention of giving up the country, and suggested Nato forces were preparing to invade.

    “I have never betrayed you and I never will,” he said, bowing to the assembled crowd. “If you destroy Lukashenko, it will be the beginning of the end for you.”

    The president has also appealed to Putin’s visceral fear of revolution at home and suggested that if his regime fell, the his Russian counterpart would also be in danger. “This is a threat not just to Belarus … if Belarusians do not hold out, the wave will head over there too,” he said in televised remarks on Saturday to a meeting of advisers in which he claimed the protests had been organised by shadowy figures from abroad.

    “Both sides expressed confidence that all the problems that have arisen will be resolved soon,” a Kremlin transcript of the phone call between the two men read.

    Russia and Belarus are technically part of a “union state”, but Lukashenko has resisted closer integration in recent years and proved a tricky partner for Moscow. Putin will, however, still be keen to keep Belarus as a strategic ally and for street protests not win out in yet another neighbouring state.

    Lukashenko’s challenger in last week’s vote, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was fled to neighbouring Lithuania on Monday, called on Belarusians to protest this weekend in a video address released on Friday.

    After ruthless violence at the beginning of last week, riot police have left protesters alone since Thursday. Despite widespread shock and anger, the mood in the country has somehow become celebratory rather than mournful, with columns of smiling protesters holding aloft flowers and cheering, as if the revolution had already won.

    Lukashenko has been losing support fast, and tens of thousands of workers from state-controlled factories have joining strikes. Journalists at Belarusian state television announced demands on Saturday to report the news objectively, and the head of the Belarusian senate visited in an attempt to calm them down.

    The Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia released a video in support of the protests overnight, saying a classmate of his daughter was one of those who had been badly beaten by police, comparing their actions with those of Joseph Stalin’s NKVD, the secret police that tortured and executed hundreds of thousands of people in the 1930s.

    Lukashenko’s appeal to Putin, and his threat that those who continue to come out on to the streets would be “cannon fodder”, suggest that he is considering a new crackdown. The police and army remain under his control, but there have been a few isolated videos from smaller towns that seem to show police acting in solidarity with the protesters.

    For some, the cheering and celebrations of protesters seem dangerously premature. Belamova, a channel on the mobile app Telegram with 500,000 subscribers, issued a warning to protesters on Saturday morning: “Friends, do not succumb to euphoria too early! Even though we have set in motion processes that will be irreversible for Lukashenko the tyrant, he is still in power. So it’s early to celebrate. Very early.”

  15. tomh says

    What chance do we have in the US? After the California Court of Appeals stayed a lower court order, which barred Los Angeles County from enforcing its ban on indoor church services, the Court’s order allowed the county’s Health Order to remain in effect and prohibited John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church from meeting indoors.

    According to Religion News Service

    On Sunday morning [Aug. 16], the church met anyway — inside, unmasked, and without adhering to social distancing.

    [Pastor] MacArthur noted the church’s defiance during the service, saying, “the good news is that you’re here, you’re not distancing, and you’re not wearing masks.” The congregation cheered in response.

  16. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Lebanon must shut down for two weeks after a surge in coronavirus infections, the caretaker health minister said on Monday, as the country reels from the massive Beirut port blast.

    The country’s health ministry registered a record 456 new infections on Monday, with two deaths, taking the cumulative number of cases to 9,337 since February, with 105 fatalities.

    “We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close (the country) for two weeks,” Hamad Hassan told Voice of Lebanon radio.

    Lebanon, already deep in financial crisis, was struggling with a COVID-19 spike before the Aug. 4 blast that killed at least 178 people, wrecked swathes of the capital and pushed the government to resign.

    The warehouse explosion damaged many hospitals and overwhelmed them with more than 6,000 wounded. It put about half of 55 medical centres across Beirut out of service, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week.

    “We are all facing a real challenge and the numbers that were recorded in the last period are shocking,” Hassan said. “The matter requires decisive measures.” Intensive care beds at state and private hospitals were now full, he added.

    In comments to Reuters, Hassan said authorities would not close the country’s airport so far, with the rise stemming mostly from within the country.

    “The real danger is the spread within society,” he said. “Everyone must be on high alert and take the strictest prevention measures.”

    Still, after the blast uprooted nearly a quarter of a million people, the risk of the virus spreading has grown, the WHO has said.

  17. says

    A Latina activist was interviewed on MSNBC earlier, and she was talking about conversations with people in the community and how one of the most common beliefs she’s heard is that people think Trump is responsible for the $1,200 checks. I read a survey a few days ago which found that people generally blame Democrats and Republicans equally for not having an agreement on a relief plan. I’ve heard similar things in conversations with people who aren’t following the news closely.

    This is a major problem, and it’s infuriating that some in the media are falling into their typical pattern: fail to report the news accurately (constantly referring to “congress” when they should be talking about Republicans, for example), treat the situation like a PR war, act like it’s fully the Democrats’ responsibility to inform the public, and then give them unsolicited and scolding advice about messaging.

    If the Republicans had passed a relief bill in May and the Dems had taken several weeks off, basically refused to participate in negotiations upon their return, refused to put a bill on the floor for debate, had members publicly saying they’re happy negotiations had broken down and don’t want people to get any more help at all, and left on another multi-week break, you can be sure the media wouldn’t have covered it the way they have when the Republicans are doing this.

  18. says

    G world liveblog:

    In Sweden, a freedom of information request has uncovered controversial emails sent by the country’s chief epidemiologist in which he appeared to ask whether a higher infection rate among older people might be acceptable if it led to faster herd immunity.

    In one email, Anders Tegnell, the architect of the country’s no-lockdown strategy. suggested that a benefit of keeping schools open would be to “reach herd immunity faster.” After being told that closing schools might reduce the spread of Covid-19 by about 10%, Tegnell replied: “10% might be worth it?”

    Tegnell has repeatedly insisted the government’s objective was not aimed at achieving rapid herd immunity but rather at slowing the spread of the coronavirus enough for health services to be able to cope.

    You can read Jon Henley’s story here:…

    (And they’re nowhere close to herd immunity.)

  19. blf says

    Men to avoid: The mansplainer, the sexpert, the patroniser:

    Nicole Tersigni’s viral tweets using old masters to illustrate everyday sexism are now a book

    This story begins, as so many do these days, on Twitter. In May 2019, Nicole Tersigni, a US-based writer, logged on to the social-media platform at the end of a long day. She was tired and frazzled from looking after her eight-year-old daughter, who was at home sick at the time. “So I go online just to kind of scroll through Twitter and zone out for a little bit,” she says, “and I see a dude explaining to a woman her own joke back to her — something that has happened to me many times.”

    Tersigni had let those kinds of irritating conversations go in the past, but this one sparked something in her. She Googled “woman surrounded by men” — “because that is what that moment feels like when you’re online,” she says — and stumbled upon a 17th-century oil painting by Jobst Harrich of a woman baring one breast in the middle of a scrum of bald men. She combined that image with the caption “Maybe if I take my tit out they will stop explaining my own joke back to me.”

    In another post Tersigni placed an 18th-century painting titled Conversation in a Park by Thomas Gainsborough next to the caption “You would be so much prettier if you smiled,” turning what seems like a vignette of a man flirting with a woman into a laugh-out-loud scene.

    […]

    Within days an agent got in touch, suggesting she turn her tweets into a book. Two weeks later they were meeting with editors, Tersigni says, and struck a deal with Chronicle Books. “I remember I got it, looked at it and just cracked up,” says Rebecca Hunt, the publisher’s editorial director, who works on pop culture and humour books. “When it was time for me to share it with our editorial team I printed out a lot of the pages and spread them on the table. We all didn’t even need to say anything: we were all just reading and laughing,” she says. “That’s how you know right away that something will resonate.”

    Just over a year after that first tweet, Tersigni’s vision has leaped from social media to print, with Men to Avoid in Art and Life, which has just been published in the United States […]. Each chapter of the coffee-table book, which brings together works of art and razor-sharp captions, explores the different types of men that Tersigni and many women encounter regularly. […]

    The images at the link, which are scattered throughout the article, are indeed hilarious. Her twittering. (The above Irish Times article may have originally appeared in the NYT.)

  20. blf says

    The US is facing an eviction tsunami. We must cancel rent before it’s too late:

    Houston’s rental aid fund was empty 90 minutes after it opened. In Chicago, 80,000 renters applied for 2,000 relief grants

    It’s already started. A majority of US states have resumed evictions, or are allowing them despite the worsening pandemic.

    As many as 40 million people nationwide face eviction due to inability to pay rent. In comparison, the 2008 foreclosure crisis saw the loss of 10m homes. Now, millions — seniors, people with disabilities, parents and children — are at risk of homelessness. Eviction preys disproportionately, in many places overwhelmingly, on Black women and people of color, deepening savage racial inequities.

    […] On May Day, thousands of renters across the country launched protests demanding the government cancel rent. Instead, Congress has spent trillions bailing out the largest corporations, including private equity landlords who profited exorbitantly from the pain of the foreclosure crisis and its aftermath. Now landlords have ramped up eviction filings in anticipation of expiring eviction moratoriums, while tenants have yet to receive unemployment benefits they’ve been approved for.

    […]

    After the foreclosure crisis, the largest private equity landlords scooped up foreclosed homes. Government policies enabled and rewarded these bad actors. In 2020, they’re again poised to acquire distressed properties en masse. We can stop this. Rather than subsidizing corporate landlords and banks that have stripped wealth from our communities, we must cut them loose.

    First, by pairing rent cancellation with mortgage debt cancellation, we can stabilize whole communities: renters, homeowners and small landlords, too. Additional relief can prioritize needy landlords who maintain affordable rents and comply with tenant protections; public funds should selectively subsidize socially responsible landlords.

    [… W]e must redirect copious public resources towards creating social housing. After the foreclosure crisis, the Federal Housing Administration sold 98% of foreclosed properties to Wall Street landlords at bargain rates. This time, we must shift ownership from for-profit corporations to nonprofit community control, including permanently affordable resident cooperatives, community land trusts and public housing. We must house the unhoused, rather than criminalizing homelessness. And we must limit large corporate acquisitions, whether through outright prohibition, eminent domain or laws granting public entities, nonprofits and tenants the first right of purchase.

    […] Large corporate landlords sit on more than $470bn of tax breaks including from the Covid-19 stimulus. They must give back by funding relief and social housing.

    […]

  21. blf says

    Belarus media strike: ‘if we can’t do honest journalism, we won’t work’:

    Hundreds of employees at state news station go on strike over election result and censorship

    On Monday morning, Belarusians watching the news on state television were greeted with an extraordinary sight: an empty studio. It was the latest development in the rapid unravelling of president Alexander Lukashenko’s hold on power in Belarus during the past week, and potentially one of the most significant.

    Belarus One, the national channel, has been churning out government propaganda throughout Lukashenko’s quarter-century rule, and at the beginning of last week was painting the protesters as dangerous provocateurs paid from abroad to disrupt the glorious stability brought by Lukashenko.

    But Belarus has changed so quickly in the past week that many at the channel feel they can no longer work for the propaganda machine. On Monday, about 300 of the station’s 2,000 employees went on strike, saying they would not return to work unless the government implemented five demands, including new elections and the removal of television censorship.

    [… Alexander Luchonok, who worked for 18 months as a special correspondent on the twice-weekly current affairs programme Under the President’s Control,] was also deeply disturbed by the station’s coverage of the coronavirus crisis, which Lukashenko dismissed as a psychosis that should not stop people from working. “I watched someone who went through a relative dying of coronavirus and saw this same person ordering people to produce a report on how the virus situation in the country was under control,” he said.

    […]

    Many older people get their news from television, and for this reason it has become one of the protesters’ targets. On Saturday, and again on Monday, crowds gathered outside the headquarters.

    “Tell the truth to our grandparents,” read a huge banner placed outside the entrance. Riot police inside the building formed a defence line to prevent the protesters from entering.

    At the vast protest rally on Sunday, the opposition politician Maria Kolesnikova said she was appealing to journalists on state television, as well as security forces and diplomats, to join the protests. “This is your last chance. Fight your fear like all of us did. We were all scared, but we fought our fear. Join us and we will support you,” she said.

  22. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current lying liars & their lies live blog:

    […]
    According to the NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll, 45% of US voters say they are not confident the votes in the presidential election will be counted accurately, up from 34% in 2016.

    An equal share of voters, 45%, say they are confident in the vote count, down from 59% in 2016.

    […]

    Trump’s baseless claims seem to be having an effect on how Republicans in particular plan to cast their ballots. The poll found that, while 47% of Joe Biden’s supporters say they plan to vote by mail, only 11% of Trump voters say the same.

  23. says

    Rep. Jimmy Gomez:

    Hearings scheduled for 8/24.

    We need to hear your stories…how has @realDonaldTrump’s sabotage of the #USPS impacted you?

    -Have your prescriptions been delayed?
    -Have mailboxes near you been removed?
    -Have you not received your benefits check?

    Tweet us & tag @OversightDems

  24. says

    BREAKING

    @USPS Postmaster General DeJoy has agreed to testify on Monday about the sweeping changes to the #PostalService and their impact on mail-in voting….”

    Link to Rep. Maloney’s statement atl.

  25. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current lying liars & their lies live blog:

    Postmaster general agrees to testify before House committee

    Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to testify before the House oversight committee next Monday, amid questions over his handling of the postal service ahead of November’s presidential election.

    “I’m pleased that the Postmaster General will testify voluntarily before the Oversight Committee on Monday about the sweeping operational and organizational changes he has been making to the Postal Service,” committee chairwoman Carolyn B Maloney, said in a statement.

    Maloney also noted DeJoy would be expected to turn over documents requested by House Democrats by this Friday.

    […]

  26. says

    In #Minsk, #Belarus, thousands turned up to #protest outside the detention centre, where Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Sviatlana’s husband, is presumed to be detained since May. Protesters demanded release of political prisoners:…”

    Video atl.

    Tomorrow Angela Merkel is going to have a phone conversation with Putin over the situation in Belarus. It’s a pretty significant development given the role of Germany in the region and Russia-Germany relations.”

  27. says

    Lukashenko to the workers: ‘Don’t worry, I won’t beat you, it’s not in my interest. But if you provoke me, I’ll deal with it cruelly. Be a man, there’s a whole crowd of you and I’m only one. Put your phone down!!!’

    All you need to know about Lukashenko’s regime. Andrei Sudam, the MZKT worker who dared to argue with Lukashenko on this video, has been detained.”

  28. says

    CNN – “Former senior Trump administration official endorses Joe Biden”:

    Miles Taylor, a former senior Trump administration official, endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on Monday, becoming one of the highest-ranking former Trump administration officials to do so.

    Taylor, who served as a political appointee at the Department of Homeland Security from 2017 to 2019 and as chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, endorsed the former vice president in a video produced by the group Republican Voters Against Trump….

    “What we saw week in and week out, for me, after two and a half years in that administration, was terrifying. We would go in to try to talk to him about a pressing national security issue — cyberattack, terrorism threat — he wasn’t interested in those things. To him, they weren’t priorities,” Taylor says in the video.

    “Given what I have experienced in the administration, I have to support Joe Biden for president and even though I am not a Democrat, even though I disagree on key issues, I’m confident that Joe Biden will protect the country and I’m confident that he won’t make the same mistakes as this President.”

    In the video, Taylor accuses Trump of directing FEMA to withhold disaster funding to California following devastating wildfires in that state because voters in that state had not voted for him for President.
    “He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him and that politically it wasn’t a base for him,” Taylor says in the video.

    Taylor has worked at Google’s public policy arm since leaving the Trump administration as its US lead for advanced technology and security strategy, but a source familiar with the matter said he took a leave of absence last week until Election Day in order engage more publicly in the 2020 presidential campaign.

    Taylor has not had any conversations with the Biden campaign, the source said, but decided to approach the Republican Voters Against Trump group in order to speak out….

  29. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current rats jumping ship live blog:

    Former senior Trump administration official endorses Biden

    A former top member of the Trump administration has endorsed Joe Biden in the presidential election.

    Miles Taylor, who served as chief of staff to former homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, announced his endorsement in a video produced by the group Republican Voters Against Trump.

    […]

    “What we saw week in and week out, for me, after two and a half years in that administration, was terrifying,” Taylor says in the video.

    Taylor said Trump showed little interest in important matters of national security and sought to “exploit” the department of homeland security for his own personal gain.

    […]

  30. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@41, from the Grauniad’s current lying liars jumping ship live blog:

    Republican senator Lindsey Graham’s Democratic rival[, former South Carolina Democratic party chairman Jaime Harrison,] in South Carolina’s senate race has now out-raised the incumbent for two consecutive quarters. […]

  31. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current blithering bumbling wannabe-dalek live blog:

    Trump: Economic crisis is God testing me

    During his second mini-rally of the day, Trump suggested that the country’s financial struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic are God’s way of testing him.

    […]

    We built the greatest economy in the history of the world, and now I have to do it again, Trump told a small crowd at an airport in Minnesota.

    The president [sic] went on to say, You know what that is? That’s right. That’s God testing me.

    Trump frequently claims that he built the strongest economy in history before the pandemic, but fact-checkers have found that assertion to be false.

    […]

  32. says

    The Daily Tar Heel:

    BREAKING: One week into the semester, UNC-Chapel Hill announces that it is transitioning all undergraduate classes to fully online instruction, effective Wednesday.

    The decision comes after the University’s COVID-19 positivity rate rose from 2.8 percent to 13.6 percent last week.

  33. blf says

    Lance Wallnau Says Not Intelligent Kamala Harris Is Being Used by the Devil To Take Trump Out (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    Lance Wallnau, a Trump-loving right-wing activist who is a regular participant in evangelical events held at the White House and around the country, streamed a video on Facebook last Friday in which he proclaimed that Satan is using Senator Kamala Harris to try to take down President [sic] Donald Trump.

    Wallnau asserted that Harris is not intelligent but simply possesses an ability to deceive people, which is why she was chosen to serve as Joe Biden’s running mate by the deep state and do what {Barack} Obama wants her to do, which is to undo Trump’s legacy. He added that Harris is driven by a Jezebel spirit, which some evangelicals believe is an evil and cunning demonic female spirit intent on attacking God and those who worship him.

    The only base that Donald Trump has are the people that are sane, but how many sane people do you know? Wallnau asked, before recounting a prophetic dream in which it was supposedly revealed to him that Harris is a tool of the devil. My biggest concern all along was this dream that I had. I was in an elevator with her, and I was in an elevator going up, and I knew there was a Jezebel spirit. This was before she ran for the primaries for president, so I knew all along that she was going to be the one that the devil is going to try to use to take Trump out.

    […]

  34. blf says

    The Onion’s Guide To QAnon:

    […]
    Q: What is QAnon?
    A: A conspiracy theory that posits world leaders are secretly evil rather than openly so.

    Q: What do QAnon supporters believe?
    A: That by working together, they can discover a renewed sense of purpose and community.

    Q: Who is Q?
    A: Oh no, did no one tell you? The cabal executed him for treason this morning.

    Q: How do members communicate with each other?
    A: In the comments beneath a mutual friend’s completely unrelated Facebook post.

    Q: Do all QAnon supporters share the same beliefs?
    A: No — fundamentalists tend to read the QAnon text literally, while evangelicals believe it’s an allegory for President Trump’s unfair treatment.

    Q: How did Twitter crack down on these dangerous conspiracy theories?
    A: They were immediately removed after being shared thousands of times.

    Q: Is QAnon part of the mainstream Republican Party?
    A: No, the fact that they share similar views on race, religion, and politics is totally coincidental.

    Q: Shouldn’t the fact that Hillary Clinton hasn’t been arrested yet disprove the whole conspiracy?
    A: Only if you believe that an all-knowing figurehead like Q should somehow be able to know things.

    Q: Is imagining clandestine government intrigue more palatable than dwelling on the reality that the American people are under complete control of international corporate interests?
    A: Yes.
    […]

  35. says

    Chris Hayes:

    Something I just keeping back to over and over is the tremendous continuity between the last two Republican presidents, both of whom left the country in ruins, amidst historic catastrophes. The entire party and movement are rotten to the core and unfit to govern.

    Not only that: the last Republican presidency started a lot of the “norm destruction” that has dangerously accelerated. From torture and war crimes to an entire scandal around political interference with US Attorneys to get them to prosecute non existent voter fraud!

    And, of course, both George W Bush and Donald J Trump came to power by losing the popular vote. The Republican party has lost 6 of 7 popular votes, a record run for any party since the dawn of the two-party system.

    The only path foward for the country is a total civic repudiation of the GOP. That won’t by any means solve all our problems – far from it! Just look at CA. But destruction and defeat of the current GOP are *necessary* (though not sufficient) for any kind of future.

  36. blf says

    The Onion, Trump Online Store Begins Selling Decommissioned USPS Mailboxes So Fans Can Own Piece Of History (quoted i full, but there’s a great image at the link):

    Calling them “the perfect keepsake” to remember the agency, the official Trump online campaign store began selling decommissioned USPS mailboxes Friday so fans could own a piece of history. “For the low price of $500, a piece of this beloved former institution can be all yours,” read the description for the mailbox, which was listed on the website alongside USPS uniforms, mail-sorting machines, and postal delivery trucks that are also for sale, with all proceeds benefiting the president’s 2020 campaign. “For an additional $129.99, you can receive a decommissioned postbox embossed with the president’s very own signature. These mailboxes make a great centerpiece in any living room, with storage space for books or even mail. Though if you put mail inside of it, please know it won’t go anywhere, obviously. Act fast, because once they’re gone, they’re gone!” The description added that due to delays, the commemorative mailboxes might not arrive until after November 3.

  37. blf says

    Related to SC@52, Voters can replace a party that knows how to fight with one that knows how to govern:

    The division between Republicans and Democrats is no longer between left and right but between different core competences

    […]

    The Democratic party is basically a governing party, organized around developing and implementing public policies. The Republican party has become an attack party, organized around developing and implementing political vitriol. Democrats legislate. Republicans fulminate.

    In theory, politics requires both capacities — to govern, but also to fight to attain and retain power. The dysfunction today is that Republicans can’t govern and Democrats can’t fight.

    Donald Trump is the culmination of a half-century of Republican belligerence. Richard Nixon’s “dirty tricks” were followed by Republican operative Lee Atwater’s smear tactics, Newt Gingrich’s take-no-prisoners reign as House speaker, the “Swift-boating” of John Kerry, and the Republicans’ increasingly blatant uses of racism and xenophobia to build an overwhelmingly white, rural base.

    Atwater, trained in the southern swamp of the modern Republican party, once noted: “Republicans in the south could not win elections by talking about issues. You had to make the case that the other guy, the other candidate, is a bad guy.” Over time, the GOP’s core competence came to be vilification.

    […]

    But Republicans don’t have a clue how to govern. They’re hopeless at developing and implementing public policies or managing government. They can’t even agree on basics like how to respond to the pandemic or what to replace Obamacare with.

    Meanwhile, the central competence of the Democratic party is running government — designing policies and managing the system. Once in office, Democrats spend countless hours cobbling together legislative and regulatory initiatives. They overflow with economic and policy advisers, programs, plans and goals.

    But Democrats are lousy at bare-knuckles political fighting. Their presidential campaigns proffer policies but are often devoid of passion. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid was little more than a long list of detailed proposals. Democrats seem stunned when their Republican opponents pillory them with lies, rage and ad hominem attacks.

    This has put Democrats at a competitive disadvantage. Political campaigns might once have been about party platforms, but today’s electorate is angrier and more cynical. Policy ideas rarely make headlines; conflict does. Social media favor explosive revelations, including bald lies. No one remembers Hillary Clinton’s policy ideas from 2016; they only remember Trump’s attacks on her emails.

    As a result, the party that’s mainly good at attacking has been winning elections — and pushed into governing, which it’s bad at. […]

    […]

    This dysfunction has become particularly obvious — and deadly — in the current national emergency. Trump and Senate Republicans turned the pandemic and economic downturn into American catastrophes. They have no capacity to develop and implement strategies for dealing with them. Their kneejerk response is to attack — China, Democrats, public health officials, protesters, “lazy” people who won’t work.

    Democrats know what to do — House Democrats passed a comprehensive coronavirus bill in May, and several Democratic governors have been enormously effective — but they’ve lacked power to put a national strategy into effect.

    […]

    The big question hovering over the election is whether Democrats can summon enough fight to win against the predictable barrage. Biden’s choice of running mate, Kamala Harris, bodes well in this regard. Quite apart from all her other attributes, she’s a fierce fighter.

  38. says

    SC @44, that’s powerful.

    blf @50, so now Trump’s supporters are calling Kamala Harris a “Jezebel spirit”? A “Jezebel” is an impudent, shameless, or morally unrestrained woman. So now, the Republicans are having sex dreams, or sex fantasies, about Harris? Some of them in an elevator? LOL.

    In other news, here is a polling update: the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Joe Biden leading Donald Trump among registered by nine points (50% to 41%), while CNN’s poll showed Biden ahead by four points (50% to 46%), and the ABC News/Washington Post poll found Biden up by 12 points (53% to 41%).

    As Harry Enten of CNN noted:

    In the 13 previous elections in which an incumbent was running for another term, no challenger has ever been at or above 50% in the polls at this point in the campaign.

    No one should be complacent, (Trump is trying to cheat, to steal the election), but the polls reveal good news. Also, the National Association of Letter Carries endorsed Biden. The union represents about 300,000 postal workers and retired postal workers.

  39. says

    Here is just one way that Trump is cheating:

    A New York Times analysis found that two-thirds of the Trump campaign’s television ads “contained clearly misleading claims or videos.” I’m a little surprised the percentage isn’t higher.

    Two thirds!

  40. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump is pushing a different miracle cure for coronavirus.

    Trump’s preoccupation with hydroxychloroquine didn’t pan out, but he’s now reportedly enthusiastic about “an extract from the oleander plant.”

    […] Trump thought there was an easy way out: hydroxychloroquine would simply serve as a miracle cure, putting a swift end to the crisis.

    When reality intervened, Trump, true to form, apparently went searching for a different quick fix. The Washington Post reported two weeks ago that Trump had taken an interest in “a botanical extract called oleandrin as a treatment for the coronavirus.” Axios had a related report yesterday, fleshing out in more detail the extent to which the president is focused on this.

    To the alarm of some government health officials, […] Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the Food and Drug Administration to permit an extract from the oleander plant to be marketed as a dietary supplement or, alternatively, approved as a drug to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works…. The experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July.

    Evidently, the idea has been touted by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who believes all sorts of weird things, and Trump backer Mike Lindell, who owns a pillow company and who “recently took a financial stake” in a company that develops the experimental botanical extract.

    Lindell has reportedly helped arrange for Trump to have an Oval Office discussion with Andrew Whitney, a biopharmaceuticals executive on the board of a company called Phoenix Biotechnology. Whitney reportedly has “a limited health background,” but according to Axios, he’s nevertheless told administration officials that oleandrin “cures COVID-19 in two days.”

    A senior administration official familiar with the internal conversations added, “The involvement of the Secretary of HUD and MyPillow.com in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic.”

    […] It matters that the president has access to some of the world’s most impressive scientists, whom he’s inclined to ignore. It matters that Trump has been known to bark orders at the FDA, pressing the agency to examine alleged COVID-19 treatments that aren’t bolstered by scholarly research.

    It matters that Trump seems to reject the steps he should be taking, and instead prioritizes his “magical thinking” above real science.

    Axios added, “Senior administration officials familiar with the internal conversations around oleandrin have raised concerns about the way this botanical extract — pushed by Andrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology — is being promoted at the highest levels of the Trump administration.” […]

    Link

    Yeah, I’m concerned too.

  41. says

    Twice in recent months, Biden was slammed for making wild predictions about Trump. In both instances, Trump did exactly what Biden predicted he’d do.

    It was in April when Joe Biden first made a provocative prediction about Donald Trump and likely electoral antics. “Mark my words,” [Biden] said, “I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.”

    Biden received a fair amount of criticism for floating an accusation like this without evidence, but it wasn’t long before [Trump] gave his rival a hand: [In July] Trump raised the prospect of delaying U.S. elections.

    Similarly, in June, [Biden] made the case that Trump “wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots.” A few days later, the folks at FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, rebuked Biden for floating a “baseless” conspiracy theory.

    Now, the fact-checking website has been forced to reverse course.

    In late June, Joe Biden claimed […] Trump “wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots.” At the time, we wrote that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had no evidence of Trump’s ulterior motive — but now he does…. We do know at this point that Biden’s earlier remarks that Trump “wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots” have been confirmed — by [Trump] himself.

    Quite right. It was, after all, just last week when [Trump] told a national television audience, “They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent. They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes, OK. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now in the meantime they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items, but if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

    To be sure, Biden, who’s earned a reputation as an undisciplined speaker, should exercise caution before making accusations he can’t back up, but now we have two high-profile instances in which Biden has been criticized for making reckless predictions, only to see Trump end up doing exactly what Biden said he’d do.

    Link

  42. blf says

    Lynna@58, From Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge (my added emboldening):

    Although oleander has been used in traditional medicine for treating various disorders, there is no evidence that it is safe or effective for any medicinal purpose. Due to its considerable toxicity, use of oleander or its constituents, such as oleandrin, is regarded as unsafe and potentially lethal. Use of oleander may cause contact dermatitis, headache, nausea, lethargy, and high blood levels of potassium, with symptoms appearing within a few hours of ingestion.

    Not just quackery, but lethal quackery.

  43. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Trump’s attack on the United States Postal Service is one of the most brazen and frontal attacks on the government of the United States in living memory. It could not be more serious. With the immediate threat posed by Trump’s effort to sabotage the November election every conceivable effort and available power should be used to reverse or ameliorate his actions. But while Democrats should be making every effort to combat Trump’s attack on the state they should also be making equally great efforts to make him pay for his corrupt conduct at the ballot box.

    Some will say, “This is far too important to make it political.” But that is precisely wrong. Exactly the opposite is the case. […] make postal service sabotage a core campaign issue.

    […] The key is how Trump, solely to service his desire to remain in power, has done everything from inconvenience to threaten the economy well-being and even the lives of hundreds of millions of American citizens.

    […] a sitting President has not only sought to subvert a national election but sabotage a core government service on which hundred of millions of Americans rely – all for the purpose of corruptly maintaining power. […] He’s already used his presidential powers to subvert the 2020 elections a number of times. In one case he was impeached for it. But in most of these cases the impact on ordinary citizens was distant, abstract or hypothetical.

    Here it is entirely different.

    Almost every citizen is at least inconvenienced. I’ve been corresponding throughout the day with readers from around the country who have gotten mail delivery half of the days this week, who are waiting for overdue prescriptions, waiting on packages that are two weeks overdue, Social Security checks which are sole sources of income. For many life saving prescriptions are delayed or lost. Critical medical tests are being invalidated because they spend too much time in the mail. Businesses already battered by COVID are imperiled because shipments are late. […]

    Trump is far from the first corrupt American President. But it is genuinely hard to think of a case in almost a quarter millennium of US history in which a chief executive has inconvenienced, damaged and imperiled so many citizens so directly for the sole purpose of corruptly maintaining power in defiance of the constitutional order. There’s really nothing comparable.

    Not holding him to account would not just be negligent […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/make-him-own-it

  44. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current lying liars live blog:

    Better air circulation or doors that lock against a school shooter? Pick one.

    A reporter for New York magazine has an extremely grim anecdote from a conversation with a friend who is a teacher in the United States preparing to resume classroom instruction during a pandemic:

    Just heard from a teacher friend prepping for the school year: they’ve been told they can’t leave classroom doors open to promote better air circulation, because that would circumvent the school’s automatic locking system that’s in place for active shooter situations.

  45. says

    blf @60, thanks for that additional information. Dr. Fauci should condemn this latest “cure” fantasy from Trump.

    In other news, here’s a WTF!? moment, courtesy of the Trump administration:

    How could the details of a contract with the federal government, subject to congressional oversight, be hidden from scrutiny behind a non-disclosure agreement?

    You’re not the only one wondering. The New York Times on Friday revealed a letter in which the firm collecting hospitals’ COVID-19 data, TeleTracking, told two U.S. senators that its contract with the Trump administration was covered by an NDA. Government contracting experts were stumped.

    “The idea that the whole contract is under an NDA, and that they can’t, somehow, cooperate with Congress providing its constitutionally-authorized oversight duties — to me, that’s crazy,” said Jessica Tillipman, an assistant dean at George Washington University Law School who focuses on government procurement. […]

    “I’m just not aware of this being a normal protocol,” she said. “It’s not a normal practice. So I have no idea how this would’ve worked, because it’s not typical.”

    The Trump administration last month ordered hospitals to stop reporting their COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to instead begin sending numbers to TeleTracking on just a few days’ notice. TPM reported on the chaos that ensued from the rapid switch, which also caught the attention of congressional investigators.

    In a letter dated Aug. 3 to Sens Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), which the Times revealed on Friday, a lawyer for the health care data firm said that TeleTracking sought to fully cooperate in response to questions the pair had sent in July about the contract.

    “However,” the attorney wrote, “we are obligated to advise you that the Contract is subject to a broad Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that restricts TeleTracking’s release of non-public information, including, but not limited to, confidential privileged and procurement-sensitive information.”

    […] The law professor Charles Tiefer served as acting general counsel of the House of Representatives in the ‘90s and was later a member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “I have performed legal analysis on many withholdings of evidence from Congress, and thousands of pages of contracts,” he wrote in Forbes. “I have never yet seen one page, in all that time and all that experience, that expressly directed a contractor to withhold information from Congress.”

    […] “Instead of helping answer why the Trump Administration required hospitals to switch the way they report critical data to a new system, in the middle of a pandemic, with 48-hours notice — this response raises new questions,” Murray said in a statement to TPM.

    […] Schumer, in a separate statement, said the administration’s decision “to hire a private vendor and then cloak that vendor in a non-disclosure agreement raises numerous questions about their motivations and risks the ability of our public health experts to understand and effectively fight this virus.”

    […] Karen Hoffmann, the former president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, called the TeleTracking system a “black box” because of the uncertainty surrounding the data. And TPM and other outlets have identified discrepancies between state and federal hospital capacity numbers that remained uncorrected for weeks. […]

    Link

  46. says

    Follow-up to comment 63.

    Comments from readers:

    The Trump mob strikes again.

    Covid Nostra.
    ——————
    That NDA is void as against public policy. No private contract can vitiate congressional authority.
    ———————
    The Data being collected by Tele Tracking is being collected at public expense, therefor it is the property of the people of the United States.

    The NDA is illegal and should be torn up forthwith.
    ————————-
    Serves it’s only purpose though: delay until after the election.

  47. says

    Joanne Freeman in the Atlantic – “I’m a Historian. I See Reason to Fear—And to Hope.”:

    …[Hamilton] has also gained new relevance over time, promoting an idea that historians hold near and dear: contingency—the importance of remembering that people in the past were living in their present, unaware of future outcomes. As I’ve taught time and again in college classrooms, the founding generation didn’t know if it would win the Revolution or if the new nation would survive; Hamilton makes this abundantly clear. People were living in the moment, much like us today.

    The lesson to be learned from this is vitally important. As much as we might like to, we can’t assume that all will be fine in the end. America’s long-standing faith in its exceptionalism is blinding people to the fact that our constitutional order is fragile, that democracy requires hard work, and that success isn’t a given.

    But failure isn’t a given either. The future is always in flux. This may well be the most valuable lesson historians can offer in the current crisis: For better or worse, history doesn’t stop. And for that very reason, our actions and decisions now—today—matter in ways that we can’t begin to fathom. Even passivity, the willingness to let things fall where they may, might have dire implications.

    In short, there’s no escape from the urgency of now. We owe it to ourselves and to the future to recognize the meaning of this moment, and to choose our actions wisely and well.

    Much more atl.

  48. blf says

    Lynna@63 & @64, That NDA antic reminds me of an antic once tired in teh NKofE back in October 2009: A oil trading concern called Trafigura who arranged for some exceptionally dangerous oily waste to be reprocessed — a process so dangerous it is banned almost everywhere, and they eventually did it at sea in international waters — and then dumped the resulting super-toxic residue in and around Abidjan, Ivory Coast (west Africa). Numerous people were poisoned. The Grauniad tried to report on a Parliamentary investigation(? report?), but where threatened with a lawsuit — for reporting on a Parliamentary matter. So they cheekily published a report saying they couldn’t report on something on Parliament (it was that vague), which resulted in “Large numbers of messages were posted on Twitter, to the extent that ‘Trafigura’ and ‘Carter-Ruck’ became the most viewed keywords in London throughout the morning” (Trafigura gag attempt unites house in protest). What they were trying to hide from the Grauniad was very quickly uncovered and posted online. (I remember searching myself…)

    From Carter-Ruck in new move to stop debate in parliament:

    The injunction not only bans disclosure of a confidential report on Trafigura and toxic waste, but also banned disclosure of the injunction’s very existence, until it was revealed by an MP this week under parliamentary privilege.

    Carter-Ruck partner Adam Tudor today sent a letter to the Speaker, John Bercow, and also circulated it to every single MP and peer, saying they believed the case was “sub judice”.

    If correct, it would mean that, under Westminster rules to prevent clashes between parliament and the courts, a debate planned for next Wednesday could not go ahead.

    In the end, Carter-Ruck backed down, Trafigura lost and had to pay damages direct to the victims using a scheme designed to try and avoid the corrupt Ivory Coast government and other thieves. (I do not know how well it worked in the end, i.e., whether or not the victims got their compensation in full or not.)

  49. says

    blf @66, corruption, and the hiding of corruption, in all of the high places. I seldom give anyone the benefit of the doubt anymore. Look for the money trail. Look for the corruption. Go after them.

    In more postal service news: “Trump can destroy the Postal Service because Mitch McConnell won’t stop him.”

    The Democratic House is taking a break from recess to come back to Washington, D.C. to vote on a bill blocking the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors from making any changes to service and restoring operations to where they were on Jan. 1. As of now, the vote is scheduled for Saturday, with a follow-up hearing with Donald Trump’s lackey Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Monday, Aug. 24.

    That means there’s a week in which Democrats can hammer Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader who has been sitting on a bill from the House that would have provided $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service since the middle of May. When that bill passed, McConnell insisted there was “no urgency” in passing further coronavirus relief. Whether he’s been in on these plans to effectively dismantle the Postal Service or was just blocking the bill for kicks, he’s the primary enabler. That’s even being pointed out back in Kentucky, where one headline reads: “Trump wants to destroy the United States Postal Service. McConnell needs to stop him.”

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate democratic leader, called on McConnell to “bring the Senate back into session to quickly act on the House’s legislation that will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service so that people can get their paychecks, medicines, and other necessities delivered on time, and to ensure our elections will remain completely free and fair.” A handful of Democratic senators reinforced the demand, with one struggling Republican joining them.

    “The Senate should return this week to consider a COVID-19 package that includes the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act—a bill I introduced [with Sen. Dianne Feinstein] in July—which would provide USPS [with] up to $25 billion to cover losses or operational expenses resulting from COVID-19,” Sen. Susan Collins, the vulnerable Maine Republican, tweeted.

    Not that Collins has any sway with McConnell, who as of Monday morning hasn’t said a word about the flood of news about the Postal Service, including whether he gives a damn.

    Link

  50. says

    Follow-up to SC @35, people on Twitter are now advising that other House Democrats donate their time to Katie Porter so that she can more thoroughly grill DeJoy.

    From Russell Drew:

    Congresswoman Katie Porter brings a bazooka to a knife fight. If I were Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, I’d maybe think about taking a permanent vacation and disappearing.

    Porter does not mess around. She is not mean or cruel, she is just invariably correct. She has the facts, and she knows them cold.

  51. says

    Donald Trump, Kanye West, and a Weird Western Bird Are All Somehow Involved in a Major Conservation Battle

    West has a green light to build a White House–sized mansion on key sage-grouse habitat.

    The greater sage-grouse has a very hard life. Aside from facing predators like foxes, bobcats, and coyotes, the ground-dwelling western bird is also threatened by oil and gas development, miners, ranchers, hunters, climate change, invasive grasses, and, now, Kanye West.

    This spring the rapper and presidential hopeful, who purchased a sprawling ranch in Cody, Wyoming, in 2019, got the go-ahead to expand development on the property […] And while West isn’t likely to single-handedly wipe out the sage-grouse with a few (albeit big) ranch upgrades, the episode illustrates how a lack of protection under the Trump administration—which has aggressively sought to dismantle safeguards for the species—has further threatened the already vulnerable bird.

    According to permits shared with Mother Jones by officials from Park County, Wyoming, […] West plans to add to his ranch several new structures: a two-bedroom lake house; two underground, 10,000 square-foot parking garages; and a 10-bedroom, 52,000 square-foot residence, which coincidentally would be about the size of the White House. […]

    But it turns out the proposed construction, and the entirety of West’s ranch, fall in “core” sage-grouse habitat, area designated by the state as important for the bird’s survival—and for the health of the larger sagebrush ecosystem, the largest interconnected habitat in America. Although the bird is known for its stunning, jiggly mating dance, the sage-grouse isn’t just a pretty face: As an “indicator species,” it serves as a proxy for the wellbeing of more than 350 other species that share its habitat. […] population decline from as many as 16 million birds at historic levels to somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 individuals in recent years […]

    To conserve the species, back in 2015 the Obama administration approved a bipartisan agreement—imagine that!—that required cooperation between 11 western states and the federal government. The plan aimed to prioritize development outside key sagebrush habitat areas and keep the bird from requiring listing under the Endangered Species Act. […] The deal was a massive experiment to see if environmentalists, ranchers, and energy industry groups could work together to prevent the species’ further decline […]

    When the Trump administration took over, the agreement essentially went out the window. “This administration came in, and they hijacked the process […]

    “Without data, without support,” he says, the Trump administration declared that the sage-grouse didn’t need further protection—a contentious decision I reported on back in 2018. “The blueprint they’re adopting is basically a wish list for industry,” Bobby McEnaney, then the senior deputy director for the Western Renewable Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told me at the time. “There’s no biology or science to support it.”

    By March of 2019, the federal government, which owns about half of the land designated as important sage-grouse habitat, was handing out oil and gas leases in those areas at a rate nearly 3 times higher than it had in the last 15 months of the Obama administration […] Environmental groups promptly sued over the leases, and later won; “nonetheless, [the Trump administration is] threatening to offer some of the leases up for sale again,” Rutledge says.

    […] federal officials stopped tracking and regulating other kinds of land development in sage-grouse habitat, like extensive ranch expansion projects proposed by billionaire musicians.

    “When we make those one-off decisions without looking at the holistic picture of the habitat degradation, it’s slowly and surely death by a thousand cuts for this species and the 350 other species in that habitat,” O’Neill notes. And, as he points out, West isn’t the only landowner who has potentially benefitted from Trump’s lack of regulation: Other notable ranch owners include RuPaul, who has leased parts of their land to oil and gas interests, and Karen Budd-Falen, a Trump administration official who worked to roll back Endangered Species Act protections while owning and operating “hundreds of thousands of acres overlapping prime sage-grouse habitat,” according to Western Values Project, presenting a clear conflict of interest. […]

    “So this is not just about a quaint bird,” he says. “This is about the very survival of an ecosystem and the non-desertification of Western North America.”

    Link

  52. blf says

    Black babies more likely to survive when cared for by black doctors — US study:

    When cared for by white doctors, black babies are about three times more likely to die in the hospital than white newborns

    […]

    Earlier research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published last year shows that black babies are more than twice as likely to die before reaching their first birthday than white babies, regardless of the mother’s income or education level.

    While infant mortality has fallen overall in the past century thanks to improvements in hygiene, nutrition and healthcare, the black-white disparity has grown.

    Multiple interrelated factors which contribute to these disparities include structural and societal racism, toxic stress and cumulative socioeconomic disadvantages.

    The new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests the race of the attending doctor also plays an important role.

    […]

    When cared for by white doctors, black babies are about three times more likely to die in the hospital than white newborns.

    This disparity halves when black babies are cared for by a black doctor.

    Strikingly, the biggest drop in deaths occurred in complex births and in hospitals that deliver relatively more black babies, suggesting institutional factors may play a role.

    […]

    Why race concordance is so important in black infant mortality requires further research, but it may enhance trust and communication between doctor and mother, and black doctors may be more attuned to social risk factors and cumulative disadvantages which can impact neonatal care, according to Brad Greenwood, lead author from George Mason University in Virginia.

    Unconscious racism among white doctors towards black women and their babies may also be at play.

    For white newborns, the race of their doctor makes little difference to their chances of survival.

    […]

    Overall, US ranks 30th among the 33 OECD countries for infant mortality, with only Mexico, Turkey and Chile doing worse. A CDC report published last year found that over 22,000 American babies died before their first birthday in 2017. Black babies died at a rate of 10.97 per 1,000 births — more than twice the rate for white, Asian or Latin newborns.

    That reminds me of a loosely-related recent long article, also in the Gruaniad, Decolonising dermatology: why black and brown skin need better treatment (last week). Two snippets:

    At a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton this summer, I saw a black teenager proudly wearing a T-shirt bearing the word “MELANINAIRE”. This brand name is eye-catching precisely because, in nearly every other circumstance, the amount of melanin in your skin is directly proportional to the amount of discrimination you encounter in everyday life. After all, melanin has been used, along with facial features and hair type, for more than four centuries to sort the world into a hierarchy, with white-skinned groups at the top.

    […] Just like in medicine, modern photography was designed with white people in mind. In fact, a white person with a name: Shirley. From the 50s, Shirley was the name given to the woman on the test cards against which all photographic laboratory technicians would judge their colour balance and exposure when using Kodak film. The model chosen for the test card changed with each decade, but the formula was always the same: an ivory-skinned brunette who represented “normal”, allowing every technician to develop all Kodak film in a way that made Shirley look ideal.

    The problem was that it made people of colour look terrible: erasing the subtleties of tone and contour, so their faces became black blobs with the bright whites of their eyes and teeth glaring out. In 1977, the French-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard refused to use Kodak film when filming in Mozambique, calling it “racist”. […]

    The whole article is worth a read, albeit the author slightly oversimplifies why lighter-skin evolved (a quibble).

  53. says

    Judge halts Trump’s rollback of transgender health protections

    A federal judge on Monday froze the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients, citing a recent landmark Supreme Court decision awarding workplace discrimination protections to LGBTQ employees.

    U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block halted the new policy one day before it was slated to take effect and admonished the Trump administration for pursuing the change after the Supreme Court ruling.

    The decision was a last-minute break for LGBTQ advocacy groups who had hoped to halt the administration’s implementation of the policy, warning it would especially create new challenges for patients during the coronavirus pandemic. […]

    Inside the decision: Block’s 26-page order focused on the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision from June that extended civil rights protections to employees based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. He specifically questioned the Trump administration’s decision to advance its rewrite of the Obama policy without considering the impact of the Supreme Court decision, which came down just three days after Trump’s health department finalized the rollback of transgender health protections.

    “When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” wrote Block, a Clinton appointee. “Since HHS has been willing to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it,” he added.

    A long legal battle: A challenge over the merits of the Trump policy will continue, but Block said plaintiffs challenging the rule are likely to succeed in their lawsuit.

    The previous Obama-era anti-discrimination rules had been blocked by a federal judge in 2016 and never took effect. Religious groups argue that the Obama policy would force doctors to offer gender transition services or abortions even if it conflicted with their beliefs. […]

    Monday’s decision didn’t address other provisions of Trump’s revised nondiscrimination rules, which eased requirements for health care providers and insurers to give information in 15 languages and offer translation services. It also left alone Trump’s rollback of protections for patients seeking abortion. […]

  54. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current lying liars & and their lies live blog:

    […]
    Donald Trump called out New Zealand for its recent Covid-19 outbreak today, saying the places the world hailed as a success story is now facing a big surge in cases.

    On Monday Auckland recorded 9 new cases of the virus, while the US recorded just under 42,000.

    […]

    From Trump calls out New Zealand’s ‘terrible’ Covid surge, on day it records nine new cases:

    […] New Zealand’s government, led by Jacinda Ardern, has described the outbreak as contained and manageable, and has chosen not to place the country or even Auckland in full, level 4 lockdown. The outbreak is currently limited to a single cluster of related cases, which as of Monday numbered 58.

    Overall 22 people have died from Covid-19 in New Zealand, compared with more than 170,000 in the US, the highest death toll in the world. It accounts for nearly 22% of deaths globally.

    In June, New Zealand declared it had eliminated the virus, and went 102 days without any infection in the community.
    […]

    New Zealand’s PM, Jacinda Ardern, is a competent woman, an evil creature known to intimidate and infuriate hair furor. She’s also popular, both in Kiwiland and internationally, which — if that even penetrates his thick skull and reaches his single brain cell (albeit malfunctioning) — must infuriate him.

  55. blf says

    Brazil: outcry as religious extremists harass child seeking abortion:

    Ten-year-old girl was forced to fly more than 900 miles to north-eastern city of Recife for the procedure after being raped

    Scores of Brazilian women have taken to the streets to protect a 10-year-old child who was being persecuted by religious extremists for trying to legally undergo an abortion after allegedly being raped by her uncle.

    The girl, from São Mateus, a small town in the south-eastern state of Espírito Santo, was admitted to hospital on 7 August complaining of abdominal pain and doctors confirmed she was pregnant.

    The child told police she had been abused by her uncle since age six and had stayed silent out of fear. The 33-year-old man is reportedly on the run.

    Brazil’s highly restrictive abortion laws — largely written in 1940 — permit terminations in cases of rape […].

    Yet despite this, the child was forced to fly more than 900 miles to the north-eastern city of Recife for the procedure, following a highly politicized legal battle which saw one hospital in the girl’s home state refuse to treat her.

    When the girl reached the hospital where the termination was to be performed on Sunday afternoon, its entrance had been occupied by far-right anti-abortion activists and politicians who were filmed hurling abuse at hospital staff and the child, and trying to stop them entering.

    “When you see a 10-year-old girl being criminalized for terminating a pregnancy resulting from rape and because her life is in danger, it really gives you a sense of how religious fundamentalism is advancing in our country,” said Elisa Aníbal, a Recife-based feminist campaigner.

    The activists appear to have discovered the hospital’s location, which was kept secret for security reasons, from a hardcore supporter of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

    In an online video, which was later deleted but the Guardian has seen, the pro-Bolsonaro extremist Sara Giromini names the girl and falsely claims authorities had kidnapped her and chartered a private jet to transport her to the termination.

    This is an extremely serious human rights violation! claims Giromini, brandishing a plastic doll she alleged was the size of the fetus.

    Until last year Giromini worked for Bolsonaro’s minister for women, family and human rights, a conservative evangelical pastor called Damares Alves. […]

    […]

    As word of the anti-abortion ambush spread among Recife’s feminist community, activists flocked to the hospital to defend the girl’s right to a termination she had requested.

    “We realized we needed reinforcements,” said Aníbal, from the Fórum de Mulheres de Pernambuco group, who summoned supporters on social media.

    “By the end of the day there were more than 150 people there supporting that girl … women, trans people, black people, young people … and when we looked at the other group they were mostly old white men in suits, with just few women among them.”

    Footage that went viral on social media showed the women challenging the fanatics with a call-and-response battle cry that recalled the Chilean anti-rape anthem A Rapist in Your Path.

    “This child fell pregnant after being raped and these fundamentalists are here to say that her life doesn’t matter,” the women chanted. “We’re here to say that our lives do matter.”

    […]

    Gabriela Rondon, a lawyer from the pro-choice group Anis, said the extremists’ widely condemned behaviour had inadvertently boosted the debate about decriminalizing and legalizing abortion.

    “Brazil’s laws are clearly inadequate and put millions of women at risk. According to our figures half a million women must subject themselves to illegal abortions each year,” Rondon said. “That’s almost one woman per minute.”

    […]

  56. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Been watching the dems “convention” coverage on MSNBC. A bit too jumpy for my taste, but a good emotional appeal to those watching. being an old fart, I won’t be staying up late. It will be interesting to see how this plays with the public.

  57. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Barak is not the only Obama with orator skills. Too bad Michelle isn’t interested in political office.

  58. tomh says

    Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration’s Transgender Health Care Rollback
    ANDY MONSERUD August 17, 2020

    (CN) — A federal judge in New York Monday blocked new rules proposed by the Trump administration that would have removed anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients in programs funded by the Affordable Care Act.

    U.S. District Court Senior Judge Frederic Block ruled Monday afternoon that the Department of Health and Human Services’ planned 2020 rules change, which would have reversed the department’s existing prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity, ran contrary to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County…

    “HHS knew that the case was pending and would have ‘ramifications’; it must also have known that a decision would be handed down before the end of the Supreme Court’s term. It then had an (admittedly brief) opportunity to re-evaluate its proposed rules after the case was decided contrary to its expectations,” Block wrote.

    “Instead, it did nothing. The timing might even suggest to a cynic that the agency pushed ahead specifically to avoid having to address an adverse decision,” he continued. “Whether by design or bureaucratic inertia, the fact remains that HHS finalized the 2020 Rules without addressing the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock.”

  59. says

    NBC – “Bipartisan Senate report describes 2016 Trump campaign eager to accept help from foreign power”:

    In a thousand-page bipartisan report released Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee said the Trump administration obstructed its investigation with “novel claims” of executive privilege. It painted a portrait of a Trump campaign eager to accept help from a foreign power in 2016.

    The Senate report, the most detailed account to date of the Trump campaign’s embrace of Russian election interference, also asserted that the allegations that Ukraine interfered in the election — which President Donald Trump perpetuated — originated with Russian intelligence agencies.

    The report highlighted some never-before-seen evidence about Trump and Russia, including three allegations of potentially compromising material relating to Trump’s private trips to Russia that were unconnected to the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

    “Separate from Steele’s memos, which the Committee did not use for support, the Committee became aware of three general sets of allegations” involving women, the report said, two of which described a tape. No such allegations were confirmed, but the finding lent new credence to at least one claim in the widely discredited Steele dossier.

    The committee endorsed the view of special counsel Robert Mueller and the Roger Stone prosecution team that the Trump campaign eagerly embraced Russian help in 2016, and considered the hacked emails its “October surprise” even though campaign officials knew the material was stolen by Russian intelligence.

    “While the GRU and WikiLeaks were releasing hacked documents, the Trump Campaign sought to maximize the impact of those materials to aid Trump’s electoral prospects,” the report said. “To do so, the Trump campaign took actions to obtain advance notice about WikiLeaks releases of Clinton emails; took steps to obtain inside information about the content of releases once WikiLeaks began to publish stolen information; created messaging strategies to promote and share the materials in anticipation of and following their release; and encouraged further theft of information and continued leaks.”

    The committee said it also developed evidence that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort may have been connected to the Russian operation to steal and leak Democratic emails. If that had been proven in court, it would have constituted “collusion,” by any definition, but no such charge ever was brought. Manafort was convicted of fraud and tax charges unrelated to Russia,

    The committee found that the Trump transition exposed itself to Russian influence.

    “Russia and other countries took advantage of the Transition Team’s inexperience, transparent opposition to Obama Administration policies, and Trump’s desire to deepen ties with Russia, to pursue unofficial channels through which Russia could conduct diplomacy,” the report said. “The lack of vetting of foreign interactions by Transition officials left the Transition open to influence and manipulation by foreign intelligence services, government leaders, and co-opted business executives.”

    It added, “Russian officials, intelligence services, and others acting on the Kremlin’s behalf were capable of exploiting the Transition’s shortcomings for Russia’s advantage. Based on available information it is possible — and even likely — that they did so.”

    On Ukraine, the report said that Russian-government operatives from late 2016 until at least January 2020 consistently spread “overlapping false narratives which sought to discredit investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and spread false information about the events of 2016.”

    The report said that Manafort associate Konstatin Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence officer, “almost certainly helped arrange some of the first public messaging that Ukraine had interfered in the U.S. election.”

    In 2017, the report said, “other Russian-government proxies and personas worked to spread the false narrative that Ukraine interfered in the U.S. election.”

    The committee “identified no reliable evidence that the Ukrainian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.”…

  60. says

    Ken Dilanian:

    The report states flatly that Konstantin Kiliminik is a Russian intelligence officer. So let that sink in: Donald Trump’s campaign chairman worked closely with a Russian intelligence officer. What say those who argue the FBI had no reason to investigate?

    Ken Dilanian:

    The Mueller report was not as clearly written as this Senate document, every word of which was signed off on by Republican Trump allies. That is not a ringing endorsement of the Mueller report.

    Andrew Prokop:

    Senate Intel report claims they found “Significant evidence to suggest” that in summer 2016, WikiLeaks was “knowingly collaborating with Russian goverment officials.” The evidence is redacted.

  61. blf says

    In Belarus, Lukashenko awards medals to Belarus riot police and KGB:

    President [sic] rewards 300 officers for impeccable service as he attempts to maintain loyalty

    […]

    The awards recognised senior officials and lower-ranking officers believed to have taken part in last week’s bloody crackdown against protesters.

    The awards were dated 13 August and followed four days of protests during which more than 7,000 people were detained. Police deployed rubber bullets and stun grenades as they broke up peaceful demonstrations. Many of those detained said they were viciously beaten and tortured in jails.

    The Belarusian leader [sic] has sought to shore up support among his core constituencies, especially the security services, as he seeks to outlast a protest movement that has brought him face-to-face with former supporters calling on him to resign.

    […]

    And, Demonstrations held outside prison in Belarus where husband of opposition leader is held:

    […]
    Several hundred people gathered outside the walls of the detention centre to mark the 42nd birthday of Sergei Tikhanovsky, a popular blogger who was imprisoned alongside other rivals of President [sic] Alexander Lukashenko ahead of the August 9 election.

    […]

    At the detention centre where Tikhanovsky is being held, protesters holding red-and-white balloons in the colours of the opposition clapped and chanted “Happy Birthday”.

    […]

    Belarusian investigators [sic] have accused Tikhanovsky of inciting social hostility and calls to use violence against law enforcement officers.

    In a video message, Tikhanovskaya said her husband was spending his birthday in prison accused of “a crime he did not commit”.

    “All of this blatant lawlessness and injustice shows how this rotting system works, in which one person controls everything, one person who has kept the country in fear for 26 years, one person who robbed Belarusians of their choice,” she said.

    […]

    Tikhanovskaya’s ally Maria Kolesnikova on Tuesday visited the National Academy Theatre in Minsk to show support for staff who resigned after director and former culture minister Pavel Latushko was forced from his post for publically calling for new elections and Lukashenko’s resignation.

    The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper announced it was unable to print its Tuesday edition focusing on historic protests over the weekend and said it had secured another printer that would produce its print edition a day late.

  62. says

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

    From there:

    Coronavirus cases in the Americas have reached almost 11.5 million and over 400,000 people have died as a result of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization regional director Carissa Etienne.

    Speaking in a virtual briefing from Washington with other Pan American Health Organization directors, Etienne said the region continues to carry the highest burden of the disease, with 64% of officially reported global deaths despite having 13% of the world’s population.

    The biggest drivers of the case counts are the United States and Brazil, she said.

    She also warned that stress about the pandemic was causing a mental health crisis in the region and increased use of drugs and alcohol.

  63. blf says

    I had to call police after Tucker Carlson targeted me on air, photojournalist says:

    Tristan Spinski says people tried to break into his home after Carlson revealed his name over upcoming New York Times piece

    A photojournalist said he hid in fear in his own home, locking himself in an upstairs room with his family, after people tried to break in when he was named on air by the Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

    Freelance photographer Tristan Spinski was working on an as yet unpublished story for the New York Times about Carlson’s life in Maine, where he spends summers, when the presenter named him and reporter Murray Carpenter on his show on the night of 20 July.

    Carlson told his audience of millions the newspaper was working on a story about where my family and I live. He also called Carpenter a political activist.

    According to a chilling 911 transcript published by the Washington Post, within about an hour of the broadcast, people came to the door of Spinski’s home in Maine and tried to break in.

    In the call, made to Lincoln county at 9.57pm, Spinski’s brother-in-law reports “loud banging noise downstairs and some threats coming to the house recently just in the past hour”.

    […]

    “We’re currently upstairs but they’re trying to break in downstairs,” he says.

    The transcript appears to show Spinski joining the call, saying “there is definitely people on our property” and that they are “locked upstairs in the house”.

    […]

    The New York Times told the Post it had been in discussion with Fox News for “several days” and had “assured them” it did not plan to photograph Carlson’s home or publish his address.

    Despite this, Carlson told viewers: So how would Murray Carpenter and his photographer, Tristan Spinski, feel if we told you where they live? If we put pictures of their homes on the air?

    Carlson did not say where either journalist lived. Carpenter, however, also reported being harassed.

    […]

  64. blf says

    US judge blocks law banning trans athletes from women’s sports:

    […]
    A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary injunction to stop Idaho from enacting a law banning transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports while a legal challenge moves forward.

    The ruling means transgender athletes wanting to participate in sports that match their gender identity can do so this fall at the college and secondary school level, the Idaho Statesman reported.

    US District Judge David Nye in Idaho ruled that a preliminary injunction is warranted because the plaintiffs are likely to win in court as part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of the law.

    The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a student at Boise State University who is transgender and had been planning to try out for the cross country team, and an unnamed Boise high school student who is cisgender and concerned about being subjected to the law’s invasive “sex verification” testing, according to the ACLU.

    […]

    Nye said the law’s ban on transgender athletes “stands in stark contrast to the policies of elite athletic bodies that regulate sports both nationally and globally.”

    “I feel a major sense of relief,” Hecox said Monday in a news release. “I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls’ team. It’s time courts recognize that and I am so glad that the court’s ruling does.”

    In March, Idaho governor Brad Little signed the measure, passed by Republicans during the 2020 state legislative session, into law despite warnings from legal experts that it wasn’t likely to survive court challenges.

    […]

    It’s the second time this month a federal judge has effectively rejected a new anti-transgender law in Idaho. Last week, US magistrate Candy Dale said the state’s latest attempt to ban transgender people from changing the gender on their birth certificate violates a court order she issued two years ago stopping a similar law.

  65. blf says

    Teh thugs national kooksandcovidathron will also be indistinguishable from a kkk ralley, St Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters to speak at Republican convention:

    […]
    I didn’t care what color they were, Mark McCloskey told CNN, of the protesters. I didn’t care what their motivation was. I was frightened. I was assaulted.

    Charged with unlawful use of a weapon, the McCloskeys duly became a cause célèbre on the political right. Donald Trump tweeted support; Mike Parson, the Republican governor of Missouri, called the charge outrageous; and senior figures including Missouri senator Josh Hawley demanded a civil rights investigation.

    The prosecutor in the case, Kim Gardner, is the first African American circuit attorney in St Louis history. Speaking to the Washington Post, she said she received death threats.

    “This is a modern-day night ride, and everybody knows it,” Gardner said, referring to Ku Klux Klan tactics of the 19th and early 20th centuries. “And for a president to participate in it … is scary.”

    […]

    The hard-right Breitbart News website reported that Nick Sandmann, a student who sued media outlets after footage of a confrontation with a Native American activist went viral, and Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the Parkland school shooting, will also address the convention.

    South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, who recently gave Trump a model of Mount Rushmore with his head added next to those of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, will speak too.

    […]

    Vice-president Mike Pence will speak from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a patriotic site celebrated in the US national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

    […]

  66. says

    Two things said out loud by Trump yesterday:

    And we moved the capital [lol] of Israel to Jerusalem. That’s for the Evangelicals. You know, it’s amazing with that: the Evangelicals are more excited by that than Jewish people.”

    I keep hearing about suburban women. You know, in one speech recently, I called you suburban housewives, and they all loved it, but what I got, they said, sir, I don’t know if that’s politically correct. I said, don’t worry about it, they’ll get over it. But we saved the suburbs … you know what I’m talking about.”

  67. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current lying liars lying loathmostly live blog:

    […]
    Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the head of the US Postal Service (USPS), will testify even earlier than expected, testifying before the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, the Washington Post is reporting this morning.

    The move is likely an attempt from Senate Republicans to get the first word in before DeJoy testifies in front of the House. House Democrats had announced yesterday that they called DeJoy to testify in front of the House Oversight Committee on Monday.
    […]

  68. blf says

    Sadly, what the thugs spew also doesn’t work (from the Grauniad’s current pandemic main live blog):

    Namibia’s health minister has warned against the use of elephant dung, traditionally steamed and inhaled as a cure for the flu, to ward off coronavirus.

    […]

    “I am worried about unscrupulous people who would make other people spend money on useless remedies in the hope that they will be cured,” Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula told AFP on Tuesday, denouncing elephant dung sellers as “opportunistic”.

    “A desperate person may do a desperate thing,” he added. “It is unethical. Do not spend money on useless remedies.”

    The Minister’s warning, description, and concern also apply to hair furor and his various quack “cures”.

  69. blf says

    Cheating is a way of life for Donald Trump — and now it’s his election strategy:

    […]
    He has been accused of cheating on all three of his wives and cheating his workers out of pay cheques. As a teenager, he reportedly paid someone to take his SAT exams so he could cheat his way into university. It is suspected he cheated on his taxes. He is rumoured to brazenly cheat at golf.

    As his niece, Mary Trump, has said, Donald Trump embraces “cheating as a way of life”. And now he is embracing it as an election strategy: Trump is openly and unabashedly attempting to rig November’s presidential election.

    The only way the US can have a free and fair election during a pandemic is if there is widespread postal voting — something Trump and his lackeys are doing their best to prevent. […] The richest country in the world now has a postal system so unfit for purpose that the USPS recently warned 46 states and Washington DC that it could not guarantee that all of the postal votes cast in November would be counted.

    Trump is not even trying to hide what he is doing […]. The corruption is so blatant that, if it were going on in any other country, the US would have invaded and promised to install democracy.

    […] Trump is definitely going to contest November’s results. Even if he wins by a landslide, he will argue that the voting was rigged and the landslide should have been bigger. If he wins by a tiny margin, he will shout Unfair! and argue that the votes for Biden were fraudulent. And if he loses? Well, it will get very messy. […]

  70. says

    Excerpts from the Washington Post article to which SC referred in comment 96:

    At least 20 states plan to file lawsuits this week against the U.S. Postal Service and its new postmaster, Louis DeJoy, seeking to reverse service changes that have prompted widespread reports of delays and accusations of an intentional effort to thwart voters from mailing their ballots this fall.

    The suits, expected to be filed in federal court imminently, will argue that the Postal Service broke the law by making operational changes without first seeking approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. They will also argue that the changes will impede states’ ability to run free and fair elections […] The Constitution gives states and Congress, not the executive branch, the power to regulate elections.

    “We’re trying to stop Trump’s attacks on the Postal Service, which we believe to be an attack on the integrity of election. It’s a straight-up attack on democracy,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) said in an interview. “This conduct is illegal. It’s unconstitutional. It’s harmful to the country. It’s harmful to individuals.” […]

    Trump said last week that he was opposed to an emergency bailout for the agency because he does not want widespread voting by mail in the fall. […]

    State officials rush to shore up confidence in Nov. 3 election as voters express new fears about mail voting
    Maryland is signing onto a suit led by Washington state, which is expected to be filed at 2 p.m. Tuesday, and also includes Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to a draft obtained by The Post. The lawusuit names Trump as a defendant, along with the Postal Service and DeJoy.

    The Attorney General from the state of Washington has been successful in the past when it comes to challenging Trump’s illegal actions.

    Separately, Pennsylvania is filing another suit against the Postal Service, joined by California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina, among others. […]

    “We will be taking action to reinstate Postal Service standards that all Americans depend on, whether it’s for delivering their prescription drugs or for carrying their very right to vote,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Recent post office changes have been implemented recklessly, before checking the law, and we will use our authority to stop them and help ensure that every eligible ballot is counted.”

    Shapiro and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson were scheduled to announce the lawsuits Tuesday afternoon. New York Attorney General Letitia James planned separate legal action, she said in a statement Tuesday.

    […] Among the service changes the suits seek to reverse are elimination of staff overtime, altering operations at state distribution center and removing critical mail sorting equipment. All of it threatens the timely delivery of mail to individuals who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions to ballots, the states will argue.
    “States have the right to conduct mail-in elections if they choose,” Frosh said. “Trump is trying to undermine that.”

    […] Frosh said the operational changes are also a violation of the Voting Rights Act, saying the sorting machine removal disproportionately impacts cities, which tend to be home to minorities. The lawsuit also contends violations of the Americans with Disability Act by making it more difficult for people with physical disabilities and health conditions to safely cast a ballot.

    “Because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, this is asking them to risk their lives,” he said.

    The Postal Service also recently warned 46 states that it could not guarantee the delivery of ballots under their current deadlines. The agency urged states to send election mail first-class, rather than third-class […].

    Link

    The change from third-class to first class would cost millions of dollars. States can’t afford that.

  71. says

    Following Michelle Obama’s rebuke, Trump tries, fails to respond

    Asked for a response to Michelle Obama, Trump could’ve said nothing, but he couldn’t help but make himself look worse with self-defeating talking points.

    A recent national poll found former First Lady Michelle Obama with a 60% favorability rating, positioning her as the nation’s most well liked political figure. Similarly, Gallup found that Obama was the nation’s most admired woman in 2018 and 2019, despite the fact that she left the White House years earlier.

    […] she headlined the Democratic National Convention last night, delivering a breathtaking denunciation of Donald Trump’s presidency.

    “[W]henever we look to this White House for leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get is chaos and division and a total lack of empathy…. Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

    Those last five words echoed the president’s apparent indifference when asked in a recent interview about the brutal COVID-19 death toll in his own country. “They are dying, that’s true,” the Republican said earlier this month. “And it is what it is.” […]

    For his part, Donald Trump was asked this morning if he wanted to respond to Obama’s powerful remarks. It didn’t go especially well.

    “She was in over her head. And frankly, she should have made the speech live, which she didn’t do. She taped it and it was not only taped, it was taped a long time ago because she had the wrong deaths…. You know, she gets these fawning reviews. If you gave a real review, it wouldn’t be so fawning. I thought it was a very divisive speech. Extremely divisive.”

    Right off the bat, it’s hard to get over the laziness of a response like this. Michelle Obama said Trump’s “in over his head” and fostering “division,” so Trump shot back that Obama was “in over her head” and delivered “divisive” remarks.

    The president genuinely seems to believe he can “no puppet” his way through any dispute, though he invariably comes across as an intemperate toddler.

    […] Trump’s offensive against the former first lady served as a reminder that Obama “drew blood” with her indictment.

    But what I found especially amazing about the president’s response was his complaint that Obama “had the wrong deaths.” He was clearly referring to the fact that Obama, in remarks that were recorded several days ago, said in her speech that “more than 150,000” Americans have died as part of the coronavirus crisis.

    […] Trump’s principal concern was that she failed to give him full credit for a higher fatality total. The president apparently thought it would make Obama look worse if he reminded the public that tens of thousands of Americans have died from COVID-19 since she recorded her remarks.

    […] Asked if he had a response to Michelle Obama, Trump could’ve very easily said he didn’t watch any of the remarks last night because he was too busy working on affairs of state. No one would’ve believed that, of course, but it would’ve helped him avoid any questions about the Democratic convention.

    And it would’ve been vastly better than what Trump actually said.

  72. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news:

    […] Despite Biden’s opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters — a union with hundreds of thousands of members in North America — is throwing its support behind the Democratic presidential ticket.

    A senior Trump administration official known only as “Anonymous,” who wrote an extraordinary 2018 op-ed and a 2019 best-selling book, is now urging voters to elect Biden and remove Donald Trump from office.

    […] tonight will be the second night of the Democratic National Convention, and among the prominent speakers will be former President Bill Clinton and Dr. Jill Biden.

    Link

  73. says

    The problem with Trump’s shot across Andrew Cuomo’s bow

    Attacking Cuomo, Trump said higher-than-expected death tolls are evidence of an elected chief executive’s failure and “incompetence.”

    That’s … not smart.

    In pre-recorded remarks, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) addressed the Democratic convention virtually last night, reflecting on his state serving as “ground zero” for the early coronavirus outbreak. The governor, not surprisingly, criticized the Trump administration’s “dysfunctional and incompetent” response to the crisis.

    “We saw the failure of a government that tried to deny the virus, then tried to ignore it, and then tried to politicize it,” Cuomo said. He added, “For all the suffering and tears, our way worked and it was beautiful…. Americans’ eyes have been opened and we’ve seen the truth: That government matters and leadership matters.”

    It wasn’t unusual to see Donald Trump fire back via Twitter, but I’m not sure he thought through the nature of his message.

    “Now [Associated Press] estimates that the real Cuomo number of people killed because of his total incompetence is 11,000, not the 6000 that was originally thought!”

    It was one of 12 Cuomo-related tweets the president either wrote or promoted over the course of a half-hour last night.

    To be sure, there’s room for real scrutiny of New York’s response to COVID-19. Yesterday, The Atlantic published a compelling piece questioning the extent to which the state should be seen as a coronavirus success story.

    But while those questions certainly matter, Trump’s preferred line of attack is bizarre: is the fact that New York had a higher-than-expected death toll evidence of an elected chief executive’s failure and “incompetence”? Is this really the line the president wants to peddle as his country’s death toll climbs past 170,000 — and counting?

    As historian Kevin M. Kruse put it, in a missive that was clearly sarcastic, “Yes, attributing the blame for coronavirus deaths to the politicians in charge is an excellent thing for you to do, yes, that’s very smart, yes.”

    Yes, New York’s leaders made mistakes, but they also self-corrected along the way. While Cuomo spoke, a graph behind him showed the peak of the coronavirus cases in NY, followed by the obvious reduction in cases … and the continuation of holding-the-line, (keeping coronavirus infections low). Trump cannot not show that same success on a nationwide basis.

  74. says

    As GOP scrambles, USPS workers blast Team Trump’s recent changes

    When it comes to the uproar over the U.S. Postal Service, Donald Trump and Louis DeJoy almost certainly didn’t see the firestorm coming.

    It stands to reason that Republicans don’t want to be seen as standing against the U.S. Postal Service. […] 91% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Postal Service, making it, in quantifiable terms, the single most popular institution in the United States.

    What’s more, every time a household or business is frustrated by a delayed delivery — in an election season — GOP leaders don’t want those Americans thinking, “This is Donald Trump’s and his party’s fault.”

    […] Republicans are scrambling to voice their support for the USPS. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CNBC the other day, “The Postal Service will have the funding that it needs. We will make sure of that.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added yesterday, “The Postal Service is going to be just fine. We’re going to make sure that the ability to function going into the election is not adversely affected.”

    Distancing himself from Trump’s apparent offensive against the mail service, McConnell reportedly added, “I don’t share the concerns that the president … has mentioned.”

    For his part, the president tweeted yesterday that he wants to “SAVE THE POST OFFICE” and make it “GREAT AGAIN.” Trump went on to tell reporters that his administration hasn’t done anything to slow mail delivery. [JFC!]

    […] postal workers are increasingly unreserved in their criticisms of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy […]

    In his two months on the job, DeJoy […] has overseen major operational changes that he said are aimed at cutting costs and increasing efficiency. Among the changes: elimination of overtime and instructions to postal workers to set out on their routes even if it means mail arriving later is left behind at distribution centers. According to postal workers who spoke with NBC News, the changes have upended the mail delivery system and significantly delayed the delivery of items, including express mail.

    […] a variety of developments are poised to speed up on Capitol Hill. David Williams, a former Postal Service inspector general, is reportedly set to provide House Democrats with a private briefing on Thursday, at which point he’ll discuss his resignation as vice chair of the USPS Board of Governors.

    NBC News reported that Williams “stepped down amid what he considered President Donald Trump’s undue influence over the USPS independent Board of Governors and the process of selecting the new postmaster general.”

    […] the Democratic-led House is now planning to vote on Saturday morning “on a bill that would include $25 billion in new funding for the U.S. Postal Service and reverse changes implemented in recent weeks to mail delivery and operations.” It’s expected to pass, though it’ll be interesting to see how many GOP lawmakers, if any, support the legislation.

    In case that weren’t quite enough, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) yesterday asked the FBI to investigate whether DeJoy or any USPS official “committed any crimes in light of nationwide delays and issues” with the postal service. (It is a federal crime to willfully obstruct mail delivery.)

    And finally, there’s Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has sent letters to members of the USPS board of governors, reminding them of their authority to reverse decisions made by the postmaster general.

    I have a hunch Trump and DeJoy didn’t see any of this coming when they started implementing their so-called “reforms” in recent weeks.

    Trump and his lickspittles are consistently clueless.

  75. says

    Admiral from bin Laden raid warns of Trump’s ‘autocratic’ ways

    Retired Adm. William McRaven, who lead the US Special Operations Command, has become one of the nation’s most forceful Trump detractors.

    […] retired American military leaders have stepped up in recent months to denounce and rebuke Donald Trump. The list includes four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, each of whom have publicly slammed the incumbent president ahead of his re-election bid.

    But one retired U.S. military leader in particular has gone further than most in warning the public about the man in the Oval Office.

    Retired Adm. William McRaven, the former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, is perhaps best known to Americans as the Navy SEAL who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. This week, he wrote a Washington Post op-ed making the case that Donald Trump is putting “our institutions and our democracy” at risk.

    Today, as we struggle with social upheaval, soaring debt, record unemployment, a runaway pandemic, and rising threats from China and Russia, President Trump is actively working to undermine every major institution in this country. […] And, if the president doesn’t trust the intelligence community, law enforcement, the press, the military, the Supreme Court, the medical professionals, election officials and the postal workers, then why should we? And if Americans stop believing in the system of institutions, then what is left but chaos and who can bring order out of chaos: only Trump. It is the theme of every autocrat who ever seized power or tried to hold onto it.

    This is, to be sure, a striking denunciation, especially from a decorated combat veteran and retired four-star admiral.

    But just as notable is the frequency with which McRaven has stepped up to voice criticisms like these.

    Just weeks into the Trump era, the retired admiral tipped his toes in these waters, describing Trump’s condemnations of his own country’s free press possibly “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

    About a year later, after the president said he’d revoke the security clearances of some of his critics, McRaven wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post urging Trump to revoke his security clearance, too, explaining that he would consider it “an honor” to stand alongside those “who have spoken up against your presidency.”

    Last fall, McRaven wrote another piece, this time for the New York Times, reflecting on the president’s willingness to break faith with American allies and American principles. He added that “the fate of our Republic” may depend upon replacing Trump as quickly as possible.

    In February 2020, McRaven wrote another Washington Post op-ed, which concluded, “As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.”

    Four months later, the retired Navy admiral explained, “President Trump has shown he doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be a good commander in chief.” On the anniversary of D-Day, McRaven contrasted Trump’s style with the kind of qualities from earlier wartime leaders. “As we have struggled with the COVID pandemic and horrible acts of racism and injustice, this president has shown none of those qualities,” the admiral said. “The country needs to move forward without him at the helm.”

    This week, McRaven rang the alarm anew, positioning himself as one of the nation’s most unexpected, most forceful, and most credible Trump detractors.

    When this line of criticism started in earnest, Trump responded, “I don’t know McRaven.” Evidently, McRaven knows him all too well.

  76. says

    What DeJoy said:

    Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday, days before a slate of congressional hearings, that he will postpone the USPS overhaul until after the November election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”

    He said that, for now, approval of overtime hours for postal workers will continue “as needed,” and that mail processing equipment will be untouched and centers left open.

    “In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand,” he said.

    Comments from readers:

    Hmmmmm…pause the overhaul. Will this include putting back the removed collection boxes and unlocking the locked ones?!?
    ——————-
    That’s some quick walk-back.
    ——————
    De Joy got thrown under De Bus.

    Somebody told him the State AGs were serious about bringing up criminal charges.

    Only leverage he had, like the other Trump collaborators, was to out Trump. Then he knows he’ll get protection from Barr. (A good example of this is Amb. Sondland, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn). Trump didn’t want to be tied to this scandal this late in the election cycle, so he’s telling De Joy to give up the game.
    ———————-
    And what about the many many sorting machines that had been removed and thrown in dumpsters–what about them.
    ——————–

    Son of a [B-word] already removed something like 450 sorting machines and removed or locked thousands of mail boxes. Why? Why would someone intentionally instate policies that have already slowed the mail resulting in long delays in people getting meds, checks and bills? Go get em Kamala and Katie. Closing the barn door now does not excuse what the partisan plutocrat has already done to the USPS.
    ———————
    He has to undo everything he did since he took the job.
    Investigations must continue.
    ——————–
    WTF does approval of overtime “as needed” mean? Who decides and how transparent will that be?
    ———————
    Pause my ass: He’s already damaged delivery in key Democratic strongholds in swing states! It needs to be reversed!
    ——————-
    Make DeJoy pay for them [the scrapped sorting machines] out of his own pocket.
    —————–
    The capacity issue is what the Senate Dems (incl. Harris) will focus on. House Dems will as well. Pelosi is bringing a postal service bill that will probably include capacity restoration provisions. Overtime is big and De Joy signaled that he’d restore it, though the statement doesn’t go far enough. It has to be restored. I trust postal service workers to take good care of ballots if they are being paid a fair wage for the time they work.
    ———————–
    who coordinated his crimes with The Trump administration/campaign?
    ———————–
    This could turn into a double-win: not only will current policies be reversed but now all eyes are firmly on the post office until the election to make sure ballots are processed efficiently
    ——————-
    And we he be rehiring the managers he fired and the postal workers he laid off?
    ———————
    Translation: I’ve already done enough to fuck up the election. Overkill would have been nice, but I got caught.
    ———————
    You still gotta testify, you chicken motherfucker. Katie Porter has her boning knife ready to make you spout your reasons for pulling this Trumpian bullshit in the first place, and Gym Jordan’s support for your egregious actions is not going to save your sorry ass.

    Oh, and there is an INSANE interview on CNN wherein Anderson Cooper is beating the toxic rubber foam stuffing out of the My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell.

    Cooper: “You could be in the Old West standing on a box telling people to drink your amazing elixir.” Link to interview

  77. says

    George Floyd’s brothers lead moment of silence at Democratic National Convention

    Video available at the link.

    he brothers of George Floyd—the Black man whose arrest and death sparked protests throughout the nation—led a powerful moment of silence Monday on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Speaking virtually from Texas, Philonise Floyd spoke about his late brother’s “selfless” and “giving spirit” while Rodney Floyd, another of George Floyd’s brothers, listened.

    “A spirit that has shown up on streets around our nation, and around the world—people of all races, all ages, all genders, all backgrounds—peacefully protesting in the name of love and unity,” Philonise Floyd said. “It’s a fitting legacy for our brother. But George should be alive today.”

    “Breonna Taylor should be alive today. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland—they should all be alive today. So it’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice. Our actions will be their legacies. We must always find ourselves in what John Lewis called ‘good trouble.’ For the names we do not know, the faces we will never see, those we can’t mourn because their murders didn’t go viral. Please join me in a moment of silence, to honor George and the many other souls we’ve lost to hate and injustice. And when this moment ends, let’s make sure we never stop saying their names.” […]

  78. says

    A GOP Congress Member Received “Sensitive Documents” From Russian Officials in 2016

    Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with a Russian involved in “targeting elections,” a Senate committee finds.

    Former GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher had more extensive contacts with Russian officials attempting to influence US politics than previously known, the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a report released Monday.

    […] The efforts to influence Rohrabacher, who formerly chaired a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that oversaw relations with Russia, are among examples of the Kremlin’s success in exerting influence in Washington.

    The panel examined a trip to Russia that Rohrabacher took in April 2016 as part of a congressional delegation. During the visit, the lawmaker and an aide, Paul Behrends, brushed off the concerns of diplomats in the US embassy and “separated from the group” to attend a meeting with “a close confidant” of Vladimir Putin, the report said. They also accepted a folder containing what a Russian official claimed were “sensitive” materials. These Russian efforts dovetailed with Moscow’s attempts a few months later to help the Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by passing on what they claimed was damaging information related to Hillary Clinton. […]

    During this meeting, Kosachev handed Rohrabacher a note asking if Rohrabacher would accept “sensitive documents.” Rohrabacher agreed. The Congress member was then “approached by several individuals who handed him a folder of documents,” the report says. Rohrabacher didn’t know who the men were, but he later told the committee he believed they were from the Russian prosecutor’s office. […]

    The material Rohrabacher received included unsubstantiated allegations that three Americans—Dirk, Robert, and Daniel Ziff—who had donated money to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, had engaged in financial fraud in Russia. […]

    “You won’t believe it: he supports the annexation of Crimea to Russia,” Maria Butina wrote, also noting Rohrabacher’s opposition to US sanctions on Russia. […]

  79. says

    ICE Guards “Systematically” Sexually Assault Detainees in an El Paso Detention Center, Lawyers Say

    Allegations include guards attacking victims in camera “blind spots” and telling them that “no one would believe” them in ICE detention centers, which imprison about 50,000 immigrants each year at a taxpayer expense of $2.7 billion.

    […] Guards in an immigrant detention center in El Paso sexually assaulted and harassed inmates in a “pattern and practice” of abuse, according to a complaint filed by a Texas advocacy group urging the local district attorney and federal prosecutors to conduct a criminal investigation.

    The allegations, detailed in a filing first obtained by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, maintain that guards systematically assaulted at least three people in a facility overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement—often in areas of the detention center not visible to security cameras. The guards told victims that no one would believe them because footage did not exist and the harassment involved officers as high-ranking as a lieutenant.

    According to the complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and shared with prosecutors, several guards “forcibly” kissed and touched the intimate parts of at least one woman. She faces deportation next week — meaning investigators could lose a key witness. Her attorneys have requested that immigration officials pause her deportation pending a review of the matter.

    The woman said in a telephone interview that she would rather return to Mexico, even though she is in danger there. She said she worried about being targeted in the detention center for speaking up about the abuse.

    “It’s going to get worse now,” she said. “I can’t handle this anymore.”

    Since the complaint was filed Wednesday, two more women, including one who is currently detained in the El Paso facility and one who was previously held there, have come forward with abuse allegations. At least one other woman was deported after a guard assaulted her, detainees told lawyers. […]

  80. says

    From Marco Rubio:

    Brilliant move! No one is more in touch with the challenges & obstacles faced by everyday Americans than actors & celebrities.

    From Wonkette:

    […] It’s typical but annoying that Republicans enjoy denigrating an entire profession. Actors are also rarely “the elite.” They are often just a single big role removed from eating ramen and living in a run-down studio with four other actors. Eva Longoria grew up working class.

    Longoria didn’t show up Monday [at the first day of the Democratic Convention] dripping in bling and ready for her Norma Desmond closeup. She specifically said: “I am here tonight as a ninth-generation Texan, as a daughter of a veteran and a teacher, as a mother, as a voter, and as a patriot.” […]

    […] Marco likes to go on about his humble beginnings as the son of Cuban immigrants. His father was a bartender and his mother a housekeeper. Rubio is now a spineless, donor-owned senator. It’s the American dream! Longoria’s story is similar except for the part where she doesn’t suck.

    She didn’t grow up wealthy. She worked at Wendy’s as a teen instead of “selling” lemonade to her household staff like a common Ivanka Trump. Her “big break” was a part on “Young and the Restless,” but soap stars aren’t wealthy by any measure. Even veteran cast members earn mid-six figures. They aren’t poor but they don’t spend their evenings lighting cigars with $100 bills, either. When I lived in New York, I knew working actors, hedge fund managers, and corporate lawyers. The actors weren’t the rich ones.

    Longoria earned millions while on “Desperate Housewives,” and conservatives should applaud her class mobility. Instead, they seek to marginalize her because she earned her fortune honestly, unlike the current first family. I assume Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump will speak at the Republican National Convention and both are rich, entitled twits with zero understanding of the “challenges and obstacles faced by everyday Americans.” […]

    It’s also not as if Republicans are all former truckers. Donald Trump was born rich and was gifted a “small loan” of $1 million for his failed business hobby (more like $60.7 million in actual, non-lie currency). But Trump is literally only president because of his celebrity. Middle America knew him best as the host of a reality show. And the party’s sainted Ronald Reagan was a former actor. […]

    Longoria said last night that she shares “Joe Biden’s belief that the story of America is one of ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things. And at our best, our country rewards hard work, we celebrate diversity, we look out for each other, and we lift one another up.”

    This reflects how Longoria has used her wealth and fame over the past 15 years. She founded the Eva Longoria Foundation, which promotes entrepreneurship and education among Latinas. She’s partnered with philanthropist Howard Buffett to provide loans for Latina women who want to start their own small businesses. She’s also an immigration activist — despite having deeper roots in the US than Trump himself — and has focused her recent charity work on victims of the administration’s family separation policy. […]

    Also, Longoria earned her master’s in Chicano studies during her run on “Desperate Housewives,” so just shut the fuck up forever, Marco.

    https://www.wonkette.com/little-marco-rubio-aint-got-s-t-on-eva-longoria

  81. says

    From Ruth Marcus:

    […] Michelle Obama’s speech, in the quarantine-induced quiet of her home, spoke instead to the undeniably grim reality of America under Trump. The odd intimacy of the setting reinforced the power of the message. It was impossible to listen to her words and not feel worried about the nation’s future. “It’s a hard time, and everyone’s feeling it in different ways,” she began, and so ensued 18 minutes of relentless indictment of […] Trump, even if she deigned to mention his name only once.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” Obama said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.” And, in a devastating borrowing of Trump’s own language about the pandemic: “It is what it is.” […]

    “So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election,” she said. “If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.” […]

    She called out Trump’s unrepentant racism: “Here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office.” […]

    “Going high,” she said, “means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold, hard truth.”

    The cold, hard truth. That’s what Michelle Obama delivered. She went high — and right for the jugular.

    Washington Post link

  82. tomh says

    California Finalizes Deal With Five Automakers to Reduce Emissions
    August 17 NICK CAHILL

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Marking substantial progress in California’s fight against the Trump administration’s bid to weaken emissions standards, the state announced Monday it had finalized commitments with five major automakers to continue producing cleaner and more electric cars.

    The California Air Resources Board says the individual deals reached with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group of America, Volvo and BMW of North America will help enshrine the state’s stringent clean air goals regardless of whether the courts uphold President Donald Trump’s contentious rollback of the Obama-era rules. According to the board, the voluntary deals apply to model years 2021-2026 and will prevent hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
    […]

    The Trump administration stunned state officials and environmentalists in August 2018 when it proposed rolling back Obama-era vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards that were intended to nearly double passenger vehicle’s fuel economy and halve their carbon emissions by 2025.

    The Environmental Protection Agency defended its decision and cast California’s standards as regulatory burdens that were preventing automakers from producing cheap cars, calling for one uniform standard. Meanwhile, Trump claimed the move would lead to a rush of “less expensive cars” and be a boon for consumers and workers.
    […]

    After the rollback was finalized, California predictably responded with a pair of federal lawsuits that are pending in the District of Columbia, joined by 22 other states. The state argues the EPA lacks the authority to revoke a waiver intended to improve air pollution in the first place.

    Looking to hedge its legal battles, California began talks with automakers and announced the proposed deals in July 2019.

    The agreements angered Trump, who lashed out on Twitter and called the automakers “foolish” for agreeing to work with California regulators. The Department of Justice then opened an antitrust probe into the automakers but quickly dropped it in February 2020.
    […]

    While the state’s workaround does include industry titans like Ford and Honda, others including General Motors and Toyota are backing Trump’s rollback.

  83. says

    It is huge. In Grodno, the city executive committee issued a statement, in which local authorities promised to respect the right to protest; public apology was issued by the local interior department; opposition will have access to local media,and more

    …This step from the local authorities in Grodna, even if stopped tomorrow, may inspire other parts of the country. As much as local authorities have always been appointed by the man at the top, they may still take decisions”

  84. says

    Trump’s Defense Secretary wants to privatize military healthcare using budget cuts

    […] Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a man chosen by Donald Trump, has created a “cost-cutting review” of the Pentagon. On Sunday Politico reported that one of Esper’s bright ideas is to cut their healthcare budget by $2.2 billion. This move would effectively hurt around 9.5 million active-duty personnel, military retirees, and their dependents who rely on the military health system. Also, there’s a pandemic happening right now.

    […] the one place they look to cut costs in our military is … health care. […]

    You know, the private insurance game that has been ballooning out of control while providing less and less effective coverage for decades now? It’s important to note that the phrase being used here is “eliminate inefficiencies.” Unfortunately, while the Trump administration actually boosts and blows out how much money the Pentagon gets to play with, the nickel-and-diming of its health system is a special kind of cruelty.

    Trump, realizing that this story was going to be a big problem for him, tweeted on Monday that, “A proposal by Pentagon officials to slash Military Healthcare by $2.2 billion dollars has been firmly and totally rejected by me. We will do nothing to hurt our great Military professionals & heroes as long as I am your President. Thank you!” However, the damage was already done. Trump is a lying sack of … corruption, and what he says now means nothing tomorrow.

    […] the decisions on how to cut back the budget seem to not take into account the best way to run a department of defense. At issue is not so much the money being cut, but how and where it is being cut.

    “A lot of the decisions were made in dark, smoky rooms, and it was driven by arbitrary numbers of cuts,” said one senior defense official with knowledge of the process. “They wanted to book the savings to be able to report it.”

    […] Trump administration and the Republican Party continue their efforts to run the military like a private business. Their hopes are to turn our military into a privately run business, allowing war and pain and PTSD to become commodities for their donor list to make money off of.

    It’s important to note that the real practical criticism of Esper’s proposed budget cuts to the military health system are that these cuts would directly impact, right away, the number of resources available to active and retired military and their dependents. Resources like doctors. […]

    Trying to privatize the military health system when our current civilian healthcare system is a disaster is a special kind of hubris only seen at the lowest rings of Dante’s Inferno. A budget cut I can think of off the top of my head that wouldn’t adversely affect our country’s defense nor the people who serve in our defense is cutting 100% of the budget on things like narcissistic, egomaniacal “military parades” for a worthless president.

  85. says

    Guardian – “‘He killed a party and a country’: a Chinese insider hits out at Xi Jinping”:

    For years, Cai Xia, a former professor at China’s elite Central Party School, has watched the ruling Communist party decay from the inside. Now she is out.

    On Monday she was expelled from the party, two months after an audio recording of her describing the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, as a “mafia boss” was leaked online.

    In an interview with the Guardian in June, Cai went even further in her denunciation of Xi, discussing what she considered to be his mistakes as a leader and why she believed a democratic transition would take place one day. Then she asked that her comments not be published because of threats that she and her family had received.

    Now that she has been expelled and is outside of China, Cai says she is free to speak. “My speech is free from any constraints. Now I am responsible only for my own conscience and principles,” she told the Guardian on Tuesday.

    The following is an edited transcript of the June interview, Cai’s first after the audio recording was published.

    Q: In your speech you said Xi forced through the amendment of China’s constitution to abolish term limits in 2018, giving him the ability to stay in power indefinitely. Why was that such a turning point?

    He forced the third plenum of the national congress to swallow it like dog shit. He first completed it and then forced everyone to accept it. This is obviously going backwards politically. Even with these two major issues, no one came forward to oppose it.

    That shows that the Communist party of China has become a political zombie. The party has no ability to correct errors. So he singlehandedly killed a party and a country, showing that even when confronted with such a major question of altering the constitution, the party has no power to stop him….

    More atl.

  86. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Countries led by women had “systematically and significantly better” Covid-19 outcomes, research appears to show, locking down earlier and suffering half as many deaths on average as those led by men, Jon Henley reports.

    The relative early success of leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen and Finland’s Sanna Marin has so far attracted many headlines but little academic attention.

    The analysis of 194 countries, published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum, suggests the difference is real and “may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses” adopted by female leaders.

    Even after clear and frequently cited outliers such as New Zealand and Germany – and the US for male leaders – were removed from the statistics, the study found, the case for the relative success of female leaders was only strengthened.

    Get the full story here:…

  87. says

    Rep. Nadler: “DeJoy’s statement, which says nothing about remedying the damage he’s already done and asserts @USPS is ready for an influx of election mail despite all evidence to the contrary, cannot be taken in good faith. House Dems will do our job and pass leg. protecting @USPS on Saturday.”

  88. blf says

    Feck. The bar nearest me (and also one of my favourites) is closed, a sign on the door saying that yesterday (Monday) a member of staff tested positive. Not sure how much of a Risk I am at (for assorted reasons I won’t go into at the moment), but I should now became familiar with testing… my current understanding is there is supposed to be free, on-demand, testing, but the details are unknown to me.

  89. says

    “Engel Statement on State Department Temper Tantrum”:

    Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:

    “As the Committee gets closer to answers on a range of pressing oversight issues, Secretary Pompeo has tried to thwart us at every turn.

    “Last night, the Department informed my office that it was canceling key staff-level briefings this week, explicitly tying that action to the Committee’s probe into the firing of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. To be clear, these briefings had nothing to do with ongoing oversight requests but were related to a range of concerns that bear on U.S. security and leadership around the world. One was about counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel, particularly on Mali’s security forces, which coincidentally are attempting a coup today; one was about the Islamic State’s recent takeover of a port in Mozambique near a massive American investment; one was about the closure of our consulate in Chengdu, China.

    “This action arose because I abide by the Constitution’s separation of powers and refuse to allow the State Department to dictate how the Committee on Foreign Affairs conducts oversight. Since Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo fired the Inspector General with no good explanation, the Secretary has resisted the Committee’s efforts to get answers. He has given the press his list of vague grievances, teeming with half-truths and falsehoods, as though I’m the one to blame for his ceaseless efforts to intimidate witnesses and sidestep straightforward information requests. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s the behavior of someone trying desperately to hide the truth, stonewall oversight, and keep the American people from discovering what he’s up to.

    “On top of that, Mr. Pompeo has apparently funneled State Department resources toward the Senate Republican-led smear campaign against former Vice President Biden, which itself is amplifying Russian disinformation targeting our election. On that matter, Mr. Pompeo has defied a duly authorized subpoena, throwing up specious legal arguments in a futile attempt to hide his glaringly partisan behavior and possible illegal acts at the State Department he runs.

    “And with this latest action, Mr. Pompeo is sending a clear message: stop investigating me or the State Department is going to stop engaging Congress on other matters of national security. This isn’t just petty; it’s dangerous. Congress and the Administration need to work together on the challenges facing our country or our security will suffer.

    “It’s regrettable that Mr. Pompeo has resorted to ad hominem attacks against and myself and my staff in this matter. I won’t do the same, though it is saddening to see the office of the Secretary of State reduced to this sort of personal name-calling. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs for American diplomacy and harmful to our constitutional system.

    “Nevertheless, the Committee’s work goes on. We continue to hear from witnesses, including Pompeo senior advisor Toni Porter, who appeared for a voluntary interview today about the Inspector General firing, particularly that IG’s office was looking into allegations that the Secretary misused Department resources for his own needs and whims. I remain committed to getting answers for the American people.”

  90. blf says

    DeJoy’s announcement that he is (supposedly) suspending destroying the USPS had me shouting at my mobile during dinner (burph!) at a nice restaurant, mostly about the point others have already raised: That doesn’t reverse the damage already done. (Fortunately, the restaurant wasn’t too busy and the owner “knows” me, so this did not cause any problems — and after I briefly explained, I got a free cognac!)

  91. says

    CNN – “Former DHS official: Trump will ‘align with dictators around the world’ if he wins”:

    A former senior Trump administration official who is endorsing Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said Tuesday that if President Donald Trump wins a second term he will “align with dictators around the world.”

    “There are people serving very close to the President that have told me verbatim we should expect, quote, ‘shock and awe’ if the President wins a second term. You will see a flurry of executive orders. You will see the President pull out of foreign alliances. You will see the President align with dictators around the world,” said Miles Taylor, who served as chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”

    “And if right now we’re less safe because we have fewer friends and stronger enemies than before, you can expect to see that on steroids in another four years of the Trump administration,” Taylor added.

    Taylor also claimed that the White House is working to “dig up dirt” on him because of his rebuke of Trump.

    “I just got word within the past hour that a White House liaison employee at the department has been directed to go around to dig up dirt on me. Now, look, I’m fine with that. I can handle it,” he said.

    “But here’s the point: the administration, within hours of me speaking out about this, is already using taxpayer dollars for political purposes at the department. That just goes to show you that they can’t break out of this cycle,” Taylor added.

  92. blf says

    SC@129, Thanks. I’m not going to worry about it tonight… albeit I’m now obviously much more concerned.

  93. says

    From Doreen St. Félix, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Michelle Obama looked like, and embodied, the archetypical voice of a concerned neighbor, speaking from the home. And yet what followed was something unprecedented, the invention of a form: the civilian State of the Union speech. The teleprompter was there, but virtually unnoticeable. “Good evening, everyone. It’s a hard time, and everyone’s feeling it in different ways,” she began. With both her words and her face, Obama painted a dark picture of America today. Detailing the inability of children to attend school, she winced. Our children, she said, “see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything, because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else.” […] the state on the brink of apocalypse, three hundred million lives in the balance. […]

    “You know I hate politics,” Obama said. This is the genius of Michelle Obama’s political life. She is a true weapon for politicians, saying what they can never say but what the people desperately want to hear. The reluctance in such a line—its tone of “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed”—is counterintuitively electrifying. “This is not the time to withhold our votes in protest or play games with candidates who have no chance of winning,” Obama said. This was a scolding: wearing her “Vote” nameplate necklace, Obama urged voters to prepare their brown-bag dinners, to get ready to wait in line to vote all night if they have to, however distant the act of casting a vote might feel from the real facts of how Trump won his Presidency, by, as Obama reminded us, coming up more than three million votes short in the popular vote. […]

    Link

  94. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    Ten governors are apparently going to work cooperatively on coordinating COVID-19 testing: “To hear Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Virginia’s Ralph Northam tell it, the growing number of governors coming together to buy millions of rapid-response coronavirus tests is a direct response to the Trump administration’s failure to impose a national testing strategy.”

    Everything about Iowa’s disaster declaration has been a little odd: “[…] Trump said he had signed an emergency declaration for Iowa to help supply federal money to help the state recover from an unusual wind storm that struck a week ago but federal emergency management officials later confirmed he had only signed a portion of the request.”

    […] A Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman said in an email that Trump had approved the public assistance portion of the governor’s request totaling about $45 million covering 16 counties. That portion of the declaration provides debris removal and repair to government buildings and utilities. He did not, however, approve the individual assistance request for 27 counties that includes $82.7 million for homes destroyed or with major damage and $3.77 billion for agriculture damage to farm land, grain bins and buildings and $100 million for private utilities repair. […]

    Alas, misinformation and failures of critical thinking can spread like a virus, too: “Doctors on the front lines of the global pandemic say they are fighting not just the coronavirus, but also increasingly combating a never-ending scourge of misinformation about the disease that is hurting patients.” NY Times link

    Physicians say they regularly treat people more inclined to believe what they read on Facebook than what a medical professional tells them.

    An emergency room doctor in Illinois was accused in April of profiting from naming coronavirus as the cause of a patient’s death, a rumor spreading online.

    An internist in New York treated a vomiting patient in May who drank a bleach mixture as part of a fake virus cure found on YouTube.

    And in June a paramedic in Britain aided a clearly sick man who had refused to go to a hospital after reading misleading warnings about poor coronavirus treatment on social media. […]

  95. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 134.

    More from Aaron Rupar’s thread:

    Trump, projecting, accuses Biden’s campaign of being a “cult”

    “If I weren’t president, I don’t think you’d have a Second Amendment right now” — Trump

    There are no more caravans anymore! They don’t come up anymore!

    Trump is very red. [Yes he was, super red in the face.]

    “Murderers, killers, rapists” — after pushing some unvarnished racism, Trump short-circuits when he tries to say “removal”

  96. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Trump fetal tissue ethics board urges rejection of nearly all research proposals
    By Amy Goldstein
    August 18, 2020

    A new advisory board, created to review the ethics of proposed fetal tissue research grants, is urging the Trump administration to block government funding for nearly all of the applications — essentially seeking to ban support for most such scientific work.

    The recommendation that the National Institutes of Health withhold funds from all but one of a slate of 14 research proposals means that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who has the final say, would need to buck the will of a board he convened — and of social conservatives crucial to President Trump’s political base.

    The board sent its advice in a report to HHS Tuesday, less than three weeks after the announcement of its members, two-thirds of whom are outspoken opponents of abortion, fetal tissue research, or both. The group has operated in secrecy, with even its own members unaware of who else was on it until the end of July, when it held a single, day-long virtual meeting, most of it closed to the public. Members were required to sign nondisclosure agreements about their deliberations.
    […]

    Scientists who use fetal tissue in their work, as well as their advocacy organizations, were infuriated by the report, regarding it as a worst-case scenario which they had predicted for months.

    “The evaluation process for research should be insulated from ideology and special interests,” said a statement swiftly issued by the International Society for Stem Cell Research. “It is disheartening to see an ethics review perverted by an administration seeking to achieve a policy goal, a near ban on research with human fetal tissue.”
    […]

    Putting the HHS secretary in charge is a marked departure from the usual way the government, by far the largest source of money for biomedical research in the United States, determines which studies to support. Typically, NIH oversees such decisions, and fellow scientists assess the scientific merits of proposed grants and contracts.

    All 14 proposals reviewed by the ethics board already had been judged worthy of NIH support through the institutes’ normal, stringent review process.
    […]

    Also–“The one proposal the board recommended to be funded, on a 9-6 vote, would use fetal tissue to try to validate whether an alternative model works as well.” The purpose? “If successful, the research will obviate the need for HFT [human fetal tissue] in future models,” the report said.

  97. blf says

    Nickels and dimes in short supply as coin shortage squeezes US:

    From laundromats to kids waiting for the tooth fairy, Americans try to navigate coin shortage caused by coronavirus.

    A convenience store chain is offering a free beverage or sandwich in exchange for them. A laundromat owner drove four hours across state lines to get $8,000 worth. A young girl in Illinois wrote the tooth fairy saying she will gladly take dollars as a substitute if it helps.

    There is a shortage of coins across the United States — yet another odd side effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Quarters, dimes and nickels are not circulating as freely as they usually do because many businesses have been closed and consumers are not out spending as much.

    The US Federal Reserve announced in June that the supply system for coins had been severely disrupted. The US Mint and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have urged Americans to use coins or turn them in to banks. As the economy recovers and businesses reopen, the coin supply is expected to normalise.

    Meanwhile, retailers large and small have urged shoppers to use cards or exact change whenever possible. Some will not provide change. Grocery giant Kroger Company is still accepting cash, but offers customers the option to load their change onto loyalty cards to use on their next visit or to donate the balance to charity.

    Convenience store chain Wawa offered customers a free beverage at some of its stores if people brought in $5 worth of coins, or a sandwich for $50 or more. Community State Bank, a regional bank chain in Wisconsin, even offered a $5 bonus for every $100 worth of coins that people brought in. The bank had to suspend the offer after a week due to an overwhelming response.

    […]

    As the article goes on to note, some businesses, and some people — perhaps especially those without adequate banking — are having severe problems.

  98. blf says

    Trump raises the prospect of presidential election being rerun (Irish Times edits in {curly braces}):

    US president [sic] predicts a rigged election in November if universal postal voting is adopted

    […]

    Speaking at a White House event marking the centenary of women’s suffrage in the United States on Tuesday, Mr Trump predicted a rigged election in November.

    Universal {mail-in voting} is going to be a disaster, the likes of which our country has never seen, he said. It will end up being a rigged election or they will never come out with an outcome. They’ll have to do it again, and nobody wants that, and I don’t want that.

    He again hit out at plans by some states to send postal ballots to registered voters in advance of the election.

    […]

  99. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    BLF #140, I saw a sign to that effect at the drug store where I stopped to pick up a couple of meds last week. Made sense to me, as handling cash was considered problematic during the lock-down. It’s probably been at least six months since I used any cash. All transactions have been with plastic. Almost all bills are some type of electronic transfer. The world is changing.

  100. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sanders is being put into nomination at the dem convention with AOC seconding. An elevator operator nominated Biden. Good theater. Bernie is getting some votes, and is not ignored.

  101. blf says

    Nerd…@143, Yes, using contact-less (when possible) cards is the general advice here in France, and is what I have been doing (mostly). However, people whose banking situation is “fragile” (for want of a better word) don’t necessarily have such an option. And a few shops (here) insist on a certain minimum transaction when not using cash (which surprised me). I’m unawares of any problems with Euro coin / notes supply (locally, in France, or indeed in Euroland), and the report excerpted in @140 is the only thing I’ve seen to-date about USD coin / notes supply problems.

    The only other pandemic-related currency issue I can recall at the moment is in Cuba, but the problem there isn’t supply as such, but the lack of tourism, the worthlessness of the local currency, and the USAlien blockade — they’ve had to make USD legal-to-use (again), including re-opening so-called “hard currency” or “dollars-only” shops (Dollar back in Cuba as pandemic and US sanctions hammer economy (“The communist government has been forced to allow citizens to spend US currency at special shops, formalising a split between haves and have-nots”)).

  102. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I noticed both good mask wearing and social distancing during the roll call. The white haired gentleman and lady in the background in masks during the Vermont vote may have been Bernie with his wife.

  103. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Even since the lockdown I’ve thought people doing tv hits from home is just vastly better than in studio. And honestly watching a bit just now I feel like the virtual convention may be better too.

    Like really is it better to watch a state rep or congressperson suited up in a convention hall or in their living room doing a selfie video on an iPhone. Honestly it’s not even close.

    Really. And the people in the roll call got to show off their beautiful states and territories. Also, I thought Sally Yates’ speech was very good, and I’m not sure if someone like her would’ve wanted to appear on a stage during a regular convention.

  104. says

    This is quite something: employees of #Belarus’s national tv station, who joined the strike and demanded the end of censorship in reporting current events, were denied access to their workplaces today. They report that they were replaced by Russian specialists”

    Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, probable president-elect of #Belarus, recorded a video address to the #EU leaders urging them not to to regognise results of the the rigged #election:…”

    Video atl. There are subtitles, but she’s speaking English. Elegantly staged.

    In #Hrodna, #Belarus, workers of Azot nitrogen fertiliser factory are on labour strike today in protest against the rigged election and police brutality:…”

    #118 seems to have been premature, or a temporary lull. Subsequent reports and videos show large strike actions.

  105. says

    Guardian – “Belarus crisis: EU leaders to hold emergency talks”:

    EU leaders are to hold emergency talks to discuss the political crisis in Belarus, after 10 days of protests that have shaken Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year grip on power.

    In the run-up to the meeting on Wednesday, the Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, urged the EU not to recognise Lukashenko as president.

    “I call on you not to recognise these fraudulent elections,” she said. “Mr Lukashenko has lost all the legitimacy in the eyes of our nation and the world.”

    The bloc’s 27 heads of state will meet via video link from noon CET, where they are expected to issue a declaration of solidarity with the protest movement. They will also endorse a plan to sanction Belarusian officials who ran the disputed elections that resulted in an improbable landslide for Lukashenko, as well as those responsible for the violent political crackdown.

    Lukashenko claimed victory in presidential elections 11 days ago after official results gave him 80% of the vote, with 10% to Tikhanovskaya. The EU said the contest was neither free nor fair.

    “The people of Belarus have the right to determine their own future,” wrote the European council president, Charles Michel, in his summit invitation letter to leaders. “To allow for this, violence has to stop and a peaceful and inclusive dialogue has to be launched. The leadership of Belarus must reflect the will of the people. There should be no outside interference.”

    EU leaders have been urged to deliver a warning against meddling by Russia, after Lukashenko called Vladimir Putin for help at the weekend.

    On Tuesday, the leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, spoke to the Russian president in separate phone calls. They set out their expectations that Lukashenko would refrain from violence, release political prisoners and open dialogue with the opposition. In both calls Putin spoke against “outside interference” in Belarus, according to Kremlin readouts.

    Michel also spoke to the Russian leader. An EU official said they “discussed the best ways to encourage/assist intra-Belarusian dialogue for a peaceful end to the crisis”, adding that one option was dialogue through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    So far Lukashenko has refused all offers to talk with the opposition. “He is desperately looking for the way out, not for the country but for himself,” said Lithuania’s foreign minister, Linas Linkevičius, who added that Lukashenko needed to be involved in any talks….

  106. says

    Here’s a link to the August 19 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    A report has found that websites spreading misinformation about health attracted nearly half a billion views on Facebook in April alone, as the coronavirus pandemic escalated worldwide, write Emma Graham-Harrison and Alex Hern.

    Facebook had promised to crack down on conspiracy theories and inaccurate news early in the pandemic. But as its executives promised accountability, its algorithm appears to have fuelled traffic to a network of sites sharing dangerous false news, campaign group Avaaz has found.

    False medical information can be deadly; researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine have directly linked a single piece of coronavirus misinformation to 800 deaths.

    Pages from the top 10 sites peddling inaccurate information and conspiracy theories about health received almost four times as many views on Facebook as the top 10 reputable sites for health information, Avaaz warned in a report.

    It took a weekend to take Italy back three months in its struggle against the pandemic, writes Lorenzo Tondo, in Caltanissetta.

    Last week’s rapid increase in coronavirus infections risks erasing the progress made by the first European country to be engulfed by Covid-19 and extending the closure of schools in September.

    The alarm was sounded last Saturday, when Italy registered 629 new cases in 24 hours, up from 500 on the previous two days. Such numbers recorded in a row had not been seen since May, when Italy cautiously emerged from one of the longest lockdowns in the world after more than 30,000 Covid-related deaths.

    On Sunday the government ordered the closure of discotheques and made masks compulsory outdoors in specific areas at night – the first real restrictions since the lockdown eased.

    “We cannot nullify the sacrifices made in past months,” said the health minister, Roberto Speranza, as the spectre of a second wave began to spread across the country.

    Walter Ricciardi, a senior adviser to the Italian health ministry on the coronavirus outbreak, told the Guardian: “Italy is at a crossroads right now. If we do not apply containment measures and the numbers continue to rise, localised lockdowns will be required.”

    I’m sorry…discotheques? Italy opened discotheques?

  107. says

    ‘We are not voting for a ticket. We are not voting for a party. We are voting for a system of government: democracy over autocracy. If you vote for the Democrats, we have a chance at retaining our democracy’. — @gaslitnation

    ‘Vote for Biden and Harris, and then challenge them. Push them to pass progressive policies. Push them to hold criminal elites accountable. But there’s no chance for any of that if we live in a mafia state with a crime cult at the helm’. — @gaslitnation”

    AOC now hosting an Instagram live: ‘We need to win in November. November is about, in my opinion, stopping fascism’.

    She says progressives must help Joe Biden win and then push him to deliver results once he’s president.

    ‘We need to vote and agitate’.

    @AOC on Democratic unity. ‘When it comes to a specific issue we’re going to have our differences… In our central mission to defeat Donald Trump in November we are absolutely united… It’s extremely important to understand the very real fascism that this president represents’.”

  108. tomh says

    California is burning. In the Bay Area, the peninsula and South Bay (San Jose and Silicon Valley area) are covered in smoke and have the worst air quality in the world this morning.

  109. Rowan vet-tech says

    It’s really fun living here, smack in the middle of San Jose. Everything smells like burning.

  110. tomh says

    Trump urges people not to buy Goodyear tires over tiremaker’s diversity program banning MAGA attire
    By Jim Mackinnon
    Akron Beacon Journal

    President Donald Trump is urging the public not to buy Goodyear tires following a news report that the Akron tire maker is telling employees, as part of a diversity training program, not to wear MAGA gear at work or use statements that include “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter.”

    A Topeka, Kansas, television station on Tuesday showed a slide from a diversity training program that was presented at a Goodyear Topeka plant. The station said the slide came from Goodyear’s corporate offices in Akron.

    The slide says that “Black Lives Matter” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride” (LGBT) is acceptable.

    The slide listed as unacceptable: Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, MAGA Attire, and political affiliated slogans or material.

    Trump tweeted: “Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!).

    Goodyear issued a statement late Tuesday, before the president made his statement on Twitter: “Goodyear is committed to fostering an inclusive and respectful workplace where all of our associates can do their best in a spirit of teamwork. As part of this commitment, we do allow our associates to express their support on racial injustice and other equity issues but ask that they refrain from workplace expressions, verbal or otherwise, in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party as well as other similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of equity issues.”

  111. tomh says

    Trump campaign sues New Jersey over mail-in voting plans
    By Kate Grise, CNN
    Updated 11:06 AM ET, Wed August 19, 2020

    Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign sued New Jersey Tuesday over the state’s decision to use a hybrid voting model for November’s election in which all residents will be mailed a ballot, leaving it up to them to decide if they would like to vote by mail or in person.

    Donald J. Trump for President, the Republican National Committee and the New Jersey Republican State Committee brought the lawsuit asking the court to overturn Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order instituting the new rules that aim to give voters the option of avoiding voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic.
    […]

    The lawsuit alleges that the executive order usurps the legislature’s authority to decide when and how elections are held. It also alleges that the “system will violate eligible citizens’ right to vote” and that “fraudulent and invalid votes dilute the votes of honest citizens and deprive them of their right to vote in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
    […]

    The Trump campaign has also filed a lawsuit against the state of Nevada, which has a similar plan to send absentee ballots to all active voters this November.

  112. blf says

    Amazon removes shirts with derogatory slogan about Kamala Harris:

    The removal of the items followed pressure from Twitter users who urged people to complain to the retail giant

    Amazon has removed a clothing line emblazoned with an offensive slogan referring to Kamala Harris from its website after complaints from Twitter users who branded it “unacceptable”.

    The T-shirts, tank tops and hoodies which had the words [redacted –blf] written in red, white and blue in the style of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Harris’s campaign logo, were on sale for between $24.99 and $42.99.

    The derogatory phrase was also recently adopted by conservative radio host and friend of Donald Trump Rush Limbaugh, who has a history of making abusive comments about the senator.

    The removal of the items followed pressure from Twitter users who urged people to complain to the retail giant.

    […]

    While the products appear to have been removed, the seller, The Oxygen Bandit, still seems to be active on the site with a range of politically-themed garments [examples redacted –blf …]

    Whilst I don’t think any of the insults I redacted would have triggered poopyhead’s filter — and I have no problem with the Grauniad publishing them — they didn’t seem strictly necessary to understand the excerpted parts of the article.

  113. blf says

    In Ozland, PM’s department delayed survey showing Australians don’t trust government:

    The 2019 poll of 5,103 Australians found just 31% of respondents trusted Australia’s public service

    Less than one-third of Australians trusted the public service before the Covid-19 crisis, according to a 2019 citizen survey undertaken by the prime minister’s department.

    The department had deferred the release of the results, fearing they could mislead and confuse rather than inform. The findings were only made public following a freedom of information request from Guardian Australia in August 2019.

    According to the survey, just 31% of respondents trusted Australian public services, while just one quarter (25%) believed they could “successfully implement changes to meet the needs of all Australians”.

    The survey polled 5,103 Australians in March 2019 as part of an ongoing project established by the former department of prime minister and cabinet secretary Martin Parkinson to better understand citizen attitudes and satisfaction with the public service.

    When Parkinson announced the citizen survey in July 2018 he said that transparency will be important and committed to reporting on major results but warned results would be delayed to give agencies time to consider what the data means.

    The department claimed it would be contrary to the public interest to release raw data before it was processed, cleaned, studied, analysed, interpreted and organised.

    […]

    More than one year after the request was lodged, the department has now revealed just three statistics about trust in public services, including that trust is lowest in regional areas (26%).

    The rest of the document is redacted, after a revised decision by the APS review branch assistant secretary, Ali Jenkins, deemed it was deliberative material and factual survey results are so embedded/intertwined with the interpretation and preliminary advice that it is impractical to section out the raw data.

    [William Summers twitteringed:] “Another #FOI classic from Department of PM & Cabinet. This one for a doc about low levels of public trust in government. Wonder why? […]”

    […]

    A departmental spokesperson told Guardian Australia since March 2019 the department had conducted surveys of approximately 2,500 Australians every four months, the latest in June 2020.

    […]

  114. blf says

    Fro the Grauniad’s current ranting racists live blog:

    […]
    White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was again asked about Trump’s call for a boycott of Goodyear tires.

    […] “Black Lives Matter” and LGBTQ pride apparel were “acceptable” to wear at the [Goodyear] plant, but Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, and Make America Great Again apparel were not.

    McEnany repeatedly described Blue Lives Matter, a pro-police response to the Black Lives Matter movement […] as an equity issue.

    […]

    When a reporter pushed back, noting that Goodyear’s definition of political apparel is pretty common across many companies, McEnany doubled down and equated the Blue Lives Matter movement to the president’s [sic] slogan of Make America Great Again.

    MAGA is pretty much synonymous with Blue Lives Matter these days, McEnany said.

    […]

  115. blf says

    Also from the Grauniad’s current blithering blumbing bigots live blog:

    The US Postal service prevented lawmakers from questioning the firm that helped pick Louis DeJoy to be US Postmaster General, according to the The Washington Post:

    The US Postal Service blocked congressional lawmakers from interrogating the firm that helped select Louis DeJoy as the country’s postmaster general, prompting a sharp rebuke from Senate Democratic Leader Charles E Schumer, who called on the organization Wednesday to be more transparent as a federal investigation unfolds.

    The spat over access has hindered lawmakers as they probe DeJoy’s recent, controversial changes to mail delivery, and in the process, potentially concealed key details about the involvement of President [sic] Trump and his top aides in those decisions, Schumer […] warned in a Wednesday letter to the agency. The missive threatens to add to the already sky-high tensions between the administration and the Senate as DeJoy prepares to testify at a high-profile Senate hearing Friday, then a House hearing on Monday.

    Schumer fired off his initial inquiry to the USPS in June, asking to learn more about the process that selected DeJoy, a former top Republican fundraiser, to lead the Postal Service. The postmaster general is a position filled by the USPS Board of Governors, which in this case relied on an executive search firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, to guide its thinking.

    […]

  116. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 153.

    Trump endorsed Laura Loomer today. She is running for office in a district that includes Mar-a-Lago. She is also backed by Roger Stone and Alex Jones. All the best people.

  117. says

    Yet another way in which the Trump administration is using the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters:

    [Alaska is] one of several states that require a witness sign absentee ballots. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the U.S. Postal Service, for reasons unknown, “has forbidden employees from signing absentee ballots as witnesses while on duty. The change could make it more difficult for Alaskans, particularly rural residents, to vote by mail.”

  118. says

    Speakers at tonight’s Democratic Convention broadcast will include Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.

    In other political news:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene visited the Capitol and tried to get Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to retake their oaths on the Bible.

    Media Matters link

  119. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Trump floats strange new idea to get Mexico to finance wall

    Trump failed spectacularly to get Mexico to pay for a border wall, so he’s crafted a fresh con, intended to take the place of an old con.

    […] one of Donald Trump’s most absurd campaign promises is still very much on his mind. The Los Angeles Times reported overnight:

    […] Trump said his administration may impose a “toll” on cars crossing into the U.S. from Mexico to finance construction of his promised wall on the southern border. “They’re going to pay at the border, at the gate, cars going through, we’re going to do a toll — or we may do a toll,” Trump said during an event in Yuma, Ariz., where he touted construction of the wall.

    He went on tell reporters, “Mexico is paying for the wall, yeah.”

    Sigh.

    […] in 2016, but they [issued] a brief document explaining how and why Mexico would pay for a giant border wall. The document said it would be “an easy decision” for Mexican officials to make: our neighbors to the south would agree to a “one-time payment” of between $5 billion and $10 billion to the United States, and the GOP administration would apply the expenditure to a wall.

    This position paper, incidentally, is still publicly available on Trump’s website. […]

    In late 2018, [Trump] said that instead of Mexicans paying for the wall, the wall would pay for itself through incredible savings, none of which exist in reality. Soon after, his position shifted again: instead of saying Mexico will pay for a wall, Trump decided that Mexico is already paying for a wall through a revamped NAFTA.

    That was foolish for a variety of reasons, none of which the post-policy president seemed to understand, which has apparently given way to a brand new pitch: Trump is prepared to impose “tolls” on cars built south of the border as they enter the U.S. marketplace.

    […] Who would pay the toll? How much would it be? How would it affect the price of vehicles for American consumers? Would this be in line with existing U.S. trade agreements?

    Trump doesn’t have answers to any of these questions, not just because he’s indifferent to the substance of governing, but because he’s almost certainly not serious about the toll idea at all.

    […] Trump just says stuff. There’s no real forethought or policy planning; he just blurts out random thoughts that he thinks will help get him through the day. […]

    Given the context, Trump is probably embarrassed — at least to the extent that it’s possible for him to feel shame — that he made such a fuss about Mexico paying for a border wall, and then failed spectacularly to follow through on his high-profile promise. As Election Day draws closer, he can’t very well say, “I blew it,” so he’s scrambling to throw together a pseudo-plan that sounds plausible.

    Or put another way, it’s a fresh con, intended to take the place of an old con. No one should be fooled.

  120. says

    The Trump administration fails at governing … again.

    HHS Sent Rapid Testing Machines To Nursing Homes Without Direction, Resulting In Mass Confusion

    Last month, Dr. Michael Wasserman received a surprise at the nursing homes he operates.

    It came in the form of a delivery from the Department of Health and Human Services: three rapid COVID-19 testing machines sent to nursing homes that Wasserman, president of the California Association for Long Term Care Medicine, directs.

    Part of Wasserman’s surprise stemmed from the fact that he had no idea the machines were coming without instruction. Neither, for that matter, did the state government, which had regulations on the books that barred the use of the machines in California nursing homes.

    As he sought answers, Wasserman encountered an HHS program to surge rapid, point-of-care COVID-19 testing machines to nearly every nursing home in the country. Long awaited by nursing homes, the program relies on a technology called antigen testing that, in its current form, trades accuracy for a 15-minute return on results.

    But the HHS program to distribute the machines has been met with mass confusion stemming from a lack of direction over what to do with the machines and how, or whether, to record and report the results. As a result, some nursing homes have been failing to report the results of tests to state health departments. The tests’ accuracy has also been reduced by operator error, clouding the true spread of COVID-19.

    “I have to say, I’m not impressed that they basically sent us machines without clear direction on how to use them, and without clear direction to state and county health departments,” Wasserman said.

    Wasserman is not alone in his concern.

    “HHS needs to own that — they’ve got to send out [the testing machines] with explicit responsibilities for reporting results to public health authorities and technical assistance so it actually happens,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel, a senior advisor on COVID-19 and executive at the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. […]

  121. says

    From AOC:

    […] “If you were confused, no worries!” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after her brief pre-recorded speech aired. “Convention rules require roll call and nominations for every candidate that passes the delegate threshold. I was asked to 2nd the nom for Sen. Sanders for roll call.”

    “I extend my deepest congratulations to @JoeBiden–let’s go win in November,” she added.

    In a separate tweet, the New York congresswoman thanked DNC officials for choosing her to second Sanders’ nomination.

    “Thank you @DemConvention for having me deliver Sen. Sanders’ roll call nomination speech,” she wrote. “It’s been an absolute honor.”

    Ocasio-Cortez then slammed NBC News early Wednesday morning over its “malicious and misleading” Twitter headline on her speech that stated, without context, that she “did not endorse Joe Biden.” NBC News deleted the tweet a couple of hours later in response to critics who pointed out that its framing gave the false impression that the progressive lawmaker, who had backed Sanders during the Democratic primaries, had deliberately snubbed Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

    “You waited several hours to correct your obvious and blatantly misleading tweet,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in her retweet of NBC News’ note clarifying its original headline. “It sparked an enormous amount of hatred and vitriol, and now the misinfo you created is circulating on other networks.”

    She pressed the news outlet on the issue again about ten minutes later.

    “So @NBCNews how are you going to fix the incredible amount of damage and misinformation that you are now responsible for?” the Democrat tweeted. “Because a 1:15am tweet to slip under the radar after blowing up a totally false and divisive narrative across networks isn’t it.” […]

    Link

  122. blf says

    At Laura Loomer’s Victory Party, Far-Right Speakers and Attendees:

    In attendance at Loomer’s celebration party were far-right notables, including:

    ● Canadian media personality Gavin McInnes, who founded and led the Proud Boys hate group […]
    ● Far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos […]
    ● Hoaxster Jacob Wohl […]
    ● Right-wing political trickster, felon, and Alex Jones associate Roger Stone […]
    ● Ali “Alexander” Akbar, a right-wing operative who in 2019 launched a smear campaign questioning Kamala Harris’s race and ethnicity. Akbar has filmed himself speaking fondly of white supremacists and offering bounties for disinformation production.

    […]

    On multiple occasions, Loomer has proclaimed that she does not care about what happened to Muslims in the Christchurch shootings, where more than 50 people were murdered by a white supremacist.

    Nobody cares about Christchurch. I especially don’t. I care about my social media accounts and the fact that Americans are being silenced more than Christchurch, Loomer wrote on Telegram.

    Last year, Loomer said she didn’t care about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government because she claimed he was a Muslim Brotherhood operative and thus an enemy of the state.

    In 2019, Loomer lost her media credentials and was removed from the Conservative Political Action Conference after harassing journalists. She has also contributed to with Alex Jones’ conspiracy-theory site Infowars, which has also been kicked off multiple platforms.

    […]

  123. blf says

    The Onion:

    ● Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Upgraded To Full DNC Speaking Slot After Announcing Support For Iraq War (no “article”, just a headline).

    ● Voices That Always Whispered Founding Fathers’ Intent To John Roberts Now Telling Him To Slaughter US Leaders, Seize Control Of Government:

    Detailing what must be done as the dead-eyed chief justice scrawled a plan on his basement wall, the voices that had always whispered the founding fathers’ intent to John Roberts told him Tuesday that now is the time for him to slaughter the country’s leadership and seize the government for himself. “You have performed well, John, and honored our legacy — now is the time to heed our words and finish the job,” said the voices to Roberts, who nodded his head and repeated every word to himself as he flicked a lighter and pulled a shotgun from his closet. “Only you can do this, John, only you can make Washington and Jefferson happy and restore this great nation. You know what must be done. You know where Mitch McConnell lives, John. You were chosen, and now you must play your part and make our original intent manifest.” At press time, Roberts was waiting quietly in the West Wing for an impromptu meeting with President Trump.

  124. says

    From Wonkette:

    Far-right conspiracy theorist and all-around nogoodnik Laura Loomer won Tuesday’s Republican primary in Florida’s 21st Congressional District. Loomer was kicked off Twitter, where even I’m allowed to post, because she spewed hate about Muslims. The self-described “citizen journalist” enjoys stalking Nancy Pelosi and harassing random people, which she — and no one else — calls “Loomering.” She was banned from Uber and Lyft after demanding a ride-share app that only exploits non-Muslim drivers. Facebook, Instagram, Medium, GoFundMe, Venmo, MGM Resorts, and PayPal don’t want anything to do with her, either.

    Oh, and she tried to fuck a Nazi. “Remember that time Laura Loomer was caught on video hitting on a Nazi with lines like “I have big tits and an Ashkenazi IQ” [Video available at the link]

    This character from a cancelled TV sitcom — one with the word “crazy” in its title — won 42 percent of the vote against Christian Acosta and Michael Vilardi, who are both typical, terrible Republicans but presumably never got to third base with a Nazi. You never know what’s important with voters.

    Loomer’s sole congressional endorsement was Florida’s shame Matt Gaetz. Donald Trump congratulated both fellow idiots on Twitter after the White House tried to ignore the issue.

    Not sure if Gaetz was the star kingmaker here, but whatever. Trump did endorse the unqualified bigot from his voting district. […]

    Loomer is a hypocrite, a bully, a bigot, and a moron. She is hardly a fringe member of the modern Republican Party. It’s likely that she’s only running to build her “brand” and grift some suckers, but Trump has shown that you can do all that while also enjoying the perks of elected office. […]

    Link

  125. blf says

    From the Guardian’s current lying liars live blog:

    DeJoy will not reverse USPS changes already made, Pelosi says

    House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the postmaster general told her he does not intend to replace mail sorting machines that have already been removed from certain USPS locations.

    Pelosi said she she spoke with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy this morning, and he indicated he would not reverse the operational changes already implemented to the postal service:

    Earlier today, I spoke with Postmaster General DeJoy regarding his alleged pause in operational changes. During our conversation, he admitted he has no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other infrastructure that have been removed.

    DeJoy announced yesterday he would suspend certain planned operational changes, but he did not address the cost-cutting actions he had already taken.

    “This morning, I spoke with Postmaster General DeJoy and conveyed to him that his announcement is not a solution and is misleading,” Pelosi said in a statement.

    “The Postmaster General frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works.”

    The Democratic speaker said the House would still vote Saturday on a bill aimed at maintaining USPS’ pre-pandemic level of operations.
    […]

  126. blf says

    Trump wanted to swap Puerto Rico for Greenland: ex-official:

    President [sic] Donald Trump wanted to sell Puerto Rico or swap it for Greenland because he viewed the US territory as dirty and poor, a former senior administration official said Wednesday.

    Miles Taylor, who was chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, said Trump expressed those views as the government undertook support operations after two massive hurricanes ravaged the Caribbean island in 2017.

    Taylor told MSNBC that just before one 2018 trip by officials, Trump, who had regularly talked about acquiring Greenland from Denmark, seriously suggested he could trade away Puerto Rico.

    “He told us, not only did he want to purchase Greenland, he actually said he wanted to see if we could sell Puerto Rico, could we swap Puerto Rico for Greenland, because in his words, Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor,” Taylor said.

    The former official said he did not take Trump’s remarks as a joke.

    “These are Americans. We don’t talk about our fellow Americans that way,” Taylor added.

    […]

  127. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Did Kayleigh McEnany really just say that — from the White House?
    by Greg Sargent, August 19, 2020

    White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany just had this exchange with a member of the media about President Trump’s ongoing attacks on the legitimacy of vote-by-mail:

    REPORTER: Is the president saying if he doesn’t win this election, then he will not accept the results unless he wins?
    McENANY: The president has always said he’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath.

    McEnany went on to claim that Trump wants “a free election, a fair election,” note that extensive vote-by-mail might undermine public confidence in the results, and insist that this is Trump’s real concern. McEnany somehow managed to make all those claims without doubling over in paroxysms of laughter.

  128. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Trump says he appreciates the support of QAnon conspiracy theorists

    President Trump said he appreciated the support of QAnon followers, offering a major boost to the baseless conspiracy theory as he asked whether it would be “a bad thing” if he were “saving the world from this Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals.”

    Facing his toughest line of questions about QAnon, which the FBI has flagged as a potential domestic terrorist threat, Trump claimed not to know anything about the conspiracy theorists other than their affection for him.

    “I don’t know much about the movement; I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “I heard these are people that love our country.”

    “QAnon believes you are secretly saving the world from this cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Are you behind that?” a reporter pressed.

    “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?” Trump responded. “We are actually. We are saving the world.”

    Trump, as well as top White House aides and members of his campaign, have repeatedly elevated the movement’s iconography and rallying cries — in an tacit embrace of the conspiracy theory, whose nucleus is fealty to the president.

    By Colby Itkowitz and Isaac Stanley-Becker

  129. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachel Maddow says three of the speakers tonight, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth Warren, lie rent free in Trump’s mind. I suspect a fourth, Kamala Harris, will be added tonight.

  130. says

    Joe Biden: “The brave citizens of Belarus are showing their voices will not be silenced by terror or torture. The U.S. should support Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s call for fair elections. Russia must be told not to interfere—this is not about geopolitics but the right to choose one’s leaders.”

  131. says

    Protests and strikes continue in Belarus.

    Alex Kokcharov:

    #Belarus THREAD.

    We are 10 days after the rigged 9 August election and I see three potential scenarios for the months ahead. In 2 of these scenarios Lukashenka goes, and in 1 stays.

    Scenario 1. Civil and labour unrest continue, damaging the economy and creating cracks int he elites, who start to defect from Lukashenka’s admin. After losing support in his own government, Lukashenka goes – and most probably flees the country.

    Scenario 2. Protests turn more violent in response to renewed police violence against the protesters. Protesters take over detention centres and government buildings. Violent overthrow of Lukshenka administration – he flees the country if he is lucky.

    Scenario 3. Protests dissipate, labour strikes end as workers lose paychecks. Russia openly supports Lukashenka emboldening another crackdown against the protesters. Lukashenka, while being deeply unpopular, hangs on to power. He is isolated from the West by the sanctions.

    Scenario 2 (violent overthrow) is the least likely. Scenarios 1 and 3 have similar probabilities, if you ask me.

    Russian position will probably crucial. If the Kremlin decides they can work with the opposition, they can agree to Lukashenka’s departure. If not, he stays on.

  132. tomh says

    Abbott Threatens Texas Cities With Property Tax Freeze if They Defund Police
    SCHAEFER EDWARDS | AUGUST 18, 2020

    Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that he plans to help craft state legislation that would permanently freeze property tax rates in any Texas city that votes to reduce funding for local police departments. Abbott revealed the policy during a press conference in Fort Worth, flanked by his conservative statehouse allies Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and outgoing Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who both support the proposal.
    […]

    Tuesday’s announcement from Abbott was a clear threat to cities across the state not to follow the lead of Austin, whose City Council decided last week to authorize $150 million in cuts to the city’s police department, a one-third decrease from its previous $434 million budget.
    […]

    “What they have done in Austin should never happen in any city in the state, and we’re going to pass legislation to be sure that never happens again,” Patrick said.
    […]

    Austin Mayor Sylvester Turner said “The budget that we passed in June is a budget that best fits the needs of the people in this community.”

  133. says

    CNN – “Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny hospitalized after suspected poisoning: spokeswoman”:

    Russian opposition leader and outspoken Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was unconscious and on a ventilator in a Siberian hospital Thursday after falling ill from suspected poisoning, his spokesperson said.

    Navalny, 44, started feeling unwell while on a return flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, said on Twitter. The plane later made an urgent landing in Omsk, she added.
    He only drank black tea in an airport cafe before takeoff, Yarmysh told Russian radio station Echo of Moscow.

    “We assume that Alexey was poisoned with something mixed into the tea. It was the only thing that he drank in the morning. Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid,” Yarmysh tweeted.

    Navalny remains unconscious and is now connected to a ventilator, Yarmysh said.

    Loud groaning can be heard in video footage apparently filmed on the flight taken by Navalny, which was shared on the Baza Telegram channel. More video apparently filmed through the airplane window shows an immobile man being taken by wheeled stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

    Navalny has been admitted to the acute poisoning unit of Omsk emergency hospital No. 1 and is in a “serious condition,” hospital head physician Alexander Murakhovsky said, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

    The hospital’s deputy head physician, Anatoly Kalinichenko, speaking to local journalists at a makeshift news conference, later confirmed that Navalny was still in the hospital in a serious condition. He was on a ventilator but was stable, the physician said.

    Asked by a journalist if Navalny had been poisoned, Kalinichenko said: “Naturally, poisoning is considered as one of the possible reasons for the deterioration of his state. But apart from this, this could be a number of conditions that started acutely and led to the same clinical reactions. We are working on all of them: excluding, confirming.”

    Kalinichenko said he believed doctors would have a diagnosis later Thursday. In the meantime, Navalny’s symptoms are being treated, he said.

    Yarmysh tweeted a video of the news conference, saying the deputy head physician had confirmed what was already known. “He said the same: stable serious condition, coma, ventilator. Does not say anything about the diagnosis or whether there is a threat to life,” she said.

    In an earlier tweet, Yarmysh said the intensive care unit was full of police officers.

    “They try to get an explanation from the doctor. The doctor saw me in the distance in the corridor, said that ‘some things are confidential’ and took the police to another room,” Yarmysh said.

    “The evasive reaction of doctors only confirms that this is poisoning,” Yarmysh added. “Just two hours ago, they were ready to share any information, and now they are clearly biding for time and are not saying what they know.”…

  134. says

    Here’s a link to the August 20 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    European countries are registering an average 26,000 new cases of coronavirus every day, the director general of the World Health Organization’s Europe office has said, as he warned of a potential resurgence of the pandemic.

    In a briefing on Thursday morning, Hans Kluge said that while the “epicentre” of the pandemic had moved to the Americas, the European region still accounted for 17% of the global total of coronavirus cases….

  135. says

    Martin Kettle in the Guardian – “Johnson vowed to strengthen parliament. Yet he and Cummings are silencing it”:

    Why are the members of the UK parliament not holding the government’s feet to the fire amid these multiple crises? The case for them doing so is overwhelming. In the middle of a global pandemic, with coronavirus cases rising again at home, the government has abolished England’s main public health body. The examination and university entrance systems are in real-time chaos. The economy has fallen into recession. Jobs are collapsing by the thousand daily. Oh, and the Brexit talks have stalled.

    Meanwhile, a prime minister who can’t cook and who likes to take luxury foreign holidays at someone else’s expense is supposedly out in the rain on a midge-ridden Scottish camping holiday with his partner and a three-month-old baby. Believe that if you wish. What really matters is that Boris Johnson is simply absent without leave.

    So where are Britain’s MPs when they are needed? The conventional explanation is that this is simply the usual long summer recess. Parliament almost never sits between late July and early September. MPs have met only twice in August in the last half century – the last time over Syria in 2013. They can be recalled only if ministers want it. Ministers rarely do. End of story.

    Except this is not the end. Instead the extremely deliberate marginalisation of parliament under Johnson and Dominic Cummings is emerging into plain sight. The Covid-19 pandemic conceals this, because it is so obviously an exceptional time and because the socially distanced parliament is stuck in second gear. But do not be deceived. We are witnessing the attempted overturning of an established system of representative democracy that can almost be described as a quiet coup.

    …As it has turned out, the sidelining of parliament in the prorogation crisis has continued during the Covid pandemic. Sidelining was not just the temporary expedient brought about by the Brexit crisis and the absence of a majority. It is the continuing policy. Johnson has taken his 2019 election victory and proceeded to redefine it not as a parliamentary mandate but as a presidential one.

    Conventions are there to be broken. One of these, which had increased before Johnson’s arrival to No 10, is the readiness of ministers – in particular the prime minister – to submit themselves and their policies to regular scrutiny and challenge by elected MPs. The sovereignty of parliament in the British system is, after all, far more than a convention. It is the central pillar of the unwritten constitution. Even with a majority of the kind that Johnson now enjoys, parliament remains in both law and theory the wellspring from which government derives its consent, informal as well as formal.

    Johnson is ignoring this – partly because he is not, by deed or instinct, a parliamentarian. He makes far fewer prime ministerial interventions there than his recent predecessors. He avoided prime minister’s questions for months, and is now clearly uncomfortable facing Keir Starmer. He had to be forced to do a session with the liaison committee of Commons select committee chairs; it went badly and he will not do another in a hurry. He does not command parliament from the dispatch box in the way other premiers with large majorities, such as Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair, could do. He has no instinct in his body to recall MPs over anything at all.

    Cummings, meanwhile, views parliament with the same contempt he reserves for all government institutions. Towards MPs, as to civil servants, he is malignant disdain incarnate. The two of them are never happier than when parliament is absent and they can get on with governing in the preferred, quasi-presidential mode. Johnson’s platform of choice during lockdown was the press conference rather than the Commons chamber. He wasn’t very good at that either, which is why he is now looking for a press conference spokesperson,…

    …MPs of all parties should be hopping mad that their voices are going unheard at a time when the entire structure of public health policy implementation in England is being scrapped by central government without the slightest consultation, and the futures of tens of thousands of school-leavers thrown into hazard by avoidable ministerial blundering. It ought to be possible for the Speaker to recall parliament, not just ministers. Though he lacks the powers, Speaker Hoyle should be making his indignation known. Westminster should have taken a leaf from the Scottish parliament’s book and ensured that the Commons could meet once a week during recess if the Speaker chose.

    Scotland’s better accountability is a reminder of the chief losers in this. Johnson is in Downing Street because he persuaded a majority of the people of England that they had been rendered too powerless by the European Union. The diminished British parliament was said to embody this loss. English votes took Britain out of Europe in the name of restoring parliament’s sovereignty. Yet, as Johnson and Cummings continue with their centralising and accountability-defying revolution in government, they are doing so at the expense of that parliament and above all of the people of England, whose only democratic voice it is.

  136. says

    These are the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee:

    Marco Rubio – Florida
    Richard Burr – North Carolina
    James Risch – Idaho
    Susan Collins – Maine
    Roy Blunt – Missouri
    Tom Cotton – Arkansas
    John Cornyn – Texas
    Ben Sasse – Nebraska

    Every one of them has known everything in Volume 5 of their report for months. They’ve known about the collusion, the obstruction, the corruption, and the lies. They’ve known the Ukraine nonsense was Russian propaganda. And they all voted for acquittal in the impeachment trial and have continued to publicly support Trump and to stay silent while he undermines the US. Rubio, the acting chair, lied about the findings of his committee’s own investigation.

  137. says

    SDNY press release – “Leaders Of ‘We Build The Wall’ Online Fundraising Campaign Charged With Defrauding Hundreds Of Thousands Of Donors”:

    Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced the unsealing of an indictment charging BRIAN KOLFAGE, STEPHEN BANNON, ANDREW BADOLATO, and TIMOTHY SHEA for their roles in defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign known as “We Build the Wall” that raised more than $25 million. The defendants were arrested this morning…. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in the Southern District of New York.

    Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction. While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle. We thank the USPIS for their partnership in investigating this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it.”

    Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: “The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds. As alleged, not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth. This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.”

    According to the Indictment[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

    Starting in approximately December 2018, BRIAN KOLFAGE, STEPHEN BANNON, ANDREW BADOLATO, and TIMOTHY SHEA, and others, orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors, including donors in the Southern District of New York, in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign ultimately known as “We Build The Wall” that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. In particular, to induce donors to donate to the campaign, KOLFAGE repeatedly and falsely assured the public that he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and that “100% of the funds raised . . . will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose” because, as BANNON publicly stated, “we’re a volunteer organization.”

    Those representations were false. In truth, KOLFAGE, BANNON, BADOLATO, and SHEA received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build the Wall, which they each used in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations. In particular, KOLFAGE covertly took for his personal use more than $350,000 in funds that donors had given to We Build the Wall, while BANNON, through a non-profit organization under his control (“Non-Profit-1”), received over $1 million from We Build the Wall, at least some of which BANNON used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in BANNON’s personal expenses. To conceal the payments to KOLFAGE from We Build the Wall, KOLFAGE, BANNON, BADOLATO, and SHEA devised a scheme to route those payments from We Build the Wall to KOLFAGE indirectly through Non-Profit-1 and a shell company under SHEA’s control, among other avenues. They did so by using fake invoices and sham “vendor” arrangements, among other ways, to ensure, as KOLFAGE noted in a text message to BADOLATO, that his pay arrangement remained “confidential” and kept on a “need to know” basis.

    KOLFAGE, 38, of Miramar Beach, Florida, BANNON, 66, of Washington, D.C., BADOLATO, 56, of Sarasota, Florida, and SHEA, 49, of Castle Rock, Colorado, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison….

  138. says

    To sum up:

    So Trump’s two campaign managers in 2016 were this week:

    —Confirmed to be feeding campaign info to a Russian intelligence officer (in addition to all the other stuff Manafort did)
    —Indicted for gargantuan fraud (in addition to everything else Bannon did)

  139. says

    Link to Judge Marrero’s order in #211 above.

    His first footnote:

    In its previous ruling on immunity issues raised in this litigation, the Court offered some general observations about claims of absolute presidential immunity from judicial process. That discussion was meant to provide backdrop considerations that guided the Court’s inquiry and reasoning regarding the factual and constitutional questions at issue. Admittedly, those remarks were broad; they touched upon issues beyond the specific grand jury subpoena in dispute, including whether an incumbent President is or should be absolutely immune from any indictment accusing him or her of criminal charges. To that extent, those comments may be regarded as somewhat tangential. It is characteristic of a tangent, however, that at some locus along an arc where the line touches the curve, there the tangent makes a point.

  140. blf says

    SC@209, see @9: “Trump’s campaign will take over the banner of YouTube for 96 hours starting on Tuesday, and will put ads up on the home pages of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and FoxNews.com.”

    I’m not quite sure what “the banner of Youtube” is, but a quick check of (what is very probably the “French” site) doesn’t show any obvious hair furorp0rn.

  141. blf says

    Hunt is on for rightful owner of Nazi-looted French painting:

    […]
    A 19th-century oil painting stolen from Nazi-occupied France during the second world war has gone on display in an attempt to trace its rightful owners, after being returned by the son of the German soldier who was ordered to take it.

    After 76 years in Germany, the small untitled artwork by the French painter Nicolas Rousseau is back in France and being exhibited at the World Centre for Peace, Liberty and Human Rights in the north-eastern town of Verdun.

    Next to it hangs a sign that reads: “If you recognise the landscape or have any information about this painting, we would be grateful if you would let us know.”

    Philippe Hansch, the director of the centre, brought the painting back from Berlin by car at the beginning of August.

    For the past fortnight it has hung in the lobby of the centre, which receives 60,000 visitors a year, in the hope it will nudge someone’s memory and lead the painting back to its owners or their heirs.

    “We wanted it to be immediately accessible to visitors when they walk in and free of charge,” Hansch said. “There’s pride and emotion, a lot of happiness, but also a responsibility.”

    In the artwork, a figure sits on a river bank under cloudy skies, surrounded by tall trees and with a village in the distance.

    […]

    There’s an image of Mr Hansch and the painting at the link. RFI has a better image of the painting, and more details, French painting stolen by German officer during WWII goes on show at peace museum in Verdun.

  142. blf says

    Belarus prosecutors open criminal probe against opposition activists:

    Belarusian authorities [sic] on Thursday opened a criminal probe against opposition activists who set up a council to negotiate the transition of power amid massive protests challenging the extension of the 26-year rule of the country’s authoritarian leader [sic] in a vote the opposition saw as rigged.

    President [sic] Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed the protesters as Western puppets and threatened opposition leaders with criminal charges. Following up on his statement, the prosecutors opened a criminal investigation against the opposition activists on charges of undermining national security, and a leading opposition figure reported being threatened with arrest.

    The 65-year-old Belarusian leader [sic] dismissed the European Union’s criticism of the Aug 9 vote and told its leaders to mind their own business.

    The EU’s leaders on Wednesday rejected the official results of the election […]

    […]

    Protests continued Thursday in Minsk and other Belarusian cities for the 12th straight day.

    After standing back for days, police again beefed up their presence on the streets of the Belarusian capital Wednesday, blocking access to some government buildings and also deploying in numbers outside major factories where workers have been on strike since Monday.

    The industrial action that has engulfed major factories across the country cast a tough challenge to Lukashenko, who had relied on blue-collar workers as his core support base.

    In a bid to stop the strike from spreading, Lukashenko on Wednesday said that the participants would face dismissal and ordered law enforcement agencies to protect factory managers from the opposition pressure.

    Hundreds of state television employees have also gone on strike, shaking the government’s control of the media.

    The Belarusian leader also warned members of the Coordination Council who held their first meeting Wednesday that they could face criminal responsibility for their attempt to create parallel power structures.

    […]

    The Belarusian Prosecutor General’s office said the creation of the council violated the constitution and opened a criminal inquiry against its founders on charges of threatening national security.

    The creation and the activities of the Coordination Council are aimed at seizing power and inflicting damage to the national security, said Prosecutor General Alexander Konyuk.

    […]

    A leading council member, Pavel Latushko, who was fired earlier this week for siding with protesters, said he had received threats and could move to Russia to avoid being arrested. The facade of his house in Minsk was splashed with red paint overnight.

    […]

  143. says

    SC @191, tomh @162 and Rowan @163, the smoke from fires in California is being carried by prevailing winds to other states. Air quality where I live is also bad. The skies are smoke-filled, and the light is spectral.

    Apocalyptic. Somehow fitting for a time in which Trump is knee-capping the Post Office, failing to properly address the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., shredding the economy, and tweeting like an angry misogynistic teenager.

  144. says

    blf @182, thanks for posting that link. That’s a great cartoon.

    SC, and others, thanks for keeping us up to date concerning Steve Bannon’s arrest, (and the details about that nest of con-men pretending to raise funds to build Trump’s wall). What a farce. I’m waiting for Kobach to be arrested.

    From Steve Benen, who expressed my thoughts exactly: “It was easy to imagine Stephen Bannon running into trouble with the law. But who imagined he’d be indicted for an alleged wall-building scam?”

    More details:

    […] We Build the Wall was ostensibly created to supplement the White House’s efforts to construct giant barriers along the U.S./Mexico border. While the administration used taxpayer money, raided from the Pentagon budget, to construct fencing, We Build the Wall would raise private funds from donors in pursuit of the same goal.

    As a high-profile political player, Steve Bannon’s role as a board member of the outfit lent it credibility. It wasn’t long before We Build the Wall raised $25 million for the private venture.

    But as ProPublica and The Texas Tribune reported last month, the group’s efforts haven’t gone well: structural issues have raised concerns that the conservative outfit is delivering a defective product. Indeed, the whole endeavor became so problematic that Donald Trump recently tried to distance himself from the group and its project.

    Trump was, by all appearances, brazenly lying. The Texas Tribune reported last month, Trump “now claims this privately funded border wall in the Rio Grande Valley … was built to ‘make me look bad,’ even though the project’s builder and funders are all Trump supporters.” [LOL, LOL, ROTFL]

    As of this morning, however, the controversy is vastly more serious. […]

    There’s no word yet on whether — and when — Attorney General Bill Barr may intervene in the case to protect the president’s political allies.

    Update: To provide some additional context on We Build The Wall’s connections to far-right politics, the group’s website highlights other prominent members of its team, including Kansas’ Kris Kobach as the organization’s general counsel. We Build The Wall’s advisory board also includes Erik Prince, Tom Tancredo, Curt Schilling, and “Sheriff” David Clarke Jr.

    Link

  145. Rowan vet-tech says

    @Lynna, I was surprised to wake up to blue skies this morning instead of ominous orange. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it.

  146. says

    From text quoted by blf in comment 180:

    “The Postmaster General frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works.”

    In other words, we the people of the USA are fucked. The U.S. Postal Service is fucked.

    The damage has been done. We may be too close to an election for the courts, or Congress, or both to remedy this.

  147. blf says

    Steve Bannon’s arrest shines a light on web of anti-immigration conservatives:

    List of well-known names associated with We Build the Wall non-profit group is a roll call of top figures in Republican circles

    [… T]he list of well-known names associated with We Build the Wall goes far beyond the figure of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and populist firebrand Bannon.

    The group’s website is a roll call of top figures in Republican and conservative circles.

    It lists Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state and a prominent Trump cheerleader, as its attorney general. Bannon was the advisory board chairman. Erik Prince, founder of the private military contractor Blackwater USA, is a member of the organization’s advisory board. The former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, an icon in conservative anti-immigration circles, is also on the advisory board, as is former Milwaukee county sheriff Dave Clarke and former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling.

    […]

    Kobach at one point used We Build the Wall’s email list to fundraise for his campaign for Senate. In 2019 Kobach said the non-profit had the support of Donald Trump and the president [sic] had given it his blessing. On Thursday, in response to the indictment, Trump said: I don’t like that project. I thought it was being done for showboating reasons.

    […]

    The arrest has another tie-in to the trending news of the day: the United States Postal Service.

    Bannon was taken into custody by law enforcement officials with the USPS. […]

  148. says

    Rowan @227, yeah, it’s bad. We have a new weather system moving in next week. I’m hoping for blue skies then.

    In other news, and as a follow-up to SC’s comment 211, a New York judge has ruled that Trump must give prosecutors his tax returns.

    “When it comes to keeping Trump’s financial records hidden, it’s hard not to notice the pattern: his keep fighting in court, and they keep losing.” [from Steve Benen]

    […] For those who may need a refresher, when the New York prosecutor’s office initially sought Trump’s hidden financial records, the Republican’s lawyers came up with a novel reason to refuse: the president, they claimed, has “absolute immunity” from effectively every part of the U.S. legal process, leaving him free to ignore subpoenas and investigations.

    […] this argument was rejected by every court that heard it — including the U.S. Supreme Court. Indeed, despite the high court’s ideological divisions, all nine sitting justices agreed last month that Team Trump’s “absolute immunity” claim was absurd.

    But while that repudiation wasn’t what the president hoped for, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Trump v. Vance was only a partial setback: the justices sent the matter back to a lower court for further review, which offered Trump and his lawyers an opportunity to keep the process going.

    With this in mind, the president’s legal team continued to fight to keep the materials secret, insisting last month that the subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney’s office is, among other things, too broad and intended as harassment. Today, the judge in the case rejected the argument in a 103-page ruling, which concluded that Team Trump’s argument really hasn’t evolved much. […]

    Almost immediately thereafter, Trump’s lawyers — hired specifically to keep his secret financial records under wraps — filed an emergency appeal.

    It’s almost as if there’s something in the materials the president really doesn’t want anyone to see.

    […] when the Manhattan district attorney’s office first subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, the general assumption was that Vance and his team were examining the president’s hush-money scandal, which sent Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to prison.

    A recent court filing, however, suggested prosecutors’ interest in the Trump Organization is broader. Indeed, the district attorney’s office, in defense of its subpoena, explicitly referenced the possibility of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”

    […] even if prosecutors in this case succeed in acquiring Trump’s financial records, it doesn’t mean we would get to see the documents the president has fought so hard to keep secret. Rather, the materials would be shared with a New York grand jury — not with the public.

    That said, as the New York Times recently added, “The records might only emerge later if criminal charges are brought and the records are introduced in a trial.”

    Postscript: Time will tell whether the Manhattan district attorney’s office will get the materials it subpoenaed from Trump’s accounting firm, but let’s not forget that Cy Vance and his team may have other avenues to the information.

    The New York Times reported two weeks ago that the same prosecutors sought presidential documents from Deutsche Bank — which loaned Trump $2 billion over the course of two decades — and the bank “complied with the subpoena.”

  149. tomh says

    @ #227
    I’m surprised to hear that about San Jose. The East Bay is terrible.
    California wildfires more than double in size, force, and degrade air quality; tens of thousands to evacuate

    Wildfires touched off by a barrage of lightning strikes in Central and Northern California continue to expand, with one grouping of fires — known as the LNU Lightning Complex in Napa and Sonoma counties — more than doubling in area since Wednesday, to 124,100 acres. According to Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency, this fire complex threatens 25,000 structures.

    The massive blazes are sending plumes of smoke and ash into the skies surrounding San Francisco, fouling air quality for hundreds of miles and endangering public health. Evacuations expanded overnight Wednesday into the early-morning hours Thursday, including portions of Travis Air Force Base, an Air Force logistics hub.

    Late Wednesday, officials shut down Interstate 80 west of Vacaville, between San Francisco and Sacramento, as flames jumped the highway.

    Tens of thousands of people have been instructed to evacuate from advancing flames, with more told to be ready to flee if necessary.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom originally appealed for aid from neighboring states, but expanded the state’s call for help to the entire country Wednesday as blazes raged out of control.

  150. says

    About Trump’s all-caps tweet storm/meltdown during President Obama’s speech last night: It took Trump all of three minutes to prove Obama was right in his assessments.

    From readers comments:

    All caps tweet1 = Lie
    All caps tweet2 = No concept and understanding of fairness
    All caps tweet3 = No reading comprehension and insidious disinfo

    All told, desperate and despicable tweets from a candidate whose polls are underwater and cannot accept it when Obama said he can’t do the job…

    For those that may have missed them, here are Trump’s ridiculous tweets:

    HE SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, AND GOT CAUGHT!

    WHY DID HE REFUSE TO ENDORSE SLOW JOE UNTIL IT WAS ALL OVER, AND EVEN THEN WAS VERY LATE? WHY DID HE TRY TO GET HIM NOT TO RUN?

    BUT DIDN’T SHE [Kamala Harris] CALL HIM A RACIST??? DIDN’T SHE SAY HE WAS INCOMPETENT???

    Part of what Kamala Harris actually said to Biden during a Democratic primary debate in which Harris mentioned busing and other pro-integration policies: “I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.”

    As for Obama not endorsing Biden until after the conclusion of the Democratic primary, he explained that he would not weigh in with an endorsement of any candidate until after the primary process had concluded. That makes sense. Trump does not make sense.

    The idea the Obama spied on Trump’s campaign has been debunked over and over again. Trump’s spongy brain can’t adjust when corrected.

  151. blf says

    Hysteria and dismay: Fox hosts spend evening fear-mongering over Kamala Harris:

    Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity claim vice-presidential nominee is a far-left opportunist

    […] Harris was introduced by the rightwing network’s two biggest stars, who brought a combination of hysteria and dismay.

    Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity took it in turns throughout the night — even before Harris had spoken — to accuse the vice-presidential nominee of racism, wanting to destroy the police, and general far-left chicanery.

    The pair served up nearly two hours of Harris fear-mongering commentary both ahead of and during the network’s live coverage, with Hannity at one point taking the tone of a Disney film sage as he ominously warned viewers: Do not be fooled by anything Senator Harris has to say tonight.

    […]

    Carlson, who had previously deployed sexism to attack Harris, on Wednesday switched tack and decided instead to use race.

    The long-running Fox News host showed a 2013 clip of Harris talking about crime and the need for “serious and severe consequences for crime”.

    That sounds racist, Carlson said.

    […]

    Amid the advertisements for muscle soreness, toe fungus and erectile dysfunction — Carlson has been dropped by scores of major advertisers due to his repeated offensive comments — he hauled on a reporter to discuss Harris’s upcoming speech.

    The reporter mused that Barack Obama was likely to discuss voter suppression.

    Carlson again invoked race: Because it’s Alabama 1956, and it always is, he said, seemingly referencing the historic efforts of civil rights activists against racial segregation in the state.

    At 9pm, an hour ahead of Harris’s speech, Carlson handed over to Sean Hannity, who welcomed his viewers to night three of the worst infomercial on earth — a punchline Hannity has used all week.

    […]

    Hannity promised his viewers that he would explore the parallels between Clinton’s pathetic 2016 campaign and Biden’s bunker basement strategy before vowing not to actually show much of the convention.

    Within about a minute of Hannity being on air, however, it appeared he was overruled by his producers, and Fox News cut to a smiling Harris opening up the convention’s proceedings.

    […]

    No matter what she tries to sell, Kamala Harris is a radical, far-left political opportunist, Hannity said.

    As the night continued, so did the end-of-days tone.

    Hannity, who has hosted his own show for 11 years, repeatedly called the Democratic convention the worst show on earth and labelled the Democratic nominees the most radical ticket of any major political party.

    If the radical ticket line sounded familiar to viewers, it’s because, once again, Hannity has been repeating it for days, apparently having taken a liking to the term after he uttered it when Harris was announced on 11 August.

    […]

    On Thursday, when Joe Biden takes to the stage, at least Fox News viewers know what to expect beforehand.

  152. Rowan vet-tech says

    @231, Tomh- The winds seems to often cause a ‘clear spot’ directly over where I am. Happens during light rains a lot, too. I’ll be able to see clouds 360 around me… but overhead? sky. It’s mostly aggravating because I love rain but today it’s nice. I have friends and coworkers who have had to evacuate. My animal shelter is getting ready to mobilize to help out other shelters in the affected areas like we did with Butte County nearly 3 years ago.

  153. blf says

    Coronavirus: Local officials in China hid dangers from Beijing, US report finds:

    Report by US intelligence agencies sheds light on actions — and inactions — that created global crisis

    Trump administration officials have tried taking a political sledgehammer to China over the coronavirus pandemic, asserting that the Chinese Communist Party covered up the initial outbreak and allowed the virus to spread around the globe.

    But within the US government, intelligence officials have arrived at a more nuanced and complex finding of what Chinese officials did wrong in January. Officials in Beijing were kept in the dark for weeks about the potential devastation of the virus by local officials in central China, according to American officials familiar with a new internal report by US intelligence agencies.

    The report concluded that officials in the city of Wuhan and in Hubei province, where the outbreak began late last year, tried to hide information from China’s central leadership. The finding is consistent with reporting by news organisations and with assessments by China experts of the country’s opaque governance system.

    Local officials often withhold information from Beijing for fear of reprisal, current and former American officials say. The new assessment does not contradict the Trump administration’s criticism of China but adds perspective and context to actions — and inactions — that created the global crisis.

    […]

    The report, originally circulated in June, has classified and unclassified sections, and it represents the consensus of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. It still supports the overall notion that Communist Party officials hid important information from the world, US officials said.

    The report says senior officials in Beijing, even as they were scrambling to pry data from officials in central China, played a role in obscuring the outbreak by withholding information from the World Health Organisation.

    But the report adds to a body of evidence that shows how the malfeasance of local Chinese officials appeared to be a decisive factor in the spread of the virus within Wuhan and beyond.

    […]

    Trump oscillates wildly on China. At times, he and other officials have asserted the idea of a cover-up by China to justify policy decisions such as cutting funding to the WHO. When the president [sic] announced that move in late May, he accused the WHO of helping China cover up the initial outbreak, though the organisation has denied that.

    Separately, Pompeo, the administration’s most vocal China hawk, publicly pushed an unsubstantiated theory that the outbreak began with an accidental lab leak in Wuhan and asked US spy agencies to find evidence.

    US officials commissioned the new intelligence report after a department of homeland security analysis said that Chinese central government officials hid the severity of the virus in early January to hoard medical gear.

    That earlier report, an unusual attempt by homeland security intelligence analysts to examine a foreign power, relied heavily on public trade data, a senior law enforcement official said. Several news organisations reported that finding in early May as top Trump officials were attacking China over the virus.

    Policymakers asked the entire intelligence community to examine it, and analysts came up with the new consensus report that aimed to refine and even correct the homeland security assessment.

    [… Big China’s authoritarian system that inhibits local officials from freely sharing information with national-level officials] is a version of the so-called Chernobyl effect, where local officials avoid telling central authorities about a catastrophic event until it is far too late, American officials said.

    Moreover, officials in Beijing have tried to spread disinformation about the origins of the virus. The CIA has said since at least February that Chinese central officials were not sharing everything they knew about the virus — including a more accurate case count — or doing all they could to help the world prepare for the pandemic.

    Public reporting has revealed wrongdoing by Chinese officials at all levels but in different manners.

    In early January, WHO officials began concluding that officials in Beijing were hiding information, The Associated Press reported in June, citing internal documents and recordings. Central officials delayed releasing the complete virus genome and ordered laboratories to destroy virus samples. At the same time, they were trying to get more information from reticent Wuhan officials.

    Throughout early January, officials in Wuhan and in the provincial government tried to suppress information on the outbreak, in part because they feared derailing the local annual Communist Party meeting taking place at the time.

    […]

    The above-excerpted article in the Irish Times is apparently a republished (and obviously edited — note the Irish / British spellings) version of an article in the NYT,

  154. says

    Twitter – “Flint residents to receive $600 million settlement from the state of Michigan, local media report”:

    Multiple media outlets, including ABC12WJRT and The Detroit News, report that the state of Michigan is expected to announce a $600 million settlement to the residents of Flint to resolve civil claims following the city’s lead contamination drinking water crisis.

  155. tomh says

    @ Rowan vet-tech
    Thank you for working with the animals — these fires are tragic for animals, both wild and domestic.

  156. says

    More derision-worthy comments from Trump in relation to the We Build the Wall scam, and the culture of lawlessness around him:

    Not long after Stephen Bannon was indicted as part of an allegedly fraudulent wall-building scheme, Donald Trump was asked for his reaction. True to form, the president pretended to barely know his former chief strategist — a go-to move Trump has relied on throughout his presidency.

    The president also feigned ignorance about the We Build The Wall venture, which is a claim that’s very difficult to take seriously for a variety of reasons.

    At the same White House event today, NBC News’ Geoff Bennett followed up with the right question.

    “Respectfully, sir, it’s not just Steve Bannon. It’s Roger Stone, it’s Michael Flynn, it’s Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen. What’s that say about your judgment that these are the kind of people who you affiliated with, and the culture of lawlessness around people who were involved in the leadership of your 2016 campaign?”

    Trump began by saying, he “had no idea” — about what, he did not specify — before adding, “There was great lawlessness in the Obama administration. They spied on our campaign illegally.”

    At this point, we could note that the Obama administration was a modern marvel for scandal-free governance. We could also reemphasize that no one spied on the Trump campaign. While we’re at it, we could note how pitiful it is to the president peddle whataboutism when he can’t think of anything credible to say.

    […] Trump’s personal attorney (Michael Cohen) was charged and convicted. His White House national security advisor (Michael Flynn) was charged and convicted. His campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) was charged and convicted. His deputy campaign chairman (Rick Gates) was charged and convicted. Two of former campaign advisers (Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos) were both charged and convicted.

    And these are just the top-line indictments, and doesn’t include others in Trump’s orbit, including folks like Corey Lewandowski, who’ve faced charges.

    […] the number of criminals is important, but so too is the degree to which this dynamic conflicts with the message Trump has been eager to trumpet. As regular readers know, the president presents himself as being aggressively “tough on crime.” which he frequently tries to incorporate into his agenda. Last year, for example, while making the case for a border wall, the Republican declared, “The Democrats, which I’ve been saying all along, they don’t give a damn about crime. They don’t care about crime…. But I care about crime.”

    […] [Trump’s] newest campaign manager, Bill Stepien, recently argued, “I think you need to judge Joe Biden by the people he’s surrounding himself with.” I’m curious whether he’d encourage voters to also judge Donald Trump by the criminals he’s surrounded himself with.

    Link

  157. tomh says

    Re: Comment #392 on previous thread, “A federal judge in Pittsburgh ordered the Trump campaign to produce proof of voter fraud claims.”

    TRUMP COMES UP EMPTY WHEN PRESSED FOR EVIDENCE OF ELECTION FRAUD IN COURT
    The Trump campaign’s 524-page response to a discovery demand turned up precisely zero instances of mail-in vote fraud.
    Richard Salame
    August 20, 2020

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S campaign, ordered by a federal court judge in Pennsylvania to back up its claims of fraud in the state’s vote-by-mail system, has documented only a handful of cases of election fraud in recent years — none of which involved mail-in ballots. The revelation, which came in the form of a partially redacted 524-page document produced by the Trump campaign last week, undermines the claim by Trump team operatives that mail-in ballot fraud is a grave risk to Pennsylvania voters.
    […]

    The non-redacted portion of the Trump campaign’s response consists in large part of news reports and copies of the campaign’s open records requests to counties. It contains no new evidence of fraud beyond what local news outlets have previously reported. The examples of fraud that it does provide include the case of four poll workers who admitted to harassment and intimidation of voters at one polling place during a special election in 2017. It also includes an election judge who altered vote totals in his polling place between 2014 and 2016 at the behest of a political consultant…
    […]

    This should seal the dismissal of the Republican suit. The suit was about drop-off sites. Lawmakers had extended mail-in voting to anyone and allowed the use of secure drop-off boxes. The Republicans asked the court to block officials from counting absentee ballots unless they are mailed by voters to their county election office or dropped off in person rather than at drop-off sites. Mail-in ballots go out to Pennsylvania voters in mid-September.

  158. says

    TPM has a Bannon-indictment liveblog

    Update to #220 from there:

    A Trump Organization spokesperson, Amanda Miller, defended the involvement of Donald Trump Jr. in the activities of We Build The Wall, saying that the President’s son was “deceived” about the true intentions of the project. She suggested that Trump’s son had offered “previous praise” to the allegedly fraudulent scheme based on “what he was led to believe” about the group’s “supposed intention” to build a wall at the US-Mexico border.

  159. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    The obvious answer to “Is the Republican Party just one big scam?” is “Yes,” since the modern Republican Party and its Fox News infrastructure exists just to convince ordinary people that handing over billions more to billionaires is the Real American Way. But in a more specific sense … is it all just tacky fraud and scams all the way down?

    After all, the last month has seen the New York attorney general move to disband the NRA after showing that “top executives funneled millions into their own pockets.” And Jerry Falwell Jr. went on a vacation of unspecified length after the “Christian” leader of Liberty University flashed underwear pics of the sweet life on his yacht. And now Steve Bannon has been arrested along with other leaders of the We Build The Wall organization after the funds that were sent to them turned out to be funding boats, homes, and whatever Bannon did to run up a tremendous debt. And then, of course, there’s the grifter-in-chief, whose “university” scammed thousands out of their life savings and whose “charity” paid off his golf bets.

    It seems incredible that behind every Republican scam … is another scam. With the evidence that organizations right at the center of the American right are nothing more than money funnels for a handful of con artists, it’s worth asking: Is there anything at all to the right?

    Across all these scams, the M.O. is the same. They start with a pitch that seems to break down into one of two categories:

    You’re missing out on secrets that can quickly give you an advantage over other people
    Your way of life is being threatened by people who are not like you

    […] The solution to either of these issues is the same—send money.

    […] Steve Bannon is a scam artist. Roger Stone is a scam artist. Paul Manafort is a scam artist. Rudy Giuliani is a scam artist. Jerry Falwell, and Kenneth Copeland, and Joel Osteen, and Paula White, and a long list of other televangelists are scam artists. David Clarke is a scam artist. Alex Jones is a scam artist. David Daleiden is a scam artist. James O’Keefe is a scam artist.

    A quick glimpse of the boards of any of the organizations involved, or a reference to all the “institutes” and “think tanks” that provide an endless stream of talk show guests […] shows that the same names come up over and over again. […]

    QAnon, with its worldwide conspiracy of Satan-worshipping pedophiles (not to mention its bigfoot and space Nazi offshoots), isn’t true. But it is real—as real as every other scam in the Republican universe. Right now you can absolutely bet that quite a few someones are pocketing millions over Q-related nonsense. The first of those someones would be scam-daddy Donald Trump, who on Wednesday declared that he really was saving the world from Satanic cannibals. […]

    The truth is that there is no secret knowledge. Knowledge is available to anyone. It’s just that becoming a real expert on anything requires years of study and experience. […]

    Maybe there was a time when the Republican Party stood for something. If so, it’s hard to locate that time. What’s absolutely clear is at the moment the Republican Party exists only as a marketing organization—a platform for launching scams. The reason that Republicans never get concerned about upholding real knowledge or expertise isn’t secret at all—those things make it more difficult to part fools from their money.

    Link

  160. says

    SC @249, so Donald Trump Junior is a gullible mark for con artists.

    As for Trump Senior: “Trump Supported Private Border Wall at Center of Fraud Case, Close Ally Said”

    In January 2019, Kris Kobach told the New York Times that President Trump had given his blessing to an effort to build a private wall along the border with Mexico. […]

    Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state and prominent Trump supporter, was serving as an adviser to “We Build the Wall,” the group that raised more than $25 million to build the wall. “I talked with the president, and the ‘We Build the Wall Effort’ came up,” Kobach told the Times. “The president said ‘the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.’” […]

    Link

  161. blf says

    Religious-Right Radio Hosts Say God Allowed Louie Gohmert to Get COVID-19 to Show the Effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine:

    On Tuesday’s episode of the American Pastors Network’s “Stand In The Gap” radio program, hosts Dave Kistler and Gary Dull asserted that God allowed Rep Louie Gohmert of Texas to get COVID-19 in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment.

    […] Kistler replied, Why would God allow that to happen to him? I think maybe the Lord allowed that because the Lord knew that Louie was going to respond appropriately, correctly, truthfully, courageously, and he has certainly done all of those things. I think he’s a shining example, not only of firm reliance on the God of Heaven, but also he’s a great example of common sense with respect to this drug that has been so maligned.

    Um, he’s also supposed to drink bleach and shove an UV light up his arse (albeit since that would require pulling out his head first, which is quite firmly wedged, he perhaps hasn’t gotten around to that part yet).

  162. says

    Thousands of chicks arrive dead to farmers amid USPS turmoil

    At least 4,800 chicks shipped to Maine farmers through the U.S. Postal Service have arrived dead in recent weeks after rapid cuts hit the federal mail carrier’s operations, Rep. Chellie Pingree said.

    Pingree, a Maine Democrat, is raising the issue of the dead chicks and the losses farms are facing in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and U.S. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sonny Perdue […]

    Pauline Henderson, who owns Pine Tree Poultry in New Sharon, Maine, told the newspaper she was shocked last week when all of the 800 chicks sent to her from a hatchery in Pennsylvania were dead.

    “Usually they arrive every three weeks like clockwork,” she said. “And out of 100 birds you may have one or two that die in shipping.”

    Thousands of birds that moved through the Postal Service’s processing center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, were also dead, impacting several farms in Maine and New Hampshire, Henderson said. […]

    “This is a system that’s always worked before and it’s worked very well until these changes started being made,” Pingree said. […]

  163. says

    Over 70 of former GOP national security officials endorse Biden

    More than 70 former national security officials who served under Republican administrations have endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, joining a wave of GOP voices throwing their support behind the former vice president.

    The officials have served under […] Trump and Republican former Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

    The group includes former Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor, who has gained attention in recent days for going public with his accounts of his interactions with Trump, as well as former CIA director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Negroponte.

    “While we – like all Americans – had hoped that Donald Trump would govern wisely, he has disappointed millions of voters who put their faith in him and has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term,” the officials said in a statement.

    Among numerous reasons why the group is backing Biden, they said Trump “undermined the rule of law” and “has disparaged our armed forces, intelligence agencies, and diplomats.”

    The group said they “believe Joe Biden has the character, experience, and temperament to lead this nation.”

    “While some of us hold policy positions that differ from those of Joe Biden and his party, the time to debate those policy differences will come later. For now, it is imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy,” they added. […]

    I would say that the approach taken by Democrats at their convention is working.

  164. blf says

    The Onion Remembers Steve Bannon, Trump’s Most Encrusted Advisor (series of 14 images). Some of the image titles:

    ● White House Staff Reminded To Place Lids Firmly On Trash Cans After Steve Bannon Gets Into Garbage Again
    ● Steve Bannon Slurps Still-Twitching Tail Into Mouth Before Giving Opinion On Syria
    ● Steve Bannon Mixes Discarded Climate Change Report With Saliva To Build Final Wall Of Nest
    ● Trump Spends 10 Minutes Mistakenly Addressing Steve Bannon’s Freshly Shed Exoskeleton

  165. says

    What fresh fuckery is this? “Trump administration moves to exempt teachers from quarantine requirements.”

    The Trump administration has issued new guidance designating teachers “critical infrastructure workers,” potentially clearing the way to exempt them from quarantine requirements.

    This reminds me of the Trump administration orders regarding workers in meat-packing plants.

    Health officials in South Carolina also designated teachers critical infrastructure workers, according to The Associated Press. The school board in Greene County in Eastern Tennessee, meanwhile, voted to give the designation to teachers in July. Several other Georgia and Tennessee districts have also announced they intend to bring asymptomatic teachers back to in-person instruction. […]

    “It essentially means if we are exposed and we know we might potentially be positive, we still have to come to school and we might at that point be carriers and spreaders,” Hillary Buckner, who teaches Spanish at Chuckey-Doak High School in Afton, told the AP.

    Buckner, secretary of the National Education Association’s county-level affiliate, said that the guidance put teachers in a position of potentially infecting students with the novel coronavirus. While data indicate children are less vulnerable to the virus than adults, public health officials have expressed concerns about them in turn passing it onto other adults. […].

    Link

  166. says

    The Russians are interfering in the U.S. election again. We knew that. Some people still don’t accept that fact. Susan Rice made the facts clear:

    Former national security adviser Susan Rice said Thursday that she is “100 percent convinced” that Russian adversaries will seek to interfere in U.S. elections this year.

    “I almost never say this, but [I am] 100 percent convinced that Russia is doing much of what it did in 2016 and certainly more,” […]

    Rice emphasized that Russia’s election interference activities were at “a completely different scale” than China or Iran’s efforts, and described a previous ODNI statement on election security concerns as being “muddled” and trying to “conflate what China and Iran might be doing” with Russian interference efforts.

    “We need to be worried not only about Russian disinformation – its activity on social media which is constant, aimed at misleading and dividing and instilling fear and hatred between and among Americans – but we need to be concerned also about what efforts it might make again to infiltrate our voting systems, and corrupt either our voting rolls or even potentially the voting count itself,” Rice said.

    “That’s very hard to do, and hopefully in the intervening years, even more steps have been taken to harden our system, I believe in many cases that’s the case, but I also think the Russians aren’t going to stop trying,” Rice added. […]

    Link

  167. blf says

    Mexico rocked by claims of corruption against three former presidents:

    […]
    Mexico’s political establishment has been shaken by claims that three former Mexican presidents and an all-star cast of lawmakers and aides may have been involved in alleged acts of corruption.

    The accusations were leveled by Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Mexico’s state oil company Pemex, and will boost efforts by the country’s current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to portray himself as an anti-corruption crusader.

    […]

    In a leaked 63-page deposition, Lozoya, who was extradited from Spain in July to face corruption charges of his own, dragged some of Mexico’s best-known politicians into a rapidly unfolding scandal.

    According to the newspaper El Universal, the former Pemex chief implicated Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president from 2012 until 2018, in multimillion-dollar bribes and illegal campaign financing.

    Reuters said Lozoya also claimed that Felipe Calderón — president from 2006 until 2012 — and Carlos Salinas — from 1988 to 1994 — had committed “acts possibly constituting crimes”.

    Lozoya worked as international relations coordinator of Peña Nieto’s 2012 election campaign, and was later appointed to run Pemex.

    “He was one of the masters of the universe,” said Rodolfo Soriano-Núñez, a sociologist in Mexico City. “He was appointed to that position because he was part of Peña’s most intimate circle.”

    Lozoya was arrested in Spain in February and extradited to face charges he received more than $4m in bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

    […]

    Lots more at the link about intrigues, including distractions from the pandemic.

  168. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] While we were all waiting for Mexico to cut that check for Trump’s stupid WALL, Brian Kolfage, a veteran and multiple-amputee, came up with the bright idea to kickstart the project by using GoFundMe to raise wallbux to donate to the feds. […] There’s no mechanism for the government to accept cash for a dedicated purpose, but no matter. The money came rolling in to “We the People Build the Wall” anyway, and by December 2018 there was $20 million in the pot.

    At that point, GoFundMe told Kolfage that he needed to park the funds into a legitimate non-profit, or it was going to transfer them back to the donors. But luckily Trump’s former campaign manager Steve Bannon and venture capitalist Andrew Badolato were there to help. […]

    Apropos of nothing, one of the seized accounts in this case is called “White Knights & Vultures LLC.” AHEM.

    Bannon and Badolato were already trying to figure out how to start minting some sweet, sweet racism cash, so they set up a 501(c)(4) called We Build the Wall Inc. as a repository for the GoFundMe haul. And they changed the mission. Instead of handing off the money to Uncle Sam, these chucklefucks would build that wall themselves! (Well, kind of.) Without taking a salary or compensation. (As if.)

    Because this was a different purpose from the original GoFundMe pitch, Kolfage had to persuade the donors to opt in to the transfer. So he blanketed them with emails touting the new “volunteer organization” and promising he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and would “refund every penny” if the wall didn’t get built.

    Down on their luck Nigerian princes are more subtle than this asshole, who told donors over and over, “I take $0 no salary no compensation” and “It’s not possible to steal the money” because “I can’t touch that money. It’s not for me. We have bylaws set up.” And then he hit them up to buy merch from his online coffee business. You know, to support his family.

    Bannon and Badolato were highly amused by Kolfage’s pitches, texting each other gleefully about “the greatest media narrative ever” because it “gives [B]rian Kolfage saint hood.” But hackneyed as it was, it worked. Most of the donors released the cash to the LLC, and pretty soon there was $25 million in the account.

    KA CHING! It’s griftin’ time!

    Despite Kolfage’s assurances that “100% means 100% right? Board won’t see any of that money!” the charity’s board, headed by Bannon, immediately agreed to give Kolfage $100,000 upfront and then a further $20,000 monthly, routing the transactions through sham vendor companies.

    When Kolfage noted that they were going to have to disclose the first $100,000 outlay to one of the shell companies on the charity’s tax forms, Badolato texted “Better you than me lol.” Which seems like acknowledgement that they were breaking the law, lol. But then Kolfage had the bright idea of paying the money to his wife for “media,” so as not to arouse suspicion. So Kolfage started raking in the cash through a series of payments to vendors for “social media” work which was never performed. All told, Bannon channeled upwards of $1 million through a side non-profit, out of which he paid Kolfage $350,000 and used most of the rest for “personal expenses.”

    In October 2019, the Mensa squad realized that the cops were onto them, so they took evasive measures. They […] edited the charity’s website to remove all those promises about not getting paid and said Kolfage would start getting a salary in January 2020. They even cut off the under the table shell company payments. So, it’s all kosher, right?

    Well, not exactly. This morning, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York dropped an indictment for money laundering and fraud on the crew. Why, yes, that is the same office that Bill Barr tried so hard to ratfuck and put in the hands of his crony from the SEC. […]

    As former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann points out, the FBI appears to have had nothing whatsoever to do with this indictment. So, make of that one what you will.

    Among the many assets the government is looking to seize are accounts for White Knights & Vultures LLC, Citizens of the American Republic, America First Medical LLC, Ranch Property Marketing and Management LLC, Racist Grifters Stealin’ Shit LLC, a 2018 Range Rover, and “a 2019 Jupiter marine boat named ‘Warfighter.'” Okay, we made up that last LLC for sillies. But the boat is totally real!

    And in the world’s least surprising development, have you met Steve Bannon, Coffee Boy?

    “He worked for a lot of companies. He was involved in our campaign and for a small part of the administration very early on. Haven’t been dealing with him at all. I know nothing about the project other than that I didn’t like it,” Trump said. “When I read about it, I didn’t like it. I said this is for government, this isn’t for private people. And it sounded to me like showboating. And I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time.”

    Yeah, because President Golden Escalator just haaaaaates showboating. The whole thing is all bullshit, of course. Anti-immigrant fail wizard Kris Kobach who did legal work for this scam (natch), said he was negotiating with DHS to match its specs exactly and told the New York Times in January 2019, “I talked with the president, and the ‘We Build the Wall Effort’ came up. The president said ‘the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.'” […]

    Donald Trump Jr. praised We Build The Wall and Brian Kolfage at a 2018 event: “This is private enterprise at its finest. Doing it better, faster, cheaper than anything else. What you guys are doing is amazing.”

    So much for Coffee Boy Bannon and his grody, showboating wall.

    For those of you keeping count at home, this would be the third Trump campaign manager arrested for criminal conduct. Corey Lewandowski was arrested for assaulting a Breitbart reporter (the charges were later dropped), Manafort is in jail for allllll the crimes although he skated on NO COLLUSION, and now Bannon. Plus Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Sam Clovis, Sam Patten, etc.

    In summary and in conclusion, ALL THE BEST PEOPLE.

    Link

  169. says

    Regarding that one super-spreading event in South Dakota: “Fewer than 25 covid-19 cases linked to Sturgis rally so far, officials say — but they can’t track everyone exposed.”

    As hundreds of thousands flocked to rural South Dakota for a motorcycle rally this month, sparking fears of a coronavirus super-spreader event, photos captured people crowding the streets without masks and packing local businesses — including a bar on Main Street, One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon.

    Now state health officials say a person who visited One-Eyed Jack’s for about five hours has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and could have transmitted the virus to others at the time.

    South Dakota health officials expressed little alarm about the case and others confirmed among rally attendees at a Thursday news conference. Four days after the event finished, they said they are aware of fewer than 25 infections among people who attended in the 14 days before illness set in. That includes some cases reported from outside South Dakota.

    They also acknowledged, however, that they do not know the extent of the exposures and cannot track them down, saying they put out a public notice about One-Eyed Jack’s because the infected patron could not detail the people they were in close contact with. Experts nationwide have focused on bars as places ripe for spreading the coronavirus, and with symptoms taking as long as two weeks to show up, the health consequences of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally could still be emerging.

    […] Preliminary data suggests the pandemic did little to depress turnout. An attendance count is still in the works, but according to Sturgis, 462,182 vehicles were counted entering the city limits over the course of the event, representing just a 7.5 percent dip from last year’s traffic. […]

    The city is not involved in investigating covid-19 exposures at One-Eyed Jack’s, said Steele, the Sturgis spokeswoman. In an interview Thursday, she said she’s not concerned by the news about the virus case, echoing the attitudes many bikers expressed at the rally.

    “It could be one or two, could be more,” Steele said of coronavirus cases linked to the event. “But you know, it’s to be expected. Coronavirus is in South Dakota. It has been for months.”

    Washington Post link

  170. says

    Trump cabinet officials voted in 2018 White House meeting to separate migrant children, say officials

    “If we don’t enforce this, it is the end of our country as we know it,” said Trump adviser Stephen Miller, say officials present at a White House meeting.

    In early May 2018, after weeks of phone calls and private meetings, 11 of the president’s most senior advisers were called to the White House Situation Room where they were asked, by a show of hands vote, to decide the fate of thousands of migrant parents and their children, say two officials who were there.

    Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller led the meeting and, according to the two officials, he was angry at what he saw as defiance by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

    It had been nearly a month since then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had launched the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, announcing that every immigrant who crossed the U.S. border illegally would be prosecuted, including parents with small children. But so far, U.S. border agents had not begun separating parents from their children to put the plan into action, and Miller, the architect of the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, was furious about the delay.

    Those invited included Sessions, Nielsen, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and newly installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to documents obtained by NBC News.

    Nielsen told those at the meeting that there were simply not enough resources at DHS, nor at the other agencies that would be involved, to be able to separate parents, prosecute them for crossing the border and return them to their children in a timely manner, according to the two officials who were present. Without a swift process, the children would enter into the custody of Health and Human Services, which was already operating at near capacity. […]

    As Nielsen had said repeatedly to other officials in the weeks leading up to the meeting, according to two former officials, the process could get messy and children could get lost in an already clogged system.

    Miller saw the separation of families not as an unfortunate byproduct, but as a tool to deter more immigration. According to three former officials, he had devised plans that would have separated even more children. Miller, with the support of Sessions, advocated for separating all immigrant families, even those going through civil court proceedings, the former officials said.

    While “zero tolerance” ultimately separated nearly 3,000 children from their parents, what Miller proposed would have separated an additional 25,000, including those who legally presented themselves at a port of entry seeking asylum, according to Customs and Border Protection data from May and June 2018.

    That plan never came to fruition, in large part because DHS officials had argued it would grind the immigration process to a halt. […]

    At the meeting, Miller accused anyone opposing zero tolerance of being a lawbreaker and un-American, according to the two officials present. […] It was not unusual for Miller to make claims like this, but this time he was adamant that the policy move forward, regardless of arguments about resources and logistics.

    No one in the meeting made the case that separating families would be inhumane or immoral, the officials said. […] Miller accused Nielsen of stalling and then demanded a show of hands. Who was in favor of moving forward, he asked?

    A sea of hands went up. Nielsen kept hers down. It was clear she had been outvoted, according to the officials.

    In the days immediately following the meeting, Nielsen had a conversation with then-CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan inside her office at the Ronald Reagan Building, and then signed a memo instructing DHS personnel to prosecute all migrants crossing the border illegally, including parents arriving with their children.

    Nielsen did so despite her stated reservations in the Situation Room and being warned in a legal memo by DHS General Counsel John Mitnick — which was also sent to her then chief of staff Chad Wolf, who is now the acting secretary of DHS — that the decision would result in separation of families. Of the practice, Mitnick wrote, “a court could conclude that the separations are violative of the INA, Administrative Procedure Act, or the Fifth Amendment Due Process clause.” Less than two months later, Trump signed an executive order halting family separations and a federal judge in California ordered family reunifications on the grounds the separated families’ due process rights were violated.

    At the time, no plan was in place to track the children who had been separated or to create a system to reunite thousands of separated families, according to the two former officials.

    According to an invitation list obtained by NBC News, those expected to be in attendance at the meeting included: Sessions, Nielsen, Miller, Pompeo, Azar, Under Secretary of Defense John Rood, then-White House chief of staff John Kelly, White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell, then-White House counsel Don McGahn, and Marc Short, who was then director of legislative affairs and is now chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. […]

    Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said, “This is absolutely not true and did not happen.” I don’t believe anything a White House spokesperson says. They have proven themselves to be liars.

  171. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    US senator Bill Cassidy tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, has decided to self-quarantine for 14 days and is contacting those with whom he may have had contact, according to a statement released by his office.

    “I am strictly following the direction of our medical experts and strongly encourage others to do the same,” the Louisiana Republican, himself a physician, said in the statement.

    At least 15 other members of the House of Representatives and Senate – eight Republicans and seven Democrats – have tested positive or are presumed to have had Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year.

    Rand Paul, a Republican, is the only other senator to have tested positive for the virus, back in March. Two other senators, Democrats Tim Kaine and Bob Casey, said in May that they had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies….

  172. says

    Admin Reverses Course, Says CDC Will Regain Control Of COVID Data Collection

    TPM link

    The Trump administration appears to be reversing course and giving COVID-19 hospital data collection duties back to the the Centers for Disease Control, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing comments from White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx.

    Last month, the administration abruptly informed hospitals that they were to stop submitting COVID-19 data to the CDC, and instead begin logging it with TeleTracking, a private firm based in Pittsburgh, rather than the CDC. The rapid change and lack of clear communication from the administration led to weeks of chaos, as TPM has reported.

    But Birx this week told government officials and hospital executives in Arkansas that it was “solely an interim system,” the Journal reported.

    “CDC is working with us right now to build a revolutionary new data system so it can be moved back to the CDC, and they can have that regular accountability with hospitals relevant to treatment and PPE,” Birx said, according to the Journal. […]

    The news took at least one state hospital association by surprise.

    “I’m learning a lot in the last 30 seconds,” said Dave Dillon, a spokesperson for the Missouri Hospital Association, who first heard about the development on the phone with TPM. He noted the switch would be yet another change Missouri hospitals would have to accommodate. “We’ve managed to get all of our hospitals to participate in the push to TeleTracking.”

    It’s not clear yet how the messy changeover and technological issues created by last month’s shift affected hospitals’ ability to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Obviously, these data are important and any delays or inaccuracies present challenges for the COVID-19 response,” Jen Kates, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told TPM. “It’s unclear what actually happened with the changeovers in the database, but they appear to have taken up a lot of time and energy and hopefully did not detract from the response.”

    Questions about whether TeleTracking had the capacity and ability to take on the job of recording hospitals’ COVID-19 data peppered the abrupt switch — announced last month — from the start. […] TeleTracking offered little explanation as to why it was chosen by the federal government to handle such a massive influx of data. […]

    I am not reassured by Dr. Deborah Birx’s statement: “CDC is working with us right now to build a revolutionary new data system so it can be moved back to the CDC, and they can have that regular accountability with hospitals relevant to treatment and PPE.”

    Taking into account the Trump administration’s tendency to engage in hyperbole (that includes Birx), and their tendency to fail miserably when it comes to following up on actions needed to track and fight COVID-19, this announcement of a “revolutionary new data system” sounds like pie-in-the-sky. Or propaganda. Or both.

  173. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #259:

    They […] edited the charity’s website to remove all those promises about not getting paid and said Kolfage would start getting a salary in January 2020.

    Shocked that didn’t throw the SDNY off their trail.

  174. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #250:

    Steve Bannon is a scam artist. Roger Stone is a scam artist. Paul Manafort is a scam artist. Rudy Giuliani is a scam artist. Jerry Falwell, and Kenneth Copeland, and Joel Osteen, and Paula White, and a long list of other televangelists are scam artists. David Clarke is a scam artist. Alex Jones is a scam artist. David Daleiden is a scam artist. James O’Keefe is a scam artist.

    Jay Sekulow. Mike Flynn. The Trump kids….

    Related: my 2014 post “Republican woomongers.”

  175. tomh says

    WaPo (Free Access):
    How Trump was able to shape the Postal Service board to enact a new agenda
    By Lisa Rein, August 20, 2020

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren called on the Postal Service’s governing board Monday to oust Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and roll back the cost-cutting moves Democrats warn are designed to sabotage mail-in voting.

    “That’s why we have a board of governors,” Warren (D-Mass.) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “We need them to just get rid of Louis DeJoy and say, all those mailboxes they took out, all those [mail] sorting machines they took out, the no-overtime policy … we’re done.”

    It is highly unlikely to happen. DeJoy, the North Carolina businessman and Trump campaign donor who arrived in June to make sweeping cuts to postal operations, was appointed by a board that is now controlled 4 to 2 by loyalists to President Trump. “We just got the board,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.

    After years without a voting quorum, Trump was able to reshape the once-obscure Postal Service Board of Governors in three years into a behind-the-scenes powerhouse that is setting his priorities in motion, possibly for years to come… Regardless of who wins in November, Trump’s board and its postmaster general will still be running the Postal Service for several years.
    […]

    The Trump White House benefited from inaction in a divided Senate, a vacant board when he took office, and an intervention by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that left the new president with a clean slate to mold his agenda.

    “The president had a unique opportunity to start from scratch,” said Arthur Sackler, a longtime lobbyist for mailers, postal shippers and suppliers. “I can’t recall another time when there was literally no one on the board.”
    […]

    Nine of the board’s members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, the postmaster general and the deputy postmaster general…

    No more than five of the appointed members can be from the same political party, and the party in the White House gets five appointees.

    Board members serve seven-year terms and cannot be removed except for cause. The five current Trump appointees would carry over into a Biden administration. Terms are staggered to expire in December each year.
    […]

    The board lost its quorum in 2014. The remaining members found a workaround, creating an emergency committee to carry out the functions of the board. President Barack Obama nominated three Democrats and two Republicans to fill the vacancies that year. Then came a Senate stalemate that reverberates today.

    [Backed by the Postal Unions, Sanders objected to cuts in service] and he led the charge in the Senate to forestall them.

    Foremost among his actions was a Senate hold to block Obama’s slate of five nominees to the board…

    Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) held the entire slate from a vote on the Senate floor. The hold lasted two years. By the time Trump took office in January 2017, the last remaining members were off the board.

    More details at the link, but basically Trump had a free hand to shape the board and we see the results.

  176. says

    From Aaron Rupar’s livetweeting of Trump’s PA event earlier:

    Trump’s backdrop in Old Forge, Pennsylvania is a big truck

    “They don’t talk about law and order,” Trump says of Democrats, hours after his former White House chief strategist was arrested on fraud charges

    This speech was supposed to be a Biden attack speech, but Trump only know how to give one speech. It’s the same rambling rally material as always.

    Trump blasts the PA governor for not having already totally reopened the state, then claims preposterously that public health measures to slow the spread of coronavirus are “more dangerous than the virus”

    “The Democrats should do what’s right for the country. They know they should open” — Trump calls on Democratic governors to fully reopen state economies despite the still-raging pandemic

    Trump is back on his “clean the forests” nonsense: “I see again the forest fires are starting. They’re starting again in California. You’ve gotta clean your floors, you’ve gotta clean your forests … maybe we’re gonna have to make them pay for it.”

    We reached the bragging about war crimes and lying about his position on the Iraq war portion of Trump’s speech. But then he got distracted and started talking about seals and sharks. No, for real!…

    Video clips atl.

  177. says

    Politico – “Falwell’s use of yacht comes under scrutiny”:

    Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has repeatedly used a 164-foot yacht owned by NASCAR mogul Rick Hendrick for family vacations after the university committed to a lucrative sponsorship deal with Hendrick Motorsports, according to former and current Liberty employees and social media posts by the Falwell family.

    It was on his most recent yacht vacation — spent with his wife, Becki, their children and friends — that the evangelical leader and prominent supporter of President Donald Trump posted a photo with his pants unzipped and arm around his wife’s personal assistant that led to his indefinite suspension.

    While much of the controversy surrounding Falwell has focused on his personal behavior — especially in light of Liberty’s conservative Christian values — some trustees are also concerned about his oversight of university funds, current and former Liberty officials told POLITICO.

    Since at least 2018, Liberty has sponsored a car with Hendrick Motorsports, a contract that typically runs well into the millions of dollars. The contract is private, so exactly how much the university is paying for the multiyear sponsorship is unknown. In 2017, for instance, Farmers Insurance paid Hendrick Motorsports $8 million for a similar NASCAR team sponsorship, according to court filings about the contract later obtained by ESPN. A Liberty employee familiar with the university’s contract with Hendrick Motorsports said the sponsorship payment varies slightly by year but amounts to roughly $6 million annually.

    With six bedrooms for guests, marble bathrooms, three wet bars and three separate sun decks, Hendrick’s yacht, Wheels, is renowned for its luxury. It carries jet skis, 15 drop-down televisions, and a 19th century dining table made out of North Carolina walnut in its formal dining room, according to a promotional video and brochure for chartering the yacht. There is space for a crew of eight.

    In July 2019, Falwell posted a series of photos of him and his family in the Bahamas swimming with sharks, cave diving, fishing in a “Hendrick Marine” t-shirt and, according to a caption, snorkeling in the decaying ruins of a drug smuggling plane once used by Pablo Escobar. The posts were accompanied by a photo of Wheels.

    The previous summer, Falwell posted photos of himself and his family sunbathing, touring and jet-skiing on a yacht in Greece. He did not mention Wheels, but identified the yacht as belonging to a Liberty supporter.

    “The only thing better than working with @libertyuniversity supporters on their yacht in the Greek Islands is working with them on both of their yachts!” he said in an Instagram post in June 2018.

    The Falwells’ most recent vacation, this July in Key West, was perhaps the most celebratory of all: Falwell’s daughter Caroline got engaged.

    The employee with knowledge of the sponsorship deal said the yacht “was never used for university business, never used to try to better the university. It was always Jerry, Becki. Always.”

    Especially if the use of the yacht was limited to Falwell and his personal guests, the arrangement might raise questions about whether Falwell’s vacations are a motivation for Liberty’s ongoing sponsor of Hendricks’ NASCAR team, said Eve Borenstein, a nonprofit lawyer at the firm of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg.

    “All of the dollars they have, every single asset they have, has to be spent to charitable ends,” Borenstein said.

    This is not the first time that Falwell’s financial oversight of the university has come under scrutiny. In 2019, POLITICO reported that Liberty University hired a company owned by Falwell’s son, Trey, to manage a shopping center owned by the school, that the university has issued generous loans and contracts to Falwell’s friends and that the university has sold property to Falwell’s friends and family members without always disclosing the relationships in tax records….

  178. says

    This needs to be nipped in the bud:

    This is astonishing: Knesset member @YoraiLahav being dragged away from the protest in total defiance of his parliamentary immunity

    Hard-right minister @Zeev_Elkin: “I have deep ideological disagreements with @YoraiLahav & of course I have no sympathy for @TheBlackFlags1. But there is no place for @IsraelPolice’s conduct towards a Knesset member who has immunity.”

  179. says

    Watching Hillary Clinton on MSNBC and thinking about how tens of thousands of families in the US (and in other countries) would still have their loved ones had she been elected and it’s almost too much to contemplate.

  180. says

    From the tweet #278:

    When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit…all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.

    That sounds like a really good argument for rolling back those tax cuts, doesn’t it?

  181. says

    Here’s a link to the August 21 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    South Korea’s efforts to contain a new outbreak of Covid-19 have been complicated by a political and religious fight between President Moon Jae-in’s administration and some of his fiercest critics.

    Sarang Jeil Church is the second religious group at the centre of a major coronavirus outbreak in the country.

    The government has accused the church of obstruction by not providing complete lists of its members and by spreading fake news that is hindering anti-Covid efforts, while church members have claimed they are victims of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

    After the first infections were reported among church members on 12 August, the government said the group flouted social distancing instructions, with the church leader and others attending a massive anti-Moon rally in downtown Seoul on 15 August.

    Speaking at the rally, the Rev Jun Kwang-hun said Moon had “terrorised our church with the Wuhan virus.” Jun, an outspoken government critic, later tested positive for the virus.

    As of Thursday, at least 739 people affiliated with the church have tested positive, out of 3,415 tested, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    New York City, once the centre of the Covid-19 outbreak in the US, has managed to contain the virus as it reopens, but could face an uptick in cases in the autumn, public health experts have warned.

    The success of easing lockdown measures in the city comes from high rates of compliance with anti-coronavirus guidance and substantial immunity among the general population as a result of the severity of the outbreak in the spring, experts in the city told Reuters.

    “There was an alignment in New York with the state government, the healthcare system and the media on what to do – namely, lock everything down,” said Mark Jarrett, the chief quality officer at Northwell Health. “The lockdown didn’t please everyone, but was really well accepted.”

    He added that the compliance among the public contrasted with other parts of the US, where political opposition to mask wearing and lockdowns was more widespread.

    The rate of contagion has also declined more quickly because the initial outbreak left between 25% and 50% of New Yorkers with some level of immunity, said Mara Lima, an associate dean for research at the City University of New York school of medicine.

    But New York is at risk of an uptick in cases as schools reopen and cold weather encourages more people indoors, experts said.

    “The big challenge is schools reopening, recreating that density anew,” which had been reduced by social distancing, said Troy Tassier, a professor of economics at Fordham University who specializes in epidemiology.

    After peaking in early April at a seven-day average of more than 5,000 cases per day, New York City has reduced its daily case count to an average of less than 200, according to city data.

    The percentage of people tested who turned out to have the virus declined from around 70% in late March to less than 1%, and confirmed deaths have declined from over 500 per day in April to the low single digits.

  182. says

    Navalny update:

    @navalny’s wife Yuliya officially asks Putin to let her husband go to Germany for medical treatment.

    German doctors who have flown to Omsk have been allowed to see @navalny, his aide @leonidvolkov tells press conference in Berlin. “A positive sign,” he says.

    “Striking similarities” between his illness and @navalny’s, @gruppa_voina tells press conference. In 2018, Pyotr Verzilov fell ill and wasn’t allowed to be evacuated to Berlin until third day, when, he says, trace of any poison had disappeared.

    “@navalny is being held in the hospital in Omsk right until the moment when officials in Russia will feel that these tests are ‘pure’ enough in order for him to be let go to a foreign country in order to undergo tests and treatment,” says @gruppa_voina.

    “We demand @navalny be immediately released from this hospital so he can be taken to doctors we trust,” says his wife Yuliya. She says she was prevented from talking to the German doctors visiting Omsk hospital.

  183. says

    TPM – “Trump Vows To Station Law Enforcement At Polling Sites On Election Day”:

    President Donald Trump on Thursday night pledged to have law enforcement monitor polling places during the elections on November 3, dialing up his bogus claims of election fraud to another extreme.

    During an interview, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Trump if he planned to send “poll watchers” to the sites “to know that it’s a real vote from a real American.”

    “We’re gonna have everything,” the President replied. “We’re gonna have sheriffs and we’re gonna have law enforcement and we’re going to have hopefully U.S. attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody. And attorney generals.”

    Though Trump has repeatedly peddled the false claim that mail-in voting leads to election fraud, his comments indicated that his baseless fearmongering on the topic now extends to in-person voting as well….

    Audio atl.

  184. says

    Effective questioning by Sen. Jacky Rosen — making clear that DeJoy did not do an analysis specifically taking into account how his policy changes would affect seniors, veterans, deployed service members, and others who desperately need on-time #USPS delivery.”

    Welp.

    Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) asks Postmaster General DeJoy for transcripts of non-public Board of Governors meetings of the U.S. Postal Service.

    ‘Can you commit to that, sir?’

    ‘No’.”

  185. johnson catman says

    re SC @301: Are these “poll watchers” going to be harassing people for some kind of proof of citizenship? I think such actions would be illegal even if they are a “law enforcement officer”.

  186. says

    George Conway: “The Democratic convention was planned carefully and far in advance by some really smart people who weren’t working in a cult-like fashion under the direction of a narcissistic, sociopathic clown. It will be interesting to see how the Republican convention turns out.”

  187. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Italy registered 947 new infections on Friday, the biggest daily Covid case rise since 14 May, when the country was still in lockdown.

    The total number of cases is now up to 257,065. Nine more people have died with the virus and the death toll now stands at 35,427.

    Last week the government obliged holidaymakers returning from Greece, Malta, Spain and Croatia to be tested for the virus. Rome said it was also considering adding France to the list.

    “There is continued talk of a second wave of the virus, but in fact the first wave is actually not over yet,’’ health ministry consultant Walter Ricciardi said on Friday. “We knew that easing (lockdown) measures would have consequences.’’

    The number of new infections in recent days seems to be the price Italy is paying in order to put the economy back on track, especially in the tourism sector.

    Back in May, as the country began to emerge from lockdown, authorities were obliged to strike a balance between the need to reopen public spaces and national borders, fundamental for economic recovery, and the obligation to safeguard public health. But what if Rome went too far?

    Opening discos certainly went too far.

  188. says

    SC @308, that is good news. Angela Merkel acted fast. (Comment 242) Meanwhile, Trump is silent. He just lets Putin get away with poisoning his adversaries.

    Angela Merkel is also the world leader who is talking to Putin, warning him not to interfere in Belarus. Macron added his voice later. (See your comment 37.)

    Merkel also handled the coronavirus pandemic better than Trump.

  189. says

    Follow-up to SC @273.

    More from Aaron Rupar’s thread covering the speech Trump gave yesterday in Old Forge, PA.

    Trump insists that if you want a vision of Biden’s presidency, look no further than the American cities that are having hard times under his presidency.

    Do you see the hole in that logic?
    ———————
    Trump is still on his “abolish the suburbs” nonsense
    ———————–
    “He abandoned Scranton” — Trump is attacking Joe Biden for leaving Scranton when he was 10 years old, like it was his choice
    ————————-
    Trump on Democrats and the 2020 election: “The only way they’re gonna win is by a rigged election. I really believe that. I saw the crowd outside.”
    ——————
    “I repealed that horrible tax. How many taxes have I repealed? I’m getting a list. I’ll have it for you next time.” [What?]
    ———————-
    Trump compares the US coronavirus outbreak favorably with New Zealand and South Korea. Those countries together had under 300 new Covid cases yesterday. The US had more than 43,000.
    ————————–
    TRUMP: “One of the leaders called up. Top, top leaders of one of the countries. And he asked to call President Erdogan of Turkey, who I get along with very well. He said, ‘Sir, please, will you do me a favor? Call Erdogan … you’re the only one he respects.'”
    ——————–
    “I let them have lots of water … you can buy, now, faucets where water actually comes out … when I take a shower, I can have water hit my hair” — here’s Trump whining about wimpy lib light bulbs and dishwashers and toilets that don’t have enough water flow to satisfy him
    ———————-
    Trump tries to tell a personal story about former boxer Larry Holmes, but botches his name
    ————————
    “They’re coming to get you … me, we, we’re the wall between the American dream and total insanity and the destruction of the greatest country in the history of the world”
    ———————-
    TRUMP: “Right now, we are leading a war that is in incredible, but right now, we are leading in so many polls that they refuse to put out.” [WTF?]

    Now, compare that blustering spew of nonsense from Trump to Biden’s convention speech last night.

  190. says

    SC @270, “MAGA-Land Loved The ‘We Build The Wall’ Gambit That Trump Is Now Trying To Eschew.”

    Yes, they did. And many Trump officials did. And Trump’s family members did. Donald Junior visited a section of the “We Build the Wall” fence and the grateful scam artists gave Don Junior a gun as a gift. It just goes on and on, and includes Don Junior’s girlfriend.

  191. says

    SC @264, LOL.

    In other news, On Iran, Pompeo and Trump find themselves isolated and defeated

    Trump and Pompeo have screwed up an important foreign policy — making the United States and its allies less safe in the process — to a staggering extent.

    When the international nuclear agreement with Iran was reached five years ago, much of the west feared that Tehran wouldn’t live up to its side of the deal. It’s why the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) included a “snap back” provision: if Iran failed to honor its commitments, economic sanctions would immediately be re-imposed.

    In practice, the trigger was a moot point: each of the countries involved in the agreement stuck to the deal. At least, that is, until Donald Trump came along, decided he didn’t care that the policy was working, and announced that the United States would stop honoring its commitments.

    Predictably, Iran proceeded to accelerate its nuclear program — the program was on indefinite hold before Trump got to work — concluding that there was no longer any point in holding up Tehran’s side of the deal.

    This week, that led the White House to make an exceedingly difficult pitch: the Trump administration is demanding the full enforcement of an international agreement it’s already abandoned. (The State Department has been reduced to arguing that we’re a “participant” in the deal we’ve officially withdrawn from.)

    As the Associated Press reported, the pitch was not well received.

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Thursday that the United States has the legal right to “snap back” U.N. sanctions even though President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers that was endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. Russia and China, along with European allies Britain, France and Germany, who often disagree, are united in declaring the U.S. action “illegal” on grounds that you can’t withdraw from a deal and then use the resolution that endorsed it to re-impose sanctions.

    This came less than a week after Pompeo suffered a related embarrassing defeat when the United Nations Security Council “rejected a proposal to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran, with even America’s strongest allies refusing to buckle under pressure from the Trump administration to take a harder line.”

    […] our allies and partners were condemning the U.S. position right around the time Donald Trump boasted at a campaign event about how much he’s improved international respect for his country.

    It’s hard to overstate the scope of the White House’s failure. I realize there’s a lot of political news unfolding right now, but Trump and Pompeo have screwed up an important foreign policy — making the United States and its allies less safe in the process — to a staggering extent.

    […] this fiasco may yet get worse. The U.S. secretary of State declared after his failures yesterday that the administration still intends to move forward with the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, but in order for the policy to be fully effective, Team Trump would need the cooperation of international partners willing to enforce the policy.

    And as this week has helped prove, our international partners think we’re wrong.

    All the Republican president had to do was nothing. Trump and his team could have simply left the policy alone, allowing it to continue to work, leaving the United States in a vastly stronger position than it is now. […]

    Postscript: None other than former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, arguing that the Trump/Pompeo argument is a mistake.

    In case this isn’t obvious, Bolton is a ridiculously far-right hawk on Iran. If even he isn’t on board with the administration’s current strategy, it’s a striking development.

  192. says

    Trump sure knows how to spend other people’s money:

    Though it seems hard to imagine, Trump’s overall political operation — his campaign, the joint effort with the RNC, and two affiliated committees — have now spent more than $1 billion, and the Republican National Convention hasn’t even started yet. The Washington Post noted that at this point in Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, his operation had spent roughly $643 million.

    $1 billion!

  193. says

    Even now, Trump doesn’t understand how polls work

    How are dead people answering the phone and expressing preferences to pollsters? I don’t know, but to Trump, this is apparently a legitimate concern.

    At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania yesterday, Donald Trump complained about a great many things, but he launched into an especially interesting tirade about polling.

    “We’re doing so good in this state, in North Carolina, in Florida, in Texas, in Ohio, in Michigan. You know how many car plants are being built or expanded in Michigan? We’re doing fantastically in Michigan. We’re doing great in New Hampshire. These are real polls. These aren’t suppression polls. These aren’t polls where they do registered voters. Registered. No. You want to do voters that are going to vote. Registered voters. You want to do what’s called likely voters. Likely. In other words, people that are likely to vote. Not registered voters, many of whom have died….”

    So let me see if I have this straight. Pollsters are engaged in some kind of conspiratorial effort to “suppress” Republican support by conducting surveys of registered voters, “many of whom” are dead.

    […] how are dead people answering the phone and expressing political preferences?

    [Trump], even now, seems wholly unaware of how polling works. As recently as June, Trump told Fox Radio that pollsters literally just make up numbers. “I don’t even think they go out and poll,” the Republican asserted. “I think they sit at a desk and say, ‘Give this number, give that number.'”

    Around the same time, his lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to CNN, demanding a retraction of a poll that upset the president. The reasoning behind the complaint was absurd, and Trump soon after moved on to different tantrums.

    […] Trump has also claimed that it’s responsible to simply add arbitrary amounts of support to his approval rating, under the assumption that his followers — notorious shrinking violets — are too embarrassed to tell phone-bank callers how much they love the president.

    Perhaps my personal favorite came last fall when the president tweeted, “ABC/Washington Post Poll was the worst and most inaccurate poll of any taken prior to the 2016 Election. When my lawyers protested, they took a 12 point down and brought it to almost even by Election Day.”

    In other words, as far as Trump was concerned, one of the nation’s leading pollsters released results he didn’t like, which two major news organizations changed in response to pressure from his attorneys.

    None of this happened in reality, but the president has told this story multiple times, as if he genuinely believes that it’s true. […]

  194. says

    People Trump doesn’t know, or barely knows:

    Rick Gates: Convicted.
    Paul Manafort: Convicted.
    George Papadopoulos: Convicted.
    Mike Flynn: Convicted.
    Michael Cohen: Convicted.
    Roger Stone: Convicted, (sentence commuted, perhaps because Trump couldn’t deny several decades of friendship)
    Steve Bannon: Arrested and indicted
    Donald Trump: Impeached. (Lack of self-knowledge has been demonstrated)

  195. says

    What DeJoy Did — And Did Not — Clear Up About His Policies’ Impact On Vote-By-Mail

    In highly-anticipated Senate testimony Friday, embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was able to assuage some of election experts’ worst fears about how new changes at the U.S. Postal Service could hinder vote-by-mail this November. But he dismissed other concerns that have swept the country in recent weeks, leaving a still-murky picture of whether his agency was prepared for a pandemic election […]

    Crucially, DeJoy promised that USPS would continue its approach of expediting the delivery of mail ballots, even if election officials chose a cheaper — and, thus, typically slower — postage class. And he put a great deal of distance between Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting and his own beliefs, stating that voting by mail is a safe and reliable way to cast a ballot.

    “The Postal Service is fully capable of delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time,” DeJoy said, later noting that he has frequently voted by mail.

    […] he insisted he was not to blame for several of the policies causing much of the anxiety ahead of November’s election. He claimed that the policies he would take ownership of were intended to speed up mail delivery, despite evidence they have not.

    “Theoretically,” DeJoy insisted, his demand that delivery trucks leave on schedule, regardless of whether all the mail was ready for them, should have gotten everyone’s mail to them faster.

    […] he admitted that for a “variety of reasons” that policy didn’t pan out exactly as he had expected.

    […] The new emphasis on urging election officials to pay for first class service was among the points made in letters that went out to several states this summer warning them that the quick turnaround in their absentee voting deadlines risked some ballots not making it back in time to be counted.

    On Friday, DeJoy said that those letters were intended to “safeguard” a largely vote-by-mail election, not to hamper it. He also said that USPS wanted to send a national message to voters encouraging them to get their ballots in early.

    He clarified that, despite what was implied by the letters, the USPS will continue to treat ballots with priority, regardless of their postage class. Furthermore, he committed to meeting a benchmark set in previous election cycles of 95 percent of election mail being delivered in three days or less.

    […] For all the clarity DeJoy brought about the special treatment ballots would get, DeJoy’s messaging on what role overtime will play in making sure vote-by-mail happens smoothly was more mixed.

    When reports surfaced last month that employees were being told that overtime would be curtailed, election officials clamored for assurances that an exemption would be made for postal workers handling ballots. Some vote-by-mail veterans have said their local post office officials — with whom they have long-standing relationships — have signaled that the extra effort their USPS workers have put in to making vote-by-mail run smoothly will continue. But, until Friday, a nationwide guarantee that overtime limitations won’t get in the way of delivering ballots has been missing.

    [DeJoy announced] “aggressive efforts” that will start in October “to make sure everything is moving and flowing timely.” […]

    Asked by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) about USPS’ plans for dealing with increased volume as vote-by-mail ramps up, DeJoy said USPS was going through the “detailed processes” that have been used in the past, and looking to expand upon them.

    […] “We never eliminated overtime … it has not been curtailed by me or the leadership team,” he said Friday, when pressed on the reported cuts to overtime and whether they would be suspended.

    […] DeJoy insisted several times that the USPS’ iconic “blue boxes” that have been removed and shifted around in recent days — as highlighted in viral social media photos that have spread like wildfire amid panic over the Postal Service — were simply part of a “a normal process that’s been around 50 years.”

    When he saw the “excitement it was creating,” he said, “I decided to stop it and we’ll pick it up after the election.”

    It is the case that COVID-19 has caused a drop in letter volume, but election experts have told TPM that the movement of blue boxes, especially so close to the election, deserved more up-front explanation.

    The same goes for mail sorting machines, which DeJoy said at one point were being removed to make more room for package sorting given the recent increase in that category.

    As The Washington Post pointed out, the mail sorting machines set aside to be decommissioned this year amounted to 13% of the USPS stock — compared to 3% in 2018 and 5% in 2019.

    On Tuesday, DeJoy said in a statement that blue boxes and mail sorting machines “will remain where they are.” But on Friday, he confirmed that this meant the ones that had already been removed or decommissioned would stay that way. […]

    DeJoy employed too many generalities, like “detailed processes,” “aggressive efforts,” and “safeguard.” Those are not real answers. Furthermore, every postal employee interviewed by reporters has confirmed that overtime has been curtailed. In that instance, it looks like DeJoy was lying and not just using generalities to avoid answering questions.

    From The Los Angeles Times:

    Six weeks ago, U.S. Postal Service workers in the high desert town of Tehachapi, Calif., began to notice crates of mail sitting in the post office in the early morning that should have been shipped out for delivery the night before.

    At a mail processing facility in Santa Clarita in July, workers discovered that their automated sorting machines had been disabled and padlocked.

    And inside a massive mail-sorting facility in South Los Angeles, workers fell so far behind processing packages that by early August, gnats and rodents were swarming around containers of rotted fruit and meat, and baby chicks were dead inside their boxes […]

    the evidence of serious disruptions appears to be mounting […]

    The cuts have had a ripple effect in California, snarling the operation of one of the biggest mail-processing facilities in the country and delaying the delivery of prescriptions, rent payments and unemployment checks. Some people have complained of going days without receiving any mail at all.

    At least five high-speed mail-sorting machines have been removed from a processing plant in Sacramento, said Omar Gonzalez, the Western regional coordinator for the American Postal Workers Union. Additionally, two of the machines have been removed in Santa Ana and six in San Diego, Gonzalez said. […]

    Inside one sprawling facility at Florence and Central avenues in Los Angeles, which serves 92 L.A.-area post offices, seven delivery bar code sorters were removed in June, leaving three, Gonzalez said.

    Each of those machines, which would handle mail-in ballots, can process up to 35,000 pieces of mail per hour.

    […] “Although we welcome the news of the suspension of these changes, it’s just that — a suspension. The attacks and undermining of our operations will resume, maybe at the worst possible time, in December, our peak season.”

    Before the recent cuts, workers at the facility were working six days per week, and were still struggling to keep up with the volume of packages driven by an influx of online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic, said mail handler Aukushan Scantlebury, 47.

    When DeJoy restricted overtime two months ago, Scantlebury and other workers saw their schedules cut back to five days per week. Within days, he said, the facility was in chaos.

    […] Boxes of steaks, fruit and other perishables rotted. Rats dashed across the floor. At one point, Scantlebury said, the “whole building was filled with gnats.”

    […] This month, one worker said, she found a box with air holes in a pile of packages. Instead of hearing the gentle sounds of baby chicks, she heard nothing. […]

    Sumi Ali, the co-owner of the Yes Plz coffee subscription company, arrived July 25 to mail a batch of freshly roasted beans to customers. A frequent visitor to the complex, he was shocked at what he saw.

    The parking lot was crammed with semi trailers piled high with unsorted mail; the warehouse-like facility was packed “wall to wall” with mail; and there were very few employees in sight.

    “It was like Armageddon,” Ali said. “It was a total maze. You could not walk through the facility without having to move things out of your way. I don’t know how they got forklifts through there. There were only inches of space between containers.”

    Since then, Ali said, the backlog of packages seems to have improved a little. But, he said, the chaos continues to be as bad, if not worse, than the usual holiday season. […]

  196. says

    The Fox News reviews of Biden’s speech were so glowing, [Donald] Junior deflated live on air

    On Thursday night, Joe Biden accepted the Democratic nomination and with just 75 days to go until Election Day, Biden gave the speech of his life. By nearly all accounts, the convention exceeded expectations and the Biden speech was humble, touching, genuine, and tough. Looking into the camera, Biden laid out a plan to attack COVID-19 and get the country back on track, both economically and morally.

    Biden’s speech was so strong that even the folks at Fox News gave glowing reviews. From Chris Wallace to Dana Pireno, who served as the White House press secretary for George W. Bush, to even Karl Rove, the reviews were unanimous: Biden flawlessly delivered the speech of his life and Donald Trump is in trouble. […]

    “Fox News’s Chris Wallace praises Biden’s speech: “I thought it was an enormously effective speech. Remember, Donald Trump has been talking for months about Joe Biden as mentally shot … I thought that he blew a hole, a big hole in the characterization.”

    […] Only a short while later, it was time for the Laura Ingraham show. […]

    So after Biden’s speech, Ingraham invited Fail-Son #1 on the program to dissect the speech, and even Ingraham had to admit that Biden’s speech “exceeded expectations.” As she made this comment, you could see Junior deflate right there before our eyes.

    “Watch the smile disappear from Jr’s face as Laura Ingraham says Joe Biden exceeded expectations. It almost looks like he’s about to cry” https://twitter.com/Scout_Finch/status/1296660252201562112

    […] Of course Junior pivoted back to their main campaign talking point: desperately trying to project every flaw, all the corruption, all the nepotism onto Biden. There’s no clearer example than hearing Junior, without a hint of irony whatsoever, talk about how Biden’s son, brother, and sister have all enriched themselves off of Biden’s career. I shit you not. […]

  197. says

    Belarusian dictator Lukashenka comes to the state news agency Belta in uniform, says, Poland and NATO wanted to occupy Hrodra region (north-western Belarus, a region with very strong protests). Large-scale military drills announced in Hrodna and Brest regions. Escalation expected”

    He looks ridiculous in this picture.

  198. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    When Joe Biden spoke of the “darkness” that’s been delivered by Donald Trump, there is more to it than just Trump’s violent rhetoric and angry divisiveness. Trump’s darkness is of the same variety that has been draped over whole centuries of history: the darkness of ignorance. During the 2016 election, Donald Trump described his perfect voter. “I love the poorly educated,” said Trump. That’s not hyperbole or sarcasm. For the last four years, Trump has been dedicated to the idea of undermining sources of public information. He’s called the truth “fake” and passed off lies as truth.

    It should be no surprise that out of this stew of ignorance is rising a distorted worldview that’s twisted, uninformed, and as filled with monsters as the marginalia of any Medieval manuscript. QAnon, the movement that began as a gathering of internet cranks reading messages from a clearly false source, has grown to become not just accepted in the Republican Party, but the core of the party. […] the natural outgrowth of an attack on science, evidence, and reason is an explosive growth of nonsense, falsehoods, and sheer ignorance.

    At some point in their careers, just about everyone is likely to work for a boss or company that believes in Mushroom Management—keeping employees in the dark and feeding them bullshit. For companies, the result is a corporate culture riddled with rumors and fear. The same thing works on a larger scale—only worse. As Russia (and a million Reddit subgroups) demonstrated so thoroughly in 2016, the sheer scale of the internet makes it possible to drown every crumb of fact under a thousands competing false claims. Dedicated use of misinformation makes it perfectly possible to provide an endless stream of lies—and a media prone to inserting “both sides” and “opposing views” into every article […]

    But QAnon isn’t informational poison. It’s informational cancer. Its malignant growth is consuming the Republican Party in a tumorous mass of not just lies, but pure nonsense connected together by the tenuous strands of ugly make-believe. And it can’t be cured by ignoring it. […]

    As The New York Times reports, the Texas Republican Party has now consciously adopted QAnon phrases and mythology as the motto of the party and the theme for the coming election. And why not? Trump has retweeted QAnon claims over 200 times. […]

    The Biden campaign pointed out that far from being people who love America, QAnon followers are the new “very fine people,” in that, just like white nationalists, the FBI has identified them as a domestic terrorism threat. […]

    At the moment, there are still Republicans in the House and Senate who are speaking out against QAnon … in exactly the same way they spoke out against Donald Trump before the 2016 election. Those Republicans can be defined simply as: people who no longer know their own party. They’re also people who have happily ridden the whirlwind of “fake news” and “deep state” so long as it was carrying them along. Now that they find themselves in an unfamiliar country, it’s far, far too late for them to get off. […]

    On Thursday night, Joe Biden made a call to deploy the light of learning and compassion to push back the tide of darkness and hate. We had better work to make that happen. Because history shows that darkness, once it has entered, can take centuries to dispel. […]

    Link

  199. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Coronavirus cases have been reported by at least 41 schools in Berlin, barely two weeks after the German capital’s 825 schools reopened.

    Cases are rising across Europe, including in Spain, which registered 66,905 in the past two weeks, resulting in the continent’s highest 14-day infection rate and warnings over the risk of a new wave of deaths.

    The disclosure by Berlin city education authorities that hundreds of students and teachers have had to quarantine has underlined once more how little is known about the risk of infection in school settings, despite the insistence of governments and experts, including in the UK, that reopening schools is safe given the right precautions.

    You can read the full report by my colleagues Peter Beaumont and Kim Willsher here:…

  200. says

    Biden is doing the hard work of forming a government now.

    Sherrod Brown, the progressive senator from Ohio, says he’s talking with the Biden campaign about “where he needs to look and who he needs to look at” as he begins to form a potential administration.

    It’s part of an early, behind-the-scenes effort by the Biden campaign to shape the contours of a government he has pledged would be “the most progressive administration since FDR.” […]

    […] designed to prioritize speed over ideology in responding to the coronavirus and the resulting economic ruin. Think Susan Rice, but also Elizabeth Warren. Pete Buttigieg, but also Karen Bass. […]

    […] Biden is also taking economic advice from Warren, Democrats familiar with the campaign say. She is widely viewed as a potential Treasury secretary in a Biden administration. It did not go unnoticed when Biden in April called corporate America “greedy as hell.” He has also proposed raising the corporate tax rate.

    And progressives have been heartened by the composition of his transition team. Headed by former Sen. Ted Kaufman, a longtime Biden adviser and Biden’s successor in the Senate, it includes Julie Siegel, who has been a top Warren adviser, and Gautam Raghavan, chief of staff to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

    […] “You’re going to be walking into a very difficult situation, and a lot of it’s going to be blocking and tackling.”

    One name often mentioned as a potential secretary of State is Rice […]

    Warren’s potential selection for Treasury could depend in part on the balance of the Senate after the November election. If she steps down, her state’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker, would appoint her replacement — a Republican, presumably — until a special election. But there are workarounds. […]

    Elsewhere in the Cabinet, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who endorsed Biden in early January and served on his vice presidential selection committee, is a likely candidate for transportation or Housing and Urban Development, among other possible positions. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), another finalist for vice president, could be secretary of HUD or Health and Human Services.

    New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham “comes up a lot” in Cabinet talks, according to one former Biden adviser who remains in contact with Biden campaign officials. Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor and presidential contender, is seen as a likely choice for ambassador to the United Nations or secretary of Veterans Affairs. And Jared Bernstein, a longtime economic adviser to Biden, is frequently mentioned as a potential chair of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors. […]

    Discussing the kind of leaders he wants to surround himself with at an event in April, Biden said his job is “to bring the Mayor Petes of the world into this administration … and even if they don’t come in, their ideas come into this administration.” […]

    Biden’s advisers are preparing for the opening months of his administration almost as a rescue mission, with contingencies to address the coronavirus based on how severe it remains and on whether a vaccine is available. […]

  201. says

    Democratic Party financial news:

    The Democratic convention drove a flood of online cash to candidates and groups on the left, giving the party a financial bump […]

    ActBlue, the online donation platform used by most Democratic campaigns, processed about $26.2 million in donations on Thursday, as Biden delivered his acceptance speech on the fourth day of the convention. That’s the platform’s fourth-biggest fundraising day of a record-setting year […] In all, donors gave more than $82.6 million through ActBlue during the four days of the convention.

    Not all of the money moving through ActBlue will end up in Biden’s coffers, as the platform is connected to hundreds of candidates’ campaigns, PACs and a growing number of racial justice groups amid this summer’s protests. But Biden’s campaign is the biggest Democratic organization on ActBlue, and the surging numbers signal increasing excitement among Democratic donors […]

    Link

  202. says

    YouTube link

    World War II veteran and lifelong Republican Edward Good said on the final night of the Democratic National Convention that although he voted for Donald Trump in 2016, he would vote for Joe Biden in the presidential election this year. “I think Trump has been the worst president we ever had, so I’ll be glad to see him go,” Good said. He expressed confidence that Biden could do “his proper duty” for the United States.

    The guy is 95 years old. He spoke from experience and came across as very sincere. He has been a Republican since the 1960s.

  203. says

    From The Washington Post editorial board:

    After he is nominated by a pared-down convention next week, […] Trump will make this argument to the American people: Things were great until China loosed the novel coronavirus on the world. If you reelect me, I will make things great again.

    Seeking reelection in the midst of the worst public health crisis and sharpest economic downturn of our lifetimes, this may, realistically, be the only argument left to him. But, fittingly for a president who has spoken more than 20,000 lies during his presidency, it rests on two huge falsehoods.

    One is that the nation, his presidency and, above all, Mr. Trump himself are innocent victims of covid-19. In fact, his own negligence, ignorance and malpractice turned what would have been a daunting challenge for any president into a national disaster.

    The other is that there was anything to admire in his record before the virus struck. It is true that the economic growth initiated under President Barack Obama had continued, at about the same modest rate. Mr. Trump achieved this growth by ratcheting up America’s deficit and long-term debt to record levels, with a tax cut that showered benefits on the wealthy.

    […] history will record Mr. Trump’s presidency as a march of wanton, uninterrupted, tragic destruction. America’s standing in the world, loyalty to allies, commitment to democratic values, constitutional checks and balances, faith in reason and science, concern for Earth’s health, respect for public service, belief in civility and honest debate, beacon to refugees in need, aspirations to equality and diversity and basic decency — Mr. Trump torched them all.

    Four years ago, […] we said, “uniquely unqualified” to be president.

    […] The nation has indeed spent much of the past three years fretting over whether that experiment could survive Mr. Trump’s depredations. […] The depth of the president’s incompetence, which even we could not have imagined, may have saved the democracy from a more rapid descent.

    […] The capitulation of the Republican Party has been nauseating. Misbehavior that many people vowed never to accept as normal has become routine.

    A second term might injure the experiment beyond recovery.

    And so, over the coming weeks, we will do something else we have never done before: We will publish a series of editorials on the damage this president has caused — and the danger he would pose in a second term. And we will unabashedly urge you to do your civic duty and vote: Vote early, vote safely, but vote.

    […] His campaign, as our columnist Michael Gerson has noted, was based on the premises that Mr. Obama and all his predecessors had made such a botch of things that nothing could get worse — and that expertise and moral leadership were not only irrelevant, they were handicaps.

    Mr. Trump has decisively refuted these premises.

    […] But, you say, is it fair to blame him for the coronavirus?

    No. Mr. Trump did not cause the pandemic; and China, as he says, mishandled it at the start.

    But every other nation in the world has had to deal with the same virus, and most of them have done so far more competently, and with more evidence of learning and improvement as they go, than the United States.

    More people have died of covid-19 in the United States than in any other country. Even adjusted for population, the death rate here is almost five times worse than in Germany, and almost 100 times worse than in South Korea.

    These are facts. This is reality. And the excess deaths and illness are directly attributable to Mr. Trump’s failures of leadership.

    […] Perhaps most frightening: Even now there is no plan, no learning, no strategy for testing and reopening. Under his leadership, it is all too easy to imagine that our children will still be out of school a year from now, or two, or three.

    […] He continued a successful campaign to demolish the Islamic State […] The recently announced peace deal between Israel and the tiny United Arab Emirates is a step forward. Mr. Trump has kept the nation out of major conflict.

    But neither the country nor the world are safer four years on. The nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, which Mr. Trump said he could easily take care of, are less constrained than ever. Russia continues to illegally occupy parts of three sovereign nations, including Ukraine. The malign dictatorship in Venezuela, which Mr. Trump vowed to dislodge, remains firmly entrenched. […]

    Mr. Trump, in his fourth year, has branded China an enemy, mostly because he needs a pandemic scapegoat, but also because he hopes it will give him a campaign issue.

    But for three years, he embraced and admired Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, and made clear his indifference to China’s genocide of its Muslim population, its stifling of Hong Kong, the repression of its own people. Mr. Trump’s one concern was mercantile, and even there he failed: China’s economy is no more open to U.S business than it was four years ago.

    A president truly attuned to the Chinese threat would be investing in American universities and science; welcoming the smartest young people from around the world to study and work in the United States […] In each case, [Trump] has done the opposite. […]

    Last fall, Mr. Trump became the third president in history to be impeached. The House of Representatives charged him with what amounts to extortion for personal political gain: Mr. Trump held up an arms sale and a White House meeting in an effort to pressure the president of Ukraine to slander former vice president Joe Biden. The House also charged him with illegally refusing to cooperate with its investigation.

    In February, the Senate voted to acquit the president, with Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah the lone Republican honest enough to acknowledge that the evidence was irrefutable. […]

    he has been emboldened, and his behavior in the half-year since provides an indication of the lawlessness we can expect if Mr. Trump is reelected. He has swept aside U.S. attorneys who would not bend the law to his whim; fired officials throughout the government whose only offense was to do their jobs honestly or seek to hold his administration accountable; sicced unbadged troops on peaceful protesters in D.C. and Portland, Ore., for the benefit of his reelection campaign; ignored and lied about credible reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers.

    He has sought to undermine confidence in democracy itself, lying about the prevalence of fraud, floating the possibility of delaying the election and even suggesting he may not accept its results.

    These are high crimes and misdemeanors, as the framers of the Constitution understood the term. But this time it is up to us, the American people, to remove Mr. Trump from office.

    Link

  204. says

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has big plans for the Postal Service. None of them are good

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has emerged as a central figure in basically everything that’s gone wrong at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)—from selection of an unqualified postmaster general right down to the mysterious removal of mailboxes across the country. As leader of the White House task force to overhaul the agency, Mnuchin’s role appears to be total.

    The latest piece of information came from former USPS Inspector General David Williams, who told the Congressional Progressive Caucus at a hearing Thursday that Mnuchin had a hand in the recent removal of iconic blue mailboxes across the country.

    Williams called removal of the blue boxes “the most interesting of all,” saying his understanding was that “Secretary Mnuchin wanted that done.” Williams said: “I asked the Postal Service about it, and they said it wouldn’t save anything. And there would be no reason to remove those. I’m not sure how it went from that, several weeks ago, to where they’re being uprooted from all over.”

    Williams also explained that the agency saved absolutely no money by dismantling the mail sorting machines, but it did sacrifice its capacity to deal with high-volume surges.

    “You don’t save money by breaking down machines and putting them away and storing them,” he said, calling it a “very odd action” to take. Williams noted the reason to keep those sorting machines up and running is specifically to deal with something like a Hurricane Katrina, a 9/11, a pandemic, or an election. “Removing those is thinning out the Postal Service’s ability to redirect mail in an incident like that.”

    So in essence, there was no financial benefit to removing mailboxes or dismantling sorting machines—the only upside is the downside of making USPS less efficient.

    And that appears to be the motivation behind just about every change Mnuchin has pushed for and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has implemented. According to information uncovered by Citizens for the Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Mnuchin’s goal was to make USPS less competitive in relation to UPS and FedEx.

    […] Mnuchin also recruited DeJoy—a major GOP donor with close ties to Trump himself—and pushed for his installation as postmaster general despite the fact that he would be the first postmaster in two decades with no agency experience. DeJoy also has massive financial conflicts of interest, including $30 million and $75 million in assets in other USPS contractors and competitors […]

    […] Mnuchin personally blocked lawmakers’ efforts to simply grant the money to [the USPS], and then for months he stalled release of the money. When Mnuchin finally did release the funding late last month, he only did so according to terms that required the Postal Service to disclose its proprietary service agreements with Amazon and other companies to the Treasury Department. In other words, Mnuchin held the funding hostage until he could get the proprietary information he wanted from the Postal Service.

    Wow. That seems completely legit for a guy who’s obviously intent on kneecapping the agency’s market position and a postmaster general who has every reason to dismantle USPS from top to bottom.

  205. tomh says

    Judge: Federal Agents Lack Authority to Clear Portland Streets
    August 20, 2020 KARINA BROWN

    PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Federal agents sent by President Donald Trump to protect federal buildings in Portland are now under an injunction barring them from assaulting journalists and legal observers. The government says it will appeal.

    Because in Trump’s America, of course they should be allowed to assault journalists.

    Federal agents are still in Portland. They are just out of sight…

    Judge Simon underscored that point in his ruling Thursday.

    “The out-of-town agents and officers of the federal defendants who have been deployed to Portland, however, and whose actions were the basis of the court’s TRO, remain in Portland,” Simon wrote. “Further, they have no scheduled date of departure.”

    Simon made his restraining order more permanent, issuing a preliminary injunction with the added requirement that federal agents wear unique identifying numbers.

    Thirty-six journalists and legal observers have filed declarations in the case, documenting instances where they say federal agents targeted them for assaults, even though they were clearly marked as professionals and couldn’t have been mistaken for protesters. Fourteen of those incidents happened after Judge Simon’s restraining order was in place, according to declarations.

    On the very night Simon issued his restraining order, federal agents shot legal observer Kat Mahoney in the head with a pink paint ball as she stood across the street from the federal courthouse, observing the protest, according to Mahoney’s declaration. Later that same night, Mahoney says, a federal officer calmly doused her and three other legal observers “as though he were watering a line of flowers.”

    And federal officers shot another legal observer with a rubber bullet after the restraining order was in place, according to court documents. In that situation, the officer stood four feet from a legal observer wearing a green National Lawyers Guild hat and fired directly at her chest, missing her heart by just a few inches.

    “Plaintiffs submit numerous declarations and other video evidence describing and showing situations in which the declarants were identifiable as press, were not engaging in unlawful activity or even protesting, were not standing near protesters, and yet were subjected to violence by federal agents under circumstances that appear to indicate intentional targeting.”

    But the government has refused to identify the agents involved in such incidents and has said in court documents that none have been disciplined.

  206. says

    Guardian – “MPs pushing for Russian interference inquiry threaten to sue Boris Johnson”:

    A cross-party group of MPs is threatening to sue Boris Johnson unless he orders an independent investigation into Russian interference in recent UK elections and the 2016 Brexit vote.

    The MPs say the government’s refusal to investigate Kremlin meddling is a breach of the European convention on human rights, which enshrines the right to free elections in protocol 1.

    The group says it will take the prime minister to court if he fails to implement what it describes as essential steps to protect future elections. It has sent him a pre-action letter, to which Downing Street has two weeks to respond.

    Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton, said: “Democratic processes are clearly at risk. It seems that the integrity of our elections is being deliberately undermined. Nothing could be more serious for our democracy.

    “Ministers’ behaviour to date has been shockingly complacent and negligent. The government cannot be allowed to shirk this because Tory party coffers are topped up with Russian money.”

    The MPs call on the government to implement the recommendations of parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC). Its long-awaited Russia report, which Johnson suppressed, before the last general election, was finally published last month.

    The government says it has seen no evidence of “successful” Moscow interference. The ISC, however, said Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May made no effort to look for it, and nor did Britain’s security agencies, with MI5 providing the committee with just five lines of text.

    The ISC described the UK as a clear target for Russian disinformation and money laundering, and called on Johnson to launch a full inquiry. He dismissed the request last month.

    The group of MPs has called for a series of legislative reforms. It wants a single body to be legally responsible for combating foreign influence and a ban on donations from abroad. It says online political adverts should make the source of funding clear, and that agents who work for foreign states should be forced to register, as in the US….

  207. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #316 above:

    Though it seems hard to imagine, Trump’s overall political operation — his campaign, the joint effort with the RNC, and two affiliated committees — have now spent more than $1 billion, and the Republican National Convention hasn’t even started yet.

    I have no doubt that a significant portion of that has flowed into Trump’s (and his family’s and cronies’) pockets.

  208. says

    #MInsk, #Belarus, tonight: people are singing ‘Bring Down the Prison Walls!’

    What a beautiful sight!”

    Sviatlana #Tsikhanouskaya has just released a video statement in which she, for the first time, openly endorsed an upcoming protest action: rally in #Minsk this Sunday

    She appealed – also for the first time – to the memory of national hero Kastus Kalinouski”

    In #London, there will be a #FreedomWay march held on Sunday 23 August, organised jointly by people from #Lithuania & #Belarus, in support of the Belarusian people back home fighting for their freedom:

    Please join us if you are free. Please wear something white & bring flowers.”

    Information atl.

    Update to #307:

    The head of Ukraine’s miners’ trade union rebuffed this claim. He said that Ukrainian miners were in solidarity with Belarusian workers right to strike, peacefully protests and freely cast their votes in elections.

    Ukraine is with Belarus!”

    Lukashenko has blocked a bunch of news sites, including RFE/RL.

  209. says

    southpaw:

    Basic situation here is Trump lost his big case at SCOTUS to quash the Manhattan DA’s subpoena because he’s president, the Justices remanded with instructions that Trump can only fight the subpoena using more or less the same arguments as everyone else, he tried that and lost…

    …the Manhattan DA only agreed to wait 7 calendar days after that decision that Trump lost before enforcing the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers figure that’s August 28th; they asked the appellate court for an administrative stay and a stay pending appeal to stop subpoena enforcement.

    … the appellate court—the 2nd Circuit—denied the administrative stay and set its hearing on the motion for a stay pending appeal after August 28th. Meaning there’d be a window where the Manhattan DA could enforce his subpoena and change the status quo.

    So now what I think will almost certainly happen next is Trump’s lawyers will go running back to SCOTUS between now and August 28th crying no joy and asking for some kind of a emergency stay once again preventing the Manhattan DA from at long last getting Trump’s tax returns.

  210. says

    Hillary Clinton joins Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid, and Nicolle Wallace to talk “about her reaction to seeing her former Senate colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle sacrifice their principles and their spine to supporting Donald Trump even on the issue of confronting Russia.”

    “Its like they had a lobotomy.”

    The video is 2:54 minutes long.

  211. says

    No one is getting hit harder by Trump’s USPS sabotage than rural voters—the GOP’s most loyal base

    The disastrous effects of Donald Trump’s plan to kneecap the U.S. Postal Service are dropping like a hammer on rural areas of the country—an effect that none of his henchmen appeared to take into consideration when they started dismantling sorting machines and removing mailboxes, among other things.

    […] Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a largely rural state, has received 4,800 calls about Postal Service problems since the pandemic began, according to the New York Times. […] “It’s worse than it’s ever been. … It’s hurting rural America. It makes no sense whatsoever.”

    […] While industrial-scale farms often have the resources to transport their own farm animals, smaller mom-and-pop farms and people with backyard hen houses have relied on USPS to deliver their chicks for decades and usually without incident. “We don’t have any other options,” Rhiannon Hampson, a Maine poultry farmer who recently lost 3,000 hatchlings in a delayed shipment. “There’s nothing sadder than seeing a box of tiny little fuzzy peeps and all of them are D.O.A.”

    The Times reports that many small farms are now dispatching workers to drive hundreds of miles to pick up their chicks straight from the source, but it’s a much more expensive and less sustainable option.

    And then there’s battleground state Ohio, […] “This is an attack on a tried-and-true service that rural America depends on,” said Gibbs, who voted for Trump in 2016 but has since launched an advocacy group decrying the toll Trump’s policies have taken on rural Americans. “It pulls one more piece of stability, predictability and reliability from rural America. People don’t like that.”

    The abrupt policy changes at the agency have wreaked havoc on everything from plant shipments to replacement parts for farm machines to prescription drug refills. And since most rural areas lack reliable internet services, tracking down late and/or lost shipments can be an hours-long labor intensive process.

    […] Though a recent survey of rural voters shows that many of their views on USPS, who’s responsible for the slowdowns, and other issues are colored by partisan leanings, 57% of these likely rural voters said they would be less likely to support a candidate who reduced the budget for the Postal Service or privatized it, including 43% of Republicans. The party breakdown of the survey also skewed heavily conservative, with 56% Republican-identified respondents versus 34% who identified as Democrats.

    That finding is exactly why Democrats will continue pounding the issue home, on top of the fact that Trump is clearly trying to rob Americans of a free and fair election by suppressing mail voting. […]

  212. says

    NBC – “QAnon looms behind nationwide rallies and viral #SavetheChildren hashtags”:

    On the second Saturday of August, about 100 protestors gathered at the “Big Red Wagon,” a well-known attraction in downtown Spokane, Washington. Men, women and children marched through the streets chanting, “Save the children.” It was ostensibly an effort “to raise awareness and start a conversation” about child trafficking, according to a local television reporter at the scene.

    Many of the marchers held signs that would be expected at such a rally: “Save our kids,” “Your silence is deafening,” and “Wake up 4 our children,” to name a few.

    But other signs were less clear, and suggested that something darker was going on during an event that otherwise seemed organic and sympathetic. “Symbolism will be their downfall,” one read. Another featured the hashtag “#Pedowood.” Yet another was a strange acronym: “WWG1WGA,” short for “Where we go one, we go all.”

    These signs, similar to those found at many such rallies now taking place around the U.S., are references to QAnon, the conspiracy theory that has surged in popularity in recent months. It turned out that the rally had nothing to do with the century-old humanitarian charitable group Save the Children.

    QAnon is a sprawling and baseless conspiracy theory alleging that President Donald Trump is engaged in a secret war against a cabal of Satanist child abusers in government, entertainment and the media. The conspiracy — which has spread to millions of users in Facebook groups during the pandemic — has been linked to several violent crimes and was last year labeled a potential domestic terror threat by the F.B.I.

    The scene in Spokane was just one of many rallies planned on Facebook by QAnon supporters or sympathizers that have brought the conspiracy theory offline and into the town squares of dozens of cities in recent weeks. On Saturday, more than 200 “Save the Children” events are scheduled to take place across the country, organized by a constellation of individuals and newly formed groups, according to an NBC News analysis of Facebook events.

    The events themselves tend to follow a familiar pattern. People march along the main streets and chant, usually sticking to the broader topics of child abuse and human trafficking. When talking with local reporters, marchers rarely mention QAnon or wider conspiracy theories, sticking instead to demands like stricter laws against pedophilia and greater media attention on sex trafficking. The marches are neighborly and peaceful. Often young children are marching, too, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with bloody handprints and carrying tiny signs with messages like “I am not for sale.”

    QAnon spent years on the fringes of the internet, with the theory evolving and often growing less specific. What was originally a conspiracy theory that centered on an anonymous internet poster has now become something of a catchall for a variety of beliefs about a hidden group of child abusers in positions of power.

    That’s helped create a palatable entry point for many people who might not spend much time in dark parts of the internet but are active on Facebook. It’s a strategy that has led to a significant growth in people who might not necessarily be among the most ardent QAnon die-hards, but are beginning to warm to some of its ideas.

    “This is not about pedophilia,” said Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University and co-author of the book, “You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories and Our Polluted Media Landscape.” “This is not about child protection. This is about a conspiracy theory that’s trying to couch itself in other terms to get more people involved and sympathetic.”

    And those sympathetic people are showing up at rallies and trying to take action. People who have spent years working for organizations that fight human trafficking and child abuse say that they have been flooded by bizarre claims and tips, as well as criticism and sometimes threats.

    Facebook cracked down on QAnon on Wednesday, removing or restricting more than 13,000 groups, pages and Instagram accounts that pushed QAnon content and “discussed potential violence.”

    That action did not seem to affect the rallies planned for this weekend, events that largely remain on Facebook.

    A Facebook spokesperson told NBC News that the company was continuing to review QAnon content against the new policy, including Save the Children events….

    Much, much more at the link. I listened to a couple of episodes (102 and 103) of the podcast Akira MacKenzie (IIRC) linked to several days ago, and found it informative.

  213. says

    In #Khabarovsk, east #Russia, thousands joined another large scale #protest march in support of the ex regional governor Furgal and in protest against Kremlin’s actions.

    This is 43rd consecutive day of protests, 7th consecutive weekend of mass protests:…”

    In Khabarovsk protesters are chanting ‘Vova drink some tea’, using a diminutive for Vladimir, referring to, you guessed it, Putin”

    Navalny is finally in Germany.

  214. says

    Geoff Bennett:

    NEWS: I got a tip that someone in town for Robert Trump’s White House funeral punched a server tonight at D.C.’s Fig & Olive restaurant. I called and an employee there confirmed it: “Somebody blindsided one of my servers. Clocked him right in the nose.”

    I’m told some in the group were still carrying funeral programs. The “unruly” group lashed out when the restaurant couldn’t accommodate their large party. Employee: “It’s a pandemic, doing the best we can. Totally uncalled for.” Employee says no “high-profile” Trump was involved.

    The employee says he believes the server’s nose is broken.
    I asked if police were involved. Employee says they have security at City Center and he thought they were handling it with DC police. But neither security nor police did anything.

    Employee: “My server’s nose is crooked. Pretty sure the guy broke it. They didn’t apologize. Just said, ‘You don’t know how to speak to people.'”

  215. says

    Reuters – “California governor calls wildfires ‘deadly moment,’ urges residents to flee”:

    Hundreds of wildfires burning across Central and Northern California that have already killed six people more than doubled in size on Friday, becoming some of the largest in state history and threatening small towns in the path of the flames.

    The conflagrations, which broke out over the last week, have blackened an area larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island and destroyed more than 500 homes and other structures. In addition to the fatalities, 43 firefighters and civilians have been hurt.

    California Governor Gavin Newsom said crews were fighting 560 fires across the state, many of them sparked by lightning storms, straining resources to the breaking point as he seeks reinforcements from as far away as Canada and Australia.

    “We are not naive by any stretch about how deadly this moment is and why it is essential … that you heed evacuation orders and that you take them seriously,” Newsom, a Democrat, told Californians at a news briefing.

    The state has been hit by its worst dry-lightning storms in nearly two decades as close to 12,000 strikes here have sent flames racing through lands left parched by a recent heat wave. Some 175,000 people have been told to leave their homes.

    In Santa Cruz, a city of around 65,000 people on California’s central coast, residents were told to prepare “go bags” as bulldozers cut fire lines and flames came within a mile of the University of California Santa Cruz campus.

    Video footage posted on social media showed giant Redwood trees, some more than 2,000 years old, standing largely unscathed among the torched ruins of buildings in and around Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

    A complex of blazes east of Palo Alto and another in wine country south of Sacramento are the seventh and tenth largest wildfires in state history, respectively, according to CalFire, and the agency warned that more dry-lightning storms were expected as early as Sunday.

    With up to 20 separate blazes burning in some lightning-fire complexes, firefighters and locals pleaded for more support.

    “We’re still understaffed for a fire of this size,” said Daniel Potter, a CalFire spokesman, in reference to the Santa Cruz blaze where crews are working 72-hour shifts to save homes in towns such as Ben Lomond.

    “We need HELP in the Santa Cruz mountains. SEND IN THE NATIONAL GUARD NOW!” San Jose State University professor Scott Myers-Lipton said on Twitter.

    “All our first responders are working to the ragged edge of everything they have,” state lawmaker Jim Wood said.

    Plumes of smoke and ash fouled air quality for hundreds of miles around fire zones, adding to the misery and health risks of residents forced to flee or those stuck inside sweltering homes that lacked air conditioning.

    Medical experts warned that the coronavirus pandemic has considerably heightened the health hazards posed by smoky air and extreme heat, especially for older adults and those already suffering from respiratory illnesses.

  216. says

    Maddow last night:

    “Still Without A Plan, Trump Admin Holding Out For Coronavirus ‘Miracle'”:

    Rachel Maddow notes that after months of crisis and death, the Trump administration’s only strategy for dealing with the coronavirus is the hope that a miracle is just around the corner.

    “Trump Org Finds Way To Cash In On RNC Despite Coronavirus Constraints”:

    Rachel Maddow reports on the Republican National Convention finding a reason to hold events near Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel even though the convention is in Charlotte, North Carolina. Or was it Jacksonville, Florida?

  217. says

    Excerpt from Brian Stelter’s new book in Vanity Fair – “Hannity Has Said to Me More Than Once, ‘He’s Crazy’”: Fox News Staffers Feel Trapped in the Trump Cult:

    …The contrast between Fox’s public face and the private “resistance” has existed ever since Trump upended the presidential race five years ago. It’s the reason why I decided to write a book about the network and its unprecedented alliance with the White House. In all I spoke with more than 140 staffers at Fox, plus 180 former staffers and others with direct ties to the network. Their frustration was palpable. Staffers described a TV network that had gone off the rails. Some even said the place that they worked, that they cashed paychecks from, had become dangerous to democracy. They felt like the news division had been squeezed out in favor of pro-Trump blowhards.

    Most of the insiders acknowledged that Fox News was always, on one level, a political project, but many said they were shocked by how thoroughly Fox and the GOP had been merged by Trump, Hannity, and a handful of other power players.

    “We surrendered,” one anchor said with remorse in his voice. “We just surrendered.”

    “What does Trump have on Fox?” another anchor asked, convinced there was a conspiracy at play.

    A lot of people I spoke to were desperate to talk. Others were terrified. Ailes made everyone paranoid and punished those he suspected of leaking. That same fear of retribution was still very real in the post-Ailes years. Employees suspected their work phones were tapped and assumed their emails were monitored by management. I cannot overstate the level of paranoia among Fox employees.

    Most of the sources only spoke on condition of anonymity, citing Fox’s nondisclosure agreements and other rules against speaking with outside members of the media. This was especially true for on-air talent. I laughed several times when I heard Fox stars bemoaning the use of anonymous sources on air, knowing those very same people were confidential sources. After all, that’s how this business works.

  218. says

    House conducts special Saturday session to address Postal Service crisis, as McConnell vacations

    The House of Representatives is currently conducting a special Saturday session to address the needs of the Postal Service and put a halt to the destruction that’s not just limiting the ability of the post office to deal with the fall election, but impacting millions of Americans right now. But Mitch McConnell has made it clear that the Senate has no intention to help pass the “Delivering for America Act.” And Donald Trump has already made it clear that he has his veto pen ready for any bill intended to secure operations of the Postal Service until after the election.

    The bill being considered by the House would provide $25 billion in emergency funding and prohibit changes in processes through the end of the year. The White House has issued a formal statement of opposition to the bill. But it seems unlikely that Trump is going to need to sharpie his signature any time soon, as Mitch McConnell has also made it clear that he has no intention of bringing the Senate back to consider the House bill. Instead, the Senate intends to remain on vacation until at least Sept. 8—and McConnell seems unlikely to bring the House bill up for consideration then, or ever.

    […] As representatives have spoken through the morning, Republicans seem intent on pretending that there is no issue at all, calling the issue a “made for TV fantasy” and focusing on the fact that the Postal Service doesn’t make a profit. Democrats repeatedly pointed out that people are not getting their medicine, businesses are not getting their payments, Social Security checks are not arriving, and sorting machines are laying disassembled in parking lots.

    Over the last week, it’s become clear that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has no intention of actually halting the destruction of the post office, and that Republicans have no intention of speaking up against Donald Trump’s open admission that he’s intentionally sabotaging the United States Postal Service. In fact, almost everything Republicans have said in debate on Saturday has been lifted directly from Trump’s statement. […]

    […] McConnell will stay on vacation as the post office is dismantled. And Republicans will again show that they are more interested in supporting Trump than defending the nation. […]

  219. says

    Tennessee passes a law that can permanently remove voting rights from peaceful protesters

    […] During a three day special session, the Republican-dominated state legislature passed a new bill last week without making the usual announcement, and Republican governor Bill Lee “quietly” signed it into law on Friday. But despite the way the bill was tiptoed across the finish line, the results are anything but small—because they could make many forms of protest illegal in Tennessee, and threaten protesters with the loss of voting rights.

    Since the First Amendment includes “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” it might seem that turning protests into a felony would be not just difficult, but unconstitutional. But Tennessee Republicans aren’t really saying that protesters can’t protest—they’re just making sure that they don’t do it anywhere people can see them or hear them. Or else.

    […] Institutes a mandatory 45 day sentence for “rioting”
    Increases fines for blocking highways
    Requires that protesters pay for any damage to state property
    Makes assaulting a “first responder” a Class C felony with a 90 day mandatory sentence

    […] the biggest change in the bill is that makes “illegally camping” on state property a Class E felony.

    What constitutes “illegal camping?” That’s left up to “the discretion of judges.” This charge was formerly a misdemeanor, generally resulting in a small fine. But under the new law, any protesters staying in the area around the capitol in Nashville could face up to six years in jail. More than that, Tennessee is one of the few states where committing a felony removes the right to vote. So anyone who pitches a tent on state land without permission, or who stays in an area past a curfew, or fails to leave promptly when ordered, could find themselves permanently locked out of democracy.

    This last part isn’t theoretical. It’s aimed directly at mostly young, mostly Black protesters who have regularly appeared outside the state capitol in Nashville in the weeks following the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. This bill is intended to remove those protesters from the sight of Tennessee legislators. […]

    How this new law will be enforced is unclear, but it appears to offer numerous opportunities for abuse that would result in protesters facing mandatory sentences, long jail terms, and loss of voting rights—even while being completely peaceful.

  220. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] If this seems like an amazing confluence of disasters, it is, but they have a uniting theme—scientists make clear that the conditions in California—both the heat and the “lightning siege”—are connected to climate change. The same is true of the overactive Atlantic hurricane season. So in a way, there are two disasters—global warming and the pandemic. Both of them aided by Donald Trump’s malignant incompetence and deliberate attempt at genocide.

    Link

  221. says

    Republican Convention news, along with some other nonsense from Trump and his lickspittles:

    […] The bulk of Republicans’ programming will take place in and around the Washington, D.C., area — mostly on federal property [which is illegal!]. Trump has said he plans to deliver his nomination speech from the White House Rose Garden next week, while Vice President Mike Pence is expected to speak at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md.

    Lara Trump piled on her father-in-law’s attacks in a Saturday interview with NBC’s “Weekend Today,” disparaging Democrats’ convention as a “dark, dismal and really depressing vision of America.”

    “Ours will be hopeful and inspirational and patriotic,” the senior Trump campaign adviser said, adding that the president would play a part in each night of the Republican convention.

    Oh, no. Trump is going to be featured every night of the Republican Convention. Not looking forward to that.

    Donald Junior is going to be the featured speaker on the first night. Ivanka is a featured speaker on the last night.

    Trump’s Saturday tweet barrage continued with false claims that the Democratic Party omitted the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance during its four nights of national convention programming.

    JFC, he can’t even tell a good lie.

    He also alleged Democrat-run cities “rampant with crime” could see spillover into suburban areas, repeating a fear-based allusion in an attempt to court suburban female voters, a key electoral bloc that is turning away from the president in recent polling.

    “Why would Suburban Women vote for Biden and the Democrats when Democrat run cities are now rampant with crime (and they aren’t asking the Federal Government for help) which could easily spread to the suburbs, and they will reconstitute, on steroids, their low income suburbs plan!” Trump wrote. […]

    Link

  222. says

    Follow-up to comment 263.

    From Wonkette: “Hospital COVID-19 Data Going Back To The CDC. Or Maybe The Coast Guard.”

    A bit over a month ago, the Trump administration told hospitals across America to stop reporting key COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and instead send the data to a new data system at the Department of Health and Human Services. The transition was anything but smooth, and public health experts started complaining that the new HHS system’s reports were inconsistent and not updated often enough. Now, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, it looks like another change is on the way: Hospitals will “soon” be sending the data to the CDC once more. At least once the CDC gets an all-new data system up and running. They may have to turn it off and on again a few times to work out the bugs, too.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    The Journal says the latest change was announced by the administration’s COVID Whisperer, Dr. Deborah Birx, to “hospital executives and government officials in Arkansas” earlier this week. She explained that the wholesale switch to the HHS system a month ago was actually “solely an interim system,” and that the CDC would once again take over responsibility for COVID-19 data. […]

    Remember, the rationale for shifting the data reporting from CDC to the new HHS system was that the CDC’s existing system, the National Healthcare Safety Network, was too slow and inefficient. The nifty new HHS system, built under a $10 million no-bid contract by health IT company TeleTracking Technologies Inc., would be much more nimble and powerful, and could handle reports from many more hospitals. It was the best thing going!

    Michael Caputo, the Roger Stone acolyte who serves as HHS’s chief mouthpiece despite having no medical background, had said the CDC system was weak slow poop, and that the CDC “just cannot keep up with this pandemic,” necessitating the switch to the new “HHS Protect” system, which could handle the job, you bet. […]

    The Wall Street Journal doesn’t offer a lot of information about what motivated the latest switch, to what sounds like a third, still-in-development system, but the data problems the Journal reported earlier this month certainly seem to be a big part of it. […]

    The hospital data is important because it helps determine how much remdesivir, a key antiviral treatment for Covid-19, the federal government distributes to each state. But hospitals also need to see consistent data from other hospitals in their region so that they can deploy enough health-care workers and beds in certain areas and respond to outbreaks by providing doctors and nurses with sufficient protective equipment.

    An unnamed “HHS official” also emailed the Journal a statement saying the new CDC system was being developed in collaboration with the US Digital Service to “build a modernized automation process” for hospital data. […]

    The Journal explains the US Digital Service is a “small agency” set up during the Obama administration to help iron out problems with Healthcare.gov, the consumer gateway to purchasing insurance.

    Why, that sounds like maybe it involves capable civil servants who know a thing or two about handling large amounts of medical data. You mean to say there’s no no-bid contract with a private firm that just dropped out of nowhere to take on a huge government job? And there’s still an agency started under Barack Obama that’s intact? Does Donald Trump know this madness is going on?

    […] the return of COVID-19 data coincides with some big personnel changes at HHS and at CDC: Jose Arrieta, the HHS’s data chief, resigned abruptly last Friday, saying in a statement that he wanted to spend more time with his children.

    […] On top of that, two other top Trump appointees at the CDC chose last Friday to leave the public health agency “to start a consulting firm,” as people do. […] “It wasn’t clear whether any of Friday’s resignations were related to problems with the new data-reporting system.”

    […] We’ll check in soon on the administration’s next adventure in COVID-19 data fuckery, which we suspect will involve paying the US Postal Service to collect printouts of data from hospitals, place the papers in mail trucks with an equal number of mail-in ballots, and drive them at high speed into active volcanoes.

  223. says

    Oh, FFS!

    “Trump calls FDA the ‘deep state,’ accuses agency of delaying vaccine trials to hurt his reelection.”

    Trump went after the Food and Drug Administration, accusing the agency of delaying clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and treatments as part of a “deep state” plot to hurt his reelection chances.

    “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump tweeted. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”

    He tagged his own head of the FDA, Stephen Hahn, in the tweet.

    In a subsequent tweet, he hit the FDA for revoking the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, a drug that Trump has touted since the early days of the pandemic even though there is scant evidence of its efficacy.

    “Many doctors and studies disagree with this!” Trump tweeted in reply to a two-month old tweet from when the FDA made the decision.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) brought up the president’s FDA tweet during a Capitol Hill news conference, calling it “very scary” and said “everybody should take note of it.”

    The FDA’s job is to focus on safety and effectiveness of new drugs, not political expedience.

    “This was a very dangerous statement on the part of the president, even for him,” Pelosi said. “It went beyond the pale in terms of how he would jeopardize the health and well-being of the American people.”

    Washington Post link

  224. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    As someone who worked years under FDA guidelines, I know the FDA does not conduct clinical clinical trials. What the FDA does is to set the guidelines for clinical trial protocols that follow US laws and Intentional agreements (ICH guidelines).

    What is FDA’s role in approving new drugs and medical treatments?

    FDA makes sure medical treatments are safe and effective for people to use. We do not develop new therapies or conduct clinical trials. Rather, we oversee the people who do. FDA staff meet with researchers and perform inspections of clinical trial study sites to protect the rights of patients and to verify the quality and integrity of the data.

    Any delays come from the clinical trial sponsors not following the guidelines. Usually the sponsors not listening to the quality assurance department or contractors. Trying to take short cuts with ethics, quality control of the test drug product, and data handling during the trials delays the trial

  225. says

    Nerd @361, Thanks for that additional information, based on your experience.

    In other news: John Cassidy comments on Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort and other MAGA Money-grubbing:

    […] The most remarkable thing about the indictment that the Southern District of New York unsealed on Thursday is how grubby the wrongdoing it alleges is. For years, Bannon, who started out as a Naval officer and Goldman Sachs investment banker, has been promoting himself as a right-populist thought leader, a man deeply interested in history, philosophy, and economic supply chains, as well as the nefarious business of day-to-day politicking, and putting the screws to Democrats. If the charges contained in the Southern District’s complaint are true, the would-be philosopher king is just another grifter looking to exploit Trump supporters for his own financial benefit.

    Manafort, who, along with Roger Stone and Charles Black, virtually invented the business of lobbying in Washington for rancid foreign governments, was a grifter too, of course. To give him his due, though—or perhaps more than his due—he didn’t try to portray his money-grubbing as part of a broader political cause. Even his involvement in the Trump campaign seemed to be largely a business arrangement—or perhaps a service to some of his East European benefactors, from whom he was seeking payments that he believed he was owed. […]

    Bannon was different. During the Trump campaign, he portrayed himself, and Trump, as defenders of an American working class, which had been sacrificed on the altar of globalization. After being booted from the Trump White House, in August, 2017, at least in part for making critical comments about the Administration to journalists, he expanded his ambitions to Europe, where he sought to build a network of far-right parties. (He didn’t get far.) He also teamed up with an exiled Chinese billionaire, Guo Wengui, to press for regime change in China. […]

    In a move as predictable as the sun rising in the east, Trump quickly sought to distance himself from the We Build the Wall group, and from Bannon. Even for a dissembler as practiced as he is, though, this was a tough sell. In July of last year, the President’s son, Donald, Jr., appeared at a fund-raising event for the group, alongside Bannon and various other right-wing activists. On Thursday, the Trump Organization issued a statement claiming that Donald, Jr.,’s “previous praise of the group was based on what he was led to believe about their supposed intention to help build the wall on our southern border and if he and others were deceived, the group deserves to be held accountable for their actions.” […]

    Most of the money given to We Build the Wall—and to the Trump reëlection campaign, so far—has come in the form of modest sums, which were presumably donated, in the main, by people of modest means. An obvious question is: At what point will Trump’s supporters come to understand that the maga movement is, for the people organizing and leading it, largely a money-making scam? Sadly, the answer may be never.

    Link

    Excerpts above are from a longer article.

  226. lumipuna says

    “Trump calls FDA the ‘deep state,’ accuses agency of delaying vaccine trials to hurt his reelection.”

    Paging Dr. Lysenko for Coronavirus response team. Again.

  227. says

    Hmmm. This is, possibly good news. Of course, we can’t trust Trump to stick to a decision, but this is still promising news.

    The Trump administration is poised to block the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska early next week, marking a surprising change of course, sources familiar with the plans told Politico.

    The proposed project is controversial because of its proximity to the Bristol Bay area, the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon-producing region. Democratic lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee have raised concerns about the administration’s moves to advance the Pebble Mine.

    […] Trump has faced pressure to block the mine, including from GOP megadonor Andy Sabin, who told Politico he’s “fairly certain” the project will be nixed. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr., has recently come out against the Pebble Mine as well, citing concerns about the proximity to Bristol Bay.

    Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers published an environmental impact assessment of the proposed Alaska copper and gold mine, bringing it one step closer to construction. […]

    “If the Trump administration decides to deny this permit, it is great news for Bristol Bay and the people who depend on it,” Trout Unlimited CEO Chris Wood said in a statement […]

    Link

  228. says

    Judge orders Trump to pay legal fees to Stormy Daniels

    A California court ordered […] Trump to pay $44,100 to Stephanie Clifford, the adult-film actress known as Stormy Daniels, to cover her legal fees regarding her nondisclosure agreement.

    The order from California Superior Court Judge Robert Broadbelt, which was filed on Monday but posted online Friday by Clifford’s attorneys, surrounds a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with former attorney Michael Cohen in his capacity representing Trump. Clifford and Cohen both say Trump had an affair with the actress from 2006 to 2007, claims [Trump] denies.

    Clifford first sued Trump in 2018 to try to be released from the agreement, and Trump’s lawyers agreed out of court not to countersue or enforce the NDA. Clifford’s suit was ultimately dismissed and her claims ruled moot since the NDA had been deemed unenforceable.

    This week’s decision was the culmination of Clifford’s efforts to be reimbursed by Trump for the legal expenses related to the case.

    Broadbelt ruled that Clifford was entitled to be reimbursed for the legal fees after deciding she was the “prevailing party” under California law even though the case was dismissed.

    He also dismissed arguments from Trump’s attorneys that he was not responsible for covering the fees because he did not sign the NDA, ruling that because Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 and since the president’s legal team had argued that a defamation suit from Clifford should be handled by an NDA arbiter, Trump was effectively a party to the deal.

    Ah, good. Yet one more unethical move that Trump did not get away with.

  229. says

    From Max Boot:

    The Democratic convention did a superb job of highlighting Joe Biden’s strengths — his empathy and decency, his perseverance through personal tragedies, his commitment to public service — while obscuring his weaknesses. A partial list of the latter would include his verbosity, his gaffes, his inside-the-Beltway mind-set and his sometimes questionable judgment (he opposed the successful 1991 war against Iraq and supported the disastrous 2003 invasion).

    Yet I’m not worried about Biden’s shortcomings — and not merely because the alternative is quite possibly the worst president in U.S. history. Biden enjoys a key advantage over […] Trump that was hardly mentioned during the convention. As former president Barack Obama said when endorsing his vice president, “I know he’ll surround himself with good people.”

    Biden has surrounded himself with good people throughout nearly half a century in Washington — and he engenders so much loyalty that many in his inner circle have been with him for decades. […] They include his former chiefs of staff Ron Klain, Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti and Ted Kaufman. Combined, these four men have roughly 150 years of Washington experience. All are effective operatives. Not one is a bomb-thrower.

    Biden’s foreign policy team includes the likes of Tony Blinken, Avril Haines, Jake Sullivan and Nicholas Burns. All are veterans of high-level government service: Blinken was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser, Haines was deputy national security adviser and deputy CIA director, Sullivan director of policy planning at the State Department, and Burns an undersecretary of state. This is the A Team. They are seasoned professionals, ready to govern on Day One. […]

    Washington Post link

  230. says

    Isaac Chotiner interviewed Joshua Green, a national correspondent at Bloomberg Businessweek, about Steve Bannon. Here are a few excerpts:

    [… I knew the moment had arrived when he had stepped in it, in a big way. I think anyone who knows Bannon has been anticipating his indictment at some point, on some charge.

    Well, he was someone who was in the center of the Trump campaign, he was in the center of the White House for seven months, he was in the center of the Mueller investigation, the congressional investigations. I always figured that at some point they would catch him doing something. I think the irony is that it is like busting Al Capone for tax evasion, isn’t it? That what would finally get him is this little immigration grift? But it’s not a huge surprise to me that this would be the outcome. […]

    he always rather smugly had the same line that he would go back to again and again. He would say, “I am always smart enough not to be in the room.” If you remember the conversation at Trump Tower with the Russians in June of 2016, he wasn’t in the room. That was his shorthand for saying he was too clever to get caught doing anything illegal. And, at least according to the indictment today, that turned out not to be true. […]

    I think that Bannon saw the value, early on, in an economically populist appeal that was radically at odds with the appeal being offered by Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. How sincerely he held that view was always an open question. I think he is sincere in his anti-immigration, nativist fervor, but in all the time I spent talking to him, publicly and privately, his passion was on the immigration front. It wasn’t on pushing populist economics that would filter more income down to working people. […]

    When Bannon left the White House, he had this heroic vision of himself, where he was going to marshal this slate of nationalist candidates, like Roy Moore, that was going to wreck the G.O.P. establishment. And Bannon himself had actually confided to people that he himself was thinking about running for President. He considered himself not only the brains of the operation but a successor to Trump, and instead—and this always happens—his ego blew him up. After Michael Wolff quoted him disparaging the Trump family, Trump ostracized him and he got fired from Breitbart. And I think he realized pretty quickly that the star power in the Trump universe belonged to Donald Trump, not Steve Bannon. And then I think he came to realize pretty quickly that to have any kind of influence in Republican politics, which is what Bannon really wanted, he would have to kowtow to Trump, and be seen to be in Trump’s good graces in order to get anyone to talk to him. […]

    So instead of superseding Trump, as he wanted to, he just became another in the long line of obsequious lackeys praising Trump on Fox News, and that allowed him to regain a modicum of his former influence in Republican circles, but not really the ones that matter. So when he didn’t have a top role in the White House, when he didn’t have a top role at Breitbart News, what was left for him was to commandeer these dopey, nativist extremist groups populated with shady characters like Kris Kobach and Curt Schilling. And I think that when that is who you are spending your time with, it’s not a huge shock you wind up indicted. […]

    while Bannon did come back shamefacedly and kowtow to Trump after he got blown out, I don’t think he did it with quite the obsequious panache that other Trump characters do, so I think he is actually stuck in a kind of purgatory here. It doesn’t seem to me like he can count on a pardon the way a Roger Stone could have, but I guess we will see. […]

    You have to be able to keep up the ruse, and neither one of them can do it—Trump because he has the attention span of a gnat, and Bannon because his own narcissism and ego won’t let him go five minutes without stepping in dog shit. […]

    He laid out a compelling pitch centered on nativist immigration and economic populism in 2016 that was good enough to allow Trump to eke into the White House. And pretty much from day one inside the Trump White House, he fell apart. Nobody is buying it anymore.

    New Yorker link

  231. says

    Guardian – “‘Donald is cruel’: Trump’s sister recorded saying president has ‘no principles'”:

    Donald Trump’s older sister, a former federal judge, is heard sharply criticizing her brother in a series of recordings released Saturday, at one point saying of the president: “He has no principles.”

    Maryanne Trump Barry was secretly recorded by her niece, Mary Trump, who recently released a book denouncing the president, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Mary Trump said Saturday she made the recordings in 2018 and 2019.

    In one recording, Barry, 83, says she had heard a 2018 interview with her brother on Fox News in which he suggested that he would put her on the border to oversee cases of immigrant children separated from their parents.

    “His base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this,” Barry says.

    At another point she says: “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God.” She adds: “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”

    Barry can also be heard saying that she guesses that her brother has never read her opinions on immigration cases.

    “What has he read?” Mary Trump asks her aunt. Barry responds: “No. He doesn’t read.”

    The recordings were first reported by the Washington Post. The Associated Press then obtained the recordings.

    In the weeks since the release of Mary Trump’s tell-all book about her uncle, she has been questioned about the source of some of its information.

    Nowhere in the book does she say that she recorded conversations with her aunt. On Saturday, Mary Trump revealed that she had covertly taped 15 hours of face-to-face conversations with Barry.

    “Mary realized members of her family had lied in prior depositions,” said Chris Bastardi, a spokesman for Mary Trump. He added: “Anticipating litigation, she felt it prudent to tape conversations in order to protect herself.”

    The president has frequently spoken highly of his sister; the recordings are the first time a family member, outside of Mary Trump, has been critical of him.

    The recordings illuminate the tension between the president and his sister. At one point Barry says to her niece: “It’s the phoniness of it all. It’s the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel.”…

    Here are a couple of links to the audio.

  232. says

    HuffPo – “Bill Barr Reportedly Pressed Rupert Murdoch To ‘Muzzle’ Trump Critic Judge Napolitano On Fox News”:

    Attorney General William Barr met last year with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to pressure him to “muzzle” Donald Trump critic Andrew Napolitano on Fox News, according to a new book out Tuesday.

    Napolitano’s air time has dwindled as his criticism of Trump has increased over the last year.

    Barr’s meeting with Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox News’ parent company, at his New York home was widely reported at the time, but its purpose was not revealed. One aim of the meeting was to shut up Napolitano, according to the book “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth,” written by CNN media reporter Brian Stelter.

    Trump “was so incensed” by Napolitano’s increasingly critical comments about him in Fox News broadcasts that he “implored Barr to send Rupert a message in person … about ‘muzzling the judge,’” according to the book, reported The Guardian, which obtained a copy. Trump “wanted the nation’s top law enforcement official to convey just how atrocious Napolitano’s legal analysis had been,” wrote Stelter, citing information from an unnamed source.

    Napolitano, a former New Jersey superior court judge, reportedly told friends early in 2019 that he was on Trump’s “short list” for the U.S. Supreme Court. But when news emerged later that year of Trump’s phone call pressing Ukraine’s president to launch an investigation into baseless accusations against Joe Biden, Napolitano called the president’s actions both “criminal and impeachable.”

    The judge also said that much of what was found in an investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election was “also impeachable.”

    Barr’s words “carried a lot of weight” with Murdoch, Stelter reports, though it’s unclear how the pressure to silence Napolitano served taxpayers funding Barr’s salary.

    A daytime slot for Napolitano soon disappeared and he was carved out of coverage of Trump’s impeachment, Stelter noted.

    Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo would only book Napolitano to discuss non-Trump topics, because she would become too upset when he criticized Trump, a staffer told Stelter.

    Napolitano still appears on Fox News, though in a more limited role. He recently harshly criticized Trump for sending federal officers into Portland to snatch residents off the streets, calling it a dangerous slide into totalitarianism. “There is nothing lawful or orderly” about the aggressive tactics Department of Homeland Security officers are wielding against people protesting racism, he wrote in a Fox News opinion piece. The agents’ actions are “unlawful” and “unconstitutional,” he wrote.

    He has also blasted Barr as “Stalinistic.”

    Not only does the public pay Barr’s salary, but these henchman errands to New York and all over, presumably flying on the DoJ jet and staying in suites in luxury hotels like the Pierre, are publicly funded.

  233. says

    #Minsk #Belarus While people were brought to pro-#Lukashenko rallies by buses and coercion, protesters are gathering despite arrests, threats and more facts about police brutality that were revealed. The effect of this rally will be more important and stronger than previous ones”

    #GlobalFreedomWay2020 will bring together people from 60 cities in 32 countries in Europe and the world. Belarus has never seen such solidarity before!”

    Map and link at the link.

    In #Riga, #Latvia, Latvian president Egils Levits @valstsgriba joined the rally in solidarity with the people of #Belarus:

    Paldies, Latvija!”

    In #Kyiv, #Ukraine, the Kyiv City council is flying Belarusian national flag today in solidarity with the people of #Belarus.

    Thank you, Kyiv….”

  234. says

    Tracing the roots of city boy Trump’s racist ‘suburban dream’ nonsense—all the way to Rush Limbaugh

    […] Trump’s racist suburban shtick strongly echoes the work of right-wing author and commentator Stanley Kurtz. In 2012, Kurtz published a book called Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. If you’re wondering whether Kurtz has spent a lifetime studying housing policy, don’t bother. His previous book was 2010’s Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism. There is something that is definitely not “expertise in housing policy” running through both tomes.

    Back to 2020. On the morning of June 30, Kurtz published a National Review piece claiming that if Biden won the presidency, he would go beyond the AFFH and adopt a policy advocated by Cory Booker; he further asserted that Biden’s true intention is to “abolish the suburbs.” Trump’s tweet saying the same went live about 12 hours later. Media Matters’ Bobby Lewis pointed out the connection between Kurtz’s article and the Trump tweet.

    Stanley Kurtz leads us to the other right-wing blowhard mentioned at the beginning of this post […] Rush Limbaugh. […] I analyzed multiple examples of Limbaugh slamming Obama over his policies regarding the suburbs—most of the time citing Kurtz. A week before Kurtz’s book came out in 2012, Limbaugh started talking about it, quoting from it, and using it to paint President Obama as anti-suburban and, in so many words, anti-white. This went on for the remainder of Obama’s time in office. […]

    in July 2014, Limbaugh spouted off about “Obama’s war on the suburbs”—during a segment where he specifically went after the AFFH rule Trump so desperately hates, which was then under consideration. In a July 2015 master class on race-baiting, the host tied his suburbia-based attacks on Obama to “forced busing,” as well as to “attacks on the South” and “attacks on the Confederate flag.”

    […] Limbaugh is still at it in 2020. He even blew his dog whistle during his reaction to Rep. John Lewis’s funeral.

    Thanks to reporting from New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, we know that Trump got many of the specific topics for his race-baiting rhetoric from talk radio. In the run-up to the 2016 campaign, onetime top Trump aide Sam Nunberg did a “deep dive into talk radio”—listening for “thousands of hours” and then giving “reports” to Trump on what was really motivating the right-wing base. Limbaugh has the largest audience in talk radio, and has for as long as such ratings have been measured. Trump’s recent dog whistles on the suburbs and Biden are wholly unoriginal: They’re virtually a carbon copy of Limbaugh’s language on the suburbs and Obama—language which itself was cribbed from Stanley Kurtz.

    Hmmm, that interesting backstory includes Sam Nunberg.

    […] Playing to racial anxieties and ginning up fear and hatred are the only ways the Limbaugh-Trump Republican Party can get the support of those voters, given that GOP policies actively work against their economic interests while favoring those of the real elites—the top 1%. Republicans are spewing hate in order to keep white Americans and Americans of color from coming together on the basis of shared interests.

    […] The Trump presidency’s singular legislative accomplishment is a multibillion dollar tax giveaway to millionaires and billionaires, that does little to nothing for the average American of any race. […]

    When thinking about where Trump comes from, most people associate him with the city. Trump Tower, his erstwhile home, sits in midtown Manhattan. He claims to have “built” skyscrapers, but mostly he just got paid to place his name on other people’s buildings. However, he grew up in 1950s Jamaica Estates, a neighborhood that, although it was located in Queens, New York City, much more resembled a wealthy suburban enclave. It was, according to a New York Times article, “an exclusive and nearly all-white place, resistant to outsiders and largely impenetrable to minorities.” Trump himself described it as “safe” and “an oasis” when compared to other parts of Queens, which he viewed as “rough.”

    This mindset—the idea of a suburban environment as a place where white people with enough money to escape the inner city’s poor neighborhoods of color, as well as enough power to keep non-whites from moving in—is at the core of Trump’s race-baiting on the suburbs. […]

    Two months before Election Day, it appears that the white suburban women who elected Trump in 2016 (and to whom Trump thinks this hate-filled nonsense will appeal) are not responding to his dog whistle, at least not in large enough numbers to reelect him. Perhaps they’ve evolved in terms of their fears and prejudices. Or perhaps they’ve simply come to realize that The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote poses a far greater danger because of his manifest unfitness to lead our country. […]

    The text above is excerpted from a longer article that provides background on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, enacted in 2015, under the Obama-Biden administration; and that also provides a timeline of all of Trump’s tweets and statements about “Suburban Housewives,” (there are more of them than I remembered).

  235. tomh says

    Judge Issues Blistering Injunction Against Betsy DeVos’ Coronavirus Aid Rule
    By Andrew Ujifusa, August 22, 2020

    A federal judge has ruled against U.S. Department of Education in a lawsuit over how much coronavirus aid public schools must set aside for private school students.

    Public school groups and officials argued that the interim final rule from the department unfairly deprives their schools and disadvantaged students of crucial funding during the pandemic.

    In a preliminary injunction halting enforcement and implementation of the rule while she considers the case pitting Washington state against the Education Department, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara J. Rothstein harshly and repeatedly rejected the department’s arguments. She said that the agency subverted the intent of Congress and hurt students most affected by the pandemic, and that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos did not have the authority to issue the rule in the first place.
    […]

    In a statement Saturday, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the chairman of the House education committee, applauded Rothstein’s ruling and asked DeVos “to abandon its unlawful equitable services rule and finally provide schools the clarity and resources they need.”

    More at the link.

  236. KG says

    Of the 12 RNC key speakers, 6 are Trumps. – SC@370

    The proto-Imperial Family. But if they succeed in what is clearly their aim, history suggests they should beware – of those they entrust with their security, and above all, of each other.

  237. says

    23 Republicans in the House broke ranks and voted for the funding bill proposed by Nancy Pelosi. The “save the Post Office” movement is growing more and more bipartisan. We need to keep the pressure on.

    In other news, a Georgia cop fired his taser at a black woman. An investigation followed.

    A white Georgia police officer seen in viral TikTok video shocking a Black woman with a Taser on her front porch has been fired, the Gwinnett County Police Department announced Friday. The video, which was recorded Tuesday, showed the now-former officer Michael Oxford arguing with 22-year-old Kyndesia Smith, then using a Taser on her when she refused to allow the officer to handcuff her. The Gwinnett Police Department said in a news release even before the encounter Oxford “was flagged by supervisors and an investigation had begun.”

    “That investigation looked at whether proper de-escalation techniques were used, and whether Officer Oxford violated our policy based on the manner in which he handled the incident,” the department said. “Our policy states that each member of this department shall consider it his or her duty to be of service to the general public and to render that service in a kind, considerate, and patient manner.

    “One of our core values is courtesy (…) The investigation in this case has shown that Officer Oxford violated our policy and did not meet our core values. For this reason, the employment of Officer Oxford has been terminated as of August 21st.” […]

    Oxford was called to the scene on a report of property damage to a neighbor’s car, according to a police report The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained. When Oxford arrived, the neighbor told him one of the women accused of the damage also threatened to “kick her son in the head.” The neighbor provided security footage of the damage, but when Oxford identified someone on the scene who matched a person he saw in the footage, he had a difficult time furthering his investigation. The person he was trying to question, Smith’s mother Aytra Thomas, was part of a group of women shouting at Oxford, he said in the police report. “The other people that were on scene with her continued to yell and scream at me, making it very difficult to speak with Aytra and further conduct my investigation,” he wrote.

    Oxford told Smith to be quiet and leave the area if she didn’t want to be arrested on obstruction charges, but she refused, according to the viral video footage. “I’m not going nowhere, it doesn’t matter,” she told him. “You’re on our property. We did not call you.” […]

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

  238. says

    A couple of hilarious/pitiful reactions to comments made by Maryanne Trump Barry, Trump’s older sister, (the comments were harvested from the AskTrumpSupporters subreddit by Wonkette):

    I believe the claims, always thought there’s no way he had any education, based off of how he speaks and rich people going to fancy colleges barely ever is legit.

    It doesn’t change my opinion of him since I already presumed what his sister has been saying about him.
    ——————–
    She clearly does not know her brother and hasn’t been in his inner circle for years. Therefore is worth about as much to me as any given outsider’s opinion. Many families are like that. President Trump is a voracious reader and everyone in his inner circle knows that.

    One of Trump’s lickspittles, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, repeated the lie that Trump reads a lot.

    Commentary from Wonkette:

    […] It’s hard, I think, to believe that people are either stupid enough to believe that Trump is a “voracious reader” or that they would not care that he is, very obviously, quite stupid.

    The fact is — anyone who would not vote for Trump because he is cruel or phony or a bad person or very stupid is already not voting for him. As satisfying as it is for us to read these things, they don’t care and they’re not going to care. They don’t care about his character, they don’t care that he is not sincerely religious, they don’t care that he is not particularly smart. If anything, not being smart helps him, because America hates smart people.

    For whatever reason, Trump is basically immune to the effects of negative publicity, so if we want to win this, we’ve got to focus on how life will be better for everyone without him.

    Link

    I don’t think Trump is really immune. See the video to which SC linked in comment 376.

  239. says

    Once again, White House staff have to walk back one of Trump’s claims because Trump obviously didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about.

    White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday shot down […] Trump’s claim that law enforcement will be at polling places on Election Day.

    During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity last week, the self-proclaimed President of “law and order” was asked whether there would be “poll watchers” ensuring all voters were registered.

    “We’re going to have everything,” Trump told Hannity. “We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have, hopefully, U.S. attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody and attorneys general. But it’s very hard.”

    Meadows, however, denied the notion of “thousands of sheriffs” at polling places on Nov. 3 during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

    After Fox News’ Chris Wallace pointed out that law enforcement at polling places has a history of being used as a voter suppression tactic especially in the South, Meadows argued that [Trump] was trying to convey that “if you want to show up and vote in person, we’re going to make sure that that is safe.”

    Meadows then pivoted to absurdly suggesting, without citing specific evidence, that social distancing requirements at polling places may lead to “aggressive behavior.” [LOL]

    […] “And so to the extent that we are going to deploy thousands of sheriffs — no, we are not going to do that,” Meadows said. “To the extent that we are going to make sure it’s safe and if the judges at those polling places need any kind of security, we are going to make sure they have the resources to do that.”

    Wolf similarly denied that the President brought up deploying any of the DHS’ armed agents to polling places during an interview on CNN.

    “No, absolutely he has not. Again, that’s not what we do at the Department of Homeland Security,” Wolf said. “We have law enforcement authorities and law enforcement officers at the department. We have express authorities given to us by Congress. And this is not one of them.”

    TPM link

    Video available at the link.

  240. says

    Washington [State] Postal Workers Defy USPS Orders And Reinstall Mail Sorting Machines. The article is by Daniel Cassidy, writing for Forbes.

    After embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced he would pause recent controversial changes to U.S. Postal Service protocol, the service told workers not to reinstall removed equipment.

    40 percent of the high-speed mail sorting machines in the Seattle-Tacoma area were disconnected or dismantled since the changes went into effect, according to NPR, with workers in the Tacoma, Washington sorting plant saying eight of their 18 machines that sort and postmark letters were disconnected and pushed into a corner.

    Sorting machines in Wenatchee, Washington were also reconnected, against the orders of the Postal Service’s head of maintenance, Kevin Couch.

    Only two facilities, Seattle-Tacoma and one in Dallas, seem to be ignoring the Postal Service’s directive to leave decommissioned sorting machines out of use.

    […]

  241. says

    Ben Collins:

    QAnon groups have invaded so many spaces with white suburban women on Facebook. Everyone has their own story, but it largely coalesces around people susceptible to MLMs and essential oil-ish alternative medicine.

    The “suburban housewife” stuff from the Trump camp is not random.

    I recently watched a few of the episodes of the new Netflix series (Un)Well (trailer). I had to pause them multiple times as my anger rose. I agree with a review I read arguing that the episodes aren’t nearly as critical of this nonsense as they should be – especially in that they don’t examine the self-serving backstories of some of the snake-oil peddlers – but they’re worth watching. The most recent episode of the podcast @ #343 (with Will Sommer) talks about how Q is also latching onto the sovereign-citizen legal scam I’d read about a few years ago in an article by a journalist who went on a woo-cruise where all of these grifts and conspiracy theories overlapped. PZ might have posted it, or Orac. In any event, QAnon, particularly combined with the Trump campaign, is maybe the most opportunistic of these.

  242. blf says

    SC@389, That was the “Conspira-Sea Cruise”. Orac posted about it (I don’t recall if poopyhead did or not):

    ● The Woo Boat (August 2015), before sailing.
    ● The Woo Boat, part 2: Andrew Wakefield versus the skeptics (February 2016), two journalists report (Anna Merlan and Colin McRoberts).
    ● The Woo Boat, part 3: Andrew Wakefield goes full Mike Adams antivax (August 2016), a third journalist reports (Bronwen Dickey in Popular Mechanics, now titled Climb Aboard, Ye Who Seek the Truth!, albeit Orac says it was titled “I Went on a Weeklong Cruise For Conspiracy Theorists. It Ended Poorly”).

  243. blf says

    In Brazil, Bolsonaro tells journalist he would like to smash your face in over corruption claims:

    […]
    The Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has told a journalist he would like to smash your face in after being questioned over reports of a series of mystery payments into his wife’s bank account by a former police officer with alleged links to the Rio de Janeiro underworld.

    Reports in the Brazilian media have claimed that between 2011 and 2017 at least 89,000 reais (about £12,000 [c.16000USD]) were paid into the account of Brazil’s first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro.

    The mystery deposits were allegedly made by Fabrício Queiroz, a longtime friend of Bolsonaro who was recently arrested as part of a corruption investigation into one of the president’s sons, and Queiroz’s wife, Marcia Aguiar. […]

    […]

    As he stood outside the Catholic Cathedral of Brasília, Bolsonaro then branded the journalist a safado (dirtbag).

    His comments sparked immediate condemnation from members of the media and opposition politicians.

    “This kind of behaviour not only demonstrates a lack of manners — it is also an attempt to intimidate the press and prevent awkward questioning,” the president of the Brazilian Press Association, Paulo Jeronimo told O Globo.

    Within minutes of Bolsonaro’s remarks being reported, Brazilian journalists had launched a coordinated online campaign, repeatedly tweeting the very same question at their president. “President Jair Bolsonaro, why did your wife Michelle receive 89,000 reais from Fabrício Queiroz?” they asked.

    There was no immediate response from Bolsonaro’s account […].

    But by Sunday evening, the campaign had gone viral with some of Brazil’s most famous activists, academics and artists, including the legendary composer Caetano Veloso, joining the journalists’ chorus.

    “We’ve got a playground bully in the presidential palace,” tweeted the left-wing politician Marcelo Freixo. “Why won’t he answer the question?”

    […]

  244. says

    Twitter – “Kellyanne Conway announces departure from the White House”:

    Conway, who is one of President Trump’s longest-serving advisers, confirmed she will leave the White House at the end of the month in order to focus on her family. In a statement, Conway said the decision was “completely my choice and my voice,” adding: “For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.”

    Her daughter was talking about wanting to be emancipated the other day, so this is pretty late. George Conway tweeted last night:

    So I’m withdrawing from @ProjectLincoln to devote more time to family matters. And I’ll be taking a Twitter hiatus.

    Needless to say, I continue to support the Lincoln Project and its mission. Passionately.

  245. blf says

    The raping children cult has gone anti-vax (at least in Ozland), Australian official dismisses Catholic bishop’s objections to Covid-19 vaccine:

    […]
    [The deputy chief medical officer, Dr Nick] Coatsworth’s defence of the University of Oxford vaccine follows a warning from Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher,that Catholics would be presented with an ethical dilemma if the vaccine was proved successful as it relies on cell lines from an electively aborted fetus.

    […]

    The warning[hysterical rant], contained in a letter to prime minister Scott Morrison, was also co-signed by the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, and the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Australia, Makarios Griniezakis. […]

    […] Robert Booy, a University of Sydney professor of vaccinology, said vaccines have been developed with cell lines from aborted fetuses for the past 50 years, and that Christian groups had previously accepted their use because of the “big distance between the cell line and the final vaccine”.

    He told Guardian Australia vaccines for rubella, hepatitis A and chicken pox all used the same method of development.

    “Fetal stem cells can go through scores of 50 replications, whereas older cells in humans, their cells can only replicate a much shorter number of times. So in order to produce vaccines, the virus needs to be grown within the cell repeatedly, and then harvested. Then they get rid of the human element, and purify it just to have the viral element,” Booy said.

    “The purification of the virus means they don’t include human DNA in the actual vaccines. Generally people have been comfortable with the idea that a human cell line has been used because it’s a long way distant from the fetus.”

    […]

    “It’s using a cell line that’s been used in lots of applications. It’s our perfect right to take absolutely no intelligence of him,” [Nobel laureate and professor of immunology, Peter] Doherty said of Fisher.

    […]

    Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said “when a vaccine is available and it’s rolled out, as many people as possible should get vaccinated”.

    “That’s my personal view. I say that as a Catholic. That’s the best outcome for Australia. The vaccine is what will get us to the other side of this diabolical health problem with all the economic consequences it brings,” he said.

  246. says

    Here’s a link to the August 24 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Boris Johnson has issued a plea to parents to send their children back to the classroom when schools reopen in September. The UK prime minister said the risk of contracting coronavirus in schools is “very small”, and that pupils face greater harm by continuing to stay away from the classroom.

    There is a question at the WHO press conference about the Russian vaccine programme.

    Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at the WHO, said the organisation had asked the Russians to share data on efficacy. “Safety needs to be assessed short term but also long term as some side-effects are only picked up later on,” she said.

    There are 30 trials at various stages of development across the world, she added.

    Earlier this month, Russia became the first country in the world to license a coronavirus vaccine when the president, Vladimir Putin, announced its approval ahead of conventional phase 3 testing.

    At the time of the announcement the vaccine had not passed the advanced trials normally required to prove it works before being licensed, a major breach of scientific protocol. Russian officials claimed the vaccine would provide lasting immunity to Covid-19 but offered no proof.

    Donald Trump on Sunday announced the emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma, a method involving taking plasma from people who have recovered from Covid-19, for coronavirus patients.

    Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO, stressed that it was still unproven and that there was “very low evidence” it was safe and effective.

    “There are a number of clinical trials going on around the world looking at convalescent plasma … but only a few of them have reported on results. The results are not conclusive. The trials have been relatively small and the results in some cases point to some benefit but have not been conclusive. We have been tracking this and do ongoing … reviews to see where the evidence is shifting or pointing at and the moment it is still very low evidence,” she said.

    Dr Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the director general of the WHO, warned that the side-effects of convalescent plasma ranged from mild chills and fevers to more severe lung problems and circulatory overload.”