Comments

  1. blf says

    RNC 2020: a two-hour glimpse into the upside-down world of Trump TV:

    The president [sic] promised uplifting and positive, but what viewers got was a dystopian vision under Biden — with racist overtones

    There was once a theory that Donald Trump’s first run for president was a merely a stunt to help him launch his own TV network. On Monday the world finally got two and a half ghoulish hours of Trump TV. It was a lesson in the medium’s power in the art of make-believe, especially of the Soviet kind.

    The first night of the Trump national convention — sorry, Republican national convention — was proof how the 166-year-old party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan has become a personality cult. Speaker after speaker paid homage to the absolute monarch as if competing to outdo one another for obsequious sycophancy.

    There is no Republican policy platform this year other than the party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his administration.

    Trump TV had two other crucial components. One was the type of propaganda that would make Fox News blush and had factcheckers scrambling, for example a selectively edited video segment on the coronavirus pandemic that trashed Democrats, claimed, One leader took decisive action to save lives, and made no reference to Trump’s repeated predictions that the virus will just disappear nor his suggestion that patients be injected with disinfectant.

    Only on the upside-down Trump TV channel could a Covid-19 death toll of more than 175,000 — far higher than any other country in the world — be an argument for re-election.

    The other predictable theme was pornographic scaremongering about the Democratic candidate Joe Biden and — in an endlessly repeated phrase — the radical left. Despite Trump’s promise that the evening’s programming would contain something very uplifting and positive, speakers portrayed the prospect of a Biden victory as the stuff of dystopian nightmares, sometimes with racist overtones.

    [… I]t was Kimberly Guilfoyle, partner of Trump’s son Don Jr and a former Fox News host, who stole the show with a high-octane audition for Evita — without an audience.

    At this point, I fell over laughing. I saw very competent production of Evita in London last millennium, and whilst my specific memories are a bit vague, she, as presented in the show, would fit right in with hair furor’s dysfunctional family / mafia and teh fox & Putin / thug enablers.

    Standing in Washington’s cavernous Andrew W Mellon Auditorium, scene of the treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wedding in 2018, Guilfoyle screamed into the void about Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris: They want to destroy this country and everything we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.

    They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal victim ideology to the point where you will not recognize this country or yourself.

    It was about as different as could be imagined from Michelle Obama’s calm, intimate address exactly one week earlier at the Democratic address. But it had a similarly dramatic message: whereas Obama and her husband framed the election as Trump versus democracy, the Republican pitch this week is America versus socialism.

    […] Nikki Haley, the former ambassador [sic] to the UN, told how she was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. In much of the Democratic party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country.

    Such efforts were undermined, however, by Mark and Patty McCloskey, a white couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home in St Louis, Missouri. Their job was to voice Trump’s racist obsession with America’s suburbs, supposedly being under threat of invasion, violent crime and total destruction.

    Sitting in a faux European medieval mansion, they knew how to push buttons. Mark warned: The radicals are not content just marching in the streets. They want to walk the halls of Congress. They want power. This is Joe Biden’s party. These are the people who will be in charge.

    Patty addded: They are not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities, they want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning. This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into thriving suburban neighborhoods. President [sic] Trump smartly ended this government overreach, but Joe Biden wants to bring it back.

    These are the policies that are coming to a neighborhood near you. So make no mistake: no matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.

    As a reminder, these two loons are “lawyers” who have had felony chargers filed against them.

    Republicans struggled with the pandemic-enforced virtual format more than Democrats. Shots of Trump supporters in every state had a rushed look as if hastily commissioned in response to the Democrats’ moving roll call last week.

    There was soaring music and clips of monuments and memorials glowing at sunset and yet more Stars and Stripes. Whereas Biden was seen last week at virtual roundtables with guests on TV screens, Trump was able to host Covid-19 frontline workers and freed hostages in the grand setting of the White House (they did not wear masks and barely physically distanced).

    […]

    Trump Jr, who feeds off crowd adulation like his father, struggled to throw red meat to an empty room. He accused the left of trying to cancel the founding fathers, adding: Joe Biden and the radical left are also now coming for our freedom of speech and want to bully us into submission. If they get their way, it will no longer be the ‘silent majority’, it will be the ‘silenced majority’ — a comment met with deafening silence. [ROTFL]

    None of it was likely to win over wavering independents. This was a festival of fear aimed squarely at the base. It’s Trump’s party now: Republicans just happen to be living in it.

  2. says

    From today’s Guardian world liveblog:

    Former Formula 1 team boss and Italian businessman, Flavio Briatore, has been hospitalised, in Milan after contracting coronavirus.

    Briatore, owner of the Sardinian ‘Billlionaire’s’ nightclub, has been taken to the San Raffaele Hospital, in the Lombardy capital, and his condition is ‘serious’, according to the Italian magazine l’Espresso.
    Briatore has reportedly been admitted to hospital in Milan with coronavirus. Yhere has been no official statement from the hospital but multiple reports say Briatore’s condition is serious but he is not in intensive care.

    A few days ago, Briatore attacked the government which, in mid-August, introduced a new decree imposing the closure of all discos in Italy, due to the increase in new cases of Covid-19.

    “This new decree was written by a madman”, Briatore said.

    However, a few days later, over 50 people tested positive for Covid-19 at Billionaire’s, including Briatore.

    Meanwhile, former footballer and coach of the Seria A Bologna team, Sinisa Mihajlovic, has also tested positive. Mihahilovic had socialised with Briatore, in Sardinia, a few days before.

    On 12 August, Briatore met the former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, at his house, on the Costa Smeralda, in Sardinia. “I came to visit my friend, the President: I love him so much and find him in good shape. Bravo Silvio,” Briatore said in a short video posted on Instagram.

    I still can’t believe they opened discos.

  3. says

    “FDA Chief Admits He Overhyped Plasma Treatment Against COVID: ‘Criticism Is Entirely Justified’”:

    Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn conceded on Monday night that he had exaggerated the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy as treatment for COVID-19 the day before.

    “I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified,” Hahn tweeted. “What I should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction.”

    The official clarified that the agency’s emergency approval of the treatment “is not a final approval” and that FDA scientists will “continue to monitor its use and will revoke authorization if needed.”

    “We feel broader use of plasma will truly benefit many patients but will require further study,” he tweeted.

    Hahn also denied that the authorization, which had been touted by President Donald Trump in his desperate efforts to bolster his reelection chances, was motivated by politics even as Trump pressures the FDA to approve treatment by November.

    During a press briefing with Trump on Sunday, Hahn had heaped praise upon convalescent plasma therapy, claiming it had reduced the mortality rate among COVID-19 by as much as 35 percent.

    “We dream in drug development of something like a 35 percent mortality reduction,” the FDA official said. “This is a major advance in the treatment of patients. This is a major advance.”

    I was just overwhelmed by all of the irresponsible errors Hahn made in that presentation. It was like something Ben Goldacre would use to illustrate how not to interpret data.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 2

    None of it was likely to win over wavering independents.

    I don’t know. Never underestimate the fickle stupidity of the “independent” voter.

  5. says

    I’d love for people in the media to start asking Trumpublicans to describe specifically what they mean by “Western civilization,” “the values our country was founded on,” and the like.

  6. says

    SC @7, me too. Young conservative organizer Charlie Kirk called Trump the “bodyguard of Western civilization” battling “vengeful activists.” What “Western civilization”? That’s a racist dogwhistle.

    There was a lot more where that came from, including Representative Matt Gaetz saying that Democrats want to “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door. And the defunded police aren’t on their way.” Only Trump can protect you.

    It all sounded like a violent game was being played in which a weak, small-minded, posturing bully-boy named Trump had assumed an avatar that was the opposite of what he really is. All the other players pretended that Warrior Trump was real.

  7. says

    Nikki Haley was particularly good at presenting lies. During her speech at the Republican Convention she claimed that North Korea was no longer a problem, was no longer threatening anyone, (all thanks to Trump). That’s not true at all. How could she say all that with a straight face? It’s a mystery.

    Turning reality on its head.

  8. says

    Why would Trump praise a dictator to a freed hostage?

    No one on Team Trump thought it might be unwise to show a clip of Trump praising Erdogan to an American pastor who was unjustly imprisoned by Erdogan?

    In the United States, norms dictate that presidents don’t try to politicize freed hostages or the process in which they’re brought home. Of course, we’ve all come to learn how much use Donald Trump has for norms.

    With this in mind, the first night of the Republican National Convention featured a first-of-its-kind video: a sitting American president, hanging out in the White House with freed hostages as part of a roundtable chat. The clip was then added to the convention presentation as a way for Trump to pat himself on the back.

    But it included a strange moment that stood out for a reason.

    In a recorded segment at Monday night’s RNC, […] Trump praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while speaking with rescued American hostages, including Andrew Brunson, a pastor who was detained in Turkey — by Erdogan — several years. “I have to say, to me, President Erdogan was very good,” Trump said at a meeting with hostages released under his administration.

    Well, no, the point is that Erdogan wasn’t very good. In this case, Trump was talking directly to an American who’d been unnecessarily detained for two years by Erdogan — which as even Trump should know, is the opposite of being “very good.”

    Part of the problem, of course, is that [Trump] has an unnerving fondness for authoritarian leaders. Another aspect of this is the fact that Trump seems to have a special affinity for Erdogan in particular, calling the Turkish leader a “great ally,” a “strong man,” and saying he’s a “big fan” of Erdogan.

    […] it was just last fall when Trump cleared the way for a Turkish military offensive against our Kurdish allies, having reached a “deal” with Turkey in which Erdogan got everything he wanted, including gushing praise from the American president.

    But there was just one other nagging detail that stood out for me: why didn’t Team Trump edit this out? The video that aired during the convention last night wasn’t live; it was filmed and then added to the party’s broadcast.

    Neither the president nor any of his aides thought it might not be wise to show a clip of Trump praising Erdogan to an American pastor who was unjustly imprisoned by Erdogan?

  9. says

    Rep. Malinowski:

    Today, I’m introducing a bipartisan resolution with @RepRiggleman condemning QAnon.

    Our aim is a fully bipartisan Congressional repudiation of this dangerous, anti-Semitic, conspiracy-mongering cult that the FBI says is radicalizing Americans to violence.

  10. says

    If the case for Trump is strong, why isn’t the truth good enough?

    Deceptions are necessary to prevent Trump’s defeat.

    To hear Republicans tell it, the 2020 presidential election is effectively a no-brainer: Donald Trump has been a great success, the argument goes, and Joe Biden is a failure pushing ideas that would take the country backward. The choice, from a GOP perspective, couldn’t be clearer.

    Of course, if this were accurate, all Republicans would need to do is tell the public the truth. There’d be no need to mislead anyone, since the facts would serve as a boon to the incumbent president and his party, and prove devastating to his Democratic rivals.

    And yet, on the first night of the Republican National Convention, the party made one thing painfully clear: the truth would not be good enough. The New York Times reported overnight:

    President Trump and his political allies mounted a fierce and misleading defense of his political record on the first night of the Republican convention on Monday, while unleashing a barrage of attacks on Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Democratic Party that were unrelenting in their bleakness…. At times, the speakers and prerecorded videos appeared to be describing an alternate reality….

    The exasperated tone of leading fact-checkers helps capture the scope of the problem. A Washington Post report, for example, explained that the first night of the convention featured “a fire hose of false or misleading” claims. CNN’s Daniel Dale described the evening as “a parade of dishonesty,” adding, “We had false claims. We had misleading claims. We had major strategic omissions. We had up-is-down revisionist history on the coronavirus and other matters. I think it veered at times into the realm of disinformation even more than mere dishonesty.”

    It’s unrealistic to think I could highlight every uttered falsehood in a single blog post, and there are plenty of detailed fact-check reports available from major news organizations, including a gem from NBC News. That said, among the most glaring claims came from several Republicans who insisted that Joe Biden supports defunding the police (that’s the opposite of the truth); the idea that Donald Trump is an opponent of “cancel culture” (he actually loves “cancel culture,” as evidenced by his Goodyear boycott); and repeated claims that Trump is responsible for having created the strongest economy in U.S. history, which is obviously ridiculous now, and wasn’t even true before the coronavirus pandemic.

    I also found it extraordinary when Donald Trump Jr. said Biden described riots as “peaceful protests” (that never happened), when Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said the 2017 GOP tax gambit increased government revenue (it didn’t), and when former Ambassador Nikki Haley insisted that Trump rejected “weakness” toward North Korea (Trump actually said he “fell in love” with Kim Jong-un).

    And I could hardly believe my eyes when Georgia’s Vernon Jones said with a straight face that Trump “ended, once and for all, the policy of mass incarceration of Black people.”

    Perhaps most importantly, Trump Jr. told the public that as the coronavirus “began to spread, the president acted quickly and ensured ventilators got to hospitals that needed them most.” He claimed that his father “delivered PP&E to our brave front-line workers” and that “he rallied the mighty American private sector to tackle this new challenge.”

    Putting aside the fact that he added an unnecessary “and” to “PPE,” the truth is that providing medical teams with this equipment has been a problem from the outset — a problem that still hasn’t gone away — which the president and his team hasn’t come close to addressing well.

    But as important as the individual falsehoods are, there’s a larger arc that voters should recognize: every lie was a subtle concession that the truth about Trump and Biden isn’t good enough. The more Republicans found it necessary to mislead, the more they implicitly acknowledged that deceptions are necessary to prevent the president’s defeat.

  11. says

    Fascism: Republicans declare their only policy stance to be ‘strong support’ for Donald Trump

    The news that the Republican National Committee no longer intends to write a policy platform, as in at all, is not surprising. […] would have required a Republican convention committee to determine just what the party actually stood for in the year 2020, and there was not a chance in hell that was going to happen.

    It is literally impossible for the party to write down, on paper, a list of policy stances it intends to take when each and every stance might be summarily erased by the buffoonish Donald Trump declaring on camera that actually he strongly believes the opposite thing—upon which declaration Republican lawmakers will immediately fall in line to declare that they, too, support the new thing and not the old thing. It would be a recipe for future humiliation, nothing more.

    It only stands to reason, then, that the party would choose to abandon policy stances to instead declare that they are now officially for Whatever Donald Trump Says On Any Given Day.

    The official Republican reason for abandoning the party platform is that the pandemic, which Donald Trump is handling just fine thank you very much, has made such a clusterfuck out of the nation that they could not manage to gather more than a “small contingent of delegates” to debate the platform. Now, one might think that with maaaany months of preparation available beforehand […] that there would be a means by which delegates could meet and discuss a new proposed platform using some of this newfangled technology we keep hearing about these days, but no. That would require some bare minimum level of competence […]

    If Trump couldn’t handle any pandemic preparation beyond “have Jared Kushner do it, then give up after Kushner screws it up,” was there even the slightest chance the Republican Party as a whole could manage a pandemic Zoom meeting? […]

    “WHEREAS, The RNC enthusiastically supports President Trump,” declares the party, “RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.” And that’s it. That’s the only policy stance. […] that is a statement Dear Leader’s least significant toadies can make without having to bother with debating it.

    […] Policy stances hard. Praising Dear Leader easy. […]

    It’s a political cartoon come to life […]

    Republicanism has had a great many heroes, and tends to worship anyone who can string three words together in service of thinly veiled greed or racism (see: Reagan, both counts), but the idea of the party going all-in for the Trump Steaks guy, as advised by the My Pillow guy, as also advised by everyone who never saw the last major recession coming, and only getting more vigorous in their praise as a literal pandemic tears through the nation as direct result of Dear Leader’s bungling—I mean, come on.

    The fealty isn’t funny, though, because it is a genuine threat. The fealty has included the United States Senate blocking investigations into some criminal acts and abetting others. It includes the Department of Justice doing the same, and making no particular effort to hide that it is doing so. It includes having trade wars on a whim, insulting allies for a momentary thrill, and systemically undermining the free press day in and day out in an effort to damage the ability of the public to even differentiate between fact and convenient fiction. The fealty has, now, a running death count.

    […] The extent to which the convention is a haphazard wreck is already evident from Trump’s first-day takeover and ramblefest, premised on no greater strategy than he felt like it. But the internal destruction of the party of greed and racism isn’t even something that its enemies can celebrate, because they managed to glide effortlessly into the only agenda that would be worse.

  12. tomh says

    Trump says he’ll nominate Chad Wolf to be DHS secretary

    President Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he will nominate acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to be the permanent head of the agency.

    It’s been more than 500 days since a Senate-confirmed secretary led the Department of Homeland Security — a record for any administration.

    Wolf himself has served in an acting role since November 2019.

    Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office found that Wolf and his acting deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their position because they did not follow federal law governing how certain leadership vacancies can be filled.

  13. says

    In a convention where a genuine fact might die of loneliness, the biggest lies are all about COVID-19. That’s quite a claim at an event where a parade of wealthy Republicans is taking the stand to claim different varieties of victimhood, and where speakers are painting a vision of what will happen when Trump departs the White House that would make Hieronymus Bosch run screaming. However, while lying about the economy is bad, and lying about Donald Trump being a “uniter” is simply ridiculous, lying about how we ended up as the worst of the worst when it comes to reacting to COVID-19 is dangerous.

    It’s dangerous not just because Trump continues to promote quack “cures,” continues to override experts on both policy and treatment, and continues to undercut the need for action. It’s dangerous because the way the RNC is presenting Trump as someone who “understood the threat” while Democrats and the media “downplayed the danger” is such an obvious 180-degree inversion of reality that just presenting it displays an amazing contempt for facts, science, and history that isn’t even history yet. It’s not just that Donald Trump is covering up failure. He’s covering up genocide.

    […] Far from taking COVID-19 seriously, Trump was playing golf, making flu jokes with Sean Hannity, and generally basking in the warm afterglow of Republicans handing him a free pass by not calling so much as a single witness to his impeachment hearing.

    […]t Trump showed up in the (then unmutilated) Rose Garden with an array of Big-Box CEOs to announce a national testing strategy that would involve tens of thousands of parking lot testing centers coordinated by a website to route patients and provide results. The website was a lie. Those centers never appeared. And it wasn’t until July that we learned that Trump killed the whole idea of having coordinated testing as attempted genocide against states governed by Democrats. […] let citizens of Blue states simply die.

    It wasn’t difficult to see the impact that a national program of testing and case tracing could have. Not only did South Korea use that strategy to wrangle an early epidemic there into one of the great success stories of the pandemic, but even nations as hard hit as Italy were able to use testing in conjunction with a tough national lockdown to stop the virus in its tracks. At one point, Italy had far more cases and far more deaths than the United States. Now it has a fraction of either, and the rate of new cases there is lower than many individual states.

    Donald Trump’s response to COVID-19 wasn’t just the worst on the planet. It wasn’t just malignant incompetence. It was intentionally bad. Trump did less than he could have done on purpose, in the hopes that he could make political gains by pointing fingers at Democratic governors as Americans died. […] refused to centralize purchases of protective gear and medications, and actually confiscated materials purchased by blue states to send to his favored red states.

    […] It’s been murder. It’s been deliberate. It’s been death-as-a-political-strategy. And now the Trump convention is running film clips from Thailand as part of a propaganda piece claiming it was Trump who took the virus seriously, Trump who took action […]

    This level of propaganda might not quite match that of the Nazis … but it’s getting damn close. Not only should Trump’s actions in canceling a national testing strategy be the subject of a second impeachment, they are crimes against humanity deserving of a trial before the world. […]

    Link

  14. says

    From the Trumpublican resolution quoted in Lynna’s #17 above:

    RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.

    This is a minor point in my criticism of the disgrace that is this document, but it is one of my biggest pet peeves and I see it almost every day. “The Republican Party has support the President’s…” is wrong, so they can’t use this construction. They would need to say “the Republican Party has supported and will continue to enthusiastically support…”

  15. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 12

    You do know what’s going to happen? The Republicans will starting screaming and bellyaching “What about Antifa!” as if anti-fascist activists and right-wing conspiracy kooks were somehow comparable.

  16. says

    The Hill – “LeBron James speaks out over Jacob Blake shooting: ‘We are scared as Black people in America'”:

    NBA star LeBron James is speaking out about the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, saying Black people in the United States are “terrified.”

    “It’s just quite frankly f—ed up in our community,” James, who has been outspoken about racial injustice and police brutality, said during a news conference following the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff win over the Portland Trail Blazers late Monday. “I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as Black people in America. Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified.”

    Speaking a day after the incident, James expressed frustration over the officer’s use of a firearm, saying officers could have tackled or grabbed Blake.

    “If you’re sitting here and telling me that there was no way to subdue that gentleman or detain him, before the firing of guns, then you’re sitting here and you’re not only lying to me, but you’re lying to every African American, every Black person in the community, because we see it over and over,” James said.

    “Why does it always have to get to a point where we see the guns firing?” he asked. “His family is there, his kids are there, it’s in broad daylight.”

    James has repeatedly decried police violence and other racial justice issues during his NBA career….

    In recent months, James has been vocal about the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor….

    James helped create the group More Than a Vote earlier this summer, which he said is designed to motivate Black people to use their voice and cast their ballots this year.

    “Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James told The New York Times at the time. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”

  17. blf says

    This rat has (presumably) just realised that jumping from the ship dries up the income, and hence is trying to climb back aboard, Jerry Falwell Jr resigns from Liberty University but then backtracks:

    […]
    Jerry Falwell Jr, an evangelical leader whose endorsement helped power Donald Trump to the White House but who is now embroiled in a sex scandal involving his wife and a business partner, agreed to resign as head of Liberty University on Monday. But he then withdrew his resignation, the school said.

    The statement from the Lynchburg, Virginia, school, where Falwell has been president for more than a decade, capped a day of back-and-forth reports.

    Politico quoted Falwell as saying I have not resigned, in response to reports in the Washington Post and other media that he had. ABC News and the Wall Street Journal also reported Falwell told them he had submitted his resignation.

    [… lots of backstory…]

    Nothing(?) about why teh rat is now trying to climb back aboard.

  18. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Brazilian senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the eldest son of president Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a statement by Flavio’s spokesman.

    Flavio has no symptoms of Covid-19 and is at home, it said, adding he has started taking chloroquine and azithromycin as part of a treatment against the virus.

    President Bolsonaro is a big supporter of chloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, despite the lack of solid evidence it works against the disease. [There is solid evidence that it does NOT work against the disease and can be dangerous. – SC]

    Bolsonaro himself caught the virus earlier, as well as his wife Michelle Bolsonaro and his youngest son, Jair Renan.

    Flavio Bolsonaro is the subject of multiple investigations. He’s 39. Bolsonaro’s wife’s grandmother died from the coronavirus recently.

  19. tomh says

    @ #24
    Lebron also said, “Guns are a huge issue in America. They’re not just used for hunting, like a lot of people do for sport. For Black people right now, when you’re hunting, we think you’re hunting us.”

  20. says

    “#Belarus. On this day in 1991, independence of Belarus was restored – the declaration of sovereignty of Belarus was given the constitutional status. Several thousands gathered outside the parliament again. This time, I’d call it not a protest, but celebration of independence

    And so they came out again. The people are chanting ‘Long Live Belarus!’ Your everyday dose of Belarusians self-organising on the #Minsk streets”

  21. blf says

    Applause! Africa declared free of wild polio after decades of work:

    Achievement comes following Nigeria vaccination drive, with last cases of wild virus recorded four years ago

    […]

    Four years after the last recorded cases of wild polio in northern Nigeria, the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) on Tuesday certified that the continent is now free of the virus, which can cause irreversible paralysis and in some cases death.

    The achievement is the result of a campaign to vaccinate and monitor children in Borno State, the final front of polio eradication efforts on the continent, and the heart of the jihadist insurgency in Nigeria.

    […]

    The WHO, she said, had played a central coordinating role within the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — a coalition of national governments and local leaders working with Unicef, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with millions of community volunteers across the continent.

    Improved surveillance, tackling violent levels of vaccine scepticism that fuelled deadly attacks on health workers, and the inclusion of polio survivors within eradication teams were key factors in wiping out the virus, said [WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso] Moeti.

    “I would really like to pay tribute to polio survivors, who have joined in the fight, who have helped in sharing their experiences of disability with polio and the impact this has had on their lives,” she said.

    In 1996, 75,000 children in Africa were paralysed by polio.

    The fight now is to improve the lives of survivors, said Moeti.

    […]

    Despite the progress, however, 16 countries in the region are currently experiencing small outbreaks of vaccine-derived polio, which can occur among underimmunised communities.

    […]

    At least 67 frontline health workers involved in polio eradication efforts in the region have been killed, with others attacked and abducted. Several violent incidents were spurred by a rejection of vaccinations by local communities, said Dr Tunji Funsho, head of Rotary International’s Nigeria polio committee.

    [… A] big effort to appeal to political, community and religious leaders, along with public campaigns and town hall meetings began a gradual turnaround.

    In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari was televised personally administering oral vaccine drops to one of his grandchildren.

    […]

    The increased involvement of polio survivors over the past decade was crucial to addressing the concerns from local communities, said Lawan Didi, who was diagnosed with polio when he was two. “People saw us, and communicated with us. We could explain to them this is not a spiritual thing, but can be prevented with vaccines. It gave them a change of heart.”

    This means wild polio now only exists in Afghanistan and Pakistan (confirmed by the BBC, Africa declared free of wild polio in ‘milestone’, which has additional details).

  22. blf says

    Update to @25, and teh rat has jumped ship (again?) — this is a later report, dated less than an hour ago (as I type this) — Jerry Falwell Jr confirms he has resigned from Liberty University:

    […] Jerry Falwell Jr confirmed on Tuesday he has resigned as president of Liberty University, news outlets including the Washington Post reported.

    […]

    A reporter for the News & Advance, a Lynchburg [Virginia] paper, quoted Falwell as saying: It’s a relief. The quote that keeps going through my mind this morning is Martin Luther Ling Jr: ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.

    Falwell agreed to resign on Monday but then withdrew his resignation, the school said late that night, capping a day of back-and-forth reports.

    […]

  23. says

    Geoff Bennett:

    NEWS: A postal employee provides NBC News with exclusive images of dismantled mail sorting machines in a Dallas facility. Workers attempted to repair and reinstall them but found critical parts were trashed.

    These bar code sorters process letter mail, including ballots.

    Yared Wonde, president of the Dallas postal workers union, tells us the sorting machines were in working condition at the time of their removal in July and that workers have “been told not to put it back in operation.” He says they will likely be sold for scrap metal.

    At Monday’s #USPSHearing, Rep. @DWStweets asked DeJoy if he would authorize postal plant managers to turn sorting machines back on if local officials deemed it necessary.

    Rep. DWS: “Those things are decided locally. Will you let them decide that locally?”

    DeJoy: “No.”

    (As an aside, Bennett has really come into his own, as have Jacob Soboroff, Julia Ainsley, and Heidi Przybyla, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some others.)

  24. blf says

    California: popular ski resort to remove racist term from its name:

    Decision to rename Squaw Valley ski resort reached after consulting with Native American groups and research on the term

    […]

    The decision was reached after consulting with local Native American groups and extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw”, said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

    Regional California tribes had long asked for the name of the resort to be changed, up until now with little success.

    The word “squaw”, derived from the Algonquin language, may have once simply meant “woman”, but over generations, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage indigenous women.

    When settlers arrived in the 1850s in the area where the Sierra Nevada resort is now located, they first saw only Native American women working in a meadow. The land near Lake Tahoe was believed to have been given the name Squaw Valley by those early settlers.

    “While we love our local history and the memories we all associate with this place as it has been named for so long, we are confronted with the overwhelming evidence that the term ‘squaw’ is considered offensive,” Cohen said.

    Work to find a new name for the site […] will start immediately and is expected to be announced next year, Cohen added.

  25. says

    Quoted in blf’s #31:

    A reporter for the News & Advance, a Lynchburg [Virginia] paper, quoted Falwell as saying: “It’s a relief. The quote that keeps going through my mind this morning is Martin Luther Ling Jr: ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.”

    Well, that’s aggressively offensive.

    I honestly think he believed he was entitled to retain his position and all its perks at the school (where students aren’t allowed to watch R-rated movies) and still maintain his lifestyle, even brazenly combining the two. He’s thoroughly aggrieved that they put a stop to it.

  26. says

    blf @ 30, thanks for posting that.

    I didn’t know this:

    At least 67 frontline health workers involved in polio eradication efforts in the region have been killed, with others attacked and abducted. Several violent incidents were spurred by a rejection of vaccinations by local communities […]

  27. blf says

    Van teh Mence is ranting woo-woo, Van Morrison blasts Covid gig limits as pseudoscience:

    […]
    The 74-year-old Northern Irish singer launched a campaign to save live music on his website, saying socially distanced gigs were not economically viable. I call on my fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters and others in the industry to fight with me on this. Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up, he said.

    [… He asserted] Andrew Lloyd Webber appeared to be the only other person in the music business trying to get it back up and running.

    Mr Webber, however, is not ranting about pseudoscience, ‘Made it back!’: Lloyd Webber unveils safety measures at London Palladium (“Theatre reopens at 30% capacity for Beverley Knight performance to showcase stringent hygiene methods”).

    Back to Van teh Massacre:

    […]
    No prominent artists or musicians have publicly backed his call to lift restrictions on concerts, which he posted last Friday. […]

    On the singer’s Facebook page, self-professed Morrison fans gave a largely scathing response to his appeal for full-capacity audiences. “This is madness. The science is real,” said one. “We love you, Van, but calling pandemic management protocols pseudo-science is probably the dumbest and certainly the most dangerous idea you’ve ever put your name to,” wrote another.

    […]

    Until now, the most prominent Irish musician to challenge coronavirus rules was Jim Corr of the Corrs. He joined hundreds of people in a protest against lockdowns and masks in Dublin last Saturday. He became engaged in a social media spat with the Irish singing duo Jedward after they mocked him on Twitter as a “covidiot”.

    Sinead O’Connor & others have also told Jim Corr he’s an eejit. Mr Corr is apparently also an anti-vaxxer and all-around nutter, ‘You need to get a life’: Sinead O’Connor joins Jedward in destroying Jim Corr over anti-lockdown protest:

    [… He] has become known more as a conspiracy theorist than a musician in recent years, claiming that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job and coming out in support of the anti-vaxx movement.

    His latest crusade is that coronavirus is a hoax and has been exaggerated, and has been urging people to watch a documentary [sic] called Plandemic, which shares widely debunked conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic.

    […]

    The [anti-mask] protest in Dublin […] was attended by hundreds, and heard speakers claim that there was no evidence masks protected people from coronavirus and that the Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland were unconstitutional and unnecessary.

    New measures introduced last week in Ireland have limited indoor gatherings to six people and outdoor gatherings to 15, while Kildare has reverted into lockdown after an increase in cases.

    There have been over 27,900 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, with 1,777 deaths.

    Van teh Murderer has been preforming since the 1960s and has a string of prestigious awards. He is estimated to be “worth” multiple tens of millions of USD. He is often described as not a very nice person (No guru, no method, no manners) — “Scrooge”, “shite”, and similar are frequently(?) used.

  28. says

    SC @32, yes, Geoff Bennett is nailing this. His dogged pursuit of the Postal Service story is partially responsible for putting DeJoy in the hot seat, and for revealing lies coming from the Trump administration.

    The parts of the sorting machines that were trashed beyond repair were the barcode readers. I’m hoping that some tech-savvy company offers to fix them.

  29. says

    TPM – “Falwell ‘Free At Last’ As Endless Questions Linger Over Peccadilloes, Politicos”:

    …But in many ways, Falwell’s departure from Liberty only accentuates the long-lingering questions around his behavior.

    Take the mystery around the role of former personal attorney to President Trump Michael Cohen.

    Cohen appeared in the scandal last year, recorded telling actor Tom Arnold that he had helped resolve a situation around supposedly racy photographs of Falwell’s wife, Becki.

    That revelation came amid lingering questions over Falwell’s support for President Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, which helped the New York City real estate developer appeal to the evangelicals that would go on to form part of the Republican base. The question since has been whether Cohen’s help for Falwell in destroying the racy photos was somehow linked to the longtime Liberty University president’s endorsement.

    But Politico reported on Monday night that Granda knows more about Cohen’s involvement.

    After a lawsuit was filed against the Falwells in 2014 over a real estate deal gone bad, Granda said that Becki Falwell believed Cohen would “take care of those guys that are suing us.”

    “Those guys,” Granda told Politico, were the ones who had the compromising photos.

    “Michael is well-connected in Miami. He will get this buried and will make those photos go away,” Granda reportedly recalled Becki Falwell saying.

    That conversation came months before Falwell offered to buy Granda out of his stake in the same real estate deal, telling him in May 2015 that Donald Trump was planning a presidential campaign.

    Granda told Politico that he believed the events were connected, and that Falwell sought to cut ties with the pool boy before taking on a bigger role in the national political scene.

    Jerry Falwell has denied Granda’s allegations, saying that the pool boy had an affair with his wife but that he was uninvolved. Falwell has also accused Granda of using the information to extort him, a charge that Granda denies.

    A person close to Falwell, however, did tell the New York Times last year that Falwell decided to support Trump after consulting “with other individuals whose opinions he respects.”

    At that point, Falwell was denying the existence of the photographs, and the person close to the Falwells told the New York Times that they knew nothing of “Cohen’s alleged efforts.”…

  30. says

    More commentary on the Republican National Prevarication show:

    As expected, the Republican version of “optimism” turned out to be apocalyptic ravings about the inevitable destruction of America, many of them at a volume that appeared not to recognize the existence of microphones. Highlights, if that’s the right word, included Donald Trump Jr. sweating his way through a addled presentation that left “cocaine” trending on Twitter, Kimberly Guilfoyle waving her arms during a high volume frenzy … something, and gun-waving “Karen” Patricia McCloskey warning that Democrats would “abolish suburbs.”

    Though Trump had made a point of sneering at the use of recorded speeches at the Democratic convention, all of the above were also pre-taped. That includes Guilfoyle screaming at an empty room and Trump Jr. appearing to deliver a speech from Mt. Baked. Proof that Trump’s convention was stitched together in such a hurry, or with such little concern, that no one ever thought to say “great, now let’s do it again, but without making it seem like you’re summoning Cthulhu.” But if there was any real uniting theme for the convention of what the GOP is it was this: Lying our ass off for Trump.

    […] They hit both of the main categories of lies—both omission and commission. […] the economy actually grew more slowly under Trump than under Obama. […] the nation was already moving toward recession before the pandemic struck. Absolutely no one mentioned that Trump had also set the record for all-time high unemployment dating back to when the statistics began in the Great Depression. […]

    Most amazingly, yet another canned video attempted to present Trump as the “decisive leader” who made the tough decisions on COVID-19 while Democratic leaders “got it wrong.” Coming straight from Upsidedownsia, the video made it Democrats and news outlets who “downplayed” the surging pandemic, while Trump was the guy who stepped into the breach. Somehow, the video left out the fact that Trump had golfed his way through January, and February, and into March before seeming to realize that a disease threatening the death of millions might be something about which he was supposed to express a modicum of concern. The video surprisingly left out Trump repeatedly describing coronavirus as nothing more than the flu, support for quack cures, attacks on governors who attempted to save their citizens, threats to withhold drugs and equipment from Democratic states, and unending claims that the virus would just “go away … like magic.” The video did make sure to include Trump calling COVID-19 the “China Virus.”

    […] There was a parade of Republicans who presented themselves as victims in one way or another, screaming about how Trump’s short-finger in the dike was the only thing holding back the horde. There was all the dog-whistling about suburbia that Trump feels will net him women who secretly (or not so secretly) are still concerned about the idea of keeping their neighborhoods snow white. There was a speech claiming that “bitter, deceitful, vengeful activists” are “locking up pastors,” which is quite a trick. [WTF!?]

    And on COVID-19, there was the concerted effort to prove that Trump was never wrong—even when his error is visible in the form of 175,000 dead and counting.

    Link

    The number of COVID-19 deaths in the USA is now more than 178,000. The number rises so quickly ….

  31. says

    Ben Collins re #12 above:

    This should create a pretty good barometer for which congresspeople believe they need Q support in the future.

    It will also be immediately be followed by the What About Antifa Act, but that’s to be expected.

    That [the Ilhan Omar tweet] was fast.

    Can’t stress enough how flagrantly antisemitic QAnon is, by the way. There are the common tropes, like repeatedly insisting the Rothschilds run the world, the persistent blood libel references, the idea the Pope is run by Jewish world leaders.

    But there’s also stuff like this….

    Image atl.

  32. blf says

    Lynna@42 quotes (about the thugs’s ongoing covidkookathon), “There was a speech claiming that bitter, deceitful, vengeful activists are locking up pastors, which is quite a trick.”

    I haven’t tried to track it down, but there is a possibility a meme to that effect is circulating in the kooksphere. One reason for suspecting so is Black Lives Matter at odds with my religious beliefs, says Billy Vunipola. Mr Vunipola, a talented Rugby player in the UK of Tonga ancestry, is a magic sky faerie fundamentalist and known to be anti-LGBT, and is quoted in that article as saying [BLM] were burning churches and Bibles. I can’t support that. Even though I am a person of colour, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus.

    I am unawares of any genuine BLM protestors attacking any religious, well, anything… The closest might be a small fire near(? at?) the church around the time hair furor used teh gestapo to clear a path through DC so he could pose holding that book (allegedly upside down, as I recall) at that church. Mr Vunipola is either making things up, or there is something going around teh nutter’s echo chambers to the effect that (BLM) protestors are attacking religious whatevers.

  33. says

    Trump’s plan to ‘terminate’ payroll taxes would ‘terminate’ Social Security by 2023.”

    The payroll tax termination is just about the only policy issue that made an appearance at the Trumpian Prevarication Show. Donald Junior brought it up.

    Joan McCarter analyzed this issue, and the inevitable effects if Trump carries out this plan.

    The chief actuary for Social Security has grim news for Trump supporters on Social Security: There wouldn’t be any more of it before his second term ended if he gets his way on the payroll tax. His plan to eliminate payroll taxes would deplete the Social Security Trust Fund by 2023, “with no ability to pay benefits thereafter.” That’s the “Old Age and Survivors Insurance” portion of the fund. The Disability Insurance Trust Fund would be gone next year.

    […] This is what would happen in Trump’s plan to “terminate” payroll taxes permanently in his second term. Trump announced this plan when he signed his executive order to allow employers to suspend taking payroll taxes out of employees’ pay. That order was so poorly conceived and executed that employers are having a hard time figuring out whether or not to do it, […]

    CNBC reports: “Payroll companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business associations say it would be difficult to implement the deferral. They’re concerned about the liability employers and employees may face.” […] Legislation could create some kind of funding stream for the programs, but that part of it clearly hasn’t been figured out by team Trump, which hasn’t even figured out how to explain what Trump actually means when he says “terminate” the payroll tax.

    Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, makes a key point. While analysis is based on hypothetical legislation that would do what Trump says he wants to do, which is get rid of the payroll tax, “in fact, Trump is claiming the authority to defund Social Security with no action from Congress whatsoever.” Trump is exerting the power, and believes he has the power, to do this on his own.

    […] “The law permits deferral for up to a year,” Altman explains, “long enough to defund and destroy Social Security disability insurance. If he declared additional emergencies through 2023, he could, on his own, end all of Social Security.”

    Given Trump’s willingness to destroy the U.S. Postal Service, an institution that predates the Constitution and even predates American independence, he’s not going to hold Social Security sacred. He holds nothing sacred—not even human life, as his response to the pandemic has made abundantly clear.

    So when the chief actuary of Social Security tells us that Social Security would be dead and gone before the end of Trump’s second term, it’s not alarmist. It’s a statement of fact.

    Link

  34. says

    blf @45, I think you are right. I have seen that small fire, which was quickly extinguished, blown out of proportion in a lot of rightwing media outlets, and on rightwing online forums. They did the same thing with what was basically a trash receptacle fire in Portland: the claim is now that radical activists burned down a church in Washington DC; and that they burned down a federal building in Portland.

    In more RNC news, Madison Pauly commented on Trump’s appearance in pre-taped video last night:

    […] Trump doubled down on xenophobia and misinformation about the coronavirus during his first appearance during the Monday night broadcast of the Republican National Convention. During the short, stilted interaction filmed at the White House, Trump, surrounded by seven unmasked people with their hands clasped in front of them, attempted to talk to ordinary people.

    “These are my friends,” he said, as one does. “These are the incredible workers who helped us so much with the COVID.”

    He then asked asking the group to tell “their stories,” which mainly meant listing their professions: postal worker, post office custodian, nurse.

    “How about you?” he said, turning to a goateed man.

    “I’m a trucker.”

    “Good!” the president exclaimed.

    Throughout the appearance, Trump referred to the coronavirus using a racist term: “We can call it many different things, from China virus, I don’t want to go through all the different names, because some people might get insulted, but that’s the way it is.”

    After a registered nurse thanked Trump for his leadership and added, unironically, that she admired him for “not [being] offended by all the words being said” about his coronavirus response, Trump replied “I’m for the nurses, I’m for the doctors, I’m for everybody—we just have to make this China virus go away, and it’s happening.” More than 177,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19 so far, and the number of new deaths per day are still climbing in some places.

    When a sheriff’s deputy who works in a California jail mentioned he had recovered from COVID-19, Trump asked what had been done for him.

    “They gave me Zpacks, medication, cough syrup,” the deputy replied.

    “And I won’t even ask you about the hydroxychloroquine—it’s a shame what they’ve done to that one—but I took it. I took the z pack also. And zinc!” the president replies.

    Link

    What does Trump mean? “See, we are all ignorant and gullible. MAGA!”

  35. says

    Well, this will certainly hit Trump where it hurts: “GOP convention’s first night draws fewer viewers than Democratic kickoff.” TV ratings are one of the few things Trump understands.

    The Republican National Convention averaged 15.9 million viewers on its opening night, falling short of the 18.7 million who tuned in for the beginning of last week’s Democratic convention, according to Nielsen Media Research figures released Tuesday. […]

    However, Fox News racked up more viewers than CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC combined. So, I guess Trump’s base of cult members watched.

  36. says

    AOC commented on Guilfoyle’s performance:

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday panned Kimberly Guilfoyle, the Republican National Convention speaker who on Monday implied her Puerto Rican mother was an immigrant.

    “The woman the GOP picked as their ‘proud’ Latina to tout ‘immigrant experience’ didn’t seem to know that Puerto Rico is already part of the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.

    In her speech Monday, Guilfoyle called herself a first-generation American, referencing her parents’ places of origin.

    “My mother Mercedes was a special education teacher from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. My father, also an immigrant, came to this nation in pursuit of the American dream,” said Guilfoyle.

    The comment was poorly received among many Puerto Ricans and mainland residents of Puerto Rican origin, as the territory’s inhabitants are U.S. citizens.

    Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory after the 1898 Spanish-American War; its residents have been U.S. citizens since 1917. […]

    Link

  37. says

    A good summary of DeJoy’s testimony in the House of Congress, when he was questioned about the Postal Service:

    In several instances, he blamed middle management for changes that happened under his watch — or for taking steps he didn’t even know about.

    Washington Post link

    DeJoy claimed he didn’t know about some steps taken by middle management, but I think he did know … or he should have known. Some of those steps were taken as part of middle management’s efforts to follow his directives.

    So, DeJoy is ignorant, incompetent, and probably a liar as well. All the best people.

  38. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Boris Johnson drops advice against face mask use in English schools

    Pupils in England will no longer be advised against using face masks in schools after prime minister Boris Johnson made an 11th-hour U-turn days before students head back to the classroom.

    In lockdown areas such as Greater Manchester, which have greater restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, wearing face coverings will become mandatory in school corridors where social distancing is more difficult.

    In areas of England not subject to tighter restrictions, headteachers will have discretion over whether to require face masks, but the government will no longer advise against their use, a senior government source said.

    The prime minister bowed to pressure and changed the guidance late on Tuesday after scores of headteachers broke ranks to urge their use, backed by Labour and trade unions.

    Johnson told reporters earlier in the day he would “look at the changing medical evidence as we go on” but insisted schools would be safe regardless.

    Yes, this was literally a change from this morning.

  39. blf says

    Lynna@50, I cannot recall, but it would not surprise me if hair furor does not know (or has forgotten (again?)) Puerto Ricans are States citizens — and the on-going thugs’s covidkookthron is all about him… So I’m not too surprised the other speakersbellowers are “toeing the line”, so to speak, of his fantasies. Hence, perhaps, Guilfoyle insults & seeming-confusion.

  40. says

    Former Trump aide says president offered pardons to officials to break laws.

    Washington Post link

    Trump has repeatedly denied reports that he offered senior aides pardons to stop undocumented immigrants from coming into the United States or to expedite construction of a border wall.

    But a former top official at the Department of Homeland Security — who has become a Trump critic trying to derail his reelection — says Trump did offer pardons to immigration officials in a new advertisement designed to offer counter-messaging to the Republican National Convention.

    “It was April of 2019. We were down at the border, and the president said to the senior leadership of the Homeland Security Department behind the scenes we should not let anyone else into the United States,” Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at DHS, said. “Even though he’d been told on repeated occasions that the way he wanted to do it was illegal, his response was to say, do it. If you get in trouble, I’ll pardon you.”

    […] “The president offered to pardon U.S. government officials for breaking the law to implement his immigration policy,” Taylor said in the new ad.

    […] The president has said he does not know Taylor, who was in a number of Oval Office meetings, according to other officials. Other administration officials said the president’s offer caused a ruckus at the time even as the president denied the story […]

    “Another Fake Story on @NBCNews that I offered Pardons to Homeland Securiy personnel in case they broke the law regarding illegal immigration and sanctuary cities. Of course this is not true. Mainstream Media is corrupt and getting worse, if that is possible, every day!” Trump wrote at the time.

    Taylor is seeking to recruit other former Trump administration officials to come forward and tell damaging stories about the president and campaign against him. One of Taylor’s goals is to win over swing voters by telling in-the-room stories about the president, hoping that will be more effective than aggressive invective.

    He has launched a site called Repair45.org and says he has current administration officials helping him, though he declined to name them. A number of former Trump administration officials hold dim views of the president, but most of them have not come forward publicly.

  41. says

    Oh, FFS. I wish this were not true.

    For months, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s foremost demand in coronavirus relief, one of his hostage demands, has been lifting the threat of liability for schools and businesses when they put people in danger of coronavirus infection. It’s also been clear for months that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had this at the top of their wish list.

    It turns out they didn’t just tell McConnell what they wanted, they handed him the draft bill for it […] the Chamber’s “Institute for Legal Reform wrote draft legislation designed to shield companies from liability related to the pandemic and distributed it to state and federal lawmakers, according to a top executive.” […] undoubtedly inspired McConnell’s rhetoric that there will be an “epidemic of lawsuits” in the wake of the pandemic, an assertion that so far has no basis in reality.

    On the broadcast teleconference, Webb boasts that they have worked “very closely” with McConnell and with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn to draft the legislation […]

    McConnell has made the liability reforms the single thing he refuses to negotiate. No bill, he has said numerous times, will reach the Senate floor without it. That might be because the Chamber has coughed up more than $31,000 so far to McConnell’s reelection campaign, through its employees, members, and affiliated political action groups. That’s the largest contribution they’ve made this year, “and the most the group has given in recent years to a single candidate not running for president,” the Post reports. Cornyn’s received $10,000. Clearly keeping McConnell around is their highest priority.

    Link

  42. says

    The USA is all alone, isolated in a display of ignorance and stupidity.

    The president of the U.N. Security Council has rejected the Trump administration’s demand to snap back sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.

    The U.N. ambassador from Indonesia, which holds the council’s rotating presidency this month, announced the rejection Tuesday in response to questions from Russia and China on the issue

    “It is clear to me that there is one member which has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views,” Dian Triansyah Djani, Indonesia ambassador to the U.N., said during a virtual Security Council meeting on the Middle East. […]

    Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to New York to formally notify the United Nations that the United States was initiating the process to reinstate all U.N. sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the Obama-era nuclear deal.

    Pompeo’s move came after the Security Council resoundly rejected a U.S. resolution to extend a conventional arms embargo on Iran that is expiring in October. Restoring the pre-nuclear deal sanctions would extend the arms embargo.

    But the Trump administration’s move relies on an argument that it is still a participant in the nuclear deal as defined by a Security Council resolution that backed the deal, even though […] Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

    Because the United States has withdrawn from the nuclear deal, other members of the Security Council argued Pompeo’s move last week was illegal.

    Despite Tuesday’s announcement, the U.S. mission to the U.N. maintained that the United States is “is on firm legal ground to initiate the restoration of sanctions.” […]

    Link

  43. blf says

    Some snippets from US media fact-checks Republican National Convention in real time:

    MSNBC and CNN, the ratings leaders during last week’s Democratic convention, were again the two commercial networks that covered the convention most thoroughly.

    But unlike last week, they interrupted the Republicans for real-time fact-checks and analysis. In one case, MSNBC interrupted a speech from a nurse who had praised Trump’s response to Covid-19 for saving lives.

    “It’s all propaganda,” said contributor Dr Vin Gupta. “There’s no truth to it.”

    MSNBC also broke into a speech by the Missouri couple who stood outside of their house with guns as a Black Lives Matter protest march went by, noting in an onscreen chyron that the duo had been charged with unlawful use of a weapon.

    The usually Trump-friendly Fox network had its own issues during the first 90 minutes of its coverage, when viewers noticed they could see more of the actual proceedings on either CNN and MSNBC.

    This despite criticisms from pro-Trump media personalities even before the convention got under way.

    The mob, the media — they won’t be showing large parts of the RNC that we’ll be showing, Sean Hannity promised at the opening of his eponymous show.

    And yet that turned out not to be true, with Fox often choosing coverage of its own TV personalities over that of the actual convention. Hannity himself talked over a speech by a Georgia state legislator, a Democrat who supports Trump, while CNN and MSNBC aired it. Fox also broadcast a conversation in which analyst Brit Hume told fellow Fox personality Tucker Carlson that the convention was trying to feature more women — while at the same moment the other two networks were actually listening to a speech by the Republican National Committee’s chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel.

    The dearth of actual coverage on Fox led Trump campaign aide Brad Parscale to complain on Twitter: Can’t believe I have to watch the convention on CNN. Unbelievable.

    Trump himself complained about spotty coverage of the roll call vote that officially renominated him as the Republican candidate for president [sic]. Some networks abandoned the president’s [sic] informal acceptance speech in a Charlotte, North Carolina, arena for fact-checking.

    CNN’s [John] King corrected Trump’s statements calling voting by mail into question, as did Major Garrett of CBS News when that network stopped showing the president [sic]. Potential problems with mail-in voting claimed by Trump are “highly, highly unlikely” to happen, Garrett said.

    MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, host of the popular Sunday political show Meet the Press, lit into Trump and the Republicans.

    “We were told this convention would be upbeat, optimistic,” Todd said. “Well, what we have just heard from the president [sic] was a grievance-filled informal acceptance speech that was filled with so many made-up problems about mail-in voting that if we were to air just the truthful parts, we probably could only air maybe a sentence.”

  44. says

    blf @ #60, that’s good to know. During the convention hours, I was cooking and watching the season finale of Endeavour, which was intense. In general, if anyone’s looking for something to watch during the remaining RNC nights, I would recommend watching the whole season (also entertaining: Imposters and High Seas, both on Netflix).

  45. blf says

    The other day I stumbled on a video which had me ROTFL (not a good idea when wearing headphones!). It is “political” — or actually, more a sly commentary — but perhaps requires a bit of a backstory.

    It starts with the pandemic. Assorted people have been producing what is called “Bardcore” music during lockdown. Bardcore is described by the Grauniad (Never mind the ballads! How bardcore took over pop music) as “Modern hit songs played on medieval instruments, often with medievalised lyrics”. That’s a bit fanciful, most of it is faux-medieval, both in the instrumentation and lyrics. It’s a bit of fun, rarely anything authentic.

    Much of Bardcore is just actually instrumentals. I find that if you don’t know the actual modern song, it’s difficult to appreciate the creativity that’s gone into the faux-medieval version. (But that could just be me.)

    This particular example does have lyrics, in a very much faux-Olde Englishe. The artist admits that only one of the instruments is potentially authentic. Whilst the lyrics are (very!) loosely-based on the modern version, it is not at all a cover in any sense of the modern song.

    It’s hilarious. The ending of the chorus, “With thy might we shall reclaim the kingdom we never had” cracks me up every time. (The lyrics are included in the video, which may help until your ear “tunes in”, so to speak.)

    Africa (Toto) — Medieval Style with Vocals.

  46. says

    Extremists storm Idaho Statehouse to protest COVID-19 measures, but Republicans are cool with that

    The far right in Idaho—which seemingly now includes its state Legislature—has a rule: Free speech for me, none for thee. Protesters from the right are welcome with open arms, but protesters from the left get thrown in jail.

    That became manifest Monday in Boise when a horde of anti-COVID-19 restriction activists led by antigovernment figure Ammon Bundy broke into the chambers of the Statehouse, shoving their way past state troopers, pounding on doors, shouting and breaking doors and windows along the way, and then invading committee hearing rooms. But not only was no one arrested, state officials decided to accommodate them. It starkly contrasted with the scene a few years ago, when peaceful protesters seeking equal rights for LGBTQ people were arrested en masse for standing silently in the halls of the building.

    Monday marked the opening day of the special legislative session called by Gov. Brad Little to deal with complications created by the pandemic—mainly civil liability issues and concerns raised by county clerks about absentee ballots and a lack of polling workers. However, those were picayune affairs compared to the agenda of the protesters, who demanded an end to the state of emergency declared by Little in March.

    Bundy—who has been the primary figure in the far-right resistance in Idaho to pandemic-related measures—led the crowd of entirely maskless protesters at the Statehouse steps, who began chanting “Let us in!” after access to the gallery seating in both Senate and House chambers was restricted to half-capacity and seats quickly filled up. First they shoved their way past Idaho State Police troopers standing guard, then they banged on doors and windows demanding entry past the gallery doors on the fourth floor. One of the men, according to the Associated Press, was carrying an assault-style rifle.

    Rather than enforce the rules and eject the protesters, Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke chose to allow the gallery to fully open. Lawmakers on the floor pleaded with the protesters to stop the chants and be respectful. Eventually, the crowd quieted down after all the seats had filled to capacity. […]

    That was hardly the end of it. As NPR’s James Dawson reported, the protesters eventually made their way into committee rooms, where they similarly ignored distancing rules and filled the rooms to capacity. They defaced signs designating empty seats, and mocked a Democratic legislator who chose to leave the meeting because of the violations.

    No citations were issued by Idaho State Police, nor are any arrest warrants planned for the property destruction and vandalism.

    Gov. Little tweeted out his thanks to the State Patrol, Boise Police, and Capitol security forces afterward “for their efforts in preserving a safe and productive special legislative session.” […]

    Idaho is currently experiencing an ongoing wave of COVID-19 infections, and currently has one of the highest rates of infections per capita […]

    Bundy boasted on Facebook afterwards: “They would not let us in to attend the legislative session. So we did what all people must do. We pushed our way in!”

    Extra thickheadedness, stupidity on steroids. All of it dangerous.

    This might be less news worthy but for the fact that Republican legislators and law enforcement personnel cooperated to some degree with the rightwing extremists.

    From comments posted by readers:

    Just more proof that if you are white and spout second amendment BS you can get away with disobeying an officers commands, assaulting an officer, consciously disregarding the law in front of officers and then expect special treatment in the end. If this would have been BLM the protesters would have been beaten and arrested.

    I will add that Bundy and his crew actually destroyed property! No arrests.

  47. tomh says

    Montana secretary of state asks Supreme Court to intervene in Green Party ballot fight
    Dan Berman and Caroline Kelly
    Updated 7:23 PM ET, Mon August 24, 2020

    (CNN)The Montana secretary of state is asking the Supreme Court to intervene in a fight over whether the Green Party can be on the state ballot this fall — a decision that could have a major impact on a key US Senate race between Republican incumbent Sen. Steve Daines and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

    Secretary of State Cory Stapleton, a Republican, filed an emergency request Monday urging the high court to place a hold on proceedings pending further legal action after lower courts had approved the Green Party absence from the ballot.
    […]

    Montana Republicans earlier this year backed an effort to qualify the Green Party, which has traditionally drawn some liberal voters from the Democrats, for the ballot. But after that was revealed, state Democrats urged enough people who signed petitions to disavow their support.

    The secretary of state’s office, however, did not accept requests to remove their support, and so the state Democrats and several people sued. A lower court judge and the state Supreme Court sided with the Democrats, saying the Green Party no longer qualified for November’s contest.
    […]

    The Montana Senate race is expected to be a tight contest, garnering national attention as a potential part of Democrats’ efforts to retake the Senate. Labeled a toss-up race by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, who is a CNN contributor, it is among half a dozen such seats that Democrats are targeting in hopes of netting four seats they would need to ensure control of the chamber if they don’t win the White House.

    And it isn’t the only competitive Montana campaign that could be affected by a Green Party presence, or lack thereof. The race for Montana’s at-large House seat was decided by fewer than five points in 2018, and is again competitive this year.

  48. says

    Calls to poison control spike in Texas after residents take bleach to combat COVID-19

    Months after Donald Trump’s suggestion that disinfectants could be a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus was found false, some people are still ingesting disinfectants, including bleach. […] officials with the North Texas Poison Center at Parkland Hospital had to remind people in the area not to drink bleach following an increase in cases.

    At least 46 cases of bleach ingestion were reported in North Texas since Aug. 1 […]

    The Texas Poison Center Network has seen a significant increase in calls related to ingesting cleaning products. […] the Texas Poison Center Network has seen a 71% increase in cases involving bleach and a 63% increase involving other household cleaners from the start of the pandemic compared to the same time period in 2019.

    […] many callers referenced COVID-19 as to why they ingested disinfectant, strengthening the center’s suspicion on misinformation.

    […] While household cleaners, like bleach, can potentially reduce the spread of coronavirus on surfaces like tables, doorknobs, desks, countertops—they are not to be ingested. Hours after Trump’s comments in April, at least five states across the country saw an increase in calls to poison control prompting popular disinfectant companies, like The Clorox Company and Reckitt Benckiser, the parent company of both Lysol and Dettol, to quickly release statements confirming that their products should not be consumed.

    As always, Trump refused to take responsibility for people acting upon his statements and [claimed] his comment was sarcastic. [bullshit]

    While it is sad that poison control centers across the country must remind us of the obvious—what’s even sadder is how the Trump administration continues to ignore the severity of this virus and encourage such dangerous actions.

    The damage Trump causes just goes on and on.

  49. says

    Follow-up to comment 55.

    More details from Miles Taylor:

    […] When it came to the border wall, Trump would dream up “sickening” medieval plots “to pierce the flesh” of migrants, rip all the families apart, “maim,” and gas them, Taylor claims. “This was a man with no humanity whatsoever,” Taylor says. “He says, we got to do this, this, this, and this, all of which are probably impossible, illegal unethical,” Taylor recalls, but he was writing them down as the president spoke. “And he looks over me and he goes, ‘you fucking taking notes?’ […]

    That’s the president of the United States, talking about humans. Children, babies, mommies, daddies. “Maim” them. “Pierce the flesh.” Shoot them. In the podcast, Taylor recounted one time when Trump just furiously [B-word-ed] that the spikes on top of the planned border wall weren’t sharp enough. “I want them SO SHARP that I want it to pierce human flesh so it’ll go right through their hands or their arms if they try to climb it,” Taylor recounts Trump saying.

    And yeah, Taylor talked about the alligators and the snakes Trump wanted in the moat […]

    Point is, if you still think we’re exaggerating when we say Trump would go from zero to Hitler in 14 words or less if he ever felt like that’s the only way he could retain power, get out of this blog post and go punch yourself in the face until you wake up.

    Also, to be clear, when Trump asked “You fucking taking notes?” Taylor explained that Trump was mad, and that he always asks that, because he loathes it when people take notes. Taylor added, “Can you imagine if like your ninth grade English teacher is like expecting you to do well on the test, and says YOU FUCKIN’ TAKIN’ NOTES RIGHT NOW?” (Remember how mad Trump was at former White House counsel Don McGahn, for taking notes about the crimes he was committing? Trump doesn’t like normal lawyers who take copious notes.)

    Taylor also spilled more beans about just how stupid and easily distracted Trump is […]

    The national security official couldn’t get through a meeting “without [Trump] doing 20 tangents, becoming irascible, turning red in the face, demanding a diet Coke, spewing spit,” Taylor explained. “Literally out of goddamn nowhere, he’d be like, ‘You know, who’s just my favorite guy? The MyPillow guy. Do any of you have those pillows?'” […]

    Wonkette link

    Add this to the pile of “Trump should resign” evidence already amassed by SC.

  50. blf says

    The Onion, RNC Features Tribute From Family Members Of Americans Who Will Die If Trump Wins Second Term:

    Applauding the soon-to-be bereaved widows and orphans for their profound sacrifices, the Republican National Convention kicked off Monday evening with a tribute from family members of Americans who will die if Donald Trump wins a second term. “Above all else, we wanted to use the convention to honor these brave citizens and all that they will suffer if we succeed in getting President Trump back into office,” said RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, touting the primetime slot of brief speeches from the potentially beleaguered parents and siblings as a chance to raise the profile of “true patriots” who will endure the unimaginable should the policies of the current White House remain in place for four more years. […] At press time, the RNC was airing a short sentimental tribute set to “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” dedicated to all 1,500,000 future victims of the pandemic after a 2020 Trump victory.

  51. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 5.

    Trump takes incrementally good news and lies about it:

    I’ve heard fantastic things about convalescent plasma. And I’ve heard numbers way over 50 percent success. And people are dying, and we should have it approved if it’s good. And I’m hearing it’s good. I heard from people at the FDA that it’s good. So we’ll see.

    The 50% Trump claims is a wild exaggeration.

  52. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@74, from the Grauniad’s current delusional wannabe-daleks live blog (quoted in full with Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Trump trade adviser, hydroxychloroquine hawk and Deep State conspiracy theory propagator Peter Navarro had a tetchy exchange earlier with Andrea Mitchell of NBC, about the administration’s move to approve convalescent plasma therapy for the coronavirus, despite its efficacy being very much in doubt.

    On air, the veteran host of Andrea Mitchell Reports said to Navarro: “FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn has now apologised. He, along with the president, {Health secretary Alex} Azar, on Sunday night, said that, out of 100 people with Covid-19, 35 were saved by convalescent plasma in a study.

    “He now says that the criticism of those false claims, exaggerated claims, was entirely justified, and that he should have said there is a relative risk reduction, not an absolute reduction. And, in fact, the study was only a subset of a subset, not a randomized study.

    “You are a PhD economist. You’re an expert. You know statistics inside and out. Emergency approval of using plasma this way reduces the possibility of having a proper randomized study, and it falsely inflates hopes.”

    Navarro — in fact a China trade hawk who has published books in which he extensively quoted an expert by the name Ron Vara, an anagram of “Navarro” — said he did not accept that premise, which was like a crazy talking point, and added: On the issue of … not being able to do randomized trials, I mean, what is the calculus here?

    Are we going to wait to use something that can save thousands of lives, just so we can have a study that tells us what we already know, which is that plasma works?

    Mitchell replied: “Yes, that is scientific practice, sir.”

    And it carried on from there.

    Talking of “crazy talking points”, Axios reported at the weekend that during attempts by the Trump White House to get Hahn and the FDA to hurry up on vaccines and therapeutics, Navarro aggressively confronted FDA officials, saying: You are all deep state and you need to get on Trump Time.

    Here’s a paragraph I’ve written before: The “deep state” conspiracy theory holds that a permanent government of bureaucrats exists to thwart the president’s agenda. Former Trump campaign manager and White House adviser Steve Bannon, an enthusiastic propagator of the theory, has also said it is “for nut cases” and “none of this is true”.

  53. says

    “Boris Johnson: ‘I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general fight of self-recrimination and wetness [?], I wanted to get that off my chest’.”

    Nesrine Malik:

    This is all that this government was elected to do – posture about traditions, feed and validate fake persecution complexes, affirm people’s status against ‘the other’. Running the country well is irrelevant.

    Boris Johnson won’t make a statement about A levels or address the Covid bereaved, but he’ll turn up pronto for culture war crap. Because that is the job he ran for, and the one he was elected to do.

    It’s also tragic because the story told by people like Priyamvada Gopal in Insurgent Empire (which I still haven’t finished, because it’s very long and my Kindle died :( and I can’t afford to replace it) is the UK’s history/traditions/culture, too, and so are the movements against slavery and for women’s rights and for immigrants’ rights and a thousand others. How sad and debilitating to limit your vision of your nation’s history to one category of people and to feel like you have to defend the indefensible or lose your identity.

  54. blf says

    Another follow-up to Lynna@74, Cochrane review, Plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat individuals with COVID-19, July 2020 (my added emboldening):

    […]
    Authors’ conclusions:
    We are very uncertain whether convalescent plasma is beneficial for people admitted to hospital with COVID-19. For safety outcomes we also included non-controlled NRSIs. There was limited information regarding adverse events. Of the controlled studies, none reported on this outcome in the control group. There is only very low-certainty evidence for safety of convalescent plasma for COVID-19.
    […]

  55. blf says

    A snippet from QAnon explained: the antisemitic conspiracy theory gaining traction around the world:

    QAnon followers have for years used a wide range of online tactics to achieve virality and garner mainstream media coverage, including […] hijacking trending hashtags with QAnon messaging […].

    A very potent iteration of this tactic emerged this summer with the #SaveTheChildren or #SaveOurChildren campaign. The innocuous sounding hashtag, which had previously been used by anti-child-trafficking NGOs, has been flooded with emotive content by QAnon adherents hinting at the broader QAnon narrative. (It doesn’t help that the debate around human trafficking is already full of bogus statistics.)

    […]

    Hundreds of real-life Save Our Children protests have been organized on Facebook in communities across the US (and around the world). These small rallies are in turn driving local news coverage by outlets who don’t realize that by publishing news designed to raise awareness about child trafficking, they are encouraging their readers or viewers to head to the internet, where a search for “save our children” could send them straight down the QAnon rabbit hole.

  56. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current delusional wannabe-daleks live blog:

    Scheduled RNC Speaker Shares Virulently Anti-Semitic Thread

    Just hours before she is scheduled to address the Republican National Convention, Mary Ann Mendoza urged her Twitter followers to read a virulently anti-Semitic Twitter thread about a Jewish plot to take over the world, the Daily Beast reported.

    The thread is from a QAnon conspiracy theorist, the Daily Beast reported. Mendoza is slated to speak about her son, who was killed in 2014 in a drunk driving accident that involved an undocumented immigrant.

    […]

  57. says

    The Ronald Reagan quote Eric Trump is ending with was a warning about the drastic evil consequences of … Medicare.

    No, seriously.

    This was the quote he just read, and it’s the closing lines from Reagan’s 1961 address denouncing the Kennedy proposal that became Medicare….

    Seems like if you’re going to make the case that Democrats are going to enact policies that destroy America, maybe you shouldn’t invoke one of the most popular programs of the last half-century and show that past claims about socialist nightmares were extremely overblown?”

  58. says

    Sen. Murphy:

    Over our history, the position of Secretary of State has remained, nobly, one level removed from the political fray.

    That’s because to be effective, our chief diplomat must be viewed as a representative of the whole nation, not one party.

    That tradition ends tonight.

  59. says

    CNN is reporting that two people have died and one is injured after people they’re describing as “armed vigilantes” and “militias” attacked protesters in Kenosha.

  60. says

    There’s a link here to a usefu interview with Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny about QAnon.

    From the discussion:

    …Mathew Ingram:

    …When it comes to mainstreaming Q and some of its beliefs, I know there is a lot of debate about how to cover the movement responsibly, whether covering it inevitably legitimizes it, etc. Could both of you comment on that and how you approach it? As an example, do you think asking Trump about Q was a good thing or a bad thing?

    Ben Collins:

    I don’t think people really understand how sweeping and huge this thing is, including OG QAnon influencers, who don’t even recognize the people who are now being redpilled. It’s completely out of hand. It’s all over private Facebook groups, specifically alternative health, religious, parenting, and healing groups.

    Every day I hear a new story about how people are radicalized into QAnon, and every day it’s a different online community that’s been recently brigaded by evangelists trying to spread the truth about how Donald Trump is singlehandedly stopping the baby eaters.

    The most recent one was the Peloton forums. Peloton. Most new Q followers I see recently are new moms.

    That’s why I don’t even understand the controversy over asking the question to the president. Why is this weird? We have to get out of the mindset that if it’s on the internet it’s not important.

    Millions of people were in QAnon Facebook groups, according to a leaked internal Facebook memo that Brandy reported on this month. Millions of people! It is growing by the day due to an algorithm gone haywire and deliberate recruiting tools perfected by cults and militia movements. And the very crux of the group is focused on rounding up the president’s personal political opponents.

    So many people text me or call me or DM me, every single day, without fail, and they ask what they can do about a family member who is unrecognizble from a few months ago. They sit on the computer all day and try to figure out the puzzle about how the president is saving the world, and dream about a day in the near future where all of the bad guys are going to be executed and life is going to be normal again.

    It’s devastating to hear these stories because I don’t have answers. I’m a reporter. All I can do is ask questions about why this is happening, who is in favor of it, and who’s benefiting from it.

    That is our mission, generally: Whose lives have been upended by these dangerous lies? And who is benefiting at the cost of those relationships and lives?

    I don’t need to guess if this stuff is important. I hear it from people every day, anxious for a vocabulary to deal with it, begging for ways to get their friends and family members back.

    So, of course, we should ask Donald Trump about something that is tearing families apart, and that he can personally stop instantly. What kind of reporter wouldn’t?

    Brandy Zadrozny:

    I’ve gotten some pushback on this but I think it’s fine to ask the president about Q, probably good even to try and get him on the record. I wish the framing of the question would have focused on the harm that the QAnon cult has caused so many people and the danger that it poses. Because QAnon is sort of new on the radar for most reporters, there’s a tendency to think of it and talk about it like some kooky conspiracy (because it is!) but it’s also cost people their lives, their families, their minds. And it’s a real threat to businesses, celebrities, politicians and journalists who have all been labeled as Satan-worshipping pedophiles. Front load the question like that so that the president and Republican politicians have to give their answer the weight it deserves.

    I’m sure Ben and I will parrot each other here but we talk with lots of experts on extremism and media manipulation and out of those talks have tried to focus our reporting on QAnon in two ways: the profiteers and the victims.

    For profit: How does Facebook—which pivoted to “community” and groups in 2017— profit off an engaged and growing QAnon community (which for years, they pushed people into through the recommendation engine)? Why does Amazon continue to sell QAnon merchandise? Who were the small-time influencers who brought QAnon across platforms, helping it go mainstream, and building real businesses along the way? Who are the popup clout chasers planning QAnon rallies across the country and how can local media not fall for their attempts to fool them?

    And victims: How are young women in the wellness communities being sucked into the QAnon community? Why are “Karens” live-streaming their QAnon-inspired breakdowns? What’s happening to friends and family of QAnon believers when they fall down the rabbithole? What is it like to be in the middle of a swarm of harassment from QAnon folks because you posted a photo of your kid in a pizza onesie? Those are stories worth telling….

    (One counterpoint: Regardless of how the question was or is framed, Trump was never going to and will never give the answer “the weight it deserves.” He’s a sociopath. None of it means anything to him aside from what he thinks he can get out of it.)

  61. says

    Here’s a link to the August 26 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Lebanon could ‘lose control’ of coronavirus outbreak, says Diab

    Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, said the country was at risk of losing its control over its coronavirus outbreak after a surge in the number of cases in the wake of the massive explosion in Beirut on 4 August.

    “The number of cases is increasing greatly, and if this continues, we will lose control of this epidemic,” Diab was cited as saying in a statement issued by the supreme defence council….

    The city of Berlin has banned demonstrations planned for this weekend to oppose measures imposed to stem the coronavirus pandemic, after organisers of a rally earlier this month failed to ensure marchers wore masks and kept their distance.

    Andreas Geisel, the Berlin interior senator, said the authorities had to strike a balance between the right to freedom of assembly and the need to protect people against infection. He said:

    We are still in the middle of a pandemic with rising infection figures.

    Germany has managed to keep the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths relatively low compared with some other large European countries, but the number of new daily cases has been rising steadily since early July and has accelerated in recent weeks.

    About 20,000 people, included libertarians, constitutional loyalists, far-right supporters and anti-vaccination activists, marched in the capital on 1 August.

    Geisel said the organisers of that protest had deliberately broken the rules they had previously accepted in talks with police, including the wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing.

    “Such behaviour is not acceptable. The state cannot be given the runaround,” he said, adding he did not want Berlin to be a stage for conspiracy theorists and rightwing extremists.

    If crowds still gather despite the ban, the police will intervene, he said.

    Ukraine has imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners from entering the country until 28 September and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent surge in coronavirus cases, Reuters reports.

    Speaking at a televised cabinet meeting, the prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, also said the government would need to take a decision on Thursday on whether to ban major public events in September.

    Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who’s 59, is in intensive care in critical condition with COVID-19.

  62. tomh says

    Supreme Court Rejects Republican Effort to Restore Green Party Candidates on Montana Ballot
    August 25,2020 NICHOLAS IOVINO

    (CN) —The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request by the Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton to place Green Party candidates back on state ballots this November…

    The decision follows an Aug. 19 ruling by the Montana Supreme Court upholding a state district court judge’s decision to strike Green Party candidates from the ballot due to a signature-gathering scandal. More than 560 people asked for their names to be removed from ballot petitions after they learned the Republican Party funded the $100,000 signature-gathering effort and failed to disclose the spending in violation of campaign finance laws…The ruling left the Green Party without enough signatures to qualify for the ballot…

    The Montana Democratic Party sued Stapleton over his refusal to honor the requests of 560 people that asked to be removed from the petitions to get candidates’ names on the ballot after they learned the Montana Green Party never supported the effort.

  63. says

    A scoop by me: Yale Law prof Jed Rubenfeld (aka Mr. Tiger Mom) has been banned from teaching for two years after Yale found he had sexually harassed multiple students. Allegations spanned decades. He told me he’s a ‘target’ for his views on Title IX.

    Rubenfeld denies the allegations, which include verbal harassment, unwanted touching, and attempted kissing, both on campus and at parties at Rubenfeld/Chua’s home, over decades. He claims ‘identities were not revealed to me’, but that’s not true….”

    New York link atl.

  64. says

    Great news! (from another failed listmaker :)):

    A slam dunk victory for Gavin Grimm in the Fourth Circuit today, which holds:

    Schools must let transgender students use the right bathroom
    They must also use the right gender on official documents
    Anti-trans laws are subject to heightened scrutiny

    The Fourth Circuit further holds:

    Transgender people are a quasi-suspect class
    Anti-trans discrimination is sex discrimination and receives heightened constitutional scrutiny
    Judge Wynn, concurring, finds the school board acted out of unconstitutional anti-trans animus.

    @JoshABlock and @chasestrangio have represented @GavinGrimmVA for approximately 100 years, and today’s decision from the Fourth Circuit vindicates pretty much every legal argument they’ve made from the start. An extraordinary victory for trans equality.

    What happens next?

    The left-leaning Fourth Circuit will not rehear this case en banc. So the Gloucester County School Board may appeal to the Supreme Court. But that might be unwise in light of Bostock, which affirmed that anti-trans discrimination is sex discrimination.

    Congratulations to everyone involved.

  65. says

    Laura is now a category 4 hurricane.

    National Weather Service:

    Unsurvivable storm surge with large, destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, TX, to Intracoastal City, LA. Surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland.

    If you need to evacuate, do so NOW. Surge will begin today, well ahead of the strongest winds

  66. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Italy reported 1,367 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its highest daily tally since May when the country was still in lockdown, bringing the total number to 262,540.

    Authorities have also registered the highest number of tests: 93,529, almost 20,000 more than Tuesday and a record since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Thirteen more people have died with the virus in the last 24 hours, and the death toll now stands at 35.458.

    Despite the surge in infections, the government insists there are no plans for a new lockdown.

    Health authorities are particularly concerned about a cluster that emerged in the Sardinian ‘Billionaire’ nightclub, owned by former Formula 1 team boss and Italian businessman, Flavio Briatore, who has been hospitalised in Milan after contracting coronavirus.

    More than 60 people tested positive for Covid-19 at Billionaire’s, as authorities are struggling to find and test thousands of customers who have been at the Briatore’s nightclub in the last weeks.

  67. says

    CNN – “CDC was pressured ‘from the top down’ to change coronavirus testing guidance, official says”:

    A sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration, a federal health official close to the process tells CNN.

    “It’s coming from the top down,” the official said of the new directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The new guidelines raise the bar on who should get tested, advising that some people without symptoms probably don’t need it — even if they’ve been in close contact with an infected person.

    Previously, the CDC said viral testing was appropriate for people with recent or suspected exposure, even if they were asymptomatic.

    CDC would not comment on questions about its own policy change. A CDC spokesperson referred all questions to the Department of Health and Human Services.

    In a statement to CNN, HHS Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir said: “This Guidance has been updated to reflect current evidence and best public health practices, and to further emphasize using CDC-approved prevention strategies to protect yourself, your family, and the most vulnerable of all ages.” [This is blather. – SC]

    HHS has not specified what change in “current evidence” may have driven the change. Giroir is expected to address these issues at a briefing Wednesday afternoon.

    But the new directive also lines up with a trend in policy and rhetoric from the White House. President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested the US should do less testing.

    Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist and associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine, said on CNN Newsroom on Wednesday that the CDC has not provided evidence to explain the changes.

    “I mean, the evidence that I’m aware of as of today is that close to 40% of the cases of the infections are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people transmit the infection,” Del Rio said.

    “So, not testing — I mean, if you have been in contact with somebody for a few minutes, that’s okay. But if you have been in contact for 50 minutes and that people doesn’t have a mask, I think you need to be tested regardless if you have symptoms or not. We know especially young people going into the house and then transmit inside the household. So, the guidelines baffle me and I really don’t understand them.”

    The doctors on the news earlier, who are generally very measured, were flummoxed by and suspicious of this change. Sanjay Gupta called it “ridiculous.” Neither they nor any of the journalists working on this have been able to get any real explanation. I honestly don’t think Trump understands the point of testing. I’m sure they’ve tried to explain it to him, but he’s incapable of seeing anything beyond the level of competition and PR and image.

  68. says

    #US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun said that if the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexey @Navalny will be proven as such, the US would introduce harsh new #sanctions against #Russia’s leadership:…”

    Their attacks on our elections have been proven many times over and Trump continues to deny it, and Biegun also wrote the memo about not participating in political campaigns that Pompeo just spat on, so…

  69. says

    Walter Shaub:

    Laws are no more powerful than norms if there’s no one to enforce them. So don’t dismiss norms. The people who would enforce the laws are the same people who would honor norms. The fascist norm breaking should alarm you because it reflects their willingness to break laws.

  70. says

    Holy Moly.

    Jerry Falwell Jr tells CNN he will get a total of $10.5 million from Liberty University after resigning as President and Chancellor. It’s $2.5M over the next two years as part of his departure, which is about 2 years of his salary and around $8M after that.”

    He’s really letting his asshole flag fly.

  71. says

    Fearing defeat, Trump turns our resources into his campaign tools

    “It would be a mistake to see Trump’s convention abuses as some kind of aberration born of desperation. They’ve actually been ongoing since January 2017.”

    […] Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, he’s seen the levers of government power as tools he can exploit at will to serve his interests.

    [Trump is indifferent] to laws, norms, and institutional limits. […] the United States government isn’t ours, it’s his, and he can do with it as he pleases.

    The second night of the Republican National Convention drove the point home in sharp relief.

    It wasn’t just Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking to the convention from Jerusalem, in defiance of the precedent set by his predecessors and seemingly of his own department’s ethics policy. It wasn’t just Melania Trump speaking from the Rose Garden. And it wasn’t just Trump casting the White House Marine guards as extras in a segment of the convention, despite Pentagon rules. All of that happened Tuesday night, but Trump did more than use his taxpayer-funded office and residence as a backdrop. He employed the official powers of the presidency for partisan politics, first by granting a pardon, then by hosting a naturalization ceremony at the White House, all part of his televised GOP convention. […]

    I’ve seen plenty of commentary reflecting on the president using our resources as props in a production of political theater, which he clearly did, but I also think Trump sees government resources as swords and shields — to be weaponized as part of a cynical campaign to gain advantage in a race he’s losing.

    […] There is only Trump, leveraging and exploiting everything he can — without regard for what’s legal, ethical, or in line with American traditions — to advance his interests.

    […] “If all the president has is a desire to hold onto power, everything looks like a campaign tool.”

    […] this week’s abuses are an exclamation point at the end of a run-on sentence that began in January 2017.

    Last week, Miles Taylor, a Republican and a former top official at the Department of Homeland Security, explained in an op-ed, “The president has tried to turn DHS, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, into a tool used for his political benefit.” This, of course, was very easy to believe, largely because it’s hard to think of a government entity Trump hasn’t tried to use for his political benefit.

    The Census Bureau. The U.S. Postal Service. The Justice Department. The State Department. The Pentagon. The Food & Drug Administration. Voice of America. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    The president sees these agencies and asks himself, not what they can do for us, but what they can do for him.

    This is how authoritarians operate, and as Trump’s celebration of himself has already made clear this week, it’s how he prefers to use the power a minority of voters afforded him.

  72. says

    Kanye West update:

    it was a mixed bag yesterday for GOP operatives trying to get Kanye West’s name onto the 2020 ballot as a presidential candidate. Republican efforts in Missouri fell short, but the party succeeded in getting the entertainer onto the statewide ballot in Minnesota. Trump lost Minnesota in 2016 by less than 2 percentage points, making it his narrowest defeat.

  73. says

    Unsure of its message, GOP relies on a series of contradictions

    As one observer put it, “The Republican National Convention should have come with a safety warning — beware of whiplash.”

    When it became clear in the spring that Joe Biden would win the Democratic nomination, Donald Trump called the former vice president a “moderate.” Four days later, [Trump]t added that Biden is “left wing.” How did [Trump] reconcile the contradiction? By ignoring it.

    When Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was added to the Democratic ticket a few weeks ago, leading GOP voices told voters that the senator is both too far to the left and too centrist to be trusted by those on the far-left. Soon after, Republicans accused Harris of being both a socialist and the choice of Wall Street.

    This week, as the L.A. Times noted, the contradictions are coming at a dizzying clip.

    The Republican National Convention should have come with a safety warning — beware of whiplash. Throughout the opening of their party extravaganza, Republicans zigzagged between conflicting messages in a frantic effort to bruise Joe Biden […]

    […] Is Joe Biden too tough on criminals or too weak? Is Donald Trump eager to appeal to Black voters or eager to keep Black families out of American suburbs? Is “cancel culture” a Trump favorite or a national scourge?

    Does [Trump] support increased immigration or decreased? It was hard to tell last night when Trump oversaw a naturalization ceremony that was largely at odds with his own White House policy demands.

    Does [Trump] support using American military might or is he determined to bring U.S. troops home and keep them out of foreign entanglements? We’ve heard both messages this week, and when the president’s campaign released a series of bulleted second-term priorities, it said Trump intends to “stop endless wars” while simultaneously vowing to “expand America’s unrivaled military strength.”

    […] Trump and his team don’t appear to be executing some kind of broad-based strategy, but rather, they appear to be just throwing assorted ideas at a wall, hoping something will stick.

    They don’t seem to mind the contradictions, and by all appearances, Republicans don’t even seem to notice their existence. […]

  74. says

    SC @115, Melania dressed as Commander in Chief of a Russian force invading Ukraine. Meanwhile, Trump squatted in the audience, with a look on his face that said, “Why is this taking so long?”

    I wondered why the teleprompter was so socially distanced from Melania that she looked like she was stargazing when she read her speech.

  75. says

    Commentary on Trump’s naturalization stunt:

    For three and a half years now, impeached president Donald Trump has carried out a constant, brutal, and frequently unlawful war on our legal immigration system. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency that processes paperwork like naturalization forms, nearly became his latest victim and was headed for an intentional near-shutdown until public pressure forced the administration to pull it back. Had that plan gone through, USCIS would have furloughed nearly 70% of its workforce in just a matter of days. Unless they’re from Norway, this administration does not want immigrants here, period.

    But in one of the most grotesque and surreal moments of this entire godforsaken presidency, the administration at the very least violated USCIS rules forbidding displays of partisanship to use a group of immigrants as human props in a naturalization ceremony staged at the White House as part of the Republican National Convention. The purpose wasn’t to weave these men and women into the American fabric but to deceive us about the past several years, because among these immigrants was a man from Ghana—you know, from one of those African nations Trump once infamously derided as a “shithole” country.

    The political appointee helping Trump carry out this shameless reelection stunt was unconfirmed acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Chad Wolf […] a shameless reelection stunt “horrifying in context,” tweeted Immigrant Defenders Law Center co-founder Lindsay Toczylowski. “1000s of asylum seekers in grave danger tonight at our border, children being sent to their deaths, families separated, communities ripped apart, babies held in ICE prisons.” Much of this has happened with Wolf playing the eager foot soldier […]

    Adding more shame on top of this shame sandwich is that while carrying out a naturalization ceremony at the White House for the president’s reelection campaign is apparently just fine and dandy, immigrants who had their naturalization process derailed by the novel coronavirus pandemic have had to sue in order to be allowed to complete their process, having been told they couldn’t even take their oaths virtually when former USCIS officials said they absolutely could. Some immigrants have now been able to take their oaths thanks to court action and office reopenings, but thousands of immigrants may still not be able to vote come November. […]

    […] tired of this pack of white supremacist criminals masquerading as public servants […]

    [Trump is] still using the pandemic to make slashes to legal immigration, to the glee of racist anti-immigrant groups. He’s still violating anti-trafficking law to quickly and unlawfully expel migrant children back to the dangers they fled from in the first place. […]

    Trump is just hoping enough folks are foolish enough to fall for the theatrics […] Our job is to make sure it doesn’t work. ”While Trump uses the White House for a citizenship ceremony, thousands of asylum seekers are in camps at the border due to his sabotaging of our immigration system,” tweeted former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julián Castro. “He’s spent four years using immigrants as pawns in a political game. Americans see through his illegal charade.”

    Link

  76. says

    Trump morphs White House into a fortress as he threatens to ignore election results

    As Donald Trump conditions his cultists to reject any election result that doesn’t include him winning, he has also continued to erect a multi-layered barricade around the White House. Or as a Washingtonian headline observed earlier this month, “The White House has become a militarized Island in Downtown D.C.”

    The writer of that article, Andrew Beaujon, reports that pedestrian access north of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue has been blocked ever since the night Park Police gassed protesters so Trump could walk across the street to hoist an upside-down Bible over his head. Beaujon has gotten varying answers from Park Police and Secret Service about why it continues to be barricaded and when the blockade will end

    […] South of the White House, a barricade now blocks almost the entire sightline of The People’s House from Constitution Avenue. Here’s what it currently looks like. [Image available at the link.]

    […] No one is as big a coward as Donald Trump. Not George W. Bush in the age of terror. And not Franklin D. Roosevelt at the outset of World War II. When the Secret Service suggested ringing the White House with sandbags stacked 15-feet high, Roosevelt declined.

    Some sort of wrought-iron fence has been the fixture surrounding the White House for more than a century. Part of the point was to maintain some semblance of public access. But Trump has now fortified the fencing with barricades around much of the perimeter […]

    “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” Trump said Monday, addressing a crowd shortly after the opening of the GOP convention.

  77. says

    This is Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, an Illinois resident who was just charged with first-degree murder of two people last night in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This teen, whose social media history is full of misogyny and white supremacy, had easy access to an AR-15.

    In recent months, gun violence has broken out at protests against violence against Black Americans by police. In Albuquerque, a man was shot and wounded in June during a protest. In Portland, protests were escalated this weekend by white supremacists with rifles and handguns.

    Armed insurrectionists and white supremacists are exploiting America’s dangerous and unpopular ‘open carry loophole’, which enables them to open carry military-style firearms in most states with little to no regulation.

    Easy access to guns combined with racism, bigotry and misogyny is killing Americans and undermining democracy. Male supremacists used guns in 70% of domestic terror attacks and are responsible for the most deaths by domestic extremists.”

  78. says

    About the shooter in Kenosha, Wisconsin last night … more details:

    An armed white man, identified as part of a group of vigilante militiamen who claimed to be protecting businesses from damage by people rioting, shot three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night—two of them fatally. The man was later seen in video walking past police vehicles with arms raised in surrender, but he was not arrested and kept walking. However, on Wednesday morning, he was charged with first-degree murder.

    The shootings occurred during the third night of protests in Kenosha, following the Sunday shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, by Kenosha police. Kenosha police later issued a statement that they had tentatively identified the gunman, and then announced that the man—a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois—had been charged with first-degree murder, and was being sought as a fugitive.

    The complaint identifies the shooter as Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch. It also names him as a “fugitive from justice,” having “fled the state of Wisconsin with intent to avoid prosecution for that offense.”

    Captured on multiple videos, the shootings apparently began in the parking lot of a gas station/repair shop at about 11:45 PM. Witnesses said the shooter, who was carrying a semi-automatic rifle and wearing a green T-shirt, got into a confrontation with a protester at whom he then fired multiple rounds. One of these apparently hit the protester in the head.

    Video shows the shooter surveying the body of the victim while talking on a cell phone and telling someone that “I just shot someone,” then fleeing the scene.

    Subsequent videos shot by other witnesses show a number of protesters following the shooter, who at one point stumbles and falls to the street without having been contacted. As he tries to recover himself, three other protesters approach him and try to take his gun away, at which he opens fire on them as well. One of his victims, shot in the arm, shouts for a medic.

    The man then gets back on his feet and continues down the street until he encounters arriving police vehicles. Although he puts his hands up, the police apparently ignore him, and the man then continues walking away.

    According to police, one of the people killed was shot in the head, and the other was shot in the chest. The third victim was shot in the arm.

    A militia group calling itself the Kenosha Guard had organized on Facebook, ostensibly to prevent violence at the protests. On Monday, it had published a post calling for “Armed Citizens to Protect Our Lives and Property,” with text reading: “Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city tonight from the evil thugs? No doubt they are currently planning on the next part of the city to burn tonight.”

    After the shooting, the Facebook page featured a post reading: “We are unaware if the armed citizen was answering the Kenosha Guard Militia’s call to arms. Just like the shooting of Jacob Blake, we need all the facts and evidence to come out before we make a judgement.” The Kenosha Guard’s Facebook page was subsequently taken down.

    Rittenhouse was captured in video taken earlier in the evening in which he and several militiamen appeared to be getting water bottles handed to them by Kenosha police. In that video, he says: “By the way, I’m Kyle.”

    Several antifascist social media accounts identified the man as Rittenhouse, noting that he has a history of associations with police, including enrolling in a local “police cadet” program. Rittenhouse’s Facebook was also festooned with “Blue Lives Matter” material and logos.

    On Monday, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth had publicly refused to deputize citizens to patrol the city’s streets. After the shootings Tuesday, he reiterated that position.

    “I’ve had people saying, ‘Why don’t you deputize citizens?’” he said. “This is why you don’t deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”

    Link

  79. says

    Trump seems determined to make things worse in Kenosha:

    Trump announced Wednesday he will order additional federal forces to tamp down violence in Kenosha, Wis., that has arisen in the wake of a police shooting that left a Black man paralyzed.

    “TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!” he wrote on Twitter. […]

    Link

  80. says

    Trump’s children are using the framework of the Republican National Convention to stoke grievance and resentment.

    […] in this election the GOP has found a different avenue to promote resentment and anger. Liberals, they say, are silencing you, making you a victim of “cancel culture.”

    And the Trump children are here to tell you that the thought police are coming for you.

    “The Democrats want an America where your thoughts and opinions are censored when they do not align with their own,” said Eric Trump on Tuesday night. “To the voiceless, shamed, censored and canceled, my father will fight for you.”

    Does anyone recognize the Donald Trump that Eric described?

    Joining the de-silencing and un-canceling was Eric’s half-sister, Tiffany, who exposed the dark forces tampering with Americans’ minds. “This manipulation of what information we receive impedes our freedoms. Rather than allowing Americans the right to form our own beliefs, this misinformation system keeps people mentally enslaved to the ideas they deem correct,” she said.

    “Ask yourselves, why are we prevented from seeing certain information?” Tiffany Trump continued. “Why is one viewpoint promoted while others are hidden? The answer is control, because division and controversy breed profit.”

    Fox News! One America News Network (OANN)!

    So we’re all forced to adhere to one set of beliefs, because the media want division and controversy. See if you can spot the logical problem there.

    “If you care about living your life without restraints, about rebelling against those who would suppress your voice,” Tiffany Trump concluded, you must vote for her father.

    Tuesday’s presentation also featured Nick Sandmann, the young man who became famous after a confrontation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Sandmann described how his voice had been snuffed out: “I learned what was happening to me had a name. It was called being canceled, as in annulled, as in revoked, as in made void. Canceled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left.”

    So Sandmann explained how he had been silenced while addressing a national televised audience, as every silenced person does.

    The night before Donald Trump Jr. sounded the same notes: “Joe Biden and the radical left are now coming for our freedom of speech. They want to bully us into submission. If they get their way, it will no longer be the silent majority. It will be the silenced majority.”

    […] As American society has become more inclusive, certain groups have felt their loss of cultural hegemony as a kind of oppression, as though, to take just one example, if everyone isn’t forced to honor Christian holidays in all public spaces to the exclusion of every other religion, that means Christians are being persecuted.

    […] just as they equate any exercise of authority by a duly elected Democrat with “tyranny,” they’ve convinced themselves that being criticized for something they do or say is the same thing as being censored and canceled.

    This is all right out of the rhetoric of Fox News and conservative talk radio, where tales of oppressed conservatives are a part of everyday’s menu, meant to keep the audience enraged and fearful.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that there aren’t, shall we say, excesses of censoriousness in our contemporary debates. But for a group of people constantly wailing that they’ve been silenced, Republicans are awfully loud.

    Washington Post link

  81. says

    RNC videos are loaded with scenes from outside the U.S. because they can’t find happy images here

    If there’s anything that the RNC convention has been about it’s been telling the story of how Donald Trump personally stepped in front of the coronavirus and saved America from even getting so much as a sniffle. If there’s anything else it’s been about, it’s been demonstrating just how much Trump, other people also named Trump, and everyone working for Trump, just doesn’t give a monkey’s ass about violating the Hatch Act. And if there’s anything else it’s been about, it’s been about glossy infomercials with lots of brass in the music, designed to sell the idea that Donald Trump created every job on his way to saving the world.

    The only truthful part of any of that is that it is “the world.” Because it’s certainly not the United States. The videos promoting Trump have included healthcare workers in Thailand and factories in Ukraine. […] The idea that Trump is promoting his MAGAgenda with images from overseas is amusing, […]

    Trump may occasionally mount a mini-rally in the parking lot of a factory, but after making claims about saving the air conditioners, or washing machines, or Oreos, he prefers to retreat to a comfortable place—one with a cart, a buffet line, and a decided lack of working-class people.

    The reason that the RNC is running ads copy-pasted together from collections of international clip art, rather than showing real images of real U.S. healthcare workers or real new U.S. factories is that those things don’t exist. […]Trump lied about the impact of those factories to begin with, lied about being able to save them, and now he’s lying about them again … even though they’re gone.

    The game of “spot the stock footage” may seem trivial, but it’s emblematic of what Trump really has to show for four years in office—a record so spotty that it has to be pasted over with images from elsewhere. Including, appropriately enough, Russia.

    […] The RNC might consider interviewing some real healthcare workers who were forced to use garbage bags as personal protective equipment. They might show some video of children in cages, […] or white supremacists waving torches. Because all those things aren’t horror stories of “what will happen if Trump loses.” They’re what happened because Trump won.

    They might consider mentioning that the United States plunged into a recession in February, at a time when the number of known cases of COVID-19 in the nation was less than 100.

    In their revisionist history efforts, Trump’s followers have been claiming that Obama left Trump a recession that he turned into the “greatest economy in history.” The truth is exactly the opposite: Barack Obama handed over to Donald Trump a nation that was strong and an economy that had been steadily growing for eight years. Trump took that economy and sent it into recession, and he took that nation and crushed it.

    But that probably doesn’t generate very inspiring clips.

  82. says

    this guy [Kenosha Chief of Police] is like: look the victims shouldn’t have been out there, and the guy who killed them ‘was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place’.”

    Video atl. And it took them forever to get to even talking about the murders of two people by a white supremacist. I had to go out before this guy came on, but the press conference was jawdropping. There are serious fucking problems with this police department.

  83. says

    From an article written by Doreen St. Félix for The New Yorker:

    […] In conjuring the image of herself as charitable First Lady, hopping the African continent to learn about the slave trade, Melania is […] mirroring exactly her husband’s farce of magnanimity. As she tentatively maneuvered the topic of the nation’s unavoidable racism, proclaiming that our “diverse and storied history is what makes our country strong,” pundits online immediately produced the infamous interview, from 2011, of Melania questioning the birthplace of Barack Obama. It is easy, and also morally correct, to call out the First Lady’s special hypocrisy. […]

    Link

  84. says

    MSNBC is reporting that both teams scheduled to be playing in the playoff game today between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic are boycotting the game in protest against racial injustice.

  85. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @123:

    If they get their way, it will no longer be the silent majority. It will be the silenced majority.

    Ahem. You are not a majority, you fucking lying shitweasel.

  86. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC#125 Kenosha is part of the district that elected former Speaker Paul Ryan to congress. Full of folks fleeing over the IL border to avoid the POC who live in Lake County, IL, where I live. The alleged killer comes a very reactionary area here in Lake County, so not surprised. While IL has some strict gun laws, they aren’t real effective as the state is not walled off from the rest of the country. Say like WI. A 10 minute drive from Antioch.

  87. tomh says

    Trump administration wants limits reimposed on medication abortion
    A group of doctors won an injunction to have restrictions on Mifeprex relaxed during the coronavirus pandemic because it exposed them to risks.
    Aug 26, 2020
    By Pete Williams

    The Trump administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to reimpose a rule governing a pill commonly used in medication abortions.

    Since 2000, the Food and Drug Administration has established rules for Mifeprex, a drug used during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. The regulations say it must be administered by a health care professional in a clinic, hospital or doctor’s office and the patient must sign a form acknowledging that she has been counseled about the drug’s possible risks.

    But a group of doctors, led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, filed a lawsuit seeking to have the restrictions relaxed during the coronavirus pandemic. Medical offices and clinics have either closed their doors or restricted appointments, they said, and requiring pregnant women to make in-person visits exposed them to the risk of infection.

    Federal District Court Judge Theodore Chuang agreed, ruling that keeping the FDA rule during the pandemic would “place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a medication abortion and that may delay or preclude a medication abortion and thus may necessitate a more invasive procedure.” Instead, he said, the pills could be sent by mail.

    His injunction stopped enforcement of the FDA rule nationwide…

    Urging the Supreme Court to put a hold on that order, the Justice Department said Wednesday…As a legal matter, the government said, the FDA rules do not amount to an undue burden on the right of access to abortion, given that surgical methods of abortion remain widely available.

    The government’s plea for a stay of the judge’s order was addressed to Chief Justice John Roberts, who will probably refer it to the full court.

  88. says

    As a legal matter, the government said, the FDA rules do not amount to an undue burden on the right of access to abortion, given that surgical methods of abortion remain widely available.

    WTF? They’re far less available and riskier in terms of coronavirus than a drug.

  89. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Smoke from deforestation-related fires in the Brazilian Amazon last year hospitalised more than 2,000 people and led to a “significant negative impact on public health” in the region, researchers have said.

    With similar serious fires expected this year, on top of a deadly Covid-19 pandemic, heavily hospitalisations are likely to be repeated, “potentially collapsing” an already overburdened health system in the region, they said in a report.

    “We are watching a situation similar, or even worse, than last year,” said Ane Alencar, director of science at IPAM, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, one of the institutions behind the study.

    More than 4,500 square kilometres of Amazon land deforested this year or cleared but not burned last year could be set on fire during this year’s dry season, which normally runs from July to September, according to the new study.

    In July, the Amazon region saw a 28% increase in fires compared to the same period last year, it said.

    Miguel Lago, executive director of IEPS, Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, called the north of Brazil the largest area of “clinic deserts” – areas of limited healthcare availability – in the country.

    The Amazonian region around Manaus, for instance, has only 8.8 intensive care hospital beds per 100,000 people, below the Brazilian health ministry’s recommendation of 10 beds, Lago said.

    The Amazon has seen the worst outbreak of Covid-19 in Brazil, itself one of the countries most heavily impacted by the virus.

    “We have a very fragile health system in the Amazon, that has had a hard time facing the pandemic. So the coincidence of fires and the pandemic is very, very bad,” Lago said.

    More needs to be done to limit forest fires in the region this year, with the healthcare system already struggling to deal with coronavirus cases, he said.

    “We should be doing everything we can to avoid hospitalisation – and in this case fires are totally avoidable,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

  90. says

    Geoff Bennett:

    I spoke today with a #USPS employee in Wheeling, West Virginia — a town where Trump has repeatedly campaigned, in a state he won by 42 points. The employee says residents now get mail “three times a week, if that” and complaints are growing about delayed checks and medicine.

  91. says

    continued:

    I asked the Wheeling, WV #USPS employee if there have been any improvements since DeJoy announced he’s suspending some operational changes. “No, it’s still happening,” the employee said. “The damage is done. Some trucks leave empty, and mail is still sitting on docks.”

  92. says

    NEW AD: Elizabeth Neumann – the former Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention in Trump’s DHS – says that the U.S. is ‘less safe today’ because of Trump’s actions.

    In 2016 she supported Trump but based on what she saw inside his administration, she’s voting for Joe Biden.”

    Video atl.

  93. tomh says

    Judge Temporarily Blocks DeVos From Diverting Pandemic Aid to Private Schools
    August 26, 2020 NICHOLAS IOVINO

    SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from making seven states and five cities send millions of dollars in pandemic relief aid from public to private schools.

    U.S. District Judge James Donato found the Education Department’s July 1 rule that directs public school districts to share emergency coronavirus relief grants with private schools under a more generous formula than what is required under Title I undermines the will of Congress.

    “An executive agency like the Department has no authority to rewrite Congress’s plain and unambiguous commands under the guise of interpretation,” Donato wrote in a 15-page ruling Wednesday night.
    […]

    Donato rejected the department’s argument that it needed to issue a rule to clear up a “critical ambiguity” in the CARES Act, which states that emergency funds should be allocated “in the same manner” as Title 1 formula grants.

    “The Department’s conclusion that ‘in the same manner’ does not mean ‘in the same manner’ invites immediate doubts,” Donato wrote…Donato dismissed the Education Department’s reading of the CARES Act as “’interpretive jiggery-pokery’ in the extreme.’”
    […]

    The preliminary injunction will only apply to plaintiffs who sued DeVos over the policy.

    The plaintiffs include California, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., the New York City Board of Education, Chicago Board of Education, Cleveland Board of Education and San Francisco Unified School District.

  94. blf says

    SC@127 & others, In addition to the NBA (basketball), some MLS (soccer), MLB (baseball), and Tennis games in the States were postponed in protest & solidarity & all in the States. I don’t know if any games outsides the States (e.g., here in Europe) were — or will be — postponed, but it’s not all unlikely…

  95. blf says

    And on that most peculiar of States “sports”, handegg, teh Washington Redskins owner is apparently even more of a creep, Dan Snyder: covert video of cheerleaders reportedly made for Washington owner:

    […]
    The Washington Post has published fresh allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct at Washington’s NFL team, this time directly involving the franchise’s owner, Dan Snyder.

    One former team employee said that a video was made of Washington cheerleaders accidentally exposing their breasts during a film shoot in 2008.

    “Larry {Michael, the team’s former head of media} said something to the effect of, We have a special project that we need to get done for the owner today: He needs us to get the good bits of the behind-the-scenes video from the cheerleader shoot onto a DVD for him,” Brad Baker, a former Washington team employee told the Post.

    Baker said he helped edit the video, which was burned on to a DVD labelled For Executive Meeting. The Post said it has a copy of the film. Michael, who resigned from the team last month, denies the allegations while Snyder is yet to comment.

    “I feel betrayed and violated,” said Heather Tran, one of the cheerleaders who took part in the 2008 shoot.

    Another former Washington cheerleader, Tiffany Bacon Scourby, told the Post that Snyder encouraged her to sleep with Tony Roberts, a childhood friend of Snyder.

    Scourby alleged Snyder told her at an event in 2004: We have a hotel room. Why don’t you and Tony go upstairs and get to know each other better?

    Other female employees told the Post they were banned from mixing with players in case they were a distraction, and that harassment was widespread at the franchise. “It was like fresh meat to a pack of wolves every time a new pack of interns would come in,” one woman said.

    […]

    Veteran Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins offered a withering assessment of Snyder’s legacy on Wednesday. “This is what the NFL gets for not scraping Daniel Snyder off its shoe before now,” she wrote. “They’re partners with a man who sank a flagship organization, leaving behind a smutty storefront.”

  96. blf says

    me@154, Oops! The strikeout was only supposed to be for the Redskins part of the handegg team’s (former) name — I accidently clicked Post Comment rather than Preview. (Also, the {curly braces} are Grauniad edits.)

  97. blf says

    Oook! In the NKofE, Books seen behind Boris Johnson tell their own story. Teh so-called “PM” was giving a speech in a school library. A librarian (probably) got creative:

    [… T]he bookshelves behind him [were] lined with titles like The Twits, Betrayed and The Subtle Knife.

    […]

    “Whichever librarian managed to get not just the ‘The Twits’ but also ‘Betrayed’; ‘Resistance’ and ‘Fahrenheit 451’ in the shot behind Johnson has my admiration,” tweeted Sam Freedman, a former senior policy advisor at the DfE [Education Ministry]. […]

    Freedman continued: “It has been noted that the Subtle Knife; Glass Houses; The Toll (about a monstrous dictator); and Guards Guards (about a shady villain installing a puppet king) are all there too. It looks like it’s been carefully curated!”

    The thread that followed included much praise for librarians.

    In the image at the link, I can also see “Bad Guys”, “Corpse Talk”, several editions of the How It Works magazine, something about “Scientists”, and others that I cannot decipher or recognize. In other images (and as that thead notes) show “Lord of the Rings”. Supposedly, “Oliver Twist” and “1984” are there… and others are mentioned in the thread, including “Exodus” (a story about people abandoning an island due to the Climate Catastrophe). As several twitterings have noted, there is also a sign “Will You Take on the Challenge?”

    Never annoy a librarian! Ook.

  98. blf says

    SC@78 quotes, “Boris Johnson: I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general fight of self-recrimination and wetness [?], I wanted to get that off my chest.” The Grauniad explains that mysterious wetness, Stop this wetness!: the roots of Boris Johnson’s watery contempt:

    […]
    It’s the word “wetness” that jumps out. A strange choice, redolent of playing field taunts, though perhaps not unexpected from the man who seems to view running the country as an only slightly elevated form of class clownery, and who once used an official document to label David Cameron a girly swot.

    But reflexive silliness aside, Johnson seems to be saying that self-examination, stopping to consider the implications of our symbols or actions, is “wet”. He’s using the sense described in the Oxford English Dictionary as “inept, ineffectual, effete”. As with “girly swot”, there’s a definite current of what you might call “toxic masculinity” here. One of the earliest citations of this usage is from a 1924 novel by Percy Marks, called The Plastic Age: “A man is wet if he isn’t a ‘regular guy’; he is wet if he isn’t ‘smooth’; he is wet if he has intellectual interests; and he is wet if he is utterly stupid.”

    The OED says “wet” is also used “quasi-adverbially” (as in “don’t act wet”), “and in the combination wet fish. A wet individual, a ‘drip’. Also specifically in politics.”

    That political definition probably has the most resonance for any Conservative, and may be why Johnson instinctively reached for it. The OED expands on it as follows: “A politician with liberal or middle-of-the-road views on controversial issues (often applied to members of the Conservative party opposed to the monetarist policies of Margaret Thatcher).” […]

    [… more about “wets” and “dries” during handbag’s regime…]

    The irony being, of course, that Johnson now finds himself presiding over the economically wettest Tory administration for decades. But if its meaning has become untethered from the intra-party battles of the 1980s, its symbolism is still potent: to be “wet” in the Tory lexicon is to be snivelling, cowardly, afraid to take tough decisions. In the current climate, this appears to mean seeing nuance, pausing to reflect and considering consequences. Johnson’s penchant for vague but emotionally loaded language may fire up those who respond to this kind of manipulation, but it certainly doesn’t make for good government.

  99. says

    Thanks so much, blf @ #157! No one else seemed to be commenting on it, so I partially assumed it must be a British thing, but I’d never seen it before so I had my doubts. Explained!

  100. says

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

    From there:

    They have a graphic showing the number of vaccines in different research stages globally:

    Pre-clinical: 139
    Phase 1: 25
    Phase 2: 15
    Phase 3: 7
    Approved: 0

    The compulsory wearing of facemasks outdoors in Paris to curb the spread of Covid-19 is set to be broadened further, the French prime minister, Jean Castex, said, amid concern over an “undeniable” trend of increasing infections in France.

    Castex said 19 more departments have been added to a map with “red” zones of active virus circulation, meaning 21 of the country’s 94 departments are classified as such.

    Official figures released on 26 August also showed more than 5,400 confirmed new cases in just 24 hours, with admissions to hospital and intensive care units on the rise.

    Castex said the final details on how this would take effect would follow a consultation with the Paris local government and police force.

    At the moment, the wearing of face masks outdoors is compulsory in much of Paris but is not obligatory in certain parts, such as public parks or some of the less busy streets of the capital.

  101. says

    Politics.co.uk – “The UK is facing down Covid without turning to religion”:

    In the past, people were more likely to turn to religion during times of crisis than look to other sources of guidance. But there has always been an alternative: the humanist approach. And in today’s UK, where most people are now not religious, that alternative is more relevant than ever.

    Now, with the fragility of life so clear to us all, we’re all emerging from a crisis with a desire for a new social morality – one that recognises our interdependence in this world and provides guidance, comfort and inspiration even during times like these.

    For the majority of Brits – more than 52% of whom identify as non-religious – this is the first time in living history that a crisis has been met without religion. In reaction to chaos, uncertainty and great loss, society faced the coronavirus pandemic with reason and science. It has rejected historical explanations involving deities and the supernatural, and condemned those that spread damaging conspiracy theories, fake news and quack cures….

    This is a very rosy view of things, but the broader phenomenon deserves attention.

  102. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The German government has rejected calls for a relaxation of its measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis, and is instead seeking countrywide consensus for stricter regulations, according to media reports.

    A draft proposal, dubbed ‘Merkel’s secret plan’ by national media, after the chancellor Angela Merkel signalled she wanted a nationwide strategy, would foresee the banning of large gatherings at least until the end of the year, the restriction of private gatherings and the introduction of a countrywide fine for those refusing to wear face coverings.

    The draft was leaked to several news outlets on Thursday morning ahead of a much anticipated video conference between Merkel and the leaders of the country’s 16 states at which she will urge them to adopt regulations which would apply nationwide.

    So far Germany’s approach to the crisis has been very much state-driven, with a high degree of disagreement over the prevention measures according to how badly an individual state had been hit by the pandemic, resulting in confusion and constant bickering between regions.

    Since the daily infection rate has been on the rise for the past month, with winter approaching, and the infection expected to continue to spread, there has been a growing consensus that Germany needs a unified approach, not least for citizens moving from one state to another.

    By lunchtime it was reported that most state leaders agreed to back the fine for non-wearers of masks, but that other proposals were being strenuously argued against.

  103. blf says

    ‘I was selling honey to survive.’ Then Mel Gibson threatened to sue:

    […]
    It was a venture born of desperation. Four months into quarantine, Yohana Agurto, an unemployed teacher in Chile, was scrolling through social media to take her mind off her dwindling savings and the four children she had to feed. Inspiration struck when she and her boyfriend came across a post with a photo of the American actor Mel Gibson. Agurto remembered she had a large stash of organic honey in the pantry. Mel sounds quite similar to the Spanish word for honey, miel. So on a whim, Agurto had a graphic designer friend sketch out a logo with a scene from the movie Braveheart, printed a handful at home and glued them onto glass jars.

    That was the origin of Miel Gibson, the tiniest and scrappiest of businesses, which catered, according to the label, “Only to the brave.” She advertised on social media and by word-of-mouth, picking up enough orders to keep her reasonably busy and the family’s bills paid. Then last week a most unwelcome email popped into Agurto’s inbox with the subject line: “Cease and Desist / Miel Gibson.”

    […]

    At first Agurto entertained the possibility the whole thing could be a cruel joke, but when it became clear it was a real legal threat, she panicked. […]

    After a couple sleepless nights, Agurto decided she had invested too much time and effort in her artisanal honey brand to simply shut it down. She reflected on how much she admired William Wallace, the Scottish warrior Gibson played in Braveheart, and decided to go public about the legal threat.

    Her plight got plenty of sympathetic press coverage in Chile and beyond, free legal advice and a torrent of new orders. On Monday, Agurto said messages from would-be customers were streaming in by text message and on her social media accounts faster than she could read them.

    […]

    Regardless of how the matter gets resolved, Agurto said she would love to send a courtesy sample of Miel Gibson to Mel Gibson. She wants him to know, she added, that the ordeal has not made her any less of a fan. “My motivation was not to profit by using the image of a famous person,” she said. “I was selling honey to survive.”

    The image used on Miel Gibson’s label (see image at the link) — which Ms Agurto apparently is planning to replace — is of William Wallace as played by Mr Gibson. That and the second part of the name are the only explicit “uses” of Mr Gibson’s name and/or likeness and/or biography, as that ridiculous threat put it. (Think Andy Warhol’s Campbells Soup Cans art for an analogy.) Her slogan should perhaps bee “So good the lawyers tried to ban it!”

  104. blf says

    Update to @162, Multiple reports indicate Ms Agurto has reached an ageement with Mr Gibson’s lawyers: Just change the image. The name and current slogan is fine, but not an artwork based on a real-life character played by Mr Gibson. (There are quite a number of public domain images of Mr Wallace she could use, albeit none — that I can recall or quickly find — that are as dramatic (fictionalised) as Mr Gibson’s likeness.)

  105. says

    Slate – “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups”:

    On Wednesday, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested in Illinois on charges of first-degree murder after allegedly shooting and killing two protesters the night before during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake earlier this week.

    During the Kenosha Police Department’s first press conference in response to the Blake shooting and subsequent protests, Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed the unidentified victims in Tuesday night’s shooting for their own deaths, saying the violence was the result of the “persons” involved violating curfew:

    Persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance, and persons were shot. Everybody involved was out after the curfew. I’m not going to make a great deal of that, but the point is the curfew is in place to protect. Had persons not been out involved in violation of that, perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened.

    “It is the persons who were involved after the legal time, involved in illegal activity, that brought violence to this community,” Miskinis added later, seeming to blame protesters who were on the streets because a member of Miskinis’ department, who was identified late on Wednesday as Officer Rusten Sheskey, shot Blake seven times in the back as his children watched.

    Miskinis would not give the names of the “persons” who were the victims of Wednesday’s murders, but did say they were “a 26-year-old Silver Lake resident and a 36-year-old Kenosha resident.”

    In describing the shooting of two protesters, Miskinis also declined to call it a homicide and instead referred to it by various euphemisms often used to describe killings by a police officer, which Rittenhouse is not. He said that the shooter “was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place” and that there was a “disturbance that led to the use of deadly force.”

    Additionally, Miskinis refused to comment on the video of Blake’s shooting, but offered that there may have been a reasonable explanation for the man being shot seven times in the back, which has reportedly left him paralyzed and in critical condition. (The officer has been put on administrative leave and has not been fired or arrested.)

    “I’m not going to address that [video] because it is one snippet of a very large situation and much as what’s happened across this nation for a long period of time, it’s focused on what you see in this much of an incident,” Miskinis said, apparently alluding to other police shootings of unarmed Black men. “It’s unfair to everybody involved, whether you’re the person using force or the person being arrested that the picture isn’t painted.”

    Video taken on Tuesday before the shooting showed Rittenhouse gathered with what appeared to be members of armed militia groups. Those vigilante groups had gathered on Tuesday night, it was reported by CNN and the Verge, in response to calls on Facebook for “any patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city tonight from the evil thugs.”

    When asked about the vigilante groups, Miskinis defended them as civilians out to protect property and “exercise their constitutional right.”

    “Across this nation there have been armed civilians who have come out to exercise their constitutional right and to potentially protect property,” he said. “Am I aware that groups exist? Yes, but they weren’t invited to come.”

    Miskinis’ views of the gathering of vigilante groups that reportedly led to the killing of two local men appears to be very much in line with those of his department. Before the shooting, officers in armored vehicles could be seen giving water to armed men gathered with the alleged shooter and telling them, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” After the killings, the alleged shooter walked slowly past a series of police vehicles with his arms raised and was allowed to simply walk away. (It’s not yet clear what the officers knew about the shooting at the time, but the shots were audible in nearby footage.)

    When asked why his officers had given the armed men water and thanked them, Miskinis said, “Our deputies would toss a water to anybody” and “You’re asking me to tell you what one person did. I can’t tell you that.” In explaining why his officers were able to show such restraint with Tuesday’s shooter, he blamed the “high stress” situation on the scene and possible “tunnel vision” on the part of his officers.

    “I’m not making an excuse. I’m just telling you from personal experience what could have done that,” he said.

    Toward the end of his comments, Miskinis was asked about the vigilante groups and again compared them to the protesters who had violated curfew, saying both sides were to blame.

    “It’s no different than those on the protesters’ side who are walking around armed and those who are counterprotesters, or those who are just witnessing, to be armed, so I’m not going to address any more issues relative to that,” he said.

    When asked if he wanted the vigilante groups to be present again after Wednesday night’s curfew, Miskinis refused to reply….

    This man should not be in this job. This police department needs a complete overhaul.

  106. blf says

    A few snippets from a long article in the Irish Tmes, Irish people have a distorted view of the realities of their country:

    Anyone questioning why a report highlighting the disconnect between how our world is and how we often think it is goes under the title “the Perils of Perception” need look no further than slightly east and further west towards Brexit and Donald Trump.

    “One type of bias that is not usually referenced in these studies but is hugely influential is the change bias,” [one of the architects of the survey Damien] Loscher says. “Where there is genuine social change happening, people tend to exaggerate the rate or extent of this change.

    “We see this in the public’s overestimation of immigration, social media usage, urbanisation or the proportion of young people still living at home with their parents. Probably this perception reality-gap is driven by a combination of social change being especially newsworthy or interesting, and our primitive programming that sensitises us to any changes in our environment.”

    One area where there is a lower gap between the perception and the reality is the gender divide. When asked how much of every €100 men earn do women earn, the perception was €74.70 compared with a reality of €73. When asked how many out of every 100 graduates in Ireland are women, people guessed 53.6 per cent on average — which was almost exactly right. The correct figure is 53 per cent.

    Loscher says that if the last century was about state-sponsored propaganda artfully delivered via central channels, this one is about “scrolling your smartphone and picking out the juiciest headlines which can often see people drifting further away from the truth”.

    [… People in Ireland] still get most of our news from established media brands, albeit via a wider selection of channels, including digital. The Reuters Institute 2020 Digital News Report confirms big screen brands such as RTÉ [Ireland’s “BBC”], Sky and BBC still dominate, with the growing online news market led by familiar names wearing new digital clothes: you may be reading this on your smartphone, but you are still reading The Irish Times.

    There is a growing perception that social media now dominates as a source of news, but perception is not reality. [Ireland], as a nation, spend more time listening to the radio than we spend on social media. We spend more hours each day watching the big screen than we do watching our small screens.

    There is a lot of comfort to be taken from this, because people trust the news they get from TV, radio and newspapers much more than they trust social media news. When asked specifically about information on the Covid-19 crisis, new media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) were given a trust rating of less than half that awarded to TV, radio or to newspapers.

    [… G]aps between perception and reality are not always the result of misinformation. Much of the population are simply not comfortable with numbers and struggle to understand even simple mathematical concepts. In fact, when it comes to perceptions, we are more likely to trick ourselves than be tricked.

    […] Bobby Duffy noted that countless experiments had shown that around 10 percent of the public don’t understand simple percentages, never mind more complex maths. The likelihood is that many, if not most, of today’s population are not equipped to navigate the oceans of data we all must swim through every day.

    Even if we understand the numbers, human beings can be irrational in our interpretation. Perceptions are formed in a petri dish of human biases and animal instincts. We screen out, consciously and unconsciously, information that is not aligned with our world view, creating the oft-cited echo chamber. […]

    Anyone else find “10% don’t understand percentages” ironic?

    How we react to protect and promote news and data integrity is something that should concern us all. Media literacy initiatives such as the Be Media Smart campaign, organised by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and supported by almost all Irish media outlets, are to be welcomed. Long reads and slow journalism are gaining traction. But so much more needs to be done.

    Ultimately, there is no reliable data to confirm or deny that the gaps between perception and reality are growing, but the anecdotal evidence is compelling. We only know, confirmed by the latest Perils of Perceptions study, that significant gaps exist.

    Whilst the data and examples are very specifically Irish, the entire article is worth a read. It’s in two sections; the first is the data for Ireland, the second is on why people get things wrong (“Analysis: How we react to protect and promote news and data integrity should concern us all […]”).

  107. johnson catman says

    re SC @164: Someone should have asked Miskinis if being out after curfew was a capital crime worthy of being killed. Not that he would have answered.

  108. says

    Reuters – “Tech firms threaten to quit Belarus after crackdown, internet outages”:

    For Belarus’s thriving tech industry, it didn’t matter much that the country’s president referred to the internet as “garbage” and state factories as the engine of economic success. Until now.

    The sector could become a casualty of weeks of violent political crisis in the east European country, putting at risk a source of foreign income that is worth 5% of exports.

    The staff of international IT companies have joined mass protests and are threatening to quit Belarus after the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko on August 9 that his opponents say was rigged.

    Stories of tortured detainees and the sight of plainclothes officers grabbing protesters off the street made working life difficult for the Minsk employees of the California-based software-maker PandaDoc, its chief executive Mikita Mikado said.

    “Everyone in the IT community, all Belarusians inside the country and outside the country were shocked. They were shocked by how blatantly the elections were rigged and by how much violence was applied afterwards,” said Mikado.

    An internal survey showed 83% of PandaDoc’s employees in the country want to relocate. “If this government stays, there will be no PandaDoc in Belarus,” Mikado added.

    At least three protesters have been killed and thousands, including PandaDoc employees, were detained.

    The Belarus Hi-Tech Park, a hub on the eastern outskirts of Minsk, has grown to 750 companies since its launch in 2006, employing 58,000 people and earning $2 billion in exports, according to government figures from 2019-end.

    Wargaming, which created the globally popular World of Tanks game, has a major operation in Minsk, as does U.S.-based EPAM Systems…, founded by two Belarusians in 1993.

    Belarusian software engineers are also behind Japanese-controlled Viber messenger.

    The park benefited from tax breaks and the ability to tap an educated local workforce. Belarus has a strong tradition of science and engineering education, as do many other former Soviet states. As protests broke out, IT workers formed human chains on the street in solidarity. They created platforms for tracing people who went missing during the crackdown and collecting funds for the victims.

    EPAM launched a retraining programme for people to start a career in IT if they were fired for supporting the opposition.

    EPAM’s founder Arkady Dobkin was a signatory to an open letter calling for the release of prisoners and new elections.

    “Start-ups are not born in an atmosphere of fear and violence,” the letter said. “In the near future, we will begin to observe a massive outflow of specialists abroad.”

    The chief executive of Rakuten Viber, Djamel Agaoua, told Forbes[dot]ru the company may halt investments. Agaoua said two of Viber’s employees were detained during the crackdown, one of whom ended up in hospital.

    As the protests gathered steam, internet outages hit Belarus over several days, disrupting the flow of messages, news and videos shared on social media by the demonstrators. The government blamed the internet shutdown on outside interference.

    “Not even the police brutality was the most surprising event in Belarus, but the fact that internet has been shut off completely,” said Michael Rumiantsau, the Belarusian co-founder of the software company FriendlyData, which was sold to ServiceNow[dot]Inc.

    “It’s just unbelievable for the U.S. partners, for the U.S. clients who think this can be compared to the situation in North Korea or some other countries with totalitarian regimes,” he told Reuters from Mountain View, California.

    Minsk’s IT park was created by former Belarusian ambassador to Washington Valery Tsepkalo, now an opposition figure in exile. He told Reuters the park showed “Belarus can be associated not only with farmers and with potatoes.”

    In 2016 the park accounted for 1.5% of gross domestic product. By last year, it shot up to 6.1%, but that growth is now at risk.

    “Belarusian tech is going to suffer because talent is going to be seeking ways to escape the country,” Mikado said.

  109. blf says

    White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says:

    A former FBI agent has documented links between serving officers and racist militant activities in more than a dozen states

    […]

    In a timely new analysis, Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.

    The report notes that over the years, police links to militias and white supremacist groups have been uncovered in states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

    Police in Sacramento, California, in 2018 worked with neo-Nazis to pursue charges against anti-racist activists, including some who had been stabbed, according to records.

    And just this summer, German writes, an Orange county sheriff’s deputy and a Chicago policeman were caught wearing far-right militia logos; an Olympia, Washington, officer was photographed posing with a militia group; and Philadelphia police officers were filmed standing by while armed mobs attacked protesters and journalists.

    The exact scale of ties between law enforcement and militias is hard to determine, German told the Guardian. “Nobody is collecting the data and nobody is actively looking for these law enforcement officers,” he said.

    Officers’ racist activities are often known within their departments and generally result in punishment or termination following public scandals, the report notes. Few police agencies have explicit policies against affiliating with white supremacist groups. […]

    […] Police in states including California, Oregon, Illinois and Washington are now facing investigations for their alleged affinity to far-right groups opposing Black Lives Matter, according to the report.

    […]

    There is growing awareness in some parts of the government about the intensifying threat of white supremacy. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have directly identified white supremacists as the most lethal domestic terrorist threat in the country. According to German’s report, the FBI’s own internal documents have directly warned that the militia groups the agency is investigating often have “active links” to law enforcement.

    And yet US agencies lack a national strategy to identify white supremacist police and root out this problem, German warned. Meanwhile, popular police reform efforts to address “implicit bias” have done nothing to confront explicit racism.

    […]

    As the calls to defund police have grown in recent months, law enforcement alignment with violent and racist groups only adds further fuel to the movement, German said. “In a time when the effort to defund police is getting some salience, the police are behaving in such a way as to justify that argument.”

  110. says

    Employees of Belarusian cardiology centre, a well-known medical institution,collected signatures in support of fired director Aliaksandr Mrochak. When acting minister of health came to the centre to announce the dismissal of Mrochak,the employees chanted ‘Shame!’ to the official…”

    Employees of Belarusian cardiology centre support fired director Alexander Mrochek, who was blamed for doctors’ participation in protests….”

    In #Minsk, women are forming a human chain of solidarity outside the Red Church,where dozens of people where blocked by riot police yesterday. Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz said he ‘protests against the illegal actions of law enforcement that should be investigated’…”

    #Belarus How fluid these protests and protest locations are. Medical workers and employees ofBelarusian cardiology centre gathered at the centre.They are now marching to the Red Church,where dozens of people were blocked yesterday by riot police.They are chanting Long Live Belarus”

  111. says

    David Corn at MoJo – “New Hot-Mic Video: What Trump Told His Lawyer When He Didn’t Know a Camera Was Rolling”:

    On December 10, 2015, Donald Trump took time off from campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination to spend hours sitting for a videotaped deposition in a lawsuit alleging that he and Trump University had defrauded people who had plunked down thousands of dollars to learn the secrets of his financial success as a developer. During a break in the proceedings, the camera continued to roll. And Trump and his attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, apparently unaware they were being recorded, were captured discussing the case.

    In this 13-minute hot-mic video—a copy of which was provided to Mother Jones—Trump boasted about how his company threatened the Better Business Bureau to change the D rating it had assigned Trump University to an A. He complained about the federal judge overseeing the suit, Gonzalo Curiel, elliptically talking about how to challenge him and referring to “the Spanish thing.” Trump also griped that he had been sued personally in this case, and Petrocelli had to explain to Trump that he, not just Trump University itself, was in the legal crosshairs because Trump had been accused of making false statements to promote the venture. And Petrocelli pointed out that the case was not a lock for Trump because some of Trump’s “guys” had been “sloppy.”

    This tape shows Trump in the wild, trying to figure out how to contend with a judge who he believed was not on his side (perhaps with the use of a racist attack), bragging about pressuring a group that had given his business a low rating, and grousing that he was being held personally responsible for a Trump enterprise accused of scamming people.

    Art Cohen, the lead plaintiff in one of two Trump University class-action lawsuits, gave a copy of this recording to Mother Jones. “I wanted to get this out before the election so people better understand how Trump behaves behind the scenes,” Cohen says. “Staying quiet all this time has been frustrating for me, and I wish everybody had gotten the chance to see Trump’s behavior as I did before the 2016 election. With 20/20 vision, we now have the opportunity to better understand his true nature and the gangster persona he shows in this video.” Cohen maintains that Trump’s ability to avoid a trial during the campaign cleared a major political obstacle for him, and he adds, “The Trump University legal saga is a footnote to history, but it helped Trump hone his blueprint for attacking the judiciary by publicly berating judges he deems adversarial.”

    Mother Jones sent Petrocelli a list of questions about the conversation, which took place with several other people in the room. In response, Martin Checov, the general counsel of O’Melveny & Myers—the law firm where Petrocelli practices—sent a letter to Mother Jones, “on behalf of Trump University and President Donald J. Trump,” demanding that Mother Jones “not publish the video or any article relating to it and immediately destroy the video.”…

    Corn’s video with clips, the full recording, amd more atl. Two side notes: Trump looks remarkably like Boris Johnson in this video. Also, they have it as “[unintelligible],” but I think Trump says it was Michael Cohen who called the BBB threatening to sue over the low rating for his fraudulent “university.”

  112. says

    Jim Sciutto:

    I asked Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtagh five times if the president accepts any responsibility for lives lost from Covid.

    On the 5th try, I got this: “THE PRES. HAS ACCEPTED RESPONSIBILITY FOR BEING THE ONE WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE UNPRECEDENTED AMERICAN RESPONSE TO THIS.”

  113. tomh says

    Gun Rights
    August 26, 2020

    MANHATTAN — The Second Circuit upheld the dismissal of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association’s claims that the state’s requirement that anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon outside the home had to show a “proper cause” to do so [violates the 2nd Amendment]. The requirement does not violate the Second Amendment, the court ruled.

  114. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    New cases of Covid-19 continue to increase rapidly in Italy, as on Thursday 1,411 have tested positive in the last 24 hours. This is country’s highest daily tally since 6 May.

    On Wednesday, Italy reported 1,367 new cases. Five more people have died with the virus in the last 24 hours, and the death toll now stands at 35,463. The total number of cases is now up to 263,949.

    One cluster in particular is raising concerns among Italian health authorities as they are trying to trace visitors to former Formula One team boss Flavio Briatore’s Sardinian nightclub, after more than 60 confirmed Covid cases were linked to the venue.

    Billionaire, on Sardinia’s Emerald Coast, has hosted thousands of guests in August, including hundreds of Italian and international VIPs. On Tuesday, Briatore was confirmed to have tested positive for Covid-19 after being admitted to hospital in Milan, according to a statement from his staff.

    Officials are now facing the challenge of contacting everyone who has been at the club in recent weeks, Italian media reports suggest. Billionaire welcomed between 8,000 and 11,000 guests in the first weeks of August and authorities fear many registered with false names or phone numbers.

  115. blf says

    UK’s rating of its Covid-19 response lowest of 14 countries in poll :

    […]
    People in Britain have given a worse assessment of their country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak than the electorates of 13 other leading democracies, according to international research.

    Only 46% of the British population believe their country has done a good job handling coronavirus, the Pew Centre has found. By contrast, 71% of people in Sweden think their country has done a good job, and the figures rise to 86% in South Korea, 88% in Germany, 94% in Australia and 95% in Denmark.

    In France, which has Europe’s third-highest official death toll after the UK and Italy, 59% think their country has done well.

    The only other country rating itself as badly as the UK is the US, where 47% of voters think their country has done a good job. These are the only two in the poll where a majority believe their country has not handled the epidemic well.

    […]

    The survey reveals high levels of confidence in democracies, contradicting the common narrative that authoritarian governments have been the great winners in the pandemic. Multilateralists have cause for optimism since a majority of those polled believe greater international cooperation could have reduced the impact of the pandemic.

    The poll, the first international comparative poll by Pew on the pandemic, suggests the disease has had a divisive effect on the sense of national unity in many of the countries surveyed.

    A median of 46% of voters feel more national unity now than before the outbreak, while 48% think divisions have grown. The polarisation is greatest in the US: 77% of Americans say the country is more divided than before the pandemic, while just 18% believe the country is more united.

    […]

    In Europe, those who have favourable opinions of rightwing populist parties such as [Alternative für Deutschland] are more likely than those in the centre and on the left to say division has grown since the outbreak. This may reflect rightwing resentment at what is seen as big government imposing lockdowns and mandating the wearing of masks in public.

    [… more details and results…]

    The survey also found that in most countries women more than men reported that their lives had changed considerably due to the pandemic. Pew suggests this may be because of a disproportionate loss of part-time jobs, or the closure of schools leading to an increase in domestic pressures.

    […]

  116. blf says

    Banksy funds refugee rescue boat operating in Mediterranean:

    UK artist finances bright pink motor yacht that set sail in secrecy to avoid being intercepted by authorities

    […]

    The vessel, named Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, set off in secrecy on 18 August from the Spanish seaport of Burriana, near Valencia, and is now in the central Mediterranean where on Thursday it rescued 89 people in distress, including 14 women and four children.

    It is now looking for a safe seaport to disembark the passengers or to transfer them to a European coastguard vessel.

    The crew, made up of European activists with long experience in search and rescue operations, had already assisted in two other rescue operations involving a total of 105 people, who are now onboard the NGO vessel Sea-Watch 4.

    Painted in bright pink and featuring Banksy artwork depicting a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy, the Louise Michel sails under a German flag. The 31-metre motor yacht, formerly owned by French customs authorities, is smaller but considerably faster than other NGO rescue vessels.

    Banksy’s involvement in the rescue mission goes back to September 2019 when he sent an email to Pia Klemp, the former captain of several NGO boats that have rescued thousands of people over recent years.

    “Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” he wrote. “I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”

    […]

    She [Captain Pia Klemp] has made clear that Banksy’s involvement in the operations is limited to providing financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists.”

    With a top speed of 27 knots, the Louise Michel would be able to “hopefully outrun the so-called Libyan coastguard before they get to boats with refugees and migrants and pull them back to the detention camps in Libya”, said Klemp.

    Non-state sea rescuers have long criticised the mass return of migrants to Libya by the Libyan coastguard in collaboration with EU member states. International organisations have accused the Libyan coastguard of mistreating people at sea or selling them off to militias at Libyan harbours after intercepting them.

    […]

    Lea Reisner, a nurse and head of mission for the first rescue operation, said the project was anarchist at its heart, meant to bring together a variety of struggles for social justice, including for women’s and LGBTIQ rights, racial equality, migrants’ rights, environmentalism and animal rights.

    […]

    So far in 2020, more than 500 refugees and migrants are known to have died in the Mediterranean sea, and the real number is estimated to be considerably higher. On Wednesday, 45 people — including five children — died when the engine on their boat exploded off Libya, in the country’s deadliest shipwreck this year, the UN said. More than 19,500 migrants have survived the Mediterranean crossing along the central maritime route this year and reached Italy or Malta.

    Claire Faggianelli, an activist who prepared the Louise Michel for its first mission, saw the project as a wake-up call for Europe. “We really want to try to awaken the consciousness of Europe and say: ‘Look, we have been yelling at you for years now. There is something that shouldn’t be happening at the very borders of Europe, and you close your eyes to it. Wake up!’” she said.

  117. blf says

    Face mask recycling: French firm finds way to re-use Covid waste (some minor edits for readability (unmarked)):

    Face masks have become a key tool in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic but they are also proving a major new source of pollution, with used masks seen littering streets, countryside and waterways across the world. Now, a French start-up believes it has a solution.

    Since mid-July, Plaxtil, a firm in Châtellerault, centre-west France, has been recycling thousands of face masks, turning the potentially hazardous waste into useful products.

    [… T]he masks are collected and placed in “quarantine” for four days. They are then ground down into small pieces and subjected to ultraviolet light to ensure they are completely decontaminated before the recycling process begins.

    “Concretely, we take fabrics, so clothes — or now, masks — we collect them, we grind them down, mix them with a binding material, and we transform them into a material that is called Plaxtil, which can be used in industry and moulded like normal plastic,” said [Plaxtil co-founder Olivier] Civil.

    Plaxtil says the masks could be turned into a vast array of different objects, but for the moment it is turning them into products that can be used in the fight against Covid, such as plastic visors.

    Plaxtil says it has already recycled more than 50,000 masks, producing between 2,000 and 3,000 recycled products since the end of June.

  118. says

    SC @160, meanwhile, in the USA religion is making the coronavirus pandemic worse. Many religious meetings are still being held with no social distancing, no masks, and in defiance of state regulations.

    Some religious organizations back off once the pastor (or equivalent) gets sick, along a good percentage of the worshippers. Some have to be taken to court before they comply with state regulations.

    Many religious organizations continue to defy common sense rules when it comes to a contagious disease. Some back Trump and Pence’s “miracle” concept when it comes to ending the COVID-19 infections.

  119. says

    Steve Rosenberg, BBC:

    Tonight we were detained by police in the centre of Minsk, held at a police station for two hours for “document checks”. Same thing happened to many other journalists. A clear attempt to interfere with coverage of events in #Belarus

    Detaining BBC journalists is an escalation.

  120. lumipuna says

    Somewhat comically, trade and travel restrictions seem to have created an illegal cheese smuggling industry from Finland to Russia (link in Finnish):

    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11511992

    (Disclaimer: the cheese in question might not impress Mildly Deranged Penguin, since it’s the sort of cheap bland stuff that North Europeans like to eat for breakfast)

    Background: Finnish cheese is incredibly popular with Russians who live within shopping distance of the border (mainly St. Petersburg). There’s some quality issues with Russian food products, especially dairy products, that make wealthier people prefer high quality foreign produce. Finnish dairy brands were increasingly exported to Russia by early 2010s, but individual Russians visiting Finland also continued to shop a lot of cheese, among other things. There’s this consumer perception that buying directly from Finnish retail stores is the best guarantee of quality.

    Besides, you could import 5 kg of cheese per traveler to Russia duty free, after buying it tax free (Some grocery stores near the southeastern border were allowed to make tax free sale arrangements for people with Russian passports). To increase the import quota, shoppers sometimes recruited old ladies to sit in their car – these are called “kilogram grannies”, or perhaps one might say in English “kilograns”. Sometimes, larger amounts of cheese would be smuggled in cars past the customs.

    Then there was the Crimean occupation, and mutual trade sanctions between EU and Russia. The end of official food exports to Russia was a significant hit for Finnish food industry. Dairy companies scrabbled to increase their brand production in Russia, from locally sourced milk, while trying to maintain their reputation for high quality. Meanwhile, individual Russian people continued shopping cheese in Finland “for personal consumption”.

    Then there was Covid-19, ending virtually all passenger traffic (but not cargo truck traffic) across the border. Russian epidemic situation being what it is, EU or Finland will likely continue to restrict travel from Russia for a long while. Russia also currently continues to restrict travel from the EU, if only on spite. Since almost no Russians can shop in Finland, sales in grocery stores and many other shops near the southeastern border have collapsed. However, there have been reports of individual Russian nationals asking to buy unusually large amounts of cheese (like, hundreds of kgs) from grocery stores tax free. Finnish authorities presume this cheese is being smuggled in cargo trucks past Russian customs.

    (Cue images of Mildly Deranged Penguin trebucheting hundreds of 1 kg consumer packages of bland cheese across the border from Finland to Russia, risking to escalate an armed conflict between the countries)

  121. says

    Excerpts from the Washington Post link to which SC referred in comment 180:

    The Secret Service had asked for a room close to [Trump]. But Mar-a-Lago said it was too late. The room was booked. Would agents like a room across the street from [Trump], instead?

    “I do have a Beach Cabana available,” a staff member at Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla., wrote in March 2017 to a Secret Service agent seeking rooms for the upcoming weekend. “Across the street at the Beach Club, North end of the pool.”

    The next time, the Secret Service didn’t take the same risk. It paid Mar-a-Lago to book rooms for two weeks at a time — locking them up before the club could rent them to others, according to newly released records and emails.

    For Trump’s club, it appeared, saying no to the Secret Service had made it a better customer. The agency was paying for rooms on nights when Trump wasn’t even visiting — to be ready just in case Trump decided to go […]

    Trump has now visited his own properties 270 times as president […] with another visit planned for Thursday, when he is scheduled to meet GOP donors at his Washington hotel.

    Through these trips, Trump has brought the Trump Organization a stream of private revenue from federal agencies and GOP campaign groups. Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel […]

    new federal spending documents obtained by The Post via a public-records lawsuit give more detail about how the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service […] In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.

    […] But the most frequent way Trump is known to have helped his properties has been just to visit them, with the vast, big-spending presidential entourage in tow.

    […] The Trump Organization provided a statement saying that it has complied with promises it made before Trump took office. The company said it has rejected all new foreign deals and donated any profits from doing business with foreign governments.

    […] Eric Trump did not directly address questions about the Trump Organization’s charges to the U.S. government.

    […] Trump chose to keep ownership of his business while in office. […] Trump made two sets of promises.
    One set governed the Trump Organization, to keep Trump’s business away from his presidency.

    The company, now led by Trump’s two adult sons, said it would exclude the president from decision-making, refuse any new overseas deals and give back any profits it made from doing business with foreign governments.
    The other set governed Trump personally: He said he would keep his presidency far away from his business.
    […]

    “I may never see these places again,” Trump said during a rally in August 2016. “Because I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf. Believe me.”

    In response to questions for this report, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that […]
    “The Washington Post is blatantly interfering with the business relationships of the Trump Organization, and it must stop. Please be advised that we are building up a very large ‘dossier’ on the many false David Fahrenthold and others stories as they are a disgrace to journalism and the American people.”

    […] recently, The Post received 265 pages of receipts and emails that the Secret Service released this month, in response to The Post’s lawsuit, and that provided new details about previously identified payments to Trump properties.

    These show that Trump’s pledge to isolate himself did not survive his first two weeks in office. On his 15th day as president, he went to Mar-a-Lago. And the end of his literal isolation also ended his financial isolation: Trump’s visit brought the club a new, deep-pocketed customer.

    […] The Secret Service paid $10,660 for the weekend, federal records show. […]

    Last year, for instance, Eric Trump said that the company charges taxpayers “like 50 bucks” for rooms used by his father’s aides and Secret Service agents.

    But The Post has found no evidence to support that assertion. Instead, the Trump Organization charged rates as high as $650 per night for rooms at Mar-a-Lago and $17,000 per month for a cottage at Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J. […]

    The newly obtained federal records showed other instances in which the Trump Organization charged the government rates far above what Eric Trump claimed.

    […] The Trump Organization did not say why it had charged resort fees to working Secret Service agents.

    […]Trump’s children and grandchildren also visited Trump properties repeatedly, bringing their own taxpayer-funded Secret Service details.

    In September 2017, for instance, Donald Trump Jr. stayed at the Trump hotel near the White House while in Washington to testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. His Secret Service detail reported paying the hotel $3,300 for rooms over two days […]

    […] Another former Trump administration official said that Trump’s logic for these trips was one that turned his initial promise — to steer clear of his business interests — on its head. As Trump saw it, the official said, people didn’t expect him to stay away.

    […] The hotel has been a hub of activity all week for top donors and Trump supporters, with panels and private events led by senior Trump administration officials ahead of the Republican National Convention speech […]

    […] It was an unusual thing — a sitting president, taping a White House message meant only for private clients of his company. “So many of my friends are with you tonight. They’re in that beautiful ballroom,” Trump said. “Have an incredible evening. I’ll be there next year.”

    That promise, Trump kept.

    This January, when the police foundation held another gala in Mar-a-Lago’s huge ballroom, Trump was there in person.

    Link

  122. tomh says

    EPA Approval of Lax Emissions Plan for Pennsylvania Tossed Out
    August 27, 2020 EMILEE LARKIN

    PHILADELPHIA (CN) — An obvious loophole should have doomed Environmental Protection Agency approval of Pennsylvania’s plan to limit air pollutants, the Third Circuit ruled Thursday.

    “To receive such deference, the agency cannot reach whatever conclusion it likes and then defend it with vague allusions to its own expertise; instead, the agency must support its conclusion with demonstrable reasoning based on the facts in the record,” U.S. Circuit Judge Theodore McKee wrote for a three-judge panel. “When it fails to do so, an agency action is arbitrary and capricious.”
    […]

    Zachary Fabish, attorney for the Sierra Club, lauded the ruling.

    “This decision is a strong rebuke to EPA, and a powerful reminder of the obligation EPA has to protect the public from smog-producing pollution from dirty coal-fired power plants,” said Fabish in a statement. “We hope that EPA will now take steps to prevent the harm to public health and the environment that this power plant pollution causes.”

    McKee was joined in the opinion by U.S. Circuit Judges Robert Nygaard, a Reagan appointee, and Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee.

  123. says

    The best part of Harris’ speech was when she pointed out that the RNC has been about making Trump feel better and guarding his fragile ego when he should be focused on the safety, health, and well-being of the people.

  124. says

    Jobless claims inch lower, but remain above 1 million

    Over the last 22 weeks, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits has topped 1 million a total of 21 times.

    For 20 consecutive weeks, at least 1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits — a total vastly higher than anything the nation saw at the height of the Great Recession. Last week, however, brought some heartening news, as initial jobless claims fell below the seven-digit threshold for the first time since March.

    As we discussed last week, the good news didn’t last long, and the dip below 1 million lasted just one week. The latest report from the Labor Department shows a modest improvement over the previous report, but the totals remain stubbornly highly.

    In the week ending August 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,006,000, a decrease of 98,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 2,000 from 1,106,000 to 1,104,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,068,000, a decrease of 107,250 from the previous week’s revised average.

    […] these 1 million Americans who’ve just filed for jobless benefits are in addition to the totals from the last several weeks. In other words, we’ve seen than 58 million initial unemployment claims filed since mid-March — a total unlike anything the country has seen in modern times.

    A reader recently asked me a good question about this statistic: if 58 million Americans have sought jobless benefits, why do most reports indicate that roughly 31 million Americans are out of work? The answer is, many of those who were forced from the workforce after the crisis began in earnest were laid off temporarily, and have since either returned to their new jobs or found new ones. That said, the fact that there are roughly 31 million Americans still looking for a job is a brutal total by any fair standard.

    This, coupled with today’s discouraging report, reinforce the fact that this is a terrible time to have halted the $600-per-week federal supplement, which expired last month. Nevertheless, the lifeline is gone, unable to overcome Republican opposition. (The $300-per-week stopgap measure recently touted by the Trump White House isn’t yet broadly reaching American households.) […]

  125. says

    How do Trump aides see Kenosha? Here’s @KellyannePolls to Fox this AM on what they see as political upside: ‘The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety, and law and order’.”

    In an interview with Andrea Mitchell earlier, Joe Biden pointed to this quote twice, calling attention to how despicable it is and also how bizarre given that Trump currently occupies the Oval Office.

  126. says

    A snippet from the nonsense and lies spouted by Mike Pence last night:

    My fellow Americans, we are passing through a time of testing. Soon, we will come to a time for choosing. Joe Biden has referred to himself as a transition candidate, and many were asking, ‘Transition to what?’ Last week, Democrats did not talk very much about their agenda. And if I were them, I wouldn’t either.

    Irony meter breakage was extensive.

    Commentary:

    […] Part of the problem, of course, is that Democrats actually spent a fair amount of time last week talking about their agenda. Joe Biden devoted a chunk of his acceptance speech to outlining how he’d address the coronavirus pandemic — the crisis that Pence is ostensibly overseeing the response to.

    But even putting that aside, it was more than a little jarring hearing the vice president complain about Democrats downplaying their agenda given the fact that Pence and his party still don’t have an agenda.

    Last week Democrats […] approved a 91-page platform. Voters who want to know what the party would do if given a chance to govern can read, evaluate, and scrutinize at their leisure.

    Those who aren’t inclined to read the whole document, but who are nevertheless interested in the Democratic ticket’s governing vision, can visit the Biden/Harris website — which, as of this morning, has a robust issues page, fleshing out the Democrats’ plans and blueprints in 45 different policy areas.

    […] Mike Pence’s party for the first time since before the Civil War, didn’t bother to produce a platform at all.

    As we discussed the other day, the president’s re-election campaign did release a 50-point bulleted list of Trump’s priorities for the next four years, but to call the list an agenda would be far too generous: it included goals such as “return to normal in 2021” and “protect our veterans.”

    These hardly count as half-written tweets, much less elements of an incumbent president’s governing agenda.

    And as much as I’d love to link to the issues page on the Trump/Pence website, which should include plenty of plans and blueprints for voters to consider as the Republicans seek another four years in power, no such page currently exists — because the GOP campaign apparently didn’t see the point in creating one. […]

    Does Pence really want to pick a fight over which party is eager to talk about their agenda?

    Link

  127. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 151.

    Republican support for Biden’s candidacy is growing, or, more accurately, Republicans desperate to get rid of Trump are willing to accept Biden.

    […] Former Republican Sen. Bill Cohen of Maine endorsed Biden yesterday, joining more than two dozen other former GOP members of Congress who’ve done the same thing.

    Also making headlines today, more than 100 former staffers for the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are throwing their support behind Biden. Several veterans of Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign are doing the same thing, as are dozens of officials from former President George W. Bush’s team, including two former cabinet secretaries.

    Politico also reported this week, “A group of onetime Republican presidential appointees who served as senior ethics or Justice Department aides are endorsing Joe Biden for president, warning that Donald Trump has “weaponized” the executive branch and is putting in peril the legitimacy of the Justice Department.”

    This comes on the heels of last week’s Democratic convention, when Americans heard from some prominent GOP voices — former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), et al. — who threw their support behind the Democratic ticket. The day after Powell spoke, several dozen Republican national security officials — from the Reagan, Bush/Quayle, and Bush/Cheney administrations — also endorsed Biden.

    […] those who’ve watched the Republican convention closely this week have heard from a handful of Democrats supporting the incumbent president, including a small-town mayor in Minnesota and a state lawmaker in Georgia.

    But to see any kind of equivalency here is ludicrous. […] these isolated voices are often exaggerated to make it appear as if White House hopefuls enjoy broad, bipartisan support.

    But 2020 is qualitatively and quantitatively different. There’s no modern precedent for the sheer volume of high-profile Republicans rallying behind the Democratic ticket.

    […] let’s not overlook another group of voters: traditional Republicans whose support for their party is soft. They reluctantly backed Trump in 2016, largely because of their contempt for Hillary Clinton, and every day since, they’ve grown weary of their president’s tweets, failures, and scandals.

    These voters aren’t satisfied with the status quo, and while they’re reluctant to back a Democratic ticket, they’re open to change. This is a constituency basically waiting for allies to tell them it’s OK to choose Biden over Trump.

    And for this contingent, a whole lot of prominent Republican voices are now encouraging them to do exactly that.

    Link

  128. says

    From the Associated Press:

    U.S. officials said Wednesday there has been no intelligence to suggest that foreign countries are working to undermine mail-in voting and no signs of any coordinated effort to commit widespread fraud through the vote-by-mail process, despite numerous claims made by President Donald Trump in recent months. […]

    A senior official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, asked on a conference call with reporters Wednesday about the threat of foreign countries manufacturing their own ballots or amplifying disinformation about the integrity of the vote-by-mail process, said there was no information or intelligence that any adversary was “engaged in any kind of activity to undermine any part of the mail-in vote.”

    From Trump:

    RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!

    Effing liar.

    William Barr, who is also an effing liar, backed up Trump’s claim.

    The truth:Tthere is no information or intelligence that any adversary is engaged in any kind of activity to undermine any part of the mail-in vote.

  129. says

    Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the Michigan Attorney General are investigating “Racially-Charged’” robocalls spreading Vote-By-Mail disinformation.

    TPM link

    […] Who exactly is behind the calls is still unknown, Benson said. But adding to the confusion is that the calls themselves claim to be from a group run by Jacob Wohl and Jack Burman, two conservative provocateurs who have attempted to use incredibly clownish schemes to spread false allegations against everyone from Robert Mueller to Elizabeth Warren.

    Burkman denied being involved with the robocalls, repeatedly claiming that “nobody doing robo calls would ever put out their own cell number.”

    “[I]’d bet on a [S]oros group trying to embarrass us,” Burkman said, referring to the philanthropist George Soros, who is often the targeted of far-right conspiracy theories. Burkman offered no evidence to back that claim.

    Wohl has also denied involvement, according to the Guardian.

    The calls are being investigated by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who raised concerns that it might be part of a nationwide effort.

    “This is an unfortunate but perfect example of just how low people will go to undermine this election,” Nessel said in a statement. “This robocall is fraught with scare tactics designed to intimidate Black voters — and we are already working hard to find the bad actors behind this effort.”

    The robocall, according to a recording released by Benson, tells recipients falsely that voting by mail will put their information in databases that will be used for tracking down warrants, debt collection and “mandatory vaccines.”

    Benson called the calls an “unconscionable, indefensible, blatant attempt to lie to citizens about their right to vote.”

    “The call preys on voters’ fear and mistrust of the criminal justice system — at a moment of historic reckoning and confrontation of systemic racism and the generational trauma that results — and twists it into a fabricated threat in order to discourage people from voting,” she said.

    A recording of the robocall is available at the link.

  130. says

    Some responses to Jared Kushner’s ill-considered tweet:

    From Charles Pierce: “Chris Paul worked his whole life and won a scholarship to Wake Forest University. Jared Kushner’s father bought the spalpeen’s way into Harvard.”

    From Rex Chapman: “Silver Spoon Jared Kushner calling NBA players “lucky for being able to take a night off from work” is too rich. These are grown men who have worked insanely hard to earn their jobs. Without rich parents. Unlike Jared…”

    From Kevin Kruse: “No one knows more about ‘concrete solutions that are productive’ than Jared Kushner, the man who solved the opioid crisis, brought peace to the Middle East, launched a flawless federal response to the coronavirus …”

    From Holly Figueroa O’Reilly: “Jared Kushner, who has accomplished LITERALLY NOTHING in the 4 years he’s been sycophanting around in the White House, says that LeBron James, who has, since 2005, been a champion of kids, opened a school, and runs a voting rights non-profit, should be ‘productive’.”

    From #JusticeforBreonna Prescod-Weinstein: “My Harvard ‘03 classmate Jared Kushner got in because his parents donated $2.5 million to Harvard. Me? I taught myself to take the SAT there was no $ for a class. Which one of us knows something about earning our position in life, Jared?”

    From Jared Kushner: “NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially. What I’d love to see from the players in the NBA–again they have the luxury of taking a night off from work, most Americans don’t…I’d like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive.”

  131. tomh says

    @ #202
    So many NBA players do a lot of good work, no doubt partly because so many of them came from poverty. When schools closed in March, Steph Curry teamed up with a food bank to provide more than 1 million meals to students in Oakland, who couldn’t attend school but depended on schools for meals. Just one example, there are countless others. What has Kushner done again?

  132. says

    Follow-up to SC @144 and 145.

    The [Tucker Carlson] claim was echoed by conservative blusterer Erick Erickson and by the Trump White House’s most significant architect of white supremacist policies, Stephen Miller. “Do not use a skateboard to attack a man packing a rifle,” a mocking tweet retweeted by Miller declared. It refers to a bystander, now dead, who forfeited his life after attempting to stop Rittenhouse from further violence with nothing more than a skateboard to use as a shield against the gunman’s bullets.

    In prior shootings we were told that burlier-than-average schoolchildren should be taught to “rush” shooters to try to reduce the total number of dead. This time around we are told that rushing an active shooter is adequate legal grounds for the shooter to kill in “self-defense.”

    It is because the killer is allied with conservatism. That is the only reason. That is why archconservative pundits are barking that they want the eager murderer Rittenhouse “as my president” after conducting such heroic killings. If Rittenhouse were the one shot and killed after waving his weapon at protesters, each voice would instead be demanding vengeance, and a militarized response. It takes no time or effort to switch from one to the other.

    Trump is the head not of a conservative movement, but a fascist one. There can be no plausible dispute about this after ticking off each of the markers of historic fascism. It’s the celebration of necessary or redemptive violence that’s ideologically inherent to fascism—the propping up of acts of vigilantism and terrorism against fascism’s targeted enemies, acts deemed good and reasonable and perhaps the only remaining means, laws be damned, of maintaining “order.”

    There will be more, both before and after the election. The defenses of violence are already twisting, in Tucker’s own speech, into notions that it is only natural that vigilante violence will occur if the state is not willing to properly commit the violence itself. The conservative movement intends to broadcast the “need” for such violence as an escalating message. If Tom Cotton cannot rouse the military to suppress the other, the need to maintain order will fall on young Trump supporters willing to do it themselves.

    Link

  133. says

    A video criticizing Trump was issued by VoteVets. The video features a Gold Star father:

    […] A new video released by VoteVets slams Donald Trump for his frivolous, deadly, and demeaning use of our troops. Gold Star father Bill Owens, whose son Ryan, a Navy SEAL, was killed in what many believed to be an ill-advised raid in Yemen, speaks directly to the camera, explaining that Ryan was the “first person to die in combat under Donald Trump. Just five days into his presidency, Trump ordered Ryan’s SEAL team into Yemen. Not from the situation room with all the intelligence assembled but sitting across a dinner table from Steve Bannon.” From there, Owens’ testimonial only gets more damning.

    “There was no vital interest at play just Donald Trump playing big man going to war.” Owens says. The resulting operation was a disaster by most accounts, and Ryan died during the operation. “When it went horribly wrong Donald Trump demeaned my son’s sacrifice to play to the crowd.”

    Owens highlights Trump’s lack of any meaningful acknowledgement of Vladimir Putin’s alleged military bounty on American soldiers in Afghanistan. He also talks about Trump’s dismantling of the U.S. Postal Service, which is a clear attempt at rigging the election. But the final statement Owens makes is probably the most important one for Americans to hear.

    BILL OWENS: Two hundred thousand Americans will have died before we vote. They and Ryan have one thing in common: It didn’t have to be but for Donald Trump. If you hear one thing, let it be this: Don’t trust Donald Trump with your kid’s life, or your own. […]

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

  134. says

    Pence’s speech last night caused other damage:

    When Park Service personnel learned that Donald Trump wanted to hold part of his self-appreciation rally at the 250-year-old Fort McHenry structure, the first thing they worried about was that there could be damage to the historic site. And of course, they were right. […]

    The brick paths and walls of Fort McHenry really were damaged by the cranes and lightning equipment hastily assembled to capture Pence’s speech. And, of course, Trump paid a visit because if there’s a camera on anywhere he feels pain until it is pointed his way. But truthfully, they needn’t of bothered. Trashing the Hatch Act to shoot the convention at the White House was already bad enough. Adding in a structure whose importance had to be explained to the audience did not make things any more impressive. […]

    The purpose of Mike Pence’s speech seemed to be nothing but demonstrating that there was not an atom of division between the Indiana milquetoast and his dear leader. […]

    Link

  135. says

    So, now the report is out. It confirms what we already suspected, “GAO report says cutting census timeframe is a threat to its accuracy.”

    A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published Thursday found that cutting the timeframe in which the 2020 census is conducted could increase the risk for an inaccurate count.

    Among other things, the GAO found the shortened survey period announced earlier this month by the Trump administration puts more pressure on the IT systems door knockers rely on and cuts down the time available to test the response processing operation.

    “These delays, the resulting compressed timeframes, implementation of untested procedures, and additional challenges such as COVID-19 could adversely impact downstream operations, escalate census costs and undermine the overall quality of the count,” the report said.

    The GAO recommended that the Census Bureau hire more workers to follow up on inquiries and invest in safety protocols so workers can continue in-person outreach strategies.

    As of August 10, the Bureau had received responses from 63.4 percent of households and plans to hire up to approximately 435,000 enumerators to follow-up with the approximately 56.4 million non-responding households, according to the GAO.

    Earlier this month, the Trump administration decided to curtail the census’s enumeration period from the end of October to Sept. 30 […]

    Some lawmakers have proposed an extension of the statutory deadlines for the 2020 census in the next coronavirus relief package.

    The census count determines federal funding for states and the makeup of House districts.

    In July, […] Trump issued an order seeking to block undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 census for the purpose of allocating congressional representation, though that measure was met with swift legal challenges.

    Link

  136. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] That Time A Nun And A F’Ball Coach Excommunicated Joe Biden

    There was a whole lot of abortion talk last night, with several speakers praising Donald Trump as being, like Gamera, the friend of little children everywhere, only for the ones who aren’t borned yet. Sister Deirdre Byrne, of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (not to be confused with the Little Sisters of No Socialist Birth Control, who took Obamacare to the Supreme Court), said that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris constitute “the most anti-life presidential ticket ever” — just like every other Democratic ticket does, and spoke an untruth, saying Biden and Harris support “the horrors of late term abortion and infanticide.” We are sure you will be surprised to learn that neither has actually called for infanticide, no matter how much wingnuts say otherwise. Biden, for his part, has indeed called for the Supreme Court’s findings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey to be codified into law, but both those cases only allow abortions up to fetal viability, and don’t allow women to just pop into a clinic in the ninth month of pregnancy and announce they want an abortion.

    Former college football coach Lou Holtz went farther than Sister Dierdre, and announced that despite Biden’s claims of being a Catholic, Holtz knows better, and that — again like every Democratic ticket every four years — “The Biden-Harris ticket is the most radically pro-abortion campaign in history. […] They and other politicians are Catholic in name only and abandon innocent lives.” Now that’s some good ol’ locker room theology!

    Just to make clear that Biden and Harris are utterly without a moral compass, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) chimed in to say that evil Democrats want to fight the pandemic by shutting down America’s churches but want to “keep the liquor stores and abortion clinics open.” Why, it’s almost as if places were being shut down on the basis of how many people are likely to be in them at any given time. Strangely, Blackburn didn’t give Dems any credit at all for closing bars, where people might get drunk, infect each other, and then also have abortions.

    https://www.wonkette.com/rnc-night-three-the-enstupiding

  137. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    A telephone call on coronavirus economic relief between US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an adviser to president Donald Trump has with no breakthrough, and Pelosi said talks would not resume until the Trump administration agreed to $2.2tn in aid.

    Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows spoke by phone for about 25 minutes, the first chance in weeks to resume stalled Covid-19 aid negotiations. But the two sides soon appeared to be as far apart as ever. Pelosi said:

    This conversation made clear that the White House continues to disregard the needs of the American people as the coronavirus crisis devastates lives and livelihoods.

    We’re willing to come down – meet them in the middle – that would be $2.2 trillion, and when they’re ready to do that we’ll be ready to discuss and negotiate the particulars.

    But we can’t go any less because we have to meet the needs of the American people we will not short change them we will not nickel and dime them.

    The talks broke down on 7 August, with the sides far apart on major issues including the size of unemployment benefits for tens of millions of people made jobless by the pandemic, aid for state and local governments and funding for schools and food support programmes.

    The Democratic-controlled House in May passed a $3.4tn coronavirus relief bill but Pelosi offered to reduce that sum by $1tn. The White House, which had proposed $1tn in aid, rejected the offer.

    Democrats have since demanded repeatedly that the White House agree to “meet in the middle”.

    The Pelosi-Meadows phone call came hours before Trump was due to accept his party’s nomination Thursday evening. Some Democrats have said they did not expect the White House to resume negotiations in earnest until after this week’s Republican national convention….

  138. says

    More re #192 from the Guardian world liveblog:

    Texas, Florida, California, New York will not follow new US Covid-19 testing plan

    Several large US states including Texas are not heeding new federal health officials’ calls to reduce Covid-19 testing of some exposed to the virus, joining a broad rebuke of the Trump administration by public health leaders.

    California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and New York all plan to continue to test asymptomatic people who have been exposed to Covid-19, despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting that such tests may not be needed.

    “The current Texas guidance recommends testing for all close contacts of a confirmed case because it allows for early case identification among people who are at a higher risk of infection,” a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services in a statement. “There’s not a planned change at this point.”

    California and New York made similar statements.

    The Florida Department of Health said asymptomatic testing was continuing while the new CDC recommendations were evaluated, and Texas also said it would evaluate.

    Even before the CDC guidance, coronavirus testing in the US had dropped. The US tested on average 675,000 people a day last week, down from a peak in late July of over 800,000 people a day.

    Nationally, cases have fallen for five weeks in a row but infections are surging again in the US Midwest with four states reporting record one-day increases in cases on Thursday as the US death toll climbed above 180,000….

  139. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    You know, given that the Rethugs have over the past few months suggested:
    1) Granny and Gramps have to die for the economy
    2) Your kids need to die for the economy.
    3) That people need to be ready to resort to cannibalism (Limbaugh)
    4) That people need to be ready to go hungry to support losing Rethug senate candidates
    5) That it’s just fine if police beat, gas and shoot protesters and black people
    6) That 180000 deaths is “just fine”

    I’m just not sure how they can cling to that pro-life banner in any but an extremely ironic sense.

  140. says

    At least 40 journalists have been detained today in #Minsk. Some of them are still at a police station,because they refused to show the photographs they took – @tutby, @Belsat_TV, @dw_russian, @RFERL and others. World Press Photo-winner photographer Paul Hansen will be deported

    Kaciaryna Andreeva,my good friend and excellent journalist at @Belsat_TV, together with her colleague Maksim Kalitouski,just called her husband and said they both would be taken to the infamous Akrescina detention centre.Tania Karavenkova,@belapan journo is being taken to hospital”

  141. says

    Guardian – “A father and a 26-year-old skateboarder: the protesters killed in Kenosha”:

    The two men shot dead when white armed extremists disrupted a Black Lives Matter protest and at least one agitator opened fire on a group of protesters in Kenosha have been identified.

    The victims were Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph “Jojo” Rosenbaum, 36, both men from the Kenosha area.

    They died on Wednesday night in the small Wisconsin city 40 miles south of Milwaukee, where demonstrations against police brutality have continued in the days after local father Jacob Blake was shot in the back by a police officer on Sunday.

    Rosenbaum had a two-year-old daughter, according to local reports, while Huber leaves behind a stepdaughter.

    A third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, a 26-year-old from West Allis, 30 miles north of Kenosha, was shot but is expected to survive.

    Huber, who lived in Silver Lake, 15 miles west of Kenosha, was a keen skateboarder, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

    His girlfriend, Hannah Gittings, addressed protesters on Wednesday night, describing Huber as “one of the most amazing people”.

    “He had nothing but love in his heart for this city … he took down an armed gunman with nothing but his fucking skateboard, and he took that fucking bullet,” Gittings said, according to the Sun-Times.

    Exact details of what happened on the street leading up to the two deaths have not yet been clarified, but a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, about 15 miles away, Kyle Rittenhouse, was arrested on Wednesday and has been charged with two murders.

    An online fundraising page said that Huber also leaves behind a stepdaughter.

    Rosenbaum was originally from Texas and had moved to Kenosha within the last year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

    The 32-year-old leaves behind a fiancee and a young daughter, the Sentinel reported.

    Rosenbaum’s sister told the Sun-Times her brother was a compassionate father.

    Grosskreutz was recovering in a Milwaukee hospital on Wednesday, the WTMJ news channel reported, after being shot in the arm, the limb almost severed from the force of the high-powered bullet.

    Friends told the channel Grosskreutz had volunteered as a medic at Black Lives Matter protests in Milwaukee this summer, and WYMJ reported the 26-year-old had been volunteering the night he was shot.

  142. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not political, but scientific. Analysis of some titanosaur embryos (in eggs) from Argentina, that show some unexpected features.

    The Cretaceous Period fossil from Patagonia is believed to be about 80 million years old. The dinosaur appears to have had specialized facial features as a hatchling that changed as it got older. Powerful imaging technology revealed unexpected characteristics including a small horn projecting from the snout as well as eyes facing forward, indicative of binocular vision.

    Fascinating.

  143. says

    Follow-up to comments 135 and 153.

    Donald Trump was asked about the NBA today. In his reply he said he didn’t know much about the protests, but he knew that “their ratings have been low.” And then repeated his point about low TV ratings.

    He is a useless fool.

  144. says

    From the Washington Post:

    The suspected poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has drawn global condemnation. In the week since the Russian opposition leader fell violently ill on a flight from Siberia, world leaders have issued statements demanding a fair and impartial investigation into the case while pledging support for Navalny and his family. But so far, the leader of the United States has not added his condemnation to the list.

  145. says

    Oh, FFS.

    U.S. Postal Service now telling customers late packages were delayed at their own ‘request’

    No matter how many denials new Trump post office saboteur Louis DeJoy gives to Congress, Americans know whether or not their mail is being delivered on time. Whether it’s needed medications, checks, parts necessary to keep a business up and running, or anything else, people notice when something they’re expecting doesn’t show up until days or weeks past the day they were expecting it.

    Now a new wrinkle is being added, with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) apparently gaslighting customers with claims that packages are being held up at their own request. The Washington Post brings us that story, with USPS sending notifications to customers informing them that their packages are being held in the post office “at the request of the customer,” when the customers aren’t requesting any such thing.

    Before anyone jumps to too many conclusions, this does not appear to be a real case of the USPS attempting to gaslight customers outright. Instead, it looks like a byproduct of a system that wasn’t really set up to handle widespread delays of the sort we’re now seeing. The Post cites postal workers’ suggestions that the “held at request of the customer” notifications are being sent out falsely when mail carriers aren’t able to finish their route before their shift is up. The message doesn’t actually mean the customer won’t be getting their package until they trudge over to the designated post office to collect it themselves; it just means it got stranded on a truck. It’ll get there when it gets there.

    Note that with the nixing of overtime, the problem of mail carriers having to abandon their routes when their designated time is up has been happening more frequently. Hence, the new surge in these messages.

    What the USPS needs—and which some gutsy software engineer might want to implement so long as they have a new job lined up the next day—is a new notification informing customers: “Your package is being delayed on instruction of the postmaster general.” If this is the new policy now, at least have the guts to own it.

  146. says

    Harris called out Trump for being a miserably incompetent failure. It was glorious

    Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris delivered a blistering indictment of Donald Trump’s presidency Thursday just hours before he will officially accept the GOP nomination.

    The entire Republican National Convention wasn’t about helping the American people, Harris said in the roughly 20-minute speech delivered at George Washington University, blocks away from the White House. “The Republican convention is designed for one purpose, to soothe Donald Trump’s ego, to make him feel good,” she charged.

    But Harris said that was just part and parcel of his entire tenure. “Donald Trump doesn’t understand the presidency. He thinks it’s all about him,” she said. “Well, it’s not. It’s about you. It’s about all of us—the people.”

    Trump’s No. 1 obligation was to protect and defend the American people, she said, adding that Trump had “failed miserably” on that count. But incompetence was nothing new to Trump either, Harris noted. “That has always been on full display,” she said, “but in January of this year, it became deadly.”

    Harris then delivered a point-by-point takedown of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, noting that by their very nature, pandemics are “relentless” and “unforgiving.”

    “If you get it wrong at the beginning, the consequences are catastrophic and it’s very hard to catch up. You don’t get a second chance,” she said. “Well, President Trump, you got it wrong from the beginning. And then you got it wrong again and again.”

    Trump simply wasn’t capable of handling the crisis, she said. He choked. “Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze. He was scared,” she said. “And he was petty, and vindictive.”

    Harris also said Trump had “caved” to the Chinese government in the early days of the pandemic as they were blocking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention representatives from entering the country.

    Harris also addressed the protests taking place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

    “As Vice President Biden put it, the shots fired at Mr. Blake pierced the soul of our nation. It’s sickening to watch. It’s all too familiar. And it must end,” she said.

    She also sympathized with the anger emanating from protesters in the streets. “It’s no wonder people are taking to the streets, and I support them,” she said.

    “We will not let these vigilantes and extremists derail the path to justice,” Harris said. “Here’s my promise to those mothers and fathers and all who stand with them: In a Biden-Harris administration, you will have a seat at the table in the halls of Congress, and in the White House.”

  147. says

    Just had a long sit down with Jacob Blake’s uncle before he heads to the airport to fly to DC for tomorrow’s march. Said it’s impossible to fathom how much the family has appreciated the show of support from WNBA and NBA players

    One thing the family is particularly upset about — the uncle just gave me a call to make sure I had noted this in our interview — is that Jacob Blake, shot seven times and paralyzed, has been handcuffed to his hospital bed.”

  148. says

    Follow-up to SC @229.

    I am totally freaking out about the live images of huge numbers of people jammed together tightly on the White House lawn in preparation for the 4th night of Republican UnReality Show. Today, 1,100 people in the USA died of COVID-19. The number of deaths in the USA is now over 180,000. This is a super-spreader event.

    Yes, they are outside, which will help a little bit. But … there is Rudy Giuliani with his face all up in somebody else’s face, talking (loudly, I assume). Giuliani was, at most, 12 inches from the other man’s face. People are hugging and air-kissing. Chairs are so close together that some people’s shoulders are touching.

    Eight states, (so far), have now traced COVID cases back to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. 70 cases so far.

    Why is Trumplandia pretending that coronavirus is over. Why are they pretending?

    Mary Trump told MSNBC hosts tonight that Donald Trump doesn’t care if people get sick from attending his Falsehood-Festival tonight. He only cares about what he thinks will make him look good in the moment.

  149. says

    The Onion – “Blue Lives Matter Supporters Say Kyle Rittenhouse Not Reflective Of Most Peaceful Apologists For Police State”:

    After an AR-15-wielding teenager was charged with the first-degree murder of two protesters in Kenosha, WI, Blue Lives Matter supporters told reporters Thursday that Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions did not reflect the nonviolent tactics favored by most police-state apologists. “When you see us out there waving ‘thin blue line’ flags and menacing the public with semiautomatic rifles, please know that the majority of us are just peacefully expressing our support for a system in which police officers are allowed to kill with impunity,” said Blue Lives Matter activist Gordon Hamblett, explaining that the movement did not stand for lethal vigilante violence, but rather for lethal state-supported violence carried out in the name of keeping people safe. “Do we sympathize with this 17-year-old police admirer’s desire to live out a long-nurtured militia-man fantasy of patrolling the streets and administering justice? Certainly. Does the real blame ultimately lie with the people who were shot for failing to obey his orders? Of course. Nonetheless, we cannot condone Rittenhouse’s decision to pull the trigger without a badge.” Hamblett added that anyone who was considering mowing down innocent civilians on a public street should at least enroll in a police academy first.

  150. says

    Mitch McConnell delivered his Trump Show address from a field or very large yard somewhere — not other people around. He claimed that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going to limit the number of hamburgers we can have, and that they are going to tell us what car to drive.

    Joy Reid commented that somebody should limit the number of hamburgers she has.

    Giuliani is now giving his “rioting and looting” speech about cities. He is very pro-police.

  151. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 236

    That’s very hard to believe since Trump has never worked nor Is he intellectually capable of grasping the concept of “ethics.”

  152. says

    Daniel Dale made me laugh:

    Barack

    Obama

    signed

    the

    Veterans

    Choice

    bill

    in

    2014

    Trump just claimed for the umpteenth time that he passed Veterans Choice.

    Here are few more tidbits from Daniel Dale:

    Trump is correct that about 300 miles of wall have been built. What he doesn’t say: as of August 7, just 5 of those miles had been built in places where there were no barriers before.
    ——————–
    The USMCA retains most of the NAFTA agreement Trump describes as a “nightmare.”
    ——————–
    Trump’s claim is false that this is the first time in 20 years that NATO members have increased spending. Spending increased in 2015 and 2016, before he took office, after the 2014 Crimea invasion by Russia and a 2014 re-commitment to hit the 2%-of-GDP target.
    ————————
    Not true NATO members have agreed to pay $130 billion more “a year.” It’s an estimated $130 billion increase *over 2016 levels* by 2020 — and NATO noted to me in an email this morning that members now have Covid-related budget difficulties.
    ———————————
    They did not get a Jerusalem embassy built for “less than $500,000.” Early documents showed it’s at least $21 million.
    ———————–
    Trump repeats his ludicrous claim that he’s done more for Black people than any president since Lincoln.

    (LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.) (And you can make an argument for a bunch of others, but I’m busy.)
    —————————
    “Completely rebuilding” the military is a large stretch.

    Annual pay raises for the troops are standard.
    ——————————
    Trump says he has “very good information” that China wants Biden to win because Biden cheers for China.

    The US intel community said China prefers Biden because it sees Trump as “unpredictable.”
    —————————-
    Biden did indeed vote for the Iraq War. What Trump doesn’t say — and often lies about — is that he too supported the invasion, not becoming an explicit opponent until more than a year in.
    ——————————
    Ivanka Trump on her father: “I sat with him in the Oval Office as he stopped travel to Europe.”

    He never stopped travel to Europe in any way. He imposed restrictions, but not a full stop, on travel *from* Europe, but exemptions included entire European countries.
    ————————–
    Sen. Tom Cotton — advocating for Trump, who said he and Kim Jong Un “fell in love” — went after Biden for being soft on certain dictators.
    ———————–
    Sen. Tom Cotton claims Biden “let ISIS terrorists rampage,” while Trump destroyed the caliphate.

    1) Kurds did much of the fighting. 2) Caliphate was indeed formed under Obama-Biden, but so was the anti-ISIS coalition; significant progress in liberating territory by late 2016.
    —————————
    Giuliani’s conspiracy theory is truly ridiculous. He’s arguing, explicitly, that violent protests happened because…”the left,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Antifa” were worried that Congress was too unified on police reform and so Trump would look too good if they didn’t act.
    ———————–
    Ben Carson: “President Trump does not dabble in identity politics.”

  153. says

    Trump still can’t say “plasma.”

    Now Trump is lying about coronavirus statistics.

    Now Trump is providing misleading new job growth statistics.

    I’m out of here for awhile. I need a break.

  154. says

    Highly misleading to tout the “record” 9 million job gain over the last three months with no context…

    …specifically, the context that 22 million jobs were lost in the previous two months.

  155. says

    Reuters – “Nobel laureate author emerges as powerful voice backing Belarus protests”:

    Wielding a bunch of flowers and surrounded by clapping supporters, Belarus’s most celebrated writer has lent a powerful voice to the opposition against President Alexander Lukashenko, even if she has so far balked at taking a leadership role.

    Svetlana Alexievich, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature, has mostly kept a low profile and spent years in exile under Lukashenko’s long rule. But she has become more outspoken since turmoil erupted following an Aug. 9 election.

    After security forces beat protesters and arrested thousands to quell mass demonstrations and strikes, the 72-year-old Alexievich said she was tempted to enter the fray.

    “If I were younger and not sick, then probably. Even now I will help with all my might, but in order to lead the movement, I no longer have physical and moral strength,” she told Radio Liberty on Aug. 12.

    Nevertheless Alexievich agreed to support a Coordination Council created in opposition to Lukashenko after the election that he is accused of rigging to extend his 26-year rule.

    “Her participation in the council is certainly unusual. This is real politics, and she has always avoided politics,” said political analyst Valery Karbalevich.

    “She has always been of the opinion that creative intelligentsia should not be on the barricades. But now that has changed. There is a revolution in the country, the scales are swinging, and even a small change in weight can tip the balance in one direction or another.”

    Alexievich’s emergence into the opposition limelight comes with most of Lukashenko’s opponents in jail or exile, notably Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who took her jailed husband’s place in the election campaign but has since fled to Lithuania.

    Opposition figures in exile include Valery Tsepkalo, a former ambassador to Washington, and Andrei Sannikov who was imprisoned after trying to run against Lukashenko in 2010.

    Nikolai Statkevich, jailed for five years after standing against Lukashenko in 2010, has been re-arrested.

    Alexievich achieved renown with writings chronicling the harshness of life in the Soviet Union and its aftermath, through interviews with people who lived through tumultuous events.

    Her documentary style of writing became popular in the 1980s but her humanistic, emotional tales of peoples’ fates entangled in major historic developments made her an uncomfortable voice for the authorities.

    Publication of one of her best-known works, “War’s Unwomanly Face”, was censored as Soviet authorities regarded it as subversive and undermining the army’s World War Two victory.

    Alexievich lived in exile in Italy, France, Germany and Sweden because of her criticism of the Belarusian government. Returning home in 2011, she tended to stay out of politics.

    Protests were brewing even before the election amid frustration at Lukashenko’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which he called a “psychosis” that could be remedied by drinking vodka and driving tractors.

    Alexievich compared the authorities’ behaviour to the secrecy and denial surrounding the Soviet government’s handling of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, an event that was the subject of one of her books.

    When Viktor Babariko, a former banker who was considered the most powerful opposition candidate to stand against Lukashenko, was arrested in June, she acted as surety for him.

    And when protests erupted, she openly called on Lukashenko to step aside.

    “Leave before it’s too late, before you plunge the people into a terrible abyss, into the abyss of civil war! Go away! Nobody wants Maidan, nobody wants blood. Only you want power.”…

  156. blf says

    lumipuna@188, “Cue images of Mildly Deranged Penguin trebucheting hundreds of 1 kg consumer packages of bland cheese across the border from Finland to Russia […]”.

    You really shouldn’t give her ideas…!

    She’s currently researching these alleged cheese plants. She’s checked the Great Cheese Encyclopædia, Cheeses of the Far Nørth, and even All the Universe’s Cheeses which, despite the grandiose title, is only a pamphlet of about six pages. The writing is very very small. Allegedly you just about make it out using an Scanning Tunneling Microscope, but a far more reliable technique is to use a Maxwell’s Dæmon. You shout at the daemon until they understand what you want (they’re a bit deaf), let it do its sorting thing, and then in one corner of the pamphlet is what you want. Scrambled. Not that that matters much, unless you have an STM handy and can read the unknown script in an unknown language. So although Maxwell’s Dæmon did find something, the mildly deranged penguin is still puzzled.

    Then she remembered Finland is covered in fins. Ah, it’s a fish-eating cheese plant! That narrows it down a bit, especially if she can work out what sort of fish the cheeses eat. Furthermore, it must be a very common fish, since Finland is full of fins. That identified the fish very quickly — that well-known flying fish, the reindeer. Quite tasty, a very large crunchy mouse, cheese food!

    The cheese probably also flies (important point to consider when devising a trebuchet delivery system), thrives in the cold, and is either invisible or hides in plain sight (else it’d be recognised). There is at least one camouflaged cold-thriving albeit non-flying cheese, the Everest Yeti Nest, so called because Yetis use the cheeses to build their nests in return for a supply of monks — but now more commonly, mountaineers — to munch on. Furthermore, they (the Everest Yeti Nest cheese) are known to have invaded much of Eurasia. (Who do you think Genghis Khan was running from?) Some could have easily wound up in Finland, and discovered the delicious reindeer fish. And then, of course, the Vikings ran away from something…

    Everest Yeti Nest cheeses can move quite fast on snow, probably faster than reindeer fish can run or take-off, so she guesses the cheeses just sneak up and ambush the fish when they are not airborne. One puzzle is where they live, unless they brought some Yeti’s with them… Another puzzle is the Finland-to-Russia “cheese” is described as “bland”, which is not a description hitherto before ever applied to an Everest Yeti Nest cheese. Maybe that’s due to the change in the cheese’s diet?

    Unfortunately, ballistic reentry tests with the Nepalese original Everest Yeti Nest cheese shows they don’t survive supersonic flight very well, restricting the available trebuchet options. Unless, that is, the Russians like their cheese heavily charred-grilled. That, plus the fact she hasn’t actually gotten her wings on any Finnish Everest Yeti Nest cheese yet, means the trebuchet delivery system won’t start operating for a few hours yet.

  157. says

    Joe Biden: “Remember: every example of violence Donald Trump decries has happened on his watch. Under his leadership. During his presidency.”

    Trump has one approach: force and violence to prop up white supremacists. Not reform (including any of the detailed proposals put forward by BLM leaders), not dialogue, not DoJ-led investigations of unjust practices, not attempts to address economic inequality or the history of oppression and exclusion, not even recognition that racist policing is a problem. His campaign argument is that courts and state and local Democratic leaders won’t allow him to employ his only tool: racist force and violence to prop up white supremacists. So the campaign argument is plainly that if he wins the election he’ll be unleashed to use force and violence to prop up white supremacists. Which is absolutely what he’d do, and people planning to vote for him (or not vote or vote for anyone other than Biden) should be made to understand and acknowledge that this is what they’re voting for and take responsibility for it.

  158. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Spanish police have arrested a man who urged his followers to attack politicians and journalists as he claimed the pandemic is a hoax. The 38-year-old claimed health professionals and the media were behind the pandemic.

    He was arrested near the north-eastern city of Zaragoza for inciting hatred and violence across several anonymous social-media profiles. He wrote on one of his accounts:

    All this would be solved with a shot to the back of (Spanish Prime Minister) Pedro Sanchez’s head.

    In other posts he said the headquarters of Spain’s doctors’ union should be burned down and described those who believed in the virus as bad and ignorant people who deserved to die, according to the police.

    Passing himself off as a government official, police said the suspect allegedly made calls to nursing homes, hospitals and football clubs to spread false information about the pandemic.

    Police were able to trace the man, described as a “grave danger” to public health, to a location just outside Zaragoza, the regional capital of Aragon.

    While compliance with national restrictions remains the norm, a small but vocal anti-mask movement has been gaining prominence in the past few months, spurred on by the endorsement of 1980s pop star [Miguel Bosé].

  159. tomh says

    In a Victory for Trump, Iowa Judge Orders Thousands of Absentee Ballot Requests to Be Voided
    August 27, 2020 ROX LAIRD

    President Donald Trump won a legal skirmish in Iowa over the legality of how absentee ballot request forms were handled by a local election official.

    An Iowa trial judge issued a temporary injunction Thursday ordering the county auditor in Iowa’s second largest city to notify tens of thousands registered voters who received absentee ballot request forms from the county that they must apply for new ballot request forms…

    The issue is the legality of the Linn County auditor’s move to mail absentee ballot request forms to 140,000 registered voters in the county with each voter’s identification number filled in on the form. ..

    Secretary of State Pate had earlier issued a directive to county auditors that absentee ballot request forms sent out by their offices must be blank.
    […]

    In a statement posted on its website Thursday, the Linn County Auditor’s Office acknowledged the judge’s decision and said, “In accordance with the decision, the Linn County Auditor’s Office will be voiding each Linn County absentee request form which was prefilled with vote information.”

    There are something like 140 court cases going on around the country over voting rights, everything from requirong photo ID to absentee ballots having to be notarized. Most of them are because states have loosened restrictions on absentee ballots because of Coronavirus, and the GOP sues to stop them. Such nice folks.

  160. says

    It sounds absurd to say it, but America is in the process of choosing whether to be a white nationalist fascist state or an inclusive democracy. That’s not hyperbole, that’s just where we are.

    I wish I could take some sort of sophisticated view and say, no, things aren’t really that bad, it’s not as serious as all that. But that would mean refusing to take seriously the implications of the events happening around us.”

  161. says

    South Dakota posts largest one day New COVID-19 Cases count with 343, bringing their post [Sturgis] Rally 7d average up to 215.

    Prior to the Rally, Daily New Cases ran around 80.

    North Dakota post largest one day New COVID-19 Cases count with 333, bringing their post Rally 7d avg to 223.

    Prior to the Rally, Daily New Cases ran around 120.

    Iowa posts largest one day New COVID-19 Cases count with 2,620, bringing their post Rally 7d avg to 993.

    This outbreak is much worse than their meat packing outbreaks earlier this year.

    Prior to the Rally, Daily New Cases ran around 470.

    Kansas and Minnesota also join Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota among states showing post Rally increasing cases….”

    Yesterday, the governor of Iowa closed “bars, taverns, breweries, wineries, distilleries and nightclubs” in six counties with large student populations. All of these were fully open while students returned to colleges and universities. Still no mask mandate.

  162. says

    ABC – “Despite USPS chief DeJoy’s pledge, postal unions say mail delays persist”:

    Postal union leaders in five battleground states told ABC News that they have seen few concrete steps to reverse or halt a set of cost-cutting measures that have slowed mail service, despite assurances last week from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that he would “suspend” those initiatives until after the general election.

    DeJoy’s announcement led to confusion among some in the Postal Service ranks as to whether he meant there would not be cutbacks in addition to the ones already in place, which include reductions in overtime and limiting mail carrier trips, or if it meant a return to prior operational standards before the cuts altogether.

    For now, the union officials said DeJoy’s initiatives remain in place — despite a deluge of legal and legislative efforts to reverse them. As a result, and with the clock ticking on election day, many of them said the mail continues to pile up in sorting facilities.

    Nick Casselli, the president of the Philadelphia postal union, said overtime pay has not come back fully, post offices are still operating with slashed hours, and trucks are still being instructed not to stay and wait for all of the mail to be loaded on in an effort to keep to a stricter schedule, instead of staying later.

    “Nothing has changed,” he said, echoing concerns from postal union leaders in major cities in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Colorado.

    In a press release issued last week, DeJoy said he would “[suspend] these initiatives until after the election is concluded … to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”

    He specifically stated that “retail hours at Post Offices will not change,” “mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are,” and “[reasserted] that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.”

    Despite his promise to suspend the measures, however, some lawmakers and postal workers said they want them fully reversed. On the matter of mail sorting machines, for example, DeJoy pledged to halt removals — but refused to reinstall those that have already been taken offline.

    When asked for clarification on DeJoy’s comments, a Postal Service spokesperson referred ABC News to the postmaster general’s congressional testimony.

    Union leaders told ABC News that simply pausing the changes does little to curb delays, saying the cuts already in place are still impacting mail service in their areas.

    “The mail is still being delayed,” said Daleo Freeman, a postal union president in Cleveland. “The damage has been done.”

    Meanwhile, legislators in Washington, D.C., said they are planning their next steps to ensure the Postal Service follows through on its pledge to suspend changes.

    “Like I said when Louis DeJoy, under pressure, announced a suspension of changes: talk is cheap,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, said in a statement to ABC News. “I’ll be watching DeJoy’s actions, not just his words — and working with my colleagues to hold him accountable.”

    In Cleveland, Freeman said he and other postal workers were first made aware of the cost-cutting initiatives during a meeting in June, shortly after DeJoy’s arrival. Since then, he said, workers have not observed any reversals implemented on the ground, nor have they been told of plans to suspend the changes.

    Keith Combs, a postal service president in Detroit, said the same applies to workers there. He said that as far as he knows, the postal service is “still to this point operating per the initial instructions from Postmaster General DeJoy.”

    “The union is quite used to management saying one thing and doing another,” Combs added. “We hear verbal promises all the time, and we cannot rely on those promises.”

    Cuts to overtime and diminished truck trips persist, the union leaders said. Mail sorting machines remain offline, too.

    When defending the decision not to reinstall the sorting machines that already had been taken out of commission, DeJoy told lawmakers they were simply “not necessary.”

    Postal workers feel strongly otherwise, according to the union officials. Casselli, Philadelphia’s union president, said removing the mail sorting machines is akin to “taking a rifle off a soldier in a battle.”

    “We can’t deliver the mail without these machines,” Casselli said.

    In Charlotte, N.C., Miriam Bell, the local union president, said at least eight of the 28 mail sorting machines at her facility have been removed. Bell echoed her fellow presidents in saying she had not heard any directives that changes to other protocols would be reversed.

    In anticipation of what they are concerned could be further damage to the Postal Service, Democrats in state governments and Congress have sought to hold DeJoy accountable for his pledge to suspend the cost-cutting initiatives.

    Democratic attorneys general in 24 states plus Washington, D.C., have cumulatively filed three separate lawsuits targeting the Postal Service and the postmaster general.

    One of the lawsuits, led by Washington state, charges the postmaster general with hindering the states’ constitutional right to conduct free and fair elections. Another, led by New York, claims mailing executives failed to seek approval for the changes from a regulatory board with oversight of the agency.

    All three will attempt to reverse DeJoy’s initiatives.

    “We are seeking to overturn those changes – go back to the way they were delivering mail in a timely manner before,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is leading a third lawsuit.

    “Our lawsuit is full steam ahead,” he added. “And we will pursue this on an expedited basis in court, so that the mail can begin to flow again regularly and that people can have faith that their ballots will be mailed and received in a timely manner.”

    After back-to-back hearings in the House and Senate, some Democratic lawmakers remain unconvinced of DeJoy’s commitment to roll back initiatives, despite assurances that election mail will be made a priority.

    The Postal Service inspector general’s probe of cost-cutting changes and DeJoy’s financial interests also remains ongoing.

    Meanwhile, postal workers on the ground remain in limbo, told of changes publicly without evidence of concrete steps – all while they say the mail continues to pile up in warehouses.

    “They have given the promises, but I haven’t seen anything in writing,” said Combs, from Detroit. “We’ve been asking: for everything that’s going to be reinstated, tell us about it. Put it in writing. I still today haven’t received anything in writing.”

  163. blf says

    Jacob Blake shackled to hospital bed despite being paralyzed, father says:

    […]
    Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old who was shot seven times by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer[goon Rusten Sheskey, with officersgoons Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek present,] on Sunday, is shackled to his hospital bed despite being unable to walk and being heavily medicated, with no clarity on whether or why he might be under investigation, his father revealed on Friday.

    “There was the cold steel on his ankle. He is shackled to the bed, but he cannot get up, he could not get up, he is paralyzed,” Jacob Blake Sr, father of Jacob Blake Jr, said on CNN in an interview […]

    […]

    The family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, said: “There is no explanation for this.”

    […]

    Activists have said that some demonstrators who were arrested in Kenosha this week were “snatched up” by federal law enforcement officers in unmarked vehicles, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. On Wednesday night, three area activists were arrested while walking to their vehicle, and then whisked away in an unmarked sports utility vehicle, organizers said.

    Video on social media appears to show law enforcement agents smashing the windows of a minivan with Oregon license plates and forcibly removing the people inside. Those people were subsequently driven away in an SUV.

    […] These arrestees were part of the group Riot Kitchen, a Seattle-based non-profit that gives food to homeless persons and protesters, the newspaper said.

    […]

  164. blf says

    Update to @156, Librarian who put books behind Boris Johnson says message was for school:

    […]
    The school librarian who stacked the shelves behind Boris Johnson’s podium with titles including The Twits, Betrayed and The Subtle Knife has admitted that she never intended the message for the prime minister, but for the management of the school from which she resigned in February.

    [… T]he librarian in question, who has asked not to be named, said that she set up the display six months ago in a pointed message to the management of Castle Rock school.

    [… “]I did it as a message for the school management before I left in February,” she told the Huffington Post. “It just became untenable to carry on working there because of the lack of support I had, and I was left with no choice but to resign. I decided to leave them a big message during my last week. They obviously never actually noticed, and it went untouched for six months.”

    […]

    “In my last week I put them up so anybody who looked and took it in would see I’d had enough. I laid it all out — The Subtle Knife, Betrayed, The Glass House. I left on the Friday and thought, ‘I’ve said my piece, job done, walk away.’ It was a little bit bizarre when it all came out. Now they’ve noticed,” she said.

    The librarian said that at the time of her departure in February, the school library “wasn’t really used as a library anymore” but being requisitioned as a classroom or a “dumping ground” instead. “I was getting absolutely no support, I was just in there on my own with up to 90 kids running riot. It was just horrendous,” she said.

    She remains adamant about the importance of school libraries. “For reading for pleasure and for literacy, they’re invaluable,” she said.

    While nine in 10 of English schools have access to a designated library space, this falls to 67% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland, according to a report last year by the librarian body Cilip [should be named Oook –blf]. Schools with a higher proportion of children on free school meals are more than twice as likely not to have access to a designated library space. The report also noted that employment terms for library staff fall below national standards, with low pay and little investment in professional development and training. Cilip, supported by authors and MPs, has long campaigned for all schools to have a library.

    […]

    In a statement to the Huffington Post, Julia Patrick, CEO of the Apollo Partnership Trust that runs Castle Rock school as an academy, confirmed the librarian had resigned in February and said the library has not been used for five months. “The senior management there were unaware of any ‘covert message’ left through the arrangement of books,” she added.

    I suspect they were also unawares there is a library at the school.

  165. blf says

    Vigilante, volunteer, terrorist: how the US media covers Kyle Rittenhouse:

    The teen has been charged with shooting and killing two protesters in Kenosha, but it hasn’t stopped some pundits from trying to humanize him

    There is perhaps no greater example of the polarization of American media than the coverage of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who allegedly shot and killed two protesters and injured another at Kenosha this week.

    On one side of the divide, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended Rittenhouse on Wednesday, due to the violence and property damage in Kenosha. How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would? asked Carlson.

    Ridiculing Carlson’s statement on Thursday, the Daily Show host Trevor Noah replied: “No one drives to a city with guns because they love someone else’s business so much.” He continued: “They do it because they are hoping to shoot someone. That’s the only reason people like him join these gangs in the first place — yes, I said it, a gang — because this is not the battle of Yorktown, it’s a bunch of dudes threatening people with guns.”

    Rittenhouse has now been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, but it hasn’t stopped some pundits and journalists from trying to humanize him, even calling for him to become president. How Rittenhouse is being portrayed now will be telling — not least because Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man who was shot by police in Kenosha days before Rittenhouse’s arrest, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, has also not yet stood trial — but has already been labeled a criminal in the media. .

    In the words of one Chicago journalist: “{This is} a rare moment in news media where we get to watch this dichotomy in real time … To see to whom news media gives the most compassion and consideration in telling their stories.”

    Some will say it is too early to use words like “terrorism”, to describe the events before evidence has been examined. Others will point out the term is not always applied consistently: both the media and the FBI are quick to label people of color who perpetrate violent extremism as terrorists. Donald Trump even referred to people protesting against police violence as such this year, but decided to refer to armed white vigilantes patrolling the Michigan capitol as very good people.

    [… the article then goes on to list and describe, with example(s), the terms used (below, they are only listed)…]

    ● A volunteer […]
    ● A vigilante […]
    ● An avid supporter of the police […]
    ● Maintaining peace […]
    ● ‘A terrorist’ […]

    The Grauniad is current using vigilante, albeit as it points out:

    Domestic terrorism is defined by the FBI as “the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States (or its territories) without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

    That would seem to describe this kook.

  166. says

    Joe Biden told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell yesterday that he fully intends to participate in the upcoming presidential debates, and he expects to be a “fact checker on the floor.”

  167. says

    While there were scant references to the shooting of Jacob Blake during the last night of the RNC Thursday, President Trump tweeted about the “succes” scene in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Friday morning. (No, that is not a typo on my part, but his).

    Blake was shot in the back by police seven times as he leaned into his car. Officers were apparently responding a domestic dispute, but little other information has been shared about the incident. Blake survived, but is paralyzed from the waist down. Protests erupted in the city after the shooting, reigniting Black Lives Matter demonstrations in cities across the U.S. Two people were killed in Kenosha when a 17-year-old law enforcement enthusiast shot at protesters.

    Despite barely addressing the incident on Thursday night, he’s tweeting about it this morning, declaring success.

    Succes: Since the National Guard moved into Kenosha, Wisconsin, two days ago, there has been NO FURTHER VIOLENCE, not even a small problem. When legally asked to help by local authorities, the Federal Government will act and quickly succeed. Are you listening Portland?

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2020

    Link

    As was already mentioned up-thread, yes Trump will indulge in even more violence against protestors if he is given a second term. And, he will illegally involve the military and other federal departments in perpetrating that violence.

  168. says

    House announces contempt proceedings against Pompeo after he refuses to hand over documents

    For weeks, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has been asking Mike Pompeo to testify about his use of State Department resources for political purposes, and for weeks Pompeo has been ignoring those requests. Not only did Pompeo violate all past protocol—and the Hatch Act—by speaking this week at the RNC, he did so while on a supposedly official trip to Israel. But long before that grievous violation, Pompeo provided a 1,600 page “portfolio” of information on Joe Biden to Republican senators, and only Republican senators. A subpoena for that information met with no response. Pompeo has been deeply involved in attempts to find some supporting evidence for Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories, both about Biden’s role in Ukraine and the origins of the investigation into the actions of Russia in the 2016 election.

    […] the State Department finally provided a response to the House subpoena […] Pompeo “categorically rejects your baseless assertion that the Department may have acted inappropriately or violated any law” in “what appears to be partisan misuse of resources.” […] the State Department was not going to hand over any documents it had produced for Senate Republicans—not unless Democrats announce that they are also starting a formal inquiry into Joe Biden and nonexistent crimes in Ukraine.

    Committee chair Rep. Eliot Engel was just as clear in his response on Friday: The House is going forward with contempt proceedings against Pompeo.

    Engel’s statement did not hold back: “From Mr. Pompeo’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, to his willingness to bolster a Senate Republican-led smear against the President’s political rivals, to his speech to the RNC which defied his own guidance and possibly the law, he has demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the constitution provides to prevent government corruption,” said Engel. “He seems to think the office he holds, the Department he runs, the personnel he oversees, and the taxpayer dollars that pay for all of it are there for his personal and political benefit.”

    […] the idea that the House should be required to pretend—as Pompeo is doing—that there is the least scrap of truth behind the conspiracy theories Trump is promoting is ridiculous.

    “Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the Committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing,” writes Engel, “In other words, Pompeo will give the Committee what we were seeking if we join in a smear of the President’s political rival. Sound familiar?” […].

  169. blf says

    With Donald Trump and this election, it feels ominously like 2016 all over again:

    Watching the Republican national convention and seeing the Democrats fumbling, something seems eerily familiar

    Donald Trump is not a competent president but he is a terrifyingly effective one, as the 2020 RNC proved once again. The central lesson of 2016 for Democrats should have been: do not underestimate Trump, and do not take his general ignorance as a lack of political skill. Worryingly, this lesson does not seem to have been fully absorbed, and there are eerie similarities between the present election and the one four years ago. I’m getting deja vu, and I don’t like it.

    The good news for Democrats is that Joe Biden is ahead in the polls. The bad news is that Hillary Clinton was also ahead in the polls. Biden’s lead may be sliding in critical states, and some estimates show him underperforming Clinton in the critical state of Wisconsin. Biden’s overall margin over Trump is greater than Clinton’s was at her peak. But FiveThirtyEight reports, troublingly, that “there are also nine states where Biden’s margin over Trump is smaller than Clinton’s was at this point in the campaign,” including “many Rust Belt battleground states”.

    The political circumstances should be incredibly favorable for a challenger: nearly 200,000 people are dead in a crisis caused in large part by the president’s [sic] personal incompetence, and the economy has collapsed. The Democratic candidate should be winning in a landslide. The fact that it might be close shows a serious failure of leadership.

    Joe Biden could still win in a landslide, and I hope he does. But one thing we need to understand about Donald Trump is that while he is a terrible president, he is an excellent showman who understands the theatrical aspects of politics very well. Though few Democrats will want to admit it, the RNC was well-produced. It is easy to make fun of the absurd quantity of flags — the Republican approach to solving a problem is to throw as many flags at it as possible.

    [… T]he right has a very clear message and they hammer it home with relentless force: the Democrats want lawless anarchy in the streets and destructive socialist economic policy, your children will not be safe. There will be mob rule, riots, looting. […]

    Of course, a great deal of this is utterly ridiculous […]

    Eh? A great deal? How about every bit of it!

    [… I]t is spectacle, not facts, that matters in Trump world. In 2016, Democrats made the mistake of thinking they could “factcheck” their way to victory, pointing out the many ways in which Trump’s statements were false or misleading. To beat Trump you don’t need better facts, though, you need a better narrative. […]

    Oh for feck’s sake. You do need facts and also a good narrative, well presented.

    […] I am certain most Americans cannot name a Biden policy proposal or even his campaign slogan (that’s a trick, he actually has eight campaign slogans). […]

    Plausible. Of course, no-one can name a thug’s policy proposal, for the simple reason they haven’t got any (unless you consider doing what hair furorPutin fancies a “policy (proposal)”).

    [… Hair furor’s] final night at the RNC speech was tired and tedious, but Democrats would do well not to get cocky. We’ve seen the consequences of complacency once before, and it was a disaster. A second Trump term will be far, far worse, with unthinkable consequences for the climate, workers and immigrants.

    Karl Marx said history repeated itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. 2016 was a tragedy. I just hope we’re not about to see the farce.

  170. says

    Republicans see immediate post-convention bounce…in COVID cases: Attendees start testing positive

    A lagging Trump campaign had hoped for a bounce after a four-day, glitzy, lawless, mask-free celebration of Donald Trump and indeed, there is an uptick. Unfortunately, it’s an uptick in COVID-19 cases among attendees.

    The Charlotte Observer reports two convention attendees and two of their support staff have already tested positive for COVID-19. The RNC officials tested positive after attending the convention meetings, which took place in Charlotte, North Carolina. It appears the “semi-bubble” the RNC put into place didn’t work out as they’d hoped. Attendees were required to get tested before they arrived and were given another rapid-test upon check-in. And while the RNC told attendees masks were required, as well as maintaining 6 feet of distance from one another, many took those guidelines as mere suggestions and judging by the photos from the event, far too many opted out. […]

    Whatever happened at the Charlotte portion of the convention is likely going to pale in comparison to what will happen to the attendees in Washington, D.C., where very few masks were seen in the audience on the White House lawn. Chairs were placed side-by-side, ignoring all medical advice, and as my colleague Mark Sumner notes, those tightly packed chairs on the lawn of the White House for Trump’s convention-closing speech might as well be tombstones. Unlike the attendees at the RNC meeting in Charlotte, the audience for the White House attendees were not required to get a COVID-19 test. […]

    Like convention keynote speakers, 50% of whom had the last name Trump, attendees largely pretended the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past. There wasn’t one single mention of the COVID-19 death toll in the United States. You’d think the so-called “pro-life” party might’ve mentioned or had a moment of silence for the 185,000+ Americans who have already died from this virus, but no.

    You’d also think the death of Herman Cain, who contracted COVID-19 after attending a largely mask-free Trump rally in Tulsa, might’ve served as a warning for this audience, but it seems clear some people insist on learning the hard way. Let’s just hope for their sake, they weren’t dead wrong.

  171. blf says

    Spanish police arrest Covid sceptic for inciting violence (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Spanish police have arrested a man who claims the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax for inciting hatred and violence across several anonymous social media profiles.

    The 38-year-old claimed health professionals and the media were behind what he called the Covid farce and urged his followers to attack politicians and journalists, police said.

    All this would be solved with a shot to the back of {Spanish prime minister} Pedro Sánchez’s head, he wrote on one of his accounts.

    In other posts he said the headquarters of Spain’s doctors’ union should be burned down, and he described those who believed in the virus as bad and ignorant people who deserved to die, according to the police.

    Police said the suspect allegedly made calls to nursing homes, hospitals and football clubs, passing himself off as a government official, to spread false information about the pandemic.

    Police traced the man to a location just outside Zaragoza, the regional capital of Aragon.

    Itinerant fruit-pickers have been linked to several outbreaks in the region, which has been at the centre of Spain’s recent resurgence in infections. It has had the highest prevalence of the virus over the past two weeks, with 404 cases per 100,000 people.

    […]

    While compliance with national restrictions remains the norm, a small but vocal anti-mask movement has been gaining prominence in the past few months, spurred on by the endorsement of a 1980s pop star, Miguel Bosé.

  172. says

    Update: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is still in an induced coma from a suspected poisoning but his condition is stable and his symptoms are improving, the German doctors treating him said Friday.

    “While his condition remains serious, there is no immediate danger to his life,” the hospital said. “However, due to the severity of the patient’s poisoning, it remains too early to gauge potential long-term effects.”

  173. blf says

    Belarus deports Swedish journalist amid media crackdown:

    Paul Hansen one of 50 reporters, including BBC Moscow’s Steve Rosenberg, detained by police

    A Swedish photojournalist has been deported from Belarus, amid a crackdown on local and foreign media and ahead of further mass protests planned for this weekend against the president, Alexander Lukashenko.

    Paul Hansen was given 24 hours to leave the country and banned from Belarus for five years. He was one of 50 reporters rounded up by riot police on Thursday and taken into custody, ostensibly so their documents could be checked.

    One of those detained was the BBC’s Moscow correspondent, Steve Rosenberg.

    Most of the journalists were later released but four Minsk-based correspondents were detained overnight and appeared in court on Friday, charged with organising illegal protests. They included the photographer Alexander Vasukovich and Katsiaryna Andreyeva, a reporter with the independent Belsat TV channel.

    […]

    Barys Goretsky, of the Belarus association of journalists, said his members intended to carry on reporting, despite intimidation from the authorities and the threat of imprisonment.

    “Our readers are very active. They are demanding information. Our colleagues will continue to work,” he told the Guardian.

    Goretsky said some of the journalists who had been detained had had their phones and camera equipment confiscated and not returned. The journalists would make a formal protest next week, he said.

    He added that the mood among citizens was upbeat, with protests continuing among different groups, including doctors who staged a walkout on Thursday.

    The Belarusian foreign ministry declined to issue accreditation to the majority of foreign journalists who applied for it, after Lukashenko railed against foreign coverage of the country in the run-up to the election.

    As a result, some foreign journalists entered the country without the official accreditation, posing as tourists. More than a dozen foreign journalists have been stopped at Minsk airport in the past two weeks and denied entry.

    Hansen — who works for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter — described the arrest of media representatives inside Belarus as “outrageous”. In a tweet, he thanked Sweden’s ambassador, Christina Johannesson, who picked him up after his release in her official Volvo.

    Another journalist, Franak Viačorka, said riot police had forced reporters to delete photos because they were afraid of appearing in the “Black Book of Belarus”. The book is an online record of alleged abuses carried out by members of Lukashenko’s security services, kept with a view to future prosecutions.

    Viačorka tweeted: “It’s outrageous. Journalists in Belarus are shot with weapons, deported, thrown into prison, raided in hotels, their cameras smashed, flash drives taken away. On state TV, independent journalists are threatened. Journalists are treated like dangerous criminals. But they are heroes.”

  174. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Four people at the Republican National Convention in North Carolina this week tested positive, officials have said, even as Republicans played down the US health crisis in renominating Donald Trump.

    The party’s convention, which began with one day of events in Charlotte, North Carolina, despite the pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, ended on Thursday after four days of speeches lauding Trump.

    Throughout, Republicans largely abandoned talk of the crisis as if it had abated, instead reminding voters of the robust economy that existed beforehand.

    The official Twitter feed of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where Charlotte is located, said two convention attendees and two event support staff had tested positive and all were “immediately isolated”.

    Convention spokesman Michael Ahrens confirmed the four positive tests out of about 1,000 administered.

    Italy’s Civil Protection is considering using dedicated planes and ships to evacuate dozens of tourists who currently under quarantine from Sardinia to Italy’s mainland after the emergence of new clusters in the island’s nightclubs, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica has reported.

    More than 20 employees of the Phi Beach nightclub in Baja Sardinia, on the Costa Smeralda, have tested positive. An employee of another nightclub in San Teodoro who also tested positive was hospitalised in Sassari.

    Italian health authorities are also tracing visitors to the former Formula One team boss Flavio Briatore’s Sardinian nightclub after more than 60 confirmed cases were linked to the venue.

    On Friday, Italy recorded a new spike in cases as another 1,411 people tested positive. Such numbers had not been seen since 2 May, when the country was still in lockdown.

    Authorities have also registered the highest number of tests since the beginning of the pandemic: 97,065. Nine more people have died with the virus in the last 24 hours and the Italian death toll now stands at 35,472. The total number of cases is now up to 265,409.

    France reported 7,379 new confirmed cases on Friday; the most in a day since its lockdown ended and just shy of the 7,578 high set on 31 March. The total number of confirmed cases rose to 267,077, while the cumulative number of deaths from Covid-19 rose by 20 to 30,596, the health ministry reported.

  175. says

    The RNC weaponized exhaustion

    “The sheer volume of lies and illegal behavior from Trump and the Republicans is what allowed them to get away with it.”

    I don’t think they got away with it, at least not entirely. I do get the “exhaustion” factor. Republicans flooded the zone with lies and misleading statements.

    The most consistent theme of Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention wasn’t that Joe Biden was a puppet for radicals. It wasn’t even that rioters and looters are coming to your home and only Trump can protect you from the radical left.

    The clear theme of the RNC was a flagrant and brutal disregard for the truth.

    […] The second night starred an anti-abortion activist whose tale about the horrors of Planned Parenthood had been exposed as a fraud more than 10 years ago. On the third night, Vice President Mike Pence suggested that the murder of a police officer by a far-right extremist was a crime committed by left-wing rioters. It was all capped off by […] Trump’s Thursday night speech, a farrago of falsehoods that even veteran Trump fact-checkers found stunning.

    “Basically everything Trump says about Biden’s proposals is false,” the Washington Post’s Philip Bump writes. […]

  176. blf says

    Outcry in Iran at nine-year sentence for man who beheaded daughter:

    […]
    An Iranian man who beheaded his 14-year-old daughter has been sentenced to only nine years in jail, in a case that has sparked outrage at the way Iranian law appears to enshrine supposed male rights over women’s lives.

    Rana Dashti, the mother of 14-year-old Romina Ashrafi, expressed fury at the lenient sentence in an interview with the Iranian Labor news agency (Ilna) on Friday and said the court’s ruling had “caused fear and panic for me and my family”.

    Romina was murdered by her father after she ran off with a man aged 28. Dashti said she would appeal against the decision, and that after 15 years she had no interest in continuing to live with her husband.

    She added she was worried about the lives of her only son and other relations. “I no longer want my husband to return to the village,” she told the news agency.

    The case has sparked controversy in Iran about the frequency of so-called honour killings, the rights of children, and gender bias in Iranian courts. Efforts to tighten the law to protect children have previously fallen foul of Iran’s Guardian Council, which ruled that parliament’s plans were un-Islamic.

    Critics say parts of the Iranian penal code are predicated on the assumption that men are entitled to discipline women and girls if they do not conform to the social roles attributed to them.

    Romina had pleaded with the judiciary not to return her to her father since she feared he might attack her, but her request was ignored.

    The father — who in Iran is considered the guardian of his daughter — had filed a complaint, and the girl, once summoned by the police, had begged the judge not to send her home because she knew her father would try to kill her.

    According to an interview following the girl’s death, it emerged that the father had repeatedly asked his wife to make Romina kill herself for having dishonoured the family.

    She was murdered with a scythe on 21 May after the father said he felt ashamed that she had run away without his permission.

    […]

    The nine-year sentence contrasts with lengthy jail penalties imposed on women who protest over laws requiring the wearing of the hijab.

    In some Iranian provinces, as many as 20% of murders are classified as honour killings.

    […]

    Although women make up more than 50% of university students, and they are becoming more involved in the political process and decision-making, there continue to be obstacles to finding well-paid work. Women make up only 19% of Iran’s workforce.

  177. says

    A Well-Connected QAnon Guy Is Representing The Teen Who Shot, Killed Kenosha Protesters

    Link

    Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teen who illegally obtained firearms, then drove across state lines with those illegally obtained firearms to a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he killed two people and injured one, did not appear at his extradition hearing this morning, saying that he needed time to assemble his legal team. A judge has agreed to give him a month to get that together before deciding whether or not to send him back to Wisconsin to face charges there.

    On Thursday night, however, the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office charged him on five counts — “first-degree intentional homicide, one count of first-degree reckless homicide, one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.”

    If found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, he would get a mandatory life sentence.

    On Twitter for the past few days, conservatives have been pushing the line that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, asserting without evidence that one of his victims, Joseph Rosenbaum, had thrown a Molotov cocktail at him.

    […] even the police are saying that the thing that was thrown at Rittenhouse was in fact a plastic bag.

    Via The Daily Beast:

    According to a criminal complaint, obtained by The Daily Beast, Rittenhouse was walking down the road alongside a reporter at about 11:45 p.m. when a protester, Joseph Rosenbaum, approached and tried to “engage” the armed teen. Rittenhouse did a “juke” move and started running away, the reporter […]

    As Rittenhouse ran across a parking lot, Rosenbaum followed him and threw an object, according to videos reviewed by investigators. “The object does not hit [Rittenhouse] and a second video shows, based on where the object landed, that it was a plastic bag,” the complaint says. “Rosenbaum appears to be unarmed for the duration of this video.”

    Moments later, videos captured a loud bang and a male shouting, “Fuck you!” Another four shots were heard and Rosenbaum was seen falling to the ground.

    While we are not bomb experts here at Wonkette, you don’t really need to be one to discern the difference between a Molotov cocktail …

    […] One of the attorneys representing Rittenhouse at this time is Lin Wood, best known for representing Richard Jewell, the security guard who was falsely accused of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing […]
    Wood told reporters on Thursday that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.

    […] To be fair, a plastic bag can be used as a murder weapon — though throwing it at someone probably would not do much unless it were a magic plastic bag that could fasten itself to the person’s head, suffocating them.

    Wood is also currently representing Dr. Simone Gold of the “America’s Frontline Doctors” videos about how COVID-19 wasn’t any kind of big deal, as well as Patty and Mark McCloskey, the mega-rich St. Louis gun couple, so there’s that. It seems as though he’s gone from being a relatively well-respected libel and defamation attorney to a personal injury attorney for the feelings of rightwing nuts who have made assholes out of themselves and are now sad about people making fun of them.

    […] Those who previously attempted to raise money for Rittenhouse’s defense through GoFundMe were told to GoFuckThemselves.

    […] It’s kind of weird how Lin just threw “human trafficking in there.” Or it would be if he did not have #WWG1WGA [QAnon reference] in his Twitter bio. There is a certain irony in one of the most well known defamation lawyers in the country being in cahoots with a group that regularly goes around insisting that everyone they don’t like is a cannibal/pedophile who eats actual babies for Satan.

    Given that the narrative of Rittenhouse acting in self-defense that has been created by wingnuts who want it to be okay to go out and shoot protesters for funsies bears absolutely no resemblance to the actual facts of the case, Lin is going to have a hell of a time trying to pursue this from that angle. […]

  178. says

    What Is Ivanka Smiling About?

    America is crumbling. But Trump’s daughter is just thrilled to be here.

    For anyone who is actually aware of what is happening in America, watching the Republican National Convention was not a pleasant experience. Despite the reality that most of our lives continue to be upended by the pandemic—the death, the jobs lost, the kids stuck home from school, the parents slowly losing it, the grandparents whose loneliness worries us second only to the prospect of them dying alone—the RNC was a bizarre four-night effort to pretend not only that none of this is […] Trump’s fault, but also that things are actually fine […] The RNC also coincided with two climate disasters—fires burning through much of the West, hurricanes barreling toward the south—and yet another instance of a police officer shooting a Black man. The pageantry of the convention and the parade of speakers making the case that this administration cares about its citizens was painful against this backdrop. But to me, nothing felt as terrible as watching Ivanka Trump speak.

    There has always been some speculation that Trump’s oldest daughter doesn’t approve of his more severe actions—that, unlike her brothers, she actually knows better. She’s supposed to have, or maybe used to have, non-offensive views on topics ranging from gay rights to climate change. She went into her job at the White House talking about wanting to make child care more accessible. But the evidence of Ivanka as policy-softener is not really there, and it’s been clear since Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement four months into his presidency that she was not the moderating force she framed herself as during the 2016 campaign. […] Ivanka was there, in the room, making the choices. As Elaina Plott observed in the New York Times this week, “Ms. Trump now has the burden of the incumbency.”

    Mary Trump, (while being interviewed by Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid and Nicole Wallace), said that Ivanka presented herself as “co-president” in that RNC speech.

    So why did she bug me so much last night? I think it’s because she seemed happy. Like, so so happy. From the moment she walked out of the White House and down the steps to the stage, Ivanka was absolutely radiating in delight to be there. And why shouldn’t she be? Not only is she the only Trump offspring to work in the White House (despite having no qualifications to do so), she’s the one who was selected to introduce her father on the biggest night of the convention. She’s the golden child, and she knows it. While her brothers come across as rabid dogs, she beams. In the face of more than 180,000 Americans dead and gun-toting white teenagers “patrolling” the streets of Kenosha, it’s that smile that really got me.

    […] Ivanka’s job is to humanize her father. So it was no surprise that she opened her convention speech expressing sympathy for those affected by Hurricane Laura, and later noted that she prays for health care workers and those mourning loved ones who have died of COVID. But the rest of the speech was built around what an absolute thrill it has been for Ivanka Trump to watch her father be president. (“Tonight, I stand before you as the proud daughter of the people’s president,” she said, just before noting, “He is our president and my father, Donald J. Trump.”) […] the speech wasn’t really about what’s going on in the country, it was about what Ivanka has gotten to witness: […] She was with her father when he commuted Alice Johnson’s sentence and got to see the “emotion on his face.” She said this all with great feeling and pride. And she smiled, and smiled, and smiled.

    […] Even if quarantine suits you personally, this is, objectively, not a good time. Unfortunately for Ivanka, unhappy is the opposite of her brand. Ivanka is aspirational, she’s about how good it is to be her, about how she has figured out how to be a working mom, and you can too. […]

    “Four years ago, I told you I would fight alongside my father,” she said last night, wearing a great looking pants ensemble, her shiny hair blowing just right in the wind. “And, four years later, here I am.” And it’s true: Here she is, completely removed from where the rest of us are.

  179. blf says

    Re Lynna@201, RWW’s report, Right-Wing Political Operatives Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl Target Black Voters With Robocalls, Disinformation, with more details.

    Also from RWW, Jeremiah Johnson Says COVID-19 Is a Demonic Attack to Prevent Baby Boomers From Reelecting Trump (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    Self-proclaimed prophet Jeremiah Johnson […] has repeatedly claimed to have had a prophetic dream in which he was shown that baby boomers will be the key to Trump’s reelection and outlawing of abortion. Given that COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates are much higher for the elderly population than the general public, Johnson contends that the virus was sent to the United States in order to target this group and prevent them from voting for Trump in November.

    […]

    I actually believe that COVID-19 has come to the shores of America and specifically targeted {this} demographic, Johnson said. The elderly, they’re being wiped out in nursing homes. If you’re elderly, oftentimes you’re on a ventilator, all that stuff. I believe it’s a demonic attack trying to target a group of people that very well could be anointed by God himself to help Trump get reelected.

    To give teh kook some credit, at least he isn’t denying either Covid-19 or that it can be fatal.

  180. says

    A Volcano of Lies

    The profusion of falsehoods from Tom Cotton, Rudy Giuliani, and Ivanka Trump provided a fitting setup for the big man at the Republican National Convention.

    If the first three nights of the Republican National Convention opened a “fire hose of false or misleading claims,” the finale spewed forth a volcano of lies.

    Sen. Tom Cotton, who would like to be secretary of defense in […] Trump’s second term and his successor four years later, rat-a-tat-tatted a dozen points of contrast between Trump and Joe Biden—all of them baseless.

    Biden “slashed defense spending,” while Trump “rebuilt our military.” In fact, President Barack Obama, with Biden’s support, increased defense spending in each of his eight years. Trump increased it more, but it had been plenty built up.

    Biden “treated Israel like a nuisance,” Cotton continued, while “Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Israel.” No examples of Biden’s hostility were cited, because there aren’t any.

    Biden “coddled socialist dictators in Cuba and Venezuela,” while Trump “fights against communism.” Reopening relations with Cuba isn’t quite “coddling,” while, meanwhile, Trump has coddled—in his own words, “fell in love” with—one of the world’s last Communist dictators, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and has expressed greater trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin, still a Soviet man, than in his own intelligence agencies.

    “China is rooting” for Biden to win, Cotton claimed. Not quite: U.S. intelligence agencies have said China would rather not see such an unstable president as Trump remain in office. Meanwhile, the same agencies noted that Russia would very much like to see Trump reelected—and is working for that goal.

    Russia is actually doing a lot. Russia is taking action, many actions, to achieve their goal. Meanwhile, Chira and Iran are mostly just talking and doing nothing.

    Before Cotton came Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal lawyer. In a glow of sweat and a rabid holler […] Giuliani noted that, in 2013, when New York elected a “progressive Democrat mayor,” it was America’s safest city, but now “my city is in shock,” owing to rising rates of murder and looting. “How did we get overwhelmed by crime so quickly?” he asked, adding, “Don’t let Democrats do to America what they have done to New York.”

    Well, the progressive mayor, Bill de Blasio, has his faults, but crime continued to plummet after he was elected. Giuliani and his police chief, Bill Bratton, did much to reduce crime. Murders did rise in de Blasio’s New York last year to 318 —but this is less than half as many as the 673 murders committed in 2000, Giuliani’s penultimate year in office.* […] numbers are still staggeringly low by historical standards.

    Giuliani went too far toward the end of his speech, praising Trump for “his boundless love for our country and all our people, his disciplined work ethic,” and “his understanding of our government”—claims that even the president’s most avid fans must have a hard time believing.

    Giuliani could use that as part of a standup comedy act. He’d get some laughs.

    Soon after came the Republican video touting Trump’s record, all of it otherworldly. He created the “strongest economy in American history” (according to Forbes, Obama’s last three years were stronger than Trump’s first three), “winning the trade war” with China (not yet), “strengthening Medicare and Social Security” (he supports ending payroll taxes, which, according to Fox Business, would deplete the Social Security fund in two years), “bringing troops home” (more troops are in war zones now than when he took office), building “miles of new border wall” (just five new miles actually), and “tackling coronavirus head-on” (hardly).

    Trump’s daughter Ivanka introduced her father, saying, among other whoppers, that he negotiated a “peace agreement in the Middle East, the biggest breakthrough in a quarter-century.” This agreement, between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, was not a peace treaty (the two countries had not been remotely at war); he had little to do with sealing it (except to grease the wheels by offering F-35 jet fighters to the UAE); and it was hardly a breakthrough, much less the biggest one in a quarter-century.

    Then came Trump, and space permits only some of the lowest highlights. On the coronavirus, he said he was “delivering life-saving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.” There are no life-saving therapies, and to the extent some therapies have proved successful, Trump has had nothing to do with them. He claimed convalescent plasma treatments will “save thousands of lives,” a claim debunked by every scientist. Those same scientists have also denounced the notion of a vaccine by the end of the year as irresponsible. […]

    He claimed taking heroic action to invoke the Defense Production Act to manufacture masks, gloves, and gowns—when in fact he invoked it many weeks after first saying he would. […]

    Painting the big picture, Trump warned that the election will decide “whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.” This, of course, is the first big myth the Republicans are putting forth: that Biden is a socialist or kowtows to socialists in his party.

    “Your vote,” he went on, “will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans or … give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators, and criminals.” This, of course, is the second big myth: that Biden will defund the police, repeal the Second Amendment, and let all the prisoners free. Biden has said the exact opposite, but Trump’s supporters are willing to close one of their ears. […]

    no previous convention in modern times has seen such endless regurgitation of pure calumny.

    Trump boasted of withdrawing from the “job-killing” Trans-Pacific Partnership (which, in fact, would have increased jobs and provided a multinational bulwark against the Chinese expansion that he, elsewhere in the speech, so loathed and for which he blames Biden). He also hailed his support for the Keystone pipeline (which has since been stopped), his withdrawal from the “unfair and costly Paris climate accord” (whose provisions are voluntary), and, of course, the Iran nuclear deal (which, far from exerting extreme pressure on Iran, has resulted in the resumption of Iran’s nuclear program).

    He called for members of the Border Patrol to rise and be applauded, without saying anything about the families separated and children locked in cages along the border. […]

  181. blf says

    The Onion:

    ● Trump Children Worried Aging Father Not Safe To Be Alone After Falling In Polls Again (no “story”, just an amusing headline).

    ● Highlights Of The 2020 Republican National Convention:

    […]
     • Finally able to put a face to the name of this Trump guy who signed our stimulus checks.
     • Some occasional liberties with the facts, sure.
     • The largest public display of dental veneers in American history.
     • Impassioned speeches of support for Trump from some of his top dependents.
     • DC–based fence manufacturers making an absolute killing fortifying the White House perimeter.
     • At last had a chance to hear what leaders of the Republican Party think about leaders of the Democratic Party.
     • Trump expertly disguising fear-mongering as nothing more than race-baiting.
     • Disturbing lack of blinking across the board.
     • Mark and Patricia McCloskey condemning protests for disrupting lives of violent suburban residents.
     • Four nights dedicated to all Americans who are furious about the state of our nation and will fight like hell to keep it from improving.

  182. blf says

    Lynna@291, quotes Tom Cotton as claiming Trump moved the US Embassy to Israel (my added emphasis).

    Did teh eejit really say that? According to this transcript, he said Jerusalem.

    I understand hair furor said recently he’d moved the capital of Israel.

  183. says

    From the Washington Post editorial board: Global freedom would suffer grievous harm in a second Trump term

    […] Regimes founded on democracy and human rights, which 25 years ago appeared to have triumphed, now face a grave challenge from a resurgent authoritarianism, which employs new technologies to refashion the tyranny that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union could not sustain. At stake is not only which nations will dominate global affairs, but also whether individual freedoms […] will survive.

    A 21st-century victory for democracy, like those that came in World War II and the Cold War, is inconceivable without the leadership of the United States. America must prevail in the race to develop new technologies, rally fellow democracies to counter authoritarian aggression, and reform capitalism and democracy itself to serve a new age. But […] Trump cannot deliver that leadership. On the contrary, over the past three years he has done as much as any global actor to advance the cause of authoritarianism and undermine the free world.

    Mr. Trump’s most conspicuous aid to tyranny has been his relentless support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who aided Mr. Trump’s 2016 election and whose foreign policy is laser-focused on weakening the United States and dividing it from other democracies in the NATO alliance. Mr. Trump has provided invaluable support for this cause, most recently by ordering a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany. While he has not hesitated to publicly trash NATO and the leaders of Germany, Canada and Britain, Mr. Trump has never uttered a word of criticism of Mr. Putin, even after receiving U.S. intelligence reports indicating that Moscow paid bounties to the Afghan Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers.

    Until recently, Mr. Trump offered similar obeisance to Chinese ruler Xi Jinping, calling him a “brilliant leader” and “a great man.” Mr. Trump encouraged Mr. Xi’s cultural genocide against the Uighur population of the Xinjiang region. That campaign has pioneered Beijing’s technologies of comprehensive surveillance and other AI-aided repression […] Mr. Trump also promised Mr. Xi he would remain silent on the suppression of Hong Kong’s democracy movement while negotiating trade concessions. The administration’s belated reversals on those issues, tied to Mr. Trump’s attempt to shift blame for the more than 177,000 U.S. covid-19 deaths, has predictably altered neither China’s behavior nor the conclusion among many Asians that the United States can no longer be counted on to defend democratic values or resist Chinese aggression.

    […] China and Russia will peddle their authoritarian solutions while the democracies press for free speech and free elections. That competition is already well underway — and again, Mr. Trump has a record of backing the wrong side.

    Aspiring strongmen who are dismantling democratic institutions in their countries have been embraced by Mr. Trump and welcomed to the White House […]. This sordid parade has featured Abdel Fatah al-Sissi of Egypt, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Prayut Chan-ocha of Thailand, Viktor Orban of Hungary and Andrzej Duda of Poland […]. At the same time, Mr. Trump has shunned democratic leaders attempting to resist the Russians or Chinese — most notably Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has never received a White House invitation after resisting Mr. Trump’s demand for a politicized investigation of Joe Biden. This month, Mr. Trump has done nothing to help the Belarus democratic movement seeking to overthrow the longtime dictator of a nation Mr. Putin seeks to dominate.

    The democratic leaders of South Korea and Japan, the two most important U.S. allies in East Asia, have been whipsawed by Mr. Trump’s insistence on sweeping trade concessions and vast increases in subsidies for U.S. bases on their territories. They watched with dismay as Mr. Trump meanwhile proclaimed his “love” for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a Chinese client, and scaled back U.S. military exercises with South Korea. […]

    For all this, the greatest damage Mr. Trump has done to the cause of democracy has come at home. His assaults on the U.S. media and courts, attempts to politicize Justice Department investigations, and bald efforts to manipulate voting in November’s election threaten to degrade what has been the world’s strongest democracy while offering a model for budding authoritarians around the world. His disregard for science and restrictions on immigration have weakened the chances that the United States will win the race to develop new technologies. His incessant lying has helped to create a political culture in which wild conspiracy theories flourish and there is no consensus on basic facts, making informed legislative debate and compromise all but impossible.

    Though damaged, U.S. democracy and the global cause of freedom so far have survived Mr. Trump’s term in office, in large part because they have the determined support of millions of citizens. Yet there should be no question that in a second Trump term, they would suffer grievous and perhaps irreversible harm. […] Mr. Trump must be defeated.

  184. says

    Judge sides with states, orders Trump and Postal Service to cough up documents on sabotage ASAP

    […] In the case led by Washington state and joined by 13 others, Chief Judge Stanley Bastian of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington ordered the Trump administration and the USPS to provide documentation about the mail slowdowns within 10 days.

    At a hearing on Thursday, Bastian told the states and administration to act quickly, and warned the USPS not to try to drag out the process. “We don’t have much time between now and this election,” Bastian said. “I think everyone on this call wants their vote to be counted.” He said what everyone in the country is thinking: “Everybody in this country is relying on the Postal Service to do their job,” Bastian added. “I hope at some point we’ll be hearing from the Postal Service not a bunch of procedural or jurisdictional arguments, but some assurance to the American public that the Postal Service is up to the challenge to deliver ballots to the voters and back to the states so they can be counted.” […]

    Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the USPS still hasn’t answered to the problem of mail delays, and it’s not at all clear what actions DeJoy has halted or reversed. The states want, among other documents, “a list of all mail sorting machines identified for decommissioning, including their locations, and whether they will be reinstalled if they have already been decommissioned.” Ferguson added that the problem goes far beyond November’s balloting, but is about the timely delivery of prescription drugs and Social Security benefits and rent payments and everything else the public depends upon.

  185. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    After being forced to cancel all its spring performances due to the coronavirus pandemic, Finland’s National Opera is opening with an opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart featuring a topical twist: a story line that plays off of the Nordic country’s outbreak.

    The 100-minute piece Covid fan tutte is meant as a satirical adaptation of the Austrian composer’s classic Cosi fan tutte.

    The Finnish-language production that premiered on Friday conveys scenes from the coronavirus spring in Finland with a look at social isolation, job losses and travel restrictions, among other topics.

    “Without humour, these extraordinary times would have been very hard to take,” said soprano Karita Mattila, who will sing the role of a maid, Despina, a character from Mozart’s classic who is now navigating her way through the pandemic.

    The opera will be put on under strict distancing rules. Performed on the Helsinki Opera House’s main stage, only 650 spectators will be allowed inside, half the venue’s capacity.

    Face masks are strongly recommended, though not compulsory. There will be no choir on the stage but its singing will be heard through a prerecorded performance.

  186. says

    TPM report on #293 – “NBA Announces Playoff Deal With Players That Includes Big Win For Voting Rights”:

    Several cities with NBA arenas could see those facilities turned into in-person voting sites this fall, thanks to a deal reached Friday between players and franchise officials to resume the NBA playoffs this weekend.

    The NBA and NBA players’ association announced the agreement — which also includes the establishment of a social justice coalition and an NBA ad campaign promoting civic engagement — after several playoff games were put on hold this week due to team boycotts. The player strike was in protest of a Wisconsin police officer on Sunday shooting and paralyzing a black man who appeared to show no immediate threat.

    “In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID,” the statement announcing the new deal said.

    While some, including White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, dismissed the NBA strike, the benefits this agreement stands to bring voters — including voters of color — are concrete and significant.

    One of Kentucky’s most populous counties hosted in-person voting in a sporting arena for its June primary and it proved to an effective approach in the pandemic to keep wait times low while keeping voters and workers spaced out to limit coronavirus transmission.

    Furthermore, NBA arenas are often located near public transportation, making them accessible to low-income voters.

    Georgia election officials had already announced a plan with the NBA Hawks to use their Atlanta arena for early voting, and since then, a civic engagement group launched by NBA star LeBron James has helped craft deals to use sporting facilities in other parts of the country for voting.

    These partnerships between election officials and sporting facilities have also facilitated the use of arena employees as poll workers, helping to solve the poll worker shortage COVID-19 has caused.

    Friday’s announcement acknowledged that there might be legal or logistical challenges in some NBA hometowns in transforming those arenas into voting sites.

    “If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving board,” the announcement said.

  187. blf says

    Follow-up to @439(previous page), Gospel-singing Brazilian politician may be expelled from congress to face murder charges:

    […]
    A gospel-singing Brazilian lawmaker accused of masterminding the assassination of the husband who was once her adopted son is facing calls for her expulsion from congress so she can face murder charges.

    Flordelis dos Santos de Souza — a favela-born celebrity congresswoman […] — is fighting to avoid jail after police claimed she had orchestrated her partner’s 2019 murder.

    The politician met — and initially adopted — Anderson d Carmo in 1991 when he was 14 and she was 30, and they married in 1998 after becoming romantically involved. He was gunned down outside their home on 16 June last year with the singer […] claiming her husband had been killed by thieves.

    But on Monday, investigators alleged she had plotted to kill the 42-year-old preacher, with the help of at least seven of the couple’s 55 mostly adopted children. Heavily armed police arrested five of the congresswoman’s children and one granddaughter, but were unable to detain Flordelis since she enjoys parliamentary immunity having been elected to Brazil’s 513-member lower house in 2018.

    Fellow lawmakers hope to change that.

    […]

    “Given the avalanche of evidence against congresswoman Flordelis, it is clear she cannot remain in the position to which she was elected,” Motta, who is also a gospel singer, argued in [an official petition to the speaker of the lower house].

    […]

  188. blf says

    Editorial in the Grauniad, The Guardian view on Trump’s convention speech: the unwitting truth amid lies:

    The president’s [sic] address was an effective political spectacle, but said everything about what is wrong with him and the Republicans

    There are lies, there are damned lies — and then there was this week’s Republican national convention: a four-day cavalcade of brazen falsehoods from the president and his enablers. Wild distortions and exaggerations are hardly new to politics. But Donald Trump’s mendacity is in a class of its own, as his closing speech on Thursday underscored.

    [… T]he lies about Mr Biden and the Democrats pale beside those told about Mr Trump’s own record. Empathetic. Feminist. Most remarkably, in Melania’s telling, a man of total honesty.

    When he announced: total say very modestly that I have done more for the African-American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln, it was hard to know whether the adverb or the rest of the statement was the more misleading. The most glaring falsehood is that he took swift action to protect his country from coronavirus, instead of effectively abandoning it to its grim fate — 181,000 deaths to date. The Republicans want America to believe that the worst is over, though more than 1,000 people are dying a day.

    This refusal to even brush shoulders with the truth looks unhinged to those who revile him. But it may well be effective. He came to power by recognising an underlying truth: many Americans were poorly served by years of economic growth, and could no longer identify with those who purportedly served them in Washington. The conspiracy theories embraced by many of Mr Trump’s supporters make his own fantasies look almost tame. […]

    […]

    Mr Trump has never disguised his worst; he was elevated despite, or perhaps even because of that. His speech, like those that preceded it this week, told America what it can expect from him. In context as well as tone it reflected his disdain for democracy. […]

    [… W]hat matters will not only be how many people are persuaded to vote on 3 November, but how many are allowed to, and whether their votes are recognised. A man as careless of truth as Mr Trump cannot be expected to respect the facts should they prove inconvenient.

  189. blf says

    Follow-up to @267, from the Grauniad’s current policegoons live blog:

    […]
    Jacob Blake […] is reportedly no longer handcuffed to his hospital bed.

    According to CNN, the felony warrants against Blake have been vacated, and officers[goons] are no longer guarding him at the hospital.

    […]

  190. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Far-right activists filmed hassling asylum seekers in hotels:

    […]
    A video by Britain First, circulated widely on social media, shows a group of far-right activists entering a hotel in Bromsgrove, near Birmingham, and banging on bedroom doors, demanding to know what country the asylum seekers are from.

    The Britain First members say in the video they have entered legally and that the hotel is housing illegal immigrants.

    The asylum seekers appear not to understand who the far-right activists are. Most who are interrogated answer, perhaps believing the Britain First activists to be officials. Many of the asylum seekers could be at risk if their faces are shown on camera.

    Campaigners from the group Status Now have raised concerns about the video and have complained to the Home Office and the accommodation provider Serco about the incident. […]

    […]

    Other similar videos are circulating on YouTube from far-right organisations, including one that shows asylum seekers being harassed outside their hotel in Newcastle.

    Far-right organisations are also circulating on social media lists of hotels where asylum seekers are being accommodated.

    […]

  191. tomh says

    @ #307
    The GOP may not mention repealing the ACA, but they are full steam ahead on the court case that is trying to do just that. The Trump Administration has thrown their full weight behind Texas, which is challenging the constitutionality of the entire ACA, in the case that has reached the Supreme Court. The Court has scheduled oral arguments for November 10, one week after the election, with a decision to come in 2021.

    The Dems should not just hammer health care constantly, but stress how, in spite of Trump promising to protect the existing condition insurance clause, they are actually trying to get rid of it, along with the rest of the ACA.

  192. says

    From Michelle Obama:

    These past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what our kids are seeing every day in this country – the lack of empathy, the division stoked in times of crisis, the age-old and systemic racism that’s been so prominent this summer. Sometimes they see it on the news. Sometimes they see it from the White House Rose Garden. And sometimes they see it from the back seat of a car.

    Like so many of you, I’m exhausted and frustrated right now. It’s a weight that I know Black and Brown people all across the country are shouldering once again. And we’re so often left wondering how things will get better.

    “These protests and actions will not make Jacob Blake walk again. They will not erase the trauma from those children. And they will not bring back anyone who’s been taken from us. But they will do something. They already are – opening eyes, rattling consciences, and reminding people of all backgrounds that this problem wasn’t solved earlier in the summer and won’t be any time soon unless we all make a change.

    Keep speaking out wherever you are – board rooms, class rooms, dining rooms, break rooms, locker rooms – because if enough of us do that, we’ll open up even more minds. And maybe we can prevent the next name from being added to this seemingly unending list of tragedies.

  193. blf says

    Steve Bell in the Guardian, On gun crime in America (cartoon). (For those wondering about the kkk klown kostume shaped USAlien flags with menacing eyes, that originally started as Mr Bell’s metaphor for Putin (as I recall), but I believe is now used as the shady people behind, controlling, or supporting hair furor.)

  194. says

    Excerpts from Susan B. Glasser’s article, “The Malign Fantasy of Donald Trump’s Convention.”

    For four years, Donald Trump has been asking us to believe the unbelievable, to accept the unthinkable, to replace harsh realities with simple fantasies. On Thursday night, using the White House as a gaudy backdrop, [Trump] made his case to the American people for four more years. His speech capping the Republican National Convention was long, acerbic, untruthful, and surprisingly muted in comparison to the grandeur of the setting, which no chief executive before him has dared to appropriate in such a partisan way. “We will make America greater than ever before,” he promised.

    Even for a salesman like Trump, it was never going to be an easy deal to close, what with a deadly pandemic, mass unemployment, nationwide protests over racial injustice, and even a killer hurricane smashing into the Gulf Coast hours before his speech. Some seventy per cent of Americans currently believe that the country is on the wrong track, according to recent polls. […]

    This should be devastating context for a President, any President, seeking reëlection, a true picture of American carnage to replace the false one that Trump conjured four years ago. Yet the strategy of Trump and his team is now clear: to talk about how bad things would be in Joe Biden’s America, a violent socialist ruin in which freedom itself will no longer exist and rampaging protesters, like those now committing “rioting, looting, arson, and violence” in “Democrat-run cities,” will be coming soon to a suburb near you. […] “No one will be safe in Biden’s America,” Trump said on Thursday night. […]

    Americans know Trump pretty well by now, and so it was more than a little discordant to hear him extolled throughout the Convention this week as a family man, promoter of women, friend to African-Americans, champion of religious liberty, and lover of immigrants, who interrupted his own Convention to preside over a White House naturalization ceremony for five lucky new citizens. A courageous patriot who works “from dawn to midnight,” as his daughter Ivanka told us, this Convention Trump personally charmed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, made peace in the Middle East, and single-handedly saved U.S. industries and unborn babies. And then there was his response to the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps the Administration’s shining hour, in which the President bravely disregarded the so-called experts to ban flights from China, thus saving millions of lives, while working closely with America’s governors, providing medical workers with all the resources they needed, reopening schools and businesses, and putting the greatest economy in history on the path to a fast recovery. The trolling was as epic as the setting was legally questionable: […] While thus publicly and flagrantly flouting public-health standards, Trump touted his response to the pandemic as one that is focussed exclusively “on the science, the facts, and the data.”

    […] a President whose prospects, left unvarnished by lies and fantasy, were so poor that his strategists had to reinvent him as a different person altogether. […]

    The truth is that Trump’s heart wasn’t really in the ridiculously uncredible makeover anyway. Fear is his preferred political drug, and nasty personal attacks are his default setting. This is what he is pushing, now and forever. Minutes into his speech, he framed the election as a fight to “save the American Dream” and “the American way of life” from Democrats who would give “free reign to violent anarchists, agitators, and criminals who threaten our citizens.” Trump attacked Biden by name forty-one times in his prepared remarks, some kind of record in a Convention speech. […]

    […] But the real message of the evening was that nothing, not even a deadly plague or a cratering economy, can stop Trump from being Trump. He bragged. He lied. He even ad-libbed a taunt at his critics, using the White House as his prop. “We’re here,” he said, pointing to the flood-lit mansion behind him, “and they’re not.”

    […] Trump’s Presidency […] has always been a puzzling combination of the incompetent and the dangerous; from the start, it has been equal parts dystopianism and hucksterism, with a strong side of nepotism thrown in. […]

    Perhaps the most quoted line from Trump’s 2016 speech was a memorable expression of his aspirational authoritarianism: “I alone can fix it.” […]. What happened at the White House last night was its tawdry, perhaps inevitable, sequel.

    […] The dark hellscape of America in the Obama years was not the subtext of his candidacy back then; it was the text of it, and if it did not actually exist—well, that was O.K., because Trump was more than willing to invent it. Four years later, as an actual hellscape unfolds, there is another act of invention: pretending that the cataclysm is not happening, or spuriously claiming that the true crisis is not the pandemic or the economic catastrophe or police brutality toward Black people but a plague of illegal aliens and open borders and attacks on law enforcement—all the same old racially coded appeals to [Trumps] white political base […]. “The more . . . violence reigns, the better it is” for Trump, Kellyanne Conway […] told Fox News […] Trump thinks law and order won him the election four years ago. He thinks it will do so again in November.

    […] This year, Trump wanted it to be all about him, and it was. […] Trump’s ever-slavish Vice-President managed to mention him thirty-three times in his thirty-six-minute speech.

    Not surprisingly, all the speeches praised Trump […] Claims about him were outlandish and untrue […]

    [Trump] can’t help but recycle his own lines. He has no other playbook. […]

    Running as an incumbent was always going to be a problem for Trump. He is a divider, a fighter; he prefers to be against things, not for them. He loves to take credit—and to avoid responsibility. His speeches skew dark and grievance-ridden, even in the best of times. […] We don’t know if Trump will be reëlected in November, but as he enters this final sixty-six-day race to Election Day, we do know this: Donald J. Trump has only one script in politics, and he is determined to use it over and over and over again.

    New Yorker link

  195. says

    Excerpts from Masha Gessen’s article, “Trump’s Republican National Convention Was a Spectacle Fit for a Would-Be King”:

    On Thursday night, Donald Trump stood on the South Lawn of the White House and spoke for more than an hour. […] Trump accepted the Party’s nomination for a second term as President. (He mangled this procedural line, saying that he accepted the nomination “profoundly,” rather than “proudly,” as his script indicated.) But Trump looked less like a candidate than like a king standing in front of his castle, flanked by members of his dynasty, […] The entire four-day spectacle of the Convention seemed designed to assert the existence not of a government, which begins and ends with elections, but of a Trump regime […]

    Trump’s use of the White House, where he appeared every day of the Convention; the Washington Monument, illuminated by fireworks at the Convention’s finale; Fort McHenry, where Vice-President Mike Pence delivered his speech on Wednesday; and the U.S. government-owned Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, where most of the Convention speeches were delivered, is, on the face of it, a violation of the Hatch Act, which bans the use of federal property for campaign purposes. It is also an assertion of impunity: violations of the Hatch Act are punishable by removal from office, but Trump shows that he can get away with this […] Democrats were repeatedly—and inaccurately—branded throughout the Convention, are trying to divest him of his property.

    […] every night was anchored by Trump’s family members. The Republican Party dispensed with a platform this year, and its entire agenda could be summed up on a single sheet of paper: the Party supports Trump. […] Trumpism is not merely the governing philosophy of another Republican Administration. It is a new system entirely.

    […] On the last night, at the White House, the cameras showed a bank of American flags and, during the finale, lingered on the raised platforms, a red-carpeted arrangement that Trump apparently favors for the grandest of his grand appearances. […]

    To call things what they are, the Republicans adopted a fascist aesthetic for this year’s Convention. It was in the pillars and the flags; the military-style outfit that Melania Trump wore to deliver her speech, on the second night; the screaming fervor with which many of the speeches were delivered; the repeated references to “law and order”; and phrases like “weakness is provocative,” which the Republican senator Tom Cotton offered on the final evening. The aesthetic—and the rhetoric—held out the carrot of greatness, […] The seduction of greatness may grow proportionately to anxiety: the more scared one is—of losing one’s job or health insurance, or of the coronavirus, of the world never going back to normal, among other worries—the more reassuring it is to say (better yet, to scream) that one lives in the greatest country on earth. One looks at people shouting triumphantly—none of them social distancing, only a few wearing masks—and one feels somehow uplifted by the fantasy of being one of them.

    The Republicans offered greatness; the Democrats, in contrast, proposed goodness. […] The D.N.C.’s singular message is that Americans ought to choose to live in a country run by good people rather than callous liars. […]

    The Party has adopted “Build back better” as its campaign slogan—a vague and misleading phrase. It tells us nothing about what it would be like to live in a country whose guiding principles are mutual care, empathy, and goodness. […] It may be that voters have such deep reserves of both decency and confidence that they will reject the siren call of greatness in favor of the amorphous promise of goodness. But, whatever the polls may say now, it would be foolhardy to count on such an outcome.

    New Yorker link

  196. says

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

    * Quite a sight: “Thousands of protesters gathered Friday at the Lincoln Memorial to call for overall criminal justice restructuring and racial equality while honoring the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ address from the same location.”

    * Hurricane Laura: “The most intense hurricane to hit Louisiana in more than a century has left at least six people dead, hundreds of thousands of people without power and an untold number of homes and buildings in ruins.” […]

    * USPS problems persist: “One week after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced he was temporarily suspending changes to the United States Postal Service, NBC News spoke with eight postal union representatives from throughout the nation, all of whom expressed concerns and provided examples of ongoing delays in mail delivery. They said the recent removal of hundreds of postal sorting machines and rigid new operational directives for mail trucks and carriers have exacerbated the slowdown.” […]

    * The obviously right call: “A federal judge has ordered the State Department to issue a U.S. passport to the daughter of a married gay couple whom the Trump administration had argued in court was ineligible for birthright citizenship.”

    * Tokyo: “Teary-eyed and taking a bow, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on Friday announced he was resigning due to ill health. ‘I cannot be prime minister if I cannot make the best decisions for the people,’ Abe, 65, said during a live public broadcast to the nation.”

    * CDC: “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seeking to clarify recommendations on coronavirus testing that incited an uproar, said that ‘testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients.’ But his clarification may have further confused the issue.” […]

  197. says

    Link to video.

    Maya Wiley corrects Giuliani’s depiction of ‘lawless’ NYC in RNC speech. The former counselor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio [offered] context and corrections to the inaccuracies in Rudy Giuliani’s speech to the Republican National Convention.

  198. says

    Follow-up to comment 272.

    Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) fired back at […] Trump after he suggested sending the National Guard to Oregon’s largest city to deal with protests, pleading with him to “stay away, please.”

    “Yet again, you said you offered to aid Portland by sending in federal law enforcement to our city. On behalf of the City of Portland: No thanks,” Wheeler wrote in a fiery letter to the president Friday.

    “We don’t need your politics of division and demagoguery. Portlanders are onto you. We have already seen your reckless disregard for human life in your bumbling response to the COVID pandemic. And we know you’ve reached the conclusion that images of violence or vandalism are your only ticket to reelection,” he added. […]

    Link

  199. blf says

    ‘I don’t have to smile if I don’t feel like it!’: Covid freed me from politeness and unwanted touching:

    […]
    Just before the New York shutdown for Covid, I’d been kvetching all over the place about people touching me too much. It was the feminist rant of a woman with experience in the service industry, mostly. But in particular, a guy who’d recently not-really-asked me out had decided to repeatedly reinforce his ambiguous, undeclared interest in me by putting his hands on my shoulders at the slightest provocation whenever he ran into me in public, coming up from behind me while I sat working at my computer at a cafe, or just going full-frontal, sometimes sideways, even.

    Along came the shutdown. Suddenly, people who used to reach for me found themselves spasmodically curling their arms back to bring their hands to their chests, and standing six feet away from me.

    It was delightful.

    And then there were the masks: I no longer had to smile if I didn’t feel like it! That, too, was fortifying.

    One day, during a walk, I saw the shoulder-clapping fellow I’d kvetched about rounding the corner and veered away from him into the street, and, our eyes meeting above our masks, I said out loud, “Oh, my God! Get away from me!” and laughed rather insanely as we passed each other. It was the laughter of a woman freed and sanctioned by circumstance to demand that men respect her personal space at last. It’s the one thing I hope never changes back.

    […] I am spoiled, now. As a server, I’d had to tolerate a lot of demands from strangers to fake-adore them, particularly from men. Whoever did that study about how servers who touched their customers got better tips than those who didn’t should be boiled alive. I blame that study for the fact that everyone now wants to leverage their tips on how much you seem to love them. Ugh.

    Good grief. I don’t recall ever hearing of such an effect or any studies on it, but there does seem to have been some. For example, Reach Out and Touch Your Customers (PDF), 1998, which concludes: Our results, along with those of previous research, suggest that hospitality managers could benefit from encouraging their employees to touch customers. Such a policy would make customers feel more welcome and appreciated. It would also increase employees’ tip income, which should increase employee morale and reduce turnover. We see no valid reason to forgo these benefits. Thus, our recommendation is to reach out and touch your customers.

    I would suggest boiling in oil, or molten lead, rather than water!

    Back to the column in the Grauniad:

    […]
    Knowing I’d likely never work at my local cafe again, I felt free to walk past the customers I’d never liked and not smile or even greet them. I sometimes pretended not to see them at all. Oh, the joy! I only stopped short of saying, “I never liked you.” It reminded me of Mark Twain’s short story, The Facts Concerning a Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut, in which the narrator manages to eliminate his conscience and goes on a killing spree — that’s how sinful it feels for a woman to not smile at strangers who greet her.

    I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my ladylike ways. Blame the ’rona or congratulate me for my newfound self-possession, but whichever you do, stand back six feet while you’re doing it, please.

    This is quite different to the French custom of shaking hands with the server (pre-pandemic) or bumping elbows (now), or la bise (cheek kissing (pre-pandemic)), especially if one knows them; e.g., is a frequent customer. That touching is by mutual consent, a genuine friendly greeting.

  200. says

    Satire/humor from Andy Borowitz: “Trump Warns That Biden Presidency Would Mean Regular Mail Service and Sports”

    In an apocalyptic vision of life under his Democratic rival, Donald Trump [warned] on Thursday night that a Biden Presidency would mean regular mail service and sports.

    An advance copy of Trump’s final R.N.C. speech revealed that Trump will paint an ominous picture of a nation living under the tyranny of uninterrupted postal delivery and athletic events.

    “Joe Biden and his left-wing puppet masters will take whatever measures they deem necessary to insure that the mail is delivered in a timely fashion,” he will warn. “Biden and his radical henchwomen, Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will stop at nothing to make that nightmare a reality.”

    Additionally, Trump will charge, “If Joe Biden is allowed to wipe out the pandemic and institute police reforms, professional sports will be played like never before.”

    “No city will be safe from sports,” he will add.

    Trump will end his relentlessly downbeat speech on a note of optimism, however. “Only one thing can protect America from the sinister threat of mail and sports,” he will declare. “Me.”

    Link

  201. says

    blf @317, I’ve found that a similar dynamic exists at all levels of society in the USA. For instance, if I wanted the men in a company meeting (committee of upper management, including me as also one of the managers) to listen to me, as opposed to defaulting into listening to each other and ignoring me, I needed to touch one of the men on the arm. After the touch, that man would listen to me. All the other men would follow suit, as if having earned the imprimatur of one man I was worthy of attention.

    I worked for that company for about five years. It never changed.

    I found the same dynamic to be dominant in every workplace. Admittedly, this was about 15 years ago. Things may have changed since then. I have been working for myself, by myself, ever since.

    No one disrespects me in my office. Some people try, via email or phone, etc. I find it easy to push back.

  202. blf says

    Follow-up to @182 and SC@185, Banksy-funded boat nears ‘state of emergency’ as it shelters 200 people:

    […]
    A rescue boat [Louise Michel] financed by the British street artist Banksy is close to declaring a “state of emergency” after the crew helped 130 migrants and are now safeguarding over 200 people off Libya’s coast, while the European authorities ignore their request for help.

    […]

    On Friday, the crew of European activists responded to a mayday call by Moonbird, an aircraft that monitors migrants’ boat in danger in the central Mediterranean, which had spotted a dingy that was not moving and was taking in water.

    “Louise Michel proceeded at full speed,” a ship spokesperson said. “We handed out life vests to 130 people to secure the situation.”

    The rubber dinghy is currently located in the Maltese search and rescue zone, dangerously overcrowded and taking in water, with a dead body onboard and several others suffering from fuel burns and injuries, after having spent several days at sea.

    The passengers had previously reached out to the Alarm Phone, an emergency hotline assisting refugees at sea, and requested immediate rescue. Both activists of Alarm Phone and Moonbird alerted European authorities to the boat in distress.

    The crew alleged that neither the Maltese and Italian authorities reacted adequately.

    […]

    The activists stated that the people had been left alone in a European search and rescue zone and warned: “Don’t let it become a body count. Do your job. Rescue them.”

    Lea Reisner, head of operations for the Louise Michel, said: “The people have sat in a mix of salt water and fuel for days. It is night and European states are not doing their fucking job. They deny responsibility while we are trying to keep everyone alive … We need immediate assistance.”

    Neeske Beckmann of the Moonbird said: “We were shocked when we saw the rubber boat — it was incredibly overcrowded and people onboard were trying to shuffle water out of the boat with their bare hands. We knew this was a grave emergency situation and decided to send out a mayday relay to all authorities and actors in the vicinity. Responsible European authorities failed to react to our distress call and only the Louise Michel responded to this serious distress case.”

    […]

    On Wednesday, 45 people — including five children — died when the engine on their boat exploded off Libya, in the country’s deadliest shipwreck this year, the UN said. More than 19,500 migrants have survived the Mediterranean crossing along the central maritime route this year and reached Italy or Malta.

    Vesselfinder suggests there are several fishing boats, a cargo ship, and a tanker, in the immediate vicinity (as of about twenty minutes ago), and that the Louise Michel is underway (destination unknown). I suppose they could be trying to tow the dingy (seems unlikely), or there are c.200 people plus crew onboard (which would be considerably (over-)crowded (it’s only a 30 metre former French customs patrol vessel, the Suroît).

  203. blf says

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

    Florida governor Ron DeSantis believes tourists could safely take commercial flights to visit the state, as newly reported coronavirus cases grew by more than 3,800 people, down from peak averages of nearly 12,000 cases daily in mid-July.

    DeSantis said he had not heard of any airline passenger catching the virus on a plane. […]

    Even assuming he’s correct about commercial aeroplanes being “safe”, that’s spectacularly missing the point: Infected people may arrive, and infected people may leave, in both cases, potentially spreading the infection at their destinations (at least). Or has he forgotten hair furor’s claims about the “success” of “shutting down” air travel…?

  204. blf says

    me@321, Sorry, that’s from the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog (top link), not their USAlien live blog… albeit he’s still a blithering wannabe-dalek & confirmed-eejit.

  205. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Secret Service copes with coronavirus cases in aftermath of Trump appearances
    By Carol D. Leonnig
    August 28, 2020

    When President Trump gave a speech to a group of sheriffs in Tampa late last month, his decision to travel forced a large contingent of Secret Service agents to head to a state that was then battling one of the worst coronavirus surges in the nation.

    Even before Air Force One touched down on July 31, the fallout was apparent: Five Secret Service agents already on the ground had to be replaced after one tested positive for the coronavirus and the others working in proximity were presumed to be infected, according to people familiar with the situation.

    The previously unreported episode is one of a series of examples of how Trump’s insistence on traveling and holding campaign-style events amid the pandemic has heightened the risks for the people who safeguard his life, intensifying the strain on the Secret Service.

    In the past two months, dozens of Secret Service agents who worked to ensure the security of the president and Vice President Pence at public events have been sickened or sidelined because they were in direct contact with infected people, according to multiple people familiar with the episodes, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the incidents.

    Despite that, Trump has continued to hold large gatherings — most dramatically at the White House on Thursday night, when he delivered his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention before a crowd of 1,500 people seated closely together on the South Lawn, with few masks in sight. The vast majority were not tested for the coronavirus ahead of time.
    […]

    The men and women of the Secret Service live by a unique code, one in which they pledge that they are willing to take a bullet for the president to safeguard a stable democracy.

    But this new virus that has killed nearly 180,000 Americans in eight months has prompted some to ask a new question: Should they be required to risk contracting a lethal disease — and infecting a loved one — to secure an event that does not follow health protocols?
    […]

    “Never before has the Secret Service run up against a president so intent on putting himself first regardless of the costs, including to those around him,” said Ned Price, a national security expert and former CIA analyst. “And by maintaining a rigorous travel schedule and otherwise flouting public health guidance, he is demanding that agents add to their already considerable professional risk in ways that are qualitatively different than what they signed up for.”

    Many more examples of positive tests and quarantines, including a trip of the VP that had to be postponed because the Service couldn’t round up enough healthy replacements.

  206. says

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Guardian – “Hope is a dying ember for black people in the US. Athletes have rekindled it”:

    Do you want to know what it feels like to be black in America this week? Think about Survivor, or Naked and Afraid, or Alone – or any of those wilderness shows in which a person’s survival in a hostile environment depends on keeping that crucial campfire burning bright. Inevitably, some disaster occurs and the fire nearly goes out. Then, on their hands and knees, the person tries desperately to fan one dying ember back to life.

    For the African American community living in a hostile environment, that dying ember is hope. Hope that America was finally committed to racial equity. Hope that being black wasn’t a crime and the punishment wasn’t death. The popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement that swept through America this summer after the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd stoked that hope inside us into a small but powerful sun.

    Then this week, a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by police, a 17-year-old was charged with intentional homicide after two men were killed at a subsequent protests, and the Republican National Convention featured speakers who, instead of voicing outrage over systemic racism and vowing to end it, complained about the audacity of ungrateful black people protesting that their husbands, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers were being murdered by police while President Trump and the GOP conspired to take away their right to vote.

    Yeah, hope in the black community took a big hit this week. The small sun set quickly. The dying ember had been extinguished.

    But then along came the Milwaukee Bucks, my old team, who announced they would boycott Game 5 of the NBA playoffs, explaining, “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.” They demanded that the Wisconsin state legislature, after months of inaction, “take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.” And just like that, the ember of hope was flickering to life again.

    Other NBA and WNBA teams followed. Games were postponed. That both leagues spoke out immediately was courageous, especially given the hundreds of millions of dollars involved and all the expense and effort it took to create their sports bubbles. But it wasn’t that great of surprise because 81.1% of the NBA and 88% of the WNBA are black and their families and friends don’t live in a protective bubble.

    As LeBron James explained, “I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as black people in America. Black men, black women, black kids, we are terrified.” As tired as white people may be of hearing it, black people are even more tired of living it.

    For me, what really brought the hearth fire of hope back to life was the instantaneous support of other sports teams and athletes. Major League Soccer, in which only 26% of players are black, postponed five games that day, with players from two teams, Inter Miami and Atlanta United, locking arms and refusing to play. Major League Baseball, with only about 8% African American players, also joined in with players from the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds sitting out their games and the Seattle Mariners voted unanimously to postpone their Wednesday game. More baseball teams joined the boycott on Thursday.

    In tennis, perhaps the whitest of all the sports, former US Open champion Naomi Osaka walked away from her semi-final match at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, tweeting, “I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.” Professional tennis organizations USTA, ATP, and WTA issued a statement in support of her stance and postponed tournament play on Thursday. I have never been prouder of my athlete colleagues….

  207. says

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

    From there:

    Thousands of coronavirus sceptics [deniers – SC] are set to descend on Berlin on Saturday for a mass protest against pandemic restrictions.

    Police said they woud turn out in force and strictly monitor compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing, with the Berlin police chief, Barbara Slowik, warning that if the demonstrators did not adhere to virus safety rules, police would clear the area “very quickly”.

    “We will not be able or willing to watch tens of thousands assemble and create infection risks,” she added.

    Berlin city authorities had previously decided not to allow the Saturday demonstration to go ahead, fearing that the estimated 22,000 protesters would not keep a distance of 1.5 metres (five feet) apart or comply with face mask requirements.

    The ban sparked outrage from organisers and their supporters who flooded social media with angry messages vowing to protest anyway, with some even calling for violence.

    But on the eve of the demo, Berlin’s administrative court sided with the demonstrators, saying there was no indication that organisers would “deliberately ignore” social distancing rules and endanger public health.

    The judge’s reasoning eludes me. The indications that they’ll deliberately ignore social distancing rules include the entirety of their rhetoric, the rationale for the protest, and their behavior at the previous protest a few weeks ago.

    In Berlin, police, who deployed 3,000 officers to control crowds at a march expected to reach 20,000, have prepared for possible violence as activists opposed to the virus measures urge social media followers across Europe to arm themselves and gather.

    Activists, angered by Berlin’s decision to ban protests after demonstrators at a recent rally failed to wear masks or keep their distance, flooded the city with thousands of applications for additional protest rallies this weekend.

    “The gatherings planned by several initiatives for August 29 against the corona policy of the federal and state governments can take place,” the court ruled.

    Responding to the ruling, Berlin’s interior minister, Andreas Geisel, said the court had given protesters a second chance to show they could comply with distancing measures.

    “I appeal to everyone to gather in Berlin without violence,” he said.

    In England, the government published guidance for schools on what to do if there is a coronavirus outbreak.

    Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, branded the timing of the new guidance “reprehensible”.

    He said: “It was obvious weeks ago that lockdown advice was necessary. The government’s decision to publish this at 9pm on the Friday of the bank holiday weekend before most schools are due to return is nothing short of reprehensible and demonstrates a complete lack of regard for the wellbeing of school leaders and their teams.

    “The decision confirms the government simply does not understand the commitment and professionalism of school leaders who will feel compelled act immediately.

    Russia said on Saturday 111 people had died from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 17,025. Russia’s coronavirus taskforce reported 4,941 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally to 985,346, the fourth largest caseload in the world.

  208. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    India recorded a further 76,472 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, slightly lower than yesterday’s figures, which set a new national record for the country.

    India’s daily infection rates are currently the highest of anywhere in the world. On Friday, the country reported more than 77,000 cases in 24 hours, just shy of the global one-day record tally held by the US.

    India has reported a total of 3.46 million cases during the pandemic, giving it the third highest number of cases in the world, after the US and Brazil respectively.

    The western Indian state of Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai, recorded 331 fatalities – the steepest single-day increase among all states in the past two days.

  209. says

    Marc Elias:

    BREAKING: Texas Federal Court orders state to implement simultaneous voter registration–any online driver’s license renewal or change-of-address will automatically result in user being registered to vote at current address.

    Victory for @DSCC @DCCC!

  210. says

    Kenosha mayor asked about calls for Kenosha’s police chief and sheriff to resign, and if he thinks they should.

    He says no.

    Press conference ends. Tonally this was a lot less dense than the two before it, but offered very few reassurances about state of policing in Kenosha.”

    Thread about yesterday’s press briefing atl.

  211. blf says

    Follow to SC@325, Berlin police break up ‘anti-corona’ protest against Covid-19 restrictions (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    German police have halted a march by 18,000 coronavirus sceptics[deniers] in Berlin because protesters were failing to respect social distancing.

    [… I]t had barely begun at the city’s Brandenburg Gate when it was forced to stop due to a police injunction.

    “The minimum distancing is not being respected by most {of the demonstrators} despite repeated requests,” the police said. “There is no other option than to break up the gathering.”

    After the announcement, the demonstrators shouted: Resistance and We are the people[disease vectors], a slogan often used by the far-right, and sang the German national anthem.

    Police had vowed to turn out in force and strictly monitor compliance with mask-wearing and physical distancing at the protest.

    Berlin’s police chief, Barbara Slowik, had warned that if the demonstrators did not adhere to virus safety rules, police would clear the area “very quickly”.

    “We will not be able or willing to watch tens of thousands assemble and create infection risks,” she added.

    […]

    A crowd including families with children gathered on Saturday morning around Brandenburg Gate, the starting point of the demonstration.

    I’m not an extreme rightwing sympathiser. I’m here to defend our fundamental freedoms [to infect people], said Stefan, a 43-year-old Berlin resident wearing a T-shirt bearing the words thinking helps[is hard for me to do].

    […]

    Several groups intend to stage counter-demonstrations to the main protest.

    Anne Helm, an MP from the leftwing party Die Linke, said: “There must be no tolerance towards racists, antisemites, rightwing extremists and Nazis. That is why I call on all Berliners to take part in the counter-events.” [they forgot anti-vaxxers and covidiots –blf]

  212. blf says

    Follow-up to @182, SC@185, and @320 (and a correction to @320), Banksy-funded migrant rescue boat calls for urgent help in Mediterranean:

    A refugee rescue vessel funded by British street artist Banksy said it was stranded and needed urgent help on Saturday after lending assistance to a boat in the Mediterranean that was carrying at least one dead migrant.

    The German-flagged Louise Michel said it was overcrowded and unable to move after encountering another boat attempting to cross the expanse dividing Europe and Africa with 130 people on board.

    “There is already one dead person on the boat. We need immediate assistance,” the crew of the 31-metre (101 feet) Louise Michel wrote on Twitter, saying other migrants had fuel burns and had been at sea for days.

    [… They tweetinged:] “#LouiseMichel is unable to move, she is no longer the master of her manoeuver, due to her overcrowded deck and a liferaft deployed at her side, but above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance. The responsible authorities remain unresponsive.” [… and:] “We repeat, #LouiseMichel is unable to safely move and nobody is coming to our aid. The people rescued have experienced extreme trauma, it’s time for them to be brought to a #PlaceOfSafety. We need immediate assistance.”

    [… MSF-Sea, which is a joint operation between MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)) and Sea Watch, twitteringed:]

    🔴The @MVLouiseMichel is urgently requesting assistance, on scene with a boat in distress.

    They report ~130 men, women and children on board, in desperate need of rescue. They say that one person is already dead. #EU, this encroaching state of emergency is on your watch! https://t.co/7fSyVKNR36

    […]

    Vesselfinder shows the Louise Michel has not moved. In @320, I said it was “underway” — which did puzzle me — but now realise I was confused by Vesselfinder saying the ship is “Under way”, ignoring its reported speed of “0 kn” (clearly not moving under its own propulsion). There is apparently one yacht nearby (but possibly moving away), and few-to-no other vessels in the area.

  213. blf says

    France reports 7,379 new Covid-19 cases in ‘exponential’ daily rise (video (English)):

    France reported 7,379 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, the most since lockdown, in what the health ministry described as an exponential surge just days before millions of children are due to return to school for the first time since March.

    The daily tally was just shy of the record 7,578 high set on March 31, at the peak of an initial wave of COVID-19 infections that paralysed Europe. The surge has raised the possibility that the government could be forced to shut the country down again.

    “We’re doing everything to avoid another lockdown, and in particular a nationwide lockdown,” President Emmanuel Macron told journalists earlier on Friday. He added it would be dangerous to rule out any scenario.

    […]

    So far, the rapid increase in case numbers has yet to lead to a similar surge in hospitalisations or deaths. The ministry reported 20 new COVID-19 deaths on Friday, raising the cumulative total to 30,596. The number of people in hospital with the disease was unchanged at 4,535 and the number in intensive care rose by six to 387.

    Authorities say the virus is now spreading among younger people who are less likely to show severe symptoms.

    […]

    In the accompanying video, there is one eejit — a mayor of someplace in Alsace, which has introduced mandatory masks in some areas (and was very badly hit during the “first wave”) — complained about mandatory masks, claiming (my paraphrase from memory) I am opposed to making mask mandatory because they are not the most effective solution. Another it must be perfect or there’s no point to it eejit (like a certain commentator elsewhere (usually) here at poopyhead’s blog who prefers hair furor because Biden isn’t perfect (whose offense apparently is being the dummie’s candidate)). Geesh!

    The Grauniad, France records ‘exponential’ increase in Covid-19 cases, adds (snippet):

    […] There are 320 clusters under investigation, 31 more than the previous day. The percentage of positive tests is 3.9%.

    French ministers admitted during a long press conference on Thursday that the August surge in Covid-19 infections could not be solely explained by an increase in testing, currently running at around 840,000 a week. The health authorities aim to reach 1m tests a week by the end of September.

    Santé Publique France reported that “the dynamic of transmission is growing strongly and is very worrying”. There has been an increase in the number of infected people showing Covid-19 symptoms — as opposed to half being asymptomatic, as was reported the previous week. While all age groups are reportedly affected, the authorities say there is a continuing increase in cases among young adults, many of whom show no symptoms.

  214. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine on The five most terrifying performances by women at the RNC — ranked! (minor edits for formatting reasons (not marked)):

    When it comes to hypocrisy, bigotry and lack of a moral compass, the women in Trump’s inner circle are on an undeniably equal footing with the men

    Binders full of fascist women… What’s the collective noun for a group of racist white women? I’m not sure, but I think it might be a Republican national convention (RNC). Nobody can accuse the four-day horror show, which wound up on Thursday, of skimping on female speakers. Everywhere you looked there were women — and most of them looked exactly the same. Same long bottle-blond hair; same makeup; same cold, dead look in the eyes.

    The strategy behind all the women on stage was about as subtle as Kimberly Guilfoyle’s speaking style. (Or should I say: SHOUTING STYLE.) Donald Trump is doing badly with women in the polls; the RNC was his chance to remind us all that he is the greatest male feminist of our time. One by one Trump’s female advisers sang his praises and reflected on the Pussy Grabber in Chief’s gender-blind leadership.

    Lara Trump, a campaign adviser, gushed over her father-in-law’s mentorship of women in the workplace. The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, announced that she wanted her baby daughter to grow up in Trump’s America. Kellyanne Conway, who will be leaving the White House at the end of the month, claimed the president [sic] routinely elevates women. {Trump} respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men, she said.

    Conway actually has a valuable point there. When it comes to hypocrisy, bigotry and the lack of a functioning moral compass, the women in Trump’s inner circle are on an undeniably equal footing with the men: the RNC made that crystal clear. Just to drum it home, however, here are five of the most terrifying performances by women from the convention.

    5. Abby abortion has a smell Johnson: I know what abortion smells like, the anti-choice activist bellowed on Tuesday night; Johnson proceeded to use her primetime speaking spot to demonize the right to an abortion in a very graphic speech. Johnson’s extreme rhetoric was in keeping with her extremely bigoted views. […] Johnson also believes that husbands should have the final say over their wife’s vote. Her RNC speech was a chilling reminder of the war Trump will wage on women’s reproductive rights if he gets another four years.

    4. Cissie Graham Lynch: Lynch, the granddaughter of the late Rev Billy Graham […] also used her speech to crusade against the right to an abortion. However, she also found time for some disgusting transphobia. Lynch referred to transgender girls as boys and stoked baseless fears that trans people are sexual predators who want access to bathrooms for nefarious purposes. […]

    3. Melania Trump: What makes Melania so dangerous is the way so many (largely male) members of the press can’t help themselves from fawning over her. The first lady has one trait that her husband lacks: empathy, CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote after Melania’s speech on Tuesday. Are you kidding me? This is the woman who excused and echoed Trump’s racist birther theories about Barack Obama. This is the woman who went to visit children in cages while wearing a jacket emblazoned with I really don’t care, do you? There is nothing empathetic about Melania but she does help humanize Trump; she functions like Febreze for fascism.

    FeBreze is “an American brand of household odor eliminators”.

    2. The Honorable Ivanka Trump: Ivanka collects titles the same way other people collect tchotchkes [non-functional trinkets –blf]. One day she’s an entrepreneur and writer, the next day she’s adviser to the president [sic]. On Thursday she was, bizarrely, introduced as the Honorable. “The Hypocritical” would be rather more fitting. Like Melania, Ivanka is insidious because she softens and sanitizes the Trump administration; her faux feminism helps Trump mask his misogynistic agenda. […]

    1. Nikki Haley: America is not a racist country, Haley declared on the opening night of the convention. She knows this, you see, because her parents were Sikh immigrants and her family faced discrimination and hardship[]. Haley’s speech was very on-brand: throughout her career she has weaponized her identity to deny the existence of systemic oppression. She’s a valuable tool for white supremacists and misogynists — she helps launder their bigotry. […] Her RNC speech was filled with lies but, because she uttered them in an articulate way, pundits fell over themselves to praise her. The only thing more terrifying than four more years of Trump is a successor who is equally cruel but actually competent.

    […]

      † That’s probably true, but it’s a “a valuable tool for white supremacists and misogynists” saying this, hence the eejit quotes.

  215. blf says

    The Grauniad is reporting that Italian coastguard responds to distress call from Banksy-funded rescue ship: “The Italian coastguard has answered a distress call from a rescue boat financed by the British street artist Banksy and taken charge of 49 migrants in most need of help, it has said.” The Louise Michel twittering feed confirms (and has some videos of the situation onboard).

    That’s obviously some help, but still means there’s c.170 people stranded. I presume the Louise Michel is still unable to move (see @330). Vesselfinder now shows the Sea Watch 4 nearby, but they already have c.200 migrants onboard — so authorities haven’t been giving them docking permission (Sea-Watch 4 rescue boat seeks port for 200 migrants in the Mediterranean) — making it unclear to me just what they can do… The Sea Watch International (English) twittering feed confirms:

    🔴 UPDATE: The #SeaWatch4 is on site to support the #LouiseMichel.
    The Italian Coast Guard has already taken 49 people — women and families with children — on board and left the scene making clear they are not taking more people on board.

  216. blf says

    Belarus authorities strip accreditation from foreign journalists:

    BBC journalists among those whose accreditation is revoked before fresh protests against election results

    Belarusian authorities have deported two Russian cameramen and withdrawn the accreditation of several foreign media journalists, including the BBC’s, in advance of fresh demonstrations challenging the results of the presidential election.

    On Saturday the BBC’s press team said two journalists working for its Russian service in Minsk had had their press accreditation revoked “with immediate effect”.

    “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this stifling of independent journalism. We call upon the Belarusian authorities to revoke this decision and allow our journalists to continue doing their jobs,” it tweeted.

    “We believe it is vital for the people of Belarus to have access to impartial, independent information about events in their country.”

    One BBC journalist to lose her accreditation is Tatyana Melnichuk.

    She told Agence France-Presse: “The Belarusian foreign ministry called me and informed me that my accreditation and that of one of my colleagues as BBC correspondents had been cancelled. They demanded that I return my card.”

    Belarusian government spokesman Anatoly Glaz said the decision was taken on the recommendation of the country’s counter-terrorism unit, AFP reported.

    He did not specify how many journalists were affected by the measure, but foreign media including the BBC and Radio Liberty reported the withdrawal of accreditation of several of their journalists.

    […]

    West German Broadcasting (WDR) […] said on Saturday their Russian employees were “on their way to Moscow” after being banned from Belarus for five years, while their producer was due to face trial on Monday.

    WDR’s program director, Jörg Schönenborn, described the treatment of his team as “absolutely unacceptable”.

    “This shows again that independent reporting in Belarus is becoming more and more difficult and almost impossible,” he said.

    “As a public service broadcaster, however, we will not be intimidated and will do everything in our power to ensure that our journalists can continue to report critically and independently on the events, protests and demonstrations in Belarus.”

    The Belarussian Association of Journalists has named the cameramen as Sergey Sergeyev and Mikhail Fomin and the producer as Ilya Kuzniatsou. […]

    [… F]our Minsk-based correspondents were detained overnight and appeared in court on Friday, charged with organising illegal protests.

    They included the photographer Alexander Vasukovich and Katsiaryna Andreyeva, a reporter with the independent Belsat TV channel.

  217. blf says

    In Sweden, Riots rock Malmö after far-right Swedish activists burn Qur’an (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Leading imam condemns violence after police battle more than 300 on streets of the city

    […]

    More than 300 rioters threw stones at police and burned tyres in the southern Swedish city on Friday night after a video circulated of followers of the far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan burning a copy of the Qur’an near one of the city’s mosques.

    […]

    Police in Malmö had vacillated for two weeks over whether to give Rasmus Paludan, the leader of Denmark’s extremist Hard Line party permission to hold an anti-Islamic protest. Permission was denied on Wednesday, Paludan was stopped in a car on Friday afternoon as he left the Öresund bridge, deported and banned from entering Sweden for two years.

    But this did not stop his supporters from filming themselves burning one copy of the Qur’an, and kicking another around Malmö’s main square like a football, for which three of them were arrested on suspicion of hate crimes.

    During the riot, Samir Muric, a prominent Malmö imam, paced up and down in the space between the police and the rioters, imploring the rioters to stop and accusing them of shaming their own religion. Muric, who was dressed in a jubbah, has also condemned the rioters on his Facebook page. “Those who are acting in this way have nothing to do with Islam,” he wrote. “Their shouts filled with ‘la ilaha ill Allah’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’, are just outbursts that they do not mean, because if they really meant them, they wouldn’t have acted like this.”

    Among the spectators, it was clear that many of the Muslims and Arabs among them opposed the riot. “I don’t like this, because the Arabs, they’re fucking things up for our community here in Sweden, because one Danish man burned a Qur’an,” complained one man, who grew up in Malmö to Lebanese parents. “And this is what he wants. They want us to be like this. I’ve never seen this ever in my life. I’m shocked.”

    […]

    Police officers tried to control the situation by explaining their earlier arrests. “The police did not give them {the far-right activists} permission to do anything,” one officer assured a small but angry crowd gathered around him. “We arrested him as soon as a film came out on the internet showing they had burnt a Qur’an, and we arrested several of the others.”

    […]

  218. blf says

    Coronavirus sceptics[deniers], conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers protest in London:

    […]
    Thousands of protesters from across the UK gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday afternoon to protest against coronavirus restrictions and reject mass vaccinations.

    The event, which began at noon, drew a broad coalition including coronavirus sceptics, 5G conspiracy theorists and so-called “anti-vaxxers”.

    I have no idea why the Grauniad used so-called and scare quotes. Actually, this is technically the Observer — the Sunday newspaper the Grauniad bought some years ago — and they are more conspiracy-prone and woo-woo friendly then the Grauniad. Dr Ben Goldacre used to snipe regularly at the Observer’s abysmal reporting on science- / medicine-related matters.

    Carrying placards railing against the World Health Organization, Bill Gates and the government restrictions to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the demonstrators called for an end to movement restrictions and mandatory face coverings. Many placards described the coronavirus pandemic as a hoax or scam.

    A PA system set up in front of Nelson’s Column broadcast speeches by a number of speakers, who denied the reality and severity of the pandemic and accused the government of attempting to curtail civil liberties.

    Among those due to speak [… was] David Icke.

    Although the demonstration focused on coronavirus restrictions, those taking part espoused anti-authoritarian [eh?] grievances ranging from the lockdown to the imprisonment of Julian Assange to claims of elite child sexual abuse. [And, I assume, reptilian lizard-people –blf]

    [… blithering eejits…]

    The image at the link shows rather what one would expect: No masks (at all, as far as I can see), and apparently quite poor social distancing. No confederate flags, albeit I presume that is an oversight. (No BLM either, probably not an oversight.)

  219. blf says

    Ah (re @339), “Q” is teh reptilian’s commander… that would explain rather a lot! ;-)

  220. says

    Tenants Say They Were Tricked Into RNC Video Appearance: ‘I Am Not A Trump Supporter

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/tenants-tricked-rnc-video

    Three of the tenants who appeared in a public housing clip that aired during the Republican National Convention have said they were never told that their interviews with a longtime Trump associate who oversees New York’s federal housing programs would be edited and used during the GOP convention.

    “I am not a Trump supporter,” one of the tenants, Claudia Perez told The New York Times in an interview on Friday. “I am not a supporter of his racist policies on immigration. I am a first-generation Honduran. It was my people he was sending back.”

    The revelation is the latest example of […] Trump’s willful exploitation of government resources to advance his chances at re-election.

    In the video, the tenants spoke candidly about poor conditions in the housing authority’s buildings and appeared to praise Trump’s record on public housing while bashing Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.

    Perez told the Times on Friday that while she stood by her criticism of the housing authority she was very upset about being misled to appear in a video that was later shown at the RNC.

    Manny Martinez, another tenant, told the Times that his grievances about public housing were “not an endorsement of Trump.” […]

    Carmen Quiñones, a self-described “lifelong Democrat” and tenant leader who took part in organizing participants for the video told the Times that she wished that she had been told beforehand that the clip would be used at the RNC. She said she plans to vote for her party’s nominee Joe Biden in November. […]

    The public housing clip was not the first example of the Trump campaign’s deceiving participants for an event involving the federal government that was then used as a pro-Trump prop during the RNC. On Tuesday, the convention showed a video of naturalization ceremony where five people became American citizens. Several of those participants have said they had no knowledge of the fact that they were being filmed for a political event.

    As head of the New York office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Patton is technically banned from leveraging her position as a government employee to engage in political activity under the Hatch Act. She told the Times that video was vetted and cleared for Hatch Act violations by the White House although Patton notably was found in violation of the Hatch Act in 2019.

  221. says

    Mary Trump Condemns RNC, Says Trump Will ‘Use Anybody For His Own Purposes’

    […] “He co-opted or the Republican National Committee co-opted the people’s house for their own political benefit,” Mary Trump told Politico in an interview that was published early Saturday.

    Trump’s niece described the four-day affair which featured speeches and appearances from many of her own relatives “disturbing.”

    Mary Trump called Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump’s speeches “hateful” and “mendacious,” respectively.

    […] Mary Trump told Politico that she found it particularly alarming that “almost every single participant” of Trump’s new brand in Washington featured at the convention was “willing to lie, and knew they were lying, and didn’t care that pretty much everything they said was a lie.” […]

    When asked what she wants voters to know about her uncle as the November election approaches, Mary Trump said simply, “that he cares about nobody but himself. ”

    She said that her uncle “has no loyalty to anybody. And that he will use anybody for his own purposes and lie to them about his motives.”

    Trump’s response was predictable:

    About the only way a person is able to write a book on me is if they agree that it will contain as much bad “stuff” as possible, much of which is lies. It’s like getting a job with CNN or MSDNC and saying that “President Trump is great.” You have ZERO chance. FAKE NEWS!

    Even whether it’s dumb warmongers like John Bolton, social pretenders like Bob Woodward, who never has anything good to say, or an unstable niece, who was now rightfully shunned, scorned and mocked her entire life, and never even liked by her own very kind & caring grandfather!

    Kind of weird for Trump to describe his own reportedly cold and ruthless father as “very king & caring.”

    More from Mary Trump:

    Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he’ll never sit for.

  222. says

    Trump’s post-RNC rally goes off the racist rails with claims Kamala Harris ‘is not competent’

    Not content that he had an opportunity to drone at America for roughly 27 hours on Thursday evening, Donald Trump went up to Londonderry, New Hampshire to arrange another super-spreader event on Friday night. In addition to explaining to the crowd how he does not talk about his ass, Trump went on to claim that Kamala Harris is “not competent” to be vice president.

    Kamala Harris served seven years as a district attorney, seven more as state attorney general, and has been one of the leading figures in the Senate since her election in 2017. As the first woman of color nominated by either party, enthusiasm for her presence on the Democratic ticket hasn’t just been palpable, it’s been visible in the polls. Harris has higher favorability ratings among registered voters than Donald Trump and her nomination both helped unify the Democratic Party, as well as being met by approval by a majority of voters. There’s absolutely no doubt that Kamala Harris is qualified for vice-president—and for president.

    But, as CNN reports, Trump sees a candidate of a decidedly different shade. “You know, I want to see the first woman president also,” claimed Trump, “but I don’t want to see a woman president get into that position the way she’d do it—and she’s not competent. She’s not competent. They’re all saying, ‘We want Ivanka.’ I don’t blame you.” What are Ivana junior’s qualifications other than her name? Well … she is blond.

    Like the 1,500 people who besmirched the White House lawn on Thursday evening, the 500 who greeted him in New Hampshire were almost uniformly maskless. As The Washington Post reports, that includes a man wearing a shirt saying “Covid-19 just tested positive for fraud.” When organizers attempted to hand out masks and made an announcement encouraging people to wear then, they were booed. [OMFG]

    Trump’s previous attacks on Kamala Harris have included claims that she was soft on crime when it was committed by Blacks or immigrants[…]

    Kamala Harris has regularly demonstrated her competence in every role she’s held. She’s demonstrated it in California, and she’s demonstrated it in the Senate. Not only is she the sponsor or co-sponsor on some of most important bills of the last session, her incisive questioning of witnesses like vastly unqualified Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh showcased her insightful reasoning and ability to cut through bulls#it and get to the truth.

    How racist was Trump’s statement? Racist enough that he recognized it as such. And how boring was his acceptance speech on Thursday? Boring enough that he knew not even his rally crowd would sit still for it. “If I did last night’s speech here, right now you would have all been walking out,” said Trump. “And if I did tonight’s speech there, I would have been criticized by being slightly radical.”

    What makes Ivanka competent to be president? Well … […] she’s been practicing that soulless, adoring gaze for decades. [Photo at the link.]

  223. says

    Donald Trump’s convention lost the TV ratings war, so naturally he’s lying about it

    […] Trump is entrenched in lying about a new set of numbers—the television ratings for the Democratic and Republican conventions. The numbers are not really in doubt. The RNC lost. Mike Pence lost. Donald Trump lost. Not only did the DNC run up considerably larger numbers for the overall convention, Trump lost out to Biden on his acceptance speech, and Kamala Harris absolutely trounced Pence. A million more people watched Joe Biden deliver an emphatic, powerful acceptance speech than tuned in to hear Trump’s endless drone. Five million more viewers tuned in to hear Kamala Harris than Mike Pence. That’s a massive shellacking.

    What’s a Trump to do? Lie, of course. Not only did Trump open up Saturday morning Twitter with claims that the TV viewership was higher for his convention, he went on to dismiss the actual TV ratings with claims that he won if you count digital views. Because Trump’s voters are known to be the kind of young, tech-savvy crowd that does their TV watching online. Not at all a bunch of older, rural voters whose Internet is barely sufficient to bring them the latest announcement from Q. Shocking no one, Fox News rushed to back Trump up—and also shocking no one … they also lied.

    As NPR reports, across the four nights of the convention, Democrats notched 86.3 million viewers while Republicans drew only 77.5 million. But according to Fox News, that number is nothing, because the Republican convention drew a staggering 147.9 views when you add in those watching online, while the DNC convention had a mere 122 million.

    So … game, set, and match to Trump! Except. Hmm. Let’s look just a wee bit more closely. Where did Fox get that massive number—a number that says an amazing 70 million people were streaming the Republican convention? Twice the number of those who streamed the DNC? Well…

    The Republican National Convention brought in 147.9 million total views across television and online between Monday and the end of Thursday night’s programming, according to a senior campaign official.

    The report that half of all Republicans are streaming demons was a self-reported claim, made after it was clear that the television ratings for the Republicans were much lower than those for the DNC. Trump is citing Fox as proof. Fox is citing Trump as proof. And if there was any justice in the world they would both disappear in a puff of circular logic.

    The truth is that Trump is obsessive about the actual TV ratings. […] And this time those ratings showed that his convention came in a sorry second, despite damaging a national monument, turning the White House into an advertising billboard, and blasting fireworks over the Washington Monument.

    So of course Trump has to lie about it. Especially to himself. Because this has to be just breaking his little heart.

  224. says

    This sounds to me like one more way for the Trump administration to hide Russian election interference from the American people.

    ODNI to no longer brief Congress in-person on election security

    Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe notified Congress this week that the intelligence community will be scaling back in-person congressional briefings, and instead replacing them with written updates on election security.

    The top intelligence official argued that this process will better protect the authorized disclosure of sensitive information. […]

    “[T]he ODNI will primarily meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed leading into the Presidential election through written finished intelligence products,” the letters read, according to a copy obtained by The Hill.

    “I believe this approach helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information ODNI provides the Congress in support of your oversight responsibilities on elections security, foreign malign influence, and election interference is not misunderstood nor politicized. It will also better protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse.” […]

    “This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy. This intelligence belongs to the American people, not the agencies which are its custodian,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

    Both Pelosi and Schiff threatened that they will “consider the full range of tools available to the House to compel compliance” if ODNI does not resume briefings, claiming it a “shameful” attempt by the Trump administration to “withhold election-related information from Congress and the American people at the precise moment that greater transparency and accountability is required.” […]

    No one in Congress will be allowed to question Trump’s lickspittles.

  225. says

    From Wonkette: “New Hampshire ‘Macho Man’ Trumpist Casually Suggests Reporter Watch Out For Bombs.”

    A news team from ABC7 Boston was accosted last night at a Trump rally in New Hampshire by a man who seemed to purposely attempt to confront them as “Macho Man” by the Village People was playing, in order to have the appropriate theme music for his rant.

    He began by asking the reporters if they had heard about “what happened to Rand Paul” and if they would like it if that happened to them. Given that this terrible thing that happened to Rand Paul was that he walked to his hotel room, surrounded by police as protesters yelled at him a bunch, that would be at best a mild inconvenience for most people. If this guy really wants to see something, he should volunteer as a clinic escort at his local Planned Parenthood.

    You guys know what happened to Rand Paul last night? How would you like that to happen to you? We’re Americans, too. Our lives matter don’t we? Even though we’re white. Yeah, you can act like you’ve got someone to text but you’re really just a [P-word].

    Good god, so much of this shit boils down to a fear of not being special. Like, yes, obviously this guy is racist and poorly informed, but just like so many of them, he plainly demonstrates that his big fear is not mattering himself. Not being “special.” And truth be told, that’s how Donald Trump reels these people in. By telling them they are special and loved and important.

    The Macho Man then demanded to know how reporter Alex DiPrato slept at night after “lying to the people,” and was ignored. He proceeded to get very upset about being ignored and demanded to know who the news team were talking to on their phones and if it was Joe Biden. Then he went away for a moment and came back talking about how “what goes around comes around,” saying “Someone’s going to bomb you. Maybe tonight.”

    This is a threat, obviously, and yet he had absolutely no problem saying it out loud to a news team that he was well aware was recording him. You can see him looking into the camera, making sure his face was right there for all to see. He wanted it known that he said this. He thought it was okay to say this and that it couldn’t possibly ever lead to any kind of charges being filed against him. […]

    He thinks that people chanting at Rand Paul is the worst thing that could practically ever happen to a person, and a moment later he issues bomb threats. And sees absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s okay for him to threaten to bomb people, it is not okay for people he feels are beneath him to yell at Rand Paul. That’s what America’s hierarchy was supposed to be for. He’s not scared for Rand Paul’s safety, he’s scared of living in a world where these are not the rules.

    Link

  226. says

    From Wonkette: “Militia Member Ominously Warns Modesto’s Straight Pride Event Won’t Be ‘Family Friendly.”

    Today, a bunch of bigoted imbeciles in Modesto, California are hosting a “Straight Pride Event” for the second year in a row. You may recall that last year, dopes all over tried to make Straight Pride Parades a thing — the Boston one was even grand marshal’d by Milo Yiannopoulos. […]

    rather than the throngs of healthy, good looking, flaxen-haired, blue-eyed specimens of the master race they had hoped to get, those who actually showed up were largely, uh, these guys. Green-skinned clowns. One of whom carried with him a pillow featuring the likeness of YouTuber Sargon of Akaad.

    But the organizers in Modesto — who created the original straight pride event (which last year drew an impressive crowd of nearly 20 people) — have decided to soldier on regardless and are holding their event today anyway. Outside of a Planned Parenthood, because of course.

    The event was primarily the doing of former Operation Rescue member Don Grundmann, of the California Straight Pride Coalition. You may recall Grundmann from the time when he referred to the “Coalition” as a “totally peaceful, racist group” at a city meeting. […]

    at that time, the Facebook page for the California Straight Pride Coalition affirmed that it believed in white supremacy. […]

    Western Civilization ( ” the West is the Best ” ) – the Christian religion based social, cultural, and national cornerstone upon which the mass majority of all progress of humanity; i.e.; the modern world; has been built;

    Whiteness/Caucasian – the mass majority biological racial component of the developers of western civilization;

    Christianity – the religious foundation of the formation, development, and advancement of Western Civilization;

    Nationalism – the patriotic love of their nation and its interests, principles, and future that motivated the formulators of and in the development of Western Civilization.

    Grundmann will be joined again this year by last year’s co-organizer, Mylinda Mason of the Stanislaus County Republican Assembly, known for spreading a variety of far-right nonsense including QAnon, anti-vaxx and white supremacist views. So that’s nice.

    What’s different this year? […] a new player is in town — Jeyna Marie of the Central Valley Militia. Because yes, women can lead far-right paramilitary organizations, too. […]

    Jeyna Marie has direct ties to the Proud Boys and also appears to be a very big fan of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who shot three people, killing two, at the protests in Kenosha this week. […]

    She has warned that her militia will be there and that “this will not be a family friendly event.” Which is quite interesting for an event purporting to celebrate the glory of heterosexuality.

    Open letter to ANTIFA:

    Last night, a few of your armed comrades got rolled by a 17 year old kid. One of them looked down and saw his buddy missing most of his face and screamed for the police, the same ones you want to defund. Another kneeled and cried as he looked down at the hole where his bicep use to be. The other laid on the ground with a gaping hole in his chest, bleeding out thinking “maybe I shouldn’t have hit that guy with my skateboard”. […]

    Just stop. It’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for you. Go back to your mom’s house, throw your Black Lives Matter shirt in the trash, give your mom her eyeliner back and go look for a job. Contribute to society and pay your mom some rent while you’re at it. This anarchy stuff ain’t for you. Just stop before the real men come out to play….

    This is a person who seems pretty excited by violence. She clearly has some fantasies about going to a protest and killing some people and thinks that is a great thing for people to do. She’s starting a militia. According to her Facebook page, she believes she is fighting a war against pedophiles and child sex trafficking. […]

    Link

  227. raven says

    Xpost patheos

    1 person is dead after a shooting during protests in downtown Portland
    By Hollie Silverman and Alta Spells, CNN
    Updated 2:27 AM ET, Sun August 30, 2020

    Earlier in the night, police tweeted that there had been “some instances of violence between demonstrators and counterdemonstrators,” as a political rally caravanned through downtown Portland.

    Police said they are not releasing suspect information at this time and are asking anyone who was a witness or has first-hand video of the shooting to contact investigators. The area has been secured as a crime scene and investigators are asking people to avoid it.

    To the surprise of absolutely no one, there is now another one dead at a protest.
    This is in Portland.
    Details are scarce since this just happened.
    It happened right during a Trump rally though
    If the Portland police are true to form, there were dozens of witnesses, and…they will never arrest anyone for this.

  228. raven says

    Portland Mercury:

    In photos of the scene viewed by the Mercury, the deceased man is seen with a “Thin Blue Line” patch on his shorts and wearing a hat emblazoned with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in Vancouver. The group has a history of organizing demonstrations in downtown Portland that often turn violent.

    It appears it was one of theirs.
    A Proud toddler no less, a right wingnut.
    Details are scarce but I’m not going to do a fundie xian here.
    This is definitely not good
    As a general statement, it is OK to protest, it is not OK to ‮llik‬‎ people.

  229. raven says

    more

    Oregonlive.com

    Asked what sort of planning Portland police did in preparation for Saturday’s dueling rallies, which were easily identified to contain elements typical of events that end in violence, a bureau spokesman said it does not “discuss our tactical plans publicly.”

    The Portland police don’t discuss their tactical plans because…they don’t have any.
    When you have opposing sides and one or both are heavily armed, violence and death are inevitable.
    We knew that months ago in Charlotte, NC, when that Nazi ran over and killed a woman.
    The Portland police have a long history of tolerating and supporting right wing thugs.
    That is what they sowed, and one guy dead so far is what they reap.

    I’m still waiting for the logical conclusion to this cycle of violence.
    The mass shooting in public.
    One of these heavily armed militia types is going to just empty their clip into the crowd one of these nights.

  230. blf says

    This is not the Louise Michel (albeit the excerpt below does contain an update), Migrant boat bursts into flames off southern Italian coast:

    Vessel suddenly caught fire as Italian naval ship was in the process of taking people onboard

    A boat carrying dozens of refugees has burst into flames off the coast of southern Italy as its passengers were being transferred to Italian naval vessels to take them to port.

    Between five and seven people are believed to be missing. Six people are in hospital with serious burns injuries, including two Italian officials who were taking the people off the boat.

    The vessel was approached by an Italian naval ship that was in the process of taking migrants onboard and, according to preliminary reports, suddenly caught fire, most likely because of a fuel leakage, then exploded. The number of victims is still uncertain.

    […]

    A reconnaissance plane is searching for survivors at sea.

    Meanwhile, a boat with 450 migrants onboard was rescued by the Italian coastguard off the island of Lampedusa as it risked capsizing in strong winds.

    In the last 24 hours, a further 500 migrants have arrived at Lampedusa on small boats, causing a backlash among a portion of the local population.

    […]

    On Saturday, the UN refugee agency urged European nations to let in hundreds of people rescued from the Mediterranean by humanitarian boats, including one vessel financed by the British street artist Banksy.

    The UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said more than 200 rescued refugees needed to get off the nonprofit search-and-rescue ship Louise Michel immediately, saying it was far beyond its safe capacity.

    The plea from UNHCR and IOM also mentioned hundreds of migrants on two other charity ships in urgent need of safe harbour.

    […]

    By late Saturday night, all passengers on the Louise Michel had been transferred to the SeaWatch4, which was left with about 350 people onboard. It was looking for a safe seaport to disembark the passengers.

    […]

    In @334 I was wondering what the Sea Watch&4 could do. It is a larger ship than the Louise Michel, and I presume the respective crews decided it could accommodate the c.150 on the Louise Michel (or mostly, in fact, in its lifeboats, deployed simply because there wasn’t room on the Louise Michel itself).

  231. blf says

    Follow-up to an older comment in this series of poopyhead threads about fox setting up a for-pay stream disservice in non-USAlien countries, Rivals plan Fox News-style opinionated TV station in UK:

    […]
    Rival efforts are under way to launch a Fox News-style opinionated current affairs TV station in Britain to counter the BBC.

    One group is promising a news channel distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents and has already been awarded a licence to broadcast by the media regulator, Ofcom, under the name GB News. Its founder has said the BBC is a disgrace that is bad for Britain on so many levels and needs to be broken up.

    A rival project is being devised in the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire [News UK] by the former Fox News executive David Rhodes, although it is unclear whether it will result in a traditional TV channel or be online-only.

    Both are pitching to a perceived gap in the market for opinionated video output fuelled by growing distrust of the BBC among some parts of its audience, especially on the political right […]

    […]

    GB News is the work of a company called All Perspectives, controlled by two British-American executives who are associated with the US billionaire John Malone. Known as the “cable cowboy”, Malone chairs Liberty Global, the owner of Virgin Media, as well as the parent company of the Discovery television network.

    Andrew Cole, one of the co-founders of GB News, also sits on the board of Liberty Global. He told the Guardian he hoped to be able to discuss the project in September, but he has previously made clear his views on the broadcasting landscape.

    He told his LinkedIn followers that the BBC was possibly the most biased propaganda machine in the world […]

    […]

    One of the great unknowns of any such project is the role of Nigel Farage. The former Ukip leader left LBC amid staff anger over his comments on migrants crossing the Channel, but he has the potential to deliver a ready-made anti-BBC, pro-Brexit audience. He has recently appeared on the Sun’s YouTube channel and TalkRadio, both owned by News UK.

  232. says

    Well this is weird. “Acting DHS Secretary Denies Knowing WH Naturalization Ceremony Would Air During RNC.” Really?

    Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf […] denied knowing that the Trump administration’s naturalization ceremony would later air as part of the Republican National Convention […] one of several incidents that violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive government officials from participating in political activity while on duty.

    When pressed during an interview on ABC News on whether he knew that the naturalization ceremony would be broadcasted in the RNC, Wolf first dodged the question as he insisted that the DHS conducts “hundreds, if not, thousands” of naturalization ceremonies annually.

    […] Karl then circled back to his initial question about whether Wolf knew that he was taking part in a ceremony that it was going to be used during the RNC.

    Wolf responded by denying that he had knowledge of it being part of the RNC’s broadcast, before reiterating that the Trump administration will continue holding naturalization ceremonies.

    “No,” Wolf said. “What I knew is again, participating in a naturalization ceremony, we had a number of USCIS employees there, as they do every naturalization ceremony, making sure that that ceremony goes off without a hitch. They were giving that oath of allegiance to those individuals there. And again, we’ll continue to do that, because that’s our mission at the department.”

    Wolf’s remarks come on the heels of the Wall Street Journal’s report that two of the five immigrants who were part of the naturalization ceremony at the White House found out only minutes before the ceremony that President Trump would attend the event, and that they were unaware that it would be aired during the RNC.

    On Wednesday morning, a White House official told TPM in an emailed statement that “there was no violation of law” because “the White House publicized the content of the event on a public website this afternoon and the campaign decided to use the publicly available content for campaign purposes.”

    Link

    This is a disingenuous excuse: “the White House publicized the content of the event on a public website this afternoon and the campaign decided to use the publicly available content for campaign purposes.”

  233. says

    Follow-up to comment 355.

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    I have not attended a naturalization ceremony, but have seen a few clips on the TV once and while. So why were there only 5 people in the ceremony that Trump attended at the WH? How many naturalization ceremonies have been held at the WH, in this maladministration and others?

    I suspect that they picked these five because of the various countries that they came from, and more importantly with only 5 Trump got to stand out in a not so big crowd.
    ———————
    So, he didn’t know what the cameras were for.
    And, he, himself, personally ALWAYS oversees all the naturalization ceremonies.
    And, he, himself, personally ALWAYS holds all naturalization ceremonies off hours.
    And, he, himself, personally ALWAYS holds naturalization ceremonies at the White House.
    With the President.
    Next to him.

    Yeah, his story checks out.
    ————————–
    Chad Wolf is too stupid to hold such a position of responsibility in the government of the USA if I was unaware he was a cast member in a propaganda video
    ————————
    Trump loves appointing borderline incompetents to important positions, bypassing the traditional Senate confirmation process, because it makes those people beholden to him, and him alone. These are people who in a normal Administration wouldn’t get anywhere close to Cabinet level positions.

    A principled resignation is in order, but that would presume he had principles, something Wolf has already proven he lacks.

  234. blf says

    Minimum wage, no NOC: Qatar announces changes to labour law:

    Country scraps need for employers’ permission before changing jobs, minimum wage set at 1,000 Qatari riyals.

    Qatar has scrapped a rule requiring employers’ consent to change jobs and said it will also implement a basic monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($274).

    Sunday’s landmark announcement by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) is the latest in a series of labour reforms by the country whose treatment of migrant workers and its human rights record have been under the spotlight since it was awarded the hosting of football’s 2022 FIFA World Cup.

    Under Qatar’s “kafala” (Arabic word for sponsorship) system, migrant workers needed to obtain their employer’s permission — a no-objection certificate (NOC) — before changing jobs, a law that rights activists said tied their presence in the country to their employers and led to abuse and exploitation.

    With the announcement, migrant workers can now change jobs before the end of their contract subject to a notice period.

    […]

    In addition to the minimum wage, the ministry has also announced the provision of 500 riyals ($137) for accommodation and 300 riyals ($82.2) for food if those expenses are not provided as part of the contract.

    The new laws have been welcomed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) which described the announcement as a “huge milestone in labour reform agenda for the state of Qatar”.

    “The NOC was the last problematic part of the kafala system, this power imbalance that was created between an employee and the sponsor will no longer be there,” Houtan Homayounpour, head of the ILO project office for Qatar, told Al Jazeera.

    […]

  235. says

    Here’s How Kenosha Cops Will Try to Get Away With Nearly Murdering Jacob Blake

    The police union released its version of events. In a more humane world, it’d be a confession.

    […] the Kenosha police union has come to the defense of the officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back last weekend in front of his young children. The union presents its version of events as exculpatory, but by any standards beyond those of a police-supremacist status quo it would be a damning confession of attempted murder.

    In a statement released on Friday, the Kenosha Professional Police Association argued that officers drew their guns because Blake was allegedly armed with a knife, had “actively resisted the officers’ attempt to gain compliance,” and remained unaffected by their Tasers. “As the uncontested facts above demonstrate, the officers involved gave Mr. Blake numerous opportunities to comply,” Brendan Matthews, an attorney for the union, wrote in the statement, seemingly attempting to blame Blake for the outcome. “He chose not to.”

    These claims are not actually uncontested. Attorneys for Blake say he did nothing to provoke the police, and Raysean White, a witness who filmed the encounter with a cellphone, said he heard officers yelling about a knife but did not see one in Blake’s hands. […] Rusten Sheskey and another officer, who both appear to be white, can be seen following behind Blake, who is Black. Their guns are drawn as Blake walks toward a parked SUV. Sheskey grabs Blake’s shirt from behind and shoots him repeatedly in the back as Blake leans into the driver’s side door, his three children in the backseat. (A second video from another witness shows Blake on the ground scuffling with police prior to the shooting, but it’s blurry and hard to make anything out.) State investigators say they found a knife on the floor of the car.

    Even if Blake had resisted officers and did have a knife in his possession somewhere, that shouldn’t be a justification for offloading seven rounds into his back as he was walking away from them toward his kids. The fact that police officers in Kenosha think this is a an excuse is a reminder of how twisted our system of accountability and justice is. […], officers have regularly gotten away with shooting people who were unarmed—some were sleeping in a car or sleeping at home on a couch—because laws in most states allow cops to use deadly force if they can come up with a reason for why they thought a person in their vicinity might harm them, even if they were wrong and the person posed no real threat.

    Blake is now recovering in a Milwaukee hospital, paralyzed from the waist down. Attorneys for his family say he had been trying to break up a domestic disturbance between two women when the police arrived, and that the officers were the aggressors. […]

    “Based on the inability to gain compliance and control after using verbal, physical and less-lethal means, the officers drew their firearms,” Matthews concluded. “Mr. Blake continued to ignore the officers’ commands, even with the threat of lethal force now present.”

    We know this playbook well by now. After police shootings, it’s all too typical for officers to try to smear the victim by pointing to an alleged criminal history or coming up with reasons why officers feared for their safety. The laws are often written to make it easy for prosecutors to listen to the cops’ side of the story. But ultimately the cops’ argument is straightforward. Matthews’ final bullet point all but says it: Blake did not cooperate, and thus deserved to die.

  236. says

    Trump’s response to the shooting in Portland was all too predictable.

    Denouncing Black Lives Matter protesters as “agitators and thugs,” […] Trump on Sunday called for a federal crackdown on demonstrations in cities like Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore., where a man died after tensions between pro-Trump and liberal groups burst into violence.

    Starting before 6 a.m., Trump let loose a barrage of nearly 90 tweets and retweets touting his chances for reelection, attacking Democratic state and local officials over ongoing protests and defending aggressive actions by his supporters in Portland, who appeared to be firing paintballs and pepper spray at onlookers from pickup trucks as they drove through the city streets Saturday night.

    “The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing,” Trump tweeted […]

    “The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!” Trump wrote.

    Soon after, Trump responded to a video from Saturday that appeared to show a cavalcade of hundreds of vehicles bearing pro-Trump signs and flags driving toward downtown Portland, writing: “GREAT PATRIOTS!”

    In response to a video that seemed to show BLM protesters confronting a motorist in D.C., Trump tweeted Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) should “Clean up D.C. or the Federal Government will do it for you. Enough!!!”

    He ended his string of tweets just after 8 a.m. with a call for “LAW & ORDER!!!”

    Trump’s frenzied effort to discredit BLM protesters and Democratic leaders came as he prepares to travel on Tuesday to Kenosha, Wis., where Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was left paralyzed a week ago after a police officer shot him in the back.

    Trump is clearly inciting violence. He should not travel to Kenosha.

    Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for Joe Biden, said Sunday morning that Trump has incited violence as further protests against police brutality sweep the country.

    “He has encouraged his supporters to go out, to be aggressive,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It is better for this president if there is more anarchy, more violence, more chaos. He has at every opportunity tried to fan the flames here. And that is the reason we are living in Donald Trump’s America.” […]

    Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), a co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Trump has to “own this moment.”

    Meadows “said President Trump is on the side of law enforcement. Well, the question becomes: Who is on the side of justice? Who is on the side of constitutional policing? It’s not about law enforcement or protesters. It’s about making sure that police are held accountable when they violate people’s constitutional rights, when they shoot unarmed Black people,” Richmond told “Meet the Press.” […]

    Washington Post link

  237. blf says

    Reporting on Belarus: courage, violence and ‘creepers’ with cameras:

    Our correspondent on how a nation trying to live at arm’s length to its own government finally decided to take action

    […]

    I arrived in Minsk on 11 August, two days after Lukashenko declared victory in elections with an implausible 80% of the vote. The protests that followed had been ruthlessly suppressed, and on the evening I showed up, riot police in balaclavas were pulling people out of their cars at random and beating them up.

    […]

    My first day in Minsk was also challenging because the authorities had completely shut down internet access across the country. Using a medley of VPNs, I could just about check my email on my apartment wifi, but nothing else, and mobile internet did not work at all. It was a reminder of what being a journalist in the pre-internet era must have been like, with the difference that now all the readers abroad had access to Twitter and breaking news; it was only we on the ground who had no idea what was happening outside.

    After the initial post-election violence, things calmed down, but there was always menace in the background. Columns of army trucks, the shields of the riot troops packed inside bulging against the tarpaulin, were regularly on the move throughout town. Vans with darkened windows and no plates could often be seen lurking on street corners, men in balaclavas sitting in the front seats; I’ll never look at a Ford Transit in the same way again.

    One night I came home to find two police in full riot gear waiting outside my apartment block’s entrance. They were probably not for me, but, not wanting to begin a discussion, I walked swiftly past and imposed on a friend for the night.

    Heavy-set plain-clothed observers, known locally as tikhari (something like “creepers”), were ubiquitous. At protests, they walked by, ostentatiously filming everyone in attendance on camcorders. It was always possible to tell if Lukashenko was in the vicinity by the sudden increase in their numbers. At a speech he gave in the main square one Sunday, it seemed like half the crowd were wearing earpieces.

    This sinister system had always been lurking underneath the surface of what is otherwise a pleasant, laid-back and friendly country. Everyone in Belarus knew what kind of government they had, but many felt they could live a decent life parallel to the state rather than in opposition to it — a mode of living that was known as “internal emigration” in Soviet times.

    […]

    It’s not only the “creative class” of young professionals who are protesting. It’s all kinds of people who just a few years ago might have been pro-Lukashenko: factory workers, rural grandmothers and even some state employees. Early on in my trip, I mentioned I was a journalist to a middle-aged cashier in a shop, whom I had presumed was bound to be a Lukashenko fan. “What do you think, are we going to win? Are we finally going to kick that bastard out?” was her reply, to my surprise.

    Lukashenko, living in a coddled information bubble surrounded by sycophants, has appeared genuinely surprised by the scale of the discontent. His PR team has wheeled out the same tropes the Kremlin used successfully in Ukraine six years ago, about neo-Nazi radicals trying to bring chaos and sow discord with Russia.

    […] As one person put it to me: “You send men in balaclavas to pick us off the streets, imprison us and beat us up, and we’re the fascists here?”

    […]

  238. blf says

    How should Europe respond now its American ally has turned hostile?:

    […]
    Making his celebrated return from exile in April 1917 to take up the reins of the Russian revolution, Vladimir Lenin caught a ferry to Sweden from Sassnitz, a small Baltic coastal town in north-east Germany, before taking the train to Finland station in Petrograd, the city that became Leningrad and is now St Petersburg. Sassnitz’s moment in the historical spotlight was fleeting. Now, thanks to Donald Trump’s blundering buddies, it’s back there again.

    A trio of Republican senators — Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson — are threatening to wreak terrible punishment on Sassnitz, its elected officials and residents who make their living from the port. Luckily, Trump’s three stooges seem unaware of Sassnitz’s role in propelling the Bolshevik leader to power. Their beef concerns its present-day dealings with Russia and the almost-completed Nord Stream 2 Baltic pipeline project.

    In an extraordinarily high-handed letter this month, the senators claimed the pipeline, which will import Russian natural gas to Europe via Germany, posed a grave threat to US security. If Sassnitz did not immediately halt its involvement, it would incur crushing legal and economic sanctions that could prove fatal to the region’s economy, they decreed. Sassnitz companies, shareholders and employees would face US government-ordered asset freezes and travel bans similar to North Korea and Iran.

    […]

    The reaction in Sassnitz and beyond is predictably furious. The Americans are accused of treating Germany more like an enemy, or a colony, than an ally. Foreign minister Heiko Maas said such behaviour reflected basic “disrespect” for European rights and sovereignty. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, expressed “deep concern at the growing use of sanctions, or threat of sanctions, by the US against European companies and interests”.

    […]

    America’s increasing resort to bullying and intimidation of old friends in place of reasoned persuasion was highlighted by another showdown last week, over Iran. US secondary sanctions have hurt European companies trading with Tehran but have failed, so far, to break the joint German-French-UK commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal jettisoned by Trump. So when the US sought to reimpose sanctions on Iran at the UN, it was roundly rebuffed.

    Secretary of state Mike Pompeo reacted with a classic Trumpian tantrum. Europe was siding with the ayatollahs, he snarled. Kelly Craft, US ambassador to the UN, was every bit as offensive, absurdly accusing America’s most steadfast allies of standing in the company of terrorists. The fact Trump’s Iran policy has demonstrably backfired, pushing the Middle East closer to war, and Iran closer to a nuclear weapon, does not seem to matter.

    […] Despite its desire to save Europe from the Russians (and sell it expensive gas from Cruz’s home state of Texas instead), Trumpland has shown a dismaying lack of concern over the plight of Alexei Navalny, the poisoned Russian opposition activist.

    Be it the conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and Libya, or the uprising in Belarus, hands-off Trump has gone out of his way to avoid upsetting Russian president Vladimir Putin, to whom he seems in thrall. These are important matters affecting Europe’s security, prosperity and principles, yet scant solidarity, and often the exact opposite, is what it has come to expect from Trump’s America.

    What to do? EU leaders can hope Joe Biden wins in November. But what if Trump triumphs again? Europe can expect more sanctions, selfish stupidity and brutishness where US foreign policy used to be. It would face a second-term president [sic] hostile to Germany in particular, contemptuous of the EU in general, and free to indulge his destructive instincts to the full. Nato and the transatlantic alliance might finally implode under the strain.

    […]

  239. says

    Biden’s campaign personnel are fact-checking Trump’s lickspittles.

    Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield on Sunday fact-checked Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump’s assertion that the Democratic presidential nominee failed to condemn the violence that erupted during protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death soon enough.

    During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump was asked whether the President’s re-election campaign thinks that this violence in the streets plays to the President’s political advantage.

    After acknowledging “that is never something that any of us would want to see happen,” Lara Trump claimed that Biden took three months to condemn the unrests happening at protests.

    “I think, unfortunately, what’s really bad, specifically for Joe Biden and the Biden campaign because — Chris, you might remember that it took him about three months to finally come out and condemn this violence and say that people should stop doing it,” Trump said. […]

    “I think it’s probably because he knows that that is his base and he doesn’t want to upset these people,” Trump said.

    Right after Trump’s interview aired, Bedingfield was interviewed on “Fox News Sunday” as well where she initially bypassed anchor Chris Wallace’s question on Biden’s upcoming campaign trip and proceeded to fact-check Lara Trump’s claim instead.

    “First of all, she said that Vice President Biden did not quickly condemn the violence around these protests — that’s absolutely not true,” Bedingfield said. “He came out right after George Floyd was killed back in May and said there’s no place for violence. He said it forcefully again this week. So that’s simply not true.”

    Bedingfield added that “a President’s words matter” before criticizing Donald Trump for getting the country into a “state of chaos” due to his failure on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In late May during protests in the wake of Floyd’s death, Biden issued a statement saying that although protesting police brutality is “right and necessary,” the unrest that ensued such as “burning down communities and needless destruction is not.”

    “Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not,” Biden wrote. “The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance.” […]

    TPM link

  240. says

    How is that reopening schools thing going?

    […] according to the University of Alabama System dashboard, more than 1,000 students have now tested positive for COVID-19 since classes resumed. How long have classes been in session? Less than two weeks. […]

    Link

  241. says

    Former Intel Officials Thought Mueller Was Investigating Trump’s Personal and Financial Ties to Russia. He Wasn’t.

    A New York Times report reveals that the Justice Department limited the scope of its investigation and neglected to inform the FBI.

    Former longtime intelligence officials saw […] Trump’s extensive history of financial dealings with Russia as such a possible national security threat, they thought it warranted a sweeping investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election.

    […] from the start of the investigation, the Justice Department narrowed the inquiry to a criminal investigation into whether the Trump campaign associates broke laws in connection to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. What’s more, it did not tell the the FBI about the investigation, “all but ensuring it would go nowhere,” writes Michael S. Schmidt in his upcoming book, Donald Trump v. the United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President.

    The New York Times reported on Sunday that former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein determined that the FBI didn’t have enough evidence to warrant a sweeping investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia. Rosenstein also thought the intelligence agency’s director, Andrew McCabe, who approved the inquiry, had conflicts of interest. As Schmidt writes:

    Mr. Rosenstein never told Mr. McCabe about his decision, leaving the F.B.I. with the impression that the special counsel would take on the investigation into the president as part of his broader duties. Mr. McCabe said in an interview that had he known Mr. Mueller would not continue the inquiry, he would have had the F.B.I. perform it.

    “We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia,” Mr. McCabe said. “I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”

    FBI officials had questioned whether Russia had influence on the president, so much so that Trump fired former director James Comey to derail any further investigation. The revelation that the Justice Department never explored Trump’s personal and financial ties to Russia, and neither did the FBI, raises significant questions leading up to the 2020 election. As Schmidt noted:

    Mr. Trump has sought to build a Trump Tower in Moscow for at least two decades, including during the campaign. His son Eric once said the Trump Organization relied on Russia for “all the funding we need” to purchase several golf courses in the United States. And the Senate report this month revealed the allegations of Mr. Trump’s potentially compromising encounters with women in Moscow in 1996 and 2013.

    In May 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller launched his investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government” and the Trump campaign, but later told Congress he had not conducted a counterintelligence investigation. Rosenstein reportedly told Mueller that if he wanted to expand the investigation, he had to ask for additional resources. Mueller, in turn, built a staff “to investigate crimes, not threats to national security,” Schmidt reported. A Republican-led Senate intelligence report concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump win, a determination also made by Trump’s own intelligence agency (whom he has frequently attacked), though both reports found there hadn’t been a coordinated conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    What’s more, the Senate report determined that Trump’s campaign advisers had extensive contact with people tied to the Russian government, including one associate whom the report called a “Russian intelligence officer.”

    In short, Rosenstein’s decision to not go forward with a counterintelligence inquiry, and instead prematurely narrow the inquiry’s scope to possible crimes, limited what the public could know about its president—ahead of yet another election.

  242. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Retweets Covidiot’s Bizarre Claim That ‘Only 6%’ Of COVID-19 Deaths Are Real”

    Experts have been clear from the beginning — people over 70 or with underlying health conditions are at most risk of dying from COVID-19. That is why many of us who were able to do so went and stayed with our parents so that we could go grocery shopping for them and limit their exposure. It’s why grocery stores implemented special hours for seniors to do their grocery shopping. Lists of conditions that might make one less likely to survive COVID-19 were widely disseminated.

    All of this has been known since the beginning.

    But now we’ve got a bunch of Covidiots going around spreading a lie that the CDC “quietly updated” their site to show that we’ve actually only had around 9,000 deaths from COVID-19, rather than the 186,000 being reported.

    This one was retweeted by Donald Trump. And by 48,000 other people.

    This week the CDC quietly updated the Cover number to admit that only 6% of all the 153,504 deaths recorded actually died from Covid. That’s 9,210 deaths. The other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses & the overwhelming majority were of a very advanced age.

    […] The reference was to this:

    Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.

    It’s true. People with certain underlying conditions are more likely to die of COVID-19. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t die of COVID-19.

    […] But back to these “facts.”

    The “quietly updated their numbers” thing? That’s not really quite as “sneaky” as this person is making it out to be. One would assume that if this were something they were trying to hide from the public, it wouldn’t be on their website to begin with. Were they supposed to do it loudly? Were they supposed to put out a press release?

    It probably didn’t even occur to the CDC that anyone would jump to this conclusion upon seeing those statistics. Largely because, again, they were very clear, from the beginning, that the people most at risk of dying from COVID-19 were people with underlying conditions.

    They even made a video about it back in May! [video available at the link]

    The narrative these people are trying to push is that these people died of other things and just happened to have COVID-19 in their system at the time. That’s not what a comorbidity means. If you have diabetes or heart disease and you die of COVID-19, you are still dying of COVID-19 Thirty-seven percent of the country either has “underlying conditions” that could make COVID-19 more severe or is over the age of 65.

    And hell, those are just the people who know they have underlying conditions. We’re not counting all of the people who may have underlying conditions but don’t know because they can’t afford to go see a doctor.

    They want to frame it like “Oh well, all of those people were going to die anyway!” […] We are all going to die someday. And all of those people very likely died a whole lot sooner than they would have had they not gotten COVID-19. It’s not that they don’t understand this, but that they actually just really don’t care about other people and want to be able to get back to their normal lives and for the rest of us to not think they are jerks for doing so.

    It’s getting to the point where it’s real hard to tell what the Right sincerely believes and what they pretend to believe in order to get the results they want.

    Link

  243. says

    Excerpts from an article written by Amy Davidson Sorkin for The New Yorker:

    Tiffany Trump is not the most prominent or politically adept of Donald Trump’s children, but her speech at the Republican National Convention last week served as a succinct summation of the event’s key messages. Donald Trump is a giant among Presidents, protecting the country and keeping his promises. His reëlection is a contest between freedom and oppression. Yet he’s subject to hatred, Tiffany said, because so many people have been “manipulated and visibly coerced” by the media and tech companies that present a “biased and fabricated” version of reality. “Ask yourselves, why are we prevented from seeing certain information?” she urged viewers. The answer is “control.”

    […] On Thursday night, when her father accepted his party’s nomination, he did the same, saying, “They are coming after me, because I am fighting for you!” Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News journalist who is Donald Trump, Jr.,’s partner, loudly warned about “cosmopolitan élites” who “want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.” Richard Grenell, the former acting director of National Intelligence, said that Trump’s opponents “never want the American people to know who’s actually calling the shots.”

    Claims that the media act in bad faith are a commonplace of electoral politics. […] But the thesis of the Republican Convention was more extreme. Forces larger than the media, variously identified as socialists, anarchists, “wild-eyed Marxists,” “woketopians,” and “globalization fanatics,” are gathering to bring down the country. Journalists may not even know who manages the levers. “Nobody really knows who’s controlling who,” Trump said on Monday […]

    This was the conspiratorial Convention. Speaker after speaker said that Trump is definitely not a racist, that he is a defender of people with preëxisting health conditions, and that he has single-handedly defeated the coronavirus. Accepting such statements almost requires believing that his opponents are masterly practitioners of deception, with a hidden agenda, and that their grievances are a sham. Thus Black Lives Matter marchers and Democratic mayors were said to want protests to descend into violence. “It isn’t an unintended side effect—it’s actually the goal,” Patrick Lynch, the head of New York City’s Police Benevolent Association, said.

    […] Like all good conspiracy theories, the plot is as capacious as it is fearsome. An R.N.C.-produced video claims that Biden has been bought by Beijing; it shows the Statue of Liberty fracturing. Vice-President Mike Pence said that the election will decide “whether America remains America.”

    Public-health imperatives were suspect, too. Senator Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, said that, “if the Democrats had their way, they would keep you locked in your house until you became dependent on the government for everything. That sounds a lot like Communist China to me!” Social-distancing measures weren’t just misguided; the coronavirus was a convenient excuse to promote socialism. (Similarly, Rebecca Friedrichs, a school-choice advocate, noted that “unsuspecting teachers” are being played by radical unions, whose true aim is “subverting our republic.”) And there are few clearer measures of how Trumpism, with its promise of an alternate reality, has captivated the G.O.P. than the sight, on Thursday night, of fifteen hundred mostly maskless people sitting close together for hours on the South Lawn of the White House to hear the President’s acceptance speech. Meanwhile, covid-19 is killing a thousand Americans a day.

    […] According to Media Matters for America, about twenty candidates on the ballot for the Senate or the House this fall have expressed an affinity for QAnon. […]

    This is a dangerous path. The country is facing challenges that demand a modicum of trust, from the counting of ballots to the equitable distribution of a covid-19 vaccine. “Nobody will be safe in a Biden America,” Trump said. He and his party are telling their supporters that, if he loses the election, everything will be gone—the country, the borders, the suburbs, their guns. A […] supporter of the President, in Kenosha, was allegedly all too ready to bring out his gun, with fatal results. […]

  244. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Michael Flynn case does not have to be immediately dismissed, appeals court rules
    By Ann E. Marimow
    August 31, 2020 at 9:13 a.m. PDT

    A federal judge can scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled Monday, allowing the legal saga to continue.

    The divided decision from the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit gives U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan the go ahead to question prosecutors’ unusual move to dismiss Flynn’s case ahead of sentencing. The retired general twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts before Trump took office in 2017.

    In an 8-to-2 ruling, the court denied Flynn’s request, backed by the Justice Department, to shutdown Sullivan’s planned review and appointment of a retired federal judge to argue against the government’s position.

    The decision by the full court reverses an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel of the same court that ordered Sullivan to immediately close the case.

    A brief order from the court published Monday indicated forthcoming dissents from Judges Karen Henderson and Neomi Rao.
    […]

    Trump and his supporters have rallied behind Barr’s intervention and Flynn’s effort to undo his guilty plea. Supporters say Flynn never should have been interviewed by the FBI. But scores of former and current Justice Department employees say the move is a troubling example of the department bending to political pressure and the president’s interests.

  245. says

    Here’s a link to the August 31 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    A small independent Russian teachers’ union is urging members not to be coerced into accepting shots of the “Sputnik V” vaccine, which is to be mandatory for military personnel.

    Moscow clinics recently began receiving supplies of the vaccine, which has been approved for use inside Russia even though the final phase III tests began only last Wednesday.

    From September, doctors and teachers will be among the first to be offered the jab on a voluntary basis, officials have said, an arrangement Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has said he supports.

    The defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, has said shots of the vaccine will be made mandatory for military personnel.

    With Russian schools reopening on 1 September for the first time since March, the teachers’ union Uchitel has launched an online petition against making the vaccine mandatory for teachers before all clinical trials are complete.

    Sweden is seeing a spike in demand for face masks, several pharmacists have said, ahead of a possible U-turn by the authorities, who have so far doubted their effectiveness….

    JFC.

    The UK is at risk of a new surge of infections, experts have said, as schools and universities reopen their doors and cold weather drives people inside, Nicola Davis and Natalie Grover write.

    On Sunday, the government reported 1,715 new cases, the highest daily number since 4 June and the highest number for a weekend day since mid-May. Earlier on Monday, 1,406 new cases were reported. Numbers collected over the weekend are often lower than those for other days of the week owing to lower levels of testing and reporting delays.

    Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said Sunday’s figure was “quite a big jump”. He said data for the rest of the week would be needed to get a clear idea of the scale of any uptick, but the figures tied in to a broader trend of an increase in infections in the UK since early July. Prof Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said:

    What it clearly demonstrates is we’re in a position where case numbers are going up. So we don’t have much room for manoeuvre.

    The USA’s caseload has exceeded six million, according to Johns Hopkins university.

    The researchers have been keeping track of the virus’s spread using both official releases and media reports. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has not yet released Monday’s data, acknowledges has confirmed 5,934,824 cases.

    The US is the world’s worst-affected country, with more than two million more cases than the next worst: Brazil.

  246. says

    Nesrine Malik in the Guardian – “The right’s culture war is no longer a sideshow to our politics – it is our politics”:

    It is hard to pick out one highlight from last week’s bizarre Republican national convention. But the Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz managed to distil into one chilling sentence the essence of rightwing politics today. Joe Biden, Gaetz explained, “would empty the prisons, lock you in your homes, and invite MS-13 to live next door. And the defunded police aren’t on their way.”

    The only mercy in this grotesque US election – which will only get uglier – is that the fearmongering is totally naked. It’s not about “making America great again” again, or the plight of the little guy. It is about order. The threats to order are always present, and always held at bay, just barely, by conservative leaders valiantly fighting the imminent deluge. This authoritarian populist strategy is founded on an essential fiction: the pretence of powerlessness among politicians, and their voters, who are very much in charge. The weak and the marginalised, and especially their fragile movements for racial and economic equality, are cast as a terrifying force, influential and deeply embedded – a shadow regime that will bloom into tyranny the instant the Democrats are elected.

    In Britain, we watch this American political horror from behind our fingers, with the bewildered bemusement of a country far from this madness. But we are there too. The right in the UK now is following the same playbook. The approach is just as calculated, but the presentation is slightly less crude, and therefore more difficult to challenge.

    Over here, fearmongering is altogether more refined. Instead of hyped-up nonsense about emptying prisons and killer migrant gangs, there are subtle and insidious threats to British values. Consider the latest attack on our national pride: thinly sourced reports that Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory might be axed from “BBC’s ‘Black Lives Matter Proms’”. Much like Biden’s secret plot to set criminals loose, the Proms scandal isn’t true: there was no demand that the songs be dropped. There will be an orchestral version online this year because there’s a pandemic on, and there will be no audience to sing along. A vocal version is “fully expected to return next year”.

    This dubious tale wasn’t invented by a Fox News-style propaganda network: it was carried by the Sunday Times and the Times and followed up by all the other papers. But it wasn’t an innocent misunderstanding: it was the result of a desire to exaggerate the threat to “our culture” from the unnamed vandals set on destroying it.

    Once it was out there, the whole of the British media ran with the story. Even the BBC itself rang to ask me to come on for a debate on “the importance of our traditions” – amplifying fears and threats even as its own news site hosted a report explaining that the decision was pandemic-related, and nothing to do with subverting tradition.

    There’s nothing new about these concoctions…. But there is something new and significant about the fake Proms scandal. It is a fabrication in plain sight, a trick performed by lazy magicians who don’t bother with sleight of hand because they know how badly the audience wants to believe the illusion.

    Before long, the story was given the imprimatur of truth by the prime minister – who supposedly defied the restraint of his own minders to speak out against the dangerous “wetness” stalking the land. By the end of the week, parts of the public had been whipped into a frenzy, as seen in several polls helpfully asking how they felt about the BBC’s craven surrender to rampant wokeness. Land of Hope and Glory raced up the charts as a rebuke to the imaginary censors.

    The reason that these made-up stories preoccupy journalists, politicians and the public is that culture-war skirmishes are no longer a sideshow to our politics – they are the politics. They are how rightwing electoral prospects are now advanced; not through policies or promises of a better life, but by fostering a sense of threat, a fantasy that something profoundly pure and British is constantly at risk of extinction. What our most successful politicians understand is the insatiable public appetite for these falsehoods, the wish for these lies to be true – for Britain to be a precious damsel in distress rather than a battered country impoverished by the misrule of its governing class.

    For all the clear appetite and motivation for concocting and believing these lies, we are terrible at defending against them. Either we accept their premise, and start debating the pros and cons of cancelling the lyrics, or we think it’s clever to rise above them and not give the right the culture war that it wants. Either way we fall into the trap of promoting fake culture-war stories by engaging in them, or allowing them to grow unchallenged because there is more serious real politics to attend to. This is the serious real politics. It is winning elections. It is fostering a siege mentality that can be easily converted, as Gaetz did, into fear of the other lot getting in and establishing an anarchic regime that vandalises history, opens the borders and embraces the thugs and vandals of Black Lives Matter.

    The main challenge that faces any progressive forces over the next few years isn’t in convincing the electorate of the mendacity or incompetence of the Conservative party, it’s exposing the vast complex of lies that it is being sold every day, and those who sell them. We can either do that, or we can continue to stumble, out of credulity or cowardice, into culture-war traps as they pave the way to the next rightwing election victory.

  247. says

    Wow:

    New @MilitaryTimes survey of active duty troops has absolutely devastating numbers for @realDonaldTrump. The Republican Party has long considered the military as part of its base, but Biden is now leading Trump among servicemembers 43/37.

    Compared to the 2016 election, @realDonaldTrump’s support within the military has collapsed. Before the last election, Trump led Hillary 41/21. He’s currently losing to Biden 43/37. That’s a huge shift from Republicans to Democrats.

    There’s not a lot of good data with which to compare, but this has to be unprecedented for a GOP president: 42% of military service members have a “very unfavorable” view of the commander-in-chief. By contrast, less than a quarter have a “very favorable” view of @realDonaldTrump.

    Pretty clear that actions like not saying anything about Russian bounties on troops’ heads have consequences

    Military Times link atl. Officers particularly have negative views of Trump. The sample was drawn from readers of their publications, but that was the case in 2016 as well, and they used the same methodology. Also, “About 40 percent of troops surveyed identified as Republican or Libertarian, 16 percent Democrats, and 44 percent independent or another party.”

    From the article:

    Only about 17 percent of those surveyed felt the White House has properly handed reports that Russian officials offered bounties for Afghan fighters to target and kill American troops, an issue Trump has dismissed as unreliable intelligence. Nearly 47 percent disagreed with his statements.

    Similarly, almost 74 percent of those surveyed disagreed with Trump’s suggestion that active-duty military personnel should be used to respond to civil unrest in American cities, including the ongoing racial equality protests. Only about 22 percent supported the president’s idea.

    That contrasts with half of the polls respondents’ support for using National Guard troops to help address civil unrest connected to the protests.

    Troops agreed with Trump’s assessment of China as a national security threat (nearly 87 percent called it a significant concern) but ranked Russia (81 percent) well above Iran (58 percent). Only about 21 percent of troops saw immigration as a significant national security issue, but 48 percent identified white nationalists as a concern.

    Nearly half of troops surveyed said the U.S. military force level in Germany should remain the same, despite Trump’s recent moves to drawn down American military personnel levels there. Another 24 percent say they believe troop levels in Germany should be increased.

  248. says

    SC @372, I think that Trump’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies also played a big part in the officer class of the military abandoning Trump.

    In other news, this campaign tidbit raises red flags for me: A new Republican super PAC, called “Preserve America,” is poised to launch a $30 million ad blitz in the hopes of boosting Trump’s candidacy. The project will reportedly be overseen by Chris LaCivita, who helped orchestrate the wildly deceptive Swift Boat smear campaign against John Kerry in 2004.

  249. says

    As a followup comment to SC’s 372:

    Over the weekend, Biden spoke at a virtual gathering of the National Guard Association of the United States, and the former vice president made a timely commitment: “I promise you, as president, I’ll never put you in the middle of politics, or personal vendettas. I’ll never use the military as a prop or as a private militia to violate rights of fellow citizens. That’s not law and order. You don’t deserve that.”

    Link

  250. says

    CNN – “Twitter labels Scalise tweet of Biden interview about police funding ‘manipulated media’ before he took it down”:

    Twitter labeled a video promoted by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of a progressive activist interviewing Joe Biden about police funding “manipulated content,” and Scalise later deleted the tweet Sunday night.

    The video splices together footage from an interview between, Ady Barkan, who has ALS and speaks using a computerized artificial voice, and Biden.

    In the original video, Barkan asks Biden if he can agree that “we can redirect some of the funding,” for police departments toward mental health services, to which Biden replies, “Yes.”

    The clip tweeted out by the number two Republican in the House splices in the words “for police” from one of Barkan’s other questions to make it sound as if Barkan is asking Biden if he agrees they can “redirect some of the funding for police.”

    Scalise used the tweet to promote the popular talking point that Democrats are responsible for sowing unrest as protests continue nationwide following shootings of Black people by police, adding in his tweet: “No police. Mob rule. Total chaos. That’s the result of the Democrat agenda.”

    Barkan tweeted to Scalise before he took down the tweet, “These are not my words. I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts. You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain. Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology.”

    A Twitter spokesperson said the tweet was labeled based on its, “synthetic and Manipulated Media policy.” The issue with the video was the audio manipulation of Barkan, originally adding words to the audio Barkan didn’t say in that context.

    The video was also posted to Facebook. While the video appears to have been taken down by Scalise, it does not look like Facebook took action against the video. Facebook declined to comment.

    Before deleting the video, Scalise defended it tweeting, “Twice in one interview Biden says ‘yes’ & ‘yes absolutely’ to questions about ‘redirecting’ police funding.”

    And in another tweet Scalise said, “While Joe Biden clearly said ‘yes,’ twice, to the question of his support to redirect money away from police, we will honor the request of @AdyBarkan and remove the portion of his interview from our video.”

    Biden also tweeted Sunday demanding that the video be taken down.

    “This video is doctored — and a flagrant attempt to spread misinformation at the expense of a man who uses assistive technology,” Biden said. “It should be removed. Now.”

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier slammed Scalise’s tweet saying in her own, “Congressman Scalise must take his doctored video down and apologize immediately.”

  251. says

    JFC. Followup to comment 366.

    Trump promotes message questioning coronavirus death toll

    Trump’s campaign to deceive the public about a deadly ongoing pandemic is qualitatively different than the usual presidential nonsense.

    […] Yesterday morning between 4:49 a.m. (ET) and 7:04 a.m. (E.T.), [Trump]t either tweeted or retweeted 89 times.

    But it wasn’t just the volume that was the problem. It was the messages themselves.

    Over the course of one weekend, [Trump] promoted all kinds of bizarre content calling for the imprisonment of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), arguing that social-justice protests may be part of an organized “coup” attempt, offering support for an accused murderer in Wisconsin, and at one point, even suggesting that the COVID-19 death toll in the United States is not to be trusted.

    “So get this straight — based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus,” said the summary of an article by the hard-line conservative website Gateway Pundit that was retweeted by the president, denigrating his own health advisers, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx.

    As the New York Times’ report on this added, the missive in question “was a distortion of data available on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that 6 percent of coronavirus fatalities list only the virus on the death certificates. For other deaths, the patients had an average of 2.6 other conditions or causes of death. The statistics do not mean that they did not die because of the virus, but help explain who is most vulnerable to it.”

    The tweet was so wildly misleading that Twitter felt compelled to take it down to prevent the spread of misinformation. It was, however, good enough for [Trump].

    […] his campaign to deceive the public about a deadly ongoing pandemic is qualitatively different than the usual presidential nonsense.

    For one thing, many Americans may not fully appreciate the extent to which Trump still has no idea what he’s talking about. For another, the president is still in a position of extraordinary power, and if he’s genuinely under the impression that the fatality figures have been exaggerated, it will lead him to make — or in this case, continue to make — misguided decisions.

    […]: the problem with the official death toll isn’t that it’s been inflated, but rather, that it may not fully reflect the full count.

    Leading U.S. authorities have spent months warning about a possible under-count, not over-count.

    So why is Trump raising the prospect of the opposite? Apparently because a right-wing website published a message that made the president feel better about his failures.

  252. says

    Trump faces an awkward health care deadline of his own making

    Trump recently suggested we’d see his new health care plan “prior to the end of the month.” That’s today. So, where is it?

    […] it was on July 17 when Trump sat down with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, and the host asked about the president’s ongoing efforts to tear down the ACA. The president replied that he still intends to “replace” the landmark health care law.

    The host reminded Trump, “But you’ve been in office three and a half years, you don’t have a plan.” It was at this point that the president responded with an unexpected vow: Trump said he’d “sign” a “full and complete” health care plan “within two weeks.”

    As we’ve discussed, two weeks went by, and the “full and complete” health care plan was nowhere to be found. On July 31, pressed for some kind of explanation, the president told reporters, “We’re going to be doing a very inclusive health care plan. I’ll be signing it sometime very soon. It might be Sunday [Aug. 2], but it’s going to be very soon.” (He added earlier in the day that the upcoming White House health care plan will be “very big.”)

    Two days later, [Trump] went golfing. He did not unveil or sign a health care plan. On Aug. 3, Trump presented a new timeline.

    “I do want to say that we’re going to be introducing a tremendous healthcare plan sometime prior — hopefully, prior to the end of the month. It’s just about completed now.”

    The president added that the new health care plan “will be very impressive to a lot of people.”

    I predicted at the time that Trump would neither unveil nor sign an “impressive” health care plan by the end of the month — and the end of the month is today. […]

    GOP officials have been promising a superior alternative to the Affordable Care Act since the summer of 2009 — well over a decade ago — and they’ve failed spectacularly because they don’t know how to craft such a blueprint. […]

  253. says

    From Saturday: “Women are marching from Victory square towards October square in Minsk.”

    From yesterday: “Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Minsk and dozens of other cities and towns all over Belarus for the fourth Sunday in a row. Just look at the self organisation, how people give way to the ambulance!”

    From today: “The head of Belarus Catholic Church Tadeush Kondrusevich has been denied entry to Belarus despite the fact he is a Belarus citizen. This is a violation of the Belarusian Constitution and one of the most basic human rights – the right to live in your own country.”