Comments

  1. says

    “Criminal Conspiracy” by Josh Marshall:

    You’ve likely seen the reports (in the Times, Politico and Axios) of this White House meeting yesterday involving Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and various administration officials in which President Trump seemed to back increasingly outlandish and illegal ploys to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, the results of which are now certified, final and over. What is buried a bit in most of these stories is that Mike Flynn was at the meeting too.

    Given her wild conspiracy theories and the litigation she’s pursued around the country, the focus on Powell is understandable. Trump is reportedly considering making her a “special counsel” to investigate the election, whatever that might mean. But I think we need to see Powell as essentially a creature of Mike Flynn, at least inasmuch as she holds Trump’s attention. It’s Flynn who has had a unique connection to and hold over Trump going all the way back to 2015.

    Flynn, the now pardoned former three star general, has been making the rounds in recent days pressing the President to declare martial law and have the military hold new elections in the swing states Trump lost. Again, he was at this meeting. He’s the one Trump is now listening to. Powell, who took over as Flynn’s lawyer after he stopped cooperating with the Mueller investigation, is part of the Flynn package. It’s his influence, credibility with Trump and hold over him that is what’s driving this.

    I have no doubt that Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President in one month. But I think everyone is underestimating just how chaotic and dangerous the next 30 days are going to be. What we are watching is nothing less than a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election – an election that is legally confirmed, certified and done in every way – which includes the President, Flynn, Giuliani, Powell and others. Barr’s departure on the 23rd, the Pentagon’s abrupt end of transition cooperation with the Biden team and a lot else all need to be seen in this light.

    Combined with this news is the revelation that Rudy Giuliani has been pressing the Department of Homeland Security to seize voting machines in states that Trump lost as part of some investigation that Powell will purportedly conduct as “special counsel.” The Trump uber-loyalists at DHS, including Ken Cuccinelli, are refusing, saying – rightly – that DHS has no legal authority to do any such thing. Giuliani is not part of the government. He’s some combination of the President’s personal lawyer and perhaps also the person in charge of the phantom Trump campaign.

    Donald Trump is clearly profoundly frightened at the prospect of losing power, for reasons that go beyond the emotional investment and loss that almost makes electoral defeat a shattering blow. He is listening to people who are puffing him up with the belief that mounting a coup against the government will allow him to stay in power.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/criminal-conspiracy

  2. says

    Biden Health Aide Pours Cold Water On Trump Admin’s Rosy COVID Vaccine Timeline

    It’s going to be a while.

    Dr. Vivek Murthy, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for surgeon general, poured some cold water on the Trump administration’s rosy vaccine distribution timeline on Sunday.

    “I think it’s more realistic to assume that it may be closer to mid-summer or early fall when this vaccine makes its way to the general population. So we want to be optimistic, but we want to be cautious as well,” Murthy, who served as surgeon general under President Obama, told “Meet the Press.” […]

  3. says

    Ready to toss your mask as soon as you get vaccinated? Think again

    As cases of the novel coronavirus increase nationwide, the newly released Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has given hope to some individuals that the virus can be stopped. Shipments of the vaccine arrived in all 50 states and Puerto Rico on Monday with healthcare workers and nursing home residents the first to receive a dose. While this is not the end of the pandemic, the vaccine gives hope that the nation will slowly recover from the damage that has been done and things might actually go back to “normal” soon.

    But that doesn’t mean you should throw away your masks and other safety precautions just yet. Although a vaccine is available in the U.S., it’s not yet available to everyone nor is it the sole solution to defeating this pandemic. At the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading, it will still take months for the vaccine to be given to a significant number of people in order to curb the pandemic. Continuing to wear masks and following other safety precautions is essential in helping the vaccine work to its best ability. […]

    “I don’t believe we’re going to be able to throw the masks away and forget about physical separation in congregate settings for a while, probably likely until we get into the late fall and early next winter, but I think we can do it,” Fauci said while appearing by video conference at a Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual health event on Dec. 14.

    “[It’s] not going to be like turning a light switch on and off. It’s not going to be overnight,” Fauci continued. “It’s going to be gradual, and I think we will know when we see the level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is right now that we can start gradually tiptoeing towards normality.”

    […] “By the time we get to the fall, we can start approaching some degree of relief where the level of infection will be so low in society we can start essentially approaching some form of normality,” Fauci said.

    He said extraordinary public health measures—such as mask usage, event cancellations, and enhanced hygiene protocols—are likely to continue “several months into the second half and beyond of 2021.”

    […] Other health officials have reiterated Fauci’s concerns noting that immunity to the virus will take a number of months. According to Business Insider, similar to the flu shot that does not guarantee a lack of infection the vaccine does not guarantee immunity. “The moment you get a vaccine doesn’t mean you’re going to put your mask in the trash,” Maria Elena Bottazzi, a vaccine developer at Baylor College of Medicine told Business Insider. […]

  4. says

    […] “You’re going to be the first openly gay person to serve in a Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary position,” Tucker [CNN host Jake Tapper] stated. “You’ll also be the first millennial Cabinet member. Do these milestones mean something to you personally?”

    We all know Buttigieg is no stranger to eloquent, moving remarks. And his answer to this question is no different.

    “I can remember being a teenager,” Buttigieg stated. “I remember being in Indiana in the ‘90s, watching on the news, as an appointee of President Clinton’s, James Hormel was put forward to be an ambassador. Couldn’t get a hearing in the Senate, was attacked relentlessly because he was gay. I wasn’t even out to myself at the time, but I noticed that story.

    And, you know, over the weekend, having mentioned historia, I tracked down the former ambassador and called him. He did get to the serve in the end, though only by recess appointment. And he said that he made sure, he asked, to be put forward for something that would have to go to the Senate, knowing full well what would happen. Because he knew that would chip away at that barrier for the next person to come along. So, I was mindful as that announcement came out that I was standing on the shoulders of people who came before me.

    And I understand that part of my responsibility, and my opportunity, is to make it a little bit easier for the next person to come along. And I hope there are young people who may have wondered if they belonged, maybe been given reasons to wonder if they belong in their own families and communities, understanding the message that is sent by the President-Elect when he creates a place of belonging at a place like the Cabinet table in the White House.” […]

    Link

    Video of Buttigieg speaking is available at the link.

  5. blf says

    One bit about the London plague-carriers fleeing is the chunnel (Eurostar and Le Shuttle trains); Eurostar tickets apparently sold out very quickly after the announcement of the “tier 4” lockdown (Grauniad live coronavirus blog). All travel from the “U”K to France will be suspended for at least 48 hours, starting in about 90 minutes from now as I type this (France latest country to ban travel from UK, as new virus strain ‘out of control’). That means multiple Eurostar trains full of plague-carriers have been pouring into Paris (at least), and potentially other destinations (such as Marseille, which is not a million kilometres from me), all day. Arrggghhhhh!!!!!

    The suspension of Le Shuttle trains will also completely gum up the already gummed-up freight shipments between the EU and the “U”K (mostly, at the moment, supplies from the EU being stockpiled in the UK in preparation for end of the brexit transition period).

  6. says

    Andrew Kaczynski, CNN:

    Watching Francesca on a ventilator has been so hard the past 2+ weeks. Since the infection is very hard to be cleared and takes a lot of time, the uncertainty and stress is so draining. But the thought watching her struggle for more weeks only to die is terrible to me.

    You can never really accept the idea of your child dying even when you get a terrible cancer diagnosis. Watching Beans in the ICU with the outcome uncertain at least gives you time to process it. You just have to accept you don’t know.

    And know whatever she chooses to do you will be okay with.

    You just sort hope you can look back on the positive and good times without also feeling a deep pain and sadness with the happiness.

  7. says

    Last night CNN aired a “Special Report: Pandemic: How a Virus Changed the World in 1918.” People said it was very good, but CNN had done little to promote it so a lot of us missed it. But it’s on again tonight at 9 ET, in case anyone’s interested.

  8. says

    ““He’s Just Done With COVID”—the Washington Post Unpacks Trump’s Catastrophic Pandemic Response”:

    Though it’s been clear for quite some time that […] Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been both haphazard and lethal, it’s not been easy to know what was going on inside the White House among the president and his advisers that set the stage for the skyrocketing infection rate and the deaths of 313,000 people.

    A piece from the Washington Post, published Saturday, compiles the reflections of 48 senior administration officials, government health professionals, outside advisers, and others to present one of the most comprehensive analyses yet of how, as the Post puts it, the US walked headlong into the “pandemic’s dark winter.”

    “I think he’s just done with COVID,” one of the president’s closest advisers told the Post. The president’s initial reluctance to take the pandemic seriously, at least publicly, is well documented. As is his early acknowledgement to Bob Woodward that the situation was much more dire that he wanted to let on publicly. (He told Woodward in a February phone call, that the virus was actually “more deadly than your strenuous flus” and was “deadly stuff.”)

    But now, with the benefit of nearly a year of experience, conversations with those who’ve had a front row seat to the administration’s mishandling of the pandemic led the Post to conclude that the suffering has been “compounded over time by a host of damaging presidential traits—his skepticism of science, impatience with health restrictions, prioritization of personal politics over public safety, undisciplined communications, chaotic management style, indulgence of conspiracies, proclivity toward magical thinking, allowance of turf wars and flagrant disregard for the well-being of those around him.”

    A few of those interviewed defended the administration. They point to the ramp-up of ventilators—even as he boasted of delaying aid to Democrat-run states—and the delivery of two vaccines in under a year, which involves an incredibly complex process of research, testing, and approval that typically takes much longer. […] complex accomplishments are overshadowed by the lack of leadership in supporting simpler practices that could have saved lives.

    […] The Post reports that an effort to manufacture and distribute 650 million three-ply cotton masks quickly came together in mid-March. But senior members of the president’s coronavirus task force questioned how much the masks would cost and how they would be delivered. Peter T. Gaynor, a FEMA administrator, mocked the masks, comparing them to jockstraps, the paper reported. Additionally, distribution of the masks through the US Postal Service was a “nonstarter.” Trump has long nurtured personal animus toward the agency because of its deals with Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Post. Several of the president’s top advisers also convinced him to “think of the masks as a cultural wedge issue” and use mask mandates as a way to animate his political base. [OMFG]

    The Post includes other examples of the bungled response. Consider the appointment and prominence of Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no infectious-disease or public health background who happened to catch the attention of Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks and another adviser during his television appearances. Atlas pushed a “herd immunity” strategy, the paper reported (which Atlas denies), and his thinking was influential with the president. “Dr. Scott Atlas has caused people to lose their lives because he stood at the White House podium and told people masks may not work, and he told people we should get over it and build up herd immunity,” Kyle McGowan, the CDC chief of staff until August, told the Post. “He’s telling the world lies from a bully pulpit, from a position of power, and I believe people died because of that.” […]

    The Post reports that the mixed messaging and downplaying of the severity of the pandemic has continued into the holiday season and the lame duck session of his presidency, with Trump and his wife, Melania, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, hosting indoor holiday parties, regardless of the danger to which they’re exposing their guests and, more alarmingly, staff required to work. “At least one worker who got infected never heard from anyone in the White House about the illness,” the Post reports. “They were replaced for the next party.”

    Mother Jones link

  9. says

    From Mitt Romney:

    The party that I knew is one that was very concerned about Russia and [Vladimir] Putin and Kim Jong Un and North Korea, and we pushed back aggressively against them. We were a party concerned about balancing the budget.

    […] We’ve strayed from that. I don’t see us returning to that for a long time. As I look at the 2024 [GOP presidential] contenders, most of them are trying to become as much like Donald Trump as they can be. […]

    I think, ultimately, the Republican Party will return to the roots that have been formed over — well, the century. So, we’ll get back at some point and, hopefully, people will recognize we need to take a different course than the one we are on right now.

  10. says

    Follow-up to blf @8.

    Patient in Italy detected with strain of COVID-19 found in UK

    A patient in Italy was detected to have been infected with the more contagious strain of COVID-19 recently discovered in the U.K., Italy’s health ministry announced on Sunday.

    The health ministry said that the patient and his partner came back to Italy from the U.K. in the last few days on a flight that landed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport. The couple is currently in isolation, Reuters reported.

    The patient’s contraction of the new strain comes as at least six countries temporarily suspended travel to the U.K.[…] after U.K. officials reported the new strain that appears to be more contagious. […]

  11. says

    Asshats planning to continue to be asshats:

    Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) suggested Sunday that President-elect Joe Biden would face a sustained confirmation fight for his Cabinet nominees if Republicans maintain their control of the upper chamber.

    Barrasso cited the delays for some of President Trump’s nominees, telling Fox’s host Chris Wallace that GOP senators “are not going to forget what happened with President Trump’s administration and the delayed process that went through it.”

    “[I]t’s not going to be a garden party,” he added.” “If the Republicans are in the majority, these nominees are going to have to run the gauntlet.” […]

    Link

  12. says

    Twenty percent of prisoners in the USA are infected with COVID-19.

    Roughly 20 percent of all state and federal prison inmates in the U.S. have or previously contracted COVID-19, an investigation from The Associated Press and the Marshall Project found.

    More than 275,000 inmates serving sentences for various offenses across the country have contracted the virus since the beginning of 2020, the investigation found, and more than 17,000 have died as a result of the virus and lack of access to basic medical care.

    Federal officials with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons did not immediately return a request for comment […]. Some recently incarcerated Americans told journalists over the course of the investigation that they witnessed inmates in medical distress in common areas of prison facilities.

    One former chief medical officer at Riker’s Island in New York also told reporters that he had seen facilities where those with COVID-19 symptoms regularly went without being tested or receiving any medical care. […]

    Link

  13. blf says

    Follow-up to @8 and my comments about Le Shuttle, from the Grauniad’s current live cornavirus live blog:

    As France sets to close their border at 11 pm [15mins from now] tonight as part of their coronavirus safety measures, many businesses are panicking, as the ban includes freight vehicles.

    Since the announcement, Eurotunnel has suspended services for passenger and freight traffic for the outlined 48hours. The Port of Dover has closed its ferry terminal for the UK to France and Eurostar is cancelling trains between London, Brussels, and Amsterdam. [and Marseille]

    […]

    Formerly the Freight Transport Association, Logistics UK tweeted: “Logistics UK is aware of news that accompanied freight to France is being not allowed for 48 hours; we are concerned about the welfare of drivers and we are urgently seeking more information for our members.”

    [… O]ne of Scotland’s key shellfish suppliers has tweeted out about the strain this will have on businesses, writing: “There will be Vivier trucks from all over Scotland heading in that direction, millions of pounds worth of seafood at the time of the most important market of the year the last one before Xmas, Jesus if BREXIT wasn’t going to put us out of business by Tuesday this week we will be.” […]

    Yea, fresh Oysters are a HUGELY in demand over the holidays here in France (see @442(previous page)).

    [… A twittering quoted] “Tonight’s suspension of accompanied freight traffic from UK to France has potential to cause serious disruption to UK Christmas fresh food supplies — and exports of UK food and drink…” putting off inbound truckers, concerned about being stuck in GB.

  14. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Supporters Sure Have Some Messed Up Inauguration Day Plans”

    In one month, to the day, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States of America. I believe this, you believe this, but Donald Trump does not believe it and neither do a fair amount of his supporters. They still think he’s got a shot, that there is some kind of special kraken that can be released, some kind of sovereign citizen magic math that can be done, to keep him in office another four years (or forever!).

    And over 300,000 of them are so delusional that they are planning to attend Trump’s virtual inauguration online.

    Yeah. I don’t know what they’re going to do when this doesn’t actually occur. Are they going to pretend it’s happening? Like, are they going to watch footage of the 2017 inauguration and pretend it’s happening now? Are they just gonna spend the next four years pretending that Trump is still president […]

    These people appear to be pretty serious. According to the Daily Dot, Evi Kokalari, a co-host of the event, is no rando, and has in fact has at least claimed to be a Trump surrogate:

    According to a Twitter profile for co-host Evi Kokalari, who sometimes goes as Evi Kokalari-Angelakis, she was on the Trump Victory Finance Committee. In a late November op-ed she contributed to the far-right outlet Revolver News, she identified herself as a “Trump campaign surrogate.” She’s also been a guest on One America News Network (OAN), which has of late replaced Fox News as Trump’s favored propaganda machine.

    Kokalari’s Facebook page includes photos of her with high-profile Republicans taken in the last few months, including Eric Trump, Steve Bannon, Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.). According to a public post on her page, in October, Kokalari hosted an event where Bannon was the featured speaker. In recent months, she also hosted fundraisers for Santos and Zeldin.

    It’s not surprising that they think Trump still has a shot, when he’s telling him he has a shot and also sites like Gateway Pundit, home of the Stupidest Man on The Internet, Jim Hoft) are listing off Trump’s “many options” for overturning the election.

    ** President Trump can still confiscate and examine the controversial and suspect voting machines.
    ** President Trump can encourage the AWOL Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those who committed fraud.
    ** Mark Zuckerberg could be investigated for his role in shady election practices.
    ** President Trump can bring in the inventor of the QR Code, IT expert Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, to conduct his scan on completed ballots.
    ** President Trump can order an investigation of the USPS trailers full of ballots that left New York for battleground state Pennsylvania.
    ** Trump can investigate and indict the organizers of the Atlanta ‘suitcase’ scandal.
    ** Trump needs to investigate the SolarWinds breach and if there is a connection to the 2020 election.

    Oh yeah, these are all very plausible things he could do. Very realistic.

    […] Some dude named Vic Freeman is attempting to throw a “Million Militia March”

    It reads:

    Millions of American Militia will meet in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2021 for the purpose of preventing any attempt by the treasonous domestic enemy Joe Biden, or any other member of the Communist Organized Crime Organization known as The Democratic Party, from entering the White House belonging to We The People.

    In the event that justice is miraculously served and our Re-Elected President Donald J. Trump is sworn in: The President, the capital and our National Monuments will be protected from the proven-violent Leftist insurgents who have declared war against the United States of America and have been conducting an active insurrection in the United States of America.

    It probably won’t be millions of Americans, because this dude only has about 650 followers on Parler, but still. Screenshots of the event invite have been spreading around Trumplandia by people who appear to really, actually believe that it is not just their right, but their duty, to murder us all if they don’t get their way.

    Admittedly, though, I am curious about the idea of a Communist Organized Crime Organization. How would this work? Could it work? Would it be like a syndicalist kind of deal? Like a Cosa Nostra without leaders or any hierarchy? In which the enforcers own the means of … enforcing? […]

    Link

  15. says

    From Max Boot, writing for The Washington Post: “Trump saved the worst for last.”

    […] If posterity needs any reminder of how awful he [Trump] has been, all it will have to do is look at his final days in office. Trump has saved the worst for last — and there is still a month to go before he is evicted from the White House.

    Trump’s singular focus since the election has been on overturning the results even at the cost of destroying U.S. democracy. For more than six weeks, Trump has been spewing conspiracy theories about nonexistent election fraud — claims that have been rejected in 59 court cases and counting, including by Trump-appointed judges.

    On Friday, as the New York Times first reported, Trump met at the White House with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a pardoned felon, and attorney Sidney Powell, who was fired from the Trump legal team after promoting conspiracy theories about the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez too wacky even for Trump. Trump reportedly discussed with the duo Flynn’s idea of declaring martial law and having the military “rerun” the election — or, failing that, appointing Powell as a special counsel to probe (nonexistent) election fraud.

    These dangerous ideas may not be implemented, but simply the fact that they are being discussed marks a new low. […]

    While Trump is focused like a laser on his election grievances, he has all but checked out of the fight against a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 316,000 Americans and that is projected to kill more than 560,000 by April. This past March, after repeatedly claiming that the coronavirus would miraculously go away on its own, Trump said that if it killed fewer than 200,000 people, that would mean his administration has “done a very good job.” So he has failed by his own metric.

    […] The only time Trump even mentions the pandemic anymore is to brag about the vaccine rollout, yet he has ignored pleas from his aides to tout the safety of the vaccine, push for a national testing plan or promote universal mask-wearing. The latter step alone could save more than 50,000 lives by April 2021, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

    The pandemic isn’t the only threat to America that Trump is ignoring. U.S. government and corporate computer systems have been massively infiltrated, apparently by Russian hackers. “The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate,” warns Trump’s former homeland security adviser Thomas P. Bossert. “The Russians have had access to a considerable number of important and sensitive networks for six to nine months.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attributed the assault to Russia. But Trump took to Twitter, contradicting Pompeo, playing down the severity of the attack and claiming that “it may be China (it may!).”

    Thus the Trump presidency ends as it began — with Trump denying the reality of Russian cyberattacks and serving as an apologist for the dictator in the Kremlin. Gregory F. Treverton, the former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told The Post that Trump “behaves so much like a paid Russian agent. If you look at the string of his actions and pronouncement, the only consistent interpretation that you can logically draw is that he’s in their thrall.”

    Treverton joins a long line of intelligence and law enforcements veterans — including former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats and former CIA director Michael Hayden — who have concluded that Trump must have been compromised by the Kremlin. Such allegations haven’t been proved, but so much that Trump does lends credence to them.

    There are many other Trump transgressions since the election. He has purged the senior leadership of the Pentagon and installed conspiracy-mongering loyalists in their place. He has fired a senior cybersecurity official, Christopher Krebs, for attesting that the election was free of fraud. He unloaded on Attorney General William P. Barr for not doing more to politicize his department, leading to Barr’s departure. He has pulled U.S. troops out of Somalia just as a new al-Shabab plot to attack the United States was uncovered. He has held holiday parties that undoubtedly spread covid-19. And there is certainly worse to come — including a pardon-palooza that would put Trump cronies and family members beyond the reach of the law.

    If future generations are tempted to romanticize the Trump presidency, all they will have to do is look at his final days to see why historians are likely to regard him as the worst president in U.S. history.

    Washington Post link

  16. blf says

    Lynna@20 quotes some wingnut as claiming “Trump can bring in the inventor of the QR Code, IT expert Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, to conduct his scan on completed ballots.”

    I have no idea who “Jovan Hutton Pulitzer” is. The QR Code was invented “in 1994 by Masahiro Hara from the Japanese company Denso Wave” (Ye Pffft! of All Knowlegde). There was an interview with him recently in the Grauniad, ‘I’m pleased it is being used for people’s safety’: QR code inventor relishes its role in tackling Covid.

  17. says

    “If Biden and Harris are serious about recovery, they have to bail out American women.”

    Washington Post link

    […] a phenomenon that sociologist Jessica Calarco recently observed: “Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women.”

    The U.S. economy cannot fully recover without bailing out women. One in five American women have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, and women have recovered only about 39 percent of the jobs they lost since the spring — compared to 58 percent for men.

    As Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris said: “Women, especially women of color, are disproportionately bearing the brunt of this pandemic and economic crisis.” So what should a Biden-Harris administration do about it?

    The most critical issue is helping working moms with kids at home. Women are more than twice as likely as men to say they left the workforce owing to virtual schooling and a lack of child care. President-elect Joe Biden has committed to reopening public schools within his first 100 days in office, but that’s an eternity for women struggling to oversee children’s education. Whether by prioritizing vaccines for teachers or securing funding to help adapt school environments for covid-19, Biden and Harris should do everything within their power to get kids in classrooms as soon as possible.

    […] Since April, 60 percent of licensed child-care centers have closed. Getting them reopened would help women in two ways — allowing many to return to the workforce and re-creating many of the jobs women have lost, because some 92 percent of child-care workers are women.

    The House passed two bills this summer that would provide a total of $60 billion to help child-care facilities reopen. While this legislation languishes in the Senate, 82 percent of child-care providers expect to go out of business before next summer. Sixty billion dollars is a pathetic sum compared to what’s been doled out to businesses less essential to the economy, but at least enacting this legislation would be a good start.

    […] Last year, the average annual wage for a child-care worker was $25,510 — just under the federal poverty threshold for a family of four. Child-care jobs simply don’t pay enough […]

    Child-care availability won’t dramatically increase without measures to boost worker wages. Biden’s promise of a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage will help. But federal and state subsidies are still needed so that child-care centers can pay enough to expand the supply of care to meet the country’s critical demand. It would be a smart investment: By one estimate, the United States is forgoing $1.6 trillion in gross domestic product by not providing subsidized child care that would allow more women to work.

    […] Employers have been clamoring for federal relief, from industry-specific bailouts to liability protections. The Biden-Harris administration should work with lawmakers to condition aid on the implementation of family-friendly workplace policies. Companies that don’t offer flexible hours, the option of a four-day work week and paid parental leave should not receive taxpayer support.

    The next administration must also put women in charge of the economic recovery. […] having the recovery led by women is the best way to ensure that policymaking focuses on the obstacles women face. Biden’s choices of Janet L. Yellen for treasury secretary and Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers represent a promising start. […]

    Labor secretary is another position that will be key to the recovery. Biden could do worse than departing Iowa representative Abby Finkenauer, who is reportedly on the short list for the job. Women, Finkenauer points out, are overrepresented in the most precarious jobs — those on the front lines against covid-19 or in the highly unstable gig economy. During her time in Congress, Finkenauer focused on measures to help working women — introducing a collective-bargaining bill, highlighting the importance of paid leave and calling attention to the lack of benefits for gig workers.

    […] these problems will not end when the pandemic does. […]

    Lawmakers must begin to recognize that the economy’s success depends not on Wall Street or corporations but on American women. Help for them, for us, cannot come soon enough.

  18. says

    More from the Guardian world liveblog:

    At Gatwick Airport on Sunday evening, flights to destinations across central and eastern Europe were packed with last-minute travellers trying to get home before bans on travel from the UK came into force.

    Flights to Budapest, Sofia, Bucharest and Gdansk were departing shortly before 10 pm and were all busy, with many travellers rushing to the airport to catch the final flights as it became clear during the day that borders were closing.

    Some were attempting to fly on complicated transit routes via eastern Europe, to get to destinations that had already closed borders, such as Belgium or France. Many were denied boarding as the regulations changed by the hour.

  19. says

    From Jennifer Rubin, writing for The Washington Post: “John Kelly is wrong. These were not good people.”

    Link

    Former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly — the man who enthusiastically presided over the separation of children at the border; defended […] Trump’s lies and accommodation toward Russia; and enabled arguably the most destructive president in our history — told the Atlantic: “The vast majority of people who worked in the White House were decent people who were doing the best they could to serve the nation.” He added, “They’ve unfortunately paid quite a price for that in reputation and future employment. They don’t deserve that. They deserve better than that, because they kept the train from careening off the tracks.”

    This is dead wrong. These people are not victims. Their reputations have been besmirched for the best of reasons: They participated in an administration unparalleled in its corruption, meanness, racism and authoritarianism.

    The excuse that things would have been worse without White House aides is weak, at best. Would we have lost even more than the 312,000 Americans who died from covid-19 if not for them? Would we have been even more lax in failing to respond to Russia’s interference in our election, its bounties on U.S. troops or its hacking of our government?

    Self-congratulatory aides did not stop the child-separation policy. Nor did they prevent Trump from trying to delegitimize the election. Or from lying about hush money to pay off an adult-film actress. Or from failing to warn the public early on that covid-19 was far worse than the flu. Or from refusing to wear a mask. Or from encouraging Chinese President Xi Jinping in his efforts to place millions of Uighurs in concentration camps. Or from spewing more than 20,000 lies. Or from extorting Ukraine to manufacture dirt on a political rival. Or from defaming our intelligence community. Or from using tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House. I could go on, but you get the point: Their hands are dirty because they enabled a dishonest president and allowed him to continue his reign of chaos, death and authoritarianism.

    The number of senior officials who quit on principle is close to zero. The number of former Cabinet officials who came forward during the impeachment to give testimony is zero. In many cases, aides personally broke norms and laws. How many Hatch Act violations did they commit? How many officials pushed through a national security clearance for Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, when he objectively would not qualify for one in a normal administration? How many took to social media to deceive their fellow Americans?

    There were a handful of officials who behaved commendably and arguably did prevent greater harm. Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, did his best to shoot down disinformation about the election and call out efforts to discredit the results. He was fired as a result, a badge of honor in my book. Likewise, we saw honorable public servants such as Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman and Marie Yovanovitch step forward to provide testimony about Trump’s impeachable conduct at the expense of their jobs. Christopher Wray performed heroically as director of the FBI. Beyond that, however, it is hard to think of someone in this administration who did more good than harm.

    The notion that a lowly aide is exempt from condemnation because he or she “just” typed memos or “just” made travel arrangements or “just” set up meetings is misguided. When a regime routinely sets out to undermine our democracy, neglect its obligations to defend the Constitution and lie, it must rely on all the middle- and low-level aides to do all the tasks that produce its horrible results. Trump could do what he did because of the John Kellys, the Kayleigh McEnanys, the Kellyanne Conways and many other aides whose names are not familiar to us.

    That these people are suffering damage to their credibility and condemnation from their fellow Americans is a positive sign our body politic still retains an appreciation for democracy and a moral compass.

  20. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Saudi Arabia suspends international flights

    Like many countries this evening, Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended all international flights for citizens and passengers over fears about the new fast-spreading variant of coronavirus.

  21. lumipuna says

    An amusing and sad take on the US election aftermath (link in Finnish):

    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11701178

    Through this election year, Finnish national broadcaster has interviewed selected people in Monroe County, Michigan. The county was initially chosen for focus because it has repeatedly swung to whoever won the presidential race. However, the story notes that this time Trump won Monroe by over 20 points.

    The story begins by noting that Trump fan Michelle Burns’ yard Christmas decoration is quite extravagant even by US standards. (There are several photos of the yard. One of the captions reads “Inflatable Trump is not universally appreciated in the neighborhood”)

    The title of the story refers to Burns as a “hardline Republican” who not only believes in “election fraud”, but also believes that Trump will somehow eventually prevail – or there will be a civil war. She’s attended a “stop the steal” demonstration in Lansing. She’s still keeping her Trump campaign signs out, together with the Christmas decorations, despite them drawing so much negative attention that she feels her entire family is now threatened. There’s been some expressions of anger from strangers, one incident of minor vandalism, and more recently some social media threats.

    Part of the negative attention is because the family has six adopted black children, while both parents are white. Some people see this as a red flag for something sinister.

    (There’s a note on how, according to polls, most Republican voters and some independents refuse to accept the election result, and how many of them have increasingly retreated into the Trumpian propaganda bubble) Recently, Burns has given up on Fox News, favoring OANN and Newsmax, while condemning Bill Barr and the Supreme Court judges as part of the deep state swamp.

    Meanwhile, Andrew Edelbrock is a libertarian who voted for Trump, but accepts the election result. He also plans to get eventually vaccinated against Covid-19, despite being recently naturally immunized by the disease. He still hopes republicans can hang on to a Senate majority, to fend off Biden’s tax increases, gun regulations and health care meddling.

    Michelle Burns is strongly against Covid-19 vaccination, and somewhat against vaccines generally. Her children have school-mandated vaccinations, but she threatens to start homeschooling if the Covid-19 vaccine is ever mandated.

    At the end, there’s a note on how Republican politicians are stuck between the demands of legal reality vs. misinformation-addled voter base, not the least when it comes to acknowledging Biden’s impending presidency.

  22. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Top U.S. congressional leaders have announced an agreement on the COVID-19 relief package.

    The $900 billion relief package will provide new financial aid to the economy that has struggled by the coronavirus pandemic.

    This would be the second-largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history following the $2.7 trillion aid bill that was passed in March.

    The new aid package would give $600 direct payments to individuals, aim to boost unemployment by $300 a week, and give hundreds of billions of dollars in additional aid to small businesses, reports Reuters.

  23. johnson catman says

    re SC @29: The most important reply to the tweet is that the security clearance of The Orange Toddler-Tyrant MUST BE REVOKED!

  24. blf says

    South Korea returns a San Diegan’s 40-year-old favor with a COVID-19 ‘survival box’:

    Forty years ago, Paul Courtright went to South Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer, helping a developing country find its footing after decades of foreign occupation, poverty, disease and war.

    Last month, with the United States reeling under a surge in coronavirus cases, South Korea returned the favor. It sent “COVID-19 survival boxes” to Peace Corps alumni in the US.

    When his box arrived at the San Diego home he shares with his wife, Courtright found 100 masks, antimicrobial gloves, a folding fan, instant coffee, candy and silver chopsticks decorated with turtles (a symbol in Asian culture of good fortune and long life).

    “The irony of having South Korea send us COVID-19 supplies and gifts is not lost on any of us,” Courtright said.

    […]

    The survival kit came with a letter, too, from the president of the Korea Foundation, the diplomacy arm of the government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    “Thanks in no small part to the help received from the Peace Corps,” the letter said, “Korea has since achieved an economic breakthrough.”

    [… his work with leprosy & blind poor rural villagers in S.Korea…]

    When his two-year Peace Corps assignment was over, Courtright returned to the United States and got a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate from UC Berkeley in public health. Then he set about trying to prevent blindness, mostly in Africa, where he and his wife, Dr Susan Lewallen, founded the Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology.

    “Korea taught me many things, and it gave me my career,” Courtright said. “I always felt it had given me far more than I had given it.”

    That, he said, made the “survival box” all the more touching.

    Courtright was so moved he emailed a thank-you letter to Geun Lee, president of the foundation that sent the box. “You should be proud of the beautiful, enchanting, fascinating, and welcoming country you call home,” he wrote.

    Lee quickly emailed him back.

    “Though decades have passed, the country where you spent years of your cherished youth has not and will not forget that affection,” he wrote. “We return it and will continue to pass it down from generation to generation.”

  25. blf says

    Follow-up to @22, “I have no idea who ‘Jovan Hutton Pulitzer’ is.” The meme this character invented the QR Code (which he most empathically did not!) seems to be all over the loonysphere. Why isn’t entirely clear, but possibly has to do with his first(?) appearance (under a different name, J Jovan Philyaw), who, in c.2000, invented a home bar code scanner called “CueCat” and convinced a number of campanies to invest in it (apparently multiple millions of dollars). The bar codes it scanned are not the ones we all know, but a unique design intended to avoid patent conflicts (and nothing like QR codes!). The patent-dodging maneuver is a clew to this guy… CueCat was a total failure (it seems to have been a USAian-only thing, I’ve never heard of it before).

    Since then he’s not only changed his name, but has sold bottled rainwater and “magic” crystals, claimed to be an archeologist searching for the Ark of the Convent whilst conveniently discovering obviously-planted artifacts; and so on, including claims to be a filmmaker, the Ark of the Convent itself, and sane. He himself seems to be claiming he can magically identify “fraudulent” ballets in seconds.

    Clearly a candidate for hair furor’s “alls teh besteringest peoples”.

  26. blf says

    Found via Dr Jen Gunter, Ivanka Trump, Famed Public Health Expert, Screened CDC Guidance to Make Sure It Was Nice to Her Dad (Vanity Fair edits in {curly braces}):

    [… T]hen there were the times the CDC’s scientists were screened by a former purveyor of shoes and purses, Ivanka Trump, in addition to the White House’s undersecretary for lies, Kellyanne Conway:

    Often, [former chief of staff at the CDC Kyle] McGowan and [his deputy Amanda] Campbell mediated between {CDC director} Dr {Robert} Redfield and agency scientists when the White House’s guidance requests and dictates would arrive: edits from {White House budget director Russell} Vought and Kellyanne Conway, the former White House adviser, on choirs and communion in faith communities, or suggestions from Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and aide, on schools. “Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won,” Mr McGowan said.

    Part of Campbell’s job was to help get approval for the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report — a closely watched and previously apolitical guide on infectious diseases. However, political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly requested that the CDC “revise, delay, and even scuttle drafts” they thought might be viewed as somehow critical of Donald Trump. “It wasn’t until something was in the MMWR that was in contradiction to what message the White House and HHS were trying to put forward that they became scrutinized,” Campbell said. While Tom Frieden, CDC director under Barack Obama, told the Times it is typical and “legitimate” to have other agencies weigh in, “What’s not legitimate is to overrule science.” Which apparently was and is the Trump administration’s entire MO:

    Episodes of meddling sometimes turned absurd, they said. In the spring, the CDC published an app that allowed Americans to screen themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. But the Trump administration decided to develop a similar tool with Apple. White House officials then demanded that the CDC wipe its app off its website, Mr McGowan said. Ms Campbell said that at the pandemic’s outset, she was confident the agency had the best scientists in the world at its disposal, “just like we had in the past.”

    “What was so different, though, was the political involvement, not only from HHS but then the White House, ultimately, that in so many ways hampered what our scientists were able to do,” she said.

    Mr McGowan said he was especially unnerved last winter when officials in Washington told the CDC that regular telephone briefings with another senior scientist, Dr Nancy Messonnier, were no longer needed because Mr. Trump had his own daily briefings. Dr Messonnier angered the White House in late February when she issued a public warning that the virus was about to change Americans’ lives. “There’s not a single thing that she said that didn’t come true,” Mr McGowan said. “Is it more important to have her telling the world and the American public what to be prepared for, or is it just to say, ‘All is well?’”

    […]

    “It’s demoralizing to spend your entire career preparing for this moment, preparing for a pandemic like this. And then not be able to fully do your job,” McGowan told the Times. “They need to be allowed to lead…. Damage has been done to the CDC that will take years to undo.”

  27. says

    Related links:

    New episode of Slate’s Trumpcast – “Rep. Adam Schiff on the Culture of Cheating”:

    Virginia Heffernan welcomes back Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to talk about how Trump champions cheating and has a sour response to empathy, and why Schiff’s colleagues are so afraid to speak out against Trump’s misdeeds and behavior.

    “EXCLUSIVE: Leah Remini on Tom Cruise’s Covid rant in its [S********y] context”:

    …As a producer and the lead of a film, Tom addressing his crew in this manner is a clear indication that he is used to abusing his power. He thinks this is normal behavior and, to be clear, this is “normal” behavior coming from a [S********t]. In fact, this is tame coming from a [S********t]. Abuse is not only taught in [S********y], but also commended. Hearing Tom abuse his crew while others are praising him for showing that he cares is a farce.

    No one needs to be “addressed” by Tom about safety codes. There are producers who could have and should have handled the situation privately and professionally. What more likely happened was, two crew members who were in the same zone were talking to each other and Tom saw this as an opportunity to appear as the epitome of strength; of a leader who is taking this pandemic very seriously. This behavior is not normal or appropriate. No one can respond to his outburst without being fired. And again, this is not a pandemic that Tom and [S********y] believe in.

    In addition, [S********ts] are so manipulative and abusive that they believe that this “tone” is the “winning tone” of the country right now and therefore can only help Tom’s reputation to have this leaked.

    Imagine if this were a woman. She would be called a lunatic….

  28. says

    Mississippi Free Press – “‘Like He Was Disappeared’: UM Faculty Fear Retaliation After Ombudsman Put on Leave”:

    The University of Mississippi has placed its ombudsman, Paul J. Caffera, on administrative leave and is seeking a temporary replacement after he sued to stop the university from compelling him to share confidential information about faculty, staff and graduate students who have privately confided to his office about issues on campus.

    University officials hoped Caffera would help the UM Equal Opportunity & Regulatory Compliance office, which oversees Title IX enforcement issues, in its efforts to identify whistleblowers who exposed issues of racism and sexism in the school’s relationships with wealthy donors.

    “The University asked Mr. Caffera to divulge confidential information, and threatened (him) with adverse employment action for failure to do so,” his attorney, Goodloe Lewis, said in a statement to the Mississippi Free Press late Tuesday evening. “Notably, the EO/RC investigation advised Mr. Caffera that it may refer matters to the University Police Department for criminal prosecution.”

    The 2015 University of Mississippi Office of Ombuds charter bars the officeholder from revealing details about visitors to his office or participating in formal investigations. Lewis pointed to another section of the charter, which says “the Ombudsperson shall be protected from retaliation as a result of his/her role.”

    “Nonetheless, he was placed on administrative leave after filing a lawsuit seeking to protect the confidentiality of persons using his office,” Lewis said yesterday.

    Faculty members, staff and graduate students who have often relied on Caffera’s office as a place to safely raise issues on campus became worried in recent weeks that the administration could be laying the groundwork to fire the current ombudsman or eliminate his office completely.

    Since Monday, more than 80 university employees and graduate students signed a letter supporting Ombudsman Paul Caffera and defending the importance of his office.

    Caffera’s potential ouster comes amid a series of investigations of UM faculty members and whistleblowers who have spoken up about issues of race, sex and other issues on campus.

    Yesterday, the Mississippi Free Press’ Christian Middleton broke the story that the university has terminated Garrett Felber, a tenure-track assistant professor of history who has earned national recognition for his work on racism and the carceral state.

    Felber also criticized the university’s relationship with powerful, racist donors in October, writing that “the real issue is that (UM) prioritizes racist donors over all else” because “this antiracist program threatens racist donor money.”

    He was referring to a $42,000 grant he had successfully applied for on behalf of his department that would have funded “Study and Struggle,” an education project focused on mass incarceration and immigrant detention.

    His department rejected the grant, though, and Felber said that Noell Wilson, the history chair, said it would have harmed the department’s ability to procure funding from donors. When the Mississippi Free Press contacted her in October about the grant, she declined to comment, referring questions to the UM communications department.

    Kiese Laymon, a Black University of Mississippi English professor from Jackson who is known nationally for books like “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” and “Heavy,” unloaded on Twitter last night after learning about Felber’s firing.

    “Garrett Felber was fired because he lowered himself to work for a sorry-ass Neo-confederate institution that hates when folks call it a sorry-ass Neo-confederate institution. Incredible colleagues and wonderful students do not a quality institution make,” wrote Laymon, who has repeatedly spoken up about systemic racism on campus. “At least 6 progressive faculty and admin left in the last 2 years. I will be the 7th.”

    “We can’t reward sorry ass institutions with our presence when they hide behind our presence when destroying faculty who love our people. The worst of white folks. Now fire me, coward. I dare you.”

    “Garrett Felber,” the Black english professor wrote, “is exactly what we long for in colleagues.”

    “His work was rooted in making life less terrifying for some of the most vulnerable people in my state. We ain’t fighting for a Neo-confederate slice of hell,” Laymon wrote of Felber. “They can have it. Wherever Garrett teaches next is lucky.”

    Other faculty members on campus have also interpreted Felber’s firing as an act of retaliation—and fear they could meet the same fate if they speak up about issues on campus.

    “The Ombuds Office should be a rock. It should be a safe haven. It should be a neutral zone,” one faculty member, who spoke anonymously to protect themself against professional retribution, told this publication on Dec. 2. “And if Paul Caffera is at risk of losing his job, then Lord help us all. Because if he can’t talk and speak up about injustice on the campus, then who can? Nobody is safe.”

    EORC officials first contacted Caffera in October, trying to convince him to turn over communications that they hoped would help unmask the whistleblowers who played a pivotal role in this publication’s “UM Emails” series. The initial three-part exposé, published in August, revealed a tangled web in which UM officials catered to certain wealthy donors’ often sexist and racist predispositions in order to procure money for the school….

    Much more at the link.

  29. says

    Here’s a link to the December 21 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    US health official says ‘everything on table’ about possible UK travel ban

    The US assistant health secretary, Brett Giroir, on Monday said it was possible the US would ban travel from the UK as a new variant of the deadly coronavirus spreads in the country, but added nothing had been decided yet.

    “I think everything is possible. We just need to put everything on the table, have an open scientific discussion and make the best recommendation,” he said in an interview on CNN, adding the White House coronavirus taskforce would meet later on Monday.

    Europe’s medicines regulator approved the use of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

    The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, Reuters reports.

    The approval puts Europe on course to start inoculations within a week.

    EU countries including Germany, France, Austria and Italy have said they plan to start vaccinations from 27 December.

    Having gained the green light from the EMA, the final step is approval by the European commission, which is expected in the coming days. The commission typically follows the EMA’s advice.

  30. says

    Guardian oped – “Biden’s pick for agriculture secretary raises serious red flags”:

    It’s unlikely that Joe Biden expected that, of all his cabinet nominees, his choice for US agriculture secretary would cause the most blowback. Yet that is exactly what happened.

    The former secretary Tom Vilsack, fresh off the revolving door, is a kind of all-in-one package of what frustrates so many about the Democratic party. His previous tenure leading the department was littered with failures, ranging from distorting data about Black farmers and discrimination to bowing to corporate conglomerates.

    Vilsack’s nomination has been roundly rejected by some of the exact people who helped Biden defeat Trump: organizations representing Black people, progressive rural organizations, family farmers and environmentalists. If the Biden team was looking for ways to unite the multi-racial working class, they have done so – in full-throated opposition to this pick….

    It’s also astonishing that Biden’s team, which overall is putting together a solid group of people in positions related to the environment and global warming, didn’t recognize that choosing a lobbyist for corporate animal ag, a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (and pollution in general), would interfere or conflict with those urgent efforts.

  31. says

    Congress approves ban on many ‘surprise’ medical bills

    After a 20-month legislative slog, Congress is poised to pass a good-but-not-great compromise on “surprise” medical bills.

    […] The Democratic-led House held its first-ever hearing on the issue in April 2019, and a month later, federal legislation was unveiled for the first time.

    […] Americans often go to emergency rooms in a crisis and assume their visit will be covered by insurance. But as part of their emergency care, patients are often treated by out-of-network medical professionals, who don’t have contracts with the relevant insurer, which means consumers end up receiving “surprise” invoices, which can be quite expensive.

    Imagine, for example, a patient who receives emergency treatment from a surgeon who’s part of her network, but an anesthesiologist who isn’t. The latter would generate an unexpected and costly bill.

    The phenomenon affected so many people — by some assessments, one-in-five emergency-room visits generated “surprise” medical bills — that lawmakers negotiated a legislative fix. The New York Times reported overnight that the solution was included in the big economic package slated to pass Congress today.

    Instead of charging patients, health providers will now have to work with insurers to settle on a fair price. The new changes will take effect in 2022, and will apply to doctors, hospitals and air ambulances, though not ground ambulances…. The final compromise would require insurers and medical providers who cannot agree on a payment rate to use an outside arbiter to decide. The arbiter would determine a fair amount based, in part, on what other doctors and hospitals are typically paid for similar services. Patients could be charged the kind of cost sharing they would pay for in-network services, but nothing more.

    The exclusion of ground ambulances is important and serves as a reminder that this new solution, while welcome, addressed only part of the problem. Indeed, ambulatory care happens to be a significant part of the “surprise”-bill debate.

    That said, it’s a step in the right direction that will help a lot of people. It’s also a reminder of just how brutally difficult health care policymaking can be: Americans tend to hate these bills, giving lawmakers a strong incentive to help improve the system, but reforms faced major pushback from medical providers and private-equity firms that make a lot of money from these “surprise” invoices.

    The result was a 20-month legislative slog that produced a good-but-not-great compromise. Anyone who thinks even more ambitious health care reforms can be done easily should think again. […]

  32. says

    On ‘three-martini-lunch’ policy, Republicans get what they wanted

    Republicans can try to be “the party of the working class” or it can champion the “three-martini-lunch deduction.” But to do both is ridiculous.

    A few weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he was sticking to a paltry economic relief package, which did little for millions of struggling families, but which included a striking GOP priority: the “three-martini-lunch deduction.”

    Whatever happened to that? I’m glad you asked. The Washington Post reported overnight:

    The draft language of the emergency coronavirus relief package includes a tax break for corporate meal expenses pushed by the White House and strongly denounced by some congressional Democrats […]

    [Trump got the] ball rolling on this in April and May, pushing lawmakers via tweet to approve “business deductions” for “restaurants & entertainment.”

    At face value, the idea may not seem outlandish. After all, the restaurant industry has been brutally slammed by the pandemic, and it’s hardly unreasonable for policymakers to look for ways to give the industry a boost.

    But the details matter. At issue here is a tax break to those who talk business while eating out. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Robert Greenstein noted a while back, the “three-martini-lunch deduction” is generally celebrated by wealthy executives and lobbyists.

    Jon Chait added, “It is certainly true that restaurants face an existential threat from the coronavirus. But letting executives write off the cost of meals where they ‘discuss business’ — a notoriously lax requirement that functionally subsidies pleasure as a business cost — is unlikely to save those restaurants.”

    So why in the world would Democratic negotiators agree to include this policy in the final economic relief package? Because GOP lawmakers made it worth their while: the Post’s report added that Democratic leaders “agreed to the provision in exchange for Republicans agreeing to expand tax credits for low-income families and the working poor” in the bipartisan agreement.

    And therein lies the rub: the “three-martini-lunch deduction” is amazing in its own right, but more important is what the fight over the policy tells us about the major political parties in 2020.

    GOP leaders occasionally try to make the case that the Republican Party is the party of regular folks, pushing populism over elitism. […]

    The trouble, of course, is that reality keeps getting in the way. Regular folks in the working class don’t generally feel the need to deduct the cost of business lunches. They do, however, benefit from tax credits for low-income families and the working poor. […]

  33. tomh says

    Barr refutes Trump on Hunter Biden, voting machines, Russia hack
    Zachary Basu

    Attorney General Bill Barr told reporters Monday that he sees no reason to name a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, there is no basis for the federal government to seize voting machines, and that he agrees with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s assessment that Russia was behind the massive recent hack of federal agencies.

    Barr has rarely contradicted President Trump so openly, but did so three times in his last press conference as attorney general.

  34. says

    “‘If it Hadn’t Been for the Prompt Work of the Medics’: FSB Officer Inadvertently Confesses Murder Plot to Navalny”:

    …Bellingcat can now disclose that it and its investigative partners are in possession of a recorded conversation in which a member of the suspected FSB poison squad describes how his unit carried out, and attempted to clean up evidence of, the poisoning of Alexey Navalny. The inadvertent confession was made during a phone call with a person who the officer believed was a high-ranking security official. In fact, the FSB officer did not recognize the voice of the person to whom he was reporting details of the failed mission: Alexey Navalny himself.

    This 49-minute call between Navalny and Konstantin Kudryavtsev, one of the FSB officers who traveled to Omsk in the aftermath of the Navalny poisoning, provides a detailed first-person account that describes how the FSB organized the attempted assassination in Tomsk as well as the subsequent clean-up operation. The unintended confession adds significant new details to our understanding of the operation, including the exact manner in which, according to the FSB officer, the Novichok was administered. It also sheds light on Russia’s secret service’s efforts to destroy the evidence in the wake of what Kudryavtsev divulges was its failure to kill the opposition activist. Shockingly, the member of the suspected poison squad blames the fast response time of the pilot and emergency medical services for the failure of FSB’s assassination plot.

    While Bellingcat representatives witnessed the phone call in real time several hours before the publication of our investigation, its content was so explosive that we decided, before disclosing the existence and contents of the call, to validate key details described by the FSB officer against objective data. We have since been able to confirm key allegations confirming the overall plausibility of the confession.

    Navalny’s call to Kudryavtsev under the guise of a fictitious high-ranking aide also raised ethical questions about this method of obtaining data. However, following an internal debate we concluded that this action clearly falls within the realm of the overriding public interest in light of the extraordinary circumstances. Navalny was not working on behalf of any police or security service, nor was he conducting a traditional journalistic investigation — rather, he was in the unique position of investigating his own assassination attempt at a time when no law enforcement agency is willing to do so. To our knowledge, it is without precedent that a target of a political assassination is able to chat for nearly an hour with one of the men on the team that tried to kill him and later cover up the evidence. Our supplemental research into the revelations of this call — detailed further in this article — shows that the information provided by Kudryavtsev is credible, and has led to new investigative leads we had not previously discovered.

    At the end of this report we will present the original, unedited audio and transcript of the 49-minute call, recorded by a Bellingcat representative….

    Much, much more atl.

  35. says

    Why jokes about the Space Force have soared to new heights

    Trump has conceded that Space Force started as an offhand joke, which is fitting since an awful lot of people are laughing at it now.

    […] [Trump] said in March 2018, in reference to a conversation he claims to have had with White House staff, “You know, I was saying it the other day, because we are doing a tremendous amount of work in space. I said, ‘Maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it Space Force.” And I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.'”

    In the months that followed, administration officials felt compelled to act on Trump’s not-really-serious idea, launching a major policy initiative intended to turn the Republican’s joke into a branch of the United States military. As of a year ago, oddly enough, the U.S. Space Force is now one of eight uniformed services of the nation’s military.

    […] the outgoing president’s offhand joke has turned into something an awful lot of people are laughing at it.

    Earlier this year, for example, the United States Space Force unveiled its utility uniforms, which were notable in large part because they were camouflage. George Takei noted at the time that it was “unclear” why “there’s a need for camouflage … in space.”

    On a related note, it was just a week later when the Space Force unveiled its official logo, which looked eerily similar to the logo from the Star Trek franchise.

    Nearly a year later, it’s probably fair to say the mockery has reached a new level. As the New York Times reported over the weekend:

    The United States Space Force, the newest branch of the American military, created to protect the country’s galactic interests, has given its members an official name: Guardians. The new name came after a yearlong selection process drawing on hundreds of submissions from the general public and research from space professionals.

    It was, of course, inevitable that Space Force members would get a name. Those who serve in the U.S. Navy, for example, are known as sailors. Those who serve in the U.S. Air Force are known as airmen. Space Force servicemembers would obviously need something comparable.

    […] the official new name doesn’t appear to be helping the branch gain credibility. (The role of “Guardians” in The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t help, either.)

    Making matters just a little worse, when the Department of Defense unveiled the new name, it did so alongside a creed of sorts for the Space Force: “Heritage – Mission – Culture.” It wasn’t at all clear what “heritage” and “culture” have to do with the new branch or its work.

    The same announcement included the text, “A Name Chosen By Space Professionals, For Space Professionals,” above an image that could seen in one of two ways: either something was being launched from Earth into space, or something was crashing into Earth from space.

    Given the context, the ambiguity wasn’t helpful.

    As for the inevitable question — Will the incoming administration put an end to this unnecessary exercise that Trump admits started as an offhand joke? — the Associated Press reported late last week, “President-elect Joe Biden has yet to reveal his plans for the Space Force in the next administration.”

  36. says

    Racism, as documented by a Kansas City newspaper whose reporters examined the paper’s own history:

    […] “The truth in Black and white: An apology from The Kansas City Star,” Mike Fannin wrote that the newspaper that has been “one of the most influential forces” shaping the Kansas City region for 140 years “disenfranchised, ignored and scorned generations of Black Kansas Citians.”

    “It reinforced Jim Crow laws and redlining,” Fannin wrote. “Decade after early decade it robbed an entire community of opportunity, dignity, justice and recognition.”

    Taking the advice of education reporter Mará Rose Williams, the newspaper editor revealed that what started as “an honest examination” of its history evolved into a six-part project poring over “thousands of pages of digitized and microfilmed stories” dating back to the newspaper’s founding in 1880 and interviewing Missourians who had lived through some of the city’s historic events. Staff members compared coverage from The Star with that of Black publications including The Kansas City Call and The Kansas City Sun.

    “Reporters were frequently sickened by what they found — decades of coverage that depicted Black Kansas Citians as criminals living in a crime-laden world,” Fannin wrote. “They felt shame at what was missing: the achievements, aspirations and milestones of an entire population routinely overlooked, as if Black people were invisible.” The editor said the positive tradition of receiving the city newspaper with enthusiasm wasn’t accessible to Black families. “Their children grew up with little hope of ever being mentioned in the city’s largest and most influential newspapers, unless they got in trouble,” Fannin wrote. […]

    Then, in heartbreaking detail, he gave an account of the newspaper’s oversight of legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, who was from Kansas City. He “didn’t get a significant headline in The Star until he died,” Fannin wrote, “and even then, his name was misspelled and his age was wrong.”

    “But white businessman J.C. Nichols got plenty of ink,” Fannin added. “His advertisements promoting segregated communities ran prominently in The Star and (its sister paper The Kansas City Times.)” And during the nationwide fight for civil rights in Black communities, Roy Roberts, editor at the time, reportedly said: “We don’t need stories about these people.”

    Fannin apologized for the newspaper’s history, but more importantly he described projects it had already started to forge ahead on that follow a more inclusive path. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  37. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Trump Threatens SCOTUS with “Disruption” If They Don’t Take His Case

    Trump is once again asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s multiple rulings on the mail-in ballots in the election. Rick Hasen on Election Law blog said that the petition was ridiculous, that John Eastman should be ashamed of himself, and that the petition’s citing to Epoch Times made him “laugh out loud.”

    But then he updated the report, saying that someone had called his attention to the accompanying motion to expedite, which contains some VERY disturbing language:

    Finally, if this matter is not timely resolved, not only Petitioner, but the Nation as а whole may suffer injury from the resulting confusion. Indeed, the intense
    national and worldwide attention on the 2020 Presidential election only foreshadows the disruption that may well follow if the uncertainty and unfairness shrouding this election are allowed to persist. The importance of а prompt resolution of the federal constitutional questions presented by this case cannot be overstated.

    The Supreme Court is not even scheduled to meet again until January 8, two days after Congress counts the electoral votes. Trump sat on this motion until the Court recessed, so his complaints about timeliness are specious to start with (well, so is everything else about this). But now he is threatening the Court by telling them if they don’t do what he wants and do it NOW, who knows what might happen. Nice country you got there, huh, Justices? Be a shame if anything happened to it because you took off for the holidays.

    Trump really does think that because he put three justices on the Court, they owe him for that.

    Maybe this is pure coincidence, but Sidney Powell was spotted leaving the White House this evening, presumably shortly after the motions were filed. (Her name is not on either motion; John Eastman from Anaheim CA is the counsel of record.)

    […] The memo, viewed by CNN, references a letter Dominion sent to Powell last week demanding she publicly retract her accusations and instructs campaign staff not to alter, destroy or discard records that could be relevant.
    As I say, it could be coincidence. But Powell’s client is Michael Flynn, and she and Flynn started that shouting match in the Oval Office about how Trump should declare martial law. Now Trump is warning of disruptions — disruptions that could become a pretext for invoking just that.

    I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories, and this isn’t one. For one thing, every previous call Trump has made hinting at violence has fizzled. But I still want an explanation for what Trump thinks he’s doing by putting the arm on the Supreme Court.

  38. says

    Alexei Navalny says Russian agent admitted to poisoning plot

    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny tricked one of the agents allegedly involved in an operation to poison him into confessing to the plot, investigative site Bellingcat reported Monday.

    Navalny, pretending to be a senior official, phoned a member of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) — which has been accused of trying to murder him in August — and demanded to know why the assassination attempt had failed.

    The operative, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, seemed to believe Navalny’s cover and spoke in detail about the effort to poison the opposition leader, apparently confirming the FSB’s involvement.

    Navalny fell ill during a flight and was rushed to a hospital in Siberia following an emergency landing. He was eventually evacuated to Germany, where toxicology tests showed that he was poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok.

    “If [the plane] had flown a little longer and they hadn’t landed it abruptly somehow and so on, maybe it all would have gone differently,” Kudryavtsev said during the 49-minute phone call. “If it hadn’t been for the prompt work of the medics, the paramedics on the landing strip, and so on.”

    He also said that the Novichok was put onto Navalny’s underwear in his hotel room: “They told us to work on the inner side of the underpants.”

    Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning. Last week, President Vladimir Putin told reporters that if Russian operatives had been behind the attempted murder, “probably they would have finished it.”

  39. says

    Georgia megachurch pastor tests positive for COVID-19

    A Georgia megachurch pastor has tested positive for the coronavirus, his fellow pastor announced on Sunday.

    Pastor Jentezen Franklin “is doing perfectly fine. He’s doing great,” pastor Javon Ruff said during a live-streamed service at Free Chapel in Gainesville. “He went and got tested, his test came back positive, and so he’s doing the right thing to do to quarantine and continue to be distant.”

    Tracy Page, a spokesperson for the church, told McClatchy News that Franklin was exposed to an “associate of the congregation” Thursday who later tested positive. Page added that the pastor is experiencing mild symptoms and is self-isolating, according to the Macon Telegraph.

    […] The church previously began outdoor services in August and moved them indoors the next month, the newspaper said.

    […] Franklin attended a White House Christmas party with his daughter last week, before he is believed to have come in contact with the infected person. […]

    The church will hold its Christmas Eve candlelight service online. Good idea. A bit late to change course.

  40. says

    The US is on the verge of the biggest anti-money-laundering update in years

    Congress included a provision to ban anonymous shell companies.

    Oh, dear. Jared Kushner is not going to like that.

    If you’re a corrupt foreign official or drug trafficker, there’s a pretty easy way to protect your illicit cash: create an anonymous shell company.

    You form a shell company — meaning a business that exists only on paper, with no employees, no products it makes or sells, no revenue, nothing except maybe a bank account and some assets — but you do it without disclosing your (the owner’s) real name, offering a convenient way to launder your money and evade law enforcement in the United States.

    Except that might now be a lot harder to do in the US. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the $741 billion defense bill, will effectively ban anonymous shell companies.

    If signed into law, when someone opens a shell corporation, they’ll be required to provide the owner’s name and some basic identifying information. This simple step will give law enforcement and national security officials a powerful tool to crack down on corruption.

    The NDAA, including this provision, passed with overwhelming support in Congress. Trump is threatening to veto the defense package, but the bill should have enough support in the House and the Senate to override a presidential veto.

    To help understand more about what this new provision does and why it’s so important, I called up Clark Gascoigne, a senior policy adviser at the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, a nongovernmental organization that advocates against corrupt financial practices by promoting transparency and anti-money laundering policies.

    “This is the biggest anti-money-laundering update that we’ve had in 20 years,” he told me.

    Our conversation, edited for length and clarity, is below.

    See the link for the conversation.

  41. blf says

    Statue of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns replaces Lee at US Capitol:

    […]
    A statue of the civil rights activist Barbara Johns, who played a key role in the desegregation of the public school system, will be installed in the US Capitol, officials said on Monday, replacing one of Robert E Lee […]

    Johns was 16 when she led classmates at her all-black Virginia high school in protest of substandard conditions, leading to a lawsuit that was resolved in the US supreme court’s 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision, which declared segregation illegal. […]

    […]

    Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, said workers removed the statue from the National Statuary Hall Collection early on Monday morning. Northam, a Democrat, requested the removal. A state commission decided Lee was not a fitting symbol of Virginia and recommended a statue of Johns.

    […]

    The presence of statues of generals and other figures of the Confederacy in Capitol locations such as Statuary Hall, the original House chamber, has been offensive to African American lawmakers for many years. Former representative Jesse Jackson Jr, an Illinois Democrat, was known to give tours pointing out the numerous statues.

    But it is up to the states to determine which of their historical figures to display. Jefferson Davis, a former US senator from Mississippi who was president of the Confederacy, is still represented. So is the Confederate vice-president, Alexander Stephens, from Georgia.

    A statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, who enslaved people, represents Tennessee.

  42. says

    INBOX: @realDonaldTrump has signed an executive order prohibiting new federal buildings from being built in anything other than Neoclassical, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Beaux-Arts, or Art Deco styles.”

    PBS Frontline: “When Trump Demolished the Bonwit Teller Building’s Sculptures”: “When Donald Trump wanted to make his mark in New York real estate, he chose the landmark Bonwit Teller building as the site for Trump Tower. He vowed to preserve the building’s two valuable art deco sculptures, but then ordered their demolition when they delayed construction – setting off a media firestorm.” (3-minute video atl.)

  43. blf says

    Some Covid-19 giggles, Flay your fart: viral clip calls on public to alter speech to curb Covid:

    […]
    We’re all familiar with the slew of precautions needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, but what about minding our Ps and Qs? Or, rather, our Ps, Ts and Cs.

    With tongue firmly in cheek, a retired PR consultant and translator from Surrey has produced a viral video suggesting the government is to ban certain sounds and letters of the alphabet because they increase the transmission of Covid-19. Instead of “please take care”, we should say “flease nake lare”, the skit says.

    Nonsense, of course. But funny. Like a Monty Python sketch, said one Twitter user. Haven’t laughed so hard in months, said another.

    Peter Prowse made the video about three weeks ago [… in which he] purports to be a UK government official calmly telling people that consonants can project the virus much greater distances than vowels. Certain consonants, the plosive sounds, are much worse than others.

    […]

    Prowse says that the “puh” sound will be replaced by “fuh”, “tuh” by “nuh” and “cuh” by “luh”. It will be done in tiers … or rather niers.

    “Anyone speaking to other feople in a fublic flace will have to stof using the flosive sound,” he warns. “Failure to do so could lead to a fine or even frison. The whole fofulation, even members of farliament, will all have to flay their fart in this.”

    Losing the “tuh” sound could be particularly challenging, he concedes. “For example neachers in schools … when neaching the nen nimes nable … we are confident that froblems will be nemforary and measures under nier nwo will help nurn the nide of this fandemic.”

    The “cuh” ban would come in nier 3, the video says. “We have lonsidered these measures larefully in line with relommendations from frofessors at Lambridge University.”

    […]

    Monty Pythonesque video at the link.

  44. blf says

    A follow-up to @414(previous page) about hair furor being vaccinated, from the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog:

    […]
    Trump was hospitalised with Covid-19 in October and given an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment that he credited for his swift recovery. A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory board has said people who received that treatment should wait at least 90 days to be vaccinated to avoid any potential interference.
    […]

    Wacko House is, of course, spewing other explanations.

  45. blf says

    Snarks ahoy! The Trump White House has entered its final stage: complete meltdown (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Trump has retreated to the proverbial bunker with an ‘elite strike force’ of wingnuts and lackeys. They’re all he’s got left

    The last days of the Trump presidency increasingly resemble the fictional presidency in the movie Monsters vs Aliens.

    In case you missed this 2009 animated masterpiece, President Hathaway (voiced by Stephen Colbert) responds to an alien invasion with a team of unlikely heroes, among them a giant-sized TV reporter from Modesto, a cockroach-turned-mad-scientist, and an enormous blob of Jell-O.

    One of the running gags is that the president has installed two red buttons in his situation room. One is to make his morning latte, the other to launch all his nuclear weapons. He can never remember which is which.

    In the final month of Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office, he has at last assembled his own team of outsized odds and ends, self-aggrandizing wingnuts, and brainless lumps of gelatin. You can decide for yourself if this latest incarnation of his “elite strike force” of advisers is more likely to launch all the nuclear weapons or make a fresh cup of coffee.

    At the center of the team to save Planet Trump are the unhinged characters of Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, who reportedly met with the soon-to-be-ex-president in the White House over several hours on Friday.

    Both Powell and Flynn have previously been fired by the reality TV star turned president — who, after all, built a public persona around firing people on The Apprentice. But on Planet Trump, firings are not as final as they appear to be, which surely means it’s not too late for the Mooch to extend his 10-day record of service to the nation.

    [… I]t is only a matter of time before Powell disinters the Chavismo corpse once more. Specifically, a couple of days: Barr leaves his office on Wednesday, mysteriously a few weeks before everyone else in the Trump administration.

    Friday’s surreal bull session included Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, who has the distinct honor of having been fired by both Obama and Trump — a rare point of agreement between the yin and yang of the American presidency. Flynn lied to Mike Pence and the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, pleading guilty to the felony as part of the Mueller investigation.

    […]

    One of the ringleaders of this madcap gang is Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock, who left the online retailer last year claiming that he had romanced a Russian agent on behalf of “the Men in Black”. Good luck making sense of that, or Byrne’s latest venture: what he calls “a team of hackers and cybersleuths and other people with odd skills”. For Trump’s favorite news channel, OAN, this constitutes an “elite cybersecurity team”.

    It’s quite possible that “elite” means something else on Planet Trump. It’s also possible there are giant-sized TV reporters in Modesto.

    […]

    “It is 100% winnable. No martial law required,” [Byrne] tweeted. “Sydney {sic} and Flynn presented a course that I estimate has 50%–75% chance of victory. His staff just try to convince him to do nothing but accept it. As a CEO, my heart broke to see what he is going through. He is betrayed from within.”

    It must have been heartbreaking to sit in the bunker [Byrne claims he was at the shouting match –blf], watching reason and the constitution push their way into the conversation, while our brave reality TV star battled against his own disloyal lackeys.

    Sadly the sickness is not confined to the Oval Office and will outlive its current occupant. Back on Earth, there is no chance of Trump successfully ordering the military to intervene in the election, and no chance of Congress overturning the electoral college. But these pesky facts won’t stop the Trumpista movement that is now the Republican party.

    [… various examples of hair furorian looneys frothing, with added snark…]

    Normal presidents treat their final weeks in office like a presidential marshmallow test. While they may want, desperately, to opine about everything the president-elect is doing, they delay their gratification for their memoirs.

    […]

    That’s clearly not the Trump plan. […] There are only more outrageous threats and tweets to cap a brief political career overflowing with outrageous threats and tweets.

    This is the self-defeating, nonsensical house that Trump built.

    “What idiot designed this?” President Hathaway asks his advisers about the twin red buttons in Monsters vs Aliens.

    “You did, sir,” says a general.

    “OK. Then go fire someone,” the president shoots back.

    Soon, there will be nobody left to fire. Or rehire. There will just be a Donald Trump, surrounded by a room full of wackadoodle theories with no staff to pretend to take them seriously.

  46. says

    From today’s Democracy Now! headlines – “25 Protesters Die as Historic Strike Against Deregulation of Agricultural Markets in India Continues”:

    In India, over two dozen people have died since mass protests began last month against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to deregulate agricultural markets. Officials say around half of the deaths have been caused by the harsh winter as tens of thousands of farmers are camping out in the cold on the outskirts of New Delhi.

  47. johnson catman says

    re SC @64: Yeah. The. Best. Is. Yet. To. Come.
    .
    I hope Guilfoyle is unmercilessly abusing Don Jr. for the bad boy he is for fucking her.

  48. says

    Mark Meadows tweeted:

    Several members of Congress just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with President @realDonaldTrump, preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud.

    Stay tuned.

    I agree that they’re fighting against evidence.

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Joy Reid on MSNBC had an extended interview on her Reid Out with vice president elect Kamala Harris. Worth recording the repeat later tonight.

  50. tomh says

    Prosecutors Accuse Pennsylvania Republican of Voting in Dead Mother’s Name for Trump
    ALBERTO LUPERON Dec 21st, 2020

    Prosecutors in Pennsylvania announced that they found voter fraud… A registered Republican cast a ballot for President Donald Trump in the name of his deceased mother, Delaware County authorities say.

    Marple Township resident Bruce Bartman, 70, is charged with two counts of perjury, and a count of unlawful voting.

    Officials claim Bartman registered both his mother Elizabeth Bartman and his mother-in-law Elizabeth Weihman via the state’s online voter registration portal. District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said in a press conference on Monday that the mother had passed away 12 years ago. His office said in a statement that Weihman died in 2019…

  51. KG says

    There seems to be some doubt about whether the new Covid variant found in the UK is actually responsible for the rapid rise in cases in London and the south-east.Cases have been found in other countries, but don’t seem to be spreading in the same way. So the new variant may just have piggy-backed on a rise due to Johnson’s faffing about – constantly over-promising and changing the level of restrictions – and have been seen by him as a convenient scapegoat. Unfortunately, if so, the announcement had the effect of more-or-less cutting the country off from the rest of the world, with deliveries of fresh food from the Continent halted. If it turns out that the new variant is not really any more contagious than average, Johnson may be told by his party that he has to go.

  52. says

    Here’s a link to the December 22 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    Their summary:

    France is expected to announce a limited reopening of its borders to UK traffic, as the British government said it was drawing up plans to test all lorry drivers taking goods across the Channel for Covid. “A solution is being worked on and will be announced during the course of the day,” a French government source said.

    The chief executive of the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech has said he is confident its coronavirus vaccine works against the new UK variant, but that further studies are need to be certain. Uğur Şahin told a press conference that his team had been working on trying to find out whether the vaccine worked on the UK variant or whether it would be necessary to adapt it.

    Boris Johnson and president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke on the phone on Monday in an attempt to reach a last minute Brexit trade deal. EU member states with the largest fishing fleets are being asked by Von der Leyen’s senior team to rethink their “final offer” after Downing Street made a significant move to break the Brexit deadlock.

    After months of Washington gridlock, Congress has passed a $900bn pandemic relief package, finally delivering long-sought cash to businesses and individuals as well as resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths. President Donald Trump is soon expected to sign the package into law.

    Antarctica, once the only continent not to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, has reportedly recorded its first confirmed cases. The 36 new infections are among people stationed at a Chilean research base and include 26 members of the Chilean army and 10 maintenance workers.

    The US government is considering requiring that all passengers traveling from the United Kingdom receive a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure as a condition of entry, airline and US officials briefed on the matter said Monday. Germany has extended its ban on UK travellers until 6 January, while China has closed its visa service in London.

    Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated on Tuesday that there was no need for the country to enter a national state of emergency, even as health groups declared their own state of emergency for the medical system as coronavirus infection rates continue to rise.

  53. says

    NBC – “Feds have discussed making a legal request for Giuliani’s electronic communications, say two sources”:

    Federal prosecutors have discussed making a legal request for Rudy Giuliani’s electronic communications, two sources familiar with the probe tell NBC News, a sign that the investigation into President Donald Trump’s personal attorney remains active and may soon be ramping up.

    Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York have been in communication with Justice Department officials in Washington about gaining access to Giuliani’s emails, the two sources said. The Southern District needs Washington’s approval before its prosecutors can ask a judge to sign a search warrant for materials that may be protected by attorney-client privilege, according to department policy. It is not known whether Washington has been granted that approval.

    The scope of the current investigation is unclear, but in October 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors from the Southern District were reviewing Giuliani’s bank records as part of an investigation into his dealings in Ukraine. Two of his former associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested that month on charges of campaign finance fraud and have since been charged with additional crimes related to wire fraud conspiracy. Parnas and Fruman have pleaded not guilty.

    In February, The Washington Post reported that prosecutors were contacting witnesses and seeking to collect additional documents as part of their investigation into Giuliani.

    Since then, little had been known about the status of the investigation and whether Giuliani was still under scrutiny for his efforts to convince Ukraine to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden over his son Hunter’s business dealings in the country.

    The two sources familiar, however, say the investigation into Giuliani is ongoing, with one saying it is “very active.”

    With the presidential election now over, Justice Department rules that prohibit prosecutors from taking overt actions that may influence an election no longer apply….

  54. says

    If I were a Democratic legislator, I wouldn’t agree to be interviewed by Poppy Harlow at this point. She’s had it in her head for months to blame Democrats for the delayed and insufficient relief bill, and that’s how she’ll approach it and frame it regardless of the facts people present to her.

  55. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    EU recommends travel bans should be lifted

    The European Commission has recommended that bans on travel from the UK should be lifted. In suggests hauliers should have rapid PCR tests, but should not be required to undergo quarantine while carrying out essential work.

    “Flight and train bans should be discontinued given the need to ensure essential travel and avoid supply chain disruptions”, the commission said in a press statement.

    It also recommended a coordinated approach to travel and transport measures across the EU….

  56. blf says

    SC@75, “[Poppy Harlow] had it in her head for months to blame Democrats for the delayed and insufficient relief bill, and that’s how she’ll approach it and frame it regardless of the facts people present to her.”

    Our local perhaps-paid presumed-Russian obvious-troll is already doing that… Somehow, Biden and Harris are responsible for the months of thugs procrastination and indifference, etc., etc., including Harris (allegedly) didn’t vote against a (probably) thug-led effort to increase military spending, etc., etc. It’s the usual; teh thugs (including hair furor and the dalekocrazy) are never directly mentioned, “therefore” everything is the the dummies fault… (rolls eyes at hyper-FTL velocities)

  57. says

    blf @60, that is some fine snark.

    This made me laugh, though it is a direct quote and not snark: “my heart broke to see what he [Trump] is going through. He is betrayed from within.”

    Achey breaky hearts. So sad.

  58. blf says

    Some snippets from Senior Republican says party’s final election challenge will ‘go down like a shot dog’:

    Congress meets to validate the electoral college result, a 306–232 win for Joe Biden, on 6 January. On Monday, Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama led a delegation of about 12 Republicans to the White House, where they discussed how their challenge to that result will proceed.

    “It was a back and forth concerning the planning and strategy for January the 6th,” Brooks told Politico, adding: “More and more congressmen and senators are being persuaded that the election was stolen.”

    There is no evidence that this is the case, and Brooks notably declined to identify any of the supposed doubters. By all the evidence, challenges to the result in the House and the Senate will not have the votes to be sustained.

    Trump continues to make baseless accusations of mass electoral fraud and reportedly to rage against aides he deems insufficiently zealous in his defence. According to the news site Axios, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and chief of staff Mark Meadows are prominent among such hapless targets.

    So is McConnell, whom Trump claims to have saved in his re-election fight this year, the president [sic] sending a slide to Republicans in Congress which purported to show the restorative effect of a presidential tweet and robocall.

    Trump is even reported to have soured on the vice-president, his loyal lieutenant since joining the ticket in 2016. The president [sic] is reported to believe Pence is “backing away” from him — notably, a claim advanced in a recent ad by the Lincoln Project, a group of dissident Republicans.

    “When Mike Pence is running away from you,” the ad says, “you know it’s over.”

    Among representatives reported to have been at the conspiratorial huddle at the White House was Jim Jordan of Ohio, a renowned attack dog so loyal to Trump that he has claimed never to have heard the president [sic] lie. (The Washington Post’s count of Trump’s lies in office stands at 26,000.) Also there was Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, an open supporter of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory preparing to take a seat in Congress.

    The closer the president [sic] gets to removal from office, the more volatile he becomes, and the more wild his invective grows. According to Olivia Nuzzi of New York magazine, since election day White House aides have been “outright avoiding the president out of concern he might end up using any nearby staffer as a human stress ball”.

    Also see @60…

  59. says

    Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and the race to the 2020 bottom

    As Rand Paul attacks mask-wearing, his race against Ron Johnson is neck and neck: which one can do the most damage to their reputation before year’s end?

    The competition has been fierce, and the competitors have spent months running neck and neck. But in the end, either Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) or Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Ky.) will do the most damage to their reputation in 2020.

    To be sure, the Kentucky Republican took the early lead in the race. In early March, as the nation started coming to grips with the coronavirus crisis, Congress approved a modest $8.3 billion emergency bill to respond to the public-health emergency. The bipartisan measure passed the Senate 96 to 1 — and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the lone opponent.

    But like any true competitor, the Wisconsin Republican fought back, making clear that Paul wasn’t the only one who could look foolish. Indeed, later in March, Johnson blasted pandemic mitigation efforts as an “overreaction.”

    Back and forth they went. In May, Rand Paul publicly clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci for no reason while insisting that New York is in New England. The same month, Ron Johnson suggested independent inspectors general should be subservient to Donald Trump.

    Over the summer, after Rand Paul [blocked] a bipartisan anti-lynching bill, Ron Johnson went after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated American war hero. The Kentuckian used his office to question epidemiological expertise, while the Wisconsinite used his office to chase anti-Biden conspiracy theories before Election Day.

    But once the fall arrived, the self-defeating competition to destroy their reputation reached an entirely new level.

    Rand Paul pretended Joe Biden didn’t really win the 2020 presidential win, as Ron Johnson held a Senate hearing to blast “bureaucrats” for not making hydroxychloroquine more available. When Johnson held a separate hearing to undermine public confidence in the election results, Paul went further than most, telling the public that the 2020 election was “in many ways was stolen.”

    Ron Johnson appeared to be inching ahead with a second hearing indulging his anti-science impulses, but Rand Paul fought back, taking a stand against a bill to protect judges from attackers. Johnson tried to take the lead by blocking a bipartisan measure on increased direct aid during the pandemic, but Paul stayed in the fight, denouncing increased voting in Georgia.

    Last night, only six senators rejected a bipartisan compromise on economic relief and government funding, but since Johnson and Paul were both part of the sextet, neither could claim an advantage.

    But shortly before the vote, the Kentucky Republican shared a few thoughts with a CNN reporter about the COVID-19 crisis.

    “It’s this political correctness of submission, submission, submission. Everybody’s got to submit, going to walk around like a drone and wear a mask, and yet there’s no real evidence of this working.”

    In reality, of course, the CDC has pointed to plenty of evidence that masks reduce the spread of the virus. What’s more, mitigation efforts during a pandemic are not “political correctness,” and it’s profoundly foolish — and potentially dangerous — to argue otherwise.

    There are only nine days remaining in the year. The ball’s in your court, Ron Johnson.

  60. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live pandemic blog (quoted in full; please support the Grauniad if you can):

    People who fail to get a vaccine could be banned from using public transport in France, according to a draft law that has sparked angry protests from opposition politicians, AFP reports.

    Prime Minister Jean Castex on Monday got his cabinet’s backing for a bill that is designed to provide a legal framework for dealing with health crises, including the coronavirus pandemic.

    According to the text, which will now be submitted to parliament, a negative Covid test or proof of a “preventative treatment, including the administration of a vaccine”, could be required for people to be granted “access to transport or to some locations, as well as certain activities”.

    According to opinion polls, 55% of French people say they will not get a Covid shot, one of the highest rates in the European Union.

    The government’s vaccination campaign is to start on Sunday.

    President Emmanuel Macron has promised that coronavirus vaccinations, though strongly recommended, will not be mandatory.

    But opposition politicians condemned the draft law, with Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, calling it an essentially totalitarian measure.

    In a backhanded way, this bill does not aim to make vaccinations mandatory, but will prevent anybody who doesn’t comply from having a social life, she said.

    Guillaume Peltier, the deputy leader of the centre-right LR party, said it was inconceivable that the government should be allowed to get all the power to suspend our freedoms without parliamentary control.

    Centrist senator Nathalie Goulet said the draft was an attack on public freedoms, while the far-left deputy Alexis Corbière said we could a least have a collective discussion if the idea is to limit our public liberties.

    Ahem. If one of your “allies” are the le penazis (or local equivalents), reconsider your position.

    The problem (besides France’s exceptionally high rate of vaccine hesitancy) is it’s know mandatory vaccination “doesn’t work”. What does work is to make it difficult to avoid being vaccinated (excepting those with legitimate medical reasons), and a carefully-calibrated restriction of access to public transport might be such an obstacle (never heard of this particular obstacle being tried before). Some calibration is necessary; e.g., my doctor is a bus-ride away (normally, albeit I can walk or bicycle (or, in principle, taxi)) there… others might not have adequate alternatives for whatever reason.

    Amusingly, some vaccinations are mandatory (again, with medical exceptions) for children(? students?) in France. As far as I am aware, there are no mandatory vaccinations for adults in France (excepting visitors from certain regions for certain viruses, I believe).

  61. blf says

    DAMNIT. Poopyhead’s filter has struck again, and again I’ve no fecking clew why ?!

    I cannot post (in full) this entry in the Granuiad’s current live pandemic blog, about a proposal to restrict access to public transport to people who refuse the Covid-19 vaccination.

    (My attempted comments on that entry…) Ahem. If one of your “allies” are the le penazis (or local equivalents), reconsider your position.

    The problem (besides France’s exceptionally high rate of vaccine hesitancy) is it’s known mandatory vaccination “doesn’t work”. What does work is to make it difficult to avoid being vaccinated (excepting those with legitimate medical reasons), and a carefully-calibrated restriction of access to public transport might be such an obstacle (never heard of this particular obstacle being tried before). Some calibration is necessary; e.g., my doctor is a bus-ride away (normally, albeit I can walk or bicycle (or, in principle, taxi)) there… others might not have adequate alternatives for whatever reason.

    Amusingly, some vaccinations are essentially mandatory (again, with medical exceptions) for children(? students?) in France. As far as I am aware, there are no mandatory vaccinations for adults in France (excepting visitors from certain regions for certain viruses, I believe).

  62. says

    McConnell lost on corporate COVID-19 liability, so he found another way to punish workers

    Lest you give Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell credit for having any shred of morality for allowing a COVID-19 relief bill to finally pass after eight months of stonewalling […] don’t bother. Frustrated in his attempt to give businesses blanket immunity from legal liability for endangering their workers, McConnell found another way to get it done.

    The CARES Act passed in March required employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to workers who were infected with the coronavirus. McConnell blocked lawmakers from extending that requirement in this package. Those two weeks of paid leave were required for sick employees, for employees who needed to care for a quarantining relative, and there was an additional 10-week paid leave requirement for workers with children whose schools or day cares closed for pandemic-related reason. It’s gone now […]

    But what did get extended was a tax credit to business, fully subsidizing the cost of paying out sick leave through next March. So businesses, if they feel like it, can extend the leave and be reimbursed. What this means is that people who are sick are going to keep going to work because they have to. They are going to infect their coworkers and their customers, because it’s that or have no income.

    The original provision wasn’t perfect, exempting big businesses with more than 500 employees straight out and allowing small business with fewer than 50 employees to apply for exemptions. And two weeks of paid leave in a pandemic is wildly inadequate, far less than any other advanced nation has done—most of the others mandate paid sick leave all the time.

    Nevertheless, a study by Health Affairs found it worked to slow the spread of COVID-19. It also cost far less than projected, with just $1.3 billion claimed in tax credits compared to the projections that it would cost $105 billion. So doing the right thing by workers was actually helping and businesses weren’t overburdened. There was absolutely no reason for McConnell to do this other than sheer cruelty to working people.

  63. blf says

    Trump loyalists aim to block Biden’s goal to rejoin Iran and Paris agreements:

    Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham urge Trump to submit Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate agreement to Senate to undercut future attempts to revive them

    […]

    In a letter obtained by RealClearPolitics, Cruz, from Texas, urges both Trump and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, to plant the seeds of an eventual showdown over the two critical international agreements in the early days of the Biden administration.

    As Cruz describes it, by submitting the pacts to the Senate, Trump could pave the way for a vote that would fail to achieve the two-thirds needed to ratify them — thus blocking Joe Biden’s efforts to bring the US back in line with international allies.

    […]

    I urge you now to remedy the harm done to the balance of powers by submitting the Iran deal and the Paris agreement to the Senate as treaties, Cruz writes. Only by so doing with the Senate be able to satisfy its constitutional role to provide advice and consent in the event any future administration attempts to revive these dangerous deals.

    […]

    As far as I am aware, rejecting a treaty does not prohibit the States from following it (albeit it does, presumably, hamper legal remedies, etc., should there be violations by either the States or other countries).

  64. says

    From Wonkette: “Look At These COVID-Denying, Republican Assholes Getting Their COVID-19 Vaccines!”

    Republicans have arguably enabled COVID-19’s spread as cravenly as they enabled that criminal enterprise Donald Trump calls a presidency. They openly resisted public health measures that required even the most minor sacrifice or personal inconvenience. They made wearing masks another dumb culture war battle, and the dumbest among them picked fights with medical experts. They sat on their hands for months, refusing to pass another relief package, because they literally wanted financially struggling Americans so desperate that they’d willingly go out and serve chicken wings with a side of COVID.

    This all worked out well for them, as evil endeavors go. Their complete lack of leadership while 319,763 Americans died didn’t cost them anything at the ballot box. Republicans even came just a few seats short of reclaiming the House of Representatives. […]

    Now, after months of minimizing COVID-19 as a serious threat, which cost lives and pushed frontline medical workers to the brink, Republicans are lining up for photo ops as they receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Just look at these assholes. [Photos of Lindsey Graham and others at the link.]

    In October, Lindsey Graham refused a COVID-19 test before debate with Jaime Harrison even though he was exposed to virus. Today, he cut to front of line to get vaccine.

    South Carolina’s shame, Lindsey Graham, risked infecting the entire Senate with coronavirus so he could hold quick-service confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett. He defended this reckless choice with blatant lies about how COVID-19 spreads. And even though he’d been exposed to colleagues who’d tested positive, Graham refused to get tested himself before his Senate debate with Jaime Harrison and Barrett’s sham hearings because it was politically inconvenient.

    Graham also grossly suggested that generous unemployment benefits during a pandemic would make nurses — heroes, every last damn one of them — too shiftless to work.

    GRAHAM: If you’re a nurse — aide — making $15 or $16 an hour, you’re on the front lines here. A lot of doctor’s offices are going to have to roll back because elective surgery’s no longer a source of income for a bunch of doctors. So, you’re going to have all these well-trained nurses, they’re going to make $24 an hour on unemployment. You’re literally incentivizing taking people out of the workforce at a time when we need critical infrastructure supply for the workers.

    Then there’s this other asshole, Marco Rubio. He was among the first in line for some sweet vaccine goodness. [Photo at the link]

    (It’s fine that Rubio looked away from the needle. It’s important that people who are afraid of needles still get vaccinated. It’s not something to stigmatize. Just because this is a post about assholes doesn’t mean we should be assholes.)

    Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder tweeted that Florida Senator Marco Rubio is “a healthy 49 year old. He is not in a nursing home. He is not a health worker. He is not a first responder. He attends Superspreader events maskless.”

    Coronavirus cases are flooding Florida, and although Rubio has meekly advocated wearing masks, he never stood up to Trump’s COVID denial or opposed Gov. Ron DeSantis’s feckless leadership.

    Next up is Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who, as you’ll recall, is perhaps the most famous asshole of all.

    […] Ernst implied back in September that doctors were faking COVID-19 deaths for fun and profit.

    ERNST: These health-care providers and others are reimbursed at a higher rate if COVID is tied to it, so what do you think they’re doing? […]

    I’m actually not incensed that these assholes received early doses of the vaccine. We’re not distributing them based on moral worth. My family in South Carolina will get their vaccines because they have brains in their heads and Kamala said so, but they are surrounded by Trump supporters, who I’d prefer just remain annoying and not plague carriers. If Lindsey Graham — as opposed to Joe Biden or Jim Clyburn — getting the vaccine persuades those dummies to do the same and promptly, that ultimately benefits everyone.

    A solid chunk of the country still exists in an alternate reality where COVID-19 is no worse than the flu. President Pandemic doesn’t help the narrative when he seems to get over the virus after a rough weekend, and his toxic ego demanded that he downplay how seriously ill he was. I appreciate anyone’s help in the ongoing fight to convince Americans that water is wet and COVID-19 is deadly. So, thanks, I guess, you assholes.

    Link

  65. blf says

    Covid conga: maskless Republicans do pandemic danse macabre:

    […]
    In a celebration more danse macabre than tripping the light fantastic, members of a Republican club in Queens, New York, partied without masks or social distancing during a mid-pandemic indoor Christmas party, a viral video shows.

    The Queens Daily Eagle reported that city council candidate Vickie Paladino and members of the Whitestone Republican Club staged their festive event on 9 December at Il Bacco, a restaurant which filed suit against Governor Andrew Cuomo on 28 August, demanding to be allowed to resume indoor dining, against public health restrictions in place in New York at the time.

    […]

    In video posted to Twitter, Paladino can be seen dancing in and around a 13-person conga line led by James Martinosky, a former Republican candidate for the state assembly carrying a Trump 2020 flag.

    [… predictable / usual denials and probable lies…]

    And this was in New York City !

  66. says

    From Wonkette: “Proud Boys Don’t Want Any Ladies Joining Their He-Man Woman-Haters Club”

    The Proud Boys […] like to claim that, rather than being the violent right wing extremists they obviously are, they are simply a fraternal drinking club for “western chauvinists.” They sometimes even like to compare themselves to groups like the Elks or the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes or the Fraternal Order of the Bass or the Amalgamated Association of Morons.

    […] However, while many of the traditional fraternal organizations have ladies auxiliaries, the Proud Boys would like to be clear that they do not and will not have one and that there is no such thing as a Proud Girl, and they are sick and tired of ladies trying to be Proud Girls instead of staying the fuck in the kitchen.

    There is not really a good side to take here. On the one hand, you’ve got women who want to join a hate group, and on the other, you’ve got men who don’t want women to join their hate group because of how they are sexist. Everyone involved is terrible.

    […] This post, from the Proud Boys of Northern Nevada, states:

    Dear “Proud Girls”

    Stop

    Hijacking our fraternity because you can’t stand men having their own club is exactly why we created this club in the first place. You aren’t supporting us. You’re hurting us. You’re ruining what we hold dear. Want to know how to ACTUALLY support us? Get married, have children, cultivate wonderful communities in which we can live in. To save the west we need WOMEN BEING WOMEN. Not women trying to be men.

    We beg of you, with sincere love from the bottom of our hearts, get pregnant and get the fuck back in the kitchen.

    Jeremy Bertino, a Proud Boy who goes around calling himself “Noble Beard,” also posted about the Proud Girls problem.

    I’m going to share a possibly unpopular opinion, women do not belong on the front line at rallies or the battles that happen at them. For every female that is upfront it’s 1 less capable man up there defending. Let’s face it Women tend to fire on emotions over tact. I have found in my experience that they will escalate the situation when it’s tactically smart to Descalate [sic] a situation. My stabbing was a result of a woman jumping the gun and grabbing the assailants mask and taking away the tactical advantage we had from the side I was coming in on. Stop trying to prove to us how tough you are it only makes you look foolish. Want to be there at rallies be there in a support capacity but know your place, it’s in the back. Women are to be protected. They put us in jeopardy by being upfront. We have to switch to protection mode instead of assault mode. Seriously when we need you we will call on you. And there is no PG and no woman is a PB. It will NEVER happen. PG doesn’t exist.

    […] Here are some choice comments from some definitely real women.

    I agree! Personally I’m not physically as strong as most men. I’m in NO way as brave as the PB who face off with antifa. Which is what made me look for and follow PB on social media. I was so grateful for the men doing what I could not. Women have a million other ways to support the movement without putting PB in additional danger.

    Couldn’t you just puke?

    I agree 100%. I don’t understand women who want to run with men. I got some supper to cook or a nail appointment to go too. I got women shit to do.

    Cooking supper and getting our nails done! Activities for women!

    I agree with this statement. Now don’t get me wrong if I had to defend my family I would but that is my husbands job first. I don’t think women should be on the line it’s not what we were meant to do. Unless our men went down then we need to step up. We have other roles and need to be in our roles to make sure them men can protect us like are suppose to do!

    I think what I like best about all of this is that they’re acting like they’re in some kind of legitimate war instead of, you know, being jagoffs that go around beating up activists for no reason.

    Your thoughts aren’t unpopular just not accepted by feminist influenced girls. Nothing good happens after dark is an old adage that I was taught. And that is exactly what is expected when you PB’s go to task! I am PROUD of all of you. And women have no place there…it distracts from the focus. Men go from mission focus to being a protector and letting their guard down. Nah! I will stay home keeping the home fires burning. Prepping, cooking and readying for when the men return home. POYBs!

    There’s been a lot written about ladies who get involved in hateful movements led by violent misogynists and are then shocked to discover that sexism is unpleasant and that being white supremacists or anti-feminists doesn’t shield them from that in any way whatsoever. Then they end up being all “Hey! I just came here to be a racist and talk about how other women are bad, not to have men sexually harass me or denigrate me for my life choices!” about shit. I don’t traditionally have a “you deserve what you get” attitude concerning sexism, but in these cases I will make an exception. “Women can be hatemongers, too!” makes even less sense […]

    There will always and forever be people who desperately want to belong to clubs that don’t want them as members, but anyone who would want to be a Proud Boy, male or female, has more problems than that.

    Link

  67. blf says

    Lynna@87 quoted(? editorialised?) “It’s fine that Rubio looked away from the needle. It’s important that people who are afraid of needles still get vaccinated. It’s not something to stigmatize. Just because this is a post about assholes doesn’t mean we should be assholes.”

    Indeed. I myself am a person who looks away from the needle.

    I would add criticising the Covid-“skeptical” thugs (or whoever) for getting vaccinated “early” is also arseholeish if they have medically valid reasons (e.g., age, underlying conditions, living with such vulnerable people, etc.) for being first(-ish) in the queue. Such individuals may or may not be completely hypocritical (that’s more-or-less a case-by-case matter), with the exception of those who are anti-vax who are absolutely hypocritical genocidal monsters.

    Sans a medically valid reason† — and, e.g., being a member of any legislature is not a medically-valid reason by itself — then fire all bores, please, at any such “queue-jumpers” (perhaps especially at the Covid-“skeptical” brigade).

      † Or other exception, such as “essential worker” — which is a questionable designation for most legislatures… Society does not collapse if more byelections than usual are required (tragic as it may be for the individual and their family), albeit it does if there are no workers in the shops, hospitals, or utilities (to broadly name just three examples).

  68. says

    Campaign news from Georgia:

    In Georgia, where SurveyUSA had a pretty good pre-election poll, the same outlet released the results of a new statewide survey this morning. SurveyUSA found Jon Ossoff (D) leading incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R), 51% to 46%, and Raphael Warnock (D) ahead of appointed incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), 52% to 45%. No other recent poll has showed the Democratic challengers with advantages this large. The runoff elections are two weeks from today.

    Meanwhile:

    Perdue and Loeffler co-hosted a rally yesterday, though they reportedly faced some heckling from far-right Trump supporters who want the GOP senators to go further to assist the outgoing president’s anti-democracy efforts.

  69. says

    Trump is prepared to lay waste to everyone around him in election loss tantrum

    Donald Trump is once again putting his ego above any concept of loyalty or respect, turning on everyone around him who doesn’t indulge his fantasies that he didn’t lose and doesn’t encourage him to try to make those fantasies reality through a coup.

    Monday night, Trump sent Republicans a slide attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for being “the first one off the ship.” McConnell refused to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s win for well over a month, until the Electoral College had voted. Trump also gave himself credit for McConnell’s reelection—implication: McConnell owes him the pretense that he won—despite McConnell having won his election by nearly 20 points.

    McConnell’s not the only one, though.

    “Top officials are trying to stay away from the West Wing right now,” Jonathan Swan reports. Trump is “lashing out, and everyone is in the blast zone.” Mike Pence’s plan to leave the country immediately after he oversees Congress certifying Biden’s win makes a ton of sense in this context—Trump will see Pence following the law as a personal betrayal. And score one for the Lincoln Project on the thing it’s best at—getting into Trump’s head—thanks to its ad feeding Trump’s suspicion of Pence.

    It’s not just McConnell and Pence, though. Swan reports that there’s concern that Trump will replace White House counsel Pat Cipollone for the final few weeks, and you know that if Cipollone isn’t enough of a suck-up, the replacement would be a true horror show. White House counsel Sidney Powell, anyone?

    How much worse will Trump get in the 29 days until Inauguration Day? Unfortunately, we have no choice but to find out.

    The Lincoln Project ad is good.

  70. blf says

    A follow-up to @442(previous page) — and hence specially for Lynna — How will the coronavirus affect France’s end of year celebrations? (video, English):

    The holiday season is upon us! Christmas is a big deal in France, a traditionally Catholic country. But this year, things are a little particular: the ongoing pandemic has replaced all the cheer and Christmasing with masks and social distancing. So how is the coronavirus going to affect the holiday season in France? In this episode of French Connections Plus, Genie Godula and Florence Villeminot take a look at the end of year celebrations — les fêtes de fin d’année — Covid-19 edition. Hint: it still involves a lot of delicious food.

    Of course it involves lots of delicious food! This is France. They have a (rather well deserved) reputation for the stuff. They even eat snails! (And yes, there are snails in the video.) Well, Ok, I also eat snails. And the various Boudin sausages mentioned in the video. And the oysters, birds, etc., etc., etc…

    I wonder if there is an analogue of the Bechdel test where two people talk about France without discussing food / vin?

  71. says

    blf @93, Hey, I too have smoked salmon. Doesn’t put me on par with those luxurious French meals, but I do feel good about having a least one of the ingredients. :-)

  72. says

    Birx is retiring:

    […] Birx said that her experience serving on the task force has been “overwhelming” and has placed particular strain on her daughter and parents, who faced backlash for Thanksgiving plans that went against guidelines set in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat the spread of coronavirus.

    Before departing for her own festivities, which included a trip to one of her vacation properties on Fenwick Island in Delaware a day after Thanksgiving, Birx had publicly urged Americans to “be vigilant” and limit celebrations to “your immediate household.”

    Days later, Birx was joined by three generations of her family from two households, including her husband, a daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren, according to the Associated Press.

    “To drag my family into this, when my daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months, they’ve become deeply depressed, as I’m sure many elderly have,” the health official said Tuesday, appearing to respond to the reports about her holiday gatherings. “These are all very difficult things.”

    Birx’s revelation that she will not seek a role in the incoming administration is a departure from her earlier remarks. Last month, Birx reportedly expressed a desire to maintain a key role on the White House coronavirus task force when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated in January.

    While Dr. Anthony Fauci’s continued presence on Biden’s incoming task force was locked in earlier this month, a path forward was less clear for his colleague. One transition official had even told Politico last month that the President-elect’s team intended to do some “house cleaning” amid the transition from COVID-19 advisers appointed by President Donald Trump.

    Link

  73. says

    So different from Betsy DeVos! “Biden’s pick for education secretary is a former teacher, principal, and English language learner.”

    President-elect Joe Biden is nominating Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona to be his education secretary. Cardona is a former teacher and school principal, meeting Biden’s pledge to pick an educator for the role—unlike Donald Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos.

    In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Cardona made it a priority to get kids across the state access to laptops and the internet. More recently, he has pressed for in-person education, citing concerns about educational inequities with remote learning. That concern is in line with his longstanding focus on English language learners and racial achievement gaps.

    In a 2019 interview, Cardona cited his own experience as a child who arrived in kindergarten having spoken only Spanish at home. He also opposed tying teacher performance evaluations to test scores, saying “Not reducing a teacher to a test score and bringing the voices of teachers and leaders into the process of professional leaning. Those are the two things I really felt like I had to champion.”

    Connecticut’s education unions released a statement saying Cardona’s “formative experience as a teacher and administrator has been critical to his accomplishments as Connecticut Education Commissioner. He has been tested by the unprecedented upheaval caused by the pandemic. While this challenge has been a rocky road—and many issues remain unresolved—teachers and school support staff have appreciated his openness and collaboration. If selected as Secretary of Education, Dr. Cardona would be a positive force for public education—light years ahead of the dismal Betsy DeVos track record.”

    If confirmed, Cardona will face two huge challenges in the pandemic and in undoing the damage DeVos inflicted on U.S. public education policy over the past four years.

    Link

  74. blf says

    Pilot blamed for Taiwan’s first local Covid transmission since April:

    […]
    Taiwan’s world-leading run of 253 days since its last local Covid-19 infection is over, after the diagnosis of a close contact of a foreign pilot who travelled while infectious.

    […]

    The health minister, Chen Shih-chung, said the pilot had not “truthfully declared” his contacts and activities. Statements from health authorities suggest they believed the pilot contracted the virus in the US before flying three more flights between the US and Taiwan, and moving around Taipei while infectious.

    […]

    Authorities said the pilot visited several establishments in Taipei including department stores between 8 and 12 December, before flying back to the US with two co-pilots who later tested positive. Health authorities said he was coughing on the 12 December flight, but not wearing a mask.

    He returned to Taiwan on 15 December and was tested on 18 December, when he was considered a close contact of one of the sick co-pilots.

    The pilot faces a fine of up to NT$300,000 (£8,500).

    […]

    More on this eejit, the “Plague Rat”, at Intransitive, A Plague Rat Got In, here at FtB. The Plague Rat has apparently been fined the full NT$300,000 (c.11,000$).

  75. says

    From Wonkette: “Suspicious Lack Of National Guard As ‘Patriots’ Storm Oregon Lege For Some Dumb F*cking Reason”

    A crowd of rightwing idiots, some armed with long guns, tried to break into the Oregon Capitol building in Salem yesterday as the state legislature began its third special session this year. The session was called by Gov. Kate Brown for the purpose of passing an extension of Oregon’s eviction moratorium, as well as financial help for landlords, more funding for Oregon’s response to the pandemic, and funding for recovery from this summer’s wildfires. Clearly, all that was tyranny, especially because the Capitol was closed to all but legislators, staff, and some journalists, to prevent spread of the virus.

    Although legislative staffers set up televisions outside the building so the public could view the proceedings, which are also being livestreamed, protester Crystal Wagner knew that her rights were being infringed, damnit:

    “Why are they having a legislative hearing without the people?” Wagner said. “We are the people, we are the taxpayers. We’re here to fight for our democracy.”

    […] Professional rightwing provocateur Joey Gibson and his “Patriot Prayer” crowd, based in Vancouver, Washington, called for fellow idiots to show up and do their liberty and death demands that Oregon stop trying to stop the spread of the deadly virus. And yes, of course the rightwing hate group still has an active Twitter account.

    To prove they love liberty, members of the crowd broke glass doors at the Capitol, tried to crowd inside, and twice sprayed chemical agents at state troopers and Salem police inside the Capitol. For good measure, they assaulted some journalists covering the protests, because the Constitution is all about shoving nosy reporters around, especially if they take photos of you while busting glass in a state capitol building. The Tree of Liberty, after all, must be refreshed from time to time with broken glass.

    As of yet, Fox News has not called for the deployment of federal troops to protect the Oregon Capitol from violent extremist rioters.

    Independent reporter Laura Jedeed covered the surreal insanity outside the statehouse in this excellent Twitter thread, and in a follow-up thread with loads of videos of far-Right idiots being idiots. A running theme of her coverage, only touched on in other reports, is the great shock and sadness among some of the wingnuts that the cops would try to eject them from the Capitol, even though many of the protesters have those stupid thin blue line flags on their pickup trucks[…] Also too, the contrast between the comparatively gentle treatment the whitey-righty protesters were treated to, compared to the aggressive head-busting meted out to Black Lives Matter protesters this summer. […]

    [Video snippets are available at the link.]

    Also too, Jedeed captures one especially charming part of the protest that other outlets appear to have missed: One of the militia Brain Geniuses saw “a Chinese dude in the fucking window right there,” leading to a “persistent rumor that the Chinese communists are inside the Oregon State Capital building doing communist shit and destroying America. Yes, really. It comes up repeatedly for hours.”

    Well, those people do wear masks on the subway, don’t they? Clearly a very suspicious connection.

    Eventually, the Oregon State Police declared the whole mess an unlawful assembly, although — again, rather unlike actions against other protesters for some reason — that wasn’t immediately followed by tear gas, beatdowns, or less-lethal munitions shattering anyone’s skull.

    […] Bear spray was used against police.

    […] One gentleman, Mr. Ryan Lyles, 41, was arrested — presumably quite gently — and charged with “felon in possession of body armor and unlawful use of mace” in that assault on cops. There were four arrests yesterday, but cops are still looking for another gentleman, Mr. Jeremy Roberts, 40, who was caught on video trying to break down glass doors and attacking two reporters.

    Inside the Capitol, things got pretty stupid, too. State Sen. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg, which used to be such a nice town) had himself a hissy fit because both houses of the lege had adopted tyrannical rules aimed at reducing the spread of the virus and literally harming God.

    “This is yet another illegitimate session” due to those exclusions, Heard told Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem. Quoting from one of the Old Testament’s books of Samuel, Heard told Courtney “adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces” and suggested elected leaders lack authority. “This is (God’s) kingdom, not yours,” Heard said to Courtney.

    The problem, as Sen. Heard explained, was that the Oregon Senate was engaged in a “campaign against the people and the children of God,” although it should be noted that the mask requirements in the Capitol apply to everyone, even godless atheists too. He ripped off his mask to prove he was a FREE MAN who knows the value of a pointless dramatic gesture, proclaiming,

    If you had not done such great evil to my people and had simply asked me to wear my mask, I would have. But you commanded it, and therefore I declare my right to protests against your false authority and remove my mask.

    We can only assume that everyone in his mind stood and CHEERED, and then a bald eagle flew through the window.

    Oh, hold on, there was a bald eagle, it just didn’t actively participate in Heard’s show inside the Capitol […]

    Also, the Lege did get some work done anyway, passing the aid for landlords as well as a measure to protect schools from COVID-19 lawsuits, and another to allow restaurants and bars to serve cocktails to go. Which frankly sounds like a terrific idea RIGHT NOW.

    Link

  76. tomh says

    California Gets Its First Latino US Senator
    December 22, 2020 MATTHEW RENDA

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Although nearly 40% of California’s 40 million residents are Latino or Hispanic, the state has never had a Latino or Hispanic U.S. senator. Until Tuesday, when Governor Gavin Newsom tapped Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat…

    Padilla was long considered a front-runner for the position. The son of Mexican immigrants and a Los Angeles Democrat, Padilla steadily rose through local and state elected offices before becoming the secretary of state in 2014…

    As secretary of state, Padilla refused to cooperate with the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, President Donald Trump’s formal investigation of voter fraud in 2017. The commission was eventually disbanded without finding evidence of widescale voter fraud of the type that Trump continues to say exists and was responsible for both of his defeats in the popular vote and his recent defeat in the Electoral College.

    Padilla pushed mail-in ballots during the 2020 General Election, which he said would not only ensure the public’s safety while voting but also lead to a more robust participation…

    Newsom must also appoint Padilla’s successor in the Secretary of State’s Office.

  77. says

    CNN – “Trump’s private bankers resign from Deutsche Bank”:

    The private bankers responsible for lending to President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner have resigned from Deutsche Bank, the bank said.

    “Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi have tendered their resignations to Deutsche Bank effective as of year-end, which was accepted by the bank,” Daniel Hunter, a spokesman for the bank said in a statement.

    Vrablic and Scalzi have worked closely together for years since joining Deutsche Bank a decade ago. Vrablic was a trusted contact to the Trump Organization and Kushner and assumed the bank’s lending relationship with Trump in the private side of the bank after the commercial lending division stopped doing business with Trump.

    Deutsche Bank (DB) has loaned the Trump Organization more than $300 million.

    In a statement Vrablic said, “I’ve chosen to resign my position with the bank effective December 31 and am looking forward to my retirement.”

    The Trump Organization is under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and New York Attorney General and both agencies have subpoenaed the bank about its lending relationship with the company….

  78. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz: “Russian Hackers Disappointed to Find U.S. Government Already Disabled”

    Russian hackers attempting to disrupt the U.S. government were disappointed to discover that it had already been thoroughly disabled, the hackers have confirmed.

    Expecting to find a well-oiled machine that they could impair, the hackers instead came upon a barely operational mess that had already suffered what appeared to be four years of degradation.

    Dmitri X (not his real name), was assigned to hack the Environmental Protection Agency’s computer systems and was “shocked” by the agency’s weakened condition.

    “My job was to access the E.P.A.’s database and delete all of the environmental regulations,” he said. “There was nothing there left to delete.”

    The hacker found similar evidence of sabotage at the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, and myriad other federal agencies.

    “To be honest, it was pretty disheartening,” he said. “I was hired to cripple the U.S. government, but it’s clear that someone else got there first.”

    The hacker could not identify who was behind the widespread vandalism, but speculated that the culprit had vast experience in driving large organizations into bankruptcy.

    New Yorker link

  79. says

    From Lynna’s #99:

    Independent reporter Laura Jedeed covered the surreal insanity outside the statehouse in this excellent Twitter thread,

    That thread is unreal, and also superb.

    …Someone yells that we need to burn the Back the Blue flags. Others call the cops Nazis and Brownshirts

    Confused about what rally I’m at

    Someone just pointed out that the police don’t have bodycams. “That means they can do whatever the fuck they want!

    We’ve been trying to tell you assholes that for years

    The far right protesters keep saying this is how Nazi Germany started and they’re right but not in the way they mean

    Someone says they’d never do this to us if we were Antifa and once again they’re right, but not in the way they think

    I feel like this kiosk is not selling a ton of Blue Lives Matter flags today

    No word on sales numbers for the confederate Gadsden though

    I’ve been listening to speeches

    Got a guy who told us that all lives don’t matter: GOOD PEOPLE’S lives matter

    I appreciate the mask off on that

    He is now saying police bring food and water to Antifa and I literally cannot

    “Antifa can light fires and destroy buildings and THEY’RE peaceful!!” Lol my dude if this was Antifa everything would be mace and batons you don’t even know

    There isn’t even a police line

    “do you feel that wind in your face?! That is the wind of freedom! This is America!”

    This shit, for hours. That’s what right wing rallies are

    Ooooooh omfg!!!!!! A woman wants to burn a Blue Lives Matter flag. The owner of the flag in question is furious. It’s amazing

    “we back the blue!”
    “No we don’t!”

    Schisms…

  80. blf says

    Two snippets from Covid demands seriousness, not this government’s [“U”K] theatre of the absurd:

    When [Home Secretary & evil person] Priti Patel was asked about failures of pandemic management today, she declared: “The government has consistently this year been ahead of the curve in terms of proactive decisions on coronavirus.” It is hard to draft a more precise inversion of the truth.

    [… W]e have a prime minister whose whole career makes a mockery of the idea that power should be wielded by someone serious. He has turned Downing Street into a stage on which he performs a pastiche of traditional authority.

  81. says

    Yikes!

    […] As the virus spread unimpeded this fall, rumors emerged that students at Brigham Young University-Idaho, in Rexburg, had been intentionally infecting themselves with the coronavirus in order to sell their antibody-rich plasma for nearly double the going rate of blood unaffected by the virus. According to the Deseret News, the students could have been earning as much as two hundred dollars per week for their antibodies. The school, which is wholly owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, cracked down, warning that any further attempts at virus profiteering would bring suspension or permanent expulsion. Two weeks after the scandal broke, the Times covid-19 database identified Rexburg as having the highest daily per-capita infection rate in the country.

    According to an ongoing Carnegie Mellon survey, Idaho remains one of the least mask-compliant places in America. […]

    New Yorker link

    Much more at the link.

  82. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Tucked into Congress’s massive stimulus bill: Tens of billions in special-interest tax giveaways
    Yeganeh Torbati
    Dec. 22, 2020

    Congress on Monday unveiled a 5,593-page spending bill and then voted on it several hours later, with lawmakers claiming urgent action was needed to rescue an ailing economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

    But tucked in the bill was over $110 billion in tax breaks that strayed far from the way the bill was marketed to many Americans. These giveaways include big tax cuts for liquor producers, the motorsports entertainment sector and manufacturers of electric motorcycles.

    These measures, added onto the broader spending bill, are known as “tax extenders” — tax breaks targeted at specific, sometimes niche industries…

    “They are a gravy train for members and lobbyists, who repeat the same exercise every year or two,” Howard Gleckman, a tax policy expert at the Urban Institute, said in an email. “The lobbyists get to keep billing hours. The members get campaign money from the same people. Many of these are classic special interest tax breaks that do not benefit the overall economy in any way.”

    A few other items in the bill of interest to those who follow law and religion issues. The first makes it clear that churches and religious organizations can be eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program Loans program:

    ELIGIBLE CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS

    (1) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that the interim final rule of the Administration entitled ‘‘Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program’’ (85 Fed. 11 Reg. 20817 (April 15, 2020)) properly clarified the eligibility of churches and religious organizations for loans made under paragraph (36) of section 7(a) of the Small Business Act…

    (2) APPLICABILITY OF PROHIBITION.—The prohibition on eligibility established by section 120.110(k) of title 13, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor regulation, shall not apply to a loan under paragraph (36) of section 7(a) of the Small Business Act…

    The second provision of interest is Subtitle E, Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020…

    SEC. 342. STATEMENT OF POLICY REGARDING THE SUCCESSION OR REINCARNATION OF THE DALAI LAMA….

    (b) STATEMENT OF POLICY.—It is the policy of the United States that—

    (1) decisions regarding the selection, education, and veneration of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders are exclusively spiritual matters that should be made by the appropriate religious authorities within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and in the context of the will of practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism…

    (c) HOLDING CHINESE OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ABUSES TARGETING TIBETAN BUDDHISTS.—It is the policy of the United States to take all appropriate measures to hold accountable senior officials of the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party who directly interfere with the identification and installation of the future 15th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, successor to the 14th Dalai Lama, including by—

    (1) imposing sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (22 U.S.C. 2656 note); and

    (2) prohibiting admission to the United States under section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

  83. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@61 is Mano Singham’s Et tu, Pat? here at FtB, which includes a link to a Downfall parody which “looks like it pretty accurately captures the situation in the White House now. One character even says at the end that Trump ‘is like Hitler refusing to concede that the war is lost’.”

  84. says

    The Department of Defense is refusing to brief Biden transition team on Russia’s #SolarWindsHack.

    That compromises U.S. national security, and likely violation of at least the spirit of the Presidential Transition Act.

    Presidential Transition Act requires summaries given to Biden @Transition46 ‘by the relevant outgoing executive branch officials of specific operational threats to national security’.

    SolarWinds hack = specific operational threat to national security”

  85. blf says

    In Brazil, Rio de Janeiro mayor charged with corruption:

    […]
    Rio de Janeiro’s outgoing mayor Marcelo Crivella, an ally of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been arrested and charged with corruption.

    […]

    Prosecutors later filed corruption charges against Crivella and 25 others, saying in a statement that wiretaps, seizures, witness and collaborating witness statements had revealed “a well-structured and complex criminal organisation led by Crivella that had acted in city hall since 2017”.

    The arrest comes days before Crivella’s mandate ends and just weeks after the deeply unpopular mayor — a gospel singer who had called homosexuality a “terrible evil” and shunned carnival — was thrashed in mayoral elections by one of his predecessors, Eduardo Paes.

    […]

    This is political persecution, Crivella told reporters on reaching police headquarters. It was the government that most fought corruption. […] Police also arrested the businessman Rafael Alves, the mayor’s “man of confidence” who had an office in city hall yet no official role, the G1 site said — Alves’s brother Marcelo was Rio’s tourism chief. The former police officer and city councillor Fernando Moraes was also arrested, G1 said.

    […]

    Prosecutors had shown that Alves operated schemes that Crivella knew about, authorised and benefited from, [judge Rosa] Guita wrote. “The crimes were committed in a permanent manner during the four-year mandate, with fraudulent contracts and bribes received in the most varied sectors of the administration,” she wrote.

    The last months of Crivella’s administration have been tumultuous. In September an investigation by TV Globo found that city hall employees known as “Crivella’s guardians” were paid to stand outside hospitals and stop citizens complaining about healthcare. Crivella said there was no basis to the accusations.

    […]

  86. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC@112, why do I get a strong whiff of high level corruption needing indictments?

  87. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Speaking of corruption, tonight the local PBS station, wttw, is having a show about political corruption in Chicago and Illinois entitled Lincoln is Crying. I’m recording it, but it will likely also be available on-line.

  88. says

    Nerd @ #113, Berman held out so she could succeed him rather than some Barr plant. She has a strong reputation, and SDNY is investigating Giuliani. Now Trump can’t replace her when her acting term ends. I might have misunderstood your comment, but I suspect there will be some (more) indictments for high-level corruption coming out of her office!

  89. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC@117, that’s what I was thinking. Rudy and/or Jared in the crosshairs were at the top of my list.

  90. blf says

    SC@117, I cannot speak for Nerd, but that is precisely how I read their @113 — “there will be some (more) indictments for high-level corruption coming out of [Audrey Strauss’s (SDNY)] office!”

  91. blf says

    Ben Jennings in the Grauniad On UK and France crisis talks to reopen border (cartoon).

    Jennings indicates this cartoon is based on a James Gillray work, very probably this one (William Pitt, the Younger): “William Pitt, the Younger, steering a boat (‘The Constitution’) with Britannia on board toward a castle designated as the ‘Haven of Public Happiness’, while Charles James Fox, Joseph Priestley, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan pursue the vessel, political cartoon by James Gillray, 1793” — James Gillray.

  92. says

    Jon Allsop, CJR:

    A media scooplet from me for @CJR: Rep. @tedlieu is working on legislation aimed at reviving the Federal Writers’ Project—a 1930s New Deal program that put unemployed journalists and authors to work documenting America on the public dime.

    The timing and details of the bill are tbd, but Lieu’s office told me a new FWP could be anchored within the Labor Dept or a cultural agency, and could run as a grant program administered through existing community institutions—including newsrooms.

    It follows a recent push from fans of the FWP—most notably @DavidKipen, of UCLA—who think reviving it could serve a double benefit: putting unemployed writers to work, and helping America understand itself, which was a key goal of the original project.

    Obviously, there’s a long way to go before a new FWP can become a reality. But there are numerous other proposals already before Congress that would at least channel some of the *spirit* of the original—by offering public funding for the news business….

  93. says

    CNN – “Trump announces wave of pardons, including Papadopoulos and former lawmakers Hunter and Collins”:

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced a wave of lame duck pardons, including two for men who pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller’s investigation, as well as ones for Republican allies who once served in Congress and military contractors involved in a deadly shooting of Iraqi civilians.

    The pardons of former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, former US congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and the four Blackwater guards involved in the Iraq massacre kick off what is expected to be a flurry of pardons and commutations in the coming weeks as Trump concludes his term.

    Also included in the batch announced on Tuesday are Alex van der Zwaan, the Dutch lawyer who was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to lying to Mueller investigators; two Border Patrol agents convicted in 2006 of shooting and wounding an unarmed undocumented immigrant and then covering it up; and several people convicted of non-violent drug crimes serving lengthy sentences.

    The pardons came at the recommendation of Trump allies in Congress and, in some cases, the conservative media. Many of the non-violent drug offenders were recommended for clemency by Alice Johnson, the former federal inmate whose sentence Trump commuted at the urging of Kim Kardashian West….

  94. blf says

    Follow-up to @50, PragerU’s Awful Defense of Statues Honoring Robert E Lee:

    After news broke this morning that a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was removed from the U.S. Capitol, right-wing propaganda producer PragerU pushed out a two-minute video defending statues honoring Lee.

    The video comes across like a parody of PragerU material, devoting its first half to the historical pedigree of Lee and his wife and to Lee’s crushing of abolitionist John Brown’s effort to provoke an uprising among people held as slaves.

    The video notes that Lee believed slavery was “a greater evil to the white than to the black race” because “blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa.”

    It mentions that Lee’s former home is now the site of Arlington National Cemetery, without noting that after the war Lee and his family fought to regain possession of the estate from the U.S. government and end burials on the property.

    [… and on and on…]

    Some background on PragerU, Inside the Right-Wing YouTube Empire That’s Quietly Turning Millennials Into Conservatives (Mother Jones, March-2018):

    […]
    At PragerU, police are not biased against black men, and man-made climate change is debatable. You’ll find takes on animal rights (against), the $15 minimum wage (against), the gender wage gap (doesn’t exist), and why the South turned Republican (nothing to do with race). [Conservative talk-radio host Dennis] Prager has hosted a few dozen videos himself, including “Just Say ‘Merry Christmas,’” his take on the “war on Christmas” genre, and “He Wants You,” an apologia for men who ogle women. He personally approves every item, edits every script, and courts “faculty,” including heavy hitters such as Dinesh D’Souza, Steve Forbes, and former White House press secretary Dana Perino. Some presenters, like Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, are credentialed. Others, like comedian Adam Carolla, merely speak with the confidence of people who are.
    […]

    A tiny bit of credit, PagerU openly says at their site (albeit at the bottom and in small print) “Prager University is not an accredited academic institution and does not offer certifications or diplomas.”

  95. blf says

    EW Jackson Says Christians Who Vote for Democrats in Georgia’s Runoff Elections ‘Might As Well Spit in Jesus’ Face’:

    [… R]ight-wing pastor and radio host EW Jackson […], who was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia’s 2013 race, reported that he is working to convince Black voters in the state to vote for Republican candidates Sens David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler rather than their respective Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock […]

    These two clowns running for US Senate down there are both pro-abortion, Jackson said of Warnock and Ossoff. These two clowns down there are both big LGBTQ advocates. The Bible makes clear, ‘The fool has said in his heart there is no God,’ and these two are both imbued with Marxist ideology. Of course, I’m opposed to them. Of course, I don’t want them to go to the US Senate.

    They don’t need to be there, he continued. So you all pray for me that we’ll be successful in alerting, awakening Black Christian voters in Georgia of just how evil the two candidates are that are running for the Democrat Party. And if you vote for them, you just might as well vote against God, because that’s what it boils down to. If you vote for Warnock or Ossoff and you claim to be a Christian, you really just might as well spit in Jesus’ face, because they both have done that.

    You don’t tug on superman’s cape
    You don’t spit into the wind
    You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
    And you don’t mess around with EW Jackson

  96. says

    NBC – “As Trump meets with QAnon influencers, the conspiracy theory’s adherents beg for dictatorship”:

    Some QAnon followers believe Trump is left with no choice but to declare martial law, a belief based in part on a series of wildly false news articles that have claimed that Trump is in a secret, ongoing land war with China in parts of the U.S.

    A series of fake news articles, YouTube videos and tweets that went viral among QAnon acolytes last week led followers to believe Trump was conducting clandestine military operations on U.S. soil.

    The rumors, which started on the website of the conspiracy theorist radio host Hal Turner, claimed China was quietly sending tanks into Maine through Canada. After a small earthquake shook Maine in early December, the rumor evolved to say the earthquakes were the result of an aerial assault by the Trump administration.

    Maine’s National Guard said no such battle had taken place.

    “The Maine National Guard has no knowledge of any such troop movement or military action, and would undoubtedly have been made aware through military or emergency management channels if such a significant event were to occur in the state of Maine,” Maj. Carl J. Lamb, the public affairs officer for the Maine National Guard, said. “In addition to constantly maintaining a ready force, our focus right now is assisting our fellow citizens by responding to requests from Maine Emergency Management Agency and Maine CDC in response to COVID-19.”

    Another rumor that originated on Turner’s site last week went viral among QAnon followers, trended on Twitter, and wound up being repeated at the meeting of Texas electors before they cast their votes for president. The conspiracy theory claimed Chief Justice John Roberts held a secret, closed-door meeting to scream at fellow justices, in an effort to intimidate them into refusing to take cases of election fraud at the Supreme Court.

    In reality, the Supreme Court hasn’t met in person since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Turner did not respond to a request for comment on his website’s false stories.

    Rothschild said he is worried about the mix of constant disappointment, perceived injustice and increasingly violent rhetoric in the QAnon community in the last week.

    “These people have worked themselves into such a frenzied state thinking Trump won in a landslide and that the truth will be revealed any moment,” he said. “When (President-elect Joe) Biden is sworn in, when none of the miracles they’ve been told are about to happen actually take place, it will be a life-shattering event.”

    Riggleman, who lost his GOP primary in June and will be replaced in Congress by Republican Bob Good in January, has turned into a fierce critic of QAnon and its hold on his party.

    “I’m losing friends and family over a straight-up cult based on anti-Semitism, fantasy and just bizarre made-up tripe,” he said. “It’s an idiocracy based on a digital prophet.”

  97. blf says

    SC@129, Chinanda invades Maine!
    Jupiter aligns with Saturn!!
    Roberts locks Justices in a closet!!!
    Hair furor won in landslide!!!!
    There was landslide in Maine!!!!!
    Proof, PROOF, of, um, well… er… (crickets) (moar crickets)… I got it… (clears throat)
    Proof, PROOF, the imprisoned Justices tunneled their way out through Maine guided by a bright star in the sky, and are now leading an army swooping Southwards from the East towards Washington so as to rerun the election, conqueror AntiFa, and restore Lee’s statue!!!!1!
    (misquaffs the beer and falls off the chair)

  98. says

    This is the president with holiday cheer around him blowing up the COVID relief package his administration agreed to. He says he wants the ‘three martini lunch’ expensing provision to last longer than 2 years and wants $2k instead of $600 in direct payments.”

    The ’80s business-lunch obsession is demented, and he and Mnuchin had six months to join the Dems’ demands for higher payments. He likely believes if he starts making a show of demanding larger direct payments now there will be a groundswell of support for a coup.

  99. says

    Kyle Cheney, Politico:

    NEW: Trump has turned a Jan. 6 vote to certify Biden’s victory into the ultimate Republican loyalty test. Allies and operatives say it could fracture the fragile GOP coalition that stuck by him for the last four years.

    Trump has already turned on longtime loyalists like Barr and McConnell for refusing to continue indulging his claims of widespread fraud.

    As his desperate attempts to stay in office get darker, he’s working to force all Republicans on-the-record.

    Trump’s base, which has been conditioned to support his claim of election fraud, will remember which lawmakers refuse to back his final push to block Biden’s presidency. And that could spill into 2022/2024 politics, with Trump playing a role in primaries.

    TRUMP threatens to end John THUNE’s career for urging GOP colleagues not to challenge Biden’s victory.

    Trump tweeted: “Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, ‘Mitch’s boy’, should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!”

    “Should just let it play out” is yet another rapey phrase from Trump.

  100. says

    7p hour recap: Trump pardons admitted liars, corrupt Republicans and Blackwater guards convicted of massacre on civilians; minutes later tells Congress to redo the stimulus/gov’t funding package it took them 9 months to pass in video taped in front of Christmas garland.”

  101. lumipuna says

    blf:

    SC@129, Chinanda invades Maine!

    It’s a tried and true tactic. First, you wait until the winter sets in, so that frozen bogs and dirt roads will support tanks. It makes defensive invasion much easier.

    Then, you find that the Mainese military (which is under the control of ruthless imperialist oligarchs) poses a grave security threat to Chinandian border regions. In response, a few Mainese border villages will be occupied swiftly and without too much fuss. Hardly even counts as a war, by the standards of Chinandian People’s Army.

    Then, you will find that Mainese workers have coincidentally just started a socialist revolution to overthrow their capitalist exploiters. In one of the occupied villages now sits is a revolutionary government of the Mainese Democratic Republic, supported by a handful of troops of the Mainese People’s Army. Coincidentally, both of these consist of Chinandian citizens who speak with a Mainese accent. They send a formal request of help to the Chinandian People’s Army, to defeat the imperialist Mainese government.

    Now, there is suddenly clear a objective for the Chinandian troops to advance straight into Maine’s capital, in solidarity with Mainese workers, and help the revolution succeed, for the mutual benefit of Maine and Chinanda. Imperialist resistance will be quickly overcome before the rest of the world even much notices what happened. Nothing can go wrong.

    (inspired by)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_Democratic_Republic

  102. says

    Guardian – “Russian MPs backs bills enabling Moscow to block US social media”:

    Russian authorities could gain powers to restrict access to US social media sites found to discriminate against Russian media, and to levy big fines on platforms that do not delete banned content, under bills passed by the parliament’s lower house.

    The authors of the two bills said infractions by YouTube and Facebook demonstrated the need for the legislation, which is part of a push to increase Russia’s internet sovereignty and has fuelled fears of creeping China-style controls.

    The first bill would allow Russia to restrict access to or fully block websites, following what lawmakers said were complaints from state outlets that their accounts were being treated with prejudice by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

    Twitter began labelling the accounts of several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated media“, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials in August, in a move decried by Russia at the time.

    The second bill would allow Russia to fine internet providers and sites between 10% and 20% of their previous year’s Russia-based turnover for repeatedly failing to remove banned content.

    The two bills are expected to become law, although they still need to be approved by the upper house and signed by the president, Vladimir Putin….

  103. says

    Guardian – “NHS chiefs urge PM to extend Brexit transition by a month”:

    NHS leaders have called on Boris Johnson to extend the Brexit transition period by a month, telling the prime minister that a no-deal exit could risk the health of patients during the Covid-19 crisis.

    Faced with an alarming rise in infections, they said a month’s delay would take the health service out of “the immediate danger zone” and would “enable the NHS to continue to focus on fighting the pandemic without having to contend with disruptive changes brought about by a no-deal outcome”.

    The call came in an NHS Confederation letter telling Johnson that “tough” action similar to the new tier 4 rules was needed to avoid a disruptive cliff-edge moment on 1 January and help protect the NHS.

    It said: “There are now nearly 19,000 patients in hospital with Covid-19, close to the first-wave peak, and the conveyor belt is picking up speed as we head into the festive period.”

    Health leaders said the NHS faced having to make significant adjustments in a short timespan as new rules, guidance and information would be introduced from 1 January without a deal.

    On Sunday the rate of recorded positive cases in the UK doubled over a week and the number of non-Covid patients waiting more than a year for treatment now stands at 160,000, according to the NHS Confederation. All this was happening as the vaccine rollout had begun while the workforce was tired and depleted, it said.

    The letter said: “The NHS might not be perceived to be on the Brexit negotiating table, but the disruption shockwaves from a no-deal outcome could push the NHS’s ability to function over the edge.

    “Given we are days away from the cliff edge, we urge you to extend the transition period by a month, buying the NHS a precious few extra weeks and enabling the UK to leave the EU after a one-year transition period.”…

  104. says

    Here’s a link to the December 23 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The UK’s home secretary Priti Patel has tweeted the border with France is reopening.

    [Patel’s tweet: “The UK-French border is reopening. Priority is to get lorries moving & mass testing is underway.

    We urge hauliers not to travel to Kent as we work to alleviate congestion – travelling now will slow things down. Tourist travellers who are not French residents should not travel.”]

  105. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Pfizer Inc will supply the US with 100m additional doses of its Covid-19 vaccine by July next year, the US drugmaker said.

    Wednesday’s agreement brings the total number of doses to be delivered to the United States to 200m.

    Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE will deliver at least 70 million doses by June 30, with the balance of the 100 million doses to be delivered no later than July 31.

    The US government already has a deal with Pfizer for 100 million doses of the vaccine, which are being rolled out across the country after the shot won emergency use authorisation earlier this month.

    Separately, Merck & Co said it will supply about 60,000-100,000 doses of its Covid-19 treatment to the US government for around $356m.

    The agreement will help support advanced development and large-scale manufacturing of Merck’s investigational therapeutic MK-7110 to treat hospitalized patients with severe or critical Covid-19, The US Department of Health and Human Services said.

  106. says

    AOC (responding to Pelosi’s call @ #134):

    Let’s do it. @RashidaTlaib and I already co-wrote the COVID amendment for $2,000 checks, so it’s ready to go.

    Glad to see the President is willing to support our legislation.

    We can pass $2k checks this week if the Senate GOP agrees to stand down….

    Schumer (responding to AOC):

    I’m in. Whaddya say, Mitch? Let’s not get bogged down with ideological offsets and unrelated items and just DO THIS! The American people deserve it. @senatemajldr

  107. says

    Akira @142, There can’t be any good motives behind Trump’s $2000 offer. Trump does not have any good motives.

    He’s angry at Mitch McConnell, so this announcement coming after the Senate has already gone home for the holidays could be, in part, just a way to give McConnell a metaphorical slap in the face. Trump did look uncommonly, evilly pleased with himself when he made the announcement.

    Trump may view this last minute wrench in the works as a way to punish all Republicans, not just Mitch McConnell. You know Trump doesn’t care about COVID relief in any real way.

    This could also be Trump’s way to get his base calling Congress critters to demand that they support Trump’s ridiculous January 6 attempt to overthrow the election results.

    To be sure, Trump has created a mess. His mention of other changes he would like to see in the bill has me worried. I think Trump also conflated the COVID relief bill with other funding bills.

  108. says

    Follow-up to comment 143.

    More details concerning Trump’s animus toward Mitch McConnell:

    […] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) grudgingly spoke on his chamber’s floor last week, congratulating President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election […] This week, [McConnell] received an email from the White House with a strange rejoinder from Donald Trump.

    A graphic was attached to the email, obtained by NBC News, and it showed a timeline of McConnell’s polling numbers since May against his 2020 Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath. It suggested that McConnell was re-elected only because of Trump. It said: “Sadly, Mitch forgot. He was the first one off the ship!”

    None of this made any sense. For one thing, plenty of other GOP elected officials had recognized Biden as the president-elect before McConnell did. For another, the idea that Trump was singlehandedly responsible for carrying the incumbent Kentucky Republican to victory is hilarious: the White House cherry-picked a relatively obscure poll to bolster a foolish point, but McConnell had a double-digit advantage for months.

    But far more important than the details is the underlying point: Trump believes he saved McConnell’s career, which in turn leads the outgoing president to believe McConnell has a responsibility to help the White House nullify the results of an election.

    Yes. Trump really does think like that.

    […] In Wisconsin, state Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn is a conservative jurist who recently ruled against a weak case filed by the Trump campaign. As Hagedorn sees it, he had a responsibility to put politics aside and follow the law.

    [Trump] responded by boasting that he helped elect Hagedorn — in Wisconsin, voters choose their state Supreme Court justices — suggesting the conservative had betrayed him. (Hagedorn and his family now have extra police protection.)

    Last night, Trump kept the offensive going, arguing via Twitter that Senate Republicans would be in the minority were not for his endorsements. […]

    the not-so-subtle subtext actually matters.

    Let’s say [Trump] was right about his electoral calculations. He’s not, but consider the hypothetical. Let’s say Mitch McConnell, Brian Hagedorn, and a legion of other GOP officeholders owe their careers to Donald Trump and his gracious political benevolence. He endorsed these Republicans, and Trump’s followers dutifully did as they were told, carrying these candidates to victory in races they otherwise would have lost.

    In Trump’s mind, this necessarily means they owe him. And what, specifically, do they owe? Based on this week’s tantrums, his successful endorsements mean that Republicans have a duty to assist his scheme to nullify election results.

    As far as Trump is concerned, he’s entitled to their fealty, no matter the nature of the request. He has, for all intents and purposes, bought it. […]

    This isn’t how reality works. Trump clearly doesn’t care.

    Link

  109. says

    Automatic voter registration reaches 20th state

    New York is the 20th state, plus the District of Columbia, to adopt AVR. Not bad for a policy that didn’t exist in any state as recently as five years ago.

    It wasn’t long ago that automatic voter registration was a policy limited to other advanced democracies. Slowly but surely, it’s gaining traction in the United States.

    The New York Daily News reported yesterday on the latest state to join the growing club.

    New York is streamlining voter registration by enacting an automatic process that will add eligible residents to the rolls when they interact with state or local government agencies. The law, signed Tuesday by [Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo], makes it so New Yorkers will automatically be registered or have their voter information updated when they have contact with the government, such as renewing a driver’s license through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    The article added that the new policy will be phased in gradually over the next few years. It’s expected to add 1 million New Yorkers to the voting rolls.

    […] When it comes to registering to vote in the United States, the burden has traditionally been on the individual: if you’re eligible to vote, it’s up to you to take the proactive steps needed to register. Automatic voter registration, which already exists in many of the world’s democracies, flips that model.

    […] As of today, it’s reached 40% of the nation’s states. The other 30 states tend to be Republican strongholds, led by GOP officials who are often reluctant to open up the electoral process, but AVR advocates continue to made progress in ways that were tough to predict in the recent past.

    Postscript: At the federal level, it’s worth noting that automatic voter registration is a key element of the House Democrats’ “For the People Act” (H.R. 1), a voting-rights package that cleared the chamber last year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to let the upper chamber consider the bill, calling it “socialist.”

  110. says

    Amid high unemployment claims, Trump slams economic relief bill

    The White House said Trump would sign the bipartisan economic relief package. Then he decided to condemn it as a “disgrace.”

    The new report from the Labor Department on weekly unemployment claims found 803,000 new filings last week, which was an improvement over some recent reports, though the total is still higher than the tallies from October and November.

    As discouraging as it is to see stubbornly high numbers of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, struggling families can take some comfort in the fact that help is on the way: after months of effort, Congress this week approved an economic relief package that would extend lifelines to those in need. The White House left no doubt that Donald Trump would sign the bill into law.

    Everything appeared to be more or less fine — until last night, when the outgoing president publicly condemned the aid package that’s awaiting his signature.

    “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 (direct payment) to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter showing him speaking from the White House….. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package,” Trump said….

    [Trump] quickly added that the next administration might be his, which served as a reminder that he’s still looking for ways to hold illegitimate power despite losing the national election.

    As part of the scripted tirade — these were written remarks, not offhand comments — Trump went so far as to describe the bipartisan compromise as “a disgrace.”

    The outgoing president’s harangue reportedly “stunned” some White House officials, which was the appropriate reaction: it was just a few days ago when Team Trump praised the relief package and assured everyone involved that the president would sign it into law. It’s one of the reason the legislation passed so easily, with 359 votes in the House, and 92 votes in the Senate.

    And yet, here we are.

    At this point, the main problem appears to be direct-aid payments. Congressional Democrats proposed checks as high as $1,200, while GOP leaders initially opposed direct-aid payments altogether. As part of the compromise, lawmakers agreed on $600 payments.

    As of late yesterday, Trump apparently believes his own party is wrong, prompting Democrats to announce plans to try to approve a direct-aid bill more in line with the president’s — and their own — preferred approach. Whether congressional Republicans will go along is unclear.

    Either way, the president had plenty of time to make these demands before the bill passed. It need not have been complicated: Trump simply had to say that he would oppose a relief plan unless it included $2,000 direct-aid checks. He could’ve picked up the phone and talked to his GOP allies on the Hill; he could’ve said something in a tweet; he could’ve alerted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to his wishes.

    Instead, Trump waited until the bill was done and approved — by way of a process he deliberately ignored and refused to participate in — at which point the confused president decided he didn’t like the compromise endorsed by his team after all.

    But let’s not lose sight of the extraordinary landscape. Trump has until today to follow through on his threat to veto funding for the U.S. military. He’s also now eyeing a possible veto of this week’s package, which includes both an economic relief plan and funding for the government through the end of the fiscal year. This is unfolding, naturally, the week of Christmas, with most lawmakers in their home districts.

    If [Trump] stays on this course, millions of Americans will lose federal unemployment aid the day after Christmas and the government will shut down a few days later. We might also soon see Congress vote twice to override Trump vetoes — once on the NDAA package for the military, and then again for the relief package the president considers a “disgrace.”

    No one can say with confidence what will happen next, but there are millions of American families in need of a lifeline who are left to wonder what kind of chaos Trump will create next.

  111. says

    The mob presidency: Trump pardons Republican thieves, co-conspirators, and war criminals

    Ever-shameless, Donald Trump is now using the pardon power to promote outright corruption. In a slew of pardons tonight, Trump used the power to sabotage convictions of private-contractor war criminals, an array of Republican elected officials caught using their office to engage in crimes, and two of Trump’s own allies who pled guilty to lying to federal law enforcement officials in an effort to block special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of communications between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

    […] in pardoning each of the disgraced House Republicans, Trump is clearly signaling his contempt for those that would attempt to hold his political allies to account.

    For good measure, and as reminder that aside from personal fealty of allies there are few things as seemingly dear to Trump’s heart as torturing or killing the innocent, Trump has also pardoned four Blackwater private contractors responsible for killing 17 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, an act that fomented terrorism against U.S. forces for years afterwards.

    There’s no subtlety to these pardons, and its almost certain that they are the prelude to a host of even more egregious ones. Trump is using his office to immunize his allies from financial crimes and from lying to federal investigators, the two criminal acts that Trump himself has been attempting to dodge after misleading investigators and engaging in what appears to have been bank fraud. And he is pairing it with the pardon of those willing to commit violent crimes for what he believes to be good reasons—as far-right militias nationwide declare themselves ready to commit such violence in an attempt to keep Trump in power despite losing his bid for reelection.

  112. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Warms Self Over Yule Log Of Republican Senator Bones”

    Last night, Donald Trump blew up the stimulus, pardoned a bunch of war criminals and corrupt congressmen, and put a political hit out on the Senate’s second-ranking Republican. Because we’ve got 28 days until Joe Biden’s inauguration, and that lunatic is going to make each and every one of them a nightmare.

    “Trump is lashing out, and everyone is in the blast zone,” Axios’s Jonathan Swan wrote. “At this point, if you’re not in the ‘use the Department of Homeland Security or the military to impound voting machines’ camp, the president considers you weak and beneath contempt.”

    The plan is to force the entire GOP to pass one last loyalty test to prove that Trump will still control the Republican Party even when he’s out of office. It’s being spearheaded in the House by Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, that Q-loon from Georgia who’s about to make Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wish he’d never been born.

    After a long phone call with the president on Saturday, Taylor Greene and the rest of the derp squad — Reps. Gaetz, Gohmert, Jordan, Brooks, and more! — were at the White House Monday night planning which states’ electoral college totals they’ll be objecting to when the House convenes on Jan. 6 to certify the presidential election. Safe bet they’ll throw maximum sand in the gears by objecting to Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    […] After the Republicans’ anti-democracy interpretative dance fails to carry the House, it will go to the Senate, where it will run right into the cold, hard reality of Mitch McConnell’s iron gavel. With the possible exception of incoming Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville, no one wants this. Even if the entire GOP voted to disregard the will of the voters, which they absolutely will not, the failure to carry the House means that Biden’s victory would still be certified. […] The entire exercise is a pointless demonstration of fealty to a guy who is on his way out the door, one last chance for Republicans to shout THE EMPEROR’S CLOTHES ARE REAL, AND THEY ARE FABULOUS.

    […] Even if the House Treason Caucus manages to pass the crazy baton off to Tuberville and some jackass like John Kennedy or Ted Cruz, the majority of Senate Republicans are going to vote against any Electoral College challenge. The only effect this will have is to force the entire caucus to walk the plank and publicly cross Donald Trump, which is why that vengeful old fool is trying to make it as expensive as possible for them. […]

    Here on Planet Earth, Mitch McConnell was never in any danger, and John Thune took 71 percent of the vote in South Dakota in 2016. Which was a slightly worse margin of victory than he pulled down in 2010, when he faced no Democratic challenger and racked up 100 percent. […]

    But Grandpa Loonytunes was undeterred, giving a 14-minute speech so full of nutbaggery that CNN’s indefatigable fact-checker Daniel Dale deemed it “too bonkers, repetitive and irrelevant to bother fact checking at this point.” The president ended the rant by exhorting Congress to “send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID-19 relief package, and maybe that administration will be me, and we will get it done.”

    Spoiler Alert: It will not be him, but he will burn everything down on his way out of town. Merry Christmas, Gippers!

    Link

  113. tomh says

    Trump’s Chaos Ploy
    Mike Allen, Glen Johnson

    Advisers to President Trump tell Axios three forces drove last night’s twin bombshells — a slew of pardons for his allies and a last-hour attack on the $900 billion stimulus bill as a “disgrace.”

    1. Because he can: As Jonathan Swan has explained, Trump loves pardons for the same reason he relishes executive orders — pure power and instant gratification. A longtime Trump official says that pardons are uniquely satisfying to Trump because he can overturn the work of another branch of government, the judiciary.

    2. He wants attention: As the nation moves on from the election and President-elect Biden names a Cabinet and addresses the nation, Trump — mostly out of sight for the past seven weeks — “sees Biden being relevant every day,” one presidential adviser said. That helps explain the video Trump tweeted 14 minutes after announcing the pardons, calling on Congress to increase “ridiculously low” stimulus checks from $600 for an individual to $2,000.

    3. It splits the party: Trump wants the Republican Party to remain beholden to him, and is desperate to retain his GOP power past Jan. 20. Top Republicans are increasingly queasy about the two runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will determine which party controls the Senate. Last night’s White House actions undermine the GOP Senate candidates by fomenting turmoil and distraction, and robbing the senators of a clear win on the stimulus.

    Many of the pardons appear to have been granted on whim…

  114. says

    South Carolina Governor, First Lady Attend White House Holiday Party, Catch COVID-19

    Surprisingly literally no one, South Carolina’s Republican, Trump-boosting Gov. Henry McMaster announced Tuesday that he’s tested positive for the coronavirus. Thanks to his superb stewardship, everyone in South Carolina is going to have it at some point, and this was his turn. Last week, the governor’s wife, Peggy McMaster, took a routine test that confirmed she also had the virus. The first lady’s been running with COVID bare faced for a while now. […]

    Both these dummies attended Donald Trump’s Christmas death galas. This ain’t Easter and there’s no guarantee anyone’s getting resurrected. Jentezen Franklin, the lead pastor of some megamart Atlanta church, also caught COVID-19 at one of these parties. […]

    South Carolina […] has not managed the COVID-19 crisis all that well. There are at least 278,055 confirmed cases so far. That’s almost three times as many cases as Oregon with its tyrannical Democratic governor who wants to keep people alive.

    McMaster […] was among the last governors to issue a stay-at-home order. […] He’s also opposed a mask mandate in rank defiance of science: A study from October showed that a national mask mandate would save 130,000 lives by February 2021. But, hey, McMaster has his reasons. They’re just real dumb. […]

    If McMaster can count, he should know by now that most states with mask mandates have lower incidents of COVID-19 than states that don’t. It’s not cheating to copy their work. South Carolina and Georgia are both averaging roughly 5,000 cases per 100,000 residents. Oregon and Washington are averaging 2,278 and 2,811 cases per 100,000 residents, respectively. It’s as if Democratic governors listen to doctors and not Newsmax.

    Georgia doesn’t have a mask mandate, either, and residents are just “strongly encouraged to wear face coverings as practicable.” Most don’t think it’s “practicable,” and are more likely to carry a gun inside a bar or restaurant than wear a mask. […]

    Henry and Peggy McMaster are both 73 so this COVID’s no joke. However, they’ll have access to some VIP antibody treatments. Most people who can grasp “cause and effect” link a recent surge in cases to indoor holiday parties, but the governor’s office stresses that the McMasters can’t be sure where they got it. […]

    It’s now two shopping days until Christmas. Baby, please stay home.

  115. says

    […] CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has a report out about how the Pentagon is freaking the fuck out about what Trump is going to do next, so that’s awesome, especially considering how Sidney Powell is trying to get Trump to HEREBY ORDER the voting machines seized, and disgraced traitor Michael Flynn has been nudging Trump toward trying to declare martial law in swing states he lost to overturn the election. In other words, a literal military coup.

    The quotes are probably not quotes you should read if you were already on edge today.

    “We don’t know what he might do,” says one officer in the Pentagon. “We are in strange times,” says another officer. […]

    Will the President order some unexpected military action, such as a strike on Iran, or will he somehow draw the military into his efforts to overthrow the election results?

    It’s a troubling enough scenario that military leaders have taken the unusual step of publicly stating that they will not play a role in deciding an American election. […]

    One officer said people are making “lists” of everything they can think of that the President might do.

    That’s actually a really good thing. It’s thorough. We hope the list goes all the way up to and surpasses Hitler shit, because when you’re dealing with dregs of humanity like Donald Trump […]

    Starr reports that the Pentagon has been freaking out ever since Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and put in some idiot, and replaced all the rest of the top leadership with rotting trash from under the seats of Devin Nunes’s clown car. But they REALLY started freaking out Friday after Trump’s meeting with the Krakhead and the Traitor. That, combined with Michael Flynn going on Newsmax and whispering about martial law was what led the Pentagon to actually feel it had to say out loud that actually, no, the military would not be participating in coups to overturn the election.

    A day after Flynn’s Newsmax video aired, Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff, and Ryan McCarthy, the Army secretary and a Trump appointee, issued a terse statement saying, “There is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of an American election.”

    Yep, that’s where we are.

    […] Several military officials tell CNN that for the remainder of his term, if Trump issues any orders, the key will be whether they are determined to be legal. If they are not legal, and the President cannot be talked out of potential illegal orders, it could raise difficult questions about what senior military leaders do next.

    If they are legal — even if distasteful — they will be followed. If they are not legal, and the President cannot be talked out of them, the situation could raise dire questions about whether senior military leaders feel they can stay on the job.

    […] Make the un-American loser fire you, for the 28 days left he still has that authority. It’s that simple.

    Never-Trumper person Bill Kristol, whom we used to hate but don’t hate quite as much as we used to, because these years are weird, spoke to some of his own sources and seemed to corroborate what Barbara Starr has been hearing: […] “The senior military obviously retain considerable clout, to say the least. But the discussions they’re having among themselves are unprecedented […]”

    Kristol says to watch to see what happens on Dec. 24. You know, Christmas Eve, when you’d normally be with family and/or friends, but instead, because of Donald Trump’s murderous incompetence and inability to accept his status as the world’s biggest loser, you won’t be doing that, because 2020 is Donald Trump’s year of the greatest amount of death in American history, and it’s not safe.

    So he’ll probably ruin the weak excuse we get for Christmas this year, because he destroys everything he touches.

    All of our other emotions about this are unpublishable, the end.

    Link

  116. says

    […] Donald Trump took to the Twitters yesterday to proclaim that Monday’s coronavirus stimulus bill was not to his liking, because it contained too many things he didn’t think had anything to do with the coronavirus pandemic, and he didn’t think the $600 per person direct payments were nearly enough. We actually agree on the latter — more money in people’s pockets is desperately needed. But in his long rant against the bill, he kept listing items that actually weren’t part of the stimulus, because they were actually part of the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that’s supposed to keep the government running for the rest of the fiscal year, until Sept. 30, 2021. The $900 billion stimulus bill was attached to that.

    Dude, you’re the “president” of the United States. People could explain that to you before you go on TV and lie about shit. […]

    Does Trump actually know that virtually everything he complained about — foreign aid, funding for the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center, and various conservation programs (why are we spending stimulus money on fish?) — aren’t actually part of the stimulus? […] If last night’s snit actually does result in Trump’s not signing the bill (far from a guarantee), we suppose Congress could simply pass both the omnibus and the stimulus as separate bills so they can go home. Surely everyone will consider that a week or three well spent, especially folks who end up getting evicted because of the delay.

    […] Trump was lying when he said that “family members of illegal aliens” will “get up to $1,800 each. This is far more than the Americans are given.” It’s some impressive bullshit, because while the numbers for an adult (for two separate stimmy payments) do total $1,800, that’s precisely the total every other American adult will get, but several months apart. It’s outrageous to anyone who hasn’t figured out object permanence yet.

    […] The Washington Post reports that Trump actually recorded his little rant about five hours before it went up on Twitter, and that its existence was kept hidden from most White House aides by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — who had to know the stimulus and the omnibus spending provisions were in different parts of the package — until shortly before the thing went up. The Post adds,

    “[Trump] released the video Tuesday after a number of his aides, including Meadows, were already out of town.”

    “So dumb,” one administration official said. “So, so dumb.”

    So this should make the process of getting help to Americans hurt by the economic fallout of the pandemic a lot more complicated, unless Trump can be persuaded to just sign the damn thing and insist he won. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/trump-blows-up-the-stimmy-maybe

  117. says

    Hoping to counter Democratic messaging in Georgia, Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue launched ads yesterday touting the new economic relief package — right before Donald Trump denounced the agreement as a “disgrace.”

  118. says

    What happened to Maria Bartiromo?

    Washington Post link

    Maria Bartiromo is the solo host of more than 16 hours of television every week on […] Fox News and Fox Business. It’s a number unmatched by nearly everyone in her profession […]

    Nearly four weeks after the election, the president of the United States had granted his first interview since a defeat he refused to accept — and Bartiromo was the journalist he chose.

    It seemed, fleetingly, like a fulfillment of the great expectations that the media world had for Bartiromo going back 25 years when she was a vibrant new presence in cable news, a young woman breaking barriers in financial journalism and going toe-to-toe with the corporate titans and stock-market wizards of the era, many of them men twice her age.

    But then her interview with President Trump on that day’s “Sunday Morning Futures” began.

    “Mr. President, you have said many times that this election was rigged, that there was much fraud and the facts are on your side,” Bartiromo opened. “Let’s start there. Please go through the facts. Characterize what took place.”

    What followed was a nearly uninterrupted monologue propelled by the president’s baseless claims. Trump insisted that something mysterious had happened election night, when it appeared he was far ahead in key states and then suddenly was not. In fact, it was the predictable phenomenon of big-city votes taking longer to count, combined with this year’s late-counted surge of absentee ballots that surveys had long indicated would be dominated by Democrats.

    Far from challenging Trump on these assertions, Bartiromo backed him up: “Then they did dumps,” she said, in the parlance of election conspiracy theorists. “Big massive dumps, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and all over.” If anything, she seemed to buy completely into the president’s evidence-free claims of fraud that have been repeatedly rejected by federal and state officials, including many of Trump’s own allies and appointees. “This is disgusting,” she said, “and we cannot allow America’s election to be corrupted.” […]

    on the eve of the electoral college vote that formalized Joe Biden’s victory […] she listened unquestioningly as her guest Michael Flynn, the retired general and short-term national security adviser whom Trump pardoned for lying to the FBI, said that if someone asked him on a scale of 1 to 10, who will be the next president, “I say 10, Donald Trump.” The next morning, she went on air and declared that she had “an intel source telling me that President Trump did in fact win the election.”

    Bartiromo’s comment had one left-leaning journalist describing her on Twitter as “basically a North Korean news anchor now.” […]

    What happened to Maria Bartiromo? She maintains she’s no MAGA die-hard — just a journalist motivated by a search for truth. Her take on Trump: “Here is this guy who comes from Queens, New York, doesn’t care what he says and who he says it to, goes into Washington to drain the swamp. . . . And I think his presence threatened some people’s viability.”

    In other words, a highly relatable character for another outer-borough kid who managed to press her way into Manhattan’s moneyed corridors.

    “Ever since I started covering President Trump and covering the coup and the effort to take him down, I became the enemy of the media and the activists and the mobs,” she said in an interview with The Washington Post, again echoing his language (as well as some of his hard-wired sense of grievance). […]

    In 2019, Fox renewed her reportedly $6 million contract.

    […] On air for CNBC at age 26, she soared to fame as the first reporter to broadcast from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, channeling the voices of the traders and executives she covered. She was the public face of the network, traveling the world on promotional tours as CNBC sought international distribution and recognition. With dark hair and luminous wide-set eyes that some compared to Sophia Loren, she was dubbed the “Money Honey,” a term she trademarked. Joey Ramone wrote a song about her.

    Yet she was never known for hard-hitting interviews. […] “You will get a fair hearing on my show, and I will let you tell me the story, and I will give you the time to communicate it,” she explained in an interview […] Naturally, that was the kind of interview corporate chiefs would grant. And Bartiromo seemed inclined to help them burnish their images. When Vikram Pandit abruptly stepped down as the chief executive of Citigroup in 2012 in the wake of the financial crisis that left millions of Americans enraged by banking policies, Bartiromo struck a sympathetic note […]

    Pandit, she argued, was probably tired of “getting bashed and bashed and bashed again by [President Obama] — by the populists. […]

    Bartiromo, meanwhile, failed to note that Pandit’s $1 salary was ancient history; by then he was earning a pay package worth more than $14 million.

    In 2014, after more than 20 years at CNBC, Bartiromo heard from her old boss, Ailes, who was eager to find a way to hire her at Fox. […]

    Neither could have anticipated that fellow New Yorker Donald Trump would come to the White House a short two years later and take control of the country’s political life.

    Her hard-wired Wall Street sympathies resonated with the new administration’s economic agenda […] it soon became clear that Bartiromo’s White House cheerleading went well beyond tax policy. She was one of the few to offer her solid approval of Trump’s disastrous August 2017 news conference in which he insisted there were “some very fine people on both sides” of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville […]

    the White House has granted Bartiromo multiple interviews with Trump, most recently in August, October and November. This past year, she continued to drift from economic issues to chime in with her support of Team Trump’s favorite topics, such as questioning the origins of Robert S. Mueller III’s report and attacking the media.

    […] “We are meant to hold people in power accountable, which means asking tough questions,” said S.E. Cupp, a political commentator and CNN host. “The person in the highest position of power in this country is the president, and when you are giving the president a pass, that’s not journalism, it’s an infomercial.”

    […] In Bartiromo’s telling, it was her doubts about the Russia investigation that drew her closer to the Trump worldview. She openly criticized Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, repeatedly claiming that the origins of the investigation were politically motivated and “a coup to take him down,” as she said in an April interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). […]

    Like many Trump allies, she speaks as though the fact the investigation led to no criminal charges against the president means the entire enterprise was bogus from the outset. Mueller made it clear that the investigation did not exonerate Trump, citing 10 incidents in which Trump potentially obstructed the investigation, a matter that Mueller said was Congress’s responsibility to pursue.

    Her conviction that the rest of the media is biased against Trump now extends to social media. […]

    She’s going to have to be a bit more careful covering claims of election fraud. Bartiromo was one of several Fox hosts, including Dobbs, who were forced to air a corrective segment on their shows in response to a legal threat sent by voting technology company Smartmatic. Bartiromo was mentioned 46 times in the letter to Fox, the most of any Fox personality, largely for giving so much airtime to Trump allies Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

    […] But at the end of the debunking segment Sunday, Bartiromo smiled and delivered a promise: “So, that is where we stand right now. We will keep investigating.”

    More at the link. Video snippets are available at the link.

  119. blf says

    Lynna@98, “my theory is that it is the garlic/butter combination that tastes good … not the snails.”

    Possibly. Those are (typically) the Burgundy snail (Helix pomatia), which is kind-of amusing, as they are (apparently) difficult to farm. I’ve never had them other than in the classic butter+garlic manner.

    Locally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, bulot (welks, Buccinum undatum) are what is usually eaten. They are Ok without added whatever, but I usually eat them with dipped in an aïoli (broadly, “garlic and olive oil”, of which there are many variants).

    Right here in the village a gentlemen farms(? ranches? wrangles?) Helix aspersa (common garden snail, now known as Cornu aspersum). He doesn’t have a website, but from memory, he sells a salad dressing made from them; a dip(? Pâté?); and au naturel (nude snails!), which I’ve usually added to Risotto. When I lived in California, I was vastly amused to learn the local garden snail pest is a delicacy here in France. Now I’ve got a jar of them all naked and begging to be eaten…

    A local restaurant does a wonderful snails & MUSHROOMS! cassoulet — I dunno what snails the chef uses, but suspect it’s Helix aspersa.

  120. says

    blf @156, thanks for all of the snail information. I had no idea. The aïoli for dipping sounds like a good plan.

    In other news: Trump’s Late Call For $2,000 Stimulus Checks Makes Multimillionaire Kelly Loeffler Squirm

    […] Trump’s after-the-fact pronunciation Tuesday night that he wanted to send Americans $2,000 checks — rather than the $600 that congressional Republicans had begrudgingly agreed to — has left the two Republican senators currently campaigning in Georgia in a tight spot.

    On Wednesday, the richest member of Congress wasn’t willing to say that she supported the President’s call to amend legislation […]

    Instead, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) simply said she would… take a look at it.

    “I certainly support redirecting any wasteful spending to be very targeted at families and businesses who have been impacted by this virus through no fault of their own,” she told reporters […]

    Pressed again on the $2,000 figure, Loeffler said only, “I’ll certainly look at supporting it if it repurposes wasteful spending for that, yes.”

    Loeffler will be on the Jan. 5 runoff election ballot alongside Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who has yet to comment on the President’s larger check proposal.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats in the Jan. 5 runoff election — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff — immediately said they fully supported quickly amending the stimulus package to change the $600 check amount to $2,000, matching calls from Democrats’ congressional leadership.

    The Democratic Party smells blood.

    “At a time when Georgians are struggling to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads, Senator Kelly Loeffler still won’t fully commit to increasing economic stimulus checks as soon as possible even when the president she supports ‘100%’ calls for it,” state party spokesperson Alex Floyd said in a statement.

    “There’s bipartisan support for delivering more relief to Georgians, but Loeffler would rather take a victory lap for a bill she didn’t help write and one Trump called a ‘disgrace’ than work to secure more aid for Georgians.”

    […] They could support the President’s new call for more money — one that White House aides reportedly talked Trump out of making while the stimulus package was actually being negotiated — or stay in line behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), perhaps angering Trump himself and cash-strapped supporters of his Georgia.

    To twist the knife further: Perdue and Loeffler’s races were, reportedly, the primary reason for McConnell decision to support direct payments in the final weeks of 2020, after months of opposing them.

    In a call with Republicans last week, McConnell said Loeffler and Perdue were “getting hammered” for not doing more to provide aid to Americans, The New York Times reported. That, the Times reported, was the basis for McConnell (and, following him, Republicans in the Senate) to come to the table on direct payments. Loeffler and Perdue touted their vote for the COVID-19 relief package — the one with $600 checks — on Tuesday. […]

    The late pressure from Trump may only play into existing anger from some die-hard supporters of the President, who allege that Perdue and Loeffler (and, for that matter, McConnell himself) are insufficiently supportive of the President and his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

  121. says

    Trump Tells Congress He’s Vetoing Defense Bill That Would Strip Confederate Names From Bases

    […] Trump on Wednesday officially informed Congress that he was vetoing the year-end defense package, citing, among other things, Congress’ insistence on renaming military installations named after generals in the Confederacy.

    The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, Trump said, “includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history.”

    The legislation passed both houses of Congress with more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

    “Over the course of United States history, these locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes,” Trump added in his statement.

    “My Administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who, from these locations, have fought, bled, and died for their country.”

    Trump also complained about against Congress’ failure to terminate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which generally holds that websites are not liable for what users post on them. Section 230, Trump said, “facilitates the spread of foreign disinformation online, which is a serious threat to our national security and election integrity.”

    Section 230 has become a hobbyhorse for some Republicans, including Trump, who have baselessly alleged that social media outlets suppress conservative voices. In recent months, Trump has raged about Twitter fact-checking his claims of election fraud. […]

  122. says

    New York Attorney General Letitia James rebuked Trump.

    […] During an interview with SiriusXM’s Dean Obeidallah that aired Wednesday, the host asked James about Trump’s fruitless efforts to overturn election results, which included his meeting with Flynn at the White House. The New York attorney general slammed Trump’s nonsensical tactics as an “act of sedition.”

    “The days of President Trump are closely coming to an end. And the reality is is that this is an act of sedition,” James said. “This president is engaging in illegality, and the fact that he would even consider martial law is an affront to our values, and to the Constitution.”

    James reiterated that “the people have spoken” as she implored Trump to accept the outcome of the election “as opposed to trying to find fraud where none exists.”

    […] “And the reality is that this is nothing more than an attempt by President Trump to raise money. It’s fundraising. That’s all that this is. Fundraising. And that’s all that he cares about,” James said. “He’s in the White House, and he stews on the fact that he’s a loser, and he lost this election, and unfortunately he’s finding it hard to accept. He lost.”

    James also called out Republicans in Congress who are “basically validating this behavior of this President.” James doubled down on her assertion that Trump is “engaging in a seditious act.”

    James anticipated that “there’s more to come” next month when Congress meets to certify the Electoral College results that cements President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, a process that James noted as “normally nothing more than a ministerial act.”

    “Members of Congress in all likelihood will again try to circumvent the will of the people, undermine our democracy, and delay or attempt to delay the fact that Vice President Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris will soon be sworn in on January 20,” James said.

    Link

  123. says

    Trump’s Very Swampy Pardon of a Ben Carson Crony

    It wasn’t just war criminals, Mueller probe felons, and crooked congressmen.

    […] Among these scurrilous pardons, one has slipped by without much notice: the pardon of a Pittsburgh oral surgeon named Alfonso Costa, who committed criminal health care fraud. Costa just happened to be a close friend of Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and he had helped Carson pocket hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of dollars.

    It is another example of how the Trump swamp works.

    In 2007, Costa and a partner were charged with health care fraud for defrauding insurance companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, of $44,000. They pleaded guilty. Carson sent a gushing letter to a federal judge in Pittsburgh asking for leniency for Costa, who he has called his “best friend.” (Carson wrote that “next to my wife of 32 years, there is no one on this planet I trust more than Al Costa.”) Costa was sentenced to three years probation, one year of house arrest, 100 hours of community service. He was ordered to pay restitution of $44,000 and a $250,000 fine. His dental license was revoked. He served two years of probation. Costa did his community service working for Carson’s charity.

    But Costa was more than a close friend to Carson. He was a business partner. […] Carson had close business links with a real estate firm Costa owned called Costa Land Management. (Carson did not mention this in his letter to the judge.) And Costa’s company helped oversee a lucrative investment for Carson and his wife.

    […] Costa, who met Carson in the 1990s, was key to Carson’s acquisition of a profitable multi-million-dollar commercial real estate property:

    Carson [in 2007] created two limited liability corporations in Pennsylvania—BenCan LLC and INBS LLC—that listed Costa’s residence at that time as their address. (And they still do, though Costa sold that house in 2011.) Shortly after their formation, the companies were used to purchase an office building in Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb. Real estate records list Carson as the owner of BenCan and his wife Candy as the owner of INBS; the couple jointly purchased the building for $3 million, $2.4 million of which they borrowed. On both the mortgage and the deed, Carson and his wife state their official addresses as Costa’s office. Many of the publicly available documents associated with this property, including lease agreements, are signed not by Carson or his wife, but by various executives from the Costa Land Company, including the outfit’s chief operating officer, Sarah Piccione. […]

    These LLCs made the Carsons between $200,000 and $2 million a year, according to the candidate financial disclosure form Carson filed in 2015.

    At the time, the Carson campaign refused to discuss the details of Carson’s business relationship with Costa. After the stories on Carson and Costa appeared, Carson released a statement: “Al Costa is my best friend. Al Costa is my very best friend. I know his heart. I am proud to call him my friend. I have always and will continue to stand by him. That is what real friends do!”

    And there was more to the Carson-Costa story. We discovered a curious item on Carson’s financial form. He listed a plot of land in West Palm Beach worth $1 million to $5 million and described the property as “CPC Grand Prix South Lot.” But Palm Beach County real estate records showed no Carson ownership of such a lot. Those records only registered Carson’s ownership of his personal residence, a home on a golf course in West Palm Beach that had been purchased for $775,000 in 2013. […] there was a mystery: How did Carson own the Palm Beach property listed on the disclosure form?

    There was one clue. According to Palm Beach County real estate records, Costa’s real estate company purchased a lot in a development called Grand Prix Village South in March 2014 for $2.8 million. Was this connected to Carson’s real estate investment? Was Costa fronting for Carson? Was Carson sharing this investment with the felonious fraudster?

    […] Costa has done much for and with Carson. He has worked with Carson’s charity. He has taken family vacations with the Carsons, including to Costa’s luxury property on the Amalfi coast. (The “most beautiful spot on earth,” Carson has said.) He has helped Carson acquire a large amount of cash. And Carson, who has loyally served Trump for years, used his influence and requested the pardon for Costa.

    Pardons are supposed to be used to correct miscarriages of justice. Of course, Trump sees them as gifts he can dole out to reward loyalists and cronies or to score political points. In this case, it appears Trump was doing a personal favor for Carson, who was doing a personal favor for an old buddy who made him money. It’s not the most egregious of Trump’s pardons. But it is a reminder that Trump has kept the swamp alive.

  124. says

    Beyoncé gives families facing eviction $5,000 each.

    Beyoncé announced a donation to families facing eviction through her foundation, BeyGOOD, in partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    The artist and performer has donated more than $1 million to people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

    A nationwide eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of the year unless President Trump agrees to sign the stimulus legislation. […]

    Link

  125. says

    Green groups sue over Trump bid to open Alaska’s Tongass forest to logging.

    A coalition of environmental groups is suing the Trump administration after it lifted protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, expanding logging in the nation’s largest old growth forest.

    […] Under the Trump administration’s changes, the nearly 9.4 million acres of inventoried roadless land in the Tongass would once again be considered suitable timberlands.

    “The large roadless areas of the Tongass provide outstanding habitat for a remarkable diversity of wildlife. Stripping protections from this forest to allow for road construction, clear cut logging, and other destructive activities will degrade water quality, accelerate climate change impacts, and threaten local economies,” Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation, said in a release announcing the suit. “The U.S. Forest Service ignored public input from Indigenous tribes, local communities and tens of thousands of people across the country, and it violated the law. The administration left us no choice but to go to court to protect this remarkable place for future generations.”

    The suit, filed by a coalition of 13 environmental groups on behalf of several tribes, argues the Forest Service did not properly consult with Alaska tribes when making their decision or fully weigh the environmental consequences of the decision. […]

    Courts have already questioned the Trump administration’s plans for the forest. In March, a U.S. district court judge wrote the agency failed to fully consider the environmental impacts of a project that opened logging in more than 1.8 million acres of the Tongass over the next 15 years. […]

    Link

  126. says

    Vaccine opponents outline online campaigns to sow distrust in coronavirus vaccine.

    Washington Post link

    The pandemic has catalyzed anti-vaccine advocates with huge social media followings.

    Leaders of anti-vaccine groups described the coming coronavirus vaccine as a pivotal opportunity to sow distrust in vaccination and laid out planned online campaigns to do so, according to a report from an organization opposing misinformation online.

    The report, from the U.K.-based Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), quoted leaked audio from an October conference in which the leaders, many of whom have huge social media followings, discussed strategies to encourage skepticism and fear of vaccines in the months ahead.

    […] Facebook bans misinformation about the coronavirus and the vaccine, but falsehoods about the virus have slipped through the cracks throughout the pandemic. The company has created a gray area by permitting users to form groups that question and attack vaccines, some of which have hundreds of thousands of members. False claims unrelated to the virus are sent to the platform’s network of third-party fact-checkers, and such stories are left up with a fact-checking label.

    Some of the tactics discussed during the online conference from the National Vaccine Information Center include coordinating a message, or “master narrative,” that the virus is not dangerous and that organizations that promote vaccines are not trustworthy, according to the report.

    That includes pushing misleading story lines — for example, focusing on instances when people experienced side effects from the vaccine and using those examples to argue dangerous side effects will be widespread.

    Another strategy is to target online health influencers with large followings […]

    […] Anti-vaccine conspiracy-theory accounts grew by nearly 50 percent over the year, starting at 15.5 million followers in 2019 and rising to 23.1 million by December 2020, the report said.

    Overall, the 425 anti-vaccine accounts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have 59.2 million followers, nearly 877,000 more than they had in June. […]

  127. tomh says

    Abortion Foes Ordered to Pay Planned Parenthood $13.6 Million in Legal Fees
    December 23, 2020 NICHOLAS IOVINO

    SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — On top of over $2 million in damages a court ordered he and his anti-abortion cohorts to pay last year for secretly recording abortion providers, David Daleiden and his associates were hit with another $13.6 million bill for Planned Parenthood’s legal costs this week…

    Daleiden and Merritt infiltrated abortion industry conferences from 2013 to 2015, posing as exhibitors with a phony human tissue procurement company called BioMax. Using fake IDs to gain access, the pair secretly recorded conversations with abortion providers that were later posted online…

    Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, which represented Planned Parenthood pro bono, said some of the money will be used to reimburse its client for out-of-pocket costs. The remainder will be donated to the Arnold & Porter foundation, which provides scholarships to minority law students, funds fellowships for recent law school grads at nonprofits and awards grants to other charities…

  128. says

    Trump is missing in action … again. He flew to Mar-a-Lago yesterday after throwing multiple wrenches into multiple funding plans—plans that already been passed with bipartisan support.

    Here is an update:

    Congressional Republicans on Thursday [Today!] rejected Democrats’ initial attempt to bump up direct relief checks to $2,000 in response to […] Trump’s demands.

    In less than a minute on the House floor, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) rejected the unanimous consent request […]

    The move wasn’t a surprise — Republicans only begrudgingly accepted that the COVID-19 stimulus package would include $600 direct checks because of the crucial runoff elections in Georgia — but it underlined the turmoil into which Trump has thrown Congress.

    Democratic House leadership said Thursday that they would bring the $2,000 question to a vote Monday, forcing Republicans to go on-record opposing what their party leader has called for.

    “Today, on Christmas Eve morning, House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2,000 that the President agreed to support,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.) said in a statement. “If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction.”

    “To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need,” Pelosi added.

    The consequences of inaction are severe: Federal supplemental jobless benefits for Americans, $300 per week, is set to expire on Saturday. The compromise stimulus bill would extend them through mid-March, on top of additional money for businesses, the direct checks to individuals, an extension of the federal eviction moratorium, and billions for food assistance, vaccine distribution and other measures.

    Some Republicans openly voiced their frustration at the President’s last-minute demands for more money.

    “Why didn’t the president say this before?” outgoing Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said in a radio interview Wednesday. “Why did his administration say it had to be $600? They were the ones driving this.”

    Good questions!

    […] Democrats on Thursday also blocked a Republican unanimous consent request, that to reexamine some of the foreign aid money Trump targeted in his after-the-fact speech panning the stimulus bill. The figures Trump cited would equate to an extra $14 on Americans’ stimulus checks, the American Prospect calculated. [Petty!]

    As Trump left Washington Wednesday, White House aides received “an avalanche of angry messages from GOP lawmakers and consultants,” the Washington post reported.

    A private conference call with House Republicans, quotes from which were leaked to various reporters, showed the bitter mood.

    “This bill has been tainted,” McCarthy acknowledged on the call, per The New York Times.

    “I don’t know if we recover from this,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said separately, per the Times. “We will have a hell of a time getting this out of people’s head.”

    Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), who according to several reports said on the call that Trump had thrown Republicans under the bus, said afterward that the White House “was updated on this bill every step of the way by GOP Leadership. The COVID Supplemental is a good compromise and the President should take it.”

    Link

  129. says

    Follow-up to comment 165.

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Trump is the anti-Santa Claus, pardoning the naughty and depriving the hungry of needed relief, in a Scrooge-like manner. Now who hates Christmas?
    —————
    It’s tough to be between your monster and the peasants with torches and pitch forks.
    —————
    This late in the game and the treason party still doesn’t understand who/what they let run free in the WH? I know they can’t feel shame, but shit, boys, it’s embarrassing.
    ——————
    Trump hunkered down with Meadows and said these bastards are abandoning me, how can I fuck them?
    ——————-
    .@JakeSherman to Sen. Blunt: “what’s the way out of this?”

    Blunt: “The best way out of this is for the President to sign the bill.”

    Me: “OK what’s the second best way?”

    Blunt: “Uhh — let’s hope the best way works, second best way is a lot more challenging.”
    —————————–
    While Trump plays golf in Florida…
    – service members get no raise, thanks to his NDAA veto
    – renters face eviction (aid in COVID bill)
    – unemployment benefits ending (extension in COVID bill)
    – no relief check at all, not even the $600
    – gov’t shutdown Monday, amid pandemic

  130. says

    Nerd @167, thanks. I missed that.

    If Trump wanted to sow dissension in Republican ranks, he has succeeded.

    A Republican congressman tore into […] Trump Wednesday night for finding fault with parts of the COVID-19 stimulus and government package that were also in the White House’s budget proposal.

    Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) specifically took issue with the President’s claims — which Trump made in the same secretly-filmed Tuesday night video in which he suddenly supported $2,000 stimulus checks — that Congress should not have designated certain funds for foreign countries in the package.

    The stimulus bill was part of a broader omnibus spending bill, and as Gonzalez correctly noted, the White House had proposed some of the same funds that Trump attacked in his remarks Tuesday.

    If @realDonaldTrump didn’t want money going to foreign countries, he shouldn’t have asked for it. 100% of the items he complained about last night were either a lie (i.e. illegals aren’t getting $1800) or things in HIS budget (all the foreign aid).

    […] “The covid deal had none of the pork that is being discussed,” the congressman said. “It was, however, combined with the omnibus. The omni had tons of pork. Again, though, this was Trump’s pork.”

    The congressman didn’t say whether he supported increasing per-person checks to $2,000, as Democrats support and Trump recently announced he would as well.

    Gonzalez also called Trump out for saying, in Trump’s words on Tuesday, that “the bill also allows stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing them to get up to $1,800 each. This is far more than the Americans are given.”

    In fact, the bill merely allows for the citizen or green-card-holding family members of undocumented people to get stimulus money themselves.

    The $1,800 figure Trump cited would be the same as what citizens get — the $1,200 allocated in the CARES Act earlier this year, plus the $600 in the new stimulus package. The CARES Act prohibited American citizens who have undocumented family members from collecting the $1,200 given to everyone else. The new stimulus bill would compensate for that, in the form of a tax rebate.

    The House GOP “has stood by him for 4 years,” Gonzalez said of Trump.

    “If he thinks going on twitter and trashing the bill his team negotiated and we supported on his behalf is going to bring more people to his side in this election fiasco, I hope he’s wrong, though I guess we’ll see,” Gonzalez said.

    Link

  131. says

    Follow-up to comment 168.

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    “The House GOP “has stood by him for 4 years,” Gonzalez said of Trump.”
    Well, that was your first mistake. Or your millionth by the time this all ends.
    ————————
    There is precious little evidence that Trump fully understands or even knows what’s in his budget or the bills in question, what he knows is that his days are numbered and he’s decompensating accordingly; i.e., virtually everyone is an enemy now.
    ——————-
    So a GOP Rep dares to assert that Trump is lying and/or ignorant? It truly is all over for the Tweeter-in-Chief.
    ——————–
    So he pulled the rug right out from under you just to make himself look good?

    Tell me, Congressman, how does that make you feel?
    ————————
    I have to say I’m kind of amazed that it’s a sitting, rather than fleeing, congress critter, speaking out. Finally…
    ———————–
    Oh, these brave, brave Rethugs speaking out against the idiot. It’s a little hard to get behind them when they’ve been hiding behind anything they could find for 4 years. Maybe there should be a pre physical exam of these people to see if there is a spine before they’re elected.

  132. says

    Another cogent analysis of the situation as it now stands:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing the only thing possible in the maelstrom Donald Trump has created with his threat to veto coronavirus relief and government funding: trying to meet his challenge. With Republicans blocking her effort to do what Trump demanded—give everyone $2,000 direct stimulus checks—Pelosi is bringing the House back in on Monday to vote on it and daring Republicans to vote no. “To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need,” she said Thursday.

    Should it pass on Monday, Senate Republicans will probably just ignore it. It wouldn’t get the 60 votes needed to pass, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said Thursday, after presiding on a brief, pro forma session in the Senate. So they’ll just not bother. “I’d be surprised if we dealt with it,” he said. So is Trump burning up the phone lines, calling Republican senators telling them to make it happen? Yeah, right.

    As of now, Blunt isn’t even promising that the Senate would come back on Monday to prevent the government from shutting down, which it will Monday at midnight if Trump doesn’t sign the bill, because, get this, they think Trump will do the right thing.

    JFC. Delusional. Still delusional.

    “I believe we will not shutdown,” he said. “I hope the President looks at this again and reaches that conclusion that the best thing to do is to sign the bill.” So we’re back to thoughts and prayers from Republicans. For an entire nation on the brink of economic collapse and in a pandemic. At Christmas.

    Link

  133. says

    With His Pardons of Stone and Manafort, Trump Completes His Cover-Up

    These acts don’t just protect his former aides; they protect Trump.

    By pardoning Paul Manafort and Roger Stone on Wednesday night, […] Trump concluded a four-year campaign to use his office to cover up his own wrongdoing in the Trump-Russia scandal. Trump aided and abetted Vladimir Putin’s attack on the 2016 election—which had the aim of helping Trump win the White House—by denying this assault was real, while he simultaneously sought to exploit Moscow’s operation for his own political gain. Ever since, Trump has strived to keep this scandal from defining his presidential victory and his presidency, and he has endeavored to hide his own possible criminality. With these pardons, that effort, which has largely succeeded, is complete.

    Stone and Manafort were among 26 pardons and three commutations Trump issued Wednesday, following a batch on Tuesday. This slew of pardons is collectively corrupt. While ignoring thousands of Americans who may deserve clemency but lack the political juice to win presidential assistance, Trump singled out for special dispensation war criminals, the powerful and the connected, friends of his allies, the father of his son-in-law, and corrupt former Republican congressmen. But Manafort and Stone are in a special category.

    Their pardons are part of Trump’s crusade to take revenge on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation that detailed the Russian attack that helped Trump win, that led to criminal convictions of Trump aides, and that provided evidence arguably showing that Trump had obstructed justice. But the pardons are more than that. They aim to help Trump himself.

    Stone and Manafort were each involved in the Russia scandal as it proceeded in 2016, while reporting directly to Trump. […] throughout the campaign, Manafort was in covert communication with a former business associate, Konstanin Kilimnik, who was labeled a “Russian intelligence officer” in a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report. […]

    So top Trump lieutenants were part of the Russia business. Yet they subsequently lied to or refused to cooperate with investigators. They hid information from prosecutors and the public. They covered for Trump. Now he has rewarded them.

    […] there were other curious aspects to Manafort’s relationship with Kilimnik. In a secret meeting in Manhattan on August 2, 2016, and in subsequent contacts that stretched into the following year, Kilimnik pressed Manafort to convince Trump to back a plan that would have handed Putin effective control of much of Eastern Ukraine, which Russia invaded in 2014. According to Mueller’s 2019 report, Kilimnik told Manafort in an email that the plan need only “a very minor ‘wink’ (or slight push) from [Donald Trump]” to succeed.

    Mueller’s investigators believed Russia hoped to obtain Trump’s support for this so-called Ukraine peace plan as a payback for helping Trump in the election. In a book published this year, Andrew Weissmann, a top Mueller aid who oversaw the Manafort prosecution, called Trump’s possible backing of the Ukraine plan “a ‘quo’ for all the elaborate ‘quid’” that Russia had provided Trump in 2016.

    […]Trump praised Manafort and Stone for their refusal to “flip” and cooperate with Mueller. This pardon dangling provided Manafort, Stone, and others incentive to adhere to a code of silence. What exactly Manafort was up to with Kilimnik and what Stone did with WikiLeaks remain mysteries. As does Trump’s full knowledge of their activities related to Russia’s scheming.

    […] With these pardons, Trump made sure the public would not learn the full story about their recipients—or about his own suspicious actions. With this use—or abuse—of presidential power, Trump is not only protecting his henchmen; he is protecting himself. These pardons don’t end the scandal; they are part of it.

  134. says

    Emmanuel Macron has been released from coronavirus quarantine. The French president is no longer displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

    […] “In accordance with the health protocol in force, the isolation by the president of the Republic can therefore end after seven days.” […]

  135. says

    New good things to know about Dr. Fauci:

    “[…] before I got too busy, I used to love to dance, particularly with my wife. So, nobody knows that Tony Fauci really likes to dance, but I do. Just go back to the 50s and the 60s, Lindy type of dances, and actually my wife is very good in Latin-American dances, you know mambo, tango, that kind of thing.” […]

    Link

  136. says

    More Republicans who are mad at Trump:

    […] Former state GOP Chair Ron Nehring lambasted the Duncan Hunter decision. [Trump pardoned Hunter.]

    “Our elected officials should be held to a higher, not lower, standard than the average citizen, who would never have been pardoned for similar crimes,” he said.

    “We have so many great, honorable Republicans who wish to serve for all the best reasons. We don’t have to put up with any crooks in our own party,” Nehring also said on Twitter. “Toss the bums out. Make room for the honest and honorable ones. Strong party. Stronger country.”

    Republican Carl DeMaio, who unsuccessfully ran for Duncan Hunter’s 50th congressional district seat, issued a statement saying Trump’s action “sends absolutely the wrong message that politicians can break the law, but can easily avoid any punishment when they do.”

    DeMaio said that the decision “will simply reinforce the clear impression that ordinary citizens have that Washington DC Swamp Creatures protect themselves, receive special exemptions, and enjoy double standards.” […]

    Link

  137. blf says

    Kraken Lawyer Sidney Powell ‘Blocked’ from Speaking to Trump:

    […] Sidney Powell claims she has been barred from speaking to President [sic] Trump.

    Powell […] told Fox News that she has been blocked by White House counsel and others from seeing or speaking to the President after raising even more evidence of foreign interference from Iran and China.

    Iran’s gotten in on the act too? Presumably “channelling” teh ghost of Hugo Chávez through a Chinandian “medium”…

    […]
    On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that Trump did not plan to appoint Powell as special counsel to investigate election fraud. Giuliani confirmed the reports, stating that Powell was “on her own.”

    Though shunned by the Trump campaign, Powell remains a popular figure within conspiratorial underbelly of the internet. Much of that comes from her longstanding allegiance to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as influential figures in the movement like Flynn and attorney Lin Wood, both of whom have called for Trump to declare martial law. She has been featured on popular QAnon YouTube shows as far back as November 2019 and has been known to use QAnon slogans and hashtags in her social media posts. Even her electoral fraud lawsuits are rooted in conspiracy theories that were propagated, in part, on QAnon forums and spaces.

    […]

    It remains to be seen whether Powell will continue to push ahead with her lawsuits, though it is worth noting that none of her legal challenges seeking to overturn the election have been successful.

    She’s made kraken popular again.

  138. tomh says

    @ #173 Re: Dr Fauci

    Today is Dr. Fauci’s 80th birthday. He said that he has worked every day since January.

  139. says

    From Wonkette:

    We have officially been in the insane lawsuit phase of the 2020 presidential election for … a while now. But don’t you worry, the fever dreams and crackpot legal theories just keep coming!

    Arizona had a ridiculously successful hand count audit. Unlike other states, which saw some losses and gains, the Arizona audit gave absolutely identical results as the initial tally. To the vote.

    But, of course, votes are meaningless to Republicans these days. And in Arizona Republican Party v. Fontes, the state GOP asked for MORE RECOUNTS!!!1! Why? BECAUSE THEY SAID SO, OKAY?!

    Settle in, lean back, and grab the relaxing beverage or chemical of your choice. This is a fun one!

    The Arizona GOP is truly batshit. I realize we live in 2020, where basically the entire Republican Party has gone off the deep end and the crazy bar has been set prettttty damn high, but even for Trumpland, these fuckers are nuts. This is best exemplified by Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, who, when she’s not worrying about chemtrails, spends her time looking for martyrs to die in the name of Donald Trump.

    Why yes, Arizona WAS one of the states that had a cosplay Electoral College vote, HOW DID YOU KNOW?!

    Predictably, the Arizona GOP has filed a whole bunch of crazy-ass lawsuits about the 2020 election. The Arizona Supreme Court has already unanimously rejected its attempt to overturn the results of the election. But Republicans aren’t about to let silly things like “facts” get in their way!

    Let’s let Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Doug Wilenchik describe the latest case, in which the party sued to change the election manual … after the election:

    “In this lawsuit, the plaintiff Arizona Republican Party asked for a court order directing the defendant Maricopa County officials to redo the hand count audit using different batches of ballots. The plaintiff baldly asserted that this relief was necessary to maintain “confidence in the integrity of our elections,” without alleging any facts to show that the machines might have miscounted the votes. The plaintiff could not explain why the suit had not been filed before the election, or what purpose another audit would serve.”

    Judge Wilenchik gives us a nice summary of all the reasons the case was dismissed and no relief was granted:

    “The plaintiff’s claim for mandamus relief failed because the duty of County election officials was to comply with the Election Procedures Manual, and they did so. The declaratory judgment claim failed because its extreme tardiness prejudiced both the defendant county officials and the public interest. Both those claims, and the mid-case request for an injunction, were prohibited post-election challenges to election procedures.”

    Oh, and also: “The plaintiff could not show irreparable injury from the certification of the election results, or a favorable balance of hardships, because the plaintiff could not explain how, exactly, it would benefit from a do-over of the hand count audit.”

    And he makes it very clear that there are many, many grounds for dismissing this stupid case: “Setting aside for the moment the illogic of an attempt to disprove a theory for which no evidence exists, the plaintiff’s defense of the case’s timing failed on its own terms. The filing delay created a situation in which an order requiring another audit with different rules would only have amplified public distrust.”

    The headings Judge Wilenchik used throughout the ruling are also just spot-on:

    Mandamus Did Not Apply Because the Election Officials Followed the Law

    The Request for Declaratory Relief Was Way Too Late

    A Post-Election Judicial Inquiry into Election Procedures Was Not Justified

    The Proposed Amendment Adding a Claim for Injunctive Relief Was Futile

    A judge after my own heart.

    The best part, though? The best part is Footnote 4, when he threatens sanctions: “What exactly the Arizona Republican Party and its attorney knew or had reason to know about the status of hand count audit, at the time of filing the complaint, will be an issue on the application for attorneys’ fees. The Republican Party appears to have had constructive knowledge, at least, of facts that contradicted the allegations in the complaint. The attorney (who also verified the complaint) said he “did not receive a copy” of the audit report until after the suit had been filed, […] but what he knew about the audit when he filed the complaint is unclear.”

    Not only is this an amazing legal smackdown […] but it also signals Judge Wilenchik is sick of this hippopotamus dung and ready to punish these fuckers for filing this lawsuit in such bad faith.

    […] The opinion also signals elsewhere that it is definitely considering sanctioning the motherfuckers: “That application will require the Court to decide whether the Republican Party and its attorneys brought the case in bad faith to delay certification of the election or to cast false shadows on the election’s legitimacy.”

    In a fee application, filed earlier this month, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs argues: “[…] They brought a meritless claim, prosecuted it in truly amateurish fashion by failing to seek necessary relief and half-heartedly seeking to enjoin Maricopa County’s canvass, and thought so strongly of their claim that they didn’t appeal when it was dismissed with prejudice. Their motives were transparent: delay final election results and sow doubt about the integrity of Arizona’s elections system.”

    That’s simply not what litigation is for, and this abuse of the judicial system should not go without sanction. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/arizona-gop-v-reality

    More at the link.

  140. says

    U.K. and E.U. announce a post-Brexit trade deal, smoothing Dec. 31 departure.

    Washington Post link

    After seemingly endless negotiations, Britain and the European Union on Thursday announced they had struck a post-Brexit trade and security deal, which will reshape relations between the two allies and antagonists for years to come, and may begin to mute the bickering that has consumed the sides in rancorous, often nationalistic debate.

    The details of the world’s largest free trade pact were still emerging Thursday, but the deal will allow hundreds of billions of dollars in goods to continue to flow — without tariffs or quotas but a lot more red tape — between Britain and the 27 remaining nations in the E.U., the richest trading club on the planet.

    “We’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at an afternoon news conference from Downing Street. “We’ve taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered.”

    I snipped more boasting and unsupported-by-facts blather from Boris Johnson.]

    “Today is a day of relief,” E.U. negotiator Michel Barnier said at a news conference in Brussels. “But tinted by some sadness, as we compare what came before with what lies ahead.”

    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “It was a long and winding road. But we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”

    She added: “Now is the time to turn the page and look to the future. The United Kingdom is a third country. But it is a trusted partner. We share the same values and interests.”

    There was relief from business leaders on both sides, who consider this agreement far better than the wreckage of “no deal” exit, something they have feared for years and was previewed this week, when countries shut their borders to travelers from Britain over fears of a coronavirus mutation and thousands of freight trucks were snarled at British ports.

    Even with the trade deal, though, the two sides will make a sharp split with little precedent in the modern global economy, with brand-new borders, inspection regimes and paperwork, where for decades there has been none.

    Britain officially left the E.U. at the end of January, but little has changed during an 11-month transition period. The real change is coming the night of Dec. 31.

    The United Kingdom will leave the E.U. customs union and single market and be able to chart its own course. Johnson envisions a “Global Britain,” a free-trading sovereign nation, able to write its own regulations, control its own borders and make its own deals with the United States and other nations, without seeking consensus in Brussels.

    Many in Britain and abroad, however, fear “Global Britain” will turn out to be runt, a Little England, a diminished power, hobbled by nativism, chasing nostalgic dreams stoked by tabloid newspapers. […]

    More at the link.

  141. says

    […] The Washington Post has been inundated with messages and phone calls from people on the verge of losing their homes and cars and going hungry this holiday who are stunned that President Trump and Congress cannot agree on another emergency aid package. Several broke down crying in phone interviews.

    Some blamed Trump for torpedoing a $900 billion relief package at the last minute. Others agreed with Trump that the proposed $600 checks for over 150 million American households was too little, too late and should be raised to at least $2,000. Others blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not taking a deal in August.

    But most told The Post they are “not political people” and are struggling to understand why Congress and the president would be able to celebrate Christmas when 14 million Americans are slated to lose unemployment aid on Saturday, the government is set to shut down on Tuesday, and an eviction moratorium that has prevented millions from losing their homes during a pandemic ends on New Year’s Eve.

    Waitress Robyn Saban summed up the sentiment of many: “I’ve worked for 18 years at a diner under very hard conditions. I never called in sick except when my husband died. And now Congress is just leaving town. It makes me furious because they are leaving people hanging.”

    […] Tony Bowens, 31, spent nine days in a hospital in March fighting for his life against the deadly coronavirus. In many ways, he’s just grateful this Christmas to be home with his wife and two kids, even though very little is the same. As his family struggles to pay rent, he can’t believe Congress and Trump haven’t reached an agreement on aid.

    “It feels like everybody is playing politics with people’s lives,” said Bowens, who lives in Chicago. “That $600 check wasn’t much, but at least it would have been dispersed just in time.”

    Bowens has ongoing complications from covid: Headaches, temperatures that spike for a day, crippling leg pains and trouble breathing. He lost his IT job in March and has not been able to work since. He received $65 a week in unemployment through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress created this year to assist independent contractors and gig workers like him, but it will end the day after Christmas unless a relief bill gets enacted.

    His family is barely getting by on his wife’s job as a state government worker in Illinois. They are behind on rent and the electric bill, and they worry about more layoffs for state workers. […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  142. says

    Follow-up to comment 181.

    “As the Holiday season approaches, President Trump will continue to work tirelessly for the American People,” the White House said. “His schedule includes many meetings and calls.”

    From a reader: “Working tirelessly?”

    If “tireless” means the wheels have come off, this has been true for pretty much his whole life.

  143. says

    So it’s Christmas Eve. Republicans have blocked the thing Donald Trump demanded in return for signing the coronavirus relief and government funding bill—$2,000 survival checks. Senate Republicans are blowing off the whole premise of helping people. Extended unemployment benefits from the CARES Act expire Saturday. Government funding expires on Monday at midnight, along with current pandemic response efforts. Assistance to renters—$25 billion in emergency aid—and an extension on the federal eviction moratorium are dependent on Trump signing this bill, and Republicans just have “thoughts and prayers” that he’ll do it.

    All this while an “avalanche of evictions” is starting to roll, as the eviction moratorium expires at the end of Thursday [Today!], Christmas Eve. The census estimates that 11.3 million households are either behind on their rent or won’t be able to pay next month’s rent. Moody’s Analytics figures there is a $70 billion backlog in unpaid rent. Landlords have to live, too, and hundreds of thousands have filed eviction notices in local courts pending the expiration of the moratorium.

    That means hundreds of thousands of people—including households with children—are going to be thrown out of their homes. Those evictions will, once again, hit communities of color disproportionately hard. It will put people out of their homes—during a pandemic—and into crowded shelters or in doubled-up housing with family or friends. It will only worsen infection rates. In the middle of winter. That’s what Trump is doing. And Republicans have no plan to stop him from doing it.

    Link

  144. blf says

    Lynna@182, “If ‘tireless’ means the wheels have come off, [‘working tirelessly’] has been true for pretty much [of hair furor’s] whole life.”

    It’d be tryelessly, er, trylessly, trys less…

    (Whilst checking, I discovered there is a company in India called Tyrelessly which “provides an environmentally compliant ‘End-of-Life’ tyre collection and disposal service […]. Tyrelessly is India’s first ‘Tyres-to-Trees’ company which encourages motorists to forgo their used tyres for responsible recycling.” It was apparently founded by a 16-year-old, Anubhav Wadhwa, in early 2016.)

  145. says

    blf, recycling tires (or not recycling them) is a big thing. I like the name of the company in India.

    A new recycling technique breaks down old tires into reusable materials

    Approximately three billion automobile tires were produced worldwide in 2019 alone. Automobile tires are the classic example of a high-volume product derived from non-renewable petroleum resources that is designed for single use; they do not fit the desired paradigm of reduce, reuse, recycle.

    Some old tires are used as fuel in the cement industry or ground into rubber crumb and used as a reinforcing agent — parents will be familiar with the rubber mats used in children’s playgrounds. [And on soccer fields … Parents have complained about toxicity.]

    These are inefficient ways to utilize a non-renewable resource. Problematically, many tires end up in tire landfills where they risk contaminating the local environment through leachate (the liquid that percolates through waste sites and into the ground) or worse, through fires that release toxic gases and particulate into the atmosphere.

    Tire fires

    On Dec. 20, 2019, a difficult-to-control fire broke out at the TRACC tire recycling plant in Minto, N.B., where approximately one million tires were stored. It took one week to put the fire out. Such fires aren’t uncommon: another notable tire fire happened 30 years ago, when 14 million tires in Hagersville, Ont., burned for more than two weeks. […]

    New ways to break down tires

    In my lab, the Brook Research Group at McMaster University, we have discovered an efficient and mild process that uses silicone chemistry to break the sulfur-to-sulfur bonds that hold tires together. The silicones selectively cut the sulfur-sulfur connections, leaving only organic chains that can be easily isolated and reused to create new products. This process, originally designed to make new silicones using very small quantities of a catalyst, has been repurposed to address the sustainability of petroleum-based tires. […]

    More at the link, including graphics that include chemical formulas.

  146. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna @185, Very interesting chemistry. The chemicals might be a bit exotic for large scale production, but they definitely showed proof of concept.

  147. blf says

    Not too sure about the reliability of this source, or of their source (NY Post), but seems plausible… COVID-19 relief bill affirms US stance on successor to Dalai Lama (written before the bill was passed):

    […]
    Buried among the pandemic recovery provisions of the massive, approximately $900 billion legislation is an affirmation of Congress’ proposed stance on the hot-button religious and political issue.

    “It is the policy of the United States that decisions regarding the selection, education, and veneration of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders are exclusively spiritual matters that should be made by the appropriate religious authorities within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and in the context of the will of practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism,” the passage reads in part.

    It goes on to state that “the wishes of the 14th Dalai Lama, including any written instructions, should play a key role in the selection, education, and veneration of a future 15th Dalai Lama.”

    […]

    China in 2011 warned the 14th Dalai Lama that he is not to have any role in naming a successor, and has claimed the authority to approve the 15th Dalai Lama.

    The language in the coronavirus relief bill warns that “interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China or any other government in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and any future Dalai Lamas would represent a clear abuse of the right to religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan people.”

    The passage goes on to lay out provisions for “holding Chinese officials responsible for religious freedom abuses targeting Tibetan Buddhists.

    “It is the policy of the United States to take all appropriate measures to hold accountable senior officials of the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party who directly interfere with the identification and installation of the future 15th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, successor to the 14th Dalai Lama,” it states.

    Specified options include issuing sanctions and barring those officials from entering the US.

  148. tomh says

    Here Are the Questionable Trump Pardons That You Did Not Hear About Last Night
    ADAM KLASFELD Dec 24th, 2020

    In another White House administration, these pardons may have sparked political scandal, but outgoing President Donald Trump’s shock-and-awe waves of clemency relegated them to local news and second-day leads.

    Full stories on these at the link, but in brief…pardons that barely received attention on Wednesday night, because their names were not Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, or Roger Stone.

    Jesse Benton and John Tate

    Both top staffers for the quixotic 2012 presidential campaign of ex-Rep. Ron Paul, Benton and Tate were convicted by a jury of hiding payments for what prosecutors described as a bribery-for-endorsement scheme…“This action is supported by Senator Rand Paul…” the White House statement states.

    Mary Ballard McCarty

    Former Palm Beach County commissioner Mary McCarty’s corruption crime is not in dispute. She resigned shortly before pleading guilty to honest services fraud in 2009…sister of Brian Ballard, a top fundraiser for the outgoing president who has been described as the “Most Influential Lobbyist in Trump’s Washington.”

    Gary Brugman

    Brugman, a former Border Patrol agent, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his unprovoked assault on Mexican immigrant Miguel Angel Jimenez-Saldana in January 2001. Recommended by, among others, Trump-loyalist Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Rep. Louie Gohmert, and hard-right commentators Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Bernie Kerik, himself the beneficiary of a controversial Trump pardon.

    More to come, you can count on it.

  149. tomh says

    7th Circuit Delivers Donald Trump A Christmas Eve Election Lawsuit Loss
    AARON KELLER Dec 24th, 2020

    Serial loser of election litigation and U.S. President Donald Trump has racked up yet another loss in a long string of losing election-related lawsuits. This time, a panel of three judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals—all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents—affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit Trump filed after losing the popular vote and, thus, the electoral college tally in the State of Wisconsin.

    Trump previously lost at the district court level on the merits, one of his own appointees famously ruled twelve days ago.

    Senior Circuit Judge Joel Flaum, a Reagan appointee, joined judges Ilana Rovner (a George H. W. Bush appointee) and Michael Y. Scudder (a Trump appointee) to affirm the district court’s tossing of the suit on two grounds. In essence, the judges unanimously ruled that Wisconsin’s election was conducted correctly and that Trump waited too long to complain about the procedures employed…

    Wisconsin has long chosen to conduct its election by popular vote, the 7th Circuit tidily pointed out in its 11-page opinion…

  150. says

    Merry Christmas!

    Guardian – “Christmas travel rush ignores Covid warnings as California hits 2m cases”:

    As Covid-19 continued to surge across America, its death toll close to 326,000 by Thursday morning, 84.5 million US residents were expected to travel around Christmas and New Year, directly flouting public health officials’ repeated warnings that such travel could worsen the pandemic yet further.

    Christmas Eve also brought the grim news that California had become the first state to record more than 2m cases of Covid-19. According to Johns Hopkins University, California had recorded 2,010,157 infections and more than 23,000 deaths. More than 18,000 people were hospitalised and many intensive care units were filled.

    Elsewhere, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that more than 5 million people passed through US airport security checkpoints from Friday to Tuesday. AAA Travel, however, said most would make their journeys by car.

    Warnings about travel during the last holiday season were ignored. From 20-29 November, around Thanksgiving, the TSA reported 9.5 million passengers screened at US airports.

    The federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said “travel may increase your chance of spreading and getting Covid-19” and continues to recommend “postponing travel and staying home, as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year”.

    Holiday travelers who spoke with reporters in warmer climes on Wednesday gave various reasons for hitting the road in the middle of a pandemic, despite official pleas to stay home.

    One woman, 34-year-old Jennifer Brownlee, was waiting for a flight at the Tampa airport to see her mother, who had just lost her leg, in Oregon.

    “My mom’s worth it,” Brownlee told the Associated Press. “She needs my help. I know that God’s got me. He’s not going to let me get sick.”

    Brownlee said she would put on a mask during the flight “out of respect”, but said her immune system and Jesus Christ would keep her safe.

  151. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #178:

    “We’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at an afternoon news conference from Downing Street. “We’ve taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered.”

    Tom Kibasi in the Guardian:

    …The Brexit deal itself is nothing but thin gruel. It will make it much harder for Britain to sell services to EU countries, where we were once advantaged. Britons will lose their right to freely travel, work and settle in other European countries. While there will be no tariffs or restrictions on the quantity of goods that can be sold, British exports will for the first time in decades face checks on their origins and compliance with EU regulations.

    The government fought hard for regulatory autonomy that it imagines will allow Britain to achieve escape velocity from economic reality. It is a fantasy. Britain’s producers will need to meet EU regulations to sell into their most important export market, no matter what bureaucrats in Whitehall may say. A separate set of British regulations for companies to comply with harms rather than enhances our international competitiveness.

    After nearly half a century of closer integration with the European economy, Britain is now locked into needlessly throwing up new barriers to trade with our closest neighbours. As the past few days has shown, the ports can quickly descend into chaos. Even if implementation of the deal is smooth – a big if – it will prove costly to the UK economy, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimating it will knock more than 2% off growth and see inflation climb to 3.5%. That means fewer good jobs, lower incomes and higher prices….

    Contrast:

    EU statements by @vonderleyen and @MichelBarnier are generous, gracious, reconciliatory, showing respect but regret. UK Gov statement all about our red lines respected, our sovereignty. Narrow view, self-serving, lacking in grace and generosity. Our little Englanders country now

  152. says

    NBC – “Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo interviewed animal activist posing as Smithfield Foods CEO”:

    Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo issued an apology at the end of her Wednesday morning show after she was duped into interviewing an animal rights activist posing as the CEO of a major food processing company.

    “We have an important correction to make. It appears we have been punked,” the “Mornings With Maria” host said, following an interview with Matt Johnson, an activist with the grassroots network Direct Action Everywhere.

    The journalist thought she had been interviewing Smithfield Foods’ CEO Dennis Organ.

    “Earlier in the program, I interviewed someone claiming to be the CEO of Smithfield Foods, Dennis Organ. We’ve since learned that that was not Dennis Organ, but an imposter making false claims about the company. He is someone who has absolutely no relation to Smithfield Foods, we want to apologize to Dennis Organ, Smithfield Foods, and to our audience for making this mistake. We will of course be more vigilant.”

    During the interview, which was uploaded to the YouTube page of Direct Action Everywhere, Bartiromo talked about food workers pushing to get the coronavirus vaccine early. She then asked Johnson, posing as Organ, about an outbreak of cases at one of Smithfield’s operations.

    “It’s certainly been a challenging time,” Johnson said, “and we have our workers that are in desperate need of these vaccinations and as you mentioned we’re heartened to hear that the CDC is prioritizing food workers with this second round of vaccinations.”

    Johnson made other statements throughout the interview, at one point claiming that as CEO he would enact “transparency and at times, brutal honesty,” under his leadership.

    He also said that the meat industry could be “effectively bringing on the next pandemic, with CDC data showing that three of four infectious diseases come from animals and the conditions inside of our of farms can sometimes be petri dishes for new diseases.”

    Direct Action Everywhere, which has targeted Smithfield Foods in the past, said in a press release that it wanted to alert the public about “pig farming’s threat to public health.”…

  153. says

    Andrew Kaczynski, CNN:

    We’re heartbroken to have to announce our beautiful daughter Francesca passed away last night in the arms of her mom and dad. There will always be a Bean-sized hole in our hearts for her. We’re so grateful to have known her love.

    Francesca we love you.

    We’re so grateful for everyone’s support and kindness. In lieu of flowers, gifts, or food we’d ask people to donate in honor of Francesca to Team Beans in the PMC Winter Cycle, which donates 100% of every rider-raised dollar directly to Dana-Farber.

    Rachel and I tried to write an obituary for her that captured her short, wonderful life. She was a bold curious baby, whose smile light up rooms….

    There’s a link to the obituary at the link.

  154. says

    Judd Legum:

    I know it’s Christmas Eve but people should understand what’s happening with Facebook ads and the Georgia Senate runoffs.

    These elections will determine the trajectory of American politics for the next two years.

    Facebook’s conduct is indefensible

    Follow along if interested…

  155. says

    Michael Beschloss:

    While many Americans are in medical centers or quarantine, VP Pence, chief of President’s Covid-19 task force, has reportedly had himself flown from DC to Vail skiing resort in Colorado for vacation.

    Pence’s Colorado vacation — defying the national pandemic he was assigned to help thwart — is your tax dollars at work.

    Pence is reportedly also planning a junket for himself to Middle East and Europe for early January, to be paid for by all U.S. taxpayers.

  156. says

    SC @190, JFC!

    tomh @189, I think that means that Trump has lost at least 60 court cases related to the election. I’m not yet tired of seeing him lose. I am weary of seeing him claim that he didn’t lose.

  157. says

    More details concerning the people Trump pardoned, and those who endorsed those pardons:

    […] Mary Ballard McCarty, who was pardoned for an honest services fraud conviction, is a former Palm Beach County, Florida commissioner and, as Law&Crime noted, the sister of Trump mega-fundraiser and lobbyist Brian Ballard.

    McCarty’s pardon was endorsed by Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy and Pam Bondi, the former Florida Attorney General and Trump impeachment defense lawyer who has worked as a lobbyist for… yes, Ballard Partners, Ballard’s lobbying firm.

    Bondi also backed the pardon for the deep-pocketed donor James Kassouf, who pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return in 1989. She wasn’t alone. Also in Kassouf’s corner: Rep.-elect Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), and the well-known Trump surrogate Pastor Darrell Scott.

    A few more big names lined up behind former Rep. Mark Siljander (R-MI), who pleaded guilty in 2010 to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and obstructing justice. Namesake of the “Siljander Amendment,” which prohibited the use of government funds to lobby for abortions, Siljander’s pardon was backed by former Attorney General Edwin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) among others.

    Also on Wednesday night’s list was a trio of former law enforcement officers found to have deprived people of their civil rights. Stephanie Mohr, a former K9 police officer, was found to have released her dog on a homeless man despite his surrender. Gary Brugman, a former Border Patrol agent, kicked an undocumented man to the ground during an arrest. Joseph Occhipinti, who worked for the precursor to ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, illegally searched bodegas in New York City. […]

    Link

  158. says

    Follow-up to comment 195.

    RV that exploded in Nashville broadcast a message warning of imminent blast, police say.

    Washington Post link

    FBI, ATF leading investigation; three people were hospitalized with noncritical injuries.

    The recreational vehicle that exploded in downtown Nashville Christmas morning broadcast a message from a loudspeaker warning of an imminent blast before it detonated, according to police, who called the incident an “intentional act.”

    The explosion in the city’s Arts District destroyed storefronts, scattered ash and debris through the streets, and sent at least three people to the hospital with noncritical injuries, police said.

    Law enforcement officials said in a midday news conference that a recorded announcement emanating from the RV warned people to evacuate the area in the minutes leading up to the blast.

    In a video posted on social media, which the Washington Post has not independently verified, a voice can be heard saying, “This area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now.” That was followed by the sounds of an explosion, and the video of the street scene turned to a blur.

    Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters that “there were announcements coming from the RV, that’s the extent of what we can say at this point.” He said that police took the warning seriously, evacuated people from a residential area, and that “we think lives were saved by those officers.”

    Three people were injured, including one officer who was knocked off his feet, Aaron said. He said “we know of no other imminent danger to the city,” adding that bomb-sniffing dogs were combing the area as a precaution.

    Several of the buildings have structural damage, officials said. Police do not know whether anyone was in the RV when it exploded, “so I can’t tell you at this point whether there is a fatality in this scenario,” Aaron said.

    Supervisory Special Agent Joel E. Siskovic said the FBI is leading the investigation, working with state and local authorities. He declined to say whether there were any suspects. […]

  159. says

    Making things difficult for immigrants … that’s the Trump administration.

    The Trump administration changed the naturalization test to make it harder to pass—and you can see for yourself if you’d be able to pass this newly revised version. The New York Times has created a quiz selecting nine of the questions applicants are possibly asked.

    “The new test draws from 128 possible questions, up from 100, and prospective citizens now have to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly in order to pass,” The Times said. “Previously, passing required correctly answering six out of 10 questions.”

    A top immigration policy expert noted last month that suspicions that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made the revisions just to trip up applicants were right on the dot.

    “Some of the questions have been made explicitly more difficult—even though there’s no evidence the old test wasn’t challenging enough,” American Immigration Council policy counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick wrote.

    He notes a Biden administration could easily revert the changes (although the same can’t be said of some of the hundreds of other changes the Trump administration has made). Of course, the problem has never been that the test has been too easy for immigrants to pass. It’s been more the intentional sabotaging by the administration making it harder for immigrants to become naturalized. […]

    Link

    A link to U.S. Citizenship sample quiz, on the New York Times website.

  160. says

    Trump is tweeting from…some bunker or another:

    “If a Democrat Presidential Candidate had an Election Rigged & Stolen, with proof of such acts at a level never seen before, the Democrat Senators would consider it an act of war, and fight to the death. Mitch & the Republicans do NOTHING, just want to let it pass. NO FIGHT!”

    “The ‘Justice’ Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.”

  161. says

    SC @205, this was also funny:

    Not the main point but have some questions about the capitalization as well.

    The text capitalized the following words that should have been presented in lowercase:
    Holiday
    American
    People

  162. says

    SC @206, Trump is beating the drum for his cult followers to cause trouble on January 6th. I’m just hoping that cold winter weather keeps a lot of them at home.

    I really dislike the fact that Trump is now using the words “war” and “fight” more often. Excuse me, that should have been “FIGHT!” There are already people on rightwing forums talking about how to smuggle guns into Washington D.C.

  163. says

    Judge Delays Execution Of Only Woman On Federal Death Row

    A federal judge said the Justice Department unlawfully rescheduled the execution of the only woman on federal death row, potentially setting up the Trump administration to schedule the execution after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

    U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss also vacated an order from the director of the Bureau of Prisons that had set Lisa Montgomery’s execution date for Jan. 12. Montgomery had previously been scheduled to be put to death at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, this month, but Moss delayed the execution after her attorneys contracted coronavirus visiting their client and asked him to extend the amount of time to file a clemency petition.

    Moss prohibited the Bureau of Prisons from carrying out Lisa Montgomery’s execution before the end of the year and officials rescheduled her execution date for Jan. 12. But Moss ruled on Wednesday that the agency was also prohibited from rescheduling the date while a stay was in place.

    […] Under the order, the Bureau of Prisons cannot reschedule Montgomery’s execution until at least Jan. 1. Generally, under Justice Department guidelines, a death-row inmate must be notified at least 20 days before the execution. Because of the judge’s order, if the Justice Department chooses to reschedule the date in January, it could mean that the execution would be scheduled after Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

    Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future” […]

    Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in December 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, then a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from the womb, authorities said.

    Prosecutors said Montgomery removed the baby from Stinnett’s body, took the child with her, and attempted to pass the girl off as her own. Montgomery’s legal team has argued that their client suffers from serious mental illnesses.

    “Given the severity of Mrs. Montgomery’s mental illness, the sexual and physical torture she endured throughout her life, and the connection between her trauma and the facts of her crime, we appeal to President Trump to grant her mercy, and commute her sentence to life imprisonment,” one of Montgomery’s lawyers, Sandra Babcock, said in a statement.

    Two other federal inmates are scheduled to be executed in January but have tested positive for coronavirus and their attorneys are also seeking delays to their executions.

  164. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @207: tHE obvIouS reason Could be that the RAndom capitaliZations maY be a secret message to all the Q people.

  165. says

    A day later, everything about the bombing in Nashville remains as puzzling as it was on Christmas

    The account told by those nearby is essentially the same: At 4:30, in the pre-dawn hours on Christmas day, there was first what appeared to be several bursts of very rapid gunfire. Whether these were actual gunshots, or a recording of the same, they were loud enough to wake several people and generate calls to the police describing what seemed to be fire from automatic weapons. Soon after, a loud voice began to deliver a repeating message.

    “This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes. This area must be evacuated now. This area must be evacuated now. If you can hear this message, evacuate now.” The voice came from a white RV parked on the side of the street. The message repeated over and over, punctuated by a countdown. “This vehicle will explode in 14 minutes.”

    Police, who had responded to the reports of shots fired, worked quickly to help get people out of the area, limiting the known casualties to three. But police are also reporting that among the debris is “tissue” that could be human remains. Whether those remains come from someone who was in the RV at the time of the explosion is unclear.

    […] There were no license plates visible in the images released, or found in the debris. CCTV footage shows that the RV arrived on the scene at 1:22 AM Christmas, three hours before the sounds of gunshots and announcements began. There has been no news of whether anyone was seen exiting the RV after it arrived. It’s unknown if the police have found VIN numbers or anything else that would help in identifying the RV.

    The gunshot sounds came in three bursts, a short time apart, and were apparently designed to draw attention. The voice coming from the RV was computerized, and may have been generated from a system onboard the RV rather than being a recording. The type of explosive used has not been made public, though it seems unlikely that it was ammonium nitrate, as in the Oklahoma City bombing. That bomb contained 13 large barrels, each of which contained nearly five hundred pounds of material. There is some suspicion, based on the size of the fireball and heat generated by the blast, that the Nashville bomber (or bombers) had access to the kind of high explosives materials that cannot be readily purchased for mining, agriculture, etc. On the other hand, it may have been the result of something more commonly available, carefully packaged and exploded.

    Overall, this is an incident of terrorism that on the surface reflects a frightening amount of planning. It was not just some people loading bags of ammonium nitrate into the back of an RV and applying a blasting cap. Everything about this incident speaks to a level of coordination that has generated intense speculation. And unlike the Oklahoma City bombing, everything about the incident indicates the desire to deliver a violent message without running up a large body count … which is confusing, at best.

    On Friday evening, right wing social media was filled with rumors that tied the explosion to everything from a supposed series of coordinated mass shooting incidents across the country, to Chinese troops supposedly fighting in Maine, to an AT&T facility investigating Dominion voting machines. All of which is pure fantasy. However, just because all these “theories” are themselves lies based on lies, that doesn’t mean that the bomber him, her, or themselves aren’t following some equally obscure belief. Speculation has also swirled around the account which uploaded the video below of the recording. The YouTube account contains little information about the creator, and no other videos, making it the subject of numerous unsubstantiated claims. […]

    [Video available at the link.]

  166. says

    Follow-up to SC @206.

    Trump also tweeted this:

    Where the hell is the Durham Report? They spied on my campaign, colluded with Russia (and others), and got caught. Read the Horowitz Reports about Comey & McCabe. Even the Fake News @nytimes said “bad”. They tried it all, and failed, so now they are trying to steal the election!

    The U.S. Supreme Court has been totally incompetent and weak on the massive Election Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election. We have absolute PROOF, but they don’t want to see it – No “standing”, they say. If we have corrupt elections, we have no country!

    Trump is just repeating all of his old canards. It doesn’t seem to matter to him at all that his claims have been debunked. No problem. He’ll just rely on repetition of lies to alter reality.

  167. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @212:

    He’ll just rely on repetition of lies to alter reality.

    He is just following the technique supposedly advanced by Joseph Goebbels, one of his heroes.

  168. says

    Trump’s border wall was a complete waste of time and money.

    Washington Post link

    […] For much of his administration, the construction of hundreds of miles of steel-and-concrete barriers has symbolized futility and waste — a massive, publicly funded undertaking whose payoff in deterring illegal border-crossing was unproven at best, ineffective at worst. Now, as crews dynamite, bulldoze and raze their way through pristine canyons, riverbeds, mountains, deserts and grasslands to gain access to construction sites, Mr. Trump’s wall has become a symbol of wanton environmental destruction.

    President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to halt the wall’s construction immediately upon taking office. That hasn’t stopped or slowed what amounts to a full-court press to complete as much of the wall as possible before Mr. Trump leaves office Jan. 20. However, for every new mile of wall construction, far more damage and degradation is done to the landscape by a dozen or so contractors carving their way through wilderness and wildlife areas with access roads, retaining walls and other eyesores.

    The folly of the project is glaring. Even as more miles of wall are completed, the number of unauthorized migrants apprehended after crossing the border has spiked in recent months to the highest level in years. Driven by the ravages of pandemic, hurricanes, economic ruin and violence in Central America and Mexico, migrants keep coming, wall or no wall.

    What’s more, precious little strategic thought has informed decisions about where to add to, enhance or build new barriers. Although illegal crossing is rife in South Texas, particularly around the town of McAllen, little construction has taken place there because local ranchers and other landowners have fought wall construction affecting their property. Far more building is taking place in Arizona and New Mexico, where the federal government controls much more land along the frontier with Mexico. In other words, construction is underway not where it might be needed but where resistance has been slight.

    All but about 40 of the some 440 miles of newly built barriers have replaced or upgraded previously existing fencing and bollards, though in most cases the new structures are certainly imposing. Whether they stop or deter many migrants will be difficult to ascertain. What’s indisputable, according to wildlife experts, is that by severing and damaging natural habitats, they will have devastating effects on various species, including jaguar, ocelot, javelinas and pronghorns. Some of those are endangered.

    For taxpayers, to whom Mr. Trump promised that Mexico would foot the bill — it hasn’t paid a dime — the wall has been a raw deal. The administration managed to devote some $15 billion to construction, an amount that was supposed to be sufficient to build more than 700 miles of barriers. As The Post reported, roughly $3.3 billion of those funds — some diverted from building projects on U.S. military bases worldwide — will remain unused when Mr. Biden takes office. However, of that amount, $700 million will be required to unwind existing construction contracts, leaving a savings — if you can call it that — of about $2.6 billion.

    What a waste.

  169. says

    johnson @213, right. It troubles me that the Goebbels technique works so well.

    johnson @210, I hadn’t thought of that. It must be exhausting to be a QAnon follower.

  170. blf says

    Lynna@215, Referring to hair furor Quirky cApitalizatioN and delusiON, “I hadn’t thought of that. It must be exhausting to be a QAnon follower.”

    There’s an app for that ! (Well, there was, apparently, Generalissimo Google™ banned them from its online app repository.) The mildly deranged penguin has devised her own, now available at all absurd conspiracy dealers lurking ’round the corner from Wacko House everywhere (stupidphone not included). A sampling:

    Q: whose q?
    A: +++ out of cheese error +++

    Q: did great leader win in a landside?
    A: Stilton

    Q: stillton?
    A: +++ out of cheese error +++

    Q: you need blue cheese?
    A: Stilton, Roquefort, Bleuchâtel, Dolcelatte, Bleu de Gex, (and so on for several hours…) Castello, and Fourme d'Ambert. As a First Course. Then… (No-one’s ever gotten to this point as either their batteries, patience, connection limit, or intelligence is exhausted.)

    Occasionally there are odd questions. Some examples:

    Q: Is Trump sane
    A: He is a not Reptilian despite drinking Bleach and mainlining Hydroxychloroquine

    Q: Is disinfectant a safe Chinadian virus cure?
    A: That's why they are invading Maine

    Q: 5G is a plot to inject GPS chips to control us all by WiFi!!1!
    A: +++ Redo from Start +++

    Attempts to decode the messages are usually successful:

    Q: eW w0n thE Elect1On fAir& sqUarEE!
    A: You are an eejit

    Q: antifa iS a coMMIe plotty
    A: You are a bigoted eejit

    Q: natO WES US money!
    A: Brainless Looney Mastodons, ANTI-FruitcAkes, and Super Potty Laughing Clowns can explain (some decoding necessary, good luck, you're going to need it)

  171. tomh says

    Only in San Francisco.
    Gingerbread monolith sweetens Christmas Day in San Francisco
    Jon Skillings
    Dec. 26, 2020

    The towering baked good appeared mysteriously on Christmas morning on a promontory in San Francisco’s Corona Heights Park. … roughly eight feet tall, its gingerbread slabs held together by icing, with a smattering of gumdrop rivets…

    When General Manager Phil Ginsburg was asked if his staff would take down the gingerbread monolith at Corona Heights Park his answer was:
    “We will leave it up until the cookie crumbles.”

  172. blf says

    Via a twisty path, I started listening to the late Ewan MacColl‘s singing You may not recognise that name, but you probably know his (some of) his work; perhaps most famously, he wrote Dirty Old Town, and also, as a love song to his (later-)wife Peggy Seeger, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Anyways, I stumbled on this, Legal Illegal (video). Recording released on 01-Jan-1978 but still very applicable and appropriate. (With Peggy Seegar, and slightly “U”K-specific but still very understandable.)

  173. blf says

    Critics fear Trump could pressure William Barr’s successor for big favors:

    […]
    Former justice department officials say they are worried Trump will lean on Barr’s less experienced successor, the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, to push policies which Trump has suggested he backs, including naming special counsels to investigate President-elect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and using the DoJ to investigate Trump’s baseless charges of widespread election fraud.

    Critics also fear Rosen could face pressure from Trump to help obtain a legal opinion that would allow Trump to pardon himself by reversing a justice department opinion that dates back to the Nixon era and bars a presidential self-pardon. Such a move would probably trigger widespread outrage.

    Mounting concerns that Trump will try to squeeze favors from Rosen, who became Barr’s deputy AG in early 2019 without previous DoJ experience, stem partly from Trump’s post-election anger at Barr, despite being arguably his strongest cabinet ally in the run-up to the November election.

    […]

    Paul Rosenzweig, a former prosecutor under Ken Starr when he was a special counsel investigating President Bill Clinton, said Barr’s departure after heavy criticism by Trump seems to signal that Trump wants a “more malleable leader at the head of Do — one who will not resist his last-minute aberrations”.

    […]

    “I don’t think we can fully imagine the range of inappropriate actions Rosen could be asked to undertake,” [former DoJ inspector general Michael] Bromwich said. “Unlike Barr, Rosen is an unknown and enigmatic figure to the outside world, with no reputation outside the narrow circle of people he has worked with. I doubt that he wants his legacy to be kowtowing to the whims of a president [sic] who has taken leave of his senses.”

    […]

    Other DoJ veterans add that any Trump pressures on Rosen to name special counsels to investigate Hunter Biden or unfounded charges of major election fraud had a good chance of being overturned by Biden’s AG given Barr’s statements rejecting the need for them.

    Besides pressing Rosen for favors, ex-DoJ hands say that Trump’s own actions involving potential pardons of family members and political allies, which Trump is said to be weighing on top of others he made this week, could create legal headaches for him after he leaves office.

    Some pardons might lead to charges of obstruction of justice, or spur incriminating testimony in investigations of Trump and his business by two New York prosecutors when he departs.

    […]

    Donald Ayer, who was deputy AG under George HW Bush, noted that Trump might need to consider that some pardons “could boomerang. He may have reason for concern that people he pardoned will be compelled to testify, since once pardoned, and perhaps given some further modest grant of immunity, the people he pardons will have no right to refuse to testify against Trump or anyone else based on the fifth amendment.”

  174. blf says

    Whilst a bit dated compared to the previous examples (@220 and @218), and also suffering from the “all-MSM-is-the-same” disease, this is still relevant and on-point, Peggy Seegar & Ewan MacColl, The Media (also c.1986).

  175. blf says

    Sorry sorry sorry for keeping going on on my current obvious Ewan MacColl (& Peggy Seegar) ah, obsession (cheese and port not included, albeit there is a penguin, only mildly deranged, possibly available…), but another one… c.1960, about the currently-seasonal Mr Carpenterson, Ballad of the Carpenter (video).

    And this is brilliant, Yankee Doodle (video):

    Yankee Doodle came to town
    H-bombs in his pocket
    Says, Chum if you don’t toe the line
    I’ll blast you with me rocket!

    Chorus: Yankee Doodle, Uncle Sam
    Batman also Superman
    Known from here to Viet Nam
    As Yankee Doodle Dandy

    Yankee Doodle went to Mars
    Landed on a Sunday
    Found some people living there
    And killed ’em off by Monday

    (chorus)

    Yankee Doodle went to work
    As hard as he was able
    Bombing schools and hospitals
    And babies in the cradle

    (chorus)

    Yankee Doodle’s got a plan
    It’s called ‘Defoliation’
    Tried it out in Viet Nam
    To civilize the nation

    (chorus)

    Yankee Doodle, he’s the boy
    For rape, assault and pillage
    Never lets a day go by
    Without he burns a village

    (chorus)

    Yankee Doodle never crosses
    Over any border
    Except to kill more people
    In the name of law and order

    (chorus)

    Yankee Doodle feels that he
    Is not appreciated
    He’s generous with his napalm
    And yet, somehow, he’s hated

    (chorus)

    Yankee Doodle’s got the know-how
    Death is what he teaches
    And Mr Health just shows his teeth
    And murmurs little speeches

    (chorus)

    “Mr Health” has me puzzled, I very strongly suspect that is a mistranscripion for “Mr Heath” (Edward Heath), the British PM at the time (c.1972) and immediately prior to teh evil one herself, Margaret Thatcher.

  176. blf says

    And of course (one I knew of previously, but admit I’d forgotten about), Peggy Seeger solo this time, I’m Gonna Be An Engineer (video). Composed c.1970, albeit this may be a later recording. There’s apparently a variant dating to the mid-1990s, also by Ms Seeger, called I’m Gonna Be An Lawyer, albeit I’ve never heard it and have not been able to locate a recording.

  177. tomh says

    Judge Blocks Federal Wage Freeze on Farmworkers
    MARIA DINZEO

    FRESNO, Calif. (CN) — Farm workers won an eleventh-hour reprieve from a Department of Labor rule that would freeze their wages for the next two years.

    The new rule published by the Labor Department last month locks in at 2019 levels the minimum wage employers must pay foreign agricultural workers with H-2A visas, known as the adverse effect wage rate.

    Beginning in 2023, the Labor Department also seeks to tie future wage increases to the generic employment cost index instead of relying on the Farm Labor Survey, causing wages to rise at an even slower rate.

    But U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd blocked the rule from taking effect in a ruling Wednesday because the department failed to justify its desire to freeze wages at below-market rate and did not adequately study whether the rule would also lead to wage stagnation among U.S. farmworkers…

    In his 39-page ruling, Drozd noted that California farmworkers, already earning a subsistence income, would be paid $0.81 less per hour under the rule, and that laborers in Oregon and Washington would be paid $77.40 less per month…

    In arguing that Drozd should allow the rule to take effect immediately, the government tried to blame the union for filing their lawsuit at the last minute. But Drozd said the time crunch is squarely the fault of the government, which created the problem by trying to eschew this year’s Farm Labor Survey.

    Drozd said he would preserve the status quo until the government can update its Adverse Effect Wage Rate data. The Farm Labor Report is expected to be published on Feb. 11, 2021, and Drozd said he expects the Labor Department to set the 2021 minimum wage rate for immigration farm laborers within 30 days of its publication…

  178. blf says

    More on tomh@217, Ephemeral edible: gingerbread monolith appears on San Francisco hilltop, then collapses:

    […]
    Like the other monoliths that have mysteriously appeared across America and the world in the waning weeks of 2020, the one that popped up on a California hilltop on Christmas Day seemed to come out of nowhere.

    Also like the others, it was tall, three-sided and it rapidly attracted crowds of curious visitors before an untimely destruction.

    Unlike the others, this monolith was made of … gingerbread.

    […]

    Phil Ginsburg, head of city’s Recreation and Parks Department, told KQED the site “looks like a great spot to get baked” and confirmed his staff will not remove the monument “until the cookie crumbles”.

    It did by Saturday morning […]

    The mildly deranged penguin keeps constructing monoliths out of cheese — but eats them before being either completed or discovered.

  179. blf says

    Events are dated, and several more recent conspirators not mentioned by name, still very very relevant, The Great Conspiracy (video); Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl, c.1986. As a commentator says (typos corrected without marking):

    George Floyd, slowly killed in plain sight
    They crushed his neck without evidence of a crime
    He begged for his life showing immense desperation
    While undergoing police apprehension
    He was killed by

    Chevron, Walmart and ExxonMobile
    Koch industries and Cargill
    Apple, Tesla and Amazon
    Pence, Trump, and the GOP
    And the false alternative of the DNC
    Who all dance to the tune of
    THE GREAT CONSPIRACY!

  180. says

    Latest episode of Stay Tuned with Preet – “Ghosts of Scandals Past”:

    On this episode of Stay Tuned, “Ghosts of Scandals Past,” Preet is joined by Rachel Maddow, the host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, to talk about her new book Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House, which investigates the mostly-forgotten crimes of Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew. Maddow and Preet also talk about the state of TV journalism and the difficulty of covering the GOP’s hypocrisy.

  181. says

    Worth quoting from the episode @ #229 – Maddow, speaking about how Agnew expected that the investigation into his crimes would be corruptly dropped: “Grievance and entitlement are two sides of the same coin.”

  182. blf says

    Somewhat related to @219, Trump stain likely to dog officials’ post-administration job prospects:

    […]
    In normal times it would go to the top of anyone’s curriculum vitae or résumé. Serving in the White House has typically been a passport to a lucrative job on a corporate board, in the lobbying industry or at a prestigious Washington thinktank.

    But alumni of Donald Trump’s administration could be in for a rude awakening. The outgoing president [sic] proved so disruptive and divisive that those perceived to have been his enablers may find themselves given the cold shoulder as they seek alternative employment.

    “Those people will carry this stain with them for the rest of their lives,” said Moe Vela, a former senior adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden. “The further we get away from his tenure, the more historians, political scientists, political operatives and just history itself will uncover, reveal and continue to demonstrate just how corrupt this was. And as that continues, the stain will only grow darker and larger.”

    […] Kayleigh McEnany […] may find such work harder to come by. She has been an unapologetic defender of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and false claims of election rigging as well as a fierce critic of the press. Oliver Darcy, a senior media reporter at CNN, wondered recently: “Has McEnany ever provided the press any useful info at one of these supposed briefings? It’s hard to remember any real news that was broken or offered at these events.”

    McEnany may seek to follow in the footsteps of Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, now a host on the conservative TV channel Newsmax. She already regularly appears on Fox News and could formalise the arrangement. […]

    [… F]or others, the future is harder to discern. The president’s [sic] daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner, also a senior adviser, are said to be persona non grata in New York, where they might have hoped to resume their old lives. […]

    […]

    Vela commented: “I don’t think there will be anywhere in the United States, or anywhere around the world, that the more high-profile, recognisable ones will be able to ever go again where they will not be met with some semblance of resistance, at least for the foreseeable future.”

    Expressing the hostility towards [Stephen] Miller felt by many, Vela, an entrepreneur and LGBTQ and Latino activist, added: “Frankly, he is so vile that, unless he rehabilitates or has some redemptive situation, I don’t understand the contribution he makes to the human family.”

    […]

    “My guess is that Donald Trump will create some sort of political organisation, using all the money that he’s been raising by alleging that the election was stolen, and that operation will employ some of the people,” she[? Elaine Kamarck of Harvard Kennedy School of Government?] said. “I think the kids will probably go back into trying to salvage the business empire.

    “Some of them may have political aspirations themselves, but I don’t see many of the close-in Trump people becoming lobbyists because Trump never had good relations with Congress and they certainly don’t. I don’t see them going into thinktanks because there’s no scholars among them.”

    Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington, added: “Look, Donald Trump didn’t have a normal presidency [sic] so it’s not going to be a normal post-presidency [sic] either.”

  183. says

    Donald Trump shouldn’t be tried for tax fraud, he should be tried for mass murder.

    […] I want Trump to be taken to the The Hague and tried before the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity.

    To be clear right off the bat, I understand that this isn’t going to happen. The United States is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC). And while the Obama administration vowed to cooperate with the court, conservatives have been so anti-ICC that under George W. Bush that they even passed a law saying the United States would help to free prisoners being held for trial by the ICC. […]

    But that doesn’t mean some appropriate venue for Trump can’t be found. Should be found. Has to be found. Because Trump’s crimes far exceed anything that can be dealt with in a New York state court looking into how he shuffled funds among his 500+ shell companies.

    […] When determining the scale of any crime, motivation plays a key role. […] Someone who kills by accident, even when that accident was the result of staggering bad judgment, is not held to either the same level of horror or judgment as those who set out to take a life intentionally. Again, it would be hard to find any executive who could stand up to the rigors of a court that held them accountable for simple mistakes. And again, that is not the case with Trump.

    The person who determines to kill with cold knowledge of what they are doing, and with expectation of some personal gain, is regarded as the worst form of killer. And that is exactly what Donald Trump did when he knowingly made the decision to halt plans for national testing and contact tracing.

    Trump understood that aggressive national guidelines on social distancing, the institution of a national testing program, and follow-up with a program of contact tracing could save a large number of lives and restrict the spread of COVID-19. He had examples before him of exactly how successful a program could be.

    On March 13, the day that Trump rolled out what was supposed to be a nationwide set of drive-thru testing facilities sited at thousands of “big box” retailers and backed by a website created by “7,000 engineers from Google,” South Korea had just finished utterly crushing the initial outbreak in that country. They had done so using exactly the techniques that were being advocated on that day: widespread testing, detailed contact tracing, strict quarantine of infected individuals, and isolation of those in contact with the infected. It wasn’t just South Korea. Other nations, such as Taiwan, smashed their first surge of cases in the same way, and did so in spite of close proximity and regular contact with the area of China that had seen the original outbreak.

    But Trump did not follow the announcement on March 13 with an actual system of either testing or case tracing. The website that he cited did not exist. The testing facilities themselves never went past a handful of poorly supplied locations mismanaged by Jared Kushner and his college buddies. That was not a failure born from ignorance or bumbling, though there was plenty of both to go around. It was an intentional decision made by Trump and his White House staff to allow COVID-19 to ravage the country because he believed it would be to his political advantage.

    As Trump watched disaster unfold in New York City, he didn’t think, “What can I do to help?” He thought, “Excellent.” He thought that if he continued to pull his punches against the virus, the death toll would climb primarily in blue states. He thought the blame would fall on Democratic politicians. He thought he could hold on to power by walking over a sea of bodies.

    Trump murdered Americans for personal gain, with calculated intent and full knowledge of what he was doing. Whether the United States honors the ICC or not, there is absolutely no doubt that Trump’s actions fit the definition of both genocide and crimes against humanity. He deserves a trial and punishment appropriate to scale of those crimes.

    And don’t even get me started on the sedition …

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/12/26/2002578/-Donald-Trump-shouldn-t-be-tried-for-tax-fraud-he-should-be-tried-for-mass-murder

  184. says

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

    From their summary:

    The official vaccination programme has begun across Europe after three countries started administering jabs a day earlier than planned. Italy, France, and Spain all started vaccinating people this morning. Germany, Hungary and Slovakia administered their first shots on Saturday.

    The Czech prime minister became the first European leader to get the jab. Andrej Babiš was given the Pfizer vaccine at a military hospital in Prague.

    Canada has become the latest country to detect cases of the new strain of the virus first identified in the UK. Dr Barbara Yaffe, the associate chief medical officer of Ontario province, said the first two confirmed cases were a couple from the country’s Durham region with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts.

    The head of the firm behind the Oxford vaccine has said researchers believe the jab will remain effective against the new variant strain. But AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times more tests were needed to be sure, while he hailed the discovery of what he called a “winning formula” to improve the jab’s efficacy….

  185. blf says

    SC@237, BOCL (Bounces Off Ceiling Laughing).

    Masterstroke! Don’t vote for your preferred candidate so the non-existent fraud will be revealed; and Announce your great stoopidityplan in advance so the people who are doing nothing to commit fraud can continue to do nothing; and Assume the people who wrote the non-existent algorithm also cannot do basic maths.

    Also, some leading Questions with in A few raNdom-seeming capatialisatiOns and obvious secret hiNts.

  186. says

    SC @237 and blf @240, [eyes widen, eyebrows raised, scoffing laughter]

    OMG, Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, and various members of the Trump cult seem to actually believe this anti-math, anti-fact nonsense. And they are using it to suppress Republican votes! Democratic Party candidates Ossoff and Warnock have an even better chance to win.

    In this rare case, willful ignorance and general stupidity give me some hope for a good outcome.

    Seriously funny. Republicans are writing their own SNL skits.

  187. says

    From Republican Senator Pat Toomey:

    You don’t get everything you want, even if you’re president of the United States. I think the COVID relief measures are really, really important.

    [Trump will] be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire.

    [Trump] would like to send bigger checks to everybody. He should sign the bill first and then make the case.

    Congress can pass another bill. I don’t agree with $2,000 to people who have had no lost income whatsoever, which is the vast majority of Americans, but the President’s free to make that case.

    But we’ve got a bill right now that his administration helped negotiate. I think we ought to get that done.

    From comments posted by readers:

    no worries, bud, erratic behavior is just one of many things he’ll be remembered for, you enabling pile of garbage.
    ——————-
    At this point, Trump is simply craving attention and he’s getting it. Once again, January 20th can’t get here fast enough.
    ——————–
    My fondest hope and Trump’s worst nightmare is that he will be forgotten
    ——————–
    My wife and I know people locally who are going to be even more harmed than they already have been. It is cruelty porn.
    ———————-
    “I don’t agree with $2,000 to people who have had no lost income whatsoever, which is the vast majority of Americans”

    WTF? Only a CONservative could think this way. This is no different then the mask argument. This idea that if they don’t know someone, aren’t directly effected or it’s a minority being effectd so no help is needed is disgusting.
    ——————–
    “Pool [reporters] saw just a few people along the route to the golf club – two supporters waved flags while another held a sign that read ‘crazy f**k.'”
    ———————
    Goes without saying, but an appeal to Trump considering his legacy is wasted hot air. Trump constructs his own reality in his head, and then uses his idiot savant marketing talent to try imposing it on the world. He will always think he was the bestest President in US history.

    And because he’s good at marketing to the rubes, at least 20% of Americans will believe that too. They’ll believe it even if they end up with $600 stimulus checks instead of $2,000 ones. It’s mass hypnosis on an unprecedented scale.

  188. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Too Busy Golfing To Care That Downtown Nashville Blew Up”

    Before dawn on Christmas Day, Nashville police responded to sounds of gunfire on Second Avenue, a charming historic district containing shops, restaurants, bars, and galleries. Instead of a shoot out, the officers found an RV broadcasting a disturbing message: A bomb was set to detonate in 15 minutes.

    This seemed like something from the prologue of an action movie, but it was all too real: The resulting explosion devastated several surrounding blocks — blackening roadways, scorching trees, destroying property — and left three people hospitalized.

    The explosion took place around around 6:30 a.m. outside 166 Second Avenue North, normally a highly populated area where tourists are drawn to the Hard Rock Cafe, Redneck Riviera Barbecue and Honky Tonk Bus Tours. It was fortunately much quieter on Christmas morning, but there were still people for the police to disperse: Residents in nearby apartment buildings, weary guests in hotels, and sadly those with no recourse but to sleep on the cold streets.

    The bomb squad couldn’t arrive in time to stop the explosion, which occurred as the RV’s recording announced. However, the officer’s quick work evacuating anyone in the vicinity likely saved lives. […]

    From The New York Times:

    The R.V. exploded just outside the Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant in a downtown building, like many others in the area, that was erected in the late 19th century. Windows on either end of the building were blown out, as were the large, heavy doors at the building’s entrance. The explosion also triggered the sprinkler system, which flooded the restaurant for about eight hours.

    “It’s a mess,” said Mark Rosenthal, one of the restaurant’s owners. “We have about 115 people working there, but that’s 115 people that now don’t have jobs. So that’s rough to think about.”

    Authorities are unsure if anyone was inside the vehicle, but human tissue was found near the debris. A witness recalls that the RV’s message came from a “mechanical, female sounding voice.” Federal agents stated Saturday that they still don’t know who carried out the explosion, but there is a person of interest: Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, of Antioch, whose neighbors identified the RV involved as belonging to him.

    From Newsweek:

    Larissa Moreno, another neighbor, told WKRN that the RV had been parked by Warner’s home for years.

    “When I would drive by from the top of the hill, that RV would be in their backyard. It was there for a really long time, probably like for years,” Moreno said.

    “It was old. Didn’t look used. Didn’t look like it was taken out or used at all really. It just looked old,” she said.

    […] Warner was described as a loner who kept to himself, but for personal reasons, I just want to clarify that those traits alone don’t make you a psychopath. Law enforcement plans to swab Warner’s mother, who must be at least in her 80s, to confirm if the remains at the bomb site are his.

    No one knows for sure what the suspect’s motivations were.The RV was parked next to an AT&T transmission building and Warner’s late father used to work for BellSouth, which merged with AT&T in 2006. The recorded message urged people to clear the area, which might suggest the suspect wanted to avoid casualties.

    Before the explosion, Betsy Williams said she heard what she thought were gunshots early on Friday, then she noticed the R.V. parked across the street from her apartment

    “It started playing this message,” she recalled. “‘Evacuate now. This vehicle has a bomb and will explode. Evacuate now.'”

    America’s so-called president, Donald Trump, has remained silent at least regarding this explosion in a major American city. He’s whined about the election he still refuses to admit he lost. He even complained that fashion magazines showed no love for his trophy wife. A sedate statement was released from his spokesperson, but Trump’s Twitter feed reflects what actually matters to him.

    Trump is quick to denounce violent acts from groups he doesn’t like, ranging from Iranians to Black people of all nations. Here, it’s possible a white man is responsible for something other than refusing to help him steal an election. He can’t package and sell that outrage to his followers. He might as well just golf.

    Link

  189. says

    Inequality in health care:

    […] “I put forth and I maintain: If I was White, I wouldn’t have to go through that.”

    That was Susan Moore, from her hospital bed in Indianapolis, where she was being treated for covid-19, and where, an oxygen tube in her nose, she summoned the strength to post a Facebook video about her treatment.

    That was Dr. Susan Moore, family physician, University of Michigan Medical School graduate, Black woman. She described how the White doctor treating her “made me feel like I was a drug addict,” refusing to prescribe her additional narcotics when she complained of pain — even though he knew she was a fellow physician. She related how he rejected her plea for additional doses of remdesivir; how “he did not even listen to my lungs , he didn’t touch me in any way”; how he suggested she should just go home.

    “This is how Black people get killed, when you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves,” Moore said.

    If anyone knew how to fight for herself, it would have been Moore. Still, she was sent home. Less than three weeks later, she was dead, at 52. […]

    This white supremacist ideology has long shaped our values and practices, even in the health-care sector. Moore’s educational background makes her experience slightly more nuanced: Her being a physician brings the privilege of credibility and attracts the attention of many who do not believe that such mistreatment is pervasive.

    Yet her experience is all too familiar in Black and Brown communities. That persistent experience of being ignored and harmed is the cornerstone of why Black and Brown people don’t trust our health-care system. Our collective and individual experiences with health-care systems and institutions that harm people of color are not only in the past — they are happening now.

    A study in 2016 — only four years ago — showed that many White medical students and residents believed false race-based metrics and narratives, such as that Black people experience pain less than Whites. This is the same false belief held by J. Marion Sims, considered the father of modern gynecology, who performed vaginal surgical procedures on enslaved women without anesthesia.

    […] Appropriate — and standard — pain management was only one of Moore’s calls for help.

    If a physician can’t be heard by her own peers to save her life, then who will listen? Who will be held accountable? What actions are necessary to ensure that no one feels that their only way to survive and be heard is by posting a cellphone video on Facebook?

    […] Say Susan Moore’s name. Heed her message. Do not let her death be in vain.

    Washington Post link

  190. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #243:

    …The explosion took place around around 6:30 a.m. outside 166 Second Avenue North, normally a highly populated area where tourists are drawn to the Hard Rock Cafe, Redneck Riviera Barbecue and Honky Tonk Bus Tours. It was fortunately much quieter on Christmas morning,…

    The RV was parked next to an AT&T transmission building and Warner’s late father used to work for BellSouth, which merged with AT&T in 2006. The recorded message urged people to clear the area, which might suggest the suspect wanted to avoid casualties.

    Before the explosion, Betsy Williams said she heard what she thought were gunshots early on Friday, then she noticed the R.V. parked across the street from her apartment

    “It started playing this message,” she recalled. “‘Evacuate now. This vehicle has a bomb and will explode. Evacuate now.’”…

    That does make it appear that the building was the target.

  191. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Hundreds of British tourists quarantining in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier fled in the night, rather than finishing their period of self isolation.

    About 200 of the 420 tourists in the luxury Alpine resort left under the cover of darkness, according to the country’s SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

    The Swiss government introduced a 10-day retrospective quarantine for anyone who arrived from Britain since 14 December, after the detection of a new potentially more contagious Covid-19 variant. Two cases have been detected in the country, and one in neighbouring Liechtenstein.

    “Many of them stayed in quarantine for a day before they set off unnoticed under the cover of darkness,” Jean-Marc Sandoz, spokesman for the wider Bagnes municipality, told SZ.

    He called the whole situation “the worst week our community has ever experienced”. The situation was given away by untouched breakfasts, left by visitors who had escaped, he said.

    British tourists normally make up 21% of the Verbier clientele, and most start arriving in the days after Christmas.

  192. says

    David Corn: “Trump has abandoned his duties. Doing nothing to arrest the pandemic surge, as thousands die each day. Playing golf instead, as Pence goes skiing. Non-performance of duties ought to be impeachable. Authors of the Constitution could not foresee such reckless irresponsibility.”

  193. says

    CNN is showing live video from a town about 25 miles from Nashville. There’s a robot bomb device investigating a truck on the side of the road after reports that it was playing similar audio to the RV that exploded. You can’t really see what’s around there, but it looks pretty rural.

  194. says

    Coronavirus cases in the USA have surpassed 19 million. On Saturday alone, 226,274 cases were recorded. Compare that to the first day in early November when more than 100,000 cases were recorded in one day. We were shocked then. We are shocked now, but also somewhat numbed.

    The number of deaths is 332,502.

    Hospitalizations are over 120,000.

  195. says

    Covid unemployment benefits expire after Trump refuses to sign aid bill

    Other pandemic assistance programs are set to end and a government shutdown looms as Trump spends his holiday at Mar-a-Lago.

    Pandemic unemployment assistance, a lifeline for 7.3 million American workers out of work because of the coronavirus, expired at midnight Sunday morning after […] Trump continued to resist signing the $2.3 trillion package that combines government funding with Covid-19 relief.

    The bill — the result of protracted negotiations between both parties and the Trump administration that the president himself largely sat out — includes a $900 billion Covid-19 stimulus package that would extend those unemployment benefits: $114 to $357 weekly payments to unemployed gig workers and self-employed people whose businesses have stalled.

    That package would also extend the federal eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on Dec. 31. Without an extension, millions could face an immediate housing crisis.

    The legislation would also fund the federal government through September 2021. Without Trump’s signature, the government will shut down at midnight Tuesday morning.

    After Congress passed the bill with large bipartisan support late Monday, Trump threw Washington into chaos by suddenly raising an objection to the size of a new round of direct payments, which came as news to his own aides who had negotiated them with Congress. He demanded lawmakers raise the amount to $2,000 and criticized other elements he called “pork” included within the mammoth spending package, including routine annual foreign aid payments. […]

    Biden called on Trump to sign the bill in a strongly worded statement Saturday, calling the president’s failure to do so an “abdication of responsibility” with “devastating consequences.” […]

  196. says

    Mass confusion over Trump’s endgame as Washington barrels toward shutdown, economic crisis.

    Washington Post link

    White House officials have been mum on Trump’s demands, leaving Democrats and Republicans to try and parse his tweets as Monday deadline looms.

    As […] Trump rapidly approached a Monday deadline to avert a government shutdown, aides and lawmakers appeared flummoxed about his strategy, left to interpret musings from his Twitter feed while he golfed and otherwise remained out of public view.

    A large spending bill that Congress passed last week must be signed into law by midnight on Monday in order to prevent many federal agencies from dramatically scaling back their operations. After Congress passed the bill, Trump posted a video on Twitter announcing his objections to it, claiming stimulus benefits were too small and that foreign aid was too excessive.

    Since he posted the video on Dec. 22, White House aides have not offered any public briefings on Trump’s strategy or plans. Instead, Trump has issued a series of tweets reiterating his demand for changes but not saying much more. Vice president Mike Pence is in Vail, Colo. and has also been out of sight in recent days.

    The consequences of inaction are immense.

    Starting Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be sent home without pay. And even the many federal employees who continue to work because they are deemed “essential,” such as members of the military, will not be paid until a new funding bill is authorized.

    In addition to a government shutdown on Tuesday, eviction protections for millions of Americans would lapse later this week, more than 14 million people could lose access to unemployment benefits, and no stimulus checks would be issued. In addition, failing to sign the bill into law would freeze new money for vaccine distribution, small business aid, money for the ailing airline industry, and school aid, among other things.

    […]
    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on ABC News said the president was behaving as an “extraordinary narcissist” and almost “pathologically narcissistic” in his eleventh-hour crusade against the bill.

    […] The White House has provided virtually no information about what its plans are to head off the potential economic calamity of a shutdown and the failure of the relief effort.

    […] “People will die without this money,” Deseree said. “People will get evicted. People will not be able to get their medication. To [lawmakers], $600 or $2,000, it seems so little. But to the American people right now, it’s just everything.”

    […] other option to avoid a government shutdown would be to urgently pass a short-term spending bill, but congressional leaders have not publicly begun discussing that alternative and time is running out.

    Trump stunned the nation on Tuesday when he blasted the stimulus legislation previously backed by his own administration as a “disgrace” and called on Congress to dramatically amend it. Congress has not met Trump’s demands and there are no negotiations that could realistically amend the bill for it to be quickly reapproved. Five days after Trump’s shocking video, Congress and the nation are still waiting for the president to clarify his intentions about the emergency relief package. So far, he has only tweeted.

    “Everybody in the White House is trying to figure out what’s in Trump’s head, if this is a bluff or if he’s going to carry this out. He’s been confronted with all the facts and evidence,” said one person briefed by several White House officials over the weekend, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal discussions. “Nobody knows what Trump is going to do. It’s a bizarre situation.”

    One person who interacted with Trump in Palm Beach in recent days said the president had not discussed the economic relief bill or the looming government funding deadline. Instead, Trump has been far more focused on his failed effort to reverse the election result, lashing out at Republicans in Congress and members of his own administration for not joining him in the fight.

    If Trump vetoes the bill or does nothing at all, the federal government would shutdown Monday at midnight. That raises the prospect of a prolonged government shutdown, until Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

    […] Much of the foreign aid decried by Trump was also requested in the White House’s own budget proposal.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected on Monday to hold a vote on $2,000 stimulus payments to showcase Republican opposition to the more generous stimulus measure. Pelosi’s attempt to pass the larger stimulus checks via “unanimous consent” was defeated by House Republicans on Friday. […]

    The 5,593-page bill that is at the center of Trump’s new demands was introduced on Dec. 21 and approved by the House and Senate later that day. It was a fast turnaround, but it was supported by broad majorities in both chambers. The Senate passed the measure by a 92 to 6 margin.

    With Trump and Pence both ensconced in resort towns, the incoming Biden administration seized on the void to allege that the Trump administration was exhibiting rudderless leadership. […]

  197. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 246

    This idol speculation on my part, but considering that this bomb was parked in front of a transmission station, maybe he got redpilled on 5G conspiracy theories?

  198. says

    Nerd @256 is right.

    In reversal, Trump signs spending bill, unlocking Covid aid and averting shutdown
    […] Trump backtracked Sunday and signed a $2.3 trillion package that combines Covid-19 relief with government funding.

    His last-minute decision, coming after he caused days of legislative chaos by lacerating a bill his own aides had negotiated, will restore enhanced unemployment assistance that expired Sunday and avert a shutdown that would have begun Tuesday.

    President @realDonaldTrump has signed H.R. 133, an Act making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, providing coronavirus emergency response and relief, and for other purposes.

    […]

  199. says

    Follow-up to comment 257.

    More details:

    […] In a statement Sunday announcing that he had signed the relief bill while claiming that both chambers of Congress would begin the process of meeting some of his demands, Trump said he had “told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child.”

    He continued: “As President I am demanding many rescissions under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.”

    “I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” Trump said.

    The act allows for a president to request that Congress rescind appropriated funds, but Congress can ignore such requests, and such cuts are highly unlikely. The 116th Congress ends Jan. 3, and President-elect Joe Biden will not go along with Trump’s demands.

    Trump’s statement also claimed without evidence that “the House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election.”

    I wonder, is it possible someone bullshitted Trump into believing that?

    The House is controlled by Democrats, who would never agree to such a demand. Trump’s claim of “very substantial voter fraud” is baseless. His campaign has failed to provide any evidence of fraud in the dozens of lawsuits it has filed to overturn the results. Former Attorney General William Barr confirmed this month that the Justice Department had uncovered no widespread fraud in the election, and states have certified the results confirming Biden the winner. […]

    Trump said in his statement Sunday evening that the House would vote Monday to increase the amount to $2,000 for individuals and that the Senate would likewise “start the process.”

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that Trump’s signature was “welcome news,” and she called on Trump to encourage Republicans to “end their obstruction” and support House Democrats’ standalone effort to boost direct payments.

    In his own statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made no mention of any of the promises Trump ascribed to the chamber, including any possible vote on increasing the payment amount.

    Instead, McConnell thanked Trump and praised him for his “leadership” in preventing the government shutdown that would have been triggered by his continued refusal to sign the bill.

    “His leadership has prevented a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one,” McConnell said. […]

    Last week, Trump vetoed the annual military spending bill, which passed the House and the Senate with veto-proof majorities. Congress has until Jan. 2 to override the veto, which would be the first during the Trump administration.

  200. says

    Follow-up to comment 257 and 258.

    More details:

    […] “I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in a statement upon signing the legislation. “I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.”

    Trump’s demand that Congress clawback some of the spending greenlighted under the deal is already facing pushback, in a sign that congressional leaders are likely to ignore it.

    “The House appropriations committee has jurisdiction over rescissions, and our Democratic majority will reject any rescissions submitted by President Trump,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

    Trump’s statement was at times self-congratulatory despite his role in the uncertainty of the past week.

    The president credited his work with Congress in passing the CARES Act earlier this year, which he said helped the country avoid “another Great Depression,” though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was the lead negotiator for the White House.

    Trump boasted that he was signing the bill “to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP [the Paycheck Protection Program], return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.” But unemployment benefits lapsed on Saturday, and eviction moratoriums would have done the same had Trump not signed the bill soon. […]

    Link

  201. tomh says

    From Rick Hasen’s Election Blog

    Louie Gohmert Sues Mike Pence in Lawsuit Asking Court to Give Pence “Exclusive Authority” To Decide Which Electoral College Votes to Count at Jan. 6 Congressional Session

    Copy of Complaint

    Same old plan, keep throwing stuff up against the wall and pray something sticks.

  202. says

    Trump Hotel Concedes Election, ‘Unblocks’ Hotel Rooms on Inauguration Week

    The Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. has “unblocked” rooms for the week of the presidential inauguration, making them available for online reservations. The move implies the chain has conceded […] Trump’s defeat.

    Rooms for the week of Jan. 16–20 had been blocked from the hotel’s calendar. They are now available, and room prices have spiked to $3,600 a night from January 5-6.

    The price surge could be because Trump recently teased an event in D.C. on January 6, which is the same day the Electoral College votes are counted in Congress.

    Prices for the week of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration are still set as $886 to $2,225 a night.

    Trump has also been looking to sell the hotel, which is located in the Old Post Office — meaning the family rents the space from the government as the General Services Administration oversees the lease. The project and its ties with the government have led to several ethical controversies for the president since he entered office.

    Real estate investor and developer Brian Friedman has said he plans to bid on the lease for Trump’s hotel but noted that it is underperforming and, therefore, overpriced.

  203. says

    More conservative/trumpian media sources are turning on Trump:

    The New York Post, which had endorsed […] Trump, urged him in an op-ed on Sunday to finally accept his decisive defeat against President-elect Joe Biden instead of constantly trying to steal the election with bogus lawsuits and lies about voter fraud.

    The Post, owned by Trump media ally Rupert Murdoch, told [Trump] that he was “cheering for an undemocratic coup” and that “it’s time to end this dark charade.”

    “We understand, Mr. President, that you’re angry that you lost,” the paper’s board wrote. “But to continue down this road is ruinous.”

    They took aim at the enablers who have peddled absurd conspiracy theories about voter fraud while encouraging Trump to continue his futile crusade against the election results.

    “Sidney Powell is a crazy person,” the board asserted. “Michael Flynn suggesting martial law is tantamount to treason. It is shameful.”

    The board also warned that Trump was putting Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue’s (R-GA) reelection prospects, which will determine whether the GOP will keep the Senate, in jeopardy.

    “You should use your considerable charm and influence to support the Georgia candidates, mobilizing your voters for them. Focus on their success, not your own grievances, as we head into the final week,” the board wrote. “If you insist on spending your final days in office threatening to burn it all down, that will be how you are remembered. Not as a revolutionary, but as the anarchist holding the match.”

    Link

    That’s gotta hurt.

    Trump is planning to hold a rally in Georgia on January 4. I think it is unlikely that he will support David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler (Republican candidates in the Senate runoff race) in any meaningful way. He is more likely to just encourage his more rabid cult followers to show up in Washington D.C. on January 6 in order to foment violence. That’s the day on which Mike Pence is supposed to stand on the Senate floor, pretend to count the electoral college votes, and then declare Joe Biden the winner.

  204. says

    Another crazy lawsuit from the fringes of the Republican Party:

    Vice President Pence was sued Sunday by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and several other Republicans in a far-fetched bid that appeared aimed at overturning President-elect Joe Biden’s election win.

    The lawsuit focuses on Pence’s role in an upcoming Jan. 6 meeting of Congress to count states’ electoral votes and finalize Biden’s victory over President Trump. Typically, the vice president’s role in presiding over the meeting is a largely ceremonial one governed by an 1887 federal law known as the Electoral Count Act.

    But the Republican lawsuit, which was filed against Pence in his official capacity as vice president, asks a federal judge in Texas to strike down the law as unconstitutional. The GOP plaintiffs go further: They ask the court to grant Pence the authority on Jan. 6 to effectively overturn Trump’s defeat in key battleground states.

    Election law experts were dismissive of the lawsuit’s prospects for success.

    “The idea that the Vice President has sole authority to determine whether or not to count electoral votes submitted by a state, or which of competing submissions to count, is inconsistent with a proper understanding of the Constitution,” said Edward Foley, a law professor at the Ohio State University.

    Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Kelli Ward, who chairs the Arizona Republican Party and formerly served as an Arizona state senator. Ward has amplified claims from Trump and his allies – all of which have been dismissed in court – that the 2020 election was subject to widespread fraud and was behind an unsuccessful earlier lawsuit to overturn Biden’s win in Arizona.

    The lawsuit targeting the vice president comes as Pence finds himself under increasing pressure from Trump supporters — even the president himself — to use his statutory role to subvert normal election protocols.

    Trump last week retweeted a supporter who called on Pence to refuse to certify Biden’s win on Jan. 6. The president has also reportedly complained that Pence has not done enough in the fight to overturn Trump’s electoral defeat, according to CNN. […]

    Link

    Pence has not commented.

  205. says

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

    Their summary so far today:

    The UK reported its worst daily figure for new infections since the pandemic began. Health authorities said there were 41,385 new positive tests. The previous highest number was 39,237, reported on 23 December.

    South Africa has tightened restrictions. The president Cyril Ramaphosa banned alcohol sales and extended a nationwide curfew [sigh- SC], as infections passed the one million mark owing to a faster-spreading variant of the disease discovered in the country.

    The French health ministry reported 2,960 new infections; down from 8,822 on Sunday and from Saturday’s 3,093. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, planned to review the situation on Wednesday amid fears of a third lockdown.

    The new variant of the virus was detected in Finland. The country imposed travel restrictions earlier this month on passengers from the UK amid concerns over the new variant, which is thought to be more contagious than previous ones.

    A former Japanese minister died of Covid-19, his party said. Yuichiro Hata, who was transport minister in 2012 and is the son of the former prime minister Tsutomu Hatawho, became the first incumbent lawmaker to succumb to the disease in a nation scrambling to shut its doors to foreign travellers.

    The Catalan regional government stopped short of threats to introduce more severe restrictions. That came despite 973 new cases and 26 deaths in the past 24 hours and a growing risk of a fresh outbreak.

    Also:

    Russia said its coronavirus death toll was more than three times higher than it had previously reported, making it the country with the third-largest number of fatalities.

    For months, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has boasted about Russia’s low fatality rate from the virus, saying earlier this month that it had done a better job at managing the pandemic than western countries.

    But since early in the pandemic, some Russian experts have said the government was playing down the country’s outbreak.

  206. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@247, Only about 12 Britons stay in quarantine in Swiss ski resort after hundreds flee:

    […]
    Only about a dozen British tourists out of about 420 appear to be left in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier after an undisclosed number fled a mandatory quarantine, many under cover of darkness, risking a 10,000 Swiss franc fine (£8,300) [c.11,250$] and drawing widespread condemnation on social media.

    Asked about the runaway tourists, the Swiss health minister, Alain Berset, said: “We are aware of that. It’s obviously a problem. There was an order to quarantine that has not been respected.”

    […]

    While some Swiss officials were sympathetic to the British skiers who quietly escaped rather than comply with Switzerland’s new quarantine rules for citizens from the UK and South Africa [why the feck is anyone “sympathetic” to these plague rats? –blf], after the discovery of a new highly contagious variant of coronavirus, commentators on Twitter were less kind, focusing on the wealth and entitlement of the skiers.

    It also appeared that some of the skiers may have ignored UK advice on not travelling abroad as part of the new restrictions announced before Christmas.

    While Verbier, not far from the French border, has been the focus of most reporting, British skiers also fled other resorts — including the former Leave.EU campaigner Andy Wigmore, who compared his own family to the Von Trapps from The Sound of Music as he escaped via Paris after tough Swiss restrictions were introduced last week.

    So had the best time in wengen.swiss until the Swiss decided to lockdown the country and quarantine all those who didn’t escape for 14 days … well just like in the Sound of Music the Wiggy von Trapps decided to make a run for it from the slopes of Switzerland to the French border in less than 3 hours.” In the film, the Von Trapps are escaping the Nazis.

    Wigmore was one of few British tourists in Switzerland willing to put his head above the parapet in the last week as many chose to leave their apartments and rooms, leaving meals uneaten and beds unslept in.

    [… some confusion as to how many escaped criminally, and how many legally left under modified rules allowing return to teh Plague Islands (“U”K)…]

    The former Financial Times editor Lionel Barber tweeted: “Postscript to the #Verbier break-out: the British must now officially count as the laager louts of Europe.”

    […]

    Verbier is c.600 km away from me.

  207. says

    Guardian – “Saudi rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul sentenced to almost six years in jail”:

    Loujain al-Hathloul, the Saudi women’s rights activist detained three years ago by the Saudi government, has been sentenced to five years and eight months in jail after being found guilty of spying with foreign parties and conspiring against the kingdom.

    But the court suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence, and backdated the start of her jail term to May 2018, meaning she only has three months left to serve.

    Although human rights campaigners will say she should never have been detained for so long without charge, the prospect of serving only a further three months in jail will help defuse a potentially damaging early confrontation with the Biden administration that would have occurred if she had been locked up for a further 20 years, as seemed possible at one point.

    The news of her verdict was first tweeted by the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, which said a Saudi court had “sentenced a female detainee with incitement to change the kingdom’s ruling regime and cooperating with individuals and entities to carry out a foreign agenda”.

    The Saudi kingdom has repeatedly denied that she was arrested for campaigning for women’s right to drive, a right that was granted in 2018, but instead for mounting a campaign to undermine the royal family. The case underlines how little political dissent is allowed within the kingdom.

    The original charge sheet included meeting British and other European diplomats, as well as applying for a job at the United Nations, and using her arrest in her CV. She was also accused of speaking to foreign press agencies and international human rights groups.

    Other charges included joining a group on the messaging app Telegram, where she discussed human rights and a new constitution, liaising with the human rights defender Khaled al-Omair and receiving daily expenses of €50 from foreign organisations when attending international conferences to speak about women in Saudi Arabia.

    Other alleged offences involve tweets about her drive from UAE into Saudi Arabia and documents found on her laptop including a pdf file of the UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. She was also accused of communicating with European embassies about her case at the time the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was due to visit those countries.

    At the last minute, on 10 December, the Saudis dropped charges that included her having been in contact with British, EU and Dutch embassies, possibly because all three are regarded as friendly powers and their involvement in the case might prompt higher levels of protest.

    Hathloul’s sister, Lina, wrote in a tweet that although the ruling meant her sister could be released in March 2021, she was also subject to a five-year travel ban. She said that both her sister and the prosecutor could appeal.

    The suspension of Hathloul’s jail term is also dependent on her not repeating any of the offences over the next three years, a condition that would put a block on her freedom of speech, presuming she is required to stay in Saudi Arabia.

    Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said she found the sentence disturbing, adding that defending human rights was not terrorism….

  208. says

    Guardian – “EU states unanimously back Brexit trade and security deal”:

    The post-Brexit trade and security deal has been unanimously backed by EU member states, paving the way for the new arrangements to come into force on 1 January.

    At a meeting of ambassadors in Brussels, the 27 member states gave their support for the 1,246-page treaty to be “provisionally applied” at the end of the year. The decision will be formally completed by written procedure at 3pm central European time (1400 GMT) on Tuesday.

    A spokesman for the German presidency of the EU, organising the bloc’s affairs, said the treaty had been given the green light.

    The only obstacles standing in the way of the deal coming into force are votes by MPs and peers in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The UK parliament has been recalled to sit on Wednesday 30 December to debate and vote on the legislation.

    The European parliament is delaying its vote, to February or March, when it is hoped MEPs will return to Strasbourg to complete the formal EU ratification process.

    MEPs had said they did not have sufficient time before the end of the year to scrutinise the deal.

    Following a phone call with Boris Johnson on Monday, the European council president, Charles Michel, said he hoped the trade and security deal would be a platform for further cooperation….

  209. says

    Biden is speaking after a national security briefing. He says they’re not getting full information from the Trump team – “it’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.”

  210. says

    Another sign that Trump does realize he will be leaving the White House soon: he and Melania are looking for a house to buy in Palm beach, Florida.

    Hooray, there is more evidence that […] GoldToilets McTemperTantrum on some level knows that come January 20, he will never be president again, and will need a house in which to rest his weary ass. He wanted to just go to Mar-a-Lago and stink that place up until he’s removed from it by death, prison or Putin, but womp womp, there’s a whole thing going where actually he may not legally be able to use the facility as a residence full-time, since he agreed it would be a private club when he bought it. Neighbors are raising a stink, because literally nobody in their right mind wants to be Donald Trump’s neighbor.

    Page Six reports that Donald and Melon are looking for houses in Palm Beach. If you’re anything like us, your first question is obviously “Can they get approved for a mortgage, though?” but Page Six does not address that.

    A source told us, “Melania and Trump are talking to brokers about buying a house in Palm Beach, or nearby, as the living space at Mar-a-Lago isn’t big enough, and there could be some potential conflicts.”

    Page Six says the private quarters at Mar-a-Lago is only 2,000 square feet. Other places we have seen say it’s more like 3,000. For comparison, the Obamas’ house in the Kalorama neighborhood of DC is 8,200 square feet, so Trump’s ego will probably require his home to be at least 8,201.

    This comes after we learned that Jared ‘n’ Ivanka bought a $30 million lot on nearby Indian Creek Island, amid rumors that now that Trump has decamped to Florida for “holidays,” there’s a possibility he might just fuck off and stay there and play golf and whine on Twitter forever, instead of coming back to DC to be reminded every second of every day that he’s the biggest loser who ever walked planet Earth.

    Because we are service-y, Wonkette looked at Realtor dot com to see if there are any houses tacky enough for the Trumps to live in, and decided no house anywhere could possibly be that tacky. We also noticed that some of these properties are pretty darn expensive.

    But if Trump finds a Russian oligarch who’s still willing to foot the bill, maybe he can combine that money with some of the money he’s been grifting off his idiot followers in his clownass legal fight to steal the election, and buy 259 Pendleton Avenue, a new construction house with 8,306 square feet — BIGGER THAN OBAMA’S — with an asking price of $17.9 million. It has eight bedrooms, lots of bathrooms, and an “exercise room” Trump could use for crying on the floor in his bathrobe probably.

    Or there’s 1030 South Ocean Boulevard, a $42.5 million property with 14,017 square feet and private beach access and LOL back up, we don’t think Putin got enough from Trump’s presidency to make $42.5 million happen. Let’s be reasonable here. Perhaps Donald and Melania might like a three bedroom, two bath split level somewhere that’s not waterfront?

    Point is, we wish the Trumps all the success in the world finding a house that’s gross enough for them to buy, and we hope they find a bank willing to give these down-on-their-luck homebuyers a chance. But we’re not like hoping hoping for it, and we certainly aren’t praying. All we really care about is that they get the fuck out and never come back.

    Happy house-hunting, assholes!

    Wonkette link

  211. says

    Nashville Bombing Becoming Superspreader Event For Conspiracy Theories

    Federal agents are currently investigating whether or not Anthony Quinn Warner, the suspect in the Nashville bombing, was motivated by 5G conspiracy theories. One source told ABC News Warner was concerned about 5G and “a range of things, including the existence of life in outer space,” which may explain why he targeted the AT&T building in particular.

    A source also told the Daily Mail that “The unofficial motive thus far is the suspect believed 5G was the root of all deaths in the region and he’d be hailed a hero.” Then again, it’s the Daily Mail, so make of that what you will.

    It would not be a particularly surprising motive. Over the summer, a number of 5G towers were destroyed by people who believed bizarre things about the technology, and often believed COVID was spread for the purpose of keeping people at home while more of these towers were built. They don’t all believe the same things about 5G — it’s more of a “choose your own adventure” kind of conspiracy theory — but they are all pretty upset about it. And when people believe those kinds of things sincerely, they sometimes do drastic things to try to stop them from happening.

    Whether or not Warner was a conspiracy kook himself, he is now at the center of a number of conspiracy theories being promoted across the internet. Because of course he is.

    Almost immediately, before Warner was even identified as the main suspect, Alex Jones was claiming the whole incident was a false flag designed to make people think Trump supporters are bad people. It’s cute he thinks we would need a bombing in order to form that conclusion.

    QAnon types are thinking however, that this may have been a “white hat” operation to prevent a deep state false flag. And that it was related to Melania Trump wearing a tuxedo?

    If I am interpreting this correctly, the Black Hats were going to do a bigger blast than what actually happened….and they had a far more deadly damaging target. (So much going on in these few square blocks, AT&T, NSA, Sungard, 911 emergency….). White hats got wind of the intended attack and went to stop it. There was a struggle, and the bad actors were taken out. (Recall the reports of gunfire???) In the end the White Hats had to detonate it, but in a location that would not hit the vital target that the Black Hats were trying to take out. That is why there was a long warning to local residents, and police were on site helping people to evacuate so no one got hurt when it got detonated.

    Explanation:
    White hats located the bomb before it was placed in its target detonation. Firefight ensued, bad actors killed. Bomb unsafe to handle in normal means. Controlled detonation w/countdown and warning to minimize harm to populace.

    […] Also interesting, is they talk about the strange attire Melania wore at the White House Christmas Ball…..she wore a Tuxedo. So both Trump & Melania were wearing Tuxedos. […]

    Turns out they were sending a message regarding a software called “Tuxedo”. “Tuxedo” is a transaction software that is owned by AT&T. So there is that tie in. Trump was sending a message to someone…..maybe a warning???
    That is quite the story!

    Another not-particularly coherent theory is that it had something to do with Dominion voting machines and the plan to steal the election from poor Donald Trump, because of course it did.

    AT&T got a contract to do forensic audit on Dominion voting machines and those machines were being moved to Nashville this past week.

    […] Super Computer in TN was connected to the AT&T internet in NASHVILLE…. yesterday evening the Cumberland river cooling system was compromised due to internet outage and Supercomputer fried…..

    If you don’t know, “Kraken” is a reference to a supercomputer former prosecuter [sic], Sidney Powell, has been talking about.

    So, the explosion “just happened” to be at the AT&T location where they “just so happen” to control the cooling system for the super computer and house the dominion voting machines and drives for forensic audit…
    Does it make sense now why no lives were lost? Does it make sense now why the FBI task lead couldn’t even put together a coherent sentence in the press conference yesterday? Does it make sense why the mayor was making light of the situation, almost laughing yesterday?

    It all makes sense now, yes. Totally.

    Conspiracy mongers like attorney Lin Wood are also suggesting a fire at a Rochester, New York, printing press was “somehow” connected to the Nashville bombing. The theory so far is that City Blue Imaging (which prints blueprints, posters, banners, etc. and not ballots) was set on fire on purpose because it printed ballots for the 2020 election that somehow made Trump lose the election. […]

    Some have even gone so far as to claim the Nashville bombing was a coverup for this fire, that it was a setup designed to distract us from the Rochester place burning the evidence the election was stolen from Trump.

    Except, again, they don’t print ballots. However, another company called Phoenix Graphics, also based in Rochester, does. Phoenix Graphics made the news this year when there was a mistake with about one percent of the absentee ballots it printed. Was the mistake that they were already pre-filled out for Joe Biden? No. It was that the ballots were labeled as “Military Absentee” instead of “Military/Absentee” ballots. They were missing a slash. And if you can’t figure out how a small amount of ballots in New York missing a slash between “military” and “absentee” would be part of a plot to steal the election from Donald Trump, well, you’re probably a relatively sane person. […]

  212. blf says

    Well, that’s rather disconcerting… A few minutes ago, feeling rather cold, I went to turn up the heat, only to find it was already turned up. Strategically shutting a few doors to keep the warm air in the more useful spots will help, as will the very rare step of turning on the heat higher-up (the lair is multi-storied, and usually adequate hot air from the lower stories “flows up” to the higher stories). Perhaps even more astonishingly, the various weather apps all agree for once the outside “feels like” temperature is basically freezing (which is low but not unknown for this locale). The apps also forecast it will be rather cold during tomorrow morning’s outdoors market, albeit they are back to their usual with notably different opinions as to the actual temperature, rainfall, wind, clouds, and ranting penguin predictions.

  213. says

    A Saudi verdict shows that U.S. pressure for human rights works.

    Washington Post link

    SAUDI ARABIA on Monday announced a prison term for a women’s rights activist that was a gross violation of human rights — but also a demonstration that outside pressure can move the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    A state security court in Riyadh sentenced Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, to five years and eight months in prison for such “crimes” as discussing her advocacy for women with Western diplomats and applying for a job at the United Nations.

    According to her family, even those charges were not substantiated: The only evidence presented at her closed trial were tweets advocating women’s right to drive and criticizing the male guardianship system that restricts women’s movements.

    Yet Ms. Hathloul, who has been imprisoned since May 2018 and was subjected to brutal torture, may soon be released. The judge suspended part of her sentence and gave her credit for time served; her family said she could be free in about two months, though she will be on probation for three years and banned from travelling abroad for five — provisions meant to deter further activism. Her prospective release — and the regime’s rush to complete her trial in the past month after allowing it to languish for years — almost certainly reflects the pressure on Mohammed bin Salman from a panoply of international actors, including President-elect Joe Biden and senior Republican as well as Democratic senators.

    For four years, President Trump refused to pressure Mohammed bin Salman on human rights cases, even as dozens of peaceful activists and journalists, including several U.S. citizens, were jailed. After exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Post contributing columnist and U.S. resident, was murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Mr. Trump bragged that rather than hold the crown prince accountable, he had “saved his ass.”

    Ms. Hathloul’s treatment offers a sign of how a different U.S. policy can produce results. Mr. Biden has said forthrightly that he will reassess the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia and “defend the rights of activists, political dissidents and journalists.” In recent weeks, several senators, including Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James E. Risch (R-Idaho), tweeted in support of Ms. Hathloul. The crown prince got the message: Two Saudi officials told the Wall Street Journal that the reduced sentence came at the direction of Mohammed bin Salman.

    That doesn’t mean the case, and those of a number of other women still in prison or on trial, should be forgotten. Ms. Hathloul was abducted from the United Arab Emirates; she was held for 35 days in a secret prison, where she was beaten, given electric shocks and sexually harassed. The abuse was overseen by one of Mohammed bin Salman’s closest aides, Saud al-Qahtani, who later supervised the Khashoggi murder. The crown prince has rejected U.S. demands that his aide be brought to justice, and Saudi authorities this month hastily reviewed and dismissed Ms. Hathloul’s charges of torture. The Biden administration should apply sanctions to all those found to be involved in this and other human rights cases — and the crown prince should not be immune.

  214. says

    From Talking Point Memo:

    President-elect Joe Biden will use a Korean War-era law to supply vaccines and other COVID-19 essentials, an adviser said Monday. The Trump administration has been somewhat reluctant to use the Defense Production Act, a law that allows the federal government to order private industries to initiate or prioritize certain orders.

  215. says

    Other bits and pieces of news:

    A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has dismissed California Rep. Devin Nunes’ first lawsuit against The Washington Post, saying Nunes’ complaints about a Post article did not constitute defamation.

    From the Fresno Bee.

    Private executioners paid in cash. Middle-of-the-night killings. False or incomplete justifications. ProPublica obtained court records showing how the outgoing administration is using its final days to execute the most federal prisoners since World War II. […]

    Officials gave public explanations for their choice of which prisoners should die that misstated key facts from the cases. They moved ahead with executions in the middle of the night. They left one prisoner strapped to the gurney while lawyers worked to remove a court order. They executed a second prisoner while an appeal was still pending, leaving the court to then dismiss the appeal as “moot” because the man was already dead. They bought drugs from a secret pharmacy that failed a quality test. They hired private executioners and paid them in cash.

    From ProPublica.

    […] One of the staffers involved was Matthew Whitaker, according to Weinsheimer. Whitaker, who briefly led the Justice Department between Sessions and Barr, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    BOP [Bureau of Prisons] made plans to use pentobarbital. But it had also become scarce as manufacturers shunned its use in executions. States resorted to using “compounding pharmacies,” which mix ingredients for custom-made drugs.

    BOP planned to import powdered pentobarbital from a “foreign FDA-registered facility” but later turned to a domestic bulk manufacturer. It also hired a compounding pharmacy to create an injectable solution. The government has guarded vendor identities, since public scrutiny could pressure them to back out.

    A sample of the compounding pharmacy’s solution failed a quality test by an outside lab. But according to Weinsheimer, BOP said the problem was the lab, not the compound itself, and sent a new batch to a different lab.

    BOP also explored using a different drug: the opioid fentanyl. In a March 2018 memo, then-BOP Director Mark S. Inch said BOP found a fentanyl supplier but warned “there may be negative publicity associated with using a drug to which so many Americans are addicted.”

    For unclear reasons, BOP planned to have the executions carried out by two private contractors, rather than government employees. The government won’t disclose the contractors’ names or profession, and it pays them in cash. “If we didn’t pay them in cash,” a BOP lawyer said in a deposition, “they probably wouldn’t participate.” […]

  216. says

    Doctor leaving Walter Reed after criticizing Trump: ‘I regret nothing’

    James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, says he has no regrets after being written off the facility’s schedule following his remarks criticizing President Trump.

    “I will miss the patients and my military and civilian coworkers – they have been overwhelmingly supportive,” Phillips wrote in a Sunday tweet. “I’m honored to have worked there and I look forward to new opportunities. I stand by my words, and I regret nothing.”

    […] In early October, when Trump was hospitalized due to contracting COVID-19, Phillips, who is also the chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University, wrote a highly critical tweet of the president after he rode in a motorcade and waved to supporters while he was still sick with the virus.

    “That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play,” wrote Phillips in the since-deleted tweet.

    In an interview with the “Today” show following his message on Twitter, Phillips said Trump’s motorcade excursion was “a dangerous move.”

    “Beyond the risk that was imparted on those Secret Service agents, volunteering or not, it’s the message that is sent to other people who are sick that it’s OK to go out,” he said.

    Phillips has been a regular presence in the media since the pandemic began, offering his advice as an emergency physician. Recently, he received the coronavirus vaccine live on CNN in order to encourage others to do the same. […]

  217. blf says

    Short follow-up to SC@269, US security agencies ‘damaged’ and ‘hollowed out’ under Trump, says Biden:

    US President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday many of America’s security agencies had been “hollowed out” under President [sic] Donald Trump and the lack of information being provided to his transition team by the outgoing administration was an “irresponsibility.”

    “We’ve encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said. after a meeting with his foreign policy team.

    “Right now we just aren’t getting all of the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” he said.

    […]

  218. blf says

    I think I missed this one at the time, found via the Grauniad;s trivia quiz The food quiz of the year: from sexualised mac’n’cheese to celebrity doughnuts, from October (2020), No ‘noodz’ is good news: customers accuse Kraft of sexualizing mac ‘n’ cheese:

    […]
    When the Kraft company responsible for America’s favorite mac and cheese set up a promotion asking people to “send noodz”, they thought customers might see the funny side of their pun. Instead, their Instagram was quickly flooded by parents lamenting the company for sexualizing mac and cheese.

    The promotion encouraged adults to send their loved ones boxes of Kraft’s Mac & Cheese noodles. In a broadcast since removed from the internet, Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer says to camera: “In these strange times, people are in need of extra comfort. That’s why it’s always a nice gesture to send noodz … To be clear, I’m not advocating you send nudes to anyone. Send noodz, not nudes.”

    But outraged customers have complained that Kraft is a “family company” and have even suggested that the advert is a gateway to children actually sending nudes. One customer told Buzzfeed’s Tanya Chen that the post grooms children into believing it’s OK and even FUNNY to ‘send noods’.

    […]

    Things escalated quickly. Soon, some posters were using the campaign to spread the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that a gang of Satan-worshipping Democrats and high-profile celebrities routinely traffic and abuse children. We’re all trying to save our kids from you grooming monsters! Take down your noods campaign!!!!!! one angry customer wrote.

    (While the conspiracy theory is clearly ridiculous, it also has had an outsized impact on political discourse, and has caused real-world harm.)

    The response that ensued was enough to cause Kraft to halt the campaign, remove content related to the promotion and apologize publicly. […]

    The mildly deranged penguin, who is someone of an expert on cheese, says she’s never really associated eating cheese, or MUSHROOMS!, snails, vin, etc., with laying eggs. And the macaroni isn’t even vaguely egg-shaped, but is a nuisance to pick free so as to get at the cheese.

  219. blf says

    Outrage over planned New Year’s Eve gatherings as Los Angeles faces crush of Covid cases:

    […]
    In upscale Beverly Hills, a fine-dining Italian restaurant called La Scala [“teh plague pit” (not the usual translation) –blf] was caught advertising an indoor dinner for the 31st, leaving invitations in take-out bags that said, Welcome back to the 20’s Prohibition. The note emphasized that it would host people indoors, adding, Please keep this discreet, but tell all your friends.

    [… T]he city of Beverly Hills said in a statement that it had reached out to the restaurant to remind representatives that current local orders prohibit indoor and outdoor dining. In an Instagram post on Monday, the restaurant said its message was meant to add some levity and that it was taking reservations for outdoor dining.

    But with the current surge […] all in-person dining is banned [Oops! “teh plague pit” seems to be in a competition with hair furor for most outrageous lies –blf]

    […]

    In Burbank, just outside of the city, residents have complained to local officials about Tinhorn Flats [aka “gold-obsessed rentiers” –blf], a restaurant that has repeatedly posted anti-mask messages and reopened in protest of health restrictions.

    […]

    There’s a few hundred plague rats with money who ran away from those mean and nasty Swiss (see @247 & @266) who might be interested in yet furthering assisting the spread of Covid-19…

  220. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    House votes to override NDAA.

    The House of Representatives on Monday voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the sweeping defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to the President.
    The bill initially passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, but amid Trump’s continued opposition, it had been unclear if the override attempt would be successful or if the veto would be sustained. The vote forced Republican lawmakers to choose between loyalty to the President and legislation that sets defense policy for the country.
    Democrats had expressed confidence, however, that they would have the votes they needed to override the veto. The bill will next head to the Senate for the chamber’s veto override attempt.
    The $740 billion bill includes pay raises for America’s soldiers, modernization for equipment and provisions to require more scrutiny before troops are withdrawn from Germany or Afghanistan, but that hasn’t stopped Trump’s threats against it.

    Trump had threatened to veto the bill because it doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230, a law that shields internet companies from being liable for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties. The bill also includes provisions to limit how much money Trump can move around for his border wall and another that would require the military to rename bases that were named after figures from the Confederacy.

    The President ultimately moved to veto the legislation earlier this month, setting up a clash with Congress and putting Republican lawmakers in a difficult spot, while paving the way for the override attempt on Capitol Hill.

  221. says

    Politico – “Bernie Sanders to delay defense veto override in bid for $2,000 checks”:

    Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans.

    “McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in an interview on Monday night. The Vermont independent can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until New Year’s Day and make things more difficult for the GOP.

    The House passed the payment boost sought by Trump and Democratic leaders on Monday evening, and Trump said the Senate has agreed to “start the process” on a stimulus checks vote when he signed the $900 billion relief bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to address the timing of such a vote.

    Under Senate rules, Sanders has the ability to keep the chamber in during the holiday week and likely mess with the campaign schedules of Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.). Those two face Jan. 5 runoff races for control of the Senate against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are both campaigning on the $2,000 checks.

    It’s not clear whether there are 60 votes in the Senate for the $2,000 checks, which would require at least 12 Republicans to join with the chamber’s 48 Democratic Caucus members. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to try and force a vote on the House-passed bill Tuesday, though any one member of the Senate can object and many conservatives oppose that level of spending.

    Still, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) endorsed the $2,000 checks on Monday night and some House Republicans supported it on the floor, demonstrating a split in the party over whether to give Trump the checks he’s demanding as he prepares to leave office in January.

  222. says

    “Russia gives Kremlin critic Navalny an ultimatum: Return immediately or face jail”:

    Russia’s prison service on Monday gave Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny a last minute ultimatum: Fly back from Germany at once and report at a Moscow office early on Tuesday morning, or be jailed if you return after that deadline.

    Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s leading critics, was airlifted to Germany for treatment in August after collapsing on a plane in what Germany and other Western nations say was an attempt to murder him with a Novichok nerve agent.

    Russia has said it has seen no evidence he was poisoned and has denied any involvement in the incident.

    The Federal Prison Service (FSIN) on Monday accused Navalny of violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence he is still serving out over a conviction dating from 2014, and of evading the supervision of Russia’s criminal inspection authority.

    Citing an article in the British medical publication The Lancet about his treatment, it said Navalny had been discharged from hospital in Berlin on Sept. 20 and that all symptoms of what it called his illness had vanished by Oct. 12.

    “Therefore the convicted man is not fulfilling all of the obligations placed on him by the court, and is evading the supervision of the Criminal Inspectorate,” it said.

    Navalny is serving out a suspended three-and-a-half-year prison term over a theft case he says was politically-motivated. His probation period expires on Dec. 30.

    The prison service said in a statement late on Monday that it had summoned Navalny to report to the inspection authority and that his suspended sentence could be changed to a real jail term if his suspected violations of the terms of the suspended sentence were proven to be true.

    The prison service mentioned no deadline, but Navalny posted a screenshot of a message to his lawyer which said he had until 0900 on Tuesday to return and show up at a Moscow office.

    His spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on Twitter, it was impossible for Navalny to return in time, that he was still convalescing after his poisoning, and accused the prison service of acting on orders from the Kremlin.

    The Kremlin has said Navalny is free to return to Russia at any time like any other Russian citizen.

    Russian authoritarian regimes have a special flair for the absurd – the Lancet article can be cited as evidence of his recovery from his poisoning, but not as evidence of his recovery from his poisoning.

  223. says

    Ashish Jha:

    So a lot of chatter happening on the slow vaccine roll out [in the US]

    Personally, I’m incredibly frustrated.

    Did we not know that vaccines were coming? Is vaccine administration a surprise?

    Several complex issues so lets break things down a bit

    Warning, this is a bit of a rant

    Thread…

  224. says

    DC’s Hotel Harrington, a popular spot for Proud Boys, says it’ll be closed on Jan 6 — the same day as a last-ditch MAGA rally to stop Congress from counting electoral votes. Angry Trump supporters who lost room reservations are fuming on The Donald….

    Harry’s, the Harrington hotel bar that’s become a hub for Proud Boys and other MAGA types and been fined by violating Covid restrictions, has also said they’ll be closed Jan. 6.”

  225. says

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

    From there:

    The European Union has criticised the jailing of a citizen-journalist in China who reported on the early outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic from Wuhan.

    Zhang Zhan, who reported at the peak of the crisis in the city where the coronavirus first emerged, was sentenced to four years imprisonment on Monday. Her lawyer said Zhang was jailed on the grounds of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

    The EU called for Zhang’s immediate release, as well as for freedom for jailed human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, and several other detained and convicted human rights defenders and individuals who engaged in reporting in the public interest.

    “According to credible sources, Ms Zhang has been subject to torture and ill-treatment during her detention and her health condition has seriously deteriorated,” an external affairs spokesman for the 27-nation EU said in a statement.

    Citizen-journalist Zhang was among a handful of people whose firsthand accounts from crowded hospitals and empty streets painted a more dire picture of the pandemic epicentre than the official narrative.

    Critics say that China deliberately arranged for Zhang’s trial to take place during the holiday season in the West, to minimize scrutiny.

    “The restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and intimidation and surveillance of journalists, as well as detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals in China, are growing and continue to be a source of great concern,” the EU spokesman said.

    England could see tougher ‘tier 5’ Covid restrictions

    England might see the introduction of further coronavirus restrictions akin to a “tier 5”, a government source has suggested, as experts warn tier 4 might not be enough to shrink the epidemic.

    Tier 4 restrictions came into force in London and parts of the south-east and the east of England on 20 December and have since been extended to a large swathe of the country, from Cambridgeshire to Sussex and parts of Hampshire.

    Under these restrictions, people have been told to stay at home, with household mixing banned outside support bubbles, although one person can meet up with one other person outdoors.

    With the incubation period for the virus lasting up to 14 days, experts say the impact of such measures in some areas might be expected to be seen in the coming days – although the picture may be muddied by delays in testing and reporting of results due to the Christmas break….

  226. says

    Jacqui Heinrich, Fox:

    NEW: source familiar tells me Biden transition couldn’t get a meeting with Dept of Defense since 12/18. It follows Biden’s warning the transition is encountering obstruction from political leadership at DOD & OMB, denying incoming admin info in key national security areas

    On background to a source familiar: “Despite many outstanding requests, the Department of Defense had, as of early this week, not granted a meeting with the transition team since December 18…

    …There are three meetings on the books for this week; one was added today, and two others were approved on the evening of December 23. The Department continues to delay and deny critical meetings and dozens of requests for information.”

    Source familiar says Biden team needs to hear more about COVID/Operation Warp Speed, the budget, and cybersecurity, among other issues.

    A few more details – on 12/18 Axios published a story claiming Acting Defense Sec Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation with the Biden transition. Senior spokesmen for Miller pushed back, telling Fox that Miller asked for…

    …a “one day pause in DoD transition meetings due to added pressure related to Pentagon budget and CR. DoD spox said Biden transition points of contact agreed to a two week pause in meetings over the holidays.”

    Biden transition source says the team never agreed to a two-week pause

    Given the transition’s inability to get a meeting since 12/18, it appears that DoD went forward with this two-week break despite the Biden team not agreeing to it, with today’s meeting happening 11 days later

  227. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nashville bombing froze wireless communications, exposed ‘Achilles’ heel’ in regional network

    The vulnerability of the telecommunications system in Nashville and beyond became clear Christmas Day when AT&T’s central office in downtown became the site of a bombing.
    Mayor John Cooper called the blast on Second Avenue an attack on infrastructure. The effects of that attack are sure to ripple through the region for weeks, as the telecom giant scrambles to restore services while maintaining the integrity of an active investigation site teeming with federal agents.
    State and local officials and experts say the fact that a multistate region could be brought to its knees by a single bombing is a “wake-up call,” exposing vulnerabilities many didn’t know existed and predicting it would lead to intense conversations about the future. 
    The bombing and the damage to the AT&T office was a “single-point of failure,” said Douglas Schmidt, the Cornelius Vanderbilt professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University. 
    “That’s the Achilles’ heel. The weak link,” he said. “When one thing goes wrong and everything comes crashing down.” 

    Full article at the link with more information.
    I’ve seen the problem of updating service into a central point. For a while, Google via Comcast pretended I lived one city south of where I do. Slowly, the number of towns south of my real address increased until Google thought I lived across the county line in Cook County. Google finally got the drift problem solved a couple of years ago, but I suspect when I reboot my cable modem, it connects at a facility further south than Northbrook. How close to Chicago, I have no idea.

  228. says

    “Massachusetts Republican Leader, 60, Says He Believes He Caught COVID at White House Hanukkah Event”:

    A member of the Massachusetts Republican Party believes he may have caught COVID-19 while attending a White House Hanukkah event on Dec. 9 amid the ongoing pandemic.

    Tom Mountain, vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee, had the coronavirus earlier this month and was hospitalized three days after going to the Washington, D.C., gathering. He told WJAR that his health battle was so severe he was nearly “ready to be put on a lifesaving ventilator.”

    The 60-year-old admitted to the outlet that he was “one of the naysayers” when it came to masks and other public health precautions, though, now, he no longer is….

    “My family tried to dissuade me. I didn’t listen,” he said about choosing to go to the event despite health officials urging against large indoor gatherings as cases spiked at the time.

    Mountain recalled that the party had over 100 guests from around the country, telling WJAR that “people would just leisurely and gingerly take off their mask to mingle, to schmooze. I don’t even think some people wore masks the entire time.”

    “And again, I was guilty as anyone else. I just wasn’t wearing a mask,” he said.

    The reception was one of multiple indoor holiday parties slated to be held at the White House this month despite the pandemic. In a previous statement to PEOPLE, First Lady Melania Trump’s spokesperson said safety precautions — including required masks, hand sanitizer and “encouraged” social distancing — would be put in place.

    “The People’s House will celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah while providing the safest environment possible,” the statement read. “This includes smaller guest lists, masks will be required and available, social distancing encouraged while on the White House grounds, and hand sanitizer stations throughout the State Floor.” [List and truth FAIL.]

    Mountain acknowledged that there’s no way to know exactly where he contracted COVID-19, though he said prior to the Hanukkah event he felt healthy. According to the CDC, symptoms of the coronavirus can begin two to 14 days after exposure.

    Four of Mountain’s family members have since tested positive for the coronavirus, he said.

    “Well, let’s put it this way: When I went down to Washington, D.C., for the White House Hanukkah event, I was perfectly fine,” he told WJAR. “And three days later after that event, I was in the hospital at Brigham and Women’s ready to be put on a lifesaving ventilator.”

    “Wear a mask. Stay as far away from people as possible,” Mountain added of advice to others during the public health crisis.

  229. says

    Follow-up to SC’c comment 294.

    McConnell blocks $2,000 aid checks, but the fight’s far from over

    […] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday shot down a Democratic bid to answer President Donald Trump’s call for increased direct coronavirus payments to Americans, but the measure’s ultimate fate in the GOP-controlled chamber is unclear. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., moved to pass the bill by unanimous consent, which meant it would advance if no other senator objected. But McConnell quickly objected to the measure, which would have increased the size of the checks to $2,000 from $600.

    While this was discouraging for advocates of the expanded payments, everyone involved in the process agrees that it was just the first round of many.

    As the fight moves forward, here are the questions to keep in mind:

    Are there enough Senate Republicans to give the idea a realistic chance of success? Up until very recently, the answer was no. Even if every member of the Senate Democratic conference supported the $2,000 checks, they’d need 12 GOP senators to endorse the plan, and there was little reason to think those votes existed.

    That, however, is starting to change. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) expressed some interest in the proposal yesterday, and Sen. Fischer (R-Neb.) made similar comments this morning. Soon after, Georgia’s Republican incumbents — Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — both endorsed the increased aid, at least opening the door to the possibility of success.

    Will McConnell load the bill with poison pills? The bill passed in the House yesterday with at least some bipartisan support was clean and simple: increase the direct-aid checks from $600 to $2,000. Senate GOP leaders, however, expressed a willingness today to add unrelated provisions related to liability shields for tech companies (the “Section 230” debate) and an investigation into non-existent election “fraud.”

    The idea, obviously, would be to create an untenable situation on purpose: if Dems wanted the increased aid to Americans, they’d have to play along with Trump’s anti-tech-company crusade and with the Republicans’ anti-election crusade. If Dems — in the Senate and/or in the House — were to balk, McConnell would argue, “We were going to approve the $2,000 checks, but Democrats ended up killing the proposal they said they supported.”

    Senate Republicans could prevent McConnell from adding these poison-pill provisions, but there’s nothing to suggest they would.

    What is Trump prepared to do? In theory, if the outgoing president were genuinely interested in larger direct-aid payments, he could twist some Senate Republicans’ arms and make it happen. This wouldn’t even be especially difficult. In recent days, however, Trump has been principally focused on his anti-election conspiracy theories and his golf game.

    [Trump] tweeted this afternoon, “Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH! Also, get rid of Section 230 – Don’t let Big Tech steal our Country, and don’t let the Democrats steal the Presidential Election. Get tough!”

    The second half of this is as important as the first: Trump appears to be endorsing McConnell’s strategy of tying the three unrelated elements — direct aid, Section 230, and lies about the election — together into one bill, and then daring Democrats to say no.

    What are Senate Democrats’ options? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is preparing to delay the process and filibuster a pending military package in order to keep the pressure on the Senate’s GOP majority, but McConnell controls the floor and Senate Dems have limited leverage and limited options. For more on the Vermont senator’s strategy, tune in to the show [Rachel Maddow show] tonight: Sanders is scheduled to talk with Ali Velshi about his efforts.

    What will Loeffler and Perdue do? The Georgia Republican incumbents are eager to leave Capitol Hill and campaign in their home state, especially since their runoff elections are a week from today. They’ve already come around on $2,000 checks — endorsing their opponents’ position — but the longer the Senate debates this, the less they’ll be in Georgia in the days leading up to Election Day.

    What about House Dems? I’m skeptical Senate Dems would accept McConnell’s poison pills, but even if they did, there’s the other chamber to consider. The House passed a clean bill with no extraneous measures, and if Senate Republicans clutter up the direct-aid bill with unrelated nonsense, there’s no reason to assume House Democrats would go along. In fact, it would set the stage for legislative ping-pong, with the Senate adding the extraneous measures, the House taking them out, the Senate putting them back in, and so on as the clock winds down.

    How much time is left? In case this isn’t obvious, the current Congress officially ends this weekend, and whatever bills remain unresolved will wither on the vine. That leaves lawmakers a limited window to complete work on overriding Trump’s veto of funding for the military and trying to pass the direct-aid proposal.

    Watch this space.

    I think that both Trump and McConnell don’t give a damn about providing $2,000 relief checks (survival checks) to people. They are just using that to try to get Trump’s revenge act (revenge against Twitter and other social media companies for flagging his posts as inaccurate) and Trump’s demands for an investigation into the presidential election done via congressional legislation.

    Meanwhile, many states do not have the money they need to do their part in getting people vaccinated.

    Trump’s priorities are all wrong. McConnell’s wording made an attempt to blame Trump for the whole mess, but the way I see it, McConnell is also to blame.

  230. says

    Trump’s fundraising efforts take a [another!] sketchy turn with bogus claim

    While asking for money, Trump told prospective donors he’d vetoed the economic relief bill. Can he do that?

    As a rule, political fundraising letters are written in deliberately vague ways. […]

    For example, when Donald Trump’s political operation wanted to take advantage of interest in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections, it sent out a message that said, “We MUST defend Georgia from the Dems!” The phrasing probably led contributors to believe that if they give Team Trump money, it’d benefit the Republican candidates in next week’s races.

    But we know that’s not the case — the president’s operation has used Georgia for fundraising, without actually directing any money to the state — and if you read the specific wording of the appeal, it relied solely on suggestions. There are no literal lies, only misleading insinuations.

    This made it all the more notable last week when Team Trump sent a fundraising pitch that included a demonstrably false claim. The Wall Street Journal noted what the president’s operation did after he denounced the bipartisan economic relief package that passed Congress.

    The president’s campaign began fundraising off of Mr. Trump’s opposition to the coronavirus relief package. On Wednesday, the campaign sent out a fundraising email in Mr. Trump’s name. “I need you to know that I will ALWAYS FIGHT for you. I will NEVER accept a bad deal, which is why I have sent the Covid Relief Bill BACK to Congress,” the fundraising email said.

    The timeline unfolded quickly: Congress approved the relief package on Monday; Trump denounced it as a “disgrace” on Tuesday; and the president’s political operation told donors that Trump “sent the Covid Relief Bill BACK to Congress” on Wednesday.

    Except, of course, that wasn’t true. The president hadn’t sent the bill back, and four days after the fundraising appeal reached donors, Trump actually signed the measure into law.

    But donors saw the opposite message. “This bill is a DISGRACE,” the president’s written fundraising letter read. “It’s called the Covid Relief Bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid, and it provides minimal relief for the American People…. I’m calling on my most fierce and loyal supporters to take action and STAND WITH ME in DEMANDING Congress rework this bill. Can I count on your support?” The text is accompanied by a series of links in which unsuspecting Republicans could show their “support” for Trump by sending him their money.

    […] Team Trump straight up sent out an appeal for money based on demonstrably false claims.

    […] Adav Noti, a senior director at the Campaign Legal Center, explained, “The laws and rules that protect political donors from misleading fundraising are quite weak. It’s illegal to defraud donors by claiming you’re raising money for political purposes when you’re actually keeping the money – people have gone to prison for that. But it’s generally not illegal for a politician to raise money around a position that differs from the position they take on actual legislation. Every once in a while a donor tries to sue to get their money back based on a politician not keeping fundraising promises, but those suits basically never succeed.”

    Paul S. Ryan, the vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, came to the same conclusion, telling me, “Federal campaign finance law has only minimal ‘truth in advertising’ requirements.”

    But Ryan added that the Justice Department “has in recent years begun prosecuting so-called ‘scam PACs’ for violations of criminal wire- and mail-fraud statutes based on representations made in political fundraising solicitations…. It’s certainly possible that the DOJ could investigate President Trump for fraudulent political fundraising in the new year.”

    The Campaign Legal Center’s Noti was thinking along similar lines, explaining, “The President’s statements about the COVID bill aren’t even the most misleading part of the fundraising. What’s truly hoodwinking donors is that most of the money is going to the President’s new ‘leadership PAC,’ which is essentially a slush fund that can be used for his own and his family’s personal expenses. That fact is buried in the fine print on the donation page, and it’s certainly not what the donors think they are funding.”

    In recent weeks, Trump has faced accusations that his “Save America” political action committee may be approaching “scam PAC” status, raising money that could end up in the outgoing president’s pocket. Last week’s appeal from Team Trump makes matters just a bit worse.

  231. says

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

    * A federal judge yesterday ordered two Georgia counties to return more than 4,000 voters to the state’s voter rolls ahead of next week’s U.S. Senate runoff elections.

    * On a related note, a pro-Trump lawyer named Lin Wood recently filed a lawsuit to stop next week’s elections in Georgia, claiming there’s a problem with the state’s absentee-ballot process. A federal judge yesterday dismissed the case.

    * With a week remaining before the Georgia runoff elections, the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) unveiled a new, minute-long ad today, pushing back against Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s (R) attacks. “She’s trying to make you afraid of me, because she’s afraid of you,” the Georgian said in his direct-to-camera message.

    * Meanwhile, Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) this morning announced their support for $2,000 direct-aid checks — a position Warnock and Jon Ossoff (D) have been pressing the Republican incumbents to take for weeks.

    * Politico spoke to eight Georgia election officials, who agreed that the state should expect a smooth Election Day a week from today. That said, these election administrators are nevertheless “fighting bizarre conspiracy theories, ballooning costs and coronavirus-related staffing problems as they prepare for the state’s contentious, nationally watched Senate runoffs next week.”

    * Rasmussen Reports, a pollster with an unfortunate reputation, published a strange Twitter thread yesterday that, among other things, cited Stalin and suggested Vice President Mike Pence help overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat.

    * For years, many political scientists have noted that incumbent presidents’ vote totals tend to line up with their approval ratings. This held up in 2020: Trump’s approval rating on Election Day was around 46%, and he ended up with roughly 47% of the vote.

  232. says

    Trump fails again at presidenting, while Biden sets a good example of how things should be done:

    President-elect Joe Biden delivered remarks on national security matters yesterday, which he prefaced by reflecting on the Christmas explosion in Nashville. “Federal, state, and local law enforcement are working around the clock to gain more information on motive and intent,” Biden explained. “This bombing was a reminder of the destructive power that individuals and small groups can muster, and the need for continuing vigilance.”

    The president-elect went on to thank the local first responders — including police officers and fire fighters — for their ‘bravery and cool-headedness,” which “likely saved lives and prevented a worse outcome.” Biden concluded, “I know the hearts of all Americans are with the people of Nashville as they rebuild and recover from this traumatic event.”

    To be sure, there was nothing especially extraordinary about these comments. Biden simply did what we’d expect a president to do: acknowledge the bombing, assure the public, thank first responders, and extend support to the community shaken by the incident.

    The trouble, however, is that Biden won’t be president for a few more weeks. The current president, meanwhile, has said nothing about the bombing. As the Washington Post noted, the White House issued a brief statement on Friday, noting that Donald Trump had been briefed on the bombing and thanking first-responders, but that was it. […]

    Trump is once again on one of his golf courses, but he took the time to whine in a series of tweets, none of which related to the bombing in Nashville.

    The city’s mayor, John Cooper (D), conceded yesterday that he hasn’t heard from the president since the Christmas bombing, either.

    Part of this is likely the result of Trump’s wholesale indifference toward his day job. But it’s also easy to imagine the relevant circumstances influenced the president’s silence about what transpired in Nashville: given what we know about the alleged perpetrator, Trump probably doesn’t see any way to use the incident to advance any of his grievances or ideological goals, which in turn makes the bombing largely irrelevant.

    And so, the role of national leader falls to Trump’s successor, who actually wants the job.

  233. says

    WTF?

    In odd video, Trump falsely suggests he received a Nobel prize

    As Trump’s term ends, he’s still trying to pretend that he either won or deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. It’s a pitiful coda to his presidency.

    The fact that Donald Trump is still releasing campaign-style ads is itself bizarre. Election Day was eight weeks ago; the Republican incumbent lost badly; and if these commercials are intended to create a groundswell of support for the outgoing president, he’s likely to be disappointed.

    But while the effort is odd, the details of the latest campaign-style ad are considerably more ridiculous. In the new, minute-long video that Trump posted online late yesterday, the first on-screen text reads, “Trump stands for America,” which is a strange message for a president who’s spent months attacking his own country’s democracy. It’s followed by, “Trump stands for American jobs,” which is also weird given his poor record on job creation.

    The video goes on from there, making other curious boasts. “Trump stands for American justice” is belied by his corrupt pardon abuses, while “Trump stands for military might” is an interesting choice given his recent veto of funding for his own country’s military. It culminates in a five-word message: “Trump: He’s what’s for America,” which is a rhetorical construction so clumsy, I wonder if the president’s communications team was drunk when they wrote this.

    But what made the post-election ad truly extraordinary was the false suggestion that Trump won a Nobel Peace Prize. As Matt Stieb explained:

    In the portion devoted to peace — just after the “Trump stands for military might” segment — the video shows the Nobel Peace Prize Photoshopped in front of a clip of the White House ceremony for the Abraham Accords, in which Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

    It was strange as it sounds. At the 44-second mark, viewers are shown an image of Trump on a White House balcony, alongside Middle Eastern officials and a giant, superimposed image of a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Of course, if Trump had actually received a Nobel Peace Prize, this might make sense. But given reality, it’s absurd.

    […] Trump has been nominated for the honor, which he found impressive for reasons that didn’t make any sense. For one thing, anyone can be nominated. For another, the White House reportedly had to ask others to make the nomination in order to help Trump feel good about himself.

    And when the meaningless nomination failed to produce the reward the president wanted, Trump lashed out, presenting himself as a victim of a rigged Nobel process.

    But now that the election’s over and Trump is eyeing the end of his failed term, he’s still trying to pretend that he either won or deserved the honor. […]

  234. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @300: Once again, The Orange Toddler-Tyrant can’t objectively compare himself to Obama, so he has to PRETEND that he is as good. What a sad little child he is that he cannot out-do a black man.

  235. says

    COVID-19 can leave damage to the heart, lungs, eyes, and even the mind that may be permanent

    For weeks, a popular meme on the right has run under the heading: “How can a disease with 1% mortality shut down the United States?” That idea not only incorporates several pieces of misinformation—the United States was never “shut down” and the mortality of COVID-19 is higher than 1%—but it misses a couple of things that should be obvious to the most casual observer. First, if “just” 1% of Americans died, that would be over 3 million people. That’s more people than die in an average year from all causes, combined. Just having that level of death would not only leave the nation in shock, it would crumple the economy. Second, death is just one thing that COVID-19 causes.

    Over the last year, people have often been frustrated because it seems that anything can be a symptom of infection by coronavirus. Headaches, cough, fever, loss of sense of smell, dizziness, low oxygen, muscle ache, fatigue, and even blindness have all been ways in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus announces its presence. That list is far from complete. COVID-19 isn’t a respiratory disease, it’s a disease that can strike anywhere. That means that the symptoms can be almost anything. So can the lingering effects. It can leave college athletes with lingering heart damage, generate strokes even in very young children, and trigger a severe infection of the eyes. But this horrible list may not even touch the worst that COVID-19 can do. Because some patients are literally losing their minds to the disease. COVID-19 is leaving behind a path of psychosis.

    Ten months into the epidemic within the United States, the case fatality rate—the number of people who have died from COVID-19 divided by the total number of identified cases—stands at 1.8%. That is, thankfully, down from the 3.5% seen in the first days, when unprepared hospitals in the Northeast were overrun by a sudden wave unexpected cases. However, that’s over a dozen times higher than even the worst flu in decades and the rapidly filling hospitals mean that it’s not getting much better anytime soon.

    The rate of deaths among patients who end up in the ICU hasn’t actually changed much since the early days of the pandemic. About 1 in 20 of those who go into intensive care with COVID-19 will die. For those who survive, heart damage at some level is practically guaranteed. About half of those patients will also have long-term lung damage. These are issues that will affect people through their lives. The time to recover from COVID-19 won’t be measured in months. It will take generations.

    Since August, it’s been clear that COVID-19 also leaves lingering neurological damage. That includes possible psychological changes in as many as a third of all those who catch the disease—even those who have light or asymptomatic cases. […]

    But as The New York Times reports, even this long list of misery may be the least of what COVID-19 can do. Because a smaller number of COVID-19 survivors are losing their minds to the disease. Patients who have never experienced any mental health problems are developing “severe psychotic symptoms weeks after contracting the coronavirus.”

    The damage isn’t just resulting in paranoid delusions, but in actual violence. For example, a 30-year-old construction worker became so convinced his cousin was out to murder him that he tried to strangle that cousin in their sleep. A 34-year-old woman began loading her food with hand sanitizer and taking off her clothing in front of strangers. A 36-year-old woman became so convinced someone was trying to kidnap her three children that she tried to get them to “safety” by shoving them through the drive-thru window at a fast-food restaurant.

    […] These cases of severe psychosis appear to be relatively rare, but the fact that they can appear weeks after COVID-19 in people who otherwise seemed to have passed through the disease without harm is terrifying. These people may not have died from the disease, but they have lost a vital part of their lives. And with so many people affected by COVID-19, it may be impossible to determine just how big an impact the disease will have on the nation in the future, or how it’s affecting people’s actions today.

    When people talk about this affecting only a “small percentage” of patients, it may not seem that impactful. But that’s making the same mistake as the people talking about “only 1%” when discussing COVID-19 deaths. COVID-19 has now infected at least 19 million Americans. A small percentage of that number could still generate a devastating increase in severe mental illness—and a much greater need for improving mental health policies.

  236. says

    johnson @301, correct. So pathetic.

    In other news: Kelly Loeffler’s Conflict of Interest Is Even Worse Than Reported

    The senator had power over regulators whose work directly affected her own financial interests.

    As she campaigns for reelection in the January 5 run-off, Kelly Loeffler, the super-wealthy former corporate executive and Republican donor who was appointed in late 2019 to a vacant US Senate seat in Georgia, has had to deal with bruising revelations about her personal finances and business dealings. These include the fact that when she entered the Senate in January 2020, she was given a spot on the Agriculture Committee, which oversees government regulators of the Fortune 500 business where she was recently a top officer. The company, Intercontinental Exchange (known as ICE), owns and operates a number of financial and commodity exchanges regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which falls under jurisdiction of the Agriculture Committee.

    Loeffler’s assignment to the committee seemed a whopping conflict of interest: She still owned between $5 million and $25 million in ICE stock, and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is its CEO. Worse, Loeffler was placed on the committee’s subcommittee on commodities, which has direct oversight of the CFTC. In response to criticism, she left the subcommittee in May but remained a member of the full committee.

    Yet one piece of this tale has received little notice. Her conflict of interest was even more pronounced, for while Loeffler was on the commodities subcommittee, the CFTC took several actions that impacted ICE. This means Loeffler was overseeing regulators at the same time they were engaged in activity affecting a company she was intimately tied to as a current shareholder, former executive, and spouse of its CEO. That’s very swampy.

    […] One particular conflict was rather obvious. In 2018, Loeffler left the ICE corporate team to become head of Bakkt, a new federally regulated market for trading Bitcoin that ICE launched. A short time later, when she was a senator overseeing the CFTC, ICE was concerned that Bakkt could be severely hurt by CFTC regulations. ICE pointed this out in a filing it submitted to the Securities and Exchange Committee in February 2020. The filing noted that the “CFTC has designated bitcoin as a commodity…subject to the CFTC’s jurisdiction and enforcement powers.” It stated that if the CFTC pursued an aggressive approach to this exchange, “it may have a significant adverse impact on Bakkt’s business and plan of operations.” ICE pointed out that CFTC activity—or the lack thereof—was crucial for the future prospects of the venture Loeffler once headed […]

    And Loeffler had a direct financial interest in Bakkt. In early 2019, she was awarded a $15.6 million stake in a company that owned a chunk of Bakkt—about half of which she cashed out at the end of that year when she left the firm, in an arrangement criticized by corporate governance experts. […]

    More at the link.

  237. says

    Colorado confirms first case of highly contagious COVID-19 variant in US

    Colorado officials on Tuesday confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus strain in the U.S. as the same variant hurtles across the United Kingdom.

    Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said in a statement that the Colorado State Laboratory notified the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of the case, which involves a male in his 20s who is currently in isolation. The patient has no travel history.

    Polis said that public health officials are currently investigating the case and that the man will remain in isolation until he is cleared by health officials. No close contacts with the patient have been identified so far, but contact tracing interviews are underway.

    “There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Polis.

    The U.S. is now one of at least 17 countries outside the U.K. to have a confirmed case of the mutated strain of COVID-19. Virtually all of the cases outside of the U.K. have not spread rapidly, as the strain has in Great Britain, and most of the confirmed cases originated from someone who had traveled to the U.K. […]

    The new strain, known as B.1.1.7, is believed to be fueled by alterations in the spike protein on the virus’s surface.

    It has 17 mutations overall, eight of which impact the virus’s spike protein. The virus was identified in Colorado after tests showed it did not have the S gene, the absence of which is a key indicator of the B.1.1.7 variant. […]

  238. says

    From Joe Biden:

    We need to be honest. The next few weeks and months are going to be very tough, a very tough period for our nation, maybe the toughest during this entire pandemic. I know it’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.

    We’re going to get through this. Brighter days are coming, but it’s going to take all the grit and determination we have as Americans to get it done. [Things will] get worse before they get better.

    More details:

    […] Biden highlighted the potential for coronavirus cases to further increase during January after millions of Americans traveled and gathered with family over the holidays despite warnings from public health experts.

    The Transportation Security Administration screened almost 1.3 million travelers on Sunday, setting a one-day record for air travel during the pandemic.

    “Turning this around is going to take time. We might not see improvement until we are well into March, as it will take time for our COVID response plan to begin to produce visible progress,” Biden said.

    […] Biden’s remarks represented an effort to set expectations for his administration’s efforts to confront the virus in his first 100 days as president. The United States has recorded nearly 19.5 million total coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and has endured more than 336,000 deaths due to the virus.

    Biden predicted grimly Tuesday that the U.S. would surpass 400,000 deaths before he takes office on Jan. 20.

    […] “I think we just have to assume that it’s going to get worse,” said Fauci, who has been tapped as Biden’s chief medical adviser.

    Biden on Tuesday [today] also criticized the Trump administration’s response to the virus and laid out an ambitious plan to confront COVID-19 once he takes office next month.

    He said the administration has fallen “far behind” its goal of administering 20 million vaccines by the end of 2020. Biden, whose team plans to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up vaccine production, said he would accelerate distribution to administer 100 million doses of vaccine in his first 100 days in office.

    “This is going to be the greatest operational challenge we have ever faced as a nation, but we’re going to get it done,” Biden said. […]

    Link

  239. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Tried To Ban Teaching About Racism. Judge Says Eat Sh*t.”

    With all of the absolutely batshit insane nonsense going on right now, it can be easy to lose sight of all of the other messes Trump created. Between stupid coup attempts, a Christmas Day suicide bomber in downtown Nashville, and the president’s Twitter account, there’s just a lot of shit to keep track of. So you may have almost missed this nice little present we got last week.

    Just in time for Christmas, Northern District of California Judge Beth Labson Freeman gave us a shiny, beautiful gift — a nationwide injunction stopping Donald Trump’s diversity training ban.

    In The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz v. Trump, Judge Labson Freeman found that the organizations challenging Trump’s bigoted fuckery had shown that they were likely to win their First and Fifth Amendment claims and were entitled to a preliminary injunction blocking the insane, racist policy.

    […] Back in September, Trump signed Executive Order 13950, which prohibited the military, federal agencies, and federal contractors and grantees from conducting what he called “divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” And no, he wasn’t talking about his legal team’s press conferences. He was talking about the concept that racism in America exists.

    The order is, as expected, fucking insane. It bans “all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” And it goes so far as to mandate that all federal contractors agree to not “use any workplace training that inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating,” including the enumerated “divisive concepts[,]” even when using their own funds to train their own employees on things that have nothing to do with their federal contracts or grants. […]

    The Labor Department has also said that ending the teaching of concepts like systemic racism is “a key civil rights priority of the Trump Administration.” […]

    In the wake of the order, Trump’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russell Vought issued a memo directing agencies to look for terms like “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” “positionality,” “racial humility,” and “unconscious bias” to see if trainings “teach, advocate, or promote the divisive concepts specified” in the order.

    This executive order is pretty clearly and straightforwardly a content-based ban on speech that is protected by the First Amendment.[…]

    As expected, the order has already ended most diversity training in some federal agencies. And private businesses and universities who contract with or receive grants from the federal government canceled or suspended various diversity training programs.

    […] For now, the order can’t be enforced against any federal contractors or grantees — nationwide. Yay!

    […] It’s insane that this is even up for debate in 2020, but here we are. Thankfully, the judge found that conditioning federal grants and contracts on complying with the order “clearly would constitute a content-based restriction on protected speech.” Content-based and viewpoint-based restrictions on speech are almost always unconstitutional; the government doesn’t get to dictate what people and organizations say.

    The court also noted that the order puts higher education institutions at risk of losing their federal funding. Federal funding is vital to university research, and on its face, Trump’s order requires that universities and college that get federal grants (read: all of them) stop teaching the concepts that Trump and Stephen Miller have deemed “propaganda” — even when the purpose of a grant has absolutely nothing to do with the speech Trump doesn’t like. The order didn’t even make exceptions for university courses.

    […] Judge Freeman also found that the plaintiffs were likely to win their due process claims. When the government makes something illegal, it has to be clear about what, exactly it’s making illegal — especially when the restriction in question limits free speech or expression. If a law is too vague or ambiguous, people can’t reasonably determine what conduct or speech is actually illegal. Judge Freeman found that the order was so unclear that it did not give fair notice of what, exactly, is prohibited.

    […] Unfortunately, the executive order remains in place for federal agencies.

    Judge Labson Freeman held that the federal contractors and grantees challenging the order didn’t have standing to get an injunction on behalf of federal agencies. Noting that “the Government has a legitimate interest in controlling the scope of diversity training in the federal workforce and can limit the expenditure of federal funds[,]” the court limited its order to federal contractors and grantees. The NAACP, National Urban League, and National Fair Housing Alliance have also sued over the order in federal court in DC, but that case will likely be similarly limited.

    And things at federal agencies have already gotten even worse since Trump signed this bullshit order. Last week, DOJ whistleblowers sent a letter to the House, Senate, Office of Special Counsel, and Office of the Inspector General, saying the Trump diversity directives “cannot and must not stand.” […]

    What now?

    With a little luck, this particular chapter in our national nightmare is almost over — Joe Biden is comin’ to town and all of this litigation will hopefully soon be moot.

    The incoming Biden administration is widely expected to rescind this horseshit. Biden and Harris campaigned on racial equity and coming to terms with systemic and institutional racism. It’s very hard to imagine the incoming Democratic administration — with a Black woman who champions diversity as veep — will allow this to stand. […]

    Link

  240. tomh says

    Federal Judge Calls Trump a ‘Criminal’ During a Phone Call with the Associated Press
    MATT NAHAM Dec 29th, 2020

    A senior U.S. District judge called Donald Trump a “criminal” during a phone call with the Associated Press as he discussed the 45th president’s recent pardons of political allies who were convicted in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

    Senior U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt, a Bill Clinton appointee who had been the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa before assuming senior status in 2012, said it was no surprise that Trump, whom he called a “criminal,” was pardoning criminals.

    “It’s not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals,” Pratt was quoted by the AP on Monday…

    Less than one week ago, President Trump issued pardons on consecutive days to corrupt former GOP congressman who endorsed him, former campaign aides convicted in the Russia probe, Blackwater guards, former Border Patrol Agents, and even the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner…

  241. says

    Ari Melber did a segment earlier about the US police officers killed by COVID this year, saying it’s the leading cause of death for them. A quick Google search suggests this is accurate. Axios said a few months ago that COVID had caused more police deaths than all other causes combined, that other causes had in fact declined, and that the most COVID police deaths have been in Texas. This seems really underreported, especially in the context of Trumpublican rhetoric about imaginary threats to police. They‘re the ones killing police.

  242. tomh says

    WaPo:
    N.Y. prosecutor hires forensic accounting experts as Trump criminal probe escalates
    By Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell
    Dec. 29, 2020

    NEW YORK — The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has retained forensic accounting specialists to aid its criminal investigation of President Trump and his business operations, as prosecutors ramp up their scrutiny of his company’s real estate transactions, according to people familiar with the matter.

    District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. opened the investigation in 2018 to examine alleged hush-money payments made to two women who, during Trump’s first presidential campaign, claimed to have had affairs with him years earlier. The probe has since expanded, and now includes the Trump Organization’s activities more broadly, said the people familiar with the matter. Vance’s office has suggested in court filings that bank, tax and insurance fraud are areas of exploration.

    Vance has contracted with FTI Consulting to look for anomalies among a variety of property deals, and to advise the district attorney on whether the president’s company manipulated the value of certain assets to obtain favorable interest rates and tax breaks, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter remains highly sensitive. The probe is believed to encompass transactions spanning several years…

    Vance is engaged in a long-running legal battle to obtain eight years of Trump’s tax records and other financial information from the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. Those records are considered the final piece of what is already a well-developed investigation, according to the person.

    In July, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trump’s argument that, as president, he is immune from state court proceedings. Since then, he has argued that the subpoena for his financial information is deficient, amounts to political “harassment” and was issued in “bad faith.”

    Though lower courts have rejected those arguments as well, the matter is once again before the Supreme Court. Trump has requested a stay, or a suspension of the proceedings, in his fight with Vance. If the president’s request is denied, the district attorney’s office should get immediate access to his tax records.

  243. says

    AP – “Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dead from COVID-19”:

    Luke Letlow, Louisiana’s incoming Republican member of the U.S. House, died Tuesday night from complications related to COVID-19 only days before he would have been sworn into office. He was 41.

    Letlow spokesman Andrew Bautsch confirmed the congressman-elect’s death at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport.

    The state’s newest congressman, set to take office in January, was admitted to a Monroe hospital on Dec. 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus disease. He was later transferred to the Shreveport facility and placed in intensive care.

    Dr. G.E. Ghali, of LSU Health Shreveport, told The Advocate that Letlow didn’t have any underlying health conditions that would have placed him at greater risk to COVID-19.

    Letlow, from the small town of Start in Richland Parish, was elected in a December runoff election for the sprawling 5th District U.S. House seat representing central and northeastern regions of the state, including the cities of Monroe and Alexandria.

    He was to fill the seat being vacated by his boss, Republican Ralph Abraham. Letlow had been Abraham’s chief of staff and ran with Abraham’s backing for the job.

    Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two children.

    U.S. House leaders offered their condolences Tuesday night.

    “May it be a comfort to Luke’s wife Julia and their children Jeremiah and Jacqueline that so many mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said: “Our hearts break tonight as we process the news of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s passing.”

    Letlow is one of more than 7,000 people in Louisiana who have died from COVID-19 since March, according to data from the state health department….

  244. says

    Newsweek – “Donald Trump Attacks Brad Raffensperger’s Brother—He Doesn’t Have One”:

    President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday night to criticize Republican officials in Georgia, including Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for failing to investigate unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the state.

    The president also criticized Raffensperger’s brother, saying he works for China. However, Raffensperger doesn’t have a brother, as many social media users were quick to point out.

    “I love the Great State of Georgia, but the people who run it, from the Governor, @BrianKempGA, to the Secretary of State, are a complete disaster and don’t have a clue, or worse. Nobody can be this stupid. Just allow us to find the crime, and turn the state Republican,” Trump wrote.

    “Now it turns out that Brad R’s brother works for China, and they definitely don’t want ‘Trump’. So disgusting!” the president added in a second tweet.

    Trump is likely referring to Ron Raffensperger, CTO of Chinese technology firm Huawei. The two men are not related.

    A conspiracy theory linking Georgia’s secretary of state to Ron Raffensperger and Chinese interference in the 2020 presidential election has made the rounds on social media in recent days.

    Stephen Fowler, politics reporter with GPB News, Georgia’s NPR and PBS station, explained on December 23 that Brad Raffensperger doesn’t even have a brother and poured scorn on the conspiracy.

    The supposed link between the two men first appeared in an article published by The Gateway Pundit but which is no longer available….

  245. says

    Results of the Cobb County signature audit:

    The full Georgia report: “No fraudulent absentee ballots were identified during the audit.” Cobb County elections officials got it right 99.99% of the time on signature matching. In one case — one — a spouse mistakenly signed an otherwise valid ballot [envelope].

    [link to the report atl]

    Keep in mind that the entire elected Cobb leadership flipped in this election. Sheriff, County Commission Chair, District Attorney. The Cobb GOP then fought to challenge voters for the runoffs based solely on change of address (Students & Military?) Alleged fraud was not proven….

  246. says

    Tennessean – “Girlfriend warned Nashville police Anthony Warner was building bomb a year ago, report shows”:

    Sixteen months before Anthony Quinn Warner’s RV exploded in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning, officers visited his home in Antioch after his girlfriend reported that he was making bombs in the vehicle, according to documents obtained by The Tennessean.

    On Friday, 63-year-old Warner blew up a city block, police say, about 6:30 a.m. on Second Avenue outside an AT&T switch facility. The bomb caused massive destruction to 41 downtown buildings and crippled telecommunication systems throughout the Southeast over the weekend.

    In the aftermath, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Warner was “not on our radar” prior to the bombing. But a Metro Nashville Police Department report from August 2019 shows that local and federal authorities were aware of alleged threats he had made.

    No actions appear to have been taken to stop Warner, a slender 5-foot-8, 135-pound man [?] who died in the explosion, which injured three others.

    On Aug. 21, 2019, the girlfriend told Nashville police that Warner “was building bombs in the RV trailer at his residence,” the MNPD report states. Nashville police then forwarded the information to the FBI.

    Officers were called to the home of Warner’s girlfriend, roughly a mile and a half from Warner, who lived at 115 Bakertown Road.

    Police were called by the woman’s attorney, Raymond Throckmorton III, who was concerned about comments she had made. When they arrived, they found her sitting on the porch with two unloaded guns nearby.

    “She related that the guns belonged to a ‘Tony Warner’ and that she did not want them in the house any longer,” MNPD spokesman Don Aaron said in a statement to The Tennessean.

    While at the house, the woman told police about the bomb comments Warner had made.

    Throckmorton, who served as the woman’s attorney, told officers Warner “frequently talks about the military and bomb making,” the document said.

    Warner “knows what he is doing and is capable of making a bomb,” the attorney said to the officers, according to the report.

    In an interview Tuesday night, Throckmorton told The Tennessean he urged police at the time to look into the woman’s claim. He said she feared for her safety, believing Warner may harm her.

    Police then went to Warner’s home, but he didn’t answer the door after they knocked several times.

    Officers saw his RV behind the house, but the vehicle was fenced off and police were unable to see inside of it, the report said. While there, police noted that there were “several security cameras and wires attached to a alarm sign on the front door.”…

    More atl.

  247. says

    Politico – “Biden picks 3 coordinators for Covid-19 response”:

    President-elect Joe Biden is expanding his White House Covid-19 Response team, tapping three senior officials to coordinate vaccine, testing and supply chain strategy in an announcement first shared with POLITICO.

    The officials are set to play a major role in Biden’s response to the worsening pandemic, which the president-elect has made his top priority ahead of taking office. Nearly 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19, and more than 336,000 have died with the virus. Biden’s team has repeatedly criticized the Trump administration for not doing more to speed shots, tests and supplies in recent weeks.

    Biden has selected Bechara Choucair, a Kaiser Permanente executive, to be the nation’s Covid-19 vaccine coordinator. Choucair, a family physician who previously served as Chicago’s public health commissioner, has specialized in boosting health care access as chief health officer for Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery system.

    Choucair will be Biden’s point person for expediting vaccine delivery and coordinating with state and local officials. Biden and his allies have credited the Trump administration’s effort to rush Covid-19 vaccine development through its “Operation Warp Speed” initiative but warned that the pace of rolling out shots has fallen behind the administration’s promised goals. Officials had pledged to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of the year, but the Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday said that just 2.1 million Americans had received their first shot.

    “The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind. Far behind,” Biden said in remarks on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve directed my team to prepare a much more aggressive effort with more federal involvement and leadership to get things back on track.”

    Meanwhile, the president-elect chose Carole Johnson, the commissioner of New Jersey’s human services department and a former senior health adviser in the Obama-Biden White House, as the nation’s new Covid-19 testing coordinator. Johnson, who worked on strategies to fight the Ebola and Zika epidemics as a member of the White House Domestic Policy Council’s health team, will focus on expanding tests in schools, nursing homes and other settings — and for high-risk populations that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

    Biden advisers said Johnson is expected to take on a more expansive role than Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services department’s assistant secretary for health, who President Donald Trump tapped to serve as national Covid-19 testing coordinator this year and who was frequently pressed on testing shortages.

    “Testing is an area that we believe has been very underutilized and under-resourced, and it’s critical for the effective public health response,” Jeff Zients, Biden’s incoming coronavirus coordinator, told POLITICO. “We need to ramp up testing to include asymptomatics and do more screening.”

    Johnson also will chair Biden’s new National Pandemic Testing Board, which the president-elect says will ensure tests are fairly and quickly allocated. Biden has compared the testing board to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Production Board, which rapidly ramped up production of military vehicles and supplies during World War II.

    Additionally, Biden picked Tim Manning, who served as deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for all eight years of the Obama-Biden administration, to be the nation’s new Covid-19 supply coordinator. Manning currently advises the Pacific Disaster Center, which is overseen by the University of Hawaii, and is on faculty at Georgetown University. State officials and public health advocates have criticized the Trump administration for shortages of protective equipment, tests and other supplies during this year’s Covid-19 response, and Biden advisers said that Manning will be empowered to head off future challenges.

    “He’ll identify any potential shortages and also the possible need for [Defense Production Act] action,” said Zients.

    Biden and his advisers say that the three officials will each be addressing the top priorities to contain the Covid-19 crisis.

    Choucair, Johnson and Manning will report to Zients. The positions are full-time White House roles, a transition official said.

    Zients told POLITICO that the incoming Biden administration will look to Congress to support its agenda.

    “We need enough funding from Congress to ramp up testing. We need enough funding from Congress to administer vaccines,” Zients said. “So Congress will need to act and provide the resources so we can reopen schools, ramp up testing and make sure that we administer the vaccines.”

    Biden also named additional members to his Covid-19 team, bringing back a slew of familiar faces from the Obama administration and health policy circles….

  248. says

    Reuters – “Brazil’s vice president taking antimalarial drug for COVID-19”:

    Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao is taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as part of an unproven treatment after contracting the novel coronavirus, his office said on Monday.

    In a statement, Mourao’s office said the vice president’s health is “good” and he is continuing to self-isolate at his official residence in Brasilia after testing positive for the virus on Sunday.

    President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the severity of COVID-19, while advocating for hydroxychloroquine as a treatment despite a lack of scientific evidence. He took the antimalarial himself when he caught the virus in July.

    Bolsonaro has come under fire for his handling of the pandemic in Brazil, which has confirmed nearly 7.5 million cases and lost more than 190,000 lives to COVID-19 — behind only the United States.

    Asked by reporters on Saturday about rising criticism that Brazil’s vaccine rollout has been slow and poorly explained, Bolsonaro said: “Nobody pressures me for anything, I don’t give a damn about it.”

  249. says

    Democracy Now! – “Honduran Indigenous Environmentalist Félix Vásquez Assassinated in Front of Family”:

    In news from Honduras, the Indigenous environmental activist Félix Vásquez was assassinated Saturday by armed, masked men in front of his family. Vásquez was a member of the Indigenous Lenca community and was planning to run for Congress in 2021. His killing comes four-and-a-half years after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, who was also a Lenca leader.

  250. says

    More re #320 – Guardian (support the Guardian if you can!) – “Indigenous environmental defender killed in latest Honduras attack”:

    Another indigenous environmentalist has been killed in Honduras, cementing the country’s inglorious ranking as the deadliest place in the world to defend land and natural resources from exploitation.

    Félix Vásquez, 60, a veteran leader of the indigenous Lenca people, was shot dead at home in Santiago de Puringla, a rural community in the department of La Paz, western Honduras on the night of 26 December – just weeks after reporting death threats linked to his work. His adult children were beaten and threatened by the four armed assailants in balaclavas, but survived the ordeal.

    Vásquez had been involved in the defence of indigenous land rights since the 1980s and was well-known nationally for organizing opposition to environmentally destructive megaprojects such as mines, hydroelectric dams, wind farms and logging, as well as for helping dispossessed communities recover ancestral land titles.

    In recent weeks, a campaign of intimidation against several Lenca leaders including Vásquez, had escalated, amid a tense land dispute between a small indigenous community and a local farmer allegedly connected to the ruling National party.

    Vásquez had reported being followed and monitored at home, while two other Lenca leaders were jailed on trumped-up charges related to the land dispute. Vásquez had also recently announced his intention to stand as a candidate for the progressive Libre party in the March 2021 primaries.

    His death comes almost five years since the assassination of the celebrated Lenca leader and Goldman prize winner Berta Cáceres who was shot dead at home in March 2016 after suffering years of threats and harassment linked to her opposition to an internationally funded dam. Seven men were convicted for their role in planning and executing the murder, but none of those who ordered, paid for and benefited from the crime have faced trial.

    Vásquez’s death was condemned by rights groups, European and American lawmakers and diplomats. “Justice, the rule of law and the fight against impunity are necessary more than ever,” tweeted the UN representative Alice Shackelford.

    But hopes for justice are low. “Félix was very smart and a great strategist who’d opposed extractivism for more than 35 years, that’s why he was killed,” said Roger Medina, a friend and lawyer who represents local Lenca communities. “We live in a dictatorship, so I’ve no doubt that this will be another crime against another indigenous environmentalist that will go unpunished.”

    On Tuesday, local media reported the killing of yet another defender, Adán Mejía from the indigenous Tolupán people, who was allegedly attacked on his way back from tending to his corn crops in Candelaria, a rural community in the northern department of Yoro.

    Honduras became one of the most dangerous countries in the world to defend natural resources and land rights after the 2009 coup ushered in an autocratic government which remains in power despite multiple allegations of corruption, electoral fraud and links to international drug trafficking networks.

    Hundreds of defenders have been killed and disappeared, while many others have been silenced as a result of trumped-up criminal charges.

    This year has been particularly grim. In July, a group of Black indigenous Garifuna land defenders were forcibly disappeared by armed assailants in police uniforms. Eight water defenders from the Guapinol community have been held on remand throughout the pandemic despite international condemnation of the prosecution linked to their peaceful protests against a polluting iron oxide mine.

    According to a report by the UN working group on business and human rights, the “root cause of most social conflicts [in Honduras] is the systematic lack of transparency and meaningful participation” of communities affected by the exploitation of natural resources.

    Yet the nexus between political and economic elites means crimes against environmental defenders are rarely prosecuted. Investigations into allegedly corrupt officials who sanction large-scale projects without legally required consultations and environmental impact assessments are also rare.

    In La Paz alone, at least 40 megaprojects have been sanctioned on indigenous territory without consulting local communities….

  251. says

    Guardian – “Argentina legalises abortion in landmark moment for women’s rights”:

    Argentina has become the largest Latin American country to legalise abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favour to 29 against, with one abstention.

    Elated pro-choice campaigners who had been keeping vigil outside Buenos Aires’s neoclassical congressional palace erupted in celebration as the result was announced at just after 4am on Wednesday.

    Women screamed with delight, sweeping their friends into tight hugs and jumping in ecstasy. Many wept tears of joy. Victory music kicked in and green smoke filled the air. A triumphant message flashed up on a big screen above the joyful crowd: “We did it!” it said. “ES LEY!” (IT’S LAW!).

    The bill, which legalises terminations in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, was approved by Argentina’s lower house earlier this month after being put to congress by the country’s leftwing president, Alberto Fernández.

    “Safe, legal and free abortion is now law … Today we are a better society,” Fernández celebrated on Twitter after the result was confirmed.

    Fernández has previously said that more than 3,000 women had died as a result of unsafe, underground abortions in Argentina since the return of democracy in 1983.

    The landmark decision means Argentina becomes only the third South American country to permit elective abortions, alongside Uruguay, which decriminalised the practice in 2012, and Guyana, where it has been legal since 1995.

    Cuba legalised the practice in 1965 while Mexico City and the Mexican state of Oaxaca also allow terminations.

    Giselle Carino, an Argentinian feminist activist, said she believed the achievement in the home country of Pope Francis would reverberate across a region that is home to powerful Catholic and evangelical churches and some of the harshest abortion laws in the world.

    In most countries, such as Brazil, abortions are only permitted in extremely limited circumstances such as rape or risk to the mother’s [sic] life, while in some, such as the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, they are banned altogether.

    “I feel incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. This is a historic moment for the country, without a doubt,” said Carino, head of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region.

    “It shows how, in spite of all the obstacles, change and progress are possible. Argentinian women and what’s happening right now will have an enormous impact on the region and the world,” Carino added, pointing to parallel struggles in Brazil, Chile and Colombia.

    Colombian activists recently petitioned the constitutional court to remove abortion from the country’s criminal code while campaigners in Chile hope a new constitution might lead to expanded women’s rights.

    In the region’s most populous nation, Brazil, activists are waiting for the supreme court to rule on a 2018 legal challenge that would decriminalise abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy.

    Wednesday’s victory is the result of five years of mass protest marches by Argentina’s grassroots women’s movement, which began as a Twitter campaign against gender violence that used the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (“Not one less” – meaning no more women lost to gender violence).

    Pro-choice campaigners initially saw their hopes of change dashed in August 2018 when the senate, under pressure from the Catholic church, rejected a similar bill.

    Fernández’s election the following year brought fresh hope, as he promised to back the push for change. “The criminalisation of abortion has achieved nothing,” he said in November after putting the legislation to congress.

    Speaking outside congress on Wednesday, 46-year-old Julieta Cabrera said: “Until the last moment I didn’t want to believe it, not until the last vote was in, because last time, we got our hopes up.” She said she had come out because “abortion is something I’ve experienced firsthand. My generation and many others have been through it.”…

    More atl.

  252. says

    60 Minutes did a profile of Gen. Perna a few weeks ago, and he said he took full responsibility for vaccine distribution. I don’t know that he’s said anything publicly in the past 10 days. The public is just left completely in the dark.

  253. says

    “A reliable rule with your White Nutter Terrorist is that the initial story that goes ‘He was always quiet and polite and kept to himself’ will be followed soon after by one that goes ‘Someone who actually knew him tried to tell the cops what he was up to’.”

    Also, the likelihood that they committed domestic violence or stalking is also extremely high.”

  254. KG says

    According to The Times:

    “Legal experts have warned that the Brexit bill contains sweeping powers that would allow ministers to reinterpret existing domestic laws without seeking parliamentary approval if they can justify it as necessary to implement the trade deal with the EU.”
    The bill ratifying the trade agreement with the EU is being rushed through the UK Parliament in a single day, with no time for proper scrutiny. Starmer whipped Labour MPs to support it, thus making it next to impossible for Labour to criticise it in future. The smaller opposition parties all (I think) opposed it.

    This is from a comment in the Guardian:

    “Mark Elliott, a professor of public law at Cambridge University, said Clause 29 of the bill states that British law will have effect “as if it complies with the Brexit trade agreement”.
    Professor Elliott likened this to an “automatic Henry VIII clause”. “It has the effect of requiring us to proceed as if domestic law had been amended via a Henry VIII power, in circumstances where it has not been amended but where amendment is needed to implement the agreements,” he tweeted.

    “That does not strike me as ideal from a legal certainty perspective.””

    It was only to be expected that Johnson would use the occasion for a new power-grab.

  255. blf says

    (A slightly-modified cross-post from poopyhead’s current Republicans aren’t very good at numbers post here at FtB.)

    US approves sale of $290m in bombs to Saudi Arabia:

    […]
    The US state department has approved the sale of $290m in bombs to Saudi Arabia as part of a flurry of arms deals with Middle Eastern dictatorships in the last weeks of the Trump administration.

    Critics of the sales say they are being rushed through despite broad congressional and public opposition to such military support because of the human rights records of the regimes involved and in the case of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the huge civilian death toll from the war in Yemen.

    […]

  256. blf says

    (Another slightly-edited cross-post from poopyhead’s current Republicans aren’t very good at numbers thread here at FtB.)

    Here in France the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out has been dreadful — only c.100 people in 3 days — France criticised for slow start to Covid-19 vaccinations. As the article alludes to, France has perhaps the highest level of vaccine hesitancy in the so-called developed world, with a recent survey claiming only c.40% said they would get the vaccine ! How that results in the poor rollout is a mystery; more noticeable is I haven’t see any — none at all† — basic information, high-profile vaccinations, debunking anti-vaxxers (except by NGOs), etc, etc. From the article:

    […]
    France’s strategy “is not suited to a situation that is so dangerous,” Axel Kahn, a prominent geneticist who leads the National League against Cancer told Europe 1 radio.

    Kahn said the government should seek to persuade people who are hesitating to be inoculated with “transparency and enthusiasm”.

    “We need to protect the French people and those who are vulnerable.”

    […]

    Philippe Juvin, emergency services chief at Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris, said that there appeared to be no national “vaccine strategy” in France.

    “As an individual, I would like to be vaccinated, to set an example, and show people that we don’t die from the vaccine, we die from Covid. And when we don’t die, we get severe forms which are very disabling,” he told CNews TV channel.

    […]

    Health Minister Olivier Veran defended the more measured pace in France, saying that officials were taking time to win people over to the idea of being vaccinated.

    “It takes a little more time to get going,” he said, adding he expected to catch up on the rest of the world by the end of January.

    […]

      † Caveat: I don’t follow the French-language media as closely as I do the English-language media, so I could be (and this has happened in the past) “blissfully unawares” of any French-language(-mostly) campaigns.

  257. says

    GOP’s Hawley vows to formally challenge Biden’s election victory

    There’s no shortage of far-right House Republicans who’ve announced plans to formally contest Joe Biden’s victory when Congress meets next week to certify the electoral college votes. The question has been how — and whether — the GOP-led Senate will respond.

    To Donald Trump’s great frustration, Senate Republican leaders have pleaded with their members to be responsible. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who goes to great lengths to avoid anything that divides his conference — has explicitly told GOP senators that there’s no point in playing games with this, and Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) added last week that if any of his colleagues made such an effort, it would “go down like a shot dog.”

    But for those eager to grandstand, and claim a far-right spotlight in advance of an expected presidential campaign, the temptation to ignore party leaders and do the dumb thing is simply too strong. Politico reported this morning:

    Sen. Josh Hawley on Wednesday pledged to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania and possibly other states on Jan. 6, when Congress is set to certify the results of the 2020 election. The Missouri Republican’s announcement guarantees that both chambers will be forced to debate the results of at least one state and vote on whether to accept Biden’s victory, a process that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged Republicans to avoid, despite pressure from […] Trump, who is urging Republicans to overturn the democratic results.

    In a written statement released this morning, Hawley, in his second year on Capitol Hill, suggested Republicans’ baseless fraud allegations have merit and are worthy of scrutiny. Though he must be aware of the GOP scam, the Missourian said, “At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act.”

    For those fearing some kind of Republican-orchestrated coup, let’s make the end result clear: Hawley’s little stunt will not have any substantive effect. It will require the Senate to debate his objection, and it will slightly delay Congress’ certification of the election results, but it will not interfere with Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

    But that does not mean that the Missouri Republican’s gambit is meaningless. On the contrary, there are elements of this that are quite important.

    It’s obvious, for example, that this move will create a race to the bottom in GOP politics. There’s no great mystery as to what’s motivating Hawley: the senator seems to believe his party is headed in an increasingly Trumpian direction, and if he’s going to be a major power player, he’ll need to be seen fighting alongside Trump, lending his voice to Trump’s ugliest grievances.

    That, of course, means that every other ambitious Republican who’s also striving for power-player status will need to follow suit, lest Hawley claim the mantle — and impress Trump’s rabid followers — without intra-party competition.

    […] Postscript: In his written statement, Hawley leaned heavily on a Dems-did-this-first argument, arguing, “I will follow the same practice Democrat [sic] members of Congress have in years past and object during the certification process on January 6.” (Even here, Republicans like Hawley feel the need to get the Democratic Party’s name wrong on purpose.)

    It’s likely the public will be hearing this talking point frequently in the coming days, which makes it all the more important to acknowledge reality. In 2004 — a race that was considerably closer than the 2020 race — then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) objected to then-President George W. Bush’s narrow victory in Ohio. Hawley would apparently have people believe he’s simply following in these footsteps.

    But that’s foolish: Boxer was not seriously contesting Bush’s re-election victory; she simply claimed the spotlight for a short while, trying to draw attention to Ohio’s controversial voting policies, which were genuinely a mess. Her objection was largely overlooked; John Kerry had no interest in contesting his narrow defeat; and Democrats involved in the 2004 gambit made it explicitly clear they had no intention of trying to overturn the results of the election.

    In every way that matters, the scheme Trump-aligned Republicans are pursuing now is qualitatively and fundamentally different.

  258. says

    UN Experts: Trump Blackwater Contractor Pardons Violate International Law

    […] Trump’s pre-Christmas pardon of four Blackwater contractors convicted of killing more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in 2007 violated U.S. obligations under international law, United Nations experts said in a Wednesday statement.

    “These pardons violate U.S. obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law and human rights at a global level,” said Jelena Aparac, chair of the U.N.’s working group on the use of mercenaries.

    The human rights experts at the U.N. noted in the statement that the Geneva Conventions require states to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes, even when those crimes are committed by private security contractors. The four former contractors who were pardoned last week opened fire in a Baghdad square over a decade ago and killing 14 Iraqi civilians.

    The four contractors responsible for the killings were working at the time for Blackwater Worldwide, the private security firm owned by Erik Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary. Among them, Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder, while Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted of voluntary and attempted manslaughter. Trump lauded the four, all of whom were military veterans, in his pardon for “a long history of service to the Nation.”

    General David Petraeus, who was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq at the time of the violent encounter, issued a joint statement with then-U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, condemning Trump’s “hugely damaging” pardon spree.

    The pair said the action “tells the world that Americans abroad can commit the most heinous crimes with impunity.”

  259. says

    The U.K. approved the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine, but the U.S. won’t get the Astra Zeneca vaccine until April. What is going on there?

    […] The U.S. has ordered 300 million doses of the two-shot vaccine candidate, which has faced questions during development. A late-stage trial was paused this fall to assess a serious reaction to a shot, while promising results from an early readout on the shot were attributed to a dosing mistake.

    Slaoui [Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed] said that while the AstraZeneca vaccine appears very effective against severe disease, its efficacy among elderly people is “effectively unknown” because few older people were enrolled early in the trial. He said that remains his biggest question about the company’s shot, given the virus’ impact on elderly people.

    British regulators on Wednesday morning became the first in the world to authorize the AstraZeneca vaccine for use. Rather than hold back doses to ensure people quickly get a second shot, British health officials said they would broadly vaccinate the country with the first doses and provide the second within three months. They said the move would provide some level of protection to the whole country amid climbing infections and a new variant of the virus that appears to be more transmissible.

    But the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine is still unclear, particularly when doses are spaced out. AstraZeneca’s vaccine so far shows 62 percent efficacy when used as two full doses administered 28 days apart. But after a dilution mistake in one arm of a phase 3 trial, scientists found that the vaccine was 90 percent effective when a small group received a half-dose first.

    U.S. regulators need more evidence: The drugmaker has said that the combined results showed 70 percent efficacy, but Slaoui suggested that U.S. regulators would not be satisfied by that conclusion.

    “As far as the American people are concerned, I think it’s important to say one vaccine has 95 percent efficacy, another vaccine has X percent, whatever that number,” Slaoui told reporters, referring to the high efficacy rates for the Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that the FDA has authorized. “We need a clear and concrete number more than a number that is accumulated by adding together different trials with different schedules and different materials.”

    Slaoui also questioned Britain’s dosing strategy. He said it’s possible a booster shot can be more effective when administered months later, but he said that the U.K. decision was based on theory rather evidence.

    “It’s important, I think, to use the vaccine based on how you studied it,” he said.

    Politico link

  260. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Election Witnesses Somehow Even LESS Credible Than They First Appeared.”

    […] You all remember Rudy Giuliani’s wackass Michigan witness Mellissa Carone, right? That nutbag who just got off double super secret probation for sending harassing videos of herself bumping bits to her boyfriend’s ex and somehow wound up witnessing all the “fraud” taking place at the TCF center during vote counting in Detroit? […]

    “That poll book? Is completely off! Completely off! I’d say that poll book is off by over 100,000. That poll book? Why don’t you look at the registered voters on there? How many registered voters are on there? Do you know the answer to that? Zero. Zero. There’s zero,” Carone blurbled, to the great amusement of everyone in the hall.

    Well! Turns out something else might have been “completely off,” and it is Carone’s account of her crucial role in the vote counting. In her affidavit, she describes herself as having been “contracted by Dominion Voting Systems to do IT work at the TCF Center.” But Dominion’s defamation lawyer Thomas Clare describes the matter somewhat differently.

    “We write to you now because you have positioned yourself as a prominent leader of the ongoing misinformation campaign by pretending to have some sort of ‘insider’s knowledge’ regarding Dominion’s business activities, when in reality you were hired through a staffing agency for one day to clean glass on machines and complete other menial tasks,” Clare wrote. […]

    […] But, wait, there’s more! On Christmas Eve the Washington Post reported that one of Sidney Powell’s star Kraken witnesses whose identity had to be kept secret from opposing counsel to protect her “reputation, professional career and personal safety” is also rather less than first described. In her affidavit detailing purported vote rigging by Dominion, the witness describes herself as a “trained Cryptolinguist” with “a completed degree in Molecular and Cellular Physiology” and “over two decades of mathematical modeling and pattern analysis.” In fact, the affiant is Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, a pro-Trump podcaster and conspiracy theorist whose only formal educational attainment appears to be a bachelor’s degree in biology and who has her own rather checkered work and criminal history.

    […] Maras-Lindeman’s reports in her affidavit that she went to work for a super secret military contractor. In a documentary shot by Infowars reporter Millie Weaver, Maras-Lindeman claims to have hacked into the State Department at the behest of former CIA Director John Brennan. When asked to verify her employment, Maras-Lindeman told the Post, “People like me don’t exist. You just have to trust.”

    […] the multiple appearance in North Dakota small claims court in which Maras-Lindeman allegedly held herself out as a pediatric oncologist.

    […] in a civil case brought by the state’s attorney general in 2018 over a purported charitable event she tried to organize in Minot, N.D., where she and her family resided. Attorneys for the state said she used money she collected — ostensibly to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves — on purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC and elsewhere.

    A judge ultimately found that Maras-Lindeman violated consumer protection laws by, among other things, misspending money she raised and soliciting donations while misrepresenting her experience and education.

    In other words, Maras-Lindeman and Mellissa Carone were both perfectly trumpian witnesses. They were/are both grifters, scammers, con artists.

    […] Maras-Lindeman has appealed to the state Supreme Court. In court filings and in her interview with The Post, she denied mishandling the funds or misleading donors. She blamed identity theft and bureaucratic failings for a proliferation of variations on her name and social security numbers associated with her.

    […] Interestingly, Maras-Lindeman told the Post that she’d never spoken to Sidney Powell or anyone on her team, but had simply passed around the affidavit and later discovered it being used in the pleading. Far be it from Your Wonkette to call Sidney Powell “competent,” but it seems unlikely that she’d stake her credibility on an affidavit she downloaded randomly from the ether. Also, too, as the Post notes, Maras-Lindeman told her listeners on December 7 that she’d hooked up with a group of “really good people — patriots — gathered, working hard to ensure that they not only get to the bottom of what happened during this election . . . but they’re also seeking to prosecute.”

    […] between these two witnesses, it’s difficult to know which possesses the most unimpeachable character and curriculum vitae. Let’s go with NEITHER.

    Wonkette>

  261. says

    Watch Ossoff’s glee at hijacking Fox News for a live campaign ad for himself and Warnock

    […] “We are live on Fox right now,” Doocy says, pulling Ossoff away. And at this point, check out the look on Ossoff’s face for what he’s planning to do next. Too bad for Doocy he couldn’t see what was coming. Instead, he stupidly barges in with “you talk […] about health and jobs and justice all. Why not talk more about your relevant experience?” Doocy asks. “I’ve made my career fighting injustice, exposing war crimes and injustice,” Ossoff replied. “I run a business that’s exposed terrorism, that exposed sexual slavery by ISIS, that’s exposed judicial corruption. And right now, we have a crisis of corruption in American politics.”

    That corruption, he continues, is why he’s running. “And since we’re live on Fox,” Ossoff continued, “let me take this opportunity to address directly the Fox audience. We have two United States senators in Georgia who have blatantly used their offices to enrich themselves. This is beyond partisanship.” He continues, turning back to Doocy, “the reason, to your question, that I talk so much about health and jobs and justice for all the people, is that we can unite behind that program.” He goes on to talk about the closure of nine rural hospitals in the state, the need for an investment in infrastructure, living wage jobs, and for “civil rights and voting rights legislation to secure equal justice for all.” Then he turns back to the audience and owns Doocy. “I humbly and respectfully request the support of everyone who is tuned in on Fox right now, and I’d love for you to log on to ‘elect jon—elect j-o-n—dot com’ that’s ‘elect j-o-n dot com’ make a contribution to our efforts here in Georgia.” Boom.

    Doocy, stupidly, just couldn’t leave well enough alone, having just participated in cutting a television ad for Jon Ossoff live on Fox News. Nope—he continued, creating a huge opening for Ossoff to deliver the coup de grace on behalf of his co-Democratic campaigner, Rev. Raphael Warnock. “One more quick one while we’ve got you,” Doocy says. “Any concern that the allegations of wrongdoing against Rev. Warnock could possibly be a drag on the Democratic ticket?”

    “None whatsoever,” Ossoff responded. “Here’s the bottom line: Kelly Loeffler has been campaigning with a klansman. Kelly Loeffler has been campaigning with a klansman. And so she is stooping to these vicious personal attacks to distract from the fact that she’s been campaigning with a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. I mean, we deserve better than that here in Georgia.” That’s for sure. (In case you missed it, yes, Loeffler posed with not just any klansman at a campaign rally, but with Chester Doles, a former KKK leader who runs the white supremacist American Patriots USA.) […]

    Video is available at the link.

  262. says

    From Susan B. Glasser, writing for The New Yorker: “The Trümperdämmerung Is a Fitting End to 2020.”

    As the awful year of 2020 and the awful tenure of Donald Trump both come to an end, [Trump] has partied with the unmasked in Palm Beach and taken credit for a vaccine against a virus that he once counselled could be beaten with bleach. He has pardoned mercenary child-killers and Paul Manafort. He has golfed. He has raged. He has vetoed the annual defense bill and threatened to shut down the government over the holidays. […]

    He continues to refuse to accept his defeat in the election, and just the other day he retweeted a claim that “treason” kept him from winning. Injecting still more political drama into the most ministerial of constitutional processes, Trump and his most fanatical supporters now want Congress to refuse to confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College win on January 6th—which is both pointless, in that it will not happen, and incredibly destructive. Meanwhile, more than a hundred thousand Americans have died of the coronavirus just since the election, and only two million Americans—not the hundred million he once promised—have so far received the vaccine.

    The Trümperdämmerung is finally here, and it is every bit the raging dumpster fire that we, the unlucky audience for this drama, have come to expect. […] the hardest thing to accept is that 2020 is not merely the year that Donald Trump’s luck ran out but that with it the country’s did, too. Sadly and yet inevitably, this terrible, wretchedly toxic year of pandemic death and economic distress, of partisan hatred and national protest, is the culmination of all that Trump has wrought and all that he is.

    […] Trump has remained so defiantly and obnoxiously unrepentant, continuing his antics all the way to the end. He does not want to let go, to cede the spotlight, to renounce his outsized claim on our collective consciousness. It is my protest, our protest, to want so desperately to do so.

    […] How much worse was 2020? Well, NBC’s list of the President’s ten biggest lies in 2019 included Trump perennials like the idea that windmills, because of their noise, “cause cancer,” and “people are flushing toilets ten times, fifteen times,” and the U.S. will “be going to Mars very soon.” All are bad, absurd, and embarrassing coming from a President, but would not even rate in this year’s far deadlier, more consequential tally. Trump was not just a circus this year; he was an actual catastrophe.

    Which is why the before times are so hard to conjure now, nine months into the pandemic and nearly two months after an election whose aftermath has challenged the very foundation of American democracy. I can remember, sort of, Nancy Pelosi ripping up Trump’s State of the Union speech, and the drama of Mitt Romney becoming the only senator in history to vote to convict an impeached President of his own party. I can recall, sort of, the anxiety that followed the U.S. assassination of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Qassem Suleimani, and the drama of Biden’s remarkable comeback in the Democratic Presidential race.

    In reality, though, the year really began for me, for us, in February—on February 24th, to be precise, when Trump tweeted, “The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.” We already knew that this wasn’t true. I had spent the previous weekend haranguing my visiting parents about the virus and begging them to purchase N95 masks before it was too late. But somehow I did not fully recognize until that moment that Trump was going to approach the biggest public-health emergency of our lifetimes with a strategy of outright denial. The Big Lie of 2020 had begun. […]

    “Just stay calm. It will go away,” Trump said on March 10th, when thirty-one Americans were dead. “It’s going to go away,” he said on August 31st, by which point nearly two hundred thousand had died. “It’s going to disappear,” he said on October 10th. “It is disappearing.” He said that the coronavirus was a Chinese plot and that concern over it was a Democratic hoax, that he knew how to treat it better than the doctors did, that it was just like the flu, and that, if you got it, you would get better, as he eventually did in October. “That’s all I hear about now. . . . covid, covid, covid, covid,” he said before the election. “By the way, on November 4th, you won’t hear about it anymore.” But that wasn’t true, either, and, […] December has been by far our deadliest month yet.

    […] Trump pressing his Attorney General to prosecute his opponent weeks before the election? Trump holding rallies with thousands of unmasked followers during a deadly pandemic, including a superspreader White House event at which he introduced a Supreme Court nominee whom Republican senators hurriedly confirmed just days before Trump was defeated? “Person, woman, man, camera, TV”? “[…] It’s just all too insane.

    When I Googled “craziest shit Trump did in 2020,” a column I wrote in September, on “Twenty Other Disturbing, Awful Things That Trump Has Said This Month,” popped up. Although it was published just a few months ago, I realized that I did not remember many of the examples cited in it—the “super-duper” new “hydrosonic” missile that does not actually exist; Trump’s accusation that Biden got a “big fat shot in the ass” of some unknown drug; Trump’s admission that he was getting his information about the uselessness of mask-wearing from “waiters.” […] some weird shit indeed.

    […] The urge to move on from Trump is understandable, and potentially very, very dangerous. As of noon on January 20th, no matter what other madness comes between now and then, America will start to move on anyway.

    Out of all the books I read this year—and I read many, stuck at home during 2020’s endless quarantine—the one that resonated perhaps the most was “Those Who Forget,” an account by the French-German author Géraldine Schwarz of postwar Europe’s, and her own family’s, not entirely successful effort to reckon with the crimes of the Second World War. It made the very convincing case that, until and unless there is a full accounting for what happened with Donald Trump, 2020 is not over and never will be. I still don’t want to remember, but I know that forgetting is not an option, either.

    More at the link.

  263. blf says

    “You’re my sisters, brothers, and all that’s in-between…” — a lyric from Grace Petrie in Pride (video). I’d never heard of Ms Petrie until perhaps two weeks ago, when I found @334’s Shrewsbury 2019 video, and am now searching for more of their work… They have some marvelous work (albeit unfortunately a lot of poor audio / video), most of it very much political / protest; e.g., I Wish The Guardian Believed That I Exist. (The background: For many many yonks the Grauniad (and Observer) were the most “folk music”-friendly “U”K national newspapers, however their coverage has plummeted since the 1990s (and the Observer once published (I cannot find a link) a really rubbish article about Germanic traditional / “folk” music, confusing (as I now recall) the fringe fascist “support” with the much wider scene). Both still publish the occasional article / review, but as Grace’s song alliudes to, seem to focus (now) mostly on the better-known artists (which, to-date, perhaps does not include Ms Petrie?) — at least when measured by “the MSM”s metrics.)

  264. says

    Sen. Murphy:

    Let’s be clear – those contesting the Electoral College are trying to overthrow democracy. They want to turn America into a state akin to Russia or China, where elections are for show and one party rules.

    They won’t succeed this this time, but the wound to democracy is severe.

  265. blf says

    ‘Our history is contained there’: loss of archive threatens Native American tribes:

    […]
    In 1969, a clerical error resulted in the Samish Indian Nation in Washington state suddenly being dropped from the federal government’s list of recognized tribes. It took almost three decades of wading through piles of historical documents and painstaking litigation before its members were able to regain that recognition, along with the federal benefits and protections that come with it.

    Their success hinged on unearthing a wealth of documents — court cases, family histories, tribal correspondence with the federal government — much of which was found at the National Archives facility in Seattle, according to Tom Wooten, the Samish Indian Nation tribal chairman.

    “It was a struggle but we persevered through it,” Wooten said. “And to be honest, if that information wasn’t available at the archives, it would be really hard to bring any case like that today.”

    But the archive, which sits on a 10-acre site at the edge of Lake Washington, is under threat. It is among a dozen federal properties across the US expected to be put up for sale next year after being identified as high value assets [i.e., a “property developer” crony of hair furor wants the building / land –blf], a move that could deprive the Native American community in the Pacific north-west of access to critical resources.

    The archive contains nearly 58,000 cubic feet — or roughly 174m pages — of permanent records generated by federal agencies and courts between the 1860s and 2000s. It is a vast collection that contains key pieces of information about indigenous people in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and even Alaska, after the National Archives in Alaska closed in 2014.

    [… T]he documents are expected to be relocated to facilities in Missouri and California.

    […] Only a small fraction — between 1% and 3% — of the records have been digitised, meaning accessing the vast majority of them could require a trip of hundreds or even thousands of miles.

    […]

    “You’ve still got a number of federally unrecognized tribes that are petitioning for recognition, so this will set their efforts even further back,” said [associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Washington, Josh] Reid. “It’s just a staggering loss. I’m really hard-pressed to understand the logic beyond just simple ineptitude on the part of the federal government.”

    […]

    Records that have not yet been digitized can be scanned and sent to people unable to visit in person at a cost of 80 cents per page, explained Susan Karren, the director of the National Archives at Seattle.

    But issues related to the Native community can be very complicated, and in many cases it is not always clear which documents may be needed.

    [… more examples of the importance of the archive in its current location…]

    The Washington state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, has said he will sue to prevent the imminent sale of the archives building. He had previously filed lawsuits against three agencies involved in the decision to close the facility, in an effort to get records related to the sale. The new lawsuit is in response to what he described as a “dramatic change in the timeline for the sale”, explaining that it was expected to take place over the course of 2021, but now could happen at the beginning of the year.

    Adam Bodner, the executive director for the Public Buildings Reform Board, which made the recommendation that the facility be sold, told the Guardian […] The property in question appeared on our analysis because it was very valuable property and the federal government could not get the money to maintain it […]. It needed extensive repair and alterations. So from a real-estate perspective, it did not make sense for the government to continue to invest in that facility.

    Teh feds could not get the money? I have no idea of the amount involved, or if the claims of the needing extensive repair and alterations are accurate, but that does not seem very plausible. A few days-worth of providing Secret Service cover for hair furor at one of his gold courses is, possibly, adequate.

    [… T]ribal leaders say there was very little communication with them about this decision. Wooten […] recalled being invited to a “consultation” between officials from the archives and Pacific north-west tribes almost a year ago, but he said it was held at the same time as a key National Congress of American Indians event and very few tribes attended.

    “It wasn’t really a consultation,” he said. “It was, ‘This is what we’re doing, we just found out about this, this is the way it is’, more or less.”

    Wooten said it was clear to him why, despite the many concerns surrounding this move, the government is moving forward with selling this more than 200,000 square foot property.

    “They’re seeing all of the dollar signs,” he said. “It’s hard to put a value on history, but apparently some people can. It’s kind of sad.”

  266. blf says

    Doug Ford, brother of teh perhaps even more notorious Rob Ford, strikes again! Canadian politician faked Twitter posts to conceal Caribbean holiday:

    […]
    Ontario premier Doug Ford is under pressure after admitting that he has known for weeks that his finance minister — who faked social media posts to conceal his location — had ignored a coronavirus lockdown to go on holiday in the Caribbean.

    Posts on Rod Phillips’s social media accounts suggested that he remained home over Christmas, but it emerged on Tuesday that the minister flew to the island of St Barts in mid-December — despite his own government’s advice to avoid non-essential travel.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Ford admitted he had learned about Phillip’s tropical vacation two weeks ago […]

    Criticism of Phillips has focused on his social media accounts, which appeared to suggest he had remained in his constituency over the holidays.

    In a video posted on Christmas Eve, seated beside a fire, glass of eggnog and decorated gingerbread house, Phillips acknowledges the challenges of the holidays and thanks residents for doing what they can to protect “the most vulnerable” in the province.

    […]

    Other tweets during his vacation out of the country include pictures of him meeting local business owners and attending funding announcements.

    […]

    “It’s shameful, it’s a disgrace and shame on Doug Ford for knowing that this was the case and simply turning a blind eye,” [Provincial New Democratic party leader Andrea Horwath] told CP24. “There has to be some accountability for these kinds of things … Ontarians deserve better than that, so Ford has to fire him.”

    Under Canadian law, Phillips will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon his return to Ontario. […]

    Ford likes frozen peaches (only for his friends / donors), hair furor, and Big Oil (as three examples). Presumably, he will try to wrigglelie his way out… (Whether or not Phillips is toasted moose is unclear to me.)

  267. KG says

    Lynna@337,

    I must say I agree with Moncef Slaoui’s criticism of the UK decisions to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, and to space out first and second vaccine doses – neither is adequately supported by evidence from trials. I’ll take what I’m offered, but I’d much rather get the BioNTech-Pfizer shot, and get the two shots three weeks apart.