1. says

    Not political but… – Guardian – “Beetle that can walk upside down under water surface filmed in Australia in world first”:

    An Australian beetle has been observed walking upside down along the surface of water – the first instance that such behaviour has been visually documented.

    The tiny aquatic beetle, about 6mm to 8mm in length, has been recorded scuttling along the undersurface of a pool of water in New South Wales.

    John Gould, a PhD student at the University of Newcastle, discovered the beetle by accident while researching a frog species in the Watagan Mountains.

    In a rare documentation of the behaviour, Gould said he then realised the beetle seemed to be walking on the underside of the water’s surface as if it were a pane of glass.

    “I think I was just lucky,” Gould said. “The most interesting thing is that it’s able to rest on the underside of the water’s surface as well as walk.”

    While the specific species of beetle hasn’t been identified, the researchers believe it belongs to the Hydrophilidae family of beetles, commonly known as water scavengers.

    The beetle Gould observed appeared to have trapped a layer of air along its abdomen, giving it the buoyancy to push it up to the surface of the water.

    “We also propose that the beetle has attachment organs on its legs that are trapping more air bubbles,” he said, which allows it to move without breaking the surface tension of the water.

    In this way, the beetle is similar to water striders, which can travel across the top surface of water. “They also have hairlike projections along their legs that stop them from breaking surface tension,” Gould said.

    They hypothesise the behaviour might have evolved as a means to avoid predators at the bottom of bodies of water.

    Some water scavenger species do not have to ever leave their aquatic environments to breathe. “They’re actually able to remain under the water and they’re able to collect additional air [trapped underwater] using their antennae,” said Gould.

    The documented sighting was published in the journal Ethology.

    Video atl.

  2. says

    A.R. Moxon:

    Reminder that before 1/6/21 at the national Capitol was 4/30/20 in Michigan.

    This is a pattern, directly abetted by an anti-democracy authoritarian white supremacist Republican Party. They aren’t done trying. If Republicans aren’t stopped, they’ll eventually succeed.

    As a society, we desperately need to stop treating as extremist statements expressing the extremity of our danger.

    We need to start treating the actual extreme danger as extremist, and take proper action to counter it.

    We have a major party politically committed to downfall.

    Downfall of representative government. Downfall of democracy. Downfall of the public commons on every level: schooling, parks, public health, housing, safety, environment. Downfall of science. Of knowable fact.

    They’ll get downfall, if they’re allowed.

    They want a world where the only law is wealth and a firm hand, the only truth their tales of their own blamelessness. They’re perfectly happy to kill to get it. And they’re telling us so every day.

    It’s terrifying, but our refusal to accept it is perhaps even more terrifying.

    Let’s face it clearly: there are people dedicated to extending and exacerbating a deadly pandemic. There are people interested in capturing our government with mobs and guns to overturn elections and bring down government.

    And the Republican Party is firmly—firmly—on their side.

    Let’s face it clearly: there are people dedicated to packing our courts w/religious fundamentalists and libertarian extremists, in order to dismantle the legal framework undergirding our imperfect but vital multicultural democracy.

    The Republican Party is firmly on their side.

    Let’s face it clearly: 160 years ago insurrectionists fomented a bloody war against the US in order to preserve and expand chattel slavery, and there still exists a faction who sees that war as just, and still attempts to fight it.

    The Republican Party is firmly on their side.

    Let’s face it clearly: we are on the edge of climate catastrophe, and there are factions who would keep us on that course, either b/c they profit from the course, or they feel they would profit from catastrophic downfall of society.

    The Republican Party is firmly on their side.

    This is all observable, and it’s an incomplete list. It’s alarming, but it’s not alarmist. These are alarming truths. It’s appropriate to be alarmed.

    We have a major party politically dedicated to downfall. They’ll get it, if they’re permitted.

    They oughtn’t be permitted.

    In May of 2016, Noam Chomsky said:

    We should recognize—if we were honest, we would say something that sounds utterly shocking and no doubt will be taken out of context and lead to hysteria on the part of the usual suspects, but the fact of the matter is that today’s Republican Party qualify as candidates for the most dangerous organization in human history.

    Everything that’s happened since has provided more evidence in favor of this assessment.

  3. says

    Schumer to Dems: Be ready to work during scheduled summer break

    For the first time, Chuck Schumer has opened the door to keeping members on the Hill during the scheduled August break. That’s an encouraging step.

    Because of the 4th of July, Congress is out this week, but lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill next week with plenty of work to do. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to his members this morning, explaining not only what the governing majority intends to do, but also when the work might get done.

    It’s that latter point that was of particular interest.

    But first, in terms of legislative strategy, the New York Democrat sketched out a plan in which he and his members will continue to focus on infrastructure — including both the bipartisan plan President Biden helped negotiate, and a more ambitious package that would pass through the budget reconciliation process.

    Schumer’s letter then added:

    “Please be advised that time is of the essence and we have a lot of work to do. Senators should be prepared for the possibility of working long nights, weekends, and remaining in Washington into the previously-scheduled August state work period.”

    The warning to senators that they should be ready to work during the August break is a step the majority leader has not previously taken.

    […] the calendar is not on Democrats’ side. […] their last day of work before the summer break (a.k.a, the “August state work period”) is four weeks from today.

    Members aren’t scheduled to return until after Labor Day, on Sept. 13.

    […] When Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) recently raised the prospect of scrapping the Senate’s summer break in order to, among other things, finish work on infrastructure, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told a Capitol Hill reporter, “Tell Senator Markey to get a life.”

    Soon after, however, Markey wasn’t alone. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), for example, said he’s “in favor of working right through” the August recess, adding, “My view is we need to keep at it. I’ve been a strong proponent of really working to get the caucus fully focused on working as fast as possible.”

    Around the same time, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) added that he, too, is prepared to stick around in August in the hopes of getting things done. “We need to use every day we can possibly use this year,” the Oregon Democrat said.

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was less committal, though he added, “I’m running out of patience and the Senate is running out of time, so working for at least part of the August recess ought to be on the table.”

    […] the letter suggested part of the August break is on the line, not all of it.

    Regardless, the more Senate Dems realize they’re running out of calendar, the better.

  4. says

    Here’s a link to the July 9 Guardian (support them if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Budapest offers antibody tests to elderly amid fears Chinese jabs not adequate

    Hungary’s capital city is offering free antibody testing to its elderly residents in a bid to ratchet up pressure on the government over concerns that certain vaccines do not provide adequate protection against the coronavirus.

    The offer of 20,000 free tests, available for Budapest residents over 60, came after many fully vaccinated people reported that tests they had undergone at private laboratories indicated that they had not developed antibodies to defend against Covid-19, the Associated Press reports.

    Budapest deputy mayor Ambrus Kiss said those reports came primarily from people who received China’s Sinopharm vaccine, convincing city leaders that there was “a genuine problem.” He said the government should consider offering third doses to those with inadequate immune response.

    “If there is such a loss of confidence in certain vaccines, then the government needs to order a third dose and free up the capacities for giving them,” Kiss told the AP, adding that the tests are available to anyone over 60 regardless of which vaccine they received.

    “We think the the more tests we perform, the more societal pressure there is for a third dose.” The testing drive would continue next week, with initial results likely released next week and the full results expected by the end of the month.

    Hungary was an early vaccination leader in the EU, due largely to its procurement of jabs from eastern countries like Russia and China, on top of vaccines received through the bloc.

    It was the first country in the 27-member bloc to approve Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, and is the only one to deploy China’s Sinopharm. More than 5.1 million doses of the jab have been distributed to Hungary, of which it has administered more than 2 million, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

    Critics of the Sinopharm jab, including Budapest’s liberal mayor Gergely Karacsony, have cast doubt over its efficacy. Other countries like Bahrein and the United Arab Emirates have offered booster shots for some Sinopharm recipients amid efficacy concerns.

    Karacsony often spars with Hungary’s right-wing government and is considered a front-runner for replacing Prime Minister Viktor Orban in national elections next year.

    I have questions.

  5. says

    A few Michigan Republicans called for an investigation into those who peddled bogus election-fraud claims. Michigan’s Democratic AG is doing exactly that.

    In response to bizarre speculation from Donald Trump and others, a group of Michigan state legislators launched a lengthy, comprehensive review of the state’s 2020 elections, culminating in a report released a couple of weeks ago. The results were absolutely brutal.

    The Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee was unsparing, going point by point, systematically shredding one election conspiracy theory after another, exposing every right-wing claim as utterly bonkers.

    What’s more, as we discussed when the report first came out, the committee, after discrediting every crackpot idea about Michigan’s balloting, went a little further: the GOP-led panel also concluded that some of those who’ve pushed 2020 conspiracy theories should be scrutinized by prosecutors for perpetrating an alleged fraud.

    The Michigan Senate Oversight Committee’s report specifically called on state Attorney General Dana Nessel’s (D) office to consider investigating those “utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

    Evidently, the recommendation did not go unnoticed. The Detroit Free Press reported overnight:

    Michigan’s chief law enforcement officer, along with state police, will launch an investigation into those who have allegedly peddled disinformation about the state’s Nov. 3 election for their own financial gain…. After reviewing the oversight committee’s report, the attorney general’s office “accepted Sen. McBroom and the Committee’s request to investigate,” said Lynsey Mukomel, press secretary for Attorney General Dana Nessel. Nessel’s office will be assisted by Michigan State Police, Mukomel said.

    Note, at issue are not people who simply lied about Michigan’s election results. Rather, officials are taking an interest in those tried to profit from these lies.

    And who might those people be? […] the Free Press’ article referenced a variety of figures who’ve peddled false claims, held an “election integrity” fundraiser, and/or accepted financial contributions online.


    Expect more details to surface soon.

  6. says

    Why Toyota’s reversal on Republican financial support matters

    Toyota faced a backlash after its PAC sent checks to anti-election Republicans. Under intensifying pressure, the automaker caved.

    More than half the House Republican conference voted against certifying President Biden’s election victory in January, prompting many corporate PACs to curtail support for the anti-election lawmakers. There were, however, some notable exceptions.

    In fact, Toyota’s corporate PAC stood out as unique: Relying on data from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Axios reported last week that the automaker delivered more campaign contributions to more anti-election Republicans than any other.

    By way of a defense, a Toyota spokesperson said, “We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification.”

    In other words, “Sure these Republicans defied democracy without remorse, but is this really that bad? Is their willingness to overturn an American election so wrong that we should stop throwing money at them?”

    Toyota’s decision was not well received. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank devoted a brutal column to the issue, reflecting on the automaker’s indifference to constitutional democracy. After noting that he’ll no longer buy another Toyota vehicle, Milbank added, “Toyota likes to say its cars are ‘made in America’ — while its actions are unmaking America.”

    Soon after, the Lincoln Project announced the launch of a new ad campaign, starting with this minute-long commercial, which was set to air on national cable networks. A press statement on the ad campaign added, “We will also digitally blanket the top 20 Toyota dealerships in the country.”

    Yesterday, 10 days after the public learned about the company’s PAC contributions, the automaker caved.

    Japanese automaker Toyota announced Thursday it will stop contributing to Republican members of Congress who on Jan. 6 voted against certifying the 2020 election results after a PAC said it would begin running ads criticizing companies for such donations. Toyota’s decision to donate to those lawmakers after Jan. 6 “troubled some stakeholders,” and for that reason “we have decided to stop contributing to those Members of Congress,” the company said in a statement.

    The reference to “those” members suggests Toyota still intends to use its corporate PAC to support congressional lawmakers, but the 147 Republicans who rejected the election results will no longer be among the beneficiaries.

    To be sure, it’s worth emphasizing that some business giants “paused” their support for anti-election Republicans in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, only to recently start opening their corporate wallets again months later. With this in mind, it’s possible that Toyota will try to reverse course at some point in the coming months, but if so, the company should expect fierce blowback if it tries to reverse its reversal.

    […] All of this is notable in part because of the message it sends to other businesses: the insurrectionist riot has not been forgotten, and members of Congress who endorsed the rioters’ goal have earned pariah status. Corporations need to realize that their contributions are receiving greater scrutiny, and those that choose to support these anti-election Republicans financially will face public pressure.

    But yesterday’s news was also notable because it offers fresh evidence of an important truth: sometimes, activism works.

  7. says

    Boosters and Delta Vaccines

    […] Pfizer announced that it plans to seek regulatory approval in August for a COVID vaccine booster shot. A very preliminary trial (a couple dozen people) provided such clear evidence of increased efficacy from a booster shot that the company said it’s highly confident of what a more extensive trial will show. Specifically the announcement reported “high neutralization titers against the wild type and the Beta variant, which are 5 to 10 times higher than after two primary doses.”

    To be clear, this is not a new vaccine. This is approval to administer third doses of the same Pfizer mRNA vaccine many of us have already received two doses of. But in addition to that announcement the company also announced that they have developed a new version of the vaccine specifically targeting the Delta variant. They have already manufactured the first batch of this new version and plan to begin testing it in next month.

    […] Basically in an mRNA vaccine scientists write what amounts to genetic code to mimic a part of the target virus – in the case of the COVID vaccine the so-called ‘spike protein’. They then put this code into a vaccine vehicle that gets injected into your arm. If the target virus evolves and changes what it looks like to your immune system it’s just a matter of rewriting that bit of genetic code, slipping it into the same vaccine vehicle and you’re good to go. The amount of testing required – as much a regulatory as a clinical issue – is dramatically reduced. In other words, given adequate production capacity it should be possible to produce new vaccine versions on a pretty fast clip to keep up with whatever new variants come up.

    At the end of the PFizer statement they conclude: “Based on the totality of the data they have to date, Pfizer and BioNTech believe that a third dose may be beneficial to maintain the highest levels of protection.” But overnight the FDA and CDC said that they don’t think boosters are necessary just yet. In a joint statement the two agencies said: “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”

    This ambivalence is mirrored in Israel where public health authorities are considering but have not yet signed off on third doses to increase population immunity.

    Reading between the lines I get the sense that the CDC and FDA see boosters, for the moment, as a solution in search of a problem when the overwhelming threat to public health remains the fact that half the population in the US still hasn’t gotten any vaccine. […]

  8. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Johannesburg mayor dies from complications after Covid

    The mayor of Johannesburg has became the latest fatality of a third Covid wave in South Africa after dying from complications at the age of 53.

    Mayor Geoff Makhubo who fell ill with Covid last month, was diagnosed before the country opened up vaccination to people aged under 60.

    The loss is “a stark reminder of the threat posed by this deadly pandemic, against which we are all extremely vulnerable,” said president Cyril Ramaphosa.

    From 1 July, people aged 50-59 were asked to start registering for their shots, which were scheduled to start being administered from 15 July. But many showed up at vaccination centres just after they had registered and were immunised.

    Cuba grants emergency approval to domestically produced jab amid rollout

    Cuba’s drug regulator has announced it has granted emergency approval of the Abdala Covid-19 vaccine, which is already being deployed on the Caribbean island nation amid a surge in infections.

    Approval by the Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices should help with the selling and licensing abroad of Abdala, which Cuba says has a 92% efficacy against Covid, Reuters reports.

    A second locally produced Covid-19 vaccine, Soberana 2, is expected to be approved in the next few weeks, authorities said, after it proved 91% effective in late stage clinical trials.

    While the Cuban efficacy claims have not been peer-reviewed, they would if accurate catapult the US-boycotted Caribbean island nation into the select group of the US, Germany and Russia that produce vaccines with efficacy of more than 90% – Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sputnik V.

    Cuba’s biotech sector has a long history of vaccine development, producing 80% of vaccines used in the country and exporting some of them. Communist-run Cuba is the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to successfully develop a coronavirus vaccine.

    The import-dependent island is in the throes of an economic crisis with activity falling 10.9% last year and 2% the first half of 2021 as the pandemic kept the tourism industry shuttered and deep Trump-era sanctions on top of the decades old trade embargo hammered finance and trade.

    Abdala and Soberana 2 have also been submitted for potential approval by the World Health Organization. Iran, Argentina, and Vietnam have said they are interested in producing the Cuban vaccines, while Jamaica and Mexico are among the countries that have expressed an interest in purchasing them, according to Reuters.

    Both vaccines use a traditional approach deploying a part of the virus’s spike protein which helps the virus enter and infect cells, to build up the immune system. These vaccines are generally less expensive to develop and easier to store and transport as they do not require extremely low temperatures.

    Cuba is facing its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic following the arrival of more contagious variants, setting new records for daily coronavirus cases at over 6,000 this week.

    About 1.5 million of the country’s 11.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated to date. Cuba reported a total of 218,376 Covid-19 cases and 1,431 deaths yesterday.

  9. says

    President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that his administration would “take any necessary action” to defend the American people and critical U.S. infrastructure in the wake of a massive ransomware attack by Russian cybercriminals.

    In a morning phone call, Biden spoke with Putin “about the ongoing ransomware attacks by criminals based in Russia that have impacted the United States and other countries around the world,” according to a readout provided by the White House.

    Biden also “underscored the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and emphasized that he is committed to continued engagement on the broader threat posed by ransomware,” the White House said.

    The conversation between the foreign counterparts comes as Biden has faced escalating calls this week to retaliate against Russia for the expansive cyberattacks, which most recently targeted IT management software maker Kaseya.

    That hack, disclosed last Friday and suspected to have been perpetrated by the REvil ransomware gang, may have affected as many as 1,500 companies — including a technology vendor that provides services to the Republican National Committee. Other recent high-profile cyberattacks include the digital strikes on Colonial Pipeline and the meatpacking giant JBS in May. […]


  10. says

    On Thursday, rightwing artiste Ben Garrison proudly released his latest cartoon — featuring a brave and triumphant Donald Trump as Don Quixote chasing a frightened windmill of social media sites. While he had hoped it would inspire the masses to get behind Trump and his ridiculous class action lawsuit against these companies he claims “censored” him and other conservatives, it instead inspired them to point out that he had completely misunderstood the point of Don Quixote.

    The point as you likely know, whether you have read the book or not, was that Don Quixote was heroically fighting windmills he thought were dragons — which, because they were windmills and not dragons, were therefore no actual danger to him or anybody. (Little did Miguel de Cervantes know about the windmill cancer.) This somewhat undermined the point that Garrison was trying to make.

    Because Garrison has more than a bit in common with the man of La Mancha, he did not back down. Rather, he followed that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far … and stood by his cartoon. He explained that in his artistic interpretation, “the windmill enemy is not imagined — it is real” and it is running away from big, tough, not-at-all delusional Donald Trump.

    […] And yet, Garrison continued to double down on Twitter, explaining that it was everyone else who was stupid for not understanding his artistic genius and use of metaphor.

    Ok I need to talk slowly so the leftist twits can understand.

    1. Yes, I realize that the Don Quixote character from Cervantes’ novel attacked imaginary enemies as represented by the windmill, but Donald Trump Quixote’s enemies are not imagined. I read the book, did you?

    2. This is a twist on a classic metaphor. Did anyone even LOOK at the cartoon the “windmill” is running away and knows he has been caught. Trump is charging forward in defense of everyone’s free speech including Democrats.

    3.The Marxist mainstream media may condemn Trump’s lawsuit as desperation and folly, but it’s happening and a major lawsuit against the social media leviathans is long overdue.Right now censorship is happening to conservatives but it can/will happen to everyone if not checked.

    5. And if you’re here just to troll and get your derps in, that’s your choice. But don’t be shocked if I go all James Woods on you. Have a wonder America First Day!

    It’s hard to figure which is more of a serious threat — windmills or Ben Garrison “go[ing] all James Woods on you,” whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. I hope it doesn’t mean he will take all our teenaged daughters to Vegas!

    The fact is, Trump’s enemies are entirely imagined. Twitter and Facebook are private companies and therefore they are allowed to determine who can use their services, so long as they don’t discriminate against people for being a protected class. Conservatives are not being censored for being conservatives, they are being kicked off a service for spreading fucked up conspiracy theories, threatening people, and saying racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise bigoted bullshit. If we did that, we’d get kicked off as well. […]

    I for one, am interested in seeing more of Garrison’s interpretations of classic literature — in which Scrooge is the poor put-upon hero of the story, in which the people of Boston were absolutely justified in requiring Hester Prynne to wear that scarlet letter, in which Winston Smith was rude and unpatriotic for refusing to say that 2+2=5, in which Javert is a righteous officer just trying to enforce law and order and Jean Val Jean deserved everything he got for having broken the rules to begin with.

    The possibilities are endless, as long as you’re willing to make shit up.

    Wonkette link

    Photos and video available at the link.

  11. says

    […] Remember back in April when the New York Times ran a series of stories about the Trump campaign grifting cash […] using pre-checked boxes to trick them into recurring and double donations? […] Apparently the attorneys general from New York, Maryland, Minnesota, and Connecticut read those stories, too […] and decided to do something about it.

    On April 29, these state law enforcement officers sent letters to WinRed and ActBlue, the dominant fundraising platforms for Republicans and Democrats respectively, demanding to know all kinds of interesting details about their business and fundraising models. At which point, WinRed flipped its shit, because it has seen what New York AG Tish James did to the NRA, and it ain’t pretty.

    As a reminder, the Trump campaign was spamming its donors with emails that featured pre-checked boxes opting them in to recurring donations that wildly exceeded both their intentions and federal campaign finance limits. [Image available at the link]

    Burying it under a mountain of incendiary verbiage is a nice touch.

    And while ActBlue has, in the past, allowed candidates to use pre-checked boxes, there’s a reason that the Trump campaign had to return 10.7 percent of the money it raised in 2020, compared to just 2.2 percent for the Biden campaign. And that reason is that Trump was running out of money for ads in the final months of the campaign, so he ramped up the fundraising grift to 11, effectively forcing his donors to lend him $120 million in excessive campaign contributions which could be repaid after the election.

    BTW, while ActBlue is a non-profit, WinRed, which Prince Jared forced on the GOP, is a cash money business.

    On June 1, WinRed’s lawyers sent the AGs a snotty note claiming that the FEC is the only body that can regulate a campaign PAC and claiming that the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) preempts state regulation of federally registered fundraising committees.

    “There has been no allegation that WinRed has failed to satisfy any of its obligations to the FEC under FECA or related regulations—and even if it had, state governments are not the law enforcement entities tasked with investigating such violations,” they write. “In fact, federal law has explicitly provided that the Federal Election Commission is the venue for any civil disputes concerning the application of FECA or areas of law in which FECA occupies the field.”

    Which is cool and all, but no one is talking about whether this grift violated federal election law — the issue is whether it violated state consumer protection laws, as the AGs reminded WinRed in a June 17 letter.

    Our state consumer protection laws are not preempted by the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”). The FECA and implementing regulations promulgated by the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) address issues such as the organization of federal political committees, disclosures by federal candidates and committees, and limitations on contributions and expenditures in a federal election. They do not address the states’ ability to protect our residents from the deceptive and fraudulent practices under investigation. Therefore, your assertions about federal preemption are incorrect and provide no basis for WinRed’s refusal to respond to our inquiry.

    At which point, WinRed sent the AGs a link to their publicly available FEC disclosures, and marched into federal court in Minnesota with a lawsuit against the state AGs, demanding an injunctive order from the court saying that states are powerless to prosecute campaign finance fraud in their own states under the FECA. They also claim that state attorneys general have no jurisdiction to prosecute a Delaware company which defrauds citizens in New York, Maryland, Minnesota, and Connecticut — which is a nice touch.

    It also put out this batshit statement howling about being politically persecuted.

    “Four Democrat Attorneys General are exploiting their positions of power for partisan gain and targeting WinRed for fundraising tactics that Democrats themselves pioneered and still use to this day. While pursuing these actions, these Democrat AGs are actively fundraising on ActBlue,” the company wrote, seemingly oblivious of the fact that ActBlue got the same letter.

    […] Just so we’re all clear here: The GOP has unleashed a wave of deceptive fundraising emails that resulted in hundreds of their own donors angrily demanding refunds after they were tricked into making unwanted donations, many of which far exceeded the $2,750 FEC limit. They’re now claiming that only the FEC has the right to investigate, much less prosecute, fraud perpetrated on citizens within a state by a political campaign or committee. And they want the federal court in Minnesota to rescue them so that they never have to ‘splain to big, scary Tish James whether it was their plan all along to generate a hundred million dollars in excess donations and pay it back after the election.

    Well … good luck with that one. And we note that these creative legal theorists rushed into the courthouse before bothering to obtain local counsel, getting dinged by the court for it before the case even gets started. Auspicious beginning!


  12. says

    Biden to join push for congressional action on voting rights

    There’s a growing chorus pushing Congress to address voting rights. President Biden is poised to join the chorus in dramatic fashion.

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s center-left minority wants Congress to tackle voting rights. The U.S. Justice Department has explicitly urged Congress to tackle voting rights. Democratic state legislators are pleading with federal lawmakers to protect voting rights.

    And now President Joe Biden is stepping up in earnest, adding his voice to the campaign.

    President Joe Biden will deliver remarks in Philadelphia on Tuesday about his administration’s actions “to protect the sacred constitutional right to vote,” a source familiar with the matter tells NBC News. The White House has been under pressure from progressive and civil rights activists to make stronger use of the presidential bully pulpit as Republicans at the state and local level have been pushing new restrictive voting laws in the name of fraud prevention.

    In fairness to Biden, it’d be an overstatement to say the Democratic president has been ignoring the issue. It was just last month when he was in Tulsa, when he explained that the “sacred right [to vote] is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen.”

    But it’s also true that the White House and congressional Democratic leaders have also been principally focused on infrastructure negotiations, in large part because those efforts stand a better chance — not a lock by any means, but a better chance — of producing a successful package that might reach the Oval Office.

    […] Given the severity of the crisis facing our democracy, the president and his allies have to do more.

    […] Biden met at the White House yesterday with representatives of several leading civil rights organizations, who received fresh assurances that Biden is prepared to invest time and energy into the issue. Less than a day later, the White House announced plans for the presidential address in Philadelphia.

    The news comes on the heels of Vice President Kamala Harris’s announcement of a new $25 million investment by the Democratic National Committee to support voting-rights protections, and the Justice Department’s decision to file suit challenging Georgia Republicans’ voter-suppression law.

    But as important as these developments are, a fundamental question hangs overhead: will the Senate be able to legislate on the issue or not?

    […] it was just two weeks ago when the Senate tried to move forward with a debate on a revised version of the For the People Act, but the Republican minority used a filibuster to derail the discussion. All 50 members of the Senate Democratic conference were united on this — no small feat, to be sure — but GOP senators wouldn’t allow a debate, a vote, or a voting rights breakthrough.

    […] The next couple of months will be critical, and though none of this will be easy, the door isn’t completely closed. As the Associated Press recently reported, “Discussions are ongoing among congressional Democrats on how to proceed, with leaders noting privately that both [Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin] oppose eliminating the [Senate’s filibuster] rule — but that doesn’t mean they would oppose changing it. And President Joe Biden has signaled a willingness to consider a change.”

    The AP article added that Democratic leaders probably won’t even try to eliminate the filibuster altogether, but they believe there’s “an opportunity to improve the process” through some procedural changes.

    […] the future of American voting rights will hinge on a decision from 50 individual senators and a president who’s poised to push those senators to do the right thing.

  13. says

    The Value In Electing Women (VIEW) PAC was founded to help elect more Republican women to Congress. However, the political action committee has decided not to support Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), likening them to “carnival barkers.” LOL

  14. says

    Trump Org. CFO Weisselberg Terminated From Leadership Role At Trump Golf Resort

    Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who was indicted for tax crimes along with the Trump Organization itself last week, has been terminated as a director of one of ex-President Donald Trump’s golf clubs.

    A filing by Companies House, the U.K.’s business registrar, shows that Weisselberg was terminated from his spot at Trump International Golf Club Scotland on Wednesday.

    He is also no longer a “person with significant control” of the resort, according to a separate filing.

    Weisselberg’s termination came less than a week after a Manhattan grand jury handed him and the Trump Organization a criminal indictment for an alleged tax evasion scheme in which the executive would receive untaxed perks, including leases on Mercedes Benz cars and rent at a luxury building in New York. […]

  15. says

    Follow-up to comment 16.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    His removal comes as Scottish lawmakers and Avaaz, a global do-gooder organization, are pushing for an “unexplained wealth” inquiry into how Trump got the money to buy and refurbish both of his money-losing Scottish golf courses.

    A 2018 British law lets investigators examine company and personal financial records to determine sources of money and riches that they deem suspicious. It’s been called the McMafia law. […]

    There are only two ways Weisselberg could be removed as a director of the Trump International Golf Club Scotland, Ltd. Weisselberg could have done so on his own. In that case, his lawyers may have advised him to do so for reasons not yet clear.

    The other way would have been on orders from Donald Trump and executed through his sons Don Jr. and Eric, who remain as the only directors. That, too, may indicate a criminal defense strategic move. Since Weisselberg remains on the Trump Organization payroll it almost certainly does not suggest a split between the interests of Weisselberg and his boss.

    The move suggests that Trump may be trying to make sure only he and his family members exercise any legal control over the Trump Organization.
    I am pretty sure he never worked there, but he very likely got paid there.
    Trump-managed properties need to have an independent audit of their books for payments to suspicious consultants and vendors providing opaque services.
    Someone had the power to remove Weisselberg. That seems important for the idea of him protetecting the Trumps and vice versa. This is an interesting question for me.

  16. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #17:

    His removal comes as Scottish lawmakers and Avaaz, a global do-gooder organization, are pushing for an “unexplained wealth” inquiry into how Trump got the money to buy and refurbish both of his money-losing Scottish golf courses.

    Here’s background from Vanity Fair.

    It’s very frustrating to me that none of this ever really seems to come to fruition or have real consequences. The 2016 payoff scheme with Cohen. Mueller’s finding of multiple instances of obstruction. The investigation into his inauguration. The investigation into his attempted election fraud in Georgia (which he also pulled in Arizona and several other states). The incitement to insurrection. The NY investigation into his business. The investigation into Giuliani. The civil defamation charges from his rape victims. Doe v. The Trump Corporation. The funneling of millions of dollars of public funds to his private businesses. The crimes committed by Bill Barr. The massive abuses of power. The bribe-taking and extortion. The criminal sabotage of the COVID response, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths….

  17. says

    Twitter Finally Bans Nick Fuentes

    For years, extremism experts have wondered why Nick Fuentes, a white-nationalist media figure, has been able to maintain a verified Twitter account. Even through denying the Holocaust, attending the 2017 violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, and frequently espousing overt racism, he kept his privileged access to the platform.

    That didn’t change when, the day before the January 6 insurrection, he floated the idea of killing state legislators who voted to certify election results. In fact, on January 5, when asked about those comments, the company admitted they didn’t see a reason to act, telling the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s Hannah Gais and Michael Edison Hayden that at “this point, our enforcement team has not seen enough violative content from @NickJFuentes on Twitter to ban him.” That apparently remained the case for six months after he attended the next day’s riots and egged on right-wing protestors—including his followers—as they stormed the building.

    But on Friday, long after a bevy of other platforms—among them YouTube, PayPal, and TikTok—had booted him, Twitter finally stripped his access for unclear reasons. […] “permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules.” He declined to share more information.

    Just before his Twitter ban, Fuentes spent Friday morning tweeting about his plans to crash a Conservative Political Action Conference event this weekend in Texas, boasting to his followers that “most likely, I’ll be getting physically removed from CPAC in Dallas on Saturday.” While some conservative voices and organizations like CPAC have distanced themselves from Fuentes over his history of pro-white power and racist statements, he’s been embraced by other prominent figures on the right, including Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar.

  18. says

    Taliban targeting Afghan pilots for assassination as US withdraws

    The Taliban said that it has launched an effort to track down and assassinate Afghan Air Force pilots in what U.S. and Afghan officials believe is an attempt to dismantle the country’s military amid the Biden administration’s ongoing withdrawal of U.S. troops.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters Friday that its campaign was meant to make sure that Afghan Air Force pilots are “targeted and eliminated because all of them do bombardment against their people.”

    The group confirmed that among those targeted and killed was Afghan Air Force Major Dastagir Zamaray, who was fatally shot in front of his 14-year-old son as the two visited a realtor’s office about selling their home to move to a safer area within the Afghan capital of Kabul, according to Reuters. […]

  19. says

    Biden administration cancels $55.6M in student loan debt for fraud victims

    The Biden administration is cancelling $55.6 million in student loan debt for victims who were defrauded by three for-profit institutions.

    The Education Department said in a Friday statement that it has canceled the debts of 1,800 borrowers who attended Westwood College, Marinello Schools of Beauty and the Court Reporting Institute.

    Of the forgiven debt, the lion’s share — some $53 million — will go to borrowers who attended Westwood College, which closed down in 2015.

    […] Separately, the department approved more than $2.2 million from 200 claimants who say they were defrauded at Marinello. Borrowers claimed that the school didn’t teach them key elements of a cosmetology program, and that students were left for weeks or months without instructors.

    Another $340,000 in debt was forgiven to 18 borrowers who attended Court Reporting Institute. The agency says the majority of students were never able to complete the program, noting that just 2 percent to 6 percent of students graduated.

    The debt is being forgiven under the Education Department’s borrowers defense program, which allows those who have been defrauded by institutions to have their debts expunged.

    The Biden administration had already canceled $1.5 billion in debt for nearly 92,000 borrowers who claim they were defrauded by ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian College. […]

  20. says

    The death toll in the Florida condo collapse is now 78. This is the 16th day of searching for the remains of the victims.

  21. says

    US stops jailing pregnant migrants, reversing Trump policy

    U.S. immigration authorities will no longer routinely jail migrants facing deportation if they are pregnant or recently gave birth, reversing a Trump-era immigration policy.

    The new directive, announced Friday, does not bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement from initiating proceedings to deport women who are pregnant, nursing or have given birth within the past year. But they generally would no longer be detained pending the outcome of their cases except under “exceptional circumstances,” the agency said.

    The practice of detaining pregnant migrants has been condemned as a threat to maternal and fetal health by immigrant and women’s advocacy groups critical of medical care at detention centers.

    “This reflects our commitment to treat all individuals with respect and dignity while still enforcing our nation’s laws,” acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said. […]

  22. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Capitol Rioter Who Pleaded Guilty Asks Court Not To ‘Cancel’ Him With Prison Time

    Judge, don’t cancel me!

    That was the essence of the 31-page sentencing memorandum from Capitol rioter Paul Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa, who pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding last month and likely faces one or two years in prison.

    “We now live in a county that seeks to cancel one another,” Hodgkins’ attorney Patrick N. Leduc wrote in the memo. “It is the end state and the result of becoming a post-Christian society.”

    Hodgkins was one in a group of rioters who briefly occupied the Senate chamber during the attack, taking with him a “Trump 2020” flag and mean-mugging for a quick insurrection selfie.

    But Leduc, making appeals to the court’s mercy and pursuing sweeping detours into American history, painted his client as nothing less than the ideal citizen.

    “This case is the story of a man who represents all that we would want in our fellow Americans,” Leduc said near the beginning of the sentencing memo. “Law-abiding, hardworking, honest, caring, kind, thoughtful, generous, and the kind of person you would love to have for a neighbor. It is the story of man who for just one hour on one day, lost his bearings and his way.”

    So it went: Hodgkins had a momentary lapse of judgement, Leduc argued, and the court’s treatment of him would send a message to the rest of the nation.

    “Paul is an avatar of us all, and how this Court deals with his misconduct will say much about where we are and what we will become as a nation,” the memo argued, adding later, “the prize that the Mr. Hodgkins received for being in the Capitol is unwanted notoriety, and the scarlet letter that many of his fellow citizens will compel him to wear, without an ounce of knowledge or understanding of the man he now is.” (A footnote in the memo helpfully noted that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter “explores guilt, revenge, and redemption in colonial America.”)

    The tension between “grace and vengeance,” Leduc added, is a throughline in American history, and is now represented in the effort to “cancel” his client.

    “This push and pull has manifested itself into the present cancel culture that permeates our society,” the memo read. “A significant percentage of our population will ‘cancel’ Mr. Hodgkins because of 15-minutes of bad judgment, casting stones in his directions, all the while never fully realizing their own indiscretions and hypocrisy.”

    What hypocrisy could millions of Americans be ignoring in their anger at his client, the Capitol rioter? Leduc didn’t really explain, but instead continued on about the scarlet letter that will supposedly tag his client for life.

    Yet another footnote commented on the historical resonance between public humiliation in colonial America and “perp walks” and newspaper-printed mug shots in modern times: “In the internet age, grace is a foreign concept.”

    The filing argued against any confinement for the defendant, stating that had he not stepped into the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 he may be facing a misdemeanor rather than a felony charge. Any prison time, it said, would turn a productive member of society into a homeless ward of the state. Leduc attached a picture of an at-peace Hodgkins after an Easter service, saying it showed “the look of a man who has found the freedom that one receives when one experiences heavenly grace.”

    “While seemingly ironic, from an eternal view of this earthly life, the events of January 6th, 2021, for Paul Hodgkins, have worked together for Paul’s good,” he wrote.

    Leduc concluded with an extended comparison to the Civil War, noting Lincoln’s desire for a “lenient” policy toward the post-war South and asserting, “This Court stands in the shadows of Lincoln and Grant.”

    “Many on one side of the spectrum seek vengeance and the malice with which that would bring, and a deepening division of the nation as a result,” the memo concluded.

    “However, a sentence that provides Paul Hodgkins ‘charity’ would go a very long way toward healing a nation in dire need of seeing what undeserved ‘grace’ looks like. Paul Hodgkins should not be cancelled. A merciful and charitable sentence would be one that Lincoln and Grant would approve.”

  23. says

    Follow-up to comment 26.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    A momentary lapse of judgement that somehow transported him from Tampa, FL, to DC, then had him walking more than a mile from the white house to the capitol, and ignoring cops’ orders to stay out.
    hhhhmmmm…I seem to remember that the historical Christianity that Lawyer Leduc misses is full of state-sponsored consequences for sinning that include banishment, torture, prison or execution. Why is this lawyer so stupid?? Is it because his client is stupid for having become Trump’s Sucker, something that took far longer than one hour of indiscretion?
    He tried to cancel the election and, by extension, tried to cancel democracy in the US.

    Two years in prison is a mighty small price to pay. And his sentencing will be a message to the country – don’t try to overthrow the government just because your guy lost fair and square.
    Poor judge. He is supposed to read 31 pages of this tripe? [That’s what I thought. I felt sorry for the judge.]
    This type of BS pisses judges off. How stupid is this asshole’s attorney? Apparently just as stupid as his client.
    A “Post Christian society”? O I wish. God do I wish.
    He had me at post-Christian.

  24. says

    At no point do we stop working,’ farmworkers say amid historic heat wave

    Farmworkers and their advocates during a press call Thursday continued to shine a light on the ongoing need to pass both workplace protections and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, citing a historic—and deadly—heat wave. […] farmworkers who have been “picking cherries and blueberries in temperatures over 100 degrees included children as young as 12 and adults in their 70s, with some employers not even supplying water, let alone shade.”

    […] “some coverage of agriculture in the heat wave talked entirely about the danger to crops and never even mentioned workers.” Farmworkers said during the press call this week they’re always there, whether mentioned or not. “At no point do we stop working,” said Alejandra, a farmworker in Texas, where the heat there is yet again straining the state’s energy grid. “Under the hot sun, in the rain. We don’t have another option but to work to survive. And the bosses keep us working so the harvest isn’t lost.”

    ”Amidst record-breaking temperatures, the importance of access to fresh water, shade, training and breaks become a matter of life and death,” […] “Unfortunately, no federal heat standards exist, leaving thousands of farm workers vulnerable to heat illness and death.” While Democratic lawmakers have introduced a national heat regulation bill to protect farmworkers, union leaders from the press call have also been calling on state leadership to implement emergency measures for farmworkers and other outdoor laborers.

    “Last week, amidst record heat across the Pacific Northwest, the UFW and UFW Foundation began organizing the distribution of drinks and information on avoiding heat stroke to farm workers in the Yakima Valley,” […] “But that is not enough. Congress must pass federal heat standards as well as a path to citizenship.”

    Per a recent text message survey of farmworkers by the UFW Foundation, more than 40% of respondents said they’d experienced a heat-related symptom while working. 18% said they were given only one break, while 5% said they were given no breaks at all. And for too many, the ability to report these workplace abuses is directly hindered by immigration status. “Many farm workers are undocumented immigrants are reluctant to come forward to report violations for fear of deportation and family separation and/or loss of their job,” UFW Foundation said.

    […]. The state’s Department of Health [in Washington] said Thursday that nearly 80 people there have died as a result of the heat wave. […]

    This video of the nocturnal cherry harvest in heat-scorched Wenatchee WA is otherworldly. Look at all the headlamps in the distance. The scale of it!

  25. blf says

    I presume it’s because nightclubs are allowed to reopen tonight, the nearest pub is having a live concert tonight (it’s first since last summer?). Unfortunately, it’s the “usual” — a French covers band — and whilst I’m happy they’ve got a gig, does it really have to be a long string of (mostly English language) rock covers?

    So far they haven’t done Sunday Bloody Sunday, which is always (or so it seems) misinterpreted by French cover bands and audiences — not as sectarian (a mistake others make), but as just a catchy refrain yelled out out-of-tune by drunks.

    I’ve no idea what Covid-19 precautions they’ve taken, and am not inclined to go look. The bar and bar’s owner has been rather responsibility dealing with the pandemic, so I presume they are at least trying

    (Oh feck, they just started playing it — and the drunks are already yelling…)

  26. blf says

    I haven’t seen any of these posters live yet, but my region, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, is getting a lot of kudos for an imaginative vaccination advertising drive, « 💉 Oui, le vaccin peut avoir des effets désirables ». The Grauniad’s article, French posters of kissing couples promote ‘desirable’ side of Covid jab:

    A romantically suggestive French advertising campaign to persuade young people to have the Covid-19 vaccine has pointed out the “desirable” effects of getting jabbed.

    The posters, produced by health authorities in the south of France, aim to show how getting inoculated can considerably improve people’s social lives, countering public concerns over “undesirable” or adverse side-effects of coronavirus vaccines.

    Making full use of French stereotypes, one poster shows a couple kissing in the back of a vehicle, while others in the six-poster series include young people at a concert, a family going to the beach and a couple embracing at a train station.

    Beneath the slogan: “Yes, the vaccine can have desirable effects” the message adds: “With each vaccination, life starts again.”


    In not-so-good news — and underlining the need to vaccinate — the bad numbers are now heading in the wrong direction (both in my area, and nationally). R > 1, about 4600 new cases per day (the goal has been to keep that value below 5000, and was as low as 2000 two weeks ago), Delta is now the most common form, etc., and ICU occupancy, whilst still low, is starting to increase. President Macron will make an address on Monday, speculation is he’ll be announcing new measures, possibly including mandatory vaccination of front-line health workers.

  27. says

    New Fever Dreams – “The Fascist ‘Diaries’ feat. Kathleen Belew”:

    In 1978, an American neo-Nazi published The Turner Diaries, an infamous race-war novel that went on to inspire so many far-right and violent extremists in the subsequent decades. So it wasn’t a huge shock when anti-democratic rioters showed up at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, casually recommending that people read the atrociously racist book. “Please don’t go buy this book. The money can still go back to white power groups, if you do,” Kathleen Belew, a University of Chicago assistant professor of history, told hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng on this week’s episode of the Fever Dreams podcast.

    Very useful interview.

  28. blf says

    Follow-up to my comments at the end of @34, French scientists warn 95 percent may need to be vaccinated to stop Delta variant:

    A panel of scientists who advise the French government on health warned Friday that as many as 95 percent of people might need to be vaccinated to dam the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.


    So far only around half of French people have received a first dose and 40 percent two shots, with the government aiming to get two-thirds — 35 million — fully protected by the end of August.


    Other scientific advice included reducing the number of people allowed to attend events, localised restrictions and reducing the time between the first and second doses of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna from six to three or four weeks.

    I’m a bit confused by that last bit… the time was reduced the same day I got my first jab. So I took advantage, and rescheduled my second jab from five weeks later to just three weeks later (to the day!), which was earlier this week. I‘m now fully-vaccinated (Pfizer/BioNTech), in the sense of having been shot twice, albeit I am aware I need to wait about two weeks for the microchips to fully magnitise me.

  29. blf says

    A follow-up to nightclubs here in France being allowed to reopen tonight (see @32 rant), Only 25% of France’s nightclubs expected to reopen as owners judge health passport rules too strict (possibly paywalled):

    Three quarters of nightclubs will not open before September, Ivan Poupardin, president of the French Association of Nightclub Owners told the Journal du dimanche earlier this month.

    Although bars and cafés have reopened periodically over the last 18 months, nightclubs have been closed since the pandemic first hit in March 2020.


    We don’t want the health pass, it’s much too restrictive. It’s as if you were running ski lifts in June without skiers! Morgan Dalle, who manages a nightclub in the northern city of Béthune, told La Voix du Nord.

    The French “health pass” is part of the trace-and-trace app, and can be used to prove one’s vaccination status or recent negative test. It shows a QR code, which I think the venue is supposed to scan. (You can also present a paper version.) On the app-side, it’s trivial, and as most nightclubs have door staff, the scanning shouldn’t be too much of a problem (Ok, the venue would need the equipment, albeit a QR scan app on the staff’s mobile might be Ok?). So perhaps a tiny hassle, but too restrictive? Um… that’s kind-of the point, to keep out plague rats (and encourage them to get vaccinated!). Geesh!

    Dalle, who also runs national collective of café, hotel, restaurant and nightclub owners, said he expected 30 percent of France’s clubs to be either closed or in administration by 2022.

    [… W]ith currently only 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds in France fully vaccinated, club owners say they do not expect enough customers to return to make it worth their while opening.

    I can kind-of see that point. But wouldn’t it be better to encourage that demographic to get vaccinated? See, e.g., @34, which would seem to tie neatly into nightclubs. Other than moaning, just what are the nightclubs doing so they can reopen safely?

    Culture minister Roselyn Bachelot has said it will be possible for nightclubs and concert venues to provide antigen tests at the entrance for those who do not already have a health passport.


    France has around 1,600 nightclubs which employ 30,000 people.

  30. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s (please support the Grauniad if you can!) current live States politics blog (quoted essentially in full):

    Joe Biden has fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, the Washington Post reported. Advocates for the elderly and the disabled had urged Biden to remove him due to his policies restricting benefits:

    Saul was fired after refusing a request to resign, White House officials said. His deputy, David Black, who was also appointed by former president[Wacko House squatter] Donald Trump, resigned Friday upon request.

    Biden named Kilolo Kijakazi, the current deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy, to serve as acting commissioner until a permanent nominee is selected.

    But Saul said in an interview Friday afternoon that he would not leave his post, challenging the legality of the White House move to oust him. As the head of an independent agency whose leadership does not normally change with a new administration, Saul’s six-year term was supposed to last until January 2025. The White House said a recent Supreme Court ruling gives the president power to replace him.

    Saul disputed that. I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security, he said, adding that he plans to be back at work on Monday morning, signing in remotely from his New York home. He called his ouster a Friday Night Massacre.

    This was the first I or my deputy knew this was coming, Saul said of the email he received from the White House Personnel Office Friday morning. It was a bolt of lightning no one expected. And right now it’s left the agency in complete turmoil.

    Saul’s firing came after a tumultuous six-month tenure in the Biden administration during which advocates for the elderly and the disabled and Democrats on Capitol Hill pressured the White House to dismiss him. He had clashed with labor unions that represent his 60,000 employees, who said he used union-busting tactics. Angry advocates say he dawdled while millions of disabled Americans waited for him to turn over files to the Internal Revenue Service to release their stimulus checks — and accused him of an overzealous campaign to make disabled people reestablish their eligibility for benefits.

    Ah, another of the bestingerest wannabe-daleks. Bye!

  31. says

    New Straight White American Jesus – “Weekly Roundup: Genocide is Not Good Actually”:

    “Whatever natural good was present in the piety and community of the pagan past is an infinitesimal fraction of the grace rendered unto those pagans’ descendants who have been received into the Church of Christ. Whatever sacrifices were exacted in pursuit of that grace—the suffocation of a noble pagan culture; an increase in disease and bodily death due to government negligence; even the sundering of natural families—is worth it.” Declan Leary writing at the American Conservative Brad responds to this article and similar comments by Jesse Waters, Dave Rubin, and Matt Walsh, all of whom have taken the stance that “this land was conquered just like all populated land on Earth. And thank God that it was. Our civilization is far superior to what came before it.” He also discusses the explosive new data from PRRI on the decline of White Evangelcalism and the rise of the Nones–the USA’s biggest religious group to date.

  32. blf says

    This (along with most other things) exasperates the mildly deranged penguin, How many cheeses does it take to make a cheeseboard?:

    […] A little jaded by endless debate about infection rates, double-jabbed immunity and amber-list exemptions, we sidled off a few miles down the road to Wimbledon to watch total strangers play tennis.

    It was a blast of normality, a reminder of how life used to be — and how it can be again with a bit of luck. Crowds cooed, plucky Brits lost and it rained all day. Pricey strawberries, a long queue to get in and all the best players had eastern European names. Normal felt good.

    One small group of spectators even asked us to arbitrate in their own urgent dispute: what is the minimum number of cheeses required to constitute a proper cheeseboard? […]

    Simple, according to the mildly deranged penguin, all the cheeses — real cheeses, that is, freshly hunted down and perhaps still kicking. (The problem when the cheeses are still kicking is that you have to nail them down to the cheeseboard to keep them from running away, which wouldn’t be a problem except you then have to remember there are sharp nails when eating the cheeseboard (and the cheeses).) But, and this is important, real cheeses. So no British Industrial Cheddar, or States Mystery Yellow School Goo, and it doesn’t come out of a can or in plastic slices. Easy question, simple answer.

  33. says

    Josh Marshall:

    On Thursday the Chairman of the Republican party of Virginia asked the University of Virginia, the state’s flagship public university to open an investigation into Professor Larry Sabato for violating the University’s code of ‘Professional Conduct and Ethics’ with his “bitter partisanship.” UVA responded telling the Virginia GOP, in so many words, to STFU.

    The most obvious and but also merited thing to say would be to castigate Rich Anderson, Chairman of the Virginia GOP, for his comical level of hypocrisy. After all this is the party currently defining itself as the party of ‘free speech’ trying to muzzle a highly respected senior professor and public commentator over what amounts to a few mean tweets. But let’s be honest. Hypocrisy is the closest thing the Trump Era GOP has to a defining brand. It doesn’t matter that I do it because your side did it worse! I’m the victim. Rinse and repeat. Who cares?

    But there’s something more worth saying about this nonsensical story.

    Years ago – and in some case until quite recently – there was a group of commentators who the prestige news shows relied on for non-partisan, “both sides” commentary on the politics of the day. Two of the most visible – especially on shows like The NewsHour were Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, two think tank political scientists from AEI and Brookings respectively. Another was presidential historian Michael Beschloss. Another was Larry Sabato. Ornstein and Mann tended to focus on the function of Congress; Beschloss, the presidency; Sabato, federal elections. But they each covered the full terrain of contemporary politics. If you go back through 20-plus years of my writing the Editors’ Blog you’ll probably find some criticism of each of them, almost certainly precisely because of this studious effort to see the country’s two political parties in equal terms and treat them as such, even as the evidence for that perspective steadily dwindled.

    In many ways TPM was begun, […] with a sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit argument that the two parties are simply not equal. They don’t function in the same way. Despite its history and current branding the modern GOP is not just another center-right party of government, such as exists under different labels in every functioning modern democracy. It’s something different. […] The fact that the GOP is substantively the latter (rightist sectarian party) while structurally occupying the space of the former (center-right party of government) is the essence of the United States’ current crisis of democracy.

    Then in the spring of 2012 Mann and Ornstein published an OpEd in The Washington Post: “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem“. The title speaks for itself but if you wanted more you could read the book […]

    Sabato was in many ways the final holdout. In an interview with The Richmond Times-Dispatch for an article about the state GOP investigation demand, Sabato chalked the shift up to Trump and the January 6th insurrection. “People had better pay attention because if they don’t, it’s going to happen again.”

    […] It is a good and proper thing to have a mode of commentary that is as free as possible not only of partisan commitments but the ideological commitments and opinions which are closely situated to the political contests of the moment. It is useful. But especially in the early 21st century the Republican party has simply given people who want to occupy this ground no place to stand. The culture of lying is simply too deep in the fabric. The rejection of democracy itself, let alone the culture of norms in which it best thrives, is too total.

    And thus here we are.


  34. says

    Climate Crisis Round-up: heat, drought, heat, floods, heat, fires, still more heat

    The world is heating up due to the amount of carbon—chiefly in the form of carbon dioxide and methane—that humans are dumping into the atmosphere. The result is that land, sea, and air are all growing warmer, altering the way that both climate systems and ocean currents move around the planet. That’s the climate crisis, and it’s not something that’s happening in the future. It’s something that’s already well underway.

    This past two weeks might have been a short course in the kind of things that we can expect to see as the climate warps to fit the unnaturally warmed planet. Across the nation, there were demonstrations of just how inconvenient—and how deadly—that warmer world is becoming. And why this is definitely a crisis, not just a change.

    On the East Coast, the Atlantic hurricane season is already setting records. Tropical Storm Elsa picked up a name on July 1, making this the earliest any season has coughed up five named storms. The record it broke was set just last year. Elsa briefly became Hurricane Elsa before smacking into Cuba, then ticked over the line to become a hurricane again before drenching the Tampa area, then it generated tornados in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia as it slashed back across country to move off the Atlantic Coast, then it turned north to sweep a wall of rain into New York City. There commuters found themselves wading waist deep through subway stations, or facing flooded streets. This was no superstorm. Hurricane season is barely underway. […]

    Welcome to Hothouse Earth.

    To be fair, this is only a Hothouse Earth preview. Geologist have long reserved the terms “Hothouse Earth” for those periods in Earth’s history when there were essentially no ice caps, just as they’ve used the term “Snowball Earth” for those periods where there was almost nothing except ice cap. So this isn’t really a hothouse … it’s just the waiting room. […]

    As the heat dome settled in over the Northwest, Seattle and Portland baked under temperatures that passed previous all time highs by as much as 8­° F. But just across the border, the town of Lytton, British Columbia had it even harder. On July 1, the small town—population 1,000—recorded a temperature of 121.2° F (49.6° C). It wasn’t just a record high for Lytton, it was the first time in history that any location in Canada had recorded a temperature above 120°F.

    But that turned out to be nothing. Because the very next day, Lytton hit over 1,400°F … because it burned in a forest fire that spread across thousands of acres in the bone dry heat. That fire was just one of 200 fires that are still burning British Columbia as of July 9.

    While Lytton was being roasted, so were Northwestern sea shores. The unprecedented and prolonged heat in the region has brought on a phenomenon that’s both sad and odorous — miles of seashore on which mussels, oysters, clams, barnacles, and other marine animals in the sand or fastened to the rocks along the shore have simply been cooked in place.

    […] estimates are that a billion animals may have died. This isn’t just an ecological tragedy which could have an expanding effect on the entire ecosystem of the area, but an economic tragedy for a shell fishing industry that had been trying to tiptoe back into a place where it was both sustainable and profitable.

    Severe thunderstorms are a regular feature of summer in the Midwest and South, and this week was no exception. But it was exceptional. […] Starting in Kansas and driving east through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, storms carried large hail and winds in excess of 70 mph even when they were not spawning tornados. It may not be quite the storm that hit last year with 100 mph winds, which would have been enough to make it a class 2 hurricane, but then, that storm didn’t hit until August. So…

    The winds that hit St. Louis on Saturday morning were strong enough to rip the 140-year-old steeple from a local cathedral, and leave hundreds of thousands without power. And, as those winds were roaring through the area, they were matched by near-record downpours that brought on flash flooding. At around 1:30 AM, a mother driving a car with three children down Interstate 70 encountered a 2’ wall of water surging up the six lane highway. She attempted to turn and flee up an onramp, only to find the car lifted off the road and washed into a culvert. As she and her children escaped from the flooding car, a 12-year-old girl was swept away and carried into a storm drain. A search is ongoing at this time.

    What’s the climate crisis? It’s a not just heat waves and rising seas, it’s a flash flood so powerful it lifts a family car off an interstate highway and sweeps a 12-year-old girl into a storm drain. […]

    And of course it’s not over. It doesn’t get over. It only gets worse. Following a week of record heat, the Western U.S. is now facing … more heat. Temperatures in some areas are so hot at night that it’s impossible for people to cool off even in total darkness. There are temperatures so severe that heat stress can be almost instantaneous, with heat stroke not far behind. Living with these temperatures takes preparation and planning. It also takes acclimatization—which is what does not happen when people suddenly find their air conditioners conking out under a heat-induced blackout.

    People, like most mammals, make heat, not cool. We have a system of evaporative cooling, in the form of sweat, but that system becomes ineffective if the surrounding temperatures are hot enough. Body temperatures rise and we become sick. If they can’t be reduced, we die. […]

    The Marshall Islands are often casually mentioned as a U.S. territory, like Puerto Rico or Guam, but it’s a lot more complicated that that. Take a deep breath and … The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was a former U.N. territory which was administered by the United States, consisting mostly of islands that fell under U.S. control during World War II. In 1979, that Trust Territory recognized the independence of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Then that Trust Territory was shuttered in 1994, after dealing with other areas, by which point the Marshall Islands had become a “sovereign state in free association with the United States” following an agreement ratified by Congress. All of which makes the rights of Marshallese when it comes to travel or immigration to the United States very confusing and the obligations of the United States to the Marshall Islands (which, as a reminder, we spent some time blowing up with hydrogen bombs) a good deal less robust than many people in both nations feel they should be.

    And then there’s climate change. Because the Marshall Islands are a group of mostly smaller islands, they are extremely subject to the effects of climate change on every front — changing weather and rainfall patterns, increasing storms, and rising sea levels. […] Roughly 30,000 people have immigrated from the Marshall Islands to the U.S, over the last few decades — one of many climate-induced migrations. […]

  35. says

    Charlottesville Finally Removes Its Robert E. Lee Statue

    The confederate monument was at the center of 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally.

    On Saturday morning, a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, which sparked a deadly white supremacist rally in 2017, was finally removed. New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie captured the moment on Twitter [photos available at the link]

    City officials took action after an April ruling by Virginia’s supreme court authorizing its removal, along with another monument honoring Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The decision is part of a fractious and years-long nationwide push to scrub Confederate monuments and honors from military bases, schools, and public squares. Nowhere was this conversation more resonant than in Charlottesville, where the city council first voted in February 2017 to remove the Lee statute. […]

  36. says

    Arkansas reported more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases for the third straight day on Friday.

    The state reported 1,155 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health. […]

    The state has seen a surge in coronavirus infections in recent weeks due in part to the rise of the delta strain of the coronavirus first discovered in India and a lagging vaccination rate. […]

    “The overwhelming majority of COVID patients in the hospital have not been vaccinated. These vaccines are effective, but we need more Arkansans to get the shot,” he said at the time.

    Just under 35 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC).

    According to The Associated Press, Hutchinson [Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)] has begun a series of town halls aimed at increasing vaccinations.

    As of Friday, Arkansas has reported 355,460 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. The state reported four new deaths on Friday, bringing the cumulative death toll to 5,948. […]


  37. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Marsha Blackburn Waxes Poetic On The Horrors ‘Socialism’ Would Inflict On Taylor Swift

    […] n case you are unaware, there has been a long-running feud between Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn and pop music icon Taylor Swift, dating back to 2018 when Swift abandoned her whole “staying out of politics, Reba McEntire-style” thing and took to Instagram to tell people not to vote for Blackburn, on account of how terrible she is.

    I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.

    I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.

    So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

    […] The feud has been particularly awkward for Blackburn, as she represents Tennessee, […] and also probably does not want to get on the wrong side of the Swifties. Because they can be a little, shall we say, intense.

    But Blackburn was the one to throw the first punch this round, in an interview with Breitbart this week — claiming that Swift would be the first victim of what she thinks a “socialist government” would be.

    She explained:

    When you talk about country music, and I know the left is all out now and trying to change country music and make it woke. When I’m talking to my friends who are musicians and entertainers, I say, ‘If—if—we have a socialistic government, if we have Marxism, you are going to be the first ones who will be cut off because the state would have to approve your music.’ And, you know, Taylor Swift came after me in my 2018 campaign. But Taylor Swift would be the first victim of that, because when you look at Marxist socialist societies, they do not allow women to dress or sing or be on stage or to entertain or the type music that she would have. They don’t allow protection of private intellectual property rights.

    So, first of all, there has always been “woke” country music, ma’am, or have you never heard of Ms. Bobbie Gentry? Johnny Cash famously played a show in a prison, which I would describe as a pretty “woke” thing to do. In more recent history, The Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, plus many, many songs that while, perhaps not particularly political, surely had a certain class consciousness.

    Second … do I even have to explain that this is not what socialism is? I feel like I don’t. Blackburn may as well have dictated her favorite chicken pot pie recipe and said “And that, my friends, is socialism!” and been just as on target as she was in that little rant. Even if we take “European-style socialism” out of the equation, it would be quite a stretch to say there are no female entertainers in Cuba, which there obviously are. I would not personally consider the USSR to have actually been either a socialist or communist nation, but they had female singers and entertainers there as well. Did they do “the type music that she has?” Probably not, because the USSR fell in 1991, when Taylor Swift was two years old.

    I am sure that this is what Marsha Blackburn wants socialism to be, because boy, if it were, capitalism would look pretty good in comparison. Alas, that is not the case. And people know what socialism is now, so instead of scaring anyone, instead of scaring Taylor Swift, she just sounds very, very stupid.

  38. blf says

    Only just found this, So Long Mr Trump (video) by Jack Warshaw. Mr Warshaw is the gentleman who wrote No Time For Love (If They Come in the Morning) (audio), as famously sung by Christy Moore and Moving Hearts:
      You call it the law, we call it apartheid, internment, conscription, partition and silence.
      It’s the law that they make to keep you and me where they think we belong.
      The hide behind steel and bullet-proof glass, machine guns and spies,
      And tell us who suffer the tear gas and the torture that we’re in the wrong.

  39. says

    Matt Damon: Research for Trump supporter role ‘eye-opening’

    Matt Damon says the research he did for his role as an oil rig worker and Trump supporter in the upcoming movie “Stillwater” was “eye-opening.”

    In the movie, Damon plays an oil rig worker from Oklahoma who travels to Marseille, France, to help his daughter, who is in prison for the murder of her roommate. The story parallels that of Amanda Knox, an American student who was convicted and later acquitted of killing a British student in Italy.

    Damon said during a news conference on Friday that he spent time with oil rig workers to get a sense of the identity that his character would have in the movie.

    “Being invited into their homes, into a backyard barbecue, a guitar comes out and they start singing church songs. It’s a very specific place … and very different to where I grew up,” Damon said, according to Reuters. “It was really eye-opening for me.”

    The award-winning actor backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and earlier this year praised President Biden’s climate efforts.

    Damon mentioned Friday that he picked up on specific details as he spent more and more time with oil rig workers while researching the part.

    “They all have goatees, the sunglasses. They’re not six-pack ab guys, but they’re strong,” Damon noted on Friday. The actor also mentioned noticing jeans they wore that used a fire retardant that “changes the way these guys walk,” Variety reported.

    In the movie, a French woman asks Damon if he voted for former President Trump. He says he did not because of a prior felony that took away his voting rights, Variety reported.

    However, Damon said that his character would have voted for Trump if he could have.

    “They’re in the oil business, of course he voted for Trump,” Damon said, according to Variety. […]

  40. says

    Really? Pathetic.

    Lauren Boebert created her own sockpuppet to like her tweets, defend her nonsense, and follow AOC

    It’s always nice to have someone who agrees with you on every point. Someone who will take up your battles for you. And maybe someone who will like or retweet those really weird statements that were maybe just a bit to embarrassing to put your name beside. For Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, that person is Freedom Fighter aka @freedom53597835 aka Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert.

    Boebert isn’t the first Republican to be caught sockpuppeting to make her opinions seem more popular, to take secret jabs at enemies, or do whatever Boebert is doing when retweeting these posts. […]

    So, Lauren Boebert set up what’s clearly a throwaway sockpuppet account to boost her own posts, retweet some decidedly odd comments about men, and to follow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (oh yes, Freedom Fighter follows AOC). But mostly what Boebert’s sockpuppet points out is that there’s a mystery out there that needs to be solved — and it’s all about a date.

    Boebert’s sockpuppetry was discovered by comedy writer Toby Morton in a way that’s almost as hilarious as Morton’s work on South Park. In a solid Karen moment, Boebert came to chase Morton away when he was filming a bit at a location that Boebert felt was too close to her Colorado bar. During this encounter Boebert uses her phone to video Morton. But where did that video actually pop out at a time when Boebert wanted to shore up her position in an argument with Morton? From @freedom53597835.

    At the moment, Boebert is still feeding posts into the burner account in a hilario-pathetic effort to prove that it’s so, so not her burner account. But, as Meidas Touch points out, the discovery of this account from Boebert only fires the starting gun for the real search—her other accounts. In particular, the Freedom Fighter account was created in February, meaning that it was created after the events of Jan. 6 and after Boebert was aware that she had been accused of leading insurgents on tours of the Capitol that were designed to show them how to subvert the building’s security.

    So the question is not just: How many other such accounts does Boebert have, but what accounts did she have before January 6? Also, since Boebert has already tweeted to say “if this was really Lauren’s burner account don’t you think it would have a lot more tweets?” that opens the question of how many tweets on this account, and others, Boebert has deleted.

    But it is nice to know she’s on a first name basis with herself. […]

  41. says

    Republican immigration proposal falls flat

    A joint immigration proposal by two top Senate Republicans was received with jeers among immigration advocates on both sides of the aisle […]

    GOP Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) on Tuesday proposed legislation to offer a path to citizenship for “active participants” in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    Dropped as Democrats weigh whether to use the budget reconciliation package to push their own plan, the Senate Republicans’ proposal angered the left for its narrow scope, and the right for its proposed “amnesty.”

    “There he goes again. Senator Cornyn has one play, consisting of four steps. This week he’s initiating step two of Cornyn Con. He’s not setting up a bipartisan breakthrough, he’s setting up a partisan blame game,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration advocacy group. “Cornyn and the Republicans don’t want to pass immigration reform this year, they want to run against immigration next year,” added Sharry.

    […] The offer, which would benefit fewer than 700,000 beneficiaries, falls far short of what Democrats and some House Republicans are seeking in terms of legalization. It would exclude potential DACA recipients who were unable to access the program during the Trump administration — a number the Migration Policy Institute estimates is as high as 1.3 million additional people.

    While progressives publicly are confident that Democrats will be able to push through much broader immigration benefits — potentially granting a path to citizenship to up to 11 million undocumented immigrants — the Senate parliamentarian has yet to be asked to rule on whether immigration benefits can be included in a reconciliation bill.

    The most expansive version of the Democratic proposal would grant a path to citizenship to DACA recipients, other so-called Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors — beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status program, immigrant farmworkers, essential workers and their close relatives.

    In all, a broad immigration proposal in the reconciliation process could leave few, if any, undocumented immigrants without a shot at legalization.

    […] At least one House Democrat, Rep. Jesús García (Ill.), has said he will not support a reconciliation package that does not include immigration provisions.

    House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) quickly responded, saying he doesn’t believe the legalizations of immigrants already in the country would have enough budgetary impact to pass the parliamentarian’s muster.

    […] “The reality is every option should be on the table, including using reconciliation to try and move something you otherwise might not be able to,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Counsel.

    […] Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Libertarian Cato Institute, said he’s not sure Democrats have the political capital to push for a reconciliation package or a bigger stand-alone package.

    “All the steps that need to be taken, all the costs that will be incurred on each one of those steps, the political costs and the sort of media fallout, all going on while there’s a surge of apprehensions — I think that there’s really just no chance that anyone’s going to spend the political capital [that would] expose themselves to the attacks,” he said.

    But he also called the Cornyn approach a delay tactic. [Yeah. That’s what I thought. Another delaying tactic from Republicans! Republicans do not really want to pass any kind of immigration bill.]

    […] “I think what they’re saying is, ‘This is our starting point,’ ” Noorani said of Cornyn’s proposal. “That’s a good sign. You may not like it, but the fact that they’re putting a starting point on the table is a good thing.”

    […] Cornyn’s plan was criticized on its merits in that it would arbitrarily select a group of Dreamers to grant legalization, leaving others out in the lurch, including other potential DACA recipients along with many other people without documentation.

    “It’s carving out a relatively small subset of the undocumented population and pitting them against everyone else, creating tension and conflict and the reality it’s likely intended to derail any immigration reform, period,” said Loweree.

  42. says

    Wonkette: LGBTQ-Hating GOPer In Trouble After Doling Out Bad Cunnilingus Advice On TikTok

    […] several West Virginia Republicans, including delegate Joe Jeffries, introduced a bill banning discussion of sexuality as well as “displays relating to sexuality” in public schools.

    Via Metroweekly:

    The bill, sponsored by Del. Dean Jeffries (R-Kanawha Co.), would add a section to the Code of West Virginia directing the State Board of Education to prohibit displays relating to sexuality in public school facilities.

    Under the bill, which is extremely broad in scope, an example of a display promoting sexuality could include a sign urging people not to bully or to support LGBTQ students, like one that was put up by a teacher at Hurricane High School in Hurricane, W.V., in September 2019.

    Del. Joe Jeffries (R-Putnam Co.), a co-sponsor of the bill, caused a stir on social media after he railed against LGBTQ-supportive posters, arguing that they were a violation of school policy.

    Dean Jeffries told Charleston-based CBS affiliate WOWK that he believes parents are best suited to teach their children about sexuality and sexual morality. But he has also acknowledged that the bill is not a “top priority,” given the number of other issues that are more pressing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This sign, on display at a high school, was what Jeffries was upset about. He claimed that the sign, which referenced the Taylor Swift lyric “Shade never made anyone less gay” and encouraged students to support their LGBTQ classmates was “bullying.” [photo available at the link]

    Jeffries, it appears, is more than fine with displays of sexuality on Twitter (as long as they are heterosexual, we assume) and has been doling out “sex advice” on TikTok throughout the last week.

    Via West Virginia Public Radio:

    In the video, Jeffries appears to be responding to another user on the platform.

    “They say sit on your face. Do you mean sit or hover?” a woman asks.

    “So here’s the thing, ladies. If he’s not pushing you up, gasping for air, then you are probably doing it wrong. You should be rubbing that thing all over his face, like hard,” Jeffries said. “His nose should be shoving your clit so far back up inside of you that it just drives you wild. Sit, not hover, sit. Push down. All your weight He’ll take care of the rest.”

    I think I need a Silkwood shower after that. I mean, I am super sex-positive but that man just made cunnilingus sound about as appealing as cleaning out a vacuum cleaner. […]

    Jeffries’ colleagues, however, were not super happy with his apparent plans to become the right-wing Dr. Ruth and have since stripped him of his committee vice-chairman position. I’d say this wasn’t surprising, but given Trump, you think they’d be okay with any kind of behavior on social media these days.

    West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay) released a statement explaining the decision.

    Serving in the West Virginia House of Delegates has been the honor of my lifetime, but not everyone has the same respect for this office, our body or their fellow members. When you take the oath, you are serving not just your district, but also the entire state. I have been asked to weigh in on the activities of one of our members, but it is up to each of our constituents to be the ultimate judges of our actions.

    I believe Joe Jeffries is an embarrassment not just to the House of Delegates, but to the entire state. He has shown us more than once that he does not respect the office he was elected to serve. I am but one member among 100, and his constituents will have the opportunity at the ballot box in 2022 to decide whether he represents them as they wish.

    As presiding officer, the only tool at my disposal to express my disgust with his repeated, reprehensible behavior is to strip him of his committee vice chairman position, which I have done today. Carrying out the will of the people is serious work, and I expect better behavior of our members, even in what they believe is their private time.

    […] aren’t Republicans constantly complaining about how incredibly unfair it is for people to be fired or demoted or whatever for what they say on social media? Because it seems like they are. Is this something that applies only when the company is liberal and the poor, put-upon Republican in question is out there sharing his sincerely held political beliefs by screaming racial slurs and heil Hitlering across the internet? I guess so.

    On the other hand, if this gets him to stop whatever it is he thinks he is doing here … it may be enough of a service to humanity that we can overlook the hypocrisy.

  43. says

    Indonesia running out of oxygen as coronavirus infections surge

    Indonesia is grappling with a shortage of oxygen amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the country.

    Between Saturday and early Sunday local time, 63 patients died at a hospital on one of the country’s islands, Java, after their oxygen supplies had nearly been used up, CNN reported.

    Though the hospital had tried acquire more resources, oxygen supplies were used up faster than expected after the hospital saw a wave of COVID-19 patients that outpaced its capacity. The hospital was able to receive fresh supplies by early Sunday morning.

    […] The AP reports that demand has reached 1,928 tons of oxygen per day, and government data says that available production capacity is 2,262 tons a day.

    Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s minister in charge of the country’s pandemic response, said it received a shipment on Friday from Singapore of 1,000 ventilators, oxygen cylinders and other supplies, […] He said they also received a shipment from Australia of an additional 1,000 ventilators.

    […] “I asked for 100% of oxygen go to medical purposes first, meaning that all industrial allocations must be transferred to medical,” said Pandjaitan, according to AP. “We are racing against time, we have to work fast.”

    […] The need for oxygen comes after the country donated about 3,400 oxygen cylinders and concentrators to India at the height of the country’s surge. However, plans to send another 2,000 oxygen concentrators to India in mid-June were cancelled as the number of cases surged in Indonesia, according to the AP.

    Since the start of the pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) reports the country has seen 2.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and over 64,000 confirmed deaths from the disease. The AP notes that those numbers are expected to be higher because of poor contact tracing and low testing.

    […] During a press briefing on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the U.S. was planning on sending three million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Indonesia. […]

  44. blf says

    Follow-up of sorts to @36, a snippet from French parliament set to debate making Covid vaccine compulsory for healthworkers (possibly paywalled, my added emboldening, Friday 2nd July):

    A poll published in franceinfo and Le Figaro on Thursday showed that 72 percent of French people were in favour of compulsory vaccines for health professionals, and 58 percent supported extending the measure to the entire population.

    On Thursday, senator Bernard Jomier, head of a group responsible for evaluating the country’s Covid measures, recommended making the jab obligatory for all adults under the age of 60.

    Even before France’s vaccine rollout had begun, a number of politicians, including the Green party MEP and potential presidential candidate Yannick Jadot, were calling for the government to make it obligatory, fearing the consequences of French resistance to vaccines which predates the current health crisis.

    While vaccine scepticism has decreased [Just 20 percent of the French remain vaccine-sceptic, latest polls show] in the last year, health authorities believe the rollout is not progressing quickly enough to avoid a fourth wave of the pandemic in the autumn.

    Indeed. If these more recent polls are correct-ish, then a remarkable turnaround is happening. France is notoriously vaccine-hesitant, with (as one example) a famous poll at the end of last year finding only c.40% would get vaccinated. (As is so happens, c.39% are now fully vaccinated (including me!), so counting-in the people who have had only one jab, that worrisome “40%” fortunately hasn’t held true.)

    But what I find even more remarkable is the 58% who are now saying the vaccine should be mandatory for everyone. I do not know what any previous figures are, but presume (and sort-of, vaguely, recall), it was minuscule. A related snippet from the above-embedded link (probably also paywalled, 21st May):

    The poll also showed a sharp increase in belief in the vaccine, with 73 percent of those questioned agreeing that “the collective benefit of vaccination is worth getting vaccinated”.

    In fact 51 percent of respondents even believe that vaccination should be compulsory for people living in France, compared to 46 percent who are against it. The government has repeatedly said it will not make vaccines compulsory.

    Some related snippets from a much older article, How worried does France need to be about its vaccine-sceptics? (possibly paywalled, 11th January):

    France’s Covid-19 vaccine programme got off to a slow start, partly because officials wanted to avoid scaring off the sceptics by appearing too rushed.

    Somewhat paradoxically, the criticism that followed seems to have prompted confidence levels in the vaccine to rise.

    Apparently, that notorious “only 40% say they will be vaccinated” figure had already risen to c.56% at that time — mid-January, before it’d become obvious to the hesitant and oblivious that being vaccinated is a Very Good Idea. I’ve no idea why (and the article doesn’t suggest any reason which seems plausible at that point-in-time†) a botched slow vaccination rollout possibly made the hesitant more confident, but then again, France is a weird frog- and snail-eating place with more cheeses than days of the year. (And apparently, some new artisan cheeses were invented during lockdown.)

      † The article does quote an expert (“Antoine Bristielle, a public opinion researcher with the centre-left Jean-Jaurès Foundation”) as saying “It’s the snowball effect. When people see others get vaccinated and that it goes well, it encourages them to do the same.” Maybe, but since vaccines had been available in France for less than a month by then, and very few jabs had been administrated, that explanation back then for what happened back then seems largely implausible to me. On the other hand, Bristielle did also “[warn] against giving too much weight to the anti-vaxx movement in France”, and seems to have been correct, and / or the early strategy for dealing with that notorious 60% was highly effectively quickly. (I strongly criticised the protocol at the time as arse-end first, making it very easy for the hesitant to avoid vaccination whilst making it exceptionally difficult for those who did want to get vaccinated.)

  45. blf says

    A day later than he’d agreed to, Netanyahu vacates prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem:

    [… After losing the election and the formation of a new government], Netanyahu did not vacate the prime ministerial residence.

    Instead, he continued to host dignitaries including Nikki Haley, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations under President[Wacko House squatter] Donald Trump.

    In late June, Netanyahu and Bennett’s offices announced July 10 as the final date for the former premier to move out.

    Netanyahu left after midnight on Sunday [today], slightly after the deadline he agreed to.

    “Crime Minister”, an organisation that has mounted weekly protests against Netanyahu outside the residence for more than a year, mocked him on Sunday.

    “The defendant and his family fled as the last of the thieves in the night,” the group wrote on Facebook.

    The residence had become a symbol of the Netanyahus’ scandals, and was the scene of weekly protests against Netanyahu for much of the past year. Demonstrators called on the then-prime minister to resign while on trial for corruption.

    Bennett is to take over the prime minister’s residence on Sunday.

  46. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Salon reporter Zachary Petrizzo confirms that Oath Keepers founder and leader Stewart Rhodes was at CPAC in Dallas last night as an officially credentialed guest hobnobbing the the elite of the Republican party and conservative movement.

    Rhodes was not himself at the January 6th insurrection but he’s the leader of one of the two domestic terrorist groups currently being investigated by the FBI for their role planning and carrying out the January 6th insurrection. He’s at the center of the investigation, as Matt Shuham discussed here as recently as yesterday evening.

    And yet, there he was, a guest in good standing at the biggest annual GOP get together. The leaders of the GOP continue to hobnob literally with the folks behind the insurrection. As we’ve discussed, President Trump is making vindication for the Jan 6th insurrectionists the central theme of his 2022 electioneering. The party he leads is following his lead.

  47. says

    CPAC has become the place Republicans go to sit around the campfire and scare themselves sillier

    How can we be sure that we’ve drifted into the Worst Possible Timeline? Because it’s always CPAC. Not content with one event in 2021, the Conservative Political Action Conference is on again, with CPAC Part 2, Eclectic Bugaboos now underway in Dallas.

    […] Republicans used to act as if the meetings involved a serious transfer of conservative philosophy. Way back when the conferences started in 1974, it was at CPAC that Ronald Reagan gave the first draft of the “shining city on a hill” speech that would later become his signature party trick. There was even the time CPAC organizers ran Richard Spencer out of the building, with the head of the American Conservative Union complaining that the alt-right was everything that conservatives despise.

    That was (checks notes) 2017. Though, just to be clear, that same ACU invited Milo Yiannopoulos a year before Spencer was scolded, so the idea that they were actually against racism, misogyny, or xenophobia always seemed like a stunt for the cameras. In any case, they’re certainly not hiding any of those sterling qualities at this year’s CPAC […]

    What has been the level of Republican discourse at this CPAC event? Well, there’s Madison Cawthorn, the designated heir to Louie Gohmert’s traditional role in Congress, explaining the CPAC-truth behind President Biden’s talk of asking volunteers to go door-to-door helping to expand vaccine availability. The real plan, according to Cawthorn, is to build a “massive mechanism” that can then be used to “go door-to-door to take your guns” or “door-to-door to take your Bibles.” [video at the link]

    Honestly, of all the speeches given at this year’s CPAC, Cawthorn’s may be the most instructive. Because when it comes to “exchanging conservative ideas” in 2021, what that really means is collaborating on the scariest story, whether or not it makes any sense. Cawthorn is demonstrating exactly how this works, and everyone is nodding right along, because what he’s saying is absolutely core to the Republican Party — which, as a reminder, has no platform. The Republican Party exists only to hold power and spread fear. That’s it.

    […] At this year’s CPAC, they’re not stopping with fascist talkers, they’re all in on fascist doers. That includes bringing in Elmer Rhodes. The founder of Oath Keepers not only helped to plan the January 6 insurrection, he called on Donald Trump to make it official by using the Insurrection Act to overturn the election. Which makes Rhodes a hero of the modern party.

    And rather than concentrating on candidates for 2024, or even securing the House in 2022, this year’s CPAC has a different focus — putting Donald Trump back in the White House in 2021. Where many flawed plans involve what appear to be reasonable steps right up to the point where something magic or illogical is required, this plan starts off with that magic right at step one, as the Q-cult finally reveals their evidence of underground pizza tubes and Nancy Pelosi “melts, like the Wicked Witch of the West” opening the door for Trump to step in as speaker, then impeach both Biden and Harris, then move right into the White House. […]

    CPAC attendee sent me this pic of a card they were handed about a “7-pt. plan to restore Donald J. Trump in days, not years,” which involves installing Trump as speaker and ousting Biden & Harris.

    That’s not to say some real world topics didn’t come up. Like this discussion of the COVID-19 crisis, where the failure to get enough Americans vaccinated to stop the pandemic drew cheers. [Video at the link]

    Whatever CPAC was intended to be in 1974, this is what is today — a place for Republicans to trade dark fairy tales stewed together from output of Q-boards and cooked to overripe perfection in the Fox News kitchens. It’s absolutely ludicrous, infinitely dangerous, and completely poisonous to democracy. […].

    You knew you wanted a summary of CPAC. Now you have it. Donald Trump is scheduled to speak there today. Maybe we will ignore that.

  48. says

    Fauci Calls CPAC Cheering of Low Vaccination Numbers “Horrifying”

    The top public health official responds to a rising right-wing push against Covid-19 vaccines.

    The Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Dallas this weekend has been full of the usual moments from the Republican Party’s most outrageous figures trying to be the most performatively provocative. Notable, however, has been the drumbeat of anti-vaccine rhetoric that has pervaded CPAC’s annual gathering—even as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to build steam across unvaccinated parts of the country.

    On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top federal official leading the pandemic response, called the anti-vaccine politics on display “horrifying.” Fauci was reacting to a talk in which anti-vaxxer Alex Berenson was roundly cheered by a CPAC audience for saying the US government had failed to “sucker” 90 percent of Americans into getting vaccinated.

    “It’s horrifying, I mean, the cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people to not try and save their lives,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “If you just unpack that for a second… it’s almost frightening to say ‘Guess what? We don’t want you to do something to save your life! Yay!’ I just don’t get that and I don’t think anybody who is thinking clearly can get that.”

    […] Meanwhile, in Springfield, Mo., where 58 percent of voters backed Trump, local health officials said doctors were “exhausted and overwhelmed” as they faced the worst COVID numbers in sixteen months. Mid-week, one hospital in the area, which has a vaccination rate of around 35 percent, ran out of ventilators after seeing the number of hospitalized patients rise from 10 to 128 over the last six weeks. Although eventually resupplied, the hospital was still forced to shuttle patients to other facilities because they lacked the staff to care for them.

  49. says


    Conservatives are still upset that Captain America isn’t one of them. However, Captain America is fictional and unlike modern conservatives, he has character. Steve Rogers questions “the American Dream” in the new mini-series “The United States of Captain America,” and the very concept disturbs conservatives who haven’t read the book or apparently any Captain America stories from the past 60 years.

    Rogers, who literally fought Nazis, is wary of “the white picket fence fallacy that, if we’re not careful becomes nationalism, jingoism.” He states:

    That dream isn’t real. It never was. Because that dream doesn’t get along nicely with reality, other cultures, immigrants, the poor. The suffering people easily come to be seen as “different” or “unAmerican.” The white picket fence becomes a gate to keep others out. We’re our best when we keep no one out. A good dream is shared. Shared radically. Shared with everyone. When something isn’t shared it can become the American lie.

    Republicans predictably responded as if Steve said all this in Chinese while burning a flag. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said Cap deserved a “demotion to lieutenant for that speech,” which Fox News anchors shared with him during an outrage segment.

    This demonstrates a significant yet not surprising lack of critical reading skills. Captain America doesn’t believe “nationalism” and “jingoism” are true patriotism. As someone other than Thomas Jefferson said, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” That doesn’t mean joining a militia or storming the Capitol but not becoming complacent about America’s supposed greatness. It’s common for conservatives to say, “America isn’t perfect but it’s the greatest nation in the world.” That’s hardly inspirational. It looks down at other nations while never looking inward or trying to improve.

    Dean Cain, who’s officially the worst actor to play Superman on screen, decided to criticize the superhero who’s actually had some successful movies lately. Friday, on Fox News (of course), he said:

    You know, I love Captain America; I love the concept of Captain America, but I am so tired of all of this wokeness and anti-Americanism. You know, we just celebrated our 245th birthday. In my opinion, America is the greatest country in history. It’s not perfect; we are constantly striving for a more perfect union, as we all know, but I believe she’s the most fair, equitable country ever, with more opportunity than anyone’s ever seen.

    You’ll notice that only conservatives are apparently allowed to express concern about the direction of the country. They don’t take this “love it or leave it approach” when complaining that they saw a homeless person at Starbucks. Cain claims that he regularly travels to “other countries where they have to deal with governments who aren’t anywhere near as fair as the United States” and he kisses the soil when he returns. That’s probably quite the scene at customs. He must have a terrible travel agent […]

    As I’ve written elsewhere, Steve Rogers is the idealized symbol of the American dream. His country took a frail, sickly kid from Brooklyn and enabled him to reach his full potential. But Captain America has always been a thoughtful liberal patriot (yes, such a thing is possible). He loves America enough to “criticize her perpetually,” like a costumed James Baldwin. [Comic book pages can be viewed at the link.]

    In 1990’s Daredevil No. 283, literally called “The American Nightmare,” Cap goes full Occupy Wall Street, decrying “the gap between the rich and the poor.” Sure, he might’ve won the super soldier lottery but he didn’t think that made America perfect. He tells Daredevil, “In New York, it’s like a third world country living at the feet of elite corporate kings.”

    In Berlin, Poland, even the Soviet Union — people are making demands and being heard. The world is changing but America will be the last to change.

    During Mark Gruenwald’s 10-year run on Captain America, the government once demanded that Steve Rogers serve as its loyal mascot. He refused and was replaced by the very MAGA-esque John Walker. This was all a scheme by Cap’s arch-nemesis, the Red Skull, who you can imagine secretly phoning Cotton and praising him for the “demotion to lieutenant” line.

    An issue of What If? from 1977 imagines a world where America has succumbed to the jingoism and bigotry that conservatives consider “patriotism.” There’s a WALL in Harlem to keep the undesirables in their place. Immigrants aren’t welcome. There’s no free press or even what we have now. America is a police state, and yes, that’s a bad thing.

    Captain America fights an evil version of himself, who represents this twisted America, and a victorious Cap delivers an awesome and shockingly prescient speech.

    Listen to me — all of you out there! You were told by this man — your hero — that America is the greatest country in the world! He told you that Americans were the greatest people — that America could be refined like silver, could have the impurities hammered out of it, and shine more brightly! He went on about how precious America was — how you needed to make sure it remained great! And he told you anything was justified to preserve that great treasure, that pearl of great price that is America!

    Well, I saw America is nothing! Without its ideals — its commitment to the freedom of all men, America is a piece of trash! A nation is nothing! A flag is a piece of cloth!

    I fought Adolf Hitler not because America was great, but because it was fragile! I knew that liberty could as easily be snuffed out here as in Nazi Germany! As a people, we were no different from them! When I returned, I saw that you nearly did turn America into nothing! And the only reason you’re not less than nothing — is that it’s still possible for you to bring freedom back to America!

    Steve Rogers dares to dream of a better America. That’s what makes him Captain America. In 1984’s Captain America No. 298, the Red Skull says he finds Rogers “perplexing,” as the Nazi white supremacist can’t fathom why someone so “superior” would willingly surround himself with “trash” like his then girlfriend, Bernie Rosenthal (a Jew), his Black partner Sam Wilson, and perhaps worst of all in the Skull’s eyes, Arnie Roth, Steve’s childhood friend who was openly gay. He accuses Cap of what conservatives would now call “virtue signaling.” The worst people will always condemn a good man like Steve Rogers as being too “woke.” But as he told General Ross in Avengers: Infinity War: “I’m not looking for forgiveness, and I’m way past asking for permission.”

    So say we all, Cap.


  50. says

    Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic crew are safely back from space, ushering in a new era.

    Washington Post link

    Richard Branson completed a daring, barnstorming flight to the edge of space Sunday, rocketing through the atmosphere in the spaceplane he’d been yearning to ride for nearly 20 years.

    The suborbital trip gave the British billionaire, his three crewmates and two pilots a glimpse of the Earth from more than 50 miles up and a few minutes of weightlessness before the vehicle they were traveling in, SpaceShipTwo Unity, glided back to Earth and a landing on the runway at Virgin Galactic’s facility here in the New Mexico desert.

    It was SpaceShipTwo’s fourth trip to the edge of space since 2018, and Virgin Galactic, the company Branson founded in 2004, says it will soon start flying paying customers regularly on similar jaunts, opening a new era in human space exploration.

    Several companies in the growing commercial space industry, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, have developed spacecraft designed to allow private citizens, and not just NASA trained military fighter pilots and scientists, to earn the title of “astronaut.”

    […] Virgin Galactic seemed intent on making it clear that this was not a traditional NASA launch. Instead of a stoic countdown, there was a party-like atmosphere along the tarmac, a scene as much a spectacle as a space launch that even included a musical guest, Khalid, who debuted a new song during a performance here. The company’s live broadcast of the flight was hosted by comedian and late-night host Stephen Colbert, and Musk was on hand to watch Branson and the crew take off.

    Unlike traditional rockets that launch vertically, Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo Unity takes off tethered to the belly of a mother ship. On Sunday, the mother ship, known as WhiteKnightTwo, lifted off from the tarmac here shortly after 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, delayed by about 90 minutes because high winds overnight had kept the ground crew from rolling it out of the hangar. The spaceship was released at about 11:25 a.m. Eastern time, the pilots ignited the engine and the spacecraft shot almost straight up as it thundered toward space.

    The flight reached its apogee at 282,000 feet — 53.41 miles — where the passengers were able to unstrap and experience weightlessness. The spacecraft then fell back to earth and a landing at 11:39 Eastern time.

    […] Branson has repeatedly denied that he was in a race with Bezos and said in the interview that it was just “an incredible, wonderful coincidence that we’re going up in the same month.”

    But when asked about a rivalry with Bezos on CNBC, he couldn’t help himself, saying “Jeff who?”

    Branson’s antics elicited a strong response from Bezos’ Blue Origin. Bob Smith, Blue Origin’s CEO, issued a statement last week wishing Branson well but also pointing out that Virgin Galactic is “not flying above the Kármán line, and it’s a very different experience.” The Kármán line, at 100 km or 62 miles, is an internationally recognized threshold for where space begins. Virgin Galactic flies to just over 50 miles, the altitude at which the Federal Aviation Administration will award crew members astronaut wings.

    On Saturday, however, Bezos wished Branson luck in a post on Instagram. “Wishing you and the whole team a successful and safe flight tomorrow,” Bezos wrote. “Best of luck!”

    I’m not really interested in the billionaires posturing and offering elaborate buffets at the launch site, but it is interesting that their piles of money have brought this version of high flying to fruition.

  51. KG says

    Lynna, OM@60,

    I don’t think anythnig less than going into orbit should count as space flight. Both the FAA criterion and the Kármán line are arbitrary. You can experience weightlessness on a funfair ride, or if your elevator cable snaps.

  52. Jean says

    With multiplying heat waves, droughts, floods, huuricanes, …, I don’t think that we should be celebrating expensive, pollution producing joy rides for billionaires.

  53. says

    KG @61, agreed.

    Jean @62, and then they sent a fleet of five gas-guzzling Land Rovers out onto the landing strip to greet the aircraft when it landed. It was all a bit much.

  54. says

    Josh Marshall: “The Incitement Continues”

    Earlier this morning President Trump insisted that the January 6th insurrection actually amounted to a “lovefest between the Capitol Police and the people who walked down to the Capitol.” He also continued his effort to incite a lynch mob to take revenge on the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt and as she broke into the House Speaker’s lobby and demanded the release of all January 6th arrestees.

    You should expect members of Congress over the coming weeks to get behind this demand to drop charges against everyone charged with crimes related to the insurrection.

    As I’ve sought to argue, vindication for the January 6th insurrection and retribution against the man who shot Ashli Babbitt are going to be the centerpiece of the 2022 campaign. Everyone needs to come up to speed on that fact quickly.

  55. says

    Clyburn Calls On Biden To Endorse A Filibuster Carveout For Voting Legislation

    A top Biden ally is calling on the President to endorse the idea of making legislation that applies to “constitutional rights” filibuster-proof.

    Biden could “pick up the phone and tell [Sen.] Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should do a carve out,’” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) told Politico in an article published Saturday. “I don’t care whether he does it in a microphone or on the telephone — just do it.”

    That idea would allow Democrats’ key voting rights bills — the For The People Act and a separate update to the 1965 Voting Rights Act — to move forward in the face of Republican opposition, so long as they had 50 Democratic votes.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought the For The People Act up for a vote last month, but the bill was blocked on party lines, with 50 Republicans voting to block debate. The bill would have needed 60 votes to proceed.

    Roughly half the Senate Democratic caucus has expressed openness to getting rid of the filibuster entirely. Other members have expressed interest in some sort of reform to how it works, which could include a carveout of the sort suggested by Clyburn.

    Two senators remain solidly opposed to such changes: Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

    Clyburn told Politico he had also spoken to Manchin himself. “I’m not asking you to eliminate the filibuster,” he told Politico, recalling their conversation. “But what I’m saying to you is that nobody ought to have the right to filibuster my constitutional rights.”

    Democrats have felt an increasing urgency to pass legislation to protect the right to vote as bills to restrict the franchise flood state legislatures, an effort animated by Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election and his months of lies about voter fraud.

    If the VRA update, called the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the For The People Act are not signed into law soon, Clyburn told Politico, “Democrats can kiss the majority goodbye.”


  56. says

    Follow-up to comment 64.

    […] Bartimaro [Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo], a fascist and a liar, helped Trump promote the notion of a “peaceful” mob. She claimed “no guns were seized” from the seditionists—a lie.

    Both Bartiromo and Trump also speculated to viewers that the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who was climbing through a door that had been shattered by the mob as they threatened and shoved the officers attempting to guard it, was protecting a “high” level congressional Democrat—part of a continued Republican effort to expose that security official to retaliatory violence.

    This is because Trump, Bartiromo, allied lawmakers and especially Fox News executives are seditionists—their attacks are aimed at democracy itself. Trump, Bartiromo, Carlson and the others are not upset that a dimwitted mob of conspiracy believers and violent militia members attempted to nullify an American election. They remain upset that it didn’t work.

    Their anger remains focused on the specific individuals who stopped the attack from being successful. Their praise is reserved for those who made the attempt. A woman killed while breaking into a secured area during an organized attempt to find and capture lawmakers is held up as movement martyr. All of their attention is devoted to celebrating the supposed heroism of the mob and offering encouragement to those who might attempt similar acts in the future.

    This no longer up for debate. If your cable or satellite subscription pipes Fox News into your home, you are a part of the problem. It does not matter if you do not watch it. It does not matter if you block it from your own view. Fox News makes the same amount of money either way; as advertisers flee the increasingly conspiratorial and violence-justifying network, it relies heavily on the carriage fees it receives from each provider—a chunk of monthly cash from your subscription. An ongoing assault on both provable fact and on our democracy itself is being subsidized by your monthly cable bill.

    Is it worth it? There are other ways to watch television. There is no justification for helping to subsidize fascist disinformation with your own paycheck, and we are no longer in a time when anyone can pretend funding the network is not a clear danger to democracy itself.


  57. says

    […] Dr. Reiner: Over 100 members of Congress all of them GOP members who refuse to tell their constituents whether they have been vaccinated (shakes head). They’ve all been vaccinated, every single one of those characters have been vaccinated .

    Maya May: right

    Dr. Reiner: how cynical; they won’t tell their constituents that they’ve been vaccinated because they know that it’s kind of unpopular in their district . So, they’re willing to let their constituents die, right, rather than lose votes.

    My guess is that this is based upon the rule change : members don’t have to wear a mask if they can show that they are fully vaccinated.

    […] If there are no fines and there are no House GOP wearing masks, then all members have been vaccinated and can show evidence of that fact. […]


  58. says

    Trump says after his second impeachment, ‘I became worse’
    Trump said a true thing.

    [Trump made] a new declaration at a conservative gathering in Texas yesterday: “I didn’t become different. I got impeached twice. I became worse. I became worse.”

    In fact, [Trump] seemed eager to spend the weekend proving just how much worse he’s become. For example, [he] said in a written statement that “the feeling of a Fake Election is stronger now than ever before,” thanks to his incessant lying. He again condemned U.S. news organizations as “the enemy of the people.” He again described the 2020 presidential election as “rigged.”

    Trump also lashed out at the U.S. Supreme Court for failing to help him overturn the election results, made up strange new details about his defeat, and insisted that lies about the 2020 race must remain the centerpiece of Republican messaging in 2022 and 2024.

    But perhaps most importantly, as Politico noted, [Trump] escalated his efforts to rewrite the history of the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Former President Donald Trump on Sunday widely praised those who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol, repeatedly using the word “love” to describe the tone of the event. Echoing his rhetoric about the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Trump said, “These were peaceful people, these were great people.”

    Far-right efforts to recast the rioters as heroes have grown in recent months, but Trump reached new depths yesterday, telling Fox News there was “love in the air” on Jan. 6, when “over a million people” attended his anti-election rally. (This guy continues to struggle with crowd sizes.)

    [Trump]t added that there was “a lovefest” between the Capitol Police and the insurrectionists; the rioters were “tremendous”; and “they” must “release the people that are incarcerated.”

    As for his role in inciting a riot, Trump said he delivered “a very mild-mannered speech” on Jan. 6, and Democratic leaders “were the ones that were responsible” for the violence.

    Obviously, given reality, [Trump’s] claims were utterly insane and evidence of a failed leader who has dropped any pretense about the attack on his own country’s Capitol […]

    But there was also a common thread tying together each of these developments from the weekend: Trump’s campaign against democracy is intensifying. When a failed former president publicly targets elections, the free press, the judiciary, the legal process, and the criminal justice system, while throwing his support behind those who violently attacked the citadel of our government in the hopes of derailing our electoral process, all over the course of a day and a half, it serves as a reminder that Trump sees democracy as an opponent he hopes to defeat.

    When he claims he “became worse” after being held accountable for Jan. 6, there’s every reason to believe him.

    Oh, shit. We can’t really ignore this. Trump and his cult followers are out to destroy democracy.

  59. says

    Follow-up to comment 68.

    […] Trump has also begun to rebrand shooting of Ashli Babbitt, who he calls “an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman.” Far from being shot as she broke through the doorway separating the insurrectionists from the evacuating members of Congress he now says she was “fatally shot on January 6 as she tried to climb out of a broken window,” as though she were shot down trying to flee.

    He has also begun to claim that the officer who shot Babbitt was working either for Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. On front after front, Trump has returned to the escalating incitements to violence which caused the Jan 6th insurrection in the first place. […]


  60. says

    CNN – “Orbán wants a Chinese university in Hungary. Opponents see a chance to turn his nationalist rhetoric against him”:

    A derelict plot on the banks of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary, might seem like an unusual epicenter for a political earthquake.

    But that was before Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s populist government announced a controversial plan for a prestigious Shanghai university to open its first overseas campus there in 2024 — which Hungarians would apparently pay for.

    Now protests over the future of this nondescript site have galvanized Hungary’s opposition, and united them in an attempt to topple Orbán’s ruling party at next year’s general election.

    Since Orbán swept to power 11 years ago, there have been plenty of demonstrations in Budapest against his assault on democratic freedoms. The self-styled defender of Christian values in Europe has rolled back civil liberties, ranging from migrant and LGBTQ rights to media freedom, as well as judicial and academic independence.

    Not that it’s hurt Orbán’s political fortunes. His right-wing Fidesz party has enjoyed landslide election wins, with no serious political challenger outside Budapest.

    But the proposed Fudan University campus has become a potent issue.

    Its critics point to the huge cost to Hungary, warning that taxpayer money would be used to serve the interests of China’s Communist Party. What’s more, they say the campus would be built on land slated for affordable housing for around 10,000 Hungarian students.

    Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Budapest last month to oppose the plan, carrying placards emblazoned with the word “treason” and slogans such as “Hungarian money for Hungarian universities.”

    Orbán has made great political capital out of promoting “traditional” Hungarian values. The opposition now appears to be serving the populist leader a dose of his own medicine.

    The Fudan University controversy is “about whether this small country of 10 million can finally decide its own fate, about whether we will really be a free nation,” opposition leader and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony told demonstrators in the capital, according to local media reports.

    “To an extent right now, the opposition has turned Orbán’s rhetoric against him,” said Péter Krekó, director of Budapest-based think tank Political Capital.

    Krekó said Orbán had adopted an image of himself as “the greatest defender of sovereignty — from the United States, from Brussels, from Berlin.”

    Now the Prime Minister is effectively opening the door to Chinese interests — and “that’s hard to explain” to voters, he said.

    “China’s image in central eastern Europe is not very favorable,” added Krekó. “This is something that can be easily exploited by the opposition.”

    In a drastic move, six of Hungary’s opposition parties are putting aside their political differences to run jointly against Fidesz in 2022’s parliamentary election.

    They include Karácsony’s green party, Dialogue for Hungary, the former far-right party Jobbik, and young centrist party Momentum.

    This opposition coalition is yet to announce its candidate for prime minister, though the pro-European Union (EU) Karácsony is considered the frontrunner.

    In a joint letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 22, the opposition leaders said that, if elected next year, they would “immediately halt” the university project and another planned Beijing-backed railway link between Budapest and Belgrade.

    The controversial business ventures are all part of Orbán’s “Eastern Opening” policy. In the wake of the global financial crisis and increasing tensions with the EU, the Prime Minister has increasingly sought to attract Chinese investment.

    “I think Orbán really deeply believes in the decline of the West, and that the East is on the rise,” Krekó said of the Prime Minister’s ideology. “And therefore, if you have to bet on who are the future leaders of the world, then it’s better to turn to China, than to the United States.”

    So far, that policy has brought Hungary limited economic results. But it has created closer ties between the two countries. Hungary was the only member state to block an EU statement condemning China’s new security law in Hong Kong, and it was the first EU country to approve Chinese vaccines.

    Were Orbán to be defeated, it’s no secret that EU lawmakers would largely breathe a sigh of relief, said Dermot Hodson, associate professor of political economy at Birkbeck College, University of London.

    The timing of the anti-LGBTQ legislation was “all part of an effort to divert the attention from the Fudan project,” said Krekó. “Because the government feels this is something dangerous for their identity.”

    The law also served another purpose for Orbán: It splintered the opposition alliance after Jobbik joined Fidesz in voting for it.

    A major sticking point for critics of the university plan is the cost — reportedly more than the budget for Hungary’s entire education system.

    Critics also fear academic freedom would be undermined by the university’s allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party.

    All of which comes against the backdrop of Orbán’s controversial university reforms, which critics say extend the ideological imprint of the ruling right-wing government.

    Indeed the George Soros-backed Central European University (CEU) was “forced out” of Budapest, after a years-long assault on its academic freedoms by Orbán’s government. The university relocated to Vienna, prompting protests in the Hungarian capital….

  61. says

    Advisor To Major Pro-Trump Group Runs Racist Newsletter

    Turning Point USA advisor Rip McIntosh remains unapologetic about the anti-Black screeds he has published.

    It was an email so racist it might make a ku klux klansman blush.

    An advisor for the influential conservative youth organization Turning Point USA recently published an essay for subscribers of his personal newsletter that, among other things, said Black people have “become socially incompatible with other races” and “American Black culture has evolved into an un-fixable and crime-ridden mess.”

    It also said white people aren’t racist but “just exhausted” with Black people. It portrayed post-Civil War America as a 150-year-long “experiment” to see whether Black people could be “taken from the jungles of Africa,” enslaved, and then integrated into a majority-white society. It said that experiment had failed.

    The email, which included Turning Point’s logo and a fundraising appeal for the group, was sent out on April 29 by Rip McIntosh, an 85-year-old white Florida man who sits on the organization’s advisory council, a board that includes the likes of former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and, until his recent death, GOP mega donor Foster Friess. The newsletter, which McIntosh says has more than 25,000 subscribers and which he sometimes publishes as often as five times a day, is frequently filled with culture war rants, conspiracy theories, racism, and other types of bigotry, but this email stood out even among that toxic stew.

    In an interview, McIntosh said neither Turning Point nor its co-founder Charlie Kirk, whom he considers to be a personal friend, has any role in the publication of his newsletter. McIntosh also denied writing the essay, which was published under the fictitious byline “E.P. Unum.”

    “That’s a nom de plume of a friend,” McIntosh told TPM and The Informant. “He doesn’t want his name out there because he’s a teacher. He doesn’t want to be canceled.”

    The essay, titled “On the Question of Systemic Racism in the United States,” was emailed out just hours after Sen. Tim Scott, a Black Republican from South Carolina, gave a nationally televised speech on behalf of the GOP in which he said “America is not a racist country,” a claim that was debated for days afterward. The essay made no direct mention of the speech, but it closed with a similar phrase: “America is not a racist nation.”

    […] A spokesperson for Turning Point declined to discuss McIntosh’s role with the organization, his friendship with Kirk, or the contents of the email, saying only that Turning Point “does not put out that newsletter.” The spokesperson asked for further questions to be sent by email and then declined to answer them. McIntosh’s name and photo still appear on the organization’s governance page.

    The email marks the latest in a series of racist and bigoted incidents that have dogged Turning Point in recent years as the organization has clawed its way from the far-right fringe into mainstream conservatism, aided in part by its connections to former President Donald Trump.

    […] One of the most prominent examples of racism within the organization came in 2017 when Turning Point parted ways with Crystal Clanton, a white woman who was Kirk’s second-in-command. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, as part of a larger article looking at allegations of racial bias and financial issues within the organization, reported that Clanton sent a text message to a colleague that said: “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all … I hate blacks. End of story.”

    In 2018, HuffPost reported that Shialee Grooman, a white woman who replaced Clanton, had previously used the N-word on social media and bragged, “I love making racist jokes.” The news site also uncovered other examples of Turning Point employees and volunteers using racist and anti-gay slurs in text messages and on social media. […]

    That same year, the Miami New Times uncovered a series of group chats from the TPUSA chapter at Florida International University that showed members engaging in racist, misogynistic, and antisemitic discussions. […]

    At first glance, Henry P. McIntosh IV, who goes by the nickname “Rip,” might seem like an unusual fit to advise a conservative youth organization. But being an octogenarian doesn’t make him an outlier on Turning Point’s advisory council. Foster Friess, who was one of the early donors to the organization, was 81 at the time of his death on May 27. […]

    McIntosh also said a relationship with him comes with certain perks. For Turning Point and its founder, it means a link into the conservative donor class of Palm Beach, Florida, home to both Mar-a-Lago and one of the top three wealthiest zip codes in the U.S.

    […] [snipped description of McIntosh’s $16.2 million trash palace and other details]

    “On the Question of Systemic Racism in the United States” was published by McIntosh in late April. It stood out among the other essays he’d emailed to his subscribers. While many were explicitly racist, this was stark in its length and repeated disparagement of Black people.

    “For almost 150 years the United States has been conducting an interesting experiment. The subjects of the experiment: black people and working-class whites,” the essay said. “The hypothesis to be tested: Can people taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery be fully integrated as citizens in a nation where the majority of its citizens are white?”

    The essay eventually concluded that the “experiment has failed.” It listed the reasons:

    The fundamental problem is that American black culture has evolved into an un-fixable and crime-ridden mess. They do not want to change their culture or society and expect others to tolerate their violence and amoral behavior. They have become socially incompatible with other races by their own design, not because of the racism of others — but by their own hatred of non-blacks. No matter how many dollars are given to them, they believe they are entitled to more because they are descendants of slaves. And, so today, black advocates and politicians pandering to blacks for their votes are now clamoring for “reparations” to compensate blacks for the “sin of slavery.”

    The anti-Black screed was from an author calling himself “E.P. Unum,” who frequently writes original pieces for McIntosh’s newsletter. Unum’s true identity is apparently a secret between the two men. […]

    Many of Unum’s essays for McIntosh’s newsletter are rambling strings of thoughts with no real point. One recent essay, for instance, was titled, “SOME THOUGHTS ON A BEAUTIFUL WEDNESDAY IN MAY.” It touched on COVID-19, the Obama presidency, Unum’s stint as a college baseball player, the American Revolution, and exclamations, such as this, that were uncoupled from any other ideas in the essay: “Maybe it is just me, but I think Melania Trump just exudes class. What a First Lady!”

    Unum’s “Systemic Racism” essay, however, was different. It was almost singularly focused on disparaging Black people. Much of the essay was devoted to a comparison of various races and ethnicities. It depicted Black people as inherently inferior.

    “The whites were descendants of Europeans who had created a majestic civilization,” the essay said. “The former slaves had been tribal peoples with no written language, no unique skill sets, and virtually no intellectual achievements.”

    “And today, unlike the English, Hungarians, Italians, Spanish, Indians, Vietnamese, Asians, blacks blame their lot in life on slavery,” the essay continued. “Why is that?”

    […] Unum copied and pasted more than a quarter of his piece from a 2014 essay that was originally published by the white nationalist website American Renaissance. An automated analysis using the plagiarism checking site Copyleaks showed that about 700 words from Unum’s 2,500-word piece matched the essay published by American Renaissance.

    […] the website plays host to an annual conference attended by the likes of white nationalist Richard Spencer and longtime neo-Nazi David Duke. The website also has sections devoted to “Black on White Crime,” “Racial Differences,” and what it calls “the Demographic Transformation,” a conspiracy theory that’s been the motive for multiple mass killings by white supremacists in recent years.

    […] Unum wrote that his essay was based on an article called “The Black Dilemma,” which he claimed had appeared in The Baltimore Sun newspaper.

    The problem is that no such article exists.

    Unum appears to have fallen for a racist hoax that’s been circulating online since at least 2015. The hoax was simple: It took the American Renaissance essay and changed the attribution to the Baltimore Sun, making it appear more legitimate than it was. Fact-checking website Snopes debunked the misattribution six years ago, but the hoax still persists with the essay occasionally showing up on various online forums. The Sun even maintains a “note to readers” on its website that flatly says any attribution of the essay to the newspaper is false. […]

    “I don’t see myself as a censor,” McIntosh said. “That particular article got more praise than it got derision. I got very little negative feedback on that article.”

  62. Akira MacKenzie says

    Oh, shit. We can’t really ignore this. Trump and his cult followers are out to destroy democracy.

    But it will be ignored, because the only way to deal with Trump and his cult is to violate our “precious,” outdated Bill of Rights, and cowards who make up the Democratic and American liberalism won’t dare do that. They still think “The Process” will save us.

    It won’t.

  63. says

    Guardian – “Top rightwing Brazil newspaper demands removal of Bolsonaro”:

    One of Brazil’s leading conservative newspapers has demanded the removal of the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, as public outrage over his coronavirus response and corruption dragged the rightwing populist’s ratings to their lowest ever level.

    “Jair Bolsonaro is no longer in a position to remain in the presidency,” O Estado de São Paulo declared on Sunday as polls showed that for the first time a majority of citizens backed impeachment and considered their leader incapable of governing.

    Bolsonaro, a former paratrooper and an admirer of Donald Trump, took office in January 2019, using social media to portray himself as a corruption-busting anti-establishment maverick who had come to drain Brazil’s swamp. Critics have long questioned that image, pointing to incessant accusations of low-level corruption and mafia ties that have dogged Bolsonaro’s family.

    The anger appears to have spread across Brazil’s electorate in recent weeks, largely thanks to an unfolding scandal over allegedly corrupt Covid vaccine deals and Bolsonaro’s handling of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 530,000 people.

    Another major newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, said on Saturday that Bolsonaro, who has faced a wave of recent protests, was suffering “a full-scale image meltdown”.

    Datafolha’s poll suggests the leftwing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would trounce Bolsonaro in the 2022 race, with a 20-point gap between the two….

    Growing rightwing calls for Bolsonaro’s impeachment seem partly driven by conservative angst over Lula’s return. Some on the right opposed to the president believe the only way to block the leftist’s path to power is to oust Bolsonaro and confront Lula with a less divisive rightwing candidate.

    Bolsonaro appears to be feeling the heat, apparently trying to distract from the Covid crisis and corruption allegations with a series of anti-democratic outbursts in which he has groundlessly questioned Brazil’s voting system.

    “Either we have clean elections or we won’t have elections,” Bolsonaro declared last week before calling the head of the superior electoral court an imbecile.

    “Everything is going against Bolsonaro and he’s reacting badly,” Cantanhêde said, adding that it was unclear whether his attacks on democracy were “merely ranting” or part of a genuine plot to cling to power with the support of some elements of the armed forces.

    O Estado de S Paulo, which did not oppose Bolsonaro’s election despite his long history of anti-democratic rhetoric, savaged that “explicit threat” to Brazil’s democracy. It called the president “a spoiled child … bedevilled by a succession of moral, political, criminal and administrative misfortunes”.

    “The threats to our institutions and democracy must stop,” the broadsheet said, urging the head of the lower house, Arthur Lira, to start impeachment proceedings, something analysts believe remains unlikely.

  64. says

    From TPM’s live coverage of the sanctions hearing that is not going well for Lin Wood, Sidney Powell and others. The presiding judge is U.S. District Judge Linda Parker for the Eastern District of Michigan.

    […] ‘Kraken’ Lawyer: I’m An Attorney So You Have To Trust Me
    Campbell is now coming down with his definitive argument for why all of these affidavits were filed in good faith.

    “You gotta be able to trust when something is submitted by counsel,” he says. “That should have tremendous value; I would say it ends the discussion on whether there’s good faith to submit it.”

    Parker is not amused.

    “There has to be a showing that you have done some minimal due diligence,” Parker said.

    […] Judge Parker has kept asking over and over what the origin was of an affidavit purporting to document “tens of thousands” of fake votes being uploaded into a voting center.

    None of the “Kraken” attorneys seem to know.

    […] udge Parker is now asking about the amended complaint filed by the “Kraken” team, alleging that boxes of fake Biden votes diluted Trump ones.

    Team “Kraken” again filed affidavits in support of this myth.

    “The court is concerned that these affidavits were submitted in bad faith,” Parker said.

    She focused on one affidavit written by a person purporting to have seen “tens of thousands” of fake votes being loaded into Michigan counting systems.

    “Was there anything in the content that would trigger your duty as counsel to determine whether or not these statements were based in fact?” Parker asked.

    Campbell, the “Kraken” attorney, retorted that the affidavit itself was enough: “What other proof would you have than your own eyes?”

    Kleinhender is trying to shift the blame away, saying that the affidavits were originally filed in a separate lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign.

    After repeated questions from Parker, no “Kraken” attorney has been able to say definitively where the affidavit in question came from.

    […] Judge Parker is zero-ing in on an assertion in a “Kraken” affidavit that a “hand recount” in Michigan’s Antrim county had discovered that votes had been “switched.”

    Fink, for Detroit, points out that “it turns out that Mr. Trump never requested a hand recount in this state.”

    “No hand recount had occurred,” he added.

    But Haller and Campbell are, somehow, continuing to push the idea that it was true.

    “There was a report about it!” Campbell says. “He doesn’t say he was there…this was not a factual assertion.”

    Kleinhendler, another “Kraken” attorney, adds to Judge Parker: “You’re hearing a lot of factual representations by Mr. Fink, I would please ask you to check the record.”

    “I don’t need that cautionary instruction from you, thank you,” Parker replied curtly.

    […] Judge Parker, to the “Kraken” lawyers: “Should an attorney be sanctioned for failing to withdraw allegations that he or she learns to be untrue?”

    This is after one of the “Kraken” lawyers admitted that he did not submit a filing noting that Spyder’s testimony, stating that he was a former “U.S. Military Intelligence Expert,” was false.

    […] Amid all the chaos and crosstalk, Judge Parker is going affidavit by affidavit, asking the attorneys which of them were, in effect, responsible for each filing.

    The Michigan complaint, among others, were “buttressed” by a series of affidavits claiming vast misconduct at the heart of the election. It was a great prop for folks like Rudy Giuliani, who were able to waive around affidavits as supposed proof of fraud in the election.

    […] Wood is doubling down on claiming that he was somehow, improbably, uninvolved in a lawsuit with his name on it and which he promoted.

    “I can’t withdraw from something I’ve never been involved in,” Wood pleaded to Parker.

    “This appears to the court to be an after-the-fact-assessment,” Parker said.

    Wood stuttered in response, saying that he hadn’t even been admitted to the Eastern District of Michigan pro hac vice — a legal term for admitting an attorney to a jurisdiction in which he or she is not licensed to practice.

    Parker says that her district doesn’t use pro hac vice for out-of-district attorneys.

    “When you come into the Eastern District of Michigan, you familiarize yourself with the local district rules,” Parker told Wood.

    “I didn’t come into the district,” Wood retorted, before it devolved into multiple attorneys and the judge yelling at each other.

    Judge Parker just asked Sidney Powell to clear everything up about Lin Wood and whether he was aware of the Michigan lawsuit.

    “I did ask Mr. Wood specifically for permission,” Powell said. “I cannot imagine putting his name on the pleading without asking him to do that.”

    Wood is silent.

    […] Judge Parker is bringing the discussion back to the matter at hand: whether to sanction the “Kraken.”

    “Do you believe that a lawyer has a legal obligation to review the plausibility of the facts alleged in a pleading before signing it and filing it?” she asked Campbell.

    He replied in the affirmative. Parker is now asking which lawyers read which affidavits filed as part of the lawsuit. […]


  65. says

    Guardian – “Georgian cameraman dies after attack by far-right, anti-LGBTQ mob”:

    A Georgian TV cameraman has died after being badly beaten by far-right assailants during a protest against an LGBTQ Pride march, his station said on Sunday, as pressure mounts on authorities over attacks on journalists.

    Alexander Lashkarava, a 37-year-old cameraman working for the independent station TV Pirveli, was found dead in his bed in the early hours on Sunday, the channel reported.

    Last Monday he was assaulted by a violent mob of anti-LGBTQ protesters and sustained fractures to his facial bones.

    More than 50 journalists were attacked that day by anti-LGBTQ groups protesting against the planned Pride march in Tbilisi, which was cancelled due to safety fears.

    Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the attacks, saying journalists “sustained injuries that included concussion, chemical burns and broken arms”.

    It accused authorities of “culpable passivity” and said police had failed to protect journalists.

    Prominent Georgian TV personalities and managers have accused Garibashvili’s government of orchestrating a violent campaign against journalists.

    “The government not only encourages violence against journalists, it is part of the violence,” Nodar Meladze, TV Pirveli’s news editor, told AFP.

    “The government has set up violent groups to attack independent media,” he said, adding: “Riot police have also repeatedly targeted journalists.”

    In June 2019, riot police injured 40 journalists covering an anti-government protest.

    Garibashvili has faced strong criticism from the opposition and rights activists after he spoke out against holding the Pride march, describing it as “unacceptable for a large segment of Georgian society”.

    Critics have accused [ugh] the ruling Georgian Dream party of tacitly supporting homophobic and nationalist groups, which have also staged protests against pro-western opposition parties.

  66. says

    California wildfire rages out of control, Death Valley hits 130 degrees

    California is experiencing its largest wildfire this year and record-breaking temperatures.

    California’s Beckwourth Complex Fire is the product of two lightning-ignited fires that combined.

    The fire has spread to 86,076 acres, making it the state’s largest wildfire this year.

    Death Valley’s temperature reached 130 degrees on Friday, beating the previous record-high for July 9 in the area of 129 degrees in 1913. […]

  67. says

    Wonkette: “Conservative Anti-Vax Movement Straight-Up Killing People”

    COVID-19 patients are overwhelming the ER at Cox Medical Center South in Springfield, Missouri. Medical personnel are working extra shifts to keep up. It’s July 2021, and these patients are all willingly unvaccinated. Many have died. They weren’t all elderly or otherwise vulnerable. Dr. Howard Jarvis has treated patients in their 40s, 30s, even teenagers. Dr. Jarvis described a 50-year-old man who struggled to breathe and “couldn’t stand up for more than 30 seconds from his illness.”

    None of these patients were vaccinated, which left them defenseless against the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19. There were more than 100 COVID-19 hospitalizations at Cox last week. They briefly ran out of ventilators at Mercy Hospital Springfield over the Fourth of July weekend […] Last week’s 129 hospitalizations at Mercy Springfield were greater than in December at the height of the pandemic. The doctors and nurses are frustrated and pissed off. They thought this was behind us.

    Dr. Jarvis said:

    “Early on, there was only so much you could do to prevent yourself from getting it. Now, it’s a really conscious choice that ‘I don’t need to get a vaccination.’ There’s a different level of frustration because we’re seeing something that we really don’t have to be seeing.”

    Thirty-nine percent of Missouri residents are fully vaccinated, which is one of the lowest rates in the US. Springfield’s Greene County is worse at 34 percent, according to state figures. The surrounding 19 counties are in the 20s. In McDonald County, in southwest Missouri, the rate is a pitiful 14 percent. […]

    Retiring GOP Senator Roy Blunt at least has a pinned tweet from an April 29 where he suggested that Missourians at least “consider getting a vaccine.” […]

    He said in an interview that he believed the “early reluctance to get a vaccine is going to move in another direction.” Unfortunately, that other direction is not a sane one. Conservatives have collectively embraced an anti-vax position. Some of them are just morons, such as GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who last week implied that people can Crossfit the Covid away. […]

    Republicans have callously chosen to oppose vaccination to own the libs. At “CPAC 2021: America UnCancelled” (and apparently unvaccinated), the know-nothing crowd cheered the fact that the government hasn’t reached its vaccination goals. What they are cheering is needless suffering and death. Conservatives have often done this in the abstract, when they’d applaud Paul Ryan’s domestic agenda, but literally whooping it up because Americans are foolishly exposing themselves to a deadly virus is far worse. As Never Trumper Charlie Sykes wrote for the Bulwark, Republicans are demonstrating a “depraved indifference to human life.”

    Tracy Hill, a nurse at Mercy Springfield, recalled how she wept for joy after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in December. She thought it was the “beginning of the end.” Six months later, after watching another unvaccinated patient die, she weeps from anger and frustration.

    I’ve cried at work in the bathroom. I’ve cried in my car. I cry to my family. What saddens me most is just always thinking about this is someone’s life cut short, and it’s so unnecessary.

    Republicans, many of whom are themselves vaccinated, prance and preen at CPAC while spreading willful ignorance that’s proving more lethal than any virus. “Depraved indifference” is almost too benign a description for their actions.


  68. says

    Guardian – “Thousands march in Cuba in rare mass protests amid economic crisis”:

    The biggest mass demonstrations for three decades have rippled through Cuba, as thousands took to the streets in cities throughout the island, demonstrating against food shortages, high prices and communist rule.

    The protests began in the morning, in the town of San Antonio de los Baños in the west of the island, and in the city of Palma Soriano in the east. In both cases protesters numbered in the hundreds.

    With millions of Cubans now with mobile internet on their phones, news of the protests quickly swept to Havana. By early afternoon, thousands marched through central Havana, chanting “homeland and life” and “freedom”.

    “I’m here because of hunger, because there’s no medicine, because of power cuts – because there’s a lack of everything,” said a man in his 40s who didn’t want to give his name for fear of reprisals.

    “I want a total change: a change of government, multiparty elections, and the end of communism.”

    The protesters were met by uniformed and plainclothes police officers, who bundled hundreds of demonstrators – many of them violent – into police cars. Youths tore up paving slabs and hurled them at police; police used pepper spray and beat protesters with truncheons.

    Government supporters accused anti-government protesters of being mercenaries paid by the United States, which spend approximately 20 million dollars a year on “democracy promotion” on the island.

    As evening fell, state forces and supporters had reclaimed the streets.

    Cubans are living through the gravest economic crisis the country has known for 30 years. The Trump administration hammered the island with more than 200 new sanctions aimed at sabotaging the island’s’ economy and stirring discontent, measures that have so far been left untouched by the Biden administration.

    An official in the Biden administration tweeted support for Sunday’s demonstrations….

  69. says

    Here’s a link to the July 12 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Dutch PM apologises for relaxing Covid restrictions too soon as cases surge

    Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte apologised for relaxing coronavirus restrictions too soon as cases surge in the wake of reopening.

    Rutte reimposed measures on bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the Netherlands as cases spread rapidly among young people, just two weeks after lifting curbs, according to Reuters. Restaurants and bars will have their opening hours restricted during midnight to 6am, while clubs will be closed entirely.

    “What we thought would be possible, turned out not to be possible in practice,” Rutte told reporters on Monday. “We had poor judgement, which we regret and for which we apologise.”

    Infection levels in the Netherlands have risen to their highest levels of this year in recent days. However, as most case are young people, the rise in infections has yet to lead to a significant increase in hospitalisations – but the health minister, Hugo de Jonge, warned this could change if the “unprecedented” increase continues.

    A World Health Organization scientist has said that watching last night’s Euro 2020 final felt “devastating” – a sentiment felt by many in England, but she wasn’t talking about the score.

    The WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, said the virus “will take advantage of unvaccinated people” as unmasked crowds sang and shouted at the football final in London on Sunday.

    She warned that the pandemic is “not taking a break tonight” as Delta variant cases surge. Her remarks comes as England prepares to end restrictions – including mask-wearing and social distancing rules – in a week’s time.

    Sajid Javid has confirmed the plan to end restrictions in England on the 19th.

  70. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    Police Arrest Man Who Planned to Assume Haitian Presidency as More U.S. Ties Emerge

    More arrests have been made in connection with last week’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Christian Emmanuel Sanon is accused of working with the masterminds who plotted the killing, after flying into Haiti on a private jet. He is believed to be a Haitian-born, Florida-based doctor. Police say he planned to assume the presidency and use the men involved in the killing as part of his security team. Haiti’s police chief said his forces are working with Colombian officials. So far, 26 Colombians, including former soldiers, are suspected of being involved in the killing; 18 of them have been arrested, along with three Haitians. The arrested Colombians were reportedly recruited by a Miami-area security firm called CTU Security. Five suspects remain at large. Two Haitian Americans who were arrested last week claim to have been acting as interpreters. The U.S. said it is sending senior FBI and DHS officials to Port-au-Prince, but has so far denied requests to send troops to Haiti. Meanwhile, unrest is growing in Haiti amid the political turmoil and the worsening economic crisis.

    Haiti is also struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic as the country has yet to see a single vaccine.

    COVID Cases on the Rise in 42 U.S. States; CDC Urges Schools to Reopen in Fall

    COVID-19 cases rose in 42 U.S. states over the past week as the vaccination rate has slowed down and the more transmissible Delta variant spreads. Over 99% of U.S. COVID deaths in June were among unvaccinated people.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines urging schools to fully reopen in the fall but leaving major decisions in the hands of local officials. The CDC said fully vaccinated students can mostly forgo mask-wearing, even when inside, but that three feet of distance between children should be maintained if possible, and six feet between adults or between adults and students.

    In New York City, officials were forced to halt the transfer of unhoused people from empty hotel rooms to congregate shelters after the Legal Aid Society filed a motion saying it was a violation of people with disabilities and certain health conditions.

    Racist Trolls Attack England Soccer Team’s Black Players After Loss to Italy in Euro 2020

    In sports news, England’s Football Association is condemning racist attacks on social media aimed at Black players on the national team following their loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final Sunday. England lost to Italy 3 to 2 during penalty kicks. The English team responded on Twitter, “We’re disgusted that some of our squad — who have given everything for the shirt this summer — have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online … We stand with our players.”

    Biden Signs Order to Combat Monopolies, Low Wages

    President Biden issued a wide-ranging executive order Friday to curb anti-competitive practices, which he said stifle economic growth and lock workers into low-wage jobs.

    Included in the executive order are provisions calling on federal agencies to more thoroughly scrutinize mergers; support for states and tribal governments that import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada; and for the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality for broadband.

    62-Year-Old Hervis Earl Rogers Faces 40 Years in Prison for “Illegal Voting” in Texas

    In Texas, an African American man who waited over six hours to cast a vote in March of 2020 faces up to 40 years in prison for “illegal voting.” Sixty-two-year-old Hervis Earl Rogers was arrested on Wednesday and charged with violating a Texas law barring people with felony convictions from casting ballots. He remained in jail for three days until the nonprofit group The Bail Project paid his $100,000 bail. Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered Rogers’s arrest just before the start of a special legislative session in Texas in which Republicans are pressing new voter suppression laws — and trying to make it more difficult for people arrested to post cash bail. On Tuesday, President Biden is set to deliver a major voting rights speech in Philadelphia.

    California on Pace for Worst-Ever Wildfire Season as 300,000 Acres Burn in Western U.S.

    In western Arizona, two firefighters were killed Saturday when their plane crashed as they surveyed the Cedar Basin Fire. It’s one of thousands of wildfires burning on over 300,000 acres in six western states. California’s largest wildfire exploded in size to nearly 84,000 acres Sunday, fueled by a withering drought and scorching-hot temperatures. The Beckwourth Complex Fire has spread into neighboring Nevada and is only about 8% contained. So far this year, California has seen 115 square miles consumed by wildfires, more than double what had burned at this point in 2020’s record-setting fire season.

    Records Fall in Las Vegas and Palm Springs as Western U.S. Suffers Latest Heat Wave

    The fires came as record heat returned to part of the western United States over the weekend, fueled by the climate crisis. Las Vegas tied an all-time record high of 117 degrees Fahrenheit; Palm Springs, California, hit a record 120 degrees; and the overnight low in Phoenix on Friday was 93 degrees. Maricopa County officials have logged over 100 suspected heat-related deaths so far this year. Death Valley hit 130 degrees on Sunday for just the fifth time ever — tied for the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. And in the Arctic Circle, the town of Banak in northern Norway reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit last week — hotter than the highest temperature recorded in Miami, Florida, this year.

    Rachel Maddow reported on the Hervis Earl Rogers case last week: “Texas Charges Man Who Waited Six Hours To Vote With Illegal Voting.” Enraging.

  71. says

    Jessica Huseman:

    Breaking: Texas Democrats are walking out to deny Republicans a quorum, which will prevent the passage of their elections bill, the trans bill, their bail bill, and everything else. They will have to leave the state for weeks. The last time they did this was in 2003.

    I spoke to @BetoORourke at the Texas Capitol yesterday, he said that he hoped if Democrats walked they’d go to DC and sit on the steps of the Capitol, forcing their federal counterparts to walk by them, realizing they haven’t done enough to help.

  72. says

    Re: Lynna 74
    Replace “affidavit” with “testamonial evidence” and it takes the same form as every other Trump and Trumpkin just saying there is fraud, link-dropping supposed “proof” without a shred of ability to describe the contents. I feel like we will need lots of people making “citation and demonstration needed” a cultural value.

    Trump has a smart phone, demand he shows his evidence every time he mentions it. Demand he puts it on his blog. I would do it if I were present. He’d act like just asking is rude and that is a major part of the problem.

    When I asked Trumpkin liars to see the steal for myself I got excuses about evidence needing processed (which is why I call them liars, they don’t have knowledge of a present tense steal, the have belief). That is a core behavior to challenge, resistance to reasonable demands for the bad thing they claim to see. Tying reputation to behavior in our own communities.

  73. blf says

    As part of the Granuiad’s 200 years anniversary, they’re running a Before My Time series, where the present incumbent of a position discuss — interviewing when possible — a previous incumbent of the same(-ish) position. Some snippets from Nazis, fear and violence: when reporting from Berlin was dangerous, by the present-day Berlin correspondent, Philip Oltermann, writes about a predecessor, Frederick Voigt, the Granuiad’s correspondent in Berlin 1920–1932 (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Within months of arriving in Germany, while covering the Ruhr miners’ uprising in Essen, he was kidnapped by rogue Reichswehr officers who accused him of being a spy, stood him against a wall and peppered the space around his head with bullets. His write-up of the incident, which named the officer who maltreated him and described the squalid conditions of other prisoners, earned him an official apology from the German chancellor.

    His 1926 exclusive on a covert collaboration between the Reichswehr and the Soviet Red Army brought the German government to collapse. Other journalists would have known of the secret deal, which was common knowledge among European intelligence agencies, just as they would have known that making it public risked being sent to prison for treason in Germany. They decided not to publish. Voigt did.

    Most important of all, while living through and reporting on this tumultuous and disorientating decade in European history, Voigt managed to keep a steady eye on the most important story on his patch — the rise of nazism — realising soon it wasn’t one to which he could afford to give the “both sides” treatment.

    Technology has changed the possibilities — and requirements — of our jobs beyond recognition. Freddy Voigt had to wire in his copy every day by 6pm. Anything sent through after that would miss the first edition, which put the Manchester Guardian correspondent at a disadvantage to those of the London newspapers, who had until 9pm to compose their thoughts. Often the challenge of gathering information was easier than getting it to the typesetters in Manchester.

    One of the most interesting pieces in Voigt’s correspondence is a kind of confession. The challenges of writing about Hitler’s Germany, he once told his editor in London, was that the political situation was so abnormal “that I fear the driest account of it must seem like a piece of sensationalism”. As a result, he said about a recently submitted report in 1932, “I have described him {Hitler} as mildly as possible in my article, simply because I want to avoid raising incredulity.”

    Voigt excelled at spelling out realities that other correspondents refused to see. The Manchester Guardian’s man in Berlin first reported of “Jew baiting” in 1921 and warned of the threat of a national socialist dictatorship in the autumn of 1930. He continued to report unflinchingly on what he called Hitler’s “Brown Terror” while the other British newspapers soft-focused their articles in accordance with their government’s appeasement policy. The rise of the Nazis, he warned his editor WP Crozier in March 1933, was “the biggest historical event since the Great War”.

    By then Voigt was reporting on German developments from Paris via correspondence with his expansive network of contacts, having become the first international correspondent to have been expelled from the Third Reich.

    Around Christmas 1933 he was informed by French officials of an imminent planned attack on his offices, to seize his papers and notes — or so he initially thought. He later learned that the Gestapo’s intention was to assassinate him. Three French intelligence officers were assigned for his protection, one sleeping in his room, with an automatic pistol “of such size that I’m sure it must come under the category of heavy armaments”.

  74. says

    From Raffi Melkonian’s livetweeting of the Kraken sanctions hearing:

    …Campbell just gave an incredibly disrespectful answer to the Court. Just shocking behavior. Basically, he said something like “I can’t believe you’re wasting your own time on these sanctions.”

    The Court made absolutely clear she was not amused.

    If I said what Campbell said above to a judge I would expect to be sanctioned.

    This is “bring a toothbrush to court” territory where I practice.

    I want to be clear here: the Court is entering some kind of sanctions against these lawyers. Which lawyers, exactly, I don’t know. How severe, I don’t know. But the Court has made up its mind about the lying….

  75. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    At the request of the Supreme Court, Brazil’s federal police has formally opened a probe into President Jair Bolsonaro related to alleged irregularities in the purchase of an Indian vaccine and could now question him, a source told Reuters.

    The president has been caught up in allegations of irregularities surrounding the 1.6 billion reais ($316 million) contract signed in February for 20 million doses with a Brazilian intermediary for the vaccine*s maker, Bharat Biotech.

    A Brazilian Senate commission investigating the administration’s handling of the pandemic has cited suspicions of overpricing and corruption related to the contract. Some senators have alleged that Bolsonaro did not immediately look into allegations of wrongdoing when he was alerted.

    After the reports of irregularities became public, the government suspended the contract.

    Brazilian federal prosecutors and the comptroller general’s office, or CGU, are also separately investigating the alleged irregularities in the deal. Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing.

  76. blf says

    Here in France, President Macron has announced (as expected) that vaccination is now compulsory for heathworkers. In addition, a valid “health pass” (see @37) will be required for many activities, such as visiting a restaurant. Mandatory vaccination, Covid-19 pass and access to PCR tests: the main points of Macron’s address:

    Macron explained that the government was striving to achieve a 100% vaccination rate across the country.

    Vaccination will become mandatory for all health workers. Macron urged them to be inoculated by September 15, after which they could face potential sanctions or fines. Vaccination is a “matter of individual responsibility … but also a matter of our freedom”, the president added.

    He announced that a vaccination campaign for high school, secondary school and primary school students will begin when school starts again in September. [everyone aged 12 and over is already eligible for a vaccination –blf]


    PCR tests will no longer be free of charge from the autumn, unless they are obtained with a prescription, Macron said. It is hoped the measure will drive up vaccination rates by encouraging people to get the vaccine rather than just repeated Covid-19 tests.

    Soon after the president’s address, France’s online health portal crashed because of too many people trying to book vaccination appointments.

    “This summer will be a summer of economic recovery,” he stated, adding that the ‘health passport’ — a QR code or certificate proving that the holder has a negative Covid-19 test, is fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19 — will be required throughout different establishments in France from August, including bars, restaurants, cafés and shopping centres [also trains, etc., I believe –blf].

    And, of course, encouragement to continue masking, social distancing, etc. A recent trend here in the village is the return of the handshake and la bise (cheek kissing).

    I don’t know if you’ll be required to scan the venue’s own QR code into the track-and-trace app. At the moment, at least here in the village, very few establishments have put up QR codes, and I’m just about the only person who seems to “scan in”. (A few places use paper lists (logs) instead, but most don’t seem to bother at all.)

  77. says

    Brony @84:

    I feel like we will need lots of people making “citation and demonstration needed” a cultural value.

    I agree.

    In sort of related news: On CNN yesterday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said anti-vaccination rhetoric from Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (D-Colo.) represents “absolute insanity.” The Illinois Republican added, “My party has been hijacked. It is on the way to the ground.”

  78. says

    Follow-up to comment 64.

    […] This weekend hysteria [at CPAC] over the vaccine comes as Republican state legislatures around the U.S. are proposing legislation that protects the unvaccinated from “discrimination.” As Axios reported, many of these bills mirror language used to protect people from discrimination based on race, gender and religion. Some states are pushing for laws that prevent businesses from treating unvaccinated costumers differently than the vaxxed. Others seek to ban the concept of a “vaccine passport” in the state. The White House has maintained for months it will not enact any type of federal vaccination mandate.

    In states like Montana, the language of the new law literally mentions an “immunity passport” and prevents businesses from refusing to serve people who don’t have the shot. Most bills in other state are a bit more limited in scope, but a common thread that Axios noted in its report: many of the states considering these laws preventing vaccine requirements have much lower vaccination rates than other states. And cases are on the rise in some of them.

    Nearly all of this vaccine hesitancy and vaccine fear mongering is rooted in politics. […]


  79. says

    Follow-up to SC @94.

    A far-right congressional candidate in Orange County, California called on his supporters to “Confront Katie Porter” in an Instagram post that featured the walk-up music of a pro wrestler.

    And on Sunday, candidate Nick Taurus did just that, leading a crew of supporters loudly heckling the Democratic California congresswoman at the start of an outdoor town hall event at a park in Irvine. The confrontation then escalated into a brief scuffle, the details of which remain unclear.

    The fighting was over within a few minutes. Karie Davies, a spokesperson for the Irvine Police Department, told TPM “this is an active investigation.”

    “What I can tell you is there were opposing views and it got heated,” Davies said. “One party pushed the other and it escalated to punches being thrown. One person was arrested for assault and battery and was released from the scene with a citation.”

    The arrestee was a Porter supporter, Davies said.

    “According to the report, someone on the opposition was pushed by a supporter and that caused pushing back and forth,” she added. “Ultimately an opposer was punched in the face by a supporter, suffering a bloody nose. Our officers were there for the event and were able to get control pretty quickly. The supporter was arrested for assault and battery and was released from the scene with a citation.”

    A reporter from the Los Angeles Times who was present at the rally, Seema Mehta, reported afterward that she could not tell who threw the first punch, but that “it wasn’t a bench-clearing brawl.” Limited video from part of the scuffle showed some pushing and shoving before police broke things up.

    “A few [Porter supporters] confronted protesters, resulting in punches being thrown and men falling to the ground,” the Times reported. “Porter rushed to the scuffle, wrapping her arms around an elderly woman near the scrum.”

    Though Taurus later denied that he intended for his protest to get violent, Porter said in a statement that he had created “unsafe conditions.”

    “It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a ‘confrontation rally,’ created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event,” Porter said. “While I absolutely respect their right to disagree, their disturbance disrespected all the families who attended and were ready to engage in a thoughtful, civil, and safe way.”

    […] In an Instagram post calling his supporters to the event — featuring the walk-up music of Kurt Angle, the former WWE star — Taurus wrote, “Please join the Taurus Campaign this Sunday (07/11/21) at 2:30PM to demand AMERICA BE PUT FIRST and send Carpetbagger Katie back to the Iowa farm she came from!”

    […] Notably, Taurus implied in the video that the local Republican Party had been involved in the stunt.

    “We were instructed to do this — or not instructed, I guess I took the impetus myself to go form this event — but the OC GOP, or someone in a local GOP chapter, went out and sent an invitation for us to go and ask questions and kind of go out and press her a bit regarding everything she’s doing in the 45th district,” Taurus said.

    He said separately, “We decided to go down after being prompted by the local GOP and to kind of make our voices heard.” […]


  80. says

    Follow-up to comment 100. The Nick Taurus quote in the article did not includes this: “TOGETHER WE WILL DEFEAT THE GLOBALISTS!”

    So yeah, he posted that. He also posted: “I am an American nationalist and Roman Catholic who is most concerned with addressing the issues surrounding immigration, vaccination and Critical Race Theory.”

  81. blf says

    I stumbled across this by accident, whilst searching for something else entirely. Apparently, in September, a book by the notorious genocidal mass-killer by Robert F Kennedy Jr, the anti-vax loon, will be released, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health (Children’s Health Defense). A snippet from the description:

    Working in tandem with his long-term partner, billionaire Bill Gates, to corral Americans toward a single vaccine solution to COVID, Dr Fauci committed zero dollars to studying or promoting early treatment with various drug combinations that could dramatically reduce deaths and hospitalizations. Meanwhile, in an assault on our First Amendment guarantee of free speech, Dr Fauci’s Silicon Valley and media allies dutifully censored criticism of his policies on mainstream social media and collaborated to muzzle any medical information about therapies and treatments that might end the pandemic and compete with vaccines.

    Yadda, yadda, yadda. Sadly, at Amazon it’s the “#1 Best Seller in Immunology”.

  82. says

    The Trump Organization has removed longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg as an officer at some of its subsidiaries, after prosecutors accused him and the company of a 15-year tax-fraud scheme, according to public filings and people familiar with the matter.

    The removal of Mr. Weisselberg as an officer from multiple Trump Organization entities comes amid discussions of potential changes in the chief financial officer’s duties, responsibilities and possibly title at former President Donald Trump’s company, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump family since 1973, is expected to remain at the company, the people said.

    One company that is facing charges in the same criminal case, Trump Payroll Corp., previously listed Mr. Weisselberg as treasurer, director, vice president and secretary on Florida Department of State business records. Now Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is listed as executive vice president, director, secretary, treasurer and vice president on records filed late last week. His son Eric Trump is now listed as president, director and chairman on those records.

    Trump Payroll is run by Trump Organization employees and processes payroll for company staff, according to an indictment in New York state court. In 2015 and 2016, Mr. Trump was listed as the only officer of Trump Payroll, according to Florida records. Mr. Trump wasn’t charged in the case. […]

    Wall Street Journal link

  83. says

    NBC News:

    The remains of four more people have been recovered from the rubble at the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, that partially collapsed last month, raising the confirmed death toll to 94 as officials said victim identification was growing more challenging the deeper crews dig into the debris. Of the 94 confirmed dead, 83 victims have been identified, and 80 of those families notified, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Monday.

  84. says

    Follow-up to comments 74 (me) 90 (Brony), 87 and 92 (SC).

    A group of attorneys who sought to overturn the 2020 election doubled down on the effort in a sanctions hearing in federal court in Detroit on Monday, enraging a federal judge as they pushed for one last chance to explain to the world how the election was stolen.

    “We would file the same complaints again,” lead “Kraken” attorney Sidney Powell told U.S. District Judge Linda Parker for the Eastern District of Michigan. “We would welcome the opportunity to actually prove our case; no court has ever given us the opportunity. Instead we have been met with proceedings like this.”

    Powell attended the virtual hearing with co-counsel Lin Wood, Howard Kleinhendler, and others to argue against potential sanctions from the judge for failing to conduct basic due diligence on 960 pages of affidavits supporting the lawsuit, which sought to have GOP electors from Michigan replace the Democrats chosen by the state’s voters.

    But faced with claims that they had bamboozled and deceived the court, with potentially serious consequences, Powell and her fellow attorneys showed no sign of contrition. Instead, they were combative, condescending to the judge, unrepentant, and devoid of self-awareness.

    They repeatedly pushed for an evidentiary hearing that would allow them to trot out dozens of affiants who had made already-debunked claims and to relitigate a series of baseless and bonkers complaints about the 2020 election.

    In one exchange, Judge Parker told counsel, “I think it’s wrong for an affidavit to be submitted as evidentiary support if there’s been no minimal vetting.”

    “How am I supposed to draw evidence from it?” she added.

    Don Campbell, an attorney hired by Wood and Powell, replied with a sneer: “It’s called an evidentiary hearing.”

    The “Kraken” attorneys face the prospect of serious sanctions: the state of Michigan and city of Detroit are asking Judge Parker to force them to pay for the costs of the case, and for her to refer the attorneys to the chief judge for the Eastern District of Michigan for potential banning from the district, and to their home bar associations to have their law licenses revoked.

    That did not deter them.

    Throughout the hearing, Parker went affidavit-by-affidavit, asking the assembled “Kraken” team whether they had done any work to verify whether the allegations were true, or if they even passed a basic smell test.

    Parker was met with silence or anger each time she asked. […]

    Throughout the hearing, the “Kraken” attorneys also struggled to find documents that Judge Parker asked for.

    “I’m a little surprised that counsel is coming to a sanctions hearing and does not have the documents they filed in front of them,” she said at one point.

    Judge Parker alternated between shock and outrage at the attorneys behavior.

    “I would caution you not to question my procedure,” she told Campbell at one point.

    “I’m not a potted plant,” he replied.

    […] Lin Wood, one of the wildest conspiracy theorists involved in the attempt to overturn the election, frantically tried to distance himself from the lawsuit.

    “I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Wood, whose name is on the complaint, told the judge. Later, Powell told Parker that she had asked Wood for permission to put his name on the complaint before doing so.

    […] The hearing reached its crescendo when Parker brought up an affidavit in which the sole basis for a fraud allegation was that the document’s author was “perplexed” by something he noticed.

    Campbell, the attorney hired to defend the “Kraken,” replied to the judge: “Objectively — seriously? The word ‘perplexed’ is what you think is worth all the time and effort of all these attorneys, the court and your clerks?”

    Parker retorted: “Did you really think it was worth it to file in support of your claims that have taken up time energy and space over the past several months?”


  85. says

    Follow-up to comment 108.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I thought Team Kraken might have had a moment of clarity when they hired counsel to represent them in connection with the sanctions, but boy howdy was I ever wrong. Sounds like the Campbell clown is cut from the same lunatic conspiracy cloth as his clients.
    Doubling down on idiocy. Sidney Powell says that she’s never been able to show evidence to the court. Judge Parker just spent 6 hours begging them to show even a shred of evidence. Very sad that they’re throwing away their legal careers.
    When your this deep in the MAGA mud, you might as well just keep digging.

    The only true question is whether the courts are finally going to sanction Team Kraken for abusing and misusing the court’s time.
    Sidney Powell is giving some speech about how she isn’t liable but also taking “full responsibility” for the briefs. She even says her conduct was “consistent with the highest traditions of law” and says this case is like Brown v. Board (sort of).
    Contemptible assholes. Corrupt assholes. Self-righteous assholes. Fascist assholes. Immoral assholes. There’s a common thread going on here…
    Their submissions did consume time before real judges, and were found to be crapola. They’ve already had their evidentiary hearing (in effect), and went down in flames. Now the court is asking why they shouldn’t be punished for having wasted the court’s time.
    They’re being paid to be shameless, even before a federal judge, even at the risk of losing their case, sanctions, and disbarment. But by who? Surely not Trump!

  86. says

    Here’s a link to the July 13 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Russia sets new record daily toll of 780 Covid deaths

    Gleb Stolyarov reports for Reuters that Russia has recorded 780 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as 24,702 new cases nationwide.

    Russia is in the grips of a surge in cases that authorities have blamed on the contagious Delta variant and the slow rate of vaccinations. Moscow, where the mayor has said the situation is beginning to stabilise, reported 4,991 new Covid cases.

    Iraq Covid hospital fire death toll at least 66

    The death toll in a fire that spread through a coronavirus hospital in southern Iraq rose to 66, health officials have said, as an angry crowd blaming local authorities for negligence gathered near the city’s morgue.

    Reuters reports that more than 100 others were injured in last night’s fire in the city of Nassiriya, which an initial investigation showed began when sparks from faulty wiring spread to an oxygen tank that then exploded, local police and civil defence authorities said.

    In April, a similar explosion at Baghdad Covid-19 hospital killed at least 82 and injured 110. The head of Iraq’s semi-official Human Rights Commission said the blast showed how ineffective safety measures in a health system crippled by war and sanctions still were.

    Anger spread among people gathered at Nassiriya’s morgue as they waited to receive relatives’ bodies….

    Prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had ordered the suspension and arrest of health and civil defence managers in Nassiriya, as well as the al-Hussain hospital’s manager, his office said.

  87. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    More than 20,000 French people a minute booked vaccine appointments in the hours after Emmanuel Macron announced that cafés, restaurants, shopping malls and trains would be out of bounds for unvaccinated customers from next month….

  88. says

    The Hill – “Abbott says Democratic lawmakers will be arrested when they return to Texas”:

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday said the Democratic lawmakers who left the state earlier that day to deny Republicans a quorum to convene a special legislative session and consider a sweeping elections reform bill will be arrested upon their return to the Lone Star State.

    Abbott on Monday vowed to arrest the lawmakers who fled, and hold them inside the state Capitol “until they get their job done.”

    “If these people want to be hanging out wherever they’re hanging out on this taxpayer-paid junket, they’re going to have to be prepared to do it for well over a year. As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” Abbott told local station KVUE.

    He said the Speaker of the state House can also “issue a call to have these members arrested.”

    The governor added that he “can and I will continue to call a special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year.

  89. blf says

    Follow-up to me@97 and SC@111, Nearly one million people book vaccinations in France as Macron announces Covid restrictions (possibly paywalled):

    The prospect of having to take a test for every meal or drink out appeared to have an instant impact on many unvaccinated people, with the main websites used to book appointments for a jab reporting a surge in visits.


    The huge surge in bookings prompted many French people to joke that only the threat of being barred from restaurants of cafés was enough to persuade the French to get vaccinated.


    ‘You risk dying’
    ‘I don’t give a flying fuck’
    ‘You won’t be able to go to bistros’
    ‘Ok, injection in the buttock or the arm?’


  90. says

    GOP’s McCarthy makes a weak pitch against the Jan. 6 committee

    House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has made a variety of arguments against the Jan. 6 special select committee. They’re all wildly unpersuasive.

    It’s been two weeks since House members voted to create a special select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Soon after, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled her selections for the panel, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), at least for now, has refused to say whether he’ll nominate any members to participate in the probe.

    In the meantime, however, the GOP leader has presented a variety of arguments against the existence of the select committee, each of which are wildly unpersuasive. Let’s take them one at a time.

    June 25: McCarthy argued, “The FBI is the appropriate place to investigate.”

    The FBI is a law enforcement agency. It is not tasked with examining how and why the insurrectionist attack occurred, how other federal departments responded, or making recommendations on how best to prevent future violence in the Capitol. The idea that Justice Department investigations into suspected rioters are a substitute for studying the attack itself is plainly foolish.

    July 2: Mike Shields, top strategist for McCarthy, said the Jan. 6 riot “affects no one’s lives in this country.”

    This is an argument that the most serious attack on the citadel of our government since the War of 1812 isn’t worthy of an investigation, since the pro-Trump riot just wasn’t that important. Among the obvious problems with this is that McCarthy said largely the opposite six months ago, when he publicly endorsed a congressional “fact-finding” probe into the insurrectionist violence.

    July 8: McCarthy complained that on the newly created investigatory panel doesn’t have an equal number of members from both parties and “only Democrats have subpoena power.”

    […] As McCarthy really ought to understand, Democratic officials reached a bipartisan agreement with Republicans on an independent commission in which there would be an equal number of members from both parties and it would’ve been impossible to issue subpoenas the GOP didn’t like. McCarthy and other Republican leaders promptly killed the compromise deal after it had been negotiated.

    July 8: McCarthy argued, “This is the least bipartisan committee you can find.”

    Well, no, actually it’s not. For one thing, Pelosi voluntarily chose a conservative, red-state Republican member for her slate of committee investigators — which is the opposite of being partisan — and McCarthy has been invited to nominate additional Republicans, which would leave Democrats with a narrow seven-to-six advantage. For another, if McCarthy wanted a bipartisan panel, he and his party shouldn’t have rejected the offer in which Democrats accepted all of the GOP’s demands. […]

  91. says

    Kristi Noem seems to be campaigning on the fact that she killed a bunch of people in South Dakota.

    It’s not a secret that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is trying to position herself for a national campaign [for president]. […]

    appearing at a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event where she boasted, “South Dakota is the only state in America that never ordered a single business or church to close. We never instituted a shelter-in-place order. We never mandated that people wear masks. We never even defined what an essential business is.”

    It was around this same time that the governor added that her “unique” approach to the pandemic helped South Dakota persevere through the crisis “better than virtually every other state.” It was a boast that didn’t make any sense, given the state’s brutal infection and fatality rates, but Noem pushed the line anyway.

    Over the weekend, she appeared at another CPAC gathering, and seemed determined to use her passivity toward COVID as a selling point.

    “We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states; that they didn’t close their regions; that they didn’t mandate masks,” said the potential 2024 White House contender as she drew an implicit but obvious contrast to leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who took a more restrictive approach in their states…. “South Dakota did not do any of those (measures). We didn’t mandate. We trusted our people and it told them that personal responsibility was the best answer.”

    […] While leaders in other states at least tried to stem the tide in the hopes of saving lives, Noem simply wished her constituents luck.

    The governor now sees this as something worth bragging about, as if her disinterest in policymaking really was “the best answer.” Except, it wasn’t: on a per capita basis, South Dakota has been one of the worst states in the nation for COVID-19 infections.

    It’s one thing for a governor to fail. It’s something else for that governor to try to deliberately use her failures to advance her ambitions.

    As for Noem’s insistence that promoting “personal responsibility” was preferable to actual public-health governance, a Washington Post analysis summarized the problem nicely:

    What’s fascinating about this argument is that it’s actually immune to a seemingly challenging response — um, but a lot of people died — using a straightforward rhetorical trick: pinning those deaths on the personal choices of the dead. It’s like making driving under the influence legal and booze free, and touting how much confidence you put in the public to manage their own affairs. Except, of course, that a lot of people killed in the resulting car accidents might be dying from the personal decisions of others, just as many of those infected with the coronavirus in her state were probably infected while the pandemic was raging despite their own efforts not to be [infected].


    This reminds me of Trump saying, “I got worse.” Yes, you did. Noem is campaigning on the fact that she is even worse than Ron DeSantis and other Republican governors. She is responsible for a lot of deaths.

  92. says

    Behind Closed Doors

    Republican National Committee chief counsel Justin Riemer fully recognized that Rudy Giuliani and Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis’ post-election lawsuits were a clown show, according to an email obtained by the Washington Post.

    “What Rudy and Jenna are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court,” Riemer wrote in an email to a former party official on November 28. “They are misleading millions of people who have wishful thinking that the president is going to somehow win this thing.”

    But what the RNC lawyer was reportedly worried about was how absurd lawsuits were damaging the party’s bogus “election integrity” crusade to justify the current wave of voter suppression legislation.

    Giuliani tried to get Riemer fired after he heard about the email, according to the Post.


  93. says

    Former CFO Allen Weisselberg might want to have a conversation with former attorney Michael Cohen

    On Monday, the Trump Organization announced that indicted Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg was now just former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. The long time CFO is also off the paperwork at most of the other Trump companies, including Trump’s hotels and golf clubs. Weisselberg’s name has also been given a coat of Wite-Out at the ridiculous assortment of Trump companies which are used to to shuffle around the money for other Trump companies, such as the Trump Payroll Corporation, which was the company used for passing along the perks that got Weisselberg indicted in the first place.

    According to The Washington Post, this means that, “The removal of Weisselberg’s name from these corporate filings could avoid questions from regulators, lenders or vendors by leaving out the name of an indicted executive.” Which seems a bit like saying that the James Gang could skip all those bank-robbery investigations if Frank took his name off the letterhead.

    […] it seems highly unlikely that Weisselberg is going to be the last officer at the Trump Organization to face consequences for treating financial law as optional.

    […] the change in Weisselberg’s role at the Trump Organization appears to be nothing but a transparent effort to put a pretense of distance between the company and the guy facing 15 counts of tax fraud. Weisselberg isn’t actually leaving the company, and it seems that his actual role isn’t really changing beyond where his name appears on the paperwork.

    The only evidence that Weisselberg should be worried is a statement that came from that other guy on July 1. “I’m with him all the way.”

    Which makes it worth setting the wayback machine to 2018, when Trump loudly defended Michael Cohen as someone “I have always liked and respected” and as someone who would not flip on him “despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media.” And that all turned out so well for Cohen.

    […] On paper at least, the 500+ entangled corporations, many of which have—or at least, had—Weisselberg occupying that same CFO role, may actually make it difficult to find Trump’s signature in a spot where he is clearly, knowingly, approving an illegal act. As Cohen made clear during his testimony to Congress, Trump was very good at making clear to underlings what he wanted them to do, while not saying it outright.

    Allen Weisselberg may not be ready to flip at the moment, but somewhere he and his attorneys better be building a very thick dossier of what they have to offer when the time comes. Because there’s no one left at Pennsylvania Avenue who’s going to see that the ex-CFO gets a nice, fast pardon.

  94. blf says

    A follow-up to @97, @111, and @114, Some snippets from France reports rush for vaccines after Macron tightens Covid rules (my added emboldening):

    The head of the Paris area’s hospitals, Martin Hirsch, told French public radio he was “very relieved” by the measures, adding that none of the intensive care patients in the region had been vaccinated.

    France’s far-right and anti-vaxx campaigners responded furiously to the president’s announcement. Florian Philippot, of Les Patriotes, a breakaway party from Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National [le penazis], said that while the UK was heading to total freedom on 19 July, France was sliding into dictatorship.

    You can do without the cinema, restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres, Philippot said on Twitter. You cannot do without your dignity, your liberty, your humanity. Boycott everything, until this health pass disappears.

  95. says

    RWW – “MAGA Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer Discovers the Downside of QAnon”:

    MAGA pastor Jackson Lahmeyer launched a primary challenge to Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma earlier this year because he was outraged by Lankford’s failure to challenge the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6 immediately following the right-wing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

    Lahmeyer has made attacking the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election a centerpiece of his campaign, repeatedly vowing that if he is elected to Congress, he will make it his mission to hold those who supposedly stole the election from former President Donald Trump accountable for treason.

    Lahmeyer has focused heavily on winning support from right-wing QAnon conspiracy theorists like Lin Wood and Michael Flynn, both of whom have endorsed his campaign. Lahmeyer has also been a regular participant at the “Restore America” rallies organized by right-wing conspiracy theorist Clay Clark, where he has been proudly posting photos of himself hanging out with the various election, COVID-19, and QAnon conspiracy theorist speakers at such events.

    Interestingly, Lahmeyer’s flirtations with QAnon have not prevented him from becoming the target of smears from QAnon conspiracy theorists who have reportedly accused him of pedophilia and child sex trafficking after he posted a photo of his young daughter wearing red shoes.

    As QAnon conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin once explained, many QAnon believers are convinced that “there is symbolism for red shoes in the occult and it’s also tied to satanic ritualistic abuse and the trafficking of children.”

    Ironically, while Lahmeyer had no problem affiliating his campaign with QAnon conspiracy theorists, he’s now complaining about being a target of those same conspiracy theorists on his Facebook page….

  96. says

    @Lynna 108
    Even the lawyers pass the buck on describing the evidence. None of them do more than assume one of the others are responsable for it, or appeal to a hearing to do what they should already be able to do, assess the quality of their own evidence.

    Is the entire Trump gossip chain simply standing there as if saying “they say they saw it” is good enough? Is the entire party on offence and acting like defence is not a thing? Sense of reputation and questioning the Trumpkins is what I have. I literally ask every Trumpkin who makes a claim about the constitution to show me in that document and I have had no one do so. Every R legislator should have reporters and citizens demanding to see the part of the constitution that lets them stop the electoral vote count for example.

  97. blf says

    Brony@122, “[Teh kraken lawyers] appeal to a hearing to do what they should already be able to do, assess the quality of their own evidence.”

    A (minor) quibble: That isn’t quite how I read the entertaining live-streams at the time. As background, one of hair furor’s nutso claims is they allegedly haven’t been allowed to present their so-called “evidence” in court. So I as read those entertaining live-streams, what Klown(? and the others?) were calling for was a hearing at which they could present the alleged evidence. The implication then, would seem to be the krakens “think” they not only have evidence, but that alleged evidence is robust (or that, at the least, they’ll get paid (more).) All of which is a fantasy.

    I do concur, based on the live-streams I read, that at best, they were rapidly and repeatedly buck-passing — much to the annoyance of the Judge. Which suggests they didn’t do much, if any, due diligence, and/or any they did do was incompetent, probably deep inside Mike Lindell’s arse territory. Their apparent unfamiliarity with their own documents reinforces such suspicions.

  98. blf says

    Italy wins again, this time by caving-in to Unesco and doing the sensible thing, Italy bans cruise ships from Venice lagoon after Unesco threat:

    Italy has banned cruise ships from the Venice lagoon in what appears to be a definitive move welcomed by anti-cruise ship campaigners.

    “We finally seem to have got there,” said Tommaso Cacciari, the leader of No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships), an activist group that has been protesting against the vessels for more than a decade.

    Spurred to act quickly after Unesco threatened to put Venice on its endangered list unless Italy permanently banned cruise ships from docking in the world heritage site, the government said on Tuesday that vessels weighing more than 25,000 tonnes would be barred from the lagoon from 1 August.


    The 25,000-tonne limit means only small passenger ferries and freight vessels will be able to use the Giudecca canal to enter Venice’s historic centre.


    The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said: “The cruise industry has been supportive of a new approach for many years, so this is a major step forward. Also, the government’s decision to appoint a special commissioner to fast-track the process is a welcome development. We now look forward to progress being made towards the provision of alternative docking arrangements in time for the 2022 season.”

    I’m surprised CLIA didn’t throw several multi-thousand tonne wobblies. (The “special commissionor” mentioned is a high-level official to oversee the conversion of the Marghera industrial port into a passenger facility.) Having said that, I’m very unkeen on cruise ships in general, but handling them at Marghera rather than in the centre of Venice is an improvement — especially if, this time, it really really does happen.

  99. blf says

    Just how stooopid are the insurrectionists?… Trump rioter, QAnon supporter Douglas Austin Jensen thought he invaded White House, not Capitol, video shows:

    One of the most notorious defendants charged in the Jan 6 riot[insurrection] by Trump supporters[hair furor’s wannabe-gestapo] thought that he and other rioters had invaded the White House that day and not the US Capitol, newly released video reveals.

    This is me touching the f—— White House, this is why we’re here, bragged Douglas Austin Jensen as he was on the Capitol grounds, according to a selfie video from his own cellphone that day, during which he also chased a police officer while leading a pack of rioters.

    Jensen, 41, was not the only supporter of then-President[Wacko House squatter] Donald Trump who was ignorant of the names of Washington landmarks as they swarmed outside and inside the Capitol and disrupted the confirmation by a joint session of Congress of the election of Joe Biden as president.

    Storm the White House, that’s what we do, said someone else on video taken by Jensen […]

    Jensen, who is being held without bail, was one of the first people to breach the doors of the Capitol, according to prosecutors. He allegedly had a knife during the invasion.

    After pushing inside, he led an enraged mob that chased Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman through hallways in the Capitol complex as the cop lured them away from the Senate chamber.

  100. blf says

    Pro-EU party in Moldova wins clear majority in snap election:

    PAS will get 63 seats in the 101-seat parliament for four-year terms, according to the Central Election Commission.

    Moldova’s main pro-European party has won a resounding victory in parliamentary polls [with 52.80 percent of the vote], results showed, strengthening the hand of President Maia Sandu as the former World Bank economist pushes to reform her ex-Soviet country.


    A coalition of socialists and communists, led by former Kremlin-backed president Igor Dodon, came second with 27.17 percent.

    [… T]he country of about 2.6 million has long been divided over closer ties with the European Union or maintaining Soviet-era relations with Moscow.

    In 2014, Moldova signed a deal with the EU on forging closer ties, but high levels of corruption and lack of reform have hindered development in the country, which ranked 115th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index.

    With lawmakers loyal to 46-year-old Dodon blocking Sandu’s promises of reform after her election win in November, she dissolved parliament and scheduled the snap vote.

    The 49-year-old former World Bank economist’s promises of honesty and competence resonated with many Moldovans, who in recent years have seen their nation rocked by political crises and corruption scandals.


    Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said on Monday that the vote had been “competitive and well run”.

    They noted, however, that “concerns over the impartiality of the election authorities undermined trust while inadequate campaign finance rules left potential breaches unaddressed”.

    The United States offered congratulations while also urging Moldovans to address the concerns of the OSCE.


    Observers had said a win for Sandu’s party would be a blow to Russia, which wants Moldova to remain in its sphere of influence.

    “Even with a parliamentary majority, it will not be easy to carry out her grandiose plans for in-depth change,” independent analyst Victor Ciobanu said.

    There will be “severe opposition” from the pro-Russian side, he said.

    “If Sandu succeeds, then this is an indisputable break with Russia,” [political analyst and the country’s former UN envoy, Alexei] Tulbure said.

  101. says

    Washington Post:

    President Biden on Tuesday delivered his most forceful condemnation yet of the wave of voting restrictions proposed in Republican-led states nationwide — efforts the president argued are the biggest threat to American democracy since the Civil War.

  102. says

    New York Times:

    Just days after President Biden called President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and demanded that he act to shut down ransomware groups that are attacking American targets, the most aggressive of the groups suddenly went off-line early Tuesday morning, terminating negotiations over ransom payments and even bringing down the page where it boasted about its most successful extortion schemes. The mystery is who made that happen.

  103. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Huffington Post:

    Jenna Ellis, a pro-Trump lawyer, announced on a conservative media show yesterday that she’s “resigning” as a member of the Republican Party and changing her voter registration, because she believes the GOP isn’t going far enough to support the former president.


  104. says

    Even Bill Barr Is Calling Out A Former US Attorney For Sucking Up To Trump

    When even former Attorney General Bill Bar is saying you’re playing politics with false claims about voter fraud, you’ve got issues.

    But that’s just what happened Tuesday, when Barr called out William McSwain, the former Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Philadelphia and now a potential Republican contender for governor in the state.

    In an interview with the Washington Post, Barr said McSwain was trying to get on Trump’s good side with a months-after-the-fact claim about shenanigans at the Justice Department in the aftermath of the 2020 election — namely, the allegation that Barr told McSwain not to speak about “possible election irregularities,” and that McSwain was directed to pass serious allegations to Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general.

    “Any suggestion that McSwain was told to stand down from investigating allegations of election fraud is false. It’s just false,” Barr told the Post. McSwain’s assertions, Barr added, “appeared to have been made to mollify President Trump to gain his support for McSwain’s planned run for governor.”

    McSwain has mostly stayed quiet since Trump made public the groveling letter that McSwain wrote to him in June — long after McSwain’s January resignation as U.S. attorney. The former U.S. attorney said Tuesday, “I was pleased that [the former President] shared my letter — because I believe in transparency. The more people who know the facts, the better.”

    […] Barr told the Post that, upon reading the letter, he called McSwain Monday to complain. According to Barr, the former prosecutor defended the letter as technically accurate but also said: “I can’t have Trump attacking me.” McSwain, in Barr’s words, told the former attorney general that “he was in a tough spot because he wanted to run and he needed Trump’s at least neutrality, if not support.” […]

    Trump, of course, juiced the letter for all it was worth, telling the crowd at CPAC over the weekend that “I just a day ago received a statement from the U.S. attorney, highly respected, in Pennsylvania, that Bill Barr would not allow him to investigate voter fraud. Can you believe it?” [No.]

    […] Barr, you may remember, moved heaven and earth to answer Trump’s lies about voter fraud during the 2020 election: He confidently (and wrongly) asserted that foreign countries could “easily” make counterfeit ballots, and also that mail-in ballots weren’t actually secret.

    He even gave prosecutors the green light to “pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections,” breaking with the DOJ norm. That change prompted the resignation of the director of the DOJ’s election crimes branch, who said Barr was “abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.” […]

    It wasn’t until Dec. 1, of course, that Barr finally offered a hedged rebuttal of Trump’s lies: “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” he told the Associated Press.

    It took months and a lie-fueled insurrection attempt for the former attorney general to shorten the description to just one word: “Bullshit.”

  105. says

    Gorka’s New Gig: Hawking Patriot Bunker Food

    Fringe right-wing national security commentator Sebastian Gorka is not only peddling election fraud falsehoods nowadays but also … food fit for a “patriot” to prep for the End Times.

    During an interview on his conservative talk radio show, “America First with Sebastian Gorka” on Monday featuring J.D. Vance — the “Hillbilly Elegy” author and Ohio Senate candidate who recently plead for forgiveness from former President Trump for criticizing him in 2016 — Gorka is seen advertising a product called “My Patriot Supply,” which provides weeks-long supplies of emergency food. […]

    “My Patriot Supply” was actually founded in 2008 and appears to have enlisted Gorka as one of its major spokespeople. The company offers a “limited-time” discount for those who click on the link

    The company advertises itself as a product that speaks to “every person’s patriotic duty to achieve true independence from our world’s increasingly unstable system.”

    “The widespread civil unrest and power grid failures in America today is proof that the future is more uncertain than ever before,” My Patriot Supply’s website reads. “Everything from food supply chains to basic public safety are now becoming unpredictable and concerning.”

    This isn’t the first time Gorka has hawked questionable products.

    Gorka is seen in a TV ad aired in 2019 shilling fish oil pills that he claims cured his back pain.

    “Sebastian Gorka here for Relief Factor,” he says in the ad. “First of all, let me say I have never before endorsed a pain reliever, but when Pete and Seth Tablott, the father-and-son owners of Relief Factor, asked me to endorse their 100 percent drug-free product, I absolutely couldn’t say no.” […]

    Since departing the White House, Gorka has mostly made headlines for his incendiary news commentary, which include saying that “Black Africans” in Chicago were “murdering each other by the bushel” and that Democrats “want to take your pickup truck, they want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers.” […]

  106. says

    A spate of new books show how the presidency broke Donald Trump

    The books documenting Donald Trump’s final days in office are beginning to appear. […]

    the short version of all of it is that the presidency thoroughly broke Donald J. Trump. It snapped his fragile brain in half like an oversized Rice Krispies Treat. Losing the election untethered him from whatever scraps of reality his advisers had still managed to tie him to, and up he went like a lost balloon with anger management issues. By the end he was (is) wallowing in delusion, ordering staff to do impossible and/or illegal things, absolutely convinced that everything was a conspiracy and that anyone who didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear was in on it.

    And nobody around him did a damn thing about it, other than collect up the stories to tell later. We were governed by a madman because his conservative functionaries were all hand-selected for spinelessness and rank incompetence, and it’s a miracle we have, so far, gotten out of it with only a half million U.S. deaths via incompetence and only a failed insurrection attempt mounted by Trump supporters whose only plan was “invade Congress to demand they tear up the electoral results and something something something.”

    […] We have already learned that Donald is baffled by and absolutely enraged by his chosen Supreme Court justices’ unwillingness to throw the election on his behalf, with standard Trump mutterings about “Where would [Justice Blackout Drunk] be without me?” because, to malignant narcissist Donald, reality consists solely of Donald Trump doing people favors and people doing Donald Trump favors back.

    From a Wall Street Journal reporter’s new book, we learn that Donald Trump flipped entirely the f**k out when someone leaked that he had briefly hidden out in the White House’s underground bunker when Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated nearby. […] bellowing that whoever had leaked his less-than-an-hour trip to the basement was guilty of treason and “should be executed!”

    […] this [book] by Washington Post reporters, that brings us new tidbits of how Trump reacted to election night itself. Here’s your hot news tip: it broke him. Completely. While Trump had of course repurposed the White House as election night party house because screw tradition, Trump himself quickly lost his tether to our earthly plane when the tide of votes began to turn against him and he began to believe, apparently in all seriousness, that losing states he didn’t want to lose could only mean that his enemies were rigging the election against him. He broke. He had a narcissistic breakdown, and simply decided that there was no possible way America had voted him out of office legitimately—so it didn’t happen. […]

    At this point, there were roughly 400 party guests, an entire White House staff, and a full contingent of Secret Service agents, but once again none within those groups were willing to do America the patriotic favor of stuffing the delusional ranter Trump in a sack and announcing that because Reasons, Vice President Mike Pence would be taking over for a while.

    Instead, Rudy Giuliani goaded Trump on, telling him to “just say we won” the states he wanted to win and damn the actual vote totals. Trump went on television to do just that, launching a nationwide Republican drive to nullify presidential votes in those specific states. It didn’t work, which is why Trump now hates Brett Kavanaugh with a fiery passion, but it still got people killed and continues today with an array of new Republican-pushed state laws designed to keep quite so many working-class people from voting in future elections.

    […] Republicans are now actively promoting preventable disease because Trump’s pandemic incompetence forced the party into defending incompetence as a brilliant strategic move. […]

    Let’s see, what else? Oh, Trump also planned to cancel U.S. alliances with NATO and South Korea once the election was over, which is also something his nose-picking party would have gone along with if Trump had been able to cling to power. Just as another aside from the Post book. You know, because Trump has forever been unable to work with purported equals, he can only handle relationships in which he is either polishing somebody’s boots or getting his own boots shined. NATO leaders didn’t properly defer to or attempt to bribe His Royal Highness Burgerguy, and that drove him nuts.

    So there you go, there’s some of the most interesting news on how America came extremely really damn close to collapsing entirely, had the election been slightly closer than it turned out to be. It still might collapse, because the not-happily-retired delusional Dear Leader figure still has the weight of the entire Republican Party behind him, […]

  107. says

    President Biden on Tuesday decried inflammatory and false claims from former President Trump and his allies about the 2020 election and broader efforts to restrict access to the ballot in a major speech on voting rights.

    Biden blasted efforts from Trump and others to sow doubt about the election months after it concluded, which have spurred action from GOP-led state legislatures to push new elections laws that would limit absentee voting and make it more difficult for certain groups to vote.

    “It’s clear, for those who challenge the results or question the integrity of the election, no other election has ever been held under such scrutiny or such high standards. ‘The big lie’ is just that, a big lie,” Biden said at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

    Biden pointed to the dozens of court challenges thrown out by federal judges, including some appointed by Trump. He noted that Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia confirmed his victories in each state through audits and recounts. Just hours before Biden spoke, Trump issued a statement calling for Pennsylvania to conduct an audit of the 2020 results, in which Biden won the state by roughly 80,000 votes.

    “In America, if you lose, you accept the results,” Biden said in a clear shot at Trump. “You follow the Constitution, you try again. You don’t call facts ‘fake’ and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you’re unhappy. That’s not statesmanship, that’s selfishness.”

    The president sought to warn of the perilous consequences of Trump’s rhetoric in a long-awaited speech on voting rights. He delivered remarks as Texas lawmakers fled the state to block passage of a new elections law and as federal voting legislation has hit a brick wall in Congress.

    Texas is one of several states that have introduced restrictive new voting laws following the 2020 election. Georgia, Florida, Arizona and other GOP-led states have pushed for changes to their elections laws.

    “The 21st century Jim Crow assault is real, it’s unrelenting, and we’re going to challenge it vigorously. While this broad assault against voting rights is not unprecedented, it is taking on new and pernicious forms,” Biden said.

    Biden described the ongoing attacks on election integrity from Trump and others, paired with state-level laws tightening ballot access, as an existential threat to democracy. […]


  108. says

    Idaho governor warns of ‘mega-fires,’ urges public help

    Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) is warning of mega-fires that could potentially impact the state this summer and is asking the public to help prevent them.

    […] “My fear is that we will have some of these great big mega-fires that start creating their own weather, like the one that is over in Oregon, where I think a lot of this smoke is coming from, that basically endanger communities, they endanger firefighters, they endanger precious wildlife and watershed capacity,” Little said.

    Areas of the state are under Stage I and Stage II fire restrictions with more areas expected to be added as hot, dry conditions increase the threat of fires.

    […] “On top of extreme drought in many parts of Idaho, we are in the middle of a prolonged, regional excessive heat wave. Fires burning in other states are putting strain on the availability of firefighting resources across the West,” he added.

    Last week, the governor signed an emergency declaration to invoke the National Guard for the state’s fire response.

    […] “The biggest issue we face right now is extremely limited resources to manage these fires, including a lack of aircraft and crews on the ground. We typically tap into our shared resources during these times, but they have very limited availability due to fires in our neighboring states. The public can help by avoiding any outdoor activity that could spark a human-caused fire,” he added.

    Little said residents need to be careful to not unintentionally cause wildfires that could put strains on the state’s resources.

    Lot’s of smoke in my area, but no fires really close … so far.

  109. KG says

    Not directly political, but I’m back from my trip to London – and one of my two colleagues seems to have taken a dose of SARS-CoV-2 home with him. I’m self-isolating, symptom-free so far.

    Yesterday saw the largest number of UK Covid-19 deaths since April, but the UK government and to a lesser extent the Scottish government are pushing ahead with relaxing restrictions, despite multiple warnings that we could be back up to 100,000 or 200,000 cases per day next month, with thousands of deaths and tens or hundreds of thousands of cases of long Covid as a result. Polls indicate that a majority consider the reopening premature.

  110. blf says

    KG@138, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been exposed, and wish you the best. I presume you are (fully-)vaccinated, nonetheless, there is (as I’m sure you are aware) a Risk of infection (albeit probably asymptomatic or mild), and infecting others… so self-isolation is the correct best and honourable thing to do.

    My own Big Concern about the forthcoming disaster in England(and, presumably, most of teh “U”K), is it will turn the place in a series of “variant factories” (as one expert put it): Creating good(? ideal?) conditions for the evolution of new variants. And with the high-levels of vaccination (which is a Good Thing! — full congratulations to the NHS), a distinct Risk of a variant the vaccines aren’t too effective against. Hopefully, which the fairly high levels of testing (again, kudos to the NHS), any new variants will be quickly identified — except, predictions are (from memory), the testing system will be overwhelmed.

    Am I correct in thinking teh “U”K’s trace-and-track “system” is still dysfunctional? (From memory, that work was given (presumably without bidding) to one of Teh Bormoron’s rich friends, who completely botched it, and as a reward has now been nominated by Teh Bormoron to something like the NHS’s Board of Directors.)

  111. says

    Lynna @ #137, that’s upsetting! Stay safe.

    KG @ #138, argh! I kept hoping your travel would be called off (isn’t your work pandemic-related?), but worried this week that you’d had to go. Hope your colleague is OK.

  112. says

    Here’s a link to the July 14 (Happy Bastille Day!) Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their morning summary:

    This week, the Netherlands has recorded a 500% rise in Covid cases, following moves to fully reopen the economy including opening nightclubs. It has been seen as a warning as to how case numbers might take off in England when restrictions are dropped next week.

    Indonesia recorded its biggest daily increase in coronavirus infections with 54,517 cases on Wednesday, taking the total tally to just over 2.67m cases.

    The Philippines has announced it will ban travellers coming from Indonesia to prevent the spread of the Delta variant.

    South Korea on Wednesday tightened social distancing curbs across most of the country to try to combat its worst-ever outbreak of coronavirus after new cases on Tuesday soared past previous daily peaks to 1,615.

    Russia has reported 786 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, which is again the most confirmed in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

    France is celebrating Bastille Day with scaled back celebrations and a limited number of spectators allowed in Paris.

    The UK will not be added to the EU travel green list this week. EU diplomats agreed unanimously to add Ukraine, and remove Thailand and Rwanda.

    First minister of Wales Mark Drakeford will make an announcement at noon today on whether the nation will be further lifting Covid restrictions next week.

    US vaccinologist Dr Peter Hotez has said that young children will pay the price if enough US adults don’t get vaccinated. Many more adolescents could become hospitalised, Hotez said, adding up to 30% of children infected will develop long-haul covid.

    People waiting hours to get a Covid-19 test in Sydney’s Fairfield have expressed confusion and frustration at the new requirements for essential workers. Long queues formed on Tuesday night and continued on Wednesday after the New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced essential workers must get tested every three days.

    More from there:

    China’s daily vaccination numbers are huge again. Reuters report the official figures from yesterday 10.6m doses, taking the total administered to 1.402bn doses.

    Delta variant gains ground in US as outbreaks highlight vaccine divide

    A cluster of midwestern and southern states have emerged as a new center of Covid-19 outbreaks, as the highly transmissible Delta variant sweeps across poorly vaccinated populations in the US.

    The news marks a potentially serious setback for the Biden administration’s attempts to curb and control the pandemic as the Delta variant – which has wreaked havoc in the UK and elsewhere – is starting to spread more widely in America.

    It also comes as life in much of the US has started to return to near normal, with many Covid-19 restrictions having been lifted, and as the vaccination program has slowed down.

    Rates of Covid-19 cases in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi are among the highest in the country, and their vaccination rates among the lowest. Covid also appears to be gaining ground in the American west.

    Even so, overall numbers of new Covid-19 cases are low. New infections are less than one-tenth the average daily rate at the height of the pandemic in January, even as they have doubled in the last two weeks.

    “We are not where we were in April 2020,” said Dr David Dowdy, an associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and an expert in infectious diseases. Nevertheless, he said, “We’ve seen those counts can go up substantially and quickly, so we need to be cautious but without panicking.”

    Localised outbreaks highlight a growing divide in vaccine adoption among US states, as a complex set of conditions have left Republican-leaning and rural places with lower overall vaccination rates than Democratic-leaning states.

  113. says

    Follow-up of sorts to #24 – Guardian – “Legal threats to Donald Trump ‘more serious than ever before’, experts say”:

    As a New York criminal investigation continues after bringing tax fraud charges against Donald Trump’s business and a top executive, other prosecutors in Georgia, Washington DC and New York have inquiries under way that could also yield serious charges against Trump and his company, according to former prosecutors and public records.

    For example, a Georgia district attorney is leading a wide ranging criminal probe into Trump’s infamous call on 2 January to Georgia’s secretary of state beseeching him to “find 11,780 votes” to block Joe Biden’s presidential election win there.

    Meanwhile, separate prosecutors in New York and Washington DC are scrutinizing whether Trump’s businesses benefited illegally during his 2017 inauguration. The Washington attorney general has sued the inaugural committee, the Trump International Hotel in DC and the Trump Organization alleging they schemed to make “exorbitant and unlawful” payments of over $1 million to Trump’s DC hotel which hosted some inaugural events.

    Further, Trump could be ensnared in a federal criminal investigation of his former personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who Trump tapped to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine during the campaign. Giuliani is being investigated reportedly for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws that require registration, and for his role in Trump’s firing of the US ambassador there in 2019.

    On yet another legal front, Trump is facing several civil lawsuits, including one from writer E Jean Carroll, whose 2019 memoir alleged Trump once raped her. After Trump accused her of lying to sell books, Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit.

    Trump denounced the New York charges as a political ploy by Democrats, and has attacked the others as witch-hunts. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization on July 1 both pled not guilty to the tax fraud charges.

    But this cast of wide-ranging inquiries and lawsuits pose huge legal headaches for Trump and look far more serious than many others Trump has dodged over decades, say former prosecutors.

    “The current threats are more numerous and more serious than ever before and it’s hard to imagine that his good luck will continue,” Michael Bromwich, an ex- prosecutor and former inspector general at the Justice Department, said in an interview.

    “Donald Trump is now facing more than a dozen separate civil lawsuits and criminal investigations, with more matters likely to follow,” said Phillip Halpern, a former California prosecutor who spent three decades focused on corruption cases.

    Halpern added that the criminal inquiries in Georgia, New York and Washington have the potential to “drastically impact Trump’s historical legacy, and result in his – or various family members, associates, and attorneys – spending considerable time in jail.”

    Halpern stressed that the civil lawsuits and the New York investigation by Vance and James “carry the potential for sizable personal monetary penalties, and could subject Trump’s companies to massive penalties”.

    These legal threats vary in risk to Trump, but the inquiry into Trump’s call pressuring Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to reverse Biden’s win, bears watching.

    The district attorney leading that inquiry, Fani Willis, has written that prosecutors are examining “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

    Cathy Cox, a former Georgia secretary of state and Dean of Mercer University School of Law, said that the Fulton county inquiry is “nothing to take lightly”.

    Cox stressed that Willis is “experienced with Georgia’s expansive Rico [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] law, she has a record of using it successfully in high-profile cases, and she’s engaged the state’s undisputed Rico expert, attorney John Floyd, to assist her. Those factors ramp this case up even further in terms of its potential for serious criminal charges.”

    Looking ahead, ex-DoJ officials say that the detailed charges now brought against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer could presage more legal problems for Trump’s business.

    “The thoroughness and highly factual nature of the indictments give a lot of information about the deeply inappropriate practices of Trump’s business,” said Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general at the justice department in the George HW Bush administration. “There is no particular reason to think that such inappropriate practices were confined to dealings with Allen Weisselberg.”

    Yet some former prosecutors predict that as his legal problems mount, Trump and his supporters will milk the inquiries for political gain.

    “Trump uses his legal problems to reinforce his image as an outsider (and) to fire up his base,” said Barbara McQuade, a professor from practice at the University of Michigan Law School and ex-US attorney for the eastern district of Michigan.

    She added: “But for those who care about the rule of law, it is important to hold accountable individuals who engage in illegal activity, even former presidents.”

    More atl.

  114. tomh says

    4th Circuit Strikes Down Law Barring Gun Sales to Adults Under 21
    ERIKA WILLIAMS / July 13, 2021

    RICHMOND, Va. (CN) — A longstanding federal law banning the sales of handguns to adults under the age of 21 is unconstitutional, a three-judge panel for the Fourth Circuit ruled on Tuesday.

    The Richmond-based appeals court’s 2-1 majority ruled on Tuesday that the 1968 law barring people under the age of 21 from purchasing handguns from licensed dealers is unconstitutional.

    “In the law, a line must sometimes be drawn. But there must be a reason why constitutional rights cannot be enjoyed until a certain age,” wrote Circuit Judge Julius Richardson, a Donald Trump appointee, adding “Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18. And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different.”

    Judge G. Stephen Agee, a George W. Bush appointee, joined Richardson in the majority opinion.

    Judge James Wynn Jr., a Barack Obama appointee, disagreed with his colleagues’ ruling on Tuesday….

    He said the Second Amendment is different from other constitutional amendments “not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm.”

    According to Wynn, the court should defer to lawmakers to make decisions like this.

  115. KG says

    blf, SC, thanks for your concern. I am indeed fully vaccinated, although with the AstraZeneca, slightly less effective than the Pfizer. My probably-infected colleague is in his early thirties and has had the first jab, so hopefully should be OK, although we don’t really know how effective vaccination is against the possiiblity of developing long Covid. I should say it was ultimately my choice to go – I hoped our H&S people would say no, but when they didn’t, I felt obligated to my colleagues to do so, and had said some months ago that I would, once fully vaccinated. If I’d refused, I’m pretty sure I would not have faced disciplinary action, but if I had, I don’t need the job, financially speaking.

  116. says

    Related to #146 – Guardian – “Ken Starr helped Jeffrey Epstein with ‘scorched-earth’ campaign, book claims”:

    Ken Starr, the lawyer who hounded Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, waged a “scorched-earth” legal campaign to persuade federal prosecutors to drop a sex-trafficking case against the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein relating to the abuse of multiple underaged girls, according to a new book.

    In Perversion of Justice the Miami Herald reporter Julie K Brown writes about Starr’s role in securing the secret 2008 sweetheart deal that granted Epstein effective immunity from federal prosecution. The author, who is credited with blowing open the cover-up, calls Starr a “fixer” who “used his political connections in the White House to get the Justice Department to review Epstein’s case”.

    The book says that emails and letters sent by Starr and Epstein’s then criminal defense lawyer Jay Lefkowitz show that the duo were “campaigning to pressure the Justice Department to drop the case”. Starr had been brought into “center stage” of Epstein’s legal team because of his connections in Washington to the Bush administration.

    Perversion of Justice will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

    When Epstein’s lawyers appeared to be failing in their pressure campaign, with senior DoJ officials concluding that Epstein was ripe for federal prosecution, Starr pulled out the stops….

    In 2018 Brown published a three-part exposé in the Miami Herald that lifted the lid on the “non-prosecution agreement” that had been reached covering up Epstein’s sex trafficking operation. The reporter managed to identify 80 potential victims, some as young as 13 and 14.

    Following Brown’s exposé, a judge ruled that the secret agreement was illegal, opening up the possibility of a renewed federal prosecution. Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges in July 2019 – 11 years after Starr and the rest of his legal team had worked so hard to shield him – and died in jail the following month in what was ruled a suicide.

    In the fallout, Alex Acosta, who as Miami’s top federal prosecutor in 2008 had signed off on the Epstein sweetheart deal, was forced to resign as Donald Trump’s labor secretary.

    Though Starr’s role in securing the Epstein deal was public knowledge, Brown’s book reveals the lengths that the lawyer was prepared to go to in order to protect from federal justice an accused sexual predator and pedophile. The extent of his involvement is all the more striking given the equally passionate lengths that Starr went to in 1998 to pursue Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice, given the much less serious sexual activity that sparked that investigation.

    Starr’s handling of sexual assault scandals has dogged him during other phases in his career. In 2016 he was stripped of the presidency of Baylor University after the institution under his watch failed to take appropriate action over a sexual assault scandal involving 19 football players and at least 17 women.

    Four years later Starr served as a member of Trump’s legal team in the former president’s first impeachment trial over dealings with Ukraine.

    More atl.

  117. says

    SC @147, in regard to Gov. Abbott threatening to arrest Democratic legislators, a reader posted:

    just hide near the electrical grid, he doesn’t ever check there….

    We’ll see how this turns out, but I think Abbott may have bitten off more than he can chew with those threats.

  118. says

    Biden’s ACA special enrollment period reaches 2 million Americans

    The Biden administration wants more Americans to get coverage they can afford, and it’s taken steps to make that happen. The results speak for themselves.

    Just one week after his inauguration, President Joe Biden did what his predecessor would not: he issued an executive order to create a special enrollment period through the Affordable Care Act, citing a need created by the pandemic. Donald Trump was expected to do something similar, but he refused, because he didn’t want people turning to “Obamacare” for help during a crisis.

    Updating our earlier coverage, Biden’s decision to do the right thing is paying off in dramatic ways. HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn reported this morning:

    More than 2 million people have signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces, taking advantage of the Biden administration’s extended period for open enrollment, the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday. That figure means total marketplace enrollment is probably at an all-time high, while the number of uninsured Americans may be at an all-time low.

    [Yay! Good news.]

    […] progress is likely to continue: the current open-enrollment period won’t close for another month.

    […] the open-enrollment data coincides with expansive new ACA benefits included in the Democrats’ COVID relief package. Some will see their premiums cut in half, while millions will see their premiums fall to literally zero, thanks entirely to the investments in the American Rescue Plan.

    That’s working well, too: the Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that after the new ACA benefits kicked in on April 1, nearly 2 million consumers — who already had coverage — returned to the marketplace and reduced their monthly premiums.

    […] There are, however, some clouds on the horizon: the ACA-related benefits included in the American Rescue Plan are, at least for now, temporary. The White House and many congressional Democrats want to make the current benefits permanent, and such funding is very likely to be in the mix for the “human infrastructure” package taking shape in the Senate.

  119. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    […] * On Fox News last night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) conceded that President Biden “legitimately got elected.” If a certain former president issues a statement condemning McCarthy today, at least you’ll know why.

    * Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) campaign team is selling merchandise intended to capitalize on far-right criticisms of Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Don’t Fauci My Florida,” the Republican merchandise reads. [Pathetic]

    * Several Republican groups bought airtime to run ads during Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. The commercials largely focused on the decision to move the game out of Georgia in response to a Republican voter-suppression law in the state.

    * To the surprise of no one, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is trying to fundraise off his intention to vote for Donald Trump as the next Speaker of the House.

    * And in Wisconsin, it appears that one of the local citizens helping conduct a freelance “review” of the state’s presidential ballots is a former felon who was convicted of fraud.


  120. says

    State Republican chairs become the ‘chief enforcers of Trumpism’

    It’s easy to marvel at Trump sway over GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but to fully appreciate his reach, don’t look past state Republican Parties.

    […] Two weeks ahead of Inauguration Day 2017, Trump interrupted his schedule of tweeting and watching television to oust Matt Borges, the then-chair of the Ohio Republican Party. For the incoming president, Borges simply wasn’t a reliable ally, and as such he needed to be replaced. Jane Timken, the Trump-backed rival, was elevated soon after.

    It was the first indication that Trump didn’t just expect congressional Republicans to cater to his whims, he also expected state Republican Parties to serve as cogs of his political machine. Team Trump invested time and energy into making sure these state GOP entities were led by his allies.

    As Politico reported, the former president may be gone, but the results still linger.

    In red states, blue states and swing states, these leaders — nearly all of whom were elected during Trump’s presidency or right after — are redefining the traditional role of the state party chair. They are emerging not just as guardians of the former president’s political legacy, but as chief enforcers of Trumpism within the GOP.

    […] many Trump-backed GOP leaders are stepping up to exert power and influence in ways without modern precedent:

    In Arizona, state GOP Chair Kelli Ward has feuded openly with Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

    In Massachusetts, state GOP Chair Jim Lyons has repeatedly clashed with Gov. Charlie Baker (R).

    In Michigan, state GOP Chair Ron Weiser recently joked about the assassination of Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump.

    In Oklahoma, state GOP Chair John Bennett endorsed Sen. James Lankford’s (R) primary rival because the incumbent senator didn’t vote to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

    In Texas, state GOP Chair Allen West decided to take on Gov. Greg Abbott in a Republican primary.

    […] several other state party chairs “have been at the center of a raft of resolutions to censure or rebuke GOP lawmakers deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump.”

    The traditional role of a state party chair is to focus on fundraising, structural concerns, and candidate recruitment. In contemporary Republican politics, these chairs have added responsibilities: promoting and protecting the interests of a failed former president.

    […] to fully appreciate Trump’s reach, don’t look past state Republican Parties, the intensity of their loyalty toward him, and the lasting effects of the Trumpified party far outside the nation’s capital.

  121. says

    The ‘vaccines make you magnetic’ claims are ridiculous, but the cult of ignorance is terrifying

    […] Videos of sweaty nurse Joanna Overholt at a Ohio hearing went wide on social media over the surreal hilarity of watching a woman trying to stick a key to her neck as proof that simply associating with someone who had taken a vaccine was enough to make a person “magnetic.” But Overholt was actually there as a backup to another medical professional, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, who was the original source of this claim. Silly as it was, the vaccines make you magnetic claim was just one of a very, very long line of claims from Dr. Tenpenny that included arguments that masks make people sicker, social distancing causes illness, vaccines cause autoimmune disease, vaccines cause men to become sterile, vaccines could cause women to have mutant babies, and vaccines create an “interface” to talk to 5G cell towers.

    Dr. Tenpenny and Overholt didn’t burst into that Ohio hearing on their own. They were invited there by Republican state representative Jennifer Gross. Not only is Gross a member of the House Health Committee, she’s also the author of legislation that would stop any government agency, school, hospital, or business of any kind from requiring vaccination. Not just COVID-19 vaccine. Any vaccine.

    In 2021, we are in a world where deaths from a global pandemic are being actively exacerbated by purposeful anti-science action in one of the world’s best educated nations. Because one party has waged a deliberate campaign against science. Because they know that when people don’t understand the basics of how the world around them operates, they can get them to believe absolutely anything. Because ignorance is their cause.

    […] In May, the Center for Countering Digital Hate ran through the statistics and determined that just 12 people were responsible for most of the disinformation about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. Number two on that list is Nazi-organized convention attendee Robert Kennedy Jr. Number four is Dr. Susan Tenpenny. Among her claims at the time was that “the longer you wear a mask, the unhealthier you get” and “stop getting tested; if you get tested you are part of the problem.” She also joined up with disgraced former doctor Andrew Wakefield for a video chat in which Wakefield claimed that vaccines had killed more children than they saved.

    For all this, Dr. Tenpenny was banned from Facebook … but invited to speak as an “expert witness” to the Ohio House by anti-vaxx representative Gross. […]

    When someone doesn’t understand vaccines, or microchips, or cellphone technology, it’s possible to get them to believe anything about any combination of those technologies. It’s possible to hold hearings in Ohio in which a woman repeatedly tries to stick a key to her neck, and then demands to know why a vaccine she proudly did not take made her magnetic, even after the key won’t stick. It’s possible to bludgeon the Tennessee department of health into backing away from supporting any vaccine.

    There is a New Testament passage in First Thessalonians (that would be “One Thessalonians” for Trump followers), which begins “I would not have you ignorant, brothers.” But that’s exactly how Republicans would have their supporters. Ignorant. […]

    For what it’s worth, even some other Ohio Republicans managed to be embarrassed about Gross, Tenpenny, Overholt, and the snake oil being peddled in their halls of their state capitol. Or at least, they did. House Health Committee Chairman Scott Lipps at first complained about Gross bringing in Tenpenny. […] But then, after a week of phone calls to his office, Lipps flipped and defended Tenpenny’s testimony, saying, “Please step outside your own little world and understand that people are not all the same, and they don’t all believe the same.”

    The “little world” Lipps would have people abandon is the one where logic, reason, and information are key to determining the truth of an argument. And yes, that world is seeming smaller all the time. […]

  122. says

    Brief remarks from Olivia Rodrigo in the White House briefing room. She said she was “beyond humbled” to be at the White House and is “in awe” of the work POTUS and Dr. Fauci have done on vaccines.

    Terrible both-sides-ism from Newsmax, featuring Rand Paul being interviewed by Sean spicer and other Fox News hosts:

    I think Dr. Fauci is the ultimate elitist, he does not want to engage in debate that includes both sides.

  123. says

    Democrats reach milestone in $3.5 trillion agreement on Biden’s economic, infrastructure plans

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s ambitious plan for getting infrastructure done this summer is closer to achievable with the overnight agreement reached by Budget Committee Democrats and the White House on a $3.5 trillion cap for their budget resolution. That’s the bill that will include instructions for lawmakers to write the reconciliation bill that allows them to pass the funding without Republican votes. The specific details of the package aren’t yet concluded, but Schumer said Tuesday night, after the agreement was announced, that it will fund “every major program” that President Joe Biden proposed in his American Jobs and Families economic plans.

    Together with the $579 billion included in the proposed bipartisan infrastructure bill, the total package—infrastructure, climate, child care, education, and paid leave programs—will reach $4.1 trillion. Schumer pointed out that “is very, very close to what President Biden asked us for. […] Every major program that President Biden has asked us for is funded in a robust way.” In addition to those proposals from Biden, it will include a “robust expansion of Medicare,” including vision, dental, and hearing benefits for the first time ever [Good news!], a priority for Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders. It apparently doesn’t include expanding the program by lowering the eligibility age to 60 as Sanders had also advocated.

    This is the top-line spending figure, which committee member Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, said would be “fully paid for,” and includes what will be funded, but how much is going to what program and those details still needs to be hashed out. This is also an agreement among Budget Committee members and the White House, not the entire conference.

    But the whole Senate Democratic caucus is there, right? To support their president in the most significant and critical effort since the New Deal? Well … Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he’s “open to looking at everything they provided,” and “all these things are very important. But we have to pay for all this.” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema had her spokesperson say meaningless things like “Those conversations are ongoing and she will give careful consideration to any idea that can strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona families get ahead.” […] Biden is scheduled to meet with the entire Democratic caucus at lunch Wednesday to lobby to get all 50 of them on board.

    For his part, Sanders is satisfied. “This is the most significant piece of legislation passed since the Great Depression, and I’m delighted to be part of having helped to put it together,” Sanders told reporters. “A lot of work remains.” He added that this could be the end of the era when the rich and corporations are let off the hook. “Those days are gone,” he said. “The wealthy and large corporations are going to start paying their fair share of taxes, so that we can protect the working families of this country.”

    Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, whose committee will deal with the tax and revenue side of the package promised “I will raise the money that the caucus says it wants for its priorities.” He’s got support there on the tax side.

    Manchin has said that he’s fine with tackling the 2017 Republican tax scam and bolstering “human infrastructure” using reconciliation. “Republicans have drawn a line in the sand on not changing anything, and I thought the 2017 tax bill was a very unfair bill, and weighted to a side that basically did not benefit the average American. So I voted against it,” Manchin said. “I think there are some adjustments that need to be made.” In that, Manchin at least is being helpful. He insists that this package be “paid for” because “I don’t think we need more debt.”

    To which Budget panel member Sen. Chris Van Hollen says, basically, “put up or shut up” in not so many words. “There are many ways to get there,” Van Hollen said. “Certainly, it’s important that everyone who says it needs to be paid for also identifies ways to pay for what needs to be done.”

    That just leaves to the other infrastructure bill, the bipartisan one that Republicans are once again sabotaging. Minority Leader McConnell has redoubled his efforts, now that this agreement among Democrats has been struck. […]

    Democrats aren’t trying to pull some kind of fast one here. It’s been clear for weeks that this was a two-track process. But every time there’s progress on the Democratic side, Republicans cry wolf to Capitol Hill reporters willing to indulge their outrage. If they keep this up, they might even alienate Manchin and Sinema and cement support from those two for the reconciliation bill. Maybe.

  124. says

    Guardian – “Bolsonaro in hospital as hiccups persist for more than 10 days”:

    The Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has been admitted to hospital complaining of abdominal pain after being struck down by an unremitting bout of the hiccups which has lasted for more than 10 days.

    Bolsonaro, 66, was reportedly taken to military hospital in the capital Brasília at about 4am on Wednesday, with one prominent Brazilian journalist claiming the president was suffering from a bowel obstruction.

    In a brief statement, the presidency said Bolsonaro was in good spirits and doing well but would remain under observation for up to 48 hours. Tests were being carried out to investigate what was causing the hiccups.

    The Folha de São Paulo newspaper reported that Antônio Luiz Macedo, the surgeon who operated on Bolsonaro after he was stabbed shortly before his 2018 election, was on his way to the hospital.

    The state of Bolsonaro’s health has been the subject of growing media speculation in recent days after Brazil’s far-right leader made a succession of public appearances in which he visibly struggled to speak.

    During a trip to southern Brazil last Friday, Bolsonaro reportedly had to abandon a dinner after feeling ill. In a recent social media broadcast, Bolsonaro said his hiccups problem had started after he underwent dental surgery on 3 June, and blamed it on drugs he had been prescribed….

  125. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… quoting TPM @ # 132: “The widespread civil unrest and power grid failures in America today is proof that the future is more uncertain than ever before,” My Patriot Supply’s website reads. “Everything from food supply chains to basic public safety are now becoming unpredictable and concerning.”

    Which reminds me of a lengthy July 5 article I recently read at The Intercept, concerning the exploits of one Barrett Moore, “the ultimate doomsday prepper”. Promising an all-eventualities haven in rural Michigan for 1-%ers, Moore used exactly that sort of spiel (and a near-Trumpian assortment of corporate fronts) to extract millions of dollars from wealthy and easily-frightened suckers, notably including Islamophobic-thriller author Brad Thor.

    The latter finally found a clue and brought Moore to court, revealing (part of) an extensive web of hustles. Intercept reporter Sam Biddle deserves kudos for titling his exposé “The Future Dystopic Hellscape Is Upon Us”, and not “The Scammer of Thor”.

  126. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    According to The World Health Organization (WHO) deaths climbed globally last week after nine straight weeks of decline.

    WHO recorded more than 55,000 deaths, a 3% increase from the week before. Cases rose last week by 10% to nearly 3 million.

    In its weekly report, the U.N. health agency said the highest numbers of new cases were in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Britain. WHO said that the more-contagious delta variant has now been identified in 111 countries since first being detected in India and that the mutant version is expected to become globally dominant in the coming months.

  127. says

    Update to #158 – Reuters – “Brazil’s Bolsonaro, who was stabbed in 2018, may need emergency surgery”:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is being transferred to Sao Paulo to undergo tests for an obstructed intestine and could receive emergency surgery, the president’s office said on Wednesday, in his latest health complication from a 2018 stabbing.

    The news of Bolsonaro’s hospitalization comes as the far-right leader is sinking in opinion polls due to his handling of the world’s second-deadliest coronavirus pandemic, and a simmering corruption scandal over his government’s purchase of vaccines.

    It also caps days of questions over his health due to a chronic case of hiccups, a stubborn cough following a 2020 COVID-19 infection, and a series of surgeries after the campaign-trail stabbing shortly before his 2018 election victory.

    On his Facebook page, Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself smiling with his eyes closed and lying in a hospital bed covered in sensors and cables. What appears to be a priest, with a golden crucifix, stood by his side, placing his hand on the president’s shoulder.

    Bolsonaro, 66, went to the military hospital in Brasilia early on Wednesday, with his office initially saying it was to undergo tests for chronic hiccups.

    But later on Wednesday, the president’s office said Antônio Luiz Macedo, the surgeon who operated on Bolsonaro in 2018, had decided the president should go to Sao Paulo for additional tests to investigate the obstructed intestine, and possible emergency surgery.

    Recently, Bolsonaro had appeared unwell. In a national address on social media last Thursday, he struggled to express himself at one point, and said he had been suffering from hiccups for a week.

  128. blf says

    Yesterday was Bastille Day, so as is traditional, the nutcases came out of the woodwork. The cause du jour is the recently-announced pandemic measures, specifically, the need for a “health pass” to go to restaurants, ride long-distance trains, etc. The measure seems to be popular, much to the anger of the loons and other fans of genocide. There were protests — this is in the name of freedom, down with dictatorship, down with the health pass (“more dead children!” as translated by the mildly deranged penguin) — e.g., French protesters clash with police on Bastille Day amid anger over Covid rules, in several cities (and teargas was used in Paris when some of the “protestors” went on a rampage). But it was mostly a pathetic show, with, nation-wide, only c.19,000 demonstrating.

  129. blf says

    Follow-up to @163, At another site some eejit blurted out, about France’s newly-announced measures:

    My body, my choice!
    I will not be forced to put an experimental injection into my body.
    I’ll leave that up to you lot.
    They won’t stop me from going into venues — are they going to put a guard at every door of every shop, restaurant, cafe etc, to check my Health Pass? Of course not. I don’t mind doing the PCR if I have to.

    My mildly deranged penguin–free reply:

    World-wide, over 3.5 billion jabs have been given, covering about 25% of the planet’s population. In the more heavily-vaccinated countries, most-to-all Covid-19 patients (and especially those in ICU) are the unvaccinated; e.g., all the Covid-19 ICU patients in Paris, and over 99% in the USA.

    Serious side-effects of the vaccines are so infrequent the idiom “one in a million” can be used. With 3.5 billion jabs administrated by now, most in wealthier countries with good health systems, we’d know by now if there were serious risks. And we do know: There aren’t. One in a million.

    Nor is it about “your body”. It is about everyone: Unvaccinated people are not only more likely to get sick, being sick, they are more likely to spread the virus to others (very probably also unvaccinated). Maybe you don’t [c]are if you get sick, you are being incredibly selfish and careless spreading the virus around; and ignoring the Health Pass checks which may or may not be present emphasizes a lack of concern for other people.

    In addition, unvaccinated people are helping new variants to evolve. The virus cannot evolve if it cannot spread, and where does it most easily spread? In the unvaccinated.

    The newly-announced measures are, I remind you, largely in response to the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.

    It’s not just about you. It never has been. It’s about people. All the people. Every single one of us.

    I deliberately decided to not mention how robust the testing was, since it’s clear this eejit is, among other things, stuck on the EUA-licensing (experimental). I also ignored their stated willingness to be tested every few days, partly because that’s nothing to do with the vaccines per se, partly because I’m guessing they are lying (they said they’d effectively ignore the Health Pass rules), and mostly because the fees that will (eventually) be charged precisely to stop that sort of behaviour might just work, even for this eejit.

    The mildly-deranged penguin’s reply would probably have been something like:

    A quarter of the world’s population, forcibly injected with 3.5 billion jabs of a untested toxin, have become magnetised microchipped robots for Bill Gates and Dr Fuci, so you’re quite right to avoid the Covidgestapo. The selflessness of over 4 million of the brave Resistance like you, who have died opposing the Covid and its gestapo, is to be applauded and encouraged. Please continue to help invent newer more-contagious more-deadly variants, we badly need to stop the Gates–Fauci robotic hordes depriving those few of us of really know of a cup of coffee, a movie, a trip to the our children’s graves (victims of the Covidgespato), and cheese. No more cheese is but a small price to pay for getting sick and dying! Via la Revolution!! Down with Vaccines!!!

  130. KG says


    In the face of all the authoritarian legislation the Johnson junta is pushing through, the nonsense that Johnson has “libertarian instincts” is still promulgated, even in the Guardian.

  131. KG says

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is being transferred to Sao Paulo to undergo tests for an obstructed intestine – SC@162 quoting Reuters

    Looks like he’s literally as well as metaphorically full of shit. He may owe his Presidency to the 2018 stabbing, and I don’t want him to die, as that would give the Brazilian right the chance to select a less discredited candidate for next year’s election.

  132. says

    Update – NBC – “Brazil’s Bolsonaro hospitalized after 10 days of hiccups, won’t undergo immediate surgery”:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is receiving treatment in hospital after suffering persistent hiccups for 10 days.

    Bolsonaro, 66, was diagnosed with an intestinal obstruction on Wednesday evening after being taken to a hospital in São Paulo, according to state-run news agency Agência Brasil.

    While it was initially feared that Bolsonaro would have to undergo emergency surgery, doctors said he would be receiving “conservative clinical treatment” for now.

    The president shared a photo of himself in hospital on Twitter, writing: “We’ll be back soon, God willing. Brazil is ours!”…

  133. says

    CNN – “Dozens killed in flooding caused by rainfall ‘not seen in 100 years’ in Europe”:

    At least 46 people have died due to severe flooding in western Europe, caused by what experts described as the heaviest rainfall in a century.

    Up to 70 people are missing in Germany after flash floods swept across western and southern parts of the country, causing buildings to collapse, police said Thursday. Germany is worst hit with 40 people killed, while six people died in Belgium. Luxembourg and the Netherlands are also affected.

    ”In some areas we have not seen this much rainfall in 100 years,” Andreas Friedrich, a German weather service (DWD) spokesman, told CNN. He added that “in some areas we’ve seen more than double the amount of rainfall which has caused flooding and unfortunately some building structures to collapse.”

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman offered her condolences to the families of the victims. ”I am shocked by the disaster that so many people in the flood areas have to endure. My sympathies go out to the families of the dead and missing,” Steffen Seibert wrote on Twitter.

    Merkel is currently in Washington DC to meet President Joe Biden Thursday during what is likely her last visit to the US before stepping down as Chancellor in the fall after 16 years in power.

    Armin Laschet, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Conservatives’ candidate to succeed Merkel, visited North-Rhine Westphalia on Thursday.

    “We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate protection measures, on European, federal and global levels, because climate change isn’t confined to one state,” Laschett said.

    In neighboring Belgium, at least six people died in floods in the southern region of Wallonia, CNN affiliate RTBF reported Thursday, citing the magistrate on duty at the Verviers prosecutor’s office and the governor of the Liège province.

    DWD spokesman Friedrich said the downpours were caused by cooler and warmer rainfall mixing. “It came from France at the beginning of the week to Germany and has been sitting over Germany for the last 48 hours,” he said.

    ”For now we predict the worst of the torrential rainfall is over, though more heavy rain is due in southwestern Germany on the upper reaches of the Rhine, [Thursday] and Friday,” he added.

  134. says

    Guardian – “Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House”:

    Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents.

    The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present.

    They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position.

    Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature.

    By this point Trump was the frontrunner in the Republican party’s nomination race. A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use “all possible force” to ensure a Trump victory.

    Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin.

    The Guardian has shown the documents to independent experts who say they appear to be genuine. Incidental details come across as accurate. The overall tone and thrust is said to be consistent with Kremlin security thinking.

    There is a brief psychological assessment of Trump, who is described as an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex”.

    There is also apparent confirmation that the Kremlin possesses kompromat, or potentially compromising material, on the future president, collected – the document says – from Trump’s earlier “non-official visits to Russian Federation territory”.

    The paper refers to “certain events” that happened during Trump’s trips to Moscow. Security council members are invited to find details in appendix five, at paragraph five, the document states. It is unclear what the appendix contains.

    “It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his [Trump’s] election to the post of US president,” the paper says.

    This would help bring about Russia’s favoured “theoretical political scenario”. A Trump win “will definitely lead to the destabilisation of the US’s sociopolitical system” and see hidden discontent burst into the open, it predicts.

    There is no doubt that the meeting in January 2016 took place – and that it was convened inside the Kremlin.

    An official photo of the occasion shows Putin at the head of the table, seated beneath a Russian Federation flag and a two-headed golden eagle. Russia’s then prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, attended, together with the veteran foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

    Also present were Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister in charge of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency; Mikhail Fradkov, the then chief of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service; and Alexander Bortnikov, the boss of the FSB spy agency.Nikolai Patrushev, the FSB’s former director, attended too as security council secretary.

    The author appears to be Vladimir Symonenko, the senior official in charge of the Kremlin’s expert department – which provides Putin with analytical material and reports, some of them based on foreign intelligence.

    What was said inside the second-floor Kremlin senate building room is unknown. But the president and his intelligence officials appear to have signed off on a multi-agency plan to interfere in US democracy, framed in terms of justified self-defence.

    There are paragraphs on how Russia might insert “media viruses” into American public life, which could become self-sustaining and self-replicating. These would alter mass consciousness, especially in certain groups, it says.

    Moscow would gain most from a Republican victory, the paper states. This could lead to a “social explosion” that would in turn weaken the US president, it says. There were international benefits from a Trump win, it stresses. Putin would be able in clandestine fashion to dominate any US-Russia bilateral talks, to deconstruct the White House’s negotiating position, and to pursue bold foreign policy initiatives on Russia’s behalf, it says….

    Much more atl.

  135. says


    “EU launches legal action over LGBTQ+ rights in Hungary and Poland”:

    The EU executive has launched legal action against Hungary and Poland to defend LGBTQ+ rights in the latest battle over values with the two nationalist governments in central Europe.

    The announcement that Hungary and Poland’s governments could end up in the EU’s highest court is part of an ongoing existential fight for the rule of law and freedom from discrimination in the heart of Europe.

    The announcements on Thursday came soon after the ECJ ruled that Poland’s system of disciplining judges was incompatible with EU law.

    That ruling intensifies the conflict between EU authorities and the Polish government, one day after Poland’s top court rejected an ECJ demand to suspend a newly created body to discipline supreme court judges, a decision described as legal “Polexit” by the EU….

    “How public ‘apologies’ are used against domestic abuse victims in Chechnya”:

    …Forced confessions or retractions have been commonly used in Chechnya since Ramzan Kadyrov became leader in 2007, to intimidate people and spread propaganda suggesting that the republic is a utopia where there are no human rights violations. Kadyrov was appointed by Vladimir Putin, whom he idolises, and with whom he shares a certain macho style. He is often called pachchakh in Chechen, which comes from the Farsi word padishah, meaning “king”. In the past he has said that women should expect to be beaten in marriage and has supported “honour” killings. He has imposed an Islamic dress code, dictating that women should wear long dresses and headscarves.

    Public retractions have become so common over the years that there are jokes circulating on the internet about people having to do them for all manner of perceived wrongdoing, including leaving negative comments on social media about the Chechen leadership. The Caucasian Knot, an online news publication, has recorded that there have been 25 public apologies this year alone.

    Now those whom the Guardian have spoken to have said these filmed retractions are being used as part of a backlash against women’s rights. Change is glacial but gender roles are starting to shift, says [Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, director at the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Center]. “More women are earning good money, becoming more independent,” she says. “They are getting a higher education, running businesses, becoming successful in science and art.”

    As a result of these changes, some women try to escape violent situations in Chechnya when they would not have done so before, aided by a growing network of activists. The Russian LGBT Network does a lot of public work and there are Instagram pages where women ask each other for help, but many activists maintain a low profile for security concerns and because they are stigmatised.

    These cases of women attempting to fight for their rights ended in tragedy, acknowledges Sokiryanskaya. “They had a small chance, and now it’s gone. Their lives are over.”

    She believes, however, that the publicity surrounding the stories is prompting discussion and raising awareness. Forced confessions have become so common that no one believes them any more, she says.

    But the confessions and retractions will continue as part of the regime’s arsenal of tactics to suppress and threaten women in the face of social change.

    “Every action brings a counter action,” says Janette Akhilgova, Russia and Caucasus consultant at the women’s rights organisation Equality Now. “The development of shelters, talking about women’s rights, having defenders, all makes neo-patriarchal forces act more aggressively and this is one reason why [these confessions] are happening.”

    More at both links.

  136. says

    Here’s a link to the July 15 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    UK records 63 new deaths

    The UK has recorded another sharp rise in Covid cases and deaths in its latest figures. It recorded 63 fatalities, a day after recording 49 new deaths. This is the highest daily increase in deaths since late March and underlines warnings that while the vaccine programme has weakened the link between new cases and deaths it has not broken it.

    New cases are now at 48,553, the highest level since January.

    Follow-up to blf’s #163 and 164 above:

    Police have fired teargas to disperse demonstrators in Paris, as thousands of people protested throughout France over new coronavirus restrictions.

    Protests began in the French capital on Wednesday morning as the annual military parade for the traditional Bastille Day parade was taking place along the famous Champs-Élysées watched by president Emmanuel Macron.

    The demonstrators are unhappy at the decision announced on Monday to oblige health workers to get vaccinated and bring in a vaccine health pass for most public places.

    Unvaccinated people would require, for example, a negative test result to enter restaurants….

    This article from Conspiracy Watch, “« Dictature sanitaire » : à Nancy, les masques tombent,” suggests a significant potential for violence.

  137. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Covid deaths in Africa rise by 43% in a week

    Coronavirus-linked deaths in Africa surged by 43% in a week, driven by a lack of intensive-care beds and oxygen, AFP reports citing the World Health Organization.

    Fatalities associated with Covid in the WHO’s Africa region, which includes North Africa, rose to 6,273 in the week of 5-11 July, compared with 4,384 in the previous week.

    The agency’s regional director, Matshidiso Moeti, told a virtual press conference that the rise was “a clear warning sign that hospitals in the most affected countries are reaching breaking point”.

    It is crucial that African countries to beef up oxygen production to help patients suffering from the disease’s worst symptoms, she said, speaking from the Congo capital of Brazzaville.

    The WHO said the rise in deaths paralleled a chronic shortage of vaccines, a spread in the more contagious Delta variant, which was now being detected in 21 African countries, along with public fatigue over prevention measures.

    Africa has officially recorded over six million cases of Covid-19, a figure that is far lower than on other continents but one that experts say is likely to be a big underestimate.

  138. says

    CNN – “‘They’re not going to [fucking] succeed’: Top generals feared Trump would attempt a coup after election, according to new book”:

    The top US military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, was so shaken that then-President Donald Trump and his allies might attempt a coup or take other dangerous or illegal measures after the November election that Milley and other top officials informally planned for different ways to stop Trump, according to excerpts of an upcoming book obtained by CNN.

    The book, from Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, describes how Milley and the other Joint Chiefs discussed a plan to resign, one-by-one, rather than carry out orders from Trump that they considered to be illegal, dangerous or ill-advised.

    “It was a kind of Saturday Night Massacre in reverse,” Leonnig and Rucker write.

    The book, “I Alone Can Fix It,” scheduled to be released next Tuesday, chronicles Trump’s final year as president, with a behind-the-scenes look at how senior administration officials and Trump’s inner circle navigated his increasingly unhinged behavior after losing the 2020 election. The authors interviewed Trump for more than two hours.

    The book recounts how for the first time in modern US history the nation’s top military officer, whose role is to advise the president, was preparing for a showdown with the commander in chief because he feared a coup attempt after Trump lost the November election.

    The authors explain Milley’s growing concerns that personnel moves that put Trump acolytes in positions of power at the Pentagon after the November 2020 election, including the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, were the sign of something sinister to come.

    Milley spoke to friends, lawmakers and colleagues about the threat of a coup, and the Joint Chiefs chairman felt he had to be “on guard” for what might come.

    “They may try, but they’re not going to [fucking] succeed,” Milley told his deputies, according to the authors. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.”

    In the days leading up to January 6, Leonnig and Rucker write, Milley was worried about Trump’s call to action. “Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military.”

    Milley viewed Trump as “the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,” the authors write, and he saw parallels between Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric as a victim and savior and Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

    “This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides, according to the book. “The gospel of the Führer.”

    Ahead of a November pro-Trump “Million MAGA March” to protest the election results, Milley told aides he feared it “could be the modern American equivalent of ‘brownshirts in the streets,'” referring to the pro-Nazi militia that fueled Hitler’s rise to power.

    The book also contains several striking anecdotes about prominent women during the Trump presidency, including GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former first lady Michelle Obama.

    The book details a phone call the day after the January 6 insurrection between Milley and Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who has close military ties. Cheney voted to impeach Trump and has been an outspoken critic of his election lies, leading to her ouster from House GOP leadership.

    Milley asked Cheney how she was doing.

    “That [fucking] guy Jim Jordan. That son of a [b-tch],” Cheney said, according to the book.

    Cheney bluntly relayed to Milley what she experienced on the House floor on January 6 while pro-Trump rioters overran police and breached the Capitol building, including a run-in with Jordan, a staunch Trump ally in the House who feverishly tried to overturn the election.

    Cheney described to Milley her exchange with Jordan: “While these maniacs are going through the place, I’m standing in the aisle and he said, ‘We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.’ I smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You [fucking] did this.'”

    The book reveals Pelosi’s private conversations with Milley during this tenuous period. When Trump fired Esper in November, Pelosi was one of several lawmakers who called Milley. “We are all trusting you,” she said. “Remember your oath.”

    After the January 6 insurrection, Pelosi told the general she was deeply concerned that a “crazy,” “dangerous” and “maniac” Trump might use nuclear weapons during his final days in office.

    “Ma’am, I guarantee you these processes are very good,” Milley reassured her. “There’s not going to be an accidental firing of nuclear weapons.”

    …In an interview with the authors, Pelosi said she fears another president could try to pick up where Trump left off.

    “We might get somebody of his ilk who’s sane, and that would really be dangerous, because it could be somebody who’s smart, who’s strategic, and the rest,” Pelosi said. “This is a slob. He doesn’t believe in science. He doesn’t believe in governance. He’s a snake-oil salesman. And he’s shrewd. Give him credit for his shrewdness.”

    The book quotes Trump, who had a strained relationship with Merkel, as telling his advisers during an Oval Office meeting about NATO and the US relationship with Germany, “That [b-tch] Merkel.”

    “‘I know the [fucking] krauts,’ the president added, using a derogatory term for German soldiers from World War I and World War II,” Leonnig and Rucker write. “Trump then pointed to a framed photograph of his father, Fred Trump, displayed on the table behind the Resolute Desk and said, ‘I was raised by the biggest kraut of them all.'”

    After January 6, Milley participated in a drill with military and law enforcement leaders to prepare for the January 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden. Washington was on lockdown over fears that far-right groups like the Proud Boys might try to violently disrupt the transfer of power.

    Milley told a group of senior leaders, “Here’s the deal, guys: These guys are Nazis, they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II. We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in.”

    The book ends with Milley describing his relief that there had not been a coup, thinking to himself, “Thank God Almighty, we landed the ship safely.”

    Milley expressed his relief in the moments after Biden was sworn in, speaking to the Obamas sitting on the inauguration stage. Michelle Obama asked Milley how he was feeling.

    “No one has a bigger smile today than I do,” Milley said, according to Leonnig and Rucker. “You can’t see it under my mask, but I do.”

    More atl.

  139. says

    TPM – “House Oversight Dems Request Records From Arizona ‘Auditor’ Cyber Ninjas”:

    Two senior Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want answers from the company running the politicized “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election results.

    House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who chairs the panel’s subcommittee on civil rights to civil liberties, wrote to Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan — who before this past election had no experience in the world of election administration — with a lengthy request for information.

    “We are concerned about your company’s role in this highly unusual effort, given Cyber Ninjas’ apparent lack of experience in conducting election-related audits; reports that the company engaged in sloppy and insecure audit practices that compromised the integrity of ballots and voting equipment and were questioned by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ); and evidence that you and other individuals funding the audit have sought to advance the ‘big lie’ of debunked voter fraud allegations in the November 2020 presidential election,” they wrote.

    The audit has, in fact, been a disaster, running on weeks past its initial deadline, and costing Maricopa County millions of dollars in voting machines that the county decided to replace due to concerns about the auditors’ handling of them.

    “Your company’s actions also may have introduced significant errors into the audit process,” Maloney and Raskin wrote to Logan, noting recent comments from state Senate President Karen Fann (R) — who authorized the audit and selected Cyber Ninjas for the job in the first place — said Tuesday that the “audit” vote numbers don’t match the county’s sum.

    The committee asked for more than two pages of materials from Cyber Ninjas…

  140. says

    CNBC – “35.2 million families just got the first monthly child tax credit payment”:

    It’s a historic day for U.S. families with children.

    Roughly $15 billion has been sent to 35.2 million families in the first of six advance child tax credit payments, according to the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS. The average payment in the first round is $423, and will reach nearly 60 million children, the agency said.

    “For the first time in our nation’s history, American working families are receiving monthly tax relief payments to help pay for essentials like doctor’s visits, school supplies, and groceries,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a statement. “This major middle-class tax relief and step in reducing child poverty is a remarkable economic victory for America — and also a moral one.”

    The enhanced child tax credit is one of the largest anti-poverty measures seen in the U.S. since President Lyndon B Johnson’s war on poverty was launched in 1964. It’s also the first time a major tax credit has been sent in advanced payments, and on a monthly basis, according to Treasury senior administration officials.

    “It is a huge deal,” said Arohi Pathak, director of policy at the Poverty to Prosperity program at the Center for American Progress. ”[The child tax credit] is a huge relief for way too many working parents and particularly during this pandemic.”

    Beyond giving families with kids more money, the enhanced credit was also made fully refundable to ensure relief would reach the poorest households.

    A fully refundable credit means that families don’t have to have any taxable income to claim the benefit. This will reach about 27 million children, representing half of the Black and Latino youth who previously did not get the credit, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    “It’s going to target the folks who need the support the most,” said Joanna Ain, associate director of policy at Prosperity Now, a financial literacy nonprofit organization.

    With the change, the enhanced credit will reach nearly 90% of children, according to the IRS. It will also lift about 4.1 million above the poverty line, including 1.7 million who are Latino, 1.2 million who are Black and 814,000 who are Asian-American, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This will slash the child poverty rate by roughly 40% and lift even more out of deep poverty, according to the Center.

    Another estimate by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University found that the enhanced tax credit would slash child poverty by 45% and reduce poverty by 52% for Black children, 45% for Hispanic children and nearly 62% for Native American children.

    The timing may also help offset programs that have helped families make it through the pandemic but are ending soon, such as additional unemployment insurance, the eviction moratorium and mortgage forbearance program.

    Currently, the credit is only available for the tax year 2021, meaning that in December the monthly payments will abruptly cease.

    But lawmakers are pushing to extend the benefit or make it permanent. President Joe Biden has proposed keeping the enhanced credit in the coming years in his infrastructure package, and several congressional Democrats want to make the benefit permanent.

    “Our position has been clear — we must make the child tax credit permanent,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., at a press event on Wednesday. “We have a real opportunity here, not to just throw money at a problem, but to build an architecture for the future and use this as a moment to lift up all children and families.”

    Even though legislation has not yet been passed, the Treasury Department and IRS are preparing for the the program to last more than a year.

    “It is nobody’s plan that this will exist for just 2021,” a senior administration official said on a Wednesday call with reporters.

  141. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Hundreds more bodies than usual are being taken for funerals every day in junta-ruled Myanmar as a new wave of Covid-19 sweeps through the country, services transporting the bodies and arranging ceremonies said.

    The number of funerals at the Yay Way cemetery in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, was around 200 per day over the past week, well over double the number that would normally be expected, funeral services said.

    Reuters reports there were similar increases at two other cemeteries in the city with 400 to 500 people being cremated there per day, they said.

    “We have to transport the dead bodies to different cemeteries. We are making more than 40 trips a day,” said Bo Sein, 52, who operates a charity service transporting bodies.

    “Seeing the dead bodies at the cemetery today, I was thinking that it will not be easy to continue like this. The rich and the poor, all died of Covid,” said Bo Sein, who himself kits up in protective equipment to transport the bodies.

    The founder of another free funeral service in Yangon, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, said he had called for volunteers because his 18 team members could no longer cope.

    Coronavirus cases started to rise in Myanmar in June, and have soared in the past two weeks, with a record 7,089 infections reported on Wednesday.

    According to official figures, there have been more than 208,000 infections and 4,181 deaths in the country since the start of the pandemic. Health workers believe the case numbers are far higher than officially reported because testing collapsed after the military seized power from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February.

  142. says

    SC @169, one thing that the leak (apparently from someone in the Kremlin inner circle) says to me is that the Russians now think that Trump is a spent force. They think that Trump will not win the presidency in 2024 (if he runs again). The Russians aren’t afraid of Trump, and they do not view Trump as a good fit for future presidential office. Are they leaking to further weaken Trump now that they’re done with him?

    Of course, the Russians will still use every tool at their disposal to weaken the USA, and that toolbox includes amplifying trumpian conspiracy theories, amplifying or generating anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, etc.

  143. says

    SC @178, and Trump says that his walk to St. John’s Church in order to pose with a bible “has now been proven to be totally appropriate.” Sheesh. Hell no.

  144. blf says

    Follow-up to various preceding comments about France’s newly-announced pandemic measures, mostly the requirement for a Health Pass to go restaurants, on long-distance trains, etc., France achieves record Covid jabs with Macron’s ‘big stick’ approach:

    Within 72 hours of the French learning they would soon need to be vaccinated or tested to go to the cafe, more than 3 million had booked appointments and France had broken its vaccination record, administering 800,000 shots in a single day [roughly double, I believe, of the previous high –blf].


    Polls show more than 65% public support for the range of measures unveiled by Emmanuel Macron on Monday, aimed, in the president’s words, not at “making vaccination immediately obligatory for everyone … but at pushing a maximum of you to go and get vaccinated”.

    [… loons…]

    With models predicting 35,000 new cases a day if no action is taken, the government has stressed that the coercive measures, which it has called “maximum inducement”, are essential if France is to avoid a deadly fourth wave and more lockdowns.

    “The choice is between another lockdown or the health pass — this is not punishment, nor blackmail,” said the health minister, Olivier Véran. According to an Elabe poll, 76% of the French people back mandatory vaccination for health workers and travellers, while 58% support it for cafes, restaurants and other public places.

    I went to one of the better restaurants in the village for lunch today, and the staff seemed delighted with the measure.

    [… C]onstitutional experts have said they believe the plans are compatible with France’s basic principles and laws. “The constitutional imperative of preserving public health has already necessitated the greatest assault on individual liberties since the second world war: lockdown,” noted one expert, Jean Philippe Derosier.

    Another, Dominique Rousseau, told Le Monde that “as far as the law is concerned, there is no constitutional obstacle. The public interest is at stake and that justifies these arbitrations between safety and liberty.”

    As an aside, the nutcase in @164 has replied, ignoring all my points, and (paraphrasing) claiming they “follow world news”, calling my reply “condensing”. I’m currently too tired (both sleepy and in the British sense of enjoying the fine vin from lunch) to reply tonight.

  145. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    * Jason Roe, the executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, has been under fire for months for having rejected Donald Trump’s Big Lie about the election. Yesterday, Roe resigned. [Roe will no doubt be replaced with a trumpian lickspittle.]

    * In Arizona, officials in Maricopa County have settled on a plan to spend nearly $3 million to replace voting equipment that was compromised by the Cyber Ninjas.

    * Texas Democratic legislators who fled the state to derail a pernicious Republican voter-suppression bill, spent yesterday on Capitol Hill, urging senators to approve federal voting protections.

    * On a related note, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) threatening to arrest the Democratic legislators, the NAACP this week offered to cover their bail costs. “War has been declared on democracy, and we will support anyone who stands up to defend it,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “We are fully invested in good trouble.” [Good!]

    * In the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) traveled to Mar-a-Lago to confer with Trump. Today, McCarthy will travel to the former president’s resort in New Jersey for another Trump meeting.

    * The Washington Post reports that a variety of White House allies — including House Majority Forward, Building Back Together, and the League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power — are all investing in expensive ad campaigns in support of President Biden’s legislative agenda. [Good.] […]


  146. says

    Oh, FFS. This is terrible.

    As El Paso shooting anniversary approaches, Cruz spews racist lie about immigrants spreading disease.

    Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is now trying to pin new COVID-19 cases on undocumented immigrants, falsely claiming that “[i]n South Texas, we’re seeing #COVID positivity rates rising and it’s a direct result of illegal aliens being released into communities.” Not only is this a despicable lie, it’s a racist one with a long, disturbing history.

    “The trope that migrants bring diseases that threaten immigrant-receiving countries is among the most pervasive myths touted in anti-immigrant discourse,” PRI’s The World reported in 2019. “Decades of research have debunked the idea that modern immigrants writ large pose an extreme health risk to receiving countries.” Not that Ted and pals care, because they’re intent on running on a racist playbook in 2022 even if it did cost them 2020.

    […] You know, if Cancun Ted is currently in the U.S. and really looking for one of the main culprits, he should try the governor’s mansion. Back in March, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott rushed to lift pandemic restrictions, including blocking “county and city governments from requiring masks, or from limiting business operation, or doing essentially anything to protect their citizens,” […] Just one day later, Greg tried to blame his superspreading on, you guessed it, asylum-seekers.

    But when later asked to back up his lie, Greg had nada. The truth is Abbott “rejected offers from the Biden administration for help with testing and quarantining migrants, saying that job belongs entirely to the federal government,” ABC News reported in March. “The infection rates for all arriving immigrants are lower than for Texas as a whole, local officials and nonprofit groups serving those families say.”

    […] “the claim has always been that these groups were not only racially inferior, but that they brought particularly dangerous and contagious diseases that would end up harming the US native population.”

    […] another Texas Republican, Louie Gohmert, suggested bringing in the Texas National Guard to “stop the invasion,” claiming “we don’t know what diseases they’re bringing in,” said The Plot Against Immigrants, a project of Western States Center. Texas Observer reported at the time that “Guatemala has universal health care. Vaccines are 100 percent funded by the government … By comparison, one in six kids in Texas is uninsured, and even insured families often must pay for vaccination.”

    For Ted, Greg, Louie, and the rest of their Republican buddies, this is all gross, political gamesmanship. They are desperate for power, and have no care for the real-life consequences that can follow this anti-immigrant rhetoric.

    “On August 2, it will be two years since a gunman—motivated by racism—drove nine hours to El Paso to shoot and kill immigrants,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts tweeted. “Ted Cruz knows full well that his dangerous rhetoric puts a target on the back of every brown person in Texas.”

  147. says

    Guardian – “Huge study supporting ivermectin as Covid treatment withdrawn over ethical concerns”:

    The efficacy of a drug being promoted by rightwing figures worldwide for treating Covid-19 is in serious doubt after a major study suggesting the treatment is effective against the virus was withdrawn due to “ethical concerns”.

    The preprint study on the efficacy and safety of ivermectin – a drug used against parasites such as worms and headlice – in treating Covid-19, led by Dr Ahmed Elgazzar from Benha University in Egypt, was published on the Research Square website in November.

    It claimed to be a randomised control trial, a type of study crucial in medicine because it is considered to provide the most reliable evidence on the effectiveness of interventions due to the minimal risk of confounding factors influencing the results. Elgazzar is listed as chief editor of the Benha Medical Journal, and is an editorial board member.

    The study found that patients with Covid-19 treated in hospital who “received ivermectin early reported substantial recovery” and that there was “a substantial improvement and reduction in mortality rate in ivermectin treated groups” by 90%.

    But the drug’s promise as a treatment for the virus is in serious doubt after the Elgazzar study was pulled from the Research Square website on Thursday “due to ethical concerns”. Research Square did not outline what those concerns were.

    A medical student in London, Jack Lawrence, was among the first to identify serious concerns about the paper, leading to the retraction. He first became aware of the Elgazzar preprint when it was assigned to him by one of his lecturers for an assignment that formed part of his master’s degree….

    The Elgazzar study was one of the the largest and most promising showing the drug may help Covid patients, and has often been cited by proponents of the drug as evidence of its effectiveness. This is despite a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases in June finding ivermectin is “not a viable option to treat COVID-19 patients”.

    Meyerowitz-Katz told the Guardian that “this is one of the biggest ivermectin studies out there”, and it appeared to him the data was “just totally faked”. This was concerning because two meta-analyses of ivermectin for treating Covid-19 had included the Elgazzar study in the results….

    “Because the Elgazzar study is so large, and so massively positive – showing a 90% reduction in mortality – it hugely skews the evidence in favour of ivermectin,” Meyerowitz-Katz said.

    “If you remove this one study from the scientific literature, suddenly there are very few positive randomised control trials of ivermectin for Covid-19. Indeed, if you get rid of just this research, most meta-analyses that have found positive results would have their conclusions entirely reversed.”

    Lawrence said what started out as a simple university assignment had led to a comprehensive investigation into an apparent scientific fraud at a time when “there is a whole ivermectin hype … dominated by a mix of right-wing figures, anti-vaxxers and outright conspiracists”.

    “Although science trends towards self-correction, something is clearly broken in a system that can allow a study as full of problems as the Elgazzar paper to run unchallenged for seven months,” he said.

    “Thousands of highly educated scientists, doctors, pharmacists, and at least four major medicines regulators missed a fraud so apparent that it might as well have come with a flashing neon sign. That this all happened amid an ongoing global health crisis of epic proportions is all the more terrifying.”

  148. says

    Tucker Carlson’s background:

    […] I can’t help but believe all these efforts to explore whether Tucker—who has been a rancid, insufferable twit for decades now—is really a white nationalist scumbag or is just faking it for the sweet, sweet television fame. Maybe they’re trying to find a depth to the Tucker schtick that isn’t really there.

    In the new piece [from the Washington Post], we learn that a young first-grade Tucker himself says he began his archconservative path when he needed tutoring help to learn phonics, an early setback that he blames on a woman. Specifically, his then-teacher, who he now paints as a crazy hippie sort (the teacher, interviewed by the Post, is gracious as she suggests that she has no idea what the hell her once-charge is going on about). Various biographical hints suggest that little Tucker’s contempt for his womanfolk teacher might have more to do with being abandoned by his mother at around the same time, which might be interesting if Tucker was the sort of person worth such psychoanalysis.

    Oh, and we also learn he once toured a memorial to the African slave trade with Black leaders and came away with a seriously inflamed case of rich white asshole grievance, which isn’t remotely surprising and is, in fact, an encapsulation of the professional angryboy’s entire life’s work.

    The problem with all these attempts to psychoanalyze Tucker Carlson and determine what makes him tick is that there is no mystery to be solved. Tucker Carlson is quite possibly one of the most boring people alive. He doesn’t do anything that isn’t borrowed directly from past pundit gadflies. He offers no rhetorical schtick or intellectual pseudoheft that is not a dull pantomime of his ideology’s past malcontents. […]

    While I was growing up in various working-class neighborhoods of San Diego, places close to the U.S.-Mexican border and in schools where Spanish was spoken by a good chunk of each student body, the Tucker Carlson presented by the Post was growing up as a young boy in nearby La Jolla, in one of the wealthiest and most exclusive towns on the North American continent, an intensely and aggressively racist enclave in which rich white folks owned well-maintained seaside homes with impeccable landscaping and everybody else was The Help. […]

    T’was in this environment that wee Tucker grew up immensely self-regarding and pompous, as was the style of the time, and based his entire personality around the notion that he and his neighborkin were the deserving ones while whatever problems he faced were because The Help, in the form of an ostensibly too-liberal (in f–king LA JOLLA??) first-grade teacher or the like, were dummies who were failing him.

    […] He follows the agonizingly narrow routine of finding something that some not-white-male or ally to a not-white-male has done on any particular day, furrowing his brows really tightly, and solemnly declaring that all of society is on the verge of collapse because of the audacity of Those Jerks.

    It ain’t new. It ain’t different. It ain’t interesting. […] this grievance encompasses all of modern conservatism. It’s the only play.

    But is Tucker Carlson, personally, a white nationalist? Yes! Yes he is! Why are you even arguing about this? It doesn’t matter what he says in interviews or what Fox News burps out in defensive statements: Tucker regularly and relentlessly promotes white nationalist leaders to parrot white nationalist concepts while “just asking questions” about white nationalist paranoias while white nationalist framing scrolls by underneath his paralyzed eyebrows, and even when his false or crooked claims result in violence he only doubles down afterward. Is there still allegedly some question about this? Why? […]

    A far more interesting probe that hasn’t been done yet might be a probe of the Fox News executives and board members that continue to protect Tucker Carlson, the most prominent political advocate of violence-provoking white nationalist groups,[…] Who are the executives backing Tucker […] Are those executives white nationalists? […]

    Somebody go interview the Fox News board members and get their stance on the escalating rhetoric of the insurrection apologist who is just asking questions about whether America is intentionally oppressing its white folks in order to elevate immigrants and schoolteachers whose trend-averse clothing habits have forever traumatized wealthy La Jolla children. […] We’re full up on explorations of whether Tucker is just pretending to be a sociopathic monster or really means it; give us an analysis of whether the multimillionaire rat bastards who keep him on the air are just in it for the cash or if they’re full-throated ideologic backers of Tucker’s attempts to wed “proper” conservatism to the white nationalist militia movement and wash his hands of what happens next.


  149. says

    From a Medium post by Gideon M-K, one of the people quoted in the Guardian article @ #186, <href=”″>”Is Ivermectin for Covid-19 Based on Fraudulent Research?”:

    I don’t know for sure that this study is fraudulent, and perhaps we never will. But we do know that no one should ever have used it as evidence for anything regardless. We will have to reckon with the fact that a truly woeful piece of research, which may turn out to be fraud, was put online and used to drive treatment to millions of people around the world.

    And no one noticed until it was far, far too late.

  150. says

    The Moral [Immoral, stupid, unfounded panic] Panic Over Critical Race Theory Is Coming for a North Carolina Teacher of the Year

    In the first week of classes in August, Rodney D. Pierce, a social studies teacher at Red Oak Middle School in Battleboro, North Carolina, set the stage for his 8th graders by sharing a quote from James Baldwin: “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” Pierce told the students they were going to learn about both the “beautiful and the horrifying parts” of the state and country’s past. “We need to talk about all of it,” he explained “because that is American history.”

    The fight over how to teach American history to children […] often comes back to whose history is being discussed. For Pierce, a Black teacher of many Black students, it’s impossible to avoid racism. For years, he has spoken openly about this in the concrete and the local: the town names, the monuments to Confederates, the horrific lynchings. He has gone above his mandate of teaching to the test because the test did not include the explanations of events that led to the world his students inhabit. He was rewarded by earning social studies teacher of the year in 2019 and has been tasked with helping write the new standards for the state to make sure others follow his lead.

    […] In the past year, parents have complained to school administrators about a perceived political slant in his work. When he repeated something former President Donald Trump said verbatim, they accused him of lying. […] “They’re really reaching for anything they can get on me,” Pierce says. “I started feeling like a target.”

    […] Pierce has been teaching social studies for six years; the past two at Red Oak. Located less than 30 miles west of Princeville, one of the first incorporated African American towns in the country, the school sits in an affluent and fairly conservative area of Nash County. Although still predominately white, Nash has shifted in the past decades. The Black population has grown. It has become more Democratic. Pierce says he still sees “Trump-Pence 2020” signs outside the Dollar General store across the street from the school. But Biden won there, even if just by 120 votes. More than 50 percent of his students are Black and 10 percent are Hispanic, which informs his teaching philosophy of “inspiration and empowerment” and challenges him as an educator and historian. As a Black teacher talking about racism and slavery in a racially diverse community, Pierce is both the object of admiration and disapproval. “The last thing I want to do is alienate a kid,” he explains. But if he ignores race, what would his Black students think happened?

    [snipped many examples] he talks to them about the 1970 bombing of a formerly all-Black school in reaction to imminent integration. In the fall, he plans to discuss the Black rights group Concerned Citizens of Battleboro, who led the 1994 boycott of local white-owned businesses to protest law enforcement harassment. All of it, Pierce says, is about showing students their own community is part of history and making sure they are able to see themselves within the content and the curriculum.

    […] “All the questions or concerns that came to my desk were from white parents and I didn’t have similar complaints about white teachers even though we’re teaching the same thing in all classrooms.” [said Mudd, this year’s principal of the year for the Nash County Public Schools district]

    In a February email, a parent wrote:

    […] I can tell you that I have personally never owned a slave or think that anyone should have slaves. […] I don’t consider myself as a racist but it seems society is labeling me one just because of my color. I cannot pay for the sins of my forefathers.

    […] I’m not understanding with all the opportunities that we have for all why we are blaming our race or gender or whatever it may be when something doesn’t go our way but that is what it seems to me being taught to our kids.

    […] In May, the North Carolina House voted along partisan lines to move to the Senate the “Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools” bill prohibiting public schools from promoting concepts such as that an individual should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish” or bear responsibility for actions from the past based on their race or sex; and opposing the characterization that the belief that the United States is a meritocracy is “inherently racist or sexist.” In support of the legislation, the Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt vouched to eradicate CRT from classrooms, saying, “There is no room for divisive rhetoric that condones preferential treatment of any one group over another.” Democratic Rep. James Gailliard of Nash County called it a “don’t-hurt-my-feelings bill” that reproduces “discrimination, fanaticism, bigotry.”


  151. says

    The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have postponed a game scheduled for Thursday night because of another COVID-19 outbreak within the Yankees organization.

    “Following positive COVID-19 tests within the New York Yankees organization, tonight’s game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium has been postponed to allow for continued testing and contact tracing,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. […]

    Three players on the Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, and Wandy Peralta, tested positive for COVID-19, according to the team’s general manager Brian Cashman […]

    Some covid test results are not yet in. MLB claims that three of the positive COVID19 tests within the Yankees organization were of players that were vaccinated.

  152. says

    Wonkette: “Loser Trump Crawling Up Walls And Chewing The Furniture, It’s Pretty Great”

    And now, a message from the former president of the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD:

    Nobody had ever heard of some of these people that worked for me in D.C. All of a sudden, the Fake News starts calling them. Some of them—by no means all—feel emboldened, brave, and for the first time in their lives, they feel like “something special,” not the losers that they are—and they talk, talk, talk!

    Many say I am the greatest star-maker of all time. But some of the stars I produced are actually made of garbage.

    Hahahahahahahaha that loser is fucking crawling up the walls and chewing on the furniture, he is so miserable and apoplectic about all the people he used to work with who are now speaking out about what a loser Hitler wannabe sack of shit he is. […]

    […] He’s real fuckin’ upset about everything Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker for their book, about how Trump reminded him of Hitler, and how Milley did his damnedest to make sure President LoserPants would not be able to seize control of the CIA, FBI, or military to mount a coup to preserve his grasp on power.

    This is another statement from this very same day, from the former president of BESTEST COUNTRY EVER BALD EAGLE TEAR OH BEAUTIFUL FOR SPACIOUS SKIES AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE!

    It’s a long one — former President Straitjacket has LOTS TO SAY.

    Despite massive Voter Fraud and Irregularities during the 2020 Presidential Election Scam, that we are now seeing play out in very big and important States

    Blah blah dumb fascist Big Lie, we get it, Stupid Hitler, please move on.

    I never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government. So ridiculous!

    No one actually said he said he was going to do a coup. They were worried he was going to do it.

    Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of “coup,”

    Hahahahahahaha paging Freud.

    and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley.

    I don’t do coups, but if I did, and I’m not saying that I do, but Mark Milley wouldn’t be invited to my coup!

    He got his job only because the world’s most overrated general, James Mattis, could not stand him, had no respect for him, and would not recommend him. To me the fact that Mattis didn’t like him, just like Obama didn’t like him and actually fired Milley, was a good thing, not a bad thing. I often act counter to people’s advice who I don’t respect.

    What a way to say out loud that you’re a petty, ignorant man-child with no motivations beyond trying to get back at people who are better than you. Also: THIS IS WHO WAS RUNNING OUR COUNTRY AND HOW.

    In any event, I lost respect for Milley when we walked together to St. John’s Church (which was still smoldering from a Radical Left fire set the day before), side by side, a walk that has now been proven to be totally appropriate—and the following day Milley choked like a dog in front of the Fake News when they told him they thought he should not have been walking with the President, which turned out to be incorrect. He apologized profusely, making it a big story, instead of saying I am proud to walk with and protect the President of the United States. Had he said that, it would have all been over, no big deal, but I saw at that moment he had no courage or skill, certainly not the type of person I would be talking “coup” with.

    Mark Milley’s too UGLY to talk coups with, not his type. […]

    I realized then, also, he was a much different person than I had hoped. I said to him, “spend more time thinking about China and Russia, and less time on being politically correct.”

    But never during my Administration did Milley display what he is showing now. He was not “woke.” Actually, I don’t believe he ever was, but the way I look at Milley, he’s just a better politician than a general, trying to curry favor with the Radical Left and the absolute crazy people espousing a philosophy which will destroy our Country!

    You feel better now, pooky? Wanna tweet about it? Oh wait you can’t. Wanna push the red button on your Big Important Person desk to get a Diet Coke to drown out all your sorrows? Oh wait you can’t. Wanna have immunity from prosecution in the state of New York?

    Oh wait. You can’t.

    These have been messages from the former president of the country with the largest economy in the world, the planet’s sole superpower.

    Hoo boy.


  153. says

    Guardian – “England’s Covid unlocking is threat to world, say 1,200 scientists”:

    Boris Johnson’s plan to lift virtually all of England’s pandemic restrictions on Monday is a threat to the world and provides fertile ground for the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants, international experts say.

    Britain’s position as a global transport hub would mean any new variant here would rapidly spread around the world, scientists and physicians warned at an emergency summit. They also expressed grave concerns about Downing Street’s plans.

    Government advisers in New Zealand, Israel and Italy were among those who sounded alarm bells about the policy, while more than 1,200 scientists backed a letter to the Lancet journal warning the strategy could allow vaccine-resistant variants to develop.

    An adviser to New Zealand’s government told the summit he and his colleagues were astounded at the approach being taken in England.

    “In New Zealand we have always looked to the UK for leadership when it comes to scientific expertise, which is why it’s so remarkable that it is not following even basic public health principles,” said Michael Baker, a professor of public health at the University of Otago and a member of the New Zealand ministry of health’s Covid-19 technical advisory group.

    Others warned the British government’s approach would be imitated, for political expediency, by authorities elsewhere.

    “What I fear is that that the some of the worst impulses in many of our states will follow the UK example,” said Dr William Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School researcher and a pioneering Aids researcher who chairs Access Health International, a New York-based thinktank.

    The letter to the Lancet said: “We believe the government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment, and we call on it to pause plans to abandon mitigations on July 19, 2021.”

    “The world is watching the current avoidable crisis unfold in the UK,” said Dr Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist and senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, who is taking part in Friday’s summit.

    She added on Twitter: “Let’s be under no illusions – we are in a country where our government is taking steps to maximally expose our young to a virus that causes chronic illness in many. Our govt is ending all protections for our children including isolation of contacts of cases in schools & bubbles.”

    The summit, All the Citizens, was being broadcast live on YouTube at noon UK time.

    The concerns expressed in other countries comes after Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, warned on Thursday that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 could reach “quite scary” levels within weeks, as cases soared caused by the more contagious Delta variant and the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

    New coronavirus infections in the UK are at a six-month high, according to government figures, and the number of people in hospital and dying with Covid are at their highest level since March. Thursday’s data showed 3,786 people in hospital with Covid and another 63 virus-related deaths.

    Downing Street, which has defended the lifting of all remaining legal restrictions on social gatherings in England on 19 July, is hoping the rapid rollout of vaccines will keep a lid on the number of people becoming seriously ill.

  154. says

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

    From there:

    Russia records highest Covid death figures for fourth consecutive day

    Russia on Friday reported 799 coronavirus-related deaths, the most in a single day since the pandemic began and the fourth day in a row it has set a record.

    Reuters notes that the Russian coronavirus taskforce confirmed 25,704 new Covid infections in the last 24 hours.

    It said the official national case tally now stood at 5,907,999 and the national death toll had risen to 146,868.

    It is worth remembering that the federal statistics agency in Russia has kept a separate count and it says the country recorded about 290,000 deaths related to Covid from April 2020 to May 2021, which is nearly double the official figures.

  155. says

    Roger Sollenberger:

    NEW: Matt Gaetz filed a bananas FEC report: Three payments to Roger Stone; hiring Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer, a Nunes aide & a Steve Bannon producer; and nearly a million dollars to his PR firm in one month. I’ve got the full autopsy report @thedailybeast…

    It’s common to hire a crisis management firm in a major scandal. It’s not common to pay them $825,000 in a month, especially when the firm has only a few employees.

    Daily Beast link atl.

  156. snarkrates says

    SC@169 and Lynna@180, I am a bit wary of the “leak” from the Kremlin–in part because the Kremlin hardly ever leaks and when it does the leakers usually have shortened lives.

    I am somewhat reminded of the “smocking gun” Dan Rather published about Dubya going AWOL from his guard unit. Of course, it turned out to be a forgery–a pretty good one, but with just enough clues that it could be proven false. Rather got canned and suddenly, nobody would touch a Dubya draftdodger story–rather too neat an outcome if you ask me.

    I worry that Putin could be pulling something similar–leak a fake document, wait for people to jump on it and then pounce, discrediting the probes into Russian involvement in 2016 and removing an obstacle for Darth Cheeto. It could perhaps even complicate the prosecution of the Trump Crime Family in New York.

    I mean, we all know Trump can’t talk unless Putin has his hand up his ass making his lips move, but we also knew (and know) that Dubya is a draft dodger. The goal may be to place landmines in the investigative field to make reporters think twice before venturing in.

  157. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    COVID-19 Cases Rise in Nearly Every U.S. State as Delta Variant Becomes Dominant

    Los Angeles County will require everyone — including those who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 — to resume wearing masks indoors, as infections of the Delta variant continue to rise across the United States. After months of decline, hospitalizations and deaths have begun climbing again, with over 35,000 U.S. infections reported Thursday. The biggest hot spots are in areas with low vaccination rates, but cases are rising in nearly every state. Meanwhile, vaccinations have slowed to just over a half-million shots per day, down from a peak of over 3 million daily shots in April.

    Surgeon General Calls on Social Media Giants to Stop Spread of Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

    At the White House, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on social media companies to stop the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation that’s costing lives.

    Surgeon General Vivek Murthy: “On a personal note, it’s painful for me to know that nearly every death we are seeing now from COVID-19 could have been prevented. I say that as someone who has lost 10 family members to COVID-19 and who wishes each and every day that they had had the opportunity to get vaccinated.”

    Coronavirus Infections Continue Exponential Rise in Southeast Asia and Africa

    In Indonesia, volunteer undertakers have begun collecting the bodies of COVID-19 victims from homes, after hospitals filled to capacity. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s worst-hit nation and logged another record number of infections Thursday.

    In Burma, doctors say the military regime that seized power in a February coup is hoarding limited supplies of oxygen amid a massive surge of COVID cases.

    Thailand’s government is considering additional lockdown measures after confirming a record number of infections.

    Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warns COVID cases continue to surge across the African continent….

    German Chancellor Confronted over Blocking Patent Waiver for COVID-19 Vaccines

    The Congressional Progressive Caucus is calling on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop obstructing a waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization. In a statement, caucus chair Pramila Jayapal wrote, “as long as Germany withholds its approval of the TRIPS waiver, it threatens the lives of millions of people around the world and our ability to crush the virus.” Her statement came as protesters briefly confronted Merkel outside the White House as she arrived for talks with President Biden.

    WHO Warns 23 Million Children Missed Vaccinations in 2020 Due to Pandemic

    The World Health Organization warns the pandemic triggered a massive decline in the number of children vaccinated against measles, polio, meningitis and other preventable diseases….

    110 Dead, 1,300 Missing as Once-in-a-Century Flooding Hits Germany and Belgium

    Over 110 people have died following massive floods in west Germany and Belgium — triggered by some of the heaviest rainfall many European countries have seen in at least a century. Most of the fatalities are in Germany, where some 1,300 people have also been reported missing. Several villages in Germany are almost completely destroyed after torrents of water, often carrying trees and other debris, raged through them. Heavy floods were also reported in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where thousands of people in the southern province of Limburg were told to evacuate Thursday.

    Smoke Blankets Much of North America as Western Wildfires Grow in Size

    Raging wildfires in the western United States and Canada are filling the sky with smoke across much of North America. Hazardous air quality was reported Thursday in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Minnesota, with hazy conditions as far east as New York. In California, a rapidly growing wildfire prompted officials to order the evacuation of a community just 10 miles from the town of Paradise, which was almost completely destroyed by a fire three years ago. In Oregon, the massive Bootleg Fire has now consumed an area larger than New York City.

    Research Shows Parts of Amazon Rainforest Now Emit More Greenhouse Gas Than They Absorb

    New research published in the journal Nature confirms that parts of the Amazon rainforest are emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb, driven by deforestation, fires and warming temperatures. The findings come as new data from Brazil’s government showed record levels of deforestation in the Amazon for the fourth straight month.

    U.S. Military Trained Colombian Soldiers Arrested for Assassinating Haitian President

    The Washington Post is reporting that an unspecified number of Colombian nationals arrested over Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination last week received U.S. military training while they were part of the Colombian armed services. On Thursday, Colombian President Iván Duque said some of the ex-soldiers who were part of the assassination team were aware of the plot to kill Moïse, while others thought they were there to provide security. Authorities say key suspects had met in Florida and the Dominican Republic over the past year to plot the assassination, but participants to those meetings say they were planning ahead for when Moïse stepped down as president.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. sent 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Haiti this week and promised to send more. It’s the first batch of coronavirus vaccines Haiti has received. On Thursday, President Biden was asked if the U.S. would send military forces into Haiti.

    President Joe Biden: “We’re only sending American marines to our embassy to make sure that they are secure and nothing is out of whack at all. But the idea of sending American forces into Haiti is not on the agenda at this moment.”

    South Africa Sends 25,000 Troops into Street After Days of Protests and Unrest

    South Africa’s government says it has deployed 25,000 troops to protect businesses after crowds ransacked and burned retail shops and warehouses during several days of protests. It’s one of the largest deployments of South African troops since the end of white rule under apartheid. The demonstrations erupted after former President Jacob Zuma began his 15-month jail sentence for refusing to testify in a corruption probe. They’ve since focused on grinding poverty and record levels of unemployment, exacerbated by the pandemic.

    Dutch Crime Reporter Peter R. de Vries Dies One Week After He Was Shot on the Street

    In the Netherlands, renowned crime reporter Peter R. de Vries died yesterday after being shot in an attack in Amsterdam last week. The 64-year-old was a household name in the Netherlands, investigating cold-case killings and reporting on organized crime for decades. He had received death threats in the past and was previously given police protection. In a statement, de Vries’s family said, “We are unbelievably proud of him and at the same time inconsolable.”

    FBI Failed to Intervene in Abuse Claims Against Larry Nassar, Leading to 100+ More Sex Crimes

    A new report by the Justice Department’s inspector general finds Indianapolis FBI officials for months failed to properly investigate serious sexual abuse accusations against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, stating FBI officials exhibited “extremely poor judgment.” The report found that the former agent in charge of the Indianapolis FBI office and another unnamed agent failed to follow up with key witnesses or alert other law enforcement agencies of the crimes. The neglect led to Nassar abusing or assaulting more than 100 other gymnasts between the time the FBI first heard of the accusations in 2015 until Nassar’s arrest the following year. The two FBI agents also made false statements and omitted key information in trying to hide failures in the Nassar investigation. In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting and abusing more than 160 women and girl athletes.

    Capitol Police Arrest Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty and Others as They March to Defend Democracy

    In Washington, D.C., Capitol Police arrested at least nine people as they took part in a demonstration at a Senate office building in defense of voting rights, led by prominent Black women. One of those arrested was Ohio congressmember and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Joyce Beatty.

    Protesters: “… turn me ’round. We fight for voting rights, and we — turn me ’round. We’re gonna keep on walking, keep on talking, marching on to freedom land.”

    The group chanted “Pass the For the People Act.” Congressmember Beatty wore a T-shirt reading “Protect Our Voting Rights.” She tweeted an image of herself walking with arms linked to other Black women defending democracy, writing, “We will not be turned around. We will keep walking. We will fight for freedom. We will fight for our right to vote!” Following her arrest, Congressmember Beatty also tweeted “#GoodTrouble,” quoting her friend, the late congressmember and civil rights leader John Lewis.

  158. says

    snarkrates @197, good point. We should be wary of the supposed leak of those documents from the Kremlin.

    In other news, man with limited brain power imagines that he can craft a voting rights bill that Republicans in the Senate will support: Manchin imagines voting rights bill that should pass unanimously

    Sen. Joe Manchin can imagine a voting-rights bill that would pass the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. I wish he were right. He’s not.

    I’m beginning to think that Joe Manchin may just be stupid, and somewhat shrewd about his political future in West Virginia (Trump country).

    A group of Texas Democratic legislators didn’t just flee their home state to block a vote on an odious voter-suppression bill, they also traveled to Washington, D.C., to plead for federal voting-rights protections.

    With this in mind, the Texans have focused considerable attention on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who ostensibly supports voting rights, but who also opposes his party’s legislation to protect the franchise. The conservative West Virginian also, of course, remains steadfast in his opposition to reforming the Senate’s filibuster rules to allow a voting-rights bill to pass.

    Yesterday, Manchin spent time with the Texas legislators. The good news is, the senator left the meeting saying he’s in “total agreement” with their concerns. The bad news is, well, pretty much everything else.

    After meeting with members of the Texas delegation, Manchin said the next step is to put together a pared-down bill that focuses solely on protecting the right to vote and the procedure of voting.

    Congress’ most conservative Democrat told reporters that he envisions a process in which senators “basically make a piece of legislation, one piece of legislation that protects the rights of voting, the procedure of voting, democracy, the guardrails on democracy, that’s all. And there shouldn’t be a Republican or Democrat should oppose it.”

    As for recent recommendations that the Senate consider a carve-out to the filibuster rules in order to allow Congress to protect voting rights, Manchin said yesterday that the institution “doesn’t need” to make an exception, adding, “Forget the filibuster.”

    What we’re left with is the broad outline of a plan: the West Virginian imagines a scenario in which senators craft a narrowly focused bill to protect democracy, with no extraneous provisions. Since, in Manchin’s mind, both parties support voting rights, [there’s his fundamental mistake!] this hypothetical proposal “should” pass unanimously, easily overcoming a Republican filibuster.

    I honestly don’t understand what Manchin doesn’t understand.

    Exactly one month ago today, the conservative Democrat unveiled a new, compromise framework on voting rights, featuring elements designed specifically to address both parties’ priorities. By and large, Democrats and other progressives were amenable to Manchin’s proposal.

    Republicans, however, wasted no time in killing it. Manchin unveiled his four-page proposal on a Wednesday afternoon, and by Thursday morning, Senate Republicans were tripping over themselves to condemn it. Literally zero GOP senators expressed even the slightest support for the compromise offer.

    As we discussed soon after, Manchin genuinely seemed to believe that if he publicly rejected his own party’s For the People Act proposal, worked on a compromise designed to meet the concerns of both parties, and engaged in good-faith outreach, Republican skeptics would be receptive and his entire approach to governance would be validated. His fellow Democrats may have unveiled a “partisan” proposal, but he’d show them — and everyone else — a better way.

    Except it didn’t work. His colleagues in the Republican Party — the one that’s systemically attacking the franchise everywhere they can, desperate to rig democracy in their favor — slapped away his outstretched hand. GOP senators don’t want to pass a voting-rights bill and wouldn’t consider a compromise offer designed to make them happy.

    And yet, there was Manchin yesterday, once again insisting that a narrowly tailored proposal — such as the one he already unveiled — could pass easily [He’s playing into the other Republican tactic: stall for time until the Republicans retake the Senate and the House.]

    […] 1. Where is this bill?

    2. If it exists, what will Manchin do when Republicans oppose it anyway?

  159. says

    Why Trump’s response to Gen. Milley makes an awful story worse

    Reports that Gen. Milley drew comparisons between Trump’s and Hitler’s rhetoric are chilling. Trump’s response made matters worse.

    It wasn’t that long ago when Donald Trump held Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley in high regard […]

    As Election Day neared, the Trump campaign even included Milley in a commercial, without the general’s consent or approval, despite the military’s strict rules.

    Behind the scenes, however, the general’s concerns were even more serious.

    The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, worried that then-President Donald Trump would try to use the military to attempt a coup after the 2020 election and vowed to prevent it. That’s according to a new book by Washington Post reporters Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” which will be released next week.

    According to a Washington Post account, Milley was so worried about the prospect of Trump trying to use military as part of a coup attempt that the general privately compared the then-president’s rhetoric to Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric during the rise of Nazi Germany.

    “This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides, according to the book, comparing Trump’s election lies to the 1933 attack on Germany’s parliament that Hitler used as a pretext to establish a Nazi dictatorship. The general added, “The gospel of the Fuhrer.”

    To that end, according to the book’s account, the general informally explored ways to stand in the Republican president’s way in the event he moved forward with plans for a coup.

    It’s worth noting for context that when many Trump critics raised public fears last fall about the Republican trying to hold onto power by way of a coup, those observers were routinely derided for entertaining a hysterical and unrealistic idea. And yet, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, after having spent a considerable amount of time around the then-president, was apparently worried about the same thing.

    At this point, it’s tempting to simply stop and come to grips with these chilling revelations. If accurate, the book’s reporting suggests our democracy was so imperiled last fall that the senior officer in the United States military seriously considered a dangerous possibility: an unhinged president might try to use force to claim power he didn’t earn.

    […] it seems like the sort of thing voters should be aware of as the former president maintains his role as the head of the Republican Party and a viable 2024 contender.

    But we can’t stop here because Trump apparently learned of the book’s revelations and decided to make matters even worse.

    The former president issued a bizarre, 400-word statement yesterday, which included some extraordinary claims. Trump wrote:
    – He only tapped Milley to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs because his former Defense secretary, James Mattis, didn’t like him. In other words, according to Trump, he made a mistake hiring Mattis, and then made another mistake by hiring Milley based on the opinions of his original mistake.

    – He expected Milley to “protect” him during the Lafayette Square fiasco.

    – He was offended by Milley’s willingness to change the names of military bases that were named for those who fought against Americans.

    – “If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley.”

    It’s this last point that practically reads like a confession.

    What’s more, despite the public accounts about the Joint Chiefs chairman comparing Trump’s rhetoric to Hitler’s — a point that’s come to the fore more than once recently — the former president’s pushback chose to ignore this entirely.

    If Trump hoped his statement would make him look better and Milley look worse, he got this exactly backwards.

  160. KG says

    Today’s figures for the UK:
    Cases 51,870 (up 16,163 on last week)
    In hospital 3,964 (up 1,224 on last week)
    Deaths 49 (up 20 on last week)

    The figure for cases is the highest since January 11.

  161. says

    snarkrates @ #197, I’m cautious in accepting the documents as real (and Harding doesn’t claim he’s 100% sure they are), but I’m not sure I find the suggestions about Kremlin baiting/disinfo very convincing. I mean, they really just add color to things we knew already. People who weren’t convinced by the evidence from the Mueller investigation or the Senate Intel investigation aren’t going to have their minds changed, and people who were will find them unsurprising.

    The only part that’s not in those reports is the part about kompromat, but frankly I’d be surprised if they didn’t have a large file on Trump since he visited there since the ’80s – when he was already on their radar – and is a sleaze and an idiot. It is odd that this was said to have been “collected – the document says – from Trump’s earlier ‘non-official visits to Russian Federation territory’.” Since the document is purportedly from early 2016, when Trump wouldn’t have made any official visits there, that does seem a bit unusual… (Would Miss Universe be considered “official,” maybe? I could be reading too much into the word/translation, it could be standard phrasing for them, etc.)

    The article notes that “Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin.” So it’s possible the Kremlin put these out prior to the 2020 election hoping they’d get to journalists and planning to then show them to be false to try to discredit people and the story itself. On the other hand, there do seem to have been informants (or at least one) in the Kremlin in 2016, who might be relatively safer now that Putin’s stooge is out in the US. So I’d be cautious, but, to me, nothing about the existence of the plot stands or falls on the authenticity of these specific documents. Very interesting if they’re real and did get to Western intelligence, though – would be bad news for Putin!

  162. says

    Follow-up, of sorts, to KG @201.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky warned of rising cases on Friday, stating that COVID-19 is “becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated” and that vaccinated people are protected against severe disease.

    The highly transmissible delta variant is fueling expanding outbreaks, but they are centered in parts of the country with lower vaccination rates.

    […] The USA is averaging about 26,000 cases per day, nearly a 70 percent increase from the previous seven-day average, Walensky said. Hospitalizations are also up, to about 2,790 per day, a 36 percent increase from the prior week and deaths are up 26 percent to 211 per day.

    But almost all of the hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people. Walensky said 97 percent of people entering the hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

    “The good news is if you are fully vaccinated you are protected against severe COVID, hospitalization and death, and are even protected against the known variants, including the delta variant, circulating in this country,” Walensky said.

    “If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk,” she added.

    […] “If you have low vaccination and high case rates then I would say local policymakers might consider whether masking at that point would be something that would be helpful for their community until they scale up their vaccination rates,” Walensky said.

    […] Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is calling on social media companies and others to do more to fight misinformation on vaccines.

    “Nearly every death we are seeing now from COVID-19 could have been prevented,” he said.

  163. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    France should consider whether to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for the general public so that the government can act quickly if the epidemic worsens, the country’s health authority has said.

    The government this week made it mandatory for all health workers to get vaccinated against Covid, and set out controversial plans for severe measures for those unvaccinated.

    France’s HAS health authority said in a statement that the debate should focus on widening mandatory vaccination beyond the current government draft law and consider whether to make vaccination mandatory for all people vulnerable to Covid infection, for professionals who are in contact with the public, and even for the general public.

    “The dynamic of the epidemic now calls for a massive increase in vaccine coverage … notable for the most vulnerable people,” HAS said.

    On Wednesday, thousands of people in Paris demonstrated against Macron’s plan for a health pass to enter public places.

    (“Thousands of people” isn’t really a large demonstration for Paris.)

  164. says

    There’s a new election conspiracy theory involving a Georgia warehouse holding absentee ballots. It’s baseless, but conservative media and a certain former president are apparently exited about it.

    Here is the latest baseless voter fraud allegation, brought to you by Trump and Tucker Carlson.

    Washington Post link

    Now, there was fraud in (spins wheel) Georgia because of (spins wheel) double-scanned ballots.

    In the long history of jarringly ironic comments made by on-air talent at Fox News, a pronouncement from Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night immediately vaulted into the upper echelon.

    “You can’t have a democracy if the public doesn’t believe election results,” Carlson said. “Increasingly, many people in this country don’t believe them. The solution to that problem, and it’s a significant problem, is not to scream at these people, call them lunatics or throw them in jail. The solution is to tell the truth about what happened.”

    It is absolutely true that the best way for the decline in confidence in elections to be combated is for trusted voices to tell the truth about the election. And then Carlson, a trusted voice to millions on the political right, proceeded to dump in their laps an array of unproven, irrelevant or obviously incorrect claims about the presidential election.

    It’s obviously the case that there’s a robust marketplace for this stuff. [Trump is] deeply invested in the narrative that rampant fraud occurred for reasons of personal pride and that translates into a base of supporters eager for information bolstering his claims that then translates into demand for people like Carlson who have proven track records of prioritizing sensationalism over accuracy. (See here.) (And here.) (And here.) (And here.) (Among others.) [Embedded links are available at the main link.] So we get a revolving suite of claims that quickly fall apart before the whole enterprise moves to another state.

    These days, that’s Georgia, the focus of Carlson’s efforts Wednesday. He began with a cinematic vignette: a warehouse holding the absentee ballots cast in Fulton County, a heavily Democratic region of the state. One night in May, right when the guards had stepped away, an alarm goes off. The guards return to find the door open — and the mystery begins.

    You can go ahead and scoot back from the edge of your seat. The drama here is all in Carlson’s dishonest telling. No area related to ballots was disturbed. The motion detector that triggered the alarm was in an upstairs office. The door wasn’t found open but it was unlocked, a function of an employee who had no key leaving the building after being locked in while using the restroom. Not very Hollywood-y, sure, but reality often isn’t.

    Stephen Fowler, the public radio reporter who covered the warehouse incident — and whose photo Carlson’s show used without credit — was obviously exasperated when I called him Thursday morning to talk about the allegations made during the earlier night’s program. Fowler’s been doing yeoman’s work for, what, eight months now? Pushing back on the constant stream of conspiracy theories that have been presented since the moment the state announced Trump had lost.[…]

    His week has been particularly harried given a pair of new allegations focused on the state, both of which made it uncritically into Carlson’s show.

    […] The other new allegation Carlson covered was a report from the right-wing blog Federalist, claiming 35,000 votes were cast illegally in the state. Trump hyped that report in a Fox News interview over the weekend, hailing it as “far more, numerous times more than we need to win that state.” But the allegation isn’t that someone did something like submit a ballot in the name of a dead person or anything like that. It’s that 35,000 people cast ballots from Georgia counties where they used to live instead of the ones where they currently lived. If true — again, this is unproven third-party analysis — it’s illegal in the sense that going 67 in a 65 is illegal, not in the sense that you’re driving a stolen car. Nor is it clear how those people voted. But it serves the broad, blended narrative of “Georgia allowed illegal ballots to be cast” that serves the broader “Trump wuz robbed” effort.

    When Trump first started pointing to the Voter GA claims, Fowler put together a Twitter thread compiling articles debunking them. He called Trump’s claims “harmful at worst and woefully misinformed at best.” Then, a few hours later, there was Carlson using them to light fires about alleged fraud. […]

  165. says

    House Democrats advance spending bill to overturn the Hyde Amendment

    For the first time in 45 years, House appropriators have not included the Hyde Amendment in a key spending bill. The House Appropriations labor and health and human services subcommittee advanced the Department of Health and Human Services funding bill to the full Appropriations Committee on Monday, excluding the ban on federal funding for abortions. This fulfills a promise by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, to remove the decades-old restriction.

    “I know this is an issue on which many of us disagree,” DeLauro said during the committee hearing passing the bill. “But regardless of the original intent of Hyde, it has disproportionately impacted women of color, and it has ultimately led to more unintended pregnancies and later riskier, and more costly abortions,” she added. “We are finally doing what is right for our mothers, our families, our communities by striking this discriminatory amendment, once and for all.” Hyde allows abortion only under the most restrictive of cases, when continuing the pregnancy will endanger the patient’s life, or when the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

    This follows the Biden administration’s decision to drop the Hyde Amendment from its proposed 2022 budget. […]

    federal employees and their families, military personnel and their families, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and inmates in federal prisons are forced to pay out of pocket in order to access a safe and legal medical procedure, on top of all the other hurdles so many face in obtaining care. This appropriation bill only affects the programs under HHS—Medicaid, Indian Health Service, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

    Kaiser Family Foundation […] estimates that, if the ban had been lifted in 2019 “it could have provided federal support for abortion coverage for 13.9 million reproductive-age women enrolled in Medicaid, as well as millions of others in similarly restricted federal programs.” That’s a forced birth mandate on millions of women in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia. […] [Map available at the link.]

    Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who will be responsible for the HHS bill in her committee, probably won’t have the votes to keep the Hyde Amendment out. “Well I support [dropping] it,” she said. “But I have to have the votes and that’s what we’re looking at.” That doesn’t make the fact that the House left it out and that the president left it out any less momentous. It’s bending the curve in the right way.

  166. says

    […] COVID-19 is making a completely unnecessary comeback, and the courage to do what’s necessary to fight this new wave is proving all too rare.

    In mid-June, the number of new COVID-19 cases each day in the United States had fallen to 12,000, the bottom of a long slope that started with over 250,000 cases a day at the start of the year. It was completely understandable that Americans from coast to coast felt as if the shadow of 2020 was lifting. […]

    Only the pandemic isn’t over. It never was. At this point, only 48% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. 56% have had at least one shot. But that’s not even close to the level necessary to prevent community spread of a virus as easily transmitted as SARS-CoV-2 […]

    The vaccination program was critical to the drop in cases that occurred over the last six months, but the truth is that community spread of COVID-19 was only controlled by a combination of vaccines, masks, and restrictions. Vaccine levels are not high enough to shoulder that burden alone.

    So as soon as those other restrictions were removed and more and more of the burden was placed on vaccines alone, the decline flattened out. Then trends began to reverse. That’s particularly true in areas where vaccination lagged far behind the national average. Had the U.S. maintained the masks-and-restrictions part of the equation just weeks longer, the pandemic might be down to nothing but embers in this nation. We didn’t.

    And now there are fires breaking out all over.

    […] Right now, way too many states (and counties, and cities) have placed “getting back to normal” above “keeping citizens healthy.” The costs of those decisions are currently falling mostly on counties where vaccination rates are low, and with over 99% of deaths in May being among the unvaccinated, the highest price will remain with the unvaccinated. But everyone is going to pay a cost unless the nation uses vaccination + mask mandates + restrictions to push COVID-19 down to a point where cases can be genuinely tracked and controlled.

    The best way to do that is at the federal level, by applying a nationwide mask mandate. Unfortunately, things are going to get worse before anyone gives that serious consideration.


    For the first time since early January, Covid-19 cases are rising in all fifty states.

  167. says

    Florida man plans ‘drive-by shooting’ thinking he can blame it on Black Lives Matter

    Despite the number of reports confirming just how peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters are, some people just love to label them as violent. But what’s worse is some folks are too ignorant to understand what the movement is and paint it out to be some sort of gang in their heads—and others take that image too far. A Florida man from Palm Beach County is no exception, with a clearly distorted view of the BLM movement and reality, he not only admitted to trying to conduct a murder-for-hire plot but shared that he planned to blame the murders on BLM.

    The man identified as 51-year-old Daniel Slater admitted he had planned to kill a woman, allegedly his ex-girlfriend, as well as her sister and brother-in-law, who he thought had ruined the relationship […] In court Thursday he admitted to one count of murder for hire, a sentence likely to serve at least 10 years in prison. […]

    Slater met with an associate from May to June 2020, who agreed to carry out the murder. Together the two laid out plans on how, when, and where to carry out the crime. […] Slater directed the would-be-hitman on how to make the murder seem like it was a “drive-by shooting” and spray paint the house to make it look like Black Lives Matter was responsible for the murders.

    […] Additionally, recordings were shared in court in which Slater asked the associate to knock out the victim’s teeth, break her nose, and throw acid on her face. In exchange for the murders, Slater offered the associate cocaine and agreed to forgive the associate for a prior drug debt.

    However, before the crimes could be carried out his associate began working for the FBI as an informant. As an informant, the associate connected Slater to a “hitman” who was actually an undercover agent. According to authorities, the associate then pretended the murders were carried out by providing Slater with photoshopped images of the crime.

    Slater was arrested and charged three days later. For his cooperation in the investigation, prosecutors agreed to drop two other murder-for-hire and three-drug charges he was facing. According to The Palm Beach Post, the lawyer who represented Slater, Richard Della Fera, said the evidence against Slater was “quite voluminous,” including phone recordings. […]

  168. says

    Florida accounts for 20 percent of all new COVID-19 infections

    Nearly 20 percent of the nation’s new coronavirus infections are now happening in Florida alone […]

    “Just four states accounted for more than 40 percent of all cases in the past week, with 1 in 5 of all cases occurring in Florida alone,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters during a briefing Friday.

    […] Currently, the state is reporting an average of 29 new infections for every 100,000 people per day — more than four times the national average.

    The positivity rate is hovering around 10 percent, and according to federal data, the seven-day moving average is more than 5,600 cases a day. […]

    Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) campaign team this week began selling “Don’t Fauci My Florida” merchandise, the latest in a string of conservative attacks on the nation’s top infectious diseases doctor, Anthony Fauci.

    DeSantis has proudly bucked the advice of federal health officials — schools remained open, and statewide public health mitigation measures were minimal.

    The governor has encouraged people to get vaccinated but also banned businesses from requiring proof of vaccination and has banned local governments from enacting mask mandates. He also successfully sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the federal government from enforcing coronavirus precautions on cruise ships, like vaccination requirements for staff and passengers.

  169. says

    Greenland is stopping all oil exploration because of climate change

    […] While the U.S. Geological Survey estimates there could be nearly 18 billion untapped barrels of oil on Greenland’s west coast alone, government officials said the price of extraction and impact on the environment is too costly.

    The government said it decided to stop issuing new licenses for oil and gas exploration. The decision is a win for environmentalists but could hinder Greenland’s efforts to gain economic independence from Denmark, which provides the territory an annual subsidy. The yearly grant makes up about two-thirds of the large island’s economy.

    “As a society, we must dare to stop and ask ourselves why we want to exploit a resource. Is the decision based upon updated insight and the belief that it is the right thing to do? Or are we just continuing business as usual?” Naaja H. Nathanielsen, Greenland’s minister for housing, infrastructure, mineral resources and gender equality, said in a statement.

    “It is the position of the Greenlandic government that our country is better off focusing on sustainable development, such as the potential for renewable energy,” Nathanielsen said. […]

  170. says

    Wonkette: “By Sheer Coincidence, Joe Manchin Made Half A Million Dollars Last Year Off Of Coal”

    West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is an honorable man. [/sarcasm]

    Sure, he’s stood in the way of almost every single thing Democrats have tried to do since President Joe Biden was elected, but that was because he was standing by his principles. One of which appears to be the belief that when Democrats are elected and have a majority, they should just sit very still and stay very quiet until it’s all over and Republicans have a majority again. Some people might think that makes very little sense […] But those are his principles and he sticks by them. He sees himself as The Chosen One, sent by unseen forces to thwart the excesses of his own party.

    Excesses like “addressing climate change,” […]

    This week on CNN, Manchin shared his concerns about the “very, very disturb[ing]” climate provisions in the party’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation bill:

    “I know they have the climate portion in here, and I’m concerned about that,” Manchin said moments after Biden met with Senate Democrats in the Capitol on Wednesday.

    “Because if they’re eliminating fossils, and I’m finding out there’s a lot of language in places they’re eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you’re sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil (fuel) has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that’s going to clean up the global climate, it won’t clean it up all. If anything, it would be worse.”

    Are these actual things? Are we getting rid of fossil fuels entirely? Would eliminating fossil fuels actually be worse for our environment?

    Not so much.

    The bill would end fossil fuel subsidies. This would mean that oil and gas companies would no longer get a tax break as a little “thank you” for all the pollution they do. They could and would still exist, they just wouldn’t get tax breaks for existing. As for how eliminating these subsidies would actually be worse for the environment? Not quite sure where to begin with that one.

    As Salon’s Kenny Stancil notes, it is just possible that Joe Manchin’s opposition to these climate change provisions is not born out of a concern that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies would hurt the environment, but perhaps more out of a concern that it would hurt his own wallet. Because according to a recent report from Sludge, he makes about $500K a year from the coal industry.

    Via Sludge:

    Manchin earns hundreds of thousands of dollars each year through coal sales to power plants that supply Edison Electric Institute member companies. His family company, Enersystems, is a contractor of American Bituminous Power Partners (AmBit), a coal power plant located near Grant Town, W.V. that provides energy to Monogahela Power Company, according to documents from the West Virginia Public Services Commission (PSC). Also known as Mon Power, the electric company is a subsidiary of energy giant FirstEnergy and an EEI member.

    Manchin founded the coal brokerage Enersystems in 1988 and helped run the company, handing control to his son Joseph upon being elected West Virginia secretary of state in 2000 and reportedly moving his holdings into a blind trust between 2005 and 2010. In Manchin’s most recent financial disclosure, covering the fiscal year 2020, he reports that his non-public shares of Enersystems, a “contract services and material provider for utility plants,” are worth between $1 million and $5 million, and sent him an income of $492,000. His total income from the company since joining the Senate is more than $4.5 million.

    That sure is a lot of money.

    The thing is, this isn’t campaign donations. […] This is his actual, personal money and his actual, personal company and these climate provisions will stand in the way of him and his family making millions of dollars. Of course he’s against them.

    Since Manchin’s vote is needed to pass this bill and almost everything else Senate Democrats want to do, he’s going to get his way on pretty much everything he wants. Unfortunately, one of the things he apparently wants is $500,000 a year, and it’s probably illegal to work that into the budget proposal. Perhaps we, the American people, could take up a collection and crowdfund that extra $500,000 that he needs so desperately he’s willing to torch the planet for it?

    So, Manchin is not just stupid, (or perhaps just narrow-minded)—he is also greedy.

  171. says


    Slow fuckin’ clap for Ivanka and Mike Pence, we guess. After more than five years standing shoulder to shoulder with an unstable tinpot dictator as he spewed a constant stream of lies and invective like acid on the American body politic, they found an iota of courage to do the right thing on January 6, 2021. So let’s give them the round of applause they so clearly believe is their due for that belated display of integrity.

    Or not.

    The Washington Post published a second excerpt from reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig’s upcoming book “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” and this installment focuses on the interplay between the White House and Congress on the day of the insurrection. It features a fearless Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump, the lone patriots in the White House willing to put party over country and tell the president the truth that he had lost the election.

    Oh, wait, just kidding! They never did that either, since fealty to objective reality was a bridge too far. But they did eventually lift a pinky finger to rein in the people who believe his Big Lie. It was the very least they could do, and they did it.

    The story begins in familiar territory: the party tent where the Trump family and their acolytes had gathered to watch the festivities. […] Ivanka is worried.

    “This is not right. It’s not right,” she says, furrowing her sculpted brows over the deranged lies being poured into the simpleton patriarch’s head by his demented consigliere Rudy Giuliani. Her heart aches to see poor Vice President Mike Pence abused. On hearing her father accuse his loyal veep of lacking “the courage to make a hard decision” to overturn the election in defiance of reality and the Constitution, she shouts, “Mike Pence is a good man!” at the top of her delicate lungs.

    HAHA! We are silly on Fridays. No, our little mermaid whispers it to Keith Kellogg, the national security advisor to the vice president, having traded her voice for her very soul. Presumably.

    Our selfless heroine is described as having reluctantly attended the rally, although she refused all entreaties to speak, […] ” heedless of the cost to her own personal brand and “only because she had hoped to calm the president and help keep the event on an even keel.” […]

    Watching the violence unleashed by her courtiers, the Princess Feckless grew ever more concerned, going so far as to leave her palace quarters multiple times to seek an audience with the king.

    As soon as she saw on the television in her second-floor office that the rioters were inside the Capitol, Ivanka Trump said to her aides, “I’m going down to my dad. This has to stop.” She spent several hours walking back and forth to the Oval trying to persuade the president to be stronger in telling his supporters he stood with law enforcement and ordering them to disperse.

    Just when Ivanka Trump thought she had made headway and returned upstairs, Meadows would call her to say that the president still needed more persuading. “I need you to come back down here,” Meadows would tell her. “We’ve got to get this under control.” He would clear the room of other aides and say, “I only want Ivanka, myself and the president in here.”

    This cycle repeated itself several times that afternoon. […]

    Not to nitpick, but if the situation was so dire, couldn’t our heroine just have stayed in the room to make sure that her father actually called off his dogs? What was so important that she needed to race back upstairs, only to trot back down […]

    Let’s see how Mike Pence fares in this account.

    Vice President Pence could have the courage of a lion, but there was no doubt that he would fulfill his constitutional duty and preside over the pro forma certification of Biden’s win.

    Oh, cool, the guy who sacrificed every moral principle he ever claimed to have and gave evangelicals permission to vote for a venal pervert is being described as possessing superhuman bravery by the authors of the book. But wait, there’s more! Here’s Mike Pence being lauded for his courage in putting out a letter on January 6 declaring his intention to fulfill his constitutional obligation to certify the election. Sure, he could have put it out weeks before and nipped that particular fever dream in the bud, but let’s all laud the moral courage of a guy who managed to turn in his homework the day after it was due, right?

    Pence vowed to hear any objections, and then to count the electoral college votes “in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws, and history.” His final words: “So help me God.”

    And here’s Mike Pence, manfully refusing to leave the Capitol during the riot, selflessly sacrificing his own safety out of his abiding devotion to democracy.

    At 2:26, after a team of agents scouted a safe path to ensure the Pences would not encounter trouble, Giebels and the rest of Pence’s detail guided them down a staircase to a secure subterranean area that rioters couldn’t reach, where the vice president’s armored limousine awaited. Giebels asked Pence to get in one of the vehicles. “We can hold here,” he said.

    “I’m not getting in the car, Tim,” Pence replied. “I trust you, Tim, but you’re not driving the car. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I’m not getting in the car.”

    The Pences then made their way to a secure underground area to wait out the riot.

    In fact, the only villain in this account is Donald Trump himself. Everyone around him is a bloody hero, risking it all to rein in the mad king. And with the greatest respect for Rucker and Leonnig, both of whom are amazing journalists, we say NO FUCKING WAY.

    Because we were all there. We all watched this five year train wreck, we all saw Pence, and Ivanka, and Meadows, and Kellogg, and every last one of those horrible people work to support a man whom they all knew to be constitutionally and morally unfit as he did horrendous violence to our country. And we are not here for some kind of redemption chronicle that casts these people as heroic patriots who did their best to protect America from the president’s worst instincts. The fact that it could have been worse doesn’t undo the catastrophic harms we all suffered, and it doesn’t vitiate the role Pence, Ivanka, and the rest of Team Trump played in inflicting this disaster on us.

    They should wear that scarlet letter for the rest of their miserable lives. […]


  172. says

    Wonkette: “Homeopath Facing Prison Time For Selling Fake Vaccine Cards And $243 Sugar Pills”

    A “naturopathic doctor,” which is a real thing that exists, is facing federal charges for selling fake COVID vaccination cards in conjunction with some very expensive fake “homeoprophylactic” pellets, which she falsely claimed provided the same immunization as an actual vaccine, but without “toxic substances.” She is now looking at up to 20 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for wire fraud and false statements relating to health care matters.

    Dr. Juli Mazi of Napa, California, had actually been running this scheme for a while. Prior to COVID, she sold homeoprophylaxis immunizations for childhood illnesses that she falsely claimed would satisfy the state of California’s immunization requirement for California schools, and “falsified, fabricated, and altered immunization cards that were submitted by parents to California schools.” However, she got caught when she was reported to the feds by a relative of a family that had purchased the $243 immunization pellets and fake COVID immunization cards stating they had taken the Moderna vaccine.

    According to the Department of Justice’s complaint against her, Mazi told customers that the pellets she sold them contained a “very minute amount of this [COVID-19] disease” that would “automatically flag” their immune system and provide lifelong immunity to the virus without any of the “toxic ingredients” present in actual vaccines.

    While it is true that the pellets do not contain “toxic ingredients,” on account of the fact that they are literally just sugar pills, there is nothing that can provide “lifelong immunity” to COVID-19, not even actual vaccines.

    Mazi’s patients were instructed to take the pellet for four days, with the more “potent” pellets to be taken on the last two days.

    Each dose is approximately 2-4 pellets. The first 2 days of dosing are the 200C potency and the last 2 days of dosing are the 10M potency

    And by “more potent,” she meant more diluted.

    While “homeopathy” is frequently used as a catchall term to describe any “natural” health product, many of which contain actual ingredients and do work, actual homeopathy does neither of those things. It’s based on two main premises — that “like cures like” and that “water has a memory.” Homeopaths take a small amount of a substance like belladonna and dilute it in water until there isn’t even one molecule of the original substance in the water and then sell it to people for lots and lots of money, claiming that the more it is diluted the more powerful it is. […]

    Homeopaths say it doesn’t matter that the original substance is no longer in the “preparation” because the water itself retains the memory of the substance […] Things that do not have brain cells do not have memories […]

    Because Naturopathic Doctors are in fact licensed as actual doctors and primary care physicians with the ability to prescribe medicine, Mazi had access to actual COVID vaccination cards, which she either falsified herself or sent blank to out-of-state patients with instructions on how to falsify the cards themselves.

    Here is just some of the nonsense Mazi told her customers, according to the complaint:

    a. “[I]t’s called homeoprophylaxis . . . It is a branch of Homeopathy . . . it basically utilizes the same underlying theory that vaccination uses. And that theory is that we are introducing a very minute amount of this illness, into the system in a way that provokes immunity.”

    b. “Now in nature, you know. The way that we typically catch these infectious diseases is by way of the germs entering in through one of our orifices. So with homeoprophylaxis, we are introducing these orally. And in doing so that automatically signals the immune system’s attention, without the need for any other ingredients to accomplish that. Whereas of course with vaccines, because they’re being injected, they’re not coming in through one of the natural entry routes.”

    c. “And ultimately with this method, there’s 4 total days of dosing. The first two days are the lower dose, or the lower potency. And the last 2 days are the higher potencies. So we’re kinda strategically teaching the immune system immunity to this disease.”

    d. “Now…basically if the infectious disease exists, they can make a remedy from it. So there are remedies for pretty much every infectious disease you can imagine out there, whether or not there are vaccines for those diseases. So the remedy for Covid has been available since the beginning, and I’ve been offering that. And you know, it really wasn’t until at least 9 months later that the CDC printed these cards.”

    e. “[The CDC Vaccination Record Cards] so clearly state Vaccination Record, and ask for a manufacturer and lot number. So you know, I um even though it’s more than an ethical stretch that I’m happy about, I am just stepping up to the plate to offer these.”

    f. When Complainant 1 stated that it is “important to me [to receive the CDC Vaccination Record Card] because um you know. I want to be able to show that I’m vaccinated,” MAZI responded, “Exactly. I know. It’s becoming quite the climate.”

    Mazi is a scam artist and she should absolutely face consequences for her actions, but sending her to prison for 20 years — about the time you’d get in Norway for a particularly brutal murder — does not seem like the most efficient solution. Absurdly excessive prison sentences just can’t be the answer to every problem we face as a society. And while it might feel satisfying to those of us who hate this crap, it just ends up inflating prison sentences for everyone else and then nothing is ever enough.

    The real problem is that “alternative medicine” isn’t regulated in any way, that people are allowed to sell homeopathic preparations (ie: sugar pills) to people claiming they will actually do something, that Dr. Oz has his own television show, that naturopaths are allowed to be actual prescribing physicians and that our for-profit healthcare system provides an opening for people like Dr. Mazi to take advantage of people like that.

    […] we don’t have to create such a fertile environment for bullshit artists and snake-oil salespeople.

  173. says

    The Washington Post editorial board: The right’s reckless anti-vaccine campaign is not mere pandering. It’s fatal.

    The United States’ vaccination drive is caught in a difficult struggle. Many Americans are resisting the one measure that could save their lives and help the country defeat the pandemic. President Biden has urged a door-to-door drive to persuade as many as possible to take the shot. But just at this delicate moment, conservative politicians and media pundits are fomenting resistance to vaccines. Their words are reckless and irresponsible.

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham on a July 7 show played a clip of White House press secretary Jen Psaki outlining Mr. Biden’s plans for the door-to-door campaign. “Going door-to-door?” Ms. Ingraham scoffed. “This is creepy stuff. Someone comes up to your door outside wearing a mask showing up at your house claiming to work for the government asking you personal medical questions. What could possibly go wrong there?” Top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson on July 6 bemoaned the effort to vaccinate children. “So, because this disease, the median age in Ohio of death is 80, your 15-year-old needs to have Joe Biden’s health authority show up at your house with a needle. … I honestly think it’s the greatest scandal in my lifetime by far. I thought the Iraq War was — it seems much bigger than that. The idea that you would force people to take medicine they don’t want or need, is there a precedent for that in our lifetimes?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Twitter made it sound like a Soviet plot. “When the Biden admin calls for ‘targeted’ ‘door-to-door outreach’ to get people vaccinated, it comes across as a g-man saying: ‘We know you’re unvaccinated, let’s talk, comrade.’” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) declared, “Biden is going to homes to push shots. Just say NO!”

    Mr. Biden is not forcing anyone to be vaccinated. His drive to overcome vaccine hesitancy is necessary and important. These anti-vaccination voices from conservatives are shamelessly stoking paranoia. They are not alone — anti-vaccination campaigners have been at this for some time — but the latest comments on Fox News and social media are amplifying the dangerous message to millions. [video available at the link]

    By slowing the uptake of lifesaving vaccines, anti-vaccination voices give the delta variant time and space to claim new victims. This is a threat to everyone because it will prolong the pandemic. Infections are on the rise in the United States. A stark scenario is unfolding in southwestern Missouri, where hospitals are beginning to surpass the level of covid-19 patients seen in December 2020. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that new cases in St. Louis County had skyrocketed 63 percent in the past two weeks. Missouri is among several states with vaccination rates well below the national average.

    Across the country, those getting sick and being hospitalized are almost exclusively the unvaccinated. For Fox News and conservative politicians to be frightening people about vaccines with words like “creepy,” “scandal” and the conspiratorial “let’s talk, comrade” is not mere pandering. It can be fatal.

  174. KG says

    Lynna, OM@212,
    I’m not sure I agree with the Wonkette writer that 20 years in prison is an excessive sentece for “Dr.” Mazi. She’s doing her best to cause large numbers of people to die a rather horrible death. And if released, is only too likely to reoffend.

  175. KG says

    Sorry, 212->213 @215. And of course Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and those behind them – notably Rupert Murdoch – are even worse criminals.

  176. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 213

    Mazi is a scam artist and she should absolutely face consequences for her actions, but sending her to prison for 20 years — about the time you’d get in Norway for a particularly brutal murder — does not seem like the most efficient solution.

    WHAT?!?! Our society has been coddling and protecting pseudoscience and it’s adherents for far, far, to long, but when we finally have the chance to punish one who has been damaging civilization with woo, we wring our hands over their sentence?!

    If anything, 20 years is way too lenient!

  177. says

    Biden admin sends Trump’s showerhead rule down the drain

    At Trump’s insistence, the Department of Energy created ridiculous water-flow standards for showerheads. The Biden administration is undoing the policy.

    By mid-December 2020, things weren’t going well for Donald Trump. He’d lost his re-election bid; his efforts to nullify the results were failing; his country was struggling with a brutal COVID surge; and his weak public standing was deteriorating further.

    The Republican did, however, get one piece of news that he was eager to hear: The U.S. Energy Department finalized a rule to overhaul showerhead water-flow standards.

    Seven months later, it’s poised to be undone.

    President Joe Biden’s administration is reversing a Trump-era rule approved after the former president complained he wasn’t getting wet enough because of limits on water flow from shower heads. Now, with a new president in office, the Energy Department is going back to a standard adopted in 2013, saying it provides plenty of water for a good soak and a thorough clean.

    As a practical matter, the significance of the news is quite limited: the industry was operating under the 2013 standards for nearly a decade, and manufacturers weren’t rushing to make dramatic changes.

    But as a political matter, this is pretty amusing.

    Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to review how we reached this exceedingly silly point. In January 2020, as the U.S. House prepared to send articles of presidential impeachment to the U.S. Senate, Trump headlined a campaign rally in Wisconsin where he reflected on the issue that was foremost on his mind: water, or more specifically, household devices that use water.

    The then-president specifically complained about showerheads that only provide a “drip, drip, drip,” adding that modern showerheads are inadequate when washing what he described as his “beautiful head of hair.”

    As the pandemic intensified, the Republican couldn’t shake the distraction. “So showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said at a White House event in July. “You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.” He peddled similar rhetoric a month later at a Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Ohio.

    None of this made sense. Federal regulations dictated that showerheads should go through 2.5 gallons of water per minute, regardless of the number of nozzles. At the former president’s insistence, the Trump administration created new rules that would have created showerheads that used 2.5 gallons per nozzle per minute.

    Or put another way, if your showerhead has four nozzles, Trump’s plan was to create showers in which you’d go through 10 gallons of water every minute, not 2.5 gallons.

    There was no reason to do this. Indeed, there was no evidence of public demand for such a change, and it served no policy purpose, but Trump wanted the change, so his administration delivered it.

    And now the Biden administration is undoing it. A whining statement from the former president seems inevitable.

  178. says

    Oh, FFS. More doofuses planning violent attacks based on Trump’s lies:

    Two California men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly plotting to attack the Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, part of what prosecutors say was a plan to inspire a “movement” among “patriots” following the 2020 election. […]

    “Prompted by the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, on November 25, 2020, Rogers and Copeland began to plan an attack against a target or targets they associated with Democrats,” the federal indictment against the men read.

    “By November 29, 2020, they had identified the John L. Burton Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento, California, as their first target, and made plans to attack it using incendiary devices. Rogers and Copeland believed that the attacks would start what they called a ‘movement.’ They discussed the attack in detail and on numerous occasions.” […]

    “150 rounds shot into the building will destroy it,” Rogers allegedly told Copeland on Nov. 27, after linking to a map of the building.

    “Yeah true,” Copeland allegedly responded.

    “And a couple pipe bombs,” Rogers said.

    “That pipe bomb that shit,” Copeland said.

    The men also discussed how their actions would have political ramifications, prosecutors said.

    “2 men can change the world if we want to,” Rogers allegedly wrote to Copeland, also on Nov. 27.

    “We don’t need to win over 50,000 people we need 500 pissed off patriots that want America back,” Copeland responded.

    […] “Let’s see what happens after the 20th we go to war,” Rogers said, seemingly referring to the date of Joe Biden’s inauguration.

    […] Officers raided Rogers’ home and business on Jan. 17, finding five fully assembled pipe bombs, dozens of firearms including three machine guns, and thousands of rounds of ammunition — and something claiming to be a “White Privilege Card.”

    […] Jess Raphael, who’s representing Rogers in the state case, told TPM that his client had engaged in “drunken bluster.”

    […] On Thursday prosecutors argued that Copeland should remain in government custody, as well.

    “Both he and Rogers were animated by the kind [sic] anger that will not be abated or deterred by a court order,” prosecutors wrote. “And all of the political and social conditions that motivated them to plan what they themselves described as a terrorist attack remain. The only way to protect the public is to ensure that Copeland remains in custody.”


  179. says

    Follow-up to comment 220.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    “There is no evidence whatsoever that any preparatory actions were taken,” the attorney continued. “It was all intoxicated speech. Mr. Rogers has been collecting firearms for many years. They were not accumulated to promote any perceived plot. The pipe bombs were made long before the election strife with rudimentary materials like ammunition reload powder that Mr Rogers had on hand, with the intent to set them off on camping trips, blowing up tree stumps and the like. All were kept in a thick gun safe in his shop that kept them secure from accident.”

    HAHAHA. Does this crank lawyer work for the kraken?

    So these guys were drunk for months, building illegal explosives (what fun!), chatting with Boogaloos, collecting armor and weapons, and all the while discussing which building to light on fire, shoot up, and then explode with pipebombs… and when caught communicated with other terrorists to destroy evidence and this lawyer seriously presented this all as some sort of cute misunderstanding?
    In unrelated news, the Department of Justice announced its 501st indictment of a capitol treasonweaseler.
    Always nice to read about the – my client is a heavily armed, angry, alcoholic defense. My client is a responsible machine gun and bomb owner because he keeps them in a safe.

    I love camping – nothing quite like communing in nature with pipe bombs.

  180. says

    For Minimum Wage Workers, Rent Is Now Unaffordable in Every County in America

    Meanwhile, at least 7.5 million people are at risk of eviction at month’s end.

    There is now not a single state or county in the US where a minimum wage worker on a 40-hour week can afford a two-bedroom home at the fair market rent, according to a report published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition this week. In 93 percent of US counties, such full-time minimum wage workers can’t afford a one-bedroom apartment, either.

    “The enduring problem of housing unaffordability requires bold investments in housing solutions that will ensure stability in the future,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel in an emailed statement. “Without a significant federal intervention, housing will continue to be out of reach for millions of renters.”

    To crunch these numbers, the NLIHC relied on a common metric for housing affordability: a home is affordable if it requires workers to pay up to 30 percent of their monthly income in rent. Using this metric, NLIHC’s report found that workers would need to earn a little less than $52,000 per year—or $24.90 per hour—to afford a modest two-bedroom home, or at least $20.40 per hour to afford a one bedroom. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

    The report comes at a particularly tense moment for hundreds of thousands of families. Housing costs are soaring around the country, and the expiration of the COVID eviction moratorium looms at the end of this month. The moratorium has been extended several times during the pandemic, but last month, the CDC announced a one-month extension and vowed that this would be its last. At least 7.5 million people are at risk of eviction, according to the latest numbers from the Census Bureau, and 12.6 million people expressed little to no confidence that they would be able to make next month’s rent.

    This eviction deadline is likely to collide with other economic inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The nature of COVID-19 meant that, as the world went into lockdown, industries with low-wage jobs—like retail, hospitality, and dining—saw the greatest share of layoffs. Those already-low-wage workers who lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic have had to wait a long time for their industries to reopen. And communities of color have been the hardest hit: Black and Latino workers were far more likely than white workers to have lost income during the pandemic. […]

    “With the highest levels of job losses since the Great Depression and an ongoing global pandemic, low-income workers and communities of color were disproportionately harmed,” Yentel said. “Without a significant federal intervention, housing will continue to be out of reach for millions of renters.”

  181. says

    Meanwhile, the guy @ #108 who plotted a gruesome triple murder-for-hire; paid his “associate” in the scheme, a 26-year-old woman, with drugs – she was later found dead of an apparent overdose; and planned to frame to frame Black Lives Matter for the killings…entered a plea agreement in which he “admitted to one count of murder for hire, a sentence likely to serve at least 10 years in prison.”

  182. snarkrates says

    SC@202, And the Dubya AWOL documents didn’t add much to what we knew either. That is part of what made them good bait. They didn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know, but provided support that up to then had been lacking.

    The thing that really concerns me is that the Kremlin doesn’t leak. I suspect that this could be a tasty morsel set out to lull in unwary journalists and politicians on the left, only to trap them when the time is right, as well as a reminder to a certain orange turd that there is real stuff that could be released at will.

  183. says

    Good trouble:

    Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, was one of nine people arrested Thursday at a voting rights demonstration in the Hart Senate Office Building — an arrest the Congressional Black Caucus chair celebrated on social media. […]

    Beatty, wearing a T-shirt that read “Protect Our Voting Rights,” had led a group of protesters into the building in the Capitol complex, where they chanted “Pass For the People Act,” the sweeping voting rights legislation that is stalled in the Senate. […]<

    n a statement, Beatty said: "I stand in solidarity with Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote. We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us. Be assured that this is just the beginning. This is Our Power, Our Message."

    NBC News link

    Photos at the link.

  184. says

    From a Talking Points Memo reader:

    It’s worth pausing every so often to admire (if that’s the right word) the sheer insanity of the pandemic situation in the United States. Specifically: despite the widespread availability of vaccines for Covid; despite the fact that the vaccines are free; despite the fact that they are astonishingly effective at preventing a disease that is frequently fatal and often results in long-term disability; despite the fact that mass vaccination is clearly the only way we’re going to get out of the Covid pandemic that doesn’t involve mass suffering and trauma on an unimaginable scale; nonetheless, the US vaccination campaign is failing.

    And why is it failing? Apparently because one of the two major political parties, and its media allies, have decided that their policy is to oppose vaccination because — well, it’s not clear why they oppose it. Sometimes it seems to be some vague culture-war objection. Other times it seems like a cynical calculation — that failure of the vaccination campaign, and ongoing dislocation due to the pandemic, will benefit them in upcoming elections. But any way you slice it, it’s astonishing in its irresponsibility.

    I remember a neighborhood association meeting some years ago when the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties in San Francisco came to jointly argue for a ballot measure that both parties supported (it was to put suicide prevention systems on the Golden Gate Bridge). Mass vaccination should be like that, but apparently that’s no longer possible with today’s Republican Party.

  185. says

    We should see more news on this next week:

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has previewed a Wednesday vote on the bipartisan infrastructure legislation and set the same day as a deadline for his party to settle on what will be in its $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan. […]


    Meanwhile, Republican doofus and senator, Marsha Blackburn, posted a tweet saying “you know who else liked universal day care:” [followed by a graphic representing an NYT article from 1974 in which day-care facilities in the USSR were described]

  186. says

    […] even a 70% vaccination rate would not be enough to prevent community spread [of the Delta variant of the COVID virus]. But it would sure as hell help. Only America is seemingly stuck at a 48% vaccination rate, with a dozen states below the 40% line and not a single state reaching 70% of the population fully vaccinated. In part, that’s because the FDA has yet to approve vaccinations for those under 12. Because they can’t. Because vaccine providers haven’t yet submitted test data for children. And, since children under 12 account for about 15% of the population, getting to levels of vaccination necessary to stop the spread of delta is almost impossible.

    Still, at this moment, 90% of Democratic adults say they are already vaccinated. That’s about as good as we can do until vaccination for children becomes available. If all adults were vaccinated to that level, we would still be seeing community spread because children would still be acting as a pool of potential cases, but we would not be seeing the wave of cases happening now.

    Only there’s a roadblock: Republicans. And what makes something already difficult to understand even harder is that the biggest part of that roadblock is Republican women.

    To see just how contagious the latest variants of COVID-19 really are, the original version of COVID-19 that spread across the United States last spring had an estimated R0 value of 2.7, which is in the range of the common cold. The delta variant has an estimated value of 6. That’s still short of something like chickenpox or polio (both of which have values around 10-15), but it’s much higher than most diseases. At an R0 of 2, a 75% vaccination rate would be enough to halt community spread. At an R0 of 6, it definitely would not. What’s really needed to halt community spread is a vaccination rate of 80% or higher. Everywhere.

    That’s a whopper of a challenge. In other diseases, numbers like that have only been obtained because vaccination was in some way mandatory, such as vaccinations required for school or as a condition of employment. However, it is attainable, as the rate among Democratic adults shows.

    […] Right now Civiqs indicates that 3% of adults still intend to get vaccinated. There is an even higher percentage of kids between 12 and 18 that simply haven’t yet gotten their chance at a jab. Every single one of those who wants the vaccine but hasn’t had an opportunity needs to get it. We need them all. […]

    To see just how contagious the latest variants of COVID-19 really are, the original version of COVID-19 that spread across the United States last spring had an estimated R0 value of 2.7, which is in the range of the common cold. The delta variant has an estimated value of 6. That’s still short of something like chickenpox or polio (both of which have values around 10-15), but it’s much higher than most diseases. At an R0 of 2, a 75% vaccination rate would be enough to halt community spread. At an R0 of 6, it definitely would not. What’s really needed to halt community spread is a vaccination rate of 80% or higher. Everywhere.

    […] Over the same period in which Republican men seemed to be moving toward greater acceptance of the vaccine, Republican women didn’t change their positions at all. [charts available at the link]

    […] The best clue to why Republican women might be still holding out against the vaccine, even as Republican men seem to be slowly sliding toward acceptance, might come from a Politico article from back in March. The focus of that article was on a rumor that has been consistently spread since even before the vaccines became available.

    When it comes to Covid-19, misinformation that the vaccines cause infertility has been a key driver of vaccine hesitancy among women. This theory gained traction late last year when a group published a petition to a German website, speculating without evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines then in development could affect infertility. One of the authors of the petition was a former vice president of Pfizer, which lent the petition credibility, especially in anti-vaxx circles. Despite medical experts’ widespread debunking of this myth, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from January showed that 12 percent of those polled who were unvaccinated had heard it.

    That myth is still being pushed by the anti-vax sources who dominate a lot of the online rumor mill. As Open Access Government reported, Google searches for connections between infertility and the COVID-19 vaccines “increased by 34,900%” following the publication of that online petition.

    Claims about infertility, about how mRNA vaccines could lead to “mutations” or “birth defects,” and about how even associating with vaccinated people could cause potential harm to pregnant women or their children are right at the top of the false claims made about COVID-19 vaccines. So are associated claims that an mRNA vaccine can “change your DNA.”

    From the time these rumors first appeared, medical authorities have attempted to knock them down. And knock them down again. And again. But that message is clearly not breaking through to Republican women […]

    Some of these disinformation campaigns are well-organized and well-funded, giving an appearance of professionalism that draws from decades of experience in building confusion over the opinion of genuine experts.

    […] As The New York Times reported back in 2018, “Health care providers may have implicit biases that affect the way women are heard, understood and treated.”

    To give a personal example, my wife went to her doctor repeatedly complaining of pains in her back and shoulders, exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, and an inability to keep up her level of exercise. Her doctor chuckled at her and said, “You sound like a woman who’s upset about turning 50.” He recommended she see a therapist to decrease her anxiety. What she had was not anxiety. It was a two-liter tumor in her chest that had collapsed her left lung, was crushing her heart, and which within days of that visit came very close to killing her. That experience may be extreme, but it’s sadly not all that unfamiliar to way too many women.

    Fixing the longstanding and well-earned distrust that many women have for medical experts may be too much to ask as a step in getting us to where we need to be when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations. But shooting down the disinformation that is generating enough concern to generate a 10-point gap among Republican women and men is something that deserves more attention, and a better approach.


  187. says

    The day after telling Texas Democrats he cares about voting rights, Manchin sells them out—in Texas

    Sen. Joe Manchin met with the courageous Texas Democrats who left Austin this week to deny the House a quorum, to keep their state from further eroding the right to vote. They came to D.C. to try to get the Senate to do what the House has already done—pass critical voting rights legislation to stop the tide of voter suppression in their state and across the nation.

    […] Here’s what Manchin decided to do Friday, one day after meeting those Texas Democrats: have a $5,800 a head fundraiser IN TEXAS, “with a host committee that includes several wealthy Republican donors.” […]

    “We invite you to join us for a special evening supporting our friend, US Senator Joe Manchin,” the invitation said, signed by the hosts who are titans of the Texas oil and gas industry. They went on to call Manchin “a longtime friend since his days as Governor of West Virginia.”

    “Among the hosts are oil billionaires like Jeff Hildebrand, who cofounded the energy company Hilcorp and Richard Kinder, a cofounder of Kinder Morgan, an energy infrastructure company,” The Texas Tribune reports. “Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Hildebrand to the University of Texas Board of Regents for a six-year term beginning in 2013.”

    How lovely for all of them all these “prolific donors to past GOP nominees, including former President Donald Trump, and to organizations like the Republican Party of Texas, the Republican National Committee, state parties, GOP candidates across the country and to Republicans in U.S. Senate and House leadership.” Oh, and the whole current crew of Republican leadership in the state, including House Speaker Dade Phelan. The ones who are hellbent on suppressing votes in their state.

    After meeting with Manchin Thursday, Texas state Rep. Joe Moody was trying to be gracious to the senator. “Senator Manchin was very generous with his time, and Texas Democrats were heartened by our talks with him,” he said. “We have no doubt that he completely shares our goal of protecting voting rights for all Americans, and we all realize that this is a struggle that won’t be over in just a few days—it’s a journey, one we look forward to taking together.”

    Meanwhile back in Texas, Speaker Phelan—who has been financially supported by the same people now raising all this money for Manchin—was stripping Moody of his position as speaker pro tempore of the state House. In that position, Moody was in charge of filling in when Phelan wasn’t present.

    “I followed my conscience knowing that doing the right thing could cost me, but not fighting would’ve cost even more: the civil rights of Texans,” Moody told CNN after Phelan’s action. “The job I swore an oath to do is to defend our Constitution, so I’d make that trade any day. Titles come and go, but my commitment to the people of El Paso and this state will always remain.”

    That’s a man of principle. Who gave Manchin far too much benefit of the doubt for sharing his principles. Someone, preferable the goddamned president to the United States, needs to have a sit down with Manchin and remind him about his duty to the Constitution.

    It also might not hurt for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to have a talk with Manchin about just how much he does value that position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The one that makes him so valuable to the Republican oil and gas titans of Texas.

  188. tomh says

    ‘A propaganda tool’ for Trump: A second federal judge castigates attorneys who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 results
    Rosalind S. Helderman
    July 16, 2021|Updated today at 10:50 a.m. EDT

    Just before Christmas, two Colorado lawyers filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 160 million American voters, alleging a vast conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election by the voting equipment manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan and elected officials in four states — and asking for $160 billion in damages.

    The case was dismissed in April, but now a federal judge is considering disciplining the lawyers for filing a frivolous claim — sharply questioning the duo in a Friday hearing about whether they had allowed themselves to be used as “a propaganda tool” of former president Donald Trump.

    “Did that ever occur to you? That, possibly, [you’re] just repeating stuff the president is lying about?” Federal Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter asked the two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, during a hearing to consider sanctioning them.

    [Quote of the week, IMO]

    It was the second time this week that a judge dressed down lawyers who filed cases alleging fraud in the 2020 election, as the legal system grapples with how to hold accountable those who used the court system to spread falsehoods about the vote.

    On Monday, a federal judge in Michigan spent nearly six hours skeptically questioning a group of nine lawyers, including pro-Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, in a similar hearing to determine whether to discipline the group for filing a lawsuit that sought to overturn President Biden’s win in that state.

    [See Lynna’s #80 on Michigan case]

    Sanctions hearings are pending in other states as well, including Wisconsin, where Gov. Tony Evers (D) has asked a judge to order Trump and his lawyers to pay the state’s legal fees stemming from post-election litigation.

    Meanwhile, a committee of judges in New York suspended the law license of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, arguing that Trump’s personal lawyer had “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements” that amounted to an ongoing threat to the public. Giuliani’s lawyers have said they are confident his license will be restored after a hearing.

    Legal rules require that attorneys be truthful in court and not clog up the court system with frivolous motions. Lawyers who violate the rules can be required to pay their opponents’ legal fees or can be assessed additional monetary penalties. Judges can also refer them for grievance procedures that can result in disbarment.

  189. says

    City vehicles in Chesapeake, Virginia, will soon be getting religion.

    At a meeting on July 13, 2021, city councilors unanimously voted in favor of a proposal that would see the official motto of the U.S., “In God We Trust,” emblazoned on every city-owned car and truck, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of US$87,000.

    Meanwhile, the state of Mississippi is preparing to defend in court its insistence that all citizens, unless they pay a fee for an alternative, must display the same four-word phrase on their license plates. Gov. Tate Reeves vowed last month to take the issue “all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court should we have to.”

    “In God We Trust” became the national motto 65 years ago this month. But over the past few years a string of bills and city ordinances has sought to expand its usage and presence. Such efforts include legislation requiring or encouraging the motto be displayed in government buildings and schools, on license plates and on police vehicles.

    The rise of bills across the country at this time is no coincidence. It fits with a concerted effort by Christian nationalists who view the motto as a tool to help legitimize an agenda of passing legislation that privileges conservative Christian values.

    […] Christian nationalists played a key role in getting “In God We Trust” put on coins during the Civil War and ever since have attempted to use the motto as “proof” that the United States is a Christian nation.

    Early Christian nationalists criticized the Founding Fathers for failing to recognize the United States as an explicitly Christian nation in the Constitution. An early Christian nationalist organization, The National Reform Association, pushed for a “Christian Amendment” that would correct what they called the “original sin” of not recognizing Jesus Christ in the Constitution.

    Their efforts failed. But Christian nationalists had better success in getting the more ambiguous motto “In God We Trust” put on coins in 1864. […]

    Amid fears of “atheistic communism” during the Cold War a century later, Christian nationalists in the U.S. again tried and failed to pass a “Christian Amendment.” But they again found success in advocating for legislation that used vague religious references, culminating in the adding of “under God” to the pledge of allegiance and making “In God We Trust” the national motto on July 30, 1956.

    Since it became the national motto, conservative Christians have used “In God We Trust” to justify opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage by suggesting that they violate the principles embedded in the motto.

    Earlier this year, Mississippi state Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith justified legislation that would ban voter registration on Sundays by holding up a dollar bill and saying, “This says, ‘The United States of America, in God we trust.’ … In God’s word in Exodus 20:18, it says ‘remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.‘”

    […] Christian nationalists have increasingly turned to “In God We Trust” bills as a way to further legitimize their agenda. This is particularly evident in the “Project Blitz” initiative, led by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, which states its aim as “restoring Judeo-Christian principles to their rightful place.”

    Project Blitz started in 2015 […] As David Barton, a leader in the initiative, explained in a 2018 conference call with state legislators: “It’s kind of like whack-a-mole for the other side; it’ll drive ‘em crazy that they’ll have to divide their resources out in opposing this.”

    One such success in Project Blitz was in Chesapeake, where the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation is based. The organization successfully pushed for the motto “In God We Trust” to be displayed at the City Hall.

    After Project Blitz generated negative publicity in 2018, it was misleadingly rebranded as “Freedom for All.” […]

    The group continues to have successes in getting legislation not only proposed, but also passed. According to BlitzWatch, a group tracking Project Blitz initiatives, this includes bills that support Bible readings in schools and policies that allow adoption and foster agencies and health care providers to deny services based on religious grounds. But it is the “In God We Trust” bills that have seemingly been the most successful for Project Blitz. […]

    Despite its being the national motto for only 65 years, Christian nationalists have framed “In God We Trust” as part of the U.S.‘s founding tradition. Moreover, the motto has become an important rhetorical weapon for Christian nationalists – using it to advance their belief that governments and people are to “trust in God,” and more specifically their perception of a conservative Christian God.


  190. says

    tomh @231, I think all of those lawyers should be disbarred.

    Follow-up to comment 232, commentary posted by readers of the article:

    with Christians anymore, faith is nothing compared to political power. The whole point is to make the belief they can not convince people of the law so they will have to believe or suffer
    I mean, the whole point of advertising is that if your environment is saturated with a consistent message, it will infect your subconconscious mind and influence you to normalize the message. So actually, merely glancing at a dollar bill reinforces the message that we are a religious nation.

    We need to remove all references to “God” from every government asset.
    Let’s suggest that for outreach the motto be translated into arabic.
    If we had a reasonable SC, these movements would be put back under the rug where they belong.
    “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” – Thomas Paine
    And I know it isn’t going to happen with this President, but I wish Biden would stop the knee-jerk convention of asking God to bless America at the end of every speech. Maybe President Kamala Harris can end that stupid convention.

  191. says

    Few people who have ever seen the iconic photo of Gloria Richardson pushing a National Guardsman’s bayonet aside in Cambridge, Maryland. on July 21, 1963, could ever forget it.

    Like many women who were key organizers in the civil rights movement, Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, never got her due; however, those of us to whom she was a major hero will not forget her contributions.

    Now she has passed on, at the age of 99. I hope that, in a time where teaching American history—particularly Black history—is under attack, you will not only honor her memory, but also pass on her story, and follow in her footsteps as we struggle forward. […]


    A powerful photos are available at the link.

  192. says

    Cyber Ninjas failing and whining:

    It’s been three weeks since the Arizona “audit”—a process that involved the most partisan of Trump partisans searching for “bamboo ballots” and the ghostly fingerprints of Hugo Chavez, under the supervision of a firm created expressly to bolster conspiracy theories—apparently came to a close. That is, the audit farce is still officially underway, but three weeks ago Cyber Ninjas tweeted out an announcement that they were done pretending to count ballots, and had moved onto the most critical part of the process: terminal whining.

    As CBS News reports, Cyber Ninjas is now complaining that they “don’t have enough information” to complete the audit. Because getting to finger every single ballot, take control of the voting machines (which will now be discarded after the auditors did who knows what to them), and initiating a plan to go door-to-door asking people how they voted just isn’t enough. As has happened several times in the process, the Ninjas, along with supporters in the Arizona Senate, are directing fingers at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors—the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors—for failing to “cooperate” enough in an audit where they’ve turned over every ballot, every machine, and every scrap of paper related to the election. That’s not enough, say the Ninjas. They want … well, it might be easier to say what they don’t want.

    Until they get everything on their unreasonable list, and whatever unreasonable list comes after this, the “auditors” insist that they are not going to issue a report. Since July 2, all the ballots, machines, and accoutrements of Ninjaing have been parked at an unairconditioned building on the Arizona state fairgrounds. It’s unclear whether anyone is actually working there.

    And on Friday afternoon, the Associated Press made it clear why this is so: Arizona’s county election officials have also been going through the ballots, not just for Maricopa, but for every county. […]

    After looking through more than three million ballots from the 2020 election, 182 cases turned up that were confusing enough that they were referred for further review. Four of these cases have led to actual charges of voter fraud. None of them involve someone voting more than once—though several of the cases involve people who tried to vote more than once and were stopped. These numbers are exactly in line with what would be expected in any election, and show absolutely nothing special about what happened in Arizona, no matter what the county.

    […] Of the four cases charged, two involved Democrats and two involved Republicans.

    As for Maricopa County, the actual election supervisors identified one case of potential voter fraud. That case involves a voter who might have also been registered to vote in another state, The case has been sent to the attorney general for investigation.

    Not only do the 182 cases show that large scale vote fraud is non-existent, they show just how good the system is at stopping even small-scale cheaters. People who tried to vote in multiple districts were stopped. People who tried to vote remotely as well as in-person got just one vote. People who tried to cast mail-in ballots for dead relatives were caught. Even cases that were unclear—like the voter who could have potentially voted in another state—were flagged and investigated.

    The detail and exactness with which all these cases were handled shows just how impossible it is that voter fraud on the scale claimed by Trump and his supporters could have occurred. […]

    The actual review by actual officials showed that the two things most cited by Trump supporters—false mail in ballots and votes “from dead people”—are rare, easily detected, and mostly stopped before they could have even a tiny effect on Election Day results.

    […] In the end, it’s clear the Maricopa “audit” won’t have an end. It is designed never to end. […] it was never about finding any evidence of real fraud. It was only ever about giving Trump justification for his claims, and eternal victimhood […]

    So the Arizona audit will just remain open eternally, acting as a north star that will unfailing attract Trump’s orange finger when he’s pointing out “campaign fraud.”


  193. says

    Well, this is laugh-worthy:
    O’Reilly threatens to sue after media reports ‘History Tour’ with Trump has low ticket sales

    Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly reportedly threatened to sue a Politico reporter over an article revealing that sales for his “History Tour” with former President Trump were low, citing conversations with venue ticketing officials.

    Politico’s Daniel Lippman on Friday reported that tickets for the tour, which has four stops scheduled at locations in Texas and Florida this December, went on sale June 14, though venue officials said sales have so far been slow compared with other events held at the arenas.

    For example, a box office employee at Orlando, Fla.’s 20,000-person Amway Center, which will host Trump and O’Reilly on Dec. 12, told Politico, “There’s still a lot of tickets open.”

    “We have concerts that are doing a lot better than this,” the employee added, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    The employee said that a Bad Bunny concert scheduled for March at the arena sold out in two days and that tickets for a Dec. 3 Kane Brown concert were almost gone.

    Employees at Houston’s Toyota Center, Dallas’s American Airlines Center and Sunrise, Fla.’s BB&T Center all said that a large portion of seats for the Trump-O’Reilly tour remain unsold, with a BB&T box office official telling Politico they expected sales to have been “definitely higher” at this point.

    However, Trump and O’Reilly have both pushed back on Politico’s reporting, with Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington saying in a statement, “The History Tour has already sold over $5 million of tickets, and the excitement and enthusiasm is unlike anything we’ve seen before.” [LOL]

    […] Lippman reported that in a phone interview, O’Reilly said claims that ticket sales were lagging were “false” and “totally ridiculous.”

    O’Reilly reportedly argued that ticket sales were at $7 million, higher than the number Harrington gave.

    “We haven’t spent a nickel on marketing, nothing,” he said. “All those 7 million for four shows were done on the announcement. Marketing will start in about a week. Nobody has sold tickets this fast at this price, and VIPs are sold out at three of the four venues.” [LOL]

    The television personality specifically pushed back on reports that Orlando ticket sales were low, calling it “bullshit,” although he did not know exactly how many tickets had been sold at that arena.

    O’Reilly then reportedly threatened Lippman, saying, “You put one word in there that’s not true, I’ll sue your ass off, and you can quote me on that.”

    “You’re just a hatchet man, and that’s what you are,” he added, according to Lippman.

    […] Upon announcing the tour last month, Trump and O’Reilly said they would discuss “how things were accomplished, as well as challenges, both good and bad,” with Trump saying the events will be “wonderful but hard-hitting sessions” that will discuss the “real problems” occurring in the U.S.

    Prepared to sit in a half-full arena, bored out of your ever-loving mind.