1. says

    Here’s a link to the June 21 Guardian (support it if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Russia records 17,378 new Covid cases and 440 deaths

    Reuters bring the latest numbers from Russia: 17,378 new Covid cases were reported for Monday, and the government coronavirus task force said 440 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the previous 24 hours.

    80% of athletes and officials in Olympic village will be vaccinated – IOC president

    There’s a quick quote here dropped on the wires from the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach. He has told reporters…that well above 80% of the athletes and officials residing in the Olympic village will be vaccinated by the time the Games start on 23 July.

    From their morning summary:

    Olympic organizers have announced that they will allow domestic spectators at this summer’s Tokyo Games. However, attendance is capped at 10,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller.

    Myanmar has reported what is believed to be its highest daily increase in Covid cases since the February coup, as concerns grow over the country’s collapsed health system and the junta’s continued crackdown on medics.

    French nightclubs will be allowed to reopen from 9 July onwards, allowing the industry to operate again for the first time since it was shut during the France’s Covid lockdown in March 2020.

    UK health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the government is working on a booster jab programme and should have clinical data in the next few weeks.

    Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers in England, has said that hospital admissions are “slowly rising” but are nothing like the rates seen during previous waves.

    Changes in India’s vaccination programme come into effect today, with every adult now eligible for a free vaccine paid for by the federal government. This ends a complex system of buying and distributing vaccines that overburdened states and created inequities in who got the shots.

    Shortages of Pfizer vaccines are expected to slow Australia’s rollout through June and July.

    The major manufacturing hub of Dongguan in China’s most populous province of Guangdong has launched mass testing today for Covid and cordoned off communities after detecting its first infections in the current outbreak.

  2. says

    From the Guardian world liveblog:

    As India opened up free vaccinations to all adults today, as prime minister Narendra Modi kicked off a muted International Yoga Day hailing the practice’s “protective” properties against the virus.

    In an early-morning address to the nation, Modi said that the practice had again proved itself to be a source of “inner strength”.

    “When I speak to frontline warriors, they tell me that they have adopted yoga as a protective shield in their fight against coronavirus. Doctors have strengthened themselves with yoga and also used yoga to treat their patients,” he said.

    Public parks were re-opened in Delhi today, but the number of events for Yoga Day was cut back around the country for the second year running because of the pandemic.

    Yoga Day – proposed by Modi and adopted by the United Nations in 2014 – is observed mostly in India, but also worldwide on the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day.

    AFP reports that throughout the pandemic, India’s government has touted yoga and herbal medicines – sales of which have boomed – to protect and give relief to people infected with the virus, despite scant high-quality evidence.

    Andrea Jain’s Peace Love Yoga: The Politics of Global Spirituality has a chapter about Yoga Day, “Made in Bharat: Yoga as Political Ritual”:

    This chapter evaluates neoliberal spirituality in India and its relationship to public space and dominant political values by evaluating prime minister of India Narendra Modi’s 2015 inauguration of the International Day of Yoga with a vast public ritual. Drawing on Steven Lukes’s suggestion that political rituals manipulate an agenda in order to make it appear that community power is at play when in fact they empower a select few, the author argues that Modi’s Yoga Day demonstration demarcated out-groups and empowered a heteropatriarchal Hindu elite. Yoga was an instrument of domination through which Modi mainstreamed Hindutva, the position that the strength and unity of India depend on its “Hindu-ness,” and that therefore unorthodox or foreign social practices and religions should be resisted.

    Claiming it as a protection against or treatment for COVID adds another unconscionable layer.

  3. says

    CNN – “Bolsonaro’s rule is ‘worse threat than coronavirus,’ say Brazilians as nation passes 500,000 deaths”:

    There is barely a person in Brazil today who hasn’t lost a loved one to Covid-19, say local scientists, as the country reached the grim milestone of half a million deaths.

    The South American nation, which holds half the continent’s population, is being decimated by the virus. On June 18 alone Brazil accounted for nearly one-third of all Covid-19 deaths worldwide, according to Our World in Data — a figure that experts warn is quickly rising as the virus spreads unchecked throughout the country.

    The 500,000 death toll is twice as high as it was six months ago, a sign that the mortality rate is accelerating, say experts.

    “In June of last year, we reached 50,000 deaths for Covid-19. In just one year we have multiplied this number 10 times. It’s very scary,” says Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, who in January predicted that the country would reach 500,000 deaths in July. “At the time, people thought that the number was exaggerated,” he recalls.

    The country has suffered from a slow vaccine rollout and staunch resistance to containment measures by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the gravity of the virus.

    With no lockdown and just 11.4% of the population fully vaccinated, the country is considered a “barn of new variants” and is increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. To date, more than 100 countries are restricting the entry of Brazilians, according to the foreign relations ministry.

    Pressure on the federal government is mounting: Anti-Bolsonaro rallies were held on Saturday across the country — in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Salvador and Recife — and even those who were quarantining went out on the streets [!].

    Software developer Mariana Oliveira is one of them. She says she’s decided to protest and take the risk of being infected because “the government is a worse threat than the virus.”…

    More at the link.

  4. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology have said final results from a late-stage study of their monoclonal antibody confirmed it significantly reduced hospitalisation and death among high-risk Covid-19 patients when given early in the disease.

    The treatment, sotrovimab, received an emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration in May, while the EU’s drug regulator has also backed it.

    Reuters reports that the drugmakers also said today the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recommended sotrovimab to treat high-risk, non-hospitalised patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19.

    The treatment appeared to “retain activity” against current variants of concern and interest, the agency said in its updated guidelines. In a study of 1,057 patients, sotrovimab resulted in a 79% reduction in risk of hospitalization for more than 24 hours or death due to any cause, the companies said.

  5. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    After a heavily armed Belgian soldier went missing threatening to kill a high-profile virologist, Belgium’s justice minister has appealed to the public to ignore conspiracy theories after he was discovered yesterday a month after he went missing.

    Before he disappeared, Conings left letters for his wife and the police in which he made threats to kill Marc Van Ranst, Belgium’s best-known virologist and an adviser to the government on its tough Covid restrictions.

    Conings, believed to have shot himself, was found by the mayor of the nearby town of Maaseik on Sunday morning a few hundred metres from an area searched by soldiers in recent days.

    Earlier this year, the Brussels Times reported that excerpts of a video of a speech shared online made it seem as if Van Ranst was explaining how to use a pandemic for personal gain. But he said he had sought to calm the population with clear explanations.

    I had meant to post about this earlier this month! BBC, June 5 – “Belgium’s Van Ranst: Covid scientist targeted by a far-right sniper”:

    For nearly three weeks Belgium’s leading virologist has been living in a safehouse with his wife and 12-year-old son, guarded by security agents.

    While scientists across the world have come under attack throughout the pandemic, the threat to Prof Marc Van Ranst is more serious than most.

    He has been targeted by a far-right rogue soldier, Jürgen Conings, who has a vendetta for virologists and Covid lockdowns. The military shooting instructor went on the run with rocket launcher and a machine gun, and Belgian police cannot find him….

  6. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Putin: Covid in Russia has ‘got worse’ in many regions

    Russian president Vladimir Putin has warned that the coronavirus situation in some Russian regions is getting worse as authorities began promoting the idea of revaccination in an effort to stem new cases.

    New cases have been rising, particularly in Moscow, which on Saturday registered a record 9,120 daily cases. The Kremlin has blamed the increase on people’s reluctance to have vaccinations and “nihilism”.

    “Unfortunately, the coronavirus threat has not receded,” Putin told the lower house of parliament on Monday. “In many regions the situation has even got worse.”

    Video footage emerged on social media on Sunday, purportedly showing people sick with Covid-19 laying prone on the floor of a hospital corridor in St Petersburg, Putin’s home city which is hosting some matches in the Euro 2020 soccer championship, Reuters reports. Local authorities are investigating the video to check its veracity.

    The authorities are trying to coax and compel people to get vaccinated, offering those who do the chance to win new cars and flats, while threatening others with loss of earnings and dismissal.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters today that revaccinations were the way forward. “Revaccination will be and is inevitable – not just vaccination, but revaccination – for those who want to keep themselves, their relatives and loved ones safe,” said Peskov, according to Reuters.

    What is going on in Russia?

  7. says

    CNN – “Supreme Court rules against NCAA, opening door to significant increase in compensation for student athletes”:

    A unanimous Supreme Court said on Monday that student athletes could receive education-related payments, in a case that could reshape college sports by allowing more money from a billion-dollar industry to go to the players.

    Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court.

    College sports raise billions of dollars from ticket sales, television contracts and merchandise, and supporters of the students say the players are being exploited and barred from the opportunity to monetize their talents. In 2016, for example, the NCAA negotiated an eight-year extension of its broadcasting rights to March Madness, worth $1.1 billion annually.

    In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the NCAA is essentially acting “above the law” in how it treats athletes.

    “Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,” Kavanaugh wrote. “And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.”…

  8. says

    Re #8, quoted by Twitter (not sure how to cite):

    “The decision will mean that schools can compensate athletes not just with scholarships to pay for the cost of attendance (that’s already allowed), but can also pay for things like computers, musical instruments, graduate programs, and other education-related costs. Schools will also be allowed to pay for student-athletes study abroad programs, offer other scholarships, and fund internships after they’ve finished playing for the school.” — Buzzfeed News

    “The decision doesn’t mean that NCAA athletes will start drawing salaries for playing, nor will it affect the ongoing battle over whether players can profit off of their own names or likenesses. But it will mean that schools can do a lot more to attract and compensate students who play NCAA Division One basketball and football. Though the decision is narrow, it’s a significant step for advocates who have pushed to compensate NCAA student-athletes.” — Buzzfeed News

  9. says

    Judd Legum:

    Trump is supposedly banned from Facebook but through the “Team Trump” account is currently running ads for fundraising and promoting his upcoming rallies…

    I’ve asked Facebook whether these ads are permitted in light of Trump’s ban.

    It appears to me that they are using the TeamTrump account to evade the ban.

    I’ll let you know when/if I hear back.

    Screenshots atl.

  10. says

    Guardian – “West tightens Belarus sanctions to make Lukashenko regime ‘run dry’”:

    Western countries have extended sanctions against Belarus, with a pledge to make Alexander Lukashenko’s regime “run dry”, following last month’s forced landing of a Ryanair flight to arrest a dissident.

    In a coordinated move against Lukashenko, the UK, US, EU and Canada announced travel bans and asset freezes on senior Belarusian officials and entities that bankroll the regime as a punishment for the arrest of the activist and journalist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, who were detained after being hauled off a flight from Athens to Vilnius.

    EU foreign ministers agreed to add 86 people and entities to the bloc’s sanctions list while the UK announced it was imposing sanctions on seven individuals and one entity linked to the illegal forced landing of the Ryanair flight, as well as four people and one entity implicated in human rights abuses.

    The US Treasury Department said it was freezing any US assets and barring any transactions with 16 individuals and five entities including Lukashenko’s press secretary, Natallia Mikalaeuna Eismant.

    Going one step further, EU ministers also endorsed a plan for sanctions targeting the Belarusian economy, in an attempt to intensify pressure on Lukashenko’s regime.

    “We will no longer only sanction individuals but also areas of the economy which are important to the regime. We want to make Lukashenko’s regime run dry financially,” said Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, in a statement on the German foreign ministry’s Twitter account.

    “Sanctions are a way of putting pressure on the government of Belarus and these are going to hurt. These are going to hurt the economy of Belarus heavily,” the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, told reporters.

    Borrell said economic sanctions “will be approved after consideration of the European Council” of EU leaders, who meet for a two-day summit on Thursday.

    Officials are working on sanctions to hit Belarus’s export industries, including oil, tobacco and potash, a salt used in fertiliser, which is a big source of foreign currency for Belarus. In a bid to further choke off funding to Lukashenko’s regime, EU banks will also be banned from offering loans or investment services.

    The EU and UK have banned their airlines flying over Belarus, since the arrest of Pratasevich. The Belarusian opposition is worried for the dissident’s safety after a series of appearances on state TV and at press conferences, where he has praised Lukashenko.

    Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the opposition leader, has said it was evident Pratasevich was speaking under pressure. She said: “He’s been taken hostage in an act of state terrorism.”

    Meeting EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday morning, Tsikhanouskaya brought a bullet she said had been extracted from the lung of a young activist hurt during the crackdown on peaceful protesters last August. “I wanted to show ministers what risks activists [and] journalists face on a daily basis in Belarus,” she wrote on Twitter.

  11. says

    Good news: Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) late last week signed a measure to expand curbside voting and establishing permanent vote by mail.


    […] The bill also directs authorities to establish central polling places where “all voters in its jurisdiction are allowed to vote on election day … regardless of the precinct in which they are registered,” according to its text.

    he measure also allows sheriffs to establish temporary polling locations at county jails. These sites would be available to people who live in the county and are in custody, but have not been convicted of the offense for which they are detained.

    Pritzker’s office said that the practice is already in place in Cook County.

    The legislation also establishes June 28, 2022, as the new date of the state’s primary election.

    […] Pritzker said on Twitter “with attacks on voting rights on the rise in states across the nation, Illinois is proud to stand up for a strong, secure and accessible democracy.”

    “The legislation I’m signing today further expands access to the ballot box — ensuring all Illinoisans’ voices are heard.” […]

  12. says

    Sinema’s case against the filibuster isn’t getting any better

    To hear Kyrsten Sinema tell it, leaving filibuster rules alone is what’s “best for our democracy.” That’s a difficult pitch to take seriously.

    It is no secret that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is one of the shrinking number of Senate Democrats fiercely opposed to reforming the institution’s filibuster rules. It’s also no secret that the Arizonan is under considerable pressure to reconsider, especially with filibuster abuses standing in the way of voting-rights legislation.

    […] Sinema continues to make the case that she’s right and those pressuring her from the left are wrong. The trouble is, her case just isn’t very good.

    [Sinema said] members should simply “change their behavior.” And if Republicans’ “behavior” doesn’t change? Well, then the legislative process will remain sclerotic, Americans seeking policy solutions will go without, and abuses in the Senate will continue indefinitely.

    […] When this taking point didn’t prove persuasive, Sinema also said that the filibuster “was created as a tool to bring together members of different parties to find compromise.” Senators are certainly entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to just make up historical details that don’t exist — and the Arizonan’s argument about how the filibuster was created was just spectacularly and demonstrably untrue.

    Now, the Senate Democrat is trying a slightly different tack:

    Sinema’s office told NBC News her support for the filibuster is “not based on the importance of any particular policy,” but rather “based on what is best for our democracy, including the fact that the filibuster helps protect the country from wild swings back and forth between opposing policy poles.”

    Let’s take those one at a time.

    First, there’s no reason to assume a majority-rule Senate will necessarily produce wild policy swings. Not only is this at odds with what history shows us — remember, filibuster abuses are a fairly modern phenomenon […]

    Besides, the power should remain in voters’ hands. If they elect policymakers who go too far with “wild” policy swings, voters in the next election cycle can elect new officials to do the opposite.

    Second, there’s Sinema’s suggestion that mandatory super-majorities for nearly all legislation is what’s “best for our democracy.”

    Perhaps “democracy” wasn’t the best choice of words in this pitch.

    Americans can elect one party to lead the White House, the Senate, and the House, with polls showing robust public support for that party’s legislative agenda. But thanks to filibuster abuses, that party won’t be able to pursue its own governing vision unless some members of the Senate minority agree to let them.

    Jon Chait added this morning that in the current Senate, “New laws require 60 votes, but existing programs can be defunded with 51. Judges, who can be appointed with a mere 51 votes, can strike down laws that required 60 to pass.”

    […] Suggesting that democracy, of all things, benefits from ongoing procedural abuses that makes legislating so difficult is a mistake.

  13. says

    Dems eye new plan to circumvent Republicans on Medicaid expansion

    What if progressive cities and counties in red states wanted to do Medicaid expansion on their own? A new bill would let them do exactly that.

    For most of the country, it was obvious years ago that Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act is a good deal, but as regular readers know, there are still 12 holdouts. As a consequence, there are millions of low-income Americans who don’t have health security, simply because Republicans in their respective states refuse to do the right thing.

    In the Democrats’ COVID relief package, called the American Relief Plan, President Joe Biden thought he’d come up with an offer that states couldn’t refuse. As we discussed in March, the policy may sound a little complicated, but the offer was straightforward: under the ACA, the federal government already covers 90% of the costs of expanding Medicaid. As Vox explained, the Democrats’ relief package ups the ante: “[N]ewly expanding states would also receive a 5 percent bump in the federal funding match for their traditional Medicaid programs for two years. Because the traditional Medicaid population is significantly larger than the expansion population, the funding bump is projected to cover a state’s 10 percent match for expansion enrollees and then some over those two years.”

    […] Three months later, how many states did the obvious thing? None. Literally, not one of the 12 holdouts has budged.

    […] If Republicans in these dozen states won’t accept the arithmetic, and aren’t even prepared to accept new federal resources, maybe there’s a way to go around them? The Washington Post highlighted a new proposal from Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.), who’s introduced a bill to empower cities and counties to bypass their state governments.

    The bill would create, for the first time, a local pathway for expanding the health insurance program for the low-income…. Cities, counties or even hospital districts could get special permission from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand Medicaid within their own jurisdiction. The permission, granted through what are known as “demonstration projects,” would last for five years, with an option to extend for an additional five years. It would provide the same federal assistance provided to states; localities would have all of their expansion costs covered for the first three years, with the federal subsidies phased down to 90 percent of costs by the seventh year.

    The bill is called the “Cover Outstanding Vulnerable Expansion-eligible Residents” (COVER) Now Act,” and it was introduced late last week. As of this morning, Doggett’s proposal has picked up 42 co-sponsors — including House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

    San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told Texas Public Radio last week, “The physical, mental and fiscal wellbeing of our community is inextricably linked to everyone’s ability to get covered. Medicaid expansion is an issue that’s supported across the political spectrum, and I’m eager to see the results of the congressman’s bill.” […]

  14. says

    Biden taps another official who’d been targeted by Team Trump

    There’s a select group of officials who were targeted by Team Trump, but whose careers are back on track in the Biden era. That group is growing.

    Among Donald Trump’s many jarring scandals last year was the aggressive campaign against inspectors general throughout the executive branch. Last spring, a total of five independent watchdogs were targeted by the then-president — usually in late-Friday-night purges — as part of an ugly pattern.

    […] A year later, one member of the quintet is making a comeback thanks to the former president’s successor.

    President Biden nominated Health and Human Services (HHS) official Christi Grimm on Friday to become the department’s permanent inspector general. Grimm, who has been serving as acting HHS inspector general since early 2020, was tapped to fill the role on a permanent basis after being targeted by former President Trump last year.

    […] In early April 2020, as the scope of the pandemic was intensifying, the inspector general’s office for the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rather brutal report, pointing to U.S. hospitals facing dire shortages of vital medical supplies. The document was based on extensive interviews with medical facilities nationwide.

    The appropriate White House response would’ve been to read the report, digest its findings, and take steps to put things right. In fact, that would be in keeping with the reason the government came up with inspectors general in the first place: they do independent reviews, identify problems, and offer policymakers an opportunity to address them.

    For his part, Trump leaped into action — by targeting the official who identified the problem. Late on a Friday night in early May 2020, the then-president moved to replace Grimm, condemning her as an Obama partisan, despite the fact that she’d worked in the IG’s office for decades — including eight years in the Bush/Cheney administration.

    Trump also dismissed the HHS report on hospital supply shortages as “Another Fake Dossier!” which makes as little sense now as it did at the time.

    A year later, the Biden White House is putting things right, nominating Grimm for the position […]

    What’s more, she’s not the only one. In March, a year after Team Trump punished Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman because the then-president was mad at his brother, the Biden White House approved him for an overdue promotion.

    Trump also targeted Janet Yellen and ousted her from the Federal Reserve, before Biden tapped her to serve as secretary of the Treasury. Last year, Dr. Rick Bright was allegedly ousted as head of a biodefense agency and sidelined at the National Institutes of Health after becoming a government whistleblower, only to become a Biden adviser months later during the presidential transition process.

    And then, of course, there’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom Trump sidelined […], before Biden promoted him to serve as, among other things, the chief medical advisor to the president.

  15. says

    Why the new ‘controversy’ over Ukraine aid isn’t controversial at all

    Rubio suggested Biden did the same thing Trump was impeached over in 2019. The argument is plainly ridiculous.

    At first blush, this Politico report from late last week has a familiar feel to it.

    The Biden White House has temporarily halted a military aid package to Ukraine that would include lethal weapons, a plan originally made in response to aggressive Russian troop movements along Ukraine’s border this spring. The aid package would be worth up to $100 million, according to four people familiar with internal deliberations.

    As the reporting explained, the aid package was crafted in response to a Russian military buildup, but ahead of last week’s summit between President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin, Moscow announced plans to draw down troop level near the Ukrainian border.

    Should the circumstances warrant it, the military aid could still be dispatched to our allies in Kiev. What’s more, this is just part of a larger picture: as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained in a written statement, “The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense. Just last week — in the run-up to the U.S.-Russia Summit — we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance.”

    This hardly seems like the stuff of a political controversy, though Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) turned to social media to push a curious line: “Remember when freezing military aid to Ukraine was an impeachable offense?”

    […] Donald Trump also froze military aid to Ukraine, not in response to Russian troop deployments, but as part of a corrupt extortion scheme: the Republican hatched a plan to leverage U.S. assistance in the hopes that Ukrainian officials would help Trump cheat in the 2020 presidential election.

    […] Whether Rubio intended to do this or not, he highlighted a critical difference between the two presidents: the Biden and Trump administrations superficially took similar steps, but only one of them engaged in brazen corruption.

    It was, incidentally, corruption Rubio was quick to shrug off: the Florida senator, like nearly every other congressional Republican, voted against holding Trump accountable for his venality.

    […] Maybe he’s genuinely confused and published this tweet because he doesn’t understand the relevant details.

    Or perhaps Rubio knows how foolish the comparison is, but hopes some of the Republican base will be fooled into thinking there’s a controversy where none exists.

  16. says

    Dem Calls For GOPers Ouster After Latest Jan 6 Conspiracy Theory

    Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) yesterday called for the removal of three of his colleagues — Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — from Congress over their promotion of the far-right’s latest wild conspiracy theory surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    Moulton told CNN Sunday the trio were “traitors” who are attempting to “whitewash history” by hyping the theory, which makes the case that the FBI was actually the entity responsible for the Jan. 6 attack.

    “They are domestic terrorists, the people who attacked us in the Capitol, who attacked the seat of government all with the intention of undermining the election, undermining the will of the American people,” he said. “And frankly, if you’re aiding and abetting terrorists by your actions in the Capitol, whether it was back on Jan. 6 or with your votes today, you don’t deserve to be a member of Congress.”

    […] The conspiracy theory was first elevated last week, when Revolver News — a right-wing website that regularly publishes anti-Biden pieces and fearmongering about the COVID-19 vaccine — first published a piece on it. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson then seized on the Revolver piece.

    […] As CNN’s Marshall Cohen recently observed, the conspiracy theory relies on a “deeply flawed misunderstanding of how legal writing works and the definition of an unindicted co-conspirator.”

    And yet, the right-wing media is a machine that thrives on speculation and has little use for facts. Carlson gave the conspiracy theory the Fox News prime time treatment, […]n (Gaetz, Greene and Gosar) scooped it up as fact, the usual hysteria ensued. […]

    By Tuesday, Gosar used a House Oversight Committee hearing to enter the Revolver News conspiracy theory into the congressional record.

    […] And while Moulton was one of the first Democrats to acknowledge the absurdity of the latest attempt to place insurrection blame on any entity besides Trump supporters, his call for an ouster will likely go nowhere, as have attempts so far to hold the three accountable for the key role they played in fueling the lie that led to the attack.

  17. says


    Trump Suggested Sending American COVID Victims To Guantanamo Early In Pandemic

    […] Trump offered a horrifying solution to the burgeoning COVID-19 infections among American tourists returning to the country in February last year, according to the Washington Post.

    “Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantanamo?” Trump reportedly asked during a meeting in the Situation Room.

    […] Trump reportedly made the suggestion a second time before his staffers shut down the idea due to concerns over political backlash.

    The exchange is detailed in an upcoming book by Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta titled “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History.”

    The book also lays out the ex-president’s fits of rage over the idea of a federal COVID-19 testing program, which he reportedly feared would damage him politically as he sought to falsely downplay the severity of the virus.

    “Testing is killing me! I’m going to lose the election because of testing!” Trump shouted at then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a call on March 18, according to Abutaleb and Paletta. “What idiot had the federal government do testing?”

    Azar then reportedly reminded Trump that Jared Kushner, his own son-in-law who had taken over the White House’s testing efforts, was that idiot.

    Trump also reportedly ranted during the call that it was “gross incompetence” to let the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop a COVID-19 test.

    The former president hadn’t kept his grievances with testing quiet; he often publicly blamed testing for the exploding cases across the country rather than acknowledging his and his administration’s negligent response to the pandemic that caused the spike in the first place.

  18. says

    Follow-up to comment 23.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Trump should have gone to GITMO for treatment when he contracted covid-19 in October 2020.
    It’s almost as if Trump was brain-damaged, and had the basic reasoning skills of a mean-spirited three year old.
    “staff shut down the idea due to concerns over political backlash.”

    Not because it was was cruel or unscientific or lacking in any decency or common sense.
    It makes sense, in Gitmo they had all the experience needed, they could just waterboard the patients with disinfectant and send UV up their tailpipes, and the guys would be cured in minutes
    And he knew that tests reveal things, like that you’re stupid. Hence the erasing of all his school records
    Another excerpt from WaPo:

    Trump’s top deputies adopted a similar strategy of issuing threats or isolating their rivals, undermining efforts to manage the outbreak, Abutaleb and Paletta write.

    Kadlec, who had overseen the purchase of 600 million masks, took the plan in late March to Kushner — who exploded in anger, throwing his pen against the wall in frustration when he learned the masks would not arrive until June.

    “You f—ing moron,” Kushner reportedly said. “We’ll all be dead by June.”

    Thanks, Jared. For nothing.

    The Trump-Kushner political strategy was apparently based on a three-pronged assessment of the pandemic — the last of which Kushner claimed had already begun by April 18. “That doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot of pain and there won’t be pain for a while,” he told Woodward, suggesting that it was time for the country to move onto the “comeback phase” out of concern for the economy, prioritizing Trump’s reelection prospects over the advice of public-health experts. “We’ve now put out rules to get back to work. Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors.” Kushner continued to describe the move in adversarial terms. “We have, like, a negotiated settlement.”

  19. says

    “The Balkan Roots of the Far Right’s ‘Great Replacement’ Theory”:

    …The essence of Mladic’s project is known to the contemporary, Western far right as the “Great Replacement” theory: the idea that Muslims are waging demographic warfare against white, Christian Europeans, seeking to outbreed and replace them and their civilization. And defending “Western civilization,” as such, requires a confrontation with the “invaders.” Or as the Canadian reactionary Mark Steyn put it in a 2006 New York Times bestseller:

    “In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography – except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out, as other Continentals will in the years ahead: If you cannot outbreed the enemy, cull ‘em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.”

    Though Mladic and his associates did not use the term Great Replacement (it was only coined by the French neo-fascist writer Renaud Camus in 2010), their paranoid, genocidal campaign against the Bosniak community in Bosnia (and later ethnic Albanians in Kosovo) and the accompanying narratives justifying these pogroms electrified far-right extremists in the West. In a sense, Mladic and his cohort were the true authors of the Great Replacement doctrine – and all its accompanying bloodletting.

    Today, the Bosnian Genocide is a rhetorical and conceptual pillar of the Western far right, an example of the kinds of regimes and policies they embrace and aspire to replicate. In untangling the origins of this coupling, a still more disturbing reality emerges: Bosnia’s recent past – the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the ensuing war, and the accompanying genocide – is what many contemporaries on the Western radical right imagine, and aspire to reenact, in their own societies.

    …Though both Karadzic and Milosevic routinely denied the systematic nature of their genocide, they never denied its necessity. Here they remained categorical: The Bosniaks, like the Kosovar Albanians, were an abscess that had to be removed from the body of Christian Europe. It was ugly going, to be sure, but they were the knights on the ramparts “guarding” the whole of the continent. In the fevered swamps of the Serbian tabloids, the language was even more explicit: Serbia was Byzantium restored, the cradle of Christian civilization, taking its glorious vengeance on the Turks, the Moors, and the whole of the Muslim world.

    By the 2010s, Bosnian Genocide denial and the valorization of Serb nationalist war criminals became a staple of Western far-right discourses – a pillar of their ideological and political lexicon like the Confederacy, the Third Reich, or the African apartheid regimes. It soon started featuring in the manifestos of far-right terrorists.

    Anders Breivik, the terrorist who executed the attacks in Norway in 2011, made nearly 1,000 mentions of the Yugoslav Wars in his meandering manifesto. Eric Frein, who orchestrated the 2014 attack on the Pennsylvania State Police barracks, frequently cosplayed in Serb nationalist uniforms. And Brenton Tarrant, sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2019 Christchurch mosque killings, covered his rifles and munitions in the names of Serb and Montenegrin historical figures and livestreamed himself playing a Serb nationalist ballad glorifying Karadzic’s genocide from the Bosnian War. And while the 2019 El Paso terrorist did not cite Serb nationalist motifs, his manifesto credits Tarrant and the Great Replacement as his primary inspirations, directing his ire at Latinos and Hispanics rather than Muslims.

    In the sewers of the online far right, Serb nationalist themes are even more prominent. The song Tarrant played on his way to massacre the congregants in Christchurch is a well-known meme among extremists and gamers. The original is titled “Karadžiću, vodi Srbe svoje” (“Karadzic, lead your Serbs”) but it is known online primarily as the “Remove Kebab Song” or “Serbia Strong.” Among the far right, “kebab” is used as a derogatory term for Muslims, and Tarrant referred to himself as a “kebab removalist” in his manifesto. A cursory search for the song on platforms like YouTube reveals millions of views and hundreds of thousands of comments, most of them in English. Those willing to dive deeper into the underground forums and message boards of the far right will easily discover their intimate familiarity with the Bosnian Genocide and the deeds of Serb nationalist genocidaires.

    As the Western far right gains political currency in Europe and the U.S., it is likely that their interest in the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo will become more pronounced. The turn toward paranoid identity politics and demographic fetishism among ostensibly center-right parties on both sides of the Atlantic readily comports to the ideological discourses developed by Serb nationalists during the 1980s and 1990s. Their current encounters with similar “traditionalist” and “patriotic” discourses emanating from Russia – and the Kremlin’s court intellectuals like Aleksandr Dugin or the late faux-dissident Eduard Limonov (a close associate of Karadzic) – will also serve to further disseminate Serb nationalist ideas, as Moscow is the primary international patron of the revisionist regimes in Belgrade and Bosnia’s Republika Srpska.

    Following the sacking of the U.S. Capitol by an extremist mob on Jan. 6, 2021, the ascendancy of far-right movements in the established democracies has finally landed as, arguably, the central national security issue facing the West. Confronting the QAnon cult has required that researchers and law enforcement decode an obscurantist ideological and political lexicon; the same will be required in recognizing the extent to which Serb nationalist ideas have penetrated many of these same extremist circles.

    …The ideas and discourses of the architects of the Bosnian Genocide have already taken root in the West, contributing to many deaths. Failure to recognize this runs the risk of letting Bosnia’s recent past shape our collective future.

    I’m amused by this line: “the [14th-century] knight Milos Obilic, who in the oral tradition is said to have killed Murad I on the battlefield but may in reality be a mythic figure invented after the fact.”

  20. says

    House to take big step on eliminating Trump-era rules

    The House is gearing up for votes this week to undo three Trump-era rules, using a special legislative tool to repeal some of the previous administration’s agency actions.

    Democrats will draw on the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to take aim at rules governing methane regulations, lending practices and employment discrimination cases.

    The three resolutions, which made it through the Senate on simple majority votes that included Republicans crossing the aisle on two of the measures, all have a good chance of clearing the House.

    Sending the measures to President Biden’s desk would deal a blow to former President Trump’s legacy and mark the first time Congress has repealed his administration’s policies through the CRA, which allows lawmakers and a new president to get rid of rules established under a previous president if they were completed shortly before the change in administration.

    “You have lots of different tools that you can use to shift regulatory policy. This tool comes with some interesting sort of expedited procedures,” said Daniel Pérez, a senior policy analyst at George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.

    The CRA is an all-or-nothing tool, he said, that lets you get rid of existing rules, but not revise them.

    […] The CRA was successfully used just once before 2017, but at the start of Trump’s presidency Republicans were able to eliminate more than a dozen Obama-era regulations since they controlled both the House and Senate.

    And while some on the left may view this week’s vote as a kind of payback, there are other progressives who argue that Democrats should be pushing to eliminate the CRA, not give it legitimacy by using it against Trump. […]

  21. says

    Researchers use high-tech graphene to detect COVID

    By combining sheets of graphene with antibodies, they were able to detect changes in atomic vibrations when exposed to COVID positive samples.

    […] Graphene is a material made up of carbon atoms, usually a single layer of atoms in sheet or other formation. Researchers are interested in studying its characteristics and exploring its uses such as using it as a conductor in electrical systems. One group of researchers are investigating if it can be used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in laboratory experiments.

    In the experiments, the team put together sheets of graphene with an antibody that targets the spike protein on the novel coronavirus that causes COVID. “Graphene is just one atom thick, so a molecule on its surface is relatively enormous and can produce a specific change in its electronic energy,” says Vikas Berry, professor and head of chemical engineering at the UIC College of Engineering and senior author of the paper, in a press release. They then measure the atomic level vibrations when the sheets are exposed to COVID positive and COVID negative samples.

    “In this experiment, we modified graphene with an antibody and, in essence, calibrated it to react only with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” says Berry. “Using this method, graphene could similarly be used to detect COVID-19 variants.”

    The experiments were a success and were published in ACS Nano. The researchers were able to detect a difference in the atomic vibrations between COVID positive and negative samples. The vibrations changed within five minutes when they were exposed to a COVID positive sample.

    […] “The modified sensor is highly sensitive and selective for COVID, and it is fast and inexpensive.”

  22. says

    Related to Lynna’s #22 – Daily Beast – “How Putin Made a Fool of Tucker Carlson”:

    President Vladimir Putin has pulled off a targeted propaganda operation against the U.S. that’s so simple it never should have worked—and he did it in plain sight as part of the build-up to last week’s summit with President Joe Biden.

    This weekend, Russia’s favorite propaganda shows celebrated a job well done….

    On June 16, with the world’s attention fixed to the Geneva summit, the Russian president reiterated the same flawed premise during his press conference: “About my opponents being jailed or imprisoned. People went into the U.S. Congress with political demands. Four hundred people now facing criminal charges… On what grounds? Not quite clear… One of the participants, a woman, was shot dead on the spot. She was not threatening anything.”

    Putin’s plot paid off in spades when Tucker Carlson played the clip of his comments to NBC on his show and expressed agreement. Carlson said, “Now, under normal circumstances, we would never play tape of a foreign adversary criticizing our government. But honestly, those are fair questions.”

    Without a hint of irony, Carlson added, “Vladimir Putin knows authoritarian systems very well, and he sees clearly what is happening in this country.” The Fox News host seemed to assume that an authoritarian adversary was providing this advice without an ulterior motive—and eagerly shared it with his American audience.

    His decision was cheered by pro-Kremlin propagandists in Moscow.

    During his nightly show, The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, host Vladimir Soloviev proudly surmised, “Putin knew whom he was talking to and his message was heard. This is Fox News and its very popular program—one of its highest-rated programs. Republicans listened and couldn’t help but agree… Putin was heard and what he said hit the bullseye.”

    Russian political scientist Sergey Mikheyev enthusiastically replied, “This is a good illustration of the thesis as to whether we should be influencing public opinion in America. Yes, of course we should—of course! The question is how to do it and which resources to use. Without a doubt, we should be using any existing divisions. Sometimes I hear, ‘What’s in it for us?’ and I will cynically tell you: whatever harms them benefits us. That is terrible but true.”

    Carlson’s commentary also flagged another line being pursued by Russian state propagandists. The Fox News host asked, “Who did shoot Ashli Babbitt and why don’t we know?” Rossiya-1 probed that question, quoting Republican Congressman Devin Nunes in a state TV news show on June 11….

  23. says

    Wonkette: “Lindsey Graham Has Very Reasonable Bipartisan Plan To Prevent Democrats From Accomplishing Things”

    It seems West Virginia’s […] Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is having a hard time cashing the bipartisan checks he’s been sacrificing progress for.

    Enter political remora, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to tell host Chris Wallace he is the bipartisan savior Democrats are looking for. [video is available at the link]

    WALLACE: You’re a member of the so-called bipartisan Group of 21, which is 10 Democratic senators and 11 Republican senators, who’ve come up with a roughly $1 trillion package on infrastructure. […] How close are you to a deal with the White House? And what’s the effective deadline for reaching an agreement?

    GRAHAM: I think the difference between this negotiation and the earlier negotiation is that we’re willing to add more new money to infrastructure in this package and I am hopeful if the White House and Joe Biden stay involved, we can get there. I would just say this: President Biden, if you want an infrastructure deal of a trillion dollars, it’s there for the taking. You just need to get involved and lead.

    Really? Seems to good to be true because, like every Faustian bargain with the GOP, it is.

    Wallace noted that the only way some progressive Democrats will go with this so-called bipartisan plan would be if they can continue working on a separate, bigger infrastructure bill they could pass through reconciliation. Then Wallace asked Graham if he’d still support the infrastructure compromise while understanding Democrats may yet pass another bill.

    Graham’s answer revealed his true intentions:

    GRAHAM: That could be very problematic. […] I don’t want to raise taxes to pay for it. But the gas tax hasn’t been adjusted for inflation, the federal gas tax, since the 1990s. I would be willing to do that. An infrastructure bank is on the table, using unspent COVID money. So I would just say to President Biden, you’ve got a party that’s divided. You’ve got a Republican Party that’s willing to meet you in the middle […] You’ve got to decide what kind of president you are and what kind of presidency you want. So, if you want to work with Republicans to spend a trillion dollars of — on infrastructure, it’s available to you. If you don’t want to go that route and you pick a $6 trillion reconciliation package, I think you’ll get a lot of pushback from every Republican. […] That would be a problem for me. […] What they’re calling infrastructure, the liberal left, to me, is not remotely related to what’s traditionally been called infrastructure. It’s just — it’s just a power grab by the Democratic Party in every area of our lives.

    Graham is hoping President Biden takes this deal so the actual transformative bill can be killed at the altar of bipartisanship. Graham also doesn’t want to raise taxes on the rich or corporations, which is why he mentions taking money already appropriated for COVID and suggests adjusting the gas tax for inflation, which would be a tax hike for average Americans instead. […]

    Wallace moved on to an upcoming vote on a voting rights bill, including provisions Senator Manchin has said he supports. Wallace asked Graham if he could go with a stripped version of the For the People Act. Graham had complaints:

    GRAHAM: But we had the largest turnout in the history of the United States and states are in charge of voting in America.

    Yeah, we know, which is why Republicans are trying to rig it in the states so they can win permanently. Graham unironically said Democrats are “trying to fix a problem” he pretends doesn’t exist (voter suppression) as more GOP state legislatures pass restrictive voting bills.

    Wallace pointed out the obvious downside if Republicans vote down Manchin’s watered down voting bill.

    WALLACE: [I]f Republicans vote, as it appears you’re going to, to kill the Manchin version of voting rights, you’ve already, Republicans voted to kill the bipartisan January 6th commission looking into the insurrection of the Capitol, do you run the risk that Manchin and a couple of other moderate senators will eventually say, look, bipartisanship isn’t working and, you know what, we’re not going to kill the filibuster but we’re going to reduce the number of votes you need to stop a debate from 60 to 55? Do you run that risk?

    Graham responded:

    GRAHAM: I hope not […] When we had the House and the Senate and the White House, […], I had a bunch of Democrats wanting to sign a letter with me protecting the filibuster. Every one of those Democrats have fled for the hills. So I was beat on every day. Why don’t you give in and agree with President Trump to change the rules so we can get the Trump agenda through? I said, no, I don’t think it would be good for the country. […] I said no because it’s bad for the Senate. I hope these Democrats understand it’s bad for the Senate to change the rules.


    Graham was surprisingly compliant when McConnell changed the rules to help Trump cram through his Supreme Court justices, so spare us the revisionist history.

    Here’s hoping Manchin finally wakes up to political reality.


  24. says

    Trump and his CFO Allen Weisselberg stay close as prosecutors advance their case.

    Washington Post link

    If Donald Trump was looking for some good news on his 75th birthday last Monday, it arrived at 8:15 a.m. by way of a blue Mercedes slipping into Trump Tower’s private garage entrance on West 56th Street.

    Behind the wheel was Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s longtime confidant and Trump Organization chief financial officer, whom the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has pressed to turn on the former president as they investigate Trump’s business dealings.

    Every day that Weisselberg arrives for work at Trump Tower — as he did that day, steering in from his Upper West Side apartment across town — could be seen as a public signal that he is sticking with Trump and deflecting investigators’ advances.

    As the most senior non-Trump executive at the former president’s private, closely held company, Weisselberg is probably a key figure in prosecutors’ efforts to indict Trump, legal experts say. His central role in nearly every aspect of Trump’s business, revealed in depositions and news interviews over the past three decades, afforded him what former employees say is a singular view of the Trump Organization’s tax liabilities and finances.

    Although that role long allowed him to stay behind the scenes, it may place him front and center in what would be an unprecedented prosecution of a former president, should the investigation advance.

    […] officials involved in the Weisselberg investigation have grown frustrated about what they view as a lack of cooperation from Weisselberg and believe he continues to regularly speak with Trump […]

    […] Without Weisselberg’s cooperation, legal experts say, it’s unclear whether prosecutors would be able to establish any required intent on Trump’s part were they to allege that the Trump Organization or any of its officers committed crimes. (The district attorney has the option to indict companies rather than individuals.)

    Those experts say Weisselberg’s legal exposure could be significant — including the possibility of prison time — if the district attorney is able to prove allegations that have been reported, such as misrepresenting the company’s assets or income with banks, insurers or tax authorities.

    “I think he’s playing Russian roulette with the district attorney’s office if he thinks that even if he is indicted he is going to get a pass,” said Robert C. Gottlieb, a New York defense lawyer and former prosecutor for the district attorney. “We’re not talking about fraud involving a few thousand dollars, we’re talking about allegations of a massive fraud involving millions of dollars over an extended period of time in which he was CFO.”

    […] In Florida this year, the Trump Organization filed annual reports for 40 subsidiaries operating in the state. Weisselberg was listed as an officer of all 40, usually along with one or both of Trump’s adult sons. Trump was largely absent, having not retaken the leadership roles he held before he became president. He was listed as an officer of just one company: He is the president of the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, a designation that allowed him to reside at the for-profit club after neighbors raised objections.

    […] In one deposition, [Weisselberg] recalled from memory detailed financial figures from across the company: 300 memberships for sale at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, N.J.; 55 home lots the company intended to sell at Trump’s course in Los Angeles; and the $10.4 million cost of the clubhouse at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach.

    But in other instances, Weisselberg — when asked about apparent discrepancies in Trump’s claims or an incident of alleged misconduct — has cited a lack of knowledge or a lapse in memory.

    “I wish I could answer,” he told investigators for the New York attorney general’s office in 2017, as he was pressed about an improper $25,000 political gift made by the foundation. Investigators wanted to know how the gift had been hidden in the charity’s tax returns, replaced with a nonexistent gift to another group. Weisselberg said it must have been a series of mistakes he called “the perfect storm.” But he could not say who exactly made them. […]

  25. raven says

    Covid Rebounds in U.S. South, With Many Shunning Vaccines
    By Jonathan Levin June 21, 2021, 12:38 Bloomberg . com

    Covid Rebounds in U.S. South, With Many Shunning Vaccines

    Covid-19 transmission is accelerating in several poorly vaccinated states, primarily in the South plus Missouri and Utah, and more young people are turning up at hospitals. The data present the clearest sign of a rebound in the U.S. in months.

    In Missouri, Arkansas and Utah, the seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed Covid-19 has increased more than 30% in the past two weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In Mississippi, the hospitalization rate is up 5% in the period.

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
    There are many Covid-19 virus mini-pandemics in the Red states that have many antivaxxers.
    Ironically, the antivaxxers will get vaccinated, whether they want to or not.
    The hard way, by getting infected by the virus and risking death or permanent disability.

  26. KG says


    It’s interesting that the shift to the far right of the UK’s self-styled “Revolutionary Communist Party” began with support for Serbian nationalism in the mid-1990s, and denial of the genocide in Srebrenica, which led to a libel trial that closed their glossy magazine, “Living Marxism”. Many of the RCP’s leading members moved to the “libertarian” right, and now increasingly toward racism and authoritarianism, enthusiastically supporting Farage, Orbán, and the Johnson junta’s culture war. The exposure of their lies in the libel trial did them no long-term harm at all – they are regularly booked by the BBC for discussion programmes, for example.

  27. says

    raven @ #31, I keep hearing about how popular Ron DeSantis is and how Florida is doing fine, but I’ve been checking the CDC numbers every day for months and Florida is consistently lagging. This month, DeSantis stopped the state’s daily reporting of COVID numbers (now only reported weekly), the reporting of COVID hospitalizations, and the reporting of county-by-county figures. He justified the move by claiming that the numbers had dropped so much that it was no longer necessary. But the state’s 7-day case rate is double the national average (45 per 100K vs. 22 per 100K; for comparison, MA’s is 8 and CT’s is 7); their 7-day death rate per 100K is also double the national average (1.2 vs. .6; for comparison, RI’s is .3, and VT hasn’t had any deaths in the past week). (The New England states are the six most vaccinated states right now.)

    FL’s vaccinations, testing, and test positivity have been fair to middling for weeks. I saw a report that the Delta variant has been found in South Florida (since they’re not doing a lot of testing and likely little sequencing, it’s probably more prevalent than they know), and they’re in a hot and rainy stretch so people will likely be indoors more. Missouri, where the Delta variant has taken hold, now has a weekly case rate of 75/100K. Florida is around 44% fully vaccinated vs. Missouri’s 38%, which doesn’t strike me as a decisive difference. I hope the Delta variant isn’t able to gain a foothold there, but even without it Florida’s numbers are no cause for relaxation.

    AP – “Florida county closes government building after COVID deaths”:

    A Florida county shuttered its main administration building after several employees contracted COVID-19 and two people died, officials said.

    Employees of the Manatee County Administration Building were ordered to leave Friday afternoon while the facility was disinfected and fogged. Epidemiologists were onsite initiating contact tracing, according to a press release from county officials.

    Manatee County officials did not say how many people contracted COVID, but County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said “individual employees in the IT department who were known to be fully vaccinated and who were in close proximity of those who were infected did not contract COVID-19,” according to a statement.

    Hundreds of employees are believed to work in the building, which includes the state attorney’s office and an office for Republican Rep. Will Robinson of Bradenton. The building is set to re-open Monday. Face masks will still be optional for employees and visitors, although unvaccinated residents were encouraged to wear masks.

    The board of county commissioners voted last month to repeal COVID safety measures and instead encouraged visitors to use their best judgment to prevent the spread of the virus. The decision was in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide orders. In May, the Republican governor suspended all remaining local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses, saying it would accelerate Florida’s economy.

    Hopes encouraged residents to get vaccinated on Twitter Friday….

  28. says

    The Hill, yesterday – “Our climate is beyond hot”:

    June 21 is the first full day of astronomical summer — and meteorologists all over the world have declared it #ShowYourStripesDay. On this day, expect to see your TV meteorologist sporting blue, white and red striped ties or pins or even custom dresses.

    The stripes are a clever visualization of the changing temperature of the planet created by Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading. The blue color on one side shows that conditions in the early part of the 20th century were colder than the long-term average. The white that pops up in the middle represents temperatures close to average, and the red at the tip of the tie or the edge of the pin means warm. When viewed in this way, the trend in global warming is striking — the red that starts to pop at the end (roughly 1980) as global warming really kicks in….

    Around the globe.

    Euro 2020 countries.

    Puerto Rico.

    World, Sweden, Arctic Ocean.

  29. says

    Update to #499 on the previous chapter, from the Guardian Euro 2020 liveblog:

    Uefa will not allow rainbow display at Germany v Hungary

    The planned ‘rainbow illumination’ of Munich’s stadium tomorrow, in response to homophobic legislation in Hungary, has been deemed too political by European football’s impeccably neutral overlords. This from PA Media:

    Uefa has declined a request to illuminate the Euro 2020 stadium in Munich in rainbow colours for the Germany v Hungary match because it believes the gesture has a political context.

    European football’s governing body said it received the request from the mayor of the German city, Dieter Reiter, on Monday.

    Uefa said that the mayor’s reason for the request was a response to legislation passed in Hungary banning gay people from appearing in school educational materials or programmes for under-18s.

    On that basis, Uefa said it could not grant the request and proposed alternative dates for the stadium to be lit up in rainbow colours.

    “Racism, homophobia, sexism, and all forms of discrimination are a stain on our societies – and represent one of the biggest problems faced by the game today,” a statement from Uefa read.

    “Discriminatory behaviour has marred both matches themselves and, outside the stadiums, the online discourse around the sport we love.

    “However Uefa, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organisation. Given the political context of this specific request – a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – Uefa must decline this request.”

    So opposing discrimination isn’t political but opposing specific acts of discrimination is.

  30. says

    Guardian – “Obama backs Manchin’s voting rights compromise before crucial Senate vote”:

    Barack Obama has backed conservative West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin’s voting rights proposal, calling it a “product of compromise” as the landmark legislation struggles towards a crucial vote in the US Senate on Tuesday.

    The former US president weighed in, as did his wife and former first lady, Michelle Obama, decrying Republican efforts in many statehouses across the country to bring in new laws that restrict voting, and urging Congress to pass federal legislation “before it’s too late”.

    Barack Obama said the future of the country was at stake.

    “I have tried to make it a policy not to weigh in on the day-to-day scrum in Washington, but what is happening this week is more than just a particular bill coming up or not coming up to a vote,” he said in an interview with Yahoo News.

    He added: “I do want folks who may not be paying close attention to what’s happening … to understand the stakes involved here, and why this debate is so vitally important to the future of our country,” Obama said.

    And the White House said on Monday it views the Senate’s work on an elections bill overhaul and changes being offered by Manchin as a “step forward”, even though the Democrats’ priority legislation is expected to be blocked by a Republican filibuster.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the revisions proposed by Manchin are a compromise, another step as Democrats work to shore up voting access and what Joe Biden sees as “a fight of his presidency”….

    More atl.

  31. says

    Mark Gevisser in the Guardian – “Hungary’s classrooms have become the new battleground for the war on ‘LGBT ideology’”:

    Last week, the Hungarian parliament banned any portrayal of homosexuality or transgenderism to minors, in educational material or on television. Appending this to a law protecting children from child abuse, the country’s president, Viktor Orbán, drew an explicit connection between homosexuality and paedophilia. In so doing, he resorted to a canard that much of the world has long dispensed with, but that is enjoying a troubling new emergence in the global battles against “gender ideology”: the danger posed by homosexuals and trans people to children.

    “The logic of the government is to find an enemy and pretend that they are saving the country from this enemy,” said the Hungarian LGBTQ+ leader Tamás Dombos in a presentation to the United States Congress last week. Dombos described the new law as “a conscious and diabolic political strategy” by the government to divert public attention from its messy response to the Covid crisis. The law is also a salvo in a tough upcoming election, and an effective way of staking what I term a “pink line”: a nativist boundary protecting, in this case, Hungarian “values” against the immoral imperialism of George Soros and Brussels.

    In this way, the Hungarian law echoes what Vladimir Putin did in 2012 when he used Russia’s “anti-gay propaganda” legislation to counter the growing urban opposition to his bid for a third presidential term. It also sets the scene for a Hungarian repeat of Andrzej Duda’s electoral campaign in Poland last year, which attacked “LGBT ideology”. Ironically, these “anti-west” politicians are using the playbook developed in the United States by Anita Bryant’s 1977 “Save Our Children” campaign in Florida, which sought to expunge all references to homosexuality from curriculums, and resulted in several laws across the country. Long before Russia and Hungary, Margaret Thatcher’s British government passed section 28, banning the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools. This was only repealed in 2003 in England and Wales; in the US “no promo homo” laws are still on the books in four southern states. Recently, two states – Arizona and Tennessee – have come close to restricting students’ access to information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Meanwhile, in Brazil, the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has committed himself to expunging the word “gender” and any talk of homosexuality or transgenderism from the curriculum. There are attempts to do so legally in more than 100 Brazilian jurisdictions, and even though the supreme court has ruled against 11 of these already, the process continues unabated.

    In Africa, several countries have retreated from a commitment to the UN-approved comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) because of spirited opposition from the religious right. In the runup to Ghana’s 2020 election campaign, a religious lobby constituted itself against what it termed “Comprehensive Satanic Education” – primarily because it allegedly promoted LGBTQ+ rights. The fear and hatred generated in this debate fuelled a clampdown in the country: its first LGBTQ community centre was shut down earlier this year; and 21 young people attending a paralegal training event were arrested for “advocating LGBTQ activities” last month.

    A similar anti-CSE campaign was successful in Zambia, and is gaining ground in populous Ethiopia, too. Like those in Latin American and eastern Europe, these campaigns used materials and tactics generated by “pro-family” movements in the US, primarily Family Watch International (FWI) and the World Congress of Families (WCF). FWI, which is based in Arizona, and led the anti-LGBTQ+ education campaign there, has provided the muscle to the Ghana and Ethiopia campaigns in particular.

    In the Catholic world, these campaigns intersect with conservative organisations such as Opus Dei, and more recently with Ordo Iuris, an influential organisation of Polish Catholic lawyers that has just opened a university in Warsaw as an explicit counterweight to George Soros’s Central European University. Eastern European conservatives claim to be mounting a counterattack against the leftist orthodoxy about gender and homosexuality, which they equate – as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán often does – to communist ideology….

  32. says

    Kelly Morales, Alex Jones’s ex-wife: “Here is my ex-husband, under investigation by the FBI speculating about getting framed for ‘killing (his) family’. This includes my kids. How on earth did Judge Livingston in Travis County, Texas not protect my vulnerable, minor kids who outcried about his threats??…”

    Video clip atl.

  33. says

    Marina Hyde in the Guardian – “Letting in the Uefa variant could be Boris Johnson’s next own goal”:

    How encouraging to see Uefa masterminding a return of jeopardy to the Euros. Not in the football, you understand – putting four third-place teams through simply further deflates the group stages of an already format-compromised 24-team tournament. But threatening last week to take the final away from Wembley and move it to Hungary unless 2,500 of their dignitaries can swerve quarantine – well, this is the stuff of which perilous thrills are made.

    Not that a Budapest final wouldn’t offer something fresh: large numbers of openly racist and homophobic fans who are finally under investigation by Uefa for their conduct thus far during the tournament. The governing body has sensationally abandoned its high-level probe into German captain Manuel Neuer’s decision to wear a rainbow armband, and seems to be belatedly taking a look at “potential discriminatory incidents” at Hungary games against both Portugal and France….

    Anyway, back to the horse-trading over arrangements for the semi-finals and final. What are we to make of this morning’s news that Uefa is suddenly more positive about not having to move the final from London to a place where its gravy train can travel freely? I am vaguely paraphrasing its statement – in the governing body’s own words, it is “working closely” with the government and the FA, and there are “no plans to change the venue”. The optimistic among us would hope Uefa might come to understand that trying to blag 2,500 members of the “football family” through under the elite sport exemption was a bit of a stretch – unless the sport in question was expensing five-course dinners and sex workers.

    But the realists among us – ie everyone with any experience of football governance and current UK governance – will be thinking that something rather less palatable is in the offing. Is hosting the final worth further compromising the idea that we’re all somehow in this together, or is the waiving of Covid rules for a bunch of largely parasitic liggers regarded as a price worth paying by Boris Johnson’s government?

    According to Boris Johnson, his government wishes to make “sensible accommodations” for Uefa. But where are the “sensible accommodations” for people forced to isolate on no pay for happening to sit at a separate table in an outdoor beer garden near someone who tested positive? Where are the “sensible accommodations” for double-vaccinated people who wish to travel to Malta, which is miles ahead of us on vaccinations and would surely be on the green list, were the green list not a stage-managed fiction?

    With Covid set to cause disruptions deep into winter, the government should be looking to keep people onside – and the appearance of fairness is key. Otherwise, increasing numbers of people will decide that the most sensible accommodation they can make with government advice is to ignore it. It’s only a game to them, after all.

  34. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Cuba claims its three-shot jab is 92% effective without citing data

    Cuba’s government has announced that its three-shot Abdala vaccine has proved to be 92% effective against the coronavirus.

    It provided no details of the clinical testing, according to AP. The Abdala is one of the vaccines Cuba is testing. It recently said its Soberana 2 vaccine has shown a 62% efficacy. It comes as Cuba faces its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic with record new infections.

    Dr Francisco Durán, the island’s director of epidemiology, yesterday reported 1,561 new coronavirus cases for a total of 169,365 cumulative confirmed cases and 1,170 deaths over the course of the pandemic on the island of 11 million people.

  35. says

    CNN – “Surviving combat only to die at home: Retired Staff Sgt. Wesley Black is picking out his coffin at 35 years old”:

    You can’t tell by looking at him, but retired Staff Sgt. Wesley Black is about to die. He’s just 35 years old.

    And today he’s having what he calls a good day.

    “I could be dead tomorrow. I could live another six months … It really all just depends on how my body responds to the oral chemotherapy, how much more I can squeeze out of the stone,” Black told CNN in an interview in his home on Thursday.

    Black has terminal colon cancer that has spread throughout his body. He survived two combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard and received numerous honors, including a Purple Heart.

    Although it’s difficult to definitively link individual cases of cancer and disorder to a specific cause, an oncologist outside the Veterans Affairs system who reviewed Black’s case determined it’s the smoldering trash from the massive burn pits on US military bases — sometimes acres in size — that will soon kill him.

    “Soldiers tend to generate a lot of trash,” Black told CNN. “Metals, plastics, electronics, medical waste, your uniform — anything and everything that could be burned was thrown in the trash dump and then coated in diesel fuel and lit on fire.”

    In Ramadi, Iraq, where Black served, he says the burn pit was several football fields in length. And at the remote combat outpost where he served in eastern Afghanistan, Black recalls how the burn pit was located just 150 feet from the front gate.

    “If you were the poor sucker standing gate guard when that burn pit was lit and the wind was blowing toward the main gate, you’d be standing in the smoke for upwards of eight to 12 hours a day.”

    Thousands of American service members have inhaled the carcinogenic haze of burn pit smoke just as he did.

    A recent survey by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 86% of veterans from the two conflicts reported being exposed to the toxic fumes of burn pits. And 88% of those exposed said they were experiencing symptoms that could be related.

    The VA acknowledges on their site that waste products disposed of in open burn pits include chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, along with things like munitions and petroleum products.

    As the post 9/11 wars come to an end in the coming months, burn pits and exposure to other toxins threaten to kill many more veterans than fighting in the wars did.

    And the White House is acutely aware of the problem.

    President Joe Biden, as a candidate, said he believes burn pits may have killed his beloved son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015.

    “He volunteered to join the National Guard at age 32 because he thought he had an obligation to go,” Biden told a Service Employees International Union convention in 2019. “And because of exposure to burn pits, in my view — I can’t prove it yet — he came back with stage four glioblastoma.”

    Biden repeated this message on several campaign stops, vowing to vigorously research the long-term effects of burn pit exposure while noting that he “can’t prove it yet.”

    But burn pits have been on the legislative radar of the past two presidents, including bills signed into law that expand the data on exposure.

    The VA says the Department of Defense has shut down most burn pits at this point and is planning to close the remainder.

    But the VA website in March 2020, under Trump, officially denied that burn pit exposure was harmful: “At this time, research does not show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits.”

    Today, the VA website acknowledges the issue is being studied and that those exposed “may be at greater risk for longer-term health conditions.”

    In an email to CNN on Sunday, Veterans Affairs press secretary Terrence Hayes wrote: “VA is fully committed and leaning forward in this effort and working alongside Congress … and all other available scientific sources to deliver on the President’s promise to provide the world-class health care and access to benefits Veterans need, and quite frankly deserve.”

    Hayes urged veterans exposed to sign up for the burn pit registry and those feeling ill due to a possible toxic exposure to submit a claim.

    “The more veterans who do so only helps us gather the information and research needed to provide the care they require.”

    Black is demanding more.

    “They’re not doing enough. That’s the long and short of it. There needs to be a set process to identify these issues and to follow up on these issues,” Black told CNN. “If [the cancer] had been caught earlier, my survivability rate would’ve been higher.”

    Unable to save himself, Black is sounding the alarm for other veterans while pushing for additional screening of burn pit exposure and more proactive monitoring and treatment from VA providers….

  36. says

    Update to #42 – Guardian – “More than 60,000 fans to be allowed at Wembley for Euro 2020 semis and final”:

    More than 60,000 fans will be allowed into Wembley for the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 after a deal was struck between the UK government and Uefa.

    The biggest crowds at a British sporting event for 15 months are now in prospect, although details of who will be able to attend the matches, and how, remain unresolved.

    Wembley is to be allowed to open up to 75% of its 90,000 capacity for the three games, due to be played on 7, 8 and 11 July, respectively. It means there will be at least 35,000 extra tickets made available for the climax of the tournament. The government says they expect that priority of access will be given to UK residents who lost their tickets when capacity was first cut due to the pandemic.
    David Squires on … Euro 2020 plans going awry
    Read more

    Wembley was only granted an initial extension in capacity last week, when the bar was raised from 22,500 to 45,000. Despite pausing the final stage of its proposed reopening due to a resurgence in Covid-19, the government said Wembley could hold bigger crowds during Euro 2020 as part of its ‘events research programme’. After a week in which rumours circulated that Uefa is willing to move the final to Budapest, where there are no restrictions on capacity, and after the mayor of Rome offered to host the match at the Olimpico, that capacity has now risen again.

    Meanwhile, officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) say discussions are ongoing over controversial requests from Uefa that VIPs, sponsors and broadcast partners be allowed to travel to the final without the need to quarantine.

    There are similar discussions over whether, and how, to allow overseas fans into the country for the latter stages. Earlier this week, Uefa proposed that fans should be able to travel into the country in 24-hour ‘bubbles’, where fans’ movements would be restricted to “approved transport and venues only”….

  37. tomh says

    Federal Judge Dismisses Most Claims Againt Feds Over Clearing of Lafayette Square Last Year
    June 21, 2021 KELSEY JUKAM

    WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday dismissed claims former President Donald Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr and other officials conspired to violate the rights of Black people and their supporters by using violent force to remove protesters from Lafayette Square last year.

    Black Lives Matter D.C. and individual protesters who were assembled in the park across from the White House on June 1, 2020, claim in four civil lawsuits against several federal individual and agency defendants that law enforcement officials illegally broke up their peaceful demonstrations against racial injustice with tear gas, flash-bang grenades, smoke bombs and rubber bullets — just before Trump walked through the area for a photo op in front of St. John’s Church.

    The plaintiffs claim Trump, Barr and then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper directed the conspiracy to target racial justice protesters and other defendants participated in the conspiracy and “willfully or negligently” failed to prevent it.

    But U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, said in her 51-page ruling that the plaintiffs’ allegations did not prove an agreement existed between the defendants to violate their rights.

    “…they demonstrate only that these officials were communicating with each other on June 1, prior to and after the clearing of Lafayette Square,” Friedrich wrote.

    Friedrich also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for monetary damages against Barr and other federal officials for alleged violations of First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights….”national security — specifically, the country’s national-security interest in the safety and security of the President and the area surrounding the White House — strongly weighs….”

    ACLU D.C. Legal Director Scott Michelman said ….“Today’s ruling essentially gives the federal government a green light to use violence, including lethal force against demonstrators, as long as federal officials claim to be protecting national security,” Michelman said.

  38. says

    Sorry – here’s the link for #41.

    Noga Tarnopolsky (who doesn’t thread her tweets):

    Day 10 of Netanyahu family sit-in at the prime minister’s official residence.

    ⁦@ZmanIsrael: Every employee of the PM’s residence has been fired but for “one maintenance worker, who’ll remain as long as the [Netanyahu] is there or if the building is vacant. Such a house cannot be abandoned with no maintenance workers.”

    A knowledgable source told ⁦@ZmanIsrael that ⁦@IsraeliPM’s office & the Civil Service do not know what is actually happening at the residence, whether and at what rate workers are leaving & whether some are still there & coming to work.

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